Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Doctor Who Series 7 Soundtrack Review

The seventh series of Doctor Who has, in my opinion, had a very hit and miss soundtrack in the episodes. For example, in my previous reviews of the seventh series, I have expressed concern over perhaps too much reuse of some tracks in recent episodes, but also expressed joy over episodes such as Angels Take Manhattan for the new music. This soundtrack has done a fairly good job of picking out the best tracks from the series.

Possibly due to the series' separated and cinematic feel, this album definitely leaves part of the idea of having an overall theme to it, but instead tends to focus more on the episodes and the characters themselves, for better or for worse. Therefore, there's a lot less repeats of themes (most notably, barely anything based on I Am The Doctor) and a lot more uniqueness surrounding each one.

A common thread I've found is that some of the tracks could be greatly extended and be given more time to really delve into it as most of them are over before they begin.

What is rather disappointing is the lack of some tracks. For instance, there's nothing from The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe and nothing from The Snowmen, though with the release of A Christmas Carol's separate soundtrack, one specially made for these two (perhaps with another episode, e.g. the 50th) can't be off the cards. This is a shame since there is at least 3 or 4 songs from The Snowmen that I would have liked to be on there. Though the lack of a few other tracks is rather surprising, i.e. last couple of minutes of Name of the Doctor.

What is most confusing and surprising about the missing tracks, however, is the lack of new title sequence music. With CD1 coming in at 76 minutes and CD2 being 69 minutes, one can most certainty make the argument that there is plenty of space for it, among a few other tracks too.

Likewise, I find it rather disappointing that they release two iTunes bonus tracks only available via purchasing the whole album, especially since these are not on the limited edition release, and not put them in with the rest of the CD where there's enough space. Personally? Either no iTunes bonuses' or enough to make paying for the whole album again worth it.
One of the key differences, for better or for worse, is the amount of what's included. Comparing these discs to the previous double-CD releases, these discs are both longer in duration and have a lot more tracks where the average length has actually decreased.

To keep in with the tradition that appears to be about, here are my top 10 tracks (picking just 10 is really hard!). You can look up more on these in the break-down below.
  1. #1.03 Asylum Of The Daleks - Dalek Parliament
  2. #1.16. A Town Called Mercy - The Salvation Of Kahler Jex
  3. #1.21. The Angels Take Manhattan - New York New York
  4. #1.28. The Angels Take Manhattan - Together Or Not At All - The Song Of Amy And Rory
  5. #1.34. The Bells Of Saint John - A Turbulent Flight
  6. #1.36. The Bells Of Saint John - Up The Shard
  7. #2.06. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Speeder
  8. #2.08. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Long Song
  9. #2.09. The Rings Of Akhaten - Infinite Potential
  10. #2.37. The Name Of The Doctor - Remember Me
The booklet looks very gorgeous in its very minimalistic design featuring promotional images from each series 7 episode and a list of tracks from that episode. The album introduction, by the composer Murray Gold, is actually quite fun to read (since normally, when professional people try to be funny, it fails. A lot.). While I personally would have preferred a bit more information (this is coming from the person who makes a point of watching the NON-cutdown Doctor Who Confidentials and every single behind the scenes piece), I did enjoy the information that was given and made me realise just how much of series 7 wasn't even recorded, but rather electronically based (which helps to explain the lack of included pieces in this set).

Overall, this release definitely has some amazing tracks and is worth purchasing (a few of the tracks were so good, I went with an 8 instead of the 7 as originally planned), but like all others it isn't perfect and perhaps the most disappointing is not what's on there, but what either could have been or should have been.

Overall Score: 8/10

The Series 7 Soundtrack is out 9th September. Pre-order details and previews can be found here.

Below, you can see a break-down of the album, track by track with ratings and one or two thoughts.

Though a disclaimer first: I've spent HOURS listening to this soundtrack and sometimes it got a little tiresome. I'm sure if I go back to some tracks, I'll change my mind and rate some higher and others lower. Some 4s could be considered 4.5s.

Just as a quick note, I've used the phrase "background music" a lot. What I mean by this is the sort of music that adds to it in the episode and makes it less boring, but music that you wouldn't really want to hear on its own.

Disc 1

1. Asylum Of The Daleks - They Are Everywhere 2/5
As a sort-of extended version of the opening theme of Asylum, this track is very much a background atmosphere-builder and for the most part, that's all it is. It's great if you want to add background music to your own things, but not so much fun to listen to on it's own after a while.
2. Asylum Of The Daleks - Save Us 3/5
This builds on the previous track by doing almost the same, however it does progress throughout the track, which is always much better, however it doesn't really add much more.
3. Asylum Of The Daleks - Dalek Parliament 4/5
This takes the background music into the foreground as The Doctor, Amy and Rory enter the Dalek Parliament. It spices up the level of suspense and adds a sense of superiority and danger and combines these extremely well.
4. Asylum Of The Daleks - Oswin Oswald 3/5
 The first of Clara's very piano based themes, this theme has quite a "confused" vibe to it in the first half, which I am not sure if meant to be there or not due to her storyline in this episode. It does also have the essences of sadness (perhaps even happy sad?) to it that worked well.
5. Asylum Of The Daleks - Towards The Asylum 4/5
A fun investigatory-action mix theme that's been put together rather well.
6. Asylum Of The Daleks - A Probe In The Snow 3/5
A loose variation of the previous two themes with extra bits added to increase the mysterious and magnificent affect that combine into one piece.
7. Asylum Of The Daleks - Amy And Rory Together 4/5
Amy and Rory have just made up and got back together again, which is celebrated by this quite happy music. The only downside to this is that it shares a lot with #28, which is far stronger and more memorable, thereby almost destroying this piece's majestic and happy nature.
8. Asylum Of The Daleks - The Terrible Truth 4/5
The first of the sad tracks of the album, when Oswin finds out she is actually a Dalek and The Doctor pegs it. While it's not an incredibly memorable piece (hence not the full rating), I did enjoy the rather moving and action-y track.
9. Dinosaurs On A Spaceship - Dinosaurs On A Spaceship/Pterodactyls 2/5
A bit of fun and a bit of danger for the reveal of the dinosaurs and the pterodactyl chase sequence, but this track definitely feels like it lacks something. Perhaps it is the two themes sliced together into one track?
10. Dinosaurs On A Spaceship - Brian 3/5
 This is just a fun little theme for Brian. It neither stands out or is memorable nor does it try to be either, but when it's played, it's quite enjoyable.
11. Dinosaurs On A Spaceship - Take A Ride On Tricey 3/5
 It's another fun (DOAS was practically soaked in fun!) and action-y track jumping about between a feeling of randomness, action, mysteriousness and a hint of superiority, these feelings are all combined rather well without it sound too much like a mix-track.
12. A Town Called Mercy - Make Peace 4/5
 This springy track, from the start of A Town Called Mercy, is a wonderful combination of the west and action, mixed in with a cybernetic feel at later stages. It's short and works wonderfully well.
13. A Town Called Mercy - Welcome To Mercy 3/5
 The introduction to Mercy, this track starts off a little slow but it picks up massively, with the western feel and the wonderful vocals.
14. A Town Called Mercy - Out West 3/5
 A mixture of action and a small part of what feels like filler background music, this track definitely has a suite-style to it and as such, it feels like it can't decide what it's trying to do.
15. A Town Called Mercy - Gunslingers 4/5
The "I Am The Doctor In The West" track of the selection, with some good variation, it's a fast-paced very vocal delight to listen to, although it's a bit too short since once I properly got into it, it was just about over.
16. A Town Called Mercy - The Salvation Of Kahler Jex 4/5
Kahler Jex decides to end it all opposed to this excellent track, which is easily one of my favourites of the album, although the practically empty startup and the feeling that I can't shake off of the vocals and the instrumental competing with each other too much spoils its original 5 out of 5 rating. I guess it just sounded better in the episode for me.
17. A Town Called Mercy - Our Little Towns Prosecutor 4/5
While Gunslingers was the "I Am The Doctor" of the episode, this track most certainly uses some of the elements from the actual I Am The Doctor track and applies it to Kahler Tek, and is an excellent end to an episode.
18. The Power Of Three - Cubes 4/5
The introduction of the Cubes, this track has a very impending and build up feel to it,  though I find the sound of a helicopter at the start to be rather confusing.
19. The Power Of Three - While We Waited 3/5
 Keeping in with a very whisper based theme, which fits the idea of the cubes rather well, this track feels like a much slower (and more thought out) version of Cubes. That is, of course, until we get to the section where The Doctor goes insane and music gets that "smashing the keyboard" feel to it, which works better if you simply take part in it and enjoy it.
20. The Power Of Three - Brian's Log 3/5
Another strongly whisper based track with a bit of a fun beat. The addition of the fast-paced tick-tocking noise works really well and fits in with the scene.
21. The Angels Take Manhattan - New York New York 5/5
We now get to the serious dramatic music of the intro to Angels Take Manhattan. The extremely dramatic and the feeling of doom looming over the listener at the beginning is great, and is added to by the slightly dark sensation of the addition of a saxophone adds River's flirty nature to the track. This track is definitely one of my favourites.
22. The Angels Take Manhattan - I Am You 3/5
While the ending of this musical piece of great, I can't help but find the rest of it to be rather hit and miss.
23. The Angels Take Manhattan - Melody Malone 2/5
For a track that focuses on Melody Malone, i.e. River Song, I expected a lot more that what feels very much like distant background music.
24. The Angels Take Manhattan - Little Angels 3/5
This just goes to prove that you don't necessarily need anything complex to provoke the feeling of dread and unease in someone.
25. The Angels Take Manhattan - My Husband's Home 3/5
Very much the track that sticks to 11's themes out of the whole album, this is very much a mishmosh of a few different themes from the episode.
26. The Angels Take Manhattan - Hide The Damage 3/5
River explains about The Doctor's feelings alongside this sad background music, although it's not memorable at all and doesn't remind me of the scene.
27. The Angels Take Manhattan - Almost The End 4/5
This fairly short action piece helps to build up to the sequence of Amy and Rory's demise, but it barely starts by the time it ends.
28. The Angels Take Manhattan - Together Or Not At All - The Song Of Amy And Rory 5/5
One of my favourites for the album, where we have the final stages of the build up and whether it's the really slow and deep intro (that MAY remind you of Doomsday), the heart wrenching percussion or the "Who" vocals to the enclosing drums, this track really hits you deep below.
29. The Angels Take Manhattan - Goodbye Pond 5/5
The final goodbye, this track hits you deep below by portraying the lie of everything being OK again, before it yanks first Rory away and then Amy away from you in an equally dramatic way and we are left with The Doctor balling his eyes out. The mixture between a fast-paced and a slow-paced track compliment each other extremely well.
30. The Bells Of Saint John - Cumbria 1207 4/5
Earth. 1207. The Bells of Saint John are ringing and this delightful piece of music really gets us into the mix. A few bells here and a hint of an Eleventh Doctor theme there and we get a good introductory piece.
31. The Bells Of Saint John - Monking About 4/5
Return of the fun. The Doctor is...well....De-Monking about to this track as he strips off his clothes as he enters the TARDIS and changes.
32. The Bells Of Saint John - Spoonheads 4/5
Clara is in the process of being uploaded to The Cloud and The Doctor is hacking her back. This piece fits this rather well, with a sense of urgency, desperation, action, victory (with I Am The Doctor) and finally relief. It really helps us feel exactly what The Doctor is feeling.
33. The Bells Of Saint John - Clara? - 5/5
Easily one of my favourite companion themes throughout Doctor Who, Clara's theme is very piano based and wonderfully gives her majestic and mysterious character with a delicate touch.
34. The Bells Of Saint John - A Turbulent Flight 5/5
Bit of a slow start, but a thoroughly enjoyable action sequence as The Doctor and Clara take their first trip in the TARDIS together to a plane that is about to crash, this really makes me feel excited, part of the action and I adore listening to it again and again.
35. The Bells Of Saint John - Bah Bah Biker 4/5
The Doctor and Clara go for a little joy-ride on a bike and this music shows that perfectly. Nothing more. Nothing less.
36. The Bells Of Saint John - Up The Shard 5/5
Somewhat disappointed that this track is not called "I Am Not The Doctor Riding Up The Shard On An Anti-Grav Motorbike", this track is easily one of my favourites and one that you can easily follow what happens. The track starts off with this deep beat that really helps you feel the anger that is coursing through The Doctor as he rides the motorbike towards The Shard. This is swiftly followed by the short confrontation with Miss Kizlet's remote controlled human where we can feel that The Doctor feels he has the upper ground.
The following segment is wonderful in showing how the Eleventh Doctor showed off (because if nothing else, The Eleventh Doctor is a showman) in riding up The Shard. The confrontation music and the reveal music that follows this simple and fairly good. This is definitely a track I can have on repeat.
37. The Bells Of Saint John - I Might Change My Mind 3/5
The aftermath of The Bells of Saint John with The Doctor inviting Clara aboard. This track is purely background music until the end where we have the "Right then Clara. Time to find out who you are" short sequence that ends off the episode and the disc.

Disc 2

1. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Leaf 3/5
The Doctor is investigating Clara with this soft investigatory music mixed with Clara's theme, it just works.
2. The Rings Of Akhaten - Something Awesome 4/5
The Doctor picks up Clara, and Clara attempts to decide where to go. The music, mostly in jest at Clara, is a fun little piece as she has trouble and fits it well. Her request for "Something Awesome" promotes the music into a very short dramatic introduction.
3. The Rings Of Akhaten - Market Day 4/5
The introduction to the market on Akhaten, Market Day expresses some of the weird and the strange and the excitement that they come across in a beautiful way.
4. The Rings Of Akhaten - Merry Gejelh 4/5
The song of Merry Gejelh that has a delicate sense of mystery about her while she battles with her fear of her destiny and the music takes a turn for the better when she succeeds.
5. The Rings Of Akhaten - God Of Akhaten 5/5
The first of the beautiful songs sung. This one to the God of Akhaten. Needless to say that it is brilliant, especially since it is far clearer on here and the words can be understood easier. I also enjoy the ending where we find the danger is introduced.
6. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Speeder 5/5
A, IMHO, too short piece of music for the chase between the Doctor and Clara on the Speeder and Merry. One of my favourite pieces.
7. The Rings Of Akhaten - Never Wake 4/5
"Do not wake from slumber" is pretty much the message of the song in a very echoy vocal chorus song.. It's not as good as the other songs from Rings of Akhaten and I can't help but feel it's there just to be there.
8. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Long Song 5/5
"And let the cloak of life cling to your bones. Cling to your bones."
One of the best songs out of the entire soundtrack. The backing to one of the greatest speeches the Eleventh Doctor has ever made. I can't listen to this without shivering, mostly in epicness.
9. The Rings Of Akhaten - Infinite Potential 4/5
Another heart-wrenching track as Clara gives away her most prized possession, although since it's more background music while she makes her speech, it's a lot more plain for the most part.
10. The Rings Of Akhaten - Always You, Never A Replacement 2/5
This is another one of those very background music pieces that doesn't really give much.
11. Cold War - Cold War 4/5
The piece that fits the title and the episode, it lacks warmth and has action sequences and works well with the episode. Some of the suspenseful moments made my heart skip a beat.
12. Cold War - Skaldak 4/5
A piece that starts off cold, this really warms up to Skaldak's own feelings of his daughter and the mystery behind the Ice Warrior race.
13. Hide - I Am A Ghost 3/5
An extremely soft music with a hint of sadness. Like the episode, this will very much be a like it/hate it choice.
14. Journey To The Centre Of The Tardis - A Machine That Makes Machines 4/5
Fans of funky music will enjoy this fairly punkish foreboding piece.
15. The Crimson Horror - Crimson Horror 3/5
The opening of The Crimson Horror. It starts off great and is pretty enjoyable with the happy old ye time market sort of music with a bit of a beat, but after the two thirds is hit, I have no idea WTF this piece becomes. It reminds me of the segment from Sad Man In A Box where they included the weird things from the episode that degraded the quality of the music.
16. The Crimson Horror - Sweetville 4/5
The sound of sweet excitement (and it does have a candy-like feel to the sound) complimented with the sound of foreboding into what will happen.
17. The Crimson Horror - Thomas Thomas 3/5
Putting my feelings of this moment in the episode aside, I find this music to be rather dull and to be a bit of a filler. It portrays what I imagine the feelings of the episode's writer, Mark Gatiss, feels about the moment with a "I am cool" slight "twinge" on the moment with the echo-y western-y style backing combined to truly distant background music.
18. Nightmare In Silver - Hedgewicks World 3/5
The theme that portrays the excitement, mystery and then disappointment of discovering the fate of Hedgewick's World. This theme portrays these with some overlap in them, though it's nothing special.
19. Nightmare In Silver - Tiberian Spiral Galaxy 4/5
The sad revelation of the fate of Tiberian Spiral galaxy mixed in with a strangely human but alien feel that works really well, you can't help but feel sad.
20. Nightmare In Silver - Upgrade In Progress 4/5
This really short track, is a funky and upbeat Cybermen action music that takes a lot from the Series 2 Cybermen theme and...well....upgrades it a bit.
21. Nightmare In Silver - The Dream Of Cyberia 3/5
More or less a mixture between the previous three tracks.
22. Nightmare In Silver - What A Brain 3/5
This fits in nicely by mixing the senses a bit by combining this fairly normal (and if it were alone, boring) piece of music with a dizzying piece and an additional sense of danger into something that is neither completely comfortable but something easily listen-able, exactly how I imagine it was designed for.
23. Nightmare In Silver - Cant Win 4/5
The same as Upgrade in Progress where it's a really short and upbeat track, but this time it's for the other side!
24. Nightmare In Silver - Your Orders Come From Me 2/5
A short and calm piece that you could easily go to sleep listening to. With the exception of additional instrument, most of it sounds rather stock.
25. Nightmare In Silver - Other Good News 4/5
A short piece dedicated to the fun little conversation between The Doctor and Clara, it contains the fun of the initial segment smoothly transitioning into the more dangerous element.
26. Nightmare In Silver - The Impossible Girl 3/5
Obviously, this is a mix between Clara's signature style and the Cybermen's, albeit the signature style is rather lacking and you could be mistaken for believing this wasn't about Clara at all for the greater proportion of it. I found the use of some stereotypical tunes here to be rather detrimental to the overall rating of the track.
27. Nightmare In Silver - Cyber Army 4/5
A rather dramatic action track for the Cybermen. The March of the Cybermen-wannabe of the track. The issue? It's too short and feels as if it cannot make it's mind up part way through.
28. Nightmare In Silver - The Emperors Wife 4/5
A beautiful track that's a bit of heart-warming fun after some action, although I find the action segment used to be pretty good a little under-used as a whole actually.
29. Nightmare In Silver - Some Wednesday 4/5
A closing theme that takes essence from a mixture of I Am The Doctor and Everything Has To End Some Time, it works really well.
30. The Name Of The Doctor - To Save The Doctor 5/5
Opening with a short stint from This is Gallifrey, this is close to being one of my favourites (it's replaced by Remember Me since that is an extended epicer version). This track is wonderful since it contains almost everything. Fun. Action. Drama.
31. The Name Of The Doctor - A Letter To Clara 3/5
Clara's signature tune is evident in this one directly from the start and is one of the key elements throughout which is great, however it's not actually that much different that her actual theme and the "added elements" do not add much, but it's still quite enjoyable.
32. The Name Of The Doctor - What Is His Name? 3/5
This is one of those tracks that starts off boring, but half way through it gets a better as it transitions into a darker piece, that works well but it's a little rough around the edges.
33. The Name Of The Doctor - A Secret He Will Take To His Grave 4/5
One that hits you in the feels before it even happens, this track is the Doomsday of the album. So simple. So sad.
34. The Name Of The Doctor - Trenzalore 4/5
This is the second of the pre-meditated "double tap" of your heart from The Name of The Doctor and it very much feels it. Again. So simple. So sad.
35. The Name Of The Doctor - I Am Information 3/5
A mixture between sad music and dramatic music that's almost exactly split evenly. The problem is that we've heard most of the sad music in the previous two tracks and by the time the dramatic segment gets into its flow, it ends.
36. The Name Of The Doctor - Pain Everlasting 4/5
While I Am Information is an excellent bridging track, this just plummets the listener back into the sad track. My main complaint is that this track sounds so similar to Trenzalore for the majority of it.
37. The Name Of The Doctor - Remember Me 5/5
Easily one of my favourites. It has the delicate nature of Clara. It has the sadness of watching Eleven die. It has the Goodbye. It has the awesome action sequence.

iTunes Exclusives

1. Glasgow 4/5
The first of the bonus tracks and its fun tune progressing into a foreboding tune is lovely. Although I'm not a fan of bag-pipes, I adore the addition of the Scottish elements in it!
2. Whisper Men
A strange theme that I can't quite figure out whether I like it or hate it (hence the lack of rating). It contains mystery and, again a slight sense of danger incoming,  but not all that much more.It seems like it only included 1 part of the mix by mistake and there was supposed to be something else.

Friday, 5 July 2013

How to remove Blogger's Click Trap in Previews

Have you ever previewed a post you've been writing on Blogger and tried to click something only to find you can't? We have. A lot. In fact, it's a pain in the arse. Here's how to remove it both temporarily and, using Addons, permanently.
This guide only covers Chrome and Firefox, however the same should be for other browsers.

How do I remove it temporarily?

 Your browser will need some form of Developer Tools. This is now customary on all modern browsers.
First, open your preview page. I've used my article on Changing from Apache MPM Prefork to Apache MPM Worker on Virtualmin in a post-install environment as my example.
Now, the first thing you need to do is bring up your Developer Tools. In most cases, this is F12, but not all. It should be under you tools menu regardless, though it may have varying names.

Google Chrome

In Chrome, this is very simple. F12.
The look for the line with "Blogger-ClickTrap" in it. It should be around 14 lines down.
Note how Chrome also highlights it.
 Select the line, and press Delete on the Keyboard. Then you can close the tools with the X in the top-right of the popup box.

Mozilla Firefox

The shortcut for Firefox is Ctrl - Shift - I.
After the box opens, move the mouse on the screen and the line should auto-highlight, the line we are looking for should highlight automatically (due to it being right at the front). Select it, press Delete then close the popup box.

How do I remove it forever?

I am assuming you know how to download and install Addons in your browser. These addons are Adblockers, which you should have installed anyway IMHO.

Chrome using Adblock

Right-click anywhere on page the page. Go to Adblock, and click "Block this ad".

 Click "Looks good"
 Click "Block it!"
The page will now reload and you are done!

Mozilla Firefox?

Unfortunately, I've not been able to find a simple way of doing it. Sorry guys.

Why does Blogger only show one post when I have more selected and how do I fix it?

Over at Life, Doctor Who and Combom, we've recently had a number of emails saying "How come there's only one or two posts on your homepage?" Well, we've looked into it a few times, albeit quickly, and discovered that we couldn't find the cause, as the setting in Blogger is correct.

We've just discovered what the problem is, however. Thanks to this blog post,we now know what the problem was.

The problem is with how one of our writers added the images to the post. Instead of uploading the content via Blogger's picture tool, they dragged and dropped the image into the window. To the user, this normally does not look any different from anything else, however the image isn't actually uploaded to the server in the traditional format. Rather, the image is encoded into base64 and added to the post, raising the post's size. When you, or the visitor sees it, it is decoded back.

When does this happen?

When you have dragged and dropped an image from your computer into your blog post.
Note: Dragging and dropping from another site will usually result in a series of foreign characters displayed.

Why does the page not load?

Blogger has certain limitations attached and one of these is page size and having a base64 image encoded in your post takes up a lot of the page's allocated space. (A single standard quality image could be worth about the same as your entire HTML page. That's a lot of text!)

How do I fix it?

First, you must find the image. Simply open up your blog, and put your mouse over each image and look in the bottom left of your browser.
If it has "data:image/jpeg;base64..." or something similar at the start, then that's your problem. Most of them should have a domain (or the start of one) at the start.

Once you have found your image, download it to your computer.
Then, edit the post on Blogger, delete the old picture and properly upload the new one to replace it and save.
This should now be fixed.

Unless you use tags with old posts, you shouldn't need to go too far back to fix the errors.

If you've not done too many blog posts, you can download your backup, open it and just use find to look for the occurrences of the blog posts.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Doctor Who: Nightmare in Silver Non-Spoiler Review

Aside from Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and the finale, this is very possibly the most anticipated episode this part of the series. Why? It's written by Neil Gaiman, writer of some of the most critically acclaimed Science Fiction in the world and of the very successful Doctor Who episode The Doctor's Wife. Now, he's back and he's here to make the Cybermen scary again.

Did he succeed in making the Cybermen frightening again? Yes and no, I believe. He did succeed in making the Cybermen more scary than they have been so far, mostly through things other than how they fight. While the prospect of super-speed (which was clearly done to over-come one of the Cybermen's main weaknesses), as shown in the preview clip here, can be scary, I'm not sure it was pulled off too well in the episode, though this could be more down to the production after the writing.

The redesign of the Cybermen worked for and against itself too. While the redesign can be likened to Iron Man, *cough*, a lot more, I find the much smoother and less human-like face to show off their lack of human emotions much better.

However, I don't think Gaiman managed to give them the bone-chilling effect that Moffat gave the Daleks in Asylum of the Daleks. But the episode is enjoyable enough to not let this get to you.

Classic fans will be pleased to hear that this episode is centred mostly around the Mondasian Cybermen, however the appearance of the Cybus Cybermen in the next time trailer can be a little confusing. As this episode is set in the future, we can possibly assume that these 2 Cyberman were 2 of the few Cybermen converted using metal from our world during the Battle of Canary Warf.

The pacing of the episode was adequate, however I am a little disappointed that it started upon arrival, without giving us a chance to get the kids reactions at all. We've got a bit more new music in this episode, which is always enjoyable, but we also get the chance to hear March of the Cybermen again! It also sounds a lot less "lets just randomly place epic music somewhere!" than the previous episode, which my ears much appreciate.

The acting of this episode was superb, with special mentions to Matt Smith, where I would have loved to have been in the room with him during this episode, and Warwick Davis.

It's a pretty good episode, but not as good as The Doctor's Wife, though that was at perfect level and it's hard to beat perfect. I would rate it 9/10.

Please note that this is a non-spoiler review. Details have been left out so as not to spoiler you. A full review will be posted the day after the episode has aired.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror Spoiler Review

So far, Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 has been going really well, although with a few bumps and scrapes here and there. The 6th episode this "segment" entitled The Crimson Horror is written by regular writer Mark Gattis, who was most recently responsible for the popular Cold War episode.

This episode to me, was a bit of a let-down. When I saw the trailer and the synopsis, I knew it wasn't going to be top-notch, but I quite liked the overall premise behind it. I liked the idea of the Paternoster gang turning up again, as I thoroughly enjoyed them in The Snowmen, and I liked the idea of them meeting Clara #3. I also kept an open mind due to the writer. Mark Gattis is far from the most consistent writer when it comes to quality, but he has done some good episodes so I felt rather hopeful about this one.

Strax has a more vital role
Even before getting close to the end of the episode, the balance between funny and serious was quite poorly done with the two alternating and thereby knocking each other out of the water. The out of character "shrug off" of The Doctor when Ada kills Mr Sweet was obviously intended for humour too. Though with lines like "Do you know what these are? The wrong hands." the combination of humour and being really scary work well. Having said that, focusing on Strax alone, I felt he was far better used in this episode as he went from just being the group clown to actually saving the day. Twice.
Experimented upon
One of the possible causes for the need for Gatiss to include funny content in this episode would be that this episode is actually quite dark as opposed to a few others. For example, it had a mother experimenting on her own daughter. It had a woman wanting to kill everyone on the planet for her own Eden. Should we presume that these reasons are for the children of the family, so that they do not cry too much?

The closest way Moffat can cameo
For me, one of the chief issues with this episode is the plot-holes throughout. In the Moffat era, we're used some of the hints and the foreshadowing being more subtle, so we look closer. Why did Miss Gilliflower have to hide her feeding Mr Sweet from Ada when she was blind? How did she build a spruced up metal firework in those times? Why didn't they all burn when it ignited? Why would a parasite want to wipe out all life? How can a single vat of poison kill the entire world when an entire cauldron of what must be extremely an diluted substance can only "wax"? If the poison needs to touch the body, how would that work with just a n explosion over one city? Why not turn it into a gas and pump it into the atmosphere? These are just a few, where individually they all seem pedantic, but if you put them together, you'll find a story that is under-developed.

Aka "The Hammer to the Face"
Another indication that this episode is under-developed is the cringe-worthy reference to TomTom, that seemed completely out of place. Doctor Who has always had a certain level of cheesy-ness to it, but this just felt desperate where a hammer to the face would be more subtle, even to the point that I've thought that the kid might be something more than just an on-looker for part of an episode who managed to scale a chimney and watch a battle, without any of the other characters raising that point. I admit, that it was quite funny the first time, but it got cringe-worthy on even just the 2nd re-watch. Though if I consider it a reference to The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, it makes me feel better.

I did, however, like the "Doctor-lite" aspect of the episode. Many people do not like Doctor-lite episodes, but I do enjoy them. Let's face it, Doctor Who has been about for almost 50 years. We've had a lot of The Doctor. We don't need him in every second of every episode, and more than once we have seen the effect of him that left behind on others. This episode was a fantastic mix of this. Not too little, but enough of him to not remove this fact. it worked really well.

Clara first sees the screen
One of the things that I'm not too certain on is the final scene, where the kids blackmail Clara into letting them go with her. To me, this felt as if it would have been just as suited to being a prequel for the following episode, allowing the mystery of Clara to be expanded upon within the actual plot of the episode as opposed what feels like an after-thought as part of a fairly half-arsed way to set up the following episode. Not too sure on the pictures either. Why would there be a picture of Clara from a top-secret soviet sub?

The "boyfriend"
The actual method of introducing the kids was a little poor too. Unless the threat was just a bluff, the dad would just react wondering if the kids are either have learnt to use Photoshop, drunk or high. Far from being thought out too well.

The actual revelation itself that Clara was in Victorian London could go one of two ways. Clara could either realise now this is not her and ask The Doctor, or she could believe this is where she will go on a future adventure and then, when her life is severely threatened or she is dying, she will recall this picture. Either way, it makes the mind wonder what it could be, even if the fact that she found out at all was a fairly predicable thing.

The pace, however, was brilliant. I can say, without a doubt, that I found the pacing of this story one of the best among all of series 7. The climax of the story was not rushed to the point of "a few button presses and done" and had some good old action scenes and that didn't come at the cost of the rest of the story being too fast or too slow.

"You're Nuts"
The acting of the legendary Diana Rigg was one of the enlightening factors about this episode, with her pure insanity. This combined with her real-life daughterRachael Stirling, acting as her on-screen daughter for the first time did make the episode feel and work special, at least in this regard.

Murray Gold and the sound editing team have redeemed themselves in this episode from the previous episodes this series, with new musical pieces, such as the action piece. The flashback, with constant flashes annoyed me on the first watch, however I grew to like it on later re-watches.

Overall, I would rate this episode 4/10. It had promise and I did like some elements to it, but the balance between funny and serious, it not always keeping my attention and a couple other things let it down.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

How to Remux your MKV files into MP4 files with Little to No Encoding

I often get asked "How do you play MKV files on your iPhone or PS3?" or "How do you use the MKV files in Premiere Pro?" and the answer is...you can't. Not natively. Yes, iPhone has apps such as GoodPlayer that are capable of playing MKV files, however it is unable to play MKV files using hardware decoding, which means that the video will suck as it'll be choppy, especially as the majority of the time, it would be playing HD content.

Please note that we use "Scene" as a nickname for the standard MKV TV encode that you may find on the internet, convert to or something else.

The problem?

The "MKV" container is not compatible with these devices or software. This is mostly because it was designed as a "can contain all" container, including codecs that are not compatible with the devices so in most cases, it is just easier to block it off.

The solution?

For most cases, you can simply change the container to "MP4", which is more limited for what it can contain, but is compatible with pretty much everything out there.
 You cannot simply just change the file extension from .mkv to .mp4.

Why does this work?

A video file contains tracks. Usually, these tracks consist of 1 video track, 1 audio track and sometimes, 1 subtitle track.
The codecs used for the usual mkv are h264 for video and ac3 for audio. These are allowed in both mkv and mp4, thereby allowing you to simply "take them out of one, and stick them in another." The codecs may be different.

Please note that all iDevices are incompatible with AC3 audio in mp4 containers. You will need to convert the AC3 to AAC, which is detailed later. 

How do I do it?

There are a few ways to do this. Some require you to do it manually, others less so. At the bottom, there's a short list of software that can help you accomplish this. I can do a guide for these if I am requested to do so, but here is what I have found one of the easiest ways to do it, especially because this program is awesome enough to be able to do it in batch.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Changing from Apache MPM Prefork to Apache MPM Worker on Virtualmin in a post-install environment

On one of the sites I administrate, we have recently been experiencing some problems keeping it online when it had hundreds of people on it at once. I was told that Worker will run the site far more efficiently than Prefork, so we decided to try it.
After doing some research and trial and error, this is what I have come up with. Please note that this was done on an Ubuntu Server and may require slightly different procedures for CentOS and other OSes. Please also note that this is the experience off one install, as I have not extensively tested it. Experiences may vary and as such, there may be things missing that could apply to you.
While the actual process of changing a server from Prefork to Worker is literally a single line, you must first ensure it is compatible.

Ensuring Compatibility

 There are two main things you must do to ensure that your server is compatible. The first is simply to ensure that all of your virtual servers are not set to run on mod_php, but rather cgi or fastcgi.
You can find, and change, this under each virtual server, where Server Configuration > Website Options > PHP script execution mod. You must ensure it is set to either CGI wrapper or FCGID.

Worker is also incompatible with a few Apache directives for PHP. These are php_flag, php_admin_flag, php_value, php_admin_value. You must ensure that these are either removed or commented out of all configuration and htaccess files.

Prior to doing this, it would be a good idea to change to your root account in SSH.

A good way to find the files would be to use grep. I have provided the command for this in the example. There are most likely other, better, ways to find and fix the files, but here's a good way as, while it is fairly long winded, it'll help ensure no problems sneak up on you after switching.

First, cd to your public_html directory and run this command:

grep -E -r --include="*.htaccess" "php_flag|php_admin_flag|php_value|php_admin_value" *

It will display a list of all the mentions of any of the directives, so you may find some files mentioned more than once. You will need to go to and edit each one and comment out all the lines that are displayed. Sub-domains can be done all at once by using cd to "domains" folder, and performing the same command.

You'll need to repeat this for each user that you have on your system. If your site needs these overrides, you will need to find other ways of performing them, such as custom php.ini files.

Now, do the same to all the sites' Apache configuration files. This should be far quicker as I only needed to do it to my top-level domains and main apache2.conf file.

To do this, cd to /etc/apache2/ and perform this command:

grep -E -r --include="*.conf" "php_flag|php_admin_flag|php_value|php_admin_value" *

Repeat the same processing of commenting out the lines with these files. Files within sites-enabled are symlinks of files within sites-available, so you only need to change the ones in sites-enabled.

Installing Apache MPM Worker

An OS's package software should solve the dependencies automatically, and as such, you can switch them over with a single line.

sudo apt-get install apache2-mpm-worker

It should inform you of something that is close to the following:

The following packages will be REMOVED
  apache2-mpm-prefork libapache2-mod-php5
The following NEW packages will be installed

Enter "Y", and it will automatically stop the Apache service, uninstall Prefork, install Worker and attempt to start the Apache service again.

If you encounter any errors here, simply fix them (they will most likely be caused by errors similar to those we prevented above) and try to start the service again by doing the following:

sudo service apache2 start


It is worth mentioning that, as a foot note, I discovered an unexpected issue when doing this where our "Registered Only" plugin stopped working due to cases. It was fairly easy to fix, however. It is recommended to test your site out thoroughly on a developmental server before pushing the changes out to a production server.

It is also worth noting that you may be required to manually change the PHP Script Execution Mode (in Website Options) to FCGId for every domain you create.