My Current Mood in a Picture

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year, New Look

I decided to take a look at what different styles of template I could use for this blog after the inspiration came from a visit to IKEA. Hardly considered the height of good taste, but much maligned, IKEA has been loved for its cheap prices and functionality while loathed by traditional furniture fans.

Yesterday I went to IKEA and looked around for stuff I need for my party on Friday. I can't tell you where the said party is going to be, since I fear and dread gatecrashers. The guests who are invited are rowdy enough for my taste, thank you very much. What I can tell you is that my parents found these lovely green stools for around $6 in Australian money, and that could well solve my dilemma of how to seat twenty people, maybe a bit more even.

There's a lot to be said for IKEA, like ABBA, it's one of the best, and worst, things that ever did arrive from Sweden. You either love it, hate it, or simply use it for its cheap and affordable furniture. I really should take a camera to IKEA one day and post some pictures of what I see in there that I like.

But solutions for modern living aside, what I did yesterday, being New Year's Eve, was watching the fireworks from Chiswick with my family, and playing Scrabble in an excruciatingly dull game since both my father and myself were too tired and, as it were, lost for words (pun definitely intended) to the extent that we packed up the game in twenty minutes and watched the music videos on the VH1 Music Video No. 1's Countdown, because there was nothing else on really.

The other thing I did yesterday was shop for my birthday present, as my birthday was within four days of arrival. Sadly, when I went to EB Games at Rhodes Shopping Center, I discovered that although boxes of DS Lites with price tags on them were on the shelves, they were empty, and the rude and bitchy shopkeep woman told my mother and I that they were sold out. Not only that, but that they increased the price from the Christmas sales price of $189 to $200 that very day, and even though we had seen it cheaper in another EB Games shop, in which case the store guarantee promised to reduce the cost, she wasn't going to help us, nor was she going to tell us precisely when the new stock would come in.

Thus one of my New Year's resolutions is not to shop at EB Games unless they have something I need that nowhere else has, because JB Hi-Fi has a better range of games stuff at much cheaper prices. EB has significantly fallen from what it was, a friendly games and console seller to a greedy corporate chain store. This is why I more often shop for games at JB Hi-Fi instead, because people who work at JB actually like helping you.

However, there is hope. There was a Dick Smith Electronics shop at Rhodes, which was being operated by a very nice Muslim woman with glasses. She not only gave a much better impression than the EB servicewoman did, but she was a premium example of how helpful and friendly Muslims can be. Trust me, I want a DS Lite so bad, even if my acceptance of other cultures wasn't as tolerant as I am already, give me any serviceperson in an electronics shop of ANY faith, and I would accept their help in getting one of those little handhelds on my birthday, I would accept assistance from a Mormon or a Krishna-follower if I had to, despite my experience of some of them being pushy for donations/conversions!

The nice Muslim lady helped me order a DS Lite and took my phone number on a notepad in order for her to contact me when it arrives. I am exceedingly grateful for this. Such people deserve to be given raises/Employee of the Month awards/Medals for service, and they definitely need to be given respect by those of different cultures anyway, even if they really can't help you (but they try to). Never underestimate a foreign shopkeeper, as behind the cultural differences lie cultural strengths, such as hospitality and good manners.

- Jacob Martin
AKA "Jake of All Trades"

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Trawling my CD Collection Part 1

I have a few CDs I bought recently, and I will review them for your blog-reading pleasure as I go along.

The theme of today's reviews is "Angry Young Man Music". This is a generally misunderstood field of music, since many, after the dawn of Emo music, have lost the true meaning of what it means to be a young man who is angry, now thinking it means not having enough money for an iPod, or being dumped by your girlfriend for being a whiney bitch who is hardly a man at all. Usually a Young Man, who may or may not be angry, buys or downloads music albums for their ability to inspire awe, wonder, and understanding in their souls. Or they like it because they like loud music that bugs their parents.

The first CD I will review is Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.

This album is one of the chief discoveries of my youth. Not only is it loud, and angry, but it has an actual heart to it. Johnny Rotten doesn't tell you why he's angry, he yells it at you, attacking British sentimentalism and nostalgia in the face of conservative government. From "Holidays in the Sun" to "God Save the Queen" to "Anarchy in the U.K.", it is a solid album of Punk era classics. One of the tracks, "Bodies", is a song about abortions that is sure to offend everyone, and contains at least three "F-words". This should not mean you should turn down the volume for this track, for what is the point of The Sex Pistols if you can't play them loud on your stereo? Loud playing is not recommended on iPods, because you'll make yourself deaf. I give this album Ten "Unplugged Sid Vicious Bass Guitars" out of Ten.

WHY IT'S GOOD: This is the ultimate Punk album, alongside The Clash's London Calling record, it's one you have to own if you're an angry young man who wants to experience the Punk phenomenon first-hand. It's way better than this new "Emo" crap that claims to be Punk, and is best enjoyed played on a stereo cranked to 11.

The second album in this series of reviews is Nirvana's Nevermind, an album from the early 1990s that truly fits the "Angry Young Man" criteria.

Nevermind, unlike The Sex Pistols's "Never Mind the Bollocks", is an album less about anarchy and more about the collective unrest in a generation's spirits, hence, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the opening track that made Kurt Cobain a star. The album cover is probably more famous than the music on the actual album nowadays, but the music should not be ignored. Can't understand the lyrics? Few people could. The point was more about the feelings that the music evokes rather than the lyrics, which are more an accessory to Nirvana's grunge sound. This album's worth as music has been debated from everybody from established music critics to blokes like my twin brother, who probably only hates it because I like it, however, its endurance as an album cannot be ignored in influence. This album also contains tracks like "Lithium", "In Bloom" and "Something in the Way" (Something in the Way contains a hidden track after a long period of silence on some CD pressings, called "Endless, Nameless", which is definitely meant to be played loud), which genuinely express Cobain's inner torment and angry young man cred. I give it 8 "Swimming Babies" out of 10, I take away two points for the commercial exploitation of Kurt Cobain that this album led to.

* * * * *

Well, that's the first part of "Trawling my CD Collection", which hopefully turns out to be an enjoyable and enlightening series of reviews about CDs I own. Next time, we explore "Muse: What Is the Big Deal?", as I review two albums by the band Muse, which brought the band in question significant scorn and acclaim in mixed baskets.

- Jacob Martin
AKA "Jake of All Trades"

The Blogger's Code

Try this link:

This O'Reilly seems to be friendlier and aiming for a better cause than the OTHER O'Reilly... you know, the Fox News one!

As a blogger, this will affect me, but how do I factor in all these rules without careful analysis of the proposed rules?

There really is a need to support civil and polite blogging, yet what I've noticed is the popular ones, like Maddox's blog, maintain interest by throwing politeness out the window.

An ethical code of blogging is good for maintaining factual content, but a simple message that warns people that some viewpoints may offend people would do a better job at making sure people find appropriate content. I am not calling for censorship, what the classification system has done for movies is, however limiting it is for what younger people can see and the general stigma of certain ratings, it does on many occasions give a good idea of the content within the film itself, and the positive aspect of a classification system is that of a way to decide, instead of netfilters censoring artwork blogs with accusations of nudity when the blog is merely presenting the human form (in my experience my school's filter system used to block much needed websites for the study of artists because of nudity that was justified by the idea behind the artwork in most cases).

But an ethical code of blogging could well be, if constructed with thought and reason, not a tool of repression and censorship, but an electronic era code of ethics that would guide bloggers into making the right choices in their content and manner.

More needs to be looked into though, there's a whole bunch of dense material to sift through in order to gain anything from it. A simpler, layman's code would be more effective in the long term, as bloggers have notoriously short attention spans (it takes one to know one) and even non-bloggers thinking of starting up a blog would be helped with a simpler code for use in their blogging activity.

I will bookmark this code immediately!

Friday, December 28, 2007

My birthday is coming soon...

And I'll be 18 years old. *Gasp*

After already completing a New Years Resolution before 2007 is even finished (completing reading a book I've been meaning to finish reading months ago), I have to put things in perspective. First of all, I'll need to pick the one beer I'm allowed to drink on my birthday (Drinking alcohol is legal at age 18, but I do not intend to use this occasion as an excuse for debauchery). In Australia, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to beers, and I am puzzled at which one I would possibly pick. Heineken or something like that would do, but what if I want something exotic?

Also, I need to plan my party. Which is Disco Themed thanks to my strange twin brother who listens to old music constantly. What am I going to wear?

And what of my birthday present? I have concluded that I want a Nintendo DS Lite for my present, however I am not 100% sure my parents have been convinced that I need one. However, I believe that since I have shown them one of the games I got for Christmas, "Brain Training", they have taken the bait. My father is also interested in using the planned DS Lite to play "Brain Training", so I think I've convinced him now.

What will I do on my birthday? Probably clean up the house for the party, and generally veg out in front of the TV. In any case it should be a good event.

- Jacob Martin
AKA "Jake of All Trades"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I played a Wii on Christmas Day

But it wasn't mine, I'm sad to say. (Hey, that rhymes)

Wii Sports is one of the most innovative videogames I've seen in a long time. And I've seen a lot of videogames in my time... this one actually tires you out. You need to be fit to play Wii Boxing, and Wii Tennis, as well as be prepared to have your concentration and coordination at their peaks for Wii Bowling.

Unlike other videogame systems, Wii actually gives you the weariness of the character on screen, (or at least the weariness that your character would feel in real life if constantly doing whatever they do). After playing it for 20 minutes, I saw why people want these babies in their living rooms, perfecting Wiimote control is a satisfying aspect to Wii ownership, as well as the fun multiplayer games it has.

I was late posting this since I was very busy for the past two days, and hope to post more if I can.

- Jacob Martin
AKA "Jake of All Trades"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Terry Pratchett has Alzheimers

This is really sad. I've met this guy in person, and he seemed really nice. He's one of my favorite authors.

But then again, he's trying to be cheerful about it. Nothing ever gets Terry in a depressed muddle, so there is hope for him.

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

The Wonders of Demo Tape Recording

I've been recording some demo tapes with just singing to send to my musically minded colleagues, in order to give them some idea of how I could make the song work with their riffing.

I do not yet feel the confidence to post links to downloading the said demo tapes. It's humiliating enough to have one's closest friends hear your musical efforts, I feel that I don't need the entire Internet laughing at my expense. When I have more polished versions of my songs with music added, then we might see some download links. But for now, I have more demo tapes to record...

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Soccer and the Zen of Videogaming

I've come home from a day of real life soccer and the biggest workout of my life, as well as an introduction to the world of philosophical videogaming.

It started innocently enough, as an old friend of mine, Alex, decided that we should play soccer in the park directly outside my house, since it was a very nice day that was too beautiful to waste on playing Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne and simply lazing about the house.

I accepted the challenge, only to find that this was a cunning ploy of Alex's to get me fit. He had been trying to find a way to get involved in my exercise routine ever since last year, and he is a good trainer, but he works you hard. When I first played soccer with him today, I was wearing trackpants, which were long and too hot for a boiling day. We kicked the long neglected soccer ball from my back garden around to the extent that all the grimy pot-plant dirt and spiderwebs were gone from its surface, revealing an aged, but beautiful piece of sports equipment. I was drenched in sweat, as the sun beamed down on us. My shirt was so damp from my efforts, that it was drenched by exertion. I decided to apply suncream, since it was quite sunny. It was a wise choice, as it was not only a protection from nasty skin cancers but a chance to change into sportier attire. I changed my shirt and pants to short sleeved and legged clothing, as well as changing my shoes from slip ons to lace ons.

I was pumped for more, as I ran after the ball, kicking it far and near, and even succeeding in outsmarting my twin brother in the soccer art. After I was completely exhausted, it was time to go to my mate David's place. We had tried to get him out of the house previously that day, but it seemed that he was out. The second time we knocked at his door, he was responsive.

We played more soccer, but before that, I had room-temperature water instead of cold at David's house, at Alex's recommendation, as he said to me that room temperature is more refreshing for exercise. I was still drenched in sweat, but I felt like a king. So this is what Fight Club was supposed to make you feel like, minus the severe pummellings!

As I said, we played more soccer, and I scored a goal. We decided, that we could test our skills of soccer on David's new Xbox 360, which had Pro Evolution Soccer or some football related game. I even had a try, though I am not one to commonly participate in videogaming, and despite my losing to David by 2 to Nil, I did not feel at a loss. I simply felt like playing the game for its own sake. I was told that my soccer game skills on this particular game were quite good for a first time player. I simply played the game using my mind rather than the button bashing that the others were doing, and loved every moment of the game, not caring whether I would win or lose. It saddens me when I see people playing videogames only to win: videogames must be played by simply playing them, victory or defeat, Pro or n00b, there is no meaning to any of these terms in true videogaming, the real meaning is in the experience of playing, using your mind to contemplate how more effective gameplay and mastery of the controls could be achieved. I was even playing very well, as Alex told me, and I was judged as a better player of this particular game than my twin brother. Surely this could not be!

Will post more after I have had a rest. I am severely tired after a big day.

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

Thursday, December 6, 2007

HumaniTEA: A Manifesto

HumaniTEA: A Manifesto
By Jacob Martin

Tea is the beverage of kings, queens, commoners and the wealthy alike! HumaniTEA is the group who say “no more!” to those who disrespect our noble drink! These are the goals of our beverage revolution:

1: The de-stigmatisation of Tea. Tea is a drink of the people, not just the British who sip from their expensive, gilded cups! We must fight to ensure that Tea is recognised as the beverage of a united world, as Tea comes from all kinds of places that produce it, such as Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, and India. One beverage can unite our broken world, and we will achieve equality among creation one sip at a time. We must ensure that those who forsake the joys of Tea are made aware of its pleasures, and in good time the whole world will be drinking Tea! (Except for Mormons, it’s hard to convince them to disobey one of the laws of their religion by making them drink Tea, but it’s their loss. You should still respect their views, but they need to respect yours too)

2: Fair pay for Tea industry workers. Only buy Tea that has been produced ethically, as unjustly manufactured Tea that uses exploitative labour leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

3: Good promotion of the benefits of Tea is one of the core steps in our Tea revolution, that even Coffee, that caffeine laden opiate of the masses, will be overthrown in favour of a beverage that is far healthier and enjoyable than many other beverage choices. Tea is healthier than energy drinks as well, and is better for you than a soft drink or cola!

4: The overthrowing of Coffee and energy drinks must be achieved by non-violent means. These evils cannot be repaid with evil, only the good works of HumaniTEA members with peaceful, home economical methods of eliminating Coffee and energy drinks that have oppressed the working class for too long, will prevail in the end! Simply do not buy Coffee or energy drinks, they are addictive, but like smoking and alcoholism, they can be beaten, and Tea will set you free!

5: Tea is what binds us together, we know no discrimination in race, creed, gender or blend of choice. Every cup of the noble drink unites the people around you, as they drink with you. In an ideal world, Tea will end wars, reconcile the harshest enemies, and bond families as one.

6: The final goal of HumaniTEA, after uniting humanity as one world, and one beverage, is to preserve this peace we have earned with the leaves of toil, and the calming effect of a cup of Tea will sooth the wracked nerves of those who fought so hard to achieve these goals. Drink to peace! Drink to equality! Drink for all Humanity!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Changing Faces of Corporations

Take a look at the link below. Read it before you read this blog entry.

At least he said sorry, but I'm still not getting a Facebook account until I am convinced the privacy issues are sorted out for good.

I was previously convinced that Facebook was the face of evil corporate greed, but sometimes I see improvements in how CEOs of companies act towards their faults, and make their companies more consumer friendly.

I have significant respect for people who admit that they are wrong. If they are geniune in their remorse that is. But Mark Zuckerberg deserves the right to be forgiven, provided that he makes sure he doesn't try to pull something like this again.

The age of the corporation is upon us, and there are some internet based corporations that have taken steps to give their customers better privacy. Google earned back my respect when I saw their new privacy policy, and their option of not giving your information for use in statistics or advertising research or corporate studies.

In a previous post, I have said that Apple is a greedy company that is rotten to the core. This, in the instance of their constant re-releases of new iPod technologies, is true, but they do not deserve a complete boycott, nor my complete scorn. I own an iPod, that I cannot hide, and I use it often. I am more concerned with their iTunes downloads only working on iPods than I am with their constant new iPod products, honestly. When a downloaded song or album from iTunes works on nothing else but Apple products, this is an example of corporations trying to freeze out competition. However on the other hand, they allow you to rip music onto your iPod from CDs, something I do often. This redeems them in some aspects, as at least they let you get your CDs onto iPods. CDs work on most Media Players, and that is why I use and buy them.

I also cannot ignore Apple, because in my heart, I know, that although I might dread replacing my beloved PC that has served me for years, an Apple computer would be more sophisticated and capable of using many new developments in creative software. As a creative artist, I need these programs to do my work. And the way Windows Vista is going, (I've heard terrible things about Vista from a friend who has a Vista PC) it wouldn't suit my needs well. I cling to my Windows XP PC in fear, as it will not be able to handle Vista due to its small capabilities.

In this new age of corporations, we should ask ourselves not so much how we should fight all the time with corporations, but to work together with corporations in order to make a better world. Put good people in CEO positions, and they will be more likely to do good works with that position. However, corporations are also about profit. We need to address, in the 21st Century, how profit and ecological factors can be reconciled so that we won't kill the planet. Picketing corporations won't solve much, as CEOs in the past have ignored such means of change. You can make corporations friendlier to humanity by getting a job with them. Get enough good people at work with corporations, and with time, positive solutions will be had.

But you might disagree with me. After all, I'm just a 17 year old wannabe Author who rants to much. Or am I?

Blogging is a good place to discuss issues in society, but as we have seen in the past few years in China, the blog is not mightier than the Great Firewall's sword. Bloggers need to work as much in the physical, RL world, as they do on the Internet. Actions speak louder than words, but words with action combined is a force that may change the world more than each one can achieve alone.

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Matters concerning the Negative Review I got for Small Worlds: A Miscellany

I am no longer bitter about this. I have refrained from posting about it here before I was ready to.

Here is the review I got for my short story collection, Small Worlds: A Miscellany most recently:

As you can see, my first collection of stories missed the mark somewhat. Perhaps I should apologise for my crimes against literature, but I have learned three things from the experience of how one review, no matter how constructive its criticism, can propel a young artist into a pit of despair:

1: It seems that I would make a good writer for Saturday Morning Cartoon shows. Initially I was insulted by the remark: "Most of the stories read like scripts for a Saturday morning cartoon (and I think they would make great cartoons).", but I learned after clarification from the author of this review on the social networking site I use, that this remark was not meant as an insult. It was my fault that I reacted badly to it. This person was only trying to help me, and my experience with Yoram Gross cartoons in my youth had left me with a mediocre understanding of what Saturday Morning cartoon shows could be. (Yoram Gross is the guy who made the Blinky Bill cartoons, but since then he has unleashed more horrors onto Australian children's minds than anybody else, his Flipper and Lopaka show was so bad that you wondered how he got away with it. Tabaluga on the other hand, that was a great show!)

2: Art cures Art. The best thing you can do, after recieving a negative review, no matter what creative field you work in, is to create something. It may sound against your bruised muse to say "I will move on, inspire me, Calliope", but creating something new is as good a cure for review related depression as you can get. Even if that thing you have made to cure your injured ego is recieved poorly, create more Art, and always do so. If you were born to do it, you must do it, or you will die in a miserable state of regret.

3: People are forgiving. You must forgive them also. You must be forgiving to your critics, as Jesus was. I know "What Would Jesus Do?" sounds lame and contrived coming from a guy who writes Fantasy books with multiple gods and goddesses in them, but I am a religious man, as I have seen things you wouldn't believe. Jesus didn't just die and come back, he also dealt with many critics himself. His critics said things like "He has Beelzebul in him!" and "Only God can forgive sins!", but he died for them anyway, and while he was doing his thing in his pre-crucifixion days, he never yelled at a critic without a righteous anger. I know I'll get angry letters from my atheist friends and readers, but I am less ashamed of my beliefs than I used to be, and I am able to use a basic knowledge of the Bible, forced on me in a Ministry and Leadership class I only took to get the extra HSC unit, to illustrate my points. But although I am a religious man, I also believe in a mixture of sacred, and secular teachings. Secular teachings, like Jane Austen's proverb: "First impressions are often misleading". A negative review often contains advice, but a bad review, often confused with a negative review, deliberately sets out to attack you. Most wise reviewers do not write bad reviews, negative ones are given, if they feel the work deserves some pointers on prose or style or artform, but rarely, unless Ego becomes a monster, do they deliberately attack you.

So that's my discourse on the Negative Review. I'm off to study now, I'll post again soon!

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor

More on the Kindle: Like most of it's features, but not all

Now I've said some pretty harsh things about the Kindle. Having watched the updated site, there are some good features of the Kindle, like free Wikipedia on the go, and the free dictionary that you can access while you read, however, the PDF conversion issue would still stop me from buying this object. Yes, it's convenient, but as most e-books are in PDF, particularly the ones I read, personally I would wait until this "experimental" stage, as they call it, is finalised and fixed.

Also the price tag is a bit much for a black and white screen device. Yes, the technology is great, but what happens to my $400 dollars about three years down the track when the new colour screen version is released?

Like iPods, I predict that the Kindle will constantly have new variations, unless, unlike Apple, Amazon develop a spine and decide that the world doesn't need endless versions of the same product. By the looks of things, it seems like you wouldn't really need any new versions of the Kindle past the colour screen, and once the price tag goes down, the PDF issue is fixed, and colour screens for Kindles can be had, I'd consider buying one if I had the money. Which I don't, at the moment.

I hope that this device becomes popular, since once the bugs are taken out it could become a well designed product, however I hope for all our sakes that Amazon don't turn into the greedy Apple that is now rotten to the core.

More will be said later.

- Jacob Martin
AKA TeenAuthor