Burn Notice Season One is out on DVD! (soon)

Burn Notice DVD coverLast year a new series called Burn Notice started on the USA Network.

I love this show. Basically the main character (Michael Westen) is a spy who gets “burned”. That basically means that his bosses don’t trust him anymore but they won’t go as far as killing him. He’s dropped off in Miami (because that’s where he was originally from) and told that he’s not allowed to leave. So basically the show consists of people asking him for help, and the local scumbags having no idea what they’re dealing with. FBI agents sent to keep an eye on him and hitmen sent by old enemies provide more of a challenge in case the locals are too easy. The larger story is who burned him and why.

It sounds like it could be a bit difficult for the writers to arrange believable situations where people need help, and he agrees and he wins, but it all works extremely well. The acting and directing are also superb. In fact, I can’t say there’s anything I don’t like about the show.

It’s billed as an “action comedy” which is a category I can’t say I’ve heard of before, but explosions and one-liners – who could ask for anything more 🙂

It’s difficult to say what I like so much about the show. I think part of it is that I enjoy it when a main character is really really good at whatever they do. I think of it as a Sherlock Holmes type character – someone who’s never wrong, who’s always a step ahead, who sees what everyone else misses.

Having said that, Westen does mess up sometimes and gets beaten up and bleeds, which is realism that I appreciate. I know, it seems like I want opposing, incompatible things from the show, but it delivers anyway.

I also really like the little voiceover bits he does. Basically he gives you tips on how to be a spy, and it’s usually something related to what’s happening in the episode. For example in one episode he hijacks a car, paying special attention to the fact that it doesn’t have airbags. Then he drives as fast as he can, head first into a bad guy’s car (which does have airbags). The bad guy gets knocked out by the airbag, and as Westen ties the man’s hands to the steering wheel with cable ties, his voiceover says something like “An airbag can save your life. But it will also knock you out long enough for someone to cable tie your hands to the steering wheel.” That had me laughing out loud.

None of the people I know have even heard of the show, which is a real shame. Possibly this is because the show is on USA which is a smaller network(?) I don’t really understand how American TV channels work. In any case, USA also make Monk and Psych – two other shows that I love – so I think they deserve more attention than they get.

Come to think of it, both Monk and Psych also have main characters that have that Sherlock Holmes feeling to them…

Another odd thing – Jeffrey Donovan (the actor who plays Michael Westen in Burn Notice) played the bad guy in a Monk episode (Mr. Monk and the Astronaut) so there’s a weird crossover.

Anyway, the Burn Notice season one DVD is out in the middle of June – I’ve been waiting for this ever since I saw the first episode

Can’t wait for season two…

P.S. This is my first post using Zemanta, which explains the new links to Wikipedia and the Related articles section.

It seems pretty handy so far – Zemanta automates the part of the blogging process where you look for pictures to go with your post, choose tags and linkify key words and phrases. Although I haven’t used any of its picture suggestions because it insists on putting them at the top of the post rather than next to the paragraph to which the picture refers.

Also its new suggestions make the old suggestions disappear, which could make it a pain to remove links after you’ve added them…

 

 

 

 

Nice bug

Bug

Bug

I’ve been following this thing for a while now, and they’ve actually got it shipping!

Basically it’s a very small computer. You can connect different kinds of hardware to it and program your own applications.

The base comes with a memory card slot, battery, a speaker, USB, ethernet, a little LCD screen and some buttons. The modules you can plug into it (so far) are GPS, camera, LCD screen and a motion sensor. They’re going to make more modules, including WiFi.

You could combine the modules in all sorts of interesting ways – a camera that records where each picture was taken using GPS, a game using the LCD screen and motion sensor etc.

The OS is Linux based and the programming language is Java – Open Source is a big deal to these guys.

All this is candy to a programming, Lego playing, gadget loving person like me. Just with the camera module and a memory card you could replicate the SenseCam! Add the GPS module and you could surpass it.

The down side at the moment is that it’s $299 for the base, $79 for the GPS, $69 for the camera, $99 for the screen and $49 for the motion sensor. It’s not exactly something everyone and his dog needs so I don’t think the price is likely to come down any time soon 🙁

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Battlefield: Bad Company beta!

Battlefield: Bad Company cover (Xbox 360)

Image via Wikipedia

Holy pez, I just got an invite code for the Battlefield: Bad Company beta!

Can’t wait to get home and give it a spin!

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EverNote v3 beta invites

EverNote logo

EverNote logo

I have some invites to the EverNote v3 beta – leave a comment if you want one.

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Rainbow Six Vegas 1.1

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 cover (Xbox ...

Image via Wikipedia

So last week my pre-order of Rainbow Six Vegas 2 finally arrived.

You may have noticed that the title of this post is Rainbow Six Vegas 1.1 and not Rainbow Six Vegas 2. There is a good reason for this.

You might think, from its name, that this game is a sequel to Rainbow Six Vegas. It is not. It is the same game engine with some new content. Yes, that’s right, just like a patch or an expansion pack, not like a sequel.

The graphics and AI are (unfortunately) unimproved, and there are still some bugs from the original Vegas that haven’t been fixed(!)

The physics are the same as ever – when it works it’s fantastic, but sometimes you’ll shoot someone and they’ll go flying up in the air as if an invisible Graboid had them. Takes you right out of the game.

The map design has actually worsened – I get the impression this is their B team as far as map design goes. For example the Murdertown map is an unfinished housing development. Fair enough, except that everything is made out of flat, rectangular pieces of plywood. It looks nothing like reality and everything like little Johnny’s first time around the block with a map editor.

Presumably because of the success of Call of Duty 4, they’ve added sprinting and bullet penetration. The bullet penetration doesn’t feel right. In Call of Duty you see someone run behind some cover and you let loose at it. They see bullets coming through the cover and then you get them. In Vegas 2 you see someone run behind some cover, you let loose at it, and… it doesn’t go through. Basically things have got to be very thin. I thought bullets were tougher than that – they must be making plywood out of Kevlar these days. I did have a cool moment when a terrorist was hiding behind a bamboo divider in the Chinese casino – my IR goggles saw him through the thin cover and my bullets made it through to get him.

The sprinting is nice in as much as it alleviates the my legs are broken feeling I always have when I play a Rainbow Six game, but they’ve just thrown away one of the basic tenets of their franchise – realism – just to be like a successful competitor. Shame.

The one massive improvement over v1 is the A.C.E.S. system.

My conclusion concurs with the consensus – if you liked the first game, you’ll probably like this one because it’s the same thing. But you might feel a bit ripped off.

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Sony ≠ Whores after all

Sony screenshot

Sony screenshot

So apparently it turns out that Sony aren’t (completely) oblivious to public opinion after all.

Only a day after they introduced the option for you to pay them not to screw up your computer they’ve made the option free.

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Sony = Whores

Sony screenshotIn the context of my recent post about my Sony Vaio UX390N, it’s interesting that Sony have started to offer an option to not pre-install tons of useless eval software (aka crapware) on your computer.

For a price of course. Whores.

There’s no explanation or excuse other than greed. They’re obviously being paid by the software manufacturers to pre-load their software, so if they stopped doing it they’d suffer a loss. Unless of course they got you to pay the difference.

Un-burned

Amazon logo

Amazon logo

Good news since my last post complaining about Amazon pre-orders.

I sent them an email explaining the situation and why I was unhappy about it. Within a couple hours they replied saying that there was indeed a problem with the time estimates and the game should ship by the 21st to arrive by the 24th. Not ideal, as it would mean that I still don’t get to play the game over the weekend, but what’s a boy to do.

Then a couple hours after that, I got a notification that it had shipped – on the 19th! To arrive by the 21st! Before the weekend! Hooray!

I don’t know whether my email had anything to do with getting it shipped sooner or not, but I’m mollified. Until next time.

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So far so disappointed

Portishead Third cover

Portishead Third cover

I have been a fan of Portishead for years – a decade, even.

I know it’s almost a cliché, but Sour Times is intrinsically tied to some of my treasured teen memories. Roads is so perfect and beautiful it almost brings tears to my eyes whenever I listen to it. Both the Portishead and Dummy albums are among the few where I like every song.

Which brings us to Third. I couldn’t be anticipating it more if I tried.

Having said that, why is it called Third ? Is the fact that it’s their third album really the most important thing about it? Can’t say I like the name.

So far the only song I’ve heard from the album is Machine Gun, and I’m sorry to say I’m disappointed. I want to like it, I went into it wanting to like it, and I just can’t. Beth Gibbons is spectacular as always but what the hell is that “machine gun” noise? It’s so unmelodious that it’s not even music anymore. Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to like it.

I can only hope that the rest of the album is better. And I do hope. I do.

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Burned again

Amazon logoFirst of all let me say that I love Amazon.com. They have unbeatable prices, a good quality service and an almost unlimited inventory. They get pretty much all of my spending on non-essentials.

However. Whenever I try to pre-order the latest game I get burned. Case in point – I pre-ordered Rainbow Six Vegas 2. It came out on the 18th, so with 2nd day delivery I should have got it on the 20th. Instead, I get an email from them saying it won’t arrive until the 25th or 26th. The product page says it’s in stock and if I order it how I could have it by the 20th. WTF? The order page also says “We are preparing these items for shipment and this portion of your order cannot be canceled or changed.” so I can’t cancel the order and buy it in a real life shop. Thanks.

Although this has happened to me the last several times I’ve pre-ordered a game through them, I still did it this time because of the Amazon Prime free shipping and because I had a gift card from my Amazon.com Rewards Visa card. Somehow it doesn’t seem worth it.