You will see hot beautiful girl! Click Here!

I'm a big fan of Copyranter, because the guy's spot on and his color commentary about advertising is hilarious. One of the most entertaining things he talks about is the ads for True, a dating site that like to sell itself with bikini girls and upskirt shots. Real classy outfit, that True.

So, anyway, I go to log into MySpace because my email keeps pestering me that 4 new people want to be my friend. Who doesn't like new friends?

True 1

This is what greets me as I sign in to MySpace. Hey, some cute girls like me. I'm seeing someone right now, but who doesn't want to meet some more cute girls? (Platonically. I really like my current girlfriend.)

True 2

Here's the first one. Her name is Monique, and she's in a bikini. She wants me to go to her website to see her naked. This is, of course, total spam. Moving on . . .

True 3

This is Gloria. She has a picture of her ass in what appears to be some sort of lacy ass-enhancing contraption. She wants me to go to her site, where I can see her naked. Spam, spam, spam, spam, wonderful spam, marvelous spam . . .

True 4

This is Lynette. She's nude, somewhere, and I'm supposed to visit her boob emporium for a glimpse of her girly parts arranged in enticing positions for my boner. Yep, more spam.

At this point I am mildly pissed. It would be one thing if I was getting spammed with actual nudity, but this is just annoying. I want to know who is behind all of this. So, I take three completely different profiles, with nothing tying them together except the fact that they're spam for porn sites, and I click on them to see what kind of browser-destroying monstrosity they unleash.

True 5

All three, after a redirect, take me to the exact same signup page. Not for a porn site, but for our friends at True.

Good job guys! Not only are you unleashing a (not completely unwelcome) breast assault on me when I go look for new bands to listen to, but you're making fake profiles on MySpace to hawk your dating site. What's sad is that each of these "girls" has at least ten friends. Some poor delusional dude from Michigan was actually hitting on Monique in the comments, which just goes to show the power of boners in obliterating all reason whatsoever from the male brain.

I mentioned this all to Copyranter, and I hope I can hear his take on it. It'll be funny. In the meantime. I'm adding him to my links sidebar.

posted by John @ 1:22 AM, ,

College students break the law

And if it isn't hashish or vandalism, its at least piracy.

But one pirate happens to be proud of it, and considers himself on the front line of the growing battle over copyright in the networked age. The question at hand is over Boston University's actions concerning a DMCA notice. I'll let Rich explain it.

A few days ago I went to check my BU webmail and noticed I had received a letter titled “COPYRIGHT VIOLATION: PLEASE READ IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID DISCIPLINARY ACTION”. I didn’t have time to deal with it, closed the window and figured I’d deal with it once spring break was over. When I get back to school, though, I find I can’t log in to my email, can’t look at my financial status, can’t look at my course materials. This makes it essentially impossible to continue as a Boston University student. I went to the IT office to get it sorted out . . . I’m ushered into the messy office of a man with slicked back gray hair, a police plaque on the wall and bottle of Johnny Walker Blue on his desk. There is a ten inch stack of papers with the blue RIAA logo on the top. The man is James H. Stone, Director, Consulting Services, High Technology Crime Investigator, and as he later claims, “DMCA Enforcer.”

Rich is a programming student and Creative Commons/open source/free information advocate, so it's not too surprising that when a course he is taking required proprietary software he pirated it instead of coughing up the cash.

In fact, I'm surprised that there isn't more of a problem with textbook piracy, just because college students are, after all, the demographic most like to steal. There should be a bunch of guys slinking around campus with stacks of photocopied texts at the start of every semester, especially if college students are the pirates that some people think we are. But we all know that $20 Xeroxed textbook doesn't exist. I wonder if anything should be inferred from that? Hrm, we're willing to pay extortion rates on textbooks, but we are killing the music industry. Something doesn't jive here.

Rich maintains his position is one of civil disobedience, and I empathize. In a world where lots of money is sunk into equating downloading MP3s with robbing banks (that's seriously in the comments section of Rich's blog entry, by the way) a student being unrepentant about downloading a personal copy of software his university has already paid for is met with a crowd of detractors calling him a thief and accusing him of stealing food out of software developers' mouths. I wonder if any of them read enough of his blog to realize that he's a developer and he knows exactly what's up.

I left a long, overly detailed comment about the ins and outs of copyright law (and why infringement and stealing are two very different things) and offered my support. He's pretty much getting a slap on the wrist, but his experience was noteworthy enough to get a mention on Boing Boing, which is blogging's version of a story on the front page of the New York Times.

Rich, just use open source. You don't have to deal with licenses and nobody will ever sue you for it. But Keep Fighting The Good Fight.

A Meeting with Jim Stone, DMCA Enforcer @ The New Freedom

posted by John @ 12:48 AM, ,

Design geek-out

It's a chair that turns into a roadie case when nobody's sitting in it. From Treehugger, an environmental/sustainability blog.

The Auburn University Rural Studio is what would happen if Frank Lloyd Wright was reincarnated as a Southerner. I like all of their work.

Rocio Romero's LV line of prefab housing. Why buy a $100k tract home in a subdivision (if such a thing exists anymore, more like $150k and where I am is cheap) when you can get something like this for the same money?

posted by John @ 11:58 PM, ,

Blogs do not write themselves

Or do they?

A bit of background: I actually started this blog as part of a project on blogging I did for my Mass Communication class. I'm currently in college, majoring in Communications with an emphasis in Media Technologies. Damned if I know what Media Technologies is, but the course sequence lets me play with radio, television, theatre, interactive media, and print design, which is just the thing for a multimedia artist. Anyway, one of the key points of the presentation was establishing that if you could type, you could blog. Its that simple. To prove my point I took an afternoon, made a Blogger account, and wrote some posts. I took a template, modified it in a quick and dirty fashion to make it suit my needs, and had a pretty slick blog before dinner. I could finally subject the reader to my verbose profundity. Or they could say I was a wordy jackass. Whatever. They could read what I wrote, and that was the main point.

"But John, " you say, "you're a nerd. You know a bunch of stuff about the Internet and didn't lose your virginity until you were 20. You still play 8 bit Nintendo for fuck's sake. What if the rest of us want to say something?"

Well, for those of you who don't want to write 500 words every day or tweak arcane DHTML, there's Tumblr. Lifehacker covers how to use Tumblr pretty well, so I'll just hit the high points. Basically, its blogging stripped down to its absolute core. You can post a picture, a video, a quote, a conversation, or a link. So if you have something to share you can put it up for the world to view, whether its a neat new site or a funny clip from the YouTubes. Pretty cool.

posted by John @ 10:25 PM, ,

Long term goals

I'm drinking beer late on Friday night when I start thinking about what I'd like to do in the near future. This leads to three ideas, off the top of my head.

1. Attend SXSW next year. I have no excuse not to go if I plan this far ahead. The more I read about it, the more I'm convinced South by Southwest is like a Mardi Gras for the Internet that somehow magically transforms to Coachella with barbecue instead of a massive hangover on Ash Wednesday. Bonnaroo has smelly hippies and Tool, while SXSW has giftbags by David Byrne and hand-stitched requests to not sniff coke. I think SXSW is by far the better festival to save up for. Plus, everybody needs an excuse to go to Austin.

2. Play a gig with Walking Into Cars sometime in May. We're still trying to find a suitable replacement for our whiny, overly serious, and immature lead singer, who, despite our best efforts, drug us toward sucking at every possible opportunity due to the sheer force of his terrible, arbitrary, and capricious taste in music. I think we can make something happen now that he's not around to fight us on everything, and a friend of mine wants to jam with us. He's a good entertainer, and I play with him sometimes at open mics and such. You can actually watch Phillip at one of my favorite bars here, although the sound quality isn't that great.

3. I've been interested in HTML since high school, but lately I've gotten into web development thanks to Microsoft's Beginning Developer Learning Center. There's a big difference between making a good looking static Web page and making even a simple dynamic page (this blog is dynamic but Blogger does all the heavy lifting) and I see money to be made if I can acquire the skillset to make a Flickr or a Digg.

posted by John @ 2:38 AM, ,

Please . . .

forgive the static.

Not static as in noise, but static as in I haven't written anything for you in a while, so nothing's changed.

Static, as opposed to dynamic.

I've been working on some CSS/HTML to move the blog from "cleanly designed" to "ass-kickingly designed." I'm a design junky. I gibber and drool at Dwell. I've always used Apple hardware when I've had the choice. I have an antiquated TV just for the wood paneling and the zinc-colored knobs. Since this blog is a reflection of me in the digital sense, I'm obsessing over the web equivalents of bent plywood and stainless steel.

I probably should be focusing on content, since I've seen some ugly-ass pages do really well, but this is Notes from the Internet Generation, not Notes from the Myspace Generation. I have a little pride.

Speaking of Notes from the Myspace Generation, has anyone heard of Ultragrrrl? I found her thru Idolator, Gawker Media's music blog. (I like Idolator so much that it's in my links bar. If you are a music snob it's a good read.) Apparently, the girl has had her hands in a lot of college rock pies. Here's what the Village Voice had to say:

Lewitinn first got national attention in 2003 via her blog, Sarah's So Boring Ever Since She Stopped Drinking (now located at Then came Making Out With Ultragrrrl, her minuscule but influential column in Spin that ran from 2003 to 2004. She's won Paper magazine's People's Choice award for Best Party and Best DJ (sharing the latter honor with her DJ partner, Karen Plus One) two years running, and in 2005 wrote The Pocket DJ, a book of playlists for different genres, moods, and occasions. It sold 38,000 copies—successful enough that she's signed to do a second book, The Pocket Karaoke. She's working with a screenwriter on a movie script partially based on her life. Her growing profile nabbed her a recent write-up in Vanity Fair (written by her good friend and former Spin mentor Marc Spitz, which spurred a bit of controversy) and more media attention than any other a&r rep in town when she started Stolen Transmission, a subsidiary of the Island/Def Jam label empire. But her main claim to fame is the early discovery of New Jersey goth punkers My Chemical Romance—a band she briefly managed—and her similarly prescient championing of Las Vegas dance-rock sensations the Killers. She also provided early support for such bands as Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Fall Out Boy, and Stellastarr(whom she also briefly managed). She has shown an unsettling ability to call the next big thing—a soothsayer for teenage girls, middle-American music fans, and even hipsters who would like to think they know better.

And here's what I posted in the comments section of the article:
Let me state, for the record, that I'm a kid from Nashville and my tastes are more Uncle Tupelo than the Killers. I'm pretty eclectic, though, and I'm no redneck.

Let me also state that Sarah is good looking, quite disarming, highly intelligent, and articulate without being self-conscious. It's easy to see how she got where she is.

But Sarah suffers from Myspace Syndrome. Or, as famed Microsoft nerd Robert Scoble puts it, she is in an echo chamber. She has her ear to the ground, sure, but "buzz" is a very incestuous thing. All of her pet projects are the sort of "alternative" MTV2-friendly bands that we've been inundated with since everybody took a second to think about Korn and said in unison "This nu-metal shit sucks."

Of course these bands generated buzz. They sound cool, but sounding cool is a quite different thing than sounding good.

Sounding "cool" is about aping post-punk and hoping kids don't realize that Franz Ferdinand is Gang of Four run thru Pro Tools. It's about having just edgy enough of a sound so that you can get shelf space in Hot Topic, but not enough to alienate the 14 year old girls who spend their days on Livejournal slavishly posting back and forth. Its about stylization over musical substance. It's about a sound that's "different" but still homogenized.

Sounding cool is what Sarah is good at, but what about sounding interesting? Or, heaven forbid, finding sounds outside this "cool" orthodoxy? Taking risks in order to bring forward performers who generate buzz based on the power of their music rather than the power of their image, or (more truthfully) the power of their image to give their listeners a sense of elitism?

Don't get me wrong; I'm a snob. One of the joys of living in flyover country is getting to look at people like they're dumb when you ask why they've never heard of Pavement. (Insert any well-celebrated indie act for Pavement. The gag still works.) But Sarah, dear, elitism is the double-edged sword that makes Ultragrrrl possible and also makes her a pretty target for all that vitriol. (If there's anything snobs love to do, it's hating.) It might even be her undoing. The joy of that elitism, however, is that right now you've got more mindshare than Jay-Z. You're the cover story in the Village Voice, for fuck's sake. Why sit at the right hand of a guy whose greatest artistic triumph was getting ripped off by Danger Mouse? That seems awfully stifling for someone who prides her label on being an incubator for the next big thing. Break out of that tiny box and see what happens.

I hope I wasn't too mean, because she obviously cares about this music. Reading her blog convinced me of that. However (and this is a big however) I can't stand to listen to half of it, and I'm a pretty with-it guy. I may be geographically disadvantaged, and I may not listen to what the cool kids are on this week, but damn. I mean, damn.

I think I've made my point.

posted by John @ 8:11 PM, ,