Go and See Edge of Tomorrow, it Rocks!

The hero and her sidekick Tom Cruise

The hero and her sidekick Tom Cruise

Edge of Tomorrow is a kick ass science fiction action flick.  GO AND SEE IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!!!!!

It is action packed, actually makes sense (in science fiction terms,)has a quirky dark military sense of humor and an odd quirky dark romantic subtext (to me who loves warrior women [and my wife].)

OK Groundhog Day and that episode of Stargate did the reliving the 24hours bit before but not with the firepower (literally) of this movie.

I love the fighting machine, its direct line descent from what we are seeing in progress today and it certainly give the heroes a rational ability to carry REALLY BIG GUNS!

Emily Blunt is the hero here though the action revolves around the time looping Tom Cruise character.  Right now I think she’s better than Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from Aliens because she is not so much reacting heroically to the demands of the moment as displaying long-term self-control and holding onto hope long after knowing the chances of survival are in the hands of pure chance.

SPOILER ALERT:    DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE AND HAVE ANY INTEREST IN GOING.

The aliens have invaded, 4 years ago, worse, they’re winning.

Tom Cruise’s character, a slimy salesman in uniform, pisses off the Allied high commander and gets assigned to the invasion force getting ready to push the aliens back from the beaches of Normandy (D-Day with choppers.)  It all goes terribly wrong and TomC gets killed in the first few minutes, along with pretty much everyone else.  But he’s not the utter waste of humanity you first thought.  In a final act of bloody-mindedness he takes an alien commander with him, setting off a time loop around his last 24 hours (which the aliens had set up so they got the advantage of do overs.)

Rita (Emily Blunt’s character) was killed early on during an earlier great battle in similar circumstances. In a series of many hundreds of do overs she finally has enough of an effect to win the battle though she cannot in the end get to the alien’s core (the Omega) and destroy them.   It is never stated in so many words but it is obvious that she learns from, and works with another soldier in this repetitive nightmare, falling in love with him but never able to save him.  At some point after the battle, probably trying to find a final solution, she is wounded in combat and given a transfusion, which destroys the looping.

By that time she is the new Sampson, Hercules, Sergeant York, Audey Murphy…but damned now to live and die just once she has to try to find a way to counteract the aliens’ undetectable, undefeated advantage.  Her friends dead or discredited she has to grit her teeth and allow herself to be used to recruit cannon fodder, in the hopes that somehow, she can help stave off defeat and find a key to victory.

My read of Rita is that she is very near the breaking point by the time the too cute TomC character pops into her life.  Not given the advantage of looping with her guide, each time she has to accept, come up to speed and move out with him each and every time, and it looks hard for her.

The TomC character Major Cage, starts out as a near total waste of oxygen, but his act of rage that sets up the loop is an act of redemption. And somehow, with backsliding, he keeps the redemption train moving.  When Rita first meets him I’m fairly sure she’d really like to pull his head off to see what goo is inside.  But as time progresses he earns her trust (remember this is over a period of less than 24 hours for her) and finally a little bit more.

It’s fairly obvious that Cage falls for Rita, physically at first (Blunt is Valkyrie hot) and then in a far deeper way (after the first several hundred deaths or so) and is also convinced that she (and her mad scientist friend) is the key to not having to die for good eventually.

At the end of the movie they die…after their first (and only) kiss, but the loop acts one last time to toss Cage back to an even earlier beginning, the beginning of a new age as the aliens have been destroyed though nobody has any idea what happened.

Last Scene, Cage in his noncombat officer finest faces the still burnt out and very dangerous Rita but now he is a seasoned warrior under the glow.  He has seen her die many hundreds of time, almost every time knowing that her death was the death of any hope except for his death and a do over.  She is seeing him for the first time, again.

I’ve spent hours thinking about the pick up line after the fade out.  One does not know what will happen, “Hi Rita you don’t remember me but we blew up the alien Omega together.  Just dropped by to thank you for saving humanity with my help,  I wanted you to know that seeing you die several hundred times was a real bitch and dying that last time, I was glad I wasn’t going to survive without you.   Could I take you out for a cold beer and pizza later?”

OK so that’s corny but I bet there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others wondering the same thing.

 

iPad Next

Still waiting for the next iPad. Having used an iPad from its second year on I have decided that it really, really needs an update in the usage department.

What do I mean?
I really have tried to use my iPad to take notes and to do real work, I have a blue tooth keyboard but it requires a table for me to use and is one more item to carry.  Really one needs pen, audio as well as keyboard input, and to be honest I would like keyboard and mouse input because the damn screen is not as easy to interact with as a mouse for heavy writing/editing.

For note taking I worked with just a stylus with several note taker apps but the poor wrist rejection and poor accuracy of the stylus make the payoff poor given the effort it takes to use well.  I bought the Jot blue tooth stylus and its accuracy is absolutely abysmal and the ‘feel’ of the hard nib on glass just sucks.

My little Moleskin note-book is better than the iPad.  It would seem to me that one could create a very useful iPhone size note pad if the screen were a little draggy like pen on paper and the accuracy of the stylus was as good a pen on paper.

There has been commentary about tablet sales topping out, especially iPad sales.  I think that’s because a lot of people who thought they could use the iPad or equivalent as a more general computing tool have slid back to using it as a consumption device and that makes the cost of these high-end devices too high.

To pick up more users and re-energize those of us who have found ourselves slipping into a reader only mode the iPad needs to replace the note pad.  That means the useable surface needs to expand to something more like 8.5 x 11 and it needs to have a high accuracy high feel-quality stylus. Letting the Surface Pro 3 and the Galaxy Tab S go without a strong response will slide the iPad into a lesser position and let MS retain and perhaps expand its Business core. It could even kill the iPad Air sales entirely since for a pure reader the iPad mini is a better deal.

So I hope the rumour of a larger iPad is right and that it has the technology required for a high accuracy high  ‘feel-quality’ stylus.  Even better if they can do this on the iPad mini and iPhone I would expect them to be leading the pack again.

This is not to say that the non stylus start of the iPad was wrong or that the capacitive touch interface should fade.  You do not always have or want the stylus or pen, and learning the new touch interface was important but as the market matures and the users understand how they do and could use devices their wants/needs expand.  And as the Galaxy and the Surface demonstrate to some degree the stylus/pen is a needed adjunct.

One thought here, sapphire might be a very good material for the right type of ‘pen’ sensor, hard enough to allow one to use a metallic tip perhaps?

 

From AW&ST Things With Wings

20140202-203359.jpg

If you have heard of Richard Lugg, you probably know him as the man behind the HyperMach SonicStar supersonic business jet concept. And as if Mach 4 cruise, supersonic laminar flow, plasma drag and boom reduction, and superconducting electric propulsion were not enough, Lugg’s name appears on a new US patent (8,636,241, filed in 2006) for a hybrid jet/electric VTOL aircraft.

My feel is you don’t need SciFi tech to get on this road.

The hybrid jet/electric VTOL design looks a bit more practical and, if not Lugg’s design, then some similar form of distributed-thrust, electric-propulsion VTOL is going to fly sooner rather than later, I am sure.

Government lying to itself Again..

20140201-223217.jpgGovernment Says You Can’t Overcome Addiction, Contrary to What Government Research Shows, Why does the National Institute on Drug Abuse contradict its own research? from Reason, Stanton Peele | February 1, 2014

The truth is, the vast majority of people quit addictions on their own. Every population study (that is, research with people not in treatment) tells us this. There is no ambiguity, no doubt, no scientific questioning of this truth. Only the neuroscientific, “chronic brain disease” crowd—represented by the new official medical subspecialty, the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM)—strives to convince us of the opposite, even as a never-ending flood of data tells us otherwise.

By reinforcing the myth that addiction is uncontrollable and permanent, neuroscientific models make it harder to overcome the problem, just as the 12-step disease model has all along. Telling yourself that you are powerless over addiction is self-defeating; it limits your capacity to change and grow. Isn’t it better to start from the belief that you—or your spouse, or your child—can fully and finally break out of addictive habits by redirecting your life? It may not be quick and easy to accomplish, but it happens all the time.

12 step programs do help people (my opinion) but I can well see that they may in fact be bad for some. I also agree that addiction is something you can grow out of or shake yourself, most of us have done it, even if it’s just chewing your fingernails, everything is on a spectrum and we all live on different arcs so different levels of self healing are bound to exist. This author makes the right points but I think let’s individualism blind him to the fact that some will need help.
The other point is that in all likelihood the American Puritanical War on Drugs, has all but certainly been a horrific waste of resources and souls…

Wow this is … Fantastic

20140201-170827.jpgA composite image showing jets and radio-emitting lobes emanating from Centaurus A’s central black hole. Credit: NASA/ESO/WFI
The photo-art and the article it goes with. The article Grey is the new black hole: is Stephen Hawking right? Jan 29, 2014 by Geraint Lewis at The Conversation. It is a great piece of science writing explaining the evolution of our understanding of Black Holes and the context of Hawking’s latest pronouncements

I gotta say it: The iPhamily refresh I want…

Have to say that the finger print sensor on the iPhone 5s is really a great idea and somewhat unobvious.   As always it was the quality of integration and superior tech selection that gave it the Apple imprimatur.20130911-121516.jpgNow we have a projected 4.5 – 4. 9 in iPhone 6 and possibly an iPhone max at 6 in, and iPad max (Pro?) at 12.9 in.  This is the Samsung version of innovation not Apples.

One of the things about the Apple sparked smartphone race is the well noted but sometimes missed integration of an absolutely crazy (by standards of 6 years ago) set of sensors in every unit.  The iPhone and its genetic descendants are sensor rich platforms that software, skins and blivets modify for an uncountable number of applications.

Apple has identified a key (and missed it with the 5c) people want ease of use, ruggedness, power and flexibility so they can personalize their technological jewel and use it to enhance their life.

SO?

Follow the logic:  Make it more general purpose, more flexibile, more rugged, more capable, easier to skin, easier to add plivets to, while staying bullet proof.

Sizes:   I would think about the iPhone/pad Family:  4″, 4.5″, 6″, 7.9″, 9.8″ and 12.8

Screen size:  I think apple needs to push the screen to the edge and around the edges of the frame [on the smaller models] at least on one side, to enable side scan and programmable side switches.

Physical buttons: Minimize, three in total all programmable though one will need a hard wired on/off/reset function.

Physical buttons, the center finger print sensor [an iconic item that got its start with the iPod. ] :  Bury it under the face and make it part of the functional screen, or make a cutout in the screen for it   [that would be a real game changer style wise and make the tech maximalists scream bloody murder. [Do it for the front camera and speakers and some would go up in spontaneous fireballs.]

Radio:  Every unit should have WiFi and Phone / Data functionality built in.  Work with the pipe suppliers to get them to do what they should want to do, enable the use of Phone/Data flexibly so people get hooked.

Protection:  The smaller units should have a sapphire screen to add even more ruggedness.

Cameras:  Apple, keep up the good work, quality over quantity and work with the guys who want to add specialist lenses to provide more and more camera functionality. The two cameras in the iPhone are key, critical tools in its bag.  I love photos, love cameras but they are doomed to become a relatively rare specialist device.

Speakers: Need to be better, stereo, along with stereo microphones to add acoustic sensing to the repertoire.  Maybe one should put the speakers on the face?

Inductive charging: not in already, really?  Understood its bulky but its needed for the next level of rugged etc.

Waterproof….ehe…the question is how to do the speaker connection (assuming inductive charging) I think one can make the connector waterproof and I don’t think its a problem unless you get salt water in it, in which case some kind of sensor to make sure its not leaking current. [I think that the audio jack is going to last a lot longer than maybe it should.  But I will hope Blue Tooth makes cable-less headphones the standard in 5 years or less.]

Oh well, guess I will wait to see where Apple goes, I hope they see their premier post PC tool the way I do.  Maybe they have even better ideas, we can always hope.

XUBUNTU, what’s a XUBUNTU?

It’s a flavor of Linux, Ubuntu one of the big cat’s in the Linux pride these days with a little mousy desktop called xfce as the front end. It’s not exactly Windows or MAC OS but it’s a bit like both in some ways and different in others.

So why do I care? Well I have this old Thinkpad T42 I have done millions of words on (the A key is etched down into the plastic the S and D are mostly gone and the backspace is a bit finicky these days.  The Battery is long gone.  It’s run Window’s XP its whole life up till now.  But it and Office 03 ran slower and slower and slower as time progressed.  Around six months ago I got so fed up that I shut down the WiFi and stripped out all the superflous software anti virus, firewalls etc, etc.

This brought the T42 back up to being a very nice writing tool. But I had to sneaker net it and use my iPad as my web research link. This worked but I found that I was doing less writing since I have a life and getting into the frame of mind to write and keep at it can be a chore.  Any (even trivial) bump tends to make it feel less worthwhile which starts a viscous cycle.  Any one who has followed this log will have noticed my blogging has decreased over the past half year or so…this is the reason for that tapering off since the T42 is where 90% of my blogging got done (it’s where this is being written.)

I love computers but hate having to fiddle any more than I want to (ego centric I know) so have read about and wondered about converting to Linux for years.  So with a machine I love but was about to become a brick, I finally figured I would give it a hack.

Tried Ubuntu straight up but my processor is so old it is no longer compatible with the loader.  Saw some suggestions about XUBUNTU and gave it a wack.  Worked first time out of the box, even handles my beloved trackpoint mouse knob in the keyboard.

XUBUNTU loads a working computer’s tool set aboard as part of the install (this is actually part of xfce desktop) the choices come from the UBUNTU ‘app’ store.  Which also loads.   The Software Center looks a lot like the old Windows Software load/remove utility but its remote + local, tracking what is available as well as what you have loaded.  Really clean interface and the load of programs are useful full function tools.
xubuntu-logoIn fact I have only loaded a couple of other pieces of software.  One was CaligraWords to see if it was better at editing huge Word03 documents than AbiWord (it isn’t as far as I can see.) As well as a mind mapping tool, Feeplane, I want to try out for organizing some of my thoughts and ideas for my novels and posts.  But the best things so far is Variety, a live desktop picture system, it pulls photos off free sites on the Web and displays them as the background.  You can do all sorts of things, from leaving them as found to making them line drawings, but what I have found is that setting it as ‘oil’ brush stroke provides a remarkably pleasant but non-distracting background.  I contributed a bit to the jar on that one (and will be doing the same for xubuntu, AbiWord and others.)

I am not totally sold on Linux yet, but I have to admit that it has been a far simpler quicker and fun process than I had expected so far.  I hope it keep up.