Why owning stuff is still important

Let’s start with a few questions: Do you own your home or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why? Do you own your car or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why? Do you own your TV or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why? Do you own your computer or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why? If you’re like me, you answered the same for most or all of those questions. I own all of the above and rent none of it. I prefer owning all of the above. Why? Three Cs: Continuity. If I own my home, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be able to go on living in it as long as I like. There are exceptions (wars, natural disasters, etc.), but ownership is generally much safer than renting if it’s important to retain access in the long term. This is because it removes the significant possibility that the owner may eventually terminate the agreement for reasons of their own, or make the relationship financially impractical. Control. If I rent my home, for example, there are strict limits on what I can do with it. I can’t just install an air conditioner if the place gets too hot in summer. The owners or their representatives can come calling to make sure I’m looking after it as they desire. If I want to keep pets or smoke in the property, my options are severely limited. Cost. There’s a reason people invest in property to rent out to others, or run profitable multinational businesses hiring out cars. It makes sense to be on the side of the relationship that’s taking the money rather than the one that’s paying it out. In other words, it usually makes…

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Poll of evil

I have closed the Which of these is most evil? poll, which had been running from 20 February 2009. It attracted 2,351 voters, each of whom could distribute up to three votes among thirteen (yes, that number was deliberate) candidates. Here are the ranked results: Satan (36%, 846 Votes) Microsoft (31%, 721 Votes) Apple (26%, 614 Votes) RIAA/IFPI/MPAA (26%, 601 Votes) Miley Cyrus (23%, 546 Votes) Autodesk (23%, 536 Votes) Disney (16%, 382 Votes) Google (10%, 230 Votes) Dell (7%, 172 Votes) The Pirate Bay (6%, 147 Votes) Sony (6%, 140 Votes) Steve Johnson (4%, 89 Votes) Gaahl (3%, 82 Votes) That top three is not going to shock anyone (except perhaps some fanbois), but are some surprises in the list. For example, more than a quarter of voters were aware enough of the evils of Big Content to be able to decipher the alphabet soup RIAA/IFPI/MPAA choice and select it. More than four times as many people think this litigious pack of demons is voteworthy than think the same about arch enemies The Pirate Bay. That’s not so shocking for those of us with our fingers on the pulse of popular opinion, but I was surprised to see so few people choose Big Content arch-villain Sony. Rootkit, anyone? For Autodesk, this poll is something of a triumph, with less than a quarter of voters putting the company in the top three. Mind you, Autodesk was faced with some very stiff competition, being very narrowly edged out of fifth place by Miley Cyrus. Only one in ten of you thought Google was worthy of selection. This is Google, a company that knows more about you than you do. Google, which passes out your information whenever it feels it might gain some strategic advantage from doing so, and really doesn’t care when it violates your privacy.…

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We have a winner

Congratulations to Brian Benton from CAD-a-Blog. His alternative name for AutoCAD 2011, R.E.A.L. (Real Expensive AutoCAD License) was clearly the most popular among those who voted in the pin the name on the product competition. Brian is now the proud (or otherwise) owner of a virtual album, uniVers by Voyager: I’m not sure what Brian will make of the opening moments of the album, where accordion music leads into part-grunty vocals. Maybe it would be best to start with track 8, Falling, instead.

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Pin the name on the product and win a prize!

This post is announcing a real competition with a real prize (well, nearly real). The prize will be the album uniVers by my favourite Australian band, Voyager. This will be provided to the winner in the form of a virtual download card which will be emailed to the winner, providing legal access to 320 kbps mp3 files of all the album tracks. In my previous post, I stated that Autodesk’s 25 March product launch is for AutoCAD 2011 (and other products that I’m not that interested in). I just want to make it clear that that’s a guess and not based on inside information. It’s actually speculation on two levels; first, that the “general design” mentioned in the link means AutoCAD, and second, that the next AutoCAD is going to be called AutoCAD 2011. OK, maybe that looks like a pretty safe bet. After all, the last few Autodesk general design flagship products have been called AutoCAD 2004, AutoCAD 2005, AutoCAD 2006, AutoCAD 2007 (anybody notice a pattern yet?), AutoCAD 2008, AutoCAD 2009 and AutoCAD 2010. But maybe not! Maybe Autodesk is going to surprise everybody and call the next general design product something else altogether? I was certainly surprised when Version 2.6 was replaced by Release 9, and when Release 14 was replaced by AutoCAD 2000, so history has proven that the unpredictable can definitely happen as far as Autodesk general design product names go. That’s the basis for this competition. I want you to come up with a name for the next Autodesk general design product. I will determine the winner by choosing the name I like best. If I can’t decide, I will run a poll. Points will be added for being amusing and deducted for accuracy, so entering “AutoCAD 2011” is unlikely to be a winning…

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Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures Week 10, and Peter Beste

Time for my own bad Photoshop. Truly, truly awful work here. This is the tenth and last (so far) edition of Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures. Click the thumbnail to see the full size image. This one contains a few in-jokes (e.g. “many Norwegian countries”) from the Mike Portnoy forum community that was the original audience, so much of the original amusement will be lost. I am posting this one mainly to complete the set. The original Gaahl photograph is by Houston documentary photographer Peter Beste, who has this to say on his site: In the last two decades a bizarre and violent musical subculture called black metal has emerged in Norway. It’s roots stem from a heady blend of horror films, extreme heavy metal music, Satanism, pagan mythology, and adolescent angst. In the early-mid 1990’s, members of this extremist underground committed murder, burned down medieval wooden churches, and desecrated graveyards. What started as a juvenile frenzy came to symbolize the start of a war against Christianity, a return to the worship of the ancient Norse gods, and the complete rejection of mainstream society. I have spent the last 7 years photographing in this insulated and secretive community. I am pleased to report that Peter has no objection to his original photograph being (ab)used in this way. If you’re intrigued or amused by these black metal guys, check out his site for more images. There is even a book called True Norwegian Black Metal, available (of course) in a limited edition of 666 copies. Peter has taken photographs of other subjects, including similarly confronting ones of Houston rap culture (some include nudity), with a book due to follow on that subject later this year.

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Video – Deciphered lyrics

Here’s another video I have done to the music of Swedish metal band Opeth (the first one is here). This band’s latest album, Watershed, does not come with conventional lyrics in the booklet, but rather a page full of rune-type characters. There are actually two different pages in different editions of the album, and in order to work out the lyrics you need to rotate the pages, work out a substitution cipher and combine the two sources. To save you the trouble of doing all that, here are the lyrics of Heir Apparent. This is the only song on the album that contains only angry Cookie Monster vocals (beware!), so without my expert deciphering efforts (ahem!) it would be rather difficult for the uninitiated to know what the song was all about. If you can put up with the vocals, I think you’ll enjoy this! YouTube link.

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Video – Misheard lyrics

This blog is supposed to a strange mix of AutoCAD, music, image manipulation and video, but so far it has been a bit light on in the latter three categories. This post will redress the balance a little. This is a silly video I made based on the song Ghost of Perdition from the album Ghost Reveries by Swedish metal band Opeth. I’m sure the music won’t be to the liking of many of you, particularly as the vocals are partly in the “death grunt” style. If you’ve never heard a death grunt, just try to imagine Cookie Monster singing while he’s really, really angry about something. For the record, I prefer my vocals “clean” but this style is easy to mishear, leading to general amusement (hopefully). Parental guidance: contains very mild nudity, very slightly offensive language and an oblique drug reference. You’ll have to be quick to spot them, though. I consider this safe to show to kids (as long as you think the vocals won’t give them nightmares), but some of you may not agree. YouTube link.

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Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures Week 5

In this week’s adventure, Gaahl goes shopping. No, it’s not your eyes, the background image is fuzzy. A couple of things may need explaining. According to his mother, Gaahl is vegetarian (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Also, Gorgoroth was his band. They have now split up and ownership of the name is in dispute. Maybe the other band members objected to what he brought back from the supermarket? After all, he eats absolutely no innards. The original Gaahl photograph is by Peter Beste.

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Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures – Week 1

I like many forms of metal music, but I’m afraid the black metal sub-genre does nothing for me musically, particularly as far as the vocals are concerned. The Satanic themes aren’t my scene either. Black metallers in most cases really are Satanists, unlike most metal musicians who are mistakenly thought of as Satanic by some fairly clueless individuals but who are nothing of the sort. Where black metal does score points for me is on the costume front. These guys put a lot of effort into trying to look more evil than each other, and the results are frequently hilarious. Do a Google image search if you dare, but don’t have your mouth full when you do or you may need a new keyboard. Some images may be considered offensive. One of the big names in black metal is Gaahl, formerly of the band Gorgoroth. Like many black metal bands, Gorgoroth is from Norway. The antics of the various band members, particularly Gaahl, make for interesting reading (some language may be considered offensive). A while ago I did a series of comic book covers based on one particular Gaahl publicity shot, and I thought some of you might be amused (or more likely bemused) by them. Here is the photo in question: Unfortunately, I have lost the source so I can’t give copyright credit for this image. If the copyright holder wishes to contact me, I’ll be happy to correct this situation. Edit: The Gaahl photograph is by Peter Beste. Without further ado, here is the first week’s edition of Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures. Click the thumbnail to see the full size image.

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Music – Top 3 Debut Albums. Number 3: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin

For this review of my third favourite debut album of all time, I dusted off the trusty old turntable so I could hear it as it was originally heard. It seems that certain stock phrases must be included in all Led Zeppelin reviews. So before we go any further, here they are: primal scream, origins of heavy metal, The New Yardbirds, Keith Moon, supergroup, plagiarism. I must declare a personal interest here. My late father knew John Bonham’s father. Dad once told me about “snotty-nosed little Johnny” running around in shorts in his dad’s garden. The man who would become the model for generations of rock drummers, the man whose sampled snare you will find on countless modern recordings, was born in the same town as myself and lived a couple of miles from where I spent my childhood. On the day of his funeral, I kept looking out of my high school’s windows to try to catch a glimpse of the funeral procession, but I never did. His grave lies about four miles north of my old home. Robert Plant is another local boy made good. I remember as a teenager listening to this album while being driven by my brother in a Mini van at silly speeds in the dark along narrow English country lanes through that very area, and being impressed by the raw emotional power of the music and lyrics. Enough navel gazing, on with the review. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin Amazon link (see disclosure) Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut album was recorded in 1968 and released in early 1969. It shows a variety of different influences including folk, psychedelia and even world music, but is primarily a blues-rock album. To say that it was a hugely successful and influential album would be understating the obvious,…

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Music – Best Debut Albums?

With all this AutoCAD 2009 stuff, I haven’t given much attention to some of the other things this blog is supposed to be about, such as music. I will rectify that soon with posts about my three favourite debut albums of all time. In the meantime, have a think about this: if you could only have three debut albums in your collection (or on your iPod, or whatever), what would they be? I’m sure if I asked 1000 people I would have a list of nearly 3000 different albums. My set of three has one album that stands a good chance of being on a few people’s lists because it’s from a band that was huge in the 70s, one that stands a marginal chance because the band had a UK number one album in the 80s, and one band that is very current but which very few of you will have heard of. Feel free to state your own top three, or speculate on mine. 🙂

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