Categories
Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch: Stargate

Since I’ve switched Rewatch over to films for a while with my review on Charade, and since I’ve reviewed every Stargate TV series, it made sense to rewatch the film that started it all. What happens when you combine action archeology and military sci-fi? You get Stargate, a 1994 film directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Kurt Russell and James Spader.

When the Stargate is unearthed in 1928 Giza, it remains a mystery until its code is cracked by archaeologist Dr. Daniel Jackson (played by Spader). With the gate active, forming a wormhole between a similar gate across the known universe, Colonel Jack O’Neill (played by Russell) will lead a team, including Dr. Jackson, to the other side. What they discover is a world, and an adventure, beyond their wildest imaginations that I just can’t do justice with text, so please enjoy the trailer embedded below.

The whole cast is great, not just Russell and Spader. In particular, Jaye Davidason as Ra is uniquely captivating, and even French Stewart is here without being the comic relief. And the soundtrack by David Arnold, the second of his long career, ranks among my top favorite soundtracks of all time.

The story doesn’t stop with the film. While there were no film sequels, Stargate SG-1 (read the Rewatch review here) would follow as a direct TV sequel, running from 1997 to 2007. This would be followed by Stargate Atlantis (read the Rewatch review here), running from 2004 to 2009, and Stargate Universe (read the Rewatch review here), running from 2009 to 2011. That’s a total of 14 years of uninterrupted content following a single 2-hour film, not bad. I love Star Wars, and no offense to Star Trek, but Stargate spawned the greatest franchise in TV history.

You can stream Stargate for free on Amazon Video, or buy it on Apple TV for just $9.99. I hope you enjoy Stargate as much as I do, it’s a great film with an impressive legacy!

Categories
Science Technology Video World

Earth Day, 2020

Today is Earth Day, a day to reflect on our home world, the only one we have, and a great day to start saving the environment for free, going carbon negative, and donating to Trees for the Future.

This is definitely an interesting Earth Day for all of us, with many of us under some form of a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world is still out there, but it’s ok if it feels very different today than it did last year, we’re all coping differently. Please wear a fabric face mask (like this no-sew handkerchief mask or something more robust), and please reserve medical masks for medical professionals. The more of us who do our part to stop the spread, the sooner we can begin to get back to the way things used to be. (But, maybe with less pollution this time, right?)

Once equipped with a mask, try to spend some time outdoors, just make sure to stay 6 feet apart of people you aren’t sharing a home with. If you can’t make it outside today, or you’d rather not, please enjoy this video.

Categories
Nostalgia Review Video

Rewatch: Charade

I’ve run out of available, good, older TV series for now, so I thought it might be fun to check out some older films that I’ve enjoyed for a while. First up is Charade, a 1963 “romantic comedy mystery film” that’s not only great, it’s available entirely for free because they messed up the copyright (more on that later).

Charade follows a woman (played by Audrey Hepburn) as she unravels the mystery of her husband’s murder and a mysterious man (played by Cary Grant) who tries to help her. The quick whit and improvisation talents of Hepburn and Grant are on fully display here, it’s electric. Sometimes it feels like a scene will never end, and you won’t want it to either. And the score by Henry Mancini is captivating. It’s really hard to describe this film, but I’d suppose I’d say that the feel of classic James Bond is combined with the whit of Spider-Man, and it’s all wrapped in a charming love story. So now you’ll have to see it and provide me with a better short description.

Speaking of seeing it, this film came out at a time when including “Copyright”, “Copr.”, or the symbol “©” with the title was still required by law, and apparently someone forgot to do that. This means that the film immediately entered the public domain upon release. Oops. That may not have been great news for producer/director Stanley Donen, but it’s great news for us, because now you can stream and download Charade for free from The Internet Archive and stream it for free on Amazon Video!

Charade is a crazy fun romp, and definitely one of my favorite films. It’s a collection of things that really should have never gone together, but somehow it made them work and still managed to exceed expectations. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Categories
Technology

WordPress 5.4 Released

WordPress 5.4 has been released! Along with speed and privacy improvements, this update adds a new Social Icons block, enhancements for the Button block, and 361 bug fixes. For specifics, check out the changelog.

552 volunteers contributed to this release, lead by Matt Mullenweg, Francesca Marano, and David Baumwald. At the time of writing this, WordPress 5.4 has been out for about 30 minutes, and has already been downloaded 137,156 times!

All users can safely update from Dashboard -> Updates or download and update manually, though you should probably backup first just in case, unless you’re already using VaultPress, which you really should be.

If you run into any problems, stop by the known issues first, and please let us know if it’s not covered there!

Categories
General

Working From Home

With the current COVID-19 pandemic (which you can read more about from the CDC for folks in the US and from the WHO for folks worldwide), more and more folks are working from home to avoid both contracting and spreading the disease. There are some great recommendations for folks working from home for the first time, like these from Matt Mullenweg, these from Beau Lebens, and these from Artur Piszek. And, since I’ve worked from home for Automattic for almost 10 years, I figured I’d share just some very quick recommendations from my experience.

  • Make yourself comfortable with a real desk. Yes, you can work with your laptop on the couch, but you’ll be doing this for a while. Get a comfortable desk setup with your screen at the appropriate hight, an external keyboard, and an external mouse. Your body will thank you.
  • Ditch the headphones if you can. You may no longer need to keep your music to yourself by trapping your head in a sound prison. Get some external speakers, or try out your computer’s internal speakers. Either way, it’s better for your hearing in the long term.
  • Set boundaries. Folks always say don’t bring your work home with you, and that’s still true. Set solid hours, let your family know what those are, close the office door if you have to, but don’t let work dominate the entire day and don’t let your home life dominate work hours.
  • Separate your work and personal environments. You may no longer have a dedicated office computer, but to avoid distractions, it’s still good to find some separation. For me, that’s separate browsers. I use Firefox for work and Safari for personal things.
  • To avoid more distractions, consider what priorities your social networks have. See my On Social Networks post for some thoughts on that.
  • If you find yourself stressed overall by work, try using a simple pomodoro timer, like Pomy.
  • Let in some natural light. I don’t have a window behind my desk, I find that distracting, but there are ample windows just off to the side.
  • Cut back on coffee. Coffee was a favorite distraction of mine in offices, but that type of distraction is no longer necessary at home. Not only is it better for your health, you may find you no longer need as much, and it will save you some money. Try just one cup a day in the morning.
  • Stand up, walk around, take a break. Is something loading? Stand up. Is a process stalled? Take a short walk. At least drink a few glasses of water throughout the day. That will force you to stand up and walk, and it will also force you to use the restroom more frequently.
  • Communicate. Talk frequently with your co-workers in their Slack-like app of choice, but also keep the water cooler going. Set up a backchannel with close work friends, Telegram is great for that. Basically, do whatever you can to keep work communication close to what it was before.

As for my desk in the above photo, besides the MacBook Pro, I’m using a Roost stand, a Das Keyboard Model S Professional (with Cherry MX blue switches), a Logitech MX Vertical mouse, an iPad Pro with a Zugu Muse case serving as a second monitor, a set of Edifier e10 speakers (that I rarely use anymore since the MacBook Pro speakers are now almost as good), a set of Sennheiser Momentum 2 headphones (for meetings and days I need to keep my music to myself), a Logitech Powered phone stand, a set of Baoding balls, an ErgoDox EZ Satellite, and the Desk Army (which is a bit smaller now).

That’s how I’ve kept myself sane for almost 10 years of working from home, and I hope it works for you too. Most of all, remember that getting into the flow will take time, you will likely start with lower productivity than you want and that’s ok. Take it easy, take every recommendation into consideration, but adapt it to what works for you, and don’t forget to share your new routine with your co-workers.