Ambrosian Scripture

Real-world answers to real-world problems.

August 2004 - Posts

The Perfect Service Redux

Those who read my last article introducing the so-called "Perfect Service" were promised a second part that delves into the dirty details that drive the device.  The folks at 15Seconds.com have generously accommodated you and me by publishing that installment today.

If you condescend to peruse part the second, you will potentially unearth ultimately useful erudition that will help you apprehend arcane areas of .NET programming like Remoting, AppDomain programming, and Reflection.  This increased intellectual acumen is offered by way of enlightening the black box bytes that make up the .NET Service Manager.

As always, I welcome comments and constructive criticism.  Just post such here.

Posted: Aug 17 2004, 11:25 AM by Ambrose | with 1 comment(s)
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Off-Topic: Have You Seen Farscape?

A couple years ago, after I got the SciFi channel again, I decided to check out this series called Farscape.  Since then, I have become an avid fan of the show.  I don't know if I'd call myself a "scaper," but I suppose I am a scaper just as much as I am a trekker.  I love the show. 

This is by far the best sci-fi series ever.  It is the most intelligent, most amusing, and most real of any that I have seen (and that's quite a few).  The writing (the plots, the witty dialogue, and especially the character development) is par excellence.  The acting of Ben Browder (John Crichton) and Wayne Pygram (Scorpius) is superb, and all of the regulars are great.  The aliens are truly alien--they don't just seem like dressed up humans.  The special effects, with few exceptions, are very believable, including the aliens, both the automated creatures (like Rygel and Pilot) and the humans in costume.

Did I mention the writing is exceptional?  The characters are all individuals and are real (even the fully-automated creatures).  The protagonists have believable interpersonal conflicts that don't seem conjured up solely for the purpose of superficial character development.  The antagonists are many, and often are at odds with each other as well, yet we get insight into their motivations that often can make you sympathize with them.  The best villain ever--Scorpius--is not one-sidedly evil and in fact seems to be driven by laudable motivations and always keeps you on your toes; well, he keeps the protagonists on their toes at least! 

The universe is truly vast, not just in an abstract intellectual way (e.g., on a star chart), but in concrete ways.  The characters are lost together, not knowing even how to get home but still finding familiar races and cultures even among aliens and places that are unfamiliar.  They have "uncharted territorries" despite the fact that the main races (Sebacians and Scarrans) are very technologically advanced.  You get the feeling of truly being lost in a huge universe, especially in the early seasons.

The wit and dialogue are just great.  I can see how some people might not "get" it, but if you do, it can leave you in stitches.  Much of it, obviously in later episodes, depends upon knowledge of the characters and the previous episodes, but that makes it all that much funnier because, just like when you have "inside" jokes with your friends that are hilarious, you know them and how amusing this or that can be.  Where else do you get to see a super-villain (Scorpius) and good-guy (Crichton) duke it out in Easter bunny suits??  Their use of allusions to popular American culture (from Crichton) are well-placed, and John's American-ness is often the source of humor, especially when contrasted to the aliens he lives with.

Unfortunately, because there is true character and plot development, in order to really appreciate the series, you almost have to watch most of the episodes to really follow not only the humor but even the story.  This may help explain why it has failed to garner as much viewership as it deserves--it does take some committment from viewers to grasp the series (the story) as a whole in order for it to truly be appreciated.  However, this is not to say one cannot pick up and enjoy isolated episodes (like some of my favorites: "Crackers Don't Matter," "Scratch n' Sniff," and "Revenging Angel"); it's just that you get so much more out of them if you know the story and the characters.

It's because of all this that Farscape fans (now known as "scapers") were truly disappointed when the SciFi Channel decided it couldn't afford a 5th season.  Since then, many of the fans banded together (a la savefarscape.com, watchfarscape.com, etc.) to save the show, to bring it back and finish the story that was cut short.  Thanks to them, Farscape is returning for a mini-series on SciFi in October.  My wife and I were delightfuly surprised when the SciFi first aired the teaser during the Stargate SG-1 season premiere (I wasn't involved in, or even aware of, the efforts to save it until recently).

Anyways, I could go on even longer about this great show.  I wanted to post to spread the word because I think most technical people are intelligent enough to appreciate the show and often are already sci-fi fans.  If you fall into that description, check Farscape out.  You can find it in many Blockbuster stores, at many public libraries, and I'm sure at other DVD rental places.  I for one get my fixes from Netflix. :) Remember, if you like it at all, try watching several episodes before giving up.  It really grows on you.

Posted: Aug 16 2004, 12:53 PM by Ambrose | with 2 comment(s)
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