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Google and the World Brain

Google and the World Brain is a fascinating documentary about the Google Books project, and it’s legal troubles when challenged by copyright holders. It was shown as part of the BBC’s “Storyville” series and can be viewed at the moment on iPlayer (in the UK) .

The World Brain was a concept by the author (and perhaps one of the first futurists) H.G. Wells in which he thought that the technology was available to create something like the library of Alexandria – a repository of the sum of human knowledge, but sorted and indexed in order to make it easily available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

At first the documentary takes pains to show both sides of the argument. Google is perhaps uniquely positioned with the capabilities to digitise such a large amount of books (even if in the snippets it looks like mind numbingly tedious manual work!) and present it with it’s own search algorithms. However as the naysayers get to speak their piece it becomes an argument between the freedom of information, the potential monopolising of certain sectors of the publishing world, and the tearing away of copyright protection enjoyed by authors.

As usual it boils down to money. As Kevin Kelly (founder of Wired and a well known technology evangelist) says if you don’t agree with these freedoms or are worried about privacy, unplug your internet connection. I guess you can’t say fairer than that.

With a cast of characters including French and German representatives, who no matter what they claim seem to carrying an anti-american point of view more than worrying about a threat to culture, the story eventually ends on the note that perhaps it shouldn’t be commercial entities like Google controlling this mass digitising, it should be governments. And rightly so.

I’m all for freedom of information. Of course information should be available to all. However I feel this perhaps is more relevant to academical works, bodies of research, and perhaps news and current affairs. Knowledge helps further the human race, prevents endless reinventing of the wheel, and empowers, informs, and educates. All modern material of course is now heavily provided in digital form, so there should really be no argument against digitising to preserve and index work that was made before this present level of technology.

In all honesty Google’s current way of showing “snippets” of published work for search queries is of no real use to anyone. And if those snippets provide book sales of out-of-print books I’m sure most would agree this is more about a sale of a lost work than a lost sale for a current work…

The arguments about whether “Google is Evil!” (a twist on it’s motto of Do No Evil ) have long been discussed, and the matter of it’s map-making cars gathering wifi data mentioned in this film. I feel much more damage is done by world governments who love to censor on one hand but have access to all we hold private in the other than ever Google would achieve in it’s side line of profit alongside it’s altruistic endeavours.

“Google and The World Brain” was made by Polar Star Films  and also shown as part of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Trailer @ Youtube

 

Current Book, Movie, TV and Tech Favorites…

New year, new post.

I’ve just re-uploaded this site (and others) and apart from some dead links, sites that no longer exist, and the ever advancing pace of technology making almost everything obsolete – it kinda works.

So let’s recap on a few new obsessions  interests. If I keep up any kind of enthusiasm I’ll write in more detail in the future.

Television

In among the piles of reality shows, repeats, and knock-offs it seems that quality television is here to stay.

Homeland – joint British/US spy caper based on an Israeli original. Can be slow at times, but I’m ready for season 3.

Dexter – The original “cop (kinda) as a serial killer” hook is long tired, but each season has delivered the goods.

Fringe – I’ve found this last season a little too distracting, it was better with the peril-of-the-week, but still great because of John Bishop.

Breaking Bad – Malcom in the Middle’s dad as a meth cook? Each season has been bigger, badder, and better – bitches.

Warehouse 13 – Another of SyFy’s homegrown efforts and one of their better ones. One more season to come!

Eureka – or, in the UK, a “Town called Eureka” – the atmosphere is similar to Warehouse (comedy/drama). SyFy’s other hit.

Touch – this is where Kiefer went after 24 and Heroes Tim Kring absolved himself.

The Walking Dead – I’m still stuck in season 2 trying to plough through but I’m reliably told the next is much, much better. Started well.

 

Books

 

Since I saw the news about Jack Reacher I delved into Lee Child’s novels, and , erm, read the whole lot in a couple of months. I’m finding these are the kind of pick up and go books you don’t need to put aside a whole lot of time for (Mills and Boon for blokes? 🙂 ) but all in all well written, exciting, quick to read. These are like watching an action movie. Interestingly, Child (a brit) writes of the idealised America we already know from movies.

Same goes for James Patterson. Now a franchise more than an author his Alex Cross books, Private, Michael Bennet, NYPD Red, and the odd standalone, are again quick reads with familiar formats. Some might criticize the way he churns out his books, but for pure entertainment you won’t go far wrong.

I’ve already said I’m a big fan of Orson Scott Card’s Enderverse but I also found the first two “Pathfinder” books excellent, and I started the interesting “Alvin Maker” series. Peter F. Hamiltons Commonwealth and Void sagas are also highly recommended, big tomes, but really didn’t feel like it.

Brett Easton Ellis – famous for American Psycho – probably holds the crown for disillusioned nihilistic youth characters, I saw “Less than Zero” and American Psycho as films, and read Glamorama – excellent. Imperial Bedrooms is next on the list.

Read David Wongs follow up to John Dies at The End called “This Book Is Full Of Spiders”. More of the same I guess. And that’s not a criticism.

It’s always interesting reading the life stories of the rich and famous. Especially when they have a story. So Nikki Sixx’s “Heroin Diaries”, Steven Adler “My Appetite For Destruction: Sex, Drugs and Guns N Roses” (80s rock excess both, got Duff McKagans book next). Howard Mark’s “Senor Nice” (he hails down the road from me, so a local connection), iWoz – Steve Wozniak, Keith Richards “Life”, Frankie Boyles “My Shit Life So Far” (unfinished, I’m finding him has hardcore in his autobiography as he is on stage), and Kevin Mitnick’s “Ghost In The Wires” (currently reading) as well as   “We Are Anonymous” about Lulzsec, Anonymous and the rest – more a kind of sensationalist look at some hacker types and the whole 4chan bunch.

Really, really, like Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series, plus his Frankenstein books. Top quality.

Currently starting the Harry Bosch novels. I like long series. They make it easy to find the thing to read 🙂

… and to make things easier, I read them on Android Tablet these days too…

 

Films

 

Rec 2 and Rec 3 – the spanish “found footage” series, which I enjoyed. I saw the Rec 3 had some mixed reviews, but ignore them.

Seven Psychopaths – I saw this because of the “In Bruges” link but it’s nowhere near as good. Nice to see Christopher Walken can still go through the motions though.

Argo – I enjoyed this but I’m not sure it deserves all the awards recognition it’s getting. The whole CIA-make-a-scifi-movie is really secondary to main story.

John Dies At The End – this has cult hit written all over it, cult director, cult book. It’s pretty good too.

Rock of Ages – Call me naive but I didn’t realize it was a musical. Still enjoyed it though.

The Cabin In The Woods – just watch it. One of the best “genre” films I’ve seen recently.

 

That’ll do for now. Just getting a first post out the way so it isn’t all 2 years old here!

 

 

Hi … Again :-)

Been a long time folks, almost a year? Yet I still payed the hosting and the domains, convincing myself I’ll be back sometime.

Well here I am, for now. And a lot can change in a year.

My first step is to upgrade this blog, if it’s even possible (wow, WP is at 3.1.3? lol). Then I guess I’ll just keep posting whatever I find interesting.

I’d also like to fix the annoying index.php links problem. Since this blog is actually hosted by sharing the same account as my NetpreneurNow.com blog, I’ve had a lot of problems with setting up WordPress’s “auto-magic-friendly” links. Perhaps the update will help. We’ll see.

I’ve also been a little worried about hackers – either entering via this blog, or by any other site hosted on this account. That means an unenviable look into all the logs 🙁

Anyway, for the future, I’d like to add some tutorials on Linux, on Privacy, Encryption, Android Apps and Phones, and much more. For example, look at the latest Ubuntu – it’s a pretty thing with a new look. And privacy is more and more important in this world where the government would like nothing more than an Internet it had full control of. It goes far beyond the two-tier (or multi-tier) net idea… So – look for tutorials on PGP/GPG (super-safe encryption, and how to use it easily and almost automatically). Safe e-mail accounts, how to browse safely without leaving tracks (far more then just running in “incognito” mode!) or even having your entire OS – Windows/Linux/Whatever on a USB stick or even a SD card, and boot instantly into an encrypted, protected, web-capable environment…

That’s after I learn how to lock down my own sites of course!

Feel free to add comments. It’s all that keeps the lonely blogger going, and the original key themes of this blog – SciFi  and Fantasy (and by extension horror etc) movies and books – as well as interesting sites, images and more, will continue.

Update to WP 3 about to start… if you see another post after this, you know it worked!

Whatever your reason, thanks for the visit, and pop along again some time. Seeya!

PS: I’ll be researching myself, but any wordpress experts out there… that plea for help on securing the blog, fixing the index.php magic-link (if it remains), and general tips and tricks are welcome. Feel free to plug your own articles or sites if they cover this. As always, I can be contacted via the links over there –>

Taken

One word: Breathless !

This is an action tour de force, with Liam Neeson as a one man army out to find his daughter. Expect amazing action and stunts and over-the-top fight scenes all the way.

Don’t worry about the implausibility of it. It’s part written by Luc Besson, so if you’re familiar with his other work you’ll know what to expect.

Neeson an ex-government man who’s retired to be nearer his estranged daughter. He allows her to travel to paris with a friend, then one thing leads to another and she’s kidnapped by Albanian sex slavers. Cue Neeson hunting her down and taking on everyone single handed.

This shows Neeson as an action star, similiar in a way to Bourne or perhaps the Daniel Craig Bond reboot. It’s non stop, adrenalin fuelled, hard core action. You’ll feel every punch and no-one is spared. The bad guys are distatesful sex slavers – soon killed in droves with impunity – and even tortured. Needless to say, not for minors 🙂

If you like action – you’ll love this!

Verdict: 9 / 10 – Neeson takes no prisoners and pulls no punches…

IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes

Hi!

Welcome to the Blog.

Essjayar.com (originally .co.uk) is one of my first sites, created way back when I was learning basic HTML and had access to the web (via dialup).

Originally it held details of my motorbikes, some information on the then new Napster and it’s alternatives (at the start of the filesharing `boom`), and lots of information on making money via the web.

Since then my online process became focused on this latter area, and it’s evolved into my main site Netpreneur Now.

Now Essjayar.Com is wordpress-based. I’m becoming a big fan of this powerful, easy to learn, and simple to use platform.

This blog will be more about my other interests, mainly reviews and links of my favourite books, movies, games and websites. It’s somewhere to record my thoughts.

Add me to your bookmarks and feed reader. Once the content starts flowing, this will be an interesting place to visit.

See you soon!

P.S. The original, messy, HTML based site is still up there – you can hit the homepage here