The introductory sequence of Bright is enchanting: signs and street art in Los Angeles that describe a world where the races of historical high fantasy stuck around into the present day to become the mocked or honored subjects of political graffiti.
But once characters start talking, this geeky cool evaporates into a mediocre buddy-cop movie. The swirling fantasy tropes are a trash gyre on the seas of racial allegory.
Bright's contemporary LA is also anchored in the past, all sterotypical gang violence, decrepit public services and despotic crime lords. At the top of society are elves, whose fortified enclaves echo South African apartheid more than Jim Crow. At the bottom are orcs, an underclass repressed due to their former allegiance to a long-defeated Dark Lord.
In the middle is humankind, whose own internal racial consciousness and strata are supposedly absent or muted in the world of Bright—but whose humans constantly exhibit our world's racial conscioussness and strata.
When star Will Smith's character kills a verminous bat-like fairy, for example, he declares that "Fairy lives don't matter today." The "today" warps a quip into darker territory: it suggests that fairies are sentient enough for there to be a slogan opposing the moral insignificance of their lives and that he is sick of hearing about it. Smith apparently ad-libbed the line, and offers a similar one later, telling an Orc to get his "Shrek ass" out of the way.
Imagine the cultural signifiance of Shrek in the world of Bright! Read the rest
Synology's DS718+ NAS DiskStation (Amazon) is $400 data storage box. For me, it replaces very two annoying things: a monthly subscription to Dropbox, and a drawerful of USB drives used to back up a houseful of computers.
But file syncing and backups are just two things a modern NAS can do.
In fact, the first thing you'll notice after setting it up is that it's really a fully-featured computer that happens to be set up with storage in mind. The web-based control panel replicates a desktop user environment, complete with windows, folders, icons and drop-down menus.
There are pros and cons to this. One one hand, you'll not only get rid of cloud subscriptions, recover your data privacy and have less gear lying around, but find yourself with a hundred other interesting applications to fool around with. Want a basic web-development box? There's one-click setups for Apache, nginx, common databases and popular platforms such as WordPress, Discourse and Node. Want to use it as a 4K media streaming box? Easy. Want a fancy-pants router? It has dual gigabit ethernet and can be set up as to provide DHCP or VPN. On the other hand, it's more complicated than the things it replaces. I just wanted to get out of the cloud and get rid of all these damned backup drives, but now I'm a sysadmin. (There are less fancy options such as WD's My Cloud devices, but they're almost as expensive (Amazon) when the cost of drives is factored in)
And I'll admit that I enjoyed experimenting with Synology's add-ons. Read the rest
Filco's Minila Air ($130, Amazon) should be my perfect keyboard: mechanical, high-end, sturdily made, with reliable Bluetooth and a cunning compact layout. It's even smaller than tenkeyless, but still comes with a proper set of arrow keys. It does everything I want—and fits in the same bag as an iPad.
Thing is, though, I don't like it.
My big problem is that it's incredibly thick. Even with the supports flattened, the number row tops out almost two inches from the desk surface! You can always add a rest, but that obviates the keyboard's small dimensions and mobility. My hands are like aching angry spiders, rearing up on the wristbones.
Second, the unique layout has productivity in mind, not my plans to prettify it with fabulous keycaps. I just can't find a set that I like and which will fit. The supplied ones are perfectly decent, though.
Finally, most subjectively, the bulky casing also has some asymmetric greebling at the back. It's subtle, and it has its retro geometric charm, but is not my cup of injection-molded tea.
Were it not for the unexpected bulk of the case, I think I'd be satisfied with the Minila Air thanks to its obvious excellence in most other respects. Reliable wireless is especially rare among mechanical keyboards, for some reason, and models that have it tend to be either unnervingly cheap or annoyingly expensive. I'll be trying the Anne Pro ($90, Amazon) next, but I don't think I can live without my arrows.