Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Doctor Who Anniversary Special Breaks Record

The 50th Anniversary episode of popular British TV show ‘Doctor Who’, which aired on Saturday 23rd November, has broken the world record for largest ever simulcast of a television drama.

A simulcast is a simultaneous broadcast that is viewed via more than one medium.

In the UK alone, some 10.2 million people tuned in to the BBC show, although others still would have digitally recorded the special in order to view it at a time better suited to them.

The episode, entitled ‘Day of The Doctor’ was broadcast on TV in 94 countries, as well as being screened in 1,500 cinemas around the globe. It is also being streamed online via BBC iPlayer, for those who either missed the first showing, or would simply like to see it again.

Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday presented the show’s head writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat, with a special certificate in commemoration of the event, on Sunday. In response, Moffat joked that after years of preventing others from conquering the world, the Doctor had done it himself.

‘Day of The Doctor’ is the 799th episode of the long running show, which first aired in 1963. The series was cancelled in 1989, but was resurrected in 2005 by executive producer Russell T. Davies.

The feature-length anniversary episode starred Matt Smith as the titular Doctor, teaming him up with previous Doctor David Tennant and veteran actor John Hurt (who played an as-yet unseen incarnation of the character, known only to fans as ‘The War Doctor’).

The show also starred Jenna Coleman as the Doctor’s companion, Clara, Joanna Page as Queen Elizabeth I, Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart and fan-favourite Billie Piper as a variation on her previous character, Rose Tyler.

Long time fans were also especially pleased to see the return of actor Tom Baker, who portrayed the character of The Doctor from 1974 – 1981.

Via contemporary special effects and cunning use of old footage, all of the actors who have played The Doctor appeared to some degree. Viewers were also treated to a brief glimpse of Peter Capaldi (the actor positioned to be the next Doctor) in the role.

The show continues a tradition of sorts, in which returning former stars have celebrated the series’ anniversaries. The 10th anniversary of the show in 1973 featured the return of past actors William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton for a special entitled ‘The Three Doctors’. In 1983, the programme’s 20th anniversary saw the return of Troughton and Jon Pertwee for the special episode called ‘The Five Doctors’. In other instances, past Doctors have appeared in 1985’s ‘The Two Doctors’ and the 2007 BBC Children in Need Special ‘Time Crash’.

Fan response to the show was generally positive, with massive activity on Facebook, Twitter and others, but not all fans were impressed. Christopher Ritchie, writing for Dr.WhoTV.co.uk, suggested that the ending of the show devalued the impact of key events in the character’s history, going as far as to call it a “degeneration” of the relaunched series.

However, the vast majority of the show’s fans, both old and young, were hugely impressed with the episode, with multiple Tweets praising the show’s attention to its history and legacy, as well as the heaps of praise for the performances of Smith, Tennant and Hurt. Fans were sharing their favourite quotes with one another online within minutes of the closing credits.

The 74-minute special will be available on DVD and download from December 2nd.






Doctor Who Anniversary Special Breaks Record

Monday, January 27, 2014

Peter Capaldi Starts on-set of Doctor Who

Series 8 of the hit British TV series ‘Doctor Who’ has officially started production in Cardiff, Wales. This series will feature the first adventures of the new lead actor, Peter Capaldi, a prospect that has fans of the series very excited.

The show, which debuted in 1963, has starred 12 actors as the titular Doctor. Capaldi, a lifelong fan of the series, is to be the 13th (although he will be recognized as the 12th within the show’s storyline). Said Capaldi of the show, I was five when the show started. I don’t remember Doctor Who not being part of my life, and it became a part of growing up, along with The Beatles, National Health spectacles, and fog. And it runs deep. It’s in my DNA…”

The character of the Twelfth Doctor briefly appeared in the 50th anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor’ last November and officially debuted on Christmas Day 2013 in the episode ‘The Time of the Doctor’, although he made his appearance only at the very end. Capaldi has replaced former Doctor Matt Smith, who had been the series’ lead actor since 2010.

Peter Capaldi, who is both a BAFTA and Academy Award winner, has appeared in Doctor Who before, playing the role of Lucius Caecilius Lucundus, a real-life banker who lived in the ancient Roman city of Pompei. He also featured in the Doctor Who spinoff series ‘Torchwood’, where he portrayed a civil servant. Outside of Who, he is well known for his roles in popular series such as ‘Skins’ and ‘The Thick of it’.

Expectations are high for the new series, which began filming this week and will be broadcast later this year. Upon arriving on set, Capaldi said “New job, first day, slightly nervous. Just like the Doctor, I’m emerging from the TARDIS into a whole other world”.

Showrunner Steven Moffat was obviously excited, saying, “The Capaldi era begins!” In an earlier interview, the series boss said of his newest star, “Of course, he’s brilliant. And just seeing the energy and vitality that he brings to his performance, he works – he’s like Matt – he works, he’s a worker. And he’s an extraordinary vital performer. The man is not at all elderly in style, he leaps around the place probably more than any other Doctor in that first scene.”

Elsewhere, in an interview with ‘Doctor Who Magazine’, previous Executive Producer and Head Writer Russell T. Davies said that the casting of Capaldi as The Twelfth Doctor was “perfect”. He also said, “The moment Zoe Ball said his name was actually quite mind-blowing. I still find it difficult, even now to find adjectives big and bold enough to describe how brilliant this is!

When cast in the role of The Doctor, Capaldi was 55, making him the same age as the first actor to play the character, William Hartnell, when he was cast.

Series 8 of Doctor Who will be broadcast on BBC in the third quarter of this year.






Peter Capaldi Starts on-set of Doctor Who

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How does an aeroplane’s ‘black box’ work?

After doing a little research, I can now tell you (basically) everything you ever wanted to know about black boxes…

In the average commercial aircraft, you’ll find the presence of multiple (usually four) microphones in the cockpit at any given time. They are located in the pilot and co-pilot’s headsets, as well as in the cockpit itself. Not only do these microphones record conversations between the pilots and cabin crew, they also record any ambient noise (such as switches being thrown or sounds generated by technical issues). The microphones all connect to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), a master unit that stores the last 30 minutes of sound. The tape operates on a loop, essentially erasing itself every half hour.

This device is known colloquially, but a little misleadingly, as the ‘black box’ (it is usually quite brightly coloured in order to make it easier to find in the unlikely event of an accident). Another device also referred to as a ‘black box’, is the flight data recorder (FDR), which automatically records data regarding the plane’s flight path, speed and movements in the air. Although the devices are distinct from one another, the information they record goes to the same place and is used for the same purpose, thus their shared name of ‘black box’.

In recent years, manufacturers have moved away from magnetic tape-based CVRs and FDRs and towards ‘solid state technology’ boxes. These improved devices store the relevant data on memory boards, which can hold up to two hours of cockpit recording and 25 hours of flight data. The solid-state devices are also sturdier than their tape-based counterparts.

Crash survivable memory units (CMSUs), are large cylinders that back up all the relevant data and are designed to withstand extreme heat, pressure and violent impact. They are typically contained within the box itself. In the more severe accidents, the CMSU is all that survives of the black box.

The black box, then, simply records all the relevant data before an accident occurs. This serves to provide engineers with an explanation for a crash, as well as providing investigators and regulators with the same information.

So there you have it, of course, a lot of information is stored in an aircraft’s black box (much more than I’ve detailed here), but as a general example, that’s what it is and how it works. Hope that helps. 

How does an aeroplane’s ‘black box’ work?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Monty Python Will Reunite For One Night Only

…And now for something completely different.

Members of the British comedy group ‘Monty Python’ will reunite for a one-off live show next July. According to a press conference given by the comedy legends, the group wants to see if they are “still funny”.

Original members Michael Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones will perform together for the first time in over 30 years.

According to the group, the show’s content will include “some of Monty Python’s greatest hits, with modern, topical, Pythonesque twists”. However, John Cleese has promised that there will also be some new material.

‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, a surreal, DaDa inspired comedy sketch show, first hit British screens in 1969 and remained extremely popular with audiences until it ended in 1974. The show acted as the voice of a new generation, with a fresh approach to comedy and an irreverent, sometimes controversial, edge. Many of the group’s most famous sketches have become treasured parts of British popular culture.

The group released their first feature film ‘And Now For Something Completely Different’ in 1971, but it wasn’t until 1974’s ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ that they filmed an entire movie of new material. The film is an enduring comedy classic, as is its sequel, the controversial ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ (1979). The group’s third feature film ‘Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life’ (1983) was a jet black comedy that was closer in style to the sketch show format of the series, but did not fare as well critically or commercially, despite garnering strong fan support.

In 1989, founding member Graham Chapman sadly passed away from cancer, which put any future reunions in jeopardy.

Following Chapman’s untimely passing, Eric Idle famously stated, “We would only do a reunion if Chapman came back from the dead. So we’re negotiating with his agent.”

Since then, the Pythons have occasionally reformed, with the shows usually featuring an urn containing the ‘ashes’ of Chapman (in reality, his ashes were scattered on Mount Snowdon, Wales by his partner David Sherlock). The urn was, in one instance ‘accidentally’ knocked over on stage before being vacuumed up with a Dust Buster. 

The new show is going to feature classic sketches that have never been performed live. Idle, who is also the show’s director, has said that it is going to resemble “a huge musical” in style, whilst John Cleese warned, “The main danger we have is that the audience know the scripts better than we do.”

During the aforementioned press conference, Michael Palin stated that the group “still enjoy getting together to be very silly”.

“After you turn 70, you can be absolutely shameless,” joked Terry Gilliam.

Prior to this news, the troupe’s most recent live performance took place at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in September 1980, but it has been 40 years since the Pythons last performed on stage in the UK.

 The most expensive tickets have been announced at £95, but the cheapest seats will costs just £26.50, with Idle quipping that it was “only £300 cheaper than The Stones”

“I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!” said Terry Jones.

The show will also be made available on DVD & Blu Ray later in the year.



Monty Python Will Reunite For One Night Only

Robot Rugby League,

 This is a games of Robot Rugby League, the english commentator has a slightly different take on the rules and game of american football. I laughed!!!!

Robot Rugby League,

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Who He is & How He Came to be A Review of Batman: Year One

“Gotham City. Maybe it’s all I deserve, now. Maybe it’s just my time in Hell…”

As an opening line, it’s right up there with the one about the dead dog in the alleyway that greets you as you first read ‘Watchmen’. Right away, you can tell that this book is something special. It just grabs you and steadfastly refuses to let go.

Ignoring the controversy caused by this particular reprinting (that’s a blog for another time), what we have here is an enduring graphic classic. It is a gritty piece of exquisitely rendered pulp-noir that has been in high demand since its first printing (in four single issues) back in 1987.

I’ll delve into the backstory, even though you probably know it all by now. In 1986, DC comics decided to revamp their entire line of characters and comic books. Following a monster comics event known as ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ the readers and creators found themselves with a veritable tabula rasa upon which to create new stories and furnish them with the rich tapestry of established DC comics concepts, characters and ideas. To this end, The Batman was given an expanded origin story that reflected the sombre, acidic, sometimes brutal nature of his more recent adventures.

Writer Frank Miller volunteered for this daunting task and hand picked rising young star David Mazzucchelli to tackle the art duties. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’m not even going to bother to find faults or flaws with this masterful piece of pulp storytelling. I’m sure they are there, if you care to look for them, but I’m afraid that, when it comes to this volume, I’m like the old man who still swears that his aged wife is as beautiful and radiant as the day he married her. I don’t see flaws, only beauty.

Told largely from the point of view of young Lieutenant Jim Gordon (recently transferred to the Gotham Police Department from Chicago), ‘Batman: Year One’ follows both the Dark Knight and his greatest ally through their most formative 12 months. There are no supervillains; there is no Bat-signal, no Batmobile and no Robin. There are just two men who have embarked on individual missions to make this world a better place and happen to cross paths somewhere along the way.

Everything in this book is stripped back, stark and uncompromising. A freezing cold colour palette (although that depends on which version you read) amplifies the emotional alienation of both men, as Gordon becomes slowly separated from his Wife and Bruce Wayne becomes (arguably) annexed from his sanity.

The violence is savage, claustrophobic and hard hitting. A nihilistic riposte to the day-glo captions of the Adam West and Burt Ward TV show of the 60’s, its cartoon ‘BIFFS’ and ‘POWS’ rendered here as achingly wince inducing as possible.

Here, Batman is forced to rely on training and ingenuity, he makes mistakes, but he’s still Batman and that’s what counts.

Both men are stretched to breaking point throughout the course of this book, but, crucially, both men find ways to rise above it with single-minded, (some might say obsessive) determination and a staunch clarity of vision only possible in great works of fiction.

Mention this book to any seasoned comic reader, no matter how cynical and web-weary, and they’ll grow misty-eyed and nostalgic. It is, like a classic of cinema or an album that tethers one to a benighted, embellished youth, an experience to be savoured and enjoyed. Again and again. 

Who He is & How He Came to be A Review of Batman: Year One

Friday, January 10, 2014

Who Invented the Tablet PC?

That’s actually quite tough to pinpoint. Computer scientist Alan Kay first came up with a concept (and then a prototype) for what he called a ‘Dynabook’ in 1968. Depending on which version you look at, the Dynabook concept can be viewed as a prototype tablet PC (as well as a direct ancestor of the laptop).


In science fiction, tablet-like devices can be seen in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ as well as ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’. While in comics, Jack Kirby’s ‘Motherboxes’ (as featured in the 1970’s ‘New Gods’ series) can be considered to be ‘super-tablets’ by any other name. So the idea for the tablet was firmly entrenched in fiction and popular culture long before the iPad was even a glint in Steve Jobs’ eye. 


Jeff Hawkins developed the first modern-style tablet PC in 1989, this invention led to a prototype named Lombard (for some silly reason) that was released in 1992. However, before that, in 1987, Apple had designed hardware for a touchscreen and stylus operating system, which was a primordial version of the iOS that you would use today on the aforementioned iPad.


In 2002, Microsoft launched the ‘Tablet PC’, which was a grand idea on paper, but, for too many reasons to list here, the invention never took off. It would take ten long years (and the rapid rise of mobile phones) before Apple dusted off the idea and proudly produced their iPad, in 2010.


So, in a very real sense, no single person invented the tablet PC. It was a culmination of wild-eyed science fiction dreamers, wild-haired computer scientists and the market-driven will to profit as utilized by companies like Microsoft and Apple.


Personally, if I had to pick just one name out of the hat, it would be Alan Kay. Now, before all you tech-bods rush out to correct me, consider this: John Logie Baird invented the television, but his initial invention is barely recognizable compared with today’s net-ready, Blu-Ray playing, surround-sound enabled living room leviathans, so its just a question of who had the first idea.


I’ve seen sites that credit Jeff Hawkins, which is fair, but honestly, the idea (and an early version of the eventual tech) actually existed 30 years or so earlier, so I’m not going to personally subscribe to that one. 

Who Invented the Tablet PC?

Thursday, January 9, 2014