Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011 Film) Worth My Time?

http://www.shockya.com/news/wp-content/uploads/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadowsPoster.jpg Sequels.   Many many movies have had a sequel.  And most of them have done it poorly.  I was worried that the trailer's promise that this movie was "better than the original" would fall short, as many sequels do.  So I went in wanting an expectational movie, but expecting much less.  I got the movie I wanted, not the one I thought I would get. 

It was the sophisticated, classy, fast paced, and witty movie it needed to be.  Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is sporadic, a little manic, and always brilliant. When things almost got out of hand, somehow he pulled it all into a plan that was either built, or one that fell into place by accident.  Not once did it seem to be clunky.  The plot moved nicely from point to point.  Being a detective movie about one of the histories greatest detectives, Holmes' logic was sometimes hard to follow, but given a recap to the slightly slower Watson (Jude Law), things became clear. 

Rated PG-13 with some blood, guns, some ladies with old-fashioned dresses, and no swearing.  2 hours and nine minutes was the perfect amount of time.  At one point I thought it was almost over, that we had reached the climax.  It was a teaser, and the next climax was for real and much better than the first.  I only have one issue with the movie.  The last 30 seconds was a shame.  More on that in the comments, no spoiler here.  Overall I was beyond pleased with the movie, and it was worth my time, and so it is worth your time.  As for a 3rd in the series, who knows?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is StumbleUpon Worth My Time?

Yes.

However, it is MAY NOT be a good use of your time.

For those of you living under a rock.  StumbleUpon is a web site that takes you through a journey of the internet.  When you create your profile, you tell it the general categories of things that interest you. After you finish that, you then click the "Stumble!" button, and your journey begins  As you stumble across the web, along the way the idea is to tell the site, by clicking a thumbs up or thumbs down button, which sites you liked, and which ones you did not like.  And so as you go, the sites you come across are more and more tailored to you, based on what you say you like and do not like.

Your base interests can range from games, movies, news, cartoons, and even some adult content.  I have.... wasted, I hate to say that, spending time on Stumble felt so much better than just doing nothing, but nothing productive came of it, so it fits.... I have wasted many many hours on StumbleUpon.  There is something magic about the idea of sitting for hours on end, finding awesome short films, fantastic short stories, mindless videos of people be REALLY dumb, or learning tips on how to be more successful in real life.  The site has endless possibilities.  You can stumble the funny, unique, old fashioned, weird, sexy, dirty, profound, educational, and the entertaining.

The possibility that it could actually be used productively is there.  People may actually use it in that way.  I do not, and can not.  I find myself just clicking as fast as I can to get to the next new thing.  I rarely watch videos, hardly ever read an entire article, and mostly just look at pictures and memes.  And I do not think I am alone in this.  In fact, I have stumbled upon cartoons making fun of that very fact.  The fact that you can sit for hours, look at hundreds of pictures and leave totally satisfied about what you have done, and think nothing of what you saw ever again.  I KNOW I am not the only person who binges on StumbleUpon.

If you have noticed I have a StubleUpon badge on my blog here.  Because I know that it increases my viewership with more people that "like" my blog.  It is a great way for people to find things they would have NEVER found any other way.  Lets face it, the internet is HUGE.  It is impossible to find everything that could interest you, neither do we have the time to search through the entire web trying to find something interesting.  Stumble is a great site to discover new things, and it does so by transporting you all over the web with minimal work on your part.  All you have to do it sit back, click the mouse, and enjoy the ride, and what a ride it is!

stumbleupon.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is Dune (House Trilogy) Worth My Time?

Dune House Atreides
Dune House Harkonnen
Dune House Corrino


By Brian Herbert 
and Kevin J. Anderson

So, you have read the first six books of Dune, and now you want to know what to expect from the next set of three.  Or maybe you did not read the first six, maybe you wanted to start the series here.  For whatever your reason or how you got here, you need to know a few things.

First, they were not written by Frank Herbert.  It is SO important you know, understand, and are okay with that.  They were written using notes written by Frank.  Also, Brian helped his father with the last few of the first six. Not to mention that Keven has written many science fiction books.  So it is not like the series is continued by nobodies. 

Next, the books do not have the same grand feeling as the others.  They seem less complex, less integrated with social issues of today.  They are a fantastic story, and give you a wonderful history of how things got to be how they were.  There are a tremendous amount of events that fill the books and I never became board, but it just does not have that grandiose feeling of the first six.  The three books roughly cover from Duke Leto as a pre-teen to the birth of Paul.

The first (House Atreides) is the worst of the three.  It slowly gets better and by the end I was happy where it was.  And each book after that got better and better.  By the end of the third (House Corrino) I had completely stopped comparing it to the first six, I did not care that it did not meet my standards of the other books, they were good in their own right, and it is unfair to everyone involved to compare them.

And lastly, they move slow, and that is okay.  They pick up momentum, and their comes a point where you don't want to put it down.  I was worried that they would be so poorly done that it would take away from what Frank as built.  It does not.  It is a great addition to the already mind-blowing series.  It is worth every minute of your time.

dunenovels.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Is J. Edgar (2011 Film) Worth My Time?

I was expecting a film to commemorate J. E. Hoover.  Something patriotic.  Something to tell us how much he did for our country, and how things would be different without him.  

What I got was so much more.

The movie did show me some of that.  But what I got, and did not expect, was a story about a REAL person.  A story about someone imperfect.  A man with goals, dreams, hopes, reservations, fears, and confusion.  

The movie revolves around history, events that he shaped, and events that shaped him.  Knowing what happened in our history since 1914 could be very helpful.  You do not need to know every bit of history, but knowing the basics is a good idea.

A movie of 2 hours and 17 minutes seemed a little daunting to start with, but it progressed nicely, pulled you in from the start, and kept you interested until the end. 

The movie takes place over his lifetime in the FBI, but not chronologically.  It flips back and forth between "now" and the past, making it hard to follow at some points.  For the most part it was easy to tell when you were based on how old he looked.  Throughout the movie old J. E. Hoover is dictating a story to a writer, well multiple writers. Thus my confusion when the writer would change in what seemed like in the middle of a scene, split by a flashback, so really two scenes.

It is rated R, mostly unnecessary.  There is some bad language, some suggestive dialog, and adult moral issues.  

The plot was deep and thought provoking. Staring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar, and directed by Clint Eastwood, could we expect anything less?  This movie is definitely worth your time.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is Chatroulette Worth My Time?

http://chatroulette.com/

Ha.  Hmmmm....

Not really, no. Unless....

1) You are not easily offended.  Lots of things that get said, and things that happen, could make some people VERY uncomfortable.

2) You are a homosexual/bisexual male.

3) You are a straight female.

4) You are ready for rejection, and will not take it personally.

5) You like to screw with people.

If you pass at least number 1 and 4, you could have a very nice time.

For those of you looking to meet new people from all over the world, good luck.  You CAN meet nice people from all over the world.  You just have to be willing to sit, and sit, and sit, and sit, and sit, and then sit some more.

They have added some features to help you sort out what kind of people you want to see.  Basically, 18+ material, or 17- material.  Sorry, sometimes you still see the 18+ material on the 17- section.  It happens, they tried to fix it, but it is not perfect.

Don't get me wrong.  I know some people who think it is amazing, but they usually fit a few stereotypes, groups of boys, looking to screw with people, and see some female 18+ material.  The site is dominated by males, doing anything you can imagine. 

But don't take my word for it, check it out, and decide for yourself, just be careful about the company you have around when you do it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Dune (First Six Novels Published) Worth My Time?

Dune
Dune Messiah
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse Dune


by Frank Herbert


The Dune Series is huge.  Started in 1965 by Frank Herbert, and continued still today by his son.  That being said, I will review the series in sets.  The first set involves all the Dune books written by Frank. (Also the list above.)

Dune, and the books after it, are not light reads. They are complex, involving, and mentally taxing to understand.  They run many parallels to our current society.  They study religion, government, the ability to see into the future, and how all of these forces play upon one another.  There is a huge host of characters, and groups, all trying to obtain different things, both peacefully, and not so peacefully.

The books take awhile to really start moving.  They are slow to get started, and slowly gain momentum.  There comes a time in each book where you won't want to put it down.  Most of them climax at almost the end of the book, with only a chapter or two to wrap things up.  Just about all of them end in a cliffhanger, things do get resolved,  but you always want to know more than Frank tells you.

If you want to read the series, but you are not sure if you will like it.  I recommend starting with Dune.  It is a good complete story in itself.  The books after continue the story, and are not NEEDED to enjoy the first book.  Then, if you enjoy the series, continue it.  Because it only gets better after that book.

As always in such a large series, there is the question, "Where do I start, and in what order do I read them?"  I read them the order they were published (That's the order they are in at the top of this post.)  Start with Dune.

Dune Chapterhouse is not the end of the series.  In fact, it is less than halfway through.  But unfortunately, it is the last one for Frank to write, he dies before he can get more Dune books out.  And this book ends in the biggest cliffhanger yet.

Now I know what your thinking, "Can the books after Frank dies be any good?" Well, for that, you will have to wait for my review on them, or do some more research. 

Do not let the complexity of the series, its length, or its incompleteness scare you away.  It is highly entertaining as well as deep.  The journey is an epic tale across time and space, to a distant future of the human race.  Well worth your time.

http://www.dunenovels.com/

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is DLC Worth My Time?

Downloadable Content.  

For those of you who are too young to remember, or are forgetful, games used to be released, played for awhile, and then MAYBE, if the game was good enough, the developers would release an expansion.  Sometimes even two if the game was really good.  

But with the onset of faster and faster internet, game developers saw a way to make more money.  DLC.  Some DLC is fantastic, and other DLC is very poor.  Some people view DLC like in this cartoon.  (http://desuchan.com/post/view/1888?search=comic)



And I don't disagree.  Some game developers release a game missing very needed content, just so they can turn around and sell it to you like its extra content.  On the other hand, some DLC is perfect, not needed for the game, but a nice little addition.  

One way too look at DLC is to view it as a mini expansion pack of the game.  If you do not like the game, buying this will not help you like it more.  Another way is to see when it is released.  If it is released way after the release of the game, it might be okay.  The issue is when it is released at the same TIME as the game. There is a very big possibility that it was originally supposed to be IN the game, but taken out to make a little more green.  

One last way to safe guard against bad DLC,  DO YOUR RESEARCH!  See what others are saying about it.  Find out what you get and how much it really adds.  I have lost track of the DLCs that I have bought and been disappointed with.  It happens.  

So is it worth your time? I don't know.  It depends on how much you value your money.  There are some really great DLCs available.  Some that really add to the game, and some that do not.  Make sure you know what your getting, before you buy, and never buy it in hopes of making an unplayable game playable.     

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is Pandora Worth My Time?

Pandora Radio. www.pandora.com.  Best way to listen to music online.

Pandora selects music for you based on what you tell it you like and what you do not like.  For instance, you tell it to play Daft Punk.  It may play you a Daft Punk Song, or it will play a song that is similar to Daft Punk.  You can then thumb the song up or down, and then Pandora uses that information to select a song that it thinks you will like, based on what you have thumbed up or down.

I find it a great way to discover new music.  I put in a song or artist I like, and see where it takes me.  Do I always like what it gives me, no.  Do I find music that I love and would have never heard, yes.

Is it perfect?  NO.  I have a station based on The Flobots, it is not very good.  I like The Flobots, but the music I get on the station does not fit at all, mostly because of the unique sound they produce.  But every station gets better with use.  Use it, rate the song, and move on.

"Do I have to pay?"  Good question, no.  Pandora is free, with ads. "Can I skip any number of songs if I do not like it?"  Also a good question, no.  There is a limit to the number of songs you can skip in a given time.  However, you can pay for a year subscription and receive no ads, and an increase in the number of skips. "Is buying the subscription a good deal?"  I feel as if the paid version is a good deal, for as much as I listen to Pandora.  That's a question you will have to decide for yourself, based on how much you listen, and how important the money is to you.

"Can I listen to a specific song?" No, I am sorry.  That is my biggest issue with Pandora.  No matter how old, unpopular, strange, loud, fast, or whatever.  You are very lucky if you name a station after a song, and hear that song right away.  Although, you will most likely hear the song, eventually.

Pandora has a large variety of music to pick from.  And everyday I listen I find something new.  So Yes, Pandora (Paid) is worth my time, and honestly, so is the free version, I just don't like ads.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Is Steam Worth My Time?

No, not steam that powers generators.  I mean Steam, http://store.steampowered.com/.

Steam is an application that is downloaded onto your PC or Mac.  You can buy games from Steam.  Usually you can find a good deal.  They have many sales going on all the time.  After you buy a game, Steam downloads it to your computer, and then you can play it.  "BUT WAIT," you say, "I do not have a REAL copy of the game!"  Then I say "Hold on. Everything will be okay."  No, you do not own a physical CD.  Yes, you really own the game.

This is where steam seals the deal for me.  I bought the game, downloaded it, and played it.  But my computer decides to die, all that hard work, and the game itself, gone.  So I get a new computer, I download Steam, again.  I re-download the game, and BAM,  I am playing the game right from where I left off!  In fact you can play the same game on two computers, without them ever being connected together in a network.  Steam has a record of all the games you own, and you can upload you save games to the servers, so you can download them again some other time.

Steam offers some other social networking aspects.  I do not use them.  I use it to game.  You can connect with friends, and I do.  You can always see what they are playing, and if it is a multi-player game (and you own it),you can usually very easily play with them.

Is Steam perfect.  No.  It has some issues, and as I have used it over the last few years, it has gotten less buggy.  I look for the pattern to continue.  One of the biggest issues is this:  Every time I visit the store page, I want to buy a game that I can not afford.  Their sales are wonderful, but other than that, the games are not that much cheaper from anywhere else.

Steam is "Powered by Valve."  That is the catch line, meaning, every game Valve has ever released is available for purchase (That may or may not be an exaggeration.).  "Only Valve games! That sucks." you say.  And to that I say "Nay, they sell other games too."

I like valve games, but lets be honest, even EA can make a good game (given a month after release to work out the bugs).  Steam does offer non-Valve games, even free games.  All games ever made?  No.  Why? Well because some suck, but mostly it has to do with the plans the game-maker has for the game.  For instance, Steam does offer Battlefield Bad Company 2 for purchase, but not Battlefield 3.  Why?  EA (at the time of release for Battlefield 3) was getting ready to launch their own "Steam," called Origin.  So they denied Steam access to force computer gamers to download Origins to play Battlefield 3. It was a way to get Origins out, and in use.

So, is Steam worth my time? Yes.  I do lots of gaming and love the fact that when this computer stops, I still own my games, without ever having to worry about where I put those CDs when I installed the games 4 years ago. In fact, I only see two possible bad endings.  1)The Internet ends.  Yeah, like that will ever happen.  The ONLY way that happens is if the world fights itself in another world war, and we go into a nuclear winter. 2) Valve goes out of business.  I do not see that as an issue, as long as people keep buying games from them.  I will continue, and I think you should check it out.

Maybe you do not like Valve.  Okay, try EA's Origins, or the Microsoft's version of Steam (the name escapes me and of which I have looked at once, and never used, just saying).