Monthly Archives: July 2011

Children of Earth: the final verdict, part 1: why Torchwood sucks

I finished watching Children of Earth, and I want to write about how good it is.  But before I can do that properly, I need to write about how gut-wrenchingly horrible the first two series of Torchwood were.

On one hand, a juvenile program about a bunch of overgrown children who run around chasing ghosts and obsessing about trivia; on the other hand, Scooby Doo.  Thank you, thank you, we’re here all week, don’t forget to tip your waitress!

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On trying to read Pawn of Prophecy

In 1997 or thereabouts, a friend’s wife lent me a book that she thought I’d enjoy.  Three years later, my family and I moved to a different part of London; a couple of years after that, my friend’s marriage broke up; fast forward a few more years and we moved out of London, I got a Ph.D in palaeontology, my wife got an MA in Music Therapy, I started writing The Reinvigorated Programmer … and the book remained unread.

This is that book: David Eddings’ Pawn of Prophecy, the first volume in his five-volume masterwork À la Recherche du Temps Perdu The Belgariad:

I just can’t make myself read it.

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Credit where it’s due: Children of Earth

I just want to post this brief note as a counterbalance to my recent post on How much I hate Torchwood.  Despite the delay described in that post, I did slog through to the end of the Series 2, and it was just as risible as I’d feared — I mean, astonishingly shallow and childish, appallingly written and dreadfully acted.

So I went into Series 3 (Children of Earth) with low expectations.  But having now seen the first three of the five episodes, I have to admit it’s much, much better than I’d dared hope.  Each of these three episodes has been far better than anything in either of the first two series.

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How tired is too tired?

In the last few weeks, inspired by my Index Data colleagues Adam Dickmeiss and Jakub Skoczen, I’ve started running.  Humilatingly short distances, and at laughably slow paces, but running nevertheless.  I’m forty-three, I weigh over a hundred kilograms, and I absolutely love good food and drink.  If I don’t do something, it would be terribly easy for me just to slowly but inexorably get fatter and more unfit until I keel over.

Overweight runner

For avoidance of doubt: this is not me.

So far I have run four times, racking up a less than inspiring total of maybe three miles.  So you might want to take what I say with a pinch of salt.  Still, I feel like I got a general insight on yesterday’s “run”, if you want to call it that, and as usual I am arrogant enough to assume that the world ought to be told.

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Web-sites! Do NOT pre-populate URL fields with “http://”

Who the heck is this meant to be for?

It’s the dialogue that WordPress gives you when you want to make part of the text of your blog entry into a link.  And the URL field comes pre-populated with a fatuous “http://”.  This saves me 0.4 seconds of typing on the one occasion in 1,000,000 that I intend to type the URL by hand.  On the other 999,999 occasions, it means instead that I have to highlight and delete the unwanted text before I can paste in the URL that I’ve copied.

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Memory expansions then and now

Thirty years ago, when I was about thirteen, I got a memory expansion for my VIC-20.  (I told the whole story a while ago).  Now, my eldest son Daniel is thirteen, and to congratulate him for an excellent set of end-of-year exam results, I bought him a memory expansion for his MP3 player.

Here they both are:

Memory expansions then and now

Mine is on the right; it provides 8 Kb.  Daniel’s is on the left: it provides 16 Gb.  So that’s two million times as much memory.

We’re living in the future.

Modern British folk singers

I’m looking for a bit of help here.  One of the styles of music that I love is what you might call “modern folk” — I don’t know if there is a proper name for it.  What I mean is reasonably sparse singer-and-a-guitar songs, cleverly written to be about something.  Current examples would include people like Dar Williams (listen, for example, to her song February or When I Was a Boy) and Richard Shindell.  Older and maybe better-known examples would be Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and a band like Crosby, Stills and Nash.

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On trying to read Dune

Matt Wedel is constantly telling me I need to read Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi epic Dune.  I’ve never been keen because of the vast number of sequels, but I finally gave in to his repeated requests and started on it last night, on my Kindle.

I got as far as page 4.  Since the Kindle shows small pages, I guess that’s part way down page 2 of a printed copy.  Here’s why:

Yes, Paul.  What is a gom jabbar?

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How much I hate Torchwood

I am slogging through Series 2 of the dreadful Torchwood, mostly just so I can say that I did it, and so that I can be as harshly critical of it as I want without people saying “Oh, but did you actually watch it?  It actually got quite good in Series 2, actually.”

He just watched “End of Days”

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