Your Daily Phil

Archive for March, 2007

Planet Earth – Mountains

Posted by lozenp on March 27, 2007

Watched part two last night of the Discovery HD Theater/BBC show Planet Earth. This show was “Mountains”. There were certainly some extremely cool scenes, including a snow leopard on the hunt on the side of a mountain. I was a bit underwhelmed by the video quality of this episode in some instances, however, I believe it was because most of the footage was shot from a helicopter at extreme zoom. With that in mind, it was understandable that some of the images were a bit soft at times.

That’s not to say that it was all soft. The shots of the Himalayas were amazing, as were the shots of animals that inhabit those mountains. It’s amazing how in nature all the animals work and live together. Snow leopards start a chase, and Golden Eagles count on some of those chases to end without a kill in order for them to finish off a tired and injured prey.

Anyhow, Ocean Deep is tonight (assuming I don’t fall asleep), I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Posted in HDTV, TV | Leave a Comment »

Discovery Channel Planet Earth

Posted by lozenp on March 26, 2007

Last night the Discovery Channel kicked off an 11-part special called Planet Earth. It was produced with the BBC, and it was created to show off your HDTV. Those of you who don’t have an HDTV (what are you waiting for???) don’t worry, you can still see it, and it’s still sure to wow you.

But for those of you with a high-def set, wow. By now you should know that Discovery HD Theater was made to show off your fancy, big-screen set. They have very cool shows, and their content almost always looks better than other HD content.

This show is on a new level, though. It was shot over five years, all with high-def cameras, some that were developed specifically for this show. There were three episodes on last night, and they repeat throughout the week. I caught the firts one, called “From pole to pole”.

As with most nature shows, there’s some things you can expect. Cute baby animals, exciting chases between hunter and pray, and nature in action. What sets this show apart are the little things. The sound is really good. You’ll enjoy it even more if you have a surround setup. The sand-storm in “Pole” is especially cool.

The images are amazing. In the first episode you see a shark attack on a seal (note: nature is not G-rated so keep this in mind with the kiddies) that in real time takes about a second. They use a camera that is able to slow that down to 37 seconds, all in HD glory. It’s amazing. When they get to the rain forest, you’ll see creatures that you swear are made up. Have you ever seen elephants swim before. From an uderwater camera? In HD? I have now. I didn’t even know they could swim.

Upcoming episodes include a scene filmed at night, in complete darkness, of a pride of lions attacking an elephant. I can only imagine the vistas we’ll be treated to in the “Mountains” episode.

So, check it out, let me know what you think. The first three episodes are on again at 3, 4, and 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. , 12 and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The next three then follow Sunday night starting at 8 p.m. Get those DVRs ready.

Discovery Channel :: Planet Earth :: Portrait of the Planet

Posted in HDTV, TV | 1 Comment »

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Posted by lozenp on March 15, 2007

I love NCAA Tournament time. It was so hard being at work today with the first round games starting, on top of that I was slammed at work so I couldn’t even follow scores closely.

However, once I got home, it was hoops all night (save for a little Xbox). Got to see MSU hand it to Marquette pretty good, VCU beating Duke (something good about Duke losing, why is that?), and got off to a pretty good start in my two pools. Better than last year when I had already thrown out my sheets by the end of the first night of games.

Anyhow, the Free Press asked a good question the other day: Is March the best time for Sports? NCAA Tourney, NHL and NBA setting up playoffs, MLB opening day. What do you think?

I’m not sure it competes with September when both NCAA and pro football start up, but it’s darn close. These first four days of games were like an additional holiday in college, class attendance was definitely something that was optional.

It was a bit odd around the Lozen house tonight, as Amy is in Grand Rapids with Jack so I didn’t get to see him tonight. Not until Saturday. The little guy is missing his first NCAA Tourney with his dad. We’ll have to make up that lost time with Saturday and Sunday’s games.

One final note: Comcast stinks. For the second year in a row, my nice, big 50-inch HDTV was rendered absolutely ordinary because Comcast couldn’t figure out how to get the CBS HD feed working until the 9 p.m. games, meaning I had to watch MSU in SD. My brother got to see the game in all its HD glory in Lansing (including Ibok’s elbow dislocation, ewwww). I was further frustrated when I called Comcast and spent 15 minutes on hold and with a person who I’m pretty sure didn’t even know what HD was, let alone why I wasn’t getting it. Grrrr.

Posted in Hoops, MSU | 3 Comments »

God’s big board, and how we mess it up

Posted by lozenp on March 4, 2007

Part of Jesse’s sermon today had to do with a recent episode of Super Nanny. On the show, Super Nanny was called to the house of a child with ADHD. The mother was at her wits end trying to deal with the child, and it was affecting her attitude toward the child. Super Nanny had the mom write on a board all the things that were good about the child.

Jesse described the mom writing things like “kind, gentle, selfless” on this board, and as she wrote, how you could see her melt with love for her child.

Jesse’s point was how God keeps a big board like that for all of us. How amazing is that? This got me thinking, however, about God keeping a board of our faults as well, our sins. I’m not sure the theology about it, but I would think somewhere God knows our sins, and these sins sadden him. The most amazing thing is, through Jesus and relationship with God, through confessing our sins and seeking God’s forgiveness, that board filled with our sins is continually wiped clean.

Wouldn’t it be great if, as humans, we could do the same thing? Imagine never holding grudges. Imagine being able to forgive someone and truly have forgiven them, fully and completely. Imagine not bringing up old arguments in new confrontations with people. I know that’s something I struggle with, and something I hope relationship with God can help me learn to do.

Posted in God | 1 Comment »

A follow up to the RIAA, Fox Trot style

Posted by lozenp on March 4, 2007

Check out today’s Fox Trot cartoon, proof that I’m not the only person who thinks this way.

Fox Trot

Posted in RIAA | Leave a Comment »

The absolute stupidity of DRM

Posted by lozenp on March 2, 2007

So the people over at Gizmodo have declared a boycott of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for the month of March. What does this mean, no buying music the traditional way for the month of March. They have also created a manifesto to go along with their boycott. It’s a great read, I’d highly recommend it.

For those of you who don’t know, the RIAA is the evil group behind DRM, or digital rights management. They are the reason that music you buy from the Itunes store, can only be played on Ipods (sure there are ways around that but for the average user, they’re stuck with Ipod) and they are also the people that have brought lawsuits agains thousands of people across the country for “pirating” music (for the record, I’m against stealing music, but it’s certainly easy to understand why people do it with all the restrictions put on legal purchases).

Here’s the short story: If you buy a CD, you should be able to use it as you like. It’s yours. Short of making hundreds of copies and selling them to people, you should be able to listen to it in your car, on your Ipod, and on your computer. The RIAA wants that to be illegal. If you legally own a DVD, you should be able to make a backup copy of it, play it on your PC, on your DVD player, or put it on your home network for personal use. Not so, says the RIAA’s evil twin the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. America). Imagine buying an oven and being told you could only cook pie in it, even though it was a fully functioning oven that could cook any and all foods. Same concept.

Piracy is indeed a problem, but the RIAA really has no one to blame but themselves. Take morals, ethics, legality, etc. out of the picture. If given the choice to own a song either: 1. That is completely free of protection, free for you to use on as many media devices as you own, transfer from PC to PC that you own, play in any car you own, or 2. That same song that you can use on only one of your many media devices, and once you pick that device, that’s all you can use it on, which would you choose. Of course any sane person would say give me the open-ended file. And since the RIAA is so over-the-top with piracy, they’ve locked legal files down to ridiculous levels, essentially punishing the user who does things legally.

Remember taping radio programs back in the day, hoping to hear your favorite song? Illegal, according to the RIAA even though the programming is out on the free, open airwaves. Files you record to your DVR off free tv like ABC, you can’t do anything with them. It’s free TV, you paid your cable bill, you rent the equipment, yet you can’t do anything with those files.

I can’t explain it as well as the links above can, and if you ever get a chance (it’s a long read) take a peek at Courtney Love’s take on the music industry (note it is unedited). It’s eye-popping.

The most shocking thing the RIAA has done recently is this (from Gizmodo):

Recently, the RIAA began looking to streamline the entire lawsuit process by cutting courts, lawyers, and any semblance of due process out altogether. Their new plan is to have ISPs point people to p2plawsuits.com (catchy!) and offer to discount their settlement by $1,000 if they pay up without going to court at all. By avoiding the court system, the RIAA can avoid paying those pesky lawyer’s fees. Even better for them, they plan to require ISPs to retain all of their customer records for at least 180 days in order to be eligible for the $1,000 discount. This would make everyone’s surfing and downloading history available to a non-governmental organization in order to make it easier for them to gather evidence for their intimidation lawsuits.

Basically, the RIAA is attempting to enforce fines on people outside of the legal system, as if I were to send you a fine and tell you to pay my bank account to save time and money. Pure guerrilla tactics, and borderline illegal themselves.

I encourage you to learn more about copyright protection and the idea of Fair Use as it pertains to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You may not know it, but your rights as a consumer are eroding before your very eyes.

More on this as things progress, and as I learn more about it.

Posted in copyright, RIAA | Leave a Comment »