Off on my jollies

Vous êtes une pomme de terre avec le visage d'un cochon d'inde

Vous êtes une pomme de terre avec le visage d’un cochon d’inde

Well, just one more day of work to go before a fortnight of Not Doing Very Much can begin. Some may argue that I’ve spent much of my life performing that particular activity. I would respond at length to those sort of people but, frankly, it sounds like too much effort.

I will be away from Dante, my self-built PC/Media Server (or ‘rig’ if you prefer that term). Dexter, our cat, will somehow have to cope with not pestering anyone for attention at 4am but will have the run of the place to himself. I expect he’ll have seen all the Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women he can stand by the time we return.

I’m travelling light, with most of my holiday gear being transported in shopping bags. I’m confident this will be good practice should I pursue a career as a hobo. I hear it’s a very equal opportunities workplace with as much holiday time as you want but the options for advancement don’t seem to be very, well, advanced.

I’ll miss our glorious opening of the Oylmpics, where the weather will be perfect, Boris won’t act like some spoon-fed buffoon and G4S will have made good – having checked the sofa and found a few thousand security staff they’d forgotten all about.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hacked off

The headlines both on and offline seem to be increasingly littered with the doings of hackers. These digital rapscallions dashing to and fro, performing acts of daring like some cyberpunk Zorro. It’s all so gosh darn romantic.

Certain readers may have spotted that koffdrop.com itself was hacked recently. Apparently the site was targetted and labelled as an enemy of Pakistan. Now, there’s a good reason why I’ve not declared my views on Pakistan very prominently on my site. That would be because I don’t have any. Since the incident, however, I’m of the opinion that Pakistan has some pretty shoddy and misguided hackers.

Elsewhere, various databases are hacked by more proficient (though equally misguided) hackers and wodges of private data and spilled onto torrent sites. Here and there various hacking groups claim responsibility for such acts. I think that’s a behaviour worth making a mental note of. Can you think of other types of activists who claim responsibility for their incendiary activities? I can.

In gaming circles there is much emotive talk about Geohot and PlayStation 3. The media, fawning buffoons that they are, simply can’t resist the salicious David-versus-Goliath spin on all of this and adding more melodrama to a topic that too many folk are using personal feelings rather than concrete data to draw conclusions from.

Now, amongst the feedback of all of this there are a few principles being hammered out:

  • I bought the PS3. It’s mine. I can do what I like with it
  • The PS3 was targetted due to the removal of the “Other OS” functionality
  • Hackers, GeoHot specifically, do not endorse piracy
  • Hacking does not equal piracy

Let’s review these in a little more detail

I bought the PS3. It’s mine. I can do what I like with it

No, that’s incorrect. Like nearly every single argument where someone starts by saying “I bought X so…” the understanding of ownership is flawed. Arguments based on that flawed understanding are going to be increasingly flawed.

What you bought is a device that provides access to a manufacturer’s technology and services. You own the device, you do not own the technology or service. Furthermore, that access is given to you under specific terms and conditions that you agree to before the device allows you to use it and, further to that, usage of the device typically declares your consent to the terms.

It’s crucial to appreciate the distinction between the device and the technology inside it and the service(s) it provides.

Similar principles are true of software. When you buy a game you have not purchased the software. You have purchased a copy of someone else’s software and a licence to use that copy under specific terms. The software is still owned by the software publisher. The shiny disc is yours, the data on it is not.

Back to hardware. As far as the device is concerned, you can do what you like. Smash it with a hammer and put a video of it on YouTube. Paint it bright pink. The hardware people don’t care. Start fucking about with the technology though, well, that’s a different story. Modifying the technology to work in a way that is not sanctioned by the terms under which you agreed to use it – you’d be the one in the wrong buster, not the guys who own the technology and who sold you the device.

On top of this, consumers get bent out of shape really quickly the moment a company doesn’t maintain their side of an agreement. When consumers decide to break that agreement? Well shee-it, that’s their God-given right dammit! And just because they don’t keep their word doesn’t mean they should lose any perks or benefits. Convenient double-standards at play in that mentality, don’t you think?

The PS3 was targeted due to the removal of the “Other OS” functionality

There’s a number of fallacies at play in this statement. Let’s start with the most glaring by asking what prompted the removal of that functionality in the first place?

Oh, hang about, that would be because it was abused by hackers. It’s funny how they keep that side of things rather quiet when justifying their crusade isn’t it? You hacked it and so it got removed. Now you’re acting like the removal was unfair so you’re hacking things even more. The concepts of cause and effect appear to be lost on these people. Which is a bit odd because hackers are, broadly speaking, pretty smart guys.

OtherOS, as its name suggests, allowed the installation of other operating systems onto the PS3. Notably linux. Now, if you’re looking for a platform to run linux on and you feel that your only choice is a $600 videogames console as opposed to, say, a $500 computer then you’re not going to get very far handling an operating system like linux. For a start, you won’t have a keyboard, let alone the appreciation of using the right tool for the right job. So let’s dispense with the notion that OtherOS provided a crucial service that simply could not be replicated to an equal standard in any other form.

Let’s also dispense with the idea that anybody gave a shit about OtherOS until it was revealed as means to exploit the PS3’s security and tempt greedy gamers with the prospect of pirating games instead of paying for them.

So, in response to the actions of hackers, Sony removed OtherOS with a firmware update. Internet crybabies screamed that their most beloved of PS3 features (that one that they never used but had recently become very interested in) was going to be taken away from them. Of course they did – because people bitch about having something taken away from them, even if they never intended to use it. “But it’s the principle!” they cry. Well, gee, if there’s one thing we know about gamers it’s that they’re people of principle. So long as that principle serves them, that is. Otherwise the rest of the world can fuck off for all they care. But, you know, principles. Principles!

Hackers, GeoHot specifically, do not endorse piracy

That’s so true. Hackers are digital freedom-fighters. Enabling free speech from the evil corrupt closed-nature of the cyber-confines that these monolithic and brooding corporations impose upon helpless citizens.

This is a hacker:

Brazil Article: Hacked Off http://www.koffdrop.com/?p=1070

"FOR LINUX!!!!"

Now, if I were a pacifist I might be against guns. So to prove my point, I’d hack guns so that ammunition of any sort can be made freely available to any gun-owner and I’d broadcast my methods to the world. No, I’m not endorsing unlicensed use of firearms, sir! I’m a pacifist! See, I wrote it on my blog so it must be true. What do you mean by saying my actions contradict my words. I wrote it down on the internet. The internet doesn’t lie!

Sarcasm aside, saying you don’t endorse piracy whilst indirectly yet knowingly enabling a tidal wave of piracy is what is commonly referred to as bullshit.

Once again, let’s remember that hackers are smart geezers. They understand things that would leave most of us baffled. So shrugging their shoulders and acting like they don’t know what they’re not aware of the impact of their actions is spectacularly unconvincing.

Hacking does not equal piracy

Preach on brother!

Yes, lets overlook a huge wave of historical evidence that sets the template for cause and effect and say that hacking doesn’t equal piracy. Of course it doesn’t. Why doesn’t it? Because hackers don’t endorse piracy, didn’t you hear?!

So, OtherOS was around for a few years. The PS3 was unhacked. Folk had the oppurtunity to use a powerful, open console to develop homebrew applications for the benefit of others. Did they? Not really, no.

PS3 gets hacked. Hacking doesn’t equal piracy though, does it? How long did it take for people to start using the hacks to enable pirate copies of software to run on the system? Days.

But that most be coincidence because, you know, hacking brings oppurtunity for betterment, not piracy. There’s no evidence to suggest that piracy follows a hacked system like the papparazzi follow Paris Hilton. Well, nothing aside from every hacked console there’s ever been in the last 25 years. But, you know, that’s not really relevant I guess. Real world facts have no place when you’re preaching a sermon, do they?

And the PS3 has been hacked. So what wondrous benefits to people has it brought other than piracy? Well, there’s been.. erm.. lots of cheating. Yes! See, cheaters can enjoy their games using less skill and ruin the experience for all the people that still play by the rules. Remember folks, gamers are all about principles! What else has hacking enabled other than mass cheating and piracy? Well… some emulators I guess. Whoop dee doo. What about PS2 backwards compatibility – lots of people are asking for that!.. er nah. I guess the hackers aren’t really into that.

Hey, what about reinstating OtherOS functionality? Tellingly.. no.

But, hey, principles!

So when you strip away all the worthless pantomime drama and the greed and the general ignorance at play in all of this you have a fairly transparent behaviour being dressed up as something more than it is. It’s just a script kiddie having a tantrum and wanting attention.

The hackers we have been reading so much about recently are not doing anyone any favours. They are not crusading for the greater good they are merely digital terrorists. When their particular beliefs are not being met they do not communicate like civil people, they hide behind $TuP1D NAME$ and exploit those that aren’t doing things in the manner they want, happily letting innocents get caught up in the crossfire of their narrow-minded antics.

What will happen as a result of this? Systems will become more closed and more secure as a response to this behaviour. Hackers will insist that things should be more open and free, persistently refusing to take their own actions into account and just giving everyone they lash out against good reason to make things more secure and more closed.

Hackers need to drop the pretence and learn how to resolve their issues like civil, mature human beings.

Another facelift

iNove WordPress Theme. Gone but not forgotten

WordPress, how I love thee!

The iNove theme I’ve been running this site with for a considerable amount of time has done a fantastic job. It’s been a decent balance of swishy graphics and open space for lengthy, ranty content. The time has come, however, for a change.

I’d been looking out for something rather spacious and generous with how it presents text. So many sites seem to use teeny-tiny text in cramped spaces. I can understand that you need to keep a lot of supplemental content on major sites, your “Follow me on Twitter” icon, your adverts and so forth.

As for me, I have none of that concern. Just a nice spacious bachelor-pad of a website to lounge around in and do as I wish. Hey, it’s not like anyone ever visits this place directly anyway, right?

The issue I face is that many of the typography-centric WordPress themes were a little too spartan in their design and, more often than not, completely monochromatic. Yes, I could play with the CSS and tweak another’s theme to suit my own ends but I’m not sure I have the energy and I tend to find that if you ever upgrade your modified theme with a new release of the original you have to take care to re-apply your edits. It rather dents the convenience of snap-on, snap-off themes. Even more so given the convenience with which WordPress lets you install, preview and apply them.

So, if you’re reading this in your RSS reader go and have a quick visit to the actual koffdrop.com site. See? I even linked it for you just now. Aren’t I nice? It’s graphics-lite so will load reasonably quickly and I’m sure it’ll add a momentary splash of colour to your day.

And if you’re wondering why anyone should give a hoot about typography then there’s hundreds of designers that’d like to talk to you. But, perhaps a more immediate example will give you an idea of the impact it can wield:

Upgrading

WordPress, the fantastic free software that powers this site has had a major release. I’ll be installing this a little later and there’s a chance that it’ll upset some of the extensions I’m running.

If you’re reading this and the site looks wonky or is running a basic-looking theme it’ll be for compatibility reasons.

No doubt, the strong support that WordPress has from its users and developers will see any incompatible extensions updated to work with the new release fairly shortly.

Thank you for your patience.

This is not an April Fools.

Hibernation

Yes, hibernation is my excuse for the lack of updates this time. I suppose I could play on some religious subtext about coming back from apparent death to create a new post on koffdrop.com and give a sly wink and a nod to Easter but that’d be a bit vulgar so I won’t bother. Ho ho.

Did you know that I’ve been working on a game for a little over twenty-three months? Two years of my life gone! As yet, the game has not been announced but I’m sure the world will learn of it soon enough. I’m genuinely excited by the game. Far more than I ever expected to be. A lot of that comes from the talent and dedication of those that I’m working with. I’m a total fanboy about it all and I feel absolutely no shame. I also think that the game has some genuinely cool stuff going on it it. It justifies itself as a truly next-gen could-not-have-been-done-on-older-machines game too. I’m fantastically lucky to be involved in such a title. There’s nothing more that I can really say about it other than it’s going to be awesome and that everyone should buy themselves a copy or ten.

Generally speaking I’m pretty chipper. I’m sure there’s a long angsty-ridden rant inside of me somewhere but right now I’m feel ok with most things. So, let me bring a few things to your attention.

Firstly – The timeline gizmo in my sidebar. I installed this at the start of my Christmas holiday in 2007. I realised I’d seen lots of movies and played lots of games but not really kept track of anything. This gizmo is actually very detailed and capable but I’ll mainly use it to plot of movies, games and other events. It’s not linked to posts made on this site (although I’m sure some tinkering could make that happen) but it’s pretty groovy nonetheless. Clicking an event opens a bubble with some details. All the movies and games I mark have a brief comment on them and a link where relevant.

To learn more about the timeline gadget, go to it’s site.

Secondly – I’m rather busy these days. Yes, yes, I keep saying that but it’s still true. Work is likely to becoming increasingly hectic/exciting and equally likely to impact on any extra curricular activities I engage in. Particularly those that involve effort. Like updating my website. It’s all good though – I’m having the time of my life.

Thirdly – stuff that I’m interested in at the time of writing:

  • Grand Theft Auto 4 – I became a huge fan of San Andreas and I’m literally counting the days until GTA4’s release.
  • ForumwarzIt’s very silly, quite rude, rather funny and a great lunchtime distraction.
  • Movies – How great is this year going to be? SO GREAT, that’s how great!
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 – I’ve loved all the Metal Gear games, I’m expecting to love this. If you were disappointed by MGS2 then this study of it may make you reconsider.

Finally – not that anyone should really care apart from me but I think I may have dealt with the influx of comment-spam that koffdrop.com was drowning in.

And that’s it for now. All is good. I’m involved in one or two web-projects that are in their infancy but will hopefully turn out to be worthwhile. More on that soon. (ish).

Odds! Ends! Osu!

This will be a shorter post than some of my recent epics and really serves to just give a quick update on some things.

Firstly, following yesterday’s post I recieved some criticism of the final point about using the mentality of “great sales = great game”. It was pointed out to me that this was a twisting of the original message. The correct message would have been to state that, had the games under discussion not been great games then they wouldn’t have sold like they did (we’re primarily talking about Halo here). Which, whilst an easier to swallow mentality is just as flawed as the sales=greatness one. A good game should sell well. However the suggestion that its quality is the driving factor for it’s sales is far too idealistic to be taken seriously – particularly of a game like Halo. This notion is further disproved when you look at the current game charts and see a game that’s scored very average reviews dominating the charts in the way that the Spiderman 3 game is. At the end of this week the poorly reviewed Pirates of the Carribbean 3 tie-in game will be released and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it mimic Spiderman 3’s performance. We have Shrek 3 to look forward to next. A game like Halo benefits precisely from the same status as a film-tie in – it’s profile has been manufactured to be very high indeed. Far higher than the quality of its content. Halo 2 and, of course Halo 3, will sell because they’re called Halo more than anything else.

Quality should sell a product – but it doesn’t. It’s a factor but it’s not going to make a difference if the carefully calculated positioning of media, tie-ins, promotions, publicity, and sheer might that some companies wield. Sorry, but that’s a fact and examples are everywhere. Now, it’s nice when that works in your favour and you’re a Halo fan. But gamers will argue the exact same things when they feel a game they like isn’t getting sales it ‘deserves’ due to a game they don’t like dominating the charts. Remove your emotional attachment to the game and look objectively at the product, the market and the economics and you’ll see how it works. Choosing examples selectively isn’t really a watertight argument.

On a less controversial note I’d like to let regular readers of Koffdrop.com know that the site will soon be publishing it’s first guest-written piece. At this time I have absolutely no information to share with you as to the tone or content. All I can say is that I know the author very well and have always appreciated his input into topics we discuss. Look out for it!

Finally, the Ouendan 2 soundtrack is available to you via the Koffdrop.com files area. This isn’t an official soundtrack but a collection of all the individual songs that feature in the game (yes, there’s a difference between the two). I’m enjoying this soundtrack as much as the original and favour tracks 19 and 16 in particular. 16 is an especially good example of some absolutely batshit bonkers over-the-top j-pop-screaming. The game’s not bad either. Enjoy.

Fixed!

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering when I’d get around to fixing my archives page. You’ll be thrilled to read it’s now back to it’s former moo.fx-powered glory. You can now re-live great koffdrop.com moments all over again!

Hooray!

Vanilla

Following a recent post I’ve been having a bit of a discussion with a commentator via the comments section (duh!).

Well, it’s worth pointing reader’s attention to the top menu bar at koffdrop.com and, in particular, to the item called “Discussion“.

Clicking on it will take you to the discussion area of this site (duh!, again) which is a type of forum. The forum software is quite different from many that are seen on the internet but it’s simple appearance shouldn’t be regarded as a mistake.

I’ll be looking at how these two areas of koffdrop.com can be integrated in the future but, for now, if you’ve got something lengthy you wish to discuss then why not give it a whirl?

http://www.koffdrop.com/vanilla/

Who said February was a short month?

I’ve been fairly busy at work recently and only been making minimal posts onto koffdrop.com. I suspect you’ve noticed that.

Games-wise, I’ve not been playing much. I’ve had a stab (literally) at the God of War 2 demo and, I’ve got to say, it lives up to my expectations. There’s a fairly cool “Road to E3” documentary on the demo which gives a little insight into what it’s like trying to get something like a demo together for a big event. There will be more of these style of features on the final game (a 2 disc release) and I’d encourage any potential ‘developers are lazy’ critics to look at how shattered Cory Barlog is in this video (or in any recent appearance). Crunch time is a killer!

Anyway, to cheer some of you up and in keeping with the positive news of a DS sequel to Ouendan (which will, I hope, retain the best parts of Elite Beat Agents without the insiped track selection) I offer you the complete soundtrack to the original Ouendan game. Don’t kill the server please.

Whilst you’re here you can have a look around my little discussion area. It’s different from the sort of layout and featureset you may be used to – but that’s very deliberate.

Finally, you’ll have noticed that, due to popular opinion, my older theme is back in place.

I’ll be making an interesting discussion point soon – honest.