An earth shattering kaboom

I’ve spent the last 24 hours without a computer (my PDA doesn’t count). On Friday evening I started my PC and after 30 seconds there was a loud pop, the screen went dark and smoke drifted up from underneath my desk. A few minutes and the sacrifice of a second 5 amp fuse later and I’d confirmed that I’d fried my power supply. I’ve just finished rebuilding the machine in a new case with a new PSU. Ah, sweet, sweet broadband. Last night I nearly watched Big Brother out of desparation but I was saved by a pile of unwatched DVDs at the last moment.

This is the voice of the Mysterons.We know that you can hear us Earthmen.

Gerry Anderson has completed the first 2 episodes of the long rumored Captain Scarlet CGI series and has released a trailer and short interview. It’s described as the best CG work ever done for TV but if you’ve seen the Dan Dare show on Five you’ll realise that’s not saying much. With Gerry in control (unlike the Thunderbirds movie) there’s a chance of this working but I haven’t quite managed to wipe Space Precinct from my memory. I want this too be good but every modern prequel, sequel and remake of a show or movie I liked as a kid has turned out to be a disappointment (my ‘issues’ with George Lucas have been posted here more than once).


Three little letters

If you were a gamer with money to burn in the late 90’s then the letters SLI will bring a fond tear to your eye. 3DFX decided that their Voodoo 2 graphics card wasn’t powerful enough (it was the fastest thing on the market at the time) and decided to find a way to strap two of them together and double the power. They called this SLI, Scan Line Interleave. Each card rendered alternate scan lines then glued it all back together for display. It was stupidly powerful and very expensive. Needless to say graphics geeks (sorry, enthusiasts) loved it. Unfortunately 3DFX became obsessed with brand and marketing, forgot about engineering, crumbled and their patents and some of ther engineers were finally swallowed by rival nVidia.

It seems that some of the engineering heart that beat within 3DFX survived the collapse and IP buy up and has sprung to life within nVidia as the three beautiful letters, SLI, are back. This time one card handles the top half of the screen and the other the bottom and SLI stands for Scalable Link Interface but the result is the same. Twice the power for twice the money. I really wish I wasn’t already considering upgrading my system. I should probably apologise to my savings account in advance. More factoids can be found here, here and here.

Bring me the head of George Lucas – Special Edition

A while ago I heard that THX 1138 might be appearing on DVD this year. It seemed that Lucas and American Zoetrope (Francis Ford Coppola’s studio) on one side and Warner (the original distributed) on the other had buried their differences and decided to release it. I guess this is because all rights were due to revert to Lucas and Zoetrope soon and they could put out the disk they’d always wanted and Warner would get no money.

The official site looked really promising. It offered a restored directors cut (Warner cut the release) with a 5.1 soundtrack, some new featurettes about the movie and a rare(ish) one that was made at the time of filming. The real cherry on top was ‘Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138:4EB’. George Lucas’ original student film. The thing that started his career in movies.

One thing seemed out of place. In the picture gallery there was a shot of the police robot factory that THX worked in that seemed wrong. It was way too big. I could have sworn that it was quite a small set.

Then I saw the trailer.

HE’S DONE IT AGAIN! He’s ‘Special Editioned’ THX 1138 and added new effects. I’m sure he’ll say that he’s just trying to realise his original vision for the movie (again) but this really turning into that episode of South Park.

Put the film down and step away George.

Bring me the head of George Lucas

As the DVD release of the original Star Wars trilogy draws closer some disturbing evidence of additional changes to the movies has emerged. I was resigned to the fact that it was going to be the ‘Special Editions’ rather than the original release but now it seems George has gone even further. If you go here and scroll down you’ll find an image from Return of the Jedi. This makes some of the tales of changes that I’d written off as fan-boy rumors seem very possible. Why can’t Lucas just leave it alone? The movies were fine the first time around.

Every where you go, always take your PC with you

Via Tom’s Hardware I’ve discovered the joy of Knoppix. It’s a Linux distribution that boots off a CD without touching your hard drives. A cd-rom drive and some memory is all it ever needs. Klaus Knopper (it’s creator) has really hit on a good idea here. All you need to do is download the CD image (.iso) and burn it on a disk. A capsule review follows:

The good

On my system it goes from boot to desktop in about 2 minutes including detecting hardware. It’s got web browsers, email clients, office software (office xp compatible), media players, a CD-ROM burner and a bunch of other stuff I’ve haven’t explored yet. You can make custom Knoppix builds with the apps and drivers you want.

The bad

Configuring my Alcatel Speedtouch (the most common ASDL modem in the UK) is a real ball-ache but eventually it will work. It doesn’t detect the mouse in my shiny new MS wireless desktop (in defense it’s brand new gear and my old USB mouse and the new wireless keyboard do work from boot).

The ugly

There is no ugly . Ok, the ASDL modem thing is a drag and the current version can’t write to NTFS volumes but it reads them without problems.

End game

It does what it says on the tin. This is an OS that will boot from a CD on a box without a working system disk and give a you a good GUI afterwards. Even if you’re not into Linux you have to admit that this makes it a damn powerful (and cheap) data recovery tool. The customisation possibilities mean you can build your own virtual PC on a CD that will boot on any relatively modern hardware.

Geek Heaven

As Spinneyhead’s resident alpha geek and uber fan-boy it’s my duty to announce that KEVIN SMITH WILL WRITE AND DIRECT THE ‘GREEN HORNET’ MOVIE. Production starts this year for release in August ’05. I think we can officially declare this to be the geek movie of 2005 (displacing Star Wars EPIII from that position). Kevin’s own take on the movie deal can be found here.

XXXbox (again)

Not content with having porn links in games Microsoft have gone one step further and produced a special edition that ships with a sex toy. It comes with a dakimakura (hugging pillow) of one of the characters in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Essentially it’s a pillow with a life size picture of an anime character aimed at the “obsessed fan” market. I assume it’s either washable or stain resistant.

In other news Microshaft have decided to increase the price of Xbox Live subscriptions by 50%.

Geek news

To save the rest of you some time I present the latest geek headlines:

Star Wars DVD’s will be a 4 disk box set released on Sept 21st. It will almost certainly be the ’97 Special Editions plus a making of disk but unconfirmed rumors of additional changes continue.

Sci-Fi Channel has ordered a 13 episode follow up to the Galactica mini-series. Some of the surviving cast from the original 1978/9 series will be approached for guest roles.

Trip and T’Pol will get it on in Enterprise (season 3 episode 15)