NOTE: Spoiler Free Review :-)
Before going to see Star Trek Beyond (in VMax & 3D at Crown Cinemas in Melbourne) I just happened to see one review which was rather negative, so I thought I’d write this one as my (and IMDB & Rotten Tomatoes) experience was pretty much the opposite. The film is GREAT! It’s probably the best of the Abrams reboots (at least as good as the first, and better than the second in my opinion).
With the price of movies (and Popcorn!) these days I’m pretty picky about what I see at the cinema, but the Abrams Star Trek movies need to be seen on a large screen in 3D. Speaking of 3D, I think they got it right as some films have given me a bit of a headache – this one was fine.
As this is a spoiler free review, there’s a lot I won’t cover, except what is revealed in the trailer – the Baddie (Krall) and his force are great, and there’s a clever twist at the end. Jayla is a great new character and hopefully we’ll see more of her. As to the ‘old gang’, well, they’re the crew of the Enterprise and all seem to get pretty even exposure throughout the movie.
Some of the highlights for me were:
- The graphics in general – no more lens flares ;-)
- “Gravity Scenes” – obviously a lot of thought put in to them
- The view of warp from the outside – such a great new visualisation
- The “Super Star Base” (York Town)
- There’s a Gay character – obviously not groundbreaking in movies, but at least for Star Trek – and it’s handled well in that it’s “no biggie”, but “just the way it is”
Any Cons? Not really… this movie is not perfect, but it’s very good and moves along at a reasonable pace. You have to “suspend disbelief” to be in the “Star Trek Universe” – I can’t comment on what this film would be like for an “objective person” (who I presume would of never seen anything Star Trek in their life ;) as I literally grew up with Star Trek (my early first memories of TV were Star Trek as it was very (on the edge) scary to me at the time). There was some criticism of “dark scenes”, but there’s only a few really dark ones and it’s used effectively to dictate the mood.
Overall, I think they’ve now got a really good “tone” to Star Trek Beyond (thanks in part also Justin Lim’s (Fast and Furious) direction) which sets things up very nicely for the next movie – seems like they’ve really found their feet. As I mentioned earlier, this is a movie to see on a large screen and 3D. It’s also a movie I’d definitely see again (on DVD) as I’m sure there’s some bits I missed.
WOW! I just realised that it’s been a year since I did a blog post. I knew it had been a while, but I figured around 6 months max… Well, I suppose I needed it, and the good news is that I’M BACK!
I’m not going to go in to what has transpired over the past year since an agile adoption, as it’s quite involved and will come out in some successive posts, but will focus on where I am now and what my Posting Plans are.
Near the end of last year we started planning a return to Australia after almost a decade in the UK – what a BLAST! So many lovely experiences, people, places and new friends :-) Eventually though, it was time to return to Australia as it really is my home and although I may have a few gripes about it, Australia really is an amazing place and as the old cliche goes: I now really appreciate how lucky I am to live in this country after being away so long. That shot above is from my local beach which is 3 mins drive, and I can get in to the city (in the distance) in around 1/2h with a walk and public transport – that’s a pretty good lifestyle.
So what’s in the pipe? A much more varied mix than when I started out doing just “software stuff”:
- Reflections on life in the UK and Europe
- Observations on life in Australia now I’m back
- Reviews of gadgets
- Travelogues as I explore my own country – now I’ve probably seen more of Europe than I have of Australia, so it’s time to correct that
- Process – yes, I’m still on the agile path
- Architecture – looks like that will be my primary area of work still
- Software – which I’m gradually getting back in to, with the current focus being Clojure
- Probably the odd bit of music or photography to round things out
- Anything else anyone would like me to write about…
I’m currently looking for a contract (hint :) but today was not my normal day where I wake up, have a coffee, watch a bit of TV, then start looking for something… Because part of my start is checking out Social Media, where I came across this piece The only oil that goes with a Croatian bikini is olive! by teresafritschi via @JenniferSertl, one of the great global connectors. I’d encourage you to read the piece first, not only for the context of why I did this, but as to why you should be concerned that the oil industry and politicians will probably wreck the Adriatic in the next decade!
Now to the graphic – how did I do it and what is it’s validity? In short, I used PowerPoint to strip out backgrounds and scale things correctly so I could transpose the BP Oil Spill graphic (from One-fifth of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna killed by BP oil spill) on to Google Maps. All you have to do is “go” to New Orleans and adjust the scale on your Google Map so it’s the same scale as as the graphic’s one:
First, you use a clever little feature that PowerPoint has called “Remove Background”. Firstly, you use it on the Oil Spill to remove the “Background”, which PPT thinks is the faintest part, so on that graphic it’s the map – Voila!
There’s a bit of Art and Science in doing this – the key things I did for Croatia were align it with the coast and ‘reflect’ it so you have the same phenomena as on the top-right of the original Oil Spill because it’s in a sheltered area and so is the Adriatic. Just in case anyone questions this, I’ve been deliberately conservative as I actually think an oil spill could be even worse in the Adriatic as it’s effectively a confined space!
Once you have your underlay, how do you put it under the map? That’s where we go back to our friend from PPT, “Remove Background” – you’ll probably have to play about with it a bit this time (as the contrast between sea and land is not as obvious). You can now put together your final image as shown below by simply setting the layer order correctly.
All up, this probably took about an hour as it’s a bit of a fiddly process, but for a cause like Saving the Adriatic, it was well worthwhile.
Furthermore, if anyone’s drilling just off your coast, you can now do your own visualisation of what the impact may be on yourself and neighbouring countries ;-)
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted much, mainly due to a contract which requires me to drive on the M20 and M25 (aka “the carpark” for those outside the UK) and as a result, I just don’t seem to of had the time and energy…
I look forward to getting on something where someone else is doing the driving so I can use my time effectively
Amazingly, it seems like only 7% (4.5 Million) people in the UK use public transport. Given that nearly 1/3 (22 Million) live in the South-East, where transport is generally pretty good, that seems pretty low. No surprise given the number of people on the motorways – I’ll be happy to take one more off them next contract.
So what’s up for 2015 for me and this blog?
For one, I plan to start getting back in to a bit more of a rhythm, both with my posts and the associated (play) work (generally outside “real work”), and I will continue to post based on my experiences – recent and past…
- Lifestyle & Reviews
- Process & People & ScramJet
- Architecture, including Enterprise & SOA aspects
in no particular order. I won’t get in to specifics as much of it is not yet planned, or I’m working on it but don’t want to reveal it until I have enough meat on the the bones so I can be sure it will fly.
- Review of Bob Marshall’s “Thinking Different” happening last year
- Review of the: BMW i3 electric car; Samsung Galaxy Alpha
- Corporate Subversion – in a positive manner of course :-)
and that’s really just the “boring stuff” – there should be some very interesting posts coming as I hit my stride.
I hope you’ve all had a great XMas & New Year break and look forward to some great interactions in 2015!
Before I get in to the guts of Skramjet, there was a final piece of philosophy that was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it until recently whilst watching a brilliant PBS program The Buddha. One of the interesting facts I didn’t realise was how The Middle Way or Path was come up with – it was when he was attaining enlightenment.
After his initial life of total indulgence, then his Ascetic phase where he was almost dead (see right) that The Buddha realised that the way to enlightenment lay in between these two extremes:
Neither a life of self- indulgence, nor one of self-mortification can bring happiness. Only a middle path, avoiding these two extremes, leads to peace of mind, wisdom, and complete liberation from the dissatisfactions of life
An Agile Ascetic – well versed in Scrum, Kanban, TDD, BDD & NVC ;-)
THIS WAS THE MISSING LINK!
Most (if not all) agile processes, be they Lean, Scrum, Kanban or whatever assume usually quite a bit of discipline and adherenceto “the process” Don’t believe me? Try telling:
- A Lean / 6 Sigma adherent you won’t Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control
- A Scrum Master you’re not going to do the 3 questions or have a Product Owner
- A Kanban Kraftsperson you’re not going to limit WIP
In most cases, good luck with that… Does it have to be that way?
What is The Middle Way?
When I did my first official SDLC process training with Rational Unified Process, the 1st rule was “use the process to configure the process”. Unfortunately, many “agile people” don’t do this! They use a Waterfall process to configure an agile process. This, I suspect, is a key contributor to why many Agile adoptions fail. One of the lessons I learnt early on, after my first successful Scrum failure was to let the process emerge. My 2nd attempt was a dream run as we started with sticky notes and tasks – that’s all! No people against tasks and no estimates. The interesting thing is that the team added these two features in the next two retrospectives, which just shows that is you have faith and give control over to others in the “right context”, there shall be rewards.
Today I’m (@RiczWest) starting a new twitter account. It’s called ChangeArc. For those who follow me, you’ll recognise this as my “Blog Name” – so what’s the purpose?
Simple – when I started using Twitter, it was primarily as a bookmarking tool. To some extent I still use it as such, but also for so much more…
There’s one problem though – as I look at a lot of content, that means a lot of tweets, and not everyone likes that, including me! There are a number of great people I’d like to follow, but I can’t because they tweet too much.
To that end, I’m going to start a much lower volume (only a few tweets per day) account which is ChangeArc. So what can you expect apart from less tweets? Extremely high quality tweets that will include any posts I do.
I don’t know how this will evolve, but it will be interesting to see…
It’s the end of the day here, and what a day it’s been with 3 causes, 2 manifestos and so many hashtags I lost count! ;-) Organised chaos springs to mind… But it’s been worth it. I’ve done my best to spread the word and went to my first CryptoParty (and Unconference :) at English PEN, which I just thought I’d briefly recap. The function was at their offices in London which were probably a bit small for the event even though there was a small lecture theatre space included.
Luckily as the numbers were limited it wasn’t too crowded, just very comfy. The mix was interesting – a few business people, some good hackers, information & freedom people, quite a few IT people (like me :) and just many who were interested and wanted to find out more. There was certainly a wide range of topics covered (in no particular order):
- Secure SMS
- Smart Phone Security
- Secure Storage
- Encrypting Mail
- Safe Web Browsing
- Why Bother? I have nothing to hide…
- A Secure OS – Qubes OS
- How Google and Facebook make money from you
- TruCrypt (the software Snowden et al use)
In all, I’d say a Total Success! I was able to chat with many people and my wife was educated on many issues, some of which I’d talked about. The great thing was that it wasn’t just me blabbering on and there were some interesting freedom and rights perspectives that were also given.
One of the key messages was that privacy should be the default (ah – remember the good ‘ol days ;) and that we should politically move towards this.
In the mean time however, we need to implement “stop gap measures” that increase peoples privacy by encrypted communication, storage and working. This has given me some focus for my contribution.
I’d planned on leaving Google this year anyway and blog about it. I can now see that I actually have a greater need to reclaim my privacy, and I’ll be blogging about that also. I can’t wait to see what happens on next years The Day We Fight Back, Necessary and Proportionate, to Stop The NSA, and Stop Spying on US! Or as I’d like to call it – Information Freedom Day :-)
Updates: Just in today:
- DOJ accuses firm that vetted Snowden of faking 665,000 background checks – that’s right – over 600k people working at the NSA have not been checked!!! They could be way worse than Snowden – criminals, foreign agents, terrorists, general ner’ do wells’, cads, bounders – who knows???
- Want to Store Secret NSA Metadata? – Yes, that’s right – Obama has decided to store secret NSA Metadata at a private company – here’s the RFI – nepotism, of course not! What could possibly go wrong..?
Welcome to my meager effort in the push back against unconditional mass surveillance. At the moment I’m waiting on some treatment for a pinched nerve that means I can’t use my right arm much for typing, which is literally a pain. Still, nothing will stop me blogging on this auspicious occasion which I passionately believe in!
Anyone who knows me virtually or physically knows that I am a passionate believer in people, humanity and freedom – some of the core principles of The Magna Carta and The American Constitution. For this reason I’m fully signing up to The Day We Fight back. To me, this means a sort of non-violent revolution along the lines of
How to Start a Revolution by Gene Sharp
which has been behind many recent revolutions such as the Arab Spring and Eastern European ones. Ironically, we now need tools such as this to ensure our own freedom in Western Civilisation…
Why? Because the USA (NSA) and other countries such as the UK (GCHQ) and Australia (ASIO) seem to be heading down a very dark path based around the darker side of human nature. This has been trodden before and never ended well for anyone…
The current situation with mass surveillance will soon be beyond what George Orwell warned against in his book and the movie 1984. Even allowing for the fact that people have “nothing to fear” if they “obey the law”, there have already been numerous instances of NSA Employees abusing the current system and the NSA helping US corporations conduct corporate espionage. Here in the UK, we’re now looking at our confidential health information being sold to whoever wants it which is a total violation of patient-doctor confidentiality.
Underlying all of this is the dangerous assumption that large institutions (be they government or corporations) can tramp over the rights of individuals (aka people :) and exploit them as they would any other resource for their own ends. I think it’s time people really understood the value of the privacy and took it back so we don’t all end up going somewhere where most people don’t want to be and won’t enjoy. The choice is yours…
PS If you’re in the UK, although it’s not on the official page, there’s a (CyberParty) event at English PEN tonight – seems like there are still tickets available…
A while ago I watched a very disturbing documentary, Heist – Who stole the American Dream? on how an attack has been underway on the Free Enterprise system by some elite individuals (e.g. David Koch – can’t wait to see Citizen Koch when it comes out) and their Corporations.
Sounds like your average “nutter conspiracy theory”? Well, it might be if it wasn’t for the fact that the basis of all this, the “Powell Memorandum: Attack On American Free Enterprise System” (published 1972) is now widely available on the net from such as the Washington and Lee University School of Law Powell Archive after it was leaked.
In fact, here’s a link directly to the PDF / Scan of the original memorandum which was originally written by Lewis Powell (who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court) for Eugene B Sydnor Jr and the Chamber of Commerce. The end goal is as the film says “A Corporate Makeover of America”.
The film then goes on to outline how what we have today is an eerily “step by step” implementation of the Powell Memorandum. But – it’s not finished! There’s more to come, but I’ll let the film outline that…
If you’re at all an independent thinker and not part of the top 0.0…01% then here’s a few very disturbing facts:
- US Corporations currently have US$1.5T in offshore accounts as they’re only paying an average of 13% Tax, with many of the largest such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron and GE paying none or even getting rebates!
- Due to the crash:
- US$10T in Housing Wealth was lost
- 10M Families lost homes to foreclosure and 11M more are “underwater”
- 10M Workers lost jobs
- As a result, there are now 47M (or about 15%) Americans living in poverty
If you’re interested finding out more outside of the film, here’s a great analysis The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto) from reclaim democracy and Google will give you a heap of information.
I’m not the most prolific of bloggers, but after that first post on the 30th June 2012 “Hello world! Of Architecture and Change” this is now the 100th post – WOOHOO! As you can see above, I had a fairly modest celebration with a few Grenadier mates – thanks guys ;-)
As with any Base-10 based moment, I think it’s time for a bit of reflection and cogitation… What better place to start than the “mission statement” from that first post:
If you’re interested in IT, Privacy, Science, Maths, Process, Systems (of people and technical), Programming, Organisations and any other topics that grab my attention, then you may want to follow this.
So how did I score?
- I think I had pretty good coverage of IT, Process, People Systems and Organisations
- But, I only touched on maths and didn’t really cover any Science, Technical Systems (ironic or not, as that’s what I work with much of the time) or Privacy (although I did tweet a lot on this as I have some pretty strong and liberal views on this).
- “any other topics” covered a number of things such as some funny movies, inspiring kids, The DailyRiczWest which was an attempt at semi-automatic curation, some physical and virtual holidays, and some reviews of things and conferences. I also chatted with some bots, lamented Generation Debt Recession, Curated some Tweets by Jennifer Sertl, was on a train with a Happy American Conductor in the UK, used The Most Expensive form of travel in The World, did a Juice Reboot and went to a Campus PARTY all in the past 1.5 years!
The inevitable question is where now? Firstly, I think it’s time for a renewed mission statement:
To boldly go, where I've not gone before To seek out new ways of being, living, thinking and working To explore seemingly strange new worlds and ideas of other people These are the voyages of me... In physical, virtual, emotional & mental space: The final frontiers
- I like blogging about “anything”. I know this may be frustrating for some who very much stay on a particular “message topic”, as one day I’m talking about a product, another some programming, people or an organisation type. Well, that’s just me so I won’t change that…
- I do want to increase the “technical content”, by which I mean around Architecture, Design and Programming. I got drawn down a people and process rabbit hole, which in some ways culminated with previous post on Toxic Waterfall. I’ll still blog in this area, but have a lot of technical ideas I want to explore and talk about along the way
- I think topics like Maths, Science, Privacy and the like are probably better covered on Twitter, which I’ll be getting back on to next year after I’ve returned from a well earned break in Australia
- People (& Organisations)
- Process (with People and Organisations)
- Technology (to implement Processes for People in Organisations)
but most importantly in a humane context