The Expanse Season 2 Has Arrived On Netflix UK

After what feels like a lifetime, season 2 of The Expanse has arrived on Netflix UK. Season 1 took us to about halfway through Leviathan Wakes, the first book in the series while season 2 finishes that book off and takes us part way through Caliban’s War.

The Expanse, if you’re new to the franchise, follows the adventures of James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante as they try to manoeuvre a complex political landscape consisting of the United Nations, Mars Congressional Republic, and the Outer Planets Alliance. Toss a mysterious aggressor into the mix who seems intent on causing a war, and you’ve got not only some great sci-fi but also a great story of intrigue.

Suffice to say this is one of my top TV picks, but if you’re in the mood for reading ahead the books are well worth a look too (I ended up reading them all so far).

Check out Season 2 of The Expanse on Netflix UK or, if you don’t have a Netflix account, you can pick up season 1 on Amazon.

Why I don’t like advert blockers (and why I use one)

People shouting about advertsAdvert blockers – the scourge of publishers and saviour of browsers. Or, at least, that’s the way they’re portrayed in myriad blog posts and articles across the Internet. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, advert blockers do exactly what the name suggests; they block adverts from appearing when you’re browsing the Internet.

Before we get going, it’s worth mentioning that I don’t run adverts on Geek-Speak. I used to but haven’t for quite some time. I also ran adverts on my YouTube channel until very recently but, again, no longer do.

Despite the fact that I don’t run adverts on my own content anymore, I understand why people do. I know running a website can be a costly business and publishers want to recoup some of that cost. Advertising is one way to do that. And that’s why I’ve always thought advert blockers are an unfair tool to be using when browsing the net. If a publisher has gone to the trouble of providing content for you to consume, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to include some way for them to make a living from their work. As I mentioned above, this argument isn’t entirely personal to me but it was at one point… and could be again.

If everyone on the net starts blocking adverts, publishers start to see their revenues drop. If publishers start to see their revenues drop, they’ll either go out of business or find another way to make their money, say by introducing paywalls or (and I hate this) asking you to fill in a survey before getting to view the content. In short, the money to run the Internet has to come from somewhere and if it’s not via advertising which, let’s face it, is free to you and me, it’ll be by some other means that won’t necessarily be as free!

OK Chris, but didn’t you mention you use an advert blocker?

Yes. I’ve just started. And I feel dirty.

Oh alright, I don’t feel dirty. Let me explain why I started using an advert blocker and what I think it means for the future of the Internet.

I started using an advert blocker because of bad adverts. Most of the sites I visit have adverts on them in one form or another and that’s perfectly fine. What started to get on my nerves was the number of sites I was visiting that had completely irrelevant adverts on them. I’ve lost track of the number of times I visited a site to take a look at someone doing car repairs (yes, I really do enjoy watching those videos) only to find the sidebar peppered with “Local mum tells you how to make £2000 a month from the comfort of your sofa” or the dreaded picture of a bride in a skimpy dress with the headline, “The photographer got more than he bargained for at this wedding!”. I mean, seriously. Those have nothing to do with the subject I was actually interested in and visited the site for.

Some of the adverts were bordering on pornographic. I’m an adult, but it gets a bit tricky when your wife notices some dodgy pictures on your computer screen and you have to convince her you really were trying to learn about MIG Welding.

After one bad advert too many, I came to a decision. That was it. I was going to have to install an advert blocker. The sad thing is I recognise it will block other less intrusive ads and, potentially, reduce the income of publishers I trust and care about.

So what can publishers do?

Stop showing bad adverts! I know that sounds really simplistic but if some adverts weren’t so annoying people wouldn’t need to resort to using ad blockers. Adblock Plus has a feature that allows you to let some “acceptable ads” through the filter, and the criteria look pretty sensible. Take a look at the Adblock Plus Acceptable Adverts page for details on that.

An alternative would be to stop showing adverts altogether and introduce another means of generating income like a paywall or subscription. That’s not going to be popular, but there has to be some means of income if a publisher wants to pay its hosting fees and salaries.

Is a paywall likely to work for smaller publishers (like me) though? I mean, if you were able to only see the introduction of this post would you have paid to read the rest? I think I’m a pretty good writer, but even I think paywalls aren’t the best means of generating income for small bloggers. Services like Patreon might be the way forward here though. Patreon lets you become a content creator’s “patron”, paying an amount of you choosing to support the content creator in their work. So, for example, you could decide to pay $1 per month to support Geek-Speak. It’s not a subscription as such because the site would be open to non-patrons as well as patrons, but it’s a way of showing your appreciation.

Before you think I’m about to go on the scrounge, I don’t have a Patreon set up (although I do have a link to send me a little Bitcoin if you enjoyed this at the end of the article). It is something I’ve thought about doing, however; especially as my desire to post more and more YouTube videos grows. It is very much a nascent thought, though, and not something I have plans to do in the immediate future.

So what do you think?

What do you think about ad blockers? Are they a problem for publishers? Will they cause a shift in how publishers make their money? And will that shift be for the better or worse?

Are adverts an annoyance to you, or are they a necessary part of life on the Internet?

And what do you think about ideas like Patreon? Does it seem like the future of supporting creative content? And, purely for interest at the moment, would you support a Patreon for content creation on Geek-Speak and our YouTube channel (admittedly, if I were to post content more often)?

As ever, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Rhett & Link: Facebook (old but good)

I’ve been looking through old posts on Geek-Speak lately, deleting ones that were very much of their time and no longer relevant, and rediscovering some stuff I’d forgotten about.

Here’s one from the depths of the archive – Rhett & Link’s Facebook song. It’s odd to see Facebook looking as it did all those years ago, but the song is still fantastic. Enjoy :)

Darth Vader on Harmonica (old but good!)

Yes, it’s been around for ages, but I still laugh when I watch this. Darth Vader on harmonica :)

See how Rogue One leads into A New Hope [spoilers]

First, SPOILERS AHEAD! Do not read any further if you don’t want to know the ending of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Still here?

Are you sure now?

Alright, here we go. Rogue One ends just before the opening scene of A New Hope. If you’ve seen A New Hope, you already know the story of Rogue One; it’s pretty much the opening crawl. While I appreciated Rogue One would fit nicely with the rest of the Star Wars canon I hadn’t realised just how much attention to detail had gone into making the two match up.

Rogue One ends (These are those spoilers, remember? One last chance to look away) with the Rebel Fleet taking a pounding from the Imperial Navy. Darth Vader makes a supremely memorable assault on the Tantive IV in an attempt to stop the Rebels escaping with the Death Star plans. We get to look inside the Tantive IV and get a brief on-screen appearance from a CGI Princess Leia.

Vimeo user Barre Fong has spliced the end of Rogue One with the opening of A New Hope, and it’s plain to see there was a great effort to make everything look just as it should. Sure, you can occasionally see the effects in A New Hope are a bit dated (after all, it did come out in 1977) but it still stands up well and you could almost believe it’s a continuation of the same movie.

Take a look at the video below and enjoy just how well Disney and Gareth Edwards made these two great movies join up (and look soon, because I have no idea if or when the video will be pulled off Vimeo).

If you would like to own Rogue One for yourself it will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on the 10th of April.

Classical orchestra and chilli peppers? How do they keep going!?

What happens if you give the Danish National Chamber Orchestra super-hot chilli peppers? Well, I know I’ve munched on a few chillis that turned out to be too much for me so you might be thinking you know how this is going to go.

Watch the video below, though (from 2014) and I think you’ll be surprised as just how disciplined these folks are to keep going while obviously suffering!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Trailer

Guardians of the Galaxy was (and still is) one of my favourite movies so I’m really looking forward to Vol. 2. The good news is, if the trailer is any indication, it looks like it’s going to be great!

Take a peek at the latest trailer below:

Did a cheeseburger really inspire the Millennium Falcon?

Millennium FalconWhen I was a teenager the story was going round that the design of Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon was inspired by a cheeseburger George Lucas was eating while thinking about how the space ships in his new movie should look.

He took the cheeseburger, stuck an olive on the side, and the Millennium Falcon was born… or at least the idea was.

I don’t know how these stories spread in a pre-Internet age but somehow that seemed to be the widely accepted understanding of how the Falcon came to be. But is it true? Michael Heilemann at Kitbashed has done some extensive research into the early stages of Star Wars’ design, and come up with an interesting alternative. He mentions the same story I heard, and then rapidly moves on to more believable versions of the Falcon’s origin story. Rather than replicate his material here, why not head on over and have a read of it on the Kitbashed site?

There’s no better source on the subject of design than one of the actual designers, and it’s great to see that Joe Johnston, visual effects pioneer and director, has given some of his own reflections into working on the design of Star Wars. You can find that on his Facebook page, and it both lends weight to some of Heilemann’s article and corrects a few things.

But back to the original question: did a cheeseburger really inspire the Millennium Falcon? Well, perhaps on a subconscious level, but not directly. It certainly doesn’t look like there was a lunch-time moment when the design crystallised. As with most things, the story is a little more complex than that.

Stampy’s Christmas Cake Caper

A few weeks ago I took my children Dundee to see the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Christmas Lecture… with one of their heroes: Stampy.

Who?

Stampy (Joseph Garrett) is one of the top-10 YouTube creators worldwide, posting “let’s play” videos and at least one Minecraft video per day.

The kids loved it, and I have to admit I quite enjoyed it too!

If you’re in the UK (sorry non-UK people) you can watch the video on the BBC iPlayer by going to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p039030s/stampys-christmas-cake-caper

The iPlayer shows the afternoon show, but we were at the evening one. If you want to see the Let’s Play from the evening check out the video below.

All I’ll say is the recording doesn’t do the volume justice… a whole theatre full of screaming children can be a tad noisy!

Independence Day: Resurgence trailer now out

Independence Day (1996 – wow, was it really that long ago?) saw alien invaders successfully sent packing from Earth. But, if that happened, would the invaders just give up and go away?

What if they came back? And what if mankind had been using tech salvaged from the first invasion to make sure they were ready for when it happened?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Independence Day: Resurgence.

The trailer has just been released, and the movie is scheduled to come out in the summer of 2016. Watch the trailer below, and don’t forget to tell us in the comments what you think!