Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Steve Carell Is Maxwell Smart

There's a new Get Smart movie in the works. Check it out. How am I just now finding out about this? Carell as Max, Anna Hathaway as 99 and Arkin as The Chief. OK, sure, one of these days Hollywood will run out of TV fodder - but I'm actually glad for a change it isn't today.

Movie Watch: The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

We actually ending up renting this from iTunes as a kind of half experiment, half need for western. The movie is simply excellent, a kind of slow and thoughtful exercise on Jesse James and the genre in general. The movie relies on very little in terms of generic motifs or plot devices and instead has a hard focus on storytelling and character development. It's rather haunting in it's beauty and Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck pull off simply brilliant performances, though the latter feels more like a standout role.

iTunes worked pretty well. I don't think there's any way to view the movie while it is download, which is a bit of a downer, but the movie itself downloaded in about an hour or so and we were ready to roll. Image quality was good, but of course we are still in the SDTV world...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Steam's "No Refund" Policy Oddly Well-Equipped

For a framework which likes to pretend that it doesn't need nor support the concept of refunds, despite being a framework which takes your money with essentially no promise of return for goods or services ... Steam seems well equipped for dealing with that alternative as I signed on for a bit of Team Fortress and got a notice telling me that The Club should be due for a refund.

Remember, peeps, when you buy from Steam (Valve) ... you get charged the moment you send your credit info ... regardless of what Steam decides to actually send you ... so if you spent $50 on an error message or completely non-functional PITA ... Valve's policy would still be to go sod off ... as they already have your money.

TV Watch: Lost, Meet Kevin Johnson

If anything, this episode was interesting because it was the first one this season to focus so heavily on a flashback ... and yet the flashback is closely tied to the current events of the island it almost didn't feel like a flashback heavy episode.

That's a good thing, because quite honestly the flashback heavy episodes of recent seasons have felt a lot like filler.

Instead we get some great scenes with Michael, some insight to his life post island, some basic feel for the time slip between the "real" world and the island (enough for Michael to make his way to New York, estrange Walt, meet Mr. Friendly, make his way to Fiji and board a freighter ... compared to what ... a week of island time?), and a concrete reference to the island ... not Jacob ... as an active player in the game.

Sayid's decision to out Michael is interesting as it shows his current alignment ... against Ben and anyone associated with him ... versus what we've seen of him later. I think we can also say safely that Widmore's goal is to kill everyone on the island ... but I still don't buy that it makes him "bad" and Ben "good" ... rather that they are just two opposing forces. Hanso was probably in Widmore's position at one point, and then Ben helped the natives take the island back. Widmore isn't planning on repeating that mistake.

The ending was a bit odd. It seems pretty certain Ben was planning Karl's demise and possibly Rosseau's as well. How could he know Alex would survive though? Ben's ability to more or less see he future is something to behold. And I'll love to see him pull a million dollars out of his hat.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Get Lamp Trailer

The documentary about text adventuring has added a trailer to its inventory:

I know there's been a lot of work going into this one, could be interesting.

10 Minutes Into The Skyfire Demo...

Skyfire is this nifty new browser for Windows mobile which honestly feels like it is fueled by some kind of black magic. I just got the text message to download the beta version a bit ago and have so far managed to browse YouTube, GMail and Google Maps without much problem at all. I even tested some of the Flex apps I've deployed and while slow and a bit clunky with the screen size - were functional.

The zooming and some of the other user interface could be better implemented, but having Flash 9 functional on a Windows Mobile phone is pretty damn impressive, to say the least. iPhone, shmiphone...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The iPhone SDK Actually Kinda Rocks

Work has bequeathed onto me a MacBook Pro and lo it twas glorious.

Seriously, compared my that demon possessed Lenovo Thinkpad this thing is a saint. It's not just the normal Apple pretty pretty that makes me say this - I'm actually get more done, more quickly. I no longer spend minutes out of every hour fussing with lost connections, confused video modes or rebooting because life just got a little too hard for an OS.

Now this didn't take place simply because I'm a swell guy and I complained to no end about the last laptop, but rather the advent of the iPhone SDK and the office's interest in the thing. This is a Mac only affair and I never, ever thought I'd be getting Apple hardware specifically to code Apple software ... but here we are.

The good news is that the iPhone SDK is pretty good. I've played with XCode in the past with some success and it only seems to have been improved since then. This is also a Cocoa only kit, so those dragging Carbon around like the kindly old relative it is will need to send it off the nursing home. Objective-C is the new black. And by black I mean the framework for builing anything on the iPhone.

Honestly, I don't even know why Objective-C has C in the name. It's somewhat C-like in structure, I guess. The grammar will throw any newbie in for a curve for at least an hour or so ... it actually helps if you've jumped the divide into C++ or the like for periods of time.

Don't get me wrong - there's nothing bad about the way Obj-C is setup. If anything, there's a lot of good to it - just be prepared to unfocus the eyes a bit to adjust. It's a little like those 3-D pictures they used to have the mall.

To date I have a simple app which pulls some XML off a server, produces a few lists off it and can generate some descriptive text. It's more or less a basic mutant RSS reader in an iPhone form. This is all running off a simulator as right now there's no legit way to load the app onto hardware. The simulator is extremely functional, though, and editing, compiling, previewing, and then repeating gets to be a quick affair.

So the question is - if one were to get their hands on this ... what would you write? What kind of games make sense in an iPhone world? Is there something that you wish you could accomplish in the palm of your hand not covered by a Safari based solution right now?

DVD Watch: Siam Sunset

Siam Sunset is a very odd little movie. It's actually pretty hard to determine if it is a solid recommendation or not because it isn't really one solid genre another. It doesn't have enough humor to be a comedy, the romance angle is actually paper thin and there really isn't much action to speak about.

It does have a lot of quirks that add up pretty convincingly to a pretty reasonable and creative plot. The main character designs paint colors and has a pretty idealistic life until bizarre accidents seem to follow him and eventually chase him to the more hellish sides of the Australian countryside.

We rather enjoyed it - but I acknowledge that the oddities are most of the charm. It would be a "give it a try but curb your expectations" type of film.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TV Watch: Riches Season Two Starts Tonight

Just a friendly reminder - the quite excellent FX show The Riches kicks off a second season tonight (9PM CST). If you never saw the first season, I'm honestly not sure how one might react - but I think it would be safe to say that if you started now you might have a few spoilers ... but largely the show has enough twists and turns to make the first season still pretty entertaining.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Movie Watch: Bee Movie

This was another one we saw on the flight back from Spain and honestly I should have warned you lot about it earlier. Honestly this movie is just not terribly good. It's hard to say it's outright bad - but ... ok it's just outright bad. It's not a lack of talented voice actors or the quality of animation is the problem here - it's just lousy writing. Maybe this kind of non sequitur, head-scratcher of a tangle works in kid's movie and sure, Bee Movie is something of a family film - but I was glad to have one of those tiny bottles of Jameson while getting through all of this one.

The plot just feels like it was written by three separate teams in different time zones and some poor schlub had the rather nasty task of assembling back together these various pieces into some sort of mutant frankenplot. Instead of rising, middle and falling actions - this movie has a plot structure more akin to a slightly retarded child doing windmills in the middle of the room.

Course, instead of writing something better the studio just decided to market the hell out of it. I've seen more coverage of Bee Movie than a political candidate. And sadly, some of the mini-skit-commercials Seinfeld did to pimp this whore of film were possibly better done than the film tiself.

Go rent that anime movie you've been wondering about instead.