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Archive for April, 2012

Pirates

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The BPI today won their legal battle to have ISP’s block their customers from using the torrent site, The Pirate Bay.

This is the first time in the UK, that the courts have demanded that an ISP block a specific site.

The reason? Obviously piracy and copyright infringement.

The BPI states

Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists. Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them. This is wrong – musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else

To a degree I think this is a valid argument, the people he mentions do indeed deserve to get paid for their work, but I have to say I’m a little confused, do these people do it for free and only make commission on sales? Or like the rest of us do they take a wage for the job they have done, and then unlike the rest of us expect to continue to get paid long after their involvement is over.

As you all know I work in a store selling computer games, I get paid for the time I spend in my store fulfilling my contractual obligations, but am I missing a trick? Should I be demanding some form of payment every time one of my customers switches their console on?

All that aside the ruling itself seems pointless, those who want to download music/videos/games or what have you will find a way, sure The Pirate Bay is a well known torrent source, but you cant take a stroll round the internet without falling over another.

This whole thing stinks of treating the symptom not the illness.

Music is so far the only form of media to really get its head around the internet and even then it is only with the advent of itunes, a service which as an internet savvy person I find baffling.  Back in the old days you went on Napster to DL music for free, now you go on Itunes to DL music which is readily available on the very same internet that Itunes lives, DL it in exactly the same way but you hand over your money anyway.

Itunes has proved that by taking what was essentialy a “pirate idea,” a hell of a lot of money can be made, most people out there didn’t DL music via napster and it’s like because it was free, they did it because it was easy, they could get the one song off an album that they actually wanted and most importantly because the physical equivalent was so insanely overpriced.

Sites like Spotify provide people with access to music with little or no cost in a totally legal manor, and whilst I am sure there is still plenty of Musical piracy out there, I am also confident that these industry innovations have reduced it significantly.

Film and TV have yet to catch up, and much as I am just speculataing, I would imagine that a lot more of these are downloaded from sites such as The Pirate Bay than music.

 In the States, sites like HULU are already taking the step towards providing free content, and many individual broadcasters have similar services both here in the UK and the US, but adopting a similar approach to the music industry would most likely reduce the piracy in both the film and TV industries.

Many of the networks also shoot themselves in the foot, when you have to wait anywhere from a week to 6 months to watch the UK airing of a US show, but a “pirated” torrent is available the day after, what are you going to do? Secondly is this even copyright theft, you have after all paid your sky or virgin subscription, which includes a channel that airs this show. You’ve already paid does the fact that you have watched it earlier constitute copyright theft?

Anyway, Ill leave you with some far more lyrical waxings on the subject from YouTube favourite Dan Bull and our very own Stephen Fry’s opionion on the matter.


 

 

 

 

Doctor, Doctor

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I read an article today about doctors backing plans to refuse “unhealthy” people treatment. It made me more than a little bit angry.

Now admittedly this article was on the Daily Mail’s website, and the 54% in favour statistic was based only on the opinions of just over a thousand Doctors. But the fact that even in that small number, over half of those people took this attitude really disappointed me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I get the whole “self inflicted” argument, if someone chooses to smoke, drink excessively, take drugs or eat themselves into oblivion they cant complain when nature catches up to them and kicks them in the ass with one of the various related diseases.

They can complain however, when people are suggesting denying them treatment, they pay the same national insurance contribution as those perfect, gym attending, marathon running, healthy eaters.

Not only that, but in the case of tobacco and alcohol for example they actually pay a hell of a lot more, take a £5.30 pack of smokes (yeah like they exist nowadays), £4.13 of that is tax, a whopping 77.9%

But more importantly where do you draw the line, its all well and good damning those of us with social unacceptable “unhealthy” lifestyles, but where do we draw the line?

Should treatment be denied someone who got an STD as they didn’t use protection, a fire-eater that burns them self, a snowboarder that breaks a leg or a zookeeper savaged by a lion?

They are all lifestyle choices; they knew the potential health risks that they took upon engaging in these activities.

Why is it being excessively fat is considered a lifestyle choice, whilst being excessively thin is considered an illness?

Other people

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Working in a shopping centre I am often subjected to “other people.”

As anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not good with “other people,” they are slightly better than “new people” as at least I am not having to meet or socialise with them but they still don’t fit in to the safe, “people I already know” category.

It’s this lack of tolerance of “other people” that contributes largely to my dislike of Airports, shopping, tube stations or anywhere else that large groups congregate.

There are many types of “other people” and I’m not sure which ones I object to the most, but they do all share one thing in common, they all annoy the hell out of me!

There is the friendly “other person”, you know the one that thinks is perfectly acceptable to strike up a conversation with you, simply because you happen to be in the same room, carriage, holiday destination as them. It’s just not right, for all they know I (or more importantly they,) could be a mad axe murderer. Worst of all you’re forced to engage in conversation or risk being the grumpy bastard that is the topic of their next conversation with some other poor soul.

Then there is the rude “other person” you know, the one who when you’re trying to get on the packed train or get a drink at the bar forgets all forms of etiquette and uses their shoulder to knock you out of the way or their crisp £50 to snatch the barmaid away from you just as you finish counting out your coppers for the larger you where about to order.

The worst type of “other person” is the shopper; they seem to have inability to walk in a straight line, at any kind of sensible speed, without stopping dead in the middle of the street. In any given shop, no matter how much space, they will find the natural choke point and park their trolley sideways so they can have a chat with their long lost next door neighbour discussing what a coincidence it is that they bumped into each other in the supermarket near where they live!

I guess everyone is some else’s “other people” and the only way to get round that is to get more of them into the “people I know” category, at which point I’m sure all of the annoying traits that they have as “other people” will perhaps become endearing facets of their personality.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nostalgia

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been feeling rather nostalgic over the last few days which has led me to trawl the internet for things I enjoyed from my past.

Sadly the internet makes looking at things through rose tinted glasses impossible, as they say nothing is ever deleted from the internet, it’s always there somewhere even if it’s buried really far down.

Unlike the old days when reminiscing over that 80’s cartoon that changed your life meant incorrectly humming the theme tune whilst playing a mish mash of  episodes that you barley remembered in your head, you can now actually relive it, in all its agonizingly 80’s glory.

It doesn’t mean you won’t fondly remember it, but it does tend to take the shine off a little.

Video Games probably suffer this more than any other form of media, ask most fans what the greatest console of all time is and they will fondly remember hours spent playing Goldeneye on their N64.

Go on play it now, I dare you, that’s one sure fire way to shatter your childhood!

This nostalgic reminisce had me looking at things I used to enjoy.

I recently checked out Divine Blood, a MUD that I used to play many years ago. For those who don’t know, a MUD is basically a text based version of World of Warcraft, think a digital version of those choose your own adventure books you used to read.  Back then I thought this the height of entertainment, now days not so much.

Or Planetarion a browser based game of galactic conquest, similar to Eve Online that literally had me setting my alarm at 3am in the morning to launch attacks or start my next wave of research.  Whilst checking these out I even came across some of my own footprints that playing these games have left on the internet.

My trip down memory lane also touched on my youthful reading habits. Duncton Wood and the Mossflower series were some of my most treasured books when I was at school and I have a real desire to read them again after such a long time, but I’m of scared of facing the same harsh disappointment of my recent return to Diablo 2. A game that I loved back in the day, but after spending £9.99 on the download last week in anticipation for Diablo 3 wished I could ask for my money back.

Dont get me wrong, going back in times doesn’t always disappoint, some things do stand the test of time, Friends is still just as funny now as it was then, Bucky O’hare is still the coolest rabbit based cartoon of all time and Marathons were defiantly better than Snickers.

Filler

April 25, 2012 1 comment

I’m afraid I have no inspiration today, nothing in the news moved me to post something topical,  I’ve “reviewed” all but one of the books I have read recently, I’ve not played any new Games to give my opinion of and despite promises to myself I have no new writing to share.

I’ve had a bit of a lazy couple of days, catching up on my TV shows and not really doing anything productive.

It does however mean I am up to date on both Eureka and Game of Thrones, I’m slowly getting up to date with Supernatural and Spartacus, and I am sadly counting down the episodes until the end of House (BTW this Link Rocks!! you really should watch it!)

So basically this is a nothing post, something to fill the page simply to satisfy my addictive need to say that I posted something, and work towards finally getting myself into the post a day club!

Noble House

April 24, 2012 1 comment

Whilst on Holiday I finally got round to finishing Noble House.

Noble House is the 5th in James Clavell’s Asian Saga.

This book ties all of the others together, albeit somewhat loosely. As well as the various descendants of the main characters from both Tai-Pan and Gai-Jin, Grey and Marlow from King Rat feature, as well as some minor links to families prominent in Shogun.

 Set in 1960’s Hong Kong, Noble House tells continues the story of the Straun and Company, started in Tai-Pan and continued through Gai-Jin.

The book spans a week, starting on August 18th 1963, but the sheer number of events that take place in this small space of time will have you thinking it is much longer.

The plot centres on American Millionaire Lincoln Barlett’s interest in Asia and his aim to take his company Par-Con Industries into that market. With a view to this he has comes to Hong Kong to meet with Ian Dunross, Tai-Pan of the Noble House (Strauns) to strike a deal.

Quillan Gornt, Tai-Pan of Rothwell-Gornt and descendent of Dirk Strauns arch enemy Tyler Brock however has other plans for Lincoln, hatching a plan to convince the Americain to partner with him and smash Strauns once and for all.

Two CEO’s battling it out over a business deal might not sound that interesting but when you set it against the backdrop of the impending Vietnam War, and the general anti communist feeling. Add some international espionage involving the KGB, MI6, CIA, FBI and the Chinese Communist Party. Bank Runs, Stock Market Crashes, Landslides, Triads, Water Shortages and a catastrophic fire and this is one hell of a read.

Every character and event is believably written and there are so many twists and turns it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen in the end, every character seems one step away from ruin at any given moment and sometimes it’s hard to know who you are rooting for.

The book adds insight into the events of both Gai-Jin and Tai-Pan with passages referring to the histories of both these tales, and as with Clavells previous works it is in some part based on real characters and events.

This now only leaves me with one more Book of the Saga to read. Whirlwind unfortunately is not available for my kindle so I think I might have to get all old fashioned and find a paper copy.

Four of the six instalments have been adapted for film or TV and with the exception of Shogun I have yet to see them. Based on my enjoyment of the books I think I’m going to have to check them out, although it does seem that I should give Tai-Pan a miss.

Armageddon – Episode 3

April 23, 2012 1 comment

I didn’t realise the date yesterday (2 days now as I missed the midnight deadline) so I’m afraid my Armageddon post has come a day (2 days) late. Luckily it wasn’t December so I’ve still got this chance to write it.

As I mentioned earlier this month, whilst reading The Devil Colony on holiday I got the topic for this month’s post.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t yet read The Devil Colony and plan to, the content of this post could give you inkling about some of the events. Whilst no specific plot elements are given away it might make some of them less of an AHHA moment.

I have once again chosen to stick with earth bound apocalyptic events, partially due to reading said book, but also as much as they may come by different names most of the extra terrestrial are fairly similar but with a different name.

 

SUPER VOLCANOES

The most famous Super Volcano is of course situated under Yellow Stone Park. So like so many other end of the world theories is this just another scientifically plausible but highly unlikely and blown out of all proportion event.

It would seem not.

Many scientist believe it is not “if” but “when”

The most recent super volcano event happened approximately 74, 000 years ago at the Toba Caldara in Sumatra, Indonesia.  It was possibly the largest explosive volcanic eruption in the last 25 million years.   It destroyed and area of around 7,800 square miles, deposited ash as thick as 600m at the main vent, as well as covering the entire of Southern Asia in 6” of Ash.

Supposedly a super volcano erupts every 50,000 years or so, as you can see we are long overdue. Yellow Stone itself supposedly erupts every 600,000 years and its 40,000 years overdue at this point. Saying that, as far as we know there have only been 3 eruptions, so there are not really enough statistics to make it a pattern.

So what are the potential outcomes of the eruption of a Super Volcano like Yellow Stone or its “Big Sister” Toba Caldara?

They are pretty grim.

To quote the discovery channel

There is no argument that a major eruption at Yellowstone in modern times would be devastating. It would obliterate the national park and nearby communities, spread ground-glass-like volcanic ash from the Pacific coast to the Midwest, and cause worldwide weather changes from the airborne dust and gases, according to Smith, who described the potential effects in detail in his book Windows Into the Earth, published in 2000.

But is it only Super Volcanoes we need to worry about? What about plain old Volcanoes?

Take the Laki Eruption of 1783, its eruption and aftermath are responsible for an estimated 6million deaths,.

But with all these things, it’s not the End of the World. Even if you buy into the more extreme views we have survived them before, that Eruption I mentioned in Indonesia earlier, well humans where around then and of course we are still around now.

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