Rise like a Wurst: “We are unstoppable”

May 11, 2014

When only quite recently the current Pope declared the sainthood of the homophobe Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church once more emphasized their inhumanity. This of course happened just months after Putin signed his anti-gay law bill.

So while I usually don’t care much about the Eurovision Song Contest this year was different: last December I moved from Berlin/Germany back to Vienna/Austria and was surprised to see what act my country now had sent to compete in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – at a time when the far right seems to be getting stronger and stronger in this country…

So this blog post is dedicated to all the victims of religious and political homophobia. Remember the Wurst: “We are unstoppable”.

See you at the Regenbogenparade (CSD/Vienna Pride) on June 14, 2014.


Blender 2.70 and The GOOSEBERRY project

March 20, 2014

Blender 2.70 splash screen

Today the Blender Foundation released Blender 2.70! Download and Release Notes.

At the same time the Blender Institute and twelve indie studios from all over the world are preparing a cloud funded, featured length animation film: The Goosberry Project. For updates read the blog. Fundraising still going on for a little less than a month…!


Review: “Blender Compositing and Post Processing” by Mythravarun Vepakomma, ebook from Packt Publishing (2014)

March 17, 2014

*Disclaimer and Introduction*

1127OS_Cover_0.jpgI was asked by Packt Publishing to write a short, independent review for “Blender Compositing and Post Processing” in exchange for a free copy of the ebook.

Since the Blender Compositing Nodes (next to the Blender VSE, the Video Sequence Editor) are one of my absolute favourite feature in Blender I decided to go for it: I like to use them for post processing video footage/creating looks and love the fact that you can do this with Blender (a very powerful free and open-source 3D etc. solution) on all major platforms/can share your .blends across all those platforms!

So this is my personal, general impression of the “Blender Compositing and Post Processing” ebook while being someone with a more creative mind rather than a technical one:

*DRM free*

First thing I noticed is that the ebook comes without DRM (Digital Rights (or as some say “Restriction”)) management and you can download it in four different formats. I went for the .pdf version.

*Structure*

The ebook seems very well structured. It starts off with a condensed overview for all chapters and at the end of each chapter there is a brief summary of what you’ve just read. This allows you to quickly find/read what you are looking for when you need it/to just dive into those topics that you feel not so familiar with. At the end of the ebook there is an Index with the most important keywords/page numbers where to find those topics in the text.

*Target Audience*

The ebook probably requires some basic Blender knowledge or some familiarity with (3D, video) post production related technical terms/concepts. I think you could use it with not much prior know-how but would need to do some extra research (Wikipedia, Blender Wiki etc.) in order to really understand what it all means/find it useful. More to this at the end of *Content, Approach and Concept*.

*Content, Approach and Concept*

While I was very pleased with the ebook’s structure I was (a bit) disappointed by the fact that this is not what may be called a “workbook”. While there are many visual examples for e.g. how a particular Node works you won’t find more complex examples for Node set-ups to re-create.

For those new to Blender/Nodes a short introduction to the concept: basically compositing in Blender works via “Nodes”, individual sort of filters etc. that allow you to manipulate an image/a series of images in a very specific way while you can combine those filters etc./the order in which they are applied to your 3D renders or footage by connecting those Nodes via sort of wires called “Noodles” and this way create your own very complex set of filters etc. using a very flexible tree like structure. This concept is much more powerful as compared to what you can do in your average image manipulation or video editing programme where you usually only can lay one filter on top of another one and combinations therefore are limited…

My feeling is that a technical minded person or someone with a compositing background/coming from another 3D programme etc. would probably be able to quickly get started with compositing in Blender using this ebook. Someone with a more creative mind who likes/needs to play around with actual examples/set-ups in order to grasp the concepts on a visual or sort of holistic level might need to invest more time and would need to do extra research in order to be able to fully understand the concepts introduced in this ebook.

*Summary and Thoughts*

“Blender Compositing and Post Processing” seems to be a well structured, clearly written ebook that explains the basic concepts involved you need to know in order to get started with using the very powerful free and open-source 3D programme Blender (available for all major platforms, .blends can be shared across all platforms) for post processing either your 3D renders or video footage.

This ebook seems to either requires some prior related technical understanding or the will to research/experiment on your own if you start from scratch. It is not a “workbook” in the sense that you won’t find more complex example Node set-ups to re-create.

I think from a learning point of view (and for the purpose of having fun with the Blender Compositing Nodes/learning them while playing around with them) this ebook could be accessible to an even wider audience with either one or two extra chapters that show how-to re-create specific Node set-ups (like e.g. a toon look, that’s always lots of fun) or the introduction of a practical example section/project for those chapters where appropriate.

*Thanks!*

I hope this general, personal review was both helpful and describes the ebook in a meaningful and adequate way, thanks for reading, have fun with Blender, the very powerful Compositing Nodes and if you choose so with this ebook!

Valentin Spirik, March 2014


Statement by Edward Snowden to human rights groups at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport – Friday July 12, 15:00 UTC

July 13, 2013

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

Thank you.

Source (wikileask.org)


Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow

July 2, 2013

Monday July 1, 21:40 UTC

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised – and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

Edward Joseph Snowden

Monday 1st July 2013

Source (www.guardian.co.uk)

Europe and the EU need to offer political asylum to Edward Snowden now if we still care about Democracy!

And once more the most important part of the statement above:

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised – and it should be.


Yes We Scan: WHISTLEBLOWER – feat. Edward Snowden [RAP NEWS 19]

June 26, 2013

What I want to know: what role would a video codec called h.264 and software patents play in all of this…?

Mass surveillance is so much easier if there is just one codec and if an american organisation, the MPEG-LA – still protected by the US government – controls the moving image worldwide

RAP NEWS 19 – Whistleblower

Written by Giordano Nanni & Hugo Farrant – Juice Rap News

- Good afternoon, viewers, thank you for clicking
through to view this exclusive brand new edition
of Juice Rap News back through with a global transmission
with your host Robert Foster, and we’re glad to begin

by introducing this routine interview scheduled today,
with our regular US guest, now director of the NSA,
General Baxter – Hi – Can you provide via satellite
an update on the state of Empire? – Bob, I have to confide

I’m satisfied. In fact, I got no axe to grind.
Our Nobel Peace prize President mastermind
has a healthy appetite for sending drones to smash the lives
of Brown children… Muslims… I mean terrorist hoodlums

Egregious… – Goddamn right we agree it’s just;
Every American’ll feel hot pangs of pride when they hear of this.
But guess what I’m most excited about that’s finally happening
- What? – The court martial of Private Bradley Manning

Three years without trial and a touch of torture
That’s how we punish dissent in the Free World Order.
After this, no one will dare blow whistles, or leak intel
or question our right to read every single freaking email… oops

- Did you just say you read everyone’s emails?
- What? emails? no, we don’t read, scan, track, record and store every detail
- At all? – no sir. not wittingly…
perhaps a few billion emails… accidentally

- Ok General. we’re just getting sent a signal
it’s the fearless journalist Crusader, direct from Rio
the Guardian of civil liberties, Sir Glenn Greenwald.
- Robert, hello – Hi, Glenn, What quest are you and your steed on?

- A hero has leaked classified documents finally proving
that the NSA has secretly obtained access directly to all
the servers of Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Youtube, Skype, and Google,
this PRISM system for spying on users from the dark side of the Moon’ll

record everything, that arrives on screens: emails, chats, Grindr feed
Robert, it took great courage from this whistle blower to decide to leak
they’ve taken a great risk in getting us, their fellow citizens
this critical glimpse into what is really happening.. behind the scenes

- Mark Zuckerberg, your position? – word, sit back, listen
you rocking with Zuckerberg, fuckin’ nerd tactician
- So PRISM? – what’s that, ‘PRISM’? Never even heard of that system
yeah we got a program running, but we call it FASCISM

- Do your users like that? – a billion likes, cousin:
and if you dislike something, here’s my dislike button,
I’m in charge you fuckin’ turds, interview’s over, finished, ended
- Er… – Mark Zuckerberg CEO, bitches! unfriended

- Uh okay then…General, would you like to make a statement?
- I’m disgusted – You are? that’s amazing
- I had no idea that this could occur, It’s devastating
- shocking, I concur; so will there be an investigation?

- You betcha, we’re gonna get those who broke their oath to the law
- Wonderful… – And hold them responsible, this has gone too far.
- I think the whole world feels the same… – Call Gitmo!
I’m personally going to torture whoever leaked all this info

- Wait, what…? – We’ve become a frickin’ culture of leaks
What if every uppity geek who happens not to agree
with the state’s tyranny decided to expose it to all and sundry
- That might lead to a revolution – Indeed! see what I mean?

Look, we welcome this debate, openly. free speech is sanctified
- Ok then, does the NSA keep… – Sorry that’s classified
- so what are the laws for the… – EEENG!! Access denied
- Well, how can we see – Oops debate time has expired…

- Ah hold on, we’re picking up another feed: this time from Hong Kong
Glen?! – It’s me again, I got an update on what’s going on
- Greenwald! We’re gonna prosecute you for reason… I mean treason
- Uh-uh! your threats are no match for my shield and

you’ll cower under the weight of words when I’m weilding my pen-sword
By the power of Greenwald!
- Ah… did you have an update for the people? – oh, yeah… now World,
meet the brave leaker, Edward Snowden
He’s made a video to reveal his motives for whistle-blowin’

What’s up Edward – hey Glenn what’s up
- Yeah what’s going on here?
- Me wan big up the At Steppa dem Ellsberg and Manning
You know what I’m saying?
- Yo, Snowden they’re gonna come around here looking for you today
- Word? – word. Bust it

- Whistle Blower
You know say Eddy-a Snowden Dem gon bla-ame
Fi leaking secrets out
Dem NSA a sayna Eddy-a Snowden done betray de USA
By leaking secrets out

Whistle Blower
You know say Eddy-a Snowden Dem gon bla-ame
Fi leaking secrets out
Dem NSA a sayna Eddy-a Snowden done betray de USA
By leaking secrets out

Workin a for dem N-SA down in Hawaii
findin-a me some paper that na be irie
’bout de Babylon put fire ;pon de civil liberty
so me decide fi trade me safety
for de sake o-defend all-ah-me city-zen privacy
if ya see supm, say supm, follow me, and be

Whistle Blower
You know say Eddy-a Snowden Dem gon bla-ame
Fi leaking secrets out
Dem NSA a sayna Eddy-a Snowden done betray de USA
Fi leaking secrets out

- Well, dear viewers, that’s about it for this edition
But it wouldn’t be complete without some final questions
Whistleblowers. They leak in the public interest.
now what remains to be known is: is the public interested?

If so, this might be a good day to exhibit it:
Ignorance is a choice, in the age of the internet
Many consider this all very bewildering
Some praise these acts as heroic, worthy of mimicking

Others condemn them as illegal and prohibited
But, can’t both be equally applicative?
To be good humans we’re sometimes called upon to be bad citizens.
Some nations were even born by breaking laws of the tyrranous.

Do you support heroes from days of yore
who in order to cause reforms disobeyed the law?
Then what about those in the present who heed the same call?
This is Robert Foster for Rap News, good day to you all

Lyrics via reverbnation.com


WebM (VP8) is dead: “licensing fees” from Google to Patent Trolls/MAFIAA

March 28, 2013

WebM (VP8): now with “fees” for the patent trolls, MAFIAA companies

Google and MPEG LA Reach VP8 Patent Agreement (Slashdot, 07.03.13)

VP8 and MPEG LA (WebMproject, 07.03.13)

Google and MPEG LA Announce Agreement Covering VP8 Video Format (07.03.13)

The only real open-source alternative to the Content Mafia’s h.264 video codec died earlier this months when Google payed off the patent trolls and thieves from the MPEG-LA with “licensing fees” for the – until then – “open-source” VP8 codec. The MPEG-LA is the organisation that steals video footage from every child, woman and man who pushes a record button on an h.264 camera (like on every “smart phone”).

You do not own your own work with h.264. Never. It belongs to a patent pool behind which stand companies like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and some others.

VP8 was a real alternative. It is interesting that the MPEG-LA never had a problem with the codec before it was open-sourced. It had been in use in Sykpe for years already – and still is…

This is why patents are so very wrong, this is how the late Thieve Jobs – excuse me Steve Jobs got rich (“All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.” – blogs.fsfe.org, 30.04.10)

This is where I stop entirely with publishing online video

I was so upset when the true story behind h.264 (osnews, 01.05.10) came out that I almost stopped publishing online video entirely. Then came an alternative. It did not work as well as the other codec, but it was there.

Now there is nothing. *)

I will now stop uploading any video to the web as long as there is no free and open-source video codec available. I do not support, work for – directly or indirectly – patent pools, their lawyers that steal my work, the companies hiding behind the patent pool that make money from stealing my work, the coders who develop anything related to h.264 and thereby steal my work. *)

I am deeply, deeply disgusted by all of you. Your business is based on stealing. Your business is based on stealing the moving image from society. History will judge you.

If you read this and care for the moving image, if you are film or videomaker: I urge you to consider boycotting 100% all companies on the list, as well as ending any collaboration with any of the “research institutes” on the list (like Frauenhofer).

Google you can keep VP8 (WebM) to yourself. I do not want it any more. It is MPEG-LA now. You are now paying off Content MAFIAA companies like Apple:

Apple › S. Jobs › Disney/Pixar › MPAA, MPEG-LA › ACTA › End of Democracy › Corporate Fascism

Oh, and Steve: FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU IN ALL ETERNITY FOR H.264!

*) Update 29.03.13: There is Theora of course, the only working choice left now as far as I know. Unfortunately (thanks to software patents) it can not compete with the others in terms of quality at this point. I may start a new video blog project one day with Theora downloads, but without embeds from YoutTube etc. my options for reaching an audience will be limited…!


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