Nerdism at its best

May 29, 2014

GODZILLA: *spoilers*

I have had some time to think about this movie and I even downloaded a horrible cam just so I could watch it again. Then I watched the original Godzilla film. I have a new understanding and appreciation to this film.

People complaining about there being not enough of Godzilla apparently haven’t sat down and taken the time to actually watch the source material. He wasn’t eye candy, he wasn’t the main character, he wasn’t MEANT to be the center of attention, he was meant to be an allegory and the destruction he caused and the people’s lives he affected were the main focus of the original.

Everyone had the same complaint: Not enough monsters fighting and the human stuff was boring. So basically every Godzilla movie. Ever.

TL;DR The movie is like the original which was amazing and the movie is SUPPOSED to be about the human element, so quit whining about there not being enough monster even though he is there for a reasonable amount of time.

***From here on contains spoilers you have been warned.***

I know that some were disappointed. I know we got spoiled with Pacific Rim and a lot came to see a solid hour and half of Kaiju fighting. But I think maybe getting that would have disappointed us more. I know that sounds crazy but I want you to just think about it for a second.

I don’t think it will fulfill the expectations of audiences used to lots of action and none of the leave-it-to-the-imagination-suspense built on a slow pace in here.

Sure they could have pulled a Michael Bay and spent a solid 60 minutes having a bunch of CGI puppets roll around in an incomprehensible mass of twisting metal shards. But instead they decided to pick their moments and I thank them for it. Yes, I left wishing I could have seen more of Godzilla, but I think that was the point.

Gareth Edwards, the director of this film, had to make a creative decision with this movie. And he decided to go the Jaws route, showing us just enough of the monster we came to see until it was just the right time to show us all of him. And when they do show us all of him it’s glorious. And everyone cheered. And then it was over and we were elated.

Context is so important. And I think that had this movie come out pre-Pacific Rim people would have felt so much differently about it. You can only show monsters punching each other for so long and Edwards knows this. So he let us know they were fighting. He showed us glimpses of it, and he never overdid it.

Because he did have a fight to show us and he wanted that fight to have power and gravitas. And it only had that because he didn’t precede it with 60 minutes of monster-punching. When these things finally get ahold of each other and throw down, shit’s gonna escalate quickly. You gotta save that for the right moment.

Compare the lightsaber fight in Star Wars: A New Hope; between Vader and Obi-Wan and remember, really stop to remember, the feeling in your stomach when you watched that. Remember thinking how cool it would be to see Jedi in their prime fighting? Remember getting it and it was boring?

I can’t tell you how happy I was that this movie ended with him diving under the water. It was so perfect. Monsters dead, big roar, you’re welcome, dive into the water and CUT TO BLACK!


May 22, 2014

Back up Strategies

Everybody always tells you to make sure that you are backing up your PC, but what does that really mean? And what files do you actually need to backup? Today I will walk you through the basics of backing up your PC, what you should back up, and why.

Of course, these rules won’t fit every scenario, so you’ll need to use a little common sense—think about what is most important to you on your PC, and make sure that you’ve figured out how to backup those files.

The All-Important Rule of Backups

The primary principle of backing up your data is that any important data should exist in two or more physical locations at once. You cannot create a backup and delete the original, or else it is no longer really a backup.

You might think this is obvious, but you’d be surprised how often I’ve been approached by others that lost their data after their “backup” drive died.

What Should You Use for Backing Up Your PC?

There are lots of different applications that you can use to make backups of your files, and there’s even one built into Windows… It doesn’t matter which tool you use as long as it does a decent job of creating backups.

Local Backups
It’s important to create local backups to an external drive or another PC for speed of restoring files should something bad happen, and also because this is going to be the quickest way to create backups.

Online Backups
There are a number of paid online backup services like Mozy, Carbonite, Spideroak, andJungledisk, and there are also some file sync services like Dropbox and SugarSync that provide backup type of capability. These are all excellent secondary backup services, but probably shouldn’t replace a regular backup just because they will take a long time to restore.

Note: if you’re looking for a great way to keep a folder in sync between PCs and accessible from anywhere, Box or dropbox. Otherwise, you should probably check out Mozy, since it has a unique ability to create local backups as well as online backups.

System Image Backups
Rather than simply backing up files, you can create a complete backup of your system that can be restored over top of your system. The only problem with creating these type of backups is that they require a real lot of drive space. The best bet is to create an image when your system is up and running and everything is installed, and then you can use it to more easily restore everything rather than reinstalling everything manually.

You can use a freeware application called DriveImageXML. If you’re looking for a paid solution that works really well, you can check out Acronis.

What Files Should You Backup?

The most important files to backup are probably your documents, pictures, music, and other user files, but they are not the only files that you need to backup. Let’s walk through some of them.

  • Documents: You should backup your entire documents folder all the time. This should be a no-brainer.
  • Music: If you’ve paid lots of money for MP3 downloads, you’ll probably be sad to lose them. Make sure to include this folder. Note: if you’re an iTunes user, you should make sure to backup your iTunes folder, which is thankfully usually inside this directory.
  • Pictures & Videos: It’s really sad when I get emails from people saying their hard drive died and they lost all their pictures of their family. The photos might not have actually costed you anything, but you’ll probably be more sad about losing memories than paying for music downloads again.
  • Desktop Email: If you’re using Outlook or Windows Live Mail, make absolutely certain that you’ve backed up the files from these applications. Outlook stores all your email in a .PST file.
  • Application Settings: If you look within the AppData folders, you’ll see directories for each and every application you’re running. These settings can often be restored from a backup so you don’t have to tweak everything again. Just head into C:\Users\Username\AppData\ to see the Local, Roaming, and LocalLow folders that contain many settings for your applications.

  • Virtual Machines: If you use virtual machines for real work, you should probably create a backup of your virtual machines at some point. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend backing these up every single night, but you should at least consider some type of backup plan.
  • Bookmarks: Most browsers other than Internet Explorer actually make it difficult to backup your bookmarks using Windows Backup, but the much better option is to sync your bookmarks to the cloud.

Backup These Files More Easily
Instead of trying to find all those locations, backup your entire Users folder, which is at C:\Users\Username in Windows 7 or 8. This will include all of those files, unless you’ve stored them somewhere else.

Files You Should Not Bother Backing Up

There’s simply no reason to backup these directories:

  • Windows: There’s almost never a reason to backup your Windows directory, as you’re going to have to reinstall the whole thing anyway, so this backup will likely do you no good.
  • Program Files: You’re going to have to reinstall your applications if your computer dies and you have to reinstall. Why bother backing up all these files?

It’s worth noting that if you create a system image backup, you won’t have to reinstall all of your applications, and backing up these folders would still be pointless.

When should you backup?

The best bet is to backup your files on a fairly regular basis–daily if possible. If you’re using an online backup solution, they are often configured to immediately start syncing any changed files when your PC is idle for a little while. This can be a great way to keep your files safe without having to wait for the next backup.

Hopefully these tips will help you backup your files and keep you protected.

Don’t forget the most important rule: any important data should exist in two or more physical locations at once.

May 22, 2014

Backup Options for Windows

Backups on Windows can be confusing. Whether you’re using Windows 7 or 8, you have quite a few integrated backup tools to think about. Windows 8 made quite a few changes, too. You can also use third-party backup software, whether you want to back up to an external drive or back up your files to online storage. Windows 7 has its own Backup and Restore feature that lets you create backups manually or on a schedule. You’ll find it under Backup and Restore in the Control Panel. The original version of Windows 8 still contained this tool, and named it Windows 7 File Recovery. This allowed former Windows 7 users to restore files from those old Windows 7 backups or keep using the familiar backup tool for a little while. Windows 7 File Recovery was removed in Windows 8.1.

System Restore on both Windows 7 and 8 functions as a sort of automatic system backup feature. It creates backup copies of important system and program files on a schedule or when you perform certain tasks, such as installing a hardware driver. If system files become corrupted or your computer’s software becomes unstable, you can use System Restore to restore your system and program files from a System Restore point.

This isn’t a way to back up your personal files. It’s more of a troubleshooting feature that uses backups to restore your system to its previous working state.

Windows 7′s Previous Versions feature allows you to restore older versions of files — or deleted files. These files can come from backups created with Windows 7′s Backup and Restore feature, but they can also come from System Restore points. When Windows 7 creates a System Restore point, it will sometimes contain your personal files. Previous Versions allows you to extract these personal files from restore points.

This only applies to Windows 7. On Windows 8, System Restore won’t create backup copies of your personal files. The Previous Versions feature was removed on Windows 8.

Windows 8 replaced Windows 7′s backup tools with File History, although this feature isn’t enabled by default. File History is designed to be a simple, easy way to create backups of your data files on an external drive or network location.

File History replaces both Windows 7′s Backup and Previous Versions features. Windows System Restore won’t create copies of personal files on Windows 8. This means you can’t actually recover older versions of files until you enable File History yourself — it isn’t enabled by default.

Windows also allows you to create system image backups. These are backup images of your entire operating system, including your system files, installed programs, and personal files. This feature was included in both Windows 7 and Windows 8, but it was hidden in the preview versions of Windows 8.1. After many user complaints, it was restored and is still available in the final version of Windows 8.1 — click System Image Backup on the File History Control Panel.

Windows 8′s Storage Spaces feature allows you to set up RAID-like features in software. For example, you can use Storage Space to set up two hard disks of the same size in a mirroring configuration. They’ll appear as a single drive in Windows. When you write to this virtual drive, the files will be saved to both physical drives. If one drive fails, your files will still be available on the other drive.

This isn’t a good long-term backup solution, but it is a way of ensuring you won’t lose important files if a single drive fails.

Windows 8 and 8.1 allow you to back up a variety of system settings — including personalization, desktop, and input settings. If you’re signing in with a Microsoft account, OneDrive settings backup is enabled automatically. This feature can be controlled under OneDrive > Sync settings in the PC settings app.

This feature only backs up a few settings. It’s really more of a way to sync settings between devices.

Microsoft hasn’t been talking much about File History since Windows 8 was released. That’s because they want people to use OneDrive instead.

OneDrive — formerly known as SkyDrive — was added to the Windows desktop in Windows 8.1. Save your files here and they’ll be stored online tied to your Microsoft account. You can then sign in on any other computer, smartphone, tablet, or even via the web and access your files. Microsoft wants typical PC users “backing up” their files with OneDrive so they’ll be available on any device.

You don’t have to worry about all these features. Just choose a backup strategy to ensure your files are safe if your computer’s hard disk fails you. Whether it’s an integrated backup tool or a third-party backup application, be sure to back up your files.


May 21, 2014

The book the changed it all

So I got my first edition of “trey of swords” by Andre Norton in the mail today. I have looked high and low for this copy. I also have a beat up paper back copy. This was the first fantasy book I read as a kid. If I had not picked this book up I probably would have never read anything. I hated reading when I was a kid there were never anything that would hold my attention. Then I saw this book. I chose this book because it had swords in the title. I liked swords I told me self. I did not even read the excerpt I told myself this books got to be good if it’s about swords.

As went to check it out I remember the librarian telling me that I probably wouldn’t like this book and tried to get my to get a different book. I found out much later it was because she was afraid my parents would have been upset about letting me read this book because it is set in witch world. The Witch World setting is one planet in a parallel universe where magic works; early in the fictional history it is performed exclusively by women. The series began as a hybrid of science fiction and sword and sorcery but for the most part it combines the latter with high fantasy. I was instantly glued to this book. After that I knew what books I wanted to read … fantasy books and now I collect them.


May 8, 2014

Bullied and Invisible.

I want you to imagine what it would be like if one day you walked out of your front door and you were completely invisible. Nobody looked at you, nobody acknowledged your presence.  When you try and make eye contact with people, they look away. Now imagine that happening for 13 years of your childhood. Waking up every day to go to school knowing you are going to get made fun of knowing you are going to get bullied and no one is going to do anything about it. You see the ugly truth of the human condition. That ugly truth is we are not all equal and never will be. There are losers in this world and you are one of them. Your self-esteem drops, which makes it even worse. Doesn’t even matter how hard you try. It will never be good enough. So you withdraw. You just suffer in silence. The ones that want to help cannot and the ones that can want nothing to do with it. People just shrug and say “kids can be cruel.” Which is their way of saying they do not really care. Schools say they have policies in place to deal with this. Let’s stop right there … if that were true why is this still happening everywhere?

Years later, bullying still hurts. No one should have to endure bullying. I have no real good memories of that time in my life I prefer to not to think about it. You can only go so long getting knocked down before you decide that it might be best to stay down. If you were lucky they ignored you. If you weren’t so lucky, you got bullied. Every day. Until you learned to keep to yourself. Don’t talk to people, it only invites trouble into your life. It sucks a lot of the few friends I did have back then I have lost connection with mainly because I want to be as far from that area as possible and it’s not their fault and can’t be blamed for my choices. I was angry and I still hate that place to this day. Suffice it to say, somehow I held on. But a huge part of me has been forever damaged by it. This isn’t something you ever recover from, you only bury it and keep piling more dirt over it, hoping to level out the massive bump, but it’s always there. You move on the best you can one foot in front of the other. By the time I made it to college I was so angry with the world I had to force myself to leave my dorm room other than just going to class come back and locking myself away.

I am glad I did force myself out, I found others not that different from me and the healing began. I was lucky, not everyone is able to escape from the holes we dig and no one is going to help you out of that hole you have to help yourself out. It is hard work and takes a lot of time to get out of the habit of running away. Receding to your safe place. It is still hard for me to open up to new people I meet. I hate being out in the public around people I do not know. To this day I still think everyone is judging me and they might be judging me. So what their opinion matters not. I am who I am and that is who I will always be.

All people deserve to be happy, and all children deserve to grow up in an environment where they feel safe and free. Schools need to have clear policies in place to stop bullying. Communities need to make it very clear that bullying won’t be tolerated, and bullies — and their parents — need to be held accountable for their actions. I leave you with this video of a poem written that hits so hard to home I can’t help but cry every time I hear. You can make a difference….