random tv on dvd news

Well, it’s been quite a long time since I did a post about some classic TV shows hitting DVD recently, because there really hasn’t been a huge influx of new stuff for quite a long time.  Add to that the fact that my collecting DVDs has really bottomed out over the past few months.  I stalled on getting some more, for whatever reason.  I still have a long way to go before my collection will be complete — in fact, if I had to guess, I’d say I’m about 1/3rd finished — but I just haven’t been paying much attention recently.

Anyway, there is a few things on the front that I’ll mention.  The first one is that both the original Transformers and G.I. Joe are going to get a re-release in a couple of months.  The stories behind both of them is a little interesting.

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The original box sets for the Transformers animated series came out a long, long time ago.  I’m not sure when, but it was way before even releasing TV shows on DVD became remotely popular.  They sold them in two sets per season.  By the time I started getting them (which was when there was still very little selection anyway), they were already out of print, and very expensive.  I remember paying between $40 to $100 for each box set, and I actually got all of them but one box.

When I found out that there was a Transformers movie in the making (the first one), I decided I’d make a gamble.  I figured that it would be an irresistible opportunity for someone to snatch up the rights for the old series and re-release the DVDs.  Since I wasn’t really watching the ones I had, and they were in fair condition anyway, I decided to sell mine, figuring they would be re-released.

Well, the movie came, the movie went out of theaters, onto DVD, and not a peep about the TV show getting re-released.  My gamble lost.  I was really bummed, because they were so hard to find.  By this time, I didn’t want to re-invest the money in tracking them down again, so I gave up on it.  What I didn’t count on, though, was a sequel to the movie, and it looks like the TV shows are finally getting a proper release again.  Right on.  They’ll be out June 16th of this year.

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G.I. Joe is another series that had the same problem — in fact, they were both released by Rhino, which got bought out by someone, or something.  I don’t remember the story.  A shame, because they were releasing a lot of retro stuff.

They originally got released on DVD way back when, but they never released the entire series.  Just the first season and half of the second one (if I’m remembering correctly).  These, though, I did manage to get all of them that were available.

The new release is gonna be out July 21st.

Now this one isn’t nearly as noteworthy, but it is singular in the sense that it’s been one series that has been highly anticipated to be released for a long time, and now it’s finally out: Mr. Belvedere.

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The first two seasons are finally on DVD, and while this release is a bit dated already (I think it came out in March), I just finally bought a copy this week.  I’ve been waiting for this one.  I don’t remember much about this show, other than it was one of my favorites, and I laughed quite a lot when it was on.  I can’t wait to get it.

I’m hoping the studio doesn’t stall on the releases for the other seasons.  That tends to happen sometimes — they will release the first or second series, and then you won’t see anything for years.  Kind of a bummer, and kind of strange when you consider how well the shows did back in the day.  Growing Pains comes to mind.

The trend that I’ve been seeing recently though is that studios are releasing complete series boxes instead of individual series sets.  I’m sure it saves them a lot of hassle, shelf-space and packaging that way.  I’m not really sure how I feel about it.  I don’t have any complete series box sets myself, and I’m used to buying them one by one.  Oh well.  Whatever.

Here’s one I wanna write about just because I can: The Smurfs.

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My sister got me this one for my birthday this year, and I’m really excited.  This was, growing up, one of those shows that I just never got tired of.  I dunno why.  Yah.  No idea.  I’d been meaning to get one for a while, and I just started watching it the other weekend.  I was totally mesmerized and could not stop watching.  That very rarely happens.  So, looks like I’ll get to enjoy it all over again.  Good stuff.

Ah, hmm, there’s actually a lot more I could write about than I realized.  I think I’ll hold off for now, though.

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wordpress multiple/minus category feeds

Okay, figured out how to create feeds in WordPress 2.7 that will exclude a certain category.  I really wish this stuff were better documented.  As in, I shouldn’t have to read any docs or google for examples, but immediately wake up one day with this knowledge.

Anyway, here’s a case of my feed for all posts *minus* the new Religion one I’m starting to add stuff to: http://wonkabar.org/feed/?cat=-5

Also, if you want to do more than one, looks like they just need to be comma separated:

http://wonkabar.org/feed/?cat=-5,-1

Just drop the minus sign if you actually want to include them instead of exclude.  As for figuring out what the IDs of your categories are … well, have fun.  I just guessed.

to each his own

I thought of, perhaps, one way I can get my religious views across … instead of just focusing on doctrine and whot-not, just instead tell things how I tend to perceive and apply them in my life. That may work. Who knows.

I had a great comment on my last post from a self-proclaimed atheist, which basically noted that it’s possible to extract good principles from religious ones without attaching the supernatural to it. And I would totally agree.

I have long had a motto in life that demonstrates my tolerance for a lot of personal decisions people make in their lives — to each his own. Growing up, I like to look back on the fact that I’ve been able to both be friendly and make friends with people with whom I wildly disagree on moral issues. I respect their right to explore and choose what they think works best for them in their lives, just as I’ve done the same for myself. In doing so, I tend to not try to unload my own moral values on them unless they show any interest, and even then, I’ll only respond in equal scale. I’m not going to dump a library of books on someone’s head just because they ask one question, nor would I drag them to church and haunt them for the rest of their life just because they showed a small interest.

Okay, I totally forgot where I was going with all of this. More proof that writing this stuff is not going to be nearly as simple as I thought it was going to be. I did have one example that I wanted to share, so maybe I’ll just cut to that.

My main point was that people can extract a lot of good principles from religious living without necessarily subscribing to the whole. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not just encompass moral living as related directly to moral issues, but it also has instruction and guidelines on how we can live healthy good lives that will benefit all of mankind, personally and collectively, socially and individually. I can’t deny, though, that the best benefits to both person and world will only come from living the whole gospel instead of piece meal. To each his own, though. :)

A good example of practical, provident living that is taught by our church is the Word of Wisdom, which is a set of instructions related to diet. Anciently, the Jews were given dietary restrictions as well, and these were given both as guidelines for health and also to separate the Jewish nation culturally from others, as they would be mingled in with the rest of the world. Today’s revealed guidelines are much simpler in nature, but they are also tied to the religious belief that harmful substances not only damage the body, but the spirit as well.

I won’t go into a lengthy explanation of what the Word of Wisdom is, especially when Wikipedia has a decent entry on it. I will add this note though — that clarifications have been added to the law as it was originally given, and that that is also a part of our religion — ongoing revelation. The Lord has changed, altered, simplified or straightened His commandments in the past, so it stands to reason that He still can do so, and does. An example would be that we are not required to give animal sacrifices anymore. Thank goodness, too, I’m not sure I could stomach whacking any animals over the head.

This is the interesting thing about carnal commandments, though, is that there are benefits to living them and the Lord will bless us whether we regard the spiritual counterpart or not, or even believe in God for that matter. There is a law in heaven that says that God will bless us when we obey any of His commandments. Pretty cool stuff, actually.

Alright, that’s enough for me. If this post sounds too preachy, sorry about that … sure seems that way for me. As I said, I’m still trying to find the right medium to do this, so forgive me if it comes across a bit heavy-handed.

I figure I should throw in some personal experience to the mix here. Uh. Let’s see. I’ve never smoked or drank any alcohol, and I feel great. How’s that. I can’t even drink any carbonated soda though without hiccuping immediately afterwards, so I’m pretty sensitive to some stuff anyway. I can’t think of anything else. I sure hope these posts get better. My sister is much better at this than I am. :)

standardizing on booleans in mysql

Okay, so here’s a question I would normally pose to a mailing list, but since my email setups are so jacked up at the moment, there really isn’t a good way I could subscribe and ask one, so I’ll just post this to my blog instead and hope for some input.  Not that I don’t have anything against mailing lists, mind you, it’s just that I don’t like setting up an email account and subscribing when I post maybe three times a year, and lurk and read the rest of the time.

Anyway.  At work, I was looking at cleaning up one database table of a project I’m working on, and I noticed that we have three ways that we are storing boolean values in the table:

  • unsigned tinyint, which presumably would only be set to 0 or 1
  • char(1), which also should be set to 0 or 1
  • enum(‘y’,n’)

I, personally, always prefer the tinyint route.  Not really for a technical reason so much as a historical one … it’s just kind of the first one I picked.   What I would really like is if MySQL had a *real* boolean type field similar to postgresql, where the values can be TRUE, FALSE, ‘t’ or ‘f’.  It makes things so much easier.

MySQL will accept BOOL as a column type when creating a column, but it’s implementation is a bit jacked in my opinion.  It creates an unsigned tinyint column, with null attributes.  That just gives a huge range of possible options, and doesn’t really come that close to a binary option set at all.

mysql> create table test (steve bool);
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> desc test;
+——-+————+——+—–+———+——-+
| Field | Type       | Null | Key | Default | Extra |
+——-+————+——+—–+———+——-+
| steve | tinyint(1) | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
+——-+————+——+—–+———+——-+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

I did a bit of research, since enum seems now like the most reasonable option — it limits you to a strict sub set of options.  The only question I have is, how well would that index?  Would it be faster scanning the table for enums or integers?  That’s where I’m not sure.  It turns out that an enum that stores up to 255 values will only use 1 byte (assuming I’m intrepreting this MySQL reference book correctly).  A tiny integer uses the same size.  So it seems like they should both be pretty optimal, but I dunno.

Any thoughts?

religion in general

Our church’s General Conference was this weekend (a semi-annual worldwide broadcast where the leaders have five two-hour sessions of talks, once every Easter weekend, and once in October), and as usual, it’s gotten me thinking a bit.

One thing that keeps coming to mind is that I should blog a bit on religious topics.  I’ve always been extremely hesitant to do so for a variety of reasons.  For one, I hate being preached to when I’m not interested in input, and because of that, I tend to go out of my way not to preach to other people who may not want to hear what I have to say.  Add to that that I’m extremely tolerant of people’s lifestyles, regardless of what my moral compass tells me how I should live.  I’m just open and accepting, but also strictly guard my own personal values, and try not to impose them on others.  Still, I get the distinct impression that I should share some my opinions a bit more, so I’m going to do so, but I’ll tread carefully.

Part of the problem is that I have a hard time in social relationships distinguishing between what should be private and what should be public.  When it comes to spiritual matters, I consider it all succinctly private, and rarely tell anyone anything.  So, it’s going to be a bit hard for me trying to find that middle ground between what I should say and what I shouldn’t.  Even writing this post is a bit of a difficult task — I’m never too sure how much information to reveal.  Living the gospel and it’s effects are, in my opinion, a highly personal affair.

Another thing I worry about is that I certainly do not want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn.  A holier-than-thou attitude annoys me just as I’m sure it does anyone else, and I certainly don’t want to be going off telling people about what I’m doing, as I think it may appear as vanity.  I’m also not one for trying to point out where the world is wrong and needs to change.  I’m a firm believer in progress, but also practicality.  Life changes are gradual, and the only way to gauge how a person is doing is to do a self-examination and honestly ask how you’re doing, and to consult the Lord.

So, that pretty much covers everything I’ll avoid doing — blatant finger-pointing, yelling, criticizing, grandstanding and terrifying the masses … but I still don’t have a clue what I am gonna share.   Probably my opinion in mild form, some small personal examples, and my beliefs.

Yah.  I have no idea what’s gonna happen.  So, we’ll see.  I’ll try not to keep it too over the top or anything.

original xbox

Despite my April Fool’s post about getting an Xbox 360, I really did buy an original Xbox this weekend, and I’m still kind of trying to figure out why. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the more I think about it, having four consoles (PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox) hooked up to my TV just seems a bit much. The great thing, by the way, about this TV is I still have something like 3 inputs left to use.

I think this is what happened. I went to FYE the other day to look around for some older PS2 games. I always just buy them instead of renting them because, most of the time, it’s cheaper to buy them. It costs $8 to rent a game at Hollywood Video, and the one by my house has an extremely limited selection. FYE, on the other hand, has the biggest collection of games I’ve probably ever seen in one place, and they are all cheap. Anyway, I saw a Star Wars game that was an Xbox exclusive — Obi-Wan — and it looked cool. One game alone wouldn’t really push me over the edge of impulse …. well, actually, it would …. but I found some other ones too that just looked interesting enough. So, I bought a used Xbox for pretty cheap, got a few games, and headed home.

Now, this is the crazy part, is that I’ve owned, I think, an Xbox at least twice before, and given it away both times. And for the life of me, I can never remember why. I think one time I gave one up and then got my Game Cube, which was the first console I was actually really happy about. I don’t know what it was I didn’t like about it, so this time around, I’m going to document some of the reasons I’m thinking about ditching it already.

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For one, the games that are Xbox exclusives also seem to all be available for the PC as well. Tron 2.0 was one of the games I bought. I couldn’t resist — I saw TRON and a $5 sticker and just acted on instinct. It happens. I’ve already got that for the PC, and it’s a wildly fun game. I also picked up Thief: Deadly Shadows. I played that one today a bit on my lunch break, and while it’s also a lot of fun, I think I’d have much less problems managing using a mouse and keyboard. And I think that’s one of the problems I have with the Xbox — it seems like for most of the games I’ve encountered so far they all use both thumbsticks to navigate, something I am absolutely horrible at. I can’t begin to understand how someone can do any kind of an FPS on a console, when it seems like using a mouse gives you *so* much more control and ease and you can just snap around quicker and react faster. I dunno. I imagine, though, it’s just a matter of learned response. I don’t think I’m really willing to put in the time required, though.

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I noticed, too, that a lot of the other exclusive Xbox Star Wars titles are also available for Windows, and I own them all already: Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 (awesome games) and Republic Commando. I imagine they are all going to use the little thumbsticks to navigate as well, which just drives me mad. Ah, well.

It’s not all bad, though. I’m fairly impressed with the Xbox’s capabilities, and considering that this was the console going head-to-head with the PS2, it’s very nice, considering. This thing can output video in 480p, 720p and 1080i using component output. Plus, while it seems natural now, it actually came with a hard drive to store stuff on. I really hate the after market accessory purchases of buying memory sticks that are 8 or 16 megabytes just to actually save games. That seems so dumb to me.

While I was out and about, I also picked up a universal component cable for the Xbox and the PS2. All of the games so far for the Xbox support 480p, and I must admit, they look very nice. I don’t have any games for the PS2 that support it, but with component out on that one, it does look much, much better. I’ve never given component much thought until now.

Who knows what I’m gonna do with this thing. If I could find some games that worked just on that console, I’d probably be pretty happy. So far, Obi-Wan is fun, but it’s not the killer one I was hoping it’d be. I’m thinking about giving the whole thing away, but, considering my past, maybe it’s better to just put it in storage until some day I want to own one for a fourth time, but can’t remember why I gave it up. :)

tired of cable tv

More and more, I’m becoming less interested in a cable television feed at my house. I’ve told myself I’m going to cancel it a hundred times, but I never get around to it. Plus, I’m getting a decent deal with my Comcast package, and I have my bedroom Tivo hooked up, where I watch Seinfeld and whatever the Tivo recommends for me occassionally — usually stuff like Planet Earth or The Universe or some old Sherlock Holmes dramas.

What’s always interesting though is how I actually use cable. I pretty much use it the same way as my media library, in that I’ll switch my TV input over to the Tivo to watch a show that I know will be available on it that it records regularly. Or, and this is the main reason I like the Tivo, is for the suggestions. I know that nearly all the stuff it recommends for me and records automatically I’ll at least have a passing interest in, and if there’s nothing to watch, then there’ll be something to fall back on in there. But this is what I never ever do anymore — just channel surf.

The whole idea of just seeing what’s randomly showing on TV whenever I decide to sit down seems so archaic to me. I mean, it’s totally random. This really hit home to me this weekend. In my living room I have an HD Tivo which I hardly ever use. In fact, I haven’t even watched cable TV on it for so long, that I had unplugged the actual coaxial cable from the wall to my set so long ago, that I couldn’t even remember the last time it was plugged in. I only had to set it up because I wanted to watch the LDS General Conference (my sister’s blog has a good layman description, better than I could come up with of what it is).

Well, I plugged my cable back in late Friday night while I was waiting for my brother to arrive at the airport. I had some time to kill, so I just started flipping through the channels to see what I was missing. My HD Tivo has a Cable Card in there, so I can pick up all the encrypted channels and stuff, and my package gives me like 100 channels or so. I have no idea how many it really is. But I remembered another reason I wanted to get rid of cable — there is some really weird crap on. Granted, it was something like midnight on a Friday, so there couldn’t really be that much interesting stuff on, but still. The whole idea of just checking to see if there’s something interesting on *right now* just seems so dumb to me.

I’m sure I’ll eventually cancel cable and just watch stuff from my library … but the only thing holding me back is that every now and then, I do like the randomness of just finding something. But, that randomness is best served by interests I’ve already subscribed to, which the Tivo does really well. I kinda wish the cable industry would catch up with the rest of the way content is being served and delivered. I’m tired of things the way they are. Ah well, in a few years, I suppose.