January 28th, 2007

Semiformalishmaybe

Spider Wars

I saw Pan's Labyrinth. It was pretty good, although there were several parts where I had to shut my eyes to avoid things I didn't want to see (needles freak me out). I really liked that it was set in a historically interesting time period (the early day's of Franco's reign in Spain), and that that time period was very defining for the film. There were a few parts that I wasn't completely clear on - was the main character starving or just not taking things seriously when she ate the forbidden fruit? Was the romanticising of the communist militias meant to give the film more of a good/bad dualism? The framing events near the end of the film also seemed a bit curious - I wonder if there was a historical resurgance of leftists that was meant to be represented. The film would've still made sense without those framing events. The film was kind of depressing - most of the European cinema I've seen is refreshingly distant from the (Hays-code influenced?) Hollywood norm of happy endings, and this in particular has a Brazil-type ending.

I get really frustrated when I see people who review movies push movies away from mirroring the real complexities of life. To quote:

  • As Garner's Gray Wheeler discovers shady things about her dead fiance's romantic past, she seems headed for a restorative romance with one of his friends. No sooner have we settled in for this development when another, seemingly more appropriate, suitor rears his head. We become seriously lost as to which romance we are supposed to be rooting for, as if Grant changed her mind, too, but couldn't be bothered to go back and re-adapt the first half of the movie.

I like movies that are as complex as life - where everyone is complex, where rough edges are everywhere, where stories don't feel like stories, there are no good guys or bad guys but just people, and people win and lose without there necessarily being sense to everything. Movies set in a "moral universe" feel juvenile to me, movies where there arn't characters that just show up for a scene or two or who arn't significant to the story feel lonely to me. Maybe I'm just not cut out for most movies, but this is why I don't see them very often. They compare interestingly to most television as I remember - with TV, there's an art in "running while standing still" - creating development for characters that is sufficiently atemporal that if episodes are shown out of order, usually nothing is lost. This is kind of frustrating too, most of the time - it wasn't for MST3k largely because MST3k isn't really about the characters, it's just an activity of laughing at bad movies.

I recently installed Greasemonkey again for a single purpose, and find that it no longer makes my browser slow (over a year ago, it made things unbearable). I'm starting to poke around for scripts that improve other sites I visit - it seems that people are doing more sophisticated things with it than ever before. I'm a bit worried though that unless I look at every script I install, I might install something that would do bad things.

I half-rewrote my email program, with a nice, clean OO design with some better cleverness for bootstrapping. Back when I wrote it initially, it was only half MIME-compliant, and I added another program on the side to allow saving of attachments. I think I should probably make the whole thing MIME-smart as I rewrite it, so I'll be digging more deeply into the perl MIME modules in the near future. If I keep the design clean enough, I might be able to seperate the UI from the logic this time (and maybe make a GTK and/or web interface) and split the file storage from the logic (so I could think about a postgresql backend). It helps that I'm a much more seasoned programmer than I was when I wrote it initially - hooray for years of experience.

A few interesting things:Collapse )

Semiformalishmaybe

Gentoo versus BSD

I find it interesting that someone else's BLOG post, a longtime BSDer playing with Gentoo for awhile, suggesting that Gentoo doesn't belong on servers has led to a bit of a collision between the Gentoo and FreeBSD communities. In the software world, it's rare that we find two crowds more different among people with a fair amount of technical knowledge. My understanding is that Gentoo folk are generally youth with a good amount of knowledge but very little temperment that age and judgement tends to bring. BSDers tend to be more of the old-school types who mix somewhat deeper technical knowledge with the type of judgement that only time usually teaches. I've only rarely come across heavy pushers of Gentoo over the age of 25, while I've only rarely come across BSD people under the age of 30 (those few generally spent time under a much more seasoned admin type). The bleeding-edge versus conservative approach to programming and systems gives an interesting contrast.

Personally, I'm not in either camp - I'm much more friendly to BSD than Gentoo, although I'm willing to give up a bit of the conservativism for better hardware support and some other OS features. Having been mostly with Redhat/Fedora since RH5, I've been pretty happy with how things have worked out on the servers and desktops I've had/managed/coached over the years. I'd be happy to admin a BSD box again though if the situation came up, and in some circumstances I would probably prefer OpenBSD to Fedora on a server (when there's only one processor, no weird hardware, and security is pretty important). I think I'd still be comfortable adminning Solaris or a few other commercial Unices if it came up too...