Archive for July, 2008

Review: The Dark Knight

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

It’s final now. Director Christopher Nolan made it to the top. There’s no going around him anymore. I, of course, already knew it when I first layed my eyes on Memento. Batman Begins showed us he could do well with big budget as well. But with The Dark Knight, you will leave the movie theater with a gasp and think to yourself, “Wow, what a masterpiece!”.
With a wonderful setup now out of the way, we can get straight to the core for a full two and a half hours of intense drama. Introducing more characters, it actually leaves screen time for the main characters (with a superbly casted Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart, while Maggie Gyllenhaal holds her own replacing Katie Holmes). But somehow, how the story is written, it doesn’t matter. Nolan combines character, story, drama, and action into one powerful and dark movie. While there’s also less time involved in explaining the technical stuff, it means an upgraded Bat-suit and other neatoh gadgets also gets less screen time.
Finishing off the toppings are Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, again collaborating on the sound track. The sound track to Batman Begins was so special to begin with, this one is different enough (with some tracks more brass and percussion heavy), yet borrowing some recognisable cues from earlier to ensure the same dramatic response.
All in all, you shouldn’t be put off that this is a superhero movie, because as extreme as the characters may sound, it’s so well written and grounded to reality, that makes it’s so scary. And that makes The Dark Knight one of a kind.10-.

Taiwan K-uiz

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

And finally, the answer to the k-uiz. The k-uestion was “try to guess the coordinates where I’m taking the pictures between P1090567 and P1090713” and I haven’t seen the answer in the correct format from anyone. I literally asked for coordinates, and I hinted to Google Earth.
Here you can see the answer:


Any answer near 25.07N121.50E would’ve been evaluated as correct. Of course, that’s not to say that dear mr. Geert identified a whole bunch of pictures right on spot. Clearly a world traveler enjoying his retirement.

Review: The Strangers

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Success for low budget slasher flicks vary from time to time, but they usually rebound their budget or make a killing (financially, of course). Lately, they’ve been on a slight uptick again, but honestly, I couldn’t care less, cinematically speaking.
This one is no different. Just your typical horror, with the latest hot topic “home invasion” (see last year’s Funny Games). They all seem to scream, live in the upperclass suburbs at your own risk, but beyond this message I see nothing new. It’s your average “help I’m getting chased by a psycho killer, let’s do something stupid to make my own situation worse, aaaargh, I’m dying” movie. Sure, it builds some tension here and there, but it’s still not enough to make a movie (still missing out on story and character). So the overall warning still stands, don’t go to these type of movies (resist, even if you really crave for a Liv Tyler movie).4.

How Messy is it at my Work Today ?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Rate 1 (sucks) to 5 (cool). Only rate the latest pictures, otherwise I can’t keep track of the average.

Total: 809 out of 249 votes > Average is: 3.249

work pic

Review: HP Mininote 2133

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

The only gadget I brought back from Taiwan (since the MSI Wind or the Asus EEE 1000 wasn’t available yet), after some rigorous testing, I can finally send out this warning.
Most Dutch websites are now taking pre-orders for higher version than mine, for a whopping 800 euros. For that much money, you should consider these points.
Mine was just 360 euros, but has only 1 GB memory and a slightly slower CPU. It was delivered with an awful Linux distribution (SUSE Desktop 10) and I worked with it for a week. Not only is installing simple software impossible (from xine to vlc, it just couldn’t resolve dependencies even when including 3 full repositories), but a full system freeze would occur on a daily basis.
After switching to XP Pro, I could start my review at a less rageful state of mind (no freeze-ups anymore too!). The keyboard at 92% of the normal size but still requires a bit of getting used to. Luckily, it’s far from the crampedness from Asus EEE PC. Of course, the small size means it fits in my backpack without problems. The full aluminum body also means it should last a big longer (I hope).
But not all is good yet. The 8.9″ screen (mostly advertised with the wrong resolution) is 1280×768, it’s really sharp, but letters will be really tiny on this already tiny screen. Battery life isn’t something to write home about either, usually lasting around 1.5 hours when working at a normal pace or watching movies. You will have to live without an optical drive, but that’s with all the competitors in this ultramobile pc business.
The most horrible point though, is the slow CPU. Ultra low voltage, but also ultra low processing power. Some highly encoded XViD movies will be shocky now and then, and for more intensive tasks, you have to wait a few seconds before the application starts.
For a 360 euro gadget, it’s not that bad (though you can’t get it here). But for the upcoming version in the webshops, you should really start thinking about it, because first of all, you can buy two normal sized notebooks with 10 times the speed. Second, the speed problems I’m having will quadruple. Even with slightly higher specs, it’s delivered with Windows Vista and will surely bring the notebook down to its knees (and bump you on the back of your head for good measure).
My advice is to save your money and get an MSI Wind or OEM clone (The Medion Akoya Mini when you’re in Germany, or the Advent 4211 when you’re in the UK) for around 400 euro. Heck, just for fun, when I might just get one myself.

Taiwan picture batch 1

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

It’s been over two weeks since I’m back home from vacation, and you haven’t seen any updates yet. That’s mainly because I needed more time to relax. Actually, I still need more time, so no written pages with pictures just yet.
But to keep you a bit occupied, here’s a flickr stream, mainly because it’s free and saves me a whole lot of bandwidth.

Downsides though:
– 100 MB limit
– 1024×768 image resolution limit
– no nice URL to give to friends.

Ah well, if anyone has a better suggestion, feel free to inform me (free to use and ad-free public viewing, and all mentioned downsides removed or upgraded).

Here ya go for the pictures I’ve uploaded for now:

(update: new link here)

Oh and a K-uiz for the less geographically challenged Google Earth oglers, try to guess the coordinates where I’m taking the pictures between P1090567 and P1090713. There should be enough clues already.

Review: Hancock

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Will Smith continues his July blockbuster trend, but it’s not all fun this time. A slightly bit down character makes for a darker moody atmosphere, but actually doesn’t provide Mr. Smith an extended range of acting opportunity (instead it’s just a sour face throughout the movie). Besides this departure (his movies were either full blown fun, like Independence Day and Men in Black, or it was overall serious, like Ali or The Pursuit of Happyness), the script is a bit off, the three acts are so noticable different, it’s a bit disturbing.
Director Peter Berg let’s down too (coming of an excellent engaging The Kingdom), inviting us into the movie with a high speed green screen cgi sequence, but making it look like it’s finished with Sony Handy-cam and an amateur version of Pinnacle Studio 9. Maybe it was a budget or time issue, but it’s a bit Will Smith unworthy.
Overall though, the movie is still enjoyable (still enough jokes to go around), it’s just not as strong and solid as you’d expect.7+.

Review: 21

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Movies based on the truth are usually interesting. You’re always trying to figure out what was the truth and what was the embellishment. Based on the book “Bringing Down the House”, which was embellished already, the movie probably does a 1 on 1 translation, with enough truth and excitement to fill a whole movie. With a longer than expected 2 hour running time, it doesn’t bore at all. There’s the bit of drama, and the bit of smarty pants intrigue to keep it all running. While mostly focusing on the main character (Jim Sturgess), Kevin Spacey gets enough screen time too, setting down a interesting character till the end. Antagonist Laurence Fishburne’s character is less fleshed out, but fierce on its own nonetheless.
Overall, while not too deep, it’s interesting and entertaining.7½.

Review: Kung Fu Panda

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Long anticipated 3D animation featuring Jack Black as a fat panda. It’s the usual Dreamworks fun (like fellow studio outputs, Shrek, Madagascar, Bee Movie and such), so it’s just plain fun.
Jack Black as a voice actor is doing a great job, as are all the other co-stars. On screen, the characters are either fierce or utterly cute. Story isn’t that complicated, and contains the predictable fat jokes. The fighting could be seen as ground breaking, but is less impressive pixelated than coming from real people, from the likes of Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
Still, it’s major fun to see a cuddly bear transform into a mean fighting machine, while ultimately, it’s sweet as hell.7½.

How Messy is my Desk Today ?

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Rate 1 (FR#^&% MESS !) to 5 (how very tidy !). Only rate the latest picture, otherwise I can’t keep track of the average.

Total: 1357 out of 443 votes > Average is: 3.063

desk pic

While I was having a fabulous time in Taiwan, someone at home clearly wasn’t. From bright green, to white-ish/brown. Poor bonsai, so much for getting up to 800 years old (like they are in Happo-en in Tokyo, Japan).