Into Darkness

While I like the fact that the JJ Abrams movies don't take themselves too seriously, this feels like too much of a piss-take. The entire first section is stupid. Parking the Enterprise in an ocean - I mean WHAT? Scotty even tells us how stupid it is, with a nudge and a wink to the fourth wall. Not to mention all the time Spock spends violating the Prime Directive, only to turn around and berate Kirk for … violating the Prime Directive. Apparently on a scale of 0 to Interference, letting a bunch of aliens see a starship is WAAAAAY worse than stopping a volcano that would've wiped them out.

Scotty isn't the only one guilty of some fourth-wall-breaking. Kirk tells McCoy to stop speaking in metaphors, because that's basically all he does for the entire movie, with a handful of “I'm a Doctor not a …” and “Are you out of your … mind?” quips thrown in for variety. Whoever wrote McCoy's dialogue must've played a lot of #madlib

The whole reboot universe feels like the kids have been given the keys, and even when they fuck up, nobody takes the keys off them. How does 17 year old Chekov go from navigator to chief engineer? Surely Scotty had someone in Engineering who would've been a better “shadow”?! And how does Kirk get busted from Captain, back to “the Academy”, to Commander and then back to Captain, all without changing his rank slides? Not to mention the fact that Spock was a Commander the whole reboot series, whereas Kirk's gone up and down the entire rank structure from Cadet to Captain. Twice.

As expected, Spock's impersonation of either William Shatner and/or the Klingon Death Yell (take your pick) doesn't work the second time. First time around I was amused by the homage and caught up in the opening night buzz. This time it felt forced and cheesy.

And sorry, but Mr Nimoy, it's time to bow out. I don't know who planned the old-Spock cameo-and-timeline-altering-spoilers, but someone else should've stepped in and said “no, that's rubbish”.

It's still a rollicking Space Action movie, and I still love that it's in the (well, A) Star Trek universe. But it's definitely not as good as the 2009 film, and certainly doesn't maintain the “even numbers” rule.

It's a pity, because after the first one I was really hoping that this reboot would be a breath of fresh air into the Star Trek franchise. Unfortunately, a remix of The Wrath of Khan isn't really fresh air, no matter who dies and who gets the big yell …


Going (occasionally) Flash-Free on OS X

I was inspired by John Gruber's post on disabling Flash system wide, but while I did take his advice on "cheating" with Google Chrome, I am still not entirely convinced by Chrome, so it wasn't an ideal "cheat" for me.

Also, there are times when I know I'm going to be having a few flash-based sites around in background tabs (look, I play bejeweled on facebook okay), so I wanted to be able to "toggle" flash a little bit less manually than moving plugins.

Enter BASH.

if [ $# -ne $EXPECTED_ARGS ]
  echo "Usage: `basename $0` on|off"
  echo "Flash is "`defaults read com.robotapple.flashstatus FlashStatus`
  exit $E_BADARGS
DISPATH='/Library/Internet Plug-Ins (disabled)'
ENPATH='/Library/Internet Plug-Ins'
if [[ ! -d "$DISPATH" ]]
  mkdir "$DISPATH"
if [[ $1 == "on" ]]
  mv "$DISPATH/Flash Player.plugin/" "$ENPATH/"
  mv "$DISPATH/NP-PPC-Dir-Shockwave" "$ENPATH/"
  mv "$DISPATH/flashplayer.xpt" "$ENPATH/"
  defaults write com.robotapple.flashstatus FlashStatus "on"
  echo "Flash is on"
if [[ $1 == "off" ]]
  mv "$ENPATH/Flash Player.plugin/" "$DISPATH/"
  mv "$ENPATH/NP-PPC-Dir-Shockwave" "$DISPATH/"
  mv "$ENPATH/flashplayer.xpt" "$DISPATH/"
  defaults write com.robotapple.flashstatus FlashStatus "off"
  echo "Flash is off"

It's not very graceful, but it does what I want it to do. Feel free to steal, modify, judge me on my lack of BASH skills, or just save into an executable file and "flash on" or "flash off" on the command line.


So recently I was talked into spending yet more money on headphones. This time it was primarily for my Xbox. I opted for the Astro A-40 Audio System, replete with Penny-Arcade Cardboard Tube Samurai tags. I also decided to get custom tags made up, with my "Cowboy" logo from my Halo 3 team.

In use they are pretty amazing. They sound great, and the simple ability to have in-game sound and Xbox Live chat through the same headset is such a benefit. While I haven't really put the "Dolby Surround" part of the system through a serious test, the audio quality coming through is very, very nice and very detailed. Unfortunately it doesn't make me a better Halo player, just means I get a little more auditory warning before dying like a chump.

The biggest downside: cable spaghetti. Mini USB and TOSLINK optical from the back of my Xbox to the Mixamp. That I can deal with. But then I have a wire from the Mixamp to my headset (understandable, and plenty long enough) and a wire from the Mixamp to my Xbox controller for the chat integration. This is the single most frustrating thing of the entire system. Every cable that Astro supplies is ridiculously long, except the Mixamp-controller link, which is so frustrating. Because of this one cable, I have to basically take the Mixamp from next to the Xbox and have it on the floor/table within arms reach. Most annoying. But this was something I knew about before I bought it, and seemed a better alternative after reading some of the reviews of the wireless solutions.

In short, fairly expensive and, sure, maybe a little overpriced-stuff-white-gamers-like ... but I like them. A lot.