Drones are bad, mmmkay?

Look, I’m not stupid. (Careful now.)

There’s no doubt that some people will use drones illegally and will do bad things with them. Just like some people have done and will continue to do bad things with basically everything else that exists: shoesvans, turtlesfixings, sports equipment, cutlerybits of musical instrumentsdogs, diggers – even fruit.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point.

But this BBC article – ostensibly about how criminals using drones can or could be detected and brought to justice – does seem to go out of its way in order to portray drones in an extraordinarily bad light. (Which, incidentally, makes for less than ideal flying conditions.)

I mean, just look at the image they chose to illustrate it:

That’s exactly what I look like when I fly my drone.
Furtive. Disguised. Illegal. Determined. Criminal.
(And with a jaunty tilt on my remote control.)

Still, an excellent demonstration of VLOS. Well done.

And then there are words, like these:

Whether it is flying illicit goods into forbidden places, spying on people, interrupting the work of the emergency services or worrying wild animals or aircraft, the threat they present is growing.

Spying on people? Have you any idea how absolutely amazing your drone equipment has to be to “spy” on people? My Mavic has a 12MP camera. It’s half as powerful as the one on my cellphone. And a lot noisier.
My DSLR and its telephoto lens though? Silent and powerful, like a beagle fart. Amazing for spying on people, and yet its ownership is wholly exempt from any legislation. Hmm.

Sure, someone managed to get some cigarettes and a DVD player (actually quite impressive) into a prison using a drone. And that’s not good. But then, naughty people put mobile phones into chocolate bars to get them “inside”, so should we…  should we ban the sale of Mars bars or something? No. No, we shouldn’t, because they’re delicious and most people just eat them, completely legally.

For the article to then go on and use a quote from a “drone expert” suggesting that drones could be used to disperse bio-weaponised anthrax does seem to be just a teensy-tiny bit scaremongery. Because yes, while it is technically possible, the issue there is not really the drone, but rather the bio-weaponised anthrax, no?

All in all, this does seem to be a disappointingly one-sided article. Yes, it’s about crime and drones, but in telling us about those things, it does seem to suggest that crime is all that drones are going to be used for, tarring all drone pilots with the same sticky brush, and conveniently ignoring the many thousands of us who are operating wholly within the law.
But then of course, we must remember that it’s ever so cool to hate these new-fangled tools of annoyance and terrorism – and their users – at the moment, so maybe it’s just trying to tap into the Daily Mail-created zeitgeist.

I completely understand the need for some legislation around this hobby (both flying drones and production of bio-weaponised anthrax), but I’m growing increasingly tired of the incessant anti-drone rhetoric I seem to be seeing everywhere these days.
I just hope that the individuals charged with making the rules are a little bit less alarmist and blinkered than journo Paul Marks and… well… everyone else, actually.

I’ve been saying…

I love it when a plan comes together …when two recent 6000 miles… blog posts are linked by some external force or means.

I’ve been talking a lot about the local water restrictions (because it is big, big news here) and yesterday, I mentioned how people hate “drones” because they think that they are spying on them.

Guess what, readers – today, there was this on the Cape Talk website:

The City says about 20 000 residents are guilty of excessive water consumption.

It was revealed on Friday that the largest water consumers include the green belt of Newlands and Constantia as well as neighbouring suburbs Athlone, Newfields, Rylands and Lansdowne.In the northern suburbs, more big consumers are to be found in Kraaifontein, while further afield verdant Somerset West is another water-guzzling area.

Yeah, “water-guzzling”, “verdant” Somerset West. Sort yourself out.

The City says they will be working with residents to reduce usage before taking harsher measures.
Limberg says they will begin introducing new technology such as drones.

ROBOTIC SPY CAMERAS! EYES IN THE SKY! IT’S LIKE 1984 ALL OVER AGAIN. (I MEAN THE BOOK, NOT THE YEAR!) (DRONES HADN’T REALLY BEEN INVENTED BACK THEN.) IT’S INVADING MY PRIVACY AND LET’S FACE IT, THE OPERATORS ARE ACTUALLY JUST LOOKING FOR BIKINI-CLAD SUNBATHERS IN THE BACK GARDENS, AREN’T THEY? SICKOS!

See what I mean?

Negative perceptions

On the DJI Mavic Pro Owners Facebook page, this question:

DRONE vs QUADCOPTER
would it be better if we started calling these “quadcopters” ? Public has a stigma against the word “drone”
drone = surveillance
quadcopter = hobby
just a thought …

I’ve only had my Mavic for a few weeks now, but I completely agree with this sentiment. When mention of it came up at the recent Molton Brown Curry Club, the immediate reaction was that I had obviously bought it to spy on my neighbours.

Yeah, that’s exactly why I spent $[loads] on the Mavic. I was desperate to see what was going on next door, and I needed to upgrade the current periscope over the back fence setup I was using previously.

And even when we’re on the field, flying well away from anyone and anything, we’ve noticed that we’re still getting disapproving looks from dog walkers. I like to think that I am a considerate flyer: I’m aware of the rules and of my responsibilities, and (literally) go out of my way to avoid disturbing or bothering other people.
But it’s only a matter of time until someone writes a dramatic letter to the school and flying there is banned. It’s coming.
And why? Well, here’s a reply on Facebook, which makes some good points:

Euphemism treadmill. No matter what we call it, it will be viewed negatively because of what it is. A flying camera. People don’t like the idea that they are being watched/recorded even in places where they don’t have a realistic expectation of privacy.

The school field being one of those places. If I was sitting on that same bench but rather than holding a Mavic controller, I was playing with the long lens on my camera, no-one would be so much as batting an eyelid. And I’d know that, because I could take photos of their eyelids from a huge distance away with the long lens on my camera.
Far more so than with the Mavic.

Facebook commenter continues:

The only way to break the stigma is to show people the positive side of them and show that they are less of a threat to their privacy than the kid across the street with a telescope.

Yes, of course. Except that while the Molton Brown boys might be open to this idea, the dog walkers on the school field will almost certainly not want to engage.

If you go down to Agulhas, you’ll see that just next to the lighthouse there is already a “Drone Free Zone” sign. Just a reminder that you’re not allowed to fly anywhere in any of the SA National Parks – and that’s absolutely fair enough. Their gaff, their rules.

I’ve been very careful to look (in detail) about where I can fly and where I can’t around Cape Agulhas. I’ve already got my routes planned and my photos and videos in my head, ready to go. All street legal, all above board and I can’t wait to play.
But half the reason for my checking and double checking this stuff is that I need to know my rights in case I am challenged, because I’m almost expecting that I will be.

Why? Because of those immediate negative perceptions around quadcopters, UAVs, flying cameras…

… around drones.

Is This The Best Album Review Ever?

And Was That A Bit Of A Clickbaity Post Title?

Whatevs.

I’ve been listening to Drones, Muse’s seventh studio album for a couple of weeks now and it’s still not quite bitten. Just still a little bit hit and miss for me. One thing that is for sure (and is backed up by ever other review I’ve read thus far) is that it’s a “concept album” set in “a harrowing, Orwellian picture of a world reduced to a totalitarian state”, and describing “the journey of a human, from their abandonment and loss of hope, to their indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to their eventual defection from their oppressors”. Happy days.

Continuing from where The Resistance left off and railing against Big Government and Big Corporates (the album is released on small independent label, Warner Bros), Drones – promised as a return to their roots – seems to have done that rather effectively by simply being a mishmash of all the previous Muse albums. And that is no bad thing. In fact, musically, I think that the individual tracks are fairly spectacular. Together, though – I just don’t know.

Some people have made their minds up though, like this reviewer for example. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think that he’s hugely impressed.

F*** me with the wet end of a guided f***ing missile that’s accidentally landed in a giant tub of f***ing horseshit, the f***ing swear word hasn’t been coined that’s sufficiently f***ing potent enough to convey just what a jawdroppingly, pants-chewingly, arse-achingly abysmal f***ing album these serially offending c***wits have come up with this time round! To call it “utter bollocks” would a f***ing insult even to the meanest, sweatiest pair of bollocks! I would in all seriousness consider my time to have been more rewardingly spent if I’d pressed my f***ing ear up against the bollocks of a random f***ing bloke on the tube for 53 f***ing minutes than listened to the toxic f***ing barrel of rancid elephant smegma that is Drones! Can you imagine the internal agonies of whatever poor c*** of a f***ing record company executive had to experience every last minute of this pompous, incoherent, incontinent, beyond-laughable, addled, 112th rate, thunderously f***ing vacuous tower of toss?

If you can get past the constant self-censorship (which is actually rather off-putting, and not just in that is constantly disrupts the readability of the column) and try to imagine this as the rage of a utterly livid music journalist (something like an unrestrained Nick Taras) in a darkened room of a bedsit in London, rather than a contrived attention-seeking list of obscenities, then it could be one of the best album reviews ever. And I’m giving “Mr Agreeable” (for it is he) the benefit of the doubt, because lines like:

the toxic f***ing barrel of rancid elephant smegma

and:

“Save me, from the ghosts and shadows before they eat my soul”, warbles Bellamy, like he’s having his f***ing gonads sandpapered by an over-fussy mother!

would get nothing but praise were they to appear in an episode of Blackadder.

Mr Agreeable may not be Richard Curtis or Rowan Atkinson. He may not even be agreeable.
But this might just be the best album review I have ever read.