Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sift3 gone wild!

A while ago (geez, it's been 6 years!) I wrote an algorithm that was supposed to quickly and accurately find the distance between two strings. After a few iterations it got really simple to implement, understand and use, unlike more academic algorithms like Levenshtein, for example. I placed all the code in this blog and allowed everyone to use it in any way they saw fit. Let me make this clear that it is not the greatest invention since fire, but it is mine and I feel proud when people use it. And today I accidentally stumbled upon something called Mailcheck, by Derrick Ko and Wei Lu. Not only did they use my algorithm, but they also graciously linked to my blog. And, according to the description from their GitHub page, this javascript library is being used by the likes of Kicksend, Dropbox, Kickstarter, Minecraft and the Khan Academy. Talking about Sift going wild! Woohoo!

So I started to Google for other uses of Sift3. Here is a list:
  • Mailcheck, the software that I was talking about above.
  • Sift3 for AutoKey - Autokey does "Fast scriptable desktop automation with hotkeys". Toralf also published the result on GitHub Gist: AutoHotkey: StrDiff() and his implementation is now used in 7Plus, a software to improve usability in Windows
  • Longest common substring problem - wikibooks varient vs sift3 varient - which seems to make Wikibooks the winner. Drat! :) loser! On second look I noticed that the values did not show time, but operations per second, so more is better. Also, looking at the implementation I noticed that it uses a maxOffset not of 5, but of the minimum length of the compared strings, which makes it more accurate, but much slower (and still wins!)
  • A Java implementation on BitBucket
  • A PDF document suggesting the algorithm is being used in an Italian software called CRM Deduplica

All in all I am very satisfied of how Sift3 is being used in the wild and, I have to say, grateful to the people that trusted my work enough to include it in theirs. It took 6 years, but look how much it has grown!

Update: To celebrate the usage of my algorithm, I've added an improved Javascript version in the original post, a form of the algorithm that I call "3B", since there are only minor improvements.
Now I have a weird idea of an algorithm that would compute the similarity between lists of strings (which is the usual usage of string distance). Could it be done, in a simple and straightforward manner like Sift3? What do you think?

Chess Tactics for Champions, by GM Susan Polgar and Paul Truong

I've had some changes in my life lately and more are coming so I took a break from chess, but I found a bit of time to finish this chess puzzle book that I started reading a few months ago, but never quite got around to complete. Chess Tactics for Champions is not really for champions, but for beginner to intermediate level, or at least this is what it felt like to me. Susan Polgar chose to structure the book into chapters of about 25 puzzles or examples, each covering some important aspect of chess tactics. Here is a list of those chapters:
  • 01 - Forks and double attacks
  • 02 - Pins
  • 03 - Deflection/removing the guard
  • 04 - Discoveries
  • 05 - Double check
  • 06 - Skewers
  • 07 - Trapping pieces
  • 08 - Decoys
  • 09 - Intermediate moves
  • 10 - Pawn promotion
  • 11 - The back-rank problem
  • 12 - Destroying the castled king's protection
  • 13 - King chase
  • 14 - Mixed checkmates in two moves
  • 15 - Mixed checkmates in three moves
  • 16 - Mixed checkmates in four moves
  • 17 - Game-saving combinations
  • 18 - Perpetual check
  • 19 - Stalemate
  • 20 - Traps and counter traps
  • 21 - Sibling positions
  • 22 - Twenty-five famous combinations

The last two chapters are presentational only, but the first 20 contain puzzles that the reader must solve, with solutions at the end of the chapter. The authors tried to order the chapters by complexity, so that beginners could understand and solve the first chapters and then move over to the more advanced positions, but it is not always so. It seemed to me that, for most of the chapters, the last two puzzles are especially chosen for the "wow!" factor.

The bottom line is that the book is not just something you read. You solve the puzzles, some are frustrating, some are beautiful, most can be "seen" without a board in front of you - for the last chapter I would advise a board, though - but one can return to this book again and again. For example myself, once I get around to chess again, I might go through the book, just to get into the solving mindset that is essential to beautiful play. Now, I don't know how other chess puzzle books are, this being my second chess book I have read, but I imagine some could be a lot better. However, the structure of Chess Tactics for Champions makes it very easy to use as a reference book. One thing I felt was missing was pawn play. Of course, that often enters the category of strategic play, rather than tactic, but still.

More about the authors at Wikipedia: Susan Polgar and Paul Truong. They have been married since 2006.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Star Trek: Hidden Frontier

As I was saying in a previous post, there seem to be a lot of series and films in the Star Trek universe that are fan made. I have just finished watching Star Trek: Hidden Frontier and I have to say I was impressed. The show is by no means a masterpiece of cinema, but the effort and dedication were clearly great and applaudable.

Now, when you go to the Hidden Frontier link and you start watching from season 1, a warning pops up, inviting you to watch a more recent episode rather than starting from the beginning. And that is because season 1 was ridiculous and the show only started to look like something watchable somewhere in season 5 or 6. You see, Hidden Frontier is filmed exclusively in front of a green screen and all the décor is borrowed from existing Star Trek shows. The first Hidden Frontier season is low resolution, bad green screen capture and incredible bad acting. Does it make it any less remarkable? No. I have to say that, leaving the acting prowess of people that are clearly not actors aside, the last two seasons were almost on par with the real thing. The greenish contours are still there, but less visible, the 3-D models are better (at least imperial star fighters don't appear in battle scenes as in the first seasons), the actors are better. I would call it a success, although I don't have many friends who would be as enthusiastic watching it.

There are other series and films in the same universe. Star Trek: Odyssey will be next on my list. What really surprised me is that the scripts were very like Star Trek Next Generation and Voyager, but their quality did not improve with time. I was expecting a bunch of ST geeks to be able to make complex and interesting stories, the kind of stories that are usually not allowed on TV due to violence, moral complexity or scientific knowhow needed to understand the script. It was not to be. Also, they made this attempt to balance the Star Trek universe by bringing in gay romance and kisses. It would have been all good if they didn't also almost ignore any romance between girls and boys. It really is ridiculous how a single boy gets into at least three relationships, while the only straight love stories seem to be between a Vulcan and a human and between two old people. Being biased in the other direction doesn't bring balance, you know.

So all in all I recommend this show as a new experience, something to give us hope that ordinary people can still create and distribute independently, and a monument to the power of fans.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chapterhouse: Dune, by Frank Herbert

Oh, finally Herbert breaks the pattern up. His sixth and final Dune book, Chapterhouse, is brilliant, on par with the first, if you will. At the end of the book there is this little dedication to his wife, recently passed away, in which he thanks her for the beautiful years they had together. He describes her as his muse, basically. Perhaps that tragedy was what prompted such quality in the book. Or maybe it is just my personal preferences that make me see it as such a masterpiece.

The basic plot is that the Scattering is encroaching upon the centre, with the Honorate Matre being these vindictive tyrannical bitches that destroy everything in their path while flaunting a parody of Bene Gesserit organization. They are many and they have a lot of wealth and ships. Teg Myles returns as a ghola, Duncan Idaho is sexually bonded with the Honorate Mater Murbella, only bidirectionally, and there is only one last Tleilaxu master (thankfully Scytale, not that dolt Waff) under the protection of the Bene Gesserit. The book is all about survival; I liked that.

Now, there were some issues I had with previous books. The supreme arrogance and pomposity in Prophet of Dune and God Emperor of Dune was one. The ridiculous behaviour of Tleilaxu masters was another. Others can be overlooked, but these were really annoying for me. I am happy to say that Scytale appears as a cunning and intelligent opponent of the Bene Gesserit in Chapterhouse, while the supreme confidence the witches flaunt is proven to be a front, something that allows for their survival, rather than separate them from the human race. The ending is also quite interesting, but I can't spoil it for you.

Unfortunately, the year 1985 was the end of Dune and Frank Herbert. He died of a pulmonary embolism while fighting cancer. He had just re-married and Lynch's Dune movie had just been released. The film had little success in the US, but a lot in Europe and Japan (proving again that their audiences really stink :) ). Just in case you are considering watching the movie rather that reading the book, remember that, while Lynch really got the feel of the Dune book, the script makes the story unrecognisable.

Getting back to the book, it was a shock, the first time I read it, to know that it was the last. There are other Dune books, though, written by the son of Frank Herbert. I read none of those. The reason is that I believe the depth and subtlety in Dune was more important than the story itself. Instead I would urge the reading of other Frank Herbert books. Some were rather banal, but others (and here I include the WorShip universe and Hellstrom's Hive) were brilliant.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Star Trek Parallel

I consider myself a Star Trek fan. I've seen all of the series starting with The Original Series, all the movies, even those made by J.J.Abrahms and once I almost got my wife to divorce me because I was watching Star Trek series non stop when I came home. And yet, there is a parallel Star Trek universe I knew nothing about until now, when reading Phil Plait's blog entry about Star Trek Continues and searching the web I stumbled upon this (really) hidden frontier of Star Trek.

Having just watched the first episode, I have to say that it is not much worse than the original 1967 low budget Star Trek series. The script and stage props and even most acting was consistent to what I expected from the first series. The only problem are the actors, all of them fans that do this for fun rather than profit and therefore not the best in the world. But they grow on you. The "Pilgrim of Eternity" episode continues a TOS episode that involved the god Apollo. I found it interesting and nice that the actor that played the aged Apollo was actually the actor playing the god in the original episode. Also part of the crew are Christopher Doohan, son of late James Doohan and playing his father's role, and Grant Imahara, which you may know from the Mythbusters team. Even Marina Sirtis, the annoying Deanna Troi from Star Trek Next Generation is acting as the computer voice. Overall I can say that I liked it, especially in this "free for all" format that I personally expected to take over the Internet a while ago, the way "apps" took over mobiles. Turns out I was wrong, but not completely, as you well see.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Searching on IMDb I found out there are many other Star Trek projects that I had no idea existed. Here is a list:

I expect most of this to be horrible, but look at all the effort! A lot of information about this parallel Star Trek universe seems to be available here: Star Trek Expanded Universe and as you have seen most of the series above are under the Hidden Frontier umbrella. You can see a list of shows and their episodes here: Star Trek Hidden Frontier episodes

Heretics of Dune, by Frank Herbert

Book cover Indeed, the pattern holds: Frank Herbert creates a very beautiful book after the bore that was Emperor of Dune. One good book followed by a bland one and then again. Heretics of Dune has more action, more of the Bene Gesserit introspections and revelations and a bunch of diverse heroes, each with their own "powers". It's basically the superhero Dune book.

Well, I am obviously oversimplifying here, but the gist of it is right. The book is entertaining, with many characters to identify with and a compelling storyline. A new pattern emerges, though: after many pages of setting the stage and keeping the reader on the edge of the seat with anticipation, Herbert just quickly reveals his hand and finishes the game. It's like, for him, the mystery of the story was all that mattered and, once exposed, the book must end. That was a bit frustrating.

The book follows the exploits of yet another, better and improved, Duncan ghola, a weird desert girl who can command worms, a Tleilaxu master, many Bene Gesserit and the loyal Bashar Miles Teg. All in the face of terrible danger from "the Scattering", the many flavours of humans that spread out from the centre core after the death of Leto II and the ensuing chaos. The Tleilaxu are shown as bumbling buffoons, which somehow bothered me, because they are always shown as a powerful force, on par with the witches of Bene Gesserit, yet on every occasion they are outclassed, outsmarted and outmanoeuvred by them. Also the Zensunni Sufi angle was a bit of a stretch. The priesthood of Rakis was somewhat similar, and although it was normal for them to be idiots, they were presented as a powerful force as well, which made no sense. There were other things in the book that were not perfect, but one can easily overlook them.

Overall I loved the book, it was one of the most entertaining for me in the saga. More stretches of the imagination, though, and some felt a bit like special effects. Although the universe is the same with Dune, Heretics feels differently. In a way every Dune book was an extension of the original universe, trying as much as possible to not thread the same path as its predecessors, but this book really shifted the perspective of the reader towards a completely different awareness, while expanding some elements from the original Dune book, like the Bene Gesserit inner dialogue and deep perception and also hints of ecological laws, only this time applied to the entire Universe. At the end I resented that it had finished so quickly, which after all, is the hallmark of any good book.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Garbage - Not Your Kind of People

I remember fondly the first albums from Garbage. Shirley's naughty lips and delicious Scottish accent, the new sound that used all those electronic sound filters, the weird melodic combinations and heavy guitars. It all fit into my rebellious streak from back then. So I thought I would listen to their last album: Not Your Kind of People. Unfortunately, the title is quite correct: they are not my kind of people anymore. The entire album sounds like a single long song, a boring one. Gone is the Scottish accent, gone are the hard riffs and hard lyrics and most of all gone is the angry emotion from Shirley's voice. The background music is some kind of sound filtered electropop that doesn't do anything for me.

I don't really blame them. It is difficult to maintain the angry forceful image when you're 46 years old, but also experience should bring new value into music. It's not all youthful anger. Too bad, I really wanted to like this album. I leave you with the original song that brought them to fame: I'm Only Happy When It Rains.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

TV Series I've Been Watching - part 15

I am taking advantage of the switch to the summer season for TV series to mark the changes.

Let's start with the already described ones:

  • Doctor Who - despite my efforts, Doctor Who becomes less watchable by the season, so I removed the 'want'. Now Math Smith has announced he is to leave the show.
  • Torchwood - A new show appeared called Frankie and starring Eve Myles, the frontwoman for Torchwood. This might mean a permanent end to the concept.
  • Criminal Minds - it's a neverending story, this. Three seasons of episodes have piled up. I doubt I will ever watch them, but hope yet remains.
  • Dexter - season 8 of the series will be the last. It's official. The launch date is June 30, 2013.
  • True Blood - June 16, 2013 is the release date. The trailer seems to imply something epic.
  • The Good Wife - the show continues to be good relative quality. My wife asked for it specifically after the end of the first halfseason of the year.
  • Haven - The third season is over, a fourth was announced. The ending of the third season leaves me with few expectations.
  • Falling Skies - season three will start on June 9, 2013. It's one of those that are just good and sci-fi enough to keep watching.
  • Southpark - season 17 starts on September 2013. Can't wait.
  • The Killing - still on my watch list, haven't started watching it.
  • Suits - third season is about to start. It doesn't make much sense, but I like it. Release date for the third season: July 16.
  • Breaking Bad - There is still one half of the last season starting July 2013. This will end the show. Maybe then I will watch it all to see what happened.
  • Californication - Season 6 was really lame. There will be a seventh one, date unannounced, but who cares anymore?
  • Homeland - Season three is announced to start on September 29, 2013. I can't empathise with ANY of the characters, but I like it.
  • The Walking Dead - the season three finale was pretty intense, if a bit rushed. Andrea finally died! Yes! And Carl is more and more awesome by the day, albeit a little psychopathic.
  • Game of Thrones - two more episodes from the third season. The show maintains its good quality. I wonder what will happen when they get to the end of the books and R.R.Martin has still not finished (or started) another book.
  • Mad Men - Season six is not as great as I have expected. Characters I liked get pissed upon and those I don't get back to main status. And Don annoys the hell out of me. Who could get bored of Jessica Paré?!
  • Misfits - the show has been renewed for a fifth season. I will watch it, but I don't have much hopes for it.
  • Sherlock - the third season of the series will begin probably late 2013. I liked it, even if a bit too... Moffaty? Benedict Cumberbatch is more and more present on the small and big screens.
  • Spartacus - Vengeance - Finally watched the final season. It was good, I give it that, but in the end it had to be at least a bit faithful to the factual story, so Spartacus died. And also Manu Bennett had less and less of a presence in the series, which was too bad, since he is clearly the best actor there. Dustin Clare and Simon Merrells weren't bad either.
  • My Babysitter's a Vampire - No news of a third season, and probably there won't be one.
  • Continuum - the interaction of the characters has gained complexity, even if the characters themselves are a bit like cardboard. I like it.
  • Copper - the second season of this cop drama starts late 2013. I liked the show and the characters.
  • Longmire - the second season has started, with the main character being haunted (almost literally) by the mistakes and people of his past. I don't know if I like this new direction, but we'll see.
  • The Newsroom - the second season starts on the 14th of July. It's too NewYorky for me.
  • Arrow - I don't want it, but I watch it. Addiction is a horrible thing.
  • Elementary - an interesting twist about the identity of Moriarty in the first season finale. And they arrest Moriarty as well. That only in the first season. What will they do with the second one, starting September 2013?
  • Hatfields and McCoys - This American Civil War miniseries was filmed in Romania and stars Kevin Costner. I really wanted to see it, but didn't get around to it, yet.
  • Hit and Miss - Probably a miniseries, if the first season is only 6 episodes. The synopsis is funny though: "A transsexual contract killer's life is thrown into turmoil when she discovers that she fathered a child eleven years earlier and must now mix her killer instincts with her parental responsibilities."
  • Hunted - if the second season will even exist, it will be a reboot. Same character, different series. Melissa George is so insanely beautiful and plays in cool productions as well.
  • Parade's End - another miniseries. The trailer looks really promising and I haven't read the book. As soon as I watch it you will know.
  • Restless - actually, it was just a two part movie. It was fun to watch, but some of the elements in the film were hard to swallow. It was a war time story remember in the present. All the present time bit was bollocks. It did star Hayley Atwell, though, who is a foxy little Brit.
  • Ripper Street - First season has 8 episodes and ended well. I like the show and I can't wait for the second season.
  • The Fear - I've made the mistake to read reviews. Almost all negative. I won't watch this.
  • Vegas - Vegas was cancelled. I liked it, that's why! Damn their idiotic audiences to hell!
  • Wizards versus Aliens - there will be a second season, starting late 2013. I don't know if I will still watch it, but it's childish fun.
  • Banshee - weird little modern western, its second season will start in January 2014.
  • Bates Motel - A TV series based on Psycho. Haven't started watching it.
  • Black Mirror - the second season was the same gritty, despondent, dark thing that the first season was, but the stories weren't that good, I think. Somehow it was difficult to watch and it was kind of downletting.
  • Broadchurch - The second season of the series will start March 2014, but what is the point? Same character, completely different setting and story? This one pretty much started and ended all threads. I liked it, though, with that British quality of adding depth to characters, God bless them.
  • Cracked - Another Canadian cop production. Cracked follows the newly formed Psych Crimes Unit within a Canadian police department set up by a psychiatrist in partnership with the police.
  • Cult - the series was cancelled as it aired. I will probably not watch it.
  • Golden Boy - The series follows the successful, meteoric rise — from age 26 to 34 — of Walter Clark, an ambitious cop who becomes the youngest Police Commissioner in New York City history.So, yeah, a police drama again, but it seems more than the usual crap. We'll see.
  • House of Cards - I almost added a "want" status to this new series on the basis of Kevin Spacey being the lead actor alone. It is an adaptation of a previous BBC miniseries of the same name which is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. This also lends support to the theory that the show is good. People that started watching it liked it, as well. So, all I need is to start watching it.
  • In the Flesh - I think this might be a gem in the mud. Some episodes are not great, but overall this series is an interesting one.
  • Labyrinth - I don't know what to say about this show yet. John Hurt stars in it, it seems to involve a connection with the long lost Christian sect of Cathar and is a drama fantasy. People seem to like it well.
  • Monday Mornings - The only medical drama in the recent past that I liked. It was cancelled, obviously.
  • Motive - Motive is a Canadian police procedural drama following working-class single-mom Detective Flynn (Lehman) in her investigation of crimes. Each episode also reveals the killers and victims at the start of the show, unusual in police procedural dramas. Haven't watched it yet.
  • Orphan Black - The show got me. It is about a bunch of (very good looking) female clones who did not know what they were until they met accidentally. It could have been a great show, but they left the science and logic aside and went for Desperate Clonewives meets every bad conspiracy theory TV series ever made.
  • Privates - BBC One drama television series set in 1960 which follows the stories of eight privates who are part of the last intake of National Service, and their relationships with their officers and non-commissioned officers, civilian staff and families. Didn't start watching it, yet.
  • Red Widow - a housewife from Northern California whose husband, a figure in organized crime, was killed. She has to continue his work to protect her family. Don't know how good it is yet.
  • Scandal - an American political thriller television series created by Shonda Rhimes, of Grey's Anatomy fame. I fear the moment when I will present this to my wife and she might like it.
  • The Americans - Keri Russell is the perfect American housewife from the 80's, only she is a Russian KGB agent and so is her husband! The series is interesting and the actors play well. I hope it doesn't go ballistic (pun intended) in order to secure audiences and thus lose any touch with reality.
  • The Blue Rose - a New Zealand crime drama television series about some lowly clerks who join forces to fight the corporate corruption that caused the death of one of their colleagues.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries - Australians have made a good TV drama here. An openminded doctor in a conservative little town has a sweet tooth for police investigation. The police chief likes him, most of the others despise his irreverence to the status quo. This prompted me to watch a similar Australian drama series called "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" which is about the same thing, only with a female detective in the 20's. Doctor Blake is better, though.
  • The Following - watched a little of it. I might continue. I don't care much about the subject, but it was well done and acted.
  • Twisted - A teen with a troubled past reconnects with his two female best friends from childhood. He becomes the prime suspect when a fellow student is surprisingly found dead in her home. Didn't start watching it, but it doesn't sound great.
  • Utopia - a British conspiracy thriller that follows a small group of people who find themselves in possession of the manuscript sequel of a cult graphic novel called "The Utopia Experiments" which is rumoured to have predicted the worst disasters of the last century. This leads them to be targeted by an organisation known as 'The Network', which they must avoid to survive. Sounds interesting and has a high IMDb rating.
  • Vikings - a Canadian-Irish historical drama television series, inspired by the epic sagas about the raiding, trading, and exploring Norsemen of early medieval Scandinavia. It follows the exploits of the legendary Viking chieftain Ragnar Lodbrok and his crew and family. Sounds cool, but I didn't look at it, yet. My friends watched it, though, and liked it.
  • Wallander - There is to be a fourth season airing in 2014. I will watch it.

And now for new shows!

  • Betas - a comedy show about four geeks trying to become entrepreneurs. It was a little too funny. It could have been a great drama. But think about it: I don't like comedies and I kind of enjoyed this one. Maybe it will turn out a good show.
  • Da Vinci's Demons - Leonardo Da Vinci is young and pretty much a superhero. Besides making Gatling cannons, MIRVs, real time video, photography, independently flying mechanical birds, scuba diving and many others, he is obsessively looking for The Book of Leaves, in a time where mysticism seems as common (and valid) as scientific fact. Hard to believe, no connection to reality, but flamboyant enough to enjoy it. Think of it as a steampunk doctor House meets Sherlock Holmes. I know it's hard.
  • Defiance - happy beyond belief that another sci-fi show went on the air, I was disappointed to see it just a bad western with a sci-fi paintcoat. I watch it, but it ain't great, partner!
  • Frankie - a drama starring Eve Myles, the main actress from Torchwood. With John Barrowman playing in Arrow, I guess that means the end of Torchwood. Anyway, I haven't started watching Frankie, yet.
  • Hannibal - a TV series based on the movies. Now, it could be interesting, but I doubt it. I have yet to start watching it.
  • Hemlock Grove - a werewolf TV series. It seems the usual beautiful teen extravaganza, with little to show otherwise, but the mood was dark. I might still watch it.
  • Les Revenants - a very cool idea that revolutionizes the zombie genre. The French had it, of course, and the Americans are now stealing it for a new show. But until then feast your eyes with the "naked redhead Gaul teens" version which, for good reason, is said to have a Lynchian Twin Peaks feel.
  • Life of Crime - Another British miniseries. Short description: "A rookie cop is obsessed with tracking down the killer of a 15-year-old girl, who she hunts over the course of 28 years." I don't really think it's going to be great, but it stars Hayley Atwell, of babylicious fame.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - I've already mentioned this when I talked about Doctor Blake's Murder Mysteries. Both are pretty well done drama series and it seems the producers intend to alternate the two. Thus in 2014 we will probably watch season 2 of Miss Fisher, while the next year we'll be watching Doctor Blake. I do believe Doctor Blake's character to be of better quality. It manages to convey a lot of compassion and interest in the victims of the crimes, while Miss Fisher is merely doing it for the kicks.
  • The Fall - It is a new police drama starring Dana Scully! "When the local police are unable to catch a serial killer who is terrorizing the populace of Belfast, Northern Ireland, a detective superintendent is brought in from London to head the investigation."
  • The Politician's Husband - David Tennant, ladies and gentlemen, with Emily Watson as his wife. Both politicians, the wife always in the shadow of her husband's career. Now the roles get reversed. I have seen the first episode, though, and it was kind of boring.
  • The Tomorrow People (1973-1979) - Now, this is the British version, from 1973. It is a children sci-fi series about children that have superpowers and they are chased by a shadowy organisation from the US. I wanted to see it because the Americans are doing a reboot in 2013. The problem is that the first was really rubbish: bad acting, bad stories, I fell asleep watching it! I really do hope there is nothing common to the new series except the name and the general idea.
  • The Village - a BBC TV series written by Peter Moffat, it tells the story of life in a Derbyshire village through the eyes of a central character. Haven't started watching it, yet, but it doesn't sound very cool.
  • Zombieland - you know the movie, right? This was supposed to be a TV series based on it. It was a comedy, though, and the characters were not funny and very hard to sympathize with. They only aired the pilot before it got cancelled.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

My movie reviews

A while ago I decided to comment on every cinema movie that I watch using the IMDb platform. I wanted to have a history of films I watched and also remember what they were about. (It might not happen to you, but there were at least three movies that I realized I had seen already only when the ending came). Also it would be interesting to revisit films I liked or hated and see what changed in my perspective during time. Certainly it happens this way with books, as you've seen in case of the book Dune, by Frank Herbert.

So today I went to see the list of my comments. They became rarer and rarer because I have many more responsibilities and also I am watching a lot of TV series, which I usually don't comment on. It is a list of 1075 movies, the first one being in the 27 of December 2004 and the last today, the 1st of June 2013. That's a difference of almost ten years, more exactly 3239 days. It amounts to a little less than a movie every three days. I realise that this is an enormous waste of time. Think about it, leaving all TV series aside (which at the moment take a lot of my time as well) I spend half an hour of every day on average just watching films. That's 2% of my total time, in which I include both sleep and work. And I don't even watch TV. If I did, I would have to factor in hours of commercials and channel switching, nature and science documentaries and news shows.

I believe this to be an addiction. I have difficulty even admitting this here, which lends credit to the idea. Moreover, I know it is an addiction, a total waste of time, but I have known it for a long time and I have never managed to stop. I never even got myself to attempt it. Extend this to the entire human race and it is a staggering waste of human time and life. If a disease would kill 2% of all human kind it will be called a pandemic, it would be called horrible, it would kill 140 million people. Add TV and you get a billion people dead. You can then add the time spent discussing movies and TV with friends and acquaintances and it just grows. How come something that serves little purpose becomes the biggest time killer of all time?

That being said, if you are interested in the latest movies I've seen, the list is in the left there, in the About me section. We can discuss them together! Oh, wait...