CzyA's Big Head

America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within. -Stalin

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Looking for a good TV show? Try the Sci-Fi Channel

I've been a fan of sci-fi for years, but there is one show now on that is blowing away most of the shows on TV period: BattleStar Galactica. This is not the old series from 1979. Similar characters, similar ship, similar story background, but there is where the similarities end. This show has come good acting, great writing, interesting storyline(s), and most of all excellent character developement. No one is purely "Good" or "Evil". Each has their own faults and strengths and so far their interaction leaves you with a feeling of "What's going to happen next?". The downside is Baltar's on going affair with the human-like Number Six who seems bent on having Sex and talking about "God". No. 6 and Baltar often have some extremely interesting diologue, but always involving something in a sexual manner. While pleasing eye-candy, I think people watching the show get the point. I for one am ready to say, "Okay, next chapter please".

Two other shows to note also are the ones preceeding BSG: StarGate SG-1 and StarGate Atlantis. SG-1 will be entering its 9th Season this summer. Richard Dean Anderson (Jack O'neill [used to be MacGyver too]) will only be back as a guest star next season after being in the past 8 seasons. But Star Gate SG-1 is an Action/Comedy set in a sci-fi world. Where BSG is darker and serious Drama, SG-1 is lighthearted and fun. It follows an X-file style of on again, off again story-arcs that go through seasons and has had its share of dramatic plot twists and turns. Again, Characters have evolved and grown. Hallmark of good story development.

Star Gate Atlantis is in its first season. Its been a little ho-hum, but is starting to pick up. **Spoiler Alert** Unlike Voyager, they will be wrapping up the "Lost in space" part at the end of the first season. From there we'll have to see. But the characters, with McKay becomming a little less annoying, are starting to take shape.

So if your looking for some good TV, turn on the TV (or TIVO) on Sci-fi on Friday nights from 8PM/EST to 11PM/EST

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Church

My Namesake here is CzyAnglican. You can find me often online at the chatcoliseum.com chatrooms under that tag. I am an Anglican. I grew up baptist and converted to the Episcopal Church USA. Why then is my name Anglican, simple: when I'm in the US I attend church at an Epsicopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion. When I am in Europe I attend, usually, a Church of England parish. Its the same Anglo-Catholic faith...well mostly. We like to have politics in our church, just not church in our politics...*sigh*

Anyway, my questions of faith this week revolves around The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible. The Episcopal Church is Catholic with a capital "C". We share a lot of common Tradition with our Roman and Greek Orthodox cousins and in the last 100 years, the three major "Catholic" churches have begun to bury 500 - 1500 years of bad blood and begun working together on relief projects and opening talks between the faiths. This is a good thing. Its nothing to brag about, but together we can do a lot more good for the suffering of the world.

Now our Church isn't perfect, but there are a few things I think the Episcopal Church is doing right. One major attraction for me was the three-legged of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. It is a church that thinks and where questions are welcomed and opinions varied. It is not shunned, but welcomed, and while we may not all agree with everyone, there is respect.

It is Lent, so I will be posting my thoughts on my faith over the next few weeks.

Friday, February 11, 2005

iWork 05

This was billed as a replacement or upgrade of Apple Works 6. While the wordprocessing program and Keynote 2 presentation program are both examples of quality Apple writing applications, I have to say this is not a replacement for Apple Works 6. Why? It lakes one major application: a spreadsheet. If your in any business related field, then Microsoft Office for Mac is still the defacto standard. I can remember for the first several months I owned my iBook, Apple Works 6 did everything I needed, but had some short commings. The spreadsheet would export numbers and formatting to Excel, but not the equations. So I could send someone the end result data, but not how those results were acheived. That was a serious drawback and why I purchased, and still use, Office V.x. I have not upgraded to Office 2004 for mac yet simple because Office V.x does everything I need. The other huge draw back was lack of a presentation program of any quality. Yes, Apple Works 6 included a presentation program, but it stunk. I needed PowerPoint for sales pitches and presentations in business school period. Keynote was a step in the right direction, but still wasn't there yet. iWork 05 is not going to be replacing my install of MS Office, but I can tell you that I will be using Pages and Keynote 2 more.

Pages - Is 2 parts Word, one part Publisher, and a great program for typing a letter or designing a brochure. In many ways, Word for Mac is Word for Windows + 1/2 MS Publisher for windows. For those that don't want the expense or need for Pagemaker/Indesign or Quark, say a small business, Pages is wonderfully easy to use and very powerful. Its intergration with iLife (iPhoto, iTunes, etc) is great for adding images and page layout. I've found no problems thus far with exporting the document to Word format and then opening with Office for Mac or Office 2002 and Office 2002/XP on Windows. If your a home user or small business wanting to design flyers, Brochures, catalogs, etc. on the Mac, then this ideal for the $79 price tag. I would like to see a few more templates, but I am sure that more will be available from 3rd party sources with time online.

Keynote 2 - Today I could and probably will be using Keynote more instead of Powerpoint. Its very similar in operation and options and is rather good for creating such items. Its intergration with iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie again is great for keeping media organized on your machine in simple locations. Also I like being able to export into Macromedia Flash format for placing slide shows online in an effective presentation media. Now I will rail against Flash for many things, but for displaying an effective powerpoint like slideshow online, flash is the tool to use. You can also export into Adobe PDF and HTML. My biggest complaint is that the Apple designed themes still lack the selction of Powerpoint and is still somewhat limited. Again I am sure that 3rd party design firms will create and make available on CD or download more themes online soon.

Final Words: If your in publishing and advertising and on a budget or a home user without the need for a spreadsheet appliction than for $79, iWork '05 is a great buy for the price. I hope in iWork '06 a good spreadsheet application is added. I didn't go into databases here because Apple Works 6's DB was useless for tracking anything more than recipes or mailing addresses and Apple's built in Address Book does a much better job of keeping track of contacts. Also, MS Office offers no DB program for the Mac. Filemaker is still the standard Macintosh DB Appliction, but one can also run the free MySQL or PostgreSQL database systems as well, however neither of these have a great front end for the typical, non hard core Unix Geek, Mac user.

Mac Mini - Wait

I like the Mac Mini, especially if you are replacing an exsiting home system that is primarily used for Email and surfing the net, downloading digital pictures from your camera, and maybe making home movies. If you already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, your ready to go or can hook it up to your TV. But there is two words of caution.

One - Its first generation Apple techology. There will be problems, always has been with first generation anything even Apple. Therefore I am saying wait until fall. Also, I expect to see OS 10.4 released this fall as well. Apple is rather bad about not giving away new OSes. I purchased my iBook a week before the release of OS 10.2 was announced. I was preparing to leave for Germany at the time and didn't have the luxury of waiting another week. If I had, I would have gotten OS 10.2 free when it was released. Instead I had to pay for the $70 student upgrade at the time.

Two - Lack of a Superdrive. The current offering is a DVD/CD-RW combo drive. You can still play DVD's and burn CD-Roms, but you cannot Burn DVD's. I imagine that Superdrive will be an option in the next generation of Mac Mini's. Then you can Play DVD and burn home made videos to DVD or CD-Rom.

I do believe that Apple has plans for a downloadable movie service much like the iTunes store and that the Mac Mini will be a home run seller for Apple and will be a great product. I would just wait for the next product offering this fall and then purchase.