Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Holidays Have Begun...

Hey all. 

Welcome to my latest blog post and the first of what I consider to officially be the official start of the Christmas season and for those of you that don't celebrate Christmas: the holiday season. Either way today begins what I consider to be the most magical time of the year, and also one of my favorites. I don't know what it is I love more: the Christmas music, the tv specials, or the way my town looks when we get hit with a lot of snow. There's something almost magical about going to bed and having the world look totally normal and then waking up to see everything blanketed in several feet of undisturbed fresh fallen snow. I know this may sound nuts but one of my favorite things to do after it snows is to ride into Atlantic City because after the plows run through the city and push all the snow to the side the city really gets a special look to it. 

There's other things I love about the holidays too, like the tree in our living room. Every year we set up a fake tree— yes I know that cheating —because my father is paranoid about a really tree being set on fire due to lights. It's not like we use candles to light it, just indoor/outdoor lights. When I finally get my own places I am doing a real tree every year because nothing can beat that kind of smell, in all honesty.  So anyway, we set up a fake tree in the living room every year complete with several hundred mini, multi-colored lights, balls, and an angel on top. One of my favorite things to do is to set that tree up while listening to the sounds of the season on my iPad, iPhone, or laptop. This year we set the tree up the day before Thanksgiving because we were going out of town. My dad got homes that night and told us we were nuts putting the tree up that early, but hey, it's the holidays. 

That brings me to the ranting portion of this blog though: the holidays start too damn early nowadays. Yes, I am going to be THAT guy. When I was little I remember that Halloween was Halloween, Thanksgiving was acknowledged, and Christmas started around this time of the year. Look in any store now and around Halloween you will find the Christmas trees set up in stores ready for sale and Christmas carols blasting. Forgive me but I like to deal with one holiday at a time, and it's impossible to do that now because you have to keep up with the times. Try and buy a pilgrim for Thanksgiving after July and it isn't gonna happen because we are already set for about Christmas or so it amazes me that we have to rush all of the holidays and we can't stop to enjoy them for five minutes without being on track for the next. 

I'm sorry but I had to get that one off of my chest or I was gonna go bonkers. Anyway, now that we are in the holiday season here's what to expect from me: 

1. Blog and video on the best Christmas specials and movies. 
2. Blog and video on the best Christmas music. 
3. Possibly some Christmas cover songs butchered by me, a Capella. 
4. iHelp when we get into the new year. 

My last little update is that I joined the Cracked writers room over on the forums. They take anyone so please don't be surprised if you see my name wind up on an article on the site at some point in the coming months. 

To find all of my online profiles check out to follow me on twitter see and of course pleased share this blog, comment, tweet, +1 it, and most of all, enjoy. 

Happy holidays, 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Updates and Changes

Remember those YouTube videos where I said I was waiting for a Dell Streak 7? A few things have happened and there has been a slight change in plans: I went out and got myself a 32 GB iPad 2 WiFi model so I decided to let my mom have the Android tablet as her own personal tablet instead. Obviously with that change there comes others, mainly that I will not be doing an unblocking of said tablet. I should have done one for my new iPad but I was just too excited to play with it and get it loaded up to bother with an unboxing video. Seeing as I now own an iPad and iPhone, though, this means that I will be returning to an original idea and doing a video series called "iHelp" which will focus on iOS and iTunes. 

In other news I recently joined up the writers forum on which means that in the future it is possible you will be seeing articles on the site written by me, if I can come up with some ideas that are good enough to get published on there; PLUS it pays $50 an article for your first 5 and then $150 an article after. I'm sorry but for that kinda money I will be more than happy to write a list article filled with dick jokes. Honestly though, I have always been a fan of cracked so it will be nice to be able to contribute to that community a bit. Also it means I will be a colleague of comedy writer Gladstone which more than makes my day. 

My last thing I wish to share is that I finally got myself a set of wheels. A nice set of wheels. 😃Here's the details in as quick a blurb as possible: green 2000 pontiac grand am se. Sports car. Moon roof. Mine. 

I don't have anything else to say with this post, so until next time this is Dan signing off. 

By the way everyone be sure to keep an eye out for all of my upcoming Christmas videos where I will go over everything from Christmas music to movies to tree decorating. I even have a few Christmas pictures from my life to share. 

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Okay so last night I was having trouble sleeping. I have a lot going on in my life so sometimes sleep is a bit of an issue. To kill the insomnia I take a quick trip onto my iPhone, surf the net a bit, catch up on YouTube subscriptions and then I eventually drift off. Last night one of the videos that showed up in my feed was one by YouTube Vlogger and Certified Lunatic OutBackZack about how P.E.T.A. (that's People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is now running a campaign about how Mario Kills Tanooki. Please understand that by sharing this link I am not promoting their campaign but instead pointing out a bad PR move on their part that can go up in the ranks with Unhappy Meals. Please try to understand that I don't condone cruel treatment of animals and I don't condone the skinning of real life Tanooki, however I think that the point needs to be made a bit subtler. Maybe P.E.T.A. should take a tip from the ASPCA for ways to better convey animal rights.

Anyway, go ahead, click on the Mario Kills Tanooki link. In case you don't, heres a break down of what awaits you: First you get to see this darling logo

This logo is of course aimed at children.

and then you are given a chunk of text that reads 

"When on a mission to rescue the princess, Mario has been known to use any means necessary to defeat his enemy—even wearing the skin of a raccoon dog to give him special powers.

Tanooki may be just a "suit" in Mario games, but in real life, tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur. By wearing Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur. Play Super Tanooki Skin 2D and help Tanooki reclaim his fur!"

Past that is an Adobe Flash game called "Super Tanooki Skin 2D" where you play as a skinned Tanooki trying to catch Mario who is flying with bloodied Tanooki skin so that you can regain your fur. Now looking past the fact that this looks like a nightmare version of Mario, it's possible for the Tanooki to die in this game, which to me actually defeats the purpose of P.E.T.A. Ah, well, it was probably a programming oversight. 

I understand that the skinning of real life Tanuki is a serious issue, but again, is this the way to go about protesting? What's gonna happen next week? Mario Hates Turtles? Remember, all a Koopa is supposed to be is a demon turtle. Is D.A.R.E. going to jump on Mario now about drug use, I mean after all, using Mushrooms to fly has to have some sort of bulls eye on it's head for a "Help Mario Stomp Out Drugs Campaign". 

What disturbs me more than anything though, is that now P.E.T.A. is picking on the events of a video game! At least when they were handing out Unhappy Meals to kids they were actually protesting something, in this case cruel treatment of chickens. In the coming weeks will we see other bits of fiction that P.E.T.A. has a gripe with? Will Warner Bros. and Looney Tunes come under fire for the antics of Road  Runner and Wile E. Coyote? Will Tom & Jerry be subjected to the fate of having P.E.T.A. publicly condemn them? And what about The Simpsons with all of their Itchy & Scratchy bits. It has to be cartoons like that that give P.E.T.A. members nightmares. 

I'm all for being nice to animals and not treating them cruelly. I'm all for equal rights and I am all for the 1st amendment. Everyone has a right to protest what they want but it seems to me that as every day goes by we stray further and further from the peaceful protests of men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi and more in the way of "All  equal rights groups are the Westboro Baptist Church

If you don't know the WBC please educate yourself. These guys are the cream of the crop when you look at scummy human beings. This is a hate group so extreme that the KKK refuses to affiliate with them and Hell's Angels have been used to coral these guys. Unfortunately it seems like they are slowly infecting other "rights groups" with their extreme methods and really contaminating the cause. Let's see more ASPCA style groups looking for animal rights and less groups obsessed with what happens in a fictitious video game.  

I know that this is a very touchy topic but please, share your thoughts on this below and try not to flame when you do. Some people are going to be against this move like me while others are going to support it. I won't say you're right if you do but I won't condemn you for your beliefs as I expect no one to condemn me to mine. 

*To see the video for this post please see my YouTube Channel

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Open Letter to Apple

Dear Apple and Hello to all of my readers,
                                                             The purpose of this open letter is to point out all of the resounding flaws with your company. I myself only have experience with one and that is the n00b programming of your iTunes client for Windows. I would think that a company as big as you, would be smart enought to PUT IN A FREAKIN' FAIL SAFE FOR EXTERNAL HDD's. We live in a big world where sometimes your computers hard drive just doesn't cut it. To remmedy that, a lot of people now store their music on external drives yet somehow you haven't caught up with this and instead will allow the software to FAIL if it doesn't want to read said external. I was the victim of this several weeks back and scoured the internet for a way to locate a solution. Unfortunatly, since the software wouldn't consolidate, my only option was to reimport 10,000 songs. Let me say that again "My only option was to REIMPORT 10,000 songs"! Okay, that I can live with. I can do that. What I can't live with, is that THEN iTunes said "I'll read the hard drive" so now I HAVE 20,000 SONGS IN MY LIBRARY! 20,000! Now maybe I'm the n00b but I would think that you guys would put in, i don't know, a way to AUTOMATICALLY REMOVE DUPLICATES! Not only that, but it decided to make all copies in on the same day so I can't sort by date to remove them, I lost every play list and ALL OF MY PLAY COUNTS! For the last two weeks I have been unable to sync my iPod Classic (6G) or my iPhone. At this point my only option short of manually deleteing all of these excess files is to REBUILD MY LIBRARY! Yes, I am happy for iCloud  and that I can reget my apps at the push of a button and re download all of those free singles of the week. My issues with the other 9750 songs that I either need to copy somehow from my ipod (another feature you guys don't have) or re aquire and import EVERYTHING! I know there is nothing you guys can do, and you won't fix the software for a few more years seeing as you just invented multitasking last year, but I thought you should know this is one Apple Product User you have enraged and possibly lost. Yes I have my iPhone and iPod and will keep it, but I need to give serious thought as to if I will EVER buy a new Apple product again.


   I bet if I had an Apple computer you guys would have a way to fix this in a heartbeat.

    To all of my readers, if Apple has EVER screwed you over in any way, shape, or form, please respond below in the form of a comment.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

SPOILERS - Alice Cooper - "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" Review

On Tuesday September 13th the 13th studio album by legendary rocker  Alice Cooper hits stores and I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an early copy. Sitting down listening to it I decided to sit down and do an honest review of it as I am listening to it. The best place to start is the very beginning with:

1. I am Made of You- The starting point for this album is actually a weak one. As soon as Alice opens his mouth to speak the first thing that gets to you is he used AUTO TUNE! Alice fucking Cooper used auto tune on one of his songs. Yes, he is Alice Cooper. Yes, he has earned the right to do WHATEVER he damn well pleases, but he's ALICE COOPER! He doesn't need to auto tune. I've heard this album in other early reviews that this album sounds like a piece from The Rolling Stones. I just want to say right now: MICK JAGGER DOESN'T AUTOTUNE! Let's see where this goes from here.

2. Caffeine- As we get into the second song on the album we are hit with a song about....well caffeine. It's actually a pretty up beat song that almost sounds like it should have been done by a younger band. The lyrics themselves are pretty OK but he treats caffeine as way too much of an addictive and lethal drug. Seeing as this is a concept album and a sequel to "Welcome to My Nightmare" I am willing to overlook any personal gripes with the song as I see where it fits in story wise as a way to keep the nightmares from returning. 

3. The Nightmare Returns- Finally the album is starting to get creepy. Everything on this song works, from the creepy piano music in the background to the way that Alice Cooper sings it. The piano runs the entire song and is eventually joined by a classic Cooper sounding metal piece that I assume is the transition to the nightmare. I actually could feel the hairs on my arms going up a tad so I can see this album is heading in the right direction yet.

4. A Runaway Train- Here we have another fast upbeat song. This one almost sounds like a mix between metal and country a little bit. Are there such things as heavy metal banjos cause it sure sounds like there's one in this. I'm getting an image in my head for this song and I will share it. I see Alice Cooper in a nightmare land running down a set of railroad tracks being chased by a giant train that resembles the one from the cover of Motorhead's album "Orgasmatron". (Anywhere I find to put what I see in my mind and help share my interpetation of the story I will). The song ends with the sounds of a train crashing...errie.

5. Last Man on Earth- OK this one starts with a style that almost sounds like "People Are Strange" by The Doors. It's a creepy sounding song though with a creepy, almost carnaval-like, feel to it. I'm starting to think if anything this album would make a great musical film, possibly a mix of live action and animation, because this song would look way to creepy as a live action piece. My favorite lie in this song is "I'm the last man on earth,
So tell me what it's worth.
Am I a beggar or a king?"

Oddly, this one ends with canned appluase. Is it meant to have been performed for those of the other world? 

6.  The Congregation- This one starts out a little slower which is a good thing. I'd say the pace on this one overall is definetly a bit slower than the others, though not by much. It really sounds like classic Alice Cooper though when you get down to it. So far the album has had it's ups and downs and while it's not 100% classic Alice Cooper it's about 90% classic Cooper.

7. I'll Bite Your Face Off- Here's one that sounds as close to classic Cooper as I've heard yet. This album is slowly falling into it's place and do  think that my final rating on this one will be  more favorable than my review I did on Twitter last night where I listened to 3 or 4 tracks and then ripped this piece a new one. The lyrics on this one are nicely dark, as the title would suggest and are delivered with a style that feels to me like "I'm Eighteen".

8. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever- Gothic disco, that's all I'm gonna say. That and I think I really like this one haha. Nice dark sounding vocalists in the back, 70's feel, dark lyrics, and Alice Cooper does it perfectly.

9. Ghouls Gone Wild- This one sounds like a slowed version of "Blitkrieg Bop" a bit. It's another one I'm liking though. The album is starting to pick up an overall older feel which is what I'd expect for this.

10. Something to Remember Me By- Here we go, nice slow mostly acoustic song, almost ballad like. This is another personal favorite for me. Alice Cooper is bringing the story together quite nicely and the songs are sounding more classic as they go.

11. When Hell Comes Home- This one is yet another classic yet powerful sounding piece. Dark and eerie  and of course scary.

12. What Baby Wants- At this point it's hard to nitpick these songs because they have finally gotten the pace and feel they need that's why my reviews of them are short and sweet.

13. I Gotta Get out of Here- This one starts with chiming bells and then picks up a nice end of story style feel completely like Alice Cooper's older work. The lyrics are great and the beat is nice.

14. The Underture- Normally I HATE instrumental rock music but this works great. Alice Cooper told his story and ends it with an almost orchestral sounding (yet completely rock) underture to rap it up.

Overall this actually turned out to be a pretty good album. I give it a four out of five and do want to see the live concert that goes with it if Mr. Cooper decides to go on a concert tour to support it. Post what you thought below. :D

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Technology - Are We Addicted

Hey all,
        Dan here with a new blog post. This is part one of three of a series of blog posts I am doing about technology. This one is on if we are addicted to tech or not. The next two will be the Pros and Cons of Tech and then a History of tech over the last 19 years just to show how it has changed.*

Do we, as a people, suffer from an addiction to technology. The answer is yes. It isn't as simple as an alcohol or drug addiction though. These things are easily identifiable and the proper course of action can be taken. With a tech addict though, it isn't that simple. For one, there are  many different types of tech you can be addicted too. For some, it is a general over all addiction (see Chris Pirillo of LockerGnome). Then there are your smartphone addicts. Just to clairfy, a smartphone addict isn't someone who texts their friends 24/7, a smartphone addict is someone who uses their phone everywhere from their communte, to their break, to the bathroom, and even when they should be sleeping. I will admit to being guilty of the later. When I should be asleep I am often kept up with thoughts and stress and that in turn leads to me going to my phone and visiting Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WrestleFuse (which recently overhauled and added in an iOS version of their site available at ), TMZ, Digg, Mashable, and a billion other sites and apps. Sometimes I get the feeling that charging my phone right next to my bed is not the best idea, but so be it, I am a happy smartphone addict. Then you have your video game addicts. These are the (usually) guys, who spend more hours killing people on "Black Ops" than they do at work, eating, bathing, and with their friends and family combined. After that you have the biggest category: computer addicts, which is a sub genre of General Tech Addiction (read: Geeks).  These are everything from your dedicated hackers to your programers and beyond. I'd like to think I am a little of all of these, not that I should be proud of that.

*My 19th birthday is on 11/5 so it will actually be an 18 and a half year look at tech :D 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Are Traditional Books Dead?

Hey all, welcome back to From the Mind of Dan. Today I want to take an oppurtunity to start a look at  something that fascinates me: technology. And I don't mean how technology has changed since it was invented but how much it's changed just since the year of my birth, 1992. A lot of people think if you want to see how much technology has changed for something you have to look back to the record players of the 50's or the industrial machines of the industrial revolution up to today. In reality you can see a nice grasp on how technology has changed by just looking at 18 years or so. Before I get to the main point of todays post I want to start by discussing music.

When I was a kid there are a few distinct ways I remember listening to music. The first was on the car radio. That's a way of listening to music thats still around though it is slowly being replaced by services like Last.FM, Pandora, Spotify, and various satilite radio services. The second way is casettes. I admit that somewhere in my room I still have a casette player that (I think) still works and a handful or so of casettes that a kid would listen to when they're four, five, or six. I remeber also being able to take casettes and listen to them on the old car radio but then came a new invention, the CD.

When the year was about....2000 or so I remeber getting my first cd player.  I was 8 or 10 so I don't really remeber hearing about the hype of an ipod and what not, at the time we had just gotten a computer. Anyway a good part of my childhood was spent listening to music on CD's, though I admit I don't have a large collection of these either due to storage space needs. In 2005 or 2006 I got my first MP3 Player (I've since gotten an iPod) and that opened up a whole new world to me: digital music and being able to rip a CD and put it on this little device, take it on the go, and listen to it. There was a lot of talk that started to brew up after that point where people were starting to say that the CD format would be replaced by formats like FLAC and MP3. I think that's both true and false at the same time. On one hand you can still get CD's new at stores of modern releases, although there isn't a massive ammount of dedicated music stores around now. Most of the ones you find sell used records, CD's, and cassettes for hardcore collectors or for  those who either can't or refuse to take part in the technical revolution. In short: the MP3 player is killing the cd format. It's giving good blows left and right to it and eventually you'll see even fewer CD's in stores than you do now. That brings me  to my point of this blog:

I live in a town called EHT in Southern New Jersey.  If I want a book I basically have two local options: Atlantic Books in Somer's Point or Borders in Mays Landing, there isn't really a dedicated bookstore in EHT. True I can get books at Shop Rite or Ollies or  Sams or Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Target but that isn't the same as getting a book  at a BOOKSTORE. A  place dedicated to selling books, maybe with a few comfy chairs and the like. Now that I am out of high school I am finding myself doing a bit more reading because I am not being pushed to do so. At first I was splitting my reading between a Sharper Image Literati and actual books I would buy at Borders. I have a nice stack of unread real books I will pull  through in time, but from here on out I am going digital with all of my new reading because of a double hitter. Borders decided  to close it's doors for one reason or another so they are having their liquidation sales. That's ok, I can live with Atlantic Books in Somer's Point. But wait a second! Yesterday I was at Atlantic Books and they were even deeper into their liquidation sales. That means the only two local dedicated bookstores are gone! The closest one I currently know of is the two Atlantic Books located in Ocean City on the Boardwalk. Soon I want to head over and see if they are also closing their doors. If they are then it backs up my thoughts: the ereader and ebooks have KILLED the tradition book.

Now before you go on a tirade and say that books will never be dead, I just want to claify that traditional books are dead. Ebooks are alive and pleantiful and will be for a long time in the future. Authors will continue to crank out books. Stephen King  isn't going to cease to turn out tales of Macbre. AJ Jacobs won't give up on turning himself into a human guinea pig and most importantly celebrities (both those we love like Dick Van Dyke and Betty White and those we hate like J WOWW and Snookie) will continue to turn out life stories and tell alls. Never fear those won't cease. What will cease is the mass production of physical copies that waste trees and other resources to be made. Book production will always exist and writers will always make a buck but the means in which they do it are now digital. It's time to love and embrace devices like the Kindle, the Nook, the Literati, and the Sony Reader. What it will be interesting to see is if a company comes out with a very affordable ereader that appeals to the every day individual. The main thing that keeps people from  ereaders right now is the fact that they have to pay for books and shell out 100-200 dollars for a device. What we need is an eink reader that can be made cheaply be durable and be sold for 30 or 40 dollars so that people can adapt to the modern trend much like they did when music went digital. Look at MP3 players for a moment. Some only cost 20 or 30 dollars while others are a few hundred.

Anyway what are your  thoughts on this? Do you prefer to read a traditional book or an ebook? Do you believe that all of the bookstore closings are a sign that traditional books are going the way of cd's? What is your ereader  of choice? Sound off to these questions and leave your thoughts below and be sure to keep an eye out for an upcoming post on the advantages and disadvantages of ereading.

Until Next Time,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Internet is a Basic Human Right? Then Treat it as Such!

I was sitting around today doing some recreational reading on my iPhone when I stumbled upon an interesting article, well really a blog, from CNN that discussed the recent uprisings in various countries and the way that the various nations that were involved had leaders that limited or cut the countries internet access which led to the UN making an interesting ruling: the internet is now a basic human right. Now don't think that this post is going to be me bashing that decision because I support it. I believe that in our society now, in 2011, the internet is indeed a basic human right. When the internet was first released in the early 90's it was merely a novelty and a business tool that was afforded only by the highest class of people pulling the biggest paychecks. Over time that was reduced to households with dial up and broadband and jump a head a little further and the internet became a crucial tool for students and employees in various jobs alike. Now fast forward to 2011 and it has been upgraded to basic human right. If the internet is indeed a basic himan right, why is it not treated as such.

Here in America we have our basic human rights: electricity (that not everyone has), clean running water (that not everyone has), the internet (which not everyone has). In all honesty the water and electricity deal has a lot to do with not being able to afford bills due to the horrible job market but as long as the debt is reasonable then the companies will work with you in order to make sure you maintain that much. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) however do not work with people to make sure that they can afford their bill and in all honesty they don't act like they want to. Internet is pricey. I haven't looked at the prices  in a while but I know good internet can run you at least $60-100 a month. That's a lot for a basic human right when you pile it on electricity, car insuarances, cell phones, and cable TV or home Phone if applicable. Most people can barely afford to pay what they do now, let
alone pile in an internet bill that high. Based on the way it looks though, I am a third world citizen in a first world country.

I have electricity and running water. No cable but I have an iPhone (that I am lucky we can afford) which can NEVER serve as a replacement computer unless the internet makes major changes, but it won't. As far as an internet connection on my laptop goes though, I am forced to either head down to the local library (and work around their business hours, give up good web access on sundays, and fight for a table near  the only free laptop outlet) or scrounge around at the windows of my house, standing like an animal, trying to catch an unlocked signal. Naturally a mooched signal like that isn't going to be strong enough to view high quality videos on YouTube, upload videos anywhere, get decent speed downloads, etc. A lot of these are things that are needed for being a student (which I am, getting ready to start college) or a worker. Is that right, having to scrounge like a third world scavenger for a basic human right in the middle of America?

I'm sure I am not alone when I say this: if the UN is going to declare that the internet is a basic human right, then it is important for it to be treated as such. If you wake up and you don't have clean running water or working electricity you would have a fit and demand that someone do something. It's time the same gets done for our internet right. If it is a basic human right it is time that the United States government take the power to control it for themselves and out of the hands of the big companies like Comcast that run it now. It's time America does this for the people so that the citizens of this country have the appropriate access to the resources and services they are entitled to.

Time for me to post this from a scavengers hole,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye Harry Potter

*Spoiler Alert* The "Harry Potter" series has come to an end so I am here to review "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" and talk about the series as a whole, but I'll be honest: I'm not holding back. There will be spoilers. I'm not concerned with who knows that.  With that, if you don't want spoilers on the eighth film in the series either close your browser at this time and return when you've seen the film or close your eyes and click the back button and then read another post. Anyway, onto the regularly scheduled post.

I've lost a brother. Not a brother who was born to my mother and lived with me in my house, but a brother with a scar, born to a woman by the name of J.K. Rowling. My brother, along with many others in the world, was "The Boy Who Lived" Harry Potter. Harry got his start back in the 1990's when J.K. Rowling published a novel entitled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". Eventually the book came to America where it was known as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". The book was a success and was followed by "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire". "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince", and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". Each of the books saw a film adaptation with "Deathly Hallows" being a two part film. What followed with those films was a cultural phenomenon similar to "Lord of the Rings" brought to the screen by Peter Jackson and "Star Wars" created by George Lucas. Harry got everything: action figures, costumes, props, film soundtracks, games, candy, and video games; not to mention there's an extensive line of Harry Potter lego's along  with games based on that. All that's missing is a Harry Potter MMO where you create a character that starts at 11 years old in Hogwarts going through the classes and 7 year scheduel to then go off and get a job in the wizarding world. Actually that sounds like a good Free to Play MMO game idea. If anyone from Warner Bros. Interactive is reading this I would ask you to consider that.

To bring Harry to the big screen the perfect cast had to be chosen and throughout the run of the series amazing actors helped achieve that. Daniel Radcliffe played the title role of Harry Potter with Rupert Grint and Emma Watson playing his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermionie Granger respectivly. Dame Maggie Smith signed on to play Professor Minerva McGonagall, the professor of Trasfiguration along with being a future Headmistress of the school, while Richard Harris, known for being the vocalist behind the song "MacArthur Park" played Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts at the start of the series. Sadly, Richard Harris passed away after completion of the film "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" so he was replaced with Sir Michael Gambon who did a phenomenal job as Albus, but in my eyes Richard Harris will always be the true Dumbledore. Alan Rickman, known for doing many films including more recently "Sweeney Todd" with Johnny Depp, brought life to one of the most contriversal characters in the series: Severus Snape, the potions master at Hogwarts. His loyalties are brought up as a key plot point throughout the series with book 7 finally showing where his heart really lied. Rounding out just a few of the amazing cast members was a personal favorite of mine: Gary Oldman (Gordon in Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" films, the lead terrorist in "Air Force One" and about a billion other roles) as Harry's godfather Sirius Black who gets killed by his own cousin, Bellatrix LeStrange (Helena Bonham Carter, anoter great). Many other big stars brought life to characters but these were the ones that really touched me. To round out the notes on casting though, the series main villian Voldemort was played by the great Ralph Finnes.

Onto the 'review' of "Deathly Hallows Part 2". The film itself is very dark, both physically and in content/theme. Most of the films in the series opened on a somewhat bright note with the playing of "Hedwig's Theme" which really is the theme of the series. This one instead starts with a darker piece of music that's somber as brief flashes of the end of "Deathly Hallows Part 1" play before going to the cottage by the sea. Harry takes this time to talk to both Griphook, who turns out to be a lying little demon, and Mr. Olivander who is played by John Hurt, who originally played the role in "Sorceror's Stone". I was actually a tad surprised at how old he looks, although I doubt I should be seeing as he was in the original "Alien" movie that was made in the 1970's and he wasn't all that young then. From there Harry and friends go on their quest to locate the remaining Horcruxes that need to be destroyed in order for them to be able to ruin Lord Voldemort. The scene in the caverns under Gringott's, the Wizard Bank were well done and the dragon looked beautiful in 3D. The remainder of the film is, for the most part, the Battle of Hogwarts. Yes, they dedicate essentially an hour and a half or so to what happens in the battle at the schoool, but that's a good thing. It's a busy battle with Harry's adventure mixed in which worked as a plot style. There are moments that will definitely get to you but there are funny moments too. As in all the films Neville Longbottom is used more for laughs then anything, but he shows a brave side to him we all knew was coming. Both Mrs. Weasly and
Minerva McGonagall have lines that gained a huge laugh from the audience and a few of the deaths in the film gained applause. Overall the film was incredibly well done, the effects were stunning, the make up was great, and the sets were breath taking. Overall definitely worth seeing, and seeing in 3D if you can swing the few extra dollars.

It was the epilouge at the end that served as both the saddest point in the film, and in my opinion, the worst done point in the film. Unless I missed something, which I doubt I did, seeing as I went to the very first showing, it seems like the epilouge was trimmed down a bit, focusing on Harry and his son Albus Severus Potter, elimating many moments. References to Lilly and James, Harry and Ginny's two other children, merely showing them, but not naming them; no mention of the names of Ron & Hermionie's, Draco Malfoy and his Wife, or any other kids for that matter. The part where Lupin and Tonk's child is caught making out with Bill and Fleur's was cut and any mention of anyone's fates is cut as well. I rather enjoyed knowing Neville became a professor and that Hagrid was still on the grounds. I guess you can't have everything though. I know they reshot the epilogue so maybe on the Blu Ray release they will have the original take which, hopefully, contains those important lines. Really they aren't crucial so I can see why they were chopped but I liked them being there. If I am the only one I will shut up though.

When that epilouge rolled though, I was crying and not little tears, but crocodile tears. I was 11 when the first film came out. I feel like I made my journey with Harry and like he was a part of the family. Seeing his series come to an end makes me more than a little upset. I won't have to deal with it long as on July 31st, 2011 as soon as midnight hits I'm attempting to be one of the first million to join Pottermore. I believe that night it's open to the first  million on a first come first serve basis for a beta version and then in october the site goes live to all. Pottermore will be a new  way to re-experience the entire series of books, which will be nice. Harry can continue to grow with us a bit in new ways.

Instead of siging off with my usual line and name, I would like to close today with a line by J.K. Rowling, that I think is for all of us who grew with Harry.

"Whether by book or by film, hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." -JK Rowling

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is Jailbreaking Dead?

Notorious iOS Hacker Comex has released the 3.0 version of  his unteathered and mobile Safari-based iOS jailbreak ( which makes jailbreaking your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad literally as  easy as installing an app from the App Store. When the jailbreak went live I made sure to get on and run it on my iPhone. It was nice having my iPhone free from Apple's controling ways again, but as I went through Cydia, the jailbreak app store, I just couldn't find anything that appealed to me. Not because I am an Apple fan boy or anything, but simply because Apple is fixing the issues with it's mobile OS.

The first time I ever jailbroke a device was back when I had my iPod Touch (first generation) running one of the 3.x.x firmwares. I jailbroke the little thing mainly because I wanted to be able to do the following: add a background to my home screen, make folders to organize things, and really just make a few  minor cosmetic changes like fonts and stuff (but those I could easily live without). Eventually my iPod touch died and I was stuck with just my 160 GB Classic for music and an old Virgin Mobile phone. One day my dad decided that it would be fun to get me an iPhone, so I wound up with a 3GS, which despite having fewer cameras and a lower resolution than the 4 is still a very nice phone. Somewhere in the land of iOS 4.x.x I decided to jailbreak again, when JailbreakMe 2.0 was out, I even advocated it in a short lived iPhone produced show called Dan's Realm. The jailbreak was nice because I was able to tether for a little while (though I gave up when I saw the amount of data it was consuming). Nothing else in the Cydia store really appealed to me though, seeing as Apple gave me home screen backgrounds and folders. I restored my phone and tried to jailbreak one more time on iOS 4.3.2 but  that was an awful experience so I gave up on jailbreaking.

Then JailbreakMe 3.0 came out and I just had to try it one last time. The only apps I found really worth installing were BiteSMS (which I couldn't even get to run on the latest firmware) and LockInfo. Neither of these really hit close to home either though, as the notification center is on it's way in iOS 5. If Steve Jobs could just turn around now and let us install custom made text  messaging tones I  think that jailbreaking the iPhone would truly be dead.

I don't know about you, but personally I believe that the iOS jailbreak is nearing a point where it will be useless seeing as Apple is finally hearing our pleas. As they see what the jailbreak community is doing to modify the OS it appears that they are following suit by putting a team of Apple Geniuses together to work on assembling the new features to launch. I'm an iPhone user and I plan to be as long as I can afford to, but I know longer see the need to jailbreak a device.

What are your thoughts on this? Is jailbreaking dead? Do you think that jailbreaking is still a technological process that is needed for an iPhone? Sound off in the comments below.

Until next time,

Sunday, July 3, 2011

RIP Jim Morrison

No major post for today or the next few days as my 4th of July festivities begin tomorrow. Just wanted to take a moment and say Happy 4th of July to everyone here in America and RiP Jim Morrison, he's been gone for about 40 years yet he still is able to impact artists and individuals. We miss you.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

"My Two Dads" are "Two and a Half Men"

Last week while I was out picking up some new DVDs to watch for the week my mom stumbled upon two DVDs for $1.99 each at Target. One was "ThirtySomething" which was a drama in the eighties or nineties. It's never been a show that appealed to me, but I decided to borrow the other DVD and give it a watch through which is "My Two Dads", a TV sitcom that aired in 1987 and stars Paul Reiser (of "Mad About You" and "Aliens" fame) along with Greg Evigan as two former friends who had a falling out in college over a girl who had slept with (and loved) both of them. The woman passes  away and the  show begins with the reading of her will, where she leaves each men fifty percent of her estate. Her estate, as it turns out, is her twelve year old daughter, Nicole. At first the two men, Michael and Joey, are reluctant to raise the young girl, but in the end decide to put their differences aside, move in together, and decide to raise the child. To add a little comedy to the situation, the judge in charge of the child's case is also the landlord of the building where the men live with their daughter. Other stars of the show include Staci Keanan as Nicole and Florence Stanley as the Judge, along with football great Dick Butkus.

The series itself works. Being  released in the 80's despite running for only three seasons it can be looked at as one of the sitcom greats, though it was beat out by a bigger monster "Full House". The show was able to catch the eye of some audiences...or at least enough to warrent DVD releases. It was a name in the credits though that really caught my eye. Chuck Lorre. I'm pretty sure that name is clicking with a lot of you right now. Chuck Lorre is the creative force behind "Two and a Half Men" which up until the upcoming season starred Charlie Sheen. Twenty years prior to creating "Two and a Half Men" Lorre worked  as a story writer on at least 12 episodes of "My Two Dads" which almost shows up with the premise of "Men". Think about it, two guys live together raising a child. One is a rule abiding good guy and one is a partying womanizer. Sure nobody had to die to move the plot of "Men" but you still can't deny the similiarities.

What do you think of these two shows? Sound off below.


Friday, July 1, 2011

World of Warcraft: Starter Edition - Not As Good As it Gets

Yesterday I reported that Blizzard Games dropped the ten and fourteen day trials of their 7 year hit "World of Warcraft" and replaced them with a Level Capped free trial where you could play the game absolutly free until level 20. As with most too good to be true things this is. I'm not gonna sit here and give you a full review of the game seeing as it's been around more than long enough that there are more than a billion reviews on the game. Instead I am here to talk with you about the the Started Edition of the game, ie the trial.

The worst part of this trial is that there are limits to the game. I don't mind a level cap of 20, that isn't bad. But here are a few other limits on the Starter Edition directly from the WoW support site.

*A level cap of 20.
*A maximum of 10 gold.
*Trade skills are capped at 100 ranks.
*Unable to trade via the Auction House, mailbox, or player-to-player.
*In-game access to public chat channels unavailable. Players are limited to communicating using only say, party, or whisper.
*Characters will be unable to create or join guilds.
*Characters are not able to send whispers to other characters unless they have been added to the characters’ friends lists or have received a whisper from a character first.
*Characters will not be able to invite other players into a party.
*Characters will not be able to join parties with other characters above level 20.
*Voice chat disabled on Starter Edition accounts.
*Realms experiencing login queues will prioritize players who have full, paid accounts.
*Starter Edition accounts are not eligible for character transfers.
*RealID features are disabled on all Starter Edition Accounts.

At first glance these don't really seem to be a big deal but when you put the all togehter it really hinders a bit of the game experience, stripping you of what the full game is like. The marketing on this made it seem like it would be the full version of the game capped to level 20. In the end all of the Limitations don't make for a true experience, although I honestly can't compare it to the previous trial versions. The game itself I didn't see what the big deal with it is. It didn't fully captivate me. I might fire it up one more time to give it a second shot but it just didn't pull me in. I believe that this trial actually backed up the internet belief that World of Warcraft is dying and in my eyes, this was just another nail in the coffin. If you like WoW, more power to ya. I say go for the subscription one here, and it's rare for me to say pay for a game monthly. I'm more concerned with what the new World of Warcraft by some upcoming developer will be.

Until Next time,

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Free-to-Play or Pay-to-Play

Within the last two days something almost astounding has happened. Blizzard, the company behind one of the worst Geek/Nerd Adictions (World of Warcraft) made a slight change to a portion of their business model. Previously there were three versions of World of Warcraft available, a 10-Day Trial, a 14-Day Trial, and the Full game that had a subscription cost. They flipped the game on the trial versions of WoW though, eliminating them entirely. In the place of them they put a new system. World of Warcraft: Starter Edition, which is entirely free. Once I finish the download and have a chance to play with it a bit I will do a full post about it, but this blog post is about something slightly different that WoW:SE sparked in my mind: the thought that right now games, especially MMORPGs cost too much. Hear me out on this a little bit: do  you want to pay a monthly cost to be able to play a game you already bought? World of Warcraft isn't free to begin with and then you have to figure the subscription costs into the equation. In the end the game winds up costing you hundreds to thousands of dollars. Not happening with me. At the same rate do you really wanna have to shell out around $60 bucks or more on a game? Again not really. This is where I think that we need to take a new approach to things. Two business models that work: Free-to-Play and FreeMium (which are essentially the same thing). 

Heres the deal with FtP and FM: The game itself is free to download (cut out physical media, that costs $$$), the entire game is free, and not shelling out a penny won't hinder your game experience at all. HOWEVER, you are given the option to shell out money to get various add-ons in the game to give you a slight advantage over other players or to enhance your own experience. This model works. The best example of it is game design company Nexon who specializes in Free-to-Play games. Their current line up includes "Combat Arms" which is essentially the multiplayer mode from any frist person shooter game; "Mapel Story" which is a 2D side-scrolling MMORPH; "Vindictus" and action game; "Atlanrica Online" an MMORPG Real Time Strategy game; and several others (the info on all these games can be found at )

The point is that these are great games, especially "Combat Arms". A friend of mine introduced me to it and I have logged a lot of hours in it, it runs very smoothly on my slightly above average laptop, and it does basically everything a $60 top of the line game can do for free. 

The makers of "Team Fortress 2" recently put that game in the Steam market as a Free-to-Play game that again offers a great experience for no money down and no money taken from you if you so choose not to hand any over. The game World of Warcraft currently is not totally free as it is capped at level 20, but this could be signs that it's time for Blizzard to go totally free with WoW and then offer extras to paying customers without making the free users take a beating. 

This sparks the question though: should more games go Free-to-Play or FreeMium or are the game companies within their rights to be bloodsucking leeches and take insane prices and subscription fees for something that has been proven to be dones just as good for free. Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below and tell me this as well: what Free-to-Play or FreeMium games do you like to play? 


Google+ : What is It?

Hello everyone, Dan here with another look into the Mind of Dan. Right now I want to take the time to talk to you about something a little different than movies and a lack of originality in the world. I want to talk to you about social networking which is the topic that is filling the blogosphere right now because Google (you know, that company that owns everything on the internet except for iTunes and Facebook) has released a field test version of their newest *cough* *cough* attempt at a "FaceBook" killer. The test this time? Google+. Yes you read that right....Google+ If you haven't heard about the story by now (I myself discovered it in a video from Chris Pirillo on YouTube the other day) I'm here to fill you in.

The best place to start is the beginning. A long time ago MySpace came out and everybody thought it was the greatest thing on the planet and that it would never leave and that it would remain the greatest social networking site ever. Well a little ways down the road this kid at Harvard invented a communication system that eventually became (just watch "The Social Network" for that story). So anyway, Facebook comes out and Google (the big rainbowed colored giant) decided they wanted in on the social networking game, just like Facebook and Twitter. What did they launch? Google Buzz. Google Buzz probably could have held it's own had they not focused on it's tie in to GMail so much, which meant about 1/3 of the population knew about it. Once that failed (yet Google Buzz is still active, you can find me there as HollywoodLights1992) they decided to take a second approach to the game. This time it was called Orkut. Here's an idea of how great Orkut was: give me a second to go run a quick Google search on what the Hell it was so I can give you the 411.

Ok, I'm back. Here's the 411 on Orkut. It's 6 years older than Google Buzz and has 100 Million active users. SOMEHOW, I JUST MANAGED TO FIND OUT ABOUT THIS ONE. Good work on the promotion there Google. Stellar effort. I may join later just to see if it is at all decent.

So now Google is taking it's next step, Google+. Here's the gist on that: first off, the offical blog about Google+ says that, and I quote, "In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.". I'm pretty sure this was the mission statement the last few times, along with every social network ever made. Social networking isn't going to be perfect. Live with it. Getting back on topic Google+ is broken into...*counts*1...2...3...ALOT of different areas. Here's a quick rundown of each.

*Circles- Basically the idea is this. You get a bunch of circles you can lable and put each of your friends into a different circle and then selectively share all of your information with different circles (ie if you have those incriminating Beer Pong photos you would rather not have your boss see). My take on this is that it could actually be a decent feature to have in a social network....get some control.

*Sparks- What I can gather from the video on this one is that it's a way to search your hobbies and interests and then Google will send you links, vids, and blogs that you will find interesting that you can then share with your applicable circles. Interesting.

*Hangouts- I'm not getting into this one a lot, it's simple. Face to Face, multiperson, video chatting.

*Mobile- This is the one that I am most concerned with, as I spend a lot more time on my iPhone out and about than I do on the internet these days. Luckily Google+ has thought of that. Location is a big mobile deal so just like every other social network out there it gives you the option to add your location to posts. Theres also instant uploads. You snap pictures and you can send them right to an album in the cloud so that you can get them on any device as you see fit. It'll be interesting to see how this works on the iPhone as opposed to Android devices (which we can assume will have Google+ built right in with the release of Android OS 3).

*Huddle- All this is is a group messaging experience. Hard to find that interesting.

According to the GoogleBlog post (6/28/2001 10:45:00 AM) Google+ is currently available in the Android Market and Mobile Web and will be hitting the App Store for iPhone soon. The service is currently in an invitation only field test, but be sure to check back to this blog for updates as I will give Google+ a chance and do a review on it once it is out.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Are There Any Original Ideas Anymore?

Hey there everyone. Welcome back to "From the Mind of Dan". I was just sitting around playing "Angry Birds" in Google Chrome (yes, this dedicated FireFox user uses Chrome to play freakin' "Angry Birds") and listening to "Weird Al" Yankovic. For those of you who don't know Al (@AlYankovic on Twitter), he's a parody artist who takes original songs by artists (examples: "My Sharona" by the Knack, "Lola" by the Kinks, "Party in the USA" by Miley  Cyrus, and so on) and morphs them into something new. Now mind you, he does do original songs too. I got to thinking though, are there really any ORIGINAL ideas anymore. Now I am not here to call Al a theif (he's one of my favorite artists) or anyone for that matter, but now a days I believe everything borrows from somewhere. 

Now sometimes a TV show borrows from a TV (can you say 'cheap TV cross over' boys and girls) or it takes a nice established premise ("The Simpsons") and adjusts it for a more mature audience ("Family Guy"). Sometimes it's a cheap spin off that people aren't entirely interested in. In other cases it's a musical artist that borrows from elsewhere. The best form I can really think of though is movies borrowing from literature. The biggest culprit of this? Disney. Disney has little to no original movies from the list of their most popular ones. Granted their work with Pixar is original and a few of their films aren't blatantly plot borrowers but a lot of them are. I now present for you a brief list of a few Disney offenders. 

*"The Lion King"- Everyone loves the story of Simba! Simba as a young boy (cub) has his father, the king (Mufasa) killed by his evil uncle (Scar) who then blames Simba for it and assumes the throne, only to have Simba to return years later and gain his vengeance. I love that film and I love that story. Audiences also enjoyed that story a few centuries ago when William Shakespear first published and performed the play "Hamlet". 

*"Beauty and the Beast"- Who doesn't know the story of this one? Beauty goes to castle and falls in love with a beast. It's a movie that teaches you to look past a persons outward appearence and look at their inner beauty. Ironically this was the intention of the original French fairy tale "La Belle et la Bete"! 

*"Aladdin"- Here's a classic tale that spawned a few sequels, video games, and a TV series. There's no way ANYTHING in this one was ripped off...wait....Aladdin...a magic lamp and a wish granting Genie....40 Theives....didn't....oh yeah, those are some of the tales in "1001 Arabian Nights". NEXT!

*"The Little Mermaid"- Fairy tale. 

*"Snow White"- Fairy Tale

*"Hercules"- Greek and Roman Mythology.

*"Mary Poppins"- A children's novel series written by P.L. Tavers. 

Yes it's true there are some Disney movies that I can neither confirm or deny are original like "Bambi" but for the most part Disney lifts their content from elsewhere and then takes the liberty of making it kid friendly, so now I ask you, do you think there are still truly original ideas out there or do you believe that everything is borrowing from something at this point. Sound off with your thoughts below in the comments. 

From the Mind of Dan this is Dan Signing off. 

Welcome to The Mind Of Dan

Hey all. Welcome to the very first post on my new blog "From the Mind of Dan". The goal here is to tie this into the rest of my social media and what not. Anyway, the best way to start with all this is to run down the list of locations where you can find me to interact with me. First off, there is the blog here. But I am also on the 140 character social network, Twitter. You can find me there at and yes, I do actually tweet. More so now than I did. I post pictures pretty regulary now on my account, which is HollywoodLights1992. Sometimes the pics are ones from my webcam album from when I am bored, or sometimes they are a picture from a memory I have or something. I like to mix it up. I like to post writing and poetry and art on my account which is DragonKing1992 so I would love for you to join me there. I actively post videos on a account, HollywoodLights1992. I haven't been to the next one in a while but I am getting active again on 
At this time those are my only profiles that I have tagged here and in YouTube videos and stuff. I do use Empire Avenue a little now so look me up on there. You can also follow me on the iPhone App Miso so let me know if you want to follow me there. That falls under the movie side of me and the side of me that wants to be an actor someday. For the geek side I am a memeber of 

As far as the content I write I want to blog on everything I can think of (hense the title). I blog on tech, I blog on video games, I blog on movies and TV shows and music and anything else that can possibly enter my mind. I hope you will decide to read this blog and comment on it. Let me know what you want to see and ask questions. I will be glad to answer them. 

Until next time this is Dan signing out,