Author Archive | Ian Robinson

Favourite tracks from 2016

Here are my favourite new tracks released in 2016.

Mr David – Laura Doggett. Listen on Apple Music or YouTube.

Scars – Tove Lo. Listen on Apple Music or YouTube.

Interlude: I was Never Here – The Glass Child. Listen on Apple Music or Soundcloud.

Perfect Illusion – Lady Gaga. Listen on Apple Music or YouTube.

Growing Pains – Birdie. Listen on Apple Music or YouTube.

Here is an Apple Music Playlist with the 5 tracks.

Sully film review


I liked Sully: Miracle on the Hudson a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a dramatisation of the events that happened in January 2009 when US Airways Flight 1549 had to land on the Hudson River in New York after a bird strike damaged both engines shortly after takeoff. The actual flight time for Flight 1549 was only 208 seconds (3 minutes and 28 seconds), and the film is 96 minutes long. The flight scenes are repeated several times, but even so, there is a lot of additional time to fill.

The bulk of the film is taken up by the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) investigation, flashbacks to when Captain Chesley Sullenberger was learning to fly (including a similar incident in a Navy Phantom jet), and the reaction of Sully and the crew on being thrust into the national spotlight. I thought the flashbacks and the scenes were Sully was thinking about what might have happened if he hadn’t decided to ditch in the Hudson River were great. All the flight scenes in the film are excellent. Including those showing crashes that Sully imagines. I want a flight simulator that’s as good as that! The only disappointing part was the CGI of the water splash on one shot of the plane skidding on the water.

The NTSB investigators are depicted as very aggressive and as if they are looking to blame the pilots for the loss of the aircraft. I don’t know if the original investigators were that aggressive. I doubt it. But it probably had to be done to inject drama into the film for the non-flight scenes. Sully is worth seeing. See it in iMAX or MAXX if you can. Just for the flight scenes over New York alone. I rated it 8/10.

We need to fight for the future

It’s been a weird year from a politics point of view. The Brexit vote was a disaster for the UK and the world in general in my opinion. That was followed up by Trump winning the USA Presidential election. Both results allegedly due to people feeling left out of the way the modern world is changing. So they voted for campaigns led by two groups of mostly rich white men who couldn’t be more removed from the people affected by globalisation. The blue collar jobs that have moved from the UK and USA to Asia are not coming back. They will be taken by machines. Irrespective of where they happen to be situated.

It’s striking that many of the hangers-on and fellow travellers of the Brexit and Trump camps are anti science, anti women’s rights, evidence deniers, who promise the Earth then deliver little. They must be resisted.

I’m an internationalist. The Brexit supporters may get the UK out of the EU, but they’ll never get the European ideals out of me. The values of the European project and the Enlightenment are worth fighting for and will triumph in the end. But we must do it by educating people for the 22nd century and the change that ubiquitous smart manufacturing and machine learning will bring in. People will need to do other jobs that the machines will not do better. We should start by giving everyone a good basic income that they can live comfortably on. Then they can work on things that make them happy. Including looking after the planet and other people.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children film review

misperegrinsLoads of spoilers below.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is pretty standard stuff. All competently done if familiar to films that have gone before. The most interesting aspect was how existing in the 1 day time loops where the children live for protection means that they never get to grow up and experience life. I’d wonder if it was worth it. Samual L. Jackson does a lot of monologuing and I couldn’t help thinking about Frozone talking about that topic in The Incredibles. There is also a nice Jason and The Argonauts fighting skeleton section done with modern techniques. I rated it 6/10.

It’s worth getting an AppleTV just to run Magic Fireplace

Magic Fireplace icon

You can’t beat a good fire as the nights draw in. Unfortunately I don’t have a good fire. I do however have an AppleTV, an HD television, and a good sound system. So I can have a digital fire. Using the fabulous Magic Fireplace App from Jetson Creative. It displays one of 20 different HD videos of fireplaces. With a pleasing wood burning sounds. Perfect for dark evenings on the sofa with a book and a big mug of tea. Video below.

Testing Ulysses posting to WordPress

ulysses-macUlysses is a nice macOS and iOS application for writers. I prefer Scrivener myself for writing articles and fiction. But Ulysses can also post to WordPress Blogs. I’ve recently been having a few niggles with Blogo my WordPress posting app of choice. Weird text editing glitches and stuff. So I’m thinking of starting to use something else. So this post is a test to see what posts with images and links look like when composed and posted from Ulysses.

The Girl With All The Gifts film review

The Girl with All The Gifts film poster

Spoilers aplenty below.

I never jumped on the zombie apocalypse train when it left the station a few years ago. It was fully laden though as plenty of others did jump on. Witness the popularity of TV shows like The Walking Dead, and films like 28 Days Later and World War Z. I did jump on the zombie comedy film train though, with the films Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland.

It won’t come as a surprise, after that preamble, that The Girl with All The Gifts is a film in the zombie genre. Although the zombies are called hungries in the film, and the book. The book is how I came to the film. I read it last year after it was highly recommended on several Sci-Fi blogs. I liked it a lot. Both the book and the film script were written in tandem by M.R. Carey. They tell the story of Melanie (played by Sennia Nanua in the film), who is one of a group of children being held in a military base and research centre in England. Here they are taught, while strapped into wheelchairs that are pushed into the classroom, by a sympathetic teacher called Miss Justineau (Gemma Arterton). They are also used in medical research by a team led by Dr. Caldwell (Glenn Close) who are trying to find a cure or vaccine for the fungal infection that turns people into hungries. Turns out the children are from mothers who were infected before the children were born, and have a less damaging version of the fungal infection. A sort of symbiotic relationship with it. So they are neither human or hungries. But something different, and new. Melanie is very smart and quickly learns and remembers things she is told or sees.

The military base they are in gets overrun by hungries and Melanie, Miss Justineau, and Caldwell escape in an armoured truck with two soldiers, Sargent Parks (Paddy Considine) and Private Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade). They plan to drive towards another military base but the truck is damaged and they have to continue on foot through the hungries’ infested suburbs of London. Melanie starts to play an important role in helping the group navigate the dangerous streets. The hungries don’t attack anyone already infected with the fungus, so Melanie is able to move amongst them safely. The film is actually a coming of age story as Melanie comes to realise that she, and other feral children who are like her, are the future of humanity as they can coexist with the fungal infection. She takes actions to ensure that she and the other children survive.

I liked the film a lot. The book has more detail and exposition, as you would expect. But the film is good in its own right. The performance by Sennia Nanua as Melanie is fantastic. And she is ably supported by the four other principle cast members. The depiction of post-apocalyptic London is very well done. As are the hungries. The music is very suspenseful. In lots of scenes it is just shifting harmonic tones, but it’s very effective. I loved the ending to the book, and it’s there unchanged in the film. You should definitely go see this, then read the book if your haven’t already. I rated it 8/10.

Anthropoid film review

Spoilers below.

Anthropoid is a slightly harrowing account of the Czech resistance attempt to assassinate the Nazi commander Reinhard Heydrich in occupied Prague in 1942.

It tells the story of a pair of Czech resistance fighters, trained by the British in UK, who parachute back into Czechoslovakia with the orders to link up with the resistance in Prague and carry out their mission. There are other pairs who parachute in from the same plane. These other missions are not covered in the film but several of the parachutists are in the last third of the film when they are all reunited in Prague after their missions are over. The film has the drama, peril, and violence you would expect from one that depicts an authoritarian occupying force, without many scruples, who are looking within the general populace for resistance fighters. During some of the tense scenes my heart was racing. The first film since Room that has evoked such a response. In other scenes showing torture by the SS I was very uncomfortable about what I was seeing on screen. Harrowing.

Technically the film is excellent. A great depiction of 1940’s occupied Europe. The cinematography is great. The special effects and makeup are very good too. I don’t recall the music. The film isn’t a bundle of laughs, but as a resistance and Nazi occupation war film it is very good. Recommended. Rated it 8/10.

Outlook cloudy

I used to be an IT infrastructure person. I selected and installed the first Microsoft Exchange mail system in the large company I was working in during the mid 1990’s. I championed and introduced VMware as the virtualisation platform of choice in a different job in the mid 2000’s, before moving on to a technology innovation role to identify and champion new technologies.

If I was working in a company now in an infrastructure role I would have as much as possible of the server infrastructure off premise in the public cloud. I’d only have servers on premise, or in private cloud or a 3rd party data centre, if the data was too sensitive for a public cloud service. And in that scenario I’d adopt a hybrid cloud model with all the data I could have out on public cloud servers, with just the sensitive data on the in house part of the hybrid cloud. The public cloud services I’d use would be Office 365, Microsoft Azure, maybe Igloo for Intranet services, Slack for messaging, and Airwatch for endpoint device management. If any email accounts were mission critical I’d put them on the lowest spec Exchange Server possible in house as part of a hybrid deployment of Office 365.

The IT budget I controlled would be spent on having good redundant Internet connections and giving the users the choice of device they want to use. Be it Mac, Windows PC, iOS or Android tablet, iPhone, or Android phone.

Hell or High Water review

Spoilers below.

Hell or High Water is a modern western film. With all the things you would expect in a western, but with current setting. Events play out in rural Texas. Chris Pine plays Toby who is divorced from his wife and estranged from his two sons. His recently deceased mother has left him a ranch on which oil has been discovered. Problem is that his mother was in debt to the local Texas Midland Bank and they are going to foreclose on the loans if they are not paid back very soon. So money is needed quickly or the oil rich land will be lost.

Toby, and his career criminal brother Tanner (Ben Foster), embark on a series of early morning bank robberies of Texas Midland Bank branches in order to get the money to pay back the bank. Nice twist. Banks bleeding the people dry is an overarching theme of the film. All the robberies are small so don’t interest the FBI. They do interest the soon to retire Texas Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges) though, and he and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) go on the trail of the robbers. Jeff Bridges plays his role in a nice gnarly way. And has a good rapport and banter with Gil Birmingham’s character.

The film has everything you would want from a western. Even a modern one. Dusty sunlit Texan vistas, bank robberies, a posse like band of locals going after the robbers, a shoot out, a good sibling story with a sacrifice, nostalgia for a time that has passed, and a moral message about generational poverty and the role of banks. I liked it. Rated 7/10.

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