Archive for August, 2008

StackOverflow, Bloodstock and The Clone Wars (Catching Up)

Monday, August 18th, 2008

I’ve got two or three things lined up and half written on technical subjects to finish up before they appear here (mostly surrounding good API design and how to achieve it, and myths about Exceptions in the .NET framework) but I’ve been exceptionally busy lately.

I’ve been enjoying the semi-private beta of Stackoverflow, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky’s project to provide a “developer self help” community akin to Experts Exchange (just “without the suck”).  It’s pretty solid and appears to be playing out like a kind of Xbox live for programmers, at least in the beta, while people try to quickly answer things to get reputation and badges (think achievements).  I don’t know if the enthusiasm will hold out post release, but people do like shiny virtual awards, and people always have questions.

Attended the Bloodstock Open Air music festival at Catton Hall in Derby over this weekend.  Horrible horrible drive (whoever figured that not lighting roads where you’re expected to drive at 70mph was a good idea probably should be taken out the back and shot) but we stayed in a Hotel in the nearby Burton Upon Trent rather than camped.  The music was very much above par (if you like metal / extreme metal) across the three days.  In all honesty, I went to see Opeth headline the Friday and Soilwork play third slot on the Saturday but there was generally a lot of good material to fill the time.

Over the three days we managed to watch (earliest to latest):

Friday Saturday Sunday
Tyr Swallow The Sun Crowning Glory
Akercocke The Defiled Alestorm
Destruction Moonsorrow Grand Magus
Primal Fear Soilwork Mob Rules
Soulfly Iced Earth Kataklysm
Helloween Dimmu Borgir As I Lay Dying
Opeth Overkill
At The Gates

A few of those are partial (as much Dimmu Borgir as I could handle until I got bored, only about half of Destruction, Mob Rules and Overkill).  We caught the first track Napalm Death played before I remembered that they’re a little special (and not in the good way), and I made a point of leaving before Nightwish on Sunday night (it was raining, and Nightwish make me feel ill!).

Highlights were Opeth headlining (shortened set, Fredrik Åkesson seems to fit in better on lead guitar than he did on the pre-Watershed tour), Soulfly playing a lot of Sepultura, Tyr and Alestorm for utter hilarity (battle metal and pirate metal respectively), Soilwork being as tight as ever, Swallow the Sun being very atmospheric and At The Gates being metal as hell.

Overall at the end of the weekend I was feeling somewhat burnt out watching live music.  Which means going to Leeds next weekend will be a bit of effort…  I suspect we’ll just go to watch the big headliners (Metallica, Slipknot, rage against the machine and Queens of the Stoneage) perhaps skipping the Sunday entirely as it’ll be a case of driving to and from Manchester each evening.

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I also went to check out the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated feature length this evening.  As a huge extended universe Star Wars fan I pretty much feel indifferent about it.

It looked nice, was fluid, the voice acting was decent enough, the battle sequences were pretty cool, the light saber fights were decent looking if soullessly put together. 

Unfortunately they wrote an average main story (instead of one of a million better clone wars related tales they could have filmed) added a very annoying seemingly cross dressing English talking Hutt, and then went through the dialogue of the script adding pet names for minor characters to make the dialogue feel a little awkward and kiddie.

It wasn’t bad, I did enjoy it.  I’ve always left Star Wars cinema experiences (usually on opening night, they somehow slipped this under the radar) feeling elated, and this time I came out feeling pretty indifferent.  It was reasonable, a great kids film I guess, but whereas they previously made Star Wars kid suitable, this time it feels like they didn’t quite make the directly kid orientated release adult friendly enough and somehow made a few Star Wars characters say things they shouldn’t ever have had to say (Jedi calling a Hutt lave “Stinky” is just plain wrong).  I guess I just hope they make the animated series a little more adult friendly.

Hopefully I’ll get a few technical posts finished up in the next few days.  In the meantime, checkout Stackoverflow.com, see the Clone Wars if you can silence your inner adult and go listen to some Swallow The Sun.