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!!!

Machinae Supremacy – A View From The End Of The World

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Album Cover

Album Title: A View from the End of the World

Genre(s): SID Metal, Alt. Metal, Synth. Metal

Release Date: 3 November 2010

Group/Artist: Machinae Supremacy

MaSu – as some people call them – are one of the most unique-sounding groups within the entire metal industry in that they bring a whole new sound into the music industry. While most bands are happy with regular to expensive synths, Machinae Supremacy have decided to go retro by adding a Commodore 64 sound chip to go with their entourage.

A View from the End of the World is more than just a good combination of great guitar work, nice beats and awesome electronic sounds; it’s also a pilgrimage to the past for anyone who grew up during the 8-bit gaming era, irrespective of which console they favoured (I was a NESfag). To me, there was nothing like just listening to Rockman (Mega Man in the US) compositions which I deligently recorded on my cassette recorder for later playack (What a geek!). But just as much, I’ve always loved the roaring guitars of metal. I can remember listening to “Fear of the Dark” by Iron Maiden as a teenager and getting goosebumps at the sheer magnificence of those seven minutes of awesomeness. Somehow, two things I loved but never thought were compatible, have been brought together now and fused into a true masterpiece.

The tracks on this album range in mood from light to dark, creating a cornucopia sorrow, sarcasm, social commentary and quirkiness both musically and lyrically. There’s not a single “shit track” on the entire album either which is a rarity in music these days. In fact most of the tracks make you resent the fact they are ending…until the next one starts! There are few albums I’ve listened to that have made me want to listen to them again immediately after the last track has ended, but A View from the End of the World is one of them.

A View from the End of the World isn’t just pleasing to the ears though, it’s pleasing to the mind too. Analyzing the artistry involved in composing each track is better than a visit to the Sistine Chapel (Sorry Mikey) – while it was having its ceiling painted (Double sorry Mikey). The level of technical brilliance involved here is reminiscent of Isoa Tomita (He’s the God of Synthesizers btw).

So is it worth the price? You actually even have to ask? While this strange sub-genre of metal may not appeal to many fans of mainstream metal (that’s an ironic statement, “mainstream metal”. What would the ancestors say!), it will appeal to the people who get it and it will do more than just a good job of that.

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 🙂

Biohazard(Resident Evil) 4 – Screen Size Problem

Originally Posted by Onegai:

RE4 LogoSo there seems to be this problem with the PC version of Biohazard 4 (aka Resident Evil 4) on the PC. I didn’t actually even pick up on it until a friend brought it to my attention. He moaned that when he tried to play it on his laptop (don’t ask me why), it wouldn’t go 16:9 so he ended up with horizontal and vertical black lines down the screen. So I closed my porn, got off my lazy butt, dug up RE4, installed it and started it up. Seemed my friend was right. The setup program didn’t allow me to switch aspect ratios or set the resolution nearly high enough. But this problem is easily solvable with these steps:
1. Open [wherever you installed it]\Capcom\Biohazard 4\SetupTool.ini with notepad (Yes, I usually resort to editing the setup file first! Much easier than stuffing about on the net for an hour, heh.)
2. The first lines look like this:

;===== Used by Game =====
[SCREEN]
;Mode : 0=FullScreen ,1=Window ,Other=Window
;Type : 0=Wide ,1=Normal ,Other=Normal
;Size
; Normal : 800×600 ,1024×768 ,1280×1024 ,1600×1200
; Wide : 1280×800 ,1440×900 ,1680×1050 ,1920×1200
Mode=0
Type=1
SizeX=800
SizeY=600

Change the following values to what is written below:

Mode=0
Type=1
SizeX=[Your desktop’s width. 1366 is compatible with most laptops and widescreens]
SizeY=[Your desktop’s height.]

3. Save and exit.
4. Play the game.

NOTE: Each time you change and save the settings with the game’s setup utility, this will be undone so get your settings right first. Also, don’t use modes that aren’t compatible with your hardware (If you’ve a 16:9 screen then 1366×768 will more than likely work). Don’t modify anything you’re unsure of. Don’t try to set it to widescreen (Type=0) because it prolly won’t work even if your screen is a widescreen (it crashed on me). If the game crashes, launch the setup and set it back to default.

Feel free to post a question regarding this fix. I’ll answer it as soon as I can.

UPDATE:

It seems there are still many questions regarding Biohard/Resident Evil 4. So I’ve decided to add a step-by-step guide here:

1. First locate the “SetupTool.ini” file:

Click to enlarge

2. Edit the file by adding your custom resolutions (and save it):

Click to enlarge

3. Now make sure to run the Game.exe file and NOT the Launcher.exe file as I think the launcher is prolly responsible for it reverting.

Click to enlarge

4. If you are using a shortcut, right-click the shortcut and select “Properties”. Then change the target to “game.exe”and press Ok.

Click to enlarge

If you are having trouble still, you need to disable all permissions when editing the SetupTool.ini file otherwise saving will fail. I’ll add a post about permissions at some point.
Also note that you need to set the resolution to match YOUR display, not mine. So if you have a native resolution of 1280×720, thebn setting it to 1366×768 will crash it or cause it to revert.

Onegai Blog Has Returned

Originally Posted by Onegai:

It’s been a long time since I cast Onegai Blog down into cyber limbo. I couldn’t decide whether or not I wanted to continue with it. I had some major problems going down in my life (including my health) and I just couldn’t handle a blog (let alone two). So I suspended Onegai Blog with the intention of still moderating and replying to comments from time to time. Sadly I just got lost in life and Onegai Blog sat collecting dust. Recently I returned to shut the site down permanently (Along with NNW). But when I logged in I found some really encouraging comments. So I changed my mind. I can’t promise regular updates but I’ll post whenever I can. Also, Onegai Blog will be receiving a complete overhaul in the not-too-distant future.