I’m not going back though

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After two embarrassing years—and, with delicious irony, a shorter term than either Gillard or Rudd—that idiot Abbott has finally been kicked to the sidelines where he belongs. Hopefully that brings one of the most disgraceful periods in the history of Australian politics to an end, and the country can once again look to the future and not the past.


I’m a Man of My Word

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I vividly recall that about five years ago that if anyone had even suggested the possibility that Tony Abbott would ever be Prime Minister of Australia they would have been laughed out of the room. He was constantly derided as the conservative Catholic mysogynist idiot who was the laughing stock of the Liberal party, a man who couldn’t open his mouth without exposing his own backward conservative prejudices. Well congratulations Australia, in your desperate need to have someone in power who can take society back to some imaginary conservative 50s wonderland, you’ve voted him in.

Two years ago I vowed I would leave the country if Abbott became PM. Well, it seems I’m a man of my word—I now live in New Zealand and I’m glad to be gone. Australia is a land of swinging voters who can’t see past short-sighted, uncosted election promises and don’t give a hoot about policies that help society and the environment if they in any way affect their own back pockets. This is a man who three years ago though climate change was “absolute crap”. Who thinks “abortion is a tragedy”; who thinks women should be in the home doing housework … oh, just check out some other quotes by this idiot and try not to weep. Australia, you deserve someone like Abbott, frankly. Good luck.


Taking Rights Out Of Copyright

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Copyright

It's been a while since I had a good rant!

As a graphic designer, I certainly understand and appreciate the need for copyright. But when you instigate a copyright system that patently doesn’t work, then ensure that it’s not implemented consistently, and then impose draconian penalties that inconvenience and abuse customers who are doing the right thing, then it’s time to have a good hard look at the system.

Yep, I’m talking about movies. Who hasn’t had their blood boil at being forced to watch an semi-abusive advertisement about copyright violation on a DVD that you paid good money for? Or driven mad by code systems that don’t let you play a movie that an overseas seller happily sold you? The system is a mess, and while copyright abusers happily continue to churn out cheap knock-offs in their millions, the innocent consumer is demonized and inconvenienced.

My current DVD/Blu-ray player is, ostensibly, a universal player. That is, it will play a disc from any world region. The hilarious thing is, this functionality is made as difficult as possible for the user to access. You have to hit a button on the remote and enter a secret four digit code; then a hidden menu appears from which you can change the region code. I mean, for frak’s sake, what is this, a secret decoder ring club for teenage boys? I had to discover this hidden functionality, of course, on the internet, to which I was directed by a representative of the manufacturer on the phone; the entire process felt like a whispered drug deal in the corner of some dingy bar.

Of course, the region resets to the default all the time, so I’m continually forced to do this ridiculous dance every time I play discs I’ve legally purchased from the US or the UK or Australia or whatever. Of course, the studios are happy for you to buy the discs, they just don’t want to make it all easy for you to play them; and when you do, you’ll probably be subject to some non-skippable, high volume abuse about how pirating discs is a crime on a par with murdering old ladies.

Thankfully, things are, at the speed of your average glacier, changing. I’ve noticed a few recent discs have ads that have finally changed tack, actually thanking the viewer for doing the right thing. Well it only took them about ten years to wake up to that bit of basic psychology.

In the meantime, go to any southeast Asian country and you can pick up pirated DVDs by the bucketful. Not that I would, as the quality is almost without fail utterly crap, but the point for the studios is, stop zeroing in on the soft targets and hit the people who are actually causing the problem. Or better yet, accept the fact that copyright abuse is a fact of life, and figure it into your multi-million dollar profit margins.

What annoys me is the stupidity of the entire approach; because the bottom line is, if people can get content, and play content easily, they will happily pay for it. Make it difficult, expensive, or just plain impossible, and those convenient illegal methods start to look a hell of a lot more enticing.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that AppleTV doesn’t make TV shows available for rental or purchase in NZ because SkyTV have locked down the local distribution deals. Or that you have to re-download all your iOS apps when you move to another country. We’re all happily paying for content that isn’t actually ours, and is subject to a ridiculous multiplicity of out-of-date national copyright laws that have hardly woken up to the fact that there is an internet, let alone been flexible enough to accommodate it.

I’m sure one day society will look back on the growing pains of the international content delivery system and laugh at the poor chumps who had to put up with them. Unfortunately, I realize more and more each day that ours is the generation that must endure the early, faltering steps of the digital revolution. Probably just as I shuffle off this mortal coil it will all start working properly…


For the Love of .. WHY?

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People just blow me away with their complete lack of grey matter sometimes. I’m sitting here trying to work when two vans pull up outside my house and proceed to sit there for ten minutes, with their engines running, while the two drivers have a loud conversation over the noise. I mean … splutterwhy? Is it really so difficult to turn your engine off, then turn it on again when you leave? This seems to be some epidemic amongst tradies, who often stop in our cul-de-sac to have lunch or a chat. For some inexplicable reason they seem unable to do without the soothing sound of their own car engines for five minutes. The noise … the pollution … the waste … the complete pointlessness and thoughtlessness…

Whhhyyyyyyy???!!!!


No Junk

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If there’s one thing I hate it’s junk mail. Why society hasn’t passed a law forever banning all this waste of paper and resources is a complete mystery to me, but in the meantime, wads of paper litter our street and our mailboxes. In the interest of reducing the flood, here’s my new No Junk Mail sign. Click on the image for a large version you can print, laminate and stick on your mailbox!


I Don’t *LIKE* to Share

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I don’t have, and never will have, a Facebook account. I don’t Twitter. I don’t Digg anything. MySpace is my office here at home where I do my work. I think most of the stuff on YouTube is puerile and the comments are even worse. I don’t want to subscribe to your channel, I don’t ‘like’ you and I don’t want to be your ‘friend’, because I don’t know you yet. I certainly don’t want to be a ‘friend’ of some bloody corporation. I have no interest in telling anyone where I am during the day on Foursquare. I have a Linkedin account because I was told it would help me get work but it just appears to be a the professional equivalent of Facebook—a waste of time.

I do have a blog, obviously…

The world is going nuts over social media, and it bores me to tears. It’s 98% forgettable dross to 2% interesting and worth remembering, and everyone’s all so desperate to be an individual that no one’s an individual anymore (“I’m not!”). The large proportion of human interaction is rapidly becoming analogous to those unfunny ‘joke’ emails that idiots pass on to everyone on their emailing list.

If you do want to sit down, have a beer and talk about something interesting face to face, well then that sounds like a good way to spend some time.

This grumpy rant was inspired by this horrible video that I stumbled across recently. It made me gag. It was was also inspired by the thought that I suppose I should put one of those damn Share buttons on my blog posts.


Tim Minchin = Genius

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Sick of the rip-off

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A friend sent me this information about the upgrade prices for Adobe’s Creative Suite. In the US the upgrade prices from CS4 are (as listed on macworld.com):

Design Standard : $499
Design, Web and Production Premium: $599
Master Collection: $899

Here the upgrade prices are (in AU$, ex GST):
Design Standard: $762
Design, Web and Production Premium: $912
Master Collection: $1366

Our dollar is trading at US93c today. This should mean prices of:
Design Standard: $537 (a difference of $225, or 42%)
Design, Web and Production Premium: $644 (a difference of $278 or 43%)
Master Collection: $967 (a difference of $399 or 41%)

There is zero excuse for this kind of naked profiteering these days; especially when you get absolutely nothing extra in the ‘box’—no manual, nothing. Make the damn upgrade available via download, and stop the bastards skimming money off the deal at our expense. I won’t be spending an extra $400 for absolutely nothing.

Anyway, what do you get in an Adobe upgrade these days? A few more useless filters you didn’t know you needed, and another unfulfilled promise of speed and reliability we should have got five upgrades ago.

I’ve been using Adobe apps since 1989, and I wholeheartedly agree with Steve Jobs: Adobe is lazy.


I hate dogs

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Yep, there you are, I’ve said it. I hate dogs. Can’t stand them. They drive me nuts, and their stupid owners drive me even more insane. I suppose dogs can’t help being what they are—they can’t help being stupid enough to bark all hours of the day and night at nothing, in an endless repetitive, sanity-destroying way. It’s not their fault that some complete fucking idiot bought them and then shoved them in an inner-city backyard for 23 hours a day. I understand that. But I still hate ’em.

I had no real opinion about dogs one way or the other until I started working from home in inner-city Sydney. Then, slowly and surely, my opinion of them began to turn. I had to endure what so many of the dog owners don’t, which is the endless fucking barking of bored and stressed dogs with nothing to do all day. The owner comes home after work and they’re greeted by their loving doggy companion, but they’re blissfully unaware of the stress and grief their furry friend has caused the whole neighbourhood. And it’s just not people like me, working from home—what about old and retired people who stay at home during the day? Or disabled people? Who speaks for all of us, forced to listen to the same mind-shattering repetitive noise over and over and over for hours and hours?

Not the councils, that’s for sure. The advice from our esteemed council usually begins with ‘have a friendly chat with your neighbour about their dog’. Are they fucking serious? Do they have no concept whatsoever of the lengths to which people will go to deny any possibility of wrongdoing on the part of their beloved pet? You might as call into account the way they bring up their children. People have been shot—and I am not exaggerating. Shot. I politely tried to talk in a civilised fashion with someone about their barking dog once. I was verbally abused and threatened.

The next piece of advice is to get a petition together. Yep, walk around your neighbourhood getting people’s signatures about someone’s barking dog. I need hardly explain the possible consequences of such an activity. You as well paint a big target on your back.

So instead of the person who isn’t taking care of their pet properly having to take responsibility, the onus is completely on the poor people who are quietly going about their day to day lives without inflicting stress and anger on their neighbours. This is wrong folks, wrong. I should be able to call a council hotline and have professionals visit the owner’s house to inform them that there have been complaints about their dog and they have come to check on the dog’s living conditions.

There’s a yappy horror a few doors down, that has been barking its head off for the last four years. Likewise, another large dog that barks in an endless two-bark pattern at all hours. We have a shopping centre nearby where people leave their dogs to bark hysterically for hours while they go shopping. There’s one there that I can instantly recognise—it barks in short, vicious bursts that I can clearly hear even with the doors closed, a street away. I’ve seen it jump into the air everytime it barks. The owner has left it tied up there for hours, at least twice a week, for the last four years, and no one has ever done anything about it. A year ago I suggested to the shopping centre management that someone should talk to the owner. They treated me like a complete loony.

People buy dogs with no understanding whatsoever of the responsibility they are taking on, and everyone around them suffers. They apologise for them to the most unbelievable degree, even when they’ve just chewed some innocent kid’s face off. Amazingly, they seem to be completely deaf to the mindless noise from their pet, even when they’re at home at night and it’s still going off at top volume. And most incredibly of all, not the smallest iota of awareness, let alone guilt, floats through their tiny minds while their animal is driving neighbours to seriously consider selling up and moving.

Personally, I don’t think anyone with a yard of less than a prescribed size, and who hasn’t attended a comprehensive course on dog care, should be allowed to own one. Dogs should be on large properties where they can run around, and where their attentive owners know how to take care of them properly and keep them happy—and not barking.

OK, I don’t really hate dogs. I’ve met some nice ones, even though they do tend to be dumb and slobbery and smelly. I can think of one I even like. Just do me a favour. If you own one, don’t inflict it on your neighbours, OK? Take care of it, teach it not to bark, train it to be sociable, walk it twice a day. You’ve taken on a big responsibility. Remember not all of us love your dog.

PS: Since I wrote this a few days ago, across the street, yet another inconsiderate dog owner has moved in bringing with them yet another big barking dog.


Modern Parenting

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Overheard down at the shopping centre this morning—exhausted mother in a voice with no authority whatsoever to her sulky young boy walking around in a public garden trampling plants:

“Alright, I’ll give you anything you want if you come out of there.”


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