If you’re one of those people that doesn’t think to update your applications then keep reading. You are probably missing out on new features and still have unpatched versions of programs. Ninite offers an easy fix for the lazy.
I stumbled upon Ninite from a lifehacker article a while back. Previously I was familiar with the FileHippo updater that works quite well, but still requires users to manually go to each program link and download the update. Ninite is a no nonsense tool that downloads updates to your commonly used programs. It automatically installs whichever programs you select without the toolbars, changing of your home page, and other packaged garbage. Ninite currently offers a wide variety of programs to choose from including popular browsers, iTunes, Adobe flash, and many others.
To get started, head over to ninite.com . Then choose the programs you either use currently or any additional ones you want to install. After you’re finished scroll to the bottom and select “Get Installer”. Ninite downloads as a small file, then you’ll run it. It will begin to run and download and install the applications you’ve selected. For $29.99 (for 5 machines over 1 year) you can have Ninite run automatically and download and install updates with no interaction needed. They also have tiered plans to manage multiple machines at once, while eliminating the annoying update notifications. This is a great option for a small network or maybe even a corporate environment.
I’m not one for genres, especially when it leads to a debate. I’ve seen these guys being labeled as lo-fi pop punk, which seems pretty accurate to me. Sprinkle some indie, some punk, and some rock and you’ve got the Cloud Nothings. They’re a group out of Ohio and according to their wikipedia page they were the first on Pitchfork to have their album labeled “Best New Music” in 2012. Their third album entitled Attack on Memory is deserving of the aforementioned achievement.
Attack on Memory is simple, not overly “rocky” and not overbearingly indie. You know what I mean? Like those bands that just picked up instruments, play at coffee shops and that you can’t hate because it’s “artsy”. Cloud Nothings blends rock, indie and punk into a wonderful mix on their latest album. ‘Wasted Days’ is my favorite track on the album and the band manages to stay consistent throughout the entire album. Not straying from their style or throwing in any unusual surprises. It’s not a perfect album, the lyrics are pretty simplistic, but the album is great nonetheless. Definitely could be considered in the top albums of 2012.
It’s not uncommon for restaurants to have their own mobile site, and some have their own apps. Most feature almost no functionality and serve no other purpose other than to exist. Tim Horton’s is a staple for those in Canada and northern United States. Before seeing @TimHortons post about their app on twitter, I had no idea it they even had one. Curiously, I navigated to the market on my Galaxy Nexus and downloaded the TimmyME app. To my surprise the app was quite impressive.
To start the entire interface for it is very clean and easy to navigate. TimmyME has large buttons with pictures on them for easy selection. It simplifies everything as it should. The first feature is the traditional location finder. It finds the nearest 10 Tim Horton’s locations to your GPS location on your phone. The second and maybe my favorite button is one that allows you to check your Tim’s card balance in real time. For those fortunate enough to have Tim Horton’s in your neighborhood, probably received some Tim’s cards for Christmas. This is an easy way to see how much is left on those cards. The app also includes the nutritional info for almost everything on the menu. There is an option to interact with Tim Horton’s on social networks like twitter and facebook. You can also contact Tim Horton’s right through TimmyME. The final button is a great idea for a Tim Horton’s app, an order notepad. So when you’re designated to go out in the frigid winter to pick up hot coffee and donuts for the family, you don’t forget anybody.
For a relatively small chain (compared to a Wendy’s or McDonald’s), this app is incredibly useful. Although it installs at a 7MB size, and doesn’t feature a full menu of what Timmy’s has to offer; this app is quite handy for most people’s favorite coffee stop. TimmyME is available on both Android and iOS devices with links below.
A Meditation on People and Their Environment
Alexander Payne is known for his off-beat, satirical dramas that tend to also be placed in the comedy category. No doubt his films are funny, but the comedy comes from the resonance that Payne is able to fold into his narratives. The scenarios that we see are painfully funny. Payne re-wrote the script that was co-written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Payne has been doing this with great success since Citizen Ruth (1996). The Descendants (2011) is Payne’s latest addition to his impressive body of work which includes the high school set political satire Election (1999), the meaning of life meditation About Schmidt (2002), and the coming of age in their forties picture Sideways (2004). These films often contain subject matter that is so appalling and tragic that if you do not laugh, you’ll cry. The thing that makes the subject matter so appalling is that we can all relate to the scenarios that Payne presents to us; we all know the people that Payne introduces us to (we even see some of them in the mirror). Call them comedies if you like, because you will laugh watching an Alexander Payne film, but take a moment to look a little deeper next time you are enjoying one.
What would you do if your husband, wife, or significant other was in a tragic accident that left them in a coma with little chance to live? Would you take charge and do everything that you can to make sure they are getting the best care, and make sure that you are there for your family? Maybe you would crumble under the pressure and be unable to do what is best for everyone (and I’m not talking about pulling the plug or not pulling the plug). Perhaps you would turn to those around you and ask for the support that you need. People end up in these unexpected situations all the time, and there is no right answer. Until you are in that position you will never truly know what you are facing. Making decisions during a time that is literally life or death would be, without a doubt, difficult for anyone though. How would you feel if you found out that your significant other who is currently lying in a coma was not being faithful to you prior to the accident? This is exactly what happens to Matt King (George Clooney) in The Descendants.
Matt King is the sole trustee of the last big parcel of undeveloped land in Hawaii. It was passed down to his family by their ancestors. An unfortunate law is requiring that Matt and his family sell off the land, so the Kings are meeting to decide who it would be best to sell to. They will all be made very wealthy by the decision (the number 100 million dollars comes up), but it is ultimately up to Matt to decide what happens with the land. This is a big responsibility, to put it very lightly. Matt meets with some of the cousins from time to time, and there are differing opinions on who the family should sell to, or if they should even sell at all. At the very same time, Matt’s wife is lying in a hospital bed, her fate unsure. Matt has always been responsible with matters of work and finance, but he even admits in his narration, “I’m the backup parent, the understudy.” Matt begins to realize that maybe his priorities were a little off when he has to start being there for his children, and this notion is cemented further when he finds out that his wife was cheating on him because he was never around.
The first step in Matt’s journey is to get his older daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), and bring her home from boarding school. We find out that Alexandra is a wild child that her parents are unable to control. Boarding school may be what some children need, and it may be very helpful to them, but this is not the case with Alexandra. When Matt arrives to pick up his eldest daughter she is not in her room. Instead, she is outside drinking with a friend. Clearly boarding school is not working for her. Matt remarks “this is what I pay $35,000 a year for.” To him, everything is seen in terms of dollars and cents. Early in the film when he is explaining that many of his cousins have wasted their inheritance, he makes sure to point out that he has never touched that money, and that he sustains his family’s lifestyle with the earnings from his law practice (he specialized in real estate law). He seems to be under the impression that if he provides his family with a stable income, in a responsible way, everything will be fine. Everything was not fine though, and it becomes clear that things were not stable for quite some time. Scottie (Amara Miller), Matt’s youngest daughter, is acting out in school because she has no outlet. Alexandra is into drugs and older men because she does not have a great relationship with her mother or father. Matt’s wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) has a love of extreme sports and other men because Matt is so absent in their marriage; he does not give her the excitement she seeks. Matt cannot see any of this though, until it is too late (at least to save his marriage). It takes Elizabeth being put into a coma, and Matt being forced to leave his comfortable office for him to notice that he was not being a great father or husband.
Remember when you’d pay $1.99 a month to be able to download 3 ringtones a month. Yeah, those days are long behind us. Even before the smartphones ran wild, you could put your own ringtones on your phone. So assuming you own some music this can be achieved even easier with the new phones of today. I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on creating your own ringtones easily in iTunes. Even if you aren’t a fan of Apple products, or you don’t use iTunes; I think this may be the easiest method I’ve come across.
Normally I don’t cover sports, especially not football. But in this case, I have become so infuriated with the comments against Stevie Johnson and his touchdown celebration during the Jets/Bills game on Sunday, November, 27th. The video below shows exactly what the celebration looked like. While it may have targeted two Jets players in attempt to poke fun, the celebration to me was just that…fun. Yet, here we are, seeing comments from various sports personalities on what should be done with number 13. Should Stevie be benched? Suspended? Fined? Or in the case of Meril Hodge, should Stevie be cut? Gimme a break.
When did we become so sensitive to EVERYTHING? While I guess I can agree that the dance after the touchdown was a bit excessive, I think it was pretty humorous. Stevie catches a short pass in the end zone for a touchdown and proceeds to mock Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes. Plaxico of course was caught up in an incident, where he shot himself in the leg after bringing a loaded gun to a nightclub in 2008. The man brought a loaded gun into a nightclub which luckily only hit one person. Any idiot that brings a loaded handgun into a public place and shoots himself, deserves to be made fun of.
The NFL is reportedly looking into fining Stevie Johnson for his “gun play” routine. This kind of baffles me. They don’t want Stevie Johnson pretending to playfully make a gun gesture with his hand, but it’s OK for someone to bring a gun into a public place and still play football. The NFL has notoriously kept criminals in the game, and yet a touchdown celebration seems like the worst thing in the leagues history. Again, I’m dumfounded by this logic. Michael Vick kills dogs either by hanging, drowning or shooting, and that’s just fine by the league. Let’s leave Mr. Vick alone, I mean at least he didn’t celebrate a touchdown. Ndamukong Suh stomps on someones arm, and yet, the touchdown celebration is out of line? Take a look at the arrest database for NFL players, these are the role models for kids that the league allows to play every week. Bob Costas seems to think that endzone dances are more influential than the criminals of the NFL, stating:
“For those of you too busy keeping up with the Kardashians to notice, we live in a culture that in many ways grows more stupid and graceless by the moment,” “Sports both reflects and influences that trend, so on playing fields everywhere, true style is in decline and while mindless exhibitionism abounds.”
Stevie is no stranger to attention when it comes to his celebrations. Another humorous antic, got him into trouble when he lifted his jersey after a touchdown in 2010, to reveal a “Why So Serious” message on his shirt. This was mocking the “Batman and Robin” duo of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Again, another harmless act that seemed by many, to be over the line. Sports radio asshole Jim Rome had this to say about Stevie’s celebration:
“…He mocked a dude who busted a burning cap into his own leg and spent 20 months in the pen for doing it. Not cool, my man.“
Jet’s defensive tackle Sione Pouha missed the joke completely and called the actions of Stevie Johnson “insensitive to 9/11″. So now any plane gesture, or crashing gesture must now be equated to September 11th? Gimme a break. If you want to throw a flag on excessive celebration…fine, how about doing it the next time a defensive player makes a tackle and proceeds to dance around like a jackass, while his team is down by 20+ points. Football is already slow enough as it is, we don’t need celebrations after every play. There’s no need to feel obligated to be offended by Stevie’s celebration. That’s what I think society has come down to. We feel like we must find objection to something because of what others will think. Quit taking these things so seriously, and enjoy the game.
Battlefield 3 is a mythical game most of us thought would never be released. Rumors dating back to the Battlefield 2 heydays have purposed a birth of a predecessor. A game with the same feel as BF2, same large scale maps, jets, tanks, helicopters, squads, etc. While Battlefield 3 has all of the above, it may not be what everyone was expecting.
Battlefield 2 was largely based around squads and teamwork. Battlefield 2142 was decent, and Battlefield Bad Company and Bad Company 2 were more of a competitor with the Call of Duty series. Bad Company and Call of Duty were similar styles with teamwork stripped out making it every man for himself. Battlefield 3 brought back some of the teamwork that’s been missing for quite a while. Below are some things BF3 does well and somethings it doesn’t.
- The graphics for Battlefield 3 are stunning, to put it simply. Similar to most games, primarily Crysis, BF3 allows different levels of graphics. These range from low to “Ultra” which requires a beefy video card to handle it smoothly. EA even boasted it’s graphical achievement by asking viewers to discern between real life footage and gameplay graphics in the below video.
- The unlock system, while not new, is still excellent. It provides motivation for future gameplay and endless kit combinations.
- They kept with the shoulder mounted anti-air rocket. It’s annoying in air vehicles, but great to shoot down pesky helicopters and jets.
- Ability to spawn on different members of your squad. This is great if you squad mate is in a good sniping position, behind the enemy, or close to a flag.
- VoIP is hosted through the Battlelog website so it’s one less program to open. The quality doesn’t quite match Teamspeak or Ventrillo, but it’s pretty good for what it is.
- The ability to see your progress towards new unlocks in real time, in the game.
- The Battlelog page with your stats is very pretty. Nice, neat and organized, with nice little charts and graphics.
- Co-Op. The ability to play missions with a friend in order to get extra unlocks.
- The multiplayer server browser is nice. You can filter servers by location, map, open slots, and other options.
- For the majority of the time you can’t create your own squad and invite your friends like in Battlefield 2. This kills the teamwork aspect, especially if you are in the same server as your friends.
- No VoIP in the squads themselves. It’s hard to give direction or criticism without using in game voice. Typing is difficult in a game that requires you to be on the move to stay alive.
- The entire BF3 launching and such is convoluted. To play it requires EA’s Origin, which is similar to STEAM, it requires the BF3 game itself, and it also requires you to have a browser running with the Battlelog website up (resource hungry). To play single player you can either go through the BF3 icon on your desktop, or through the Battlelog website. To play multiplayer or Co-op you’ll need to go through the website portion. To check a list of your stats, configure your profile, join a platoon (similar to a clan), chat with battlefield friends (voice or text), or join a server you’ll need to go through the website. The website requires a plugin by the way which gets installed with Battlefield, I believe. If you don’t have the plug-in, none of the buttons work in Battlelog. If you uninstall origin, you uninstall the game (pending it’s the download version). DO NOT UNINSTALL ORIGIN. You can add friends through Origin, which are not the same as your friends that are in Battlelog.
- The Battlelog friends list isn’t always live updating. Sometimes it shows friends are online when they aren’t or offline when they are in game.
- Joining servers as a party doesn’t always work. Like…a lot of the times from my experience.
- Only 2 views available in the jets and choppers. You can select third person or inside the vehicle with all the HUD controls displayed. I personally hate this. I don’t need to see any of the gizmos and gadgets inside the vehicles. There needs to be a first person view for these air assets.
- The minimap isn’t that great. The default zoom for the map is too close. I constantly have to zoom in and out of the map to get my bearings and find the next flag. It also can’t be locked from rotating.
- Only 4 to a squad? Usually I’ll have a few friends join the squad and then I’ll want to add a few more players I play with all the time. Four open squad slots isn’t a lot.
- Server Lag and Rubberbanding. It’s kind of expected when everyone and their mother is slamming the servers. This seems to occur on pretty much every server however. Battlefield is patching the XBOX and PS3 servers now to try and correct the issue; hopefully the PC ones are next.
- No right-clicking for secondary weapons in vehicles. Instead you’ll have to first unlock them, then switch to the weapons using your number keys.
- Claymores don’t be as sensitive as they used to be (In BF2). The enemy needs to be almost on top of the mine for it to detonate. I guess it eliminates the “Claywhore” aspect of the game.
While the negatives may seem to outnumber the positives, it doesn’t make BF3 a bad game. It just needs improvement. The single player campaign is pretty good from what I’ve played. Nobody ever buys a game like Battlefield 3 for the single player missions though. The CO-OP piece of BF3 allows you to play with a friend through side missions to unlock more weapons. It’s definitely a cool feature, but again, it’s overshadowed by multiplayer. Also it appears the expansion pack “Back to Karkand” will be going live in December [Tweet]. This will be an updating post so keep checking back. If you have questions or feedback leave them in the comments section below.
A Meditation on Not Reading Enough Into a Film (or Maybe Reading Far Too Much)
This essay comes from two viewings of Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece Drive, plenty of discussion, and much deliberation. When I initially sat down to write this piece, I worked for three hours, and wanted to bang my head into a wall. I was so completely wrapped up in the most obvious conclusion, that Driver (Ryan Gosling) was a new take on Clint Eastwood/Toshiro Mifune’s Man With No Name. The essay was not going anywhere, any more than Driver was going anywhere. Hell, we get to watch Driver show how well he can drive in a circle for Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks); if this does not tell you that Driver is going to get nowhere by working with these guys, nothing will. Most of the criticism I had read surrounding this film was all about the Eastwood/Mifune connection. For those not familiar with The Man With No Name, he is a character made famous around the world by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone films. A Fistful of Dollars (1964) is a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), and as such, Toshiro Mifune’s performance of a nameless samurai in that film must be considered when discussing Eastwood’s character in Leone’s films. It is very easy to connect Driver to The Man With No Name. Both characters speak little dialogue, they have a shady past, they are anti-heroes, they wear their own versions of armor (Driver has his scorpion jacket, The Man With No Name has his poncho), they both look out for themselves, but have a sense of duty to people in trouble. Ryan Gosling’s Driver is not a new incarnation of The Man With No Name. Ryan Gosling’s Driver is the Man With No Identity.
According to Shannon (Bryan Cranston), Driver just showed up at his repair shop out of nowhere. Shannon put him to the test, and he proved that he was very talented at fixing cars. Repairing cars was not the only thing Driver has a talent for though: he can drive them like no one else. Shannon builds stunt cars for movies, and he also supplies them with the most important part of any good stunt: the stunt man. Fixing cars and doing stunts is not enough for Driver though, and in his spare time he’s a hot shot getaway driver for shady types looking for a crack wheelman. Mifune’s ronin is a master of the samurai sword, Eastwood’s drifter is a master of the pistol, and Gosling’s mechanic/stunt man/wheelman is a master of the automobile. In the opening shot of the film, Driver tells us, “I drive.”
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