Archive for the ‘on the interwebs’ Category

Videos that auto-play when you first up a website are the worst. Worse than accidentally squirting lemon juice in your eye, stepping on a Lego piece in the middle of the night, or even watching the US Presidential debates. (Although I guess you could technically get even more evil by having a website that auto-plays this most recent Presidential debate when it loads, but hey, you get my point.)

Today, some arbitrary website I had to browse to for work was the straw that broke the camel’s back when the website started auto-playing a 20 minute long infomercial in the sidebar, and I decided I absolutely needed to figure out how to tweak Chrome so I could prevent auto-play videos while browsing the web.

I found it more than a little ironic when PC World’s article on how to stop auto-play videos had an aggravating auto-play video of its own in the sidebar:

pcworld

Even more aggravating? the PCWorld’s instructions don’t even work for their own auto-play videos, since the instructions are only applicable to Flash content and not HTML5!

In the end, I found a few more useful articles, including this one that instructs how to disable auto-play Flash content and then provides a helpful link to a Chrome extension called Disable HTML5 Autoplay to take care of the HTML5 side of things. So far, so good – it even restrained the PCWorld video from starting up when I reloaded their page!

Someone sent this to me, and I was just blown away.

Listen to David Bowie and Annie Lennox singing Under Pressure for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert back in 1992 and see if you can make your ears happy, too.

First, a rehearsal prior to the show:

And then the live performance:

It gives me chills to listen to that. If only I could have been there in that crowd. Of course, I was only 13 at the time and probably wouldn’t have appreciated what an amazing concert that was, so now I’m off to build a time machine so current me can go take past me to the concert and school myself in some music appreciation.

I think this cartoon from the New Yorker says it best:

01-14-16-rickman-1000

“Here’s to the best damned antagonist a guy could ask for.”

 

Credit to Benjamin Schwartz

Someone needs to tell these girls that is not how you ride a bicycle.

Seriously though, I am in awe.

Some friends of mine have launched a COMPLETELY AWESOME website/service/company. It’s called Foodles, and it’s going to dominate the online cookbook/recipe scene with their well-thought out features and unique focus on preserving family meal traditions.

If you or someone you know likes cooking, recipes, preserving family food traditions, or has been looking for the right way to start building your own food-based family traditions, Foodles is going to be the service to use.

Right now they’re raising the last funds they need to finish the project through a Kickstarter campaign.  Any help you can give them to reach their goal is so very appreciated. Check it out and if you like it, consider backing it. They are offering some great incentives, including free premium account memberships, recipe packs, and hardcopy cookbooks of the most popular curated recipes.

I’ve backed this project myself because I know these people and know that they have the knowledge and skill to turn this concept into the awesome online recipe-sharing and family-tradition documenting tool I’ve been looking for myself for years now.  This is a legit project, but they need your help to meet their goal and be able to fund the final development of the site.  Please consider backing them, and even if it’s not for you, please spread the word to your friends and families who may be interested.  Thanks in advance!


P.S. – In case you’re not familiar with Kickstarter – please note that if the funding goal is not reached, you are not charged for your pledged amount, and you can change or cancel your pledge any time before the December 14th cutoff.

Do you remember the days when you used to get things in the mail other than bills? When was the last time you wrote someone a REAL letter (outside of Christmas card season?)

A Month of Letters Participant BadgeLauowolf pointed me to Mary Robinette Kowal’s post on A Month of Letters challenge.

The idea is simple – in the month of February, commit to mailing one piece of correspondence for every day of the month that the postal service runs in your country.  You can mail postcards, letters, packages.  You can hand-write them, you can type them, you can make a ransom note out of words cut out of the newspaper, if you want.  You can send one out each day of the month, or mail them in a big batch once a week.  But send out REAL MAIL, and brighten someone’s day.  (Challenge part 2 is writing back to everyone who writes to you – I’ll leave this as an extra mission for you, should you choose to accept it.  This message will NOT self-destruct in 5 seconds.)

I’m going to participate, but so far I’m short on addresses of people to write to.  If you’d like to receive some REAL MAIL from me, send me an note with your address to rossruns@gmail.com – I promise not to share it or sell it, just like I promise that if you send me your address, you’ll get something from me in the mail!

And hey, if you want to participate too, awesome! Lauowolf is gathering peoples’ names together to get a circle of ex-Voxers and others in on the fun – if you want to participate, head over here and send Lauowolf your address (the email address is buried in the post on that link), and you’ll get some addresses in return to help you on your way.  And don’t be dissuaded by a whole Month of Letters – if you can only get out 1, or 2, or 5 letters, those are that many more that will go help put a smile on someone’s face.

Back in college, I may or may not have run an mp3-sharing FTP site off my computer that was registered on Oth.net.  My roommates downloaded bootleg “cams” and “screeners” through IRC, and we watched them on a modded Playstation that could play VCDs. I thought nothing of it; we were poor college students.  Everyone was doing it.  This was the age of Napster and college-wide network shares.

In my first apartment after college, in 2001, I had my computer connected up through Time Warner Cable.  One day, they shut off my internet.  When I called to inquire, they said the a record label associated with the RIAA had reported me as in violation of copyright infringement for sharing copyrighted music files.  I think they had a list of about 40-50 tracks they specifically had called out as hosted by my computer available for people to download.

This was before all the RIAA lawsuits started. TWC told me to remove any file sharing software and public access to my music and they would reinstate my internet connection.  No harm, no foul.  I got off with a warning.

Had this been 2-5 years later, I could have been hit with a $3000-$5000 “settlement fee” for the same offense.  Or if I fought it? I might have ended up with a $2 million judgement against me, like Jammie Thomas-Rasset in 2007.  I got lucky.  I don’t download or share music anymore.

Piracy today is rampant.  If you could persuade teenagers to be honest with you, most would tell you they don’t buy music – they have tools to rip the tracks off of the audio in Youtube videos, or they torrent them, or download from sites like the recently-shut-down MegaUpload. Some people boast of terabytes of music in their archives – an amount which would cost any normal purchaser thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to acquire “honestly”.

SOPA and PIPA are obviously flawed measures, and would do a much greater order of magnitude of damage to the internet than any benefit they’d provide to the RIAA and MPAA.  But lobbyists and lawmakers are going to continue to push and push for these kind of regulatory actions because of all this piracy.  The recording and motion picture industries are mired in old technology, and they believe they cannot survive if the piracy continues.  (Whether they actually can or not is something I’ve not seen enough information on to have a firm opinion about, but I suspect that there are enough innovative groups and labels out there that are getting by without the frivolous lawsuits that the RIAA and MPAA’s whole arguments are thrown into a doubtful light.)

So if SOPA and PIPA won’t work, can we eliminate piracy by means other than legislation? Probably not. Especially not if the public mindset continues to be “Everyone’s Doing It”, and people believe they’re immune from reprisal because they’re “just one in a million”, or they’re “just downloading one movie only, and not even a good one at that” (both arguments I’ve actually heard for justifying piracy).

Killing piracy is like curing poverty – idealistically, it would just require enough people to care enough to take action (or stop taking action, as the case may be) to effect change.  Realistically, if parents don’t govern their kids’ behavior, colleges don’t crack down on their students’ activities, and ISPs don’t punish ALL offenders, the number of incidences of piracy is not going to decrease.  And the only way to really get ANY of that to occur is to make piracy not only so illegal, but so prohibitively costly to NOT monitor and protect against it that ISPs, college campuses, and individual families begin to comply.

The men and women in Congress know this.  Every day, lobbyists from the RIAA and MPAA hound them with this truth.  And so they work to develop bills like SOPA and PIPA to fight back.  Yes, these bills are horrendous and could break the internet as we know it today.  If they do come to a vote next week, they probably won’t pass.  But that doesn’t mean they’re going to just go away.  Just like music and movie piracy, the legislation to combat piracy is going to keep popping up, rearing its ugly head until the lobbyists can ram through something to help out the record and movie labels (assuming anything can, at this point).

So stay strong, stay informed, and keep fighting against censorship, but be aware that it’s going to be a long battle ahead.  Oh, and if you can, consider obtaining your music and movies legally instead of bootlegging them.  It’s not going to end the piracy, but I’d REALLY hate to see your name on the next lawsuit filed by the RIAA/MPAA.