The theater experience.

I went to see The Pursuit of Happyness at the theater this evening. I arrived about half an hour before the posted 7:00 start time of the show. The actual movie didn’t start until 7:30, which means that I sat through about an hour of advertisements. If I had shown up on time I wouldn’t have been able to get a decent seat, but I would only have to sit through 30 minutes of ads.

Now I’ll admit that a couple of the ads were quite good, especially the Vaseline ad that spoofed a horror flick and actually drew applause. But theater owners complain about box office receipts being down, though if they actually had to sit through their own non-stop commercials they might understand why.

Every once in a while there was actually a MasterCard ad that proclaimed "Seeing a movie before it comes out on DVD: Priceless." Let’s think about that though. I had to line up for tickets – $20 for two of us. I had to line up to get into the theater. We had dinner first, but otherwise we would have had the pleasure of paying upwards of $20 for soda and popcorn for two. And then we sat through an hour of ads and previews in moderately comfortable seats until the movie actually started.

Or I could wait a couple of months, rent the DVD for $5, and sit in my very comfortable chair with my home theater, eating my food and having a nice glass of wine. I could pause the movie when I wanted to, adjust the room temperature of necessary, and generally be much more comfortable.That’s priceless.

And really, what movie has Hollywood produced lately that you just couldn’t wait a couple of months to see?

Okay, besides Pirates of the Caribbean. But that’s about it.

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Logjam.

For the past few days NetNewsWire, my RSS reader of choice, hasn’t been returning many new posts at all. Until this morning that is, when it seemed that the logjam broke and it found thousands of posts.

So how exactly do RSS feeds get stuck on the internet?

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The first hit is free, but now…

As of January 1, the free phone service has been providing will cost $30 annually:

Skype, the Internet calling service owned by eBay, said Tuesday that as of Jan. 1 it would begin charging $30 a year for unlimited calls to landline and mobile phones within the United States and Canada. Those calls had been free since last spring.

The new annual fee for unlimited calling, while still nominal compared with other Internet calling plans, is part of a broader strategy by eBay to expand Skype’s product offerings and revenue.

Now that you’re hooked on the free service, are you willing to pony up the cash? Since I use SkypeOut before it was free, I probably will. I would expect that any SkypeOut credit still remaining could be applied to that cost.

Or is this a good time to evaluate other services that are coming along?

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Name your own salary.

Members of the Ontario, Canada provincial government plan on voting themselves a 25% raise:

It’s the first significant hike, apart from modest cost-of-living increases, since former Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris increased basic pay to $78,007 from $56,378 in 1996. At the same time the Harris government eliminated a $14,160 tax-free allowance and wound down the MPPs’ lucrative pension plan.

Basic pay for MPPs stayed at $78,007 until April 2002, when it was increased to $82,757. Increases since then, including one of almost $2,000 in April this year, brought the basic wage to $88,771.

The Legislature had planned to rise for the winter break on Thursday but instead the session will be extended into next week to pass the pay raise.

Oddly, I don’t recall any candidates running on a "increase our salaries" platform. They knew what the salary was when they campaigned, but apparently they are now underpaid compared to other politicians. Pity the poor taxpayer who, unable to increase their own salaries, still get to pay for raises for these folks.

And they’re even considerate enough to extend the session to ensure that the raise happens, a Christmas present for themselves.

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