New Palm device (possibly) does not suck

Gizmodo: Palm Stock Jumps 34.85% On Palm Pre News.

I am pleasantly surprised that the new Palm Pre is getting such positive initial buzz. I’d long accepted that Palm was on death watch, and for good reason: “stagnation” doesn’t even begin to describe how badly they’ve botched product development this millennium. It will be interesting to see how the Pre does.

I’m not a huge fan of the cloud computing concept as such, but otherwise the Pre looks very intriguing. I refuse to use a Windows Mobile device, dislike Blackberry, am indifferent to Android, and won’t even consider the iPhone (no keyboard = useless for me). The only other device that intrigues me even a little is the Nokia E71. (And no, I never seriously considered the Openmoko platform; I may prefer to use a Free Software distribution, but I’m not a complete masochist.)

Of course, I’m not going to be adopting the Pre any time soon: at a minimum, I want a phone based on GSM, and preferably unlocked, not a CDMA phone exclusively tied to Sprint. Fortunately, according to PC World the new Palm Pre will go on sale in European countries during the first half of this year as well.

Assuming Palm doesn’t screw it up—never a safe assumption—my next phone may very well be a Pre.

Variety on “The Straw Men”

Variety describes the novel The Straw Men as a crime thriller about a detective brought out of retirement to solve a series of bizarre murders connected by dark conspiracy . Which makes me wonder if the intent is to make the least interesting of the novel’s three main characters the protagonist of the film version. That would solve one structural problem: the late Big Reveal of the novel is not possible to delay in a film without jumping through hoops. But it would also be boring. It’s the pulpier aspects that make the novel interesting IMHO.

Woodpulp and wonder

Jack Williamson on writing science fiction for Harry Bates:

Most of the stories he published look pretty crude now, but they were stories. Concise, clearly written, about people solving problems. […] The hero had to be sympathetic, pitted against ugly evil. The conflict had to keep moving, rising steadily from a quick beginning to an exciting climax and then a triumphant resolution brought about by the hero himself.

Though such rules aren’t enough to make a story great, they do reflect fundamentals the writer has to master before he can ignore them. There are ways to win and hold interest. If the reader isn’t interested, early and firmly, all else is lost.

Source: Williamson, Jack. Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction. New York, N.Y.: Bluejay Books, 1984.

Daniel Myrick’s Objective

I read this and winced:

“Afghanistan is a mystical place completely infused with superstition and religion,” Mr. Myrick explained by phone. “I thought it would be an effective contemporary backdrop for a thriller.”

Daniel Myrick, of all people, managed to sound like a condescending marketroid chasing faded trends while promoting his new film, The Objective. This is particularly painful given his obvious desire not to be seen as a one-hit wonder who rode the zeitgeist atop the hype-machine that was The Blair Witch Project.

David Carr only makes it worse with his synopsis:

In the film a C.I.A. officer joins up with a Special Forces crew for a mission deep in the mountains and tells the team members little, at least very little that is true, about what they are actually looking for.

(I think I liked the sound of this movie better when it was called Predator….)

They are confronted by mortal and supernatural threats that leave the crew decimated and wondering precisely what it is up against.

(And I liked the sound of this movie better when it was called…The Blair Witch Project.)

I think it would be great if Mr. Myrick could succeed on his own terms–as he so clearly wants to–but if this is the culmination of nine years of effort, I have to wonder if he might have been better off selling out a bit more readily.

(Via The New York Times.)

It still needs a splash screen, though

Matt Mullenweg on his new design:

I wonder if there’s a way to only allow comments from people with Gravatars? It looks so much better.

Boy did that rub me the wrong way.

Still, it did inspire me to spend 2 minutes in The GIMP making this protest gravatar:

<img src="spacer.gif" alt="" />

<img src="spacer.gif" alt="" />

I’ve no idea if it’s original or not, because I zap avatars when browsing the web.

(I would simply have used a transparent image, but Gravatar is so amazingly lame that the latest version broke transparent PNG support. [This was fixed two months later.])