Home > Media > “Quite Interesting” Media Round-up: 13th May 2013

“Quite Interesting” Media Round-up: 13th May 2013


In programming…

Figure 1. That’s some mighty cock and balls you got there bro

I came across a pretty sweet (and free) tool called CyberDuck. It lets you connect to FTP, WebDAV, Amazon S3 and Google Drive sites (among others) from a unified interface, which is pretty neat and allows you to consolidate all those file transfer apps on your hard drive a bit.

In mathematics…

I discovered the site PurpleMath which has a really excellent repository of algebra tutorials and exercises for any student or professional who needs a refresher.

In technology and IT…

This month the 75% of the UK electorate who didn’t vote for UKIP are wondering what their country has degraded into, while the other 25% are excitedly preparing for a return to the Dark Ages. Fortunately, it’s not all bad news: an image was spotted by a keen Redditter of the Mars Spirit rover drawing a giant penis on the surface of Mars; eloquent reporting as always by The Register, although the editors at Space.com were significantly less amused by these chenanigans than us luddites. In other extravagance that greatly relieved my personal travel woes, Google’s own private airport terminal is now under construction after being approved on 18th April. It’s alright for some, but poor old Kim Dotcom hasn’t been so lucky as he continues fighting the charges against him re: MegaUpload and copyright infringement. Remember when he made the MegaCar in 1999? Oh how the mighty have fallen.

In a controversial move, a Spanish organization called ANAR has created an anti-child abuse poster using lenticular technology, meaning that only children (or at least, people under a certain height) can see it. While the technology is fascinating, the comments on this article are well-worth reading as there is some constructive debate and the issues are much more complex than they first appear. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this myself.

Trevor Pott felt compelled to share his views on Adobe products when Adobe told Ninite no longer to bundle Flash with their app. I feel your pain Trevor. And finally, MSN appears still not to have shut down even though the big switch-off was supposed to happen on April 8th. No word about this on the internets apparently. Anyone?

In biology…

This week Wikipedia wasted my time teaching me about Echolalia, the phenomena of repeating the end of other people’s sentences.

In law…

Figure 2. Steganographic representation of a PlayStation 3 encryption key as portrayed by a Yale Law School student

Wikipedia continued my home tutoring with a lesson on the subtly-entitled Streisand effect, which it describes henceforth: “The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.”. So a lot like when NASA tried to cover up its Mars penis escapade and wound up getting so many hits on its homepage that it crashed, then? The web page I mean, not the rover. Spirit was toast 3 years ago. It got stuck in a mound of sand. $1.8 billion. I know, right. Still, it could have been worse: it could have drawn a giant mound and then got stuck inside that.

Did you know that it can be illegal to own, communicate or distribute a number? I find that concept particularly paradoxical since somebody had to decide which number was illegal in the first place, and hence by marking it as such, became in possession of and/or communicated the number, thereby breaking the law. Whoops. Anyhow, in Figure 2 I present to you an illegal number (a PlayStation 3 encryption key used for jailbreaking) as portrayed by a Yale Law School student in the form of RGB colour stripes in the form of a flag (plus two extra bytes), demonstrating just how ridiculous the idea of outlawing a number really is.

Amazingly, the silliness goes even further. Illegal prime numbers are in an entire category of their own. Here is the first ‘discovered’ illegal prime number:

4 85650 78965 73978 29309 84189 46942 86137 70744 20873 51357 92401 96520 73668 69851 34010 47237 44696 87974 39926 11751 09737 77701 02744 75280 49058 83138 40375 49709 98790 96539 55227 01171 21570 25974 66699 32402 26834 59661 96060 34851 74249 77358 46851 88556 74570 25712 54749 99648 21941 84655 71008 41190 86259 71694 79707 99152 00486 67099 75923 59606 13207 25973 79799 36188 60631 69144 73588 30024 53369 72781 81391 47979 55513 39994 93948 82899 84691 78361 00182 59789 01031 60196 18350 34344 89568 70538 45208 53804 58424 15654 82488 93338 04747 58711 28339 59896 85223 25446 08408 97111 97712 76941 20795 86244 05471 61321 00500 64598 20176 96177 18094 78113 62200 27234 48272 24932 32595 47234 68800 29277 76497 90614 81298 40428 34572 01463 48968 54716 90823 54737 83566 19721 86224 96943 16227 16663 93905 54302 41564 73292 48552 48991 22573 94665 48627 14048 21171 38124 38821 77176 02984 12552 44647 44505 58346 28144 88335 63190 27253 19590 43928 38737 64073 91689 12579 24055 01562 08897 87163 37599 91078 87084 90815 90975 48019 28576 84519 88596 30532 38234 90558 09203 29996 03234 47114 07760 19847 16353 11617 13078 57608 48622 36370 28357 01049 61259 56818 46785 96533 31007 70179 91614 67447 25492 72833 48691 60006 47585 91746 27812 12690 07351 83092 41530 10630 28932 95665 84366 20008 00476 77896 79843 82090 79761 98594 93646 30938 05863 36721 46969 59750 27968 77120 57249 96666 98056 14533 82074 12031 59337 70309 94915 27469 18356 59376 21022 20068 12679 82734 45760 93802 03044 79122 77498 09179 55938 38712 10005 88766 68925 84487 00470 77255 24970 60444 65212 71304 04321 18261 01035 91186 47666 29638 58495 08744 84973 73476 86142 08805 29443.

Apparently this is a compressed representation of the C source code for DeCSS, a famous piece of code back in the day for reverse-engineering DVD movie copy protection. No, I’m afraid I’m being serious.

Speaking of copy-protection, I feel I have to give an honorable mention to the DVD anti-copying technique known as wobble groove technology, just for its epic name. I still laugh every time I hear the phrase ‘pre-groove wobble detectors’. Which to be honest, in the pub, is not that often.

Rounding off our finger-poke at pointless DRM nonsense, do you have an HDTV or computer monitor with HDMI? Does it support HDCP? How did that work out for you? Uh huh. Read the tragic story of HDCP and the release of its master keys for the sordid details.

In gaming…

Figure 3. Thomas Was Alone

GameSpot ran an interesting video post on the topic of video games vs depression – an interesting watch even though I don’t fully agree with what was said. In the meanwhile, Sony announced that everyone can now be a PlayStation Mobile publisher without paying the $99 annual fee; a move that was (quite predictably) universally slammed and met by a torrent abuse by all the developers in non-approved countries currently locked out of the platform (see the comments in the linked article for a taster).

My game of the moment is the well-crafted Thomas Was Alone, originally a Flash game that was the work of a single gentleman over 6 years of his spare time. It has now been ported by Curve Studios to a bunch of consoles. Billed as a game about “friendship and jumping”, Thomas Was Alone is basically a game where you control several blocks of different sizes and with different movement mechanics, and have to figure out how to make them work together to reach the end of each level. Simple ideas are often the best.

Honourable mentions this week to Telltale Games’ Poker Night 2 and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon which were both deceptively fun and hilariously funny. Dishonourable mention to Bioshock Infinite which I have now completed, and with a 95% average score on Metacritic I can report is grossly over-rated, to put it mildly. I quit my job as a game reviewer 3 years ago because I was losing faith in the gaming media to retain its integrity when it comes to game reviews on publisher ad-funded sites. It would seem my fears were not unfounded. A quick Google of ‘Bioshock Infinite Overrated‘ reveals masses of people who seem to share my feelings on the game.

On TV…

The Horizon documentary How Violent Are You (2008-2009) with Michael Portillo presents some fascinating commentary on whether it is possible to convince ordinary people to kill for an idea – the idea in this case being that science exists for the greater good. Historical and refreshed experiments are presented as well as some thought-provoking questions; the results may surprise you.

In humour…

And finally, anyone who is a child of the 80s will surely appreciate More Beans’ take on 17 problems you haven’t had since the 90s.

Enjoy, and until next time!

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Categories: Media
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