Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review of "Free Men/Les Hommes Libres"

A good, serious film about a subject that I'd never heard about - the way that the Muslim community of Paris helped Jews escape from Vichy and Nazi round--ups by supplying them with false certification "proving" that they were Muslims. It's a true story; some of the characters in the film are historical people, others (including the main character) are composites of several people.

Moving, tense, well shot - though some of the dialogue seems a bit clunky; perhaps it's the subtitles rather than the original script. Interesting that the relationship between Younes and Salim, which is so central to the plot, is  so little explored. Salim is gay, and Younes is clearly surprised and upset to discover this, yet there seems to be a dimension to their mutual attraction that goes beyond friendship.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review of The Love Punch: Worst film I've seen in many a long year

I can handle the odd romcom, and this one sounded like it might be tolerable. It wasn't. A trip to the dentist would be more enjoyable. Avoid at all costs. Stay in, wash your hair, whatever.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

IOT 14 in Cambridge

I went to this. I can't remember the last time I found a public event of this kind so interesting and so much fun. Fantastic speakers, great venue (who wants to spend a day in the dreary subterranean basement of another corporate hotel?), superb organisation, and a really nice bouncy spirit in the way the sessions were organised and chaired. Just brilliant. Other conference event organizers should watch, and probably watch out.

I hope to post another piece about what was most interesting, but didn't want to leave it another day.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Another day, another low power wireless company

Six months ago I didn't know any companies pursuing this opportunity, even though some of them have been at it for a while and have successful implementations to point at. Now I fall over them all the time, and suddenly the industry mainstream, including proper grown-equipment vendors and even network operators want to talk about this.

The company du jour is Senaptic, which has just come out of stealth mode, having been incubated within equipment vendor Plextek. The latter is precisely one of those companies that has been ploughing the low-power IoT furrow for years - 25, to be precise. Its technology is deployed in the LoJack vehicle tracking system, in a smart parking system in Moscow, and is also used by Telensa in supporting smarter street lights in British cities.

Unlike fellow low-power wireless provider Sigfox Senaptic aims to be a technology provider, not a network operator. It plans to sell systems to organisations (mainly enterprises, but also local authorities) to use for their own purposes - tracking, monitoring, controlling, whatever. So there is no need for the kind of OSS that a public network would require, to provision devices, manage their subscriptions, bill for usage etc.
But it's not 'merely' a connectivity play - it also offers a platform that does include an OSS, applications, and of course devices.

At the moment Senaptic has only six employees, though the system is still supported by staff within Plextek. In the slightly longer run it aims to have about 100 people.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review of The Past

Not what you'd call a feelgood film but no less perfect for that. The dynamics of interlocking families in what looks to be a working-class outer suburb of Paris; an Iranian man who has left his wife to return to Iran, but is now returning to France to complete their divorce so that she can marry another immigrant man, even though his wife is still alive, albeit in a coma. The impacts of all of this on the children of the woman (not the Iranian man's, but he clearly loves them and is loved by them) and the second man's son.

Like real life - just as tragic and muddled, only even sadder.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review of Sunshine on Leith

A feel-good film that didn't actually make me feel all that good - wooden two dimensional characters, leaden dialogue, contrived script. It aims to do for The Proclaimers' songs what Mamma Mia did for the oeuvre of Abba, but it didn't do it for me. Maybe I don't know the songs enough; the only one that I really do know and like, 'Letter from America', is thrown away. The song is about the sadness and loss of emigration, and it's turned into a family's farewell to a young woman going to work as a nurse in a fancy hospital in Florida as part of her yearning for adventure and career development.  That says it all, I think.

BTW I watched this immediately after Rio, a cartoon film about birds. The cartoon birds were more fully developed characters than the ones in Sunshine on Leith.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review of The Zero Theorem

Another disappointment from Terry Gilliam. Visually arresting, disappointing in terms of plot, characters, emotional engagement...pretty much everything. I know that a film is bad when I find myself checking my watch to see how long it's got left.

A shame, because it's not as if he lacks imagination. The situation - an 'analyst' in some vast incomprehensible corporation gets put on to a special project to do with the meaning of life - is not uninteresting. There are lots of nice visual gags - I particularly liked the interactive billboards that greet male characters with "Hello Madam", surely a joke on the interactive signage in Minority Report. It's always better when sophisticated technology screws up in movies, though it rarely does - film-makers obviously don't use the same stuff as the rest of us.

Other stuff is a bit derivative, though. The workstations where employees have to cycle - weren't they in an episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror? The interactive sex site and the virtual reality suits, the mainframe that looks like a Victorian pumping station...even the music was cheesy.

Maybe Gilliam should find some more interesting collaborators.