Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm sorry, did you have a question?

This country has finally managed to elect a president who is somewhat trendy and has the ability to operate electronic devices. He listens to you. He actually wants to make good choices to improve your various shitty situations. Starting with a really badly broken health care system.

So what do you do when given the chance to ask questions about his plans for health care? Throw out insults. Mock your fellow Americans. Drop sneers about North Korea. I even caught some remarks about "missing birth certificates".

You can see for yourself but comments are now disabled (which is a real shame). The original video was posted to get a conversation going about health care so that we (as Americans) could trade thoughts on how to improve things.

I want to be angry with my fellow countrymen right now, but I don't have it in me. I think I am more disparaged than anything else. It's sad to think that this country is so bitter, and angry that they can't imagine it's possible to fix or change anything.

I'm reminded of a ReHaB song, "Drinkin' Again" which I wish I could share through a web link. It's just not a popular song. I will just quote it for the benefit of those who haven't had 'the pleasure'.

Looking for things to do to pass the time between birth
And becoming part of the earth
Working, playing and laying, staring, comparing
That over there to this
I'm blaming those in charge cause after all there's nothing else to do
Money pays for things that don't really belong to you

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Film Review: The Hangover

My wife and I went for a late showing of this film and we knew we were in for a treat. As the previous show ended and people walked out of the theater, they were all laughing. An older woman said "that was a little too over the top at times". Another older guy said "I don't know that I could recommend this film to many people". That was not a slam on the film, but rather an acknowledgment that recommending this film to friends might tarnish his intellectual reputation. Again, we were expecting fun.

This film seemed to have just the right balance of characters for a comedy. You had the protagonist played by Justin Bartha who is probably best known for a bit part in the National Treasure movies. There was Ed Helms, a former Daily Show correspondent. There was Bradley Cooper who will probably never live down his awesome role as the bully douche-bag boyfriend of Rachel McAdams in Wedding Crashers. And then there was the accidental star of this film, Zach Galifianakis.

Without dropping any spoilers, here is roughly what goes down. The protagonist, "Doug" is getting married and he decides to take his two friends and his fiances brother (Zach G.) on a bachelor party trip to Vegas. The story moves pretty quickly to get us to the party which oddly never takes place for the viewer. They start drinking on the roof of a hotel, and through the magic of film we are fast forwarded to the following morning. This is unheard of in a raunchy bachelor comedy because surely the best jokes would occur while everyone is hammered and things are getting out of control, right? Wrong! Funnier, would be to have these characters trying to figure out just what the hell happened the night before. At this point, Bradly Coopers character "Phil" now becomes the protagonist who leads the three man pack on a journey to retrace their steps and try to find their missing friend (who, by the way, is due at his wedding tomorrow morning).

While better jokes may have been written for that 'heat of the disaster moment' they weren't needed to support this film. The cast did an excellent job of reacting to the events that are unfolding, and to each other. Zach G. who is the undisputed king of awkward physical comedy does well to keep everyone else on the set reacting. I have seen several comedies in my time where I had to think that the funniest stuff on the film happened off camera, or when the actors just did what they wanted with the material and the director cut it out. With this comedy, I had to believe some of the dialogue was improvised with the cameras on (Zach G. makes several comments about children which leave everyone else cringing). Kudos to the director for letting comedy unfold while the cameras kept rolling. You may know another of his films which had that same flavor, it was called "Old School". If you look quick, you will catch him playing a bit part in this film as the weird guy in the elevator going down on his girlfriend.

The best way to enjoy this film is to walk in knowing nothing about the story other than what I have told you and what you see in the trailer. And congratulations to the director for figuring out how to put the funniest part of the film into the credits. A sure way to get people to leave the theater laughing.

I give this one an A, and you probably will too.

The Worlds First "Mobile Device" Automobile

If you watch TV (at all) you have surely been treated to a commercial for the all new Nissan Cube. This car has all the characteristics of a phone or an MP3 player, but you can drive it places. The advertising campaign definitely shows us that there is a new generation of people buying cars, and they need to be sold on the "cool factor".

This is nothing new. Toyota motors has tried this with their new line called the Scion which has proved pretty successful with the younger car buyer. Build a car that can only be described as stylish, and hip, and then blitz the media with flashy advertising. It works for phones and MP3 players, why not a car?

So what makes the new Nissan Cube so cool exactly? Mostly, it's all in the accessorizing. Of course you are going to get airbags, a decent stereo, and a nice brake system. But the extras include aluminum alloy wheels (optional), a stereo upgrade (optional), and a bluetooth option for your phone and MP3 player (optional). Other fun "factory" options include some interior lighting which can be changed depending on your mood. How about a ring of fuzzy shag carpet on your dash (this is a "soft grip" to hang onto loose objects while you drive around)? This car even comes equipped with a ticket holder, which is basically a rubber band stretched over flat plastic in the door. Ho-hum.

But the first, and probably the last thing, you will notice about this car is it's bizarre back end. Nissan decided to go anti-symmetrical and totally wreck the rear of this car with a one sided wrap-around. People aren't quite sure what to make of this, and it will likely end up being a trend that we all laugh at 30 years from now. What excited me about it, was that my wife suggested it might be a wrap around back seat (like a corner-fitting living room sofa). It was enough to get me to go to the website. But then I could see that it's just a regular bench style two-seater that folds down (they claim it seats three ... but you would have to have small friends). Which is good. Because after you have bought this car and driven your friends around in it a couple of times, the novelty wears off an you will be folding those seats down to make room for groceries and wishing you had bought a vehicle with a trunk.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I really want to write a TV show. Or a movie. Of course, nobody would want to put money into it except for me because I think it would be awesome. I have had this idea for a show about career criminals. A pack of nerds with varying skill levels. A group of guys who met up in college and then dropped out of college and started up a business in corporate espionage.

I actually wrote about three quarters of an episode in script form at some point. I just poured out all these thoughts I had. Now, I have no idea what happened to it. It was a plain text document stored somewhere on my desktop PC or my laptop (both of which have been reloaded several times over). But I still have it in my head I suppose.

I should really just start blogging this stuff so it's not entirely lost. Also - so I can come back and read it several years later and have a good laugh about what a terrible idea it was.


Wait - What? No, no. That's a typo. That should read "rebirth". I'll fix that later. Welcome back to the new What is ODDREE? It was a magazine. I say that it was a magazine simply because it's literally been years since I was working on a new issue and I doubt I will ever write that "issue 3" that I had planned.

Since the closing of the second issue I have sunk my good hard earned money into keeping this domain name and website alive, while not really having any idea what to do with it. This is actually a routine for me. I register a site to feed some stupid idea that I have, then I abandon it, then I try to reinvent it somehow years later when nobody visits the site any more.

What will I do with it now? I would like to use it as a place to post stupid ideas that I have. Most of my ideas never actually amount to a "project" because I either get bored with it, or I decide not to waste the money on it. Traditionally I put crap like this into a Blog post - or bury the idea all together.

This reinvention is designed in part to encourage comments, feedback, and support from you. That's right. I want you to be on board for this idiotic ride toward the bitter end of You can start by commenting on ... this post! Makeover

ODDREE magazine has long been abandoned and probably is not coming back any time soon (if ever). Rather than let the web site sit around in a broken state I have decided to merge it with my Blog. Then at least if someone visits the site, they can see that I am still alive. Also - because I am lazy and I will probably never write another issue, this is a way for me to keep the spirit of the magazine alive in "blog"-format. I will still post stupid ramblings about my life here for those who are interested(?). But I will also be posting clippings here that I would otherwise withhold for a dead magazine. I hope you enjoy this new format.

Also I started writing up something nice to post here as a notice of "rebirth" but it's on my laptop and it's incomplete. I will post that later.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Time Warners Customer Service Sucks

I hate that my favorite channel, G4, looks like utter shit on my uber high quality HDTV. I pay all sorts of money to have the benefits of a digital signal broadcast in "true HD" so that I can watch CNN with borders ("this is HD!") and reruns of friends with black stripes down the side. Awesome.

So far, the only show I have watched that was actually recorded and broadcast in HD is American Idol. And I hate American Idol.

Filing a complaint with Time Warner is hopeless. Even if you get to that "I'm canceling my service" point, they really, REALLY, don't give a fuck. That said, I sent them an angry note about how shitty G4 looks.

Category of Your Question: Cable/Video Questions
Comment/Question: Why does G4 look like crap? It's the only channel I tune into religiously, and
it's a total waste of a digital box. I don't expect HD quality, but this station comes in like it
was filtered through an 8-bit game system. When there are close-ups of hosts, their freckles and
pimples seem to scatter around on their faces.

I realize that you are Time Warner, and this is a Comcast channel. But you can't tell me that they
send the feed to you in this condition.

And the awesome reply that I got back:
Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable Email Support.

I understand that the picture quality of the G4 channel is not as desired.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

I do understand your concern and will address the issue to the best of my ability.

I do under the frustration and be rest assured that the G4 being a Comcast channel has nothing to do
with the picture quality.

I have checked the signal strength of the cable modem. The signal strengths are within our
acceptable levels.

I have refreshed the signals from our end. Please reset the cable box (digital receiver). To reset
your digital receiver, unplug the power supply from the back of the receiver for at least 30
seconds. This will force the receiver to reset. If this does not resolve your issue please let us
know and we will be happy to assist you in any way possible.

We value you as a customer.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to E-mail us again or contact our
Live Chat at the following link:

Customer Support is available 24/7.


Time Warner Cable Online Customer Service

The only element of this email that wasn't form-letter driven was the badly written part that needs a fucktard translator to fully understand: "I do under the frustration and be rest assured that the G4 being a Comcast channel has nothing to do with the picture quality".

Customer service for cable companies these days is a fucking joke. It's like the old character that Lily Tomlin used to do - "we don't care, we don't have to, we're the phone company". Direct TV has a good thing going with all the brainless CEO's sitting around the board room table talking about how they can get rid of angry customers, or confuse them to keep them around.

Monday, June 22, 2009


What do you do with an outdated Internet Appliance (the 3-Com Audrey) that no longer has purpose? You turn it into a "fail machine", of course.

We had tossed this idea around the office of having some sort of machine with big buttons on it that we could press any time someone makes a costly or stupid mistake. The buttons would trigger sound effects. Basically, we wanted a public soundboard. But making a soundboard in Flash and emailing it around the office is just not acceptable. We needed a geekier solution.

Here is what I ended up with:

The Audrey has a pretty lousy looking display, but it is a touch screen. So I created the application with four great big pushable buttons.

1) Keyboard Cat - This plays the world renowned "play him off, keyboard cat" jingle. This may be used either when someone leaves our department, or is asked to leave.

2) The Price is Right - This is the losing trumpet sound that the show is famous for. We play this sound quite a bit to signify a minor failure. Now it's always at arms reach.

3) We'll do it live! - Any large project project involves a test system. Then you end up with a test server (or test database) and a production server (or production database). We found that any time we are referring to making changes to the live production stuff, we couldn't resist saying "WE'LL DO IT LIVE!". Now, there's a button for that.

4) EPIC FAIL! - When someone screws up so very, very, badly (never me)... it can only be described as an "EPIC FAIL". This was a tough sound clip to find, but it's totally worth it.

The hardest thing about this project was learning how to build applications in "PhAb", aka the Photon Application Builder for the QNX Operating System. For that matter - finding a really old version of the QNX Operating System (version 6.0) would be difficult too ... but I happened to have it in my collection of obsolete operating systems. I had planned on installing this to a virtual machine only to find that the old OS didn't support modern processors. Yes, it's *that* old. I ended up borrowing an old P3 Dell that was on death row to use as my platform.

I had built a similar application for my Audrey many years ago that just launched a few commonly used applications so that I could use it as a simple jukebox in my kitchen. But that was at least 5 years ago, and my memory went blank when I start up the PhAb program.

There were other complications too, such as the lack of a "play sound" ability within the code. I ended up using the native media player for QNX, called "phplay". But then phplay would stay running after it's done playing a music file. In the end, each button triggers a shell execution of something like "phplay -Si failbutton1.mp3 & sleep 31 && slay phplay". This says "play a sound clip" and simultaneously "wait until it's done (30+ seconds)", then "find and kill the phplay application". The "-Si" switch tells phplay to play from the system tray and not pop up in it's application window form.

What I ended up with ... is an over-complicated soundboard. But if you should ever want your own fail machine, and you happen to own a 3-Com Audrey, I am sharing my code with you. You can download this mess from here.

Happy hacking. Now, play me off Keyboard Cat.