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September, 2009:

Is There a Scam Letter in The Hobbit?

With a film adaptation of JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit now being made, Stephen Granades has re-imagined Thorin’s letter [^] to Bilbo Baggins as a Nigerian scam (419) email.

"Dear MR BAGGINS, Fellow Conspirator,…I and my twelve companions have agreed to give you 10% of the total gold and jewels that the dragon Smaug now rests upon if you can join us on our long journey. When you have agreed please tell us the place where you dwell and send one hundred pence so that we might travel to you." Live Granades – Hobbit 419 [^]

Stephen has tried to keep as much of the original as possible, but that hasn’t stopped commenters mangling the prose in order to get a more "authentic" 419 scam [^] style message.

I think that this small taste of The Hobbit has been enough to make me want to go back and re-read it.

JRR Tolkein - The Hobbit

Huntsman – 8-Legged Nightmare?

They are Australian, brown, hairy, and live in trees, but you don’t find tourists queuing up for a cuddle. We uncovered this huntsman [^] under the bark of a dead tree while cleaning up fallen timber on the farm a few weeks ago.

CannibalRabbit goes eye-eye with a huntsman

I can see why some people would be afraid of a spider that can have a leg-span of up to 15cm. The good news is their bite rarely causes anything more than localised pain and swelling.

What’s Wrong with the News Today.

Do you think that there is something wrong with news outlets in the digital age? Well, “Eleven Things I’d Do If I Ran a News Organization [^]” by media expert, Dan Gilmor is the confirmation that you have been looking for. In explaining what he would do, Dan show us what isn’t happening with the news now.

11 things thumb

Mr Gilmor envisions the media using technology, rather than trying to fight it. The points range from the internet specific; such as embracing the hyperlink, and the use of blogs and wikis. Through to general reporting standards and accessibility; like the use of precise and neutral language, the maintenance of perpetual archives, and notifying readers of factual inaccuracies in stories.

Whether or not you agree with the details of some of the points it does raise good questions about the the way the news is delivered over the internet now. It is easy to say that these steps should be obvious, but then most things are when they are explained! It will be interesting now to see if any news organisations are paying attention. Simply put news organisations are about getting eyeballs on pages, and selling those eyeballs to advertisers. A better online product should get more eyeballs, and more advertising dollars.

I can say that I would be more inclined to pay [^] for Mr Gilmor’s vision for the news, rather than Mr Murdoch’s micro-payments for news as it is now.

Modern Ukulele

I’ve mentioned before that I like ukuleles, especially IZ’s "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" [^]. I’ll even admit to liking George Formby on his banjolele if pushed. Well I’ve found another reason; UK-based female duo, Rocky and Balls. 

“I Heart You Online” is a nice, happy, bouncy tune that leaves me wanting more. And there is more, Sophie Madeleine’s (Balls) solo album “Life. Love. Ukulele [^]” which sound just as good.

In the meantime I will be downloading what I can, and paying for it.

Rocky and Balls – I Heart You Online

Would You Pay for the News?

It’s nice to see some sensible comments on the planned move by News Ltd to charge for their online content. In “All The News That’s Free To Read[^] Pete Berry on A419 makes some good points:

  • charging for content that is free elsewhere will drive users away.
  • some sites with a higher degree of credibility and impartiality  are likely to always be free (think BBC).
  • Internet use is all about darting in and out of multiple sites. They don’t call it surfing for nothing! Would you browse a site that you have to pay for?

Mr Murdoch, the internet does not owe you a living. The mainstream media needs to adapt to new technology and new customer behaviour. The BBC’s of this world are not going to to just roll-over because it’s bad for your business.