Just got back from watching Skyline. I read some reviews before I went, most of which said it was terrible and something to avoid at all cost. With that message firmly embedded in my brain I went with zero positive expectations and quite enjoyed it.

Most of the reviews said the acting was really bad. It wasn’t wonderful, but it certainly wasn’t Twilight bad. The reviews said it lacked plot. Well yeah, but Cloverfield and District 9 weren’t exactly brimming with plot and they were cool. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not heaping praise on this film, it’s certainly a B movie, but it’s by no means the worst film I’ve ever seen. It beats the hell out of any Twilight movie, but then so does a blank screen. 🙂

The film wears its influences very much on its sleeve. A lot of the visuals look like they were stolen heavily inspired by The Matrix and Independence Day (I really hate that film). There is a District 9 and Cloverfield feel to the film, with some of the visuals kinda stolen inspired by Cloverfield too, along with a bit of War of the Worlds for good measure.

One of the most interesting things about the film is it allegedly cost less than $10 Million to make. That’s like one episode of Friends (final season). I think the visuals are pretty sweet for that price. It also means it might make enough money, even with half empty cinemas, for a sequel to happen, which they definitely want judging by the ham-fisted hook into a sequel at the end. If one happens I will go to see it just out of curiosity.

So go expecting the worst and it won’t be quite as bad as you expected, possibly… 🙂



SnagIt on Mac…

I wrote recently about UltraEdit coming to Mac. Another tool I ‘ve missed since my Windows days is Snagit. The default screen capture on Mac is OK, and Shutter and Gimp on Linux are both OK too, but none of them compare to Snagit in my opinion.

Today I got an email proclaiming that a production release of Snagit is now available for Mac and since I have a valid Windows License I get to use it for free on Mac. Joy.

It’s now installed and running quite nicely. Now if only they would do a Linux version… 🙂



Fedora 14 on my desktop…

I wrote a post a few days ago about Fedora 14. Over the weekend I could resist no longer and switched to Fedora 14 as my desktop OS. Prior to this I had been using CentOS 5 for ages.

Now remember, I do almost everything in VMs, so all my Oracle stuff is still on OEL5 x86-64. This is just the desktop I use to run VirtualBox and a browser.

So far so good. The installation went fine and VirtualBox is behaving it self OK, so all my VMs are running with no problems. For the most part it all feels very similar to CentOS 5, but because all the underlying pieces are up to date I get to run a few extra things, like Chrome as my browser, Shutter for image capture and a newer version of Gimp.

I think Ubuntu is a more natural desktop than Fedora, but I’ve been using Red Hat versions of Linux for years, so I just feel a little happier on them. Fingers crossed this will work out OK.



The Losers, Salt and The A-Team…

I haven’t got the the cinema much recently, but having been on a lot of planes, I got a chance to catch up on a few films I missed at the cinema.

The Losers – A pretty good action flick. There’s some cheese and a liberal dose of action cliche, but all in all a very enjoyable film. While I was waching it I couldn’t help thinking this is what The Expendables should have been like.

Salt – It’s an OK sort-of film. Not astoundingly good, but not astoundingly bad either. I wasn’t digging Angelina Jolie as a blonde, but then I guess she probably wouldn’t like the look of me either. 🙂

The A-Team – I remember seeing the opeing credits, and I think I may have seen the final credits, but I can’t remember a thing about the film. I’m guessing I slept through it. Not sure if the sleep was caused by the quality of the film or the long flight. 🙂

I must admit that I watched the last scene of The Last Airbender about 5 times. I love it when Aang does his thing, the tottoos on his head start to glow and he raises a huge wall of water. I could consider buying the DVD just for this scene. I must by the cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender.



The right tool for the job…

I wrote a post yesterday extolling the virtues of UltraEdit (my favourite editor). Yesterday evening I was at a friends house who was struggling to clean up some data prior to loading it into a system. I showed him the macro functions and column based editing in UltraEdit, which went some way towards easing his pain. Unfortunately the data was so random it was not possible to fully automate the clean up process, but that’s life.

That got me thinking about a blog post I wrote 5 years ago where I referenced a company called Net 2000 Ltd and said, “The thing I like about this company is that they have specific tools for specific jobs. They’re not throwing out the one-size-fits-all type of stuff that everyone else is doing.”

That in turn got me thinking about the guys from Red Gate, who I met at Open World 2010. They’ve been writing SQL Server tools for ages, but have now started moving into the Oracle space. They did a demo of their Schema Compare for Oracle tool, as well as a Data Compare tool that was still in beta. Both tools looked great and did what they claimed to do and did it well. That’s exactly what I like.

So what am I rambling on about? Well, I’m just repeatedly reminded that I like tools that perform a specific task well. I find myself avoiding products with too much bloat and feature creep in favour of simpler alternatives. With the continuing rise of portable devices, apps are getting smaller and more focused again, which I think is a good thing. Hopefully this will have a knock-on effect and maybe we will get back to something a little more sane than 40,000 tabs on a page.

Notice I’ve conveniently forgiven Oracle for their continual feature creep and bloat in the database. It’s my blog and I’ll be as inconsistent as I like. 🙂



Fedora 14…

Fedora 14 is here and so are the obligatory articles:

My attitude to Fedora and Ubuntu as changed today, with most of that shift due to VirtualBox.

Before I switched to VirtualBox I was always reliant on my OS being able to run VMware Server. Over the years I had repeatedly encountered problems running VMware Server on Ubuntu and Fedora. Not all of them show stoppers, but enough to put me off them as my main desktop OS. Why did I stick with VMware Server? Just because it supported shared virtual disks, which allowed me to easily create virtual RAC installations. Version 3.2.8 of VirtualBox included support for shared disks for the first time, so I ditched VMware Server and launched full scale into using VirtualBox.

While I was playing around with Fedora 14 I was thinking how cool it would be to have a newer OS on my desktop that could run Google Chrome, then it dawned on me that now I can. I’ve been free of VMware Server for a while now and I hadn’t realized the knock-on effect of that.

My years of using RHEL mean I feel a little more comfortable with Fedora than Ubuntu, but to be honest all I do on a desktop is fire up VirtualBox, use a browser (preferably Chrome) and use a terminal for SSH. Virtually everything else is done in VMs.

Now, do I waste a few days assessing the various options for my desktop, or do I just stick with CentOS and deal with the fact I can’t use Chrome on it? 🙂



UltraEdit on Linux and Mac…

When I was a Windows user, one tool I felt I couldn’t live without was UltraEdit. It’s awesome.

A few months ago I checked the UltraEdit website and saw a Linux version of the editor was available. Unfortunately, it only had a subset of the functionality found in the Windows version. I checked again yesterday, and the Linux version is still lagging behind, but it’s a bit better than it was. I wrote to the company (IDM Computer Solutions) to ask when/if some of the functionality I require would be coming and it looks like the next release (start of next year) will include everything I need for my day-to-day use. What’s more, towards the end of this year there should be a Mac version available. Joy!

There are of course alternatives out there, but I really like Ultraedit and I’m happy to pay for a lifetime updates license on each platform (I already have a Windows one) if I have to. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a nice Christmas present from IDM Computer Solutions. 🙂



Cooking kills…

I woke up at about 04:00 this morning, which sounds kinda early, but I ended up going to bed at 17:00 yesterday. I’m still trying to adjust to the new timezone. Anyway, when I woke up there was a vague smell of natural gas. I blew my nose and then I noticed it was actually a very strong smell of gas. I walked down stairs, remembering not to turn on any lights. When I got to the kitchen I found one of the rings on the cooker was turned on about 1/4 of the way. I turned it off and opened every door and window I could. A few minutes later I was able to turn on the lights.

I’m taking this as a sign that cooking is an extremely deadly persuit. If I hadn’t boiled that rice yesterday, I wouldn’t have knocked the other ring by accident and I wouldn’t have had a brush with death…

So next time you are watching Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson, I urge you to point a finger at the TV and scream, “Noooooo!”, then open a can of baked beans and eat them cold, safe in the knowledge that you will not wake up dead. 🙂