Blogs serve many a function.
No different to the waffle and tripe most people post to Facebook, a personal blog usually describes the achievements in a person’s life — those little victories and strokes of luck we need to brag about.
There has been a range of studies about a certain “Facebook depression” some people can sink into when all they read about are their so-called friends’ achievements — the ones who are permanently happy and always smiling. Everything seems to work out right for them, always on holiday at some exotic and photogenic location, everyone’s carefree and successful, and everyone has stacks of beautiful, cool friends. Everyone does it.
When Earth is destroyed and the Facebook servers are discovered as space flotsam by an alien race, their anthropologists will conclude that the inhabitants of this planet lived a truly joyous and leisurely existence. Recovered evidence will lead them to believe that members of the human race were vain narcissists with few worries; they enjoyed sharing pictures of their meals, and they worshipped cats. Earth must’ve been a paradise.
“Cyberia” was the name of a long-running series of music mix compilation CDs conjured up in South Africa between DJ friend Rufus Blairgowrie and I.
Rufus provided most of the music and handled the mixing part while it was me who “mastered” them into some cohesive result and was responsible for the artwork (bar for the first two). Acting under the silly collective name of “CeeJay Cyborgasm”, the first mix CD-R came out on 31-03-1999 and could be considered fairly successful because we did manage to flog a few discs to friends, fans, and visitors to houses of ill repute. Though we barely broke even on expenses, our clientèle was, to put it mildly, very interesting and most certainly varied — which led to some rather amusing encounters and side projects!
Strange days, indeed!
After I left for Germany, we continued the Cyberia gig via postage and electronic mail.
Hard drives are the under-appreciated workhorses of a standard PC configuration.
Their disks whiz around at breakneck revolutions, heads cushioned by mere molecules of air as they skim over shiny surfaces during feverish read/write operations to store volumes of data to increasingly insatiable users who are all but completely oblivious of their existence — pausing only to curse them when they get busy, fragmented, or full.
They’re never fast or big enough.
And when they do break, oh! When hard drives fail, all hell breaks loose because not only is there downtime until a replacement is installed — no, there is downtime coupled with loss of data that just never seems to want to get backed up often enough.
Whereas in previous years backups were made on floppy or tape and then on optical media, it seems we’ve reverted to using external hard drives to make backups of the workhorse hard drive in your workstation because they’re cheap. They’re ubiquitous.
About a month ago a personal dream came true: I got to see my favourite band live.
Friends and followers of this blog should know that Queen has been my favourite band for over thirty years, even before it became cool to admit to being a fan. In fact, their popularity simply surged after Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991, despite the lack of fresh material by the original quartet (not counting 1995’s “Made in Heaven”).
“There is no point carrying on. It’s impossible to replace Freddie,” said bassist John Deacon and retired to wife and brood of kids thereafter.
Despite being reduced to the two active founding members, the band and their music have never quite left the limelight. Excellent live concert videos from the glory days are being output at a rate similar to their original studio album run. There’s a musical, the usual fare of sanctioned remixes and the odd few collaborations: the last Queen + suffix was no less than Paul Rodgers, a testosterone-laden partnership that resulted in a mediocre album in 2008 and a tour which I missed again!
Enter one Adam Lambert, runner-up in the American Idol circus and an established young vocalist in his own right.
Two rather disturbing events took place last week.
The first one we all know about: 12 people were gunned down by the extremist nitwit Kouachi brothers at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. It’s been widely reported and condemned. For a while everyone became Charlie and marched in solidarity with those dastardly French who dared satirise the relevance of a paedophile prophet who’s been dead for some 1400 years — or indeed any religious figure.
Almost as absurd is the ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper Hamevaser; it photoshopped away all females featured in a photo of 40 world leaders at the following Sunday’s demonstration for unity in the French capital as part of their policy to not publish pictures or even names of women.
As an amateur ex-cartoonist with a leaning towards twisted single-panel drawings of the offensive type myself, the mindless murder of the cartoonists felt like a stab into my own heart and an insult to my non-religious convictions.
It’s another few days before 2015 officially launches.
Personally, I can’t wait. 2014 was a strenuous year.
In fact, it was a terrifying year — “terrifying” in the sense that it started off by financially fucking me around big time. 2014 was terrifying in that my personal data got mixed up with that of someone else, an assumption that Deutsche Post sold to a notorious company named Unister GmbH (of fluege.de fame).
Of course this is chicken feed compared to “the Fappening”, the publication of some very, very naughty pictures of several (mostly female) celebrities following targeted hacks into their private iCloud accounts. Jennifer Lawrence described the leak as a “sexual violation”.
In late November, Sony Pictures Entertainment was hit on by a group called “the Guardians of Peace” in an unprecedented cyber attack. This led to the exposure of thousands of sensitive emails from Sony executives and physical threats against moviegoers if the release of the film “The Interview” wasn’t cancelled. Some blame the hack on North Korea who had described the film as an “act of war”.
In December the Pirate Bay was shut down after a raid by Swedish police.
Now that I’ve finally gotten rid of that horrid analogue video media format named “VHS”, I’ve been thinking about what comes next.
No, I’m not talking about its obvious successor, DVD, nor am I talking about its own follow-up model, the BD, or the impending 4k/UHD discs – in fact, I’m not referring to physical media at all: what I am talking is an all-digital format — an ethereal one that exists not even as files on your hard drive.
I’m referring to “virtual” media. Perhaps it’s this “Cloud” thing that I’m on about. Truth be told, I’m not really sure — because definitions of “the Cloud” vary.
What I am getting at is much more sinister, and I’m not sure I like what’s coming.
When I first got into computers back in 1990, “music” and “IBM computers” were things that simply weren’t synonymous with one another.
In fact, the only real choices available for my first own computer purchase were either an Amiga (games and multimedia) or a beige IBM-compatible clone (widespread use and lots of software). I swallowed the beige pill.
Given the DOS software and the games we played at the time, audio capabilities just weren’t a matter of concern. Star Control, Space Quest, and Duke Nukem had no sound effects other than the rudimentary bleeps and squeaks that a little internal PC speaker could deliver while music, oh! Music on a computer was the stuff of fantasy gone rampant with a stolen credit card. You would never utter the terms “music” and “IBM-clone” in the same breath – until the first sound cards came along!