Tagged: Internet and Technology

Wonderful spam (not), or Who let those Vikings in?

Mrs Bun: Have you got anything without SPAM?

Waitress: Well, there’s SPAM, egg, sausage, and SPAM; that’s not got much SPAM in it.

Mrs Bun: I don’t want any SPAM!

Mr Bun: Why can’t she have egg, bacon, SPAM, and sausage?

Mrs Bun: That’s got SPAM in it!

Mr Bun: Hasn’t got as much SPAM in it as SPAM, egg, sausage, and SPAM, has it?

Vikings: [singing] SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM… Lovely SPAM! Wonderful SPAM!

It’s ridiculous really.

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Update: Get in touch!

First of all, a big thanks to all of you! December 2009 was the busiest month so far for Another Kind Of Mind, with nearly four and a half thousand of you popping by to have a read – although I’m not entirely sure why the Halloween ghost stories piece was by far and away the most popular post over the Christmas period!

Now that Christmas and New Year are over (thank the deity of your choice), regular readers will notice that I’ve made a few changes to Another Kind Of Mind, and I’d really like you, the reader, to get involved in this ever-evolving project too. If you’ve got something to say, please feel free to leave a comment, I respond to all (although it may take me some time during busy periods). I also welcome suggestions and ideas for blog posts – the Feedback page is the place to go if you have any of those.

In the sidebar to your right, you’ll find several ways to keep up to date with Another Kind Of Mind. Subscribe to the RSS feeds, or to the email update service (no spam, I promise you!); or you can follow me on Twitter for blog updates, interesting links and much of the usual rambling in 140 characters or less. You can now also become a fan of Another Kind Of Mind on Facebook, where it would be good to get some discussions going with all of you.

Watch out for more exciting changes in the next few months – and get in touch, have your say!

 

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Rod Liddle to edit The Independent? Please god, no!

Britain doesn’t have much in the way of a progressive mainstream media, and part of what little we do have is currently under threat. Russian businessman and current owner of the rather unpleasant London Evening Standard, Alexander Lebedev is currently in talks to buy out The Independent, which has been struggling financially for a while now.

And as if that wasn’t worrying enough, it seems that Lebedev plans to replace the Indy’s current editor Roger Alton (whose style, admittedly, hasn’t been particularly popular with many readers) with the controversial ex-editor of Radio 4’s Today programme, Rod Liddle.

If you’ve never encountered Liddle, count yourself lucky; he’s not the most pleasant of people – and he would be, in my view (and that of many others) just about the worst possible choice to edit the Indy, which is well-known for its progressive stance on many controversial issues.

Why? Well, there’s the racism for a start – and, despite the fact he seems to think he’s being clever and witty, this is racism of the most ignorant, lazy kind (as evidenced here and here). Either he really doesn’t get how offensive he’s being, or he’s attempting to be controversial for the sake of being controversial, which isn’t particularly clever, witty or grown-up either.

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Raging Against the X Factor

Fantastic. It’s Christmas Day again. You’ve stuffed your face with turkey and all the trimmings. The Christmas pud nearly set fire to the curtains (again). Crackers have been pulled, and various family members have insisted on taking embarrassing photos of you wearing a downright silly paper hat. You’ve just avoided a minor civil war over whose turn it is to do the washing up. You’ve opened all your pressies and expressed your dutiful delight at those horrible socks you seem to get from your auntie every year. Your uncle is now snoring in the only comfy armchair in the room, and you’re desperately looking round for a way to escape The Great Escape on telly again. Help!

Someone turns the radio on. You groan, knowing that, today of all days, all that will be playing will be schmaltzy, saccharine seasonal pop and horrible manufactured Simon Cowell/X-Factor tat. But wait! What’s this?

The DJ is playing the Christmas number one, and suddenly the living room is full of the sound of righteous rage, ripping through the speakers and terrifying your granny. “FUCK YOU, I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME! MOTHERFUCKER!” yells Zack de la Rocha fiercely, making your prudish auntie blanch as you sit there, grinning secretly at the sheer fabulousness of it all.

Actually, the very idea of Rage Against The Machine getting the Christmas number one is not as far-fetched as it may seem. In fact, it’s a very real possibility this year, due to the sterling efforts of Jon and Tracy Morter’s Facebook group and the Rage Factor! online campaign, which have been supported by hundreds of thousands of British music fans already and have raised thousands of pounds for charity in the process.

Reacting to the truly ridiculous fact that, since 2005, every British Christmas number one single has been by one of Simon Cowell’s X-Factor pop nonentities, and to last year’s very nearly successful campaign to get Jeff Buckley’s definitive version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah to the top of the charts instead of Alexandra Burke’s reality show recording of the same song, this year’s campaign clearly demonstrates how many people are heartily sick and tired of the same old bland pop music dominating the charts.

When I was young, there was always a mystery and excitement about who was going to get the Christmas number one. It was very rare that there was an obvious shoe-in for the position, unlike the situation in recent years. It would seem that I’m not the only one who would like to see a return to the good old days when we would be glued to the radio at 7pm on the last Sunday before Christmas, breathlessly waiting to find out who had won the coveted Yuletide top spot.

The campaign has rapidly caught the imagination of internet users, as well as those in the real world, and has attracted  comment and backing from musicians and celebrities including Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus, The Prodigy, John Lydon (yes, that John Lydon), Stephen Fry, Ross Noble, Skin (Skunk Anansie), Enter Shikari, Matthew Wright (!), Lenny Henry, Fall Out Boy, XFM, Kerrang! and Metal Hammer magazines, Five TV and countless other mainstream media outlets. It’s taken on a life of its own – and maybe it’ll work this year…

So, to ensure that the Christmas airwaves are full of the festive sounds of Rage Against The Machine, you need to buy a download of Killing In The Name from one of the many digital providers listed on the Facebook page here any time between today (13th December) and the end of next Saturday (19th December)- and also visit the campaign’s JustGiving page to donate to the vital work done by the homeless charity Shelter over the Christmas period and beyond.

You know what to do…

UPDATE: WE WON! Yep, Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name is officially the 2009 UK Christmas number one, by at least 50,000 copies! And, in the process, Rage fans have raised more than £75,000 for the homeless charity Shelter.  Great to see the music talking for a change – and a job well done by all involved…

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One Foot In The Grove – Art for people and place!

UPDATE: One Foot In The Grove will also be open this weekend – October 30th and 31st and November 1st – come down and check out the new art that has recently been added!

In a small corner of west London, just round the corner from Ladbroke Grove tube station and under the Westway flyover, a group of renegade artists have put together one of the most fun, original and thought-provoking art events I have been to in a very long time.

If you find yourself in the area later today (18th October), or Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next week (23rd-25th October), and if you’re into street art, mad sculpture, graffiti, poster art, witty and original paintings and photography, fascinatingly insane installations, projections, film, good food, good tunes, friendly people, and a licensed bar, then make an effort to head down to Acklam Road, W10 and see what the good folks of MuTATE BRITAIN are up to.

Believe me, it’ll be worth it.

MuTATE BRITAIN’s new event One Foot In The Grove is open from 2pm to 10pm on Friday, 1pm to 10pm on Saturday, and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday, and is in the open air, quite literally under the Westway. Compared to the expensive exhibitions in the galleries up in town, entrance to this is a veritable bargain – only £1 before 6pm and £2-3 after then.

I very much recommend you take an afternoon to check it out before the final day!

In the meantime and if you can’t wait to see it all, you can check out this selection of exclusive photos, snapped by yours truly on a late Friday afternoon visit. If you’re inspired by all this amazing and diverse art, or you’re just simply curious, and you want to know more about what’s really going on under the Westway right now, then check out the links below for all the details.

Meanwhile, have a look at all this….

Darwin's changed his tune here!

Darwin's changed his tune a bit here...

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Twitter Power – the Trafigura Scandal and Gagging The Guardian

A good day to bury bad news again?

The saga of Trafigura, Carter-Ruck, The Guardian, Twitter Power and an indignant government, which broke messily all over the internet yesterday morning – well, that quite neatly eclipsed the latest installment in the MP’s expenses scandal, which had been rumbling on apace for most of Monday, and looked to be building up a good head of steam towards another day of revelations and unseemly bickering in Westminster.

We certainly got the revelations, and plenty of unseemly bickering at Westminster and beyond, just not on the subject of expenses; which slightly annoyed me, considering that I had started Tuesday morning with the aim of writing another ranty blog on MP’s expenses high on my ever-expanding To Do list for the day.

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Football Shorts – Part 1: International Balls-ups

UPDATE: THERE WILL NOW BE HIGHLIGHTS OF UKRAINE V ENGLAND ON BBC1 TONIGHT (SATURDAY 10TH OCTOBER) – TUNE IN TO MATCH OF THE DAY AT 10.15PM.

An Occasional Series of Short(ish) Rants and Ramblings about the Beautiful Game

Part One:

Honestly. Who’d be an England fan? I ask (yet again) in all seriousness, as the latest installment in the long-running soap opera of supporting the national team rolls into town again late tomorrow afternoon. Or rather it doesn’t. Because, unless you are one of the (approximately) one million England fans who a) is prepared to actually fork out up to fifteen quid to watch the game on a tiny monitor, and b) has a fast enough internet connection, or c) is mad enough to pay the ticket prices demanded by the ‘selected’ Odeon cinemas who are showing the game, you won’t be watching the Ukraine v England World Cup qualifying match tomorrow; not even in the pub, which fact alone is enough to make me weep into my pint – if I wasn’t actually drinking a cup of tea instead.

For a change, this isn’t Sky depriving your average England fan of her fix of qualifying matches and friendlies, despite the oft-bemoaned fact that their sports packages (plus the equipment, plus installation…) are financially out reach for many. Tempting as it may be (and tempting as it always is), this is not an anti-Murdoch rant – for a change, ol’Rupey-baby isn’t responsible for this particular balls-up.

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Technology, Protest and the G20.

Yeah, I know I said that I wouldn’t be blogging again until after my submission date, but what are rules there for if not to be broken? I’ve spent much of the evening following the events at the Pittsburgh G20 protests online, unable to drag myself away from multiple Twitter feeds. Finally, Twitter is really making sense to me, after a long time being very dubious of why I would need to use something that was basically a Facebook status update – but without the other fun and stupid things you can do on the Book of Face (as my sister calls it).

The importance of technology in protest was actually very fiercely brought home to me at the London G20 demos back in April. Stuck in the huge police kettle by the Bank of England on April 1st, the Media Activist and I had no idea what was going on – and the Met police goons surrounding us weren’t exactly communicative. Enter the humble mobile phone, and text updates from people elsewhere (in my case, Leicester!), who were a damn sight closer to a computer and those informative Twitter feeds/news sites than we were. In fact, my mobile was a godsend during those two days; it got me a load of useful photos and it kept me in touch with my friends when we got separated in the chaos of April 2nd. And I wasn’t the only one: the vast majority of the overwhelming evidence for the police brutality inflicted on protesters over that 48-hour period came not from professional media photographers and cameramen, but from the phones and digital cameras of protesters and bystanders. In the days following the London G20 protests, more and more amateur photos and footage were being uploaded onto the internet, shared by individuals and groups, and forwarded to the mainstream television and print media. Indeed, if it wasn’t for such footage, the truth about the death of Ian Tomlinson would have probably never come out – the police had, in fact,  been publicly lying about Tomlinson’s tragic death almost from the moment it happened.

The subsequent scandals surrounding the police behaviour at G20 seems to have made them rethink their protest tactics – I’ve been on a number of demos in London since G20, the most recent being an impassioned Disarm DSEi anti-arms trade protest in the City of London earlier this month, and the police have, without exception, very ostentatiously been distinctly hands-off in their approach. Despite the continued presence of the FIT (cops with cameras who seem to enjoy photographing and harassing known activists), and the distinct impression amongst many groups that these new softly-softly police tactics won’t last, I suspect that the Met has been quite severely shaken up by the fact that they’re not the ones in control of the technology any more….

And that’s true in other parts of the world too. The mobile phone footage and pictures that emerged during the protests over the result of the Iranian election earlier this year (and the fact that ‘IranElection’ has been a trending topic on Twitter as recently as this week) showed a face of the Iranian people that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t want the rest of the world to see, for example. The demonstrations in Pittsburgh today were all over Twitter (and you know things have got truly international when you re-tweet a link from London, only to find it being re-re-tweeted by a Pittsburgh TV station a few minutes later, as happened to me earlier!), which gave the protests far more solid coverage than the vague paragraph or so they seem to be getting on the mainstream news websites. Tales of tear gas, rubber bullets and ‘military sound weapons’ being used against the Pittsburgh protesters hit Twitter long before the mainstream media picked up on them, showing just how central citizen journalism can be to the newsgathering process these days.

The power of such technology in the struggle to hold the authorities to account for abuses of position is only growing in strength. The police still have the ability to record and track the movements of activists (although why they bother half the time is a bit beyond me – they’re more of  a threat to public order than we are…), but they are beginning to realise that we are fighting back with the same weapons. And they really don’t like that. They can no longer hide behind the anonymity of removing their numbers, or the illusory strength of photographing demonstrators to be put ‘on file’. The files are now on them, as organisations like FITWatch amply prove – and these files grow thicker and thicker with every demonstration, with every cameraphone wielded in anger, with every image or video uploaded to the internet…..

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Forthcoming Attractions and Another Kind Of Mind takes a break

Just a quick post to let you all know that Another Kind Of Mind will be taking a brief break until next month while I finish up and submit my final (ever) extended essay for uni. Once that’s done and dusted, I’ll be free, FREE to… well, I dunno yet, but it’s gonna be fun!

I’m still working on one more post which is almost finished, and that may well go up in the next few days – apart from that, the world of trickygirl will be a little on the quiet side until I’ve got done all the stuff I need to do. But fret ye not, my lovely readers, for there is lots and lots more to come, and here is but a taster of what you can expect when I return…

Find out why a bunch of stoner lads from Manchester made one of the greatest albums ever – and then fell apart. Learn more about third wave feminism (as promised), how men can be feminists too, and get the lowdown on some of the righteous and remarkable women who have inspired me over the years. Discover why astroturf is no longer just the stuff Luton Town FC used to controversially play on at Kenilworth Road. Delve into the world of heavy metal (the ultimate rebel music) and find out how, in parts of the world, it has become a dangerous and very political statement. Contemplate the rise of European fascism in the 1930s and see how it is again on the rise in the modern world today…. And even more stuff as and when I think of it!

If you have any suggestions of subjects you’d like to see me cover, please let me know.

Incidentally, if you have a blog or a website you think I might like and want to link to, please feel free to leave the address here as a comment – I’ll check it out and, if I do like it, link to you. If you want to link to me, just give me a shout!

While I’m away, please do have a look at the blogs I have linked to on my Blogroll. There are only a few at present, as this site is still very much under construction, but I hope to be expanding the list very soon.

I highly recommend all the links on my Blogroll, particularly as they (already!) reflect the diverse nature of my interests:

MARSHALL LAW: This is an excellent pro-wrestling blog written by my good friend Martin Marshall, which deals with the major issues and debates within the sport in an intelligent and thought-provoking way. And for those who of you who are shocked and horrified by the mere thought of a feminist enjoying pro-wrestling, I’ve got one word for you: Chyna. She’s the whole reason I started watching it in the first place – and I am very much looking forward to Marshall Law’s upcoming take on women in wrestling.

ME, AS OTHER THINGS: I love this quirky blog, created by the American writer, artist and cartoonist Jason Block. Its title is pretty self-explanatory really; Block takes a photo of himself as a starting point and then recreates it as something else. The most recent entry shows him as the cover of Radiohead’s The Bends, but other efforts show Jason as a Soviet-era propaganda image, Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas, an H.R Giger Alien, Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker and a Calvin and Hobbes kid, amongst other things. Well worth a look!

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE APPLE: Like Another Kind Of Mind, Jessica’s new British feminist blog is still under construction, but there is already some very interesting content on there, including a response to Gordon Brown’s apology to Alan Turing and an excellent piece on women’s magazines. Aiming to cover feminism from a British perspective, alongside ‘armchair activism’ (a brilliant idea!), popular culture and food, The Other Side of the Apple is already well worth a read, and I am looking forward to reading more.

Keep reading, stay tuned and wish me luck!

peace and love,

trickygirl

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Virus hysterics….

Ye gods and goddesses, this sort of thing appears to be designed to drive the likes of me up the bloody wall. I really don’t understand how (and why) people can be so… well, gullible is the first word that springs to mind. Swiftly followed, in the case of some people, by the word dumb. If you’re a Facebook user, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – yep, I’ve spent a large (and wasted) chunk of this week getting annoyed by the hysterical reaction to the so-called Fancheck virus.

For those who don’t know, this is the deal. Fancheck is a dubious Facebook app that appears to violate FB’s privacy rules (and which, it seems, should have been got rid of by FB long before this point was reached), which somehow got very popular over the last few weeks. Seemingly because of the fact that the app functions so badly (and because FB has been so glitchy recently), a rumour got started that Fancheck was actually a virus of some kind (it’s not, but when has that ever stopped the hysterical momentum of such Chinese whispers-type rumours?).

However, it is possible that the rumour started (or was at least played on) as part of a nasty ruse by the kind of spammers and malicious hackers who populate the darker corners of teh interwebs, because when the hysterical sheeple masses did a Google search for the Fancheck ‘virus’ and then clicked on the seemingly helpful links that promised to get rid of said ‘virus’, they were actually installing malware and spyware onto their computers. And as more and more people, thinking they were being alert and helpful, informed their FB friends of this ‘virus’, more and more people were searching for the solution and thus infecting their computers with the kind of crap that is genuinely an absolute pig to remove. Oh dear.

I get a lot of emails and messages purporting to be virus warnings from well-meaning but not-thinking friends (like most people, I suspect), which gets right up my nose, because there are easy and quick ways of checking whether or not you’ve been sold a pup when you receive one of these messages. PLEASE think twice before you forward these things; I check them when they arrive in my inbox and, believe me, 99.9% of them end up being dumped in the spam file or deleted. I consider myself to be relatively tech-savvy (and I am, admittedly, lucky in that I have a number of friends who are knowledgeable IT professionals), but I also freely admit that I don’t understand half of what goes on with my computer! However, even if you don’t have a friendly computer geek at the end of the phone line, there is no excuse for not educating yourself in how to stay safe online – it is easy to prevent viruses and malware etc getting onto your computer. Here’s how I do it (and – touch wood – I’ve yet to have a problem with malicious software or viruses on either this laptop or my old PC, despite the fact that no security system can ever be 100% effective):

– Install and keep up-to-date decent anti-virus and other security software. Shell out the cash and buy it. I use McAfee, but there are loads of other choices out there. This catches most of the nasty crap that might infect your computer.

STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER! Seriously. It is FULL of bugs and security holes which are happily exploited by malicious hackers – and it slows your computer right down to a crawl. Most websites these days are just not designed to be seen at their best with IE, whichever version you have. So what do you replace it with? I’m a recent and very happy convert to Mozilla Firefox (in fact, I wish I’d installed it years ago!), which is recommended by a lot of IT professionals. It’s much faster, MUCH more secure and allows you to see websites in all their glory too.

THINK!!!! Honestly, do. Think before you click on a link, think when you’re visiting a website you don’t know. If it asks you to download something before you can continue, ask yourself why. Check the URL. Is it the correct one for the site you think you are visiting? Be aware and be cautious. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

– Don’t pass on virus warnings until and unless you’ve checked them with a reputable source (and run a scan of your own computer too – if there is a problem, your anti-virus software should pick up on it). A good site to visit to check the validity of virus warnings is the excellent www.snopes.com. Snopes is also a fun read if you want to debunk a few urban myths (I used it a lot while researching for my old blog). If the problem is concerning a social networking site (FB/MySpace/Twitter etc), check mashable.com. There are, I am sure, other sites that do the same job – if anyone knows of any good ones, please feel free to leave a comment here.

I’m aware that this sounds like I’m trying to teach grandmother to suck eggs here, but it’s amazing how many people go into hysterical headless chicken mode when they’re confronted with what they think is a problem with something they don’t understand (like computers). I’m not a computer expert, but I’ve easily educated myself to be aware online – and so can you.

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