You've found the personal site of Alex Wishkoski, a Seattle-based web designer and photographer. Here he talks about Movies, posts Pictures and explores technology.

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Terminator Salvation in REVIEW

Salvation.

You wait for it, strive for it. You are one of the unlucky 1% of humanity that survived Judgment Day only to be hunted by machines. You forgive your brethren for the clumsy deification of John Connor, the man who broadcasts information to organize your resistance. But what you do not forgive, is that when a movie is made about your struggle your story isn’t told. (Perhaps you don’t mind because the movie is made in the past, way back in 2009, but believe me continuity is not something you want to bring up in your futuristic Terminator-ridden world.)

That’s the problem with Terminator Salvation, written by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris — the plight of the individual resistance fighter is not addressed. We find a few lone groups of survivors on the ground, but we also encounter a fully-formed military structure where John Connor is just a bit player, and the tale of desperate survival to get to the point of massive coordinated attacks is skipped over. I think there is something that can be said about the time between nuclear annihilation and submarine-headquarters warthog-airstrike time. Salvation jumps into the future right before a climactic battle without the drama that lead them to that precipice. The story is in the pain of the process, the survival, not the victory.

Ask any fan of the Zombie genre, it’s not the chain of events that leads to the disaster that makes the story great, it’s the survival post-apocalypse. The previous movies made haunting references to Judgment Day, with visions of terrible mushrooms clouds evaporating whole cities. This was the opportunity to dive into that world of fallout — I think it was squandered.

I had hoped this movie would be broader in scope. Perhaps what I want is something the Terminator franchise can never really deliver, as all of the previous movies have dwelt with only a few key characters. With Salvation this pattern is upheld, but with less spectacular results.

In addition to the gaps in story telling, there are numerous plot holes that sap some of the strength from the film. To dive into all of them would be a terrific spoiler so I’d rather not do so here at this time, but there are a lot of problems that really detract from the movie. One being the seemingly “safe” and “unsafe” areas of future California that don’t make sense. In some areas leaving a boombox on the ground playing will draw enemies within seconds, whereas in other areas it seems safe to wander about freely. Maybe the machines are just really good listeners but don’t see so good. Yeah! I don’t think it’s made clear why machines are okay with leaving any area unpatrolled at all. They have the technology (ala T-800) to put a nuclear reactor in a chip, so I doubt their machines would have to continually head back to base to top off the tanks.

Even more basic, why don’t the machines just carpet-bomb the planet with biological weapons, which would pretty much kill off the last of us fleshies that weren’t asploded by the nukes?

One of the major trailers (which sadly, I had seen) revealed a huge plot device, and this is absolutely unforgivable. At the time, I had believed the trailer did not make a huge reveal, but as the movie unfolded I realized that it gave away one of the major conflicts of the entire film. For shame. This is why I hate trailers. A real trailer should be a tease, not a synopsis.

Fans of the franchise will be entertained. Moviegoers who just want to see things blow up will like this film. However, those two listed categories of people actually have a 99.8% overlap, so we can likely bundle them together as one group — the only group — that should cough up full ticket price to see this movie.

Back From Ireland

I’m back, and have brought quite a few nice pictures in tow. I’ll be posting some of my favorites here in the coming days. For now, check out this one.

And all you family members, don’t assume seeing these special few gets you out of the full slideshow.

Off to the Emerald Isle

In just a few hours I’ll be off to Ireland for two weeks! I probably won’t have any pictures to show off until I’m back (because I am not taking my laptop), but you can expect sporadic updates here, and as usual on Twitter.

Flickr — Still Dominated by the Geeks

I’ve heard many people say that Flickr, the popular photo-sharing site acquired by Yahoo in 2005, “has gone mainstream.”

That’s easy to assume with it’s relatively high profile millions of users and many more millions of photographs, but it’s still very much slanted towards web-savvy users in North America.

Theage.com.au reports on an interesting Cornell study that describes, “revealing various interesting properties about popular cities and landmarks at a global scale.”

The findings show that the Fifth Avenue Apple Store, which opened in May 2006, is more popular than many other well-known tourist sites such as St Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Reichstag in Berlin and the Washington Monument in the US capital.

I don’t believe it.

Well, I believe the study is accurate for Flickr users, but to make any further assumptions beyond this limited user base is foolish. This just shows how far from truly mainstream even the largest of web applications are. I’m not knocking the Apple Store, but something tells me more Americans are interested in the US Capital.

For me, this really hits home two points in this web-centric world of ours:

  1. We’re creating exponentially more minable data than a generation ago.
  2. All gleanings based on this flood of data must take this into context.

Want to see the web-centric populace slanting data toward the modern age in action? Check out the revision history of Wikipedia’s entry on Swine Flu. At this rate soon it will eclipse the combined importance of everything that happened in say, 1958. Sorry 1958.

Joy! Replacing Dead Batteries in an APC Battery Backup

Last week my UPS gave up the ghost. Before you feel bad however, note the APC Back-UPS XS 800 did not go quietly into that Ballard night, it beeped incessantly until I unplugged it. (I’m sure that’s good practice for a valuable piece of tech, but it just doesn’t make me want to plug it in again…ever.)

rbc32

I was dismayed to see replacement batteries at APC’s site for my model ran $79.99, which is frightfully close to what I paid for the whole unit in the first place. Other retailers online ranged hugely in price, and frankly most of them didn’t look like the kind of economic endeavors I like to share my credit card with.

I took a chance and headed down to Fry’s, knowing they stocked at least 20 different APC UPS models. As soon as I tracked down an employee in the UPS aisle and asked him about battery replacements…well if I’m to speak kindly this would be a deer in headlights scenario.

I poked around the store and found something that looked like what I needed, but it was in the home security aisle. Luckily, I brought the APC battery down with me, so I brought the dead battery into the store for reference. (Note this is a good idea right up until you find yourself hauling 24 lbs of batteries around a giant electronics store.)

12v7a-batteries

After deconstructing the APC “RBC32″ I found out that two common 12 volt 7.0 amp batteries sandwiched together with APC’s wiring harness worked perfectly, and saved quite a bit of coin. Each battery from Fry’s was $26, so right off the top I saved $28, and that’s not including shipping which is substantial for 12 lbs of batteries.

In Conclusion

Don’t buy overpriced APC brand replacements or pay a ton to ship heavy batteries, just pull apart your original, save the wiring harness and find something compatible in town. The re-wiring is self-explanatory and you’ll save a lot of coin.

Heck, you might even get a charge out of it.

Note
The only thing this technique doesn’t account for is battery recycling—Fry’s won’t take your old batteries, so you’ll have to find another home for them—preferably not in a landfill.

Superfluous Posting of Reviews Cinematica (SPORC), Episode 2

It’s neither a spoon nor a fork, but instead an abbreviated list of the movies I haven’t had time to fully review in the past few months.

8.5 – The Wrestler
A story of meat. Broken down meat. Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei are both fantastic.
7.4 – Ghost Town
Funny stuff. Ricky Gervais is a genius.
7.3 – Watchmen
I haven’t read the work, but I’m guessing Zack Snyder made a great translation. Anything with an alternate history sucks me right in.
6.9 – Body of Lies
Leo DiCaprio as a CIA agent in Jordan. Very entertaining.
5.6 – City of Ember
For a movie with both Tim Robbins and Bill Murray I’m shocked to find such mediocrity. Apparently nobody cares that lighting a candle would completely remove 90% of the drama in the film.
2.6 – September Dawn
Pretty sure Jon Voight only made this movie about the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre so he could play a guy with tons of wives. A terrible movie, actually amusing it’s so awful.