Thursday, 8 September 2011

River Song's first meeting with the Doctor

It was suggested way back in Silence in the Library that River and the Doctor are having a relationship in opposite directions.  This is a cool idea - a mysterious woman from the Doctor's future who knows him intimately (or at least that's what's implied) but who he's never met?  Cool!  And to have their timelines running in reverse relative directions, so each time they meet, it's the next time for the Dr and the previous time for River?  That's cool.  A pain to stick with (so some wiggle room is required) but cool.

But this would surely mean that the first time River meets the Dr should be the last time the Dr meets River - and the episode Let's Kill Hitler implies otherwise.  Or does it?

At the start of the episode, Amy and Rory get the Doctor's attention by drawing a massive crop circle that he spots in a paper some time in the future.  But which Doctor is it?  It's somewhat taken for granted that it's the same Doctor that we last saw in A Good Man Goes to War, but how do we know that he hasn't been around and had lots of adventures since then?  What if this is the Doctor at the end of his time, aged 1300+ ?

Then the episode takes on a different tone - when River poisons him, and there's no known cure for the poison, he hops in the TARDIS and goes to get help (the Doctor from Amy and Rory's wedding?  Or from the end of the season episode which is apparently something to do with the wedding of River Song?) then heads off to meet the girl on the edge of the lake and gets shot (the Impossible Astronaut).

The timing works (32 minutes until he's dead, and he's in Impossible Astronaut for less than 32 minutes before being shot iirc) and the change of outfit seems odd otherwise, given how that was a big thing about last season (with the Doctor's jacket in the Time of Angels).  The only questions that then remain are: was it even the real Doctor (I thought it would be the ganger Doctor that was killed on the lake edge - but maybe he's the Doctor that keeps on?) and what happened to River's Regenerations (could the Doctor have taken them away from her, knowing that she won't need them?  Could that let him somehow survive being shot on the edge of the lake?  Could it give him more than 13 lives?).

Monday, 5 September 2011

Doctor Who - Night Terrors Review (warning: Spoilers)

I managed to watch the latest Dr Who last night.  It was called Night Terrors, and was (in my opinion, anyway) a big step up from last week, but still not as good as some episodes we've seen.

The episode started off interestingly.  It seems that with River sort-of dealt with last episode, the Doctor and his pals had little to do.  They're just hanging out in the TARDIS somewhere in deep space.  Meanwhile, there is a little kid on an estate in the UK somewhere who is afraid of everything.  He's so scared that his fear manages to send out a telepathic message to the Doctor's psychic paper saying "Save me from the monsters"

So the doc and friends decide to go and help the kid (well, the Doctor does anyway - Amy and Rory seem less than enthused about the idea).  This involves lots of knocking on doors but gives the impression that they're not really that good at the job.  They don't seem to ask anything that would lead towards finding the kid.  This bit starts to drag on a little (I know they're establishing some details about other people around, but it still feels a little overlong) then thankfully the Doctor spots the boy in a window.

At about this time, Amy and Rory get into a lift (which we're told the boy is terrified of) and plummet for no particular reason.  They wind up in a creepy doll's house.

Long story short, the Doc gets into the house and saves the day, by persuading the boy that he made all of the bad stuff, and only he can stop it.

It was a reasonable episode with a nice message and feel to it, but some of it felt a little rushed (like how Amy and Rory were dumped into the house by using an elevator) or a little slow (like the knocking on doors, or waiting for the Doc and the Dad to open the closet.

I'd give it a solid 7 out of 10.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Bury Council pissing away money

Via the Register, we learn today that Bury Council has bought 22 Ipads for it's binmen, at a cost of around £9,000.

They claim:
...the products, made by Apple, could produce significant savings by helping to reduce the number of bins missed by trucks and therefore the number of trips made by the vehicles.
I'm really not sure how.  You either get the bin, or you don't - having a touchpad isn't going to help you remember which bins you're meant to be picking up, is it?

The council, which collects rubbish from 83,000 houses each week, revealed that there were 4,228 reports of missed bins last year. Costing £40 each to revisit, it spent around £170,000 going back to empty bins missed on rounds.
So 83000 bins collected each week, and they missed 4000 in a year.  That's a miss rate of about 1 in 1000 - doesn't sound too bad.  So I guess what I'm wondering is why they have to spend £40 to revisit - surely they have other binmen in the area the next day, why not pick up the rubbish then?  Each household would only have about a 1 in 20 chance of having their bin missed once a year, which is surely low enough that people will manage.

What I don't understand is why having an ipad would help.  Are they going to program the locations of all of the bins onto the ipads?  If so, why not just get a map?
A council spokeswoman said: "For a modest investment of £9,000, this technology should save us many thousands of pounds, provide residents with a better service, and promote recycling.
How the hell does it make any difference to recycling?
"We know how much residents value a responsive and reliable bin collection service. This system should ensure that the number of missed collections is reduced to an absolute minimum, because any problems are reported in real time to our customer contact centre.
So the problems are reported in real time - and then what?  
"The system should also allow us to respond more quickly during the winter to any enforced changes in the collection route."
The council also said the soaring landfill costs contributed to the decision.
The spokeswoman added: "We need to urgently improve our recycling rates to avoid passing on crippling landfill taxes to local residents, which is already costing every local taxpayer £134 a year each and is set to rise to £250 a year if we keep dumping waste in landfill sites.
"This new technology will help us to log and monitor this, and help us in our ongoing efforts to promote recycling across the borough. It is absolutely vital that we increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill."
This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.
 So you log the problems - well done.  I don't see how this reduces waste - from the sounds of it, they hope that it will increase the efficiency of collections, and thus increase the waste put into landfill...

Call me a cynic, but I wouldn't mind betting that the person who signed off on this purchase is either related to or good friends with at least one of those who gets a shiny new ipad...