February 10th, 2015


All Is Right With The World... Right With The World... Right With...

So last week...

After two work days of splendid operation, our Amazon Echo started miscueing on playing my playlists. As I said last week, Ms. Alexa's in Beta so I wasn't even upset to have to submit an error ticket to customer support (DW).

But today, well, different story:
Hooray! Tuesday 10 February 2015, around 3-3:30pm, I sat down to do some work. Tried Echo on playlists again and:

Echo is playing one of my playlists, in order, correctly.

AND, echo.amazon.com on my laptop is now showing the current song and a sidebar with the playlist under Now Playing -- it had no information during the troubles.

To recap:
Echo arrived 2/3 Tu, unpacked that night, played no playlists
Echo played playlists correctly 2/4 W - 2/5 Th
Echo did NOT play playlists correctly (and tested every day) 2/6 F - 2/9 M
Echo returned to proper operation 2/10 Tu

And on the survey form I said:
Definitely a Beta teething problem. I don't know why Echo stopped playing my playlists correctly Friday-Monday. Or displaying anything on the Now Playing page of either the Kindle App or echo.Amazon.com/#playing, but it's working now if I had to guess, it started about the time I got the notice that Amazon was providing playlists for Grammys -- as a programmer, I suspect a code push went awry. But feedback via the Echo app and the callback phone help were nicely thought out. Only had Echo for a week, but it's been otherwise great.
Now I shall get busy this week to report that (1) it really needs a volume 2½ setting, because there's too much gap between "Alexa volume two" and "Alexa volume three" and (b) the Now Playing app really should display how long a track is, the way most music apps do.

But that, as they say Ms. Alexa Echo, is for another day

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

Fasten... Your... Seatbelts...

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is the combination of two great efforts -- Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. More than a year before Man walked on the Moon, we believed that spaceflight could be real. And except for a few technical glitches (that damned floating pen), 2001 the movie STILL holds up better than most space movies and TV shows here in 2015. And the soundtrack? Gorgeous and iconic.

We were about to go to the Moon in just eight years -- 1961 to 1969 -- so having the technology for an orbital space station with artificial gravity, a moonbase, even regular Pam Am Spaceclipper service from ground to orbit in just 33 years to 2001? Perfectly believable. Of course, us space enthusiasts could hardly dream that we after a few missions we'd throw away the Moon and in the course of time, throw away the Space Shuttle.
If the video window isn't working, the link to the YouTube trailer is here.

The biggest flaw to 2001 is, well, simply put... it's slow.

My best man from our wedding from thirty years ago used to say that (a) it was his favorite movie of all time and (b) he'd never been able to keep awake through the whole thing in one sitting ever -- he'd seen it in chunks.

Part of the problem is that it was meant to be a total immersive experience. I saw it at age ten in full Cinerama splendor on a huge curved screen in a reserved seat movie palace in Toronto. It had opened in April 1968 and when we were in Toronto in like July, my father found out that there was ONE theatre playing it there. We were living between Buffalo and Rochester in those days, and the nearest American theatre showing 2001 was in New York City -- 400 miles on the New York State Thruway versus the 116 miles on the QEW Highway around Lake Ontario. The reserved seats were sold out weeks in advance.

But... while we were there, the theatre decided to open up a 12:30am showing. And my father, dedicated man that he was, got us nearly the last tickets in the balcony. It would be only the first or second time I had ever stayed up past midnight in my life. It would be nearly ten years before I saw it again, projected with an anamorphic lens from a 16mm print at Tech Auditorium at Northwestern, and yet I still remembered that movie thoroughly.

Real space is deliberative, carefully orchestrated and planned out. Watch video of the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions. Watch the astronauts on the Moon, for real. Today's space movies? Fast, fast, fast. Action, action, action. Don't worry about the consequences of zero G, vacuum, orbital mechanics.

So... a film student, I believe, cut a new trailer of 2001 as an action movie. It is, simply put, one of the most stunning movie trailers I have ever seen. Kubrick's film is still heads above anything put on the screen since. You have to see this to believe it:
If the video window isn't working, the link to the YouTube trailer is here.

Dammit, I know how the movie is supposed to go, but I also remember how edge-of-the-seat Ron Howard's Apollo 13 was -- I would still pay real money to see THIS version. (terribly-embarrassed-grin) Sorry, Stanley. You had no idea that lurking in your graceful classic is one of the greatest action movies of all time.

The pulse pounding soundtrack, by the way, is "Tactical Dominance" by Jack Trammell from the album Behemoth and an MP3 is available on Amazon for 99¢.

I found this via Facebook, from a webpage on several efforts to remake Kubrick films into something they're not. It is well worth your time, if you are into movies.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal