Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010
Who knew I'd be adding one more thing to my Anarchy List after just one day!Earlier this week, Verizon's internet email server suddenly stopped allowing me to send emails. I called "tech support" and was told my password was probably wrong. I doubted it, since the same password has been stored on my computer and working for the past five years, but I played along. Eventually it started working again, but I surmised it was probably a temporary problem with Verizon's SMTP server rather than anything on my end.
Then this morning, after sending a dozen emails just fine, Verizon stopped accepting my emails once again. First I tried using the "Automated Customer Support Agent" because the thought of calling Verizon Support made me want to slam my head in a door. He's kind of stupid-robot-plastic-looking-creepy... especially when he blinks... but I didn't want to judge "his" intelligence by appearances...
Obviously getting nowhere, I called up "tech support." I wish I would have recorded the conversation. Not just because it was incredibly stupid... but because I'm screaming like a two-year-old at the end. A much abbreviated approximation of the call went something like this...
I see that you called two days ago...
You reset your password?
Yes. I had to because your SMTP server stopped accepting my emails. They said I probably has a bad password even though it is saved on my computer and has worked for the past five years.
If we have confirmed that the password is working, then it is a Mac problem.
I sincerely doubt that, but hey... whatever. What do you want me to do?
I'm trying to tell you that it is a Mac problem.
If you can login to Verizon, then it is not a Verizon problem.
Then you are obviously insane. All logging on to the Verizon website does is verify that my password is working. It does nothing to verify that your SMTP server is working properly.
They are the same server.
A web server doesn't run SMTP services. They are two different things.
I'm telling you they are the same server.
You're telling me that a web service sending HTML pages is the exact same thing as an SMTP service relaying emails? Even though they use different protocols over different ports?
That is what I am telling you.
Then you obviously don't know what you are talking about. Can I speak to somebody that does?
They will have the same information I am giving you.
You are driving me crazy here. My account has worked fine for FIVE YEARS. I entered a new password and things worked again for a day and a half. Now you're telling me this is MY problem? Well I guess I have to cancel ANOTHER Verizon account. Thanks for nothing.
As you can see, I got better support from the "Automated Virtual Assistant."
Verizon "tech support" is apparently staffed with people who have no initiative to look past the script on their screen or investigate anything that has to do with THEM having the problem.
And here's the deal... twenty minutes later, AFTER CHANGING NOTHING, my emails were being mysteriously accepted again. So yes, this is MY fault. It is a MACINTOSH problem. It was my MACINTOSH that suddenly decided to fake an SMTP error from Verizon out of the blue. No way that Verizon's flakey SMTP server could be having problems... BECAUSE THE WEB SERVER IS WORKING. And, as you know, THE WEB SERVER AND THE SMTP SERVER ARE THE EXACT SAME THING. Which is surprising, because EVERY COMPUTER I'VE EVER SEEN has them as two separate services. Unless you consider webmail, but even then the email is undoubtedly passed off to another service to actually be sent. Yes, it is possible to run both servers on the same computer, BUT THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!
It's like saying your busted-ass toaster isn't broken because your microwave is working and they're both in the same kitchen.
Maybe I should send Verizon "tech support" a link to WikiAnswers. Or maybe EVERYBODY ELSE IS WRONG TOO! Maybe Verizon has some super-service that serves web, email, and video porn from the same app! ZOMG! THEY'RE JUST THAT SMERT!! That way when ONE fails, EVERYTHING FAILS! Genius!
Now, I realize the general population is stupid and you have to assume that they've fucked up somewhere because 99% of the time it's probably true. Or they're running Windows. But give me a break. I'm not some random idiot who doesn't know how to turn on a computer, so treating my like I'm the moron who doesn't know the difference between a website and email is only going to piss me off.
I hate Verizon. I hate them with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Nothing is ever their problem. EVER. It's always YOUR fault or your MAC'S fault. YOU'VE changed something. YOU'VE done something wrong. Which is why it's no wonder I finally cancelled Verizon DSL at home. Hey, my cable internet may slow to a craw for a few minutes at random intervals, but at least I am not having to deal with Verizon "tech support" any more.
In other news, I am totally hiring that "Verizon Automated Virtual Assistant" to write for my blog. That guy is GENIUS!
Posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
It seems that the one thing which hasn't been hurt by the economic recession is lawsuits. If anything, they've been escalating as lawyer-happy assholes try to exploit frivolous lawsuits as source of new revenue. At first I found it funny, but lately I've been increasingly outraged by the bullshit that is clogging up our courts.
Case in point: Hollywood's favorite drunken drug-addicted publicity whore, Lindsay Lohan, is suing E*Trade because she feels that people associate the name "Lindsay" with her the same way that people associate Oprah and Madonna's first names with them, and this commercial reflects badly on her...
Except I have news for Ms. Lohan: YOU ARE NOT OPRAH OR MADONNA!
This is fucking bullshit because I have never seen or heard of any show or publication ever referring to Ms. Lohan as simply "Lindsay." If anything, she should be filing lawsuits against people using "Blowhan" or "Firecrotch" or "HoHan" in a derogatory manner, because those those single-word names people do associate with her.
Currently, there are two things that Lindsay Lohan is most famous for, neither of which is her "music" or her "acting" or her "fashion."
#1 Flashing her cootchie everywhere...
#2 Partying like a drunken drug addict in-between trips to rehab...
That's it. That's what everybody knows her for. That's what she's good at. For her to imply otherwise is just the epitome of denial and self-delusion.
Whether or not E*Trade intended to mock Ms. Lohan in their commercial by using the generic name "Lindsay" is subjective.
But the fact that everybody on earth automatically links the name "Lindsay Lohan" to a drunken drug-addicted cootchie-flasher is nobody's fault but Lindsay Lohan's. By extension, people making the connection between a milkoholic baby named "Lindsay" and Lindsay Lohan is also nobody's fault but Lindsay Lohan's. You can sue people all you want, but it's not going to change the image you've worked so hard to cultivate.
So now the legal wranglings begin as our courts will decide whether Lindsay Lohan should profit ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS for being a drunken drug-addicted cootchie-flasher.
It's times like this I am so very proud to be an American. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! GOOOOO AMERICA!!
Posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
I have a blog entry I'm working on, but my "Betty White" Google News Alert* brought some most excellent news to my attention, so I'll post it tomorrow.
TV Land PRIME's new original production of Hot in Cleveland starring BETTY WHITE will start airing in June on TV Land!
Frickin' amazing as always.
First she gets a Saturday Night Live hosting gig on May 8th, then a guest-spot on the season finale of The Middle, and now she's in a new television series. Sweet!
So glad Ms. White is showing no signs of slowing down, because everything's better with Betty!
I sure wish Chelsea Lately would book Betty as a guest. Now THAT... would be an awesome interview.
UPDATE: In even more Betty news... Betty White will be a guest on Larry King Live tomorrow night on CNN (6pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern). I positively loathe Larry King. I think he's about the shittiest "professional" interviewer working in television (yes, that includes Tyra Banks)... but you can bet I'll be tuning in for this one!
* For those curious about "Google News Alerts"... any time you do a search for something at Google News you can scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up for "email alerts" for whatever you just searched for (or anything else, for that matter). Then, at intervals you determine, Google will email you a report of things that show up in their news feed. Easy! And customizable...
I have alerts for people like Betty White, Elizabeth Hurley, and Steve Jobs... and things like ACTA, Macintosh, and Chocolate Pudding. Very handy... and free!
Posted on Saturday, April 17th, 2010
Roger Ebert, one of the very few movie critics I respect, a writer I admire, and one of the most fascinating people on the planet, recently wrote a column on his blog stating Video Games Can Never Be Art. Since I've made artistic contributions to a couple of video games, I was tempted to dismiss the article outright. But it's Ebert, so I am compelled to consider his premise. Then Livvy Collette wrote a nice rebuttal that touched on why I can't agree with Ebert's conclusion: there's such a huge amount of creativity involved in crafting a good video game that they can't help but be art.
Which brings us to this immutable fact:
I love my Weighted Companion Cube from the video game Portal more than most people I meet.
Sure it's wacky, improbable, and borderline psychotic... but it's also inexplicably true.
Because not only is my Weighted Companion Cube just a "character" from a video game... it's also an inanimate object from a video game. Yet, the artists at Valve have created a fully realized environment so involving that it causes an emotional response from me towards it. And while I'll be the first to admit that this feeling is not as powerful as the one I get from looking at a painting like Starry Night or watching a film like Cinema Paradiso or reading a book like Jonathan Livingston Seagull or standing in a structure like St. Peter's Basilica... it's still the kind of reaction I get when exposed to a work of all-encompassing art.
Portal is also a lot of fun, which is just a bonus.
The thing that makes art so fascinating is that it is ever-changing and cannot be easily defined. Many of the things we know as "art" today would have been inconceivable a century ago. Or, if not inconceivable, certainly not defined as "art." I once went to a gallery installation where a room was fitted with video screens on the walls and electronic sensors in the floor. The sensors calculated the combined weight of all the people standing in the room, ran the data through a mathematical formula, then displayed beautiful graphics on the wall accordingly. If there were few people in the room, the graphics would be serene. As more people entered, the displays became more chaotic. I accepted the room as artistic expression, even though I had reservations as to the premise (the number of people is easily skewed... twenty small children register as fewer people, three NFL linebackers register as more). Everything in the room was created (albeit dynamically) to affect the senses, perhaps even provoke a reaction. Just like a video game.
Just like art.
And if technology keeps progressing, eventually virtual reality will involve people within the simulation creating art that only exists inside a computer. Thus making a video game out of life. The ultimate artistic expression.
In the end, no one person can define what is... or is not... art. That's because art is subjective and not quantifiable. Art is something you feel. Art is something you sense. Art is something you believe.
Art is in the eye of the beholder.
And lest you think that my opinion is flawed because of my admitted video game psychosis, I would be remiss not to disclose that my Weighted Companion Cube agrees with me completely.
Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
For a company that makes millions of dollars off the advertising you serve up on every page of your site, I would have thought that you would be smarter about how you do your business. I mean, sure you don't know dick about privacy concerns for your users, but I'd think you'd have a clue when it came to your bread and butter. Anything less would make you fucking stupid.
Apparently you're fucking stupid.
When you sign up for Facebook, one of the first things you have to do is tell Facebook whether you are a man or a woman, whether you're interested in men or women (sexually, I'd imagine), and why the hell you're stupid enough to sign up for Facebook in the first place. My profile looks like this...
And there you have it. I am a man who is interested in women and looking for friendship on Facebook.
I'm "looking for friendship" because you forced me to pick something, and you don't have a checkbox for "I'm not looking for a damn thing, I'm only here because I want to keep in touch with people I know are here on Facebook."
I am not looking for "dating" or a "relationship" because I have no interest in online dating. None. I am not looking for "networking" because I think that's a stupid buzzword that basically means "I'm looking for people I can exploit for personal gain" (and while this may be true, it's not something I want to announce to the entire internet).
NOW... since I have made it very clear that I am NOT interested in dating or finding a relationship through Facebook, would you mind explaining why I see these skanky whores plastered on every fucking page?
WTF? I've told you why I'm here. Or, more to the point, why I'm not here for. Do you think I'm going to change my mind? That I'm going to take a look at some tongue-thrusting piece of eye candy and suddenly decide I want to start a relationship with her? Really? I mean... maybe I'd change my mind if there were additional options as to why I'm here...
But since there's not an option for "I'm looking for a piece of skanky ass to have a one-night-stand with"... what's your excuse? I'm putting my money on "BECAUSE YOU'RE FUCKING STUPID!"
After finally getting tired of being distracted by skanky whores on Facebook, I've started to mark all those ads as OFFENSIVE because I'm OFFENDED that Facebook is so fucking stupid as to serve up personalized ads that I've specifically stated I'm not interested in...
I figure if I mark enough of these things as OFFENSIVE they will eventually get the hint and stop pestering me with them.
So what did I get today? This...
Apparently, the reason those ads for skanky whores are "offending" to me is because they're in English. Switch them over to Spanish, and everything's all good.
That's a whole new level of dumbass right there.
I just don't know how much longer I can patronize a website where the people running it are so fucking stupid that they can't target advertising properly... despite knowing everything there is to know about people from when they fill out their profiles. It's like trying to sell a T-bone steak to a vegetarian when they've fucking told you that they don't eat meat and are wearing a T-shirt that says "MEAT IS MURDER!" How much of a fucking clue do you need?
Anyway, in return for telling you how to improve your revenue by serving ads to your users they might actually respond to, I'll just say YOU ARE WELCOME!
Dave2 from Blogography
UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that you don't have to check anything at all. It actually works! I'm now a non-sexual who is looking for nothing! Which, given the current state of my love-life, is about right.
Though I still think it's incredibly stupid that Facebook can't manage to use the information it has readily available to serve relevant ads. That's online marketing 101.
Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Hey! What the heck happened to the Bullet Sunday I posted yesterday? Blech. I'm back one day and am already having blog problems. Oh goody. A mystery to solve tomorrow morning! But enough about yesterday...
I've stopped measuring the length of my flights in hours, and instead measure them by how many episodes of Kevin Pollak's Chat Show I can watch before I land. Oh how I love this podcast. Kevin Pollak's interviews are 100% pure gold, and better entertainment than most anything you'll find anywhere. I am insanely addicted to the show, and more thankful than I can express that the internet allows true talent to have a forum where they can do what they do without interference from television networks, ad execs, and all the bullshit that fucks up "regular" television.
I have to work very hard to restrain myself not to watch the shows live, and instead download them to my iPhone so I have something to watch while I travel. This has made me go from "HOLY CRAP! HOW MUCH LONGER BEFORE WE FRICKIN' LAND?!?" to "WHAT? WE'RE LANDING ALREADY? NOOOOO! I HAVE TWO MORE EPISODES OF KEVIN POLLAK TO WATCH!!"
I swear... the quality of guests he gets... the amazing information he gets out of them... the hilarious way he keeps things moving... THIS is the job he was born to have. I managed to see eight episodes on my way from Barcelona to Amsterdam to Seattle. It was a who's who of fascinating people that couldn't have been better picked if Kevin Pollak had asked me who he should interview...
Paul Rudd. One of my favorite people, he is consistently one of the funniest actors working today and has turned in dramatic performances that rival the best you'll ever see (not only that... he was a guest-star on Veronica Mars!). He's just as amazing off-screen as on, making this an interview you don't want to end.
Rob Riggle. I've mentioned a couple times here how big a fan I am of Rob Riggle and the many places he seems to pop up (The Daily Show, Gary Unmarried, The Hangover, etc. etc.). I knew from his banter with Jon Stewart that he was in the Marines, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. What an amazing, heroic, fascinating guy. Hearing what he's been through and what he gave up for his love of comedy and performing is nothing short of amazing. This is a MUST-SEE interview.
Craig Ferguson. Pretty much the best late-night host since Carson, this interview adds yet another level to a very funny and complex guy.
Maggie Lawson and James Roday. As if Psych being one of my favorite television shows wasn't enough to get me to watch this interview, these co-stars (and real-life couple) were an interesting interview in their own right.
Cheri Oteri. A Saturday Night Live alum with a great story and a fascinating look behind the show. After being entirely too ignored by the superficial "main-stream press," it's about time that Cheri got the interview she deserved. Thank you Kevin Pollak!
Steven Weber. The guy has a wide assortment of terrific roles (including Brian on Wings!) and seems to be fearless in his acting choices. But that doesn't even scratch the surface of who he is. His comedy and political writings are genius... just like this interview.
Neil Patrick Harris. Yet another interview that was so good it could have gone on for four hours and you'd never notice the time passing by. Everything from working as a child actor to adopting twins with his partner... it's all here and it's all good.
Adam Scott. This is one of those actors that keeps popping up so often (Veronica Mars!) that you can't help but notice him. Eventually he landed on Party Down and has joined the cast of Parks and Recreation. Out of all the interviews I watched, I can honestly say that this frank, honest look at "making it" in Hollywood was easily my second-favorite after Rob Riggle's interview.
Next up in my queue... Greg Proops, J.K. Simmons, the Sklar Brothers, Bryan Cranston, and Fred Willard. As if that wasn't awesome enough, there's still the first 22 episodes which I haven't seen yet. I honestly don't know if I can wait until my next trip.
If you haven't checked out Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. The main website is here. The iTunes video podcast link is here. The iTunes audio podcast link is here. Highest possible recommendation.
Posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010
I love creativity. I love art. I love art museums. I love traveling to art museums around the world and experiencing the amazing creatings of beauty and imagination I find there.
And yet... even though I travel quite a lot, it would be impossible for me to see all the museums and works of art that I'd like to see. That's why I'm thrilled that more and more museums are starting to put their collections online. Sure it's not the same as seeing them in person, but it's certainly better than nothing. Especially when you look at the amazing quality of the digital representations they're giving us.
First up is Haltadefinizione, with their astounding hi-res scans of some famous works. You can zoom in so close as to see the actual brushstrokes and cracks in the plaster. Like this breathtaking view of Jesus from The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci...
Or this stunning zoom of Bacco by Caravaggio...
Amazing. Just amazing. And they also offer gallery prints of the various works and selected zoom prints as well. I wish I could afford them.
In equally amazing news, The Vatican has graciously put a virtual "window" into the Sistine Chapel on their site so you can explore Michelangelo's master works of the cieling and Last Judgement (along with the works by other geniuses such as Raphael, Bernini, and Botticelli)...
Even though I've seen these works in person, I've never seen them like this. To be able to zoom in and study great masters in such detail is just too good to be true.
Art deserves to be enjoyed by everybody. Museums who choose to share their treasures over the internet are enriching the world for us all, and I couldn't be more grateful for their efforts.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get lost in some art for a while...
Posted on Saturday, October 16th, 2010
The harsh reality of the Computer Age is that your life is in constant danger. Well, the life that you store on your computer anyway. Your music, your photos, your movies, your work, your writing... it can all disappear in an instant. All it takes is a hard drive crash or theft or fire or an errant sledge hammer and it's all gone.
Thus, we develop backup strategies to keep our digital lives safe. For me this involves several levels of protection.
My first line of defence is Apple's Time Capsule device, which is constantly and wirelessly backing up all the data from my desktop and laptop Macs...
It's a great system, and has saved my bacon more times than I can count. Not just with lost data, but with recovering old versions of documents I need. The problem is that my first Time Capsule died, taking all my backups with it. Apple promptly replaced it, but the paranoia of losing everything AND losing my backup has caused me to go to extraordinary measures.
So now I am using a couple of old external LaCie Porsche drives I had collecting dust on a shelf to make a backup of my backup...
Except the drives are old. Reliable, but old. So I'm using a couple of newer Western Digital"MyBook" drives to backup the backup of my backup and store them off-site...
It's a good strategy, but still doesn't seem sufficient. So now I'm storing my most critical files in The Cloud on Amazon's S3 Internet Storage System. Unlike other online backup strategies like "Mozy" or "Carbonite" where your "unlimited" storage is tied to a single computer, Amazon lets you put any files from anywhere on their servers. Sure it costs more, but at least it's backup on my own terms.
And yet... I am still paranoid.
Posted on Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
If you'd rather read a much more literate, intelligent, and less profanity-laden missive about net neutrality than you'll even find here... I urge you to read an open letter written by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in The Atlantic.
Otherwise? You've been warned.
And so... the FCC's "net neutrality" proposal has been passed.
Except it's not true net neutrality at all. It's a loophole-ridden pile of crap that's woefully inept and incomplete. I'd go so far as to call it "useless" but a bunch of Republican politicians are losing their shit over the mere suggestion of a free and open internet, so I guess it's not entirely useless. Though I must admit to being shocked that these same politicians stopped sucking special-interest penis long enough to notice. You'd think that fellating all those telco/cable/wireless company heads and stockholders would occupy all their attention.
In the meanwhile, internet freedom takes a hit and we all get fucked...
I am sick and tired of these bullshit fantasies that consumers will somehow ultimately steer the internet regardless of any restrictions that are put upon it. I keep reading things like "Well, if an Internet Service Provider (ISP) adds restrictions their customers don't like, then those customers will get a new ISP. And if ISPs don't provide what their customers want, they'll go out of business. The internet is self-regulating, and doesn't need any 'net neutrality' forced upon it! All that will do is inhibit ISPs from investing in services they provide but don't control. The internet is already" neutral without government intervention, let's keep it that way!"
It's such a laughable load of crap that I could barely bring myself to type it, but that's the argument anti-net-neutrality proponents keep pushing, so there you have it.
Except REALITY teaches us that this simply is not the case. History is replete with examples of big business fucking over people to make a buck. In fact, it's so commonplace that anybody who believes companies will be net-neutral of their own accord when there are billions of dollars to be made as internet services continue to convergence must be insane or clinically stupid.
Look, I understand that companies want to make money. That's the American Way, and the reason anybody goes into business in the first place. I get that. I support that. And if Internet Service Providers want to have tiered data plans so that heavy users pay more than infrequent users, then I would probably be fine with it. "Pay for what you use" and all that.
But this is not what we're talking about. It's about ISPs controlling access to information. It's about ISPs giving preferential access to their networks for wealthy companies willing to pay for it. It's about back-door partnerships and secret agreements which define how we live our lives. So yes... if a SINGLE Internet Service Provider started restricting access to say... Google Maps... and instead redirected you to MapQuest against your will... that ONE provider probably would go out of business as everybody moved to providers with unrestricted access. But we know that's not how it will happen. One company will start doing it. Then another. Then another. Then another. Soon, you may find all your internet options restricted because there won't be any net-neutral ISPs available. Or maybe there will be, but they won't be available where you live.
Remember when checking a piece of luggage used to be included in the cost of an airline ticket? But then one airline started charging for checked luggage. And before you knew it ALL airlines were doing it? Sure there are exceptions... Southwest, I believe, still hasn't given in to temptation... but does Southwest fly to my local airport? No. It's the same way with ISPs. Inevitably there may be some independent ISPs that choose to remain neutral and say no to the massive amount of cash they could make... but do you want to risk that they'll be one of the choices servicing your community?
Do I trust our government? Not really. Do I want our government running our lives? Definitely not. But there are roles the government was built for... like promoting the general welfare... by making sure companies don't sell things containing toxic substances... by making sure companies aren't polluting the environment... by making sure companies conduct business fairly... by making sure companies don't exploit their workers... and so on. Not that I'm saying the government does any of those things exceedingly well (ha!) but many of the more protective regulations we have in place serve a purpose and, generally speaking, we seem to be better off because of them. The internet has become such a critical, intricate part of our lives (both directly and indirectly) that it deserves the same attention. Not promoting the general welfare by protecting the internet's very existence through net neutrality could have horrific consequences for the citizens of this country and the world.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Net neutrality is freedom.
Allowing companies the option to take away this freedom under the banner of "freedom" is a mockery of the very foundation this country was built upon.
Not that this is anything new now-a-days, but I'd rather things not disintegrate completely right this minute.
Fight for net neutrality.
While you still can.