Category Archives: Onegai’s Rants

The old blog owner sure did have some strong opinions… Even he admitted he may have been steering the site off course.

The Battle Is Over – But Not The War

Originally Posted by Onegai:

10,000 Fists In The Air!

And thus was the first battle won…

In a truly emotive show of protest, people of all religions, races, genders, social and economic demographics united as one unstoppable force. Together we yelled and, as one, our voice was heard. So loud in fact that the very authorities supposed to herd and control us trembled. We shook cities and moved mountains. Together, united, we stood. And so it came to be that SOPA and PIPA were finally shelved… However these evil bills, like all villains, have sworn to return one day. While many of you may think “What kind of victory is that?”, I say, “One in which the entire world united for the first time in history. One in which we, the people, showed our strength over those who would oppress us. One in which we drove away the enemy! And wasn’t that our goal?” Read the full story.

The war is not over…

The SOPA and PIPA bills are said to be shelved for now. Whether they return in the future is debatable but whether they gain any support next time is unlikely. This is not just because we’ve shown the world what we can do as the people, but because there’s a much saner and more acceptable bill in the wood work. Check that out the OPEN Act. So why don’t the corporates lobby for this bill instead of SOPA/PIPA? Because it’s not draconian enough for them or the government and doesn’t give them the ability to control the internet.

Enter an even more terrifying villain, ACTA…

So as we bid farewell to one villain, there is always another scarier one to take its place. But this one’s threat lies not only in what is known about it, but what even more so in what is not. Known as ACTA this bill is shrouded in mystery and yet it is on the verge of passing in Europe. But basically, it is set to annihilate the privacy rights of every EU internet user, maybe even every global user:

While little information has been made available by the governments negotiating a document recently leaked to the public entitled “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement” from an unknown source gives an indication of what content industry rightsholder groups appear to be asking for – including new legal regimes to “encourage ISPs to cooperate with right holders in the removal of infringing material” criminal measures and increased border search powers. The Discussion Paper leaves open how Internet Service Providers should be encouraged to identify and remove allegedly infringing material from the Internet. However the same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens’ Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the “Three Strikes” /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers. While mandating copyright filtering by ISPs will not be technologically effective because it can be defeated by use of encryption efforts to introduce network level filtering will likely involve deep packet inspection of citizens’ Internet communications. This raises considerable concerns for citizens’ civil liberties and privacy rights and the future of Internet innovation.

– From EFF. Read more

I urge everyone to spread the word, link to the post, link to EFF’s article or link to any news feed exposing this hideous bill. It’s clear that, like its predecessor, this bill is aimed at control, oppression of free speech and invasion of privacy. So when I said the war was not over, I wasn’t kidding. I urge everyone to petition their local representatives to oppose this bill. We must stop this. We must win this war, for the sake of our internet, for the sake of our freedom, for the sake of our privacy and for the sake of future generations. Remember that “[The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing]” – Edmund Burke (English philosopher, 1729 – 1797).

Epilogue…

Well my friends, I leave you with this. We have fought hard and will continue to do so. Though our minds may tire, our bodies may wither and our feet may ache, we shall continue our perilous march towards freedom. We had taken our first victory against the evils of totalitarian domination and will strive towards a second. Our voices, together, were heard before and shall be again. Let the enemy continue to throw obstacles at us for we shall break though them, let the enemy continue to put walls around us for we shall tear them down. Like the determined spider who keeps spinning her web no matter how many times it is broken, like unwavering bird who builds his nest again and again despite the gales which tear it apart, like the resolute million who raise their fists to the air in defiance of dictatorship, so will we continue our journey, our war, our purpose, and so shall we prevail.

Let us celebrate our victory and rest for today, that we can fight stronger tomorrow,

Peace out 😉

Megaupload Gets Slaughtered by US Government

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Megaupload's Mega Manager - Credits Wikipedia

The popular file-host, Megaupload was shutdown yesterday (19th Jan 2012) following an indictment by the US Federal Govt. The charges included several copyright infringement violations and allegations that they knowingly encouraged users to upload pirated materials by offering them incentives.

But how did they prosecute an offshore company? Well it seems MU had a server or two on US soil and the offended parties were US citizens, therefore making it technically a crime against US citizens on US soil. In other words the charges are valid. However, one has to ask oneself why foreign nations were all too happy to comply with the US’s requests to shut down MU and to prosecute many of its senior staff members. Perhaps they wanted MU gone as much as the US? Or perhaps the US simply does what it always does: use threats of war and invasion to get its own way. So goes it I guess.

So what about legitimate members of Megaupload? So far as I know, Indie developers who used MU to distribute their software, Indie artists and Average Joe who backs up his stuff on MU simply lost everything without warning. Nice, real nice. Oh it gets better. Those who forked out hard-earned money for an MU premium account can kiss that money goodbye because there hasn’t been one word from US authorities regarding any remunerations. Hahaha, I love democracy, don’t you?

So why did this happen? Well, putting the “official reasons” aside, here’s my theory which is prolly the closest thing you’ll find to the truth without extracting the information out of the top-brass using torture or hypno-drugs:

  • US tries to get SOPA/PIPA passed – FAIL
  • US tries again to get SOPA/PIPA passed – Public outcry, protests from Google, Facebook, WordPress, Wikipedia and others, threats from Anonymous – my heroes and finally a mass protest of picket-wielding rebels in the US.
  • Feeling anger and discontent at the loss of its power, the US strikes back in the only way it can; attack the geeks – “Let’s hit them where it hurts” mentality. They know they’ll hurt artists using MU the most since pirates will just jump on to the next file host but artists will be down for ages while they migrate their works to a new host. At the same time, probably the strongest motivation, the US get to send a clear message to the world: “Look at what we can do without SOPA/PIPA. This is how powerful we are. We can fuck you over and you can do nothing about it! In other words, stop standing in our way and we might be lenient. Keep getting in our way and we’ll crush you.” Well I have but one thing to say back – and I hope everyone will join me here – and that is: “Fuck you! Go and beat up some pacifist protestors and/or try and intimidate some kiddies because we… WE FIGHT BACK!”

And guess what happened? Anonymous faught back for us. They hacked the US Justice Dept.’s site and shut it down along with many of the media companies that have been supporting this campaign of policing the internet. That’s what you get for taking MU down!

But sadly, revenge won’t undo the damage that’s been done to the plethora of legitimate MU users or repay them the money they spent on accounts. If you have (had) an account with MU or know anybody who did, please encourage them to start a class action against the US Justice Dept. and/or anyone else involved in this heinous violation of our rights.

I leave you with this, my friends. Remember the good old days when this glog was fun and silly? Remember the times we reviewed the good stuff, the bad stuff and the down-right crap? Remember when there wasn’t an anti-SOPA article stickied to the home page? Remember when each page didn’t contain links to anti-SOPA material. It feels like yesterday, yet so long ago. Oh how quickly this ugly war for our internet freedom has started and oh how quickly it has become so ugly. But during all this ugliness, I want you to think of those days and remember them well. We will reclaim them. We will get our internet back. We can and will win this war. So long as we all stand together. So long as we all spread the word. Everyone can help and one small person can make a difference. Those days, my friends, are within our grasp.

Peace out 😉

The Biggest Form Of Free Speech Is Under Threat Thanks To SOPA

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Image from Wikipedia

SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act was introduced on the 26 of October last year (2011)  and there is still much debate as to whether it’ll get passed or not but things aren’t looking good. The idea was to strengthen US law enforcement’s ability to fight online piracy. Sounds okay (for most of us). Except for the part where a website accused of enabling piracy can shutdown or at least kept out of the US by blocking access to the site in question. Well there’s a flaw or two (or a thousand) in this:

How the hell can a massive imageboard/forum moderate every post before it appears? It can’t. So that means we’ll either see the destruction of many online forums or such a slowdown that you’ll be posting a week in advance before your post appears.

How can social networks like Facebook and Twitter deal with this? They can’t. The number of users they have is so astronomically high that complete moderation is impossible and as such they rely on automated processes and other users reporting abuse. So for those of you you who live online, you can kiss your social life goodbye because after a few hundred users post links to pirated stuff, Uncle Sam is gonna block his ALL people’s access to those services.

How will online filesharing sites handle this? They DEFINITELY WON’T. As one of the primary methods of distributing pirated material, you can say goodbye to access to Megaupload, Rapidshare, Mediafire, etc. I wonder what effect that’ll have on the freeware community? How many devs out there rely on these services to distribute and backup their stuff?

Finally, kiss Youtube goodbye. There are countless home-made AMVs, music videos, montages, etc. using copyrighted material. While this in no way harms the author, it’ll be considered infringement all the same.

How about blogs? Nearly all of us bloggers use imagery from movies/games/album covers/etc. copyrighted material. In many cases we help sell the product with our reviews, but to hell with that because it’s copyright infringement.

Okay, so that’s just the beginning.  Let’s take this a step further. Suppose I’m some big media company like Uni****** and I see a review about my latest release on a blog and the review exposes my release for the recycled piece of crap it is. Well as long as that poor blogger used some images from that film, I can take him down for copyright infringement. Heh, what freedom of speech?

Now here’s where it gets scary. As we all know, corruption is the currency of the world. Suppose a website exposes a corrupt politician or publishes something really inflamatory against the powers that be. Well because the government own the justice system, it’s easy to get a friendly judge to sign the right papers and have that site blocked on a false charge. How would anyone in the US be able to prove it was a false charge? Its not like anyone could access the site. We’ll have a situation where the authorities control the information flow again. That’s ALWAYS bad.

So now we’ve looked at what this bill could do, let’s look at the things it CAN’T do. It can’t stop piracy. It can’t even stop online piracy. Why? Because “people who break the law” break the law. In other words, they’ll just go further underground. Back in the 1970s, there were people with stacks of twelve or more cassette recorders and wires everywhere making copies of original cassette tapes and LPs.

Even if the internet became completely controlled, people would find their own ways of distribution through closed wireless networks. And if the authorities found a way to monitor every wireless signal in the world, people would resort to the old-fashioned method of hand-to-hand. If anything this would hurt copyright holders more because, if you were around in those days, pirated things cost you money, just not half as much as the originals.

Now loads of people actually buy the original if they enjoyed the pirated version (I call it “try and buy”). But how many people would stop doing this if the pirate cost them money? They’d still opt for the cheaper version, however they’d likely not want to fork out more money for the original. Well done.

So let’s talk distribution. Piracy has actually helped a lot of artists reach out to new fans through the internet. Most of the CDs in my cupboard were ordered because I heard pirated mp3s of the band. Without the internet, I would never have known they existed because they don’t play non-“popular” music on the radio. Shoot yourselves in the foot.

So if this bill isn’t going to stop piracy, why push so hard for it to be passed? Wake up people! Before the internet became a part of the average household, the authorities controlled communications. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio could be censored. Now and then a brave journalist would risk life and limb to expose the truth against all odds, but generally the inconvenient truths were kept under lock and key.

To top it all off, this control over free-speech would effectively give authorities the power to implement, or should I say re-implement, social engineering. After decades of failure (since their strength began to crumble in the 1960s), the powers that be went so far as to try and use the internet at first. But it was simply too vast and there were too many voices to be heard, many enlightening people and exposing them to the concept of free thinking. There is nothing an authority fears more than uncontrollable information flow.

So maybe you think I’m a conspiracy theorist and maybe you’re right. But you cannot deny that this bill infringes on the right to free speech and that, no matter that some people are abusing that right, the cons of this law outweigh the pros (Oh wait, there aren’t any pros because piracy existed before the internet and will continue to do so long after the internet).

This blog has a small outreach and few regular visitors but I’d like to make the most of the readers I have. So guys and girls, spread the word of this evil act. Don’t sit there and think that just because it’s not happening in your country that it won’t hurt you. If America does it, the world will soon follow. This is everyone’s battle and for once, ALL OF US must unite. I’m calling on everyone from the hacker community to the chat room addicts to the bloggers to the online gamers to the damn old ladies who stumbled on this article looking for the results of the Swedish kitten pageant: Spread the word and the cause on every form of communication you have and, IF THIS BILL GETS PASSED, LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

Diwali – The Curse of Durban

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Picture Of FireworksLet me preempt this by saying that I am not against people’s freedom of religion, despite being an atheist. In fact I encourage religion because it keeps the masses in check. However…

Welcome to Durban, South Africa. Every year urban and suburban residents here are subjected to the cacophony of firework explosions. While I would never want to take away the rights of those who celebrate their beliefs through this noisy ritual, I would want there to be a few basic restrictions:

1. How about a cut-off time in urban and suburban areas. Say 21h00 because there are small children who need their sleep to consider.

2. Better yet, why not ban fireworks from urban and suburban areas but designate sites for Diwali celebrators to go (like out in the countryside) where their ruckus will not cost the rest of us our sleep or productivity (I do a lot of my coding at night).

3. Use more appropriate fireworks. Last time I checked, this was supposed to be a “festival of lights” not fsucking sound! So use pretty flashy fireworks that give everyone seizures, that’s fine because I can draw my curtains. Just stay away from the ones that make it sound like WW3 is going down.

I wouldn’t be complaining – in fact I actually think it’s quite a fun little ritual – if it wasn’t so loud. This is not an exaggeration when I say that twice the wooden floor has vibrated from the sound. Some of my family actually got frights from the noise.

Having travelled, I know that Diwali is not like this everywhere. In fact Durban seems to be the worst-hit place. I’ve never even noticed Diwali except in Durban. The best analogy is this:

Diwali in Durban: A giant ogre taking a machine-gun into a tin bucket while jumping up and down on a kick drum.

Diwali everywhere else: Huh? It was Diwali yesterday? Really? Oh…

I’m not targeting anyone’s religion or persecuting minorities or anything else you want to accuse me of because I feel the same about Guy Fawkes (I’ll prolly rant about that in a week, don’t worry). I’m just saying what everyone is thinking on Diwali and the 5th of November: STFU (Shut The Fsuck Up)!

*And to think my first post in ages was a rant… Sorry guys 🙂

Has Making Final Fantasy A Talky Ruined It?

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Simply put, “Yes”. Now before we go any further, I didn’t write this to play the purist who slags off all the latest Final Fantasies. I don’t dislike them (apart from FFX-II which in my humble opinion is nothing more than nostalgic masturbation to a terrible soundtrack) but I feel that Final Fantasy has lost something special since the closing of the Playstation 1 era.

When Final Fantasy first emerged, it was the last resort of a dying company known as Square. It was released in 1987 as Square’s last game (Hence the title Final Fantasy) with the hopes of salvaging Square’s now bleak future, but with little expectations. Who would have thought that 22 years later, Final Fantasy would be one of the biggest game franchises in the world and on its 13th sequel with a myriad of sub-releases, merchandise and even two movies.

Right from the beginning, Final Fantasy boasted a good soundtrack. Though the first game didn’t have much in the way of character development, its sequel, Final Fantasy 2, took a huge leap, introducing a series of more real-feeling characters. It was finally on Super Nintendo that Final Fantasy became an epic. Final fantasy 4 through 6 boasted amazing storylines with intricate plots and excellent character development accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack.

Final Fantasy 7 through 9 on Playstation 1 were equally as brilliant as their SNES predecessors. They had immersing and complicated storylines, outstanding musical scores and character development so good I felt I could reach out and touch each of the characters.

I laughed, yelled with rage and cried through each Final Fantasy from 4 through 9 and with every one I completed I was left feeling more satisfied than any other game has ever left me feeling. Yet I can honestly say 10 came close but it felt like it was missing something. Apart from the shock from talking – something I could have gotten used to – there was something else about it that I just could not put my finger on until I broke it down.

The soundtrack was the first thing of note. While it’s far from being bad, I feel it doesn’t begin to compare with its predecessors and I’ll tell you why. Before there were voice actors in Final Fantasy, the music was all they had to create a mood and an atmosphere. There is only so much that can be done with text, no matter how clever you are with punctuation. Therefore, the music wasn’t “good” or “on standard”, it was truly epic. It had to be. But with the introduction of voice actors, music wasn’t as essential for creating the mood as before.

The next thing I noticed was only once the shock of the voiceovers wore off. I realised that it was not so much the shock of the characters talking as the removal of the reading. It’s hard to explain so I’ll use a simple example. Despite the fact that we have movies, people still like to read books and there are plenty of books that should never be made into movies (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant being one example). There’s something to be said for using one’s imagination as far as a character’s voice is concerned. Because we’re all different, we all picture a slightly different voice which makes the experience all the more unique to us. By adding voices, it’s ruined that personal touch of imagination.

There’s also a special atmosphere that gets created by just having music and no talking. Final Fantasy is not a spectator game and that atmosphere of sitting in a room all alone, reading the dialogue boxes is something magical that, sadly, the up and coming generation of gamers will never appreciate. I guess to me, Final Fantasy was always a moving comic book (Especially FFVII) accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack or perhaps even, as a girl I once knew described FFVIII, a silent movie.

There are a lot of other changes that occurred which I didn’t take too kindly to. There was the fact that they did away with the free-roaming airship and the world map field from FFX upwards. There was the way they mutilated the battle system in FFXII and let’s not forget the god-awful abomination of a soundtrack in FFX-2. As for the “level-up system” in FFX, it was terrible. I won’t even mention my contempt for making FFXI an online multi-player circle jerk. Still, to me the biggest and worst change is still making Final Fantasy a talky. Were it not for that development, I believe the Final Fantasy franchise would not have taken the turn for the worst that it now has.

The last thing I want to point out is that the translation from Japanese to English is not a simple one. Firstly the grammatical structure is completely different. Secondly, a sentence is often shorter in one language than the other. Now here’s where the problem comes in. As a translator, you get given a game and told, ‘Translate this to English, but keep the sentences the same length and reword them so that there aren’t any lip-sync problems.’ Well now that’s a tall order, especially when translating from an Asian language to English. Ever watched a dubbed Kung-Fu movie? Notice that phrases like “hey you” are often used repeatedly throughout the movie? It’s because of the aforementioned translation problem (This is why I prefer subtitles and am of the opinion that dubbing should be banned). Now I’ll commend the translation staff of FFX here because they did do an excellent job dubbing it without any discernable lip-sync problems but I have to ask myself this: how much content did I miss though? How much of the dialogue was changed substantially? There’s also the fact that Japanese voice-actors are generally more talented than their western counterparts. With dialogue boxes, you have no need to worry about these limitations so it’s a lot easier to translate with far better accuracy.

So why’d they do it? I can only offer speculation here. I can tell you, it certainly wasn’t due to budget constraints as voice actors don’t do it for free. I have to say that if I’m to hazard a guess, it would probably be “commercial reasons”. This is because the era of non-talky single player games probably ended in the early years of Playstation 1. The fact that Final Fantasy was still using dialogue boxes in its ninth instalment was somewhat of a miracle – one that sadly didn’t last. There are many gamers out there that would have rejected Final Fantasy for the very reason that they had to read so much and let’s face it, the neo-gamers of today are not the geeks of our generation but rather the regular folks and even the jocks and low-classes. Thanks to the gaming evolution that mainstreamed this media, the industry is now catering for all those idiots that “don’t has to read”. So, back to my point, making FF a talky has most definitely secured it a brand new audience, leaving behind the true fans who devotedly watched over its development from the day it was born. Sadly, most of us will still buy all the new FF games religiously so Square Enix have not actually lost anything in this process.

In my opinion, FFIX was the last great Final Fantasy and FFX was the last good one. It’s been downhill ever since and although I have yet to play FFXIII, but I’m really not holding my breath. As with everything, commercial potential always becomes the driving force while everything else rides shotgun.

Cell C (for Yourself How Bad it can be)

Originally Posted by Onegai:

 

Before we even start, let me say that this is not a slur. Everything I say will be based on pure fact. If you are familiar with my blog then you will know that I am not a sensationalist (I have NNW for that).

We’ll start with the one and only good point first because I do not believe in giving only one side of the story. Currently Cell C is, without doubt, the cheapest cellular service provider as far as data and contracts are concerned. Their data charges are marginally lower than either Vodacom or MTN. As for their contracts, they offer insanely good deals that seem almost too good to be true. Sadly, these benefits come with more strings attached than they’re worth.

As far as reliability is concerned, Cell C is just adequate when it comes to making or receiving phone calls and SMSs (Though they sometimes have to route traffic through Vodacom’s network). But when it comes to mobile internet, they’re reliability is less predictable than somebody with bipolar (No offence intended to people with bipolar). There are times when dialling up to the internet is simply impossible. I once waited three days before I could get online and since I use my phone as a modem, I had no other way of checking my emails or posting on my blog.

On the subject of mobile internet, I’d just like to point out that Vodacom and MTN both support 3G but Cell C does not so yes, my connection is laughably slow, averaging out at about 10 – 15k on a good day.

One of the core components of any service provider is their customer care. In Cell C’s case, it’s almost non-existent. I cannot fault their Customer Care departments in their Cell C Megastores. There was only one occasion when I was spoken to rudely in the three odd years I’ve been with Cell C and this is a good track record in South Africa. Their call centre on the other hand is dismal. Whenever I have phoned, I’ve always been treated poorly by a consultant whose education was likely nothing above fifth grade and whose product knowledge is no better. After much ado, one can get through to a “supervisor” but these “supervisors” are no more competent or willing to help than the consultants and after being on the line for ten to fifteen minutes, one tends to just hang up out of sheer frustration. Emailing them is no better as sometimes you get a very quick response while other times you won’t get a reply until the next day if you’re lucky.

Finally, let’s talk efficiency, or in Cell C’s case lack thereof. In the structure which is the dysfunctional body of Cell C, the left hand does not know or care what the right is doing. The staff in the shop will tell you one thing while the staff in the call centre will tell you the complete opposite. As for their accounts department, I’m sure it consists of an office with ten 286 computers and fifteen monkeys to operate them. I’m going to relate to you an experience of mine and try to abbreviate it as much as possible to illustrate my point so bare with me.

I took out a contract for R75-00 per month with Cell C (having been enticed by their insanely cheap deals) roughly three years back. The amount was to be debited directly from my bank account. Unfortunately I lost my job sometime later. Because my ex-boss was possibly the source of all evil, I had not been registered for unemployment (In fact there’s no evidence I ever worked there, kudos to him for circumventing employment laws). Immediately I went to Cell C and explained to them that I would not be receiving a salary and therefore my bank account would be empty, hence I would be depositing cash for my payments.

Despite being told that everything had been sorted out; when the time came for the next payment, I received an SMS from my bank informing me that a debit order had failed to go through due to insufficient funds. After confirming that it was from Cell C, I phoned them up and torn a strip off them only to be promised that it would never happen again. It did happen again however – a few more times at that. I also found my SIM being barred from out-going calls around the end of the month during this time. I finally sorted out the debiting issue but the call-barring continued once every month for a long time afterwards. Once a month I’d lose all communication with the world and once a month I’d have to make a trip to my Cell C Megastore and get them to reinstate my service. I came to learn two things during this time. The first was that it was apparently my duty to fax my deposit slip through to them (I could live with this) and that all payments were due on the 20th of every month (It’s an insane date since nearly everybody in South Africa and possibly the world only gets paid between the 25th and the end of the month). I explained the situation to a consultant and he promised to place a note on my account regarding my payments and to quote The Animatrix, “For a time it was good” but then the call-barring started again.

When I queried this some time around October last year, I was told that I was one payment in arrears. The first person I spoke to claimed it to be March. Luckily I keep all my deposit slips in a file so I returned the next day armed with March’s proof of payment. I spoke to somebody different that day who then told me it was actually April. I went back home infuriated. I returned on day three equipped with my entire file and spoke to yet another consultant. Upon producing April’s proof of payment, I was told that it was actually February’s that was outstanding. Smugly, I produced my entire payment history. I was then told that I must fax all of these to their head office. After much ado regarding the receiving of the faxes, it was all sorted out and things have been running smoothly since, so when it came time to renew my contract and get an upgrade, I didn’t think twice, especially in light of the fact that my mother’s phone had recently died on her and now I’d be able to give her my old one. At the time, I did speak to the salesperson who renewed my contract and I asked him if it would be okay if I continued to make deposits and was told that it would in no way be a problem.

Well, October 2009 comes and guess what? My SIM has just been barred again because my payment was “late”. Their excuse for this was that they had a new CEO now who had apparently decided that it was time to clamp down on customers and impose strict payment laws (I don’t know if this is true or not and I don’t care. I’m merely recounting what was told to me by a consultant). This eventually led to me having to reinstate the debit order and go to trouble of depositing money into my account so that they may debit it instead of just depositing it straight into their bank account lest they bar my SIM yet again.

My problem is not so much with Cell C’s policies. Ridiculous as they may be, I did agree to them when I first took out the contract. My proverbial “bone to pick” is more with the fact that I was, for all intents and purposes, lied to. If they had told me that it was not okay for me continue making deposits between the 25th and the end of the month, I would have rather sort a slightly more expensive contract with Vodacom or MTN. Perhaps it was my fault for not getting this in writing and not Cell C’s fault for outright lying to me. In today’s society it is considered normal, even acceptable to lie to a customer in order to sell them something. As long as they do not have it in writing, you are under no obligation to uphold any promises you make to a customer.

Now I’d like to just recall an incident involving my uncle who is a Vodacom customer. His phone fell from his breast pocket one day and into some water – completely submerging the device. He was quick enough in switching it off to avoid a complete meltdown but there was significant damage and the phone was ultimately unusable. When he went to Vodacom’s shop and inquired as to the price of a repair, the assistant said it would be free since it was an old phone and they had some spare parts lying about and it wouldn’t take them too long to fix.

Prior to Cell C, I was with MTN for about four years and I never even had one delayed SMS. I got coverage even out in the countryside and the customer care, which I only had to phone once, was polite, caring, knowledgeable and willing to help.

I guess this all boils down to one simple truth: “You get what you pay for” as the quote goes. Consider this article a warning to all South Africans and any potential tourists considering coming to South Africa: If you want cheap, go to Cell C but be warned, you’ll get what you pay for.

 

*Disclaimer: I’m sure there are some people out there who have never had a problem with Cell C just as there are many people I’ve spoken to who have complaints about them. This is just a personal account of events together with some facts about the company.

CGI Is Destroying Anime

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Below: A snap from Appleseed. Top: A snap from Appleseed 2.

Below: A snap from Appleseed. Top: A snap from Appleseed 2.

It seems to be a growing trend to use CGI in anime these days. Many fans will agree when I say that it totally destroys a perfectly good anime and can actually put one off to the point that they stop watching. Apart from any other considerations; it’s killing the art of drawing, not just in anime but even in western animation.

CGI began long ago, back in the1970s. At this stage it was crude to say the least. Now and then minor CGI was used in visual media but to a very lesser extent as it was fairly costly in those days and technical capabilities were exceedingly limited. Then, nearly two decades later, a company called Pixar created Toy Story, the first full-length, fully CGI animated production. The subsequent effects it had on the film industry would change everything, western and eastern alike.

After seeing the success of Toy Story, Disney slowly started phasing out hand-drawn animation in favour of CGI. Meanwhile, the art of special effects was dying a slow and painful death as the world of CGI encroached on it. Stop-animation was no safer because CGI artists proved they could produce very similar results in far less time at far less cost. It was only the diehards like Tim Burton who clung to the art of stop animation, but even they have or will soon bow to the inevitable.

The CGI trend has since begun spreading in the anime world in two ways. The first is by using a methodology known as “Cel-shading”. This form of CGI (supposedly) looks hand-drawn. A good example of this would be and anime film called “Appleseed”. It’s an attempt to replace traditional art with CGI. Scarily enough, Cel-shading has gained quite a bit of popularity. The second way in which CGI is corrupting anime is the use of regular looking computer graphics in conjunction with hand-drawn frames to handle the more complicated animation sequences that would be time consuming and difficult to draw. For example, a hand-drawn animation of people walking may have CGI windmills turning in the background. Though it also apparently works out cheaper than hand-drawing these sequences, in the end it can be a put-off to a lot of potential viewers out there.

To further exacerbate things, CGI in anime is very often of a low standard due to the budget constraints. Now CGI usually clashes visually with hand-drawn animation as it is, but when the computer graphics are of poor quality; they totally destroy the anime. It is a fact that, apart from large companies like Square Enix, Japan generally produces inferior CGI to the west when it comes to movies. This is because, as a good friend of mine once said, “America has military-sized budgets to throw at productions” where as Japan is a little more conservative, perhaps even a little more sensible.

Even if the CGI was on the level of Final Fantasy: Advent Children, it would still lack that special feeling and look that hand-drawn animation has. No matter how they have tried, no one has (And I doubt will any time soon) be able to produce the same look that hand-drawn animation has. This is the part that saddens me that most. To hell with everything else I’ve mentioned because the feel and look of anime is probably one of the biggest things that attract me to it and seeing great artwork and impressively animated scenes is simply priceless. There’s an anime called Porco Rosso (Kurenai no Buta – Original Japanese name). It’s a 1992 vintage and it’s completely hand-drawn. There are some amazingly well-animated scenes in it where just about everything is moving on the screen including the POV. I was mesmerised as I watched it. On the other hand, a friend and I recently began watching an anime called Blassreiter. I did not even finish watching episode one because there was so much CGI in the thing that the clashing between the computer graphics and the hand-drawn animation made it impossible to maintain focus. “Off-putting” would have been an understatement.

I don’t have a problem with using computer assistance for colour-fills or for background scrolling. In fact if it saves money, I say go for it. As long as all the components are hand-drawn, I don’t make a fuss over putting it together using digital means. In fact I’ll even go as far as saying that I don’t mind stuff drawn on a digital pad. As long as there always remains the “human” element of hand-drawn art, I’d say it’s perfectly fine.

While I’m not a purist who hates CGI and wants it eradicated from all non-interactive visual material, I do feel that it has its place and that place is not substituting traditional artwork. I thoroughly enjoyed the film Animatrix and both Final Fantasy CGI movies. I’m not saying get rid of CGI, I’m merely saying that we mustn’t abandon true artwork in favour of a lazier and more cost-effective medium.