2014 – WIF Year in Review

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WIF 1-001

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys

prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Can you believe 144 different countries?

Click here to see the complete report.

“Thank you each & every one!”

2014 – WIF Year in Review

The Internet New & Old – WIF Non sequitur

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10 Things On The Internet

That Are Surprisingly Old

The Internet plays such an important role in our everyday life that it’s easy to forget it only become widespread in the last 15 years. Before then the Internet was used by a select few and far less often than it is now. Yet it may surprise you to know that there are things on the Internet that are far older than they initially seem to be. In some cases, the Internet is simply taking advantage of technology that’s decades old.

 

10. The “@” Symbol

internet1

The “@” symbol has become one of the most easily recognizable and most used characters on a keyboard. Its importance in the use of emails, and now in social media, makes it seem like something that came along with the Internet. The truth though is that the symbol has had a much longer life, dating back at least 500 years.

There are numerous theories about who invented the symbol and what exactly it’s been used for in its long history. These include the proposition that it may have come evolved from other words, such as the Latin ‘ad’ and the French á, or that that it may have been a way for scribes to be more efficient in their writing.

The most widely accepted explanation is that it was used by merchants as useful shorthand for “at the rate of,” with the first documented use coming from aFlorentine merchant in 1536. Merchants used the symbol in this manner for a long period, but it eventually fell into obscurity until Ray Tomlinson decided to use the symbol to separate usernames from the computers that they were used on.

9. Email

internet2

Since the early 2000s, the number of email accounts has grown significantly,with a 32% rise in the number of users between 2009 and 2013. People had largely been content with text messages and phone calls as their primary communication method before then.

However, that doesn’t mean that email wasn’t still around before. Hotmail, now known at Outlook, began life in 1996 and had over eight million subscribers by 1997. Email goes back even further than that — the system began as a way to send messages directly to another person’s file directory and was first used by MIT in 1965, although users could only send these messages to others on the same computer network. The first actual email that was sent over a network rather than a single computer system came in 1971 thanks to Ray Tomlinson, with the system soon becoming widespread in academic and military institutions.

8. Emoticons

internet3

Emoticons are used in almost all forms of Internet communication, from message boards to emails to instant messages, but they have humble beginnings in Morse code. Early documents show that operators would useparticular numbers to express emotions and feelings as shorthand, something of a precursor to what emoticons would become. Then, in 1881, satirical magazine Puck published some typographical emoticons, though not with the same intention that they’re used today.

Graphical symbols used to express emotion became more mainstream thanks to the smiley face from Harvey Ball that inspired the creation of other graphics. The first use of emoticons from text used to express feelings came from Scott Fahlman on a message board in 1982. The use then spread across the webthrough other message boards and eventually evolved into what we use today.

7. Text Speak

internet4

The fact that text speak came to the mainstream through SMS messaging means that it would have been moderately popular before most people were using the Internet regularly. SMS became standard in mobile phones from around 1999, even though it was first introduced in 1992.

The practice of using shorthand words and acronyms in messages has now become commonplace not just on smartphones but also in emails, instant messaging and chatrooms. The first time such a system was commonly used was with telegrams, where operators would often charge per character. This forced customers into being economical with their words, with coded expressions and agreed upon abbreviations used. But text speak goes back even further than telegrams — a collection held by the British Library shows documents from the 19th century using such abbreviations, while a letter from 1917 to Winston Churchill has an “OMG” contained in it, with the writer even explaining the term.

6. Electronic Spam

internet5

Junk mail and spam isn’t new. Mass-market printing allowed companies to send junk mail advertising their products or services through the mail, filling up people’s homes with paper that in nearly half of cases is thrown away unread.

The practice has now spread to the digital realm. In addition to physical paper filling up your mailbox, Internet users have the joy of having their inboxes bombarded by spam every single day. Having unwanted electronic advertisements sent directly to users is nothing new though — it’s over 150 years old.

In 1864, a dental surgery sent a large number of unsolicited telegrams to various people in London informing them of their new services. Predictably, most of the recipients were less than welcoming to what was the first instance of electronic spam. Other businesses soon followed that example and spam has been with us ever since.

5. Selfies

internet6

The craze of people taking “selfies” has grown to such an extent that smartphones now come with front facing cameras to allow them to be taken much more easily. Whether it’s at a club, a concert or a tourist destination, you’ll probably see someone taking a photo of themselves on a fairly regular basis. Heck, even monkeys are getting in on the act.

And that’s nothing new. A letter from the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna speaks of a photograph that she took of herself in the mirror, much like the type of photos you see on Facebook. Similar photos from the same time exist, showing that the process was at least somewhat widespread. The first selfie is widely believed to be a photograph taken by Robert Cornelius. The American photographer created the portrait in 1839, making the selfie at least 175 years old.

4. Online Gaming

internet7

Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and other platforms like Steam and Origin have made online gaming incredibly popular. They allow people to connect with others from all around the world to play a multitude of games. Online multiplayer has evolved to be one of the most important aspects of gaming, with developers spending as much time creating them as single player experiences.

While consoles like the Xbox have helped make online multiplayer mainstreamsince 2002, gamers have been able to play with others through the Internet for far longer. Doom was released in 1993 and became one of the most famous shooters of all time, thanks in part to its online deathmatch mode. Sega meanwhile introduced an online service in 1990 known as Meganet.

However, the first fully online game came out more than 40 years ago. John Daleske and Silas Warner created Empire in 1973, allowing players to control a spaceship and battle with up to 30 players at a time.

3. 419 Scams

internet8

One of the most common types of spam that people receive today are 419 scams. These try to trick people into handing over their bank details so that a businessman or royal can smuggle money out of their country. In exchange for allowing your bank account to transfer the funds, they promise to pay the victim a share of the wealth.

Even before email was widespread, fraudsters commonly used the same con but with the assistance of snail mail. It was a popular scam at least 20 years ago in Nigeria, with criminals sending letters to victims through the postal system. And the basic outline of the con has been going since the 16th century — then it was known as the “Spanish Prisoner” scam and involved an apparent prisoner who needed someone to pay his bail so he could be released from jail. In exchange, the prisoner would give the victim a share of some treasure or savings.

2. Denial-of-service Attacks

internet9

DoS attacks are actions designed to make a website, network or computer system unavailable. The attackers do this by flooding the target with requests so that it can’t communicate with legitimate users, effectively taking the target offline. The most common occurrence of DoS attacks happen when hackers try to take websites offline.

DoS attacks are far from the first time that a technique has been used to prevent technology from operating in its usual way. Black faxes were a common way for pranksters and disgruntled recipients of fax spam to get their revenge on companies. Essentially, the attackers would send a fax machine multiple pages filled entirely with black tone. This served a number of purposes. It forced the fax machine to use huge amounts of ink, which was expensive, and it forced the machine to shut down. The attack also stopped others from communicating through fax, potentially forcing the recipient from being able to conduct any of their business.

1. The Internet

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What most people think of as the Internet officially went live in 1991. But the World Wide Web, a way of searching the Internet using specific characters, was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The CERN employee made the software for the World Wide Web available freely, which helped in getting users to adopt it and eventually made it widespread.

The Internet had humble beginnings in the 1960s thanks to networks such asARPANET. This allowed universities to communicate with each other over a closed system. Networks from that time weren’t compatible with others, preventing communication across separate networks. Later systems such asBITNET and USENET allowed users to access messages from different servers, yet there was still no real unifying system to connect all of the networks together until Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web.

WIF Non sequitur

WIF Production-001

– The Internet New & Old

Net Neutrality – It Matters More Than You Think

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writingisfun-damental

 “They (Washington D.C.) took away Analog “Free” TV and forced us to either go digital or go cable. Those same cable interests want to do the same with Internet access:

  1. Free = Slow and unavailable
  2. Pay =  $ Good $ Better $ Best $ Super-duper $  (But free for Congress and Cable Co. Execs)

Gwenny

Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication. The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier.[1][2][3][4] Proponents often see net neutrality as an important component of an open Internet, where policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those on the Internet to easily communicate and conduct business without interference from a third party.[5] A “closed Internet” refers to the opposite situation, in which established corporations or governments favor certain uses. A closed Internet may have restricted access to necessaryweb standards, artificially degrade some services, or explicitly filter out content.

There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law, particularly in the United States. Debate over the issue of net neutrality predates the coining of the term. Advocates of net neutrality such as Lawrence Lessig have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even to block out competitors.

Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms.[6] Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and considered a “father of the Internet,” as well as Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web, and many others have spoken out in favor of net neutrality.[7][8]

Opponents of net neutrality claim that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance.[9] Despite this claim, there has been at least one case where an Internet service provider, Comcast, intentionally slowed peer-to-peer (P2P) communications.[10] In 2007, one other company was using deep packet inspection to discriminate against P2P, FTP, and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom “value added” services, and bundling.[11] Critics of net neutrality also argue that data discrimination of some kinds, particularly to guaranteequality of service, is not problematic, but is actually highly desirable. Bob Kahn, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, has called the term “net neutrality” a “slogan” and states that he opposes establishing it, but he admits that he is against the fragmentation of the net whenever this becomes excluding to other participants.[12]Opponents of net neutrality regulation also argue that the best solution to discrimination by broadband providers is to encourage greater competition among such providers, which is currently limited in many areas.[13]

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Net Neutrality – It Matters More Than You Think

Check out my newly redesigned GoDaddy Website

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Check out my newly redesigned GoDaddy Website

http://www.gwendolynhoff.com

GwenPersonalLogo(490x499)image017MA27251312-0031

 

 

If you are considering starting your own website, I high recommend using GoDaddy. Their new Version 7 website builder is very easy to use. As a writer, I need a comprehensive platform for my clients and readers to go to.

For me, my house is in NE Illinois, but my home is on the World Wide Web.

 

GoDaddy.svg
Type Private company
Founded 1997
Headquarters Scottsdale, Arizona, United States
Founder(s) Bob Parsons
Key people Blake Irving (CEO)[1]
Industry Domain Registrar, Web hosting, SSL certificates, small businesses
Revenue US$1.14 billion (2011)[2]
Employees 4,000 (2014) [3]
Website www.GoDaddy.com
Alexa rank positive decrease 83 (April 2014)[4]

 

www.gwendolynhoff.com 

 

Danica Patrick‘s #10 Go Daddy car at the 2013 NRA 500

 

Go Daddy is a privately held company that is primarily an internet domain registrarand web hosting company.[5] Go Daddy filed for an IPO in 2006 and later canceled it due to “market uncertainties”,[6] but is preparing for IPO as of March 2014. In addition to domain registration and hosting Go Daddy also sells e-business relatedsoftware and services. On June 24, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that private-equity firms KKR and Silver Lake Partners, along with a third investor, were nearing a deal to buy the company for between $2–2.5 billion.[7] On July 1, 2011, Go Daddy confirmed that KKR, Silver Lake Partners, and Technology Crossover Ventures had closed the deal. Although the purchase price was not officially announced it was reported to be $2.25 billion, for 65% of the company.[8] As of December 2011, Bob Parsons has stepped down as CEO into the role of Executive Chairman.[9] Current CEO Blake Irving, joined Go Daddy on January 6, 2013.

Check out my newly redesigned GoDaddy Website

Internet Slang is Banned- And All the People said AMEN

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Gawker bans ‘Internet slang’

slang

“We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters,” new Gawker Editor Max Read says in a memo to the publication’s writers. Words like “epic,” “pwn” and “derp” are no longer welcome on the site. Read also says the word “massive” is “never to appear on the website Gawker dot com.”

He also asks staffers not to use strikethrough for corrections, preferring they “change the wording and link from there to a comment noting the corrected text.” He singles out a correction by J.K. Trotter that was done in “the proper spirit and is funny to boot.”

Full memo:

I meant to send this out on Monday but forgot. These are my exclamation points.

THE BANNED LIST:

• Strikethroughs. No more strikethrough tag. It’s HTML styling, and it gets stripped in Google searches, RSS, tweets, through copy-pastes, etc., completely fucking up our meaning, especially in headlines (e.g.: http://gawker.com/5974190/here-is-a-list-of-all-the-assholes-who-own-guns-in-new-york-city)

For corrections, rather than strikethrough, change the wording and link from there to a comment noting the corrected text, as Tom does here: http://gawker.com/thanks-ill-correct-it-and-link-down-to-this-correctio-1554296985.

(While we’re at it I want to note Keenan’s correction here, which is done is the proper spirit and is funny to boot: http://gawker.com/david-brooks-may-not-have-gotten-divorced-after-all-1555282728)

We should strive to make our writing clear and precise even absent any text formatting.

Chat Acronyms

Jokes made using strikethrough are generally not worth saving.

• Internet slang. We used to make an effort to avoid this, and now I see us all falling back into the habit. We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters. Therefore: No “epic.” No “pwn.” No “+1.” No “derp.” No “this”/”this just happened.” No “OMG.” No “WTF.” No “lulz.” No “FTW.” No “win.” No “amazeballs.” And so on. Nothing will ever “win the internet” on Gawker. As with all rules there are exceptions. Err on the side of the Times, not XOJane.

• The word “massive.” Is never to appear on the website Gawker dot com. Here’s a handy list of synonyms for your headline toolkit:

> huge, enormous, vast, immense, large, big, mighty, great, colossal, tremendous, prodigious, gigantic, gargantuan, mammoth, monstrous, monumental, giant, towering, elephantine, mountainous, titanic; Herculean, Brobdingnagian; monster, jumbo, mega, whopping, humongous, hulking, honking, bumper, astronomical, ginormous

A couple people asked on Twitter whether this memo is a late April Fools’ prank, so I asked Read. “Ha, no, not a prank,” he replied.

slang

 

Gawker bans ‘Internet slang’

The Oscar Bandwagon 2014

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The Oscar Bandwagon

 Our Motion-Picture Mania

You may watch the Academy Awards every year, but that doesn’t make you an expert! Here are a few facts to boost your Oscar knowledge and impress your viewing party pals:

Plaster Oscar

1.) During the metal shortage of WWII, the Oscar statues were made of plaster

2.) Winners are not allowed to sell their award…unless they sell it back to the Academy for $1

3.) Seat-fillers get paid $125 to make the theater look filled to capacity

A Sea of Faces

4.) The Hurt Locker is the lowest grossing film to win Best Picture

5.) Bob Hope hosted the award ceremony 18 times

 

 

 

6.) Billy Crystal has hosted 9 times

7.) The only tie for Best Actress happened in 1968 between Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn

8.) Marlon Brando refused his 1973 Oscar for Best Actor

9.) There has only been one Oscar winner actually named ‘Oscar’

10.) William Holden and Alfred Hitchcock hold the records for shortest acceptance speech

The Oscar Bandwagon

MONEY – The Mother of Invention

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Top Tenz from WIF

Top Tenz from WIF

Top 10 Pieces of Technology 2013 Crowdfunded to Success

Everything is becoming increasingly democratized, especially technology. The opportunity exists for every citizen with disposable income to be a part of the march of progress, and sometimes the investment has — get this – actually paid off. From advances in gaming to the health industry, the ever-expanding impact of these advances will reach people from all walks of life. We’re in an exciting age where a momentous new trend is still its infancy, and we get to bear witness to its constant growth and maturation.

10. Piper Home Security

piper-smart-home-security

Amount Funded: $309,119

We start with a relatively modest amount, and yet the technology being invested in is of such sufficient importance, and the product produced was of such sufficient quality, that it deserves its place amongst such great projects. Piper’s home security system is basically a combination of different home monitoring devices (a camera, thermometer, humidity checker, etc.) that has an app for your mobile device that allows you to check up on it at all times. This allows the homeowner on vacation or elsewhere to better monitor for intruders, home damage, or other home maintenance issues.

9. Matterform 3D Scanner

3-d-scanner

Amount Funded: $471,082 Canadian

Greatly simplifying the process by which objects are rendered in 3D interfaces for easier or more tangible for online study and display, the Matterform 3D offers a consumer/hobbyist model at $599. The demand for such a device was such that the Matterform acquired over six times its goal during its fundraising period. While this product is entering what’s already a crowding market, it’s good that crowdfunded projects are forcing the market to create better products.

8. Beddit

beddit-1

Amount Funded: $503,571

Between our stressful jobs, our flexible lifestyles, and the huge amount of daily information that occupies our nightly thoughts, many of us find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. While there are devices that help you monitor how well you’re sleeping, as Business Insider reported, they are all quite flawed. Their measurements are incomplete, or they can very likely interfere with your sleep. Beddit is a monitor placed under your mattress which monitors your movements, breathing, etc. to give you a more accurate impression of your quality of sleep. They are set to be priced at $149, which is well worth the value of getting better sleep.

7. Oculus Rift

Oculus-Rift

Amount Funded: $2,437,429

This is a video game headset used to fill your vision and respond to your head movements, to better immerse you in the game environment. It’s certainly not an original idea, but it was only half as expensive as the next leading brand, and certainly did the most to get people interested in that type of gameplay again. This device was obviously much more funded than some ranked higher, especially if you include the $16,000,000 added in by private investors. Still, it is intended as a somewhat frivolous device and, at present, has significant limitations, such as problems with accessing menus to perform some of the gameplay.

6. LifX

lifx-bulbs

Amount Funded: $1,314,542

The group LifX Labs was hoping for $100,000 for their LED lightbulb project. They finally reached their goal … after an hour. In fact, by the sixth day, they had to put a freeze on the page to keep up with their ability to send out all the preorders. In November, it was announced that Best Buy would distribute this product.

The appeal of this bulb is that its wi-fi connection allows you to use your smartphone to adjust its brightness and color, as well as preset when they will make those adjustments. Currently, the product has something of a rivalry with Phillips Hue, but the way crowdfunding is competing and getting something of a leg up on a major like this is quite something.

5. 3Doodler

3-d-pen

Amount Funded: $2,344,135

Another invention that more fun than useful, the 3Doodler is like an airbrush or hot gluegun, that creates strings of plastic that can be easily shaped into 3d art. The device produces some very cute pieces and is, according to Gigaom’s review, addictive to use. It also represents great advancement potential in the field of affordable 3-D printing. Although there is the concern that it is uncomfortable to draw with for prolonged periods, loud, and stinky (the last one a complaint you don’t hear so much about modern technology,) but it’s still a creative and fun new device.

4. Canary Home Security

Canary-smart-home-security

Amount Funded: $1,961,663

Another product that crowdfunding created to advance the technology of home monitoring,Canary is in many ways a more tested version of the Piper Home System. They check essentially the same things with some advertised differences. For example, Canary will be able to monitor air quality to a greater degree than Piper, but Piper has the edge in detecting the size of a moving object. So if you have a pet at home, you’d probably prefer to pay the Piper. But making the Canary more significant is that it beat the Piper to the market by three months and had more resources to promote the product, and thus was able to make a stronger impression on consumers.

3. Pebble Smartwatch

pebble-smartwatch

Amount Funded: $10,266,845

As you can see, the Pebble was by far the most crowdfunded project on this list. But it didn’t quite overtake the top two in terms of utility and potential. Essentially, it’s a utilitarian mobile device. It has a small, grayscale monitor without any of the usual animations for when you change applications and whatnot. This is handy, as it allows the device to work faster and frees up space. You can check and send all the messages you ordinarily would with other mobile devices, at a lower price and with less lag. Hopefully this emphasis on interface function over frills will catch on.

2. Scanadu Scout

scanadu-scout

Amount Funded: $1,664,574

This device was rather ridiculously touted as a “medical tricorder” to give it more of a science fiction mystique, which is quite silly given the significance of its intended purpose. Nevertheless, it worked, as the device hit its target budget after one day, and has since received $10.5 million more in private funding. The device is a handheld monitor that detects a person’s vitals (blood pressure, temperature, etc.) Given the extreme expense ofhealth care and the shortage of time that hospital workers have, anything that can expedite the process without sacrificing quality of service should be pursued. As of November 2013, the product was still undergoing clinical trials before it would be released commercially, with thousands already preordered.

1. Form 1

formlabs-3d-printer

Amount Funded: $2,945,885

3D printers are proving to be a way for consumers to have access to previously unaffordable products. The most current high-profile example of this is Paul McCarthy printing out a prosthetic hand for his son Leon, saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process. While the FormLabs Form 1 3D printer is not the cheapest consumer grade 3D printer (it’s about $750 more than the leading brand Makerbot 2) it was found by Wired to be much better at doing detailed work, producing work quickly without losing quality, not making a racket, and not stinking up the joint. It thus represents represents a great step forward in the day when such useful products will be nearly as affordable as 2D printers.

Dustin Koski feels confident in saying his serial novel Please, God is the cultural achievement all this technology was created to make possible.

MONEY The Mother of Invention

“Are You Stealin’ My Stuff, Man?”

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Top 10 Interesting and Surprising Facts

about Online Piracy

Piracy is one of those subjects that completely divides people. On the one hand, it’s blatant thievery. On the other hand, free episodes of Breaking Bad, yo.

The internet is chock full of horror stories about digital piracy ruining people’s lives when the RIAA knocks on their door, so we wanted to share some stories about piracy that everyone should be able to agree are awesome.

10. The People Behind Game of Thrones Think Piracy is Pretty Damn Neat

game-of-thrones

Game of Thrones, AKA We’re All Going to Die: The Show is one of the most popular TV shows in recent history. In completely unrelated news, it’s also one of the most pirated shows of all time too.

However, not only do the people behind the show not care about it being pirated, they’ve gone on record as saying the piracy is more flattering than an actual award. Probably because millions of people risking prison to see your show is a bigger compliment than a bunch of pretentious people giving you a shiny statue in a desperate bid to stay relevant.

9. Netflix Use Piracy Figures to Decide Which Shows to Buy Next

netflix

Netflix will likely rule the TV game in a few years, so why bother dropping $80 a month on a severely limited TV package when, for the price of a broadband connection and a Big Mac, you could have every film ever made?

In an effort to really keep its finger on the pulse of what people like, Netflix higher-ups have openly admitted that they’ll look into what people are pirating to make a more informed decision about what rights to buy. For example, in the Netherlands they noticed people there really like Prison Break (though not enough to buy the DVDs,) so when the service launched there they made sure Prison Break was one of the big titles they had to offer.

This isn’t just Netflix either; a big-wig at Warner Brothers admitted earlier this year that piracy is one of their preferred methods to help gauge consumer demand. It’s not a perfect system, but just remember this is probably why you can now watch every episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix, and it’ll probably only be a matter of time until they have every awesome show people love to not pay for. So what we’re saying is: download more Adventure Time so we can watch it legally.

8. Trent Reznor Hates His Record Company So Much, He Tells Fans to Steal His Music

trent-reznor

The brilliantly-named Trent Reznor is the frontman (and only man) of Nine Inch Nails, and you better believe this man hates him some high CD prices. When he visited Australia, he was so appalled by the stupidly high price that Universal Records was charging for his music, he openly told fans to steal their songs on stage.

The thing is, when Reznor asked Universal why his CDs cost so much more than other bands they represented, their answer was that they were basically fleecing the most die-hard NIN fans because they knew they’d pay whatever Universal charged. So, Reznor was told that his fans would pay anything for his band’s music, and his response was to order them to go get it for free. How rock and roll is that?

7. System of a Down Were So Annoyed at Songs Being Pirated, They Released Better Versions on Principle

System-Of-A-Down-Steal-This-Album

A little while after System of a Down’s explosive and well-received Toxicity album, a few incredibly poor-quality songs were released under the name Toxicity 2. These were songs the band didn’t feel gelled with the original album, and they were all in a very rough state. Upon hearing them, the band was so upset that they recorded an entirely new album and added even more songs to spite the pirates. They then called it “Steal This Album” as a final jab.

Basically, System of a Down saw that people were pirating their music and, rather than complain, just wrote better songs and released a better, cheaper version than the pirated bootleg versions people were selling. That seems like a solution we can all agree on.

6. Piracy will Likely Save All Your Favorite TV Shows

dr-who-missing-episode

Back before you could download an episode of Breaking Bad minutes after it was uploaded, people simply taped things they saw on TV and made copies of them. Though this arguably seems more harmless, it was still piracy.

However, now the ball is in the pirates’ court, because some of these illegally-made tapes are pretty much the only recordings of these shows left. For example, the Digital Archive Project is dedicated to ensuring recordings of old shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Bill Nye the Science Guy are preserved.



Another, more extreme example are the so-called missing Dr. Who episodes. Back in the 70′s, due to pressure from acting unions who saw tapes as a threat to their livelihood (since why record new shows when you can simply replay old ones?) dozens of episodes of the now-iconic series were exterminated from the face of the Earth. However, because some fans saw fit to record the show, some episodes have since been recovered.

5. Microsoft Doesn’t Mind if You Steal Software, as Long as You Steal Their Software

Download-Microsoft-Word

Microsoft invest millions in anti-piracy measures, though they’re aware that people will invariably steal their products anyway, because people love getting things for free. Which is why the company has a fairly odd stance: “if you’re going to steal, steal from us.” The logic here is that a person using their software illegally is still using their software and will, as such, become used to it and possibly become a paying customer somewhere down the line. Again, Microsoft aren’t happy with people stealing their product, but you have to admit it’s pretty awesome that being stolen from more than Apple is something a Microsoft executive has probably bragged about in the past.

4. Radiohead’s Songs were Bootlegged So Fast, Fans Could Sing Along to Their New Album

kid-a-cover

Radiohead has long realized people are going to steal their music no matter what, so they’ve decided hey, might as well embrace it. Along with being one of the first bands to pioneer “pay what you want” albums and digital downloads, the band has also expressed amusement at the results of bootlegging and piracy. For example, the band kicked off a tour in Barcelona, in support their new album Kid A; within a few hours of the concert, the entire thing was on Napster. When the band played in Israel a few weeks later the entire crowd, who by all rights should have never heard the album before, sung along to most of the tracks. Radiohead’s bassist said the experience was “wonderful.” Presumably because it proved that, though many people had stolen their music, a whole bunch of them had stuck their hand into their pocket and actually paid to see them live, which in virtually every case results in more money going to the band anyhow.

3. My Morning Jacket Happily Rip Their Own CDs and Send Them to Fans

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My Morning Jacket, AKA That Band You Saw on American Dad, are a fairly popular and successful band in the states with a few albums under their belt. They’re also really cool guys, something they proved in 2005 when Sony slapped a bunch of restrictive measures on their new album ZThese measures stopped the CD from being burned onto iTunes, a service we’re assured a lot of people use. The band had no idea these measures were in place, and actually put instructions up on their website telling fans how to circumvent them.

However, this still irked some fans, which is when the band decided to go one step further. Along with personally responding to virtually every email they received about the issue, the band also went to the effort of burning copies of the CD themselves to send to disgruntled fans, as a means of apologizing.

2. A Number of Bands Offer People Blank CDs so They Could Burn Their Own Albums

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Perhaps the ultimate embodiment of bands realizing everyone is going to steal their music is the act of releasing a blank CD. To date, only a few bands have taken the plunge, but it’s such an awesome move that it can’t help but catch fire as a legit movement down the line.

For example, Green Day, realizing many of their fans had gotten hold of their songs illegally, released a special album full of unique blank CDs, so fans could create their own Green Day albums. Meanwhile, DJ Danger Mouse, realizing he’d be sued if he released his mash-ups, released a blank CD instead so fans could make their own. But perhaps the coolest example is that of the Dead Kennedys who, for their  album In God We Trust Inc., intentionally left the B-side blank so people could copy their own music. That album, by the way, was released in 1981, meaning the Dead Kennedys are hardcore hipsters, who were fighting soaring record prices way before it was cool.

1. Lars Ulrich Pirated His Own Album Simply Because He Could

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Lars Ulrich is a member of Metallica. If you didn’t know that, we’re sorry for the considerably un-metal upbringing you had compared to your peers. The band gained a lot of infamy in the early 2000′s, when they came out in staunch opposition of digital piracy, despite being kajillionaires who made their money off of non-stop touring, and who actively encouraged fans to record their shows and trade them back in the day.

However, in a 2009 interview Ulrich admitted that, a few days after the band’s new Death Magnetic album was released, he downloaded it illegally just to see what piracy felt like, and also just because he could. As he put it, “if there is anybody that has a right to download Death Magnetic for free, it’s me.” You have to admit, he’s got a point, but why he didn’t already have a free copy in his house speaks volumes about how popular he is with his band mates.

But that album was hugely pirated for two reasons: one, “screw Metallica” and two, because the album was so torn up in post-production that the version included in Guitar Hero was objectively better. This led to legions of fans downloading the Guitar Hero version instead because it actually sounded better the the official copy you could buy from shops. Wow, no wonder Lars finally embraced his inner pirate.

“Are you stealin’ my stuff, man?”

Terrifying Videos

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Top Tenz

Top Tenz

 

Top 10 Videos That Will Terrify You in 90 Seconds or Less

 

Too many horror movies labor under the misconception that they need to be boring and droning to generate tension, suspense, and a sense of dread. Way too many others think they have to rely on gore or violence to get under the audience’s skin. To prove just how wrong these assumptions are, here are ten scary videos that could all be watched back-to-back within the length of a lunch break, all of which could easily air during prime time.

10. I HATE SNOW

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TheLittleFears is a channel for a Canadian filmmaker who hasn’t uploaded new videos for years. That’s a shame, because her videos like I HATE SNOW demonstrate her ability to create mood in a handful of seconds with simple but fresh ideas. In terms of content, it’s about taking her dog for a winter walk, and coming home to see unknown tracks in the snow. While the awful music in the first half turns many off, it does imply a significantly different type of video so that someone can be taken off guard by the foreboding silence of the second half.

She has several more videos that run under a minute in length, a few of which are almost as creepy and ambiguous as this one. Several of her longer ones are even more horrifying, without using any cheap shocks.

9. Justin Bieber Eats a Slice of Delicious Cake

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The YouTube channel for user Redminus is largely about taking popular innocuous Internet memes and morphing them into something grotesque. It was thus inevitable he would go after Justin Bieber. His art style in the introduction and preview image are perfect for initially concealing the true nature of the video. While there’s no blood, the trails of SFW black and green fluids that leak from Bieber’s face after the reveal are suitably nauseating. It’s a perfect video for pranking his many Beliebers, and its hundreds of thousands of views indicate it already has.

8. Real Demons Caught on Tape

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After a month’s effort with Adobe After Effects, Justin Martinez finished what he thought would be a hoax video capable of fooling the world. Mostly it ended up just fooling some people on YouTube and scaring the rest of us, but that will probably be quite sufficient. The video is about a guy shooting video of his bedroom, when he begins to see numerous hands emerging from his ceiling. If you can overlook how the person filming the video remains much too calm in the face of what’s happening, it’s one of the greatest pieces of found footage horror ever made. This video builds up a sense of dread with excellent pacing, features simple but surprisingly convincing effects, and a rather unique being at the end. No wonder it’s gone viral several times over.

Creepy Visual Effects from Justin Martinez on Vimeo.

7. Jack

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Made by the Daywalt Fear Factory, there’s both a quaintness and a very modern sensibility to Jack. The whole idea of a child voluntarily playing with a jack-in-the-box anymore is very out-of-date, but the timing, simplicity, directness, and slickness of the cinematography give it a visual quality that makes it feel like it’s happening in a warm, contemporary setting. But the implied connection between what the child is doing and the fate coming has a darkly comic tone that makes the short much more horrifying. So odds are the Santa Barbara Minute Film Festival it was created for was happy with it.

6. Agamemnon Counterpart

Agamemnon-Counterpart

You need to start the video twenty-four seconds in to skip a joke that sort of hurts the creepy effect without adding much in exchange. This popular video by Michael Robinson is stylized to look like strange, heavily distorted VHS footage of a confusing and oddly sinister cartoon, with a soundtrack that consists largely of screaming. The images are an homage to to 1970′s psychedelia, especially a frog-like character that’s clearly meant to resemble an H.R. Puffnstuff puppet. A subtler creepy touch is that there’s a cartoon character seen towards the end which seems significantly less distorted than its surroundings and even appears superimposed atop some video flaws, as if it were not a regular part of the cartoon. The total effect is that it seems like a regular cartoon clip that has somehow been possessed by a malignant force of some kind that corrupted both the video quality and content.

It’s worth noting that the short is a one-off for Michael Robinson, whose movies mostly consist of abstract experimental films that play with images of color, nature, etc. This experience was no doubt very handy in getting the look of the video distortion right.

5. Baaa

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Cyriak Harris is a freelance cartoonist who has worked for Adult Swim, Showtime, and BBC, among other networks and clients. When left to his own devices, he makes things like this video of a lamb.  It’s one of his most popular videos and probably the most unsettling one that doesn’t include graphic violence. He described it as an “experiment in bovine geometry.” Basically, that means the lamb’s anatomy is constantly changing in numerous improbable ways. For example at one point it splits in half to seemingly reveal a little lamb factory inside itself.

Some might find many of the variations in the sheep’s “geometry” funny early on. But as it goes on, the nature of little mutant lamb spawn it leaves becomes more grotesque and less mechanical. This is to say nothing of what happens to the lamb itself.

4. Microwaving a Cell Phone

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For some reason, YouTube’s users seemed fascinated for a period with the spectacle of mobile devices and the like being loaded into microwaves and blenders. This video, originally from Break.com, takes the idea in a rather different direction. While the effect of what happens to the phone is extremely good and creepy, the best part is how the power goes out at just he right time, making it very unclear what exactly happens at the end. It helps considerably that no credits roll to show who made the video, even though the special effects for the video are of such a high quality.

3. Mockingbird

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We return to the films of Marichelle Daywalt to see what can do with very little more than a baby monitor. The short starts off with a man just using his computer in what appears to be the dining room. He is amused to hear the sound of his wife singing through their baby monitor. Then something comes in through the back door …

This exceptionally disturbing short with its take on the most primal of adult fears was named “Scariest Short Horror Film of the Week” by Horrorboom.com in October 2012.

2. Quality Meats

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The label “nightmarish” is applied to a lot of horror shorts, but few of them live up to it quite like this student film from a 2009 class for Gnomon School of Visual Effects. It’s very brief, consisting mostly of our POV walking down a convenience store aisle past two monsters from Silent Hill with worm-like beings pulsating on the floor to either side of us. The lack of context, the dissonant music, and the unsteady (but not excessively shaky) camerawork replicate the sensation of being asleep and not yet knowing to wake up with uncanny accuracy. They are a big part of the reason this clip is rated one of the scariest many have ever seen, even though there is no violence and it quickly becomes clear there is no overt threat. Unless you’re a vegan.

Watch the unembeddable video here!

1. One Last Dive

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Commissioned for the web site Vice for their 3:07 A.M. Devil’s Hour contest, this short was written and directed by Jason Eisener. Eisener is the writer/director of such NSFW films as Hobo With a Shotgun starring Rutger Hauer, and Treevenge. The subject of this particular short is what appears to be a rescue scuba team operating in murky waters. One of them finds just what mysterious and terrifying things lurk in those waters. An incredibly tense, original, oddly beautiful, shocking video that ends on a note that will rival Jaws for how effectively it could scare people from venturing into open water.

 Terrifying Videos