Happy Days are Beer Again

Low standards and sensationalism in Irish journalism seem to have become the benchmark by which we receive our news. I was listening to a radio news report that sensationally informed me that I would have to “go dry for 24 hours”.

For anyone not living in Ireland, the sale of alcohol is prohibited, by law, on two days of the year, Good Friday and Christmas Day. The ban, dating back to the foundation of the Irish State is not a new one. The Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1927[1] enshrined in law that alcoholic drink could not be sold on Christmas Day, Good Friday and St Patrick’s Day. However, the law relating to St Patrick’s Day was repealed in the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1960 to cater for visitors coming to country in order to celebrate the national feast day. But sales on Christmas Day and Good Friday remain prohibited for the majority of Irish people. Some exemptions allow the sale of alcohol to those travelling by sea, air or ferry; attending a licensed theatre; those attending a race meeting or a greyhound trial; those staying in licensed premises, such as a hotel, as long as it is with a meal; also in military canteens and in clubs.

But outside of these exceptions, the ban on a tipple has stood the test of time – opposition from publicans and sensationalist media reports not withstanding. After eighty five years it is hardly breaking news.

[1] http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1927/en/act/pub/0015/index.html


China’s fake Apple stores

The signs look real, the products look real and the staff all think that they work for Steve Jobs – but five Apple stores in the city of Kunming, southern China are fake.

A fascinating discovery by 27-year-old American blogger, BirdAbroad, after a few months away, her neighbourhood changed pretty fast, with three Starbucks, an H&M and, seemingly, three Apple stores popping up while she was away.

Grey slate floors, steel staircases, wood benches and staff in branded blue t-shirts. Everything appears routinely Apple. But look more closely and some of the branding is a little off (Apple doesn’t write ‘Apple Stoer under its logo) and the staff badges didn’t have individual names. The fake Apple store in China is so convincing that even its staff are fooled and appeared to think they were working for the real Apple. An astonishing piece of extreme bootlegging.

Although Kunming, the capital city of southwestern Yunnan Province is typical of China’s rapid development it is a relatively remote city and the intrepid blogger was suspicious. She looked up Apple’s official China site and lo – Apple has only four stores in China, two of which are in Beijing and two in Shanghai.

“Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple,” she wrote.

Chinese industrial and commercial authorities in Kunming started an inspection on all the city’s electronics stores. The inspection includes business licenses, authorised permits of brand use, and the purchase channel of each store.

Since the story broke several fake or at least seriously questionable Apple stores from Croatia to Colombia, Burma to Venezuela, Slovenia to Spain, and in a dozen locations in China. You also must appreciate the hilarity of the fake Hard Rock Cafe in Ho Chi Minh City and the fake Hooters in Cancun.

I don’t think for a minute that Apple will let this one go.


Peppa Pig is Evil

The brain grows at an amazing rate during development. At times during brain development, 250,000 neurons are added every minute! At birth, almost all the neurons that the brain will ever have are present. However, the brain continues to grow for a few years after birth. By the age of two years old, the brain is about 80% of the adult size (1).

Toddlers love to run and jump and getting both feet to leave the ground at once is harder than most of us remember. So jumping in “muddy puddles” like Peppa Pig is a fun way for kids of that age to learn and practice this skill.

The problem is that a two year old can’t distinguish what is real and pretend. My two year old daughter is a fan of the cheeky little cartoon character and her little brother George. It is difficult to explain to my daughter that Peppa is only a fictional character and just pretending to be naughty, cheeky, disrespectful and likes to eat “chocolate cake”. Not to mention the fact that George says “Yuck” to vegetables and only wants to eat chocolate cake too. Never mind expressions such as “so boring” and “blah blah blah” when you speak.

I wonder shall I ban Peppa Pig, or is that being totally unreasonable.

(1) http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/dev.html

Iron Sky - In 1945 The Nazis Went To The Moon

Iron Sky – Nazis from Space!

Nazis on the dark side of the moon. The Iron Sky movie plot is that in 1945 the Nazis develop antigravity and retreat to the dark side of the moon. Now its 2018, a Nazi invasion is over 70 years in the making and they don’t plan to goose-step accross Europe, this time it’s the world!

Finnish director, Timo Vuorensola and his crew will premier the move at 6pm in the Berlinale on February 2nd 2012. Plot aside, two features make this move special:

  • Iron Sky was made collaboratively by fans over the Internet.
  • Iron Sky was financed in part, by donations.

Fans collaborated to make the movie. Fans joined in creating ideas and content for the movie using the Wreckamovie platform. Wreckamovie does for movie making what Wikipedia did for the encyclopaedia. Founded by Star Wreck Studios in Finland, Wreckamovie.com is web site that makes it possible to collaboratively produce professional quality A/V content of all types: from short films to feature films and to all distribution screens – from Internet and mobile to film theatre. Established in February of 2007 the world’s first feature-length collaborative Internet film, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning had more than 8 million global downloads.

Paid for in part by donations. While 6.3 million euro in funding was secured through traditional film funding channels 900,000 euro of the budget was raised with crowd funding: securing money from volunteers via merchandise sales, pre-orders and an upcoming investment possibility, which gives you a chance to take part in this movie project.

There’s a lot to be learned when it comes to the future of film, both good and potentially bad. As movie budgets continue upwards, crowd funding offers independent film makers a channel to much needed funding. But call me old fashioned, is the creative aspects of a screenplay is a good idea?

Watch the teaser. If you like what you see demand Iron Sky at a cinema near you.


Stop “Irish SOPA” Legislation

On 26-01-2012 junior Minister Sean Sherlock proposed an “Irish SOPA”. The proposed legal amendment, whose final wording has not been released, raises fears that courts could be given the right to hold intermediaries such as websites and ISPs to account for hosting any material that might infringe copyright. This could include most online services.

The proposed legal amendment is in response to an Irish High Court action held in 2010. The action was between EMI Records (Ireland), Sony Music Entertainment Ireland, Universal Music Ireland Limited, Warner Music Ireland Limited and WEA International Incorporated and UPC Communications Ireland Limited. The media companies sought an injunction against UPC as an Internet service provider, to prevent the theft of their copyright by third parties illegally downloading it over the Internet. Finding in favour of UPC, in his judgment, Mr Justice Peter Charleton held that laws seeking to identify and disconnect copyright infringers were not enforceable in Ireland, regardless of the record companies’ complaints.

The media companies’ strategy towards copyright theft, seems a little bit like the Police prosecuting the National Roads Authority for assisting a thief driving to and from the premises stolen from.

Just like the now possibly abandoned SOPA and PIPA legislation in the US, Minister Sherlocks proposal, which has not been published at this point, could put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Internet businesses based in Ireland, such as our own indigenous Irish companies or inward foreign investment corporations could be closed down or discouraged from opening offices in Ireland. Sites might also be prevented from showing up in major search engines.

Consider signing the “Stop Internet Censorship. Stop SOPA in Ireland” petition here.

Stop SOPA | Stop PIPA

Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA)

Many websites world-wide were blacked out 18-Jan-20121 to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). From personal blogs to Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed.

To learn how this legislation will affect internet freedom, check out Wikipedia.