Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Last month I started having some really sneaky hardware issues on my main machine, which kept escalating and eventually I ended up consulting a friend of mine who, let's just say,  has a thing or two to do with the VAIO line.

Aside from discussing solutions to the peculiar problems at hand, naturally it also occurred to me that I may have to replace my main machine in some not too far away point in the future. So I asked him what would VAIO have for me. And then he did a double take, stammered a bit, and said something like "uhmm, well, uhh, I thought you knew… VAIO isn't there anymore, at least not the VAIO we knew". To which I nearly yelled back "well I guess I don't receive the internal memos anymore".

Argh. Thought it was a bad joke. Turned out it wasn't.

What the hell? Well, it turns out Sony has officially had it with the PC business, and has sold the VAIO line to a Japanese firm that is now developing it into a standalone brand. They're going to continue producing VAIO PCs, but well obviously they'll have nothing to do with Sony anymore and at least for the moment they'll also not be available anywhere outside of Japan. Well, *sigh*.

So that was that, and since then I've been looking into what I might what I might want to get next. This has also been the topic of discussion with friends and colleagues, and well, it looks like the absence of VAIO is leaving a real hole in the notebook market. Simply put, there's nothing out there with even so much as comparable quality. And that is the state I am in right now, no idea what to get next. I need something powerful, slim, with high quality long lasting hardware. Suggestions?

P.S.: Is it really ridiculous that I feel horrible that I can't get VAIOs anymore? =( I basically never had a notebook that wasn't VAIO!


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Out with the Facebook apps!

So that's it, I've just removed both the Facebook app and the messenger from my Android tablet. Goodbye and good riddance.

I've simply had it with the nonsense. The main FB app is a terrible battery sucker. I have plenty of memory on my device which is why I hadn't paid attention, but it also uses uplogo-dislike-facebook-psd81960[1] faaaar too much memory. Then as of the recent versions you don't really have much of a control on what you're being fed. The feed is automatically set to show you what FB believes is most important, and you have no way of changing that. If you simply want to see the recent posts you have to specifically select a feed from the menu screen. And the list goes on.

Now of course to make things even better, FB recently decided that it wasn't enough that we have to deal with one power sucker, so instead they decided to force the users to install yet another one, in order to send and receive messages. This new app is simply useless. Half the time it doesn't give me any notification for received messages, and when it does, it's likely it won't actually show the new message [it doesn't update]. And it never shows if my message has been seen.

So at any rate, today I finally got fed-up enough to remove both from my Android device. Trillian will kindly inform me of new messages, and for everything else I'll simply use my browser. Of course for me it's more complicated than most, seeing that I don't use a cellphone and Facebook / email and few other things are my way of staying in touch with the world. So let's see how long I'll last.

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Saturday, September 06, 2014
A response to the attacks on my Guardians of the Galaxy movie review

Fair warning: Not the nicest version of me has written this article.

Last week I wrote a blog post about my thoughts on the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Since then I've been receiving preposterous amounts of "feedback" regarding that post. The tone and language of some of this "feedback" in my comments section resulted in flame-wars between readers, and I ended up having to disable comments. But I'm still getting the emails and the Facebook messages and so on. So for some of you who've written me comments and messages that have been a pleasure to read, thank you. And for the rest, I feel the need to write a response.

Sorry I'm not writing back to each of you directly, I'm afraid the post here will just have to do. As it happens I actually have a life, and a really busy one at that. And perhaps due to my line of work and style of life, I'm not nearly as obsessed with fiction as some. Simply put, this whole thing is just not important enough.

First, this is my weblog, and I will write in it as I please. I'm not employed by anyone,3439859-9541807941-middl[1] I'm not paid by anyone, I'm not under any form of obligation and the only rules I follow here are those of my own values. This weblog is old as hell, and yes, I have readers. Some of them read because they like what I write, some because they hate what I write, and some somewhere in between. And sometimes they share my posts with others, so that they can like or hate it together. And sometimes my posts end up on websites with a lot of readers. I don't ask for that, I don't object to that, and I don't change what I write because of that. I'm generally not concerned about accidentally stepping on anyone's toes, due to _my_ personal_ opinions.

Having said that… putting all the attack literature I've received together, a few very interesting points stand out.

It is quite interesting how in general there's no real mention of precisely "why" I'm wrong. There's a whole bunch of "you're wrong because this is the best movie ever made", but no rational responses to anything I've written. Mind you, once again, what I wrote wasn't to say that this was a "bad" movie, it was to say that it did not, at all, meet the expectations set by the DnA [and the long line before that] comic books. It appears that some 90% of the unhappy comments I've received are from people who've never read those, or haven't paid much attention, and generally do not have any idea what I'm getting at. I did mention that if this is your fist encounter with the whole thing, you're probably fine… didn't I? [Well unless you were looking for intelligent entertainment in which case.. well… hello!]

Even more interesting are the comments from people saying that they find the books not interesting, because they're "needlessly complicated", "don't feel like comic books", "there's too much details" and so on, and that they're happy with the now more entertaining version of things. I must admit, it's taking quite a bit of my energy to not write something really obscene in response to that.

I will however say this, thank you very much, that's very 1984 of you. So how's about we abandon the needlessly complicated English dictionary and just go for Newspeak then? We don't need so many words to communicate do we? I mean after all it's not like we have any need of communicating complex concepts, do we? And while we're at it, let's take every bit of thought provoking, meaningful literature out there and simplify it to death. It doesn't matter that we're already suffocating under the tons of pointless nonsense, let's take the few remaining shreds of good substantial thought-food and convert them into mass-pleasing balderdash too, how about that eh?

Or, you could just stick to whatever pleases you, and leave what pleases me alone. Hmm? How about you enjoy your 90% and leave me to my 10%. You see, if you don't "get it", it doesn't make it "bad"…

Oh, and thanks for calling me an "Elitist", again. I'm starting to feel quite comfortable with that term. In fact I seem to get a warm tingly feeling every time a clueless ninny calls me that. So yes, I enjoy both intelligence and intellect, but even more so, wisdom. And you have no idea how happy it makes me that you don't like that about me.

Forget that it's 2014, it not possible for me to have one such discussion without somebody playing the "but you're just a girl after all, what do you know" card. Honestly that's so old I don't even feel like addressing it anymore. So I say only this: I can build you a functional robot out of the junk in your garage, and I can teach you a fine lesson in humility with a pair of long-swords. Feel free to drop by any day of the week.

Another really big load of text that didn't explain in any rational way why I'm "wrong", went in the direction of explaining why it's "bad" to be a fan of Joss Whedon. Hmm. There was the attempt to make me understand that the only reason I like Joss Whedon is that I'm a feminist, and he has a reputation for writing strong female characters. It was then explained to me how that's only a pretence, and how his female characters are actually weak and needy. 

On one hand, I am as further away from feminism as I can possibly get. On the other hand, yes I do happen to like Joss Whedon's female characters, as well as the male ones, and everything else outside or in between! Why? Because he writes characters I can actually relate to! You say his female characters are actually pathetic because… what exactly? Because they have flaws? Because they have needs? Because they make mistakes? Because they have weaknesses? As opposed to what exactly, what is it that you want to see in your female character, a glorified cyborg??? And do Whedon's male characters not have the same issues in general? Are they not humanized the same way? Are his male and female heroes not equals?

On the third hand, what does this all have to do with Guardians, pray tell? Did you really just try to convince me that I'm wrong to prefer Joss Whedon's direction by launching a "he's a fake" campaign? Dear god people… as I have said before… please, please get a life.

At the end I would like to say this. You see, speaking my mind has a history of putting me in terrible trouble of the real sort. If you think the scorn of some Hollywood fanatics, over a movie review of all things, is going to have an effect, well… that's just adorable.

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Monday, September 01, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy, the few pluses and the far too many shortcomings…

Let me start by putting out the fires: I'm not about to say that this was a "bad" movie. How could I possibly say such a thing? It wouldn't be fair. The movie is in fact quite 18b149286ca6f2920e017bd5d2ffcbf5[1]marvellous to watch! It was quite entertaining… as a stand-alone movie, a movie that  you would watch without any regard for the decades of Guardians comic-books and story arcs. If you don't know anything about what the story was, what the point of it was, what the philosophy of it was.. If you don't know anything about what Guardians of the Galaxy was supposed to be, then you're fine. Prepare for 1.5 hours of awesome entertainment!

Visually speaking, it's a pretty movie. I really love their visualization of "Nowhere". The make-up and costumes were pretty good. Special effects are great. There's a ton of nice fight scenes and explosions. ;) If you're into that sort of thing.

But then if you're like me, if you've waited forever and a half for a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and then you go and see this… then you're in something of a trouble.

Guardians and I.. well.. let's just say we have history. ;) For the longest time it was this peculiar set of story arcs out of Marvel's never so popular cosmic side. When you mentioned it to people, the reactions ranged from "What's that? I've never heard of that!" to "Oh right it's something to do with Avengers right?". Guardians of the Galaxy was this more or less ignored concept that every once in a while got picked up by one of Marvel's bolder writers, changed in various ways, published for a while and forgotten again. That is until 2007, when by some miracle, the geniuses of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning [alias DnA] got their hands on it.

When DnA started writing Guardians, it had been a while since anyone had paid any attention to the whole thing. Stalking Adam Warlock as I generally do, I landed on the Annihilation/Annihilation Conquest series and the new DnA Guardians. And hot damn, it took my breath away.

The DnA era was the true age of glory for the Guardians! The best possible characters were put together, and their parallel development was fantastically well done! These were, to me, the best written comics that ever came out of Marvel. DnA's Guardians with the ties to Nova, Silver Surfer and many other interesting characters, concepts and species, managed to bring Marvel cosmic back to life. And with that came attention.

I'm not sure exactly what happened but it looked like all of a sudden someone in Marvel came to the conclusion that some money could be made out of this! Guardians was taken from DnA, and handed to Bendis. A pop-culture writer who was in no way compatible with the mentality behind Guardians' story lines. By the time the production of a movie was announced, it was pretty obvious that there was no hope of DnA having anything to do with it. Heck, they weren't even consulted.

When I was told that the movie is not going to be all that much related to the new Bendis Guardians, I thought perhaps there would be a chance that the producers would follow in the lines of what made DnA's Guardians such a treasure. Trailers looked exciting enough, and I figured perhaps all isn't lost.

Well, no such luck.

The biggest issue with the movie is also the first one that slapped me in the face as the movie started. And that, is over simplification of the characters. You see, the whole fun of Guardians was that the characters were complex, odd, and unpredictable. Oh, and not a single one of them was made for team work.

Gamora doesn't do nice and friendly. She's just far more of a b**ch than has been portrayed here, and no, she would NEVER work for anyone least of all Ronan, that's just not in her character. Peter Quill is well aware of his own origins and heck, the idea of getting back at his own father eventually is one of the biggest factors in him becoming who he is. And he doesn't come from a space-pirate background, he comes from a freaky science background. And since when is Drax  a retard? This is Drax the destroyer, he was made to counteract Thanos in every possible way including intellectually. He's supposed to be cunning as hell. It makes me want to sit down and cry over what they've done to him. Rocket knows he's a Racoon. Heck his full name is ROCKET RACCOON gosh darn it! Oh and he would never in a million years get emotional over some idiot calling him a rodent. And since when is Ronan the Accuser this dishonorable psychopath? Are we talking about the same Ronan here? [Please refer to the last picture below.]

And then there was Groot. Oh, this was probably one of the few truly brilliant points of the movie. =) When I want to think positively about the movie, I generally think that this movie was just about Groot. Here was something really positive. I think Groot's character has never been so well developed, explored and realized as it has been in this movie. I looooved his looks, his movements, his eyes, how he beat people up, and most of all I loved the "We are Groot" scene. So yes, one for the plus.

But I'm afraid a single well developed character doesn't make up for the intellectual slaughter of the rest of them. These brilliant thought-provoking characters have been dumbed down to the point of annihilation! And well, characters that couldn't be dumbed down were simply left out.

The movie is full of dull auxiliary characters, while the brilliant central ones are missing. The few that are still there, are suffering serious cases of lobotomy. It felt like the producers simply couldn't handle anything that wasn't totally pop-culture compatible. The lack of these characters at what is supposed to be the formation of the group, leaves huge plot gaps. Without Mantis this group of anti-social delinquents wouldn't for a million years stick together. Without the influence of Warlock and then Richard Rider [the only Nova that ever really mattered], Gamora would simple not be interested in collaborating with anyone. And if you think she'd consent to go to her death after receiving a 2 minute pep talk from someone she's known for 2 days, think again. Without Martyr [and yes I'm going to keep calling her that 'cause that's her coolest version of her by far ] there is no Moondragon. And of course there's no trace of [any] Quasar anywhere to be seen.

Gamora, Rocket, Starlord, Warlock, Drax, Martyr

The dialogues are weak and shallow. It appears to me that the producers didn't really grasp the type of humour Guardians is supposed to have. The casting left a lot to be desired. Vin Diesel did a brilliant job with Groot. But the rest, as much as they are probably good actors, are just not what they should be for their roles. e.g.: As much as I am a fan of her previous performances, Zoe Saldana is just not right for Gamora, and Chris Pratt is totally not Peter Quill. At the risk of causing more fires, I'd say this movie should have had Joss Whedon and DnA at the helm, and a [mostly] British cast.

Now of course there are rumours going around already about more of the central characters making an appearance in the sequels. Given what I've seen so far, that actually worries me. I mean I'm sorry to say, but James Gunn directing Adam Warlock is looking rather unthinkable right now, and I wonder, who can they even cast for the role? This would require someone in the calibre of Alec Newman, Michael Sheen, or at least Sam Heughan [yes, I realise, Scottish – Welsh – Scottish.. wasn't  on purpose but it's not a surprise]. And something tells me that's not the kind of actor they would be adding to this cast. *sight*….

Ronan, Warlock, Martyr, Starlord. The dream team, Annihilation Conquest. And yes that's Ronan there.

So yes. I can watch the latest Captain America movie and be very happy with it, and write a very positive review of it. Because Captain America never had much of a plot till now. You see, I am all for changing the story, when it's in the direction of adding depth, making a point, creating food for thought. Captain America got smarter, Avengers got smarter, heck X-Men got smarter… But unfortunately Guardians of the Galaxy has been intellectually undermined, and this is simply unacceptable.

On the sarcastically positive side, after watching the movie, I feel that the Bendis comics are not altogether that bad. At least he's paying some respect to the existing plot-lines, and he's not lobotomizing the characters completely…

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Ahoo "Aasemoon" Pirsoleimani, 1998-2014