Saturday, June 30, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

As mentioned earlier
ever since I heard about Abe Lincoln and vampires being mixed together I had to check it out. 
And now 3 months after listening to the audiobook, I finally got the chance to see the film.
SPOILERS below about the film and book.

The beginning of the film including his childhood felt rushed in comparison to the book. It does include his father being in debt to a vampire and the death of his mother but then skips ahead, missing 1/3 or more of the book. 
I can't say these were my favorite parts of the book, with his drunk father and moving around. But in the book he avenges his mother as a child, staking his first kill.

In general the film chops out a lot of character development, personal connections, and motivations. Abe's father explaining the truth about vampires is replaced with a rushed version by Henry.
There is no slave friend in the book to push Abe to fight slavery. Instead he sees the truth of slavery with his own eyes, seeing vampires kill slaves on a plantation after an auction.
Actually, there's not much of a link between slavery and vampires in the film. And the film is also missing examples like vampires snatching children as reasons to kill them.
I don't remember silver having any big signifigance in the book, but it is the primary/only weaspon against vampires in the film. For example, although the emancipation proclamation is shown in the film, it is not the cause for winning the war, but instead silver wins the war.

In the end, the biggest missing piece for me in the film is Abe and Henry's relationship.
The film treats Abe like just another vampire hunter to do Henry's bidding. There is no reason given for Henry to save Abe's life or train him. He doesn't even appear to like him in the movie.
And then there is the ending, which was another huge disappointment compared to the book. We don't see anything about Abe's death: we have no backstory on Boothe as a vampire, we don't see Henry fighting Boothe to avenge Abe, we don't see Abe as a vampire in current times.
Instead, we see Henry in current times, but it has no real meaning. To me, it seems like this film should fit into a larger series of vampire hunter films, where Henry goes to recruit famous people from history.

I walked into this movie knowing the Rotten Tomatoes rating of 35% and expecting the critics to be wrong. But this ended up being the percent of the book in the film (small snipets from the the middle), which is strange since it was written by the author of the book.
I personally didn't like the overuse of CG for vampire faces and the chase over horses during a stampede.
My hopes were just too high for this film and it didn't live up to the book.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Snow White and Huntsman

Yesterday went to see this in the theater and gave it a mixed rating. Somehow it felt pretty shallow, like the over 2hr running time wasn't enough.
I think it came down to a few specific points:

1. I really enjoyed the beginning, following the classic story setup and some cool fighting/CG. Basically the scenes before Kristin Stewart appeared.

2. The dark forest didn't feel dangerous enough. Scary mostly from trippy mushrooms? Only one troll? And he gives up after losing a staring contest? I wanted more monsters and more threats.

3. Aweful ending? Feels like it rushes to a predictable end and then unsure what to do, just lingers on the last scene. I would have preferred jumping further into the future to show the land and people recovered.

4. So it's not a love story? Not that its a requirement, but there's the love triangle for the last 1/3 of the movie. And its unresolved so she ends up with no one? Is the huntsman the real "prince"? His name is in the title, he revives her, and there is that last look at each other.

Firefox Plugin QA

I was troubleshooting a browser image plugin that would not install, and found a few interesting things:

1. There was no indication that an error was preventing the installer from completing. Message says it completed successfully. Fail.

2. After running the installer step manually from the command line I could see the error, which was simply that the path it was trying to install the plugin didn't exist (Firefox plugins directory). This is a fairly new install of Firefox. It worked after I created the directory, but the installer should have handled this. Fail.

3. After installing, the version of the plugin in the browser showed as different from the installer version, making it difficult to determine when to update. Fail.

Of course I contacted the plugin's site to fix these and hopefully do better testing for their next release.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Star Wars

As I said before, I haven't been much of a star wars fan in the past.
But after read the last Darth book I found more at the library.

I flew through two Darth Bane books including Path of Destruction and Rule of Two.
I really enjoyed them and I'm waiting on the third to arrive.

JMS and UI Automated Testing

My first real experience with using Selenium was not for testing but to automate a process.
ActiveMQ doesn't have a bulk move feature for moving messages between queues, which I needed. It only allows moving a single message in the web UI.

I could have created a JMS queue listener to bulk move messages, but instead I wanted to try some UI automation. My last experience with automation was using AutomatedQA TestComplete and JScript, so it was about time.

So I automated navigating to the queue, clicking the message link, choosing a new queue name in the dropdown, and finally clicking the move link. It was all easy, after I chose to use the deprecated SeleneseTestCase to extend (which just worked as expected) with:
setUp("http://localhost:4444", "*firefox");

I made it a little more complicated by extracting the timestamp and details about the message. To get these I used the CSS and XPath locator formats to pull from the HTML on the page (such as a specific row and column in a table):
css=div.message pre
These allowed me to add more logic, such as deleting messages before a certain date or not moving messages with specific content.

The only real issues I faced were timing and browser support. 
For example, the page load times varied per environment making me add in extra time for loading to work in all. I used Thread sleep in some cases since the waitForPageToLoad was not always reliable. 
Originally I started using Firefox (*firefox) but it stopped working after updating to version 14. I switched to Chrome (*googlechrome) which worked without issue.

TV and Movies Recap

TV Season finales with shows including Fringe and Supernatural, I've been enjoying delayed on Hulu (well not enjoying the delayed part).

I feel like Fringe really stepped up in season 4 and delivered. And wow on the jumping to the future for the one episode filled with Observers, bringing back Bell and tying pieces together. Looking forward to season 5, though sad it will be the last.

For Supernatural in season 7, glad to see Castiel come back and Bobby as well, though different and shortlived apparently. I wasn't into this season a lot, including the leviathans. Different to have an almost-invincible and smart enemy (bent on global domination), contrasting the monsters of the week. I think the episode with Felicia Day was the highlight of the season. Exporing purgatory in next season 8 sounds interesting.

Season and series finale of House! It was a nice ending to an awesome show.

For Castle, all I can say is finally! and hopefully we find out more about the mysterious assassin/conspiracy. Not sure how I feel about that whole story now, but I did enjoy the episodes this season with superheroes, ghost hunters, and zombies.

Finished getting caught up on Californication, a fun rollercoaster season and cliffhanger ending. Made me think back to the previous season 4 that had Hank almost die from drinking/drugs and drowning.
Now getting caught up on Being Human (US version).
Still enjoying Game of Thrones as well, such a dark and awesome show. Sad to say there is only 1 episode left this season (too short).

Seen a few movies in the theater lately including Lockout and Avengers.

As expected, Lockout was an ok action movie, I went in with low/no exceptions so no way I was leaving disappointed. But yea, bad story, bad CG or editing, but some actors I enjoy. I really wanted to see Gilgun from Misfits in it.
Avengers was better than expected, again I went in with low expectations. But it surprised me in a good way.

On Netflix, I checked out 13 Assassins which I really enjoyed.