Thanks to Shawn Blanc’s review, I bought a new camera recently: the Olympus E-PL5 with a Panasonic 20mm f 1/7 Pancake Lens. So far, I’m loving them. Here are some of the test shots I’ve taken. All of them have been through basic correctiong in Adobe Lightroom. Most of them even have custom filters applied.
I have a regular hair stylist. I like her because she’s a cute girl, about my age, and she asks me a lot about what to do with my hair. And honestly, I don’t know what to do with my hair. But she asks in a way that is low pressure. I tell her I don’t know what I want and she hears me and gently nudges me towards one of two options and checks in with me afterwards. It’s a pretty good arrangement.
One of the other big perks is that she works at a pretty decent salon. I pay about $35 per haircut (including tip) and the whole place is super nice and I get hot towels and neck shaves. This might not sound like much to others but I’ve been going to cheap places all the time and I kinda love being pampered a little.
Anyway, I bring her up because, for the past two haircuts, we’ve talked about television. She loves Breaking Bad. I finally got around to watching it and it’s a really good show. Incredibly well-acted and written. But it’s still second place to The Wire. I’m staying in on a Saturday night and drinking and watching The Wire right now and it’s monumental television. In 20 years, they’ll still be talking about this show.
Breaking Bad is about the a chemistry teacher finding out he has terminal cancer and then seeks to become a meth cook and eventually a meth lord. It’s escapist badass fantasy, like we could all break out of our suburban walls and lead double lives and nobody would be the wiser. It’s full of great personalities.
I have a hard time describing The Wire. It’s a gritty drama about drug dealers and the ghetto and homicide cops. It’s not procedural crime like Law and Order or CSI. It’s about amazingly fleshed-out and researched characters that each exist inside their own environment and system. It’s the fantasy that we could possibly begin to understand the drug war, police corruption, political corruption, the fucked-up public school system. Each season is like a gripping novel because it demands a lot of investment and faith upfront but it rewards you with these deeply intricate characters and these expansive worlds they live in. I could gush about it for hours.
Which brings me back to my hair stylist. I totally failed to explain it adequately to her. She didn’t understand what I was talking about (maybe it was just my accent) and she just kinda said, “Oh, I’ll look into that,” in that way that sounds like they’ll never look into it. She totally placated me.
Checking for Administrator privileges in a .bat or .cmd file
Yes, sometimes I’m writing a batch file and I need to check if the user is running this as an elevated user. Archaic, I know, but it’s needed. You basically need to check if the current user is part of the “High” Integrity Level group.
I’m posting this because I have the hardest time trying to search for this whenever I need it. Unlike the other kludgey solutions on the net, this one actually inspects the Mandatory Integrity Control in Windows Vista/7/8.
Run this command:
whoami.exe /GROUPS | find "S-1-16-12288" > nul if "%errorlevel%"=="0" ( echo You are elevated. ) else ( echo You are not elevated. )
If you need to do this in PowerShell, you can use:
([Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::GetCurrent().Groups.Value -contains "S-1-5-32-544")
If you need to relaunch the batch file as Administrator, you’ll need to rely on some crafty PowerShell code:
powershell.exe -command Start-Process -Verb RunAs -FilePath cmd.exe -ArgumentList '/c %~f0'
Alright, I’m going to write about the original Star Wars trilogy.
I just watched Harmy’s Despecalized Edition of the original trilogy. Basically, it tries to be as HD as possible while removing a lot of the distracting CGI and color correction mistakes made in Special Edition of Star Wars. The movies look fantastic.
I’m not a gigantic Star Wars nerd but here are my observations in light of how the new trilogy turned out. I’m only going to consider the films and none of the books or expanded universe or whatever.
I can see why George Lucas tried to “fix” all the special effects
The special effects look pretty dated. The puppets are super obvious. If this were my creation, I’d feel an uncontrollable urge to go back and fix everything with the best of modern technology. It’s an admirable goal but ultimately short-sighted because any modern special effects you add in 1997 are still going to look dated years later. Plus a lot of the stuff he added was just plain bad and distracting. The original trilogy could have used some polish but it didn’t need to be made into a brand new thing.
So Jedis are basically extinct
At the beginning, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Darth Vader and the Emperor are the only practitioners left. Jedi are basically just an urban legend on this point. It doesn’t make sense that the new trilogy shows the Jedi were wiped out around the same time Luke was born. You mean in 20-something years, everyone has already forgotten about this mass genocide of the galaxy’s peacekeepers?
What does make sense is the shitty Jedi fighting. These guys haven’t had a reason to use their lightsabers for the past 20-odd years, I can see why they’d act like decrepit old men waving their canes around. And why a young upstart like Luke could take down the “Chosen One”.
Obi-Wan doesn’t talk from the afterlife until Empire Strikes Back
In A New Hope, you hear his ghostly voice but it’s more like Luke remembering his training than an actual conversation. In the following two movies, he just flat out converses with Luke and Yoda. It’s weird and not really explained. One could imagine that Luke would be able to talk with Yoda and Anakin more afterwards too.
Yoda is basically comic relief
He Is hilarious when he appears in ESB. He’s like Rafiki from The Lion King; very mischievous and speaks in riddles. Why did the prequels turn around and worship him? He should have remained a crazy hermit librarian instead of this Jedi war hero.
Darth Vader feels a lot like The Hound from Game of Thrones
He’s strong and silent and most importantly: he’s a follower. He takes orders. He doesn’t aspire to be the #1 guy. But he wants to rise to a position where he can exert his power over things. The high-ranking officers on the Death Star fear him but also think he’s a pious asshole. Conversely, Luke and Leia feel a lot more like natural leaders.
C-3PO is basically Jar-Jar
Ok well that’s unfair. But he is really annoying and chatty. But we accept him because he’s not packed into a movie with an annoying kid and it’s funny to hear only half of the conversation he has with R2-D2. Also, he grows in later movies to be less of a scaredy cat.
Han shows the most character development
Speaking of characters growing, I feel like Han does the most growing. Han and Leia’s little love story is actually really fucking good compared to the Anakin/Padme mess in Episode II. Han learns to fight for things bigger than himself and allows himself to be vulnerable to Leia. Leia softens to him in kind. No need for bad poetry.
R2-D2 has a lot of robot sex
Seriously, dude will stick his probe into anything.
Nowhere do they prove the light side is stronger or equal to the dark side
Vader slays Obi-Wan. Luke only defeats Vader when he succumbs to his anger. I don’t recall Yoda saying anything about the light side being stronger, just morally superior. Maybe using the Force is like using performance-enhancing drugs. Like the light side guys walk this very fragile grey line and use all sorts of stupid logic riddles to justify it. I’d actually like a universe where the Jedi have a love/hate relationship with Force usage.
Return of the Jedi is improved if you think of it as a parallel to Anakin’s story
See: Machete Order. It’s kind of cool to watch Episodes II and III after ESB but before ROTJ. It makes it far more evident that Luke is being seduced by the dark side. The internal struggle at the end is far more believable and Vader’s redemption is so much more satisfying.
Leia looks incredibly hot dressed as a bounty hunter
Too much has been said about the gold bikini and not enough about this. I just love the dynamic of this scene, Han is sick and blind and Leia has hatched this elaborate plan to bust him out of Jabba’s palace.
So I learned some basic Objective C earlier this week. It was fun to pick up some new concepts and some new syntax.
I want to write a fully fledged Mac or iOS app but I’m not sure about what. I thought I could write a fun little tool for file renaming stuff I have to do but Renamer4Mac does mostly what I need (except that it can hang when removing files).
I thought about iOS and what I would want there. Most of what I do on iOS is visit websites, browse social networks and play casual games. Maybe I could write a casual game? But it would have to have close to zero graphics because I can’t draw nor can I program fancy 3D stuff. Some sort of text-based game? What sort of game am I even qualified to design?
Maybe a quiz game. Ask some questions, pull in some public domain images. That sounds ok but I’m not super excited about it and I don’t see myself spending a lot of time on it.
I sat around and thought about I would enjoy writing about. And I think back to reddit and all the time there I spend helping lost souls deal with their lack of self-confidence, their dating inexperience and their failed romantic pursuits. Maybe it would be fun to write some sort of dating simulator, a la Japan. Except that it would be text based and preachy and way more introspective than any mobile phone game should be. I kinda like that idea.
That being said, this really isn’t some master plan to get rich or anything. I just want an excuse to spend a lot of time writing code. I’ll see if I can flesh out plans this weekend about what I’d want a Version 1 to look like.