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Attack of the clones: Digital Voices 13/10/2012

This week saw a rash of comments using the mailmetrash.com spam-prevention service, one of which was so lazy it just copied another.

Is this a watershed moment for Recombu Digital’s comments, or just another nail in the coffin of civilization?

It’s the only post of the weekend, so it must be Digital Voices for the week ending October 13, 2012.

Attack of the clones

Attack of the clones

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if so, Gladys Minkwater should be delighted that her comment on 4G will wipe out Freeview in 1.9 million homes, confirms Ed Vaizey, was repeated verbatim by Throbwiddle just hours after the original post. Even the original’s spelling mistakes were copied.

Both commenters were engaged in a frenzy of posting at the time, so perhaps Throbwiddle just ran out of inspiration. They couldn’t be the same person, could they?

Here’s Gladys’s original post, for reference:

“At least people without a TV don’t have to pay the licence fee. What is REALLy unfair is independent TV. Check out what the spend is no UK TV advertising per year, then divide that by the number of households, with and without TV. That money has to come from SOMEWHERE and, ultimately, it’s the consumer at the end of the audit trail, even buisness-to-business; follow that far enough down the food chain and it’s the public that pays for independent TV. All of the public, TV owners or not.

Now tell me the licnence is unfair.

it’s not the best solution, but it is fairer that independent TV.”

Off-topic comments of the week

Deep down inside, we all know that online comment is like just howling at the Moon. We all want our incredible argument and insight to change the world, but the chances are we’re just shouting into a hurricane and letting off a bit of steam.

As time goes by, comments start to have little or nothing to do with the story which sparked them, and this week that fateful moment arrived for BT’s killer RABIT foils copper cable thieves, when ‘gee’ wrote:

“just come back from a week in the chanel islands,cant belive how much the price of fuel is there,£1 17p per litre for diesel,why are we subsitising an island with more millionares per sq mile than the mainland.”

Gee wins really needs a copy of Lynne Truss’s hopelessly optimistic East, Shoots & Leaves to accompany her next angry holiday.

A runner-up’s mention this week goes to Andy, whose suggestion at least has the merit of being thematically linked to the original story:

“We are still awaiting the Technology that Alerts us to when a politician is lying to us in Parliament. Or are they working on the expected overload.”

Another healthy contender was Cullengirl, on the subject of Ofcom allowing 4G mobile signals that will interfere with Freeview. She starts well enough, attacking the decision as a symbol of poor governance, before adding, nonsensically: “With any money they save they will probably set up freeview in another country.”

That’ll show ‘em: BT’s killer RABIT foils copper cable thieves

The killer RABIT story, originally concerned a technology designed to deter the rising tide of cable theft from BT’s communication networks.

WrinklyOldGit had the quaint old notion of reading the original story before contributing an actual anecdote from real experience, instead of tossing off some half-formed opinion after a night at the pub:

“When I worked for a public power utility in Saudi Arabia, we had some people try to steal a newly laid 66 kV underground power cable – it took a couple of hours with a pump on a water tanker and a hose pipe to flush away the remains of the young and dumb Saudi thieves who exploded when they sawed into the live cable.

On another occassion, an engineer came across thieves stealing cable off a drum, he went over to their pick-up and removed the distributor cap and plug leads, they were going nowhere fast as he waited for the police to turn up.”

Off with Ofcom: 4G will wipe out Freeview in 1.9 million homes, confirms Ed Vaizey

Ofcom’s come under a lot of flak for allowing 4G mobile signals to not only evict soe Freeview signals, but interfere with others, potentially causing trouble for millions. Rightly so, as it happened on their watch.

The media regulator has come under flak for a few other decisions, but for humble Steve BB, this is the final straw:

“I know from an amateur radio perspective OFFCOM is a total waste of space but now something like this has happened and on this scale. I think all credibility OFFCOM once had has just evaporated in the ether. Literally !

“As a regulatory body whose main goal is to detect, advise and deny any new service that will knowingly cause interference I don’t believe they have a role to play any longer imho.”

Many commentators have suggested that the mismanagement of 4G and Freeview frequency allocations is grounds for an end to the TV Licence fee. Trevor Makepeace (along with our commenting clones above), points out that advertising on independent TV has its own cost, albeit hidden:

“In the same way as not having a TV or not watching independent TV gets you out of paying that little bit in the price of anything you buy, that goes to funding the maker’s advertising on TV (or that of their suppliers etc, for which the maker ultimately pays in his turn).

“If you don’t believe me, go and check what the UK figures are for advertising on TV and work that out per household, for all households, not just those with a TV

And you thought the idea of the TV licence was unfair!!!!”

And with that many exclamation marks, he has to be taken seriously.

Polite request of the week: TiVo and superfast broadband bring Virgin Media’s customer numbers back in line

It’s not just the Rod Stewart nostalgia in Maggie May’s online moniker, it was also nice to see a request for Virgin to expand its cable network, framed so politely:

“I had a Tivo box and really loved it. Then we moved to a small market town where there is no cable….and no-one can tell me if and when there is going to be…. so I am getting used to Sky, which I have to say is not as good as Virgin – sorry, Sky.

“Yes Virgin, you may be getting back customers…but what about customers like me who had no choice but to abandon you……when is there going to be a new programme for more cabling???? What percentage of the UK is not cabled???”

Dial a cliche

Memes are the units of cultural transmission suggested by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene.

We’re wondering if there’s a similar term for the cliches often recycled by online commentators seeking to piggy-back on the original writer’s gravitas, unaware that it just makes them sound lazy and unimaginative.

One of the most generic pieces of cut-and-paste thinking was supplied this week by ‘Annoyed, London’ (I’ll bet he’s not as annoyed as I was to read it):

“This country has literally gone to the dogs, you couldn’t make it up. Cameron and Clegg have a lot to answer for, will the last person to leave the country, please turn out the lights!” 

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