Star Wars III – Charlotte?

So I put the Sith DVD in the computer, expecting to get the usual autorun “what do you want to do with this disk” query. Instead, it autoruns and starts playing a front-end to its own playback software (like PowerDVD isn’t good enough for George Lucas?). I kill that and look at the disk in Explorer – the DVD is named “CHARLOTTE_DISC1” – what the heck?

Apparently, they codename movies while they’re doing the DVD authoring and mastering, but forgot to change the first batch of SW3 masters to something more appropriate.

Wild Things, I think I…

Just watched Wild Things for the first time. Two things occurred to me:

  1. I really shouldn’t try to watch television with my glasses instead of contacts – the prescription is just too far off.
  2. Never trust a homicidal maniac with millions of dollars.

Of course, I also realize that I don’t get to see Denise Richards’s breasts frequently enough, but that’s really not as surprising.

Watching

Currently, there is some “Western Tradition” university show on my television. I’m not sure how that got on there. Recently, I’ve been watching the old Cosmos series (I’m up to Disc 6 of 7). I guess this proves that I’m a geek. Oh, well. I can do what I want!

Into the Blue is pretty good, for a fluffy movie. No, there’s no deep meaning involved, but it’s still entertaining. And, Jessica Alba is half-naked through most of it, with many shots of her thong-covered bum which are not remotely necessary for the plot but appreciated nonetheless. 🙂 For the other side, Paul Walker does appear to have been carved from marble by a Greek with a chisel. So, ya know, it’s not all for the men.

Stupid Football Season

The insanity that afflicts this country over sports never ceases to amaze, amuse, and annoy me. Here in Varsity Blues Country, the local radio stations play high school football every Friday evening, requiring me to flip over to my personal music collection (15000 MP3 tracks as of this morning) or just listen to the air conditioning. And now, I’m ready to watch the Simpsons and King of the Hill, when what do I see? 9 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Knowing what little I do about football, I know that the “9 minutes” in football time equates to something like all damned night in regular clock time. Hopefully they’ll still play Family Guy anyway.

Stupid steroid-laced men in tights. Grumble grumble.

MTV Plays Music

I watched the Video Music Awards (OK, they were on while I was blasting aliens nearby) the other day. Several times during the broadcast, MTV played commercials which claimed that the recurring meme that “MTV Doesn’t Play Music” is actually a falsehood, an urban legend. Glancing at their schedule on Zap2It this morning, I find that MTV does play music videos. At 5 am. Twice per week. For an hour. That can’t be right, I thought. Maybe some of these other shows with hip and happenin’ names are actually music videos.

Turns out, MTV After Hours plays videos, from 2am to 5am each weekday. And MTV Video Wakeup plays videos from 5am to 8am each weekday. And we can’t forget TRL, which plays about one video per 15 minutes of mindless yammering, and only one hour per day anyway.

So, what do we end up with? On weekdays, there are music videos from 2 to 8 in the morning, which is convenient if you’re a vampire. And then there are videos interspersed with screaming teenaged girls at 4 each afternoon. Being as generous as humanly possible, that gives a grand total of 40 hours of music during a seven-day period that has 168 hours broadcast. Less than 25% music on Music Television.

During those hours when I could watch television, the schedule is filled with endless hours of reality shows and Laguna Beach. Yay.

For those of us who have jobs that require we work and sleep normal hours, this is very entertaining. I guess you could Tivo the videos on some sort of low priority, so if there’s nothing you want to watch on, you could zone out to videos. Otherwise, the “urban legend” is true, at least insofar as it applies to normal people who sleep when it’s dark and work during the week – MTV really doesn’t play music.

Television used to be simple

Despite the things I’ve been hearing from my cow-orkers and family members, the FCC has proposed 2009 as the deadline to change from analog to digital television, and it looks like Congress is going to sign that into law. So, all of you who thought your television was going to stop working soon – don’t worry.

Here in San Angelo, the local cable company (sure, there’s theoretically more than one, but get real) has been in a pissing contest with the local CBS affiliate since the beginning of the year. This has resulted in no CBS channel available on the cable system, free rabbit-ears antennas for cable subscribers that ask for them, and a striking rise in the use of satellite television receivers.

I don’t get the satellite thing. Of course, I don’t get the fascination with digital cable either. Both of them force something on the consumer that is, in my mind, unacceptable – the adapter. This is nothing less than an external tuner, rendering the tuners in my television and VCR useless. Many people wonder why I think this is a bad thing. This can be summed up in one of the marketing points for the local Dish Network folks – they brag about allowing you to have televisions in up to five rooms in your house. Allowing you to have them, you see? Because, unlike television as broadcast over the airwaves of old, the satellite provider now controls your usage of the signal.

No longer can you watch one thing and record another – oh no, your VCR has to be connected to a second external tuner to record something that you are not watching in that room at that moment. Ah, but then the Dish folks point out they are offering a free DVR upgrade, so you can record the full digital signal of other shows directly on this magical box. Ah, but can you? When the television industry is trying to get legislation passed to allow the Broadcast Flag to rise from the dead, when Tivo now puts commercials on you recorder while you’re trying to skip commercials, when the broadcasters are coercing the DVR manufacturers to disallow permanent archiving of shows… Well, I don’t trust a DVR that I don’t control 100%, and the DVR from Dish network would be a DRMed, MPAA-friendly, unexpandable, unchangeable piece of junk to me.

I don’t understand why so many people find it acceptable to cede control of the airwaves to the content providers. There is a balance in copyright law; the citizens are assumed to have some rights too, not just the people in Hollywood.

So, until I can use a standard tuner in a standard television or DVR or computer tuner card, I’ll stick with analog, thanks.

Blu-ray discs to adopt same DRM as rival HD-DVD

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD disks will have DRM that is compatible. Isn’t that nice? Not that any DRM system has ever worked, but it’s great that they can find ways to funnel money into worthless technology that has the only end result the inconveniencing of their own customers. One piece of this technology, ROM Mark, is meant to stop the big pirates in Asia. Want to bet it won’t work?

The other piece is called BD+ and is geared to hindering attempts to crack the encryption technology shielding the content. Essentially, it allows the BDA to update the encryption scheme should the current technique be cracked. If a coder comes up with the Blu-ray equivalent of DeCSS, the BDA simply updates the format’s crypto engine on all future releases, limiting the volume of content that can be nabbed. Does that mean that the existing players will cease to work with newer movies? Hey, great way to punk your customers. Alternately, the system could force all DVD players to have an internet connection in order to have “updates” forced on them at the whim of the manufacturer or the MPAA. Um, yeah, good idea. How many people are ready to hook their television set to the internet?

Explain how it’s possible to protect things my eyes can see and my ears can hear from being copied in some way. Sure, you may be able to slow the adoption of technology that makes perfect copies. You won’t stop it. More importantly, the MP3 revolution has taught us one thing – people don’t care about perfect copies, just decent ones. Nobody can say an MP3 encoded at 160 kbps sounds just as good as the CD, but it’s good enough. Nobody can say that an XVID-encoded 1 gig video rip of a DVD looks as good as the original DVD, but it’s good enough.

So, why bother with DRM that won’t stop the big pirates in China, won’t stop people from making “good enough” copies at all, and just annoys the hell out of people who aren’t geeky enough to read the internet instructions on how to make those “good enough” copies? It’s an amazing waste of money, when the movie industry claims it’s low on cash. Ignore their record-setting box office numbers – if the MPAA says they’re hurting, those crocodile tears must be dealt with.

V for Vendetta Trailer

The trailer for the upcoming movie V for Vendetta is pretty cool. Looks like a decent attempt at adapting the graphic novel, although Alan Moore publicly disavows any association with the movie, even telling the Wachowski Brothers to not use his name in any way related to the film. I guess “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” really soured him on Hollywood.

DVD Progress

We got a MiniDV camcorder for our recent vacation – the best thing about MiniDV over older analog camcorders is the ease with which you can dump the video to a computer for editing, without losing video quality in the transfer. Strangely, I’d assumed the transfer would be faster than 1:1 – maybe it’s just my camera, but maybe I’m just hoping for more than is commonly available.

I’ve got one clip built for the eventual DVD, but it’s the clip from after we came home – Independence Day fireworks at the lake. Added some cool songs to the soundtrack, without obliterating the booms from across the water.

Now, to tackle the hard part – Disneyland. It’s a world of laughter a world of . . . well, it’s not a small video, after all.

Ray

Rented Ray on Friday, finally got around to watching it last night. Great movie. I really liked the saturated look of the flashback scenes – interesting effect. I wonder if Ray Charles was really tormented by the nightmares as they showed, though. Can’t really ask him now.

The demons that possess many tremendously talented people still don’t stop them from producing fantastic work. And yet, many other people are tormented by the same demons and produce nothing of value. Guess correlation is not causation.

Yeah, I know it’s not deep. I’m tired. Daylight Savings Time is like a week of jet lag. And, of course, my job is so exciting I can barely keep up. 😐

TiVo gets pop-up ads

This is yet another reason that I continue to plan on building a non-commercial PVR(Personal Video Recorder) – nobody will control what it does but me.

Hey, you’re skipping commercials with a button designed to skip commercials? Well, we’ll put a stop to that! Tada, we have reduced your functions and keep charging you for the favor.

Geekin’

So, with the one gigabyte Memory Stick in my Clie, I’ve finally gotten around to ripping some DVD video to it. So far, just a Looney Tunes short, “One Froggy Evening,” but next is one of Alex’s movies. Something about Dino Thunder Thunder White Thunder Ranger Thunder Power Thunder I think.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided that a PVR(Personal Video Recorder) would be a cool thing to have, but hearing the stories about the studios reaching into machines and turning off features, I’m a bit wary of the commercial Tivo and MCE products. Then, Tivo starts adding commercials when you’re trying to skip them…

So, I’m putting together plans for a MythTV based recorder once I graduate this spring. Figure nobody gives a 34 year-old graduation presents, so I’ll get ’em for myself. 🙂

Corporate Vigilantism

The MPAA and RIAA want to become their own law enforcement agencies, and the U.S. Congress is aiding and abetting them. This story has a few more details on a recurring trend among the major entertainment industry giants – they are not just above the law, they are the law.

Basically, the MPAA and RIAA want to be allowed to break into your computer if they have probable cause to believe you have stolen some of their music or video files. Since when do we allow anyone besides a legally recognized law officer to decide on probably cause? Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to encourage the entertainment giants to crack into your computer? Kind of raises the level of insanity a bit too far, in my opinion.

Of course, we should all feel reassured by the MPAA’s senior VP for government relations, who says that law-abiding Internet users should not be concerned. Yeah, that’s what a lot of police states tell you – if you have nothing to hide, why be worried about invasion of privacy?

current_mood: aggravated