Virginia Tech

19 04 2007

I only caught the last part of the news about the shootings as I came in. At that time there were a suspected 20 casualties, a figure which has now been raised to 32; including the shooter. It looks like the inevitable popular entertainment backlash is already gearing up.

I’m quite astonished at this. I remember when the Columbine shootings were going on, there was a huge (justifiable) uproar. This recent event seems to be an order of magnitude more horrific.

What’s possibly just as sickening to me, is how quickly Mr Jack Thompson, attorney at law, has jumped on this. Smacktard.

This has to be a truly disgusting event for anyone involved in it, and those close to it. All we can do for the time being is offer our condolences, wait for the details, and fend off the backlash.

Kotaku have posted a video of Jack actually being tasked to defend himself, on public TV no less! I’ve not watched it yet, but I’ll have a go as soon as I can.


EMI Backs Down

3 04 2007

W00t! EMI have agreed to sell songs on iTunes without evil DRM infections!

It’s not all sunshine, lollipos and rainbows though. Songs will sell for an inflated 99p, rather than the 79p they currently go for. For the price hike you do get a increased bitrate AAC file, but it kinda seems like you’re paying for the privilege of buying de-DRMed music (check out eMusic for cheap, legal and awesome MP3 format downloads). I suppose such measures were necessary to pitch the idea to EMI, and if nothing else the move is a huge chink in DRM’s armour.

In your author’s humble opinion, I think this is the first battle that the anti-DRM movement has won. Now we need to press the advantage and turn the war in our favour!

UPDATE: Reuters reports that the EU Executive have filed charges to Apple, the Big Four (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG) and Vivendi stating that their  policy of forcing iTunes users to buy songs only in their home country is against European competition laws. Whether this will stick or not remains to be seen, but just possibly I might be able to download some Jpop from iTunes.

Anamanaguchi Barred from Entry

15 03 2007

This is a bit of a follow-up to last weeks post about fingerprinting the UK’s kids.

This week Destructoid reports that indie band Anamanaguchi (who make music with a NES sound chip) were denied entry to the UK on the grounds that they would pose a threat to the domestic workforce

Err, wah?

It’s a bit of a shame, since we were planning (well, half planning) to go and see them. Boo to immigration control!
[Via Destructoid]

Fingerprint Your Kids: Better Safe Than Sorry

5 03 2007

The Beeb reports that everybody’s favourite government (the UK’s for those not paying attention) is planning to fingerprint children for passports.
What’s next, numbers tatooed into our forearms? Mayhap I’m over reacting, but having a fingerprint database of children just seems all kinds of wrong. They justfy keeping our biometrics for ID cards to ‘prevent terrorism’, so what’s their excuse for kids?
I would really like to know what Labour’s long term plan is. I figure under the skin RFID tags and readers in every lamp post, they already want to tag our cars. Seriously, what is the real reason for all this terrorist scapegoating and sneaking in surveillance measures?

Howto: Effectively Manage Uppity Websites

2 03 2007

This story is really travelling the internet, so it’s high time I chucked my penneth’s worth into the ring.

For those too lazy to read the link, Sony is refusing further exclusive press contact to the gaming blog Kotaku, after they ran a rumour story about their plans to release a hybrid Mii/XBL achievements function to the PS3.

What I would really like to know is how Sony still keeps selling products. Their PR is universally worse than just about any manufacturing company out there (except maybe Cillit Bang). Alongside this new steaming pile, they also got called up for spraying graffiti onto non-consenting buildings, the vomit worthy All I Want for Xmas is a PSP fiasco, giving shite reasons for inflating the UK PS3 price and coming up with possibly the worst DRM implementation ever. That’s not even mentioning them backtracking on the ‘next-gen-ness’ of rumble, expecting customers to get a third mortgage to play Gran Turismo HD and trying to convince us that ¬£425 is ‘cheap’.

Well this is it, Sony can go swing for all I care. I like their hardware, but if they keep throwing their weight behind ventures that show nothing but contempt for their consumers, they can take their PS3 and insert it into their proverbial. I can play most of the games on my 360, and if I want to pay extortionate amounts for an HD DVD player which nobody gives a tin shit about, I have the option to; it doesn’t get forced down my throat. It seems strange that I’m rooting for a Microsoft product here. Sure the 360 is slightly louder than my spin-dryer, and forces me to use Windows Media Centre to play videos on it but at least Microsoft don’t act like all gamers are cattle to the inevitable cull.

Murderer’s Parent Speaks Out

22 02 2007

If you read one web article today, read this.

Back on the 19th Penny Arcade’s Gabe posted a comment about parent’s taking responsiblity for the development of their children. Written in PA’s usual tounge in cheek style, it was entertaining to read the gamer’s take on the recent killing of a homeless man, by three teenagers no less. What really makes this worth reading is the reply Gabe got by a person describing themselves as one of the children’s step-parents.

It’s an insightful article that higlights that kids problems just can’t be attributed to a single cause. I work in the Social Services department of a county council, and although I have no direct contact with our service users the stories that I come across as part of my job are sometimes horrifying.

I feel that these kids have been failed. I don’t think that anyone is born broken, but somewhere a bunch of things have gone wrong. Blaming any single cause is asinine and patronising to those involved, realising that these kids need more than just councelling is essential. What is required is a ratified and sensible system for removing them from society and fixing their problems, not just locking them up.

DRM Petition Update

20 02 2007

The response to my petition to ban DRM came through yesterday. It’s hardly a glowing endorsement of the Anti-DRM movement, but does at least state that the government will allow some exceptions to IP laws when it comes to format shifting. The question is though; will it be legal to break DRM methods for the purposes of moving media to different formats?

My guess is no. I guess until more pressure is applied to those applying the DRM to their product, the practice is going to continue.

I’ve been enjoying the amount of coverage that the DRM backlash has been garnering over the past few weeks, with even Steve Jobs getting behind us (Asine9 even got a mention on ZDNet news; scary!). Still, any movement on the fight to do away with DRM is good despite some music companies burying their heads in the sand.