Thursday 31 December 2009

From the Moon to Pandora

2009 has witnessed another prolific year in the fantasy and sci-fi genre on the big screen - much of which I will have to revisit in 2010 by way of LOVEFiLM.

As Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator Salvation collapsed into an incoherent mechanised mess. Moon, Star Trek and James Cameron's Avatar were in the ascension...

Much has already been written about these films. So, I'll try not to reprise what other critics have already said, nor are there any spoilers per se. Think of this more as an end of year review haiku.

Moon was a love letter to the sci-fi cinema and television I watched as a child. And James Cameron's Avatar, predictable out of necessity, invited audiences to 'discover and explore' a beautiful, immersive and mesmeric digital 3D world. Tantamount to seeing Star Wars for the first time; I left the cinema yearning to return to the moon of Pandora.

I refuse to select any of the above as my genre film of the year 2009! That accolade goes to a film from 2007. Cheating? Well, maybe of a sorts. But, this post is about the fantasy and sci-fi films I saw, for the first time, this year. For its life-affirming, and poignant, narrative, Bridge to Terabithia is my choice!

Thursday 17 December 2009

N.O.V.A: Halo meets Metroid mashup for iPhone

Gameloft's coding elves have been busy in the run up to the holiday season!

Not content with releasing Driver (iTunes), The Settlers (iTunes) or the epic James Cameron's Avatar (iTunes). N.O.V.A - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, a quintessential first-person shooter (FPS) in the making, arrives with a media fanfare rivalling AAA releases on home consoles.

Much has been written about N.O.V.A (iTunes) since it was announced. Comparisons with Halo and Metroid are inescapable and justified. The lush look and feel conjures up those celebrated franchises.

In spite of the fact that it's all too easy to accuse Gameloft of possible plagiarism, I wouldn't hesitate in recommending you download N.O.V.A now!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

24 HOUR Avatar IMAX 3D Fan-a-thon

To usher in the opening of James Cameron's Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience, there will be HOURLY giveaways plus Avatar facts and missions found on the IMAX fan page.

The Fan-a-thon starts on December 18th at 12:01 AM EST and will run for 24 hours! Fans can enter to win exclusive Avatar IMAX 3D prizes EVERY HOUR!

In related news. Avatar is now available on the App Store and is garnering rave reviews for pushing the technological limits of the iPhone and iPod touch. You can download the video game here.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Google Chrome for Mac: is the circle complete?

Following months of developer builds. Yesterday Google released its much-anticipated, and hyped, Chrome browser (not to be confused with Chrome OS) for Mac. However, it only runs on Intel-based machines running Mac OS X 10.5 or later. So, PowerPC users are left out in the cold.

Currently in beta (what Google product isn't?), Chrome for Mac almost matches the Windows version point-to-point. The main omissions are bookmark management and extensions! This isn't a potential deal-breaker, and Google assures users that a future update will add these features.

As would be expected with a browser based on WebKit (see Safari), Chrome is lightweight, nimble and silky smooth. Firefox (my current default browser), in contrast, is slow and resource-hungry: so much so that leaving too many tabs open, for long periods, results in system-wide unresponsiveness (that's certainly been my experience).

View Google Chrome for Mac as a sandboxed trial for now. Go play...

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Download December Duet on iTunes

It took over a decade (the original Star Wars trilogy appeared on DVD before it)! Now, thanks to an afternoon spent in my Panasonic VHS to DVD transfer suite, for your viewing pleasure, is my video major 'December Duet' (1996).

I co-wrote (with novelist and friend Nick Smith - 'Milk Treading'), produced, directed and edited (non-linear for the final EDL) 'December Duet' (shot on Beta SP format), which was the culmination of the (BA Hons) Media Production course at the University of Bournemouth.

This 10 minute drama starred Bob Sessions, who has appeared in numerous films including Clive Barker's 'Night Breed', 'Hackers' (starring Academy Award® winning actress Angelina Jolie) and portrayed Batman/Bruce Wayne in BBC Radio One's, episodic audio adaptation, 'Knightfall' (1995).

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

December Duet (iTunes) is also available for playback on portable devices such as iPod classic, iPod nano, iPod touch, iPhone and Sony PSP!

Subscribe to my podcast in iTunes and download it directly onto your mobile device!

Tuesday 1 December 2009

MiFi plus iPod touch is game-changing!

Earlier this year I was contacted by 3mobilebuzz to trial the INQ1, which was hailed by critics as the phone for the Facebook generation! The lack of a built-in Twitter client was lamentable, but, for a first generation product, the INQ1 showed great promise within the social media space. Free Skype calls wasn't bad either.

Thanks to 3mobilebuzz I'm now trialling 3's newly released mobile broadband - MiFi - over the next 7 weeks (or so). MiFi is your very own Wi-Fi hotspot - no need to search for an internet café! And, as part of a consumer panel, I'll be providing feedback on the following three subject areas:

1. Shopper experience
2. Set-up and getting connected for the first time
3. Where and how MiFi is being used

For the purpose of this trial I acted as a mystery shopper and purchased MiFi on PAYG from a 3Store. The in-store point of sale display was informative and helpful staff were on hand.

MiFi was clearly explained and its benefits over a USB modem dongle - no software set-up required out of the box: simply and securely connect a Wi-Fi enabled device such as an iPod touch, Nintendo DSi or Sony PSP. Instant gratification.

MiFi could replace home broadband. At time of writing, I live in an area where 3 mobile coverage is weak and this was pointed out by the sales assistant who asked me whether or not I wanted to proceed with the transaction. 3Store offers excellent customer service and compares favourably with Apple Store.

As a regular commuter between the South West and East of England. The compelling combo of MiFi and an iPod touch could be game-changing, and maybe all the mobile kit I'll ever need! Certainly this would've enabled me to 'tweet', from a mobile device, during a recent visit to Channel Four.

I've begun field testing the MiFi and iPod touch combo and am impressed with the reliability of the connection (where available). However, it maybe prudent to invest in a carry case for MiFi! The pack-in doesn't include one and the device is liable to become scratched and isn't that robust. It's worth observing that the function buttons are cumbersome - it's easy to accidentally disable Wi-Fi - and a single standby button would suffice.

From today you'll be able to buy a MiFi + iPod touch bundle from any 3Store or online here. Pricing for the bundle is £23 a month for a 2-year contract.

I'll be tweeting my MiFi usage during Christmas and the New Year. Looking forward to using MiFi at festive Tweet-Ups and seeing how it copes with more than one device connected.

You should follow me on Twitter here.