Daily Archives:December 9th, 2007


Miro (formerly known as Democracy Player) is like an iTunes for Video. It lets you subscribe to channels (which are RSS feeds with video enclosures). But iTunes does video, and video podcasts, and does them reasonably well, especially if you install a few extra codecs in your Quicktime.

So why bother with Miro? Well, it’s interesting partly because of a few extra features – some nice searching capabilities, and integration with YouTube and Google Video, for example – but mostly because it’s Open Source. No DRM here, and it will run on Windows, Mac and Linux. It looks good, too… not an attribute one often associates with Open Source.

Could Miro be to iTunes what Firefox is to Internet Explorer? Worth watching…

Compressed Dust

The Golden Compass

We saw The Golden Compass tonight. I’m a fan of the Philip Pullman books, and so was looking forward to this first instalment, but I knew it would have to be toned down somewhat and would be quite a challenge to bring to the screen, so I was also prepared to be disappointed.

In fact, I think they did rather a good job, and it would have been splendid but for one major problem: It should have been at least one and a half times as long. Everything, I felt, was exceedingly rushed. They had already simplified things for a younger audience — I really think the books are aimed more at adults — but an hour and three quarters was still too short for any detailed explanation of, or subtlety in, what was left. The Harry Potter films were given much more footage in which to develop infinitely inferior stories, and the second Pirates of the Caribbean was long enough for me to fall asleep at least twice.

Still, the effects here were impressive, the casting was good, and I certainly enjoyed it. Other young children will no doubt feel the same!

Perhaps the Lord of the Rings has spoiled me; Pullman is certainly no Tolkien, but New Line has shown what can be done with good stories if you have an extra hour or two to play with. In the end, I imagine, this was a more risky project, so the level of funding probably wasn’t the same, and there’s enough CGI that the costs must have been heavily dependent on the length.

But I hope they at least follow the LOTR model in producing a dramatically extended version for the DVD.

Night shift


Kings Parade, Cambridge

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser