Dale Dietrich

friedman: always supply your comparative advantage

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Firefox 3.5 Ticks Along Nicely

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firefox logoI upgraded my iMac and my Windows 7 machines to Firefox 3.5 (available here) today. 

All went well. The total download/install time was about 4 minutes on my iMac – 2 minutes on Windows 7 RC.

This isn’t a particularly important release for me. I was happy with Firefox 3.0.1. But they promised more speed so I gave it a whirl.

  • Snappier: With its new JavaScript engine – TraceMonkey, it does appear to be snappier, but not a whole lot more snappier as some had suggested.
  • New Tab Icon: I like the new tab ‘+’ icon. They are imitated  an IE feature here.  This is useful, especially for news.
  • Moving Tabs Between Windows: Now you can drag a tab out of the browser and a new window will open with that page. Or drag a tab from one window to another. For multi-monitor users like myself, this is a terrific new feature.
  • Addons – Extensions: All my extensions except 1 migrated nicely. I needed to do a manual update to my Tab Extensions 1 extension (discussed here and available here) but that was to be expected.
  • Open in Tabs’ Overwrite Bug: This ‘bug’ still persists in Firefox 3.5 (discussed here ). Alas, as long as the Tab Extensions add-on is available, this is not a problem for me.

See also:

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Wimbledon Roof Closes for First Time During Match

Categories: tennis
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On Monday June 29, 2009, during a fourth-round match between Amelie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina, at 6-4, 1-4. the new Wimbledon Centre Court roof was closed for the first time during a match. (Safina won) The subsequent match between Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka was the first full Wimbledon match to be played under the new roof (Murray won).

The video above was shot by me off broadcast TV while I watched the match.

Click the roof-closing images below for larger views.

wimbledon 2009 - closing centre court roof - first time 1 - pulling tarp over court wimbledon 2009 - closing centre court roof - first time 2 - tarp across and ready to close the roof

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Steep Windows 7 Upgrade Pre-Order Discounts in the U.S. & Canada until July 11

Categories: windows 7
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windows 7 home premium packagingWhile I am rather discouraged that Microsoft is not following Apple’s lead with aggressive Windows 7 pricing (snow leopard will retail for $29 U.S. in September), from June 26, to July 11, 2009, American and Canadian consumers can pre-order Windows 7 upgrades at deep-discounts (50% or more) off the retail price that Windows 7 will be selling for when it launches on October 22, 2009.

Below are tables showing the preorder and retail pricing available to Canadian and American consumers with links to Amazon.com and Amazon.ca where Windows 7 can be pre-ordered at the discounted price until July 11, 2009.

Note: See Paul Thurrott’s ‘Windows 7 Product Editions – A Comparison’ to see a detailed chart comparing the features of each. While I purchased the Vista ‘Ultimate’ edition in 2007, this time I will be purchasing the Home Premium edition for my PCs and laptops. I’ve been loving the Windows 7 beta and release candidate and heartily recommend it.

 

U.S. Windows 7 Upgrade Pricing (with links to Amazon.com)

 

Pre-order
June  26 – July 11

Retail Price
After Oct 22, 2009

Home Premium

$49.99 U.S.

$119.99 U.S.

Professional

$99.99 U.S.

$199.99 U.S.

 

Canadian Windows 7 Upgrade Pricing (with links to Amazon.ca)

 

Pre-order
June  26 – July 11

Retail Price
After Oct 22, 2009

Home Premium (English)

$64.99 Cdn

$129.95 Cdn

Home Premium (French)

$64.99 Cdn

$129.95 Cdn

Professional (English)

$124.99 Cdn

$249.95 Cdn

Professional (French)

$124.99 Cdn

$249.95 Cdn

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How to Get U.S.-only iPhone Apps with Hotspot Shield

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hotspot shield logo With a few easy steps that take only minutes to complete, iPhone users the world round can get access to some (but not all) of the iPhone Apps that are only available in the U.S.. I’m surprised it took me so long to try this.  I just used it to d0wnload the Lose It! which was previously not available to me in Canada.

[Note: Rogers is somehow still blocking Pandora and Skype even when I removed the SIM  card. Grrr! Here’s a Skype iPhone App workaround for Canadians – I haven’t tried it yet.]

configuring a vpn on the iphone with hotspot shield Setup is a breeze. It took me about two minutes. You essentially set up a VPN connection to the U.S. through the HotSpot Shield servers. This, of course, would also be useful for safe surfing at coffee shops and other wifi locations.

Once you have set up your account, configured and activated the VPN (see instructions below), navigate to the App Store on your iPhone. Search for the app you want and (if its there) download it. It’s that simple.

Survives Desktop Sync

I was concerned that if I downloaded apps this way, they would be wiped out after I synced my iPhone with iTunes to my desktop. Not so. The sync went fine and the apps remained on the iPhone.

No Need to Keep VPN Turned On

You only need to activate the VPN to download the app. Once downloaded, you can use the app with the VPN shut off.

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Wimbledon 2009 Live Streaming – Bootleg Version

Categories: interactive mediatennis
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wimbledon live logo Last year (see my 2008 post), both live and downloadable versions of most Wimbledon matches were available to all over the Internet through the Wimbledon Live service for a flat fee of $24.99.

Unfortunately, Wimbledon’s 2009 licensing regime makes it so that honest viewers from many countries, including Canada and the U.S. (see complete list below) can no longer access the service for any fee.

Amercian’s can watch online through NBCSports or ESPN360.com. Unfortunately NBCSports must be using the same proxy-shield blocking technology as hulu because Hotspot Shield users can’t access the site outside of the U.S.

Below, I include links to several bootleg services offering 2009 Wimbledon matches live streamed. Some are fantastic. Some less so. When I clicked around I could usually find the match I wanted to watch in English.

Of course, these only work when Wimbledon matches are underway. To schedule your viewing, the play schedule is here.

Channelsurfing.net

channelsurfing.net bootleg wimbledon live streamingAs far as I know there is no legal way for me to watch streamed Wimbledon matches in Canada. Fortunately there is at least one bootleg service available where Canadians, and anyone else, can view live matches – Channelsurfing.net.

Once on Channelsurfing.net scroll down to the Wimbledon logos and click on one of the several available streams – available in different languages. As I’m watching now (June 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm Eastern) there are 7 available live streams. I am watching the ESPN stream on both my iMac and PC and both are working fine.  [Update: The ESPN stream cut out midway through a Roddick match and hasn’t returned as 11:30.am Eastern June 25]

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Windows 7 Can Natively Burn ISO files

Categories: how-tointeractive mediawindows 7
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windows 7 logo

Windows has not provided .iso file burning functionality before. Rather than use a specialized tool, I have, until now, used my iMac to burn iso files. This morning I discovered that with a couple clicks of the mouse, Windows 7 users can now burn .iso files. 

Here’s how:

  • In Windows Explorer double click the .iso file you wish to burn
  • Windows 7 opens the following dialogue

windows 7 iso file burner dialogue box

  • Choose the DVD burner you wish to use (in my case Drive F:)
  • Select whether or not you wish to verify the disk after burning
  • Click the ‘Burn’ button and you are off:

windows 7 iso file burning status

That’s it. I’m surprised it took Redmond this long to finally include this functionality.

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Analyzing My Second $100 from Google AdSense – in One Third the Time

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google adsense logoMy first $100 in AdSense revenue was generated from my three blogs in approximately 10  months. My second $100 was generated in just over 3 months – from March 4 to June 7 2009. It took 327,383 served ad impressions to generate the first $100,  189,290 to generate the second.

As I described in my ‘Analyzing My First $100 from Google AdSense’ post, for this last three month period I dropped footer ads in lieu of what I hoped to be a more lucrative ad type – inline text ads. I was right. Some how I also benefited from higher per-click revenues (see details below) for the second $100 than I did for the first $100.

Ad Structure

For the last three months each of my sites used the following three primary ad types (channels in AdSense parlance) – each as depicted in the image below:

  • tower ads (120 x 600 down the right column);
  • cube ads (250 x 250 in the middle column); and
  • inline text ads (468 x 60 in-post text ads – below the title, categories and tags fields and above each post entry).

2nd adsense $100 - ad structure on daleisphere

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New iPhone 3G S Announced – Available June 19

Categories: gadgetsinteractive mediaiPhone
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image

  • $199 for 16 GB in U.S. – $299 for 32GB version (on contract of course)
    • pricing only available to new AT&T customers
    • $700 Upgrade fee for current AT&T iPhone users
    • [June 10 Update: Rogers has announced that Canadian pricing will be the same as U.S. pricing – in Cdn $. So, $199 and $299 Cdn for the 16 and 32 GB units respectively. Only available on 3 year contracts again. No pricing for un-subbed units announced – un-subbed 3G iPhones still cannot be purchased in Canada. 8-GB, 3G Units will be decreased to $99. No word on 16GB units]
  • Available June 19 (U.S. & Canada)
  • $99 for prior 16 GB iPhone
  • “up to” two times Faster
  • Voice Control:
    • voice dialing
    • ask iPhone what song is playing and it will tell you
    • tell iPhone to play a song, or songs by an artist or a playlist and it will play it
    • developers can integrate into any app

image

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Leo Laporte Blows up at Mike Arrington on Gilmore Gang!

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I am a loyal Leo Laporte fan. I have enjoyed his TV shows and have been listening to/watching his podcasts and net streams for years. He is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. Honest as the day is long. He is so kind tempered he reminds me of Mr. Rogers. I have never seen him loose his temper, let alone swear on his shows, podcasts or feeds.

 

I admire Arrington as well, but I too have grown a bit weary of his bullying. In light of their history, to my mind, Arrington’s calling Leo’s integrity into question crossed the line – especially when he followed up with a childish ‘… what are you going to do about it” comment.

Normally this kind of thing would have been laughed off by Leo. But I’ve heard Arrington go after Leo’s/Gilmore’s guests unnecessarily hard in recent shows and its time someone called him out on it. It would be one thing if Mike didn’t know Leo well. He does. Leo assiduously discloses all conflicts of interest at every opportunity. Michael knows this.

Good for you Leo! 

[June 9 Update 1: A few hours later Leo recorded a 2nd Gilmore Gang where apologies and explanations were proffered. Click here to access it. It doesn’t start until about 13 minutes in. As you’ll hear, there is a real issue as to whether the Gilmore Gang will continue to be produced by the twit.tv network. I’m of mixed opinion. I fear that Gilmore’s personality and the kind of show he produces is not a match for the rest of the Twit network content.]

[June 9 Update 2: It seems the Internet mob has been tearing into Mike and he has shut down his Techcrunch account on Friendfeed. As I read through the comments against Mike and Leo, too  many in the crowd have been unnecessarily abusive, mostly towards Michael. While I was upset with Mike’s cavalier attack on Leo’s integrity, Michael doesn’t deserve all this grief either. He made a mistake, he apologized. Leo accepted the apology. That should be enough. I’m now feeling sorry for Michael.]

See also:

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Federer – The Best Tennis Player of All Time: French Open 2009

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2009 french open - andre agassi hands roger federer the cup (click images in this post for larger views)

Tying Pete Sampras’ 14 slam titles, and with a career grand slam under his belt (only the 6th man in history to do that – Sampras never won the French), Roger Federer is now, undeniably, the best tennis player – ever!

Federer beat Robin Söderling (6-1, 7-6, 6-5) easily. Söderling took down Nadal the prior Sunday, paving the way for Federer’s historic win. In the three sets Roger:

  • lost just 17 points on his serve
  • wasn’t broken
  • served at 66%
  • hit 41 winners
  • suffered only 24 unforced errors

2009 french open - andre agassi hands runner-up trophy to robin soderling It was fun to watch my all time favourite men’s tennis player, Andre Agassi, present the trophies. Having won the French Open 10 years ago and being the last man to win the career grand slam, he was a fitting choice. It was nice to see his wife, Steffi Graf present the woman’s trophies.

 

2009 french open - federer's emotions pour out just after he wins tournament 2009 french open - federer collapses in front of 'Fed Ex' sign after winning the french open

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Roger Federer’s Designer Tennis Shoes – French Open 2009

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Svetlana Kuznetsova wins 2009 French Open

Categories: sportstennis
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2009 french open - steffi graf presents trophy to svetlana kuznetsova

(click on images in post for larger view)

2009 french open - dinara safina sad after loosing french open finalIn yet another lack-luster women’s grand slam final, the world’s number 1, and my current women’s favourite, Dinara Safina,  was soundly beaten by Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-2.

2009 french open - svetlana kuznetsova celebrates her french open victory This is Kuznetsova’s second grand slam title (the first being the 2004 U.S. Open). Safina has still not won a major. Good for Kuznetsova! But it’s hard to cheer for someone who doesn’t seem to have much of a personality.

On the up side, it was really nice to watch a women’s grand slam final without the Williams’ sisters. It was also nice to see Steffi Graf again!

I miss Clijsters, Davenport, Henin and Hingis!

2009 french open - steffi graf presents runner up plate to dinara safina  2009 french open - svetlana kuznetsova kisses trophy  2009 french open - dinara safina all smiles at trophy ceremony

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Sony’s E3 2009 Press Conference Summary

Categories: consolesindustryinteractive mediavideo games
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sony e3 2009 - jack trenton

Sony’s 2009 E3 Press Conference can be viewed here.  See also my 2008 Sony E3 coverage. Click on images below for larger views.

Exclusive PS3 Games Shown

sony e3 2009 press conference - god of war demo God of War III:  (demo’d – coming March 2010 ) Looks terrific! Except, that is,  for Sony’s continued reliance on quick time events in boss battles. Grrr! But I still can’t wait GoW 1 and 2 were terrific games.

sony e3 2009 - gran turismao teaser trailer Gran Turismo 5 (polyphony – teaser trailer – still no ship date) – photo realistically gorgeous as you’d expect – first time cars show damage in this franchise – still a SIM that is likely only playable by extreme racing gamers.

e3 2009 sony - uncharted 2: among thevesUncharted 2: Among Thieves (demo’d – naughty dog – no ship date – multi-player beta starting immediately) I’m looking forward to this one! Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is still my favorite PS3 game to date. Demo looked terrific but the female lead has changed. Elena Fisher seems to be gone :( 

CONTINUE READING →

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Nintendo E3 2009 Press Conference Summary

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nintendo e3 2009 press conference

Nintendo’s 2009 E3 Press Conference can be viewed here. This has to be the most boring E3 conference I’ve ever watched.  See also: My 2008 Nintendo E3 coverage.

Announcements

  • Multiplayer Mario co-op: (holiday 2009 – yawn)
  • nintendo E3 2009 - wii fit plusWii Fit Plus: 6 new exercise modes, 15 new balance games, available as software-only (fall 2009)
  • User Generated Content: Some user generated DS content initiatives discussed:
    • FlipNotes Studio: animation drawing app (this summer)
    • WarioWare DIY: Microgame creator
    • Mario v. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again – level editor and online sharing (DSi – June 8, 2009).
    • Will be able to upload DSi pictures to Facebook this summer.
  • nintendo e3 2009 - wii vitality sensor Wii Vitality Sensor: Monitor health, pulse. Some kind of health / relaxation / stress diagnostics tool (no release date)
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2: New 3D Mario game

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Bing Drives Traffic to Daleisphere on its Second Day

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I was delighted to see that bing is driving traffic to the Daleisphere on only its second day of operation. Below is a clip from my Woopra dash-board showing the Daleisphere’s first bing referral (that I’ve noticed).

woopra shows traffic from bing

I find this particularly interesting because I do not recall ever seeing traffic driven from Live.com in the past. Until now 95% of my search engine traffic came from Google. Yahoo!, perhaps, drives 2%. I’m hoping bing refers more traffic in the future.

So far I like what I’ve seen of it. But I’m not ready to give up Google just yet. ;)

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Eric Schmidt’s Definition of Web 3.0

Categories: cloud computingdevelopmentgeekinteractive mediamobilepc industrysocial networkingsoftwareweb apps
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Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google. In the 2 minute video below he describes what he believes Web 3.0 applications will be.

 

In summary, he defines, Web 3.0 as:

  • Applications that are pieced together.
  • They are relatively small.
  • The data is in the cloud.
  • The application can run on any device, PC or mobile phone.
  • Applications are fast and customizable
  • Applications are distributed virally via social networks and email.

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Microsoft Games on Demand Service – One Step Away from Microsoft Points

Categories: consolesindustryinteractive mediavideo games
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Microsoft Points Card

In my opinion, the biggest Microsoft announcement at E3 today was made after their press conference was over. They announced a new Games on Demand service (coming this August). It has two important features:

  1. Full Games Available for Purchase on Demand: Microsoft will start selling full games on-demand via download through the Xbox Live Service starting this fall. Following in the footsteps of Steam (and to some degree Sony), this may be a critical inflection point on the path away from retail game sales. The 30 announced games are all older games (eg: Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock). Games are to be sold at regular retail prices (no disk-free, Gamespot/E.B.; disintermediation discount). Nothing was said about the future availability of new titles day-and-date with retail releases. With the service in place there is, of course, no technological reason why this couldn’t happen. It’s just a matter of time.
  2. A Step Away from Microsoft Points: Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows that I am a critic of Microsoft Points (see this post, for example). Games purchased through the Games on Demand service will be purchasable with a credit card. No Microsoft Points required. Amen! Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end for Microsoft Points. 

For details see:

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Microsoft E3 2009 Press Conference Summary

Categories: consolesindustryinteractive mediasocial networkingvideo games
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image

The Microsoft Press Conference can be viewed here. See also: My 2008 Microsoft E3 coverage.

Big Announcements:

  • halo reach logoHalo Reach: Bungie teased this new Halo game, set for a fall 2010 release. Whoo hoo! If its a Bungie shooter, and it has the name Halo on it, I’m in! Is ‘Noble 1’, Will Master Chief?
     
  • metal gear rising logoMetal Gear Rising: The next Kojima / Konami Metal Gear game is coming to the Xbox!!! Holy Cow! The final coup de gras against Sony.  Kojima seemed genuinely happy to appear on stage for the announcement.
  • lyons gate mylo demoProject Natal: A ‘controller free’ , full body motion capture, item scanning, facial and voice recognition. Will work on every 360. See demo here. I’ll believe it when I see it! I don’t believe the Lion’s Gate Milo demo pictured on right. It had to be heavily scripted (click for larger view).

CONTINUE READING →

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The Champ Goes Down!

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french open 2009 - rafael nadal - the champ goes down

When Rafael Nadal’s tripped in the third set, Mary Carillo said this picture will be famous if Nadal goes on to loose – even suggesting a title – “the Champ goes Down”. How prescient! I’m doing my part to fulfill her prophecy.

In what was a surprising and yet terrific match, Nadal’s 2007 Wimbledon nemesis,Robin Soderling (they played a 5 setter lasting 5 days due to rain delays), did something nobody has ever done before – beat Nadal at the French Open. Amazing!

french open 2009 - rafael nadal - the champ goes down - pic 2 french open 2009 - rafael nadal - the champ goes down - pic 3 french open 2009 - rafael nadal - the champ goes down - pic 4 french open 2009 - rafael nadal - the champ goes down - pic 5

This sets Federer up to accomplish three big things next Sunday:

  1. winning his first French Open;
  2. thereby giving him a career grand slam; and
  3. tying Pete Sampras’s 14 major title record.

Assuming, that is, that Federer makes it to the finals next week. This is Federer’s big break. I’ll be cheering for him.

On a related note, Azarenka defeated the 2009 French Open women’s champion, Ana Ivanovic, in straight sets. That isn’t much of a surprise to me. I have thought for some time that Ivanovic was over-rated. Go Safina go!

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Nadal’s Designer Tennis Shoes – French Open 2009

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french open 2009 - nadal tennis shoes - single shoe side view

These are the Nike, Max-air, LunarLite tennis shoes Rafael Nadal was wearing today when Robin Soderling took him down in the quarter finals at the French Open 2009.

Note the four tennis-ball-with-flame insignia’s for each of his 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 French Open titles.

Click on all images for larger views.

french open 2009 - nadal tennis shoes single back view  french open 2009 - nadal tennis shoes back view  french open 2009 - nadal tennis shoes side view

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Terminator Salvation (2009)

Categories: modernmovies
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terminator salvation movie poster 4.5 rating  (4.5/5) action – thriller – sci-fi

Reference: imdb6 | wikipedia12

Reviews: Roger Ebert (2 of 4) | IMDb External Reviews | Rotten Tomatoes 34% | Metacritic 51%

I loved it! Having listened to Ben Mankiewicz’s review I was expecting it to be terrible. Fortunately I had not read Roger Ebert’s rather ill-informed review. I hold his opinion in such high regard that I may not have seen it at the cinema. And, this kind of movie is best viewed on a big screen.

Let’s be clear, I am not a die-hard Terminator fan. But, I did faithfully watch and enjoyed the now cancelled Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series. I suspect that that was a factor in my enjoying the movie as much as I did.

Ebert’s biggest criticism is that there is no story. To someone that is not a fan, that is a valid criticism. The movie makes no effort to fill the viewer in on the back story. It assumes you know it. Both Ebert and Makiewicz contrast Terminator to the recent Star Trek and how it was approachable by regular movie goers. There is validity in that argument.  

terminator salvation - big robot at 7 eleven

But anyone who is a fan of the Terminator franchise or the TV show will enjoy how Terminator Salvation fits into the overall story arch. It shows how John Connor becomes the leader of the resistance and, ultimately, the beginnings of why the machines spent so much time in the earlier Terminator movies going back in time to try to kill him. That is the main story. There is an important side story involving Sam Worthington that I also found interesting. Indeed, the side-story’s plot is the basis for the use of ‘Salvation’ in the movie’s name. To explain why would be to provide a spoiler. 

CONTINUE READING →

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Where Do You Diverge from the Pop Culture Consensus?

Categories: lifemoviespolitics
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From time to time I find myself swimming against the current of accepted wisdom. Below are just some of places where I diverge from the pop culture consensus. I’ll add to this list as items occur to me.

Where do you diverge from the pop culture consensus?

—- MOVIES —-

jar jar binksJar Jar Binks

I liked Jar Jar Binks. What else is there to say. I thought he was an amusing character. I was happy to see him return in Attack of the Clones and the Clone Wars.

 

gigli movie poster  Gigli

I didn’t think Gigli sucked. It was far from great. It would probably rate 2 out of 5 Dale-heads if I were to review it formally. But it doesn’t deserve to be the butt of all jokes and one of the most lambasted movies of all time.

 

 

the english patient movie poster The English Patient

If there ever was a more boring, self-indulgent, overly-hyped movie, than The English Patient, I don’t know  what it is. It was cathartic to see the fictional Seinfeld character Elaine Benes hate on the movie in the English Patient episode! :)  This is probably the only thing I ever agreed with the Elaine character on.

CONTINUE READING →

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The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Categories: classicmovies
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image 3 rating  (3/5) comedy – mystery

Reference: imdb6 | wikipedia12

Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes 89% | IMDb External Reviews

The Trouble with Harry (1955) is not your typical Hitchcock movie. It is, to some degree, a who-done it, but it is hardly suspenseful. IMDb calls it a comedy | mystery | thriller. I agree with the comedy part and, perhaps its a bit of a mystery. But it is hardly a thriller. Rather its a small, sleepy, madcap of a movie (if a movie that slow can be called a madcap) with a good ensemble cast.

trouble with harry - jerry mathers finds the corpse of Harry Edmund Gwenn finds the rather dead (‘Harry’) while hunting. He thinks he shot the man. Remarkably, multiple residents of a tiny hamlet trundle by the ‘scene of the crime’ , even though the scene is a remote hilltop in the woods. Confusion, cover-ups, mix-ups and new-found love ensues.

This was Shirley MacLaine’s film debut. At 21, she was at her buttoned-nosed cutest. She was terrific from the start, playing a recently widowed, single mother. [My all-time favourite Maclaine movie is probably The Apartment (1960), with Jack Lemmon].

What struck me most, though, was how contemporary actress Julianne Nicholson is a dead ringer for Shirley MacLaine in this film (see photos below). If this film were ever re-made, Nicholson would be the spot-on choice to play her role. Better yet, if a movie required a young and old version of Shirley MacLaine, these two would be a perfect match – not just for their remarkably comparable looks but for their similar personalities

trouble with harry - shirley maclaine  julianne nicholson from Tully movie poster 

CONTINUE READING →

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J. Lohr – Estates – Seven Oaks – Cabernet Sauvignon (2007)

Categories: beverageswine
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j. lohr estates seven oaks - cabernet 2.5 rating  (4/5) cabernet sauvignon 

Varietal: cabernet sauvignon | Price: $20.95 Cdn | Winery: J. Lohr Estates | wikipedia icon | Wine Website: Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon | Vintage: 2007 | Region: Estrella Hills, Paso Robles California | LCBO No: Vintages 656561 | Bar Code: 89121 28812 | Alcohol: 13.5%

Description

I am not particularly a fan of cabernet sauvignon wines. This one is an exception, and one of the better cabernet sauvignons I’ve tasted. It has a nice, subtle nose. I enjoyed its intense, yet creamy, spicy, vanilla texture and taste. Like most low priced cabernet sauvignons it initially had a wee bit too much alcohol flavour in the finish for my taste. But that disappeared over time (see ‘story’ section below). According to the label it:

… has aromas and bouquets of cherry, blackberry, violets and vanilla.

The LCBO Website describes the wine as follows:

Every time Vintages released this wine, it disappeared from store shelves at lightning speed! So we decided to make it an Essential to ensure that it’s always available and you’re never disappointed. Aged in oak for more than a year, this densely coloured red is packed with intense aromas of black cherry, blackcurrant, cedar, vanilla, and spices. Full-bodied and sweet-centred, this Cabernet will pair beautifully with roasted or grilled red meats.

Note: This wine is not to be confused with the pricier $39.95 2006 vintage of the same name. I have not yet tasted it. That wine was originally sold in Toronto for $19.95 (see this Toronto Life review). Perhaps it would be a good idea to purchase a case of the 2007 vintage if the price rise for the 2006 vintage is any indication.

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Left 4 Dead

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image 3.5 rating  (3.5/5) – shooter – zombie – survival horror

Reviews: Metacritic 89% | Game Rankings 89.17% | zero punctuation 
Reference: wikipedia12 | Achievements
Walkthrus: Mahalo | WikiCheats | GameFAQs
Developer: Valve Corporation, Engine: Source 

This is not my normal style of game. I hate zombies. I hate zombie games. I fully expected to hate this game. However, given its stellar reputation, I rented it, expecting to play it for an hour, and toss it. That almost happened.

At first I played the single player campaign. I didn’t know what was going on. I was frustrated. I kept dying  repeatedly. The game provides no in-game save option. Consequently I kept getting sent back 20 minutes to the last (rare) check point – a game construct that annoys me to no end.

After a couple hours of futility I was about to return it to the rental store. But, I had heard that it must be played online to be enjoyed. Having no friends with the game I loathed the thought of going online with unruly 13 year olds running off in every direction telling me how much I suck at it. But an amazing thing happened. I had fun.

left 4 dead - hordes of zombies

I was into a game within 30 seconds. At first, I didn’t put my headset on. I expected to hate it and didn’t want to hear others berate my ineptitude. Strangely, 30 minutes later I noticed I was having fun – a lot of fun. At one point I was about to die and then someone came by and healed me. What? That never happens? Where did this sudden benevolence come from?

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