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Movie Review: Family Guy – Blue Harvest

When it comes to comedy that touches base with my generation, Family Guy does it on a superb way. In fact, many of the jokes themselves would not be understood by anyone but those that have experienced most of what has gone on while growing up in a GenX GenY period.
That’s why Family Guy – Blue Harvest Special Edition holds a great place in our hearts. It’s a comedy spoof off of the most loved science fiction series of all time. What’s interesting is that they even use the name “Blue Harvest”, which is the code name for Episode IV during production.
It’s in all technicality not a movie. It’s more of a special edition episode, and the first hour episode in the history of Family Guy (including the commercials). Running time is actually about forty-seven minutes. This episode is the first of season six.
The storyline…. well.. everyone that’s seen Star Wars will recognize all of the major scenes. In fact, it’s done in great detail with the usual amazing timing of lines where it just goes from one thing to another and you can’t stop laughing. The uncut version has some deleted scenes where they make some more political jokes, or what not and it has the usual crass language and humor found in your usually late night “M” rated Family Guy.
Definitely not for children, but for those that recognize much of the humor behind it, Seth MacFarlane pokes fun at much of the things while we grew up. And with that, you just can’t help but laugh.

GradientStudio

gradientstudio.jpg When you need a gradient, where do you go? What do you do?
Well, most people rip open their trusty graphics package. Myself, I would probably go with GIMP. But what if you just need a gradient quick? Then GradientStudio could be it. The key to all your troubles.
This application allows you to create gradients and export them as a bitmap or jpeg, and allows you to export the color codes along with html tables. On top of that, you can add gradients directly to images which makes it the supa-gradient-extraordinaire. Freeware for Windows.

Why some causes use email as an annoyance

I recently was outraged with Comcast paying people to go to a FCC meeting and thus not filling the room up so that those that were interested in what the FCC had to say about Net Neutrality could not participate in the meeting.
So I went and filled out a pre-written form at Save the Internet. What really bugged me though is that after it was all over?
The next day, I get this email from the Free Press E-Activist Network about supporting the cause. Here’s the thing. When I signed the form, I saw that it said had it already checked the box to add me to their mailing list. That’s not an opt-in. That’s a forced opt-in. Opting-in is the actual move of actually checking the box. What else bothered me? This line:

Add me to the Free Press E-Activist Network so I can receive occasional emails about important media reform developments

Hate to say it but an email the next day doesn’t constitute as occasional. By any means.
I’ve since unsubscribed from the network, and hopefully it’ll actually remove my email unlike some email lists I belong to where they harass you even though you’ve managed to opt-out and unsubscribed from pretty much every single user automated service they have (nonprofits have some weird software out there that keep coming back to ask you for things).
Word to the wise. If you have a cause, people will join it if they believe in the same thing that you do. But don’t overdo the whole email opt-in just to gather people. Let people be proactive. In the end, if you had a supporter but you annoyed them in some fashion, then that’s the end of your support.
I’ll still have to look into how to get off those lists for that one nonprofit technology network. Ick.
Photo Credit: (krisandapril)

JotSpot reborn as Google Sites



JotSpot after being acquired by the giant internet juggernaut, Google, has been reborn as Google Sites. Sites is a part of the Google Apps suite which of course is free for the Standard version unless you want support where then you will have to shell out a hefty fifty Washingtons annually.
Having played with both JotSpot and Google Sites, I can say that perhaps the framework is there but nothing else is really. TC even reports the same where JotSpot’s structured templates have been ripped out and now it’s mainly just embedded files from the other Google office suite.
I did however find this quote interesting:

In an interview today, Google’s Management Director of Enterprise Matthew Glotzbach called the combined products under Google Apps a “Microsoft Sharepoint killer” because it’s allowing businesses to collaborate without all that expensive Microsoft software.

Sharepoint killer? Come on. If you call the integration of a simple wiki, the beginning of Sharepoint killing, you’re sorely mistaken. I admit that Sharepoint has its flaws but it’s a lot more complex than what Google Sites ties together so far.
Be it as it may, Google Apps is starting to shift from its fledgling status into a more mature product line. As long as the applications that are provided in the suite stay true on their course to more mature products, there is a good chance that Sharepoint will have a run for its money.
As is though, Google Sites barely compares to some of the more feature rich wikis out there. The only great thing about it is the fact that you can do a bit more collaboration and embed Google Docs and such inside it. Otherwise? I for one am not seeing the beauty of it compared to the old JotSpot. Maybe more use will change my mind.

Mac vs. PC – South Park style

Anyone that watches enough television has seen the Mac vs. PC television advertisements by Apple. Gabriel Schwarzer has written a parody of the well-known television commercials in South Park style. This definitely will at the very least crack a smile on your face if you’ve ever experienced any of the issues shown in the parody. Without further ado:

SmartSleep

SmartSleep.png The problem with sleeping and hibernation of a Macbook or Macbook Pro is that you basically get one of the other. Sleeping is good but if you’re almost out of battery life, then it’s really not feasible and you might lose your work.
On the other hand, hibernation saves your battery but recovery is terrible since it has to take everything it saved to disk and load it back into RAM. Joy above pleasurable joy.
So what the preference pane SmartSleep does is it actually has settings where you can set a default time so that if there is X amount of battery time left or percentage wise, then it will switch between sleeping and hibernation. This way, you’re never left without the most optimal solution and thus keeping your battery going for as long as possible before needing a charge. Not a bad thing to have around, eh?

Chasing the digital music generation

Apple iTunes Funny how the ages seem to change. Once there was records. Yes, those 45 rpms.
Then 8-tracks.
Then tapes.
Then CDs.
We won’t even go into the slight tangents of mediums such as MDs (that I own a few of by the way along with two portable players and a sound system attachment). With each generation of music, there were different types of mediums that dictated how the younger generations would grow and evolve. In this current decade, digital downloads are slowly but surely giving CDs a run for its money. Don’t believe me? No problem. Let’s take a look at the facts.

  1. Apple iTunes is the number two seller of music behind Walmart based on volume sold in 2007.

  2. 48% of teenagers didn’t buy a CD in 2007, up from 38% in 2006.

Is there truth in this fact? Sure thing.
The reason for the actual move towards the digital medium is the same reason why my generation could program a VCR better than the generation before. The technology adoption factor. In this age where young people have more of a knack to have their fingers fly across a cellular keypad than us “old folks”, is also the showing of the end of a old era and the beginning of a new.
iPods, and other portable media players flooded the markets as GenX and GenY have grown up and started their own families and … well, the truth of the matter: got jobs. With that, the youth that are growing up as children of these generations are also inundated with the technology adoption. Younger kids with mobiles and music players is a signal for another changing of the guard.
Myself? Have always been a technology adopter and will continue to always be one. The only music I bought this year was off of iTunes unless they didn’t carry the imports. Lately, they have actually been introducing a lot of Asian music which is another sign that things are changing for the better. Why bother with physical media anymore? In this age, it’s about the size of your storage, not the size of your collectibles.

Music Review: The Postal Service – Give Up

A side project of Ben Gibbard, one of the guys behind Death Cab for Cutie, this electronic indie pop group was recommended to me first by my loving sister. Yes, she does know my taste in music, eh?
In any case, when I first heard them, I was going nuts over it since I’m a big electronic freak and DCFC was the rage. So when you hear Such Great Heights, you’ll know what I mean. While the entire album is great indie electronic, I believe I would have supported this group by getting Give Up for just that particular song. As usual, I got my fix on The Postal Service - Give Up. If you willl notice soon enough with the next couple of album reviews, that I must be going through an electronic phase. Dance and trance. Gotta love it.

Back on the grind with Debian

109px-Tux-G2.png Ever since GLUG (Greensboro Linux User Group) started back up for 2008, I’ve been starting to toy with Debian again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been running predominantly an Ubuntu workstation for some time now. But I haven’t really messed with kernels and such for a while.
In between my day job, and my current two business projects of Merchant’s Mirror and Five18, along with prepping for a network build out and grant proposals for my nonprofit (Phoenix Networks) my time has been severely limited.
But I broke out the tiny lil’ Sony Vaio I got as a present years ago and re-installed linux on it. First I tried fluxbuntu, but it just had too many issues that I didn’t care to deal with. So I went back to the old favorite of Debian. Things definitely have changed since I last seriously tweaked kernels and such. There have been a lot of new projects that have come and gone… heck, Gnomemeeting is apparently now called Ekiga. Who knew!
Apparently the computer is so old that the CMOS battery died. Don’t feel like fixing it, but maybe one day. I got most things running including my favorite fluxbox and all sorts of commandline goodies. hostap is still throwing back some issues, but I’ll have it hammered out when I get some time to look at it. It’s good to tinker in the wild world of linux.
All in all, it’s a great feeling. Have this little Celeron 333 purring again. And it’s pretty amusing when you’re booting up with a mere 128M ram. Maybe I’ll actually use this as a notebook for working on some database code eventually. In any case, it’s good hit the grease again.

TinyURL

Sometimes, it’s just annoying to look at this gigantic monstrosity of a URL. Just plain and very frightening. That’s why there are redirection services like TinyURL. What it does is that it redirects a small, tiny url to the giant one. Probably through a database query.
This allows people to not only shorten URLs, but also mask the originating URLs. Obviously this comes in handy as seen with Twitter where the messages are limited to 140 characters. Not unlike SMS services (character limitations), except that SMS doesn’t have need for such things like TinyURL.