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Chungy Nexen
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Chungy Nexen

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This might be a late review given the set came out in 2009... and I've owned it since March. Anyhow, I'm talking about Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-ray. (In most of the post, just "Star Trek" will refer to the original series, rather than the franchise at large.)

Anyone that has known me for any decent amount of time probably knows that I love Star Trek, and the original is one of my favorites. Actually, I still haven't decided whether I like it or Deep Space Nine better; both shows take the franchise in completely different directions and perform excellently at the task. It's a shame to not own it for my own enjoyment.

Going into a complete run-down of the series in a single post isn't reasonable. Star Trek itself varies wildly from the awful to the excellent shows, and plenty of middle in between them. When it's excellent, it's at the top of the game and provides exactly the right amounts of drama, action, and critical thinking; it can be suspenseful and exciting. When it's awful, it can be dreadful, predictable, and boring. All in all, it does manage to come out on top despite its failings, and has a wonderful charm and shouldn't be missed. It lasted only three seasons, and each of them has a share of bad and good episodes; unfortunately, the third season suffered the most. There is still great stuff contained in season 3, but due to budget cuts and production troubles, it also has the bulk of the "bad" episodes.

The Blu-ray release is based on remastering work done on Star Trek from 2006 to 2008. The original film negatives were scanned digitally into a high-definition format and subsequently cleaned up. Defects in the film were repaired as much as possible, color contrast was fixed; the very sharpness and consistent framing of the remastering is excellent throughout, it could be mistaken for a modern production in most cases. There are scenes shot out-of-focus or with soft focuses, and there is stock footage for which no high-definition treatment can be done properly. These are unfortunate but this is the best presentation of Star Trek there ever has been, and likely will continue to be so. It had a limited syndication as they were being done, and the first season was released on HD DVD ... the subsequent seasons had to be released in DVD only format due to the cancellation of HD DVD, and it took over a year for a Blu-ray release to be announced or come out.

In one of the most controversial moves, the exterior special effects (and a few more minor ones) were recreated with CGI. The broadcast of course showed these, and the HD DVD and DVD remastered releases both had them exclusively. I like them, but I understand the resentment about completely replacing the original shots. Perhaps one of the original justifications was that the old DVDs wouldn't go away, but that discards all the other improvements with the remastered series. Seemingly not wanting to get into a Star Wars situation, this was rectified with the Blu-ray release. Every episode uses video branching so that you may select the original effects or CGI effects (called "enhanced effects" on the menu) before starting the episode, and swap between them as you watch; the branching means that the bulk of the episode uses the same video stream, only the effects shots need to have two separate encodes. Nice of them, keeps the quality excellent and the disc space requires low at the same time. There was an effort to clean up the original effects too, though I'm not sure as much care went into them. There are obvious defects and damage on them. Given the production and re-using the same film or tapes many times in each episode, this might just be the best possible.

In the audio department, I don't have a surround system to properly review the entire thing. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is a 7.1 surround mix, and thankfully their choice of codec allows it to cleanly downmix to 5.1 and 2.0 (stereo) in exactly the manner that dedicated tracks (on DVD or HD DVD) would be. It sounds good in stereo, voices are always clear, sounds are panned between the speakers appropriately, and it is exactly as it should, which is a vast improvement over the DVD releases. There is a dedicated stereo track on season 1's HD DVD version, however only a 5.1 surround track on the DVD versions of all seasons, which makes voices sound distant and drowned out by what should be background music; I'm very glad this issue doesn't exist on the Blu-ray version. Also missing in the previous remastered releases is the original mono mix of the episodes, included in the Blu-ray. The most major audible difference is how the music cues and scores were re-orchestrated and re-recorded in the modern track; some audio degradation can be heard but not much in it. Nice addition, I suppose.

At least in my US version of the discs (which are region-free), every episode of the main series also has original mono tracks for French and Spanish dubs; the exception to this is The Cage, which has English audio only. Every episode, including The Cage and most specials, are complete with English, French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles.

In my opinion, one of the most important but probably overlooked aspects of the Blu-ray release is the packaging itself. Each season is in a fairly standard Blu-ray case, with dividers in the middle to hold most of the discs. Seasons 1 and 2 have seven discs each, whereas season 3 only has six. No stacked discs and all of them are easy to remove and put back in. The first two seasons are little over twice as thick as a standard case, the third one is about 1.5× as thick. These are probably the most boring and down-to-earth cases that any Star Trek seasonal set (over the whole franchise) has ever been, and that's a GOOD thing. Rather that wooing with oversized and cool-but-impractical packaging (the HD DVD/DVD releases of the remastered series have about 5 layers of packing to go through to get to the discs), these are kept simple and easy to store and use. Does what it needs to, and no more.

One gripe I have about the packaging is that the labels on the discs themselves don't have enough details, all one might say is "Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 - Disc 4", which works, but there is a great deal of whitespace left on the label that could have been filled in with a list of episodes that the disc contains. Another thing is that where the episodes are actually listed is on the inside of the cover, which with all the discs in their proper places, the listings are obscured by the last discs of seasons 1 and 2, and both the first and last discs of season 3. This makes it annoying to scan through the episode list, it almost invariably requires the removal of at least one disc just to read all of them (or you can remove the paper from the Blu-ray box... which is tight enough that it presents some small difficulty in putting it back into place. Yes, I speak from experience).

The order of the episodes are in the original airing sequence. I have no strong opinions about this, but I know many fans feel like the original production order is the proper one. Nowhere on the Blu-ray does it indicate what order they were produced in, you'll need to look elsewhere (such as Memory Alpha) to find that out, if you want to. The in-cover listing of the episodes show the stardates, which MOSTLY meshes with the production order, but some are wildly off, and many episodes lack them entirely. Star Trek has very little continuity to make it matter which episodes to watch before others; only occasionally are prior events referenced, and those can be easily missed. Watching them in production order also would mean swapping Blu-ray discs in and out of the player at a higher rate than I personally would be comfortable with. Make up your own mind about this :)

The only real gripe I have about the order the episodes are in, is that the pilot episodes (The Cage and the unaired cut of Where No Man Has Gone Before) are stuck on the very last disc of the third season. In fact, only the first five discs of the season 3 box are actually season 3 episodes. Considering that these bonuses are from before the show's run, it would make more sense, in my opinion, to include them in the season 1 set. I bought the whole series all at once, where they are placed makes no huge difference, but it still strikes me as odd. I believe the justification for The Cage, is that it was eventually aired on TV in 1988 (mostly to fill in for a writer's strike that prevented work on The Next Generation Season 2), which technically makes it the last episode in airing order, but I find that to be a stretch. The unaired network pilot of Where No Man Has Gone Before was recovered from a German collector and has no remastering work done to it; the largest differences from the main series are that Kirk's opening monologue is different and there are 1960s-style act cards between scenes (ACT I, ACT II, etc).

In a nice bit of continuity, the final shot of Turnabout Intruder (the last episode of the series, in both airing and production orders), with the enhanced/CGI effects, shows the Enterprise flying into the stars set against a backdrop of the Eagle Nebula. The same nebula is used in the beginning of The Cage (also with enhanced/CGI effects) as "STAR TREK" comes up on the screen. Whether you watch The Cage first (I actually did that, myself) or last (disc order), this does provide an enjoyable connection between the beginning and end of the series.

The bonuses included on the discs are what has been seen in the original DVD season sets as well as the older remastered releases, among a couple new features. In ones ported over from the 2002 DVDs, you can get small glimpses of how the series looked before remastering, colors dulled and the lack of sharpness. The quality and value of these bonuses varies ("Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner" is probably the most boring and nonsensical one there is...). A handful of episodes include "Starfleet Access" that shows little tidbits of facts on top of them, mostly related to the remastering process itself; given a lack of people around that actually produced the show, not a whole lot of insight is really provided. It's packed full of all the bonuses they could do, and it's appreciated... but I think the series itself puts a whole lot more weight than these do.

Now as I'm finally winding down, my recommendation for The Original Series on Blu-ray: get it, absolutely, if you're a Star Trek fan. This is the best release the series has ever had, and likely will retain that status for years to come (I doubt there will be a 4K release nor much more to be told about the series). I managed to get it rather cheaply at about $130, which also puts it as one of the cheapest methods to obtain the show ever, too (I paid $100 for the HD DVD release of just the first season when it was new!). It should satisfy fans that prefer the original effects, they're all preserved with all the janky detail they always had. If you're not a fan of the show, buying a full season or series set probably isn't the wisest idea; you can rent it on Netflix or Google Play to check it out, the first season being the most consistently good of the three... if you get hooked and want it for keeps, then yes, get the Blu-ray :)
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Thanks for the very complete review! 
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Chungy Nexen

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About time :) the Libav move was a mistake from the beginning.

(To be clear: I understand that the previous FFmpeg maintainer in Debian was one of the parties responsible for the Libav fork, and honestly felt to be acting in the best interest of Debian.)
 
Ending an era of shipping Libav as default the Debian Multimedia Team is working out the last details of switching to FFmpeg. If you would like to read more about the reasons please read the ration...
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Chungy Nexen

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#NexusPlayer first world problems.
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When I first saw Bard, I got confused because I thought he was Orlando.
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There really ought to be a cross-browser sync tool. Chrome and Firefox having syncs that sync only to themselves is kind of annoying. None of the information either one syncs is particularly special: open tabs, history, bookmarks, passwords.
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SourceForge is now actively evil.
 
It appears that +SourceForge took over the control of the 'GIMP for Windows' account and is now distributing an ads-enabled installer of GIMP. They also locked out original owner of the account, Jernej Simončič, who has been building the Windows versions of GIMP for our project for years.

So far they haven't replied to provide explanations. Therefore, we remind you again that GIMP only provides builds for WIndows via its official Downloads page.
Source for version 2.8 (Stable). GIMP releases available from gimp.org and its mirrors contain the source code and have to be compiled in order to be installed on your system. For instructions, how to build GIMP from source code, please see this page.
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There's some funny irony in people posting it to Slashdot when both sites were owned by the same shitty faceless corporation last time I checked.
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I really hate this style of installs, on multiple levels. Will be glad to see their extinction.
 
I see more and more projects doing the "curl | sudo bash" method of installing something.  Not good on huge number of levels.  This is a good rant of people doing this for containers.

Yes, I know docker doesn't support signed images yet, hopefully that will happen someday...
None of these "fancy" tools still builds by a traditional make command. Every tool has to come up with their own, incomptaible, and non-portable "method of the day" of building. And since nobody is still able to compile things from scratch, everybody just downloads precompiled binaries from ...
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AOSP keyboard has a "PC" layout, neat. Not quite as good as Hacker's Keyboard since it lacks many special and modifier keys, but it's not too bad
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It seems bizarre to me that the internal storage of mobile devices (phones + tablets) tend to ship with internal storage partitioned between user data and the operating system partitions. Worst of all, the advertised space (eg, 16G, 32G, 64G, etc) is for the total capacity of the chip, while it's not wrong per se, it's misleading. The operating system will usually take up at least 4G or more on its own, just reducing the usable space for users (including music, movies, applications). This could be rectified by simply advertising how much space is partitioned for user data, but it's not ideal.

So here's my thought: Why do these devices ship with only a single storage chip? How much extra cost will it actually be to ship with two instead, one for the system partitions, and one for user data? I'm sure even a 8GB chip is good enough for the system for a long time to come. Both Android and iOS and built on top of Unix, neither one should have any issues whatsoever in partitioning out in this way, and both will benefit when users see that their 32GB devices actually has 32GB available to them.

Ranting over.
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I wonder if it reflects anything about me when the AOSP keyboard swipe completed the word ssh before ask.
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Mine thinks "sloop" is a word that I want to use frequently enough to force-correct it.
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+1! At least a part of it (=
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