December 21, 2008
I was going to post another edition of Gifts for Geeks, as I did in 2006 and 2007, but my heart's just not in it this year. I don't know if it's the global economic apocalypse, or what, but I'm having a hard time mustering the required level of enthusiasm for buying more stuff. There are still some great ideas in the previous year's lists, and honestly it's always fun to window shop if nothing else. But I think this year I'm going for something more modest, more befitting of the barren Road Warrior hellscape that's apparently bearing down on all of us.
I was something of a skeptic on the road to high definition video, but I can point to one series that has completely defined the high definition experience for me, so much so that I think every human being on Earth should see it at least once: the Planet Earth BBC Series.
Filmed over five years, at a budget of 25 million dollars, and completely in high definition, the series is nothing less than revelatory. I'm in awe of the footage they captured, imagining how many months they must have spent to filming get a single moment of an Amur Leopard stalking across the siberian taiga, one of the last 30 in the world. And the series is full of moments like that. It's not just a showcase for amazing high definition video, but a riveting view into the life of our planet, too.
As far as I'm concerned, Planet Earth is the definitive high definition experience to date. Needless to say, highly recommended. I actually picked up the now-obsolete HD-DVD version of this series (they're encoded identically in VC-1, AC3), and then ripped it for convenience to my home theater PC, so I don't have to juggle four discs. There is a DVD version as well, but this is a series that demands to be seen in its full high definition glory.
For something a little less highbrow and more geeky, you can't go wrong with Absolutely Mad, a collection of fifty years of Mad magazine, every issue since 1952, on one DVD.
Do you know what famous computer scientist got his start in Mad magazine? No less than Donald Knuth himself, who wrote about the Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures in issue #33. Someone at Google is apparently a fan as well, as Google Calculator offers Potrzebie System conversions:
See? I told you. Geeky. And awesome.
I should also mention that the Absolutely Mad DVD is delightfully free of DRM or crazy custom viewing software. Each issue is a simple, unencumbered PDF file in a folder on the disc. The scans aren't nearly high resolution enough to be a reasonable substitute for the actual issues, or any of the recent full color reproductions. This is probably intentional. But it's more than adequate for browsing on a LCD screen, or, say, a mobile phone or netbook. Still, with 50 years of Mad for thirty measly bucks, it's hard to go wrong. But I am slightly biased -- I still subscribe to Mad. Who knew it took this much work to be stupid?
Hopefully by next year at this time, all this looming economic uncertainty will be behind us, and we'll be free to consume guilt-free once again. And if not, well, at least you can use these two shiny discs to blind your enemies.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Downloading it now. Let me know when your equipment's available to lend.
No, you're right. My heart's not in it either.
Unless they rescanned everything this is probably a repackaged version of the Totally Mad collection from 1999. That came on 7 cds. That might be why the scan resolution is low. Also, I'd like to believe that the DRM freeness was a choice rather than the path of least resistance on slapping together this latest release.
Unless they rescanned everything this is probably a repackaged version of the Totally Mad collection from 1999
I owned that collection, too, but I rarely used it, because it required the aforementioned crazy software viewers.
The new collection is AWESOME because it's simple PDF files I can read on almost any machine, at any time, anywhere.
Even if it is the same scanned Mad Magazine content (and it can't *quite* be, because the DVD version includes issues newer than 1999), the packaging is so much better and simpler that it completely obsoletes the older version.
You know, there was this couple going to Bethlehem that needed a place for her to give birth to her firstborn? Whatever became of that child?
I hear he became some kind of hippy liberal revolutionary.
But don't worry, the state silenced him in the end.
to Jeff Schwandt: He died.
Steve: you might have at least said *spoiler alert*.
Now I'll have to find something else to read over the holidays.
Whatever became of that child?
He asked us to be nice to one another. So we killed him.
A crisis in consumer confidence is one factor precipitating this financial crisis, so I'm not sure why we should feel guilty about our consumerism this year over others. If anything, we should be buying as much as we usually do.
I listen to a podcast with Dick Debartolo, a writer for Mad Magazine for the last 42 years and has appeared in every issue since 1966.
He much prefers this collection to the old 7-disc collection since it runs on modern PC's (the old one ran on Windows 95/98) and all fits on one disc.
My bet is that they scanned all these issues at an ultra-high resolution for archival purposes and then put lower resolution versions on the 1999 collection (and probably again for the pre-2000 content on this collection).
buying stuff fuels economy
Check out the 1 star reviews on amazon about planet earth on blue-ray
People are complaining that there is no bonus material (which is about 3 to 4 hours long) which you get on the the regular DVD/HD version.
Are everyday people actually affected by the economic uncertainty? I don't think so. I've yet to see ANYONE I know at work or in my family cut back or change spending habits. People still drop $10 per day on a lunch instead of bagging one and bringing it. People are doing the regular big christmas instead of realizing that it's not about the presents.
So I say buy what you want and don't hold back. No need to live within your means when no one has been up 'till now.
Economic uncertainty may be a phrase to describe something, but I'm certain that nothing's changed for the common man.
Planet Earth is one of the previews running on BBC HD in between shows. Amazing pictures indeed.
I agree! Planet Earth is the most very well made. I am currently watching it using my NetFlix plan. Everyone should definitely see it once.
@Chris - Dude, it's called Mad Max, Road Warrior is the stupid American name.
Dood... those are two of my favorite movies! But I kind of like the subheading for sequals; 'The Road Warrior' just sounds more fun than 'Mad Max 2'. Oh! Oh! and don't forget the third one in the series: Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome. There's nothing finer than mid-80s Tina Turner in post-apacolyptic drag.
Oh yes, pump up those referrals!
I don't know if it's the global economic apocalypse, or what, but I'm having a hard time mustering the required level of enthusiasm for buying more stuff.
You're growing up...
And I just don't know...when will I...??
I was going to post another edition of Gifts for Geeks, as I did in 2006 and 2007, but my heart's just not in it this year. I don't know if it's the global economic apocalypse, or what, but I'm having a hard time mustering the required level of enthusiasm for buying more stuff.
Global what-now? I call Fatherhood the culprit.
Over the last few months the posts on here have become fewer and those that have shown up less interesting. Have you completely stopped programming? Perhaps you should consider renaming the blog, coding seems to be far from your mind these days.
Add on to this, you are now trying to depress us by convincing us the next great depression is on its way and we're all doomed. Too bad I didn't build that Y2K shelter, it may have come in handy in the upcoming collapse of society. Oh wait we survived that. Apocalyptic predictions have a very bad track record, none have come true yet- we continue to survive.
Dude, it's called Mad Max, Road Warrior is the stupid American name.
i dont mean to insult your gift list, but that mad dvd gift seems pointless. To read a magazine on a dvd seems odd to me. Am I missing something here?
btw, i love your favicon though
I'm polish, and I don't get the joke about the word Potrzebie. Does it sound funny when spelled by americans, or what ? I've read the wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potrzebie, but I still don't get it. Why is it so funny. Could someone explain ?
Does the new MAD collection allow you to search the text? Because the old one did.
For geek gifts check out these programmer T-shirts:
And you don't have to feel consumer guilt for buying one, as all the commission goes to worthy charities.
Atario: does your PDF reader support text search?
@Bored Reader your an idiot, yes he has stopped codding completely, except of course for this little thing called STACKOVERFLOW.COM!!
Jeff, Just in case you haven't missed it somehow check out the blue planet this was made just before planet earth by the same team. I assume it was recorded in high def their is certainly a blue ray copy available.
Just a small nit-pick, there are several scenes in Planet Earth that were not shot entirely in High Definition due to conditions.
I have to agree about the common man thing. Laid off twice in two years, surviving on a McJob that pays marginally more than unemployment, phone not ringing.
Oh yeah, spend spend spend. Nothing to see here. The economy is fine!
Just wondering what hermetically-sealed town you live in and what sort of businesses are thriving there because out here in the world with everyday people nearly everyone I know -- in my family and at work -- is cutting back. More brown bagging and more small-scale Christmases.
Even the German software company for which I work has scaled back initiatives, instituted cost-cutting measures previously unheard of and is pinching every penny. The current financial situation is indeed global.
Yes, economic uncertainty is a phrase to describe something. It's called Reality. If you don't think anything has changed for the common man, perhaps you need to open your eyes and look outside your narrow world.
I was at a Sony store in Socal and they had a demo of the kids show Cars, the difference between Bluray and DVD sold me. DVD you can't see the crowd or license plats on the cars, Bluray its all very clear.
well if anyone has a give away version of everything that u are talking about
get in touch at : firstname.lastname@example.org
PS:giveaway means free copies... i live within my means
It's worth noting that there are two versions of Planet Earth - one has narration by Sir David Attenborough, the other is Sigourney Weaver. Given the choice, you should go for the former. I'm sure Sigourney Weaver does a decent job, but Sir David Attenborough cannot be beaten.
Apocalyptic predictions have a very bad track record, none have come true yet- we continue to survive.
True, but it only has to be true once. And do remember, in the story of the boy who cried wolf, there actually was a wolf at the end of the story.
I thought about getting the Mad collection just to get one particular feature from an issue in the late 60s or early 70s. They were looking at how America would develop in the future... they got stores so large that people would ride scooters around in them correct, they got Americans becoming a nation of fatties correct... the only part they didn't get right (so far) was that the Chinese would invade the US and we would helpless to do anything about it since all the invaders would have to do is push us over and we'd be too fat to get back up.