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Insurgent Adds More Fuel to the Divergent Franchise

Posted by cirvine on August 5, 2015

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The second installment in the Divergent series, Insurgent, picks up where the first film left us, with the cruel dictator, Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) still in power and still determined to rid the world of the Divergents.  Meanwhile our Divergent heroine, Tris (Shailene Woodley), wrestles with her inner demons as she comes to terms with the death of her parents and her friend Will, for which she feels she is to blame. For this reason, she chops off her long locks like so many troubled TV and movie femmes before her, in order to fully embody her angst. Now, can I just get something out of the way that really bothers me about this common cinematic trope? Ok. If you chop your hair off with a pair of dirty old gardening shears, with hardly a mirror and with no one else’s help, you WILL NOT GET A PERFECTLY LAYERED PIXIE CUT. IT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN! Ok, I’m good now. On with the rest of the review.

Insurgent branches off from its predecessor by providing us with a lot more to look at. First, you have the lovely natural home of the Amity faction, whose wooden domes and simple ranch-life offer up a much needed contrast from the dismal homeless shelter of the Factionless, or even the pristine high-rise that is the Candor headquarters. If you aren’t enamoured by the high-budget scenery, you also have all the beautiful people to gawk at. Tris’ boyfriend, Four (Theo James), once again takes on the role of brooding hunk, but this time he is joined by his mother (played by Naomi Watts), whose dubiousness is outrivaled only by her (unbelievably) youthful beauty.

These alluring backdrops and characters are put to good use as the movie keeps a steady pace of action and drama. It keeps us interested by always instilling a sense of panicky movement: a speeding train brawl; a crumbling city simulation; a futuristic shootout. But this virtue is also its downfall, as there is nary a break for humour, which would be a welcomed change from all the grim and grey that affects much of the film’s length. A nice touch however, are the small twists that happen every now and again in the plot, and in the finale as well. These transform an otherwise straightforward plotline into something a little more interesting, while also giving it fodder for the upcoming two movies.

Let me also add that the acting is spot on. The character of Tris has a tough combination of both despair and determination, traits that Woodley pulls off admirably. Four’s character also becomes more than he was in the first movie and is handled well by Theo James. Where once he was just a grumpy, brooding bore, now he is a little more rounded out, showing off a caring and passive side of himself.  Kate Winslet, in my opinion, can do no wrong, and it goes without saying that she leads the cast as a (mostly) calm, evil genius with control issues.

In the end, if you enjoyed the first Divergent movie, you will enjoy the second. The concept of the factions and the dystopian rebellion find new fuel in the high-budget scenery, great acting, and nonstop action sequences. With friends or family, it’s a great excuse to eat some popcorn and cuddle up on the couch by the big screen.

You can find Insurgent on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from Aug 4th to Nov 30th, 2015.

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Cortana: The Personal Digital Assistant of the Future?

Posted by cfeehan on July 31, 2015

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AI. I know, I know, we’re a bit obsessed. But can you blame us? It’s so cool! Computers that can think, sometimes more effectively than humans? How do you NOT get wrapped up in that? Hollywood appears to be as enthralled as we are, as more and more AI movies are being released on the subject. A great example is Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Her takes the concept of a digital personal assistant to the next level, by entertaining the idea of having an intimate relationship with the futuristic equivalent of Siri. Seems crazy, right? Having a relationship, or even a friendship, with a computer?

But now, with the release of Windows 10 on Wednesday, it looks like things are beginning to change. When you install Windows 10, one included feature is Cortana, your very own personal digital assistant. Right off the bat, Cortana wants to know everything about you. And not basic things like “what’s your name” and “what’s your address”. According to people who have activated Cortana, she asks things like, “What’s the most enjoyable part of your everyday evening?” and “What do you look for when you want to catch up on the world?” Apparently, she asks these things so she can get “smarter” about your preferences…or is it because she wants to get closer to your heart?? Okay, I may have watched Her a few too many times. 

Microsoft says that Cortana is likely to be around for decades, getting smarter and more powerful while collecting information about users in her digital "notebook”. Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research, says that in the future, Microsoft wants to use Cortana as the glue that sticks all its different applications together.

Sources suspect that if Cortana can comfortably be both intelligent and personable, she may surpass competitors and become the gold standard of personal virtual assistants.

Susan Hendrick, a product manager on the Cortana team at Microsoft, said that this balance is being achieved by having teams around the globe work on Cortana's software. There are language specialists, sociologists, entertainment writers, and comedians, and in each respective country Cortana is launching in, they've all been asked to make Cortana feel as homegrown as possible. In China, for instance, Cortana comes across as a “big sister” that most Chinese smartphone owners never had, and this is hinted at mostly in the tone and pitch of the voice. In the UK, Cortana more closely resembles a cheeky and self-deprecating assistant that still manages to maintain a formal demeanor. In the US, Microsoft wants Cortana to resemble the kind of co-worker you can work well with and still get a drink at the end of the day. Now that’s a lot of customization! Here’s an example of one of her jokes:

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I like your style, Cortana. +5 points for my new digital friend.

If the name Cortana rings a bell, no, you’re not crazy. Cortana is the name of the AI in Halo; she and Microsoft’s Cortana are even voiced by the same woman. If you don’t play Halo and you’ve still heard the name before, it’s probably because Microsoft first released a test Cortana for its Windows Phone software in April 2014, so she’s been around for a while. It’s just that now, she’s more advanced and definitely more personalized. Check out a video of her answering questions in her sarcastic, witty way below. You’ll even find that she’s programmed to be a huge geek – Star Trek and Space Odyssey references galore! 

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So although Cortana can’t carry out full-length conversations yet, or learn to love a human being like Samantha, the AI Operating System in the movie Her, she’s still pretty intriguing. And from what I’ve read, she has a lot of potential for growth. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for further updates but for now, we hope you enjoy playing with the newest version of Cortana available on Windows 10! 

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


Execulink Launches New Tech Glossary Support Page

Posted by cfeehan on July 29, 2015

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Navigating new technology isn’t always easy, but it becomes a lot more difficult when you aren’t familiar with the popular terminology. That’s why Execulink has created a support page on our website that includes a glossary of internet and computer terms that will help you find your way around the web and your devices! Below are a few examples of terms that you’ll see on this page.

Download – To copy data (usually an entire file) from an external source, to a local device. The term is often used to describe the process of copying a file from an online service to one's own computer.

Upload – To transmit data from a computer to a mainframe, network, or website. For example, if you use a personal computer to log on to a network and you want to send files across the network, you must upload the files from your PC to that network. Uploading is basically the opposite of downloading – uploading is for sharing your files on the internet, whereas downloading is for copying other people’s files for personal use.

Cookies – Basically, a cookie is information stored by your web browser gathered from sites you’ve visited. This can be info such as items in your shopping cart, how often you visit that site, and in some cases other sites you go to afterwards. An identical search by two different users may show up drastically different results depending on their search history and the cookies they have. Cookies can also be used to store saved passwords, credit card and address info (if you choose that option).

URL – An abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator, it is the global address of websites and other resources on the World Wide Web. For example, www.execulink.ca is the URL for Execulink Telecom’s website.

Router – A router is a device whose software and hardware is customized to move data between computer networks. They are responsible for making sure traffic between computers gets where it needs to go.

We hope that you keep an eye out for updates – we’ll be adding to the terminology page regularly! Remember – learning should be life-long. As Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

You can find the support page here!

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


True Story: Don’t Expect a Comedy, Despite the Cast

Posted by cfeehan on July 27, 2015

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True Story, a film based on Michael Finkel's 2005 memoir — "True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa", depicts just how easy it is for an innocent person to get stuck in the web of lies that a narcissistic sociopath can so easily spin. 

The film begins by introducing Michael, a New York Times journalist played by Jonah Hill, whose professional reputation becomes shattered almost as soon as the film begins. Soon after this, he is contacted by a man who informs him that Christian Longo, a man who is accused of murdering his family, has been using Michael’s identity. Michael immediately sees an opportunity to restart his writing career and contacts Christian, played by James Franco, and the two form an unusual relationship. 

First off, it is still strange for me to see Jonah Hill and James Franco in serious roles. While Hill has ventured into the drama genre with Money Ball and some of his other more solemn films – I’m definitely more accustomed to his Superbad persona. The same goes for Franco; it took me a while to shake my expectations of him based on movies like Pineapple Express or The Interview. That being said, they both did a good job adapting to their non-comedic surroundings; Franco portrays charismatic but creepy Longo effectively and Hill does a good job as desperate but skeptical Finkel.

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One character who I thought was completely unnecessary, however, was Michael’s wife, Jill. She was played by Felicity Jones, and although you keep hoping her character will become useful in some way, she never ends up doing anything of importance.

What I did like about the movie was the subject matter and the fact that it was based on a true story. Who doesn’t appreciate a good murder mystery every once in a while? This factor made the movie very compelling, and it was amplified by the fact that you knew the proceedings had actually taken place. Immediately after the movie ended, I researched the case of Christian Longo to learn more – clearly, the movie did a good job at keeping me intrigued!

All in all, the movie was interesting and most of the characters were portrayed well. It delivered some intense scenes and some definite twists, although I was left wishing it had ventured a bit deeper into Longo’s past and motivations. Regardless, True Story is a thriller that is worth watching if you enjoy murder mysteries and if you’d like to see two traditionally comedic actors in a completely different light.

You can find True Story on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from July 28th to August 27th, 2015.

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


Execublog Feedback: Let Your Voice be Heard!

Posted by cfeehan on July 22, 2015

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It’s hard to believe, but we at Execulink Telecom have been creating original blog posts for two full months now. From our customary movie review Mondays to our unique posts about tech news, online safety and internet tips and tricks, we hope we’ve taught you a thing or two and given you some useful advice. Now, as we plan our content for the next few months, we thought it would be smart to make sure that we are creating stories that you actually want to read.

We figured the best way to find this out was simply to ask.

How do you think we could improve our blog? What kinds of posts would you like to see more of, and how often would you like to see us posting? This is your chance to speak up and let us know what you think! All you have to do is take this quick 1-minute survey and let your voice be heard. Click the link below to participate! 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z5WTB6W

Thank you for your feedback!

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Blogger-Karen-bio.jpg


Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.