The Sirens of Time

Dr Who

The Sirens of Time

Big Finish Audio Drama (1999)

Gallifrey is in a state of crisis, facing destruction at the hands of an overwhelming enemy. And the Doctor is involved in three different incarnations – each caught up in a deadly adventure, scattered across time and space. The web of time is threatened – and someone wants the Doctor dead. The three incarnations of the Doctor must join together to set time back on the right track – but in doing so, will they unleash a still greater threat? The Seventh Doctor is in Episode 1 of this four-part story; the Fifth Doctor is in episode 2; the Sixth Doctor is in episode 3; and all three Doctors are in the final episode.

Initially confusing, this tale is four stories on 2 hours, loosely joined with yet another timey-whimy time travel tale. The first three episodes are just average, but the final provides opportunity for the three incarnations of the doctor; Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davison and Colin Baker some fun interaction, illustrating the differing characteristics of each incarnation of the character. The villain only becomes apparent at the and and hence not as interesting as the doctor(s) (3/5)

 

Cast:
The Seventh Doctor (parts 1 & 4) — Sylvester McCoy
The Fifth Doctor (parts 2 & 4) — Peter Davison
The Sixth Doctor (parts 3 & 4) — Colin Baker
Commander Raldeth — Andrew Fettes
Coordinator Vansell — Anthony Keetch
The President — Michael Wade
Elenya — Sarah Mowat
Ruthley — Maggie Stables
Sancroff — Colin McIntyre
Commandant — John Wadmore
Lt Zenther — John Wadmore
Captain Schweiger — Mark Gatiss
Schmidt — Andrew Fettes
Helen — Sarah Mowat
The Temperon — Nicholas Briggs
Ellie — Sarah Mowat
Pilot Azimendah — John Wadmore
Captain — Mark Gatiss
Delegate — Nicholas Pegg
Sub-commander — John Wadmore
Knight Commander Lyena — Sarah Mowat
Knight 2 — Mark Gatiss

 

Tess

Tess of the d’Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy
(1891)

I read this as it was the subject of the 7 May 2016 episode of Melvyn Bragg’s BBC podcast ‘In Our Time‘.

I started this book with some trepidation, books I have tried of previous centuries often have flowery language and are not very relate-able.  Fortunately this was better.  There is a lot of commentary on the social aspects of the story in the narration, like John Fowles or D. H. Lawrence. The language is very rich and full of archaic and obscure words, not enough to put you off, but it gives the prose a weight that makes you slow down to appreciate it. Not since Melvyn Peake’s  Gormenghast series have I actually enjoyed just the reading (at first).

As for the story, Tess is a young woman who right from the start has more responsibility thrust on her than a woman of nineteen would expect. Her horse dies, her father appears to be related to aristocracy and so she must make her way indignantly  in the world. At just over half way, in part 5 her new husband finds about a previous boyfriend. His reaction is so over the top, the reality of the story ceased and it began to feel like some type of farce.  On reading a synopsis, I found that Tess, way back in part 2 had a baby that died. This was something I completely missed, I don’t recall her having sex !

It now becomes apparent that this is an exercise in style over substance. The ability of the author to clearly convey a plot has been compromised  and I lost all interest in continuing.

As for the podcast……..

It does explain why I missed the part where Tess gets pregnant. It’s not actually mentioned, apparently the act is only implied. And they do pick up on my point about the rich and dense nature of the prose. However for a modern reader, it is a slow read, and I didn’t finish it. So it only gets a rating of 1/5.

 

 

 

 

Lexx 4.20 & 4.21

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Lexx 4.20 “Apocalexx Now” March 29, 2002
A faint resemblance to Apocalypse Now. Stan wakes the crew to decide whether to destroy the carrot mothership, but is halted by a Lyekka-lookalike. Smitten, and suddenly amenable, Stan agrees that maybe Lyekka can lunch on some of Earth, but only if she negotiates which part, with the “ruler of Earth”. President Priest and Pope Giggerota are in Vietnam, being idiotic. The Pope captures Stan and Priest and plays gasoline golf with them. After lookalike-Lyekka eats the Pope, Priest suggests that she eat Japan. As a parting gesture, Priest nukes Vietnam.

Another forgettable episode. At least we are nearing the end (1/5)

Lexx 4.21 “Viva Lexx Vegas” April 5, 2002
The crew have to kill a day before the next shuttle flight, so Bunny suggests Las Vegas. Stan is determined to keep a low profile, but sends for two prostitutes – who don’t do anything for him. He sends Kai and Xev outside. The Egyptian themed hotel just happens to be storing the mummy of a philosopher poet called Drago, that Kai dispatched ages ago. The mummy goes on a killing spree. We learn that Kai has also killed “the pedantic, and the pseudo intellectual.”

The best thing about this episode is Bunny’s American style bikini costume. Otherwise it’s a combination of bad Dr Who monster-of-the-week and even worse Mafia stereotypes. (1/5)

 

Personal Digital Assistant

PDAs of the Future

Silly ? I love my PDA !
It’s lost a screw, got a crack down one side and still works !
Actually, the virtual keyboard is not advanced enough.
What I need is ….

1. A PDA with the storage and processing power of a 2005 PC.
This should be able to connect the the new G3 network or via
the frequency of your chordless phone to the internet or a base station.
(not yet available)

2. A special attachment to spectacles that projects an image straight to the retina of the eye.  Probably one eye, that way, by opening one eye you get a ‘virtual world’ overlay on the real world and if you close the other eye, all you see is the virtual world. Connect this to the PDA. (this is currently available but still in development – not _exactly_ sure what you see)

3.  A virtual keyboard. But not one that that projects onto a flat surface, it appears in your vision and sensors in the glasses detect gestures, interprets them and allows you to interact with the software. (these are available, but I think they require a glove)

4, A small microphone in the glasses near the nose that can hear what you say and operate the PDA where the use of the virtual keyboard is not appropriate. (shouldn’t be difficult, just Dragon voice recognition)

5. And an earpiece for one (or both) ears.

I can imagine that such an early system would be cumbersome, making you look like Jean Luc Picard when he (temporarily) became a Borg.

After a few years (decade from now ?) the whole thing (including PC)  would look like a pair of thick rimmed spectacles. Then we would all be sitting and standing around, browsing the internet, talking to ourselves, doing our work and looking like Zombies.

Never mind traffic problems with cell-phones. Imagine the crashes caused by trying to drive and looking at porn at the same time 🙂

Of course by then you two will be cycling to work – you couldn’t afford the petrol.

Written 18/5/2006 (exactly 10 years ago)
Nigel Baker
bakern@inet.net.nz
http://nigelbaker.net

 

Lexx 4.18 & 4.19

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Lexx 4.18 “The Game” March 15, 2002
A grippingly executed chess game derived from The Seventh Seal. With the experience of a partially played chess game against Prince in “Bad Carrot”, Kai plays for his soul, against the lives of Stan and Xev. He is confident of winning and enters the game willingly, much to Stan and Xev’s objection. He plays a game of deception, and bets he can make Prince overconfident. The chess characters are all from Lexx episodes. The icy landscape scenery changes with the mood. Kai wins, but gains nothing.

It begins with a type of deus ex machina where Kai moves to some sort of parallel world. His chess game with Prince must have been an elaborate set with real life heads. However it all amounts to nothing, does not move the plot forward and it’s boring (1/5)

 

Lexx 4.19 “Haley’s Comet” March 22, 2002
Out near the orbit of Jupiter, the crew encounter a Russian space pod full of students, whose only agenda is to get onto the Lexx and commandeer it. Except Haley. Haley, with the trust fund, has been conned and used by the rest of them, and thinks she is on a mission against “the corporations”. One of the girls has the hots for Kai, so 790 sees his chance to eliminate everybody by manipulating Haley. He guides her to a Black Pack weapon, and drives her into a killing spree – because it feels good.

Another story of stupid people doing dumb things.  This time things get so silly it’s almost amusing. But again  it’s an attempt at satirising a stereo-type, this time it’s the greenies. (2/5)

 

Bastille Day

Bastille Day is the name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July each year.

The French National Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789,an important event in Paris in a violent revolution that had begun two days earlier, as well as the Fete de la Federation which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790. Celebrations are held throughout France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests.


Bastille Day is also a 2016 American action film directed by James Watkins and written by Andrew Baldwin. The film stars Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Eriq Ebouaney and José Garcia. A young con artist and former CIA agent embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France.


The films starts off with a naked woman diverting a crowd from a pickpocket. Of course he will steal the wrong thing and become involved in a terror plot. Idris Elba is the stoic CIA agent on the job at the time. Guess what.. they will get together to foil the plan. The first two-thirds of the film is a good spy thriller. However once we get to the final act, it’s a replay of John McClane (Die Hard) on the job to deal with the bad guys.

An above average thriller (3/5)

 

 

Netflix Tax

The NZ ‘Netflix Tax’ starts in October 2016.
Here is my submission from Sept 2015.

Submission on GST Cross-Border Services, Intangibles and Goods

I am not an accountant, economist or employed in the financial sector. The following is a result of dealing with purchasing eBooks online for the last 5-6 years.

EURO VAT EXEMPTIONS
The report omits to mention that the European version of digital tax exempts suppliers using manual processes. The rules apply to “automated digital services” – that’s anything downloadable or used online, unless it’s custom-made. This mechanism would exclude small, specialized services from the tax regime. Our system should be consistent with the European system.

RECOMMENDATION
That the proposal only applies to “automated digital services”.

THRESHOLD
The euro tax has no minimum exemption, tax is collected from the first dollar earned from digital services. Adoption of this by New Zealand is likely to have the unintended consequence of digital suppliers in other countries (especially the USA) using the geographical indicators to block services to New Zealand. Small operators may not have the expertise or inclination to offer services to NZ and simply block commerce to New Zealanders.

RECOMMENDATION
That a minimum threshold of at least 10,000 NZD be adopted to ensure small operators do not abandon services to NZ.

MOVE NZ
New Zealand could be moved to Europe, in the Atlantic just west of Portugal and Morocco. In the right place, Cooks Strait could act as a toll-gate on shipping from the Mediterranean. Wellington would be a popular stop-off for sailors and Aucklanders could holiday in Spain and France. Unfortunately it may prove too warm for people of Scottish heritage who could migrate to Antartica. But more importantly, we would be nowhere near Australia.

If Geo-forming the planet to move NZ is too difficult, we could join the Euro MOSS as a virtual partner. It their system is so great, then another country of 4.5 million shouldn’t be a problem.

Library eBook Testing

Christchurch City Council Library eBook Testing Report
Written 2011-04-08

Since this report I have not borrowed any ebooks from a library

Hardware: Kobo (original)
LG Android Smartphone

Previously I got two ebooks at Beckenham library successfully.
1/ Dick Francis – 10-lb Penalty
2/ Fiona Kidman – The Captive Wife

Because they were not checked out on my computer I can’t see a way of ‘returning’ the books.

I wasn’t sure what the point was of ‘returning’ the ebook so borrowed ‘The Fry Chronicles’. This turns out to be a 14 meg file – lots of pictures.

After borrowing the book, I immediately returned it.

The epub file stays on the computer but doesn’t appear in Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). Copied the file to the Kobo to find that the content was locked.

Second try (Crossfire by Dick Francis)
Note – when downloading it’s important to have the Kobo plugged in then get ADE running. ADE will recognize the reader.
Don’t save the file or use a download manager but load it directly
into ADE. Once downloaded, switch to ‘Library View’. Highlight the
book description and drag it onto the ‘KOBOeReader’ icon. This will
copy the eBook to the device.

So I don’t have problems getting books for my Kobo but haven’t bothered to try the Android Smartphone. The Overdrive Android App is not very intuitive and you can only read books within the app. The app is very basic and doesn’t have much in the way
of altering the formatting of an eBook.

The best eBook reading app for Android is ‘Aldiko’. It can override the default fonts, margins, alignment etc in an ebook.

With the Kobo, when buying or borrowing DRM books you are at the mercy of the ebook designer as to margins, line spacing, paragraph indents etc.

Here are a few podcasts that cover the subject of eBooks:

http://ebookninjas.com/
Podcast by the guys from ebookarchitects.com. Can get very
technical about how to make ebooks but also covers general news and events.

http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/
Although mainly for American users with a kindle, this covers
general topics and has an interview.

http://www.dragonpage.com/
Mainly covers SciFi & Fantasy genres. News discussions,interviews
with authors and book reviews. One of the longest running book
related podcast, it has covered eBooks for several years.
Features author Michael Stackpole.

News Sites

News


Moderated site about publishing news from around the world.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/
News and discusion about current issues.

Nigel Baker 2011-04-18