Category Archives: media

don’t let the EU censor your internet: stop ACTA

ACTA infographic

You might have heard that SOPA got stopped (for now) in the USA, a bill to censor the internet and limit online freedom for everyone. An even worse deal is going down on our EU-side of the globe unfortunately, where ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) has already been signed, but not yet approved (luckily).

ACTA – a global treaty – could allow corporations to censor the Internet. Negotiated in secret by a small number of rich countries and corporate powers, it would set up a shadowy new anti-counterfeiting body to allow private interests to police everything that we do online and impose massive penalties — even prison sentences — against people they say have harmed their business.
avaaz.org

So it’s about time to do something about this before this bill gets voted in the EU Parliament and gets adopted globally.
First you can start by reading about ACTA, find out what’s wrong with it, sign the petition and act against it.

For those in the US, you can go sign the White House petition. Do it, because this deal is worse than SOPA, as it spans beyond the internet and deals even with regulations on medication and food.

The oppressively strict regulations could mean people everywhere are punished for simple acts such as sharing a newspaper article or uploading a video of a party where copyrighted music is played. Sold as a trade agreement to protect copyrights, ACTA could also ban lifesaving generic drugs and threaten local farmers’ access to the seeds they need. And, amazingly, t he ACTA committee will have carte blanche to change its own rules and sanctions with no democratic scrutiny.
avaaz.org

Spread the word, sign the petition, just do something so this is stopped just like SOPA was.

Afterwards, you can get back to your memes and lolcats. :)

 

your smartphone as a remote music controller

Where's the remote Snickers?!

So you’re using your PC and the geekyist free media player around to pump your beats into the living room while you’re sitting in your cough reading your Twitter feed on your Android phone. Then this totally awesome tune gets streamed and you just want to turn up the volume a notch or two. Damn it! That means you’ll have to get out of that comfy seat of yours and walk a few metres through your living room and physically turn a knob (or press the keys to activate a hot-key to turn down the volume as you can easily do that with Foobar). Walk!? A few metres!? This is 2011 AD FFS! We have wireless networks and all sorts of marvellous technology invented to avoid having to physically move about and do stuff.

Thank the Cyber Gods there’s a Foobar plugin to fix just that! With this swell plugin called “HTTP Control” you can access your running Foobar2000 instance by surfing to it from your smartphone or fancy iPad. All you need is a link to you dedicated media-playing PC’s IP address and the assigned port in the plugin’s settings. Don’t forget to give that PC a fixed IP so the link stays the same. Otherwise you’ll end up having to get out of your couch anyway to figure out what  bleedin’ IP your box got through DHCP after all.

If you’d rather go native with an Android app because that web thing takes too much effort to set up, you can with this Foobar2000 controller app. I’ve used it for a while now and it’s mighty dandy!

Photo by threefatcats, cc-licensed.

your website sucks in so many ways

Well, maybe not yours, but if it qualifies for the following rules, it does. So check em out.

  1. You can’t store my name. My name contains something called an umlaut which is used in Germanic languages like German (duh) and Dutch for instance. My name either turns up with a missing letter, or I get a funky character instead. It sucks. It means you can’t handle unicode or encoding properly. It sucks.
  2. You send me my password in plain text email right after I register. Well, ok, the email used HTML encoding, but that doesn’t make it any better. Email is not safe. Really, it isn’t, so I’m glad I didn’t use a password that looked anything like a password I use anywhere else. This makes me think your coders don’t know what they are doing.
  3. You chopped off my password after n characters and didn’t even warn me about it. Yep. As soon as I’m done registering I get this error message that my password is wrong. I just gave it to you silly twat, and it’s still in my copy buffer dammit, so it can’t be wrong!? Guess what happens when I do that password recovery thing by the way. Oh yeah. I get my password in plain text again, in my mailbox.
  4. I find out there are some privacy settings in my account settings which where not presented to me when I created my account. How odd? Not really. Apparently I automatically opted-in on a bunch of possibilities to commercially exploit my info. Nice… not. I hate spam. It sucks.

Most of these are so easy to come by that it’s sad to see these practices still in use. Try any good web 2.0 service and you’ll see how to avoid these pitfalls, and learn about encoding dammit. Also if you’re registered to the Belgian newspaper site of Het Nieuwsblad, make sure you check your privacy settings, and skip on some of the spam-features they have. They suck.

Photo by Sinsong, cc-licensed

why youtube rocks… well, sort of

Have you noticed that every music video seems to be on Youtube these days? Now Youtube isn’t the most kick ass, neat looking and coolest video service out there, (that’s Vimeo)  but when it comes down to content, they seem to have it all

No matter what video clip you’re looking for, it’s probably there. Like this silly video they played on a local music station lately. It was a top 10 of the worst haircuts from the 80’s. Well, that makes sense doesn’t it. What the hell where those barbers thinking back then anyway? At the top position there was this song which I had heard before long ago (in the 80s probably). It had this guy that looked like he was related to the lead singer of that watered down rock band Tokyo Hotel. Yeah. Lots and lots of hair is what I’m talking about.

I didn’t catch the groups name, but I searched a lyrics phrase on Youtube and guess what? Of course it was on there. Shared it with my pals of course, and we laughed our ass off. Turns out there’s even a Manson cover of it. Funny.

I don’t get how they can host so many music video’s without getting RIAA on their asses though. I mean, seriously. Check out the amount of Metallica vids on there.

all you can eat twitter stats

Caps-Lock is FULL OF AWESOME!!1!
Pic by CatCubed, cc-licensed

Twitter. It’s kinda fun. It’s also fun to see how much apps are popping up all over the place doing something with the public data from the twitter feeds.

Stuff like Twitterholic for instance, which gives you an overview of which twits have the most followers. Barack Obama is clearly at the lead there. Unless you’re fanatically being followed as well (you need over 2.559 followers at this very moment), you’re probably not in the list. You can hack the URL though by adding your own twitter name at the end like this http://www.twitterholic.com/twitter/n3wjack and see your own stats. Sweet!

More stats? Well okay, how about Tweetstats. Yet Another Twitter Stats tool, but it puts it all into a nice colorful bar charts, and bar charts rock. It seems to be rather popular since it’s queueing people to render their stats at the moment. Heh.

How about the really useful stuff? Hey, this is Twitter remember, don’t get your hopes up too much. Twittertale gives you all the pottymouths out there for instance. Always interesting to know which rude words are popular these days, so check em out.

Can’t get enough? No problem, there’s plenty more where that came from.

twitter madness


Photo by Dr Gonzo Photography
cc-licensed

Twitter is one of those things you don’t really see the point of until you join is it. In fact I did join it a while ago, and I’m still not seeing the point really. I’ve thought about quitting, but then I went ahead and didn’t. It’s weird so far.

It’s like this public web based IRC network. I already use IRC so why do I bother with this one? I’m not sure, but I think being a geek has something to do with it. If not everything.

The cool thing about Twitter is that even though it’s the simplest of social networks out there, it gives you a tons of way to connect to it. They’ve opened up their API’s (geeks love it when a girl, euhm, service does that) and it shows by the amount of web sites and client applications that have risen that do something with that data. Try the hypnotising Twittervision. Awesome. Besides that you can tweet using text messages from your cell phone. For cheaps! And GTalk keyword tracking is the bomb if you want to keep track of Lindsay Lohan’s nip-slips, iPhone hacks or whatever triggers your fancy.

Recently I came across something called tweetchannels, which are basically a way to build IRC-like channels using Twitter, and #hashtags, which is actually a more flexible (and better IMO) way of tagging your tweets, and thus also a way to create a topical twitter feed.

Because of the open API people are building stuff that is adding value to the network, without the Twitter lads having to move a muscle. How sweet is that? I’m curious to what kind of stuff they’ll come up with in the future. Right now there’s this whole color wars thing going down, with games and teams and pink pussy madness.

Going WTF? Well, just jump in and see how it goes. Follow me while you’re at it, and don’t forget to say hi.

why can't all tech movies be like "into the blue"

Jessica Alba in Into the BlueThink about it. Jessica Alba showing of those perfect curves while typing away on her laptop. It would probably be an iBook, or a Sony Vaio, the only laptops that have a design sweet enough to be seen around a gal like Jessica.

But that’s not really what I want in a tech movie no, although I wouldn’t mind. I’m talking Jessica Alba swimming around, scuba diving like she knowns what she is doing. Scuba diving training they have had for that one, and it shows. Into The Blue is either written by guys that know how to dive, or assisted by diving instructors. There are a bunch of scenes in the movie that show that. The one where the tank is used as a weapon for one, there’s a buddy breathing scene, or simply using the correct diving signs. There are some mistakes in there as well of course, but the movie wouldn’t be very exciting if they wouldn’t screw up now and then right. Checking your air supply is something they didn’t do a lot I noticed. But then again, you manometer might be the last thing you’d check if you have Ms. Alba swimming in front of you. In a bikini! Look at that butt go!

Anyway, what does this have to do with technology movies? Those mostly suck, that’s what. I’m a scuba diver, and I can enjoy watching Into the Blue for it’s correctness. I can actually believe what I see happening on screen, and that’s what you want from a movie right? You want to see something great, but still have the feeling it could really be happening. For realistic movies of course. Horror or fantasy movies create their own world, and then still.

Movies where technology plays a central part make me feel like I’m sitting on an ant hill. They jump from one mistake into the other making the whole movie loose it’s credibility because it turns out being based on unexisting and impossible technological tricks with laptops, cellphones and unexisting operating systems that you can hack in a second or two. I saw a trailer of this new tech movie called Untraceable for instance, and I so do not want to see that one. Check the trailer, and you’ll know what I mean. The whole idea of an untraceable website with streaming video of a murder alone is so technologically wrong it screws up the whole movie even before I’ve seen it. I bet the rest of the movie is filled with more of that inexplicable techno mumbo jumbo as well.

If a website is untraceable, how the hell are simple internet users supposed to find it? So dear Hollywood script writers, consult your IT specialists in the future before you start writing those ridiculous IT-fantasies of yours down into a so-called script. Us geeks will appreciate it, and there’s more of us than you might figure. If you realise that the most realistic hacking scene ever to show in a movie was featured in the Matrix as Trinity exploited an SSH server using nmap, there still is a long way to go.

(Photo © Sony. All Rights Reserved)