December 26th, 2012
I saw the new Les Misérables movie this evening. I was more than impressed. Hooper did a magnificent job directing (the all close-up style as discussed by the New York Times does actually enhance the experience, and does grow on you during the course of the movie), while the all star cast was phenomenal. In particular, Russell Crowe was outstanding as Inspector Javert, perfectly portraying his blind enforcement of the law, as well as his later epiphany. I would say Javert, in particular, is better played on screen by Crowe than in the live stage performance I have seen. Overall I really loved this movie. Les Mis. is one of my all-time favorite musicals, and I know most of the songs from memory. I sadly also fancy that I have reluctantly played the role of Eponine (ever unrequited) more often in my life than either of Marius or Cosette, which is perhaps why I find the story so moving. The new movie adaptation has inspired me, and I shall most likely see the live version again when next I am in London.
Hugh Jackman is an excellent Jean Valjean, convincingly portraying the turned-to-the-light Frenchman who is ever in the right. Eddie Redmayne is a solid Marius Pontmercy, while Amanda Seyfried is a convincing Cosette (whose role is always surprisingly smaller than you would expect). I enjoyed Samantha Barks as Eponine. Her delivery of “On My Own” was excellent. I much preferred that to Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream”, but that piece has so much to live up to that it’s hard to be outstanding any more. Hathaway provided an outstanding performance otherwise. Crowe and Jackman nearly steal the show as far as vocal performance, with the exception of Seyfried, who was also excellent. Both Daniel Huttlestone (the boy urchin) and Isabelle Allen (the young Cosette) are adorably good. I was not as impressed with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. While they were solid performances, I was left wondering whether they were cast more for the benefit of audience entertainment (in which the reaction was anticipated – audience laughter did greet them on several occasions).
Overall, this adaptation is excellent. You should see it, even if you have not seen it performed on stage. But a point of housekeeping. Please stay at home if you are not interested in enjoying the movie, or appreciating the story. If you’d rather be playing a video game or watching MTV, don’t be the guy who fell asleep and snored in the theater during the performance this evening, or the countless others who couldn’t keep quiet for a couple of hours. The cultural experience was largely lost on them.
December 20th, 2011
UPDATE: For more information, consider joining #kmod on Freenode. Development is using the existing email@example.com mailing list.
The team at ProFUSION (and other helpful contributors) have done an awesome job at quickly turning the Plumber’s Wishlist for Linux kernel module loading library item into reality. libkmod is linkable into udev, will speed up module loading, and has a stated goal of remaining backward compatible with the existing behaviors already present within module-init-tools. Therefore, the average user should notice nothing other than an improved in module load times in switching to the replacement library. Those features not yet present in libkmod will be added over the coming weeks. The new library could do with some testing on non-x86, bi-endian, and will need some further thoughts around index cacheing (e.g. within long-lived processes), but is ready enough for wider use. To find out more about the library, visit the initial blog posting from the ProFUSION team:
November 30th, 2011
We are entering a very dark and dangerous time for humanity. The rise of social media and the mediocre web (in which everyone’s voice, no matter how uninformed, is equal) can be a very positive change for good. Connecting people in far flung parts of the world allows “iReports”, leaks, government suppression, and many other issues to come to light. But at the same time, those who seek the utter demise of traditional media represent some of the most uninformed malignants who will cause great harm to our country, and to the wider world at large.
Traditional news media, like the New York Times is under constant threat from those who seek its destruction and replacement with mindless crap written in 140 characters or less. Regurgitated opinion of the collective Tweeters of the world will not create media outlets in war zones, or fund researchers to trawl through years of government records. Wikileaks alone will not displace the need for professionally, carefully presented (fair) treatment of horribly offensive abuses of the governments of the world. RSS aggregation of news media and proliferation of links online has been phenomenal in disseminating news and readers such as those available from Google (and others) have presented it well. But all of these news stories ultimately come from somewhere real, somewhere tangible, somewhere less Web 2.0 and more “real world 1.0″. Take the Times (and a few others) out of the picture and you’ll quickly notice the dearth of good quality news sources available for others to regurgitate.
This is why I have two subscriptions to the New York Times. I pay for my quality journalism, and I pay double (or many times more) what some others pay because I care that the United States paper of record remain in business. Those of us who care must band together to disrupt and undermine others who seek to destroy quality journalism and replace it with mediocre populist nonsense of the kind favored by contestants on Reality TV shows. Is this elitist? Absolutely. It is absolutely the case that most people don’t care about the minitia reported in the Times, about the investigative undercover stories, and about the analysis that goes into them. Most care more about what some famous moron said today or which YouTube video is hot. And that’s ok. Let them eat cake, and let them enjoy it too. But don’t take away quality news from those of us who are interested in knowing what’s really going on in the world.
October 3rd, 2011
I bought a Spotify subscription recently. I like the concept, and the Android app is just about usable (though not an Apple-level application at this point). What is really driving me nuts is that, if you fall into the trap of registering with your Facebook account (they present it as a single-sign-on option, but really it’s to push the integration), Spotify goes into a special obnoxious mode wherein it insists that you always have the app installed in your Facebook account. Changing permissions on the app or removing its ability to post to your account only invites an error – especially in the second case, wherein it will bug you *every* time you play a track that you don’t have it in your timeline. Do my friends really care /that/ much about what I’m listening to that they can’t choose to follow my last.fm and leave it at that?
I’ve tried complaining to Spotify, asking how to switch my account to the non-Facebook mode (that hopefully just plays songs, like I paid for). I have heard nothing yet. My next recourse will be to complain to Facebook that Spotify have an app that is malicious and should be removed from the site. I suspect that would then get a customer service reply from Spotify. Not my preferred means to make contact and get this fixed, but certainly an option.
October 3rd, 2011
So my girlfriend had a couple of outstanding parking tickets (actually, not her tickets or mine, but that’s a long story) and her car got booted. Excessive, but ok. What’s not ok is that they did this last thing on a Friday afternoon (4:40pm), right after their office closed for the week at 4:30pm, then gave her two tickets for failing to move her car over the weekend.
This kind of thing happens because busybodies run around generating revenue the City is too scared of generating using alternatively sane means (by increasing taxes) and so it has gotten the parking situation out of control. It’s ludicrous to hold someone’s car hostage and then charge them for failing to move that car without any third option. This isn’t the first thing Boston has done to annoy me along these lines.
It’s important to realize cities like Boston only understand things that impact tax revenues. Moving to Boston next year is very unlikely as a result – they don’t need to generate revenue from me, they’re waving neon signs saying “we’re unreasonable, don’t live here”.
October 1st, 2011
So I was waiting this afternoon for my annual Massachusetts State Safety and Emissions test. This is mandated by this state, as well as most others. The precise details of the test vary, but the mechanics are identical, using an industry (and government) standardized connector and protocol, OBD-II. Thanks to standards, consumers don’t have the following little scenario that played out in my head as I was waiting:
consumer: “I’m here to get my car inspected”
mechanic: “ok, which model car do you have?”
consumer: “The frobulator 9000, second edition, build number 29785, release 27, from yesterday”
mechanic: “ah, yes, I remember it well. Unfortunately, that’s ancient history at this point. Yea. Last night, we got this awesome idea that we’d rewrite the whole thing…but don’t worry, in a few years it’s gonna be awesome!”
consumer: “dude, I just want my car inspected…”
This is a scenario that plays out all too often in the Linux community. Not ubiquitously. There are many of us who understand the true value of longevity, standards, and consumer demand. But there are also many who are losing sight of how consumers actually work, and what they actually want. What they want is not a moving target, they want rigid “just works and I don’t care” as their modus operandi. Let’s hope we can get more of our very own OBD-II standards, defined as an entire industry through pragmatic agreement between everyone involved.