Spotify TOS Update

As Spotify haven’t seen fit to mention today’s TOS update in their blog; I’ve attempted a quick diff. Comparing to this version from the Wayback Machine.

  1. The provisions for Spotify Open have been removed. Previously Spotify could be accessed as:

    as an ad-supported free-to-the-user service having a cap of 20 listening hours per month during the first 6 months following creation of your Spotify account and thereafter a cap of 10 listening hours per month and a cap of 5 plays per unique track

  2. Section 1: Previously the TOS could only be accepted when you explicitly accepted them. Now one is deemed to have accepted them if they download the client or create an account either through the Spotify site or Facebook.
  3. Section 10: An error was rectified with an incorrect reference to Section 16.
  4. Section 12: The terms of Spotify Social have been amended to discussion Facebook integration more fully. Previously:

    You may choose whether to use the features of Spotify Social or not.

    Now:

    If you choose to activate Spotify Social, including choosing to connect to a Facebook account, your Spotify profile, including your Facebook user name and Facebook profile photo, will become publicly viewable to other users of the Spotify Service in the Spotify Software Application. If you connect your Spotify account to a Facebook account, in the preferences pane you can choose whether or not to automatically share your listening activities to Facebook, including whether or not to publish your playlists when created, to other Spotify Social users or to Facebook if you have activated sharing to Facebook. You agree that Spotify is not responsible for content once it is shared to Facebook.

  5. Section 13: Spotify claim the right to “remove or reclaim” your username at its discretion.
  6. Section 14: You now agree that Spotify and its business partners can provide advertising that is not limited to being “in relation to the Spotify Software Application and the Spotify Service” (I hadn’t realised it was anyway…).
  7. Section 16: Reaffirming the non-requirement of explicit acceptance of this TOS.
  8. Section 18: Absolving third parties of liabilities in case of damages arising from the use of Spotify

Obviously this isn’t any sort of legal or formal interpretation of the TOS. Find your own lawyer.

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Django recruitment…

I get a fair bit of recruitment spam from local agencies, and recently there’s been one recruiter in particular that’s sent consistently bizarre emails for his vacancies. Perhaps it’s just an attempt to stand out… but it seems it works, even if they do read like your common or garden spam.

On Django:

I am writing to you as you are what I classify as a Djangoite. Have you ever wondered why the term Django is used? I personally do not know, I would love to hear from you if you have an answer!

According to the Websters Online Dictionary, the word Django denotes:

A 1966 Italian spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Franco Nero in the title role. Nero went on to play a similar antihero in many subsequent Westerns. The film earned a reputation of being one of the most violent films ever made up to that point.

Although the film is remembered as an extremely violent one, I am sure that we can all agree that no blood is shed in the workplace when using Django in its more recent semantic context. [...]

On politics:

The jobs are sparse, the world is in turmoil…. We are consistently assured that things are to get better for the hard working-folk of England if we ‘pull together’ and live in austerity………………. Out of sight, the price of gold keeps rising, inequality increases. The Big Society…. a veritable farce, yet who, one must ask.. are the playwrights?……

Naturally, the people of England are always seeking the truth, at the same time, they also seek an antidote to the horrors of modern life. A job oft’ serves as such an antidote……

I am currently recruiting for an innovative mapping based data consultancy[...]

Briefly on freedom:

Have you ever dreamt of the freedom that can be had in working from home for a couple of days each week, only having to attend the office for three days of the week whilst being paid as a full time, fully fledged PHP, JavaScript developer? Well, this dream is now reality, indeed, let’s put it this way…. Within the company that I am recruiting for, you will not need to have 5 shirts ironed on a Sunday! The job starts immediately, so send me your C.V’s!

I just got off the phone to a truly excellent developer who heads up the team at an innovative mapping based data consultancy [...]

Yeh, ok then…

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Doctor Who Adventure Games: TARDIS micro-review


Micro-review really is the appropriate term here, because there really isn’t much of a game to pass comment on. From first loading the game through the end of the credits took no more than 50 minutes, a quarter of which time was likely absorbed replaying failed attempts at minigames.

Indeed, very little has changed from the formula outlined in my previous post, so it’s worth only noting the few changes:

  • Corresponding to the reduced length of the game, there are only two environments to explore, one of which is largely filled with factual trinkets from the Doctor’s past. At least both environments are pretty well realised.
  • There’s a new minigame! But it’s a quiz, which sucks. Particularly when you have to restart the whole thing after failing the final question. The stupid and finicky maze minigame also makes an unwelcome return.
  • It would be impossible to describe the puzzles as challenging.
  • I think they only use a single piece of background music and loop it for the duration of the game.
  • It’s not all bad: the quality of the writing is, on the whole, significantly improved over previous episodes; as is the voice acting, which is generally of a decent quality. The few slip-ups seem to be the result of shoddy Direction.

Edit: I almost forgot: no stealth sections! Best. Doctor Who game. Ever.

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Geronimo! Dr. Who Adventures

Doctor Who: Blood of the CybermenCards on the table; interests declared beforehand; bribes quietly taken in a back-alley: I fucking love Doctor Who. As a character and a personality, he’s a constantly evolving, infinitely faceted character both instantly lovable and eternally distant. As a series, the recent(ish) reboot has done a fantastic job of keeping the stories fresh, episodes individually vibrant and the over-arching plot gripping. Of course it’s far from perfect, but for me, the sheer joy of this series can entirely override these concerns.

So it was with considerable excitement I discovered that the BBC was planning to release a series of downloadable Doctor Who games funded by the License Fee and with the involvement of Charles Cecil, the man originally responsible for Beneath a Steel Sky and the Broken Sword games. With the involvement of Stephen Moffat, could these TV tie-ins perhaps, just maybe, be a work of genius?

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Modern Warfare 2 and Digital Distribution

Modern Warfare 2: 68,026 peak players

In case you somehow missed it, this week saw the release of Modern Warfare 2, a game that has comprehensively smashed every existing release day sales record, and looks set to become one of the best selling titles of all time.

Leaving aside certain issues that came to light in the days and weeks preceding the game’s release, the game’s PC release was marked by a frustrating and peculiar disparity between the release date of the retail and digitally distributed editions of the game. For its retail release, MW2 has been fully integrated with Steamworks, meaning that in order to install and play the game, it is first necessary to install Steam and associate your copy of MW2 with your Steam account, something that worked well on the game’s release date of Nov. 10.

However, copies of MW2 which were purchased directly through Steam (i.e. weren’t ordered from a retail store either in the highstreet or online) failed to unlock on this date, and indeed did not do so until very late on the night of the 11th. The reason for this remains somewhat unclear, but is suspected to be a concession to a retail channel which is greatly afeared that digital distribution will steal all their business.

This hugely frustrated many who ordered the game through Steam unaware of this delay, but it does allow an interesting insight into the strength of digital distribution on PC today.

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Konami Game Rereleases?

A week ago, Gemini-Phoenix on the games™ Forum spotted something rather interesting on eBay: a number of sellers were selling new sealed copies of the hitherto somewhat rare ZOE2 where the box art had the brand spanking new 2009 PEGI age rating logos. On contacting some of the sellers, he was told that:

They have also done re-prints of Suikoden Tactics with the new age rating logo, and Silent hill 2,3,4 the room, MGS 2 Substance, MGS 3 Snake Eater all with the old style age rating logo.

Sorry, but pardon? I’ve just checked through all of Konami’s material and there isn’t a single press release or statement pertaining to this. Heck, a Google query for “konami rerelease” returns the above forum thread as its second result! Furthermore, none of the main UK retailers (Game, Amazon, Gamestation, Play, HMV etc.) appear to have any stock nor indications that they ever expect it.
So why have Konami rereleased some quite sought after older titles without the slightest fanfare (compared to, for example, the lauded rerelease of ICO pre SOTC) and then made the stock available only to small independant retailers operating through eBay and elsewhere? Konami have been contacted, but there’s been no word from them as yet.

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Tales of Monkey Island 1: Review

Tales of Monkey Island - Guybrush and Lechuck

This review is a reposting of the review that I wrote for the Warwick Boar – complete with intended italics.

Only a month ago, the landscape of PC adventure gaming seemed a desolate and barren place,  Telltale’s episodic offerings being the only visible remains of one of the bastions of traditional PC gaming. Since then Lucasarts had confirmed that they were returning to work on Monkey Island, one of the most infamous of adventure gaming franchises. Indeed, it was soon confirmed that not only were they working in collaboration with ex-Lucasarts staffers on development of a quintet of new Monkey Island episodes, titled the Tales of Monkey Island, but also on a special edition rerelease of the first Monkey Island title, the Secret of Monkey Island, resplendent with both a graphical overhaul and new voice acting. Only hours before this writer put fingers to keyboard, Lucasarts further announced that they would start releasing their back catalogue of titles on the digital delivery system Steam, starting on Wednesday with a selection of ten titles ranging from LOOM to Battlefront II.  Perhaps adventure gaming could be stirring from its long forgotten ashes?

The first of these Monkey themed releases is the Tales of Monkey Island, whose five monthly episodes begins today with The Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, which I’ll be looking at here.

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What annoys me…

That game developers insist on filling my Documents folder up with hundreds of folders bearing their company name, with the sole reason of storing their save files in those respective folders. There’s a reason that there’s a “Saved Games” folder, guys. The ability to use this folder seems to be a skill learnt only by Darwinia, Red Alert 3 and C&C3 (even then, the latter two create a folder in /Documents to store Replays – DO NOT WANT).

My Documents folder

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Compsoc Holiday Caption Competition

Probably not the best choice of photo possible, but here’s an interesting one that the camera threw up:

Monk goes for a ride

Answers on a postcard… or in the comments section.

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Fun with compiling

In a desperate effort to procrastinate today, I’ve been tinkering on the Linux ITS machines seeing if I can supplement their provided software. To this end I’ve attempted to build some decent multimedia apps (vlc and mplayer), update Firefox from 2.0 which was being used, and install Chrome; all in a non-root environment.
Firefox was at least successful (eventually), after sorting out a mountain of dependencies and ensuring that they were all compiled against updated libraries (in particular, various libraries were compiling against old versions of fontconfig which later threw undefined symbol errors for FT_SYMBOL_SIZE). Unfortunately, until/unless I compile KDE for these computers (it’s presently on 3.5), it isn’t possible to compile gtk-qt, so Firefox looks somewhat horrendous on the default theme. KDE4 though… there’s an idea. Instead, I’m using the rather lovely Chromify theme, which hides most of the defects for now.

It’s taken years to get Chrome to start compiling, not least because of the dependency tree that needed sorting. A more trying problem was that Chrome uses SCONS via gyp to set up the development environment. Cruelly, scons uses its own $PATH variable which it determines of its own accord. This meant that all of the dependencies that I’d built into /local/usr weren’t being referenced in the SCONS path. Additionally, editing the scons files themselves with the PATH setting didn’t work because they were regenerated by gyp at each reinitialising of the environment. Eventually after much trial and error I found a workaround in editing the src/build/common.gypi file to include the line:
'ENV': {'PATH': '/custom/path/variable/here'},
Within the scons_variable_settings block for linux.

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