Thursday 30 November 2023

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of November 2023

...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Projector Room
Episode 149 - Old Dads' Bodies
Wednesday 1st November
Gareth, Allan and I are back with another roundup of goodies from film, cinema and TV. This time we focus on the work of Jodie Foster, Matthew Perry and Richard Roundtree, Shaft 12 Angry Men in an Impossible Mission, travel back to Finland and oodles more.

Phones Show Chat
Episode 774 - Phone Manufacturers that Begin with 'S'
Saturday 4th November
Steve and I are joined again this week by Steve Nutt who chats with us about accessibility with folding devices, having tested it out now. We also talk about Sony's Xperia phones again, Pixel Fold, Surface Duo 2 and oodles of other stuff. Available in the usual places, so do join us for an hour.

Whatever Works
Episode 196 - Piaggio Motocompacto!
Wednesday 8th November
Aidan and I are back again for more fun and frivolity as we delve into the Wonderful World of Whatever Works! Plenty of clap-trap as usual amongst pearls from us and you. Heated gloves, Ladder Mats, Steam engines from coffee, towel holders, deck shoes - something for everyone. Yes - even you! So do join us for an hour when you run out of anything sensible to do!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 775 - Xtreme Xiaomi and Diabolical Doogee
Saturday 11th November
Steve and I bring you Adrian Brain this week as we delve deep into some interesting and different topics - along with the usual suspects about what we're up to. Yes, a Doogee with a 22,000mAh Battery!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Where the EE Roam
Sunday 12th November
Gareth and I are roamin' around this time for free while EE charges for it, Steamdeck OLED, Nintendo, .ing domains, Tab S9 FE, Doogee tablets, Anker Aerofit, HMD and Nokia devices, Oppo Find N3, Sony A9 III, Samsung Active5, WhatsApp ads, Facebook and Instagram subscriptions - another packed show again this fortnight (not Fortnite)!

Projector Room
Episode 150 - The Killer Fingernails
Wednesday 15th November
Gareth, Allan and I are here again to bring you our thoughts on what we, and you, have been watching in film, cinema and TV. We focus on the work of David Thewlis, go Divorcing Jack, take a Sly look at Dead Snow and loads more. So Get Out and about with Us and don't say Nope to a couple of hours of good natter.

Phones Show Chat
Episode 776 - From Mini to Max in MagSafe
Saturday 18th November
Steve and I are joined again by Jon Trimmer this week as we chat about the devices he's using lately with a focus on folding again and the OnePlus Open in particular. Lots of other stuff as usual.

Whatever Works
Episode 197 - Santa's Fluffs!
Wednesday 22nd November
Aidan and me, back again, to bring you an hour of confusion, nonsense, chaos and mayhem! So break out your brolly as we shower you with a deluge of do-do!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 777 - The Pixel Fold Special
Saturday 25th November
This week Steve and I welcome back Jim Fowl to chat about the Pixel Fold as we've all three now had hands-on, shoved and shuffled it around! Other stuff too, including a 2014 phone and even an iPod Touch!

Projector Room
Episode 151 - Napoleon's Crown
Wednesday 29th November
Allan, Gareth and I are back again with our fortnightly roundup of all things film, cinema and TV. This time Gareth launches into his deep appreciation of all things Bruce Campbell in Themed Treats, we get a Locked In Private Screening, go bonkers with a Jaws Parody, consider the American-sounding Bonaparte and share divided views on all things royal!

The Podcasts
PodHubUK - Phones Show Chat - The Phones Show - Whatever Works - Chewing Gum for the Ears - Projector Room - Tech Addicts

Thursday 16 November 2023

Fingernails (2023)

In order to avoid divorce, time wasting and bad choices, this sci-fi'ish love story/drama paints a picture of a world where couples can get tested to see if they're compatible with each other. To see if there is true love.

They do this by attending a course (series of practical and emotional tasks together) then having a fingernail ripped off so they can have it put in some futuristic machine with the computer giving the result. 100% means both are in love, 50% means only one of them is in love (but it's not known which) and 0% means neither. As you might expect!

I think it's 1980's America and Anna and Ryan have had this test done some years back and are 100%. Incidentally, the vast majority of people don't get 100% so the course/test is not taken lightly - only people who really want to know (and fancy the torture) get involved.

Anna is restless though, questioning the science. She decides to go and work in the place where they do the course/testing and seems to fall for a work colleague there, Amir, putting into question even more her confidence and understanding of the process and outcomes. And apparently, he, her.

So it's quite simple really, as the love story is built around the science. Being in a stable (and scientifically approved/confirmed) relationship but being able to think outside the box, she's susceptible to her feelings and emotions - and thereby questioning the whole basis of what's going on.

So we then follow Amir and Anna, working in-team at the institute, helping their clients through the tasks as they get closer and closer, both knowing that she, at least, has a 100% reading with her current partner - and apparently, him too. We get inside her head as the camera follows her behaviour and thoughts, written all over her face, falling deeper, getting more confused, and as she tries to hide it from Ryan.

It's a slow, but well-paced drama from Greek director Christos Nikou in his first English language film, following Apples (2020). It's thoughtful and laid-back, beautifully presented through great acting by the leads (Jessie Buckley can do no wrong - she’s so cute!), nicely-measured cinematography and supported by some great 1980's music setting the scene.

It's also a bit absurd as a notion, I guess. The ripping off of people's fingernails is presented in the film indirectly, but gets the viewer close enough to the event to induce a sharp intake of breath and furrowed brow, at the very least! If you can stomach that and fancy a slow but thoughtful sci-fi'ish drama, worth a look, I say!

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Je t'aime moi non plus (1976)

In the wake of the death of Jane Birkin I decided to watch one of the films she was in, a controversial one from 1976 which was directed and written by her husband Serge Gainsbourg. Controversial thematically (for the time), fairly graphic sexual scenes and nudity.

Birkin was very thin at this time and the director exploited this, staging her as a waitress in a bar in France, the abusive owner Boris (Reinhard Kolldehoff) of which had decided that should be called ‘Johnny’ as in his view she looked thin, flat-chested, short-haired and much like a boy. She’s seeking something in life more than her dull existence working in a bar and first stop would be a meaningful relationship it seems.

Along come muscular gay couple Krass (Joe Dallesandro) and Padovan (Hugues Quester), who are working on a truck moving rubbish they collect to a landfill. Krass instantly assumes that Johnny is a boy but then it’s too late for him as it was love/lust at first sight. The boss warns her that he’s gay and jealous Padovan goes to great lengths to derail his intentions towards her, but neither of them are to put off. We then enter a phase of the film where the pair of them are trying to find a way round his lack of interest in females, her frustration in that she can’t arouse him and the resulting graphicly delivered compromise they come to, you can imagine, as she cries out in pain during sex.

Birkins character is abused in most ways by all around her throughout the length of this twisted romantic film, which is largely why it became controversial back in the day. It’s not very well made, comes across as very low-budget (which maybe it was) and says much more about the abusive relationships on show than anything else. Johnny doesn’t care about all this because she’s fallen in love. Krass is also in love but just can’t find a way to throw himself into the relationship fully when sexual satisfaction remains aloof.

The film reflects attitudes by some men towards women and the way in which they can end up accepting whatever is thrown at them because of being driven by other motivators. A kind of Stockholm Syndrome, I guess. The film is all in French with subtitles, but there’s really not a massive amount of dialogue. The music is interesting for sure, with sequences accompanied by banjo, slightly mistuned piano - with the setting of a hot, dusty, rural France in summer, it has the feel of a Western about it.

The actors, especially Birkin, do really well as they portray this savage story. She’s very pretty and the viewer really gets onside with her, rooting for a positive outcome for her, which seem mostly throughout the film very unlikely to arrive. In the middle of all this, a very young-looking Gerard Depardieu pops up in a cameo and there’s a bizarre ‘Saturday Night Dance’ sequence which turns from a dance into a striptease competition for the local girls, orchestrated by the decidedly seedy-behaving Boris!

I’m not sure that I get all the tones and underlying messages or themes going on here from Gainsbourg but it certainly was a very interesting watch and if you can stomach the abuse, sexual activity and nudity, there’s a sad and sweet story here at the core, which Birkin portrays extremely competently.

The Last Vermeer (2019)

This is a Dan Friedkin (Dunkirk) film based on the true story (and 2008 book, The Man Who Made Vermeers by Jonathan Lopez) of Han Van Meegeren who was an artist living in occupied Holland throughout WWII and now, post-war, being accused of collaborating and conspiring with the Nazis.

Guy Pearce (The Infernal Machine) plays the artist superbly well in every respect as he camps about like he’s Oscar Wilde with fancy speech, attire and looks. Claes Bang plays Joseph Piller, a (Jewish) soldier charged with the task of reclaiming art treasures stolen by the Nazis and weeding out Dutch people who have sold it to them during the war - and Van Meegeren falls within his radar during his investigations. It becomes clear though that some Dutch government officials have their own ideas about the actions of the military and want to do things their own way, with an apparent agenda of their own - wanting the world to leave them to their own devices.

There’s lots of evidence growing against Van Meegeren but Piller becomes convinced that he’s actually innocent and ends up protecting the man against abuse from the public and the other officials as he takes up his case. In the end, he engages a lawyer and takes the case to court where he tries to demonstrate the innocence of the flamboyant artist at the centre.

It’s very nicely shot, directed and produced as the slow start gathers pace and never lets up really until the finale, when all is revealed and we find out the truth of the matter. Or do we? I guess some dramatic licence has been taken and it’s not all exactly as history would have it, but certainly it looks like the main characters existed and core hub of the story is based on the truth of the matter.

Certainly worth a look as it’s well acted and presented, makes for a compelling story and Guy Pearce commands throughout. Recommended.

Blood & Gold (2023)

If you’ve seen Sisu recently, you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect here! It’s a modern-day Western set at the tail end of WWII. We join the story when an SS troop is doling out their own style of justice to a soldier who has been caught deserting (even though the war is clearly over). The soldier escapes and heads for shelter in a country shack inhabited by a young woman and her brother with learning disabilities.

The troop happen upon them there whilst looking for supplies as they try to find gold, allegedly hidden somewhere in a village by the locals. They go about brutally treating the locals to find clues as to where it is, so they can get rich and flee.

In the meantime, they snatch the young woman (for the pleasure of the senior officer) and out hero is out to rescue her, stop the troop from their bad deeds and doll out some punishment of his own in the process! It’s complete bloody mayhem and chaos from start to finish, though with more of a storyline than Sisu.

The senior officer is not really very convincing. He looks like an actor who has been made up to look as menacing as possible (with face-mask and all hiding half a hideous face beneath) but isn’t quite pulling it off. The job, that is - not the mask! The actor used just doesn’t look nasty enough and is unable to hold himself in the remarkable way that Christoph Waltz did as the officer in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, chilling the viewer to the bone. Still, I guess there was a much smaller budget here!

Anyway, our soldier’s family has been killed except for his daughter who he needs ultimately to rescue. In the process, there’s a kind of half-baked love story going on as the chemistry develops between him and the young girl. All of this is just a cloak really to distract from the violence and disaster going on around the characters culminating in a ludicrously over-the-top showdown (High Noon?) and bloody finale before we find out if there’s a Hollywood Ending or not!

It’s all good fun, worth a watch - it’s in German, so with dubbing or subtitles (at least if you watch it on Netflix) - but don’t expect too much quality! A good romp, as they say. Apparently it’s called ‘Nazisplotation’ (like Sisu) where none of it matters as it’s ‘only’ Nazi soldiers being blitzed, suggestion being that they’re not people. A debate for another day.

Stuff on my Phone that I Don't Use (or Want)

Is it annoying that all the bells’n’whistles in a Samsung phone/device are there, using resources up, when one has no interest in using them. If so, what does a person do? Force yourself to use facilities that you have no interest in using to make you feel that the use of Phone A or Phone B is justified? Find and use a phone where you are using all the features on offer?

So, let's focus on devices/systems where I use, let's say, at least most of the features on offer…or maybe not…

Sony Xperia devices have four main features that, presumably make it cost so much - Music Pro, Cinema Pro, Video Pro, Photo Pro. And I have no interest in using any of them, beyond testing for review purposes.
So what's left?
Too much - for that jolly psychology?
LED Notification Light (which is going away in next generation).
3.5mm audio-out - nice, but in reality I rarely use use.
128GB limit on the 5 Mk.IV is annoying (even with microSD there).
Shutter button is nice for those who take photos.
Speakers are good, but I have better on other phones.
Dynamic Vibration is nice, too, but hardly deal breaking/making.

Ready For is great fun to play with (though not critical these days with super connectivity).
A clean UI - yes, I appreciate that.
The Motorola ‘extras’ I do make wide use of, too, like chop-chop torch and 3-finger screen-shot.
I do make use of Fast Charging (sometimes).
I do use Peek Display (though this looks like it could be disappearing going forward) and like their fonts - particularly ‘Square’.

Even heading back to the Mothership, I find that Google are running away with services I don't use in the real-world, beyond testing.
All that AI-everything.
Take that Call Screening - I used that once!
Hold for me - I rarely make phone calls.
Direct my call - ditto.
Wait times - ditto.
All that stuff inside camera/Photos - well, only to test and wow for 5mins.
Now Playing, yes I do use this.
Speech to text - hate speaking to inanimate objects!
Copy/paste text anywhere - rarely.
Android Auto - don't have a car.
Maps - don't go anywhere.
Split screen - never use (on candybar).
Universal Search/Search my device (like Apple's I guess) - never use it.
App Suggestions - turned off.
Quick Tap on the back - I forget it's there!
Recorder App with translation and transcription - never use it.
Google Assistant (Hey G) - never use it beyond testing/reviewing.
Personal safety app - it's for other people!
The list goes on - the stuff that Google provides that I don't use.
Everything with Google is about AI these days and in a different way, I feel that I'm using as much of all that as I do Samsung or Sony stuff - very little.

I do make use of Good Lock (for all sorts of things).
I do make use of Stacking Widgets (or whatever they are called).
I do make use of Edge Panels.
AoD is the best, so I use that to the full.
Galaxy Theming, Icons, Store, Pay, Cloud, I avoid them all (and more).
I do make use of the control over UI elements, for sure.
I like how Sammy is more in bed with Google and Microsoft than ever before.
I like the fast updates.
I don't ever touch Bixby, Free, Flow.
It's annoying to have to Force Stop and Disable their own Apps.
It’s annoying not knowing where controls are (though the search is good - and Pixel is becoming similar these days anyway).

Coming Close
What comes closest to the simple life then?
Probably a Nokia or FairPhone - something akin to AndroidOne - but then it’s so stripped back that I feel like I miss out on much.
There's no pleasing some people!
It’s the Samsung and Pixel which are stacked with stuff (hardware and/or software and/or services) I don’t use.
Oh for the simple life!

My ‘Too Much’ Percentages…
Moto 20%
Sony 40%
Pixel 60%
Samsung 80%

So is it OK to have a phone and not use 75% of what it can do?
Part of the issue here is that mobile phones are supposed to be mobile.
And I'm not!
So I continue to find that because I'm mostly static, I have other devices that do the same jobs, nearly always better.
I would say that since about the age of 23 (1986) I have done everything I can to be behind a full-size keyboard with mouse and big display, connected to the internet or not.
Sharp IQ Organisers, Psions, Ipaq, Windows Mobile, GameBoys, handheld devices and so on have always been secondary - including, now, phones, tablets - interesting playthings.
And I still do.
Don't get me wrong - I love the playthings, but the more time goes on, the more I realise that I'm not really using them to anything like their potential and they are, just that, for me - toys.

The Benefits of the Walled Garden

I’m talking about the ones employed by (mainly) Samsung and Apple (in my smartphone-driven world). Where hardware and software tends to work together as long as the user accepts the ‘closed’ nature of what’s going on, looks at what others are doing from afar - and feels secure in the knowledge that everything, well, most things, just work!

I don’t have any Apple gear. I dipped my toe in the water some years back and didn’t like it much. My life was, since 2004/2008 all Google/Android. I have tried really hard to be satisfied with the Nexus/Pixel/ChromeOS life but missing features and seeing what Samsung do, sometimes draw me away and down another path. I can understand at times like this why people get stuck into Apple stuff (or Samsung) and don’t come out.

I have recently been having my annual toe-in-the-water with Samsung and have to hand a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra on One UI 6, a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S8. There is something compelling about how they just all work together for the benefit of the user - and I have to admit, that it draws me in!

As with any system, there are niggles - but with Samsung and Android, the user can often get round them. An example being the size of the icons/text in the Status Bar - which with One UI I think is too small. I can’t find any way to change that except to use Nova (or some other) Launcher or App someone has cooked up instead. But these instances are rare. Usually there’s a workaround with Samsung. The depth of system controls is exhaustive - and only made deeper by the inclusion of Good Lock (Samsung’s virtual lab) where even more stuff can be tweaked.

It’s not all good, of course. There’s all the Samsung services pushed at the user, like Bixby, Samsung Pay, doubling up of PIM apps, the sometimes confusing Galaxy Store (which can’t seem to work neatly with Google’s Play Store and allows crossover of updating apps) to mention a few - but for those willing to really reside inside the walled garden, well, because it’s Android perhaps a walled garden with a gate, these issues become side-issues and the user enjoys the benefits. And I’m sure that’s mainly true for Apple users, too.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of October 2023

...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 769 - Much ado about Nothing...2
Sunday 1st October
Steve and I are joined by Joe Hickey this week. We get his view on his current crop of devices - Xperia, Pixel - and some App Suggestions. We also take a first look at the Nothing Phone 2 and Steve considers why his iPhone 14 Pro Max is better than the new 15! Plenty more besides, so do tune in.

Tech Addicts Podcast
OneDrive Woes
Sunday 1st October
Gareth and I are back again this weekend, wading through waves of Windows, Watches and Websites! Tons of tomfoolery as usual, from Anker to Zoom (well, Xiaomi anyway) and much between. Do drop in and join us - available from the usual haunts...

or Room
Episode 147 - Venetian Waltz
Wednesday 4th October
Allan, Gareth and I are back again for a couple of hours of natter about all things film, cinema and TV. Lots of goodies as always - we head for Venice and a Vivarium, Toxic Reptile and focus on Christoph Waltz. So open your Big Eyes and feast 'em!

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 770 - Windows 11 on an Eight Year Old Phone
Saturday 7th October
Mike Warner joins Steve and I this week and tells us how he blended the old with the new via techno-trickery! We also natter about the new Pixels and decipher Google's 'update promise' - then talk folding, diets and tree-lopping.

Whatever Works
Episode 195 - Mucky Duck Pluck!
Wednesday 11th October
...starring Aidan as a spoonful of coffee grounds, myself as a large Sticky Toffee Pudding too heavy for an e-Bike, a small rodent called Grizelda with eczema and a colour-blind alien seeing the world in yellow at bedtime! Plenty of fun, so get stuck in and join us for an hour - it's available in the usual places!

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 771 - In Search of the Perfect 2-in-1
Saturday 14th October
Steve and I welcome Shane Craig back this week as we natter for an hour about all things folding, mostly, getting his take on the Pixel Fold, Samsung folders, Surface Duo dualers(!), OnePlus Open and much more! Time for a bunch of the regular stuff too, so do join us.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Barisieur Bed Partners
Sunday 15th October
Gareth and I are back again with another (record-breakingly long) weekend natter about all things techy! A snappy Leica, heavy laptop, apps on watches, smaller consoles, old consoles, new Chromebooks - and loads more. Do join us!

or Room
Episode 148 - Reptile Creator
Wednesday 18th October
Allan, Gareth and I are back with another roundup of all things film, cinema and TV. This time we close in on Morgan Freeman in Themed Treats, end up going Nowhere in Private Screening via The Deep Blue Sea and rely on Dead Reckoning to scoop up much more, from us and you!

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 772 - Folks and Folds
Saturday 21st October
Long-time PSC supporter Carlos Anzola met Steve in the pub the other day and shared his thoughts on all things mobile, which Steve recorded and adds here. There's another audio drop-in from Mike Warner on chip-manufacturing shifts, whilst Steve and I natter about the Pixel Fold, Surface Duo 2, OnePlus Open and a ton of other stuff.

Phones Sho
w Chat
Episode 773 - Synth in your Pocket
Saturday 28th October
Steve and I welcome Alan Webb this week. We find out what devices he's using and get his thoughts on the current (and past) state of all things mobile. I'm wielding the Sony Xperia 1 Mk.IV, comparing with my 5 Mk.IV, Steve's rounding up his Pixel Fold coverage and also steps back into Surface Duo Land.

Tech Addicts Podcast
AI Riley Reid
Sunday 29th October
Gareth and I are back with our fortnightly roundup of all things tech that we fancy showing you that we know little about! This time it's robotic filth, live crashes, solar-this and silica-that, retro-tastic Walkman-a-like and oodles more tripe. So join us, why not!

The Podcasts
PodHubUK - Phones Show Chat - The Phones Show - Whatever Works - Chewing Gum for the Ears - Projector Room - Tech Addicts

Abigail (2024)

A bunch of lowly hoods are brought together in the typical nobody-knows-each-other style, not supposedly sharing anything about themselves, ...