Tag Archives: movies

Christmas Blitzkrieg

When I have those moments when I think I’ve gotten too old, and I think I’m starting to feel like my age, I’m thankful for sudden sustained bursts of activity that remind me that, really, I just lead a much duller life than I used to, and my exhaustion is usually due to lack of sleep than from trying to do too much.

Heck, it even makes me feel a bit young! Ish. Sort of.

Except for the prolonged yawning, anyway.

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TV is dead. Long live the internet!

I feel like an old man. I can now look at my kids, and say with far too much vigour: “When I was your age…” I refer to, of course, having to get off my ass, walking over to the cathode ray tube-based television set, change the dial to UHF, and move the oversized dial that changed the direction of the UHF antenna…

I’ve lost you, haven’t I? I shudder to think how few of you have an inkling of what I’m talking about. Yeah, that’s how old I am. I remember when there were only a handful of channels, when almost all of the content was on ABC, NBC, CBS, CBC, CTV, Global, and a few independent stations (such as the awesome CityTV and the the extremely nacent Fox). I remember the introduction of cable. I remember having to wait for the summer reruns because I missed that crucial episode of The A Team that everyone was talking about in class the next morning. I remember when the season debuts were a big thing. I remember when missing a live televised event was significant, because it was gone forever.

It seems somehow just as bizarre a concept as the Spanish Inquisition.

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Why SOPA will (and must) fail

Across the internet, the letters S-O-P-A have inspired a particular level of hatred and vitriol. Beyond the internet, the Stop Online Piracy Act has barely registered any significant presence within mainstream media. The reasons for this are … well, circumspect, especially given the damage that SOPA would bring to the internet. And this, my dear reader, is something that you do need to be aware of, as it may very well affect this very website.

The Stop Online Piracy Act is a bill before the Government of the United States of America that proposes — in a general sense — a series of rules and penalties in an effort to eradicate online piracy. At a high level, it certainly seems like a reasonable request. In fact, so reasonable that anyone not spending time reviewing the details of the bill might very well have missed some of the more draconian measures being implemented, allowing — in effect — individual companies to disable outright any website they believe to be infringing on copyright without right of trial, so long as said website has some dependency on US-based services (which a tremendous percentage of websites have).

In effect, a US company can shut down your otherwise legal operation because they’ve told their government that you’re the bad guy.

Sound unfair? It should. But this, dear reader, is also where things get more sinister.

The authors of this bill are members of the American government, but that’s not who is really driving it. The backers? Big media. Notably, the same companies who have been engaging in a futile, misguided, and often grossly misdirecting effort to have laws enacted to protect their business models. Companies represented by the RIAA and MPAA, and a host of old companies who don’t want to change.

They’re flailing, and failing. They’re unable to grasp the concept of digital media. They’re used to their physical world — one book to one person, one CD in one CD player, one VHS tape showing on one tube-based television set. The new world allows a single copy to be copied, cut, remixed, and displayed on millions of devices simultaneously. The media companies chime: “Show me the money.”

But instead of adapting, they cry foul. They cry piracy. They claim that they’re losing money hand-over-fist, and they will expire without the assistance of new laws. Yet, they’re not losing money. In fact, many of the music labels are making more than ever, largely in part to Apple, who strong-armed them into making music cheap, and — to absolutely no surprise to any armchair economist — removed the barrier to entry, and sold music in such quantities that the music industry was very likely saved from imminent death.

Hence, SOPA. And while the White House chosen to not sign the bill, there is no reason to believe it won’t be back in some other odious form.

Beyond the American government, I have reason to also fear this bill because of the efforts of my own government. The Canadian government has thrice shown to be spineless in its resistance to these same groups lobbying for ridiculous legislation in Canada that would put our own culture and identity as unwarranted in terms of content ownership. Our politicians, who had in decades previous been those who stand only for its own people, now show to be bowing to massive foreign conglomerates, leaving its own people to suffer as a result.

SOPA, and bills like it must fail. Because they are flawed in their consideration of evolution, because they fail to take digital commerce into account, and because they will unnecessarily bind our children into false agreements and behaviours that will haunt them their entire lives.

If you are an American, please write your congressperson. If you are Canadian, please write your MP. In either case, don’t let your government become party to Big Media’s insanity, don’t let our future be dictated by corporations. Learn more at AmericanCensorship.org.

Content yearns to be free. Not free as in ownership, but free as in freedom, free as in life. Let content live.

2010, A Year in Review

Man, it feels like a year ago since I last wrote one of these … oh, wait.  (Yes, it’s a stupid joke. You should know me by now…)

2010 was the year we made contact … wait, sorry, wrong catchline. 2010 was the year my family welcomed new members, notably my youngest, a daughter (code)named Choo Choo. It was a year I changed my career outlook (yes, again), and found that I’m not (completely) useless. This was a year of family, for me, and that’s perhaps the most important aspect.

But despite all that, I hesitate to call it “a year of change”.

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Four fun-filled days

I sit here at my kitchen table, rubbing the weariness from my eyes. Not the things you’d normally hear from me, mind you — I haven’t been working too hard as of late (as you know, my big project is done). No, this is from something much better — spending time with my family, and notably you, Monkey.

The last four days have been a lot of fun. Maybe even too much fun. Both of us are pretty pooped. You went to bed and for the first time in a long while, there wasn’t hours of chatter from your room. I think you pretty much passed out. I won’t be too far behind you, I think, but I do wish to describe the fun that we’ve shared.

‘Cuz, frankly, I’m not sure how the heck I survived it all…

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Flash: I’m not dead yet!

I’m getting a little tired of this topic. I was tired of it about a day after Steve Jobs first showed the iPad to the world, and the infamous blue LEGO appeared where a Flash plug-in should have been. It wasn’t really so much a shock to the world — Apple had been denying Flash applications on their iPod/iPhone platform all along. But this seemed to start off a little maelstrom the likes of which I haven’t read since people argued over on which end to start eating a hard-boiled egg.

The events of the last few weeks have been extremely tiresome to say the least. Far too many people and groups have been  prognosticating  the future of personal computing, and there’s been far too little in doses of reality. The future is coming, but it’s not coming nearly as quickly as everyone thinks it is, and rushing to meet the future will likely only harm the present. A little rational thought would be appreciated.

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room, first. Steve Jobs hates Flash. There, I’ve said it. Now let’s move on.

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Copyrights are the new Colonialism

The late 16th Century was the dawn of the British Empire. England had triumphed on the seas, and had set its eyes on colonising the New World (before its enemies did). Patents were issued, companies were founded, and flotillas of ships dispatched to every corner — known and unknown — of the planet in the name of Queen/King and country. Colonies were born out of determination, slavery, and blood extracted from those too weak to defend themselves from British will.

In time, a phrase was born: The sun never sets on the British Empire. Great Britain’s influence extended far beyond its native shores, its power unquestionable. A few thrived under the colonial system, but the majority — the people living under colonial rule — were marginalised as being little more than the ignorant masses; significant numbers suffered horribly.

It’s really no wonder that the Empire collapsed under its own weight.

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What I think of the new Star Trek movie

Last night, I saw J.J. Abrams’ re-envisioning of Star Trek. It didn’t suck. But I’m not about to stand up and laud the praise that so many others had. I’m not convinced it deserves it (or the #71 ranking in the IMDB’s Top 250), but it’s a vast improvement over some of the shlock that Star Trek movies have been of late.  

I went in, admittedly, with higher than normal expectations (press is hard to ignore entirely, and even Wil Wheaton claimed it was awesome). So there is a certain amount of disappointment. But now that I’ve had time to ruminate on the film, the plot, the acting, etc., I’d like to think I’ve got a decent view.  

And for those of you who haven’t seen the movie: Beware! Thar be spoilers ahead!

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A few of my favourite movies

I’ve had a lot of people ask me over the years what movies I have in my Top 10 (or Top 5 or Top 3) list. There’s a lot of good movies out there, and a number of them definitely get listed among my favourites.  

But make no mistake, I have no actual Top Whatever list. I rarely ever rank movies because that suggests that I place one movie over another. Which I don’t and can’t. There are some movies I watch because I’m simply in the mood to watch them. Others remain special for me, even if I haven’t watched them in a long time.  

The key thing of every movie in this list: I’ll watch it if I see it on TV, and if someone hands me the DVD, I’ll be happy to sit down to watch without a second thought.  

And now, in no particular order…

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