i-think Twenty-Two

Now with more coherency.

iTunes Plus

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Back in April, Apple announced a deal with EMI that would allow higher quality, DRM-free versions of their songs to be made available through the iTunes store. They said it would happen in May.

True to their word, iTunes Plus was launched today, the last day of May ((Apple Launches iTunes Plus)). Despite that there was no initial announcement regarding the Australian iTunes store, fortunately it was included.

So what is iTunes Plus? Well, it’s the same music plus an extra 128kbps (adding up to 256kpbs) minus the DRM that makes it more difficult than it should be to move from one computer to another. Oh, and it’s also plus an extra 50 cents (Australian store).Eager to upgrade my library I fired up iTunes this morning and discovered that I needed to update it. iTunes 7.2 is needed, presumably because there is a lot of integration of the store with iTunes the application. After updating I had trouble connecting hopefully because everyone else was upgrading their libraries too. Upgrading my library wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. It didn’t hit me in the face quite as much as the complete my album feature does. But I managed to get through to iTunes plus to be greeted with a new set of terms and conditions.

After getting through all that (as far as I recall, the main difference was that iTunes plus purchases exclude some of the restrictions listed in the terms and conditions) I finally saw that I had 8 tracks that could be upgraded. Hopefully more will be available over time.

Unfortunately connectivity issues with the iTunes store prevented me from downloading the files straight away. Fortunately iTunes is fairly fault- tolerant and they are sitting in my download queue.

I haven’t yet run into any roadblocks with the iTunes store DRM yet, but I haven’t had to re-install OS X. You are able to burn tracks to CD, place them on up to five computers and as many iPods as you like. This is obviously a big restriction if you don’t have an iPod. These restrictions are all lifted with iTunes plus.

You may however be interested to know that your full name and email address is apparently embedded into the file ((Apple hides account info in DRM-free music too)). So don’t go putting them up on your favourite P2P network. I wouldn’t be too concerned about this, although some have pointed out that it makes it more difficult to resell. I see it as being somewhat similar to having my name and phone number in a book I bought. The other issue is that people are concerned about people stealing iPods. Personally I think you’ve got bigger problems if someone is stealing your iPod (they can likely steal other things too).

Of course, you aren’t allowed to use tracks from iTunes as a ringer on a mobile phone (even with iTunes Plus, although there is no technical restriction). Personally I hope this condition is just about good taste. It will be interesting to see if this changes when the iPhone is released.

Online Dating

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Recently, my friends Paul and Will got engaged ((not to each other)). While we are waiting to see if Will’s competitive nature will lead to him tying the knot first, or Paul to reveal that it was all a bluff to force Will’s hand, I thought it time to look at finding myself a partner.

With lots of experience in writing about when to propose, what to do with rings, etc. I thought I was in a perfect position to start a relationship. What a mistake! I’m not a huge fan of the “clubbing” scene, but that doesn’t mean I like to be confined to the house. The probability of two people who don’t like “clubbing” to meet at a club is incredibly low. With this first test in mind I am left with finding people at work or on the Internet.

Sure, I get emails all the time from “Sexy Ladies” who seem to want to be my sex slave, but this seems a bit too forward for me. I’ve always thought that sodomy shouldn’t happen on the first date. I’m a bit conservative that way. So, surely people who share some common ground with me would be using the Internet, right? And if they were, they were likely to be on Internet dating sites.

I thought I had found the solution through a logical process. Unfortunately, after being on a site for over a year I have received no responses. Not one. Something was wrong. I had also tried to initiate contact with several people, each of whom responded with either a rejection or not at all. I was beginning to feel quite discouraged.

From this experience I think I’ve worked out what one of the key problems with this is. People are looking for perfection. If you don’t have rock hard abs and can bench press twice your body weight, you shouldn’t bother. This negates the effect of finding compatible personalities. Unless of course, my personality is so utterly offensive it scared everyone away.

So now that the Internet has failed me, I guess it’s time for Plan B, asking random people on the street.

Climate Change in the Political Agenda

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With an Australian federal election due this year, climate change has become an inevitable hot topic. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recognised the significance in a recent appeal to environmentalists to make their environments issues ‘sexy’ ((Schwarzenegger: Make environment sexy - NEWS.com.au)). What Arnold is trying to do is bring environmentalism in to the mainstream and to no longer appear to be solely the domain of ‘tree huggers’.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard and opposition leader Kevin Rudd are debating to what extent Australia is responsible to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Both have acknowledged that a reduction of emissions is needed. Australia and New Zealand count for approximately 1.1 percent of the worlds contribution to global warming ((as cited in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, 2006, page 251)). John Howard has expressed that any targets need to be considered carefully, emphasising that Australia’s global warming role doesn’t compare to that of the United States and China ((PM Howard lays into Rudd’s green credibility - NEWS.com.au)).

In Australia, one of the primary ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is through the use of renewable energy. A report from green groups suggests that a move to renewable sources of power, such as wind and solar could generate new jobs ((Green energy could fuel job boom: report - ABC)). This is the sort of financial incentive that is needed to move towards a real reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Australia is also behind in the federal government’s projections to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report by the Climate Institute ((Garrett, Turnbull at odds over climate change report - ABC)), suggesting Australia is not on track to meet its Kyoto targets. Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull disagreed with the findings of the report, pointing out that it omits offsets from land use.

Whether the issue of tackling global warming is significant to Australia or not, the Queensland public are concerned about climate change ((Qld public frets over climate change - ABC)). Whether the Australian economy is perceived to be able to bear the weight of strong action will be a key factor in what position Australia will take in the years ahead.

When aliens attack, we might actually be ready

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Just as scientists find a planet that might be just right to sustain life ((Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet - ABC)), and the odds of finding intelligent life on another planet increase ((British bookies scared of aliens - ABC)) we seem to have found ways to fight them, should it ever come to that.We might not even have to resort to the discovery of Kryptonite ((Rio Tinto researchers find ‘real life kryptonite’ - ABC)) to do it.

Travis Taylor and Bob Boan have written An Introduction to Planetary Defence. Taylor, with degrees in astronomy and physics and Boan, with consulting experience for the defence department (article doesn’t state which country) and NASA ((Are you ready for the aliens - NEWS.com.au)).

This bizarre array of articles suggests that the possibilities are moving more into the limelight. Maybe we need a bit of alien interruption to get things working again.

The Mill is recruiting

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Since The Mill was first started in 2005 it has evolved from gossip and rumours to discussing issues of relationships, human society and the environment. In order to continue to expand our horizons, The Mill is looking to recruit new members to build its team.

Are you looking for a hobby that simultaneously demonstrates your writing skills, while allowing you to voice opinions on topics you are passionate about? Are you passionate about the environment? Are you self-motivated? Do you have excellent written communication skills? If so, this may be a great opportunity for you.

Whilst at this time, The Mill is unable to provide financial remuneration (it is currently being run at a loss with no income streams), we will provide a solid foundation upon which you can demonstrate your skills and will provide full written references for all members of our team. With further expansion and the creation of income streams on the cards for the future (The Mill and i-think Twenty-Two are currently working on an exciting new collaboration) we hope to be able to remedy this situation and will look at performance-based remuneration options.

In the meantime, the opportunity exists to get your foot in the door and to provide a stepping-stone for your career. The following opportunities are currently available:

Muse - 2 positions available
If you are constantly trawling the internet looking at news articles, this may be an ideal position for you. The position requires that you submit 1-2 current news or blog articles per week, with a brief (10-20 words) commentary for how you you think The Mill should approach writing a full article on the topic. Citing additional sources for further information on an article would be valuable. The ideas and suggestions that you provide may be used in the creation of articles for The Mill to be used at the discretion of the writing and editorial team.

Writer - 1 position available
Are you able to step back from a news item and analyse it? Can you spark interesting debate, looking at both sides of an issue? Can you be provided with an idea and run with it? If so, this might be the position for you. As a writer, you will be expected to produce 3-4 articles per week, based on your own ideas, or be allocated a story submitted by a Muse. (Articles are allocated by the editorial team based on who would produce the most interesting article). As a writer you are also free to elect to take on an article idea submitted by a muse without being allocated it directly by an editor.

Work of writers is subject to editorial review, where the editor will check the article for spelling errors and ensure the integrity of the article. Editors may prevent your article from being published if it contains blatantly incorrect information, does not provide adequate references, or is blatantly commercial in content. Editors will always provide the writer the opportunity to review their work so that it can be published under the high level of integrity expected of The Mill. Writers are also able to have their work reviewed by other writers.

This position provides you with the opportunity to work in an editorial environment, whilst allowing your creativity to be set free.

Editor - 1 position available
If you have excellent writing skills, strong ethics and a passion for exceptional content, this position is for you. Editors review article content for correctness and sufficient referencing, as well as providing feedback to writer’s when more information or clarification is required. Editors are also free to publish their own articles, which they are expected to keep at the same level of quality. Editors are expected to produce at least one editorial article each week.

Editors are answerable to the Chief Editor, who will review their work.

How to apply
To apply for any of these positions, or for more information, make a comment on this post and we’ll email your shortly to start the recruitment process. Don’t put your contact details in the comment as if you’ve commented before it will be put on the site immediately.

We’re looking forward to your applications and your participation in the next step for The Mill.