I'm Bryan Price "The Southern Programmer". I'm a Software Engineer for 3-GIS. I enjoy computers, running, video games, and Alabama Football (Roll Tide!). I'm a home theater enthusiast and love science fiction, comics, and all kinds of other geeky stuff.
In a previous post I talked about how gender and race swapping for characters sometimes bothers me. Upon further observation, I think it’s more of an OCD type of flaw in me. After seeing the new Fantastic Four trailer, I feel like all is right with the world. It’s awesomeness has trumped my OCD. And my OCD has subsided, I think it’s good that we are changing things up a bit. We can’t continue to have the same exact story brought to the screen with new reboots and reinterpretations.
But now the Ghostbusters will be women! For shame! I hope you detected the sarcasm there. From the sounds of it the Ghostbuster’s reboot will be similar only in name. Yes there will be four leads that are going to have comedic roles, but it sounds like the filmmakers are also going to try to be genuinely scary as well. I see no problems with this new version of Ghostbusters, I only wish I could have a true continuation of the original story. The best I have is a video game, which I must admit was pretty fantastic.
For years I thought it’d be very convenient to be able to look down at my wrist when I’m getting a phone call or a message to see who was calling me or the message being sent. I think that’s a great idea. But you know what’s not convenient? If you guessed charging another device daily, you read my mind.
Apple is releasing it’s first smart watch as a response to Android Wear (Google’s watch platform for third party watch makers). Apple, as always, has created both the hardware and software for the watch (as opposed to Google’s approach of just creating the software). Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is saying that Apple’s watch battery will last all day before needing to be recharged. But according to 9To5Mac, the battery could die after 2.5 hours of heavy usage.
The other reason I’m interesting in a wearable device is that I am a runner. I have been since high school. And though I’ve been slacking a little in the past few years, I hope to get back to the prime directive of boldly burning those calories. Fitness tracking is an import feature for me. Many of my friends have the Jawbone Up wrist band to track fitness data. Jawbone is advertising that their new Jawbone UP3 (release date still unknown) will track the following things:
Sleep (REM, deep, light)
Resting Heart Rate (I’ve read active heart rate may come later)
Hydration level (coming soon)
Additionally, in their phone application you can manually log weight, caloric intake and mood. It can also connect to your phone with apps like run keeper to log GPS information. It also sports a smart alarm that can wake you at an optimal moment in your sleep cycle.
While the Jawbone UP3 seems like it will be a great device, it doesn’t have the kind of notifications that a smart watch has. Additionally, if active heart rate is added, I’m guessing it can only be viewed via their phone application (due to the device’s lack of display). But the device should have a week of battery life.
The Apple Watch can track the number of steps you’ve taken, whether you’ve been standing or sitting, and the number of calories you’ve burned. It uses its very own accelerometer, heart rate sensor, and your iPhone’s GPS to track this data. It can also sets goals based on the data it collects. It does a decent subset of the things the UP3 will do, but you can’t do sleep tracking because you’ll be charging the device every night.
There is another big player when it comes to fitness devices and that is Fitbit. Their Fitbit Surge watch can track the following things.
GPS position (with no phone)
Heart rate (active or resting)
Additionally the Fitbit Surge also has a silent alarm and has a companion app that ties the whole experience together and gives additional value with the ability to manually track weight and caloric intake. But there’s more. This device is a watch that gives notifications on phone call and text messages. It also lets you control your music. Oh, and without GPS turned on, you can get up to a week of battery.
There’s one more device that I’d like to talk about quickly here. It’s the Pebble Time. As you can see it looks very similar to the sport edition of the Apple Watch. It has no fitness tracking capabilities, but it should be great at giving notifications. It sports a color e-ink display that is gorgeous. And because of that display type, the screen is always on and the battery life is a week. It has a great interface that is solely based on time. One of the cool features is that you can make voice replies via a built in microphone. If I only cared about getting notifications, this would be the device for me. Check out their Kickstarter Page.
I have not included Android Wear devices in this blog post because I no longer have an Android based phone. But to me, they have been a bit underwhelming. But here is a link for completeness.
Out of the devices that I researched, my favorite was the Fitbit Surge. It has an awesome battery life with the features I care the most about. But I’m definitely going to wait until after the Apple Watch is released before I make a decision on a wearable. I may even wait until the second generation Apple Watch is released to make a decision.
Or I may wait for the Nike Band that will tell you why you’re running.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see a documentary coming to fruition that focuses on the detrimental effects caused by the world’s view of masculinity. We’ve seen many documentaries similar to this for women, but sometimes we forget to analyze these sort of things for men.
I can remember wanting to die when I was a child due to the pressure of my peers (seriously, there were thoughts of suicide). I was the awkward smart kid who needed a little work on his social skills. I can remember being lured into a fight once because I didn’t want to be seen as weak. I can remember being called ‘fag’, ‘goomer’, ‘pussy’ and ever other word you can think of that kills self esteem. I can definitely relate to the premise of this documentary and I cannot wait to watch it.
As you may know, I recently helped produce a short film called Snow: Dark Days. It’s purpose is to bring hype and attention to obtain investors for the motion picture Snow. The Director/Creator Jason Hough is looking for funding and if you know any business people in Alabama that may want to help fund this adventure please contact Jason Hough. He just posted this to Snow’s Facebook page.
Recently I had the pleasure of being involved in a music video shoot for Jonathan Strickland, a rapper from Huntsville, AL. He’s very talented and in his song Hope Cityhe makes several references to comics and pop culture. Specifically, he references Tony Stark, Michael Scott, Superman, Pepper Potts, Bruce Wayne, Bane, Killer Croc and Wolverine. Strickland is down to earth, super nice, and knows how to work a crowd.
Strickland (pictured right) outside "The DeeP Comics" in Huntsville during national Comic Book Day.
The organizer of the music video shoot is a good friend of mine whom I met at National Free Comic Book Day this year at The DeeP. When I first met Jason, he was taking video asking people who they were cosplaying as and why they were there (and everyone would obviously say “free comics”)1. It was a promotional video for The DeeP. When he released the promotional video he added in Strickland’s song Hope City. Strickland liked the video so much he asked Hough about shooting a music video for him to help promote his music.
Hough responded with something extraordinary. He had recently met Santiago Cirilo (Julio from The Walking Dead) at a convention. He was able to get Cirilo to agree to be in the music video.
Santiago Cirilo (left) and Jason Hough (right)
Securing Santiago was only one piece of the puzzle. Hough had already worked out a great premise but he needed a good supporting cast. The premise was simple: there is a zombie outbreak at a comic convention. So a call went out over the internet for cosplayers and zombies. By having Santiago involved, excitement was increased and participation was high.
The music video was shot in two afternoons and while I was there I met some great new friends. Everyone acting in this video really got into it. On night one, I was dressed as V for Vendetta and during one of the shots a zombie girl was so intensely acting that she actually ripped my pants. Luckily my pants stayed together (for the most part) until I got to my car to change into some others.
On night two I dressed as Smallville’s Clark Kent and I got the opportunity to get zombified.
By the time the night two was over, we all felt like a bunch of Zombies. Even Santiago. But I wouldn’t trade in the experience on anything.
In the past I’ve talked about the return of the 60’s Batman and the return of your favorite characters from Ghostbuster’s in the form of comics. In the future, I’d like to talk about the resurrection of the 80s Battlestar Galactica (yes there is a comic!).
Today I’m talking about the fan made web series called Star Trek Continues. This is a continuation of Star Trek TOS (the original series). I’m not sure where on the internet I found this series, but I’m really glad that I did. The quality of this production is top notch.
Admittedly, I’ve only seen the vignettes and the first episode “Pilgrim of Eternity”. The sets and the color palette of the show match up perfectly with the original series. They even shot the show in a 4:3 ratio.
Captain Kirk is played by Vic Mignogna, the producer of the show. Most of this is paid for out of Vic’s own pocket. Because these are fan films, they can’t make a profit off of this show, which is a pity, because they are awesome! Vic’s acting skills are decent, he’s no Shatner, but I’d love to shake this man’s hand for the awesome work he’s done on this show!
Spock is played by Todd Haberkorn. Haberkorn is known for a couple of anime films and also played a Police Officer in 2009’s The Collector. He is very good at portraying our emotionless friend.
Dr. Elise MacKennah
Michele Specht plays this new character who is the ship’s counselor. She does a wonderful job of being a lovely lady aboard a star ship surrounded by a bunch of dudes. It’s good to see some estrogen added to this cast. Michele is known to Sci-Fi fans as insane bounty hunter Red in “Fallout: Nuka Break”, and as Betty the Manipulation Core in the Portal-based “Aperture R&D”.
Chuck Huber plays McCoy in the vignettes and in the third episode and after watching the vignettes, I think he’s a better fit for the role.
Grant Imahara plays the part of Sulu. If he looks familiar, it’s because he’s on Mythbusters. His accent seems a little pushed, but he’s a pretty good Sulu.
Kim Stinger plays the role of Uhura. Her version of Uhura isn’t quite as proper as the original, but I’d say that is a good thing. She also played Uhura in Star Trek New Voyages, another continuation fan series.
Wyatt Lenhart plays the part of Chekov. After looking at his IMDB profile, it looks like this the only work he’s done. Does he sound Russian? Yes. Is he young? Yes. Sign him up! I think he does a fantastic job.
With the introduction of the cast and crew out of the way, I’d like to introduce you to the show by this great interview that I found.
So admittedly, I’d never actually been to a geek convention until this event. I think the Alabama Phoenix Festival was a great convention to start with. The girlfriend and I got ourselves a day pass for Saturday (05-31-2014) and it’s a day neither of us will forget. The convention isn’t so large that it’s extremely overwhelming, and there was enough cool stuff there to keep you interested. I packed a backpack with water, snacks, and deodorant. These things are essential for conventions!
Downstairs there was a room stacked full of tables where all types of artists and vendors were selling things. It was awesome seeing all of the talent that this convention brought together. I saw a 60’s bat-mobile toy that was pretty fantastic. It was 80 bucks. I salivated over it for a little while and then continued on. I then saw some walking dead sketches that I almost couldn’t resist. And then I saw these prints of Flying Monkeys. I don’t know exactly why I was drawn to them, but they are one of the coolest things I saw at the convention. I’m now the proud owner of these two prints! The artist’s name is Bryan Crowson and you can check out more of his work at facebook.com/ArtbyBryanCrowson. He will even draw you as one of your favorite comic book heroes!
Also downstairs there were other cool things like a full size T.A.R.D.I.S. (they say it was bigger on the inside, but the door was locked), Oculus Rift goggles, a “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” arcade game, and most importantly a working replica of the Millennium Falcon Cockpit! Being at the right place at the right time landed 3 pictures of myself on AL.com. Make sure you check out AL.com’s coverage and photos of the Phoenix Festival. Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
That pretty much sums up the awesomeness that was the show floor! Now on to the panels.
How to Write YA (Young Adult)
Admittedly, I didn’t know if I was going to like this panel. I’ve always thought it’d be neat to write a book, but it’s never been something I’ve ever really been ultra motivated to do. I love writing blog posts about geeky things, and I promise I will continue to do so. But you never know, maybe one day I’ll write a book. We walked in a little late to this panel because google maps decided to start drinking the night before and continue all the way through the morning.
This panel was full of women varying in age from mid-twenties to thirties with maybe an outlier or two. It was refreshing to see so many strong empowered women in a room talking about the thing they love. Here are some of the things that were discussed while we were in the panel:
That’s correct folks, the picture of me in the millenium falcon is from a project where fans are building a full scale Millenium Falcon! I was surprised to find out that this project is happening practically in my back yard in Madison, AL. The goal of this project is simple, build a full scale replica of the Millenium Falcon as depicted in The Empire Strikes Back. Sounds easy right? Yea, I didn’t think so either.
You may not know this but there are many discrepancies in the falcon’s layout throughout the films. Discrepancies vary from the angle at which the falcon’s ramp opens to problems with the cockpit itself. That being said, compromises have to be made.
The guys talked about meeting Adam Savage from Mythbusters when Savage was touring Huntsville. Savage loved the cockpit, and it wasn’t even in as nice a shape as it was in for the Phoenix Festival. Savage was kind enough to sign the console.
The cockpit they have so far is only version 1.5. They are doing a lot of things to improve the build quality. It almost seems like a shame due to all of the hard work they’ve put into this thing. But they assured me that it will be much easier since they now have a Fab Lab.
From Josh Mason comes a Star Wars fan film about Star Wars where there are Star Wars related memes, Star Wars styled costumes, Star Wars style fighting, and most importantly lightsabers!
Josh Mason is a director that lives in Covington, TN right outside of Memphis. He directs many amateur films. Apparently everyone in his town seems to know about him. He talked about the cops coming out to the shoot after someone spotted them. They thought they were in some kind of trouble, but the cops simply showed up to watch.
This film was hard to follow due to bad speaker levels in the theater. The music track had a much higher volume than the dialog track. This film was still fun to watch. It came in at roughly 26 mins and was by no means a masterpiece. It did look like they had a lot of fun making this film. When you have no budget, what do you expect? At least they are doing something they love!
It was a little hard to hear in the stage room, so I’ll spare you my recollection of my waning memory of what I did catch during this panel. Hopefully they will have the podcast up soon so you can listen to it in its entirety. Listen on iTunes or via the Forum. Or you can just listen to episode sixteen right here:
A little after this panel, you could actually see a screening of Ghostbusters with the Alabama Ghostbusters. I believe they were adding in extra bits of interesting information about the movie during the screening.
Additionally, you could visit Oak Hill Cemetery as ghost hunters did a paranormal investigation.
The Golden Age of Science Fiction
I don’t know what to really say about this panel except that I wished I had gone to the Avengers Assemble panel instead. I feel like I would have enjoyed this a little more had Cadotte not been the only person on the panel of two talking. The only other person really talking was in the audience. I did some investigative work by doing some Facebook surfing and found it was his wife. She was totally a plant!
The panel was suppose to be a bit more diverse. But the lady that was slated to be on the panel was no where to be found. There was some other man that was on the panel that is not listed in the schedule book.
I did learn that the golden age was from the 30s to the 60s and some things in that time period shouldn’t be considered Golden Age. One such exception is Dune because it is so much richer than golden age style science fiction. Science fiction throughout most of this time was primarily available in magazines. Because of this, the stories seemed to be very sinusoidal with many ups and downs.
I did make a mental note to read Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. If I got anything out of this panel it’s that I definitely need to read that.
During the Arrow season finale, which by the way was AWESOME, the CW played a first look trailer for The Flash. We are in the golden age of television! There are so many good shows, it is hard to keep up with them all. I later found a five minute trailer for The Flash.