Archive for December, 2009

Loud Music: EU Treating the Symptoms, Not the Disease

I see on the BBC that the European Union nanny-state wants to limit the volume levels of portable music players so as to protect the hearing of today’s youth. This is slightly embarrassing, as they already passed just such a law several years ago, and now apparently feel the need to be even more restrictive.

Aside from my philosophical objections to this sort of busy-body protect-you-from-yourself nannying, I believe that the whole idea is fundamentally flawed and even, dare I say, retarded? Yes, I think I dare…
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on December 15th, 2009 | No Comments »

Interesting FBI Priorities

Recently, I waded through the fiscal year 2010 budget request/justification documents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which for the most part are about as unexciting as you might expect. A couple of things, however, stood out as kind of interesting and worthy of discussion, so I thought I’d go over them here.

Part of the budget documents include performance metrics that the Bureau have assigned to themselves; they then annually grade themselves on how well they’re doing. I’m honestly not clear why this is the case, unless – however cynical it might be – they’re there just to make the Bureau “look good” and successful come budget-request time.
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on December 14th, 2009 | No Comments »

Who Needs Message When You’ve Got Medium?

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) some time ago, it seems, altered its high-definition (HD) television (TV) standards, so that instead of broadcasting at ~15Mbps bitrate, they’re now broadcasting at something more like 9Mbps. The BBC insist that the current picture quality is every bit as good as the previous incarnation. A small but extremely vocal group of viewers disagree… at length.

Their outraged hyperbole is quite amusing – some have gone so far as to compare the BBC’s current HD TV picture quality to “LP VHS” cassettes, which is more than a bit daft. Many seem convinced that any reduction in any quantifiable unit of measurement (i.e. bandwidth) must be a bad thing, regardless of whether they can actually spot a difference or not. And some others appear to just be grumpy curmudgeons who like to whinge on about how things aren’t as good as they used to be, and bitrates and encodings and so on are all moot because the Beeb hasn’t produced anything worth watching in years, anyway. (Whether these grumpy chaps actually have HD televisions, I have no idea – standard-def was surely good enough in their happy, Cold War-era youth, yes?)
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Published in: General | on December 10th, 2009 | 2 Comments »

I Iz Pootie (And I Needs to Haz Luvs)

I iz teh Sunz,
I iz teh Earth,
all the cuteness dat is criminally awsum.
And sumtimes youse
iz nothings in partikular.

You shutz your mouth!
How can you sez I
cares about things my own ways?
I iz pootie and I needs to haz luvs…
just like everybody else has.

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Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 9th, 2009 | No Comments »

Kwik Hits

Random interesting things I’ve spotted recently:

Oh no, alert the media, someone stole two flags from atop a vacant brewery. Any local urban explorers want to fess up to this heinous crime?

Pravda has an interesting article about the illegal arms trade here. I guess, being an American, I can’t help but be amused by the oh-so-terrifying haul of weapons recently recovered in Dagestan, according to the article: “six hand-built guns with mufflers, a TT-type gun, four Nagan revolvers, a Margolina pistol, a submachine gun, and an 8 mm foreign-built gun”. That’s six homemade zip guns with homemade silencers, a Tokarev semi-auto pistol, four 100-year-old revolvers, a .22 target pistol, some sort of “submachine gun”, and what is almost certainly a Mauser bolt-action rifle. I don’t know what the submachine gun was, but the Tokarev is really the only other seriously credible weapon in that group. When you consider the average multi-gun haul in the U.S. probably includes at lease one AR-15, SKS, or Kalashnikov, it’s hard to get excited about these personal museum collections…
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Published in: Geekiness, General, Urban Exploration | on December 8th, 2009 | No Comments »