It started innocently enough. Years ago, I started viewing images compressed with the JPEG codec. "Unlike GIF", its featureset stated, "this image format uses a compression algorithm that discards portions of the image not perceived by your brain." "Wow!", I thought, "What a great idea, why waste space and download time on image data my brain can't use?" Even though I felt a fondness for the lossless GIF format (this was before Unisys became patent-anal), the reasons to switch to JPEG were too compelling: smaller file sizes AND more colors! I downloaded a good JPEG viewer for DOS and bought a brand new ISA Cirrus Logic 1MB true-color SVGA graphics card and installed it in my 386 - I was about to experience graphical bliss. Little did I know what hidden ulterior motives this format had in store for me.

My initial response to this influx of new imagery was quite stimulating, but as time wore on, something seemed lacking. I couldn't quite put a finger on it, but something was wrong with what I was viewing - the thrill was gone. Becoming less and less satisfied with the usual run-of-the-mill images, I began to seek out more unconventional images. This lead me down a dark path, where I left the comfortable confines of the local BBSs and started associating with seedy characters on a major online service. It wasn't long before I realized I could get any kind of images I wanted; I could experiment to my heart's content and find new images that brought back the old rush I've been without for so long. Some of what I tried made me sick, some did nothing for me, and finally I found images that put me in a nirvana-like state of bliss. I became obsessed and it took over my life. I would not sleep, nor eat nor go to school; my life was deteriorating, yet I was happy as long as I could get my fix. I would log on, find an image trader and we'd both stay online for hours exchanging collections.

One day, I woke up and couldn't look myself in the mirror, realizing what a pathetic waste of flesh I had become. "This ends now!" I told myself, and deleted all my JPEGs. Just like every day inevitably leads to night, this lack of images lead to withdrawal. I became nervous, "How can I get more JPEGs with nothing to trade in return?!", I asked myself. Sure enough, when I got online, no one wanted to share since I had nothing to give them. They couldn't help it though, they needed new images as much as I did, and I had nothing to offer. I was at the point that I couldn't take it anymore - then I realized I had a few images on backup disks hidden away. I decided to continue on my quest for images, but not allow the addiction to control me. I started researching more deeply into perceptual encoding, to try and find out why I couldn't break this habit.

Finally, I found out that the information removed by a perceptual compression algorithm is actually used by your brain to acknowledge the arrival of the information. Once it is removed, your mind no longer realizes it is being stimulated and starts to demand more information to make up for what was lost. It's like eating cotton candy, sure it looks big and fluffy, but it can't whet your appetite because it has little substance; you'd have to eat tons of it. This explains why people are so obsessed with JPEGs and MP3s on the Internet. Now that I understand my addiction, I'm doing better as a person and on my way to becoming a productive member of society.

Heed my advice and avoid perceptual compression - It'll fuck with your mind!


* Don't take this seriously, this entire node is a joke!

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