May 18, 2004

Lucas Strikes Back

Ain't It Cool News has posted this screen capture allegedly taken from the upcoming DVD release of the original Star Wars trilogy:


I looks a bit like a Photoshop job to me. Still, if Lucas is really planning to go down this road, it seems a bit unfair that Dark Side poster boy Anakin would get to spend eternity with a hip, youthful astral projection, whereas good guys Obi-Wan and Yoda get stuck as a septuagenarian and a Muppet, respectively.

Posted by Jess at 04:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 04, 2004

Judging a book by its cover

At issue: Is A.C. Crispin's Time for Yesterday the geekiest book ever?

Exhibit A:

Time for Yesterday

The evidence:

  • It's a Star Trek novel.
  • It's a Star Trek novel with Mr. Spock -- arguably the geekiest of all Trek icons -- on the cover.
  • It's a Star Trek novel that not only features Mr. Spock on the cover, but also a Conan the Barbarian look-alike in the background.
  • The Conan look-alike is wielding a sword that's approximately four feet long.
  • And he has pointy ears.
  • And he's Spock's time-traveling son from the past.
  • Finally, while the creature he's riding isn't technically a unicorn, it does have a horn protruding from its head.

The verdict: Time for Yesterday is, without a doubt, one geeky book. Ergo, it's probably not in my best interest to be spotted reading it in public -- especially while I'm administering a final exam to my students tomorrow morning.

Posted by Jess at 06:46 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Report to the bridge, Ensign Crusher

Upon tuning in to TechTV's Call for Help the other day and discovering that Wil Wheaton was guest-hosting, I was tempted to call and say something along the lines of, "You've got to help me! I'm trapped on the holodeck, the safety protocols are disabled, and a holographic Professor Moriarty is trying to take over the ship! What should I do? You're our only hope, Wesley!"

How's that for a call for help?

Posted by Jess at 07:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 22, 2004

Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.

Teedz just clued me in to this eBay auction: a recreation of the time-traveling DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. A couple of photos -- including the all-important Flux Capacitor that makes time travel possible (larger images can be seen on the auction page):

Are you telling me you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean? Flux-capacitor... fluxing...

If you plan to bid, be sure to confirm with your car insurance company whether your policy covers damage resulting from temporal paradoxes.

Posted by Jess at 05:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 01, 2004

Making fun of George Lucas is like shooting wamp rats in a barrel

Of all the April Fools' gags I stumbled across on the Web today, my favorite by far is this page of "leaked" clips from the upcoming Star Wars Original Trilogy DVDs -- complete with tongue-in-cheek commentary from "George Lucas" himself!

Update (10:55PM): Runner-up for the best April Fools' gag goes to the Brothers Chaps for their faux hijacked domain over at Homestar Runner. 20X6!

Posted by Jess at 08:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 07, 2004

A Hard Hobbit to Break

The Associated Press confirmed yesterday that Peter Jackson is planning to film The Hobbit -- after a few legal kinks are worked out, of course:

'Hobbitt,' 'Rings' Prequel, in the Works

NEW YORK (AP) - Peter Jackson won't be returning to the Shire any time soon. The Oscar-winning director is planning to film "The Hobbit," the prequel to "The Lord of the Rings," trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, but two studios must first fight over legal rights to the film.

Jackson said New Line Cinema has the rights to make the movie, but MGM has the rights to distribute it.

"I guess MGM's lawyers and New Line's lawyers are going to have a huge amount of fun over the next few years trying to work it all out," he told reporters recently in Los Angeles, according to AP Radio. "I'm obviously busy for a couple of years on 'King Kong' so those lawyers can just go at it for a long time." (more)

Link, oddly enough, via Wil Wheaton.

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February 18, 2004

The Spider-Man Covers Project

Wow -- the Spider-Man Cover Archive offers cover scans of virtually every Spidey comic book ever published.


I've always loved that cover. The link is via Groonk and Boing Boing.

Posted by Jess at 05:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2004

More tech support fun

It turns out that I'm not the only person having Internet connectivity problems lately. I just heard from my mom she had to call her ISP this morning due to an outage in service. They told her that she probably needed to reinstall Windows to fix the problem. Being the savvy computer user that she is, my mom refused and asked instead if the problem could possibly be on their end. The response?

"Uh...we're pretty sure that the problem isn't on our end, because you're the first person who's called."

Now, I've never studied logic formally, but doesn't someone always have to be the first person to call in these situations? Fortunately, it turned out to be a moot point. An hour later, my mom tried to connect again (without making any changes on her end, I should add) and it worked fine. Neither of us was particularly surprised.

Posted by Jess at 04:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

Please hold while we transfer you

Dear Faceless Technical Support Entity,

While I appreciate your concerns about my recent Internet downtime, I cannot help but notice that I am still unable to connect from my home computer. In the interest of making future technical support inquiries more efficient and productive, please take the following points into account:

  1. I did not install -- nor have I ever installed -- any software that secretly changed my network settings. In fact, I am not immediately aware of any programs that perform such nefarious functions.
  2. I am currently running an up-to-date anti-virus program, a spyware detector, and a firewall. Therefore, I am relatively certain that I have not acquired a virus, trojan horse, or other malware that has attacked and disabled my Internet connection. Furthermore, considering most viruses, spyware, and trojan horses tend to rely on the Internet to either mass mail themselves or transmit personal data, such a hypothesis seems somewhat counterintuitive on its face.
  3. Yes, my cable modem is plugged in. Thanks for asking.
  4. While I realize that it is far-fetched to assume that the problem could be on your end (although this is in fact what we ascertained after 45 minutes on the phone yesterday), would it be possible in the future to check whether my area is currently experiencing any outages before you walk me through manually resetting all my network settings -- not to mention a full Windows system restore? Just a suggestion.
Thanks for your time and continued efforts to make my time spent on the Internet both fun and productive.

All my love,


Posted by Jess at 08:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 02, 2004

Better late than never

By now, we're all familiar with Microsoft's recent move to shut down Canadian teen Mike Rowe's domain (they eventually settled for simply bribing him to take it down on his own). Still, I can't help but wonder if Mike decided launched a website dedicated to samples of his writing -- without metrical structure, mind you -- would he have to worry about similar legal action from computer game publisher MicroProse?


I know, I would have been funnier a week ago. And it really helps if you happen to be a computer geek.

Posted by Jess at 10:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 28, 2003

Be warned that this entry is backed by NUCLEAR WEAPONS!

I recently made the terrible mistake of buying a ten-dollar copy of Civilization 3 from the Circuit City bargain bin to kill some time while my wife studies for her upcoming board exams. Needless to say, the game has consumed a ridiculous amount of my time over the past few days--just like Civilization, Civilization 2, and Alpha Centauri before it. In fact, it's gotten so bad that I'm seriously considering asking my wife to hide the CD-ROM from me so I won't be tempted to spend my every waking moment playing the game. If my condition doesn't show dramatic improvement in the very near future, I think I might need an intervention.

The worst part is that I'm not even particularly enjoying playing it. In fact, playing Civilization 3 seems to put me in a bad mood more than anything else. Nevertheless, I feel compelled by some unknown force to keep slaving away at moving tiny little tiles around my screen for hours on end. Now that I think about it, though, I had almost the exact same experience with SimCity 3000. Maybe I just need to avoid the city/empire building genre altogether.

Of course, I still can't help but laugh every time I see Emperor Ghandi threaten the Iroquois city of Moscow with stealth bombers in the year 1926, noting that his words are "backed by NUCLEAR WEAPONS!" Some things never change.

Posted by Jess at 11:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 11, 2003

Dude, I'm getting a yada, yada, yada...

After shopping around for the past couple of months, I ordered a new computer system from the fine folks at Dell earlier today. On the off-chance that anyone reading this blog is also currently in the market for a new system, Dell has some great promotions running for the next couple of days, including a free 48x CD-RW drive, a double memory upgrade, a free 80GB hard drive upgrade, and a $200 instant rebate. By the time you take all of those into account, it's a tough deal to resist.

Posted by Jess at 01:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 08, 2003

Looking for a digital camera

Last week's beautiful hiking trip in Virginia and this week's adoption of the Notorious K.I.P. have driven home the fact that my wife and I really need a digital camera to capture some of these moments in life. I've been doing a bit of shopping with a possible Christmas purchase in mind, and the HP PhotoSmart 735 has already caught my eye. Still, I know a decent chunk of the people who visit here have significantly more experience than I do with digital cameras, and I'd appreciate any insight you could offer concerning recommended (or unrecommended) brands, megapixels, optical/digital zooms, doohickies, and other thingamabobs. Thanks!

current music: The Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Skating"

Posted by Jess at 08:23 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 23, 2003

The mysteries of Google

I'll never understand Google. It's only been a few days ago that the search engine started indexing my weblog under its current name and, in turn, finding its archives at their present location. Now, for some unfathomable reason, it's back to indexing the site under its old name ("The Least Interesting Destination on the Web")--complete with a cached version that's several weeks older than the version they had a day or two ago.

Meanwhile, Google Toolbar's PageRank continues to insist that, on a scale of one to ten, this site is a "five" in terms of its overall importance. Maybe they're seeing something here that I'm not, but I have a feeling that Google needs a fresh flock of pigeons.

Posted by Jess at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2003

My name's Larry. Larry Laffer.

According to a news item at Adventure Gamers, there's a new installment in Sierra's classic Leisure Suit Larry series in the works. Series creator Al Lowe isn't involved, and rumor has it that Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (groan) will incorporate gameplay elements reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto, only with more sex and less violence. Oookay.

Anyway, for all those LSL fans out there, here's hoping that this project fares better than Escape Factory's Space Quest 7 and LucasArts' Full Throttle 2.

Also, just to address some of the confusion that's already popping up online with regards to this announcement, Josh Mandel--co-designer of such games as Space Quest 6 and Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist--is not involved in Magna Cum Laude; as noted over at the Subspace Channel, he merely wrote an upcoming preview of the game for Computer Games Magazine.

Posted by Jess at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 10, 2003

The Hierarchy of Geeks

While scouring Best Buy (arch-nemesis of teedz) for a new cordless telephone yesterday, I noticed that the PC game Icewind Dale has recently hit the low, low price of ten bucks. I've been searching for a budget-priced computer game as of late to while away the hours, and I think a critically acclaimed CRPG might just do the trick. The fact that Icewind Dale is based on the official Dungeons & Dragons rules, however, raises an important question. Is the fact that I'm playing what amounts to a computer version of a Dungeon & Dragons game less geeky because I'm not playing a pen-and-paper campaign with a group of fellow RPGers, or is it in fact double geeky because it involves not only playing Dungeons & Dragons, but also using a computer to do so?

The dilemma made me think back the what may very well be the funniest thing ever produced by the now-defunct Brunching Shuttlecocks website: the absolutely hilarious Geek Hierarchy. From the looks of that chart, I can rest assured that I'll remain at least a notch above the furries even if I succumb to the lure of Icewind Dale.

Posted by Jess at 02:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

Time for a new rig

It looks like there's a new computer in my near future (w00t), and I'm now realizing that my tech knowledge has grown a bit out of date in recent years. For instance, the last time I bought a system, Intel still had the processor market more or less cornered. Now that AMD is actually a viable competitor, however, the choice isn't quite as clear cut. Certainly, AMD's processors are much cheaper, but how does the performance stack up to Intel's offerings? For instance, is the speed of an AMD Athlon 2800+ roughly equivalent to a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor? Or, are the numbers just smoke and mirrors? I'd appreciate any insight from my tech-savvy friends.

Plus, since I'm not a real geek willing to build his own system from scratch, I'm trying to decide what company to go with for my new computer. I'd love to order from Dell, but you can get a lot more computer (at least on paper) from HP/Compaq--although I've seen reports that the warranty and technical support are a bit shaky in the case of the latter. Meanwhile, I've heard good things about ABS Computers from various magazines and online review sites, but their website is so rinky-dink that it sets me ill at ease. Again, any input would be appreciated.

And, before someone brings it up, Mac and Linux are pretty much out of the question since neither OS can run the various statistical packages that I need for my research. Oh, and I want to play kewl games, too.

Posted by Jess at 03:02 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

In Soviet Russia, news submits you

Wow--I've had two Slashdot submissions (here and here) accepted in the past three days. Not too shabby.

Posted by Jess at 08:57 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 23, 2003

+5 Cable Modem of Downloading

I received a message from my broadband provider, Charter Communications, earlier today via Western Union. Here's what it had to say...

Charter Communications wants to thank you for being a customer by giving you the best High Speed Internet experience yet--at no additional cost to you!

Our company has been undergoing significant technological changes as we have upgraded our broadband networks. We understand that your service level may have been affected during this time. I am happy to report that we are now ready to move full speed ahead and we want to take you along by providing the fastest Charter Pipeline service ever!

As a gesture of our appreciation for your business, we have increased the maximum download speed of your Charter Pipeline service to 2Mb/sec [from 400Kb/sec] at no additional cost to you. You don't have to do anything to get this higher speed. Simply enjoy your enhanced Charter Pipeline the next time you go online. This increase in your download speed will remain in effect until March 2004.

The change has already gone into effect, and I have to say that 2Mb/sec is a quite an improvement over 400Kb/sec (now, if only I had something huge that I really needed to download). Of course, I don't expect anyone to find this at all interesting. I'm really just posting it to tick off teedz. ;)

Posted by Jess at 07:30 PM | Comments (6)

September 18, 2003

How to fix Enterprise

I've been a fan of Enterprise ever since it debuted a couple of years back, but it looks like the series has a tough road ahead. Low ratings led the producers to overhaul the series this season, giving the ship a dangerous new mission into an uncharted region of space, adding a platoon of space marines to the crew, upping the sexual tension, and giving the characters--most notably Captain Jonathan Archer and Chief Engineer Trip Tucker--a somewhat harder edge to their personalities. It's now two episodes into the new season, however, and things still just aren't quite clicking. Then, while watching last night's episode, it hit me. I know how to fix Enterprise. Captain Archer needs a catchphrase.

Just imagine an alien vessel bearing down on the Enterprise, phaser cannons firing away. Archer orders evasive maneuvers, bringing the ship around to return fire on the enemy. Now, just before he orders a full spread of photon torpedoes, he turns to the camera with a look of determination on his face and says, "When you mess with an Archer, you get the arrow. Fire, Mr. Reed!"

Boom. Instant ratings.

Posted by Jess at 07:52 AM | Comments (5)

August 27, 2003

In search of an e-mail client

I just stumbled across Eudora's announcement that spam filtering features will no longer be available in their adware version and will instead require a paid installation in the future. That's no fun. I've been using Eudora as my e-mail client for years, and I love it. These days, however, I receive way too much spam to operate without a junk filter or two (I currently use Eudora's filtering system coupled with SpamAssassin, and I still have a fair amount of spam slip through).

Anyway, rather than paying $35 for Eudora, I'm considering moving to a new e-mail client. Any suggestions? I'm not a fan of Netscape/Mozilla/Thunderbird (too GUI) or Outlook Express (too socially irresponsible). What free options does that leave? Or, has Microsoft actually secured the latest versions of Outlook Express since I last used it a few years back? Assuming that I end up moving to something without built-in spam filtering, I've heard good things about POPFile.

I don't know why I'm so indignant when it comes to the idea of paying for an e-mail client, but it just doesn't seem right.

Posted by Jess at 08:08 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 20, 2003

'Cause he's Nick Burns, your company's computer guy...

Around 3:30 yesterday afternoon, I received a call from an acquaintance who owns a small business here in town. His office computers had been in the process of dying for weeks, and they had finally reached the point that he just couldn't conduct business on them anymore. So, knowing that I'm a "computer guy" (heh), he called me to ask if I would be willing to take a look at things. Not surprisingly, he had been hit hard by a virus--not one of the biggies that's currently making the rounds, but one that managed to infect every single executable file on his system nonetheless. McAfee couldn't clean the infected files, and quarantining a few dozen system files didn't seem like a very good idea. So, I ended up salvaging what data files and records I could, reformatting the systems, and starting over from scratch.

I was there until 10:00 last night. And I'm going back today.

Of course, it was the kind of problem that up-to-date virus definitions, Windows Update, and a firewall probably could have prevented. Still, while working on the systems and speaking with their owner, I came to the realization that it really is asking a lot of many novice computer users to actively keep track of that kind of thing--at least until it's too late and they're already having problems. As simple as running Windows Update or updating virus definitions may be for the computer savvy, it's quite likely to intimidate people who just aren't familiar with the idea of preventative PC maintenance and who have been cautioned for the past five years against downloading and opening anything from the Internet.

I also realized what a pain it is to reinstall Windows 2000 when the manufacturer of the system doesn't include all the necessary driver discs and the only available online connection is a 56k modem (assuming you actually get the computer to recognize the modem, that is). I think I'll use my broadband connection and CD-RW here at home to burn a handy-dandy "utility disc" before I head back today. First, I have to do that whole school thing, though.

Posted by Jess at 08:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 09, 2003

Zombies. Why'd it have to be zombies?

So, my wife and I are currently playing System Shock 2, an all-around incredible first-person shooter/horror/action CRPG that was released by Looking Glass Studios a couple of years ago. To make a long story short, the protagonist in the game is a space guy trapped on a run-amok starship trillions of miles from Earth. To make matters worse, you're stuck on the ship with about a zillion zombies (and a herd of psionic monkeys, but that's a different story).

When the first Quake game came out six or seven years ago, I wrote the following: "Hands down, there are no scarier sounds known to man than the groan of a Quake zombie or the splat of a hurled decaying body part making contact with its target." As it turns out, I was wrong.

In System Shock 2, the zombies not only groan in the typical spooky zombie fashion, but they also pass the time by begging you to kill them and apologizing profusely while beating you to death with a lead pipe and/or wrench. Double creepy. Worse still, a System Shock zombie is about ten times as fast as a Quake zombie--not 28 Days Later fast, mind you, but fast all the same. They also wield shotguns on occasion.

I hate zombies.

Posted by Jess at 02:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack