Ready Player One: A Short Book/Movie Comparison

Let me start by saying that Ready Player One, The Book, is my all-time favorite book.  I have read it twice in print and I think I’ve listened to the unabridged audiobook 8-10 times.  Yes, that many.  I’m not sure exactly why.  Maybe because I connect with the era and nearly all of the hundreds of 80’s references it includes.  Maybe it’s just the way Wil Wheaton reads it to me.  Maybe a combination of all of this.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I’ve just thrown it on in the car driving to and from work many times–just for a quick fix–and whenever I do that, I get caught up in it and end up listening to it from start to finish again.  I always realize new things that I didn’t catch before, new connections between one part and another, one character becomes more clear in my mind, etc.  Simply put, I love the book a lot.

Today was opening day for the movie Ready Player One, so Kevin, Matt and I went to see it.  Shockingly, the theater was nearly empty.  I guess it hasn’t “caught on” yet.  I went in knowing that things would be different in the movie.  The screenplay was written by Ernest Cline though, the author of the book, so I figured he’d keep it as much like the book as he could.  Nope!  Not a chance.  The movie is completely different than the book.  So much so, that I think it should be viewed as a completely separate work.  It’s not the Ready Player One I knew.  I don’t really see how it could have the exact same name as the book, it’s that different.  The statements they’ve been using–“Based on the novel by Ernest Cline” is just not true, and using the movie’s logo and screenshot for the audiobook, which Audible changed right before the movie came out, is just plain wrong in my opinion.  They are two entirely different stories.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good movie.  I liked it.  But I think a lot of the biggest fans of the book, especially those who grew up in the 80’s like I did and enjoyed the hell out of all of the deep references and atmosphere of that time, are going to be very disappointed.  For one thing, the movie doesn’t stick to the 80’s anywhere near as closely as the book did.  But it was very amusing and fun to see all the “new” references–like seeing Chucky, the psycho doll from a few of my favorite campy horror movies, fighting right alongside Iron Giant, King Kong, and hundreds of others.  But that’s only a part of what was different.  The biggest difference was the puzzles required to obtain each of the three keys needed to reach the final Easter egg.  Almost nothing was from the book with these, and I thought they were pretty key to the story.  I understand that the need to cut a 12-hour story down to 2.5 hours requires a lot of changes and cutting of content, but the story was completely changed to the point where only small elements and “pieces” of the book remained in the story.   Even the Wade’s totally insane plan–which I thought was brilliant, and worked out for him in the end, in the book, was totally cut from the movie, and instead, Art3mis ends up being the one to sneak into “IOI” (Innovative Online Industries) and save the day.  Like I said, the vague elements were there, but blended up to make something totally different than the book.

Even one of the most important elements–the reason for the title “Ready Player One” itself, was nowhere in the movie at all–not even so much as an explanation.  The three words, “Ready Player One” are the very last thing every player sees when they put on their VR gear, leave the real world, and enter the world of the Oasis.  The movie should have been named “OASIS”, or “Anorak’s Game” or something like that, but not “Ready Player One”.  They could have even added the tagline “Based loosely on the novel, Ready Player One”, and that would have made much more sense to me, and probably many others.

In conclusion, if you haven’t read the book, go ahead and see the movie.  I recommend it.  It’s a fun, crazy, non-stop effects-fest you’ll probably enjoy.  It’ll definitely make you want to try out a little VR tech, if you haven’t already.  That technology certainly seems to be evolving quickly and we could end up with an “Oasis” of our own, for real!  But the movie also barely touched on the most important message in that regard:  The Oasis becomes so addictive that everyone started neglecting the real world in favor of the virtual one, so all of society was falling apart.  And if you HAVE read the book, just know that the movie, though it has the exact same name, is totally different.  The book had slow parts, explained all of the details and workings of everything, and took it’s sweet little time.  It was an awesome roller-coaster ride for me.  The movie was non-stop, hardly ever pausing for more than a moment so you can catch your breath, all the way to the end.  To me, this made the excitement and satisfaction of acquiring each of the three keys seem like much less of an accomplishment.  The book really put a fine point on these elements, and even gave you a frequent update on the scoreboard.  It even explained why Parzival, Art3mis, Aech, Daito, and Shoto were referred to as “The High Five”–the movie didn’t even mention it.  It only showed the scoreboard–very briefly–and I guess the viewer was supposed to make that connection automatically.  I’m not sure I would have…at least not the FIRST time I watched the move, had I not read the book.

Maybe reading and listening to the book so many times jaded me too much, and I ignored other, much better, stories in favor or experiencing The Oasis myself again and again… I don’t know.  I have heard some reviewers even complain about how horrible the writing is in the book, but I certainly didn’t get any sense of that at all.  Of course, I was so thrilled with all of the references to tons of things I grew up with myself, I was reveling in so much nostalgia, I might not have even realized it was actually crappy writing.  I guess I’ll just have to re-read it one more time… Perhaps after I see the movie once or twice more, just to catch everything I missed in it the first time.  Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

BvS in 4DX

I went to see Batman vs Superman on Sunday. In 4DX. I took Kevin and his girlfriend to Gurnee Mills, and I had a few hours to kill, so I went to see a movie. I went in having no idea what the heck a “4DX” movie was, I was just curious.

As it turned out, it was a blast…Quite literally! The price is even a kick in the nuts, as it turns out! I reluctantly sprung for the $19 ticket, saying to myself “Oh, this BETTER be good…” I skipped the snacks to make up the difference and just bought a small drink. Turns out I should have skipped that too–since I ended up WEARING half of it! If you’ve been to Six Flags, you have more than likely experienced the Space Shuttle simulation–with the moving, shaking seats and the huge screen and immersive experience. THAT is what 4DX is like, except it lasts for the entire length of the movie–two and a half hours! This includes shaking and rumbling seats, surround sound AND lighting–during lightning and explosions the entire theater flashes, wind, and even misting–yes, when it rains, or someone on-screen gets splashed, YOU do too!

Holding onto my drink and trying to find just the right “safe” time to take a sip, was an ordeal in itself! At several points I even had to grab onto my cell phone and glasses which were in the cup holder attached to the seat, because I thought they might fly out of the holder and onto the floor! Explosions were the most jarring, including gunshots, giving me quite the kick at times. You certainly can’t relax and fall asleep in one of THESE movies, that’s for sure!

A few times, I even got a bit queasy when the camera, often floating above the action, made the seat “float” through the air very slowly, and the accompanying breeze added to the effect perfectly, so it really felt like I was floating along with the camera. Very cool effect–enough to make me just a teeny bit ill.

Since I have a bad eye, I’m guessing much of the 3D impact was lost on me, but I could tell they tried hard, and the movie looked great with the glasses on, though, as always with me watching 3D, my eyes eventually began to water a few times.

When it was all over, it felt like I had spent an entire three hours on a Six Flags ride! I was actually exhausted. I thought the movie itself was good, but because it was my first time in a 4DX theater, all of the effects were a bit overwhelming and distracted me from focusing on the movie itself at several key times. I guess I’m going to have to go see it again–maybe next time at a standard theater so I can follow the story.

Oh, and when you see this movie in 4DX, they say the effects are actually enhanced for the “team” you are supporting. Sunday was “Team Batman”, so the effects from Batman were enhanced more than for Superman. Good thing too, because…well…I’d better stop right here before I say too much… Go see it for yourself.  Before someone spoils it for you.

Avengers: Age of James Spader

spadertronKevin and I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron on Sunday. It was great, but I had a couple minor issues — one with the movie, one with the seating. First, the seating. We usually always go to a new movie after it’s been out a week or two, so there’s no crowd and the seating is much better. This is what we did in this case. The movie has been out a couple weeks now, so we figured we were go to go. Wrong. I guess it says something about the popularity of Marvel movies, but it was still a nearly packed theater! We like to slip a seat and put our shared tub of popcorn between us, and I like to use both left and right cup holders (one for my phone, one for my drink) and put my sweater or coat in the other seat next to me. Well, I lost my sweater seat and extra cup holder to someone needing a seat at the last minute. Luckily we were able to keep our popcorn seat, so it could have been worse I guess.  As it was I had to hold my left arm to keep it from crowding the person sitting next to me, and had to force my left leg to stay in my seat area, which caused a bit of discomfort by the middle of the movie and through the end of it. But enough about the seating.

The movie was awesome and I only found one thing I didn’t like. The casting of James Spader as Ultron. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of James Spader–and that’s the root for the issue. Spader’s voice is all that’s used in the movie, you don’t actually see him, but his voice is so distinct and recognizable it pulled me out of the movie fantasy. I found my self thinking less “this is a huge, intelligent robot with a computerized voice” and more “hey, I know that voice from Boston Legal, The Practice, and what else was it…ummm…yeah, that new series I haven’t watched at all yet…what was the name of it… umm… ah yes, The Blacklist!” I just couldn’t think of him as a robot. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, excellent movie, awesome non-stop action, good humor mixed in perfectly, and the inevitable Stan Lee cameo always comes through as great, and funny, every time. Go see it. Or, better yet, wait for the Blu-Ray and watch it in the comfort of your own home, in HD, where you have room for your drink, popcorn, and perfect leg room! I guess the still-packed theater after being out a couple weeks is just another indication of how good the movie is though.  That very rarely happens to us when going to see a movie in Kenosha.

Oscars

lego oscarDid you watch the Oscars? What a mess. I thought the host was terrible–I hate Neil Patrick Harris, and he was as bad as I figured.  Not funny at all, and some pretty insulting jokes at times. His opening number had some great effects in it, making it look like it was live, but it was all pre-configured to look that way. Nothing else on the show impressed me.  Except the Lego Oscars that were handed out during the performance of “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego movie.  Those looked 3D printed.  Now I’m wondering if they’re on thingiverse.com.

And the Oscar everyone waits for–Best Picture — always at the very end of the show – was the final nail in the coffin: Birdman.  Seriously??? I fell asleep halfway through that movie and never got around to finishing it, it just didn’t make much sense to me. I guess I should have tried–and probably will now, just to see what happened that made it worthy of the best picture Oscar.  American Sniper won far too few awards, and Grand Budapest Hotel won far too many awards. Gawd, THAT movie was a real comedic farce. The goofy sets and comical acting was like watching the game “Clue” come to life. So many backgrounds and sets were so fake-looking I didn’t know if they were SUPPOSED to look like that, or if it was just really poorly made.  Just a ridiculously goofy movie.

And Neil Patrick Harris in his tidy whities?  Come on, I know it was a reference to Birdman, but it was still just as lame as the rest of his performance and just seemed embarrassing.  That’s about all I can say.  Since the Oscars are pretty much my “SuperBowl” for the year (I prefer the Oscars over the actual SuperBowl, and watch the SuperBowl just for the commercials), I would say this year it was just as disappointing and the playoff game that lost the Packers this year’s championship.  Just a lame year all the way around I guess.  Better luck next time!

Now I’m off to see if I can get through Birdman without falling into a near-coma again… Wish me luck!

Boyhood, The Beatles and The Black Album

This holiday season we watched a movie called “Boyhood”.  One of the many great things about the movie is how it reflects many aspects of life, and in this case, passing down musical taste from generation to generation. In one scene in the movie, Ethan Hawke’s father character describes to his son (played by Ellar Coltrane) “The Black Album.” What is it? Basically, what we’re describing, a greatest hits mix-tape and “secret” Beatles record which is essentially a collection of all the best solo Beatle songs – Songs performed by all 4 Beatles BEFORE or AFTER The actual Beatles, either when they were solo or in other bands. Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater came up with the track list together. If you’ve never delved in very deep with Beatles solo albums and wished there was one more Beatles record after Let It Be, well this it the playlist for you. The whole thing acts as a mixtape that Ethan Hawke writes for his son in the movie. And there’s even liner notes that begin:

“Mason,
I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom.  This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance. I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.”

The Beatles - The Black AlbumAfter looking at the playlist, I drooled. I wanted this. So I spent a few days over my Christmas/New Years holiday vacation this year and actually put the REAL CDs together. I was shocked to find I was only missing 3 songs! I bought those on Amazon.com and added them to complete the albums. I spent a whopping $1.87! Then I even found a cover art image on the internet that looked perfect, and changed the cover art and metatags for the album name so it matched the album info on every track. Here’s the album cover:

I used MediaMonkey for this, which is awesome for just such mass-changes. It worked out beautifully and I now have this 3-CD set on my phone to play any time I want to. Here’s the track list if you’re interested:

Disc 1:
1. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Band on the Run”
2. George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”
3. John Lennon feat. The Flux Fiddlers & the Plastic Ono Band, “Jealous Guy”
4. Ringo Starr, “Photograph”
5. John Lennon, “How?”
6. Paul McCartney, “Every Night”
7. George Harrison, “Blow Away”
8. Paul McCartney, “Maybe I’m Amazed”
9. John Lennon, “Woman”
10.Paul McCartney & Wings, “Jet”
11. John Lennon, “Stand by Me”
12. Ringo Starr, “No No Song”
13. Paul McCartney, “Junk”
14. John Lennon, “Love”
15. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “The Back Seat of My Car”
16. John Lennon, “Watching the Wheels”
17. John Lennon, “Mind Games”
18. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Bluebird”
19. John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” 20. George Harrison, “What Is Life”

Disc 2:
1. John Lennon, “God”
2. Wings, “Listen to What the Man Said”
3. John Lennon, “Crippled Inside”
4. Ringo Starr, “You’re Sixteen You’re Beautiful (And You’re Mine)”
5. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Let Me Roll It”
6. John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, “Power to the People”
7. Paul McCartney, “Another Day”
8. George Harrison, “If Not For You (2001 Digital Remaster)”
9. John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”
10. Wings, “Let ‘Em In”
11. John Lennon, “Mother”
12. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Helen Wheels”
13. John Lennon, “I Found Out”
14. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”
15. John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band, “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”
15. George Harrison, “Not Guilty (2004 Digital Remaster)”
16. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Heart of the Country”
17. John Lennon, “Oh Yoko!”
18. Wings, “Mull of Kintyre”
19. Ringo Starr, “It Don’t Come Easy”

Disc 3:
1. John Lennon, “Grow Old With Me (2010 Remaster)”
2. Wings, “Silly Love Songs”
3. The Beatles, “Real Love”
4. Paul McCartney & Wings, “My Love”
5. John Lennon, “Oh My Love”
6. George Harrison, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”
7. Paul McCartney, “Pipes of Peace”
8. John Lennon, “Imagine”
9. Paul McCartney, “Here Today”
10. George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”
11. Paul McCartney, “And I Love Her (Live on MTV Unplugged)”

Plex

plex

After over a year of using Plex, I checked my website and found no mention of it! Man, am I just not updating this site, or what!?! Again, apologies. Nuff said. So, Plex. Plex is a home media server. You’ll find all the details (and the download for it) at http://plexapp.com/.  Jay and I tried using several applications to handle our movie collections as well as our music collections, and just to stick to the topic at hand, I’ll just say that we kept coming back to Plex for various reasons.  It seems to handle the most formats of music and video out of all of the options we looked at, and handles them all better than the others as far as transcoding for the various platforms and for whatever streaming bandwidths we need.

We settled on the following solution for extracting (“ripping”) our DVD and Blu-Ray collections to standard video files: AnyDVD HD (Slysoft) and Handbrake (PC version). AnyDVD is a commercial product, so it will cost some money, but it does a fine job at enabling you to successfully rip your entire collection to regular video files for streaming. AnyDVD doesn’t actually do the extraction of the video, it simply ENABLES the ability to do it by removing any encryption that may be on the DVD or Blu-Ray disc you’re ripping. The app runs in your system tray and goes to work any time you insert a Blu-Ray or DVD into your DVD drive. Handbrake is the app we actually use to do the ripping. It has tons of options, and we settled on a few solid settings that work nicely across both Blu-Ray and DVD movies to provide a nice, consistent quality for all of our movies. Most, I must admit, are not “HD Quality” (1080p). Going with this quality for every movie would just fill up our drives way too quickly. And since standard DVDs aren’t 1080p anyway, it was pointless to go that route when we extracted our entire collections. We settled on a very good quality resolution that results in each standard movie taking about 1GB of space, more or less, depending on the actual length of the movie. Handbrake will also let us extract full HD 1080p videos if we want to, from Blu-Ray discs, but the resulting files are pretty enourmous, so they’re also that much harder to work with.

Finding those two solutions that work together so well–AnyDVD HD and Handbrake–was no small task either. We tested a lot of different applications before settling on these options, so trust me, they do work, and AnyDVD HD is updated very frequently to keep up with the latest protections added to new DVDs and Blu-Rays. Many solutions for doing the same things these two applications do have come and gone over the years too, but most have been eliminated due to lawsuits or the inability to stay updated. AnyDVD HD is the only one we’ve found to be consistently updated and just always works. How they can do it and stay in business, I don’t have a clue. I do know that it’s located in a foreign country though, which may have something to do with how they avoid being shut down, and another big factor is that the application doesn’t actually do the ripping of the data itself. In legal terms, “enabling” the ability to copy a movie and actually “performing” the act of copying a movie are two distinctly different things, so only enabling the ability for a user to copy content that they legally purchased (a DVD-based movie) apparently isn’t as bad as products that provided the “whole package”–something that “DVD-X Copy” and others did.

When you have AnyDVD HD installed, you can then use just about any “video extraction” application to copy your movies, since the disc is now unprotected and the movie is available to be copied using standard methods. We settled on Handbrake because it’s free, and, much like Plex, it just consistently works right. It does have a TON of options and settings, but once set properly, it does a fine job with both Blu-Ray movies as well as standard DVDs.

So once those options were settled upon, our movie collections began to build. When you configure Plex, you simply set it up with “Sections” for your media. For example, you could have a “Movies” section, “TV Shows” section, a “Music” section, etc., or anything you like. I even have a “Kids” section with just animated and children’s movies, which Kevin uses quite a bit. For each Section you add one of more folders from your computer. I have a “Movies” folder on my PC as well as a “Kids” folder for Kevin’s movies, so I pointed those Plex sections to their respective folders.

That’s pretty much all that’s required for setup! Seriously. Plex automatically goes out to the web and finds the cover art (called “posters” in Plex) and even adds several optional covers for every movie it finds. It also adds all of the movie’s details to its database, and all of this info is displayed whenever you browse your Plex movies or their details. It ends up looking pretty much like Netflix or Hulu, and it’s just as easy to use. Of course, if a cover poster isn’t right, was incorrectly matched, or the movie wasn’t found at all, you can manually edit it to your liking and/or add your own cover art to make it appear exactly as you like.

As I mentioned earlier, Plex is available on pretty much every device you might have with a screen. On the PC, smartphone, or tablet you can use the “PlexWeb” interface to do movie database editing or just for watching movies. Or, on your smartphone or tablet you can use the Plex app for that platform to stream movies ever easier and smoother. Plex on a “real” TV is awesome though. I researched streaming TV devices shortly after starting to use Plex, and found, to my delight, that most of them have a natvie Plex app! After some careful consideration, I ended up purchasing a “Roku” box. This is a hockey puck-sized black box that connects to your TV via HDMI. It can connect to your home network via wireless or wired network (the particular model I got offered a wired option, but some of them only offer wireless). Either way, I use mine wirelessly, even though it’s a little slower that what a wired connection would offer, and it still performs very nicely.

Roku boxes offer hundreds of free (and some paid) “channels”, which are the apps that control whatever streaming service you’d like to do. For example, Hulu and Netflix are optional channels on Roku, as well as Plex and other media streaming apps. Most are free (even Hulu and Netflix, though once you open them you have to sign into your paid account to actually USE them) so don’t be fooled. There are plenty of REALLY FREE streaming apps too though. The content can get pretty obscure, but I guess it’s pretty easy for almost anyone to create an app for these systems and offer streaming content. I love my TWiT Network app now too–This is the “This Week in Tech” network that Leo LaPorte (formerly of TechTV fame) built and it offers some great web-only streaming tech shows.

So the Plex app on Roku is excellent and I use it almost daily to watch my ripped movies and TV shows now. I can’t even remember the last time I had to take a DVD or Blu-Ray out of its box to watch a movie! It’s been many months. Whenever I buy a new movie, it gets opened once, inserted into the PC, and ripped to my server, then it goes back in the box. I only go back to the disc if I want to watch a “behind the scenes” feature or special feature other than the movie that was included on another disc or on the original DVD or Blu-Ray. These smaller videos can also be ripped from the discs as well, and you can even have them added to the end of the movie in Plex if you want, but I leave them on the disc normally, and use Plex just for the movies. It’s fairly rare that I want to view special features, so I don’t mind pulling out the discs for just these times.

Plex is free, and is technically still in “beta”, which means it’s not quite “done” yet. It’s quite complete compared to a lot of other options we’ve tried though, so don’t hesitate to start using it! Handbrake, as I mentioned earlier, is free as well, and is in about the same state–neither of these applications have reached version “1.0” yet, but they’re both still top-notch at what they do. You’d only have to shell out a little money for AnyDVD HD, but it’s well worth it. Oh, and you’d probably have to also purchase a large external hard drive to hold all of your movies and music, depending on how large your collection is. But hard drive prices are always dropping these days, so even that isn’t bad any more.

So that’s basically it, in a nutshell. It’s a great solution to make watching all of your home DVDs, Blu-Rays, Music CDs, and even Home Movies as simple as possible, to the point where you never have to get out of your chair to put in another disc! Of course, some of us could actually USE this little bit of extra exercise these days though… I make up for it by walking during lunchtime at work and taking the dog for extra walks at home.

The ISO Event

dvdA couple weeks ago, Jay told me about a server application that let you stream ISOs to your PS3.  I was in awe, and had to give it a shot.  I have a lot of backup ISOs of my movies, and being able to immediately play a DVD image directly on the PS3 without having to burn a DVD would be HUGE for me!  So I tried it.  For those not familiar with what an “ISO” is, it’s an exact image of a DVD disc–it contains every single bit of the DVD–the movie, menus, extras, etc., in the exact format of the DVD, except that it’s a file instead of a disc.  There are several applications available that will then let you burn that image to an actual DVD when desired, and even some that will “mount” the image as a “virtual” DVD drive on your computer so you can play the movie on your computer without having to burn a disc.  So, as you can imagine, ISOs can be very handy on a computer, and they make great backups in case your DVDs get scratched or marked up so much they’re no longer playable (thanks, kids!).

So being able to instantly stream and play these ISOs on the TV to which my PS3 is on, is a big deal for me.  It makes all of these movies and special feature discs available at my fingertips, instead of having to go find the DVD and insert it into my PS3.  I played with the latest version of the application for a couple days, but found that the voices never synced up with the video–ISO movies always played with a too-fast video speed, and the audio was always 10-15 seconds behind the video.  There are a ton of tweaking options in this application, so I tweaked everything I could, but couldn’t get it to play ISOs properly.  It would stream every other type of video file from my PC without any problems, but ISOs were the key to my happiness.  This was very disappointing.  Meanwhile, Jay was having the same issues, so it wasn’t just me.  After some googling of the issue, I found others having the same problem–with the newest versions of the application.  A few users noted that the previous version that they had before this one would play ISOs perfectly.  Ah ha!  So I uninstalled and deleted the newest version, then installed an older (actually the oldest version online–version 1.04) and guess what?  They were right–ISOs now play perfectly!!

Just as Audible screwed up their audiobook app on me in their latest version, PS3 Media Server’s latest version messed up ISO streaming.  So right now, my ISO images are streaming perfectly, and I’m very happy with it, though it is a very old version of the application.  Hopefully someone will determine what went wrong and correct it in a future version.  I will be glad to upgrade it to the latest version, once this issue is resolved, but for now I’m perfectly happy staying right where I am.  This is awesome!  I also found out, during my googling, that this may be the ONLY application that can actually perform this function!  I’d be perfectly willing to pay for a full-blown feature-rich commercial application that did this, if I could find one!

By the way, PS3 Media Server works with more than just the PS3.  It will stream to any DLNA-compliant network device, and is available for many operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Mac.  And it’s a completely free, open-source project.  Here’s the link: http://www.ps3mediaserver.org

Latest obsession complete

My Ultimate Forrest Gump Soundtrack collection is finished.  51 tracks, including all of the songs missing from the “Special Collector’s Edition” as listed on Wikipedia.  I would have just bought the darned thing, if it was even available in MP3 format!  Sheesh.  It costed me less than $5.00 though–I was only missing 5 of the tracks.  I even created custom album art and re-tagged all the tracks properly.  It was pretty fun, actually.

Burn, Forrest, Burn! (music, I mean, burn music!)

I just watched Forrest Gump tonight.  I had seen it 3 or 4 times in the past, but this is the first time I watched it on Blu-Ray.  Now I’m on a mission.  The awesome soundtrack is one I am drooling for, and the internet is not making it easy for me.  According to Wikipedia, there was a soundtrack CD released–first with 32 tracks of the original songs (not the musical background score–which was released separately–but the actual songs in the movie), then, later, a “Special Edition” version containing two more songs for a total of 34 songs, on two CDs.  So it is out there, but I’ll be damned if I can find an MP3 version!  Amazon doesn’t have it, so I doubt it’s for sale anywhere.  It makes no sense.  I have everything I need to convert a CD to MP3’s, but in today’s day and age, I shouldn’t have to.  I’ll dig around some more, someone’s gotta have it somewhere.  I hate to have to purchase a silly plastic CD case with two more plastic CD discs, then burn them to MP3’s and just let the CDs rot in their case forever.  It’s such a waste.  But then again, this could be an awesome quest–even the 34-track set is still missing 16 songs that were skipped for some reason.  So I could attempt to assemble the ULTIMATE Forrest Gump Soundtrack of my own!  I’m sure I already have several of the songs in my collection, so there’s a start.  I’ll add comments to this post as I progress.  Stay tuned.