Saturday, 18 May 2013

My 100th Blog Post, Random Access Memories review and a farewell

I thought this would be a nice way to cap off my blog. I made it to 100 posts, just over ten thousand page views in just over two years, I listened to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and two songs actually choke me up. It's absurd to think so many care about someone like me on multiple occasion but regardless, I want to thank everyone for actually reading my work, sharing it around and even commenting on it. I have a blog because I feel it's a personal platform and I sometimes don't have anywhere else to write stuff. I think what I've written here is a lot of me getting ideas out unfiltered and I love the feeling. This isn't to say that my work on any other site has been heavily or unfairly edited; it's been edited and handled by people I trust and I feel grateful they enjoy my content, but I also understand that not everyone is willing to read several pages on how great Wreck it Ralph is and why Sim City was an awful gaming experience.

It's just really that good...

So I leave this blog with warm wishes and happiness to start working on something I will be updating on a weekly basis (or rather when I feel like it) once I finish Uni and writing and working on different projects that hopefully lead to stuff. I just wanted to have a formal farewell and rather than stretching it out over several blog posts that would not equate to a well-rounded, yet arbitrary number, I decided to do one long ass blog post saying thank you and that I'll make something new in June that I've already started preliminary work on.

Now, below is my completely unedited review for the Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories which was released worldwide yesterday...well not really worldwide, because Japan is still apparently waiting for a full release. Anyway, the original edited review is on Sticky Trigger and you can just read that one there, or this one which is longer, goes through my thoughts on all the tracks and is just a bit more on how I feel about the album. Enjoy!

Random Access Memories

Three years after their incredible Tron Legacy soundtrack and seven years after their last release, Daft Punk have a lot to live up to. From the announcement to the online hype, the world has been tripping between extensive bouts of excitement and conceited dismissal of the duo's next album. There is something about Daft Punk which has fused with the nostalgia of our generation, whether it's the disco beats, strong melodies and robotic vocals, it reminds us of our own early love affairs with technology, the people we've met, the things we've done and how far we've come. Random Access Memories embodies that digital passion and humanity's love and loss with the past and the future.

The album begins with Give Life Back to Music, a strong track that feels reminiscent of the work of Justice's Audio Video Disco. The 70's rock tribute kicks the entire album into gear, giving a shout out to their own teachers and to Human After All's very classic rock-infused sound. The first track does also feel like an early Kavinsky track, with added layered thumping bass and percussion; the tempo is perfect and every single instrument can be heard clearly. Daft Punk knows they have to appease the Gods of Music and this first track is their tribute in every sense of the word. The riffs are playful and dance over every second of the track. I will say this though, even early on, the album is not a traditional party or dance album, but this first track could start almost any party.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Another response to Mr. Bleich: The Game of Piracy and Digital Distribution

Dear Jeffrey Bleich,
So good to see you're still writing. It's a great way to keep this discourse going. I'm going to do a line by line reading of your latest sampling of work to see if we can't continue it even further.

"My blog entry on internet piracy, 'Stopping the Game of Clones,' attracted far more comment than I normally get.  Perez Hilton loved it, but many other people took exception to my call for folks to comply with copyright laws.  Criticisms ranged from asking why diplomats should get involved in this issue, to complaints about how movies and music are distributed from the U.S. to Australia, to some legalistic arguments about the definition of “stealing,” as well as just some old-fashioned verbal abuse.   I think this frank exchange is a good thing (except for the abuse).  I took in these comments with an open mind, and I hope you will do the same with my own  response to the feedback I received."

I firstly, apologise to those who slung abuse at you because hey, that's not helpful. It's great to discuss your opinions and especially with opinions backed up with facts, but mostly if those opinions contain a bit of verbose or scatological verbage, then it can be down-right troublesome. I'm sure the people who did verbally abuse would rather say otherwise and so be it; they have that choice.

You could say they have...a Freedom of Choice

"“Don’t Ambassadors Have Anything Better To Do?”  Several people wondered why a U.S. Ambassador would bother to complain about the pirating of “Game of Thrones” when there are so many bigger issues."

I'm assuming this would include things such as trade agreements, tourism, nuclear mining, etc., but sure, copyright is a big issue because America thinks it's a big issue and you represent them.  However- 

"Actually, given the overwhelming response to the topic, maybe I haven't talked about internet piracy enough."

Oh trust me, you have. I think the reaction both on your Facebook page and on news websites have promoted enough discussion to call into question about why we continue to listen. But hey, maybe the hundreds of thousands of downloaders aren't listening and you could sway them.

"The point is, this isn’t just about 'Game of Thrones' and it isn’t a small issue."

You're incredibly right. It isn't a small issue. It's a global issue regarding many complicated factors, including international trade laws, internet service providers, government lobbyists, copyright and content holders and plenty more stakeholders. But I am curious who else you represent and why you're pushing for this issue so much? Is it a case of just representing international interests, or is it something else? 

It could just be...AFACT that you don't like piracy. Eh...see what I did there.

"As the Washington Post noted: “The pay-TV industry estimates losses of $1 billion in Asia alone.  Intellectual property is getting tougher and tougher to protect in the digital age, which is a big deal for U.S. economic interests.  Imagine if Americans were stealing $1 billion worth of Japanese cars and Japan thought the U.S. government was being lax about finding and punishing the carjackers.”  

Ironically enough, this quote was from an article about your last blog post. That Washington Post article actually used two sites to sling that claim. The first was one from TorrentFreak, a site largely devoted to news relating to internet piracy and advances in the world of internet distribution. Another source was from a two year old AFP article posted on Google News that talked about copyright infringement costing American jobs. Now, I personally think that actual "losses in piracy" only happen when there are physical copies of the work made, such as knock-off products, DVDs and Blu-Ray copies.

I also believe that statistics on piracy loss are completely aggregious after reading studies in the video game industry, but then again I used a fairly old study as well. That being said I am against physical piracy, that is something I want to be clear about that. However, personal piracy or pirating films or in this case, TV shows, is a whole secondary matter. Also that second article also points to a greater issue of the trade practices of that country, something that your country is already working towards. Not only is the article outdated but it's statistics would have changed in the past two years, but I digress. 

"The U.S. International Trade Commission estimated that American business lost $48 billion to copyright infringements in China in 2011 alone.  Australia, moreover, has as much to lose from lax intellectual property protection since it is an exporter of movies, music, literature, and other works." 

That's kinda true. The issue is that we don't have as much of that stuff to actually import. Our film industry is incredibly lacking. Our music culture is very independent based and most of our radio play is music from your country. In fact, the last time we had an Australian hit on our hands, we had to get one of your most talented, but least respected hip-hop artists to sing on it. Our literature culture is heavily eBook focused, in fact so much so, our government is getting in on this. Our best TV import is our actors and Chris Lilley and even then, I doubt he's phased, even with the help of ABC and HBO. That being said, I have asked him via Twitter for his direct opinion. 

It'll be better than this. I promise

Dear Mr. Jeffrey Bleich, US Ambassador to Australia

I posted this earlier today on  Jeffery Bleich's Facebook page, after making another plea to Australian internet users, to stop downloading Game of Thrones. I edited some financial and technical issues here and there but the message is still the same:

Dear Mr. Jeffrey Bleich,
I understand your consistent discourse with the Australian public about their internet "piracy", but please here us out on a few things regarding the legal means of downloading the HBO series Game of Thrones. Here's the thing though with those legal means and how people still have the autonomy with viewing preferences.

Game of Thrones via iTunes is $33.99, which is fine. That's an appropriate price for a full season of a TV series which is still in the process of being released. However, a lot of people are not fans of the iTunes format. It has some inherent difficulties of navigation, as well as the requirement of an account and a fairly convoluted system before actually purchasing the full season. I know that while I have an iTunes account, I don't like buying anything from the because I know that they screw independent musicians, content providers and even Television companies, such as the fine work of HBO. If I buy music, I go through bandcamp, or their website or I find out if they have PayPal so I can legally throw money at them.

Game of Thrones on FOXTEL is a whole other bag altogether. Regardless of my feelings towards NewsCorp, the Murdoch family and other political/lobbyist riffraff, buying a FOXTEL package just for Game of Thrones is a fiscally irresponsible and mentally unsound way to watch a single programme. The show is incredible, don't get me wrong, but there is so much content on FOXTEL that some people may not want to watch, nor pay for. The Premium Drama/Entertainment package is $25, per month. Cool, you may say, that's cheaper than the season pass, however, the show runs for ten episodes, which essentially means, that you are paying $75 for that three month subscription. This is regardless, of the over $700 minimum 12 month contract, plus the extra bundle packages, plus the installation fee, plus the extra amount of time and money you spend waiting, fixing and adjusting your FOXTEL box. It is not a great option.

Game of Thrones via Quickflix is actually a pretty good option. They only charge you for the streaming service. It's available on multiple devices. They have a wide range of content that is incredibly a lá carte, depending on your usage and they're Australian owned. You can stream whatever you want, regardless of the pricing plan. This means you can pay $15 a month and get whatever blu-rays and DVD's sent straight to your house and stream Game of Thrones willy-nilly. However, the debate turns into something a bit more technical.

Most people like downloading the show, not to share it but to play it on their own home media devices when the internet is not "off-peak". Off-peak and on-peak internet usage is something that is becoming more common in your home company, mainly due to greedy ISP's that want to adjust internet service and get people to purchase better plans for no good reason. They throttle the internet usage, which makes it incredibly difficult to stream. As a person who lives in a household that takes in homestays who do not understand this concept, you have no idea how frustrating it can get when you're trying to watch a University streaming lecture at 28.8kbps a is not fun. Not many ISP's offer a service that isn't capped, despite the "unlimited" marketing banner.

Mr. Bleich, despite your name sounding like a Mad Magazine onomatopoeic device, please know that the autonomy of Australian internet users is much more important than a day based on the support of sharing and informing people of international cultures through various mediums. A day spawned from the death of the amazing man who wrote Don Quixote, a book that was heavily pirated to make it's way across the earth.

 Internet culture and yes, even regular culture, is about sharing that culture with the ones you love and finding common ground to communicate and understand one another. I understand that you're unhappy about our pirating ways, but please understand us trying to just enjoy the show. A show which we discuss and have made friendships over. A show which we buy on Blu-Ray and give as gifts. A show that inspired me to buy a knitting bag from an independent artist and give to my girlfriend. I'm not saying you are a terrible person Mr. Bleich but you are asking us to stop culture and I don't like it.

You already had Intellectual Property Day on April 26th. Enjoy your weekend everyone and see you on Thronesday on Monday

P.S. Here is King Joffrey...I mean Jeffrey