Archive for January, 2015

Speculative Fiction Saturday, The Land of the Lost

land_of_the_lostOkay, I think I said that I would be just reviewing films from 2014, and yes, The Land of the Lost came out in 2009, but I just saw it, and it is on my mind, okay? Generally, if I don’t hear about a movie after it is released, I have a tendency to assume the worst. Sometimes, you can get some pleasant surprises, like that Edge of Tomorrow movie wasn’t so bad. In the case of The Land of the Lost, the worst needs to be assumed because this film is made of stupid.

For those who don’t know, the film is based on a television show from Sid and Marty Kroft. If you haven’t heard of them, you really didn’t watch live-action kids shows of the seventies like Wonderbug, H.R. Puff n Stuff, Electrowoman and Dyna Girl, The Lost Saucer, Far Out Space Nuts, and much more. I would have to say that the campy quality of these shows made me the geek that I am today.

The Land of the Lost was an attempt at making a show with live-action dinosaurs, but the effects looked fake even back then. I remember watching this show as a kid, and I was terrified of it then, because there is a shot of a T-Rex who tries to eat the camera on the title sequence. Dang.

In this case, this is a way to make Will Ferrell even more of a star, so this is a full-out comedy. It begins with Will Ferrell playing Marshall, a scientist who is convinced that time travel is possible. Oh wait, it actually begins with an astronaut who finds himself trapped in a prehistoric land before being eaten by a T-Rex. How did the astronaut get there? This is never addressed.

Trust me, there are several things that aren’t addressed. Will Ferrell cannot get any support for his time travel theories, and ends up being humiliated with an interview with Matt Lauer. Why Matt Lauer? Isn’t he popular or something? Who cares.

Marshall can only find work at a grade school science lab, but he is visited by Holly, who is played by Anna Friel, who you should really watch on Pushing Daisies, just one of many great shows you could be watching instead of The Land of the Lost. Anyway, Holly shows Marshall an imprint of a Zippo lighter on a fossil, and it just happens to be Marshall’s lighter. I’m assuming that you’ve seen enough time travel movies to know that the whole film will lead up to how it got that way.

Marshall builds a time travel off-screen, and I honestly think there is a scene skipped, because it just cuts to Marshall and Holly working together without any establishment. Again, no explanation. The two of them go into this cave in the desert, which is a tourist trap run by Will, played by Danny McBride. The three of them try out Marshall’s time machine and end up in…do I need to say it?

When Marshall, Will, and Holly go on their routine expedition, they meet the greatest earthquake ever known. Yep, that is from The Land of the Lost TV theme song, and it is shoe-horned in the dialogue so awkwardly that it hurts.

The movie differs from the TV show as Will and Holly were children, and there was no time machine involved. In fact, if you listen to the TV’s theme song, it is implied that The Land of The Lost might be somewhere on Earth. In this film, The Land of the Lost is some sideways timeline, and it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. For example, there is wreckage of the Golden Gate Bridge and other modern-day and futuristic technology. Where is this coming from? Are there portals to modern day Earth sucking stuff in at random? That sounds kind of cool, but this is…never…addressed. That would have made a good main conflict, you know, stop this from happening…anyone?

So the three of them meet Chaka, this hairy guy who is straight out of the TV show. From there it is about being chased by T-Rex’s, because every dinosaur movie has this scene. In fact, they crawl into a cave to escape, and the T-Rex’s head can’t get in, just like in every other movie. However, the main characters don’t back up as far as they can in this cave! Why?

The film then brings in the Sleestaks, also stolen from the TV show. How do we know that they are called the Sleestaks? Because there is some grafitti that says “Beware of Sleestaks”, written by…who the heck cares. Anyway, one of the Sleestaks named Enik (also taken from the show) calls to Marshall telepathically, and tells him how to get his time machine back.

From there, it is all about adventure mixed in with stupid bathroom humor. Seriously, there is like a five minute scene where Wiil Ferrell coats himself in dinosaur urine, and it is either extremely funny or extremely gross, take your pick, but I’m veering towards the latter.

As it turns out, Enik is actually a bad guy, which I never saw coming because my memories of the TV show has Enik standing out as a good guy. I think they deterred from the source material.

Yeah, I think this project was doomed from the start, and someone probably thought Will Ferrell’s star power could save it. It didn’t, and I’m guessing that if this film had worked, other Kroft projects would have been green-lit. Too bad Kroft will be remembered for this, as his works, campy as they are, deserve to be remembered.

Posted by on January 31st, 2015 No Comments

Exploding Kittens- The Most Backed Kickstarter Project of all Time

“This is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats.” So says the Kickstarter page for Exploding Kittens- a game illustrated by the famous internet cartoonist, Matthew Inman(The Oatmeal).

Here’s a video to explain the game better than I can:

This Kickstarter project set records meeting their goal of $10,000 in 20 minutes. Currently it has more than 4 million dollars in support, and there is still 20 days left. People who give $20 to this Kickstarter project will receive their own deck of cards. If you pledge $35, you could receive a NSFW deck in addition to the regular cards. The game is said to be suitable for kids 7 and up apart from the NSFW deck, of course.

Those who pledge their support are due to receive their game sometime in July 2015, and it ships anywhere in the world. If you want your very own deck of Exploding Kittens, go to the Exploding Kittens Kickstart page, and you, too, can be part of Kickstarter history.

Source

Posted by on January 30th, 2015 No Comments

The Eye Tribe could start a new era

I’ve seen a lot of interesting products at CES, and some are similar to another. Last year, I got a chance to review Tobii and YEI technology with their eye tracking. By the way, SteelSeries has the eye-tracking technology for gaming, but The Eye Tribe has eye-tracking for everything.

The Eye Tracker isn’t exactly a product that you can buy right now and then use on something. It is made essentially for developers, but its uses are pretty much good for anything. This is why I put this video here, because there is a lot that you can do with it, like looking at an e-reader to turn a page, or using your eyes to unlock a screen.

Now, I had a chance to try this out, but I don’t remember if it was this product that I tried. Seriously, there might have been three product that use eye-tracking, including the Tobii one.

Now, my experience with eye-tracking was not a good one. I think part of it was because it was my first experience. I think I was concentrating too hard and my eyes just started to hurt. Now, I honestly think I could adapt to this, and it would probably get easier. Think of it this way, a first grader who is asked to write a sheet of writing would be tired, but as an adult, that person could write a bunch.

In other words, I can see The Eye Tribe’s technology being used in many places, and made for surfing the internet and in absence of a mouse. If you are a developer who is interested in something like this, head on over to The Eye Tribe site for $99.

Posted by on January 30th, 2015 No Comments

Solowheel and Hovertrax from the Inventist

hovertraxToday’s review is of two new, cool gadgets that will propel you around and get you where you are going in style!  These were items that Mark came across at CES.  Next year, I’m going with him so I can experience all these cool things firsthand.

Hovertrax is like a light-weight, “look-Ma-no-hands” Segway! I could see people on the college campuses in our area riding around on these.  That is, if they want to pay $995 for one.  The Hovertrax goes 5 mph and will get you 8 miles before you have to charge it for 45 minutes.  This item is due to come out this year.

solowheelAnother thing that can move you at Inventist.com is the Solowheel.  If you have a little more money to spend($1595), you can ride this motorized unicycle without a seat around town, or around campus, too!  It’s a bit faster than Hovertrax- between 10 and 12 mph.  It runs for about 10 miles, and will need to charge for 3 to 5 hours after that.  The weight of the Solowheel is 24.25 lbs, and will hold up to 220 lbs.  It is supposed to be good for your core and balance.  When they reviewed it on the show “The Doctors,” the new rider reported it as being quite a workout, and, of course, it takes a little practice to be able to control it.

Solowheel Extreme promises higher efficiency in power, more sleek,an LED light for nighttime riding, and built-in Bluetooth capabilities. Apps for smartphones, tablets and watches will be available in the near future. The Solowheel Extreme is more expensive at $2,295. You can pre-order this item, and order all other items at The Inventist website.

Posted by on January 29th, 2015 No Comments

My Review of the J5Create JUD480 USB 3.0 Boomerang Station

JUD480It has been over a year since I reviewed a J5Create product, and one of the products that I reviewed was the JUD500 Ultra Station. This time, I had the chance to review the JUD480 USB 3.0 Boomerang Station.

I’m sure that you can see why it is called the Boomerang Station just by its shape. I would imagine that if you threw it right, it would probably come back to you. Its shape is terrific for holding up your laptop at a certain angle, as you can see.

It is made for connecting a 2nd monitor with a VGA port, and you probably can’t see the other ports like four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, microphone, speaker, and Gigabit Ethernet. There is also a power adapter and a 3.0 Host port to connect it to your computer.

As I had a chance to try it out, I think something like this is a must if you are trying to make your ordinary laptop a super power center. After all, if you want another screen, then you are going to want some kind of hook-ups for everything, and laptops always seem to run out of USB ports.

If you want it, you can find out more information about it on the J5Create site. You won’t be able to buy it there, but you should be able to get it for about $140.00, because that is about the highest price I found it for.

Posted by on January 29th, 2015 No Comments

Oculus Rift will flourish with Story Studio

Lost_BIn case you are wondering, this poster for “lost” is not related to the ABC show of the same name with its weird ending. As far as I know, it isn’t related to The Iron Giant, which featured a giant crawling robotic hand. Lost is a short film from Story Studio, an in-house innovation lab focused on exploring and sharing tools and techniques to craft entertainment experiences with VR.

By now, I hope that I don’t have to talk about the Oculus Rift, as I have mentioned it before and was pretty excited about how it will change gaming when I saw it demonstrated at PAX. With this strange burdensome goggles on your head, you can be within a virtual environment making our nineties dreams of virtual reality come true.

What Pixar did with computer generated movies, Story Studio hopes to do with VR. In other words, it wants to use the first-person point-of-view with some interactivity to create a whole new entertainment experience. Our Source, who made that Pixar comparison, has watched “lost” and fully enjoyed the immersive theater experience, and Story Studio has more works lined up with Dear Angelica (a surreal adventure), Bullfighter (an action adventure), and Henry (which looks like a cute little animal story).

This leads to the question of what kind of films would be good for the Oculus Rift. Personally, I would love to see a murder mystery that would put the viewer as the lead detective. It would definitely require him or her to look in the right place at the right time. Oh, man, I just can’t believe that we are headed into an age like this.

Source

Posted by on January 28th, 2015 No Comments

PLAYBULB Candle by MiPOW

20150113_002840[1]

My first post on The Geek Church, and it will be a review of a product Mark found at CES.   This is the PLAYBULB Candle.  It’s a nifty little device that can be controlled by an app on Apple or Android devices.

After downloading the app, I found the set-up to be a bit clunky.  I got the device to pair with my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, and there is a tutorial at the beginning, but the app is pretty basic, and could use some updating.

The candle is able to change colors, and there are different effects- such as candle effect, flashing, pulse, rainbow, and rainbow fade.  These are all controlled directly through the app.  If you didn’t have your phone with you, the candle would only be able to be the color you last set it at.  You also have the option of setting a timer for the candle to turn on or off at certain times.  This is useful if you want to fall asleep to candle light, but don’t want it “burning” all night.

Screenshot_2015-01-27-00-17-44[1]Want to hear some tunes as your candle is going?  The app will pull up a playlist for you from your phone.  This is the playlist that the app pulled from my phone on the left:

I must say, I don’t find “Facebook Pop” to be the most romantic song, and certainly not the only music on my phone.  There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the songs it chooses to play, and sound quality is only as good as the speakers on your phone.

The PLAYBULB Candle by MiPow is, overall, a fun little gadget.  You can purchase it, along with other cool accessories, like the PLAYBULB color light bulb with speakers, on the MiPow site for $49.99.

Posted by on January 27th, 2015 No Comments

Universal SwingHolder Floor Stand by Stand For Stuff

Stand for Stuff SFS-FSU-AWe really live in an age where we use tablet computers a lot, and we it seems like we aren’t prepared for it. It is like living in a world with televisions, but we just never got around to inventing the home entertainment center.

The Universal SwingHolder Floor Stand by Stand For Stuff is made to keep your tablet in place while you just sit there. Seriously, don’t most of us do that with our tablets or e-readers? Sure, we interact with them, but it is difficult to just keep it on your lap. The SwingHolder is designed to be adjustable, sort of like a microphone stand of some kind.

The holder for the tablet works with any tablet or e-reader measuring 7.5 to 14.5 inches on the diagonal, so you won’t have to remove your tablet from its cover. The design on the holder has holders at right angles, so it is made to keep the tablet in with rubberized fingers. The holder can be adjusted for a lot of viewing angles.

In addition to using the Universal SwingHolder for viewing, you can charge your tablet as well. There is a USB port near the tablet holder that you can use with your USB charger, and then plug the included AC outlet in the wall.

I received it and it can assemble in a few minutes, and it can be folded up to only take up one foot of storage space. If you want it, you should head on over to the Stand For Stuff site and lay down for $199.00.

Posted by on January 27th, 2015 No Comments

3DRudder allows you to use your feet on the computer

3DrudderSome of you might remember how in my KeyMouse article, I talked about how something like this might be necessary in a world where we will need to do work in 3D rather than 2D. There is another device that I saw at CES 2015 that is made for a different kind of interface with the 3DRudder.

I had a chance to try it out, and it is somewhat interesting. You put the your feet on the 3D rudder on the imprints of the feet, and you can spin it and lean for all kinds of interaction. I have to admit I was really spinning when I first tried it, but what do you expect, no learning curve?

I suppose that it is possible to use the 3D rudder without a mouse, but I’m not certain how you are supposed to click with. Use a big toe, perhaps? No, it’s not like that, but I like the idea of not moving my hand from my keyboard to move my mouse. Seriously, ever since KeyMouse opened my eyes to that time-waster, I can’t help but think about the wasted seconds of my day on that, compounded.

Now, this is an Indigogo project, but I think it will be available soon. I don’t have a price for it as yet, but you can read more information about it here.

Posted by on January 26th, 2015 No Comments

The Bragi Dash and Free Wavz Totally Wireless Earbuds

Bragi DashI’ve seen and reviewed a lot of wireless earbuds in the past, and the most “convenient” ones are like the Jabra Sport Wireless, which are two earbuds that are joined together by a singular wire. While I was at CES 2015, I saw two pairs of completely wireless earbuds that snip the wire and keep the sound.

I’ll start with the Dash, from a company known as Bragi. The Dash is a “Hearable” which I am assume is a combination of “hear” and “wearable”. So, as a wearable, it has body sensors that can actually track your performance as you are running in real-time. Stuff that can be tracked is pace, steps, cadence, distance, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and energy spent.

What is interesting is that you don’t have to be hooked to a phone in order to listen to music. That’s right, it has 4 GB inside that you can play 1000 songs with. Not bad. By the way, it can drown out almost any outside sound.

Now, if you want to pre-order it, you can for a price of $299.00, and it should be available in April right here.

Free WavzThe second product that are Totally Wireless Earbuds is the Free Wavz. These have 3-axis accelerometers and pulse oximeters that can monitor heart rate, calories burned, speed, distance, workout duration, and oxygen saturation.

As you can see, the Free Wavz has a different look than the Dash. They have internal Flash memory with 16MB, which isn’t as much as the Dash, but I am not certain if you can operate the Free Wavz without a phone.

I believe that the Free Wavz will be available sometime in March 2015 right here.

Posted by on January 26th, 2015 No Comments