Archive for May, 2012

31/05/2012

Ancient Tech – Philips SPC300NC Webcam.

Yes, I know today was supposed to be my first video blog, but it was my attempt to produce that video blog which led directly to this piece. You see it once more brings us back to my deep abiding love for Cretaceous Era technology. I’ve spoken at length about my graphics tablet, which is so old that I believe it may have been used by Nabopolassar to design the inspiration for the Tower of Babel. And I’ve given a eulogy dedicated to my beloved Asus Eeepc 701. However today it’s a very different piece of ancient electronics I wish to speak of.

Yes there it is above these words, standing in all its glory! The Philips SPC300NC webcam. A piece of technological wonder with its amazing resolution of 320×240. It’s hard to use “Still” button placed on the side, where you hand WILL cover the lens if you try to use it. It even comes mounted on a base that is almost impossible to get to sit quietly on the desk, because of how stiff it’s cable is (pauses for the moans to subside).

And yet I have been using this webcam for since 2009, and my Partner in Crime had used it for two years prior to that. I’ve maintained two long distance relationships via its pixellated eye. I experimented with animation using it with Windows Movie Maker…I don’t recommend it as anything other than an object lesson in how make things hard on yourself.

I also made my first attempt at a video blog with it. Let’s speak a little of that attempt. I’m sure most of you reading this have watched someone’s video blog on YouTube, and thought “Hey, I should do one of those!” I know I have. In fact I decided a few months ago that I needed to add a video element to this blog for several reasons. The main one being that some topics just don’t work through the written word, to have your viewpoint truly understood your audience has to hear your voice, see your face, and the emotions conveyed by both. Hence my attempt this week to record, and edit my first video blog.

My webcam is almost old enough to have been used by Cleopatra to chat up Julius Ceasar, and Marc Anthony when they were off on campaign. I can totally see her lying on a bed, cupping her breasts, and promising to share Ptolemaic Egypt with them, as she licked her nipples. I can also see the two boys (separately of course…though when it comes to those crazy Romans who knows?) watching this, and wondering what the hell they’re seeing. Because frankly unless you keep the received image TINY, you’re going to find yourself wondering why Cleo is showing you a fully grown seal, and promising you half of her kingdom.

Yes, the image from my attempt was that bad. At best I looked like I’d been drawn on a very badly damaged Atari 2600, at worst like I’d contracted leprosy, smallpox, and had been whacked in the face with every branch off of the ugly tree for good measure. Now, I’m not Charlize Theron. But I’m not a bad lookin’ bird, and so it was with utter horror that I watched the raw video of my first attempt at YouTube immortality.

“So how does this story end?”, you ask dear reader.

Well, probably with this…

Or something similar, has anyone any suggestions? (Seriously, all advice cheerfully received.) And with my old webcam being given the end it deserves, ending up in a box filled with electronic spare parts, waiting for the day when it might be called back into service…it’s how it would have wanted to go.

29/05/2012

What worries me about all this Euro-anger.

Shortly we here in Ireland are going to vote in a referendum. With that vote we are supposed to be voting against, or in favor of something called the Stability Treaty. Now, I’m not going to actually write about the treaty, because frankly that’s not what this is about, we should each make up our own minds on this. Instead I want to write about a related worry of mine.

We’ve been told that this referendum will decide if Ireland stays in the Euro zone. That’s fine, that makes sense, and it makes sense that if we leave it we can, like others who never adopted the Euro in the first place, remain in the European Union itself. But there have been rumbles about a “No” vote also meaning that we as a nation might leave the E.U. entirely. I’m not here saying that a “No” vote means we must leave, only that I’ve witnessed a lot of people voicing “we should if…”‘s.

There’s a lot of anger in Ireland right now. A some of it is justified. But like all anger of this type at least some of it is baseless, simply a nations frustrations spilling over. But regardless of whether that anger is based in fact or not it is a real emotion, and angry people tend not to think rationally. I fear that as a nation we’re not thinking beyond our anger. Not realising one of the costs of leaving the E.U.

A major part of being an E.U. citizen is the right to travel freely within the E.U., along with the right to be employed in any other E.U. country without a work visa.

So my worry is that in our anger we as a nation vote “No”. And this somehow leads to us not only leaving the Euro, but in a spasm of national anger also the E.U. But what happens to all the E.U. nationals living, and working in Ireland? What happens to the Irish citizens living, and working in other E.U. countries? What about the lives they’ve created for themselves? The homes they’ve found. The relationships they’ve forged? Does the politics of the situation just tear them apart?

I don’t know what way this referendum is going to go. I don’t think anyone does really. I don’t know if this fear of mine has any real basis in potential fact. But for the first time I really fear for our humanity to each other here in Europe, all based on how a club of scared, angry nation’s may cast their various votes in the coming months, and years.

I honestly don’t know whether a Yay or Nay will ultimately prove to be in our best interests. Everything in Europe seems to change day by day at the moment. I just hope that when it’s all over, and the dust has settled that we haven’t destroyed too many people’s lives. Though let’s face it, even one destroyed life will be too many.

26/05/2012

Amanda needs a break, so linkstorm day 2.

So day 2 of my writing break dawns with another linkstorm. Enjoy.

Let’s start with two of my favourite pieces of music. Both come from the same series of computer games, Portal. I’m sorry but you will be humming one of these for the rest of the day.

And YES! She will be linking nothing but YouTube today. Well one more thing anyway, in three parts. This cartoon is my favourite of all time. I’ve watched, and rewatched the entire series about 5 times. I never get bored of the story, though the damned robot does get tiresome. And I LOVE the theme tune. Pure 80’s musical rot, but in a wonderful way. Anyway the whole first episode. Enjoy.

And that’s your lot. Have a great weekend.

24/05/2012

Amanda needs a break, so linkstorm day 1.

Well I spent the past week in my home town minding my mom. She had just had a minor surgery, and needed some TLC along with a bit of DIY. So this combined with my getting a copy of Diablo 3 means that I want a short break from writing serious blogs. In the spirit of this I’m going to post a linkstorm today, and Saturday. Then back to normal Tuesday, and I hope my first ever video blog on Thursday of next week. So fingers crossed.

Anyway these are a few bits from the interwebs that have caught my eye in the past few weeks. So enjoy!

Bif Naked rocks!

I normally don’t do the browser game thing, and I know I am WAAAAAAY behind the times on this but I adore this game. It kept be semi-sane in Cork last week.

Robot Unicorn Attack Heavy Metal!

I always loved Labyrinth, after watching this review by the very cute Nostalgia Chich I love it even more. “Package!”

22/05/2012

Two Children Thrown to Their Deaths in Italy.

I was going to post something about the Stability Treaty referendum which goes to the polls on the 31st of this month. Then I read something in the news that shook me.

Today, well yesterday now, a 41-year-old man in Italy threw his 4-year-old and 14 month old children from a 6th floor balcony, and then threw himself after them. I don’t really know what to say to it. It just leaves me with a hollow, sickened feeling in my chest. What could drive a father, who was presumably loving, to murder his children, and then follow them? Will we have a version of this play out in our own country before much longer?

The best part of being a child is knowing that the whole future lies ahead. There’s always tomorrow for a new adventure…

I just don’t have words for this, except maybe to say that suicide is most often a tragedy, but robbing two children, your children, of their lives while you do it is beyond comprehension.

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19/05/2012

What’s the point of being…

While going through my search engine statistics for the past week I cam across a search that drew me up short. One person had asked Google, “what is the point of being lesbian”. Well I’m going to ask another question in reply.

What’s the point of being anything?

This sort of question is a personal bugbear of mine. This strange belief that people who exist outside of any way of living, seem to believe that there has to be a point to it.

You may as well ask “What’s the point of being…

male,

female,

Irish,

a beagle,

or how about the 300 lb gorilla in the room, straight?

Life, or any way of living it only has meaning on a personal level. Living according to the dictates of a mouldering, evil small-minded, bigoted, serial concealer of paedophiles seems pointless to me. But a simply huge number of Christians seem to feel there’s a point to it.

And before I get lynched for having a pop at Catholicism, I regularly get pointed informed by Christians of all stripes that it’s pointless of me to believe in fairy stories because I’m Pagan, and believe in Athena. Again, pointless to them, but has meaning to me.

As I think I’ve just proven (probably haven’t but that’s the sort fo thing writers are expected to say) Religion is a good framework to discuss this, though probably too loaded with pissy, cultural baggage. So for that matter would be sexuality, at least right now. So let’s try something more user-friendly instead. Let’s try kids cartoons.

When I was in my teens, cartoon fans seemed to be broken into two main camps in my school. On one side there were those who loved the Johnny Bravo style of cartoon. And on the other there were the X-Men style fans. I came down on the latter side of the debate.

I simply couldn’t see the point in watching a program that had no story-arc, had such childish drawings, and characters. And in truth I couldn’t see the point of a cartoon that lacked characters you could ummmm, “fap” to fantasies about later. (Gimme a break I was 14, and my testosterone stream only had small amounts of blood in it.)

Can’t we all just agree that Rogue is her own reason?

But I had friends who just didn’t see the point in watching a show where you had to put effort into watching it. Where if you missed a storyline you could potentially end up confused later in the series when they refered back to it. And in the words of one of those friends “Not even Rogue makes it worth all the effort.” Sacrilege of course, Rogue in any form is always worth the effort, but I did see his point.

So Amanda, where the hell are you going with this?

As I said life, any part of life, only has any real meaning from a very personal point of view. Literally through your own eyes. Some people break laws because…why bother? What’s the point? While most people don’t, I like to think because they see the point of us all obeying the same set of rules for mutual benefit.

Some people love a fast car, some don’t see the point.

Some people love superhero movies, some don’t see the point.

Some worship, some have children, some have great careers, some change the world, and some die by their own hand. Each due to their own personal perspective on the pointedness or pointlessness of the various aspects that make up each of our lives.

Is there a point to being lesbian? Or bisexual? Or pansexual? Or polyamorous? Or monogamous? Or straight? Or into the extreme hotness that are futagirls?

Yes, but it’s probably not really something you can understand, unless you’ve experienced it, despite the point actually being the same for any type of relationship. I think it always boils down to one sentence in the end. We all need to be loved, by the ones we love, whatever gender they may be.

And before anyone else says it, yes I agree…but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun. *waves at my partners, I’ll let ye imagine what I’m waving.*

17/05/2012

Five Songs to Cry to…

I think that almost everyone must have their own song that for no apparent reason will always put them in floods of tears. But there are also songs which most people will probably agree on simply being heart wrenching to listen to. So in the spirit of shared total misery, today I have decided to make as many of my readers as possible in to tearful wrecks. You’re all so very welcome.

Anyone who actually has these on their MP3 player, is verifiably nuts, and hardcore masochistic.

5: Who Wants to LiveForever? – Queen.

Originally from that classic 80’s movie “Highlander”, this song is to be the most heart wrenching ever sung by Freddie Mercury. Seriously I challenge anyone hearing this for the first 50 times not to end up teary-eyed. I know I never did.

Best listened to with a sword in one hand, and a box of Kleenex in the other.

4: When Somebody Loved Me – Sarah Mclachlan.

Have you watched Toy Story 2? Have you watched Jessie’s flashback to her first owner? Did you listen to that song? Did you cry?

You didn’t? Really?

You frikkin’ liar!

Best listened to just after you realise that your puppy is aging 7 times faster than you. Damn that’s depressing.

3: Winter Song – Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson.

Like probably 90% of it’s fans, I first heard this song at the end of the final episode of “real” Scrubs. It played to a flash-forward of J.D.’s life after leaving Sacred Heart. And you know what because of this piece of music it took me 9 attempts to be able to watch that scene through without breaking down into tears.

Best listened to while walking along a canal, noticing all the death, and decay in the hedgerow alongside it. (Emo or what?!)

2: The Calling – Regina Spektor.

Yes, I know, it’s from the soundtrack to Prince Caspian. Let’s forgive the female singer, who happens to have the coolest name ever, her need to earn a crust. This song just tears me apart when I hear it. The lyrics are tough enough on the old emotional centers, but when she reaches the chorus I just end up curled in a ball on the floor.

Best listened to…well someday best listened to when thinking about god children I don’t have yet.

1: Dance With my Father Again – Could be several people…

Okay speaking of my Partner in Crime, this one’s for her. I have no idea which version gets to her the most, but I went with the Luther Vandross version, because it’s the only one I know. Anyway I’m guessing I better have the tissues, and tea on standby after posting this.

Love you Rosie.

Best listened to from the kitchen while making tea for a tearful Rosie.

15/05/2012

The Selfishness of Some People.

I travelled down to Cork on Saturday to spend some time with my mother. After almost a week in hospital she finally was left out, and I needed to see that she was really okay with my own eyes. Well, I’m here in Cork now, which is fine. But it meant I had to travel by my greatest bug bear, public transport.

I’ve written before about the horror that is Irish public transport. To say that it is my least favourite way of getting from a to b would be to miss the chance to use some very imaginative foul language. But this time, Irish Rail behaved themselves this Saturday past, aside from holding the train I was on up for ages just outside of Cork City, for rather typical numbskullery.

No, this time what made my adventure in public transportation less than enjoyable, were my fellow passengers.

Let’s start with the guy who decided to pay at the ticket desk with what looked like the price of the fare, in one cent coins. Meaning that I had to sprint to make it to the train in time, when I should have had plenty of time to walk calmly over there.

Then we should move on to the older…gentleman, who had booked an aisle seat, and then refused to move his bag from the window seat because, and I quote. “I booked the aisle seat, and that gives me the right to the window one too.” This of course gave me the right to talk to the host assigned to the train, and have this Nimrod verbally castrated. I of course then took absolutely no pleasure what-so-ever in taking the window seat, thus serving as a living, breathing reminder of his defeat.

After this minor altercation I must mentioned that unidentified individual who decided that they owned the only working toilet on the train. Now, as we all know I have a severe bowel problem, I have spoken about it once, or twice. Sometimes I must have near instant access to a toilet. I have no choice in this. And in fact this is the only reason I take the train whenever I can, because I actually prefer the bus.

Now, when I say that this person decided they owned the toilet, I don’t mean they spent the whole journey in there. Actually the toilet was empty for most of the trip, for a very good reason. You see when I said they felt that they owned it, I meant that they chose to mark their territory, with whatever came to hand. And apparently what came most quick to hand was, and there’s no other way to put this, shite.

Yes, apparently you do.

Yup, they seem to have painted the one, and only working toilet on the entire train, with their own shite. And I had REALLY bad diarrhea that day. And I couldn’t hold it.

I didn’t have a shower when I got to my moms. No I boil washed myself, and then took all of my skin off down to the muscle tissue beneath. It was probably the most disgusting thing I have ever experienced, and I have pee’d in the mens toilet in Cork City’s bus station. So I know the meaning of the word “disgusting.”

I get that some people are just anti-social, in minor ways. I get that some people don’t like to share their space, on a near empty train, I love two free seats to myself as well. But can’t we all agree that people who paint a public convenience with balls of their own shite need to be locked up with car batteries permanently wired to their testicles?

12/05/2012

I miss being a Miss so badly.

I wake crying (yup, it’s emo-Amanda again). Not an uncommon occurence for some people, but this time it’s different. Waking in tears because of physical pain is one thing, a very normal thing for me, just another part of another day. But for once the tears have nothing what-so-ever to do with my body. They are purely to do with my heart.

Right now I have a wonderful Miss. One part of my nature fulfilled by spending my days, and nights trying to make her smile. Though admittedly usually with the result of annoyed grimaces, rather than happy smiles. But it’s the thought that counts surely?

I think I might have a boyfriend. I hope I might have a boyfriend…ummm well anyway, I’m dating a boy. And to my joyful surprise being around him makes me happy. Makes me feel wanted, and attractive.

But it’s not those parts that make we wake with tears soaking my pillow. Those parts fill me with joy, and make my world sparkle. No it’s the part of me that is at the very core of who, and what I am that has the broken heart. And worse a break that can’t be fixed by me.

I miss being a Miss.

I miss it so much that it hurts like a physical pain.

I don’t miss “playing”. BDSM isn’t a game to me.

I don’t miss being able to say “this is my Slavegirl…”. Being a Miss to someone is my deepest personal life, something shared with those I love most in the world, and those rare people who understand what it truly means.

No I miss being needed, wanted as a Dominant.

I miss having someone I adore, who adores me in that unique way that only occurs between Domme and Sub.

I miss having to read the needs of someone who, by their own will I possess physically, and emotionally.

I miss having the duty to use that “read” to help them excel in their lives. The way my Miss helps me.

I miss being their sword and shield. The one they turn to for protection.

I miss being the arms that hold them when they fear, rewards them when through exceptional hard work they succeed beyond all expectations, and punishes them when they deserve it.

I miss being taken care of by someone with soft, submissive  loving eyes when I need to be.

I miss taking care of them, because nothing matters more to me than their well-being.

I’m a Dominant without a heart to possessively hold in my hands. Without a leash that rests lightly in my grip.

In short I’m just a girl with a really weird skill-set. Not a Miss. Not a Domina. Not a Mistress. Just a girl who has only just realised that every night for a year her last thought has been a whispered prayer to her Goddess. Just asking for a little help to find the little one who might mean she can again be called a Miss. Because frankly that’s the most loving, highest calling she can ever imagine living.

10/05/2012

The Two Asshole Types of Rebloggers.

Reblogging is part and parcel of being a member of the blogging universe. If you write well on a given subject, sooner or later your work will be reblogged. It’s simply something that has to be accepted. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a good bitching session about the asshole rebloggers.

But first let’s speak a little about the legitimate ones. These are the people who read your blog. And then think, “Wow, that’s brilliantly written, and matches my views so well I really must share it with the world. But I better ask the author first!” See the last part of that? The bit about asking first? Yeah that’s what marks out a polite reblogger from an asshole reblogger. They actually have the manners to ask if you would mind first.

Sometimes that’s not possible, and instead they will add a short explanation to their reblogging of your work. “This work belongs to…their main site can be found at…you should REALLY go there, ’cause they’re awesome!” That’s pretty polite too.

There might even be other types of nice, legit rebloggers out there. But I haven’t met any of them yet.

I have on the other hand met two particularly assholish types of rebloggers. One type is just outright so, and the other probably thinks of themselves as polite, and legit…but aren’t. Oh which to speak about first, hmmm.

You wake up one morning, and log on to your admin page. You know just to see if anyone commented while you were asleep. Because apparently the rest of the world doesn’t stop while you sleep…but anyway you log on. And there in your comment box is a pingback report. The funny thing is that you don’t remember writing anything that linked back to an earlier post the previous night. But you follow the pingback to its origin, and find that it’s linked to a website you’ve never heard of.

That’s cool, after all I’ve probably only visited .01% of the internet at this stage, and most of those were BDSM websites, or guides to playing an Orc Huntress better. So you look around, and discover that the site your on exists for one purpose only. To “borrow” other people’s work, link back to them, and make sure that visitors are infinitely more likely to see the dozens of Adsense buttons they have littering 75% of the page.

Yes that’s right they’re using your work to generate revenue. And someone said there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

The funny thing is this person probably thinks there were polite. After all, they did only post an excerpt from your work, and then added a nice bright blue link back to your homepage. How nice of them. But they’re still making money off of your work, and they still didn’t FUCKING ASK FIRST! *coughs*

To make matters worse, if they even have a way for you to contact them, it’s probably broken. That way they can feel like they’re open and approachable, while actually being even more of a shower of assholes.

So that’s one type, what about the other?

Oh they’re just outright thieves. Let me tell you a story. It’s a story of glory, of theft, of battle, of assholes!

A year ago I wrote a piece on alternatives to oil. It wasn’t very well received, but hey them’s the breaks. It was however outright stolen. Some little prick from Turkey decided that it was so good, he just had to have it. A little “Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V”, and as far as he was concerned he owned it. He was so happy with “his” work that he then posted it on his own website. A site that had NO way to contact him. But also had no advertising or anything else on it. Nope, in fact all it had was a by-line where he announced to the world that he had written that piece.

Wasn’t that nice for him?

It was until I start pelting his blog provider with complaints, logs, and a link proving that my piece had been posted almost a month before “his”. It was wonderful how quickly his site vanished forever, or at least as close to forever as exists on the internet, as I’m sure Google have an archive of it somewhere on their system, right there alongside the deeds to my soul, and the remains of Lindbergh baby. (If you don’t recognise the reference you should ask your grandparents.)

It’s hard for me to decide which of these are worse. The ones who make money off of your work, but at least give you credit for actually being the author. Or the ones who just outright steal your creativity, and then pass it off as their own. Maybe you know an even worse type, do you?

But regardless of which ultimately proves to be worse, they’re all assholes, and they should be beaten slowly to death by a rampaging horde of two-year olds, armed with socks filled with snookerballs.

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