DivX killed the DVD star

21 Aug

It suddenly occurred to me this morning that I had to buy the Sex and the City box set; that nice pink one containing all the series of Carrie Bradshaw and co. and their adventures in New York City. So I headed out of the house and, after 10 minutes of looking for the car keys, started my trip to the biggest media and electronics store in town. I’d seen it the about a year before on the shelves and although I couldn’t remember how much it cost at the time, I was sure it would cost a little bit less now. All excited, I entered into the big warehouse style electronics store, bombarded by adverts of the new Ipad and internet offers. I stopped briefly to check out the new Nintendo 3DS after which I directed myself toward the DVD section, remembering more or less where the TV series were, seeing as in the past year I mostly went to the store to look at PCs or cameras. I found one fairly generous aisle of DVDs, one dedicated to cartoons and one dedicated to “real” films! So I stood in front of the series section and looked. At first I didn’t quite understand what I was looking at and it took a while for my eyes to adjust to all the various names and colours, and I wasn’t quite sure whether they were in alphabetical order or not. But I couldn’t find it! I knew I had seen it there before! But it was gone! I scanned the whole series section, and then also the normal DVD section and even the cartoon section, just in case they’d decided to put it somewhere else. Nothing. Ok, fine, so I decided to go to the second biggest media store. This time I found the DVD section shrunk compared to what I remembered and, again, no Sex and the City box set. But what shocked me most where the prices! I remember DVD movies costing at least €20, and more for new releases, whereas now you could buy a recent Oscar winning film for only €9,99 (yeah, to make it look cheaper) and new (also Academy Award winning) releases at €16,99! So I moved on to the last and final store in the area. Gone! Where the hell is the DVD section? Or shelf? Once upon a time it covered an entire wall and now they only dedicated three 2x1m shelves to them. I left the shop horrified.

Driving back home, a little disappointed, it hit me that what they’re saying is true. The film and music industry are really losing out thanks to technology that now allows us to easily download and share media files at no cost what so ever, fuelled by the enormous range of flash drives that offer ever more storage space, boasting the number of films or mp3s they can hold. DVDs and music CDs just don’t sell anymore; people don’t buy them. They don’t need to. They have been replaced by something cheaper and easier to obtain. I realised that there’s no wonder why hardly anyone gets a record deal anymore because what records are you going to sell? Sure, there’s still the radio and there are still reproduction rights (along with extortionate fines if you get caught playing a CD in public without a license), and you can legally download a song from iTunes. But that’s many,  many €20 CDs that are not being bought. I find it sad. It makes me nostalgic of the times I’d spent hours in a record store like HMV flipping through all the latest singles and checking out the charts. Then buying an album my friends and I loved and coming home to my mega three-disk HIFI and hearing the high quality sound of music coming out from the speakers. Downloading mp3s from iTunes or any online music store just doesn’t give the same rush. You have nothing to hold in your hands, nothing to handle. Remember LPs? How good does it feel to hold that vinyl disk between your fingers and gently place it on to a turn table, lower the needle and hear music being produced thanks to the way the plastic was moulded!

What frustrates me, however, is that we are the ones that are punished in every sense, rather than the ones that provide us with all the gadgets. We’re the ones who are deprived of a multidimensional music experience and we’re the ones who get fined for downloading and sharing. They threatened us with higher prices, but they gave us fancy mp3 players. They bombard us with phones that support a variety of (illegally downloaded) music formats. They sell us flash drives of all shapes and sizes at low prices and external hard disks with outrageous amounts of space that you’ll never even use up! We are consumers and what we’re supposed to consume is storage space for all of our mp3s and DivXs, the latest mp3 players, and of course CDs to play in our dusty CD players (when’s the last time you saw someone go jogging with a portable CD player….actually, do they even sell them anymore?)… Of course, putting the brakes on the clever engineers who invent and design the very tools that help and provoke us to break the law would be a very silly thing to do for a very clever marketing expert. Hey, they’re the ones in the win-win situation and we are, as always, the puppets on the strings!

Why I buy heels but always end up wearing flats

19 Aug

Shoes shoes shoes. We love them! It’s unexplainable why we have such an obsession with beautiful shoes! If you see a pair that you like, you just have to have it! And I seriously don’t understand people like my mum that just don’t have any opinion when it comes to shoes, and that you have to drag into a shoe shop to buy a new pair of ballerinas (because heels are just so uncomfortable and over time they deform your feet) for a WEDDING because I’m fed up with her wearing the same black ones that are about 15 years old and that just, no, they don’t go with everything mum!

Of course, I’m just writing this article to justify the fact that today I bought TWO new pairs of shoes: one beige pair of peep toes in soft leather by Miss Sixty and one pair of black (elastic) strappy sandals, un-branded, for the nights out during my upcoming holiday in Lloret de Mar. And, contrary to how this may seem, it’s not a case of “I Love Shopping” because I’m not like that when it comes to clothes or make up or bags. With those I’m very “mum”-like. I buy a top when I need a top. I buy a pair of jeans when I need a pair of jeans. If my bag isn’t doing its job anymore I’ll go out and look for a new one. But with shoes it’s different! I buy them even if I don’t need them. Actually, even worse-so, I buy them even if sometimes I know I’m not going to be able to wear them! Why wouldn’t I wear them, you may ask? Well, friends, I live in a heel-unfriendly environment. And what the heel does that mean, you may ask, this time with an even more confused tone. This means that I live in a place where anywhere you want to go you have to drive. So to start with, although driving in heels is possible, according to some, it’s against the law, plus I hate wriggling around in my car changing from comfy driving shoes to sexy heels and then smoothly stepping out of the car pretending I didn’t just almost poke my eye out. If you’re not going to drive, you have to get the bus or a train, which means walking for at least 15 minutes on terrain that, over the years, has been turned into a patchwork of old, new and ruined tarmac, with intervals of gravel and grass. So if I didn’t risk falling and cracking my head open, maybe the walk to the train station wouldn’t be so bad. Anyway, let’s imagine that I could get to town without any problems. So I park, or get off the train and, horror, I’m faced with kilometers of cobble stones, because it’s good to maintain the traditional appearance of a roman town, right?

However, over the years I’ve learnt a few tactics: firstly, if you look carefully you can actually miss the gaps, but that means looking down constantly and walking into a light pole; secondly, if you don’t actually put down the heel, you’re less likely to get it stuck – and you end up walking like an ostrich; and thirdly, on zebra crossings, usually the paint on the white parts fills in the gaps, so you should hop from one white stripe to the next. That’s what I call looking sexy in heels!! Again, let’s assume the pavement is from the 21st century and you can happily strut toward your destination, the destination usually being a bar or club of some sort (and regarding bars, I invite you to imagine a breakfast café with grandma sofas that, by dimming the lights, is supposed to become the “hip bar in the middle of town”). This is where the “living in the mountains” factor comes in. Mountain people don’t really wear high heels, unless it’s for a wedding or christening or graduation (and the walk they adopt is pretty much the same as when they’re wearing hiking boots). Therefore usually I’m the tallest girl in the room and apparently over-dressed and that just makes one uncomfortable! It also makes one looked at: by the guys (it’s always the sleazy ones, the normal ones really do think hiking boots are sexier and heels are something you only see on MTV) and also by the girls (who think I just trying to steal their men)! It’s so sad!

So over the years, I’ve learnt that the best way of surviving the journey to town and fitting in once I get there is to just wear ballerinas. And I’ll buy my high-heel shoes anyway because I can save them for the future – a very near future in which I’m gonna MOVE!!! And I’ll live in a high-heel-friendly town where I can safely go buy groceries in heels without breaking an ankle!

Vio’s first post

18 Aug

I guess my first post should be an introductory one! I set up this blog without any specific intentions. Maybe no one will ever even read it but it gives me the chance to actually write what I think and not just for myself. It’s like making a committment, like signing up to a gym instead of saying you’ll go jogging every once in a while. Some people say I’m good at writing. The first person was my elemetary school teacher who told my parents I had a lot of fantasy in writing stories! Then when I was about 10 I tried my hand at poetry, writing one particularly interesting one about bananas and how much I hated them. So I guess in part I’m here now to see whether any of that was actually true! What is true is that i enjoy writing. I enjoy communicating through words. I’m a little less enthusiastic about reading, I’m more of a pictures person which is what brought me to study architecture. However, one day I hope to use my eyes to see, use my head to think and use my words to communicate.

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