Nothing like a good language rant to start the day off right.
Turns out that Coldplay (or, at very least, Coldplay’s label) doesn’t really understand their audience. I like Coldplay well enough. Our household has purchased (legally, with actual money) all of their CDs in the past. But, no longer. Their latest CD apparently comes with anti-piracy technology that prevents the disk being ripped to MP3 (ie: no iPod, no iTunes) or played on certain car stereos (!?!) among other things.
Well, thanks but no thanks. Call me when you stop treating your customers and fans like thieves.
del.icio.us has been down for a couple of hours so far today. It was also down for a couple of hours (5? 6?) a couple of days ago. I’ve been using the service lately because the Firefox Extension, LazySheep bookmarklet, and blog autoposting service have made it useful as a blog-post-link-aggregator. It’s less useful when it’s offline.
Oh well. Hopefully Yahoo! (who apparently just bought del.icio.us for an undisclosed-but-rumoured-to-be-healthy amount of money) will be able to throw enough money at the problem that del.icio.us will become a reliable service again sometime. Right now I’m just moderately irked because I’ve gone to tag a half-dozen sites in the past couple of hours and keep running into the “del.icio.us is down for emergency maintenance. we’ll be back as soon possible” error message. Grf.
I’m still angry about Fox cancelling Firefly, so their new idea of cancelling Arrested Development is just doubly infuriating. It’s starting to look like there’s a pattern of Fox being utterly incapable of actually handling and promoting high-quality shows.
Go check Joe’s post for a great clip of David Cross ranting about this very thing.
So, I clicked on a link in my RSS feedreader and the following page came up. It took me a noticeably long amount of time to find the actual content. Image here is colour coded for your edification: Orange = Advertising. Red = Script Error. Blue = Navigation. Yellow = Actual Content. Grr.
Back in Ottawa now. Yesterday’s travel went relatively well, save for a small delay in Calgary. Apparently our pilot can do the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs, however, and we made it to Ottawa only five minutes late.
This trip did nothing to change my opinion that airports suck. I’m sure there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make them suck less, but as yet they’ve just totally failed. They’re grimy, horribly laid-out, confusing, uncomfortable, difficult to get around, and generally just annoying on all possible levels.
The driverless “air trains” at SFO are pretty cool, but getting from the car rental drop off to Gate 23 at Terminal 1 involved something along the lines of: drop off car, walk to elevator, elevator up, walk to escalator, escalator up, walk to air train, wait; get on air train, stop at two stops, get off air train at third stop, walk to escalator, down escalator, walk to tunnel, walk into tunnel, get on moving sidewalk, walk, get off moving sidewalk, walk to escalator, up escalator, walk around a bit, get in line for check in, check in (finally getting rid of half my luggage); walk from check in toward gates, go through initial security screen, go through secondary screen (removing shoes), get laptop bag x-rayed three times (put on shoes, have lighter taken away), put laptop bag back together, walk to gate. I can’t imagine what it was like before the air trains were put in.
Once I was at the gate I had an hour to wait, so ended up going on two peripheral trips to 1) find and use the most disgusting bathroom I’ve seen in years, and 2) buy a $14 USD turkey sandwich since airlines don’t feed people on flights any more. Of course, the best part about airports is that no one wants to be there, so everyone — passengers, security guys, airport staff, airline staff — is cranky and bored. It really just makes for a fantastic experience from start to merciful finish. Ugh. At least the customs guy in Calgary was nice.
For what it’s worth, I doubt I’ll ever stop griping about airports. I used to think that I hated travelling or airplanes, but that’s not true — I don’t mind flying, and I don’t mind being other places. I just really hate airports. If it were practical, I’d travel exclusively on trains. Trains are cool.
It bugs me when dumb bugs in popular web pages stick around for weeks or months. The folks at GU have been informed of this problem with their headlines in Firefox, but nothing seems to be getting done about it. It makes me cranky:
First things first, some photos. I took around 400 photos while I was there, and about 1 in 10 are decent as-is. I might be able to save another 1 in 20 with some judicious photoshopping. I really need to learn how to be a better photographer. My excuse is that I was almost incessantly on the run when taking photos, so conditions were not optimal. Also: I really do need a better than point-and-shoot camera. The Nikon 5700 is a great camera, but if you put a filter on the damned thing, it starts vignetting like a mofo. No good.
My future camera will be a Nikon D70 or D70s or whatever the next proper Nikon DSLR turns out to be. I really, really want a proper DSLR. The time will come eventually.
Amsterdam. Tons of fun, met lots of great people, had a ton of good food, walked more in a week than I probably have in the past two months combined. Gorgeous weather, great hotel (facilities, at least…the staff was a bit off, but more on that in a moment), utterly phenomenal coffee.
Europeans seriously know how to make good coffee.
On service: I’m not sure whether it was just a bad week or something, but the staff at hotels and restaurants we frequented during our stay in Amsterdam was pretty universally sub-par. I’m not sure why this is, but we just got generally lousy service every where we went. Some folks were ok, and everyone was generally friendly, but, really, servers at decent-or-better restaurants in Canada are, on average, just much better at what they do. In one Amsterdamian restaurant our waiter was so in-your-face that I found it distinctly uncomfortable.
Whatever happened to Zen Waiters? The basic premise I work under is this: the less I notice the service I’m receiving, the happier I am. If a waiter spills wine on me (yes, this happened), or if I have to flag a waiter down for a second round of drinks (this also happened, multiple times), or if I have to physically back away from a waiter because he’s a total close-talker (also happened), or if I wait for my food long enough that I check my watch (happened), or if I have to physically walk around looking for someone to give me my bill (slight exaggeration, but close to truth)…guess what? The waiter sucks.
The best waiter I’ve ever had was at Acton’s Cafe in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Quiet, efficient, unassuming, brilliantly experienced, and extraordinarily talented waiter. We sat and ate several courses happily, never once having to ask for anything (water, wine, food, dessert, coffee, bill, whatever). My soup, as I recall, simply showed up like it fell through a tiny hole in space-time. I never once noticed the waiter until we were finished and I realized, all at once, that I never once noticed the waiter. I love service like that. I also, I’ll have you know, tip extraordinarily well for service like that.
If I ever end up walking away from this whole interweb thing and go back into food service, I think I’ll make it my life’s work to be that good a waiter. Really talented waiters who take their vocation seriously can make extremely good money. The problem, I think, is that most waiters think that they’re too good for what they’re doing — most high end waiters probably fancy themselves as a maitre d’, or perhaps as an underemployed sommelier. My god, the in-your-face guy was just unreal. He put me off so badly in the first five minutes we were sitting at the table that I simply didn’t want to talk to him again, and avoided it as best I could. What a piece of work.
Um…anyhow, that rant aside. I had a great time in Amsterdam, waiters bedamned. Oh, and the bartender at the hotel. I mean, seriously dude, if someone asks you “what scotches do you have?”, it’s not an invitation to play 20 questions. WTF?
Unrelated, here are some more photos, but not of Amsterdam.
I pretty much live in my browser. When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is get a coffee then fire up XChat, FireFox, and Thunderbird. The last thing I do before I brush my teeth and go to bed is close XChat, Firefox, and Thunderbird. If I’m in front of a computer, I can guarantee you that at least those three applications are open and being used. This is just how things are for me, and how things have been for me for an awfully long time.
Now, about these widgets. Let’s say I decided I wanted a Google search widget. To get it widget, I have to find it (not hard), trust it to be non-malicious (I’m paranoid, so this is a bit edgy), download it, install it (it doesn’t do that automatically), then start it. Assuming it starts and does what it’s supposed to do, it then sits on the Dashboard and quietly sucks up system resources waiting for me to give it something to do. When I do decide I want to use the widget, I have to hit F12, click on the widget to focus, usually click on it again to get my cursor into whatever text box it’s supposed to be in, then type something, then click on the widget again to make it go (or hit enter), then either hit F12 or on an empty spot in the Dashboard to get back to my desktop.
Alternately, I could just click the Google button on my Firefox quickbar, type something in the webform (which happily autofocuses my cursor in the right place), then hit enter.
Maybe you’re seeing my confusion here. There are eleventy billion widgets out there that do things people can already do very easily in their web browser. Google searches, Ebay searches, Amazon searches, LiveJournal updates, etc etc. Widgets do not make these things easier or more convenient, so…I say to you, “Wtf?”