You are viewing lequack

lequack

Recent Entries

You are viewing the most recent 10 entries

July 19th, 2007

08:52 am: "It's Magic" Public Show
A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to be in the second row of a spectacular magic and illusion show, celebrating a hundred years of magic in Australia. The Australian Society of Magicians decided to organise a convention for the festivities, inviting magic clubs from New Zealand and Australasia, hoping not only to attract the big names, but for it to be the largest magic convention in the Southern Hemisphere.
My boyfriend Danielninjafoo who has recently become a member, is of course attending the convention, taking in lectures and shows by some of the most notorious magicians in Australia and the World. Daniel talked me into changing my work schedule so that I could attend the public show, and I am pleased that I did. The show was fantastic boasting both local and international talent, with names such as the renowned Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, Lennart Green, Gaetan Bloom, Shawn Farquhar, Shoot Ogawa, also with our very own Raymond Crowe, Sam Angelico, Cath Jamison and Joel Howlett.
The Ross Skiffington Grand Magic Company were also a part of the show and throughout the performance they executed a variety of tricks from their world famous magic and illusion show. Also featured was the Peter Wallace School of Art and Dance, and to top it all off the night was emceed by the extremely talented English magician Steve Walker. He has a dry comical delivery with the magic he performs, and he had Daniel and I in hysterics all night with his jokes.
For someone like me who has not seen much professional magic performed, for $30 it was an absolute bargain. Jeff McBride was the magician I was most in anticipation of, and he did not fail to deliver. This famous American magician has been Daniel's main influence since he first purchased a few of his DVD's, and it was amazing to see him do his mystical mask routine, and some card manipulation live and in person.
Over the night I witnessed so many fabulous illusions and tricks that I would have to write a book to do each magician justice, because each performance was interesting and mystical in their own individual way, so I will briefly write about the acts which I thought stood out.
I thought that Raymond Crowe was devilishly funny with his dancing ghost jacket routine, and clever shadow puppetry. Lennart Green had everyone absolutely baffled with his clumsy cuts and shuffles, particularly when he was able to set up the deck in order, in this manner. Sam Angelico was very cheeky with his misdirection, and flawlessly was able to steal the watch and wallet off a man he had pulled from the audience without anyone realising, not even his victim.
Gaetan Bloom was amazing, as due to a mix-up at the airport he was minus not only his luggage but also his magic props, he improvised with ordinary everyday props and blew everyone away with his ingenuity. He did an effect where a card ended up inside a lemon, which was inside a an orange that was inside a grapefruit, this was in a lettuce and the entire lot was encased in a box. He had supposedly made a salad of all those ingredients, and we did see him chop them up, but at the end as well as being found inside of each other they were miraculously whole.
I'm probably leaving a lot out, as I said it was a long night and their were so many clever gags. Two of the younger performers particularly caught my eye, Australian Joel Howlett and Shoot Ogawa who is originally from Japan but now based in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Shoot has won the prestigious magician of the year twice in 2002 and 2003, and he showed us his linking rings routine and his amazing sleight of hand with a vanishing magic wand trick.
The latter Joel Howlett is an up and coming Australian magician, not even eighteen years old with a striking resemblance to a certain fictional boy wizard and an impressive amount of awards to his name, it is clear to all that this young man has a promising career ahead of him in magic. He executed a perfect linking rings routine, and his stage presence and persona was excellent.

July 17th, 2007

08:53 am: A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to be in the second row of a spectacular magic and illusion show, celebrating a hundred years of magic in Australia.  <href="http://www.magicians.org.au/">The Australian Society of Magicians</a> decided to organise a convention for the festivities, inviting magic clubs from New Zealand and Australasia, hoping not only to attract the big names, but for it to be the largest magic convention in the Southern Hemisphere.
My boyfriend Daniel who has recently become a member, is of course attending the convention, taking in lectures and shows by some of the most notorious magicians in Australia and the World. Daniel talked me into changing my work schedule so that I could attend the public show, and I am pleased that I did.
The show was fantastic boasting both local and international talent, with names such as the renowned Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger, Lennart Green, Gaetan Bloom, Shawn Farquhar, Shoot Ogawa, also with our very own Raymond Crowe, Sam Angelico, Cath Jamison and Joel Howlett. The Ross Skiffington Grand Magic Company was a part of the show and throughout the performance they executed a variety of tricks from their world famous magic and illusion show. Also featured was the Peter Wallace School of Art and Dance, and to top it all off the night was emceed by the extremely talented English magician Steve Walker. He has a dry comical delivery with the magic he performs, and he had Daniel and I in hysterics all night with his jokes.
For someone like me who has not seen much professional magic performed, for $30 it was an absolute bargain. Jeff McBride was the magician I was most in anticipation of, and he did not fail to deliver. This famous American magician has been Daniel's main influence since he first purchased a few of his DVD's, and it was amazing to see him do his mystical mask routine, and some card manipulation live and in person.
Over the night I witnessed so many fabulous illusions and tricks that I would have to write a book to do each magician justice, because each performance was interesting and mystical in their own individual way, so I will briefly write about the acts which I thought stood out. I thought that Raymond Crowe was devilishly funny with his dancing ghost jacket routine, and clever shadow puppetry. Lennart Green had everyone absolutely baffled with his clumsy cuts and shuffles, particularly when he was able to set up the deck in order, in this manner. Sam Angelico was very cheeky with his misdirection, and flawlessly was able to steal the watch and wallet off a man he had pulled from the audience without anyone realising, not even his victim. Gaetan Bloom was amazing, as due to a mix-up at the airport he was minus not only his luggage but also his magic props, he improvised with ordinary everyday props and blew everyone away with his ingenuity. He did an effect where a card ended up inside a lemon, which was inside a an orange that was inside a grapefruit, this was in a lettuce and the entire lot was encased in a box. He had supposedly made a salad of all those ingredients, and we did see him chop them up, but at the end as well as being found inside of each other they were miraculously whole.
I'm probably leaving a lot out, as I said it was a long night and their were so many clever gags. Two of the younger performers particularly caught my eye, Australian Joel Hewlett and Shoot Ogawa who is originally from Japan but now based in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Shoot has won the prestigious magician of the year twice in 2002 and 2003, and he showed us his linking rings routine and his amazing sleight of hand with a vanishing magic wand trick. The latter Joel Hewlett is an up and coming Australian magician, not even eighteen years old with a striking resemblance to a certain fictional boy wizard, it is clear to all that this young man has a career ahead of him in magic. He executed a perfect linking rings routine, and his stage presence and persona was excellent.



Gaetan Bloom - Forgot his luggage, card to lemon inside orange inside grapefruit inside lettuce inside box - and I've probably missed some.
Eugene Burger -
Joel Hewlett - Linking rings
Cath Jamison - Card stab
Shaun Farquhar - shape of my heart
Shoot Ogawa - magician of the year 2002 & 3

March 21st, 2007

04:37 am: Nightmare Delivery

My partner Daniel recently purchased a new computer from Sydney for his dad, which he paid for by credit card over the Internet. He also ordered a new keyboard, so he had two palettes that were to be delivered to Melbourne, then subsequently dropped off at our home address in a Toll Ipec truck. The goods in question cost around $1300, and Daniel was keen for a speedy delivery.


Through Toll Ipec's track and trace system we were aware that the palettes arrived at the Melbourne Toll Ipec Depot on Thursday 8th March and were ready to be delivered.


Friday 9th March;

The goods do not arrive today, and although we are disappointed because we will now have to wait until Tuesday for delivery (long weekend, bah!), we are understanding and patient.


Tuesday 13th March;

However by the afternoon on the Tuesday I decide to ring up and ask Toll Ipec about the goods in question. I rang the customer service line (1300 TOLL IPEC), and was assured that the delivery would be made by the end of the working day.


Wednesday 14th March;

Alas no the goods did not arrive the day before so I gave them until midday and then gave them a ring to find out what was going on. I am informed that the goods did leave the depot on a truck the day before but went back to the depot because the driver was sick. At the time I was not worried but in hindsight it makes you wonder why there was not a spare driver.

Now that the goods were ridiculously late, Toll Ipec assigned me an investigator, a lady by the name of Cheryl. She assured me over the phone that she would resolve the issue quickly.


Thursday 15th March;

I ring first thing in the morning because the delivery has still not been made, and I am thoroughly sick of being told it will be delivered only to be disappointed. This time I was told that the goods went back to the depot on the previous day because the driver had an emergency. At this stage I begin to wonder why they are procrastinating, are the goods possibly lost, stolen or damaged? However Cheryl once again promises delivery by the end of the day or early the next, and she mentioned about putting it into the system as priority.


Friday 16th March;

By this stage I was livid and Daniel was criticising me for not being assertive enough whilst on the phone to the company. Once again I rang early because I was anxious to sort this out before the weekend because Toll Ipec do not operate their business on the weekends. Cheryl now tells me that there has been a dispute with the driver, but that she had spoken to the Depot Manager and the issue would be resolved today, come what may. However she did mention that they were unable to locate one of the palettes in the big warehouse and that would need to be chased up first, then she would call to confirm that the items were about to be sent off.

I was not called back and by 3 pm was suspicious that once again the goods would not show up so I called to speak to Cheryl. She decided that enough was enough, and that she would order a courier to make the delivery within the next five hours. I dared to believe her and was once again sorely disappointed, and would have to wait out another weekend, and I couldn't even contact them to tell them that the courier didn't turn up. Now I was not only angry, I was wondering about where my goods were and if they were being stored safely and correctly. Daniel was saying that I was being a push-over, and that I would have to get angry and demand answers if I wanted the goods delivered any time soon. At this stage I did have to agree because being nice and patient was getting me nowhere.


Monday 19th March;

Today was the day that I was going to demand delivery, and if this did not happen I would have to take the matter higher. I rang at 8 am as soon as their phone lines opened and was informed that the courier was booked on Friday and it was the first that they had heard that the goods never arrived. Cheryl said she would ring the Truck Depot and find out what was happening. So despite being a night shift worker, I am forced yet again to sit by the phone and wait when I should be sound asleep.

For an entire hour I heard nothing, and I was feeling uneasy about it all so I rang back at 9.15 am and was told that the courier drop was not made because one of the items is still unlocated in the main warehouse. She said it was being searched for and I would be notified when it was located. She also mentioned that she has given the Depot Manager a hard time about it all and that he had hung up on her. (unprofessional)

Dissatisfied with the current prognosis Daniel got me to call back and warn them that we wanted delivery today or there would be trouble. Unbelievably I heard back from them within the hour and the goods were delivered within the next four hours. Sadly enough being a patient and understanding customer got no results, yet when I gave them an ultimatum they changed their tune real quick. I am glad that we finally got the goods and that there was nothing wrong with them, but I doubt whether I would ever deal with Toll Ipec again.






February 9th, 2007

05:36 pm: Nullus Anxietas
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI am extremely excited because the very first Discworld Convention to be held in Australia “Nullus Anxietas”, starts today. The convention is luckily enough being held in my home town of Melbourne, at the Carlton Crest Hotel. I was introduced to the intriguing world of Discworld when I met my boyfriend Daniel about eight years ago, he has been a fan for many years. Since then I have enjoyed reading many of the books of the Discworld series penned by the British author Terry Pratchett.

Pratchett created the fantastical Discworld, a strange and mystical world that travels through space on the backs of four elephants, that stands on the back of a giant turtle. His characters though mostly of a supernatural nature as in witches, dwarfs, vampires etc have a strong emphasis on humanity. Although they do have special powers and magic, just like ordinary people they are concerned about their next meal and earning a buck. His stories cover real issues such as politics and social humanity, while blending humour and satire in the mix, the result is a book that not only makes you laugh, but makes you think about the serious issues in the real world.

The whole idea of going to a Discworld Convention is so totally nerdy, it's fantastic. I can't wait for the Gala Dinner on Saturday night where I am going dressed up as a witch. To Ankh Morpork I go ...

Friday 9th February
In typical fashion of the first day of a conference, particularly a first of it's kind in Australia, a lot was happening. There were organisers and volunteers dashing around all over the place making sure they'd thought of everything, but not much was going on yet for the attendees. So basically we registered, picked up our programs (great souvenir because attendee names are published in it) and badges, then headed into the city for some shopping. I still needed to find a witch hat for my costume.

After a few hours of wondering in the city we headed back to the convention about 4pm and settled into the Mended Drum (dining room) to play Thud. This is the first ever official Discworld board game, a game of strategy where the rules are simple, but it takes practise and skill to become any good at it. Daniel and I were very impressed, when Terry Pratchett arrived in the room for an informal question and answer session, although it did leave us wondering about how boring it must be to be asked the same questions over and over again.

We then wondered into The Great Hall to listen to a discussion about Terry Pratchett versus J.K Rowling". As you would imagine the talk was somewhat biased (well it's hard not to be) considering this was a Discworld Convention. However it was interesting to hear from Terry himself about how he is often pitted against Rowling and vice versa, even though they have completely different writing styles, it's just that they are both British and write fantasy books. The truth is that they have no ill- feelings towards each other, and a lot of the so-called hype is caused by maniacal fans.

Daniel and I tried to contact his sister Georgia knowing that she must be off work by now, but we could not reach her. She was very keen and had even made sure that we remembered to get tickets to the convention in time, as she had already purchased her ticket almost a year previous. Knowing that she hadn't as yet registered we were concerned that she may have forgotten all about it.

Finally it was time for The clearing of the Throat Ceremony, so we settled in for the introductory proceedings and speeches. The very talented crew that were involved in the first live-action Discworld movie Troll Bridge had prepared a special short film of Rincewind (Discworld character) the wizard finding himself lost in Melbourne. The film was well shot and featured prominent Melbourne landmarks including the Carlton Crest Hotel, where he has supposedly been last seen. At this point the actor portraying Rincewind burst into 'The Great Hall' in character running all over the place and screaming incoherently as he tried to hide (which are his charater traits). The audience was in hysterics, and thus Nullus Anxietas had really begun.

Then there were the usual thanks for turning up type speeches by the organisers, and a general plea that people behave themselves while at the convention. Terry Pratchett then gave a short welcoming speech, mentioning that he loves to holiday in Australia because he seems to get a lot of writing done when he visits. He jokingly admonished that his trips to Australia should be tax write-offs due to this. That concluded the first day, however we had still not made any contact with Georgia.

Saturday 10th February
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWe woke Georgia up with a phone call in the morning, and tragically she had forgotten about it. Luckily though she hadn't missed all that much, and still had two days to look forward to. We got a lift to the convention with Daniel's Dad who also swung by to pick Georgia up, on the way. We made great time considering, and were just in time for the beginning of Terry's speech. Unfortunately we did not make it in time to procure seats, so Danial and I missed out. Annoyingly though I noticed an extremely selfish person laying down across five seats, while Dan and I stood for the entire hour. (me in high-heels because I was already dressed for the gala dinner)

Terry's speech was lively and entertaining, he spoke candidly about Discworld from its humble beginnings through to his latest works, the recently published Wintersmith (Tiffany Aching series) and the soon to be published Making Money (sequel to Going Postal) He also touched on issues such as his passion for writing, and how he focuses on a particular audience, whilst using the tools of wit and satire to keep his stories interesting and appealing to a wide audience. He did also speak somewhat guardedly about where he might take the series next, however his fans should not have to wait too long as he publishes two novels (always of excellent quality) a year on average.

Next in the days line-up was the first half of the obligatory signing session. Dan and I wanted to get our Thud game board (we purchased it at the convention for $35, bargain) and a couple of hard-back books signed so I offered to stand in line while Daniel and Georgia looked in on the programs running at the time. I stood in line for an hour and a half, my feet were sore and I was irritable but eventually when I had my things signed and had received my souvenir fake tooth from the production of Hogfather I was as happy as could be. I plan to use my tooth to make a necklace.

All that standing in heels had finally taken its toll and I desperately needed to sit down for a bit. We headed down to that bar for overpriced refreshments, (always a problem with conventions held at hotels) at this stage it didn't matter, I needed the food and rest badly.

After lunch they had a version of Blankety Blanks (famous quiz tv show) called wossnames happening in The Great Hall. The game involves the contestant being given a scenario in the form of a sentence in which they must fill in a blank word, they write this down but do not reveal their answer until a group of panelists each record an answer. The answers are then revealed and any match between the contestant and a panelist/s earns the contestant points. This version of the game was obviously Discworld related, and it did prove to be amusing because of the funny and risque answers that the contestants and panelists came out with. By now it was time to have another beer, then get ready for the Gala Dinner.

I have to say that the Gala Dinner' was spectacular, the costumes were outstanding, the food delicious and the company warm and inviting. Daniel, Georgia and I were sedately costumed with Dan and Georgia dressed in black as Assassins, and I in a long black dress with my witch hat. It was rather amusing the looks I received from the non-convention hotel guests, when I wore my hat in the hotel bar. The amount of effort some attendees put into their costumes was amazing. The stand-out though was the Death of Rats costume, which did take out the best costume award.

After dinner we shuffled back into The Great Hall for Terry's Bedtime Stories. He read parts of his yet to be published new book Making Money. This was absolute bliss, if only I had my doona and slippers I could have fallen asleep. Some of the convention goers who were staying at the hotel did actually turn up in their pyjamas and bed robes. What a day, I was extremely content but also very tired and found Terry's voice to be very soothing.

Sunday 11th February
Due to the late night, and also quite a few drinks at the dinner Daniel and I slept in. I drove us back to the convention about lunch time, unfortunately we had missed the question and answer session with Terry. When we arrived he was busily signing away for the second instalment of the obligatory signings. With time to spare we had some lunch, played some more Thud and then had a look in on the charity auction. There were some really cool and obscure Discworld items that were mostly way out of or price range. The auction ran over-time, but this was actually a good thing because we were able to have a chat with Terry in the foyer while he waited for the conclusion of the auction.

Sadly though, now it was time to say goodbye. Terry wished his final farewells, and the organising committee were thanked for all the hard work that had gone in to making the convention possible. The first ever Discworld Convention in Australia had been largely a success, and I would not hesitate to go to further conventions down the track.

Current Mood: productive

February 15th, 2006

12:33 pm: letter to the editor (melbourne's herald sun)
It is making me sick hearing people say how much they deserved it...

Please explain to me why anyone would be happy that the Bali (nine) drug mules, have received life sentences. If they had been sentenced in Australia they might have had a decent chance for rehabilitation. Now all they have to look forward to is rotting in a Balinese jail cell. I'm not saying that I condone the actions of the drug mules, but I can't understand how the Federal Police could allow them to be prosecuted in Indonesia, where they have such a hard stance on drugs. Is Australia possibly too busy with their own underground drug wars?


Totally off the subject I missed the last to episodes of Carnivale, so I have written to the Herald Sun Tv Guide, hoping that they may know when the DVD will be released;

I have really enjoyed watching the tv series "Carnivale" on the ABC.  It is a classy, smart and well made drama series with supernatural themes that caters to a more sophisticated audience, as opposed to the more mundane shows such as "Charmed" or "Buffy".  Unfortunately I missed the last two weeks of season two, and I was wondering if there was a release date for the DVD?

Current Mood: blahblah

September 22nd, 2005

09:08 pm: Linux
Linux: An Alternative Operating System

Linux was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds as a hobby when he was a student at the University of Helsinki in Finland. He was interested in creating an operating system that would be efficient, cost effective and best of all easy to adjust and modify to suit the needs of the user. Linux is similar to Unix but is much more affordable to use on personal PC’s.

Linux was suitably impressed by the Unix operating system as a young student studying computer science. Unix was developed in the 1960’s by the Defence Department, IBM, AT&T, UC-Berkeley and MIT. This system developed a standard computer language that allows computers to communicate, and made technological advancements such as the Internet quite possible. However to purchase the software at that time was $5000 US, and the software could only run on a $10,000 US workstation. The bottom line was that the Unix operating system was impractical for personal use in the home.

Therefore Linus decided to create a Unix clone that would bring all the hacking power of Unix to a desktop PC. In early 1991 he had completed the ‘kernel’ which is the essential part of an operating system, that works specifically with the processor, and called it ‘Freax’ short for ‘Free Linux’. However when he tried to post this name on the web, the FTP site manager didn’t appreciate the connotation. So he renamed it Linux, which was the name he had been utilising for his personal use at home. At first he was a bit worried about it being egotistical, but after the phenomenal success of the operating system the name has stuck and he was glad after all that he named it Linux and not Freax.

By October 1991 Linus released Linux .02, the first functioning Linux operating system. Linux was patented by Linus under the GNU General Public Licence, and this meant that it was free and available, but protected form being distributed without its source code. Linux has become popular with hackers and students because of its accessibility and the fact that they can research, modify and redistribute under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence.

The kernel is responsible for providing secure access to the machine’s hardware and to various computer processes. A process is a computer program in the state of implementation. An easy way to describe the Linux kernel is that is the heart of the operating system. The Linux kernel is written almost exclusively in the C computer language, with some GNU C language extensions. The source code for Linux is ‘free software’ and the kernel is worked on and improved with the assistance of developers all around the world. The kernel is best known as the core of the GNU/Linux operating systems. Distributions of software based on this kernel are called GNU/Linux distributions.

The considerable value of Linux comes from ‘Open Source’ and ‘Free Software’ programs. Richard Stallman the founder of the GNU General Public Licence, was the man behind the ‘Free Software’ movement in the early ‘80s. Stallman’s ideas were in response to the ever increasing growth of companies and organisations that have ownership and intellectual property rights for specifically designed software. He believed that it was a matter of freedom, and not about the price. To put it succinctly, free as in ‘free speech’ not ‘free drinks’. Stallman wanted the following liberties to be provided for users; ability to run the program for any reason, freedom to study and then even modify how the program works, also to benefit others the freedom to redistribute copies, and so that the whole community can benefit the freedom to enhance the program and release these improvements to the public.

Open Source is similar to Free Software, yet is a gentler term without the moral or political implications. The Open Source Initiative asserts that it is a pitch for free software on solid practical and realistic grounds rather than ideological ones. In other words it is similar to Free Software in a philosophical way only, however its objectives are characterised in terms of the efficiency, quality and rationality of Open Source rather than the liberties of Free Software. Those who are interested in Open Source on pragmatic terms often find that the principles and freedoms of Free Software are its greatest advantage.

GNU is literally a recursive acronym for ‘GNU is not Unix’. In 1983 well before Linus created the Linux kernel Stallman had a goal to create a complex Unix-compatible operating system that he called the GNU system or just GNU. Stallman’s objective was to license software under the GNU project so that it was free and that users would be able to copy, modify and redistribute it. The GNU project is now carried out under the auspices of the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

A Linux Distribution is a Unix-like operating system comprising software components such as the Linux kernel, the GNU-Tool chain and assorted free software, Open Source and possibly proprietary software. The GNU Tool chain is the programming tools produced by the GNU project. Companies such as Red Hat, Mandriva and Ubuntu, and community projects such as Debian and Gentoo Linux assemble and test the software before releasing their distribution. There are currently over 300 Linux distribution projects in active development, revising and improving their respective distributions.

The greatest advantage of Linux is that it can do anything that Unix can do, but it can do it on a $1000 desktop PC. Absolutely anyone can download it off the Internet for programming or hacking or even to adapt a desktop PC into a Web server. As soon as Linus distributed Linux with source code, programmers all over the world showed immense interest in this alternative operating system. Linus also began receiving patches, that is small pieces of programming to improve the kernel, from programmers all around the world. Not only was it well received by programmers and hackers, but also with Universities that began using it to teach programming courses, and a number of businesses began running Linux on their server computers.

The question that most people ask though is how Linux compares to Microsoft. The difference between the two is that Microsoft is a closed system and Linux is an open system. Essentially Microsoft makes its operating system simple by ’handcuffing’ it, and keeping the user limited to doing only what Microsoft allows them to do. That is because Microsoft do not share the source code, and the developers wanted to create a simple operating system that would allow the programming ignorant to use computers productively. Linux just like Unix is an open system which means that the source code is freely available. The user can alter and customise the system, for most of us this would be time-consuming and complex, but for Linux users it is the ultimate freedom.

Another big difference between Microsoft and Linux is the stability of Linux. Linux users say that their machines may go down once a year, compared with the constant battle administrators have to keep Microsoft Windows NT going. This is not because Linux is engineered any better, but because there are so many people working on it, and it is more greatly tested. The industry research firm Datapro named Linux the second most popular Web server operating system behind Sun Microsystems, and this is why as well as the stability, big businesses are using Linux. Companies as diverse as Yahoo!, Boeing and the Virginian Power Company run Linux, and even IT companies such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM are now utilising Linux.

Of course though Linux is just an alternative and proves to be no real threat to Microsoft, but there is evidence to suggest that even Microsoft programmers use Linux at home. However there are those that do think that Microsoft should be worried, because if Linux made the jump from workstations to desktops then Microsoft’s $2 billion US market could be decreased to just $200 million US. At this stage the only drawback for Linux is software, but more and more is released for Linux each passing year. A big advantage with Linux is that because it takes up so little space on the hard drive it can run as a hybrid system alongside Windows, so that the user can still play all their favourite games and utilise software that can only run in Windows.

Linux may not be a direct threat to Microsoft yet, but the future could change all that. At the moment Linux mainly appeals to science and computer students, programmers and hackers, but with the huge expense of running a desktop computer, and keeping up with software upgrades perhaps more people will be happy to try out the inexpensive Linux. However if you are looking for an alternative operating system, Linux is definitely a great place to start.
linux

September 20th, 2005

04:26 pm: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Review
The classic children’s story written by Roald Dahl has been made into a feature film for the second time. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is the story of a boy named Charlie who is desperately poor, and lives with his parents and two sets of grandparents, in a small rickety house on the edge of town. The house is shadowed by a huge chocolate factory owned by Mr. Willy Wonka, and more than anything Charlie would like to have a look inside the factory.

Charlie gets his hopes up when Wonka holds a competition for five children to visit his factory. However as there are only five golden tickets in the whole world hidden in Wonka chocolate bars, and the only time Charlie gets a single bar of chocolate is for his birthday each year, he begins to realise that it would be a miracle if he got one. He watches with envy as four other children find golden tickets and had given up any hope that he may find one. Miraculously though after finding money in the street and purchasing a Wonka bar, Charlie finds the fifth and final golden ticket.

It is a typical story of the ‘underdog’ overcoming the odds, not just because they want something so bad, but because they need something special to happen to their lives. Even though Charlie and his family love each other very much and are fairly happy, they are living well below the poverty line, surviving mainly on cabbage soup. Day to day Charlie went to school hungry, resenting the other children that he saw greedily stuffing candy down their throats. Winning the final golden ticket gave Charlie hope that perhaps things might change.

This new version of the film was directed by Tim Burton (“Edward Scissorhands”. “Sleepy Hollow”), and the screenplay was written by John August (“Charlie’s Angels”, “Big Fish”) and is more serious than Mel Stuart’s fantasy creation of the story entitled “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”(1971). Apart from the title being the same as the book with the newer adaptation, it is also a much closer translation than its predecessor. The story is followed and kept mostly intact, even the original lyrics penned by Dahl for the songs of the Oompa Lompas, are used in the film. Danny Elfman’s musical score suit’s the films sarcasm, from the sounds of the cold steel candy making machines to the music accompanying the Oompa Loompas songs. August’s screenplay is much closer to Dahl’s original work, and Burton’s direction gives the film a much darker outlook than Stuart’s goofball candy confection.

However it is impossible to compare the films side by side, because they are both great films but in different ways. The original was made at a time where musicals were the done thing with practical effects and talented, interesting child actors. Stuart’s version may not be a classic but it has certainly stood the test of time with its sense of fun and tender realisation of childhood. The new film though is much more cynical, and the children aren’t quite so lively as in the original - but still it retains all the charm of the story and more. It is a genuinely fun family movie, and for anyone who is tired of the original sickly sweet Willy Wonka, they will love this icier version of the classic story.

The film stars Johnny Depp (“Sleepy Hollow”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”) as Willy Wonka, and his characterisation of the reclusive chocolate factory owner is much different to Gene Wilder’s (“The Producers”, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil”) softer one. Depp’s oddball quirky portrayal works well with Burton’s vision for a darker look to the film, and Depp definitely gives the character his own flair, which renders it completely different to Wilder’s. Freddy Highmore (“Finding Neverland”) is Charlie and he acts much more naturally than the other children, possibly because he had worked with Depp before. Charlie of course is the nice child out of all the children, and stays out of trouble. Along the way of the tour of the chocolate factory, nasty things begin to happen to the other misbehaving children.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a refreshing adaptation of one of the most loved children’s story. It remains much truer to the book, and is different enough from the 1971 Stuart movie to be a great success. Both adults reminiscing their childhood, and children alike will love this movie, about a little boy who really deserves good things to happen to him.

Rating: 8 ½ / 10
charlie

August 31st, 2005

06:32 pm: Review of 'The Island'
‘The Island’ M15+ (136 mins)
The film ‘The Island’, released in Australia in August 2005, was directed by Michael Bay (‘Bad Boys‘: 1995, ‘The Rock’:1996), and the story was written by Caspian Tredwell-Owen (‘Beyond Borders’: 2003). Tredwell-Owen was also involved in the production of the screenplay, along with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (both involved with Mission Impossible 3). The stars of the film are Ewan McGregor who plays Lincoln Six Echo/Tom Lincoln and Scarlett Johansson as Jordan Two Delta/Sarah Jordan. They are both very good and believable in their roles and are supported by a strong cast including, Steve Buscemi and Sean Bean.
‘The Island’ cannot be classified into just the one genre, because it is a mashing of several. It is an action, a drama, part sci-fi and part thriller that raises many controversial questions about how far technology will go. It also hits on the kind of boundaries that will be encountered, and possibly even crossed as more and more scientific discoveries are made.
Lincoln Six Echo is just one of many, of a group of survivors living in a utopian indoor facility because the world outside is apparently contaminated. Their everyday life is routine and monitored in every aspect from diet and exercise to their urine output. The only hope they have is to win the lottery to go to the ’island’ - supposedly the only uncontaminated spot left on earth.
However Lincoln Six Echo begins to question the existence that he and the others are experiencing, and realises that something is very wrong. He no longer trusts Merrick (Sean Bean) as being a benefactor and their only chance of survival and is suspicious about what happens to the people that go to the island. His friend Jordan Two Delta gets picked to go to the ‘island’, but fearing that there is in fact no island, Lincoln Six Echo grabs and they make a miraculous escape from the premises.
At first they are amazed by the fact that they don’t die from the contamination, but then they realise that they have been lied to. On the run together, they want to find out what they are, and also why they were deceived. However they are being chased the whole way, because someone desperately wants them to return to the facility, so they must fight for their lives, and try to stop the sinister work that Merrick is doing.
The action and suspense is non-stop as Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta find the answers they are looking for. The issues and ideas that are raised in this film were interesting and relevant to a society where technology is becoming more and more advanced. It was definitely an eye-opening look at the problems technology may cause in years to come, especially when it comes to differentiating between what is moral, and what is immoral.

Current Mood: indescribable

August 22nd, 2005

06:27 pm: Review of "Wedding Crashers"
Over the last month I have been working hard on my writing folio, which is for my journalism cadetship application - and I desperately needed some time out. So I went to the movies to see something light-hearted and humorous. No it definitely wasn’t deep, nor particularly meaningful, but it was a lot of fun. I went to see “Wedding Crashers” starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.

John (Wilson) and Jeremy (Vaughn) who are both divorce lawyers are best friends. They specialise however in crashing weddings - they sneak into weddings to eat, drink and smooze women. During the wedding season they have a lot of fun using fake names and making up absurd stories to get women into bed. It all goes to plan until they go to Senator Cleary’s (Christopher Walken) eldest daughter’s wedding, and accidentally fall in love with his other two daughters, Claire (Rachel McaAdams) and Grace (Isla Fisher).

From there they end up spending the weekend with the Cleary family, at their seaside mansion. John desperately loves Claire, but she already has a boyfriend, and Jeremy is overwhelmed by Grace who is infatuated with him, but seems to be a bit crazy. Will Jeremy stick it out so that John can woo Claire, and what will happen if they get found out as being frauds?

There were many laughs along the way as John and Jeremy get to know the Cleary family. Some of the hilarious moments are Grace being over amorous with Jeremy under the dinner table, and the sweet little grandma in the corner with an acid tongue, who says exactly what is on her mind. I wont give anymore away, but if you like comedies - specifically wedding comedies then this is a movie for you. I rate it 7/10 purely for the feel good notion of it, and although it was a bit silly, I did have a good laugh.

NB. Look out for Will Ferrell playing an outrageous character towards the end of the movie.
wedding crashers

August 17th, 2005

12:43 pm: Organ Donor Registration

Collectively my family made a huge but important decision last month. We decided to register as organ donors, so that in the unfortunate circumstance of death we might be able to give someone the gift of life. The decision was made as a family, however we couldn't really discuss it with my middle brother, who is autistic and does not talk, however we do strongly believe that he would have no objections.

Of course to think about your loved ones dying, or even yourself is not an easy process to go through. Though if you do think about it rationally you realise that if someone in your family, or someone that you know and care about was in need of a transplant, that it really is an important decision to make. The truth is that once you die, those organs are no longer needed, but they have the potential of keeping another person alive.

So to the people of Australia, and anyone who might happen to read this, please consider being an organ donor. Of course you should discuss  this with your family and loved ones first, especially so that they are aware of your feelings in relation to organ donation. When it comes down to it, it is a personal choice, but definitely one that you should think about greatly before you reach the decision that is right for you.

http://www.organdonor.com.au/cfm/SmartGate/Applications/LifeGift/default.cfm



Current Mood: calmcalm
Powered by LiveJournal.com