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.
00003100-912x608

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.

Count your blessings – Week 7

Monday 30
Concentration of CO2 has increased by 40% since pre- industrial times. Car emissions and gas and electricity usage all contribute to this.
Give 40p for each car journey and 20p for each journey on public transport you make.

Tuesday 31
If we don’t act fast, climate change could cause a global temperature rise of up to 4.5°C.
Count the number of radiators you have in your home. Give 30p for each one.

Wednesday 1
Today, thousands of people all over the world will go without food as part of the Fast for the Climate movement.
Join in and find out more at christianaid.org.uk/fastfortheclimate

Thursday 2
Maundy Thursday
Galgalo has to find water for his cattle, but it is getting harder because the rains are more erratic.
Give £1 if you have checked the weather forecast today.

Friday 3
Good Friday
Our partners are teaching alternative farming techniques to help farmers cope with changing climate conditions.
Praise God for innovative techniques that allow people to adapt to changing weather patterns.

Weekend 4 & 5
Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday
When Elema was growing up she remembers that the cattle were fat, the children always had milk to drink and it rained regularly so it was good for the area. But now this isn’t the case. ‘We are facing poverty, we are facing hunger because of the ever-changing climate in this area,’ she says.
Pray that more people understand the effects of climate change and demand a stop to it.

Count your blessings – Week 6

Monday 23
Emergencies often leave women alone and vulnerable, having lost men who were either at work or stayed behind to protect their property.
Pray for those trying to rebuild their lives.

Tuesday 24
Long periods of drought plague Zimbabwe. We’re helping communities to build dams to survive.
Give 30p for each way you use water today.

Wednesday 25
In the Philippines, natural disasters happen regularly. Communities are learning to recognise the warning signs so they have time to evacuate.
Give 60p for every smoke alarm you have.

Thursday 26
Emergencies destroy a community’s way of earning a living. We help people to develop sustainable ways to earn money.
Give 40p for each job you’ve had.

Friday 27
Climate change hits the poorest people hardest, yet they did the least to cause it. For the love of your global neighbours, join the movement for climate action.
Act now: christianaid. org.uk/climate-summer

Weekend 28 & 29
In Ethiopia, HUNDEE gives goats and cows to poor women so they can have milk for
their children and a way of earning money. Galgalo says this is how the community used to help each other, but poverty forced them to stop. Our partners work hard to get to know communities and meet their needs. This also helps them to know their way around and reach communities quickly in emergency situations.
Give £1 if you know the route to hospital. Would you know an alternative way if that route was blocked?

Count your blessings – Week 5

Monday 16
Often we take our own voice for granted. Make sure yours gets heard by joining our network of local lobbyists who regularly contact their MPs to demand a fairer world for all.
Visit christianaid.org. uk/locallobbyist

Wednesday 18
Saudi Arabia and Vatican City are the only two states in the world where women are denied the right to vote.
Thank God for all those who have fought for years in order to achieve universal suffrage.

Tuesday 17
Since women have been given a voice at community meetings, Elema has noticed changes that are improving the lives of women.
Give 30p for each group you are part of where your opinion counts.

Thursday 19
We have so many ways to share our thoughts with the world, but for many this freedom of speech is denied.
Give 50p for each method of sharing your opinion you use today.

Friday 20
In 36 countries, women now hold more than 30% of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber.
Give 50p for each female head of state you can name.

Weekend 21 & 22
It is custom in many societies for a woman not to speak in public meetings, but to tell a man what she wants to say and they may say it for her. HUNDEE has worked with Galgalo and his community to change this. Now women attend and speak at these meetings too. Galgalo says: ‘It is a useful thing to do; it helped us to see that women are valuable and they bring a lot.’
Thank God for all the women’s opinions that you are able to hear.