Steve Jobs And The Nuclear Button

Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Steve Jobs responds to the recent EU criticism of the iTunes Music Store with the only sane solution to allowing everybody access…

currently playing: The Mighty Wah! – Story of the Blues, Pts. 1 & 2

Red Nose Bon!

A Nation Remembered

If you haven’t downloaded the most recent Sweeping The Nation covermount (this time: the 1980s! But different!) just yet, then I heartily recommend it.

Also, the movement to get Lauren back in the studio starts HERE! Or something. It’s ten years since At The Club in 2007, which is a little depressing…

In EXCITING PRE-RELEASE ROUND-UP: New Low album is a bit of a disappointment, Arcade Fire is a little murky, but oooh, Electrelane…

currently playing: New Young Pony Club – Hiding On The Staircase

A Seven Year Old Writes…

In 1986, there was an easy way to show how cool you were; it revolved around the size, and the particular content of your Transformers collection. It was a complex affair; you needed to have the right balance of Mini-Autobots, Decepticon fighter jets, and mid-size Autobot vehicles. Bonus points were awarded for the gimmick-based robots that were beginning to appear (tripe-changers were good, but it needed to be an Autobot tripe-changer for proper Wreckers bragging rights). And everybody seemed to have Optimus Prime.

There were two main ways to get your collection declared the best. Firstly, if somehow (an uncle or aunt overseas, or plain dumb luck), you managed to get hold of a toy that was never officially on sale in Britain (e.g. Swoop, Reflector, the Deluxe Insecticons, I could go on, but you’d probably think less of me), your collection instantly rocketed up the list. However, the easiest way of making yourself king of the castle was Jetfire.

Original Jetfire

Jetfire was a little odd, as Transformers go. The toy didn’t look anything like the character in the cartoon. By itself, that wasn’t too weird; you only need to look at Ironhide and Ratchet to see how often the cartoon deviated from how the toys really looked (in most cases because the toy was hideous), but Jetfire was even given a different name: Skyfire. The reasons for this may never be fully known, but it was probably a legal hang-over from the creation of the Transformer toyline. For the first few years of Transformers, Hasbro/Takara took toys from various different Japanese lines (this is why many of the first toys have cockpits and seats, as they originally came with figures to sit inside them). Jetfire was originally a Valkyrie fighter from the Japanese anime series Macross and was made by Takara’s main Japanese rival, Bandai. As Takara couldn’t sell the Jetfire toy in Japan, they got the animation model and name changed to Skyfire. In the rest of the world, Hasbro sold Jetfire for a short time, before the distribution rights to the Valkyrie toy got increasingly murky.

But the real appeal was the toy. Now, the sad fact about the early years of Transformers is that most of the toys were rubbish. Giant lumps of metal that, if you were lucky, you could move the arms up and down. And perhaps to the side on very rare occasions. Jetfire, though, was different. Knee and elbow joints, full arm movement, and a moveable head made him the most posable Transformer toy until the advent of Beast Wars over ten years later. Plus, he came with clip-on armour to make him even cooler. All the kids wanted him.

I didn’t have Jetfire when I was seven, although I bought him off my friend about eight years later when he wanted to get rid of his toys. However, when I turned eight, I discovered Smash Hits via one of my aunts (we had fights on the playground over the lyrics of Heaven Is A Place On Earth, for goodness sake. Belinda Carlisle would have been proud of us), so it didn’t matter much really.

Jetfire with his helmet!

Recently, Hasbro launched a mini-line called Transformers: Classics. It’s a small assortment of figures designed to keep fans happy until the film toys come out later in 2007, the idea being that they’ve used the toy technology of the 21st century to remake some of the original characters of the 1984 line. So yes, we get an Optimus Prime and a Megatron, but also new versions of Starscream, Mirage, Grimlock, Astrotrain, Hot Rod, Bumblebee, and…Jetfire.

Jetfire without his helmet!

The new version is quite impressive, merging the Macross and the cartoon versions of the character into one toy. It has the full range of movement of the original, includes armour (with movable booster rockets!), but the best bit is that it comes with a removable helmet, so you can choose whether you want the cartoon or the original face! Awesome. I’m off to be seven. Tomorrow, it’s Tiffany and The Reynolds Girls. Consider yourselves warned…

currently playing: Blackalicious – If I May

LED Fun!

Oh, Boston…Boston Boston Boston…

Never Forget

currently playing: John Hodgman – The Areas of My Expertise Part 3 of 3

Hurrah For Redmond!

“It took us thirty years, but we’re about as secure as UNIX!”

“Come back in five years time when we rip off what Apple’s done in the meantime again!”

EDIT: Plus! Look what fun new screw-ups they’ve introduce to placate the movie industry!

currently playing: The Arcade Fire – Keep The Car Running

Oooh, look! Alien planets!

I’m beyond the point of wondering whether the new Doctor Who team is stretching themselves a little too thinly with all their spin-offs. Still, a cartoon could be fun, but this quote from Freema Agyeman is a touch disquieting:

as we tried to match our words to the movements of the cartoon characters

Now, I'm no expert, but normally, they record the audio tracks first, otherwise it just looks silly…

Also: Derek Jacobi as The Professor in Series 3/29. TIME LORDS. I'm telling you…

currently playing: Jim O'Rourke – Halfway To A Threeway

This post brought to you by TDP

Really, a UNIX without GNU is no UNIX at all. Especially if it has a harebrained license system built in as well. And given that it was bought two years ago, it’s unforgivable that it feels like something out the early 1980s.

In my varied computing career, there has always been a machine that sits in the corner, shunned by everybody in the office, because nobody is really sure how to work it. Unfortunately, this machine also tends to be rather important. At my previous job, it was an OpenVMS server that handled the payroll for the entire university. My co-worked introduced it to me as “the machine we hope never goes wrong”. By the time I had left, I had worked out how to do a manual backup, a restore, and basic troubleshooting. That made me the VMS expert. I was very afraid.

To sum up: I may have a very interesting 58 days ahead of me. As in ‘may you live in interesting times’. Hold me.

currently playing: The Jesus & Mary Chain – Sometimes Always

Hurrah for the Japanese!

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A fully-transformable Optimus Prime iPod dock. I…I’m sorry, I have something in my eye…

currently playing: PJ Harvey – Down By The Water