The Last Kingdom

A fantastically good BBC program I’m watching at the moment is The Last Kindgom based on the books by Bernard Cornwall.

Its closest comparison may be The History Channel’s Vikings, or possibly HBO’s Game of Thrones, but make no mistake – The Last Kingdom does things its own way, with its own voice, with its own style.  Forget the criticism that the BBC has had the shadow of Games of Thrones beneath it since the Government consultations – this is not and never will be GoT.

The story tells of Uhtred, the son of a Saxon nobleman who finds himself being raised by the Viking Danes and is subsequently drawn into fighting for both sides (as England is slowly carved up by the Danes and the Saxons).

What I love about this show is that not only is it very well written, but the casting is spot on.  Everybody looks and feels the part they play.  I love the visual style of the show – with place names shown in old English before morphing into their modern equivalents.  Good use is made of cameras attached to drones – they get to places where helicopters cannot, and there are some pretty impressive uses of these drones that add to the show’s visual “vocabulary”.

What also stands out is the music.  This is not your standard orchestral fare.  John Lunn has teamed up with Eivor to produce a soundtrack that makes use of her unique vocals. This is a truly remarkable soundtrack, and I cannot wait for them to release it.

With just another two episodes to go, I have no idea where the story is going to go.  What will become of Uhtred?

This is a keeper, I’m going to be getting the Blu-Ray just as soon as it becomes available.

I despair..

.. at Warner Bros. UK’s technical capabilities.

I’ve been trying to unsubscribe from Warner Bros. UK mailing list for quite some time.  But the problem is that clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the email does absolutely nothing.

It’s my opinion that any reputable mailing list should immediately and without hesitation remove the user from any future mailings with a single click without having to sign into any accounts or jump through any other hoops.

This is all I get when I try to unsubscribe from Warner Bros. Insider emails:

Have I been unsubscribed? I have no idea. But no matter, don’t make my jump through logins or hoops, or I’ll blacklist your arse to kingdom come.

So I added and various other subdomains of theirs to my Google Apps for Work SMTP block list (a lovely feature – it’s well worth buying a Google Apps for Work account for this alone).

But still the emails came.

And I’ve just realised why: they’ve got a typo in the From: address. Specifically they’ve been using

How the hell can you misspell a multi-billion dollar corporate's domain name wrong every single time you send out a mailshot?
How the hell can you misspell a multi-billion dollar corporate’s domain name wrong every single time you send out a mailshot?

The evidence, m’lord:

And they’ve been using for some time:

2015-11-26_16-44-44I looked up the domain via WHOIS.  Apparently it belongs to a company called “The Tulip Trading Company Limited”.  Now, I’ve no idea whether this is a domain they’re entitled to use or not, but that’s not my problem.


I’ve now blocked at SMTP time.  I’ve sent an abuse report to Sendgrid which is used to send out these mailshots, and I’ve CC’ed the Warner Bros. webmaster as well.

Oh, BTW, Warner Bros. still haven’t fixed the Javascript link I reported to them. I sent it to the WB desk at Technicolor, so they’d have seen something even if I had been blacklisting domains.

*drops the mic, leaves the building*

So long, and thanks for all the fish..

Update: We’re still alive!  For now, at least.

Given today’s events at the Turkey/Syrian border, I’d just like to say, before all the action really kicks off, that it’s been a pleasure knowing you all.

I’m sure our porcine-loving Prime Minister will do a Blair (Chilcott must be having kittens by now) and make things even worse for everybody.  If not him, the US certainly will be stirring the pot.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Or, maybe, just maybe, diplomacy and sense could shine through the awfulness. But I doubt it very much.

An Apple a day means I have to keep taking the Tablets..

That’s the problem with Apple.  They keep coming out with new and exciting technology that changes the way I interact with people and things.  The iPad Pro is no exception.  At first I thought I wouldn’t want or need another iPad, but having watched literally hours of unboxing videos and reviews on YouTube on my 4th generation Apple TV, I’ve decided to give up my iPad Air 2 and go Pro.

One thing I’ve found of late, doing the NaNoWriMo, is that when you add a keyboard to an iPad, it becomes an incredibly handy portable computer.  Sure, there’s no mouse, but it’s no big deal having to use one’s fingers on the screen to navigate.  Selecting text is a bit of a PITA, but navigating through blocks of text using a physical keyboard is fine.

Then I saw the iPad Pro.  And the Apple Pencil.  And my mind started to turn over the idea that if one had a stylus (specifically the Apple Pencil), wouldn’t that make for a decent editing tool for text?  You’d mark what you want to highlight or amend, then use the keyboard to replace it.  Also useful for making handwritten notes, making sketches and other good stuff that one used to do with paper.

iMovie for iPad Pro intrigues me too.  Using a combination of pencil and fingers, it looks to replicate the old Steenbecks (where you had to cut and splice film). Imagine what Apple or Adobe could do if they brought their professional editing tools to the iPad Pro?  Albeit with limitations because (a) how would you handle large scale external storage for importing and exporting clips and (b) using additional monitors for previewing?  Something to think about.

What also caught my attention were the reviews for people using their iPad Pros for reading magazines.  Many, many, many, many publishers still do NOT optimise their magazines (essentially glorified PDFs) for iOS and for anything less than an iPad Pro results in having to zoom-pinch your way through articles.  And as for newspapers, they become broadsheets!

As for iPad Pro keyboards, the Smart Keyboard intrigues me.  But (a) I’ve no idea how it would feel or operate when typing – I’m a reasonably fast typist and I like decent feedback when I hit each key and (b) the horrendous cost of thing and (c) they’re as rare as hen’s teeth on launch, and US only layout.  So I’ve gone with Logitech CREATE keyboard that apparently adds a bit of weight to the whole shebang, but provides a proper keyboard with backlight.

Will an iPad Pro replace my MacBook Pro?  Possibly, but not quite.  If I wanted to start developing apps for iOS, tvOS or OS X, I’d still need a Mac.  But for photos, photo editing, music (Apple Music), email, blogging, vlogging, editing video, social media (Twitter, Google+, Periscope) an iPad Pro and an iPhone 6S Plus would do everything I need and want.

But this is it.  Absolutely it.  No more Apple-related goodies for at least two years.  I am done.  If Apple brought out the Apple Watch Pro, the iPhone Pro, the MacBook Pro Pro or the Apple TV Pro Plus Distinction, it’d have to be sidelined.

Reviews, etc. etc. as and when.