Batman, the original series

The other, while at Best buy to buy a new mouse for my mac, I found the Bluray set of the original Batman TV show from the sixties. Having always heard about how funny and over the top it was, I decided to buy it. I just finished watching the first six episodes and I have to say I am quite impressed!

The restoration of the footage is incredibly well done and the image is very sharp, though there are occasional shots that still blurry. The sound mixing is not so great. Some scene are quieter than others, and the music and sound effects can drown out the voices on occasion. The main menu on the Bluray disks are quite lazy however. Also, most of the time episodes will play one after another but sometimes they don’t and the thing crashes. Maybe it’s my computer, but I am not sure.

The storylines are very procedural. Every  story is played out on the two episode, with the first one ending on a cliffhanger and finished in the second one. Each storyline pretty much start the same way: the villain is introduced/leaves a clue for their next crime, commissioner Gordon decide there is only one person who can help them and Batman is called. They always seem relunctant to call him. Robin complains about something, and Bruce/Batman explains how that something could be the key to world peace and Robin goes “Gee Bruce, you are right…”. Batman and Robin answer the Batphone and go to the Batcave via the Batpoles, take the Batmobile to the police headquaters and them the episode really starts. The stories are actually quite well written, and full of puns. One of the plots involved the Penguin committing senseless crimes and giving Batmen a bugged umbrella so that Batman actually decide what the Penguin next big crime would be and how to do it.

Everything in the Batcave is called “Bat-“something. They have the Bat-computer, the Bat-hidden writting detector, the Bat Nuclear Reactor (which also fuels the the Nuclear powered Batmobile), the Bat-spectographic analyzer, and so on. Even most thing inside the Batmobile is labeled and given Bat-names. There’s this red lever labeled “Emergency bat-turn” which allows the Batmobile to deploy drag-chute and turn the Batmobile 180 degrees. The anti theft system is actually labeled “anti theft system” but has a secondary label that can be place on top of the first that reads “start button” instead. Clever.

Unlike most Batman, he is a deputized law enforcer, instead of a vigilante. He also has siren lights on his Batmobile, like a police car. And he carries Bat-handcuffs. And he always says “In the name of the law, You are under arrest”… And they always run in and out of rooms. They reuse the same footage of the Batmobile turning on driving in and out of the Batcave, and of Batman and Robin arriving at the police station.

It is a great show and if You get the chance, I would recommended buying the series. The production value is very high and definitely aged very well.

“Unite” Lootcrate review/photo dump!

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Yay! Another one! This one took almost a whole week to ship, but I am going to blame Memorial day for that. This box is quite bigger than the first one. This one did get a bit banged up but thankfully nothing broke (not that there was anything to break anyways). Let’s dive right in!

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First of we have this awesome Power Ranger t-shirt. Quite nice indeed!

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Next we have jigsaw puzzle based on the “Rick and Morty” cartoon. I am not familiar with that show, but seems like a nice puzzle.

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A pair of Marvel Comic themed shoe laces. To be honest, the pattern on them is rubbish. The ones I had were in black and white (more like grey and grey) but there was a set in color which looks better.

WP_20150526_16_27_49_ProContinuing on the Marvel theme, here is a nice ice stray. There is four different type of mold: Iron Man’s face, Captain America’s shield, The Thing’s face and what I suppose is the Hulk’s fist. Pretty nice.

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Moving along we have a set of Team Fortress 2 pins… Meh.

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Back into Marvel territory, here is a sticker. At first, I thought it was empty, but the sticker is on the back of the label. Basically, it is in the same shape and color as that white image on the front. Again, kinda meh.

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The Loot crate magazine, which contains descriptions of each items.

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The pin of the month. Sure, why not…

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Some sample magazine from Mad, which contains mostly contains terrible comic strips… Not even sure why this was included in this month box.

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And finally, a free comic book. This is sample from “Bravest Warriors”. I had never heard of it before and seems that I am not part of the target demographic of it. For some reason, every short story included revolved around bathrooms… Beats me.

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And the bottom of the box looked like a locker room. The konami code is a nice touch, and has bunch of pop culture references…

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Overall, a bit disappointing. I would have expected at least one action figure or collectible. The ice tray and the t-shirt are definitely the highlights and the rest is pretty forgettable. Not sure why this one had a bigger box, since it didn’t more than the previous box. Maybe my expectation are a bit high, after all the subscription cost about $15 per box…

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Ahh, three day week ends!

There is nothing like a taking a small break from the daily routine of “wake up, got to work, back to sleep”. Three day weekends is like the new academic breaks, except way shorter.

I went to the movies last Saturday to see Tomorrowland, and I was going to write a post about what I thought about it, like I did for Mad Max and Avengers, but I could not think of anything to say. I wasn’t sure what to think of it in the first place, but the trailer convince me to give it a chance. The music is neither exceptional nor complete rubbish, the visuals are pretty well done and include several nods to Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom parks (you see the Space Mountain dome in a couple scenes, the ‘it’s a small world’ ride makes an appearance, and I guess a reference to the Jules Verne aspect of the Discoveryland section of the french Disney park? Probably a bit of a stretch there) but ultimately, the story is pretty shallow. There are not clear cut villain and the ending is very much open, concluding on a feel good moral about how the future is what you make it and how you should be optimistic about your own competence or something like that. It kinda feels like a promotional film for Science in general. It decent movie with some good humor, but a bit forgettable.

There is one thing that really irked me though. It’s this recurring trope about magical item/experiences, where instead of explaining what happened to them, the hero insist on having others experience it for themselves only to look like a complete lunatic when nothing happens (I am looking through TV tropes right now to see if this has a entry but can’t seem to find one). The main character gets the Tomorrowland pin which gives her visions of Tomorrowland or whatever, but it only works on her. Instead of saying “Dude, I get visions when I touch this”, she assumes that it works with anyone, only like to look like a complete idiot when nothing happens when her father picks it up. She also keeps forgetting that she still is in the real world when she get the visions. I get it, it’s funny, but so annoying! Uhh, whatever. It’s a film. Let’s move on.

Finally got around to paint that Cylon model that I had assembled and primed a few weeks ago. Not the best paint job ever, but good enough. I guess you could say that I should BRUSH up on my painting skills… (what a terrible pun, I know…)

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Also assembled this cool Imperial star Destroyer thingy (which was a pain to assemble):

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I think they’ll make great additions to the Batmobile I already have at my cubicle. I also dropped by the Model store and got a kit for the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E, the one from Star Trek the Next Generation. I have never seen any episodes of the actual show, but they are available on Amazon prime Instant video for free. I’ll try to watch some of it before being accused of being a poser or something.

This weekend was also the graduation day for the Middlebury College class of 2015. Big Congratulations to all of my friends I left behind and here is a piece of advice to them:

Don’t wreck your car into a tree! Trust me, It kinda sucks… Oh and get yourself a credit history before leaving to live on your own. Greatly helps getting basic things like an apartment or a car…

“Mad Max: Fury Road”, a review…

What a lovely day indeed! An overhyped day? Most unfortunately.

I’m not saying it is a bad movie, It’s a great movie, but hardly seem to stack up to what some of the more mainstream media is trying to spin.

I’ll try to keep this mostly spoiler free, but I would still recommend seeing the movie first.

It is a really beautiful film to watch. It exploits the contrast between the clear blue skies and the orange sand of the desert quite effectively but doesn’t over saturate the colors so it still looks natural. The scenes are well shot and the few slow motion shots are well used. The original score of the film is fantastic as well, and they even briefly use “Dies Irae” from Verdi’s Requiem, just like in the trailer.

It is however not as some people are saying “a single car chase scene”. Who ever came up with that idea has probably only seen the trailer and not the actual film (or any movies for that matter) because there is most definitely separate and well defined action sequences and character development moment through out the film. Heck, there are even three fade to black. If that is not an end of scene, then my name is Henry the 8th.

It is also not just a mindless action flick, full of lunatic driving supped up car through the desert for the sake of it (as much as that would be awesome!). There is not really that much gore on screen or excessive violence either, to be honest. Yes, someone gets a grenade to the chest and there maybe a few brief seconds where you can see his open torso full of guts, someone gets their face ripped off (off screen I might add) and some characters have weird mutation/medical conditions but nothing spectacularly violent.

The plot is simple, in a good way. There are no superfluous side plots and plenty of opportunities for characters introspections. The only character that feel really mentally unstable is titular character, Max. But he suffers more from PTSD and paranoia, from events of the previous films, than complete lunacy. It has that depth that I felt was missing from Avengers, though it does have much in the way of jokes. The one thing I found kinda funny is that the bad guys seem to worship V8 engines as some kind of deity, some characters even having full engine schematics scarred into their chests. I am also not sure why people would hate this movie. I can understand not liking it but there is nothing, in my opinion anyway, extremely divisive. I going to file that under subliminal publicity.

I am not sure I would say it is the best film of the year yet but it has potential. I would put it on par with Avengers, maybe even slight better than it.

Microsoft Surface 3: first impressions…

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Some time ago I got a Windows Surface tablet computer thingy. I used it to take note in class and work on things while in college. It was nice, light weight and compact, fitted in my bag and could be easily pulled it out pretty much anywhere, the USB allowed for any peripheral to be plugged in, etc… But it had limitations, it was the RT version of the Windows 8 operating system which meant that, despite looking almost identical and functioning the same way as the full version, there was a lot of things that I couldn’t do. The only web browser was Internet explorer, no program other than the few office programs could be used on the desktop mode, it had trouble with some websites and was generally a slow computer, among other things.

But not any longer because I went and got myself the latest model (and got $100 off for trading in my old one). Here are some of my thoughts so far:

  • The keyboard is nicer than the old one, as it is now back-lit. The clicks of the keys is more satisfying as well. The trackpad is also much nicer and responsive.
  • The home button was moved to the short side rather than the long side. Not sure why. Probably to be “more like Apple”.
  • The screen is bigger, but not in diagonals. Instead it is taller than the first gen model it used to have. so the aspect ratio feels strange as it feels wider than 4:3 and taller than 16:9. Just like the home button, it is probably to mimic what Apple does with the iPad.
  • The on thing that bugs me is the charging port. On the old one it was a proprietary magnetic port (kinda like on the Macbook pro and air), which was symmetric, you could plug it with the cable in either orientation. The new port is now a Mini USB port, which means it can be be charged with a great variety of cables. Convenient but the cable now only plugs in one way…
  • The power/sleep button went from the to right to the top left side of the tablet, along with the volume control, which is a bit confusing. All the ports were also relocated to the right side of the device as well. This makes it more convenient in the vertical position, as all the ports are at the bottom side of the tablet.
  • It runs full windows 8! Which means I can use Firefox and other program I really wanted to run on my old tablet. (You can also install steam and stream games from your gaming computer to the tablet now)
  • The kick stand can be adjusted to three positions now which is nice. The first angle is more for a desk seating position, the second is great when you want the tablet or your lap and the third is… I am not sure what for.

So far, I am really happy of it. A lot of Apple inspired changes, but the new hardware definitely is what makes this one much better. It sure works much better than the stupid Fitbit…

Short general update…

Another week past is another week closer to the next vacation! Things are not that bad here, but man, I sure could use a three day weekend at some point.

Remember that recovery exercise that was a complete disaster? Well, despite the upper management trying to twist it positively, it was decided to have two new exercise because the previous one was such a nightmare. The first one will be in a couple weeks and purely practice for the actual exercise (which should be a practice for the possible real life situation). The next one in June would be the real exercise and I heard that another one in October/November might be possible. I am a bit apprehensive about possibly having to go through the same non-sense that the previous exercise was but I was told that things are usually much smoother. I guess will have to wait and see.

We are also in the middle of migrating to the newer cobol compiler and that has so far been a complete mess, as we expected it to be. not much else to say about that.

In other news, my Fitbit is starting to behave strangely. It is synchronizing to the app as well as it use. It doesn’t seem to like that fact that I only sync it a couple times a day.  By default it synchronizes every 15 minutes but I found that it drained the battery of my phone. I doubt I am mistreating the actual tracker since it is supposed to be something you can/should run/exercise/shower/sleep with. I am not sure if the app is the cause of the issue, either way it only reinforces my belief that Fitbits are overpriced and kinda rubbish.

Oh and I assembled this really cool Bat-mobile model from the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy:

WP_20150503_12_22_58_ProIt was a bit of a pain to assemble, made wish for nice pair of tweezers, but the end result was worth it. Gave it quick paint job with some black spray paint and voila! A nice piece to decorate my otherwise rather boring cubicle at work. Also one one of my coworker though it was a remote control drone… I also have Cylon Raider model from Battlestar Galactica that I have assembled but that I haven’t painted yet. I’ll probably try to do that this weekend.

Oh, and this month’s Loot Crate theme is “Unite”, and is supposed to have Marvel Avengers and Team Fortress themed stuff. So exciting! By the way, if you want to subscribe to Loot crate, just click here.

My thoughts on “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron”

All right. Just came back from the movie theater and after seeing the movie…. I’m not exactly sure what to think of it. It’ like 10:20 pm and this is probably not the best idea since I have to go to work tomorrow, but I going to write what I thought of the movie while it is still fresh in my mind. Now I’ll keep this spoiler free (ROSEBUD IS A SLED!! SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE!!) but I would recommend seeing the movie for yourself first before reading the rest of this.

You have been warned….

First let’s rewatch the original teaser/trailer: 

One thing that really caught me was how dark or even bleak the tone was in this. The music is very epic and ominous, there’s scene of panic and destruction, the Avengers are fighting each other, you can really feel this sense of despair and realize that thing went terribly wrong. The teaser is also filled with strange imagery, like the ballerinas and the beached boats (Small spoiler: that shot is mirrored is the actual movie, boats face right and camera moves to the left….). This is some serious stuff right there.

This gave the movie the opportunity to be a darker and more serious entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but to be frank, it didn’t…

I am not saying it’s a bad movie, quite the contrary, it is really good but it was not what I hoped it was. My problem with it is that it felt to much like the original Avengers movie. It even has the same overarching story structure. The movie has this sort of up beat attitude even when the main character are at each other’s throat. The dark tone of the teaser is nowhere to be seen in the final product. Even the great music from the teaser is not used (as far as I can remember). The best way I can sum it up is: the movie is not dark enough.

I am not saying it has to be super serious and “grimdark” like the upcoming Batman/Superman film but I think there could have been less jokes. The jokes are hilarious but they do undermine the more emotional aspect of the film. When ever something had the potential to have some darker tone to it, it is immediately followed by a joke. Ultron himself never truly feels threatening. He occasionally has spurs of anger where there are hints and glimpse of his true insanity but not enough for him to feel less one dimensional. They never really explain why or how he became so disillusioned by humanity and why he wants to destroy it. It feels like it happened because the plot demanded it.

In “Man of Steel” there were definite moments where you could think about the moral choices and decision of Superman and gave some depth to the movie. He had to choose between humanity and the possibility of recreating his world. It was a bit overdone at some times but it was there. You don’t have that depth in “Age of Ultron”. There is that very clear distinction between good and evil. The Avengers are here to save the world because the world happens to be in danger. There is no quantifiable character development. This is possibly due to the nature of the story. There are too many characters, and trying to give depth to each one of them would drown the overall story. By keeping them simpler, more can be done with the story, but I’m diverging now.

The last thing I want to talk about is the post-credit scene. It is not all that special, seeing how much they were already hyping up the upcoming movies throughout the film (Wakanda and Hel among other things). Supposedly, there will be an alternative ending on the Bluray release, which I can only assume is a new post credit scene rather than an actual alternate ending considering the current theatrical ending (it was rather bland if you ask me).

Overall: it was a great movie but not up to what I had hoped. It was both very satisfying and yet subtly disappointing at the same time. It is showing signs of the “trailer is better than the movie” syndrome.