Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wylie Update

Originally uploaded by Bill Vollers
Wylie is now 12 weeks old. He's definitely getting bigger, and he's starting to lose some of his puppy fuzz in favor of some actual fur. Still has the same sharp puppy teeth, but he is starting to get a little more selective about what he'll use them on (i.e. not so much on my arms).

I was planning on starting him in puppy class after the Fourth, but I may have another emergency business trip (back to Barcelona), so I may or may not have to delay until August or even September. But he's already showing some trainability - we've added "in the cage" to his vocabulary, and that's a good one to have.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Not The Heat, It's...

No wait - it is the heat.

I love Austin and all, but then sometimes you see this...

In June! And that's in the proverbial shade.

We haven't even hit the hot months yet, and the front lawn's already a wasteland. Sigh.

Friday, June 19, 2009

TV Review: Doctor Who, Season 12

With the summer comes the end of most of my regular shows (until January! urrrrrgh). And so it's time to pull out some of the stuff I've had laying around for a while - such as the old Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes! Having just finished his first season's worth of shows, here's a quicky review....

"Robot" - Fun for the introduction of the new Fourth Doctor, not so good otherwise. As is often the case for this bare-budget show, the vision of the writers exceeds the ability to execute well on screen. The titular opponent here is a rather clunky collection of bits initially, and sadly the script decides to have it inexplicably grow to huge proportions, resulting in the usual bad blue-screening effect. The plotline is a fairly generic "superior scientists decide to become munificent dictators" story, with a dash of "robot develops human feelings" thrown in. Nothing particularly special.

This one's mainly good for seeing Tom Baker immediately jump into the role of the Doctor, hitting the ground running. Sladen's Sarah Jane meshes well with the new lead, and of course almost any time with the Brigadier is going to be good. But otherwise, not much of a story. Two stars.

"The Ark In Space" - I kind of like this one. It's got a lot of typical elements - Sarah stumbling her way into rescue situations, the suspicious commander, alien mental takeovers, noble sacrifices. There's not really much new here, but it's just a pretty basic, competent story. So it gets a basic rating of three stars.

"The Sontaran Experiment" - Filler. Just a two-parter, this one is mostly interesting for being set completely on location - and a location that isn't that same quarry they used for everything back then (like in the very next storyline, for example). However, the storyline mostly consists of people falling into rocky pits and climbing back out, and scenes of prisoners being tortured as scientific experiments. Unfortunately, the script has an entire galactic invasion waiting on the Sontaran to finish running an experiment to see how much weight a pair of humans can hold up - and then when the experiment is halted, the invasion is called off! Uh, what?

Despite a few good moments (like the fear experiment on Sarah Jane), and the different setting, this one really doesn't have much going for it. It is what it is - filler. Two stars.

"Genesis Of The Daleks" - Ah, but this one on the other hand....yeah, it's good. A definite grim atmosphere, from the battlefield scenes at the very start to the Nazi-invoking Kaled uniforms to the destruction of the Thal dome to the mutants - this one isn't particularly jolly, despite Baker's already perfected mugging. Yeah, there's a few strange moments, such as the giant clam attack (?), and some of the cliffhangers don't make much sense (in particular, Sarah falls off a scaffolding at the end of one episode, only to land on a platform just below at the start of the next one).

There's a great introduction to Davros, the Dalek creator here - sometimes a coldly calculating villian, others a shrieking personification of his Dalek creations. The weak point here, as usually was with the early stories, is the Daleks themselves - I never found them overly scary in their early clunky form. This was fixed in later stories, where they get the ability to hover around and move with some speed. And to be fair, the Daleks don't actually do a lot of the work here - it's mostly Davros and his thugs that do the damage.

I really can't give this one less than five stars - there's a bit of padding here and there, but this is about as good as Doctor Who got at this point in its life.

"Revenge Of The Cybermen" - Back to the set of "The Ark In Space", but this time dealing with an approaching asteroid of gold - a threat to the gold-fearing Cybermen. Only - well, I don't remember anyone actually successfully using gold as a weapon here. The Doctor and Harry try, but they don't end up having any success. This story tries a bit too much with traitors on the various sides - I'm not really that much into watching the political situation on an underground asteroid. Suffice it to say that no one's master plan here was really thought through very well.

I do like the Doctor's response to learning that Harry had caused a cave-in and almost detonated a bomb, though - "Harry Sullivan is an idiot!" Cybermats - not so much. This one gets three stars also for a few good moments.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yet More Playstation 3 and Mac Streaming

I've had a few posts in the past about attempts to get the various media on my Mac (in iTunes, primarily, but also some loose files not in a format that iTunes likes) streaming wirelessly over to my new Playstation 3. In fact, those are about the only posts anyone actually reads on this blog.

Oh well.

At any rate, one of my first posts mentioned an open-source project called, generically-enough, Ps3 Media Server. Back then, it appeared that the software worked, but didn't make the cut for me because it was a cross-platform solution (written in Java) that did not have any support for my iTunes playlists. I didn't really want to serve up my 6000 MP3 in a big jumble - I've worked a bunch on my playlists and wanted to use them over on the PS3.

Well, I've taken another look and over on the code site for PS3MS (or whatever it's abbreviated to), and they now have a Mac OS X-specific build that adds a couple of key options for sharing not only your iTunes library, but also your iPhoto library automatically. And I can report - it works well. iPhoto events and albums both show up correctly, with thumbnails. And the entire iTunes library, with playlists, artists, genres, etc. all show up as appropriate under both the music and video entries on the XMB.

There's even some support for streaming content from the web (YouTube and such), although I'm not able to get most of it to work myself. Maybe I need to twiddle around with the transcoder settings. I'm using a slightly older version (the latest builds are listed as Intel-only, and I'm still running on an old G5), so maybe there are issues that have been resolved by now. Don't know if the elusive Hulu is available through this thing or not (although I don't see how you would do any searching with this interface yet).

So, I'm giving this an extended shot. So far it's worked well....except that I do get some network issues still (with an error code of 80710736) during video playback. I haven't tried a wired connection to see if this resolves the problem or not yet, but I probably will at some point. At any rate, Mac-to-PS3 users may want to give the OS X-specific build a look.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Welcome Wylie

Been almost a month since my last posting, mostly due to being incredibly busy at work. However, amongst all of the madness, I have finally managed to bring home a new puppy. Meet Wylie:


This will be a new experience for me - he's only ten weeks old, and I didn't get Bailey until she was over nine months old. He's actually not doing too bad on learning - he's already staying in his crate without crying or peeing for hours at a time, and he's already claimed the kitchen as his sleep zone when he's not busy with other things (which is where I was going to have him stay while housetraining). He also hits the potty pretty quickly once he gets outside, so I haven't had to hang around much waiting for him to go.

But - he isn't housetrained. He doesn't know to ask to go outside, and if he's not in his crate or his pen, he'll just go wherever he is. The pee-pads are so far just great things to try to chew on, rather than pee on. So he still has some learning to do there.

Also, he's still just on his razor-sharp puppy teeth. I've found a few puppy-strength chew toys for him, which are his favorite toys so far. But he also is happy chewing on fingers, toes, arms, pants legs, etc. He so far hasn't done much damage to rugs or furniture, but that will likely come at some point (hopefully, just a $3 rug to start with). There will be a steady stream of puncture marks on my hands and arms until the adult teeth start coming in.

So far, he seems like he's going to be a smart boy. He definitely remembers things (like what he was trying to chew on a few minutes earlier when I took it away from him). He also definitely gets into a "Fierce Corgi" attitude when he's prevented from chewing on what he wants. But he's smart enough to know he doesn't want to hang around outside when it's 101 degrees, so at least he's got some basic sense, too.

Puppy class starts in a few weeks. So time to start studying, Wylie!