Online Insights on fiveAA, Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Clean Feed
Australia’s federal Labour government, championed through Senator Stephen Conroy, is hellbent on one of the most stupid, cynical exercises known to humankind. Under that vote-winning and indisputable catchcry of “stamping out child pornography” (which every sane human would support), Conroy and his cronies are marching ahead with plans to force mandatory filtering of Australia’s internet feed. In the short term, this will choke the speed of internet connections in Australia, it will still let through some material meant to be banned, and it will block material that does not need to be banned. In the long term it means governments will have all the tools they need to stamp out voices of dissent. Thankfully, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, speaks Mandarin, because it means that in fluent dialect, he will be able to swap notes with his Chinese counterparts on how the censorship of Australia’s internet compares to China’s censorship of its. Machiavelli and Goebbels would be very proud of the way Conroy’s cronies are exploiting the child pornography hot button to set up the systems for later governments to take censorship further to block anything deemed “offensive”. Yes, they have missed 1984 by a couple of decades, but they are about to catch up with aplomb.

Please visit the No Clean Feed website – http://nocleanfeed.com/action.html – to get contact details for Stephen Conroy to let him know you are not happy. The website has been created by Electronic Frontiers Australia. The EFA has found that recent tests of six filtering systems by ACMA achieved:

  • One filter caused a 22% drop in speed even when it was *not* performing filtering;
  • Only one of the six filters had an acceptable level of performance (a drop of 2% in a laboratory trial), the others causing drops in speed of between 21% and 86%;
  • The most accurate filters were often the slowest;
  • All filters tested had problems with under-blocking, allowing access to between 2% and 13% of material that they should have blocked; and
  • All filters tested had serious problems with over-blocking, wrongly blocking access to between 1.3% and 7.8% of the websites tested.

Despite this report highlighting the inaccuracy of these filters and the loss of performance caused by their use, Senator Conroy announced the government will press ahead with a real-world pilot program in furtherance of Labor’s pre-election commitment to force all Australian ISP’s to filter their customers’ Internet access.

This whole development is made doubly disappointing by the fact that the Rudd government happily used social media channels like MySpace to garner public support to get into government, and now that they are in, they are going to sabotage the social side of the net (remember, everything is going to get caught up in this deceitful move) to ensure nobody else can do what they did with the same ease and freedom of speech!

To borrow from a catchcry once used by the Liberal party against the great Labour stalwart, Gough Whitlam, “Shame Conroy, Shame!”

Television Themes and Intros
On the Box Office Mojo website, there has been a competition running to vote for the best television theme song or opening sequence of all time. Admittedly, this is not a conclusive contest but it is a good excuse to relive some memories. The bonus is that the show names in the list of tv shows are all hyperlinks across to each show’s opening sequence on YouTube. (Some have been removed but most I looked at were there). So, forgetting the competition, use this as an excuse for reminiscing with show openings for:

  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • The Addams Family
  • Twilight Zone
  • The Beverly Hillbillies
  • The Flintstones
  • Happy Days
  • M*A*S*H
  • Hawaii Five-O
  • The Sopranos
  • Gilligan’s Island
  • Green Acres
  • The Brady Bunch
  • Popeye
  • WKRP in Cincinnati

The full list is at Box Office Mojo.

How do different wines taste?
Carl Tashian has created a novel website as part of doing a course, Visualising the Five Senses, at NYU. This website gives you the flavours of wines as a visual representation. Through it, we get to see which flavours are most dominant in the major wine varieties. I can imagine this tool will help people who want some help figuring out the wine styles they are most likely to enjoy.

What Carl has done is collectdescriptive flavour words from over 5,000 published wine tasting notes written between 1995-2000 in a major Australian wine magazine. This makes this tool especially useful for Australian wine lovers because it means taste references aren’t skewed towards Zinfandel!

There are terms like oak, sweet, berry, rich, acid, tannin, strawberry, cherry, plum, spicy, citrus, chocolate, rockmelon, etc, all spread evenly around a circle. Then you can work down a list of wine styles and see which elements are more common in each style – the more dominant, the thicker the line that arches to the element in question.

The catch all findings for “all reds” show oak, tannin and berry as the dominant features, while for whites  we see oak, acid, complex and rich.

To compare reds, shiraz is more oak, pepper, berry and sweet, while cabernet sauvignon is oak, tannin, berry, and rich.

To compare whites, chardonnay features peach, melon and butter, while sauvignon blanc features acid, herb and crisp.

It makes for some fascinating reading, all the better while sipping at the same time! You can find the graph at http://tashian.com/wine-flavors/.

Print What You Like
I met a guy, Richard Pascoe, at an event recently and he told me about a helpful site that helps make printing web pages easier and more environmentally friendly. It is called, Print What You Like.

The website says it will:

  • Format any web page for printing in seconds – no more pasting into Word
  • Save money and the environment by reducing your paper and ink usage
  • Make printed web pages more readable by removing ads, widgets and other distractions
  • Fix broken pages that don’t print correctly

I have had a little play with it and believe that once you get used to it, it will become a very handy tool to have around. I think it is worth bookmarking printwhatyoulike.com for further reference.

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