Archived News for February 2008

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I am writing to complain about a section of the website for The New Zealand Film Archive. Specifically, in the 'About This Site' section there is a 'Copyright Statement'. Here's a portion of that statement:

"All still images and videos presented on this site are from the New Zealand Film Archive collection. No image or video may be reused without the permission of the Film Archive. The Film Archive acknowledges, with thanks, all the filmmakers and photographers who have granted us permission to reproduce their work on this site."

However, elsewhere on the site it's made clear that the Film Archive holds items dating as far back as 1895.

I find it quite distasteful that the Copyright Statement completely ignores the fact that some of the material the archive holds - all films made, or made available to the public (the later date), before 1958 - is in the public domain.

I think it is offensive to suggest that New Zealanders must seek permission before using such material however they see fit.

I understand that one of the key objectives of the Film Archive is to protect and preserve the material it holds. But I find extending unnecessary restrictions on access and use of that material, where such restrictions are not required by copyright, to be detrimental to another of the organization's goals: to encourage and promote public interest and awareness in film.

Copyright exists to promote artistic innovation in our society. But the incentive offered by copyright must be balanced against the risk of restraining materials that should rightfully be part of our national culture; free for all citizens to enjoy. This is why I find the blanket assertions of copyright, even over films that entered the public domain decades ago, to be so disagreeable.

Obviously, I believe that any use of public domain material should take into account the wishes of the original authors or filmmakers. But I believe that it's up to the user of the material to make such allowances; it's certainly not for copyright law to determine appropriate use, beyond preventing infringing acts.

I think the Film Archive is in a unique position to foster and promote the use of public domain material. To see the Archive fail to provide even rudimentary information as to the copyright status of the films it displays on the website is disappointing.

Online Texas Hold'em that Doesn't Suck

When I couldn't stand that damned Facebook application any longer, I decided to try writing a poker app using AJAX. No suspicious java applets, no crappy flash that keeps dropping connections.

Then I thought, wait, I'm not very smart. Surely someone has written an AJAX-based poker room that doesn't drop connections, doesn't cost anything, can find you a table in under a minute and, well, doesn't suck. Turns out somebody has.

Here's me.

Stolen Generation

In case you missed it:

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia

New Job

I have a new job. I now work for Eventfinder. Check it out. It's been great so far.

I must say, though, I'm a bit loath to leave Rimuhosting, where I've been for about 18 months. They really do have the best support guys, and the working environment (a bunch of people who know their stuff) was fantastic.

It's a shame there's not more hours in the day.

Heroes, Chapter One

John woke up and could write poetry.

His shopping list, that morning, was perfectly aprominated; filled with things that fit in order, sat in place like Stonehenge. And when he received his receipt, he wrote a sonnet on the reverse.

Later, that evening, he filled in the little boxes of his income tax return with an epic. He sent it away, and the IRD never came after him.

People began to notice John's new-found gifts. He left couplets in the dust on their cars. And while people were at first alarmed to see him scribbling with his finger on their Jeep's back window, they would never rub the words away.

Then John stopped writing. He took to stopping people in the street, clutching their shoulder and holding them in place. He would mumble to his feet - sometimes a line, sometimes a stanza or two - and then let the stranger go on walking.

Over the course of a few weeks, John stopped talking. He would stare at things still, and his eyes held the same intensity, but it was as if he couldn't bring himself to expression.

The liquid had run out of him, you see.

Playing Medic: Things You Should Know

  1. You are the most important member of your team, bar none. Scouts are completely useless, relying on your generous nature to survive more than a few seconds in a firefight. Pyros, demos, heavies and soldiers require your help constantly, probably because they're only played by the intellectually challenged. Snipers and spies don't do anything anyway.

    You are the person behind every cap and every steal. Never let yourself forget it. Oh, sure, Valve weighted the scoring system against you, but don't worry; deep in their heart, that heavy who charged the last point knows it's actually you that won it for the team.

Burning heavy
  1. Everyone is only shooting you because they like you so much. As a relatively meek class, it's clear that your partner's only job is to keep you alive. Their only job, mind; no capping, no taking the intel, no kicking ass.

    So, every time you die, it is somebody else's failure. Make sure you remind them of it.

Exploded demo
  1. Any time you uber is a good time to uber. You're sure to get people complaining though. "Too soon", they'll say when their incompetence prevents them from destroying the nearest sentry gun. "Too late", they'll say when they run around a blind corner into half the other team and you decide not to follow.

    When you're met with such criticism, you have a few options. The poor medic laughs it off. The mediocre medic just keeps on playing. Let me educate you as to the technique of the AWESOME medic.

    Have a pen and pad sitting beside your keyboard. Any time anyone (yes, _anyone_) criticises you, mark their name down. Put it in nice, bold lettering, so that you can see it at a glance.

    And the next time that player is calling for a medic, the next time that player is on thirty health and burning rapidly away to zero, the next time they're looking directly at you and want nothing more than to be healed, the next time their screams of "MEDIC!" fill your chat window: that time, turn your back on them. Find the nearest scout or sniper, and heal them instead.

Burning heavy
  1. Triage is harder than it looks. Say you have a few soldiers, burning, running toward you. The noob medic immediately starts evaluating their health and position, to see which he or she should heal first. WRONG! The correct tactic is to recall which player last said thank you, or credited you with a win. That's the person you should heal.

    And don't get all soppy and try to save all of them. You can't (even if you can). That's life. The people you like get healed, and anyone who criticises you is toast.

Burning heavy

Free the Web

Rob the Geek has started an interesting Facebook group: Free Auckland Wireless.

Apparently, it comes as a result of discussions at KiwiFoo '08 - the conference where only the cool kids are invited, and everyone else gets jealous and calls them names (like "kids").

There's a blog (of course), and some interesting technology to discuss.

Personally, I'm running an open wireless network. Partly because of the golden rule, but partly because I just find it really convenient. The SSID is 'free wireless -', so people know it's intentionally open, and can contact me if they want. But, as I'm stuck in the middle of suburbia, nobody has.


Last weekend we got hit by Stumbleupon:


The tiny blue values at the left of that chart (click to view a nicely expanded version) are our usual traffic. The red is what we got from Stumbleupon. Basically, we received as much traffic as we did in all of 2007 in a single day. And we're still getting quite a few loads, some 48-plus hours after the initial hit.

We've reached about 20,000 unique visitors and 50,000 page loads from the exposure. And it doesn't seem to be letting up.

It's the first time we've ever received any traffic at all from social networking sites. And it's really great to know people are reading (and some of them enjoying) the site.

So, big thanks to madlep, at for the thumbs up. Head over to his site for more TF2 news and hilarity.

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