And the winner of American Idol is …

After Melinda was sent home from American Idol, leaving Blake and Jordin to battle it out for the prize, I had to post a follow up here. I was relieved to see that Jordin Sparks has won American Idol (to the extent being number 1 on the show makes a huge difference – Blake and Melinda will probably both have record deals in the coming months anyway). Here she is with her final performance which took her to the top position:

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The American Idol final 2 – SPOILER WARNING!!

I just noticed that “Melinda Doolittle” is one of the top 10 search terms in Technorati so I took a look to see what all the fuss is about and it turns out that Melinda has been sent off leaving Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks. This really doesn’t make sense to me. Blake is lucky to have made it this far but to have him remain in the show while Melinda walks is just crazy. Can’t the American public see that Melinda is far more talented than Blake? Just take a look at Melinda’s rendition of Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” a couple weeks ago:

I suppose it isn’t really a huge problem for Melinda. She is sure to find herself being presented with a few good offers by music labels because she really is that good. She has done an excellent job with every song I have seen her perform. It does make you wonder about the people doing the voting. I really wouldn’t have thought Blake’s beatboxing would be so popular … jeez!

What a way to bugger up a really good song …

As for the final, I’m holding thumbs for Jordin. She really does deserve to be in the final so I hope she wins this.

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Its the stuff that gets the juices flowing …

I had lunch with Heather today and we chatted about projects we are collaborating on, might collaborate on and we are working on on our own or in our own organisations and it struck me how much I enjoy being a digital socialist. I love the thought of working on a project that will make me absurd amounts of money, sure, but I really love the idea of doing work that has as its focus making a real contribution to the community itself. This is the stuff job satisfaction and the warm fuzzies are made of …

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Virginia Tech shootings

I just got home and noticed Dennis MacDonald posting something about shootings at Virginia Tech on Twitter. It seems that the gunman opened fire in a dorm and then again in a classroom on campus. He was eventually killed (although it is unclear whether he took his own life or was shot by police) but not before he killed 30 people. Many of the news sites have coverage from the last few hours including Yahoo! News and CNN. A video from the shooting is here (it loads pretty slowly). Update: CBS has posted a video on YouTube as well:

The news sites are littered with accounts from students who witnessed the bustle around the shootings and efforts by security teams and police to keep students safe from the shooter. One student had a harrowing story about a near fatal encounter with the shooter:

Nicholas Macko, a student at the school, spoke to Ireland’s RTÉ News and described in great detail to newsreader Anne Doyle his experience at the center of the shootings. He told of how he had been attending a math class and heard gunshots in the corridor. He and the ten other people in the classroom barricaded themselves into the room, called 911 and waited for help to arrive as the gunman went on a murderous rampage around them. At one point Macko claimed the gunman even attempted to break down the door to their hiding place but, when unsuccessful, continued on his killing spree elsewhere. He alleged they spent twenty to twenty-five minutes waiting for the police to free them while listening to the sounds of their fellow students being gunned down around them.

There doesn’t seem to be much clarity on who the shooter was or whether the shooter was a student at Virginia Tech. What is clear is that these killings surpass the horrific shootings at Columbine in 1999 and the Texas in 1966. It is likely to spark new debate about gun control laws and shootings on campus. I just hope that this doesn’t lead to copycat killings or a rash of new shootings at schools and universities. It is just crazy that this sort of thing happens. We read about violence at schools and this sort of lunacy really brings it home.

The sad thing about some of these stories is that they often speak more about how alienated and detached teens and young adults can become. I really wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be a story about a guy who was marginalised or otherwise alienated and who finally snapped or even decided that this was a lot like some or other game he had been playing and wanted to see what the real thing was like compared to the game. Actually, maybe I will be surprised by a new level of inhuman brutality. Hope not.

Update: According to this story on the Boston Herald site, there may have been two shooters. The shootings themselves were about 2 hours apart and Virginia Tech is being criticised quite heavily for not spreading the news about the first shootings sooner and cancelling classes. It seems officials on campus thought the first shooting was an isolated incident and didn’t feel the need to say anything further. A couple hours later a gunman chained the doors to the gymnasium closed and started shooting, first at the professor and then at the class members. According to Associated Press (via Yahoo! News):

Trey Perkins, who was sitting in a German class in Norris Hall, told The Washington Post that the gunman barged into the room at about 9:50 a.m. and opened fire for about a minute and a half, squeezing off about 30 shots.

The gunman first shot the professor in the head and then fired on the students, Perkins said. The gunman was about 19 years old and had a “very serious but very calm look on his face,” he said.

“Everyone hit the floor at that moment,” said Perkins, 20, of Yorktown, Va., a sophomore studying mechanical engineering. “And the shots seemed like it lasted forever.”

More recent reports indicate that the gunman who struck the gymnasium committed suicide. I am sure we will have more clarity on how many shooters there were once tests are conducted on the weapon/s recovered by federal authorities.

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Why lawyers are special

Dave Winer has a great post on why lawyers are special. I had a bit of a laugh when I saw this. This paragraph pretty much sums it up:

But — people are scared of “outing” lawyers who misbehave because when a lawyer gets mad, he or she can destroy you. I suppose a doctor can too, but that’s a little too scary to contemplate — let’s hope that doesn’t actually happen. But lawyers try to destroy people as a matter of everyday business. Non-lawyers just accept it with a shoulder-shrug.

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Enough to drive a person to piracy

I really dig the Nelly Furtado track “Say it right” and I have been looking for a place I can buy the single from online and I am at a loss.

Nelly Furtado.jpgOh sure the song is on iTunes and I would love to be able to buy it there (along with loads of other music) but the powers that be at Apple have deemed us South Africans unworthy and because I don’t have the right credit card and foreign address details to spoof the system, I am left with very few legal options.

Sure, one option is to just go out there and buy the album … have you seen what these things cost lately? A CD costs R150. Wow! Ok, so I haven’t bought a CD in a while but I really remember when they were a lot cheaper. Another option is to go to a store that sells Windows Media Audio encoded music (shudder!) and buy the song there, rip it to a CD and then import into iTunes (which probably isn’t legal so that isn’t a great option either) but the one local option likely to have the song, Musica, told me that Internet Explorer 7 was the wrong browser for the site (I needed IE 6 or better – just not IE 7) and that was the end of that idea.

So instead we are once again left in this dusty backwater town on the Web, not trusted to buy music from the iTunes store despite what must be the tremendous success of the iPod here in South Africa (witness the iPodcast competition being promoted by Apple SA). This really pisses me off. No wonder some people pirate music, they are not given legal options to buy music online if they are not in a major market. I mean seriously, what does it really cost to open the iTunes Store here (even without the movies and TV series we will get to in 5 years time when our TV networks decide to put them on – another rant) and let us Saffas buy loads of music from the store? Doesn’t Apple like our money? It seems to love our money when we spend it in the Apple store or on Apple products, so why not online, in the iTunes Store where we could rather spend all our money buying music from Apple than from the likes of Look & Listen and Musica?

And you know the worst part of it all? No-one from Apple is going to tell us when we can expect to be blessed with access to the iTunes Store. All we will get is a bland, unhelpful statement that there are no plans to open the iTunes Store in South Africa this century, or at all. Aside from quality issues with recent Apple products, this is the one thing that really brings me to despise Apple on days like this.

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