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Anker Vertical Mouse

October 17, 2014, 06:02:44 PM by kat
Had one of these arrive in the post today (shown right), an Anker Vertical Mouse (wired version). Its a curious device and looks bigger than it actually is (its about the same size as a full-sized mouse tilted 45 degrees). The idea is that it positions then hand in a more vertical position to relieve some or all of the rotational stresses placed on the hand/wrist/arm often associated with traditional mice that can lead to some experiencing all sorts of muscular/physiological issues (carpel-tunnel being a particularly nasty one). Although yours-truly doesn't suffer any such issues anything that helps reduce the potential for problems in the long term is a good idea to investigate.

Anywho... the mouse is essentially shaped like a wedge of cheese ("I do like a lovely bit of Wensleydale Gromit") so it's pointy towards the front and wider at the back (basically to encourage the hand into a more natural and relaxed position when used). Although it has six buttons, the standard left, middle and right plus three extras, the extras don't do anything outside of a web browser (according to the product page). And as the device is seen by Windows as a standard "HID-compliant mouse" it doesn't appear the buttons are customisable. Aside from that, the upper body has a rubberised anti-slip coating which lends it a nice 'soft-touch' feel, which for general computer use, works well.

A Vertical Mouse for Blender?
For use specifically with Blender though these types of vertical mice can be a little problematic depending on their general design (not all of them are wedge shaped) because the downward (now sideways) force needed to click-hold one of the main mouse buttons tends to want the mouse to tip forward, an action that's compensated for pushing back with the thumb. This results in a 'lobster claw' that actually increases the amount of pressure exerted by the hand across the mouse which, over prolonged periods, can be just as problematic for some users as the pressures associated with using a normal mouse. The solution would be to better stabilise the front end by making the base wider and ensuring it extended under the buttons and to adjust the size of the middle-mouse button - some interpretations of the vertical mouse do in fact do both of these, sadly not the Anker.

Having said all of that though, it's still an interesting device for general computer use so for anyone looking for an alternative it may be worth picking up, especially for those wanting to relieve some of the stresses attributed to using standard mice (as an aside, being a USB 2 device it's possible to have more than one mouse attached to a computer so a standard mouse could be used for Blender, with an Anker or other vertical mouse for general work/use).

#StopGamerGate2014, #GamerGate

October 16, 2014, 04:01:50 PM by kat
It isn't without a dash of irony/hypocrisy that #StopGamerGate2014 is being used by those opposed to #GameGate, including the games press, and now main-stream media, to completely shut down (bully into submission) any discussion about the merits, concerns or ideas raised by the broader discussion.

And since when does some anonymous troll adding a particular hashtag to their vomitus spew equate to proof of anything? When did posting nonsence purporting to that become journalism?

This stuff is getting out of hand and has now made any discussion of deeper aspects of games impossible (especially where opposing views are expressed). Thanks #GamerGate, #StopGamerGate2014, #GamesPress and #MainStreamMedia et-al. Thanks a lot. For nothing.

Social Media & following your favourate sites

October 06, 2014, 08:20:02 PM by kat
Have you even wonder where such and such has gone? They used to post news all the time about the thing they were doing. You remember constantly seeing, and reading, and linking/liking/tweeting their posts. Right? Remember? So you go back to their website to find out what's going on only to find they have been posting, tonnes of stuff as it happens, over the time you thought they weren't. What's going on you ask.

It turns out the 'fault', if that word can be used here, is to do with the way Social Media Services like Facebook, Twitter et al, filter the stream. They reckon on our your not being able to filter the items you subscribe to yourself so they do it for you, automatically ignoring posts their algorithms don't calculate by "thousands of metrics" as being important ("relevant") to you; Facebook in particular is annoyingly aggressive in this, and it's why a lot of sites you 'Like' often seem to disappear from your feeds.

There are a number of concerns with this (aside from those of the Tin-Foil Hat variety), a couple of major ones being;
  • Someone else is telling you what they think is important to you (when they don't know you or your actual interests).
  • Authors post more often attempting to be picked up by these sorting/filter systems only to be removed as spam.
It's a Catch-22 for sure, one in which the only real winners seem to be Services providers - sure people don't need to use services like Facebook and Co., but the fact is they do, for good reason; being able to consolidate all their interests and related communications into one place (or as few places as possible compared to RSS subscribing to dozens if not hundreds of individual websites).

Aside from all the 'conspiracy theory's' one could ruminate over on this, the only solution for the moment seems to be to double-check your Social Media settings to make sure your streams and feeds are not being too aggressively filtered (if that option is even available), or to check back with the site you originally sub'd to, or Liked, or Twitted about to make sure they are indeed still alive as opposed to their apparent and grossly misrepresented deaths through absence.

This post is #666 on the "Most annoying things about the Internet" list  O.o

Women in IT (STEM)

June 18, 2014, 11:58:09 PM by kat
How is it possible there are now fewer girls interested in STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medical), and women employed or occupied in STEM fields, than ten or twenty years ago despite, it has to be said, Governments persistent intercession over that same time-frame with various educational programs and employment initiatives specifically designed to get girls in Schools studying STEM, and women in the workplace into STEM occupations.

This decline is partially acknowledged in a recent report from e-skills UK, "The Women in IT Scorecard", which presents stats and data to support the central premise that there are indeed lower numbers of girls studying STEM subjects, and women employed in STEM occupations generally, approximately one woman for every six men according to the report.

Whilst there are no arguments against the data at face value, the broader supposition and meaning somewhat misrepresents the problem because it presents the disparity between female and male students and employees in STEM, by implication rather than outright statement, as some sort of willful 'oppression'; that girls are being held back in School, or underemployed and underpaid in the work force through some unspoken patriarchal sentiment. In other words, girls in school, and women in the work place, the numbers indirectly imply, are being intentionally discouraged (despite all Government, NGO and non-profit efforts and programs, past and present for the very opposite); their being better, and "out-performing their males counterparts" when they are in STEM, is "exhibit 'A' your Honor".

The answer the report concludes is increased "intervention" from Government in addition to what is currently, and has been done, this last few decades. In other words, short of forcing, paying or otherwise rewarding, girls to study STEM or seek employment in STEM fields, just how does one go about encouraging someone to do something they may not have an inclination to do, irrespective of gender. Is it right (as in proper) to confer girls in school, and women in the workforce, with 'positive' inequality, i.e. promoting their advancement over that of male counterparts for the sake of numbers and statistics whilst ignoring inverse imbalances in fields traditionally held by women. Wouldn't it be better to simply encourage everyone to pursue STEM (or indeed whatever subject or area of interest takes their fancy) as is their wants and desires, and for employers to hire based on ability, skill and experience as they should already have been doing for the past 50+ years (notwithstanding laws against their not doing so).

But... for all this talk of even more Government involvement, wouldn't it be easier to simply ask girls themselves why they apparently don't want to study STEM subjects or pursue STEM careers rather that using statistics and charts to present weighted arguments that don't solve the problem, which might in fact fuel further division, driving the "gender" wedge deeper, and fomenting what might otherwise be wholly ungrounded resentments all round.

[hat-tip to Develop]

Content ID, Sintel, Sony & Plausible Deniability

April 07, 2014, 01:02:23 PM by kat
It's important to note that whilst the basic premise of Copyright, its infringement, and its remedy, is pretty straightforward, the way persons and party's behave with respect to that is not. It can, and often is, extremely messy, complicated and convoluted simply because involved parties want to mitigate their liabilities with respect to policing content and the respective responsibilities and obligations therein. Put plainly, no-one wants to be held liable for the actions of others, nor be seen to benefit from said actions as a result.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should NOT be construed as legal advice on Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights or DMCA. It is highly recommended legal Council be sought in matters of law.

With the above in mind, now the dust has settled on the Sintel issue we can turn our attentions to answering somewhat the "why's" and "wherefores" of YouTube being able to do what it does with apparent impunity; just how are they able to make what often turn out to be false or erroneous claims of infringement without compromising their own standing on Copyright?

By defining 'content' claims relative to "Terms of Service" infractions rather than "Copyright" infringements.

Lets be clear about this, the language contained in a typical Content ID Claim Notice is indicative of its purported purpose; it expressly questions whether the accused has the appropriate permissions to use flagged materials. That, simply put, is an issue of "Copy Right" - having the 'right' (license or permission) to 'copy' (exploit or use) someone else's property. No "if's", "but's" or "may be's".

Or so the reasonable thinking wo/man would think.

There's a Jedi mind-trick going on here you see because, whilst the aforementioned reasonable wo/man is thinking "that's a Copyright claim isn't it? And aren't Copyright holders, or their representatives, the only ones supposedly able can issue such claims?", YouTube, with feigned shock, is saying "you said the video was yours? You lied to us so we're taking it down". See the mind-trick? We think it's a Copyright Claim, and respond with tremendous levels of tumult, YouTube/Google see only Terms of Service violations and doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

So, the simple facts that 1) the Content ID system is in affect a de facto loophole around the obligations and responsibilities attributable to Copyright, and 2) that YouTube (ab)uses Terms of Service policy enforcement to prosecute Copyright, allows for Content ID claims to be phrased anyway YouTube see's fit, and call the process whatever it wants, just so long as neither aspects directly invokes Copyright and DMCA as commonly understood. In maintaining this faux posture, or continuing the mind-trick, it is not possible to hold them liable for losses incurred as a result of an action because, in their eyes, it has nothing to do with Copyright and everything to do with the Terms of Service Agreement users declare against when uploading videos.

If that wasn't bad enough, add "Errors & Omission Excepted" to the mix, and whatever accountability might have been left flies right out of the window; no-one can be held liable for anything, even if they were/are/could be, all because of an apparent disassociated and dispassionate machine-code error (a false-positive). And as everyone knows, machines harbor no grudges, malice or intent to cause harm so they cannot be held to account for their 'mistakes' either.

All-in-all this whole situation is possibly the best example of deliberately executed "plausible deniability" anyone, never mind YouTube/Google et al, could have asked for.

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