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The Life And Legacy Of TextMechanic

TextMechanic is dead. Long live TextMechanic.

My favorite website for text-related tools just went paywall. You can't perform more than four actions - no matter how small - per hour, as a free user.

I understand that hosting's not free, and though I finance my own sites out of my own pocket - and know many others who do the same, as this guy did before - I realize not everyone has this luxury. Or they have a better sense for business.

I'm hoping it's the lack of luxury in the case of TextMechanic, as the latter implies an array of more negative concatenations of traits, of which the first that comes to mind is: greed.

I never figured Larry for that kind of guy though (pardon if I recall the name wrong - all references thereof have since been removed from the website). In 2016 he lost his regular job, redesigned his Text Mechanic site and seemed intent on pouring all his energy into this old hobby-project instead. He started a Patreon, he added ads (not sure if this was before or after), and he posted one blog post regarding the change, and all that was to come. I started looking forward to the upgrades.

Since then nothing. No more blogs. No Patreon updates. No tiers. Suddenly it seems he wasn't so interested after all.

A few users signed up and are currently throwing in ca $28 per month, but his activity apparently seized after those initial posts, and the promised tools were never released. I sent in some feedback on the new design when it first launched, happy that the site I'd been using for the past decade or so suddenly had a public face to go with it; a name behind all those awesome tools... but never received a response. I wish I'd saved my message, because i didn't get a copy of it either, nor a confirmation via email. And since then things have only gone downhill.

I wasn't very fond of the new design in the first place - it seemed rushed and inconsistent; adhering to modern standards more than functional practice, but I think I focused on the good more than the bad in my email. This time however... I'm not hanging around. The alternatives are, fortunately for me but not so much for Larry, in surplus. Most of them are free, most of them are equally easy to use - if not easier, and better-looking, and the one I'm testing right now doesn't have as obtrusive ads either. Some, company-sponsored ones, don't even have ads.

They don't require you to log in, they don't limit your uses, and they don't cost a thing. Some don't even need you to reload the page between actions. The ones that do have pro versions seem to at least allow you a few minutes of work before forcing you to take a break.

Maybe I wouldn't have minded this drastic change if the wait time wasn't so excessive (one hour), or the four-try limit so meager (if you're not proficient with advanced reg-ex just replacing commas, periods, spaces and line breaks in one paragraph takes all those four tries at once).

It's a bit strange how loyal I've been to this one service since I first found it, and that it had to come to this for it to hit a breaking point. Even after it started changing and growing all the more complex and difficult to navigate I stuck with it, even when I knew there were other tools out there. Old habits die hard huh. Or is it ample nostalgia?

Even now that I've found better sites I wouldn't mind going back to the original, if only it went back to how it used to be. Or better yet: better. It's sad to see a good site decay and lose visitors, and purpose, and especially so when it seemed to be going towards greener pastures just moments before. I guess with time I'll get settled in to the alternatives instead.

I'm including the letter I sent to Larry this time as reference, and if it happens to fall into his spam folder maybe he'll stumble upon it here:


Yellow Haze

Yellow Haze

Messing around with Fireworks a bit. :) With that haze. Those softer shades. That smile. It's been a while.

Venom (2018) 3D

Venom (2018)

I've been praising Marvel movies a lot lately, then here came this... and now I'm not so sure. This one didn't really have that 'thing' that all Marvel movies have had so far. That optimal combination of a tense plot and comedy. It opted for horror, and comedy, and somewhere along that line it didn't really mix.

I also don't feel like we were introduced properly to Venom. He feels superficial. When he suddenly decides to switch sides I don't feel like we've gone through enough motions for him to make that choice, and the contrast between his brutal persona and his comical remarks... it's too much. It's too dark and too comical at the same time. It's just wrong.

The dialog and character chemistry didn't have the spark it had in other Marvel movies either, and the overall cast comes off feeling cheesier than in the cheesiest of the Spider-Man movies yet. I was expecting a whole new level of darkness here, but it's like they tried to compromise and... just didn't get it right.

Then there's the final battle between the two aliens, which just wasn't real enough. It went special effects entirely, and the camera angles were messy, the battle choreography more anime than film, and the final scene where he's thrown into the water not half as epic as it could have been. I won't even bother with spoiler tags here. I watched this movie in 3D, and there was plenty of wasted potential there too. Some scenes barely had any layers at all, and especially the one with a rain of fire could have looked AWESOME with a bit more of that. I'm disappointed.

I was disappointed with the post-credit trailer too. It's the first time (as far as I know) that they've moved from real to animated, and although the animated Spider-Man prologue did entertain... it just wasn't real. In another universe...? Yeah right. It might be in the same franchise but it's not relevant. It's not worth wading through ten minutes of credits to see... though even after that the credits just kept going. They never end.

It's not all dark and bleak though. There is some good to it. The story's not bad, the chase was cool, the special effects were awesome, and there were some unexpectedly great shock scenes in the mix, like when he confronts the guitarist, or the thug at the end, or when he's in the magnetic scanner the first time. Those scenes weren't bad. Just anomalies.

Tom Hardy puts on a killer role too, and manages to look pretty damn sick when he is, but the lose ends (the one o's intentional) are just too many. The parasites consuming their host bodies? They didn't even explain that. It feels rushed and incomplete. It's just not Marvel standard with this one.

(Though I assume that's because the parasites typically didn't appreciate their host body, and fed on them as well as others.)

Anyway it's definitely a movie unlike the typical Marvel breed, and I enjoyed the darker sides, but I wish it didn't compromise as much as it did. It could've been pure. It could've gone like Deadpool - instead it feels like a hybrid of genres, and a wannabee Spider-Man spin-off.

For some reason I imagine that might've been Stan Lee's conviction... but I shan't cast blame. I don't know who did what or anything really, no matter how intensely I took in those credits.

It was a good movie, but nowhere near as good as I expected it to be. I guess even Marvel can't keep things perfect all the time. I'm tempted to give this a three just because that's how disappointed I was, but I guess quality-wise it at least climbs up to a low...

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

How do Marvel keep on doing this?! How do they keep doing this? Putting out one movie after the other, and each one better than the last one.

Well maybe not better, but still so impressively good.

I must admit some sequences seemed a bit over-the-top childish in this one, but that's the kind of character Ant-Man is, right? He's got a kid. He's not Deadpool.

Maggie (the girl, played by Judy Greer) comes with some smart remarks and charm, too, as does the entertaining sidekick Luis (Michael Peña), but where the movie really shines is with the special effects (the quantum realm), the effects (Ghost), and the creative filming and fight choreography with this one franchise's main selling element: constant size-shifting.

They really take it to the next level with this one, shrinking not only the characters but also cars, or how about entire houses? More specially a lab. It's the hideout for Dr. Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne, who after Antman's recent heroism in the great Sokovia War is not at an all that pleasant state of affairs with the law.

They turn that around though. They make some comedy out of it.

Yet the movie does have some seriously emotional moments too. Some wondrous moments. Some really cool moments. It keeps the pace well, and shifts between spooky, and psychedelic, and fast-paced, and sometimes entirely silent. The soundtrack's just as masterful as the filming is, and that one melody sounds so great it's almost Hanz Zimerman level... almost? Is it? It could be.

As is tradition it ends with an additional little spoiler too, and not just any you might've expected in the previous films. It hits you like the latest Avengers. Bam. And then it's over. Never thought Ant-Man, out of all these franchises, would take that turn.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

Cops And Robbers (1973)

Cops And Robbers (1973)

Another cop and robbers movie? Plot twist: The cops are the robbers!

It had a jazzy soundtrack, and good old seventies action with a grand tour of Central Park both by car, bike, and on foot while we're at it.

Cliff Gorman and Joseph Bologna played the main characters, and did a good job with them too. They feel authentic, and the script's at times both chaotic and clever, simple seventies as it otherwise is. All in all it's a solid heist movie - just don't expect all too much action.

One question though: what about that ending? I can't figure it out. If anyone knows the answer feel free to leave a comment. With a big spoiler alert attached. Good watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Double Trouble (2012)

Double Trouble (2012)

Here's a generic Asian action comedy with a couple double sidekicks and a couple femme fatales, a friendly gangster, a criminal mastermind and a tour bus with a somewhat irritating guide, and that's about it!

The action's not bad, yet it feels like they often downplay the stunts by filming from inappreciative angles, and other times it's clearly wire-work, or not stunts at all. It's the new age of HK cinema huh? I remember the days when they did all of this for real, or at least (if this really is real) filmed it so it looked the part.

The story's not bad, the red line's easy to follow, and the two security guards bonding over time as they chase a four hundred year old art piece stolen from a museum is nice to follow, but it feels low-budget and plain. Not enough... character? Class? Crisis? Focus on nailing the choreography? It all ends a feelgood action comedy, no more no less, just about worth a...

 rated 3/5: not bad

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