Foiling Moore

Moore's Law

Creative Commons License photo credit: Alice Bartlett

As a child I was often promised, among other things, a future who’s hallmarks were flying cars and holograms. Growing up I was regaled with tales of robots, instant meals, and all manner of things wonderful and fantastic. Furthermore these stories were always suppended with comments in the vein of “…and that is where you will get to make your mark, my boy!”. In those golden days of my youth, no-one expected humanity to try so hard to shoot themselves in the foot.

Moore’s Law stated initially that the number of transistors on a silicon chip would double over a period of two years. Moore himself placed limits on this theory, though the trend outlasted his wildest expectations; the result was a relationship that constantly underwent redefinition as the notion of “technology” evolved. Society had been skeptical in the past, steadfast in their belief’s that this kind of progress was pure fantasy, yet time and time again they were forced to sit slack-jawed in wonder at the latest in computing technology. The wiki article has a great history of the “Law”, and coincidentally one of my favourite blogs has just posted a fantastic article on how things could have turned out differently. What truly baffles the mind, what denies all plausible sensabilities, is how people seem to resent and resist this progress. Right here in Australia, planning is under way for a National Broadband Network that would potentially bring our fine nation into this nascent age of high definition internet access, connecting the entire country to the rest of the world in ways never before thought possible. For those of us isolated on the West Coast, the prospect of such a connection was akin to platform nine-and-three-quarters; a secret realm hidden between fantasy and ecstasy. On the cusp of such a monumental step forward, how does the populace respond?

They complain! They actually make statements like “The internet is fast enough[sic]”.

The argument that faster connections will only lead to greater instances of piracy are so unintelligent that I actually find them offensive. It is reductio ad nauseum to make the connection between faster downloads and the absence of any legitimate use of this extra bandwidth, and I don’t doubt for a second that Godwin is next to take the stage in this inane debate. Making things worse still, the population at large simply has too few sources of reliable and unbiased information from which to make an intellectual opinion. The media feeds this burning ignorance by stoking the flames of fear and mania, publishing and presenting stories designed only to create hyperbole and spread misinformation. It is the unfortunate state of our media monster, that if a news story is outrageous enough, other news sources will report on the first news story, thus creating a vicious cycle of publicity that all too soon spews out falsehoods masquerading as gospel.

I ask you now to imaging this, a near future where the right choices were made. The laying of fibre-optic cabling across the nation allows bandwidths capable of hundreds of Gigabytes per second (Gbps), with a fibre-to-the-home connection allowing a full 1 Gbps connection for each connected device. Using this connection, Television stations are capable of delivering HD Programming in addition to the high speed Internet afforded by the ISP. The cable-based TV station suffer less signal degradation than conventional antenna based transmission, resulting in a more reliable signal uninterrupted by local electromagnetic interferences such as washing machines or microwaves. With the TV stations no longer utilising the radio-wave transmission, this new “Empty Space” in the spectrum can be filled in by conventional wireless transmission currently being restricted to the frequency ranges around 2.4, 3.6 and 5 GHz. This greater freedom allows better signal penetration and less interference; it is now possible to have a single wireless router that will happily fill your house with no dead spots, and more than likely into your neighbours house as well. These freed-up frequencies also allow telecommunications companies greater opportunities in providing wireless broadband services to mobile phones and laptops on the move. The fibre-optic network also gives ISPs the chance to realistically offer competition to the current Telecommunications Conglomerates, driving down service charges and making communication easier and more affordable. The concept of being constantly connected to your family in England, or your children in the United States, is no longer some fantastical dream from a fantasy realm. Information becomes something people are entitled to, and able to access with ease and freedom.

Can you imagine this wonderful future?

Good. Now weep for it.

Panders and the LCD

Who Let the Bears Out?
Creative Commons License photo credit: SARhounds

Before anyone attempts to correct my spelling regarding a Bravia-watching Monochromatic bamboo eater, it’s a pun using homophones. I’m quite proud of this one, bear with me (Get it? Bear? Bah! amateurs). Having seen Hancock last night, and The Dark Knight a couple of days prior, the rusted cogs in my brain were forced to start ticking over in that crude imitation of thought. Before anyone starts firing up the hate; I thought Dark Knight was one of the most amazing films of our generation. However you cannot tell me that the entire audience was beaten around the head with the whole “Sometimes a Hero has to be evil to be good” bullshit one too many times. This is where the imitation of thought comes in, and it is an imitation because there really is nothing left to think about. As if the title of the movie weren’t enough to convey the notion clearly enough, someone thought that the viewer simply wouldn’t understand the overwhelming complexity of the topic unless every lead character in the movie (and several minors) all say the same thing every seven and a half minutes.

Hancock, however, takes it up a notch. The movie seemed to be a series of catchphrases repeated ad nauseum, strung together on the worlds thinnest plot and threaded through the audiences brains with something resembling a cricket bat more than a needle. After the credits began to roll, I honestly could only sit and wonder what exactly just happened. My head was sore and any hopes I had once had for the movie lay impotent around my feet, like the remnants of a spiderweb after a hailstorm. So much potential. What happened to the concept they originally showed us? A fallen superhero, hated by the world for the lackluster style in which he goes about his trade, decides to disappear for a spell leaving the world to quickly succumb to the darkness that is “evil”, only to show up once again to kick ass. Hell, the posters for the movie looked practically Post Apocalyptic! This is where something inside me died and I realised I couldn’t take it anymore.

What the fuck happened to subtlety?!

Stop pandering to the lowest common denominator and bring back the reason we go to a theatre in the first place. I don’t want to see Colin Fucking Firth in “Sometimes You Need To Hurt Someone To Show Them You Really Love Them IV”. The theatre was never a place for redneck hicks and back-alley whores. We gave those guys the Television to hold sway over their simian minds while we enjoyed a more complex palette. The cinema, as an evolution of the live theatre, was somewhere were we could take a situation and explore its nuances over the course of a couple of hours. The audience was given a seed with which they would nurture and cultivate into something that could be quite beautiful. This is sadly no longer the case. Our cinemas are flooded with the kind of pond scum one finds in Cannington on a Thursday night. I tire of having a narrative punctuated with cat-calls and hyena-howls from an audience with the collective cognitive capacity roughly approximate to that of the afformentioned pond scum. The only answer is to deprive them of their low-brow fart jokes and bludgeoning quips on morality. Bring back intelligent cinema and stop pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Also, I hate Brendan Frasier. There, I said it.

Apocalyptic Censorship: Fallout 3

St Michael slaying the dragon
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lawrence OP

For those who missed my earlier explosion of rage, I will quickly sum up the state of play as it stands before moving on. Yesterday it was announced by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) that Fallout 3 would be refused classification in Australia. The lack of an R18+ rating for games in Australia has cost us several titles over the last couple of years. Everyone remembers the outcry when it was found out that GTA IV, a game with an equally rabid fanbase, was refused classification. Now I’m no fan of pointless repetition, and if you want to hear a rant about the inconsistancies in the rating boards idea of what exactly constitutes an R18+ verus an MA15+ game, then Kotaku has a couple of posts with the basic facts laid out for easy consumption. If you want to read poorly worded articles on how this will push users to torrenting games, Shamus may be your man. I will however give you the original leaked paper from the OFLC that states exactly why the game was too heinous for human consumption.

OFLC Fallout 3 Refused Classification OFLC Fallout 3 Refused Classification

What I havn’t seen anyone talk about, however, is just how this effects us as a consumer. I have no doubt that many will simply wait for the revised copy, the censorsed copy, that no longer portrays the gritty feeling the developers set out to convey. Honestly, it is like watching Snatch with a bleep track. The whole ordeal becomes light hearted and fivelous because there is no longer any depth. Yes, I am one of those self professed twats who stands resolute behind the notion of “Games are Art” but I at least like to think I’m one of the more rational breeds. The other half will no doubt torrent the uncensored (International) version, and probably would have regardless for myriad reasons.

However, there are enough of us who actually want to buy this game, be it for moral reasons (not me), or maybe they have an insatiable lust for limited edition boxsets of things (yes, that one is me). Either way, the only avenue here is to import the game from an overseas supplier. The only thing about this, and it is almost always overlooked; Importing an RC rated product of any form is a breach of Federal Law. We are not talking “I download my mp3’s” illegal, either. This is a physical product that must go through a customs check before it reaches you. What is more, breaking this law can result in anything from a $110000 (yes four zeros) fine, to 5 (five) years in Ye Olde Gaol. When you look at it under this light, you suddenly realise the implications of what is happening here. It makes you wonder just how far you are willing to go for a game.

*Edit* I just wrote a letter, and Kotaku is right. The only way this changes is if someone actually says “We are not OK with this”.

Dildogagging Fuckholes!

Dildo
Creative Commons License photo credit: edgeplot

I don’t own a console, so I didn’t kick up a fuss when GTA IV was refused classification due to the lack of an R18+ rating in the Australian Classification Board’s worldview. Already, this sounds like Pastor Martin Niemöller’s too often quoted poem. However, now they really have come for me, or more particularly, the single title of this year that I was looking forward to.

This is not the last I have to say on the matter, mark my words. Mark ’em good… but it is late and I need to cool off.

The Misanthropy Minute (Part II)

GTI broken window
Creative Commons License photo credit: r3v || cls

Ask yourself what would be more frustrating than having your car being broken into, having all your windows smashed and your limited edition cd’s stolen? The very day I finished repairing my windows, which is in itself a costly endevour, I parked my car outside the John De Laeter building at Uni only for it to be broken into yet again!

Like some kind of sadistic ritual of planetary alignment, such is the time of the year for my luck to turn the way of milk in the light of the shining daystar. It is this inexplicable ability to consistantly lock horns with Dame Fortuna that steers the topics of my annual resolution pledges. “This year, I will stay away from large amounts of moving metal, or “This year, I promise to keep the fuck away from lightning!”. Maybe this year I should add an oath to steering cleer of groups of bored/retarded/delinquent children. To combat this, however, I am hatching a plan of pure villany and cunning incarnate. A very simple device, hooked to the switch on my now defunct immoboliser system, connecting the chassis of my car to the car battery itself…