My green fetish

Ok, maybe the post’s title is not the most safe for work I ever wrote but the content definitely is not anything wrong. And if you’re wondering why this post will be shorter than usual and with more grammar errors, that’s because I’m again using the tablet to write and my thumbs haven’t gotten used to the letters’ disposition. Taking the so-called Smart Cover out makes it much nicer to write on, by the way. Even if I am using the Tucano Magico cover that keeps it attached to the back by itself.

In the past month I decided that it was time to get a subscription to Sky, the satellite TV provider, once again. I dropped it when I “took over” the house, but nowadays I just wish to be able to watch something before sleeping, and in English if at all possible, and they make it possible indeed. Besides the obvious series, there is something I love to watch and that is the National Geographic programme World’s Greenest Houses.

The reason why I love it, is that it shows mainly how it can be possible to actually have a cool house, with all accessories and trimmings, and yet being energy efficient. Indeed, that is something I wish I could do in my house as well. The obvious first problem of course is the money needed to do the work, and of course most of the houses they show were built since the start with green in mind, rather than adapted from a built, living house.

Okay, I maybe it also tickles that part of me that used to create new scenarios and buildings in his unofficial Ultima OnLine shard, which is likely the same one that likes to play with The Sims 3.

There is, unfortunately, something that airs from time to time in the same slots, with the same title, in Italian at least, but that shows a “challenge”. Said challenge is a more Big Brother alike programme, where two families take forced steps into what they define green living. While the target is indeed a greener life, I dislike this one with all my heart. For two main reasons: the first is that the whole point of going none to 100% is the kind of challenge that most people will look away from ever picking up; the second is that I think the authors are not into Green at all!

Indeed the one episode I tried to watch, I had to change channel disgusted right at the first ad break. Why, you ask? Well, in the teasers, they show the little child of one family on the verge of crying, as the parents tell him or her (sorry I forgot) that they would have to “cancel his birthday”, as they were forced by the programme not to use their car. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of cars either, heck I don’t even have a driving license, but that simple sound bite is so negative…

Okay, possibly the rest of the episode would show the family overcome the difficulty, either by planning a different kind of birthday party or by organising something that would use public transports or bikes… But let’s be honest, do you find such a tease before the ad break positive at all?

I’m not sure if the child in that episode overcame the scare of the “bad green”, but I’m wondering if other kids were to watch part of that episode, what would their impression of green be? And honestly, if I were to let my nephew watch something on TV beside the cartoons he watches every day, World’s Greenest Houses, the classic variant, would be my first choice. If nothing else he would see that if can be cool to help the environment. But especially considering how difficult is for most children I can think of, including me and some of my friends when we were young, to watch a show till the end, I’m afraid the challenges noted before would do nothing but scare them away…

To be honest I think that most of my personal feeling toward green have to find their source in the Walt Disney Italia comics, with their scouts knockoff… Thus why I feel that kids should be shown that you can be green and cool at the same time.

Ah well… To conclude I would also like to point out that similar scare tactics are applied more or less the same way with free software. To you to see if you can see the parallel, and agree or not with me…

Why I’m upset by Mininova possible shutdown

I’ve been reading some worrisome news about Mininova being requested to filter down the torrent links (to the point that it’ll have no more sense to exist in the first place, I guess). This actually upsets me, even though not in the way most people seem to be upset.

First of all I have to say I don’t like copyright infringement (even though I dislike calling it piracy in the first place): Free Software licenses are based on the idea of respecting copyright and thus I don’t like being the kind of hypocrite who asks to abide to licenses and at the same time infringe on others’ copyright. On the other hand, I find myself thinking about double-standards pretty often. Mostly, when there is no real other option from doing something illicitly.

For instance, anime and, even more, Japanese drama are sometimes impossible to find without having to wait for years, or often have bad translation or some kind of “localization” that ruins the pretty much (usually watering them down with political-correctness, censuring and cutting down anything that might make them unsuitable for children — even when the original version was simply not aimed at children but rather at young adults, but I’m going down a different road now).

Now I don’t want to play saint, it happened to me, and sometime happens still, that I went to watch something that was illegally downloaded; on the other hand, I don’t do this systematically, and I spend a few hundreds euro each year in original content (DVDs, BluRay, games for PS3 and PSP, software — if I do count this year I guess I’m well over €1K thanks to software: between Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft Office 2007 I already reach €600), and these usually include more than a few things that I previously watched downloaded (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya I had seen fansubbed, but I bought the Italian original box set earlier this year, for instance).

But there is one thing I absolutely rely on Mininova for, nowadays, and I’d be pretty upset if it was shut down: Real Time with Bill Maher ! Yes I do like this show, I have seen a piece of this some time ago in relation to an article by Richard Dawkins and then went on to listen to it (in podcast form) and then watch it (when the audio podcast was obscured for a while, and had to work around the US-only limitation, and found the full-fledged video podcast), up to now that I actually watch it downloaded from torrents each weekend.

Now, I know this is illegal, but HBO does not really provide me any other mean to watch it. And mind you, I’d be happy to spend €5/month to subscribe to it; I could even live with downloading it with iTunes, and having it DRM’d (which would upset me a bit but would be bearable). It’s a friggin’ late night show, not a movie, and not some general show like Mythbusters, which actually gets translated, dubbed and aired in other places, like Italy, although an year after the original American airing (on a related note: finding DVDs in Italy is still impossible; and region 2 DVDs from Amazon UK are limited to the first season…).

So if this for some reason arrive on the screen of some HBO guy: please, think about us, Bill Maher fans on the other side of the pond, and give us the chance of legally follow the video episodes. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s going to pay for the subscription, if given the chance. Then we can stop illegally downloading this through Mininova…