Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trebor available on Kindle Matchbook

Kindle MatchBook

Good news! Kindle Matchbook is available now for Trebor's Time Machine. Buy the paperback edition and get the ebook edition for 99 cents. And we're backwards compatible, too. You get the same deal even if you've already purchased the paperback. Just trot back off to Amazon and have a look.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How the iPhone and Android can save the Wii U


 It's no secret that the Wii U has not taken the world by storm. It's suffered from game designer ambivalence, lack of first-rate games, and a general lack of consumer awareness from the get-go. Designers don't want to build for it, because no one has bought it. The games at launch were strong, but few. And then we had nothing for the longest time. Games were tweaked and then re-tweaked while we waited. We're only just now starting to see the fruits of our patience -- Wii Fit U, Zelda, Pikmin, Mario Kart have shipped or will ship soon. But what does that matter if the world doesn't know what a Wii U is?

I bought my Wii U a month after launch. I follow the blogs and knew what I was getting. Folks I talk to aren't as tuned in. They think the Wii U's Gamepad is just a peripheral for the Wii. It's not. It's what sets the Wii U apart from current AND next generation gaming. And maybe not for the reason you might think. Sure, it makes some games more complex -- you often view maps or player info on the second screen while moving through games with your Wiimote. But it's real genius is in how it's used as an off-TV component. Playing Super Mario Bros. Wii U and your dad comes in to take over the TV? Fine. Finish the game on the Gamepad. The same goes for nearly any game. And it works on Netflix and Hulu Plus too. A key press moves the movie or tv show from the big screen to the Gamepad. In fact, my kids often take the game pad into the adjacent room and watch movies there. It's genius. So how do we people to buy more of these things? I have an idea.

First, let's acknowledge that games on the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices have come a long way. The screens are vivid, the games are cheap, and the devices are more than powerful enough to drive them. So what if we used that set of strengths to promote Wii U games?

Picture this: Mario Kart comes out early 2014. We'd like to show the world how awesome it is -- but it can only be played on a Wii U. Most Best Buy stores don't have working Wii Us, so they try-before-you-buy route doesn't work here. Or does it? What if Nintendo put together demo versions of their games for Apple and Android devices? A few levels or tracks or missions  -- and they'd give them away. Tell me a demo of Super Mario Bros. for the iPhone wouldn't shoot to the top of the charts?

Yes, I hear you. You don't get the feel of the Gamepad -- you don't feel its benefits -- when playing games on these other devices. No, you can't. But within these games you can add targeted advertisements that show the Wii U in action, that demonstrate why it's worth the $299. You'd increase your exposure exponentially. And I'm confident that this exposure will lead to a dramatic surge in sales.

What do you think?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Trebor now on Google Play

For those looking for another way to get the book, we added Google Play to the mix this afternoon. Trebor's Time Machine is now available in eBook editions on the Kindle (and its various reader apps), Nook (and readers), Kobo (ditto), and now through Google Play. Of course, the paperback is available through Amazon.

For those not aware, Google offers magazines, games, music, and also books through their Amazon Play store. To read books purchased through Play, add the free Play Books reader.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trebor's Time Machine on Sale!

Happy first week of school! To celebrate, the eBook edition of Trebor's Time Machine is $1.99 through Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. Find the associated links below. Happy reading!




Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Trebor's Time Machine on the Nook!

Trebor's Time Machine is now available at Barnes and Noble. If you prefer the Nook over the Kindle, you're all set. Trebor on the Nook.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

HTC One is the best Android phone on the market

Product Details 
If you're looking for the best Android phone on the market (or best phone period?), look no further than the HTC One. I've owned mine for two months now and I'm consistently wowed by battery life, speed, and the incredible build quality. The Boy Genius Report agrees. Read on for their comparison of the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another free Trebor day!

Yep, we're doing it again. To celebrate my birthday, Trebor's Time Machine is free today and tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First impression Google's Chromecast

I broke down and bought the Chromecast from Google about 2 hours after it was announced. I blame it on simple math, in case my wife is reading this. The $35 unit was only $11 after taking into account the included three free months of Netflix (which is no longer offered, by the way). As an early adopter, $11 is an easy sell, even though I certainly did not need another Netflix box. But is Chromcast more than that? Maybe. I bought it on the hunch that it would become the next "it" TV box. We'll see.

So, the tiny do-dad came in yesterday. My TV doesn't have a USB, so I had to attach a power strip to the back of the wall-mounted LCD. Not a show-stopper, but I'll make sure my replacement TV has a powered USB next time (you can't use the service USB that comes with some TVs). I attached it quickly and brought up my computer to connect it to the world. And that's where things broke down.

Maybe the three different wireless networks in my house is a bit overkill. But I've yet to find a way to get an adequate signal throughout the house without some wi-fi trickery. And I'm guessing that's what was at the root of my issue. After a few rounds of making sure my laptop was on the same network as what I could only guess the Chromecast was on, it finally connected. YES! The next few steps were simple: I added the Chrome plug-in on my laptop and the Chromecast app to my Android phone. From there, everything went as advertised. So how is it? In a word, pretty cool. Or, I guess, maybe in two words.

I started with YouTube.  I found a video in my playlist and hit the Cast button and VOILA! the video began to stream on my TV. One thing to remember is that the video is getting pulled from the cloud and not from my phone, which is important. I messed around for a few minutes with Netflix, which seemed a stable enough-- though not as easy as choosing movies from the Wii U's Touchpad. I also streamed a few 70's hits from Google's Music app, which sent my wife (a well-known 70's hater) into a small tizzy. But it worked.

And now I have another Netflix box. Just don't tell my wife.

Find the Chromecast HERE.

Another free day around the corner?

Details coming soon...

Friday, July 12, 2013

What a free day it was

Thanks to everyone for downloading Trebor on his free day. There were 320 of you from 5 countries! What a day!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trebor's Time Machine -- Free!

Trebor's Time Machine will be free until midnight PST tonight. If you haven't already downloaded it, now's the time to do it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Catching up on movies -- Monster's, Lone Ranger, and Zombies

Monster's and Rangers and Zombies...

It's been a very busy week here in the Clack house. The spousal and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by going out to see World War Z. Okay, it's not the movie I'd choose for a first date, but it's appropriate for a 521st date. Anyway, I never found the 20 minutes it takes to write a two-minute movie review...and then I went and saw a few more movies to add to the pile. So instead of trying to write three after-the-fact two-minute reviews, I'm going to write three one-minute reviews! Lucky day.

World War Z
Despite the issues this one had in going from book to screen -- including a massive rewrite and reshoot of the entire last 1/3 of the film -- this is a very good film. The zombies are not your typical straight-armed, shuffling mob in this one. They're quick. And that makes the chase scenes snap with immediacy.
If you haven't seen the film yet, pay attention to the scene were Brad Pitt's Gerry Lane boards a flight our of Israel. That's the point where the writers went back to work to create something completely different. Check out Movie.com for a run down on how the flick originally ended.
The acting is top-notch, the effects are brilliant, the story is...engaging.
World War Z is rated PG13.

Monster's University
I remember wanting a Toy Story sequel immediately after leaving the theater. Another Cars seemed like a good idea too. But I never thought of Monster's Inc. as the type of movie that would spawn a sequel. And I was right; it spawned a prequel. And we should all be glad it did.
Monster's University is witty, funny, and almost as charming as it's predecessor. The story of how Mike and Sullivan became partners--and best friends--can't match Monster's Inc.'s sweetness, but it's plenty good to remind us that Pixar is still the king of the hill.
Monster's University is rated G.

The Lone Ranger
Wow. What do you say about a movie that's nearly good most of the time, pretty lame some of the time, and just awful on occasion? You call it a missed opportunity. The script runs like it was written by writers on their lunch breaks. Admittedly, the last 1/3 is better than the first, but you get the feeling these guys didn't have a good plan to start with.
The Lone Ranger is a movie I'm graciously giving a 5 of 10 to. I liked Johnny Depp's Tanto, though he is more conservative in this than you'll think he would be, but Armie Hammer's Lone Ranger is squeamish and timid in ways I never pictured the Lone Ranger being. For that reason I was never able to fully trust that he knew what was going on or how to save the day. And about those meat-eating rabbits...maybe someone can explain that to me.
The Lone Ranger is rated PG13

Friday, June 21, 2013

Man of Steel - A Two-Minute Movie Review

Man of Steel is a lazy, often brilliant, too often rudderless, over-CGI’d letdown.  The man of steel deserves better than this. We can all hope its inevitable sequels are given a more loving touch. Under Zach Snyder, Superman is too far removed from the hero we’ve come to know and love.
Yes, there are many things to love about Man of Steel. The background story is developed better than in any of the previous films. Henry Cavill seems born to play the lead role, adding his unique take to the renowned character, whereas Brandon Routh from Superman Returns proved to be simply a Christopher Reeve lookalike.  I also liked Krypton’s depiction, this time fully realized as a planet in peril, both from inside and within its leadership. But the problems with Man of Steel far outweigh its positives.

First, the fight scenes are too reminiscent of the unnatural, blurring scenes from the first series of Spiderman movies. In comparison, I never sensed while watching Christopher Nolan’s Batman films that the action pieces were nothing more than a collection of ones and zeros. In Man of Steel, I too often saw Superman and General Zod as CGI warriors instead of flesh-and-blood combatants. Was Snyder simply attempting to showcase their speed and strength? Maybe so. And it didn’t work. Second, the characters in this film make ignorant decisions. I can’t elaborate without spoiling things, but pay attention to the climactic battle and ask yourself why Superman flies off to take care of things in a barren wasteland while Lois Lane and co. are left to hold down the fort in Metropolis (while hundreds of citizens are put in harm’s way).

Man of Steel is nothing short of a letdown. I’ll leave it at that and hope for better sequels.


They seem to do the best with what their given. Cavill’s superman is fully developed and believable.  I’d like to have seen more from Lawrence Fishburne’s Perry White, but he played the previously spastic and over-the-top newspaper man close to the vest.


A mixed bag. I sense they could have used a few more meetings.

Special effects


Man of Steel is rated PG13.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Now You See Me - A Two-Minute Movie Review

Now You See Me is an engaging film about a group of magicians, The Four Horsemen, as they’re called, who perform high-concept, impossibly complex, elaborately staged illusions where the audiences walk out with more than they walked in with.  They are Robin Hoods who always seem two steps in front of the cops and their rich targets. The film’s greatest illusion? Making us believe it’s a better film than it is. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Now You See Me. I don’t require all my Ts crossed to like a film. And that’s good, because this one leaves all but the magic and a few shallow details on the cutting room floor.

The Four Horsemen are brought together by a mysterious stranger, but they all seem to have crossed paths at one time or another. The fast-talking J. Daniel Atlas, played by Jesse Eisenberg, has had a fling of sorts with Isla Fisher’s Henley Reeves. Why we’re told that is a mystery, because it doesn’t add anything to the story or even spawn the ex-couple snippiness or flirtations you’d expect. The mentalist, Woody Harrelson’s Merritt McKinney, is the oldest of the four and has issues with Atlas’ need for control. The fourth, Dave Franco’s Jack Wilder, is a small-time street swindler and self-proclaimed Atlas fan. One of Now You See Me’s issues is that it never moves past surface level. The various frictions that occur within the team are introduced and promptly forgotten. They are puppets being pulled by strings, it seems. But when they’re on stage, The Four Horsemen are engaging and entertaining. And it's there when the film is at its best.

Despite not bothering to spend a nanosecond on character development, Now You See Me is a fun enough film. Suspend belief for a moment and you might just think it’s better than it is.


Solid throughout, but there’s a good deal of actor-for-hire work going on here.


A 50/50 deal. Shallow, but workable.

Now You See Me is rated PG-13.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

After Earth - A Two-Minute Movie Review

M. Night Shyamalan has not had a good couple of years. In fact, it can be said that his last good movie was 2004’s The Village. The director and writer who brought us The Sixth Sense and Signs also left us with The Last Airbender and The Happening. Would he make amends with his latest effort, After Earth? I’m going to take the minority opinion (according to Rotten Tomatoes) and recommend After Earth, with a caveat or two.

Will Smith is Cypher Raige, a celebrated war hero known for his ability to “ghost,” which, in essence, is the ability to control his fear. The monsters used by an alien species to fight the humans are sightless, but have an ability to track their prey based on the pheromones secreted while frightened. His son Kitai, played by his real-life son Jaden Smith, suffers from the guilt of witnessing his sister’s death at the hands of one of these beasts and not doing anything about it. The elder Raige sees his son as weak and incapable. When the two crash land on a long-abandoned Earth, the badly injured father has no choice but to send the son to recover the ship’s homing beacon. The resulting hour and a half is spent watching Kitai battle the elements, strange creatures, and of course, the beast that haunts his dreams.

After Earth is not typical M. Night Shyamalan fare. There’s no surprise ending or mystery to unravel.  It’s a simple science fiction film suitable for anyone not interested in complication. Other than the father/son struggle, there are no other story lines to cloud issues. After Earth plays out like a video game, where the hero passes various hurdles before eventually facing the boss to win the game. This makes it ideal for younger audiences, but older viewers may be put off by this simplistic approach. I should also note that the movie plays out for most of its duration with the father and son separated, with one in search of the beacon and the other slowly giving in to his injuries at the ship.



The jury is still out on Jaden Smith's ability to carry a film. He's at time engaging and other other times flat. The elder Smith is convincing as the strict, emotionless father.



This is a difficult one. I don't think much could have gone into writing this one, but I do give props to some of the original concepts introduced, like breathing treatments (almost like asthma inhalers)  that make dealing with Earth's diminished atmosphere bearable.


Special Effects

Some reviewers have taken issue with how the various creatures are depicted -- hogs, an eagle-looking bird, a pack of monkeys -- but I thought they looked fine. And the scenes in space were real enough.

After Earth is, at its heart, a teenage coming-of-age story. If that’s your thing, you won’t be disappointed by M. Night's latest. If you’d like to see more Will Smith and less Jaden Smith, check out Independence Day instead.

After Earth is rated PG-13.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Epic - A Two-Minute Movie Review

Lawrence of Arabia is widely considered a movie of epic proportions. Schindler’s List is clearly epic.  Spartacus and The Ten Commandments are both epic films. These movies are long productions with sweeping stories that needle at you for days. Epic, the movie by Twentieth Century Fox Animations and Blue Sky Studios,  is not epic. But it’s not bad.

As I walked into the movie theater to see Epic, I was reminded of the hundreds of Super Buffets I’ve run across over the years that I wouldn’t step someone else's foot into on a dare.  Labeling oneself as “super” or “the greatest” or “epic” is a poor-man’s Jedi mind trick. Say it loud enough or in a pretty enough font and someone might actually believe Epic is, indeed, epic – even if it does only run 102 minutes long. But Jedi mind tricks don’t work on the weak minded, so I sat down in my seat ready for a disaster…that didn’t come.

Epic is the story of our first interactions with a world of human-like creatures that live among us in the woods. They ride humming birds and mingle with slugs and snails. The queen among them, played by Beyonce Knowles, is a tiny Mother Nature figure who holds the key to keeping the green grasses green and the trees leafy. Her death threatens nature’s balance. But the queen is not without a last trick: she summons a human, Amanda Seyfried’s Mary Katherine, to join with the young and rebellious Nod, voiced by Josh Hutcherson, to make sure a proper heir is found before everything turns to dust.

Epic feels like an animated movie that either ran out of budget or time – or both.  The ending comes quickly and seems too tidy; only a few characters are properly fleshed out.  While occasionally witty (Aziz Ansari’s Mub steals the show), Epic is nothing more and nothing less than animated retread. It follows a tried and true and vanilla path, despite its lofty name.  And like your typical Super Buffet, seconds are not recommended.

Epic is rated PG.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trebor's Time Machine -- Now Available!

That's right, Trebor's Time Machine is now available in both eBook and paperback editions. It's been a long time coming, but everything is officially up and running. For now, we're going to concentrate our eBook efforts on the Kindle platform before turning to iBooks and Nook. You don't have to own a Kindle; there are Kindle readers (software programs) for all the major platforms, so I don't expect this to be an issue. The ETA at this point is to have the other platforms up by the Fall.

As I mentioned, I released both the paperback and the eBook editions at the same time. Why not just ride the eBook wave and forgo the paper edition altogether? Simply put, I like the paper version better. As most of you know, eBook formatting is still very basic. There isn't much support for images and advanced formatting at this point. Or maybe I should say that the various readers and software programs all handle images and advanced formatting differently. A vanilla conversion is still the safest way to go. So the eBook edition should produce a similar experience on all the readers and devices--no graphics or advanced formatting. We don't have those issues on the paperback side.

For the paperback, we've got drop-caps, graphics on the chapter start pages, associated "elevator" graphics on the title pages...the whole nine yards, so to speak. I'm very happy with the results. I think you will be too.

So, that's about it. Now on to Trebor II!

Trebor's Time Machine: eBook edition
Trebor's Time Machine: Paperback edition

Friday, May 24, 2013

Iron Man 3 - A Two-Minute Movie Review

Iron Man 3 is the best Iron Man to date. While some may have a soft spot for the first edition's origin story, those who prefer action in their movie-going diet will eat this one up. Is it the best Marvel movie? No, not at all. I still prefer The Avengers and Captain America. And it's not without its flaws.

The film's villain (at least on face value) is Ben Kingsley's wonderfully played The Mandarin. As is often the case in movies of this ilk, there always seems to be another evil-doer in the background, in this case Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian. And this is where Iron Man 3 shows its real weakness. While The Mandarin's motivation is clearly defined, Killian's is alluded to, but never brought fully into the light. Is it just me, or do comic book bad guys get their feelings hurt way too easily? And when they do, they tend to create the most elaborate schemes to show the world they aren’t to be trifled with. A good comparison is Javier Bardem’s Silva from the latest Bond film, Skyfall.


Kingsley steals the show, but most of the other performances are solid. Gweyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is a strong-willed, reluctant hero. Robert Downey Jr. is a more emotional, troubled Tony Stark that comes across as genuine and not forced. Don Cheadle’s Colonel James Rhodes, while not asked to do much, is again spot-on as Stark’s right hand man. A special nod should also go out to the young Ty Simpkins for his Harley Keener.  Child actors are often miscast (think Star Wars: Episode 1) or their asked to do more than they should. Simpkins’ Keener is a welcome addition to the story, neither annoying nor “forced.”


Aside from the villain motivation issues we discussed above, the screenplay does what it’s asked to do. You won’t leave the theater replaying the storyline in your head, like you would the first Mission Impossible, but that might not be a bad thing.

Special Effects:

Not to the par of Star Trek Into Darkness, but above and beyond most titles in this genre.


Iron Man 3 is a good way to spend 130 minutes of your day. Don’t ask the villains to explain themselves and you’ll find the film one of Marvel’s best.

Iron Man 3 is rated PG-13.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness - A Two-Minute Movie Review

The crew is back in the second installment of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot. Star Trek Into Darkness is an action-packed tour de force that bests its predecessor while upping the ante on our expectations for Abrams' Star Wars VII. Without the hassles of origin story necessities weighing it down, Into Darkness is free to start with a sprint, which it does,literally. It stops only to catch its breath occasionally when the plot demands something other than lasers, photon torpedoes and phasers set to stun. It's a thrill-a-minute popcorn movie that all other popcorn movies should strive to be. It's what most of the Transformers movies should have been, and weren't. But it's more than that; Into Darkness is often funny and occasionally teary, the former more than the latter. It's also pure Star Trek. Okay, there are probably Trekkies who may find faults, particularly in the way it revisits decades-old story lines, but Trek-lovers should be more than satisfied with Abrams' work. 


Even after the second movie, I'm still amazed at how well-casted these films are. Simon Pegg's Scotty is dead-on, as is scene-stealing Karl Urban as Bones. But Zachary Quinto, as the stoic Spock, is the real shiner here. His Spock is as logical as he is ripe with pent-up emotion (being 1/2 human 1/2 Vulcan). His scenes with Chris Pine's Kirk are crisp and true to the original duo. As *** (Abrams chose not to name the enemy prior to releasing the film, so I won't name him either) Benedict Cumberbatch is cold, concrete-strong, and a worthy adversary. In all, the acting throughout is top-notch. 


Not nearly as confusing as the first Star Trek, but complex enough to feel satisfied that we aren't just being fed special effects, Into Darkness is clever and well-crafted. The movie has just the right mix of humor (per Star Trek regulations, it seems) and action, never taking itself too seriously. After all, we don't expect the main characters to die. This isn't LOST


Awesome. Nothing looks obviously green-screened or fake. The space sequences are seamless. And the new depiction of warp speed is a welcome change. 


Star Trek Into Darkness is this year's best movie. Iron Man III is good; Into Darkness is better. But see them both. If these two movies are any indication of the quality yet to come this summer, we'll all be happy campers come August. Star Trek Into Darkness is rated PG-13. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Two-Minute Movie Reviews

Introducing the Two Minute Movie Review

Some movie reviews are the size of small books. Have you ever read a review so complete that you almost feel like you've seen the movie by the time you reach the end? Do you find yourself skimming the pages searching for the only answer you care about: does the reviewer like the movie or not? I do. While I don't mind spending the time on an Ebert review after I've seen a movie, I'm too paranoid of ruining my experience at the movies to do anything more than a stick my toes in. With people like me in mind, I'm introducing my two-minute movie reviews.

These won't be long and they won't give up key plot points. I'll what I can in the short time I'm given to let you know if I like the movie and why. I'll use a 10-point scale like the one you see below. Why? Because thumbs up or down seems too limiting. And a five point scale leaves no room for average; the movie can only be below average or above average. In truth, there are too many movies out there where I come away neither better nor worse (if entertainment can, indeed, add something tangible to your existence).

I'll usually rate movies on a few different levels: acting, script, special effects, things like that. Don't look for me to see too many romance films or cryfests. If something crashes, flies through space, gets shot by lasers, runs amok in streets, or blows up national monuments, I'm probably there opening night. Expect a review shortly after.

Coming soon: Iron Man 3 and Star Trek into Darkness soon.

Second proof

The first proof looked good...but not good enough. Once printed, I found that the fonts in the front dominated the elevator graphic. I also revamped the back to make it flow better. Inside I found that I dated the author's note 2012...a year too early. And in furthering the date errors, I discovered a misdated chapter. I'm not sure how, but I missed the date by 6 months. This far into production and I didn't catch it until now. Sheesh.
The new proof will be in tomorrow. If all is well, it'll be available on Amazon within days.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Files sent!

I just sent the book to the publisher. With any luck I'll get the proof back in a week or two. If we're all good at that point, I'll hut the GO button. That's the print book, which I wanted to set out in the wild first. Plan on something in the range if $14. The eBook will be much cheaper, but you'll lose some of the print-only formatting. In either case, you'll get the same Trebor  story. That's all for now.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

New website

Want a preview of the new website? Head on over to: TreborsTimeMachine.com

Some if the links aren't active yet, but they will be soon!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We're getting close!

We're getting close! The new book cover is nearly complete. We're about to transfer the book in InDesign for layout.

The new book cover is nearly complete. We're about to transfer the book in InDesign for layout.

Friday, January 18, 2013

There's a Story in there Somewhere


I'm finishing the outlines for books two and three. I use Post-Its to play around with structure. I'll start writing in February. Stay tuned for more.