My Current Mood in a Picture

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Technology Madness

More proof that Facebook is bad news. Be vigilant against social networking sites run by corporations!

A Microsoft bungle. Nuff said.

*WARNING: Lengthy Rant about Internet and Gadgets Ahead... Yuppies and Snobs be Warned!!!*

This article got me thinking. For a lot of people, the only reason why people download files illegally is because they are not available for legal download. This is mostly due to traditionalist media clinging onto old forms of distribution. Because the Internet offers things in a matter of seconds or hours depending on how big the file is, it's a lot faster to download something than to wait for it to come out in Australia, which has often been a victim of the tyranny of distance, our isolation means that neither imports or exports can be released quickly. Also, postal schedules are horrific if you order a book off, meaning you have to wait weeks to obtain your order. And with the development of E-Book readers, I predict that in the future, printed books will become like CDs or Records, people will still buy them, however the portability of new E-Book readers will make E-Books take off like MP3s, especially if colour display E-Book readers are developed at an affordable price with high compatibility with most file formats. I prefer the Cybook to the Kindle because Cybook supports PDF, the leading format of E-Books, and Kindle does not, as it has DRM and Amazon forces Kindle users to buy E-Books from their service, oppressing the consumer in the name of corporate greed. In the future, we may well be technologically enslaved by corporate brand names into buying things from inconvenient services, but I say we should fight such enslavement before it begins. Even the Ipod lets you upload your own CDs onto it. Kindle should support PDF in the same way, as it is a very nice file format that has almost become a universal standard in online bookshops. We should demand a better technology at a cheaper price, instead of being conned by gadget companies into buying expensive paperweights that will become obsolete because of a new release from the same company months later. Non-ecologically sustained economics will be the downfall of humanity if we do not act now. Consumers that suckle on the teat of instant gratification from new release technology that cashed up yuppies buy and brag about and generally stick up their noses at those less wealthy as them, must be weaned.

I am not a cashed up yuppie who can just go out and buy the latest gadget. Often I must wait years until I can afford one new gadget for Christmas. I had to wait years until I was permitted to have an iPod Nano for Christmas last year, and you know what happened? Now Apple have released an even better version than my Ipod Nano that I can't afford, but I am content with my humble 2 Gig iPod Nano. It is the fact that I own it at all that is a privilege. It was either a 2 Gig one or no iPod Nano at all, for that was all my family could afford. My brother bought one with a higher Gig limit, but then again, he always tends to con my parents into giving him the snazzier gadgets. Not that I mind. He shares, at least.

So I might not have the latest gadget, or the latest phone... So what! I barely use my mobile phone except for emergencies, and my iPod Nano is well loved, because I earned it. I take care of it instead of casting it aside and demanding an upgrade. I do this because I do not buy gadgets I know I will not use. I simply can't afford to make a mistake with a gadget purchase. Books, DVDs and CDs are products I consume more, and thus I buy them more often, as I know I will use them. My brother sometimes shakes his head at the number of books I buy and read, however I do not feel guilty about my purchases, at least most of the time. This is because I save up money of my own, and I have a right to spend it. And I spend it widely, as well as wisely.

The problem with gadgets sometimes is that a corporation like Apple rises up and becomes so popular that you are looked down on for not having their latest product. And sometimes you almost agree with them, that is the sad truth of brand propaganda. Even the most popular brand may not be the best product. I have had friends who wanted their iPods repaired, and the Apple stores refused. This is because of the Huxleyan "Ending is better than mending" consumerist mantra of our Brave New Digital World. It serves a company's interest to create a product that will break down, even if it costs a lot, it will not necessarily last long. The point of this is so that you are forced to buy a new product.

I believe in quality products, and the iPod Nanos I have found to be better design and far more long lasting than the larger iPods, mine has survived a lot, whereas brand new 60 Gig iPods have broken in days. I am certain that this problem is not unique to Apple, the X-Box 360 had flaws and the Playstation 3 no longer sells consoles that play both PS3 and PS2 games. Always remember that brand loyalty is not wisdom, it is blindness. A consumer who considers their purchases and opts for the best products, not buying them as soon as they come out, but waiting until they become better designed / cheaper, is one who enjoys the most use and life out of their gadgets.

I honestly do not care if people say that I am a supporter of inferior products for my support of products I think are superior, at least for my personal use and simplicity in operation. I also use my gadgets until the day they die, keeping my Nintendo 64 that still works and playing my Game Boy and Game Boy Advanced games when I can get the time.

Technology was meant to make our lives easier. Instead brand gadgets have made life harder, as social stigma for thinking outside branding has created a society of drones who only listen to Our Ford who tells them that they need the latest phone that's also an internet viewer which you have to pay to use. I remember when Phones were simple things used for communication purposes only. If I wanted to play games I had a Game Boy Advanced to do that, and I took care of the gaming consoles of my youth, enabling my children to enjoy them if they last into my middle age.

It doesn't have to be this way. My support for the iPod Nano comes from its usability, rather than its brand focus. I shall not be buying another iPod, because of Apple's constant rereleasing of a new version of it. Instead I will look into other options if the unthinkable happens and my gadget shakes off its mortal coil.

My brother once gave a Viking funeral to his broken record player. I think gadgets must be used to the end, they may not be trendy in the future, but use your old gadgets until their circuits fry. Better a gadget dies with honour, fulfilling its duty, than to be tossed aside like a rake discard lovers when he has found them boring, which is an insult to the product that once brought joy and ease to a formerly complicated Luddite life. Not that the Digital age is any simpler. We have merely exchanged physical exhaustion for mental exhaustion in our embrace of the computer generation.

I will be posting more about technology later on, but for now, I bid you goodbye, for I need to study. I have a HSC to do.

- Jacob Martin,
AKA TeenAuthor

Friday, November 23, 2007

The 2007 Federal Election (And why I'll turn Punk if Howard wins it)

It's Election time again, and I'm on the edge of my seat (pun intended).

I consider myself no longer a Labour exclusive voter, I have now realised that the only reason why I would vote for Kevin Rudd, is because I am tired of John Howard. However, I would be so peturbed by a John Howard victory, that I would seriously be shaken to the core about my faith in Australian democracy. I support a free society in Australia, and instead of being a Party Bore I have now become aware of my lack of subscription to any one political party. I'll even vote for The Greens if they have a good grounding in environmental policies that Liberal and Labour seem to be slacking off on.

Why am I not voting today? It's simple. I'm not yet 18 years of age, the milestone where a male becomes not a boy, but a Man. I already consider myself a Man in my own eyes, yet my society's structure says that I am not capable of making an informed political decision until I am 18. I say that's bollocks.

What disturbs me even more is that because I can't vote today, I can't have my say and express my views. And the fact that many people my age are not interested in voting at all. A lack of interest in the politics that run your country leads to a slumber of judgement, allowing tyrants to rule over you like despots. Voting solves this problem, in theory, because a democratic election allows for a change of government. Trouble is, if too many people disagree with you, because the majority rules, your choice of government may not be someone else's.

This causes, in the Australian system, to vote in a government for periods longer than it is safer to have them. A new system, where each Prime Minister had a limited number of terms in power, would solve this, instead of forcing Australia to live under one lackluster PM like John Howard for eleven years or more. A lack of change in government results in a lack of change in new policies, and Prime Ministers that hold onto power for the sake of it, as well as not changing Australia for the better. The problem arises: Australians are comfy with one PM constantly in office, and do not care about the effects it has on people who are not big business owners. WorkChoices, that Orwellian double-speak for lowering wages and increasing working hours, does not provide choice for employees at all, and Karl Marx, if he were alive today, would decry such an exploitation of the working class. However, Communism wasn't that good an alternative either, because that system was just as oppressive as the old one. So what do we do?

I honestly will not know until every last vote is counted tonight. And as I have told my mother, if John Howard gets in power again, I will be going Punk. I will not be a violent terrorist, but an example of the friendlier face of Anarchy, peacefully protesting by taking a CD Player with batteries in it to blare my The Clash Singles album at the City, and hopefully, that will wake up Australians from what Paul Keating described the Menzies government as: The Rip Van Winkle Years, a term that equally describes John Howard's geezer aristocracy.

I will be going to pick up my brother from the airport now, as he is returning from Schoolies Week, and I will greet him warmly. John Howard will not be getting so warm a greeting from me if he wins, instead he will be the enemy of my penstroke, which is mightier than the sword...

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

My First Royalty Check (and an Internet discussion)

I got $8.98 Australian for my first Royalty Check. Not much, in Author Superstar terms, but this reflects that I currently have people interested in my work.

This also reflects that although some may frown on Lulu Authors as unprofessional, because I have been paid for my efforts, no matter how small the payment, it is my first foray into professional writing.

Will Self and his ilk can cram it for all I care. Money talks, and intellectual snobbery doesn't even walk, it just sits at its armchair and complains about how people who are using the New Media of the Internet to make a name for themselves are encouraging supposed mediocrity.

I also recieved encouragement from friends and internet forum buddies that showed me that the Internet can be more than just an ideological battleground, it is a wild land, not so much a jungle of mediocrity, but an untamed, digital intellectual biosphere, that like the real environment in the physical world, must not be destroyed by Internet trolls and those who merely use it to rant and rave their own ideas with violently verbal arguments. If the internet is to become "civilised", we must not make the mistakes of the British and Roman Empires of colonialism, and the noble savages of the Internet, those who started it as a peaceful Eden of the expression of thought and forum of peaceful discussion, must not be murdered and have their land taken from them. In order to make the Internet a better place, we must work together with the traditional medias and the Netizens of the world, for a better Information Highway, a well build road of trade, safe travel, and the lack of constant attack, quite unlike the marauder infested road more akin to the Mad Max movies than the safe Information Highway it once was.

I dislike "Writer's Group" forums, as these groups often attack Lulu and Self-published Authors and claim that they are not Authors at all. I have experienced much backlash for arguing with rigid traditionalists, quite unlike the peaceful traditional-press published Authors who have given me a good deal of support on other forums that have more merit to them. I could address the bias against Fantasy Authors that occurs on the Internet and elsewhere, however that is a whole 'nother discussion altogether. I long have since abandoned MySpace, since it was bought by that media mogul Rupert Murdoch, as I dislike major corporations taking over websites that were once for the people, and not concerned with corporate profit. I have boycotted Facebook, because I have read several articles about unreasonable collection of personal data that goes on there, that you can find in the Sydney Morning Herald Archives. I also have boycotted Facebook because although it provides a useful service of connecting with old school friends, it comes at the price of your privacy. Which is why I consider Blogger to be my chief outlet of my web presence, as well as the fabulously intriguing new web-cataloging site, which does not collect personal information for the purpose of selling it, it is entirely a benevolent entity that is for the sole purpose of booklovers and a love of literature and the Arts in general. And I dearly hope and expect that it stays that way.

MySpace was an entirely useless waste of exhibitionist drivel that used the fixation of celebrity (and now, Web-Celebrity) to exploit the egos of the masses who wanted their 15 minutes of fame, and most never got it. Not only that, but the friend adding system was incredibly annoying, you add one band that you like, and then every band on the damned site wanted your "friendship", even though they barely knew you, and had no interest in you other than to use you to spread the word about their music, whether they be talented or not, to others. And then there was the fixation of MySpacers who had committed suicide and posted their suicide notes on their MySpaces for the world to see. Suicide is a tragedy in itself, and ever since Romeo and Juliet, The Sorrows of Young Werther, and even Ozzy Osbourne's song Suicide Solution, a cult of the suicide has been established, and the Internet has been used to express sorrow in a way that the shy and powerless felt comfortable using. In Japan, suicide has its own chat groups on the web. But that has as much to do with the suicide culture of Bushido, or "death before dishonour", as the Internet being a place that influences the young and depressed. MySpace became a phenomenon where the cult of self-destruction came to the West, and copycat MySpace suicides appeared in varying frequency, reported in newspapers that used the shock and horror of teenage suicide to shamelessly exploit the fears of parents to not only sell papers, but to market fear, causing parents to restrict Internet use of teenagers.

The appeal of MySpace and Facebook was that young people would have a place of their own, not having parents over their shoulders when they expressed themselves, but I have heard horror stories of paedophiles stalking MySpacers, and bosses checking employee's MySpace and Facebook activities to judge their suitability to work for them. What the young and ignorant did not realise is that the Internet is a place where the whole world is watching you, for good or ill. I place myself under significant risk by posting this very message, as some of you may think I am a ranting teenager with no idea about the subject I speak of.

But here is my somewhat uplifting conclusion:

Hopefully as technology changes, it will change for the better. But every web surfer must take account of the waves in the digital sea, and make sure they are not caught in the riptides of self-oriented Egocentrism. The Internet is bigger than everybody, that's a fact. It's all our digital world, we just live in it.

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And we're back... with a Debate Vengeance!

I do not need to apologise to my readers for being away for so long, I have a HSC to do, you know, and I've got a ton of work that needs completing.

Instead of going into my emotionally wrecked state resulting from a new school term after all my Year 12 buddies my age have gone onto their own careers, while I'm still stuck in the Board of Studies education system due to the Pathways Program, I'll present you with something I call an open debate. Send your comments and we can try and come to a conclusion about a matter that concerns us all... well, most of us have bought a CD once in their life if they're under ten years old, right?

I have taken to stocking up on albums that I consider worthy of my shelf. Gone are the days when one can afford to build a massive rare record collection like my brother's, as they don't make records no more, sonny! (Well, they do make records, but they're all digitally remastered and have no soul like the vinyl of old did.)

In my youth, I had terrible taste in music. I confess to owning an original "Hampsterdance: The Album" CD first pressing. Back when I was around twelve to thirteen, I tended to get "compilation CDs" of various artist's pop chart hits, even if there was only a few songs worth listening to them on them, that was how shameless I was in my consumerism of trashy pop music. Then I got older, and I mooched music off my brother for a while, storing it when I copied it off his albums onto my portable 30 GIG hard drive. But then it got full, after many years of use. I still use it, and it still works. My logic works like this: If I just want a few tracks, I can mooch it off my brother's CDs, but if I like an album, and I REALLY like it, I'll buy it on CD for my personal collection. (That reminds me, my brother never did give me back my BeeGees "Number Ones" album...)

But hang on, now there's MP3s I can download. Trouble is, even if I did download songs, legally or illegally, if legally, I would forever be annoyed by iTunes suggesting new songs that "other people" who bought the same stuff downloaded, plus iTunes songs don't work on other MP3 players, because Apple is no longer the cheerful alternative to Microsoft it once was, now because of the iPod success, it will find ways to make sure you buy iPods without a second thought. If illegally, Google tracks my searches to "help me". Now I've said some bad things about Google before, but their new privacy policy and options to not have your information sold, has redeemed this corporation in my eyes. What you'll also notice in their Privacy Policy when you sign up for Google Reader or something like that, is that they comply with legitimate search warrants and law courts. Which, in essence, means that if you're a paedophile searching child porn on Google, or, on topic, if you download songs illegally by finding a search engine using Google to locate it for your pirating activities, you're screwed if Google decide that the courts or police need your searching information.

CDs, on the other hand, even "Best Of" collections, which are worth less than actual albums, will generally provide you with a hard copy of an album or a collection of songs which is reliable for use in a good, non-spin CD Player Stereo system. What's also good about CDs is that you can upload your songs from them into your iPod or any other MP3 player without any hassle usually.

Trouble is, with CDs, they can scratch, or break, or warp in the sun, or wear out from overuse. As my Mum discovered, they can also get stuck in some CD players by accident, forcing you to listen to "The Best of Mozart" over and over again on that player. That is why backing them up as MP3s is a good idea, for personal use only and not to distribute like a hooligan on the web.

The other good thing about CDs, is that you actually feel the satisfaction of owning something you can physically hold in its case. This nice touch of CDs on a shelf may not be as impressive as records were, but their compact size allows you to keep them on a shelf space in large numbers.

Another downside of CDs is that sometimes they cost too much for new release albums. However, such is the state of modern pop music that you're actually better off buying classic (and cheaper) albums, since although there is the odd post-2000 album that really resonates with the soul, most of them are commercially manufactured drivel if they're Top 40 chart albums. There is a solution to this, there are a few shops in Sydney near where I go to school in the City that sell CDs cheaper than usual, like JB Hi-Fi, Rock Bottom CDs and the rest.

Now I'm not dissing MP3s, it's just that the legal download services like iTunes have somewhat limited archives of music, and it's hard to find some obscure artists there. CDs on the other hand, deliver a wide variety of musicians. Yet sometimes CDs of the artist you are looking for are far and few, or are not even available. That is where MP3 wins in its ability to be collected in an archive easier, unable to be destroyed by mildew or weather conditions.

In closing, I have no other things to say. The rest is up to you to argue.

- Jacob Martin