Daily Archives: July 1, 2015

Wayward Pines: What an M. Night Shyamalan TV series looks like

M. Night Shyamalan is a name people either love or hate. Some remember early Shyamalan films like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable and, based on these, believe Shyamalan to be one of the most innovative storytellers in Hollywood. Others, however, remember films like Lady in the Water and After Earth and think Shyamalan just doesn’t have it anymore. While I haven’t been a fan of the later films of his, Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense and The Village were two movies that inspired me when I was younger to become a writer. I loved the emotional impact of his stories and the way he shaped viewer expectations throughout a film before revealing what viewers should have expected all along at the end.

Shyamalan had been mentioning on Twitter for the past year about a television project he was working on called Wayward Pines. He has been known for movies, but I was very interested to see what an M. Night Shyamalan-produced television show would look like. And so far I haven’t been disappointed.

Photo Credit: Fox

The first episode of Wayward Pines appeared on Fox on May 14, 2015, and was watched by 3.7 million viewers and the ratings have grown since then. What’s interesting about Wayward Pines as a television show is that is actually an adaptation of a trilogy of books called Wayward Pines by author Blake Crouch. I’ve never read the books, but the premise is interesting. In the books and in the show, a secret service agent named Ethan Burke finds himself in a small town called Wayward Pines. There’s something strange about the town, not the least of which is that Burke can’t leave. He soon discovers that there is a secret about Wayward Pines and why no one can leave that would leave anyone in that situation stunned. The books follow Burke as he discovers the secret of the town, then becomes the town’s primary protector.

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The danger of any book-to-television adaptation, especially with an M. Night Shyamalan production where mystery is a key component of the story, is that the source material is already out there and many people could read the books and already know the basic story. Fortunately, Wayward Pines wasn’t that well-known as a book series, so while people could go and read the source material before watching the show, it seems likely that a majority of the show’s viewers haven’t. And even if someone has, it would be just like having one of your favorite novels, The Hunger Games, for example, adapted into a movie. They’re two different mediums and will approach the story two different ways.

The secret of exactly what the town of Wayward Pines is will be surprising to anyone who hasn’t read the books. Shyamalan is known for twist endings, and the twist at the end of Blake Crouch’s first book in the trilogy is revealed in episode 5 of the television show. Many people accuse Shyamalan of overusing twists in his stories, though it would be a bit unfair for this one since it’s actually Crouch’s story twist. But it’s easy to see why a story like this appealed to Shyamalan. Wayward Pines deals with some deep issues and the stakes for everyone involved are significant.

The first four episodes revolve around Ethan Burke and his arrival in Wayward Pines and his family’s desperate search for him. Burke heads for Boise, Idaho to search for two missing agents when he’s involved in a crash and wakes up in a hospital in Wayward Pines. The nurse taking care of his is odd and no one will let him contact his family. His family, wife Theresa and son Ben, are trying to find him, worried that he may have abandoned them for a woman he once enjoyed an inappropriate relationship with. The family dynamic and the tension several members of the town experience as a result of being separated from the ones they love is played out from week to week to give viewers a sense of what citizens of Wayward Pines have to give up to be there and the potential harm it could cause for anyone to try to leave. After watching this dynamic interplay for four weeks, you’re hit with the reality of the situation Burke, his family, and all the other citizens of Wayward Pines are in. I may have watched the show casually up until that point, but after that, I was hooked.

Wayward Pines is, of course, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke, Carla Gugino as Kate Hewson, one of the agents that Burke is sent to find, and Terrence Howard as the town’s creepy and overbearing sheriff. Wayward Pines has been mostly well-received by critics and viewers alike and Fox is already discussing the possibility of a second season, although with a new cast. It looks like this first season of the show is covering the narrative of all three books in the series with minor deviations, so a second season would likely be material expanding upon what Blake Crouch originally wrote. Whatever Fox decides, it will be interesting to see.

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Wayward Pines: What an M. Night Shyamalan TV series looks like

[GamerTell] Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold Preview: Let's go on a Picnic

etrian odyssey 2 untold a
The 3DS retellings of Etrian Odyssey are unique not only because they give a sense of structure in the form of a defined stories and precreated characters, but also because they take substantial steps to make the series more accessible to people who would find the games too punishing otherwise. Thus people too put off by Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard may find Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight far more inviting.

At least, that’s my takeaway after about 10 hours with the game. Since everyone is familiar with the standard difficulty of the series, I thought it best to approach Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold with the new Picnic mode. It’s the easiest of the easy, but not exactly the simplest of the simple. My takeaway thus far is that going on a Picnic means characters are slightly more powerful than usual and there’s less need to grind.

For example, my team reached level five without any effort. I want to say that milestone was hit after less than two hours of play. Story mode characters, like the titular Fafnir Knight, were dealing over a hundred points of damage while at level one. It made the commentary from the story mode characters at the start of battle, during which they’d sometimes suggest specific attacks or elements to use to make a fight easier, seem more like a bonus, since I knew my characters could easily wipe out any foe anyway. And, even if they did fall, that was okay too. The game would give me a second chance. This may seem less attractive to veterans, which is fine since Expert mode is there for them, but it makes Picnic mode a highlight for those new to Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold.

The skill system is more open as well. Leveling up a mastery, say Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold‘s Heal Mastery, to level one, three or five will automatically sometimes provide instant access to the level one version of specific battle abilities. Grimoire Stones from the previous Untold return, and it’s possible to equip them to give someone an ability without any of the work.

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Yet, Picnic mode doesn’t hand things to a player. It makes Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold more welcoming, but doesn’t alter the quests or Yggdrasil Labyrinth challenges. The second floor is a good example. Highly aggressive FOEs (Formido Oppugnatura Exsequens) resembling tyrannosaurus rexes stalk the rooms. Picnic may make the group stronger and encounters easier to manage, but these particular monsters are still incredibly deadly and the impromptu puzzle that allows the party safe passage is the same here as it is on the other difficulty levels. Though, the fact that Ariadne Threads, the instant escape item, isn’t removed from the inventory after one usage on Picnic mode, meant less pressure if one of these FOEs cornered me.

The multiple save files is a boon too. I have three save files at the moment. One a Classic save, to enjoy an updated version of the original experience. The other two are the Story modes at two different difficulty levels. It provides a sense of freedom and comfort. If there’s a problem, there are options. I can maintain multiple files and jump back to an earlier date.

Perhaps most helpful is the cafe. Things aren’t handed to people. You can’t immediately cook up a dish that will regenerate health as you walk through the dungeon. Ingredients have to be acquired. You have to listen to Regina’s audio cues when picking what food to add when decoding recipes. Available dishes have to be purchased. You’re still earning everything, even when heading out on a Picnic.

Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold will give people a chance to experience the second installment again on August 4, 2015. If the difficulty always put you off before, maybe it’s finally time to consider going on a Picnic with the Fafnir Knight.

Site [Atlus] Product Page Amazon

Originally posted here –

[GamerTell] Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold Preview: Let's go on a Picnic

[EntertainmentTell] Top ten films of the first half of 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road 1. “Mad Max: Fury Road”

2. “Ex Machina”

3. “Inside Out”

4. “Dope”

5. “Love and Mercy”

6. “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

7. “Moonwalkers”

8. “The Look of Silence”

9. “’71”

10. “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.”

That’s all for now, folks.

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[EntertainmentTell] Top ten films of the first half of 2015

[GamerTell] Lego Jurassic World Review: Cashing in

lego jurassic world ps4

Lego Jurassic World
Price: $59.99
System(s): PS4 (Also for 3DS, PS3, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Vita, PC)
Release Date: Month Date, Year
Publisher (Developer): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Traveller’s Tales)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone 10+” for Cartoon Violence and Crude Humor

Given the 14 year gap between Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World, it’s easy to forget the Michael Crichton was once such an extended series. Most people tend to focus on the original, and the passage of time has turned them into a “nineties” thing. But there is a storied history here and surprising depth of lore, with Jurassic World revitalizing interest in it. Fortunately, people can take to Lego Jurassic World to act as a competant, if buggy, refresher.

lego jurassic world 1

Welcome to Jurassic Park.

Lego Jurassic World is a humorous and lighthearted recounting of Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World. The most poignant scenes from each movie, complete with original voice acting, are provided for all players to reexperience. Naturally, since this is a Lego game, they’ve been fluffed up some. There isn’t the same fear that the dinosaurs are going to eat any of the heroes or heroines. It’s more of a lighthearted rivalry at times instead.

The twist is that you not only get to play as all of the stars from the Jurassic Park series, each with their own special skills and abilities, but as dinosaurs as well. Like the characters, they each have their own special abilities and, taking a cue from Jurassic World, can be even create your own custom dinosaurs.

Which means the goal comes down to running through familiar movies and enjoying the ride, perhaps stopping back later in free play to use additional characters and creatures to acquire every collectable.

lego jurassic world 2

Don’t rush me.

Much of Lego Jurassic World is par for the course. The concepts are the same. Revisit worlds you’ve loved. Complete objectives. Come back later to see every bit of the world. Marvel at Lego recreations of iconic moments, and revel in destroying it all. It’s the sort of game you play when you need something entertaining that you don’t have to think about, given that the puzzles are never too challenging.

In fact, simplicity is a recurring theme in Lego Jurassic World. There are open world elements to the game, where people can explore as a human or dinosaur character. The retellings of the main adventure, however, embrace brevity. Traveller’s Tales’ titles have always been the video game equivalent of CliffNotes for established franchises, but it’s never felt as obvious as it does here. The levels here are shorter than ones found in the Lego Harry Potter, Lego Star Wars or Lego Lord of the Rings series. Some may appreciate this, as it makes it easier to unlock areas for free play adventures, but it feels like it’s taking an easy series and dumbing it down further.

It makes me wonder if Traveller’s Tales was pressured to push Lego Jurassic World out to coincide with the movie’s release, and the final product suffered as a result. I’d believe it, given the troubles I experienced when the game. Sometimes, I’d be going through a mission, wondering why I wasn’t progressing, only realizing that it was impossible to because bugs kept me from completing objectives. (Exiting the game and reloading tended to fix things.) The dinosaurs don’t work right, with collision and control errors. There was even a time when a checkpoint didn’t function properly in a level. Quick time event prompts are broken.

Know what isn’t fun? When you’re controlling a raptor or driving a car and it gets stuck. One moment, you’re driving. The next, you’re stuck to a wall. Want to break free? Reload. Then, you wait for it to happen again. Because it will happen again.

lego jurassic world 3

Dinosaurs are troublemakers.

Lego Jurassic World is, at this moment, a disappointment. It’s the most problematic Traveller’s Tales game I’ve ever played. Never have I seen an installment where, instead of becoming absorbed in the experience, I’m waiting for things to fall apart. And not in the good, shatter these bricks so I can collect pegs way. The game needs patches, though even when those do come and make it more playable, Lego Jurassic World will still be remembered as one of the “average” Lego video games.

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[GamerTell] Lego Jurassic World Review: Cashing in

[GadgeTell] Why attempt home automation yourself when you can have a pro do it for you?

total_control_logo-1This post is sponsored by URC.

We know the standard answer to the question in the headline: Because it’s cheaper. But is it really?

Now, if you’re an endless tinkerer and do-it-yourselfer, more power to you. If you like to fix your own plumbing and electrical, do your own landscaping, install your own cabinetry, pave your own driveway, or do your own taxes, we respect and appreciate that. Heck, you can buy a titanium replacement hip online if you’d like to install one yourself.

The question is, should you? While DIYing can seem to sometimes save money up front and be a satisfying endeavor, the fact remains that you’re probably not a professional who’s done what you’re doing many times over, and who knows all the ins and outs and potential pitfalls.

And then there’s the old adage that “time is money.” Would you rather spend the time and effort to do it yourself, or use that time to do fun or productive things while a pro handles the grunt work and does everything the right way?

In all kinds of situations, most people will choose the pro, but when it comes to home automation, they assume there aren’t any pros. Not true.

If you are the kind of person who will hire an accountant, a plumber, a landscaper, an interior designer, etc., we have news for you if you want a home automation system. There are licensed professionals who can install them for you. They’re known as “custom integrators” and they do nothing but install automation and entertainment systems in homes.

You might not have heard of these folks before, and you’re not alone. We are using the term “custom integrators” but these professionals are also called “electronic systems contractors,” “custom installers” and other terms. It’s definitely not as easy as saying, “I need a plumber,” and then looking up a plumber. But home automation manufacturers like URC make it easy to find custom integrators through their handy dealer locator.

Why do we call them “custom integrators”? Because they keep up with all the latest technologies, most of which, unfortunately, do not “plug and play.” They personalize the hardware and software in an automation system specifically for you and your needs. They’ll ask you questions about how you‘d like to use your system and what you’d ideally like it to do. And then they go about the hard work of finding the right products, and integrating all of that hardware and software into one network that is as easy to use and enjoy as possible.

Not only that, but custom integrators have access to time-tested, high-quality, proven products that the average untrained civilian does not. They’re not using the DIY products from places like Home Depot and Best Buy. They’re using products and components to which they have exclusive access. They’re also heavily trained on these products and often receive full certifications regularly, similar to an electrician. On your own, it’s like you’re buying a bunch of low-end car parts that you must put together to make a road-ready vehicle. With a custom integrator, you simply get the keys to a finished, sleek, high-performance Maserati. And as for the latest upgrades as you speed down the road? Yes, technology is changing every day. And they can cover that too.

Home automation is not a set of individual retail products that may or may not work together if you work hard at it. It’s meant to be a symphony, where all of the products connect to and work with each other. And the custom integrator is the conductor of that symphony… until he’s all finished and hands the baton to you.

So find your local custom integrator today, and soon you’ll be enjoying that beautiful home automation music.

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[GadgeTell] Why attempt home automation yourself when you can have a pro do it for you?

[GadgeTell] Why attempt home automation yourself when you can have a pro do it for you? (Post sponsored by URC)

total_control_logo-1We know the standard answer to the question in the headline: Because it’s cheaper. But is it really?

Now, if you’re an endless tinkerer and do-it-yourselfer, more power to you. If you like to fix your own plumbing and electrical, do your own landscaping, install your own cabinetry, pave your own driveway, or do your own taxes, we respect and appreciate that. Heck, you can buy a titanium replacement hip online if you’d like to install one yourself.

The question is, should you? While DIYing can seem to sometimes save money up front and be a satisfying endeavor, the fact remains that you’re probably not a professional who’s done what you’re doing many times over, and who knows all the ins and outs and potential pitfalls.

And then there’s the old adage that “time is money.” Would you rather spend the time and effort to do it yourself, or use that time to do fun or productive things while a pro handles the grunt work and does everything the right way?

In all kinds of situations, most people will choose the pro, but when it comes to home automation, they assume there aren’t any pros. Not true.

If you are the kind of person who will hire an accountant, a plumber, a landscaper, an interior designer, etc., we have news for you if you want a home automation system. There are licensed professionals who can install them for you. They’re known as “custom integrators” and they do nothing but install automation and entertainment systems in homes.

You might not have heard of these folks before, and you’re not alone. We are using the term “custom integrators” but these professionals are also called “electronic systems contractors,” “custom installers” and other terms. It’s definitely not as easy as saying, “I need a plumber,” and then looking up a plumber. But home automation manufacturers like URC make it easy to find custom integrators through their handy dealer locator.

Why do we call them “custom integrators”? Because they keep up with all the latest technologies, most of which, unfortunately, do not “plug and play.” They personalize the hardware and software in an automation system specifically for you and your needs. They’ll ask you questions about how you‘d like to use your system and what you’d ideally like it to do. And then they go about the hard work of finding the right products, and integrating all of that hardware and software into one network that is as easy to use and enjoy as possible.

Not only that, but custom integrators have access to time-tested, high-quality, proven products that the average untrained civilian does not. They’re not using the DIY products from places like Home Depot and Best Buy. They’re using products and components to which they have exclusive access. They’re also heavily trained on these products and often receive full certifications regularly, similar to an electrician. On your own, it’s like you’re buying a bunch of low-end car parts that you must put together to make a road-ready vehicle. With a custom integrator, you simply get the keys to a finished, sleek, high-performance Maserati. And as for the latest upgrades as you speed down the road? Yes, technology is changing every day. And they can cover that too.

Home automation is not a set of individual retail products that may or may not work together if you work hard at it. It’s meant to be a symphony, where all of the products connect to and work with each other. And the custom integrator is the conductor of that symphony… until he’s all finished and hands the baton to you.

So find your local custom integrator today, and soon you’ll be enjoying that beautiful home automation music.

Original post:

[GadgeTell] Why attempt home automation yourself when you can have a pro do it for you? (Post sponsored by URC)

[In-Car Tech] Waving bye-bye-bye to Car Tech Tell

Car Tech Tell Editor-In-Chief Reflection Photo

Self-portraits in chrome are a fun little thing I like to do when I shoot photos of cars I review. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

I checked my e-mail yesterday

[In-Car Tech] Call me Low-Cal Al: Testing the 2.7L Ford F-150

Choices. Lots of choices. But the 2.7 gets the job done and then some!

Choices. Lots of choices. But the 2.7 gets the job done and then some!

Lyndon has been enjoying his 3.5-liter “big block” EcoBoost Ford F-150, but I was able to get my hands on one of the vehicles more coveted around these parts: the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6.

The 2.7 does save some weight as well as save some money. It is only an $800 option over the base V6, but makes 325 horsepower with the help of two turbos whooshing boost into the petite-for-a-pickup engine. But you would never know its diminutive size.

My friend T had just got out of his 5.7 Dodge Ram Hemi and was curious how the EcoBoost 3.5 would work.

“Damn, this thing pulls good for a 3.5 liter V6!” he exclaimed.

[In-Car Tech] Fully Evolved: 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution reviewed

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution stands out in a crowd with unexpected comfort. And check out those beautiful Brembo brakes!

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution stands out in a crowd with unexpected comfort. And check out those beautiful Brembo brakes!

Back in 2008, I was able to test a Mitsubishi Lancer. I really liked that car. There was something about the roomy rear seat that belied its size-class comparables, the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

Mitsubishi unfortunately has gotten a bad rap with reliability issues, and a waning dealer base makes that frustrating to the customer. But they still make great cars, even if the brand is on watch.

Through the years, the Lancer remained relatively unchanged, and the holy grail is the Evolution.

[In-Car Tech] Product Review: Coolreall Box 21

Coolreall Box 21

Coolreall Box 21

I thought the problems with the world’s batteries were solved when companies such as DieHard first started to market portable jumper packs to start a dead battery. Quickly adopted by AAA and tow truck drivers, it eliminated the need for jumper cables, which is awesome because sometimes when a battery dies, it leaves the vehicle stranded in an inconvenient place.

But first-gen jumper packs used more conventional battery technology. The next level would be something you can throw in your glove compartment.

To that end, Coolreall introduced their Coolreall Car Jump Starter, BOX21 and power bank set featuring lithium ion tech. It features 450A Peak Current, advanced safety protection, and two built-in LED flashlights.

The unit comes packaged with a power cords to charge it at 120V or 12V, and a myriad of connectors so you can also charge your mobile device. There is a large LED flashlight on the top and the sides of the unit which can help you find your positive battery terminal or the specific place the manufacturer wants you to jump your car if the battery is buried,