Mastodon Josh – Page 12 – Josh Hrach

Billy Mays Dead? What Next?

As reported by Fox News, Tampa Bay Online, the Tampa Bay Business Journal, and the Associated Press (via MSNBC), TV pitchman Billy Mays was found dead in his Tampa home.  They say he was found unresponsive and was pronounced dead early this morning.

Wow, this makes for quite an interesting week!  The month had started off in a weird way with the announced death of actor David Carradine on June 3rd.  But the past week has seemed weirder than all of the speculation put around Carradine’s death.

June 23rd, Ed MacMahon, the voice of the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, passed.  He was definitely a big name in the entertainment world for many decades.  He and Carson both made for a great late night show which I would love to see more of.

Then, two days later, on June 25th, we first heard of the death of Farrah Fawcett from cancer.  Her looks, and her time as one of Charlie’s Angels, made her an international star.  Then, later that same day (and pretty much stealing the headlines, even to today), Michael Jackson died from cardiac arrest.  All you have to do is look at how the media is still covering his death, as well as see all of the tributes that have gone up to him (and, to a lesser extent, Farrah Fawcett) to see how people reacted to their deaths.

Now, the crazy news for today.  In less than a week since Ed MacMahon’s death, Billy Mays is found dead.  It seems so crazy to hear about yet another big named celebrity to die.  Granted, time and unforeseen occurance befalls everyone, but it still is making for an interesting week.

So, goodbye, Billy Mays.  OxiClean, Orange Glo, Kaboom, Handy Switch, iCan, Steam Buddy, Tool Bandit, Gopher, and every other product you were the front man for will never be the same again.

Well, maybe the same, but just quieter.

Now… I wonder what news we’ll be seeing this week.

Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood Concert Review

Surprisingly, I’ve had several people eagerly awaiting my review.  Therefore, here it is!

The last time I had gone to a Clapton concert, I made sure to blog about it right away.  This time, it’s taken me a week to write this.  But, here it is!

The concert itself was on June 17th.  While it’s been a few days, the details have definitely stuck in my mind, as it was quite the concert!  It was my third time seeing Eric Clapton (and my first for Steve Winwood), but for a friend that came with us, it was his first Clapton experience.  This concert was probably definitely a great way to introduce him to a live Clapton concert!

At 8:15pm, the lights were turned off.  The crowd on the floor and most of the 100 level got up as  the band came out on stage.  A simple “good evening” was enough to get a large cheer from the audience.  Seconds later, the band went into Had to Cry Today.  While I couldn’t hear the crowd, as Eric went into his first solo, I knew this would be a great evening.

The immediately went into Low Down.  It’s not a song I think I have heard before.  Still, for the evening, it was Eric’s first time behind the mic.  Given the blues-ish feel to the song, it’s no surprise on that.

Immediately after that was After Midnight.  After hearing him play that live during his last tour, I was glad it was played again.  It’s such a fun song when live.  I don’t know why I think that.  And as they ended the song, they went straight into Presence of The Lord.  This is the first concert I’ve been to where it was played, and it definitely is another great song.  (I should stop calling them great songs, as most of them were).

Sleeping in the Ground and Glad followed.  Sleeping in the Ground isn’t one of my favorite songs, but it was still good live.  Glad was a good song that, for sure, I’d like to see if I can get my band to learn.  The song that I quickly liked, though, was the following, Well Alright.  Eric’s opening riff caught my eye as a guitar player.  Since then, I’ve tried to recreate it… I’m still working on it.

When Tough Luck Blues started, it reminded me of the past concerts I’ve seen.  The way this one was started made me think of Little Queen of Spades and Have You Ever Loved a Woman.  I guess those blues songs in C all can start in similar ways.  Nothing wrong with that, of course!  Tough Luck Blues was over 7 minutes long, leaving plenty of time for great solos throughout the whole song.

As Pearly Queen started, I didn’t realize it’d be such a fun song.  Eric’s solos, again, were awesome. (And again, how can I say otherwise about his solos?)  And that only got better when, after a few seconds of playing some notes, they go right into Crossroads.  I like how the crowd doesn’t go nuts until he starts singing.  Is it that difficult to pick out a beat, key, or riff before vocals start?

After Crossroads, full of Eric and Steve singing verses and solos all around, they went into There’s a River.  This is probably one of the songs lower on my list of favorites from this show.  But what I did really enjoy were the vocal harmonies.  I think they were just grand.

At this point, we were already over half-way through the concert.  And that’s when Forever Man began.  It was something I was looking forward to after seeing the set lists for the earlier concerts.  Amazing work from the band on this.  As a side note, this is where I first noticed Eric playing a guitar out of standard tuning.  Based on what he was playing, I do believe it was dropped a step in tuning.  If anyone has any other speculation, or even confirmation, on this, please let me know!  I’m curious.

With that great song over, the band cleared the stage, leaving Steve Winwood alone at his organ.  After a few words to the audience, where he thanked the audience and said how grateful he was to be playing there, he began his solo song, Georgia on My Mind.  Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy this, both his singing as well as his organ solo.

At this point, the ‘acoustic’ set began.  This opened with Driftin’.  It was slower than I expected, but it was still a cool acoustic song.  I almost didn’t notice the rest of the band in on this, as Eric was seemingly stealing the show with his acoustic work.  I definitely need to play better acoustic like that!

How Long didn’t really get my attention.  But the song after, Layla, definitely got my, and everyone else’s, attention!  Again, this is a song that you just can’t go wrong with.  It was on this song that I realized, again, that Eric was playing in a dropped tuning.  In this case, just a half step down.

With the same, lower tuning, they immediately followed with Can’t Find My Way Home.  Being a Clapton/Winwood event, you can’t go through the concert without that.

With the acoustic set over, they went back, full energy, into Split Decision.  This was a great song, but I was totally surprised when I heard them go straight into Voodoo Chile!  I had a feeling it’d be played, but I wasn’t thinking that I would be hearing it right away.  But, wow, the band did great, and the audience fully appreciated all 15+ minutes of the song.  It seemed like an open jam at some points, but for such a great song, it was enough for the whole band to show off.

With Voodoo Chile over, I was expecting some more powerful hits.  Little Wing, Cocaine, something.  But the band just called it at that.  It seemed like a bit of a soft ending.  But, as I already knew a bit about the encore, it was definitely worth cutting the show a bit early.

The typical encore on the tour has seemed to be Dear Mr. Fantasy.  Well, we did not get that!  We’re Chicago.  What kind of treat could we have?

Why, Buddy Guy, of course!  There were some guitar volume issues at first, but once those were resolved, he was right into the song.  And what other song is there to play first than Sweet Home Chicago.  With both Eric and Buddy playing, it was a definite treat for Chicago.  Everyone definitely was singing along!   But one song isn’t enough!  So, why not throw in Drowning On Dry Land?  There you go!  Not only did Buddy do great on guitar, but vocally, he got the crowd going.  He even almost got some of the band to crack up.

Sadly, after those two songs, the show was over.  I was hoping for a second encore, and with how long it took for the lights to come on, it almost seemed possible.  Alas, such was not to be the case.  But that’s fine.  It was still a great night, either way!

Clapton Concert Review Coming Soon

Wednesday, I went to see Eric Clapton and Steven Winwood in concert.  I’ve been asked by a few people how the concert was.  Well, I will be writing a thorough review and posting it tomorrow for all to read.  I will try to include all that I can remember and describe things as best as possible.

I hope you’re eager to read it!

How the new Trek movie relates to previous Trek

Given how some people seem to not fully understand how the new Star Trek movie fits in with all other things Trek, I think it is appropriate to write a little about this.

Since the new movie has come out, I’ve heard various things.  For example, I’ve heard some say that this ruins all Trek given what happens in the movie.  Others have said that this finally explains how Kirk and Spock (and company) meet up.

Really, both are wrong!  This does not ruin anything, and it also does not show us how anyone met anyone.  At this point, I’d like to bring in a diagram to help show what I mean. [Picture used with permission from TerryN. Their original post is here.]

How the new movie affects the Trek timeline

How the new movie affects the Trek timeline

I think that picture definitely helps with explaining how the new movie’s timeline affects (or rather, does not affect) what is already established.

The events of Star Trek: Enterprise remain.  The deviation occurs prior to what would have been the original Star Trek series.  The difference is caused by Nero, commanding the Narada, falling through the black hole and encountering the USS Kelvin.  From that point on, everything else was happening in an alternate timeline.  (Which, coincidentally enough, is all but 2 minutes of the movie!)

Am I (or others) just making this up? Nope!  The dialogue was said on screen, in the movie, between Uhura and Spock.  If you don’t believe me, go watch the movie again.

So, did this new movie ruin previous Trek?  Did it tell us the hidden truth behind Kirk and Spock’s friendship?  Did it show how the crew found themselves together on the Enterprise?


Keep that in mind the next time you hear someone say one of the things above.  It may help them better understand the movie (and any future ones that may come from JJ Abrams).

New Enterprise = Not Your Father’s Starship

I just came across an interesting article about the new Star Trek movie and the various visual effects.  I had found that article through this page, which I got from @mexijew’s tweet.

One thing that stuck out for me: the new Enterprise is 2,357 feet long.  That is roughly 718 meters.  That makes it longer than the Enterprise-E!

Is that a trivial point? Maybe.  It definitely means a few things, at least from my view point:

  1. The events in the alternate timeline of the new movie (we’ll call it the JJ-verse), following the destruction of the USS Kelvin (where the divergence occurs), apparently lead to Starfleet making things bigger.  Perhaps this was in response to the large ship that destroyed the Kelvin in the first place.
  2. It is quite possible that, if we are to say that the TOS we know, for the most part, would have lived on if not for Nero’s interruption, that Starfleet would normally have went with more compact designs.  This would explain the smaller Constitution-class ship we have all come to know and love from the original series.
  3. The impact of the Kelvin’s destruction did more than just affect Kirk, but many other things as well.  Seeing the Kelvin destroyed at the beginning of the film was something that lead to many changes from what we currently see.  Not only did it affect how the crew got together, but it could very well have changed Starfleet’s entire way of viewing things.

Of course, in the opening scenes, we see a much more modern looking Kelvin.  It is easy to say, “Yes, it was just a movie, and JJ Abrams wanted things bigger.”  That could be true.  After all, George Kirk apparently saved over 800 lives from the Kelvin, which outnumbers even the original Enterprise’s crew compliment of 400-something.

Given that, while the new Enterprise may be bigger due to the Kelvin’s destruction, I do not imagine the Kelvin itself being a large vessel.  Rather, to explain the number of people on board, I have to ask what the ship was doing prior to the movie.  Did they just rescue people from some catastrophe, perhaps?

Whatever the case, I think this is something that may be analyzed for some time.  I know that, given my level of geekness, I’ll probably be trying to make this new movie fit into Star Trek’s canon in some way, despite the fact that I don’t view it as a Trek movie.  This film was a great movie in its own right.  But it definitely means a new start for Star Trek, especially since there is now a whole new timeline to explore.

What were your views on the changes brought about by the new movie?

Update: I was given the following by @TheWillEd, and I think it’s worth adding to this post.

The difference in people on Kelvin vs Enterprise is explained relatively easier I believe. The Enterprise (TOS Era) was a war vessel with no families allowed on the vessel. While the Kelvin seemed to be more of an Exploration/Scientific vessel. This would mean that there’d be the standard staff for operation of the vessel (which may go upwards around the 400 range) with the addition of the science crew, and potentially families as well(with the inclusion of George Kirk’s pregnant wife… whom was never indicated if she had any involvement in Starfleet.) While it may not be an actual indicator, I like to believe that the fact that the primary uniform colour of blue on the Kelvin would be indicative of this.

Coming Soon: Game Reviews

I figured that, given that I play video games, know people that video games, and there are plenty of video games and video gamers out there, perhaps I should share a bit of information and review some video games.

They may be classics.  They may be new.  But they will be games that I, hope, you will enjoy reading about.  Some titles that I know I will be talking about at some point include:

  • Final Fantasy 7
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Star Wars Rebellion
  • RBI Baseball

Yes, I did just put an NES game up there.  It’s worth talking about, though!

Final Fantasy 7 Now On PS3!

It has come!  No, it isn’t a remake.  But it is close enough for me!

There was some great news announced at E3 today from Sony.  What was that?  Well, besides all of the other new game releases, trailers, etc etc… One thing totally made my day: Final Fantasy 7 is coming to the PS3! (Or, should I say, has come… It is now available!)

For some time, the PlayStation Store has had some PS1 games available for purchase and download.  It is about time that Final Fantasy 7 came along!

The game itself is $9.99 and is a whopping 1352 MB to download.  But it is definitely worth it!  I’m 11% into my download at present.  I can’t wait to play it again!

Update: After I signed off my computer last night, the download completed.  I installed it just fine.  However, before you can play, you need to create an ‘Interal Memory Card’.  Once that is done, then you can play the game.  Enjoy!

Why Do You Tweet?

I’ve been on Twitter for almost four months.  It seems like longer, but it really hasn’t been.  Time just has flown by way too fast lately!

When I first signed up with Twitter, I saw it as something that people used from their phones.  Honestly, I have no need to update people from my phone about everything I’m doing.  I enjoy my privacy!

That said, I have found Twitter to be a useful tool.  For one, it lets me follow certain people and organizations and get 140 characters (or less) of information from them.  For example, I’ve been following @Nasa and, if not for their tweets, I wouldn’t have known about the ability to watch the Atlantis shuttle launch live recently (via NasaTV).  Or I can get notification quickly of new Stargate news from @GateWorld.

With Twitter expanding as rapidly as it seems to be, there are so many useful apps and widgets that seem to keep popping up.  I can post a blog, like this one, which TwitterFeed will send to my Twitter account.  That, then, is fed to my Facebook profile.  There are enough apps out there to have Twitter do so many things.  I’m not even sure I want to guess at what will be coming in the future!

I also have found that Twitter can be a relatively useful marketing tool, with various degrees of ‘success’.  I’ve not tried to use it too much on that level yet, but it definitely has potential.  I, personally, still need to look into that, as I know I’ll be using it to try and market a few sites I work with.

So, for me, personally, when it comes to what I say with my personal account, my replies, or anything that I put up, why do I tweet?  I like how easy it is to get updates from those that I follow, how easily I can update ones that need to be updated on something, and how simply it is all done.  It can let me get information from a target group and project information to a target audience.

Why do you tweet?

Looking for Ideas

I’ve not written blogs as regularly as I thought I would. I’ve been too busy to do that thus far.  But, I am curious what interests those that do read this.  So, this blog is simple and to the point:

“What would you like me to write about in a future blog?”

I’d be willing to review sites, give my input on things, even answer questions about a variety of topics.  Leave some comments and let me know! I’ll be sure to throw in these ideas along with my other blogs that are coming up.

Thank you!

WolframAlpha: Oh, Where Were You…?

Friday, something new was unveiled.  I don’t think it’ll be competition for the major search engines, but it definitely is cool.  It’s called Wolfram|Alpha.

It’s not really a search engine.  There are definitely quite a few neat things that you can do with it, though.  I did a few quick examples.  First, I did a search of a date.  I chose September 11th, 2001, as it is a date known by almost everyone worldwide.  Now, I’m shown data about how long ago that was, notable events, sunrise and sunset times, and how long there was daylight on that day.

Let’s try a different search.  One of the examples shown was to do a search for the International Space Station.  You can get sky position and orbital data about the ISS.  So far, this is looking really cool!

It seems that Wolfram|Alpha is great when it comes to data that has statistics, numbers, or other kinds of numeric measurements.  But this isn’t what I’ve been playing with the most.

One thing that I had to try was some mathematical computation.  I initially tried it with a simple quadratic equation.  I then moved on to something a bit more complex.  Being the geek that I am, I thought back to my Calculus days and had to try a little integration and differentiation, too.  Oh, and limits.  You can’t forget limits.

I must say… I am impressed.  I just wish I had had this to play with when I was still in my various Calculus courses.  Actually, I would’ve enjoyed using this with my engineering courses, as well.  There is so much to play with!

If you would like to try Wolfram|Alpha, why not check their list of examples?  There will definitely be something there that you can play with.

Have fun!