Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Seven Languages in Seven Weeks by Bruce Tate:
I picked up this programming language survey book in an attempt to work some software engineering back into my daily routine. It's a decent mix of code samples, directed explorations, and exercises for Ruby, Io, Prolog, Scala, Erlang, Clojure, and Haskell. There's not enough material to become fluent in any particular language, but that's not the point of a survey text. The most useful sections summarize the strengths and weaknesses of each language in the context of the other languages, and the least useful sections anthopomorphizes each language as a character from a famous movie, in a horribly failed attempt to add levity.

Final Grade: B-

Fallout:
I spent five minutes downloading this old game from Steam, twenty minutes troubleshooting the VGA rainbow graphics issue I hadn't encountered since owning a 386, thirty minutes figuring out the best way to allocate the starting stats, and two minutes fighting a rat. Sadly, I think this game has fallen into the "too old to be enjoyed" bucket along with NES games, black and white movies, and Dick Clark.

Final Grade: Ungraded

The Dictator (NR):
The problem with Sacha Baron Cohen movies is that you have to wade through an arbitrary, unnecessary plot structure to get to the one or two hilarious jokes in a sea of unfunny mediocrity. This movie was a little zippier than Borat, but I still would have rather watched the best parts (the ad-libbed conversations with his henchman, Nadal) as short Youtube clips.

Final Grade: C+

Homeland, Season One:
If there were a way to only get Showtime every Sunday and then cancel it on Monday, this show would make it worthwhile. It's a thriller about a POW who returns home after 8 years in captivity, and a CIA analyst who thinks he may have been turned by terrorists. The show relies much less on cheap tricks, explosions, and car chases, and more on pure character development and psychological suspense. Meanwhile in my rewatch of the 24 series, someone in CTU is refusing to follow orders because they don't like their boss and/or coworkers -- guess which season!

Final Grade: A

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