Fixing Draw Something…

There’s been a lot of discussion around Draw Something and Zynga’s purchase of the game.  Forbes recently reported that the game saw a 5M drop in Daily Active Users.   This is a problem but Forbes seem to focus mainly on the belief that users are tired of the game.  Gigaom has a more complete review with the acknowledgement that there are some technical issues with the game and the transition to the Zynga hosting.  I think the article down plays the issue and I think the following need to be addressed:

  1. Stability.  I know several people with the game that are completely unable to play or load it.  The game just crashes and they can’t play at all.  They don’t receive notifications and the game is unusable.  A quick search on Twitter shows several people suffering from this problem and it seems to effect the free version more than the paid version. 

Romanian NewWave Cinema

Last night was the Romanian NewWave Cinema’s first film night at the University of Toronto. The night consisted of 6 short films with one longer feature film. All the films were shown in Romanian with English subtitles. I had never seen any Romanian films so it was an interesting night to see some of the different aspects of Romanian culture. I went with my friends Alex and Iuliana. Alex was convinced that is not possible to have a happy ending in Romanian films and none of the films shown disappointed this expectation. I’ve never been a huge fan of short films because I find that it takes more than 10-15mins to develop good characters and I’m also interested in interesting characters.

So for me the highlight of the night was the Marilena from P7 film. The film is a very interesting portrayal of life and the dialog, even with the English translation shows a lot of the grit of living in large Romanian cities. The film focuses on a group of boys, lead by Andrei, who believes he’s in love with one of prostitutes he sees in his neighbourhood.

Play Review: DYAD @ Fringe 07

I’ve been following the Praxis Theatre group for awhile mainly because of Laura Nordin’s involvement. I’ve attended their reading series in the spring and was exited when their annouced DYAD as part of Fringe Festival this year. If you’re not familar with the Fringe Festival is a collection of smaller/independent plays that take place around Toronto. The DYAD is being presented at the George Ignatieff Theatre on the University of Toronto campus. Its a combination of 2 acts that take advantage of the outdoor aspects of the theatre location.

The first act features 2 male characters who meet up rather randomly over cigarettes. The dialogue and delivery were great and both Glen McDonald and David Tomp played their roles well. The combination of the outdoor scene was great and it was easy to visualize the scene happening almost anywhere.

The second act moved the play into the theatre and set the scene between student, Laura Nordin, and teacher, Marget Evans. Again the group used the space well with Laura starting her delivery from within the crowd and then moving onto the stage. The tension between the student and teacher seemed to develop well but wasn’t well supported by the dialogue. I think a clearer dialogue would have allowed both actresses to further developer their characters. The death of the student is the climax of the scene was the best part of the act.

Movie Review: Sicko

Michael Moore movies have been a favourite of mine since watching Roger & Me years ago with my dad. He has a great ability to connect with people and provide a direct response to their indignities but I felt that his last movie, was too sensational. I like Michael Moore when he’s using other people to bring across his message and he does a much better job in Sicko. He brings home the problems with the US medical system but interview people most effected by the problem and soliciting requests from the public their own experiences with the different levels of HMO’s, medical insurance and hospital regulations. It was hear about the many situations where good medical service just wasn’t available or affordable.

It really made me proud to be Canadian and take alot of pride in our decision to provide universal health care coverage. Even with the problems of universal health care coverage I know of very few situations where it has let individuals down when it was needed. There may be long waits for less urgent surgery but I believe that more emergency situations are handled well and we are well

Movie Review: Transformers

I grew up with Transformers and after Starwars they were probably the childhood brand that I could identity with the most. Most Saturday mornings featured Transformers and G.I.Joe back to back but the Transformers were much better at merchandising their cartoon and I ended up with many of the toys. So needless to say I was excited to be going to see the new Transformers movie 15 years later.

The movie starts off well with the Decepticons attacking a base in Qatar. With the element of surprise its not really clear why the Decepticons would choose Qatar as their primary target with its well established military presence but it did provide an excellent opportunity to advertise/promote the US forces in the middle east and all major services, Army, Navy and Airforce go some create coverage. After the main attack the movie kinda fell apart for me. For some reason the movie seemed to focus more on the development of human characters like an Army Captain stationed in Qatar and the relationship between Sam and Mikeala. The movie is very long and the scene with the Autobots climbing around Sam’s house was brutal and

Movie Review: Live Free or Die Hard ( Diehard 4 )

Its been awhile since I’ve seen a Bruce Willis film and he as reputation for delivering great action movies. Live Free or Die Hard sure doesn’t disappoint in the action category with some amazing stunts and an action packed plot line. As someone who’s worked in network security and followed the field for awhile it the plot was quite interesting with the bad guys taking over most major computer networks. I thought the interesting part about was this was that rather than relying on some new computer/technology or even aliens, they recruited hackers from around the world to attack components of the computer network. There are many instances where the networks attacked in the movie just wouldn’t be publicly available but I guess thats just Hollywood.

My only complaint with the movie was the number of cheezy moments between the 2 main characters. I’m not really sure the message these scenes were trying to convey but they didn’t come off well at all. There one scene while they are driving to Baltimore that was almost unbearable. Luckily the action keeps the movie fast paced and there are many sequences that were a surprise

Really Hotdocs

Hotdocs 2007 is on next week, if you not familiar with HotDocs, it’s a documentary film festival in Toronto. The line of films looks great and Hotdocs.ca is really well done. It really makes the Toronto International Film Festival site look dated. The site has some great social features too:

  • ability to create you own movie schedule online ( awesome )
  • the site stores all your picks and shows you the times, theaters and lets you buy tickets instantly
  • shows you how many other people have picked the same movie ( ie which will be busy/popular )
  • write reviews on any movie you’ve seen
  • publish a blog about the festival ( blogger only unfortunately)

Probably the best feature is the virtual waiting room. Anyone that has tried to access a popular ticketing site has experience the site crashing etc… No more with the virtual waiting room. It handles the rush of people and automatically connects you when the site can handle your purchase.

If the festival is anywhere as good as the Hotdocs.ca site is going to be awesome. The geeks have done well.

My own film schedule is as follows:

Fri, Apr 20

Movie Review : Children of Men

I saw Children of Men a few weeks ago and I still think about it often. If you’re not familiar with the movie the premise is that the birth rate has dropped to zero and there hasn’t been a baby is years. Nobody is really sure why people can no longer conceive but the world is in chaos as result. The movie insists that the worlds economies would collapse without a new generation to buy goods/services. I’ve love to see further investigation of this economic situation. Are we really dependent on procreation to fund our economies?

The only country still standing is the UK and they have strict immigration controls as a result, with camps of illegal immigrants around the country. The movie is very bleak but tells a great story of hope in the worst conditions. The camera work is also amazing with many first person perspectives on the action. Its been awhile since I’ve seen a move provocative and intelligence as the Children of Men.

NewMindSpace Subway Parties

NewMindSpace at TransitCampNewMindSpace presented their Subway Parties at TransitCamp and their experience with organizing parties on public transport. Subway parties have been around for awhile but they’ve been using the web and technology to organize them. They try to provide limited notice of the party to avoid more than 250 people filling a subway car. They also get on the last train to avoid causing problems for people and bring a portable music system. They’ve also organized the Pirates of the Street Car party. You can see the Ridethereindeer subway party and with video. I’ve followed a few other there events and I’ve always been impressed with how many people they get out to their events.

Movie Review : The Last King of Scotland

I saw my first movie of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival last night. Its was ‘The Last King of Scotland” by Kevin McDonald and tells the story of Idi Amin’s doctor in Uganda. The doctor is from Scotland, and fresh out of medical school. It shows how their relationship evolves and the fate of the country changes during the 1970s. I thought the film could have used a little more editing but its a great story and I hope it gets wide distribution.

Toronto International Film Festival

Tonight is the start of the Toronto International Film Festival. As always getting tickets to the shows is a bit of a disaster. From what I can see there are several options each with its advantages:

1/ Purchase Gala Tickets

You get to see all the big movies but you don’t get to pick you movies and you may end but with bad seats if alot of corporate sponsors show up. Most of the Gala movies end up getting mainstream releases so you’re really just seeing them sooner.

2/ Visa Screening Tickets

Similar to the Gala tickets except you pick a time slot for the week. For example you can purchase 6pm or 9pm all week but you do not get to pick you movies. The Visa screening tickets seem to be a little less main stream from the Gala movies so you should see some interesting movies that would not be release otherwise.

3/Ticket Books

You can purchase a book of tickets and submit your movie tickets. It would seem that this whole selection process must be done manually ( sheet of paper ) and submitted to the TIFF office. Not a very easy process and you are

Amenglish

Apparently the english I use is 60% General American English. I found this site through a friend that lets you categorizes you english language habits. I haven’t found anything with a more international slant..

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English
20% Yankee
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
5% Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?