Archive for August, 2009

Moon is a harsh mistress

Posted in film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by bytor
Duncan Jones' "Moon".

Duncan Jones' "Moon".

[SPOILER FREE]

[Update: Moon has received 4 nominations for SpikeTV’s Scream awards; Best SF Film, Best SF Director, Best SF actor (Sam Rockwell) and Best Screenplay. Vote HERE!) ]

So I finally managed to go and see the new movie Moon (warning there are spoilers on the official site!) directed by Duncan Jones. I had heard a bit about it from the internet (and inevitably the Twitterverse in particular, Peter Serafinowicz was vocal in his appreciation of the film) and it sounded right up my street. I am a science fiction fan, and while I enjoy they recent trend of CGI heavy explosion-fests as much as the next man, I have a soft spot for the more low fi gritty realism and thoughtfulness of films such as Silent Running, Outland, 2001 and Alien.

Trouble was this is a relatively low budget offering from a new director and it wasn’t on widespread release. So eventually I decided that this bank holiday I would track it down. I found that it was still playing at a number of cinemas near Leicester Square in London, and I decided on the small independent Prince Charles Cinema. It took just over an hour to get there, and the cost of travel was more than the entry ticket, but thankfully the film was well worth the effort.

Sam Rockwell gives an outstanding performance as Sam Bell, a solitary worker at a private corporation run mining facility on the far side of the moon. He single handedly runs operations with the aid of a HAL-like computer system, Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey). When not on the job, he spends his time watching video messages from his wife back on earth, growing plants (just a hint of Silent Running), and meticulously hand crafting a model of his hometown on earth.

The first act puts us in the boots of Sam, showing us the grind of his day to day work and his longing for his 3 year contract to be over so he can go home. There is just a hint of loopiness to his demeanour, but is it eccentricity borne of years in effective solitary confinement or the signs of something more?

The film deals with themes such as the loneliness of space, isolation, and how humans might deal with such situations. There are stylistic nods to 2001 in the white futuristic-retro octagonal corridors, and the soothing voiced computer who may or may not be completely on Sam’s side, but also shades of Alien in the future environment as a contemporary dirty work environment. Ridley Scott’s truckers in space behaviour is echoed by the miner in space of Sam (in a similar way to the drillers under the sea in The Abyss, or indeed the mining facility setting of Outland). The base seems lived in and real, not some space operatic construction.

Later as twists and turns unfold, we are asked to ponder the meaning of self and memory. The film despite being made on a small budget looks great, and a special mention must also go to the fantastically atmospheric and evocative score by Clint Mansell (formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself). The film is by turns laugh out loud funny, sad, thoughtful and tense. It doesn’t blast you out of your seat with effects but makes you think. It also is well paced (maybe a touch slow for some people, but I liked Solaris…☺) and hangs together well as a whole. I left the cinema feeling that I had seen a great movie. You know, when everything just feels…right. I can’t wait for more from Duncan Jones.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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Now, please dry your hands.

Posted in technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by bytor
Dyson Airblade

Dyson Airblade

You are all super-hygienic and always wash your hands after using a public toilet, right? Of course. And then you dry your hands before leaving? What? Are you one of those millions who stand patiently in the line and then twirl your hands about under the gentle puff of warm air willing your hands to dry quicker, before eventually giving up and walking out with the drips still falling from your fingers?

These days, that problem is becoming a thing of the past. In one further small step towards machine world domination, the era of the Next Generation Hand Dryer has arrived. These super powered jets virtually blast the water from your hands in about ten seconds flat, while making your skin ripple with pleasure at the same time.

The Dyson Airblade is perhaps the most celebrated of these new high speed dryers, closely followed by the XLerator. But there is a trend, with even the ubiquitous World Dryer Corp having to respond to keep up, with their World Dryer Airforce. These hand-drying behemoths are quickly gaining a fanbase throughout the world. Just search Twitter for “airblade” or “xlerator” to see the gushing comments. But how will you know where you can sample the delights for yourself?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Next Generation Hand Dryer Locator:

The Next Generation Hand Dryer Locator

The Next Generation Hand Dryer Locator

(Powered by Community Walk)

This is a community built and contributed interactive map, the aim of which is to display the location of Next Gen Hand Dryers throughout the world.

If you have come across one of these modern marvels of hand-drying, please consider taking a moment to visit the map and add the location of the dryer. You have to register to add it, but it only takes a minute. There are custom icons for the most common makes of dryer but if you find another one please let me know and I’ll make another icon for that too. You can add a comment about your dryer experience or even a picture!

If you like it please let your friends and colleagues know about it so they can also contribute.

Enjoy!