My Book is Out Now!

Book cover: Digital Culture IndustryDigital Culture Industry:
A History of Digital Distribution

I’m very happy to announce that my book is finally out with Palgrave Macmillan.

If you’re interested in the history of peer-to-peer piracy and how it shaped digital media today this is the book for you. Covering, Napster, GNUtella, Kazaa, Streamcast, Grokster, BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay this comprehensive history is a great read for anyone interested in the field of digital media.

….if I do say so myself.

For a more comprehensive overview of the book head over to the book page where you can see reviews and chapter summaries.

There was a lot of research that went into the book, and a lot of resources to boot. If you’d like to see some of the things I made related to the book head over to this blog post and also take a look at the resources.

Available now from…


Progress Report: We Have a Spike in the System

Don't look in the closet

Just updated the videos on how peer-to-peer networks work to Youtube videos. Now they are available in glorious HD, with surround sound, 4D vision and an immersive simulator technology that makes you feel like you really are there…. in a diagram of a network architecture. Well the HD is cool I suppose.

Also having not checked my stats for the site in a while I was pleasantly surprised to see I reached a new daily peak of visits this week. I have no idea why there was such a spike as apparently all visitors reached the site entirely on their own (without an outside link or google search). Ego me wants to presume my website was cited in some high class lecture and then all the students simultaneously loaded it up on their iPads as in this fantasy the University is horrendously well funded.

However realist me also knows that not all visits to a website are human, and it may just have been a case of the spiders; a phrase which gives me the jibblies.

I have my Viva in precisely seven days, which is rather terrifying. A viva is essentially a time when you, after slaving for three years over a tome of 100,000 words, are questioned on it relentlessly by two very clever people. It’s the academic equivalent of the realising-you’re-naked-in-the-classroom nightmare; they may as well be picking holes in your soul.

Finally in other news I’m currently knocking out book proposals to a variety of publishers to see if I can’t get my history of digital distribution published. Responses so far have been positive so you never know I might be shamelessly hawking my book on here in a years time, we can only hope.

The Day the Facebook Died

Today I deleted my Facebook account. I have to wait 14 days to REALLY be deleted and even then I don’t entirely trust the Zuckerberg empire to remove my data completely. I’m sure my ‘favourite books’ and ‘quotes’ will be knocking around their databanks for a few years yet.

“Why did you delete it, do you hate people?”

People are great, but online they act odd. Facebook allowed me to see into the lives of two sets of people; people I see regularly, and people who should have been lost to time many years ago. The people I see regularly, I like them, but sometimes too much information can be a bad thing. I have insights into the lives of everyday acquaintances  that I wouldn’t have without FB and feel voyeuristic. It seems to me that, going against expectation, people share more online than they would in person. The mediation of the computer provides a false bubble of safety and comfort, meaning the general anxiety of bodily cues that would normally kick in when you were about to announce to a room of people your latest embarrassing factoid, don’t. I would rather engage with the persona that an individual willingly projects, rather than the one they have been lured into revealing.

Then there are the people that I never see in person. The vague acquaintances that, having met them once, forever-on populate my newsfeed. The people from school that, fifteen years ago never said a word to me, and now out of perverse curiosity or an odd networking OCD are now classified as ‘Friends’. They are ‘Facebook friends’ not actual friends. In a bygone age I would have completely left them behind, know nothing about them and have lost nothing in my ignorance. I’m sure they’re all nice people, nothing wrong with them at all, but I’m a firm believer that as time passes, you leave the majority of acquaintances behind so that you can retain the connections that really matter: FB was messing with that mojo.

Does it Hurt? How Do you Feel?

Just before I pressed the button to delete my account, I must admit to feeling that this occasion was incredibly momentous and much hung in the balance. Then I reminded myself that it’s a social networking site, not a newborn child and promptly pushed the button. Afterwards I had a mind rush of all the people that I would still like to keep in touch with, but don’t see them regularly, what will become of them? Have I consigned myself to a life of isolation, an offline existence without laughter, joy and companionship. Will I be left behind in my career now I am severed from those people that I met at conferences, swiftly friended and then never spoke to again? Probably not.

So you hate technology and the future now?

This is not a ‘technology is ruining my life’ statement of action, it’s a ‘Facebook, I don’t like you’ statement of action. Im still on other networks (Twitter, Linkedin, Google+) and that may seem hypocritical if you thought my actions were of an anti-social network crusader. I’m not anti-social-network, but I think they should be used for certain purposes. Twitter is great for tech-news and professional contacts. It’s a communications platform not a social aid. Linkedin is good for careers, it’s an employment tool, not a social aid. Google Plus is… well I don’t think anyone knows what G+ is yet but if I do find a use for it, I’ll make sure it’s not as a social aid. Facebook was beyond my purposes, it had come to supplant my relationships rather than enhance them and had made me socially lazy.

So goodbye Facebook, you shall not be missed.

**If you would like to join me and help work out what Google+ is for you can click this link for access to the restricted Beta.

Macbook Pro Fan Clicking: Possible Solution

** Update – 12th September 2013 – In the interests of full disclosure I should say that though this solution cleared up my clicking fan problem for a few months, I eventually took the laptop to get the fan replaced. The ball bearings were shot somehow and no amount of fan revving was going to fix it. It was under Apple-Care and was handled with no fuss.**

Those of you that follow this blog regularly (ha, I have delusions of grandeur) will probably have no interest in this post. Yes I know I haven’t written anything for months, but life has been rather busy. When I next get angry about something digital culture related I’ll get back to it.

For now this is just a note that I hope might save some people some time and stress.

This morning I found the left fan in my new Macbook Pro (specifically mid-2010 unibody, but may work for other models) was making a low clicking noise. The feeling of dread kicked in as I expected to be driving over to the local service shop and losing my laptop to the bowels of their workshop for a week. I realise that a clicking fan isn’t that big a deal for some, but when a computer is new (and as overpriced as Apple’s are) you expect a degree of perfection.

Anyway, a quick Google search brought about some DIY answers.

1. Blasting the fan vents with compressed air. I’ve never used compressed air before due to horror stories of the pressurising liquid in some cans spraying out all over your nice shiny silicon. Also one individual who tried this found that during the blasting their laptop made a distinct cracking noise…. not good. Keep away.

2. Open up your Macbook (doesn’t void warranty as long as you’re careful, you’re allowed to open it for harddrive and RAM replacements) and clean and re-grease the fan. I’m not averse to cracking open laptops, done it plenty of times before, but I was hesitant that I should be the one cracking open a brand new laptop and I wasn’t too confident that I wouldn’t end up accidentally greasing up more than the fan. Guide is here if interested.

3. So my SOLUTION which WORKED, for those of you screaming ‘Save me from the clicking!’ is this. I grabbed smcFanControl and used it to force the fans up to full speed, left it running for 30 seconds and then let the speed drop again, result, clicking is gone, leaving me to conclude that it was probably a hair or bit of dust gunking up the fan blades. Laptop is redeemed, my laptop hygiene standards are not.

This may not work for you but try it before submitting to the service shop where time stands still.

Disclaimer: Obviously you do this at your own risk. Also don’t feed the laptop after midnight.