Monday, January 29, 2007

The future is now!

Hooray! Tonight marks the start of a new era in computing as Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows Vista, and business suite, the 2007 Office System, both launch across the country for use by the general public. I still stand by my previous statements that this is the best Office suite yet thanks to the sheer number of beta testers (like me!) that put it through it's paces last year and this year. Sporting a new user interface, the new Office is not only good looking, but very productive and intuitive once you get over the small initial learning curve.

I will back the launch of Vista as well, but with some hesitation because it's still lacking in driver support and application compatibility. For example, nVidia drivers are available but still incomplete, my HP scanner doesn't have drivers available yet (but HP promises them this week), Nero has issues creating audio CDs, and Microsoft Money 2007 (among many others) requires administrator mode to run correctly. On the bright side, there is quite a bit of software that runs without a problem and all the rest of my hardware was installed and fully-functional during the initial installation. In addition, there is the increased security, integrated search, slick new look, and a bevy of performance-enhancements like ReadyBoost and SuperFetch and automatic defragging of hard drives to keep your system in tip-top shape. Make sure you run the Upgrade Advisor before diving in to see if your hardware is supported and if your software will be compatible. Whether or not you choose to believe any of the $500 million in advertisements is up to you, but we should all face the fact that our Windows-based PCs will all be running on Vista sooner or later, so basically it's just a matter of when.

Monday, January 15, 2007

24 review

Okay, so I admit it, I've been living under a rock for the past month (or at least more than usual). But at least it's been a very exciting rock, named 24. Fry's Electronics has had the first five seasons on sale at one time or another for $20 each, so I quickly snatched them up and added them to my DVD collection. Just in time for Sunday's premiere of season 6, I finished up all five seasons and am not sorry or disappointed in the purchase at all. Here's my take on each of them (warning: spoiler alert!!).

Season 1: **** Groundbreaking. Unique. Exciting. I can clearly see why this series took viewers by storm when the first season hit the airwaves. After seeing the other seasons, it doesn't stand out on top, but still holds its own pretty well. Things slow down after the Bauer family gets reunited 13 hours in, but that's because the original concept was for a completely self-contained 13-episode story. The studio was so excited about it that they ordered 24 episodes for a full season. The DVD set's extras were pretty sparse compared to the other seasons.

Season 2: *** Kim Bauer's storyline was pretty silly and annoying. I really could have done without the cougar, the lonely guy in the woods, and the abusive father. George Mason's sacrifice in flying the plane with the nuke was definitely a well-played highlight of the season, but I can't recall too many other memorable moments in season two. Not too bad compared to many other shows currently on the air, but definitely the weakest season of 24 in my opinion.

Season 3: ****1/2 This is my second favorite season out of all of them so far. You have a high tension level pretty much from the start of the story with millions of lives at stake thanks to the biological weapon. How can you go wrong by throwing the bad but oh-so-sexy Nina Meyers in the mix again? I had my doubts in the first episode after they revealed Jack's heroin addiction and the introduction of Chase who is secretly seeing Kim Bauer (with her horrid hairdo). Despite a few bad plot holes, the action doesn't let up until the very end. The highlight of the season for me was Sherry Palmer's much-deserved death.

Season 4: **** Season four was a mixed bag in my opinion. I didn't feel much of the intensity until late in the season after you see how relentless the terrorist Marwan really is and how dedicated he and his followers were. More annoying plot holes left me yelling at the television constantly this season, but it still didn't dip into season two's cougar territory, so I did my best to ignore it. Many of the new characters seemed like pointless and useless plot devices to fill in until the regulars from season three finally returned. Season four's highlight? It's a tie between Tony Almeida getting back into the game, blowing away the bad guys and rescuing Jack, and the "Rambo" Chloe scene.

Season 5: ***** Having seen the first four seasons already, I'd already learned about suspension of disbelief, especially in travel times across Los Angeles, so my feelings toward season five may be unfairly skewed. However, it feels like the writers took everything that was good from previous seasons and incorporated them here. Plot twists abound, tension levels remain consistently high, and the body count keeps rising each episode. From the shocking assassination of former President Palmer in the first episode to the unintentional self-implication of President Logan in the end, I could not wait to find out what would happen next. It was sad to see so many good characters get killed, especially poor, innocent Edgar. There wasn't really any specific high point to the season, because it was all one giant high point. Now THIS is entertainment!

Season 6: Like I said, I caught up just in time to jump in to season six with the rest of the world. The first four episodes are being aired over the course of two nights, then being released on a special DVD on Tuesday. The action starts slow as we see Jack coming back from China and immediately being turned over to terrorists. So far, there have been quite a few shocks (and bites!) and it looks like it's going to shape up to another fantastic season. Prepare yourself for the end of episode four... I ended up bawling for the last five minutes. It's amazing story combined with fantastic acting and is further accentuated by the music. I really feel sorry for Jack and everything he's been through, but I'm also looking forward to seeing more of him this season. Bring it on!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Kaylee, 11/2006Happy Birthday to my daughter Kaylee! She's only four years old, but if you tell her that she's too cute, she'll reply, "Yep, I know." =)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Surgery update

Andrea had a successful surgery. Some may say it was because the surgeon was one of the best in the nation, and others may say it was the divine powers of healing granted by friends and family, but I leave it up to you to decide what to believe. All that matters is that my daughter still has her mother and the two of them are grateful for all of the support from everyone. Belated new year's wishes to all and good night.