Archive for October, 2005

Steve Jobs = Rosa Parks

On the Apple home page at the moment:

apple-rosaparks20051025.jpg (25K)

Cringeworthy, isn’t it? Poor bloody Rosa Parks. Her long history as an activist and the immense organised struggle of the civil rights movement has already been reinvented as one person’s naive and spontaneous action changing the world, because of course black people – particularly if they’re women as well – don’t achieve things through organisation and struggle.

And we don’t want people thinking they can make things better through activism, do we? That’s political, this is nice cuddly civil rights. Civil rights aren’t political, everybody supports them, we’d never do anything like those racists back then, that was a whole, uh, forty years ago, everything was different and we’re better. People might have needed to struggle back then but nowadays we don’t need activists. All we have today are troublemakers, what else could those scruffy protestors be now that we’ve fixed everything? (See also “Martin Luther King – Not A Communist At All”.)

As if that wasn’t enough she gets every self-important tit making the slightest challenge to the status quo comparing themselves to her, reaching an apex with Apple, above.

Apple. Apple. Don’t be wankers, Apple.

Edit: see the editor of Urban75′s version of this…

Edit 2 (19:48): they seem to have taken it down and replaced it with a big picture of a G5 instead.

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Irrational blog notspam

homer timecube

The oddest comment so far on my blog.

Curious as to whether this was a quote from some Timecube-type page, I did a Google search for “Mafia (evil) aliens”, guessing that that was not a phrase that would appear very often, and came up with not a Geocities site but… a whole load of identical comments on other people’s blogs, going back a while.

At first I thought it was spam camouflage but I can’t find any advertising. It seems to be authentic non-commercial babble. It’s got all the usual ingredients: aliens, the Mafia, AIDS, Jews, weather control, God and the Simpsons. I think that somebody just feels that they’ve worked out the TRUTH, and that they have to share it with the world, or at least a certain subset of confused bloggers.

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not your friend

gin is not your friend (7K)

a public service announcement

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A request for iPod information; video and the casting thereof

Some of you may be aware that I have a video iPod now. I’ll be writing something about it at some point, but what I’d like to get hold of at the moment are video podcasts, or videocasts, or whatever you want to call them, except vodcasts because that’s clearly just stupid.

I’m subscribed to DigitalLife TV Videocast, Insane Films, 64mm Vlog and Rocketboom but I’d like a few more. The iTunes Podcast Directory does have videocasts on it but there’s not a huge number and a lot of them look crap, so if anyone could recommend some….

A few preliminary observations:

  • it’s absolute sex to look at, glossy black shiny gadget porn, everybody coos over it when they see it;

  • it scratches far too easily and needs a screen protector thing – I already have three fair-sized scratches on the screen and I’ve just been keeping it my jacket pocket;

  • the sleeve that comes with it looks cheap and is already stained;

  • the video quality is actually really good and I can comfortably watch kung fu DVDs that I’ve ripped and converted, though you need them to be dubbed rather than subtitled;

  • a two hour DVD comes to four hundred meg or so, and it’s got sixty gig of storage, only thirty-five of which is filled with music, so theoretically I could keep an awful lot of films on it;

  • transferring video is an absolute breeze once it’s converted – you just drag it into iTunes and then, when you next sync the iPod, it gets transferred. No complaints about DRM, nothing. This isn’t Sony or even worse, Nintendo;

  • videocasts are even easier, you just subscribe to them and when there’s a new one, it’s automatically downloaded and transferred.

I would like to experience the videocast aspect a bit more though. I find it quite gratifying that people have been working on the indie videocasting aspect since the thing was announced, and that there are already videocasts in the iTunes directory, making my earlier predictions seem less ridiculous. I’m not going to praise Apple for being selfless encouragers of creativity but they’ve got a rational commercial attitude here that bears repeating:

the easier you make it for people to produce things for your platform and distribute them, the more they add value to it, for free

It’s always stunned me that this is such a hard thing to grasp. If you provide a space for people to do creative things in and publicise them, they will utilise it. The device for which they are designing these things then becomes much more valuable. People are more likely to buy it, not because they’re locked into a platform, which seems to be the generally-used tactic, but because they can get better content for it. So what if somebody buys an iPod then just uses the iTunes Music Store to find free podcasts (and all of them are free)? They’ve still bought an iPod, haven’t they? And they’re more likely to think “ooh, I’d like to produce a video diary that people like me can watch, maybe I’ll buy a Mac and iLife as well”.

Edit (2005-10-26): Just to repeat the point of my first iPod post, in case anyone thought it was all about Apple getting “added value” for free – if you’ve not got an iPod, this is still good for you. As long as you’ve got a computer, and if you’re reading this I imagine you do, you can subscribe to and watch videocasts, just like you never needed an iPod for podcasts either. The iPod is just a lovely shiny lickable gimmick. The content and the distribution are what’s important.

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Umbrella gadgeteering

It is raining fairly regularly in London Town at the moment, and this afternoon I bought myself an umbrella, having left the last one in Cambridge (I think). This umbrella has an unusual feature. Like many of the self-propelled variety, there is a button on the handle which, if pressed when the umbrella is in a state of rest, causes the umbrella bit to shoot out from the handle and open, all very convenient when exiting a building and finding that it is raining.

What this one does as well is fold the umbrella bit up again with a “paff” noise when you press the button a second time. Now, this is slightly less useful as a convenient folding method does not affect your chances of getting wet, but can still be handy in places where there is less room to fold up an umbrella, such as a crowded shop or cattle pen.

The problem is that if you happen to absently press the button whilst still using the umbrella, it goes “paff” and folds up just the same, and you are left holding a metal stalk with a folded piece of fabric on the end that is not protecting you from getting wet at all. You can’t just press the button a third time and have it open up again, and you can’t re-open it by hand – you need to pull the top bit back into the handle and then press the button. What is more, I assume due to the increased energy that a two-stage open-close mechanism requires, this particular umbrella is harder to pull back than most of them. The combined result of all of these factors is that if one is the sort of person who is absent-minded enough to forget that he is carrying a dual-action umbrella, one is in increased danger of getting randomly wet on the street, which I think is something of a design flaw.

I like it though; there’s something clockwork and Victorian about the idea. It should incorporate a moustache-waxer as well.

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The Morning Star on the Tory leadership race

The Morning Star (“the daily paper of the left”, “for peace and socialism” – available in most newsagents around here and even in Sainsbury’s) begins its piece with

OLD Etonian toff David Cameron claimed to be picking up support yesterday…

but the best paragraph is

They (Tory MPs) are faced with a choice between crafty rightwinger David Davis, who received 62 votes in the first round, extremely posh rightwinger Mr Cameron, who won 56, and fervently Christian rightwinger Liam Fox, who received 42 votes.

To nobody sensible’s surprise, “so-called left-wing candidate Kenneth Clarke” didn’t get through to the final round. There’s a shock.

I don’t know, sometimes I feel quite affectionate towards the Tory party these days. They tend to vote against ID cards, for a start; some of them are small-c conservative in the sense of thinking that civil liberties that have been fought for over a period of centuries should maybe not be thrown out because the government says “terrorism” a lot, which is a sense that I’m comfortable with. I start to think that they’re ineffective enough that their socially conservative posturing is pretty much irrelevant… but then I remember their race-baiting immigrant bullshit over the election – we really needed things dragged further towards paranoid and hateful, cheers – and I start hating them again. The irony being of course that having loads of immigrants coming into this mongrel nation is a time-honoured tradition and attempts to stop it are about as conservative as… er… Maggie.

Who is not dead yet. Why not? Her idiot son will probably die before she does at this rate, shot by some dictator he’s attempted to swindle. Still, if the reaper managed to take the Queen Mum, there’s still hope.

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ID cards back to the Lords yet again

Public Whip says:

“Should the Identity Cards Bill be given a third reading (and, thus, finish its stages in the House of Commons and be passed to the House of Lords)?”

The Aye-voters won by 309 to 284 with 4 tellers.

All of the 309 apart from two being Labour MPs (even with 25 rebelling). So it’s being sent back to the Lords. Where it will probably be rejected again, and then we will have Charles Clarke waving his willy and be told how it’s an Appalling Affront to Democracy, given that the country has clearly said that New Labour should be allowed to pass whatever bills they want. That’s how Democracy works, you know.

What is there to say really? Just the usual.

  • scum
  • bastards
  • fuckers
  • duplicitous scoundrels
  • Guy Fawkes had the right idea
  • etc.

“My” MP wasn’t even there.

On the other hand, at least their majority was reduced even further this time.

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Would get my money

penguin-exorcism.jpg (43K)

(via BoingBoing)

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Sainsbury’s, not satisfied with adding little signs everywhere with recipe suggestions involving more expensive products than the ones you were looking to buy (“Try putting nutmeg on pasta instead of pepper”, “Why not slice apples and cook them with Taste The Difference sausages and fresh sage leaves?”) has also redesigned the packaging in the bakery section to appeal to toddlers. “I love the melty chocolate,” simpers the pain au chocolat, “I love cheese and pickle” boast the wholemeal rolls and the medium-sliced white loaf says “I love dippy egg”.

“I love dippy egg”?

And it’s “egg and soldiers”, anyway.

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Ah, screw that

Oh well, bugger that. Furl has been refusing to provide me with links all weekend and I’m sick of it. It lets me bookmark stuff but it doesn’t let me or anyone else read the bookmarks, which is pointless, and even though I’m sure it’s just a temporary problem, I don’t care. I’m moving back to using which at least works all the time even if it doesn’t have quite the same features. Anyway, I went to the trouble of writing that script so I might as well use it.

I’d write my own system with comments and archives and stuff, only I’d miss out on the Feedburner link splicing and the collective aspect. I’m not sure quite what benefits arise from the collective aspect but I do at least feel that I’m adding in some way to the sum of human knowledge on the internet by posting these links and classifying them. I’m sure somebody can do something with this information.

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