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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Democracy works.

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Here’s the bit where I get all worked up about democracy because Sarah Brown replied to a tweeted suggestion that she not use the acronym WoW to describe the Wellbeing of Women charity. She’d already had the piss taken out of her by a Daily Mail journalist idiot who didn’t understand Twitter so ambiguous tweets which may or may not be referring to World of Warcraft should be dealt with carefully so as not to catch the attention of dim-witted journalists desk zombies.

This use of Twitter to facilitate dialogue between people in power and citizens is encouraging, and it gives me a big ego boost to get recognised by Mrs. Brown. This experience doesn’t however change my views on Twittter not having any true purpose.


Written by Pierre

September 14, 2009 at 13:35

Posted in politick, technology

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Twitter marketing

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Here’s another Twitter-bashing post which coincides with my using Twitter a lot more than I did before. Of course I’m not using it as a micro-blogging service like what it’s meant for but that’s a story for another time.

My new reason to dislike Twitter is the rise of annoying Spam. Yesterday when complaining that the Xbox was broken I wrote the message “Xbox broken again”.
Because my Twitter posts are redirected to Facebook I got some questioning and sympathetic comments from Andriy and Nate. And then at 3:11 this morning it was announced that James Muddyman was following me. Out of interest I went over to see who he was, he had done an @reply to me with the message “xbox on the fritz? http://www.electronicwarran… can help you out.”

Again out of interest I followed his link, it took me to a commercial website which sold warranties for electronic goods. Then I noticed that his tweet had come from TwitterHawk, my interest has been severely piqued by this point and I take a gander around to see what it’s all about. On the press page I find 3 articles debating whether this site generates Spam or not.

What TwitterHawk does is search for keywords and generate @replies based on those keywords. I assume it found the words Xbox and Broken so it automatically posted a reply with a link to that website which sells warranties. So to boil it down even further: it sends unsolicited messages which mean to sell products targeted at you. Wikipedia defines spam as:
“The abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.”

Some users in the past have set up an account with one tweet containing a link and set about following as many people as they can. Oh some media executive prick can sit in his office smiling confidently about how he’s bringing marketing to Web 2.0; in reality he’s alienating his audience with invasive slimy disguised marketing which will ultimately drive people away from his products or even Twitter itself.

Following this advice, I’m going to post a tweet full of kewords and see how many automated @replies I attract. Wish me luck!

Written by Pierre

September 6, 2009 at 10:10

Posted in technology

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Twitter is not a social network

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I want to make this clear because Twitter gets a lot of hype in the media. All this hype means it has grown in popularity at an extraordinary rate. Even the grand emperor and Oxford City Council have Twitter accounts so we’re not to scoff.

Twitter claims to be a micro-blogging service. However, the unnecessary 140 character limit sometimes reduces it to a link farm, not only that but said links must be shortened to fit under the limit. Alternatively people tweet with text-speak, or they use it as an instant-messaging service. There are a few dedicated twitter users who will use twitter as a micro-blogging service, for example the Documentally man, I fail to understand how he can make a real point about politics/current affairs in under 140 characters… Oh right! That’s why he has a real blog, you know, for actually writing stuff that people want to read.

If we look into further depth about these aformentioned loyal twitter users, we find that they too contravene the defenition of a social network: A survey made last month suggested that the top 10% of Twitter users created 90% of tweets. The presented system of mass conversation between total strangers is a lie. It is not a ‘social network’ it is incredibly anti-social as twitter users harvest followers who they don’t know and propogate a one-way flow of information which was the reason twitter came into being in the first place. Granted twitter is a little more democratic than say newspapers or television, but compared to the rest of the internet it has some catching up to do.

Twitter cannot be a proper blogging site for the omission of a calendar with archives, the ability to comment on a specific item and the low character limit.
It cannot be a social network for the inability to follow conversations, the one-way flow of information and the harvesting of followers which leads to the drowning out of your message.

The only time Twitter really shone doing what it should was during the Iranian crisis when the activists and citizen journalists took Twitter as the vessel for thir message. They chose wisely, but why did they chose it? For a start they wanted a system with short load times due to the bandwidth restrictions of the islamic government (the percieved short load times are actually false… but that’s for another time). Secondly they wanted to be heard, so they organised themselves with a hash tag which could be applied to the masses that were attempting to get the word out. And thirdly, Twitter is accessible by SMS message, which makes it ideal for tweeting ‘in the wild’ so to speak.

You might be able to tell that I didn’t plan this article before writing it, it’s nearly over and I’m even sounding a bit like the Daily Mail, to prove that I’m not totally ignorant about Twitter: here’s my Twitter account.

Written by Pierre

July 22, 2009 at 13:37

Posted in technology

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Xbox 360 video capture

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Being back from Germany, I wrote a very (as about 20 lines long) short Halo Machinima idea entitled ‘How to be a Halofag’ while I was sitting at the back of the class in a German school. Once here I began putting it to action with the video capture dongle which arrived some time last week. In the mistaken perception that I needed another cable I went to Curry’s and bought one. Once I got home I realized that the right cable was there all along and that the one I had just bought was the wrong one anyway. Despite still having the receipt and original packaging Curry’s refused to exchange it for store credit or anything. Bastards.
Having tested the video capture dongle I can confirm that it’s most probably the best hardware for capturing games in general on the Xbox 360.
My only complaints are that the resolution is pretty low PAL 720 x 576 (and those are scan lines, not pixels) but there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about that as it’s the maximum resolution that composite video output will allow. This can be easily remedied by changing the [digital] pixel aspect ratio to make it appear widescreen and blowing up the image to fit it to a High Definition standard. This however is cheating and simply results in a big and low resolution image.
My second complaint is that there is sometimes very minor image distortion. I’m not totally sure why this occurs because different distortions occur in different programs:


And there’s some image lag in the preview which is mostly down to the processor maxing out. The lag doesn’t come out in the final render. It’s not a fault of the hardware so it’s not really a complaint.

After doing that at an estimated cost of 20 pounds, I went and upgraded my Bungie account to a Bungie Pro account which lets me render Halo 3 footage at 720×1280 High Defenition and then host it on Bungie’s servers for as long as I’m still a Bungie Pro member. One year of the Pro membership cost 6-ish pounds. One slight problem is the fact that each clip takes up one file and Bungie only hosts up to 24 files at any one time: I’ll have to keep the file rotation under 24 files before editing, which shouldn’t be too difficult.
Each method has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but I now have both so it doesn’t really matter.

But before I go, here’s a screenshot on Valhalla (formerly known as Coagulation or Blood Gulch) at full 1920×1080 resolution, curse the Maker to think that I seem to becoming addicted to pixel counts:


Written by Pierre

July 13, 2009 at 14:43

Posted in gaming, technology

Tagged with ,

fisherman collage

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I stayed up last night and some of this morning reading this and I’m a bit tired. In theory I’m free to do what I please as these are the holidays but in practice I’m pretty much bound to waking up at 7:00 every morning, eating breakfast with everyone else and waiting until they leave to do something useful (like this). I’m constantly reminded that my time is not my own when Christine does things like arranging work for me without my consent. They are incapable of leaving me alone.

In the meantime I made another ‘digital collage’ working on the techniques I learnt in my last photo dump:


That image was pulled together from various things I found on Google Images and I consider it fair use as it’s a remix. In the interest of fair use and copyright blah blah blah, this image is available for remixing by anyone else who wants it. If you give your email in the comments I can send you the Paint.NET file or a Photoshop file. All the images on there are separate layers so you can add stuff and move stuff around as you see fit.
I regularly carry out mass deletions on my hard drive to purge it of any crap I may have accumulated. The source file of this image might be gone in a few weeks so any requests ASAP.

I discovered some hardware which allows me to capture the analogue video output from the Xbox on my laptop in digital format. Specifically devices which convert the analogue video cables to USB. I found two:

Pinnacle Video Transfer – £84

EasyCAP Audio& Video Capture Adapter – £12

The ridiculously expensive Pinnacle hardware might be a ripoff but I’m guaranteed it’ll work. The cheap dongle might not work as well or not work at all.
If I do get anything like this I’ll try posting up more of my game footage, it’s something I’ve been longing to do for a while.

Written by Pierre

June 28, 2009 at 09:13

Posted in technology, Uncategorized

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According to recent research American teenagers sent and received an average of  2,272 text messages per month.
Keep in  mind that those are texts sent-and-received so half that number is approximately the number of texts sent.
Why is this relevant?

  1. Last night I stayed up until 10:51 in a conversation call on Skype with a quick glance estimate of over 600 messages sent/recieved. If I did that a bit more often, I’d easily rack up 2,272 messages in a month.
  2. I sent 2 text messages on my phone last month, they were both asking Nick where he was in Summertown.

Written by Pierre

May 26, 2009 at 06:27

Posted in life, technology

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piracy is not stealing

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I’ve finished watching ‘Steal this Film II’. I watched Steal this Film I on a streaming site a while back because I couldn’t find a link to it’s torrent (internet laziness dictates that if you can’t find something on Google/the Pirate Bay in under 5 seconds you shouldn’t bother looking). The corporate entertainment lobbyists don’t really do much to help the anti-piracy situation. From my standpoint they identify themselves quite distinctly as the bad guys. They force anti-piracy propaganda in front of us every time a film is shown. I came across the fact that using the open-source videoLAN player the unskipable copyright notices are not enforced and I can just speed straight through them. Yet when software like Cyberlink PowerDVD plays the same film, the copyright notice (and sometimes the ‘Piracy is Stealing’ short) comes up and all the skipping controls are disabled. What this means is that there’s code somewhere on the DVD which tells the player to disable skipping and fast-forwarding while the copyright notice is playing.

To some extent this constant barrage of propaganda has actually worked. For the most part public opinion on piracy lines up nicely with the view advocated by the big companies: people who pirate movies are probably evil bastards who eat kittens for breakfast. Mainstream newspapers shriek with indignation from their moral high ground whenever a pirate is sued or taken to court. They do everything they can to keep control. The reality is that they’ve already lost control.

Peer-to-peer is a distribution network. The best distribution network – if you create a piece of media and you need an audience, the film executives and regulators pose a challenge. They bar your way like Cerebrus before the gates of Hades, they insist on changes, they make cuts, they show adverts half-way through and they can do pretty much whatever they want. That’s the way traditional media is distributed. It’s not the best way but it’s the way that makes the most money for big companies.

On the other hand, fighting their ground are a new echelon of creators. These are the people who, like me, post to blogs, create podcasts, direct viral internet shorts, design little enterteining flash games and animations. They are the people directly stealing sales from the big companies by challenging them on a new turf: the internet. Nobody quite knows how they’ll make any money, some seek advertising as the answer but the truth is that advertising is an empty dead-end. People are very good at ignoring adverts. The slow death of traditional distribution networks is not restricted to films; music has been forced to adapt with Mp3 players, radio is now only the preserve of people in cars stuck in traffic jams, journalists are publicly upstaged by bloggers, Marvel has a webcomic service, E-Books are undermining the whole book publishing industry.

I enjoy the freedom of being able to download almost any film for free, but I would pay for it if someone provided a system of the same quality at a reasonable price. There are legal internet-based distribution systems but they’re not good enough to substitute them for downloading a full High-Defenition movie ripped from some stranger’s Blu-Ray disk. And here’s why. Did you read that? Good. Now you’ll realise that the traditional systems of distribution have had ~10 years since the internet became really popular to adapt.

But they ignored the internet and didn’t adapt so it’s only reasonable that they be replaced by something better.

UPDATE: Peter came back from Belfast with a book called The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Hackers, Punk Capitalists, Graffiti Millionaires and Other Youth Movement are Remixing Our Culture and Changing Our World.
Peter hasn’t finished reading it and is guarding it eagerly.

Written by Pierre

May 17, 2009 at 09:06

Posted in technology

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