Thursday, 26 March 2009

Bloatly HP Drivers ate my disk

Does a printer/scanner really need 355MB of my Windows disk?

I bought a very nice HP Deskjet F4200 series printer, looks neat, cost very little, works well with my Linux PC using the Excellent HP Linux Imaging and Printing (HPLIP) software. The Linux drivers were about a 16MB download, the install downloaded a few small extra pieces of software.

The 355MB Windows install was a frugal install with all the unnecessary related software unchecked (I'm trying to keep this install as clean as possible to avoid a painfull startup time). This is crazy what's going on here, its only a printer driver, Office suites come smaller than that.

Something's badly wrong with the Windows platform if this sort of bloatware is really necessary to make it work.

That's it rant over now.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Who's watching the Watchmen?

...Well me for one. I've never read the graphic novel but had to go see Watchmen because of the buzz on the Internet. I was a little taken aback by the lackluster reviews in the regular media, but decided to ignore that and go make up my own mind.

So I went last night. It was an amazing film; the alternate reality 1985, the pschotic costumed hero's. These guys put Spiderman's angst in perspective (stop whining and grow up Spidey) here are some real problems and moral dilemmas to deal with. Rauchach makes The Dark Night seem positively well balanced by comparison, well for that matter even the Joker not really in the same league of sociopath as this guy. All the watchmen are pretty screwed up in some way. Just when you manage to work up an empathy and understanding for any of these characters and think you are starting to get where they're coming from, they do things that make you cringe and a new layer of the plot is revealed.

The special effects were well done. The only one I could have done without was Nixon's nose, which looked really stupid in profile and pulled me out of the story. The fight scenes worked well; not a film for you if you don't like the sight of blood or broken bones. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the cameras weren't being slammed about the place, so I wasn't pulled out of the story by vertigo during the fight scenes in the way that I was watching the later Batman and Spiderman films.

I do wonder if the 5 minutes to midnight doomsday scenario will have the same meaning to those who weren't teenagers in the 70's, I like many of our generation grew up with that feeling of anxiety when jets flew over at night. Does that give the story more of an edge for me and others in my generation?

I did wonder if the film ended a bit after the end of the film though, it would have ended just as well for me 5 minutes before the end. I've not read that criticism from anywhere else so maybe it's just me, or it may be that it can't be discussed yet for fear of spoilers.

I may have to read the graphic novel now to see how Alan Moore really told the story and to see how it ended. Even though he has dissociated himself from the film, hopefully he'll get some recompense from the extra sales of the the book that it'll inevitably generate.

I went to the film with someone who hadn't been into the hype at all and new nothing of the comic book, but his verdict was the same as mine: A fantastic film a thought provoking rollercoaster of a movie with more depth and conviction than any of the other comic book movies.

If you haven't been yet, I'd recommend that you go see it. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

How far away are stars?

Listen and watch George Hrab, describing how far away astronomical objects are to promote the 365 days of Astronomy podcast.

This also seems to have inspired Evo Terra co-founder of podiobooks and all round new media enthusiast to make a presentation called 'Big Distance'. Which while not quite as entertaining as George is just as accessible and fills in some more detail.

Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer appears to be live and kicking which is more than can be said of the old record industry model. It appears from her website that her record company didn't want to promote her first solo album "Who Killed Amanda Palmer". Social media may become who killed old media though. I heard about Amanda Palmer from Twitter, I watched her videos on Vimeo and bought the album for the price I chose at Hear of it from your social network, try before you buy, then recommend, that's the new model I prefer.

If you like this video then follow the whole series here, if you like them all then follow this link to the album's BandCamp page and download the album in format of your choosing at a price you choose, then spread the word.

There's a whole lot more collateral at the album's web site, which includes a media filled diary of the making of the album, and mentions the forthcoming book with text by Neil Gaiman and pictures by Kyle Cassidy & Co.