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No Time to Die (2021)
No Time to Die (2021)


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Being The Geekly Diary of Waider
(may contain traces of drinking, movies, and sport)
October 16
Went to this thing called a "cinema" where a whole bunch of people can watch the same movie together. Cool idea except for the dork two rows back who apparently needed to explain to their companion either some details that just happened or some details from the previous movies. Not sure it'll catch on.

So, the much-delayed No Time To Die. Mostly, I enjoyed this. I found there were parts that dragged, and parts that were eye-roll inducing (M moralising about his pet weapon and the state of the modern world in general was particularly creaky; Safin's bad-guy philosophy was, well, the sort of thing you'd expect for bad-guy philosophy, so it escapes the eye-rolling to some extent.) Palermo's brief appearance hardly seemed to justify Ana de Armas' presence on the poster down at the end of the road here, but it was a lot of fun. And there was a good deal of fun in the movie, and not all of it the sly wink of previous Bonds - some of it was more in the vein of Indiana Jones, the sort of "now what?" expression of surprise / dismay when Bond runs into an unexpected obstacle to whatever his current goal is, although there was that stock "Action Hero Quip" towards the end that really felt laboured. And speaking of action, there was plenty of that as you'd expect, and some of it damned impressive. Land Rovers seem to roll over awfully easy, though - you could make a pretty good parody safety advert with cuts from the various scenes where they show up. Most of the surprises were already trailed in the run-up to the movie, but there were still one or two that I didn't quite anticipate until they were almost - or already - on-screen. And there was a run-through of previous characters that gave a "we're putting the band back together" vibe - the classic silver Aston Martin with the toys, the throwback to Casino Royale in the opening sequence, Felix, Jamaican accents, Blofeld, a cat, Q, M, Moneypenny, a disfigured bad guy, even a portrait gallery of previous Ms hanging in the background of one piece. Given where it all went to it'll be interesting to see what they do for Bond 26.

Oh, and there was one really jarring goof: Bond uses his fancy electronics-disabling watch to lethal effect, then immediately talks to Q over his electronic earpiece. I'm not normally one for being picky about movie consistency, but this one was jarring enough to be obvious in the moment it happened. They could've put in a single line of goofy technobabble to explain it away, but I guess chose not to? In any case. There were a few other things in retrospect that didn't quite work out when I thought about them, and a few things that maybe were a bit off when I was watching them that sort of worked out ok once I thought about them, but nothing quite as jarring as the watch gag.

Anyway. You'll probably want to see this.

October 13
(a) there was no other shoe; (b) somehow 46% of the people who reviewed this book on Amazon gave it five stars. I gave it a begrudging three on the basis that I have read far, far worse books, but wow, this was a bit of a stinker.

(I checked a few of the 5-star reviews. Several of them seem to complain about the same things I didn't like, but they still give it five stars. There's no accounting for people.)

Oh and of course as soon as I observe that the VM connection is stable the damned thing goes and bounces twice around 2am. Maybe they moved their unannounced but scheduled maintenance to a more customer-friendly hour.

October 12
Updates here have gotten sporadic, haven't they?

Chewing my way through Neal Stephenson's Fall or, Dodge in Hell which, ehhhhh. I can't decide if it's an author allowed loose without an editor or people to advise him, or a joke that ran away with itself, or what, exactly. It's basically "people get uploaded to the cloud where they recreate mainly Christian mythos" (which view probably mainly reflects the fact that I haven't expended much effort on seeing how much of that Christian mythos is based on prior art, so to speak). I am, as they say, waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am beginning to fear there isn't actually another shoe.

We're into season 2 of Elementary, so that's good; we're contemplating going to an actual cinema to see Bond, and continuing to pick up episodes of Midsomer Murders along the way. Oh, and season 8 of Endeavour showed up. Three episodes really aren't enough to call a season, but I guess we take what we can get.

The Virgin broadband connection seems to have stabilised somewhat but whether this is due to less people working from home, lower temperatures, or some other random factor I have no idea. I did find some temperature readouts on the gateway box, as previously mentioned, but they don't appear to correlate usefully with either a known temperature scale or the random reboots.

I did have one interesting WTF moment recently where I plugged the laptop ethernet cable into an otherwise unused powerline connector, at which point the entire network promptly lost its mind. The only thing I can think of is a broadcast storm of some sort, possibly caused by the fact that we have a non-mesh wireless network and the aforementioned powerline connectors and maybe something created the logical equivalent, in this topology, of a spanning-tree loop. I don't know, and given that it happened during working hours the expedient fix was "turn things off and on again until it works" rather than diagnosing the problem. Might be getting on for time to pack in the franken-networking and replace it with something like a bag of mesh WiFi devices.

September 30
Starting with this, I managed to successfully post a metric from the Airport Express to CloudWatch. Fun things that made this non-trivial: the shell on the Airport Express and indeed many of the tools are part of busybox, so a lot of bash syntax doesn't work; there's no grep, awk, wc, cut, etc. so string manipulation and testing becomes entertaining (e.g. string-slicing using dd...); the version of openssl is old, so some of the HMAC stuff doesn't work as originally written; and the version of curl doesn't recognise the signer on the CloudWatch endpoint. ALL SOLVED, dammit.

September 29
I'm not clear on how I stumbled across The Spaces Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson; I've been making a concious effort over the last while to look for books by non-"traditional" sci-fi authors, i.e. not the regular slices of gammon, and sometimes I jump through Amazon's "more like this author" link and land on a gem. (Too often I wind up in listings of exactly the authors I'm trying to skip, though.) The general gist of the book is that someone's figured out how to send people to parallel universes, but there's a catch: if your parallel self is still alive, you die rather messily in the process. So you can only go to universes where your counterpart has already died. Naturally enough, the poor are better able to travel because their circumstances are always poor and rags-to-riches fairy tales are rare to non-existent. Our heroine is one such and... to get further into the details would give away some of what makes this such an excellent read. As with a lot of good science-fiction, the sciencey details (how the parallel universe travelling works, in this case) are glossed over because they're not important - a thing happens and you're there. Or messily dead, as the case may be. The first twist is a good one, but you get hints of it; the second twist is a bit of a doozy, and the third twist is... I dunno. I don't think it's obvious, but maybe I was slow on the uptake, and it is a logical extrapolation from various details you're being fed through the story, but at the same time it's the sort of thing that requires a mental leap or a change in perspective so maybe I'm not slow on the uptake after all. In any case: I'd strongly recommend this book, and if Johnson writes anything else I'll be all over it like a cheap suit.

The only thing I can't understand is how this has such relatively low ratings where I saw them; will need to go and peek at some reviews to satsify my curiousity on that front.

Virgin Media: still doing surprise reboots. No apparent correlation with the temperature readouts I'm getting.

Elementary: still not terrible, and in fact quite enjoyable so far.

Stupid shell tricks: using dd, tail, and sed to emulate wc -c because I'm trying to write something for a restricted environment that for some reason doesn't have either wc or any immediately obvious replacements.

September 25
I am highly likely to be the wrong market segment for Jupiter Ascending but I still think the Wachoskis can't write dialogue, particularly not romantic dialogue.

September 21
So of course now that I'm monitoring it, the Virgin box hasn't rebooted in a whole week. I'm beginning to suspect thermal failure; poking around the wholly undocumented API has uncovered a thermal readout from two points in the system (in god knows what units, since neither C nor F seems to fit) so maybe throwing that on a graph along with log messages and reboots might be interesting.

Mere hours after I'd made this observation, of course, the modem rebooted. "yay".

September 16
We are enjoying Elementary. Sure, it's got its problems, but it's fine.

My continued frustration with Virgin Media led me to spend an evening hacking together a scraper for the web UI. It doesn't yet do anything useful like posting the output to CloudWatch, but I can at least see that the modem rebooted ("due to power reset") seven times in a ~48-hour period this past week. Also the logging is weird: the reboots are recorded, but the most recent log message since a reboot seems to be in a circular buffer of length 1, i.e. you only get the most recent one.

September 05
Voracious TV habits continue... just watched episode 1 of Elementary which ... wasn't terrible. I mean, obviously some TV exec in the US looked at Sherlock and figured, "what if that, but in America, and the sidekick is a woman?" And of course I can see in the Pilot they're already trying to set up romantic tension, make Holmes less of an insufferable tosser, etc. but still ... not terrible. We'll give it a spin (Amazon Prime currently has all 7 seasons, so I imagine if we stick with it we'll see its inevitable decline as they rehash old plot lines (well, what else can you do when the source material is effectively static?), play the game of will-they-won't-they, write out characters whose actors have decided they've had enough, etc. etc.)

You can tell I have high hopes for this, can't you.

September 02
The Night Manager: that's a wrap. The denoument was pretty clever, in the end. We really enjoyed this despite my minor issues with the casting. (also I mentioned the possibility of Daniel Craig making a decent Dicky Roper; IMDb trivia tells me Tom Hiddleston was apparently tipped for Bond at one point. Definitely can't see that.) (also also Tom Hollander isn't really a short guy, he's just constantly surrounded in this show by hulking giants. Like, giraffe people. Seriously.) (ok, he's a bit short. I'm taller than him, for instance.)

Surprised by git, again: working in the waider branch, unpushed changes in a different branch, checked my upstream was set correctly, git push, watch in horror as it pushed both my intended branch and the different branch. Thanks, that'll do nicely.

(My office setup doesn't work like this. My config is minimal, but apparently the fault is that I have default = matching in the [push] section. So I don't have that any more.)

Sanctuary Runners - Good People doing something good.