Dangerous gaming peripherals

Wired is running an article on the 10 Gaming Gadgets That Will Make Us Hurt Ourselves. I’m seriously hoping that some of these don’t make it past the prototype stage. Just look at the Wii 8-in-one weapons bundle. That shit shouldn’t be going anywhere near a child’s hands!

That being said, when I first saw the article’s title, I thought it would be a list of peripherals that had already caused damage. I mean, as much as I love Rock Band and Guitar Hero, I get serious amounts of RSI from extended shredding, and people complain about the muscle pain from the drum’s kick pedal.

And everyone remembers the dangers that the Wii-mote introduced us to when it hit the market.

Music Industry vs Music Games

Wired.com is running an essay on the music industry’s beef with music simulation games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. In some ways, it’s like listening to a broken record: old business hasn’t anticipated how the times are a-changin’ and starts whining about not having a big enough cut of the proceeds.

They’ve done it with Apple and the ITMS, they’re doing illegal things  to hinder file swapping, and they’re doing very little to be innovative and stay ahead of the game. What they don’t seem to realise is that if they weren’t stuck in this orthodoxy of the plastic disc, they could be inventing new distribution channels like games and ringtones and online file distribution.

One fact jumped straight off my monitor and burned into my brain when I read the article:

Music games are proven earners—Aerosmith has reportedly earned more from Guitar Hero : Aerosmith than from any single album in the band’s history.

Wow! Aerosmith is one of the biggest rock bands in history, and they make more money off a game? It’s obvious this could be used as a fantastic promotional tool, but it can also help revitalise bands.

Due to the last couple years of music games, I’ve (re)discovered music and bands I haven’t given a thought to in over a decade. I’ve spent money on them. Even if the label gets a relatively small cut from the game, it gets much more from my track purchase.

I would hate to be working for such an introverted, conservative company. It would frustrate me to think that my employer behaved like a spoiled brat who wanted credit every time somebody came up with a better idea.

Why no perspective?

According to Wired, there is a group of Heath Ledger fans demanding a moratorium on big-screen portrayals of everybody’s favourite clown. According to the article:

“We truly believe Ledger’s performance as Joker is the best an actor could ever do,” the site’s team leader, Fer Barbella, told Wired.com in an e-mail interview.

“Any other performance will be below expectations for sure, so we want to forever keep Ledger’s Joker as the one,” added Barbella, who launched The Ultimate Joker site last week with his colleague Nico Pimentel.

Now, I admit I had a good time with The Dark Knight, but I honestly believe that if Ledger gets an Oscar for his performance, it’ll mostly be a sympathy vote. That Joker was edgy, and anarchic, and vicious, and very very disturbing. But worthy of an Academy award? Hardly.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, can we look objectively at the demands of these obsessed fans? They are requiring that one of the staple villains of the Batman canon be taken off the big screen. Never mind that Ledger needed a script and a director to perform off. Never mind that the Joker can (and has been) written and performed a whole bunch of different ways, and there will be more to come.

Sure, the current fad in comic book movies is for Dark and Gritty(tm), and this calls for an inhumanly intense and bipolar Joker, doesn’t mean the next time round it will be the same. Or that it won’t be better. Ledger doesn’t have a monopoly on that character, and other actors shouldn’t be denied a chance to try it out.

Maybe I’m just getting worked up over nothing, but Ledger was nothing special, and just because he took too many pills, doesn’t mean we should claim him to be some sort of shining light in Hollywood.

Dodging bullets with Carbon Copy Cloner

Carbon Copy ClonerLike many users, I make mistakes when working with my computer. Some of them are easy to recover from (the Undo command is made more powerful every day). Some are not, like when you’re trying to clean up hard drive space with the Unix ‘find’ command. Let’s just say that you should always use the ‘-print0’ flag when trying to run ‘find’ results through ‘rm’.

Anyway, due to some major carelessness, I managed to delete a large chunk of my iTunes music library. Not good, particularly when I’m not even sure how I got some of those rare mp3s in the first place. Fortunately, I am a regular user of Carbon Copy Cloner by Bombich Software.

This nifty bit of Mac donationware keeps me alive with a bootable backup of my entire harddrive on an external USB drive. One of the main selling points of CCC is that it preserves metadata. This is very important because a lot of software (including the operating system) need this metadata in order to function correctly. It can also do backup schedules, incremental backups, and a host of other nifty options.

For those of you not currently backing up your software, I highly recommend the practice. For those of you who are looking for a good backup product for the Mac, I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner. It’s donationware, and regularly maintained.

The great firewall of Australia

I’ve stayed generally clear of commenting on my democratically elected government’s plan to slow down censor the internet. After all, the majority of the Australian voting population put their ballots in and chose them for the next four (if not eight) years. They must want their already substandard broadband connections further choked by mandatory filters put in place and regulated by the lowest common denominator standards that already govern books, movies, music, and video games.

Fine, I guess. They are idiots, but I’m all for rule of the people, and that’s what they want.

But now they’re planning to scan P2P sharing as well. I’m aware that the majority of consumer internet traffic is P2P, and that the majority of P2P traffic is illegal, but this really says to me that my government – which is supposed to uphold rights and freedoms like Privacy – is more interested in monitoring every little thing I do on the internet for illegal activity. It’s like I’m presumed guilty and have to prove my innocence. If a government agency wants to monitor who I talk to on the phone or intercept my mail, they have to apply for a warrant. Why should it be any different?

Also, if this is being done “to protect the children”, then who gets to make that call? I agree that there are things out there that children should not have access to. In some ways, I’m more conservative than most, but I still assert that it is the parent’s responsibility to be actively involved. There are plenty of good commercial filters available for installation on your home PC. But you shouldn’t leave it up to automation. Go out, do some research, talk to your kids about what is and isn’t acceptable, and why.

If adults want to abdicate their responsibilities as parents, then perhaps they should ask themselves why they are parents in the first place. But that’s for another rant, and not for this blog.

Anyway, I realise that this sort of debate is often quite polarising. Can you think of a rational reason why state-sponsored censorship would be a good thing?