Monday, July 31, 2006

Sam Raimi and Terry Goodkind team up!

With the recent popularity of bringing big-name fantasy series to the silver screen (think Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia, with Wheel of Time currently in production), it comes as little surprise to see the announcement that the Sword of Truth series is next in line to be brought to life.  What does come as a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, is the fact that Sam Raimi is currently planned to direct the miniseries based on the first book.  Sam Raimi is probably most famous for the Evil Dead trilogy of movies starring Bruce Campbell and the phenomenal Spider-Man movies based off of the Marvel Comics character played by Tobey Maguire.  Hopefully the translation won't be watered down, especially the more disturbingly controversial parts involving Demmin Nass, right-hand man to the main villain with a love for young boys, or Denna, who has an extreme taste for sadomasochism but is one of the most pivotal and amazing characters in first book.  We'll see if Raimi's magical touch will continue in a few years when the first miniseries is completed.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Firefox Essentials

Time for another geek blog entry.  I've had this one brewing in the back of my mind for a while, and it's been too long since I've posted anything, so here it is!

I've realized recently that I love Microsoft products a lot more now than I did a few years ago.  Despite this attachment, there are still non-Microsoft products I use on a frequent basis on my home and work PCs, including Paint Shop Pro X, Winamp, Nero 6, and most importantly, Firefox.  Microsoft's Internet Explorer has made significant advances in its seventh iteration to bring it up to speed with Mozilla's offering.  IE remains my primary browser at work due to the number of ActiveX components used on our corporate intranet, but Firefox is my platform of choice when I surf the web thanks to the smooth browsing experience and the extensions.

This is the area in which the Mozilla browsers really shine.  Chances are, if you need Firefox to do something that isn't supported "out-of-the-box" per se, someone probably has written an extension for whatever you're looking to do.  There are numerous add-on toolbars, translation utilities, website integration extensions, skins, icon packs, and so much more available to truly customize your browsing experience.

I'm sure every Firefox user has their own favorite extensions.  Here is my top 10 list of installed extensions I refuse to surf the internet without:

10.Search as you type toggler:  This fixes a minor annoyance with the useful, but still buggy, "search as you type" feature.  Select this from the Tools menu and the feature deactivates.
9.CuteMenus - Crystal SVG:  Okay, this one is purely cosmetic, but it adds colorful icons to all of the default menu items.  Never again will your menus be drab and boring!
8.Image Zoom:  Have you ever wanted a closer look at an image online?  Image Zoom allows you to resize any image through either the context menu or by rolling the mouse wheel while holding the right mouse button.
7.Dictionary Tooltip:  Now having a dictionary is literally a click away.  You can select from multiple dictionary sources and even use translation dictionaries all from this extension's little popup window.
6.Tabbrowser Preferences:  Firefox helped usher in the era of tabbed browsing, but some of the more useful options aren't available through the default options menu, only through the manual about:config settings list.  This plugin brings those settings together into a group in your options menu for even more control over your tabbed browsing experience.
5.User Agent Switcher:  Not all websites play well with non-Microsoft browsers, so you can use this handy little item to trick the site into believing you are really another browser.
4.IE Tab:  This is for those really stubborn websites that still don't work after setting the user agent manually with the previous extension, or have ActiveX components that only run in IE.  You can open an instance of Internet Explorer within a Firefox tab, basically having the functionality of both browsers within one.  Add in the fact that you can automate certain websites to always open in an instance of IE and we have a winner!
3.Download Statusbar:  There's really nothing wrong with the built-in download bin of Firefox, but I prefer this utility instead.  When you download a file, it gets added to a small statusbar at the bottom of the browser window where you can view the transfer rate and time remaining for multiple files.  Small and sleek is definitely in with this extension.
2.Nuke Anything Enhanced:  Flash ads.  Blinking text.  Annoying animated GIFs.  Banner ads.  You know you hate them.  Now you can do something about them with this handy little item and remove the item completely from the page.  If you accidentally removed an item, you can simply undo it.  This one will definitely clean up your browsing experience, and even makes sites look better when printed without all the ads cluttering up the paper.
1.Crash Recovery:  The browsers and operating systems of today are fairly advanced and less prone to crashes, but even the most stable applications can't stand up to a power outage.  This is one of those handy things that you don't think about and appreciate until it happens.  Power outage, reboot, browser crash, or whatever, the next time you start up, all of the pages you were on will be restored with complete history and no need to log back in to sites.  This is an underappreciated feature that has saved me time on many occasions and garners the top spot in my list of top essential Firefox plugins.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Desert rain

Desert lightning show (courtesy of the AZ Republic)

Mmm, the summer monsoons are here.  What better way to cool off a 114° Arizona afternoon than a sudden torrent of water filled with dust, dirt, and pollution?  The sky is falling as I speak (and it's only 8:30AM!), so I'm expecting to be able to drive under clear skies within about a half hour if this is like most of our other storms.  It also gives the idiots who don't know how to drive in the rain enough time to do their damage on the roads before I head on out to work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

I woke up this morning, and something inside me said, "It's a Pink Floyd day." I had no idea why, but it just felt like one. The only album I could take to work was my SACD version of The Dark Side of the Moon, so that accompanied me this morning and I listen to it's haunting melody as I write this entry. I even saw the new DVD release of Pulse on the shelf at Wal-Mart this morning, and had I more cash on hand, I would have picked up a copy. It wasn't until I arrived at work and mentioned to a coworker how it felt like it was a Pink Floyd day, that I learned that one of the founding members of the band, Syd Barrett, passed away recently. A spokeswoman for the band released the news this morning to the media, but did not disclose the cause of death. Despite living out his last years in relative seclusion, Barrett was a major influence in many people's lives, including his former bandmates who wrote a tribute album to him entitled Wish You Were Here. Farewell and keep shining on from the next world, Syd... shine on from the gates of dawn.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Enjoying the holiday now that the storm has passed


First, let me say Happy 4th to everyone.  Second, I'd recommend running in to Best Buy this week and take advantage of their movie sale and stock up on Spider-Man 2 (which I finally saw, and it rocks), Ice Age, X-Men and more for $5-$7.  Third, let me remind you to try and restrain yourselves from buying too many movies or else you'll end up like me, spending a half hour hacking through shrinkwrap and uncooperative security stickers just to get a few movies open.

It's nice to have some paid time off to actually relax... it's been forever since I've had a chance to really do that.  No emergencies, no troubles, no disasters.  The universe is finally tipping the balance back in my life to make up for all the crap I've had to put up with for the past few years (no thanks to a certain careless individual).  After the car broke down for the fifth time with the same problem, we got a loaner car from the dealership, and this certain someone managed to put a sizeable dent in the front of it, had the Scottsdale Police knocking on my door to deliver two photo radar tickets for her, and strained my budget past its limits with unnecessary expenses and forced unpaid time off.  After the proverbial shit hit the fan all at once, I finally put my foot down firmly and for good and reclaimed sole posession the car permanently.  This forced her to find other rides to work and has kept her out of my apartment for a good two weeks now, and it's the calmest two weeks I've lived in years.  The only exception is Kaylee's ear infection, which is apparently just a normal part of having a kid.

Here's hoping that I'm not just in the eye of storm, but finally past the worst of it all.  Enjoy a safe and happy holiday, friends!

Finally enjoying a day off like a normal human being,