Jan 312007

Been a while since I stumbled onto the blog of Greg Kroah-Hartmann, one of the key Linux kernel hackers.

And there’s quite a crop of interesting things in the recent entries:

The most recent topic is the offer to assist vendors in crafting device drivers. While this effort is unlikely to budge the likes of ATI and Nvidia from providing binary drivers, it’s a mighty public relations blow for the kernel community – no longer can they be accused of being aloof and distanced.

Another interesting entry is the one on Linux Kernel in a Nutshell, a brand new book from O’Reilly. It’s a thin book on a weighty subject. And like a few other of the publisher’s books on the Linux kernel, it’s freely available on the web.

Jan 302007

A nice winter morning haloSaw a halo (or more accurately, an icebow) this morning.

Would have really wanted to photograph this with a real camera, but the 6680′s handiwork fortunately isn’t distractingly bad.

This is the first halo I’ve ever seen, and while the circle is by no means complete, it’s still a spectacular sight. The sundogs on both sides were not plain white (as shown in the image), but bore vague colours of a rainbow.

Jan 292007

Watched Guillermo del Toro’s fairy tale set in wartime Spain yesterday.

The movie has been nominated for six academy awards, and quite rightly so, it is an amazing spectacle to watch. Filled with fabulous scenes mixed with gritty realism. Of the former my favorite was the verdant forest glade, with sun-lit pollen dancing in the air.

But like most fairy tales, it is simplistic. A majority of the characters are one-dimensional, and this detracts from the power of the story, since their motivations (and expected fates) are pretty much given from the very start.

Like most fairy tales not softened for consumption for children, this one has a definite mean streak. Death is present in almost every scene, and painful lessons are sown with abandon.

And like the best fairy tales, this one has moments of utter sense of wonder, carefully built into everyday scenery. Doug Jones’ twin performances as the faun and the unnamed child-eating monster run circles around garden variety fantasy.

Go watch Pan’s Labyrinth – this and Prestige have kicked off the cinematic year nicely.

Jan 282007

South Korea, often touted as the model of a broadband society, has hit an unexpected snag.

The country seems to be held hostage by IE6-specific ActiveX software. And the reason behind this is “security”. All financial transactions must be encrypted with such controls. An approach that was fumbled when the government permanently tied the on-line security to an immature standard that was quickly superseded. A standard that is not supported by the new windows version just about to surface.

Somehow I doubt that Vista will sell like hotcakes in Seoul.

Jan 272007

Completely forgot to mention the Razzie counter-awards in the annual Oscar nomination entry.

The Razzies site is hopelessly non-navigable, and hence the nominees are much more easily browsed in Wikipedia.

Apart from Da Vinci Code (which isn’t really bad enough to be featured alongside such greats of BloodRayne), I’ve seen only one movie of those listed for any category. And of that, Just My Luck, just a few snippets over lunch on a plane to Boston.

And I am seriously considering picking up the new Pink Panther one of these days, it seemed to be on the OK-side of things based on the trailer. Then again, it might be that the only two non-disastrous minutes have been distilled into that snippet, and the rest of the film is grounds for justifiable homicide.

Jan 272007

On a nudge from the guys of katuoja I took a look at the first issue of Phonogram – freely available courtesy of Newsarama.

Music, magic, underground occult and complicated characters fronted with an unsympathetic protagonist. Sounds like yet another Hellblazer/Books of Magic/whatever ripoff, but manages to bring in enough good vibes to be interesting enough to warrant a page-per-page read.

I’m not very good when it comes to buying comics as single issues (especially with finnish vendors shying away from them towards collected editions only), and thus the news of this six-issue miniseries arriving in trade paperback form in march is welcome news.

Jan 272007

Surprisingly, the scandinavian edition of the first season of the “new” Doctor Who is much cheaper than the UK original and the US release.

They cash in at 70 pounds and 100 dollars, respectively. The scandinavian one costs 30 euros. Which in my book is a much more decent price.

Sure enough, the release is not perfect, for some reason english subtitles have been left out. But at a fraction of the cost, this is hardly anything for serious complaints.

Jan 252007

My MiiSecond batch of Wiis arrived in Finland, and picked up one. And an RGB-cable, just to be on the safe side even though the console is on the high end of this generation.

No games yet. Though Zelda looks mighty good, and Wario proved its worth as a party game already.

The online component seems nowhere near the quality of XBox Live, with slow connections and a need for multiple rounds of updates at the very beginning. The games offered in the Virtual Console do contain some to pick up, sooner or later – Mario 64 being one of the very few 10/10 games in Edge, and the Donkey Kong Country something out of the Rare stables that I never had a chance to play yet.

And yeah, the attached Mii is not a truly convincing copy of me, but the best that fiddling with the editor a minute came up with. The worst clash with the reality are the glasses, the frames being too thick and of wrong colour.

Jan 252007

Lost a game of Arkham Horror. And by “lost” I mean that the game beat us, and no-one won.

Score is now 3-1 for the human element, and we came quite close to beating the Challenger from Carcosa in the final battle.

Indeed, this was the first game that ended in the Great Old One awakening, previously we’d been efficient enough to take care of the gates and minions in short order.

That did not happen in this game – we all drew gunslingers, which is nice for normal combat encounters, but sucks painfully as a balanced party. Managed to stave off disaster for many, many turns (game lasting well over four hours) after the sealing of gates in a few key locations. But that was just a temporary advantage, as an unresolvable rumor soon doubled the planar activity, and the three of us were unable to cope with the avalanche.

Next time, a date with a late pharaoh, and after that, a detour to Dunwich.

Jan 232007

Joscha Sauer's Stupid SnowmenIn addition to finally sinking to a proper temperature for the season, Helsinki has been covered with powdery snow.

Which is nice. And much later than usual. And not really deep by any means.

No snowmen have been sighted yet – it’s been below zero all the way. The ones in the attached image are by Joscha Sauer, a german cartoonist of the garylarsonian persuasion (and one who that singlehandedly proves that the germans are not averse to absurdism). Sadly his output has been seriously curtailed of late.

Jan 232007

Pop. 7.

Elevation 1069′.

  • Bill Gates said that spam would be gone by 2006 – according to a new study it’s back and worse than ever.
  • Never was much of a Final Fantasy fan, but the games long history covered in a lengthy article on IGN makes interesting reading.
  • Employer2.0, just when you thought the bubble couldn’t get any more inflated.
  • ogleearth, a cornucopia of geographic-web- connected things.
  • eat.fi, a gourmet/map site of Helsinki.
  • A very brave bunny, wouldn’t expect many rabbits to dare to pester a snake like this.
  • The new and supposedly authentic chinese restaurant has opened its website.
Jan 232007

The nominees are out.

And amongst them are unknowns, good choices, odd omissions and controversy enough to last until the ceremony.

Amongst the good: Departed for best picture, Prestige for art direction. Among the odd: Leonardo di Caprio for Blood Diamond (at least the south african accent in the trailer is way less convincing than his act in the Departed), replacing Jack Nicholson with Mark Wahlberg (as the angriest cop in the world) for supporting character.

But the tally of unseen films (starting from Pan’s Labyrinth) is too high for comfort – so the new year’s resolution of “a movie a month” must be upgraded, at least to two per…

Jan 222007

Finally, Indianapolis Colts reach Superbowl. Peyton Manning shed the monkey on his back (called playoff victory) and guided his team into the season’s most important contest for the very first time.

Haven’t yet watched the game, but according to ESPN it’s nothing short of phenomenal, with odd scores racked up in both ends.

Colts will face the Chicago Bears, who apparently turned up their game quite a few notches after I retired last night, increasing the score to something approximating a beatdown. Drew Brees of the Saints was in good form, but the team just couldn’t resist the blue machine.

Bring on february fourth and the bowl! I’ll be sure to plonk down a big “nothing here” event into the monday morning in my outlook calendar tomorrow.

Jan 222007

Second ever corruption dinner at La Cocina in downtown Helsinki. And an even more pleasant occasion than the first dinner there.

Settled for a pre-set menu this time, and was actually much more sated than in november. So the portions are not really as tiny as they appeared to be on first visit.

Started off with mixed pintxos and followed them up with pleasantly red beef (and the cheek of a veal as an added bonus) as main course. Dessert consisted of the expected (creme catalana) and unorthodox (stickiest chocolate mousse cookie spiced with salt).

Pleasant indeed. Pleasant enought that the next visit might be self-funded.

Jan 212007

Decided on prioritizing Christopher Nolan’s newest film on top of the “shall see”-list upon it being relegated to one of the smallest screen in Helsinki (and probably subsequently dropped from circulation) on account of low box office. Which just proves that the ticketbuyers have little taste, since this is an excellent movie.

And it’s a movie whose plot shall not be discussed further than “two stage magicians unwisely engage in a long professional struggle”. Anything beyond could be considered spoilers – and such are to be avoided at all cost in a quality mindbending movie such as this.

Acting is good across the board, as are the late nineteenth century milieus. Christian Bale and Michael Caine (best supporting Oscar candidate?) shine brightest, but the whole cast is convincing in their roles. And it sure was a pleasure to see Andy Serkis used as himself, and not just a motioncapture-source…

Go watch it – you will not be disappointed. And I most certainly will seek out the unseen Nolan movies – with a 3-of-3 track record, the remaining two (Following and Insomnia) ought to be on the worthwhile side as well.

Jan 212007

Visited Pasila for the second time yesterday for a bit of ice hockey in the Hartwall Arena.

This was a derby game with the dearest enemy of the Jokerit: IFK. The home team got dismantled by the visitors, and the result was pretty much fair, considering how bad the jesters played. The game was enjoyable enough – though the third period was pretty lacklustre effort from both teams.

And sure did enjoy my first experience in a booth – there is a difference to the life in the stands.