Tuesday 30 March 2010

Truth is beauty, beauty is... computer generated

I’m never sure of the relevance of how art is created, but I was pulled in by the knowledge that this video is entirely computer generated. Personally I’m drawn by the aesthetic, so after a few minutes of “that’s impressive” I was able to enjoy the art as a whole, the video supported by the use of a Michael Nyman score (who composed the music for Gattaca and Wonderland). However despite reading Alex Roman's explanation I don't really understand, I only know it is vast and I am touched with sadness; for it is beauty against which I am insignificant.

Monday 29 March 2010

Online schizophrenic tweet

Pacman twitter cartoon
At one point I added a tweet feed if only to figure out how. "How" proved to be fairly straight forward, I'm having a problem with "why". Or maybe it's a problem with "how" do you find people you might be interested in following? I'm a little snotty with a method requiring such a short attention span and isn't the whole "follow a stranger" thing kind of wrong? Well obviously I'm doing this for research / everyone else is doing it / I'm desperate / I'm sad / I'm desperately sad / I have something unique to say...

Worse; over a month ago and for some totally inexplicable reason I created another account. I spent a long time setting one up, trying to find a unique name, which I still don’t like, created a background (because I'm like that) and then posted three tweets. I've still only posted three tweets. Is that the correct terminology? So that's two accounts; one under my 'real' identity, which hardly affords the unexpurgated truth - and one for an assumed character of some past historical figure. I had this notion of becoming urbane and witty but it's hardly original and a notion doesn't make you become so; it's there should I inherit the trait through accident.

So I'm back to searching on favourite films; The Fountain is a good start but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind matches everyone on the planet. Better to search on some older classics; Now Voyager, The Browning Version, but I don't have the patience and my mind inevitably wanders. Isn't unexpurgated a terrific word?

Saturday 20 March 2010

Perfectly normal paranoia

In the spirit of enlightenment and in true socialist fashion I’m going to pigeon-hole everyone into one of the following groups:
  1. Ignorance is bliss.
  2. It might never happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  3. It is going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  4. Run for your lives.
For those who posit "there is something you can do about it"… do I really need to say where they belong?

It's then I remember:
You know, all this explains a lot of things. All my life I've had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was.
Thankfully I read this (or maybe saw the BBC series) at a young age and it helped explain those occasional moments in my life when it appeared the world around me was going to sh*t. Because as the wonderfully named Slartibartfast put it:
…that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

The soundtrack of my life

Wonderland Gina McKee
So Before Sunrise and Reality Bites were disappointments, but in his defence he featured in a really great film, Gattaca. Admittedly Ethan Hawke isn’t the reason this film is so good but he deserves praise for not messing it up. Sometimes that’s enough; I, Robot for example was a huge let-down not through being bad, but because it could have been so much better. Gattaca delivered partially down to the story but I mostly remember the music. Michael Nyman composed the score for this and another great film, Wonderland. Two films with completely different subjects but alike with musical scores of such sadness; sorrow has rarely been so beautifully expressed. One film that of a clinically clean dystopian future, the other of a grimy depressing present; and I love them both – it must be down to my sunny personality. Not exactly the soundtrack of my life, but there's definitely a theme.

Sunday 14 March 2010


Wings of Desire
Against expectations I found time to watch Wings of Desire, but I needed a couple of strong coffees as I was feeling very tired. I’ll pay for that later. It was poetic, hypnotic and I liked the background; but if I were to make one criticism it would be the scene at the bar/lounge - too many words. I can’t think of another way to phrase that and I know it makes me sound like a Neanderthal, an opinion that will be hardened when I mention another film with the same problem; Before Sunrise. In all other respects it’s an unfair comparison since it was one minor quibble of a film that was otherwise excellent; whereas Before Sunrise, consumed with its own importance, was self indulgent crap - though I’ll bet fans of Dawson’s Creek loved it.

Ouch, that sounds a bit harsh doesn’t it? It’s the last film I can remember not watching to the end. I’m fanatical about such things, even complete rubbish, so I must have had some kind of allergic reaction to stop after less than half an hour. But hey, I’ll be magnanimous, I’ll give it a second chance, I just pray that at some point Ethan Hawke pauses for breath. It was the second time he’d let me down, having gone to see Reality Bites at the cinema and being tempted to walk out after – oh – about thirty minutes. Annoying, but I’d paid good money (whatever that means) so I endured the tale of obnoxious-little-jerk meets girl, obnoxious-little-jerk wins girl; I guess it was back in the days when being an obnoxious little jerk was – like – cool – yeah?

Saturday 13 March 2010

Out, damned report

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, though since I can’t remember any good bits I’d take that with a pinch of salt. I am so tired and I can’t decide whether it’s due to a lack of sleep or working on reports, or a lack of sleep due to working on reports. I do know I don’t want another week like that, but since I’ve not yet finished there’s every chance I will. Regression testing will prove even more painful since there’s work on systems of which I have even less or no knowledge - but then neither does anyone else. On one report I removed an entire list of recipient addresses, people involved in the development, people who have all been made redundant. My address is on there now but for how long?

So I would be well advised to make the most of the weekend. However my hope of watching Wings of Desire, years after getting the DVD, has failed to materialise. Saturday afternoon was my chance and I’m realistic enough to know how the evening will turn out. You see that sad grey haired man sunk on the sofa, brain barely active (it’s for the best) whilst watching Casualty on BBC One? That’s me that is, that’s my future.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

I call them jumpers too

From my first I knew
'Please do tell me
But don't say a thing'

Then I saw you
And my mind raced ahead
Though my heart would sing

So listening in I said
'I call them jumpers too'
And you turned to me

And smiled

Monday 8 March 2010

A weekend of Internet Explorer, Jessica Alba and air hockey

Miniature air hockey table
So much happened, but not to me. I continued my voyage of discovery with HTML/CSS and had that light-bulb moment when I started to realise why so many people have it in for Internet Explorer. I wasn’t one of them and I’m still not, but I get the frustration. Then there were the Fantastic Four films, yes I watched them both, featuring the air-brushed perfect Jessica Alba. They’re enjoyable fluff and to me the most comic-book like of all the recent comic book adaptations. But most of the weekend was spent on a Christmas present from my parents. Thirty years too late they bought me the ultimate gift and after putting it together this weekend I’ve been practicing how to lose to Little Miss R at air hockey. It’s a lot of fun.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Do developers dream of agile sheep?

Circumstances being what they are I’m currently working in a very small team. That would be the team of one, starring Chuck Norris. There are some advantages, besides the ability to fight off terrorists with my bare hands, such as worrying less about reviews whilst maintaining quality. I still review; it was the memory of past conflicts that always had me worried. I’ve been lucky to have worked with some personable people for several years, thus the process was relatively untroubled, but have been around long enough to remember a few toxic environments; where failure was less an opportunity to learn and more a chance for one-upmanship and the establishment of hierarchy.

Somewhat behind the curve I’ve been thinking a lot about Agile, this despite the mention of daily stand-ups. I didn’t pay much attention to this element at first but recently it’s occurred to me that far from being a euphemism there are probably some who interpret this literally – who require it. Having no first hand experience I’m ill-placed to comment, but who’d have thought keeping a meeting on-point would require something so prescriptive? Certainly not me; anyone who’s been in a meeting with sales knows that standing up won’t help… though running away might.
agile development explained cartoon
However I’m still fascinated, I always liked rapid application development. It’s the potential of seeing it done well that grabs the imagination; to interact with others on a regular basis with constructive comment given and taken, driving the project forward, continually improving the outcome. Only I’m not sure how the more ‘robust’ personalities are encouraged to value others as much as they value themselves. Perhaps this isn’t in the remit; yet I’ve read a blog or two that hint at the possibility. Wouldn’t it be great if a methodology enabled better product and better people? Or should I just go and hug a tree?