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A review: Science Story Poster Publishing (science-story.com)

A few weeks ago, I got it in my head that I really want to get a poster of the solar system, complete with as many major moons, dwarf planets, otherwise significant solar system objects, etc. as possible.  Let me tell you, it’s not an easy thing to find.  There are many great posters, but they are often old and outdated, or poor quality, or simply not filled with the level of objects I was looking for.  To top it all off, they cost at least $100, and really don’t have  great durability.  Considering I was looking for posters in the width range of about 8 feet, standard poster paper was not really going to last long on the wall of a 3-year-old.

Yes he’s 3, so maybe the poster was more for me, but as long as it lasts, eventually it will be for him too (again, of course, assuming he ultimately cares about that stuff, and why woudn’t he ?!??! I digress …)

Finally I happened across science-story.com (note the hyphen).  They had this incredible poster:

and it was only $49.  The only obvious thing I saw missing were Nix and Hydra (Pluto’s 2 smaller moons, and even when I’d ordered its 4th moon had just been discovered).

To top it off, the poster was almost 8′ in length and advertised as basically “untearable.”  Rock!

So, I placed the order.  The total was $62.

Then I got a little concerned.  My invoice was #7, meaning they’d only had 7 orders.  So, the price was very cheap, and no one had really ordered from this company.  I was concerned.

I emailed right away, hoping to get a reply.  Well, I got it.  Scott was very polite, kept me well informed.  Still, there was a delay of nearly a month.  He kept me informed, and it turned out the coating on the poster was having issues.  I, of course, was still very skeptical, but remained positive and kept emailing.

Finally, Scott very courteously sent me this poster:

to appease my impatience, and even offered a refund (after the topographical map poster had already shipped).  I was happy for the free gift, but really wanted the big poster, so I kept waiting.

Finally the big poster arrived, with yet another free gift (The Mona Lisa):

Of course, the highlight for me is still the giant poster, but the service was exceptional, and the product is exactly what I wanted (for a phenomenal price).

If you’re like me, or you’re a teacher looking for great classroom posters, or for any other reason you stumble upon science-story.com, do not hesitate to order.  In my view, you won’t be disappointed.

I will certainly order from them again …

 

Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Reviews

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Here’s a big +1 for AquaSource Customer Service

So I am currently redoing my downstairs bathroom (in brief for those that don’t know: completely gutted and replaced with awesomeness).  Cecily and I found what we considered to be the perfect faucet at Lowes:  AquaSource #0476590A with pull-down sprayer.

The problem is, I installed it, and somewhere along the line it started leaking on the top side of the sprayhead.  Fortunately, I kept the documentation, gave the AquaSource customer service department a call, and told them the part I needed (which was clearly listed in the documentation).  They told me there was no charge, and the item would be shipped out this week.

Talk about flooring me.  I’m honest, so being as I didn’t know what caused the problem (me or factory defect), I was expecting to pay for it.  Since I just got off the phone, there may be updates to this post, but assuming the part comes as expected (which I have no reason to doubt at this moment), now would be a good time to read this post’s title.  🙂

 

Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Personal, Reviews

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Red Riding Hood – A Review

My aim is to keep this brief and to just put forth a few reactions about the movie Red Riding Hood, but I have a slight tendency toward verbosity.

My wife and I watched the movie last night (March 18 2011), and I hadn’t even heard of it until 2 days before.  She mentioned that it might be good to see, so I looked up reviews, and read only one, and I’m unable to retrieve it now.  It basically just said that the movies horrid reviews (mostly related to the acting) were unwarranted, that Gary Oldman was brilliant (as usual), and that the costuming was fantastic.  To that end, I thought the cast list was great, so we decided to watch the movie.

From here in, I make no promises not to spoil the movie (if you’re of the camp that believes that the movie itself has not already accomplished that).

My thoughts? Yes, the movie feels like any of the Twilight movies, for reasons not short of the fact that Billy Burke is in both.  Is the acting bad? The directing? The writing?  Well, the movie is not all that much of a disappointment.  It lacks any real philosophical substance, but that alone is not the purveyor of entertainment.  The color of the film was fantastic, that I can say for sure.

As much as I hate to say it, the film suffers from a technological flaw — it was filmed in too high of a resolution.  The images are so sharp, it gave me the sense that I was watching a rehearsal in person.  It’s as if I could see the pixelization of the actor’s techniques, and, for me, that even included those of Gary Oldman.

The story is, intriguing, not original, but alluring, and with that, you will definitely walk away with something.  Luckily, we got our tickets for free, so I don’t have that nagging feeling that I wasted money on it.

So beyond the resolution, the directing was also pretty amateurish in parts.  The effects were nice, but the camera seemed to literally tell you what the director was up to.  There is a scene where Gary Oldman is in a tower, waiting for the wolf, and he peers out at his lookouts, who all, in sequence with the camera, make a point to show themselves, and wave to Solomon (Oldman’s character).  It was like watching a high school play, and it was really there that I lost faith in the director.

In addition, the  story tries so hard to hide who the werewolf is, that you’re all over the place with theories.  Yes, in a way it’s great that they succeed in making you think it could be anyone in the town.  I applaud that, but because of the heightened attention to try to figure it out, it becomes immediately obvious who it is.  In my opinion that’s a fail.

Beyond that, I concur that the costumes were nice, although my wife and I discussed how their period is unclear, so it is difficult to determine a consistent time/geographical context.  Obviously, this also takes away from the believability.  Combine this with the high resolution recording, and you find a wicker basket containing Gary Oldman’s hand that looks like it was purchased at Wal-Mart for $4.79.

Furthermore, the writer sucks with dialog, but I think it’s satisfactorily compensated for with the story’s intrigue.  Out of 5, I’d probably give the movie a 3, I would see it again (for free), but it lacks a director with a vision to turn fantasy into a tangible universe.  It is this crack in the movie’s structure that gives the impression of unimpassioned acting, and therefore the ultimate frivolity of this movie’s universe.

 

Posted by on March 19, 2011 in Reviews

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So, as it turns out, PayBox.me really is a scam

Surprise, surprise!

If you haven’t heard of PayBox.me (I refuse to link to them), it is supposedly some new payment portal that is “beta testing” their platform.  Basically, they’re giving people currency (as defined by them) to try out their system.

I will not type the whole background — there is a great article here: http://www.suite101.com/content/paybox-a-great-business-opportunity-or-scam-a327380 that can do that.

So they’ve been working to build their “Army of 10000” marketers, and this morning they posted the first “training course.”  http://www.paybox.me/blog/?p=1153  <– Again, I won’t directly link, but go there, then click the link to the first training course.

It takes you to a typical marketing scam website.  Nuff said.  Given the fact that they can just cancel your account at any time, I’ve now accepted the fact that there is no chance that this free money they were giving away will ever make it to my bank account.

I will, of course, continue to log in daily to get my free fake $20, because it’s just one click.

But you heard it here first (or second, or 10 millionth) — PayBox.me is clearly an outright scam.  Don’t do the BS they ask you to (especially if they ever ask you to pay them directly.)

 

Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Commentary, Reviews

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Band Of Brothers

So Cecily and I started watching Band of Brothers the other night (Yeah ok so we’re a little behind).  We’re only about half way through, but I wanted to note a few things.

  1. The old guys (apparent actual war vets) are in many cases eerily similar in mannerisms and presentation as the characters in the movie … I don’t know if this was intentional or serendipitous, but I’m sure it’s a little of both.
  2. It is amazing how many scenes I watch and think “wow this is an unbelievably realistic Call of Duty cut scene”
  3. It is terribly humbling thinking about how profound of an experience — how deep of a cause it was for these guys to contribute to, and many of them were only there for a few months.  It certainly makes me think any of my accomplishments (none of which I really consider laudable anyway) as futile.
  4. Unbelievable cinematography, directing, acting.
  5. COMPLAINT: No English subtitles … I have grown quite accustomed to being able to turn on English subtitles and not worry about missing words being spoken, names, etc.  There are also no French subtitles (which have historically been an ample substitute being that I speak French).  The Spanish subtitles do help, but because I can’t really read all of the Spanish fast enough, they are more of a distraction.  I just rewind and turn them on when I need to see what name someone said (it is definitely helpful in those scenes).  Tip to all people who put a movie on DVD/Blu-Ray/whatever — INCLUDE ENGLISH SUBTITLES.
  6. I am a bit ashamed that I know Richard Speight, Jr. more as The Trickster from Supernatural than his much more esteemable role of Sgt. Muck in this …

I may post more if I have reactions to the second half (no doubt I will … until then,

 

Posted by on November 5, 2010 in Commentary, Reviews

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WordPress 3.0, multi-sites, and migrating only some of your posts

I started my original blog a little over a year ago now simply as a way to have a place to post thoughts online. As it progressed and I started to flesh out my music site, I realized that I actually have at least 3 distinct types of thoughts I want to post: music-related, general commentary on my life, hobbies, and interests, and philosophical topics.

WordPress is extremely powerful, and I quickly began using its RSS functionality to feed my music related posts to my music website, but, as it turns out, this is kind of bad from a search engine perspective. I ended up using cross-domain canonical URLs to make Google happy. Additionally, it was kind of confusing. While I don’t really have much traffic to any of my sites, I like to pretend that I do, and it just wasn’t adding up.

Then comes WordPress 3.0 which allows you to host multiple blogs (even, unofficially, on multiple domains), so it gave me the opportunity to allocate content correctly to my domains.

There are drawbacks, of course.  It’s not like you get to just make posts and decide which domain you want it on.  You still have separate sites with separate management profiles, etc., it’s just that anytime you upgrade core components (such as themes, plugins, and even WordPress itself) you don’t have to do it for every blog.

Plus, all your content is in a centralized, easily accessible place.  Perhaps in the future more fine-tuned enhancements will evolve, but for the time being all I had to do was some MySQL footwork (in moving the right posts to the right blogs, which was simple enough as I already had “Music” and “Philosphy” categories).

I have had crimulus.com reserved for some time as my “personal” site — projects I’m working on, hobby showcases, etc., but I never really fleshed it out.  My music site, jeremytharp.com, is about 5 years old now, but it relayed podcast data, music news, etc. for anyone visiting that site, but, for a search engine, it treated it as if it were hosted on my actual blog which is at coffeecuphalfmoons.com.

To summarize, I just wanted to express how pleased I am with the feature as well as inform any readers (if you exist) of the changes.

Finally, for the technological grit, if anyone else intends to do this, I had to make a modification to my coffeecuphalfmoons.com theme.

I had plenty of indexed content, so now most of those are on crimulus.com or blog.jeremytharp.com, so links from search engines would generate a 404.  I simply modified my theme’s index.php send a GET request for the $_SERVER[‘REQUEST_URI’] on each of the domains (crimulus.com and blog.jeremytharp.com) in the event that have_posts() returned false.  If either of those requests returns a header code other than 404, I send a 301 redirect for that.

So, a search engine refers a user to http://www.coffeecuphalfmoons.com/a/post/that/i/moved/

I check (using cURL) to see if http://www.crimulus.com/a/post/that/i/moved/ or http://blog.jeremytharp.com/a/post/that/i/moved/ returns a 200, 301, etc.  If so, then it’s probably the post that was originally referred to.

This is how you help keep pagerank value and link-juice when you’re migrating only a few posts from a blog on one domain to a blog on another.  At least, that’s how I did it.

 

Posted by on July 13, 2010 in Commentary, Computers, Reviews

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Customer Review – RockAuto.com

I have a 1990 Ford F-250 pickup truck that is pretty much a beater, but it’s a damn workhorse. I love the truck, but I am always fixing things on it. 😉 Pretty soon it will be a 2010 model. Anyway, recently I was hauling a load of stone, and the driver’s side rear spring hanger’s rivets broke lose and bent the hanger away from the frame. On closer inspection, the rear hangers on both side are quite rusted, and they should have been replaced years ago.

I checked around local junk yards, and most of them wanted anywhere from $40 to $60 a piece for replacement hangers, or they just didn’t have them, or only had 1 (and I’m replacing both). So, being employed in a field directly tied to the internet, I checked Google. If any of you have ever searched for car parts online, you know that RockAuto.com carries pretty much everything you can find, and their prices are very reasonable (usually the cheapest outright on Google Shopping).

Lo and behold, they have my part — more importantly, they have at least 2 — new — for $20 ea. plus $10 shipping. Mondary morning (May 24, 2010) I placed the order. When I came home from work on Tuesday, the parts had arrived.

With the recent string of crappy companies I’ve been dealing with in terms of purchasing online, RockAuto.com is the most amazing breath of fresh air ever (pardon the poetical slathering, but seriously … they are awesome.) Do not hesitate to buy from them!

 

Posted by on May 27, 2010 in Commentary, Personal, Reviews

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A few thoughts on How To Train Your Dragon

Cecily and I saw this last night as a double feature (paired with Iron Man 2) at The Family Drive In Theatre in Stephens City Virginia.  Short and simple — great movie. The plot was intriguing and somewhat surprising (not like EUREKA! but Oooooh … interesting). Had all the appropriate elements, but most importantly, it kept me interested.

Summary: a young boy growing up in a village of dragon-slaying Vikings is neither strong enough to slay a dragon, nor eager to do so. In fact, he befriends one, and eventually is able to reveal things to both the dragons and the Vikings that neither knew.

Good date film, good kids film, and good manly man film as long as you don’t tell anyone how much you love it (and I loved it!). 😉

 

Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Personal, Reviews

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The Family Drive-In Theatre (Stephens City, Virginia) — new ownership

Recently, The Family Drive-In Theatre in Stephens City, Virginia came under new management, and I had some thoughts about the experience that I conveyed to the new owners. Rather than write a formal review here, I’m simply posting the contents of the email:

Hi, just wanted to give feedback on the theater experience.  I'll try to keep it brief, but my wife and I watched Iron Man 2/How To Train Your Dragon.

The new ticket price is still a deal, so that is good, but what I most wanted to comment on is the "announcing" over the broadcast system.

Please, if you really want to do a message like that, record it in advance, and keep it concise.  It was some very boring rambling about the new ownership, the new website, patronizing the concession stand, and while all these points are worth knowing about, it seemed like 10 minutes.  Record it early, keep it brief and upbeat.

Also, the film cut out quite a few times in the middle.  It would have been nice if someone came over the system and explained what was going on.

Otherwise, same old theater, and I look forward to seeing more movies there.  It is also a welcome change that you are bringing new movies, although an unfortunate side effect to that is increased wait times and longer lines.

Anyway, just my two cents, thought you'd be interested.

And the reply (addended 5-18-10):

Thanks Jeremy for the feedback.

We will attempt to keep announcements short.   As for the projector cutting out, it normally doesn't do that--it was pulling the film harder than it should have been on one of the projectors and we had to adjust the film tension a few times to keep from damaging the print.

look forward to seeing you again.

Sincerely

Jim Kopp
Family Drive-In Theatre
Stephens City, VA 22655

www.thefamilydriveintheatre.com
 

Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Personal, Reviews

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A few thoughts on Iron Man 2 (Review)

Cecily and I went to see Iron Man 2 at The Family Drive In Theatre in Stephens City, Virginia (not necessarily relevant, but I thought I would mention). Actually, the film was paired with How To Train Your Dragon (film) — very good pair. Anyway, I wanted to jot a few notes/give a small review (and this should be fairly brief).

Overall it was a fair to good movie — certain it would have been just as good as the first had it actually been the first. That being said, in my opinion it went a little over the top with the cheese/tongue-in-cheek/comic book cliche. The biggest example to me is the pepper spray scene. While funny, the timing was very awkward and it really kind of cheapened the scene.

Best line of the movie? (paraphrased) “Excuse me I’m fighting off a Hammer-Roid attack.” 😀 That is good stuff!

Also another major high point? Scarlett Johansson in tight leather (a la Uma Thurman — The Avengers) and a very hot hairdo.

So while the movie didn’t wow me, it was actually very good, just familiar and so it didn’t excite me, but it’s certainly worth seeing, and I would definitely see it again.

And the icing of the experience was when our two-year-old son woke up at the end of the movie (when AC/DC was playing over the credits) and very sleepily headbanged and rocked out. 🙂

[SPOILER!]

Oh and if anyone else wondered what they found in the teaser at the end of the credits, apparently it was the Hammer of Thor.

 

Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Personal, Reviews

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