Friday, 20 November 2015

Alonso unfazed by rule changes

Fernando Alonso doesn't believe the changes to the start procedures that will come into effect at Spa will make much of a difference.

As of this weekend's Belgium Grand Prix, the FIA will clamp down on radio communication between drivers and the pitwall and only critical information will be relayed. Teams will also be prevented from changing the clutch bite point once the cars leave the garage ahead of the race.



However, two-time World Champion Alonso isn't expecting any disruption to his usual pre-race strategy.

"It will not be a significant change. I know that there is some talk about this but maybe for next year or the following years will be more different," the Spaniard said.

"What we will have here is just some restrictions in communications with the drivers and the team etc but I think... at least in our team we were not doing any specific communication or strategy during the formation laps etc so it will not change much."

There will be more changes next year as the FIA has issued a technical directive that states engineers will not be able to coach the drivers over the radio on things like tyre degradation and fuel saving.

Although the McLaren driver admits drivers will have to "pay a little more attention", he doesn't think it be a train smash.

"Well, I don't think it will make a huge change because... yeah, we are receiving some information now on the radio about tyres, about fuel or other things on the car but we are perfectly aware of what is happening in the car and what is the best solution for the specific issues that we are facing during the race so if that information is not coming, it will come anyway by instinct and by the reactions of the car," he said.

"So yeah, we will have to pay a little bit more attention to a few things that now we rely a little bit on the radio but it's not a big change and probably it's welcome, all those changes, to have a little bit more to do in the car and feeling a little bit more important."

It's difficult to see why F1 are strangling the communications between drivers and teams, One team does not gain anything over any other by relaying information over the radio, but as Alonso has said in this article on planetf1.com it's not an issue.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Too Much Monkey Business? US Lawsuit Attempts to Grant a Monkey the Rights to his Selfie (No, Really)

A group of idiots in America (where else??) are arguing that a monkey whose image was used in a wildlife book WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION should be receiving damages for copyright infringement.

Now, as we all know, the only thing more dangerous than an idiot with too much free time is a cluster of idiots with too much free time. In this way, the truly brainless can form a conglomeration of sorts, meaning that they can then work in shifts, creating a sort of stupidity barrage, which can be rather tough to avoid. High profile examples of this phenomenon include creationism, the people who called Kim Davis a civil rights icon and, a little closer to home, UKIP voters.

...You just don’t expect it from PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), an organisation that has been around for 35 years.

OK, here’s the skinny; four years ago, British wildlife photographer and animal rights activist David Slater was visiting a nature reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. He left his camera unattended, so a cheeky monkey named Naruto picked it up and snapped a couple of selfies. One of the pics was used in a wildlife book (for which Slater was paid) and now he’s being sued...For ripping off a monkey.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed (with a straight face, amazingly) by the U.S District Court in San Francisco, the pictures came from "a series of purposeful and voluntary actions by Naruto, unaided by Slater," as a result, says the lawsuit, "Naruto has the right to own and benefit from the copyright ... in the same manner and to the same extent as any other author,"

...Except for the fact that he ISN’T an author. He’s a f*cking monkey.

This whole thing brings to mind that old joke, lets see if I can remember how it goes: when is an author not an author? Oh yeah...WHEN HE’S A F*CKING MONKEY!



And once more, just to highlight the stupidity of the whole debacle...THE AUTHOR OF THE PHOTOS IS A F*CKING MONKEY, WHO TOOK A BREAK FROM FLINGING FECES ALL OVER THE PLACE TO PLAY AROUND WITH A CAMERA, TOOK A PRETTY DECENT PHOTO AND THEN F*CKED OFF BACK TO THE RAINFOREST TO GO ABOUT HIS MONKEY BUSINESS.

...It might be different if the monkey had actually PAID for the camera, or made the purposeful and voluntary action of ordering his own camera from eBay, or even if he’d gone online and hired Slater to photograph him. Then he might actually have a case (especially if Naruto had contributed to Slater’s travel expenses). But no, none of that happened. Why? Because he’s a f*cking monkey, that’s why.

To be fair, how was Slater supposed to have obtained permission?

PETA is demanding that the monkey be paid (in bananas, presumably) damages for the unauthorized use of his photos...Which is stupid like there isn’t a word for.

Apparently, US copyright law says nothing about monkeys asserting copyright over their works (which could pose a problem if they ever do manage to type out the complete works of Shakespeare) and, as a result, PETA feels that this is sufficient grounds to take a struggling photographer to court on behalf of a monkey who, quite frankly, doesn’t give a damn.

Damn those shortsighted copyright laws. Why didn’t the authors consider that, just 40 years after they were written, monkeys would benefit from their not being specifically named anywhere in the document? So now we live in this dystopian future where only those as super-smart as I are left alive to bitterly cry “DAMN YOU, YOU MANIACS!!!, DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!” (Thank you, Jay).

The only thing about the lawsuit which isn’t stupid is that the money (presumably after PETA recouped a lot of expenses) would go to the maintenance of Naruto’s natural habitat, which is doubtless a good thing.

Naruto is a rare crested macaque, a species that is listed as critically endangered. Their numbers have decreased by something like 90% in the last 25 years, largely due to extensive habitat loss.

...Except that, hang on, aren’t donations to PETA supposed to be going to that kind of thing, as opposed to dumbass lawsuits aimed at wildlife photographers who are just trying to capture the beauty of nature for us all to enjoy? I’m confused.

Oh wait, no I’m not. In fact, I could be in a lot of trouble, because my family’s cat once climbed up onto my desk and typed out a Facebook status, which I then posted. Ah jeez, I hope he doesn’t read this article, because that’s the last thing I need (he’s still mad at me about the whole castration thing).

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Angry Birds 2: They’re Back – And This Time...They Want Your Cash (Part Rant, Part Review, All News)

First of all, the mobile/tablet game that is Angry Birds 2 is, in actuality, Angry Birds 13 â€" let’s just get that out of the way right now, OK? Good.

Easily one of the most addictive video games of ALL TIME (era/format be damned), Rovio’s Angry Birds will forever be remembered as the most iconic game of the early smartphone era. In years to come, our grandchildren will watch amused as we indulge ourselves in dewey-eyed nostalgia for the birds, the pigs, the licensed merchandise and everything else Angry Birds related - in much the same way that those of us old enough do whenever the early Sonic, Mario Bros or even Pac Man games come up in conversation.

Now, after everyone on Earth has played it to death and after the Angry Birds image has been plastered on absolutely everything (I myself have an Angry Birds coffee mug), Rovio have released Angry Birds 2 which is bigger, badder and (apparently) better than ever.

In preparation for writing this article, I eagerly downloaded this new version, only to find that my iPhone couldn’t run it because the damned thing took up too much space. To better put this into perspective, the previous version of Angry Birds takes up 197MB, while this latest instalment eats up a whopping 255MB. Grumbling in a distinctly Yosemite Sam-like fashion, I deleted a couple of apps, closed down all my presently open apps and set to work trying to run the thing again...With no luck. Next, I drained 5 video clips and something in the neighbourhood of 70 photographs onto my desktop, deleting them from my iPhone before trying again. Still nothing.

So we’ve established that a) My iPhone’s storage capacity is pretty pathetic, but also that b) Rovio have really gone to town on this one, apparently mistaking a smartphone app for a PS4 game in the process. But that actually makes sense the more you look into the game, because if you can’t afford a bigger phone, chances are you can’t afford to play Angry Birds 2, either...

The fact that players using smaller phones/tablets need not apply is disappointing, but what has more players up in arms is the sheer amount of money making strategies the game employs.



For starters, Angry Birds 2 now comes complete with its own in-game currency system. Players can use gems in order to cover all in-game purchases (such as spells to make the levels easier). As the levels get harder, players can use these gems to make their challenges easier and advance further in the game by doing so.

However, like theme park money, you have to purchase any significant amount of extra gems with ACTUAL money from your own bank account. Secondly, if you fail a level and don’t want to pay for another go around with your hard-earned gems, you now have to watch a 30 second advert instead. Thirdly, thanks to the new Life Count feature, you’ll have to use gems (or money) in order to regenerate your character...Unless you fancy waiting around for half an hour between turns, that is.

In this way, Rovio have employed pretty much every moneymaking scheme currently used by app designers, all within the confines of one game. The effect is much the same as an insistent panhandler or perpetually cash-strapped friend bugging you every 25 seconds for money. Although most reviewers are quick to point out that such profit generating methods are common to mobile apps of every description, the big marketing blitz that has accompanied AB2 has gone to great lengths to make the game feel like a big, blockbuster event, whereas the game’s annoying habit of constantly asking you for money gives it a stink of desperation, causing reviewers to look towards the relative failure of Rovio’s recent games such as Amazing Alex and Retry as reasons for their newfound profiteering.

Now, I want you to imagine all those times you ran out of rings on Sonic The Hedgehog, right before the boss turned up. There was no rich boy get out of jail free function to buy more rings in those days. Putting the kibosh on a boss like that took effort, skill and a level head â€" and it made a man (or woman) of you. It put hairs on your chest (but hopefully only if it made a man of you first). Want a continue? Earn one in the Special Stage or don’t have one at all. Yessir, we worked for our power ups in the old days. Good times.

...Sorry, what was I saying?

To better put all the fan outrage into perspective, Angry Birds 2 holds you up for cash BEFORE the tutorial that begins the game is even over. In-app purchases are a key revenue source for mobile games developers â€" and it would be nonsensical to take a stand against them. To do so would be akin to demanding that ITV loses the ad breaks. However, I can’t help but wonder why AB2 is so heavily peppered with them.

Surely the idea is to be enjoying the game so much that you don’t mind making the odd in-app purchase, not to be absolutely bludgeoned over the head with popular video game characters repeatedly demanding your money.

In some respects, then, Angry Birds 2 appears to be the gaming equivalent of accidentally catching eyes with a charity troll on a busy urban street, mistaking their eye contact and slight smile for a sign of attraction and not noticing the GreenPeace shirt and clipboard until its too late.

That, or being mugged.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper Dies At 61

The world of professional wrestling is in mourning following the death of the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper last month. Piper suffered a cardiac arrest whilst at his home in Hollywood, California. He was just 61 years old.



For many kids (including myself) that first became fans in the mid-late 1980’s, Roddy Piper was the definitive wrestling heel (industry jargon for a bad guy). Whether hosting his notorious Piper’s Pit segment, or facing off against Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with partner Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorf) at the inaugural WrestleMania event, Piper was one of the industry’s biggest starts during one of its most popular and lucrative periods.

He was also instrumental in making the WWF (now WWE) brand the biggest in professional wrestling. In addition to headlining the very first WrestleMania event (a pioneering Pay-Per View extravaganza that could easily have ruined the company had it proved to be a failure), Piper also featured in one of WrestleMania II’s three main event matchups, thus securing his position as one of wrestling’s most bankable stars.

His undercard matches at WrestleManias III, VI and (the stone cold classic against Bret The Hitman Hart at) VIII are absolute highlights of a classic era of pro wrestling. He even acted as a guest referee for the main event of Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna at WrestleMania X. Younger fans, however, will undoubtedly remember Piper teaming with fellow veterans Ricky Steamboat and Jimmy Superfly Snuka to face Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV.

In an era defined by outlandish babyface characters with bodybuilder physiques and sometimes questionable in-ring abilities, Roddy Piper stood out as a genuine wrestler’s wrestler, an authentic tough guy - and the necessarily evil counterpoint to the simplistic, superheroic good guys being featured at the time by the WWF.

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1954, Roderick Toombs was always an unruly personality. Expelled from school at a young age and subsequently falling out with his father, (a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Toombs hit the road, staying in various youth hostels and earning a buck wherever he could. Eventually, the tempestuous youth wound up in a wrestling ring, making his in-ring debut at the tender age of just 15-years-old.

The kid was tough (he had a Black Belt in Judo), displayed a natural affinity for the ring and he had a roguish charisma all of his own. In addition, he really could play the bagpipes. After early stints jobbing in Verne Gagne’s AWA, NWA Houston and Fritz Von Erich’s Big Time Wrestling promotion in Dallas, Texas, Piper debuted for Mike and Gene LeBell’s NWA Hollywood promotion and soon became the outfit’s top heel. A slew of regional Championships followed.

Whilst working for promoter Roy Shire in the NWA’s San Francisco territory, Piper developed his character and ring work. In Los Angeles, he feuded with Chavo Guerrero Sr, Hector Guerrero and ultimately locked up against their father, Mexican wrestling legend Gory Guerrero (father of future WWE Champ Eddie). In The Pacific Northwest, he unseated former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco for Mid Atlantic’s version of the World Heavyweight Championship, a title he would go on to hold twice more.

In the mid 1980’s, Piper entered Vince McMahon’s insurgent WWF. He was billed as being from Glasgow, Scotland and was well known for being the only wrestler to wear a kilt to the ring. Fans ate it up. Feuding with such stars as Hulk Hogan, Adrian Adonis, Andre The Giant, Jimmy Superfly Snuka, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Jerry The King Lawler and Bret Hitman Hart, to name but a few, Piper always brought out the best in his opponents and it was with the WWF that he became a household name, as well as one of the industry’s biggest ever stars.

In the mid-1990’s, Piper wrestled for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), where he debuted as one of the company’s headline stars. He feuded, once again, with Hulk Hogan and also battled old rivals such as Ric Flair, Bret Hart and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Whilst working for WCW, he was even chosen to headline ‘Starrcade’, the company’s flagship Pay-Per-View event.

In his later career, Piper made sporadic reappearances for the WWE, briefly worked for TNA, enjoyed a reasonably successful acting career and also hosted his own podcast. He battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after being diagnosed with the illness in 2006, but had completely beaten it into remission as of last year. Despite the setbacks caused by his ill health, Piper wrestled his last match in 2011.

Although he never held a recognised World Heavyweight Championship, Piper will be remembered as one of the greatest WWF Intercontinental Champions of all time, a reign that was attested to during his appearance at this year’s WrestleMania XXXI, where he congratulated then-IC Champion Daniel Bryan on his victory. He also held other notable belts, such as the United States Championship, the WWF/E Tag Team Championship (with Ric Flair) and the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship.

Piper was a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, as well as the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Cauliflower Alley Club.

On the August 3rd edition of RAW, the entire WWE roster, each member clad in Roddy’s signature Hot Rod t-shirts opened the show with a very moving ten bell salute in tribute to the fallen legend.

WWE boss Vince McMahon said, "Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family."

UFC Bantamweight Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey dedicated her 34-second victory over Bethe Correia to Piper’s memory, "I just want to say that we lost a really close friend, Rowdy Roddy Piper, who gave me permission to use his name as a fighter (...) And so I hope him and my dad had a good time watching this today."

Former WWE and WCW Champion (and Piper’s frequent in-ring rival) Bret Hart wrote, “I can’t find the words to describe the sorrow in my heart upon learning the news of my dear friend, Roddy Piper, passing away. He was my closest friend in the business, a man that schooled me and guided me throughout my career. In fact, if it wasn’t for Roddy Piper reaching out to help me, I’m sure I would’ve been a mere footnote in wrestling. He was always there for me. He was family to me.” Hart also recalled that, following his stroke in 2002; Piper was the only wrestler who visited him in hospital.

Hulk Hogan, another of Piper’s famous adversaries, said of Piper that, “He was my best friend. He is a legend. God’s gain is our loss. May his family in this time of need, find peace"

Other friends, colleagues and admirers of Piper’s included former WWF Champ The Iron Sheik, who said “Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you Bubba” and multi-time World Champion Chris Jericho Tweeted, “Sorry to hear of the passing of my friend and Wrestlemania rival #RoddyPiper. One of the greatest who ever lived, but more importantly a legit sweet family man with a good heart”. Former WWE Divas Champion Paige called Piper a “legend” and Tweeted a picture of a broken heart, an image which reflected the feelings of many a wrestler and wrestling fan.

Roddy’s son, Colt, said that his father was his “best friend” and a “great man” saying that he would miss him forever and “always try to be the man he raised me to be”.

Rowdy Roddy Piper lived a life littered with accomplishments. Not many of us will ever be declared as legendary by our peers and fewer still will be able to stack 30+ Championship reigns anywhere on our resume, but those weren’t the man’s proudest achievements. Piper had been married to his wife, Kitty, since 1982 and is survived by her and the four children they lovingly raised together. My thoughts are with them, as well as everyone else who knew, worked with, or simply enjoyed to watch the late, great man work his magic in front of a capacity crowd. R.I.P Roddy.