Nov 302005
 

Bill Thompson at the good old Beeb brings up a good point about the viability of the record companies new tactics:

If they cannot come up with a business model which allows them to make profits without criminalising their customers, trampling over our civil liberties or installing malware on our computers then they do not deserve to stay in business, and new ways for artists to reach the public will have to emerge.

Hear hear. If anything, the record companies (as well as their lobbying groups and allies) have shown their arrogance many times over during 2005. A lot has been said about Sony’s rootkit fiasco and the finnish travesty of a copyright law. But unless both are struck down hard, they will emerge again, stronger and better camouflaged.

While the former seems to have been now neutralized, it’s just a matter of time before another company allows its greed and blatant lack of clue to overwhelm the duty to its customers. But the public has now been warned, and the response can be expected even harsher the next time someone tampers with music.

The latter is a more problematic case. Yes, we now have a stringent copyright law. A law whose content needs so many interpretations, that no-one can adequately explain what actually is and what isn’t legal, anymore. Hence the regular Q&A’s in recent magazines, editorials that are not completely aligned with each other.

And nope. It’s not about being able to download zero-day movies from the net. Neither about amassing vast quantities of MP3′s that are never listened to. No. It’s about being able to use appropriate devices to replay the content of legally purchased media products.

[ via Butt Ugly. ]

Nov 282005
 

The Shield is back.

Season four debuted on Canal+ tonight. And the show hasn’t diluted itself during the years, offering still plenty of conflict and anguish. The strike team’s dissolved in the aftermath of the previous season, Aceveda is moving up the ladder, and a new captain is moving in. So, there’s plenty to build stories from.

The first episode wasn’t exactly a five-star classic, but a very functional reintroduction of the worst precinct in L.A. Glenn Close is icily effective as the new captain, which bodes well for the rest of the season. The episode runs a bit too long in a gang rally thrown by an ex-banger, who seems to be a shoo-in for the big bad of the season. Though that’s hard to guess with any precision, especially considering the sudden appearance of mr. Vendrell at the end. Could someone be outplaying Mackey in his own game…

Nov 282005
 

So, as dug up by the folks at digitoday.fi, Rosa Meriläinen was not kidding when extolling the virtues of the copyright fiasco. Thanks to Seppo for the pointer.

Am not going to translate the response, but it’s bad all right. An intelligent-seeming member of the parliament thoroughly subverted by the local equivalent of the RIAA. Not good.

Time to join the ranks of masinointi.org.

And for true lack of respect, you cannot really overdo the famousest Kazakh report, Borat Sagdiyev, who officially disclaims himself from his claimed alter ego, following a dispute with his fatherland.

EDIT 25.8.2008: Borat’s page has expired.

Nov 272005
 

Spot the bands
Virgin has put forth a challenge to list the bands shown in this image. A couple of low-hanging fruit for easy pickings, but certainly some that most viewers aren’t even aware of.

(And I’d say that it’s Alice in Chains and Blur in the right hand side in the attached slice of the full image. And the guy to the left of the cart is indeed Smashing some Pumpkins).

Virgin’s site is quite convoluted, and the game itself is done in some way that greatly troubles firefox and does not allow for “just checking” of answers (and has no back button in the response window). Yeah, it is for americans only – but it’d be easier to waste time on this if the infrastructure supported it better…

EDIT 25.8.2008: The game is long gone, and so is the image.

Nov 272005
 

Had an enjoyable evening with electronic entertainment apparatus and friends at Pekka’s place (his blog gone the way of the dodo, it appears).

First up was the latest incarnation of the best football franchise: Pro Evolution Soccer 5. The game had not changed much, but enough to prove that scoring goals is hard. A grand total of three in four games shows that there are indeed some new tricks that have to be learned.

Star Wars Battlefront II was a brand new arrival for all but the host, and as such the games cannot really be regarded as anything but beginners fumblings. Especially when the manual proved to be on very much the nothing but the obvious-side. But good fun was had, and the game’s scope obviously allows for vastly larger battles than the six-some we had.

Continued sucking in Ghost Recon 2.

The third game in the TimeSplitters series proved that simple frantic violence sometimes is therapeutic. Apart from a couple of randomly selected levels where the default weaponry was inequal, this turned out to be the sleeper hit of the evening. Good clean fun, and dimly recalled some levels from the previous part played some good two+ years ago.

Pinball was uneven. Had two decent scores in Twilight Zone, but got utterly outplayed by the newest arrival in the stable.

Ate far too many smoked almonds. No-one had yet seen the Cappuccino-variant of Pepsi Max, which sounds like a scary combination that allows use of some taste essences that are banned in civilized countries. But judgment will be reserved until the first actual sip.

Nov 272005
 

Notes on week 47.

Positive:

  • It finally snowed properly.
  • Got the new System of a Down album (and will review it properly, given a few more spins).
  • Sometimes you cannot but admire the quick wit and scathing tongue of some people.

Double-plus ungood:

  • Amount of context switches needed daily.
  • Late discovery of Dropkick Murphys.
  • The pain one is subjected to when buying non-trivial clothes. Been buying the exact same spec jeans for the last 6+ years, that approach doesn’t really work with anything fancier.
Nov 262005
 

Another hard day’s night put back without major damage.

Company christmas party: a quasi-Cuban affair organized for 1000+ folks somewhere in Hernesaari.

Managed the Cuban bit with music and food (at least the shripms were spicy), but the liquids-department was left wanting (no mojitos in a caribbean affair – I’d like to register an official complaint). No freebie cigars were given out either. Which was probably a good thing. Smoking one (let alone more) does not improve the smoker’s disposition towards the world, come next morning.

Went the distance, and left at last call. Considering the DJ’s preoccupation with bad latino music, this was quite an achievement. Fortunately she’d forgotten about Ricky Martin completely, or I took a perfectly timed pitstop.

Getting a cab after the well-distributed nachspiel turned out to be an adventure as of itself. With Helsinki blanketed by the first proper snow on one of the busiest christmas party nights was not conducive to short lines. Walked homeards about half an hour before one allowed itself to be hailed.

Nov 222005
 
#include  
  • The finnish chapter of Amnesty International has neatoid new t-shirt for sale. Not cheap at 41 euros, but the design’s brilliant (a censored take on the UN declaration of human rights), and hey – it’s definitely for an excellent cause.
  • Some people, the holiday season and darkness just do not get along well. And I though the brits were a conservative and restrained bunch. The american equivalent probably is several magnitudes worse…
  • Ooooh! The vi-tarsier etched on a the lid of a powerbook.
  • diggdot.us combines the linking might of several popular sites. 50 million flies can be wrong, but usually the presence of several hundred geeks is enough to warrant a look inside.
  • David Brin hasn’t published anything in a long while (and even that was an expensive and rather limited-print book), but he’s got an interesting (albeit long-winded) blog.
Nov 222005
 

Comes a moment of such unsurpassed idiocy, that can scar unsuspecting people for life.

And for those lazy enough not to click the link above, here’s Rosa Meriläinen’s post from her blog. Stolen shamelessly from Janne’s blog (translation his – read the comments as well for further insight).

[...] During the question hour, I tried to get a turn three times, but I failed. I didn’t feel too sorry about it, because we left with Irina [Krohn, I would presume; a fellow MP] to the winter season opening of Gramex [one of the lobbying organizations for stricter copyright laws, sort of like the RIAA, but for performing artists] to receive compliments over the copyright law. It was very therapeutic, because we got so much negative feedback on it originally. Now I got to bask in the copious compliments of wonderful men. I have to confess that some of them didn’t understand to compliment us, so we needed to guide and urge them a bit.

Indeed, sport fans. She’s actually gloating because the travesty of a copyright law passed.

Somebody please shut this woman up – she’s singlehandedly corrupting the party. Or maybe it’s just a thinly veiled plot to whittle the urban green-moment to nothing. Too bad the leader of the pitifully small, but multipartisan Sane Guys-contingent in the parliament is in the same party.

Or perhaps this is just an elaborate joke. But it hardly looks like one. And considering that the entry is what… two weeks old, the joke’s worn thin already.

Nov 212005
 

Daylight on the seaside
Daylight on the seaside, part 2
Got the 6680 talking to the iBook. Here’s a couple of pictures from today’s excursion to Kirkkonummi. The latter has a nice burn-in from an extreme against-the-sun take.

Pictures taken outside turn out well, but any challenging conditions (especially low light inside) overwhelm the poor camera. Though occasionally (like this image of Sigur Rós) the random number generator within the CCD hits paydirt.

But even low-quality pictures are always better than no pictures at all. And that’s what a camera phone is about – an ubiquitous imaging device, not one that produces gallery-ready art.

Nov 212005
 

This week’s noteworthy things. Last week’s, actually. Missed them yesterday.

Stiff upper lip:

  • The shipment with Wired #10 on it was discovered, and akateeminen delivered the magazine.
  • threadless has a sale.
  • Part 2 of the album of the year thus far is out on the 23rd.
  • Peyton Manning’s in great form.

Soiled blue collar:

  • Sobriety on gigs. Though KMFDM was enjoyable either way.
  • The Sony rootkit and the Prisoner-remake news were indeed grim.
  • CSI hops on the “games cause violence”-bandwagon. I hope there’s a jackthompson-esque lawyers amongst the collateral damage.
  • Unfortunately, so is Drew Brees. Lost the week’s NFL-roster game.
Nov 212005
 

(A much overdue review, been ages since I actually watched the movie.)

Expectations on Jon Turteltaub’s National Treasure were not exactly high. It’d been ages since a decent Nicholas Cage movie, and this seemed to be just a rush job to ride on the popularity of the DaVinci Code (which, starring Tom Hanks, will be out in 2006). Tack on a token female lead, a couple of explosions and Sean Bean as a bad guy, and you’re done. That’s how it appeared to be in the trailers, but fortunately the prejudices were not warranted.

This turned out to be a very decent movie indeed. Yes, it does skirt uncomfortably close to the often-walked conspiracy route with freemasons very much in focus. Yes, it is functional national monument-porn, touring the biggest attractions of the east coast. Yes, the story has gaping holes you could drive a herd of camels through. But it’s entertaining, very entertaining. The story’s pace is quick, and the clues towards the eventual discovery are imaginatively done. And it’s quite a family film as well: very little violence (a peaceful resolution instead of a pyroclasmic sequence that consumes half the budget), no swearing, a few kisses and altogether a thorough boys-own-adventure-from-the-fifties feel to the whole thing. At times it feels like an extended MacGyver episode. Boyscouty to the extreme. There are no elements that would disturb a republican in his fifties. Hence (and let me repeat it here: it’s an entertaining two hours), it’s indeed surprising how thoroughly this baby got trashed upon release.

Sean Bean’s not bad in this movie either. And the choice of the clean generation is clear: the good guys in the movie use Google and bad guys use the Yahoo! search engine. The sequel option in the waning moments of the film is hopefully just a joke – though apart from popularity this would actually have most of the makings of a decent franchise…

Nov 212005
 

Just how much is 87,000,000,000 dollars? Physically, that is. An impressive amount, to say the least.

The brave leader of the free world is foiled by his apparent new nemesis, a locked door. The accompanying picture is priceless, and I really really like the last sentence of the item: “An aide escorted him to the correct ‘ exit and on to dinner at the Great Hall of the People.”

Nov 192005
 

Things that have impressed or stupefied this week. Entirely Sony Rootkit-free, that subject has been discussed and dissed to the death already.

  • A remake of the classic Prisoner show has been proposed. With most of the cool/unique bits removed with surgical precision.
  • Sam Peckinpah’s marvellous ode to the end of the western era, The Wild Bunch, finally gets a decent dvd treatment. The current version is an ancient flipper, and this update is much appreciated.
  • Hell must be freezing over: an interesting Microsoft Blog.
  • The third Ben Schott’s Miscellany book will soon be out in finnish.
  • A finnish google maps blog. Now the question on where a hole drilled from Helsinki through the centre of the Earth would surface on the other side can finally be settled.
  • A definitive list of 100 best board games ever. Backgammon and go are present among the commercial games, but chess is conspicuously absent. Or my search-fu is weak.
  • Someone with a decent amount of time in his hands has implemented a UNIX-lookalike virtual machine in Javascript. It even has a functional vi in it. Redirection seems to be misbehaving, but it’s a hack-y achievement nonetheless.
  • Risto Isomäki’s Sarasvatin Hiekka is shortlisted for the Finlandia-award. But with the decision done by our ex-prime minister and all around master grouch, I don’t think that a science fiction book has no chance of success. But who knows, maybe Paavo is a recovering trekkie, now on a serious B5-binge.
  • Google analytics started working, but clearly the launch capacity needs were vastly under-estimated.
  • The search terms that reach the Lavonardo HQ are lame, when compared to those of benrope.

Ok, so it’s NOT rootkit free, but this image is way too clever to miss out on. Sue me.

Nov 192005
 

KMFDM on stage in Tavastia
Saw KMFDM, one of the original groups to combine industrial noise and metal. In Tavastia, which originally seemed oddly small choice for venue. However, the gig was not sold out, so in the end the location was indeed optimal.

Warmed up by Panic Drives Human Herds. Who were just starting to play when I got in around eleven. Played loud. And not for long. Not being an expert in industrialish genres, the band sounded OK, but impossible to quantify and was nothing too exciting about it.

The main attraction took to the stage quarter past midnight or so. Played pretty much exhaustively new songs, or songs off albums I haven’t been exposed to. The audience seemed to be on the mellow side, or perhaps the mosh pit was gracefully hidden from prying eyes. All in all a positive experience, and the purveyors of the punishing industrial beat looked like they enjoyed themselves as well. The band played rather long, and this time took care not to end up in the coat check queue-chaos. Nope, had an extra Red while waiting.

Shirts on sale were very much on the affordable side. Ended up with one that has the Angst album cover on it. A steal at 15 euros, lessee how well the shirt holds together in laundry.

Positive indeed, and definitely have to take a serious look into their newest albums. Soon.

Nov 152005
 

The Nokia 770 has been out of stock ever since it became available in the european online store. Now the american shipping date has been annouced – let’s see what effect, if any, the november 17th has on the general availability. Still undecided whether to get one or not. gromit is more than usable as the sofa surfboard, and boasts a bigger screen anyhow. But the geek-factor of the device cannot be denied – as evidenced by the interest all over the web: Internet Tablet Talk seems to be the biggest blog about the subject, Nokia 770 is not an official affiliate – just cleverly named, Planet Maemo is, as is the blog written by the guy who directs the development of the product.

S60 (née Series 60) has finally gotten its first official blogs: is a generic news blog, whereas Tommi’s Application Blog unsurprisingly concentrates on nifty apps, and the MRKTNGman‘s on marketing. Not that much content in any of them yet. Been lazy in discovering anything funky for the phone lately, but at least the middle one ought to provide tidbits of the cream of the crop. Not so sure about the two others.

[ Disclaimer: Yes, I do work for the company - but not on either of these products. So take the pointers above with an appropriate amount of distrust. ]

Nov 152005
 

Google bought the web-analysis company Urchin, and released their main product as the free Google Analytics application.

The launch hasn’t gone exactly smoothly. I haven’t been able to even get an acknowledgment from the server about whether the copy&pasted HTML-snippet works.

And I’m not the only one it seems. So maybe the commercial competition does not have to quake immediately in its collective boots. But soon they probably will, when the might of the multicolored machine, combined with the adsense keeps raking in their old customers.

The application itself seems well-done (and way flashier than the sitemeter currently used here, but its usability remains to be checked out when the meter starts ticking.

Is this the first ever muffed launch from google? Or am I just remembering the good ones only…

Nov 142005
 

Two recently discovered bands. Of quite different genres. But who’s nicheing?

Opeth. Less deathmetal-y than I originally thought, far more interesting than just down-tuned guitars and growly vocals. Missed the trio of gigs in Helsinki. They seem to have been sold out for a good reason. Started out with their newest album, Ghost Reveries a month or so ago. Have been happy, and will seek out their other albums. Which according to “those in the know” will get rougher the earlier they have been published.

Crash. Which surprisingly has passed by almost unnoticed (don’t listen to radio much, and pay even less attention to what is played). Upon listening to their new album (best of + couple of new tracks), noted that some of the songs were familiar. Pop. The good kind of pop. But the vocals just remain odd and very distinctive, despite multiple chances of accommodation. Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve never heard singing of another lawyer from Turku. Maybe they all just happen to emulate the nasal meowing of a lazy tomcat.

And before this gets too serious music-appreciation, here’s something completely different: the 101 Rules of Progressive Metal. A lot of which don’t probably make sense unless you have a MA in guitar-onanism. Or happen to like Dream Theater a lot. Curiously, these two things usually go hand in hand. And nope, despite having a few DT albums on the shelves, I definitely do not qualify – most of their material just bores me beyond belief.

Nov 132005
 

And this week the lady fortuna smiled/frowned on the following.

Grin:

  • Figs. As a jam particle and eaten singly. Dried only, couldn’t score fresh ones in the local shops.
  • Ninth Island Pinot Noir. Much appreciated. And the white’s supposed to be an even more classic selection.
  • Empire magazine. One of the greatest time sinks known to man.

Grimace:

  • Overpaid primadonnas with eagerbeaver agents. And that’s T.O. and not one of folks at work.
  • No issue #10 of Wired seems to be coming to Finland. Official story is that the shipping agency “misplaced” a pallet “somewhere in Sweden”.
  • Still no snow. And plenty of darkness.
  • And AK-47 is hurt. Again.
Nov 122005
 

Bunch of things that are worth mentioning, but not big enough to warrant individual entries. Or maybe I’m just being lazy.

  • KillBill’sBrowser combines my appreciation of IE-alternatives, Quentin Tarantino and nice layout very well. Some of the listed reasons for switching are priceless, such as “Mozilla has never made a talking paperclip.”
  • Lots of links to how to build a macquarium. Have one surplus Mac Plus and a sturdy cupboard, so this would be an interesting hardware hacking idea to consider.
  • Two finns in the “five NHL players exceeding expectations this season”-list. Definitely pleasing to see Selänne appreciated again, and Joni Pitkänen has matured to a top-flight defender in a very short time. If the guys stay in good shape (and the goalies start picking up pucks) we might have a good chance for success in Turin.
  • Time to pick up hockeyblog again.
  • My contribution to the handwriting-meme running rampant in the finnish blogosphere. And no, I’m not the author of the SIG-blog, merely of the un-wipable scribbles on the whiteboard. And yeah, my writing is usually clearer, but not by any sizable margin.
  • Again. Lots and lots of interesting stuff in O’Reilly’s radar. Haven’t checked Veronica Mars out, but with the persistent comparisons to the almighty Buffy, maybe I just should.
  • The drummer of Alamaailman Vasarat has hurt his hand, and as such their participation in next week’s gig with Tuomari Nurmio has been cancelled. Bugger. Was looking to see them together.

EDIT 25.8.2008: Not all of the links have survived the intervening years.

Nov 122005
 

Microsoft finally released the list of xbox games that are known to be compatible with the just-about-to-arrive new console.

And the current list is just the tip of the iceberg, the company expects to “add support for more games in the future”. The two consoles being rather different (starting from the CPU architecture), this is no small feat.

And I do appreciate Bioware’s Jade Empire being on the list. It’s an xbox-exclusive title, and as a certified Bioware-fanboy I definitely wish to try my hand with it.