All posts by Matthias Scheler

Movie of the Week: Pacific Rim

As a kid I loved movies with giant monsters, in particular films with Godzilla. My favourite among those movies was Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which featured a fight between giant monsters and a giant robot. After seeing the first trailer for Pacific Rim I was hoping for a modern version of these monster movies with up-to-date special effects.

In Pacific Rim humanity is under attack by giant sea monsters, known as Kaiju. Every time one of them emerges from the Pacific Ocean it causes massive loss of life and destruction when it reaches populated areas. As conventional weapons like tanks and fighter planes don’t prove very effective against the Kaiju humanity builds giant robots, called Jägers, to defend itself. This plan proves effective for several years until the increased frequency and size of the Kaijus slowly wear down the Jäger forces. When it is clear that humanity is losing the war the commander of the pilots of the Jägers pulls together the remaining working robots and the surviving pilots to launch one final assault. His plan is to close the portal at the bottom the Pacific Ocean through which the Kaiju get to Earth. But it is a desperate plan which has been attempted before and has always failed.

Pacific Rim is exactly what I was hoping for: a lot action and excellent special effects. The Kaiju are fast and maneuverable and look nothing like the rubber monsters of the past. In between the action there is still room for the human aspects of the story: a washed-up Jäger pilot who gets a second chance, mad scientists which try to unravel the mysteries of the enemy and a rookie pilot who wants to prove herself and avenge the death of her family. Fortunately the story is told without the military pathos that you often find in apocalyptic movies.

If you like action movies you probably want to watch this movies, if you like giant monster movies you must watch it. I definitely got what I was hoping for. 🙂

Finally Faster Internet

Two years ago I complained that British Telecom haven’t upgraded the exchange that our house is connected to for over five years. Unsurprisingly BT  still haven’t upgraded the exchange during the last two years. Recently however TalkTalk another major British telecommunication provider connected the local exchange to their broadband network. This didn’t immediately help us because we wouldn’t want to use their residential service as TalkTalk offer neither static IPv4 addresses nor IPv6.

But fortunately AAISP have recently started to sell their Internet service over TalkTalk ADSL connections. As a first step AAISP moved all their customers that were like us still stuck with BT 20CN (British Telecom’s old ATM based broadband network) ADSL1 connections to TalkTalk ADSL2+ connections for free. The migration of our broadband connection went off without a hitch. After a downtime of about 15 minutes my Internet connection was almost twice as fast as before.

Unfortunately however it turned out that our Cisco router doesn’t support ADSL2+ very well. It was able to establish a connection to the exchange fine but dropped it about once every half hour followed by a downtime of several minutes. In the end I had no choice and bought an external ADSL modem. Considering that I can use neither the Cisco’s WiFi  (no IPv6 support, only 802.11g) nor its ADSL interface I’m seriously considering to replace the router. A NetBSD machine could move packets between ethernet interface just fine, would have a more flexible and powerful firewall and wouldn’t require a support contract to download software updates. The Cisco 870 product line is also end of life which makes me wonder how much longer my old router will be supported.

Last Wednesday our Internet connection was updated again on my request. It is now operating in Annex M mode which more than doubled our upload bandwidth. But there were again technical problems at the beginning. Our new modem wouldn’t establish a connection to the exchange before we reconfigured it from Multimode (automatic detection) to ADSL2+ annex M.

Altogether I’m very happy with the update: a lot more bandwidth for the same amount of money. 🙂

Movie of the Week: Star Trek Into Darkness

Four years ago Paramount Pictures successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise. J.J. Abrams‘s movie Star Trek raised the bar with more speed, action and drama than in any Star Trek film made before. Silke and I were therefore really looking forward to the sequel.

Star Trek Into Darkness tells the next chapter  of the adventures of the original Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk. After two devastating terror attacks on the Federation Kirk and the Enterprise are sent to hunt down the former Starfleet agent John Harrison, the man behind the attacks. During this manhunt the crew of the Enterprise is pulled into a dangerous conspiracy which could cost their lives and lead to a galactic war.

As its prequel Star Trek Into Darkness features action, drama and bits of comedy at a high pace. But there is still room for character development and good acting. I was particularly impressed with Benedict Cumberbatch who gives an excellent performance as John Harrison, the movie’s main antagonist. His character is ruthless, cunning and charismatic. Long term Star Trek fans will also like the homage to the original TV series and movies. Star Trek Into Darkness tells one of the original stories in a new and exciting way. The movie even re-enacts one of the most memorable scenes but with a new twist to it. All in all Star Trek Into Darkness is as brilliant as its predecessor and definitely worthwhile watching.

I really hope for another Star Trek movie with the new old crew, even if J.J. Abrams is busy with the new Star Wars movies.