Dave's Free Press: Journal

violence, pornography, and rude words for the web generation


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Sun, 23 Jan 2011

The Value of Video Games

In this news story, Michael Rawlinson, some panjandrum in a video game makers' association, says that big budget video games aren't overpriced. "These big games, you get 20 to 50 hours game play, which is tremendous value for money". This is for games that have a typical retail price of £55, so you pay between £2.75 and £1 for each hour of entertainment.

If Rawlinson really cared about value for money and not simply about milking his gullible customers for every penny he can, then he'd agree with the pirates who say that such games are poor value for money. The proof? Osmos. It currently costs £1.79. For it to be as poor value as rubbish like Call Of Duty 94, it would have to provide just 33 minutes of entertainment. I've already spent hours playing it. Of course, you'll get even better value out of a pack of cards (which cost £1), Scrabble or chess (a tenner), a pair of walking boots (60 quid), or any number of other entertainments which don't involve an expensive computer.

Of course, this notion that a video game has a certain amount of game play and no more is the real flaw. Good video games don't constrain the player to a plot which will eventually come to an end. If you want a plot, then you should read a book or go to the cinema. It's lack of a plot, and reliance entirely on the player's ingenuity through which he will find novelty, that has made games like Scrabble, chess and go remain popular after decades, centuries, even millenia.

Posted at 13:45 by David Cantrell
keywords: media
Permalink | 4 Comments
Sun, 17 Oct 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Foot and Mouth

Nearly ten years after a small outbreak of an insignificant disease, the press are still telling lies about it. This story about some obscure disease of horses attempts to draw parallels with the foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK in 2001: "The outbreak has disturbing echoes of the early stages of the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic, which claimed the lives of 10 million sheep and cattle and cost the country an estimated £8bn".

However, foot and mouth is rarely fatal. It's not foot and mouth that killed millions of animals in 2001, it was the human response to it. Not only were plenty of infected animals killed which would have otherwise survived, 80% of the animals culled were disease-free! While it is obviously a Good Thing to limit the spread of a painful disease, that spread could have been controlled by a programme of vaccination. This would have been far more humane, efficient, and cheaper in both the short- and the long-term than the indiscriminate slaughter that we instead witnessed. What the slaughter achieved was to publicise the infection and make it news-worthy, pander to the short-term interests of the highly-subsidised but economically insignificant agricultural export industry, and cause a great deal of harm to other rural businesses and to peoples' enjoyment of their beautiful countryside.

The argument against vaccination was that the presence of foot and mouth antibodies made meat unsaleable abroad. Fine, so sell the carcasses of vaccinated animals on the domestic market, without destroying rural businesses such as hotels - many of which lost huge numbers of customers because, after all, what's the point of visiting the countryside if all the footpaths are closed? It's not as if we're a nation of feeble vegetarians! Those carcasses would not have been harmful to human health. And when the disease spread to the Netherlands, it was dealt with by vaccination. In recognition of the abject failure of the old policy, the law was changed later to allow vaccination, just as everyone apart from the National Farmers' Union had been saying for ages.

Posted at 13:56 by David Cantrell
keywords: media | politics
Permalink | 0 Comments
Sat, 3 Jan 2009

Bye-bye AOL Hometown

"AOL Hometown", a service that AOL used to run where their customers could publish basic web pages, has gone away. Many users are, predictably, angry and upset (as well as badly spelled and lacking grammar), despite, I am absolutely certain, AOL doing everything that they were contractually obligated to do.

For example, one LOLAOLUSER said this, which is crying out to be made into a lolcat:







and another said:

What happened to my web page on my husband, Bob Champine, that took me many years to put together on his career and which meant a lot to me and to the aviation community. I noticed with 9.0 I lost the left margin and the picture of him exiting the X-1. I need to restore it to the internet as it is history. Please tell me what to do. I will be glad to retype it, I just don't want it lost to the world.

I need help.

-- Gloria Champine

Some misguided souls are wringing their hands, insisting that "the technorati" should Do Something (despite it being the technically clueful who are the most vociferous about how people shouldn't use products and services which lock their data away from them), and laughably comparing losing a website to losing your home.

Just about the only thing I agree with is that the users aren't (entirely) to blame. I mostly blame the uncaring bastards who encouraged the ignorant to do stuff without providing the necessary instruction. The necessary instruction for making a website - indeed for using a computer - obviously includes "keep backups". Gloria Champine was fucked over not by AOL, but by whoever encouraged her to use a cheap low-end provider and didn't teach her the basics of computing. She was probably fucked over by one of her children.

Posted at 14:10 by David Cantrell
keywords: lolcats | media
Permalink | 1 Comment
Tue, 16 Dec 2008

NHS rip-off phone numbers

It has been a long-standing grump of mine how so many companies and - far worse - public bodies such as the NHS only publish rip-off phone numbers for their clients to talk to them on. These rip-off numbers include 087 numbers, 084, 080, and 07 numbers.

084 is marketed as being low cost, limited to the same rate as a local call - it's often misleadingly called "local rate" or "lo-call". What rot! It's actually priced to be the same rate as a local call at BT's standard tariff. But how many people are on BT's standard tariff? Cheaper tariffs are available from BT themselves, and of course no-one who uses another telco (such as Virgin Media if you're on cable, or any of the mobile companies) will be on BT's tariff. The people receiving calls on 084 and 087 numbers actually get paid by the telco for generating the call, that's how expensive they are - the telco charges punters so much that they can afford to pass some of it on to someone else.

080 is of course used for "free" calls. But these are not always free. They're certainly not free if you call from a mobile, like how most people make their calls these days.

Finally, after many years of abuse, this scandalous rip-off seems to be getting some attention. However, watch out for a common lie told by advocates of these rip-off numbers. They say that it's only now that the new 03 range exists that companies can move away from rip-off numbers and still get the full range of services that they get from their rip-off provider. This is utter bullshit. All those services like call queueing are available on any number if you ask your telco for them.

The proof that it's bullshit is saynoto0870.com, a website whose operators and users have ferreted out alternative geographic numbers (those beginning 01 and 02; cheap or even free to call) which companies have, and which end up in exactly the same phone systems as their rip-off numbers do. I urge you to contribute data where you can. You can get hold of geographic numbers for public bodies by submitting Freedom Of Information Act requests. For commercial bodies, they will often tell you a cheap number to call if you tell them that you are going to be travelling abroad - the rip-offs are so expensive that foreign telcos will often simply refuse to let you dial them.

Posted at 20:17 by David Cantrell
keywords: media | telecoms
Permalink | 2 Comments
Fri, 24 Oct 2008

Ocado delivers ... The Times?

The nice man from Ocado just delivered my groceries. I order stuff slightly more than once a month. Included in my delivery was a copy of The Times.

This is most puzzling.

It was today's newspaper, delivered just before 9pm - so if I actually wanted to read the thing (and I don't - what, get the news on paper? How 20th century!) I'd have already bought a copy at the station 12 hours earlier, read it, and discarded it. So they're obviously not delivering it so that I can enjoy reading it. And then, Ocado do like to trumpet their green credentials. Exactly how delivering a mass of useless paper which is only going to get thrown away is green is beyond me.

Posted at 21:15 by David Cantrell
keywords: environment | media
Permalink | 3 Comments
Thu, 23 Oct 2008

Protect the Humanzee!

A headline in one of the right-wing stupidsheets this morning read "Humanzee fear after MPs vote", above a story about how MPs voted in favour of scientific research and against Dark Ages superstition in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Why would one fear our humanzee brothers? I for one refuse to discriminate merely on the grounds that a person has recent African ancestors.

Posted at 09:27 by David Cantrell
keywords: media | politics | weird
Permalink | 0 Comments
Thu, 28 Feb 2008

Better than TV

The silly season must have started early this year, because the BBC are running a story about a dog that can do tricks that are "better than TV".

Of course, it's not surprising that a dog doing tricks is better than TV. Here's a list of other things that are not only better than TV, but better than stupid yappy rats doing tricks too:

  • Setting fire to your chest hair
  • Dropping a soldering iron on your foot
  • Slamming a door on your fingers
  • Having the liquishits
  • Plague
Posted at 23:41 by David Cantrell
keywords: culture | media
Permalink | 0 Comments
Fri, 14 Dec 2007

Face Crack

Oops. I eventually gave in and got a Face Crack account. In my defence, I dunnit so I can play Go online. I find the interface much better than KGS, and it's nice to be able to play a few moves and then leave the game for a bit and come back later, which isn't practical on KGS.

Posted at 15:55 by David Cantrell
keywords: go | media | meta
Permalink | 0 Comments
Mon, 24 Sep 2007

Foreign prostitutes: the facts

According to some terribly earnest do-gooder on the TV (I apologise - I wouldn't normally watch, but the local PropagandaNews was on just before the rugby), "ten years ago one in four prostitutes was a foreigner, now it's the other way round". That is, she's claiming that one in four foreigners is a prostitute. Given that London (I assume she means in London!) has over two million foreigners living in it, that comes to over half a million hookers.

It was on the telly so it must be true.

My copy of the A-Z has 120 pages of indexes, with approx 500 streets per page. That's 60,000 streets, or roughly ten hookers per street. Assuming they each work 40 hours a week, there should be, on average, 2.3 hookers on every street at any time.

This is, of course, a Good Thing, as it means that there's Competition, which will drive prices down and quality up.

Posted at 21:20 by David Cantrell
keywords: london | media | politics
Permalink | 2 Comments
Fri, 19 Jan 2007

Racism on the telly

Sherpa Shitty, famous for
being a piece of plastic
Apparently there is a television programme called "Big Brother", one of the requirements for appearing on which is being exceedingly stupid. There's a furore because one of the stupid people is supposed to have made some nasty racist comments about another of the stupid people. Not entirely unexpected, when you consider that the programme has the same requirements as being a racist does. Anyway, the victim is pictured here. I hope you don't think I'm racist for pointing out that she looks like a plastic doll.

Posted at 22:44 by David Cantrell
keywords: media | politics
Permalink | 0 Comments
Wed, 1 Nov 2006

Best. Restaurant review. EVAH.

My favourite restaurant review ever is here. Sadly, the ghastly chain, whose only customers are indeed foreign tourists who don't know any better (although on the plus side, perhaps they'll be so revolted that they never come back to my glorious city) has not had the good manners to go out of business as the reviewer thought it was back in 2002.

Posted at 19:29 by David Cantrell
keywords: media | rant
Permalink | 0 Comments