I love a lot of things about “Web 2.0.” Websites just look better, for one thing, and I firmly believe that “form” is a key part of “function.” The increased interactivity both between user and site and between user and other users has made the whole thing a lot more engaging.
But some people seriously need to shut the hell up.
I love the fact that many sites allow readers to comment on their articles. And I often wish more people would post comments on my own site. (I have to assume/hope more people are reading it than just those who very… very… rarely post comments.) But sometimes, especially when the topic inspires a passionate response (often involving Apple, love ’em or hate ’em), the worst thing I can possibly do is allow myself to get sucked down into the vortex of asshat ramblings in the comments section. And I have a perfect case in point here today from Technology Review.
I happen to be an Apple fanatic, I can admit that. But even if I didn’t love Apple, the iPhone would have won me over. In fact, going into the Macworld Expo keynote where Jobs first announced the iPhone, I met the rumors of an Apple phone with cringes and revulsion. Why would Apple make a phone? I wondered. What a stupid idea, I was convinced. But by the end of the keynote, I wanted one.
I still don’t have one, although I am presently contemplating it. Once I had actually used one, I was even more convinced that it was the greatest invention of the computer age. Opening it up to business apps and third-party developers is going to release the deluge. So I found the TR article interesting, but I seriously wanted to crush my skull in a vise after reading the first comment. And it just got worse from there, even with the commenters I agreed with. And yet, like with Katherine Kersten, I just can’t… stop… reading… them!HHFFRRRGGH!!! (Suddenly, I think I understand what that means.)
If you ever visit a large and/or busy post office, you may have seen one of the US Postal Service’s latest advances in self-service technology, the Automated Postal Center.
The post office near my downtown office building has one of these, and I love it. I use it every chance I get. Not to slight the job performance of postal workers (never cross a postal worker), but I find these machines to be faster and more efficient than going to the window, plus there’s almost never any line. Granted, maybe someday when everyone learns to love technology as much as I do (fax machines and photocopiers excluded), things will change, but for now I can usually just walk right up, take care of my business, and move on.
But there’s something about these machines I don’t like: the illogically friendly, human tone of the on-screen text, especially at the conclusion of the transaction:
Thanks. It’s been a pleasure serving you.
Really? Has it? Can a machine derive pleasure from anything? And if so, from serving me? Well, I suppose we do want our sentient utilitarian devices to be as servile as possible. But we’re not there yet. Some human wrote the computer program that operates this equipment, and they put that string of text into it. Who are they fooling? And why are those people being allowed out in public?
Wouldn’t “Thank you for your business” have sufficed? I’d feel a lot more comfortable with that.
Yesterday, contrary to all expectations, I fell in love with the new iPod nano.
I had never even considered a nano before, because I just felt I needed more capacity. But the other day I was looking at my 30 GB iPod and I discovered that I had over 3600 songs on it that I had never played and that was when I realized I didn’t really need to carry my entire music collection (or, to be honest, 1/3 of my entire collection, because that’s all 30 GB could hold) around with me. That opened the window of opportunity for the nano to win me over, but I still wasn’t really considering it. I was too in love with the idea of the giant screen and Internet access available on the iPhone or the iPod touch.
But yesterday, all of the pieces seemed to fit into place. My wife and I had planned a little weekend trip to Stillwater, MN and we were going to stay at the “historic” Lowell Inn. That logo should have told me everything I needed to know (mainly, that the place has been on a steady decline since the 1970s), but I overlooked it. We arrived in Stillwater and had a fine afternoon checking out the antique shops and vintage bookstores, and having lunch at the Freight House. But then at 3 we headed over to the Lowell to check in. I immediately sensed that the place wasn’t quite as luxurious as it appeared in the tiny photos on their website. Oh, sure, with your glasses off or squinting, everything looked really nice, but there were little details that said otherwise: paint chipping in places, the Post-It note by the front door indicating the location of the door bell, the bent vent grates, the loose stairway railings. But it was when we got to our room that our hearts really sank. We were expecting a suite, or at least a reasonably large room, or, well, let’s be honest, a bathroom that actually had walls and a door and not just a big curtain draped across it, that was too narrow to afford the user of the bathroom total privacy. (It was impossible for the curtain to be closed in such a way that a person sitting on the couch couldn’t see a person sitting on the toilet, either directly or in the mirror.) I also noticed more loose grates, and the headboard of the bed was barely attached, and other weirdness about the room, and was left in a bit of a funk. I probably wouldn’t have cared if the room hadn’t cost $168, but I just kept thinking of all of the other things I could’ve spent that money on.
So, after mulling it over for about 20 minutes, I mustered up the courage to do something I rarely ever do: we decided to go down and ask for our money back, and leave. The proprietor was a bit flustered at this, but he offered to cancel out the room and, if he was able to sell it to someone else, to refund our money. About a half hour later as we were leaving the Stillwater area to head back to Minneapolis, he called and let us know he had been successful. In the end I have to say I was extremely appreciative of the service we got, and I suppose the room’s antique charms might win over some guests, but in the end there is no way I will ever consider staying at the Lowell Inn again.
As we headed back we made our revised plans for the night. We were now flush with cash that we had intended to spend on the hotel and a nice (and commensurately expensive) meal at the Bayport Cookery. So we decided to go to Southdale instead so we could do some shopping and then head over to the Galleria for dinner at Big Bowl.
And so it was that I came to know and love the iPod nano. While SLP was visiting various clothing stores, I headed down to the Apple Store to play with the iPod touch. I had already seen a friend’s iPhone, but since I have less than zero interest in switching to AT&T, I know that particular gadget will remain elusively out-of-reach for me. So, the iPod touch. I was really enjoying looking at it, but then I happened to go over and check out the new nano. It was just a curiosity, nothing else, but I fell in love instantly. The screen, though small, is unbelievably sharp; I love the new user interface; and it is so small! It’s the first iPod I’ve seen (aside from the useless iPod shuffle) that I could actually imagine carrying around in my pocket most or all of the time.
I didn’t buy it immediately, although I wanted to. But the rock solid logic of this basically being the amount of money we saved by not being stuck in the Lowell Inn for a night convinced SLP as well, and on our way back home from Southdale we stopped at the new Super Target that just opened in Richfield, and that’s where I got it.
Now, on to the actual topic of this post. This morning I was checking out Apple’s website for carrying case options for the new iPod nano. I was a little disappointed that the new models don’t come with the little faux-leather slip sleeve that my previous, 5th generation iPod came with. And as I perused the options I discovered the iPod nano swimbelt. Yes, it’s real. Apple doesn’t joke when there’s money to be had. But do people actually swim with their iPods? Apparently at least one person does, because there is one (and only one) superlative review of this product there on the site.
The first release candidate for the track formerly known as “Bluesy Groovesy” is ready.
As for the title… I have a list I’ve been compiling over the past couple of years (ever since I finished my last solo CD, which was in June 2005) of potential song titles. That’s been the source of most of the titles I’ve used so far in this project. (I’m saving the best few for last… but it’s mostly just about finding a title that seems like a good match for the music.)
Well… I had this one title in the list. “Love Spatula.” I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean, and I can’t remember why or how I came up with it. It seems like it’s probably one of those situations where I misheard someone speaking to me, thought they said “love spatula,” and found the phrase so strangely intriguing that I had to write it down.
At any rate, it seemed fitting for this song, for whatever reason. Enjoy.
Note: To conserve server space, I’m clearing out older versions of the Hors d’Oeuvreture songs. Visit the album page to hear the latest available version of each track!
Although the tan-on-brown color scheme was… er… unique, and crisp to read on an LCD screen (which is all I own), I got tired of how smudgy and illegible it appeared on the ultra-X-treem high resolution CRT I use at work. (Uh… I mean… not that I… uh…)
So it was that I changed the color scheme of the site. But most browsers (at least Firefox, which is what I use) keep the CSS and image files cached more persistently than page content, so on first glance the pages here come off with the same circa 1978 color palette as before, just with a white page background instead of black.
If that’s what you’re seeing, for the love of Jehosephat* refresh the page now!
OK. Now I know what you’re seeing (at least if you’re using Firefox). This time around everything’s blue… except a little less than halfway across, the header graphic changes from blue to the old orange scheme. Ack! Refresh again!
Ah… that’s the stuff.
If it still looks like crap, maybe it’s your browser. You might need to actually clear the cache or something. Just don’t blame me. I already told you to use Firefox.
* Side note re: Jehosephat. What little I know about biblical King Jehosephat comes from hearing the phrase “jumpin’ Jehosephat” in passing, and the few minutes of Googling I did right after I posted this. (After all, I figured if I was enticing my reader [sic] with the love of Jehosephat as a reward for doing as I command, then perhaps I should know whether or not said love is desirable.)
From what I gather, King J. was a respectable fellow. For more on the matter, I direct you to the very Google search I myself undertook. But beware… as is often the case in life, that road is fraught with peril… and completely impertinent links. Seems the king himself is not exactly a hot topic around the virtual water cooler. Oh well… off you go!