What the hell is with Zune’s Animating Taskbar Text?

What. The. Hell?

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Thanks Zune. After getting rid of the annoying, distracting, attention-grabbing taskbar text animations in the 3.x series, Zune 4.x now brings it back in force, with no obvious way to disable it.

Every time the text changes, my attention is drawn to the taskbar. This isn’t remotely cool. This is distracting. That the option was there and is now gone tells me you don’t care about me.

Thanks for nothing.

Formula One Refuelling Ban: Worst. Race. Ever.

Well done guys, you broke the spectacle pretty comprehensively.

Bahrain was a boring track at the best of times. Adding bumpy corners that extend a lap is not really that cool to watch.

But now, with no refuelling… there is no strategy. It’s a freakin’ train.

It had better get better soon. Otherwise, F1 will have squandered the most compelling driver lineup it’s seen in recent years.

F1: Legard isn’t good, needs to go

The BBC’s biggest mis-step this year in their otherwise excellent Formula 1 coverage is Jonathan Legard.

His commentary just doesn’t work: it’s repetitive, he frequently gets things wrong, and he’s generally just not entertaining. Martin Brundle seems to put up with him, but if I hear his tone right, doesn’t think he’s doing a great job either.

For my money, James Allen did a fantastic job with Brundle back on ITV, and I’d love to see (well, hear) him back on the F1 commentary.

But really, just about anyone other than Legard would be good. Put DC and Eddie with Brundle in the commentary box, see what happens?

Please, Aunty Beeb, lose Legard.

Fuck you, Hulu

Content is not available in my region.

Fuck you and your region. Typical “we are the world” US-centric bullshit.

Hulu seems to be a digital remnant of the old school network model. They’re trying to make themselves the default, easy option for US people to view US content, and thus retain their existing advertising models, by claiming to the advertisers that stuff seen on Hulu counts as much as it woulda on the networks.

I plead with content producers: disintermediate. Find another non-iTunes system that lets you collect payment directly from your patrons, and lets anyone in the world watch your shows.

Or failing that, let overseas users buy Hulu licenses – like Beeb licenses (fuck you too, BBC) – that let non-regional audiences tune in.

Geography ain’t what it used to be.

Quantum of Solace review: (just) Three Stars

I’ve been brewing over QoS for a while now, and I’m ready to render judgement.

It wasn’t a great movie. It was very nearly not even good.

Let’s see… what went wrong?

Well: Casino Royale set an impossibly high bar, is the short version.

Casino Royale delivered (for Bond) realism and authenticity in its action sequences, a compelling and mildly complex plot, interesting locations, and again, and above all, the return of some authenticity. If I had to sum up Bond 20, it would be “authentic”. A reboot in the truest sense of the word. Like Batman Begins, care was taken with the details, enough that I wasn’t immediately offended or pissed off while watching it (and having my suspension of disbelief shattered by an unrealistic stunt, or a sequence that was clearly CGI, etc, etc).

Whereas Nolan pulled off The Dark Knight with even more of what made the first movie good, reinvigorated Bond fans got the difficult second album.

Quantum of Solace relies on effects and an incomprehensible set of action-cut-sequences, in which the effects shots stand out. The moment in the boat where Olga strikes at the other man (impossible camera shot, so clearly an effect); the weird part where something got attached to another boat somehow; other impossible camera shots; implausible villain’s lair. It was damn near Roger Moore-era over-the-top-ness.

Put another way, I thought the ad for the Sony thingo at the start, where Daniel Craig was getting stoically blasted by explosions and debris, all the while trying to stare sadly at the camera, was the best action sequence in the movie. (Like the “Mad World” Gears of War ad made you wish the story in the game was actually worth a damn and had just a smidgen of poignance). But no. Yes, there was an action sequence montage to arguably inappropriate music, and while the girlie enjoyed that bit, I’ve seen it done better, and less perfunctorily.

And then, when you think things might be calming down… the MI6 computer system was one of those ridiculous Swordfish-class monstrosities. Surface multiplied with some Designers Republic offcuts. Everything seemed to beep and animate and twirl, but how much of it actually looked functional or useful to anyone? Frustration abounded. Does anyone, ever, really expect computers to be magical any more? Do they need to be?

And I felt tired. Bond being cut loose from MI6 (or was it 5?) again? Really? Is that even a plot twist any more, or did Judi Dench die ten years ago, and they’re just compositing her into the scenes with all the same lines? Maybe computers are magical.

Quantum just didn’t work as well on any level, and I’m going to argue that at the end of the day, it was largely due to the direction. The plot could have used work, but I think the disappointingly vague and overly brusque action sequences made the action less fun, and the movie as a whole felt cheap.

I’m hoping this is a momentary mis-step, and that we’ll see more of the smart, realistic Bond we got from Casino Royale, and less of a return to the special effects and plausibility nightmares of Die Another Day.

So, six out of ten. Charitably, 7, but that’s stretching the friendship. Must Do Better.

Fake Crowd Noise on Supermodel Finale?

Something completely, utterly annoying to me is the overdubbing of crowd noise.

I picked it quickly on Public Image Limited’s “live” version of Rise (on one EP or another), and watching the Make Me A Supermodel finale on 7 left me with a similar feeling.

Crowd shots showed happy clappers for the runway segment. But some signature “whooping” was happening for every person. Everyone got the same level of crowd noise. And in none of the shots did it appear that the crowd was as impassioned as the whooping might imply. They might have taken legitimate crowd noise from one segment and dropped it in elsewhere, but it’s cheating. It’s not authentic. And I’m not impressed.

So, Channel 7, shame on you. I reckon it was overdubbed, I reckon it was rorted, and I reckon it’s sad that you did that, assuming I’m right.