How many friends do you have?

 

So recently a bunch of bored scientists proved that it is basically impossible for a human to hold more than 150 friends, and that the bulk of people on facebook who think they have over 3000 of them are kidding themselves. This article at first bothered me a little bit. Mainly because I have nearly 400 friends on facey and was somewhat sure I recognized them all as friends, or at least acquaintances.

So I thought wait, these guys are scientists, Doing tests like this THEY are kidding themselves. Just because they don’t have friends they have to make a study saying no one else can! So I thought I’d have a quick run through my friends on FB to see if I could prove this theory wrong. Then the problem got bigger (Story of my life)… I had to put the finger on the definition of an actual friend worthy of my real life friend-ing-ness. So I came to the point of a close friend of mine being someone I would happily perform a favour for, or ask a favour from, in real life without hesitating.

Then brings me to my fake scenario –

I imagined I had an animal. Like a cat. But I hate cats so we will say just an animal. A worthy friend would be someone I could ask to come over to my house and feed my animal if i’m on holidays or not in town. I would then have to reverse the situation and imagine myself doing it for him/her. So back to my friends list. Which comprises of old school/TAFE mates, people I’ve met through mutual friends, work colleagues and an extended community of fellow gamers.

Now taking into account the virtual friends I’ve met that I probably wouldn’t trust in real life. I still had an original estimation that the people in my list I would ring up to feed my animal would be well over half of the 400 or so. So you could say I was pretty self assured I could prove this wrong. After sifting through the list my end count was –

A measly 84

That’s a bit surprising. But what does it mean? Pretty much means I’m not the only one who will realize online friendships lull us into a false sense of popularity, sure we might have met that person once or twice. Sure were not necessarily enemies. Or maybe we just don’t talk as much as we used to. But I think face book friends are incorrectly labelled as ‘friendships’ when to be honest it’s more of a comparison of being in a crowded pub with a crapload of people your are acquainted with to varying degrees. Face it, most of us are far to busy to visit the people we know on a regular basis and even though I was surprised at the difference in numbers from my online friends and close, real-life friends. I don’t believe that social networking is having a huge effect on our ability to make friends in real life. I think a rename of the word ‘friends’ is in order on Facebook. Something that describes the relationships we have online that, although are friendly, does not translate into automatic kinship.

I can’t think of a good name for it. any suggestions?

Strangely enough, i vividly remember the first time i used p2p software. I downloaded "Enter Sandman" by Metallica because my brother had it on tape and wouldn't give it to me. It took me 40 mins to download, but once I fired up the MP3 file in Winamp I was like "woah, this is awesome!"

So unless you haven’t desperately wanted to download that song you heard in the last few days, you would have noticed that the popular file sharing program Limewire was officially shutdown in the wee hours of 27/10/2010.

This was a brave move made from the ever popular RIAA after 13 separate music companies filed a court case against the software giant, claiming the program to be a main copyright infringement and an illegal way to distribute music without any form of currency involved (Even though Limewire was making millions themselves.). This obviously dealt a huge kidney punch to the company. But the CEO attempted to defend the outcome by saying that the company will return with a new service in the near future.

Now we all knew that It wasn’t right to download music for free off the internet, and to be honest the majority of people who download music don’t care how illegal it is. The fact that it is so simple and so popular nearly diminishes the fact that its wrong both morally and legally, Because of the simplicity of Limewire, the name grew bigger and bigger. Eventually became viral and was the number one program always installed on computers I’ve had to fix as a result of viruses. If anything,  actually getting a virus on your computer was more of a fear to people then the laws of piracy knocking on their door and fining them “$500 – $20,000 dollars per offence.” It seemed unbelievable, and children took about as much notice to the warnings as the “1.5 maximum drinks daily” labels on red bull.

Now this court case has been going on since 2006. With plenty of sides to the story. The website got shut down last Wednesday from the day this was written. In the meantime people who actually know 2 things about a computer have made similar programs, which are based on the same network. Everyone I have spoken to about this in the last few days have asked “What can I use now instead of Limewire.” Which means that everyone knows that there is other programs out the that do EXACTLY the same thing. But are listed under a different name.

Not only has there been hundreds of other open source software to back up this act in the mean time. Even 24 hours after the case was closed, The wonderful people of the underground network “4chan” shutdown the RIAA website using a series of DDos attacks (the website was still down when I checked today). Also finding the CEO’s address and phone number, resulting in prank calls, black faxes and even pizza delivered to his address.

So it’s now an established fact that all the RIAA did was piss the people of the internet right off, and left the door open far too long for programmers alike. The days now of torrents and rapid share accounts means a whole new lot of court cases. Maybe not as long as Lime wire’s case as it was the first one of its kind to that scale. Next to Napster of course. But nevertheless having to play catch up while people continue to find other ways to download free music, movies and software.

I think this is a horrible clash with the speed of the internet, and the speed of a court case to this scale, and until some solid laws about music piracy is made in all countries where internet is available. People will always have access to a song that they want to hear. Meanwhile the law firms and court cases try to find loopholes like they are now. Simply creating the internet’s version of a dog chasing its tail. No one really expected the internet’s actions to outrun real life’s consequences. Hell, before the year 2000, the only law in Australia regarding the internet was conviction after gaining restricted access of someone else’s information, That means before the year 2000, anything on the net hosted in Australia, no matter how offensive or corrupt, was technically legal! This country has had the internet since the early 90s, so isn’t that saying something about the lack of laws to control the World Wide Web? Without sounding too much like a communist believer, It is safe to say that laws should have been made for the internet before it was invented. Now it’s just a freight train of information that no one can stop.

Video game ‘addiction’

Posted: 17/10/2010 in Rants

Screenshot taken from the south park episode 'Make love, Not Warcraft.'

 

With the endless amount of stories oozing out of the media in the last few years regarding video game addiction, it’s no wonder the experts have got involved, trying to call it a ‘mental disorder’. 2 stories that come to mind when it comes to playing too much games is the guy who played starcraft for 50 hours eventually dying from exhaustion and the Chinese man dying after 3 days of World of Warcraft. Now as these stories are 100 percent true. You have to think to yourself, did these people have more problems upstairs than just liking a computer game? There are plenty of examples of people losing jobs, grades or girlfriends by playing WoW or Everquest for more time than they spend not playing. I’m sure every gamer knows at least 1 person like that. But the big question is ‘Who defines video game addiction?’

I will admit I am and always have been a vivid gamer ever since my Dad bought home a windows 3.1 computer packed full of commander keen games. Right up until being in a Counter strike clan in high school rated 18th in Australia on the game arena ladder in 2006. Eventually making the inevitable plunge into MMO’s like World of Warcraft. (the only reason i’m putting so much time and research into this is because i’m waiting for a WoW patch to download) As games have been a massive part of my life. I never lost a job or friends due to my hobby, and i have pulled a few all nighters playing these games to get to the level I was at. But does this make me an addict?

But back to the point of defining addiction, I think it ultimately depends on who is actually defining the addiction to a certain hobby such as gaming. For instance someone who see’s watching television or being on the computer for 2 hours as inordinate and who never plays video games of any sort, i imagine that ‘gaming addiction’ would have a slightly different definition to them than when defined by someone like me. To make matters even more complicated, alcohol and drug addiction has physical symptoms because its a substance you ingest. Gaming only has psychological symptoms. Making the line of calling it an ‘addiction’ much harder.

Take something as simple as cleaning excessively. What if you knew someone who was ridiculously clean (and face it we all know someone like that). Would you ever consider intervening in that persons cleaning habit? What if that person won’t go places with friends because there too busy cleaning the house. Or they lose well needed sleep to spend more time cleaning? Would you try to interfere with them if they were in clear physical, social or psychological trouble because of the cleaning habit?

Clearly this is a far-fetched and somewhat contrived example. But the point is still there – we can all think of a person who requires intervention because of some sort of hobby. This illustrates my point that pretty much any hobby can easily be classified as an addiction, especially by someone who has little knowledge or doesn’t share a similar interest.

The fact is that video gaming is only frowned upon by people who don’t actually game, and all it is to them is someone staring at a screen for hours doing a whole lot of nothing. Ultimately the people who writes these stories are obviously not gamers at all. Or they wouldn’t agree to it. Backing it up with a stupid statement like ‘But it’s not even real.’ I’ve had this argument countless times with friends always ending on something along the lines of Just because you can’t touch it or take it places, doesn’t mean its not real. Its something you put time into. Leading to a result from your work, and that makes it as real as anything else. What news articles don’t tell you is that WoW is mostly played with up to 25 people in a group, working together in a team environment based on experience in the game to achieve a goal (killing a boss essentially). Leading to building relationships and respect with fellow players.  So isn’t that what parents send there kids to school and force them to learn?

I’m not saying people don’t get addicted to games, people can get addicted to all sorts of things from facebook to chewing toothpicks. There is nothing that is in gaming that physically makes you unable to stop. It’s usually that voice in your head that says one more level, just one more. But even with the lack of self control with gamers, i think complete intervention seems a step to far. Perhaps if your the guy who drags along his laptop to the hospital to play WoW while his first son is being born, yes, but otherwise…

Trolled

Posted: 13/10/2010 in Rants

 

You mad bro?

 

Coming from a person who spends the majority of life staring at pixels, I’ve noticed recently that more and more people of the internet like to throw the word ‘Troll’ around quite often.  For those of you that don’t know,  the actual definition of an internet troll is: “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument”

Essentially a Troll is an individual who thrives on pissing people off and feeds on negative reactions to start an argument. On 4chan the feeding grounds are the infamous ‘/b/’ channel. On games like World of Warcraft its ‘Barrens/trade chat.’ On games like Call of duty It’s the 12-year-old with a mic who thinks everyone on the server are either ‘fags’ or are ‘hacking’. On YouTube it’s the majority of comments on a clip that slur the video, making you wonder why they were watching the clip in the first place. The potential is few and far between. No doubt if you have been on any online community where people can talk to one another. you’ve witnessed a troll in the act.

There are many different variations of this anti-social behaviour and countless ways to explain them. But from my online experience this is how I can best describe a few of them:

Sniper Trolls – This type reminds me of a sniper in a war, They’ll leave a comment or post a thread on an awkward or touchy subject that starts a pages-long debate among the other users,  though when it hits page 2 you will notice that the troll has stopped posting altogether, leaving everyone else to argue and try and resolve a usually unresolvable matter.

Pyromaniac Troll – This one will start a spark with a heated argument, then brutally flame and insult anyone and everyone that comes into their vicinity(So many puns!). These are the kind of people in real life who you can’t have a conversation with because their opinion is always right based off emotional perspective, not an interpretation of real facts, and all who oppose it are slayed where they stand.

Devils Advocate Troll – Where the person will not actually start a conversation or a thread, but rather make contrary posts to things that don’t really require a contradictory opinion. They enjoy frustrating and harassing users that don’t know how to ignore someone who is clearly just trying to get a reaction from them.

IRL Troll – Finally there is the real life troll, this is the same as trolling on the internet but people who have the guts actually do it face to face instead of over a keyboard. This style of real trolling I have much more respect for. They know how to make a conversation exciting, and can sometimes even make valid or interesting (or amusing) points in the course of their trolling.

The aim of pointing these out is to show just how diverse and varied a troll can be, and there are literally hundreds of sub-definitions describing the types more accurately. Because there is no single meaning to the word, it’s basically a synonym for ass hole. Which broadens it even further. I think the term is used that much, even in mainstream news articles, that it has become as meaningless as the word ‘n00b’.

So by saying that, do yourself and your online community a favour – If you see a comment or a user that you suspect is a troll, don’t bother with your clever “don’t feed the troll” 4chan pictures. Do not try to call out the supposed troll, this is only going to give them what they want, or will spoil a perfectly legit (albeit possibly stupid) comment or thread. Just ignore it, or (as crazy as it sounds) even respond to the post as though it were serious. Who knows – maybe you’ll find yourself in an interesting discussion.

 

 

Taste's like chicken.

 

An asian health website revealed yesterday that the ever popular mi goreng instant noodles have been seized by authorities and tested, suspected of having a chemical ingredient used as a preservative in cosmetics.  Although results are yet to be confirmed.

These delicious noodles are ridiculously popular based mainly on there value for money (around $2 for a 6 pack in supermarkets, even cheaper in Asian food stores in Chinatown, Sydney) and in my opinion have wiped the floor with other more westernized brands like ‘maggi’ when it comes to value for your money. They are extremely popular with school students and tight arse university students.  The facebook page has almost a quarter of a million fans,  considerably more than the page from the iron chef, which i’m sure has made REAL mi goreng.  But did anyone think of what the hell is in those funny smelling oil sachets?

I heard of rumors popping up all over the place once they started getting popular such as the packets containing more sodium and MSG than any other instant noodle in the supermarket, Which may well be true, but in my opinion i think these rumors cropped up from the nauseous feeling everyone seems to get in their stomach after consuming this spicy substance. I also do not think I’ve ever produced more satisfying farts while under the influence of these bad boys.

Without being to biased towards the company with so little knowledge, does anyone actually know what the hell the white oil is? not to mention the so called “onion flakes” bundled with the powder? and why the end result produces a flavorsome, spicy, glistening concoction that doesn’t come close to any other instant noodle you’ve tried? As everyone has learned from McDonald’s you can’t have something that tastes good AND is good for your health. So there must be something sneaky in these yellow strings that there not telling us.

Any who, whether or not the noodles do contain this unsafe ingredient, the fact is that no one who consumes them will care. They will continue to be an ever growing brand. Like i said the majority of consumers are young adults, a large percentage of whom smoke. The noodles could be killing us for all we care. It makes no difference. The company has accidently fallen upon the perfect marketing sword, targeting the only age bracket in Australia that doesn’t give a shit about long term consequences and I for one will not give up until i grow old and actually learn to cook.