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News for May 2011

Wisdom from ‘The Road,’ by Jack London

I came upon a passage that kind of rang true in so many ways I figured I ought to copy paste it to share. It comes from a hobo’s confessional in The Road by Jack London, as he sought charity for want of a meal, being turned down at a dozen odd domiciles.

“It began to look as if I should be compelled to go to the very poor for my food. The very poor constitute the last sure recourse of the hungry tramp. The very poor can always be depended upon.

They never turn away the hungry. Time and again, all over the United States, have I been refused food by the big house on the hill; and always have I received food from the little shack down by the creek or marsh, with its broken windows stuffed with rags and its tired-faced mother broken with labor.

Oh, you charity-mongers! Go to the poor and learn, for the poor alone are the charitable. They neither give nor withhold from their excess. They have no excess. They give, and they withhold never, from what they need for themselves, and very often from what they cruelly need for themselves.”

Posted: May 30th, 2011
Categories: critical thought, general
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Facebook Connection World Portrait, No Russia or China?

This image was drawn by a data structuring intern for Facebook, Paul Butler, depicting over 10 million friend connections showing an overview of global netizenship. One thing that struck me as bizarre is the lack of Russia or China in the map! One in six people on earth live in China alone, is Facebook just not fashionable there? Bizarre.

Posted: May 29th, 2011
Categories: general
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Chinese Prisoners Forced to Goldfarm in MMO’s

Imprisoned for “illegally petitioning” the government over corruption in his town, the former Chinese inmate known as “Liu Dali” has told the U.K. Guardian that in addition to back-breaking manual labor he and other prisoners were forced to play video games for hours on end. Not as a form of punishment or leisure activity, but because their overseers had assembled a massive “goldfarming” operation, wherein they exploited prison labor to earn money playing online games. From the Guardian:

“Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”

While the idea of prisoners being forced to play video games may seem chuckleworthy, and it certainly is absurd, it is no laughing matter. Again, from the Guardian:

“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

Goldfarming is now extremely widespread in China, where the Guardian reports nearly $2 billion in online currency was traded accounting for 80% of the world’s goldfarming. While for some of the world’s poor population, goldfarming could mean a better life, the use of prison labor is bizarre and more than a little troublesome. It also complicates international trade, since some countries refuse to accept exported goods made in prisons.

Liu speculates that many other prisoners are likely still forced into goldfarming operations, and assumes that the practice must be widespread. His belief is backed by University of California researcher Jin Ge, who describes China as “the factory of virtual goods.” One wonders how comfortable gamers would be if they knew that the items and credits purhcased for a game came at the cost of forced labor.

Update: The Telegraph reports that Chinese officials have denied the story, saying that gold farming would allow prisoners to communicate with the outside world, which they would never allow:

[A]n official at the central office for labour camps in Heilongjiang denied that inmates were forced to play games online. “I have never heard of this. If you want to see for yourself, come to one of our labour camps,” he said.

The official, who declined to give his name, said: “We do not allow our inmates to do high-risk occupations, such as coal-mining. We do not have large numbers of computers. And we do not allow our prisoners to have any contact with the outside world. If they were playing these online games they could easily communicate with other people. We would never allow that.”

(U.K. Guardian)

TBBT, Walking Dead, Torchwood, @scifitv & @triplej and Other Disappointments!

I am sick to death of TV series’ I get inti being canned or taking six to twelve months down time every fucking week. Today I found out there’s no more Big Bang until 2012. WHY do we have half a year with nothing but shit repeats and nothing new?

Battlestar Galactica ended, Caprica came out and got canned. Star Trek Enterprise got canned, even after the Star Trek film came out nothing came of it. Stargate Universe lasted a season. Let’s not mention Firefly. Big Bang is on hiatus until next year. Walking Dead had like three eps then went off until a year or more later (10-2011) .

It just seems bleak for me, no shows I like are in production at present, NO science fiction is being made anywhere in the world. ScifiTV and Syfy show non-sci fi ,ore than sci fi, it just really seems like the entertainment sector of TV world is anti-mensus and only mass producing crap that appeals to the brainless under achieving teenage demographic.

I know I’m not alone as I see many complaints on social networks and blogs everywhere, but how are the market research departments of these big networks utterly OBLIVIOUS to the huge demographic I’m a part of?

I just can’t fathom why it is acceptable in any way to have a year between seasons, BBC’s Torchwood is a perfect example of a huge offender. Season 1 was a MASSIVE hit, season 2 was a year and a half in the waiting and they decided to make a three part miniseries instead, then another season was ‘pending’ announcement for a year or more and now in six months we’ll see ANOTHER miniseries, this time only two lousy parts.

How do these fucks justify anywhere up to a year in wait? Is it all based on the fact ratings are measured over a short period and not the entire year? Surely given that 99% of people have digital cable with set top boxes measuring ratings can be a constant thing?

I propose lobbying ratings measuring companies to make their rating system based on a full calendar year, ensuring that ALL the year is filled with new material as opposed to lame repeats, or worse in the case of Scifi TV in Australia which airs mostly non-science fiction like Xena, Buffy, Angel and Charmed. They obviously think that all speculative fiction is the same as science fiction, but given that their entire customer service department is outsourced to a Mongol living in a yak skin tent drinking his own urine on a satellite phone remnant from the cold war 80′s and a mildly retarded Daschund that can type running their social network presence getting your complaint heard is as unlikely as banging Kaley Couco in the bum.

I’m just so frustrated and totally over how shit TV and even movies have been lately, even the music scene has been lame of late, if I hear another song with choir vox effects or the same but with little kids singing in addendum to main vocalist chorus I’ll self immolate.

What happened to the entertainment industry? Where did it all go wrong?

Posted: May 25th, 2011
Categories: consumer reviews, critical thought, general, music, op ed, piracy, pop culture, rant, sci-fi, television, vox pop
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iTunes U, Education in the Digital Age

Most of you know I’m a bit on the nerdy side, my academic peen is huge and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t actively seek to learn a few new things. From the arts to sciences, from landscaping to mechanics, or aeronautics to gaming I proactively seek to hone my skills in every field that catches my interest.

That being said, I can also be a bit of a dolt and in this case was entirely slow of faculty. I discovered iTunes U, I entirely forgot Americans abbreviate university to U (outside the US the common abbreviation is ‘uni’) and expected the U to be oriented around the selfishness of Web 2.0 with everything being self centered, my, u, etc included.

I was surprised to find that it has a mass of lecturers from various uni’s around the globe! My days will no longer have lulls of boredom within them, it really has a mass of interesting lectures to download and listen to from all around the world.

I can’t help but be amazed that I can gain insight from uni lecturers from the middle east, or listen to student workgroups from Russia discussing and covering any number of topics.

So, if you have an iPhone or iPad, I highly recommend cashing in on this free cache of information and wealth of knowledge. This is what the Internet was designed and meant for, it is absolutely brilliant and humbling in a way to see the milestone if where it has, with the help of the sage like prophets of technology and the digital church of awesome, come full circle.

Get downloading and get educated. It’s cool to be smart now, when the dumb kids realized all us nerds are what makes the world go around and that they bask in the technology and science brought about by their victims of bullying and the shunned geeky types in the world.

Expand your mind and you will also expand your future and potential as a human being.

Happy Geek Pride Day!

For all Trekkies, comic collectors and gadget gurus, here’s a day just for you. Today the world celebrates Geek Pride Day.

Geeks, nerds and whoever else wears thick glasses and a pocket protector can publicly boast about their geekiness without being labelled as weird. It happens on May 25 every year, which coincides with the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977.

The day started in 2006 in Spain – strangely enough – when 300 geeks showed their pride by creating a human “Pac-Man” game. In 2008, it came to the US, where bloggers heralded it as a holiday.

Not sure of your geek orientation? Here are some rights and responsibilities, as outlined in Geek Pride Day’s manifesto. If they inspire you to put on your favourite Dungeons and Dragons cape, then, no question, you’re a geek. So take pride and celebrate.

Your Geekly Rights

The right to associate with other nerds.

The right to have few friends (or none at all).

The right to not leave your house.

The right to not like football or any other sport.

The right to be out of style.

The right to be overweight and nearsighted.

(WIth great power comes great) Responsibilities

Try to be nerdier than anyone else.

If there is a discussion about something geeky, you must give your opinion.

Don’t be a generalised geek. You must specialise in something.

Attend every nerdy movie on opening night and buy every geeky book before anyone else.

Wait in line on every opening night. If you can go in costume or at least with a related T-shirt, all the better.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/once-a-year-its-hip-to-be-square/story-e6frfro0-1226062318927#ixzz1NKlH6toB

Posted: May 25th, 2011
Categories: epiclullz, lifestyle, news, oddities, pop culture
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26TBPS Reached, AU Still Sitting on >8MBPS

Fibres operating in the infrared can shuttle many different colours of light down their lengths
Researchers have set a new record for the rate of data transfer using a single laser: 26 terabits per second.

At those speeds, the entire Library of Congress collections could be sent down an optical fibre in 10 seconds.

The trick is to use what is known as a “fast Fourier transform” to unpick more than 300 separate colours of light in a laser beam, each encoded with its own string of information.

The technique is described in the journal Nature Photonics.

The push for higher data rates in light-based telecommunications technologies has seen a number of significant leaps in recent years.

While the earliest optical fibre technologies encoded a string of data as “wiggles” within a single colour of light sent down a fibre, newer approaches have used a number of tricks to increase data rates.

Among them is what is known as “orthogonal frequency division multiplexing”, which uses a number of lasers to encode different strings of data on different colours of light, all sent through the fibre together.

At the receiving end, another set of laser oscillators can be used to pick up these light signals, reversing the process.

Check the pulse

While the total data rate possible using such schemes is limited only by the number of lasers available, there are costs, says Wolfgang Freude, a co-author of the current paper from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

“Already a 100 terabits per second experiment has been demonstrated,” he told BBC News.

“The problem was they didn’t have just one laser, they had something like 370 lasers, which is an incredibly expensive thing. If you can imagine 370 lasers, they fill racks and consume several kilowatts of power.”

Professor Freude and his colleagues have instead worked out how to create comparable data rates using just one laser with exceedingly short pulses.

Within these pulses are a number of discrete colours of light in what is known as a “frequency comb”.

When these pulses are sent into an optical fibre, the different colours can add or subtract, mixing together and creating about 325 different colours in total, each of which can be encoded with its own data stream.

Last year, Professor Freude and his collaborators first demonstrated how to use a smaller number of these colours to transmit over 10 terabits per second.

At the receiving end, traditional methods to separate the different colours will not work. In the current experiment, the team sent their signals down 50km of optical fibre and then implemented what is known as an optical fast Fourier transform to unpick the data streams.

Colours everywhere

The Fourier transform is a well-known mathematical trick that can in essence extract the different colours from an input beam, based solely on the times that the different parts of the beam arrive.

The team does this optically – rather than mathematically, which at these data rates would be impossible – by splitting the incoming beam into different paths that arrive at different times, recombining them on a detector.

In this way, stringing together all the data in the different colours turns into the simpler problem of organising data that essentially arrive at different times.

Professor Freude said that the current design outperforms earlier approaches simply by moving all the time delays further apart, and that it is a technology that could be integrated onto a silicon chip – making it a better candidate for scaling up to commercial use.

He concedes that the idea is a complex one, but is convinced that it will come into its own as the demand for ever-higher data rates drives innovation.

“Think of all the tremendous progress in silicon photonics,” he said. “Nobody could have imagined 10 years ago that nowadays it would be so common to integrate relatively complicated optical circuits on to a silicon chip.”

Posted: May 24th, 2011
Categories: general
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Travel Tips Every Traveler Should Know

I found a twee little article by the ironically named Doc Holiday in relation to holiday tips everyone should know before they’re 40. It brough a smile to my face, so I figured I should share it with you guys. <3

DESPITE our relative geographic isolation, Australians are among the best travelled race on earth.

With Asia on our doorstep, we are a relatively easy half-day, overnight and jet-lag free flight away. And the strength of the Australian dollar means than more of us can travel to more places.

There’s also no more experienced a group of travellers than the intrepid Generation X, many of whom are now approaching 40, with half-a-lifetime of globe-trotting behind them.

It made me wonder what you should know by the time you’ve reached that milestone, now that you have all that experience under your money-belt.

Australia is not the centre of the universe
Some people still don’t even know where it is. You know to presume ignorance.

Not risking getting sick
You’ve stared into enough toilet bowls by now. Follow the tenets of healthy eating and drinking when travelling, especially in the third world: boil it, peel it, cook it – or forget it.

Never enter an Australian-themed pub
Anywhere.

The best Irish theme pubs are in Ireland
The Irish will appreciate you visiting them considering the dire state of their economy.

Knowing how to use chopsticks
You’d be surprised how impressed the Asians (especially the Japanese) are when you display real skill with these eating utensils (and how pitying they can be when you ask for cutlery).

How not to be fleeced
By now you’ve probably been victim to at least one scam in your travelling life and can spot a fraudster from a mile away.

Dressing appropriately
Leave your shirt on at all times on when not on a beach or near a swimming pool. The locals will appreciate it, and may even expect it.

Not looking like a tourist
You’ll be taken more seriously and melt into the crowd. Remember that most people dislike, even despise, tourists, particularly in places where the annual number of visitors can out-number the local actual population.

Not behaving like a tourist
See above. Every country has it loud-mouthed, drunken tourists. Don’t be one of Australia’s representatives.

Knowing that you shouldn’t travel without travel insurance
You’ve heard all of the horror stories and know you’d be mad to risk your luck.

Remembering not to eat and drink too much on a plane
You’ve already had enough jet-lag in your life and realise you don’t need to eat and/or drink everything offered to you or put in front of you.

BYO toilet paper
You never want to get caught out again after that horror Indian/Chinese/Russian train carriage toilet experience.

You don’t need to see everything
Tear up the checklist. Rome wasn’t seen in a day.

Travel is never really a waste of money
Even when you get the credit card bill when you get home (though watch those global roaming charges).

Getting lost is not a bad thing
In fact, in can be fun, illuminating and by now you’re experienced enough as a traveller to find your way back.

How to pack
Your clothes are better now than when you were 21. Be kind to them.

Not trying to be the first person off the plane
Relax, no one’s ever been imprisoned for life on a plane.

Be considerate
You are a guest in another country. Behave like one, unless badly and unreasonably provoked.

Not to queue interminably
Madame Tussauds was never really worth the wait.

Know when to stop haggling
Arguing over the equivalent of 50 cents is not a good look for someone from a nation as rich as Australia, even if you’re on a budget holiday.

Look beyond the tourist zone
Some of the most rewarding travel experiences can be as close as a street or two from the crowded main tourist drag (example: the streets immediately surrounding Barcelona’s Las Ramblas).

Immunisations before travel can save your life
Boring but true. Keep a record of them and keep them up to date for every trip.

Consider government travel warnings
… but you weigh them up based on your own judgement, knowledge and experience

Do your research
You owe it to yourself and the destination you’ve visiting

You wear a motor-cycle helmet
You wouldn’t go without one at home so why do it in another country? Brain-surgery in Laos is to be avoided.

Not to worry/panic when things go wrong
By now you’re a seasoned traveller and can handle pretty much anything and realise that it all adds to your experience (except if a jet engine explodes mid-flight when you’re allowed to panic).

How to tip
It’s really not worth being chased down a street by an irate American waiter just because you don’t believe in tipping.

Learn at least a little of the local lingo
It’s always appreciated, and a good ice-breaker.

That a smile goes a long way
Except in countries such as Russia where they’ll just think you’re crazy

Not to give money to beggars
Hard as it can be to ignore them, it just perpetuates the practice.

Knowing that you don’t need a photo of everything
Who cares if the traffic lights are different than back at home?

You still have more than 40 years to perfect yourself as a traveller
Chances are you’ll be living to 80, and may well beyond, with a whole rest of the world left to see.

Read Doc Holiday’s weekly travel advice column Escape lift-out in all News Ltd Sunday papers. Send Doc Holiday questions to doc@docholiday.com.au

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advisor/things-every-traveller-should-know-before-theyre-40/story-fn6sg2rl-1226061066555#ixzz1N8oLF6gO

Posted: May 23rd, 2011
Categories: general, lifestyle, pop culture, reviews
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An Open Letter to Christians Re: The May 21st Rapture

7:18pm, Saturday.

Told you so.

Embrace rationalism.

Posted: May 21st, 2011
Categories: critical thought, epiclullz
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Justin Bieber Loses in Hong Kong

Teen pop star Justin Bieber has had a hugely disappointing greeting at his arrival in Hong Kong.

Just seven fans showed up at the city’s airport to greet Bieber, the Sunday Morning Post reported, calling it an “embarrassingly low-key reception”.

In addition to the tiny turn-out, footage of his arrival posted on YouTube – where the star made his name – had only been viewed 135,000 times by Sunday, four days after he jetted in to the muted reception.

The paper said there were “three times” more bodyguards than female fans at the airport, with the 17-year-old pop star “looking grumpy and walking straight past the small group of fans as they yelled out his name”.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/story-fn7mjoe2-1226056440733#ixzz1MSdDwnYX

Posted: May 16th, 2011
Categories: celebrity, celebrity gossip, epiclullz, pop culture
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TRON makes me a pirate! Yarr.

Was watching TRON: Legacy. It has Daft Punk in the club scene DJing and they did all the soundtrack! Made me smile. Then I realized I couldn’t screen shot it and casually tweet it at a decent resolution.

I’m watching it on my iPad, wish it gave you a portable version to display on bigger monitors, I hate how all content delivery systems try to protect copyright and in doing so force your hand to breach it to watch it on your huge TV instead of portable media device.

It’s harder with iTunes rubbish as the HD format is always rental only. To their credit their downloadable content is usually twice the bitrate most of us bother pirating at.

And yet without screwing around in the usual way we do with our apple based devices we’d be stuck with content illogically locked in on various devices.

Copyright protection makes us all pirates eventually.

An unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

And if there’s one thing TRON taught us; – Users always win.

Posted: May 8th, 2011
Categories: general
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