fj: (tech)
"With a HD panel watching a film in the dark it's just better than the cinema. The sound is blissful high-def clarity. Everyone know that THX soundtest some DVDs have at the start of the film? Put that on through these and it will literally rip your face off."

User-contributed review of the Logitech Z5500 THX certified surround sound system on
fj: (smug)
Has anyone already written one of those identity deconstructions of the Gates / Seinfeld commercial? You know, one that examines every gesture and line with salient points of the historical events and relationships of the ethnic or social identities the protagonists are, and thus, in this 'narrative' for public consumption, represent to the world? Because it suddenly hit me in the shower that the key scene of this deconstruction to focus on of course would be the group of people, configured as a representative family unit (adult male, adult female, two male minors, female minor) of people of Middle or South American ethnicity and culture1, standing outside, looking in, of which the woman asks 'Is that The Conqueror?', using terminology explicitly referring to the subjugation of these Middle and South American cultures by Europeans. While looking, not down at shoes, but up at the people, signified by editing to be Bill Gates or Jerry Seinfeld.

Ooooh, oooh, oooh, throw in techno angle: the Conquistadores basically managed their feat of killing and subjugating millions because they introduced smallpox. You know, virusses. That Bill Gates brought to all of us with the Windows monoculture, created through an illegal monopoly. Obviously Bill Gates is El Conquistador.

God, what is the significance of Seinfeld there? I can't directly come up with something here. Is he a jester? He offers a churro, is he offering South and Middle America to The Conquistador? He is Jewish, Jews were victimized by the Inquisition during the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand, though, but do I look at the Money stereotype? A financier? He doesn't pay for the shoes, thought. Is this whole commercial actually a coded critique of the banking system of the Renaissance? The modern credit scandal? Kügel? But whatever Jerry's significance is, the man of Middle or South American ethnicity reminds us, while not looking down at the shoes but up at the people in the shop, there from outside, behind the glass, in the harsh cold rather than in the soft yellow glow of the shop, the place of commerce and wealth, that "[Gates and Seinfeld] run tight". Or does he? The subtitles do. Does the Spanish he uses say these two men, or what they represent, have a close association? Can that terminology in Spanish refer to people?

Excuse me, I need to write a grant proposal for an in-depth exposé of Madison Avenue's views on this post-1492 ethnic cleansing through a technological modern viewpoint. I am thinking interpretive dance with multi-media installation.

1 Make sure to not get bogged down by the 'Not Latino, Hispanic!' / 'Not Hispanic, you assimilated tool, Latino!' / 'Neither, you deluded fools, both are identity designations meant to erase our true individual cultures!' discussion.
fj: (Default)
Chrome tech blather )

Crossposted to which I will stop doing as soon as I have backported the last LJ entries and can make a syndication feed.
fj: (tech)
This entry on is reinforcing my desire to order everything I ever want over the web so I never have to enter a store and talk to store help again. Especially a tech store. Actually, let me just reproduce the entry here for you:

Customer: “Hello, I just bought this iPod, and I can’t make it go.”

Me: “What’s the problem?”

Customer: “It won’t go.”

Me: “Okay, how exactly?”

Customer: “IT WON’T GO.”

Me: “Can I see your iPod?”

(The customer takes out iPod Touch and shows it to me. I turn it on and open up Safari.)

Me: “It seems to be working fine.”

(I hand it back to her. She presses the home button multiple times.)

Customer: “How did you do that? It’s not working.”

Me: “Ma’am, what kind of iPod is that?”

Customer: “iPod Touch.”

Me: “Yeah… so try TOUCHING one of the icons on the screen.”

(She does.)


Me: “Yeah, well.”

Look, since the first screen came out we UI makers have spent decades telling people through the systems we designed that the screen is dead. You need a knob or buttons to tune the radio, you need to press quickly to cycle through digits in an alarm, you have to look at the remote and hit the special button to cycle through system entries for the VCR, you press the arrows on the microwave to change the cooking time or hit some timer button repeatedly, we use mice and pads and trackballs to move pointers and we are supposed to laugh at pets and small children when they try to paw moving things on the TV screen. 40 years of UI experiences right there: the screen only displays. (Then UI designers had the gall to name the paradigm of moving a mouse to make something on the screen, at least a foot away from the hand doing the moving, happen 'Direct Manipulation'.)

Sure this has now changed with tablet PCs, but those never took off with the general population, and you still need a stylus for most of them. Little personal organizers also come with styluses. And yes, touch screens really are nothing new; I remember seeing billboards for touch-screen systems in the mid-to-late eighties when I was visiting Brussels -- an HP business system, with the big slogan "Touchez l'ecran. L'ecran responds" or something close to that because I cannot spell French -- but that system did not take over the world, the mouse-based systems did. (I do remember my mother's answer to me telling her excitedly of this new computer I had seen an ad for was of course something about greasy fingerprint. Bit of a wet blanket, but I now fully understand where she was coming from.)

To this day, every touch-activated kiosk has some form of "TOUCH HERE TO START" on the screen because else the majority of people will not know what to do, and certainly will not try touching screens in public without knowing on forehand that is a reasonable thing to do, lest they look in public as 'stupid' as a small child or cat pawing something on the screen. And even then, most kios touch screens have such bad tracking you end up looking like a moron anyway, repeatedly mashing the screen until you walk away in disgust. You know where you got to see touch screens widely deployed? All Star Trek series after the original one. As in, touch screens are Sci-Fi.

But not to this snotty store kid, who probably even rewrote this exchange to make him or herself look better. Well, one day they will be older too, and their years of experience with technology will stand in the way of "just" knowing something so "simple" it is worth being oblique and patronizing about to a customer, instead of sharing the joy of something new finally hitting the consumer market.

(X-Posted to
fj: (tech)
I recently found out that IBM decided it needed its own version of OpenOffice, the word processor, spreadsheet, and graphing suite that can read and write Microsoft Office files. Obviously IBM was not content with just pointing their clients to the official free version now owned and developed by SUN Microsystems, oh no: they took the inner engine of that effort and slapped a user interface based on a piece of Eclipse around it. Why? God knows, but for one thing, they are one whole revision of OpenOffice behind and give no signs of catching up and maintaining parity in engines, and have blown the deadline according to the Wikipedia page for a MacOS X version. Which tells me the team is understaffed.

Why I chuckled when I found this product? IBM branded this IBM Lotus Symphony. Yeah, complete with the yellow background and blocky black fonts. Yes, Lotus Symphony, the name Lotus gave to its office suite follow-up to Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS, never ported properly to the Mac and ceded the Mac productivity market up to Microsoft Office, and then never was able to maintain parity with Office on Windows and thus ceded the market to Microsoft Office.

I just checked the video tutorial, and mostly what this porting of an office engine into a new UI system seems to do is allow the IBM team to create a UI that is more like Microsoft's current UI where tools only become visible when relevant. I couldn't install it on my Mac, even though I can install both OpenOffice and Eclipse on my Mac, so I can't check if the new plug-ins that Eclipse allows are useful at all. In some program manager's mind, making a new version of a freely available popular program using an outdated version, and then branding it with the words and images intensely tied to the bad decisions that led to the long decline of Lotus is making complete sense. Im my mind, I am not so sure.


Aug. 3rd, 2008 09:01 pm
fj: (tech)
I got a letter that my furniture has arrived in the UK while I was in the USA. Some phone tag later and the result is that I will be called soon about a date to deliver it here to my flat. Which means I will have a couch and can have more than two people over. This, of course, means I need a TV, so I can have people over every week like I used to in Boston and loved going to in LA. Also, so I can play computer games on consoles. I keep reading about cool games I want to try.

Now my examples and experiences have taught me that if you want the most school chums to come over, you have to have the coolest toys, so obviously I need a Big Ass TV. The hugest I can stand. So I have entered the world of buying flat panel TVs.

Oh god it is awful. No, seriously. You have to see them in action, and compare and that is just a mess. First of all these things are calibrated all over the place, so it is really hard to compare the screens even if they are all on the same signal, even if the signals are a pristine 1080p Blu Ray or console. Second, if the signal is TV it is almost pointless to even watch any of them, because every one of the 1080p screens is way more capable than the compressed badly transmitted signals of live jerky sports events coming in over the airwaves or Sky satellite, so every screen makes you wonder if any of this is actually worth it for actual television broadcasts, and the answer is, well, no. It's gonna look fuzzy and pans will hurt, and that seems to be true even when the signal is HD. Man did PAL and NTSC make the most of their blurryness to fool our brains into liking it. Then there's a hardware refresh every 6 months, and the new software in the chips actually does seem to matter a tiny bit, but the difference in price between the new models and the ones 6 months old hints at a speed of depreciation I have only seen in cars. Prices and brands are all over the place, even for same-sized models. And can I get myself to pay fourteenhudredfriggindollars for what 10 years ago I would spend 350 bucks on at most? Yeah, the pound conversion still is painful to behold, and buying one of these is not investing in an asset, it is sheer consumption.

It's really hard to make a choice, and it's no fun. But still, I remember that afternoon sitting in front of a 65" screen, with a PS3 player, playing a Blu Ray disc of Planet Earth. Every step in the chain was the best available, from the documentary to the player to the screen to the cables. And every guy in the room, all of us, who'd had consumed massive amounts of media or worked in it in some capacity, in TV, movies, rides, sites, all of us jaded, were watching a nature documentary, something we'd gotten over when were were 12 or so, and just couldn't stop watching because it was so beautiful.

--"Wait, what, are we seriously gonna watch some gazelles jum-- oh man this is awesome.
"Just wait until the jellyfish."
Yeah, I want that experience back.
fj: (Default)
I must have misclicked because LinkedIn just asked every name on my address book to connect to me. Not good. Not terribly bad either, but unhappy here.
fj: (tech)
'Provisioning' is the verb used for taking a mobile phone, a piece of dead electronics made to work on any network, and attaching it to the billing system for a specific operator and setting its settings. Provisioning is difficult because it includes not just hardware negotiations of attaching a SIM to a billing plan, but a peopleware negotiation of confirming identity, selecting a plan and passing a credit check for that specific plan, porting your number, and in case of having been a previous customer, canceling your old plans, seeing which discounts you are eligible for, and pushing it all through.

Now realize that the customer usually does not know the data required to do all this. They just want a phone, they know who they are. The operator needs to make sure who they are, and have the SSN their current plan is registered with (usually not the customer's SSN if they are on a family plan) and what plan they are on already, because front-line billing systems have a tough time knowing these pieces from you just telling them who you are, they much preferr you tell them this data. Now ask yourself how many people walking into a store know the last four digits of the owner of the family plan they are on. Or that they are on a family plan.

Now ask yourself how many of them will pass a credit check easily in ten seconds.

Now ask yourself how many of these people from all ages and walks of life will have a readable credit card for that credit check. No, no manual keying in of numbers because that means a stolen credit card number can be used. Has to be a real card. To be scanned on a finicky portable payment device used by roving store reps.

Now ask yourself how much time a company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals has given its floor reps to familiarize themselves with the myriad of plans and price points for those plans, and all the disclaimers and small print and discounts.

Now ask yourself how much time a company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals has given its floor reps to train on the process with real live customers or even role-playing other store reps to get through the whole thing.

Now ask yourself how much QA a company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals has done on the software used in the finicky handheld payment terminal that has to transmit all the data like former phone number, SSN, IMEI number, etc, to the mobile operator. The terminal is a WinCe device.

Now ask yourself how much this company gunning for Secrecy and Big Bang Reveals actually has control over the mobile operator's back-end system. Hint: none.

Now remind yourself how many times you have been told one thing by some mobile operator's rep that turned out to be a complete lie according to another rep from the same mobile operator, because mobile operators do not keep their reps on single message since their customer-facing systems are a reflection of the spaghetti that keeps their billing system together, an insane diagram of boxes all trying to create a coherent picture of a user's account, with different phone reps able to influence different things, at different levels of empowerment, at different 1-800 / 888 numbers. One can edit a number-port request, but can't cancel it. Another can cancel it but doesn't know the discounts. Nobody knows who where what for the whole picture.

Now multiply that across 200 stores. Now multipy that accross the lines you saw at those stores stretching for hours and hours.

You should be coming to the conclusion that Apple became an AT&T kiosk this weekend, and it was hell on retail earth.

Apple workers are hand picked and empowered to give the best experience they possibly can to clients they really want to please. Apple stores have some of the absolute lowest staff turn-over numbers in malls because people are happy to work there and happy to sell what they are selling to mostly customers happy to buy what they are buying. It is the real reason Apple stores work even though by all narratives of mall sales, they should have been a miserable failure between Sharper Image and Best Buy, but instead Apple stores are a huge success because their store workers believe and are allowed to make customers happy using an incredibly thought out smooth retail process. And this weekend they had to deal with a tsunami wave of consumers to be handled with an organizational process made to deal with the amount of people a wireless phone selling cart in the food court gets. Because, basically, AT&T did business as usual, which is what put them and all other mobile operators at the bottom of the list of companies people like to deal with, below used car sales dealerships and insurance providers.

No, the problem isn't the activation, which eventually you can go do at home. It was getting to the point where you can send a customer home to try to re-activate their brick over iTunes because you entered everything so AT&T knows who they are.  My IMs have lit up with stories of floor managers in Apple stores crying. 6 hours to sell a phone. The Apple forums went offline after 2M5 views on iPhone support forums, 400K devoted to in-store problems. And why? Because this time AT&T is paying Apple so much for each phone AT&T insisted no phone was to be sold without having a plan attached. None. No buying a box and provisioning at home. This launch is costing AT&T so much in hardware they want revenue from Day 1, so no sending out a phone without a plan to do the provisioning through iTunes. No no no. In store provisioning, all of them, each and every one. And Apple did not work the process out enough, not train long enough, nor QA their handheld payment terminals enough, which are only now being found to be sending bad IMEI -- that's the serial number of the phone -- and number porting data to AT&Ts back-end, lest someone leak a soooooper seeekret plan detail through a lolcat or something. Which means that during this sale, AT&T had to be called. To edit a port request. Or cancel it. Or both. Or neither. And what plan can this person be on? Only AT&T phone reps knew -- well, kinda.

And this was Friday. The real weekend starts now. I hear Apple stores are now open normally agains with Genius Bars and Personal Training and no extra staff was planned for phone sales, because the initial rush should have been over.

Do Not Go To An Apple Store This Weekend. No.
fj: (travel)
Not content with merely being 10 to 20 minutes late in departing, as the BA0946 to Düsseldorf has been the last 7 weeks or so, for my last flight to Germany BA decided to cancel it outright. And 4 other flights to continental Europe with it. They blame weather which can't be called out of the ordinary for London at all. Of course, being on time to hold up my end of the deal, I had already gone through security, so I dutifully trudged to the service desk as the sign told me to do. Where first one guy checks us while in line and tells us to wait, and another guy 20 minutes later tells us all that we have to go "landside", which means going down to Arrivals, waiting in line for passport control, and go to the big bank of customer service desks in the Departures terminal. There is no doubt in my mind the desk we were already at could have easily rebooked us.

This is what I hate about airlines: there is 0 understanding for our mishaps on their side but we are supposed to deal with 100% of the shit they throw on us, on top of paying dear money for it. If your car breaks down and you are late at the airport, you will have to pay full price for the next flight. Meanwhile they can decide to take their birds out of service at any time, and they may, may, give you a refund, minus taxes, fees, and service charges after treating you with no real respect for your circumstances beyond, of course, confsing you, making you wait, trudge, wait, trudge, and then get into a line I estimated to be about an hour long when we did arrive to the central service desks, and giving us a bad photocopy of some perfunctory apologies signed by some guy named Dirk who of course was not in line with us and gets to go home at night where he wants to be while being paid for being at the airport while we just lose time. I have come to the point that sincere apologies from anyone with the word 'Customer' in their title only irritate me, as the apologies end up meaning nothing tangible in my life. Refunds, credits, trying to make things right, those do. A photocopied apology but then making me stand in line forever to receive the exact level of service on a product I would already get anyway only pisses me off more, even if the sheet did mention we could call the toll free number or go online to change the booking.

I called the number for BA as it was on the copy as I stood in line, and did get their phone ticketing desk. They, of course, couldn't tell me whether any other airline was leaving that night that I could get a seat on, only the people at the Heathrow desks could, but by the time I got to them all those seats would be gone anyway to the people in front of me, and besides, the customer rep figured not anyway, as the bad weather was not just at Heathrow but also in Germany. Ok, rebook me for tomorrow then. Can I get a transportation voucher then? Well, stay in that hour long line being slow with people being rebooked to get to a service desk for that simple credit, she could not do anything over the phone. When I got off the phone after being confirmed I left the rebooking line and tried one of the floor reps if he knew how to get me a transportation voucher -- I don't need rebooking, I don't need to hold the rebooking line up, I just need a signature on a simple print. Of course not, go stand in the line. I look over and see a shorter line, can I get in that. No, that bank of desks are doing something else. I then notice the signage above it and know what is going on, and look the rep point blank in the face and tell him that no, that bank of desks is doing exactly the same. Only then does he say admit those desks are servicing only the First and Business Class customers, which to my brain is doing exactly the same and his previous answer was just bullshit weaseling, and I turn and walk away while he is still talking to me. Fuck this.

I get to do it all over aain tomorrow.
fj: (Default)
When Helio claimed to have 70k subscribers, it also claimed $100 Average Revenue Per User [ARPU]. Now Helio is claiming 170K users. Which means they should be doing $17 million of total revenue per month, if the ARPU number was a) true b) sustained till now. Virgin is acquiring these claimed 170K users $39 million, and not even in cash, but in a stock that was worth $15,- per share when it did its IPO last October, but is now at $3,- a decine also known as 'tanking'.

So for Virgin acquired Helio for two months of revenue of Helios subscribers? Virgin just acquired 170K new high-value subscribers for a measely $229,- per subscriber? This after SK telecom invested hundreds of millions and was ready to invest hundreds more, to the tune of a pledged half a billion in ten years, when the dollar hadn't completely tanked yet?

What is wrong with this picture? That Helio basically gave itself away for free.

I'll tell you something: my gut feeling is that $100 ARPU was exagerated at 70k subs, and Helio got the next 100K subs by shutting off the credit check. And their subscribers ain't paying their bills.
fj: (tech)
Every time there is some article on Slashdot about phones that are smarter or more interesting than the ones a year ago, there's always someone whining "I just want a phone why do I have to pay extra I only want to make calls why can't I just get a phone waaaah", completely ignoring that low-end phones are always available and you can, if you want to, ignore there's a camera or an text inbox on them. The only sympathy I have here is people who need to not have a camera on their phone for security reasons, they are getting problems.

What interests me is how the tenor of these posts have changed. First of all, finally people are responding with a STFU, get the cheapest one, and just don't crack open the manual. But second, the whine has changed. It used to be "I just want a PHONE that MAKES CALLS." Then it was "I just want a PHONE that makes CALLS and DOES THE TEXT THING RIGHT" which means a leap in the USA. Now I just saw "I just want a PHONE that makes CALLS and does text and so I can check my emails why does everything have to have SO MANY FEATURES."

The really cheap people with not so much disposable income, young teens, want every feature they can get. Technology has now been completely mainstreamed: I remember 2 years ago watching The Young And The Restless and the teens were discussing using a USB key with a password logger program to get a login to check a guy's mails, and Mariah Carey is singing about being posted on YouTube and probably even knows what that means too.
fj: (Disney)
Well, then. We all started, and it seems the last hold-out can't make it work, even with investments of over half a billion dollars.

But dammit, we really all tried.


Jun. 19th, 2008 03:59 pm
fj: (tech)
They always tell you to put minimal text on presentation slides, especially for points that you will present as well verbally. Certainly do not make your PowerPoint a written copy of what you want to say. But that never addresses that the last 7 'presentations' I made got presented maybe only once, if ever, but were mostly passed around as a sort of e-mail brochure to read alone from a screen. It's kinda hard to make a presentation that works as both a presentation and a hand-out.


Jun. 18th, 2008 11:32 am
fj: (tech)
Somewhere after Steve Dyer decided not to be a hoster anymore, I decided I needed my own domain. I tried to come up with something and smashed 'cool' words together to have a really cool doman name like liquidneutron or ionsky or whatever, but everything was taken or actually stupid. So I invented the word exonome and took out, and built my electronic life around it. Hundreds of sites have no an exonome address as my registration. If I had to change that, I'd collapse in fits.

I just found out and have now been taken. I am now either paranoid or scared. I wonder what I have to do to protect the word Exonome to be abl to keep my domain.
fj: (UK)
Oh yeah, utilities. So E-on called me back one final time that day I was on the phone with them and we figured out my downstairs neighbors were registered to my electric meter. Obviously I had a manager, and he had thought it over, and cut through what to do:
"I just need to know one thing: did you move into this property on March 3d?"
-- "Yes."
"Then we're starting an account on your name."
--"What about my downstairs neighbors?"
"That's honestly a dispute between you and them."

So now my name will be on my electric bill. I warned my neighbors they need to calculate how much electricity money I owe them for the last 3 months, and we are both wondering who has been paying the other meter...
fj: (tech)
When I first hit Beartopia after The A-List Bears To End All A-List Bears posted about helping with the launch, my very first impression was that it was designed like someone was trying to do a parody of Web 2.0 sites by redoing the least Web 2.0 kind of site, the adult hook-up bear site, as all the Web 2.0 way one possibly could.

See, I have been to a lot of adult-encounter sites, and I now have certain expectations of how that category should look: a little clunky, a little sleazy, a lot ugly. Beartopia totally drops that. No porn-stars on the front page, just guys in pictures that could almost be stock shots, even if one is shirtless in his garden and I know men would pay to watch him do porn. No huge bear paws, logos, cartoons, or everything beige. It is such a change I have to keep reminding myself Beartopia is for real instead of a design project meant to hit Digg's front page ironically, using Google maps and shared calendars and allowing you select friends for your profile in a social website way.

Here I was in the middle of a design office of Vodafone Germany, sitting at a huge table as German design weenie contractors were chatting and mulling around me in this open-plan office, typing in my profile info, on a page with luscious forest shots for backgrounds instead of hairy torsos, and sane typography on a single page instead of blue courier on sand in three pop-off windows that both make your eyes bleed and communicate to everyone you are up to 0 professionalism. Until I hit the 'Bears in My Area' results and opened profile headings. Yeah, it's the user-generated content that in the end makes an Encouters site an Encounters site, and this is immediately where I had to close the page in that office. Because Beartopia's users are men out for a good time after all, and God bless 'em for it.
fj: (UK)
Just before I left, my DSL started acting up in the evenings. This saddened me, because O2 had been cheap, fast, and rock-solid up to now. I diagnosed as much as I could last night, because I really, really, really did not want to call some call center 6 time zones away and go through endless scripts of rebooting and checking my wireless. But it was unavoidable, the router was telling me the connection was going up and down like a yo-yo. I decided to eliminate as many variables as I could myself: attached the Mac laptop directly with a cable, switched off wireless, got all the settings, got ready, and called.

I chose O2 because they are not a reseller of BT, but they can go into the local switch themselves and set up their own equipment, which is why they can offer faster speeds than BT does, but also, they are responsible for the whole chain themselves. No passing the buck. I immediately got a rep on the line who took my info. Indeed, attaching the Mac with a cable made him skip most of his script, since they do not have special management software for the Mac, and yeah, wireless is not fault issue then. All I did have to do was a hard reset of the box to factory settings, but that didn't help and I was at Tier 2 within 10 minutes. Tier 2 first told me he could see I had dropped 90 times in the last 8 hours, and they didn't like that at all. (I was more wondering just how much they could see about my link... If tomorrow I get an intervention for checking ICHC, I will know.) He first had me switch filters -- I never knew a solid state filter could fail, but he said it happens, and he called me back on my mobile -- and when my link still kept dropping while I was still on the call with him, he decided to set the line tolerance for noise on my line to really low (which degrades speed but makes the connection very reliable) so he could push the latest firmware to my box. Once the new firmware was on, he reset the line back to normal tolerance, and then he told me to browse for two minutes. I told him I already had been doing so obsessively. It was working. Still, we both agreed it was too early to close the case, so we agreed the case number will remain open till mid-Saturday. It was really pleasant, good troubleshooting as if we were both software professionals, a willingness to exchange information so I could learn, and he wasn't intent on getting me off the line ASAP at all. Also, my box is faster than ever now.

As for Gas & Electricity, I really expected a bill by now, which I haven't gotten. I did, out of curioisity, open a bill from British Gas that keep coming for the previous tenant: You Are About To Be Disconnected This Week, And We Will Tack On £200 For Doing So. Um. Um. Eeeep! I called British Gas collections department and I said, look I do not have a customer number for me, but I do for the previous tenant and this ain't right. The collections woman said that this was no big deal and she would put me through to the moving department since I was a new move (Hello? I have called 3 times now?) but I said "No." Huh? "Before you do that, please tell me I won't get disconnected this week?" Oh, I won't get disconnected this week, seriously. The moving department was annoyed on my behalf as much as I was, and said he would stop the bill for the previous tenant now and start me on a whole new account and can I just have your last name again? Oh well, let's hope this one sticks. Also, if I want to they could also do electricity? I answered no, tell me who my current provider is now because I expect there's another screw-up there?

And indeed, calling E-on, I have hit the mother of all possible screw ups: my downstairs neighbors are paying my electricity bill. heck, if I were them I'd want to do that too since I am never home. You see, there are these two meters in the hallway, and they each have a serial number, and they are labeled which flat they are for, and when I mentioned my serial number the man said "Ok, we'll stop the bills for the previous tenant" and on a hunch I said, can you tell me who that is? He can't, that is confidential. "Look, if it the C*****, thos are my downstairs neighbours, and you can't just take them off the account" because hell if I am going to have my neighbors slammed. He called a super and we had to now test whose meter was whose, can I please switch on something that consumes a lot of energy, go look which meter is running fast, switch the devices off, and see if the mete goes slow? This is how you test a power meter from afar. I switched on the washer to tumble dry, and ran the food processor. And the test confirms what I expected: my downstairs neighbors are paying my power bill, and lord knows who is paying the other meter.

E-on is dumbfounded about what to do now. They'll call me back.


May. 8th, 2008 09:49 am
fj: (phkl)
“The people who complain about retouching are the first to say, ‘Get this thing off my arm.’ ” I mentioned the Dove ad campaign that proudly featured lumpier-than-usual “real women” in their undergarments. It turned out that it was a Dangin job. “Do you know how much retouching was on that?” he asked. “But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.”

Retouchers, subjected to endless epistemological debates—are they simple conduits for social expectations of beauty, or shapers of such?—often resort to a don’t-shoot-the-messenger defense of their craft, familiar to repo guys and bail bondsmen. When I asked Dangin if the steroidal advantage that retouching gives to celebrities was unfair to ordinary people, he admitted that he was complicit in perpetuating unrealistic images of the human body, but said, “I’m just giving the supply to the demand.” (Fashion advertisements are not public-service announcements.)
Pascal Dangin, master digital retoucher, in "Pixel Perfect: Pascal Dangin’s virtual reality.", Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, 2008-05-12

As found for me by [ profile] jpeace, who turns 28 today, and brings me the best gifts from the Internet every night.
fj: (tech)
I had this interesting discussion with [Mozilla Chairman] Mitchell Baker a while back around the downloading of Firefox. She was talking about how imperative it was that they get the download to below five megabytes and I said, "That's interesting. What's with five megabytes? Why does it really matter?" And she said, "For us that's where we see a real knee in the curve of people willing to say, 'Yes' quickly and just get it, so we want to get it down to that." And I said, "That's interesting, because for us the OpenOffice download, which I think is now around 70 or 80 megabytes, we've seen no real cessation of demand or change as that has gone up or down." And she said "I don't save my users five hundred dollars."
Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun, as interviewed by Engadget Mobile

I think I find it interesting because it is all about the nuts and bolts of disruptive Internet culture, and so much more insightful about that phenomenon than what I was hearing from Scott McNealy in his last years at Sun Microsystems.

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