Night At The Museum (2006) Movie Review

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This review was originally written on December 5, 2007
Enjoyable Movie If You Shut Your Brain Off, Seriously Flawed If You Think About It

This film is filled with so many plot holes that I simply can not list them all here. In fact, I couldn't even list them all because there are more than I can recall. I will go through the ones that immediately sprang to mind as I was watching the film and was thinking about it afterwards.

-- What museum in 2006 doesn't have security cameras? Surely someone would have watched the tapes and seen the living creatures..

-- There's major noise and ruckus every night, yet no one in the city notices? The police are never called?

-- The movie takes place over three to four consecutive days, yet Larry (Ben Stiller) never sleeps the whole time. He's on the job at night, and seen awake during each day.

-- Why did Cecil (Dick Van Dyke) and his crew wait until they retired to pull off the heist? Why put up with the job and the living creatures for 50+ years? It would have made more sense for them to do heist when they were young, and then take it easy for the rest of their lives.

-- Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) is aware of the fact that he's a mannequin (he tells Larry that he can't help him because he's just a mannequin and not the real Teddy Roosevelt), so how does he and the other mannequins and statues have the knowledge and behaviors of the people and creatures they resemble? Maybe they "overheard" their character's history during the daytime museum tours, but they wouldn't know as much as they apparently do. This invalidates the notion of Rebecca (Carla Gugino) talking to Sacajawea for "personal" information about her life.

-- The museum curator noticed the fire extinguisher foam in the cavemen exhibit, but didn't notice that one of the cavemen was missing?

These were just the few things I noticed immediately during and after watching the film.

Should you still wish to own the movie, it is available on Blu-ray, 2-Disc DVD, 2-Disc DVD, 1-Disc DVD, and in several sets with the second and third movies.

ProVenture Label Maker v4.0 PC Software Review & Registration Nag Removal

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This review was originally written on September 7, 2007
ProVenture Label Maker 4: That's Both The Version Number And How Many Files It Creates PER Label!!!

I will be reviewing ProVenture Label Maker v4.0, which may be the product that some Amazon Marketplace sellers are selling here, here, here, here, and here. It was released in 2006 (according to the copyright date on the blue and white box).

Product Information
* Developed by: ProVenture
* Published by: Avanquest
* UPC: 018059051249
* Serial/SKU/Model: 5124

System Requirements:
* Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
* Pentium III or higher
* 95 MB disk space
* 128 MB RAM
* CD-ROM Drive
* Inkjet or laser printer

I bought this product because I wanted to have a 32-bit replacement for the label making component of the old 16-bit Print Shop Deluxe that I've been using (it came out in 1994 and was designed for Windows 3.1!!!). I saw this on the shelf at MicroCenter, and although I don't buy boxed software anymore (at least not without downloading a trial first), I couldn't resist the ten dollar price tag, so I bought it.

This review will actually be a quick list of notes I wrote up as I was testing out the program. Some are criticisms, and others are notes on using the program. These are somewhat organized in the order in which you'd come across these issues when installing and running the program, though the information on the registration nag is at the end so it is easier to read.

-- Run setup.exe to directly install the program without having to go through the trial screen interface (trial copies of other programs are available on the CD). You still will be nagged to install a payment service (to accept credit card payments for your business) and the NewsFlash program (used to send you company updates). You can easily say NO to both.

It would be nice to not have ANY kind of nags like this.

-- The program doesn't copy the clipart folder from the CD to the hard drive, even though it makes an empty Clipart directory in the program directory.

-- Some program settings are found in mylabels32.ini in the C:\Windows (or C:\WinNT) directory. This file is not deleted if you uninstall the program.

-- The program saves _FOUR FILES_ for every saved label (the files have the extensions .lbl, .bcf, .fsif, .msif). Even if you just have a label with one piece of data on it, and nothing in the databases, it still saves it as four files. For a simple label with just a name and address on it (no database entries), the combined size of the four files is 35 Kb. Other label making programs save only one file, with a size between 1 and 6 Kb.

This is the primarily deal-breaker for me. This is the reason why I'm no longer keeping the program. If I make 10 labels, I will have 40 FILES(!) to deal with. That's just not right.

Unfortunately, MicroCenter won't take the item back because they don't take back opened software (as is the usual policy for most stores). I can't take advantage of the publisher's 30-Day Money Back Guarantee because I didn't get a chance to install the software until a bit more than 30 days after I bought it. Granted, ten dollars isn't a big loss, but it's still a loss.

-- To print an entire sheet of labels containing the same data on each label (just a single name and address - hard-coded to the design, not from a database), you must set the number of copies on the Print dialog box to the number of labels on the sheet (30 for the Avery 5160/8160/8660/6460 layout). This is not very intuitive, as the Copies field normally selects the number of PAGES to be printed (as it is standard in all Print dialogs for ALL Windows programs).

This is the other deal-breaker, especially since the number of "copies" resets to 1 every time you run the program (as that is what Windows normally does in the Print dialog window of ANY program). So every time I open and print one of my labels (as I tend to create labels with singular data, not from databases), I have to remember to change the number of "copies" to 30. The program won't even save that information to any of the four files that it creates for each label.

-- If there are multiple records in your database, and you just want to print one, select the record you want to print by entering the same record number in both From and To fields in the Print Range.

HOW TO REMOVE THE REGISTRATION NAG WITHOUT REGISTERING

This information is for ProVenture Label Maker v4.0, which was released in 2006 (according to the copyright date on the blue and white box). I don't know if it applies to earlier or later versions. This info will tell you how to to remove the registration nag without registering, which is free but shouldn't be necessary (and will be impossible when the registration server goes offline years from now).

1. Open Notepad and type in the text that appears below.
REGEDIT4 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ProVenture\Label Maker\Reg] "Registered"=dword:00000001
2. Save the file as "nolabelnag.reg" (you might have to use the quotation marks in order to get Notepad to save it with a .reg extension). For easy access, save it to your desktop.

3. Now double-click on the file, and a message will pop up asking if you want to add the information to the registry. Click on YES.

4. Another window will pop up telling you that the information has been successfully entered into the registry.

5. Now run the Label Maker program, and notice that there is no registration nag screen when it loads. Enjoy!

Grounded For Life Season 1 DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 22, 2007
Misleading Packaging, Episodes Altered, Carsey-Warner Does Not Want To Cooperate In The Matter

I'm a big fan of Grounded For Life and have every episode on tape from the original Fox and WB broadcasts since day one (January 10, 2001). I was thrilled with the prospect of buying all of the episodes on DVD (save for season 5 which hasn't been released yet) so that I could have better quality copies, taking up less shelf space, and could then erase all of the tapes I recorded.

Although I have not had the chance to watch any of the episodes on the Season 1-4 DVD sets, I did check out all of the discs (to ensure playability) and actually stumbled upon something that I did not like: The season 1 episode "I Wanna Be Suspended" (disc 1, episode 3) has been ALTERED! The Ramones song "I Wanna Be Sedated" played during the concert scene in the original tv broadcast was replaced with generic music on the DVD (at 4:37), a brief concert flashback a few minutes later (at 7:28) replaced some instrumental song with a different instrumental song. There may be more alterations to this episode, or other episodes in any of the sets, as I didn't check any further than this.

I know why music is routinely replaced on TV-on-DVD releases, so I don't have a problem with the replacing of the music. However, I am displeased by the misleading packaging which states that these are "uncut" episodes. Although there is a difference between "uncut" and "unaltered", the "uncut" remark on the box implies that the episodes are exactly the same as what was originally shown on TV, which obviously isn't true. The "uncut" statement should have had an asterisk directing to text at the bottom to tell that music has been altered in some episodes.

I sent an e-mail to Anchor Bay (TVonDVD@anchorbayent.com), the company that released the DVD sets, to get a complete list of all alterations (music or otherwise) for every Grounded For Life set. Surely a list of alterations for every set must exist, as the person at Carsey-Warner whose job it is to replace the music when the episodes are prepped for DVD has to have a list to work off of. Since I have the entire series on tape in their original network broadcast versions, I need to know which of my recorded episodes I need to keep because they're different from what I just bought on DVD, as I plan on erasing the taped episodes that are 100% exactly the same as on the DVD.

I received a reply from Rose Zivkovich. She e-mailed Janet Bonifer, Executive Director of Marketing & Creative Services at Carsey-Warner (her address is either jbonifer@carseywerner.com or jbonifer@cwm.com), who told Rose that "Our legal department advises against providing this type of information to consumers."

These is no legal reason why Janet, or anyone else at Carsey-Warner, could not furnish the list to me (whether through Rose, or to me directly). Anyone who has every episode on tape from the original Fox and WB broadcasts (like me) and has the time (not like me) could check every one of the 78 episodes (91 episodes, including Season 5) one-by-one to compile the same list. Getting the list from Carsey-Warner would save time, energy, and insure completeness in the list.

I tried e-mailing Carsey-Warner directly via the most appropriate contact I could find (Janet's boss): Barron Postmus, bpostmus@cwm.com, Vice President of Marketing & Creative Services. To no surprise, he has not replied to any of the e-mails that I've sent to him.

I made one final attempt to obtain the list of alterations by writing a letter to the series creators Mike Schiff & Bill Martin via their agent (c/o Nancy Jones, Creative Artists Agency, 2000 Avenue Of The Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067). It's now two months since I sent the letter and I have not heard back from them, by either postal mail or e-mail.

It's rather disheartening to know that Carsey-Warner does not want to cooperate in the matter. It's sad that they treat their fans this way. The company makes money off of us fans, and would go out of business if none of us watched their shows and bought the related products.

The Flintstone Flyer Warner Bros. TV Premiere DVD Review

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This review was originally written on April 5, 2007
Good Episode, Cheaply-Made & Over-Priced DVD

This DVD contains just one episode, "The Flintstone Flyer", which aired on 9/30/1960, and has an exact runtime of 26:23. Although this was the first episode to air, contrary to what it says in the upper right corner of the packaging, it is NOT the pilot episode (that would be "The Swimming Pool" which aired two weeks later - and can be found on the "Cartoon Crack-Ups" DVD). I know that this episode and many more can be found on the Season 1 release, but I'm not that big of a fan of the show, so I'm happy with just this one episode (which I previously taped from Cartoon Network). I also have no qualms about the video and audio quality as it looks and sounds good.

My issues with this DVD are in regards to features that are apparently prevalent in ALL of the titles in Warner Brothers' "TV Premiere DVD" series.

-- The disc does not come in a plastic case, but rather in a cardboard sleeve which opens on the side. I've purchased $1 public domain DVDs from no-name companies that came in plastic slim cases, so it's appalling that a $6 DVD from a big-name company would be done so cheaply. Also, the sleeve has a hole at the top in the center where the peg would go for it to be hung on a rack like an action figure or toy. The hole has been edited out of the promo photos that Warner Bros. gave Amazon to display for the DVDs.

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-- The text on the disc is very faint and hard to read - another way Warner Bros. skimped on production costs.

-- The cheapness doesn't stop at the packaging. The DVD does not contain a menu, not even a plain one. Because of this, there's an interesting glitch that happens if you let the DVD play past the episode. You see, after the episode plays, it goes to a FBI Warning on title 3, which then goes to the non-existent menu, so the player just hangs on a black screen.

-- They were even cheap in the placement of the chapters marks, which are placed every ten minutes (0:00, 10:00, and 20:00) no matter if it makes sense in the episode content for one to be there or not.

-- From what I've read, most (if not all) of the titles in the "TV Premiere DVD" series were originally released on VHS and/or laserdisc, with these DVDs being done from the VHS and laserdisc masters. The quality of The Flintstones DVD definitely appears to be better than VHS, so either it came from a laserdisc master, or not all of the titles were done from old home video masters.

Although at first I didn't mind paying $6 for one 26 minute episode, that was before I knew that the DVD didn't even come in a plastic case. Now that six dollars really seems like a rip-off.

Warner Bros. "TV Premiere DVD" Series (10 titles)
* The Flintstones - Flintstone Flyer
* The Jetsons - Microchip Chump
* ER - Pilot
* Babylon 5 - The Gathering
* Taboo - Tattoo
* Gilligan's Island - Two on a Raft & Home Sweet Hut
* The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest - Escape to Questworld
* Gilmore Girls - Pilot
* The Waltons - The Foundling
* Kung Fu - Pilot
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END

The Three Stooges PlayStation Video Game Review

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This review was originally written on December 4, 2006
A 2004 PlayStation Port Of A 2002 Gameboy Advance Game, Originally A 1987 Computer Game

I rented The Three Stooges PlayStation game, having played it originally on the NES back in 1988/1989. I even tried the Gameboy Advance version that was released two years before this version (in 2002). This version for the Playstation 1 is an EXACT EMULATION (A STRAIGHT PORT) OF THE GAMEBOY ADVANCE VERSION (but with some load screens). I was in utter shock when I loaded it up and saw the high amount of pixelation that could only come from taking the small GBA image and blowing it up to TV screen size.

The 2002 date being the ONLY date on the copyright screen is another dead giveaway of this being an emulation of the GBA version (normally a previously-released game like this would have on it's copyright screen the dates of the original release and the date of this release).

Most interesting, of course, is the fact that this game was originally released way back in 1987 on various computer systems (CBM 64, IBM, Atari, and Amiga).

To better illustrate the differences, check out the screen shots of the pie throwing scenes:

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It should be noted that the NES version is the only one with the Ghostbusters II reference/joke at the beginning. This is because it was (as far as I know) the only version published by Activision, who had the Ghostbusters video game license at the time.