Month: April 2007

Thunderbird 2.0 Released

Fantastic, been waiting for it. Features I have been looking forward to are message tagging and saved searches. What I consider the essential add-ons (Enigmail, Lightning and SmoothWheel) already work with 2.0, so no pain for me there.

The look and feel got an update too. The new theme is more refined, but perhaps a little duller compared to the previous version.

Thunderbird-2.0

Without further ado, the links:

Heroic Age Episode 01

Come Mar and Apr and it’s the typical moment where we’re being INNUDATED with new anime, and the ever popular (and often deliciously crappy) mecha genre is going into factory overtime mode. We already have the somewhat impressive Reideen (considering its progenitor material), and quite a few barrel-bottom scrappers (like the hilarious Voltron knockoff Dancougar Nova that doesn’t even go for the magic number 5 for the useless gestalt parts), but that’s not the focus for this little piece…

Heroic Age sounds suitably pulpy as a title, and from all indications it seems to be exactly that. In recent years we’ve had some resurgence with both the grand space opera and the realism sub-genres in the area of sci-fi, what with efforts like Gunbuster II and the Crest/Banner of the Stars (coming on the heels of the genre classics like Legend of the Galactic Heroes) for the former and Planetes and Starship Operators for the latter. Heroic Age is a somewhat schizophrenic combination of both these areas, as we’ll soon see.

"We put in the Au in Auwe"

Our story begins in apocryphal fashion, with one of the series’ characters giving us the customary infodump narrative on the grand scope of things. In vague fashion we get the spiel on an advanced alien race called the Golden Tribe (given the way Marvel-esque cosmic entities are tagged, this isn’t as howlsworthy as it seems) that issues a clarion call to the younger races in the primeval past, and 3 “younger” races answer in suitably stirring fashion in the race to the stars and dominion over all things material. After weighing up the situation our glowing plot devices decide to move on (another plane? universe? college party with brewskis?), but a wee fact snares their attention: pesky homo sapiens has joined the party late (presumably getting the memo from the local planning department on Alpha Centauri in time).

"We come bringing you gifts of gold, frankincense....oh, wrong setting."

Some confusing conflation of time and circumstance happen, and our resident superfriends are seen mucking around in a ruined human craft that has landed on an unidentified world, and would you know it, there’s a human babe in your typical swaddling clothes there for the picking. Our Golden Tribus members, in a stunningly obvious reverse spoof of Superman, whisks him away…..

Cue the present…

Clippy, eat your metal heart out.

The human vessel Argonaut (suitably named once the nature of its mission is clear) is out on a long trip through the cosmos, and they’re on short supplies. Aboard is our main female character, the princess Deianeira, and she has certain psychic gifts that she uses to scan nearby space for the mysterious object of their laborious quest, while following the usual cryptic clues and a related distress beacon signal. 2 facts become salient, that Deianeira is ruling over her crew/nation in matriarchial fashion and she and the crew are desperately searching for salvation in a lopsided war (no, there are no Vipers around. At least, not in this ep.) In a turn of events very convenient to the viewer, they’ve discovered the planet they’ve been looking for, and an armed scouting party are sent down with the princess.

You were expecting a sandworm?

Worst Name EVAR.

Twins...but no 'cest, thankfully.

In the ruins of a ship (dum dum dum DUUUUUM) they discover a wild-haired child alone that whimsically refers to the malfunctioning ship AI as Mother (either through being left alone too long or outright adorable insanity), but no real clues as to who he is or why the ship is there, beyond the yet-to-be analyzed ship log. We also get a glimpse of our hopefully non-Odious Comic Relief pairing, the psychic twins Malyl and Talyl and aides to the Princess (one of them being voiced by the familar kender voice of Rie Kugimiya) as well as the token male sidekick, the Junos Knight Iolaus. Before the search party can question the wildling, the plot moves onto the gatecrashers….

….who are the delightfully named Bronze Tribe, who seems to be at least a component of the war effort that’s acting against the humans. Taking a page from the Borg Rulebook for Geometric Starship Construction, they take to the cosmos in monolithic planetoids, and the Argonaut, caught in orbit when one such ship bears down on them whilst the party is still earthbound, retaliates in typical space opera-ish fashion: saturation fire. It doesn’t work on the planetoid, and enough grunt units slip through the point defence blanket to enter the planet’s atmosphere.

Who ordered rock grubs?

You wouldn't happen to have some floss handy, dear chap?

The look of the terminally FUBARED.

POIGNANT+1

The search party are soon surrounded by the aliens, who look to have escaped from a Starcraft or Starship Trooper movie set. Things look grim, but it’s only the first episode! Predictably enough, the wilding turns Hulk and invokes/summons/becomes possibly the wankiest giant walking bag of bolts in anime since Ideon and the Gunbusters. Running amok, the metal beast soon clears the ring in a matter of speaking, and Deianeira confirms our big, lethal Iron Giant is what they’ve been looking for, whilst leaving quite a few questions unanswered.

QUICK VERDICT: There’s nothing outstandingly original about what is on show in this dish, but it does blend together space opera-ish elements (thematic, visual and plot-wise) from Star Wars, BSG, Gunbuster, Banner of the Stars and even Lensman with mixed success. The action certainly moves along in a brisk fashion (usually the case given it’s the first episode for a non-franchise series), and there’s a refreshing lack of anything remotely emo-ish, but that may change once the series develops. The series does have major pluses in that the plot and certain elements of the mecha are intriguing enough to draw in viewers and it’s evident that the storyboarders don’t take the characters too seriously, which always helps in a pulp setting that has indeterminate quality.

SubSonic 2.0 Beta 3

Made another attempt to update the current project I am working on from SubSonic 1.0.6 to the newly released 2.0 Beta 3. The issue I had with Beta 1 is gone. Great job.

As a public service, these were the things I needed to do for the update.

  1. Move the attributes of the SubSonicService tag down to the provider tag, apart from the defaultProvider and templateDirectory attributes.
  2. Specify the generatedNamespace. I did not do so for this project, and it seems like it stops the generated code from compiling as the namespace is left blank.
  3. Because of 2), search for “using SubSonic;” in my codebehind files and replace that with “using <MyNamespace>;”.
  4. Copy the new DLLs into the bin directory.

Simple.

Anime, Spring 2007

A new season of anime has come upon us. As a discerning adult viewer with no time (and even less patience) it will be impossible to follow every series, so what to do?

Easy. I know what I like, so that eliminates most of what I consider to be dreck (harem anime are definitely out, for example). Then, dedicate about half a day (on a weekend of course), watch and judge the first episodes of the series that look like something I might like, and then decide which to follow and which to drop. Three episodes to decide for the borderline cases. Usually reliable, but of course some anime really gets going halfway through (take a bow, Trigun) and others have promising starts and then dissolve into dull affairs (yes, I’m looking at you, Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto). I may miss a few gems this way, or waste my time with lousy stuff, but… ah, curse my adult responsibilities.

So… this season seems promising. First thing to notice, the Super Robot genre has made a comeback, with not one, but two series that look good. I prefer the Real Robot genre (more Macross? Please? Even more FMP! would be welcome), but I take what I can get.

First up, we have the remake Reideen. Superb production values, mysterious hot girl, subtle humour, a monster of the week format and a lead character who is not annoying? A sure winner.

Next up, Bokurano (Ours). It features a whole bunch of kids, and has a very different feel from Reideen, very dark, very sinister. Lord of the Flies-esque, even. Plus that opening theme “Uninstall” by Ishikawa Chiaki is great. I did not think it was possible to make the word “uninstall” sound so poignant. The author of the Bokurano manga also wrote the excellent Narutaru, so I have high hopes for this one. Could be the best of the season.

The comedy of the season should be Hayate no Gotoku! (Hayate the Combat Butler). I have seen two episodes, and I cannot get enough of it. Simply brilliant. Could be this season’s Gintama. Or… is this season’s Gintama still Gintama? Hmm…

The last series I am enthusiastic about is Moonlight Mile. Looks to be hard sci-fi, and reminds me of Planetes. Excellent, and enough said, really.

In addition, there are a few series I may take a closer look at if I happen to have some spare time.

First up, Gainax’s own entry into the Super Robot wars Gurren Lagann. I am not convinced with both the character design and mecha design, and thus not keen on it. Knowing Gainax though, production values will be high.

Darker Than Black has good character designs, an interesting setting and good production values, but somehow the first episode left me a little cold. I probably will have to catch a few more episodes before I can make up my mind about this one. The bespectacled policewoman looks great though, so I want to like it. And then there is the almost obligatory personality deficient loli-goth girl for that certain segment of viewers (you know who you are, perverts).

Last, we have Claymore. The moment a monster uttered “So… So this is… a Claymore?” right at the beginning of the 2nd episode, I knew it was… typical shounen wank material. Parts of the premise is interesting, so it falls solidly into the three episode category.

That about sums this season up. Any other series this season I should check out? Think I wouldn’t know a good anime if it bit me on the ass? Comment.

SubSonic 2.0 Beta 1

SubSonic has shipped 2.0 Beta 1. I have used SubSonic (formerly ActionPack) in a few projects now and I have been waiting for this release. Very exciting.

So I downloaded the zip file, updated the DLLs, web.config, compiled successfully. Went to the home page of the web application, so far so good. Datagrid, OK. Clicked for details, BAM! “KeyNotFoundException”. Eh, right.

Oh well, no time to deal with that at the moment, so back to 1.0.6. Thanks Subversion.

The new features for the 2.0 release are very nice though. I particularly like the syntactic sugar from improved querying (WHERE, AND, OR etc.) and the new AutoScaffold page is magic.

brainfuck

Just found out about brainfuck from Peter Schneider’s blog post about his Powershell brainfuck interpreter and compiler. Classed as an “esoteric programming language“. So subversive. And such an appropriate name. Created by Urban Müller in 1993, it has only eight commands. Wow!

“Hello World!” looks like this:

++++++++++
[>+++++++>++++++++++>+++>+<<<<-] The initial loop to set up useful values in the array
>++.                             Print 'H'
>+.                              Print 'e'
+++++++.                         Print 'l'
.                                Print 'l'
+++.                             Print 'o'
>++.                             Print ' '
<<+++++++++++++++.               Print 'W'
>.                               Print 'o'
+++.                             Print 'r'
------.                          Print 'l'
--------.                        Print 'd'
>+.                              Print '!'
>.                               Print newline

Needless to say, I will not be using it in any project soon.

Rush – Far Cry

One day I feel I’m on top of the world
And the next its falling in on me
I can get back on
I can get back home
One day I feel I’m ahead of the wheel
And the next its rolling over me
I can get back on
I can get back home

The lead off single from the upcoming album Snakes & Arrows. Some very tasty riffs in there. Can’t wait for the release of the album proper on the 1st of May.

Hopefully it is better mastered than the last studio album Vapor Trails which was horribly over-compressed. There are rumours of a remastered version but for now it remains just that, rumours, not hard news. Come on record label guys, do the right thing.

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