What Went Wrong With NBC’s Heroes?

I’ve been watching NBC’s new hit show, Heroes, since its debut last year. The show is awesome, and I can honestly say they’ve done just about everything right. The storyline is awesome. The plot threads and how they interlace together are terrific! It reminds me of the X-Files, only I believe there the plot really is going somewhere. The special effects are sprinkled in a bit at a time, but the show does not rely on them at all, focusing more on the people behind them and how their powers and abilities are affecting their lives, rather than on the powers themselves. The acting and delivery is also very good, something which is painfully absent in most TV shows today.

Heroes has been a great show. That is, up until last week’s episode, Unexpected. All I can say is “What happened?” The episode really felt like it was thrown together quite hastily. The first scene, opening in the desert with Ted and Hannah, was awful. Her acting and delivery was nothing short of pathetic. It felt like I was watching Jennifer Garner in Daredevil. I’d say it felt like Alias, but I’ve never made it through an entire episode because I can’t stomach the bad acting.

Mr. Bennet giving Isaac the gun, telling him to “Save the world,” was ridiculous. Mr. Bennet (aka “HRG” for “Horn Rimmed Glasses”) is a smart guy. He would know better than to just hand a gun over to Isaac and imply that he should blow Peter Petrelli away when/if he shows up. Come on, HRG! You just give the guy a gun and don’t even tell him where the safety is on the thing?

Later in the episode, we see HRG and his Haitian sidekick using tasers. I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have made more sense to give Isaac a taser isntead of a gun, don’t you think?

The acting by the Nevada Gaming Commission Officer gone bad was pathetic. Every scene in which he or Hope appeared was weak and felt poorly staged. The way he busts in and shoves his gun in Hiro’s face just felt like a move from a soap opera or a cheesy sitcom, and did not jive with the quality of the acting and delivery we’ve come to expect from Heroes to date.

Mohinder Suresh – You’re an idiot. You may have all of your father’s book-smarts, but you’re as dumb as a box of hammers when it comes to common sense. Sylar is so obviously a nut-job, brain-eating, power-stealing psycho. My wife calls a person’s “gut instinct” her “coockoo bell.” Mohinder, you need to listen to your coockoo bell and wake up! There’s something wrong with the guy you’re travelling around with!

The show was not without its high points. The scenes with Claire and her mother were delivered with excellence, and the “training” sessions with Claude and Peter, culminating with Peter finally breaking down his emotional barriers and being able to tap powers on demand were excellent. I did not expect him to make anywhere near as fast a progression as he did, and it was terrific. Adrian Pasdar continues to deliver his lines with excellence, and Nathan Petrelli is probably the most realistic character in the whole show.

However, I’m very concerned at the way the episode felt thrown together, and I really hope tonight’s episode returns to its roots and has the quality acting, direction, and writing that we’ve come to expect from the series so far. Despite the high points, I have to give this episode an overall thumbs down.

Initial Thoughts on Feisty Fawn Herd 3

I’ve been running Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn Herd 3 for about a week now, and so far, I’ve got to say, I’m pleased with the changes I’ve seen.

I’m running it on an HP Compaq nc6220 and a Dell Latitude D500. I encountered a few bugs in the installer. The first was minor, namely that by default, it wants to try to detect my keyboard layout by having me press a series of keys, rather than simply picking “US English” from a list. The second, somewhat more important bug is that the partitioner failed to properly set up my partitions unless I wiped the drive clean. While I expected this, it did lead to me having to reinstall Windows, which was inconvenient. Such is the life of being an alpha/beta tester!

Right off the bat, the first time you boot, the system announces that an application has recovered from a crash! I found that humorous, as there was no other indication of any sort of crash. This happened on three different installations on three different machines, so it would seem there’s something odd out of the box. Again, such is the life of being an alpha/beta tester!
Another bug I found is that when configuring an MS Exchange account in Evolution, one key piece of information is missing. Namely, the server. That’s right, while setting up my MS Exchange server, I can specify user, password, a bunch of different account options, but no server address! This seems to be a somewhat significant oversight.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the Ubuntu team is releasing dozens of updates a day. It is exciting to see the rapid development on the project, as my automatic updates notification has something for me every morning. As I went to bed last night, I installed 102 updates, and this morning, had 37 more ready to go.

Without a doubt, the biggest benefit of the new version is the automatic detection of my laptops’ Intel and Broadcom wireless cards. Finally, no need to dig up firmware from Windows drivers and cut them, or fiddle with NDISwrappers. WPA worked out of the box as well. Hooray!

I was able to install licensed software via the standard Add/Remove application, and did so with Adobe Flash, Sun Java, and a couple of other things that I previously had to download manually, or install via EasyUbuntu or Automatix. I appreciate having these as part of the standard installation methods now, and not having to go out of my way to get them on the system.

All in all, I’m having better luck with Feisty than I ever did with Edgy, and can’t wait for the real release in a couple of months!

Update: 2007-02-14

Today I was successfully (and quite easily) able to install Freemind on Feisty. I had done so in the past on Dapper, but getting the dependancies in order was such a pain I decided just to run it on my Windows machine instead. Under Feisty, with Java installed via the Add/Remove application, all I needed to do was download the libforms-java and freemind-0.8.0 Deb packages from freemind.sourceforge.net and go! The first time I attempted to install the Freemind Deb package, the installer crashed, but I was able to run it again immediately afterward and it was successful.

56 updates this morning!

Why I am “Very Hard To Reach,” or “How to Use Voicemail”

Many times over the last several years I have been told that I am “a hard guy to get a hold of,” “very hard to reach,” or “a hard guy to track down.” I admit, if you are a salesperson peddling a product I have no interest in, I won’t always return your call. Actually, I probably won’t return your call. If you call repeatedly, the frequency with which you call will be inversely proportional to the amount of time that elapses before I press “delete” in my voicemail.
Sometimes, these comments come to me by way of clients or customers of mine. Usually they come from former clients or customers of mine, if you get my drift. What these people are really saying is “I do not know how to use voicemail.” I know this to be the case because sometimes I will look back at my caller ID logs and see that someone has called me 4 times in the last two days, and left a number of voicemails that approaches 0, and is certainly nowhere near 4.

I have news to these people who accuse me of being “hard to reach.” I am one of the most accessible people in this state. I have voicemail. I have email. I have a pager. I have a cell phone. I have an answering machine at my house. At one point I had another cell phone in my car. And the only info I ever give out to anyone is mybusiness phone number. Why? Because I check it. When I get a call at the office it forwards the message to my cell phone. If I don’t answer, it goes to my pager. I do not give out my cell phone or pager number to people because they do not need it. Apparently this is one of the reasons I’m “hard to get a hold of.” The fact that I have actually simplified things seems to confuse people though.
If you call the office looking for technical support, and I am not available, my voicemail greeting even tells you how to transfer to technical support so someone can help you more quickly. Of course, this process requires pressing two buttons (sequentially, not simultaneously), and this seems to throw a lot of people off because I regularly receive voicemails from clients who are having technical issues which could be addressed by any of my staff, but for some reason, these requests wind up in my mailbox. Despite the fact that my voicemail has, for years, said, “If you require any technical assistance with a computer, network, or website, press…” People don’t hear that. They also don’t hear the part where I say “I will be out of the office until…” and go ahead and leave messages which go unanswered until I return, at which point they have thrown a conniption because I dared to not be checking my voicemail while I was on vacation or away on business (despite the fact that I clearly stated that I was on vacation or away on business and not checking voicemail). Unbelieveable.

This is right up there with the people who call, listen to an entire voicemail greeting (sometimes as long as a minute), hear the tone, and then hang up! I love getting those 4 second voicemails with nothing more than breath and the *click* of a hangup.
It is clear that these people need a primer on voicemail, and of course, being the helpful guy that I am, I’m happy to help!

Here’s a synopsis:

Pick up the phone

Dial the number of the person you need to reach.

If you reach a voicemail system,

Hang up immediately in a huff, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Immediately press 0 to get to an operator, then hang up in a huff when you get the operator’s voicemail, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Call me at home. Despite the fact that your issue is not remotely urgent or even important, and get on my “good side.”

Call my parents’ house, and ask them how to get a hold of me, because at age 35, I love getting a call from my mom telling me that so-and-so is trying to reach me.

Listen to the greeting and follow the instructions given.

When you reach the extension of the intended person, if the person is not available, and you receive his/her voicemail,

Hang up immediately in a huff, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Listen to the greeting and follow the instructions given.

If the voicemail contains information, such as a vacation notice, or instructions on how to get immediate help with your issue,

Hang up immediately in a huff, complaining about how hard I am to get a hold of.

Follow the instructions given to receive the help you are seeking.

Leave a brief, descriptive message. State your name, your telephone number, and what it is you need. Note, what you need is NOT a phone call, so do not say “hey Peter, call me.” That’s meaningless. If you leave me a voicemail and all it says is “call me,” be prepared to receive your own *click*, either on your voicemail or answering machine or even live if you answer the phone, because if all you needed was a call, then I’ll happily call you. And hang up. If you need something, tell me what it is, and I’ll call you back as soon as I can with the information, and the cycle of Eternal Phone Tag can be broken!

See how easy that is?