December 10th, 2004


Fantastic News (of the Video kind)

Telewest (my cable company) has confimed it's going to roll out Video On Demand! 

Telewest's CFO Neil Smith indicated that Telewest's entire digital cable television service would be "re-positioned" around its VOD offering. The service, currently known as "Freedom," will offer movies on demand, and a "Catch-Up TV" service based on popular TV shows from the past week, month and season.

Digital cable operators in the US have already started to rollout VOD service. Time Warner Cable's service, for example, is known as "iControl" and features a range of on-demand channels, including one from the BBC. DVD-like play, fast-forward and rewind functionality is provided on VOD services.

Telewest plans to launch its DVR service in the second half of 2005. Its DVR box will include three tuners and be able to store 80 hours of video.

Oh, the happiness.  Mind you, I already have Tivo - but that's no longer produced over here, and I was worrying that nobody was going to produce a Cable equivalent to Sky+

Just for the sake of disagreement

There are large numbers of things I believe that go against the grain of common opinion.  Even in a place like LJ, where it's possible to attract people who feel likewise about things, I'm liable to say something every third day that causes _someone_ to get upset.  In an attempt to get it out of my system, here's a few off the top of my head.

I believe that our brains are made of chemicals, and that our minds are the product of events that occur within them. I thus believe that our thoughts can be affected by changes in chemical levels in the body.  Anyone who disagrees is invited to spend three days on amphetamines and then come off of them cold turkey without becoming violently unpleasant.

I believe that people are actually pretty fucking insignificant on the grand scheme of things, occupying a tiny sliver of barely livable landscape on the outside of a tiny speck on the edge of a not-terribly-special galaxy.  It seems dramatically unlikely to me that humankind will survive more than a few hundred-thousand years, and frankly I don't really care that much.

I believe that believing that there are invisible supernatural beings that will answer prayers, reward the good and punish the bad, but never in a way that is concretely verifiable is a sign that you're not willing to be critical about the world.  Sure, it'd be nice if the world worked according to a grand plan and it all worked out in the end - I'd _love_ that.  But to believe that it actually does with _no evidence whatsoever_ seems akin to madness.

I believe that all aesthetics are purely personal.  Like Leopard-Skin waste-paper-baskets - that's _your_ choice.  If you want to wear brown and purple - that's up to you.  If you actually think that Piers Anthony is the best writer of all time - fine - that's _your opinion_.  Just remember that's all it bloody well is.

I believe likewise about morality.  All morality means is "I wish the world was this way."  It doesn't mean the world was _designed_ to be that way, or that the world is somehow _supposed_ to be that way - just that you'd be happier if it was.

I _don't_ believe that this means I can't make choices about the way the world should be.  Just because my views are personal and Osama Bin Laden's are likewise doesn't mean I have to agree with him, or npot be in favour of stopping him.  I believe in freedom of sexuality, some people think homosexuality is wrong.  I fully believe that both of these views are equally valid on a purely emotional level.  But I'm damned if I'm going to just stand by and let them _do_ anything about it - I want the world to work the way _I_ want it to, goddamit.

I believe that central control does not work for large organisations.  Nobody understands complex systems.  There's a fair argument to say that you _can't_ understand complex systems in detail.  Therefore I don't think that centralised systems work for dealing with complexity.  This is the (vastly simplified) reason I don't think pure socialism is workable.

I believe that most people don't think about consequences and will try to get away with just a little bit of naughtiness here and there.  And that en masse this lack of thought and selfishness can lead to terrible things occurring.  This is why I don't think that pure capitalism is workable.

I believe, in fact, that no system is workable.  Systems are simple and rule-based.  Any system of rules rapidly leads to a variety of outcomes that were never predicted by the people creating them and usually cause a fair sprinkling of things that are the opposite of what they actually wanted in the first place.  The world is a complex squishy place - attempting to put it inside nice straight lines just means chopping off more and more bits that stick over the edges.

I believe that this is all you get and you should bloody well get on with it.

Fucking hell that feels better
  • Current Music
    Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite

Aliens! Aliens I say!

According to the BBC:

The wife of murdered Nairn banker Alistair Wilson has described his killer as "not human".
"I cannot even call the person responsible a human being, because I can't understand how a human being would do this," she added.

Presumably murdered by some kind of crab.

Or possibly a goat.
  • Current Music
    Smashing Pumpkins - Here Is No Why

You can tell I'm a bit bored

Downloaded Knoppix (a linux variant), burnt it to CD, rebooted the machine with the CD in and 5 minutes later I'm running Linux, chatting on MSN (via Gaim) and it all looks pretty good.

Well, it didn't recognise my graphics card, so it's stuck in 1024x768, but other than that...

So far it's not quite as intuitive as windows, but then I don't have 10 years of experience with it...