Google voice is go

July 27th, 2010

This is a test of me posting to my blog using only my voice in wordpress for my google android phone. Hey not bad. Punctuation could use some work though. Ah well.

An open dialogue with a dork

July 13th, 2010

One of the “perks” (short for “perrrrks”) of having my own blog is that I can respond to chwads like this guy without having to sign into their site and give them ad revenue, as described in my previous blogging adventure.

So. Already casting aspersions on Google’s incredibly generous ability for people to self-program their smartphones, huh, Mister Big Shot Getting Paid to Spout Stupid Blog Posts Like a Big Smelly Blogwhale? Look. We have incredibly powerful computing devices in our pockets these days, and yet the entry fee to be able to program them for our own use is still pretty darn high (like installing Eclipse, getting the SDK, and having to actually learn and use Java [shudder], among other considerations). Now Google is giving away, for free, a simple system which will bring this ability closer to the realm of less techie users. It’s friendly. It’s easy. It’s almost … Apple, except for the whole thing with “openness” and “giving useful things away” and “selling phones you can touch.” (Ha ha. Zing!)

Anyway, sorry if you can’t see the amazing things this can open up for the future of smartphones. Also, sorry you had trouble learning LOGO. That darn turtle sure can get away from you, can’t it. LEFT 45? More like LEFT BEHIND! (More seriously: LOGO isn’t meant to “turn kids into programmers;” you were asked to play with it to give you a taste of programming so you could see if you liked it. You know, like when you take classes in English and math and science, so you can make an informed decision about whether becoming a journalist is a better fit for you than becoming a janitor, or a sewer worker, or a horse semen taster. [INSERT OBVIOUS JOKE HERE])


July 6th, 2010

I’m a web developer/designer by trade, which in practice means I create sites from concept to planning to development to deployment. That makes me kinda weird all in all, because it means I have to be both a big froo-froo right-brained graphic designer and a heartless technology wonk.

Thus am I a pariah. For instance, I use Windows (XP at work and 7 at home) because it’s loaded with free programming stuff and conversion software undreamt of in the halls of Apple. This simple fact alone makes me some sort of genetic enemy of all the real graphic designers out there. Oh the thin smiles and sad little shakes of the head I get when I talk to designers. They don’t say anything, but you get the undercurrent: You poor, poor man.

I do remember when Adobe was snugly in Apple’s armpit and the designers were justifiably smug about having the best software, and then Adobe deigned to come out with a PC version of their software which was actually more “bugs” than “program.” Apple had the upper hand then for sure. Hey guess when that was. 1996! It’s been 14 years! Adobe actually works great on PC now! Photoshop never crashes! There’s literally no difference between our workflow experiences except that when I maximize a window it actually maximizes, which I prefer anyway because I don’t want to stare at my “hang in there” kitty wallpaper all day.

Meanwhile: since I work in the IT department, I’m the butt of endless jokes about having all this “extraneous” design software on my computer. “Upgrade from CS3?” they scoff. “What sort of self-respecting programmer wants to waste his time making purty pitchers?” Then they hitch up their pocket protectors and swagger out of the room, guffawing, to help someone who somehow managed to run an entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich through their printer.

Aah, I don’t mind. I chose this niche, odd as it is, because I would become extremely bored doing one or the other. A steady diet of programming would grind my brain to a nub, and a constant stream of graphic design or interface design work would suck away my love for life. So I’m a one-man traveling show, able to take a blank computer and return to you a web server full of keeno sites. Hey presto!

I’m about to be controversial! Watch out! HERE COMES THE CONTROVERSY!

June 21st, 2010

Half the “Sci/Tech” news I see on Google News these days is either “The 8 greatest video games of all time” or “12 reasons why Apple has its head up its butt.” Inevitably, all of these stories have a huge list of comments in the vein of “YU DONT KNO WHAT U TALKIN ABOUT NO WAY IS HALO 3 BETTER THAN RIDGE RACER I’LL SLICE OUT YOUR INFANT DAUGHTER’S EYEBALLS WITH MY TRUSTY KATANA IM A NINJA WOLF WARRIOR 4 REALZ SO U BETTER WATCH UR BACK U MOTHERFU” etc.

Yet the editors of those sites love your anger, they fan it, they feed off it, it nourishes them. Or more precisely, it nourishes their ad revenue. People get drawn in by the provocative headlines, which raises their page count and makes them more attractive to advertisers, then they register with the site to post their flameouts, which increases their mailing list and makes them even more attractive to advertisers. And as advertisers flock in, your rage essentially becomes Lambourghinis which are fueled by your impotent tears.

Now I don’t advertise, so I don’t profit from creating excessive controversy. When I do start advertising, though, hold on to your butts. Here’s a smattering of the controversial topics which will carry my blog over the levees of success in a storm surge of anger:

The 10 Lamest Religious Figures: Starting with St. Loy and working all the way up to Eos, Goddess of the Dawn. How humiliating is it to be the goddess of about half an hour a day? C’mon, lady. Dare to dream.

12 Little-Known Differences Between the Sheep and the Goats: You see, the sheep have the tails that go up; the goats have the tails that go down. The sheep are the Republicans; the goats are the Democrats. (I have now officially written a joke for literally two people.)

The 5 Best Teeth: I’m sure you’re all wondering how I rank teeth. Did I put the bicuspid before or after the molar? Is the incisor even on the list, or did it get snubbed again? Tune in to find out!

10 People Who Probably Have Awful Breath: Man, you’ve got to know that Donald Trump slams back about six pots of coffee a day. And I dunno, but Bonnie Hunt sure seems like the kind of woman who likes extra garlic on her pizza.

The 15 Hottest Women Ever: Including Rosie O’Donnell, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Leslie Stahl, and of course Ann Coulter for the “vomiting liberals” demographic.

75 Reasons Why Windows XP is the Best Operating System of All Time: Just the title of this article will generate enough enraged comments to send my family to the Bahamas for a year.


June 20th, 2010

You know, it’s often in your own best interest to check your old email accounts occasionally, because you might miss a notice from your registrar that your URL is about to expire.

Just a tip.

Move and Kinect: the gateways to Failtown

June 17th, 2010

I’ve been keeping up with the E3 Expo going on in LA. The general consensus is that Nintendo has “won” this year, even with some technical glitches in the presentation, mostly by not making huge fools of themselves like everyone else. Penny Arcade has it exactly right in this strip.

But what’s so wrong with the other guys this year? They’ve all decided to come running after Nintendo with the worst possible strategy in the entire friggin’ universe: expensive add-ons. “Get the Nintendo Wii experience on our consoles by spending nearly as much as it would cost to just go ahead and buy a Wii,” they seem to be saying. Apparently the Playstation Move and Microsoft Kinect will both be $100+ solutions (or more if you have friends, which isn’t a given for gamers). Apparently nobody remembers the lessons of the Super Scope or the EyeToy: If a peripheral doesn’t automatically come with the console, then only about six games will ever be made that exploit the peripheral.

Consider this scenario. You’re a game producer. A console has 45 million units in the field. Of those, 2 million have the excess cash to shell out for an expensive peripheral. Now this is a tough question, so think hard: Which of those numbers represents the largest market? Take your time. I can wait.

Actually it’s not quite that cut and dried. Those 2 million people are probably desperate for any old crapola, so you could make an extremely sketchy low-budget game in about a week and maximize your profits. But then, hey, guess what? Nobody buys the peripheral because all the games for it are sketchy low-budget affairs. Unless, that is, the manufacturer opens the cashgates to entice developers. Good for developers, good for owners of the peripheral … bad for the manufacturer. So the manufacturer, being a business and all, has to raise the price on the console, the peripheral, AND the game to recoup. Oh. Hmm. That kinda backfired on the consumer, didn’t it. DARN YOU, FREE MARKET! :argh:

Nintendo knew what they were doing with the Wii, with its  new controller and new ways of playing. There’s no Wavebird packed in with the unit. There are no “extra” motion controls. It’s WHAT IT IS. Developers know everything’s right there for everyone who bought one. Same with the DS, with its two screens, touchscreen, and microphone, which also happens to be the best-selling game machine of all time. Nintendo’s come out with some add-ons too, of course, but they can afford to bundle MotionPlus units with the games for an extra tenspot. If Microsoft is really “all in” with Kinect, and Sony with Move, they can’t match that. And if they’re not all in, those peripherals will be an interesting footnote to history at most.

I, too, was wrong about the iPad

June 16th, 2010

Much like Joe Wilcox, I have to admit I was wrong about the Apple iPad. Mea culpa, sackcloth and ashes, etc. Earlier I said it was pretty much a useless piece of metal and plastic. But now I’ve come around: I’m convinced it’s a completely useless piece of metal and plastic.

Every argument I’ve seen for the iPad, every single one, is the same argument people made in the past about tablet PCs, netbooks, and e-readers (like for instance the B&N Nook, the choice for the more discerning and sexy consumers). It’s also not far off from people trying to convince themselves that their iPhone is great when deep down the really want something else but they’re stuck in their contracts for another year and a half.

It’s only the shortness of memory, the pervasiveness of advertising, and the quick churn of consumer society that makes the iPad a viable product at all. You can’t write on it except in finger-painting style, and you have to learn how to type on it all over again. It has puny memory unless you shell out close to a grand. It’s not expandable. It’s not much more powerful under the hood than an iPhone. You’re stuck with the Apple Store for everything, which (and I say this advisedly, as an interface designer) sucks balls; if it’s the only app store you’ve ever used you probably love it, but that’s just the Stockholm syndrome talking. You’re like Americans who are still convinced we single-handedly won World War II. The truth is much larger than you know. Let it go, man.

I own an e-reader, which is the best electronic reading experience I’ve ever found because it’s not backlit and my eyes can focus on it for hours without strain. I go cross-eyed playing the Nintendo DS for an hour, but I can peruse my Nook all day, which sounds dirty but really isn’t. Yes, it’s only black and white, but you see I’m not a fourth grader, I can actually read books without pictures. Someday you’ll be old enough to understand. And anything that relies on flashy imagery and funky typography to make up for their shoddy writing can jump off a tall cliff onto a short spike. Hey publishers: WRITING IS A SKILL, NOT A COMMODITY TO BE GROUND UP AND SPOONED TO PEOPLE LIKE BABY FOOD. Grrrr. Pant, pant. Breathe, old boy, breathe.

I’ll concede web surfing’s pretty nice on an iPad. But you know where web surfing is even better? On a computer, where I can install whatever browser I like and view things in nice big full screen goodness. Computers, even the tiniest netbooks, can also run Flash OHHHH I WENT THERE. I use Chrome, where Flash is actually built straight in; no plug-in woes there. For quickie one-off portable surfing, I have a Droid smartphone. And hey, guess what the Droid can do with update 2.2? Here’s a hint: Flash OH SNAP THERE I GO AGAIN. YOU TELL HIM MAURY. YOU TELL HIM HE BAD.

So anyway. Rationalize your purchase however you like, but unless you’re just a complete babe in the woods about technology, the iPad is kind of a wash. It’s a side track on the technology highway, like a scenic overlook or something, I dunno, this metaphor sucks. But you get the point. There’s better stuff out there, better and cheaper and more versatile and less restrictive and other such metrics.

You know, I should hook up to an ad service with this blog even though my readership is between crap and nobody, something that checks the text and puts up relevant ads. I’d probably get a lot of ads from Apple. That would make me giggle.

Why I gotta be such a potty-mouth?

June 14th, 2010

A few updates ago I used a pretty “foul” word several times. I did this advisedly, unlike most other Interweb denizens for whom such speech is punctuation, because (a) everybody that I care might ever read this blog is already familiar with most swears, and (b) it was funny.

Look, Society in General Reduced to an Anthropomorphic Strawman for the Purpose of This Argument, I’m not comfortable with the idea that some words are forbidden because they’re offensive to people of delicate character. It smacks of some sort of 18th Century class division, where the aristocrats separate themselves from the commoners by initiating arbitrary rules and then gasp and flutter their fans when someone unwittingly breaks them. It’s clubhouse mentality, secret handshake mentality, “look at his pants how could anyone wear Chinos in November” mentality.

This is almost certainly why the “commoners” in the Swear Wars, the swearers themselves, tend to take up the flag and run far and long in the other direction. They reject polite society because polite society tends to act like a bunch of prigs. Fine if you’re a prig, I guess, but seriously you’re not going to be invited to a lot of parties with that attitude.

I know from experience. I was one of those prigs in my youth. “Wouldn’t say ‘Sh-’ with his mouth full,” as a friend of mine used to say. But eventually the bloom was off the rose and I realized that my pipe-dream of an egalitarian world didn’t allow people separating themselves by any metric, even the daintiness of their language. So I eschewed it. I still don’t make sailors blush, but they act slightly abashed, even coy, in my presence, so good enough.

So in conclusion, poo poo pee pee. Guess I can’t come into your treehouse now. Somehow I’ll survive.

Creating is imperative

June 11th, 2010

I’ve come to realize that my whole thing, my reason for getting out of bed in the morning, my soul, my whatsis, my very dealiewhopper, is to make things. Doesn’t matter what: writing, music, sculpture, philosophies, drawings, web pages, programs, bad jokes, sandwiches, wooty noises on my theremin. If it has no practical value, I’m there, baby.

Meanwhile, I’m loath to get rid of anything with sentimental value. Just ask my wife, as long as you have several weeks to hear a litany of her discontent. I’m not, you know, to “intervention” status or anything. There’s still a path nearly 18 inches wide between the stacks of newspaper lining our living room. I even caught a glimpse of the kitchen table under the mountain of unwashed Burger King cups. We’re good for now.

My house is already chock full of memories, yet I keep making new ones. In this way I’m connected all the way back to my origin by an unbroken strand. If I were any more anchored I’d have Panamanian registry. If I were any more grounded I’d be Braniff International. If I were any more rooted I’d need to be watered twice a day. (Alternate joke: If I were any more rooted you could run any app on me at all.)

But then the argument pops up: Do people need to be rootless to grow? Do you have to drift to create? How can you know the world if you haven’t been out in it?

These questions are indeed relevant … for a certain value of “the world.” But beyond this world of hate and love and crime and justice and matter and energy is another one, a much larger one, still unformed. Many people seem to think this area is bleak and frightening, but I visit it often and do so without fear because I’m always anchored. Not stolid, not steady, not stagnant: anchored. Though the winds of this outer universe may blow me where it will, I can always return home by following the slender golden chain which I have forged in life.

Every creative person in history has led a full life outside of their books and paintings and symphonies. They define their works, the works do not define them. They are human; they scrape their shins and feed the dog and need to pee. But all of them track the formless void of creativity. Some of them wind up in sanitariums or rehab or the gutter. Their anchors fail them.

My true roots are in my family and my pride of self. Without them, I could not travel so far or so boldly through the recesses of creation. The things I retain are reminders of these. If I didn’t travel so far and wide, I would have less desire for these beacons to guide me. They make it easier to come back, shake off the chill, sit by the fire, and set about to record where I’ve been.

Another word is written. Another note is played. Another image is drawn.

Another link is forged.


May 16th, 2010

Hello from my new Droid phone. George Lucas eat your heart out. It’s funny though that the on-screen keyboard is somewhat easier to use than the physical one.

Oh well. Fun awaits with my new toy!

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