Archive for June, 2010

Steve Jobs finds strange bedfellows

June 30, 2010 Comments off

With the smoke from the G20 clearing and all the various calls for public inquiries, ranging from police violence to human rights violations, it’s probably about time we got back down to business here in Sex, Bombs and Burgers land. That means no more neglecting of war, porn and fast food news.

There’s been quite a bit in the past week, particularly in the adult entertainment world. There was, of course, the important ruling by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), or the group that regulates things like internet addresses, last week on the whole issue of “dot-xxx.”

ICANN has given conditional approval to the new domain name, which will be applied to adult sites in the same way that .com or .org is used. But, in the first of two “strange-bedfellows” stories today, the ruling is highly controversial. In Australia, the porn industry and Christian lobbyists are both against the decision. Porn companies don’t want to be governed by a third party that knows nothing about their industry, while the Christians are worried that giving adult companies their own domain suffix further legitimizes them. The respective positions in Australia generally represent the developed world at large. Clearly, the dot-xxx issue is still a long way from being resolved, but it’s pretty funny that these two disparate sides are united against ICANN.

The more interesting “strange-bedfellow” story, at least for me, is the revelation that Apple CEO and anti-porn crusader Steve Jobs has found an unlikely ally in his war against Adobe Flash: the porn industry! As Apple followers know, Jobs has been waging a two-front battle in recent months: on the one hand, he has declared that his products are “free from porn” (even though they’re not), and on the other he has derided Adobe’s Flash - which is used by many, many websites to display video and other multimedia features - as faulty software who’s days are numbered. Jobs is instead favouring HTML 5, a new-ish web standard that is apparently much more efficient in handling video and multimedia.

While the lack of Flash on Apple’s mobile products, including the iPhone and iPad, are a cause of consternation for many (count me among them), Jobs has just received some surprising support. In an interview with ConceivablyTech, Ali Joone - owner and founder of Digital Playground, one of the bigger U.S. porn companies - says he agrees with Jobs. “HTML 5 is the future,” says Joone. “Mobile browsers run HTML 5 very well. Flash brings everything to a crawl and has an impact on battery life. With HTML 5, there is no reason to show our content in Flash.”

Joone says his company is simply waiting for web browsers to catch up with their HTML 5 capability, and as soon as it happens, he’s ditching Flash. It’s “just a matter of time … it’s the next passing of the torch.”

It should be noted that Digital Playground is not alone in this position. YouPorn, perhaps the king of the free adult YouTube clones, recently announced that it was converting to HTML 5 in order to be compatible with Apple products. These tube sites, detested by traditional companies such as Digital Playground for basically sucking their revenue dry, wield an enormous amount of clout in such matters because of their massive traffic.

The ramifications of all this are obvious, and what’s going on here is amazing to technology watchers. Firstly, Apple is looking to change the technology used to display giant portions of web to one of its liking, while at the same time trying to disinclude porn from the equation. But while the mainstream debates the merits of Flash versus HTML 5, porn producers are getting right to the point: they are following Apple and the millions of eyeballs glued to the company’s products. It’s a safe bet that once again, the adult companies will end up deciding this particular format war. So, Apple and the porn companies are essentially redefining the web together. Is Steve Jobs happy for the support, or livid about where it’s coming from? Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the Jobs’ household (would that make one an iFly?).

As ConceivablyTech puts it, this situation is not unlike the often-cited VCR format war. While the mainstream quibbled over that technology, the adult companies dove right in and decided the winner, VHS, for them. However, I think that website is mistaken in saying that porn ended up deciding the recent Blu-ray versus HD-DVD format war. According to ConceivablyTech, porn was instrumental because Sony’s Blu-ray-equipped PlayStation 3 indirectly promoted sales of adult videos.

It was quite the opposite actually - Sony was reluctant to license the Blu-ray technology for use by adult companies, so they were naturally starting to gravitate toward HD-DVD. If nature had been allowed to take its course, HD-DVD may have in fact won out because of the support from porn. Blu-ray ended winning and no one’s really sure why - my theory is that Sony forked out enough payola to movie studios to get them to switch.

If HTML 5 does end up winning out over Flash, historians may look back on this and find that once again, porn companies provided the early support for a particular technology. It’s a truism, especially to me, that seems to spell doom for Flash.

(The obvious fun with Photoshop above, of Smooth Stevie J and Digital Playground star Jesse Jane, courtesy of yours truly)

Cost of preserving democracy: $6 million

June 29, 2010 1 comment

I like to keep things light in these here parts, but that’s tough to do today given what’s been going on in Toronto. The events of this weekend have me in a rather dour mood, so it might be tough over the next few days to write my normally glib posts about the often-amusing worlds of porn and food.

What I hope doesn’t get lost in all of the G20 analysis and commentary is the fact that none of the weekend’s ridiculousness was necessary. Our government invited the G20 in knowing full well the mayhem that always ensues. All our leaders had to do was watch footage from any previous G20 summit, because it’s the same thing every time. No amount of security spending is going to change or prevent it.

What would change or prevent it would be following one mind-numbingly simple suggestion: video conferencing. There’s little that couldn’t be accomplished by simply connecting the world’s leaders on Skype. It even does video now, golly gosh. And hey, if they really wanted to go high end, they could splurge on Cisco Telepresence. One estimate pegs the price at $300,000 (U.S.) per side of the conference, which means you could wire all of the G20 leaders for $6 million.

That would save some of that billion dollars we spent on security - never mind the costs of getting the leaders here and housing them, or the clean-up and repair costs afterward - for more important things like, oh I don’t know, solving some of the problems the G20 leaders are supposed to solve during their meetings. Like, ironically, poverty.

But politicians being politicians, it’s a safe bet that the most logical (and cheapest) suggestion will never be taken. Instead, citizens in the cities of upcoming G20 summits will have little recourse other than to gird for the inevitable idiocy, destruction and violation of civil rights. Either that, or they could simply vote out any government that wants to continue holding these regular Moron-a-paloozas. But regular citizens being regular citizens, with watching the latest episode of True Blood or catching up on the latest Justin Bieber gossip being more important than civic duty, that’s not likely to happen either.

So, given our inevitable descent into authoritarianism, here’s a glimpse of what lays in store for us. China has banned all 2.3 million members of its armed forces from blogging or creating websites. According to AFP, Chinese officials say “soldiers cannot open blogs on the internet no matter (whether) he or she does it in the capacity of a soldier or not… The internet is complicated and we should guard against online traps.”

That’s in stark contrast to the U.S. military’s “open door” policy on personnel using social media such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter. As I mentioned back in March, the Pentagon actually wants soldiers to interact with people online - within limits - to put a human face on the U.S. military and its efforts.

I tell ya, to my newly jaded Canadian eyes, the U.S. is looking more and more like the bastion of freedom and democracy it has always touted itself as. Many of us Canadians used to mock the U.S. for its weirdo two-party political system that, for ages, only gave its citizens a choice of Coke or Pepsi for president. But, after eight years of tyranny, Americans gave George W. and everything he stood for a thorough drubbing with record voter turnout and a solid landslide for Obama.

Meanwhile, in just about every other English-speaking democracy (e.g. Canada, the UK and New Zealand, where we have multiple parties), we have either minority governments or record-low voter turnouts, or both. Here in Canada at least, there’s little reason to believe that’s going to improve any time soon. Nicely done, English-speaking democracies.

Americans may only have two choices, but it sure looks like that system is working better than ours. Perhaps we can also get some leadership from them in ending the wasteful, shameful and demoralizing event that is the G20.

The chickens have come home to roost

June 28, 2010 4 comments

Burning cars, trashed store fronts, a billion dollars in security costs, beaten journalists, laws passed in secret, hundreds of arrests, billions in lost revenue and repair costs, police brutality, human rights violations, unlawful arrests and detentions. Does this sound like Canada? Does this even remotely sound like Canada?

When asked what he thought about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X famously said that the chickens were coming home to roost. Those words could not be more applicable to what happened in Toronto this past weekend. A number of commentators have pointed out that all of the above does not take place in a democracy. Indeed, it should not, but the fact is, democracy has been failing here in Canada for some time. We deserve everything that happened because we let it happen.

About 59 per cent of eligible voters participated in Canada’s last election, or just over 10 million people. The current Conservative government - the one that decided to hold the G20 here in Toronto, and that invited all this mayhem in - has a mandate to govern from just about 15 per cent of the population. The Prime Minister, therefore, doesn’t have to answer to the public. We didn’t elect him, after all.

If you vote regularly, or if you take part in the democratic process in other ways, good on you. But if you’re one of the overwhelming majority that sits back and just lets things happen, you have no right to be surprised, shocked or upset by anything that took place this weekend. Don’t blame the government or the police or even the Black Bloc, blame yourself. You are the problem.

“Those who expect to receive the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” - Thomas Paine

Categories: Uncategorized

UK, UAVs and iPhones

June 25, 2010 Comments off

It’s a grab bag today with a couple pieces of outstanding business to talk about. First of all, I’m pleased to announce that I have a U.K. release date for Sex, Bombs and Burgers. It will be out in bookstores there on Nov. 1, which means it will make the perfect Christmas present for all you folks in the U.K. I can’t see why I wouldn’t go over to do some promotion around the release time, other than perhaps a certain Icelandic volcano getting uppity again. The publisher tells me there’s already some good media interest, so let’s hope it goes as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Secondly, in my lament the other day about working in an armed camp, I talked about how it was possible that aerial drones were being used for G20 surveillance. I promised to try and find out more, and I did - it turns out I was wrong, that UAVs aren’t being used because federal aviation authorities won’t allow them over populated areas. The Ontario Provincial Police are using them in Northern Ontario, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be in cities any time soon. I still wonder if they really are being used secretly, but it sure doesn’t look like it in any official capacity. You can check out my full story on CBC.

Lastly, because I like to wind down the week on a humourous note, I thought I’d share a funny press release I got yesterday. It came from my favourite adult entertainment company, Pink Visual, and it was in relation to the newly launched iPhone 4 (they’re my favourite not because of the content they produce, but because the people who run it are obviously tech nerds with great senses of humour).

If you follow Apple, you’ve probably heard about the problems they’re having with the new iPhone. The iPhone 4′s antenna is actually built into the frame of the device itself, and the company has acknowledged that you can actually interrupt its signal if you hold a certain way.

Never ones to let an easy opportunity pass them by, the Pink Visual folks jumped all over it. According to the press release, the faulty antenna is actually part of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ plot to eradicate porn from the iPhone:

“Apple did their homework on this one,” said Dave Long, a disgruntled 37 year-old mobile porn user. “Over 85% of the world is right handed and watches mobile porn with their phone in their left hand. Now when my mom is out at the grocery store and I get a hankering to check out a little wireless erotica, I have to set the phone on a surface or switch hands and go all ‘stranger’ on myself. I think maybe Steve Jobs is serious about wanting the iPhone to be ‘porn-free,’ after all.”

The company’s brand manager went on to say that Pink Visual is working on a left-hand optimized mobile website to compensate for the problem.

Ha! You can read the full press release (warning: the link is a little bit naughty) by going here. Have a good weekend!

Categories: apple, iphone, Pink Visual, uav, uk

Adult industry watching YouTube closely

June 24, 2010 1 comment

Copyright, copyright, copyright. That’s all we ever seem to hear about these days. Here in Canada, we of course have the ongoing debate/battle over reforming our outdated legislation. It’s a situation that turned ugly this week with our Heritage Minister taking it to critics by calling them “radical extremists.” Of equal if not more importance, however, is yesterday’s ruling in the Google-versus-Viacom fight.

A U.S. judge handed Google a big victory against Viacom, which was suing the internet company for more than $1 billion over alleged copyright violations by YouTube. Viacom was upset that its video content, mainly music videos and chunks of TV shows, was being uploaded to YouTube by users. In its lawsuit, the company said Google wasn’t doing enough to keep such content off the site, so it was therefore guilty of copyright infringement.

The judge didn’t see it that way and sided with Google. He said Google qualified under the “safe harbour” provisions of U.S. law, which shields companies from infringement as long as they move quickly to take down copyrighted material once notified. Viacom has already said it’s going to appeal and the case will likely find its way to the Supreme Court. Some observers believe Congress will eventually get involved.

Lots and lots of people are paying attention to the case, as it could have far-reaching effects. Not surprisingly, the porn industry is lustily watching and awaiting the ultimate outcome (puns intended). Adult companies have their own personal YouTube - well, actually dozens of YouTubes - to contend with in the form of YouPorn, RedTube et al, which are sucking money from them like… well, let’s just end that analogy right there.

You may remember that a little while back, the industry put out their own public service video asking people to please, please pay for their porn and not watch it on the YouTube clones. That plea, not surprisingly, fell on deaf ears, so the industry is hoping Hollywood can do some of the heavy lifting.

“In light of this decision the Hollywood movie industry will be pounding on a lot of doors to get something done. They didn’t listen to [the adult industry] but the big movie studios they will and perhaps adult can benefit as fellow content creators,” adult industry attorney Clyde DeWitt told AVN (link is not safe for work).

Gill Sperlein, lawyer for adult company Titan Media, told Xbiz that the court got some things wrong in its ruling. “Specifically, the court ruled that an [internet service provider] must have direct knowledge of infringing activity in order to be able to control it. This is a departure from a long line of cases addressing vicarious copyright infringement.”

(Image courtesy of BNET)

Categories: Google, internet, sex

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