Author: Tim

Why I don’t like Star Wars – Force Awakens

Posted on Updated on

Having now watched the Force Awakens, my measured view is – rubbish.  But why?

The film is peppered with winks to the original Star Wars franchise, combine that with “happy coincidences” in the plot that allow the story to progress – “lets steal a ship, oh look its the Falcon, oh look we’ve just bumped into Solo and oh look Leah has just turned up”….and on it goes.

I doubt there was any intended reference to Harry Potter, but we also see Voldermort as the evil Sith lord and even Solo’s son manages to look like Snape from house Slytherin.

The Storm troopers have lost their gritty look and now replaced with what looks like a cheap imitation that you might find someone wearing at a Sci-Fi convention.

And what of the aliens? Well somehow they have managed to make some of them look less realistic than the original Star Wars films, with a weathered Leah and Solo looking almost as plastic.

Perhaps though the biggest disappointment is that its not following the Star Wars extended universe which has had so many fans and supporters all these years,  I expect that is so Disney can sign a crossover deal and have a showdown between the Sith and Griffindor in a later film.

Suffice to say, I won’t be joining them on their adventures.

“The force is gone with this one”

EBOOK REVIEW: The Unnoticed – Dennis Jones

Posted on Updated on

51LEEJlfDFL._SX279_BO1,204,203,200_It has been a long while since I reviewed a book and with my own work going through the legalese that accompanies a published work, I decided to review some self published works. As readers here will have seen, I’m a fan of self published and whilst the preferred route for my work is a “traditional” publishing one, my favourite title of 2014 was self published.  I fully support the self published author and believe there are some fantastic titles out there which rate far above those from “big name” publishers and authors.

I was kindly sent a review copy of “The Unnoticed UFO’s and Aliens are real” by Dennis Jones. There are no spoilers in this review and as always it needs to be stated that these opinions are mine and mine alone.

The first question I have in regards to this book, is to ask if its presented as real or a work of fiction. The synopsis on Amazon says it’s a true story yet its listed in the fiction section. The cover also presents a contradiction, in the top left we see the words “new novel” and at the bottom of the cover we see “new evidence”. Fact or fiction? I’m not clear.

Getting past the contradiction in its text, I think it would be fair to suggest that some time needs to be invested in the design for the Amazon entry (if it is indeed to be used as the selling image) There’s nothing wrong with the photo and for maybe a back cover image it would be fine, but I feel the design of the cover does not endear itself to a new reader of the author’s work and comes across as amateur. What is also strange is that within in the ebook there is a far better cover which should have been, in my opinion, the one used in the Amazon entry.

If I had to sum up the book in a single word, I’d say quirky. We are taken through the story of a man (John) who relayed his experiences to the writer, who presents them to the reader, peppering personal questions, views and experiences, some pertaining to the subject matter, some not.

The book has a habit to go off the topic at hand, exploring different facets of Alien theory with a series of questions, or a small story of an incident that has no real bearing on what the book is about and this maybe hits upon another issue of the book. As far as aliens are concerned, there’s not as much on that as you’d expect. The book mainly is a series of liaisons and relationships with women & bars/restaurants with many claims as to the wealth the author has achieved and the material goods he’s purchased with it.

And its for this reason I use the word “quirky” because the book feels rather fragmented. Rather than a sequential evidential storyline, there are many other snippets of information and view placed into the text. At first glance it seems to make the work slightly disorganized and the simplistic text with some needless repetition giving the book an almost unedited feel until you realize that there’s more to this title than just aliens.  This actually lends to its charm in a strange way. There are some errors within the text too and will hopefully be resolved as the book becomes more mature.   It is in my view, in desperate need of an edit.

I’d have preferred a book with a more structured prose but despite the faults, I can’t deny that it had me reading until the end, so I decided to explore why that was a little further in this review.

The Unnoticed reads a little like an enthusiastic speaker at a conference who is passionate and knowledgeable about their subject, but has too much opinion to relay in a short period of time and has done no planning beforehand. Throughout the book are also a series of questions wondering as to the intent of Alien contact, one of which in particular I think could potentially be offensive and I personally think it inappropriate to suggest it within the text. I think any author when offering their view and asking questions should keep in mind that whilst an investigation for truth is always a good thing, it doesn’t need to potentially offend people. This book I’d also rate as being for mature audiences, whilst it cannot be described as erotica, some of the recalled experiences are more than just “left to your imagination”.

The claims of success in life by the author are poorly written in my view and sound more like the words of a braggart whilst at the same time not sounding real. This, combined with some of the relationship scenario’s had the effect for me of creating a genuine dislike for the author and giving me the impression that the author has an almost childlike view of relationships.

Another issue I have with the book is the conversation, when quoted, it doesn’t quite seem real and more than that, in some places almost contrived. The same opinion applies to many of the stories recalled during the book. I would like to know categorically what this is presented as – fact or fiction, because some of the stories don’t strike me as realistic. Maybe there was not enough detail in the side stories that make them appear to me as unreal, or maybe this is indeed a work of fiction? Its understandable that it is difficult to relay conversations from years past word perfect, but I think that work needs to be done on the included conversations in order to keep the spirit of the conversation but at the same time sound real.

Despite the issues, the book is incredibly easy to read, this is in part due to the simplistic use of language. You will progress through this book quickly and hopefully forget these issues as I did, taking it as either fact or fiction depending on your personal views. Maybe its because I have just finished reading a rather heavy (and rather dull) series of books that “Unnoticed” comes as a welcome read, if only maybe for the wrong reasons.

If you don’t come to this work expecting a literary masterpiece, you’ll find an interesting piece of light reading if only because you’ll want to see the next non-alien related recollection.

If I’d only paid $3.00/£1.99 for it, I’d consider it on the whole, money well spent. I would seriously recommend the book goes through another edit/proof read because the errors in the text may serve to turn some people away from the title.  Maybe more attention should be given to the dialogue because the conversations and some of the side stories just don’t sit right with me.

If you are looking for revelations and ground breaking evidence over and above that which is out there already, I think you’ll be disappointed. Essentially this book presents the hearsay evidence of an individual who is not fully identified and deceased. Since there is a picture of “John”, I wondered why his details were not given out. I’ve searched for Mayors named John and cannot find any that resemble the picture. Maybe the author can resolve this?

Maybe the point of the book is when investigating UFO/Alien theory it is all down to a matter of perspective, because there is nothing in this title either ground-breaking or revolutionary in respect of aliens in my view. This applies if you believe that they (aliens) are here or not. I would almost go so far as to say, that this is an alien book second and a snippet of life story from the author first, who according to the text, has only ever seen strange objects in the sky.

You can find the Unnoticed at Amazon.

If you would like your ebook reviewed, please get in touch at: bytes4free@gmail.com

Tim.

The unfairness of being organized.

Posted on

Why is it that every year I leave all the Xmas organization until the last minute and somehow get away with everything working out?

This year I’d prepared everything in advance, we’ll be in the North East of England for Christmas and I’d sorted most things out well before the Xmas rush began.

In November was the sad passing of my Grandmother and now my wife has fallen ill (nothing serious) but has knocked out my well organized schedule.

So I apologize if you are waiting a response from me, if you’ve kindly got in touch and not received a reply or even if you just miss that odd humorous message from me in the early hours of the morning because of time zones.

At least the Xmas family get together is all sorted and all the people who I want to catch up with I’ll be seeing at some time over the holiday, who will be visiting me for a mince pie.

Now I’ve got my remaining tasks (which should have been done by now) down to 4.

  1. Finish an interview video for my channel.
  2. Get review finished for a reviewers copy of a book I was sent.
  3. General admin/tidy up of the Red Star website.
  4. Get to at least one soccer game before Santa visits.

Fingers crossed and maybe next year I will default to my last minute panic at Xmas time – it seems to serve me better.

 

Tiles,Windows and other ramblings.

Posted on

Overmorrow I’ll be getting the tiles sorted on the roof.  The recent storms have, I’m told, made the majority of tiles unstable/unsettled and need some remedial work, that’s on top of the ones which went the journey.  You might be wondering not so much about a roofing issue I have, which I’m sure is of no concern to you, but more the word “overmorrow”.  Its an obsolete word meaning “the day after tomorrow” and I think it needs to make a comeback.  So here’s to starting its revival.

Windows 8, isn’t that bad.  Or more accurately, it isn’t bad enough to want me updating a laptop of my son’s to Windows 10 – its quite refreshing to see that the next generation of computer users are more concerned with apps, not the platform they are running on and since many of these apps are web based (Google Docs et al) then its doubtful we will ever see a hold on the home PC as we did in the past.  When I was at school, Windows was the word everyone knew and talked about.  Nowadays how many of the new generation of users even know which version they are using?

Talking of the next generation of users, do you think many of those will be PC power gamers?  I don’t.  The consoles have the market for gaming and I think the next generation will have no interest in PC gaming and its ever increasing spec’s race.  When you read online about the latest trends in gaming on the general forums, there’s very little mention of PC gaming in my view.

Donald Trump seems to be at it again with another remark that’s hit the media (I won’t justify it by repeating), reinforcing my opinion that he would be excellent at playing a bad guy in the WWE and maybe instead of running for President should consider a career in Sports Entertainment.  I would hope that come the time of voting, people show him that his views and tactics are not what they want in office.  People are asking where Donald Trump gets his information when talking about the UK and to me if I was to guess I’d say its quite likely to be the online forum for Super Mario because its nonsense.

People say Donald has no chance of getting into power.  I say otherwise – I hope I’m wrong.

Youtube adverts are nearly at the point where the service is no longer appealing to me.  I have a policy (in respect of ads) if there is no “skip” button then I don’t watch the accompanying video.   I thought some US channels were saturated with adverts, but Sky and now Youtube are competition for them.  Sky (on the rare occasions I see it) is unwatchable for me now and although I hate myself for saying it, I find BBC News a favourable alternative to Sky News.

Tim.

Misc news: Updates, WII U sales, NX predictions, Weather and the tech baffled.

Posted on Updated on

I’ve a video arriving shortly with an incredibly interesting interview with Michael Horn, which I’ve put much attention into, its an important interview for me and I’m sure you’ll be impressed at how insightful and intelligent Michael is as well as the information which he has to offer being incredibly relevant to today.

I’ve watched the UK news on the figurative periphery these last few weeks and although I am in the North East of England for the Christmas period this year hoping for a peaceful and relaxing time, I see that even in the NE, its not completely avoided the storms which have hit the country.

A rambling on modern technology and the baffled.

My neighbour has a skill, the ability to break things.  If you gave him a calculator, he’d be able to identify a set of buttons that could crash the thing,  so it comes as no surprise that his purchase of an Android box would end in tears….mine that is.

Whilst we march into this digital revolution of everything being sold with a “smart” moniker; smartphone, smart TV etc, the list perhaps shows that whilst technology may be cheaper and easier to use, there is still a market to help those who when faced with a tech issue, have the ability to break even the most fool proof systems and the one thing that certainly can’t have the “smart” title is the average user.

518873630_c_294_220What part of “If anything goes wrong, leave it and give me a call” is difficult to understand?  Well in the case of my neighbour, the answer is all of it, because when a problem occurred with his Android Box (his net connection went down due to a fault at the local exchange) he started to press buttons.  Quite how he managed in his blind fumbling to reach the menu that reset the box to its factory settings, wiping everything that had been set up on his box, is anyone’s guess.

Suffice to say, my neighbour presented himself to me shortly afterwards, baffled and clutching a vanilla install Android box, to which yet again, I found myself going through the laborious task of getting it back to the way he wanted it.  Since this isn’t a business of mine and I do it out of kindness, I really hope there is such a thing as karma, because if there is, I’m due for a Bill Gates payout.  I have a confession too, when another neighbour presented similar issues to me, dealing with packages I have not used (but could have found out) I referred them to someone who repairs them for a living.

Have you ever tried to explain to the tech baffled that HD space and memory (RAM) are two separate things?  My advice is don’t bother trying, somewhere in recent times one tech hapless individual has declared to another tech hapless individual that the two are the same and its gone viral to all the other tech hapless individuals on the planet and it doesn’t stop there.  I recall with fondness trying to get one of these individuals to understand that a bootable linux USB stick was not a “computer” and could not be plugged into anything to perform as such.

This episode of tech deja vu got me thinking (as similar incidents occur with many people in my life), is that there some people (probably in their millions) who should have no involvement in technology at all.  Cast your eye over at the net result of the average person discovering computing.  We have Facebook drama’s, malware so simple in its deception yet millions falling victim.  Scams a plenty which would have any reasonably intelligent person saying “you’ve got to be kidding” yet millions of people giving out their details (or worse) for the promise of the good life in a random email by a person with a made up name.  Oh and you have the government and its associated agencies, baffled at the fact that people who have been learning with technology all their lives in education and as a hobby, are infinitely more advanced with it than they are.

Whilst its great there’s so many people using and interested in something which for a long time was considered “geeky”, is it not time we returned to the 80’s where the only people using computers and online were the ones who knew what they were doing?  I’d quite happily trade the world wide webs average user, for a quieter experience and be labelled a geek.

wii-u-top1Its time for the WII U!

I think customer loyalty is and always has been a transient thing in the tech world – If it wasn’t, after the NES took the world by storm in the 80’s we’d all be Nintendo owners now.  The market today sees people switching between console platforms (or having all) rather than in the 80’s and 90’s where people generally picked a “side” and stuck with it.

This Xmas (and the sales leading up to it) have, from my observations noticed that many retailers are selling out of the WII U (or at least showing very good sales) now its being bundled at a reduced price.  I checked Argos in the UK for an indicator of what was happening and whilst they still had consoles in stock, it seems the games like Mario Maker were sold out in all the stores that I looked at.  Maybe this is an indicator that there’s many a WII U under the Xmas tree?

I don’t personally think this is in any way indicative of a sway from PS4 or Xbox One, but more that at the lower price, it offers something a little different and good value and its now viable to own as a “as well as” console.

So what’s different about the WII U? Well there is no argument that the specs of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are significantly higher than that of the WII U, but Nintendo offer something which is quite a draw – No subscription costs for online gaming for starters.  Secondly you have that controller/screen which makes 2 player games on one console all the better (no split screen needed).  You’ve also got the ability to move out of the room your console is in and play your games in another room (via the screen controller).

That’s not to mention the exclusives such as the much loved Mario series and Splatoon.

So whilst Nintendo might not be pleased with shifting consoles at a lower cost, as far as the users are concerned, this is great news, now, its not unreasonable to have two consoles to ensure you get the best possible gaming experience in the home, where the ideal choice (in my view) would be a PS4 and a WII U.

As a parent, I like the Nintendo market better too.  The games (generally) are far more suitable for younger players and often promote more creativity from the user.

I think Nintendo has an opportunity here to maybe make up for lost time and ensure that the titles planned for 2016 hit the market on time.

NX Rumour mill – my views.

I think over the last few years my predictions in the tech world speak for themselves as being accurate and on that note, here’s some more.  The NX will not be a handheld console.  I think Nintendo has seen that the “handheld” war has been won between Apple and Android devices and there’s no inclination or need on behalf of the users to move to another platform.  The NX may well have features enabling crossover between devices (tablet/phone -> NX) but a handheld? No.  It won’t happen.

As for release date, I don’t think it will be early 2016.  I think a summer release (at the earliest is reasonable) with a Xmas 2016 more likely.

No DVD/BluRay drive?  Yes, I can believe this, although I’d expect a huge HD as standard, I’m thinking 1/2tb.  And if Nintendo are going to release this without some innovative new piece of tech (such as the WII when it had it’s release) then its going to have to be considerably more powerful than the PS4.  The price will have to be considered too.  Look at the staying power of the PS3 and the popularity of the PS4.  I think this will be a major hurdle for a new console to overcome unless it is seriously over-spec’d compared to the market or priced at such a silly price, it makes no sense not to jump in.

The more I consider the 2016 release date, the more I doubt it.  Since in my view the 2016 came from reliable sources I’ll give my opinion pertaining to that rumour.  If I was to give my own view, I’d say Nintendo should not be considering this release until at least 2017.  Lets give the PS4 and Xbox One to hit the limits of their tech in games.  I’m not seeing this happening yet and just like on the PS3, even now, produces some titles way above that which was expected it could handle.

Give people time to want a new console, not thrust an alternative onto an established market, otherwise what will happen is that the new console won’t sell and when the established market goes for the upgrade they will again be looking at PS5 or Xbox Two which will most likely have better specs than the NX.  Maybe the biggest problem Nintendo have is that they are out of sync with the rest of the market (in terms of new console releases).  The NX may be better spec’d than the PS4, but when PS4 owners are asking for a new console, I’d be surprised if the NX matched up to the future specs of a PS5.  “Out of sync” in my view is Nintendo’s biggest issue here.

Tim.

Broadband for all! – At a price! & other musings

Posted on Updated on

It has been an eventful week.  First and foremost the passing of my Grandmother who at 93 years of age left our family peacefully at St Benedicts Hospice in the North East of the UK.  I would like to thank all the staff there for the kindness, professionalism and dignity they afforded my Grandmother in her last days.

I’m currently producing a YouTube video with material from a discussion with Michael Horn, the media representative for Billy Meier.  A fascinating gentleman.  It asks as many questions as it does give answers, which is a good thing.  No matter what your views, I’m sure people will enjoy it.

Barrack Obama is now on Facebook.  What can you say about that? About time?  Its doubtful anything Mr Obama gets up to will go under the radar of the mainstream media, so quite what this more personal venue of the president will provide is anyone’s guess.

The UK government is always a source of entertainment, comical, shocking and just plain ignorant.  For those who keep an eye on UK affairs there’s much going on.  Sus scrofa domesticus Cameron, has proclaimed that in 5 years, 10mbit broadband will be looked with at the same (in terms of right) as electricity.  Announced shortly after the new laws that everyone’s internet history can be looked at without warrant.   It seems the right of innocent until proven guilty has taken another hit in the UK, now there is no innocent, its “we’ll have a look and decide if you’ve done anything wrong”.  Investigative policing in the UK now seems more like a fishing trip.

And “fishing trip” investigating is probably for the best.  When looking at the “expertise” of the “specialists” we can see that government agencies fall well behind that of the private sector.  I suppose this is to be expected, if you are an in-demand specialist with real skills, then the lure of private sector pay and benefits far outweighs anything a government agency can offer.  If you want the good pay and perks then the only government role that offers those is to become an MP.

 

A troubled planet – News and musing around the world.

Posted on Updated on

If you needed proof humanity is lost, look no further than the news of One Direction and their cancelled concert.  According to the source of parenting and life advice (Sky News) there were reports of weeping fans sounding more like a scene of Luke 13:28 rather than a naff boy band cancelling an event due to one of them having the figurative sniffles.

Keeping on the topic of Sky News, what is it with the short advice video’s seemingly posted every morning.  This morning we were treated to advice on social media.    Let me say now, if you find yourself being helped by Sky News with their life advice – get rid of your technology, you are not responsible enough to be using these things without supervision.  The only advice Sky television gives is more indirect and that’s to switch it off, the volume of commercial breaks that are stuffed into their programming, for me makes them entirely unwatchable.

Keeping on the subject of adverts, if ever there was a warning for not pursuing AI and robotics, its the adverts that feature Brian the Robot.  Has there ever been a more annoying and unfunny example of artificial intelligence and a better warning that its one area of technology we shouldn’t dabble in?

Disney have managed something which I don’t think anyone would consider possible a few years ago – get people excited with an advert for an advert.  The build-up (and teaser) adverts to a trailer which was released the other day for a movie had many people in a frenzy and is a sad indictment of today’s society.  Is a movie something in life people feel the need to get into a frenzy over? Tragic.

Its “Back to the Future” day today, the date in which Marty goes to in the future.  Presumably because people have nothing better to do, a big issue is made of the predictions in the movie.  Holographic movie trailers? Nope not turned up.  Hoverboards? No not really, the tentative steps taken towards them seem to have been inspired by the movie so it was hardly a prediction, more of an encouragement.  Auto drying clothes? Nope.  The only predictions I see that are correct are baseball caps still being worn and groups of teenagers terrorising members of the public.  I suppose video conferencing is a correct prediction, but even that wasn’t accurate as anyone using a video conferencing service will attest that its often more a story of lag and disconnections.