Terry Pratchett: Snuff…

Snuff is book 39 in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. In this one Sam Vimes is forced by his wife to go on holiday to his country estate. Being a copper he’s on the lookout for anything amiss and ends up getting involved in more than he bargained for. It’s typical Vimes, typical Discworld and typical Pratchett.

I love how Terry Pratchett manages to state the obvious in a way that makes it sound novel. It’s not just what he says, but when he says it. For example, in one part of the book a rather nasty incident occurs, then he hits you with the line,

“I tell you commander, it’s true that some of the most terrible things in the world are done by people who think, genuinely think, that they are doing it for best, especially if there is some god involved.”

You’ve heard this sort of line a million times, but it is set up so well in the book it feels like an epiphany.

Please Sir, can I have some more?



PS. I need some fresh inspiration. I’ve finished all the Terry Pratchett,  Jim Butcher and Mike Carey stuff and I’ve got some Waterstones vouchers that need spending. 🙂 Anyone got any ideas what I should try next?

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo….

This trilogy of books is awesome. I wrote about them here, here and here. You should definitely read them first.

I initially resisted watching the Swedish films, thinking they would be crappy compared to the books. On the insistence of one of my friends, who watched them after reading the books, I eventually saw them on DVD and they were great. They felt very much like the definitive films of the books to me. You should definitely watch these after reading the books.

When I heard there was going to be a Hollywood remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo I was very skeptical indeed. It’s just so rare for things to come out of that machine without being sanitized and homogenized to the point where any hint of potential hasn’t been washed away. When Lisbeth Salander got out of bed and put on a T-shirt with the words, “FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCK”, I knew things were going to be OK. 🙂

As always, there are elements of the story from the first book that are missing and a few pieces that have been changed, probably to improve the pace of the film. Luckily, these don’t detract greatly from the overall theme. If you’ve read the books you’ll know they contain some very dark material. The film does not shy away from this, but is also not gratuitous about how it is portrayed, leaving enough to the imagination to allow you to think the worst. That’s not to say there isn’t any graphic stuff, there is, but not as much as there could have been…

It’s weird because the film and the actors themselves are not better or worse than those in the Swedish version. They are just different. Once you’ve read the books and watched the Swedish films, you should definitely watch the Hollywood version.

I guess I see the books, the Swedish films and the Hollywood film(s) as three different Universes, each with their own value. It’s hard to describe something so dark as enjoyable, but it’s well worth reading/watching in my opinion.



PS. At one point Lisbeth is writing SQL. I chuckled to myself as I sat in the cinema in my OTN T-shirt… 🙂

DNS Config for RAC SCAN… Again…

Some time ago I wrote an article about configuring DNS for the SCAN address in Oracle 11gR2 RAC.

Over the last couple of days one of the Oakies has given me some feedback on the article based on his experiences with Oracle Linux 5.

For my virtual RAC installations I typically do the DNS configuration on the host machine, which is running Fedora. It seems Oracle Linux 5 is a little different. Just to make sure I ran through the setup on Oracle Linux 5 and 6 to see what the score was.

Oracle Linux 6 is pretty much the same as Fedora as far as installation and configuration of BIND is concerned. Oracle Linux 5 (and also RHEL5 I assume) is a little funky in that it doesn’t create the default config files automatically. There are sample files you can use, but they contain a load of crap you don’t need and are missing some stuff you do. The easiest way to get it configured is to install the “system-config-bind” package and start the GUI. This notices you have no config and sets it up for you. You can then exit the GUI and do the manual config as described in the article. Very odd.

I’ve made a note about this in the article, so it shouldn’t trip anyone else up. I’ve also given some examples of the manually adjusted default named.conf files for each distro.



Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows…

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a worthy sequel to the previous film. I read a couple of reviews saying the plot was too complicated. This surprises me because I would have though most people who saw the first film would understand that you are not meant to be able to fathom the clues. The whole point is that he is so amazing he can string a bunch of trivial things together and come up with some outlandish conclusion. The more ridiculous the better as far as I’m concerned.

This film is even more camp than the previous outing. There is definitely some bromance going on between Holmes and Watson. What with Holmes cross dressing and his brother (Stephen Fry) calling him Shirley, you get some totally Mr Humphries moments. The onscreen chemistry between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. is so good I imagine they would be a riot if you went down the pub with them.

A special note must be made of Stephen Fry’s hair in one of the scenes. It is all curled up at the ends and is truly a sight to behold. I was both cringing and laughing all at the same time. Perfect casting if you ask me.

If you loved the first one you’ll love this one. Great holiday fun.



Return Of The Mack…

On my final day in Bulgaria I managed to leave my coat, hat and gloves in a restaurant about 2 hours away from Sofia. I realized when we were about 30 minutes from Sofia, but thought it was no point saying anything because we didn’t have time to go back and get them. When we arrived at the hotel someone else noticed I wasn’t wearing a coat and I explained my foolishness and thought no more of it.

A few days after I got home I got an email from Milena Gerova to say the coat had been located and she was going to post it back to me. A man in a van delivered it this morning, hence the title of the post, “Return of the mack”. Thanks very much Milena. 🙂

If you came here hoping to see a reference to the 1996 Mark Morrison song called “Return Of The Mack“, there it is. If you were hoping for a reference to the recent Mann: The Mack song, you have that too. 🙂



The Thing…

The first film I ever saw on VHS was The Thing (originally released 1982). I’m not sure exactly how long after the cinema release it was, but I remember I was still in school, so I guess it was about 1983-84 and I was about 14-15 years old. A kid at school had just got a video recorder and I went over to his house to see it. It was one of those giant top-loader things. I was totally in awe of it. I thought the film was pretty neat too. 🙂

So 29 years after the first film was made they decided to make a prequel called The Thing (2011). If you’ve seen the original, then you’ll remember the scene at the start where the Norwegian helicopter is chasing the dog and a guy is taking pot-shots at it. The film is based around the events in the Norwegian camp prior to the first scene in the original film.

So how was it? Pretty darn good in my opinion. It’s hard to watch the original without feeling how dated it is. The new film is a fairly similar plot, in fact it might as well be a remake, but the visuals are brought right up to date. It’s a bit of a gore-fest at times and it makes you jump big-time on several occasions. If you liked the original, this is a worthy remake/prequel.



Up the Villa…

I had a bit of good news the other day. Nephew #2 (6 years old) is now playing for Aston Villa Academy. He’s quite small for his age and he trialed with a group of boys a year older than him, so my brother said he looked tiny and the kit they gave him was gigantic on him. He’s used to playing with Nephew #1, who’s just turned 10, so playing with bigger kids doesn’t phase him and he’s a bit more cocky than Nephew #1, which they seem to like at these places. Anyway, at the end of the session they said they want him. They are not allowed to sign exclusively until they are 8 years old, so he can keep playing for Wolverhampton Wanderers Academy and Telford.

So now I have to support:

  • West Brom and Telford because Nephew #1 plays for them.
  • Villa, Wolves and Telford because Nephew #2 plays for them.
  • Man United because Nephew #1 and #2 (and their parents) support them.

I don’t even like football really, but if they can keep improving for the next 10 years and be in the freakishly small percentage of people that actually make it to become professional footballers, I’ll be able to live in the manner I would like to become accustomed to. Muhahaha (little finger in the corner of the mouth)… 🙂



Mike Carey: The Naming of the Beasts…

“The Naming of the Beasts” is book 5 in the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey. Juliet, the succubus, has gone all wild, beaten up her human wife and is on the verge of feasting on aroused men’s souls again. Felix’s friend Rafi, still possessed by the demon Asmodeus, has gone AWOL and started a killing spree. Life’s never easy when you’re a freelance exorcist… 🙂

This is the last in the series so far and it maintains the pace of the other books, while tying up a lot of loose ends. According to Wikipedia the next book is out late 2001 (imminently). It will be interesting to see what Felix does next, since the main thrust of the story of the first 5 books is now concluded.