Cloud Atlas the film

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I recently plucked up courage and watched the recent film of Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas, the book, is one of my favourite books ever, and I have read it twice so far, enjoying it enormously and getting more out of it the second time around. As ever with a beloved book, I was nervous that the film would somehow pollute my enjoyment of the book forever. However, I saw a trailer and was genuinely curious about how they would tackle the story and its unusual structure and changes in tone.

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Koken

A few months ago, I started using a bit of software called Koken to publish a kind of portfolio of my photos. I loved it, and was really happy to have somewhere to display my favourite photos that was tailored to my own needs and — more importantly — on my own server and under my own control. I was about to write a review of it when I had to switch to nginx as a web server rather than Apache and managed to break everything.

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Sage Barista Express

Before Christmas, we had a bit of a ‘home appliance breakdown’ period chez Bsag. The biggest (and most expensive) casualty was our central heating boiler, but we also had a succession of other things break, including my beloved Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. Not having any heating or hot water is one thing, but no coffee — that’s insupportable. I opened up the machine and found that the boiler had developed a substantial leak through a crack in the boiler wall, so steam was escaping all the time that the machine was on, and the temperature and pressure was not holding.

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Warhorses of Letters

I am in awe of fabulously creative writers. I’m talking about Robert Hudson and Marie Phillips — the kind of people who can write a radio comedy series about a love affair conducted by letter between two warhorses, or as they describe it, “A gay, equine, military, epistolary romance for the ages”. Not only have the three series of ‘Warhorses of Letters’ been hilarious, but the very last episode that I listened to last week (and again this morning) was so utterly moving that I was astonished to find myself with big fat tears rolling down my face.

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Second impressions: Sony RX100 Camera

I wrote about my brief first impressions of this camera back in August, not long after I had bought it. I thought it was probably time to do a second review, now that I’m about 5 months into using it. First, you need to know a bit about what I want out of a camera, and what sort of photographs I enjoy taking. I would say that I’m an intermediate photographer in terms of expertise.

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Editorial

Everyone loves Editorial, the new iPad text editor. if you have missed hearing about it, a good place to start is with Federico Viticci’s wonderful and very thorough review. I’ve only been using it for a short while compared to Federico’s 6 months, but I already love it. I’m pretty sure that it will become my standard editor for doing any kind of writing on the iPad. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many text editors I have downloaded over the years for the iPhone, and more recently, the iPad.

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First impressions: Sony RX100 camera

Choosing a camera — like choosing many other technological tools — is a matter of balancing compromises. Digital SLRs have a great choice of interchangable lenses and superb image quality, but they are large, expensive and heavy, and you can’t really carry them around with you every day. Compact cameras, on the other hand, are usually cheaper, smaller and lighter, but the image quality is compromised, and you are stuck with a single (albeit potentially a zoom) lens.

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Two Years at Sea

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I’m quite fond of quiet, reflective, almost wordless films. I watch my fair share of action films too, but I can sit entranced for hours in front of Into Great Silence or Le Quattro Volte. There’s something about quietly observing someone who is apparently utterly contented with their life and at one with their environment, going about their business in tranquil surroundings. Last night we watched another such film: Two Years at Sea by Ben Rivers.

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Big Inner by Matthew E. White

A few weeks ago, I bought an album by an artist I had never heard of before on the basis of a glowing review in the Guardian. The artist was Matthew E. White, and the album was Big Inner. I was blown away by it the first time I listened to it, but I’ve listened to it a lot since, and my enjoyment of it has only deepened — a sure sign that it’s a long term ‘classic’ that I’ll listen to again and again.

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Bookends

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A while ago, I mentioned that I’d moved to using Bookends for my paper-handling and referencing needs. I’ve been really impressed with the software and thought it might be nice to do a review. If you have scrolled down, you will already have seen that this review is a bit of an epic. Reference managers are a niche product to start with, and even if you already use one, the chances are that you will feel this is a deeply nerdy and over-detailed review.

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