LOST: The Finale May 26th, 2010
So yesterday I caught up with the finale instalment of Lost, like many others I was hoping to have all of my questions answered; but I was sadly disappointed. For those of you who hoped for a believable explanation to the alternate-reality dilemma… well, disappointment doesn’t even cover it.
It all began as the last episode ended, with a newly Jacob’ed Jack standing in the river. Though he didn’t feel any different, he seemed to know exactly what he needed to do. So he called his friends – Sawyer, Hurley and Kate – into action. Sawyer went off in search of Desmond who was thought to be at the bottom of a well while Kate and Hurley followed Jack to the heart of the island, on a mission to protect it from Smokey. Sawyer’s search ended before it had even begun however, rather than finding everyone’s favourite electromagnetically resistant friend, he found Smokey and Ben discussing their plan over an empty well. Sawyer escaped back to Jack after guessing Smokey’s new destroy-the-island-using-Desmond plan and left Smokey and Ben to continue their search.
As for Desmond he was enjoying the company of his rescuers Rose, Bernard and the infamous Vincent the dog. As if to explain their complete absence from all things plot related over the previous season, Rose told Desmond that she and Bernard had broke their cardinal rule by rescuing him. The rule basically consists of staying out of everyone else’s dramas and keeping themselves to themselves. With that, Smokey arrives. It wasn’t long before Smokey threatens to kill them if Desmond didn’t follow him to the glowing light in the centre of the island; needless to say good old Desmond agreed so long as he gave his word that he would never harm them, ever.
Soon Jack and his gang once again joined by Sawyer, met up with Smokey, Ben and Desmond. I thought an epic battle would begin but no, Jack didn’t see the need for it. Instead he suggested that he, Smokey and Ben make the trip to the centre of the island alone.
It seems Smokey’s plan to destroy the island meshed pretty nicely with Jack’s plan to destroy Smokey, so they decided to cooperate instead by helping Desmond down into the light in the cave at the centre of the island. Once down there Desmond somehow knew to pull the stone cork out of a shimmering pool, which turned off the all-important light and triggered a load of earthquakes which would ultimately destroy the island and see it fall into the ocean. The result left a smug Smokey believing that he was the winner. It left Jack believing it was finally the right time to destroy Smokey so he attacks him. Finally, a bit of action.
It would seem for Jack that there was a huge advantage by turning off the light; it also turned off the islands magic. Smokey was now flesh and blood, with an emphasis on the latter once Jack set to town on him. Jack attempted to choke Smokey but he fought back and stabbed Jack.
As if by magic, Kate appeared out of nowhere and shot Smokey (ironically telling him she had saved a bullet for him after earlier in the episode, him telling her that bullets did not harm him so she should save them). That’s right, just as the fight was really getting going Kate stepping in and cut it short once again showing who wore the trousers. In Jack’s defence, he did get one final kick in and sent Smokey plummeting over the cliff to his death. But there was still work to be done, if the island was ever going to stop rumbling, someone needed to put the cork back into the source and stop the earthquakes, restoring the islands magical powers. Jack volunteers, obviously.
Jack urges his friends to leave; after all, Frank (who amazingly survived the sub explosion), Richard and Miles planned to fly away on the plane. Sawyer and Kate decided to go, but Hurley and Ben stayed with Jack. Just before Jack plunged into the same hole that Desmond climbed down into, he prepares a special muck-water drink for Hurley. It was the big guys turn to be the new Jacob (or should that be Jack-ob?). The ‘dude’ would now protect the island and thanks to his kind nature, Ben would get a second chance at being the leader’s right-hand man. Personally, I would have shot him. Once at the bottom, Jack spots Desmond and helps him to safety by attaching him to the rope so Hurley and Ben could pull him up before grabbing the cork and replacing it, thus self-sacrificing himself to the island.
No, not really.
It’s a shame really as if that had been the end it would have kind of made sense. It would have been a typical TV closure to all of the island action. Sure, it would have left a lot of questions unanswered and we would have been left wondering about the alternate realty glimpses we had been seeing all season, but as is often the case, sometimes it’s better not to know the answers than be given them and be disappointed. In fairness to the alternate reality world, it had its moments. A rapid fire series of ‘aha’ moments, but still, they went someway to explaining why the alternate reality world existed, and of course left viewers needing a box of tissues adding to the build up of the finale.
There was the moment Juliet administered Sun’s ultrasound and triggered the Kwons other-life memories. Sniff. Or when Sayid attempted to rescue a seemingly random woman only to touch her hand and instantly know she was none other than his island-love, Shannon. Sniff. Or when Kate helped Claire deliver Aaron and suddenly knew everything, and then Claire touched Aaron and remembered everything, and then Charlie touched Claire and… You get the idea. Sniff, sniff and more sniff.
Locke had his own somewhat less tear-jerking solo flash after Jack completed his operation. A wiggle of the toes brought to mind another lifetime of mobility back on the island. Of course the big mind-reunions were saved for the members of the islands old love quadrangle.
For Sawyer and Juliet, it was simply a shared moment by a glowing vending machine, they went from strangers to passionate lovers in seconds; but then of course chocolate can have that effect. Then there was Jack, who despite multiple flashes of the other world kept trying to push back the memories. He even saw something when Locke had his own moment, but perhaps Locke’s insistence that Jack’s son, David, didn’t really exist inspired some denial for Jack. But you know what he couldn’t deny? Kate.
Although he still wasn’t ready to fully accept his former life, just a touch from Kate was enough to get him to tag along with the others to the big group get together she and the others had planned at the church. Not just any church either, this was the church where Oceanic had finally delivered Jack’s dads remains. So while Kate joins the others in the pews, Jack has some private time with his dad’s coffin. Of course it came as no surprise that Jack’s dad was not in the coffin. While Jack stood mourning his dad, a voice says ‘Hey, kiddo!’ and in the ensuing moments his dad explains exactly what the alternate reality actually was ; a place where jack and his pals created one big, post-mortem meet up. They were all actually dead. Jacks dad then open the church doors into the light.
That’s right, it wasn’t a different thread of reality as we were lead to believe created by the time-changing blast Daniel Faraday suggested. That would have made far too much sense. Instead, it was just some oddly plotted excuse for everyone to get together after their respected deaths but before they moved on to whatever follows.
What was the point of everything before that? What about all that alternate reality action? The alternate reality escapes and killings? Simple, there weren’t any.
Yes, really this time.
So what questions did the finale actually answer and what questions still remain? Here are a few questions that have been answered in one way or another, some conclusively and some with a little imagination:
- What happened actually happened. The plane crash, the polar bears, Jacob and the Hatch were all real people, places and things that the characters experienced
- The season 6 alternate reality however did not. The flashes represented a kind of waiting room for the characters to exist in until they were ready to move onto the next world together, whether that is heaven or somewhere else. The people who existed in the alternate reality world and the events that happened, such as Jack’s son or Ben’s teaching job, were not real
- Not every character died on the island. Sawyer, Kate, Miles, Richard and Frank all managed to fly off the island to finish living their lives. Kate’s line to Jack, ‘It’s been a really long time’ is a strong indication that she went on to have a long life after she left
- Hurley is the new Jacob. Jack assumed the job for just a few hours after Jacob died before passing the torch to Hurley, who kept it for the long haul. There’s the scene just outside the church where Ben and Hurley pat themselves on the back for doing such a good job, indicating they were a team who shared experiences for a long time
- The show it would seem was about Jack all along. Just as the pilot episode started with a shot of Jack opening his eyes, the finale ended with a shot of Jack closing his eyes. He began the journey as a broken man, but finished content. His dads final words in the last 10 minutes gave Jack the answers that he was looking for
But what still remains?
- Why couldn’t woman have babies on the island? There are a lot of theories, like radiation poisoning from the nuclear bomb or Jacob’s interference to get Juliet to the island, but the finale didn’t really explain anything
- What happened to Smokey? He wasn’t the man in black, because Jacob killed that man. He assumed the appearance of dead people, but then got trapped in Locke. Why? And what was so terrible about letting him escape the island? Why protect the island at all for that matter?
- What was the real role of the DHARMA Initiative? The island was supposed to be impossible to find so did Jacob orchestrate the whole thing? Why would he? If you remember, Ben Killed all the DHARMA people with the help of Richard (the ‘purge’) who in turn was working for Jacob
- How exactly does the corking and uncorking of the islands magic pool work? And why didn’t Jack turn into another Smokey once the water started filling the pool back up? Mother (i.e. Jacobs) warned us that the water was a fate worse than death; it seemed to turn the man in black into Smokey, and judging by Desmond’s screams it was painful to touch. Jack however, seemed just fine lying in the water as it filled back up
- Why did Oceanic 815 crash? Was it an accident or by design?
I for one am more confused after watching the finale than I was last week! There is a lot that has been left open to interpretation which is a shame; I’d have liked to have seen a more conclusive finale, answering all of the questions from the island, from the crash and the DHARMA Initiative right through Jacob and the ‘magical’ powers of the island. It’s almost as if the writers had writers block when scripting the final season; or had been too clever with the first few seasons to be able to make everything come together in a believable way.
On balance, I have enjoyed Lost but the finale? Well, that’s another matter…
BA Strike Action. The Saga Continues May 17th, 2010
I’m sat here watching the on-going battle between British Airways and Unite – the union representing the BA cabin crew – on Sky News. So as we all know, Unite members were due to start the first of their most recent bouts of strike action later this evening at midnight. BA have today sought an injunction at the High Court and have been granted this effectively ruling the strike action illegal as Unite did not follow the correct procedures during their most recent ballot (you’d have thought they would have learnt by now); so it got me thinking, just why are the cabin crew so against BA, after all BA pay their wages and in the current financial crisis I’d have thought they would have been glad of the job, especially as it’s the sort of job (I’d imagine) which they choose not only for financial gain, but also for the lifestyle and associated perks.
A quick search and I find this document on the Unite website outlining why they are striking. So, point for point here are my thoughts:
- “In November 2009, management imposed cuts in staffing levels that crew believe are damaging the airline’s standards as a premier carrier”
Well actually, isn’t that the managements job? I mean to look at its business model and operating costs and make cuts if necessary. Certainly, BA would not be the only company to have been forced to make budgetary costs during the recession. As for the cabin crew believing that the policy and reductions are damaging the airline’s standards as a premier carrier I have two thoughts. Firstly, that’s not your decision to make; you’re paid to do a job so get on and do it. Secondly, what standards? I refuse to fly long haul with BA as I feel the standards over the last 10 years have dropped significantly, not least owing to a large proportion of the cabin crew staff that I have found rude and inattentive compared with some of the newer airlines still in their infancy.
- “Staffing levels have been cut from four to three on the Euro-fleet, while long-haul crews have seen reductions of between one to three”
We’re in a recession, honestly what do people expect? Surely it’s better to reduce the staffing levels and maintain the operability of the airline? Or should they keep things as they are and wait for the company to go bust? I do feel for those affected, honestly I do but when the figures don’t add up changes need to be made, its basic business. The reduction in crew should not cause any problems in the real world but means simply that those lucky enough to keep their jobs have to work that little bit harder.
- “Unite members say that service is suffering because of these cuts”
Of course they do, otherwise they could not justify the industrial action. Regardless, based on my experiences and that of colleagues I would again argue what service? Perhaps if the cabin crew stopped counting how many colleagues were on the same plane and concentrated on serving the passengers albeit having to work that little bit harder, the service levels would organically improve. After all the biggest judge of service is the passenger, not the cabin crew. If the passenger feels that the service received was good they will return, the more passengers that return the more money the company will make and the staffing levels will no doubt return to where they ‘should be’. Surely by striking the service is suffering more?
- “This dispute can only be avoided if BA is prepared to make a serious attempt to find a negotiated settlement”
Actually it could all be avoided if the Unite members simply stop causing a problem and get on with what they are paid to do – their job.
- “The airline should start by putting the offer made during negotiations back on the table so that Unite can give members the right to accept or reject BA’s proposal. Unite is prepared to halt the strike while members are consulted and will stand by the crew’s decision. The ball is clearly in BA’s court”
Since when do people accept a job and then demand their own working conditions. No, sorry but you knew the deal when you joined, if you have to serve 3 passengers instead of 2 I’m sorry but that’s life. BA as a company has the right to change policy without asking your permission; I do not see how the cuts have a noticeable impact on your day to day roles apart from meaning you have to work a little harder. Just go ask a factory worker about hard work. Besides, re-read the statement. Whilst I am not sure of the exact circumstances it reads that Unite want BA to remake an offer that they have already made? If this is the case then why discount it when it was made, it’s not BA’s fault that you said no without even offering your members a chance to vote.
- “BA has been applying bullying tactics. British Airways’ management, under its boss Willie Walsh, has bullied and intimidated staff for months now. Over the last two months 38 workers who are union members have been suspended and now risk losing their jobs”
And no doubt if this were to be true they would have legal recourse through the courts. If there were clear undisputable evidence then why is Willie Walsh not facing charges? Unsubstantiated hearsay should not be a reason to cause strike action.
The document then goes on the list ‘The Facts’:
- “BA crew are not overpaid. 70% earn less than £20,000 per year”
I don’t understand what this has to do with anything. Before signing a contract of employment salary is clearly outlined and accepted. Besides, as I mentioned before cabin crew largely are attracted to the role by the travel perks and benefits, which Unite conveniently play down. Let’s not forget the 1.52million people in the UK currently claiming Job Seekers Allowance; I’m sure they’d love to become cabin crew for the existing pay and conditions.
- “BA cabin crew are not mindless militants, they are highly trained professional who are proud of the BA brand. They do not believe that you can run a premier airline with too few crew”
I actually agree with this in part, I think it’s Unite who are the mindless militants in this case, not the cabin crew. As for being proud of the brand I simply have one question. If the cabin crew are so proud then why seek to damage the brand further? Why not instead work with the resources they have available to ensure its success. The way things are going I see no winners and that, ultimately, means more job losses.
- “Despite a year of talks BA has refused to listen to its cabin crew and has imposed cuts in crew numbers that seriously undermines the high service BA customers’ expect”
Of course this is subjective. I’m sure that there would have been opinion groups established to report to management the views of the cabin crew, it’s naïve to think that every employee would be able to have their thoughts listened to, but I fail to believe that they have not listened to any genuine concerns. The cuts that have been imposed have been done so to ensure the on-going survival of the airline. I’m sure that if the recession had not hit then this would not have happened but let’s be fair, you cannot blame BA for the recession.
It strikes me that this has got out of hand, I wonder if with the benefit of hindsight whether a lot of the cabin crew affected would have pushed this so hard. Ultimately the prospect of strike action is causing long lasted damage to BA; a lot of customers are simply not willing to take the risk and are booking with rival airlines. I for one don’t blame them.
Instead of the legal back and forth, I wish the courts would simply stop strike action and stop Unite from going round and round in circles, giving BA and the airline industry in general time to recover and rebuild after the recession. Of course on the flip side, perhaps BA should be seen to be being a little more approachable to its staff. Ultimately decisions are made for business reasons and I see no reason why this should not be the case but I’m sure they could work a little harder to justify their decisions with their employees and prevent so much animosity.
Now that’s off my chest, I think it’s time to change the channel, EastEnders has started ;)
First Android 2.2 Froyo Build Spotted May 11th, 2010
Could this be one of the first actual screenshots of the latest version of Android? If you believe what you see then it would seem that this screenshot shows us a working Android 2.2 (codenamed Froyo) build on a Nexus One. It comes at the end of a video which demonstrates the latest mobile version of Flash (Flash 10.1) being demonstrated by one of the Flash developers; the combination appears to work very well and would suggest perhaps that key Adobe employees and developers have been ‘given’ a copy of the latest incarnation of Android to test compatibility.
From the looks of the screenshot, Android 2.2 will bring us an updated Launcher, tutorial and global search box amongst other things. There are no official details yet but I look forward to hearing more news and the official list of changes from Google when they become available; which presumably will be revealed at Google I/O which starts later this month on May 19th. With Flash 10.1 rumoured to be released in June, I’d hope that Android 2.2 would be available to coincide with this. No doubt more details will be released soon.
Here’s the video demonstating Flash 10.1, for those wanting to ‘fast forward’ to the Android 2.2 screen, you’ll find it at the very end of the clip. Needless to say I will be keeping my eye on XDA over the coming months. I’m more than happy with Android 2.1 but will for sure, try one of the custom ROMs incorporating Froyo when they become available which shouldn’t be too long if history repeats itself.
Using Lenovo Power Manager With Non Genuine Battery… May 9th, 2010
I’m now on my third battery with my Lenovo T61p, my only criticism with what is otherwise an absolutely fantastic machine. The first two batteries were both genuine, the most recent a much cheaper, generic sourced one. The first battery that came with the system was a fairly typical 6 cell offering, nothing unusual there and it lasted for around 1 year; ironic really, it always seems with laptop batteries that they suddenly decide to loose their charge after the one year warranty has expired. I wasn’t too upset about this actually, mainly because I had always regretted not getting the 9 cell with my machine so it was an ideal opportunity to upgrade and secondly, being mainly office based where my machine sat in a docking station all day being charged to 100% I wasn’t too surprised it had come to an untimely end.
Now normally, I like to run my systems very ‘Zen’, ditching all of the manufacturer bloatware that comes pre-installed these days, but I decided when I bought the 9 cell battery to install the Lenovo Power Manager software, by now in version 3. For those who are not aware of what this does, it enhances the ability to control and monitor all aspects of the machines power usage; this is especially so of the battery and the way its charging cycles are handled. One of the features that I was most interested in was the ability to dynamically change the charging thresholds of the battery and thus improving its longevity. In essence, this works by changing not only the threshold at which the system allows the battery to be charged, but also the level at which the charge stops; so for example the system may determine to stop charging the battery when it reached 96% charge. The idea of course, is that this is better for the batteries health and it ‘should’ last longer.
All was well, I had this and other settings customised just how I like them when I was greeted with a warning to tell me that my lovely battery had a fault and could no longer be used; the fault was terminal. Most annoying was that the battery was still holding more charge than a 6 cell, even though it had well over 100 charging cycles, the battery should have been good for some time yet! Frustrated with the cost of genuine batteries from Lenovo, I started to look at other options and did some research on generic batteries. Finally, I decided that for a cost of £35 including delivery for a brand new 9 cell battery, it was wroth taking a punt and duly placed an order. Herein lies the problem.
Lenovo have cunningly engineered into the software a warning which keeps popping up to tell you that you are not using a genuine battery along with the usual warning about the effect this may have on your warranty and a rather scary disclaimer which in not so many words, tells you that you may spontaneously combust if you do not throw the battery in the bin straight away and buy one directly from them. Ironically, when you click OK for what seems like the hundredth time and acknowledge the warnings to enter the software, the battery information shows amongst other things that the part number is ‘COMPATIBLE‘ and the manufacturer is ‘SANYO‘; but hang on a minute, don’t Sanyo make the genuine batteries for Lenovo anyhow? It seems to me that Lenovo are just abusing the software to boost their after sales, something which I will not be tricked into and something which I think is unfair given the rubbish quality of a lot of their own batteries (namely the Sanyo ones it would seem, I wonder how long this one will last). I’m sorry Mr Lenovo but your ruse will not be working on me.
So that left me with the problem, just how do you go about continuing to use the otherwise excellent Power Manager software but without being nagged every 5 minutes to buy a new battery and fooled into thinking that you are about to blow up?
Turns out that the solution is actually painfully simple. After doing some research on Google I first started but doing some registry edits and denying certain services the authority to run, this should according to the research I came across work; not by fooling the software into thinking it was a genuine battery but by stopping it from being able to display the warning messages from being displayed. Sadly though, it didn’t work even after trying numerous different hacks.
It was then that I had a thought, they often say that it’s the most obvious solution that works. The Power Manager software itself comes essentially in two parts, firstly the system software and secondly, the extra toolbar which runs in the system tray that shows you a graphical representation of the charge you have left and, importantly, is where the warning messages are displayed so prevalently. So I wondered, if I simply right clicked and removed the Power Manager toolbar, would that allow the software to still run and do all of the behind the scenes stuff to keep my battery in good condition without the warning messages being displayed. It turns out that it does. By disabling the toolbar, you are still able to access all of the Power Manager features by right clicking the default Windows power icon in the system tray instead (or via the Control Panel), meaning that you are able to configure power options and battery options just as before. Of course you do loose the Lenovo power icon in the system tray but I was never a huge fan of that anyway and it did nothing that the Windows power icon doesn’t. The end result is that I am now using a non-genuine battery quite happily with Lenovo Power Manager but without all of the annoying warnings and attempts to sell you a new battery.
I hope someone finds this useful. Enjoy.
Technorati: How To Verify Your Blog May 5th, 2010
If you are registered with Technorati and want to claim your own blog (for the purposes of proving to them that you are the owner), you’ll need to log into your account and scroll to the bottom of the page and click Claim your blog. Enter the URL of your blog and enter all the information that is asked and click Continue. Once you are done, click on Save Changes and you will be given a claim code (sounds like you’ve won a prize, but you haven’t) which is something like Z3GGZBDZTQ6V
You’ll then be asked to put the code within a blog post in order for Technorati to crawl your site and prove that your claim is genuine. Once you have placed the code within a post, you’ll need to return to Technorati and choose the option to Verify Claim Token then, await an email to confirm your blog is listed. Is it all worth it? The jury is still out.