Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” banned because of its “violent content”…?


Here’s yet another tale of little grey men in little grey offices trying to censor the internet: author Mark Forsyth was in the British Library, and needed to access an online version of one of the Bard’s most famous plays; but the on site computer network denied him access because of its “violent content”! We’re talking about a play that is hundreds of years, is recognized as one of the greatest works of literature in the English language; a play that is routinely taught to 14 year olds – yet the British Library classified it as unsuitable and blocked it! Many young students who don’t want to bother reading the play now have a cast-iron excuse: they’re not allowed to read it!

The British Library has tried to shift the blame (they claim it was down to a newly installed wi-fi service from a third-party provider, who were probably doing what they were told to do), and the Library now say the play has been unblocked. All well and good – but how many other plays, novels, poems, etc have also been blocked? This will be revealed in a piece-meal manner as it’s revealed that one literary work after another has been blocked.

One security expert said the incident highlighted the “dysfunction” of internet filters.

Internet filters have recently come under increased scrutiny, after the government announced that pornography will be automatically blocked by UK internet providers, unless customers choose otherwise.

Digital rights activists raised concerns about the move, fearing that the lists of “banned” sites could be expanded to include pages that should be publicly available.

Prof Ross Anderson, a security expert at Cambridge University, told the BBC that internet filters were “pointless” and that it was “completely inappropriate” to have one in the British Library.

He added: “Everything that is legal should be available over the library’s wi-fi network. The only things they should block are the few dozen books against which there are court judgements in the UK.

“One of the functions of deposit libraries is to keep everything, including smut.”

The British Library defended its position, claiming it was trying to shield users from pornography and gambling websites. But I don’t see how banning literary classics or unfashionable political views will protect the children from smut and scratch-cards…

If you wanna do something, short of fire-bombing the British Library (an illegal act I would never suggest), you could always sign the Open Rights Group’s petition. If you’re one of the unbelievers, online petitions can have an effect. Honest! (So can fire-bombs, but they’re illegal yadda yadda hey!)

“Won’t somebody please think of the children?”


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Last time I was in my local Lidl supermarket, I picked up a leaflet all about their new online photo printing service, They print digital photos for you, on paper, canvas, greeting cards, mugs and mouse mats, photo-books and booklets – ie the same stuff other such online services do. But Lidl is one of those supermarkets that sell goods with unfamiliar names, usually not well-known brands in the UK but of very good quality, for strikingly low prices. So, does their photo printing service follow the same model?

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to embark on a price comparison (the Boots site seems to want me actually create an item before it’ll tell me the price, and I’m too busy right now to go through the motions of making, say, a photobook that I don’t actually want to buy, I just want prices). But maybe someone reading this has bought/is considering buying an item, and they could post price differences in Comments? If any reader wants to do that, I’ll be forever grateful. Saying that, Lidl is well-known for its cheap prices, so I reckon there’s a decent chance this will carry over to the photo-printing service.

I was happy to see that the “free desktop ordering software” is available for Linux as well as Mac and Windows. Nice that businesses are finally accepting that Linux exists. Linux users may not be as numerous as those of Windows or MacOS, but we are out there and we ain’t going away. Kudos to Lidl on this point alone.

When I have more time, I’ll make a more in-depth report and comparison. But for now, I’m saying: is out there. Check it out.

Incidentally: uses centimetres to describe image dimensions, while Boots Photo still uses inches. Bloody idiots, companies should either harmonize their measurement units or use both. But since they’re not doing that: I use a site to do the conversion for me, whether cm -> inch or inch -> cm. Very handy.



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