Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 and 2 (Possible spoilers)

During a recent girls’ night out with some friends, the topic of discussion turned to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series.  Not having watched it when it was first broadcast, I decided it might be worth a look.

I downloaded the initial mini series from iTunes and was immediately hooked.  I watched the entire miniseries over two evenings and straight away begged my friend to lend me the rest.  As of now, I have watched seasons one and two and am about to start on season three.  I read an article today in The Telegraph how watching television for long periods of time shortens your life expectancy.  In all honesty I can say I’d be happy to give up a year or two of my life to watch such quality programming as Battlestar Galactica, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Lost. 

Anyway, I digress.  Battlestar Galactica.  Well-written, well-acted and well produced, it makes for compelling viewing.  I’ve already lost sleep by staying up too late to watch it.

What I liked:

Thought-provoking premise: BSG is a sci-fi show.  The show’s premise is that humanity is struggling to survive after a devastating attack by man made machines gone bad.  However, the writers use this premise to explore some pretty basic human themes such as guilt, forbidden love, the appeal of power, trust, betrayal and spirituality.

The series poses some very interesting moral questions – for example, to what extent can human rights and freedoms be preserved while the survival of the species is at risk?  What makes us human?

Well-written and acted characters: Each of the characters is portrayed as being three-dimensional with his or her own flaws or strengths.  The exception to this for the Cylons (robots) who have not spent time living amongst humanity.  In general, they all act consistently, based on their own experiences and wishes.

Gripping storylines: As I have mentioned, I have already lost sleep staying up to watch this series.  This show is definitely a case where I had to watch "just one more episode."  As it stands at the moment (end of season two) the showrunners have brought in a major gamechanger – the Cylons have located the survivors’ fledgling colony and attacked.  I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

WhatI didn’t like:

Occasional deus ex machinae: There were a few storylines introduced that I felt came from nowhere.  An example of this would be the introduction of the Pegasus. I don’t remember it’s being indicated that there may be other survivors.  I could also mention the President’s terminal cancer’s being miraculously cured by Boomer’s unborn baby’s blood.  OK…  whatever

Lee is the Rory of Battlestar Galactica: In almost every episode it seems that Lee, like the character Rory in Doctor Who, is fake killed.  It no longer creates any dramatic tension after the first few times.

Relationship between President Roslin and Admiral Adama: Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the relationship between them, and I suspect it will make an interesting dynamic going forward.  My gripe is that it seemed to come from nowhere.  Maybe I’m mistaken, but it seemed to me that one episode they had their hackles raised in a political turf war, the next they were holding hands.

In conclusion, this is first-class television and I suggest you take a look see if you haven’t already.

Currently reading: Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott, The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Currently watching: Battlestar Galactica: Season 3

 

Pottermore – Slightly Bemused

So, this entry continues on my recent theme of Pottermore, JK Rowling’s latest website offering.

Having worked many years on web projects myself, I’m rather bemused at how this project has been handled.  Honestly, when the early entry beta was announced did the Pottermore team not realise that several hundred million Harry Potter fans would be screaming at the gates, clamouring for IMMEDIATE access?  That means access now; not in October, not next week, now.

Sometimes it seems as if the Pottermore team hasn’t quite realised that these beta testers are fans, not professional IT people.  Fans don’t care about balancing server loads, ensuring a good cross section of users across all languages or across regions.  They just want to access the new content from the brilliant mind of JK Rowling, to be chosen by a wand and to be Sorted into their Hogwarts House.

The very low numbers (approximately 10,000 of the one million beta users) who have actually got to access the site since the beta started on the 31st of July appears to have left many people at worst angry and frustrated, at best apathetic about the new site.  In a fan’s perfect world, access would have been granted as soon as the Seven Books, Seven Days, Seven Chances challenge was over.  Several days passed with no access granted and no news from the Pottermore team.  Fans were eagerly refreshing their email inboxes to check for the arrival of the all-important email advising that their account had been activated for access.  No emails were received, and no news from the Pottermore team was forthcoming.

Worse – the login link from the homepage disappeared.  With rising frustration amongst fans, the Pottermore team was forced to send a holding email confirming early access and advising users that their accounts would be activated at some point between the middle of August and the end of September.  The end of September… the Pottermore site is opening to the general public in October… 

So yesterday, the first few users were let in.  The Pottermore team didn’t make it clear what criteria they used to select these fortunate few.  There seemed to be a mixture across all days of the challenge, so users who got in on day one answering the most difficult question ("how many owls in the Eylopes shop banner?  Multiply by 49") were rightfully livid to realise they were still waiting while people who got in on day 7 with the easiest question "("How many Deathly Hallows are there?  Multiply by 7") were already in and enjoying the content.

In all fairness, it’s difficult to see how the project could have been managed differently.  It’s a unique project in terms of web development, with a very passionate and unique user base.  It’s unlikely fans would have been happy with anything less than immediate access no matter how much the Pottermore team tried to manage their expections.

As for me, I’m just hoping I can get in more than 24 hours before 400 million fans descend on the site in October.

Pottermore – Slightly Bemused

So, this entry continues on my recent theme of Pottermore, JK Rowling’s latest website offering.

Having worked many years on web projects myself, I’m rather bemused at how this project has been handled.  Honestly, when the early entry beta was announced did the Pottermore team not realise that several hundred million Harry Potter fans would be screaming at the gates, clamouring for IMMEDIATE access?  That means access now; not in October, not next week, now.

Sometimes it seems as if the Pottermore team hasn’t quite realised that these beta testers are fans, not professional IT people.  Fans don’t care about balancing server loads, ensuring a good cross section of users across all languages or across regions.  They just want to access the new content from the brilliant mind of JK Rowling, to be chosen by a wand and to be Sorted into their Hogwarts House.

The very low numbers (approximately 10,000 of the one million beta users) who have actually got to access the site since the beta started on the 31st of July appears to have left many people at worst angry and frustrated, at best apathetic about the new site.  In a fan’s perfect world, access would have been granted as soon as the Seven Books, Seven Days, Seven Chances challenge was over.  Several days passed with no access granted and no news from the Pottermore team.  Fans were eagerly refreshing their email inboxes to check for the arrival of the all-important email advising that their account had been activated for access.  No emails were received, and no news from the Pottermore team was forthcoming.

Worse – the login link from the homepage disappeared.  With rising frustration amongst fans, the Pottermore team was forced to send a holding email confirming early access and advising users that their accounts would be activated at some point between the middle of August and the end of September.  The end of September… the Pottermore site is opening to the general public in October… 

So yesterday, the first few users were let in.  The Pottermore team didn’t make it clear what criteria they used to select these fortunate few.  There seemed to be a mixture across all days of the challenge, so users who got in on day one answering the most difficult question ("how many owls in the Eylopes shop banner?  Multiply by 49") were rightfully livid to realise they were still waiting while people who got in on day 7 with the easiest question "("How many Deathly Hallows are there?  Multiply by 7") were already in and enjoying the content.

In all fairness, it’s difficult to see how the project could have been managed differently.  It’s a unique project in terms of web development, with a very passionate and unique user base.  It’s unlikely fans would have been happy with anything less than immediate access no matter how much the Pottermore team tried to manage their expections.

As for me, I’m just hoping I can get in more than 24 hours before 400 million fans descend on the site in October.

Kindle in the Cloud

So, today Amazon announced the Kindle web based cloud reader.  Currently, it’s available for the Safari and Chrome browsers and the iPad.  It is interesting to note that this is not yet available for the Microsoft browser Internet Explorer.  This allows users to read and download their Kindle content directly from Amazon’s website without going through an app. 

Clearly, this is a hitback at Apple who last month forced Amazon to remove the link to the Kindle store from within the Kindle apps available on iOS and Mac.  By developing their own web based app and bypassing the Apple Store apps, Amazon is effectively giving Apple notice that they will not be bullied. 

Personally, I say you go, Amazon!  Now, I am a huge fan of both Apple and Amazon, but I really did not appreciate Apple’s tactics here, especially coming as it did after the e-book price fixing debacle several months ago.  Apple and Amazon both have an intensely loyal customer base, and with good reason. I am very happy to see Amazon defending its territory in this manner.

I am, and will remain, a loyal Amazon Kindle customer and look forward to see what innovations they come up with.  Now, if they will only let us manage our book Collections via this new Kindle in the Cloud I will be a happy bunny.

Kindle in the Cloud

So, today Amazon announced the Kindle web based cloud reader.  Currently, it’s available for the Safari and Chrome browsers and the iPad.  It is interesting to note that this is not yet available for the Microsoft browser Internet Explorer.  This allows users to read and download their Kindle content directly from Amazon’s website without going through an app.

Clearly, this is a hitback at Apple who last month forced Amazon to remove the link to the Kindle store from within the Kindle apps available on iOS and Mac.  By developing their own web based app and bypassing the Apple Store apps, Amazon is effectively giving Apple notice that they will not be bullied.

Personally, I say you go, Amazon!  Now, I am a huge fan of both Apple and Amazon, but I really did not appreciate Apple’s tactics here, especially coming as it did after the e-book price fixing debacle several months ago.  Apple and Amazon both have an intensely loyal customer base, and with good reason. I am very happy to see Amazon defending its territory in this manner.

I am, and will remain, a loyal Amazon Kindle customer and look forward to see what innovations they come up with.  Now, if they will only let us manage our book Collections via this new Kindle in the Cloud I will be a happy bunny.

Open Letter to the Pottermore team

Dear Pottermore team

First of all thank you for coming up with this innovative experience.  Harry Potter fans around the world had fun with the Seven Days, Seven, Books, Seven Chances to win early access.

However…  Please remember that these are FANS who have won a COMPETITION for early access, not professional beta testers.  While it is clear in the Help information that not everyone will be granted access to the site at the same time, I believe you really need to manage fans’ expectations.  While most of us can understand that not everyone can get in at the same time, telling us we "may have to wait a few weeks for our welcome email" is not very helpful.  It’s only "a few weeks" until the site officially opens to everyone. 

Rumours are floating on the internet ranging from "the emails are being sent now" to "you may not get your access until the day before everyone else."  Please clarify.  While anticipation can heighten excitement, nobody, not even the most passionate Harry fan, can maintain enthusiasm for an unspecific period of time.  All that will happen is that their interest in and excitement about the site will die off.  Please provide an update on how and when you plan to let people in.  

Thank you.

Evelynne

Open Letter to the Pottermore team

Dear Pottermore team

First of all thank you for coming up with this innovative experience.  Harry Potter fans around the world had fun with the Seven Days, Seven, Books, Seven Chances to win early access.

However…  Please remember that these are FANS who have won a COMPETITION for early access, not professional beta testers.  While it is clear in the Help information that not everyone will be granted access to the site at the same time, I believe you really need to manage fans’ expectations.  While most of us can understand that not everyone can get in at the same time, telling us we "may have to wait a few weeks for our welcome email" is not very helpful.  It’s only "a few weeks" until the site officially opens to everyone. 

Rumours are floating on the internet ranging from "the emails are being sent now" to "you may not get your access until the day before everyone else."  Please clarify.  While anticipation can heighten excitement, nobody, not even the most passionate Harry fan, can maintain enthusiasm for an unspecific period of time.  All that will happen is that their interest in and excitement about the site will die off.  Please provide an update on how and when you plan to let people in.  

Thank you.

Evelynne

Pottermore

I decided it was time I started blogging about my passion for fantasy literature and shared my views on some of the books I’ve been reading, movies I’ve seen and TV shows I’ve watched.

Along with many Harry Potter fans, I’d been intrigued by J.K. Rowling’s announcement of the Pottermore website.  Promoted as an "online Harry Potter experience," few details were released.  Clearly though, it is a vehicle for Rowling to market the Harry Potter ebooks.  JKR shrewdly retained the ebook rights for herself.  Hey, I’m a Kindle and ebook lover, so that’s all good with me.  If, in addition I get to be Sorted into a Hogwarts House (am I the only person who’d be content to be Sorted into Hufflepuff?) and choose my wand, I’m sold.  

Additionally, it appears JKR will be contributing a significant amount of new Harry Potter content via Pottermore.  She’s talked for some time about publishing a Harry Potter encyclopaedia.  It would appear that she has chosen to publish this online rather than in the traditional format.  More Potter content?  Bring it on, I say.  

Anyway…. Pottermore is due to go live in October, but "a select few" – one million Harry fans – will be granted beta access. Seven books, seven days, seven chances.  In order to win one of these coveted beta places, Potterites must answer a question on the Pottermore website, leading to another website (yes Sony and Warner Bros, we know you’re sponsoring Pottermore…) where they can then catch the Magical Quill.  This will then allow them to register for the beta site.  For those unaware, in Rowling’s world the Magical Quill records the birth of each magical child in a large book.  

The challenge all sounds fairly easy doesn’t it?  The snag?  The clue only appears for a short period each day. You snooze, you lose.  Fortunately on Wednesday I was able to be on the site at the time the clue was posted – honestly, boss, I was working, really, truly – and i am now registered as a beta user of the Pottermore site.  Look me up under ShadowGold157 if you ever get access.  To be honest, I have the impression that anyone who REALLY wanted to be in the beta program would have succeeded, especially if they followed the Pottermore Insider and/or watched Twitter for the #Pottermore hashtag.  (OK, yes, I freely admit it; I’m a geek.)

As I write this, the last clue is on the Pottermore website and those registered for the beta program can expect an owl (OK, email) to be heading their way in the coming weeks informing them their access to Pottermore is now granted.  Pottermore has made it clear that not everyone will be granted access straightaway and if you wished to view Pottermore in a language other than English your beta registration does not guarantee you access before October.  My own theory is, that there are seven days in the Magical Quill challenge, and approximately seven weeks between now and general release of Pottermore.  I suspect it will be a case of those who found the quill on day one will have access in the next few days, those from day two in a week or so.  Based on that, I am not anticipating that I will gain access before early September. 

One burning question occurs to me as I await my access.  Can Pottermore, even backed as it is by JKR’s billions, handle ebook sales as efficiently as Amazon?  Pottermore is the only place to buy official Harry Potter ebooks.  One of the reasons I chose a Kindle over say a Kobo was the confidence I have in the Amazon brand.  I know that should my ebook file become corrupt I can easily redownload it from Amazon.  Likewise if I have any problems I know I can call Kindle Customer Service and the issue will be resolved in a timely, professional, no-fuss manner.  I am slightly anxious about trusting my custom to Pottermore.  Only time will tell.  

For those of you who have also got beta access, I look forward to seeing you on Pottermore, and I will certainly be blogging my experiences.

Currently reading: Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
Currently watching: Battlestar Galactica: Season 1

Pottermore

I decided it was time I started blogging about my passion for fantasy literature and shared my views on some of the books I’ve been reading, movies I’ve seen and TV shows I’ve watched.

Along with many Harry Potter fans, I’d been intrigued by J.K. Rowling’s announcement of the Pottermore website.  Promoted as an "online Harry Potter experience," few details were released.  Clearly though, it is a vehicle for Rowling to market the Harry Potter ebooks.  JKR shrewdly retained the ebook rights for herself.  Hey, I’m a Kindle and ebook lover, so that’s all good with me.  If, in addition I get to be Sorted into a Hogwarts House (am I the only person who’d be content to be Sorted into Hufflepuff?) and choose my wand, I’m sold.  

Additionally, it appears JKR will be contributing a significant amount of new Harry Potter content via Pottermore.  She’s talked for some time about publishing a Harry Potter encyclopaedia.  It would appear that she has chosen to publish this online rather than in the traditional format.  More Potter content?  Bring it on, I say.  

Anyway…. Pottermore is due to go live in October, but "a select few" – one million Harry fans – will be granted beta access. Seven books, seven days, seven chances.  In order to win one of these coveted beta places, Potterites must answer a question on the Pottermore website, leading to another website (yes Sony and Warner Bros, we know you’re sponsoring Pottermore…) where they can then catch the Magical Quill.  This will then allow them to register for the beta site.  For those unaware, in Rowling’s world the Magical Quill records the birth of each magical child in a large book.  

The challenge all sounds fairly easy doesn’t it?  The snag?  The clue only appears for a short period each day. You snooze, you lose.  Fortunately on Wednesday I was able to be on the site at the time the clue was posted – honestly, boss, I was working, really, truly – and i am now registered as a beta user of the Pottermore site.  Look me up under ShadowGold157 if you ever get access.  To be honest, I have the impression that anyone who REALLY wanted to be in the beta program would have succeeded, especially if they followed the Pottermore Insider and/or watched Twitter for the #Pottermore hashtag.  (OK, yes, I freely admit it; I’m a geek.)

As I write this, the last clue is on the Pottermore website and those registered for the beta program can expect an owl (OK, email) to be heading their way in the coming weeks informing them their access to Pottermore is now granted.  Pottermore has made it clear that not everyone will be granted access straightaway and if you wished to view Pottermore in a language other than English your beta registration does not guarantee you access before October.  My own theory is, that there are seven days in the Magical Quill challenge, and approximately seven weeks between now and general release of Pottermore.  I suspect it will be a case of those who found the quill on day one will have access in the next few days, those from day two in a week or so.  Based on that, I am not anticipating that I will gain access before early September. 

One burning question occurs to me as I await my access.  Can Pottermore, even backed as it is by JKR’s billions, handle ebook sales as efficiently as Amazon?  Pottermore is the only place to buy official Harry Potter ebooks.  One of the reasons I chose a Kindle over say a Kobo was the confidence I have in the Amazon brand.  I know that should my ebook file become corrupt I can easily redownload it from Amazon.  Likewise if I have any problems I know I can call Kindle Customer Service and the issue will be resolved in a timely, professional, no-fuss manner.  I am slightly anxious about trusting my custom to Pottermore.  Only time will tell.  

For those of you who have also got beta access, I look forward to seeing you on Pottermore, and I will certainly be blogging my experiences.

Currently reading: Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
Currently watching: Battlestar Galactica: Season 1

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