Category Archives: Technology

Technology information, reviews, news, and updates.

Avoiding Village Roadshow Lawsuits – Australian Edition

Recently it has come to my attention that Village Roadshow is going to start issuing fines to people in Australia, caught downloading via torrent. I’m going to put a little guide together that tells you how to avoid being fined $200+. This is stuff you should have already done, but since I know a lot of people are ignorant of how torrenting actually works, this may shed some light. Furthermore, I’ll throw in some links about how to change your DNS (the thing that pulls up websites, to put it in very basic terms) in your router, though this isn’t entirely required, it is helpful (but can be difficult for people who aren’t entirely sure of what they’re doing).

First of all, if you’re running the latest version of µTorrent, get rid of it. Now. The latest version of µTorrent you want is version 2.2.1, and anything after this version is an ad-filled mess that reports data about your usage back to Bittorrent Inc’s servers. Not only that, but because of the risk of it being full of spyware, a lot of websites, trackers and even other clients ban µTorrent which means torrents with lots of seeds and leechers often won’t connect to most of them.  You can find 2.2.1 here at oldversion.com (for Windows only) but I would use some of the other alternatives, since that version is so old.

A better idea would be to switch torrent clients entirely. there are a number of well made, open source, comprehensive torrent clients available, such as qBittorrent (available for Windows and Mac) and Deluge (Available for Windows, Mac and Linux). I personally recommend qBittorrent.

Once you’ve installed a torrent client that doesn’t suck, you need to make sure you setup your upload speed and torrent encryption, because the default settings will strangle the shit out of your connection, and the lack of encryption means your ISP can see exactly what you’re downloading. Depending on what you use your internet for, your overall speed, and if you have any data caps, your upload limit should be 5-50% of your total upload. Here’s an example:

Approximate upload rates for torrents depending on your internet plan. Click to open

To set your upload rates and torrent encryption, first open your torrent client. I’ll also be For the examples here I’ll be using qBittorrent and (sigh) µTorrent.

qBittorrent

For qBittorrent press Alt+O or go to Tools -> options, then down to the “speed” button. Tick the box next to the first “upload” option, and then set your upload speed according to that chart.

If you have no idea what your upload speed is, just set it to about 15. You might get less priority when downloading torrents, but if you’re entirely uncertain as to your internet plan that’s about as safe as you can get. With qBittorrent you can also click on the upload and download notifications at the very bottom of the client, and set your upload (or download if you like) from there.

The green arrow shows the download speed limit, the red arrow shows the upload speed limit
Clicking the speed limit brings up this box

You can also set a scheduler so your torrents download overnight, but I’m not gonna go into that now.

Next you’ll need to enable torrent encryption. Torrent encryption makes sure your ISP cannot see what you’re downloading. This also makes it harder for other parties to see what you’re downloading (though no impossible, we’ll get to how to fix that later). In the options of qBittorrent, go down to the “BitTorrent” button, and force torrent encryption. It should already be enabled, but you want to make sure it’s always on.

Do NOT enable anonymous mode, or you’ll pretty much never be able to download anything ever again.

Note: These options should work on MacOS exactly the same

µTorrent

For µTorrent you’ll need to press Ctrl+P or go to Options -> Preferences. Click the “bandwidth” button on the side and then set your upload speed. Just like qBittorrent, you can also set your download and upload speeds from the main interface window exactly the same way you do with qBittorrent.

Green arrow down, red arrow up

Setting encryption is done pretty much the same way as qbt. Go to the “bandwidth” option on the sidebar and set torrent encryption to “forced”

And finally, µTorrent has a very annoying habit of trying to make you update it to the latest version constantly. You DO NOT want to update it. Absolutely DO NOT let it update. When you first run the program, it’ll probably pop up a box asking if you want to update it, make sure you uncheck the “check for updates” box and select no. Next go into the options under “general” and uncheck all the boxes under Privacy.

Fuck. Off. µTorrent.

I still very strongly recommend not using µTorrent. Please. Please use something else.

But torrent sites are still blocked?

Ah so they are. The best method to fix this is to set the DNS in your router to either Google DNS or Open DNS. I use one of each. Both of them are reliable and don’t block torrent sites. Both of those links contain information on changing your DNS so you will see blocked sites again. You may need to reboot your router and computer after changing them to see any effect. I recommend changing the DNS in the router, not in your operating system, but if it proves too challenging, you may be able to follow the next instruction:

Buy a VPN

This is probably the easiest way to get around torrent blocks and the threat of paying out the arse because you don’t think it’s worth paying $27 to see a fucking movie in the cinema. Or $35 to buy a fucking blu-ray. The best company I’ve found is Private Internet Access. They have an app for each operating system including Android and iOS, and their speeds are good enough that you can torrent at full 100/40 NBN speed through them without slowdown at all. You can even set your account up in your router so you’re permanently connected to your VPN. They also have servers in about 50 different countries. VPNs are also useful for buying games online cheaper than on Australian stores, or watching blocked content on YouTube. At around $55 AU a year it’s also reasonably cheap, and unlike free or extremely cheap VPNs, they don’t sell your data to 3rd parties, log your actions or get overloaded and slow right down. PIA also offer full encryption, so good luck to anyone trying to prove you downloaded Dunkirk when all the computers in the world wouldn’t be able to decrypt a man-in-the-middle attack.

P.S. This isn’t a paid for article, I genuinely think Private Internet Access is a great VPN company. They’re not the only great company, but they are decently priced for how comprehensive they are.

EOF

Agents of Mayhem – Everything I Dislike (and a few things I like)

Welcome to yet another one of my reviews where I list all the things I dislike about something, and a handful of things I like. Since I initially wrote this review on Steam, and eventually ran out of space, I will be keeping my review up to date here. While I am sort of enjoying playing this game, I cannot recommend it at its current price ($60US on the Australian Steam Store as of game release – 15/08/17). Here is a list, that I will update while I play the game, detailing things I’m not happy with, or problems with the game. Most of this is opinion and therefore is subjective, but as a big fan of the Saint’s Row series, and having bought this game due to the developer and their previous work, I am unfortunately mostly disappointed. This review is a work in progress, which means I’ll be changing it as I play the game, or the game gets updated. This article will contain some spoilers, but they are mostly minor.

This review covers release and the small patch a few days after and is up to date as of 22/08/17 additionally I have added a section where I will be moving certain “bugs” as they are fixed or patched.

Note: Most of the things listed in this review will be specific to the PC release only, despite the fact that I’ve tagged this article as both a PS4 and an XBOne article. Undoubtedly, a lot of the things I’ve listed will be platform agnostic, but there will definitely be some things that are isolated to PC only.

Things I Dislike:

  • The dialogue, the characters, everything is extremely poorly written. It’s extremely basic and generic. I doubt the same writers of Saint’s Row wrote this. Edit: Then again they might have. I think I have rose-coloured glasses on for Saint’s Row 3 and 4.
  • The humour misses the mark, hard.
  • I cannot tell who the hell the demographic of this game is, the characters swear, but the game is “safe”, in that a child could play it very easily without hassle, the game holds your hand a lot, the enemies are pretty simple, it is just not challenging, even if you crank up the difficulty. Edit: the enemy difficulty and density gets better as the game progresses…but…so do you. You gain levels, and health/shield which better protect you from the many more enemies thrown at you.
  • There is only one weapon, an alternative fire for that weapon, plus a “special” attack per character. Unlike the weapon wheel full of fun guns SR had, you have to choose a different character if you want different weapons.
  • Weapons auto-aim. You cannot turn this off. Since some people say you can, you can switch it to disabled, and your camera won’t follow your target around by itself, but certain weapons will still hit your target even if your aim is very off. Rama is the best example.
  • It feels like a single player third person Overwatch clone (by clone I mean it shares a hell of a lot of similarities with Overwatch, and feels like it was steered in that direction to appeal to a similar audience, it’s not literally a third person Overwatch) on the SR engine with its skill-set independent heroes you can change around between on the fly. I don’t dislike Overwatch, but I don’t particularly enjoy it either. This feels like I’m playing that without any humans to actually challenge me.
  • When in motion, either on foot or in a vehicle, the camera controls snap back to behind you constantly, even though I have a MOUSE to move my camera around with. This cannot be turned off.
  • The Mayhem ability. It’s your special ability and it’s supposed to be super powerful and ultra useful. It is not. It lasts about 3 seconds, which lets you kill about 3-4 enemies (if they’re spread out, which they usually are) and takes FOREVER* to charge. In a mission you get a chance to use it once or twice maybe. On the other hand the “alternative attack” charges in about 5-6 seconds and it usually much more useful (e.g. being able to launch a grenade that splash damages everyone around it if you’re playing Hollywood) Spending skill points increases Mayhem time and effectiveness, however you won’t end up having those upgraded for a long time yet. *Edit: If you have Hollywood in your team, and his group passive is upgraded, you get Mayhem abilities very often, and some characters are actually useful when their Mayhem goes off. Johnny Gat is the best example in my opinion. Edit #2: It is really dependant on who you’re using in your team as to how effective your mayhem attack is. Some characters just stun everyone around them which isn’t particularly useful compared to actually doing damage.
  • Not a big deal to me, but no cooperative play. You can select three heroes at a time, you would think the game would let you coop with 2 other people, but it doesn’t. I believe Saint’s Row 2, 3, 4 and Gat out of Hell are coop friendly, why this isn’t I have no idea. Edit: The game does have multiplayer, but it’s not story mode cooperative.
  • The character customisation just…blows. The upgrades don’t even seem particularly useful. Edit: most aren’t useful. They’re just alternative methods of play, sort of.
  • Hardtack is one of the characters you start with. His main weapon is a shotgun. A shotgun that does zero damage to anything about 3 metres (10~ feet) away. It just doesn’t connect with anything past that range. It’s the most useless shotgun in any game ever. You can get an upgrade that increases the distance the shotgun makes contact in….but it also decreases it’s damage. Absolutely pointless. Edit: Trying to level up Hardtack really sucks, because even with upgrades his shotgun isn’t anywhere near as powerful as Johnny Gat’s or Red Card’s
  • Hardtack’s triple-jump barely ever works. Edit: actually a handful of player characters triple-jumps seem to work with varying degrees of success.
  • On further observation, almost all weapons have very short range. Much, much shorter than you would expect. Of course, the enemies don’t suffer from this ailment at all.
  • Every single one of the civilian cars sucks. They’re all utterly useless. Edit: there’s also only about…20? different ones. They’re also all as slow as shit.
  • You can’t get into the LEGION military cars, even after the LEGION soldiers get out of them.
  • I don’t have any graphics issues because I updated my drivers. But occasionally a lot of things explode on the screen and my fps dips for about a half a second. Not really an issue.
  • I’m decently far into the game now (edit), and there aren’t any mini-games like Saint’s Row had. There are things scattered around the map that you can blow up, but they’re not really “mini-games”. The one where you put a shield around a person strapped to a bomb then detonate the bomb is kinda fun though, because the person with the shield ends up in a bubble that bounces around the place, and if your physics glitch out (which I believe is intended) they go flying.
  • There are some shitloads of physics glitches. Floating enemies, trucks loaded with cargo exploding once you’re in range enough for the physics engine to kick in, items bouncing around. Edit: The small patch fixed this a tiny bit, but it’s still a problem
  • Cannot fire from vehicles. Which is a step backwards from the Saint’s Row series.
  • For some reason on the “pause” menu, is an option to “Erase all save data”. This seems…well…bizarre, and increases your risk of accidentally clicking it and erasing all your data.
  • Johnny Gat in this game is only Gat in voice and model. He is not the Gat from Saint’s Row. I mean, for one he’s a cop. This is explained by the whole “alternate universe” thing, but still. He definitely has some of the best dialogue in the game though. If you don’t want to cringe much, make sure Gat is your main character. Avoid Braddock (even though her weapon is one of the better ones) because her voice sounds so fake and put-on that it gets old very quickly.
  • The radio is terrible. It’s just the same electronic background noise on every channel.
  • You can’t ride motorbikes, there are none in the game on the streets, and the parked ones are not able to be ridden.
  • There is no vehicle customisation other than 8 different skins per vehicle (10 vehicles total).
  • There is also no player customisation except for 6 or so skins for each character and then 6 or so skins per character’s weapon.
  • Warping. No one opens doors or anything, they just…warp around. Like straight through the car’s window into the drivers seat. Enemies also warp into the area instead of arriving in vehicles or helicopters. Edit: can be explained by the futuristic setting, but it’s still a bit of a cop-out
  • While driving, vehicles within your draw distance but far away disappear randomly. In fact the draw distance in general is sort of broken.
  • There’s a cooldown on melee attacks. The cooldown is about 3 to 4 seconds.
  • Cash is a bit useless. I never used any until I was level 8, and then I had so much left over after I had bought upgrades that it didn’t really matter. This isn’t really a negative, since cash ends up pretty much worthless in Saint’s Row after a while too, including it in the game just seems kinda pointless. There’s like 5 different typed of resources you need to be running around picking up constantly, which is ridiculous.
  • Apparently everyone in Korea speaks American English.
  • I only really just realised this, but the map is tiny. I’m not sure if I’m into the game far enough yet, or if any more maps unlock, but the map size is about half of Steelport (Saint’s Row 3 and 4) and about a quarter of Stilwater (Saint’s Row 2). Remember when Volition made Red Faction Guerilla and the map was gigantic (albeit empty). Everything to do in this is very close together.
  • Repetitive LEGION lair dialogue over the PA system gets annoying after you’ve heard the same line 5 times per lair, and I’ve done about 8 lairs so far and there are at least that many more to do. It’s funny the first time, but it gets old fast.
  • When you first load the game, or teleport back into the Ark, you are not given control over your character for a minimum of 3 seconds, and a maximum of about 15. Everything has loaded, you just can’t do anything until the game randomly lets you.
  • Friday has really shitty dialogue. It’s just extra shitty and I can’t stand it. She’s also a bit of a creeper.
  • Can’t change the contents of your squad unless you deploy
  • There are “Mayhem Knows” load-screens where some of the characters from the game show up and a soundbite plays detailing something “witty” (see: stupid) about them. This extends the load screen much longer than it needs to be.
  • You CANNOT run over enemies. They either dodge your vehicle, or even if you hit them dead on, they don’t take enough damage to die and bounce off your car. I have yet to kill anyone who wasn’t a civilian (who are easy to kill) with a vehicle yet.
  • There’s no way to upgrade melee strength, so the more you level up, the progressively more useless your melee attacks get.
  • Each time you return to the Ark, the game penalises you by uncapturing one of your outposts you’ve captured, giving it back to the enemy. THIS IS NOT A BUG IT’S A FEATURE AND IS FUCKING MORONIC. THIS IS IN BOLD BECAUSE OF HOW FUCKING ANGRY IT MADE ME.
  • Despite being able to apparently climb walls, most of the heroes suck at actually doing it.
  • While unlocking the vehicles is alright, each vehicle has an arbitrary amount of unlock blueprints needed. No two have the same number. Some cars have 1 blueprint needed, others 10.
  • Everything after this line added on 22/08/17
  • After antagonising LEGION enough to max out their response (like you max out the police in Saint’s Row or demons enforcers in Gat out of Hell, the game throws difficult super soldiers at you. But they are seemingly endless. They keep coming forever, and the only way I found I could get rid of them was by going back to the Ark.
  • Dead bodies jiggle around on the floor a lot, constantly causing me to think they’re still alive and shoot at them.
  • Johnny Gat’s shotgun occasionally does no damage to certain female-only enemies.
  • Some of the “side missions” (like the above-mentioned rescue-the-guy-stuck-to-a-bomb-by-putting-them-in-a-bubble mission) glitch through the floor, making them impossible to complete.
  • When driving, a lot of things are still indestructible, causing your car to dead-stop on things. Especially heinous when racing and the game forces you to take certain jumps that if you misjudge  slightly, make your vehicle stop.
  • Civilian vehicles plough over you without slowing down or stopping. The vehicle-driving AI is terrible, and doesn’t give a shit about you at all. It will absolutely run you down in the street.
  • Vehicle damage is not representative of the health shown on the car’s HP meter. Car looks totally fucked before it is anywhere near it.
  • The game tells you to repair your car and shows locations you can have it repaired…when you’ve got about 10% damage on the car. Even the weakest of the player cars takes a hell of a pounding before it blows up. The civilian vehicles on the other hand are weak and will blow up just by being shot at – but only if you’re driving them. They’re significantly harder to destroy if you’re just shooting at them yourself.
  • Slight Spoiler: A character mission for Kingpin has you driving vehicles to beat an “unknown racer” at certain circuits around the city. The time limits given are long enough that you could probably sprint them on foot if the game would let you, and you’d still make the times with plenty to spare.
  • Doomsday weapons all follow the exact same, boring formula every single time they show up. If they didn’t take pot-shots at you constantly, there would be absolutely no reason to destroy them at all. Unnecessary time wasting bullshit.
  • Your callable vehicles are equipped with an AI. The AI has no real purpose other than to say “witty” things. Instead it’s an annoying fucking pile of wank that says dumb, annoying shit.
  • Terrible FOV (field of view) and zoom. No option to change either.
  • Johnny Gat’s mayhem ability causes him to fire against walls and into the air sometimes as it’s not able to be redirected or aimed at all. It even does so when there are targets out in the open.
  • Joule’s melee often fails to connect.
  • Everything in the game telegraphs, making avoiding things without thinking simple.
  • While doing a lair invasion, the AI on the PA system continuously told the LEGION NPCs to “protect the captain”. It continued to do so even after I killed everyone in the base and reached the extraction point. So did I kill the captain or not?
  • Game occasionally draws objects on top of each other. Example: I was driving as fast as I possibly could, using the nitrous and then stopped dead, the game already had 3 cars parked on the side of the road, and then decided to draw 3 more on top of them, causing them to jump out of the parked cars and explode.
  • Daisy moves about the same speed as everyone else runs…when she has roller skates.
  • You need to rely on RNG (random number generation – where you hope the game “rolls the right numbers” and gives you proper items when you loot the crates strewn around the game) for character/weapon/vehicle skin and vehicle blueprint unlocks.
  • Red Card, a German (and a good guy), seems to ADVOCATE FOR FUCKING EUGENICS. WHO WROTE THIS SHIT?

Things I Liked:

  • Plays like a Saint’s Row game, which is why I bought it in the first place.
  • Driving is top notch, better than Saint’s Row 4 or Gat out of Hell.
  • Game is smooth as butter, seems pretty well optimised. This could be isolated to my machine, because a lot of people have told me that I’m wrong about this.
  • The world is pretty nicely crafted, if a little…boring? Seoul has no soul. But it looks shiny and futuristic.
  • You can still murder civilians. You can’t seem to kick them in the groin or throw them around, but you can shoot them to death
  • It appears that vehicles from Saint’s Row 3/4 are unlockable by finding “blueprints”
  • The unlocked cars from Saint’s Row have been given a very slight face lift
  • The one-use craftable items are actually useful
  • The upgrade cores actually make your characters a lot better. Except Hardtack.
  • The usual collectibles everybody loves that Volition is known for strewing across their games. (this is half sarcastic, but seriously, it wouldn’t be right if this game didn’t have 50 million collectible items)
  • There are robot cars, some drive ads around, some are utility vehicles. Also robots float around showing ads which is kinda cool
  • There are upgrades after a certain level which show collectibles on the map.
  • Pressing X and calling in your car is handy as fuck
  • The game does get better the more you play it, but doesn’t really reverse anything I’ve listed in the negative section unless otherwise specified
  • The game has NVidia Ansel, which is pretty awesome if you’re into taking super high resolution screenshots with an adjustable camera
  • A bunch of characters (not sure if all of them – Johnny Gat doesn’t seem to have one) have a skin reminiscent of Marvel superheroes (e.g. XMen, Iron Man,
  • Once you get your hero to level 10, it unlocks a secondary trait, so you can lose your weaker characters. e.g. Johnny Gat becomes armour piercing, so you can get rid of Fortune or Kingpin
  • Took me a while to realise that Kingpin is Pierce Washington’s alternate universe alter-ego.
  • Enemy speech has context depending on which hero you’re playing. For example, Braddock was a military commander who trained many of LEGION’s troops before they defected from her command and joined LEGION. They say snarky remarks about the training and joining LEGION out from under her.
  • The game has a very diverse cast of people, which, before someone calls me an SJW, so did Saint’s Row. Instead of having the usual muscular white dude/s it’s got someone from everywhere on the globe.
  • Everything after this line added on 22/08/17
  • Some of the explosive barrels kinda look like Daleks (Okay, not really a positive, but I found it amusing)
  • Slight Spoiler: The Johnny Gat mission with the robot police officers was actually pretty amusing, and enjoyable.
  • The game is actually VERY stable. I have not had a single crash yet in (as of writing this) 24 hours of playing. I have tabbed in and out constantly, and abused the game a little bit and it’s been fine.
  • Each character has unique dialogue recorded for it, for each time one of the mission givers talks to the group. Whoever is your currently selected character will do all of the talking. You can change it on the fly.

Fixed Issues:

  • Game resets itself to windowed each time I start it. I prefer it on Borderless or even Full Screen, but it insists on starting on Windowed.  This seems to have been fixed. EDIT: OR NOT. Sometimes it seems fixed, sometimes it fucks up again.

Even Yahtzee shits on this game.

Preconceptions and Misconceptions

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder how much of what we take for granted isn’t rooted in fact.  If we look back even 100 years, what seemed like solid science then (Black people have smaller brains, anyone?) is now obviously, and hilariously wrong. It took them until the early 1900s to figure out that if you stick a vibrator in a chick’s vagoo she feels better. What got me thinking on this, is that until recently I thought Death Cab for Cutie was absolute shite. And then I actually heard one of their songs. And now I love their music. It makes me think about what other great music I’m missing out on. And then I got to thinking, what if it isn’t just music?

About a week ago I heard a negative review of Gnome Shell (Gnome Shell is the window manager planned to be released with GNOME 3). I watched a video and thought it looked pretty cool. So i installed ubuntu 9.10, installed gnome shell, and fired it up. And i swear to god it is the coolest thing ever. When it is finished, I honestly can’t say I’ll use anything else. And previously, I’d sworn off all things Linux forever. With good reason, too. Gnome 2 is absolutely awful when compared to osx leopard and windows 7.

Take from it what you will.

Bob’s Educational Corner: Science

On tonight’s episode of Bob’s Educational Corner, we are proud to present “Science”.

Science. It’s all around us. If you turn on a TV, or eat an ice cream cone, or bludgeon a homeless man to death with an oscilloscope, you are enjoying the benefits of science. It enriches our lives and plagues our dreams, and is one of the most important parts of a balanced breakfast. But science can’t happen by itself, unless it’s also a wizard, but that is stupid and so are you for thinking it. Science requires The Scientific Method, so let us first examine The Scientific Method.

The Scientific Method was invented in 1776 by Al Gore (Al Gore is best known for his invention of The Scientific Method, and for being mentioned in this article). He discovered that, if you heat a test tube in a Bunsen burner while wearing a white lab coat, the very fabric of the universe itself will bend to your whim. With The Scientific Method, he was able to create America, simply by willing it into existence. Then he banged a hot Asian lab assistant and took a nap. This laid the foundation of all modern science.

Try an experiment. Close your eyes and fall off a cliff. Did you notice that you hit the ground? If not, you should seek medical attention. But if you did, you just experienced science! And should seek medical attention. But why did you fall? You fell because your body was attracted to science particles in the ground. These particles are named Fred and Suzanne, so pick the one that makes you feel better about yourself. Every object, no matter how large or small, is filled with science. Sometimes this takes the form of particles, like in the ground. But science is not limited to particles!

Science comes in many forms. This sentence, which is being beamed directly into your eyeballs through your computer, is filled with delicious sciencey jelly. Your clothes, if you’re wearing any, you perv, are composed of long strands of science, woven together by skilled scienticians, who love working with science to make your day better. They love it so much, in fact, that they often work all day for free, not even stopping to eat or sleep. Their dedication is inspiring, and is itself composed of sticky nodules of science.

Every year, Scienticians, which are people who study science and are very good in bed*, discover new types of science. They use sophisticated instruments, such as the monocle, to probe every aspect of existence in their search for science. No location is too remote to investigate in their quest. Recently, for example, science was discovered in the deepest jungles of South America. Braving harsh weather and enraged hippies, Scienticians bulldozed these jungles and salted the earth, causing the science to rise to the top. Through careful study, it was determined that this science caused laboratory animal’s skin to turn golden brown, then explode. Tanning lotion containing this science is already available in most major stores.

We have only scratched the surface of science, but I hope your sense of wonder has been kindled. If you would like to learn more about science, you can write your local congressman and ask for an informational packet. You can also use LSD, which is so full of science that you’ll think your head is going to explode because there are, like, so many monkeys in your brain. And to answer your question, yes- the monkeys are also made of science. Good night, and good learning!

*This statement paid for by the American Society of Scienticians.

A world with technology

I must start by offering my condolences to Jezza for the temporary loss of his Internet. Clearly the stresses of this event have warped his mind into the belief that a world without technology would be anything but a nightmare. Certainly, in this increasingly hectic modern world, it is worthwhile taking the time to contemplate one’s surroundings, and even occasionally vacate oneself from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but to eschew technology all together would be utter madness.

Meeting a friend in person is only a superior experience to contacting them technologically due to the comparative infancy of the technology and the sophistication of our senses. Given the current developments in processing power, eye-mounted displays, neural interfaces and associated technologies, it’s not unreasonable to expect that within 10 years one will be able too talk to a friend as if a very convincing facsimile of them were in the room, and within 20 the avatar representing them will be indistinguishable from the real thing.

It may be true that, in the event of a return to a primitive society, many of the larger problems facing the world would dissolve away, but this is only because they would be replaced by much more immediate personal perils. It is folly to suppose that a lack of technology would also remove social inequality- if anything, it would accentuate it. The physically strong would be able to rule over the defenseless weak, and tribal power structures would quickly emerge, with or without the existence of money. Money is merely a convenient fiction to facilitate easier bartering. The physical goods or labour that it represents will still exist (at least, the non-technological ones) and will still be able to be used to exert power over others.

As Jezza correctly states, there would be war and disease, but I suspect he underestimates the scale. Peace is largely predicated on economic interdependence- if I have goods that you want, and you have goods that I want, it’s far more efficient to trade them rather than fighting over the matter- but without the technological advancements that support that interdependence (ships, planes, the internet, etc), the largest societies possible would be small regional affairs and the lack of modern food production techniques would see billions starving to death. Without the spread of education that technology facilitates, future generations would swiftly become superstitious and fully embrace the tribal lifestyle, leading to widespread conflict. Those who were merely wounded in the tribal wars could look forward to a slow death from a minor wound infection, or from slowly bleeding internally. The ones lucky enough to not be wounded could expect to live to a ripe old age of 30, whereupon they would die from a kidney stone growing septic. I humbly posit that yes, this would be “so bad”.

It is a commonly used fallacy to assume that the rate of population increase necessarily means that the world is being destroyed. As we further master our technologies, we devise methods for feeding more people using less land and water, for generating power for our cities in a more efficient manner, and for spreading knowledge of these advances.

I’m not arguing, of course, that technology is perfect, but so far it has managed to solve far more problems than it has caused, and indeed allows us the opportunity to engage in these sort of idle metaphysical musings. Our new developments will doubtless bring more problems in the future, but I anticipate these to be, on the whole, less severe than the problems that the developments were designed to solve, and the new problems will almost certainly be amenable to further technological solutions.

A world without technology

Recently i spent a weekend without the internet (and therefore the laptop), or a phone. What a weekend it was, by far the most interesting, humurous, entertaining weekend i’ve had in a long time. While some didn’t know what to do, and sat around playing solitaire trying to beat their top scores for hours on end, most of us at UniResort enjoyed 3 long days of 25+ weather, out by the pool, kicking the footy, eating, enjoying a good laugh. In all my my 6 months here at UniResort, i’ve not once encountered so many people out of their rooms at one time. I met so many new people that had been living here for longer than i have. Of course, i myself don’t rely on the internet or phone much, most of the time i have better things to do, if it’s not 1am and i can’t sleep. In a place where students live, you’d think it’d happen quite often, it doesn’t, so it was quite amazing. Technology has such a grip on so many people, their lives are the complete opposite without access to something like the internet or a mobile phone. How many of you check your facebook every day, sometimes every hour, on your mobile phone, because you can’t sit back and appreciate how lucky we are. How many of you have sat for at least an hour, staring, thinking about the world, what life has to offer. No ipods, phones, internet, no distractions. Just listen to the birds, watch the clouds, see leaves and branches blowing in the wind.

This got me thinking, imagine a world without the technology we have today. Most people nowdays would probably hear that and think “wtf is wrong with you, go eat shit and die asshole”, but really think about it. How many of your friends do you contact on a regular basis on a phone or the internet? Ok yeah it’s convenient, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing it. Now think about this. How much more of an impact on your life does it have when you meet up with them face to face? How often does this happen? Not very. When people can’t be assed to walk down the road, knock on their friends front door, just to see if he/she is home and say hello, they need to find some appreciation for what we have, and not take it for granted so much.

So many of the worlds issues would not exist, we’d all hunt for our food. Build our own shelter. There’d be no “mines better than yours so i’m better than you too”. Without money, there’d be no power. Of course, it wouldn’t be a perfect world, otherwise we wouldn’t have evolved the way we have. There’d still be “war” between tribes, disease, hunger for the weak. However, would this be so bad? Our population has sky rocketed, and continues to. The world is being destroyed because of it. Just another issue that would not exist.

Unfortunately, the closest we will ever get to knowing what a world like that could be like, is camping in the middle of Australia without any phones, internet, toilets, 3-ply ultra soft touch patterened toilet paper, and the like.

Of course then i snapped back to reality, realised that all that wondering was pointless, jumped onto the laptop, opened my browser window, logged onto facebook and sat there for an hour playing tetris.

Peace!

Ten Tiny Tigers Titillate Twenty Terrifyingly Turgid Old Men

Microsoft Windows.

90% of you use it. That’s right, I’m looking at YOU. Probably using XP, you wanker.

Up until yesterday, I have had the privilege of using Windows 7. While certainly an excellent operating system, I have come to an epiphany by way of hardware failure. Specifically, my mobo started failing, and rather than (to use a metaphor) drown like a rat, I grabbed a lifeboat (namely a pentium 3). Running at only 450mhz, I didn’t want to screw around with XP, so I downloaded and installed rusty, trusty windows 2000. And I was astounded by precisely how little had changed. Most of my favorite programs work on windows 2000. While I need a third party interface for my wireless card, all the hardware I’ve plugged into it has a driver somewhere. Essentially, I’ll be examining in this post what the fuck exactly Microsoft has changed.

We’ll start with what they’ve done right. Firstly, the 6.x kernel series is pretty boss. The new driver framework is significantly better (or so I’m told). And really, that’s all I can think of that warrants an OS change.

For instance, directx 10 and 11 are pretty fucking pro. However, i can’t think of a reason they haven’t been backported to the 5.x line except for the fact that Microsoft likes money. Aero is nice to be sure, but that’s just a matter of firing out an explorer update. Microsoft markets these updates as a new operating system, but really, for the most part these are all NT4 with a bit of extra makeup slapped on. Microsoft claims to be developing Midori, but we haven’t heard anything about that for years. Chances are it will end up the next Oslo, and Microsoft will keep whoring out the NT line until the old girl collapses under the weight of the collective consumer cock (I’m quite proud of that last bit).

Holy Super Tiny Harddrives, CPU!

It amazes me constantly the advancements in storage technology. It wasn’t too long ago 2 Terabyte hard drives came out. Now a group of engineers created a chip the size of a finger nail that is 1 Terabyte. Look who just OWN’D.

And the thing that always amuses me, why do the iPhones, cell phones, or whatever have only like 32 MB of memory? Hell, give me a few gigs built in at least. It can’t be that hard.

Just wait, one of these days when you’re 80 years old, your pacemaker will have storage space, so you can watch your 3D movies on the go.

The future is gonna be baws.

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