Video games are clearly an entry drug

I love the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). They protect me and my family from developing expensive heroin and ice addictions; because everyone knows that video games are clearly a gateway to a life of violence and heavy drug use.

In the interest of protecting Australia from the ruthless thread of animated pixels, Fallout 3, is the most recent game to suffer the mighty wrath of the OFLC; being denied a rating, and thus effectively banning it in Australia. GameSpot AU, broke the news only a few days ago:

Rumours were swirling late last week that Australia’s strict games classification regime had struck its highest-profile victim for 2008, with Fallout 3 apparently being refused a rating. It seems the rumours were true, with confirmation coming tonight that Bethesda’s upcoming postapocalyptic action RPG has indeed been banned for sale in Australia.

So don’t worry folks. The temptation to inject yourself in the arm with someone else’s needle because you’re unable to tell the difference between a post-apocalyptic digital fantasy land and reality is now gone.

Initially the news was just an industry rumor, as it’s not the first time a video game has come under fire in Australia because our leaders lack the intelligence to add an R18+ rating for video games, despite the fact that other media has it. GameSpot AU later updated their post, confirming our fears:

Upcoming Bethesda game refused classification Down Under by ratings body; OFLC report confirms banning is due to showing positive effects of in-game drug use.

I think Jeremy from the An Onymous Lefty blog, sums it up perfectly:

Still, thank God the Board has been forced to apply the Government’s stupidly inconsistent legislation in such a ridiculous way to this major game – maybe this will finally prompt enough outrage from the industry that they will push harder for change. Perhaps this will be the final straw, and idiot SA Attorney General Michael Atkinson will no longer be able to prevent the other AGs from the common sense approach of treating games like any other media that adults enjoy, by implementing an R18 rating.

you can read the whole post here; I highly recommend reading it because its hilarious much like Michael Atkinson’s response to a constituent, arguing “That if you have an R18 classification system, children will get access to that material anyway.”
Perhaps someone should explain the interwebs to him?

The Internet Goes "Pop"

Just when you think the sky isn’t going to fall on your head, it turns out it is!

The flaw would be a boon for “phishing” cons that involve leading people to imitation web pages of businesses such as bank or credit card companies to trick them into disclosing account numbers, passwords and other information.

Attackers could use the vulnerability to route internet users wherever they wanted no matter what website address was typed into a web browser.

But what amazes me about this is the fact that it’s been like this for so long and no-one has noticed. It’s not like the Internet has changed much since its initial incantation.

Oh, well, lets hope that the boffins get this fixed ASAP before I unwittingly visit and some 14 year old pimple faced geek who’s life-long ambition is to give Jar-Jar Binks a blow job; can buy an iPhone 3G on me!


So on the advice of ReadWriteWeb, I downloaded and installed the new Twitter client, TweetDeck. On the surface I was very impressed, and if I had a dual screen setup it would be really good. It has some nifty little features, such as being able to group users into dedicated columns, and apart from allowing you to view your direct messages (sent and received) is pretty much what you would expect from an AIR-based Twitter application.

But there-in lies the problem; its really at heart, just another Twitter client. There is nothing outwardly special about it. No way to add rich media links to tweets and, frankly, nothing much that Snitter didn’t have months ago.

These days, with the plethora of Twitter applications out there, a Twitter app needs something special – and “edge” that TweetDeck simply doesn’t have (yet!). But if the founder(s) are smart, they’ll take on as much user advice as they can, and hopefully it will get there.

TweetDeck Screenshot

Ok, So it turns out that it DOES do DMs, but it puts them in the “replies” section, and while I can see why they did it, it wasn’t the behavior I expected.

Card Counting

From the Official Google Blog, comes this little gem:

Late one night in the summer of 2000, I found myself answering user support emails in response to two new features we had just released, Advanced Search and Preferences (at the time catchily called “Language, Display, and Filtering Options” :)). Busy crafting answers about how to set Safesearch or change the number of results offered by default, I worked my way through the email queue. And then I saw it: The next email had just a number (“37”) in the subject – and no message text. What a weird form of spam, I thought. Why would anyone be motivated to just send a number? I searched for the user’s email address to see what else had been sent. Interesting. Lots of numbers: 33, 53, and then a clue: “61, getting a bit heavy, aren’t we?” Furthermore, the date on each of the messages seemed very familiar. Then I realized that’s because the dates were all days that I had launched various changes on the homepage. “Getting a bit heavy?” – that one did correspond to one of the wordiest homepage releases we had ever done. Could the sender be counting words? Sure enough, I looked back, counted the words myself, and he was – a manual, human version of a scale for the Google homepage. He was weighing our homepage and letting us know when it was getting too heavy. One of his earliest mails had a note in the body: “What happened to the days of 13?” – referring to the word count on the initial 1999 homepage.

This mystery and its revelation was really interesting because I thought about the homepage, and how to keep it simple, all the time. Yet I hadn’t thought to look at it through this very simple lens: just count the words. The fewer, the better. Ever since that night, this has been our discipline, and everyone who works on the homepage and its design knows the current number: 28. (That’s the word count for the basic page if you are signed out, there’s no promotional line running beneath the search box, you’ve set Google as your homepage and thus don’t get the “Make Google Your Homepage!” link, and you count “©2008 Google” as two words.)

So, today we’re making a homepage change by adding a link to our privacy overview and policies. Google values our users’ privacy first and foremost. Trust is the basis of everything we do, so we want you to be familiar and comfortable with the integrity and care we give your personal data. We added this link both to our homepage and to our results page to make it easier for you to find information about our privacy principles. The new “Privacy” link goes to our Privacy Center, which was revamped earlier this year to be more straightforward and approachable, with videos and a non-legalese overview to make sure you understand in basic terms what Google does, does not, will, and won’t, do in regard to your personal information.

How does privacy relate to homepage word count? Larry and Sergey told me we could only add this to the homepage if we took a word away – keeping the “weight” of the homepage unchanged at 28. Given that the new Privacy link fit best with legal disclaimers on the page, I looked to the copyright line. There, we dropped the word “Google” (realizing it was implied, obviously) and added the new privacy link alongside it.

hehe…nuff said!

YouTube Gets Backhanded By Viacom

In the ongoing copyright litigation between Google and Viacom, a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has ordered Google (PDF) to hand over data on every YouTube user, including username, the associated IP address, and a list of all the the videos that user ever watched.

In this lawsuit, Viacom is seeking more than $1 billion in damages because of alleged copyright violations on YouTube.

(Source: ReadWriteWeb, Frederic Lardinois, July 3, 2008 9:53 AM)

This is truly shocking. England’s Statute of Anne (1710) is widely regarded as the first copyright law. The statute’s full title was “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned.” This statute first accorded exclusive rights to authors (i.e., creators) rather than publishers, and it included protections for consumers of printed work ensuring that publishers could not control their use after sale. It also limited the duration of such exclusive rights to 28 years.

You see, the point is that copyright laws have been bastardized and twisted so much, that instead of protecting the creators of works, they exist (almost solely) to protect the investment of publishers. In fact in many developed nations in the world (most notably the UK and US) lobby groups are pressuring the governments to increase the current cap on copyright from 50 – to 100+ years!

I think that while it’s important for companies to protect their Intellectual Property, copyright is becoming more and more difficult to define; and more importantly, in an age where the barrier to produce new and creative works is so low – the original needs of “copyright” to protect creators is almost needless.

Like many things, I turn to the internet.  It gives me great comfort to know that people can protect and define copyright themselves with a simple little license.txt file outlining the wishes of the author., and I think we have the Open Source community to thank for this.  Creative Commons, under which nearly every blog operates, is an example of this.

But, as far as Viacom lawsuit is concerned – when any company violates the privacy and rights of users, it really pisses me off. What will be next? Google for indexing No I don’t think so, and I think we all know why!

Tikiwiki, Is That All?

Something I like to do in my downtime is to sit back with several friends and do a bit of old fashioned gaming, like our geek forefathers did before us. It’s pretty standard RP’ing, except that, in the age of the read-write web, my friend who typically DMs our games asked me if it would be possible to setup a wiki so that as a group, we can flesh out the details, collaboratively, of the universes in our minds.

So of course, there is MediaWiki; the same wiki engine that powers Wikipedia. But I recently discovered an alternative, TikiCMS.

Tiki CMS (Tikiwiki) is not only a full-featured wiki, content management system and groupware. Its theme management and template system also offer unmatched page design flexibility. While I really dig the themes aspect of Tikiwiki, of the dozens of themes I saw I couldn’t see a single one I’d be happy to use.

I was a little disappointed with the lack of choice, Wikis are not exactly new, I thought their would have been more choice…


As you can see, I’ve upgraded the blog to use WordPress instead of blogger.  While I don’t think that Blogger is quite as “throw-up on myself” as others seem to think; but there is no denying that WordPress really is very very good.

I did copy and paste my blogger posts in, and then AFTER I was finished, I discovered this little gem.  So, if you are holding back to blogger because you are worried about how to migrate your posts, don’t be!