Film of the Year 2017

A good year for films, somehow I saw more films that usual whilst Beth saw fewer. So to the lists…

Beth’s List
Beth completed a full list, however, I (Jonathan) took so long compiling this list that we lost it… So here is her number 1:

1. Beauty and the Beast
I have a certain fondness for the original, so I really really liked this one. It was also special to me as one of the first night’s out with friends after having Joshua. It also became Joshua’s first trip to the cinema.

 

Jonathan’s list

10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
9. The Big Sick
8. It
7. Hidden Figures
6. A Monster Calls
5. Get Out
4. Thor: Ragnorak
3. Dunkirk
2. Logan

1. Baby Driver

A perfect musical, where the choreography happens to involve car chases and bank robberies. The story is strong, and builds tension well. Obviously Spacey’s name is now mud, however, as usual he puts in a great turn as the kingpin. Ansel Elgort does a great job in the lead role as Baby.

Previous winners:

Beth

2016 – Hunt for the Wilderpeople
2015 – Trash
2014 – Interstellar
2013 – The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
2012 – Trade of Innocents
2011 – King’s Speech
2010 – Toy Story 3
2009 – Beth was indecisive and picked 5 films
2008 – Juno

Jonathan

2016 – Hunt for the Wilderpeople
2015 – Inside Out
2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy
2013 – Gravity
2012 – Django Unchained
2011 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
2010 – Inception
2009 – The Wrestler
2008 – The Dark Knight
2007 – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Image of Baby Driver courtesy of Sony Pictures.

Windows 10 mouse stutter

Since I upgraded to Windows 10 in October 2017, I have noticed that my mouse pointer stutters when opening a new program or playing games. This has made mouse heavy games almost unplayable as the mouse stutters its way around the screen.

I sought advice on Reddit and StackOverflow, however, the advice found there did not resolve the issue. I have now found a solution that works for me:

  1. Open the Start Menu
  2. Type “mouse”
  3. Select “Change your mouse settings”
  4. Go to Pointer Options
  5. Uncheck “Enhance pointer precision”
  6. Click apply

Since making the change, no stutter.

Film of the year 2016

A good year for films, somehow I saw more films that usual whilst Beth saw fewer. So to the lists…

Beth’s List
Due to the arrival of a tiny human, I only saw 12 and half films this year, plus one more without sound. There were at least 15 more films I would have liked to see (indeed, one night I set out for the cinema and sat down in the theatre but was called home to the tiny human as the trailers began), so I’m certain that some of the unseen films would quickly have bumped off several of my lower-ranked films.

10. Hail Caesar: a few funny bits, but this definitey would not be on my top ten list if I had seen even one more film this year… Moana, Bridget Jones, Rogue One Star Trek, or any number of other ones would easily beat this!

9. Zootropolis: fun and cute, with clever sequences such as the DMV being manned by sloths.

8. Spotlight: I initially didn’t want to see this as I thought it would make me feel sad, but actually it was suspenseful and had a happy endning in that justice was served and the truth exposed.

7. Our Kind of Traitor: kept me tense, interested and in suspense the whole way through (though I preferred The Night Manager).

6. Money Monster: good performances from George Clooney and Julia Roberts in a suspenseful, thought-provoking story.

5. The BFG: a gorgeous adaptation of a fun and funny book (Queen Elizabeth enjoying “whizpoppers”…)

4. The Jungle Book: Nostalgia for the Disney original edged this into 4th place. Amazing CGI and creative echoes of the book and previous film.

3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: an exciting and fun expansion to the Harry Potter Universe.

2. Finding Dory: a five-year old pointed out to me that this story has no bad guy. It’s a journey story about a collection of disabled characters working together and encouraging each other on.

1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople: a whimsical and suspenseful story of a unique family. It frequently made me laugh with surprise.

 

Jonathan’s list
10. The Jungle Book
9. Spotlight
8. The Nice Guys
7. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
6. Big Short
5. Finding Dory
4. Doctor Strange
3. Room
2. Star Wars: Rogue One
A strong addition to the Star Wars saga, I wasn’t expecting much, however, this blew me away with a well told (if occasionally too self-referential) story. I preferred it to Force Awakens.

1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
This film was wonderful, very funny and brilliant characters, set in a country that I love.

So 2016 saw our first unanimous vote for favourite film in the eight years that we have compiled this list. Hunt for the Wilderpeople really was fantastic and worked for both of our senses of humour. Ricky Baker is Gangsta.

Previous winners:

Beth

2015 – Trash
2014 – Interstellar
2013 – The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
2012 – Trade of Innocents
2011 – King’s Speech
2010 – Toy Story 3
2009 – Beth was indecisive and picked 5 films
2008 – Juno

Jonathan

2015 – Inside Out
2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy
2013 – Gravity
2012 – Django Unchained
2011 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
2010 – Inception
2009 – The Wrestler
2008 – The Dark Knight
2007 – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Hunt for the Wilderpeople image from Sundance.

Remove CMS Reports from Silverstripe

I use Silverstripe a lot for quickly creating client friendly projects. Silverstripe has a Reports module that allows you to easily compile and display data to admin/CMS users.

The CMS module that controls pages created on the site provides a number of reports for things like broken links. I did not need these reports on a recent project so looked for ways to remove them.

I found a static method in SS_Reports.php that allows just this functionality:

SS_Report::add_excluded_reports(array());

add_excluded_reports supports either an array of report classnames or a single string entry as input.

To remove all of the CMS reports you can add this to your _config.php file:

SS_Report::add_excluded_reports([
'BrokenFilesReport',
'BrokenLinksReport',
'BrokenRedirectorPagesReport',
'BrokenVirtualPagesReport',
'RecentlyEditedReport',
'EmptyPagesReport'
]);

5 minute builds: most in demand programming languages

This morning, I wondered what the most in demand programming languages were. I decided that Stack Overflow jobs would be a professional website that would likely give a representative answer for jobs that someone might actually want and that actually exist (as opposed to recruiters making them up).

This is useful information for when it comes to upgrading our skills and seeing what approaches other people are taking for solving programming problems.

I therefore created in 5 minutes a script to allow me to grab the RSS feed for Stack Overflow jobs within 50 miles of Horsham. When you perform a search on SO, it gives you the option at the bottom to get an rss of the results.

My search:
http://stackoverflow.com/jobs?location=horsham&range=50&distanceUnits=Miles

The results:
http://stackoverflow.com/jobs/feed?location=horsham&range=50&distanceUnits=Miles

Using CURL I grabbed the RSS feed, I then just had to loop through the individual job posts and created an array of categories and counts.

298 different categories were found on 287 jobs, here are the top 20 categories:

  1. javascript: 82
  2. java: 55
  3. c#: 47
  4. python: 40
  5. html: 32
  6. css: 32
  7. angularjs: 29
  8. sql: 26
  9. c++: 26
  10. linux: 25
  11. agile: 25
  12. php: 24
  13. node.js: 23
  14. .net: 23
  15. tdd: 23
  16. ruby: 22
  17. amazon-web-services: 18
  18. html5: 17
  19. ios: 16
  20. sysadmin: 15

Annoyingly, it took 5x longer to post this on here than to write the code…

Film of the year 2015

Once again in 2015, Beth and I saw about 20 films each. Here are our top 10 films.

Beth’s list:

10. Spectre: a good Bond instalment with great performances and a satisfying ending.

9. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: continues the fun gadgets, camaraderie, and action of the series.

8. Man From UNCLE: a fun, action-packed, and visually captivating reimagining of the TV show (which I never saw, so I have to admit I cannot compare them).

7. Jurassic World: also brought back the best bits of the original film while giving us creative and startling new characters.

6. Into the Woods: a funny, creative twist on favourite fairytales, with technically difficult music performed well and contemporary messages.

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Captured some of my favourite bits from the original trilogy while giving us a brand new episode. Also I was tickled to recognise one of the filming locations.

4. Bridge of Spies: tense plotline, interesting characters, excellent performances, and a message about justice.

3. Inside Out: I enjoyed this more the second time around because I noticed more clever details and little jokes.

2. The Martian: a witty and exciting story that kept me guessing (and hoping) right to the end and also points out the incredible value of even just one human life.

1. Trash: a suspenseful and action-packed (yet utterly believable) mystery which has a lot to say about poverty and justice.
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Jonathan’s list:
10. Bridge of Spies
9. Spectre
8. Spooks
7. Man From U.N.C.L.E
6. Spy
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
4. Trash
3. The Martian
2. Ex Machina
1. Inside Out
2015 was largely dominated by spy movies, the second half of my top 10 attests to that. Surprisingly for me, James Bond did not top that pack. Instead of a parody of the genre was my favourite of the bunch. At the top, it was difficult to decide between The Martian, Ex Machina and Inside Out. In the end, I found that Pixar’s movie struck me and stayed with me most with its story about what is going on inside your head.

Inside_Out_(2015_film)_poster
Previous winners:

Beth

2014 – Interstellar
2013 – The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
2012 – Trade of Innocents
2011 – King’s Speech
2010 – Toy Story 3
2009 – Beth was indecisive and picked 5 films
2008 – Juno

Jonathan

2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy
2013 – Gravity
2012 – Django Unchained
2011 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
2010 – Inception
2009 – The Wrestler
2008 – The Dark Knight
2007 – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Image of Trash from Working Title, image of Inside Out from Wikipedia.

WEC: A day out at Silverstone

Recently I have seen a number of articles saying manufacturers are preferring WEC to F1. Mark Webber seems to be enjoying himself as well having left Red Bull in 2013. So I thought I would go and see what the fuss is about.

WEC is the World Endurance Championship and features seven 6 hour long races, along with the Le Mans 24 Hours Race. It features cars of radically different speeds, with LMP1 prototypes going faster than 200mph on the same track as cars like Ferrari 458s slower in top speed, cornering and accelerating. Due to the lengths of the races, teams comprise three drivers who take turns at the wheel. The goal is rarely top speed but efficiency and endurance over the race distance.

The first race of 2015 was held at Silverstone on 12 April and I went along. The first thing that struck me was the value for money that the race provides. In 2009 we paid £125 per ticket for general admission to the British Grand Prix. Now the minimum is £155 and neither of these prices will allow you into a grandstand. In addition, parking costs extra at £50 per car. For the WEC for £35 you got 6 hours of racing, free parking and a roving grandstand seat so that you could sit anywhere.

On showing up, you get the feeling that this is charging what the series’ can get away with. Silverstone was not packed for the WEC. The organisers have quoted a figure of 45,000 spectators across three days compares to 120,000 spectators on race day for Formula One. So, the cars may be immensely impressive but the series lacks the support of F1, however, the WEC has only existed in its current guise since 2012 and is growing year on year.

Any race that features pit stops can make it confusing as to what is going on, this is especially true in an endurance race, however, it also applies to F1. It is up to you to make sure you know who is winning and have some idea of the strategies at play. We did not plan for this and got confused as to what was happening until we went and sat in the main grandstand with its decent PA system and TV screen. Unlike F1, in which a race will usually be done in a quarter of the time, this is not a race that requires your full attention. People walked around, enjoyed the fantastic track and its facilities and experienced what was on offer. Everything was much more open than at an F1 race. The paddock was completely open, a couple of teams allowed you into their pit boxes while the race was on. It was quite possible with a general admission ticket to walk amongst team mechanics, drivers and celebrities something that you would not dream of at an F1 event.

To me, it does not seem correct to compare F1 and WEC. Yes, they are both racing series that race on similar circuits at similar speeds. However, F1 historically was about speed and excitement, WEC is about endurance and efficiency. F1 seems to have gotten confused recently, it is trying to do what the WEC is doing with its fuel limits and tyre management. That is to its detriment. F1 needs to go back to being about blistering speed and pushing the limit, leave the WEC to provide the endurance challenge.

To me, the technology in the WEC is more relevant, I can see why it would appeal to manufacturers more than F1. It is more open to its fans, it costs less to watch and allows far greater access. Would I go to another WEC race to watch these marvels weaving amongst the slower cars again? Absolutely. Would I go to an F1 race right now? No, it does not appeal.

Film of the year 2014

2014 was a good year for cinema, there were a lot of great big releases and Beth and I each saw around 20 films, making a top 10 more difficult.

Beth’s list:

10. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
9. Dallas Buyers Club
8. Calvary
7. Belle
6. The Imitation Game
5. The Judge
4. Godzilla
3. The Lego Movie
2. 12 Years a Slave
1. Interstellar
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Jonathan’s list:
10. Dallas Buyers Club
9. Godzilla
8. Belle
7. Edge of Tomorrow
6. Imitation of Game
5. Her
4. Interstellar
3. Gone Girl
2. 12 Years a Slave
1. Guardians of the Galaxy

Beth and I both picked Sci-Fi films this year. 2014 also marked my second such film in a row. We also picked the same film at number 2, which is as close as we have gotten to an agreement on Film of the Year so far. Interstellar was possibly the best cinematic experience that I have seen in a long time. I just had more fun with Guardians of the Galaxy. I have now seen the film five times and still find it an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. Marvel’s latest is exactly the type of film that I want to see and while I am having trouble getting excited for their super hero films at the moment, this seemed fresher, giving us a new space outlaw to (G)root for.

The notable film missing from both of our lists was Boyhood, there is a lot of oscar buzz for that film, however, we watched it and were pretty underwhelmed. The process of making the film was more interesting than the finished product. While I applaud Richard Linklater’s ability to keep the narrative going, that narrative was a little too plain for me. Guardians was practically guaranteed to be my Film of the Year as soon as the lights came up in the cinema.
GOTG-poster
Previous winners:

Beth

2013 – The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
2012 – Trade of Innocents
2011 – King’s Speech
2010 – Toy Story 3
2009 – Beth was indecisive and picked 5 films
2008 – Juno

Jonathan

2013 – Gravity
2012 – Django Unchained
2011 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
2010 – Inception
2009 – The Wrestler
2008 – The Dark Knight
2007 – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

F1 Driver Rankings 2014 edition

It looks like I missed out on doing this last year, probably because I was a little bored of the Sebastian Vettel show.

So to my list (comparisons are against my 2012 list):

1. Daniel Ricciardo +17
2. Lewis Hamilton +1
3. Fernando Alonso -3
4. Valtteri Bottas NE
5. Nico Rosberg +5
6. Sebastian Vettel -4
7. Jules Bianchi NE
8. Felipe Massa -1
9. Jenson Button -5
10. Romain Grosjean +10
11. Nico Hulkenberg -6
12. Danil Kvyat NE
13. Kevin Magnussen NE
14. Jean-Eric Vergne +9
15. Kimi Raikonnen -9
16. Sergio Perez -8
17. Kamui Kobayashi -6
18. Pastor Maldonado 3
19. Marcus Ericsson NE
20. Adrian Sutil RE
21. Esteban Guttierez NE
22. Max Chilton NE

 

While Lewis Hamilton won the championship, winning over half the races along the way, it was Daniel Ricciardo who impressed the most. The new Red Bull driver dominated his four-time world champion teammate and snatched the only three victories that did not fall Mercedes’ way. In a season where one team had a second or more advantage per lap, his achievements were clear to see. Alonso again did the best he could with a poor Ferrari while Bottas had a break out year for Williams, getting his first podium finishes along the way. Hopefully in 2015 someone will catch up to Mercedes, otherwise 2015 could easily become a repeat of 2014. Mclaren now have one of the strongest lineups on the grid, they will be under a lot of pressure to perform with Alonso and Button, if Honda deliver a strong engine things will heat up.