Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter Mania!!!

So, the new Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out today. Since stores started selling the book at midnight, BB and I went out and picked up a copy last night. And it was quite an adventure! We went to a Meijer's (because they were selling the book really cheap, $14.87 or something) and arrived about quarter till midnight, and got in one heck of a long ass line. At midnight they started moving people through the line and just handing them books - you had to go out to the registers at the front of the store to purchase it. It moved pretty fast, considering that there were probably 300 or so people in front of us in the line. Quite a few people behind us too - I've no idea how many total, but A LOT I'm sure. Anyway, even though BB was all worried we wouldn't get a copy, we did - and she's happily reading it right now. So all's well that ends well, right? Oh, and the Half Blood Prince? Yeah, it's Hagrid. (Actually, I've no idea. I haven't read a word of the book yet. But wouldn't it be funny if I was right?)

Movies to see : Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wedding Crashers

My wife (who I've decided to call BB, since constantly typing 'my wife and I' is retarded) and I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory yesterday. Man, that was a great film - much truer to the book. We both really enjoyed it, and I would recommend it to any fan of the book. They even included the part from the book with the Indian prince who asks Wonka to build him a palace made entirely of chocolate (and it was a great scene).
BB and I (See? Much easier) also went to see Wedding Crashers recently. We saw an advance screening of it on Monday, but I didn't get an opportunity to write about it till now. Very fun movie - definitely NOT a family film. Lots of lewd conduct and naked boobies and such. But if you like Vince Vaughn, go see this movie - because he is great in it. Owen Wilson is good too, but Vince is just terrific. Plus there's a special surprise cameo from one of Vince's Old School co-stars. Very funny! Another good movie that I would highly recommend.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Latest on the delayed Space Shuttle launch

Here's the word from NASA on what's happening with the investigation into the problem with the engine cut-off sensor that was malfunctioning - 'The sensor protects an orbiter's main engines by triggering them to shut down in the event fuel runs unexpectedly low. Space Shuttle Program managers plan a series of meetings Thursday to discuss the problem and determine the steps necessary to get back into the launch countdown. As of now, the most optimistic possibility for the next launch attempt is no earlier than 2:40 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 16.' NASA has been really good about updating their Return To Flight section of their site, so check there for further updates.
I had tried to write an update about the Shuttle launch as soon as it was announced, but Blogger had some weird glitch and wouldn't publish my post. I tried a few times and kept getting odd errors. Then I look at the blog later, and there's the post Blogger was telling me it couldn't publish. Maybe Blogger was overloaded with people posting all at the same time, I don't know. Weird stuff, but it seems to be better today.

Legal music downloads on the rise

The latest Neilsen Soundscan report tracking legal music downloads shows a threefold increase in downloads from January to June 2005 (compared to the same period in 2004). The article notes that Compact Disc sales within the same period decreased by 7 percent, and that single-song downloads account for six percent of overall music sales, up by four percent compared to last year. Of course the recording industry has no problem with this, as they have their hooks into the legal music download services like iTunes Music Store and Napster - so they get a piece of every song sold. Of course they are still after illegal downloads, and that's mentioned in the article as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Space Shuttle Lanch postponed

The launch scheduled to happen today at 3:51pm EDT has been postponed - looks like a faulty sensor onboard the orbiter is to blame. Additional info available through NASA's website or CNN. Too bad, but I guess they want to be absolutely certain nothing goes wrong. You really can't blame NASA for being extra careful.

The NHL lockout may be over - finally

Here's the article straight from - as long as both sides ratify the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), then the lockout is over and next season will happen. SWEET!

Return to Flight - NASA prepares for Discovery launch today

It is looking good for the anticipated 3:51pm launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, despite problems with a window cover that fell off the orbiter yesterday and a problem with a launch pad heater during fueling this morning. The orbiter is fueled up as of 9am, and the short delay won't affect the launch (NASA builds extra time into launch preparation for problems like these). Get all the latest info online from MSNBC here, and from NASA's website here.

Rockstar has a problem with some "hot coffee"

Looks like there's a mod available for the PC version of Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto : San Andreas which adds explicit sexual content to the game - and it's causing quite a stir. Rockstar states that the content is added to the game by the mod (the developer of the mod, Patrick Wildenborg, calls it 'hot coffee'), and is not existing content that is unlocked by it. Here's the word from Rockstar's official statement - "So far we have learned that the "hot coffee" modification is the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game, in violation of the software user agreement, hackers created the 'hot coffee' modification by disassembling and then combining, recompiling and altering the game's source code. Since the 'hot coffee' scenes cannot be created without intentional and significant technical modifications and reverse engineering of the game's source code, we are currently investigating ways that we can increase the security protection of the source code and prevent the game from being altered by the 'hot coffee' modification." Of course, no steps taken by a software developer can completely kill such modifications - but Rockstar is smart to clearly state that the questionable content was not pre-existing within the game. Now, can they prove it?