Archive for June, 2009

Revenge of the SEQUAL

So I just got back from seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Overall, I’d say I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s a pretty standard Michael Bay action film, but it’s got giant transforming robots. So you can imagine I happen to enjoy that sort of thing.

I kinda dug on the whole plot, if for no other reason than it’s adapted from IDW Publishing’s Transformers: War Within: The Dark Ages trade paperback. It’s always pretty cool when they take a concept from a comic and adapt it to the film, especially when it’s a fairly minor one.

Yeah, there’s a lot of Shia Lebouf and Megan Fox in the flick, and neither of them are two of my favorite actors in the world. Lebouf annoyed the HELL out of me in the first Transformers film, and while yes, it’s true, Megan Fox is a very attractive woman, her behavior off camera (insulting her fans and posing nude) makes her extremely UNattractive.

That being said, both of them managed to, for the most part, make me give a crap about the characters. Lebouf was nowhere near as annoying as he was in the first film, and Fox actually did a pretty standard female-love-interest role decently. You get the usual tropes of “young lovers seperated by distance but trying to make it work, girl catches guy apparently cheating but its not what it looks like, both are scared to say they love each other, but a crisis brings them closer together” in this film, but somehow they both manage to pull it together to where you believe it.

But of course, the real reason to see any Transformers film is the Transformers themselves. And we not only revisit all your old favorites, we get new ones to boot. LOTS of new ones. So many that it’s impossible to tell in a lot of cases just who is who.

One of the things I enjoyed about the first film was that every robot was clearly named, and in many cases had moments which showed you their capabilities and distinct personalities. Every Autobot and Decepticon got clear screentime, lines, action shots, and overall a lot of development. You could pretty clearly tell who was who.

The same cannot be said here in this film. Several new Autobots are introduced in this movie, including the Twins (Mudflap and Skids), Arcee (a female Autobot that controls three bodies which transform into motorcyles), Sideswipe, Jolt, and Jetfire. The Twins get the most screentime out of all of them, as they serve as the comic relief of the film, a role formerly occupied by Bumblebee and his “using the radio to speak” shtick. Arcee, Jolt, and Sideswipe pretty much spend the movie as background characters, with each getting one distinctive thing about them shown (Arcee being a triplicate bot, Jolt using electricity, and Sideswipe getting to slice some unknown Decepticon in half and say “Damn I’m good”).

The Decepticons on the other hand….there were a ton of them shown that never got named, never had any distinctive shape or ability shown for them, and never had any real personality as characters. Megatron, Starscream, and the Fallen are about all you get, as they are the central villain characters that the plot moves around. Aside from them, you have a veritable TON of Decepticons show up: very few of them are mentioned have names. You see Soundwave as a satellite coordinating Decepticon activity, and of course he launches one of his more famous companions in the form of Ravage. The Constructicons also show up, but only recognizably when they combine into their bigger robot form of Devastator (and even then only because he is referred to as such in dialogue). What makes it so confusing is that the individual robots making up Devastator are seemingly re-used later on in the film, making them essentially in two places at once, and in some cases, three. One of the Decepticons who died in the first film (Blackout) even makes a reappearance in a battle against Optimus Prime with no explanation as to how he was still alive. Needless to say it becomes nigh impossible to tell who is who, and that bugged the hell out of me.

I understand that none of the new robots are really central enough characters to the overall plot that the film was going after to really warrant a whole lot of screen time, but I would have appreciated some more indivual attention to them, and the fact that individual Decepticons were apparently in multiple places at once points to extreme laziness in the part of the writers.

Sidenote, a quick check on Wikipedia shows that these “multiple places at the same time” Decepticons are explained by the fact that these are somehow “different characters with the same robot forms”. Yeah, that’s extremely lazy all right.

Overall, don’t expect anything deep or overly meaningful here: This is a Bay action movie. Enjoy it for what it is. Because overall, despite my nitpicking about robot re-usage and the lack of development for the newer characters, it was still a very enjoyable film. There’s lots of good things to enjoy here. I recommend you go see it.

Aight, that’s it for now folks. Catchya later

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A little moving around

Hey, don’t know how many of you guys still read the actual blog here, given that most of this cross-posts to Facebook, but if you do, you might notice a few things

First up, my rotating picture script over there has finally been updated. I added some more recent images, but left a few classic ones as well.

Second, the side bars over there have been cleaned up a bit. I got rid of the Last.fm app, since it hasn’t been working for ages, and it’d mostly just list the various podcasts I typically listen to at work anyway.

I also added a blogroll widget. It lists the most recent posts of a few of the blogs I read. Right now it only has a few blogs listed there, but I’ll continue to add them as I find new and interesting ones to read that I want to share. I hope you enjoy them.

I’ve also removed some other link compilations, removed most of the web 2.0 sites that I’m not actively on anymore (myspace, xanga, and delicious mostly) and reorganized my webcomic links. Thinking about experimenting some more with the comics, maybe making them similar to the blogroll listing but with thumbnails, but I’ll have to play around with that and see if I like it enough.

The next thing I want to do is play around with the colors and maybe find a new design I like more than this one, but I’ve got no eye for that sort of thing, so if anyone wants to help out, please, let me know.

Aight, thats it. More later on!

What’s going on in Iran?

What’s going on in Iran? Well, all evidence points to the fact that the recent elections for Iran’s “Supreme Leader” were rigged by the corrupt dictatorial incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

There are massive rallies and protests going on against the electoral fraud and in support of the opposition candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

I just want to say that the internet, especially Facebook and Twitter, have been instrumental in people getting the word out to what’s really happening in that nation. The goverment of Iran has shut down all internet connections to most blogs and social media sites, including those two. In response, people outside the country are setting up proxies for them to safely access these critically important sites. The goverment is also attempting to track anyone using social media to report anything critical of Ahmadinejad’s goverment. Mobile Phone service has been completely shut down as well.

People are disappearing. People are getting arrested for daring to oppose this injustice. We should help them however they can.

Background:
Here’s the ongoing article on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Iranian_election_protests

Article on the twitter help from CNET
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10265462-2.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20

How you can help: READ THESE
http://www.boingboing.net/2009/06/16/cyberwar-guide-for-i.html
http://emsenn.com/iran.php

How to keep updated with what’s going on.
You can use the internet to search for news stories from whatever sites you prefer, of course. MSNBC, CNN, FOX, practically anyone is reporting on this.

But if you want to be absolutely up to the minute date, you can use Twitter to keep track of things.
You can go to search.twitter.com and search for the specific hashtags #iranelection #gr88
However, this may be a little overwhelming.

My friend and guildmate, Loreleisigma, is doing an excellent job of spreading relevant news and help links via her twitter page. Keep an eye on http://twitter.com/loreleisigma and you will probably catch loads of information as it happens and as she can spread it.

My friend (and most of yours as well!) John Fram has also been tweeting links and news related to this. Keep an eye on http://twitter.com/cobaltfram as well

Most of all, please pray. Human beings who only want the freedom that they deserve are in real danger here.

Thanks

WWDC Ruminatings

“Hi B-Matt! Wow it’s been a long time since you blogged!”
Yeah, I know. My own personal life really isn’t interesting enough to write about, and I haven’t decided how to more focus this blog on specific subjects. But I think I have something good to write about today.

“Oh Cool! What is it?”
Apple’s announcements at the Worldwide Developers Conference, specifically concerning the new iPhone stuff.

“Okay, so what’s the deal there? What’s new?”
Lots of stuff actually, but it can be divided into two major groups. New stuff in the software update and new stuff in an actual new model of the iPhone.

“What’s the difference?”
People who have one of the current 3G phones will get all the features included on the Software Update (also called Version 3.0) on June 17th. People who get the new iPhone model will get all that, plus some new hardware features only in the Phone.

“Okay, so what’s in the Version 3.0 software update?”
Lots of things, most of it kinda minor. The big things most folks care about are support for Multi-media Messaging, the additions of the ability to Cut, Copy, and Paste, support for tethering, and the addition of more of the GPS functionality to the API for developers.

“The GPS to the What now?”
Basically it means that App Store developers can use the GPS function to make their own GPS apps. In other words, companies like TomTom and Garmin can develop GPS apps similar to their devices, with turn by turn directions and the like.

“And what was that ‘tethering’ thing you mentioned earlier?”
Tethering is the idea of using a phone with web-browsing capability as a modem for a laptop. In other words, you hook it up to your PC, and it uses the ability of the phone to browse the web over 3G to transmit data right to the PC. So instead of looking around for a Wifi hotspot, you can use your phone to browse the web anywhere you can get a 3G connection (which is more widespread)

“Awesome! So we can do this when the software comes out on the 17th you said?”
Slow down there, tiger. There’s a problem.

“What’s the problem?”
Three letters. Or more accurately, 2 letters, one of which is repeated. A. T. T.

“Whats wrong with AT&T?”
Generally? They’re jerks. More specifically to this case, they’ve announced their networks won’t be able to support tethering -OR- Multimedia Messaging until “Later this summer”. And they won’t tell us when. Not to mention the fact that it’s heavily rumored that they’re going to charge you MORE to tether the iPhone.

“What? But you already pay them all that money every month for the Unlimited Data plan! How can they justify charging you more??”
Like I said, they’re jerks. Actually, they’re far worse than that, but I don’t want to document such obscenity here. I should point out that around the world, other carriers will be ready to support this on Day 1. And many of them have been supporting it for years on other phones. If you really look into it, you’ll discover that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to cell phone networks that it’ll make you mad. Japan, South Korea, most of Europe, and even Canada has access to WAY more features of their phones than we in the US do, because cell carriers lock down so many features and are so pathetically slow to expand infrastructure. It’s disgusting.

“Sigh”
My sentiments exactly.

“So, whats the deal with the new iPhone?”
Okay, so the new phone model is called the “iPhone 3GS”. The S, we are told, stands for SPEED! Bascially, it’s got a faster processor and has some additional hardware features. There’s a better camera in there (3.0 Megapixel), a digital compass for better navigation, and some hardware which supports Voice dialing and other voice-recognition features. It’s also supposedly got better battery life.

“Sounds good. How much is it?”
Well Apple is keeping the 8gig model of the iPhone 3G at $99 as an intro model. The new iPhone 3GS is $199 for 16gig, and $299 for 32gig, with a new 2-year contract with AT&T of course.

“That’s not too bad at all. So are you gonna get one? You’ve been complaining about the battery life in your phone, and you could use more storage. So you’re getting one, right?”
*amused laughter*

“What’s so funny?”
Well, there’s another problem.

“What’s the problem?”
What do you think?

“AT&T again?”
Of course. Those prices I mentioned earlier? Those are the subsidized prices. AT&T only gives you that pricing with a “NEW” 2-year contract. If you try to upgrade in the middle of your contract, they make you pay the unsubsidized price. Which is basically $200 more for each of the models.

“But you’ve been a loyal AT&T customer for years! Surely they’ll let you just renew your contract for another 2 years and get the subsidized price, right?”
You would think they’d treat loyal customers like that, but they don’t. They’re jerks, remember? They’re not allowing that at all. You want one now, you pay the unsubsidized pricing, and your loyalty be damned.

“So you have to wait for your contract to get close to expiring before you can renew and get the subsidized price? When is that?”
That’s correct, and mine is up in April of 2010.

“Wait, can you cancel your contract and just get a new one?”
Good idea, but there’s 2 problems with that one. A) You incur the early termination fee of $175. B) you lose your phone number by doing that.

“So basically, in order to get the 32gig model, the one you really want, you’ve have to pay $500, all because AT&T, whom you’ve been a loyal customer of and never been late with your bill, doesn’t want to give you any good faith to renew your contract right now so you can get the pricing you can afford.”
That about sums it up nicely.

“Wow. Those guys are assholes.”
You watch your language!

“But I’m you. You’re doing this whole interview bit with yourself”
You’re not supposed to let the audience know that. You’re supposed to represent their point of view, ask the questions they’re asking!!

“Sorry!”
Look, just ask the last quesiton, all right?

“So what’re you going to do, then, if you can’t get the iPhone without being ripped off?”
What’m I gonna do? I’m going to sit back and enjoy the 3.0 software update. And then I’m going to wait for AT&T to actually start supporting MMS and tethering. And pray to God I’m wrong about them charging more for it. And I’ll probably skip getting the 3GS, and hope the next iPhone model that comes out is closer to when my contract expires, so I can upgrade without the stupid extra cost