21 May 2009

Custodio ipsos custodes

//My film review of Watchmen has been sitting in an unfinished state for a good long time, pushing 2 months; time to wrap it up.//

One of my first acts on arriving home for the Easter break was, naturally, to go see the Watchmen film. This post won't be a linkage affair, as the overload of wiki was covered in this previous post. So, like with 007 Quantum of Solace, here comes "Dobblesworth does Movie Reviews: Watchmen."

The cinema in Newcastle was rather empty when we went; but this being a Monday evening a week after general release, I suppose there wasn’t much of a market for that showing. Loading up on my traditional choice of a large Coke and tub of Maltesers, we settled down for 3hrs of “yet another Marvel/DC Comics movie adaptation”. Sadly we were in a rush leaving for the cinema, but I would have liked to have brought my copy of the graphic novel with me, to read along and compare dialogue, camera shots & plot; I had read that Snyder had essentially used the book as his film’s storyboard and draft script, which critics have either warmly praised or coldly derided.

On the whole I thought the adaptation was done well. Overall Snyder did follow the source material in a faithful manner, and he certainly pulled out a great film as a result of it. It certainly deserved that 18 rating; cinematic violence probably equals or surpasses 300, and that’s saying something. 300 could counter that with a more joyous heroic plot, whereas this is just down-and-dirty vigilante heroes of the 80’s. I suppose seeing Dr. Manhattan’s blue wang a good deal of the time has its effect, but in the majority of shots it’s neither frontal nor showing his lower anatomy in any case.

Rambling thoughts...

- Exclusion of “Tales of the Black Freighter” didn’t bother me; the film was a good enough standalone item.

- There was a slight divergence from the source material to give a plot twist at the end. The “psychic apocalypse squid” was a crazy addition to the initial graphic novel and an actual bomb device is a bit more fitting for the post-9/11 modern age. Gives a more apt reason for Doc Manhattan to bugger off rather than simply being a tad bored and disenfranchised with Earth.

- Wonderful opening cinematic. Nice combo of “Now these times, they are a-changing” with the flashbacks of ‘how the times change progressively from when masked vigilantes take up arms until they are eventually killed off or forced underground’. Good addition of character development for the various previous ‘Minutemen’ members. Can’t remember them directly, but I remember The Lesbian, The Insane Dude who got shipped to an asylum, and The Caped One who was legitimately pwned after getting it stuck in a revolving door.

- Noticed an omission of Alan Moore from opening credits. Mentioned “original source graphic novel by Dave Gibbons”, but no Moore, as to be expected I suppose.

- Prison corridor fight scene was particularly [EPIC]. One of the particular points where the Snyder influence was glaring, with the parallel camera motion, exaggeration of combatant blood loss, and the clever slow motion fluctuation. Seeing some goon’s femur break in 26 places is four times more satisfying when it’s half as fast.

I’m not enough of a critical reviewer to give a more expanded judgement, but on the whole I was impressed. A concluding point I’d like to make: I don’t know whether I should embrace or cower from the fact I was semi- lip synching the film script that had been copypasta’d from the book...

... Embrace it I reckon!

13 May 2009

Don't worry, I'm still here

It's been a while since I last posted on my blag, and I feel guilty as I have several topics in the pipeline, sitting as half-finished Word documents on my hard drive. I might do a posting spree at some point, but finding the time is difficult.
On the cards are my forays into Ubuntu Linux (codenamed "Ubunwha?"), Eurovision 2009 (it hits us this weekend), a film review of Watchmen (which I saw over 2 months ago now), then probably some random spiel about stuff on the iPlayer I view these days (e.g. the cluster-fuck of a plotline that is Heroes). Oh, and that "Blog Fu" topic I should have done yonks back, hehe. And finally, the momentous occasion of my easter vacation, when my hard drive crashed.

Cambridge has hit Easter Term, mostly known as Exam Term to anyone who isn't on a slacker subject like Land Economy, so certain things have to take priority sadly.

Image of choice is xkcd's 'Useless' T-shirt, which I have been meaning to order for a while, and now have a more compulsive desire to. The first four items I have known for a minimum of two years now (matrices being the last of the four I encountered), but now the engineering mathematics lectures have hit the 5th and final one - Laplace Transformations. Filled with the power of ornate L notation! Side note: the comic strip original goes for a Fourier Transform.

You may also want to know that I post intermittently on Twatter... Dobblesworth resides here in the tweetiverse.


5 Apr 2009

It's our problem-free, democracy! Oh no wait...

Here's a little applet I saw posted to the Conservative Party's Facebook profile. Being a future voter for Team Cameron, whenever the next election turns up and assuming the veritably awesome Monster Raving Loony Party do not put a candidate in my local area, and being a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association (equally awesome), I figured it'd be fun to add. So yes, viewers, visitors to Blog Title Under Construction will see that Dobblesworth has a certain share of the national debt as a result of briefcases of cash being offloaded to institutions like the Northern Rock and the RBS Pension Fund, which as of posting amounts to twenty-two thousand, two hundred and fifty-nine pounds, and fifteen pence. Fun.

27 Mar 2009

Project Title Under Construction

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt your internet browsing experience for a potentially important announcement.

My associate Noelor and I have been considering the launch of a new project. This project is as yet untitled, but the concept we have in mind is fairly solidified. Essentially we intend to carry out a blogging version of the ‘Masters of Song Fu’ contest through our respective sites. This was an online contest participated in by the legendary geek folk artist Jonathan Coulton [see subscription bar on the right], who likes to inform us that all he wants to do is eat your brains. So, here's the lowdown:

At either defined periods, or whenever the hell we feel like it, a discussion topic shall be agreed upon between the two of us. Then both shall depart to Notepad/MS Word/OpenOfficeWriter/other text editor of choice and proceed to compose thoughts and feelings on the topic. Still, a few things remain to be decided...

Project title? Noelor has proposed “Blog off”; I’ve managed to come up with “Blog Fu” so far. Maybe one, both or neither shall be used, but I have other ideas. I'm thinking a potentially witty merge & subversion of both our blog titles. Potent Rant Titles Constructed? Or maybe not.

Choice of topic? They would need to be unique and interesting, not "should WoW bring in Classic Realms?"; something both can talk easily about, i.e. if the topic were “random pen ‘n’ paper RPG”, he’d make a dissertation of it, while I’d probably just type “LOL DND” and leave it at that.
You’ll probably see stuff like the certain memes crawling over WoW blogs these days like “post your 6th screenshot in your folder.” That’s a bit difficult for me, as up until 2006-ish WoW saved its screenshots in Targa (.tga) file format, before switching to JPEG. About half that folder on my desktop is .tga. Which proves how long I’ve been playing WoW/how much of my soul I have signed over to Activision-Blizzard [delete as applicable from your perspective].

So yes, if you have ideas, comments or suggestions, use the relevant box or toss an e-mail. Keep you posted, we shall.

22 Mar 2009

The State of Society

In my opening rant I expressed the desire to use Blog Title Under Construction as an engine for spouting off against society and its delinquents, or just a general moan about the decline of my fondness for life in these British Isles. Up until now I'd remained rather mute and apathetic to it all. But two events in the past day or two have sparked off my will to vent my spleen in a fitting zealous manner.

Issue #1: The 'War' on 'Terror'
While commuting into town yesterday for necessary “Over-commercialised Mothering Sunday” shopping, the following advert (most likely produced by some ‘Ministry of Truth’-esque division of The Home Office) was being played on local radio...

Narrator: This is the sound of your generic charv-infested, dark, dingy, booze-laden nightclub, when a bomb doesn’t go off...

*The sounds of drunken partygoers, music, dancing and the downing of many shots of vodka can be heard, as you do.*

N: ... because two weeks earlier, a hypersensitive civilian, lulled into a constant state of panic by the media & government, reported a neighbour storing the chemicals in his garden shed, used to make the bomb.

[This is perfectly rational and respectable. A line can be drawn between bomb-component fertiliser (50 bags) - I think it's ammonium nitrate they use for cheap kaboom... - and "Yarp just ferteeloisin mei plants in the green'ouse, yarp" fertiliser (5 bags)]

Part two...

N: This is the sound of a busy shopping centre during peak hours, when a bomb doesn’t go off, but it’s strange that we would care anyway, as the only lives lost would be the unemployed charvs living off state ‘incapacity’ benefits in a council estate...

*As before we hear the sounds of your average shopping centre during blissful weekend shopping hours, the cacophony of random chatter and cash registers in action.*

Now here comes the bit that really irks me.

N: ... all because a few days earlier another honourable citizen reported suspicious activity to the police, specifically a random person studying the surveillance cameras.

There then followed a brief period of guilt-tripping from The Powers That Be, requesting we report any suspicious events to a national terrorist hotline, and that no-one should be reliant on others to do it, lest another 7/7 comes around the corner. This is all well and good. I have nothing against Our Benefactors offering a service for me to say “Hi, erm, just thought you might wanna know that I’ve seen chaps with Irish accents daubing ‘Real IRA’ slogans on their fences, waving the Green-White-and-Gold and taking Catholic Communion with AK-47’s in hand”, if it is within the public’s interest and might save a few lives.

But seriously, come on, “studying CCTV cameras”? Any randomer in the street can do that freely out of curiosity with no bad intentions; I have done so on several occasions just to consider overall coverage fields and what-not. This doesn’t make me want to run berserk with my Kalashnikov firing pot-shots at my pre-located camera targets, however. Any terrorist committed towards their Seventy-Two Virgins would be a bit more discrete than standing in front of a bank of cameras wearing sunglasses and wielding a pen & notepad anyway.

So yes, to conclude: I am all fine-and-dandy with some anti-terrorism legislation and government propaganda to keep the proletariat in line, voting for New Labour and not running around like headless chickens. I’m not fine with such outrageous claims and paranoia that technical curiosity is pure hardcore terrorist activity. It’s not on Gordon, just not on.

Moving on...

Issue #2: Jade ‘Minger’ Goody

As the Max Clifford-controlled media has no doubt informed you by now, a certain cretin going by the name of Jade Goody has passed away after some form of terminal cancer, really couldn’t care less which variety, apparently cervical, but regardless, she has 'kicked the bucket', “run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible”, popped her clogs and will shortly be six feet under. Good riddance.

Oh cancer's horrendous, I understand. I lost a grandparent to it as a child, and another person rather close to me managed to pull through diagnosis and treatment of it in recent past. But there's still a certain something about the b**** that doesn't quite let her get away with it by playing the "LOL I haz terminel canker" card, not in my book.

I must be one of the few rational people in this nation left, as I think I’m one of a noble minority who are glad to see her go. It’s a truly depressing country we live in if people looked up to this woman, specifically a racist dim-witted plebeian whose claim to fame is appearance on reality television, itself a mockery of culture from the get-go. Channel 4 & Big Brother and their ilk can f*** right off for all I care. Congratulations for dumbing down society and making references to a 'Big Brother (Orwellian & 1984) surveillance society' a memory jog for 'lolomg diaray ruum', come on chaps, take a bow!

I really don’t get it. I even heard newsbytes of how Gordon Brown has praised her courageous nature. Courage, yeah, she smiled for the cameras whilst being a tad bald in a disgusting lilac wedding dress while getting her deathbed proceedings bankrolled by The Sun, OK! and all the other red top tripe. I hope to Cthulhu that Mr. Brown did not say that out of true respect and admiration for a random woman who died to cancer, but rather said what the proles wanted him to say to win their votes, that is if he ever feels like holding a general election, which ought to be due next spring. For a prime minister whose goals are to extol the greatness of Britain, it brings the whole political system crashing down if he goes to lay flowers at this pathetic 'culture' icon’s grave. I honestly feel like gate-crashing the twat's funeral with a burst of good ol' Rick Astley. Or maybe a 4chan flashmob of V For Vendetta masks.

It is imperative that this be stressed: having cancer, or any terminal illness, does not absolve you of your past transgressions. As a deist I’m not saying this from a religious viewpoint, I’m saying it from a vaguely humanist perspective, the perspective of someone shocked and appalled at the glossing over of this berk’s racist jabs and various other things wrong with her, which hardly made her a model for society, all out of sympathy and respect for this poor, poor soul who'll be given her last rites. The word celebrity is derived from celebrate; to be a celebrity is to be celebrated for your talents and skills, not to earn fame and fortune from being a fluent speaker in the native tongue of the Charv, and inquiring to a TV producer whether you were, in fact, “a minger”.

Too many are saying rest in peace; I say Rest In Pieces. I hope others do too.

Someday I’ll get out of this decrepit hellhole, but I’m not entirely sure as of yet where to relocate to. To put it simply, the state of this United Kingdom sickens me sometimes. I’ve been told I’m too young to be a cynic, but someone’s got to do it. It’s hard to be optimistic about this world. At least not about the world I’m looking at.

Goodnight Britain. Would the last sane person to leave please turn off the lights? Thankyou.

18 Mar 2009

Blogging the Roll; Rolling the Blog

I felt it was time to get BTUC fleshed out a bit, so what I believe they call "a blogroll" in the lingo has now been compiled. So on the right-side you'll see a listing of weblogs that I follow: a mix of those from the World of Warcraft community, professional opinion from BBC News & The Times, and also some random ones like a fan-produced news-blog for the Cloverfield film of 2008.

The second listing is a spread of various webcomics from several genres: WoW, gaming, or nerd humour in general. Listed here too are database and search engine tools I find useful in WoW or the Internet as a whole, and links to several one-off sites that I whole-heartedly recommend.

N.B. I am in no way being paid to plug these sites, I'm just boosting their traffic out of the kindness of my heart.

I'm currently working on some form of basic banner image and logo for the site, but the WoW Model Viewer software I feel obliged to use is rather temperamental. Stay tuned, readers.

The Audacity of Soap

Disclaimer: This is in no way a post on politics, Barack Obama, or his book The Audacity of Hope. It is merely... "Thoughts on the 4-hour Commute up the A1 (North) from Cambridge". I just so happened to be reading that book in the car.

So yes, Saturday March 14th I packed up several bags & boxes worth of textbooks, clothes and the random paraphernalia that a Cambridge nerd needs to make his assigned room feel like home. I then proceeded to hit the road in father's Audi, then load up the sat nav and my 'Generic Player of Digital Media'. I say such terms because a) I never use Apple products so it's no jPod, & b) it doesn't just play .mp3 music, but also some video files, .wma etc.

Random events of the journey...

- Glancing at the satnav at a random point in the journey, shortly after passing Girton, I noticed that we were passing the settlement of "Lolworth". I find this particularly 'lolworthy' enough to document.

- Exchange between my dad and I while passing the below-mentioned landmark...
"There's nothing that welcomes me back more to Newcastle than the Angel of the North."
"Despite it being in Gateshead."

I thought I had more to say about the journey, but I guess I don't. Either that or it's all faded to dust.

14 Mar 2009

Happy Pi Day

I would like to take the time to wish my fellow geeks & nerds a Happy Pi Day.

While this year I was unable to consume any pie, this day being the day of my travelling down from Cambridge/back north to Newcastle, I observed the 'more rational' Pi Minute at 1:59 pm with my digital watch alarm alert. On second thoughts, it's a pretty poor word to use in the same sentence, as since when is Pi ever rational?

Attached is a photo of my celebrations last year, where I crudely inscribed that lovable table in the Greek alphabet into a (steak I believe) pie. The cake may be a lie, but the pie is the truth.

You might question why I bother with March 14th. I must agree with such criticisms. As an engineer, Pi is never 3.141592653..., nor is it "well it's about 3, innit". It's either 1 or 5, depending on which side we want the safety factor.

You'd also question why I should do the American day of March 14th, which reads 14/3 in the UK fashion. I will be indulging in 22nd July celebrations, or Pi Approximation Day [22 divided by 7 being 3.142857143...], but I guess PAD doesn't have as much scope for pie and American dominance has its effect too.

12 Mar 2009

"... and in the game!"

A dear friend and colleague of mine, alias Noelor, has joined the Web 2.0 scene and the Blogger Bandwagon. Like myself, he's a strong fanatic for World o' Warcraft and currently taking a vaguely-CompSci-ish course in the Devolution Paraside of Scotland. I don't quite know which of our two interblags will come out with the higher readership turnover (besides us ourselves reading our subscriptions to our counterpart's RSS feed); possibly mine as I shamelessly export Blog Title Under Construction to my Facebook notes!

Regardless, his 'domain' can be found here: http://thenoelor.blogspot.com/

I think two posts on BTUC in the space of a day is a new personal best.

Engineering Humour

Second term (Lent Term) of first year (Part IA) of my Engineering course (Tripos) is drawing to a close. The Cambridge week ends on a Wednesday, starting on a Thursday. Lectures and courses finished yesterday, having started on a Thursday eight weeks beforehand. heading home to Newcastle is restricted by college residence requirements until Friday, but I shall be loading up and hitting the road on Saturday. So essentially I'm in dossing mode, having finished supervisions for the term.

Final supervision was focusing on the wonderful world of Digital Circuits, Combinational Logic & Boolean Algebra.

As is the case of supervisions where you show up with little to no difficulty with the material, discussions often get sidetracked into wider real-world applications and systems. Talk of CMOS brought up its competitor, Bipolar Transistors. They are hereby dubbed "Stephen Fry Transistors"* © {Dobblesworth Inc. 2009}.

A previous quote of mine was...
"I can't wait for the day when they decide to release Thévenin Internet Security."** [Also © Dobblesworth Inc. 2009, to stop software companies getting their grubby paws on it.]

If/when I have further flashes of wit and inspiration, I'll be sure to share them with you.

* - Stephen Fry, Alumnus of Queens' College Cambridge, has bipolarity disorder.
{Afterthought, not so much an Edit} - Wi'pedia tells me he only has the milder form 'Cyclothymia'. Ah well, learn something new every day.

** - Norton Internet Security, produced by Symantec.
'Norton' is also used in electronics and electrical engineering to denote a certain theorem of consideration of linear circuit networks. Its counterpart is 'Thévenin', which gives you a perfectly equivalent representation of the same chunk of electronics stuff in your network.