Monday, November 17, 2008

The Oscars: Who Cares?

Producer Sid Ganis is the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has produced such timeless classics as: ( Rotten Tomatoes rating in brackets)

Do the Oscars even mean anything anymore?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Good Old Games is now officially out of private beta and available to the public.

Good Old Games is a website which allows you to download classic games ("classic" as in Fallout 2, not as in Pong) legally and completely DRM free for around six bucks a pop.

The lack of DRM means that you actually own the game once you download it, and you're free to install it on as many different machines as many times as you like, and even download the game from GOG as many times as you wish after paying only once.

The games are all guaranteed to be perfectly compatible with both Windows XP and Vista - which eliminates a huge headache when it comes to older games - and also include full technical support. Furthermore, a bunch of extra freebies are thrown in, such as wallpapers, full soundtracks, complete manuals, etc.

Earthworm Jim 1 & 2, Colin McRae Rally 2005, and the epic Freespace series are examples of titles available for six to ten dollars each.

My personal opinion is that, for the price of a nice lunch, it's a steal. Being a broke motherfucker really isn't an excuse to pirate these games anymore, and considering the service and extras you'd be missing out on, you'd just be doing yourself in.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Robocop on a Unicorn

By Lindsay Holman, originally uploaded by Olav Rokne.
The image above is part of a nice Flickr gallery I found featuring images of Robocop on a unicorn. Yup, that pretty much covers it.

Okay, so in the above picture Robocop isn't strictly on the unicorn, but I think Robocop's orientation towards unicorns is really more of a guideline than a rule.

Friday, October 03, 2008


After months of weighing the relative pros and cons since I first began to notice an increase in both the frequency and intensity of my headaches - from occasional to downright chronic - I find myself in the optometrist's office. I was referred by my doctor after he had heard me whine about excruciating brain-pain and the fear of tumors once too often. Owing to my inherent laziness and indecision, it's taken me long.

The examination room is clean but not threateningly sterile and the optometrist is petite, soft-spoken, and oh-so-pretty. The final quality making it somewhat difficult to focus on arbitrary points on the wall when instructed to do so, and not her shapely bosom.

Finally after being strapped into the terrifying phoropter and reading aloud ostensibly random shapes, symbols, digits and letters in varying light conditions, the lenses are removed. A blur which is very familiar, despite the fact that I had never before noticed it, returns to my vision to steal the crispness from the world around me.

It turns out I have Hyperopia - farsightedness. In addition to this my left eye is apparently somewhat weaker than my right and I'm getting a pair of glasses. I'm to collect them in a week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How will you fix the economy?

"Our economy and putting it back on the side of the public trust. And that contract that should be inherent in corporations who are hell bent on destroying America and American troops are providing in his country. But no, the Pakistani people also, they want freedom. They want democratic values to be able to speak with him the other day and giving him my commitment, as John McCain's running mate, the first thing I said to him was, if you ask that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the lobbyists play in an issue that we see right now in Washington and that is strong and that important an issue that we saw with that invasion of Georgia shows us some steps backwards that Russia has recently taken away from the other day and giving him my commitment, as John McCain's running mate, the first thing I said to him was, if you really think I can give you examples of things that John McCain and I have not and I have understood the world is and how important it is about doing a lot of background work first and foremost, taxpayers cannot be looked to as that leadership, that light needed across the world."

Geek Nostalgia #1 - The Hacker's Manifesto

When I first read it - at an age when the movie Hackers was new and seemed moderately plausible, when 9600 baud was absolutely smokin', when wardialing for BBSes was the best thing to do with your Saturday afternoon - The Hacker's Manifesto seemed like the coolest thing ever.

Reading it as an adult, however, with my view warped by cynicism and tinted murky by the cold, affectionless lense of experience, it seems obnoxious, conceited, and even irresponsible. Nevertheless, it had a strong effect on me as a kid, being an iconic part of a culture that encouraged me to spend countless hours teaching myself how to write code and fiddle with the phones. I know I'm not alone in this, and that there's an entire generation of 90s "latchkey kid" hackers who gazed upon the Manifesto with doe eyes at one point or another.

                               ==Phrack Inc.==

Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3 of 10

The following was written shortly after my arrest...

\/\The Conscience of a Hacker/\/


+++The Mentor+++

Written on January 8, 1986

Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager
Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...
Damn kids. They're all alike.

But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain,
ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what
made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?
I am a hacker, enter my world...
Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of
the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...
Damn underachiever. They're all alike.

I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain
for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms.
Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."
Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is
cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I
screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me...
Or feels threatened by me...
Or thinks I'm a smart ass...
Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...
Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.

And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through
the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is
sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is
"This is it... this is where I belong..."
I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to
them, may never hear from them again... I know you all...
Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike...

You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at
school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip
through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or
ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us will-
ing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the
beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying
for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and
you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek
after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color,
without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals.
You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us
and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is
that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like.
My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me

I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual,
but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.

+++The Mentor+++

Polite nod in the direction of Reddit for reminding me of this.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Firefox Extensions

Part Firefox-whoring, part save my ass in the event of a cataclysmic hard drive crash. Here's a list of Firefox extensions I'm currently using.

I won't bother to add links because:

A. I'm lazy.
B. If you can't figure out how to Google it, you're better off without extensions.

  • Foxmarks: backs up and synchronizes bookmarks across machines.
  • Flashblock: blocks flash. Or does it flash blocks?
  • Adblock Plus: is it a good idea to mention this on an ad-supported blog? Probably not.
  • Beagle Indexer: indexes visited pages using Beagle Search.
  • CustomizeGoogle: enhances Google and its search results.
  • Fast Dial: visual bookmarking. May be rendered obsolete in Firefox 3.1
  • Screen Grab!: saves an entire web-page as an image.
  • StumbleUpon: social bookmarking
  • Tab Kit: tab grouping, multi-rows, tree view, etc.
  • Torbutton: Anonymizes connection using Tor.
  • RefControl: spoof http referrers.

The list will probably be edited from time to time with no warning.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Online petitions: You're not solving anything

Perhaps this post will end up being an unintended exploration of the mind of a very cynical man, rather than the snarky expose of affectation that it's intended to be. That all depends on the approach of the reader, but this issue is one which has annoyed me for a while now and, come Hell or high water - or low opinion - rant about it I shall.

Perusing my Facebook News Feed, I notice that one of my friends had taken the initiative to join the group "Say NO to Albino Killings in Tanzania, Please Sign to get 10000 Signatures." A group featuring a heart-rending photograph of a badly beaten and somewhat bored looking Albino man, which is accompanied by a description that claims to be seeking actually 100,000 signatures, and not the ten thousand which the name leads us to believe.

All in all, it could be seeking - and in fact have - a billion signatures. My question is: Who cares?

A typical example of a courageous Internet Activist, crusading tirelessly in the name of justice.

What do people hope to achieve by signing up to online petitions? Do they think that the government will suddenly do an about-face on their stance towards the issue†1 merely because 100,000 anonymous signatures fell on someone's desk? Of course! The economy of an entire nation could be reshuffled and all international relations reevaluated because 100,000 people on the Internet†2 decided to click "join". Makes perfect sense.

Maybe they're not really arrogant (or naive) enough to think that they could convince the government to change their position. Maybe they just believe that the government doesn't even know about these atrocities, and a petition delivered to the right pair of hands could get the people in charge to sit up and take notice.

I'm sorry, I call bullshit. Are you telling me that the city-college dropout who founded the group in question actually knows more about international human rights issues than official government media liaisons, world-traveling ambassadors, and professional intelligence operatives? Give me a break.

Finally, the argument could be made that these people aren't really hoping to effect any change through their actions. They're just doing something in order to, you know, do something. Surely doing something is better than doing nothing. As noble as that may seem to the credulous ear,†3†4 I'm sorry to point out that you're not doing anything. Well, besides placating your sense of self-satisfaction, that is.

If you really want to do something, then raise money. Convince your employer to donate. Send packages of food or replacement mine-detector batteries to the United Nations. Travel to the afflicted regions and help to build schools and hospitals. In other words, do something real. Clicking a link and then forgetting about it is not real.

The reason online petitions are fundamentally wrong is because it achieves nothing, yet makes those who "sign" feel like they're doing something. It imbues them with a smug sense of accomplishment that may be enough to prevent them from doing something that could potentially make a difference. I mean, you already signed the online petition, why should you go out and donate money, too? Am I right?

In summary, online petitions are not only pointless, they're counter-productive. By signing them you only succeed in proving that you're a smug asshole who wants to be Bono without actually leaving your comfy, air conditioned office.

I realize that this somewhat Facebook-related post is immediately preceded by another Facebook-related post. I apologize for this and hope that the wanton monotony of my life will subside enough for this not to happen again.

1. Which I think it's safe to assume is a stance of unmitigated apathy, otherwise the group wouldn't exist in the first place.

2. Or about one fifth of the membership of

3. Or eye. Whatever.

4. Yes, I'm using footnotes! Just one more step towards turning everything on the Web into Wiki-goddamn-pedia... Or worse, a graduate dissertation.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Vindication of the New Facebook Layout

Being the lazy sonofabitch that I am, I'm not even going to write any new material especially for this post. Instead, I'm going to paste a (slightly abridged) note which I wrote on my Facebook profile earlier today for the edification of my "friends".

Here goes:

There's been a great deal of whining lately about the new Facebook layout, and more than a few Facebook groups dedicated to its eradication, but why all the hate? Since I have nothing better to do on this chilly Sunday afternoon, I'll take a stab at attempting to justify the new layout. It's very tldr, but try to bear with me. Besides, if you don't like reading you have no business being on the Internet in the first place.

I suppose the most simple answer for all the hate is because people fear change - and often with good reason: A new layout means that most non-tech savvy users (read: 90% of you) will have to spend time getting reacquainted with where to click in order to perform any given task.

In order to understand why the change came about in the first place, however, requires understanding the reasons that precipitated it. The fact of the matter is that Facebook was turning into a ridiculous parody of itself.

When I want to go to your profile to, for example, get your phone number or e-mail address, that's basically all I'm interested in. I couldn't give a fuck how many zombies you made, or how attractive your peers find you. Nor do I have any interest whatsoever in seeing the idiotic movie clips and ancient, dried up, "funny" images posted on your so-called Super Wall. As interesting and amusing as these applications may be to you, the ultimate truth is that nobody else gives a shit. So why should I get bombarded with your superfluous crap that steals my bandwidth, melts my CPU and crashes my browser, when all I want is your fucking e-mail address?

This is the same fate that befell MySpace when they decided to allow its users to customize their own profiles as they saw fit - the dreaded "MySpace Syndrome". 99% of profiles became so afflicted with hideous layouts, that when Facebook showed up, everybody jumped ship for the promise of a more sane social network.

Today, the only people who still regularly use MySpace are lonely 13-year-olds and out-of-touch record labels.

This is what Facebook was turning into because of people like you. Every second profile was becoming so overloaded with ridiculously stupid and unnecessary application boxes that they became nigh on unusable. If things were allowed to escalate, then those of us who are not complete and utter morons would have left to find another social network to call our own. Bebo or Orkut or maybe even one that doesn't suck. At least until you retards with your Pirates vs Vampires shit decided to seek us out yet again. No, the line must be drawn somewhere and that somewhere is here.

"But it's my profile, I can do whatever I want to it!" I hear you belch? Well, no it isn't. A Facebook profile is not public property. It's virtual, private property, and unless you paid money for your profile, you have exactly zero say over it. Furthermore, if you had read the Facebook Terms of Use before signing up (you didn't, am I right?), you'll know that everything that gets posted to Facebook becomes the property of Facebook and they can do with it pretty much whatever they want. Uploading all those pictures of little Billy's first steps doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore, now does it?

The new Facebook layout arranges everything into dynamic tabs. This means that the content of any given tab only gets downloaded when I click on that tab. And, fortunately, Facebook included a "bullshit" tab. Oh, I'm sorry, I meant to say "boxes" tab. This is where your Super Wall, Top Friends, and other assorted crap nobody cares about goes. This means that your applications can now be seen only by people who really want to see them (read: nobody).

Now, I'm all for choice. Some of you don't want the new layout gone permanently, you just want the option to go back to the old one. That's not too unreasonable, is it? Well, no it's not. Unfortunately, though, it's not gonna happen and here's why:

If Facebook decided to keep both the old and new layouts this means that, in future, whenever they wanted to add or extend functionality to the site they'll be severely hampered in doing so. Worst case scenario, it'll be impossible. Best case scenario, they'll have to do twice the amount of work. Which means twice the number of man-hours. Which means twice the expense. From a business point of view (and remember Facebook is a business, not a public service - they don't owe you jack shit) having two concurrent layouts is completely unfeasible.

What this means is that there can be only one layout. Shouldn't it be the better, more evolved of the two options? The one that's more convenient to use, overall less threatening to Facebook's revenue stream and, let's face it, less embarrassing.

Ultimately, if you don't like it you're free to join another social network. I recommend MySpace where you'll be free to show off your Zombies and Top Friends with all the lonely 13-year-olds and out-of-touch record labels. They just love that shit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brown Ubuntu: It's not that bad, really!

Ubuntu has taken quite a bit of flack from the get go for its, uhm... unique... default colour scheme; mostly because the overarching colour of the theme is brown. Now, I myself am quite partial to it. It's warm, welcoming, and a departure from the same old blue- and silver-based themes with which most other operating systems seem to roll off the assembly line. This default theme has been tweaked throughout Ubuntu's various releases, but the main colour palette still remains based around the colour brown.

My current (at time of writing) Ubuntu Linux desktop.
I've thus far been rather indifferent to this particularly nasty brand of prejudice... Until it made its way onto my own doorstep. Judging me by the colour of my skin is one thing, but judging me by the colour of my desktop? Well, I'm afraid that's just going too far.

A sagacious relative of mine bombasted his corpulent cuerpo into my bedroom on a recent visit, and spied my Ubuntu desktop (sporting a modified, but still very much brown, theme). The first words echoing from out of his abysmal estuary described my desktop as "looking like shit." Not in a metaphorical sense, mind you, but in a very literal, faecal one. I shrugged it off and distracted him by tossing an animal cracker down the hall. Nevertheless, this got me thinking. Why would the first thing someone thinks of, when seeing the colour brown, be shit? There's nothing inherently shitty about the colour brown - though, I concede, there's something inherently brown about shit.

When I think of the colour brown, the first thing that pops into my head is chocolate. Something which is a treat: A delicious luxury to be sampled only by the most deserving. Wouldn't this be a very clever - or at least marketable - way to describe a great operating system? Think of a high quality, free operating system as being analogous to a neverending river of chocolate. The former being as much a pleasure to use as the latter is to eat. Except that Ubuntu won't cause you to get fat (in theory). Nor cause you to become diabetic and lead you to a lifetime of health problems and an early death. Okay, come to think of it, maybe chocolate isn't such a marketable analogy, but hey, at least it's not shit.

Another thing that comes to mind when I think of the colour brown is coffee. A delicious beverage with a history as rich as its flavour, and with as many varieties as it has fans; one for every palate. A universally beloved infusion which is welcoming enough to be accessible to the casual drinker, yet still full and complex enough to please the connoisseur. A drink equally at home and appropriate in a professional atmosphere as in a casual one, a pot of which not being out of place in either a cosy room with a few close friends, or the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company.

Wouldn't that last paragraph, awkward though it may be, describe Linux with equal comeliness? Of course it would, because it does.

What it comes down to is that those who attack Ubuntu for adopting a brown default theme for their Linux distribution are really just highlighting their own short-sightedness. Clearly, they feel the need to beset those who dare deviate from the norm of cold, sparse themes which are about as homely as an operating theater.

Your choice of themes, much like your choice of sexual partner, is an individual thing and entirely your own business, but it seems irrational to attack Ubuntu for using a brown default theme, given its warmth, neutrality and individuality.

Mark Shuttleworth has written a great defense of the choice of brown for the default Ubuntu theme, clearly explaining the motivation.

As requested, here's a link to the GTK Dust theme.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Californian churches hate freedom

An unfortunate article secreted by my RSS feed today is about how 1 million Californian Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Christians, Sikhs and Hindus are planning to protest in support of Proposition 8, which would repeal the legalization of gay marriage.

According to Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church, "if Proposition 8 fails, there is an inevitable loss of religious freedom."

What I don't understand is the notion that someone's religious freedom has been diminished by allowing gay marriage. Sure, if gay marriage were outlawed then one thing we can all agree on is that someone's right has been taken away. Whether or not this is a good thing is what's open for debate, but what nobody can deny is that gay people have had a right - the right to marriage - repealed.

On the other hand, if gay marriage is legal then how is religious freedom lost? Religious folks can still get married and church clergy can still refuse to perform certain wedding ceremonies on an individual level (such as Catholic priests being allowed to refuse performing marriage for divorced people, even though divorce is legal), so exactly what right is no longer there?

Maybe I'm just being thick, so perhaps someone can explain to me how this is not a ridiculous hypocrisy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Flickr, Creative Commons, and an analogy involving enemas

Sidney Crosby (Creative Commons Retouch from Vanluven), originally uploaded by DarthLen.

Online photo sharing site Flickr (as if there's anyone who doesn't know what it is) allows you to apply a Creative Commons license to any pictures you've uploaded. Obviously I'm more than happy about this as I've been a Creative Commons fan for some time based on my belief that traditional copyright laws are fundamentally flawed, but it does raise an interesting issue.

Flickr lets you choose a default license for any work which you upload, and also lets you change the copyright license for any given image at a later stage. So you upload some pictures from your holiday in Micronesia that get a traditional copyright applied to them by default, which you can then - if you wish - change to a less restrictive CC license at a later stage. This seems awfully convenient - and it is - but the point I'm trying to get at lies in the ability Flickr users have to change which license gets applied by default.

If you're a progressive-minded person and you decide that the majority of pictures you'll upload to your Flickr account will be under, say, a Creative Commons Attribution license, you'll decide it's far more convenient to change your default license to that and save yourself some effort in the long run. Big fucking deal, right? Well, actually yes. See, Creative Commons allows you to relicense your work at any time you want as long as you license it under a less restrictive license. So if you have a picture of your pug Larry under a CC Attribution NonCommercial Share Alike license, you are free to change that later on to an Attribution Share Alike license, which is less restrictive, but not an Attribution No Derivative Works license which is more restrictive and thus incompatible with your original license; at least not without a convoluted mess of legal headaches. In Creative Commons' own words:

"Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable. This means that you cannot stop someone, who has obtained your work under a Creative Commons license, from using the work according to that license."

Obviously this is to prevent you from fucking over (either accidentally or otherwise) parties who have already made use of your CC licensed work under the originally specified terms, by taking away rights you've already agreed to give them.

I have no doubt that Flickr added this option to make the lives of its users a bit easier, but in the process gave all of us the legal equivalent of a broken-glass encrusted enema with a bullet-shaped tip for easy insertion.

So what do I recommend? What I do is to leave my default license to standard copyright. Sure this leads to a bit of extra work whenever you upload images you wish to have under a Creative Commons license (it's hard work having to perform two extra clicks, you know), but at least you won't be violating CC relicensing terms, screwing anyone who wants to use your work, nor getting screwed by them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Dark Knight, IMDB, Digg, and a lot of presumption

This post saw its genesis in the form of a particularly indignant comment and follow-up comment I left in a Digg thread about an inflammatory /Film article discussing The Dark Knight's drop in the IMDB rankings from #1 to #3, accusing fans of The Dark Knight of having "gamed" the system in order to get their beloved Batman film such a high rank in the first place.

Instead of reinventing the wheel by typing the comments in a more cohesive form here, I'll just post them in their entirety. Here goes:

Digger "spepin" provoked with this opening salvo of total logical meltdown:
As good as The Dark Knight was, there was absolutely no way it was better than a good portion of those movies.

The fanboys tried, succeeded for a while but alas, they couldn't keep it forever.

Good to see Shawshank Redemption up there, in my opinion that's the best film created...

I had to give him points for rating The Shawshank Redemption so highly. Anyway, I replied:
Is it really a fanboy thing, though?

I saw the film, loved it, gave it a ten and moved on with my life. Does that make me part of some fanboy-brigade?

Maybe the movie just happens to be well-loved by the same demographic that happens to form the majority of regular IMDB voters. In lieu of any evidence to the contrary, I choose to believe that over some lame, pointless, carefully orchestrated conspiracy to get the movie to IMDB's number 1 spot.

"Good to see Shawshank Redemption up there, in my opinion that's the best film created... "

I agree that The Shawshank Redemption is an excellent film, but what it comes down to - as you point out - is opinion. If a person sincerely loves a film then I don't see them as being wrong in giving it a 10. Similarly, I see nothing wrong with someone giving a film a 0 if they *sincerely* see no redeeming qualities in it. IMDB isn't a competition to see who can give the most informed rating, it's an aggregate of popular opinion.

Just because a movie you didn't like as much as another ended up rating higher doesn't mean it's the fault of some insidious plot.

To which a fellow Digger with the chick-magnet net handle "dan222555" replied:
When you give the movie a 10 you're saying no better movie has ever been made. If you believe that (which would by all accounts be absurd), then fine give it a 10. If you don't believe that and you're giving it a 10 then your compromising the integrity of the rating system and you are just a part of some fanboy brigade.

I really had to reach for my A-game to counter such a deft riposte. Thus:
That's exactly my argument, though. Rating a movie (at least on IMDB) is a subjective thing. It's not meant to be a clinical evaluation of the movie's merits, but an aggregate of popular opinion. As soon as you try to turn it into a science, you're implying that you're in a position of knowing enough about cinema to evaluate a film fairly and completely. Maybe you do. For all I know you are a professional filmmaker or critic. I don't, though, so I can only rate a film according to what little I know about the movie making process and - most importantly - according to how much I enjoy it. If IMDB only wanted a movie to be rated according to professional criteria, then their fundamental mistake was allowing anybody other than professional critics to rate films. But then again, that's what Rotten Tomatoes is for, isn't it?

The other issue I have is that people tend to dictate how you're supposed to rate movie on IMDB. I've given a number of films 10. Films that I honestly enjoyed immensely. I take exception to being accused of fanboyism, diminishing the system, etc. purely because the way I choose to rate films disagrees with your personal views on what - I remind you - is a public site.

"When you give the movie a 10 you're saying no better movie has ever been made."

If I extend that line of reasoning, we reach a point where we can award NO movie a 10. The reason for this is because we can't be sure if a better film will one day be made. If I wanted to rate The Exorcist (a personal favourite) as a 10, I'd have to stop myself and ask: "What if a better film exists that I haven't yet seen? What if five years from now a better film is released? Surely if this happens the integrity of the rating system will be diminished if I rate a 10 now!" I don't think IMDB would have given us the option to rate a film a 10 or a 0 if we weren't logically allowed to use it. And I'd rather be told when and how to use those ratings by IMDB than by indignant strangers on the Internet.

When I personally give a film a 10 I'm not implying that no better movie has been made. I don't see myself as being knowledgeable enough about films to say that one is objectively better than another. I am, however, saying that I have not enjoyed another film more. It's easy for me to say that I enjoyed The Godfather, The Dark Knight and The Shining all equally, albeit in different ways, but none ever better. Therefore, I rate it a 10.
This final quote sums up pretty much everything I feel about the topic - albeit in a painfully long-winded way. Unless IMDB (or any other movie rating site, for that matter) specifically changes their rules to enforce a particular rating style on its users, I'm going to keep rating films based on how much I enjoyed them and not on how highly my peers tell me I need to regard it. Or how "genre defining" the script is. Or how "subtextual" the acting is.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Mist over Pietermaritzburg

Mist over Pietermaritzburg, originally uploaded by andrewmurray.

As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor.

They all agreed that it was a huge creature, luminous, ghastly, and spectral. I have cross-examined these men, one of them a hard-headed countryman, one a farrier, and one a moorland farmer, who all tell the same story of this dreadful apparition, exactly corresponding to the hell-hound of the legend. I assure you that there is a reign of terror in the district, and that it is a hardy man who will cross the moor at night.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


This page aims to be a point of contact for me (Cal Harding, your humble narrator) separate from my jabberwocky ranting and opinions that litter the rest of this blog.

If you need to get a hold of me, your best bet is e-mail. I can be reached at cal(_at_)calharding(_dot_)net

I sporadically lurk on Freenode using the nick "Cenobite".  You may or may not run into me there.

I regularly, uhm, "tweet" and my Twitter page is at

    About Cal

    Log Line

    A nerdy South African on the run from mediocrity uses his only weapon, the Internet, to save the world.

    Longer version

    Most blogs' "about" pages and other assorted vanity fluff are written in the third person, as it gives the blurb an air of faux-professionalism.  If you consider that the vast majority of these blurbs are written by the blog authors themselves, it does incite a chuckle.  Since I don't have my own publicist, I'll be swimming against the stream on this one...

    My name is Cal Harding.  I am a South African, a nerd, and a pop-culture junkie, though not necessarily in that order.  I'm not one of those Weezer-listening wannabe geeks either, but someone who paid his dues getting beaten up in school back when reading comic books and programming computers were things which could get you beaten up.  I've worked in IT and also enjoy playing guitar, writing, amateur astronomy, and playing Go.

    Of course, that isn't all I am, but it is mainly what I blog about: technology, geek-interest, movies, music and sundry, all from my own unique perspective.  If you like what you see, then subscribe and tell your friends and co-workers, if not... well, it's a big Web out there and you're free to move right along; I won't miss you.

    Be sure to check out my contact page if you need to get in touch with me.


    I'm happy to make all of my original content, unless otherwise noted, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license.

    This license permits you to copy, share and transmit my work free of charge, in any medium, as long as you credit me (Cal Harding (a link to the site would be nice, too (nested parentheses!))).  You're also allowed to adapt or build upon my work (like in mash-ups or whatever) as long as you credit me and distribute the derivative work under the same copyright terms.  If you want to do any of these things for commercial purposes, you'll have to ask permission first (see below).  None of this affects your right to fair dealing or fair use, whatever you want to call it.  Keep in mind that these terms extend to the use of my RSS feed.

    All of this ensures that the work remains "free" for anybody to use without breaking the law - unwittingly or otherwise - or being hindered from sharing by the threat of litigation.

    Note:  This does not include the right to republish any images from the site, for which I may not be the copyright holder, nor - obviously - the content of any ads, nor external sites to which I link.

    Commercial use:  If you want to use any of my content for commercial purposes, or for any reason want to be exempt from these licensing terms, just drop me a mail at cal{at}calharding<dot>net.  Don't be scared, I'm not uptight about this sort of thing and will probably say yes; I don't mind commercial use, but I'd like to keep track of it.

    Comments:  User comments remain the property of the poster and I accept no liability for their content, though I do reserve the right to make fun of them.

    Twitter:  In case you're wondering, all of my Twitter tweets (I hate having to use this stupid terminology) are public domain, so do what you want with them.

    Disclaimer:  This page serves as a simple explanation of your right to use my work (along with a bit of self-righteous proselytizing), but isn't a legal document or anything.  If any wording on this page is in conflict with the terms of the Creative Commons license, the license takes precedence.

    Final Thought:  If you don't know about Creative Commons, I encourage you to read up on it and consider making your own creative works available under such a license.  This allows culture to evolve and creativity to flourish unencumbered by ridiculous and outdated copyright laws.