Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Fiddling with the gutter

by Suw on September 10, 2003

Just been fiddling with the blog gutter – now you can search through my entries for, well, whatever you fancy. Can't guarantee you'll find much though.

Also, you can browse my posts by category (although most of the earliest posts haven't been categorised at all), and more easily access the archives. I've tried to amalgamate some of my bookmark categories too, just to keep things as simple as possible. I had been trying to keep my gutter under control and not too long, but, well, never mind, I give up now.

Oh, and in case any of you have been wondering what that 'mailing list' option is – if you want an email to let you know when I've updated, then just shove your address in that wee box and hit the button with the arrows (not the one with the question mark). Handy for any of you that don't have time to check back randomly and don't use an aggregator.

I was going to look at the colour scheme, but I think I'll leave that for another day.

Right… back to the job hunting.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Job seeker?s update

by Suw on September 10, 2003

I have spent almost all of today in the hunt for a new job. I’ve located a bunch of recruitment agencies in the Manchester area and started to phone them up and send them my CV. So far, I’ve located 14 agencies, and spoken/emailed CVs to eight of them. The rest I’ll do tomorrow.

Previous shows that the only way to get agents to find you a job is to hassle them continually and eventually they’ll place you, just to get you off their back. Course, to do this you need a name and a telephone number, which is why I really don’t like the agencies that won’t give you that kind of information on their web site. It’s like they’re trying to hide from the people that earn them their living.

Anyway, no job as yet, but at least I’m actually *doing* something, instead of sitting around thinking about doing something.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Q: How stupid is the RIAA? A: Very.

by Suw on September 10, 2003

I don’t know how many times I can say that I believe music file swapping will ultimately be good for the music industry and that I think the industry has its collective head shoved so far up its own arse that its eyes are brown before I start to bore myself. But when I read that the RIAA is suing 261 people over file swapping, and that these ?offenders? include a 12 year old girl and a 71 year old man, I wonder just how far up their own arse their head can get. Colon maybe? Small intestine?

I commented about this very issue on Joho The Blog a while back and as I haven’t changed my mind since then, I’m just gonna copy and paste what I wrote there, with minor edits for typos.

I've just had this exactly discussion [about file sharing] over on Thing that annoys me is that you get all these trite responses, such as “Downloading is stealing. Stealing is wrong” or “Downloading is destroying the music industry” or “How would you like it if it was your intellectual property being stolen?”

Most people seem to miss the point that the most important aspect of this is sales. Those who equate every download with a missed sale are making a huge assumption with very little evidence.

People will download a song or album to see if something they've heard about, but not heard, is any good. They almost certainly (especially in the UK where prices are so high) wouldn't take that risk with real money. So no lost sale there, because there never was a sale there to be lost.

If they like what they hear, there is the chance that they may buy the real thing – nothing beats ownership, after all. So what's that? A gained sale that might not otherwise have come to pass.

Of course sometimes people, in particular skint people and students, will download without buying, but these people would have been taping off the radio or copying their mates' CDs anyway. So I'm not sure that they are a large source of lost sales either.

Thing is, with the music press in the sorry state that it's been in at least since I stopped writing for the Maker, :-), p2p file sharing is a great opportunity for the industry to communicate with buyers using the one thing that buyers are really very interested in. The music itself.

Most of the new albums I buy now come from recommendations from friends, or music I hear on the radio. I haven't bothered with the music press for years, because most music journalists can barely string a sentence together, let alone recognise decent music when it bites their arses. Instead, someone will mention and artist or band, I'll go download a few tracks or the album, and if I like it I'll buy it. This way I've discovered gems like The Shins, Jeff Hanson and Tom McRae, none of whom I would have discovered any other way.

Indeed, it appears that the idea that downloading could be *good* for an ailing industry is being born out. The Guardian recently reported that album sales are up 3% on last year. This minor fact appears to be deliberately ignored by the naysayers.

If the music industry could only embrace the downloading culture, without ripping us off, I think that in the long term they'd be better off for it.

Of course, I'm not sure that they can resist trying to squeeze every single penny they can from us. Muse recently put a single from their forthcoming album, Absolution, up for download. It cost ?1.50 which, for one track, was a little bit pricey. I bought and downloaded it anyway, just to support the concept and because Muse are one of my favourite bands.

But if the industry is going to charge us that much for a single song, or limit the number of plays, then the whole thing's going to fall flat on its face. People aren't used to having their actions restricted when it comes to the number of times and manner in which they can enjoy music that they have purchased and they won't take kindly to the licensing business model.

Digital Rights Management appears to be less about protecting the rights of the artist (read: the rights owner, usually not the artist) and more about restricting the rights of the consumer and wringing every last possible penny from them. Consumers won't wear that.

Finally, downloading is not the only problem that the music industry has. Again, this seems to be soundly ignored by the doom-mongers who prefer to blame p2p for every last problem. I'm not going to go into the causes and cures of the industry's ills, because I think I've ranted long enough already.

P2p is just a scapegoat, in my opinion. But it remains to be seen if there's anyone with the intelligence and nerve to embrace it and make it work for the industry, instead of against it.

I think it’s a real shame that bean-counters of the worst kind are dominating the music industry these days, and that they are so concerned with short term profit that they can’t see that there might just be a way to improve the long term health of the industry.

This idea that *every* download is a lost sale is ludicrous. And the idea that damages of between “$750 and $150,000 for each song” should be claimed from some 12 year old is just gobsmackingly stupid.

Sadly, I think the music industry (and the movie industry too, as it makes noises about moving in the same direction) is going to have shit-coloured eyes for a long time.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

SP2 is a slippery little bugger

by Suw on September 10, 2003

SP1 was a fairly easy thing to write. It all just kinda tumbled out into a first draft that I was happy with, although I knew it still needed work. SP2 is not being so accommodating. Yesterday and today I've been suffering from an attack of the isitcrap’s. It's one of those moods where you just have to write through it, just put your head down and get on with it, because if you listen to that little voice that's telling you that what you're doing is shite, you'll give up and never go back to it. So you have to plough on regardless and hope that you'll come out the other side soon.

Part of me is toying with the idea of sending it to maybe a sympathetic friend or two for opinions, but then, I don't really want to get into rewriting what I have yet, and I know there are holes that need filling and dialogue that's a bit iffy, so I'd really only be sending it to them in the hope that they'll say 'Yes, this is worth carrying on with', and deep down, I believe that already. So what would be the point, apart from trying to subtly (ok, not so subtly now I've discussed it here!) coerce them into buoying up my ego with pretty words.

I suppose this one's more difficult because it's not so much about action and adventure, as SP1 was, but more about people and emotion. It's much more character-driven, and that means it's much harder work. I can't just chuck in a sword-fight every time I get a bit lost for something to say. I know exactly what I'm trying to achieve with it, what the themes are, how the characters must develop, what they must go through. But I'm just not so sure how to translate that well onto the page.

I'm a little worried that there's too much exposition, that the dialogue is 'on the nose' dialogue (i.e. unnatural and explains way too much). I'm also a little worried that the lead character is actually turning into a bit of an annoying git.

But, because I'm me and because I'm a stubborn old cow really (and you thought I was just persistent…), I will continue with this, and I'm sure that in due course it will all come out ok. But the birthing pains for SP2 are a wake-up call. I may be up to page 40, but not one of them has been easy to write.

Maybe I should stick to action/adventure.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }