Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Picking a "trail name"

Last Friday at the 8sails staff meeting a couple of us watched a PBS program about the Appalachian Trail. For some time now I'd been curious about what it might be like to hike part (or maybe someday even all) of the trail.

I am curious no longer. I sincerely hope the show was a misrepresentation of the actual experience, because if it's accurate then the Appalachian Trail is the habitation solely of Trail Nerds, white people sufficiently well-to-do that they don't have to concern themselves with anything but hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Quick symptom of the problem: all of the interviewees had "trail names," sort of like CB radio "handles" only with a distinctly more hippified flair.

So on the off chance that I might ever lose my mind and give this a try, I'll need help picking a trail name. Here are the leading contenders:

1. Bryan Whitehead

2. Frodo Baggins (just in case I decided to give in and play along)

3. Jason Voorhees

4. Watongo (do a search on "Deadbolt Zulu Death Mask" if you want to track down the origin for this one)

Email me your fave (or another suggestion if you've got one)!


In site news, a bout of insomnia this morning gave me the chance to finish the rest of the backlogged site updates. Though my original plan was to include more material than just movie reviews for January and February, the fixes were taking too long. Besides, I expect the world can wait until next February for the (currently incomplete) list of our eight favorite Presidents' Day movies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Thor Ath

Last Thursday (aptly enough) I went to see Thor. It was the first of the new generation of 3D movies I've seen, and frankly I wasn't all that impressed. The technology still produces an image that -- except for shots deliberately set up to take maximum advantage of the effect -- mostly looks like a vaguely out-of-focus version of plain old 2D movies. Plus the new tech apparently requires slightly dark glasses, which doesn't exactly help the picture quality.

Further, this particular production didn't take particularly good advantage of the 3D effects. Yeah, there's some fun stuff early on. But for the most part this is a flat movie that isn't made less flat by fancy projection tricks. Plus a lot of the action -- particularly the scenes set on the Ice Giants' planet -- are already dark enough without the extra dimness added by the glasses.

Though I'm not saying the movie itself was absolutely awful, I did find it underwhelming. Maybe it was just the movie I chose, as several friends assured me that Avatar in 3D was quite an experience. The 3D preview of the new Captain America movie made it look a little better, so maybe I'll give it another try later this summer.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Embedding (and not the kind that requires going to Iraq)

My desktop computer from work has now joined me at home, and the sabbatical is officially underway.

The big technical news today is that I'm in the process of creating a web page with embedded Youtube video. When I come back and read this post later I'm sure I'll think "wow, did I really think that was a big deal?" After all, everybody and their grandma can do this. The trick is that embedding involves copying HTML code from Youtube and pasting it into the code of the page I'm creating (a list of videos that are better than their songs, just for the record). The paste can't be done from the design view in DreamWeaver; you actually have to open up the code itself to plug it in.

Again, this wasn't especially hard. But I'm still new enough to this whole thing that I feel all smart and stuff whenever I learn to do something new.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Maybe it's just that Mark Zuckerberg already has enough money

Last night at the ballgame we got stuck in front of one of those Yoda-like (at least in his own head) fountains of wisdom about everything in the universe.

When the guy noticed that I was keeping score on my iPad, suddenly we had to have a conversation about computers.

"Do you know why I don't use Facebook?" he asked.

"Because you're concerned about identity theft?" was my actual reply. Right answer, as it turned out.

Other options that would have been much better:

"Because you don't have any friends?

"Because you don't cotton to those new-fangled computemy boxes?

"Because one of the terms of your parole is that you can't use social media sites?

"Tell me if I'm getting close here."


I've made some progress on 8sails updates since last I wrote, but I've gotten snagged on the entry for April 4. It's supposed to include the March movie summary, which means I have to finish uploading all the March reviews first. Working backward has its disadvantages.

On the other hand, less than a week now before classes end and I can get down to serious work on the Survival Guide.