Posts tagged technology

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Ballistic #1 Review

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Writing: Adam Egypt Mortimer

Art: Darick Robertson

Review by Melissa Megan

From the vaults of recently formed Black Mask Studios comes an exciting new five issue series called Ballistic. This book is the return to comic book sci fi by artist Darick Robertson who created the insanely detailed and just insane visuals for the critically acclaimed Transmetropolitan. Writer Adam Egypt Mortimer brings a variety of skills to the table with his background in video direction, screenplay and cartoon writing. Now that you understand what we’re working with, let’s move on to the good stuff!

Repo City State is a future city where the technology has a mind of it’s own. Everything is alive and everything has attitude. Butch is a skilled air conditioning repair man with dreams of becoming a big time criminal boss. Along with his best friend, a drug loving, generally pissed off gun named Bang Bang, Butch sets out to start his new career by failing a bank robbery miserably. This is the story of Butch and Bang Bang, two cocky, disillusioned guys (sort of) struggling to find their place in a mad world of technology and indulgence.

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Issue #1 is a great introduction to this absolutely bat shit crazy story. We get some understanding of the intimate but toxic relationship between Butch and his gun. I suspect there’s more to learn about who Butch is and why, but this issue proves he’s an interesting character with some charming flaws. Ok, maybe it’s more pity for his self destructive tendencies, but I find the slightly broken characters more fun. This story can’t go anywhere but awesome, judging by this start. If you read Transmetropolitan (who hasn’t?), it’s tough not to draw comparisons with the distinctive artwork of Darick Robertson splayed across the pages. I hope Ballistic maintains this level of exhilarating debauchery and terrific eye candy.

Ballistic is one of the most promising new series being written right now and everyone should most definitely be picking this up. Kick ass, party time adventure with a sharp edge rarely seen in comics today. It will smash your face with creative awesome.

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Ballistic: New Series From Black Mask Studios

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Perhaps you recall a certain futuristic, sci-fi, completely insane series back in the 90’s called Transmetropolitan? The series was written superbly by Warren Ellis and inked in a brilliant, hyper detailed style by an artist named Darick Robertson. The intensity and balls-to-the-wall attitude of that story has not been matched yet in comics, in my opinion, but a new series with artwork by Robertson and writer Adam Egypt Mortimer appears to be taking a stab at something close to it.

Ballistic is the tale of a failed bank robber in a post apocalyptic world where all technology is alive and has an attitude. Butch is an air conditioning repairman with big dreams of the criminal kind and he’s working to get there with the help of his genetically modified and foul-mouthed gun. They call Repo City State, a reclaimed trash island, home and the place provides plenty of opportunity for Butch and Gun to raise hell.

Matt Pizzolo of Black Mask Studios says “Mortimer’s mix of speculative science, pulpy noire, and drug-addled adventure cooks up a strange brew of Lethal Weapon by way of Cronenberg meets Dr. Who if written by Odd Future.” This promises to be an impressive and wild series with tons of talent behind it. I’m very excited to have the chance to review issue #1 on July 10 and I highly recommend you all check this one out.

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Google+: My First Impressions

June 29th, my Twitter feed was going nuts over news of Google+ and people asking others for invites. My first reaction was, “Who cares! I loathe Google. Wave and Buzz were severe disappointments. My gmail is used for junkmail and notifications for things I don’t care about. There’s yet to be a single Google product to interest or excite me. What is the purpose of Google+ and what use is it going to be to me?”

I walked through the Google+ tutorial and thought, “Meh. I don’t see what the hype is about.” Then I received an unexpected invite, logged in and was immediately hooked.

I’m not going to give a full walk-through of what exactly Google+ is. If you want in-depth detail, then read this very long article on Wired. What I will tell you is what my first impressions are and why I actually really, really like Google+.

First, Google+ is every thing I like about Facebook and doesn’t have any of the things that I hate, which is most of what Facebook has turned into. For years, I’ve been waiting for a good Facebook replacement. The only reason I still use Facebook is because it is the only way to keep in contact with some of my family.

Gone are the annoying adverts on Facebook. Gone is a feed filled with nothing but Facebook game updates that you are constantly having to block from your feed in an attempt to see people’s status updates—you know, the things you really want to know about people. Gone are the annoying suggestions. Being automatically added to a group and other intrusive things are gone. What is left is a stream devoted solely to the things you want to see: What your friends are saying and sharing. I’ve commented that Google+ is Facebook Lite but better.

The thing that has me most excited about Google+ is that I have complete control over how my content is shared. If I want only one person to see a status update, then I can specify that. If I only want one circle to see it, then I can specify that. I can also specify multiple circles, all circles or the entire world by having the update posted to my public profile. For me, this is the best feature! This means that I can open up my Google+ to the entire world and still maintain my privacy; something I can’t do on Facebook.

There are other nifty features such as chat, group collaborations i.e. “hangouts”, “Sparks” which are like Google alerts based on interests that you specify, you can +1 individual updates, you can share them and comment on them, you can even edit your updates and comments after you post them. This last feature also greatly excites me.

Another feature that WordPress users will probably grok the most is the toolbar at the top of Google+. It is very much like the admin bar in WordPress. It is automatically integrated into any Google page, including search, allowing you easy access to all your Google tools.

The only thing currently missing for me is the ability to automatically push my sites’ updates to Google+. Yes, I can use the +1 button on all my posts and add it to the +1 stream in my profile, but those don’t automatically show up in my stream for others to see. They have to visit my profile and click on the +1 tab to see them.

Another thing that I’m half-concerned about are the age restrictions. They are stricter than Facebook. As a parent, I appreciate that a young child cannot create an account which, without the guidance of an adult, can leave their personal and private information open to the entire world to view and leave them vulnerable to online predators. But the fact my near 16-year-old son will have to create a new gmail account and lie about his age in order to use Google+ is a little silly. I feel he is old enough to be able to use Google+.

I’m also worried that Google will mess-up the thing I really love about Google+: My right to privacy and the ability to choose what I share and with whom. Google has a lousy track record when it comes to privacy. So, we’ll have to wait and see. You can read the Googe+ privacy policy here.

It is going to take me awhile to efficiently organise all of my circles so that I can best share the content I want to share and with whom I want to share it. But it will be well worth it.

There are obviously some bugs as this is a new service and still in beta. Invites have been closed, but my friend, Eli Jones (@JuicyJones), has shared a work-around. However, Google+ is apparently at capacity and those who’ve received invites today have to wait a little bit before they can activate their accounts. That being said, if you want an invite, let me know and I’ll happily add you. I’ll happily add anyone.

Google, please don’t mess this up by turning it into another Facebook. What you’ve started with is awesome. Just work out the bugs—such as the crashes with “hangout”—add the ability to push posts for blogs and websites, and I’ll be extremely happy. Google, if you keep up the good work, I’ll never have to login to Facebook again and that is what I’ve been asking for, for years.

One last note, some have tried to compare Google+ to Twitter. For me, that is like comparing apples and oranges. Just like Facebook and Twitter have specific uses and functions for me, so will Google+ and Twitter. Maybe having the ability to push tweets to Google+ would be nice, but considering Google has Buzz—which I don’t use and never will—I don’t see that happening.

If you already have a Google+ account and want to add me, my gmail is jsherred at gmail dot com.

Comic From http://xkcd.com/

Opinion Piece: Tech Support

Image from http://xkcd.com

This comic touches on many very true elements of tech support. When I had to deal with my ISP’s tech support staff last month, I was brought to frustration and near-anger multiple times. While I’m sure there are individuals who are honestly lost when it comes to their computer, whose tech support call can be ended by a simple suggestion of “reboot your system”, there are surely more of us who understand the inner-workings of our systems.

I design and program systems for a living, so I understand how to get into the back-end and fiddle. Rest assured that if I’ve resorted to calling tech support, I’ve exhausted all my options. Telling me to “restart your computer, then find your Start menu” is not only belittling my intelligence, but wasting my time. Go off the script and listen to what I’m telling you! This is what I’ve tried, we’re at this point now, go from there.

Ah, if only there were indeed a secret password that we could use to bypass all the tiresome steps and go straight to someone who knows what they’re doing. Until then, geeks everywhere will continue to try to solve their own problems before resorting to the non-supportive tech support.

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