Aegis Padlock Fortress

When it comes to moving data around, while a USB flash drive is hard to beat for convenience, when it comes to capacity, a hard drive is what gets the job done. A full drive of data out in "the wild" should make you nervous, and if the data is sensitive, then the Aegis Padlock Fortress is the tool to keep it secure. This is a drive designed specifically to keep data secure for applications including the military, government, and healthcare.

The encryption on the Aegis Padlock Fortress is top notch. It is FIPS 140-2 certified.  To achieve this level of certification requires that is has military grade AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption. The XTS is a newer algorithm, that reportedly uses 2 cipher keys simultaneously, to provide a greater level of security than other algorithms.


Selena Gomez, STARS DANCE (Target Version)

Selena Gomez returns to the music scene (but without her band, The Scene) with her latest album, Stars Dance.

"Birthday," the opening song on Stars Dance, is a mix of  youngish elements (a sing-song delivery combined with hand claps) and some very sexual moaning -- and that's the balance Selena goes for through the whole album.  Unlike her last album, When the Stars Go Down, the singer wants to shed her G-rated Disney persona -- but she doesn't want to scare off the parents of her young fans (or cause enough controversy to get booted from the radio).  So there are some risque lyrics ("'cause we fit/perfectly/when you lay/over me") and talk of staying together all night and into the day -- but nothing too overtly sexual.

The feel of the music is much simpler: party!  The songs all have a upbeat tempo (even the breakup songs "Forget Forever" and "Love Will Remember"), and there's plenty of remixing and synthesizers going on here (which explains why her former band is effectively gone).  There are touches of different styles of music scattered through the album -- Middle Eastern on "Come & Get It," dubstep on "Slow Down," even a little Jamaican for "Like a Champion" -- but this is radio-friendly music for listeners who want to party with friends at a club while feeling older for staying up late.
Stars Dance is fluff -- but it's fun fluff.  The writing is trite (all about romance and partying (and the two together)) but Selena has a pleasant voice (even if it gets a lot of remixing here) and the songs are enjoyable and forgettable.  Also, the Target version (disclaimer: I work for Target -- but I play for keeps!) has two bonus songs and two exclusive songs.  Stars Dance is a nice little pop album.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch


It's time for a good ol' fashioned haunted house story with The Conjuring.  And while the often-overused "based on a true story" tag may not push this movie from from fantasy to reality for viewers, there is methodical proceeding to the horror that makes the film more believable that the standard horror movie -- and more effective.
In 1971, Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) work studying the supernatural.  Ed is a demonologist, while Lorraine is a clairvoyant.  They record cases of supernatural occurrences, debunk or explain the mundane events, and store affected items in their home -- including a very creepy doll.  And their latest case is the Perron family.

Roger Perron (Ron Livingston) and his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor) just moved into a new home with their five daughters, ranging in age from a cute little girl to a surly teenager.  And the warning signs start almost immedictely: The family dog won't enter the house, the youngest daughter finds a music box that she says belongs to her invisible friend (who will appear when the music stops), there's a sealed-off cellar, doors and windows open and close, and so on.  When bruises start appearing on Carolyn, the kids seem to be pulled and attacked, and a creepy being starts appearing, the Perrons turn to the Warrens for help.

The Conjuring is, as much as possible, a paranormal procedural.  The Warrens know there's something evil and want to perform an exorcism, but they need proof to give to the church -- leading to a scientific collection of data while fearing what's attached itself to the family.  The movie is simple, yet quite effective.  While the movie has the usual flying furniture and sudden appearances of decaying ghosts, there are also moments of great tension, such as when a blindfolded Carolyn plays "hide and clap" with an unseen entity, or as Lorraine gets unsettling visions of what happened before in the house.  The acting is solid, the chills are there, and while The Conjuring treads familiar territory, it does so pretty well.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch


Big Star, NOTHING CAN HURT ME soundtrack

Big Star was an artistically infleuntial and commercially unsuccessful music group that was recently examined in the documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me.  To go with the docuemntary, the Nothing Can Hurt Me soundtrack collects demos and new muixes of songs from the band's three albums, plus a few tunes from Alex Chilton and Chris Bell after the band broke up.

Nothing Can Hurt Me is a bit of an oddity.  This isn't exactly a greatest hits collection, as several of the band's bigger songs are missing (such as "Watch the Sunrise" and "Thanks You Friends").  And while none of these songs are the original studio recordings, the songs aren't that different from the originals that die-hard fans will need to hear the different versions.

What Nothing Can Hurt Me does is remind the listener of how amazing Big Star really was.   Big Star could disaplay the rocking feel of the 1970s when they were recording, but they also captured the angst of teen romance (on songs like "September Gurls" and "Thirteen") and they had a musical feel that foreshadowed the college alternative music scene of the 1980s.  The songs are mostly in chronological order, which shows the band's steady movement to both experimentation and disillusionment (the latter highlighted by Alex Chilton's "All We Ever Got from Them Was Pain").  Nothing Can Hurt Me is a great look at a band whose music never took off like they wanted -- but was loved by so many.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch



Giant robots fight giant monsters!  This is about all you need to know about Pacific Rim, an action movie that is big on big effects, short on originality, and a waste of the directing talent of Guillermo del Toro.
In the near future, a dimensional rift in the, well, Pacific Rim sends out giant monsters that humanity names Kaiju.  After conventional weapons prove too costly, the nations of the world build Jaegers: giant robots, guided by two pilots connected by a neural interface called the Drift.  At first the Jaegers are extremely effective, but soon more powerful Kaiju emerge, Jaegers start getting destroyed, and the world abandons the Jaeger program for a series of giant walls that don't work at all.

Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) wants to keep the Jaeger program going, so he relocates his resources to Hong Kong with a mission: Destroy the dimensional rift.  He recruits Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam), a once-successful Jaeger pilot who got burned out when his co-pilot and brother was killed.  Mako Mori (Rino Kikuchi) is a protege of Pentecost's, and she wants to be a Jaeger pilot (not to mention love interest for Beckett).  Scientists Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) are in the program to learn the creature's goals and weaknesses -- and they're in the movie for comic relief.  And Ron Perlman is there as Hannibal Chau, a black-market dealer in Kaiju remains.
All the plotting -- which includes hidden agendas, romantic angles, last-minute complications, and pilot rivalries -- is secondary to seeing the last four Jaegers (all varied in design, and abilities) slug it out with a number of Kaiju (all varied in design and abilities).  While the battles are a little entertaining at first, Pacific Rim soon feels like a high-budget Godzilla movie.  The Kaiju behave inconsistently as the plot dictates, the battles are often confusing (not to mention reliant on suddenly-introduced weapons and slow motion), and the whole thing feels shamelessly designed to please audiences looking for simple pleasures.  Pacific Rim is the stereotypical summer blockbuster -- lots of effects, little else.

Overall grade: D+
Reviewed by James Lynch



Ah, irony.  Back when the "Twisted Toyfare Theater" strips of Mego superhero action figures appeared in the magazine Toyfare, DC. Comics sued to keep their characters from appearing.  "TTT" inspired Robot Chicken, which had no problem showing DC characters in humorous or embarrassing situations.  And now there's the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special, which is nothing but DC characters.  Go figure.

Robot Chicken DC Comics Special is twice as long as the typical Robot Chicken episode, making the special about 22 minutes.  There are both running gags (a kickball, Bane breaking Batman's back, Aquaman finally being pushed too far, goofy real DC characters) and stand-alone bits (multiple ice-based villains robbing the same place, the show's uber-nerd getting a Green Lantern power ring).  And numerous celebrities do voices here, including Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Megan Fox, Neil Patrick Harris, and Alex Borstein.

There are over two hours of extras on the dvd (amazing, considering the main feature is less than half an hour), from deleted sketches and outtakes to the making of the special, a visit to the DC Comics offices on the West Coast, and commentaries on the sketches from both the writers and actors.  Given how brief the main feature is, I would have liked this better if they added some sketches of the DC characters from the regular episodes, as there have been plenty of them and they could have really given us the Robot Chicken take on these heroes and villains.

The special is still pretty good, though.  Robot Chicken DC Comics Special may go for the goofier or simpler types of humor, but there are lots of funny moments ("Protect me, Selena Gomez!") and things even comics fans may have never thought about (like Superman's memory-stealing kiss power from Superman 2).   This is a quick viewing -- and it's not exactly designed for multiple viewings -- but it's fun while it lasts.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch




The comically mismatched partners get the comedy-police treatment in The Heat, a movie continuing the trend obnoxious, gross, over-the-top humor starring women instead of men.  The Heat has two great leads, with everything else being forgettable or predictable.

The setup here is pretty simple.  Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is an ambitious, intelligent, successful by-the-book F.B.I. agent hoping for a promotion.  She's also uptight, alienates her co-workers, never curses, and has no social life.  (All of her personal photos are either her alone or with her neighbor's cat.)  Her chance at promotion comes with her new assignment -- going to Boston to arrest a drug dealer no one can identify -- and the chance to show she can work well with others.

Unfortunately for Ashburn, the Boston cop handling the case is Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a profanity-spewing, play-by-her-own-rules battleaxe who terrorizes her squad and has no filter to her comments or violence.  Can the two work together to stop the bad guy?

The answer to that is as obvious as the rest of the movie.  Bullock and McCarthy are great together, and their polar-opposite characters have a nice chemistry.  Beyond that, though, everyone and everything else is just so much background noise.  The closest thing any of the supporting cast have to character development is Mullins' constant jokes about an albino agent; we also get such familiar scenes as an inappropriate family, getting drunk together in a bar, and quiet moments of bonding.

There are plenty of laughs from the stars in The Heat, but if you stop to think for just a second you'll see that there's almost nothing else worthwhile or original besides them.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch