Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Thunderbirds are go!!!

Just got back from watching Thunderbirds on my day off from the call center. I was looking forward to watching it since I caught sight of the trailers and remembering enough watching a couple of episodes back in my earlier years.

After close to 40 years since it aired as a series on British TV, the Thunderbirds have undergone a major facelift to a certain degree while still retaining its retro-futuristic roots. Of course, the movie's production value tries hard to retain the look and feel from the 60's show with a more current spin to it. CGI definitely brings new life and scale to the Thunderbird machines since some discrepancies were noted when the translation from TV series to film became noticeable.

Given how the current crop of movies are nowadays in the first decade of this of this new millenium are, they cater more towards kids. This catering to kids tactic in making and marketing movie is not really the definite route to rake in for the box-office goal for sure.

The movie focusses on the youngest Tracy brother, Alan. He was saddled with the unfortunate role of being fifth wheel to the International Rescue machine that his dad and brothers always go off to on missions while stuck in school doing homework and studies. Talk about being a bench-warmer for the family team franchise. Alan steps up to the challenge when Tracy Island was compromised by the appearance of The Hood, a long-standing Thunderbirds nemesis, who harbored a grudge against IR. Alan aided by his friends Fermat and Tintin (Some critics would note the Harry Potter archetypes here.) as well as the beautiful and sophisticated Lady Penelope (played by Underworld's Sophia Myles) and her loyal chauffeur/butler Parker, the group were able to retake Tracy Island and effect the rescue of his trapped father and brothers aboard Thunderbird 5 brought about by the machinations of The Hood. Alan gets to operate Thunderbirds 1,2 and 4 in succession for the climax of the film. After the smoke clears with The Hood and henchman put behind bars, Alan, TinTin and Fermat gets to inducted as Thunderbirds as well. The movie ends with Alan now as part of the IR team when the call is sounded.

In spite the kiddie fluff in terms of the story and central focus on teen characters, the movie was quite a ride to go on. I mean who wouldn't like the thrill of riding a Thunderbird machine, huh? It is a rather good retread of a good series with or without the blessing of its creator Gerry Anderson.

Today's critics are pretty much jaded and overly nitpicking in terms of the movies they watch as well as it goes in other respects of entertainment. Has it been the case for them that they have seen all to end all and they just like to defuse the enjoyment of others just by being outraged and bored to tears for going through the tedium of it? My what a cynical audience we live with. I don't nitpick things too much since my standards to entertainment are not way to high as compared to other people. I am pretty much a cheese aficionado if such a terms exists or endears. The jaded just watch movies for the sake of watching it and then criticising it to no end. I just watch movies to be entertained period, no matter how shallow it may be. There is yet for me to encounter something that merits below in cheesiness which can be considered as capital B.A.D.

Enough of my rant on that. Anyways, back to the salt mines called a call center for me and the banality of it would play havok with my sleep cycle and my creative thoughts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

C.S.R. - The Series

One application period for a day, two weeks of training done and over with, I'm now working "on the floor" as call center parlance would go. Given how my work schedule is generally graveyard shift, it makes me much operating like a vampire of sorts. The everyday worker would have their in the daylight hours. I would be going to work why everyone else is going home and vice versa when its morning.

This kind of scheduling and how taxing the demands work is, makes blogging and other creative pursuits very limited. I do try to blog more entries when my energy levels and ideas can be spared for this.

Gone through my 1st week on the floor though the Sunday and Monday shift had some incidents that really lit my fuse.

Sunday's fuse lighting was at the first half of my shift before lunch, it would go with this:

(Customer told me that his phone is having problems and wants to have the phone batteries replacement though the trouble-shooting steps on the systems says that the phone is in need of replacement. The smoking gun would start from this point.)

Me: "Sir, let me get this straight to be sure, your phone is brand new, correct?"

Irate Customer:"Of course it is! Where you think I bought this at? A flea market? Where do you think you're calling from? Mars? Let me talk to your supervisor."

The customer was attended to subsequently by a supervisor and it was done and over with. That little episode was rather traumatizing to say the least. What an arrogant asshole he was to jump down on my throat and say such trash talk!

That was Sunday shift's incident, I thought it would be a lot better on Monday Shift but no more of crappy bullshit I have to deal with plus it was compounded by a slow PC that time. The incident for that shift goes with this:

(Customer called regarding the status of his batteries to be delivered to him. The bad part was that the last agent who handled him never did process the order on account that the ordering system was offline. I tried my best to assure the customer that I would be processing his order now. This is when the bad luck with the PC aggravated the matter.

Me: "Sir, I apologize for the last agent's oversight in processing your order of batteries. Let me assure you that I'll process your order of batteries now since the ordering system is now back online."
Irate Customer: "What you mean?! I ordered those batteries two weeks ago and you're just processing them now?" (Rest of dialogue involves demands for free batteries.)

Call got escalated to my super but due to long hold time, the customer hung up on me and later got me landed in with female caller who I call the Phantom Bitch.

Female Customer calls in to inquire about a particular model of phone in stock and I confirmed it for her that we do have it. She goes on with the story that she saw a promo at some retail store that sells a particular phone model for $40 with a $30 mail-in rebate. I was clueless as to how to handle it. Call was escalated to my super and the caller hung up on me when I put her on hold to get my super. Crazy bitch demanding to get a phone cheap from us just because she missed out a sales promo at a retail store.

I also get one caller which was gonzo wierdo. This wierdo call came in on my Sunday shift. He was asking for help in removing his pay-per-view. At first I thought it was he was trying to handle it by phone in which the phone may be set on pulse dialing as opposed to touch tone dialing. The Q & A dragged for a bit like close to 15 minutes until I considered the question to him.

Me: "Sir, you're asking me how to remove your pay-per-view using your remote control?"

Customer: "Yeah."

Me: "Sir, I want to let you know that I only handle phones and not your satellite Tv service."

(*Groan* This guy was calling in the wrong number in order to disable/unsubscribe his pay-per-view with his satellite TV service. Customer didn't hang up his phone after 10 minutes on leaving his phone unattended and presuming he though he hung up his phone.)

Such things I have to deal and more so when the phones I deal with are basically trouble-prone. It makes me question my purpose in the call center, moreso with the client I'm charged to provide the service. Its makes me passionate and idealistic as to my views. I mean the paradox of it is, why am I working in a call center for client who has a rather shoddy performance with its performance and we CSR people who were outsourced by the client have to take the motherfragging flak for it?! Talk about shoot the motherf*cking messenger who tells you the bad news and doing only their job. It really pisses me off. It makes me consider to switching over to another account when I survive enough to prove to the company to merit a transfer. Makes me yearn for my old Makati job though my I-net addiction was my downfall that time.

I need some major stress relief or else I'll get bitter and burned out after quite a while. I have to put up such aggravation though it doesn't sit well with me. I'll have to do something about my emotions or else it'll consumes me and makes more irate enough to quit this job. Its just burning away inside me until then.

Sunday, August 08, 2004


Just recently finished my two-week training at my new job and off to do the real thing on Monday night. I decided to have my remaining weekend taken up in catching some more Z's and watching some movies at SM Bicutan.

My watching itinerary involves Catwoman and Garfield, a rather curious mix of back-to-back watching of cat-related movies.

Catwoman was very much a woman empowerment piece which has somewhat distanced itself from the original concept established in the 2nd Batman movie. It does however makes a twist into the origins of the Catwoman as a totemic character as evidenced in the opening credits and in some scenes that involves Halle Berry's character being tested, subsequently brought to life and her curiosity to her newfound origins. It was interesting to note that Lambert Wilson (Merovingian from Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions)plays a similiar character, though it was short-lived. I hope its not a trend he plays a powerful man yet get taken down a notch or two by his own wife by force of personality or subterfuge due to spite for his extra-marital activities. Sharon Stone plays as the main villain in this piece, though this part was a lot longer than when she played bad guy in Total Recall. The villainess plot involves her hushing up any leaks regarding her and hubby's cosmetic company, Hedare Cosmetics, on the findings of their latest product Beau-Line. Turns out that the new wonder product have rather dangerous side effects. But in the case of the Laurel Hedare, it has affected her mind and her body, I mean she has marble hard skin with an extremely high pain threshold that makes it close to feeling nil. Of course, Catwoman's diamond claws makes short work of that in the end at the climax of the movie. For the more discriminating viewer out to look for Batman in this one, forget it. Online critic reviews say how this movie was poorly handled by Pitof's directing as that typified with music video stylings as directed before to current movie directors. Its not really a total brain-check at the door but a warning sign may be posted for this before viewing.

Garfield was a more light-hearted fare to watch. Bill Murray's voice is dead on to Lorenzo Music's in giving the titular feline his voice. The initial impression of this CG cat, which some slightly disconcerting features, particularly having what appears to be Down Syndrome or mongoloid forehead for sure. Everything else was rather amazing especially when Garfield was dancing away with Odie to the song "Hey Mama" by the Black Eyed Peas. All in all, the movie was rather simple and very much geared to kids as opposed to the true blue followers of the comic and cartoon series and specials.

All in all, I had a rather entertainment afternoon for watching such.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Limits to Emulating Humans

Just came across an article while having one of my break periods at training for my new job. It started to make sense after 2 viewings of "I, Robot". It was a rather startling revelation for me, since it makes some sense as why I get unsettled with mannequins occasionally and digital ghosts in games. The article I came across presented to me an explanation. After reading the article and some spare-time research, I got a better picture of this feeling we may all have. Its actually a phrase called "The Uncanny Valley". This phrase was coined by Japanese Roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1978.

Mori discovered this phenomenon after conducting experimentson gauging psychological reactions of humans to robots with the emphasis on anthropomorphism, movement and appearance. The initial trend was basically a positive slope, which is the better level of these three qualities, the more we find them pleasing and comfortable to be with. It sounds good but the phenomenon manifests somewhere to a point in which the plotting of the graph dip deeply to negative. This negative trend indicates that at some certain level of any of these three qualities, the admiration would turn to revulsion. This unexpected negative trend in a seemingly supposedly positively sloped graph is what created this valley in the plot. The graphs showing this is located here.

The article hints a bit that when a robot appears to be 99% human, our human sensibilities would try to seek out the missing 1% on account of a sense of wrongness we would recognize.

This psychological response also accounts as to how we perceive things in the visual mediums. This accounts how people can be amazed or appalled at watching/viewing digital analogues of human beings when done up differently for movies and games for starters.

As to visual mediums with illustrations of humans, this articles say this as:

"Comic-strip artists have known this for years. As comic-book theorist Scott McCloud points out, we identify more deeply with simply drawn cartoon characters, like those in Peanuts, than with more realistic ones. Charlie Brown doesn't trigger our obsession with the missing details the way a not-quite-photorealistic character does, so we project ourselves onto him more easily. That's part of the genius behind modernist artists such as Picasso or Matisse. They realized that the best way to capture the essence of a person or object was with a single, broad-stroked detail."

But this psychological hurdle is currently being challenged currently by David Hanson with his robotic head project

It was a rather startling revelation in our human perceptions and psyche when it deals outside the usual human interactions we know. Its also a sobering thought as to how future will be heading as such.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Blog posting strategy

I figured enough from now on to prepare my blog posts as a draft first before setting it up as permanent post. Some editting and added stuff would be done to the draft version before making the post live. This kind of dawned on me when I was writing my soon-to-be-latest post since it had a lot of research and URL links put into it that sometimes, the train of thought to write would get muddled. I opted to go about trickling down the text until its fully considered finished.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Blog Posting Delays

Stupid way to get the web browser made integral with a computer's OS. On account of some attack by a virus or malware, it really mucks up the works since its workings are doubly affected.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.... That problem occasionally sets me back in making a blog entry though its a bit more tedious to use my sister's hand-me-down laptop for the purpose.*Sighs*