Sunday, 18 December 2011

5 Things About YouTube Culture That Anger Me

  1. Copy and paste comments. “If you do not c&p this to x amount of videos within y hours/minutes/genericunitoftime, some COSMIC HORROR will end your life in a humiliating and probably distasteful way!!! SAVE YOURSELF YOU GULLIBLE YOUTUBE USER!!” What annoys me, no, depresses me about this is that people are gullible enough to copy/paste this crap in the first place. Still, I guess kids (or stupid adults) need to learn about idle threats sooner or later. I have gone years without a single Timmy showing up at my bedside with a bloody knife, and I'm still waiting for that vengeful ghost to waft into my room and smash me against my keyboaWrehy tedsjkdytsry ds7e6mre.,7 tuc kyfufgvuitl 7u jked8;ptpjsyr nbduy

  2. Bob. You remember him right? That little ASCII stick figure accompanied with something along the lines of “This is Bob! Copy and paste him to as many videos as you can to help him take over YouTube!” This pisses me off, not just for that frickin' cheerful stickman in the first place, but the war that ensued after it became big. First it was other users bemoaning the spread of the pitiful meme, THEN there was the even more cringe-inducing counter-attack. “This is Bunny! Copy and paste him to as many videos as you can to defend YouTube against Bob! (Oh, a saviour. Hoo-BLOODY-ray.)” As YouTube is (mostly) past its “immature” stage now, we no longer have to worry about this. Still, fear lingers in the back of my mind that it may return one day.

  3. Badly-executed tutorials. Tutorials exist on YouTube for almost everything you can imagine, and some have helped me immensely (especially when it came to video editing and harvesting corn from my vegie garden). However, to get to the good tutorials I had to wade through a whole lot of poor ones. The “90% of everything is crap” rule is demonstrated nowhere better than here. Bad frame rates from using freeware screen capture programs? Check. Poor-quality mics? Check. Using (God forbid) real time typing in Notepad and Word to communicate to viewers, usually beginning with a cringe-worthy “Hi YouTube”? Check. Using the pop song of the week as horribly jarring background music? Checkmate. Some tutorials even exist for things that don't really need tutorials, things that a monkey could figure out how to do. Whenever you turn to the internet for help, hope and pray that the end result is worth sitting through all the well-meaning but unwatchable “guides” out there.

  4. Slideshows. Whether it be about a person's favourite fictional character(s), a band, a sports star or stock images of “beautiful scenery” that everyone has already seen before (AAARGH), slideshows are everywhere on YouTube. Using pan, zoom, spin, colour cycling, whatever cheap video effects/transitions are at their disposal, and so painfully obviously made with Windows Movie Maker, these are the scum of the Earth, and numerous to boot. Maybe someone should start up a new website called SlideTube or some crap, where people can exclusively upload their awkward slideshows. Why? Because YouTube is a video-sharing website. And slideshows are NOT videos.

  5. 009 Sound System – Dreamscape. OH GOD, DREAMSCAPE. I hope I never have to hear that piece of music ever again. Oh, and that other song by 009 Sound System. Uh... you know the one? The title escapes me. Anyway. I guess Dreamscape isn't the worst song ever when you look at it objectively and don't take context into account, but when you think about the fact that video after video AFTER FREAKIN' VIDEO about almost anything (from that which is described above in points 3 and 4 to game footage) uses this song, you may begin to understand why I tense up whenever that first vocal note starts. “Aaaaah-aaaaah-aaaaah. Aaaaah-aaaaah-AAAH-aaaaah.” GET OUT OF MY HEAD. NOW.

Hmmm. I have just realised that “SlideTube” could very well be taken the wrong way. But no matter. Tally-ho ladies and gents, thank you for not knocking me off my soapbox. You're all beautiful. I'm out.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Toddler Woes

I amble into the supermarket, Mother Dearest and her shopping trolley by my side. My mind is swarming with the possibilities of what culinary delights we may happen upon in this temple of provision and sustenance. I am looking forward to choosing ingredients for the tasty Calzone I will be preparing for the family in two nights' time.

We enter via the bakery, and things are looking up. I am itching to race over to the open refrigerated shelves where the cheeses and sausage meats are stacked, so that I may select only the finest for my debut as a prime Italian chef. However, I elect to stay with the woman who brought me into the world, and “help” her with the bread, fruit and vegetable selection.

But then, the inevitable, but no less dreaded, happens.

It begins as a distant whine, like a Klaxon siren – but then, as it nears me, it gains a more primal, human quality. My eyes widen in horror as all other noises of the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall melt away, and there is only the anguished, stroppy screams of a scorned toddler.

I slowly turn around to behold the hellish phenomenon creeping ever closer. There, weaving through the fruit stands, is a trolley housing a child that would barely be two years old. Pushed around by a young woman who is looking a bit frazzled and worse for wear (and who can blame the poor thing?) the little girl is the very picture of ungrateful dissatisfaction with her circumstances. Maybe she didn't get that toy or chocolate bar she wants so very much. Maybe she had been reprimanded for snatching something off a shelf. Or maybe she is just tired and wants to go home, electing to take it out on her long-suffering Mother. Whichever option came to pass, her mouth is wide open, her eyes are red-rimmed and wet, and her cheeks could pass for Niagara Falls with the amount of tears running down them.

I stand there, frozen by the annoyingness of this unfortunate event. I try not to stare – as aggravating as the child's yells are, I do not want to make the Mother feel worse than she already does. But I cannot help but be slightly vexed by the fact that the kid is even here in the first place.

I mean, come on. I know that a shopping centre is a public place. I know that people go there for a reason (mainly TO KEEP THEMSELVES ALIVE). But if it's a public place, then surely there should be some consideration for the needs of others – when I'm walking around and trying to think or trying to speak to someone, I shouldn't have to be thrown off or interrupted by a 2-year-old attempting to shred their vocal cords.

So what can be done about this? The kids don't like the situation, I don't like the situation, so really the best option is to ban all children under the age of 7 from shopping centres... or, at the very least, from the supermarkets. Yes, there are those that won't like it, but wouldn't you agree that the benefit outweighs the cost? The young Mums won't get embarrassed, the kids won't get agitated and their vocal cords will live to fight another day, and I get to walk around the shops in zen mode forever more.

You know it works.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Am I betraying myself?

If you are a personal friend of mine, you will know that I am very passionate, and openly picky about my music.

Any of the music that my lady friends listen to I absolutely despise. Stuff like Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Ke$ha, or any of the other manufactured crap the pop music industry is churning out to please the masses – though thankfully, bless their dear hearts, they don't listen to Justin Bieber. Other stuff that a few of my mates listen to, like hardcore techno, screamo and metal, I can tolerate (To this I will add as a side that Symphonic Metal is something that I actually quite enjoy), but you wouldn't be able to get me listening to it regularly.

The music I have on my iPod is a little more... classic. Stuff like Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Dire Straits, ELO, Tears for Fears, Van Halen, Queen, AC/DC, even the Bee Gees. Anything before 1995, I'm okay with, because back then, not all songs on commercial stations were about partying and gettin' down on da floor. They didn't have highly annoying, sickly sweet electro-pop soundtracks. After about 1996, pop music started going down the drain.

Oh, don't get me wrong, there's still good stuff out there coming out today. José Gonzalez, The Living End, Arcade Fire, Forever Never, deadmau5 and others are all quite good. It's just quite a shame that they often aren't as popular as they should be, despite a high critical opinion.

So you can see that I am pretty much dead set in musical taste. However, something has happened that has knocked me a-kilter and made me question myself and whether I am really that sane in my own right.

That thing is Dubstep.

I fully expect internetty rotten tomatoes to be thrown at me for this. Yes, I have made fun of Dubstep in the past, as have many people. Initially, it appears to be nothing more than a mishmash of weird sounds and minimalist vocals laid over an over-produced stomping beat. It also seems at first that the “artist” had nothing better to do than mess around with the bass and make it sound like a robot a few times, releasing it as is for giggles.

But that, for me at least, is beginning to change.

It began with me browsing Minecraft videos on YouTube. (Fantastic game, by the way.) I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but most of the Minecraft videos I've seen, more showcasing creations than Machinimas, have dubstep music as a backing soundtrack. Either loads of Minecraft players like Dubstep, or loads of people who listen to Dubstep play Minecraft. Either way, most of the time it was the normal, crappy stuff which I had come to expect from music of this genre: no tune or melody in sight, and vocals manipulated so extensively they no longer sounded like anything at all. Then I hit upon a video using the track “Blue” by Dubba Jonny. Something in that song sparked my curiosity; What follows is what I went through after searching out the song so that I'd be able to listen to it by itself.

It could be compared to watching a nuclear explosion devastate some old, beautiful countryside – the explosion being the fury which I had just unleashed in “Blue”, and the countryside being my familiar pop-rock landscape. This song, this... thing, was destroying everything I thought I knew and loved, in a blaze of energy and delirious destruction. And yet, I could not help but be in awe at its magificence, the power it carried with its bass and fat drums. The bass and the way it is manipulated could be likened to Tsar Bomba, the biggest Nuclear bomb ever detonated, or a KFC Double Down. One part of you recoils in shock and thinks “How COULD you?!”, while the other part sits there, wide-eyed, like a small child, thinking “Holy crap, that's awesome”.

So, what does this mean for me? I guess it means that, after years of hardline stance on music, I am finally beginning to broaden my horizons. Either that, or I'm going crazy.

I honestly don't know.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Noise Restriction Nonsense

This is a post I published early last year on RaceDepartment, a motorsport and racing game community site. It is reposted here, edited slightly because of my less cloudy and more discerning mind nowadays, for your enjoyment. Despite its age, the issue it talks about is still very much one that needs to be discussed.

Britain – a country with a rich and diverse motor racing history, with many F1 world champions, some awesome tracks and some of the most avid fans – not to mention the home of car and engine manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, Cosworth and others.
And yet, it seems that some members of the public are intent on stifling this favourite sport of mine. Apparently, they don't like the noise that the race cars produce, and have lobbied for noise nuisance orders to be issued so that they can sit and read their newspapers in peace. Sadly, most of their attempts have been successful. Two famous british racetracks – Castle Combe and Snetterton – have had to limit the number of days/weekends of racing per year due to noise nuisance orders being issued by their local councils at the request of residents. And in 2009, that greatest of circuits, Spa-Francorchamps, was threatened by local residents... complaining about the noise.
In Castle Combe's case, this was particularly crippling; the British Touring Car, British Formula 3 and British GT Championships have not been allowed to return to the circuit since 2005 - the cars, apparently, were too loud. And for Snetterton, its owners had to reach a compromise with the local council: limiting the number of unsilenced cars on the track at any one time, and limiting the amount of time the vehicles are allowed to run.

This annoys me to the highest level. I cannot even begin to comprehend the sheer nonsense of this situation. Yes, some people find the sound of an unsilenced car annoying – though it is an aural symphony to fans like me, I can understand their point of view. What I don't understand is why these people insist on spoiling the enjoyment of millions for the "peace" of a mere few.

If the residents in question are that serious about eliminating the sound of race cars, they should probably go somewhere where there aren't any cars racing. Simply moving away is the most bleeding obvious solution, but nevertheless there are a few deeper questions that need to be asked of these ignorant residents.

Just how many of the complainers have lived in the area for a long time, ie. more than a few years, and are therefore accustomed to the sound of cars coming from afar? Not many, I can assume.
Continuing on from the first point, how old are these annoyed residents? Castle Combe and Snetterton opened for racing in the 1940s and 1950s respectively, and Spa has been holding races since 1921. I don't think many of the residents would have been born before these tracks were opened; therefore, the track in question has been around and making noise longer than they have!
How many of the angry residents did their research before buying their house? How many took a look at their area's local attractions and thought “Oh, there's a racetrack near this house I'm going to buy... maybe I should think about getting a house somewhere else,”? Honestly...

Furthermore, these people seem to be conveniently ignoring the fact that race tracks are a major tourist and traveller's attraction. Motor racing costs money, but it also brings money in as well. The BTCC and related championships have always been popular, and are a major drawcard to a local area. Are these residents not noticing that Snetterton and Castle Combe bring a lot of visitors in, with quite a few quid in their pockets? A circuit is quite a useful tool for boosting the economy of a town or city, and the select few intent on destroying what means so much to so many people are either ignoring it or unwilling to acknowledge it... or maybe they're too brainless to realise it.

Anyway, it's getting late as I type and my brain's starting to get a little sluggish, but I feel slightly at ease now that I have vented my frustrations about these ingoramuses who populate little English villages near famous race circuits. The men and women whining about the buzzing and rumbling of motorsports can have their quiet afternoons, reading their Sunday paper. But in the process, they are killing jobs, and the entertainment, monetary and historic value of a place close to the hearts of many, many fans.

And they have no-one to blame but themselves.

Friday, 15 July 2011

My game is better than your game, Hurr Durr.

You know what really pisses me off? Fanboyism. The aggravating habit of unwavering loyalty to your favourite movie, sport, clothing brand, etcetera. You can find fanboys, with the odd fangirl (or is it the other way around?) in almost any area of life that caters to consumers, and leisure time is no exception. In today's active and sometimes confusing world of the Internet and online gaming, people have come to expect more and more from their video games and gaming experiences as technology has advanced. We now have video game producers hiring professional voice actors, utilising motion capture and developing graphics technology that makes your jaw drop, among other things.

One genre in which the above and more is exceedingly evident nowadays is First Person Shooters. Before I continue, let it be known that I am not a regular player of FPSs. I am a sim racer at the core, and I get more out of hustling a virtual race car around a virtual race track than I would with anything else concerning gaming. Aside from the atmospheric single-player adventures such as the brilliant Halo and Half-Life series, and quick deathmatches with friends at a LAN party, I really don't care much for games in which you hold a virtual gun and spray bullets everywhere. This does not mean that I don't respect the popularity of this type of game - the ilk of Call of Duty and Battlefield are among the biggest-selling games of all time, and have by far the biggest following (bar MMOs such as World of Warcraft).

Unfortunately, the huge following of FPSs means that there is bound to be a higher percentage of stupid people that happen to be more vocal than the intelligent ones. These are what we refer to as “Fanboys”; those who swear alliegance to their chosen game, and who verbally crush those who dare to oppose it. One only needs to look at the official Facebook page for the upcoming Battlefield 3 to see a prime example of what I am talking about. Heck, I don't even need to scroll down very far to see some truly sad individuals. One person (who shall remain nameless) has written a post compelling his fellow BF fans to “[...] Spread the word of Battlefield 3 and all of Battlefield's games!!!” He continues by saying, “Together we can all take down Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Black Ops!!!!!” and finishes by saying “Long Live Battlefield!!!”

I mean, really?

You could be forgiven for thinking that I'm getting worked up over nothing here, but doesn't this annoy you in the slightest? I am aware of the fact that Call of Duty fans are just as bad, but therein lies the problem. It's not just online servers, it's the Internet itself that is the battlefield. Everywhere I go, I see people spraying vitriol at each other over which game is better or worse. I see enough of it in the sim racing community I am a part of (despite it being my hobby which I love dearly, I believe there is no community more ridden with elitism and snobbery than that of sim racing) – there is no escape from the wars of words that plague discussion forums, YouTube comment threads and Facebook groups.

And now it's leeching out into real life as well. The reason I was inspired to write this column is because a certain person I know very well has recently taken to charging into my room and venting to me about how CoD sucks and how CoD players also suck – not to mention the obligatory utterance that Battlefield is better. Whenever I have tried to apply logic and balance to the situation, using the tried and trusted “each to their own” philosophy, I have suddenly become the bad guy by suggesting that one is not superior to the other.
I suppose, as human beings, we just can't handle the fact that others have different tastes to us. “It's my way or the highway,” as they say. It's also a very real, and sad, fact that the most biased, negative and vitriolic of us are often the most vocal. As such, I don't feel a solution is at hand, or if such a solution will ever come about, so unique is the problem here. Still doesn't change my opinion – I don't know about you, but I'm getting sick and tired of this my-game-versus-your-game crap.

Then again, the Internet is where tolerance and common sense go to die. Is there no hope for people like me, who just want to enjoy whatever they do in peace?

Well, here I am.

So, Rhys has decided to start a blog. I have a lot of things in my life that just plain annoy me, in pretty much every area of life, and I need a place to vent. That's where the internet comes in. I'll be updating this pretty much every Friday, give or take a day or two, with something that really irks me.

Enjoy, or don't enjoy - your choice, it doesn't matter in the slightest to me.... but feel free to read on or comment if you wish.