What’s in the skies over Colorado and Nebraska

Mysterious swarms of giant drones have dotted the Colorado and Nebraska night sky since last week, The Denver Post first reported.

The drones appear and disappear at roughly the same time each night in swarms of at least 17 and up to 30. The drones appear to measure about 6 feet across.

Local and federal government authorities say they have no idea where the drones are coming from. They do not appear to be malicious, however, and a drone expert says they appear to be searching or mapping out the area.


Very early, first impressions, AppleTV+ — 2nd day impressions below

I’m all ready to sign up and I understand I have to do the Free Trial dance which will then rollover into a sub. OK. Maybe I’m wrong or Maybe this is just another new Apple way of doing things. Wasted a little time searching the Web. Folks who should know – don’t.

Anyway, only time to respond to a couple of items, so far. I’m not surprised that doubtful, timorous reviews generally populated the Web. Dangerous thoughts don’t get star gigs on the Web much anymore. As Om says, they should be paid accordingly and the folks who own the hardware, control the software, and buy the latter as cheap as they can.

So, my wife watches about 15 minutes of TV a month – apart from the EPL – passing by the living room when I’m in there of an evening watching a film or a BritBox mystery or Amazon Prime something production. We use the cheapest inclusive Sling package to feed a couple households in the compound + their news package to see if the turd in the White House has managed to start a war somewhere in his quest for geedus and self-aggrandizement. Apps often plug in better rez than the Sling feed; but, it’s still needed for content access “approval”.

But, she wanted to watch “SEE” for a number of reasons…not the least of which were anthropology and human healthkits in a blind species. Mine, too; but, been a scifi geek since before most of y’all were born. Though not a new idea – no less interesting.

We both found it a success. Production values are superb. I know a bit about violence and war. Realistic solutions rule in SEE. CGI or not, the episode flowed. Every uptight Xhristian who tuned in will self-destruct over this culture’s version of prayer. Har!

My wife is fine with the way I usually follow serial productions in the streaming world. I watch episodes in order; but, not bound to weekly if the tale has greater availability. I’ll usually watch an episode every 3-5 days if it’s worth watching in the first place. And this tale qualifies, so far.

Other stuff? Lots to look at. They haven’t figured out all the hooks for EPL football Saturday morning; but, the NBCSN app works fine. And, then – I’d noticed there’s freebie time for Apple Music, now, too. Usually, I rely on Amazon music. More for less, simple as that.

Searched for a few groups I really love and got some household sounds I like – and, then – they have fracking music videos. THEY HAVE MUSIC VIDEOS! I feel like I’m back in Poland*.

BITD, I discovered so many new groups and new music just leaving MTV or VH1 swinging in the living room while I went about my day. I usually worked from home; so, that was a breeze. My life has been focused on music more than most…including the occasional decade as performing artist.

They have old stuff. They have new stuff. I have to be disciplined or I won’t get back outdoors for months.

‘Nuff said for now. I’ll return to comment further.

* First music videos I ever saw were on TV in the communal room of a hostel in Zakopane in 1971.


Still haven’t done a thorough enough lookaround; but, here’s what makes my second thoughts not as enthusiastic. I’d decided I would watch a movie tonight. Often my wont on a weekend.

As noted earlier, I’ve been a lifetime scifi geek. Bought my first copies of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories at Freeman’s Drugstore in Bridgeport in the spring of 1949. I had to convince Mr. Freeman it was OK with my parents – because of the “lurid” covers SciFi mags used back then. So, tonight, Saturday night, I decided to watch GRAVITY. An award-winner with a talented cast. Found it listed in AppleTV+ for 99¢. Thought I’d also seen it listed over at Amazon. It was. Free, maybe with commercials.

That was an easy decision. Retirees living on tightly managed budgets decide for price every time, over time. Better learn to do it, folks.

Commercials turned out to be about 4 breaks through the whole piece, pretty much 30-second spot totals. Easy-peasy. The movie, BTW, turned out to be superlative in structure and production. Well written and acted. No complaints.

After the movie I took another quick look around at movies and TV series back at AppleTV+ and now it’s starting to feel like there are one or two free episodes from any series to trial…remaining episodes have a charge for every additional episode. Some few movies free. Most have a rental, ownership fee structure. Apple is definitely trying to compete with Netflix – not Amazon. And Amazon is what I can afford.

So, at this moment in time, my decision looks like AppleTV+ ends with the demise of my free trial. No doubt full-length movies and some series will continue with talented productions. Like their peers on Netflix, HBO, etc.. I still have access to more than enough content between a few individual channels/apps “authorized by SLING” to pair with Amazon and Britbox to keep my video Jones well-fed.

Things can always change. For now. I’ll probably let AppleTV+ lapse in a few days. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to stay up-to-date with the next-gen AppleTV [4K+HDR and more] just as I do with iPad, iPhone and iMac. Hardware and software are a terrific value from Apple. Doesn’t look like services beyond iCloud will be offered to fit my budget. Yet.

Streaming soon: Disney+

If you read the post just below this cartoon/post, you know how I feel about movies. Movies and sport, 4K and what TV-watching we do in our extended family on Lot 4.

I wrote that piece because this cartoon was emailed to me by one of our regular followers. And I certainly accept that Bob Iger and Disney have the talent pool and sufficient geedus to capture as much of our allotted electronic entertainment time as anyone else in the business. Gobbling up Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and adding that to existing goodies like Pixar and Marvel and ESPN ain’t easy-peasy. I expect the talent pool at Disney will come through to meet the standards set by Iger.

And as I said in the preceding post — “Storytelling will play as big a part as cost, no doubt. But, the storytelling is how it always starts. A great deal on crap television is not what we’re looking for.”

Streaming soon: AppleTV+

Click to runDailyMotion

We cut the cable cord [well, satellite box cord] a couple of years ago. AppleTV had been a consistent, productive adjunctive device providing some of my favorite movies – and 4K was coming. We’ve experimented with a couple of streaming services, now, and I don’t mind admitting that to date cost is prime. Yes, “Prime” is another important word in our extended household.

Quality delivered for a certain cost is more important than quality alone. Our wee compound is entirely populated by retirees. Politicians who would screw over social security or Medicare or Obamacare should only dare enter our driveway in an armored vehicle. Budgets for retirees always end up being a life-or-death discussion.

Right now, AppleTV is primarily a delivery system. Damned good, for example – when we actually catch a live 4K feed of, say, a Euro or British football match. Exceptional, satisfying, mind-grabbing when it’s episode after episode of a murder mystery with Detective Bosch stalking the villain. Yeah, the commercials are right.

We’ll decide about AppleTV+ — the streaming service — after we try it. Storytelling will play as big a part as cost, no doubt. But, the storytelling is how it always starts. A great deal on crap television is not what we’re looking for.

30th Birthday of the Engine That Powered the CGI Revolution

❝ When Pixar President and co-founder Ed Catmull announced his retirement earlier this year, people rightly saw his impending departure as a transitional moment for the animation studio. But it’s bigger than that. Catmull’s shadow looms large not just over groundbreaking films like Toy Story and Coco, his influence can be traced all the way back to the dawn of digital visual effects. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The Abyss. Terminator 2. Jurassic Park. All of these titles came out before Woody and Buzz Lightyear, yet all remain watershed moments for VFX—and all used the tool that Catmull and his colleagues helped create at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic.

RenderMan, as it’s known, came out of ILM’s computer graphics team (the same one that would later spin off into its own company called Pixar). It started as a powerful algorithm, but then became something greater—a graphical interface. “Up until that point,” says Catmull, “the look, the lighting, essentially had to be done by programmers.” A movie like 1982’s Tron might have been mindblowing, but its digital sequences also necessitated an absolutely knee-buckling amount of work, creating its futuristic effects frame by frame. RenderMan, though, allowed effects artists to realize their visions without needing to write code.

CGI Rulez! Most sci-fi geeks would agree. Most would also understand how the threads and techniques reach out into many aspects of today’s film-making regardless of genre. RTFA!