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Month: August 2012

Dr. No – Ian Flemming

Dr. No – Ian Flemming

I continue to make my way through Ian Fleming’s Bond novels – and this time it’s the mysterious Dr. No.

Set after ‘From Russia with Love’, Bond has recovered from the deadly poison attack and is put on a ‘routine’ checkup of a reporting station that went silent in Jamaica.  In what is supposed to be an easy R&R assignment, he discovers the evil Dr. No has people infiltrated large sectors of the locals and is likely behind the disappearances of the reporting station.  He is also apparently up to something on, and behind other mysterious disappearances at, his private Crab Key island.  Bond pairs up with the local Jamaican Quarrel and investigates.  We meet the beautiful and wild Honey Rider who’s grown up by her wits in the tropics gathering shells.  He is captured and after given luxurious treatment and dinner with Dr. No; he is subject to physical abuse as he is beaten, burned, and attacked by sea creatures on Dr. No’s torture course.   And of course we also meet the mysterious and evil Dr. No who wastes no time extolling his own prowess and intellect in true evil genius style.  Can Bond escape the torture course, rescue the girl, and destroy Dr. No?

Dr. No is another case in which the movie actually follows the book pretty closely – and in some ways – surpasses the book.  The characters are the same, but there are a few differences.  The pipe that the movie Bond crawls through in the movie is actually a torture course in the book.  Dr. No doesn’t have any nuclear reactor in the book, and his hands are simply claws, not the mechanical apparatus of the movie.  The death of Dr. No in the nuclear reactor of the movie was almost more cool than the ‘ironic’ death he gets in the book buried under a pile of guano. Dr. No’s reasons for keeping people off the island are due to his use of slave labor in the book, and his missile interception is secondary to profits from the island’s guano mining.

Technically, the writing shows it’s ‘pulpy-ness’ for sure.  Like usual Fleming novels, you’re not going to find any Pulitzer depth or anything resembling literary prose; but you will find a tight little book that keeps the action moving. His dated concepts of ‘good breeding’ and disdain of the Chinese and those of African-American descent are typically prejudiced and bigoted.  Bond’s in-servitude and only passing concern about the death of poor Quarrel leaves a particularly bad taste in your mouth.  Quarrel helps him, protects him, is more fit, stronger, of better character, and would follow Bond anywhere.  Yet barely half the love Quarrel should have got was given.  As in other Bond novels, we see the book Bond’s flaws much more clearly – he’s got far more imperfections than ever show in the suave movie Bond.

Yet there are some great parts.  In true stereotypical fashion, Bond is captured and taken to a beautiful dinner where Dr. No spills his life story because he believes only Bond is ‘smart enough’ to understand his achievements.  There is a great window into the ocean that is a technical marvel Dr. No built to show off his genius. But one of my favorite parts is the introduction of another spy-era villain fax-paux. When Bond is put through the torture maze and Honey is tied up outside to be devoured by crabs, nobody actually watches them or checks to make sure the job is done.  They just wander off at the critical moments and leave them to their oh-so-obvious escape.  Reminds me of the quote, “Now I’ll leave you alone to your almost certain doom by this complex apparatus with that innocuous looking pen and one inept guard.”

So, overall, we have the classic maniac and Bond must destroy him. A great little book, but you won’t get much more out of this than just seeing the movie.  It gets a B because it’s good, but you can get all of that and more out of the 2 hour movie.

WordPress adventures

WordPress adventures

So, in case you didn’t notice, I updated my website’s look and feel.  While I was at it, I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress (v3.4.1) from my pretty ancient version 2.? version I installed years ago.  My, how things have improved.  It all went pretty smoothly, but there were some good ‘gotchas’ that I wanted to make note of.


  1. Start from a template – The best way would simply to take one of the supplied ones and start modifying – as they are considered the canonical reference designs.  I started from one from a great web design guy who has won numerous awards.  He provides his ‘blank’ theme as a zip, along with his handy and time-saving tips to get the job done faster.
  2. Don’t touch the php files until you’re at finishing touches!  Everything you probably do should be in the style.css file – Your temptation again and again will be to modify the HTML code in the header.php/footer.php/index.php/etc files.  DON’T do it.  Use the style.css code to do what you need.  Most of the templates have everything you need in them already – you just need to modify their appearance via their style.css information.  Reasons?  Most of the code in the canonical templates has been tested extensively on many different browsers and have stood the test of many trials.  Yours has not.  Anything in those files is forever static – no matter how your page is used.  Single.php is used in several places – and in different formats.  Futzing with anything other than the styles will likely break things.
  3. Do all your development locallySet up a local XAMPP server and develop your theme locally.  Get everything working right – then publish.  Saves you TONS of time and gives you experience installing wordpress.

Special notes:

  1. Syntax error, unexpected T_VARIABLEon 1and1 hosting– When I installed my new, pristine version of WordPress on my 1and1 hosting, I got this error.  I had done this before without issue, but then I found this forum discussion on the topic.  Turns out 1and1 hosting hadn’t updated their PHP version.  Add a .htaccess file to your root directory with only this inside :
    SetEnv PHP_VER 5
  2. This does not appear to be a WXR file, missing/invalid WXR version number when exporting/importing from old WordPress version.  I upgraded from an old 2.x version of wordpress to 3.4.1.  I exported just find and got a nice, big .XML file with all my posts in it.  When I went to import it though, I got that error.  Turns out the old versions didn’t put the version number in the file when exporting it.  I simply opened up the .XML file, and added the following line near the top.
    Everything imported like a champ.

There were lots more notes, but I’ll save those for another time, as these were the big ones that took some digging around.