iOS updates vs Android updates

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Updating iOS

Get excited that new version is coming out on set date

Jump on download the moment it comes out

Wait 6 hours for download to arrive while your eyes dry out and crust over

Re-download when download fails at 99%

Wait for reboot

Keep waiting for reboot

Try hard reset

Pack phone in box and go to Apple Store

Come back with working phone and extra goods you were up-sold while you were at Apple Store

Hate new version of iOS

See new iOS release date

Repeat…

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Updating Android

See new version being touted

Wonder when they’ll give a release date

Several months later, get release date

Wonder when they’ll release it for your actual handset

Find out your manufacturer/vendor isn’t going to release it for your handset

Find out that they’ve given in to backlash and will release it

Wonder when they’ll give a release date

Keep checking for release date

Give up

Find out that they released it a month ago without making an announcement

Download update

Install update

Reboot handset

Enjoy new version, except for the functions they had to miss out because your handset can’t run them

Repeat

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Rush / White House Down

120px-Film-stripTwo-film Thursday again, and this week only two films happened to be on that we hadn’t seen and wanted to see. Nice, easy choice for a change!

Rush

“Asshole.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: dramatised biopic of the 1976 F1 season focusing on the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda

See it if you like: tight, character-driven dramas with an edge of action. Or F1. Or cars.

I begin with the same disclaimer with which I started my review of Senna about two years ago: “I am not an F1 fan. I appreciate the technology and so forth, but I find the sport itself deathly dull.” I will, however, also reach the same conclusion – it makes for bloody brilliant films.

Seriously, without looking on IMDB to check his filmography, I don’t think Ron Howard has made a single bad film. And he continues the impressive trend with this.

Despite being set in the world of motor racing, the tale is very much focused on the two main characters – ladies man and bit-of-a-dick James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and rat-like workhorse Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

From their first meeting during a Formula 3 race to their world famous clash during the 1976 F1 season, the story follows their personal lives, relationship with each other and memorable events on the track.

One benefit, as with Senna, of not being a fan of the racing is that I didn’t know exactly how things would pan out as far as results went. Obviously it must have been tight, but beyond that it added something to the film by not knowing. At one point the wife, who probably likes F1 even less than me, leaned over and asked “Does anyone die in this race?” She was genuinely wrapped up so much in the characters that she was nervous about watching. It’s that good.

While the track sequences are stunning they are purely the backdrop to the excellent performances by the leads (and supporting cast) who really portray two vastly different men who ended up very much respecting each other. The story on the way there is a roller-coaster of a ride of the highest order and left me just as thrilled and exhausted at the end as if I’d been on a real one.

I’ll finish with a quote from the Mrs: “I’d say more than pleasantly surprised, there were points when I was literally on the edge of my seat. Not into cars at all but this is a great film, I really enjoyed it.”

White House Down

“How do you lose a rocket launcher?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: mad loons break into the White House to kidnap the President. Only one man (and his daughter, and a tour guide, and another man, and some people outside) can stop them

See it if you like: Silly action films that don’t make much sense, but entertain nevertheless

By coincidence, we watched Olympus Has Fallen earlier this week, which has a very similar plot but takes a more serious tone than the more “jokey” one apparent in scenes of White House Down. In fact, the trailer for this film may make you think that it’s more of a buddy-buddy comedy action.

Actually, it isn’t. Although there are some light-hearted moments and good one-liners, it’s as much a comedy as Die Hard (which is always going to be the benchmark for 1-man or 2-men against overwhelming odds action films). The effects are better than OHF‘s as well, which to me looked more like a made-for-TV movie with some shonky CGI vehicles and the like.

In this WHD, Channing Tatum plays Cale, a wannabe secret service agent and actual army drop-out with a failed marriage. His dream job is to be on the presidential guard to impress his daughter (a marginally annoying, but only in a way all teenagers are, Joey King). The President in this case is played by Jamie Foxx and he’s probably the piece of the puzzle (barring the usual “no human can take that many beatings issue) which provides the weak link.

Foxx isn’t bad at all. And he works well alongside Tatum in their scenes together. It’s the character himself that requires belief suspension. First of all a black president (one of the background reporters towards the end actually refers to him as “Obama”!), and one who wants to withdraw all troops from the Middle East thus setting up the reasons for the assault on the White House. Yeah, right.

However, if you can’t suspend belief during an action film then you may as well sit at home. It rollicks along at a fair old pace once it gets going with suitably bad bad guys, buff good guys, and ineffective authority figures bickering amongst themselves instead of getting the job done.

Oh, and if there’s one whopping great reference to Bruce Willis‘s best film it’s the computer hacker. Flamboyant, egotistical, and listening to classical music while he taps away.

As expected, the bangs and crunches get bigger and stupider as the film progresses. No surprises, no major twists that you can’t see coming a mile away but still a fun ride.

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Riddick / Pain & Gain

120px-Film-stripA very belated post for these two films as I’ve been so short of time, recently. Weekends taken up with Duke of Edinburgh expeditions has eaten into writing time! We saw these almost two weeks ago, I think…

Riddick

“You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: see-in-the-dark ex-slave-and-planetary-ruler Riddick finds himself stranded on a dangerous planet and wonders how to get off again

See it if you like: Aliens and First Blood.

Following on from Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, this third instalment sees our anti-hero marooned on a scary big planet, seemingly with no way off. This may have happened at the end of CoR, but I can’t remember as I didn’t like the film and may have fallen asleep partway through.

Riddick is much better, though, and more in line with the first film in the series. It’s almost two films in one. The first half documenting Riddick’s (Vin Diesel, in case you didn’t know) escape from the barren half of the planet to somewhere a little more foliage-covered; the second half his battle against bounty hunters who turn up to claim his head.

Much reference is made to the first two films, so if you’re a fan then a repeat watch may be ideal before you take on this one.

Effects are good, dialogue is suitably silly, bad guys are wonderfully over-the-top (especially Jordi Mollà‘s Santana and Katee Sackhoff‘s overly-butch Dahl), and there is a decent story going on around all the by-the-numbers character-slaying.

Don’t take it too seriously and it’s a good romp. My favourite of the three films, anyway.

Pain & Gain

“Unfortunately, this is a true story.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: based-on-a-true-story series-of-heists gone wrong comedy action where people with biceps bigger than their brains show how not to get rich quick

See it if you like: looking at men with ridiculously large musculature while having a giggle

Michael Bay is more famous for his stupidly huge films like Con Air and those ones with the robots that turn into cars. However, he has done a fair few films based more on story and less on fuelling special effects labs. This is one of them.

Based on a true story from around 1995. How close to the truth it is would require some research, but there are some key scenes which I think are documented. Best of all is that they are some of the stupidest. This is a story of success and failure. And succeeding at failure. On a huge scale.

Bodybuilder Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) decided he’s sick of other people being rich when he does all the hard work. So he decides to attempt to extort one of his customers. He enlists the aid of a friend, Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and they, in turn, draft in some additional muscle in the form of reformed ex-convict and musclebound Jesus-freak Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson, formerly “The Rock”).

And it all goes horribly wrong. With hilarious consequences. Especially when they bugger everything up and try again with another victim.

Not a family-friendly film, but one with with plenty of dark and grisly humour. There are some genuinely funny moments, and Dwayne Johnson finally proves that he’s not just got a screen career because of his bulk. He’s genuinely good in this.

Very enjoyable – surprisingly so if I’m honest.

 

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Same Blue Dragon, new web page address

Blue Dragon Children's Foundation
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation

As pretty much everyone who knows me knows, I am a massive supporter of Vietnam‘s Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. They’re based in Hanoi and I’ve visited their centre(s) on several occasions, marveling at the work they do to improve the lives of children who would otherwise be pretty much ignore by society.

First things first, they have changed their web site address. I assume the old one will work for some time, but the preferred new one is now www.bluedragon.org. Please add this to your bookmarks and check them out.

Also, seeing as – according to the supermarket shelves anyway – it’s almost Xmas, can I please get in an early reminder about cards. That is, don’t send them. If you’re one of those people who liked to make sure they stay in touch over the holiday period with a nice bit of folded paper in an envelope, then I would be grateful if you could instead make a small donation to BDCF – and just send us an email.

Essentially, I’d rather one of the most well-run and effective charities I’ve ever seen gets the cash rather than Mr & Mrs Hallmark. While it is nice to have those extra decorations around the house from family and friends, I just feel that there are better places for the money to be going.

If you check their latest newsletter you’ll find out that Vietnam has a winter at the same time of year as we do, and kids living on the street need extra blankets and so on. Wouldn’t you rather keep one of them warm than pop a card in the post to us?

If you want to send something then Blue Dragon do a scheme where you can donate a certain value which is enough to cover [an item]. In return you get a nice PDF certificate which you can print out and send: “My gift to you bought this for the children”. That scheme launches on November 1st so check their page out then!

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Anniversaries and Engagements

Click to em-biggen!
Click to em-biggen!

How time flies, eh? Two years ago today, some muppet went up on stage at the O2 ABC in Glasgow (courtesy of Hayseed Dixie) and made a speech to a crowd of around 1000 people. He waffled on about enjoying the previous tour (cheer), how the band were great (cheer), how he’d been at a gig at the Oran Mor (cheer) and met a woman who he had entirely managed to cop off with.

Eleven months later and he’d decided to make some grand gesture involving said young lady who was stood behind him and had no idea what the hell was going on as she couldn’t hear the speakers.

The muppet was me. The lady was Gillian. The next thing that happened was that I went down on one knee and asked her to marry me. Being an even bigger muppet (and probably in shock), she said “yes”.

Celebrations continued long enough to ensure that barely ten months later we added to our family (on girl, one boy) with the most beautiful baby girl. Three months after that, we tied the knot in Jamaica.

So today marks two years of formal commitment which gained a bit of paperwork last year to keep other people happy while we got a holiday out of it. Two years since Gillian was daft enough to not run away screaming, change her name, undergo plastic surgery and move house.

I can’t express how happy I am that I managed to dupe her into agreeing to marry me, then actually go through with it. The last two years have definitely had their ups and downs, but I’d not want to be sharing them with anyone else.

Gillian – thank you. I love you and here’s to three, thirteen, thirty… more years of ridiculously mushy blog posts due to stupid decisions.

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