Daily Archives: December 10, 2007

Compare and contrast

Company A:

  • May 9th 2005: after a verbal request followed by a twenty minute one-on-one discussion on the topic with my boss, the Development Director, I write an email as requested justifying my request for a 1600×1200 LCD display so that it might be considered by the directors.
  • August 11th 2005: the order is placed. I’m told that I may be obliged to do without it for some periods if it’s required for customer demos.

Company Z:

  • November 26th 2007: I arrive on my first day to find dual-head 17 inch 1280×1024 displays, like most of the people in the office. I’ll see how I get on.
  • December 7th 2007: I wonder aloud to my boss whether there are any 1600×1200 displays in the office; I’d prefer one of those to two 1280×1024 displays as it fits better with the way I work. He says he’ll see.
  • December 10th 2007: I arrive at work to find an email from him, dated late on the 7th (last Friday), offering two alternatives – 20 inch 1600×1200 or 22 inch 1680×1080 (widescreen), both Samsung. I choose the 1600×1200: more pixels. Five hours later it’s on my desk, bought and paid for.

I guess that’s the difference between a company run by an accountant and one run by engineers.

Of course, the punchline is that by 5pm my shiny new display was bust. Not my fault: it was a dud, an hour’s usage enough to trigger an underlying fault. Back in the box, back to the supplier, back to 1280×1024 for another whole day. I’m sure I can cope.

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He’s not the messiah, etc

With yer Radcliffes and yer Grints of this world growing up into not-quite-as-rubbish actors in the cash machine that I am legally obliged to call the Potter phenomenon, there’s a new set of kids on the block. No, not the tedious Narnia tosh again, at least not yet; now we’ve got the parallel world of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, as realised in The Golden Compass (Northern Lights being too subtle a title for the U. S. of etc., or maybe they were worried about possible confusion with the 1985 “Canadian supergroup” of the same name).

I do read books, honestly, but I haven’t read Northern Lights. I may get round to it some day, since I have a soft spot for the parallel universe/alternate history genre. However, I suspect that day should have been before yesterday, when I saw the film along with Chris, Melanie, Louise and Mikey.

Unlike JK’s oeuvre, not I understand deeply troubled by the wonders of a multi-layered storyline, there’s a well-known religious allegory in Pullman’s work. And, praise be to Dawkins, it’s not the CS Lewis perspective of magically resurrecting lions seducing buck-toothed children through the preaching of dental treatment or whatever it was. Here we’ve got talking animal demons and a good old adventure romp for the kids, with the talky intrigue and allegory to keep the sniffy grown-ups amused.

But there are flaws in the film: kids, dialogue, pacing. The kid problem is the usual one: I don’t think there’s a convincing British child actor under 13. We don’t have any Dakota Fannings or Haley Joel Osments, sadly. The lead actor, Dakota Blue Richards (what’s with all the Dakotas?), isn’t bad but isn’t that great either.

The dialogue is generally OK, but every now and then it goes a bit Basil Exposition. And I think it does so because they wanted to keep the pace up: cutting the “boring bits” to the bone to keep the running time under two hours. That being, I presume, the maximum time between toilet visits for overexcited preteens. Consequently the film feels a little rushed.

In the cinema I was pleased to note the general absence of noisy kids. Only one screamer dragged out temporarily by a harassed parental unit, but then I too would have been scared aged fourish by the sight of armoured polar bears yards from a front row seat. I did hear a constant subdued commentary from some mini-Motty girls old enough to know better in the row behind us, though it was not enough to rouse me from my traditional British reserve.

As is now apparently law for all film trilogies, there’s an appearance by Christopher Lee. Bizarrely only a single line. I don’t believe he was CGI, though as Mikey said, they’ve probably scanned every inch of him in case he’s, er, corporeally unavailable for sequels.

Though not confirmed, I assume this film will be followed up with adaptations of the other two books. It’s interesting and exciting enough to earn back its $180 million budget (Charlie Chaplin used to make his films alone, you know, for a farthing and a bowl of porridge). And I’d like to see what happens next. Or maybe I should just read the books?

Avaragado’s rating: four gobstoppers

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