Monthly Archive for December, 2010

duck under glass

Something had been nagging at the back of my mind since I learned about Gorilla Glass, the durable, scratch-resistant material that provides the screens for iPhones, Android phones, and similar products with touch interfaces. It was only when I just read David Pogue’s article “Gorilla Glass, the Smartphone’s Unsung Hero” that it came to me–I’d seen something like it before, a long time ago.

Remember that episode of DuckTales when Gyro Gearloose invents “ProtectoGlass” to encase Scrooge’s Money Bin in the episode “The Unbreakable Bin”?

That episode aired on February 18, 1990, but it was based on a Carl Barks story (as many episodes were) about an unbreakable glass called “The Unsafe Safe,” which dates back to October of 1961. According to Pogue’s article, Corning released Chemcor, the forbear of Gorilla Glass, in 1962. So which came first, the duck or the egg? Or was it all just an amazing coincidence?

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Apple builds one of their stores out of the stuff. Of course, neither ProtectoGlass and Gorilla Glass are indestructible. I’ve seen some shattered iPhone screens, which amazingly still work, but I have no idea what could cause such damage, and I still flinch whenever I drop my Droid.

(And just because it’s fun, here’s “Ian McKellan” reciting the DuckTales theme. It cracks me up every time.)

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a horse of a different color

We’ve suffered through some bad Star Trek episodes, but “Plato’s Stepchildren” takes the cake. Then it drops the cake, steps all over it, grinds it into the carpet, scrapes it all onto a plate, and serves it with a scoop of store brand vanilla ice cream–which doesn’t make it any more palatable, but only mocks you with the potential of a delicious treat and makes it all somehow sadder.

I cannot recommend that you watch this episode, ever. No links for you! If you’ve seen it before, you have my sympathies. One of the chapter titles on my DVD is “Psychokinetic Delirium,” which is a pretty good description of the entire travesty. Here’s the briefest assessment possible:

Continue reading ‘a horse of a different color’

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spreading some holiday cheer

Stephanie Burgis and Patrick Samphire have come up with something really special for anyone who likes fiction, especially cheerful and uplifting stories: The December Lights Project, an online collection of free short stories “to light up the winter season.” They’re publishing two or three a week through the end of this month, and are already sharing work by many fantastic authors, including Sarah Prineas, Karen HealeyMaurissa Guibord, Sherwood Smith, and of course Steph and Patrick themselves. Check out what they have up so far and keep coming back for a regular fix of warmth and joy, and a reminder of what holidays should really be about.

But wait! There’s more good news for fiction lovers: Senses Five Press has a 50% discount on everything in their store this month, which includes every issue of Sybil’s Garage and the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities, which are available in paper and/or various digital editions. Just use coupon code HOLIDAZE2010 when checking out. Might I suggest you pick up a copy of Sybil’s Garage No. 7?

(Image courtesy of Comics N Things)

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spins a web, any size, catches ships like Enterprise

Tholians' Web

It seems fitting that we cover “The Tholian Web” in the Star Trek Re-Watch in the same week that the Spider-Man musical, Turn off the Dark, premiered on Broadway. If early reviews of the show’s disastrous opening night are any indication, you’re much better off getting your web fix with this Star Trek episode, likely the best of the third season–besides, you can watch it for free at the CBS website [original | remastered]. Even more than usual, my recommendation is to stick with (heh) the original version, especially since it garnered an Emmy Award for Best Special Effects, and the visual effects are still impressive even today.

I really love this story too, which has an excellent balance of humor, tension, and sciencey-fiction conceits with a lot of great lines and character moments. My enthusiasm for it even spills over to an appreciation of the prequel series Enterprise, which linked two of my favorite TOS episodes (this and “Mirror, Mirror”) in its fourth season two-parter “In a Mirror, Darkly”–voted the best of that show by fans. (The bar wasn’t very high, of course.) Torie was less enchanted with “The Tholian Web” in her review though, so after you watch or re-watch it, pop on over to The Viewscreen and join the debate.

This episode is a real gem.

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