Sunday, 31 January 2010

In the Name of Entertainment...




People love some good old cruel entertainment. When the Romans were around they screamed for the blood of men and slaves in the Arena, and now we scream for people to be shunted off stage and thrown out into the street. Since the Romans our tastes haven't changed, just the format of the show. Rather than swords they have microphones, and the only thing being killed are the songs being sung.

Shows such as American Idol, or how I like to call 'The Simon Cowell Show', are now some of the most popular programs being aired in the universe. It seems people cannot get enough of the singing, judging and dreams coming true as well as being destroyed. These shows have everything that people want in a good story. A hero fighting against all odds to achieve the impossible, as well as the villains who tries to stop them at every hurdle by criticising them and voting against them. It's incredible to think that the most popular of entertainment can be brought down to the simplicity of a fairy tale.

Unlike a fairy tale, to make these shows entertaining is not an easy task. It can be assumed that there is a heavy amount of editing and selection being done behind the scenes. The entertainment is a mix of supporting the people who have talent, and mocking those who have deluded themselves into thinking they have. The latest of series of one of the British versions of the show started to get scary. They now do the auditions in front of a live audience, where people can shout and mock the bad ones as well as cheer on the good ones. The most entertaining to watch are the ones who actually think they can sing when really they sound like a dying cat. What idiots, why did they go on the show? They must be so stupid.

Those last few comments are the things that the majority of people who watch it think. Does this sound right to you? Is it right that the people making these programs should be allowed to lead on gullible people who think that they possibly have a chance to live their dreams? When really the people making it know they are going out to be mocked and booed. Is it right to march them out in front of a crowd that is ready to harass anyone who looks a bit different or is unusual? As much as people don't like to think it, these shows act as a world class bully to society. When Susan Boyle was brought out on stage, everyone laughed at her because she looked funny but then was shocked when she had a decent voice. Obviously in the music industry you have to be good looking to have a good voice. It just emphasises the stereotype that beautiful people must be better at things than not attractive people.

These shows are very loosely based on music and are all about the people. It is made to look like a place where every moral decision is right. If people start to mock and laugh at someone, it is made to look not cruel but glorified. We always hear of the people who have lost someone close to them and are singing in memory of their dead father or supporting cancer, and they always end up to be the good singers. We never hear about the bad ones who have a sob story to tell because that isn't entertaining.

This type of aspirational television isn't all bad. It is providing people who would have never had the chance to be discovered record deals. It gives money to the managers and fame to the people who can reach it. The dark side of it is the shocking way that other human beings are being treated for everyone's amusement. It could be said that these people are choosing to go on, so if they get laughed at it is their own fault, but when the auditions initially don't go well before they get sent on stage is it right for them just to be put out to be laughed at? If they don't know better then it's someone's responsibility to tell them that before making and idiot out of themselves on national television.

This make believe world isn't right, and these types of shows should probably be stopped. Do people not think it's wrong to march someone out to be laughed at? Hopefully we will not end up in a world where we just prounce any mentally challanged or deluded person in front of a crowd to be laughed at in the name of entertainment.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

iPad isn't iNtresting?







Apple have undoubtedly made some of the top gadgets of the last decade. By that I mean the iPhone and iPod which are as useful as having a third arm, with Facebook. However their latest release doesn't appear to have an obvious market and is the iPad really going to worth buying? What extra functionalities will this add  which people havn't already got?

When buying a product one of the first things you will notice is who it is made by. People have now started to choose a brand and stick with it. Great examples being Microsoft and Apple, but should people really have brand loyalty? Companies are driven by one thing, money. Each of these companies wants to take the most amount of money they can off you, so I would be careful when dedicating yourself to just one major brand. Microsoft make some very good products and so do Apple but both of them also make products that are about as useful as a non-alcoholic shot.

This is not to say that the Ipad is useless. The presentation showed us all the things it can do, such as store our music, view the world wide web, store our pictures, check out maps from around the world; wait a minute isn't this starting to sound like another device that Apple have brought out? The iPhone is of course very similar to this device and in many ways is better. The iPhone can surprisingly be used as a phone as well as a camera to go with it. There is no physical reason why Apple could not have fit a camera in this first model, which could be so it doesn't affect iPhone sales. The device's main feature is it's big screen as well as its impressively low price. The device does look useful for people that enjoy reading e-books, which Apple have now kindly changed the name to iBooks, with its bright impressive display and extra features. For advanced users the device does look pretty useless but for some casual users who don't already own an iPhone it may have its own advantages.

This device doesn't look like people will be using it to read to their hearts content on the train just yet. All though is has a nice display to read off it doesn't look as portable in the way that the iPhone is, meaning you won't be able to carry it in your pocket. However it does appears to appeal to people that carry around a bag or suitcase. Unlike a laptop which you have to power on, as well as being a hassle to take out, this device seems to be the alternative, allowing easy access to it wherever you are.

Compared to other e-book readers this device does offer a lot more functionality and memory. It's also in the same price ranges, if you don't want 3G, which makes it the better option out of all the e-book  readers out there currently. Also you should be able to run all your iPhone Apps on this device due to the touch screen and the tilt function. Let's not all forget the Macbook Air which was a very similar concept to this device but didn't create a large amount of revenue.

The low price does appear impressive but this may actually be because the market size is so small. It doesn't appear to be useful to a lot of people and the majority will definitely not need one. Personally this device does just seem to be aimed at those people who just buy anything that is 'shiny and made by Apple'. It's functionality may be useful for some, but doesn't offer anything we haven't seen before.

If you are intending on buying an iPad, take your time to have a play on it and check out it's features first. It may be useful if you have a phobia of actually buying real books, which are far easier to read anywhere and also come without the risk of being stabbed or shot for your new shiny expensive Apple product.

Note from the Author: I did want to rhyme iBad with iPad for a nice title but after googling it does appear that other people have already used that awesome title for their articles.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Less Linking, More Writing





I wrote this as a guest blogger for the site Lockergnome and can also be read here
.

The Internet is a great tool for finding out the news. If I need to find out something I can simply go on Google and type in some words, related to the story, and sure enough it will send me a link to the article. I like the Internet for this reason, however, some Web sites are starting to irritate me.
I have written for many Web sites for free. The problem I find is that most sites simply want a scarce amount of your own work, with a link to the full source you have found. For me, I find this a problem. Being a writer, I like to write about topics. Sure enough at the end of an editorial article, I would like to link to all my sources where I got the information from, however, these sites don’t want long articles. They want a brief summary and a simply a link to the page.
I used to write for a particular site and wrote quite long articles on subjects, such as ‘How to Make Your Own Games’ as well as some information about gadgets that people may find useful. The longer I wrote on this site, the more I started to find I was doing something quite different from everyone else. The majority of other, supposed writers were simply copying and pasting part of an article they had found, and publishing it on this site. I then decided to do it for some stuff I had found, but then I thought to myself, what is the point?
People don’t get paid to post links. In fact, these sites are now becoming dependent on users uploading other writers’ articles for no cost at all. I stopped just copying and pasting because there is honestly no point in doing this. For me, a wannabe writer, there is no skill in simply copying a link and showing it to everyone else. If you have enough time on your hands anyone can find interesting things but it isn’t a skill. This isn’t always the case for all link uploading. When you do find something interesting, feel free to post it, but serially posting different links to a site — probably believing they may give you something back — is something I find harsh and misleading.
When people are literally uploading links over and over again to a site, do they think they are going to get recognised as a writer or a journalist? I have not heard yet of any successful writers being noticed for linking to other people’s work. Looking at many sites now (i.e. Twitter), this is more apparent than ever. There is now a horrendous amount of people sharing ridiculous amounts of links.
I am far from being classed as a successful writer, but I feel that it is actual writing and creativity that people are looking for. Is running a site based on other people’s material not plagiarism or some form of illegal copying? These sites are getting hits because of other people’s Web sites. Do we really need these middlemen sites to tell us what to look at without giving us a real explanation why, or adding anything of their own?
I do understand that in order to get traffic you have to be noticed on one of these sites, but why are people uploading other people’s articles and claiming to be news sites? If a Web site is claiming to be a news site and not just a link-sharing service like StumbleUpon or Digg (which I have no problem with), then they can’t simply upload lots of other people’s work, which they have written for other sites, and claim their site has any worthwhile content.
Then again I might be wrong. Maybe people simply enjoy uploading links and getting noticed, as well as not being particularly interested in becoming a professional. I am, of course, not accounting for people’s good nature. For example, if I upload something I find interesting, then someone else may also upload something I like. However, I highly doubt that people who invest hours of their time, for free, to show other people’s work don’t expect something back for their efforts. Can we not at least force these sites calling themselves news sites to attempt to at least make users comment on an article before uploading it to their site, or — even better — their own editorial response to an article?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sharing is Caring







To start this post with a dry statement, in economics there is a theory called the low lying fruit theory. This theory sates that if you want something you are going to take the easiest route to get it. For example if there is an apple tree and you want an apple, you would probably take one of the apples lower down in the tree, rather than go back and get a ladder in a desperate attempt to clamber to the top.

This is the same situation the music, games and movies industry. Rather than clambering to buy their music people can now get hold of it for free with much less hassle than driving to a shop or putting in your credit card details, but is this right? Logically it makes a lot of sense. If someone can download something with for free with a minimal chance of getting caught they would probably do it, and they do. Stealing from the internet is a lot different than steeling from a shop. With no secret goods to hide, piled up in your garage, people find they can detach themselves more from the crime and forget it's a crime all together. Can something that is so easy be so wrong? But we all know why people download things but is there any real way that companies will be able to stop it, or are they partly to blame?

When the first music sharing sites came it was a very logical step to take for people. If you buy an album and upload it so other people can listen to it, then someone else will probably upload an album that you want to listen to. That way both of you will have to buy one less album, saving everyone money. Music sharing is simply advanced CD swapping. The music industry potentially took the wrong approach to music sharing. If they may have embraced the software and used it to advance the music industry, rather than dam it and everyone who uses it to hell, they probably wouldn't be in the situation they are now.
Steam and itunes is a step in the right direction. People now appear to want to pay very little for their media and want it stored digitally on their computers, probably so they can share it. Torrents have also affected the market allowing people to now share huge programs and efficiently. 
One question is that is this actually affecting the media industry as a whole? I myself have heard that the claims these companies are making about money loss are ridiculous. For example some music companies have decided to count one song download as an album lost. It is pretty unlikely to say if someone downloads one song illegally that they would have bought the album otherwise.
For new artists it can be unfair.

If an artist was to write a song and they have just started out, would it be right to download their song free? It also asks the questions are all musicians in it for the money, or to spread their music?

File sharing has been with us for a long time now, and with the sites and programs still standing, there is a strong chance that it may be with us for a long time. Hopefully we wont live in a time where itunes want to put in a limit on songs, so we can only play each track a 100 times and then have to buy it again. What can we do?
What was the last bit of media you bought?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Morons Make Motion Controls



With the Wii making stupendous amounts of money at the moment, I noticed at E3 last year on the webstream (since my blogging budget doesn't currently have enough in to bribe someone for a place) that everyone is trying to copy Nintendo by making it take a lot more energy and effort to play games.

Gaming is no longer something that people do when they want to wind down after a long day at work or school to help relieve the stress of everyday life. Someone in the gaming industry thinks that in these modern times everyone wants to be jumping around their living rooms to supposedly make the games more fun. I agree to an extent that a game that involves lots of unnecessary movement may be fun, for a while. Then you start to realise that you can have fun with games that also don't require you to trounce about the room like a moron, and decide that you would rather play them.

When companies start to take motion control seriously and treat it not like it's a gimic  its time to start worrying. Motion sensing, partially, is the way forward to add that extra dimension of gameplay but some companies are going in the completely wrong direction. The PS3 went in the right direction with the controller being able to direct the game by tilting the controller. Microsoft should get that technology in there pretty soon if they have any sense. I am still not sure why Sony the called the PS3's motion control six axis? When you are in 3D you only have 2 axis's so it would be impossible to move it in 6 axis's. Dam you Sony and your incorrect statements. I assume they called it that because it can move in six directions, being the bright guy I am.

Project Natal is starting to look like one step too far. After seeing the demo on a woman trying to block basketballs, which you can watch here, I feel that I could never personally do that and have a genuine game experience that is fulfilling and fun, as well as keeping my dignity. I then will probably get hit back with the criticism that it isn't meant to be fulfilling and interesting it's just meant to be fun. This is the reason why it's a gimic. Gaming has always been about having an experience and a story with a sense of accomplishment at the end, which  is the exact opposite to what these devices are trying to promote. This type of thing won't last and at most it's a gimic that is going to be bled for all the money it's worth.

Microsoft are not the only guilty party. Sony are just as bad bringing out their magic wand stick thing which works exactly like the Wii controller does now with its new upgrade. This one looks a bit more bearable because it doesn't have you jumping around, but the Wii has already done this exact same which isn't great. It also means we have to buy two attachments instead of one. Project Natal looks a lot better and appears to be the next unfortunate step forward in this gimic, where as Sony still seem to pondering in the safe already proven to work Wii remote.

The problem facing Sony and Microsoft is that they are now also trying to appeal to the casual gamer which Nintendo is already calling the shots on. If you look at the trends that have stuck with controllers we have joysticks, shoulder buttons, rumbling and possibly Sony's 6 axis which probably will catch on. For some games you need buttons and that will always be the case, until they can find a way we can control games with our mind.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Pick and Go Gaming




Gaming in this day and age has never really been restricted to one place. In the ancient years of computing you would probably need a small van to be able to carry all the peripherals around, but with all the new technology such as the iPhone and the Nintendo DS you are now able to play games at even the most inappropriate of times.  A good example being, myself, seeing a child playing on a Nintendo DS in the middle of a restaurant while the rest of his family actually communicate with each other. They must be a very close family.
My own family is a big Nintendo DS family. We may not hand them out to the more irritating members of the family, but we do have two normal, two ds lites and a DSI. This is a system been made for every member of the family. The reason the DS is so good is because of its innovation. There really is no other gaming device like it, apart from the iPhone. Touch screen does seem to be the future of portable gaming.
The iPhone is one of the best gadgets of last decade with Nintendo DS games now also being released on the iPhone also. Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars has recently been ported to the iPhone from the DS and is better looking the DS version, as well as not missing out any features from the original game. The rate technology is evolving is astonishing.
The Playstation Portable or PSP was one of the big releases for portable gaming but unfortunately didn't turn out to be an as good device as Sony were claiming. The controls were not as well implemented than on other systems, which were about as easy as rescuing an angry cat from a tree. The lack of decent games didn't make consumers very happy since the device was quite pricey for what it really was. You also had to buy your own memory cards, the screen scratched easily and all the games had a plastic casing that was about as aesthetically pleasing as a dead cat. Cats aside, the only real good thing about it was that you could get some applications on it, but that has now been dwarfed by the iPhone and other modern smartphones. The new PSP Go looks like the controls are going to be very similar and with games only being able to be downloaded it adds another reason to close down stores that sell media. Be aware, over the next decade or so what happened to the music industry will start to happen to games. Less people will buy games in shops and everyone will download them. Stores like Steam will do what Itunes did to music.
Going retro, the Gameboy Original, Gameboy Advance,Gameboy Colour and the Gameboy SP were another family of portable gaming devices. The only good thing about these systems was in all honesty the Pokemon games, which were unmatched as RPG games go, Zelda and Tetris. I am sure everyone is waiting for the first MMORPG version of the Pokemon games which is probably going to be made in the next decade. Will these appear on handheld consoles? The likeliness is that with internet access rapidly increasing, there will be a strong chance with more updated systems we will see these type of games on portable devices.
Portable gaming is going to expand to the point where all gaming may be portable. It is only a matter of time until they make the quality of gaming at home the same while travelling. We can also hold on for Microsoft's inevitable stab at the portable gaming industry. With all games soon to become simply data, we must now all fear when someone invents a decent Electro Magnetic Pulse that will wipe all data off systems, rendering them all useless, and making Rock Paper Scissors the portable game of the year.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sony's Sountracks, Microsoft's Melodies, Nintendo's Notations





As Gaming budgets have increased over the years and hardware is now sufficient to do so, game soundtracks are becoming more and more popular. This new type of music is starting to break into the soundtrack charts with a lot more thought and time being put into the production value for some of these major scores.

We have gone from the ancient 8 bit songs of the past to Killzone 2 which has a complete orchestral score. It is amazing how games are now getting as big a budget as some movies are. Good soundtracks in games have been going on for a while now. One of the best versions of an interactive soundtrack is Banjo Kazooie game for the Nintendo 64.  In this game as you walk around the environment the soundtrack changes seamlessly based on the background. For example you walk from a creepy castle into a pirate themed level the music will change without pause keeping the same tune but changing the theme. The same happens when you jump underwater. This is a perfect example of what music in games should be.

If you are into the music game scene you may also be aware of the Orchestral Games Concert which is a competition where orchestras will cover game themes. There is a wide range of scores here from classics such as Chrono Trigger as well as a piece containing all the ocarina songs from Zelda. Another orchestra that cover many soundtracks is the Eminence Orchestra which can found on Youtube doing covers of some of the top music in games.

Gaming has become more of an art form over time. It started out as back room geeks making a few games for people to play to a huge industry with artists, composers and programmers all coming together to create the best experience possible for players. Shadow of Colossus on the Playstation 2 is a prime example of a game that is a piece of art. The soundtrack for this is a breathtaking orchestral score with many different themes and parts. The game design is excellent in which you will have to climb epic monsters larger than skyscrapers. The graphics, for the time, were some of the best looking out there.

Music in retro games has also inspired some modern bands such as Anamanaguchi who create music using sounds from the 8 bit age of music and adding guitars drums and other instruments over the top. If you haven’t heard of them they are worth checking out if you enjoy fun vibrant music.

If you are interested in game music you can also check out my own group which is called, ‘I Confess, I Listen to Game Music’ which is on the side under the ‘Not Just a Blogger’ section. On there I have uploaded a few of the best soundtracks as well as links to some documentaries on how they create the music for games.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Is the Wii the Real Winner?



Console wars has had lots of people arguing for many years, with people now actually starting to physically attack Wii users. This recent version of the console wars involves the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and the Playstation 3 but which is the best console?

Before starting, we need to stop people's nature to highly defend their purchases with everything they've got. Both consoles are good in different ways but over all is there actually a console that is substantially better than the other, or are they all badly built, badly programmed gimics?

The Xbox 360, we can all agree is better online which is probably because you have to pay for it. You get what you pay for with these consoles, which is the problem I think facing most people when choosing. The PS3 is the more expensive console initially, because of the more advanced hardware. When choosing between the consoles you have to sacrafice one of these options. The better online experience or the blue ray player, and possibly better looking and games with more content if the game developers can ever find out how to work the PS3 hardware. I honestly think Sony must have rushed out their console and not programmed it properly, making it a lot harder for developers to make games for.

Getting it out the way, the Xbox 360 does break a lot. Practically everyone I know has had to send off their Xbox to get repaired. The worst part is that they haven't even only had to send it off once but many times. When they design a console to break,which it has been, you have to make sure that it at least lasts the warrenty period, otherwise you simply end up with a lot of debt and a lot of smug competitors. The decision to make it last a shorter time could be because of the PS3's hardware being superior but we can't assume anything.

The Playstation 3 started off with a very poor exclusive game release, however over time that as got a lot better. Currently the Playstation has more exclusive titles but the PS3 is still missing out on the Halo franchise and Gears of War, which are both incredible games, and also missing out on a few expansion packs for Fallout 3 and Grand Theft Auto. There are many more games I would like on the PS3 such as Fable but I won't go into them all. Feel free fanboys to make a nice long list in the comments section.

Looking at the console war money wise the Wii dominates completely, making the most money and making the most sales. Selling out to already existing gamers will now appear to be the best option and by appealing to the masses it has made the most cash. However the Wii has arguably the worst games out of all three of the major consoles, as well as the worst hardware. I can think of far more fun things to do while shaking my hand. However all may not be lost. People don't play casual games forever. By making gaming far more accessible we may see an increase in the amount of gamers in the years to come

The argument at the end of the day comes down to the boring fact that neither are better at everything, and they are all adequate pieces of equipment. In my own choice I initially bought a PS3 and started to regret it due to the lack of games, but then slowly started to enjoy more as more exclusive content came out and was particularly happy when Xbox 360's all around me started to blow up. My family also bought a Nintendo Wii which apart from the latest Zelda instalment and Mario I have been quite disappointed by. The only thing the Wii has managed to do is convince me that I'm overweight and almost break my TV when the Wii remote flew out of my hand. The final result is:

Xbox 360: Breaks and isn't powerful enough but better online play.
PS3: Powerful enough but barely anyone knows how to make games for it.
Wii: Selling the most but has awful controls and is only for people who don't know how to play real games.

Gaming Week Continuing on Wednesday

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A Link to the Past: My Gaming History

Monday



I think I will kick off the week by telling you about my own gaming experience. Being a young guy, I am now part of the generation who's first major games console was the Nintendo 64. That console, unlike some of today's which are about as reliable as  bankers, was made to last. In fact my console still works to this day more than a decade after it was released.
In many ways the Nintendo 64 was a better console for gaming than some released this generation. The N64 used cartridges and was the last home console to do so. Cartridges were made to last. These games still work now as well now as they did in 1997. At the moment I can't see any of my discs lasting that long, since they all appear to be suicidal and seem to enjoy scratching themselves at any given opportunity.
In the good old days if the game wouldn't start no worries. You would simply blow into the cartridge to get out the dust which would then fix the game perfectly. Those were the days when you didn't have to worry about leaving games out of their cases. Those games didn't even have cases, just boxes, and you could literally leave them out for years and they would still work.
My N64 lasted me all the way through my troubled childhood. As a child, I always enjoyed chewing on the controller lead, which never gave up until I took my last bite and went through to the wires. Not to worry though. My dad simply stuck on some black tape over the hole, reconnected the wires and it worked again. The only real cable I can chew on now is the one going to the plug or the HDMI lead, but they are made from a much stronger plastic. Luckily for me I now have a set of much stronger teeth. One frightful morning the Nintendo 64 actually fell off the table it lived on, and smashed onto the floor. Resilient as it was, there was no need for a replacement as the console battled on through the torrent of abuse it received from my childish tendencies to break everything in sight, and still lives on today.
My gaming childhood was an interesting one. One of my memories was going round to my dad's friend's house, where he fixes arcade machines. I would play on them for hours, playing all the retro classics in all their glory. It was an interesting part of my life, when I discovered all of the games I had missed out on, such as Battlezone, the first interactive 3D game with its vector line graphics, and the original Space Invaders.




To me Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Mario 64 were some of the best games from my own childhood. Most people now, who haven't played these games may find it hard to enjoy them because of the step backward in the graphics department, but to me they still look as good as any game.

As time went on, and I grew older and smellier, I still carried on buying consoles. My next big purchase was the Playstation 2. The choices of games were huge, and still are to this day. I also bought the Nintendo Gamecube which I loved even more. My favourite game, by far, was Resident Evil 4 which scared me so much I wet the bed, but also gave me a hell of a lot of fun. I still wonder why they used those mini-discs which I have never really seen again. They seemed like a good idea at the time until now, where we need huge discs to contain massive amounts of data for the pretty graphics.

Now currently I have the Playstation 3, sticking with Sony because of the success of the Playstation 2, and a Nintendo Wii. I won't go into the ridiculous amount of handheld consoles I own since that will take far too long and they shall be discussed another day.

Now that’s your insight to my gaming past, but enough about me. Stay prepared for tomorrow’s instalment of gaming week which attempt to answer the question that gamers have been arguing over for some time now.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Go Get Games for Gamer Week!



When I have to start an article with an apology then usually I would scrap it but in this case it's going to be a bit different. I appreciate not everyone likes games, and people probably hate gamers even more, but next week I shall be uploading one article every day with something to do with gaming.
Not to worry noob readers, I will try and make the content as accessible as possible so everyone can understand what I'm talking about. I must point out at this point, if you don't know what a noob is then you probably are one. You may need to look it up on Urban Dictionary. Gamers hate noobs and noobs hate gamers, so I intend to bring interesting articles to these two types of people, and create an enjoyable experience for them together in perfect harmony. The the good thing  for noobs is that blogs, unlike games, make it harder for people pwn your poor soul so much you turn off your computer.
I shall now be leaving you to go and play the hardest, most complicated and random game ever created. Life.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Face Your Friends Another Way




Facebook is one of those websites that is slowly taking over the whole world. It's doing what Google did to search engines (beating down anyone else who dared) with it's massive market share. What software can this bulging veiny beast of a social networking site take down next?

Facebook started out as a site for students to use to keep up with each other for people who went to Harvard. Then more universities started using it, and now the entire world uses it. Old or young, big or small, Sony or Microsoft, no matter your preference, the whole world is now using this website for almost all of their online social interactions, but why? What has this site got to offer that no other site does, and how is it slowly demolishing the rest of the social software out there?

Facebook and other social networking sites go together like polar bears and global warming. When I was a boy, or a younger boy, everyone used to use MSN. We used it because it was simple. You add your friend's email address, and whenever they are online you can send them a message instantly. You could even show what music you were listening to. In my circle of friends a lot of people have now stopped using MSN because of Facebook's chat options. Still Facebook Chat is a long way from the latest Live Messenger. You can't use webcams, so now how are you meant to look at your hot friends? Also without the ability to use a mic, you can't even talk to your mediocre friends like you can on other software. The reason more people now use Facebook chat is because of the convenience. Opening one program to do all your social activities is far more easier than opening up a few programs, for the majority of people.

I love Skype. Everyone should get Skype. Humans were made to talk to each other face to face, not type. I always feel like I'm cheating the phone companies when I can talk to someone for free on my computer. Facebook isn't converting Skype users because it isn't offering what Skype is. Skype  has many other features such as you can call people on their actual phones by buying credit. If you have an iPhone Skype will only work when you are on a wifi signal to stop everyone calling each other for free. It is only a matter of time until Facebook manages to catch up with this trend, since people are already uploading their mobile numbers to Facebook.

This situation reminds me of a situation last decade when I got my first iPod. Soon, I thought, they will make the iPod camera, then the iPod video camera, then the iPod phone. These big companies behaviour are usually quite predictable but the iPhone is one huge step forward which I don't think anyone could have predicted the millions of ways you can use it. Will Facebook have the same revolutionary step forward or simply go along the boring path it's expected to take?

Myspace used to contend with Facebook. Never being a real Myspace user I can't exactly say how and in what ways Myspace is different, but from word of mouth and seeing people change over, I can only assume that Facebook is far superior. I still see many bands though using Myspace so maybe it isn't an epic fail in comparison.

Blogging surprisingly does not seem to appear on Facebook. In a way updating your status Twitter style could be seen as a kind of blogging but it isn't proper blogging, like this page. Then again to me proper blogging is someone writing something about this long so maybe I'm just old fashioned that way.

Twitter is the worst idea since mankind existed and I'm only going to use 140 characters it allows me to review it. I seem to have already used them up. You can only blame yourself Twitter you Twit.

Still at the top of my social networking sites is Omegle. Who wants to talk to friends and people they acutally know. That's boring, people want to talk to random people and see what they have to say. You can go on a dating site where people set up profiles to meet people but Omegle has such an emphasis on not trusting anyone it makes it far more interesting. Also you can choose what information you tell people and not have to edit your profile so your parents don't know what your really doing with your time.

With Facebook already dominating the picture side of social networking it is now only a matter of time before it takes over more things like MSN. Their chat system does appear more reliable than it did when it first started, and time will only tell whether they choose to add in a phone feature, a webcam chat feature and maybe even a talk to a random person feature. I will long await the day when Facebook will do everything for me. However things like Facebook have a habit of coming and going. Soon it may die out like our good friend Twitter is slowly having to admit failure as its users slowly drift out on to other services like Farmville, which currently has more users. The day Twitter has its last Tweet will be the happiest day of my life.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow, Merry Christmas





I have been sat at home now for three days in a row. This is not because I don't have a life and spend most of my days at home writing on the internet. I have been stuck here because of the snow. On December 25th everyone was happy with the snow but as it persists on in the streets, people are getting a bit less merry.

To find things to write about daily can take a lot of effort. You always have to be out and looking for something to write about. Now after the first ten blogs I am finding it impossible to write without leaving the house, experiencing new things and discussing topics with people.

This year has been the worst year in my life for snow. I have not been able to leave my house since my drive is covered. The car refuses to move, probably because it has the worst wheels known to man, which provide as much grip as a baby's skin.
Christmas and snow don't mix. At one of the busiest times of year you would want the weather to be perfect. Maybe God is playing a sick joke on everyone by making the snow come down when everyone is trying to get home. Wouldn't you hate to be stuck on the highway and a jolly, smug, fat man goes past you on a sleigh with his reindeer. You would just have to remember that he's screwed any other time of the year when the snow doesn't decide to fall.
I went for a walk in the park last evening and I must admit it was a strange feeling. It gets dark very quick now it's winter. If you look around you, it's interesting to see all the marks in the snow left by people playing in the day. As I walked across I saw someone had made an igloo. I was impressed, but it was now falling down and I'm not sure how much longer time will let it stand. The cars creep up on you as you walk next to them. They move slowly and cautiously, making sure they don't swivel out of control.
Snow and ice also brings more accidents with their arrival. I am dreading tonight where I have no choice but to attempt to drive for an evening shift. Worse still the return journey is going to be in the dark. I think I may have to risk a long cold walk to work rather than having to risk driving. Walking will be longer and there will probably be more slipping but there is no chance of crashing. Then again, if lots of cars are sliding around and I'm not in a car, maybe I have more of a chance of getting hurt?
If I don't upload a new blog tomorrow or over the weekend then you know what might have happened to me.  I hope this doesn't jinx my walk to work and I am now condemned to die, with only my blog as my final voice. To set all your minds at rest I have now arrived home since it takes a while to proof read and edit each blog before I can upload it. After looking over this it seems I have resorted to talking about my life. Don't worry the next blog will be far more interesting, I hope.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

What's Worse than Fucking on the Dance Floor and Then Simply Intertacking by Shooting Strangers and Tweeting about your Dirty Secret



Ten blogs already. To think a week and a day ago I just found out that this site existed. Being the creative person I am, I have decided to look back at the previous nine blogs and reminisce about how I started blogging as well as what is to come in the near future.


What's Worse Than Being a Blogger?
My first blog ever, was about the question what is worse than being a blogger. Did I answer that question properly? No, I simply said that the worse type of blogger you can be is a blogger who writes stuff that no one reads. Well there's my first blog ruined. I didn't think at that point that the blog would last as long as a week, or I would put as much time as I have into the blog. I guess I surprised myself.


Fuck! Does it Offend You? Yeah
The word Fuck was something that had always fascinated me, but rather than repeat the entire article I thought I would say a bit more about it. The idea for this came from the picture I made called 'The Wall of Fuck' a few weeks before I started the blog. I started making a few websites to get some links to the picture but it never did end up anywhere else apart from this blog now. My arty side may make an appearance later on, especially when I start to get angry emails about using others peoples cartoons.


Domestic on the Dance Floor
Domestic on the dance floor, is based on an actual nightclub in Manchester called The Birdcage. You might be interested to know that it's a transvestite bar every other night of the week apart from Wednesdays, where there is a huge night for students that is immensely popular. I usually go there every few weeks but as you may have picked up, I was not happy that night, or drunk enough. The picture was taken there as they lead out a guy who had just thrown up somewhere, nice.


Simply the Best
Simply the best is about some of my religious views. I must point out that the first few blogs I still didn't have a proper style, and don't yet, so this was an attempt by me at a different style of writing. In this I try to apply logic and personal feelings to religion to see what I actually thought and reveal my own thoughts. I am surprised I got no hatred after my controversial opinion was unveiled, but reading it back it is a bit more topic based than entertainment value, unlike the others


Intertack
Intertack is about the genuine obsession I have had with the internet. It started when I first got a computer in my bedroom and now has flourished into a full on addiction. Side effects may include weight gain, social awkwardness and square eyes. It also mentions how vlogging is affecting people and how journalists may have a hard time soon when people are writing for free.


Shooting People Isn't Fun?
I do play games a frequently but since everyone who owns a next generation console probably has this game then I thought it would be decent enough to write about. The one thing that shocked me about this game was that the publicity it got was so unnecessary. There are far more violent games that never get a mention but they got the balance just right. They were able to get free advertising, and not get banned. People should stop lowering themselves to complain about things that want to be complained about.


Never Talk To Strangers
Omegle is a great website and one which I can spend a lot of time on some days. I have noticed that recently the numbers have increased and I have seen on the comments I may have missed out a few groups. I can say that Omegle is probably a topic I will come back to in the future.


Tweeting, Speaking and Writing
More recently Tweeting, Speaking and Writing, attempts to emphasise what I am doing. I am writing long posts because I am trying to go against the flow. To hopefully entertain people but also preventing them from falling into the trap of only reading short pieces of writing. I also have a go at the type of person who just looks at a large piece of text and doesn't attempt to read it because obviously reading takes too much effort. However I may have to make some new layout choices to make the site look less daunting.


My Dirty Phone Call Secret
My confession is about the shocking industry I work is a true one. Obviously they are still making money, which means telemarketing works, so that is how they are still existing. I have worked there, part time, for around 5 months now and it's a good part time job. I have no idea how any human being can do that full time. They are even talking about getting in Playstation 3s and Xbox 360s to keep the staff from killing themselves in their breaks.

All article links are below.

What's to Come in the Future?
I do have some targets I hope to reach by blog number 20. I have put the site in some search engines as well as attempting to get some more people looking by putting the site on stumble.com and digg. That should drive more traffic to the site, so I am aiming to get double the amount of followers which is at the moment is going to mean getting up to 32.
Getting more people isn't going to just come from me writing more, I am also going to have to increase the quality and now after ten articles I can hopefully do that well enough. One thing that also makes the page more appealing, is comments. I don't want to force people to comment, but the more comments the better. If you could express your opinion it will also help me get better in general.
Finally I have had my arm twisted so I now have to do a vlog. I am not a great fan of vlogging but since I said I would give it a shot, I now have to. I am at the moment thinking about a decent topic that I will be able to talk about, and drafting a script.
I appreciate I haven't written that much and you probably don't want to know that much about me but I will also be answering any questions on the vlog if anyone wants to know anything about me. If you could ask one question it might be useful for me and not make the experience for me a complete epic fail.

Also the person who comments the best alternative title using all the titles from the last 9 blogs wins a prize.

My Dirty Phone Call Secret

Thanks for all the support up to now and keep reading!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

My Dirty Phone Call Secret




After loosing my blogging virginity just under a week a go, I think it's time I reveal a tiny bit more about myself. I do have a secret very close to my heart and I now feel me, and my readers have a bond. A bond that cannot be easily broken. Yes, it may come as a shock but I now believe you can now cope with the truth. I'm a part-time telemarketer.

I know what you must be thinking. How could he not tell us? What a fucking scum bag, I hope he gets run over in the night and eaten by wild dogs. I'm the lowest of the low. My job is to irritate, depress and sell things.

The worst bit is I'm not just a telemarketer, I'm the worst kind, a cold caller. If you aren't familiar with the terminology, a cold caller is someone who will call random people to attempt to sell them products or services that they may not need, like a scout girl selling cookies but without the smile. That's the downside for anyone who's on the other side of the phone. However there are some positives for me, in this excuse for a part time job. Speaking to random people can bring about some fun, so I am going to tell you some of the truths about what happens behind the phone.

Working in a call centre can be dull. The people there are constantly looking for ways to entertain themselves while also being whipped into making the most sales with constant assessments and training. For a while you can occupy yourself by drafting your suicide note in your notebook, or speaking to people around you, but soon that will start to get dull. You get to the stage where you are so bored that you will want to piss off people on the phone just because you can. Then the fun begins.

Most of the phone numbers we use are off websites that people put their details in to look for insurance. These people are usually unaware that their number is going to be passed on to companies like ours, since they don't feel it necessary to read the terms and conditions before agreeing.

When someone asks where did you get my details from, there are two responses you can give them. One of them is the response people use when they are trying to work to get better commission, and the other is simply to piss people off to get a better laugh at your expense. The first being:

 'You will have put your details in one of our sister company websites'.

To me, that sounds reasonable and people usually just say OK and politely ask you to leave them alone. The second response would be:

 'What will have happened was a website you have put your details in will have passed them on to us'.

That sentence has caused more arguments than any other I have heard. The worst bit for the customer, if you can call them that, is that what we do as a company is completely legal, meaning that all their arguments are futile and the caller has no chance of winning. People complain and threaten but in the end they will not be able to stop the power of the call centre.

There are also ways we can call people back, even if they don't want the call. If you hang up then we will call you back in half an hour, every half an hour, until you pick up. If you say the words 'not interested', we can actually use it as a loop hole meaning we can keep your details in our system. If you do however ask us to remove your details from the system then, legally, we have to take them off and we shouldn't call you again.

Another way to ruin a persons day is when someone tells us to take off the details when it isn't the person's name on the system. Regardless of who's number it is, we cannot take details off the system unless you are the person that we have written in front of us. This can happen a lot when we call a house phone and someone's wife asks us to take the number off the system when her husband is out, possibly with other women.

Don't try and irritate us. I know people who have then written down the persons number and put it in every insurance site they can find for revenge. You can be rude but be warned, there is another person on the other end of the line.

Why do people become telemarketers? The pay is very good, for a part time and full time job. The hours are flexible and there is usually always work to be had. The downsides are that it is a very dull job. I must have introduced myself to random people over the phone more times than I would want to admit. At least I can eat at my desk and don't have to deal with people face to face, until people actually get fed up and come looking for me. When I can no longer hide behind the headset. However all the threats I  have had haven't happened, yet.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Tweeting, Speaking and Writing




As a blogger/writer, I am now being made obsolete by sites such as Twitter and Youtube. They are like the Nintendo Wii when it comes to gaming. In order to make games accessible to everyone, including computer illiterate people who still use their disc drive as cup holders, they must make everything easier to work and  understand.

Writing long blogs and articles is now becoming uncool as peoples attention spans are being limited to 140 characters thanks to the 'tweet'. Out of all the criticism I get for my blogs the majority is from people that say they are too long. I will usually happily take criticism and use it to improve and develop my own unique style, but anyone who says my blogs are 'too' long are not the people I am looking to entertain.

I like to think of myself as a writer as well as a blogger. When you watch a film or a video you can argue that the video does go on for too long and you get bored. The interesting  point is that apparently reading takes 'effort', and because you can't be bothered to read something because it looks to long is not a valid reason. Reading a blog does not have to be done in a certain time frame. I do edit what I write and try to keep it interesting all the way through, so if do start to get dull, while reading, then tell me and if I agree I will change. The article is written in a way so that you can read it from start to finish. I try and keep to the point and not talk on aimlessly about topics that have nothing to do with the article at all, like gaming.

Unlike the Nintendo Wii, I am not going to start vlogging just yet and appeal to the masses because that is not my style. The problem with Youtube is that because anyone can upload a video the chances of being stuck in the mediocrity of people is overwhelming. There is a chance of this happening with blogs, but you are far more likely to not get caught in the flow of everyone else. The amount of people on Youtube who leave video comments are mesmerising. Honestly, who has time to make a video response to something. I would rather they leave a nice long comment. If only Youtube didn't also limit their comments to a tiny amount.

I am not completely against Youtube. In fact I do spend quite a lot of time on it. The problem it faces now is that quality is beginning to hit an all time low. The rating system on Youtube is not getting through to people. Why still make videos if people think every video you make is awful. People should be kicked off the site if they are not contributing anything useful or decent to society. If you own a camera or a webcam, it does not mean you have the right equipment to make Youtube Videos. If you have the right equipment, it doesn't mean you are the right person to make Youtube videos. The amount of people that simply mumble inaudible noises in a dark room amazes me. One promise I have made to myself is that I will not make a video until I am able to capture good quality audio, video and have high quality title and ending sequences with quirky quotes shooting at people. I will also be forced to train myself into talking in an interesting way.

Blogging at the moment is slowly dying out as the masses opt for video entertainment. However I am not afraid or intimidated to read long articles. Hopefully I am not alone, and some people have read this far into the article to notice the point I am trying to get across. If not don't worry, I'll be sure to make tweet versions of my blog for my readers, the day newspapers simply become a headline with a list of comments and peoples opinions below, less than 140 characters each, read out by ijustine.

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