Monthly Archives: February 2018

Blade Runner or Lame Runner?

Of all the sci-fi movies ever made, just a few stand out as true masterpieces. One of them, IMHO, is Blade Runner, released in 1982 (depicting the year 2019 – next year!).

And you may already know about there being a sequel, which was released last year – Blade Runner 2049. Well, I finally got round to watching it the other day on a plane.

So what can I say? It’s a goodie, for sure. But it ain’t no masterpiece. I’d put it on a par with, say… Passengers. I’ll give it 6.5 out of 10. The original was a straight 10/10 – up there with the other best-ever sci-fi movies, like Solaris, Stalker, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the sequel (as is often the case), was a bit of a let-down.

Herewith, my brief pros and cons of Blade Runner 2:

First, the pros:

+1: As already mentioned, overall it’s still a good film: original, well written, well directed.

+2: The Russian word Целина (Tselina) is written correctly on the greenhouses at Sapper Morten’s farm (This is a reference to Khrushchev’s ‘Virgin Lands’ campaign (Osvoyeniye Tseliny) in the Soviet Union where citizens were moved to undesirable and sparsely populated land to start farms and grow food).

Next, the cons:

-1: For me, the biggest and most unforgivable con is how Wallace and his replicant, Luv, are portrayed; i.e., as (very bad) baddies. In the first film, there are no baddies at all; replicants kill, but that’s what they’re designed to do by their makers – humans – and they kill only for understandable reasons: to survive or out of desperation, after all they get themselves into some awful situations. In the new film these two are maniacal sadist types completely lacking in moral compass, but, like, with zero explanation as to why. Grrr.

-2: Luv on her own. She’s Wallace’s right-hand replicant. His ‘first angel’, she can enter his room without knocking; however, she’s also engaged in direct sales, at one point explaining to a client how a product can be customized (the first scene at the Wallace Corporation). Nonsense. What, did they want to save on the number of actors needed for the film? I really don’t remember any such bizarre half-baked scripting in the first film.

-3: Assorted other puzzling bits. In particular:

– There’s dialogue at one point in a home for the elderly between Deckard and Gaff. And suddenly they switch to Hungarian. WHY? So everyone would look it up on the internet to see what it means (btw: nyugdíjas means pensioner in Hungarian). Yes, it’s cityspeak, but why the sudden switch? What’s it mean – if anything? Again, unfathomable. Could it mean Deckard is also a replicant and he was ‘retired’? No, he’s in the ruins of Las Vegas with a dog and a cistern of whisky. So, where’s the Hungarian connection? And how come no one else is in Vegas, attracted by this endless stock of vintage Scotch?

– There’s a character called Dr. Ana Stelline. Turns out Anastellin is a drug that suppresses tumor growth. Again, WHY? What’s the deep significance of this? (Maybe you know? > the comments).

-3.1: The scene featuring the child trafficker’s ledger. Why does the camera give us this sequence: back, hand, palm, ashtray – which is turned round to reveal a pic of a horse. Of course he then remembers everything, but that would have been obvious without the mysterious camerawork. Once again: WHY?

Btw, there are some good subtleties too. For example, in the ‘children’s home’ they shave the boys’ heads while leaving the girls’ hair to grow long. So – K’s recollections are of a girl, specifically of the girl who planted the recollections. Good, subtle, cool.

-3.2: Another unexplainable: a wooden toy horse costs a ton of money. However, in the very first scene of the film we see dead trees on farmland. Why didn’t the farmers saw up the trees into pieces and become millionaires?

-4: How does a replicant get into the chief of police’s office? Through the wall like Terminator? And how does she get into the police station’s evidence vault, which would have been guarded well, with dogs, video surveillance, and so on. Teleportation? So why doesn’t anyone else do teleportation? And why don’t they show the teleportation? How K got in there is shown. How the lunatic replicant got there – a mystery.

-5: How Roy Batty got into the bedroom of Tyrell is clear. How Luv moves through well-guarded walls – another puzzler.

-6: At the very end, how does K find out that Deckard is being driven in one of three cars. Telepathy? He destroys the other two (which didn’t fire back). The third, with Deckard, is only partly wrecked.

-7: Why doesn’t the super-astute K check his own DNA in the archive where he checked Rachel’s DNA? How could he not think of that one?! How to read others’ memories – he’s got that licked. A modicum of common sense – a complete lack of, all of a sudden.

Despite the cons far outweighing the cons, this is a film to be watched. But just once ).

B&B: Berlin & Bosch.

I’ve just got myself a +1 to my collection of German industrial exhibitions/conferences, which now runs to a grand total of three. It was Bosch Connected World – both a conference and exhibition that ‘celebrate the Internet of Things’. Hardware & software, robotics, stationary + mobile, automotive, cloud-based, AI… basically all the buzz words – and all here. But everything here is somehow Bosch-connected, either belonging thereto of partnering with it; therefore, it was rather smaller than the other two in my collection: Embedded World and Hannover Messe. The former is about all things cyber-digital-industrial-automotive, the latter – all things industrial in general, not just security.

If you’re already in the computer automation/robotics/smart-whatever field, or are planning on entering it soon, you need to get yourself here. We were here as we’ve decided to attend more vendor-themed events: they’re smaller scale, but more focused. So here we are: welcome to Bosch Connected World!…

Read on: Nice place, proper technology, business opportunities…

The world’s first ever bytes.

Hi folks!

Today’s post is from Munich; specifically – from one of its fine museums, and then from a conference I was speaking at…

All righty. The museum: the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest science and technology museum!

In a word, this place: ‘WHOAH!’

How can I best describe it? Ok, how about this:

Imagine you’re in a market – a massive one. There are rows of stalls selling fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts, knick-knacks… whatever. Well, here – it’s just like that, only the stalls feature cars, planes, computers and all sorts of other tech, from the ancient to the modern-day – lots of it too: 28,000 exhibits! Oh my grandiose!

Read on…

The plus and minus of the island of Mauritius.

Sometimes, especially on a flight on the other side of the world, the following thoughts creep into my mind: I’ve lost track of my total number of air-miles flown, of the names of the places I’ve stayed at, of the interesting sights I’ve seen, and so on. To remember it all is practically impossible.

But then I recall: to remember things, people have always written things down, which is just what I’ve been doing since the year dot! And should ever laziness have gotten a hold of me (moi?), I could just consult our accounting department, who are even more conscientious about book keeping (whence ‘bookkeeping’!) than I am: where I was, how I got there, which airports I used, where I stayed and for how long, where I dined… even where I had a beer! And of course let’s not forget the 100GB+ of (sorted, processed and compressed) photos I’ve accumulated down the years. So yes – you get the picture photo: there’s no chance anything could possibly be forgotten!

I also have practically a bottomless store of (actually, nearly 20 years of) travel (both business and touristic) experience, which is now not a bad resource to be tapped by practically any traveler (ok, maybe not the budget traveler; apologies for that) or potential traveler since it’s so vast. And it just keeps being supplemented with more and more new places and experiences. I sometimes have a trip down memory lane and get all nostalgic for the places I’ve been to and haven’t returned to for so long, and also for the simpler days when cameras had film inside that needed to be processed at special shops :). I’m also rather proud of some of the detailed subsections of my blog; for example, my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World and its various sub-sub-sections, my hotels list, and so on…

I also get to thinking about how lucky I am to visit so many beaches of the world on my travels – a bonus of having to be at business conferences, which have a handy knack of taking place in sunny resorts. But of course they are: where are you going to get the most accepted invitations to a conference – in, say, Munich, or in, say, Hawaii? Yep: it’s not rocket science. And I can even give rankings of the best resorts/beaches/conference venues too (my current fave: Surfers Paradise).

And talking of sunny resorts and rankings of the best this or that, there’s also my ranking of the business events. What’s at the top of this list? Naturally, it’s our own: the Security Analyst Summit (SAS). And naturally it always takes place in a real nice sunny resort with obligatory beach. Examples: Croatia, Cyprus, Malaga, the Canary Islands, Caribbean islands; and next month – once again back in Cancun, which will be our tenth SAS!

So what’s most important to you when it comes to beach resorts? Yes, it all depends on your priorities, for a super resort that ticks all the boxes for absolutely everyone simply doesn’t exist. Trust me, I’m a doctor :). Let me explain.

Read on: Like? Or not Like? Let’s see…

New Year further from the center, part 3: Indonesia over and out.

Hi folks!

Herewith, as promised, a brief summary of our recent Indonesian New-Year adventure.

We scaled seven volcanoes (Merapi, Arjuno–Welirang–Kembar, Bromo, Ijen, Kelimutu), saw four dizzying dawns from volcano peaks, stayed on five Indonesian islands, bathed in two seas and one volcanic lake, photographed three orangutans and many a Komodo dragon, swam with manta fish and untold quantities of other marine life, ate tons of local exotic super-fresh fruits, flew four inter-island flights (in addition to the flights to Indonesia and back), and spent countless hours on buses and 4x4s (covering 1300km on… hazardous roads). In a word: phew!

Already back home, I thought I’d dig around on the internet to see what I could find on the volcanoes we climbed. And there was plenty…

Bromo:

Kelimutu:

In all, 18 days (not including getting there and back). A extraordinary expedition. So if you have a bit of a soft spot for volcanism – make sure to get here one day; you won’t be disappointed!

Read on…

Beach, plane, yacht, diving, fishing, sunset.

Hi folks!

All our scheduled Indonesian volcanoes had been duly climbed, snapped, and climbed back down again, but our adventure wasn’t over yet! We still had several days left to go on our trip, but first we needed to get to another Indonesian island. This meant we needed to get to the airport in the city of Ende on Flores island. Now, I was praising Indonesia’s airports a few posts back… Well, this one’s no exception (but for one bizarre detail)!…

So. Ende. A city with a population of just 60,000, but it has a really rather charming volcano nearby plus a really rather good airport. However, flights in and out of the airport are rare, and by day they simply lock the whole airport up (literally)!

The road from Moni (where we stayed after seeing the brightly-colored volcanic lakes the previous day) is a strange one: journey time on it is very unpredictable; example: we were told it would take three or four hours to get to the airport; it actually took one-and-a-half. Not that we’d have minded a longer ride, as the views to be had therefrom when circling the volcanoes are crazy beautiful (featuring remarkable ravines and wonderful waterfalls), and at the very end – while you wait for the airport to open – you can lounge about on a brilliant beach. Aaaah! The perfect setting for meditation:

Read on…

The blue eyes of Kelimutu.

The final volcano on our Indonesia trip was Kelimutu on the island of Flores. Just one look at a photo of this volcano and you’ll guess the distinctive feature that makes it an extra special volcano: its differently (brightly) colored volcanic lakes that sit in its three calderas. Kelimutu for sure helped ‘Indonesian volcanoes’ earn their place on my Top-100 Must-See Places in the World (No. 72). I don’t think much commentary is needed here. As per custom when I encounter off-the-scale natural beauty, I’ll let the photos do the talking…

Read on…

Rome: layer upon layer, added over millennia.

I’ve long been used to extended business trips, sometimes taking me right round the world, sometimes lasting months. The template goes like this: suitcase packed > car > SVO (sometimes DME) > destination No. 1 > destination 2 > destination 3 … 10+ > MOW (doesn’t matter which airport; main thing: I’m back) > car > home. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me that my first business trip of 2018 turned out to be a simple and super-quick one: Moscow (SVO) > Rome (FCO) > Moscow (SVO), and all in two days!

Eh? What was that? A business trip? Surely not?…

I mean, if you’re going abroad on business you need to really go – and go, and go plenty more. All this go-and-come-straight-back lark: nope – not for me. (So I hope those who organize my multinational toing-and-froings are reading this:).

At least – that was my initial reaction to this micro-business-trip before it happened. But then it did happen. And I found out to my surprise I liked it. A lot. But of course I did: it was to Rome. What’s not to like?…

Read on: Rome! The Eternal City!

Ocean warmer than hot springs.

Indonesia is a country made up of many islands – around 17,000, actually! Plus its roads and drivers are hardly… autobahns and sensible Germans, respectively, either, as mentioned earlier. These factors together mean air transportation is very popular in the country (which has more than 130 airports!): national airlines have planes hopping between the country’s large cities like shuttle-buses at rush hour. So – all this flying; but what are the airports like? Mercifully – great! We used a full seven throughout our trip, and every single one was new, neat, tidy and clean – even the small provincial ones with just a few flights a day; here’s an example: Blimbingsari Airport near the city of Banyuwangi, which we headed to after climbing Ijen:

Read on…