Thursday, February 26, 2009

Great Moments In Bad Newspaper Writing

"The line of job seekers stretched along the second floor pavilion and out of sight, growing like a contrail against the colorless sky."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kids with wierd names

I'm looking forward to Sarah Palin, whose motherhood of Trig remains the subject of doubt, expressing how outraged she must be at people questioning the even-less doutbful details of Obama's birth.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Must see and hear

Couple recommendations, one of which you can set on Netflix and take your time, the other of which comes on Monday, Feb 21.

First, Monday.

Last week CBS radio turned the lights off on the Adam Carolla show, a morning drive talk show out of LA. Adam, you may know, did 10 years as the Love Lines host with Dr. Drew, is the taller Man Show guy, along with a long list of projects in the comedy-central/jimmy kimmel world of comedy. I've been listening to his morning show for about 3 months or so and its routinely, effortlessly brilliant. He's genius-funny, and he is a consumate pro in the talk radio format. He does brilliant bits, he has tons of interesting guests and he does barrages of rifs off of news stories, Stern-style. Fantastic show. He also has no problem letting a genuine underlying intelligence shine through, which is the central thing missing from all bad radio.

So CBS spiked the show from its LA flagship (and affiliates Friday) to go Top 40. Whatever.

Well, Carolla has said he wil start broadcasting on his own Monday morning, on his dime. He won't have the foils he currently does (not having news chick Teresa, who is a legit comedy talent herself, will be tough), but he will have the freedom of the internet that radio does not allow.

I think he's such a creative powerhouse that it's inevitable that he's going to create something groundbreaking. Now, that might not be Monday. I'm certain he's gonna have to get his legs under him, including getting some sponsorship which he does not have. But Monday is the launch, and I think it will be worth hearing The First One when the show becomes a Big Deal.

Second - Mad Men.

Been meaning to put this out, but if you haven't plowed through the first season on DVD, then you're officially down another Seminal Show. THe second season has come and gone as well from AMC, but I can't speak for it because I haven't seen it. But Season 1 was a triumph. I'm not sure what categort it belongs in - Best Shows of the Decade, along with the Sopranos and The Wire? Or best Regular TV shows, along with The West Wing, Friday Night Lights and Real World Vegas? Well, its tone and delivery is solidly in the own-sweet-damn-time category of the HBO shows, as its brilliant-on-a-budget sets and music - all of which you'd have to expect from a show produced by AMC. But the writing is obviously a bit too confined by the 'regular' cable spot its on. THe show glows with sex, but its barren of onscreen hooking up. Of course, this is 1960, and that's the whole point - the world is suddenly drowning in sex as women show up to work, but neither side has any idea at all how to wink at it.
Still, this clearly ain't HBO.

So Monday listen in to Adam (i'd imagine he'll start streaming at 6am pac), and get Mad Men.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yes. On occasion.

When I was applying to schools in High School, I sent away for the
application from UNC CH. The cover was the Old Well (school symbol
that looks like a gazebo with a blue roof for those who don't speak
UNC) covered in snow.

I'd assumed from that day until I got here that snow is, ya know,
common in Chapel Hill, enough so that they put it on the cover of
their application.

Nope. Here's the first and only 'serious' effort at snow we've seen
in 2 winters here. From about a month ago.

HI! My name is...


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


1 - The touchscreen is terrific and really worth having just because its so ahead of everything else you've had.  Functionally, i think its true value is a) scrolling pages (say, up and down through your contact list, or a long webpage) and b) replicating a mouse on the web.  Homerun execution for both.
    the squeezing/pnching/zooming "multi-touch" is good stuff, but not as intuitive or useful as you'd think.  the only places i use it are on the web and the maps, and the responses are different or maybe just poor enough to seem different.

Downfall of the touchscreen is that its very sensitive, which causes some 'wtf' moments now and again, but that really starts to be a big deal when it makes it vulnerable to false-dials.  A very common way to dial is this:
- pull up your 'favorites' which you do with a clever double-click of the main button.
- touch a name, which calls them (though the names are kinda small, which makes for more wrong ones than I would have thought)
- they hang up a second before you do, phone call ends.  screen instantly reverts to your 'favorites' page.

then what happens?  as you lower the phone from your ear, your fingers, wrapped around the phone (or maybe you switch hands for some reason), brush across the face and call somebody on that favorite page.  You have no clue you've called them.  the other day i left a 3 minute voicemail of me listening to the radio on somebody's phone because of this.

2 - the maps is great, incorporating most of the Google Maps Cool Stuff.  However as a GPS unit the iPhone is really subpar.  You can, as in google, easily produce directions from where you are (though not instantly), but a major missing piece is that it does not have active navigation (called turn by turn, i guess).  I'm guessing Apple didn't want the headache of claiming to be a true GPS nav system, and have to deal with every ahole who got led down a street that isn't there, etc.
   But not only will it not guide you with "turn left in 200 yards" type directions, it won't even update your directions/trip info as you go.  So if you're zooming up 85 to DC, there's no way to know if you're any closer than the 290 miles you started at without essentially relaunching the whole ap and starting over, which is a long series of inputs, clicks and screens that defy driving.  Put another way, if you'd like to take it jogging to get a decent mileage/avg speed, forget it.  it doesn't track anything, not even as a static route on your map.
   As for directions, it offers you this baffling "step by step" guide which is nothing but a line of text that says "merge onto I-95" and then you have to hit the "next" button - again, ridiculous when driving.
   Put another way, having an iphone "guide" your trip is no different than printing your directions at home.
   I understand there are GPS-specific aps out there with all the features, though I haven't gone after them.
   Major, major disappointment.

3 - If you type a lot, I refuse to believe that even the worst BBerry keyboard isn't better, and I have a specific reason why.  A very cool - in fact, vital - part of the web browser is that you can turn the phone on its side and work/read long-ways.  This allows you to read web pages much easier.  Better still, when you come across a page that needs input, the keyboard appears and you get to type on a long-ways keyboard.  These keys are huge, much bigger than a BBerry and more importantly at least twice as big as the tall-ways keyboard.  On this big keyboard, you can nearly type with a full two hands, and can easily, rapidly and accurately type with thumbs.
   If this long-ways keyboard was the standard configuration, I would draw the line right now and say the iPhone is better than a BBerry.

But, impossibly, it is not.  In the mail ap - where, obvioulsy, you do most of your typing - the ONLY option is the tall, super small and narrow keyboard.  Mail, all parts of it, doesn't rotate.  So you are stuck typing with the small keyboard, which defies thumbs and runs about 70-percent with an index finger hunt and peck.
   This applies as well to the iPhone's TXT app too - long-keyboard only.
   I don't get it - the code is already in the phone to make this happen.  Just active the browser's 'rotate' routine in the Mail and SMS aps, and you double the value of this phone.  Insane, and unlike the GPS thing I can't imagine a single good reason why.

Here is my testament to how bad it is: forget offering me the big, rotated keyboard.  Keep it.  just offer an option that puts the normal PHONE KEYPAD on screen in the tall configuration and lets me type/txt using a 9-button input system of ABC-DEF etc.  Just make it an option - I'm used to it from years of my last phone.  If apple's 'guessing' software is so good, they should be able to help me guess my words as i type on that rather than make guesses based on my wrong inputs on thier horrible tin keyboard.

4 - Having said that, the Mail Ap is WAY better than the any BBerry.  Its simple, intuitive, powerful and easy.  Handles all kinds of media flawlessly.  you can view word, pdf, excel and some others seemlessly.
   Sum:  Flawless platform for recieving emails, serviceable for dashing off quick replies.  perhaps that's where the BB lands, too.

5 - the App store.  Probably the true value.  just about every site worth a crap makes an ap that delivers their content in simple, mobile-ready form.  for instance, you can do facebook on the browser, but the facebook Ap is about 200X easier and better.  But even better are the endless amounts of geek creativity you can come across.  My favorite is "Say Where" which in two touches (a few more if looking outside your current location) lets me speak the name of a place into the phone and then it opens maps with my likely intended location highlighted (ie, "asian restraunt" opens a raliegh-sized map with about 10 places).  That's third party.

google has similiar so you can speak your google searches ("Stormy Daniels GOP images") and it opens as a normal google search page.  Nice.

I don't know what's going to happen with Android.  But Apple is way in front and of the ONE compsci geeks I know here, he's trying to dedicate his life to writing iPhone aps and could give a shit about Android.

6 - Finally, the web.  Its just great.  Just a perfect ap that does everything seemlessly, instinctively and perfectly.  My understanding is that nobody else is close, at least except for maybe the Storm.

THe 3G works fast, its great with wireless nets, and all that.  No complaints at all.

I never looked at the imitators - Storm, Instinct, etc - because i was on ATT and avoided some fees by upgrading/pulling the student card, etc.

if i was coming in cold, I'd see if the others can compete with map features/GPS and have a better keyboard solution.  If everything else was roughly even, I'd definetly consider a phone with a better keyboard solution (longways, fold out, whatever), and if the GPS was more robust it would be a no brainer.