Daily Archives: Monday, 8th Jun 2009

Just Don’t Call Me a “Fanboi”, OK

Hmmmm. Just been reading coverage from the WWDC keynote as it happened.

A few things of interest:

Snow Leopard

The next version of Mac OS X, version 10.6, will be out in September. Not a lot of new features, but some enhancements that are nice, loads of new toys in QuickTime. The main emphasis is making it run quicker, and it will take up around 6GB less disk space than the current version (Leopard, aka 10.5). As it’s not a big feature release, Leopard users will be able to get it for $29, or a family pack (that’s generally for up to five Macs) for $49. UK pricing wasn’t mentioned, but I’d guess around £20 and £35 respectively. To be honest, even if they did a direct $1 – £1, the price to upgrade both my Macs[1] would be worth it.

iPhone 3GS

Somewhat improved. 3MP camera with autofocus, and even a touchscreen autofocus – tap the part of the image you want to focus on. Now does video with upload to MobileMe, YouTube and probably other places. Other new bits and bobs, enhanced by the new OS 3.0, which adds a lot of new features. I quite like the “Where’s my iPhone” thing. You need a MobileMe account for this – log in and a Google Map will show you where you left your phone. Or at least where it was last time it reported its position. Storage gets a bump up – new models are 16GB and 32GB, with US pricing being much the same as for the previous models. Data speeds up to 7Mb are supported, and it can be used “tethered” – it’ll act as a modem for a computer connected by USB or Bluetooth[2]. It’ll be available in the US, the UK and other places from 19 June – hey, that’s next Friday, so there’s not long to wait.

This looks like it might be the one that’s good enough to tempt me. It all depends on the prices and contract details, which will no doubt be made clear in the next day or two.

[1] And it’s possible I might get a whizzier desktop Mac and move the Mini over to be a local web server, Tiggercam box and generaly spare computer.
[2] Subject to phone operator details and terms, no doubt

I Think I Might Have Become an Apple Fan

I suppose it was inevitable. First came the Mac Mini, but that was just an experiment, right? But then I gave in to the pressure and got an iPod, but that was just because my old MP3 player wouldn’t play nicely with the Mac Mini. Then there was a bit of a gap, and I got an Apple TV, but that was just because I didn’t want to have to unpack hundreds of CDs to listen to music on my sound system rather than my computer. Then I went a step further, and got a MacBook, but that was just because, err, ummm, well, oh bother, it was because I wanted it, so there!

And now, I find myself if not eagerly, then at least with interest, awaiting the news from Apple’s WWDC conference thingy. And what am I waiting for? News on the expected new iPhone models. Rumour has it that the new hardware will have a camera that’s not actually rubbish, and the new software fixes a few missing items (like cut and paste, for instance). Will it be enough to persuade me that I really have to have one? Well, that depends on the exact details. What would help would be if it’ll be avaialable on a network other than O2. Not that I particularly dislike O2, it’s just my desk at work is a dead zone for O2 coverage, rendering my work mobile unusable when at work, which was fun when we had a slight issue with our fibre connection which knocked out our landlines.

We shall see. The fun starts soon…

Primeval – Series 3, Episode 10

Well, they made us wait an extra week for the series finale.  Apparently there was some kind of talent show on instead, but never mind, it was back to proper TV on Saturday. You might recall from the last episode that Helen had caused yet more trouble, and that Danny and the gang were planning to track her down and stop her from doing any more damage. And so they head for the racetrack anomaly site, where the anomaly is still sitting there, kept nicely closed by Connor’s anomaly closing thingy. They’re just about to go through when their portable detectors alert them about another anomaly – one at Christine Johnson’s HQ. They agree to split up, with Danny, Abby and Connor going through the racetrack anomaly, and Becker and Sarah investigate the other anomaly.

Danny, Abby and Connor reach the devastated future world, and are briefly releived by the lack of Future Predators, but only until some of those lovely giant insects appear. They manage to avoid them by dodging aside and letting them fly through what they guess must be Christine Johnson’s anomaly, which promptly closes again. They continue to explore, followed by a Future Predator.

Becker and Sarah meet the big flies at Christine’s now closed HQ. After managing to deal with them, they find the anomaly is closed and return to the racetrack site.

The rest of the gang have found themselves in the ARC, still there after however many years it’s been, and in there, they find Helen, playing with some fancy touchscreen stuff, that looks not entirely unlike Microsoft Surface. Danny greets her warmly by pointing a gun in her face, and she reciprocates with a Taser in his ribs. Grabbing the gun, she invites Abby and Connor to join in the nice chat.

Helen has worked out all she needs to know about the artifact, and can now plot a route to where she needs to go through multiple anomalies. And she’s got a plan – she’s going to save the world. Danny suggests that it’s a little unusual for her to care about humanity, but she explains that she’s quite normal, and it’s not the human race she’s going to save. Yes, she’s planning to do a bit of history changing, and pausing only to destroy the artifact, she opens an anomaly and heads off on her deranged mission.

Of course, the fancy equipment has stopped running, so the gang have to improvise some power by wiring up some torch batteries, which makes it run long enough for Connor to work out that Helen’s destination is “Site 333”, the real quite actual location where some early hominid fossils were found, which may well be the ancestors of all humanity. Connor manages to get one of those handy anomaly controllers loaded with the relevant data, and they follow Helen on the first leg of the journey, just before being eaten by a predator.

As it happens, the first step of the journey involves some raptors, which chase the gang up a tree. Remembering that Becker had given them some stun grenades to deal with the predators, Danny drops one, which does indeed stun the raptors, but also makes Connor fall out of the tree. Abby stays with Connor while Danny chases Helen. He needs to hurry because their anomaly controller thingy has stopped working. Of course, it’s not that much of a problem, because Helen, after being delayed a bit by a pterosaur, has dropped her device. Danny doesn’t notice this, and runs through into the next world, where he’s just in time to not stop Helen from poisoning a family of hominids. He also doesn’t notice that he’s been followed by a raptor, which could be nearly as dangerous as Helen…

Meanwhile, Abby and a semi-stunned Connor manage to fight off one raptor, and hide up another tree…

Danny catches up with Helen, who having switched to proper Villain Mode has to explain her Cunning Plan. Humans are very bad, the world would be better without us, etc. She doesn’t mind at all that she’ll be removing herself as well as everyone else, etc. So it’s quite a relief when that raptor leaps on her causing them both to fall off a cliff and die.

Back at the racetrack, Becker and Sarah wait for the gang to return. Sarah says she has an idea…

Danny rushes back to the anomaly, which closes just before he gets to it.

And Abby and Connor are sheltering up a tree. They’ll go looking for Danny in the morning.

And that was the end. A bit of a cliffhanger to end the series, and so far there is no confirmation of a fourth series, though there are mutterings of a film version.

OK, the cliffhanger is a bit weak, as Helen’s anomaly controller is where Connor can find it, and he’s bright enough to work out how to work it enough to get everyone home. But there is the question of what changes might have been made by Helen’s attempt to extinguish our ancestors. Will we find out? I hope so.

Robin Hood – Bad Blood

I’ve been poking affectionate fun at this series for the last couple of months, working on the basis that as its creators didn’t seem to be taking it seriously, the only way to deal with it was to sit back, enjoy the ride and have a good laugh at the silliness. And then they do this. An episode that while it’s still flawed and anachronistic, manages to carry off some serious character developement and gets away with an extended flashback that occupies most of the screen time.

So, an increasingly bedraggled and deranged Guy meets Robin in the forest and despite his condition, insists on a fight. They’ve just begu to clash swords when both are felled by darts to the neck. As they drift into unconsciousness, a cowled figure approaches.

They wake up, nicely tied up by a fire. After a bit of shouting from Robin, the cowled figure tells them they’re going to have to listen to his story.

I want to free you from the bad blood that shackles you together

Well, Robin and Guy think they already know about their past, but as we don’t, the figure insists, and so we’re taken back twenty years.

And we learn that the past is not quite as either of them thought.

As a boy, Robin wanted to prove himself as an archer, which led to an unfortunate accident involving a giant firework dropping on a man. Robin blamed Guy for it (nice), and as Guy wasn’t all that popular (no change there), the delightful Bailiff Longthorn, claiming to act for the people, decides that the thing to do is to hang young Guy. But as Guy’s mother has just managed to save the life of the accident victim, this would be a bit extreme, as Robin’s father Malcolm tries to explain, but Longthorn seems quite insistent, and is only put off when a knight rides in, and suggests that he’d better not do anything of the kind. The knight is Sir Roger of Gibourne, which is a bit of a surprise, as he’s supposedly dead.

Robin’s father Malcolm realises that Roger has leprosy when he shows no sign of discomfort when Longthorn’s dagger goes straight through his hand. Now leprosy was a bit of a problem. Anyone infected with the disease had to be cast out form society to avoid spreading the disease.

It’s even more of a problem because Malcolm and Ghislane are having an affair. And Ghislane is a little bit pregnant.  Malcolm, being the decent, upstanding man he is, wants Ghislane to abandon her husband, then have the baby in secret.  She’s not all that keen on this idea, but after some persuasion, she does betray her husband to Longthorn. She has second thoughts when Roger tells her that he doesn’t have long to live, and just wants to spend his last days with his family rather than in a leper colony. But it’s too late, and Roger is cast out. Ghislane has to choose between going with her husband and declaring herself a widow. At Roger’s insistence, she reluctantly does the declaration thing, and off Roger goes, telling Malcolm to care for his family.

Lovely Longthorn finds out about the slight pregnancy and blackmails Malcolm and Ghislane into handing over Roger’s land and property to him. But they have a Cunning Plan – if they get married, Roger’s lands, now being Ghislane’s, will become his and Longthorn will be disappointed.

Guy, wandering in the forest, sees his mother visit the remarkably nearby leper colony, where she gives food to Roger. As he has a little chat with her about that, she goes into labour. and so she gives birth to a son who she names Archer[1]. Malcolm and Ghislane have Archer taken away to an allegedly safe place until they can claim him, and Guy goes to see his father, telling him about the wedding plans.

And that’s where the trouble really starts. Roger comes home, Guy accidentally starts a fire while Roger and Malcolm have a disagreement upstairs. And that leads to Malcolm accidentally knocking Ghislane to the floor, where she quite naturally bangs her head in a generally fatal manner. Roger (quite seriously the only decent person in the whole mess) tells Malcolm to leave, and stays behind to die alongside his beloved wife.

Malcolm tries to leave but is struck by a blast of flame. And so we return from the flashback.

The hooded figure is Malcolm, his face scarred by the fire. He ran away because he couldn’t stand the shame of what he had done. And so he left Guy to live with teh guilt of believeing that the deaths in the house were his fault, and Robin to, well….

In one last flashback, Longthorn tries to sieze Roger’s lands again. It’s pointed out that the land belongs to Robin, but Longthorn suggests that a young boy couldn’t possibly deal with the job. Robin runs away, and Longthorn starts trying to collect taxes. But Robin hasn’t gone far. After a brief pause at his mother’s grave, he collects his father’s bow and returns to the village where he demonstrates his skill in such a way as to persuade Longthorn to leave. And he says that he will stand by his people. He has, in fact, begun on the road that will make him become Robin Hood.

Malcolm explains that he’s gone to all this trouble because he wants Robin ad Guy to unite to save their brother. Archer is in York jail, and is to be hanged. Robin’s a bit reluctant, but when Guy admits to killing the Sheriff[2], and that he intends to kill the current one[3] too, he begins to change his mind.

Malcolm says he can’t do much, as he’s dying. He stuns them again with his blowpipe darts, telling them

Save him – and save yourselves!

as they drift off and he leaves.

And so Guy and Robin set off together.

Interesting stuff. Much less silly than usual, and leading us up to a moderately large series finale in a few weeks. We know Jonas Armstrong will be leaving at the end of the series, and it’s moderately certain that there’s a plan to make more. My suspicion is that the appropriately named Archer may be the one to carry on the legend, but we’ll have to wait and see…

[1] So no hints about his significance there, then…
[2] Who may not be all that dead, and I would love to see him return
[3] That would be his sister

WordPress 2.8 – Release Candidate 1

Yes, the next version of WordPress, which I mentioned last month is getting close now. Final release is currently planned for Wednesday 10 June, and there’s a Release Candidate available right now.

You’ll find a download link and more information in the WordPress Development Blog announcement.

I’ve been running Tiggercam on WordPress 2.8 Beta 2 without any trouble, and the automagic updater just took Tigger up to RC1 with even less trouble.[1] Having done some testing on a copy of Losing it[1], I’ll be more than likely upgrading as soon as the final release appears.

[1] Only Tigger can deal with negative amounts of trouble thanks to his transcendental bouncing[1] abiliites. Do not try this at home, kids.
[2] This is how he can appear to be in several places[3] at the same time
[3] Including right next to himself