HBO's sending an email out to people it suspects are secretly Australians who have subscribed to their service using sneaky, underhanded methods of giving them money and attention. Or so says SMH.
On Thursday I'd finally decided to just subscribe to HBO Now. The price isn't great considering I really only want it for Game of Thrones, but the option is available to me with minimal fuss and I'd much prefer paying than pirating. The only alternatives in Australia being Foxtel (urgh!) or pirating it.
Obviously piracy is free and easy once you know how, but recent legislation passed through Parliament might see the risk involved rise too high. (Read more on ABC.) Plus, well, it's immoral. And stuff.
So it's down to the notorious exorbitancy of a Foxtel subscription, or edging around HBO's geo-locking.
Let's do the Math of Thrones!
Foxtel math is pretty straightforward. You could sign up for a full service and pay a couple of hundred dollars over the course of a year long contract (nope!) or you could get Foxtel Play, their online streaming service, for a much more reasonable fee.
The minimum price for Foxtel Play with the additional package to get Game of Thrones is $30 per month for the first three months, then $45 a month thereafter. You get a free two week trial if you are a new customer and adding two months will get you to the end of the current Game of Thrones season, though just barely, if you time it right.
Total minimum cost for Game of Thrones via Foxtel Play for new customers: $60 Australian.
If you're not a new customer, you need three months, bringing the total to $90 Australian.
HBO Now math is a little more complicated. Before you can even subscribe to it you need a service that allows you to appear to be in another country. I use UnblockUs because it's ridiculously easy to set up and doesn't interfere with other internet traffic, but there are many similar services. At $4.99 a month it's a good investment on its own as it will also unblock things like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and Netflix - including letting you swap Netflix regions, if you're subscribed.
After that's set up you also need a US iTunes account (free) and a method to fund that iTunes account. Most commonly this is a US iTunes gift card, but prepaid credit cards are also an option.
Now you have access to the (much richer) US iTunes library you may want to buy other things too, but you will need at least $14.99 to start your HBO Now subscription. With HBO Now you get the first month free, meaning you will need to pay for at least two months in total to bring your coverage to three altogether - Game of Thrones is 10 episodes long.
UnblockUs for 3 months ($4.99 x 3) plus HBO Now for 2 months ($14.99 x 2) comes to $44.95 US.
Total cost for Game of Thrones via UnblockUs and HBO Now: $57.76 Australian right now, courtesy of XE's currency convertor.
The Australian dollar has been falling a bit of late, but it's still cheaper even for new Foxtel customers to go the HBO Now route. If you're an existing or previous Foxtel customer then HBO is by far the cheaper option.
Obviously this is not practical for everyone, but it's not terribly difficult and the content you get for the money is far and above that of the Foxtel offering.
If HBO really does cut Australians off when they've actually been paying, well... why wouldn't I just pirate it? I did try to pay you. Apparently my money's only good if it filters through Foxtel's hands first? Get bent.
Disclaimer: It's been more than three weeks in total, I'm not really looking for a date, I wouldn't know what to do with a date if I did get one and I seem to have misplaced my pants.
Anyway, a couple of months ago two news stories caught my attention, both involving internet dating app Tinder. The first was an alleged gang rape of a woman in Sydney after meeting someone from the app, a claim which was withdrawn days later. The second was the death of a woman allegedly pushed from the balcony of an apartment owned by her match. He's now facing murder charges, but is out on bail somehow.
But it can't all be fake rape stories and real death, can it? I decided to be a tiny bit brave and find out.
Signing up is surprisingly simple. Download the app to your phone, use your Facebook credentials to sign in and you're perusing the ladies or gentlemen in seconds. The app simply pulls in your Facebook "About" information and some of your profile pictures to get you started.
Does your Facebook read or look like a dating profile? Mine sure didn't! But it's not terribly difficult to go edit your details and pick which photos you really want to use. Changes made in the app aren't reflected on your Facebook page, so you can keep your "social" and your "dating" profiles separate, if you wish.
It also notes your Likes and Friends, so you can see if you have any interests or friends in common. This may or may not be awkward, depending on your interests and network of Facebook friends. The only friend I've ever had in common with prospective matches is my "boss" over at Player Attack. But she knows just about everyone in the world, so that was sort of inevitable.
Sorting out some matches to start chatting to is as simple as swiping pictures to the left or right. Swipe to the left if you're not interested, swipe to the right if you are. You can also hit the X or <3 buttons. Or if you have as much time to waste as me you can open someone's profile, read their About bits, look at more pictures and then make up your mind.
Now, I am not a particularly attractive man. Further, I am not particularly photogenic. So I was not expecting a whole lot of interest in my profile. In order to chat to anyone you both need to have picked each other out of the teeming masses, which is not great odds.
You can narrow the field somewhat by only looking for people within a certain distance, but that can be a little creepy when you see people out of their usual context. I don't need to know what the supermarket checkout chick likes in the bedroom, for instance.
Assuming all goes to plan and you match with someone, what now? Well, you send messages to each other through the app. Maybe about things in their profile, maybe the weather, maybe you forgo all that in favour of a drink down the pub right away. It's really up to you.
And that's where such things can be a bit dangerous. It's not just internet dating, of course. Any sort of setup where you're meeting someone you don't otherwise know can be risky and it's particularly easy to misrepresent yourself online. All the usual advice on dating or going out in general still applies; don't accept drinks from strangers, don't leave your drink unattended, don't agree to leave public spaces unless you are comfortable with the person, ensure a friend knows your plans for the night, etc.
There's a surprising amount of wisecracks over the balcony death on Tinder, a lot of people asking that you not push them off and the like. It's a little offputting, if I'm honest.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Tinder (after being murderbait) is the flood of fake accounts. More attractive male specimens might have better success rates but around 90-95% of my "matches" are with, essentially, prostitutes. Probably not even with their actual pictures. Maybe not even prostitutes and the whole thing is just fishing for credit card details. For obvious reasons, I have not tested this.
Overall my "three weeks" on Tinder has been... interesting. I am dumbfounded by the number of seemingly-real women on the service, especially in my area. I would not have thought there'd be half so many. I'm also quite surprised at how easy it would be to get a date via Tinder, as I would have thought the sheer number of options and my mediocre looks would have put me out of the race entirely.
As a dating app, it seems surprisingly good. Don't take dumb risks with strangers and you should be just fine. As a "it's 2am and I can't sleep" activity, it's pretty great as well. If you run out of people in your area just bump the rangefinder out another 5km and scroll some more. Endlessly entertaining.
If you're an Aussie and you've ever tried ordering things over the internet you've probably discovered the prices are lower on any number of things in America, but American stores typically won't ship to Australia. Why? Nobody knows!
Previously you could use services like Shipito to circumvent some of these restrictions. You get a US based address with them and have your goods delivered there, then they ship them to you for a small fee plus postage.
I guess AusPost wanted a slice of that pie because they recently launched ShopMate, where you get a US based address to ship your goods to then pay AusPost the cost of bringing them to you.
So, cool. Does it work?
What made me try it was a Star Wars themed "mystery box" that ThinkGeek wouldn't ship outside the US. Why not? I have the box now and I still don't know. Maybe it's illegal to export Death Stars, even when they're only tea infusers?
Anyway, I chucked that and some themed polo shirts in my cart and placed an order on the 12th of November. ThinkGeek shipped it the 13th and it arrived at ShopMate on... the 20th. A whole week for delivery within the US. Okay.
It then took another week to go from their warehouse to my door, halfway round the world. Arriving on the 27th means it took 15 days, which isn't particularly fast but not painfully slow.
As for the cost? If ThinkGeek had been willing to ship directly to me it would have cost around $US55. As it was technically being shipped to a US address and they had free shipping at the time I only had to pay the ShopMate fee.
Which came to $AU59.70. It ain't cheap, but after the currency conversion it worked out cheaper than the direct option, oddly enough.
The only really disappointing part of the whole experience was the lack of tracking available between ShopMate's US location and the parcel arriving in Australia. You don't get any kind of update until it's in the country and ready for delivery. It's a bit of a nitpick, it doesn't really matter so long as your stuff arrives, but it would be nice. Maybe you can track it and I just can't find the right bit?
One test run isn't conclusive but so far it's reasonably priced, reasonably quick and super easy to use. I'll certainly be using it again. Possibly to get some Lego...
I'm not a fan of "gay" being used in a derogatory fashion. Both when it's used to demean other people and when it's used to express dissatisfaction with some thing or concept or... whatever. This is not a secret, I've railed against it any number of times.
But why? Why isn't it okay to say a Team Fortress 2 map is gay? Or the pen that keeps running out is gay? Or paying extra for pineapple on your pizza is gay?
Because every time you use it that way you're reinforcing the notion that "gay" is synonymous with "bad". And therefore being gay is bad.
You may not mean it in the sense of homosexuals being bad. It likely doesn't cross most people's minds at the time they utter it. It's become so ingrained in some people that they'll actually defend their usage of the word. They think it's been "reclaimed" or somehow repurposed to not refer to homosexuality anymore, despite the prominent usage in various advocacy groups and celebrations like the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
I am not a writer.
I say that a lot, especially of late, but I don't think people really understand why. It's not false modesty, or fishing for people to tell me I am one, or that I am good at it. It's that I think the standard of writing required to be labelled a writer is markedly higher than my own skills in the field.
Compiling recaps of The Biggest Loser isn't much more than transcription with a few swears and observations thrown in. It's more about having the ability to type a decent amount of words per minute than it is any particular ability with shaping those words into something worth reading.
There's been a lot of discussion on Twitter about the "friend zone". Or so Draqul says on her Tumblr thing. For the most part it has passed me by.
Reading the linked email on Reddit from "Mike" to the unlucky Lauren, I can see why it would be a topic of debate, especially on The Twitters, where we love to talk about everything and forget we only have 140 characters. Though I'm not sure why anyone would want to friend zone Mike. He seems like a real catch!
But what I really want to talk about is the lack of friend zone issues experienced by Draqul, or more exactly, my chronic and perpetual friend zoning by every female, ever. And why it's not actually a terrible curse.
There's a number of reasons I am eternally in the "just a friend" box, from being beaten by the ugly stick to living in the wrong state to just plain being a dude when the lady in question prefers anything but men. And every possible reason in between. I'm sure this is not an unfamiliar situation for a lot of people on both sides of the gender-fence. And it causes a lot of angst, for some.
But think about it for a moment - okay, you might not get to touch The Boobies. But there must be other things you like about this person, right? They enjoy the same sorts of movies, or music or outdoor activities? Maybe they're a big fan of video games or philosophy books. Or they tell great jokes and funny anecdotes. Perhaps they too collect stamps.
Regardless of what it is, you still share that with them and thus they are likely to be a good friend. And while most everyone is a fan of boobies, having friends is hardly the worst thing in the world.
If it was only a physical attraction to begin with then there really are plenty more fish in the sea. Probably ones with which you share interests and who are also open to a relationship with you. Perhaps that girl who put you in the friend zone will introduce you...?
Just don't be like Mike and not recognise when it's time to let it go. Calling someone "impolite, immature, passive aggressive, and cowardly" is not the way to their heart.
And if all else fails, high class call girls/boys are probably cheaper anyway. :-P
To donate to the Premier's Disaster relief appeal - http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html
How bad is the flooding? Here's just one video.
There's dozens more videos and pictures all over the internet and things are still expected to get worse. They're currently predicting the floodwaters will peak on Thursday but obviously that depends whether more rain falls.
Many people are still missing though it's hoped everyone else will have enough warning to get to safety as the flooding continues.
Seriously scary stuff. Stay safe, Queenslanders! :(
Well, seems I have a blog again. They're still called blogs, aren't they? I certainly hope so, else I'm already off to a bad start.
Why is my blog called Rambilicious? Your guess is as good as mine. You've got to call your blog something and as I do enjoy a good spot of rambling it seemed like a reasonably descriptive yet somewhat made up word.
This is where I would tell you what this blog is going to be about. But I have no set agenda to fulfill. I'll float between gaming and television, science and hilarity, website tips and a smattering of politics.
Why now? New year, new start.
My one clear plan for my blog is to keep a record of the various games I complete. I always mean to keep track and never do. I always mean to let people know what I thought of the games I finish, but I never seem to get around to it. With a blog I can do those things and bitch more extensively about the games that need it, to boot.
Those "SEO Experts" deserve a kick in the pants and I may just give it to them.
I'll still be on Twitter and I'll still be recapping the new Australian season of The Biggest Loser, so if you've followed me from either of those places, never fear.
For better or worse I need more than 140 characters to express some of my opinions. Whether that is a good thing remains to be seen.