Posted on Sunday, July 1st, 2012
There's a heatwave plaguing the nation! Well, not here, really, but most places in the USA. Though it is supposed to get up to 90° next week. Guess that means it's time for my American readers to park themselves next to an air conditioner... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Canada! Happy Canada Day to our lovely neighbors to the north!
• Hadia Gwaii! And speaking of Canada... one of my favorite travel blogs, Everything Everywhere, recently landed on a place I have long wanted to visit, Hadia Gwaii. Gary's 8 Things You Might Not Have Known About Hadia Gwaii just makes me want to go even more. Sure it's less than 600 miles northwest of Seattle, but getting there is not easy. There's a ferry that runs out of Prince Rupert, but you've got to drive 1000 miles to get there...
Map courtesy of Google Maps.
That's a 7-hour ferry ride after a 21-hour drive. Not really a great option for me. I'd rather fly to Vancouver, then transfer to a connecting flight to Sandspit... at a cost of about $1000. Yikes. Maybe an entire day driving wouldn't be so bad if I did a stopover in Prince George or something. But, given the price of gas, maybe the $1000 flight isn't so horrible after all? I dunno. If you want to see a little of why I want to go there, here's a Hadia Gwaii info site.
• Oatmeal! Matt Inman, creator of some of the funniest stuff on the internet you will ever see over at The Oatmeal, has been embroiled in a stupid, stupid lawsuit. What's particularly stupid is that he was first sued because somebody STOLE HIS WORK... and then again BECAUSE HE TURNED THE DUMB-FUCK LAWSUIT INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO RAISE $220,000 FOR CHARITY. Yes, he was sued for raising money for the National Wildlife Foundation and the American Cancer Society with OPERATION BEAR LOVE GOOD, CANCER BAD...
Now, as somebody who has been threatened with absurd legal action more than once for the crazy stuff I've published on my blog, I have a low tolerance for ridiculous crap like this. If there's any justice in the world, douchebag lawyer Charles Carreon will end up paying all the legal fees for filing this bullshit in the first place... right after his lawsuits are dismissed for being STUPID. Anybody wanting to see what's going to cause the downfall of this country need look no further than our legal system's frivolous lawsuits.
• Pot! Kettle! And speaking of stupid... "Nancy Pelosi is a dingbat!" —Irony's Official Spokesperson, Sarah Palin.
This may be a true statement. Nancy Pelosi may indeed be a dingbat. But anything that comes out of the mouth of this vapid joke regarding the lack of smarts IN OTHER PEOPLE just makes her into a bigger fucking idiot than she already is. If that's even possible. It just proves that Sarah Palin isn't even self-aware. Or able to learn. As in lacking sentience. Like a rock. A stupid, stupid, stupid rock.
As much as I loathe John McCain for betraying our POW/MIAs, the fact that he unleashed this monster on us is beyond unforgivable.
Blargh. Guess I'd better stop shooting bullets and go into work since I'm running an hour late and all. This coming week is going to be a rough one...
Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2012
I cut my foot. My car is making a funny noise. My wireless router is dead and my network is down. I had to re-book my upcoming flights because of a schedule change. The zipper on my new suitcase is broken. I just found out that Tower Prep is most definitely not coming back for a second season. I lost the $40 I got from the ATM yesterday. I'm way behind in my work. And I'm out of chocolate pudding.
It's a Monday.
And since I don't feel like re-living my pain by blogging about it, I'll just share a cool sale I found on an app I like. If you'll ever need to access your Mac or PC remotely from an iPad or iPhone, there's a great solution that's currently on sale. Read on...
Ooh... look! I'm working in Photoshop on my Mac...
Actually I am on my iPad at home working in Photoshop on my Mac back at the office...
This is nothing new. I once assembled, designed, and sent an email campaign on my office Mac from my iPhone while standing in line at Disney World 2500 miles away. Remote access from computer-to-computer or device-to-computer has been around for quite a long while. What's different is how much better the tools are getting. For somebody like me who travels a lot, this has been a Very Big Deal. And now the cream of the crop in remote access has released a new version, the amazing Splashtop 2, and it's on sale for a limited time...
Works as advertised. If anything, they under-sell it. You'll need to pay for an "Access Anywhere" account to use the automated login connection... it's a total bargain at $9.99 a year / 99¢ a month.
Here's a link to the iOS app for iOS-to-Mac or iOS-to-Windows. (Reg. $9.99 NOW $2.99 for a limited time!)
Here's a link to the Mac app for Mac-to-Mac or Mac-to-Windows. (Reg. $19.99 NOW $2.99 for a limited time!)
If you need to remotely access a Mac or Windows machine from an iOS device, I give Splashtop 2 my highest recommendation.
Posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
First of all... Matlock? NNNNOOOoooooo!
Cool images courtesy of CERN
Anybody with any respect for particle physics who still thinks referring to the Higgs boson as "The God Particle" should read this. Oh how I loathe that incredibly stupid nickname...
And now... onward...
Posted on Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
Happy Birthday, USA!
Despite my complete and total disgust over the heinous political divide that will probably be your downfall, I still love you.
Oh... and good luck with that whole election thing come November. You're going to need it.
Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2012
The good thing about taking those late, late-night, red-eye flights? Well... if you're connecting to another flight, sometimes you can save a chunk of money because you're connecting to a cheap, early-ass flight that nobody wants to bother with. You're also saving money because you don't have to get a hotel that night, and can just sleep on the plane. Also, if you have premium flyer status, your odds of getting upgraded to First Class are scary-good. On the surface, it's a good deal all the way around. The only penalty being that you are flying overnight at a late hour, which can be a bit rough on a person mentally and physically.
Well, that's not the only penalty...
So, do the positives outweigh the negatives?
Well... right now I'm tempted to say no. Waiting here for my delayed flight with total insanity going on around me is the stuff of nightmares. And I have never been able to sleep on a plane no matter how tired I am.
Except... I am getting three days vacation at an insanely cheap cost before I have to fly to work, so I'm not sure.
Guess I'll know once it's all over.
Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2012
I'm not a sun-worshipper. I'm not one to lay around on a beach all day. I'm not a fan of high heat and humidity. So I'm the one who experiences a secret glee when I hear that there will be overcast skies and scattered thundershowers when I'm headed to a tropical destination. It'll still be hot, of course, but at least I'll be shielded from the sun and the rain will make it so there's a reason for the humidity.
Except the forecast was a lie, and so here I am in the Bahamas with blue skies and unrelenting sun in full 95° heat. If I was into this kind of weather, I'd describe it as "perfect."
The view from my room pretty much sucks, doesn't it?
Oh well. At least the flight down was surreal... but nice...
The reason I am here is twofold...
I'm staying at a resort on Cable Beach, which is a pretty stretch of sand west of Nassau...
I was able to contain myself all of an hour before I hopped a taxi to Nassau, and Hard Rock #146 for me...
It's a nice, old-school cafe with plenty of memorabilia covering the walls. In other words, it's exactly what a Hard Rock should be...
The town of Nassau is kind of nice, if a bit touristy with all the cruise ships stopping by. I didn't feel like doing any of that kind of thing, but couldn't resist when I saw there was a PIRATE MUSEUM!!
They recreate a pirate village you can walk through along with a pirate ship and various dioramas to show what pirate life was like. They also have a bunch of trivia you can play along the way, which was pretty cool...
I have no idea what's going on here. I hope it's some freaky-ass attempt at surgery to alleviate back pain...
From there I wandered down to Junkanoo Beach...
One thing I've noticed so far is that the kids who live here are really well behaved. This adorable tyke was content to play quietly by himself while his family was swimming, which was a big contrast to the tourist kids who were screaming and yelling and going bat-shit insane as they terrorized the beach...
If I knew that the weather was going to be this beautiful, I would have brought my "real" camera instead of relying on my iPhone and my pocket shooter. Oh well, something is better than nothing...
My plans for tomorrow? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Though I'll probably venture away from the resort for a little while... especially if those overcast skies ever show up.
Posted on Saturday, July 7th, 2012
My big plans to do nothing today were destroyed at 9:26am.
But in a very good way.
Because that's when I got an email from a Blogography reader who got a text from her brother who saw that I was in Nassau... "DAVE! You're in the Bahamas? Come visit us in Atlantis! We promise to make it worth the trip!"
"Atlantis" is a resort on Paradise Island (formerly Hog Island) that's just north of Nassau. I investigated it when I was looking for a hotel here, but photos of the popular water park on the resort grounds showed that the place was overrun with kids, so I put it on my list of places to avoid.
But the idea of getting away for lunch was oddly appealing, so I got cleaned up and hopped in a taxi. Destination: Atlantis...
Now, usually, non-guests can only enter the Atlantis grounds by paying for a $135 day pass. It's a lot of money, but you do get to use the water park, pools, beaches, and all the other facilities... IF they have any passes available, since the number they sell depends on occupancy of the hotel. Fortunately, I didn't have to pay the money because my new friends just handed me one of their room keys, which is like a Golden Ticket to the grounds.
You don't have to have a pass to enter the Atlantis casino, of course. They're happy to take your money for free. And it's totally worth the trip, because they have four pieces by one of my favorite artists, Dale Chihuly!
Here's the Temple of the Sun...
And the Temple of the Moon...
And the Crystal Gate...
I couldn't find a name for this very cool chandelier. Perhaps it's "Temple of the Alien Intestines" or "Chandelier of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" or something. In any event, this photo doesn't do it justice. The piece is absolutely magnificent, and a little terrifying...
Using the magical powers of my friend's room key, I then got to see the water park, which features a giant water slide...
But the coolest thing I saw was the Atlantis Lazy River tube ride, which ends with a float through a big tube... THROUGH A GIANT SHARK TANK!!! Now, this the very definition of SHARK EXTREME!!
But the SHARK EXTREMENESS doesn't end there. Much to my amazement, there are sharks swimming around in the fountain pools on the resort grounds! No fences. No barriers. No nuthin'. You can just walk right up and look inside...
I guess the sharks are well fed by drunken tourists who accidentally fall into the predator-infested waters. But not everything is deadly at Atlantis. They have giant balloons in the shape of donuts and cupcakes too...
From there we wandered down to the Paradise Island marina. If you've got billions of dollars for a giant yacht, you can probably afford to berth here...
And then we got to the reason my blog friends thought that a trip to Atlantis would be worth the trouble...
ZOMG! There's a Johnny Rockets here! AND they had my vegetarian burgers in-stock! How amazing is that? Now I was really glad I decided to drag my lazy ass out of bed this morning!
After a great lunch, it was time to bid my friends goodbye and get back to my scheduled plans of doing nothing. The passenger ferry was just around the corner, so I decided to save money on a pricey taxi and just take a jitney bus from Nassau back "home" to Cable Beach. The ferry itself is an odd experience. The "ferries" are actually just rickety old boats that charge $4 to cross from Paradise Island to downtown...
It's not exactly a pleasant trip because it's sweltering hot, you can't see out very well, and you've got a "tour guide" screaming the entire trip (who expects to be tipped for "entertaining" you). I managed to get a few pictures off, but the boat wasn't exactly conducive to photography...
With three cruise ships in town, Nassau was beyond packed, so I bolted for the jitney stop and my $1.25 ride back to my hotel.
And here I am, hurrying through this blog post so I can put the excitement of my day behind me and get back to the important business of doing nothing.
Well, not exactly nothing...
A few more of these and it will finally be a vacation...
Posted on Sunday, July 8th, 2012
Well... uhhh... that was an interesting night. Or so it would seem. Things are a little... fuzzy... right now in my brain.
After I started drinking, I apparently decided not to stop. I totally blame the group of enablers I hung out with at the bar. Well, that and the fact that this KALIK beer they have here is pretty darn tasty. I cannot, however, offer any explanation for the two shots of tequila that were on my bar tab. Except to say that it was probably because they didn't have Jägermeister...
At some point I noticed the sun was setting, so I decided to run down to the beach and take a photo. I ended up tripping in the sand and crashing into a palm tree, but I still managed to get the shot...
As I was limping back to the bar, I saw people eating popsicles. Since I hadn't eaten dinner yet, I decided that was the perfect thing to have.
And since I was a good boy and totally finished all my popsicle dinner, I rewarded myself with another beer for dessert.
I don't know what I was rewarding myself for with the four beers that followed... but they were on my bill, so I'm sure I must have totally deserved them.
Eventually everybody decided to go to the casino. It sounded like a great idea at the time, but I was completely drunk so I probably wasn't in the best shape to be making decisions. Fortunately, I also wasn't in the best shape to remember how to get money out of a cash machine, so I only lost the $20 I had on me. At least I think it was $20. Let's see... I started the day with $50... minus $24 taxi to Paradise Island... $4 for the ferry... $1.25 for the jitney bus... so yeah, $20 pissed away (give or take). I can live with that, I guess.
When I finally dragged my drunken banged-up body back to my room, I took this picture of myself...
I'm not sure why. Probably because I was surprised to have gotten so sunburned considering I was only wandering around Atlantis for a little over three hours. Guess the sun here is mighty powerful.
The time-stamp on the photo is 12:47am, so I'm guessing I was in bed by 1:00am.
I woke up around 7:30 this morning with quite a lot of pain in my knee and shoulder, but barely a hangover. I was going to chalk this up as a WIN! until I saw my shorts laying on the floor with the back pocket half-way ripped off. Which means my right ass cheek was exposed for heaven-only-knows how long last night. I hope I was wearing boxers underneath, but that's debatable considering I was buck-nekkid when I climbed out of bed. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen when I fell into the palm tree, so I have no clue when... or how... it happened.
The only thing I really wanted to do in the Bahamas (other than nothing) was to go diving. Unfortunately, I am still poor thanks to buying my new MacBook, so I knew early on that it wasn't going to happen. This trip may have been ridiculously cheap, but it was no excuse to rack up debt on my credit card with some dives. The plan was to use my "resort credit" to pay for most of my meals, and not spend more than the $150 I brought with me ($50 a day) for everything else.
Never mind that I blew past my entire resort credit by $62 because I ran up a massive bar tab last night... I'm sticking to the plan, dammit! I now have -$12 to spend on for my last day. I guess this means I'll be selling myself down on the beach tonight so I can afford dinner. Here's hoping some sugar-momma (or sugar-daddy, because you can't be picky about these things) likes men with their ass hanging out of their shorts.
In the meanwhile, I suppose I'll see what I can do with my -$12.
There's still no sign of the scattered thundershowers I've been promised three days in a row now... so maybe I'll lay by the pool and read a book. The sun is just now peering over the East Tower, so I'm sure the courtyard will be flooded with an ungodly amount of sunshine any minute now...
Because, hey, I've already got the start of a really good sunburn, why not take it all the way?
But first I have to drag my lazy ass out of bed so I can make my way down to the lobby and post this to my blog*. It's 8:40 now, so I'm hoping to make it by 11:00.
*I'd post this from my room, but the internet here is wired. Since the new MacBook Retina doesn't have an ethernet port, I'm sans internet. Technology: it's not always all it's cracked up to be.
Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2012
And here we are with a Very Special Edition of "Bahamian Bullets on Monday" where I answer questions and write observations from my time in the Bahamas. So don't flip that calendar... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Money! Bahamian dollars are completely interchangeable with US dollars, since the currency of the Bahamas is tied to the US exchange rate... until you leave the Bahamas... at which time any Bahamian dollars you might be carrying are practically worthless. Not that you'll see many Bahamian dollars. Thanks to the massive tourist trade with the States, you'll see a lot more US money than anything else. A friend asked me to get her a Bahamian $3 bill as a souvenir, but I couldn't find one...
Eventually I managed to trade for a $1 bill that a jitney driver collected, since it was the only currency of the Bahamas I ever saw. I don't understand why the Bahamian government doesn't just print a bunch of $3 bills that souvenir shops could put in a plastic sleeve and sell for $5 each. Everybody would win. The government would be printing money that would rarely be circulated (thus bringing money into the country for nothing), and shop owners are getting a big return on an investment that never loses value.
• Jitney! I have no idea about "the jitney that the Sex and the City characters rode to The Hamptons"... but the "jitney" here in the Bahamas is a nickname for the local shared bus service (the name "jitney" having migrated from the US). From what I can tell, anybody with a bus can get a permit to run designated routes around the islands. Since I was staying at Cable Beach, I rode the #10 each day which runs from there to Downtown Nassau and back. In my case, they were a cheap ($1.25) alternative to a pricey taxi ($15.00+tip). But you do get what you pay for. Jitneys are almost always older vehicles, and many are busted to shit...
And I mean that literally... some of them are falling apart. The one I rode to dinner last night didn't have working air conditioning. But that's okay, because the door was broken and wouldn't close, so we had plenty of fresh air blowing in...
Despite being a bit dangerous, it was a beautiful old broken-down door with a lot of history...
And speaking of danger, you could literally be taking your life in your own hands when riding. When I stepped into my seat, my foot went through the floor. The plate snapped back up, but I spent most of the trip wondering if my seat was going to fall through...
Jitneys are a cheap way to get around and are everywhere. They're also fairly convenient, stopping many places along their route. But since the bus doesn't leave until full (and I mean really full, since seats fold down into the aisles), you sometimes have a bit of a wait at a start-point, but it's a small price to pay for the money you save.
I heard a few stories about how jitneys are not very well regulated, and it's not unheard of for drivers to be drunk or on drugs while operating their vehicles. Even worse, there have been incidents of violence and rape reportedly involving jitney drivers. It's probably not a good idea to ride in them at odd hours or in remote areas, but I had no problems at all the half-dozen times I rode them. Scary, broken vehicles aside, the drivers I saw were always courteous... helpful even... and seemed competent in their jobs. But I was on a major tourist route, so I can't really speak to what things are like around the rest of the island.
• Mural! I was asked about the little pirate guy who closed out my post on day one. He's not mine... he's part of a mural downtown...
It's called "Hello Nassau" by "Thundercut" and is part of a public murals project sponsored by Coke...
There are a few of them around that I saw...
Pretty cool, huh?
• Resort! While I was in the lobby of the Sheraton using the wireless internet (since my new MacBook Pro Retina doesn't have an ethernet port for the wired internet in my room), I watched a guy have a complete meltdown because he went to pay his bill and found out there was a $40 per day "Resort Fee" that was due. I had gotten a discount rate, but even then I was notified about the fee. Sure, it's kind of a bait-and-switch deal to be reeled in at one price and then have to pay a huge add-on fee, but it was clearly stated, and so I knew to expect it.
Then I got to wondering if Sheraton doesn't tell you about the fee if you book from their site, because that would make me pretty mad. But, nope, they absolutely show you the final price (and if you click on the total, you see the $40 fee added)...
But what if the guy booked at a third party site? I usually book my hotels at Orbitz, so I gave them a try. Nope, they too show the "Local Charges Due at Hotel" right after the price, which works out to be that $40 per night...
Then I checked Expedia. And here's where things get strange. They don't show any fees or taxes attached to the rate at all when you are reviewing what they have available...
But then you scroll down and see something remarkable... they claim the resort fee is already included in the rate! The same $159 rate that Sheraton and Orbitz are adding a fee to!
Thinking that this is a trick because the "total price" isn't displayed until the next page, I clicked onward...
There we go! They add the $40 resort fee in with their "$68.62 a night Taxes and Fees." Which means that their "Best Price Guarantee" is bullshit at $682.86 when Orbitz would total $679.35 (even though $120 of that would be paid directly to Sheraton at check-out).
I can't check all the hotel booking sites, obviously, but it really doesn't matter. If the guy booked through Sheraton, Orbitz, or Expedia... he knew the total rate. If he booked at some other site that didn't warn him about the resort fee, he should be yelling at them... NOT THE POOR GIRL AT THE RECEPTION DESK!
In any event, it's word to the wise to always always always check the fine print whenever you book a hotel, car, cruise, or whatever. Shady stuff like this is getting more and more common as companies use hidden fees to avoid paying taxes... or to make their rates look better.
• Return! When you land at Nassau's airport (which isn't anywhere near Nassau, curiously enough... it's on the other side of the island), there are at least a half-dozen signs telling you that when you return to the airport, YOU NEED TO ARRIVE THREE HOURS EARLY IF YOU ARE TRAVELING TO THE UNITED STATES. There's even a sign posted on the baggage carousel where you wait for your luggage that's staring at you in big letters.
When it was time for me to fly back to the good ol' USA, I followed instructions and arrived THREE HOURS EARLY. I was kind of glad too, because the line at customs was quite short, but still took me 35 minutes to clear. Had the line been all the way to the door, it could have easily taken me two hours to get through it.
So there we are sitting on the plane when an announcement is made. There's 15 people still stuck in customs, so they're holding the plane.
Why in the fuck did I bother showing up three hours early then? If I would have know that I could have just ignored the signs and showed up whenever the hell I wanted to, I would have slept in an extra hour!
Then, after a half hour, they announced there were still eight people in line for customs, and it was moving slow because there was only one counter open... so we were just going to continue to wait for them.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?
Everybody who arrived at the airport THREE HOURS EARLY... AS INSTRUCTED... was already on the plane. Why in the hell are we still waiting on people who couldn't be bothered to get to the airport on time? How is this our fault? I don't give a shit if customs decided to close ALL the fucking counters... people who showed up on time made it through... BECAUSE THEY SHOWED UP ON TIME!!! Stop blaming customs for the problem... they weren't the ones who made the people show up late to the airport. AND STOP PUNISHING THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED INSTRUCTIONS AND MADE IT TO CHECK-IN THREE HOURS EARLY LIKE THEY WERE TOLD TO!
I am sick and fucking tired of companies pandering to the lowest common denominator. All it does is remove consequences for idiots who can't be bothered to follow the rules like everybody else. Well, guess what? If you keep removing consequences for being stupid... people are going to continue to do stupid shit. Do you think any of the people that showed up late to the airport will bother to be on time next time? Of course not! And why should they? You're just going to hold the plane for them!
Is it any wonder that this country is going down the crapper and American companies are going bankrupt? Keep rewarding stupid often enough, that's all you're going to have left.
And, on that tragic note, I've got a couple hours work that needs doing before I can turn in for the night, so I must bid you adieu...
Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
And so Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson has gone and messed up their airport.
Back in May, they opened up their new "Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal" which handles all foreign flights. In theory, it's great, because it means you no longer have to claim your bag, then re-check your bag, then re-claim your bag again if Atlanta is your final destination on an inbound flight. Instead you just grab your bag and waltz directly out of the building to your car and... voilà!... you're on your way.
Assuming you drove your own car to the International Terminal and paid their hideously expensive parking rates.
If you didn't, Atlanta International Airport has just screwed you and you don't even know it.
But you will.
Since I (obviously) didn't drive to the International Terminal (my car is back in Seattle), I had to get back to the main terminal so I could catch a hotel shuttle. But there is no train to take you back. Instead you have to wait 5 minutes for a bus... wait another 20 minutes for the bus to fill up... wait another 15 minutes to drive all the way back to the Main Terminal... then wait for your luggage to be unloaded... then wait for traffic... then walk to the hotel shuttle area where you needed to be all along SO YOU CAN WAIT EVEN MORE for your shuttle.
Which, needless to say, IS A HUGE FUCKING WASTE OF TIME!
So now I absolutely HATE flying into Atlanta on an International flight, and will avoid it at all costs. Or at least UNTIL THEY BUILD A TRAIN LOOP TO TAKE YOU BACK TO THE MAIN TERMINAL LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE! I mean, they can build a damn train FOR MILES out to the car rental center, but extending the EXISTING terminal train A MEASLY 500 FEET and adding a secure car to take exiting passengers back to the Main Terminal was too difficult? Apparently so. Or maybe they were too damn stupid to think of it.
But Seattle... frickin' SEATTLE... has figured out how to do this. It's EMBARRASSING that Atlanta... ONE OF THE BUSIEST AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD... has their head up their asses by thinking this absurd "bussing" idiocy is anything other than COMPLETE AND TOTAL BULLSHIT.
It's like the stupid-ass city I live in. The one thing we need where I work? More parking spaces. The one thing they made sure to eliminate when they re-designed the street? THAT'S RIGHT... THEY GOT RID OF PARKING SPACES!
Everywhere you look... from city planners to airport designers... the people in charge don't seem to know what in the hell they're doing. Nor do they give a crap. And why should they? They can just start screaming some bullshit about "saving money" or "having to make hard choices" (or whatever) to justify their short-sightedness. No more taking the time and money to do things right... it's all about making sure there's enough money in the project to pay their huge salaries, and everything else is negotiable. And the consequences? Well, for Atlanta-bound international travelers who just want to take the damn train into the city? FUCK 'EM! JUST FUCK'EM!! They can waste their time riding a stupid-ass BUS for a half hour to get to the MARTA train station! Who gives a shit about THEM?!?
And welcome to Atlanta!
Ever since getting my new MacBook, I've been increasingly fascinated with the pixel density of its beautiful "Retina Display." Everything looks so frickin' amazing on it that I have a really hard time looking at non-Retina-enhanced visuals now... especially when browsing the web. Most websites are built to deliver 72dpi graphics, which end up look pretty bad. And so I've been experimenting with photos here on my blog, trying to figure out how to delivery hi-res images without breaking things for readers who don't have Retina-type displays.
The easiest way is to just double-size all your images. I tried this in my last entry with the picture of the jitney door. It's actual size is 800x1200 pixels, but I define it as 400x600 in the HTML. So now Retina displays get a sharp image to look at, and non-Retina displays just toss out every-other pixel...
Detail of Non-Retina low-res on the Left... Retina double-res on the Right
The problem is this... visitors who don't have Retina displays are downloading much larger images with no benefit at all. Since their browser is just tossing 3/4 of the data, this seems wasteful of their time and bandwidth. And, unlike Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, I give a crap about the people who spend their time visiting me.
And so now I just have to figure out the best way to approach this. All the easy solutions have serious drawbacks in one way or another, so it'll probably take some time and research to get it sorted. But hopefully, if you're visiting with an iPhone 4, New iPad, MacBook Retina, HTC One X, HTC Rezound, etc. - it will be worth the effort.
Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
The weather started out hot with blue skies today. I know this because I saw it with my own two eyes when I went out to lunch.
Around 5:00 it started raining. Hard.
This killed what little ambition I had to go out for dinner, so I decided to just keep working in my room. Since I had a packet of Chips Ahoy! cookies, I knew I wouldn't starve. "On the positive side, maybe the rain will make the cicadas shut up and I can fall asleep easier tonight," I thought to myself.
But then the rain stopped around 8:30 and the cicadas came out louder than ever. Boy am I glad that these noisemakers haven't made it up to Washington State yet.
So now I'm going to try and fall asleep knowing that Walking Dead zombies AND thousands of creepy bugs are screeching to get inside and eat my face off.
Because I'm just that delicious.
Bleh. Now I'm hungry. I guess a packet of cookies can only do so much.
What I need right now is an off switch.
Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Whenever anybody outside of Washington State asks where I'm from, I just say "Seattle" because that's pretty much the only place in Washington that anybody has ever heard of. Seattle, of course has a reputation for rain (which is true... but not quite to the extreme as people might believe).
Anyway, it's been pouring down rain here in Georgia, which has people who know I'm from "Seattle" saying "thanks for bringing the rain with you!" But not sarcastically, as usual! Apparently, there's been quite a dry spell, and farmers are glad to be getting some moisture this summer.
Though, if the forecast is any indication, they'll be happy I'm leaving this weekend...
In the meanwhile, it is crazy wet outside, so I'm doing my best to stay indoors.
Which is good because I need to be working, except... Adobe has a big problem with their software running on the new MacBooks and MacBook Airs. For example, Adobe InDesign (the program I use to do page layout for things like THRICE Fiction Magazine) crashes a horrible death almost constantly. I've scoured for tips on how to make it happen less often, but it's still an impossible situation. So now I am in the horrible position of having to wait until I get home before I can finish a number of projects that are due... including the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine.
This sucks so hard.
Almost as hard as the length of my work day. Right now I am so exhausted that the only thing that keeps me going is 5-Hour Energy shots and cookies. But the cumulative effect of downing three 5-Hour Energy shots to stay awake the past 15 hours is starting to make my brain haze over. The fact that I've got another four hours left to go doesn't bode well for my sanity.
Now, if you'll excuse me, a sea urchin just waddled up to my desk and asked me if I want to go see a movie with him and his friend the kangaroo (who, oddly enough, is named "Mr. Camel"). Since I could use a break, I think I'm going to accompany them... though I hope it's not another art-house cinema festival, because last time I never did manage to get the smell of popcorn out of my ferret.
Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2012
Problems arise when I travel all the time. But I'm not accustomed to having problems when dealing with those problems. I have a stack of loyalty cards... frequent guest cards... preferred guest cards... etc... which make dealing with problems not so problematic. When something comes up, the airline/hotel/rental-car/whatever takes a look at my credentials and makes it go away. It's one of the perks of being a frequent traveler, because your repeat business is something these companies value. They do whatever they can to keep you coming back.
But every once in a while...
This morning after a 45-minute nap, the only sleep I'd had in 23 hours, I had to get back to the airport to turn in my rental car by 10am. My plan was to then go directly to the hotel and get an early check-in so I could catch up on some sleep.
But the hotel was having none of it. No matter how great a customer I was.
They were overbooked with a convention and, unlike previous times I wanted a room early, there was nothing they could rush to clean so I could get some sleep. In fact, they had no idea when I might get a room... even at their usual 3:00 check-in time.
Well this was something new.
After wandering around the lobby in a daze for ten minutes, I eventually decided to drop off my suitcase, drink my fifth
The movie I decided to see? TED! The story of a teddy bear that comes to life and the life-long friendship he has with the kid he grows up with.
It wasn't as funny as I expected.
It wasn't as raunchy as I had been led to believe.
But it hits far more often than it misses, and I really enjoyed the film. Yes, it's reminiscent of director/star Seth McFarlane's other work (namely, Family Guy) but it has a surprising amount of heart, some genuine laughs, the creepiest dance scene ever recorded, some great 80's-related homages, and (most importantly) a lead character that's about as real and believable as he could possibly be (despite being a teddy bear). Definitely some R-rated stuff, but worth your valuable time to check out.
Lunch was at Johnny Rockets, because I just can't help myself.
Then I took a train back to the airport at 2:30... finally got my room at 3:15... then got dressed and took another train back into the city so I could have a last-minute dinner with some - bloggers - of - great - importance, which is my favorite thing to do in Atlanta.
Despite having 45-minutes sleep in 38 hours, I was never really tired. I guess that's the power of keeping active with fun stuff to do... and loading-up on energy drinks.
I'm going to keep this in mind as I try to busy myself before my 7:30pm flight home tomorrow...
Posted on Saturday, July 14th, 2012
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a woman at the airport trying to "secretly" take my picture with her mobile phone. "Well that's odd, I thought to myself," as I started waving at her frantically. Then I raised up my iPhone to take her picture, which caused her to disappear like a fart in the wind.
I tried to think back to what I was doing that was so fascinating that it merited a photo. Was I scratching my balls or something? I couldn't recall. Possibly? Probably. Hell, there really is no privacy now-a-days.
You can even spy on me in mid-air if you want.
Or I can spy on myself.
According to FlightView, I'm flying over Nebraska at 34,000 feet right now...
And while I am not currently scratching my balls, I've been thinking about it ever since I wrote about wondering about scratching my balls two minutes ago.
Guess now I'll have something to do at baggage claim while I'm waiting for my suitcase to arrive.
Get your cameras ready...
Posted on Sunday, July 15th, 2012
Take time to be kind... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Rude! About an hour after I posted from 34,000 feet above Nebraska yesterday, the flight turned to crap because of the asshole sitting across the aisle from me. He was argumentative, belligerent, hostile, and otherwise douchey towards the flight attendants... and it was just awful to have to sit there and watch him treat the hard-working cabin crew so badly. It took every ounce of my will power to keep from punching him in his stupid face and telling him to shut the fuck up, but I had no choice. Had I even just told him to calm down and stop being a jerk, the consequences for me could have ended up being tragically bad if he got violent. Because then I would have punched him in the face. I may be a wimpy guy, but there is no question I could have beat the ever-loving' shit out of him. The turd was in really bad shape and I'm guessing he would have had a heart attack in short order had he squared off with me. So my hat's off to the flight attendant who managed to keep the situation under control. That is absolutely something I could not have done. I know I've said it before, but I am seeing this kind of self-entitled assholery more and more in the First Class cabin and, if it weren't for the extra leg-room and space to work, I'd be longing for the days I never got upgraded and always flew coach.
• Family! After dinner on Friday night, we were all passing by a van that had a very unique take on the whole "stick figure family" fad on the back window...
Sick! And so very, very disturbing and wrong. And yet... funneh. I cannot figure out how I feel about this from one minute to the next.
• CAAAAAAAHHHN! Every year I read all the reports coming out of Comic-Con, I am dying to attend. And yet, the two times I did attend, the crowds and lack of planning had me swearing never to return. If only they would videotape all the events... I would gladly pay to watch them online. What I don't understand is why they're passing on this obviously lucrative revenue stream. I doubt it would affect attendance in any measurable way... especially if it were offered up on pay-per-view after Comic-Con was over. Talk about your win-win scenarios... what am I missing?
And... I've got a very early drive home in the morning, so I guess three bullets it is then tonight.
Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2012
I was very sad indeed to learn that beloved children's author Donald J. Sobol has died. When I was a kid, I was positively obsessed with his Encyclopedia Brown books... so much so that I would re-read them over and over again, even though I already knew how the stories would end. I pretty much had to, because there were less than a dozen of them at the time. I also remember reading Sobol's Two-Minute Mysteries, but I think there were only two of those books.
Even after outgrowing Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, I would still revisit the books on occasion... like when I saw them in the library or something. I think the last one I read was just two years ago. Because they're just that entertaining...
And orange. So very, very orange.
The drive back home this morning was relatively uneventful.
If you discount all the screaming I did when people were driving in the passing lane... WHILE DRIVING TEN MILES UNDER THE SPEED LIMIT WITHOUT PASSING ANYBODY! Could not possibly explain in mere words how badly that pisses me off.
What I need now is a chocolate chip cookie...
Posted on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
It is really thundering out there. Here's hoping the walls stay standing.
And so the final rushes for THRICE Fiction No. 5 have been sent off to the Editor in Chief. Once RW has had a chance to approve everything, I'll start running out all the various files needed to unleash our fifth issue on the world.
This has been a rougher ride to completion than usual thanks to a bug with Adobe InDesign on my new MacBook. I ended up losing a full week of work-time while I was in Nassau and Atlanta, so... instead of being able to get ahead while I was traveling, I ended up getting way behind.
It's always something.
And right now... it's lightning and rain to go along with the thunder...
Gotta love a summer storm.
Posted on Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
I love LEGO. I love comic books. I love video games. And I really, really love Batman. So when you find something that combines all these wonderful things into a single product, you'd pretty much assume that it was the most awesome thing every made. You'd almost be correct.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, LEGO Batman: The Videogame. Unsurprisingly, the company behind the magic, Traveler's Tales, has attempted to make it a bigger, badder, better sequel in every way. They mostly succeed because of two things... 1) The game is huge, and has the entirety of Gotham City available as an open-world zone, and 2) Batman & Robin are joined by a bunch of other heroes from throughout the DC Universe. The end-result is far from perfect, but so much fun that it's easy to overlook the flaws...
And speaking of flaws, I might as well get the bad news out of the way...
First of all, there isn't much new here. If you've played the LEGO Star Wars games, LEGO Indiana Jones games, LEGO Harry Potter games, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean games, or the previous LEGO Batman... you've played this. But you already knew that would be the case.
Secondly, the "driving" levels are still just as pointless, shitty, and impossible to control as ever. Why Traveler's Tales ignores the criticism from, well, everybody, when it comes to the sloppy controls, redundant gameplay, and overall frustration on every LEGO driving game they've made is a complete mystery to me.
Third, the new "open-world" that allows you to explore a sprawling Gotham City is a fantastic addition to the game (especially when you are flying above it all as Superman!)... but navigating it is a hellish ordeal because there's no HUD or mini-map or decent navigation tool to help you get around. I have no clue whatsoever as to why Traveler's Tales ignored this basic video game staple, but it's an oversight that seriously undermines the fun to be had.
Putting all that aside, there's some new stuff that's kind of cool...
In addition to the "open-world" that I can't shut up about, Batman and Robin each get a new specialty suits, which is always cool, but the addition of characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, and others, mix up the game even more. That's beyond cool.
As expected, the stories are funny, the visuals are fantastic, the levels are nicely designed, and the puzzles are really well done. What was unexpected was the characters talk! No longer reduced to pantomime for communication, the LEGO mini-figs have entirely new appeal now that they can actually talk. Bonus? The voice talent they got was perfect.
But the biggest improvement? I didn't find myself falling off things nearly as often as I did in previous LEGO video games. I still have nightmares of dying again and again and again as I tried to jump from platform to stupid platform with the insane precision required in LEGO Star Wars, so this is a welcome relief.
Everything else is pretty much more of the same as all the other LEGO games. Team-play is still available so you and a friend can battle together. You still have to button-mash your way through redundant combat as you solve puzzles. You still have to collect LEGO studs, red bricks, gold bricks, and other stuff so you can unlock characters and features. You still can't really die. And once you finish all the levels, you still have untold hours of gameplay left as you obsess over collecting every last prize and achievement to be found by replaying levels as different characters.
Needless to say, I love it.
Next up? LEGO Lord of the Rings... I can't possibly imagine how awesome that game will be.
Posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2012
Unusually humid and 90° Fahrenheit with more thunderstorms on the way?
Not my favorite weather.
And so another episode of THRICE Fiction has been put to bed. This issue has some amazing stuff in it, arrives wrapped in a beautiful cover by Kyra Wilson, and it's absolutely FREE to download, so what are you waiting for? Head on over to our official site and grab a copy!
As I was on a conference call this morning, I took the time to write up some "Art Director Notes" which discusses my thinking behind all the visuals that are in this issue. If you're interested in that kind of thing, I've put it all in an extended entry. Needless to say, SPOILERS abound, so you might want to go read the issue before you click through...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2012
Much to my shock, The Local Strangers... a band I actually like, took the time to stop by my little corner of Redneckistan to play a show. Things like this doesn't happen here very often. Which is not to say that we don't have any good local bands or that no musicians ever come to Wenatchee, far from it, it's just that the stuff I like rarely stops by. I mean, I don't see Matt & Kim or Depeche Mode adding us to their tour plans or anything.
I first heard of The Local Strangers last year when I was working in Seattle. I was hanging out with some friends who decided they wanted to go out. I didn't, but they said there was a really good local band playing, so I had to ask "who are they?" One of my friends Googled the band and said it was Aubrey Zoli... and Matt Hart, who was from Chicago. This rang a bell, but I couldn't put my finger on it. And then something clicked... "Wait... Matt Hart from Chicago... as in Matt Hart from Cobalt and the Hired Guns, Matt Hart? Well this I gotta see."
Cobalt and the Hired Guns is a local Chicago band that a colleague introduced me to when I was working there a while back. He was a big fan, and I ended up catching their show twice. Cobalt is a great band that makes some really fun music (they have a new album out that's worth a listen!), and I became a fan as well.
Turns out it was indeed that Matt Hart, who was now in Seattle making incredible music with the beautiful voice of Aubrey Zoli as The Local Strangers. Who I got to see again tonight...
A really great show from an incredible live band.
Not so long ago, Ms. Sizzle made me aware of a Kickstarter campaign to fund The Local Strangers' first full-length album. I immediately signed on for a Lifetime Membership, and was thrilled when the campaign was successful. Then last night Aubrey and Matt announced a release date of November 9th for the album and I can't wait.
If you want to listen to what the band is all about for FREE, just go to their website and sign up for their email list so they can let you know when they're playing in your area... you'll then get a link to download their two EPs which is a terrific sampling of their music.
Needless to say, if they're performing near you, it's a show well worth checking out.
Posted on Saturday, July 21st, 2012
I don't want to see a world that's so bleak and devoid of color right now.
Fortunately, there are other places to look...
...or so I would imagine.
Posted on Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
Put down that beverage... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Or maybe not. Maybe you should pick up that beverage again and order another. That's what I'm going to do. Right after I edit out all the nastiest bits of this nasty Bullet Sunday in an effort to make it be not-so-nasty. I've had enough nasty for the week.
• Rewarding Failure. Despite being a total Mac Whore, I don't hate Microsoft.
• Unfathomable Stupidity. I've never hid my disgust and loathing of Rush Limbaugh as everything that's wrong with this country. He incites hatred by telling lies to a huge audience who never questions the bullshit he's peddling. This week he hit an all-time low by calling a near-twienty-year-old Batman villain, Bane, a conspiracy by the filmmakers behind The Dark Night Rises to undermine Mitt Romney's presidential bid by reminding people he worked for Bain Capital.
• Darkest Night. The horrible tragedy in Aurora, Colorado is a horrific reminder of the world we live in.
• Chik Chuck. When a successful company proudly announces that they support organizations which fight for inequality, bigotry, and hatred... you kind of have to wonder why they're a successful company.
• Political Animals. Sigourney Weaver is one of my favorite actresses because she's appeared in so many of my favorite movies... Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest, Alien, Aliens, Dave, Paul, The Cabin in the Woods, and WALL-E to name a few. So when I heard she was going to be appearing on television(!) in a new show called Political Animals, nothing could keep me from tuning in. And I wasn't disappointed. Such a deliciously good show with a really good cast.
• Two Birds. My favorite email client is called "Sparrow." It is beautifully simple yet very powerful, which is everything you want when it comes to your software. Unfortunately, Sparrow was bought out by Google, who promptly stopped development on the Mac and iPhone apps. While I can't blame the developers for taking the Big Google Payday, I'm still a little bitter about it. Just like Gowalla before them, it seems as though surprisingly little consideration was given to all the customers who got them where they are.
• Michele Bachmann. Surprise surprise. This weeks' installment of bat-shit crazy comes courtesy of the Queen of Bat-Shit Crazy.
Annnnnd... I want a fresh start in a fresh week now.
Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2012
There's a moment at the end of every episode of the Perry Mason television show where defense attorney Perry has the real killer on the witness stand and starts hammering away with the Horrible Truth of what actually happened. With unrelenting escalation, he details the murderer's dirty deeds step by step and concludes with angry words that lash out at their lies like a bullwhip... "Isn't it true? Isn't it all true?"
Then the murderer breaks down as Perry thunders "I have no more questions! The defense rests!"
I am so sick and frickin' tired of the non-stop LYING that I am being bombarded with in all these damn political attack ads that I'm about ready to vomit.
I honestly feel that every time that a candidate LIES in one of their ads, they should have to defend their bullshit to a Perry-Mason-type-honesty-advocate so he can can get to the truth. Then, after they are exposed as being filthy LIARS, the polticians have to issue a new ad with a full retraction that airs on every channel the lie was told on, and double the number of times that the original LIE had aired.
Maybe with a punishment that severe, all these filthy, disgusting, scumbag, asshole LYING politicians would think twice about running ads they know to be false.
Then we should then move on to doing the same thing for LIES told in interviews and at campaign stops. Every damn time a politician goes somewhere and tells a LIE, they have to go back to that place, apologize, then admit to everybody that they are nothing but a piece of shit LIAR.
Of course, if Perry Mason was chasing down these LYING LIARS, we'd be hip-deep in apology ads well into October.
But, alas, there don't seem to be any consequences for being a douchebag LIAR politician, so I guess that's what we're stuck with from here on out. Oh happy day.
UPDATE! And here, two days later, is exactly what I was talking about...
Genius. And right on the money.
Posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
I worked from the moment I got up at 7:00am to this very minute where I've climbed into bed at midnight. I am so hopelessly behind that I should be working still, but there's a limit as to how long you can stare at a computer screen without going crazy. Though I did take off a half-hour for dinner and an hour to go Gold Brick hunting in LEGO Batman 2... so there's that. I probably shouldn't have wasted time with a video game, but flying around Gotham City as little LEGO Superman is too amazing to pass up...
And every time you take off for the sky, that brilliant John Williams theme song from Superman: The Movie starts playing, which is awesome in twenty different directions.
Here's hoping LEGO Batman 3 is not far off, because it will be very interesting to see how they plan on topping this game.
And now I should probably at least try and get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be another insane day.
Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
My first three installs of Apple's latest OS X update, code-named Mountain Lion, went off without a hitch.
But the fourth time was not a charm, and so now my iMac is randomly crashing then rebooting every half-hour or so. Needless to say, I'm thrilled. Turning off everything I've got installed (even if it works fine on my other Mountain Lion Macs) didn't help. A clean install didn't help either. So now I'm wondering if it's a firmware update I missed, but nothing is showing up for that either. Blargh. I really don't have time for this crap...
I guess I need to sacrifice a goat to Steve Jobs or something. This really blows.
Posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2012
And so Apple's latest release of Mac OS X "Mountain Lion" has turned out to be a festering pile of shit. Which I admit is a pretty unfair comparison, because at least I could fertilize the flower bed with the festering pile of shit and get something beautiful out of it. With "Mountain Lion" it's just misery on top of misery, making this the first OS upgrade in the history of Apple Computer that I deeply regret having installed. Despite Apple's claim of over "200 more features"... the number of features I'd actually use are incredibly small, making this a pretty much featureless upgrade for me anyway. The fact that it has hopelessly fucked two of the four computers I've installed it on is just icing on the shit cake.
As I mentioned yesterday, my new iMac is randomly crashing and rebooting for no reason I can figure... even with a total re-install. This makes getting work done incredibly stressful, and I find myself saving documents every two minutes just in case. To add insult to injury, waking iMac from sleep is horrible because the whole computer is lethargic and non-responsive. It's faster to shut down completely and start cold than even attempt putting the thing asleep. This is opposite of Mountain Lion on my MacBook, which wakes faster than ever. My older Mac is only half-working, sometimes acting a little schizo when it's asked to do something. On top of that, USB dongles, USB ethernet adapters, Samba networking, and a half-dozen other things I rely on are either not working at all... or only partly working... which is a huge bummer.
But, on Macs that ARE working properly, how has Apple done? Well, let's walk through Apple's big "feature list" shall we?
Apple's big catch phrase has been "It just works" and, for the most part, this is very true. Especially compared to Windows which mostly doesn't work and causes me overwhelming dread every time I have to walk over to use it. "I wonder what's going to go wrong this time?" I always say. But Apple has finally caught up to Microsoft because iCloud most definitely does not "just work." For one thing, it is actually lacking features of the iSync service it replaced! Want to sync your Keychain between all your Macs? Tough shit! You can't! And that's just the tip of the embarrassment iceberg for Apple, because the list of shit you can't sync with iCloud positively dwarfs what you can actually do with it. I have more apps syncing their stuff through DropBox because iCloud doesn't/can't/won't work for them. Even worse? It doesn't work for Apple either. You're supposed to be able to sync Notes and Reminders across all your Apple devices. Despite playing around for hours trying to make this happen, it doesn't work At least not completely. Some notes are just... gone... and even deleting them and recreating them does nothing to bring them into the iCloud so they can sync. Which is only half the problem, because one of my four Macs won't sync notes at all for reasons completely unknown. I have "Notes" checked to sync in iCloud, so what in the hell else is there for me to do?
This is amateur hour stuff, and if a Certified Apple Whore like me can't figure it out, what hope do everyday users have?
This is that on "killer feature" that was supposed to make Mountain Lion worth my trouble. But it has been the single most frustrating problem that I have yet to solve. Now, to be fair, a big part of what's going to make iMessage so compelling won't happen until Apple released iOS 6 this Fall... namely, tying your phone number to your iMessage account so you can actually get your iMessages on your Mac. Because right now, iMessages sent to your phone only go to your phone. In order to get your messages anywhere, you have to ask people to iMessage your Apple ID, which is pretty useless. If iMessage is going to take the place of texting, this is a critical piece of the puzzle. BUT ANYWAY... I was still looking forward to at least initiating iMessage conversations on my Mac. That way, when somebody replies, they're replying to your Apple ID and everything works as you want. Except... IT DOESN'T WORK AT ALL. Messages is just an epic pile of FAIL! that I fucking hate with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Because in order to get people to REPLY to your Apple ID, you have to actually be able to USE your Apple ID email. And, for reasons that make ZERO sense, it won't work on all my Macs.
Right now I am sitting here at my new iMac with my new MacBook Pro Retina next to it. They are running the same Mountain Lion OS. They are on the exact same network. They are plugged into the exact same router. They are set up the exact same. They are, in essence, the same damn computer. And yet... the MacBook will accept my Apple ID email address. My iMac won't accept it. No fucking clue why. But here it is...
Now, seriously, what the bloody fuck? I can sign into my iCloud account with my Apple ID email address on this machine with no problem... but when it comes to verifying the same damn address for use with Messages, you can't do it?!? WHY?!?? IT'S MY FUCKING APPLE ID, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!! And of course the address works fine on three other Macs, two iPhones, and an iPad, so I don't even know what to say here. Except that since I cannot set my "Caller ID" to be my Apple ID, Messages isn't going to work worth a shit for me and I might as well just use my iPhone for messaging.
Now, this is one of those little "extras" that's just mind-bogglingly cool. Basically, even after you put it to sleep, your Mac will still be working for you... checking email, syncing contacts and documents, even downloading software updates if you're plugged into a power source. So very smart. Or so I would imagine. My brand new iMac doesn't support it. My brand new MacBook Pro Retina does... but not yet, because the Firmware Update isn't available...
Something to look forward to, I guess.
UPDATE: That was quick. The MacBook Pro Retina firmware update was released on July 28th, so now I have the option of enabling Power Nap on my laptop.
Siri, Apple's "voice activated assistant" is a mixed bag that people either love or hate. Personally, I love Siri on my iPhone. It is an amazing tool that allows me to accomplish a heck of a lot with very little effort. Being able to say something like "Remind me to call Ronald McDonald in an hour"... and then have Siri ACTUALLY DO IT is a kind of magic that fulfills the promise of technology. And Apple keeps making Siri better and more accurate, so I have little doubt that within five years it will be a primary way that people interact with their Apple products. But right now it's still a bit rocky. And while iPhone gets the full "Siri Experience," Apple is moving their Macs into that realm with baby steps. Namely, "Dictation" which will take what you say and type it into words. The good news? For me at least, it's shockingly accurate. The bad news? It only works for snippets of text and you have to have a live internet connection... so no dictating your 500 page novel while on the beach. The worse news? "Dictation" is completely brain dead compared to "Siri" when it comes to actually typing out shit.
Here's a line of text dictated to Siri on my iPhone...
I am dictating a love letter to Taco Bell right now.
Here's that same line dictated to Dictation on my Mac...
I am dictating a love letter to cap taco cap bell right now.
I guess when working on a Mac, Apple thinks you'll never need to capitalize a word? Oh well... at least Dictation does seem to understand "period" and "question mark" so at least you can kinda type sentences.
Now, at first blush, this would seem an awesome idea. Any app can add a "share" button to automatically send some content to a specific app for further handling. For example, click the "Share" button in Apple's "Safari" web browser, and you're given options to add the page to your Reading List or Bookmarks... or email it... or send it as an iMessage... or even Tweet about it...
But there are some problems. First of all, you're only sharing a link to the page... which is fine for Twitter and such... but what if I want to email the actual page?? Well, you can't share that. There's no option to output a PDF or screen cap of the website and send it that way. You're restricted as to what Apple wants you to do instead of what you want to do. But it gets worse... you can only "share" with apps that Apple allows. If I wanted to "share" a link to that website with my blogging app, for example, I can't do that with the "share" button in any way. There's no global registry for apps to tell Mountain Lion what data they can handle, so Mountain Lion doesn't share unless Apple says it can. This is just a hopelessly flawed approach that I'm hoping Apple will fix very soon.
UPDATE: Oddly enough, other apps, like "Reeder" (my web feed reader) DO allow sharing with other apps... including my blogging app. I am guessing that this is something specifically coded into Reeder, so having some kind of global registry that works universally is still important.
No longer having to open a web browser every time you want to update your Facebook status? Great! But... oh... no... wait a second... Mountain Lion can't do that. The feature is listed as "Coming this Fall." Well how stupid. Why advertise it as a feature NOW if it's MONTHS away? You could say that about anything! "Mountain Lion will wipe your ass after you shit... coming August, 2027!" One thing I love about Apple is that they don't deal in vaporware. Most everything they announce is available that day... or very shortly after. This is a return to bad form and should have never been announced as a Mountain Lion feature. Just add it later when its ready and let people be thrilled to get a new tool. Anything less than that is not Apple.
Gatekeeper is an idea that's long overdue... helping users to be able to trust that a program they download isn't going to ruin their computer or damage their data in some way. And while a lot of times I think Apple goes too far in locking things down, when it comes to "Gatekeeper" I honestly don't think they went far enough. First of all, it's really just a warning device. It doesn't actually do anything to stop malicious code from running on your machine. Second of all, once Gatekeeper lets an app through, it just sits there like a dumb shit waiting for some new app to come along. Even if Apple finds out that an app contains a raging virus that will delete everything on your computer, Gatekeeper will only warn you if you try to re-install it... it won't in any way warn you that you've got a problem already installed. This is insanity. At the very least Gatekeeper should monitor the apps on your Mac and be able to alert you if one of them has been found to contain a problem! Oh well. At least the technology has been given a name that reflects its shortcomings. As for me, I'm waiting for fucking DungeonMaster to come along and watch more than just the gate.
Web browser competition is some serious shit. Every company wants to control your portal to the internets, and Apple is no different. Safari was developed specifically to counter the dominance of Microsoft's crappy Internet Explorer browser and, on Macs and iPhones at least, it has been working. But there's always a better browser being built, so you can't really rest on your laurels or savvy internet users will leave you behind. Apple knows this, so they've always been improving Safari so people won't move on to Google Chrome or whatever the flavor of the day is. With Mountain Lion, Apple takes a couple steps it should have taken a long time ago... #1 would be offline browsing. Nothing pisses me off faster than loading a web page to read, getting interrupted for boarding a plane with no WiFi, then opening my laptop to find that Safari has stupidly erased the page and is trying to reload it. Whomever made that fucking stupid decision should be punched in the face. #2 would be a unified address bar/search box. Having them be two separate fields for so long is an affront to the simplicity that Apple is supposed to be all about. So, bravo Apple for fixing two problems you really needed to fix.
But all is not wine and roses for Safari. Unfortunately, it remains one of the stupidest fucking browsers on the planet. And I don't mean "stupid" in that the whole app is bad... I mean "stupid" in that the whole app is ragingly unintelligent. A big example of this is something called "data detectors" and it used to be something Apple was really good at. Now? Not so much.
Let's take addresses, for example. If you get an email with an address in it, Mail will kindly detect this and allow you to add it to your Contacts (address book). Safari, on the other hand, doesn't know what the fuck it is, and just throws a kitchen sink's worth of crap at you when you right-click on it...
Now, you may look at this and say "Hey! You're WRONG! Apple has an option to look up that address in Google Maps, so it DOES know it's an address after all!" — And you would be right. Except not really. Because if Safari actually did recognize it as an address, I'd be able to add it to my Contacts (address book), which it doesn't. Nope... I have to copy and paste it. Except not really. Because Contacts is just as fucking brain-dead as Safari is... AND IT'S SOLE FUNCTION IS TO HANDLE ADDRESSES! Try pasting that as an address into Contacts and it fails miserably. Instead, you have to copy the street, paste the street... copy the city, paste the city... copy the zip, paste the zip... copy the phone number, paste the phone number... which is just a huge waste of time when Safari should be able to handle all this automatically like Mail does. And that's just one example of many I could give. Apple needs to do more than just fix problems they should have fixed a long time ago... they need to make Safari much, much smarter. Otherwise, they're just going to be left behind.
As for the other features on the list? Well, Twitter integration is pretty basic (you can post and receive mention notifications only), but works as advertised. AirPlay works great with AppleTV... just like it does from iPad/iPhone... but I'll rarely use that. GameCenter and new "China Features" I won't be using at all (I have a Wii and Xbox for gaming and don't speak or read Chinese).
So... all in all... Mountain Lion has been a massive disappointment. Coming from an unapologetic Apple Whore such as myself, that's saying quite a lot. It would be easy to pin this on the fact that Steve Jobs is gone, but I think the problem is much bigger. Apple's main focus is no longer Macintosh. Sure the division makes them a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to the revenue generated by the whole iPhone & iPad phenomena, so that's where they concentrate their efforts. And if this sad, bad, and wholly disappointing update to their Mac OS is a sign of things to come, then Apple needs to take drastic action... perhaps as drastic as splitting the company apart... for the Mac to survive. Because Microsoft is just aching to steal the computer spotlight from Apple, and their latest Windows 8 OS offering looks like they're taking a serious shot at doing just that. This is something Apple simply cannot afford, because there's no Steve Jobs to bring them back next time.
And with that happy thought, I am actually worrying about Macintosh again for the first time in a decade.
Now that Mountain Lion has been more of a whimper than a roar and there's no more Big Cats for Apple to label their OS with... what's next? Hopefully an animal that's much bigger and badder than a Lion, but I have no idea what that might be.
Insert Honey Badger joke here.
Posted on Friday, July 27th, 2012
What a horrible day.
Never have so many disappointed so thoroughly in so little time.
Guess I'm going to tune into the Olympic Games opening ceremonies and be done with it.
To all Olympiads from all nations all over the world, best of luck in your competitions!
And to London, one of my favorite cities on earth, thank you for hosting what is most certainly going to be a wonderful event (DANNY BOYLE?!?). It could not have been easy to find the finances during such trying economic times, but Britain Will Prevail... and God Save The Queen!
Posted on Saturday, July 28th, 2012
Friday, February 12, 2010. 7:20pm.
"So... for the first time in a very long time, those of us living on the West Coast of these United States of America are in the SAME TIME ZONE as the Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. Finally, we get to watch events LIVE and see competition outcomes AS THEY HAPPEN. How cool that we won't have medal results spoiled on the internet hours... or even days... before we get to actually see them taking place! Sweet!"
— David Simmer II, getting ready to watch the last Winter Olympics
Friday, February 12, 2010. 7:35pm.
"FUCK YOU, NBC! FUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU!"
— David Simmer II, after realizing NBC time-delayed their Pacific Coast broadcast anyway
Saturday, July 28, 2012. 12:05am.
I am not a huge sports fan, but I admit to being a fan of the Olympic Games because there's just something wonderful about the way the world comes together to participate in them. And nowhere is this more evident than the Opening Ceremonies, where all the athletes are full of hope and dreaming of gold.
This year the task of planning the start of the games fell to one of my favorite directors, Danny Boyle, who is responsible for one of my favorite movies, Millions. He had the daunting task of following China's widely-praised and celebrated Opening Ceremonies, which would be enough to break most men. But Boyle decided that since nobody would expect him to top China's spectacle, he would just "do his own thing" and try to entertain people.
And entertain people he did.
The show was a wholly bizarre affair, but not in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed it. So congratulations, Mr. Boyle, on rising to the occasion with creativity and wonderment.
AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool
And congratulations to NBC for fully living up to expectations and CRAPPING ALL OVER THE OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONIES WITH YOUR HORRENDOUSLY SHITTY COVERAGE!
I'm guessing the rest of the world's news organizations paid proper respect to the ceremonies and covered the opening in a dignified and complete presentation. This was not, of course, the way that NBC decided to go. "Dignified" and "Complete" are just not words that enter into their fucking heads.
No, we Americans go to see a butchered presentation that was fucking time-delayed (again) then interrupted by constant commercial breaks and laughably bad commentary from Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and (heaven help us) Bob Costas. The commentary was so bad that I wanted to turn the sound off, but then I would have missed out on the music, which was excellent. Except I couldn't really enjoy it because Lauer, Vieira, and Costas kept TALKING OVER IT ALL! And this brings me to the big question... WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?!?? I realize that your typical American television audience is about as intelligent as a box of rocks, but do they really need to be talked through a performance? And if you simply must open your stupid fucking mouths, did you really have to shit all over the spirit of the games by pointing out embarrassing, controversial, or otherwise derogatory things about the participating countries? What assholes.
And here I thought the pre-show interview where Bob Costas Ryan Seacrest embarrassed one of the gymnasts over her love of Justin Beiber was going to be the lowlight of the evening. Not even close. First Mitt Romney humiliates the USA with his non-stop parade of stupid fucking comments... then, because we haven't insulted the Brits enough, we decimate their Opening Ceremonies with NBC's profoundly bad coverage. But why stop there? Let's insult the whole world during the Parade of Nations! USA! USA! USA!
I realize that NBC has to pay the bills with advertising and be sure to pander to the lowest common denominator of their viewers... but that in NO WAY excuses what American Olympic fans had to suffer through tonight.
Saturday, July 28, 2010. 12:20am.
"FUCK YOU, NBC! FUUUUUUUUUUCK YOU!"
— David Simmer II, realizing nothing has changed since last time
Posted on Sunday, July 29th, 2012
Time to put down that Olympic remote... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Negative. When it comes to living in the USA, I cannot help but question the society we have evolved into when there's this incessant need to tear people down. This was made very clear to me as I watched NBC's continuing shitty time-delayed coverage of the Olympic games yesterday. Ryan Lochte had just won the gold in a swimming event with a very impressive performance. But this wasn't the focus of the coverage. The focus was on how Lochte had just "delivered a beating" to reigning Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who came in fourth. Once I heard this "beating" mentioned for a third time, I had to turn the channel.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Just four years ago, Michael Phelps won 8 out of 8 gold medals in the 29th Olympic Games in China. He was America's pride and joy and the media couldn't gush with praise often enough or fast enough for "the greatest swimmer of all time." And now? The media is using those 8 medals around his neck to strangle the guy by pointing out what a disappointment he is for not getting another medal. And, putting aside how crappy it is that they are so horrible to Michael Phelps... how shitty is it that this is how Ryan Lochte's friends and family watching at home get to experience his moment of triumph?
And why? Why? Why? Why? How hard would it be to say "Congratulations to Ryan Lochte for winning the gold, and way to go Michael Phelps for a terrific effort in snagging fourth place!" Because, seriously, even putting aside his Olympic championship status... out of all the athletes from around the frickin' WORLD, Phelps came in fourth! That's still an amazing achievement. And what the hell have you done lately?
But this, apparently, is not what the American public wants to see or hear. They want Michael Phelps humbled and humiliated. Building somebody up is great, but tearing them down is better. Yes, it's surprising that Phelps didn't medal. Shocking even. So say it's surprising and shocking... don't "give a beating" to somebody who trained hard and did their best. Even if it is somebody as accomplished as Michael Phelps, who still has a bunch of Olympic medals back home.
• Clarkson. And, speaking of tearing somebody down, this happened on Twitter...
Now, as a massively huge fan of Top Gear, I should post a disclaimer which says that I am a massively huge fan of Jeremy Clarkson. He's a total bastard in the best possible way, and one of the most entertaining television personalities ever.
So when he tells Mitt Romney to "fuck off" it would be easy to write this off as Jeremy Clarkson being Jeremy Clarkson. Except... Mitt Romney made a disastrous visit to the UK where he pretty much had his head up his ass the entire time. First he tells London that he didn't think they were ready to host the Olympics and questioned whether the Brits can "come together" and celebrate the games properly... then a quote from his book No Apology was widely circulated in the UK press: "England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn't make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn't been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler's ambitions." Nice. Not only does he show he's fucking ignorant about the country ("England" is not an island. "Great Britain" is an island that includes the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales) he seems to think the way to make the United States look good is to put other countries down. What an asshole.
So yeah, tear somebody down and you deserve to get torn down in return. I guess that works.
• Hey Jude. And speaking of something that England produced that nobody wants...
In my alternative history fantasy world, the Beatles reunited for the first time in 42 years to perform at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
As happy as I was to see Sir Paul McCartney close out the Opening Ceremonies... the mega-Beatles-fan in me will always want more...
• BILL! BILL! BILL! There's a funny YouTube video making the rounds called Mr. Wizard's a Dick! that compiles a bunch of snippets from the 1983 revival of Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert's television show which shows him...uhhhh... being a dick...
I was never much a fan of Mr. Wizard, but I was a big fan of Bill Nye The Science Guy. And now there's hope that he might start making new episodes of his awesome science show straight from the horse's mouth via Reddit...
Yeah, I really should be too old for a children's science program... but I would totally watch that show.
• Rotten. Let's recap my recent experiences with Apple, shall we?
So, basically, over the past week I've had more horribly bad experiences with Apple than I have had over the past 35 years. This hurts. It physically hurts me.
And now... time to see if I can un-brick an iMac...
Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2012
Well that sucked.
A part of me is wanting to say that I need a do-over. But who in the hell wants to repeat a Monday?
So I will just go to bed and hope for a much better tomorrow.
Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
For the past two hours I've been trying to schedule the things I want to do in-between the things I have to do... and failing miserably. There aren't enough hours in the day. There aren't enough days in the month. This is a problem that only massive sums of money could ever fix (nothing opens doors and makes things possible like a wad of cash)... but, alas, I only have $23.00 to my name just now.
Ah to be obscenely wealthy! I'd love to have unlimited piles of money to throw at problems so they go away.
On an entirely unrelated subject... I was watching the Olympics on television when Mitt & Ann Romney came up because their horse, Rafalca, will be competing in "dressage" later this week. I don't know much about the sport except it looks like a hideous amount of training is involved to get the horsey to trot around in exactly a certain way like that.
But putting my lack of "dressage" knowledge aside, watching the news had me dead-curious to know how the Romneys managed to get Rafalca to London. I mean, seriously, it's not like they just walked the horse onto the plane and plopped him down in a First Class seat between them... something seriously crazy has to be involved in flying horses across the Atlantic. And what about jet lag? Do horses get jet lag?
This burning curiosity resulted in my Googling all kinds of crap about horse transport.
Apparently, horseys are put into special "stall containers," then loaded on a cargo plane which has a horse-care specialist onboard. Owners can choose from "economy" (three horses to a stall) or "business class" (two horses to a stall)... but I suppose since cost is no object to Mitt, he could insist on a private stall if Rafalca doesn't play well with others. In any event, the horses are well cared for on their journey, getting plenty of hay and water as needed. No mention was made on what they do with all the horse doo-doo and pee-pee to keep the plane from stinking, but I'd imagine it involved giant pairs of Depends made especially for horses...
Oh... and in case you're curious, horses can get jet lag... but it's often not nearly as serious a condition as humans can get.
Since I don't get jet lag much either, I guess that makes two parts of me that are horse-like now.