Lots of stuff to ramble on about today… where should I start? Let’s just go with the movies first.
Spun I forget exactly what got this in my queue. I think it was something about Billy Corgan doing the original music for the film. That, and I really liked Requiem for a Dream. Well, it wasn’t entirely disappointing, but I wasn’t all that impressed. The first 20 minutes of the movie will make you dizzy with the camera work and the bizarre sex scene. After that it settles down into a rather boring movie about speed freaks. It just didn’t really do anything for me. I’ll give it a C
Along Came Polly Completely average Stiller/Aniston comedy. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Opposites come together, funny stuff happens, opposites get driven apart because of one of their actions, chance for reconciliation at the end. Da Vinci’s Notebook could make a song about these movies…. if they were still together. Worth a few giggles, enough for a C+
Garden State Solid movie all around. Zach Braff’s directing debut – you may know him from the TV show Scrubs – goes really well. Hopefully we’ll see more from him. People have complained that it starts off slow, and it does, but it fits. The main character is heavily medicated, he’s on about a dozen different anti-depressants. The pace of the movie coincides with the pace of his life. As he comes out of his haze, you come out of it with him. I was impressed with Natatlie Portman too. I mean, come on, to hear Queen Amidala say “I have three Dobermans, and if I didn’t kick them in the balls on a regular basis, I’d never get anything done” is almost worth the price admission. B+
Friday Night Lights Powerful, emotional, and exciting flick. And I’ll warn you again, I’m not the emotional type when it comes to movies. Based on a true story of a high school football team from Odessa, TX. Now, this isn’t Varsity Blues (which is still a good movie) – there’s not a ton of laughs or any kind of love story. It’s just a damn good story about high school kids playing football in a small Texas town that lived for football. I’m thinking of picking up the book by H.G. Bissinger because the movie did take a few liberties with the real story, but not so much that it changes a whole lot. The book is supposed to be more accurate. Aside from the one overly-cheesey speech delivered by Billy Bob Thorton, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. I was even surprised to see Tim McGraw give a more-than-decent performance. I usually hate when singers decide they should be actors, but as long as he doesn’t decide to be a leading man in anything, he’ll do great. Watch the extras on the DVD! They have some interviews with the players now – it’s really interesting to see. Especially Boobie Miles. This one gets an A-
Oh what else? I’ve laid off GTA:SA and played some SOCOM:II online – I suck at it. It’s a good game, I guess I’d just do better with keyboard controls. Oh, Nascar 2005 is actually good now. The previous Nascar installments from EA have sucked pretty bad.
I’ve been with Vonage for about a month now, and I’m pretty happy with them. It’s a great idea, as long as you know exactly what you’re getting into – and they don’t explain that too well on their site.
I bought my adapter from Buy.com for $50 – you get a $50 rebate after you’ve been with Vonage for 3 months. Find someone to refer you, and you get a month free – at least you’re supposed to, I haven’t gotten mine yet. I signed up on the 500 minute plan which is 500 minutes/month, plus all the bells and whistles like voicemail, call waiting, caller id, call return, etc. Incoming minutes do not count against your 500. Outgoing calls count against your 500 minutes – local, long distance, whatever. The 500 minute plan (as of 1/25/05) is $15/month. You can get unlimited minutes for $25/month.
Installation is pretty easy if you’re computer savvy. If not, you might have a little trouble. It requires enabling port-forwarding on your router. If you have a friend that knows a little about these things, ask them to help. I actually made one call to their tech support, and I was only on hold for a few minutes. And yes, you can have it work on every phone in your house. It’s not as hard as it seems. You just have to disconnect the phone company’s line and plug this box into any jack – it’ll use the existing wiring in your house. You may even be able to keep your existing number – check their website first. I wasn’t able to, but I didn’t really care. They had my area code, so that was good enough for me.
The web interface is pretty spiffy. You log on and can sell all your calls made and received by date, time, number, duration. You can even listen to your voicemail through your computer. You can even setup email notification when you get a new voice mail. I’m something of a geek, so this stuff is fun to me.
I haven’t had a problem with call quality yet. Some people have complained of ‘echos’ – I haven’t heard it. Yes, your internet connection will slow down while you’re on the phone, but you’ll be talking and not surfing anyway.
Some answers I wish I knew before, or were difficult to find:
Overages – If you go over the 500 minute plan, it’s 3.9 cents per minute.
Service Fees – It seems there’s a $9.99 charge to do almost anything. Change plans or change your number, it’s a $9.99 service fee. Seems silly.
I went with Vonage because I was already paying $25-$30 for a home phone that I hardly ever use. My cell phone doesn’t work that great at home, but I was terrified to make long distance calls because I never knew how much it would end up costing me. For $15/month I don’t worry about that, plus I get all the features that the phone company charges another $10-$20 for – I love caller id, and don’t think the phone company should charge for it. I wasn’t worried about setting it up, and the 911 and power “possible bad points” don’t really matter to me.
Is it for you? Keep in mind that if your internet connection fails, you don’t have a phone. That usually means if your power fails you won’t have a phone. If that bothers you, you can spend $80 on a UPS in case of power failure. You do have voicemail, and you can setup a number to have your calls forwarded to if your service is down. Also, 911 dialing isn’t exactly the same. Your call will be routed to your Public Service Answering Point, but not how a ‘normal’ 911 call is – you’ll have to give the operator your name, address, and number. If you have small children, I’m not sure this is a great idea. Note: Evidently, in Rhode Island it uses something similar to E-911, so the operator will have all your information.
So there it is – I can almost promise you’ll save money. If you can deal with the possibility of it not working just like a normal phone 100% of the time, go for it.
As part of my quest to become more of an elitist, I now have a coffee roaster. IP phone, coffee roaster, and actual wine glasses. Before long I won’t be a beer swilling, vulgar, unkempt bum. Maybe. I’ll write more about the coffee roaster later – I’ve only used it once so far, so give me a few more days.