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I Do Not Like A Christmas Story

Posted on December 2, 2011 in Movies - 2 Comments
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a christmas storyEvery single year at this time I’m bombarded with people talking about the movie A Christmas Story. Most proclaim it is the best Christmas movie ever made and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why. The story is stupid, the characters annoying, and the overall feel of the movie reminds me of a crappy B movie. Not only that, but there is a cable network that airs it for 24 hours straight each year. It is the most overrated Christmas movie.

The movie, which is based on a short story by Jean Shepherd,┬árevolves around a kid who wants a bb gun for Christmas. That’s it. The rest of the movie is filled with “slices of life” moments that serve no purpose to the bb gun story and are only meant to fill in the gaps to turn what would be a halfway decent 30 minute special into a feature-length movie and also makes the viewer think, “Oh, my family is just like that.” In fact, the entire movie feels like a series of short stories (and it is) that are incoherently and clumsily stitched together. How is that good story telling?

Perhaps the reason why so many people in my generation love the movie is because they saw it when they were kids. We all like stupid things when we were kids, just look at the Ernest series, but how does it still hold up for my peers as adults? Do they just watch it for nostalgia’s sake? I guess I can understand relating to that one perfect present that you hoped and hoped for and either did or didn’t get it. But is an entire movie necessary to remind you of that moment. The Santa Clause with Tim Allen achieves the same thing (the dating game and the Oscar Meyer Wiener whistle at the end) and has a great story to tell on top of it.

In my opinion, if you’re going to spend a couple of hours watching a Christmas movie, there are much better movies to choose from. Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

It’s a Wonderful Life
Scrooged
Christmas Vacation
A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version)
A Muppet Christmas Carol
Elf
Home Alone
The Santa Clause

Rest in Peace Steve Jobs

Posted on October 6, 2011 in Technology - No Comments
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steve jobs

I’m a recent Mac convert. I’ve only been using Apple products for the past 4 years or so. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t recognize the importance of Steve Jobs prior to buying my first Mac. Today’s news of his passing has me really upset. I can’t really express in words what his death means to me right now. Also, the fact that he died at the age of 56, two years younger than my dad, makes his death all the more scary.

Steve was a once in a lifetime type of person. There might not even be another person like him. He founded Apple, NeXt (which became the base of OSX) and transformed Pixar into what it is today. He was a great entrepreneur. He will be missed dearly. You can send your thoughts to on Steve Jobs to Apple.

Reverse Scrolling

Posted on August 5, 2011 in Technology - No Comments
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Mac OSX Lion recently came out and one of the things that people either love or hate about the OS is the reverse scrolling. Apple took years and years of mouse knowledge and literally reversed it. In Lion you no longer scroll the scroll wheel on your mouse down to move the page down. You scroll up.

A lot of people hate the new way of scrolling (and, for those people, Apple has made a preference to go back to normal scrolling), but I think, given time, they will see how much sense it actually makes. When you look at a computer screen and really think about it, scrolling the scroll bars really makes no sense. Why are you scrolling bars and not the actual content?

That’s exactly what Apple is thinking with their barless approach. The meat of your computer is the content. That is what you should be focusing on, and not the scroll bar. When you move your finger down on a scroll bar you’re moving the content up, just like you do on phones and tablets. You’re interacting with the content, not a scrollbar. In my opinion this is the way we should be looking at the computer. Computers are no longer tools that spit back information. They are interactive devices, and we need to start thinking of them that way. With multitouch devices such as the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, you really are interacting with computers in a whole new way.

After using the reverse scrolling for a couple weeks, I’m completely used to it. I did have some issues in the beginning because I use Windows 7 at work. Thankfully, someone on Google+ posted how to get reverse scrolling on Windows. It really is quite simple. Just place the script in your Startup folder and now you have reverse scrolling whenever you log into Windows. Scrolling any other way would feel unnatural now.

The Death of Software

Posted on July 24, 2011 in Software - No Comments
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When I bought my PS3 I searched high and low for a solution to stream media from my Mac to the PS3. There were solutions for Windows, but very few for the Mac. I finally found a piece of software called Rivet. I tested out the trial and it did exactly what I wanted/needed it to do. The software had a healthy life with frequent updates. Then updates started coming more and more sparse. Luckily, the software continued to work with each PS3 software update. Recently, it stopped working. All my media would come up on the PS3 as Unsupported Data. I visit the Rivet website and find no new updates. I check on the company’s blog and find out they are shutting it down.

I have no problem with a piece of software I’ve used for a year and a half no longer being developed. It becomes more a problem when it’s software that I’ve paid for, but can certainly understand the circumstances surrounding the app’s end. Resources in a small business are limited and you have to devote them to the software that sells the best and/or is not a constant burden to keep running (I imagine keeping it up to date with all of Sony’s updates was probably more difficult than just launching the software and running it proved). Here’s my question though: If you can’t develop it anymore and aren’t going to sell it, why not release it into the wild? Let the open source community take control of the software and make the updates. I know there’s a need for the software out there, it would be best to let the people who are actually interested in it take control of the project. That’s not what’s happening though. They are just shutting it down completely. That’s a shame.

On the same subject, I did have to find a replacement for Rivet and that came in PlayBack. Looking at the app, it is pretty much the exact same app. The UI, the functionality, everything is the same. I don’t know if someone purchased the old Rivet code and decided to maintain it or if it’s just a complete rip of someone else’s work, but it suits the needs that Rivet used to fill. The downside is I had to pay $15 for what appears to be the exact same software I already paid $20 for before. Such is life I guess.

Backup Awareness Month

Posted on June 9, 2011 in Technology - No Comments
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June is backup awareness month. It is important that you have some kind of backup plan in place. Whether you backup your files to CDs, DVDs, tapes, external hard drives, or online, you should always have a plan in order in case the unthinkable happens. Your hard drive will fail at some point, will you be ready when it does?

I will give you some insight into how I backup my important files.

First off, I backup all my important files and media to the “cloud” via CrashPlan. The data that I backup there includes mp3s, video files, documents, and pictures. It runs all day. Whenever it detects changes it encrypts the files and uploads the new file or new versions of the file.

All my entertainment media (video files and mp3s) are located on a 2tb external hard drive. This drive is mirrored to a second 2tb external hard drive. The mirroring process is handled by Carbon Copy Cloner and runs every Sunday. That way I have a local copy of all my media in case a drive goes down and I won’t have to download 400+gb from CrashPlan.

My iMac’s home directory is copied to the media drive every Sunday. This is done via CrashPlan’s backup to another hard drive feature. That way, when Carbon Copy Cloner runs, it also copies the home directory backup to the backup. Essentially, I have 3 local copies of my home directory: the original, the backup on the media drive, and the backup of the backup on the mirrored drive.

If that’s not enough for you, I have another backup drive that is used for Time Machine backups that only backs up my iMac’s hard drive (so it does not backup my media as that is all on an external drive larger than the Time Machine volume). I only back this up when my iMac warns me that it hasn’t been backed up using Time Machine in 10 days. I mainly use this in case something happens and I need to restore things such as preference panes and other machine configurations that aren’t backed up using my other methods.

Do you do backups? What does your backup plan look like?