Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sung to the tune of "These are a Few of My Favorite Things..."

Loved the alt-text in today's xkcd:

Telescopes and bathyscapes and sonar probes of Scottish lakes,
Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse explained with abstract phase-space maps,
Some x-ray slides, a music score, Minard's Napoleonic war:
The most exciting new frontier is charting what's already here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

(Dr) Who ya gunna vote for?

Gacked from Adina
Featuring Sean Pertwee ( Jon Pertwee's son) talking about what his father use to say and David Tennant doing the voice over at the end.
How many Dr who in jokes can you jam into one election ad? *boggle*

Monday, April 12, 2010

The new Bros, or "Where's the angst?"

They are teenagers, so by definition they should be full of angst. They are singing a song about a man cracking up under pressure. So why do I feel like this is being sung by people with big happy smiles on their faces, waving their arms in the air?

Here is how I think it should be done. Oh, and get those kids off my lawn!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Great Australian Firewall Bypass for Dummies

Those of you unfortunate enough to be within frothing spittle range when I get started on the topic will know that I have somewhat conflicted - not to deny contradictory - feelings about electronic piracy. On the one hand, I think stealing things from the creative people who make things I like is counter-productive. But I don't exactly get to take the high moral ground, because I'll happily illegally download tv shows which have been publicly aired but which the arse-hats can't be bothered to allow me to watch when and where I want. And I've been known to pirate computer games which contain DRM nonsense that I know will fuck up my computer, or stop me from installing it on multiple machines or whatever. I could trot out a glib little self-serving justification for this, but the truth is that I'm lazy: I'll do the right thing as long as they make it easy enough for me, but if they won't then my moral stand goes to shite.

But at least I'm not kidding myself about it. Which is why I generally consider the Pirate Party movement to be full of tools, despite the cool name. Its one thing to nick a few things because you're lazy, and another altogether to try to claim that stealing stuff is some kind of unalienable basic human right. All of which background is just to say that I am not a Pirate Party fanboy by any stretch of the imagination... but when they get off the issue of actual piracy, there are some folks there who have some useful things to say about freedom of information, and I want to give them some credit for that.

Australia, I love you like the born-again convert that I am, but our government's views on censorship are fucked. If someone wants to make information which they have created freely available on the internet, and I want to view it, then the only pirates involved in the transaction are anyone who tries to hijack that information twixt the cup and the lip. The fact that said pirates are doing so out of some supposedly high-minded attempt to protect me from myself doesn't make it ok, it makes it insulting in addition to a grievous imposition on my right to communicate with others. The fact that the people doing it are elected officials who claim to be representing me would be laughable if it wasn't so sad. The fact that they are spending millions of dollars of _my_ money to do this to me heaps ironic salt by the barrow-load into the papercuts of annoyance. And while it could be considered some consolation that they are doing it with such thorough and comprehensive incompetence that its more a matchstick across my path than a firewall, I find that doesn't make me feel any better about the Australian government's rush to emulate the Chinese model of freedom of information. So I was mightily pleased to see this guide to bypassing the Great Australian Firewall written in simple language for the non-technically-inclined, put out by the Pirate Party. Good onya guys; way to find an issue that actually has a moral leg to stand on, and do something concrete about it.

See? Even the tools can do something good once in awhile...