I've been watching a ton of old movies thanks to the Portable Media Center Movies project. On Tuesday, I saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which was pleasantly similar in feel to many of the older movies. Giant robots, simulated hokey special effects, and melodramatic acting made the movie a fun comparison to all the 1920s-1950s era stuff I've been watching. Admittedly, the CGI used in Sky Captain takes it well beyond the realm of anything directors from cinema's early days ever dreamed of, but the hero has that same can't lose attitude and the villains are evil without being unnecessarily vile. If you're feeling like a dose of cinema nostalgia, splashed in 5.1 surround and some brilliant CGI rendering, Sky Captain is well worth a trip to the cinema.
Pocket PC and Portable Media Center owners should probably think seriously about subscribing to the RSS feed for PMCmovies.com. One of the best additions to the list is the Max Fleischer animated version of Gulliver's Travels. The total number of available movies is about to double. Instead of checking the site every few days for updates, just have the updates delivered to you automatically, as they happen. If you still haven't found a RSS reader that justifies parting with a few bucks, take a look at the free Active Web Reader. The app is a good introduction to the advantages of reading Web content via RSS. It's got great feed organization, it does amazing auto-discovery of feeds, and best of all, Active Web Reader costs nothing!
After doing some more digging on the free Video Decoder Checkup Utility, I discovered it really only tests to see if the MPEG-2 codec on your system is compatible with the video transcoding features of Windows Media Player 10. The good news is, this only impacts people who purchase a Portable Media Center. At the moment, I'm still only finding one compatible codec for those who are out of compliance; the Cyberlink codec available through the Microsoft codecs page. It's generally a good idea to keep codecs up-to-date, because you never know what functional improvements (or bug fixes) might have been made since the version on your system was released, but in this case, I wouldn't sweat it unless you own a PMC.
When I talked about the various Ulead products being given away to this month's lucky forum participants, I apparently messed up the product pricing just a tad. The retail copy of DVD Workshop Express we are giving away costs $300, PhotoImpact XL is $90, and VideoStudio 8 is $100 (although you can save 20% by downloading a special version). I haven't tabulated the total dollar value of the stuff SnapStream is giving away, but I think it's more than all three Ulead apps combined. How do you get your hands on these goodies? Recipients will be selected at random, but the only way to have a shot at this free stuff is to post to the MediaBlab forums. Posting is totally free, takes only a matter of minutes, and might even help someone else with a question that's been driving them nuts. Only 5 days left to be in the running this month, so don't delay, post today.