Thursday, August 21, 2008

Computer problems, Half Blood Prince delay

I was trying to post to this blog the other day and suddenly something happened with my laptop cord, causing my battery power-less computer to shut off. This was a typical occurrence, so I tried to simply plug it back in, but when I did so, nothing happened.

Mum said it wasn't worth getting a new cord when I was going to order a new laptop pretty soon anyway. And that I did, on Monday night, using her computer (which I'm also using right now to type this - she's letting me borrow her computer tonight). Since I didn't have quite enough money to get the computer I wanted, and since I needed the computer to arrive in time for school, I opened an account with Dell and paid for the computer on credit. The first bill won't arrive till 45 days after my computer arrives, and by then I will probably have enough money to pay it off in one lump sum, since I was only $70 shy of the estimate I had for what the computer I originally was going to get would cost.

I got a good deal on the computer. I got about $13 off by ordering it via a link from the CSUSM Bookstore website (I could've also done it through my labor union, but the savings would've been around the same either way). And then, I got a SHIPPING DISCOUNT. I don't have to pay any shipping, which is great cause this knocks $20 off the price tag. Though of course, there was a lot of sales tax (California has one of the highest sales tax percentages in the U.S., I think), and I had to pay an $8 "environmental fee" that Dell is required to collect due to some bill passed by the State of California. All in all for $666.11. This for a laptop with a "glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display" and a 120GB hard drive. The color is "Ruby Red." (I had to pay an extra $25 to get a color other than black, which is kind of silly). I also took advantage of this special offer where you get Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 if you pay an extra $10. I do not know if this means it will be pre-installed, or if they will send you the program in a box for you to install yourself. Either way, it saves me the money of having to buy the program separately (as I was planning to do). And should it work, I will have OneNote 2007 for writing my class notes in, and my pencil-holding hand will thank me for it. Not to mention that typing class notes using Word (the way I used to do it) is a pain. I may also use OneNote to organize my notes for my writing projects (an idea that could've saved J.K. Rowling a lot of trouble too, I just thought -- she has all her notes on Harry Potter in these multitudes of notebooks, I hear).

I chose 3-5 day delivery, but I still am not certain whether the computer will get here before school starts, as Dell has not e-mailed me or anything about whether it has been shipped. At any rate, since I ordered it on Monday night, it could come as early as Friday (assuming the order went through Tuesday morning). It would be nice to have time to familiarize myself with it before school starts.

One nice thing about this new comp is that it has Vista (ok, no flames please -- I know Vista has problems), and with that comes the new version of Movie Maker. Granted, it's not much different except for having around 20 new effects. But hey, anything new is good, right? If all goes well, Act 24 of the Dark Mercury Fandub Project will be the first Act made on the new computer. Exciting!

Speaking of school, there's a few prep things I need to do. I need to get a new backpack, for one. I also need to plan a lunch menu for next week so I can buy groceries. This is the method I have chosen to get myself back into bringing my own lunch. I'm going to try to do this for work as well as school. Also, sad as it is, I still need to get my books. I went to school on Monday to get all the ISBN's so I could look them up online. I definitely recommend this to any college student out there looking to buy textbooks online. Searching by title is nice, but remember that many college textbooks are a certain edition (or translation, in the case of plays, stories, or novels -- I remember my Asian Philosophy and Religion teacher wanted us to get a specific translation of the Tao te Ching). Getting the ISBN (short for International Standard Book Number) will ensure you get the exact book you need, because ISBN's are specifically assigned to one book only. This was a fact I picked up from working as a library aide, and it's helped me ever since.

Anyway, I haven't gotten my books yet cause I was planning to pay for them using the check from financial aid for the difference between what my tuition cost and what aid was offered, and I haven't gotten the check yet. I called and was told they are being sent out this week, but I expected it early in the week since my account was updated, showing me owing nothing, as early as last Friday.

I'm going out to shop for that stuff tomorrow. I know, lame thing to do on your vacation, but oh well. I mean, I spent nearly all day yesterday getting the stuff off my old computer that I wanted, backing it up to two flash drives, Photobucket, and my iPod respectively, and returning the computer to startup status using my recovery CD. This is because I decided to try to get things off this CD-ROM I have that is a backup of my old main folder "Ami's Stuff." The folder is at least 4 years old, judging by the creation date on most of the content, which is 2004. But the CD was so old it took a long time to load up (I had to use my Laser Cleaning Disc twice during the day to get the drive to run smoothly).

So far on my vacation, I have done the following:

Friday 8/15: After seeing Mum, Papa, and Andrew off, I spent the day mostly at home playing around on my computer. I went out in the afternoon to rent videos, and then came back home and, after some bungling, ordered a pizza.

Saturday 8/16: Woke up, with plans to go to Wal-Mart and to the movies. Walked up to Wal-Mart, was too tired to go then, and decided to go to the movies, and see how far the walk to the nearest SPRINTER station was (2 miles to up by Wal-Mart, plus 20 minutes). Took the SPRINTER to the theater, saw Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Went to Wal-Mart, Office Depot, and Target afterwards, searching for one of those CD-playing alarm clocks but having no success. Walked home (there was no bus service close to my house). Had leftovers (pizza).

Sunday 8/17: Got up early, went to church, came home (with a couple stops on the way). Spent the day at home. Mum and Papa came home that night, we hung out. On this night, my computer cord stopped working.

Monday 8/18: Went to Cal State to get the ISBN's. Got small lunch from Cougar Corner convenience store, as The Dome (the place where you get real food) was closed for renovation. Went and hung out in library open computer lab to use their internet, left a lot later than planned thanks to getting caught up in a couple Marilland videos. Left, walked to Cal State SPRINTER station to see how far away it was walking (also the shuttle to the station was not running, and I wasn't sure when the bus would come). Took SPRINTER, went home. Found and ordered a new Dell laptop using Mum's computer. Afterwards, watched TV with Mum and Papa ("In Plain Sight" and "The Closer"). Went online once more on Mum's computer, watched Marilland training video (Elite Four Training: Saik and Checkmate) to get my mind off the scary TV episodes. Went to bed, after I think reading and playing Pearl on my DS.

Tuesday 8/19: Might have had plans, not sure what they were. After breakfast, started campaign to get old stuff off computer; finally started running reboot program around 5:45 pm. Left to go to store to get more soda and stuff; forgot to get something for dinner. Fortunately, my dad was able to add to his Taco Bell order and brought me home three crunchy tacos with no lettuce (what I usually get). We ate while watching TV; watched re-run of season finale of "Beauty and the Geek." I went upstairs and played my DS, continuing my quest to level up all of my Pokemon to a level that will work for the Elite 4.

Wednesday 8/20 (today): Got up early, got ready, and went to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, where I've never been, because I was determined to go to a new beach. Kind of crowded, not nearly as much as Oceanside usually is. Was there for only around 3 hours, due to delays leaving (I forgot my wallet, holding my bus pass and my debit card, and had to go all the way home from the bus stop to get it, which caused me to have to take a later bus). I found a place for my towel and stuff, went out and swam, came back, had a snack from the snack bar, read, and then tried to nap a little, then went and swam again, then came back and hung out on my towel for a little bit before deciding to leave. After walking the few blocks to Encinitas Station, I caught the bus to Oceanside Station, caught the SPRINTER, then caught the 332 to get home. Despite my efforts to spray sunscreen in every needed place, I still got bad sunburns on the backs of my arms and legs. I hope they heal before I go back to work next Monday! I put aloe on the spots and they stung badly; Mum recommended taking ibuprofen for the pain, which I did, and I feel much better.


Moving on, I'm sure you've all heard by now the sad and annoying news about the delay of the film of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In a surprising decision, Warner Bros. decided to push back the film (which was slated for release November 21st, following the footsteps of movies 1, 2, and 4, which also had November releases -- movies 3 and 5 were released in the summer) so that it will now be released on July 17, 2009, almost a whole year from now. It is kind of stupid, really; principal photography wrapped ages ago. The movie was filmed to be released this year. I am checking and the only movie slated for the same day as the new release date is Universal Pictures' Land of the Lost, based on a '70's TV show. Actually, July 2009 seems to be the month of TV show-based movies, since a movie based on "The A-Team" is also slated to come out that month. I suppose it could be because of the writers' strike that there is a lack of original movies for that month, as well that Half-Blood Prince is being delayed. (Coincidentially, placing it at July 17, 2009, puts it at almost the 4-year anniversary of the release of the Half-Blood Prince book, which was released on July 16, 2005. But that's probably not WB's reason). Half-Blood Prince started filming on September 24, 2007, right before the strike officially started, so it very possibly was one of the films that were "rushed to production" after the news of the impending strike.

Just checked - the only other Warner Bros. film currently slated to open in July 2009 is Guardians of Ga'Hoole, which, coincidentially, is also a film based on a series of fantasy books. Except that these ones are about owls, and almost all the characters are owls. As for other summer films, the only ones Warner Bros. has for the Summer of '09, besides Guardians and Half-Blood Prince, are Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins in May, nothing in June, and Shorts in August. That is IT. It is definitely not the summer of Warner Bros. Meanwhile, the summer competition? A new Star Trek movie (which is sure to get sales -- it's an established franchise, for one, and let's not forget how crazy Trekkies are), a new X-Men movie, a Transformers sequel, a movie of Angels and Demons (the book that introduced Tom Hanks's character from The Da Vinci Code), a new Fast and the Furious, and a G.I. Joe movie, to name a few. All of these have name recognition and are likely to sell (not sure with Angels and Demons, given the bad publicity given The Da Vinci Code by Christians).

So why change the date? Based on, the only big competitor the movie would have had would have been the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, which is coming out November 7 (and looks like it's going to be awesome), and also the Twilight movie (as in based on the book series by Stephenie Meyer) had that movie kept its original December 12, 2008 release date. Despite this, they changed the date, and Twilight's release got moved up three weeks to take Half-Blood Prince's slot.

I heard the first bit of an interview recently that MuggleCast did with Stephenie Meyer (I skipped the part where they discussed her new book, Breaking Dawn, because even if I never intend to read it, I didn't want to spoil myself). I should've seen it coming since a lot of the MuggleCast hosts are also fans of Twilight (and four of them have started a separate Twilight podcast). Anyway, aside from finding the 34-year-old (thanks Wikipedia) Meyer way too bubbly and sounding really young for her age, I seemed surprised that she doesn't watch horror films and has never read a vampire novel. It's like, hello! If you're going to WRITE novels about vampires, people are going to expect you to have READ that stuff. Most writers write novels like those they like to read -- I know I do. Now granted, I do write sci-fi despite the fact that I do not regularly read sci-fi. The only sci-fi I've read are the Mars Diaries book series, the Power Mark comic series, the sort of sci-fi manga Chobits, and the novel of Star Wars Episode I by Terry Brooks (the book was pretty boring btw - having seen the movie, I found while reading that I knew almost the whole plot already). I do watch sci-fi in movies and TV, though most of my experience in that vein has been with Star Wars.

On the other hand, I write fantasy and also read a TON of fantasy novels. Yet, my fantasy novels have been hard to do. I think this is because I plan them out and realize that they seem very deriviative. In other words, it seems like I'm simply copying things I've read, but with slight changes. My Walden stories -- my primary fantasy project -- seem heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings, particularly my idea of the Elves being born in the West and then coming to Walden in boats -- which is very similar to the Elves leaving Valinor for Middle-Earth in The Silmarillion. Also, one "tale" is referenced in my "notes on Walden" that speaks of the love between a dwarf and an elf, and how their union causes a new race to be born. While there are better changes here, it seems awfully similar to the The Lay of Leithian, a.k.a. the story of Beren and Lúthien, also in The Silmarillion. I guess in many ways I have modeled my elves, the Nuri Fidele, after Tolkien's, and that is why there are so many similarities.

I wonder if this deriviative nature of my work is because I simply cannot write original fantasy or because my personal writing style/voice is not fully developed. I personally think it is the latter, since there are ideas in the "Walden" series that are original, though there are some Biblical allusions -- Chaimvin being portrayed as the one and sole God and Creator, for instance, being a reference to the monotheism of Christianity; his "servants" being a reference to angels; and the Great War being similar to the war that drove Satan out of heaven (except that it happens much later and involves some of the peoples of Walden, and not just spirits). The apocalypse story for Walden is also somewhat Biblical -- it involves the arrival of a Savior and a final battle in which evil will be vanquished forever. But Biblical allusions are all right.

The Chaimvin/God comparison is a small nod to Narnia, in which Aslan tells the children they must get to know him as he is in their world (and Aslan is meant to be the "Christ figure" in Narnia).

I wish someone would tell me the difference between being inspired by other books and being derivative. I suppose sooner or later I will say, like Philip Pullman, that I took things from every book I have ever read.

Oh boy it's late (1:14AM). I better go to bed. I just hope I can sleep what with these sunburns.

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