Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gallifrey One: Spanning the Decades

It's appropriate that the science fiction franchise DOCTOR WHO (and franchise it is, with two TV series, three movies, two spinoff series, novels, comics, etc.) is about a hero who travels through time. The franchise itself started 49 years ago; and the Gallifrey One convention that over 3,100 folks attended this weekend bore testimony to the franchise's multi-decade reach. On Saturday (the day we attended alone), one could see guests ranging from Waris Hussein, the director of the very first DOCTOR WHO serial in 1963 (telling stories of how original star William Hartnell, who was rather racist and sexist, had to be coaxed into starring in a series created by a Canadian, with a female producer and an Indian-British director) to Caitlin Blackwood, who portrays Amy Pond as a little girl in the most recent run of DOCTOR WHO episodes. In between, one can find actors such as Louise Jameson, who played companion Leela (a pre-Xena Xena) in the series in the mid-Seventies, and Paul McGann, who played the eighth incarnation of The Doctor in the 1996 Fox TV-Movie revival of the series.

It's an impressive chunk of TV history, one that continues to be successful seven years after the series's 2005 reincarnation into a critically acclaimed series that has won many new fans. And Gallifrey One is the place to meet those who were present throughout that history.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Droid 4: The Phone of Promises

While I'm not quite as much of a gadget fan as some of my more techie-oriented friends, I do enjoy picking up a new electronic goody now and then. And that is why yesterday I traded my Droid smartphone (one of the original Motorola Droids) for its newest descendent, the Droid 4.

Doing so may have resulted more from gut feeling than reason. Had I reasoned the matter through, I probably would not have picked up the Droid 4 one day after its release on the market. I would have waited for collective market experience to materialize concerning its reliability and usefulness. Instead, I saw months ago that it was coming to the market; went to a Verizon store yesterday; played with it for a few seconds; and decided to buy it.

So far I'm happy with the decision. The Droid line may be a line of dinosaurs, with their slide-out physical keyboards in an era of virtual onscreen keyboards; but I've always found physical keyboards far more accurate and easier to use than their counterparts. The phone feels light and comfortable; it's fast; and so far it has acceptable battery life.

But I can't help noticing that this is the phone of promises. It has the "Gingerbread" Android operating system, rather than the state-of-the-art "Ice Cream Sandwiche" Android OS on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus. Further, intrigued by the camera that faces the user, I clicked on the Skype app on the phone -- only to reach a screen telling me that the Skype video calling app for that phone had actually not been developed yet.

So it's a "stay tuned" phone. Not the worst thing. It's fun to have stuff to look forward to.