Google Loses its Glitter

Starship Farragut premiered their two new “Crew Logs” mini-episodes today. I’d been planning to attend the premier and post a short review of the new episodes, but my plans didn’t quite work out.

In a rather infamous incident six years ago, I got lost on my way to Ocean City. It was my first-ever time going there and in the end, it took me six hours versus the three it took my friends. I have no doubt that the directions MapQuest gave me were accurate, but they involved following a number of unmarked back roads. I haven’t used MapQuest since.

For the past several years, I’ve been using Google Maps without significant problems. I’ve been increasingly concerned about Google lately though. They’ve been rolling out a variety of new features (e.g. Street Views), but it appears the core mapping system is suffering from a lack of attention. Two months ago, I discovered a park which in reality is just a couple miles up the road was supposedly located on the other side of the county. More recently, a street which had been labeled correctly for the past five years suddenly had all of its street numbers reversed (I truly hope that no Emergency Services use Google for anything important.)

Today was strike three for Google Maps. I knew the Farragut premier was at the University of Maryland’s Hoff Theater, but never having been there, I needed directions. Not to worry though, I visited Google Maps, typed in “Hoff Theater” and Google quickly popped up a set of directions. All was good. Or so I thought.

The route from Google dropped me into the middle of a residential neighborhood, with no theaters of any sort, just a “hole in the wall” restaurant, a couple nearby gas stations, and a whole heck of a lot of houses.

I don’t blame the Farragut folks for this. Heck, I probably shouldn’t blame Google either. Instead, I should have looked around on the University of Maryland’s web site to see if they had directions. The worst of it is, from my previous experiences, I should have known better than to trust Google.

By the time I got myself sorted out, it was already 4:30 and by my reckoning, the Starship Farragut event was likely halfway over. On my way out, I spotted a sign for the University of Maryland campus, but by then I didn’t see much point.

Hopefully the Farragut Crew Logs were well-received. I’m looking forward to seeing them.

But for now, I need to find a better source of maps.

A Cappella Tribute to John Williams

When this a cappella performance was first described to me as “a tribute to Star Wars using the music of John Williams,” I have to admit, the first thing to go through my mind was Bill Murray’s performance as Nick, the Lounge Singer singing the Star Wars theme.

After watching it though, I’m quite impressed. Coordinating the singing between four takes of the same person can’t possibly be easy. And on top of that, the lyrics fit the various movie themes without sacrificing any clarity from the themes.

Bad Horse Rides Again

Wandering through YouTube this evening, I discovered that Bad Horse (or at least his chorus) made a string of appearances at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) back in August.

You Tube has a number of videos of their appearances, here they surprise Felicia Day (Penny) who was a very good sport about it.

I assume it’s a group of fans and not Nick Towne, Jed Whedon, and Rob Reinis. But whoever they are, they’re good. So does that mean they’re not qualified for the Evil League of Evil?

Trekkies Will Buy Anything that says Star Trek…

A craft project for a rainy afternoon.


  • A transparent light switchplate or outlet cover. You can probably find them at a craft store or possibly a hardware store. They’re generally sold with the idea that you put a piece of wallpaper inside so that you’ll have a wallplate which matches your wallpaper.
  • Your imagination

The steps:

  1. Using your favorite graphics program, create an LCARS display the same size and shape as the wallplate. Be sure to leave a blank area the size and shape of the hole(s) in the wallplate. This will be your insert for the wallplate.
  2. Print out your insert and using a sharp pair of scissors, or an X-acto knife, cut out the holes to match the wallplate.
  3. Install the wallplate on the appropriate wall switch or power outlet.

Total cost, less than $5.

Or, you can visit Think Geek and buy the same thing for $17.99 plus shipping, thus proving the somewhat cynical claim that Trekkies will buy absolutely anything if you put the words “Star Trek” on it. But hey, the Think Geek version is “Made by Eugene ‘Rod’ Roddenberry” and therefore qualifies as licensed merchandise.

Full Disclosure: About 15 years ago, in the dealers room of a local con, I bought both a switch plate and an outlet cover with LCARS-style graphics on them. So on the one hand, yeah, apparently I’m that much of a geek. On the other hand, my two wallplates combined cost less than $20….

The Demise of Sudden Death

I’ve been confused by “Sudden Death” for a while now. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve understood how the term applies to football. Until this evening however, I could never tell you whether Sudden Death the musical comedy act was one person or several.

It turns out that the answer has evolved over time, but it no longer matters. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s been confused and as of October 21, the name Sudden Death has been retired. Devo Spice, who’s been performing solo as Sudden Death will now be performing as himself.

The announcement doesn’t mention whether he’ll ever team up with Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty.

Deja Vu

I’m not entirely certain why I decided to rent Deja Vu. I don’t have anything against the Murder-Mystery or Drama genres, but the description from Netflix wasn’t something that would normally seize my attention: Déjà vu — that powerful but fleeting sense that you’ve been here, or met someone, before. ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) finds himself dogged by that feeling as he investigates a bombing on a New Orleans ferry. Should he shrug off the unsettling sensation, or can it help him unravel the clues he needs to save hundreds of innocent people from disaster?

It’s a fairly accurate description, but not the sort of thing that would usually get my attention. For whatever reason, I decided to take a chance on it and added the movie to my rental queue.

The movie started off slowly, but that didn’t last long. Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington’s character) is an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who is assigned to investigate the bombing of a ferry in New Orleans. His talent for quickly figuring out the details of the bombing is recognized by an FBI team assigned to the case and they recruit him to help out.

The surveillance technology being used by the FBI is the first Sci-Fi twist to the movie, but the plot twist has its own twist that results in the storyline doubling back on itself. The resolution is a little bit of a cliché, but done in such a way that it’s quite enjoyable and even the loose ends you hadn’t thought of end up being tied-up.