Archive for December, 2008

Review: Gran Torino (2008)

Sunday, December 28th, 2008 | Language, Movies, Reviews, Vocabulary | 1 Comment

Holy sh*t! This one really blew my mind! First a word about Mr. Clint Eastwood, whom I want to give some kudos here. When I was a kid I associated the name Clint Eastwood with a gunslinger, nothing more, nothing less. He proofed me so very wrong, thankfully, just remember the Oscar winning Mystic River or Million Dollar Baby (not my piece of cake, though).

This time we see him as director, producer and main character. Again, you might think what could come out of an ordinary gunslinger being the sole responsible person for a movie? Right, horseshiat you say, but this one is definitely an exception that proves the rule!

Imagine yourself being an elderly war vet (gunslinger, anybody? jk) living in a suburb that becomes more and more of a slum. Gangs, bullies and some gooks (just using the term from the movie, no offence intended) moving into your old neighbour’s house. And then, one night, they step on your perfectly mowed lawn, smashing your precious garden gnomes …

This is just a very basic description of the story, no Gran Torino mentioned yet. I did this on purpose, not to spoil anything. I just want to make sure you get the idea and hopefully be teased enough to go see this masterpiece on the big screen! Try to see it non-dubbed, I wonder how they will translate all these wonderful swear words.

Perfect, a pollack and a chink!

How are you doing Martin, you crazy italian prick?!

Walts! You cheap bastard! I should have known you come in, I was having such a pleasant day!

Now, what’d you do, ruse some blind guy outta his money, gave him the wrong change?

Who’s the nip?

Oh, he’s the pussy-kid from next door, I’m just trying to man him up a little bit.

Hmm.

You see kid? Now that’s how guys talk to one another.

A must see! Thanks Mr. Eastwood!

9.5/10

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Review: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Saturday, December 27th, 2008 | Movies, Reviews | No Comments

Finally a movie off the beaten track: Jamal, a young guy from the slums of Mumbai (a slumdog), get’s the chance to participate in India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and is only one question away from winning the game. But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? A series of short stories explain the key to each and every answer he gave during the game.

What follows is the rather heart-breaking story of Jamal’s childhood, how he lost his parents, found his one true love and had to constantly struggle with criminals who exploit orphaned children in India. This part is really well done and quite shocking for somebody who grew up in a well protected area. Children being mutilated just for being more piteous while begging to earn more money? This is plain sick!

Based on the award winning book “Q and A” by Vikas Swarup. I guess the book might not have the (minor) flaws of the cinematic instalment.

At first I thought the movie was great* (8) then it dropped to just good (7) half way trough (the part between childhood and the grand finale is too much of a Hollywood mainstream flick IMHO), getting better at the end again, thus I rate this one:

7.5/10 – definately worth looking (I gave this on an 8 on IMDb, no .5 allowed there)


* I was thinking about my scale:

0 – there is no such thing as a 0, this is equal to not voting at all
1 – so bad it’s almost good
2 – Death Race (2008)
3 – a pain
4 – just below average
5 – average
6 – just above average
7 – good
8 – great
9 – awesome
10 – legendary (did I mention I got the Bro Code for Xmas?)

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Review: Blindness (2008)

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 | Movies, Reviews | No Comments

A strange disease is spreading, the “white blindness”. People are becoming blind by seeing only white. The story evolves around affected people who are quarantined in a building, left to themselves. Food supplies are short, suddenly the already blind people have an advantage over the newly infected and a broken leg can become a deadly situation when nobody is there to treat it.

What starts off with a lot of things that could supply a good story is portrayed in a quite boring way. There is no such thing as a real story, surviving is the only thing the imprisoned people do. Sometimes interesting, sometimes shocking (even disgusting), but never enough of any to make a good movie.

All together a mediocre flick, I guess the book might be more interesting, giving the chance that there is more focus on what people think rather than on what they do.

6.5/10

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Xmas spirit – we has it (grammar pun intended!)

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 | Misc | No Comments

I am finally becoming a grown up, first the marriage, now my first Xmas tree. The cats seem to adapt pretty perfectly to the cosy mood the smell of cookies, burning candles and fir needles are spreading:

My first Xmas tree

My first Xmas tree

Jack's fur seems to glow in the dark :D

Jack's fur seems to be glowing in the dark 😀

Merry Christmas!

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Devoxx / Antwerp impreshunz

Saturday, December 20th, 2008 | Java, Misc, Tech-savvy | No Comments

Just recently my company sent me to Antwerp to attend the Devoxx (formerly known as JavaPolis) conference, one of the biggest and best European events for all things Java. Since 2004 I have been trying to take part for two reasons: Top notch speeches and a beautiful city, most notably during winter time. It’s wonderful to go shopping (hmmm, Belgian chocolates) in Antwerp’s historic centre, with everything illuminated, a little bit of snow (if you are lucky) and a good meal (check out the Ultimatum! Lounge like, but with good yet expensive food) at the end of a long conference day.

Roberto Chinnici on Java EE 6

The Devoxx mascot - Human Beat Box anybody?

I hope that I’ll be lucky enough to go there again in 2009.

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Review: The Haunting (1963)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 | Movies, Reviews | No Comments

This is one of the rare gems that you have to stumble upon by chance. Even though this is a classic, I don’t know a lot of people who still bother to watch old movies. Years ago I was zapping and stopped at a non-private channel, seeing this movie for the first time (same for Carnival of Souls (1962)).

First I was hoping for an old school mystery thing, but at the end I was really frightened. Eleanor’s arising insanity is very well portrayed by Julie Harris – still an active actress today.

Don’t bother going for the 1999’s remake, even though Catherine Zeta-Jones is starring as the lusty Theo – it’s a pity Famke Janssen was doing the remake of House on Haunted Hill at the same time (original from 1959 starring Vincent Price), she would’ve been the perfect cast. Sorry, I am drifting off… 😀

Open your mind and give this one a try and see for yourself how an eerie atmosphere is created without any modern technical fuzz.

8.5/10 – not cheesy, not boring – sheer terror awaits at hill house!

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Developer’s Heaven?

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 | Misc | No Comments

Today I read an article about a new book by Joel Spolsky, a (quite famous) developer writing about software development, management and business that made me think: Sometimes I come home without even having coded a single line. I am a developer, for heaven’s sake. Meeting this, eMail that, phone ringing, fire fighting…

What if the programmers were treated like rock stars? What if management’s number one responsibility was recruiting extremely talented software people, treating them well, and then getting the heck out of the way while they did great work?

@see http://www.fogcreek.com/About.html

The next quotation (which really got my mouth watery) is from his blog, Joel on Software:

A programmer is most productive with a quiet private office, a great computer, unlimited beverages, an ambient temperature between 68 and 72 degrees (F), no glare on the screen, a chair that’s so comfortable you don’t feel it, an administrator that brings them their mail and orders manuals and books, a system administrator who makes the Internet as available as oxygen, a tester to find the bugs they just can’t see, a graphic designer to make their screens beautiful, a team of marketing people to make the masses want their products, a team of sales people to make sure the masses can get these products, some patient tech support saints who help customers get the product working and help the programmers understand what problems are generating the tech support calls, and about a dozen other support and administrative functions…

@see http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/DevelopmentAbstraction.html

Even tough this sounds pretty much like developer’s heaven IMHO there is one important part missing: the customer. In an agile world a good programmer has to fully understand customers’ needs to consult, adapt to change and deliver the right stuff (talking about technical success but business failure). I think you have to find a good balance between Joel’s approach and a way to get the customers on board. It just sucks if a developer doesn’t code anymore due to all the things missing in the above quotation. I’ll try again tomorrow. G’night!

P.S. Just one OT thing: I hate capital letters in URLs. Even though they are perfectly legal they remind me of people who insist on capital letters in their eMail addresses (and think HTML mails are kewl) 🙄

dash dash space

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eclipse IDE Subversion integration – a pain every single time

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 | IDE, Java, Tech-savvy | 17 Comments

Okay, assume you just downloaded the new eclipse j2ee ide and want to connect to your svn repository. Fiddlesticks!

You’ve been here before. Not sure whether to use Subclipse or Subversive? And what about the SVN provider? SVN Kit, JavaHL native? Bollocks!

Never change a running… err, eclipse installation. (Don’t take me wrong. I simply loooove the eclipse IDE. Strg-1/Space anyone? Alt-Shift-T??)

I don’t know whether this will help anyone, but in the next couple of lines I want to give a guideline to set up Subversion for eclipse (Ganymede it is).

What will follow is the diary version of my problem, if you just want the solution go to the very end of this post.

First, I mainly work with two kinds of repositories: SVN over HTTP/HTTPS and SVN over SSL with private key authentication – not all connectors provide these methods (e.g. JavaHL doesn’t support svn+ssh://).

I know that one of the SVN eclipse projects is becoming a part of eclipse, so I check the “Ganymede” tree in the “Help” – “Software Updates…” menu and open “Collaboration Tools”. Nice, I found the “Subversive SVN Team Provider”. Click.

Yes, Subversive is part of the official Ganymede release, though still in “Incubation” state. So let’s forget about Subclipse, shall we?

After that, we have to install a connector. Let’s see, the Subversive user guide states

In order to work with SVN the plug-in user should also install one of SVN connectors, which are distributed from different update-site through the legacy reasons. The plug-in won’t work without SVN Connectors.

Slightly upset I follow the link to the installation instructions… okay, I am not upset yet because I already knew the connectors issue.

The installation instructions tell me:

Proper URL can be found at http://www.eclipse.org/subversive/downloads.php

I go there, after finding the proper version that I am using I read:

Visit external site to get Subversive SVN Connectors (http://www.polarion.com/products/svn/subversive.php?src=eclipseproject)

I go there, too, becoming seriously annoyed by the installation process… locating the Ganymede Release.

Subversive SVN Connectors (http://www.polarion.org/projects/subversive/download/eclipse/2.0/ganymede-site/)

Back in the IDE, I open the “Available Software” tab again to add a site. After that, I decide to go for the Native JavaHL 1.5 implementation.

The workbench reloads, I open “Preferences” – “Team” – “SVN” to check whether the connector is chosen properly. I see a blank drop down. Yikes! Opening it I get

Native JavaHL (0x00100000: Cannot load libraries: no libdb44 in java.library.path)

I take a deep breath. Focus. I already consumed one bottle of hop’s brew without even getting started. This will be the last time, ’cause I blog. Next time I’ll just look it up. I’ll get another bottle and try to figure the error out.

Next, I also install the Subversive SVN Connectors feature. Same problem.
After that, I install the whole fricking Subversive SVN Connectors’ tree. It works.

Next I set up my repositories. HTTPS works fine, the svn+ssh connection doesn’t.

These setting are not available for the chosen SVN connector. See the ‘SVN’ Preferences page.

You bet I will. I go for the latest SVN Kit connector. This time I can enter the svn+ssh location settings without a problem and I am good to go, all is set up properly! 😛


Synopsis:

Install Ganymede “Subversive SVN Team Provider” (URL already provided)
Get the connectors’ update site URL at http://www.eclipse.org/subversive/downloads.php and make sure to choose the right version.
Open the “Subversive SVN Connectors” tree.
Choose “SVN Kit” (latest version, probably) as the connector.


To sum it up: I am looking forward to the times when a descent SVN connection is part of eclipse IDE right out of the box. Let’s wait and see!

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Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Monday, December 1st, 2008 | Movies, Reviews | No Comments

Kevin Smith strikes again. Yeah right! As if! I may upset some die hard fans but I am not afraid to say something *against* something that some people think is kewl by definition (as in “No, I don’t like Douglas Adams, even though I consider myself a geek – and laugh about 42 jokes.”).

Alright, what is the fuzz all about? It’s Jack and his flatmate Miri being broke, deciding to make a porno to get some money. The idea is anything but original and Kevin Smith fans are bothered by the oh so familiar f… word all the time (don’t take me wrong, they expect that as a quality feature 😉 )

Again the movie is dialogue driven (with some porn in it 😛 ) – which is good but never reaches the genius of past instalments. In my opinion Smith released a masterpiece with Clerks (9/10 IMHO), followed by some good movies (Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma), followed by some quite boring movies (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl, Clerks 2). Again, just my two cents.

In the end we have a comedy / drama thing (real love is part of the story, too) that has it’s moments, too much swear words (that rather are a pain in the neck than enhance the fun factor) and nothing out of the ordinary that would make it a better than mediocre flick. It’s fun to see Jason “Jay” Mewes again and Elizabeth Banks is giving an awesome example of cuteness/hotness at the same time! Hmmmm … nice!

All together rather disappointing – considering a Kevin Smith production.

6.5/10

P.S. Funny thing is that I see the same development with Simon Pegg. Shawn of the Dead is a Classic, Hot Fuzz really good and the recent How to Lose Friends & Alienate People pretty boring. Well, he didn’t write the last one, just took part in it. Hope he’ll get his act together.

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