Yearly Archives: 2014

Sony Pulls Movie, Obama Condemns Sony

I saw in the tech news this morning that Obama went on TV and declared that he feels Sony made a mistake to back down to the threats against them for the recent hacking of their company computers.  The hacking is supposedly over the movie The Interview, that makes fun of North Korea.

The FBI now “claims” that they believe NK is responsible.  I call BS, as I think the US is simply using this as a means to escalate their cold war tactics against NK.  It’s far more likely to be teenagers somewhere.  The hackers put skull images up on the Sony computers, used a goofy name like “Guardians of Freedom” of something like that, and other things that were done are unlike all other cyber attacks that have been deemed to have nation state origins. 

Why would a country (NK) care about a freaking movie, no matter what the movie is about.  So they make fun of the NK guy.  These are people the same as us, not monsters from another planet, I’m sure they have a sense of humour like all people do.  You don’t go to war over a comedy movie.  And this is assuming the attacks were by NK.

Regardless if I’m right or wrong, it’s incredibly poor of the US president to speak out “after” Sony makes a decision.  I’m sure his people could have told him the way that Sony was leaning towards this, and he could have made his statement sooner.  It was in the freaking news days before Obama said anything that Sony was considering pulling it from all theatres.  It wasn’t a surprise.  Don’t forget Obama has a Cyber Czar and Cyber Security department, who would have been following this and likely were updating Obama, or at least his people on this world news event.  Obama waited till after Sony made their final announcement, to say his part and condemn Sony for making a mistake.  Political BS at Sony’s expense.  Kick a man when he’s down.  Who thinks highly of kicking a man when he is down?!

Obama said in his press release that he wishes Sony would have asked him what he thinks before they did anything.  What?!  Again, what political BS.  Why would they or should they.  They have their interests to worry about, and shareholders, and employees, and theatres that show the movies to worry about.  A far bigger picture than what obviously Obama has bothered to consider yet.  And what liability is Obama or the US government going to cover if they do what he wants instead of what they think is right?  Sony would be on their own to deal with the outcome either way, without any outside support.  And again, Obama could have, and maybe should have made a statement “before” instead of after.  Remember he has the Cyber Czar and Cyber Security people that would have known what is going on.

I’ve heard comments about what might have happened if Sony hadn’t pulled the movie for the holidays.  For example, most theatre employees are teenagers.  What if many of the parents of these teenagers were concerned about some sort of attack at theatres when it is playing.  So they keep the kids at home.  Now the theatres are under staffed during the busiest time of year.  And the theatres take the blunt of the abuse in the media for showing the movie, and the media would make up the typical crap about risking people lives over showing the controversial movie.  If that sort of thing happened, Sony is right to pull it, and for theatre owners not to show it.  Why should a theatre owner take a stand and make a political statement to say, we won’t cow to terrorists, we aren’t afraid.  Of course they should be afraid and concerned!  They are in business to share entertainment not make political statements.  And Sony is in the business to make entertainment, not fight terrorism or make political statements.  I think little of Obama for not being able to see the bigger picture.  It’s not his place to decide if there is a threat to kids and families when going to see a movie.  I think the business owners, the people working at the theatres, and the people going to see the movies have a say in what they feel is the right thing as well. 

I am not a Sony fan.  Ever since they installed root-kits on consumer computers years ago as part of their DRM tactics, I have avoided Sony products out of spite.  What they did was criminal in my mind, and they were never held accountable.  But in this case, I think they did the right thing by pulling The Interview from the theatres for now.  Both fiscally and morally.

One thing that hasn’t been considered in most media is that critics have said this is not a good movie.  So it’s quite likely it would have been a box office flop if that were the case.  But now, all Sony has to do is hold back, and release it at some later date, with major media attention and rake in future cash for a stinker of the movie.  All this does is simply turn The Interview into a long term investment.  They will eventually cash out on this thing.

When all is said and done, it’s a movie, not hostages being held at gun point in the desert.  Shame on Obama for using this as a political statement to make himself look good after the fact.  If he wasn’t going to speak up sooner, he should have made no comment at all.

Predestination (2014)

Based on a short story by Robert Heinlein, this is a complicated time travel drama, that includes the trials and tribulations of a young androgynous girl, that is forced into a sex change by medical practitioners of a past era.

This is a very well made and acted movie.  It’s also as far from a main stream time travel story line as I’ve ever seen.  This movie is neither exciting nor fun.  But it does holds your attention like driving by an accident.  The emotions and pain the characters feel will suck you into watching simply to see what happens.

The story is complex and strangely riveting, but I found the open ended conclusion disappointing.



Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

I expected this movie to be lame and overall disappointing.  I was totally wrong!  This was one of the most entertaining movies I’ve appreciated in some time.

If you could take a box and drop in the following movies:
• Buck Rogers
The Chronicles of Riddick
• Raider of the Lost Ark
• Battlestar Galactica
• Star Wars
• The Rocketeer

You would get Guardians of the Galaxy.  And not just the basic plot concepts, but total rip offs of the plot, scenes, etc.  I say this as a good thing.  I don’t think the developers of this movie were shy about steeling from these other movies, they took the best and popular parts of these other shows, and merged them into a modern combined version.

If you are a SciFi or action movie fan, this is a must see.



Switched Blogging Software

As my handful of followers may (or may not) have noticed, my blog has not been updated much lately.  A combination of life getting in the way of doing this (and other equally important things), and my favourite blogging app no longer working.

Up until today, I’ve used BlogDesk.  A quick, simple and easy to use blogging tool.  I was very impressed to find such a great basic free app.image  
But recently it stopped working for me with  Giving me this error:

“XML Parsing Error: Invalid procedure call or argument”

I contacted the author, after a couple days he asked me to send him an error log, which I did.  After a week of not hearing back, I have given up hope for BlogDesk.  I assume it’s a new incompatibility issue with changes to WordPress or, but I don’t know for sure, and I’m tired of wasting time trying to figure it out.  So I went on a quest to find an alternative to BlogDesk.


After wasted hours searching for reviews and trying other free blogging tools, I settled for Windows Live Writer.  I say settle cause I was avoiding having to use a Microsoft product, as all MS products are bloated, have dependencies on one or many other MS products to work, and are typically HUGE installs.  Plus Live Writer is somewhat more complicated to use and learn, and I loved the basic concepts of BlogDesk. 

But here I am using Windows Live Writer, and it works.  No errors, short learning curve, and did I mention it works?  I’ll have no better luck getting support from MS for a free tool than I would from a small company, or a one man developer, but I can likely depend on Microsoft keeping it updated when things change…till they abandon it of course. 

But one thing tech history has shown us, is that Microsoft does not easily abandon products, free or paid.  Unlike Google who abandons products all the time without notice, when someone thinks it isn’t making money directly.  But that’s a whole other rant. 🙂

If BlogDesk has stopped working for you too, give Windows Live Writer a chance.

2014-01-07 EDIT: Six weeks after contacting the author of BlogDesk and complaining that it still didn’t work with WordPress, he replied with this:

I‘m sorry I don’t have a solution for you, but apparently there are
other users with the same problem. If you google for “wordpress” and
“server accepts POST requests only” you will find a lot of pages
talking about this. Please keep me informed if you find a solution,

Walmart Privacy Invasion

Recently I was refused a purchase at Walmart in Winnipeg, on McPhillips St. in Garden City. I wanted to purchase a Fido SIM card only. I did not want to activate it, I only wanted to purchase it. The clerk at the electronics desk refused to sell it to me without seeing and recording my driver’s license. I refused, as I saw no need for my privacy to be compromised for a simple sales transaction.

I asked repeatedly why this is required. The first person had no idea why. A second said because it was policy. I asked repeatedly if it was a government or carrier requirement. He finally admitted it was not a government or carrier requirement, it was a Walmart policy. Those were his words, “A Walmart Policy.” He suggested I buy it elsewhere if I didn’t want to provide my driver’s license. Which I did. I purchased a SIM card direct from a Fido store. When I told them of the Walmart practice, they were surprised and said there is no such requirement from them or the government, and they were surprised that Walmart was requiring this.

I believe this to be a violation of my privacy, and PEPIDA. I have filed a complaint with PEPIDA in this regard. If the government or the carrier does not require my driver’s license to purchase a SIM card (which they don’t) there is no need for Walmart to demand it to make a purchase. In fact Fido doesn’t even request a driver’s license to activate a SIM card. I can tell you certainty that you don’t even need to provide an ID to activate a SIM card online or by phone, let alone to purchase one.

I believe this to a violation of my privacy. And I think this Walmart policy should be changed!

After filing a complaint with PEPIDA I wrote to Walmart’s privacy department and asked for their reply. I received an emailed back from a Dean Dolan, Vice-President, Associate General Counsel and Privacy Officer, Legal Department. In short he claims it is not a Walmart policy, and claims to be looking into this store policy at the Winnipeg location.

Personally I find it hard to believe that a single Walmart store in a chain like this, would be able to create rogue policies that contradict the store chain’s procedures. How would the employee make use of this data if it wasn’t a Walmart policy? I can only imagine there is provision in the Walmart computer system to make a record of this type? If not, it could only mean the employee is manually recording it for his own benefits or that stores own benefit. There is something seriously sketchy going on here with Walmart, either with this particular store, or with their official denial it’s not policy as the electronics department employees claimed.

This is simply my personal experience at Walmart in Winnipeg, and my opinions.

But I’d like to point out to people that you should not be a sheep when it comes to providing personal information. Being asked to literally hand over your driver’s license or medical card to a stranger simply cause they ASK is not something you have to do! Nor does a retail store have the right to record your driver’s license number or your medical number for your records. If they do, you are giving them permission out of ignorance. Under PEPIDA, all a retail store has the right to ask is to view a photo ID to prove it is you, or to visually confirm that the name and address you provided is correct. They have no right to handle your ID as if they are a police officer. It may be a store policy to confirm the name and address for some bogus fraud prevention refund policy. But they DO NOT have the right to record any identity information other than a name and address, and possibly a phone number.

Don’t be a mindless sheep in society, know your rights and question WHY they think they need this information from you. Ask to see their Privacy Policy that is required by PEPIDA to be available to a customer. Demand to see the manager and show you what information is being recorded about you.

And if you think your privacy is being abused, file a complaint with the Canadian government’s privacy department. It’s their job to look into these things and help keep your personal information safe.


Quote of the Day

While watching a new Sci-Fi TV series called The Strain, I couldn’t help but notice a tactful and apt social comment, about what sadly passes for modern day “journalism”. I put journalism in quotes because I believe anyone would be hard pressed to argue against the fact, that true journalism has been dead for years. Journalism is now a bastardized term that no longer has meaning.

“A good story always trumps the truth. Just give the press a villain to hate.”

The Strain (TV Show S01E02)


Robocop (2014)

The story of a severely injured cop that is turned in a cyborg to enhance corporate profits.

I’m old enough to remember sitting excitedly in a theatre in 1987 with my buddy, waiting for the original movie version to start. Discussing how it might compare to the book version that we both had already read. We loved the original movie at the time. Which looks very dated by today’s standards.

In typical modern remake style, the basic original concept remains true. Yet they tweak the story enough to make it interesting and somewhat unique.

Early in the movie they have the fabricated Robocop all in brushed silver, and locked in his somewhat organic looking stasis stand. I couldn’t help notice the similarity of the two contraptions combined had to the robot in little movie called “Saturn 3”, staring Farrah Fawcett in 1980. Not a great movie, but it had cutting edge robotics and animatronics for the time. True Sci-Fi fans should be able to remember this arguably classic movie.

Our new Robocop is a pretty decent movie overall, with one major complaint and defect. Far too many current movie creators are using small SLR sized cameras for certain types of scenes. The problem occures when they do so without use of any “steady cam” equipment, meaning the camera is constantly shaking and moving about, causing distraction to the viewer and even headaches when watching on a large screen. Many of the indoor personal scenes are done with intolerable camera shake and unnecessary panning and awkward movement, ruining the scenes entirely. This type of moving making is for junior-high students making a school project, not for a major motion picture we are paying money for.

Other than the garbage camera work in many personal indoor scenes, this is a fun action movie, that does the original justice.



Ender’s Game (2013)

Have you ever heard a lot of hype about a movie that was based on a book that you haven’t read, and wondered what the fuss was about? Well Ender’s Game was one of those experiences for me. I knew the basic plot of the story, and even though I am an avid Sci-Fi fan, the concept held little interest for me. It seemed to be more of a Sci-Fi story for an eight or ten year old, since most the main characters and story heros are quite young.

It’s a story about a futuristic world where society has decided that video game playing children would make the best soldiers, if they could fight remotely, and be tricked into thinking it was simply a game.

Even though the movie is well made with excellent effects, it returned exactly what I expected, a completely predictable story with a juvenile plot. Perhaps the book is a great read, since many people that have read it tend to rave about it, but the movie is not a great watch overall.



Goodbye TWIT TNT and Hello DTNS

My month long experiment to listen to the new Tech News Today podcast on the TWIT Network has ended. I can’t take it no more! The TNT feed is now deleted, and in hindsight I wish I had done it after 2 episodes as I intended. It’s been rather painful to endure the tedious dialog that now is TNT. It was a show I used to enjoy and look forward to listing to. I gave it a month to see if it would improve, and I have to say it didn’t even slightly. I found little to nothing of interest to take away from each episode, in fact it appeared to be little more than the current host’s personal opinion on two or three topics he cared to discuss that day, with the co-hosts either not bothering or struggling to add some input.

After Tom Merrit left TWIT TNT, I checked his personal web site a few times to see if I could glean where he would go next. I obviously hadn’t checked recently, as I just discovered yesterday that he has a new show called the Daily Tech News Show. And to my surprise it already has nearly a month worth of content. So I will attempt to listen to each show and catch up, as I did with TNT after Tom left CNet. To my delight it seems to have similar content to his TNT show, and with many of the old guests. While listening even to his first two shows of DNTS, I felt it had far higher quality of tech news, hosting skills, and content than any episodes of TNT since he was last there.

I use an app called BeyondPod on my Android phone to listen to my podcasts, and I was disappointed to see I was unable to search or find DTNS in the add feed search feature. So for anyone else that reads this and wants a quick link for the feed, I used:


Post navigation