Why YouTube doesn’t display “Broadcast Yourself” anymore

Did you know that ever since YouTube became a megasite, they began an epic battle on two fronts in order to streamline the place into this neat little corporate friendly cubicle? These two fronts are as follows:

-Reducing the amount of unauthorized copyrighted material on the site

-Reducing the amount of non-advertiser approved, user generated content on the site

YouTube’s copyright hysteria didn’t kill widespread access to conventional media; it’s now easier than it ever was than say, when I was a kid, to listen to just about any song you want without having to buy new raw material. But they very successfully killed the individuality and intellectual expression that we had in the pre-Google era of the website. This is painfully apparent to me when I watch opinion videos uploaded around 2007-2008 and compare them to opinion videos uploaded after about 2014.

 

There does seem to be this intuitive sense that’s tough to explain in which most Youtubers become more or less the same the more popular they become; they start using very similar and very ostentatious video thumbnails, generic introductions, even start repeating some of the same talking points, regardless of what side of the political spectrum they are on. I’ve seen this even on TYT, a network I’ve long felt to be a real outlet of the people.

 

There’s one YouTuber I’ve followed closely for years, who I won’t name, who seems to think that Google’s changes to YouTube somehow made the website’s “airwaves” easier to broadcast to for users with smaller fan bases, simply because the site’s changes did in fact make growth harder for some large youtubers (some of the stars of yesteryear, such as Fred, are now more or less irrelevant). However, he conveniently forgets that his own channel tailspun into obscurity JUST AROUND the time these new changes were implemented. I’m not entirely convinced by the cover story that he simply gave up on video game reviewing for the reason that he didn’t find it sufficiently profitable. Making youtube videos about video games is a low cost to no cost endeavor. Since most people who are interested enough in video games to review them online are going to be spending time playing them anyway, turning a screen recorder on each time they do and turning them into “let’s plays” or reviews isn’t something for which you have to sacrifice much time. It’s more likely that the guy is collateral damage of some of the same policies that killed his channel growth and he just doesn’t want to admit it.

 

Content access may not be where YouTube won, but they certainly succeeded at turning the vast majority of users into consumers, as one other youtuber predicted (a video that by the way, fell on deaf ears), rather than content generators, and it’s a far emptier and washed out venue for it.

 

So why did this transpire? The specifics are for another post, but long story short, Google wanted to make the website more ad friendly, and there were too many people posting at the turn of last decade that for one reason or another, didn’t match the controversy-free (see: they asked too many thought provoking questions…) image that helps mass advertising succeed.

 

Having once immensely enjoyed the freshness the site had in the late 2000’s, I fear this is a frontier that like the early United States, or the post-war economic prosperity in North America and eventually Western Europe, may never return.

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RIP, the iPod

And I don’t mean “ripping” music for the ipod…

I heard it yesterday that Apple will no longer be making iPods soon. I kinda figured this was on its way; the mp3 itself has recently been replaced in terms of licensing with a more efficient type of file and these days people aren’t as interested in gadgets that only function as music players…they could just use the mp3 player in their smartphones just like they use their smartphones as cameras, computers, and planners already.

That said, I’ll miss it. I still have an iPod touch that I bought back in 2009. Still runs quite a bit more smoothly than my new smartphone.

My thoughts on Transformers: The Last Knight

WARNING: This post contains spoilers.

Late to the party, but I finally saw the film last night. Here are some of my initial reactions:

  • The special effects just keep getting better and better. This work of cinema makes the 2007 Transformers look somewhat vintage in comparison. The light and colours meander through every last fibre of your optic nerves and I imagine could trigger a migraine in someone who are susceptible.
  • The Dark Ages angle was one of the most creative things I’ve ever seen this series do.
  • Anthony Hopkins was the acting MVP for this film IMO. His high ranking aristocrat motif is comical, but it works, as does his estate, a vast world of lineage, where he shows the main characters his historical connection to the events at hand. I was just slightly confused as to his motivations. It’s as though he simply wanted to see the world unravel before he died.
  • The robot butler was so much like C3PO on Star Wars that the writers had to take to acknowledging it so they could get a pass on the rip off.
  • Vivian and Mark Whalberg’s character should have gotten together earlier in the film. They were both clearly stressed out and needed a distraction.
  • There’s some discord in the plotline. Some of Megatron’s allies show in the beginning, manifesting as stock characters and then we never see much of them again.
  • Loved the vintage black car that Vivian was driving around in.
  • As did I like the weaponry and the robots that were helping the main characters throughout the disaster area.
  • I was somewhat impressed that Unicron destroyed some very important parts of the world, including many landmarks, before it and Quintessa were stopped. It shows the gravity of the situation, and the consequences of failure.

Lastly:

In the end, they did fail, because Unicron is shown to be on the move to return. Oops!


Overall, I think it was a great film, having a great deal more substance than many some of the previous Transformers films in the series. It made the relatively long length of the film feel like a bumpy ride rather than tedious. I’d certainly go see it again.

 

Better Call Saul Season 3 Finale: The Show that Almost Called Itself Off

WARNING: This entry contains spoilers. 

I’m hitting this a little late, nonetheless I had to follow up on my previous post about the popular Breaking Bad prequel. At the time I wrote it I’d become increasingly worried about the writers’ apparent hesitation to wrap things up climactically. This is especially considering that the season was around seven episodes in at that point. “How”, I pondered, “would the show be able to pick this up at the 11th hour and still land a season renewal after the finale was said and done?”

I’m glad to say that I’m pleasantly surprised; the last two episodes delivered well. Kim Wexler’s car accident, though in the long run just a temporary setback, was painfully directed to the interminable slack she’s been having to pick up, owing to Jimmy’s year long bar suspension. We can easily anticipate this is only going to strain Jimmy and Kim’s relationship as the shock of her accident wears off.

Still, the biggest upset, without question, would be the apparent on screen suicide of Chuck McGill, who’s spiraling madness had become something of a stagnant liability to the show, almost as much as Chuck himself had become a liability to Hamlin Hamlin & McGill. Maybe Chuck could somehow survive having intentionally kicked an oil lamp to the floor, sitting there as his living room burst into flames. But if we know Vince Gilligan, we know that when such a sweeping statement of character development is made, it sticks. To that end, we can presume Chuck McGill is dead.

I’m happy to say the show has been renewed for a fourth season, but waiting a year to see what happens next (and the last time around, I had to wait longer, due to production delays) is tedious considering that this season didn’t build things up the way the last season did. My speculation is that season 4 may be the last. The makers of the show seem to think people will stick around forever as a matter of reverence because the show was born out of the timeless sensibilities of Walter White’s Albuquerque. But take it from this Albuquerquean, even we are close to having had enough, as per the show’s decreased viewership.

So my advice to the writers would be this: tie up the gap between Jimmy/Kim’s storyline and that of Mike/Hector/Nacho, which seem to be running hopelessly parallel and separate at this point, and move everything else along fast. To quote the (likely) late Chuck McGill, “Time being of the essence.”

 

Anyone else worried about Better Call Saul – Season 3?

I’m happy to say that the issues between Netflix and AMC for Season 2 have been resolved and that Season 2 is now available on the streaming site. However, as I remain tuned in faithfully to the third season, I’m beginning to feel as though things are fizzling, rather than heating up. The show is spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with mundane aspects of Jimmy/Saul’s life, such as picking up trash for community service and trying to pay for the commercial time he bought when he hadn’t anticipated getting suspended from practicing law for a year. Even the side plotline involving Mike, Hector, and Nacho seems to be dragging its feet.

Friends & family who watch the show, as well as myself, are starting to worry that too many people will lose interest and that Vince Gilligan will entertain the notion of cancellation. It could happen if they don’t tighten things up. There are only three episodes left of the current season, which was delayed multiple times for production reasons. That in itself is often a sign of creative difficulties, and three episodes won’t be enough to wrap up the many loose ends, not least of which pertain to the insufferable Chuck McGill’s pending insanity. If the show doesn’t get another season, we’ll be left completely in the dark.

So in that case, yes, I worry. I am not of the position that just because Better Call Saul is based on the Breaking Bad universe that it will find itself safe from the cutting block despite not delivering what we should so reasonably ask! I hope the writers know what they are doing!

Have you ever wondered why many games are free these days?

Take for instance Final Fantasy Brave exvius. A game this elaborate would have cost upwards of $70 just a few years ago yet you can download this on your phone for free.

Sure it’s a good game but the companies that make them aren’t in the game business to make sure you’re entertained. They will make sure you’re entertained if they have money to make from it. These apps tend to access information that can be used to track your every move and to sell your consumer habits to third parties.

Think about that for a moment

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all of this is bad or that you shouldn’t Play app based video games. It just means that you should always consider what big company has to gain by offering services for free. In capitalism there is always an ulterior motive.

Bob’s Burgers: A brief overview

I’ve been watching this cartoon an awful lot lately. The first episode I ever saw was the pilot, and I hated it. It was hideously disorganized. I ignored it on Netflix until about a year later, when I decided to give it another chance. I was glad I did; even though the show certainly had a lot of evolving to do before it could even begin to compete with the likes of Family Guy (which I might add is passed its prime), it’s certainly lived up to the public’s expectations. I feel as though it’s actually a somewhat progressive show. That is, it employs a type of humor that other cartoons haven’t really experimented with. It’s filled with nuances that someone with a watchful eye for satire can appreciate. And that of course, is considering that their viewers are the same type of people that appreciate the subtle social and political commentary the Simpsons tends to put into their episodes.

The best episode I’ve seen so far is S03: E08: The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene. There are already mountains of sites that can give you an in depth plot line, and better yet, you should just watch it for yourself. But here’s a short synopsis. There’s an impossibly annoying girl at Gene’s school who develops a crush on him. Gene tries to get out of this forced relationship, but first finds out her father is a jingle writer for commercials and, being in the music business, has access to some pretty sweet studio equipment. Stuff like this:

This here looks like a hospital machine of some sort, but it’s actually a Music Production ControllerIt’s a very high priced switchboard used for sampling and recording and is generally only seen in recording studios. Gene is not a ‘real musician’ by any stretch of the imagination. His idea of a new composition consists of making fart noises with his keyboard and other electronics. In other words, he’s no up-and-coming Elton John. He doesn’t actually play anything, but he does have an interest in instruments nonetheless. So when he meets someone who has a whole studio full of them, it makes sense he wants access to that for as long as he can. But for that, he has to continue dating this annoying chick.

Well, maybe he’s an up-and-coming Weird Al.

He rationalizes it, saying he could tolerate Courtney if he didn’t have to see or hear her. This inspires him to write lyrics to a “remix” he calls “Silent Love”. The lyrics go something like this:

“When I close my eyes and cover my ears, it’s like you’re not even here. It’s a silent love.”

How insensitively insulting. That’s as though you’re telling them you wish you didn’t have to interact with them. The girl however, is too dense to realize it’s not a compliment.

More dense is that Gene believes this song will get him a record deal through Doug (who, again, writes jingles and is not a record producer…actually Bob points that out). But things go wrong while he’s playing the song at Courtney’s birthday party when she becomes so annoying he can’t help but yell at her. Since Courtney has a congenital heart condition, she has an episode resembling a heart attack and has to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The doc stabilizes her, but all the other kids now hate Gene and Courtney breaks up with him. This means no more recording studio for Gene, and Doug wants nothing to do with him. Actually Gene asked “Does this mean I can’t go to gear heaven anymore?” to which Doug responds “Not a chance in gear hell.”

He’s actually not as nice as he looks, as you’ll find out reading on.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that six months later, Gene sees his own lyrics appear in a commercial for a business called “Silent Muffler“. It would appear Doug stole his lyrics and used them for his next commercial jingle. Tough break. Doug probably made a hefty creative fee off the song and will likely collect residuals or royalties on the content for years to come. And nobody will ever believe some bumbling kid if he ever claims that his work was stolen. It would just be the kid’s word against that of a successful songwriter.

Of course, one could speculate this wasn’t the first time this guy stole some poor kid’s work and profited off it. Maybe he sees any “friend” Courtney invites over as a potential uncredited ghost writer for his next jingle. That’d be unbelievably menacing, but stranger things have happened in the music business.


The ironic misfortune here was that Gene’s unpleasant experience with this girl manifested in a commercial jingle that only the girl’s father was able to make money off of. And because she was clearly pretty spoiled, that meant more stuff for her.

Side splitting, if I do say so.

And that’s what makes this show so good. The perfect use of irony. It utilizes irony in a manner that Family Guy can’t do without an at times irritating over use of “cutaway sequences”. I get the feeling this show is going to become the future of cartoon sitcoms.

 

 

Internet shaming: online democracy or mob mentality?

The daily post on my political blog. Something you may like if you think internet shaming can be draconian.

Kapitalist Kitty

The New York Times seems to think it’s a concern, and I would say they have legitimate reason. With mob mentality on sites like YouTube and Reddit reaching unprecedented levels, a little taste of the wrong kind of exposure could mean irreparable damage to your internet image, and thus, your very reputation.

It would be one thing if the type of shaming the video refers to actually did reinforce helpful rather than harmful behavior, but in a world where comment ratings (and how they are perceived) lay subject to an easy internet vote, we have a very slippery slope underneath us. Hearsay and rumors have unlimited potential to ruin a person’s life before they’ve even had their metaphorical day in court.

This is what happened to Jennifer Connell, a woman whose nephew’s hi-jinks got her wrist broken. Nobody blamed the boy for it; these things happen with kids. But the…

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