Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dwayne's Wednesday Romper Room


Maximillian: Created by Dr. Hans Reinhardt supposedly to keep the long lost spaceship Cygnus operating in 1979's The Black Hole. However, Maximillian serves more of Reinhardt's goon and is a bully to other robots.

(Image Courtesy of

The Chernobyl Kids

The Chernobyl Kids rocked the house last night!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

More fun from

Roald Dahl hosted a TV show in the early 1960s called 'Way Out. It is sort of a Twilight Zone/Outer Limits type show. They only made 14 episodes and has 5 of them. Being before video tape, the video and sound quality are -- not great. However, I'll let you be the judge of the story telling. Here is the premiere episode - William and Mary. It is the story of a terminally ill man who is given the opportunity to live longer -- in a jar.

(Hat tip to Boing Boing)

Aurora Timelapse

I think I was awed by the last time I went to an Aurora Timelapse concert...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Black Hole - Review - Part 2

With Dwayne's Robot Romper Room concentrating on the robots from Disney's Black Hole, I thought I would write a review of it.  However, I have not seen the movie since it was in theaters.  That fact made me want to do a two part review.  The first part was my recollection of the movie from that time.  The second part -- this one -- would be from me watching it today on DVD.

The reviewing review:

Well, that was a bit of a surprise. I was worried that it would not hold up, but it did pretty well.  The plot was pretty much what I outlined in the first review.  What I had not remembered was what Dr. Reinhardt's secret was.  However, the link from the Palomino crew and the Cygnus was Kate McCrae's father was supposedly on-board.  I had not quite remember that detail. 

Aside from the atrocious physics, the effects and the story do pretty well.  Clearly, Albert Einstein was not consulted in the making of this movie.  However, as just a popcorn muncher, it moves well.  It has all of the well worn cliche's from the westerns.   "Go on without me, I am done for!" was not exactly spoken, but that is in there.  The worshiping character who is the last to discover the truth.  The selfish character who betrays the rest only to die.  It is all well worn ground.  That is probably why many people give this movie bad reviews.

However, the nostalgia factor makes me continue to enjoy this movie.  Slim Pickens was probably the best part of the movie for me.  His performance still holds up -- as does Roddy McDowell's.  The effects were pretty good, and for the most part not simply used for the wow factor.  (Although there are a few of those.)  You can tell this was not a low budget movie.  They took care in the effects.

The small problems I had was why would robots need target practice?  And, why would they care if they won or lost?  This scene was used for character building of the robots (both the good guys and the bad), but it does not make a lot of sense.  If I were watching it fresh, I think i would find Maximilian Schell's performance was a bit over the top.  The ending still stinks!

I have to say this movie still holds up.  The visual effects do not look too cheesy.  The story does not mess around.  Things happen and they happen quickly.  It has a bit of the Forbidden Planet feel to it -- especially at the beginning.  You definitely do not have to wait around for the shoes to drop.  They drop quickly and often.  Thus, I felt that it had good pacing.  It has plenty of action and drama.  I will stick with my 3.5 stars.  It is not the greatest movie.  It was clearly made as an answer to Star Wars, so it pales in comparison.  However, you can tell the bad guys from the good.  The story does not get in the way of the effects and vice versa.  It is just a fun movie.

The Black Hole - Review - Part 1

With Dwayne's Robot Romper Room concentrating on the robots from Disney's Black Hole, I thought I would write a review of it.  However, I have not seen the movie since it was in theaters.  That fact made me want to do a two part review.  The first part -- this one -- would be my recollection of the movie from that time.  The second part would be from me watching it today on DVD.

The 14 year old Doug's review:

It seems to me that there was a time when Science Fiction was taking over the westerns.  After all, Gene Roddenberry pitched Star Trek as Wagon Train in Space.  Thus, many of the western stories were being recreated in scifi.

One common western trope was that of a town run by man with a secret of some sort.  He hires the sheriff who is ruthless and keeps order.  The town is ruled with an iron fist of the sheriff.  In this town is a wily old prospector who steers clear of the trouble in town.  Then, some outsiders show up looking for someone or something.  With the help of the old prospector, they solve the mystery.

That sounds very much like the plot of the Black Hole.  The ruthless sheriff is the robot Maximilian. The ruler of the city is the Dr. Reinhardt.  The prospector is of course B.O.B played by Slim Pickens.  The group coming to visit the town (the Cygnus) is the crew of the research ship USS Palomino.   It pretty much fits.

So, the 14 year old in me remembers fondly this plot.  Whether it is actually the plot or not, I will find out when I watch it.  I remember liking the robots.  At least, B.O.B. and V.I.N.Cent.  I was not suppose to like the evil robot Maximilian.  I found him quite ominous.  In this way, the story and the movie worked for me.  I remember very little about the movie except the robots and Dr. Reinhardt.

I have the thinnest memory of Anthony Perkins in the movie.  (I had not seen Psycho yet, so I did not know him from anything.)  Ernest Borgnine was in it.  I have no memory of him in it at all.  I had been a McHale's Navy fan (in reruns) so I knew who he was.  Thus, the protagonists other than the robots, left little impression on me.  That scares me a little.

The movie sucked the 14 year old me in.  The fairly simple plot, the good characterizations of the robots, and the awe of the spectacle were enough.  I am sure the effects are cheesy by today's standards, but they worked for me back then.  Maximilian scared me to the proper degree.  Thus, most of the elements worked for the 14 year old me.

The only thing that I did not like about the movie was the end.  Not sure what they were going for or what they intended.  I left the theater with a what was that? feeling about the ending.  In fact, I was so curious as to what they meant by the ending, that I read the novelization of the movie.  Well, to be honest, I just read the last chapter of the book.  I am still not sure what they were thinking, but reading the book made a little more sense, but just a little.

Fighting away all the negatives, I think I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5 (the modified netflix system).  It was entertaining for the 14 year old me of the time.  We will see if it holds up to the nostalgia waves that are likely clouding my judgment of the film.

Corrupted Plush Dog

Since I did not post one yesterday, here is your bonus WMAGNFARB: Corrupted Plush Dog!

Black Cubes in Paris

And now on our stage -- Black Cubes in Paris!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Iguana

Today's iguana is brought to you by the TravelBlog

Around the Campfire Comment of the Day.

As you may know, I run another blog called Around the Campfire.  It has been around a while, so it occasionally gets comment spam.  Here is a good one:

I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.
Here is the entire blog entry, that this comment was posted upon.

The problem with taking some pictures, is you can't get far enough back...
Hank in the Boundary Waters
This is in honor of our recent trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Hah!  Funny!

Spherical Sacred Cow!

I think I saw Spherical Sacred Cow in concert. Or was it A Spherical Chicken? I assume a Spherical Chicken...

Why I will never buy an iPod.

First, let us look at the iPod model.  You keep your files in this store.  You go in and browse around.  You can listen to your music, etc. while in the store.  Then you go to the clerk, and the clerk puts the selected files into your sack (iPod) when you leave.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this model.  In fact, there are some advantages.  It is a store, so you can immediately add music to your list.  If your favorite artist has a new album out, with just a few clicks that album is in your collection.  It is also a place where you can try out some music.  It is a one stop shop.  Browse the music.  Try out a few seconds of a song to see if you like it.  There are videos there.  All kinds of things for you to browse through.

I have heard, if your computer dies they will let you re-download songs you have already purchased.  Hence, you have a built in off-site backup.   This does not work for songs you obtained from other sources, but that is a nice feature -- if it exists.

Furthermore, you have a sort of P.O. box.  You can subscribe to podcasts and there is a place to deliver them.  In this way, when a new one is available, it is in your list.  You can tell the clerk, you want this in your bag too.

On the other hand...

You are keeping your collection in a store.  Therefore, at every turn, they want to sell you something.  Not to mention how much stuff is in the thing.  Try looking for some retro-swing in it.  Swing is not one of its genres.  So, you go to jazz.  Swing is not one of its sub-genres.  Thus, you have to look by artist.  But, if you are looking for something new in this particular style, then you are not going to have much luck.  If you like popular music, then you should not have much difficulty.  However, if you like stuff off the beaten path, then you are going to have difficulty finding the type of music you like.  Hey!  That's me!

Podcasts are a direct result of the iPod.  You can tell by the name.  However, good luck finding them on iTunes!  From my experience, the podcasts are not even split up into genres.  So, if you like one particular podcast, you will not have any luck finding something similar.  (I have limited experience with iTunes because my first few experiences were negative.)  It is far easier to go somewhere else to find podcasts that your are interested in.  The site of the podcast will generally have a special link to subscribe in iTunes.  Hence, you are far better off using Google to find podcasts than using iTunes.

Furthermore, since iTunes is an internet aware product.  It is constantly needing to be updated for security issues.  It has a TSR, and you know how I feel about them.  It is not a particularly good program for media consumption.  It tries (and fails) to do too much.  Not to mention, it is a store.  Why should it be helpful when it is giving away free things?

Now, iTunes can be run from any computer in your house.  However, you can only load media on your device in only one location.  You have to work it out if you and anyone else living in your house each have your own device.

The original iPod could be used as an external usb hard-drive.  However, that is no longer the case.  Gone are the days when you could put any file you wanted on your iPod.  If you need to get a PowerPoint presentation from one computer to another, you cannot use that convenient flash drive you carry around with music on it.  You need another external drive.  That clerk will not even look at files it does not recognize.

Have I mentioned Digital Rights Management?  Have I mentioned no control over the quality settings for your MP3s?  You see, iTunes was set up in a way to prevent trouble from the RIAA.  It is based on the thought that if people had full control over the media they purchase, they will do bad things with it -- like share!  This is why you cannot gain access to the iPod.  It is a portable hard drive that can be plugged into any computer with a usb port.  You could copy those files onto any other computer!  There are lots of other media players with the same design in mind, but the iPod is the most successful.

What I want, is a flash drive that can play media.  (my Sansa w/ Rockbox installed is like that.)  I can put any file I want on it.  It just appears on my computer (any computer) as a usb drive. 

In my world, I keep all my music in a central repository -- only accessible from within my house network.  While at home, I want my devices to have access to my full library.  In this way, I have set up an internal web page that plays my music.  However, iPods -- even the iPod touch and the iPad -- do not like to play music external to them.  Thus, they will not run my internal web page. (I tested it) Thus, an iPod would only have access to a portion of my library at any given time.  I would have to reload it regularly.  Which is another task that I have no interest in.

Since I feel the iPod/iPad and the entire line of portable media devices built by Apple are anchored to this dog called iTunes, I cannot ever see myself wanting to purchase one.  Further, the continued practice of controlling what is on the device essentially cripples them in my eyes.  It seems like that is the road which Apple wishes to travel, and I am certainly not going to go down that road with them.  This is just a brief overview of why I will never purchase an iPod.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A little link love...

I enjoy this guy's work, so since he is celebrating 2 years, I will give him a little love. 

(Image via Star Wars Action Figures Doing What They Do Best.)

Just for the record...

I did one of those random stripper name generator things.  It came out to be Odyssey Dawn. True story! (The truth of this story depends upon perhaps a faulty memory.) However, I do know that it would make a much better stripper name than a band name.

Cyborg Girlfriend!

Give it up for Cyborg Girlfriend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anti-Pirate Militia!

Anti-Pirate Militia is today's WMAGNFARB!

Dwayne's Wednesday Robot Romper Room


V.I.N.CENT (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized): In 1979's The Black Hole V.I.N.CENT (voiced by Roddy McDowall) had a psychic link with scientist Dr. Kate McCrae of the exploratory ship Palomino. He befriended B.O.B. and stood up to robot bully Maximillian aboard the Cygnus.

(Image courtesy of Flixster)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My current life in XKCD form

(Naturally via XKCD)

Not to be insensitive...

I have been keeping abreast of the goings on in Japan.  With the high waves, the radiation, and now this image...

I must say it sounds very Godzilla to me.  Is there some sort of high level conspiracy keeping the truth from the people?  Is the G-Force on the case?  Inquiring minds want to know!

(Hat tip to Boing Boing)

Nine Band Names

I could not choose one, so I give you nine metal band names.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A minor rant...

I would like to say a little thing about TSRs  (Terminate and Stay Resident programs.)

Back in the olden days, there was a 640kb limit on memory.  I know DOS is ancient history, but it is semi-relevant to this thread of conversation.  With this memory limit, those of in the IT biz, needed to be aware of everything running on our machines.  If it was not needed, it needed to be ditched.  Most of these things were TSRs.

Since I was in the IT game back then, I was keenly aware of these small programs.  I was also aware whether they were needed or not.  I knew how to rid my system of them.  I still know how, but many software manufacturers are making it much harder than it should be.

In the transition from DOS to Windows 95, the TSRs were placed in the Windows "Start" menu.  There was this item called "Startup Programs".  This is where they should ALL be -- even today.  However, some software manufacturers found out how easy it was to remove these things from the Start Menu.  This would not do!  That Adobe Acrobat thing is IMPORTANT!  Even if you only open a pdf document once or twice a month.  That TSR could save you an entire 3 seconds!  Furthermore, how will it know when to download its biweekly update?

Java, YahooMessenger, MS Messenger and others do the same thing.  Their programs are so important, that they need resources to go out on the internet and check whether their software has been updated. Further, it needs to do this on a daily basis. Why does your computer behave so slowly when you start up?  Because all of the internet aware programs check in when you start your computer!  These take up your computer's resources.

So, can you just delete them from your "Start Menu"?  Heavens no!  Why should it be easy to remove their beloved software?  So, they put their TSR load commands in the Registry!  You know, because everyone loves editing their registry!  Unwanted and unneeded program launches have no business in the registry!  Luckily, Microsoft has a program (MSCONFIG.EXE) that allows you to deal with startup items.  It is a little scary, but you do not have to edit the registry directly.

So, now that we can delete these TSRs there, where else could they be?  Google puts items in your "Scheduled Task" list.  It is a cheat.  They can claim how quickly they start up -- because they do not have to waste cycles on checking to see if their program has been updated.  That is because they do it whenever they want -- in a scheduled task.  All the program has to do is to put the scheduled task back in the list if it does not exist.

We had a piece of software running in the labs that kept the computers in a "Steady State".  Anytime the computer restarted, it would return to this recorded state.  Thus, any install or change in the computer could be undone with a restart.  We were constantly struggling with Google because the updater would run in the middle of the day.  The computer would restart, and the updater would run again.  That is one of the problems of the scheduled task.  It would also randomize the times -- to some time not in our update window.

So, computer software engineers, listen up.  First, if your software does not need to be internet aware, then don't make it be internet aware.  There is no reason that a movie player, or pdf reader, or any type of document viewer needs to be aware of the internet.  If it does not talk to the internet, it will not run into security risks.

Second, if you feel your program must be internet aware, make the check when the program starts up.  I will delete and stop your TSR.  No program (other than my web browser and antivirus program) is important enough to me to be constantly running.  I know my PDF viewer will check when I launch it, so I really do not need its TSR.

Third, if you update your software, you had better not reenable your TSR.  I fight enough with your stupid placement of your stupid icons, I hate fighting with even more stuff.  TSRs and icon fighting are just too much to deal with.  Fortunately there are alternatives for many of the popular programs.  I will use a small streamlined TSR-Free program over a bloated internet aware constantly updating POS any day!

Free Beer!

There is a very good reason Free Beer would be a good name for a rock band.  Envision the marquee...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

At the Minnesota Science Museum...

If I'd known, they'd line up just to see'm,
I'd taken all my money, and bought me a museum!

I will visit the exhibit soon...

Get on this Detroit!

Why hasn't anyone made a modern one of these?  With today's technology, this could totally work!  Carbon Fiber Flying car -- oh yeah!  Also, Amphibian Dirigible WMAGNFARB!

(Hat tip to Modern Mechanix)

The Electrocuting Kiss

I think my cousin is in a Kiss tribute band called The Electrocuting Kiss

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Evil lair progress...

Sometimes when I go to my neighborhood home-building superstore (or in this case -- a discount departmental super store), I feel like MacGyver.  (I won't mention its name unless they pony up some dough.)  Anyway, the reason I feel this way is the odd assortment of things I buy there.  Today's list:

1 container of Gorilla glue™
1 package of packing tape
1 gallon of bleach
1 tube of toothpaste
1 box of mini Charleston Chews™

Dwayne's Wednesday Robot Romper Room

Rhoda the Robot

Rhoda the Robot: (aka AAF709, Rhoda Miller)  She appeared in the TV series My Living Doll from 1964-1965.  Rhoda (played by the lovely Julie Newmar) was a naive robot trying to learn how to be the "perfect woman" (by 1960's standards).  She worked as a receptionist for a psychiatrist named Dr. Bob McDonald (played by Bob Cummins.)  She also lived in his apartment.  The womanizing Bob knew her secret, and it was his job to help her discover what it was to be a woman.

(Image courtesy of io9)

Remember to be polite...

...when the robocalypse happens.

(Hat tip to io9)

Automatic Tattoo Machine

Automatic Tattoo Machine would rock your socks off!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Evil lair progress...

Sometimes when I go to my neighborhood home-building superstore, I feel like MacGyver.  (I won't mention its name unless they pony up some dough.)  Anyway, the reason I feel this way is the odd assortment of things I buy there.  Today's list:

2 Wire Access Grommet's - 1" - Black
1 package of 60 grit sand paper
1 bag of 25 Oak Buttons
3 packages of 3/4" x 8' Oak Veneer edging
1 box of Whoppers™

Mysterious Cyborg Collie

Mysterious Cyborg Collie brings more synergy to the site!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It might be synergy.

Sometimes news stories coalesce into one meta-story that becomes perfect for this site.

  1. A story about iguanas
  2. A story that has a good name for a rock band in the title
  3. Robots or ninjas or cyborgs...
Well, 2 out of three isn't bad.  Ladies and gentlemen I give you Alleged Iguana Meat.
(Hat tip to Dave Barry)

Dog Tongs!

Dog Tongs is today's WMAGNFARB.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dwayne's Wednesday Romper Room

Gort and Klaatu

Gort: "Klaatu Barada Nikto" is the famous phrase uttered by Gort's human companion, Klaatu, when they land on Earth in the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still. Standing at 8 feet, he does little but stand and shoots his ray beam vaporizing any threatening Earth weapon.  

This will huff and puff and tear your house apart!

If this robot knocks on your door, do not let it in.  It'll tear the place apart.

Howls of Dismay!

I think I saw Howls of Dismay open for The Clash in my youth.