Friday, 30 October 2009

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy

Ok, that’s a bit extreme, they’re probably just a bit thick or ignorant or something.

Who am I talking about? You couldn't guess? Why those charming folks over at the Daily Mail of course! Britain's worst finest newspaper!

So some government type (Lord Stern) happened to suggest that abandoning a meat-centric diet might do some good for the environment vis-à-vis climate change/global warming. The Daily Mail being the Daily Mail didn’t like that, not one bit.

The Daily Mail Fella, Christopher Booker (whose article list on their website reads much like an abc of things conservative know-nothings like to bitch about, the euro, the EU, the Greens, some more about the EU, swine-flu and of course the EU) , reckons that giving up meat is the most facile thing he’s ever heard. Well, he would, since his research into the subject appears to be superficial at best.

Now, Mr Booker appears to be under the impression that the single contribution to climate change made by the meat industry is cow flatulence. Well, it’s not.

I know we all have this image of cows grazing lazily on grass in green fields in the countryside, but the reality is somewhat different. The cows we actually eat are fed on grain. The grain has to be grown, harvested and transported to the cows so the cows can eat it and grow up as big as possible as quick as possible so we can slaughter them as early as possible so they can be eaten before they’ve eaten their more than they’re actually worth.

The important part is the grain, there’s a lot of fossil fuel used in the growing, harvesting and transportation of the grain to the cows (or whichever livestock takes your fancy), and that all adds to the greenhouse gas contribution made by livestock.

With that information in hand it should be clear to anyone, including the esteemed Mr Booker that raising livestock isn’t a particularly clean or efficient way of feeding ourselves whether you believe in man-made climate change or not. Remember your highschool biology? Only a tiny fraction of the energy in primary producers make it to the end of the food chain, adding livestock to the chain could be construed as a waste of energy, particularly with so many people starving in the world.

Personally I’d be reluctant to give up meat, I do love it, but I could manage eating severely less. Heavily meat-based diets are inherently less healthy than heavily vegetable based ones, and with obesity on the rise and general health in decline decreasing our meat intake would actually be a boon in more ways than simply environmental. Booker points out the livelihoods of workers in the meat industry, which is a genuinely lamentable side effect of downsizing any industry, however these people can get new jobs, we only get one planet and the people starving to death only get one life.

It does amuse me that any comment praising Bookers viewpoint is vastly promoted while any criticising or even simply rationalising any sort of environmental action is severely demoted. That’s the Daily Mail audience, and it’s as disturbing as it is expected.

freedoms_stain, fancies a burger… out.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

You Need This (Probably)

I’ve been using Windows7 for about a week now, pretty satisfied with it, but one thing I’d noticed was that I was getting a lot of “server not found” errors in Firefox. I didn’t know if this was a Windows7 compatibility error in Firefox or some sort of networking bug in Windows7 itself, but needless to say it was pissing me off greatly.

Then it struck me: The DNS server.

DNS servers are essential to web browsing, they translate the text you input into the address bar of your browser into the numerical IP address of the website. If your DNS server is shit then you may be getting connected to websites far slower than necessary and if you get the sort of errors I was talking about before than it’s probably a symptom of shit DNS servers rather than a shit ISP (although your DNS servers are probably provided and maintained by your ISP so I suppose it’s still a shit ISP in the endsmile_tongue).

I had my XP install set to use the OpenDNS servers rather than the ones provided by O2, which are evidently quite shit.

If you visit the OpenDNS website they try and get you to join up before they’ll tell you what to do – unless you want their filtering or whitelist/blacklist services you don’t need to join up, all you need is the two strings of numbers in the bottom right hand corner of the website.

There are two ways you can go about switching to new DNS servers, if you’re behind a router then you can set it to use the new DNS servers thus all computers on the network will use them too – you’ll have to refer to your own router manual to find out how to do that as they’re all different, but generally you’ll have to log in to your router (the address of which you should be able to find somewhere on the back of the device itself) – to do this you type the routers address into your browsers address bar. Router log in details vary, but your username will likely be “admin” or “administrator” and the password “password”. Once in you find the DNS settings and how to change them – that’s the bit you’ll have to look up.

If you don’t have a router (which is unlikely in today's broadband orientated world) or you can’t log in to your router, or simply don’t feel good about tinkering with the routers settings then you can alter the network settings on your computer to use alternative DNS servers. The procedure for doing this varies by Operating system this guide works for Windows7, if you’re using a different one and don’t know how, justfuckingoogleit.

Once you’re in a position to alter your DNS setting whether it be on your router or your computer these are the numbers you want:

Top set are your primary, bottom set your secondary.

If you’ve been having problems then this should clear them up, if you haven’t you might notice things happen a bit faster than they did before, either way you’re in a better situation.


freedoms_stain, browsing better, out.

Monday, 26 October 2009

More Pathetic Polls In The News

A couple of weeks ago I had a wee rant about the Metro running a story based on a poll with a pathetically small sample size and this time it's the BBC's turn.
11,000 people, not bad, but when you consider that's spread across ten countries including the USA, China and Russia it's a fucking pathetic sample.
Get fucking real people, if you're going to report on a survey make it a meaningful one.
freedoms_stain, fucked off at the news once again, out.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Ah Nick Griffin, What A Card

Wait, no, that other word beginning with c, cunt, that's the one.
So the BBC let Nick Griffin on Question Time, fine by me to be perfectly honest, the man 'is' technically an MEP now and therefore a politician so claims that the appearance on Question Time 'legitimise the party' are a bit irrelevant, they are legitimate, they have two fucking MEPs.
However legitimacy as a political party doesn't make them any less batshit insane OR pants-on-head retarded.
The BNP are a single issue party putting on airs of serious political intent. They don't really have any policies of substance, more like vague ideas that sound good to the sort of politically ignorant people the BNP is largely comprised of and have set in their sights on as potential voters.
I think Question Time really missed an opportunity to oust the BNP for their blatant lack of substance. Why bother attacking Nick Griffin for his racist beliefs for an hour? Most voters are accutely aware of the BNPs racist status by now and hammering the point home isn't really going to change much, the people who share Griffins bigotted views aren't going to blink if he sits there and criticises Islam, denies the Holocaust or supports former KKK heads. What may make people think twice on the other hand is making him talk about Education, Defense, Healthcare, foreign policy. Even bigots are unlikely to vote for a party who has no clear vision for the future of the country as a whole past getting rid of everyone who isn't white.
One of the other panelists, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne pointed out current British immigration policy is a bit on the shit side and may be allowing more immigration than we can actually support and this may be a major contributing factor to current BNP levels of support. I think it's fair to say Britain is fairly disillusioned over the competency of its government right now and poor policy is the extremists dream. Fix it please.
The BBC report that Nick Griffin is going to complain about how he was treated on Question Time, claiming the format was changed so he could be "attacked" and wants on again so they can do it properly. I say do it, and this time crack the hollow shell of his "manifesto". Attack the policies, not the man and his views.
I actually like this particular bit from the BBC article:
He also claimed the audience was not representative of the UK as a whole as levels of immigration in London meant it was "no longer a British city".
Who needs to misquote the man when he spouts this pish.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

In Less Than three Hours Time

I'll be home and making my final preparations to install Windows 7 on my machine.
Today is the big release day, and thanks to Amazons online delivery tracker I know my copy is sitting at home waiting on me,
I'm really rather ridiculously excited by the prospect. It truly is absurd that something as basic as a computer Operating System has this effect on me, but I'm a geek, this is the sort of thing that gets us going!
Right now my computer exists in a dual-boot setup with both Windows XP Professional and Ubuntu installed on it. Tonight I intend to make sure I have everything backed up, format the whole lot and install Windows 7 64 bit.
A wee bit of a change from the past, but Windows 7 now includes both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the OS for a single purchase. I think this is a great idea as it gives people with 64 bit hardware the chance to try out a 64 bit OS, check the compatibility of all their favoured hardware and software, and if something critical doesn't work they can always reformat and install the 32 bit version. I think this also heralds 64 bit as becoming the new standard. 32 bit really is becoming rather dated, and the limit on RAM to <4GB will stifle future development eventually, so I reckon Microsoft are making a step in the right direction there.
If I do run into a program (and I'm thinking mainly of games here) that just won't work well enough on a 64 bit OS I have my full XP partition backed up as a disc image that I can restore pretty quickly if I really need it.
As for Ubuntu... I really don't know. My original plan long before Win7 was even available for pre-order was to maintain the Windows/Linux Dual boot but with 64 bit versions of each OS. Now I'm not sure if it's worth it. Don't get me wrong, Ubuntu is a steller peice of software, and the list of things I prefer in Ubuntu compared to Windows is vast, but I'm a gamer, and Ubuntu isn't a great platform for gaming, particularly not in terms of recent releases anyway. The truth is until software and hardware developers start treating Linux like a serious platform to be supported equally as well as Windows it'll be of limited use to me. It's great for basic stuff, but when it comes to gaming, or running my music hardware and software Linux is lagging behind.
So, the next post on One Scots Thoughts is likely to have been powered (at least in part, I have two half-written posts on the go :p) by Windows 7. I promise some impressions once I feel I've played with it enough to give them.
freedoms_stain, praying for a painless install, out.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

I Am Not Alone

I'm not a fan of the X-Factor, I think it's a pile of wank to be perfectly honest, but my girlfriend and her housemates do enjoy it, and since I was at their house this weekend I had the displeasure of enduring it.
One of the shows 'judges', Cheryl Cole, performed her new (possibly first) solo single in attire I informed my girlfriend was very reminiscent of the get-up worn by Street Fighter character M.Bison.
Turns out I was not alone in this observation, as this article from The Sun demonstrates. How very condescending of The Sun to refer to Street Fighter as a "kid's computer game". I suppose they won't mind me calling their newspaper a "low-brow ignorant dumb-ass's rag".
I was going to put together a side by side comparison, but since I've been beaten to the punch by the low-brow ignorant dumb-ass's rag I won't bother.
Having now sat through two full X-Factor shows (apparently it takes 3 hours over 2 nights for them to get shit decided) I'm struck by how stupid the judging is. The format seems to be that a category of music is chosen - in this case "divas" (whatever the fuck that means) and each contestant is allocated a song by their mentor (one of the judges), they perform it live on the Saturday, the public phone-vote their favourites and then on Sunday the bottom two "sing for survival" and the judges boot out whoever they feel is the weaker.
Seems a bit unfair to me that you can be booted off on the strength of one performance of a song you didn't choose from a genre your voice or style may not be suited to. It means the competition may be booting off contestants who have superior overall talent in favour of those who are average at everything resulting in a poor crop of finalists, or a poorer crop than you may have had if you hadn't kicked of that guy who couldn't sing x style very well despite being amazing at y and z or that girl who couldn't sing a but was jaw-dropping at b, c and d.
Seems to me that a more rounded system would involve several rounds where points would be allocated based on an individuals share of the total votes and after a number of weeks those acts with the lowest scores would get the boot. This would ensure everyone gets a fair go at demonstrating their prowess and would prevent the less talented average singers from progressing further than perhaps they should.
I suppose it depends on what having "The X-Factor" actually is. Is it being a half decent singer who can sing proficiently over a number of genres? Or is it someone who is supremely talented over a narrower subset of genres?
I rather suspect the "X-Factor" in this case is sounding as generic as possible while feigning as much emotion as possible while singing songs you didn't write nor have the talent to.
Now I think I'll listen to a bit more Dark Tranquillity and wonder if anyone on the X-Factor will still have successful careers (or careers at all) after as many years as DT have been together - doubtful. Maybe their career would have been more glittering if Michael Stanne threw in a bit of R&B - again doubtful.
freedoms_stain, despairing at the manufactured pop industry, out.


Monday, 19 October 2009

Thank You!

Earlier today gaming news site had a competition (of sorts) to win a copy of Dragon Age: Origins Digital Deluxe Edition. Copies were awarded to the posters of the 500th, 1000th, 1500th and 2000th comments of the article – and here is my winning 1000th post:

Yup, that’s right, Jizz. Jizz won me £39.99 worth of Bioware RPG.

If you’re into games and you’ve never heard of vg247 I suggest you check it out, it’s a quality gaming news site. Recently the site and its editor Pat Garratt won a triplet of awards in recognition of their awesomeness, so if my recommendation doesn’t carry enough weight, maybe that will.

So thanks very much vg247 for the game and for being proper all round awesome. Oh, and I’ll be gunning for that PS3/Borderlands prize you’re giving away on Wednesday smile_wink

freedoms_stain, never wins stuff, but won this stuff smile_teeth, out

Thursday, 15 October 2009

New Look

Decided to go for a new template. It’s still a work in progress, for example I haven’t managed to get adding comments to work under the posts themselves, instead clicking add comment will give you a blogger pop-up for commenting. So you can still comment, but it’ll be slightly different.

Still not 100% certain if I’m sticking with this one, I like a lot of things about it, but some things a wee bit less. The text and links are all a bit monotone. I might have another editing session on the XML tomorrow or next week, right now I fucking hate the stuff and am quite happy to leave it be as it is for a while.

Credit where it’s due, I got the template here: Very thankful to all those involved in the templates creation, and thanks for letting me use it for free.

If you look closely at the geckoandfly demo and my blog you’ll see I adjusted the links, the sizes of text and widths of things. Getting it all to match up was an absolute nightmare. I’d like to see about making the post titles bigger, but again, it can wait.

freedoms_stain, not great with code, out.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

What I’d Like To See

…is a proper full ATP Tour Tennis game – preferably on Wii. Me and my girlfriend have a Wii, and we have EA’s Grand Slam Tennis for it, it’s pretty fun, but the entire season is reduced right down to the four Grand Slam events (and only from R32 – 5 matches, rather than R128 – 7 matches) with each Slam preceded by a few single-match warm-up events.

The reality of professional Tennis is slightly more complicated. Yeah, the Grand Slams are the highlights and pinnacle of the sport, but they are but 4 events in a Tour consisting of dozens. Aside from missing out dozens of Tour events, Grand Slam Tennis also ignores the rankings side of Tennis. I reckon the ultimate virtual Tennis experience would more accurately replicate the ATP Tour, bringing together the Slams, the Masters 1000 series, the ATP 500 and 250 series, maybe not the entire tour, but enough to let the player compete in 18-24 tournaments.

ATP rankings are calculated from a players best 18 results, for the top 30 players their rankings must include their results from all 4 Slams and 8 of the 9 Masters tournaments, even if they have better point scores from smaller tournaments, plus their best results from up to 4 ATP 500 tournaments and best results from 2 ATP 250 tournaments. Players who fail to qualify for Slams or Masters substitute with ATP 250’s or Challenger tournaments.

It gets deeper than that, but for a game, I reckon they could stick with the Top 30 format, if you suck so bad you don’t qualify for Tournaments they can always let you have a Wildcard smile_tongue.

Aside from the tournaments it’d be nice to have a few more current players. Grand Slam Tennis has a small collection of current Top 20 players (around 8 for the men) plus a collection of legends extending back to to the McEnroe-Borg era. I reckon it wouldn’t be unreasonable for game developers to model the full current top 20 (maybe even 30), maybe equal that number with legends, they can then “top up” the numbers with made up players – possibly even randomly generated players, so that there’s a full roster of players for playing a full 128 man Grand Slam draw.

When you consider the hundreds of players modelled for large scale team games like FIFA soccer or Madden NFL etc etc, I don’t think asking for 40-60 real Tennis players is beyond the realms of feasible possibility.

I think it would be way more fun to measure my skill and achievements through rankings rather than titles alone, particularly if there are only 4 titles to be had, plus a ranking based system levies the possibility of replicating the ATP Tour Finals, which would also be pretty cool.

I haven’t mentioned the WTA, I don’t particularly understand the women's ranking system, it’s different from the ATP system, but I don’t suppose it would be that difficult to combine the women's tour into the same game.

So, EA, finger out, proper Tennis game please, and if you could sort out bounce detection on any future Tennis games you may develop, that’d be lovely, nothing worse than losing the point on a ball you made because the game registered a double bounce when the player could only visibly detect one.

freedoms_stain, better than Helen at Grand Slam Tennis smile_tongue(although not as good at real live Tennis smile_sad), out!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

'Just A Little Further'

It's a concept most Gamers are familiar with, even if they don't think about it in those terms. It's all too easy when you're playing something compelling just to keep going a little bit further "just to the next save point" then "ok, ok, the next save point" then "ok, right, honestly, just to the end of this chapter/level/section" and on and on til it's three in the morning and your vision has gone fuzzy and your fingers are cramped...
Last night it happened to me (again), I was playing the latest Fallout 3 DLC, Mothership Zeta. Your character gets abducted by Aliens, the nasty probing kind, of course it isn't long before you escape your cell and get the opportunity to frolic through the Alien spacecraft wreaking havoc left right and center, and with some brand new shiny alien doohickeys to boot.
It's a rather linear affair in truth, you start at a, got to b, kill stuff, then you can do c, d and e in whatever order you'd like before proceeding to f, but that's the sort of gameplay that lends itself to that 'just a little further' behaviour. There's a goal to reach, then another, then another, and you're either enjoying yourself so much or desperate to see what happens or what's at the end of the goal that you keep going and going until rationality or tiredness kick in and gets the better of you, well, one of those or you reach the ultimate end...
I didn't reach the end of Mothership Zeta last night, it really was getting late, though admittedly I do have to thank my girlfriend, who needed a chat, if she hadn't been texting me there's a good chance I would have powered through heedless of how late it was getting and ended up sleeping in, as it was her regular messages distracted me from the game and kept me aware of the time. Just another reason to treasure her smile_regular
I think the worst (or best, depending on your perspective) case of 'Just a little further' I've ever experienced came in the form of Valve's Portal, a portal based first person puzzle game. Portal shipped in a compendium of valve developed games called The Orange Box (chances are if you don't know that then you're not a gamer, thus probably stopped reading before the end of the first sentence and the elaboration is pretty much wasted...). My main interest in the box was HL2: Episode 2, the continuation of the misadventures of heroic physicist Gordon Freeman in his (practically) single handed effort to resist the enslavement of mankind by otherworldly beings known as "The Combine". I was late to the party with The Orange Box, I was rather skint when it came out, and couldn't really justify the cost of a five title boxset of which I already owned two of the titles and had next to no interest in a third (TF2), so I was aware of the Portal hype, but had yet to experience it. I played Ep2 for a couple of hours until I decided it was probably bedtime, but before I hit the hay I thought I'd give Portal a go. Roughly four hours later some time after 3am I had completed the game.
Portal is unique, Portal is intriguing, and Portal is challenging. Three factors that will keep you going further and further until the unexpected end. First there's the story element, you're some sort of prisoner, or patient, or test subject who wakes up in a glass box, is given an experimental device that creates portals and is run through a number of challenge rooms to test the device, and, apparently, yourself. Your only contact throughout the event is with a computer with a bit of a personality disorder and a penchant for lying about cake-based rewards (debatable). The "Who, where, what, why?" aspect keeps you progressing forward because no back story is given and the only way to get answers is to go forward. Going forward involves solving the challenges, which start of light and get increasingly demanding of your observational skills and creativity - they're also really fucking fun. So everything about the game draws you forward.
The thing that really caught me though was the fact that the challenges only make up maybe half to two thirds of the game, so when I escaped the challenge rooms and started roaming around behind the scenes I understandably assumed the end was nigh and not that there was another hour and a half or so of game ahead of me. So I just kept going until I reached the end. And I had a damned good time doing it.
Some months later during a piss-up at a friends house me and a mate played through the game (while completely pished) on xbox360. We took turns each on the pad and finished it by a respectable 4am, although no one remembers when we started smile_confused
I love gaming, but sometimes I hate how it can grip me.
freedoms_stain, no doubt spending this evening completing Mothership Zeta, out.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Must Talk More Tennis!

You know, I think the last time I mentioned Tennis on here was way back before the final in Montreal, which was? August? Something like that (I could find out in like 3 seconds but I’m not going to). So Murray won that, which was cool. The very next week he had to defend his Masters title in Cincinnati, unfortunately losing in the SF to Federer, which basically resulted in no net gain of points over last year since he just swapped his results for the two competitions.

Next up was the US Open, big hopes for Murray there, runner up there last year, expect him to reach the final… Crashes out in the 4th round to Marin Cilic. Pretty disappointing result there, though it did turn out that he had developed a wrist injury which has caused him to pull out of the Asian tournaments he was due to play this week and next – so I suppose we can forgive him.

The big shock at the US Open was of course the defeat of Roger Federer in his attempt for a 6th straight US Open title by new boy Juan Martin Del Potro. Excellent result for Del Potro, and interestingly his first and only title higher than the ATP 500 series. So good for him, 5 set matches against the greatest player of all time have got to be gruelling,  and Del Potro really pulled out some fantastic Tennis after a shaky start.

So, following the US Open we come to the Asian season, unfortunately Federer pulled out of the whole season with exhaustion, hopefully he’ll be fit for the Tour Finals in London next month. Similarly Andy Murray ended up pulling out of both the tournaments he was scheduled to play in Asia, including the Shanghai Masters which starts next week and is worth a cool 1000 ranking points to the winner – points Murray could really use after losing a rather large whack of points at the US Open by failing to meet or exceed last years result.

The Davis Cup… Britain has won The Davis Cup 9 times. Last time? 1936. The Davis Cup is split into tiers, Britain has been competing in the 2nd tier for the last year – poorly. So poorly in fact that we had to face and beat Poland to avoid relegation to the 3rd tier. We did not beat Poland. Davis Cup ties are a best of 5 affair, 4 singles matches and a doubles. As our only Top 10, Top 20, Top 100, or even Top 190 men's player Andy Murray was of course asked to play, which he did, injured wrist and all. Murray competed in two singles rubbers and the doubles, winning both the singles and losing the doubles (with Ross Hutchins). Unfortunately Dan Evans was unable to muster the single win required to keep us afloat in the 2nd tier and down to the 3rd we go. Britain can’t keep riding Andy Murray to keep the Davis Cup team afloat, hopefully the next year in the 3rd tier will give the other British players on the team the experience necessary to compete at that level, while Murray gets on with his singles career.

It’s not all doom and gloom for British Tennis though, Elena Baltacha finally broke the women's top 100, as did Katie O’Brien, and one of our men's doubles teams picked up their first ATP title which saw them break into the top 100 doubles rankings – unfortunately their names escape me for the moment :s

Nadal is back in action in Asia, looks like the abdominal injuries he was suffering from in the run-up to and during the US Open series are healed up, he has been ploughing through in Beijing, an ATP 500 event, and as the top player left in the draw looks poised to take the Beijing title and become hot favourite at Shanghai – Nadal in fact has an unbeaten streak for events in Shanghai (including his Olympic Gold last year).

Del Potro suffered a slightly embarrassing first round loss at the ATP 500 in Tokyo, not a good return to the game after your first Grand Slam win, hopefully he’ll be back on form for Shanghai, give Nadal someone to be afraid of – after all Del Potro eliminated Nadal at both Montreal and the US Open this year – albeit an injured Nadal.

Last of all for now there is the matter of the Tour finals, Federer, Nadal, Murray, Djokovic and Del Potro have all qualified, but there are still three more spots left in the draw. It rather looks like Andy Roddick will be taking the 6th spot due to his >1000 point cushion over the rest of the field below him in the rankings, but the guys sitting from 7 to around 12 in the rankings are packed pretty tightly together, and the 1500 points available in Tokyo/Beijing and Shanghai could be crucial to those guys.

Of course there may be additional spots available if either or both of Federer and Murray are unfit to play – Federer will probably be fine, he just needs rest, Murray on the other hand has a fucked up wrist which leaves a question mark hovering over whether it’ll be healed in time – fingers crossed. Murray had an impressive run at the finals last year winning all 3 of his round-robin matches (including against Federer) before being ousted in the Semis – hopefully this year he can make the final.

freedoms_stain, Tennis’d out, out.

Why Pirate? - Part 2, Video

Using our Pirate Bay standard as above we can see that there are quite a few categories encompassed by the larger heading of “Video”. I’m going to cut those down to three core areas – Movies (cinema), DVDs and TV and as before illustrate how pirates, although violating copyright, provide services legal channels are failing to.


Similar to the music industry the Movie industry has a long founded business model established long before the Internet age which consists of product promotion, usually in the form of previews, trailers and reviews followed by a full cinema release of a number of months, followed several months later with release to rental services and DVD. This is the cycle Pirates endeavour to break.

Movie producers participate in their own form of dishonest marketing similar to that of the music industry. In order to entice customers to the cinema and pay extortionate box office fees to see films the movie industry hits us with trailers and previews, short sections of the film edited together in exciting collages often with dramatic music all intended to pique curiosity and interest. Unfortunately due to the heavily edited nature of these “teasers” it’s really impossible to gauge how much you will enjoy a film. It’s quite easy to make a boring or rubbish film look good if you condense all the good bits down into 30-60 seconds of footage. It is therefore difficult to gauge what is worth your money, and what isn’t, and at £7 a pop bad choices are a costly affair and there is no refund if you genuinely don’t enjoy the film.

Piracy at least allows movie-goers to check out a low quality copy of the film before committing to the full ticket price.

It wouldn’t be difficult for the Movie industry to upload a low quality stream of the 1st ~20-30 minutes or so of their films to the Internet to allow people the opportunity to gauge whether or not they want to part with their cash to see the rest in a theatre. There are already a plethora of video streaming sites out there who’d be happy to host the content for free, and as I discussed in Part1, YouTube has a system in place to allow the monetisation of content via adsense. So why doesn’t it happen? Because if people get the chance to see how shit the first half hour is they won’t pay to see the rest, right? Sounds pretty fucking dishonest to me. If the industry is confident in the quality of its products, why isn’t it prepared to implement this system?

Of course not all pirated copies of movies are purely for “research purposes”, some people just don’t like the cinema or have difficulty getting there for whatever reason – they still want to see the films, but not on the industries terms, so fuck it, it’s up on torrents, I’m tired tonight, can’t be arsed going out, I’ll pirate. Why isn’t there a legal channel? Why isn’t there a way for me to stream new movies to my home over the Internet? The infrastructure is there, but the service is not, why? There is obviously a demand for such a service, but it isn’t there in a legal form. So shitty tele-sync cam footage will continue to appear on the internet. The industry could attempt to hack into that demand by providing some sort of reasonably priced pay-per-stream service for new cinema releases, but they haven’t even tried. They’ve had 5-10 years to try and get something together, but they’d rather spend millions extorting a pittance out of three Swedish dudes who had the misfortune to pick a snazzy title for their bittorrent index site and tracker that became popular.

Now, I’m not naive, I’m fully aware that a significant proportion of Pirates are just cunts who want shit for free, but the truth is absolutely nobody knows what proportion of Pirates straight up steal the material they pirate and what proportion go on to pay for it in some fashion – the point here is that the Industry has failed to pick up on obvious demand and use it to their advantage.


Sort of a misleading title, but snazzier than “movies post-theatrical run”. I’m not really talking about DVDs as such, but the consumption of video in any form. DVDs are typically released a number of months, possibly extending up to a year or more after the films initial cinema release. “DVD rips” are available to pirate as soon as the DVD hits the shelf somewhere – anywhere – in the world, and in fact, often long before that, sometimes months before. The quality of rips ranges from low/medium of ~700MB-1.4GB to full DVD ~4GB, and now even Blu-Ray rips are pretty commonly available. However it isn’t the higher quality stuff that is most popular, it’s the lower end stuff that’s overwhelmingly more downloaded. Now it’s hard to say if the reasons for this are purely speed or bandwidth related – higher quality stuff = bigger file size =  slower download. There’s obviously a demand for this content, but at the moment the availability is low, and in the UK it’s particularly pathetic with the only real retailer being Apples iTunes store at the moment with limited choice and inflated prices.

When there’s demand for a product the industry should be all over it, but they’re just plain not. All I can figure is that they’re trying to defend their profit margins by trying to force consumers down the restrictive avenues of their existing business models focussed around physical media while criminalising those avenues they have thus far failed to utilise.


The issue here is the availability of content after its original air date, i.e. online streaming services. This is an area that has really boomed recently, all the major terrestrial TV networks in the UK now have some form of streaming service while Channel 4 and the BBC have been working hard at getting their archives online – Channel 4 have actually got a large whack of their archives available to stream right now (although their website and media player can only be described with the word Shite in my opinion). So that’s all good (apart from the Channel 4 setup which is Shite).

Where the problem lies is with the international stuff. Us Brits can’t watch the streaming services for US channels and the ‘Murcans can’t watch any of ours. Most of them probably don’t care much that they can’t watch our TV, but a lot of us rather do want to watch theirs, therefore there is rather a large amount of TV piracy going on, mostly of popular American shows. You see, there are often very long periods of time (we’re talking years in some cases) between the US air date and the air dates in various countries around the world, people want to know what’s happening in Lost or whatever, they can’t wait and they end up Pirating. Anybody trying to hammer out a deal that makes US TV shows available at the same time world wide?

Thought not. So, piracy again provides a service the industry does not.

That’s the end of this segment kiddies. I think I got a bit ranty and preachy in that one, but I’m leaving it all in exactly how it dribbled out my brain.

Next up, Games and e-comics, I don’t foresee either being particularly long so I reckon they’ll fit into a one-er. I may also fire out my proposal for a digital rights system that embraces file sharing.

freedoms_stain, quite tired actually, out.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Why Pirate? – Part 1, Music

The issue of digital Piracy has come under increasingly heavy legal fire of late. Peter Mandelson has been making noise, Lily Allen has been embarrassing herself, the entertainment industries in league with the Swedish legal system have concentrated all their firepower on bringing down, the French are determined to implement their “three strikes policy” and BT and other UK ISPs are fighting increasing pressure from many sectors to (essentially) police the web.

Piracy is perceived by the industries whose products are pirated as a massively bad thing. They operate under the assumption that every download represents a loss of sale, which is in itself debatable, but not the issue I intend to debate right now. As the title suggests I’m concerned with why people Pirate, is it just to get stuff for free is there more to it?

To gain an insight into the issue lets take a look at what people pirate, below is a picture of the Pirate Bays “Browse Torrents” page:


I don’t intend to cover every category listed, but I will cover most of the more “popular” piracy targets and attempt to demonstrate how Pirates provide services that the industries have either inadequately provide or completely failed to.


  • Dishonest Marketing – Choosing music to listen to is difficult. The music industry utilises an antiquated method of marketing in order to influence your choices primarily concerning the promotion of albums through the release and promotion of singles, music videos and press reviews. Prior to the Internet age this was basically as good as it got, but now the Internet is here it’s painfully inadequate. Singles are rarely a fair representative of an albums quality, generally the superior songs from the album are released as singles to promote their parent albums which may consist of pure crap with the exception of said singles – I call this dishonest marketing. Imagine you bought a car purely on how it looked from the outside, but upon attempting to drive it discovered it lacked an engine – that’s kinda how I look at marketing through singles, and yeah, you’d be a dumb fuck to buy a car without test driving it, guess what? You’re a dumb fuck if you buy music without hearing it first, and that’s how the industry treats us, like a big mass of dumb fucks. How about press reviews? Considering the uncertainty over what is genuine and what is bought and paid for can you trust any opinion that is not your own? I’m not suggesting that all music piracy is on a “try before you buy” basis, but it is a “service” provided by piracy that the industry has made little effort to provide itself.
  • Music Discovery Tools - Credit where credit is due though, they do appear to be making somewhat of an effort through the streaming service Spotify. Spotify is a decent effort, but far from perfect, the truth is it doesn’t have nearly the library one can sample via “illegal” channels, a quick search on Spotify for my last three CD purchases (The Wildhearts – Chutzpah!, Pearl Jam – Backspacer, Idlewild – Post Electric Blues) nets me zero hits. I’d also point out that I had a pre-release pirated copy of Post Electric Blues and bought it yesterday, release day. The music industry, particularly in the UK has a long history of shooting itself in the foot with regards to various other streaming services. The industry demands a fee be paid for every song streamed by these services. This fee was deemed so unreasonably high the the Pandora project was forced to pull out of the UK while recently YouTube refused to service the UK with music video streams for an extended period due to the unreasonable fee demands. One should point out that these services (particularly Pandora) are excellent music discovery tools and the potential income from albums sold as a direct result of artist discovery via these services are potentially more valuable than the pittance earned from per-stream fees – but greed is often blind. During the YouTube furore I did think it particularly galling that the music industry expected payment from video streams of content they had uploaded themselves for free and using YouTube’s servers to stream said content at zero expense to themselves. YouTube is a service they choose to use, yet they want paid for it? Madness! YouTube/Google offer all YouTubers the opportunity to monetise their channels via adsense, if the music industry wants to monetise its voluntary uploads to YouTube then it should use the same methods as everyone else.
  • Pre-release Piracy - Albums are typically recorded and completed months before their final release date, pirates typically view this as an unnecessary delay and endeavour to make available albums prior to their release date. The music industry could prevent pre-release piracy on its current scale by releasing completed albums as soon as they are finished. The technology is there, the demand is there, why isn’t the service there? Until such time as it is there, pre-release piracy is likely to continue.
  • FLAC – FLAC is an acronym for Free Lossless Audio Codec, it is a form of audio compression which allows a CD to be compressed to a smaller file size without the loss of any data. In stark contrast the “industry standard” for audio compression is mp3, a lossy compression format – the file size is drastically reduced but at the expense of data loss. Additionally mp3 is encumbered by patents which drives up the cost of music released in the format. Most individuals won’t hear the difference between an mp3 encoded at ~192kbs or higher and a FLAC file, either because they lack the ability or because they lack the audio equipment necessary to distinguish between the two (poor speakers or ear/headphones will render the quality difference between the two negligible to all but the most “golden eared”), however there remains a subset of audiophile consumers to whom mp3 is of unacceptable quality. Very few artists, and almost no artists on commercial record labels have their work released legally for purchase in FLAC format. Furthermore, individuals who wish to use a lossy audio codec other than mp3 are not catered for by the industry at present either, and since mp3 cannot be converted to another lossy format without substantial degradation in audio quality choice is limited and some people choose to pirate to have their needs met as the pirate community is willing to provide FLAC files which can be transcoded to the codec of your desire.

As this is shaping up to be somewhat longer than expected I’m breaking it up, next part will cover Video at the least.

freedoms_stain, until next time, out.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Small Sample Polls And The News

I'm reading The Metro, a generally interesting free paper available on
a variety of public transport in the UK. I've got to page 4 and
already the paper has featured news stories based on polls, one of
which was the front page headline. Sample size? 1100 (for both which
suggests it was in fact the same poll).

How statistically significant or representative are the opinions of
1100 people out of a population of some 60 million? Not very. News
worthy? Fuck no.

What really pisses me off is that the writer and/or editor is passing
off the results of the poll as if it were representative of Britain as
a whole. 1100 opinions wouldn't even be representative of Glasgow.

These piddling pathetic polls shouldn't be used as news, certainly not
headline news. If you ARE going to pass comment on them then you
should stress that the small sample size is not large enough to
accurately represent a whole nation rather than mention it in passing
at the foot of the article.

It's bad reporting, or it's manipulative reporting designed to
influence opinion, which is worse than merely 'bad'.

It'll be interesting to see if other news outlets report on this and
how much significance they place on its findings.

What I would like to see (if it doesn't exist already) is a national
poll service one can subscribe to for both polling and viewing the
results, that would be much more interesting I tuink. I think I might
investigate that later.

freedoms_stain, losing respect for The Metro, out.

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It's A Short Man's World

When I buy a train ticket from a machine and pay by card I have to
stand back from the machine two paces AND bend over in order to see
what the screen on the card machine is asking me to do. Why? Because
the thing was either designed by idiots of for the exclusive use of

I'm not that tall, roughly 6', that's not far off average for my
generation so I am quite confused as to why machines implemented
within the last 5 or so years were designed facing straight out and in
a recess which completely obscures view of the screen for a
significant proportion of the populace.

Reasonable solutions:

1) have the whole pad angled upwards and outwards at a height where
everyone can see and reach it.

2) Do away with the screen on the card reader and have instructions on
the main screen.

3) Do away with the separate card reader unit entirely and use the
touch screen for instructions and pin entry.

I think it's pretty indicative of the ineptitude of First Scotrail as
a whole. First Scotrail, a company who had their public rail contract
in Scotland extended without any debate at Holyrood or the gathering
of external bids (source coming on that one, that's from memory, not
entirely sure of its accuracy). A company who allows their electronic
arrival boards to claim a train has "Arrived" at it's due time up to 5
minutes before it actually arrives late. No doubt a policy that pads
out their trains on-time percentage.

This wasn't meant to be a train bitch-fest so I'll move on.

Cash machines are another device that seem custom made for those of
shorter stature, even those placed higher up on the wall result in
weird bent over stances with heads curled at unnatural angles. Funny
thing is when given the choice of higher or lower machines, the short
arses tend to go for the higher.

freedoms_stain, tall, out.

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Thursday, 1 October 2009

Holy Fucking Fuck It's Cold

This is the first morning since summer ended that I've gone outside
and been able to see my breath - I think.

And that means it's cold.

September had a fairly good run, I even played outdoor tennis on
Sunday in shorts and didn't feel cold, but big bad October is here and
it's time for the temperatures to plummet.

Next time I'll be prepared, fleece at the ready!

freedoms_stain, wishing he'd brought his gloves, out.

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