Posted by: Farren | 31/05/2015

The Rain

It’s raining outside. A rainstorm is one of the most relaxing things ever invented. Yes, I just said “invented”. The sound of the rain hitting the ground, splashing in the puddles, dripping from the eaves, running from the downspouts…it’s one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. The smell of the wet earth, and the moisture in the air lets you know the world is getting cleaned.

Just sitting and listening to the sound of the water or looking out the window and watching the rain fall, the leaves bounce and drip on the trees has such a calming effect. There’s just something about the rain that even when you’re sad or depressed, it just calms and relaxes you and lets you know things will be okay. That no matter how bad the world gets, the bad will always be washed away and things will look new. Rain is Nature’s way of washing away the world’s troubles.

Posted by: Farren | 25/05/2015

The Internet Generation

A friend on Twitter linked an article yesterday about the difference between “Millennials” and “Generation-X”. Now I was born in 1979, but I feel only a tiny connection to this. I didn’t have a computer until I was a junior in high school. They recommended my parents get me one to help with my schoolwork. They got me a used Apple IIe from one of their patients (dad was an Optometrist), but I don’t remember having Oregon trail amongst the two dozen or so disks that came with it. One of our family friends had a 1990 Apple Classic when I was in middle school and it helped spark my love of computers. I can’t remember the games we played on it other than Tetris, but because it was in the living room of their house, we didn’t get to spend much time with it; only an hour or so.

There was a computer lab in my elementary/middle school that opened when I was in 7th grade. I remember going in there and playing Jeopardy (the most) and other games on the computers there. I can’t remember if they were Apple or IBM (I think they were IBM), but I do remember the big 5.25 floppy disks that we’d put into the drives to make things work. We were also introduced to programming. I didn’t understand it, but I thought it was cool typing in the commands that were written on a piece of paper next to the computer. It was “BRUN” followed by a long list of strange commands. The resulting imagery was something like the “Ribbons” screensaver from the Windows OS through Windows XP.

In high school, we had a computer lab, too of course filled with Apples from the mid 90’s. My junior year I was introduced to it for my English class. It was awesome and I fell in love with computers during that time. I spent the next two years playing games on those machines. I did a little schoolwork like I was supposed to, but my junior year English teacher didn’t really mind that we were mostly playing. I was fascinated with the computer and thought it was the greatest thing ever. I wasn’t even on the internet, and I couldn’t get enough.

Then my parents got a computer at our house. It was mostly for them for their business, but they let my sister and I use it. They got AOL, and that was the beginning of the end: The Internet was before me. I created an account and went online. I poked around in the chat rooms, watching people talk to one another, and talking to some myself. I made a few friends in the beginning, but my time on the computer was limited. It belonged to my parents, after all. So I took matters into my own hands and built my own computer. Oh the joys of Windows 95. Still I was sharing the family’s phone line, so I got my own. Now with my own computer and my own phone line, I had more control of my time online. I spent more time in chat rooms and made more friends. But they didn’t last. I never kept contact with the people I met in the rooms I visited, the one I created, or the IMs we exchanged. That lasted about six years.

In 2001 I fell off the grid. Life happened and I wasn’t online anymore. I still had my email accounts, but I never exchanged my address with anyone I had met. It would be about a year and a half before I was back online. I never went to college, so I didn’t know about Napster until it was too late for me. By the time I was back online, Napster’s time was almost at an end. My friends that I had met on AOL introduced me to LimeWire and FrostWire, and that’s where I built my music collection. Looking back, it’s a wonder I didn’t get a computer riddled with viruses. When I came back online, Myspace was the big thing to have. The new world of Social Media was born and I decided to join it. I created a page for myself, but never really did anything with it. I didn’t really make any friends, or spend much time on it. Surprisingly, it’s still up. Thankfully, I didn’t get into Facebook…and I still refuse to.

I’m on Twitter, and I have a Google+ account, but I don’t really have any friends. I’ve been in chat rooms on IRC and I’m in some forums, but I don’t feel the connection with people that the others do. It seems like I somehow missed that part of my life where I learned how to make friends. I don’t feel the connection that other people my age do to others and technology. I never learned much about computers or programming because I was without a computer or personal connections for three years. It would still be another couple before I was really online, and even now it feels like I’m late to the party and that I just don’t belong. I seem to have missed the whole Internet Revolution.

Posted by: Farren | 26/03/2015

Truth In Advertising

Jenn and I have been without internet and cable for about four years now. We’ve survived pretty well tethering to our phones for internet, but we do miss the speed of a real connection. Now as for the cable, well, I’ve been downloading the shows and movies we watch.

Now downloading has gotten slightly more difficult as authorities shutdown torrenting sites, but there are still plenty out there, and I don’t think they’ll ever really go away. However, the DMCA and its supporters in Hollywood and Cable companies are very adamant about people not downloading their properties. The focus of this little piece is actually about TV shows that are downloaded/streamed illegally.

I’m wiling to bet that most of the takedown requests facing torrenting sites come from the Cable companies. Most of you probably think that it’s because it’s taking viewership away from the channels, which brings down Nielsen ratings of TV shows. The Cable companies like to say that it’s copyright infringement. It is, technically copyright infringement, but what is the difference between watching a show that a friend/relative recorded with their DVR at their house and watching a show that you downloaded from the internet? Both shows have been recorded by someone else, and neither are being viewed for profit or by the public. The majority of the time, downloaded shows are used for private viewing in the home of the downloader. So what’s the big deal?

Jenn and I had to move out of our apartment five weeks ago because of water damage. One of her sister’s friends has rental properties on a beach and was kind enough to let us stay in one for a very small rate until we can get back home. This little cottage has Cable so we can actually watch our shows when they air. We’ve done it a few times…and Jenn doesn’t like it. She hates having to sit through the commercials. Being already exhausted from the stress of not being in our own home, having to travel an hour each way for work, and just the stress of the job itself, she tends to fall asleep early (she’s out by 9:30PM). Having to sit through commercials makes it even worse for her (since she’s already stretched out on the couch), she’ll just close her eyes until the show comes back on. Sometimes she starts to fall asleep, so I have to nudge her awake.

Now what does this have to do with torrenting and torrent site takedowns? Well, the answer is advertising. When Jenn complained a week or so ago about having to sit through commercials, it got me thinking that it’s the advertisers who are really loosing when people torrent shows. The only real difference between torrenting and recording is with torrenting, you get the show without the commercials. Advertisers spend millions of dollars per year hoping to get their products seen by the public when they’re watching TV. They know people tend to change the channel when commercials come on, but they still manage to get their messages and products out there for people to see. Even streaming sites like Hulu, YouTube, and the channel’s websites themselves (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, et al) have commercial breaks during their shows.

Yes, I know that the advertisers pay the networks to show their products so the cable networks will lose money if everyone resorts to downloading their shows. Websites are using targeted ads more and more these days, so even the network sites and streaming sites are getting inundated with banners, pop-ups, and other ways to get you to see ads. This article from Wired is showing even more how much advertisers are trying to get people to buy things. With this approach, advertisers save money by targeting ads at people, rather than just throwing ads against viewers and seeing what sticks.

So really, the rage against torrenting sites and downloading TV shows isn’t so much about copyright infringement as it is more about advertisers and media companies losing revenue because people aren’t seeing advertisements. I guess you could say it’s all about truth in advertising.

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