Archive for February, 2007

Shooting off

27 February 2007

Only in Britain, and only in the Daily Telegraph, would we get an apology for insinuating someone went hunting out of season, especially with the sly dig at the end as well:

APOLOGY: In Friday’s article on Liz Hurley’s wedding it was wrongly stated that the actress is holding a pheasant shoot on the Sunday after the ceremony. Game shooting is of course illegal on Sundays and the pheasant season ended on Feb 1. We apologise for the error and accept that if any shooting is to be done it will be by the paparazzi, who have no season and do not observe the Sabbath.


You are not a pirate

27 February 2007

Via Boing Boing comes this piece by Eric Flint on DRM.

In the real world, criminals do not do everything in a criminal manner. Whatever you or I think of their morals, they are just as capable as anyone else of gauging an enterprise from the standpoint of its cost-effectiveness.

Fair enough. But what’s one example of this criminal enterprising mentality?

Pirates rob bullion ships, they don’t rob grain ships.

Don’t they? Oh yes they do.

Pirates Hijack Aid Ship Off Somali Coast

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Pirates hijacked a cargo ship delivering U.N. food aid to northeastern Somalia on Sunday – at least the second time in recent years that a vessel contracted to the United Nations has been hijacked off the country’s dangerous coast.

And they do it for economic reasons, just like those that Flint lays out – in a warzone such as Somalia where food supplies are limited, those controlling the food supply lines will be the ones with the most economic leverage. Grain becomes as attractive as gold.

It’s a pity. Flint’s central point is correct – that an expensive product of limited quality and usability, i.e. DRM, will mean people will inevitably be driven to find better quality and cheaper (to the point of being free) alternatives, and so DRM becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, crippling the product more and more with restrictions. But his message is let down by an insistence on a crappy real-world pirate analogy; rather than bandy about terrible metaphors (which is what the pro-DRM lobby are very fond of doing) he should just let the arguments sing for themselves.


Upgrade time

23 February 2007

Finally taken the plunge and upgraded to WordPress 2.1. And while I’m at it I’ve ditched the old theme and started with a blank canvas. A new design will gradually fall into place, bit-by-bit, wiki-style, over the coming weeks.


Surgical CounterStrike

22 February 2007

From today’s Graun… Surgical success linked to skill at video games:

A study has found a direct link between skill at video gaming and skill at keyhole, or laparoscopic, surgery. Young surgeons who spent at least three hours a week playing video games in the past made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster, and scored 42% better overall than surgeons who had never played a video game at all.

Note: Not a authoritatively formal-looking study, and a small sample size, so it may feel the wrath of Ben Goldacre-types. Still, it’s a lovely case of life following art, as this cartoon appeared in last week’s xkcd:

Nintendo surgeon


Caught by the Fuzz

22 February 2007

Finally got off my arse to go see Hot Fuzz last night, and I can confirm it’s good. Really good.

Minor spoilerage follows…

Good that is, for the kind of geek who likes their films chock-full of references and homages, subtle hints and details, and totally out-of-place dialogue. Of course if you’re not the kind of person who likes the person in the cinema next to you going “Have you figured out why he’s holding that pot plant?”, “Did you spot how all the characters’ last names are named for professions?” or thinks its hilarious when mid-gun battle Angel and Butterman break off to discuss what suitable pithy payoff line to utter when dispatching the next bad guy, then you might not like it. Also, the first half of the film is admittedly quite slow but it picks up in the second half, and is well worth the payoff.

End of spoilerage

Also a big shout out to the superb Timothy Dalton, who steals the show as the oily supermarket owner Simon Skinner, and hopefully on the strength of that performance makes a decent comeback as a comic actor, because he really deserves it. Jim Broadbent is as reliable and enjoyable as ever, and some of the more minor actors such as David Threlfall and Adam Buxton also do well. And the many cameos (Bill Nighy, Steve Coogan, Bill Bailey, etc. etc.) mean Britcom buffs can squeal silly. There’s even an (alleged) very brief cameo for a (disguised) Peter Jackson, according to the internet rumours. So go see it.


Hacked

19 February 2007

My provider, 34sp.com had some of their servers hacked today. Though the site’s now been restored back to its normal running, if anyone noticed anything strange here earlier today, that was the reason why.


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