Archive for May, 2009

Caught with my Bell Bottoms down…

Friday, May 15th, 2009

It’s fair to say I’ve had a fairly flat out week at work, and not enjoyed it very much having still been somewhat ill with a cold from last week. But I confess to genuine surprise, very enjoyable surprise I might add, when I happened upon TOS in JB HiFi tonight! Yes I’m an unabashed fan of TOS, and happily embraced the DVD version of 2004.

I can’t say what a shock it was to find out tonight that Star Trek: The Original Series was now out on Blue-Ray! I suppose I should have been more conscious of the impending release given that it’s “Logical” they would think the premiere of a movie returning to the franchise’s roots a perfect time to “milk” the fans yet again.

I admit to being severely remiss in not having known this was up for release, but I have always been happy with the 2004 DVD version. In 2007 I was sorely tempted to invest in HD-DVD and purchase TOS again then. However the $200 price tag held me back: thankfully. It was the only thing at the time that could have tipped me over the line at that point when I was 99% prepared to wait and see which High Definition format was going to win the war. That battle has now passed and to the Victor has gone the spoils…

Now that the next direction is clear, further choices ensue. But on that I’ve already ranted, so I won’t repeat that here.

I have to say that this is DEFINITELY theĀ  best presentation of ANY of the Star Trek series to date. Most who have been privy to any of my discussions re. Star Trek on DVD are familiar with my general disappointment in the quality of such sets: EXCEPT TOS. There is no doubt the quality of work put into TOS shines through when given some effort to make the most of the medium. TOS is DEFINITELY the most colourful and sharp of any of the series even though the technology of the day (for TOS) is now significantly inferior to that of later series.

I’ve constantly been disappointed with such choices such as that of format (obviously a production choice) including 4:3 vs Widescreen, and colour schemes. Clearly, those fundamental choices are subject to perceived consumer technology lifespans, market etc as well as Artistic choices. Others, such as a consumer product in the form of prerecorded mediums viz. tape, DVD and the like, are choices made later.

Despite my “devotion” to Star Trek, I’ve often been harshly critical of the Franchise that is Star Trek, and my perceived exploitation of fans as mindless instinct driven consumers. In this instance however, I want to say: FUCKING WELL DONE AND THANKYOU!

Having watched the first 4 episodes, I will say the following: Picture Quality is marvellous, Sound Quality equally so, and the extras Bountiful and “Nutritious”. I’ve seen the movie pack for sale as well, although I’m not buying that one until I see the quality via rental. I hope that the same effort has been put into remastering the first six films, but there my lack of faith takes over and I will wait: my Star Trek “Fandom” does know bounds. It seems that TOS is the only one of the “Pentalogy” that can truly be counted on to make the most of modern mediums. What a paradox!

Through the Window (7)…

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Well it’s lasted longer than a couple of friends tipped, and I’m still impressed. It looks like MS might actually have a winner here. Certainly it’s possible to be significantly more productive with the GUI in this OS than ANY previous Windows. Between those improvements, and the Powershell that they’ve been pushing with their new generation of products, I think that this is a strong move forward on MS’ part. I could easily be persuaded to purchase this Version of their OS. This is what Vista SHOULD have been. Don’t waste your time with the 32bit version, if you’ve got the hardware go 64bit. Whether you run any other 64bit programs or not, you’re going to see significant performance increases out of your box. I benchmarked a good 20% better in Supreme Commander, and I’ve noticed much better CPU and Memory Management with regard to the system as a whole while REALLY giving it a workout. I can’t imagine such aspects disappearing in the Retail Product that’s forthcoming.

Release (Candidate) Me…

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Well I bit the bullet tonight and installed the Windows 7 RC (64) tonight just to see if it looks even remotely like a reasonable upgrade to XP.

The installation was certainly the most uninteractive windows install I’ve experienced in all my windows installs going right back to Windows 2. But that said, it did pick up most of the hardware without any fuss. Networking worked, video picked up the dual head and monitors, speakers appeared to work. I installed the available Vista 64bit drivers for sound, network and chipset to see if they’d improve or break it. Seems to be running fine. Go figure!

I’ve not been a big fan of the “Vista” look, and Windows 7 certainly hasn’t lost that, but I suppose that’s to be expected. In many ways it’s just Vista SP2. However it does seem quite snappy, and after a bit of tweaking, I found a configuration that is tolerable.

Unfortunately I can’t find 64bit versions of most of my currently used programs, or most of my games. Still it’s interesting to watch them perform in the “compatability” mode I guess for such situations. The multitasking DOES actually appear to actually work much more “pre-emptively” than previous incarnations of the MS OS. Obvserving CPU usage, and memory usage almost has me convinced that this MS OS actually delivers on some of those long and tired promises. I actually DID find myself, multitasking under Windows as never before. I found no obvious struggles, at least at this stage, which I will admit was only a cursory workout for the moment. I’ve thrown on “Forged Alliance”, as this seems to be one of the most intersting CPU tests I can find in recent times, and so far, short of a crash when exiting, it did well. Others are yet to follow.

It MAY last the week out: more than I can say for most Linux Distros (bar SuSE) and XP64.

Feeling Blue(-ray)…

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

With the impending premiere of the new Star Trek movie I thought perhaps I should rewatch the early movies. I know many don’t find much to praise about the first movie, but I do like it and appreciate it in spite of its failings. Many of them could probably have been avoided if “executives” had faith in fans and ideas! “Wrath of Khan” is probably my favourite as for many. I shall follow these 2 with “The Final Frontier”, definitely my 2nd favourite: it’s a “cerebral” thing! Unfortunately watching them again reminds me how disappointed I am in the DVD releases as a whole. They seriously need to be “remastered” properly. Perhaps I’ll be happier with the impending Blueray versions. However I’ll be renting those first, or going to someone else’s to watch them. I won’t be wildly buying them. This moves me onto a Blue-ray rant in general.

It seems we must, just as we did with DVD, be subjected to the blatant “pig in a poke” attitude of studios once again. I’ve now gathered a small library of what I have considered the “necessities” for me, based on what’s available. Of those, I’m content that I’ve been given “reasonable” value for money with regard to most of them. In general my disappointments relate to one aspect or another, rather than a complete dud. I’d also preface this with the fact that I’ve on average only paid $25 (AU) for each of them.

Out of the 33 movies I’ve now bought, it’s amazing that several STILL come with only the standard audio tracks that were on the DVD. Admittedly the do sound noticeably better, but that ISN’T the point. It’s supposed to be a HIGH DEFINITION medium. All of them display superior visual quality, although I’d say that Coppola’s Dracula is a let down visually and audibly. It should have looked so much better. I appreciate that given that the film may have presented some test of skill to pull up for the newest medium, but I remember it looking glorious on the big screen. Surely it should have presented better. Especially given that as a movie it was a such an artistic and visual feast. Additionally why the fuck am I only getting a standard definition soundtrack? Alexander is the same: yes it’s visually better, but WTF is with the audio? Hopefully consumers in general are going to indicate that this is not acceptable. Paying 3 times as much for a better quality picture and “marginally” better sound is just a blatant rip off! Again.

We went through this with DVD early on with cheap trashy transfers at an exorbitant price. It held me back from purchasing many DVD’s, and it is also going to do the same re. Blue-ray. At the ridiculous price of Blue-ray discs at the moment I’m now vetting extremely carefully future purchases. Additionally I’m suggesting the same to my friends. It’s unlikely I’ll be buying Alien and it’s sequels without a preview on someone’s system or renting them first. The same will follow for any of the George Lucas films IF they EVER get to Blue-ray!

And, if the studios think they can extort $70 or more per season for shows, they (hopefully) are fooling themselves. NONE of the series I have so far seen offer a HD soundtrack, so why should I be paying 3 times the price? Presumably they believe that those who buy Blue-ray are not affected by any economic downturn, and will just buy anything regardless of consideration.

*sigh* Commercial extortion all over again, the cycle continues.