Google Glass

These idiots are going to cause a lot of traffic accidents.

You have heard about ‘Google glass,’ right?  If you haven’t, it’s a tiny computer with a heads up display, camera and earpiece that you wear like a pair of glasses. It reads texts to you through the earpiece, can follow voice commands and can show you images via the heads up display. People are already at work on facial recognition aps and other functions that make this the smartphone that you wear rather than carry. It will photograph whatever you are looking at if you say, “OK, Google, take a picture.” Google is trying to make the computer as natural an extension of your body without putting it IN your body as current technology allows.

I’m surprised they didn’t call it ‘Google goggles’ or ‘Googgles’ or something like that.

Maybe I’m just a cranky old man, but I hate it already and think it’s fucking creepy to have a computer/smartphone/texting device that is always on my head and shows the world absolutely everything I see and is constantly whispering in my ear or showing me pictures so I never need to be alone ever again. I predict that the world will soon be divided between the ‘googlers’ who are constantly sharing absolutely everything they do and see and hear and the rest of us who don’t give a shit. Plus the googlers will wear their stupid devices while they drive or walk and probably swerve all over the place and run into the rest of us who aren’t simultaneously travelling AND surfing the fucking web or texting on our eyeballs at the same time.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin dialed the creep factor up to 11 when he said, “It’s really a device that wants to be outdoors, wants to be outside, wants to be with family and friends…”  Really? This device “wants” things? I want things like chicken… and when I get chicken, my dogs make it clear that they want chicken, too, and that seems perfectly natural to me… but I’m just not ready for a computer or smart phone or tablet or wearable computer goggles that wants things, too. There is entirely too much ‘wanting of things’ going on… and now that the purveyors of technology are claiming that things are starting to want things too, I’m about ready to say, “Enough, already” and go live in a cabin like Ted Kaczynski.

EDIT: Google Glass is also a device that does not want to be sold or shared. Not only has Google restricted early sales of the device to people who have made a compelling public pitch as to why they should be deemed worthy of owning the device, but, if you should be so lucky as to be ‘allowed’ to buy a pair of the cyber goggles, you are forbidden to sell, loan or give them to anyone else. Welcome to the brave new world where corporations are people and objects can tell their ‘owners’ the terms of ownership.

Bait & Switch

Above was clipped from one of Dunham’s Weekly circulars, the “Sports Hunting Circular” with prices valid through 10/13/2012. For those not in the know, Dunham’s is the place to go for long underwear in a camo print, soccer jerseys for the kids, hockey sticks and skates, socks, athletic supporters, duck calls, etc.  It’s like a discount Cabelas that also serves as a one-stop-shop for people with kids playing school sports.

The item in question is a civilian model of the HK 416, supposedly one of the best automatic rifles in the world. I’m normally not that excited about civilian semi-auto carbines, but $549.99 seemed too good a deal to pass up.  Come zombie apocalypse or the rise of the machines, I’d want something with the combined accuracy and ROF of a semi-auto carbine, and the HK416 is not only better than the various AR15 clones in terms of fewer ‘failure to feed’ problems, but is also the weapon of choice for special forces around the world — and, at $549.99, cheaper as well. If my future involved manning the barricades, I wanted an HK416 in my hands. It’s the rifle that killed Bin Laden.

Well, I visited two Dunham’s and called several more, and not only did they not have it, everyone I spoke to said they never carry any rifles from Heckler Koch but they would gladly sell me a Bushmaster carbine for $999.99 if I used the coupon, $1099.99 regular price.  Bunch of bait and switch motherfuckers.

Tip of the hat for marketing genius goes to whomever came up with Hornady “Zombie-Max” ammo.  Yes, it is for real. Hornady is one of the many companies selling ammunition in the US and came up with “Zombie-Max” to sell more ammo to more people. The ammo is apparently a capped hollowpoint, but the plastic cap is green instead of the usual white or clear, which of course means it is better for killing zombies, because zombies are (apparently) sensitive to green plastic the way that werewolves are sensitive to silver. Who knew? If green plastic does kill zombies, I’m going to buy a bunch of green plastic army men, grind ’em up and pack ’em into shotgun shells. Just in case.

I hate your stupid newspaper web page!

Perhaps the editors at USA Today are funnier than I thought.

In order to have access to most of the things I need to have my job, I need to have a browser open 90% of the time so I can access sharepoint and some other resources. When I have a few minutes between tasks or I want to recharge my batteries, I might scan the headlines or check personal email.

Today I made the mistake of clicking on a link to a USA TODAY online page (it was actually kind of work related — it involved a company that the place I work for does business with).  Something went wrong. USA opened a story about some factory worker who had stabbed his coworker to death and then committed suicide. “Well, that’s not what I wanted,” I thought to myself as I closed the tab.  The browser suddenly froze and then the tab I had just closed popped up again. Assuming it was my mistake, I attempted to close it again.  Suddenly two or three copies of the same story were popping up as fast as I could click. At the point that nine or ten were open and USA was still trying to open more copies of the same story of the knife-man homicide, I finally force-quit.

USA Today really seemed to want me to read that story — to the point that they really don’t seem to want to give me a choice in the matter. I don’t know if it’s my crappy browser or what, but instances of persistant browser tabs that pop up again and again, or tabs that ask me, “Are you sure you want to leave and not read our web page?” when I try to close them seem to be happening more and more often. I know that people who make web pages like USA today are in the business of trying to get as many eyeballs on those pages for as long as possible, but something about their methods (which may or may not involve exploiting a weakness in internet sucksplorer) makes me less likely to want to visit their web page in the future much like a really obnoxious salesman might make me want to buy from anyone but him based on his obnoxious personality.

Hello Kitty

Up until today, I never knew who ‘Hello Kitty’ was.  I still don’t know very much; I only read the first paragraph of her wikipedia page. I have seen her image on shirts, hats, shower curtains, backpacks, etc., like I have seen ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ and ‘Mickey Mouse’ on hats, t-shirts, etc., but I had this idea that ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ was a ‘real’ character (insofar as he seemed to have some sort of ‘existance’ as a fictional cartoon character outside of being a reason to sell merchandise, and, one might argue, the popularity of the cartoon helped sell the merchandise). As far as I could tell, there was no cartoon behind ‘Hello Kitty.’ ‘Hello Kitty’ seems to have existed in order to sell stuff first, and THEN they made the cartoons, comic books and video games.  Which seems pretty backwards but maybe it’s just post-postmodernity in action.

Didja know you can get a ‘Hello Kitty’ AK?  They also make a Hello Kitty AR15.

Smart ads that are not

So I was looking at an online story about that dude who threatened to shoot up his coworkers and had a bunch of guns at home this morning and check out the ‘smart ads’ that popped up:

Ads for bullet proof vests and armor plate embedded in a story about someone who apparently threatened to duplicate the Aurora theater shooting? I don’t know if the content server’s analytics are genius or shit… I mean, reading about someone shooting up the movie theater or workplace might make me want to buy body armor, on the other hand, if I were to be in the bullet proof vest business, do I really want customers associating me with people who go ballistic (oops a pun) and shoot their coworkers or fellow movie watchers?  Probably not.

Google adverts

Google analytics has determined that I really want cheap swords made in Asia because everywhere I go online and whenever I open up my email I get ads for Bud K’s “Swords for under $30.00!

Obviously they have recognized me for what I am; a barbarian on a budget.

Here is their video of the 300 style Spartan sword chopping up an old mini van:

Another thing I really hate about Windows…

When I am using shitty, shitty windows 7 (which is still much better than shitty shitty shitty shitty fucking shitty windows Vista), sometimes a window will pop up telling me that the program I am using has stopped working. This window gives me the choice of either a) checking for a solution to the problem or b) closing the program. From past experience, a) never works so I always want to click b). When I click b), another window pops up telling me that Microsoft is now searching for a solution to the problem.

If I wanted Microsoft to search for a solution, wouldn’t I have clicked option a)?

As a former Mac user, one of the things I found irritating about the Mac OS is that the designers seemed very fond of dialog boxes that popped up asking me if I was sure if I wanted the computer to do what I had just asked it to do. At times it made me quite snappish. “Yes; I WANT to delete that now go and fucking delete it you smug, condescending, overpriced typewriter!” These days, I’d trade it all in a heartbeat if I never had to touch a Windows machine again. Urrg.

Music and Salesmanship

Anyone else remember those pictures of Boris Yeltsin doing ‘The Funky Chicken?’ I can’t decide whether I like Boris more or less after seeing them — sort of the same feeling I got when watching our former President, George W. Bush, funk out with African drummers on the Whitehouse lawn.

Michelle Bachmann recently got taken to task by musician Tom Petty because her crew used his song, “American Girl,’ at one of her rallies. I’m not that familiar with Petty’s “American Girl” pop anthem, but, if memory serves, it’s lyrics might be a bit at odds with Bachmann’s Bible Beater values (something about “making it last all night” makes me think Petty’s American Girl is a bit of a libertine). But I guess since the song has ‘American’ in it, her team feels this gives it relevance. Plus Petty is probably popular with a demographic that doesn’t find much traction in her bible-thumpin’ ways. Anything to appear hip, I guess. But this is apparently just one of a growing number of cases in which a pop star has said to a political candidate, “Hey, stop using my song!”

I remember being a bit taken aback when I heard “London Calling” by the Clash being used to sell Jaguar cars on TV. The context in which I first heard that song seemed greatly at odds with the idea of a luxury automobile. As I recall, the ad just had a few strident guitar riffs and Joe Strummer barking out, “London Calling” and leaving out all those depressing lyrics about the end of the world… perhaps the admen thought that maybe the American ex-punker who had given up on revolution and gotten a career and was now rolling in it would feel the siren song of the half remembered dreams of his former self and head on down to the dealership and buy a really expensive car without really stopping to think about it. Devo as pitchmen for Honda scooters seemed a much better fit.

The world is just getting so fucking weird. Guy DeBord had no idea how right he was.

"Special Collectors Edition?"

Recently I clicked on a series of links and ended up at a forum discussion where the forum members were discussing a ‘special collectors edition’ adventure that was only going to be availible if you went to a particular convention (the details are not important to me, but, if you are curious, the link in question is here).

At issue in the discussion (at least in the page that I read) was a special edition copy of an adventure that was going to be availible only if you attended the particular convention. Some people (who want to collect at least one sample of every single adventure this company puts out) were upset because by putting out an adventure that could be purchased only at the Con, the publisher was forcing them to either go to the con or have an incomplete collection.

I’m not really a ‘people person’ (my never-to-be-realized dream is to live alone in a small cabin in the wilderness, near a body of water) so conventions are not my thing, but collecting ‘completeness’ is not something I understand either. I’m plenty greedy and grasping and I like certain things, but I can’t imagine wanting to own books without physically handling and reading them. The pride that some people take in collecting things just to have ‘one of each edition of the same book’ like in this photo just baffles me:

I got that picture from Austrodavidicus’ (sp?) blog. I didn’t know what it was a picture of at first until I read the text and followed the links and discovered that it was multiple copies of the same game (like the original D&D sets) in all the different printings and variations, all wrapped up in plastic. Theres a LOT more to that particular collection. Follow the links and see.

I have no idea of what a collection like that is worth (I suspect it is worth a lot) and, if I had that kind of scratch, I’d probably be trying to buy that aforementioned cabin in the woods as well as a shitload of canned goods, liquor shotgun shells and .30-06 rounds so I would be ready for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I’d also buy artwork from artists I like (but I would ‘use’ that too — by hanging it on the wall). And I have my own things that I am fond of — I have a lithograph by Arthur Rackham that I am fond of (and I suppose it is worth something, but not a huge amount) and a Piranesi etching of one of his ‘fantastic prisons’ pictures (which I bought for very little and probably still overpaid for) and I crave ownership of expensive Smith & Wesson and Walther pistols and Leica cameras even though I don’t NEED them… so I am not innocent of being infected by the need to own shit.

If it brings the collector joy to have one of each, then good for them I guess. Seeing all those games collected together to just ‘be a collection,’ however, is strange (and sad) to me… especially since I would like to have just one of those boxed sets (but I would probably just ruin it by reading and playing with it). I have a few very tattered OD&D booklets and some PDFs so I suppose I am good.

I don’t know what to think about books and games being produced as “special edition collector’s items.” On the one hand, I suppose it’s good for the people who publish game books (and probably anything that can create positive cash flow ought to be tried… well, nearly anything). On the other hand, I can understand the “completeist’s” frustration at the creation of artificial scarcity.

As a player/reader/tinkerer/doodler, I just don’t think I ‘get’ collecting because my relationship to the books and things that some people see as objects in a collection is quite different. I see it as bedside reading or reference material for my doodles.

If you lie to me, why would I trust you?

The envelope at the right arrived in my mailbox today. At first glance, it looked like a 1099 of a w-2 form. Since some of the companies I do freelance work for send me 1099s, I normally keep an eye out for them and stash them away for tax time. The big ‘2009’ in the upper right makes it look like a tax document dealing with the year 2009. I also lost my job this year and had to claim unemployment, so all sorts of ‘official’ documents requiring my response end up in my mail.

I ripped open the envelope and discovered that I had been selected for special financing on a new car by a local Ford dealership. I felt that the sender had intentionally tried to make the envelope look like ‘official government correspondence’ and left off the return address in order to increase my chances of opening it (as opposed to printing “We want to sell you a car!” or something similar on the envelope, which , admittedly, would have resulted in the envelope and contents going right into the recycle bin).

As far as sales pitches go, though, this one seems really flawed. The sender attempted to deceive me about the envelope’s contents in order to get me to open it, and, once I had opened it, wanted me to come in and buy a car. I understand that the real goal of the car dealership is to make money by selling cars, but isn’t gaining the trust of the customer important in the process? The thought that immediately occurred to me, once I opened the envelope, was, “Geez, this person lied to me to get me to open this envelope (true, in the scheme of things, a pretty unimportant lie)… and now they want me to trust them to give me a good deal on a car?”

As I tossed the letter into the bin, though, I began to wonder if such a pitch did work… after all, this isn’t the first time I have received a letter that looked like something important and turned out to be a sales pitch (my favorite was one that was printed up to look like a refund check from the IRS… and when you opened the envelope you saw that they were offering you a loan or something). Part of me thinks that deceiving people into listening to you long enough to hear your sales pitch is an asshole thing to do, yet, amazingly, it must work because I keep getting these letters.

Maybe the true ‘seller’ is a breed apart — he or she is someone who can lie to your face to get you to open the envelope, and, once you have opened the envelope, then unashamedly switch tactics and try to get you to buy whatever they are selling, even though I think my reaction should be, “Hey, you just lied to me! Shut the fuck up and leave me alone, you slimeball!” The ‘effective salesperson’ is perhaps someone who is not encumbered by the same degree of shame that the rest of us are handicapped with.