Web

 
 

 
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You guys, it’s been swell…

Web

…but all good things must come to an end. This blog has now been locked, meaning that no new content will be added to it, and no new comments will be posted. I’ll maintain the whole thing for archival purposes, of course.

From now on, please point your browsers to http://www.landofwhimsy.com to get your daily dose of whimsy. You’ll find the brand new blog there, along with a brand new design and a handful of brand new features. Enjoy!

 
Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:59 PM
Categories: Web
 

No school like the old school

Games

Every summer, Blizzard Entertainment holds a convention for fans of its games in Anaheim, California, known as BlizzCon (see what they did there?). The tickets have a habit of selling like hotcakes, so much so that they are being made available in “waves” to prevent the whole lot from disappearing in one fell swoop. Those attempting to purchase tickets during these waves have been given the chance to play a decidedly crude but incredibly addictive web browser game entitled Failoc-alypse, in which your goal is to take command of one of three characters from Blizzard’s gaming universes and preventing as many imps as possible from getting to BlizzCon.

Those who aren’t attempting to purchase tickets can play the game too by following this link. It’s certainly an enjoyable stress reliever and one that succeeds in evoking much of the feel of the sort of games Blizzard used to make for console in the early 1990s.

 
Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 9:18 PM
Categories: Games | Web
 

You’re on borrowed time…

Web

A quick word of warning: on Sunday night, I’ll be disabling comments on this blog and permanently deactivating the database. All the pages will be maintained online for archival purposes, including any comments that have already been made, but they’ll effectively be locked. As a result, any discussion from Monday June 1st onwards will need to take place on the new site.

This may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but it should actually turn out to be simpler in the long run, as it means I won’t have to go to the bother of maintaining two separate databases. I did toy with the idea of simply shifting my news posts from the past three years or so over to the new design en masse, but due to my lack of foresight, quite a lot of the design elements are hard-coded into the posts themselves, and the markup wouldn’t translate seamlessly. The new design is significantly more robust from a forward planning standpoint, however, so hopefully this upheaval won’t be necessary for future redesigns.

 
Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009 at 6:22 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Web
 

The countdown continues

Web

As far as new site design goes, the whole thing is basically content-complete as of writing, meaning that all that’s left to do is finish streamlining the style sheet and track down any remaining bugs/inconsistences/dead URLs.

I’ve converted the handful of DVD reviews I wrote for Land of Whimsy (rather than DVD Times) over to the new layout (for example, see the new-look Amélie), as well as the three academic essays I’ve published on the site, but other written material, such as my cartoon reviews and DVD image comparison, still retain the design for Land of Whimsy v1 or, in many cases, Whiggles.com v9. Especially with the comparisons, there’s simply too much material to go through again. In any event, much of it no longer meets my standards as far as technical commentary goes, so it strikes me that it’s better to archive the content and revisit pertinent titles as and when I’m able.

When the new site goes live on Monday, I’ll post a complete breakdown of the changes that have been made, although you’ll probably find that most of them are purely cosmetic.

Update, May 29th, 2009 06:06 PM: Thanks to a last-minute brainwave, I’ve managed to cut the site’s load time by half and stop it from being such a CPU hog. The reason? Let’s just say that the previous (incredibly inefficient) design required a “bgbody.jpg” background image with dimensions of 956x15,000 pixels (!!). I suddenly realised how obviously this could be fixed, and the result is that the image is now a mere 940x1 pixels in dimensions, and is a fraction of the file size to boot. Who says good things don’t come in small packages?

 
Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009 at 1:21 PM | Comments: 1 (view)
Categories: Web
 

Making life easier

Web

Often, I have a deep fear of upgrading software, whether it be my operating system or the publishing platform I use to maintain my web site. From bitter experience, I’ve learned that, if there’s a way of something going wrong, it will. In the case of Movable Type, I’ve had to relearn a lot of what I thought I knew about the platform in the process of switching versions from 3.x to 4.x as I design my new site. (The hours I put in yesterday trying to get the comments function to work would be a case in point.) Today, however, I finally got to try out one of the main reasons I decided to switch to the new edition: custom fields.

Arvind Satyanarayan originally created the Custom Fields plugin for version 3.x of Movable Type, which was then acquired by developer SixApart and fully integrated into the professional edition of Movable Type 4.x. By default, Movable Type only has a limited number of available fields for each post - e.g. title, date, entry body, extended entry, post time. These are generally sufficient if you just want to blog about your pet cat, but if like me you’re doing something slightly different, such as maintaining a DVD database, this sort of thing is woefully inadequate. In the current iteration of the site, each DVD entry essentially consists of an entry body field which contains a massive block of text and code, providing both the data itself and the layout:

<table width=”100%” border=”0” cellspacing=”0” cellpadding=”0” align=”center”> <tr> <td valign=”top”> <h2 class=”heading”>831</h2> <h3 class=”post-title”>Australia <br> <span class=”subhead”>Blu-ray <br> <img src=”http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/images/star_1.gif” alt=”*” width=”23” height=”22”><img src=”http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/images/star_1.gif” alt=”*” width=”23” height=”22”><img src=”http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/images/star_1.gif” alt=”*” width=”23” height=”22”><img src=”http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/images/star_1.gif” alt=”*” width=”23” height=”22”><img src=”http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/images/star_0.gif” alt=”0” width=”23” height=”22”> </span> </h3> <p>Review: <a href=”http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content/id/70644/australia.html”>DVD Times</a></p> <p><em>Region:</em> B (UK) <br> <em>Director:</em> Baz Luhrmann <br> <em>Label:</em> 20th Century Fox</p> <p class=”small”><em>Added Wednesday April 29th, 2009</em></p> </td> <td width=”10”><p>&nbsp;</p></td> <td width=”120” valign=”top”> <a href=”http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content/id/70644/australia.html”><img src=”http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/images/bd-australia.jpg” alt=”BD” width=”116” height=”149” class=”left”></a> </td> </tr> </table>

That code is just for a single entry (the BD of Australia), which really amount to very little on screen at the end of the day. Now, imagine that code duplicated around 830 times for my entire collection. That’s just not efficient. Worse, though, it makes updating the collection to reflect a new site design an incredibly time-consuming process, because so much of the layout is hard-coded into each entry.

This is where the joy of Custom Fields comes in. Now, instead of coding the layout for each individual entry, I can simply create a master layout, give Movable Type the code telling it where to put the data for each field (corresponding to things like region code, director, cover art, rating out of 10, review link where applicable, and so on), and enter the data into the Movable Type database. Here’s the master layout code:

<mt:Entries> <div class=”blockcontainer”> <div class=”leftblock”> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataDvdcover”><img src=”http://www.landofwhimsy.com/images/dvd-<mt:EntryDataDvdcover>.jpg” alt=”DVD” width=”116” height=”165” class=”collection” /></mt:If> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataBdcover”><img src=”http://www.landofwhimsy.com/images/bd-<mt:EntryDataBdcover>.jpg” alt=”BD” width=”116” height=”149” class=”collection” /></mt:If> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataHddvdcover”><img src=”http://www.landofwhimsy.com/images/hd-<mt:EntryDataHddvdcover>.jpg” alt=”HD DVD” width=”116” height=”149” class=”collection” /></mt:If> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataCustomcover”><mt:EntryDataCustomcover></mt:If> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataRating”><br /> <img src=”http://www.landofwhimsy.com/images/stars<mt:EntryDataRating>.gif” width=”118” height=”36” alt=”” /></mt:If> </div> <div class=”rightblock”> <h4 class=”dvdtitle”><span class=”number”>#<mt:EntryDataNumber>.</span> <$mt:EntryTitle$> <img src=”http://www.landofwhimsy.com/images/format-<mt:EntryDataFormat>.gif” alt=”Format” width=”29” height=”8” /><span class=”dvddata”><br /><mt:EntryDataEdition></span></h4> <p><strong>Region:</strong> <mt:EntryDataRegion><br /><strong>Directed by:</strong> <mt:EntryDataDirector><br /><strong>Label:</strong> <mt:EntryDataLabel></p> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataContents”><mt:EntryDataContents></mt:If> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataAlttitle”><p class=”small”><strong>Original title:</strong> <mt:EntryDataAlttitle></p></mt:If> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataReviewlink”><p class=”small”>Read the review at <a href=”<mt:EntryDataReviewlink>”><mt:EntryDataReviewsite></a></p></mt:If> <mt:If tag=”EntryDataAdded”><p class=”small”><em>(Added <mt:EntryDataAdded>)</em></p></mt:If> </div> </div> </mt:Entries>

That’s it. Don’t worry about trying to understand the code above - the point is I entered that once and now simply add the required information into the database for each entry. “<mt:EntryDataDirector>”, for instance, tells Movable Type that I want to display the director associated with this entry, so it calls up that information from the database and places it automatically:

Custom fields

Hardly rocket science, but it’s streets ahead from what I was doing before. Of course, I do have to re-enter all my data, but that’s far more straightforward when you’re just copying text into the correct fields and letting the database worry about where to put it all. You can see the new system in action here (at the time of writing, I’ve entered the first 80 discs in my collection).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some serious button-mashing to do. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Hollywood’s finest thespian, Lindsay Lohan, to tide you over:

Lindsay Lohan

 
Posted: Monday, May 25, 2009 at 6:15 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: DVD | Technology | Web
 

They just don’t make things easy, do they?

Web

Current status of the new site is: after several hours of fiddling with the Movable Type code, I finally have the news system and all its main sub-pages (individual entries, archives, search results…) working properly with my layout. I switched from XHTML 1.0 Strict to XHTML 1.0 Transitional due to the severe headache that was getting Movable Type’s comment entry and search forms to validate properly. Sometimes there’s only so much bashing my head against a brick wall I can put up with.

The upside of this is that I now have a definite date for the switch-over from the old site to the new: Monday, June 1st. I decided I wanted to make the break at the start of a new month in order to provide a clear delineation between the old and the new as far as archiving was concerned, and also because this will provide me with around a week to (a) make sure any remaining kinks are ironed out and (b) get working on converting the other sections of the site to the new design. I imagine this process will be fairly straightforward, though, as most of the ground work was done on the News section. (And, luckily, I don’t have to wrangle with comments on any of the other pages.)

See you in the funny pages!

 
Posted: Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 6:25 PM
Categories: Technology | Web
 

Testing, testing…

Web

A test version of the main page for my new layout is now available at http://www.landofwhimsy.com/indextest.html. At the moment, the Movable Type code has been implemented for the main page, while the rest of the pages (individual entries, monthly archives, etc.) still have the default Movable Type template and style sheet. In theory, though, it should be fully functional as a blog, and you’re welcome to peruse it, and try posting a comment or two if you like. You’ll probably find that a lot of the links don’t work yet, of course. (And the meaning of the “more posts” section at the bottom of the page will become clear once there are a few more entries.) And, as always, feel free to tell me what you like and don’t like about it. I’m particularly eager to hear about any browser incompatibilities.

I’ve decided not to go with a calendar-based archive, by the way - not because of any difficulty in implementing it, but because I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a fairly pointless endeavour for a site like mine, which often has more than one entry posted to it in a single day, and operates around individual and monthly rather than daily archives.

Oh, and a quick word on fonts. I’ve selected Arial as the “main” font (with Helvetica as a fallback for those who don’t have it), and Garamond for post titles and the first paragraph of each entry. Most of the headings default to Calibri, which is currently my favourite sans serif font. Unfortunately, Calibri is only distributed with Windows Vista, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac and the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack, so I’d imagine a lot of people won’t have it. In that case, the style sheet will fall back to Arial, then Helvetica.

 
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2009 at 7:24 PM | Comments: 5 (view)
Categories: Technology | Web
 

When technology tries to be clever

Web

Installed Movable Type 4 last night. The process went without a hitch, though the cheeky bugger did see fit to locate and transfer (without my say-so) all my posts from the current designer over to the new database. As a result, my old Movable Type 3 control panel isn’t working quite the way it should - for instance, it now tells me I have no blogs, although I can still navigate to them using the correct URLs. I would simply use the MT4 control panel, but due to plugin and code incompatibilities between the two versions, that won’t be possible without a lot of retooling… which I won’t be doing given that I’ll be switching to a fresh blog before too long. I don’t think this should cause any problems at the user end, but if you see any weirdness, you’ll know why.

When the new layout goes live, I’ll probably disable the comments function for the old database, in order to avoid the hassle of having to continually delete spam, approve and respond to comments in two different blogs. I’ll provide a “grace” period, though, to give people the chance to respond to any posts they want to on the old site. Alternatively, I might duplicate the last week or so of posts on the new site. We’ll see. At any rate, this is probably all still some way off.

 
Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 10:37 PM
Categories: Technology | Web
 

Behind the velvet curtain

Web

Shh! Here’s a sneak preview of the next iteration of this web site. Bear in mind that this is very much a work in progress. In other words, the whole thing could have changed by the time it goes live. Conversely, it could stay much the same as looks here. I’m pretty happy with how it looks at this moment in time, but, when it comes to things I’ve designed or written, I’m notorious for changing my mind at the drop of a hat and suddenly finding myself hating what I was previously satisfied with.

Any feedback is more than welcome.

Version 2 sneak peek

(Click the image above to view it full size.)

By the way, today’s little doozy, which took a good couple of hours to troubleshoot, was what is known as the 1px background image shift. Basically, it affects sites that use a centred background image in conjunction with a fixed width. Because browser’s can’t calculate half pixels, elements will shift around on the page ever so slightly depending on whether your browser’s window has an odd or even pixel width. This causes things to look a little wonky… at least in Firefox and Safari; Internet Explorer 8, surprisingly, didn’t have any problems displaying it properly. The problem is fairly widespread - not even the President of the United States is immune (try resizing your browser window on the fly and watch the left hand side of the “Organizing for Health Care” banner).

Luckily, there is a partial solution (scroll down to reply #3):

To prevent this 1 pixel shift in Firefox I added margin-left: -.1px to the content div (thats a negative 0.1 px). This fixed the shift in Firefox 2 and 3 while still working for IE7. Of course this is not ideal, but it works.

This did not fix the problem for Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). I minimized it by color choice in my centered background image.

I implemented it, and it does indeed fix the problem in Firefox. The issue still persists in Safari, but let’s face it, the only people browsing in Safari are Mac users and PC users who wish they were Mac users… Just kidding, guys. Seriously, I’d like to make the site as compatible as possible with all browsers, so if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

 
Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 10:43 PM | Comments: 6 (view)
Categories: Technology | Web
 

A change is gonna come

Web

Over the last week or so, in between preparing for the Postgraduate Symposium on Thursday (20-minute presentation from yours truly - eep!), I’ve been going some work on what will ultimately be the next iteration of this site. For the purpose of streamlining, I’ve decided to make a few significant changes to its structure and code.

First of all, I’ve decided to wholeheartedly embrace Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) after using them to a somewhat limited degree in previous designs. Since the very first version of this site was launched, way back in 2001, I’ve been using tables to lay out my pages, which I’m told is just sooo passé. More importantly, it also results in a lot of bloated code. I’m now going to be using CSS to control the layout, which has proven to be an absolute bitch to get to grips with. I now finally have a working shell of the front page, which isn’t much to look at right now but is at least something. However, it’s been a case of trial and error every step of the way, and I’m still not convinced I fully understand how I finally managed to get it to work the way I wanted. (Conversely, I’ve always found tables very easy to work with, even when it came to nesting tables inside tables nested in tables. Well, it all makes much more sense to me than floats and divs and negative margins and hidden overflows and…) Still, I got there eventually and the code is undeniably cleaner than in the current iteration.

The second big change in store is that I’m going to be dropping the “whiggles” subdomain and storing everything on landofwhimsy.com proper. I barely use the “whiggles” pseudonym at all nowadays (in case anyone’s wondering, it was the first thing that popped into my head when naming my first ever Diablo character back in 1997, and it just sort of stuck), and I’d quite like to be able to finally rid myself of the whiggles.com domain that costs me £23 every year and is really just a redirect to whiggles.landofwhimsy.com. This change will, unfortunately, necessitate rather a lot of upheaval, given how many URLs, both on this site and on other people’s, point to the whiggles.landofwhimsy.com subdomain. This is why I’m going to maintain what currently exists as an archive but start afresh for all subsequent content with a new install of the Movable Type publishing platform on the main landofwhimsy.com.

I’m currently weighing up whether to take the opportunity to upgrade to Movable Type 4.x. Movable Type 3.x has served me well, but it’s a bit long in the tooth now and is unsupported by a lot of the cool new plugins that I’m itching to try out. The only thing holding me back is the terrible time my brother had with MT4, even prompting him to temporarily ditch it in favour of WordPress… That said, I wonder to what extent his problems stemmed from performing an upgrade from MT3 rather than a fresh install, which is what I’ll be doing. In any event, it can’t hurt to give it a shot. The worst thing that can happen is that, if it proves to be more trouble than it’s worth, I delete it and install a new copy of MT3 instead.

Something else I’d like to attempt is to have a single blog which serves as a “hub” of sorts for the entirety of the site’s content. Currently, I’m running the main news blog (the first thing you see every time you come to this site), and then five additional blogs for each different main section of the site: DVDs, movies, reviews, image comparisons and miscellaneous pages. This is hardly the most efficient way to do things, but I’ve stuck with it until now mainly due to my own stubbornness when it comes to breaking away from the structure I created for the site way back before I used a publishing platform. In what I envision as the new structure for the site, most (if not all) content will basically be part of the new blog - everything from “significant” articles that would currently go in the Essays section (which I’ve just realised is still formatted for the previous site design - crikey!) to image comparisons. Such is the joy of the “MTEntryIfExtended” and “$MTEntryMore$” tags, which allow me to effectively have a brief summary of each essay/comparison/whatever on the main page, followed by a link to the extended entry, which will provide the full article. I actually planned to do something like this with the previous redesign, but ended up chickening out due to the amount of upheaval that would ensue. Now, however, there’s going to be so much upheaval anyway that I might as well go the whole hog.

Other miscellaneous changes that I’d like to implement include streamlining the number of categories for the news section (or alternatively switching to tags instead, comme ça), and implementing a calendar like the one on this site. It all depends how worthwhile this sort of stuff proves to be at the testing stage, and how easy to implement. There’s no current ETA for the new version of the site going live, given that I’m very much sailing in uncharted waters at the moment, and have only just got started. Still, this should provide me with an interesting little project to engage with in the next few weeks or months, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on its status.

Incidentally, as Movable Type-powered sites go, Barack Obama’s is by far the best-looking I’ve come across.

 
Posted: Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:57 AM | Comments: 9 (view)
Categories: Technology | Web
 

Just arrived…

Blu-ray

Weeds: Season Two (BD, Lions Gate, Region ABC, USA)

Blu-ray

Weeds: Season Three (BD, Lions Gate, Region ABC, USA)

Blu-ray

Paris, je t’aime (BD, First Look, Region A, USA)

The above three were part of Amazon’s recent “three Blu-ray Discs for the price of two” deal.

And…

DVD

L’important c’est d’aimer: Special Edition (DVD, Mondo Vision, Region 0, USA) [sample copy]

 
Posted: Thursday, May 07, 2009 at 8:47 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | DVD | Mondo Vision | TV | Web
 

Bits and bobs

Technology

Apologies once again for the sporadic nature of the updates to this site. I’ve been a little pre-occupied wrangling with my computer. No major calamities, but I’ve been fairly busy with it of late. I decided to reinstall Windows over the weekend and made the leap to the 64-bit version of Vista so I could access all four gigabytes of my RAM (32-bit versions can only access up to 3.5 GB). So far I can’t say I’ve noticed the system running either faster or slower in comparison with my previous 32-bit install, but I certainly haven’t run into any problems as a result of this change.

 
Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 10:08 PM
Categories: Technology | Web
 

Just arrived…

DVD

The Red Riding Trilogy (DVD, Optimum, Region 2, UK)

I missed this trilogy of made-for-TV films when they aired on Channel 4 last month, but decided to pick up the DVD after reading an excellent review of it written by my fellow DVD Times reviewer, Mike Sutton.

 
Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 6:13 PM
Categories: DVD | Reviews | TV | Web
 

Coming soon to a DVD player near you

Mondo Vision

Yeah, I know, it’s been a while coming, but a release date has finally been announced for Mondo Vision’s second DVD title, Andrzej Zulawksi’s L’important c’est d’aimer. Both the Special Edition Digipak and Premium Signature Edition box set (limited to 2,000 copies) are due out on June 16th and are available now to pre-order from Amazon.

Also in the pipeline are L’amour braque and, as per pro-bassoonist at the DVD Talk forum, even more Zulawski treats:

  • Trzecia Czesc Nocy (The Third Part Of The Night), 1971
  • Diabel (The Devil), 1972
  • Na Srebrnym Globie (The Silver Globe), 1977/1987
  • Possession, 1981
  • La Note Bleue (The Blue Note), 1992
  • Szamanka (Shaman Woman), 1996

No release dates have been confirmed for any of these yet, but I’d imagine many people will be very pleased to hear that Possession is finally being re-released, Anchor Bay’s considerably less than stellar-looking edition having been out of print for some time.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 8:01 PM | Comments: 11 (view)
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Mondo Vision | Web
 

Just arrived…

Blu-ray

Final Destination (BD, New Line/Warner, Region ABC, USA)

Blu-ray

Let the Right One In (BD, Magnolia, Region ABC, USA)

DVD

Inspector Morse: The Complete Case Files (DVD, ITV, Region 2, UK)

The latter was something of an impulse buy, although one that I feel is somewhat justified by the fact that I’ve been wanting to pick up the Inspector Morse episodes for some time and happened to come across them by chance on Amazon.co.uk at a very impressive discount. I paid just under £55 for all 33 episodes - a bargain when you consider that the RRP is 200 smackers.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 7:52 PM | Comments: 13 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | DVD | TV | Web
 

EA “dumps DRM” for The Sims 3

DRM

Once again it seems that I’m reporting on a story only once it’s become old hat, but in case you missed the article, Electronic Arts, the champion of draconian digital rights management, have announced that it will not be enforcing mandatory online activation and limited installations for its upcoming juggernaut, The Sims 3.

It may not sound like much, but in my opinion this is huge. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve seen the back of over-intrusive DRM on EA products for good, but I take the fact that the company is omitting it from what will surely be their biggest PC release of the year as a tacit admission that such anti-consumer strategies don’t work. The DRM-infected Spore did, after all, notoriously become the most pirated game of all time, with cracked copies appearing on torrent sites before it had even hit store shelves, and the overall effect was simply to infuriate customers, leading to online smear campaigns, 1-star rating tag-teaming on Amazon and organised boycotts of EA products. So, if you contributed to any of these activities, wrote EA an angry letter or email, or did anything to publicly voice your displeasure at their noxious behaviour, give yourself a pat on the back, because this is a significant victory, and you made it possible.

Note: the image above was created by Alfredo Daniel Rezinovsky and is available under a Creative Commons BY-SA 2.5 Argentina License.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 7:55 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: DRM | Games | Technology | Web
 

Dollhouse on the chopping block?

Dollhouse

It seems that Monday’s post about the rosy future facing Dollhouse may have been a little premature. Reports are now circulating suggesting that Fox have opted to only air the first twelve episodes, omitting the season finale, which in turn has led many to speculate that this means the network decided to not renew the show beyond its first season. There has been no official cancellation notice as of yet, but dropping a season’s all-important finale is never a good sign.

In the meantime, the specifications and release date for the upcoming BD release have been confirmed. Containing all 13 episodes and the unaired pilot, in addition to a variety of bonus features, the 3-disc set will hit store shelves on July 28th. As one Blu-ray.com commenter pointed out, the fact that the package is being released as “Season One” rather than “The Complete Series” (or something similar) can potentially be interpreted as a hopeful sign, but to be brutally honest this could easily be a case of one department not talking to the other. Either way, I’m sure we’ll know soon enough what the show’s future holds, if anything.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 7:46 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | TV | Web
 

DVD Trash Roundtable #1

Web

I recently participated in DVD Trash’s first roundtable of 2009 - hopefully the first of many. The question poses was:

When your alone, what is your Wintry Friday Night Evening Wrapped in a Blanket Horror Movie? Basically the genre movie you curl up on the couch with!

You can find my answer, along with those of several other genre fans, here.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 09, 2009 at 7:39 PM | Comments: 3 (view)
Categories: Cinema | Web
 

The early bird catches the worm

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

It seems I’m a little late to the party with this news, but I recently discovered that Disney’s upcoming Blu-ray Disc Platinum Edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be arriving on store shelves a full seven weeks ahead of its DVD counterpart.

This to me is very pleasing news and is the sort of thing I hope to see more and more of in the future. Before anyone accuses me of being mean in denying those still restricted to standard definition DVD the right to experience this classic, let me just say that I’m not. The BD release of Snow White also includes a DVD copy of the film, as was the case with the recent BD releases of Bolt (itself released 48 hours ahead of the standalone DVD version) and Pinocchio, among others. My reasoning behind this is that, by adopting this strategy, Disney is ultimately encouraging (whether intentionally or not) those who have yet to adopt BD to pick up a future-proof package, making the eventual path to BD that bit more painless for them. (“Gee, honey, why not get a BD player? We’ve already got this collection of discs just waiting to be played in it.”)

What I’d ultimately like to see is the abolition of stand-alone DVD releases altogether, in favour of these BD/DVD combos. I’m not sure how feasible this is at the moment, but I suspect it will become more so as BD replication and licensing costs decrease. It seems fairly clear that the general public will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into high definition. I suspect that BD is long past the point of being considered a failure, so its survival in the immediate future is not in any jeopardy. Simply surviving, however, is not enough.

My ultimate dream is to be able to obtain a BD copy of any film of my choosing, and that won’t happen until the format at least achieves parity with DVD. At the moment, it’s simply not worth the time and money for smaller labels to release their niche collections on BD, because not enough people will buy them for them to even begin to recoup the costs. I don’t blame them. If you’re struggling to make a profit when you release a title on DVD, the last thing you want to do is pay the astronomical licensing fees to author, press and distribute a BD version that even fewer people will buy.

Therefore, it’s up to the majors - the ones who can afford it - to lead the way by helping to increase market saturation, and personally I think that these combo releases are theoretically an excellent means of doing that. It can only work, though, if sufficient incentive is given for the average (wo)man on the street to buy the BD/DVD combo rather than the standalone DVD. Until the day comes that standalone DVD releases disappear altogether, “BD first” strategies like the one being demonstrated by Snow White seem like the best solution.

Source: Blu-ray.com

 
Posted: Monday, April 06, 2009 at 11:50 PM | Comments: 7 (view)
Categories: Animation | Blu-ray | Cinema | DVD | Technology | Web
 

April fools!

Web

This year’s April Fools’ Day surprise for you is that there is no April Fools’ Day surprise.

This came about as a result of two problems. The first is that I’ve been inordinately busy and simply haven’t had the time to invest the time and effort required to make a half-decent parody - something worthy of being added to the Fake Whimsy roster. The second is that much of Scotland suffered a power cut yesterday afternoon and, when the electricity finally came back on again, my Internet access had gone kablooey. I’m not sure quite what happened, but it took over twenty-four hours for Virgin Media to restore access. Given that, by its very nature, a parody page requires you to be able to actually access the sites your attempting to mock, you could say I was up Shit Creek without a paddle.

If I get time later on, I might spring a surprise Fake Whimsy page on you, but I thought I should let you know in advance that there won’t be any fun and games tomorrow, just in case you were waiting on tenterhooks to see what I’d come up with. (In which case, there may very well be something wrong with you.)

 
Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 8:28 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: General | Web
 
 

 
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