19 March 2014

Oxford Uni Racism, Threats to Students Watching Porn, Card Fraud Up…

Campaign against racism on Oxford campus

Students of colourStudents at Oxford University have launched a campaign speaking out against discrimination and racism on campus.

The campaign – inspired by similar actions at US institution Harvard –  involves students of colour being photographed with a statement aimed at destroying a stereotype or exposing racism on campus.

Our take: We highly recommend you give this Tumblr account (link here) a good look over, it really is quite an eye opener. In reaction to the campaign, a spokesperson for Oxford has claimed that the campus is welcoming and inclusive for all, but this seems at odds to the level disaffection felt by some students on campus.

TalkTalk phone and broadband price hikes

Talktalk Price HikesThe telecommunications company TalkTalk have announced that their customers will face price hikes from the 1st of May.

The company is ‘improving’ (read increasing the cost of) their packages to incorporate more TV content along with telephone and broadband connections.

Our take: Remember when companies just did one thing, competently and for a low cost? That was good wasn’t it? If you’re affected by the price increases, don’t forget that new Ofcom rules mean you can leave a contract (and switch to another) without penalty if you weren’t properly notified about price hikes when you bought the service.

Stolen bank card fraud highest since 2006

Stolen Bank Card FraudAccording to data from the UK Cards Association bank card fraud is at its highest since 2006. Losses from all types of fraud rose by 16% in 2013, to a massive £450 million, with £58.9 million of that coming from lost or stolen cards.

Distraction thefts – where the pickpocket will ask for directions then steal the card – have been highlighted as a particular problem.

Our take: This just goes to show you can’t be too careful when you’re out on the street. Make sure that when you’re using a cash point or paying for something with your card that you’re aware of where it is and what’s going on around you at all times. Internet based card fraud is also on the rise, so again be careful when you’re paying for things online!

Porn watching students fall victim to German laws

Redtube Germany StudentsA growing number of UK students spending a study year abroad in Germany have fallen victim to aggressive copyright lawyers enforcing the country’s strict laws.

The firms are targeting users of the porn website RedTube, sending written warnings demanding payments or risk facing further legal action. Exactly how they’ve got their hands on user information is a bit worrying.

Our take: Well it’s one way of being caught with your pants down and quite an embarrassing phone call back to your parents. It’s easy to forget with the internet that not everything is free, especially with material that is illicit in subject matter to begin with. If you have received a copyright letter, you’re definitely better off getting legal counsel than hiding in shame.

Carbon tax cut may lead to lower utility bills

Carbon Tax BudgetIt is expected that Chancellor George Osborne will announce a freeze on carbon tax during his budget report today.

The cut to Carbon Price Floor, which was introduced in 2013 to try and cut pollution and prioritise green energy, should lead to lower electricity bills for households across the country.

The other big news from the budget is the new 12 sided £1 coin, which will eventually replace the round ones currently in rotation.

Our take: It’s about time something was done about rising electricity bills, it’s a noble intention to try and save the planet and make companies more environmentally friendly but the consumer shouldn’t be the only ones picking up the cost for it.

State of the Machin: On Game of Thrones Season 4 (Reasonably spoiler free)

GOT Season 4The increased number of Game of Thrones trailers, posters and vaguely related ‘clickbait’ blog posts appearing out and about can only mean that the return of Game of Thrones is imminent.

Others might be mourning the end of True Detective, but here on State of the Machin we’re getting fully behind the Game of Thrones hype machine.

We’re being teased with almost daily releases of clips from the new season or leaked behind the scenes photos. The most interesting part of the press junket so far however, has come from an interview with the showrunners who claim that the show will run for seven seasons.

That puts season four right at the centre of the series, and those who have read the books in the series (currently five, with another two planned) will know that’s a lot of content to cover in a relatively short space of time.

What’s also intriguing is the promise of more action per episode, rather than one of two ‘big battle’ episodes like we’ve had in the past few seasons.

While the show doesn’t necessarily need a lot of violence to keep it interesting, more iconic visuals that accompany these set pieces like the green wildfire from Season two’s Blackwater will be more than welcome.

Another exciting prospect for the season four is the introduction of new characters. While the Red Viper is an obivous choice, and a firm fan favourite from the books, I’m also interested to see how big a role Mark Gatiss (of Sherlock, Doctor Who and the League of Gentlemen) plays in the show and how Roger Ashton-Griffiths plays Mace Tyrell.

Just three weeks to go! Are you as excited as I am?

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