Yet Another Use for Duct Tape

Someone drove over our mailbox. For some reason the mail carrier won’t deliver to a mailbox on the ground. I ordered a new mailbox but it won’t be installed for about a month. In the mean time duct tape will allow our mail carrier to fulfill her sacred duty.
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Captain America: The First Avenger

I went into Captain America thinking of it as just another episode in the Avengers series along with other films like Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk. Each of these films has its own style and high points. I know very little about the comic book character. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Captain America cartoon, comic, or movie. Captain America’s shield has shown up in Iron Man and Hulk movies as teasers for this movie. There’s also some cross pollination from the Thor movie which gives us the genesis of this movie’s bad guy, Red Skull (not to be confused with Grey Skull). Red Skull is played by Hugo Weaving who is known for his portrayal of Agent Smith in the Matrix. In this movie he plays a completely different character named General Schmidt. During the movie we get to see Agent Schmidt kung fu fight Neo, I mean Captain America.

Before that fight we start out with Steve Rogers as a 90-point 4F weakling. We follow Rogers through the sepia toned past as he finally gets into the army and is eventually chosen to be a guinea pig for a new super soldier program. We know it’s the past because everything is sepia brown and because Iron Man’s father plays Igor to this movie’s Frankenstein (complete with German accent). The coloration effect gets really old after a while. Eventually the science experiment is a success and Rogers joins a chorus line to help sell war bonds. Later we find Rogers in costume and finally carrying a gun.

The movie is full of good action and carries itself well enough. The 3-D was done well and did not get in the way of the story to the point where you forget about it. The movie will survive as not the worst of the series but also not a star. Rogers personifies the stone faced soldier who just wants to fight for good old USA. We never really get to see any other dimensions to him. Stick around for the teaser after the credits which sets up the next episode in the series for next summer. You get to see Tony Stark commenting on Roger’s muscles.

Best Upgrade for BBEdit is via Mac App Store

The new version of BBEdit, version 10 is out. Bare Bones Software has already come under fire for their pricing model. BBEdit regularly costs $49.99. That is a great value for a tool that I use everyday and have used for years. As soon as I heard it was out I immediately checked their web site to see what the upgrade price was. There I saw that the upgrade price was $39.99. This is a bit higher than I expected but reasonable. I was elated to see that they were also selling the full version in the Mac App Store for the same price. For me this was perfect. I get to move over to the Mac App Store for the same price as I was already planning on spending for the upgrade — sold. I really prefer this distribution method for my software purchases. It is a classy move on their part.

I compare this with my recent experience with OmniGroup’s OmniPlan 2.0 upgrade. Their pricing model insures that I will be buying the new upgrade via their web site instead of via the Mac App Store. When contacted @OmniPlan’s twitter account was sympathetic, “That would definitely be nice. Unfortunately not much we can do with the current App Store policies.”

The Mac App Store needs a model for alternate channel pricing, upgrade pricing, and license conversion. Apple is not likely to move on these items anytime soon. For channel pricing Apple has come out with volume discounts for enterprise buyers. Without a paid upgrade option software vendors will be force to release new titles rather than update an existing brand. Will there be a BBEdit 11 or will Bare Bones have to come out with BBEdit HD?

Pandoras Star — Finally Finished

I finally managed to get to the abrupt ending of Peter F. Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star. It was agonizingly long. I stayed with it thinking that the end was drawing near. After nearly a thousand pages, the story stops at a minor cliffhanger. I did not realize it was just part one of a series of books. I don’t know if I’m ready to dive into book two just yet. The opening for this book is great and illustrates what happens when a disruptive technology is invented. The middle of this book introduces so many characters and sub-plots that it is hard to keep them all straight. By the end of the first book you are still waiting for the plot threads to come together. It’s good sci-fi but it is a commitment.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

It was really good! If you thought part 1 was a sleeper, part 2 makes up for it. It had action, comedy, sentiment, and heartbreak – everything you need to capstone a 14-year saga. This movie delivers. There are some great moments like Harry saying, “that was unfortunate” in a deadpan tone in response to something that happens to a certain goblin. Another one-liner was said by a giddy Professor McGonagall, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to use that spell.” This movie is a strong PG-13 filled with scary imagery, blood and magical deaths. There was a guy in our midnight showing with four kids in the 5-year old range. Too young.I’m glad to see the series completed. The latest installment is in 3-D. The 3-D was done well but I can’t say it is necessary for the experience.

The next time you have 20 hours to spare you should watch the series from the beginning. You will be rewarded if you stick around for the epilogue for a nice bit of symmetry.

Clouds

When I came home last night I notice how spectacular the sky looked with fluffy white clouds on an azure background. I just had to take some pictures to try to capture the view. Within an hour the clouds were all gone and we were left with a cloudless sky. I noted that even at 8pm last night the temperature was still 100°F. That’s just summer in Texas for you. At least we got to see some clouds. I think these pictures would make a good desktop picture. I present them here without any doctoring or cropping just as they came from my camera.

Contact me for commercial use otherwise they are presented here under Creative Commons license.

Tools We Use: LaunchBar

For the uninitiated LaunchBar is a an indispensable tool that allows you to launch any program or find any contact with just your keyboard. You can set your own keyboard shortcut to activate it, you type a few characters and then LaunchBar figures out what you want. You can customize those activating words but for the most part it does a really good job figuring it out on its own. For example if I want to launch “Remote Desktop Connection” I can just type “rdc”. I set my keyboard shortcut to command-space to replace the delivered Spotlight function. This way when I go to someone else’s computer and hit that key command I can still access a similar function in the OS.

Objective Development LaunchBar 5.1.2 $35 http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar

The latest version (5.1.2 July 1, 2011) is Mac OS 10.7 Lion -compatible although this is probably just a formality. I have had no trouble with it through the beta cycle of the new OS.

There are other launchers out there. I have tried and used QuickSilver in the past. At one point back in the System 6 days I used a program extension called On Cue. It was followed by On Cue II that worked through Mac OS 9. This was developed at a time when Apple expected you to navigate to the Applications folder to launch a program. Later Apple came out with the Launcher. In Mac OS X we have the Dock. In Lion we now have Launchpad. So the question is, ‘do we still need Launchbar?’. The truth is that Launchpad works really well if you only have a few apps and curate it. It is unusable for me. I have too many applications. The Launchpad is too much like the Start Menu from Windows for my taste. I can organize items into folders and nothing changes in the applications folder but if I delete a program from the Launchpad it is deleted? The metaphor does not translate directly from iPad. I’m sure Launchpad 2 will be genius.

For the mean time I will continue to use LaunchBar. When I need to look up a phone number from my address book I know that it is just a few keystrokes away.