March 11th, 2010

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Nine Inch Nails in the suburbs

I saw Speaking In Tongues last night, the stage play later adapted for the film Lantana. The script is very strong, and I personally loved that the already stylised nature of the script was taken further by the director. I can, however, see that it has it's disadvantages – in some parts, the actors' performances could have benefited from being more relaxed and naturalistic, even within the stylistic framework imposed by the staging. On the whole, I thought the four actors, each playing two or three characters, did very well. The combination of script, performance and design held my attention well, which is hard to do, sadly.
I particularly enjoyed the play's design, most of which was by the director herself. To great effect, the sound design heavily featured tracks from Nine Inch Nails' collection of instrumental mood pieces, Ghosts I-IV. A piece composed and hummed by the daughter of a crew member worked well for an emotive scene that needed something different. Only issue I had with sound design was that the throbbing drum/heart sound was too loud in parts and kept running too long. Building the volume more gradually would have added to the effect and prevented it from being a distraction.

White scrim screens were the highlight of the set design, with effective lighting against them from behind. Projected slides both left and right helped set both scene and mood effectively. (Mostly: what was with that purple one showing up towards the end?) Lighting against the steps/platforms that formed the performance space also worked well.

All in all, a good night out. Speaking In Tongues is on tonight, tomorrow and closing Saturday at STAG in Strathmore.
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ISP choice: decisions, decisions. (And usability determines the winner.)

This post could also be titled: "EMI finally got a clue, but they still suck."

When I am in a place of my own, the first utility to set up will be electricity, because that powers the Internet access. Then it's time to decide on an ISP.

I had thought I had made my choice: $70/mth will get me Naked DSL from iiNet, including hardware, VoIP and sufficient data quota for my current needs. In theory, I could get a service from AAPT, but have typically not found them appealing enough. Competitive, yes; groundbreaking, no. The latest offer, however, seems to have changed that, with a $100/mth deal including unlimited data, music streaming, line rental and hardware. Oh, and some credit for music purchases.

At first I dismissed it, because the generic version of the site is EMI-only. However, AAPT's just using it for the technology, and has signed agreements with the rest of the big four, with independants now being added.

So, is it worth it? Well, it would be – if it worked. I'd love to be able to stream music that I'm not sure about buying, and being able to hear more than piddly little 30 second previews would make me more likely to buy anyway.

But here's where it all falls down: Flash. The site is powered by a poorly designed Flash application that crashes my browser and has extremely poor usability. If I have to struggle to queue up an album to listen to, and then have my computer's fan going berserk before the whole thing falls in a heap, then clearly I'm not going to bother on a regular basis.

So, back to iiNet as my preferred choice. The extra $30/mth is worth it for those with high data usage, but for me, something smaller is about right.