Happy Independence Day!

I know I shared this clip last year, but I’m sharing it again not only for it’s awesomeness but for what it represents–a leader who is willing to fight alongside his people, who shows that he has no intention of asking them to do something that he isn’t willing to do himself. A modern-day Aragorn, a foreshadowing of Captain Kirk–I guess I’ve always admired the leaders who stand up and say, “Follow me.”

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Jedi vs. Sith Part Two

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how I was playing Star Wars: The Old Republic and comparing my Jedi and Sith characters. In that post I remarked that I felt the Jedi was the stronger of the two characters based on how the fighting style seemed more focused and controlled. Well, I think I’ve changed my mind.

After I wrote the original post, I eventually finished the class stories for my Jedi Consular and Sith Inquisitor and also played as a Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior. And after finishing all four of the Force-wielding classes, I have to say that the Sith get better everything–better stories, better companions, better music, etc. The Jedi are definitely the better fighters, but their stories just seem so bland when compared to their Sith counterparts. Of course, it could be that I found the Sith stories more compelling because I wasn’t strictly dark side with them; I made a lot of light side choices that added a certain amount of nuance to the overall plot whereas I was pretty much straight light side with the Jedi. But on the whole the Sith characters just came across as so much more interesting.

Just how interesting did I find the Sith? I played through the Warrior story twice, once as a marauder and once as a juggernaut. To be perfectly honest, though, I did think the Jedi Knight story was just about on an even keel with the Sith Warrior story in terms of quality. In fact, after playing all of the Force-wielding classes, I began to think the Jedi Consular story was pretty boring, which made me a little sad because the Consular was the first character I ever created. At the time it was utterly fascinating, but compared with the other stories, it ends up a bit underwhelming. So in a way, it’s kind of interesting to see how a couple extra years in the game have changed my opinion of it.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden”

I originally hadn’t planned on writing a review of this 1979 serial, but it surprised me by going in an entirely different direction than I had expected. Featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Lalla Ward as Romana, and David Brierly as the voice of K-9, “Nightmare of Eden” starts off with a standard ships-in-space-are-in-trouble motif but ends with inter-dimensional portals and drug smuggling. It’s been lambasted a bit for certain scenes coming off as cheap pantomime, but I didn’t really notice anything I would describe like that. Yes, there were some silly moments, but that’s often been the case with Doctor Who, especially with the Fourth Doctor.

Speaking of silly, the monster-of-the-week Mandrels have been criticized as well for not being scary–and they weren’t–but I really liked the idea that the powder into which they crumbled after death was the new source for the deadly Vraxoin drug. In a sense, I think that should qualify them for being scary, that their dead bodies produced a substance capable of destroying entire planets.

I also liked the inter-dimensional aspects that came into play with the Continual Event Transmuter. The technology was a bit like what the primitive Time Lords used (at least, that’s the impression I got from the Doctor and Romana), so in a way it was kind of like watching the development of Time Lord technology, albeit in the hands of a human who didn’t fully understand what he was working with.

Final verdict: it’s not the best Fourth Doctor outing, but it went down some paths I hadn’t expected and so turned out to be pretty enjoyable. This is one of those take-it-or-leave-it stories–you may enjoy it, but you won’t necessarily miss out on anything if you choose to skip it.

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New “Lord of the Rings” TV Show: We Can’t Just Leave Well Enough Alone

It’s recently been confirmed that Amazon will be producing a TV series based on The Lord of the Rings, and it’s already been guaranteed for five seasons even though nothing has actually been shot yet, so we don’t even know how good it is. The promising thing is that they aren’t planning on retelling the events of LotR (or I suppose it could be considered a bad thing if you were hoping to finally get some Bombadil in your life); they’re going to focus on the material in the appendices. That part sounds really fascinating, and I want to be excited for that except…well…you all saw what happened to The Hobbit.

In spite of my misgivings about The Hobbit, it just feels weird to think of seeing Middle-Earth through the eyes of someone other than Peter Jackson. The man has a lot of passion for Tolkien’s work, which I can respect. Yes, he’s one of the people pitching ideas for the new show, but there’s no guarantee they’ll choose him, and that makes me sad.

In times like this, I just have to remind myself that we still have the books, and nothing can ever take that away from us.

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Happy Towel Day!

Is there any better way of celebrating Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy than by singing about fish?

Wait–there is! There’s the 1970s miniseries adapted by Douglas Adams himself!

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Converter for MySQL to MySQLi

In a rare post in my web designer mode, I wanted to share a link to a program you can download on GitHub for converting PHP connection strings from MySQL to the more secure MySQLi. This is especially useful if you’re using Adobe Dreamweaver’s database tools, which still use MySQL. You can build the site and then run the converter to change everything over to SQLi.

Why Adobe won’t bother to update Dreamweaver’s database tools is beyond me, but hopefully you’ll find this tool useful in the interim. https://github.com/philip/MySQLConverterTool

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From “Once Upon a Time” to “Happily Ever After”

I realize I haven’t written a lot about Once Upon a Time lately, but I wanted to go ahead and say something about the series finale. Yes, series finale. After seven wild seasons, the heroes finally got their happily ever afters (in theory, anyway–I didn’t entirely agree with what the writers thought constituted a happy ending). From what I’ve heard, this finale was far better than the one Lost fans got, and I’m truly grateful that Once Upon a Time actually got to have a finale instead of being canceled outright (the ignominious fate of Resurrection, Houdini & Doyle, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and Galavant among others). Yet at the same time, I can’t help but feel that season six had the better “happily ever after” wrap-up.

You see, season six was supposed to be the last season because the writers hadn’t heard if the show was being renewed or not. After hearing that ABC wanted to renew it after all, they didn’t do the smart thing and say, “Sorry, but we’ve already wrapped up the story lines; the show is effectively over.” No, they went scrounging in the bottom of the plot barrel and slapped together the show’s worst season. The plots were recycled; there were some questionable casting decisions (tried to like the new Cinderella but didn’t really feel much of a connection between her and Henry), and remaining story lines were hastily and untidily resolved (we never did get a decent backstory on Facilier, and I really wanted to know how he met Regina in the first place).

It may sound like I’m dumping on the finale, but I’m really not trying to. I guess I was just disappointed at how a show that started out great declined so much. One thing I did admire about tonight’s episode, though, was Rumple’s sacrifice, proving just how far his character has come. It also furthers my suspicions that he was the true Savior all along–we learned in season six that he was supposed to be the Savior, but the Black Fairy used the Golden Shears to change that destiny. Yet it was prophesied that she would meet her doom at the hands of the Savior, and it was Rumple and not Emma who delivered the killing blow. Combining that with the fact that this is the second time we’ve seen Rumple sacrifice himself for everyone else, I’m really starting to believe Rumple was the real Savior all along–kind of like how Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One all along but took a very lengthy detour through Sithdom.

I’ve often pondered the question of how many fans are going to pretend season seven never happened, but I’m not sure of the answer. Towards the end the show began to exhibit some of its old magic. But whether you choose to accept this season or not, I think the important thing is that, like all good stories, it will live in us forever. We will always remember the best of Once Upon a Time.

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