I have had some excitement for season 4 of Game Of Thrones for awhile already but this 15 minute trailer/behind the scenes videos has certainly made even more eager for the show to return. The footage in the first minute or so looks great and certainly seems like they will keep up the pace for season 4. In the interviews in the rest of the piece we get some good insight into what is to come and what we already have seen.  If you have not watched this enjoy seeing it for the first time.

I think it should go without saying but if you have not finished watching season 3 yet, don’t watch it since it certainly has spoilers in it for the end of season 3.


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New Promo for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

by Matt Pollari on February 1, 2014

in Quick Post, Science, TV

ku-xlargeThe new promo for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey certainly makes me excited to see this show.  With it hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson, who I have enjoyed  for awhile when I have seen him on TV, it should hopefully be a good adventure. The FOX network is certainly not the kind of network I would have expected to air this type of TV show, but from the previews I have seen it seems likes they might be on the right track so far.

 


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cover_thumbThe first book I have finished this year is Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein. The book covers the development of the iPhone, iPad, development of Android based phones, looks at the legal battle that erupted between Samsung and Apple, and finally, what these gadgets have done to change the market in a broad sense.

I have seen this stated in other reviews and it held true for me after reading the book myself, that the first two-thirds of the book is the best part of the book and that it tails off after that. I read the first two-thirds of the book over the course of five days and it took me another week to finish the last third of the book. The first seven chapters make up the telling of the creation of the iPhone, Android, and the iPad and the battle that takes place between Apple and Google once Apple learns about Android. Those first seven chapters are the strongest and where we learn most interesting details about the inside stories of the two most popular mobile operating systems. It is in the telling of the back and forth story between Apple and Google where Fred Vogelstein shines in the book.

The chapter covering the trial between Samsung and Apple was alright, just did not grab me as much as the previous seven chapters.  It did not cover as many interesting details which I guess is not a huge surprise given it was focused on a patent trial. The next two chapters are a bit different than the rest of the book, focusing on the more industry-wide effects that iOS and Android devices have had on the world of technology. From how it has effected websites, to media publishing, and the entertainment industry of movies and TV among other things.  While there is some good information in this section it just is a bit of a different turn for the book after a much closer look at a smaller set of topics in only two companies and topics in the first seven chapters.

Overall if you enjoy reading about technology and parts of the inside stories surrounding Apple and Google, there is enough good information I think to read this book in the end. Although it is interesting after reading this book and now several weeks after I have finished it, a lot of the details from it have not stuck with me as well as I might have thought since I have just so recently read it.


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30 Years of Mac Computers

by Matt Pollari on January 30, 2014

in Apple, Computers, Matt's thoughts, Technology

mac30I am a few days late on this post since the Mac’s 30th anniversary was last week but I still wanted to share my thoughts. For me I have used Apple computers all my life. The first computer I used at home was one of the green-screened Apple II models. Over the course of the years I have used several Macintosh computer models and I am inclined to think that Apple and their computers have had a great effect on my continued love for all things technological. The first Mac computer I bought for myself was a Titanium PowerBook G4 in August of 2003 before I went off to my freshmen year of college at Gustavus Adolphus. That was a great laptop for me that served me through my entire college career. My Mac’s have served me well over the years and I hope they continue to.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball has a great post that he did yesterday on how in some key ways you can still see the design decisions from the very first Mac OS.

For one thing, they sweated the details. The greatest testimony to their genius is just how much of that original design is recognizable in today’s Mac OS X 10.9. A Mac user from 1984 could sit down in front of an iMac or MacBook today and recognize it as a successor to that original machine. That’s simply amazing.

Even more amazing is that some things haven’t changed at all. File, Edit, and View menus to start the Finder menu bar — the same today as in System 1 in 1984.

Daring Fireball: Special.

 In a piece that touches on a similar topic MG Siegler over at ParisLemon — 30 Years Ago, Apple Was The Same Company talks about how the design philosophy and decisions that guided Apple 30 years ago with the first Mac are still present in their current products.

Finally Apple released a great video for the 30th anniversary of the Mac and I have included it below.


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5190p2uQsJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_From the excerpt I have read of  Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image by Joshua Zeitz in the Smithsonian Magazine it certainly seems like it could be a good book.  More likely a book for people who have a fondness for history and in this case Abraham Lincoln. The excerpt below gives a little taste of it.

It is little wonder that historians consult Hay’s and Nicolay’s writing frequently—their letters and journals provide eyewitness accounts of their White House years. But their major life’s work after the Civil War is a largely forgotten story.

“The boys,” as the president affectionately called them, became Lincoln’s official biographers. Enjoying exclusive access to his papers—which the Lincoln family closed to the public until 1947 (the 21st anniversary of the death of Robert Todd Lincoln)— they undertook a 25-year mission to create a definitive and enduring historical image of their slain leader. The culmination of these efforts—their exhaustive, ten-volume biography, serialized between 1886 and 1890—constituted one of the most successful exercises in revisionism in American history. Writing against the rising currents of Southern apologia, Hay and Nicolay pioneered the “Northern” interpretation of the Civil War—a standard against which every other historian and polemicist had to stake out a position.

via The History of How We Came to Revere Abraham Lincoln | History | Smithsonian.

I think I am likely to get a copy of this when it comes out, but will see.  If you get enjoyment out of learning about history this certainly seems like a book worth checking out.


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“The Magicians” Review

by Matt Pollari on January 29, 2014

in Books, Matt's thoughts, Quick Post

7125342I have been looking back at some books I have read and which I have given shorter reviews to in the last few years and I have decided to update and do a little expanding on those reviews.

First off is The Magicians by Lev Grossman, which is set in modern day New York and based around a young teen named Quentin Coldwater who ends up finding out that magic is real and is accepted into a school that teaches modern day magic.  Quentin Coldwater faces the standard problems teens face but also faces some uniquely magical problems that he must confront in this new world of magic he is in.

The Magicians  by Lev Grossman I would say is not an amazing book but is still an enjoyable read overall. I found it a bit interesting how Lev Grossman can sometimes pass a few months of time simply in a few pages. I sometimes wished he had slowed down a little in how much time he covered to give us more of the story that the characters where going through in the book. The jumps in time certainly contrast to the Harry Potter series where each book covers one school year.  I don’t think I would need to see the book confined to one school year per book just slow down a little more than Grossman ended up doing in the book.

Overall I found it was an enjoyable book, in that it gave me a different view of magic then say Harry Potter did over course of that series. I have the sequel The Magician King and plan to read it some time soon just not sure when. I just have so many books to pick from that I want to read that it is hard to decide what to read next.


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The Costs of Over Working

by Matt Pollari on January 27, 2014

in Business, Life, Matt's thoughts

working-overtimeI came across a good article at The New Yorker about over working which is a issue that certainly has become more prevalent with the advent of technology that allows people to stay connected to work much more easily.  While the article mainly takes a look at it through the financial sector, I think the problems of over working is applicable to many professions.  I certainly know the feeling of working more than your standard 40 hours because most of my paid jobs in the last few years have been on political campaigns. The norm is to work between 60-80 and even close to 100 hours of the week.  That being the 7 day work week since there rarely is a day off in the world of political campaigns. Going into campaigns you know that is the case and expect those types of hours, but that knowledge does not keep you from some times having those days where you are just dragging a bit.  One quote I wanted to pull out of the article that talks about the problems of overworking:

The perplexing thing about the cult of overwork is that, as we’ve known for a while, long hours diminish both productivity and quality. Among industrial workers, overtime raises the rate of mistakes and safety mishaps; likewise, for knowledge workers fatigue and sleep-deprivation make it hard to perform at a high cognitive level. As Solomon put it, past a certain point overworked people become “less efficient and less effective.” And the effects are cumulative. The bankers Michel studied started to break down in their fourth year on the job. They suffered from depression, anxiety, and immune-system problems, and performance reviews showed that their creativity and judgment declined.

via James Surowiecki: The Costs of Working Too Much : The New Yorker.

I can very much understand how that could happen to people who have worked such long hours for a sustained period of time over multiple years. Being able to find the right work-life balance is important I think for every one so that you can keep your mental and physical health at a good level.  What that balance is for each person I am sure is a bit different but important to find.  This second quote from the article I also found interesting:

When new regulations limited medical residents’ working hours to eighty a week, many doctors complained of declining standards and mollycoddling, and said that it would have a disastrous effect on training, even though residents in Europe work many fewer hours, without harming the quality of medical care. “I went through it, so you should” is a difficult impulse to resist. 

The comparison between European and American work hours is not totally new to me, but still interesting when I come across good examples that illustrate it. I also certainly understand the impulse of if “I went through it you should too.” I think it is a bit natural to have people go through what you had to go through, the feeling of that type of working conditions is a rite of passage or similar feelings.

The issue of overworking certainly is a subject that needs to be discussed and I thought I would share my experience of over working related to the jobs I have had. The whole article is well worth a read and is not real long, so check it out. 

Image courtesy of I Drew Something Blog


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originalThis is a great promo for the second season of the FX show The Americans. If you are not familiar with the show it is about two Soviet spies posing as a married American couple in the 1980′s. The first season of the The Americans provided enough good episodes to make me want to keep watching the show. It will be interesting to see how they do with season 2 of the The Americans.

The music they picked for the promo is very fitting, with it being Sting’s 1980′s song “Russians”. What I also like about the promo is that it is different because they have the two main actors from the show, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, contorting into positions that eventually form the symbol of the Soviet Union hammer and sickle. Overall, with the music and the actors, it is just a different style of promo for a new TV season that certainly made me more interested for season 2.

Here are the lyrics they use from his song “Russians”:

In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria

Mr. Reagan says we will protect you I don’t subscribe to this point of view

Believe me when I say to you I hope the Russians love their children too

If you are curious to hear the whole Sting song “Russians” here is a link to a YouTube video of the song.


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PeggyCarter2I am quite glad to see that ABC & Marvel continue working on the possibility of an Agent Carter TV show. Beyond the movement on the series I am very glad that they have Hayley Atwell coming back for it. I quite enjoyed her in the first Captain America movie and the Marvel one-shot of Agent Carter that came out on the Iron Man 3 DVD/Blu-Ray. The potential TV series just would not be the same without her, since she played the part so well.

ABC’s “Captain America” spinoff “Agent Carter” is gaining momentum, landing commitments from Hayley Atwell, who played the World War II government agent in the movie, and showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas.

via ABC’s ‘Agent Carter’ Books Hayley Atwell, and ‘Resurrection’ Duo as Showrunners – TheWrap.

Below is a short clip for  Marvel one-shot of Agent Carter


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Game Of Thrones Season 4 Trailer

by Matt Pollari on January 14, 2014

in Books, Entertainment Industry, Quick Post, TV

It is always great to see the first trailers for the new Game Of Throne TV season. In this case season 4 of the show.  I will be glad/excited to have this show back.  It will be interesting to see how they handle the end of book 3 A Storm of Swords that they did not get to in season 3 and what parts of book 4 Feast For Crows they get to this season. What the trailer shows for season 4 looks promising. As I said above, excited for it to be back.


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