Friday, December 30, 2005


Just Seen: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Finally. We'd only been trying to see it for three weeks.

I had been really impressed with Alfonso CuarĂ³n's directing style for the last Harry Potter movie (the Prisoner of Azkaban), and I was please that Mike Newell decided to keep the same look and feel for Goblet of Fire.

Goblet of Fire, for anyone who hasn't read the series, is the point where things start to get really interesting for Harry and his friends. I heard somewhere that when Spielberg was considering directing the series, he wanted to roll the first three books into one movie, so they could get to Goblet of Fire quickly.

The story is pretty much the same as pretty much every year at Hogwarts for Harry - he arrives at school admid rumours of badness happening, he has to deal with his homework, he and his friends have a fight, Lord Voldermort appears in some form or other, Harry manages to survive, the school year finishes. Rinse and repeat.

Goblet of Fire is a pretty massive book, so they script writers took to it with an axe. Gone is pretty much everything that isn't essential to the main plot. Not that it was a bad thing, although I wonder if I'd have been scratching my head about anything had I not read the book.

I probably can't say enough good thigns about this movie. Visually it was beautiful. It's always nice seeing characters come to life on the big screen. I felt for (and at times wanted to slap some of) the characters just as much as I do when I read the story. And Ralph Fiennes was a great pick for Lord Voldermort.

So yeah, bring on Order of the Pheonix!

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Just Read: Ice Station

Ice Station was the first book by Matthew Reilly that most people saw (his first book, Contest, was originally self-published, and so didn't get a giant print run). It was also a massive hit in Australia. I'd been keen to read it for years, since it seemed right up my alley - a team of marines is sent in to investigate remote antarctic base where they may have just found a UFO.

Reilly's philosophy of storytelling is simple. Action movies are lots of fun. And since you don't have to worry about a special effects budget in a book, why not go all out? So Ice Station, as you'd expect, is pretty much a roller coaster ride of gun fights, explosions, improbably coincidences and kick-arse heroes.

Oh, and it's lots of fun.

My biggest criticism of Ice Station is that a lot of the time, it seems like Reilly it writing an episodic TV show, where he can never be sure that the audience has seen last week's episode. He often repeats himself from chapter to chapter, re-explaining why characters make decisions they did, where they got information from, sometimes even who they are (his third novel, Temple, suffers from the same problem, but not to the same degree. So I guess he's improving). It really did seem like I could have started the book at any chapter and been able to work out everything that had happened previously. Fortunately, Reilly is fantastic at writing action scenes (my favourite was probably a hovercraft chase/battle), so they more then make up for the slower moments.

Naturally, since it's really just an action movie, the story doesn't stand up to too much nit-picking. But I was there for the explosions, not accurate descriptions of a killer whale's hunting style.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Alright Darren...

If you have any questions then please contact me , Bill Gates or feel free to put me down in your blogs.
Okay. I have a question, and I've put a mention of you in my blog. So what's the answer?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Amazon Madness

I ordered a text book off Amazon yesterday, and so I figured I'd grab some other books at the same time (and the $5 I'd made from the Mechanical Turk program went to good use). Of course, I decided I would get in a lot of trouble if I got everything I was looking at, so I narrowed the list down, and put everything else on my "Wish List".

Since then I've been going nuts adding things to my wish list. Maybe it won't be too long before my next Amazon order...

Monday, December 19, 2005


Work: Developer Wiki Part II

The official announcement about the Developer Wiki just went out. Now let's see if this baby can fly...

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Work: Developer Wiki

Last Monday, Anthony and I got onto a conversation about getting the Tower's SDK documentation up online. So I decided that it was damn time we made it happen.

And the yesterday afternoon, it finally did. After just over a week of hacking, tweaking and pestering other people, the first part of Tower's Developer Wiki went live.

Take a look!

Now I just have to do a section for the Connectivity Toolkit...

Monday, December 12, 2005


Just Read: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Where to start with Harry Potter? It's one of those things that's so popular because it's popular. I've read similar things done much better. But it's fun and I enjoy reading it.

In the last installment, we saw Harry start to be an angsty teen - he was angry at everyone and wasn't interested in listening to anyone. Fortunately, Harry seems to have grown up a bit more over the summer, so I didn't feel like smacking him in the head every other page.

As with all of the other books, Harry and his friends continue their fight against Lord Voldermort. This time around, it's open war. Voldermort's return is publicly known, so Horgwarts and the rest of the wizarding community is operating in an environment of fear. I'm guessing J.K. Rowland draw a lot of inspiration from the current "War on Terror" - for example the Ministry of Magic is quite happily leaving people they know are innocent in prison so the public feels they're doing something useful.

I really enjoyed the Half-Blood Prince. It's probably my second favourite of the series so far (after Prisoner of Azkaban). While fairly obvious, the death of one of the major characters was done fairly well (unlike Order of the Phoenix, where it seems a bit more tacked on).

I'm looking forward to the movie version, but only if they manage to get Hugh Grant to play the Prime Minister.


I Love My Nana

I got a chance to wow some of my older relatives this weekend at my sister's wedding. I took a chunk of photos at the ceremony with my wonderful digital camera, and then ducked out and got prints of the better shots before the reception. It's a great idea by the way - it takes maybe 20mins to get digital photos printed on a Saturday afternoon, it's surprisingly cheap, and everyone (especially the bride and groom) love seeing how things look.

My Nana was particularly impressed by my feat, and asked me if it would be possible for her to get copies of some of the prints. So I invited her to come with me one lunchtime to the photo place - that way she could pick the photos she wanted and get them pretty much straight away. This idea was pretty exciting to her.

This morning she rang me to see what time would be good. While we were talking, she asked if it would be possible to get some of the photos put "onto a disc" so she could watch them on TV (she'd been given a DVD of some photos a little while ago, and had been all over that idea). She couldn't quite believe it when I told her that it was really simple and that I could do that for her right now.

She offered to pay for the DVD, until I told her it would cost me about 80 cents. Then she offered to pay me for my time, until I explained that it would take me maybe 30 seconds and three clicks of the mouse.

"You can really do all that?" she asked me.

I love technology, but to an extent I just kind of expect the awesome stuff it can do. It's very cool talking to someone who still has that child-like sense of wonder about it all. It's even cooler when that person was around for World War II.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Random: X3 Pics

Some shots from X-Men 3. Shiny.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Music: More Pandora

While we all think it's pretty cool, Gordon, Simon and I have all been having a good laugh at some of the strange song choices we've been given. Alice Cooper, The Carpenters and Kelly Clarkson all stand out as particularly bad.

The best part though has been the description of why Pandora picked a particular song. Gordon commented that this:

would be almost exactly how he describes my iTunes collection (well, the actual description he commented on said something about "distinctive female vocals", but I didn't get a screenshot of that)


Ideas: Decision Trees

Stupid Gordon, does he know I have enough random project ideas already?

But it does sound like a fun app to try to write...


Art: Illustrator

I've always wanted to be able produce nice looking computer graphics. I've played around with a lot of different programs, but I've never invested the time to actually learn them properly. So yesterday I went and asked Rhys for some pointers when using Adobe Illustrator.

He told me to go and take a look at Pixel2Life, which has a nice selection of tutorials. I had a bit of a play last night, and some of the controls are starting to make sense to me now.

I had a bit of a play this morning, and this is my 10-15min attempt at some bamboo.

Just ignore the crap attempt at a border - I cropped the image a bit too much when I was converting it to a .jpg

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Music: Pandora

I've just discovered Pandora. I haven't had a chance to play with it much, but I think this is seriously cool.

You enter a song or artist you really like, and Pandora will create a "radio station" of music it thinks you'll like. For nearly 6 years, the team behind it have been listening to all sorts of music trying to study music on it's most fundamental level. And, after becoming the "personal DJs" for their friends, decided to offer the service to the big bad Internet.

It's very cool.

EDIT: Hmm, I've already found a problem. Every time a new song starts, I have to jump back to my browser to find out what I'm listening to.

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