Friday, August 22, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Sad to say, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a letdown. The Star Wars saga is a thread running through my life, spanning from my teenage enthusiasm for science fiction, galactic empires and space travel to my middle-aged enthusiasm for world history, the Roman Empire and politics, so I feel a real connection to the characters, the story of their lives and the universe they inhabit. But this latest film just doesn't generate the "gee-whiz" feeling I got when I saw the first Star Wars film (Episode IV: A New Hope) in 1977, or the rich, dramatic overtones and sense of "closing the circle" projected in the last film, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Cinematically, the lighting, camera angles and timing of Clone Wars evoked the style of the '40s cliffhangers from which a young George Lucas derived the whole Star Wars oeuvre. I especially liked the artist's-brush-like textures of the surfaces, and the almost sculptural feel of the character's facial expressions. The droids, even though we've seen them depicted in lifelike CG in the preceding three episodes, came across with the airbrushed sheen of '50s sci-fi star Robbie the Robot, especially the dwarf spider and super battle droids.
But the story line was thin and the plot ridiculously childish, especially after the high drama of Anikin's transformation into Darth Vader in Episode III. The story boils down to a long, drawn out sequence of battle scenes that revolve around rescuing Jabba the Hutt's grotesquely endearing child.
Where are the grand galaxy-spanning themes and character development of the previous episodes? The character of Asoka, the four-foot nothing Padawan "youngling" who tags after Anikin, is his guilty conscience annoyingly brought to life - "But remember, Sky Guy, your duty is to rescue this ugly but adorable Hutt baby..." or words to that effect. Asajj Ventress, who is perhaps Darth Maul's second cousin, reminded me of the Evil Queen in Disney's Snow White, but with a handy double-bladed light-saber.
Oh well, my 11-year old and his pal got a few giggles out of the baby Hutt's facial mugging. He'll probably turn up as a Burger King kid's meal prize. Let's hope not.
Ruby on Rails is a big framework, with hundreds (thousands?) of methods and classes. Thanks to the clever folk at Nodeta, their new documentation app APIdock provides an easy-to-use search/browse interface to the whole of Rails documentation. To quote the site:
APIdock is a web app that provides a rich and usable interface for searching, perusing and improving the documentation of projects that are included in the app.
The versions bar graph along the top of each documentation page lets you "go back in time" to past versions of the documentation, by clicking on the version number. The green and red tabs indicate when and by how much the documentation changed for that version, which is handy when you're trying to figure out just when and in what way a particular method was changed or deprecated:
The dynamic keyword search displays a "find as you type" drop-down list from which you can select the relevant documentation page. A little pie graph icon, divided into five wedges, indicates by the number of filled-in wedges how much information is available for each item:
So for example there's a lot of information about the form_for helper, but very little about the apply_form_for_options! helper. If you get as lost in Rails as I do, or you're just wondering what is the difference between form_remote_for and remote_form_for (hint: the former is an alias for the latter).