Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

8/24/2018

Sci-Fi Shorts

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:12 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I can’t get enough short sci-fi movies.

Seriously.
I mean, I know I’ve posted links to short science-fiction videos before, but I really think short, lower-budget film has come into its own lately. Oddly, I think it’s the opposite of what’s happened with the publishing industry, where short-stories have become less and less profitable, and therefore less interesting to writers. But, these days, with the low cost of hardware, video capture and editing tools, as well as distribution methods, independent creators are, thankfully, more and more willing to take risks on pretty experimental films. The intersection of sci-fi and fantasy creative ideas with very inexpensive and easy-to-use special effects tools can make for really interesting and fun short films.
And, today, I have several really great ones for you from IO9.com, in a post titled 10 Excellent New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Shorts You Need to Check Out. Really, the title says everything, but, if you follow that link, you’ll get everything from interstellar lawyers to samurai zombies to technology gone a little bit wrong.
All of which are totally worth seeing, especially if you’re bored enough to be reading this blog on a Friday!
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/10/2018

Existential Frog

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

More strange, short movies for you.

I tend to think of movies with special effects as something relative new and modern, but that’s just not really true. I also have to admit that I think of color movies not being a “thing” until after The Wizard Of Oz, even though I know that’s not true either. I honestly don’t know when color started to be a regular thing in movies, but I know that “special effects” of one kind or another have been around almost as long as movies themselves. Of course, just like today, limited budgets had a direct effect on the amount and quality of special effects in a film. And, also, just like today, artists who are driven to express their creative vision find a way to get that vision made, regardless of the limitations. What’s more, the very best of those artists stretch the possibilities of what can be accomplished.
One of those artists is Segundo Chomón, a Spanish director and cinematographer who lived from 1871 to 1929 and pioneered some incredible effects, camera tricks and optical illusions in film. I found him recently via Boing Boing, who shared his deeply weird short film from 1908, titled “The Frog”. I can promise you that it is strange. What’s stranger is how modern the effects seem. What’s mind-boggling, to me at leas,t is that it was done 110 years ago! You can see a larger selection of his work at The Segundo de Chomón Collection at The Internet Archive. They’re definitely worth checking out.
And, they’re certainly better than whatever you were doing that led you to this website on a Friday!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

6/8/2018

Free Film Noir

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I’ve mentioned Open Culture before, but they’re a great resource.

This week, I’m thinking about movies. Dark movies with rough “heroes” that smoke too much and chase after femme fatales in stories that have grim endings. Yes, I’m talking about “film noir”. The best kind of old movies, in my opinion. The peak of the film noir movement was in the 1940’s and 50’s, but there are certainly examples of great film noir that reach well into the 60’s and even more modern times. I think I identify with the hard-luck heroes from these movies, who are worn down by life and are always scrambling for enough money to get by. That’s why I was thrilled to see that Open Culture has a collection of 60 free film noir movies that I could share with my faithful readers.
There are some I know and some I don’t know there, but there’s also the classic D.O.A. and He Walked By Night, which are well known to fans of the genre. Even if you don’t recognize all the films there will be plenty of stars who you WILL recognize, and there are a lot of movies here to check out.

Besides, they’re free and it’s Friday, so take a look and feel free to leave comments about your favorites!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

4/20/2018

Hyperlight

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

A short film about a classic sci-fi problem.

It’s another Friday, and, as usual, my poor, little brain has been cooked pretty well this week. If you’re feeling the same way, we’re both in luck because I have the perfect 20 minute distraction from your week. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this very well done science-fiction short takes a fresh look at a classic paradox. The production values are high, as are the stakes. It’s thoroughly engaging and doesn’t talk down to the hard-core, old-school fans of science-fiction. If that sounds like a great way to take a break today, check out Hyperlight by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen on Vimeo via IO9.com.

And, hopefully, you’ll come back next week for something else cool for your Friday afternoon!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

3/30/2018

Prospect

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:20 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

A brilliant sci-fi short film.

You all know how I love free stuff and that I love science-fiction. This is both. And, it’s a film which debuted just recently at South by Southwest in Austin. It’s about prospectors on an alien planet, though exactly what they’re prospecting for is somewhat questionable. The risks they’re taking, however, are not questionable. Like all good science-fiction, Prospect explains nothing and just jumps right in and immerses you in the world the filmmakers have created.
It’s fun, definitely worth checking out and, frankly, if you’re reading my blog on a Friday, you don’t have anything better to do anyway.

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words by J K Hoffman.

12/15/2017

Star Wars Day

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

While you read this, I’ll be seeing The Last Jedi, in 3D on IMAX.

But, since it’s Friday, I still want to share something great for you. Something fun. Still, I also want to keep with the theme of rubbing your noses in the fact that I’m seeing the newest Star Wars movie while you’re stuck reading my dumb blog. Luckily, Star Wars and George Lucas have been in the news a lot the past couple weeks, so I have plenty to steal, er, “share”.
Let’s start with an article at IO9 about the fans who made an alternate Star Wars trailer featuring the original concept art by Ralph McQuarrie. It’s some live-action as well as animation, but it’s five minutes and twenty-three seconds of awesome. It’s definitely worth a look!
Then, there’s the student film by George Lucas that launched so much of what became science-fiction cinema for the past 40 years. His film, Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, would eventually become the feature film, renamed more simply THX 1138, which happens to be an awesome movie. The earlier, student film is only about 14 minutes long, so an easy film to sneak in at lunch. It’s a little retro at this point, but it still has a lot of the aesthetic that makes his later works great. Again, definitely worth a look!

Enjoy and if y’all are good, I may come back and share a review of The Last Jedi!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

7/28/2017

“Good Business”

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I love science fiction film.

Or videos. Or books. Pretty much anything science fiction related is worth a look from me.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a science fiction author. Not just a writer, but an author, which, to me, implies publication. I wanted to scifi’s answer to Ernest Hemingway. Instead, I became a professional computer geek and a consumer of science fiction in all its forms. Well, you win some and you lose some. At least I have that business degree to fall back on, right?

Anyway, that’s enough about my broken dreams for a Friday. How about a look at a scifi short, instead? That’s what I have for you this week, readers, via Boing Boing it’s a short titled Good Business, about an arms deal in the future that, frankly, goes about the way I sort of suspect every arms deal goes or has gone ever. But this one’s with aliens and pretty good special effects. And, it’s only about five minutes long, so you can sneak it in on a Friday while you’re pretending to work.

Have a great weekend and follow your dreams!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

5/20/2016

Science Fiction Short Films

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Also, they’re free.

In 2015, Sploid, a sub-site of Gizmodo, had a short film festival. Just to be clear, that’s a festival of short films. There were 21 films, many of which include some actors you may recognize. All the films were creative and, frankly, pretty amazing.
And, let’s face it, it’s Friday and you’re reading this blog, which means you weren’t doing any actual work anyway, so you might as well head over to YouTube and watch all of them. They are, after all, short films, so it won’t take too terribly long.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you this week, because I’ve been a bit sick and didn’t have a chance to get anything better together.
But, I think this will be good enough.
Enjoy, and I’ll see you back here next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

12/18/2015

Star Wars Fun and Games

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

The new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, opens today, and, in honor of that, I thought I’d share some Star Wars related links.

The first, which I hope is fun for everyone with a website, and who remembers the original Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope, is the Star Wars Crawl Creator. Do you remember the giant, yellow text “crawling” through space at the start of that movie?  Well, it was the first time we’d seen anything quite like…
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11/3/2015

Cutting The Cable – Streaming Services

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Cutting Cable,Movies,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Streaming content changes your relationship with television programming.

Of course, so did the DVR, but this is different.
I was probably a little ahead of the curve here, because I’ve been streaming Netflix since, at least, 2007.  So, back when it was still just starting to be a thing, really, I had gotten totally comfortable with the idea of streaming content.  In fact, the first of the three services I’m going to talk about might as well be Netflix.  As it turns out, when I decided to drop cable the first time, after Hurricane Ike in September of 2008, Netflix was the only service I had.  I didn’t realize at the time that had only really been possible since January of that year, but it didn’t matter.  I bumped my subscription up to the level which allowed me to have four discs out at a time and I actually watched more content that way than any other.  Let me tell you, binge watching Lost, four episodes in an evening, really opened my eyes.  Not only was it far more understandable and easier to follow the plot of an otherwise complicated and confusing show, but it let me indulge the obsessive side of my personality to my heart’s content.  Most of the time, I prefer movies to regular serial television anyway, but this really let me dive deep into whatever show was popular.  Well, whatever show was popular last year.  At the time, there wasn’t a lot available for streaming, but that changed pretty quickly and, for several years, I got caught up on  a lot of movies I’d missed and shows that I’d come to late in their life.
Now, Netflix has changed, but I still keep them.  And, I currently have an account that allows streaming and up to two discs at a time.  I have upgraded to the Blu-ray option, though, since I’ve upgraded my home theater system to a Blu-ray system.  I do that because there are a lot of things that I might want to watch which I can’t get via streaming.  That being said, for movie content, Netflix still has some of the best options around.  Currently, a streaming-only plan is $8/month for a single screen at a time, but will go up shortly.  I have a grandfathered plan that includes streaming on up to 4 screens and two Blu-ray discs at a time which runs me about $25 /month.  I expect that will go up at the first of the year, based on some news reports I’ve seen, but I think it’s still a bargain.  (You can check the latest prices at NetflixReview, though I don’t know how often the update them.)  Until I bumped up my network speed, we had a lot of issues with buffering if either of us were doing anything else on-line, but that’s not a problem any more.  If we start to have issues again, I’ll bump us up an additional tier, though.  We haven’t done it yet because at least one of our goals here was to save money.

When I first started asking people who I knew had cut cable what they streamed, a surprising trend emerged.
It seemed like all of them had Amazon Prime.  As it turns out, besides getting free shipping on anything that’s sourced from an Amazon warehouse, Amazon Prime includes a lot of free, streaming video. They also have a lot of on-demand streaming video you can buy.  So, the old cable “pay-per-view”, basically, only streaming and with at least as wide a selection, if not larger.  It really feels like Amazon is still building their video catalog, but they do have things that I can’t find on Netflix sometimes.  They seem to have a lot more television than Netflix does for streaming, too.  And, most of their stuff seems more current.  By that I mean, Amazon has more things that aired more recently.
Also, Amazon has some content that they produced.  Of course, Netflix does, too.  I have some those in my queue, at both Amazon and Netflix, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, so I don’t have any comments.  Though, I know Amazon won several Emmy Awards this year for their work.  In fact, in celebration of that, Amazon Prime was on sale some time back, and I got it then for $67/year for the first year instead of the usual $99/year.

The other streaming service I heard people mention a lot was Hulu.
Initially, I started streaming everything via my Sony home theater system and, since Hulu was one of the options available, I decided to try it.  I figured it was cheap, at $7.99/month for “limited commercials”, and they seemed to carry a lot of programming that interested me, like the SyFy Channel.  What I really like about Hulu, though, is basically two things.  One, is that it has a lot of the series I like and a ton of anime, which I love, but haven’t watched a lot of in recent years.  And, two, I can get a lot of shows that recently aired, like Agents of SHIELD, usually, the day after they aired on regular TV.  So, in some ways, Hulu has replaced a lot of what I used my DVR for in the first place.
Hulu also has a lot of more obscure shows, many from Canada, which I’ve never heard of or seen before, which can be fun.  And, the “limited commercials” are just that, limited.  On most shows, the ads are less than 30 seconds long and only show two or three times during an episode.  In some cases, like when my wife and I are watching different shows on different devices, only one of us will actually get ads that interrupt our show.  And, lately, the ad I see the most is from Hulu itself, trying to tempt me into upgrading my service to the “commercial free” level.  For an additional $4/month, I’m tempted, to be honest, but the commercials aren’t very disruptive as they are now.

All three streaming services we’re using have their own content.  So far, though, I’ve only watched original content on Amazon Prime.  Specifically, I’ve watched the first two episodes of Man In The High Castle, which is based on a book by Phillip K. Dick.  It’s been pretty good so far.  I’m also looking forward to watching Daredevil and Jessica Jones, which are both produced by Netflix and are Marvel properties.  They’ve gotten great reviews, even though the general public only has access to Daredevil so far.  Hulu’s original content is mostly comedy and doesn’t really appeal to me that much.  And, I have to admit, the original content is all just icing on the streaming cake for me.  None of the original work had any real bearing on the choices we made regarding streaming services.

All that being said, there is actually one more streaming service that I haven’t gotten yet, but plan to add; Sling TV.  They’re new, but they sound promising and they may be the only way we can replace some of my wife’s favorite programming, namely classic movies.  So far, Sling TV is the only way to get her favorite channel, Turner Classic Movies.
But, that’s going to be a post all on its own at a future date.

Hey, if you made it through all this and still have something to add about your favorite, or least favorite, streaming service, please, leave me a comment!

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