Daily Archives: Saturday, 15th Apr 2006

Coming Soon!!

I’ve mentioned this in vague terms in the sidebar thingy, but I thought that if I go into a bit more detail here, it will encourage me to get on with it. :laugh:

As you might have noticed, I sometimes include photographs in my posts. I’d like to do this more often, and keep fiddling around with the way I do it. At the moment, I use a combination of two plugins for inserting images – they create nice thumbnails that go into the post, and pop-up windows with a larger image. Not bad for a couple of images, but a bit slow and tedious if there are a lot of them. So I’ve been thinking of using a gallery application to manage my photos. One of the best-known is Gallery2, which I’ve experimented with in the past. What made it interesting was that a plugin was available to integrate Gallery with WordPress. But the last time I looked, integration was slightly flaky[1], but now some time has passed. WordPress is up to version 2.0.2, Gallery to 2.1 and the WPG2 plugin has also moved to a new version. I’ve been playing with it on my test site at home, and waddaya know, it works. Perfectly. No trouble at all. Album pages and images appear as part of my WordPress layout without any oddness at all.

So, at some point in the next week or so[2], I’ll be adding Gallery 2 to this site. Exisiting photo pages may or may not be updated. We shall see…

After about four years, I moved all the images out of Gallery 2 and into WordPress’s native galleries

[1] I can’t recall what the exact problems were, but it was enough to put me off at the time
[2] Probably sooner, but I hate giving myself deadlines

Doctor Who – New Earth

Well, the long wait is finally over. Doctor Who is back for a second[1] run of thirteen episodes. Now this is where it can get tricky: following up a very successful series with a new actor in the title role was always going to be a challenge. You can easily imagine the critics starting off with their “not as good as last time” routines, and drawing unfavourable comparisons between David Tennant and Chris Eccleston. Of course, any critics doing that would have to be complete idiots, but that’s never been a barrier to a career in journalism before. So, what do we have in David’s first full episode[2]?

The Doctor takes Rose to New Earth. It’s a planet founded by people filled with nostalgia after the final destruction of the Earth in The End of the World, and includes a Metropolis style[3] New New York, or as the Doctor suggests, New New New……New (you get the idea) New York, as it’s the fifteenth one. But that’s not where the Doctor wants to go. He’s received a message asking him to visit someone in an impressive-looking hospital nearby.

The hospital is staffed by the Sisters of Plenitude, who appear to be highly-evolved cats[4]. They can cure any disease. The Doctor goes to find out who sent him the message, while Rose is diverted to the basement, where she meets an old adversary – The Lady Cassandra[5], the self-styled “Last Human”, in reality a sheet of skin with her brain in a tank. Cassandra transfers her personality into Rose’s body. This gives Billie Piper some lovely comedy to perform as Cassandra takes control.

Cassandra goes up to meet the Doctor, talking in a bizarre Mockney accent, which immediately alerts the Doctor that something is wrong. But as ever, he’s got bigger problems. Once he finds out the dreadful secret of just how the Sisters are curing everyone, his moral outrage bursts forth in classic style. Telling the Sisters that they have to stop, he tells them

If you want to take it to a higher authority, there isn’t one!

Lots of excitement, danger and humour follow. When Cassandra temporarily transfers into the Doctor’s body, David gives a delightfully camp performance[6] of Cassandra finding herself in a male body.

In the end, the Doctor performs his usual magic, saving people and causing chaos in the finest traditions of the series. And even Cassandra finds some kind of redemption.

Overall, a good start to the new series. Judging by what’s to come, it was more of a gentle warm-up than a blockbuster, but none the worse for that. Viewers will be getting used to a Doctor who talks a lot more than he used to, but who still has that deeply moral core. Looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun: next week we have Queen Victoria and a werewolf, which looks very impressive from the trailers….

[1] Or is it twenty-seventh?
[2] He did spend at least half of The Christmas Invasion unconscious, you might recall
[3] Only more shiny and nice looking :tongue:
[4] Much more refined than Red Dwarf’s Cat, before you ask :laugh:
[5] Returning from The End of the World and again voiced by Zoë Wannamaker
[6] Interviewed on Doctor Who Confidential he did say that Zoë would probably kill him the next time she sees him…

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – DVD

I’m not going to write a detailed review of the latest Harry Potter DVD, as I’m sure that anyone who’s interested will have seen it already. It’s the usual two-disc package with interviews, some behind the scenes stuff, and some silly games. But it does have some really nice dragons :smile: . Which is what led me to write this post. Like most people, I rarely stay to the end of the credits when I see movies at the cinema. Most of the time, this is no great loss, but sometimes film makers sneak in things that make it worth staying awake to watch the credits at the end of the DVD. And this is one of those cases:

No dragons were harmed in the making of this movie

Good thing, too. I like dragons![1]

[1] It’s a Welsh :cymru: thing, I’m sure.

Temeraire – Naomi Novik

This was another one of those books I spotted while doing a bit of random browsing[1]. It looked like it might be entertaining, so I ordered it from Amazon recently[2]. Temeraire is set during the Napoleonic wars in the early 19th Century, only this fictional 19th Century has a slight difference from ours: dragons. Now as a Welsh :cymru: person, I tend to have a soft spot for dragons[3], so I was keen to read this. There’s a quote on the cover from the ubiquitous Stephen King, comparing it to a cross between Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell[4] and the sea stories of Patrick O’Brian. Not having read O’Brian’s work, I’m not sure about that. The connection to Susanna Clarke’s work is tenuous at best, though.

The story opens with a British warship, the Reliant capturing a French vessel. In its hold is a dragon egg, which will hatch long before the ship can return to port. And that is a problem. A newly hatched dragon will form a bond with the person who harnesses it soon enough, or else it will become feral. As dragons are vital to Britain’s war effort, Captain William Laurence decides that one of his officers must attempt to harness the dragon when it hatches. Lots are drawn, and the responsibility falls to a junior officer.

But the dragon has other ideas, and instead chooses to bond with Laurence, who names him Temeraire, in honour of a Navy ship.

Laurence and Temeraire join the Aerial Corps and prepare to take their part in the war against Napoleon. Along the way we meet an interesting collection of characters (humans and dragons) and events build to a dramatic climax.

It’s all good fun: perhaps a little clichéd in places, but not enough to put me off. A second novel is due out later in the year.

Note for American readers: in the US, Temeraire was published as His Majesty’s Dragon

[1] Note to self: do more random browsing
[2] Nice discount off the bookshop price, and it made the order big enough to get free delivery :smile:
[3] I enjoyed the earlier Dragonflight books by Anne McCaffery
[4] Which I read, enjoyed and reviewed last year