Questions and answers, but mainly questions.

Reviews

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Helping disorganized people stay that way.
This is the craziest/coolest thing I've seen in a while.

After watching this demo I couldn't help but remember the scene from Minority Report where Tom Cruise is using fiber-optic gloves to move files around on his screen.

Not having used this software, I can't decide whether I would love it or hate it. I can't help but think I'd always feel like by virtual desktop was just as messy as my real world desktop. On the other hand, it would make me feel a little more connected to the real world – what with working on a computer all day long. I could fling files around with passion and gusto! Or is this the kind of thing that just propells me deeper into a virtual reality, blurring the lines between what is organic and what is an operating system? What do you think of this?


DropSend

dropsend.jpg

I had to get two really big files to a couple people today. Our FTP has been misbehaving lately, as has our FedEx man. One semi-reliable source witnessed him standing in front of our building yesterday looking for 2929 Carlisle. My witness says he pointed out the GIANT STEEL 2929 on our building, at which point the courier mumbled, "It's after six anyway – I'll just come back tomorrow." Well, I'm on a deadline today and can't risk intermittent servers or incompetent delivery persons.

dropsend_screenshot.jpg
Enter DropSend. I noticed this link sometime ago as it appears after each of Mr. Oxton's posts. Until today I never had a reason to give it a spin. Here's the lowdown:

1 user
250mb of online storage
Send 5 emails (up to 250mb each) per month
Free.

For right now, this is all I need, but there's plenty plenty more storage if you want to pay for it. Because I generally FTP my larger files, I don't foresee ever needing more than the free account. But if you're interested, check out the specs at http://www.dropsend.com/pricingsignup.php.

I thought about taking a whole bunch of screen shots and providing a little tour. Lucky for you (and me, I guess), they've already posted a tour of the application. I suggest you take it for a spin yourself.


Bodies In Motion And At Rest

lynch.jpgI've been taking the bus to work lately. Mass transit has afforded me some downtime to read more. I just finished reading Bodies In Motion And At Rest: On Metaphor And Mortality, by Thomas Lynch. Margie Haack recommended the book a year or two ago in her winter edition of Notes From Toad Hall. Nothing quite takes the edge off the day like laughter and tears. To hell with the guy sitting next to you!

A funeral director/poet, Lynch puts forth a wonderously unique perspective on life. As a recovering alcoholic and a recovering catholic, his stories are dolloped with a peculiar irreverance. The following is an exceprt from a short essay with a long title, Notes on "A Note on the Rapture to his True Love." It's an essay on a little writing exercise he developed, the only publishable fruit of which was the aforementioned poem.

As for the TV – we'd only just lately gotten cable in Milford, and I was up nights channel-surfing between infomercials and religious broadcasting, especially Jim and Tammy Bakker, Before the Fall, we might say. I never sent money or touched the TV screen for healing, but to say I was transfixed by the sermons would be an understatement. A word Jim Bakker used over and over was a word I loved but did not understand. Rapture, as the concept by which (either pre-Tribulations or post-Tribulations) the saved among us would disappear, assumed into heaven like the BVM, had never been explained to Catholic children until it was too late to be appreciated. No doubt Jewish children were kept similarly in the dark. The idea that you might be sitting in some five-star eatery, sharing crème brûlée and other intimacies with a woman friend only to have her vanish in the moment and twinkling, leaving only the spoon and the bill to be paid, filled me with the sense of the Glory of God.

Little musings like these make me wonder if Lych is poking fun at himself or me. The tension therein offers one liscence to reflect and even poke fun at those things we take so seriously. Lynch puts it this way:

There is nothing like the sight of a dead human body to assist the living in separating the good days from the bad ones. Of this truth I have some experience. Many’s the day I would awaken in gloom—a darkness left over from a dream or the night’s drinking or a dread of the day I was awakening to. The moments spent before the mirror while tending to my toilet did nothing to lessen the lessons that Time is certainly not on our side, nor does it heal more wounds than it opens. The ever-retreating hairline, the whitening of one’s beard and mustache, the bleeding gums, the basal cell carcinomas, the boils, and blisters and bags under the eyes, the belly gone soft, the withering member, the hemorrhoids and hematomas, the varicosities and local edemas, the puff, the paunch, the wrecked version of one’s former self that presents itself most mornings, are enough to render most sane men suicidal…It was there, in the parlors of the funeral home—my daily stations with the local lately dead—that the darkness would often give way to light.


Color Schemer

colorpix.gifI actually forgot what lead me to Color Schemer this morning, but the discovery of sweet, inexpensive little apps is always a nice way to start the day. While I haven't dowloaded the full version yet, I have been using the FREE ColorPix app (pictured) for several hours. It functions a lot like ColorZilla, but with some bonuses:

  1. It deciphers color from anywhere on your screen. So unlike CZ, you're not restricted to your web browser.
  2. It's magnifying tool allows you to select a color and then click on the information display to copy the RGB, HEX, HSB and/or CMYK values to your clipboard. (Note: ctrl+click on the HEX value to copy it without the # symbol.)
  3. You can set the preferences to launch the app when windows starts up … ooooh stinker – I just realized it's only available for Windows. Sorry MACophiles – you'll have to drop a Grant (Ulysses S., that is) and purchase the whole shabang. At the moment, I'm getting out of debt and can't afford such frivolities.

What makes this little puppy so appealing to me isn't so much it's functionality as it's community of users. Color Schemer is drawing a bit of a crowd – and a talented one at that. The forums section of their website is repleat with tips, advice and shop-talk. I'm a little gitty over the color scheme gallery. It showcases loads of fantastic schemes for untalented hacks like myself to download and apply.


A List to Leave You Wanting

Dang – I’ve been working like nuts on my new site. Kristin gave me some great ideas last night concerning the main navigation bar. Hopefully it will be all good to go in about a week or two. The possiblity of doing the redesign on Ransom’s site is giving me a lot of motivation to finish donovanworks.com ASAP. At any rate, I apologize for the hiatus over here.

Per Jason’s request, here’s my most recent top five movie must-rent list. Renting has been infrequent at best these days, so this list is a little weak … but whatever:

1. Capote – I don’t know if this is out on video yet, but Kristin and I saw it in the theater (before Hoffman won the Oscar for best actor). It’s really dark and you may want to kill yourself upon finishing the film. If, however, you do survive the experience – wow – what fertile material for discussion. This is just great cinema.

2. Chicken Little – That’s right, I cover all the bases. Another movie I’m not entirely sure is out on video yet – this list may not be helpful for another month! Disney’s first computer animated motion picture, Chicken Little didn’t receive very good reviews. We took Jaimes to the dollar theater to see it – it was her first theater experience and she LOVED it. I also thought it was pretty funny. Beware – it’s rated G, but should probably be PG. Some parts were a little too scary for munchkins under 3.

3. First Descent – I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear it’s AWESOME. Next up in my Netflix queue, I simply can’t wait to see this.

4. The Office (BBC series) – We recently finished the second season. Maybe the most uncomfortable comedy I’ve ever watched. Shot as a mockumentary, each episode masterfully exploits the many absurdities of middle-management Amer … er … I mean Britain. If you don’t like crude humor, but can stomach it in order to laugh at the inappropriateness of it in the work place, this show’s for you. By the way, if you’re familliar with the American version featuring Steve Carell, the BBC series is it’s predecessor and (in my opinon) far superior.

5. Last but not Least is House of D, directed by Agent Mulder himself.  This supposed semi-autobiography written by, directed by and starring David Duchovny was surprisingly delightful.  Why Robin Williams’ character required dentures is still a mystery to me, but his performance was pretty good.  Anton Yelchin, a talented young actor from one of my favorite films, also stars as Duchovny’s childhood persona.
We’ve got a couple films (Motorcycle Diaries & Walmart: The high Cost of Low Price) in the queue that I’ll likely be reviewing in the coming weeks. If I don’t, just get on my case again and I’ll get back to it.

GEEKY QUESTION: Anyone know of a plugin to export a Netflix Queue into a blog?


Netflix, The Office, & Huffing Gasoline

While I appreciate both the culture and mission of independant movie renters like Vulcan Video, my enthusiasm over netflix is unwavering. They’ve taken the customer service and selection offered by the mom & pop’s video store of days gone by, pumped it with steroids and speed and posted it online. Even though most people watch a lot of movies, few people have much variety in their rental hsitory. Since signing up for my 3-at-a-time account, my DVD player has seen more documentaries, foreign films, independant productions, and TV series than my blockbuster/hollwyood video excursions have ever yielded. For the uninitiated, “3 at a time” means that, though I am allotted unlimited rentals for my $19.73 per month, I’m able to rent as many as three DVDs at a time.

The Office SpecialWhile not every rental experience is a good one, the diamonds are worth the rough. On her brother’s recommendation, Kristin added the British mockumentary series The Office to our queue. For some reason we recieved the christmas special first. It was hysterical.

“If you’re leading your troops into certain death, you can’t lead them with jokes – can you. They’re not going to say ‘oi – this bloke’s funny, let’s follow him to our certain death.’ No, you tell them ‘Follow me. Why? Because I said so.’ They’ll look at you and say to one another, ‘look at this fella – he’s got good leadership skills – let’s follow him to our certain death.'”

I’ve probably overlooked these discs a thousand times at the store in favor of a new realease or a “sure to entertain” box office hit.

Ok, Ok The Office won two golden globes in 2004 – Best Television series and Best Actor in a leading role. So it’s not some obscure little unknown sitcom. But had we never put it on our queue, we never would have rented it. When I’m renting DVDs at $4 a pop, I want there to be little to no chance of it being a bad experience.

Love LizaTake Love Liza for instance. We rented it from Blockbuster last night. I know, I know – why rent if we have netflix? We were waiting on two movies and the one at home was some Baby Einstein thing for Jaimes. Yes – we’re that compulsive. We couldn’t wait a day.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors. I marvel at his ability as an actor, but his characters are very often desperate, broken, losers destined to fail (e.g. Boogie Nights, Happiness, Owning Mahowney). Love Liza is no different. Watch the trailer and tell me it doesn’t look like a light-hearted story about a mentally handicapped man who has lost his wife. Well, I’ll tell you right now – Wilson Joel (Hoffman) isn’t mentally handicapped. But he does huff gasoline and he does lose everything. I went to bed depressed. It was a scary look at a really ugly addiction and a severly hopeless man. The difficult thing about this story is that we’re only told half of it. We don’t know who Wilson was before his wife killed herself. Why she did it, though intriguing, is not necessary information. Not knowing from whence came his downward spiral makes it really difficult to identify with him.

I’d be interested to hear other’s takes on this film.


The Book of Questions

In the spirit of this blog’s subhead (Questions and answers, but mainly questions.) I thought I would post a passage from a favorite poet, Pablo Neruda. The following is from the inside sleeve:

“In The Book of Questions, Pablo Neruda refuses to be corralled by the rational mind. Composed entirely of unanswerable couplets, the poems integrate the wonder of a child with the experiences of an adult. Whether comic, surreal, or Orphic, Neruda’s poignant questions lead the reader beyond reason into realms of sudden intuition and pure imagination.”

The Book of QuestionsThere are some fascinatiing elements to this book. For one, on a corporate scale, the questions(only 3-6 couplets per page) play off one another over a span of many pages. Page 10 rings a bit with page 9, and page 17 reminds us of something … what was it (::flipping back::), ah yes – here it is on page 10 – but not so much on 9. Get it?

As a Christian – I also find myself becoming a little unsettled as a I read. Neruda seems to be blasting away some foundations. In other words, I find myself losing my footing a little bit as I contemplate these quetions. Though unanswerable, I am drawn to ponder them. Thinking on this stuff is like drinking that second glass of wine. My heart warms up, converstation starts flowing, but I’m not sure if I’m speaking wisdom or sticking my foot in my mouth. Anyway, I’ll start you off with a tame one and follow it up with a not-so-tame one.

pg.3

“Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?
Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain?”

pgs. 70-71

“What forced labor
does Hitler do in hell?

Does he paint walls or cadavers?
Does he sniff the fumes of the dead?

Do they feed him the ashes
of so many burnt children?

Or, since his death, have they given him
blood to drink from a funnel?

Or do they hammer into his mouth
the pulled gold teeth?

Or do they lay him down to sleep
on his barbed wire?

Or are they tattooing his skin
for the lamps in hell?

Or do black mastiffs of flame
bite him without mercy?

Or must he travel without rest,
night and day with his prisoners?

Or must he die without dying
eternally under the gas?”