Monday, September 30, 2013

Review of World's End

A week ago, Kristin and I went to the movies and saw World's End. It was an entertaining movie.  Kristin sold it to me as "A bunch of friends go on a pub crawl, and killer robots show up."  I'd warn about spoilers here, but I doubt many folks will go to this movie expecting a comedy about a pub crawl.  But just in case, there will be more spoilers below.

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Of course, even with Kristin's spoiler, it wasn't what I expected.  The movie's primarily about a guy named Gary King.  On the day he graduated high school, he and his friends went on a pub crawl through all 12 pubs in the town where they grew up.  They only made it through nine, and Gary's been stuck ever since.  All his friends grew up, got jobs, had families, but while he left the town, Gary never really grew up.  He doesn't have any job that we've seen, no family, and really nothing in his life.  Then he hits on the idea of finishing the crawl, and making it through all 12 pubs this time, as if that will let him restart his life, this time correctly.

So he dragoons his friends into joining his quest, mostly by lying, and sets out to visit his hometown.  But things have changed.  People aren't the way they used to be, and a sort of sameness has infected the pubs. If you're thinking, "oh, everyone must have been replaced by robots," then you've read as much sci fi as I have. But where the description fails is the killer part.  The robots--don't call them that, as they're offended by the term--don't see themselves as invaders.  Rather, they're here to bring humanity into the galactic civilization by changing them for the better.  Yes, this sometimes means replacing people by transferring their minds, with small improvements, into robot artificial bodies, but by using these replacements to improve society as a whole, the vast majority of people should simply adapt to the new society.  This premise, that the robots would prefer not to replace them, justifies the fact that Gary King and his friends continue their pub crawl, pretending to fit in, rather than just making a run for it.  That, and Gary's crazy.  Of course, it doesn't take long for that to break down, and soon the friends are running for their lives (though Gary keeps insisting, against everyone's better judgement, that they run in the direction of the next pub in the crawl).  For a plan to replace only a small fraction of the population, it sure seems like everyone's a robot.

One of the things I found most remarkable was how proficient at fighting everyone was.  Gary King and his friends plowed through dozens of robots with some impressive moves, especially considering that they were all roaring drunk at the time. Or maybe that was why their moves were so impressive.

Ultimately, Kristin, at least, felt that the ending didn't work.  It felt inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the story.  Personally, I didn't think that.  I thought that if you were going to call the movie World's End, you had to go apocalyptic by the finale.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fire

This picture was taken about 5 pm on Tuesday from my office.
Smoke from a fire at the airport
The fire was apparently a fuel fire at the airport, according to the local news:
Crews quickly contained a two-alarm fire that was burning at a Logan Airport fuel farm Tuesday afternoon. Black smoke could be seen for miles from the fire on Prescott St. near the economy parking lot.

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The fire was in one of 12 underground fuel pumps and started at 5:00pm.
The news article says that the fire was "quickly contained", and the picture I took just a few minutes after the first one, at 5:04pm, confirms it:
The fire is gone and the smoke is beginning to dissipate.
Fortunately, no one was hurt, and as far as anyone can tell, it was an accident. It was a little alarming seeing that out my window, though.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Monday, September 02, 2013

The gesture keyboard

This is more of a comment on Android than on my phone in particular, but I'm starting to get the hang of the gesture keyboard that Android uses. It's much faster than the hunt-and-peck method I'm used to. Still, I've seen people much more practiced than I use it, so I know I have a ways to go. That said, I am getting better at it. And it's surprisingly forgiving if you make a mistake, and need to change your direction in the middle of a stroke. Or even if you're not quite on target with your strokes. Give me a little more practice, and maybe I'll try writing a novel with it. I've already used it for a couple of flash fiction stories.

It's also gotten me to start holding the phone in portrait mode when I type. With my iPhone, I always used my phone held in landscape whenever I needed to type something, so that I could use both thumbs without needing to reach across the keyboard. With the gesture keyboard, it's actually easier to hold in portrait, since that makes the keyboard, and thus my gestures, smaller. My new phone also has a bigger screen than my iPhone, so the keys are big enough when held in portrait, and the gesture keyboard is forgiving enough, that I don't need to make the keyboard larger by holding it in landscape.  I haven't quite gotten the hang of doing the gestures one-handed with just my thumb, though. I can type that way, though it's more of a stretch with the larger screen, but it's hard to do the gestures.

Now all I need is Scrivener for Android, and I'll be set.