Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh yeah, sorry, we sent this horribly mangled, deformed, ugly release. Our bad

So some Bank of America outside Boston gets this fax and thinks it's a bomb threat, calls the bomb squad (who shuts down the entire strip mall), and it turns out it's an in-house release from corporate to get ready for some stupid morale contest or whatever.


(On the left is what should have been sent. On the right is what came out of the fax machine. Further proving the technology's uselessness. Death to fax machines!)

I think the more important question -- the one no one's asking -- is not "why did this Bank of America manager freak out and call the bomb squad?" Not "why did the bomb squad freak out and evacuate the entire mall?" Not "why do they want Bank of America to pay for the emergency services deployed, won't that just make people less likely to report a potential bomb because they're afraid of incurring millions of dollars?"

No, my question is simple: "Who the hell designed that "in-house" press release?" It looks like something a failing kindergartener might try and turn in for a homework assignment. I mean, come on. I know the fax machine screwed up, but really Bank of America? This is your version of a press release? My god in heaven I don't think my money's safe in your bank anymore.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The fanboy equivalent of drunk dialing

I broke down and briefly entered the realm of fanboyism today, with a call to my local CingularAT&T store. I struck the old name because it's still listed in the phone book as Cingular, and the one in York is still a Cingluar store.

I asked about the iPhone. I know, I know, why don't I just camp outside the store for two weeks like those wackos with the PlayStations and XBoxen.

But, the dude didn't laugh at me, he just said they don't have a waiting list, but he knows stores in more populated areas (like NYC and Philly) do. But he said AT&T told them they would have plenty of stock, and then disclaimed that statement by saying "because Apple is the supplier, not AT&T."

He also said they were expecting the phones between June 14 and June 16. At first I thought he said July 16. But June 14 and June 16? That's a very narrow window, and I've heard June 15 a lot from all these rumor mills. I think there just might be something to that date. The ides of June.

Go firgure.

Anyway, so I'm giddy with anticipation. Step aside, Microsoft and your 30-inch, box-like competitor for multi-touch.

Alas, poor Yurich. I knew him. Oh wait, he isn't dead

This CNN dude thinks he knows why Apple TV is a dud.

Wait, what? A dud? It's been out for three months. Dud indeed. Two of the four bulleted point he makes have nothing to do with the aluminum box -- they deal with the iTunes Store directly. A third point is semi-valid. That is, if you don't have a "family computer" that stays on all the time and stores all your photos, sharing photos from the synced computer only sort of sucks.

The fourth point isn't a point at all, as far as I can see.
Apple TV's coolest feature is one that wasn't even intended: the screensaver, which plays an ethereal slide show of your digital photos. I guess that tops Zune's sexiest feature, which I would argue is that you can buy it in brown. Love the brown.
That's a bad thing, because...?

Once Apple starts to sell HD content through iTunes (once Internet bandwidths permit it, or a new codec is designed, or they allow you to import Blu-Ray Discs into iTunes) that problem will go away. Although he may have a point, there are a lot of hurdles there to overcome. And I wouldn't be surprised if we see Apple TV firmware updates that allow the purchase of iTunes through the box. Give the company a chance, it's busy launching a mobile phone, an operating system, and integrating new Intel chips into its computers. Sheeshes.

Idiot.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ahoy, Flickr!

I love it when companies have a sense of humor.

Moosejaw has long been "guilty" of this, ending every e-mail with "Love, Moosejaw," having insanely great customer support, and being just damn funny about things like your order confirmation.

Another great example is Flickr, the exception that proves the rule of Yahoo!'s evilness. The little Web-2.0-shoebox constantly amazes me with the understated humor I find from time to time. From LOLcatz 404 errors to its user sign-in greeting:


You just have to respect a company that will put its professional image aside and relate.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

SEURA? UCNSSBUEU?

So I don't get the U.S. Census Bureau's logo. I like to think I have a decent eye for design, especially deconstructing design choices. You know, this symbolizes this, while that calls to mind whatever. That sort of thing.

But this thing puzzles me. As you can see, certain letters are light blue and certain letters are dark blue. Much like BP's thinly veiled attempt with the design on their commercials (you know the ones, with that annoying song) pointing to their Web site, which renders like this alittlebettergassolution.com. Not only are they trying to say they're a better solution, but a solution better than gasoline. When their name (no it isn't "beyond petroleum" it's British Petroleum, don't let them forget that. Bein' all KFC on us, what's with that yo?) has petroleum in it.

Anyway, the census bureau's logo:
has no logical reasoning behind its highlighting. Or none I could discern. Can you? Is there a secret message? Iono.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I pity the fool who raps about treating his mother right in a cheesy mid-'80s PSA

Oh wait, that's Mr. T. Well, self pity is all that's left, I guess

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I own a number. What did you do today?

So we all have heard about the Digg revolt, the purported owning of a 16-digit number, and all that jazz.

No? Well basically some dude found the key to decrypt HDDVDs (for backup purposes), and posted it. More people posted. More takedown notices! Accounts deleted! User revolt! Accounts reinstated! Madness! It's madness!

Well, the cool people over at Freedom-to-Tinker.com created a fun little algorithm that generates a 128-bit integer for you, and you alone. It then encodes a silly copyright haiku with it, and provides you with the key. The key is your technically copyrighted material. No one else can use it. Mine's:
7C AF 6F BF 77 AC BC 91 3A F1 3C 92 9F A6 3F BE

And you can pry it from my cold dead hands fools!

As the always awesome commenters over at Slashdot put it: I'll be Googling this number and playing the lotto with it until I win.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Why use lines when you don't have to?

I like the design of The Patriot-News. It's nice, clean, and colorful.

I don't know how, but TPN puts out a full-color A book, and it looks good.

There's not an overabundance of lines, like The Washington Post (who even put hairlines between ads. What's up with that?)

Its use of colored boxes without black borders (Ahem, Evening Sun) makes it look crisp and new, and there aren't borders around its pictures, either (something for which I love The New York Times, and hate my own paper).

Its choice of sans-serif font is solid (although I can't place the name). Sure the copy font might be a bit odd, but hey, it's cool.

I'm also a huge fan of using san-serif font in all caps to make "lines," something TPN does well.

If I designed a newspaper, it would look like The Patriot-News.

A quick look at its Web site. It kind of mirrors the design of the paper, but not so much. I mean, it's not full of lines, but at the same time it looks... different.

Why can't more companies realize (like The New York Times) your Web site should mirror the design of your paper. That way, a) you don't have to redesign it every year to keep up with trends, and b) people will better associate the page with the paper.

And, for the record, I am against newspapers teaming up with Web companies and offering their news on a different site (TPN is PennLive.com, well, really it's PennLive.com/PatriotNews. And though I can't think of them right now, I know of a couple other examples).

But they probably save money that way, and can therefore put out a full color paper.

Compromises, ain't they a biatch?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sam Raimi killed one of my favorite movie franchises

Somewhere along the line, Sam Raimi went insane.

In movies like Spider-Man 3, you really have to wonder whether there was some internal struggle. Because in the first two films, there was a well-though-out plot, few holes, a spectacular message, love, hate, inner turmoil, self sacrifice, etc.

In this movie? There's playing. It makes me feel like I'm seven and I have a Spider-Man action figure set.

And I don't even have to make up the "hang on buddy!" lines when I stick the Spider-Man action figure on the Green Goblin's SNOWBOARD?!?!. Whoever penned this piece of sludge did it for me.

I should have known the minute Stan Lee appeared, in his "obligatory" cameo. But this time he had lines. Did he learn nothing from The Hulk? Nothing from X-Men 3? DON'T SPEAK, Mr. Lee. I'm pretty sure No Doubt wrote that just for you.

"Well, I guess one man really can make a difference. That's all." That's all? WTF? You're some dude who walked up to Peter Parker reading a marquis. What's all? Who are you talking to you old codger?

But no, my tired brain just decided to let it pass. It's the final film, maybe Spider-Man held a special place in Lee's heart. Maybe he just wanted to impart that last piece of wisdom.

The whole film--Wait, I can't call it a film. It's a movie. This whole movie just felt like they packed it full of the "obligatory" scenes. You know, the obligatory Bruce Campbell scene, the obligatory Spider-Man-in-front-of-a-huge-American-flag scene (seriously, Raimi, what the FUCK was up with that?).

I wasted 2 1/2 hours of my life, and dammit, I want them back.

Don't even get me started on how the filmmakers obviously lost so much hope in their audience they had to make Harry Osbourne's face half-scarred, ala Janus, ala Harvey Dent/Twoface, ala Sean Bean in Goldeneye.

Oh wait, I just got me started.

OK a big problem I had with this piece of crap was the message behind it. Nowhere in the film did Peter Parker utter the Golden Rule of the Spider-Man universe. The one thing, if he only took one thing from his Uncle, he believed in. With great power comes great responsibility.

In Spider-Man 3, with great power comes great big booms.

That's the problem. In the first movie, love saved Spider-Man. The Green Goblin was beating the crap out of him, but he mentions Mary Jane, and somewhere inside Peter Parker something explodes. It may have been slightly cheesy, but that something is the superhero in all of us. The deep human element. The one that's behind all those movie plots: Self-sacrifice to save the person we love.

We will die trying, and because we love that person so much, we inexplicably win.

Peter Parker's humanity saved him in the first film. And he turned around and buried those feelings in one of the most moving, self-sacrificing scenes I know. And it's perfect and I loved Raimi for it. Then and there he had my trust to do right by the franchise. And now he delivers this?

In the second film, love again saves the day. Love and the humanity buried within Dr. Octopus. "I will not die a monster," he yells, as he expends his last ounce of strength to pull to the bottom of the river the monstrosity he created.

So what saved the day in No. 3? Bombs. Missiles. Explosions. The Green Goblin comes to the rescue, all Han Solo-like (really? stealing from a 30-year-old movie, Raimi?), and starts whipping out the pyrotechnics.

Even in the end, Venom's destroyed by a pumpkin bomb. Where's the message in that? "Shoot crap at your enemies, kids, they'll burst into flames, writhe around, and it'll be cool."

And why in the name of all that is good in the universe would you give Harry Osbourne a SNOWBOARD!?! What the heck is up with that? Not only a snowboard, but a glowing green ninja sword??

Anyone else see this movie's made for kids?

And the newscaster? Really? You've reduced yourself to telling the narrative through a cliche? The audience gets updates via a fake, 16:9 news channel? Plus the reporter's being all Soledad O'Brien about it. "It's a tragic, tragic situation." Really? 'Cause I thought a giant sand monster and missiles was just another birthday party.

I am so disappointed in this movie it isn't even expressible. I would have walked out had it not been for the five overly plump movie patrons between me and the aisle.

"Find us some shade, babe."

I think that's a good idea, actually. Find a very, very dark corner of the film vault, and hide this there. Maybe someday people will look back on it and laugh. But for now, I'm resisting the urge to hurl.

For those, like me, who've seen the movie, I offer this open letter. Feel free to print it out, sign it, slap a stamp on that bad boy and send it off to Raimi & Co.

To: Sam Raimi, et al.
From:
In re: Notification of intent to file suit should demands not be met

Sir or Madam:

I recently attended a midnight showing of your new movie, Spider-Man 3. I respectfully demand my $8 returned to me, and also request you give me back 2 1/2 hours of my life, as I feel I have wasted them on your jetsam of a motion picture.

Should these requests fall on deaf ears or fail to be met, I will be filing suit and asking for punitive damages for the horror I endured.

The movie was horrible, and I wish shame on you, your family and friends. I feel alienated by your departure from the story line and characters you carefully built up in Nos. 1 & 2 of the franchise.

I will hereby be boycotting all things Marvel-, Sony-, and Raimi-related until my demands are met.

Respectfully,

Oh you guys and your "newspaper"

Wait the headline in the Gettysburg Times today is "Littlestown students to hold their huge annual plant sale?"

Are you serious?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bzuh?

Hang on a minute. Isn't this the plot of Sahara??

Philosophizing

When a sports team moves cities, changes owners, switches colors and names, is it really still the same team?

I mean, the philosophical answer would be "the team is not a stadium, it's the players."

Yeah yeah, the church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place... I've heard that before.

OK what about the opposite. The team moves cities, keeps its name and colors but the roster completely changes.

Is that still the same team? Perhaps visually. But the people who follow athletes and not just teams would cry blasphemy! (Sparta! What?)

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one's around to hear it, does a mime make a sound?

Pancakes.

There's a 0.14725836998765432174185296373-percent chance I own that number

Can AACS LA claim to own a 30-digit number?

My recollection of copyright law (from Bitzer's Comm. Law class, mind you) says no. I'm using the same deductive reasoning that you can't copyright the phone book because it's just an alphabetized list.

You can copyright a phone book if you order it in some creative, unique way.

Then isn't a randomized number at least similar to an alphabetized list? It's random, so it's unique, I suppose. But if you used randomization software, well, I guess computers come up with random numbers in different ways, but as this dude points out, AACS LA chose the number so it would be special in no way.

From the blog:
While it’s obvious why the creator of a movie or a song might deserve some special claim over the use of their creation, it’s hard to see why anyone should be able to pick a number at random and unilaterally declare ownership of it. There is nothing creative about this number — indeed, it was chosen by a method designed to ensure that the resulting number was in no way special. It’s just a number they picked out of a hat. And now they own it?

As if that’s not weird enough, there are actually millions of other numbers (other keys used in AACS) that AACS LA claims to own, and we don’t know what they are. When I wrote the thirty-digit number that appears above, I carefully avoided writing the real 09F9 number, so as to avoid the possibility of mind-bending lawsuits over integer ownership. But there is still a nonzero probability that AACS LA thinks it owns the number I wrote.
So post on, Digg users, and fear nota little less the threat of a lawsuit.

Don't throw things at me

Now here is a perfectly good example of why there should be no blanket law against abortion, but it should (at worst) be taken on a case-by-case basis and (at best) not regulated at all, and left up to the mother.

For before you barrage me with comments about my hedonism and how I'm going to hell, let me point out to you I'm not saying abortion is right or wrong.

What I AM saying is it's not my decision.

In this case, it's the mother's decision -- the mother who's been told her baby will live only a few days after she gives birth.

Is she wrong to want to terminate her four-month-old pregnancy and spare the fetus? Is she selfish, and only sparing herself the pain of having to watch her child die?

Isn't it a more human thing to give the child a chance? Perhaps it will live and one day its story will be made into a Hollywood blockbuster on the emotional level of Gattaca.

The answer to all those questions is "it's not my decision."

It's her's, and she's taking it to Ireland's High Court.
Miss D was informed last month that her foetus has anencephaly, a condition which means that a large part of the brain and skull is missing.

Babies with anencephaly live a maximum of just three days after birth.
On a less explosive note: I still think the BBC's little "map o' where news is happening" looks too much like a swastika. And look, Ireland's region only extends halfway across Russia.

Sorry, Siberia, you aren't important enough.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Get a Mac, and not because of Justin Long

Have you ever noticed how intuitive Safari's controls are?

Probably not, because none of you use it.

But they are.

For instance, I have several bookmark folders I open at once (Web comics, News, etc.). If I accidentally click on one of them, transforming my two tabs of IMDB pages into a sloth of 20 comics, I can hit the back button, and instead of simply reversing the tab I'm focused on, it resets the entire window's environment to where you were before. Brilliant! I tried this out by accident one day, and was amazed at the results.

This is just another brick in the Great Wall of Reasons I Prefer Apple to Microsoft.

Also, drag text onto the Safari icon in the dock, and Safari opens a Google search for that text in a background tab.

Now to wait for Leopard, and the browser to shed its ugly brushed metal skin.