Featured Movies Sci/Tech Software

Friday Finds – LOTR and Star Wars

Hey, it’s been a while.  Vacations, children, car shopping, attending Sabres games in the press box, all take a toll on my time.  Onto the posts!

Bah, I’ll be impressed when the docking bay is built into a giant Death Star model.

100 facts about the Lord of the Rings movies, many of which you might know if you watched the movies with the DVD commentary on.  Neat for those of us who haven’t.

I just love glaciers, and science.

The Math that Saved Apollo 13 – this is cool.  I had JUST watched a show about Apollo 13 where you saw Lovell with this very manual.

Mimicking nature, always a solid option when you have a technical challenge like this.  These ‘kelp forest’ underwater power generators could possibly be adapter to work almost anywhere.

Really does sort of resemble the Silver Surfer.  It’s a comet, though.

Featured Software

Essential Software

I just got a new laptop (this Toshiba, if you are curious) and as such, have a blank slate for new software to install.  In case it’s helpful, here’s what I put on any new PC:

System Tools:

  • Daemon Tools – No, not for pirated software.  I have, over the years, lost or damaged a lot of game discs.  I end up having to download a replacement, and this lets the computer read it as if it were the real deal.  Also nice if you want to leave your discs at home while travelling but still have access to the software.
  • Avast! – Everyone needs anti-virus software, and this one is free, doesn’t nag you much at all, and is well reviewed.  I supplement with spyware removers and Hijack This when needed.
  • 7-Zip – Once upon a time, there was Winzip, and we all used it.  But then you started seeing downloads in other formats, and needed more than what Winzip provided.  7-Zip covers all the relevant bases (.7z, zip, arj, rar).
  • MyDefrag – Not simple to use, but a powerful and customizable disk defragmenter.  Currently set to do daily tidying up at 4am, and a detailed cleanup every month.
  • TeraCopy – Seems mundane, but if you move large files around a lot, whether they are pictures, videos, disc images, whatever, getting it done faster would be a no brainer.  TeraCopy does that.  Love it.

Games and gaming:

  • Steam – It has some detractors, but I honestly love being able to install one program, and have access to a whole library of my games in one place.  No longer worry about where your damn CD key is or those lost discs like I mentioned.  Pretty freaking awesome sales, too.
  • DOSBox and D-Fend Reloaded – If you’ve read this site, you know I love old games, so DOSbox is essential.  D-Fend Reloaded is a front end that makes DOSbox a lot easier to use.  Handy if you lost – or never had – your DOS chops.
  • FRAPS – Most games have a screenshot feature, but FRAPS is much more customizable, and it lets you see your framerate.  If you ever wanted to capture videos, go for it.  I always forget to start it, though…

Everything else:

  • Inkscape – I’m not a great artist, but I like to dabble, and Inkscape is a great vector art program that’s free.
  • Tweetdeck – Great if you manage more than one Twitter account, though I’ve never used it for Facebook or any of the other stuff it can do.
  • Picasa – Just a simple way to manage and do basic photo editing.  Lifesaver, as long as all my pictures are dated properly.  I’m looking at family that don’t know how to set the time on the cameras.

If you want more stuff, I can go deeper, but these are the apps that are must have for me.  Got any other suggestions?  Comment ’em.

Console Games Media PC Games Software

Links From The Blogroll

Hey, everybody.  Haven’t been around much to post here, mostly because I haven’t seen any movies or played any new video games to review. ;)  That should change this weekend.  What I would like to do is highlight some of the newer additions to my blogroll and give some examples as to why you should be reading these sites.

The Expanse – a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck

These two gents are writers, whose collaboration via the pen name James S. A. Corey Leviathan Wakes is due out this summer.  I’ve read parts of it in other forms, and it’s awesome.  Their shared blog has the musings of two well-spoken men on a variety of topics, including racism and exoticism in sci-fi and fantasy novels.  Well worth a read for writers, or anyone who likes to know about others’ creative processes.

A Walk in the Dark – A look into the mind of a DnD Campaign Designer

Shifting gears slightly, you have the blog of David “Nighthawk” Flor, a software dev and game designer I know.  He’s done mods for Half-Life, so if the name is familiar, you probably played The Opera (he mentions it here).  Nighthawk has a lot to say about game design, whether about how to handle insanity in DnD compared to Call of Cthulu, or creating random dice rolls for games hosted online.


I won’t pretend to know all that he’s talking about in regards to synthesizers and such, but Thomas Emmons is a composer in California who has a ton to say about music, computers and more.  Here’s a post about social networks and collaboration in the music scene.


Mike is a photographer and dad, which combine for some cute pictures of his son, Jason.  He also writes some insightful stuff over at Life as a Human.  I trust Mike’s book and movie reviews, though like me he doesn’t get to do them as much any more thanks to having children.  On the plus side, he’s reviewing more ‘kid’ movies which is relevant to my interests.

So that’s a taste of what my friends are up to.  Most of whom are more creative than me.  I might do this once in a while to highlight the good work they are doing.

Gadgets Software

Android Apps

As a follow-up to my review of the HTC Hero, the notable apps I have installed:

  1. Locale – Lets you change your phone’s behavior based on numerous factors, including location, time, and more. I love it, I can turn off my ringer automatically when I get to work or turn it on automatically when I get home (more important, as I use my phone for an alarm clock).
  2. ShopSavvy/CompareAnywhere – I use ShopSavvy myself, but there are several barcode scanning apps out there, for when you want to be sure that the DVD or book or cereal box you are holding isn’t cheaper down the street (or at Amazon). Handy.
  3. TwiDroid – Just a slick-looking Twitter client. Buttons to do replies/retweets if you are not a fan of the long press.
  4. Toddler Lock – Not for everyone, but gives a screen where kids can draw and tap and make noise while not shifting around all of your icons.

Now, for fun stuff. Games are spares for the Android platform, compared to the iPhone anyway, if only for the fact that you can’t yet store apps on the SD card without hacking. You can play Doom, which is cool if hard to control. There are plenty of time-wasters, like Bejeweled (and many clones), WordUp! (sort of like Boggle), and so on. For paid games, there’s a SimCity game available at HandMark, though I’d like to be able to try it first. Looks really cool though. One other thing – there’s a WordPress app (WPtoGo or some such), that is neat, even if you aren’t using it for creating new posts, it’s nice for quick spelling fixes or approving comments. Any other app questions, hit me up in the comments.

quality the memento full movie

Media Software

Favorite Windows Software/Utilities

As you can probably tell, when I’m not watching hockey and football or playing with my kids, I like to tinker with my computer. I have come across several utilities recently (thanks mainly to Lifehacker and other geeks) and I thought I’d share them with you.

where watch the sound of music film

  1. TeraCopy – My new best friend. I have LONG thought that the regular Windows copy utility is idiotic. If it fails, you have to try and figure out where it left off to retry (or copy over everything again). Teracopy has automatic retry, and will skip a problem file and continue on. You are then presented with a list of failed files to retry after you fix the underlying issue. You can have it replace the normal Windows file copy dialog so normal operation is seamless. And oh yeah, it speeds up file transfers a good bit as well.
  2. MyDefrag – Used to be known as JkDefrag. Unlike other defrag utilities, there’s no dialog box with checkboxes. You simply run one of the included scripts for what you want to do, and you can do a LOT. Plain ol’ defragment, optimize the locations of files on disk, and so on. The real power is for tinkerers, who can customize scripts to do all sorts of things (the Lifehacker post linked mentioned moving all your mp3s together, for example. Honorable mention to Auslogics Disk Defrag for a more traditional alternative to the default Windows defragmenting solution.
  3. Auslogics Duplicate File Finder – Depending on how organized you are, this may or may not be that big of a help, but I love it. Too often I forget that I’ve already off-loaded the camera, or copied those files off, or my wife repeats my effort so I end up with multiple copies. This does exactly what it says, and finds those dupes.
  4. 7-zip – The current champ in file compression/expansion. For those of you who got annoyed with the crap Winzip was giving you. Unzips those .7z files you may have seen. Solid interface, all the integration you expect.
  5. CCleaner – For Crap Cleaner. A very handy way to clean the cache/cookies on all your browsers, Windows temp files, old log files, memory dumps from crashes, and the like. My favorite feature, however, is the Registry cleaning aspect. CCleaner can find all the random .dll files loading and taking up resources that you don’t need any more, things like HP printer files that load at startup despite the fact you no longer have the printer. Can improve speed quite a bit on older systems that have been unformatted for a long time.
  6. VLC Media Player – If you’ve ever done the ‘no codec could be found’ dance for a video you are trying to watch, VLC is for you. Plays most everything, including DVDs when you don’t have a true decoder installed. Very handy.

There you have it, a good start at the stuff I currently install on my Windows Vista machine to make it do what I want the way I want. I may follow up with more stuff, and if you have any questions or suggestions, comment away!

Media Software

InPrivate, No One Can See You Wank

This may be old news to some of you, but apparently Microsoft has put a feature in IE 8 (currently in beta) called ‘InPrivate‘. It lets you browse without saving any history, cookies, or other information. Good for security, but also for your porn habits. Theoretically speaking, of course. H/T to Gizmodo.

Boring site stuff Software

24 ways – Performance On A Shoe String

Drew McLellan has posted a very good run down of how to improve blog (and general website) performance. It covers caching, outsourcing of feeds, and using something like Amazon’s S3 to host large files, just as an example.

Heck, there are (amazingly enough) 24 different articles on the 24ways site that deal with all sorts of web design quirks. Very good stuff there, check it out.

Media Software

GIMP 2.4 Released

Lots of neat new features from the sound of it, too. Hit up the GIMP web site for details, and to ooh and ahh at their new design.

Downloads Page

Release Notes