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Pinkopalypse

When it comes to computers, there are pink components, and there are good components, but there are scant few good pink components. While for most geeks this is not a problem, for me it is as the better half loves the color pink. So, in addition to doing every odd job I could think of to fill my time, I decided to right a serious geek wrong and make the pink computer I know she wants.

I am not a case modder; not by a long shot. I put computers together in preassembled cases. I’m pretty handy when it comes to putting things IN computers, but I am not known for my vast case modding skills. So while this was intended to be a welcome home gift for the better half of 2PhatGeeks, It was also a learning experience. So, I began.

First, we had to modify the cover. The case was originally black and silver and designed around a nicely geeky RPG/Medieval theme, complete with a shield on the front. Unfortunately The XBlade Design wasn’t going to work for the pink happy box idea I had in mind, so I had to do something. I pondered long and hard, several weeks before she left, in fact, deciding what to put on the case…

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This brilliant design, of course, required I cut aluminum approx ¼” thick. I needed firepower. I needed… my first Dremel! It is an amazing machine that I am not at all good at using. But I managed to accomplish what I needed and lined it with a little bit of rubber tubing and hot glue to cover some of my many imperfections… wow, it’s a metaphor for me!.

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Next there was a BOATLOAD of painting. Every peripheral that I could properly paint (as well as some I couldn’t) got a coat of candy pink, white or pink fading to white.

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One thing you won’t see in this next picture is a fancy pink keyboard. While I knew it would be a challenge, Mel had literally worn her keyboard almost out, half the letters were gone, so I figured I had nothing to lose. If things didn’t work out, well, she was due for a keyboard anyway. Good thing I had planned for the possibility of failure! While the keyboard looked awesome, it just didn’t work. The Microsoft ergo that she prefers is made to pretty dang exacting standards that my painting is not up to! I bid it a fond adieu and replaced it with a new one. Anyway, here we can see some of the peripherals. The mouse looks and feels awesome!

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Next I turned my attentions to the case. Every surface was repainted. The chassis frame is completely white, inside and out, while the outside of the case is pink in the front fading to white at the rear. It was far from flawless, as a first attempt, and some minor touch ups were needed, but when I first saw the case front repainted and reassembled, I started to get excited. I think it looks awesome and girly!

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Lastly, as I assembled the case, I couldn’t just let the blue lights and fans stay, so I replaced them with white lights and filled the heart in with a pink bit of plastic from, of all things, a girl’s notebook from Wal-Mart.

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Behold… The Pinkopalypse! It looks so light and airy and girly I think I just grew an ovary.

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So ended my first real attempt at (admittedly very minimal) case modding and I hope the returning princess likes it! I really believe she will. I learned several good lessons for the future… including that 1. The Dremel is the coolest power tool ever, but that they require patience and that 2. I really suck at painting. By the time you are all reading this, she will be on a flight home and will be seeing it by sometime around 8PM this evening.

WELCOME HOME BABY!

Star Trek Rising

These days, with instant feedback about films, it’s easy to get blinded by the sheer amount of data. The sheer amount of press reviewing or discussing Star Trek has made it virtually impossible to actually get a realistic appraisal of the film. Hard-core traditionalist Trekkers have been badmouthing the film ever since it was announced it wouldn’t include any of the standard casts. Early reviews varied from what seemed like screaming fanboy-ism favorably comparing this film with Dark Knight to firmly stating that this film will not only destroy the Star trek franchise forever, but that all films forever will be tarnished by its image.

This film got 95% on Rottentomatoes.com and gets the sort of praise normally reserved for foreign language, anti-American films at Cannes. Was it really that good? Was this film worth the insane amount of hype?

The answer is… well, yes and no.

The film is excellent. In addition to the now ubiquitous good effects, it has a great story, some really enjoyable humor, solid performances (with one big exception) and some outstanding action sequences. Across the board it delivered the goods when it comes to geeky goodness. It’s not difficult to outperform the rest of the Trek films, since almost all of them sucked horrifyingly. Wrath of Khan is the one universal exception to this rule, with the occasional exception of First Contact which was very good. This film is considerably better than all of its predecessors.

The story is surprisingly good for a Star Trek film. It’s even more surprising considering the fact that Abrams himself was never a fan of the series. He presents the beginning of the now famous story line with a certain reverence for the Kirk-Spock relationship. Oh sure, there are deviations all over the place from what traditionalists would refer to as the “canon.” These are neatly excused by the “altered timeline” explanation. Unfortunately the directors/producer felt it necessary to spell it out, rather than go for a more subtle approach. The cast literally explains why it’s perfectly ok if things are different. It felt a little awkward, but since this film was geared more to general audiences than prior installments, I understand its inclusion.

The acting was, for the most part, very good and the interplay between them all was excellent for a fresh start cast. For the three primary characters it was pretty much all gravy. Chris Pine was solid as Kirk. In this alternate history this version of the character makes sense and this guy is loaded with charisma and bravado… and with even a little more recklessness than Shatner’s Kirk. Karl Urban was just awesome as Bones, and did homage more than any of the other actors to the shows origins. They will need to tone him down a bit for sequels to keep it out of caricature category, but he was hysterical and sounded like he was channeling DeForrest Kelley. Spock was… perfect. Quinto captured the character exactly as I imagined a young Spock to be. Every nuance was exactly as it should have been. The interplay between Kirk and Spock was believable and what it should have been. I was pretty nervous about this casting decision, but it was spot on.

The youngish looking fellow playing Chekov, Anton Yelchin, was great and the almost unintelligible accent was toyed with for a chuckle or two. The Character of Sulu was missing one major piece… the trademark Takei voice. The actor, John Cho, was very capable but the casting director should have at least tried to get someone with a deeper voice. Simon Pegg was pretty much as I’d expected him to be: a funny guy with a Scottish accent. They even tossed him some slapstick gags… actually amusing ones. They also emphasized the intelligence and/or ability of all three of these more minor characters, as well as Uhura (more on her below). Each of them was given a scene showing how they are more than a cut above the average cadet; that they were on the enterprise for a reason.

Of course,  there were a couple week spots.

Uhura’s character was depressingly shallow and limited. Sure, Nichelle Nichols was a sexpot in her prime, too, but she was a developed character, even if only peripherally so. It doesn’t seem to me like they picked Zoe Saldana because she brought something of the original Uhura to the role. It honestly felt like they just needed someone who was black, young and attractive. It’s sadly ironic since the original casting of a Nichols was such a ground-breaker. Now, unfortunately, we find ourselves going the other way. They need to develop her a lot more for future installments.

Worst of all, sadly, was Nimoy. We all know why he was there, and his comments about people “obsessing with the minutiae” are right on the mark, but his acting was just horrible. He just wasn’t believable as Spock, which is weird to say since he created the character. He seemed just too… human the entire time. The scenes with the young Kirk were painful. The small scene at the end with the younger Spock was at least tolerable, if terribly cheesy. Even then, however, he seemed out of character, as if he were playing a character based on Spock. He also might as well have been named “Spock Exposition” instead of “Spock Prime” in the credits. The audience is not so stupid that it needs everything out, Abrams.

Fortunately, we were only forced to endure a little of Nimoy and I believe we may very well be spared him in future installments.

Without diving into spoilers, the scenes and story arc for this film was excellent and it is impossible for this new series to tell the same story that the old Trek did. The small change in Kirk’s past and the battle including the Kelvin at the beginning are insignificant when compared to the mother of all time-line changes. Eric Bana’s Romulan Nero, while maybe just a tad over the top, is nicely menacing, neurotic and unbalanced. His character has a believable motivation and there you almost feel a twinge of pity for the character. His is not a quest to rule the universe, but to avenge a very personal loss. Trek’s best villain, Khan Noonian Singh from Wrath of Khan, was driven to his particular madness because of the loss of his wife… and it appears Abrams was paying attention.

With all of the good that this film has, it is simply not the masterpiece that was Dark Knight. Any comparisons between this film and DK are ignoring some major flaws and the fact that while the writing here was good for Trek, the writing for DK was exceptional by any standard. I really enjoyed this film, but it was simply not as good as Nolan’s magnum opus.

What this film is, though, is an extremely solid “reboot” for a series that badly needed one. It’s also absolutely the best Star Trek film to date. It is definitely worth your hard-earned dollar this summer. The Star Trek series has always thrived on TV but severely disappointed on the big screen. Perhaps now that Trek exists only in syndication we’ll see this turn into something more than just a one-shot prequel. This was a great first outing for this crew and if they are given more time, and just a little more development, I think Trek will rise from the grave.

Um… What?

Every day on my trip to work I pass by a carwash right next to the gas station I usually hit . Out in front, it has one of those “insert the letters” marquee type of signs, allowing the message to be changed. Usually it has some sort of pithy little saying related to whatever holiday is closest. For the past week this sign has said the following:

Congratulations to
Tom Falcone
Employee of the
Month!

Not unusual in itself, and way to go Mr Carwash Manager for putting your employee out there.

One problem: This is a 100% automated car wash. No employees… ever. Huh?

Wolverine: Operation Not that Bad

Ok, so like every good geek, I set out this last week to see the new X-Men origins: Wolverine. Reviews in the geek community tend to vary from “utter garbage” to despicable. I’m pretty bored with the wife out of town and decided that even if it’s bad, it’s a good way to waste 2 hours. I went in with no expectations other than Hugh Jackman looking cool.

Unfortunately for the geek community, it seems that it’s film reviewers are now just as unaware of what films are for as the more “serious” critics. The film was fine. It isn’t the moody masterpiece like Dark Knight, but then, what is? It wasn’t the Cinema as Art of Watchmen, but that’s not something easily done, either. It was, however, a decent way to spend two hours watching cool effects and things blowing up.

I went back and revisited a lot of the reviews and read them in more detail and realized that 90% of the sites panning the film were doing so because it deviated from the established canon of the X-Men universe. This is asinine. Either the film itself is good or not. Was this a bit formulaic? Sure, what actioner isn’t? Most comics are incredibly formulaic. But panning a film because Wolverine’s claws come out when he’s young or because Emma Frost and Silverfox were never sisters is just plain stupid.

When it comes to discussing how Canon something is, perhaps the comic community would turn it’s attentions on itself first. There are about 5 million story arcs for every character and it’s not at all unusual for character details to be edited after the fact, or for powers to be changed, added, increased or decreased. So if a movie takes bits and pieces and maybe invents a bit of it’s own, does it really upset the balance of the universe? No. Would it have been cooler if the hysterically awesome Ryan Reynolds had more lines as a massively modified Deadpool? Hells, yeah! But my life is not worse because he didn’t.

What these people are missing is the same thing that more formal film critics are missing. People go to movies (and specifically these types of movies) to be entertained. They do not go to learn. They do not go to be “changed.” They go to escape, maybe have a chuckle or two, and to watch things that look cool. Sometimes they want to see those cool things blow up. No one goes into these types of films looking for anything life-changing.

No one is more pleased that films like Lord of the Rings, Dark Knight and Watchmen exist. I love it when the film is not only full of the appropriate action and effects but also good acting and smart writing. What we cannot forget, however, is that these films are not made only for us! Geeks are many, but we are waaaay outnumbered by regular folks who don’t know Sabretooth’s real name or care about how Wolverine lost his memory! Those folks have asses that fit nicely into theater seats. Those filled seats make money for movie companies that in turn pay for more geeky goodness.

The road to Lord of the Rings was paved by the low quality, campy movies like Beastmaster or Swords and Sorcery. Those movies brought the rest of the movie-going world into the fantasy and sci-fi realm. Dozens of B-grade (or worse) science fiction films kept people entertained enough to keep those seats filled, allowing more serious sci-fi and superhero style films and television shows. You can’t have Robert Downey rock your socks off in Iron Man without suffering through Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk. It’s paying the bills by entertaining; It’s how entertainment works.

By the time you guys read this I will have seen the film I was really looking forward to to start off this Summer: Star Trek. Based on the fact it is getting great reviews, I’m not sure whether I should be elated or not. I’ll let you know!

Pic Dump #1!

I decided to clean out the images on my phone memory card last night, in a desperate attempt to give me something to do. I’ve always loved stumbling across pic dumps and a couple of these gave me a chuckle, so I figured I should follow kindergarten rules and share! You’ll have to forgive the quality of some of these, my camera phone is just one step above a daguerreotype.

Breakfast Time?

Breakfast Time?

Well, you didn’t think we weren’t going to have at least one picture of an animal, did you? Flora’s morning kitchen shenanigans now include table top supervision.

The Mileage of the Devil!

The Mileage of the Devil!

It’s time for the Oil Change from HELL!!

Shindler's Lift

Schindler's Lift

Alright, I find this hysterical, but I’m not sure who else will. This is my elevator at work, made by the Schindler company. Schindler’s Lift! HA HA HA HA HA!

Hi, Grandma!

Hi, Grandma!

This is my Grandmother. As you might be able to guess, she would probably kill me if she saw this picture. I snapped this one while helping her out one day. She’s waving at Melissa in Canada.

Living in Florida is so hard!

Living in Florida is so hard!

I took this pretty much just to brag. I took this about a two-and-a-half weeks ago. This is a shot from the table where I usually eat lunch when I get a chance to go outside. Obviously it’s looking back into the parking lot, but it;s under a great open concert shell like covering and those aren’t just random woods back there, that’s a nature preserve here. We have Owl, Dear, Hawk, Sandhill Cranes and pretty much every small bird in the area. When I took this it was about 78 degrees (25.5 C for you metric folks), dry (for Florida) and with a nice breeze. Yeah, it might suck in the summer, but it is freakin’ awesome the rest of the year!

A Delicate Princess!

A Delicate Princess!

This awesome pic is also my current Cell phone wallpaper. This is what happens when you leave your phone unattended at your desk while you’re working on your wife’s computer. Love you, baby!

THIS is Customer Service

THIS is Customer Service

And last but not least: yours fatly. The next time you feel the need to unload your frustration on some poor, unsuspecting Customer Service Rep, remember this.