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The Hurt Locker

I recently watched The Hurt Locker, a story about an elite bomb squad in the middle of a war in the middle east. Danger is everywhere, and a bomb can be hidden where you least expect it.

This is a decent movie, but did not quite meet the high expectations of an Oscar winner. It was slow and too emotionally disconnected at times, even though there were a couple of amazing scenes as well. After reading some reviews online, many people claim that there were an enormous amount of inaccuracies in the display of the US soldiers.

As for recommending this movie, you should absolutely see it, but make sure not to have too high hopes for it, even though it is an Oscar winner. If you can see past the errors in military protocol, it has a decent entertainment value.

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District 9

I recently saw District 9, a movie about aliens coming to earth. They were at first warmly welcomed, but after years went by, the colony became more controlled, segregated and militarized. This led to it becoming a worn down ghetto known as District 9.

The main character, Wikus van der Merwe, is in charge of relocating all aliens to the new place for aliens called District 10. Things do not go as planned, and Wikus is soon faced with having to make terrible decisions and having to run away from what he loves most.

This is quite an interesting portrayal of humanity and what happens when faced with something different, something not “normal”.  The aliens were at first welcomed, but as they realized that they look weird, relations with the foreign people diminished rapidly. This is even more belivable given the terrific CGI and believable characters, with deep and emotionally rich characters.

It is also unusual to see this movie being set in South Africa, instead of usual cities like New York, Washington, London or some other major city (think Independence Day). It is not even set in the finer parts of Johannesburg, but the most run-down slum parts of the city.

This is one of the most unexpected and utterly successful sci-fi movies for a long time. This is definitely a movie to be watched in a theater if you have the chance!

Lightroom 3 beta 2 Now Available

Lightroom 3 beta 2 Now Available.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s new in this release:

  • Improved performance throughout the application for faster importing and loading of images
  • Native tethered shooting support for select Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras
  • Luminance noise reduction has been added to the previous color noise reduction improvements available in the first public beta for outstanding overall high ISO quality
  • Support for importing and managing video files from DSLR cameras for better overall photographic workflow control
  • Improvements to the import experience in the first beta to reflect public feedback
  • Improved watermarking functionality from the first beta to reflect public feedback

Looking forward trying it out tonight! Maybe this is the release to switch me over from Aperture.

Automatically login to Spotify in XBMC

I recently wrote about the Spotify integration in XBMC. The problem with the current state of the plugin, is that it does not automatically remember account information. This means that you have to enter it each time you start xbmc, which is quite frustrating.

To remedy this, open up your advancedsettings.xml in your userdata directory. If the file doesn’t exist, just create it — it’s not there by default. Then paste the following information into the file. Note that if you have other settings there as well, just accommodate the xml to fit.

<advancedsettings>
<spotify>
<enable>true</enable>
<username>username</username>
<password>password</password>
<cachefolder>a temporary directory</cachefolder>
<maxsearchartists>30</maxsearchartists>
<maxsearchalbums>30</maxsearchalbums>
<maxsearchtracks>150</maxsearchtracks>
</spotify>
</advancedsettings>

Just remember to set the username, password and a directory for the music cache and you are good to go!

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Pandorum

I recently saw Pandorum, a movie about a few people who wake up on a space ship, with no knowledge about how they got there and what they are doing, not even who they are.

While trying to get the ship working, they make a horrific discovery. They soon realize that they are not alone, and that dangers are lurking in the inner parts of the ship.

First off, there are quite a few similarities with other movies of this genre, in particular Alien and The Descent but there was for a short while, there were even some hints from Cube. The movie is all about closed and claustrophobic tunnels and spaces with dangers lurking around every corner.

The story line is in its essence quite basic, but the fast action and plot twists makes it so much more. What could just as well have been a vanilla semi-horror movie set in space, becomes something completely different. It holds its own all the way though to the end.

The scenes and special effects are great, and the environment is not as dark as one might think. It is not like Doom, where it is just pitch black throughout the movie. There are some jump-up-from-your-seat moments though, make no mistake. The dynamics of the movie ranging from cut-throat action (literally) to humor and even love makes it interesting up until the end — for an exception in the middle part where the movie lost its momentum slightly.

The movie ends with some interesting plot twists which makes one think. It is not the classic über-alien in the end, but instead something very different.

XBMC and Spotify

XBMC is a superb media center application for your Home Theatre PC, and thanks to OpenSpotify it is now possible to do all sorts of integration — for instance integrating Spotify in XBMC!

The project is called spotyxbmc so just download it and try it out. It is built from the latest XBMC release so you should be good, just copying over your user profile.

Cool features include the ability to import Spotify albums into your own music library, which blurs the lines between local and remote music in a beautiful way. It is also possible to browse your playlists and the various top lists. Just one thing, it requires a Premium Spotify account.

Remember that this is alpha, so it does crash occasionally. Fortunately, just restart xbmc and you are good to go.