This Is How I Feel Some Mornings

hulk-need-coffee

Actually, I can feel this way pretty much anytime the coffee is gone. I like coffee. I need coffee — frequently and in large quantities.

Perhaps I have a problem? No, YOU have a problem. Wait … sorry.

At least when I do run out of coffee (which happens sometimes, let’s face it), I can turn to this.

modern-times-beer

My other best friend.

Happy Saturday. Please enjoy accordingly. I know I will be.

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How Apple Are You?

how-apple-are-you-crop

It should be no surprise to anyone (at least anyone paying attention) I’m an Apple fan. I like the company and I like the company’s products. Quite a bit, in fact.

I like Apple’s products so much I’ve amassed a fairly large collection of them over the years. I even have one of the first Macintosh computers ever made. I also have an Apple II+ (it was my first Apple product) which came out way before the Mac even existed. In 1979, to be exact. That’s how far back I go.

But with all that, how Apple am I really? Fortunately, there’s a handy infographic that can help answer that important question. It can probably help you too.

I did pretty well. What’s your score?

how-apple-are you

Note: I like this infographic, which is why I posted it. However, I’ve never used Mackeeper so I can’t endorse it. Do your own research.

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Rethinking Facebook

facebook-dislike

Like many of you, I have a personal Facebook page. It’s right here. I also have one for The Flickcast. That’s right here. I do spend some time on Facebook interacting with a few friends. I don’t spend as much time as I used to, however.

This is mostly due to having less free time in general, but also because over the last couple of years I’ve found Facebook to be less and less useful for promoting my various endeavors, which is one of the reasons I got on it in the first place.

Now I understand why.

Over at Booooooom, they’ve posted a couple videos highlighting what’s wrong with Facebook and why many people are leaving it. It all makes sense now.

Given the state of things, I may be joining the exodus soon enough.

Because I like you and don’t want you to have to click anything and go to another page, the videos are below.

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Initial Reactions to the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon-Fire-TV-1

As you may have heard, Amazon released the Fire TV this week, it’s own competitor to the Apple TV and other living room devices like the Roku. Because I’m a fan of all-things tech and love pretty much any excuse to check out a new gadget, I ordered one on the day of release.

It arrived yesterday. Over the last 24 hours I’ve had a chance to play with it a little bit and thought I would report my initial reactions.

The Fire TV ships in Amazon’s “Frustration Free” packaging, which is always a plus with me. I love how easy it is to get the box open, find all the pieces and start to get the device set up. The Fire TV box contains the device itself (a small, black box), a small power adaptor, a remote control with batteries and an instruction booklet.

It does not come with an HDMI cable, or any other way to connect the Fire TV to your TV. But that shouldn’t come as any surprise. Fortunately, I have a healthy supply of cables at home, so this was no problem at all. But don’t forget to buy one if you don’t have one already.

Physical setup was a breeze. Simply connect the power adaptor to the device and a power outlet, the HDMI cable to your TV and the device powers up and gets going. As you might expect, the first thing the device wants is an Internet connection. I decided to connect the Fire TV to my wireless network, mostly because I wanted to see how it handled streaming 1080p content that way.

Navigating through the device’s menu for connection to my wireless network was very easy using the included remote. The Fire TV found my network immediately and once I entered the password using the remote and onscreen keyboard, it connected the first time and I was online. So far, so good.

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Analog Tools In a Digital World

pens-and-pencils-and-more-1There’s no doubt we live in a digital world. Pretty much anything and everything can be found online, and more often than not, we create or consume content via a digital device like an iPad, a smartphone, a computer or a television. And given how the world is evolving, it’s fairly obvious this is going to become more prevalent as time goes on.

It should also be fairly obvious, if you’re a regular reader here, at The Flickcast, or a listener of my podcast, I’m a huge fan of technology and this evolving digital world. What people might not know is how much I also love old school, analog tools and things many people may consider obsolete.

Things like pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, watches with hands and more are all as exciting and useful to me as the latest iPad, smartphone, laptop or other piece of technology. I don’t consider them obsolete at all. Far from it. In fact, they are an integral part of my daily life.

Given that fact, I thought it would be fun to share some of the analog tools I enjoy so others could hopefully begin to appreciate them and what they have to offer. And sure, my fondness for these analog tools is partially because I grew up in a time when we didn’t have any real alternatives.

I grew up in a world before the iPad, iPhone, HD TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and all of the other things we take for granted now. Sure, I had a computer (my first was an Apple II+) but the Internet was in its infancy then and to get “online” you had to use a POTS line and a dialup modem.

Yes, it was slow. My God it was slow. But it was amazing too and gave us a glimpse of what was to come.

But to do any real work, I used a notebook and a pen. That’s all I needed. I would write papers, reports, notes, stories and more with that trusty notebook and pen. They never failed me, needed a software update, security patch, lost connectivity or had to be rebooted because they froze. They just worked.

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Some Useful and Interesting Things (Sunday Edition)

Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-2014-Leonardo

For at least a few weeks there I was putting up lists of things I found useful and/or interesting from around the Internets. I would like to get back to doing that. So, in that spirit, here I am with a new list of, you guessed it, useful and interesting things.

Of course, these may only be useful and/or interesting to me. Fortunately, I pay the bills around here, so you’ll just have to take your chances.

Here goes:

• Too much paper clutter in your home or office? Geek Day has the solution.

• Microsoft Office has finally come to the iPad. Who cares, you say? Well, I tend to agree, but what do I know?

• Facebook paid a cool $2 Billion for the Oculus Rift VR goggles and the companuy that created them? But what about the Kickstarter backers who helped make the product a reality in the first place?

• A tale of two pencils. Will the “real” Blackwing 602 please stand up?

• Speaking of pencils. What’s the big deal about vintage ones anyway?

• The new HTC One (M8) looks cool but I don’t think it will replace my iPhone 5s.

• Check out Stanley Kubrick’s annotated copy of Stephen King’s The Shining. Cool.

• As I’m a man and an Altoids fan, here’s 22 Manly Ways to Reuse an Altoids Tin.

• Can the right tools help you write better? I don’t know, I’m just trying to write good … I mean well. Crap.

Finally, here’s the trailer for Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I am not a devout devotee of the original TMNT, so this new version really doesn’t offend me on that level as it seems to have done to others. I’m just not sure it looks like a very good movie. Oh well.

And heck, while we’re on the subject of movies, here’s the trailer for the next movie from The Wachowskis called Jupiter Ascending. See, her name is Jupiter and she’s, well, ascending … or something. I see what you did there Andy and Lana.

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‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ Tells It Like It Pretty Much Is

jodorowskys-dune

As some of you may know, I worked in Hollywood for a bit. I’m not famous or anything, but I did spend quite a bit of time doing what they call “Production.” Briefly, that’s the nuts and bolts, day to day part of the filmmaking (or TV or commercials) process where you pull all the elements (lights, cameras, locations, vehicles, crew, etc., etc.) together and then push, drag, bribe, cajole, beg, borrow or steal and finally get the whole thing kicking and screaming into the light.

It’s an extremely rewarding experience helping bring something that only exists on paper to life on the big or small screen. It’s also a huge amount of work (I’m talking 15-hour days, seven days a week sometimes) and, on many occasions, a monumental pain in the ass.

The truth is in showbiz sometimes shit just doesn’t go right and often a person in my (former) position is one of the few people who can fix whatever the problems are and get the whole thing working again. But sometimes things just can’t be fixed and you have to cut your losses and move on. Sadly, that happens more often then it should.

That brings me to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. In case you’re not familiar, someone tried to make a movie version of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune before we ended up with the one David Lynch (or Alan Smithee depending on the version) ended up making.

That person was cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsk. And this documentary is the story of a monumental failure that ended up changing modern sci-fi movies forever. I have no trouble believing almost (if not) all of what the movie says happened, happened. Hollywood is a crazy bitch sometimes.

Check out the trailer below.

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Happy (Soon to Be) 50th ‘Star Trek’

Kirk-Tribbles

As my friend and The Flickcast podcast co-host Joe Dilworth pointed out recently, it was supposedly about 50 years ago (on or about March 11) that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry first put pen to paper (or fingers to typewriter) and wrote a proposal for a new sci-fi TV series.

His first words? “Star Trek is . . .”

Since that day his creation has spawned several TV series, a bunch of movies, action figures, models, conventions and whole generations of adults of all ages all over the world who dreamed of boldly going where no one has gone before. Those words, and the resulting TV series, had power . . . Power to entertain, to inform, to spark debate and highlight the important social and political issues of the time. Plus, the show was just plain fun.

I’m sure we’ll start to see all sorts of tributes and honors for this amazing and groundbreaking TV series, and the phenomenon it became, as the actual 50th anniversary of the original series, which first aired in 1966, hits in 2016. Until then, let me put in my two cents now and say “Thank You” to Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek for the countless hours of fun and entertainment.

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‘Star Wars’ Visual Effects

star-wars

I find this shit fascinating. Also, I really think the “old school” method looks better than a lot of the the CG being done these days. Models look more 3D because they are 3D in real space, not created in a computer.

Of course, I also still often write with a pen or pencil on actual paper, so what do I know? Well, something at least. I know what I like.

Anyway, check out this great video and learn all about stop motion, blue screen and more of the tricks of the trade that helped make Star Wars, Empire and Return of the Jedi the classic movies they are.

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‘Batman vs. The Terminator’

batman-vs-terminator-1

Time flies. Or is time a flat circle? I get those mixed up. Anyway, it’s been many days since I last put something here and I know it’s time to fix that. I do have an excuse, however. Personal stuff.

Yes, the dreaded “Family Emergency” rendered me unable to post during the recent past. Fortunately, things seem to be resolved for the moment, so I’m back now . . . with a vengeance.

Well, not so much a vengeance, really, more like a an impulse or a need. A need for speed. Or video.

That brings me, not so subtly, to today’s video: Batman vs. The Terminator. Yeah, it’s pretty much as cool as it sounds. Enjoy.

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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Is One I’m Looking Forward To

Winter-Soldier-Comic-1

I don’t always have a lot of enthusiasm for upcoming movie releases. Some of them don’t appeal to me due to the subject matter or I know they’ve had trouble and are not going to be nearly as good as their trailers make them out to be. And some just look bad.

But that’s the nature of the movie business and my, on occasion, fickle taste in movies. Fortunately, a lack of enthusiasm isn’t something I have to worry about with the upcoming sequel to Captain America: The first Avenger called Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

It. Looks. Great.

Don’t believe me? Check out the latest trailer that dropped during the “Big Game” yesterday.

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D&D Turned 40 This Weekend

dungeons-dragons-art-1In case you didn’t know, the venerable-yet-shows-no-sign-of-slowing-down RPG Dungeons & Dragons turned 40 over the weekend. No, I wasn’t in line to grab it when it first came out. Although I was, in fact, alive.

I did, however, start to play the game at a very young age, right before the first set of “Advanced” D&D books arrived. The game was great fun and allowed my friends and I to have lots of adventures. Sure, we didn’t have any “Next-Gen” graphics or “Force Feedback” controllers, but that was okay. Those things hadn’t even been invented yet and we wouldn’t have needed them even if they had been around.

What we did have (in addition to pen, paper and some cool rulebooks) was one of the most important things a kid (or anyone, really) can have: Imagination. With imagination you can see, do and experience amazing things.

Without imagination we wouldn’t have all of the things we take for granted: cars, planes, iPhones, the computer I’m writing this post on right now or D&D. Imagination is the key.

For me, and a lot of people I grew up with, D&D was one of the hands turning that key. That and a bag of many-sided dice.

Happy 40th D&D. Thanks for all the adventures.

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