Dredd 3D (2012)

dredd-3d-2012

Sort of non-campy reboot of 2000ad‘s Dredd on film. Not as bad as I thought it would be, and that’s saying a lot, as I swore I’d never watch this. Still, I maintain that, as good an actor as Karl Urban is, he neither has the chin nor the voice of the Dredd that I, and possibly many other fans, have in their heads. Decent action-scifi nonetheless.

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The Colony (2013)

the-colony-2013

So everything is frozen solid and there’s this colony, and then there’s this other colony, and then there are GRIM measures to be taken, and, and, and… ridiculous and awful, post-apocalyptic nonsense. Why are Bill Paxton and Lawrence Fishburne in this?

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Clear History (2013)

clear-history-2013

Larry David of Curb My Enthusiasm and Seinfeld stars in this comedy about shareholding employee of a high-tech startup who is fired and loses his stake; shortly before the company’s portfolio skyrockets. Larry David is funny in this, but a whole film laughing at failure seems just a bit too painful to be that much fun. Or maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough to enjoy it. I’m guessing that fans of Curb My Enthusiasm will like this. Seinfeld fans? Possibly less so.

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Byzantium (2012)

byzantium-2012

Vampire mum and daughter hide out in decaying seaside resort (okay, it’s Hastings), in Neil Jordan‘s bloody and brilliant vampire-flick. Everything a horror movie about vampires should be: bloody, spooky, sexy, seedy, sleazy, otherworldly etc… except in one rather annoying respect.

There is an organisation that features strongly in the plot called… drum-roll… wait for it… “The Pointed Nails of Justice.” What the hell? Who thought that up? Possibly the lamest name ever. Makes me think of  Cassanova Frankenstein doing his fingernail Kung Fu in The Mystery Men.

Oh, and before I get hate mail about Hastings, there is this really great chip shop down by the boats. And David Gemmell was from there.

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Beastly (2011)

beastly-2011

This is a modern, urban re-telling of La Belle et la Bête, AKA Beauty and the Beast. Not bad fare for a vid night. And I’m going to say it. I liked Mary-Kate Olsen in this. A lot. Although she plays a fairly minor role as the witch who curses the vile young man, she’s channeling all kinds of witchy, gothy, fairy godmotherlyness. Grrr. Blimey.

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After Earth (2013)

after-earth-2013

Warrior father, and son, are stranded on dangerous future Earth and are stalked by a deadly alien predator. Stars Will and Jaden Smith. Before seeing this I thought that I would be the first to jump on the, yet another, father/son team-up thing. That wasn’t the problem. In fact, Jaden seemed a lot more animated than his father Will, the ridiculously named Cypher Raige. Or really? Hmmm, now what can that possibly mean and, is his name a plot spoiler? Yes! I am thoroughly annoyed by M. Night Shyamalan. Such a promising director and now he’s making stuff like this…

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TechieTalk: Dog and Bone: #Ubuntu #Edge Dead + Developing Apps for #FirefoxOS #Smartphones

techietalk

And… (several months later) we’re back… The Independent Daily where this column originally appeared may have gone bust, but TechieTalk lives!*

ubuntu-edge-kickstarter

So the Ubuntu smartphone kickstarter failed to reach its target of $32 million dollars. Big whoop. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been great to welcome the supercool and aptly named Ubuntu Edge, but that’s a huge, heaving stack of filthy lucre they wanted for something so untested. Couldn’t they have started smaller? Well, I’m guessing Mark Shuttleworth’s market strategists thought that they needed the sheer volume of phones to achieve some sort of meaningful market penetration. The point is that I naively thought kickstarter-type projects were aimed at smallish startups. Still, it’s not all gloom for the Shuttleworth posse. The buzz generated certainly indicated that there was an interest for a real competitor to Android and IOS. And, I say it again, doesn’t it just look sooo cool? This is the smartphone for Ernst Stavro Blofeld:

ubuntu-edge

Another, and some may say, cleverer way of tackling the saturated smartphone market, is to not compete at all. It’s as if a light-bulb must have gone ping over at Mozilla HQ when they suddenly noticed that the dumbphone market was, well… dumb. Somehow we’d all forgotten that out there, in the real world, there are lots of people who just want a decent phone that actually works. And, if it is easy to develop for, so much the better. Okay, so the latter can be achieved with IOS, if you are willing to kowtow financially to The Almighty, and highly restrictive, Apple. Android development, for a long time, was a right royal pain for developers with stuff strewn, willy-nilly, all over the place. Luckily, there is now a single-bundle SDK. However, it still means that IOS developers need to know Objective C and Android developers, Java. Fine, if you are already a decent coder, pretty dire if you are not.  And it’s not just the programming languages throwing a spanner in the works. There’s also the specialised IDEs (Integrated Development Environments), the difficult to negotiate ‘Store’ models for distributing your software and the aforesaid restrictive practices.

The solution? Firefox OS from Mozilla. With it, you just have to leverage web development skills. No IDEs and very few tools to download either, because if it runs in an HTML5 capable browser, it will run on one of the new Firefox OS phones.

Of course, it’s not all sweetness. Problems include the sparsity of models and the lack of dedicated apps. I also think that Mozilla missed a tricked after the recent putting-to-bed of the Thunderbird mail client project. Perhaps all those idle (I know it’s a volunteer project) developers could have been put to good use cooking up one killer, ready-to-distribute app. My choice would have been a VOIP Skype-alike or a Waze-type navigation app. The other problems relate to some of the phones themselves. Now I can quite appreciate that there were pricing justifications for the fairly low specs, but then there is too low-spec. For example, the cheapest phone, the ZTE Open has a mere 3 mega-pixel rear camera (ugh) and is only dual band (double ugh!) Surely there are some limitations to just how low you can go? At least the phone is pretty!

zte-open

But the paucity of Firefox OS smartphones might be momentary. There are also two other, more conventionally, powerful smartphones running Firefox OS in the works. The Peak+ at £127.49 and the Keon at £77.87 are available for pre-order:

peak-keon

Right, so that’s the critique bit done.

Gird your loins, because here’s what you need to know right now if you want to develop for Firefox OS:

You will need the Firefox browser and the Firefox OS Simulator Addon (finicky, but will install, just be patient). And that’s it! Okay, that’s mainly it if you are already a hot HTML5 developer who bleeds Javascript. The rest of us might want to check out the following guides:

Comments welcome.

*TechieTalk is looking for a new home, please contact us.

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YouTube Trawl: Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell #Journalism #Reporters #Hacks

Remember this old gem? I don’t recollect whether I saw this at the theatre, on the TV or on video, but what a great play:

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Looking Back at The Fury and The Medusa Touch (1978) #SciFi #Horror #Thriller

I just tweeted a YouTube trailer of the The Medusa Touch (1978), based on a novel by the late Peter Van Greenaway, only to discover that another of my favourites was also released that year. It was the year that Brian De Palma’s excellent adaptation of John Farris’s The Fury blasted the silver screen to pieces. Although distinctly different films, they both shared a common theme of apocalyptic super-powers bestowed on unstable individuals.*

The quality of a movie hinges on many factors, but the fact that both had great source material, scripts and casts, Richard Burton in the former and Kirk Douglas in the latter, surely must have helped. Also, Brian De Palma’s trademark schlock actually worked well in The Fury, but then again I am somewhat of an aficionado of his work, so this is hardly an objective observation.

I love both these films and never miss a chance to watch them.

*We, of course, see this topic explored in later movies, including Scanners (1981), Akira (1988) and Chronicle (2012).

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#Programmers and #Coders: Any UK #Devs bought a #ZTE Open (#FirefoxOS) from eBay yet? Views?

I’m currently writing an article and would like to know how your development experience with the new device goes…

p.s. I installed the Firefox OS Simulator earlier today myself. It looks sparse, but clean and simple.

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My Journalistic Hate List @NUJofficial @journalism @BBC @Guardian

Things…

i-hate

…and some I’m also guilty of committing:

  • Articles with “Why You Should…” in the title.
  • Articles with “N Reasons Why You Should…” in the title.
  • Any “Top N Things” type listicle articles. (GUILTY!)
  • Statistically unprovable rating schemes with “N out of N” stars, skulls etc… (GUILTY!)
  • The use of “disconnect” as a noun.
  • Overuse of the exclamation mark. (GUILTY!!!)
  • Using “that said” instead of “however.” (GUILTY!)
  • Content mill clowns.
  • Confusing journalistic reporting with activism or marketing.
  • Talking about writing instead of writing. (GUILTY!)
  • Ghostwritten celebrity columns…
  • …a group well-known for whining about hacks.
  • Requests for time-sensitive speculative articles.
  • Most editors, publishers and owners. (GUILTY, GUILTY and GUILTY!)
  • Sub-editors with bad grammar.
  • Late-payers and non-payers.
  • Time-consuming applications for journalism jobs. Cuttings and reels are sufficient.
  • “noreply” e-mail addresses. Would you really prefer a nude visit in the flesh (so to speak)?
  • Writers who whine about everything. (GUILTY!)
  • Fellow bloggers who are gits. (occasionally git-ish myself, so… GUILTY!)
  • Narcissism posing as gonzo. Or gonzo passing as narcissism.
  • Nepotism.

Top image via Ransom Note Generator

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#Comic #Book #Review: Grant Morrision's and Philip Bond's Vimanarama

vimanarama

In this SciFi/Fantasy comedy the father of our lackadaisical hero, Ali, owns a corner-shop in Bradford. One day some shelves collapse on Ali’s hard-working brother Omar and a huge hole appears… The hole imprisons something very nasty indeed that inevitably escapes and leads to all kinds of apocalyptic chaos. There’s a bit of everything here: Bollywood, some fast-and-loose culture-jammed mythology, wrapped up in non-stop comedy. I thought it mostly very funny and I laughed aloud a few times. Morrison’s dialogue is sharp, Bond’s drawing is bold and Miller’s colour is intense; the art jumps right off the page. Worth a quick read and… brown people in comic books, yay!

Oh, and about the title, ‘Vimanas’ are basically flying chariots from Hindu mythology. I actually have one and I’m going for a quick scoot on it later. No, really.

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#TV #Review: Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part II, Episode 9, It's The Final Countdown… Oh No!

breaking-bad-walter-white-s5-p2-e9

Thus commences the beginning of the end of AMC’s brilliant show.

In the first episode of the grande finale we see a long Star Trek themed dialogue about subjects only a Trekkie (like me) would get. This indicates, quite clearly, that I must be their prime audience demographic. Quite clever of them to achieve this given the non-genre (SciFi/Fantasy/Horror) nature of the show. In this episode we also see Walter sick again because, as we now know, he only thrives on evil. No spoilers, but to say that the first episode ends with a bit of a cliff-hanger would be a monstrous understatement.

With a show as popular as this, lightning rarely strikes twice, just ask creator Vince Gilligan’s X-Files colleague Chris Carter. Still, good luck to the cast and crew, because whatever they do next, it will be difficult to top Breaking Bad.

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YouTube Trawl: The Gorgon (1964) #Hammer

Hammer Films’ The Gorgon (1964), starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Filmed at Bray Studios in Berkshire, UK:

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What Better Way To Celebrate YouTube's Geek Week Than With Alestorm. Yo, Ho, Ho (& Mwah Ha)

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#SciFi, #Horror, #Fantasy: "…send us a story if you think you can mix up some pulpy goodness…" #UK, #Canada & #Mauritius

I’m busy writing and not getting paid right now, in case anyone has any weird ideas of how I’m profiting from Star Adventurer Magazine (I AM NOT).

So dust off your cynic’s hat and send us a story if you think you can mix up some pulpy goodness. Some contributors from the UK, Canada and Mauritius would be nice! If you can’t write for us, at least try to spread the message.

http://staradventurer.com/

That’s it and that’s all. I’m not wasting any more of this wonderful weekend; I’ve got writing to do (and so do you).

Okay, lecture over!

};->

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Stallman Sings

Here’s one reason to forgive Stallman for unleashing the evil that is Emacs on the universe. Recorded quite a few years ago is his slightly satirical version of Guantanamera, sung by The Great Bearded One himself. (Much nerdly respect for whoever filmed this on a Nokia N95):

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#Noir #Movie #Review: Psychopathy and Sociopathy, Part 2: The Killer Inside Me (2010)

the-killer-inside-me-2013

The Killer Inside Me (2010) is about small town deputy who is an all-round good-guy and Southern Gentleman hiding a secret. Well, actually not that much of a secret, given the title of the movie. In the film we see Casey Affleck driving around a slow, sleepy Texan oil community, sent by the sheriff to “persuade” working girl Jessica Alba to leave town.  Instead they fall for each other and begin a violent sado-masochistic romance. As the movie progresses, the bland, amiable layers of Affleck’s character are peeled away to expose the compulsive killer beneath; echoing the deputy from King’s The Dead Zone (1983). Unfortunately, the romance is doomed and, through a series of escalating acts of violence by Affleck, we begin to realise that Alba is living on borrowed time.

One of the reasons that this movie has been panned, is that there is a specific and extremely brutal scene that some have used to level criticisms of misogyny against Winterbottom because they feel that it glorifies violence against women. I, for one, did not feel this. The only real problem I had with the scene was that it completely alienated me from the protagonist who commits the vile act; making it difficult to empathise with Affleck’s character for the rest of the film. The scene is also protracted, but it has to be in order to ensure that we, the audience, are sickened and appalled, and finally able to see the true madness of the killer.

This movie ticks all the right boxes for noir. It is gritty and slightly detached from reality, as is the killer. Also, in the great tradition of noir, it manages to reveal the putrid interior of bright, sun-kissed locales as do films like China Town (1974) and, more geographically relevant, Blood Simple (1984) which is also set in Texas.

Finally, back to that theory of Richard the III as an appealing psychopath. In contrast to Shakespeare’s Richard, both Mary and Lou are numb, empty beings. They may look superficially attractive, but lack any connectivity to the rest of humanity. Richard, however, is the polar opposite. He isn’t much to look at, but his gleefully manipulative and ruthless character traits do not seem like a ‘disorder’ at all. While all three works, strive to entertain, I think that only Richard the III succeeds fully, despite its obvious propaganda. This is because it allows the audience to emphasise with its protagonist, something no one can really do with Mary or Lou.

Read Part 1

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#Horror #Movie #Review: Psychopathy and Sociopathy, Part 1: American Mary (2013)

Back in the Jurassic Era, when I was sitting A’Level English Literature, I wrote an essay about how psychopathic and sociopathic behaviour, as displayed by Shakespeare’s dramatic interpretation of Richard the III, can be an appealing trait in lead characters. Audiences seem to enjoy seeing the protagonist get away with outrageous behaviour outside of societal norms. Basically, I was extolling to fun of being allowed to do horrible things, as is evidenced by films like American Mary (2012) and The Killer Inside Me (2013).

american-mary-2012

Mary is a brilliant, but failing and financially challenged medical student, who is drugged and date-raped by her professor. After this traumatic episode, she drops out of medical school and inadvertently falls into the extreme body-mod underground. There she finds her true vocation as ‘Doctor Mary’, the go-to quack for extreme body-modifications, and I’m not talking about anything so mundane as piercings. This extensive and very bloody experience inspires her to extract a particularly protracted and awful revenge on her rapist.

My problems with the movie are twofold. First, there a few too many ideas floating around the central theme of straight revenge horror.  There’s Cronenbergian body-shock horror, torture-porn and the psychology of detachment, but not enough time to explore these themes fully. For example, the blurring of lines between the professional detachment required by surgeons and the predisposition for detachment displayed by those with psychopathic and/or sociopathic disorders could be a film in itself. My second problem is that there is one particular scene that bears an overly striking resemblance to events that take place in Wagner and Locke’s graphic novel: A History of Violence.

I think it is telling that American Mary is only the second, low-budget feature of North Vancouver’s (yay ‘couver!) Soska sisters. I can see the influence of Dexter, Japanese body-horror/revenge flicks, as well as the aforesaid shadow of David Cronenberg looming large. Although the film feels rushed and disjointed, I feel it to be promising, though it should only be viewed by those with very strong stomachs. Mary is played disturbing well by Ginger Snaps (2000) actress Katharine Isabelle.

Read Part 2

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Tomorrowland Live Video Feed of #Dance #Music Festival in #Belgium

Tomorrowland (?) live feed:

You can also watch on YouTube and at the Tomorrowland website.

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Varis the Musical Assassin: Spotted In Toy Store

About a month ago I saw this figure in Toy Barnhaus and realised that I had found the PlayMobil embodiment of the protagonist from my short story The Black Tower. Albeit, in a stolen uniform and ironically waving a standard.

I bought him yesterday and he now sits on my printer, ready to play a tune, end a life, or have a drink at a moment’s notice.

varis-playmobil

And look at that expression. Not exactly reliable. TLF should seriously reconsider giving him a busking licence.

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Old Skool Ain't So Cool: The World's End #SciFi #Movie #Review

Gary King (Simon Pegg) is a man-boy who never grew out of being the coolest kid in school. Unfortunately, that time was WAY back, and now Gary is a bit of a loser.

In order to bring some meaning to his wretched existence, he tries to relive his glory years by getting his mates together again. The plan is that they should complete an epic pub crawl that they never managed to finish in their dismal home town of Newton Milton. Then, in the grand tradition of Wright/Pegg Cornetto collaborations, things start happening.

the-worlds-end

I did laugh; a lot, but also rather self-consciously too. You see Gary’s predilection for band tees*, DMs, and the nostalgic late 80s-90s Indie soundtrack are things that he and I share (rather uncomfortably, since I saw the movie).

On the other hand, the film makes me feel happy that I never tried too hard to stay in touch with any of my youf frienemies. But, perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on either Gary or myself, because I’m sure that there’s a bit of Gary’s alternative gothy douchery** in many of us of a certain cultural niche and age. And, even if we can’t relate to him directly, surely we know blokes like Gary.

Although Gary King is a hateful bugger, like the rest of his friends, you can’t help feeling a little sorry for him, and remember that some of those halycon skool daze weren’t all bad. Drunken, antisocial, and incredibly stupid maybe, but also quite a lot of fun too.

And, in the end, it’s not all hopeless, because Gary’s Carl McCoy-esque** wasteland wanderer is his finest sunset moment.

Recommended for a nostalgic day trip, as well as a swift kick in the jacksy for anyone harking for “back-in-the-day”, and a fitting final act to the Cornetto trilogy.

Now I’m off to the shops to get some proper, grown-up clobber.***

the-worlds-end-ticket


*I used to own that very same Sisters of Mercy
/Merciful Release tee-shirt Gary wears (and boots, pendant, hairline… Oh dear).

** Sure Eldritch, but the Fields’ McCoy makes a much more credible goth cowboy. Haven’t you seen Hardware (1990)?

***Actually, I didn’t.

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#SciFi #Movie: #Review Pacific Rim (It's Good, It's Very, Very Good)

pacific-rim-2013-poster

I saw Pacific Rim today and I must have liked it too, because I couldn’t stop talking about afterwards. The premise is simple. Humanity creates and pilots giant warrior robots to fight giant alien monsters. A tribute to Japanese kids TV, Guilermo Del Toro really gets Saturday morning mecha. This is a fantastic giant robot stomp fest, so much so that I keep finding myself walking round the apartment, making “whirr-whirr” noises pretending to be a giant robot. I don’t care how old I am either. You see I grew up with Goldorak, a humanoid mecha, thanks to Summers with access to francophone TV, whilst living in Paris with my aunt and uncle.  In other words, I have been pre-programmed to go completely nuts over this stuff. And I did. In fact, I sat there with an ear-to-ear grin throughout most of this movie.

The only reason that it isn’t the best film so far this year, is that it has Star Trek Into Darkness as it’s competition.

Thoroughly recommended and take that Michael Bay! Whirr-whirr, BAM!

pacific-rim-2013-ticket

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Upcoming #Space #Movies Better Than Moon (2009)? Gravity (2013) and Europa Report (2013) (#Trailers + UK Release Dates)

Moon (2009) was good, but hardly as original as the critics made out. In my view, it only shone because of Sam Rockwell’s outstanding performance. Also, it was more dream-like fantasy than real science fiction. So I am hoping that two new movies: Bullock and Clooney’s Gravity and, especially, Europa Report live up to my expectations for some near-future, good’n’proper HARD SF. Ad goddamn astra.

Europa Report (UK release date? No idea, but due to an idiotic, piracy-baiting distribution model, it’s been out on VOD in the US since June). Yohoho and a bottle of Romulan ale:

Gravity (to be released in October):

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#UK #SciFi #Comedy #Romance #Movie #Trailer: About Time (2013)

This is a first. It is the first time I’ve used a tag called ‘#Romance’. Still I did see The Time Traveller’s Wife (2009) by myself, which is either sad or embarrassing, depending on your point of view. About Time comes out on the 8th August; Bill Nighy is playing his standard quirky, likeable, patriarchal, avuncular and highly unreliable character in the following trailer. (That’s way too many adjectives, but it’s hot and the Red Bull has gone straight to my head).

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Insanely Funny Kung Fu Movie Death Scene

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Flying Bicycle Kickstarter!

Source: Laughing Squid

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Big Nerdy Blockbusters Coming Your Way Soon: Thor: The Dark World & Kickass 2 (Restricted) #Trailers

Thor: The Dark World, UK release: 30 October 2013

Kickass 2, UK release: 16 August 2013

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Goddamn, it's ELECTRO!!! The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014) #Trailer

Teaser trailer with Jamie Foxx playing Maz Dillon, AKA Electro!

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#RPG #Games: Try Solo Dungeons and Dragons

Try solo Dungeons and Dragons over at http://dnd.chromesphere.com/index.htm.

The website is very basic, but the games themselves are very easy to start playing within about 60 seconds (even for complete novices like me).

No wonder I never seem to have enough time!

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#SciFi #Movie #Trailers: Snowpiercer (2013)

The Host (2006) director, Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer (2013), coming soon. Choo, choooooooo!

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Want Me To #Review Something? #Movies, #TV, #ComicBooks, #Games, #Gadgets etc…

Want me to review something? Then get in touch! Here’s what I can currently handle:

  • SciFi/Fantasy/Horror movies (first UK press screening) and TV shows (pilot only on region unlocked DVD).
  • Superhero/supervillain SciFi/Fantasy/Horror English language comic books (hard copy of first issue only).
  • Games (PC video games, NB/ if subscription based, then I’ll need an account already set up and login details).
  • Phones/phablets/tablets (charged, with activated voice+3/4G SIM for the UK and some pre-installed apps and games.)
  • Consoles+ controller with a couple of newish, popular game titles or 3D gaming capable laptops with a few preinstalled games.
  • Digital cameras (charged).
  • Media players & eReaders (charged, with some content).
  • Audio Dramas (will review first episode or chapter only, on CD please).

You will have to arrange delivery and collection and, preferably, include some non-copyrighted, non-lossy images (.png or .tiff) of your product. No passwords on gadgets!

Thanks!

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Get Stark Randomness and Grime At Bodily Wobbling The Lumpy Hearse


…near enough!

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#TV: Sherlock, Series 3

And more humbug, as we’re not seeing a return of Sherlock until at least October!

sherlock-series-3-filming

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#TV: Under the Dome (2013)

under-the-dome-2013

This adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same title is doing well over in the US and garnering good ratings for CBS. However, we won’t be getting it in the UK until Autumn! Humbug.

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#Movie #Review: The Corporation (2003)

the-corporation-2003

I haven’t seen this movie in a good number of years, but since we seem to be going through a spate of political film reviews, I thought I’d just mention one of the best. I was actually invited to see this movie by a group of university students back in 2003, but I declined because I go to the movies for fictional entertainment, not to watch documentaries. So I waited until it came out on DVD. In a nutshell, the film examines the deleterious effects of the growth of powerful multinational corporations. Put that way, it sounds a little boring. However, this movie has an almost hypnotic quality. Maybe, it’s the combination of the voice of the narrator (Mikela J. Mikael), the subtle background music or the subject itself, but I watched this movie in one sitting, with barely a blink. Why should you watch this? Simple: if you are like me, you probably can’t be bothered staying abreast of current events. Something like this, that can inform as well as entertain is, therefore, a panacea to viewer apathy. The movie also has one of the best logos that I have ever seen. Recommended.

Some other decent movies with a strong political theme that I ‘enjoyed’:

The Battle of Algiers (1966), Doctor Strangelove (1964), Catch 22 (1970).

You might also want to check out this IMDB list, which strangely omits Catch 22.

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#Movie #Review: The Company You Keep (2012)

the-company-you-keep-2012In this drama, Robert Redford is an ex-Weather Underground activist on the run from the FBI.  This movie seems like a nostalgic tribute to American radicals from the 1970s. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I found the film interesting rather than engrossing, as the dramatic aspects appeared a little flat.  Also, and I say this with utmost respect to Robert Redford, he seemed a little old for the role. Shia LaBeouf’s pushy reporter is unbelievably unsympathetic and irritating, but Julie Christie’s hard, unbowed, anarchistic and inappropriately named Mimi is compelling.

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#Movie #Review: Battle in Seattle (2007)

Emotive, informative and angry docu-drama based on the 1999 WTO conference and the associated demonstrations in Seattle. I watched the movie this morning on BBC iPlayer (available for a few more days). Is it any good? Yes; it was one of those films that you felt compelled to carry on watching once you hit play, but it wasn’t an enjoyable experience.

battle-in-seattle-2007

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#Movie #Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)

the-spiderwick-chronicles-2008

This time you get two opinions of the movie:

Roy: Good CGI and fun characters. I particularly liked the main character’s scary sister with the sword. A mild distraction and okay for the whole family. Should keep the younger children happy. Bad points? It isn’t The NeverEnding Story (1984).

Roy’s mum: Entertaining, but not as interesting as the book.*

*She finished reading The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Complete Series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black last week.

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#Movie #Review: Jack The Giant Slayer (2013)

jack-the-giant-slayer-2013

Despite the poor ratings and getting generally panned by the critics, this isn’t actually a bad movie. I am sure that the younger children will like this, though there are some frightening bits. The story is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk: a very simple formulaic fairytale, i.e. Boy, Beans, Giant , Princess, Rescue. Not too shoddy and the giants are pretty intimidating too; even for a big kid like me.

Note: there was another fantasy film with (nearly) the same title called Jack the Giant Killer (1962). It bears no resemblance at all to the fairytale or this new movie. It is worth a watch though, if only due to the fact that it scared the pants off me when I saw it as a child. It also left me with a fatal attraction to scary women.

jack-the-giant-killer-1962-evil-witch

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#Movie #Review: Total Recall (2012)

total-recall-2012I said I would not see this movie, but I did in the end, so help me god, I did. Yes, it is as awful as I thought it would be. A pointless remake, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Absolutely nothing in this movie makes sense. Why do the poor commute from Australia and why does Australia have no Australians in it? Why is it cheaper to core through the earth than it is to fly around it? Why, why, why? And most of all, why does the script lack even the tiniest shred of humour? Even John Carter (of Mars) was exponentially better than this. May the hand of PKD reach down from the heavens and mightily smote this movie. See it at your own peril.

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#Movie #Review: Beautiful Creatures (2013)

beautiful-creatures-2013I’m not giving much away, from things you would have already seen in the trailer by telling you that Lena is a teenager who will soon undergo a transformation that will determine whether she becomes a good or evil witch. The stress of this impending metamorphosis is is complicated by a friendship/romance with a local Ethan. Both seek to escape: Lena from her fate and literary Ethan from the drudgery of his surroundings.

It’s not hard to sympathise with Ethan and Lena who live in a horrible little, repressed, bible-bashing town. On the other hand it is nigh on impossible to respect Emma Thompson’s and Jeremy Irons’ badly hammed up attempt at playing characters from the deep south. Another problem I had was that some of the CGI, SFX and makeup used made some scenes resemble pantomime for younger children rather than youth horror. Worth a watch? Yes, because the main characters are so well acted, especially by Alden Ehrenreich who plays Ethan. Think of it as a B-grade Footloose with spells.

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#TV #Review: The Triangle (2005)

the-triangle-mini-seriesThis is TV mini-series from a few years ago, produced by the company formerly known as the SciFi Channel (now SyFy). As the title suggests, the plot is centered around the Bermuda Triangle. Sam Neill plays a shipping magnate who hires a ragtag, multidisciplinary team of experts to investigate what is causing his tankers to disappear. While this is B-movie material, the fact that it is science fiction and it is also to do with the sea is immediately a plus point for me. Problems? Well, there are quite a few gaping logic holes. For instance, part of the plot revolves around an event that causes a character to age suddenly. The circumstances of this aging makes no sense because sudden aging and growth without rapid metabolic activity fueled by feeding obviously breaks the first law of thermodynamics, i.e. the conservation of energy.* However, this tired old trope is standard fare in genre fiction, e.g. it is used in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), so it would be unfair to single The Triangle out. All-in-all, I found it an okay, inoffensive distraction; something you could watch over a few nights to waft you gently to sleep.

*I’m not physicist, so please correct me if I am wrong about this!

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#TV #Review: The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011)

elisabeth-sladen

I came to The Sarah Jane Adventures rather late in the game and well after the death of the wonderful Elizabeth Sladen in 2011. In my view, this is an utterly brilliant series that more faithfully captures the original spirit of Doctor Who than does the current Doctor Who itself.  Each story consists of two, easily digestible, episodes of thirty minutes. Set in the Doctor Who universe, the plots concern a modern-day Enid Blyton-esque team, led by intrepid journalist and ex-Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith, who save the world on a daily basis.

There are so many things that appeal to me about this series. The team itself is made up of good-natured, realistically portrayed, but constantly misbehaving teenagers. It has also occurred to me that almost all the main characters are only-children from one-parent families and there’s nothing actually wrong with any of them! (Take that ‘traditional family values‘ brigade). Also, Sarah Jane herself proves that older does not mean obsolete. There is a heart-warming quality about the show that always leaves me feeling happy, and without any sickly saccharine aftertaste either. If someone like me, a gore-splattered pulp-meister, loves the show this much, then so should you and I highly recommend it for SciFi nerds of any age.

For any elder-nerds out there, I direct you to read New Wave SF novel Michaelmas by Algis Budrys. Laurent Michaelmas is a guitar-playing journalist (shades of The Newsroom) who, in cahoots with his hugely powerful computer Domino (a bit like Mr.Smith), rules the world. Parallels?

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#Movie #Review: Despicable Me 2 (2013)

despicable-me-2I took my mother to see this movie at my local cinema yesterday.

Our favourite reformed supervillain and single father of three is now going straight developing a line of fruit jams and preserves. His sedate, boring, suburban life is shaken up when he is called out of retirement by the Anti-Villain League (AVL). They want him to go undercover and help them take down a mysterious and powerful bad guy. Doctor Nefario (Russell Brand) and the minions make a welcome return and there’s romance in the air too in the shape of deadly agent Lucy Wilde.

One annoyance is the in-plot premise that children need two parents to be truly happy. Maybe it’s the influence of The Sarah Jane Adventures (which we will review shortly), but I don’t think that this necessarily holds true any more. So it bugs me no end that anything less than the nuclear family is still regarded as less than ideal. Another scorpion in the enchilada is the uncomfortable and very noticeable racial stereotyping of a couple of the characters.

Is it any good? Yes it is, despite the above problems. However, since neither the focus on traditional family structures nor lazy racial caricatures were necessary to the plot, I’m at a loss to understand why attitudes like this persist in a kid’s film… (other than due to lazy film-making).*

*NB/ The views expressed in this post were peer-reviewed by mum, who doesn’t always agree with everything I say. In this instance she did.

despicable-me-2-tickets

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#TV #Review: Defiance (2013)

defiance-2013This is a new dual-mode entertainment franchise of both a video game and a TV series. The premise is that there was a huge space battle when a horde variegated alien species arrived on Earth. Both civilisation and the ecosystem of the planet was irremediably transformed by alien terraformers. This post-apocalyptic world now hosts various sentient species, who largely live in peace with humans. The reemergence of technology is slow and the peoples of earth now live a semi-cargo-cult existence. They are dependent on ‘arkfalls’, a term coined for occasions when pieces of orbital debris from the past space battle come crashing down and are immediately looted for high-tech gizmos. The story of the pilot episode, largely concerns the usual rugged individualist, who comes into the town of Defiance and helps out the townsfolk with a variety of problems.

Perhaps years ago, before genre entertainment came to the fore, this might have grabbed my attention. But, with so much material out there, I am loathe to dig deep into yet another franchise. One of the main problems I have with this is that it just looks a little too much like FireFly. But if SciFi westerns are your cup of tea then this show just may be the one for you. More to the point, if you are playing the corresponding Defiance MMORPG, this should add a nice extra-layer of player involvement.

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#Movie #Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2012-2013)

And so it goes… as I continue to review everything I have watched over the last few weeks…

batman-the-dark-knight-returns-part-1-2012 batman-the-dark-knight-returns-part-2-2013

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Parts 1 & 2) are a pair of animated movies from Warner based on Frank Miller’s seminal Batman reboot graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns (1986). In it we see an aging Bruce Wayne take on just about everybody. He has a rumble with a murderous new gang terrorising Gotham, Superman and even the government of the United States of America. Although the animated movies do well to untangle the labyrinthine plot of the comic book into a more coherent story, some of the impactful artwork of the original is lost in translation to the screen. I did enjoy the movies, but it doesn’t feel like a keeper. In all honesty, I prefer the retrofuturistic, streamliner look of the animated TV series Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011).

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#TV #Review: Luther (2013 Series 3)

luther-series-3-and-alice

The improbably tall David Bowie fan and the UK’s answer to Dirty Harry, Luther (Idris Elba) is back for a third series. This hit cop drama concerns the investigations of Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, the key man in the fictional Serious and Serial Crime Unit. He is an investigator who hunts serial killers by getting inside their minds and thinking like they do. The cost of this intuition shows in Luther’s scary, quiet coldness and social isolation. If I do have a complaint about the current series, it is the curious absence of Alice (that sounds like an indie band doesn’t it?*) To recap, Alice is a nut job, who got away with murdering her parents under Luther’s watch.  The connection led to an improbable almost-romance developing between the two outsiders.  This added a certain unique frisson to the show.  I think it won’t be long before she returns, probably when Luther is at his lowest and most vulnerable. That time won’t be long coming, as the pressure mounts and he deals with both unpredictable killers and an internal investigation.

* ‘Absence of Alice’ © Roy Mathur 2013 (hah!)

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#TV #Review: Dexter (2013 Season 8)

dexter-season-8Our beloved police blood-spatter analyst/serial-killer is back. This season, Debs has discovered Dexter’s dirty little secret and it has sent her loopy.  The particular incident that sent her barking at the moon involved the death of LaGuerta. Captain LaGuerta was a largely unsympathetic brown-noser who I started to develop respect for as she regained her cop-instincts towards the end of the last season.  Unfortunately, she regained credibility by investigating Dexter. Oh dear.  That the show is still managing to retain my fickle-affections must mean something after eight seasons, but I’m glad that this is the final hurrah as I’m not keen on watching Dexter Morgan, become a grandad. Intriguingly, Charlotte Rampling has joined the cast as head-shrinker expert on psychopathy bent on exploiting the scarlet one’s talents.

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#Movie #Review: Iron Man 3 (2013)

iron-man-3-2013The latest in the on-going saga of Tony Stark: US-patriot, one-man US-foreign policy and US president-elect. Okay, I made that last bit up. I think. Ben Kinglsey’s Mandarin is fun and it’s actually an okay superhero film. I especially liked the relationship between Stark, a man with no paternal instincts, and a kid. It is just so refreshing to see a rare moment of zero-schmaltz in an American movie. One indication that I enjoyed the film is that I didn’t catch Stan Lee’s usual annoying cameo. Please, please, please Mr. Lee, I beg of you, kindly desist from further cameos.

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#TV #Review: The Newsroom (2012 Season 1)

the-newsroom-2012

Aaron Sorkin is undeniably a brilliant writer, but this show seems a lot like his previous big show, The West Wing, only set in a TV newsroom. Often the dialogue is far too clever for its own good and draws you away from the story itself, like a David Mamet screen play. On the other hand, as a print journo, seeing broadcast journalism in action fascinated me. There were lots of “ahhh, so that’s what they mean” and “ohhh, so that’s how it works” moments from me. Jeff Daniels’ anchor man is a well-cast and superbly written character, but less so was Emily Mortimer’s semi-hysterical executive producer. As a man, I obviously can’t claim to be a feminist, but I found her histrionic outbursts frankly insulting to womankind.

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#Movie #Review: Stoker (2013)

stoker-2013

Rich, bored teenager, from rich, bored family is liberated from apathy by mysterious, psycho uncle who arrives shortly after her father’s death. The film is not quite as disturbing as it purports to be except for one particular scene, (hint: snow-angels). This lacking is something I don’t understand, because it is directed by Oldboy‘s Park Chan-wook and, boy, can that guy do disturbing. The only performance I rated was that of Matthew Goode (Watchman‘s Ozymandias). Wait for the rental.

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#Movie #Review: Shot Through The Heart (1998)

shot-through-the-heart-1998One-time Yugoslavian Olympic rifle-team buddies, one a Bosnian, the other a Serb, cross bullets in the Bosnian War. I watched this BBC/HBO production years ago and can vouch for its excellence. All the more-so, given that I was in the UK at the time of the war and corresponding with people of that country via online chat. It certainly brought home the vicious reality of civil war. Recently my mother also watched this film and, as well as sharing my approval for it, was deeply affected. Recommended.

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#Movie #Review: Predators (2010)

predators-2010The latest installation of the Predator franchise takes the movie back to it’s roots. A bunch of toughies find themselves dumped in a weird hunters’ game-reserve. Rambunctious fun, let down by Lawrence Fishburne’s kill-crazy Crusoe, put in just to explain things to the audience. Puh-leeze!

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#Movie #Review: Plunkett & Macleane (1999)

plunkett-and-macleane-1999

Jonny Lee Miller is Captain James Macleane and Robert Carlyle is highwayman Will Plunkett. The first a broke louche, the second a, sick-of-class, commoner gathering together a fortune so that he can start anew in the America.  They team up to fleece the rich.  Entertaining action, but a bit Blackadder with fewer laughs. This film also has the worst tag-line in movie history: ‘they rob the rich… and that’s it.’  However Liv Tyler, with a Georgian era fake beauty-spot, alone makes this a movie worth watching. And also because highwaymen are cool.

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#Movie #Review: My Name Is Khan (2010)

my-name-is-khan-2010Brilliant young Muslim with Aspergers goes on a quest to tell the US president that he is not a terrorist in the wake of a terrible tragedy that occurs to his family in vengeful, post-911 America. I didn’t watch this movie, because I can’t handle weepies. However, my mother did and she rates it highly, as did many film-critics and audiences. Although this is a Bollywood movie, it is not a musical. Stars Shah Rukh Khan as the eponymous Rizawan Khan. Recommended by mum.

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#Movie #Review: Spring Breakers (2012)

spring-breakers-2012

And here we have my rant of the week. This movie is about an obnoxious bimbo quartet who, strapped for cash for their Spring break plans, stage a violent robbery. Once down in Florida, they fall under the spell of James Franco’s irritating, corn-rowed  rapper-OG. Vacuous, badly conceived exploitation cinema, dressed up as a morality tale with Miami Vice gloss. This was the film Michael Mann would have made if he was directing a Girls Gone Wild video*.  Even the sight of the girl protagonists wearing very little palls after five minutes. Written and directed by Harmony Korine, the same man responsible for the, not-so-shocking, Kids. If you’re going to make an exploitation movie, do it wholeheartedly, do it well or don’t do it at all.

*And had misplaced most of his brain.

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Slammed, #neRRRdcast, Upcoming #Screen #Reviews

I’m totally slammed with a zillion things right now.  I was going to my writers’ circle tonight (right about now in fact), but that plan has gone right up the spout.  There was also going to be a new neRRRcast tomorrow, but I have no time to do that either.  Instead I’ll convert my show-notes into reviews about the various film and TV shows I’ve been watching lately.  One benefit of this exercise will be that it will clear the boards for more interesting future podcasts with newer material.

Right then: standby for a lot of movie and TV reviews coming up on this blog later tonight.

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News from the Man-Cave: #BSFA, #DoctorWho, Judge Mathur, #Writers' Workshops and Links

Busy day as usual, just a quick post.  Postie brought a few BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) mags this morning:

bsfa-mags

I tried sticking my new press pass in my Doctor Who UNIT wallet that I recently won, but it kept falling out!

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I made this nifty Judge Mathur badge, i.e. more time-wasting:

(make your own)

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As well as the writers’ circle that I attend, I am also going to be joining the BSFA’s own Orbit writers’ workshops soon. I thought I’d stick a snap up on here, in case anyone else is interested in joining (click to enlarge):

bsfa-orbiters

Finally, I’ve found some useful links for all us writing procrastinators:

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Press Pass Activated! (#UK #Journalism)

Busy, busy day today.  So busy, in fact, that I almost forgot to commemorate a particularly important event.  Today I received my press-pass!!!

roys-press-pass

Ta da!

I’m now an accredited freelance journalist.  A bona fide member of the British press.

Given my addiction to The Sarah Jane Adventures, let’s hope I can uncover some weird alien conspiracy, rather than trying to pitch articles about Mr. Mungy’s enormous, prize-winning marrows.

Really, this is a very happy day for me.  Quite brilliant, and made even more so by Summer finally deciding to descend upon us.

Hope everyone out there is also having a great day!

};->

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#TV: Doctor Who's Next Doctor?

rory-kinnear-doctor-who-maybeRory Kinnear, 35, the Ladbroke’s favourite, but he doesn’t half look a tad normal for long-lived, alien anarchist…

Maybe he’s a red herring?

And more Victoriana? (Errr… Edwardiana?) If they are going to go that way, go steampunk!

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Swashbuckling Kung Fu #TV #Nostalgia #UK

Remember sitting in comfortable pyjamas, fuelling yourself with sugary breakfast cereal and stretching Saturday mornings to midday watching shows like these? Nothing much has changed. };->

The Flashing Blade

Dick Turpin

The Water Margin (my favourite of these three themes, stirring, with a bit of Bond.)

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.tek: Get the URL Address of One of Your Tweets

Click on the time-stamp (positioned top right of your Tweet) and copy the URL in the address bar of your browser.

Source

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.tek: SuperVillainy Tips: Skip To A Specific Start Time of a #YouTube Video (@chezemonstre)

Want to create a link to a specific part of a YouTube video?

Get the full hyperlink to your YouTube video and add this to it:

#t=*m*s

For example, to skip the first 30 seconds of this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhQ6iySFv7g

Just add a bit to the end of the URL:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhQ6iySFv7g#t=0m30s

Source

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Bruce Willis

The debate as to whether Bruce Willis is a decent actor is an ongoing fight debate between me and my dad. (NB/ My position is that he can). Here’s a little interview after Bonfire of the Vanities was released back in 1990(!):

And here’s the opening of Bonfire (always cracks me up):

So his political leanings are, frankly, a bit awful, but if I was to take umbrage, how could I possibly explain being an apolitico who dresses to the left and listens to Wagner? They can’t all be George Clooney.

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The Zero Theorem: Interviews, Trailers Etc… From Around The Web (#SciFi #Movie)

Terry Gilliam:

Making of:

The trailer: via Reddit, via some mirror somewhere in the digiverse.

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A #Hell and #Damnation Filled Good Morning To All The #PunyHumans Out There! #VillainyPrevails #Rock #Metal

the-almost-number-of-the-beastAdmittedly, it’s a bit of a stretch (a 14,000 visitors sized stretch), but my visitor count this morning gives me the excuse for a little vintage Maiden to wake you people up.  (Not that there even needs to be an excuse to play some Iron Maiden).

Oh and good morning too.  Igor!  Prepare my medication.

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.tek Technobilge: #Apple, #iOS, #iPhone5s and Reebok Classics

With the iPhone 5s on its way, here’s a list of things that I think are still wrong with the iPhone, based on about a year-and-a-half of heavy iPhone 4s usage:

  • The old metal edges were pointlessly slippery, but at least robust. What is the point of using a soft metal like aluminium in high impact areas?
  • Glass strong, but far too easy to scratch, even from normal, careful use.  Utterly useless to have glass on the back of device.
  • Device is still awful in sunlight.  Yes, you can crank up the brightness, but screen is still too reflective.
  • Stupidly drawn-out navigation through menus.  For example, to turn 3/4G on or off.
  • Zero direct file-system access and umpteen other dumbo limitations leading to Jailbreaking on the increase if you can’t deal with the defaults, but just read this Forbes article.
  • Battery power is a joke! (All smartphone manufacturers are guilty of this one though).
  • iTunes. iTunes. iTunes.
  • And the soft shutter button for the camera!  Why is that not moveable?
  • iOS 7 looks very, very meh.

The only decent thing is how easy it is to develop for iOS compared to the complicated setup for Android development. But even this advantage is vastly diminished by Apple’s greedy strangle-hold on the iOS App marketplace.

Criticising Apple always feels futile and I’m pretty sure that I’ve said all the above elsewhere.  So to bring something new and constructive to the table, I’d like to draw attention to one last, but not unimportant gripe I have with Apple.  And that is the bottomless depth of my hatred for Tim Cook’s penchant for open-neck shirts.  If I can be weened off the evil that is Reebok Classics anything is possible.

reebok-classics

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Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD (1998)

I DO remember seeing this and thinking that the Hoff made a fairly credible Nick Fury (oh, just shut up).

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Justice League of America (1997)

I would have totally watched this show that was never picked up, but get a load of that Flash… hahahahahahaha!

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Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman

I’ve been humming this tune for the last hour… help!

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Wonder Woman Fan Film Trailer

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Its Show Time Folks!

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.tek: Privacy Concerns? Try Tor Mail #technology

In the light of various governments flexing their collective muscle, you might wish to consider using Tor Mail.  Tor Mail is an alternative mail service for those requiring greater confidence that their e-mails are not being traced.  Wikipedia:

“Tor Mail is a Tor hidden service that allows users to send and receive email anonymously, to addresses inside and outside Tor.”

How? To use Tor Mail, you will need to use the Tor Browser available here.  Now fire up the Tor Browser and head over to this page and follow the instructions.

Just remember, this does not mean that the e-mails are secure or encrypted, merely that users have anonymous IP entry and exit points to the Net when they use this service (as do all of Tor onion-routed services).  So don’t be mumbo dumbo and use personal details within the messages! (I don’t believe I actually have to say that).  If you want to encrypt your email, visit this site.

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.tek: Get Rid of Horrible New Gmail Inbox Tabs #technology

gmail-inbox-tabs

Go to Settings/Inbox and deselect all categories apart from primary (which is greyed out anyway).

Google! Leave my Gmail alone!  (And let’s not even talk about privacy!)

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Nightwing #TV Show: Grayson: Earth One #ComicBooks

Here is the Nightwing short:

The production team are currently looking for funding to make the show happen.

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Video Teasers for Upcoming: Battle of the Planets / Gatchaman / G-Force / Super Science Ninja Team Live Action Reboot #SciFi #UK

gatchaman-battle-of-the-planets-berg-zoltar Whatever the hell they are going to call it, the movie will be released on Saturday, August the 24th 2013 in Japan. As you can see, possibly the most unique supervillain of all time, Berg/Zoltar of Spectra, will return! Mwah hahahahahahaha! (See other BOTP/Gatchaman Posts.)

Source: new LinkedIn connection. Thanks!

g-force

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Biting Elbows: The Whole Story

This went viral two months ago and I only just noticed it this morning! Oh well, better late than never. FPS forever!

The Stampede (Prequel):

Bad MoFo:

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NEW #STORIES at Star Adventurer Magazine of #SciFi, #Fantasy, #Horror and #Pulp

We have just published another two pieces of fantastic fiction over at Star Adventurer Magazine:

I wrote Lollipop with these songs swirling around in my head:

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.tek: WWDC 2013 Videos #Apple


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Normal Services Resumed: Reviews for: A Good Day to Die Hard, Dark Skies, No One Lives, Rebellion in Next neRRRdcast

Subscribe via iTunes or RSS/Bookmark

New podcast coming soon with reviews for: A Good Day to Die Hard, Dark Skies, No One Lives, Rebellion etc…

rrr-small

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There Ought To Be A Law…

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All I'm Doing Today Is Writing

After the stress and frustrations of the last few days/weeks/months, not helped one iota by these nincompoops, all I’m doing today is writing.

Star Adventurer Magazine should be updated by tomorrow morning.

Bye for now.

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.tek Technobilge: PRISM + TPB Blocked Again, Sort of, In The UK

roys-angry-emoticon

That whole PRISM fiasco: what a joke!  Let’s face it, no entity, be it government, corporation, individual, whatever actually needs need permission to spy on anyone in the first place, I mean it’s called spyingThey just need to get away with it.  And forcing disclosure?  Don’t make me snort my breakfast cereal.  You know how that will end?  Here’s how: THEY will reveal this and then hide that other thing that’s even more secret behind the big reveal.

And last night, the usual farcical token blocking of the The Pirate Bay in the UK *Yawn* Zzzzzzz…

Let’s hope there’s some real news in the next few days.  Hopefully something involving the invention of tasty no-fat chocolate.

If you want a real thrill, read SAM, because who says you can’t have fun while Rome burns.

Shakespearos indeed

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Game of Thrones, Season 3 Finale

tyrion-season-3-finale

And that’s it until next year!

I think that HBO should have ended the season last week with that bloody and enormously powerful episode.  Can I possibly be the only one thinking that?  I think they just chickened out and didn’t want to end the season on a low.

Not being a reader of GRRM’s GOT novels, I can’t really say what will happen in the forthcoming seasons. Though we know that there’s definitely going to several huge ding-dongs involving the White Walkers, the remaining Starks against the Lannisters, Stannis Baratheon against both the Lannisters and the er… the other lot (???), the Iron Islanders… ahhh…, oh yes, they’ve gone to retrieve what bits of Theon still remain (ugh) and… okay that’s it, I give up, just about everybody is going to be attacking everybody.  Oh, and at some point Daenerys Targaryen’s going to wade in and incinerate the survivors with DRAGONS.  My final prediction is that Tyrion will eventually die horribly when he discovers that he is really quite an honourable and brave man after-all.  What an idiot.

When did fantasy become only about war?  I seem to remember that even Conan seemed to have a lot more fun than this unfortunate lot.

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Star Adventure Magazine is Now Fiction Only!

We moved all the non-fiction stuff, like reviews and trailers back to this blog as it didn’t seem to fit in with SAM’s the pulp fiction mag format.

Do you get feeling that SAM‘s constantly in beta? Hey! We’re learning here- just ask Google.

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New Trailer: Riddick

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PlayMobil and Ninjas!

Leaving the house can be hazardous with all that gorgeous loot out there ready to spirit cash away from the nerdly credit card.

playmobil-catalogue-and-ninja-book

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The Latest Great Gatsby #Movie #Trailers

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Trailers: Fast and Furious 6, The World's End, Captain Philips, Space Pirate Captain Harlock (Cars, Aliens and Pirates!)

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Facebook Chat Protocol Changes Bugger Up Chat Clients

If you use a third party chat client (I use the excellent Miranda IM to connect with ALL my chat services), you may have found that Facebook chat has suddenly stopped working.  Just head over to this link and check your connection settings.  Make sure that SSL/TLS is enabled in your chat client.  In Miranda IM, you can find these settings under the Options/Network menu.

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Update: Star Adventurer Magazine, neRRRdcast, Writing

Star Adventurer Magazine updates are on the way, both in the form of some minor tweaks to the site and new, pants-wettingly exciting stories.  Subscribe now!

You can also expect a new neRRRcast in a few days. Huzzah!

Now I have to get back to what I’m supposed to be doing instead of wittering on in this blog: WRITING!

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Iain Banks

I, along with many other fans, was stunned by the death of Iain Banks last night.  I have enjoyed both his science fiction and non-genre fiction (if you can call it that) for years. He leaves a black-hole sized gap in all of our bookshelves.  You can listen to whole episode of the neRRRcast dedicated to the work of Banks recorded only a couple of weeks ago with guest Scott Grandison of Comic Book Outsiders.

~ Condolences to the family of Iain Menzies Banks (1954-2013) ~

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Writing Submissions for Star Adventurer Magazine: Proofread Several Times Please

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I’m addressing this post to myself as well as those thinking of submitting to Star Adventurer Magazine, so please do not be offended.

I proofread and re-edited my last short-story, The Black Tower, for the final time and posted it up to the site yesterday. Then, in the evening, my mother pointed out several errors which I hastily corrected.  While doing this I noticed several more errors.

I think it is error-free now, but the point is that, as editor and publisher, I can always re-edit a post any time I choose.  You, however, will not have the luxury of that immediacy, so please try to ensure that the spelling, grammar and formatting are correct before submitting your work.

If you do notice errors that may have occurred during our transcription of your work to the magazine, please let us know and we will do our best to re-mediate the situation.

Just to remind anyone thinking of submitting:

Anything you send to us remains your own work; you retain full copyright.  You can pull a post, submit to other sites, sell your work to J.J. Abrams, whatever… any time you please.

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BacdaBLEEEEEEPup!

bacdafucup-onyxI rushed out yesterday after re-coding a bit of my personal webpage.  What I didn’t know is that I had deleted the lower half of the page with some kind of moronic flick of the careless finger.  Not only that, but I saved the page and uploaded it too.  When I returned home I realised what I had done, but “vim -r index.html” didn’t work.  Of course it didn’t.  The only backup I had was weeks old, so I had to sit there for hours trying to fix my own stupidity.  ALWAYS backup your important files.  Make a copy, use a VCS, or use the backup facilities in your CMS (look in your control panel in, for example, CPanel).

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New Nerdy Media Empire Reaching Warp Speed: Star Adventurer, neRRRcast etc… #SciFi, #Fantasy, #Horror, #UK

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Pardon the egotistical title of this post, but if I’m not going to blow my own trumpet, I doubt anyone else will either.

You can now:

  • Read our fantastic new genre magazine Star Adventurer.
  • Listen to the neRRRcast here or here.
  • Bookmark make this page to get all the latest news.
  • …And even follow me on this thing (if you are so inclined).

Join the bandwagon now: subscribe or contribute.

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Batten Down the Hatches: It's Writing Time!

captain-roys-flagOkay, I’ve slept, done the laundry, washing up and shopping, messed about with LinkedIn (thanks all 175 contacts), checked my email and fiddled with my social media.  Now The Captain is battening down the hatches and hiding away from the great and terrible temptation that is the internet to do some writing.  I have a second short story* to finish for the next meeting of our writers circle.  Check us out if you want a friendly natter with some writers.  Or at least before they throw me out.  Arghhh!

*The first is here.

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Captain's Log, Stardate… Eh… Dunno…: Upcoming Podcast, Short-Story Submissions, Extreme Bizziness

spocks-eyebrowI was going to be all clever and put in a “real” stardate using one of the many online calculators put up by trekkies.  But the only commonality between them is that they all come out with wildly varying dates.  This suggests two things.  Perhaps most trekkies are awful at maths.  Or JJ might actually be correct in his alternative universes thingy.  (I am a trekkie myself, so don’t write in with complaints… and I’m not getting into the whole “trekkie” vs “trekker” debate either).

Submissions to Star Adventurer Magazine have tapered off lately and most of great authors who contacted me are from across the pond.  Why is that?  Don’t you other sentients out there want to be published?

My lack of time due to other stressful and a, frankly, astonishing number of extraneous commitments means that the proposed extra podcast between now and the beginning of June is not happening.  The good new is that the next neRRRdcast will be another marathon one.  Apart from the regular items (movies etc…), the idea is that we (me and a mystery guest) chat about our favourite things, mostly from the world of nerdom… Kind of opposite to Room 101.  All double-plus-good stuff in fact!  Wunderbar!

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I've Gone LinkedIn Crazy

I’m pretty sure it won’t get me far, but I’ve gone potty on LinkedIn for the past couple of days.  So if you are sitting there, scratching your head, wondering why some bloke you’ve never heard of is trying to connect with you, here are the two possible reasons:

  • I think you can help me get more work (obvious).
  • I think your profile is cool (better).

Whatever the case, please to meet you etc…, but no need to worry, I’m not:

Though not for lack of trying.

Mwah ha.

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Spring Cleaning Chez Roy's

Mind you…

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.tek: Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station

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Star Adventurer Magazine: Please Read the Guidelines!

I cannot emphasise more strongly that prospective authors need to closely read the submission guidelines here.

Granted, they have been in a state of flux, because we are tweaking things, and you may have been caught out by changes.  However, please read them thoroughly each time you submit, and especially before you start writing your own, personal Necronomicon Ex Mortis. (Only joking, 2000 words maximum, please!)

Thanks for the stories and keep ’em coming!

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3, 2, 1… Star Adventuer Magazine is GO!

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A second story has been published… It took a while, but we ARE getting there!

A big thanks to all the authors who got in touch with us, and also for all the support we have received generally!

Lurid, Trashy, Glorious Pulp is back!

“Bring me my chainsword slave!  Now General, just point me at the human scum!”

FAZOOOOOOOOOOOOM

“Arghhh!” Screams Baliock the Berserker, Champion on the Noromian Empire, as his eight-foot frame is cut in two and crashes to the jungle floor in a bloody, smouldering heap.

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Star Adventurer Magazine: Update

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We are still attempting to get this sucker off the ground, but have relaxed the rules.

Now authors retain FULL copyright of their work and the word counts are going to be a little looser. On the other hand: no payments.  But think of this as a way to promote your work. We will be happy to include links to your personal websites and a short author bio with each story.

One last thing, please don’t think of this as a completely free ride to free advertising. In return for promoting your work, we want decent stories, otherwise the magazine will suck! More importantly, potential publishers (those people out there with moolah who are looking for the next JK or SK) will stop visiting.

Thankyou for bearing with us through this particularly difficult birth and, if after reading the revised guidelines, you think you have something to offer, please get in touch. We would particularly like to hear from first-timers and novice authors.

Read the new guidelines by visiting http://staradventurer.com/?page_id=8

Follow us at on Twitter @StarAdventurer or email star.adventurer.com@gmail.com

SAM

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Rules/Terms and Conditions for Submitting Work to Star Adventurer Magazine

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Please see revised rules.

Thanks

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My Morning Coffee

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Group Photograph: Our Writing Circle

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Don’t we look industrious, and that’s Cafe Elvira, not Vampira (unfortunately).

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BBC iPlayer #TV Movie #Review: Once (2007)

once-movie

One of the reasons I don’t watch tear-jerkers is that I so easily succumb to them. While I can withstand the rigours of quite the nastiest horror films in existence, movies with a high emotional content reduce me to a quivering wreck. Once is one such movie. It is the short, bitter-sweet story of the burgeoning romance between a busker and a new immigrant, both struggling to make ends meet whilst also dealing with some fairly hefty emotional baggage. Lovely film, but almost gave me a stroke after being pre-wrung-out by The Host. Catch Once on BBC iPlayer while it is still available. And, if you still require more cinematic brilliance that will have you sobbing into whole boxes of Man-Size Kleenex, seek out Alan Rickman’s and Juliet Stevenson’s Truly, Madly, Deeply.

I should study the Vulcan discipline of Kolinahr to purge all emotion before I suffer some lasting damage.

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#SciFi #Movie #Review With Some Spoilers: The Host

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I judge a movie largely by the quality of the story, and if we leave out the chick-flickiness aspect of this film, what we are left with is a highly original plot. Yes, it’s sort of Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, but played out to the Nth degree where some of the aliens switch sides. I also appreciate that the conceptual framework is well-realised. The fact that my mother enjoyed the movie immensely is possibly an even better indication of its worthiness.

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At the very least, this is possibly one of those useful films that male-nerds can take their non-nerd female partners to see.

Nice one Meyer.

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No-Spoiler #SciFi #Movie #Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

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I have just returned home from the Star Trek/Star Trek: Into Darkness double-bill at Cineworld in Crawley. The atmosphere was electric and both the staff and movie-goers were wonderfully enthusiastic. There was a raffle (that I did NOT win. Grrr) and at the end of the show, we were given a free poster.

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Star Trek themed cakes being sold for charity (St. Catherine’s Hospice).

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And now onto the movie. You know how tetchy I am about movies, so when I say I enjoyed it, you know that can mean only one thing: GO SEE IT! JJ must have been stung by criticisms of the first movie having a weak story because the plot in ID does keep you guessing for quite a while. The pace is also fantastic, as is the action and we get to see the Star Trek universe being reinvented in even more interesting, parallel, but slightly skewed angles than in the first movie. ID seemed very short, even though it was about two hours long, which must mean that I did not want it to end, which I didn’t. In fact I forced my accompanying friend to stay until the very last credits rolled off the screen.

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Great costumes ladies! (Your ears totally RAWK Vulcan science officer girl!)

Incidentally, the Gorn does feature.

LLAP.

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13,000 Visitors to this Blog!

See title! };->  Thanks for dropping by.

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.tek: Doom 3 BFG Installation Problems on Windows + Cube FPS Joy + Apple Firmware Updates #Gaming #Technology

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I finally got my hands on Doom 3 BFG this afternoon, but ran into some common problems after the installation:

  • First, the dreaded “xinput1_3.dll…” missing error.
  • Then the “Application Error: Unable to launch…”

Solution:

Cube FPS Joy: As well as playing Doom 3 on my new bootcamped Mac Mini, I’ve also been playing the excellent Cube FPSs and it’s variants which all seem to run fine on the Mac.

Apple Firmware Updates: Boot Camping the latest Mac Mini has left me with one last problem. The rEFIT boot menu I have installed to bring up the boot menu options, in the absence of a compatible keyboard, doesn’t show when the default boot OS is Windows. The only reason I have used rEFIT is to install whatever firmware updates Apple may issue for their hardware sometime in the future. The workaround is to select “Restart in Mac OS X” from the right-click context menu in the Boot Camp Systray icon and bingo, when the system reboots you should see the rEFIT boot menu. If you don’t, try a cold boot.

What are you looking at? Get fragging!

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YouTube Trawl: Power to the People! #UK #TV: Citizen Smith

I loved this show, I had a beret (donated to dad- scroll past clip) and mum used to call me Foxie.  (I also once tried to start a drunken revolution in Majorca while wearing the beret and shouting something horrible about Franco a few decades too late.  Oh well):

The beret-

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#Sick, #StarTrek: ID, Guy Hair, #Journalism, iBoneHead, #WordPress Keyboard Map

Sick: I managed to acquire some nasty bug after a fellow London Tube passenger managed to cough directly into my mouth.  Public Transport: what can I say?

Star Trek: ID: I have stocked up on Red Bull and caffeinated Lemsip for tomorrow night’s JJ double-bill IMAX extravaganza that I’m attending with a mate in Crawley, UK.  I suppose it doesn’t matter if I nod off a bit for the first movie, but I’m sure I’ll be wide awake for the second.  I have dug out my big, nerdy Avengers Assemble 3D specs for the occasion.  That should nicely disguise the big, nerdy glasses I wear every day.

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Guy Hair: I finally attacked my greying thinning mane, Satan Claws beard and other diverse and disgusting guy-hair (I’m not even going there) with various cutting tools that included, I believe, a McCulloch and I’m now passing vaguely for one of you puny humans.  I’ve given up for the moment, on my evil-Spock goatee, until I find a hair dye that doesn’t attempt to eat my face.  I also lopped off my head-hair, but I’m not sure that I have done the right thing as I have a wonderfully, villainous Vetenari(sh) widow’s peak. Oh well, shouldn’t take long to grow out.

Journalism: Sick of not finding a job, I’ve decided to start my NCTJ training by distance-learning.  I’m also applying for NUJ membership so I can get a freelancer’s press-pass.  Yes, I’m looking, so if you have a job… Oh and by the way, before you attempt to offer me an appalling rate- I have now found the London Freelancers’ rate comparison page.

iBoneHead: My iPhone properly crashed today after I received an aborted  phone call.  Don’t know why!  Hard reboot fixed it.

WordPress Keyboard Map: If you find your keyboard not working properly in WordPress or any web form/app, e.g. the @ and ” symbols getting swapped or the # symbol disappearing, check out the language bar. Some apps can swap your keyboard map!  How stupid is that?

Cook, Ives, Baker, Mullenweg‎, Ballmerrrrrrrrr!!!

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More Family Deaths

My uncle, Rubyshankar Mathur 1927-2013 (below right sitting with my father to the left), died about a week ago.

An ex-discipline sergeant in the army, ex-headmaster, ex-peanut farmer (in that order), I remember my uncle particularly well because we both shared, in equal measure, both creativity and eccentricity.

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When I was small, I once helped him cover his house in plastic sheeting to stop a tropical rain storm flooding his house. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect and collected water that, of course, completely inundated the building.

On another occasion, when I was older, we had a long, head-spinning discussion about time-travel, paradoxes, loops and alternate universes in the public garden outside Quatre-Bornes library.

Then, a few days ago, on the 3rd May 2013 at Pailles, there was a bus accident. Ten people were killed, including my uncle’s daughter, and forty injured on their way to Port Louis from Vacoas.

Life is transient and unpredictable, but memories are priceless. Remember those who have passed in stories. Write them down, tell them to friends and strangers alike.

Mauritius, 2013

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.tek(nomagery) Tip for #Podcasting Using #Skype

I used Skype for the most recent neRRRdcast and the results have been a bit variable.  The main problems are that sometimes the voices merge or are mistimed, cued, whatever.  I’m not sure if this is a problem with 3rd party Skype recording apps (I have tried two) or with Skype itself.  A quick Google seems to indicate that my troubles are far from unique.

If you are experiencing similar problems here is the simplest ghetto solution I can think up:

Next time you want to record your Skype conversation use an external recorder of some kind.  With an iOS device try ClearRecord, otherwise use any wav capable digital recorder and simply record the conversation (the other person via the speaker + your voice).

Same with recording audio trailers from the computer- just sit still while your external recorder records audio from your speaker.

Pros: No weird echoes, no feedback, no EM noise and proper separation of audio sources.

Cons: Environmental background sound.

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.tek: Woe, Woe and Thrice Woe: Installing Windows on a Late 2012 Model Mac Mini With Boot Camp #tech #apple

Apple hardware running as it was meant to: with DOS(Box)!

Norton Commander:

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…AND Gabriel Knight:

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I bought the cheapest Mac Mini from PC World a few days ago to replace my horribly underpowered, top-of-the-range HP NetBook.  And (shock-horror), the thing was actually cheaper than almost any PC of equivalent spec and no delivery hassles either.

Can’t Touch This! After a day of use, I realised that I would have to make so many compromises to my workflow and favourite appz using Mac OS X (Mountain Lion) that I simply had to use Windows or Linux as my primary OS.

Boot Camp Woes: Linux was out given the number of workarounds required, so I went straight for Windows 7 64bit Ultimate.  BUT, after plugging everything into the new Mac, Boot Camp Assistant refused to work.  Various error dialogue boxes popped up and, despite a combined 8 hours of effort by support staff from PC World and Apple, nothing worked.  Apple and PC World have told me that there is “an issue for some users” of Late 2012 model Mac Minis and Boot Camp. Wunderbar.

Solution: By much trial-and-error (and long, loud streams of profanity) I worked out what to do by myself.  With your Mac Mini off and unplugged, disconnect every single peripheral apart from your keyboard, mouse and monitor.  If using a wired keyboard, plug it into the USB port nearest the ThunderBolt port (via a generic PS2-to-USB adaptor if necessary).  You will also need a 4GB+ USB thumb-drive (I had luck with a cheap HP one from WHSmiths) to create your Windows installation drive using the Boot Camp Assistant.  That’s it and that’s all, Boot Camp Assistant should now allow you to start your Windows installation.

Explanations:

  • Disconnect everything you don’t need, because some external hard drives can severely screw up Boot Camp Assistant; the error message Mac OS X returns will not tell you this!
  • For keyboards, the USB port nearest the ThunderBolt port is the only one that can possibly accept boot options, especially if you are using a PC  keyboard.  I use a mechanical pre-Windows 95 PC 102 UK keyboard.  Anyway, in theory when you boot and hold down the ALT key you should be greeted with the Apple boot menu options.  Pah!  I said “in theory” because this has only ever worked once.  The software alternative is to install rEFIT or rEFInd on the Mac OS X portion.  I used the older rEFIT app.  Google it.  Once installed, completely switch off your Mac Mini, pause and then power it up again and you will now be greeted with a boot menu allowing you to select which partition to boot including the Mac’s recovery thingy. Handy and saves you buying a Mac keyboard.
  • Thumb drive? Well, Boot Camp Assistant refused to recognise the Windows 7 installation disk.  Duhhh!

Other Tips:

  • You can only install the 64bit versions of Windows 7 with Boot Camp.  You can install Windows 8 too, but 8 sux.
  • Incidentally, the spanking new USB 3.0 ports to the rear of the Mac Mini are stupidly underpowered and you may have an issue using some portable external hard drives unless you they are plugged into a powered hub.  Those cheap Tosh external HDDs that so many cheapskates (like me) are using are notorious for not working with the Mac Mini.
  • Non-Apple Fanbois and Grrls Rejoice!  The only part of my  setup that is properly Apple is the Mac Mini itself and I am now running Windows 7 natively.  All my peripherals are a smörgåsbord of third-party PC gear but, touch wood, everything has been working for a day with no problems.  The system is remarkably quiet too and, more importantly, I should be able to run Doom 3 at medium rez + DOSBox rulez.
  • Leave 100 GB for the Mac OS X portion.
  • Conclusion: Apple have made a right pig’s ear of the trying to entice ex-PC users.  The “it just works” mantra only applies to using exclusively Apple hardware and software.  Everything else is a bit hit and miss.  Tim, do your job; walk straight into the testing department in Cupertino and fire some testers and engineers.  If you can’t, please employ me to wield the axe.