War on music piracy. Yaar!

February 19, 2008

Avast maties! Thar be poi-rats on them thar inter-toobs! Yar-har!

AS THE internet threatens to kill the established music industry, the Rudd Government is considering a three-strikes policy against computer users who download songs illegally.

The Government will examine new legislative proposals being unveiled in Britain this week to target people who download films and music illegally. Internet service providers (ISPs) there might be legally required to take action against users who access pirated

Interesting. I wonder how are they planning to approach it this time?

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A Geologic Fancast

February 13, 2008

Fancast coverartGeorge has very kindly posted the fancast that I mentioned earlier on his regular podcast feed.

My part in the production was very small, with that dynamo of niceness, the lovely CarrieP the main creative force behind it all, and a whole lot of content from a bunch of people with more creativity and skill than you could fit in a telephone booth. A big one.

It might not make much sense unless you are a listener of the Geologic Podcast. So if you’re not then then you should ignore this bloody well subscribe and then download the fancast.

You don’t get off the hook that easily.

linux.conf.au on $0 a day

February 1, 2008

tux.jpg

Linux Conf is back in Melbourne.

I live here and I couldn’t even get within sniffing distance of tickets, so if like me you’re hungry to get your nerd on, they are posting video and slide files on the website as the presentations take place. Yum.

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Some months ago I was lamenting the lack of functionality in my Generation 5.5 iPod that prevented me from adding songs to my “on-the-go” play list while my iPod was playing in shuffle mode.

I have just thought of a simple way around this:

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It’s purty

October 16, 2007

This looks cool, firmware to Upgrade your iPod Video to an iPod Classic (from Lifehacker).

Not fully featured (including cover flow) but an enhancement to split screen cover art display. Nice.

Today I was thinking back to my pre-iPod and (gasp!) pre-DSL life, where I spent a stupid amount of time manually downloading new podcasts and shuffling them between my laptop and puny 256MB MP3 player (good grief, it actually needed batteries). I would then run into real difficulties if I decided that I actually liked a podcast, because it would take about a week to download the backlog of episodes over my crappy dial-up connection (which tended to drop out whenever someone looked at the telephone).

Well, I’ve moved on since then, but I still tend to spend a pretty large proportion of my time plugged into my MP3 player (now a shiny new iPod, thank my dear and fluffy non-existent lord) so I thought I’d go over some of the skeptical and freethinking/atheist podcasts that have crossed my earphones over the years:

Skepticality (Skepticism/Critical Thinking/Monkeys) Well, this was probably the first skeptical podcast I ever came across (and despite what you might hear, the real home of Monkey News). Derek and Swoopy did something new and funny and and it introduced me to luminaries like the Bad Astronomer and James Randi and a community of skepticism and critical thought I hadn’t realized existed. Some people have been critical of a lack of scientific expertise/focus, and I have been a little disappointed lately as the show has become less regular and moved toward a more formal interview format at the expense of the news and nerdy banter and discussion that I used to enjoy, but regardless, Skepticality remains a pioneer in the genre and a staple on my iPod.

The Skeptics Guide To The Universe (Skepticism/Critical Thinking) The SGU is the regular weekly podcast of the New England Skeptical Society (NESS) and is probably the best current example of the skeptical genre. It has great panel discussion, news and interviews all held together and directed by the indefatigable Dr Steven Novella. It is also associated with the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) and the beautiful and brilliant Skepchicks. Hard to go wrong really.

Skeptiod (Skepticism/Critical Thinking) Hosted by Brian Dunning. Similar to the SGU in technical content it’s an excellent, concise and short (around 10 minutes) skeptical podcast with a focus on a single topic each episode.

Point Of Inquiry (Secular Humanism and some Skepticism) The podcast of the Center For Inquiry hosted by D. J. Grothe. It’s credentials and reputation are impeccable and it presents an amazing array of interviewees, but I’m afraid it just doesn’t gel with me. While a lot of people like Grothe’s devils advocate style of interviewing, to me it seems a little disingenuous, and the whole show tends to come across a little like propaganda that’s trying to not sound like propaganda. (Though to be fair, Grothe also tends to side on the Nisbet side of the Atheist Noise Machine debate, so he kind of rubs me the wrong way anyway.) I don’t subscribe, but I grab the odd interview when it looks interesting.

Freethought Radio (Freethought/Atheism) The podcast of a nationally broadcast secular radio show hosted by Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The show has general programming for non-religious listeners with a main focus on separation of church and state issues. It suffers a little from the time constraints of the radio format, but is generally very informative about ongoing church/state issues in the US.

Logically Critical (Skepticism/Critical Thinking) This is a funny one. Each episode has a single theme that is addressed with basic logic, analogy, humor, funny voices and sound effects. The host makes a point of not using statistics or historical information, and thus the show tends to tread a fine line between skepticism and comedy, leaving many listeners divided on whether the podcast is brilliant or fatuous. Either way, his sarcasm and exasperation sometimes sound a lot like the voices in my head, so I tend to rather enjoy it.

The Infidel Guy (Atheism) A pioneer in the Atheist radio genre hosted by Reginald Finley, founder of the Atheist Radio Network. This show has an enormous archive, but unfortunately is a subscription based resource (the above link is to a small selection of free content). There are some amazing interviews available, but I find Finley’s interview technique uneven, especially when debating scientific concepts, and the more recent episodes of the show also tend to suffer from the frequent soliciting for paying subscribers. Like Point Of Inquiry I don’t subscribe, but tend to grab individual shows if they look interesting.

The Geologic Podcast (Skepticism/Atheism/Music/Theatre/Funny Har Har) I originally came across George Hrab via Skepticality, but I only just discovered that he also had a podcast. It’s brilliant, funny, smart (and often NSFW) with excellent production values. (I wasn’t super impressed by the first episode, but it turned out to be a recording from a radio show he used to do. Episode 2 onwards is the podcast proper.) Anyone who likes Monty Python as much as he does is my kind of people.

Well, that’s me. Anybody have any other suggestions?

iPod frustration

September 11, 2007

When I’m at work I usually have my iPod on shuffle, and I’d like to be able to select songs that are playing to add to the (allegedly) “on-the-go” play list. In an admittedly uncharacteristic gap in product usability, this doesn’t seem to be supported.

Does Apple assume that people would rather plan out their on-the-go playlist in advance and then tortuously navigate thorough the iPod interface to put it together? Or is there some super easy way of accomplishing this that I just didn’t figure out because I don’t have the Apple mindset?