Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Doorbell for mice?

We have some staff moving in to some temporary premises while their offices get refurbished. Today I was labelling the sockets, fixing some faults an making sure the new voice VLAN works with the IP telephones in these buildings.

I noticed something though while I was waiting for security to turn the alarm off for me:

'Why would somebody put a doorbell there' I thought. It is not like they didn't have a doorbell at a normal height:

I can only think this is a doorbell for mice, or very, very, very short people. Weird.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Hollywood to blame?

I was reading an article written in The Telegraph this weekend. It is mainly an argument by Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload (recently shutdown with Kim arrested, on the advice of the FBI) blaming Hollywood for movie piracy. Now you may think after he was arrested on charges of illegal filesharing that is just the sort of crazy rant he would come out with, but when you listen to what he says and look at the facts you might say he has a point.

Kim Dotcom said:

“Piracy comes from, you know, people, let’s say, in Europe who do not have access to movies at the same time that they are released in the US. This is a problem that has been born within this licensing model and the old business model that Hollywood has where they release something first in one country but they show trailers to everyone around the world pitching that new movie but then the 14-year-old kid in France or Germany can’t watch it for another six months, you know? If the business model would be one where everyone has access to this content at the same time, you know, you wouldn’t have a piracy problem. So it’s really, in my opinion, the government of the United States protecting an outdated monopolistic business model that doesn’t work anymore in the age of the internet and that’s what it all boils down to. I’m no piracy king, I offered online storage and bandwidth to users and that’s it.”

It was not my intention to discuss whether Kim did anything wrong or whether the case against him is justified. What I wanted to draw attention to was the crazy decision to delay releases, or prevent them altogether, in some areas of the world and how this, as Kim, says lead to an increase in piracy.

I would never condone breaking the law but lets look at some examples. I find Kevin Smith an interesting conversationalist (you may not agree) and I bought 'An Evening With Kevin Smith' and 'An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder' on DVD. I was told (repeatedly) by Kevin on his various networks that 'A Threevening With Kevin Smith' would be coming out and we should get it.

FOUR YEARS LATER it has still not been released outside of North America.

Now I haven't resorted to pirating 'Threevening', but I could see why people would. If you are a big fan of Kevin and have all his work how else are you supposed to get a copy? Yes you could import it, but then you have the legal minefield of having to break the encryption. Or do you buy another DVD drive and change the region coding on it? Or do you try and get hold of a United States credit card to purchase through the US iTunes? This doesn't feel very 21st century.

If you're a kid trying to get a hold of a copy, and you have to go to that much trouble (and you're too young for a credit card anyway, let alone a north american one), you could possibly see why some would look for torrents.

Now I know this doesn't explain all piracy, it may even be just a fraction, there will always be people who will exploit or steal in any area of life, not just the web. However, would a place to be able to buy the show (and the money going to all the right people) hurt the artists and producers? No.

The main argument Kim made was about staggered releases. It does seem crazy that in the age of the world wide web releases are not simultaneous or near-simultaneous across the globe. We get bombarded with the same trailers and advertising, directed to the movies' websites, sold all the merchandise and by the time it has been released in Europe you have been exposed to so many spoilers that there is no point in buying the damn DVD anyway.

Kim argues Europe may have to wait 6 months to see some releases but something else I was desperate to get was Futurama volume 5 and for that we had to wait over a year, even region 4 countries had to wait approximately 11 months. The show aired between June and November 2010 with the Region 1 DVD release date of 21st December 2010. We didn't see it until 26th December 2011.

Studios/distributors please start a fairer release schedule (or a way for me to pay you online for downloading the content) or alternatively stop trying to make me want to buy things and then make it impossible for me to do so.