Weak at the knees

This is seriously the coolest thing ever!!!! Imagine the applications for this!

(You might want to skip directly to the middle to aviod the interesting but slightly dry description of how it works, to the bit where you see it in action).


And just to prove the it’s not the entirety of the catholic church which is stuck in the dark ages (merely the pope), an italian Jesuit magazine recently ran an article about how virtual online worlds should be considered “mission worlds”, in as much as that there are people in them who may wish for some spiritual input, and the church and it’s followers should consider entering them to provide for the spiritual needs of the inhabitants. I imagine it would work better in Second life than it would in world of warcraft, but I can still image the possibility…

Coming soon to a MMOPG world near you: Virtual god botherers (“I’d like to trade you for that +3 Battle Axe,  oh, and can I talk to you about Jesus?…” 🙂 )

The flourishing of wands

On thursday I went with Simone and two of our friends Margaret and Prue to see the new Harry Potter movie.

It was good, although having recently re-read the book as some light bedtime reading I found it a bit frustrating how much of the good stuff in the book they had to cut in order to fit it into the 2 1/2 hours. This phenomenon is becoming more and more prominent (and, in my opinion, problematic) as they get further and further through the series. Harry is also starting to look disconcertingly old, and perhaps more incongrously, buff for the character he’s supposed to be portraying.

Still, I enjoyed it overall, and it’s only a short while until the next book comes out (with recent suggestions in the media that JKR may not be as averse to writing more Harry Potter books in the future (contrary to her previous assertions that there would only be 7)).

I also saw the other day that they’ve released the companion game for the Order of the Phoenix movie, and one of the flavours it comes in is for the Wii. This is cool, because it would appear that part of the game is that you use the Wiimote as a wand to cast spells. I must say I’m looking forward to wingarduim leviosa’ing stuff, and perhaps even Reducto’ing a few things. 🙂

Cheers big ears

For those geeks of you out there, here’s something that’s sure to appeal to you:

An online partially visual version of the old hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy game (which if you’ve ever played the old text only version (which I think may be available at Home of the Underdogs), you will know to be spectacularly, amusingly frustrating. In fact I don’t think the adjective frustrating really adequately does justice to how entertainingly infuriating it can be at points. Anyway)

Suburban insecurity

One of the things I have noticed in our house, parked as it is in the middle of suburbia, is the preponderance of wireless networks in our area.

Not only do we have good reception on our own wireless modem, we can see at least 4 others depending on where you are standing in the house.

This says something quite interesting about the extent to which networking hardware and fast broadband internet connections have become mainstream technologies.

The other thing that this has illustrated is that you can make technology simple and accessable, but as much as you spell it out in the installation instructions you can’t make make people take security seriously. Of those wireless networks I mentioned, only 2 had any form of security set up on them. The others were open for anyone to see/use/access/hack. I imagine that it simple constitutes ignorance on the part of the owners, but if they knew how much a person parked outside their house could access, I think they’d be pretty disturbed.

Bye bye DRM

Arguments against digital rights management (DRM) systems frequently claim that they inconvenience legitimate customers, while not offering the media owners any real protection because those who want to get around the protection will do so (usually sooner rather than later).

To reinforce this point there have been 2 interesting pieces of news recently.

Firstly someone has shown a way to bypass the content protection on both of the next generation DVD formats (HD-DVD and Blueray). These had been touted as being highly secure so that people could not backup/copy/use in an “unaurthorised manned” the movies they contained, but for all their efforts they are back to where they started, having secured nothing, and inconvenienced legitimate customers (there are frequent reports of people not being able to play HD movies they had legitimately bought, because the DVD’s DRM didn’t consider their hardware setup sufficiently secure).

Next is a report that almost as soon as it had been released, someone has managed to bypass the much vaunted “Protected Media Path” (PMP) within Microsoft’s new Vista operating system. As I understand it, PMP is supposed to stop other programs from listening in on and recording audio and video content between the processor and the speakers or the screen, thus eliminating another way that popular software commonly copies digital media. There are no specific details at the moment of exactly how this hack works, but you can bet that it will either be released shortly, or someone else will take up the challenge and release their method. Between this, several other reported hacks, and a number of viruses already spreading that effect Vista, Microsoft’s “Most secure OS ever” is starting to look not that secure after all.

Want Japanese Music?

Slate has an interesting piece on buying music from iTunes stores other than the one for your specific country.

It uses the example of Japanese songs that you can’t buy through iTunes America, but can buy through itunes Japan (if you live in Japan), mainly it seems because the author has a slightly unhealthy fascination with obscure Japanese pop and rock bands, but that’s neither here nor there.

It ponders why the music companies cannot come up with some arrangement so that you can buy music from overseas iTunes stores (after all, a sale is revenue for them, and denying it decreases their profit and promotes file sharing to get music), and also has some interesting comments on the various ways people routinely work around these restrictions, which is something I hadn’t read about before (apparently you can easily buy legit prepaid iTunes cards for other countries on popular auction websites, and then just buy songs using those).

Interesting read anyway.

Blog login

Recently I have been having a few search engines etc. reference material from my blog, and this has made me a little uncomfortable.

I tend to fairly free express my political and social opinions on my blog, and while I tend to rant I do so in a manner that I feel my readers (by which I mean family and friends) will understand.

Unfortunately the same implied understanding and tolerance cannot be reasonably extended to general members of the public who may stumble upon my blog, and I am aware of the risk of causing offence, or worse, having my privately expressed political or social opinions used against me at some point in the future.

In addition to this I have some photos of things like my Nephew and Niece (and presumably at some point in the future my own chiddlers) on the site, and while their parents are happy with me sharing those photos with my friends and family I think they may have issues (as I certainly do) with leaving this content accessable to everyone.

As such I am currently looking into methods to change the setup of my blog so that you have to register/login to read certain entries, and access certain photos/video. I will post more information as the project progresses.

In the interim if you are a regular reader you can already register as a user, and I can start setting things up so that you will be able to login when I get this up and running shortly.

If you have any questions drop me an email.

Sometime soon I will also write a Privacy Policy to satisfy those of you who are paranoid like me as to what info is needed for registration (just your email address basically) and what I will do with that information once it is submitted (keep it private, not use it for anything).