posted by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Jan 2009 14:26 UTC
IconThe past week wasn't as packed with events and shows as the previous one, but luckily for us, that didn't mean there wasn't enough to report on. This week focussed on netbooks, Steve Jobs' health, and KDE/Qt. This week's My Take is a shameless plug for one of the best television shows we've seen in a while.

Week in review

When it comes to netbooks, we've seen a busy week. We wondered whether or not Via's Nano platform will ever pose a serious threat to Intel's cominance in this market, especially with the latter company delivering updated Atom chips this year. To make matters worse for Via, AMD is also coming with a similar platform this year, Yukon. Intel's financial results also showed that Atom is important to the company, meaning Intel will probably put even more weight behind the chip.

To continue this week's netbook trend, I personally contested the assertion that Apple's iPod Touch and iPhone are netbooks, a statement made by Ars Technica's Erica Shaun. The discussion following the item was interesting, and made decent arguments both ways.

Apple was a primary supplier of news this week. The Cupertino company sent a cease and desist letter to Wired, urging the media outlet to remove a video that detailed how to install Mac OS X on a non-Apple labelled netbook. On another legal front, Psystar claimed it purchased its copies of Mac OS X "fair and square", some even from Apple directly.

The biggest news this week was obsiously the news that Apple's CEO Steve Jobs found out that his health problems were more complex than he originally thought, and as a consequence, he took a medical leave of absence from the company until later this year, with Tim Cook running business for the time being. This caused a whole flurry of discussion regarding Jobs' health and Apple's role in all this, and Adam wrote an editorial about why it's perfecty fine to debate Jobs' health.

We also ran two items on KDE 4.2 this week, the first relase of KDE 4 that is ready for all users - not just developers and enthusiasts. The KDE project released the first release candidate for KDE 4.2, with the final release scheduled later this month. KDE and Qt users alike also welcomed Nokia's move this week: the Finnish company has announced that Qt 4.5 will be released under the LGPL.

The week ended with the ReactOS team publishing a detailed overview of the areas of focus in 2008, and the EU charging Microsoft again for including its Internet Explorer browser with Windows.


My Take: What the frak?!

You have people who hate science fiction, and people who like science fiction. However, in the real world, this usually comes down to something else: you have people who hate Star Trek, and people who like Star Trek. Apart from Deep Space Nine, whith its excellent character development and exciting Dominion War story arch, I'm not a huge fan of Star Trek. Because, you know, Star Trek is pretty bad as far as television and science fiction goes.

Categorising a series or film as science fiction will immediately label it as a show for nerds, basement dwellers, and people with social disabilities. Even though it's rather shortsighted to label science ficton as such, there's of course a massive element of truth in there. If the prime and most famous example of your genre is something as catastrophically bad as Star Trek, you have a problem.

However, ever since 2003, science fiction fans can point to a television series that blows all other series that were ever labelled as science fiction out of the water, and once and for all dispell the stigma surrounding the genre. I'm of course speaking of Battlestar Galactica, the epic Emmy Award-winning television series.

Battlestar Galactica is such a good science fiction show exactly because it doesn't deal with the science and the fiction at all, instead focussing on the storyline, character development, and political, military, and religious affairs. It does this through having the best atmosphere I've ever seen in a television show, rivalling that of many blockbuster Hollywood movies. In addition, the BSG cast consists of several Oscar-nominated and other extremely talented actors, giving every episode a film-like quality that you rarely see in other television shows.

The storyline of Battlestar Galactica doesn't deal with aliens, the inner workings of warp drives, or other pseudo-scientific nonsense. Instead, it focusses on religion, military command, and political games, and how those interact with one another, and how those interactions affect the lives of the people in the series. In other words, it's actually a political/military/religious drama, rather than a traditional space-faring sci-fi show.

The character development of the show is really good, and the characters feel more real than in any other TV show I've ever seen. The only thing that might come closein this regard is Lost, but Lost is so full of itself, that it never passes on an opportunity to thump its chest and roar. A plot twist in Lost is dragged on and on and on and on, as if the writers are trying to show off just how clever they are. In BSG, a plot twist just happens, and that's that. They don't drag it on.

Where the characters in Lost and just about any other TV show are usually quite black and white, with easily identifiable "good" people and "evil" people (including all the Hollywood stereotypes), BSG delivers characters that are never just good or just evil - all characters respond irratic, sometimes classifiable as good, sometimes as evil. The line between good and evil in BSG is very, very thin - even the Cylons, starting out as villans early in the series, turn out to be "just human"; they make mistakes, they are irrational, and emotional. During the course of the series, you start feeling sympathy for the Cylons, despite the fact they just mass-murdered the entire human race.

BSG also has this uncanny ability to be emotional without being corny, which is a major win in my book. The special effects are superb, the dark atmosphere is exciting, and the music is miles and miles ahead of anything else, combining many worldly influences.

Battlestar Galactica returned last Friday night to ABC, with the 11th episode of season 4 (13th if you count Razor), the final season. If you haven't done so already, be sure to take a look at the miniseries that started it all. You won't be disappointed.

And Starbuck is better as a woman, and anyone who disagrees with me will be banned.

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