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  • Newsletter Issue #343

    June 26th, 2006

    THIS WEEK'S TECH NIGHT OWL LIVE UPDATE

    Some of you are wondering just how much of the stuff we present on The Paracast is actually believable. From UFOs, to things that go bump in the night, we cover a wide range of material and certainly some of it stretches credibility, and your imagination of course.

    Well, it's easy for me to say that I don't buy a lot of it, which is true, but there are also a lot of strange things happening on this crazy world of ours. There is, in fact, a lot we don't understand, and some very responsible people have reported some very strange encounters with various types of weird phenomena. So what can you say? Future episodes will explore lots of unusual subjects. One June 27, for example, you'll hear from Michael Horn, the Authorized American Media Representative for The Billy Meier Contacts. Talk about controversy. He will explain why he supports the Meier's incredible claims, and, yes, we'll ask the tough questions.

    Now about our more conventional program, The Tech Night Owl LIVE: For our June 22nd episode, we featured noted industry analyst Joe Wilcox, of JupiterResearch, who talked about the possible impact of the impending departure of Bill Gates as a full-timer at Microsoft. We also welcomed Benjamin Rudolph of Parallels, Inc., who answered lots of questions about the final release of Parallels Desktop, which lets you run Windows at high speed at the same time as Mac OS X on your Intel-based Mac. Scott Allan, Director of Marketing for Quark, Inc., detailed the new features of QuarkXPress 7.0 and commentator Daniel Eran of roughlydrafted.com had lots of smart comments to voice about a whole range of Apple-related subjects.

    The guest list the June 29th episode is still in flux, so stay tuned.

    And don't forget our weekly contests. So far we've given away such prizes as iPod shuffles, iPod accessories, memory upgrades, network music players, video tuner/recorders, software and books. More great prizes will be offered in the weeks to come.

    If you haven't heard our program, be sure to visit The Tech Night Owl LIVE Web site to listen to our archives or download the Podcast version. Enjoy.

    IS ANYONE INTERESTED IN BOOT CAMP AND WINDOWS VISTA BETA 2?

    So it was only natural. On the one hand, there's a simply superb personal computer, the 17-inch MacBook Pro, and the ability to run two or more operating systems. Independent tests show that it actually can run Windows XP faster than many dedicated Windows boxes. So with two popular methods of setting up the "Dark Side" on an Intel-based Mac, I decided to take the ultimate plunge: The public beta of Windows Vista.

    This isn't quite as simple as it seems at first glance. Yes, the download process proceeded with nary a hitch. In fact, I got the file via Apple's Safari, and used Mac OS X's Disk Utility to convert the disk image to a DVD. Piece of cake. At first, I wanted to use Parallels Desktop to host the Vista beta, hoping it would let me do some direct comparisons with Tiger without a reboot.

    Alas, that wasn't to be. The PC BIOS that Parallels supports ' compatible with Windows Vista. ' a limitation that will be addressed in a few months, so far now I decided to see if Boot Camp would work, without any weird workarounds or hacks. In order to deprive myself of even the most basic common sense information, I decided to approach the task directly without doing any research first. That, as you will learn shortly, is not the path of least resistance.

    Now in all fairness to Apple, Boot Camp wasn't designed with the idea that you'd be setting up Windows Vista on it. It is, despite its relative reliability, a public beta and is supposed to be compatible strictly with Windows XP SP2, either Home or Pro. If anything else works without lots of user intervention, consider yourself lucky, or poised for trouble.

    To be sure, when you want to install a beta operating system using a beta "enabler," you have to expect to make a few sacrifices. My first attempt, without the power user accouterments, resulted in failure. After going through what seemed to be a conventional installation process, it restarted and reverted to Mac OS X. A second attempt, in which I restarted from the Windows Vista DVD, achieved the exact same result.

    Fortunately, these initial attempts required minimal user intervention, so I can't say I wasted much time babysitting the MacBook Pro. I was otherwise occupied, in fact, on what turned out to be more productive pursuits, such as editing a recorded interview for one of my radio programs.

    At this point, I decided it was a good time to explore the nooks and crannies of the process, to see how others have fared. As I said, I wanted the full experience before going online in search of outside assistance. Here Hans VB's WebLog seems to have a handle on the proper technique, but it has its consequences.

    The critical factor is that, when choosing a partition on which to install Vista, you must delete the "EFI Partition," which supposedly has something to do with support for the computer's firmware updates. What this means is that you may not be able to install future Apple updates of that sort unless you reformat the drive and start over. I'll leave it to you to decide if this is worth the bother.

    After this, you will evidently have to locate and install a network driver compatible with Vista. That's the good part. The blog has reports of problems, where you might have to repair your installation before things begin to work. Worse, it may hose your Mac OS X installation, although it's hard to determine if that's an issue only a small number of people might encounter. Experiences so far are, as you might expect, limited.

    If you really want to go the whole hog and put Vista through its paces, with the proper warnings of potential problems in the back of your mind, it might be worth the attempt. According to published reports, Vista performance is very much comparable to XP if you have the right hardware to support this setup.

    However, even the industry analysts who are supposed to be objective on such matters agree that this is a very shaky beta, which is why many are skeptical that Microsoft can meet its release timetable.

    As for me, after seriously considering the positives and negatives, I've decided to wait for an official solution of some sort, perhaps an update to Parallels Desktop. I really have better things to do with my life than reformat drives and risk other untoward behavior in the quest for a story that'll be forgotten the very next day.

    You see, I need my MacBook Pro for real work, and while I'm not averse to experimentation, it's a matter of how much time I'm willing to sacrifice to deal with such uncertainties. Maybe some other time.

    THE TECH NIGHT OWL: SUPERMAN -- BETWEEN TECHNOLOGY AND LOGIC

    You can't escape Superman these days. His image, as portrayed by novice thespian Brandon Routh, is posted almost everywhere around the free world and then some. But the latest movie incarnation of our quintessential superhero was a long time coming and the previous versions, both in the cinema and on TV, didn't always serve the character all that well.

    The original live action movie featuring Superman featured Kirk Alyn, a former Broadway dancer who had the look and the voice to match your expectations. But he wasn't much of an actor. Some say the so-called "Superman curse" destroyed his career, and he had to get by largely with voiceovers and commercials thereafter. Although Republic's classic movie serial, "The Adventures of Captain Marvel," had pretty decent flying scenes back in 1941, the first Superman flick was done on a low budget. The flying scenes were largely confined to cartoon images of the man of steel. It got a little better in a sequel, which introduced Luther to the movie audiences, but that isn't saying much.

    In many respects, I still regard George Reeves, star of "The Adventures of Superman" on TV as the best of the lot. His acting chops seemed limited, although he had some great character roles in "B" movies over the years, but his dynamic personality carried him through. Don't forget that little wink, where he seemed the share a private joke with the audience.

    Despite the limits of technology, special effects were barely more than decent for the time, but Reeves' running takeoff was a master stroke. Whether his invention, or that of the creative crew isn't important. You could believe that he was prepared to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I'm not ready to concede that the more recent practice, where he seems to just levitate from the ground, is preferable. A super man ought to make super leaps to become airborne, as far as I'm concerned.

    To many, the best of them all was "Superman the Movie," the one that made Christopher Reeve famous. My opinions are a little more mixed, however, despite the fact that "Superman Returns" is supposed to be an homage to the original and its sequel. For one thing, the original movie has a few serious flaws that annoy me. First of all, while Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were no doubt essential to getting this flick financed, the former just walks through his role as Superman's dad, Jor-El. He keeps referring to his home world as "Kryptin" instead of "Krypton," but I guess you couldn't ask him to do a retake or two in exchange for the rumored $3 million he picked up for 10 minutes on the screen.

    In one of the scenes where the young Clark Kent learns of his origins, a hologram of his dad informs him that his home planet was destroyed millions of years ago, whereas Lex Luther, later on, says it happened in 1947. A continuity failure, or just director Richard Donner's inability to get Brando to do retakes. I was also put off somewhat by Reeve's off-the-wall interpretation of Clark Kent as a total goofball. One would think that even a "mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper" has enough basic social smarts to gain and keep such a job. Some of the excesses were scaled back in later sequels, but not enough, as far as I'm concerned.

    I read a "Making of" book about "Superman the Movie" some years ago, and it's clear they had lots of script problems, as exemplified by all the credits for writers and/or script doctors. While I suppose it was all right in the '70s, I thought that the scenes with Luther were a little too over the top, and you wondered why the "world's greatest criminal mind" would manage to hire a total idiot like Otis to do his legwork.

    As to those famous special effects, no I didn't believe a man could fly. Although many of the scenes were well done, the flying sequences didn't always blossom beyond the appearance of someone on a harness maneuvering in front of a blue screen.

    This isn't to say that I think "Superman the Movie" was a bad film. I still enjoy it, despite the flaws. Now as to "Superman II," where Superman gives up his powers to be with Lois, I think it suffers from two logical flaws. One is that he'd be successfully persuaded to give up his powers to be with a human woman, which doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense in the scheme of things, aside from the fact that he'd been an idiot to do that what with all the potential threats he has to combat. Second, there's that scene near the end of the movie where Clark kisses Lois to make her forget everything. Just how is that supposed to be accomplished, or did they cut a scene where it's explained? Just curious, since it doesn't seem to have anything much to do with the man of steel's known abilities. In all fairness, this movie seems a mite schizophrenic in some ways, possibly because director Richard Lester replaced Donner, who filmed 70% of the original footage, after the latter had a falling out with the producers.

    As to the "Lois and Clark" TV show, I think Teri Hatcher's wonderful comedic performance always made it watchable. Dean Cain wasn't bad at light comedy, and looked right physically, but his voice was a little on the thin side, lacking the authority one expects of Superman. Maybe a few voice lessons to learn to use his diaphragm would have helped, but I enjoyed the show anyway.

    From what I've seen in the trailers and a brief sequence now available on iTunes, "Superman Returns" has the potential to surpass its predecessors in many respects. In addition, Routh appears to have tamed the excesses from his Clark Kent portrayal, while bringing an imposing physicality and voice to Superman. But that's a story for another day.

    THE FINAL WORD

    The Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc.

    Publisher/Editor: Gene Steinberg
    Managing Editor: Grayson Steinberg
    Marketing and Public Relations: Barbara Kaplan
    Worldwide Licensing and Marketing: Sharon Jarvis



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    2 Responses to “Newsletter Issue #343”

    1. Andrw Sheridan says:

      Hi,

      A better solution perhaps is to install XP using Boot Camp as per usual but then get a hold of VMWare or VirtualPC (Windows version not Mac) and install Vista using the virtual route on VMWare/VPC. It works.

      Reply To This Comment

    2. A better solution perhaps is to install XP using Boot Camp as per usual but then get a hold of VMWare or VirtualPC (Windows version not Mac) and install Vista using the virtual route on VMWare/VPC. It works.

      If I wanted to buy extra stuff :)

      So what sort of performance do you get and do you have any particular hints to offer on this technique?

      Peace,
      Gene

      Reply To This Comment

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