Things To Do In Philly When The Internet Goes Down.

You never really understand how much of your life is dependent upon the internet until it’s not there anymore.

For almost a month, my internet has been suffering drop outs and sluggish speeds. It’s been a nightmare for which I’ve been preparing a long vengeful blog post that, because of outlandish accusations and rough profanity, will probably never be published in it’s entirety.

We did find productive things to do around the house while the internet was down. Sunglasses are now required in the bathroom because the bathtub sparkles so brightly! 😎

In our downtime we caught a few good movies, some of which I share with you here.

I happened to catch a late night broadcast of Crime and Punishment (1935) starring Peter Lorre, on GetTV (one of the myriad broadcast movie channels that have been popping up lately.) I’ve never seen this early adaptation. Lorre is brilliant. Strangely enough, this version is not available on Netflix but it is available in it’s entirety on Youtube.

“The story goes that Peter Lorre wanted to star in the film version of the Dostoyevsky novel, but was certain that Columbia Pictures chieftain Harry Cohn would turn the project down. So Lorre hired a secretary to type up a synopsis of the story in words of one syllable then submitted this simplified resume to Cohn. Enthusiastic over the project, Cohn gave Lorre the go-ahead — but first he asked “Tell me —  has this book got a publisher?”” – Hal Erickson (Rovi)

Whether true or not, that rumor makes for good entertainment.

Here’s the movie, in it’s entirety. Bookmark it. Save it for when you’re looking for something good to watch.

Out of the Furnace (2013) stars Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker and Casey Afleck (yes, THAT Afleck). When police stop looking for his missing veteran brother, Russell Baze takes matters into his own hands.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but clearly not anything as deep and thoughtful as this flick turned out to be. It’s slow to unfold but it’s good story telling. Woody Harrelson is creepy as hell.

While we’re on the subject of Christian Bale… If you haven’t seen American Hustle (2013), put it on your list. it’s a great piece of entertainment that’s loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s. I don’t know why people love to hate this film so much. I enjoyed it. The clothes and the cars alone gave me flashbacks.

Warm Bodies (2013) A zombie saves a teenager. They fall in love and save the world. What’s not to love? Even the Romeo and Juliet references that get shamelessly thrown in your face didn’t manage to ruin the film for me. It’s cheesy, pop corn chomping fun.

The Call (2013) How can you go wrong with Halle Berry? A 911 operator gets a call from a kidnapped teen. This is a joyride movie! It had me shouting at the screen.

The 2014 Robocop reboot was a lot better than I had expected. It’s still silly and a bit of a stretch for suspension of disbelief, but it was good entertainment. Perhaps I’m just a little biased. I’ve been a huge fan of Gary Oldman since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, one of my all time favorite films.

I started following Simon Pegg on twitter long before I learned of his incredible career as an actor/writer/comedian. Seriously, I had no idea. That was almost four years ago. Since then I’ve gotten all caught up. I’ve enjoyed him in everything from Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Star Trek and everything in between. On Monday night we had the pleasure of watching A Fantastic Fear of Everything. It’s about a crime writer whose research has turned him into a paranoid mess. It’s a little strange but bizarrely funny. Pegg spends half of the movie in his underwear chasing his imagination. The running gag is incredibly funny.

Thankfully, our internet trouble has been dealt with. Everything is running smoothly. We sacrificed a goat and danced around in circles naked while singing the alphabet song backwards. That seemed to have appeased the internet gods. …for now. 😉

Bonus Material…

Everything Wrong With Robocop (1987) in 7 Minutes or Less. by CinemaSins

 And finally…

Simon Pegg rapping old school style in ‘A Fantastic Fear of Everything

Oh, fair warning. The following clip is probably not safe for work.

 

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Why Does This Smell Like A Hoax To Me?

Did you hear the one about the guy who recorded his telephone conversation with a distraught cable provider representative who pleaded with him to keep his business?

I saw it on the internet, so it must be true!

I’ve been on the phone with cable, phone, internet, credit card, and myriad other companies and I can assure you that no telephone operator has ever held me on the line for twenty minutes. Ever! It’s a waste of their time. …and yes, you do have to return their equipment in person. It’s stupid, but thems the rules.

PLUS…  Those conversations are “recorded for quality assurances”.

 

Other things about this call bother me…

  • Block strings this guy along rather than finding ways to end the call. After three minutes, any normal person would have asked for a supervisor.
  • The representative is emotional and stumbles through the conversation. No representative I’ve ever talked with was that emotionally invested in our conversation.
  • Why is he recording this in the first place? – Sorry, I don’t buy the “I started recording after ten minutes” story.

UPDATE: Since writing this story, Comcast announced an apology to Ryan Block, who claims to be an AOL VP,  for the representative’s aggressiveness. There’s no further information available about the fate of the operator. Apparently, Comcast isn’t contesting the validity of the call. I imagine it would be a public relations nightmare to do so.

The bottom line is that I still don’t have enough information to remove doubt. Even if the call is real, the fact remains that Block used the representative for his own private game which, to me, puts as much of the responsibility on him. I’m not defending Comcast. They and Verizon have all but created a monopoly in the market. Sure, there’s TWC and a few other small companies. But the biggest share is Comcast and Verizon.

In the big scheme of things, this is just light entertainment for me.

What do you guys think? Is that call real? Fake?

Do you even care?

The New Technology Blues

NOTE: I’ve been with Virgin Mobile for about a decade. I resisted cell phones for a long time. The truth is, I don’t like talking on the phone. I never did. So, for me, a cell phone was a waste of money. It was my boss who suggested I get one. My responsibilities had just increased and well, with increased responsibilities come even more responsibilities. I chose Virgin because they were the cheapest. At the time it was $20 a month Vs $80 for the other major carriers. – You do the math.

The old boy (left) is dwarfed by the new improved model. :\

The old boy on the left is dwarfed by the new improved, I can’t live without it, model. :\

So I just upgraded my phone…

There was nothing wrong with my old one, really. It was only two years old. It’s got a few dings and scratches, but it works just fine.

Perhaps that was the problem. It only worked “just fine”. It was a fine mid-range smartphone for someone like me, who had not yet immersed himself fully into the Android OS.

I blame my e-reader.

A year before buying my smartphone, I bought a nifty little e-reader tablet for a hundred bucks. It was my very first Android device. This puppy had a resistive touch screen, which meant I had to press it to get it to respond. It was the early days of Android tablets. I didn’t know any better.

Within a year I had had enough of the resistive screen. I was tweeting heavily by then, and a resistive screen is just… no. So I saved my pennies and as luck would have it, Tiger Direct and Amazon were competing to see who could offer me the best deal on a new tablet.

Now I had this sweet tablet, with an operating system that I was slowly getting accustomed to, that was supplementing my PC nicely.

If only my cell phone was just as useful.

I had this little “feature phone” which was fine for texting, email, and even twitter, but I couldn’t follow many of the news feeds I was reading on a regular basis. And forget blogging.

Luck smiled upon me again. Radio Shack offered up a “fine mid-range smartphone for someone like me” at reasonable price.

I really did like this small, unassuming phone. I could read my books, magazines, and most of the news feeds I like. It was a little workhorse. 

Then, about a year ago, I started running out of space. I moved as many of the apps onto the SD card as I could, but I was still finding I had to chose between Angry Birds and Twitter. “Oh, the humanity!”

The writing was on the wall.

So I had this two year old phone that still worked, but I’d outgrown it. I made the decision last April to shop for something a little better. I even considered leaving Virgin. – That lasted all of two days; the length of time it took me to realize that I really didn’t want to spend more than $50 a month.

I started saving my pennies again. Virgin had just lowered the price of one of their smartphones, but a little voice in my head asked if I really wanted to “settle” for something I’d probably outgrow in a year. So I waited. …and kept saving those pennies.

A month later, Virgin added the Galaxy S3 to their line-up. It was twice what I wanted to spend. Should I wait? If I wait, maybe the price will come down. But by then, something better might come along.

What to do.

The deciding factor was Amazon. They dropped the price by $50 AND… if you apply for an Amazon credit card, you get another fifty bucks off. Woohoo! The Gods had smiled down upon me once again. Where do I sign?

So now I have this great new phone. It’s fast. It’s powerful. It’s pretty. I love it!

Do you think I should upgrade my tablet?