25 Dec 2010

There's No Suitable Title For This Except 'Sheffield City Council Leader Does Cringeworthy Video For Luxury Hotel'


He says he was unpaid.  Its still worthy of vomit.  Courtesy of Sheffield Politics and Sheffield Indymedia.  Go cynicism!  Its only fair to include his twatty defence:


Internal training video?  For what precisely?  How to be a tool?

22 Dec 2010

The Latest Conspiracy Courtesy Of Me

So when anger was directed at banks for the financial crisis over a year ago (Remember?  We're not angry anymore - its all fine) almost immediately after came the 'scandal' of MP's expenses.  The story was broken by the Daily Telegraph, owned by the almost-Bond-villains, the Barclay Twins, who live in an underground hideout in the channel islands that looks like this:




In the last week, Vince Cable has suggested he's looking very closely at christmas bonuses awarded to senior bankers and lo and behold, the Daily Telegraph release a story on him being stung by reporters saying not very much.  My tinfoil hat is firmly in cheek.



14 Dec 2010

Smartphones

Not really that keen on smartphones at the moment for a number of reasons.  Generally, when it comes to mobile technology, I'm a late-adopter.  Another reason is that, considering I'm on a computer at work, and have one at home, I'm not altogether concerned that the bits in between are filled with internet.

Another reason is that I would quite like a hackable (if not completely) free software phone.  And these do not really exist as such as things stand.  A few years ago, there was a lot of development of the OpenMoko Freerunner, however its still at a stage where you have to be really dedicated to its innards and coding.  I'm not there yet.

Google's Android runs on a modified version of the linux kernel, however its difficult to choose one which does not include proprietary firmware (as hardware manufacturers have not made this available).

In exciting news, there is now a new project called Replicant, which is a libre distribution of Android.  In addition to the OS itself, they also wish to compete with Google's Market for 'apps' (I hate that word) with a free (in price and freedom) repository of software.  If it ends up working, I might even invest in a Replicant phone.  Of course, it may not.

7 Dec 2010

He's A Busy Man, I'll Forgive Him

Ken Loach on Sheffield Occupation:


"Many people will have been greatly encouraged by you action. Your demands are entirely right. Now we need maximum unity in the struggle against the cuts. And a strategy that will give us some victories. The Trades Unions should step forward. ‘We are many, they are few!!’ Keep going, even if the occupation ends. Yours in solidarity"

Ken Loach on Bristol Occupation:

"Many people will have been greatly encouraged by you action. Your demands are entirely right. Now we need maximum unity in the struggle against the cuts. And a strategy that will give us some victories. The Trades Unions should step forward. ‘We are many, they are few!!’ Keep going, even if the occupation ends. Yours in solidarity"

Even the great need to duplicate sometimes.  Like a Warhol's factory of support.

3 Dec 2010

Technology and Hierarchy - A Metaphor

"...the allegorical use of the Reformation and the church [in terms of technology]
generates all kinds of clever comparisons. A typical description of
such comparisons might go like this: the Catholic Church stands in
for large, publicly traded corporations, especially those control-
ling large amounts of intellectual property (the granting of which
might roughly be equated with the ceremonies of communion and
confession) for which they depend on the assistance and support
of national governments. Naturally, it is the storied excesses of the
church—indulgences, liturgical complexity, ritualistic ceremony,
and corruption—which make for easy allegory. Modern corpora-
tions can be figured as a small, elite papal body with theologians
(executives and their lawyers, boards of directors and their law-
yers), who command a much larger clergy (employees), who serve
a laity (consumers) largely imagined to be sinful (underspending
on music and movies—indeed, even “stealing” them) and thus in
need of elaborate and ritualistic cleansing (advertising and law-
suits) by the church. Access to grace (the American Dream) is medi-
ated only by the church and is given form through the holy acts of
shopping and home improvement. The executives preach messages
of damnation to the government, messages most government of-
ficials are all too willing to hear: do not tamper with our market
share, do not affect our pricing, do not limit our ability to expand
these markets. The executives also offer unaccountable promises of
salvation in the guise of deregulation and the American version of
“reform”—the demolition of state and national social services. Gov-
ernment officials in turn have developed their own “divine right of
kings,” which justifies certain forms of manipulation (once called
“elections”) of succession. Indulgences are sold left and right by
lobbyists or industry associations, and the decrees of the papacy
evidence little but full disconnection from the miserable everyday
existence of the flock."



From Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software by Christopher M. Kelty.

The entire book (should you wish to read it) is here.

I Knew The Borrowers Were Real





I found one of their breadknives.

2 Dec 2010

Sheffield Occupied

Despite low temperature and some alleged attempts to freeze them out (through air conditioning)  the Richard Roberts building is still occupied.



I brought some sandwiches, snacks and drinks yesterday, and that seemed to go down well.  Today they had a visit from Radio 1's former diskette jockey Mary Anne Hobbes. 

30 Nov 2010

Way To Go

One of the few potentially OK things to come out of the coalition government was the Lib Dem promise of electoral reform.  I'm now pretty much against supporting it for a number of reasons.


1. The proposed system is not very good

AV is not a proportional system of electing representatives, but rather a preferential system.  I, along with the Electoral Reform Society, back the Single Transferable Vote which has a precedent in the UK (its used in Northern Ireland and twice in elections in the 19th century).

2. If AV is adopted, it will stifle further reform

The political establishment will see this as 'finishing' constitutional reform.  "You've got AV - what are you moaning about now".  The Lib Dems probably hope that AV will be a stepping stone to a system of Proportional Representation.  I disagree.

3. The Tories have spiked the referendum in order for fewer people to back it

In the bill for the referendum, they have also included legislation for reducing the number of MPs that conveniently favours the Tories.  Consequently, lots of opposition MPs are not going to get behind it and support will be minimal.  It can then be written off as 'Clegg's Idea'.  Which neatly leads onto...

4. Its Nick Clegg's Coalition Dealbreaker

People hate him these days.  Why would they want to help him get something he wants after letting so many people down?

22 Nov 2010

Movember

I fucking hate 'Movember'.

Its a troll-ish thing to say, and on face value [boom!] it sounds quite harsh, because if you're ever critical of a person's method of raising money or awareness of an issue, you sir, are the cunt de rigeur.

My problem is with Movember is my lack of ability to articulate what it is about Movember that irritates me so.  I suppose on one level, its the cloying whimsy.  It feels like a ker-razy student prank.  But on a more gentlemanly level, I take beards and moustaches seriously.  I don't think growing one should be a 'thing' - least of all a humorous one.  When I see a good moustache or beard, I think "There's a chap who's spent a bit of time on that.  He may or may not care or know that his individual style is du jour.  God speed that Gent".

What spurred me to write this, somewhat later than initially planned, was that I made a decision to go for some mutton chops for no other reason than sometimes its good to see what something looks like.  Now, circumstances involving illness have transpired which has delayed this project somewhat, however early in the mutton days, I was confronted on no fewer than 6 occasions where people have pointed (fine), smiled (fine) and then said "Cool - is that for Movember?"  (cue blinding fucking rage).  "No"  the more-witty narrative-in-my-head version-of-conversations-past version of me thinks/says, "ITS A FUCKING BEARD GROWN BECAUSE I CAN GROW A FUCKING BEARD.  NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE A WHIMSICAL CHARITY EVENT".

Also, why should blokes care about testicular cancer exclusively?  Its like the fun runs for breast cancer only involving women.  Sure, you can get involved, but it seems to be part of a greater process of compartmentalising illnesses into "Will it affect me?  Yeah?  I'd better do a fucking run then" or "Fuck cervical cancer, I'm all man, me".  We all know people, and consequently, we could ALL be affected by any illness.  Having a relative die of one will not spure me into favouring that terminal disease over another when it comes to fundraising.

I'm off to shave anyway.

A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youth

Alright The Captain are a nice band from Nottingham via Northern Ireland.  They're on a compilation that is available free at the mo.  Yes I know its post-rock (yawn) but I've been pleasantly surprised.  Good drug music at the very least.

It looks like this:


And the link?  Well its here of course.

16 Nov 2010

Johnny Actually Flies!

Two years ago, I received this email at work:

"Hi,

My name is Johnny, am an Orphan and I love aviation so deeply.

I am applying for 2009 but honestly do not have any means of paying for my study.

Please how best would help and advice me [sic].

Warm regards

Johnny"


Which lead me to write this post and draw this cartoon.  In a strange twist of fact becoming fiction and then back to fact again, the Guardian newspaper recently published this article.

Johnny lives!

4 Nov 2010

Work In The Public Sector?

Lots of public sector websites have forms and documents to download.  Lots of said organisations also offer a link to Adobe Acrobat for the purpose of reading them.

So, as these bodies are publicly-funded, Adobe is getting both free advertising, and help in cementing their monopoly.  The Free Software Foundation Europe is presently lobbying organisations across the continent to remove links to Adobe, and offer a useful page in its place.  Link below.  I've taken as many references to Adobe down as possible in my workplace - how about you?


31 Oct 2010

Eon Satifaction Survey

Question 2.

Based on what you know about E.ON, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague? Please use a 0-10 scale, where 0 represents "Not at all likely" and 10 "Extremely likely

1
---

Question 3.
Please explain the reason for your answer to the previous question?

Eon have kept me waiting on a non-geographic (e.g. 0845) number for ages, costing me money. The automated voice is harsh and unpleasant sounding, and Eon are responsible for the destruction of the Tinsley Towers in Sheffield, so I'm not the biggest fan.
---

Question 5.

Why don't you currently choose to pay for your energy by Direct Debit?

Option 10 - I don't trust you to get it right
---

Question 8.

Do you have any other comments or feedback, to help improve our customer service in the future?

A FREEPHONE number for paying bills. More accurate estimation of bills. Fewer instances of knocking down local landmarks. Calling in to read meter at weekends when I'm more likely to be in. Essentially, I'll only be a fan when you're TAKEN BACK INTO PUBLIC OWNERSHIP and not motivated by profit.

Fred [Abdel]baset [Ali al-Megrahi]

Whenever I hear the name of the Lockerbie Bomber, I think of a Daily Mail strip...

28 Oct 2010

Tipz For Spammerz

From: xxxlxxxxxsonxx77@gmail.com
Subject: hi my love!

1 attachment: pic.exe
Hello my love! I am attaching some naked pics for you to see!

-------------------------------------------------------------

Hello Joel Peterson,

Most people would realise that an executable file as an attachment is a big no no. If you really want to spread malware, you're probably better off hiding it in a zip file or something, or alternatively linking to a temporary site where one's computer can be infected and used as a zombie to point other users towards fake pharmacy websites.

Also, when one has access to THE INTERNET, the appeal of 'naked pics' is not really enough to warrant taking a gamble on downloading an attachment that could kill many PCs (not mine as I am not an endorser of Microsoft software - note the smugness).

I despair at this poor level of spam - come on! Pull your socks up! I recommend maybe putting out a bit of 'download from youtube' software to get your clients in. Just a tip.

All the worst,

Hariettzz F-ree V1agra

11 Oct 2010

24 Sep 2010

Ken Livingstone

"[These ideas] will not even be in the manifesto, because this government is preparing legislation on local government and they could include clauses to prevent me doing it. So I've got some ideas, but sadly, you'll just have to wait until after election day."

Whatever you think of him, them's fighting talk, Ken. I like that fighting talk.

23 Sep 2010

Its a new Term


I wore a tie. They still spoke to me though.

17 Sep 2010

Bestiality - Where To Holiday

Following a discussion surrounding the Yoga Bear, an acquaintance commented "Is it wrong to be slightly aroused" to which I answered "Its fine so long as you don't act on those urges".

To which another colleague turned to me saying "Is bestiality even illegal in Finland?". I hoped that question was rhetorical, rather than there existing an assumption that I am knowledgeable about such things. Still, it felt a little like a challenge so I looked it up.

Most common law countries seem to have legislation in terms of both animal protection and sex with animals. This is also the case across much of Europe, except Denmark, where there exist no restrictions should you wish to bugger a heron. Sweden only started to be concerned after a spate of 'horse-ripping' incidents. Its weirder than it sounds.

Its illegal in Peru for a man to have sex with an alpaca
. I didn't see mention of any other animals.

Most fans seem to prefer horses (giving and receiving), which of course carries its fair share of risks.

13 Sep 2010

Dave Eggers

Time to Celebrate



from an email:

"Dr. Abdul Kalam's Letter to Every Indian

APJ Abdul Kalam at SpeechWhy is the media here so negative?
Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements?
We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?
We are the first in milk production.
We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.
We are the second largest producer of wheat.
We are the second largest producer of rice."

We're number one!

12 Sep 2010

No Borders Camp 2010

Good call on the zombie logo...

"Since the crisis of Greece and the euro in early May, the European Union has become a political zombie: its neoliberal and monetarist brain is damaged, but it continues to create havoc and disaster. Merkel, whose inaction has escalated the cost of the financial crisis from €45 to €45billion, is imposing her mantra on Europe: Austerity, Austerity, Austerity.

Cuts in public spending and wage freezes are imposed on a society already made precarious by the Great Recession. Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium: nobody is sheltered from the attack on the european welfare state by global finance.

Barroso (Commission in Brussels) and Trichet (Central Bank in Frankfurt), although they would like to handle the crisis themselves instead of national governments, concur that only swift cuts can restore the faith of financial markets in the euro. International banks and speculators are demanding that all of us foot the bill for the deficits created two years ago to save their asses.

Austerity will worsen the crisis, which has already made millions of precarious unemployed, and plunge the european economy into deflation, in a vicious circle of recession and unemployment, mounting xenophobia and nationalism.

Against this process, we have to defend social rights and transform european society, resist and create. There’s but one solution which could take us forward : A social & ecologic Europe. where present european élites are finally neutralized, and the present course toward deflation is reversed to subsidize the emerging p2p european democracy. We need to stop financing banks, public spending must support a commons-based economy, creativity and social innovation."

More here...

10 Sep 2010

Calm Down, Hotheads



Surely the way we can deal with this Koran burning nonsense is to gather every religious book and have a jolly old bonfire, with snacks. Everyone will see everyone else's book go up in flames in an orgy of enjoyable warm catharsis. Problem solved.

A few other issues come to mind however:

1. At what point does an incandescent tome become offensive? If you just tore off a little strip off the page with the publishing details and set it alight, does that count?

2. How about if a book repository caught fire, and the authorities suspected arson? The culprit would have knowingly set fire to it, but would not have known the place contained Korans/Torahs etc.

3. What if one cut out loads of words from newspapers, kidnap-style, and an over a period of time, assembled an entire replica of a religious text, and then set that on fire. In a way, the manufacturer/keen craftsperson made that - when does the ownership revert to God?


Bless you all, you mentalists.

Oh yeah, if you didn't see Colin Blakemore on 'The Case For God' recently, here he is:

27 Aug 2010

Apple Invent 'Traitorware'


The custodians of the well-designed brushed-metal prisons that are Apple products not only want the power to disable your property, but also to spy on you.

If there was ever a reason to have control over the technology in your pocket, this would be it:

"Essentially, Apple's patent provides for a device to investigate a user's identity, ostensibly to determine if and when that user is "unauthorized," or, in other words, stolen. More specifically, the technology would allow Apple to record the voice of the device's user, take a photo of the device's user's current location or even detect and record the heartbeat of the device's user. Once an unauthorized user is identified, Apple could wipe the device and remotely store the user's "sensitive data." Apple's patent application suggests it may use the technology not just to limit "unauthorized" uses of its phones but also shut down the phone if and when it has been stolen.

However, Apple's new technology would do much more. This patented device enables Apple to secretly collect, store and potentially use sensitive biometric information about you. This is dangerous in two ways: First, it is far more than what is needed just to protect you against a lost or stolen phone. It's extremely privacy-invasive and it puts you at great risk if Apple's data on you are compromised. But it's not only the biometric data that are a concern. Second, Apple's technology includes various types of usage monitoring — also very privacy-invasive. This patented process could be used to retaliate against you if you jailbreak or tinker with your device in ways that Apple views as "unauthorized" even if it is perfectly legal under copyright law."


Says the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They conclude:

"This patent is downright creepy and invasive — certainly far more than would be needed to respond to the possible loss of a phone. Spyware, and its new cousin traitorware, will hurt customers and companies alike — Apple should shelve this idea before it backfires on both it and its customers."

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The best leaks seem to come from the CIA Red Cell which "has been charged by the Director of Intelligence with taking a pronounced "out-of-the-box" approach that will provoke thought and offer an alternative viewpoint on the full range of analytic issues."

This one about winning the propaganda war in Europe in relation to the Afghan war is quite fun. Its amazing that such simplistic viewpoints are considered at senior level. The one about the US exporting terrorism covers points about how US citizens freedoms make them appealing for foreign terrorist groups:

"If the US were seen as an exporter of terrorism, foreign partners may be less willing to
cooperate with the United States on extrajudicial activities, including detention, transfer,
and interrogation of suspects in third party countries."

Maybe they're not willing to be helpful because they don't like 'extrajudicial activities' such as rendition and torture. Just a thought.

20 Aug 2010

Manhattan Mosque

"We've been building Ground Zeros next to mosques since 2003..."



Utter pricks.

10 Aug 2010

Mike Mullen



US big cheese accuses someone of having blood on their hands. Stop Press.

3 Aug 2010

“This is an outstanding example of India-UK defence and industrial partnership..."

"...and this agreement will bring significant economic benefits to both our countries.”

David Cameron said after India agreed to pay £700m for hawk training jets (they're the ones we used to sell to Indonesia to help crush those pesky East Timorese). The 'economics benefits' Dave speaks of is actually to secure just 200 jobs in the UK. £3.5m per job.

CAAT speaks:


*The deal goes against the UK government's own arms export guidelines, which stipulate that arms exports should only go to countries not involved in ongoing conflicts. Figures show that at least 1500 people were killed in regional conflicts in Assam, Manipur and Kashmir in 2008.

*We should be exporting goods that would help alleviate such high levels of poverty instead of goods that only benefit a small number of multi-national corporations with morally dubious records such as BAE.

2 Aug 2010

15 Jul 2010

Farnborough Air Show

It sounds fairly innocuous.

However the last one in 2008 resulted in £88bn of arms sales, and is the UK's second biggest arms fair. I like the way they're called a 'fair'. It makes me think there should be morris dancers, with weapons. If only.

Our friend Liam Fox, the defence minister is going along (as a Tory I suppose this is par for the course) but Vince Cable will also be joining him. Congratulations LibDems on killing another part of your reputation (Cable and the Lib Dems used to campaign against government subsidising the arms trade).

It all comes down to the ADS Group who organise the fair, who allegedly put political pressure on both the Libs and the Cons at election time. A member of the ADS board, Sandy Wilson, is also the UK managing director of General Dynamics, which beat BAE Systems (Britain biggest arms manufacturer) to a £4bn contract for armoured reconnaissance vehicles.

29 Jun 2010

Carpenter and Technology

"Our locomotives, machinery, telegraphic and postal systems; our houses, furniture, clothes, books, our fearful and wonderful cookery, strong drinks, teas, tobaccos; our medical and surgical appliances; high-faluting sciences and philosophies, and all other engines hitherto of human bewilderment, have simply to be reduced to abject subjection to the real man. All these appliances, and a thousand others such as we hardly dream of, will come in to perfect his power and increase his freedom; but they will not be the objects of a mere fetish-worship as now. Man will use them, instead of their using him."

Edward Carpenter - Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure, 1893.

22 Jun 2010

Fuck Eton

Dear Osborne,

I feel it would be somewhat amiss if I didn't let you know at this point that there will be a lot of angry sarcasm in the following words.

VAT is a regressive tax that hits the poorest hardest. I was taught about indirect taxation in year 9 ("Each extra pound you earn is worth less than the previous one, so a fair tax would increase as you earn more. VAT has a flat rate, so it represents a higher percentage of total earnings for those on lower incomes"). I can get you my GCSE teacher if you want it explaining. What? You do understand? Ahhhh, you're just a Tory cunt.

Bank taxes are an awesome populist move. What a shame we can't charge them for *their* crisis. Oh, hang on, I see you've got a levy for banks, so that's good...oh... and building societies? WTF? Building societies are mutual societies, give 'em a fucking break. It was the Tories that allowed greedy shitbags within building societies to become banks in the first place - the Carpetbaggers fucking Charter, courtesy of John Major (that grey one from the 1990s). Remember Northern Rock? That was a building society. Remember Nationwide? No, you don't need to remember, as its still standing.

Our awesome 'euro-style' coalition means that the image of the Tories as Cut-Happy Ballbags is moderated by the influence of the Lib Dems. The NEW POLITICS. YESSSSSS. Either that, or the LibDems are the ones that are going to be the Cuts-Fuck Bitch. I know where you can get a gimp mask, Nick.

I agree with Nick
I agree with Nick
I agree with Nick

George, can you ask Nick why he allowed £105m of projects to be cut for the constituency he was proud to bang on about during the 'Prime Ministerial Debates'? The £80m for Forgemasters was what's called a loan. i.e. If they can buy stuff and make more stuff, the treasury will see some more tasty receipts, WITH INTEREST.

Sheffield got fucked over in the 1980's where projects ground to a halt, and we were left with building sites that even the most optimisitic found difficult to spin as local charm. I look forward to seeing how the Retail Quarter (currently rubble) will be spun to the local artisans.

Best wishes,

PS Give my regards to the financial sector and the South East.

20 Jun 2010

Horn


One of my colleagues is leaving for more money elsewhere. Whilst in residence he frequently re-applied cologne to himself. It was however, more frequently known as his 'horn' (see above).

19 Jun 2010

Horrid

The flag of St George may not be a particularly interesting design, but its easy to draw, and easily recognisable:



As opposed to say, the detail inherent in Cambodia's:



So why in a period where it seems to be important to wave an England flag are more people not bothered about it being sullied? The most frequent example is this one:


So you're so into your patriotism that you require a reminder of what the flag means? Or is it for the benefit of those unfamiliar? I would say the worst version is this one:



For some reason, few people seem to appreciate the irony of the flag of England being sponsored by a Danish brewery.

Football pricks.

8 Jun 2010

I AM CREATION

"Creator-Innovators are usually imaginative and good at initiating new ideas or concepts.

They are future-orientated. They tend to work in intensive
bursts and during these times are prone to absent-mindedness. Typically, they do not like to be held to deadlines but prefer to pursue their own curiosity in their own way. They can be difficult people to manage not because they are argumentative but because they are difficult to predict and control.

They are usually searching for the "new way" and often may feel misunderstood as they work in areas which are on the edge of the unknown.

Usually they do not care to work within a formal system. They prefer to work at their own pace in their own way and very often in their own time. They do not believe new ideas and creativity can be turned on. While they may work hard they search for the "flash" which will give them the insight they need for a sustained burst of energy."

Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile

Brown Lane

16 May 2010

Chomsky Arrested

From Al Jazeera

"Noam Chomsky, a renowned Jewish-American scholar and political activist, has been barred from entering Israel.

Chomsky was denied entry as he attempted to cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan on Sunday.

The lingusitics professor, who frequently speaks out against Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been scheduled to give a lecture at Birzeit University in the West Bank.

"I went with my daughter and two old friends. We went in the normal way to the border where we were all interrogated. They were particularly interested in me," he told Israel's Channel 10.

Chomsky said the border officials were "very polite," as they "transmitted inquiries from the [Israeli] ministry of the interior".

He said he was denied entry because "the government did not like the kinds of things I say and they did not like that I was only talking at Birzeit and not at an Israeli university too".

"I asked them if they could find any government in the world that likes the things I say," Chomsky said."



I JUST DON'T KNOW

"Please untick this box if you do not consent to us contacting you for further information.

11 May 2010

BBC and the iPlayer

Since 2007, the BBC has implemented an on-demand TV and Radio service, iPlayer, which aimed to provide BBC content over the web. Whilst the move to this has been broadly welcomed, there is also a growing criticism that BBC has not stuck to its promise to be 'platform-neutral', and in recent times the technology behind it has become increasingly locked-down, favouring Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and proprietary software as a delivery method (Adobe Flash).

Part of the technology used was something called Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP), and without getting too detailed, this splits video and audio data into fragments to help ensure the smooth viewing and listening. As much of this technology was reliant upon users having Adobe technology installed, an open-source version, RTMPDump was created and hosted by Sourceforge.

RTMPDump was a principle part of a fantastic bit of free software called get_iplayer which enabled people to search and record BBC TV and Radio. The TV one would convert the streams into a file that could be played anytime, whilst with radio, it would convert any BBC radio to MP3 - essentially making all BBC radio like a podcast.

Adobe got pissed off at this and threw their toys out of the pram. They used the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) to call for RTMPDump to be removed, as they saw it as circumventing Digital Restrictions Management. This was a bit of an arse, but it didn't stop people from finding versions of it hosted elsewhere, and anyway, in the UK, BBC stuff is broadcast, free-to-air, so no biggie, right?

Wrong. In February 2010, the Beeb introduced something called a SWF verification layer, which essentially prevented people implementing open-source versions of the protocol used, so despite much of iPlayer technology coming from the free and open source community, the BBC decided to slap them in the face by locking them out.

This was the final straw for the developer behind get_iplayer, and he made his thoughts clear in this post, saying:

"The BBC iPlayer is built on many open-source products and yet, in this case, they have failed to let open-source clients access the very same service. The BBC have clearly not followed the spirit of open-source here."

Thankfully, if you know where to look, get_iplayer is still available (it uses a fork of RTMPDump called flvstreamer, which has the Adobe's 'offending' parts removed). Its a bit slower now at getting TV streams, but it creeps along.

Essentially, license fee money now goes to subsidising Adobe. Hurrah for the BBC charter.

29 Apr 2010

Emma Goldman


"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal"

1869-1940

20 Apr 2010

How To Keep A Freezer Working If You're My Dad

This is my Ma and Pa's chest freezer from ages past. For around 20 years, it has managed to keep a temperature of around -18ºC. When they went on holiday, my mum would call and tell me to open it for around 5 minutes per day, as it got a bit excited and sunk to -30ºC if it wasn't given attention.



Recently, the temperamental temperature device within it finally gave up the goats, and the freezer went a bit mental, freezing as hard as it could, like a sub-zero electronic Spartan. Rather than paying for costly repairs, or even more costly total replacement, my father instead decided to monitor the temperature, and plot a graph to work out how long it needs to be switched on in order to maintain -18ºC. Turns out its around 23 minutes on, and then 23 minutes off each hour.



Armed with this knowledge, the next stage is acquiring a time switch that can be plugged into the mains.



And the atmosphere is restored.

9 Apr 2010

How To Create A Constitutional Crisis

1. Register to vote in a constituency of a major party leader.
2. Purchase indelible ink and ice-cube bags
3. Fill bag(s) with ink, conceal on person
4. Wait until quite late on polling day
5. Go to polling station, put small ink bags inside folded voting paper
6. Glue small drawing pin to thumb
7. Whilst putting ballot paper in box, puncture bag through paper

Hopefully, your smaller party political leader will now have his election result queried, and delay him being elected. In a hung parliament, other major parties now turn to the smaller one in the hope of forming a coalition, but oh no! Their leader hasn't been elected.

2 Apr 2010

Sainsburys

"Dear...

Thank you for contacting us.


I appreciate your concerns about the sourcing of our products. Our customers expect to buy high quality products all year round and this means we do source some of our products from Israel and the West Bank, especially at times when we're unable to get a plentiful supply closer to the UK. In the past we've received requests to boycott the products of many different countries and suppliers.

We do understand that the situation in the Middle East is very sensitive for many different people. However, I'm sure you'll appreciate that we'd prefer to give our customers the opportunity to make their own decision. This is why we work hard to make sure we label our products clearly. We take our guidance on how to label the country of origin on products from DEFRA.

We're pleased that they've recently issued guidance which gives retailers greater clarity on how to label produce. We source from both Palestinian and Israeli farms on the West Bank so, depending on where they are coming from, we label products as 'West Bank (Israeli settlement produce)' or 'West Bank (Palestinian produce).


We are founding members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and require all our suppliers to meet the ETI Base Code for ethical sourcing. The Code covers nine key principles, including safe and hygienic working conditions, and payment of a fair wage. We continue our commitment to ethical, responsible sourcing and hope you feel reassured of our intentions to provide our customers with honest and open information about the food they buy.


I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with us.

Kind regards

Lesley-Anne McKernan

Customer Manager"



--------

"Dear Lesley

I can understand the decision on not boycotting a specific country, but
the West Bank is illegally occupied (this is recognised by the UN).
By your logic, you would not object to me squatting in one of your
stores, selling your produce.

I hope you reconsider, and then I can reconsider shopping at Sainsburys.

Thank you for your time."


29 Mar 2010

I Suppose I Collect Letters from Pedantic Anarcho Types

Who's The Enemy Now?

"The real danger is not Microsoft. It's just one of many proprietary-software companies today, just like IBM, Oracle or Google. The real danger is the new software model that is promoted, to the greatest degree, by Apple, and to smaller degree by companies like Amazon with its Kindle product. The software model that is more proprietary than Microsoft and others ever imagined. It controls not only the source of their own system, the protocols and (proprietary) communication standards, but also the whole software platform it delivers together with the hardware that is tightly connected with it. In iPhone App Store it's not you who decides about the software you want to install on your device. It's the device manufacturer that makes the decision. And the decisions it makes are not for your own good but for the benefit of the platform host. Some company wants to sell (or give!) you software that you may find useful, like, say, an alternative web browser (Opera) or video technology (Adobe Flash)? Well that's not so easy anymore. The device manufacturer needs to accept it first. And if it doesn't, because, say, it's a competing technology that it does not want to promote, it simply bans it, so that a non-technical user is not capable of installing it herself.

In the service-oriented business it's not an open vs closed source battle anymore. It's much more important than that. It's and open vs closed world. And the "opponent" to those who enjoy freedom of choice is not Microsoft anymore. It's Apple and their numerous followers."

From Michuk

26 Mar 2010

LOL Americans.

"Arghhh! Healthcare for the poor!"


"Arghhh! Death taxes!"


"Tell the radicals to stop progressively destroying our country!"

"I for the life of me can not figure out why we have not declared a civil war on the polticians yet. Hell they are pushing down our thorats what we do not want in this country."

23 Mar 2010

Dreadful Deeds



I forgot what a proto-riot grrl style icon Marmalade Atkins was.

21 Mar 2010

WikiLeaks

I often visit Wikileaks not because I'm a journalist or dissident, or that I hold enough vital information to bring down a state (I'm working on it), but mainly because when I find out that something is meant to be secret, I automatically want to know what that secret is. More of a reflex than anything noble.

Great then, when I saw the little-reported news story that US Intelligence were so concerned about Wikileaks, they worked to find ways to destabilise it. Now, I wont go as far as others in saying "US Govt Try To Attack Wikileaks" but its good fun nonetheless. Here are some points and quotes from the document:

  • The report has a great title: "Wikileaks.org - An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups". Hooray! Terrorists - we haven't heard from them in a while. It also mentions as its purpose "This special report assesses the counterintelligence threat posed by the Wikileaks.org website".
  • "The possibility that current employees or moles within the DoD or elsewhere in the US government are providing sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out" - I'd concur.
  • I found it quite interesting that the US military are alleged to have used mobile phone jamming technology to counter the use of Improvised Explosive Devices. Not a big story, but fun.
  • They complain about the release of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay: "The unauthorized release of the SOP has prompted authors posting to the Wikileaks.org Web site to claim that the US Army were torturing and violating the human rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. This SOP was also the subject of a lawsuit by international human rights groups and a domestic civil rights organization requesting the release of the document under the US Freedom of Information Act" - Sounds like a complaint about being caught to me.
  • "They currently use a variety of modified free software to build the Web site and route and secure the transmission of data to wikileaks.org" - Free software FTW.
  • "Is it Free Speech or Illegal Speech?"
Now, I suppose its not the biggest story in the world (there must be counterintelligence reports about lots of pretty inane websites) but I do enjoy the culture of fear embued in the report, enough to think "Dudes, its a website - get over it man".

20 Mar 2010

'Drang nach Aussen' (or 'The Passion of the LRTA')

"Just as insidious as Hitler's Drang nach Osten is the modern drift to out-of-town shopping. News that Marks and Spencer, hitherto a High St only shop, is to join with Tesco to build new out-of-town shopping centres rings alarm bells in everyone who has read Jane Jacobs' classic 'The death and life of great American cities'. Moves from Streets to country drive-in sites are the start of a process which can ruin life in cities. The cyclical process is simple. Allegedly up market car users desert the High St shops, eroding their earnings. Some close; others switch down-market to serve the inner city dwellers. Remaining up-market shoppers desert them, removing off-peak patronage from public transport; bus services are cut and, in despair, more turn to the car and shop out-of-town."

from 'Modern Tramway' magazine (the "Official organ of the Light Rail Transit Association"), February 1985.


14 Mar 2010

Praise Be!

Whenever you're down, just think of Thora! She speaks wisdom from beyond the grave, as demonstrated by this fine tome:



She keeps us entertained in March by this lovely haiku:

Yesterday - sunshine
Today - I'm freezing! Quick,
March!
Please make up your mind!

And that's just one snippet from March - there's a whole year to go through. 9th of October serves as a warning from the past:

I wonder if our politicians aren't becoming rather too fond of being seen on television? Its almost as though people nowadays think that you can only do any good if you are 'famous'.

Ah Thora - nail. Head. Hit.

5 Mar 2010

Juggah juggah juggah juggah



An entire hole has been noisily dug out of Sheffield's Students' Union. The noise has been terrible, but reassurances came yesterday that all would now be quiet thanks to (what I presume is a piece of machinery, but could be a villain) called The Nibbler. Nom nom nom.

4 Mar 2010

26 Feb 2010

Sticker

3 fire evacuations today. Three. So a bit of time outside in the rain.

Whilst outside, a sticker on the rear of a vehicle reads "Disable Kid with ATTITUDE". 'That's nice' I thought. On the other side a sticker "Disabled Princess On Board". At first, cringing. Second thought: 'What a strange juxtaposition of words'.

And then finally, I thought of a princess, stripped of her regal powers, thus becoming a Disabled Princess. A Princess stripped of her powers.

"Diana!" After the divorce, no HRH for her.

"Disabled Princess On Board". I bet if she saw that sticker in Paris, she would have thought twice about getting in. Even when pissed.

[Anecdote style courtesy of the Church of England)

Gaddafi

In a way, I'm following on from the post below here, in that one of my news feeds is from the official Libyan news agency. Maybe I have a fetish for being fed ridiculous propaganda, but its enjoyable.

In the recent news story about EU citizens being prevented from obtaining visas for Libya, Libyaonline.com poetically tells the story in a different way with the headline:

Swiss Irrationality Drags EU into Dispute with Friendly Libya

I've always found Libya fun in a 'but you wouldn't wanna live there' kind of way. Gaddafi's eccentric decisions include such things as staying in tents at international conferences, as well as having sexy guards:



One of my favourite episodes is where the Colonel set about designing his own Car of the Future, and the TV news had the most spectacular footage of Emperor's New Clothes syndrome. It reminded me of when Homer Simpson's long lost brother gave him the opportunity to design his dream car:



Gaddafi's 'Libyan Rocket' was apparently designed for safety.



"The invention of the safest car in the world is proof that the Libyan revolution is built on the happiness of man."

15 Feb 2010

Broadminded, Benevolence and All-embracing Love

North Korea's official website is a place I would visit often if I was searching for inspiration for a sci-fi bad guy. Here's a snippet from the news page:

"Chairman Kim Jong Il of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a broadminded statesman.

His politics mirrors his broadmindedness as it is. He administers the benevolent politics and all-embracing politics which make no discrimination among all members of society, irrespective of their origin, past career, political view and religious belief.

His politics rallied the popular masses from all walks of life including workers, peasants and intellectuals, into a socio-political force. Such wonderful reality as the single-minded unity of the whole society in the DPRK is wholly attributable to his all-embracing politics[...]

Kim Jong Il is, indeed, a broadminded statesman that moves all people. It is not fortuitous that many people around the world say the land of Korea is too small for his great personality."


Even better is if you follow the link to the gift shop (other stalinist gift shops are available) where you can purchase a range of North Korean merch (note the products listed in order, somewhat unsubtly as 'Propaganda 1, propaganda 2 etc). One of my favourites is the golf shirt:

With the description that can only be described as 'aspirational':

"Tee off in casual style. Our golf-style, collared t-shirt is a comfortable, lightweight way to play 18-holes and beat the heat. Features, stylish wood-tone buttons, yet it feels like wearing your favorite t-shirt. Dress it up or down. Throw a blazer over later for country club mingling. Great for layering."

SOLD.


13 Feb 2010

A 2 Z

I've been listening to songs of mine recently in A to Z order of tracks, and its a great way of re-discovering songs that you think are ace. Obviously, no one else will, but here's some of my re-discoveries:

NoMeansNo - Humans:



'Humans' has everything - 4/4 punkrock verse, ridiculous bouncy chorus about monkeys, guitar solo, bass solo - the works. Excellent.

Bigwig - Moosh:



They're the most outrageously overused 4 chords in history but they work effectively in an against-the-jocks american high school way that for some reason, lots of us in the UK somehow relate to, despite our upbringings bearing no resemblance to this. Hollywood has a lot to answer for.

Osker - Disconnect, Disconnect



Osker were a band who didn't last long, but for some reason left some kind of impact on me, with Idle Will Kill competing for a position of one of my all time favourite albums. They were apparently known for insulting their audience, and also never had a full time drummer. Unfortunately, subsequent projects by those involved never lived up to Osker's greatness.

There would be more, but I'm only up to M...

7 Feb 2010

Stuffed Toys of Yore

As my folks are selling their house, it looks like my room is the one that is being touted as the potential 'kids' room'. Consequently, on the bed lay two stuffed toys. When I commented on this, my mother explained that the big cushion and toys were place strategically to cover some mould growing on the wallpaper in the corner.

This stuffed animal is called 'Flush' and belonged to me. I hadn't actually given it a name for a while, but then one day, my Dad referred to it as a 'plush toy' and my limited speech capability pronounced it as 'Flush'. At the time, both me and my brother found toilets hilarious, and the name stuck.




I don't know whether this bear had a name (it wasn't mine) but is included here purely because of its creepy stare and emaciated torso.