Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

5 November, 2012

Musings on Piracy. I Mean, Arrrr.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’m fairly certain there is a name for the phenomenon that the easier way wins out, that the concept is formulated in a law named after some clever word-smith who managed to relate the path of least resistance to consumer activities. I’ almost completely positive that there is such a named law when it comes to user interfaces for computers, that states that a better interface is the one that requires the least number of actions. For all my googling, though, I can’t find these names, so I shall have to proceed without them.

The point is, consumers will do what is easiest. We’ve heard this in the debate about piracy for some time, and it is obviously true, but the legitimate content providers are very, very reticent about being the ones providing the easiest path. In my youth, I downloaded shows I wanted to watch, because they weren’t on TV where I lived, and I really wanted to watch them anyway. There was no way to get them legally, so I downloaded. Arr, me hearties, etc.

I stopped that after a letter from MGM scared me straight.

Anyway, that’s years ago, but the situation today isn’t all that different. There’s loads of good TV being made, and not much of it makes its way to channels near me – or if they do, they do so months or even years after original airing. Being fickle consumers seeking instant gratification, the pirates are there to fill the gap. I manage to stay on the right side of the law while still getting to see the shows I want – it’s all technicalities. Morally, what I do is no different from piracy, I know, but legally, I’m in the clear. And I do it, because pirates successfully deliver the content in the easy way that the legitimate content providers won’t. It’s not a matter of wanting it for free; even in my downloading days I would go out and buy the DVDs as soon as they were available. It is about ease of access. I have always maintained that I would prefer the completely legitimate way. People in the US have it easier there, with services like Hulu and Netflix.

But now, see, Netflix has launched in Norway! My legitimate path is open to me!

And it’s still shit.

Well, OK, not completely. Netflix Norway has a very limited selection of shows and titles, and most of them are at least a couple of years old. They have shows that are currently airing, but only let you watch up until a couple of seasons ago. I assume this is because the industry is still locked in the model of thinking that gave us the utterly moronic zone system on DVDs – they want to control when people in various regions get to watch their stuff. And never mind that with current technology, they can’t.

I do sort of sympathise with the problem here. I imagine the profits from sales of airing rights to various markets are significant when it comes to making TV. And I don’t want TV production stifled by lack of funds. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but the Internet has so globalised communication that the model just doesn’t work any more.

So, Netflix Norway has poor selection, and I can only get it to work in (gag) Internet Explorer, and it only has Norwegian subtitles with uninspired language. It’s a step in the right direction, at least. I’ve spent the past couple of days diving into some older shows I might not have bothered with had they not been all that was on offer. Andromeda isn’t bad, it turns out. Presumably the selection will expand in the future, but until I can actually watch the latest episode of Modern Family as soon as it’s aired in the US, it won’t hold a candle to the pirates.

And isn’t that just a sad state of affairs.

21 June, 2012

I want a pad

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’ve recently started wanting a tablet. No, that’s a lie, I’ve wanted an iPad pretty much since they came out. The thing is, though, even though I am sent into fits of “ooooh, shiny!” and would really love to have a toy like that, I have not been able to justify to myself the expense of one. I want an iPad, but I don’t need one. I have a computer, I have a phone, I am already drowning in the conveniences of the modern West (so, yeah, when I say “need” I don’t really mean “need”, you know). A tablet on top of that would just be gilding the lily, getting something for no good reason but to play with it. And I don’t mind that in most cases, really, because I am a filthy wasteful materialist, but in this case the price tag is too high.

The last couple of days I have started to reconsider, though. Maybe I do need one. I’ve been sitting at work, bored out of my mind for long stretches of time when there are no tourists to mind (oh, as an aside, I recently started working as a tourist guard. Long, tiring hours, many of them empty). If I had my laptop, I would think to myself, I could do something useful with this time! This completely disregards the reality which is that if I had my laptop, I would be wasting lots of time. It’s all moot anyway, since my laptop is actually kind of big and clunky and not suited for taking anywhere nice.

A tablet, though, that might work. I’d need one with a keyboard, since I like typing at things, and would want to do some writing while I sat there. A tablet would also be a pretty good thing to have when I am going on my ill-advised trip to Crete this summer. Can’t bring my laptop there.

Do I have room in my budget? Would it get delivered fast? The answers to both are probably no. But I have gotten so far as to look at options. It need not be an iPad – in fact, I understand those don’t have the greatest keyboard solutions. I don’t know enough to make an informed decision, and I don’t feel like investing a lot of energy into learning about the field. The Asus Transformer Prime looks neat, and has a pretty awesome name, should I go for one of those?

I don’t know what sort of point I’m building towards here. Maybe the lesson learned is that my desire for shiny toys will always overpower my better judgement in the end. I’d ask for tablet recommendations, but who’s to say I would even read them. I am liable to just walk into a store and ask them for advice, even though I know how bad an idea that is.

Actually, it would be very feasible to go by the Apple store after work tomorrow…

No, I’m going to stop now and go to sleep before I end up talking myself into something stupid. Good night all.

22 March, 2012

A Sigh at Close of Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Oh why, oh why, do error’s missives fly
To plague my screen, all brooding, bleak and dour?
Why must I simply watch the signal die?
I’ve fiddled with the settings for an hour!
Perhaps the mystic box of light’s to blame,
Whence fly the aether’s waves throughout my home?
Or even further, from where first  they came,
The error lies, obscured in hostile gloam?
I’ve run the tests, done all that you propose;
At every turn, a new hope dies, all broken.
Though I’ve been patient, now despair o’erflows;
My sorrow can no longer go unspoken:
I’ve put up with your every little quirk.
Why won’t the friggin’ Internet just work?!

8 March, 2012

Luddism Vindicated

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

As I believe I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of George R.R. Martin’s book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. In that same mention, I said that I also enjoyed the HBO adaptation of those books, Game of Thrones. The second season starts in April, and I am all a-jitter with excitement for it, but what concerns me right now is the first season, which has just been released on DVD and blu-ray.

Now, I knew damn well that I’d end up getting this anyway, so I saw no reason to wait. Since I am currently suffering a bad cold, I thought I’d buy the set and spend the evening vegetating in front of the screen consuming commentaries and extra features. The question was: DVD or blu-ray?

Up until now, I have stuck with DVDs. My old DVD player still functions, my laptop has a DVD and no blu-ray drive, and it’s not like I have a TV that shows high definition anyway. In this case, however, I thought it might be time to take the first step into the future everybody else seems to have joined three years ago. The blu-ray set had more extra content than the DVD, people who notice such things say the image quality is markedly better on the blu-ray, and the price difference between the two was only 40 kroner (presently about 7 US dollars, or 5 euros, or 54 rand). Although I have no blu-ray player myself, there is a Playstation 3 in this apartment, which I understand can quite adequately perform the function.

So, overcoming my Luddite instincts, I strode boldly into the technological present, purchased the kind of disappointingly slim box and marched home through the wind and rain, coughing all the way, imagining the fun to come.

Unfortunately, the TV in this apartment remains steadfastly in the technological past.

Now, I’m not a complete idiot, I knew I wasn’t going to get the full HD blu-ray experience on an old SDTV, but I figured I’d at least get the same level as I get from DVDs. And indeed, my googling these past thirty minutes support me in this notion, but the actual experience says otherwise. The disc played, all right, but it played in black and white, all colour drained from it.

I’m not sure where the fault is here. This is a localized edition of the box, so I assume any NTSC/PAL-discrepancies have already been sorted. The Playstation menu displays colour normally; until the actual disk is activated, there’s no problem at all. The various wires and cables are all thoroughly plugged in, I have made sure of that, at least. I’ve fiddled around with various settings, and tried to adjust every variable I found, but to no avail, there’s just simply no colour.

Guess I should have gone with Casablanca.

I suspect the problem lies somewhere in the Playstation, as I dragged out my own little TV from its storage and tested that with the same result, but in truth it could as easily be a problem the two TVs share; neither of them are exactly fresh off the conveyor belt. I’d have to try with a different player to be sure, and I don’t, as previously mentioned, have one.

So do I regret getting the blu-ray over the DVD?  No, not really. All my reasons for going with it still stand, and in the long-term I think it will work out. Sooner or later I’ll end up buying an actual player for the darned things, and at some point after that I’ll probably own a TV of a more recent make, and live happily until the format changes again.

But it did spoil my plans for the evening.

2 February, 2012

I Am Not a Computer Guy: Technicalities

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

So far, the image of me presented here has been one of a hopeless Luddite, and I feel I should try to shake that off ever so slightly. I am actually kind of a fan of technology. I think gadgets are cool, like bow ties. Liking technology isn’t the same as knowing technology, a distinction I think I ought to make right away; I am only computer savvy when compared to my parents. On the Izzard technology spectrum, I am much closer to joy than to fear, though I do occasionally consult manuals. Sure, my desktop computer is currently not actually working, but I’m sure that wasn’t really my fault!

As a kid, I experimented a bit, learning very basic html, which I suppose has stayed with me. I’ve kept that up, and learned equally basic css, but never enough to be really good at it. I’m the kind of guy who knows just enough to be dangerous – I know how to go in and change things until it’s all messed up.

I’ve gotten better at balancing on that edge, though. With sufficient instructions, I’ve managed to make this blog look more or less how I want it, even though it required some messing about in code to do it. I managed to get the blockquote, seen in use in the previous post, to look good, at any rate. For the most part, though, I was happy to let the theme and WordPress do most of the work for me.

WordPress has changed a bit since the last time I tried blogging, gotten quite a bit more advanced. There’s all sorts of nifty new features I want to play with – like the whole widget set-up. So much simpler than fiddling about in codes. The standard set is fairly simple, but I think there are plenty of plugins providing extra functionality, and I am greatly looking forwards to experimenting with them and I have just become the Luddite lurching parodically into the present again, haven’t I?

Well, never mind. I still find the whole thing cool. I bet there are loads of interesting features I haven’t even found yet, and good uses for the ones I have found which I haven’t figured out yet. Even if I do share Patrick Rothfuss’s vague disappointment in the Omega button.

Beyond the world of websites, I am, as I said, fond of gadgets. My enthusiasm for my new phone a few posts back should prove that. I don’t have an iPad or some other kind of tablet, but it is mainly because I cannot justify the expense compared to the need. I already have a phone and a laptop, and unless they both break at the same time, I doubt I’ll get a tablet. Unless I win one. But give me a gadget, and I will find it cool.

So there, I am not opposed to technology. Not all of it anyway. I have techno joy. Now, if I could just find a twitter widget that filtered out replies, I would be all set.

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