Friday, 15 June 2018

Is is Filmable? Red-Storm Rising

I've often asked this question "is it filmable", such as the age old argument that the Lord of the Rings was not filmable before Peter Jackson proved that theory wrong... Sort of (cough).

So what don't I think is filmable?  Well, the Tom Clancy novel "Red Storm Rising".

I really like this book, I read it every couple of years and get really engrossed in the concept of what a war in the Europe of my youth would have been actually like.

Remember, I'm a kid who played on the beaches of Skegness (in the UK) when A10 Warthogs were flying low over the coastline in dummy strafing runs, we could find spent 50'cal bullets (metal and a stone line practice bullet too) from their activities and we read up avidly about the new to service Tornado jet.

I have a vivid and expectant concept of that that war might have been, everything from blistering nuclear instant death, to a lingering radioactive malaise, to the starvation induced strangling of Britain's sea-trade by the Red menace.

We all know it never came to pass, but this novel visualizes it, you get the interspersed stories from a single tank commander, to the infantry on the ground, A10 pilots are mentioned and the desperate struggle of the high-seas as well as the personal impact on civilians on Iceland.

Could it ever be filmed?  Certainly the CG is out there to allow it, and perhaps convincingly, so technically yes this story could be told on screen.

The question therefore is should it be made?  With the current resurgence in an autocratic mind-set from Russian voters you could argue that the days gone-by of the Soviet regime are actually echo'd on the streets of Moscow today, but that feeling is tempered a much more cosmopolitan mixing of peoples and business, even organised crime.  All completely change the social-political landscape of Russia.

What was once a far-away distant disturbing land, is still very far away and still disturbing, but it's far far less distant, we can all connect to Russian news, feel the pulse of Russian politics.  We all even watched their invasion (yes I'm afraid I sit on the fence of it being an invasion) of the Crimea, literally taking it from Ukraine.

A moment of pride to some I'm sure, but a sign of things to come?  Maybe, I never felt that was a war which would go hot, I don't think anyone in the west had the stomach for a war with Russia, submarines off the coast of Sweden, incursions into Ukraine and the murder of airline passengers all passed without serious repercussions.

But you film Red Storm Rising, you put that story out there, from the perspective given in the book.  I think that would get serious repercussion and denounced in the Russian press as scare mongering, I really do.

That's why its unfilmable, because Russia.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Technology CV's and Me

I've a small gripe with technology recruiters, if any of you out there are reading this (which since I just cast my CV around, you should be).

And this is their penchant for skills lists... I have a very minimalist CV, one page of A4, it covers the primary software languages I like (C++, C, C#) makes mention of my favourite working styles (Agile/Scrum) and it has my history and pertinent academic background.

That's all... Minimal, just me, my page one shot done.

Anymore and it never, ever, gets me anywhere.  It apparently comes across as "hey look at me" attempts to garner and keep attention with the right buzz words, which I myself despise.  Or it comes over as not having a lot to talk about in the interview, as everything you want to know might very well be in this tome of a CV, and I myself reading them find that I want to ask every question I can in the interview stage, so having it all there you disengage, hurting both your interest in the candidate and their chance to explain themselves to you.

So a long CV, in someways, is counter intuitive.

But then the skills list raises it's head, no my CV does not have a specific skills list, at the top is says Software Engineer.  That tells you everything you need know.

You don't got for brain surgery and stop the surgeon to ask whether they've the right skills to use a bone saw, did they spend two years in orthopedics first, did they complete their GCSE's.  No they're a brain surgeon.

So why when I present I'm a software engineer do you get these niggly folks asking "Do you know Java?"... "Hows your skills in C#"... or "You don't have enough experience on XboxOne"....

I literally laugh, I'm a software engineer, a good one, I live for tech, I can, have and will pick up any new language, machine or skill-set desired and very quickly.  I set out in the mid 90's to train for this, I was sitting up all night long tinkering on my computers and programming long before that official water-shed moment.

Therefore I have to ask,why do you need to put down these skill sets?  Why do you need to use the right buzz words?  Well, I think there's a two fold reply to that very question, first of all you may not be speaking to the most tech savvy of individual, they might just have a check-list of the right words, or the right fit to get you over the threshold and passing that initial interview.  Phone interviews are a bit of a blessing in this way, as you get to lay down your own proof of worth quickly.

The second reply being that the folks doing the hiring don't actually know what they are hiring, either because they remain the non-tech-savvy, or more commonly (more sadly) they've never met or worked with an engineer who has a genuine passion for their topic.  Yeah sure you can program, but are you interested in it?  Quite often the answer is no.

Many programmers I meet today are below that level of going in their own time to hack around with things, they're too busy life having grown out of what they see as the adolescent pass-time of tinkering.

I however value my tinkerers, they're the soul of the literally machine, driving innovation, improvement and even just evangelizing about new-ways and approaches to enhance their colleagues.

Such individuals are rare, I consider myself to be one, and hate when I'm asked to pour my soul into soulless lines on a page, get to know me, you never know... You might learn as much from me, as I might learn from you.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

CPU Speed : That Time I got Conned

As a technologist I've always been interested in the newest kit coming out, and many moons ago this exact demand for kit made me very mad.

For you see, the previous year I'd built my first 2 ghz machine, and it was very costly.  Hyper threading was new to the market, at least in the Pentium 4 range.  And as usual I had need for more power from my machines.

So I hit the interwebs and found a machine (on ebay I think) which was 2ghz... A nice CPU was mentioned in the specification... But the memory and graphics capability were lacking...

I could make the difference up from my spares bin, so I took the dive ordering this machine as a base on which to work.

It duely arrived, I plugged it in, and was dismayed to find it clocking only around 1.1 ghz.  Baffled, I check the advert, "Dual core 2 ghz chip" was definiately there, with the sub-note "exact type may vary, select Intel or AMD preference".

Back to the machine it is dual core, but it is not 2 ghz, no where near.  So I call them up...  Not even have I explained and the phone was put down on me.

Maybe, just maybe it was a mistake, I call again... Phone rings unanswered.

Paypal dispute time as I pack this machine back up into it's box.

Except, the seller won't refund nor accept a return.  They have meticulos pictures of the machine and documents stating that it's correct and I'm trying to con them...!

The ebay resolution center rule in their favour, I'm obliged to accept the item.  I forget the details exactly, but it was a very protracted affair.  All whilst the machine say unused and I started to build an actual second 2ghz machine for myself.

After about four weeks though, I get the resolution center ruling, and accepting the fact I have this potato (it was still a good price for the potato, just not the fabulous deal I thought I had gotten)...

But one of the documents catches my eye, it said:

"2ghz speed is from our including two processors of at least 1ghz speed"

and in pencil of this digitized photo of the page they've put the processor spec and the maths... 2 x 1.1ghz = 2.2 ghz faster than they had paid for.

You know and I know that's not how processor speeds work, but ebay had accepted it, the conners at the other end of this sham had me very very annoyed by this....

However, whenever I seek people bemoaning the 5ghz tests being carried out by Intel, with external hidden sub-ambient coolers helping, I can't ever stop the phrase... "that's 2.5ghz x 2 easy"... Or thinking my current machine at home is a 48ghz speed (12 x 4ghz).