I'm a born-and-bred Midwesterner who's lived in five states. I'm passionate about Film, Television, Media, Computers and Technology.
If you are in the market for a smart phone but considering a tablet, How do you choose? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Upfront I’m going to tell you - I have both, an Android (Galaxy III) Smart Phone, and a Nexus 7 tablet (that’s also Android OS). Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage of a smart phone is portability. Even a largish one (my Galaxy III is 5 1/2 inches by 3 inches) is easy to carry in a purse, pocket, or cell phone purse or holster. They don’t feel heavy or bulky to carry every day, all the time. The biggest disadvantage of smart phones is cost - not simply the initial cost, but the monthly service plan can be a bit steep.
The biggest advantage of a tablet - the large clear screen - is also it’s disadvantage - tablets are heavy and bulky. I find it nearly impossible to carry mine everywhere. Though the fact that I have a smart phone that duplicates most of the apps on the tablet means I don’t need to carry the tablet daily. And it’s still small and light enough to take with you when travelling. Tablets are much smaller than laptops. Another big advantage of tablets is price — tablets are much, much cheaper than smart phones, and since most only have a wireless connection, there is no pricey monthly contract. Pay your $150 - $300 and you are done.
I’ve discussed choosing a smart phone, so now I will discuss choosing a tablet. For specifics on choosing a smart phone, kindly see this post:
Like smart phones, the most important choice when choosing a tablet is OS. However, the OS choices are a bit more complicated. Today’s color tablets arose out of the E-reader market, with computer and cell phone manufacturers following after. Therefore, the choices are more complex.
Kindle - by Amazon. At first simply a black-and-white e-reader only, Amazon now not only sells the “Paperwhite” for books only, but a full HD-capable “Fire” tablet. They sell two sizes, 7” and 8.9”. Amazon is also the only tablet company to support textbooks (that I know of), so if you are buying a tablet for a high school or college student, check with your student’s school, but Kindle may be your only choice. Amazon uses it’s own proprietary format for e-books. However, their store is huge and also includes rentals.
Nook - by Barnes and Noble. Running a close second to Amazon, Barnes and Noble has also been in the e-reader business for a long time, starting with black and white e-readers only. The newest Nooks are color, with HD screens and Wi-Fi. The Nook also comes in 7 and 9 inch sizes. Barnes and Noble uses the EPUB format for books, however it includes proprietary DRM. Still, if you primarily want to read books, and download free ones from publishers or websites like Project Gutenberg, the Nook supports the common EPUB format, while Kindle does not.
The new Kindle and Nook tablets have some support for apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail — but they do not have access to all Android applications.
Ipad by Apple was the first tablet by a computer maker. The larger iPad has a nearly 10” display, while the iPad mini has a 7” display. The apps for IPad came from the iTunes store and everything is Apple Proprietary formats. Also, as with everything from Apple - Ipads are much more expensive than other tablets.
Google, as they do for smart phones, allows several companies to make Android OS-compatible tablets. Therefore, specs change based on the specific tablet. Samsung, for example makes both 10” and 7” Android tablets. I have a Google Nexus 7 (7” inch) Android tablet, and I’m very happy with it. I did, in fact, about a year after buying one for myself - bought my mother one for Christmas to replace the black and white Nook I’d bought her a few years ago. She uses it constantly.
Microsoft’s Windows surface is brand new to the tablet market. To me it seems more like a thin laptop with a detachable keyboard, and a touch screen, rather than a true tablet. Surface also uses the Windows 8 operating system. I know very little about it - sorry.
Specifics for Tablets
First - consider how will you use it? Do you primarily want a e-reader? Will you play games? Watch TV shows and movies? Use it as a portable computer? Give some serious thought as to why you want a tablet.
For me, personally - I wanted an e-reader upgrade and a portable social networking tool. The idea of blogging anywhere, appeals to me. My previous e-reader was a Sony black and white reader. I choose to go with Android - and then after looking at Samsung tablets at Best Buy I got the Nexus from Staples. That was purely based on price and my deciding I wanted a 7 inch not a 9 or 10 inch tablet. I went with Nexus because it is a full Android OS, which means I could download any app from the “Google Play” store I wanted, and any Android App from websites I frequent or other sources. Because I went with Google - I was able to download the Kindle App, the Nook app, the Sony app, and it came with Google Books - all for reading e-books. I also, after a few false starts found a great general EPUB reader for non-DRM locked e-books, called Aldiko. Aldiko also supports reading Adobe .pdfs and allows you to create “collections” (categories) of books, though they must be created in the app. And I have Adobe Reader too.
The second category of apps I have are social networking and blogging apps - I have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Blogger, Live-Journal (third party app), Linked-IN, Google Plus, Flipboard, and GoodReads. I do like blogging and using Social Network platforms.
The third category of apps I have I loosely call, “utilities” - but that covers a wide range of really useful things. I will list below with brief comments. I’ll try to keep this alphabetical.
Calculator - Basic one that came with the Nexus.
Cool Tip Calculator - Figures out tips.
Color Note - Post-It and List app
Evernote - Awesome sync note-taking app. I have it on my phone, tablet, and the PC version (which is FREE if you download the free app first. If you buy the PC version first - you have to pay for it). I’m not a fan of daily To Do lists - but I do like making lists and notes of things to organize my life. With Evernote - I can make a note wherever I want, on any device, and it syncs them automatically. It’s also handy, tho’ limited, for keeping track of appointments.
Comixology/DC Comics - e-comic readers.
Dictionary - Exactly what it sounds like, this one is from Dictionary.Com and works both on and off line.
Fandango - Although you can use it to buy movie tickets, I primarily use it to get the times for showings at my local theaters - and to find theaters when travelling.
IMDB - The Internet Movie Database app. I have a movie review blog and a keen interest in film. I’m on the IMDB website constantly at home. The app, slims down the site into a mobile-friendly version.
Kingsoft Office - a free app that’s AWESOME - you can import, read, and edit Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and read only .pdf documents using it. Totally awesome, and free (and no ads). Don’t pay lots of money for a mobile version of Microsoft Office - get this. Kingsoft office also does an excellent job of interpreting the directory structure of the Nexus - I never have trouble finding files I’ve dropped into my Nexus folders using the USB direct method OR documents I’ve uploaded via “the cloud” using Google Drive.
NOAA Weather Free - Full weather stats (temp, humidity, wind speed, wind chill, dew point, etc) and weather warnings. Everything is direct from NOAA.
One Note - Microsoft’s notebook software. I bought it because I use One Note on my PC, then discovered I had to use Microsoft Sky Drive to upload files. Side loading not allowed. When, I later discovered Evernote, I found it to be much better.
World Clock (app and widget) - to be honest, I’m still looking for a good one of these, the two I have are clunky. I want I nice, programmable world clock where I can choose 4-5 cities, and even have digital time strips on my home page. Is that so hard? Still the app I have works, it’s just annoying to have to open it to get the time.
Nexus being directly from Google - I have various the Google apps, some of which I use and some I don’t. I also have some games on my tablet, which I use - though I do tend to get bored eventually.
The thing is with tablets - you can personalize to your hearts content. Love music? I’m sure there are plenty of music apps. Into art, drawing and photo manip? I’m sure there are apps for those too.
Once you purchase a tablet, reading a few “best app” columns in magazines, websites, or blogs can point you towards new things.
Accessories for your tablet
1. Bluetooth keyboard. — If you plan to do a lot of typing, such as writing a blog or even heavy social networking, an external keyboard is a must.
2. Stylus - makes tapping the on-screen keyboard easier and more precise, especially if you have arthritis.
3. Case(s) - A slip-on case to protect the tablet and screen, and/or a carrying case that not only holds the tablet but all your accessories is important.
In the end, I found I like having both a smart phone and a tablet. The phone is portable and has a 3G/4G connection that always works. The tablet has a large screen, is a great reader, and works as a portable mini-computer (tho’ it needs Wi-Fi to be useful).@1 week ago
Step 1 – Choose your Operating System (OS).
The OS is the most important decision you need to make when buying a smartphone. Just like the OS for a PC (Windows, Mac, or Linux) – the OS for a cell phone determines what you can do with the phone. The OS determines what programs (called “apps” short for applications) you can buy or download for free. And it’s the OS that determines what models of phone you can actually buy. Also, even when you decide to replace an old phone, your initial choice of OS is important, because chances are you will want to stay with that OS, even though the model of phone you buy might change.
The four cell phone OS’s are:
Android and iPhone are considered primarily consumer phones, while Blackberry and Windows Phone are aimed at “business people”. However, you can buy whatever system you want.
I personally have an Android phone, and I would recommend it. There are thousands, perhaps millions, of apps available for Android, and the vast majority of them are free. From what I understand, iPhone apps are only available from the iTunes Store, suggesting that you have to pay for them. And most popular apps (such as Facebook and Twitter) come in both Android and iPhone versions. Also, as far as I know, all smartphones, regardless of OS can be integrated with your PC. An iPhone syncs with iTunes. My Android, plugges in to my computer’s USB port and I can drag and drop files (music, pictures, e-books, etc) in either direction.
Step 2 – Choose your provider
The second major choice you have when purchasing a smartphone is provider. You want to go with a national provider – this will allow you to use your phone anywhere in the US and to call any number while staying within your plan. It used to be that cell phones were tied to a particular provider (if you wanted an iPhone, you were stuck with ATT for example). Now, however, most major providers carry a wide variety of Android, iPhone phones and other phones such as the newer Windows Phone or various Blackberry models.
The best thing to do is to research providers on-line. Don’t be swayed by the pretty pictures of new cell phones – remember, whoever you choose you can probably get the same or similar models of phones.
Do consider actual service (the ability to use your phone) when choosing a provider. If you live in a major metropolitan area and plan to only use your phone in major cities - any provider will do. However, if you live in a rural area, travel a lot, or own vacation property, be sure to run some tests. Find out what providers your friends and family have and what they do and do not like about their service.
When you do go in to purchase your phone and sign your service plan contract, find out what the return policy is - you should be able to return the phone and cut your contract within 30 days without any financial penalty. If you live in a rural area - ask about coverage.
Step 3 – Choose your Plan - Items to Consider
When comparing providers, compare plans carefully, and be wary of hidden charges. Read the fine print.
Smart phones tend to have a hefty monthly bill attached. Be sure you understand one time fees (purchase of the phone, perhaps an initial sign-up fee), and monthly reoccurring charges. Ask about additional data charges. Ask about text message charges. Make sure you know what is, and is not, covered. Most US national plans, are just that - US plans, if you travel internationally (even to Canada or Mexico) you may need to purchase an international plan, or additional coverage. Check on the cost.
That said, there are some “pay as you go” smart phones. And there are some bargain and lower-rate carriers. Be sure you known what you are and are not getting.
Overall, smart phones are fun, and useful. I’m on my second. My first was a Palm Pre, and my current is a Samsung Galaxy 3 Android phone. Once you discover the convenience of having the Internet in your pocket, you won’t go back.@3 weeks ago with 1 note
@1 month ago with 147 notes
John does the incredibly wonderful comic Dork Tower, and this week he’s been doing a Tabletop…
This blog entry was originally published on my Live Journal on 2/14/2009.
Character and machines information sheet — Thunderbirds
Thunderbirds (ATV, British Independent TV, made for export) Export production co. ITC
Season 1 1964 (eps. 1-26) Color.
Season 2 1966 (eps. 27-32) Color
Arguably, Gerry Anderson’s most popular “Supermarionation” program.
The set up: After the death of his wife (we are given no information whatsoever about this — when she died, how, etc, is not spelled out, viewers don’t even know her name) American millionaire Jeff Tracy is left to raise his five sons alone. Well, with some help from his own mother. Jeff Tracy soon tires of running multi-national Tracy Enterprises and decides to gather his grown sons together. He buys an island, hires an engineer, and begins building the fantastic Thunderbird machines (yep, Anderson stole the name from an American air force base where his brother served). He then gets his boys to leave their careers and join him in founding International Rescue - a group dedicated to rescuing and helping people anywhere in the world who are beyond the abilities of normal rescue services to aid. The series starts with the five Thunderbirds up and running and the five boys experienced at piloting them. All five of Jeff’s boys are named after US astronauts and early space program people.
Characters - The Tracy Family
Jeff Tracy - Patriarch of the Tracy family. Multi-millionaire founder and CEO of Tracy Enterprises, though he leaves day-to-day operations to his trusted advisors. Head of International Rescue. Jeff had also been an astronaut in his past and walked on the moon.
Scott Tracy - eldest of the Tracy boys. Pilot of Thunderbird One (see machines). Heads co-ordination and control on most rescues. (Scott is only NOT present on a rescue if there’s a good reason for it, such as in “The Uninvited” when he’s shot down and needs to be rescued himself). Jeff is obviously grooming Scott to replace himself as head of International Rescue (or IR). Scott was a US Air Force test pilot prior to retiring to join IR. Scott is brunette with blue eyes. Scott wears the standard IR uniform with a blue sash.
Virgil Tracy - Second oldest of the Tracy boys. He and Scott are also quite close, closer than perhaps any of the other boys (Though Alan and Gordon have been known to team-up to play practical jokes on their older siblings). Virgil is the pilot of Thunderbird Two. He also has an artistic soul - painting, playing the piano, and pursuing other such interests. Virgil has auburn/golden brown hair and hazel eyes. Virgil wears the standard IR uniform with a yellow sash. Virgil also has skills in practical engineering.
John Tracy - There is some dispute about where he fits in birth order - some sources list him as eldest (older than Scott) but it makes more sense if he’s in the middle. John was an astronaut prior to joining IR, and still has an interest in astronomy. He’s the de-facto space monitor aboard Thunderbird Five, though in the series it is often stated he splits this duty with Alan. John’s blonde, with blue eyes. John’s sash is lilac.
Gordon Tracy - Fourth in birth order. Gordon’s an aquanaut, who served in the World Aquanaut Safety Patrol (from Gerry Anderson’s series Stingray) until his career was cut short by a hydrofoil accident that nearly killed him. This accident was several years before the series, but shook up the entire Tracy family. He did recover from the accident, but suffers occasional serious back pain. Gordon is the pilot of Thunderbird Four. Gordon has reddish-blond hair, and golden brown eyes. Gordon wears an orange sash on his uniform. He also has a pressure suit that he wears when piloting TB 4 in deep water. Gordon’s the practical joker of the family - something he sometimes drags Alan into. Like Scott and Virgil; Alan and Gordon are especially close - in a close-knit family.
Alan Tracy - The youngest of the Tracy brothers, but still a quite competent member of IR. Alan’s passion before joining the family business was racing cars - now he brings his passion to rescuing people. Alan also, like John and Jeff, has a background as an astronaut. He’s the pilot of Thunderbird Three, and does occasional duty onThunderbird Five. Alan’s blond, with blue eyes. His sash is white. He’s also somewhat impetuous - and his older brothers occasionally have to rein him in.
Grandma Tracy - Jeff’s mother, she aids somewhat in looking after the family - cooking, cleaning, etc. She knows all about International Rescue. (Hey, it was a 60s show, after all.)
Characters - the Tracys’ Friends and Enemies
Brains - The engineer Jeff found to design and build the Thunderbird machines. According to the bio on the DVD set, his parents “died in a hurricane in Michigan” (yeah, right, tornado or water spout maybe, but hurricane?) and he was raised in foster care and orphanages - this left him with a stutter and extremely shy. He once used the name Hiram K. Hackenbacker, though he later claims it to be a made-up alias.
Lady Penelope - Think Joanna Lumley as a secret agent, oh wait, that’s The New Avengers. Anyway, the puppet and voice for “Lady P” has always reminded me of Joanna Lumley. Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward is IR’s London Agent. She’s also a love interest for Jeff, though it’s very low key. She’s upper crust British, and can get into places the boys couldn’t to check things out and prevent disasters before they happen. Also, called “Lady PEN-oh-lope” by her butler/driver, Parker. Jeff normally calls her “Penny”.
Parker - Lady Penelope’s butler, he’s as lower cast as she is upper - but they get on like a house on fire. Parker speaks with a thick East End / Cockney accent. He also was a jewel thief, safe-cracker, and black bag man before Lady P rescued him and employed him as her butler and driver. Parker used his unique skills in the aid of Lady Penelope and by extension, IR.
Tin Tin - a girl living on Tracy Island, and daughter of Kyrano, Jeff’s Asian servant. Alan has a major thing for her, which she returns within limits. Tin Tin knows about International Rescue, but is seldom allowed on missions.
Kyrano - Quite possibly the strangest character on the series, he’s Jeff’s Malaysian servant. Jeff for some unknown reason trusts him completely. However, Kyrano has a half-brother, the Hood, who occasional takes mental control of him and tries to force him to sabotage IR. Kyrano knows about IR but has not revealed all the details he knows to the Hood.
The Hood - The enemy of IR — he simply wants their technology to use for nefarious purposes. He’s Asian, bald, and his eyes glow when he’s using his mental powers. He has the ability to control his half-brother Kyrano. He can also hypnotize and control people at close range.
Ned Cook (occasional) - A reporter who originally tries to find out and reveal to the world who the men are who make up International Rescue. However, in “Terror in New York City” (One of my absolutely favorite episodes), IR rescues him, saving his life and the life of his cameraman, after that he reports on IR’s feats but carefully avoids revealing who IR is.
Thunderbird One Grey with blue accents, she’s a super-sonic plane or jet, usually the first into the “danger zone” or rescue scene. TB 1 is a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) craft, meaning that although she lifts off from Tracy Island like a rocket, the retros allow landing and taking off in a vertical position and from tight quarters. She is much smaller than either TB 2 or 3, but probably only slightly smaller than your average passenger jet. Thunderbird One’s great speed and maneuverability are often used on rescues. It also holds “command and control” the computerized center used to run communications during rescues. Scott commands TB 1 as well as being in charge on the scene during rescues.
Thunderbird Two A huge green transport jet, with yellow piping/accents, it’s the workhorse of International Rescue’s operations. TB 2 includes a pod bay with interchangeable pods that carry specialized rescue equipment. During operations TB 2 lands and raises on its hydraulic legs, exposing the pod. Pod 4, which houses Thunderbird Four can be dropped in water. Thunderbird Two is slightly slower than Thunderbird One, but still capable of high speeds.
Thunderbird Three The big red rocket (with white piping/accents) it’s main purpose is to ferry International Rescue staff back and forth to Thunderbird Five. However, it has been used in rescues in and of itself such as in the episodes “Sunprobe” and “Ricochet”.
Thunderbird Four The tiniest Thunderbird — it’s a little mini-sub. And yes, it’s yellow, with red-orange accents/piping. Piloted by Gordon, it fits snugly into Pod 4 of Thunderbird Two, which normally carries it to the rescue area. However, in “Terror in New York City”, it is shown that there is an emergency launch from Tracy Island itself that TB 4 can use.
Thunderbird Five The Tracys’ private geostationary satellite. TB 5 monitors all radio frequencies for calls for help. The space monitor, usually John but sometimes Alan, sorts through the radio traffic (which is also coded by computer) to find the disaster to which International Rescue will respond.
The Firefly An unique craft (which fits into a pod carried by Thunderbird Two) used to fire fires, it includes a bulldozer like blade on the front, a pipe which allows spraying of accelerate for setting backfires, and a cab for the driver and rescuees.
The Mole A gigantic drilling machine.
Fab 1 - Lady Penelope’s pink Rolls Royce - it has six wheels, and has enough gadgets to make James Bond jealous. Among them — total remote control, oil slicks, fog/smoke banks, machine guns, bullet-proof glass and frame, etc.
The Tracys also have all sorts of specialized rescue equipment, besides the Thunderbirds themselves, usually each episode of the series has at least one special piece of equipment.
The Episodes — my personal favorites and key episodes
"Terror in New York City" - Begins with Scott and Virgil finishing up a rescue. Scott’s loading Command and Control back into Thunderbird One, as Virgil takes off in Thunderbird Two. Suddenly, TB1’s camera detector goes off. Scott tracks down the offending cameraman - reporter Ned Cook, looking for a scoop. Scott destroys the film, then leaves the former danger zone for Tracy Island. Meanwhile, a new Navy super air craft carrier on maneuvers detects Thunderbird 2 flying nearby and starts shooting at the Thunderbird. Two of four shots hit home before Scott (who’s caught up to Virgil by then) and Jeff convince the Navy that they are shooting at an IR craft. Scott must then talk Virgil through the flight over open ocean back to Tracy Island. Virgil crashes onto Tracy Island’s runway, but has only minor injuries. TB 2, however, is trashed and will take weeks to fix. Meanwhile, in New York City a plan to move the Empire State Building with hydraulics has gone disastrously wrong, trapping Ned Cook and his cameraman under ground in a cavern filling with water. Normally, TB 2 would take TB 4 to the site to rescue the two men (who can be reached by a network of underground rivers). However, with TB 2 out of commission IR has no way of getting there on time. Jeff then gets the idea to have the Navy help out, since they destroyed the Thunderbird in the first place. TB 4 is carried to the danger zone, and barely reaches Ned and his cameraman in time.
Why I like it: Just the scene of Scott encouraging Virgil and talking him through getting his Thunderbird home makes my h/c -loving heart flutter. (It’s a great scene, trust me). But the rescue itself, with the cavern slowing filling with water, and Gordon and Scott constantly calculating and re-calculating if they will be there on time - is also great.
"Danger at Ocean Deep" - One of the few times we ever really see John on a rescue. Giant ocean tanker transports are suddenly disappearing in the Mediterranean. Lady Penelope investigates what could be causing the disappearances. Meanwhile Scott, John, and Virgil head out to sea in Thunderbirds 1 & 2 to protect one of the tankers and find out what’s going on. Lady Penelope, with help from Brains discovers that the transports are carrying alsterine which reacts with a chemical grown in the sea for making pet food. The combination produces deadly heavy mists, and eventually the ship explodes. Scott, John, and Virgil, have discovered this the hard way, as the mists are taking over the ship they are trying to protect. They manage to get the skeleton crew off the ship and escape before it explodes.
Why I like it: It’s a good rescue, with an unusual plot (Deadly dog food?). Also, it’s really nice to see John on an actual rescue for once, instead of stuck in Thunderbird 5 co-ordinating rescues from thousands of miles away.
"Atlantic Inferno" - Lady Penelope finally convinces Jeff to take a vacation with her. Scott is left in charge of IR base. Alan gets to pilot Thunderbird 1 and take control (with help from Virgil) on site in the danger zone. This arrangement proves to be a bit of a disaster, as Scott makes mistakes (such as refusing help to one reported disaster - then having to go in when things get much worse). Meanwhile, Alan is competent at his job, but Virgil keeps trying to take over. And Jeff, spends more time worrying about his boys and how IR is doing, than relaxing on Penelope’s sheep farm. Scott initially sends out IR (Gordon, Virgil and Alan) to cap a 200 foot gas jet that’s opened on the seabed (after a World Navy missile goes astray) near Seascape - a huge oil drilling rig. Jeff admonishes Scott for it - saying it was an unnecessary rescue. Then another crack opens, with gas jets, closer to Seascape and Scott first ignores it. When it gets worse, IR has to scramble to help.
Why I like it: It’s nice to see Scott (and Virgil) as less than perfect. Alan comes more into his own, but his impetuous nature doesn’t suit command and control. And even Jeff, can’t relax because his mind is on International Rescue and his sons. Plus, it’s an “ocean” episode — something I always like.
"Move - and You’re Dead" - Alan gets an invitation to race at Parola Sands, and accepts, going back to the world of racing for the first time in years. He wins the dangerous and long race, but angers a rival who was counting on winning to settle some debts. This rival follows Alan (and Grandma Tracy who Alan’s picked-up to take back toTracy Island), and forces them off the road on to an uncompleted suspension bridge. Alan and Grandma Tracy are forced onto the bridge supports, high above a river. If that weren’t enough, a timed bomb is set below the bridge to destroy it, and a motion detector is set near Alan which will explode the bomb if he so much as twitches. And it’s getting hotter by the moment. Alan manages to raise his wrist-comm. and call IR. Scott and Virgil must race to get to their brother - before the bomb explodes, Alan or Grandma move setting off the bomb, or either falls to their death.
Why I like it: More brotherly smoochness. Also, the episode starts with Alan stuck on the bridge and calling IR, then explains how he got in the predicament in the first place as he talks to Scott explaining while Scott races to the scene in TB 1.
"Sunprobe" - Another Alan episode, though all the boys except Gordon are closely involved in the rescue. A rocket called Sunprobe launches a probe to "grab parts of the sun", which is successful, but after retracting the probe the rocket is locked on a direct course for the sun and unable to fire retro-rockets to change course. After some deliberation, Jeff decides to launch a two pronged rescue attempt. Virgil and Brains take Thunderbird Two to a mountaintop with microwave transmitter to try to contact the rocket and change it’s course. Meanwhile, Alan, Scott and Tin Tin launch in Thunderbird Three to get closer to the rocket to attempt to fire its retros with a “safety beam” (apparently the transmitter on TB 3 is short range). Thunderbird Three makes two failed attempts to save the solar nauts, before Alan has the bright idea to cut the safeties and boast the power. This works, saving the rocket and solar nauts. However, TB 3 has gotten so close to the sun, Scott, Tin Tin and Alan have all collapsed and the ship itself is trapped on a direct course for the sun. The focus shifts to rescuing TB 3 and it’s crew. Virgil and Brains, with the help of Brains mobile computer/robot “Braiman” work out some complicated equations which allow them to fire TB 3’s retros and change it’s course - rescuing Scott, Alan and Tin Tin from certain death.
Why I like it: Although at first a bit slow, it’s a episode where most of IR is involved in the rescue and it works well.
"City of Fire" - A new huge skyscraper / mall is opened, but when a car crashes in the underground parking ramp, the entire building is threatened with fire. Scott and Virgil are dispatched and try to cut through the fire doors to get to a family trapped in the basement/parking lot. However, the doors are thick and they are running out of time, forcing the boys to use an experimental cutting gas that when tested knocked them both unconscious. They rescue the family. Brains then discovers that the heat of the actual fire vaporized the gas as it escaped, preventing the build-up that had knocked out Scott and Virgil during the test.
Why I like it: The idea of a huge skyscraper fire could have been really exciting (The Towering Inferno, anyone?), however, the focus quickly changes from the entire building to a single family (something Thunderbirds does a lot). Still, the interplay between Scott and Virgil is great, especially when Scott convinces Jeff that they have no choice but to try the cutting gas. Also, the scene at the beginning with the test of the cutting gas is well done, and has a high h/c quotient.
"Cry Wolf" - Two boys in the Australian Outback are playing "International Rescue" with real walkie-talkie radios. John picks up their transmissions, and when it sounds like real trouble - sends out a rescue. Scott arrives and discovers the boys are merely playing. He explains the importance of not making prank calls. Later, another call is received from the boys father. Thinking it to be another prank, Jeff at first ignores it. However, soon their father’s boss calls, saying the boys have been really trapped in a mine. Scott is dispatched in TB 1, and Virgil and Alan in TB 2. Virgil and Alan rescue the boys, while Scott rescues their father and discovers the Hood has been behind everything. He gives chase to the Hood who has photos from orbiting spy satellites.
Why I like it: This is one of the few episodes (along with “Atlantic Inferno”) that I clearly remembered watching as a child - maybe because it involves children (and children who Scott gives a personal tour of Tracy Island to, no less). Anyway, the story works better than you might think giving it revolving around children and the old fable of crying wolf. There’s a good rescue as well.
Vocabulary and Language
F.A.B - Doesn’t actually stand for anything, but used to signify agreement. Each letter is pronounced separately, not as a single word.
Thunderbirds Are Go - Jeff’s catch phrase when sending the boys on a mission.
Danger Zone - The area where the disaster has occurred. Often used with the estimated time of arrival or actual arrival, as in “I’m 10 minutes from danger zone”, or “Have arrived danger zone”.
Note - during disasters the boys are likely to speak in a clipped tone, ignoring things like pronouns.@1 month ago with 2 notes