All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Skyline – The Review

Last weekend I mentioned that I couldn’t wait for Friday night because I was going to see the movie Skyline. Well, my friend Scott and I did go see this movie last night, and I decided to write a review of it without giving any of the plot away… I hope.

Truthfully, we knew we were in trouble when it took almost a minute to get through all those notifications of producers and studioes before anything got going. What we didn’t know is that the movie would only last about 90 minutes and never really go anywhere; well, at least I had some candy.

The basic premise of Skyline is that one morning at 4:37AM these blue streams of light start dropping out of the sky. Next thing you know, anyone who’s looking at these lights has the veins in their body start popping and they’re drawn to the light, with the next thing occurring is their being sucked into one of tens of alien ships that are hovering around somewhere.

The movie starts out that way, no preamble… and then it goes into flashback mode, 15 hours before that. What the hey? Not only that, but the flashback doesn’t set anything up really, and it only lasts about 10 minutes before we’re back to the lights again, only this time with a mix of what we saw earlier and what was going on that we didn’t see, but now know what’s coming.

From this point on we have fear and we have aliens. There are big aliens, smaller aliens, small flying aliens and the super large alien ships. The two early heroes watch as thousands of bodies are sucked into the ships, and for whatever reason they’re able to look at the light from a distance and not turn into something that’s going to get sucked in.

Everything takes place in one building, although when the military starts fighting back, we get to see planes and helicopters trying to take on these things. Only they’re indestructible. I just have to throw this one out. A stealth fighter hits one of the large alien ships with a nuclear warhead missile. You know that because of the way everything around explodes upon impact. The ship actually goes down, and there’s this large shockwave coming… only it doesn’t break any windows, there’s no fallout, and no radiation. And the ship puts itself back together. Later a guy is able to knock the glass out of another window with his elbow. A nuclear explosion can’t break glass, but an elbow can? Oh yeah; the ship that got blown up… it puts itself back together again, as does every alien that gets creamed by a missile or machine guy or bazooka or… whatever.

The only thing left to talk about is the ending of the movie. I’m not going to give it away, but I will say it was one of the stupidest endings I’ve ever seen to a movie. Scott asked while we were leaving the movie what it was about; I honestly don’t know. It had no real purpose; I guess they figured if there was a real alien attack that there wouldn’t be any conversation at all. Then again, if there was a real alien attack with ships this large I’m betting the military would have known it, we’d have all been told to leave the big cities, and maybe so many people wouldn’t have been killed at all. I mean, as kids we had air raid warnings going all over the place and practiced hiding under tables, both day and night. Not a single warning that there’s an alien invasion coming? Nothing on TV? Please!

I do have to add this. The budget for this movie was only $10 million, and most of the money had to go into the aliens, some of which looked pretty cool. The writing was bad, the storyline was bad, and no one looked particularly great. And one of whom I thought was one of the stars of the movie gets killed early, and of course it’s the black guy, and he was the only person in the movie I knew. Oh yeah; early in the movie the people in the movie think the water is safe, so that’s why they try to get to the water. I was thinking Signs at this juncture, but at the end of the movie you see that anyone who was in the water was killed as well.

I was trying to think of the last time I eagerly wanted to see a movie that failed like this; I can’t. I guess my string of picking winners is over; have to start anew. Skip this one, or wait until it comes on TV; don’t even rent it. You’ll hate yourself if you do. But if you’re not going to listen to me and are thinking about purchasing it anyway, then buy
Skyline from me. 😉
 

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Is This Scraping?

Something new has been added to people borrowing one’s content for other purposes. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, and thus I thought I’d put it out here for y’all and ask what you think about it.


Scraping Snow
by Erica Blasdel

On my business blog, where I talk about all topics associated with the different things I do in consulting except technology, I wrote a post titled The Quick Way To Organize? Get A Box! It was a recommendation for a way to clean up your space and then decide what you want to do with everything that was in that space, one piece at a time.

Hours later I noticed a trackback in my spam filter and decided to check it out. I always do that because if it’s a legitimate trackback I’ll let it sit as a comment on my post. What I found was that it linked to a blog that had the first paragraph of my post, most of it anyway, then had a product listed that the site is trying to push. Here’s that link. “nofollowed” of course. If you check it out, the product is on topic with what I wrote. And there’s a little line underneath saying “Full reference (Copyright acknowledge)”, linking back to my original post.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I mean, I can’t fully say my content was stolen since the site didn’t even use all of my post. It does give my kind of an attribution in linking back to my original post. Yet it’s using me indirectly to market a product, although the product, in some fashion, is about what my post was about, kind of like “borrowed” content.

So, do I view it as a free backlink, or as a piggyback onto my content to push it’s own product, like scraping? I really don’t know. I will say this, however. Because it’s different I’m not going to file a DMCA notice, and I’m not going to contact the person and ask them to remove it. This isn’t an endorsement; obviously I don’t know anything about the book, and it could be a good book. This is one of those slippery slope questions that might be personal choice, or there might only be one correct answer; I’m just not sure.

The questions goes to you; is this scraping, is it legit, how would you feel if it were you and would you do it?

America The Beautiful Pictorial Afghan Throw 50″ x 60″


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Bad Writing Kills Sci-Fi Shows

Recently it was announced that the show Caprica on the SyFy Network was being canceled for, or course, low ratings. People have started speculating on the dearth of science fiction shows and how they’re dying out and coming up with all sorts of reasons for the possible demise.

One site called Airlock Alpha had its writer come to a determination that what was killing many of these shows was injecting religion into the mix. Indeed, it lists Caprica, Lost, and the final shows of the very popular Battlestar Galactica as shows that decided to inject a religious bent into them and, for whatever reason, drove people away.

I tend to take a different view of this type of thing, and in a weird way it can be related to blogging as well. I tend to believe that some science fiction shows, like shows in other genres, might fail because of bad writing. Well, not necessarily always bad writing as much as a loss of what the shows were supposed to be about in the first place.

For instance, there was a great show called The 4400 on the USA Network. The first season, and it seems funny calling it a season since it started with, I believe, 8 or 10 shows, was absolutely fantastic. The general premise was that people had gone missing over decades and suddenly one day they all show up in Seattle, 4400 of them, with no recollection of where they’ve been. And, over the first set of shows, all of them started showing signs of genetic mutation that gave them superhuman powers of some sort, all different.

The second season came and everything went into the trash. No one had any idea what was going on with the show; it was like they had started a totally new series as opposed to continual exploration of what was happening beforehand, and that was that for the series. Nothing made sense; and you really weren’t sure who to pull for and who the bad guys were supposed to be. What you did know, though, was that it had nothing to do with religion.

For that matter the Sarah Connor Chronicles, one of the most awaited science fiction shows in history, flopped for the very same reason. The pilot was very good, but after that, the show made absolutely no sense. When the cyborg that’s come back starts having “flashbacks” of being a young girl when she not only was never alive but didn’t have a past to even be considering, you knew someone had been watching Dallas in the 80’s and decided adding ridiculous scenes was what made that show good (supposedly; I never could watch that stuff either).

In other words, bad ideas and bad writing killed those shows, not religion. I’m not a religious person, as you know, but this is one time where I just can’t let religion take it on the chin for something that has nothing to do with it.

The same kind of thing goes for blogs. I personally believe that almost any type of blog has an opportunity to make a big and positive impact in some fashion if some of the writing was better, and I’m not talking about spelling. Unique ideas, or old ideas written in a different and entertaining way will help a blog sustain itself. Being informational or even confrontational can help as well. But if you take a position on something such as gun control and the best you can write is “I don’t believe in gun control because I want to shoot my guns at stuff”, your blog is going to fail. Even supporters would be ashamed to own up to stupid writing like that.

As another point, in closing, I believe that Caprica ended up running into the same type of problem that Enterprise ran into. It’s hard doing a prequel to a popular show because we’ve already gotten used to certain things. A one time movie explaining the history of something works really well, but a full series is hard to pull off, and hard to keep on direction. As much as I loved Enterprise, as well as every other Star Trek themed show, it ultimately lost its direction in one full year by leaving what people expected in the series, that being ever changing themes and “baddies” along the way, not spending an entire year on one theme and then, when everyone thinks “finally, they’ve ended that arc”, going in a totally different and confusing direction; anyone who ever watched the show knows what I’m talking about (it went from chasing aliens who wanted to destroy earth from afar to aliens suddenly being Nazis; what the hey?).

Of course all this is my opinion, so I ask you what your opinion is. And it doesn’t have to be on science fiction; in your opinion, what type of thing usually kills new TV shows, if you watch TV?

Star Trek T-Shirt: Live Long and Prosper T-Shirt

Star Trek T-Shirt: Live Long and Prosper T-Shirt






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Easy Admin Color Schemes

Anyone with a WordPress blog knows that when you’re in the administrative area you have that one basic color, that color being gray. With one of my administrative tips, I showed you how you can go into the Users area and change the color to blue if you prefer.

For someone like me, that’s still pretty boring. I like changing things up a bit more than that, and don’t always like having to stick to the colors a program is offering me. I’ve shown you what I did to some of the websites I visit with Stylish and Firefox in the past.

I decided to search for something that would allow me to make changes to the colors, and I came across a plugin called Easy Admin Color Schemes. It was highly rated by many other users, and it seemed to be the way to go.

Once you load it, you go into the settings of the plugin through your plugin area and it comes up with a menu with lots of different things you can do. There are 4 initial choices at the top, and I decided to go with the last one, which is kind of red. The picture you see above is a screen print of what my Admin area looks like now. This works for me, but of course I did have to experiment some before coming back to it.

You’ll see you have two choices for other color alterations you can do. You can create your own, which is what I did to play around some, or you can import other color schemes. The thing about a scheme is that all the colors will be somewhat similar, which isn’t a bad thing, based on what I went with. However, you might want to diversify things a bit, and if that’s what you want then creating your own scheme makes sense. I’ll probably end up doing that one of these days.

I’m not sure if you notice it from the picture, but I love how it’s highlighting all the different areas better than either the gray or blue were doing. Being able to see everything easier works for me. Colorizing things makes it fun as well. I’m such a big kid. 🙂

Crayola Crayola Multicultural Colored Woodcase Pencils






 

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I Get Motivation From Things Like This

Ten days ago I wrote a Sunday Question post asking people how they motivate themselves. Almost everyone stated that they motivate themselves in a way that doesn’t involve anything on the outside.


by multimedia student

You know, I have to say that, in general, I’m not believing most of that. Yes, I’m taking a controversial stance, but I’ll explain why.

I’m known as the observer of people. I like humanity, even though I don’t like everything people do. But I see a lot of people go through their day as if they’re just following a script. They get up, go to work, come home, watch TV and go to bed. There might be some deviation, but in general that’s pretty much it. And they’re not often happy about it.

I’m an independent consultant. I do most of my work from home. When I’m on the road, I partially do what everyone else does, except I have to go out for my meals or have something delivered. The one thing I rarely do on the road, and don’t necessarily do all that often at home either, is watch TV. I find that I like deciding way in advance what I want to record for the week and then will watch when I’m ready.

So, I sit at my desk, at my computer, and I work a lot. Oh sure, I take breaks to do things like write my blogs and participate on Twitter and Facebook, but a lot of what I do is business oriented. This means that I don’t really take a lot of time to just relax and get things off my mind. I am at the computer until it’s time to go to bed, and it’s the first place I come after the bathroom when I awake. I’m always here.

But sometimes I just can’t get in the mood to do much of anything, even if I’m sitting here. I could easily say I’m driven to succeed, and that would be true to a degree. There are times when I just don’t want to do anything; who reading this can say that doesn’t happen to them every once in awhile? And when I don’t want to do anything, I don’t care about success, I don’t care about family, I don’t care about eating… I don’t care about anything!

Well, that seems kind of depressing, doesn’t it? But it’s not. The reason is that I only allow myself to be in that mode for short periods of time. Hey, if I don’t work, I don’t earn any money. I can’t fall back on vacation time because I don’t have it. I can’t just fall back on my reserves because that just takes money away from me and I then have to figure out how to replace it.

In those times, I look for motivation in other places. I’ve talked about motivational movies like The Secreticon. I’ve shared motivational videos on this blog, things that have made me feel better. I’ve mentioned the name Zig Ziglar here before, but haven’t talked about what he does as a motivational speaker all that often. He loves telling the tale about a guy who comes up to him and says “Motivational speaking must not work all that well because it seems people are always needing to be motivated.” Zig says “People also need to eat and bathe, but I don’t hear you saying people don’t need food or soap.”

His belief is that we all need to find ways to motivate ourselves at least a few times a day because no one is a machine. Thoughts of others won’t always get it done. Dreams of eventual success won’t always get it done. But finding other things that offer at least a moment of uplift… man, that’s priceless. So, I figure that if someone like me, who has stated many times on this blog that I want to be successful and a big deal, needs outside motivation from time to time, actually probably a little bit at some point every day, that everyone else almost has to as well. No one is happy or upbeat 24/7; not even Zig.

With that in mind, I want to share this video with you, although it’s not a great video. But it is a great song. Michael Jackson has done lots of motivational songs. This one is called Keep The Faith. He didn’t do a video of it, and it’s too bad. I thought about just posting the lyrics to this song, but I didn’t for two reasons. One, it’s super long; this is one of those songs where the chorus is repeated many times, but it’s a short chorus, so there’s a lot of new lyrics through to the end of the song. And two, I didn’t want to risk copyright by posting everything here, although truthfully that’s secondary to how long the post would end up being.

So, I post this video that has the music and the lyrics. I hope you listen if you don’t know the song, and I really hope you follow the lyrics. This is powerful stuff, and I doubt that anyone who listens to this entire song can’t say that the words aren’t motivating and uplifting. And if you really think that, don’t write it here. Enjoy:

 

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