All posts by ntbadmin

Lexx 4.18 & 4.19

Lexx_Logo

 

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 Fête de la Fédération 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-Élysées in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests.

Bastille_Day

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

Datafile 2007

Contribution to June 2007 Datafile

FastStone Image Viewer‘ is my favorite image browser and converter. Its best features are the easy methods of cropping and resizing. It will do the basic jobs of image colour adjustment, but I usually use Photoshop for that. The features I use most are the batch file renaming and resizing. Best of all, it’s free.

http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm

2016 update – the program will now adjust colour levels on an image.

 

ThumbsPlus is the best solution I have found for indexing images.
You can scan directories and CDs and it will create a database of thumbnails that can be searched. Powerful searches can be built, especially if you add keywords and user fields to the images as you add them. There are a lot of image manipulation features that are probably unnecessary. For just the indexing, I think it’s worth $49.95US.

http://www.cerious.com/thumbnails.shtml

2016 Update
I now use abeMeda for cataloging not just photos, but anything on CDs and portable hard drives.

 

Looking for old movies, audio, software and lots of stuff from a bygone era, check out the ‘Internet Archive’.
This link takes you to ‘Computer Chronicles’

http://www.archive.org/details/computersandtechvideos
Hosted by Stewart Cheifet, Computer Chronicles was the world’s most popular television program on personal technology during the height of the personal computer revolution. It was broadcast for twenty years from 1983 – 2002. The program was seen on more than 300 television stations in the United States and in over 100 countries worldwide, with translations into French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. The series had a weekly television broadcast audience of over two million viewers.

The series has been recognized for its journalistic excellence, winning a variety of journalistic awards including more than a dozen from the prestigious Computer Press Association. The series covered high-tech subjects around the world, having shot programs in such various locations as Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Spain, and Taiwan. Computer Chronicles was based in the Silicon Valley area of California.

Many of the series programs are distributed on video to corporations and educational institutions for use in computer training. Computer Chronicles program segments have also been bundled with various computer text books by major publishers.

 

Man on Fire

Man on Fire is a 2004 American crime thriller film and the second adaptation of A. J. Quinnell’s 1980 fictional novel of the same name; the first film based on the novel was released in 1987. The 2004 film adaptation was directed by Tony Scott, from a screenplay written by Brian Helgeland.

Man on Fire stars Denzel Washington as John Creasy, a despondent, alcoholic former CIA operative/U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance officer turned mercenary and bodyguard, who goes on a revenge rampage after his charge, nine-year-old Lupita (“Pita”) Ramos (Dakota Fanning), is abducted in Mexico City. The supporting cast includes Christopher Walken, Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini, Marc Anthony, Rachel Ticotin and Mickey Rourke.

This is a very stylish and violent film by the brother of Ridley Scott.
It takes about a third of the film just to establish the characters and motivations. When the abduction takes place it soon becomes clear that Cressy is going to go further than a ‘hero protagonist’ on a normal hollywood movie. And it soon becomes clear what the ending will be. Other books and movies have similar themes, where the ‘hero’ becomes vigilante and everything ends in a big mess that few get out of. Despite the annoying fast and distracting cutting during the action scenes, this is one of the better films of this type (4/5)

The film earned a total of $130.3 million worldwide, with a budget of $70 million

A. J. Quinnell had a favorable reception to this adaptation, mainly because the film used many of the book’s lines. Quinnell said that usually screenwriters “like to leave their mark on the product.” Quinnell added that even though he usually dislikes film adaptations of books, the writers “did a good job with Man On Fire and I loved the chemistry between Creasy and the girl” and “When I first heard Denzel was playing the part of Creasy I missed a couple of heartbeats but he played the part brilliantly. The film is violent and if the anger is not portrayed properly, the result can be awful.” Kevin Freese of the Foreign Military Studies Office stated that “it appears that the allusion” of the fictional Sánchez brothers with the real Arizmendi brothers “escaped the comprehension of much of the audience.

Going Dark

Going Dark (The Red #3)
Linda Nagata

GoingDark

In the third book in The Red Trilogy, former Army Lt. James Shelley becomes a black ops sniper working for the Red—a suspected rogue artificial intelligence that is ripped from today’s headlines.

James Shelley has left his lover, Delphi, and his companion-in-arms, Jayne Vasquez, with a fortune acquired from a fallen oligarch. They believe him to be dead, and he doesn’t try to set the record straight. His long-running question has been answered: There are other soldiers like him who have served the purposes of the Red—and he has accepted his place among them. As a soldier of the Red he pursues covert missions designed to nudge history away from existential threats—but that doesn’t mean the world is growing more orderly. It’s only in the froth of a “managed chaos” that human potential can grow and thrive. Shelley’s missions eventually take him into orbit—and into conflict with those he loves—Delphi and Jaynie—who are determined to escape the influence of the Red.

The final book loses focus on any science fiction themes and mainly consists of a series of armed conflicts. From the Arctic to the urban jungle, our hero manages to escape narrowly with his life. The problem is that it doesn’t add up to the promise in the first book, not bad, just OK (3/5).

 

Broken Sword 3

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

BS3

 

George Stobbart and Nico Collard are drawn into a terrifying conspiracy to harness and ancient power. Brought together by fate, coincidence and the intriguing mystery, they will fight sinister forces, uncover an ancient conspiracy, and discover a fiendish source of pure evil… Lured into the steamy jungles of the Congo, eerie castles in Prague, the chic backstreets of Paris and the historic English village of Glastonbury, the duo must unravel the mystery involving the ‘Voynich Manuscript’ which holds the secrets of the ultimate evil power, The Sleeping Dragon, and save mankind.

 

Crates, Crates and more crates.
This is the main puzzle theme – moving crates around. You can’t stack them, just push and pull. This is repeated about 658 times in the game.

This third outing for Nico and George has little to do with the Knights Templar. It has something to do with energy and leylines around the earth. It doesn’t make much sense.

Where the first two games were compelling and interesting, in this game you are lead by the linear plot from place to place. The ‘puzzles’ are often not very intuitive, so without a walk-through I would have been lost.

The traditional inventory-based puzzles that the first two Broken Sword games elevated to an art-form have almost completely been eschewed in favor of more “puzzly” puzzles. There’s one that takes a good half-hour that involves you as George slowly crossing an eternal sequence of tiles, occasionally ordering Nico to move in order to make different tiles “safe.” Your reward for getting through this torture chamber, likely forgetting why you’re even here in the process? A crate puzzle.

Thankfully, though, you can always count on the next cut-scene and plot development to wipe your mind clean of the turmoil you’ve just endured.

The game is in 3D, having abandoned the traditional cell animation style of the first two games. While it generally works, there can be problems with quick disorientating camera moves and being in just the right position to take objects.

The worst aspect are the timed puzzles, I did finish the game, but it took numerous attempts at getting these done.

Despite being 10 years old the graphic quality is fine. The rendering of people and faces is not what would be expected in a modern game, but it was sufficient to convey the necessary emotions of the characters.

In the end.. just an OK game (3/5) certainly not as good as the previous ones.