Category Archives: rants & reviews

LinkedIn or LockedOut?

What a social network should never, ever do is lock out users, regardless of their device.

After being automatically corralled to their “touch” version, LinkedIn refused to accept my login credentials, and even pimped its own iOS app. Perhaps a non-working website is their way of forcing users to download that app and bolster their stats.

Needless to say, after downloading their precious 2-star (user rated) app, it crashes straightaway, and upon relaunch, refuses my login just the same.

LockedOut is more apt, and reaffirms why I don’t use their service more.

Update: Turns out it was a security measure; my old password apparently wasn’t good enough, and the full website wanted me to create one newer and more secure. Only problem is that the mobile website and app did not display that message or a way to do so (only the vague “failure to sign in” error message), making the first part of this post still valid; I was a mobile user locked out until I could access the full site via PC.

iPhonies

thought of the day: if a woman ever wants to know what it’s like to be a man, get an iPhone. it’s a swell gadget that is so delightful to handle you’ll want to touch and play with it all the time, take it everywhere you go, and think it impresses everyone you show it to.

I’ve come to understand that the iPhone is something that I will never, ever own. Not by any fault of the device itself because I think it’s a beautiful and amazing bit of technology (plus I’m a diehard lifelong Apple fanboy to boot), but because of its ubiquity here in San Francisco and the methods by which people use it.

Occasionally I’ll hop onto the municipal bus, and it never fails… at least one passenger has one. How do I know? Because anyone who has an iPhone carries it IN their hand and fucks around with the screen incessantly. It doesn’t really matter how thin or lightweight it is for portability, because nobody carries it in their pocket; just the hand. I honestly believe people hold it and dick around just to show other people they have one, yet strangely they are oblivious to everyone and everything around them. That just makes them massive tools more than anything hip or enviable.

A couple years ago I remember reading an article exploring the negative impact iPods were having on society because they isolated and internalised the listening of music when it has always been a social activity. Another reason I plan to steer clear of the iPhone is that it very, very clearly escalates this strange, anti-social behaviour to an entirely new level.

Not only are the finger-flicking, touch screen zombies filling our public transit system, but also malls, restaurants, bars… even birthday parties. Yes, I have witnessed a birthday party devolve not into boys on one half of the room and girls the other, but the iPhone users secede into their own (literally) dark corner to iChat with other iPhonies; maybe each other for all I know. Or touring a chocolate factory, the iPhone users hung around at the back of the group with their faces and fingers planted strictly to their screens doing whatever was more interesting somewhere else.

I could list countless more examples… bottom line is that even for a techy geek like me, I know where to draw the line between life and not living it; that line seems to be the dotted signature portion of an AT&T contract. No thanks. I’ll go about impressing people the old fashioned way… with expensive clothing.

A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars

listening to:
A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars
I Monster

Evidence that nothing is original

Since I don’t currently have television services at my apartment, any programs I want to watch must be seen from their network’s website. I actually prefer this method; can see it at my leisure, minimum ads, completely free…some of them are even available in HD (thanks ABC!!) What’s not to like?

As my luck would have it, ABC’s interstitial ads over the past two weeks during episodes of LOST have been about Honda’s new campaign for the Civic, called “Grooves” or “Musical Road”. It follows a team of creatives going about transforming a stretch of highway into something of an old time self-playing piano using the safety rumble strips in such a way that the spacing of grooves creates notes as drivers pass over.

A great idea to be sure, but it’s nothing new; not even close. The first I saw of the concept came a couple years ago via a car magazine or tv show, and featured some small countryside roads in Japan using the concept to draw tourists in for revenue. The first known use of such a musical road was in Denmark circa 1995, but used a slightly different approach and technology for the sound.

The thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the tone of the ad/video from Honda… it had some windbag (probably the Creative Director) explaining his genius concept to the rest of the team, as they all looked on in awe and disbelief of his sheer brilliance, and he basked in their glow the whole while, taking credit for an idea he clearly nicked elsewhere. Check it out:

Video not available

Now that I’ve probably offended all of the potential creative offices/agencies I could work for out here in San Francisco, check out the “Melody Road” of Japan. Both the Honda and Melody Road of Japan concepts promote something commercial, but one seems like a fun idea to be proud of, the other is a disingenuous plot to try and be cool. First rule of being cool… don’t try to be.

Music for multiple senses

thought of the day: my body is the most expensive vehicle i will ever ride in.

Above you’ll see a little CD album cover I put together this afternoon (click to enlarge). It’s for the band Baoquan, titled The Loss of Sleep. That’s all fine and dandy, except it’s not real; the band is fake, and the album is doubly non-existent. It’s just a fun little exercise paired with a sub-cultural internet meme. I thought it quite a larf until all the pieces came together in either the wildest of profound coincidences or the most meaningless nonsense I’ve posted since some of my high school poetry appeared on this very site.

As for real bands, many followers of popular music—or at least those who begrudgingly endure my interests as I foist them about—will know that U2‘s new album, No Line on the Horizon, was released last week. Being my all-time favourite music-makers, it’s a momentous occasion for me; one that I embrace with nearly every waking thought in anticipation during the 2-3 months leading up to the street date.

Normally I am too pure of heart to even attempt listening to music from my choice bands before the release dates because the quality of such contraband is often an insult to both the bands’ efforts and my delicate/pretentious audiophile sensibilities, and also because as an artist, I respect the moment of unveiling; people cannot see my work until I’m damn good and ready to show it, so I grant the same courtesy to the two or three musical acts my conscience cannot transgress. However this time around I had access to a pristine, high-quality edition, and just couldn’t resist.

Maybe I jinxed it.

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R.I.P. I.E.


It’s already dead to me.

it seems microsoft is hell bent on running it’s long-popular, long-dominating web browser, internet explorer, right into the ditch of the information superhighway.

the past few years has seen its market share eroding rather quickly by faster, more secure, more intuitive modern applications like mozilla firefox and google chrome. on the mac side, they even discontinued the application in favour of apple’s own safari. these other browsers, aside from enhanced user and usability features of the browsers themselves, the rendering engines have been far superior to explorer for quite some time, and its conformance to both ratified and emerging web standards has fallen so short that it’s laughably ridiculous and as a designer/developer, ridiculously infuriating.

enter internet explorer 8 beta. one would think considering all of its internal struggles and external pressures from competition that it would at least aim for parity on the basics of web standards and technology. yet it touts as a main feature being fully compliant with css 2.1. css version 2 has been around for over 10 years, and its revision, v2.1, has been waffling back and forth between draft and release candidate for about 5. because it’s still not finalised, firefox, safari, chrome, opera have all moved on to supporting the next full version of css, with varying levels of compatibility. internet explorer adds some basic, minimal support for version 3, but nothing even remotely close to its competitors.

one of the biggest challenges for web designers today is (on top of side-stepping ie6 and ie7 quirks) realising rounded-corners. css3 supports the concept, with its border-radius selector, and many of the other popular modern browsers support it in some fashion (although mysteriously, opera once did but removed the functionality in the most recent releases). given the opportunity with a new version, one would expect microsoft would do its very best to make great strides to catch up to these competing browsers, if not surpass them in some ways by being somewhat forward looking with it’s underhood tech. alas, the border-radius selector of css3 is not supported whatsoever, as are a lot of other now common css3 features. just one more nail in the coffin as far as i’m concerned.

reference their ie8 css chart :(

perhaps it’s laziness or pride, but all the hubris and self-indulgence has kept internet explorer from innovating, evolving, or it seems even adapting. the latest beta builds seem to break more things than fix them, which is and will be a major problem for both users and developers for at least a year into 8’s life. designers and developers may continue to provide basic support for legacy ie or even the newest iteration, but i have a feeling this browser won’t ever see a mainstream (read: popular) version 10.

No Line On The Horizon

listening to:
No Line On The Horizon (pre release)
U2

beyond all rationale

thought of the day: much like new jeans sold as ‘pre-worn’ or ‘weathered’, i hope someday Subaru releases a full-priced model named the Fubar that is sold with visible dents and paint blemishes for that extra-rugged look. “Subaru Fubar—fuck you granola-munching, off-roading hippies/yuppies.

A couple recent gaming articles I’ve written:

Prince of Persia: The Fallen King (DS) review
MadWorld hands-on impressions!

The Sun And The Moon Complete [2 CD]

listening to:
The Sun And The Moon Complete [2 CD]
The Bravery

tipped off

no wonder they call them 'tax'is
no wonder they call them 'tax'is

i think my recent trip to japan spoilt me in many ways. or maybe it opened my eyes to some things here in america we all take for granted that are just messed up. like the concept of gratuity for every mother-loving service under the sun. you bagged my groceries while i was preoccupied with purchasing them. plus 15 percent. you opened a door allowing my arms to fall into atrophy. plus 10 percent. unless your job doesn’t already pay you a wage, how about doing your fucking job and not carrying some chip of entitlement on your shoulder that people owe you something extra when you’re just scraping by doing the bare minimum? and if your job doesn’t pay you a wage, you are a fucking idiot; wages are why you get a job in the first place.

today i travelled from san francisco to minneapolis, taking two shared van services to get both to one airport and home from the other. it’s like a miniature city bus, with slightly more convienience that you pay a significant premium to use, versus municipal transportation. having no luggage other than my laptop backpack, i neither asked nor received any assistance from the van driver aside from his apt handling of the rotation of the steering wheel, and the depressing of floor pedals in the proper sequence.

now i’m not sure about anyone else, but i and nobody i’ve ever seen has ever tipped a bus driver. yet when this guy chased me down inside the airport after leaving the van and pestered me to give him a tip–he actually made me sign a receipt to verify he was getting zero for a tip; it’s hard to tell who was more insulted. him for not getting a tip and having not done anything to earn one, or me who is assaulted by a greedy slob who had no qualms about cursing at me in his native slavic tongue.

what ever happened to people having pride in a job well done? or even just doing your job satisfactorily if for nothing else than to avoid consequence? america’s service industries are infected with too many people who expect me to pay extra for them to just do their damn job. “gratuity” is to be paid for exceptional service… for a favour, or for going above and beyond to please me as a customer. if your idea of A+ service includes sharing aloud fictional adult scenarios involving my mother and livestock in a ukranian dialect, my idea of gratuity is not exhausting my egg mcmuffin’s calories in physical appreciation… to your face.

japan is one country that does it right. people very happy to do their jobs and do them so well you couldn’t complain if you tried. and their only expectation? that you are satisfied. in fact, trying to offer a tip there can result in two outcomes: a) they are insulted by your condescending charity, or b) assume you overpaid and graciously correct your oversight as a hapless customer by handing the extra back.

i guess my point is that the guilt–and the guilt trips–surrounding the american system of gratuities needs to stop, and i am fully preparing myself to take a stand by “being an asshole” and not just tipping because i’m supposed to for some mysterious dogmatic reason. and if you’re a service provider who supplements an hourly wage with tips, that’s fine, but unless you’re willing to go beyond “meets expectations” when we meet, you should expect nothing extra from me either.

Brian Vander Ark

listening to:
Brian Vander Ark
Brian Vander Ark