Archive for October, 2007

The Michael Clayton Experience

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

This past Friday I got a chance to see Michael Clayton.
Clayton_Clooney
This weekend is right before Halloween, so I imagine everyone was out partying it up. That and the fact that this movie actually requires the use of your brain and has been out for several weeks was probably why there were only 2 other people in the theater when my girlfriend and I got there. Seeing the other two people in this empty theater, I realized I had to take advantage of this opportunity. I started walking up the steps (in this theater capable of seating at least 100+ people) and stopped at the row with the only other couple in the theater. I began to approach them as I was though I was going to sit right next to them. I actually was thinking about just simply sitting down and telling them how I think this movie is really going to rock. I did not want to take it that far though in the event that the guy did not share my sense of humor. I did stop half way through the isle and smile and said “just kidding” and turned around and went to go sit reasonably far away from them. I’m very sure they really didn’t want me to sit next to them with the over abundance of seating. I think they did find the gesture somewhat humorous though.

Clayton

I will start out with stating the movie is very involved – much like All of the Presidents Men and Ghost In The Shell. What could a 70s movie about Nixon and Watergate and a late 90s anime about cyber crime and Artificial Intelligence possibly have in common? Both are my favorites and both take multiple viewings to completely get the proper perspective on much of what is going on. In short – during the course of the movie, you may find yourself wishing you had brought a notepad to take notes with all that is going on with the plot. The characters in the movie go through a great deal of growth during its course. Michael Clayton (played by George Clooney) is a janitor (Legal Consultant) that tailors to really rich clients by cleaning up the mess they get into. So say when Dick Chaney’s daughter is found in possession of coke after being arrested for prostitution, our beloved vice president would eventually come in contact with Clayton for help cleaning up his mess. Although, I’m sure there are plenty of other graver skeleton’s in Chaney’s closet he could use help with other than his daughter. Evil Laugh. During the course of the movie however, Clayton comes to the epiphany that he is better than his occupation and capable of greater, nobler positions. He comes to this revelation when helping a fellow ‘janitor’ who everyone else claims is insane. I give the movie a 3.9/5, but I wonder if after more viewings I would rate it higher. This movie made me think, something I haven’t had to really do for a movie for quite some time. Most of the summer block busters (Transformers, Die Hard 4) were still good but not much thought was required on your part, simply sit back and enjoy CGI/violence (which again is not a bad thing). But this movie dares you to use your brain and rewards you for recognizing its allusions.

30 Days Of Night [Review]

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

This past Saturday I caught 30 Days of Night with my girlfriend Lindsey.

30Days

First and foremost, I will start out saying this is Rated R for some pretty gory violence. This is definitely NOT something you want to chance showing your 14 year old on the hope it is only rated R for mild swearing. The movie was more gory than it was scary. If you want to see this because you’re a thrill junkie looking for a scare, go elsewhere this Halloween. If you are looking for an epic tale about Vampires, again look elsewhere.
AVPR
This movie is rather built around the premises that during the 30 days of the year Alaska has no sun, the inhabitants of this small town (in Alaska) are screwed as vampires come to enjoy an early Thanksgiving.The movie had a few plot holes and an ending (which I won’t leak to you) that was rather disappointing. On that note, like some zombie movies, this movie does not offer you much closer (but this is not why the ending sucked in my opinion). The movie did have some interesting little tidbits (axing vampires, above average graphic violence).

I settle with giving the movie a 2.8/5. The cost of the ticket is worth the movie’s performance but only that and nothing to write home about. Just another stopgap between now and greater movies. If you do catch 30 Days of Night, you do get another glimpse at AVP:Requiem with what I think iss a newer trailer than whats floating around on the net at the moment.

I also saw Elizabeth II: The Golden Age. This movie isn’t even worth it’s own blog entry. It was less then mediocre and lands a 2/5. Some highlights were the costumes were very intricate and the concept of another Elizabeth movie is kind of novel (this is a legitimate sequel to the first movie which was much better in my opinion). However the movie dragged on for 2 hours and I was definitely not thrilled about having to endure 120 minutes of a rather boring soap opera with terrible battle scenes that made one suspect they may have ran out of funding to do something more elaborate.

Endless Possibilities – Storm Trooper Costume

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

StormTrooper DumpI know Halloween is just around the corner, but my desire for owning a stormtrooper actually has nothing to do with Trick Or Treating. The top ten best activities I fathomed for the costume would be most hilarious at any time except Halloween:

1. Teaching your first day of class (in a StormTrooper Costume)
2. Going to Church
3. Doing your Grocery Shopping
4. Answering the door to sign for your Fed-Ex Package
5. Renting Star Trek From your Local Video Store
6. Going to Harry Potter Conventions
7. Going to a Funeral
8. Going to a Wedding
9. Working out at the Gym
10. Ice Skating

Look – even Numa Numa can be enhanced with a stormtrooper costume.

Unfortunately, authentic the costumes go for $650+. Some sites do have guides on how to make your own stormtrooper outfit.

Nicholas Teaching DSP Apps Course

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Nick I recently found out that the graduate course I am teaching, Digital Signal Processing: Applications, is hosted online at UCF for the public to see! I originally thought these lectures could only be accessed through a university web based system for registered students. However, someone today showed me where ANYONE and EVERYONE can view the lectures.

My website I use to supplement the DSP Apps course can be found here:
http://teach.nshorter.com/html/eel_5513.html

You can view ALL of the lectures I have taught so far on the University Tegrity Lectures:
http://tegrity.ucf.edu/TegrityUtils/GetCourseListing.asp?courseId=eel5513c
This tegrity link has better resolution then the FEEDS link. It also has my portrait shown as well as the top down view of the notes I am writing.

If you are having trouble viewing the above link, or do not feel like upgrading your browser or installing any (completely safe) scripts that site requires, you can view the lectures in a lower resolution here:
http://feeds.ucf.edu/VideoFiles.asp?Action=ListFiles&ClassID=EEL55131030
Note the above FEEDS link does not show my face, just top down view (basically my hands).

All of the University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering courses that are taught through the Tegrity/FEEDS system can be downloaded for anyone to watch: Tegrity Lectures & Feeds Lectures.

I am really a big fan of this as it is basically FREE knowledge! There are a few courses in which I am not registered for, but are recorded, that I plan on downloading and hopefully watching.

My lectures for the most part consist of me simply going over notes I have prepared for the course with the help of my adviser and the dean of the college of engineering and computer science. I occasionally do break away and tell some stories here and there, some jokes in which practically no one laughs at (i’m working on this GRIN), and some Matlab Demonstrations.

Dead Fantasy I

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Credit goes to Andy (or Snow Wolf as I have met him across various forums) for this find as I saw it on his blog first.

This is definite pretty sweet and worth 4 minutes of your time: Dead Fantasy I

Voices of the Lifestream Review

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

So after a little over a week, I have gotten a chance to listen to all 4 discs of OCRemix‘s Voices of the Lifestream. Out of the 4 disks made, I found the following 9 songs to be ones that I plan on listening to again:
Disk I:
(5) norg,SnappleMan – Full Frontal Assault
(9) zircon – Nomura Limit
Disk II:
(8) Trenthian – Crystal Sermon (The Prelude)
(11) bLiNd – JENOVA Celestial (J-E-N-O-V-A)
Disk III:
(1) Red Tailed Fox – Suco De Melancia (Costa del Sol)
(6) Red Tailed Fox, Shnabubula – Midnight at Club Corel (Mining Town)
(7) FFmusicDJ Ahead On Our Rave (On Our Way)
(10) bLiNd, Leifo – Fading Entity (Listen to the Cries of the Planet)
Disk IV:
(3) Star Salzman – Airships Make Me Happy (The Highwind Takes to the Skies)
A lot of the songs were pretty good. A few of them, I unfortunately have to admit, I listened to for about 45 seconds and then passed over. But the ones above I found were really superb remixes that could have easily went along side the original score and would have enhanced that incredible game we’ve all come to cherish so much! Although, I did find OCRemix’s Chrono Symphonic better overall then the Voices of the Lifestream compilation, but regardless, the Voices of the Lifestream was still pretty sweet.

FFXII
In some other related Final Fantasy news, I recently discovered the other day, while talking to Jess – another FF connoisseur thumbs up, that the price of Final Fantasy XII has dropped to a quite affordable $18.99!!

I link you to Deep Discount as I’ve done business with them before. There are of course other vendors also selling the game at competitive prices, but at least with Deep Discount DVD you get free shipping on that title!
If you already own a PS2, then you should DEFINITELY pick up this game as it is well worth $18.99. That really isn’t saying much, but let’s put it like this – I bought the game at launch for over $60.00 and have loved every moment of it!
Omega Mark XII
I recently picked FFXII back up again after an extended break from the game. I am at that point in the game where I only have to finish the last boss and am now able to freely and fully explore the rest of the optional parts of the game. Beating the boss and seeing the ending will be disgustingly easy at this point, but I am trying to hold off on doing that and make a push to fight and hopefully beat the Omega mark. I actually did come across someone who posted a video where he beat Omega Mark with a 122333 save:
[1],[2] and [3]. A ‘122333’ save is a save where you go through the entire game without earning any experience (this can be done by equipping a relic that prevents you from earning XP after a given battle). All of your characters are not level 1 because in the game when Fran & Balthier joins the party they are 1 level higher than Vaan. When Basch, Ashe & Penelo permanently join the party they are 2 levels higher than Vaan.
I have no idea if I will ever get to that point. First I have to beat Omega Mark and the game on a normal save before tackling this disgusting, masochistic feat.

Voices of the Lifestream

Monday, October 1st, 2007

During my morning coffee before the start of the day, I satisfy my ADD craving by frequenting like 20 sites (which I wind up checking later again and again to help feed a different craving).

I typically visit some of the following sites on at least a weekly basis:
Computer Related:
Overclockers Forum – This amazing community is perfect for all of your computer related questions
Anandtech – These people do an awesome job benchmarking various computer components
Misc.:
Slick Deals – For all your compulsive spending needs
Final Fantasy Online Forums – This community seems to be kind of fading but still is a nice small, close knit bunch that virtually congregates to talk about Final Fantasy related hoopla.
Apex Guild Site – I belong to the Apex WoW Guild on the Argent Dawn Server. Most of the mods you see on that site for their phpBB installation were installed by me!
Comics:
Penny Arcade – Tycho and Gabe could cure cancer with the laughing power of their comics
Ctrl+Alt+Del – Tim Buckley has some pretty hilarious comics every now and then
PhD Comics – Jorge’s PhD Comics are definitely hit or miss and some are only funny if you went to school for too long.

During my visit to the FF Online Forums, I stumbled across a thread and then link to this: Overclocked Remix’s Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Life Stream!
This is a remix of the Final Fantasy VII Original Sound Track.

Lifestream

I am currently listening to the first CD – Crisis. You can download the individual tracks (as mp3s) from the website or the entire CD as a torrent. The first half of the first CD is ok – still listening as I am typing this. One of the songs Full Frontal Assault was pretty neat.
Cloud
I have listened to OC’s Chrono Symphonic, and I have to say that was absolutely incredible! Some of the songs sounded even better then the original game’s soundtrack!
Chrono Symphonic