Feb 14 2012

It's always worse that way

I was testing YouTube's experimental iframe API that should allow HTML5 embedding, with the video I took of a recent Libary Voices concert here in Edmonton. It turned out like this:

Maybe you can spot the problem. Certainly you can if you're checking from a mobile browser, or one that doesn't support flash; yup, it forces it to flash anyways. So what's going on here?

Well, I figured it out thanks to http://www.youtube.com/my_videos_copyright, which informs me that

Your video, Library Voices - Oh Yoko! (John Lennon cover) live in Edmonton, 2012-01-21 , may include content that is owned or administered by this entity:
Entity: Music Publishing Rights Collecting Society Content Type: Musical Composition

which would be fair enough, if that was it. Now, the existence of musical rights collection societies is problematic philosphically, especially considering how they've traditionally functioned in forcing nearly all artists in jurisdictions to sign rights over, which both allow them to collect royalties even on uses where the artists would want to freely allow the use, yet on the other hand stops artists from preventing use in cases where they object. As someone who tends to believe our copyright laws in North America should probably err more on the side of protecting freedoms, that means the rights organizations are actually a mixed bag (although with their often predatory and reactionary practices and viewpoints, the sum is generally negative). Meanwhile if you look at it from an artist perspective, that essentially mandatory (at least, with the old Label system) loss of rights is worrisome. That's all somewhat abstract and argumentative, though; legally, whatever rights collecting society claimed the video I posted is completely within the law to insist on rights to the video, assuming they do indeed own the rights to Lennon's "Oh Yoko!" as the claim implies.

You can tell, of course, that there's a "but" coming, and that "but" is this: but it breaks the video. You see, in order to make money on it, the system in use by YouTube uses Flash to display an advertisement. Sure, well within their rights, and as a stipulation of allowing me to nonetheless post the video that's probably the best I could hope for, since under our current laws and social acceptance they hold the legal power in this situation. But by forcing it to use Flash, it makes it impossible for most modern smartphones to play the video. Now, this is likely a bug, especially considering that it loads just fine from the mobile YouTube site, but I want to embed it on my site and allow all modern browsers (especially mobile ones) to play it, so what am I to do? I suppose I have to just encode it myself and offer it without advertisements:

Now, the legality of this becomes perhaps more questionable. Obviously, to some degree I have the rights to the video, in that I took it; meanwhile, the band themselves are performing, and others own the rights to the composition itself, so we actually have three different groups of rights holders in the equation. Now, what state the rights to this particular song are at in Canada (where this file is being hosted) I don't know, and honestly, at this stage I'm tired of random roadblocks being set up in front of me. I'm just going to host the files, and if anyone holding the rights feels like the video should be taken down, they can feel free to contact me with proof of their ownership and I'll be happy to do so. In the meantime, I still don't even know what organization is, shall we say, "stealing" my ability to embed the video I took away from me. This is a reminder that the reason people "pirate" content from these giant rightsholders isn't because people aren't willing to comply with the law. Rather, it's because the rightsholders can't manage to make compliance anything better than Kafkaesque.

Nov 14 2011

Exploring known but new places

Over on Facebook, a friend posted a link to a video sourced from International Space Station astronauts but with some minimalist electronica music underneath it. The music really didn't fit, so I took the shortest amount of time possible to replace it. The music used is "Tomorrow Untrodden" from Benn Jordan aka The Flashbulb's 2010 album Arboreal. There's also a teaser up on YouTube for his next album ("Opus at the End of Everything") which I won't embed here because it doesn't seem possible to embed YouTube videos without the scary possibility of adding Flash to this page.

Sept 13 2011

You learn something new every day

While engaged in a friendly debate with someone I don't know (oh, the internet!) things eventually spiralled into general agreement, and then an interesting anecdote:

Emil Hyde Heh... on a totally tangential note, my dad once worked for a video game company that produced a STAR TREK game. For a while they were running all their story ideas past Gene Roddenberry for approval because, hey, he's Gene Roddenberry, right? But then when the Paramount executives saw the initial prototype of the game they were like "What the Hell - you can't allow the player fly into the neutral zone and start an all-out war with the Romulans!" to which the development team replied "But Gene thought it was a cool idea." to which the Paramount execs responded "Well, Gene doesn't own the STAR TREK brand."

Aug 22 2011

Random content to fill a new site.

So, I have a real website now. Hmm. So what to do with it? Hmm. Well, I'll be putting up some actually useful and/or meaningful bits later, but I need some kind of placeholder for now. So, here's an anecdote from my life, as told by me to make a point( in response to a comment over at io9).

...evolution couldn't work like that? Intelligent Design couldn't, perhaps, but trust me, evolution is far from a straight course.

Here's a real-world example of something very, very akin to that downside. I have an AWESOME set of traits for running; I'm tall, I find it nearly impossible to put on weight, and my lungs are huge for how skinny I am. Sounds pretty pro of evolution, eh? Well, not so fast.

You see, very often people have little growths on their lungs, the medical term hilariously being "blebs". It's kindof like the lung's version of a mole, doesn't tend to matter, 99% of people who have them will go through life and it'll never, ever matter. But say that evolution has led to a set of genes that enhance relative lung size. Now you have something stretching the blebs . . . uh oh. And thus why I woke up one night a couple of years ago to find it incredibly painful and difficult to breathe: my left lung had spontaneously burst, filling my chest cavity with air. Not cool evolution, not cool.

Long story short, I now have titanium staples making sure that lung stays together, and I'm back to racing nearby trains. In fact, it's actually quite common for males between about 16 and 30 years old to suffer a spontaneous pneumothorax (ie. collapsed lung) for precisely this reason. And if you think about it, it's no surprise that a mutation like mine would come about; it'd be a hell of an advantage in nature.

"But wait," you say, "why the hell would it be common if, in nature, it'd also likely have killed you?" Well, that's quite simple: evolution doesn't give a fuck. (Sidenote: that should be a slogan, or at least a t-shirt.) Or actually, that's all evolution gives anything about, so to speak. Conferring a big advantage for long enough that each individual reproduces is all it takes for a mutation to prosper. So for uncountable millennia my ancestors won the hearts of fair cave-maidens and/or got the fuck away from bears or tigers or whatever (at least, faster than their less lanky and big-lunged compatriots . . . "Poor Grogg, but I didn't have to outrun that Lion, I just had to outrun him"), and so in the proud tradition of evolution passed on their genes before suddenly dropping dead from unseen chest wounds. ("I bet it was those Neanderthal blokes the next cave over sending evil spirits our way! They're into that spirituality stuff, and they were probably jealous of Umm-Rann's tall lankyness; lets go beat them up, there's more of us than there are of them!")

So you see, there's perfect precedent for evolution conferring advantages that are gonna kill ya in the long term. I'm not going to even remotely claim that this is the rationale behind Alphas, but that's one of the *least* hilariously unscientific parts about the premise. But they aren't even really trying to be scientific; this is SyFy, not sci-fi. (That should also be a t-shirt.)

So, there you have it.

So you want to get in touch with Keith? There are a few ways:

Feel free to email me at my email address. Which is . . . err . . . well, I don't get much spam yet, so forgive me if I'm coy; it's the same as this website, though, except rather than .ca it's @gmail.com.

Speaking of Google, I've jumped on the Google+ bandwagon, and you can find me there.

You can also call me; might as well give out my landline, since as a listed number the telemarketers are about as thick as can be already, so it's 780-439-8949.

As long as we're getting more and more oldschool, howabout mail? I'm at
6704 110th Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T6H 3E7