Thursday, October 30, 2008

Retox the Geek In Me

I'm getting in touch with my inner geek. I know he's there and wants to come out. We're making friends.

The other day while doing non-geeky, totally girly type dusting behind the computer, I noticed that my video card seemed to have two sockets to plug monitors into. One was full (obviously) but the other was suspiciously empty and, to my untutored eye, not normal. It turns out it's something called a DVI socket. I found this out by reading through the handy envelope of gumf Dell supplied with the machine when I bought it. "Plug the Monitor into the VGA or the DVI socket," it said, "But not both."

"But not both."

I hate being told not to do things.

It doesn't, I thought, say not to plug another monitor into the other socket...

Unfortunately I had nothing to hand to plug into it. There is another monitor sat on this desk (plugged into another computer - the two are networked) but it has a VGA plug.

Five minutes later via the mighty power of eBay, (peas be up on it) and after spending the price of a cup of non-frothy coffee, I was suddenly the proud owner of a VGA to DVI converterizer thingie - the existence of which I had been totally ignorant only a few minutes before.

It arrived today. Ten minutes after I had noticed the post had landed on the hall floor, and I had nipped upstairs with the wee Jiffy Bag, tweaked settings and rebooted, I was swapping and stretching documents across both monitors, giggling with happy delight. I am either a very sad man or very easily pleased.

Merriol thinks it's on the sad end of the spectrum. Holly on the other hand was impressed, but Daisy was delighted. She thought it was the greatest thing since sliced brioche and the two of us spent ages, sat at the desk, taking it in turns to resize text documents over both screens. One of those middle-aged geek / four year old child bonding moments that will live in the memory.

Unfortunately I have now got to work out some way of connecting the monitor to both computers without unplugging and re-plugging the thing every time anyone wants to use the other computer. It's ages since I had a data switch built into my set-up but my pile of cables, switches, adaptors, and What-exactly-IS-this-thing?s turns out not to have the required combination of bits.

I may have to lash out another cup of coffee (and maybe even a Danish Pastry) and buy more.

Der OctoberFilmFest
  1. Dr Doolittle
    - another 90 minutes of my life I want back - thanks kids! Best bit of this film was discovering, after the event, that it was directed by the woman who played officer Lucy Bates in Hill Street Blues. Yep, that good.
  2. X Men
    - what jolly nonsense! Not seen any of the X Men series before and this was unexpectedly better than I was... er... expecting... One of the better comic book movies.
  3. Killers From Space
    - A masterfully demented, fever dream of a movie directed by Billy Wilder's idiot brother.
  4. Alien Nation: Body and Soul
    - Meh Buddy-Cop SF TV movie.
  5. The Beast of Yucca Flats
    - I'm through the bottom! Finally after years of scraping around the bottom of the barrel of movie dross I've broken through and found out what's lurking underneath. This is a masterpiece, a real genuine masterpiece! Shot without sound (and presumably without a script) and then voiced over by the director reading a elliptical bursts of insane, portentous lines - very few of which seem to bear any relationship to the badly framed inaction on the screen (and even when they do they're just bewilderingly weird: "Boys from the city, not yet caught in the whirlwind of progress feed soda-pop to the thirsty pigs.") What does appear on screen is brilliantly encapsulated, far better than I ever could, by this on-line review:
    "We get a five-minute scenes in which a couple of people walk aimlessly and slowly through an ugly, featureless desert for mile after mile, just walking and walking, and we're lulled into a false sense of security...and then BAM! Just when you least expect it, all of the sudden they STOP WALKING AND KIND OF STAND THERE FOR A WHILE."
    That's it. That's the entire movie right there.

    How long y'all want me to stand here, mister Coleman?

    How do you pack: defecting Soviet scientists, Russian assassins, an atomic explosion, at least five on screen murders (one of which develops into an implied necrophiliac rape and may well have come from an entirely different movie it made so little sense), cops shooting at innocent fugitives from a light aeroplane, a car chase ending in a shoot out, daring feats of mountain climbing... etcetera into a 54 minute running time - and make it so boring!? It takes a tremendous talent to do that. Francis Coleman was that talent. He directed two other movies. They're now on the list. Oh God, I laughed and laughed. "Push a button; something happens".
  6. Thor and the Amazon Women
    - Italian musclemen movies - you gotta love them. This one was shot in winter - you can see the breath misting as they speak for many of the scenes - which must have been very uncomfortable for the actors poncing about in skimpy loincloths but at least the goose-pimples would have stopped them slipping off. Also contains lots of gladiatorixes necroerotically stabbing each other (and themselves) with sharp pointy things in "The Triangle of Death".
  7. Unearthly Stranger
    - rather effectively creepy little British SF movie with few characters, no special effects, lots of talk, some passable ideas, and some interesting camera work. All that and Warren Mitchell with a Scottish Accent.
  8. Red Zone Cuba
    - (MST3K) I have now watched 2/3rds of Francis Coleman's oeuvre in one week! (Medals! I want medals!)The Beast of Yucca Flats and this. He didn't get any better and he decided to act in this one as well. ('Act' here meaning to stand in front of the camera and light cigarettes.) His co-star was the producer. Dreadful.
  9. Space-Thing
    - Brilliant title for what turned out to be a 1968 soft-core porno flick. Though maybe it was a hard-core porno flick in 1968 - we saw pubes - twice! Amazingly enough it had a more coherent plot and better (looking) actors than either of the Coleman movies.

    I don't watch this stuffjust for the tits - honest!.

  10. Thunderpants
    - Funniest thing I've seen for ages that was meant to be. - Meant to be funny I mean.
  11. Oasis of the Zombies
    - dreadfully dull French movie which has 'English' students played by French actors dubbed by Americans getting eaten by Nazi Zombies somewhere in North Africa. Worse than it sounds.
  12. The Time Travelers
    - delightful little cheapo early sixties American SF quickie that almost worked. (If they had managed to loose the 'comic' it would have been a lot better.) Directed by Ib Melchior who also wrote the odd Journey to the Seventh Planet and the even odder Angry Red Planet.

    Today's gratuitous peachy bum shot.

  13. SST -Death Flight
    -(MST3K) 1970s made for TV disaster on a plane movie. Sometimes you have to wonder who wrote this shit. I mean really: disgruntled employee fills America's First Supersonic Jet Airliner's hydraulic system with 'corrosive' detergent (sic) which not only rots all the seals but then, when repairs are attempted, has managed to produce vast quantities of explosive fumes - which explode. Argh! No steering bits! Big hole in side of airyplane! Everyone does panic acting! Luckily the gallant crew (and Doug McClure) work out how to fly the plane without the steery bits - pitch is adjusted by getting the passengers to run up to the back of the plane when they want the nose to go up - and roll is produced by pumping the contents of one wing fuel tank to another. Hurray! Everyone is saved - all they have to do now is patch the drinking and toilet flushing water into the leaking hydraulic system... stop laughing at the back there - this is serious stuff! But what's that hospital like smell? Could it be the dangerous 'biological material' stored in formaldehyde (sic) loaded at the last minute and urgently on it's way to the Pasteur Institute in Paris has sprung a leak? Bugger me it has! Oh no! Everyone is being exposed to the deadly Senegal Flu! A dangerous new mutation of the virus with a death rate of 30% and an incubation period of less than just before the next commercial break! Oh, and there is no known cure. "'ello aeroplane of death, this is Paris air traffic control. Go away! We do not want you here - and we are turning off all the runway lights in case you try one of your sneaky American landings without asking things. By the way, everyone else don't want you neither... Go and crash in the Atlantic or somewhere. Nothing personal." Somehow 'London' is convinced to let the plane land. Just as the testosterone levels in the cockpit (fnaaaar!) couldn't get any higher, Doug suggests they fly to Senegal where the flu came from in the first place on the grounds that they might have the facilities to look after some rich Westerners. ("Look fellahs! Rich Westerners. Let's stop burying the thirty percent of our population that just died and look after them instead.) and not land in London where they might start a pandemic and kill lots of other Westerners. The passengers vote. To Senegal! They almost have just enough fuel... If only they can make it over this last... The plane crashes into a mountain just as Burgess Meredith is diverting bog flushing water into the flappy bits flapping system that meant they might have made it over the mountain. Crash! Everyone who hasn't died of Flu survives. Which is more than I did.
  14. Terror in the Midnight Sun
    - More 1950s, out of copyright, SF bilge. This time from Sweden. A 'meteorite' lands in Lapland. Scientist go to investigate. They ski around a lot (mostly in silhouette because it's hard to film people on vast snowfields with a very low sun. If you stand them facing the sun you see the camera's shadow on the ground. If you have them with their backs to the sun you end up with black blobs acting away on a white background - unless you have a shitload of really big lights - which these guys obviously didn't.) Reindeer are killed. An American girl is captured by a big shaggy something.

    Oh Wait - I'm Supposed To Be Terrifying?
    Oh Wait - I'm Supposed To Be Terrifying?

    She screams a lot. She meets three black garbed Aliens who say nothing. She screams a lot. A flaming torch wielding mob (on skis) corner The Thing and set it on fire. She stops screaming and falls sobbing into arms of ineffectual hero. The aliens leave in their spaceship - still without having said anything. The End (in Swedish).
  15. Hail the Conquering Hero
    - Preston Sturges.
  16. The Muppet Movie
    - Never seen it before and not as good as I was expecting - but thenThe Muppetsnever are. They're always better in the memory. I remember the TV show as being hilarious, required watching at the time, but when I actually watch an episode now (I have them all on tape) I'm always let down.
  17. At The Earth's Core
    - second Doug McClure movie of the week. In this one he's an intrepid Victorian explorer who, with professor Peter Cushing, accidentally discovers a Savage Land in the centre of the earth where hypnotic Pterodactyls enslave photogenic noble savages who just happen to speak English. Not a lot of plot but lots of fighting. See Doug fight. Fight Doug fight. Doug fights a dinosaur. Doug fights another dinosaur. Doug fights a fire breathing dinosaur. Doug fights humans. Doug fights 'Hoojah the Sly One'. Doug fights 'Jubal the Ugly One'. Doug gets 'Dia the Big Knockers' all to himself. Doug unite tribes. Tribes kill hypnodactyls. Tribes happy. Doug goes home. The end.

    You are getting sleepy... sleepy...
    I'm not hypnotising you, I'm boring you.

    The film does contain one line of sheer unadulterated moment of genius when the dottery Peter Cushing - having the time of his life hamming it up - stares a six foot rubber hypnodactyl in the face and defiantly says:
    "You can't Mesmerise me - I'm British!"
  18. Doppelgänger (aka Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun)
    - I really enjoyed this. Probably the best thing Jerry Anderson ever did - I know we're starting from a low place here but trust me on this one. Not great, but not bad, not bad at all.
  19. Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight Babylon 5: The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark
    - two made for TV (or in the latter case straight to DVD) pointless, overly-punctuatedly titled (TWO colons?), and crappily disappointing additions to the glory that was Babylon 5 (may it finally rest in pieces. You blew it up, JMS! Get over it!).
  20. The BFG
    - the kids liked it.
  21. Strictly Ballroom
    - I have a theory that really good movies should make you come out from them moving differently. You should come away from a film responding physically to the world in a way you weren't when you went in. You should come out of an Indiana Jones Errol Flynn type adventure movie with a kind of daring-do swagger, Jackie Chan movie convinced you can jump up the side of a building and then leap onto a passing bus - I come out of Strictly Ballroom dancing.
  22. The War in Space
    - After a week off from the crap SF I returned with a bang. You might not remember this, but in 1988 Earth was attacked by green-skinned aliens from their base on Venus. They would have destroyed the world if not for a valiant crew of Japanese Hero types (and a token Westerner) who saved the day by zooming around the Solar System in their super flying submarine underground drilling spaceship thingie, throwing a lot of switches in lovingly detailed close up, and blowing up just about everything in sight - including the planet Venus. Wham! Gone. Oh, and the only female member of the crew managed to get herself captured by a horny Wookiee with a big axe and a leather fetish. God I love this stuff..

1 comment:

Phoebe said...

You need a KVM switch. It allows you to have one monitor, keyboard, mouse, and however many computers. You push a button to switch computers.

KVMs = Awesome.

They make a cool little beeping sound when they switch.

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