Tuesday, 18 January 2005

Daily Planet star grabs Globe

Congratulations to Teri Hatcher on her Golden Globe win. A decade ago Teri's visage adorned the walls of many an undergraduates room. Mine was no exception.

Natalie Portman scooped an award sans force too.

Thursday, 13 January 2005

A Magpie's tale

After years of accumulating text and image files across 3" floppy, iOmega Zip and CD-ROM formats, today I decided to complete the transfer of my remaining data to a readable format. Document files dating back to 1988 appeared indecipherable until selecting the extract text option in Word 2004. The translator did an impressive job and all that remains is to correct minor formatting errors and the 'restoration and archive' project is complete.

In the battle against e-mail spam Microsoft yesterday distributed Entourage 2004 Junk E-mail Filter Update 1. This is a new service and further updates are to follow. On the subject of e-mail clients, I tend to use both Mail 1.3.9 and Entourage 2004 as neither application delivers an all in one solution to my mailing needs at time of writing.

Further to the release of the Mac mini. To all intents and purposes it is an iBook in a new form factor. Whilst the specs are below par (GPU and RAM remain Apple's Achilles' heel) for 'hardware intensive' tasks such as HD editing and playing Unreal Tournament 2004, this Trojan Horse is dynamite. Mac 'to go' please.

Tuesday, 11 January 2005

Mini size me

E4 will be showing the first of two The OC specials before the UK premiere of S2 tonight. And Warner Bros is set to release the show on Mini-DVD in Q1. Mini-DVD was originally developed for the US children's market and intended to compete with Hasbro's VideoNow. The idea has caught-on and mainstream electronics companies are releasing players for a wider customer base. The 3" discs (remember CD singles from Japan?) and Gameboy Advance SP scale hardware is the epitome of an always-on-the-move lifestyle! The format will also go head-to-head with Sony's proprietary PSP.

Today's Macworld Keynote from Steve Jobs may be considered historic in years to come. The feted 'headless' iMac emerged as Mac mini. A miniature marvel with a pedigree that matches the coveted Cube (2000) sans confusing marketing and prohibitive price! The SuperDrive option, coupled with Airport Express and Bluetooth, equates to a scalable A/V blockbuster beneath your TV (via Mini DVI to Video Adapter).

The zealous emulation community has dubbed the Mac mini a 'super console' when used in conjunction with MacMAME, SNES9x and PCSX (amongst others). From this Mac User's perspective the Mac mini evoked memories of the Apple/Bandai Pippin (1995) games console. The Pippin was essentially a stripped down computer (see Microsoft's XBOX) and predicted the popularity of online play (repeat income from subscription services).

The petite package includes iLife '05 (iDVD 5, iMovie HD, iPhoto 5, iTunes 4.7 and Garageband 2) and Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. I'd recommend considering iWorks if your budget precludes Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac (further upgrades are imminent and I'll post any significant changes).

In summary. It's easy to envisage these selling like hot cakes on Amazon UK and I'll most certainly purchase a Mac mini sometime this year.

And don't get me started on the ubiquitous iPod franchise. The iPod shuffle is the perfect impulse purchase and birthday gift (casual hint to family and friends). How long before both show up in hit television dramas and pop videos? Apple is the new Sony...

Although there was no official announcement regarding the release date of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. 10.3 Panther continues to reap the rewards of further development as Apple begins seeding 10.3.8. This has ignited speculation that existing hardware (PowerBook, iBook and iMac G5) will be refreshed later in the month or early February.

Monday, 10 January 2005

In the blinkx of an eye

I'd like to point your attention towards the award-winning animation series Star Wars Clone Wars! Unlike its live action inspiration or the overtly cynical Shadows of the Empire (1996), Clone Wars conjures exciting episodic exploits in the spirit of the original trilogy. It deserves pride of place on any collectors bookshelf. Fox is releasing S1 in March replete with worthy extras. The merchandise is cool too.

Tomorrow Apple/PIXAR CEO Steve Jobs takes to the Macworld stage to introduce new hardware and software products. And I'll post an editorial as soon as practicable. At the moment third party developers, including blinkx and Opera, are lifting the wraps off their new beta applications.

Sunday, 9 January 2005

Theatre of Dreams

Yesterday's wonderful FA Cup third round draw (0-0) between Cup holders Manchester United and Exeter FC (my home club) underscores the current synchronicity in my life! The look on Sir Alex Ferguson's face was one of unabriged fury at such a 'preposterous' result. His reserve team (an estimated £10 million worth of talent) were deadlocked by Conference League 'high fliers' - an achievement that has alluded many high ranking clubs.

In a stroke of delicious irony, mainstream broadcasters decided not to cover the draw live. This resulted in an editorial scramble to the detriment of an overshadowed Plymouth vs Everton. Here's to the replay at St James Park. I'll be there... Along with BBC.

Saturday, 8 January 2005

Attic Attack

In our attic I discovered (in a scene reminiscent of The Goonies) my Mattel Battlestar Galactica Space Alert LCD game! This novelty dates from 1978 and is, in actuality, a repackaged Missile Command. Mattel earnestly needed to maximize its investment in the license (arch-rival Kenner had Star Wars) and slapped BG branding on existing lines alongside action figures. Out of curiosity I inserted a single 9-volt battery and, hey presto, Cylon carnage.

The toy and game odyssey didn't end there! Milton Bradley's StarBird, StarBird Intruder and Command Base still reside in a darkened corner. The Command Base often served as an Imperial outpost (for my Star Wars figures) and Intruder, with its small footprint, acted as a Martian flying machine!

Boxed M.A.S.K. (Rhino was the signature toy of Kenner's The Transformers/G.I. Joe hybrid), Masters of the Universe, Micronauts*, Action Force/G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Transformers, Zoids and a walking Twiki (from Buck Rogers) occupy the remaining attic space reserved for bygone boyhood adventures.

Perhaps I should consider opening a Generation X museum?

[*Micronauts was the international name for Takara's Microman. Palisades Toys expended quite considerable energy on reviving the Micronaut brand between 2002 - 2003. Due to poor production values and market conditions, only two (three if you include the 1.5 set, which I own) collections were released in very limited quantities. Incidentally, the most famous incarnation of Microman are the Transformers (Hasbro licensed Diaclone and Micro Change toys).]

Friday, 7 January 2005

Sins of the Stepford Wives

Channel 4's premiere of smash hit US series Desperate Housewives garnered one of the highest ratings in the network's history. On Wednesday evening I tuned in to observe what all the fuss was about.

The impish main theme, composed by longtime Tim Burton collaborator Danny Elfman (drawing on his compositions for The Simpsons and Edward Scissorshands - Ballet de Suburbia springs to mind), introduced the dysfunctional inhabitants of Wisteria Lane. The principal cast, spearheaded by Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark), provides the requisite eye candy and the sharp script food for the brain!

A darkly compelling cocktail of The Stepford Wives meets Picket Fences and Sex and the City. Desperate Housewives is Twins Peeks for generation net. Can't wait for episode two...

Wednesday, 5 January 2005

The Third Space

Last November I speculated about the possible implications of PS3, XBOX 2 and Apple's shared G5 hardware DNA. Since Sony purchased and, predictably, ceased development (and support) of Connectix Virtual Gamestation (following a protracted legal battle in the 90's), Mac OS X gamers have been denied a means to play legally purchased PlayStation CD-ROMs sans Virtual PC. Now with the advent of PCSX (Public Beta) Mac Users can play their PSOne games 'Cocoa style'. I've not used the application, so cannot comment on GUI, performance or the level of compatibility, which is sure to improve as it undergoes further testing. I'll keep tabs on the development of PCSX and dutifully report here.

With the renewed speculation that Apple is about to release a Media Centre, and abundance of high quality emulators available for OS X, it is tempting to posit that the Mac is fast becoming the gaming platform of choice for the digerati! In the words of Homer Simpson "Mmm, MacMAME machine..."

Alias S4 starts tonight and you'd be a fool to miss it. Another Jennifer worthy of a mention is JLo! Get Right has the distinction of being my first downloaded song from iTMS in 2005! Her fourth studio album, Rebirth, is scheduled for a March release.

Tuesday, 4 January 2005

By the Lords of Kobol!

The notion of Sky's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica was, initially, met with derision. Until I started watching S1 (currently airing in the UK ahead of its US debut) and was delighted to discover that the series owes more to the paranoia of the X-Files (Cylons replacing Colonials) and the Vietnam analogy Space: Above and Beyond than its namesake (not dismissing S1).

The Cylons are no longer a cyber-reptilian race (as described in the 1978 Grandreams annual), but are robotic slaves that rebelled and overthrew their human masters - now the Cylon war machine relentlessly pursues the embattled survivors across the galaxy (as in the original premise). The CGI is superlative for episodic television, and the dogfights ape the cinematography of Apocalypse Now (see also Star Wars: Attack of the Clones).

Not all is perfect in this brave new world. Human actors replacing the colourful Cylon variants of the original is too convenient and unimaginative. And the CGI Cylon Centurions are cumbersome a la the Sandtroopers in Star Wars: A New Hope (Special Edition and DVD release).

As I missed the mini-series* and opening episodes of S1, it remains to be seen if the Cylon Imperious Leader has transferred to the new format (albeit in a radically different guise, for example as a super computer along the lines of Skynet)!

*I may checkout the R1 DVD release and post a review in the future.

Saturday, 1 January 2005


Happy New Year to all.

Very special thanks to two of my friends, Ben and Michael, for the amazing Star Wars Christmas gifts, which now take pride of place in front of my Plasma television!

The lighting set-up is below par and I don't own a tripod, but this evening's impromptu photographic session was an opportunity to install the firmware 2.0 upgrade (released two years ago) onto my Canon PowerShot A70 camera! And also the updated version of Canon's digital camera utilities for the Macintosh platform, which includes ImageBrowser 5 and CameraWindow 5.

It is my intention to further explore photography this year.