Globalise Resistance

To many people, globalisation spells the end of freedom. These people don’t exist in the eyes of governments, corporations, huge companies or bankers. These people don’t even reside solely in the countries used by aforementioned controllers as slave labour. Some live in developed countries, feeling choked by the constant consumerism and the endless struggle to dress the best, own the best stuff or in general be the best. They obviously haven’t ever joined the army – I doubt it’s ever crossed their mind. Then there are the Others. The Others that are forced to work making clothes for Primark, Nike and Topshop for 18 hours a day (on a short shift) earning 10p every 2 hours. These people clearly get the lesser end of the deal, and they certainly can’t understand what makes their lives so much less important than those half the world away willing to turn a blind eye to all of this. There are some of these “more important” people, however, who open their eyes to how their fellow human beings are treated in the name of fashion and trends. These people realise what’s gone wrong, and think in what is described as a “leftist” way when they try to do something about it. These people, in my opinion at least, simply think in an empathetic way, and actually try to take into account all sides of the story before judging. That’s not to say they’re not biased, of course they are, but the bias with them exists in a way which can only be productive.

In a nutshell, that’s the alternative. The people who choose to or have no choice but to think differently to how you are taught/expected to think. Myself, I’m not quite there, I like to think of myself as somwhere in the grey zone between, an area that is all but inevitable to appear. I don’t support capitalism entirely, but I do like the relative freedom it provides. I would expect others think of me as swayed towards the alternative, but that opens up the whole can of worms about opinions and what the “normal” really is. That, however, is a part of life that no-one can ever fully understand, least of all explain. So I’ll metaphorically drop it and leave it alone, never to touch it again. Probably.

You may be wondering why I’ve gone to all of the trouble to attempt to explain this. Or what benefit it has to you reading this. Well, think of it as an introduction to what I’m about to do. (This post was originally written many moons ago, and was left gathering virtual dust in my drafts box. Seeing as my last published post is on roughly the same topic, I figured now is a good a time as any to share this) I’m going to offer you some digital alternatives to the mainstream, that you may or may not find helpful/useful. The reason for all of this? They’re alternatives that I support/use, and if I convince/convert at least one of you I’ll consider myself a success.

iTunes: You’ve heard of it if you own an iPod, iPhone or iPad. That program that syncs all of your music/videos/games for your mobile benefit. Have you ever noticed though, how restrictive it is? No support for high quality FLAC or open source OGG files, it’s overly simple to use that means it misses out on important customisation features. It doesn’t even like Windows that much, and if you have more than 40GB of music in your collection you’ll really notice how slow it gets when you try and start it up. So much so that I don’t even have it on my PC any more. But I can still sync my iPod. Why is that? Well, I use a program called;
foobar2000 (f2K): Already at a bonus because of it’s interesting name, this program really is the dog’s bollocks of music librarians. Super support for almost any type of music file, super low system resource usage, unbeliveably customisable (to the point where you can rebuild its layout from scratch), and not bad sound quality too, it has to be the best library organiser I’ve ever used. It also has some handy mp3 maintenance tools to let you fix broken files that won’t play or be recognised by another media player. And, it supports iPod. Yes, it will let you sync music (even in non-iPod formats) to the iPod/iPhone in just as simple a fashion as iTunes. Just plug in your iPod, select music to sync, and press Add. It really is just that simple.

My F2K layout. Yours won't look anything like this because it's so customisable

Music: On the topic of your music library, what’s in it? Is it reminiscent of the UK top 40 charts of weeks gone by? I’m not going to ridicule that. It’s not my personal taste as you may have gathered from knowing me or from perusing my previous posts, and I try not to be as elitist as other metalheads. However, if you’re looking for broader sonic horizons, consider some of the albums you can see in the various desktop screenshots scattered around my blog page, and also as the titles of quite a few of my blog posts. (I’ll add that the above screenshot is current as of now, when I’m editing this for publish. This post was also created before I started the metal album title thing, so googling “Globalise Resistance” won’t provide you with a new metal album to listen to, rather links to the homepage of the anti-capitalist organisation of the same name.) I don’t need to tell you that there is a huge Smörgåsbord of metal albums to sample – puns aside, I used that term because Sweden is a rather good place to start in your quest for metal, if you’re interested in looking. Sweden is also where my (and I use this word sparingly) favourite band come from. If there is one band I’ll ever implore you to listen to, it’s the Diablo Swing Orchestra. The band are an acquired taste for sure, but I can only marvel at the compositional genius that goes on in their music, seamlessly blending countless different styles of music together into small pieces of musical brilliance. YouTube has many of their works uploaded for your convenience, so try it out!

I’ve already realised that this has become more of an essay than a blog post, the first one so far to exceed one thousand words, so I might return with more alternative music/videos/programs in another edition at a later date. I might not, the next one may also end up in the drafts bin for a couple of months.
People not profit.

Advertisements

Rust in Peace

This afternoon has been spent doing maintenance on the computer systems the cavern comes from, for a fair amount of the day. It’s changed so much from the boring generic Windows 7 layout into something shiny, faster and more sleek. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the initiative to take a screenshot before, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it didn’t look like this a couple of hours earlier. My computer is rather unorthodox (in that it is an actual desktop computer, for those who’ve only seen them in school and have never used anything other than a laptop at home) and that it has two screens which the mouse cursor can happily float between at will. The two screens are different sizes and so require separate wallpapers and are subsequently split into two screenshots, found below.

the right, larger screen

The right, larger screen

The left, smaller screen

Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is the seemingly large amount of non-wallpaper clutter and a lack of desktop icons. (By the way, the pictures do “click to enlarge” if you’d like to inspect them in greater detail) I like to call the layout Windows 7.5, as it is trying to mimic what Microsoft have said Windows 8 is going to look like when released.

Starting off with the top image, you’ll see it’s filled with loads of orange squares. All of them do something when you roll the mouse over and do something else when you click on them – except the binary clock, which is just a clock. That’s an extremely geeky way of telling the time, but I can tell you that it says the time is 20:51, which should (hopefully) be the time shown in the taskbar on the second image. Nearly all of the tiles contain a description and an icon, and these simply launch the program or folder they describe when clicked on. Rolling over the office icon turns it into a list of Microsoft Office programs to launch with a click. There’s a handy quote at the bottom of the interactive part of the screen, and the multi-function part on the right. This is found below the huge letters saying the day and date, but leaves you guessing at the rest. In the screenshot my chosen RSS feeds are shown. RSS is basically a condensed blog directory for sites you want to stay updated with. (It’s available at the top of this page, if you’re interested 😀 ) The small white squares underneath the text are options to switch to other (sometimes) useful things like a world clock, the weather, system information and the time for those who can’t read binary clocks (I’ll explain them at the end). And that’s pretty much it, a dashboard for all things useful on my PC. The Pirate Bay’s ship is in there casually too.

On the second image, you’ll see the screen is mostly dominated by the melancholic box robot trudging in the rain. But also notice the little black worm in the lower right corner which adds a month to the date with a friendly salutation, and also serves as a time keeper. On the left is a music widget which plugs into my media player of choice, foobar2000 (or F2K for short). I use F2K because it supports iPod which means I don’t have to have iTunes installed (which is a piece of software designed by Satan himself). The widget includes the generic pause/play/skip buttons too for added convenience.

So there you have it: a summary of a couple of hours work this afternoon. If you’d like links to the wallpapers used or Rainmeter (the program used to generate these widgets) then I find Google helps a great deal. I may be willing to help direct you if asked though, I try.

NERDFACTZ2 – Binary Clocks: The aforementioned alternative timepiece is quite an interesting way of telling the time once you know how to use it, and it keeps your brain ticking over too, which is always a plus. Binary clocks are essentially a 4×4  grid (most simply, but they can get more complicated), where the 4 columns represent HH:MM and the 4 rows represent binary numbers 1 (the bottom row), 2, 4 and 8(the top row). See this picture below shamelessly stolen from wikipedia.

Numbers? What numbers!

This picture includes seconds too (for a 6×4 grid), but the idea doesn’t change. For every illuminated light in a column, you add it’s corresponding number to the total for that column’s digit. In this picture, for example, only the light at 1 is lit up in the first column, so 1 is thevalue for HH:MM. In the second column, no lights are lit up so the value for HH:MM is 0. For the third column, the lights at 1 and 2 are lit up, so the value for HH:MM is 3 (2+1). And finally for the fourth column, the lights at 4,2 and 1 are lit up so the value for HH:Mis 7 (4+2+1). Hence, 10:37. I’ll admit, it’s alot more work than necessary to tell the time, but I did find it quite interesting to learn about earlier today.

The time for action has come…and gone

Today marks the deadline for academic productivity. As of now, I no longer need to do any work at all (that’s not strictly true though, you’ll see why). Why is that? Well, today is the date of my last AS Exam. Forever (potentially, if I pass them all). Now all there remains to do is doss around waiting for the 18th August, Judgement Results Day. This day decides your next twelve months, and chooses for you whether you can continue into Year 13, or whether you have to sit Year 12 again. By that I mean the whole year. Like Groundhog day for the unlucky, and for 365 days, not one. (Checking my calendar, 2012 is a leap year so you actually get 366 days to do year 12 stuff. Based on that, it would be acceptable to say that the next year’s exam results should contain few failures as everyone had 24 hours more learning time, courtesy of the universe.

Unlike the original belief, the Sixth formers without exams aren’t free to vegetate until september. Nope, we have now (in Barking and Dagenham, at least) just two days of freedom before being made to return to learning, this time studying A2 subjects as a sort of bonus time extension to Year 13, much like the bonus leap year day. All in all, we do get quite a lot more than your basic nine months of learning time. This means, however, that we do have to (try to) learn dangerously close to the summer holiday. Unfortunately, this is simply a case of biting the proverbial bullet and holding out until July.

In the meantime, especially if you’re a geography student/fan, take a look at these pictures. Link here ->  http://bbc.in/kajrYU   <- Like them? The first couple I think are pretty awesome, that’s a majorly powerful (and impressive) volcano. We’re still on track for the end of the world next year, look out for it 😀

 

Late night thinking…

Is it a bad idea? I can imagine many people have made bad decisions late at night, particularly after several hours consuming alcohol by the keg. I’m not going to shy away from the fact that I, too, have suffered this fate. However, sober pondering is always good in my books, so here’s a mind-spill based on the events of today and this evening.

We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

Those guys. Anonymous. Are you one of them? Am I one of them? It’s quite likely no-one will ever know either way. If you’ve ever seen ‘V for Vendetta’, you’ll have a vague idea about what they look like, if not what they are loosely trying to achieve. They are truly anonymous, that is, you’ll know that they are a member if you see them out in Anonymous uniform, but you’ll never really know who they actually are. An Anonymous purist would have a go at me for even saying that. “Anonymous is not a group of people, rather an idea”, and, as ‘V’ says in ‘V for Vendetta’, “ideas are bulletproof”. Most recently they have been suspected of hacking into PSN (anyone who owns a PS3 reading this, I feel for you but at the same time laugh at you) and stealing account details/personal information and the likes. Besides this, they are famous for DDoS’ing PayPal, Mastercard and Visa’s websites when they stopped services to Wikileaks. (DDoS, by the way, stands for Distributed Denial of Service, where the hackers use computer networks to flood the sites with requests, so many that they can’t deal with them and stop functioning.) If you’re not very IT savvy that’ll never make very much sense, and it’s probably quite boring to talk about it 🙂 .

The point I’m getting at, however, is that Sony, once again have been hacked. But not by Anonymous. Today it was by a group called LulzSecurity (or LulzSec for short). They used “the most basic hacking system” (not my opinion, I don’t understand how to hack) to get at loads of personal information, more than 100million accounts on sonypictures.com. They also published a link for Sony Music coupons to get free music from their site. They released 20,000 of 3.5million coupons, each worth 1 music download on their site. That’s a hell of a lot of money loss if they’re all redeemed. You may be wondering how you can get a hold of these. It has in the space of a few hours been very easy and now very difficult. Quick thinkers have saved copies on their computer of the full 20,000 codes. Those people may be able to help, if you know any of them.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have an account on at least one site on the internet. We hear all the time about improved safety and security on the internet. I personally believe that there isn’t such a thing as a secure internet. Hackers can and do find ways of getting data from even the most secure sites, always. Despite their recent – and very confusing – security upgrades, Facebook is apparently still one of the easiest sites to access personal data and perv over 13 year olds, if you’re that way inclined.  I don’t know that, and I’ll never find out if it is but it only seeks to add to my Facebook hate campaign (see my last post). As a personal experience, I have tried to remove personal information from Facebook, only for it to glitch and deny me my privacy. Hence, anyone who looks at my Facebook page will see a fake phone number (as I could only manage to change it, not delete) and one of my spam e-mail addresses (I have many of those).

Internet privacy, don’t you love the lack of it? Even corporate giants can’t escape the wrath of the neckbearded basement-dwellers. /rant.

OK, that last bit was too much of a stereotype for my liking, it would be very rude and ignorant if I were to assume that all hackers looked like that. I mean, some work for the government, and they certainly don’t employ people who look like that? Either way, I don’t like stereotypes and only use them for their potential humorous value. To keep in line with the hippie theme going on with this blog, with my appearance, and with the stereotype many place upon me, all humans are cool in their own way and stereotypes just create divides. Divides that create tension and destroy peace and harmony.

The clock is just rolling over to midnight, Good morning! It’s Friday June 3rd and it’s going to be an awesome day. Don’t think it is? Make it an awesome day, you’ll never go too far wrong enjoying yourself once in a while. There’s no better day for that than Friday!

mfw it's Friday (and not in a Rebecca Black way)

Hello world!

I kept the default title above. I figured I’d run with it, it has a happy vibe to it.

It does, however, sum up my current feelings. I’ve just created a blog, and I feel a freedom. A freedom to share anything and everything to the world, and it makes me feel exactly like the picture I’ve hopefully attached to this post.

mfw I created this blog

I’m still getting used to this whole idea, and I can’t imagine this will have too much of an audience since I’m starting out here, but to anyone that’s reading, Hello! Thanks for reading my first ramble, of which I hope there is to be many.

I’m fairly certain that most of the people I know (that is, those I talk to on a regular basis and not just facebook “friends”, but those too) probably don’t even know what wordpress is, perhaps stumbling on it during a google images search but only seeing it as a image source and not someone’s literary genius. Perhaps ironically, I found the happy face image from someone else’s blog through a google image search, but I made sure to comment and say thanks. The whole issue of copyright on the image is a complete tangent to the point of this post, but maybe I’ll come back to it at another time.

Facebook, however, is something I will ramble about (Ed: In fact, this has turned into a rant, sorry about that). I very much despise Facebook, and although once I revered it and logged into it every day I do so no longer. I was once the kind of person who would post “pointless statuses” (even though they all do have a point, even if it’s simple like announcing that you’re leaving for work/school/the cinema/the park etc, or that you want to be passively aggressive and make a vague indirect attack at a person only you and those who know you very well will understand) and I would avidly like, comment and post all manner of content that I now see as a waste of cyberspace. There came a time when I became annoyed at Facebook’s ways. I’m not sure whether it was everyone gradually loosing de abiltie 2 $p3ll pr0ply, People Who Needed To Capitalise Every Letter Which Makes Reading It Seem Like You Have A Sort Of Messed Up Tourettes, the awkward moment when everyone and their dog has awkward moments, the people who quote Bob Marley’s famous “Truth is, everyone’s out to hurt you, you just gotta find the one’s worth suffering for” and other “smart” philosophies that have been reposted from a facebook group they’ve just joined, or maybe even just my unwillingness to accept all things mainstream. Maybe even, it was a combination of all of these and more. Hence, see the handy infographic below summing it up. This is why the majority of my social networking time is now spent on Twitter, and maybe now even here.

Of course, above written and below pictured may be taken as an indirect attack on people who do that sort of thing on facebook. Most of those, I imagine, would be far to involved with Facebook to even consider visiting WordPress, let alone this blog.  Unless they/you’ve come from my twitter page (twitter.com/TomHowlin) then I salute you for choosing wisely. WordPress is basically Twitter with an unlimited character limit, image attaching and a more complicated interface. Trust me though, from the 30mins I’ve spent writing this I am already looking forward to posting more.

Check back, you might relate to some of the things that go on here 🙂
(I was inclined to finish with “Peace!” here to keep theme with the psychedelic colours and first sentence, but I’ll let you decide what fits)

You know it's true