Fuzzy Nation

I just finished reading Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi. This is a reimagining of H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. John Scalzi brought he bit of classic sci-fi up to a modern style. The story features a prospector, Jack Holloway, and his dog who stumble upon a valuable gem deposit on a planet devoid of intelligent life. Jack also finds an animal about the size of a cat that he calls a Fuzzy. The story continues into a legal drama to determine if the Fuzzy is sentient. The story is very good and a good homage to the original. John Scalzi’s writing style allows him to have fun with the characters like Carl, the dog who likes to make things go “boom”.

Bear in Málaga

It’s cool to see one of my favorite composers performing in my adopted city. Bear McCreary is know for his work on SyFy and SciFi show soundtracks. I first noticed his work in Battlestar Galactica as weaved jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtowers” into the show’s musical theme.

From the pictures it looks like he was performing at the Teatro Cervantes. I liked seeing the references to the Catedral and Alcazaba.
http://www.bearmccreary.com/blog/?p=7038

Retrieval Artist

Kristine Rusch has created a future where Earth is part of a sort of United Nations of planets but in this UN the Earth is about as important as Tuvalu. I’ve only read the first three of the novels but I am looking forward to the next one. I made the mistake of reading them out of order.

Retrieval Artist
Vol. 1: The Disappeared, 2002
Vol. 2: Extremes, 2003
Vol. 3: Consequences, 2004
Vol. 4: Buried Deep, 2005
Vol. 5: Paloma, 2006
Vol. 6: Recovery Man, 2007
Vol. 7: Duplicate Effort, 2009

Bandwidth Usage Policy & How to Manage Your Usage

I was having trouble with YahooIM and decided to log into yahoo.com. In the middle of all the spam was a message from AT&T about my home DSL account. It’s strange they send the message to this account instead of the one where they send the bill every month. The message was dated. June 13th. I’ve not been able to find a place on their web site to specify my email address. Their profile page does not seem to be working. I still don’t know why YIM keep disconnecting on me but now I have a new problem.

It seems that AT&T is now limiting my monthly usage to 150GB. There’s no word in the email about what happens when I go over or if I can buy a better plan. The chart shows no usage in July or August even though the month is half over. When I look at the current month it shows zero usage and 27 days left in the cycle. The apparently only update that page if you are in jeopardy o going over the limit. This is pretty useless for monitoring my usage and making any sort of adjustments.

We want to take this opportunity to remind you that your AT&T High Speed Internet plan includes 150 gigabytes (GB) of data per month. We made this change to help balance demand across our network, as a small group of customers consume as much as 19 households worth of usage. That level of activity can create congestion and affect the service levels for all customers.

Based on your recent usage patterns, our records indicate you could be affected by this change. To help you better understand your data plan and to let you know of some ways you can manage your data use, please visit att.com/internet-usage to take advantage of the following resources:

  • A personalized usage report that shows how much actual data you’ve
    used in a month. This secure site can be accessed with your primary AT&T
    email ID and password.

  • A data calculator to estimate usage for a particular month.
  • Tips and information about the kinds of Internet activity that can impact
    your actual usage and ways you can reduce it.

Thank you for choosing AT&T.

Sincerely,

Your AT&T High Speed Internet Customer Care Team

Should I worry? Nah. I’m going to go back and finish watching Torchwood on Netflix.

New Mailbox Installed

This weekend my son helped me install our new bronze mailbox. It is an upgrade from our previous temporary mailbox. The only reason this was such a project is that with the heat the ground is like concrete. The posthole digger was getting bent when striking the ground. The solution was to hydrate the ground. We would spray water on the ground and watch it get sucked up. Then we could scoop away about 3 inches of muck. Eventually we got the hole to the required depth and the rest of the project was able to continue.

The Apes will Rise

Whenever you go into the theater to see a new movie in an old franchise you run the risk of being disappointed. Series like Superman, Batman, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica even Fletch have all been given the “reimagining” treatment with varying degrees of success. I went into Rise of the Planet of the Apes with apprehension. I had reason to worry. The studio did not see to know what to do with this movie. The release date was changed to November and back to August. Even the title of the movie was changed. In that change the producers showed that they planned to treat this series with respect. The change of title to include “…the Planet of the Apes” was an homage to the original series where each movie had that in its title whether it be Beneath…, Escape from…, Conquest of…, and finally Battle for…. To those four movies over the last 43 years we add the original movie, a TV show, a cartoon series and the Tim Burton movie with the same name. The 2001 Burton film may share the same name and contain a cast of simians but it isn’t really an Apes file. Rise is. And to all of those we must add the original 1963 novelette La Planète des Singes by french author Pierre Boulle. That book has about as much in common with series as does the Tim Burton film.

This new Apes film reminds me of the way I looked at the reimagined Battlestar Galactica TV series. In that case it was the the 70s TV show was just that a TV show while the Ron Moore version was like someone was filming the actual events. For the Apes series we already know how it all started. Rodney McDowell tells us the story in the first movie and we see it actually happen by the fourth movie. In the original legend there’s some sort plague that kills off all the dogs and cats in the world. Apes start as a replacement pet but soon turn into slaves. Finally Caesar has had enough and says “no”. We actually see this happen in the fourth movie. The original series of movies is a nice tight time loop where events in the future cause events in the past.

In many ways this new movie replaces the third and fourth movies in the series with James Franco in the role originally played by Ricardo Montalbán, Instead of time-traveling Apes going into the circus we have James Franco as geneticist. Aside from a few plot changes the story tracks very well with the original series.

The movie was full of references to the original series. There’s a TV clip of Charlton Heston as Moses playing on a TV for stimulation. Someone tell someone else to get their “stinking paws off”. There are references to Bright-Eyes, a nick name for Charlton Heston in the first movie. We see another ape named Zira and of course Caesar, the start of this movie. I especially liked the references to the launching of the Icarus, the first manned mission to Mars. Although never named in the first film the spaceship is known by fans as the Icarus. Later we learned that the space mission was lost. Can you say sequel? I think I would actually like to see how the crew of the Icarus react to a world run by Caesar’s dependents. Stick around after the credits for even more clues to a sequel.

The movie also stands alone. It has a good plot, good action. The characters have real emotion. Andy Serkis embodies Caesar with real expression. There are a few Hollywood clichés that really bugged me. For one we learned that an ape can run through a plate-glass window at full speed and not get hurt (or even slowed down) by the experience. We learned that the fog on the Golden Gate Bridge can roll in and out in the middle of the day with almost no notice. Actually there were a lot of problems with the bridge scene. Some of the ape animation is a bit rough.

Overall, I really liked this movie. I hope it does well enough at the box office to give us a sequel. Our little local theater was quite full but not sold out. We shall see.

Latest Apple TV Update Saved Me 300GB

Thanks to the latest update to the Apple TV 2 software I can not watch any TV show that I have ever purchased from iTunes via streaming. Previously I had to keep a copy of anything I’d ever bought in case I ever wanted to watch it again. This included a lot of series pilots and single episodes of Survivor that I had bought at one time or another. Am I really going to watch episode 7 of Season 11 of Survivor again? Probably not. But If were to delete it, it would be lost forever, right? With this new update, I can see a list of all the crappy TV shows that I don’t want to watch again without them taking up precious real estate on my ever shrinking hard drive. I immediately proceeded to delete these from my iTunes library for a combined savings of 300GB.