Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Does this not Exist?

All I want is an iPhone contacts manager that looks like this:

See? It looks like the built-in app, except that for contacts with SMS-enabled phones, it has an SMS button that allows you to instantly compose a text. The button doesn't display a menu that asks you which number you want to text; it just lets you compose a text to a pre-set default. And the SMS button is nice and big, so there's little danger of accidentally placing a call when all you want to do is text.

Also, although you can't tell by looking at it, this contact manager lets you make groups and SMS the whole group. It's so got-dang simple. Why does this not exist?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Humbug

I find myself genuinely perplexed by the frequency with which I have observed the following Halloween costumes in the past three days:

Pirate--Like a million times. Look, I get it; Pirate is fun and harmless and a Halloween classic. However: News Flash--it's also, evidently, a cliche. At least half of you could have gone as Ninja and appeared halfway clever.

Girl who Just Left the Gym: two times. One girl--whose Halloween-costume reasoning contained a lot of false lemmas about what is necessary and sufficient for a costume--who stumbled into the conclusion that work-out clothes constitute a costume I could understand. I'm prepared to accept that. But two? Two in one night??? Something has gone seriously wrong in Austin.

Slutty Jets Fan Wearing a Straw Cowboy (not Cowboys™) Hat: one time. There are so many things wrong with this, I almost can't form the sentences to elaborate them. I mean, I don't doubt that female Jets fans exist. And I wouldn't consider it outside the realm of probability that there should be slutty Jets Fans. But what the hell, really, does a cowboy hat have to do with it? And what the fuck, seriously, was the reasoning that led this unfortunate creature to believe that Slutty Jets Fan Wearing a Straw Cowboy Hat represented a goal to be achieved as a costume? Aren't costumes supposed to comprise, at least on some level, the culmination of at least a portion of one's fantasies, an alter-ego that need be revealed once and only once a year? On that account, at least Work-Out Girl has something; fantasizing about fitness is a laughably plausible delusion to have in 21st-century America. But who aspires to be a Slutty Jets Fan--in a Straw Cowboy Hat???

Furthermore, I think there's a fundamental difference between the (slutty) nurses, (slutty) pirates, (slutty) policewomen, etc, and the Slutty Jets Fan. In the former class the sluttiness seems accidental to the costume, but in the case of SJFWaSCH, the sluttiness must be essential. How do I know? Because a (slutty) Jets fan would have just worn generic Eagles garb, but SJFWaSCH wears a Slutty Sanchez Jersey! Jets fan as costume + supporting Sanchez --> my mind completely melting down.

I give up. Sort it out in comments--if you can.

P.S. (one more). Antoine Dodson: zero times. I didn't see a single Antoine Dodson this weekend. And I think that may be more astonishing than the existence of Slutty Jets Fan.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Shop at REI, a nine-step process

1. Make a list; this list will essentially double in size once you start shopping.
2. Gather all the stuff on your list plus all the stuff you didn't know you needed.
3. Estimate how much the stuff in your cart/bag will cost.
4. Add 25% to the cost of your estimate. Prepare yourself to pay this amount. Now...
5. Add another 20% to that number. This is what you'll actually be paying.
6. Repeat to yourself "I'm going to get 10% back in dividends."
7. Try not to crap your pants when the total is actually more than the amount from #5.
8. File for bankruptcy. Assume a new identity and/or flee to Mexico.
9. Have fun in the great outdoors!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

As close to a conspiracy theory as you're gonna get around here

Fact: The Free Case Program for iPhone 4 will only last thru September. At the end of September, Apple will "re-evaluate".

Report: A "high-level" source at T-Mobile claims his company will have the iPhone by the "end of Q3" (which ends in September).

Speculation: If T-Mobile gets the iPhone, and it turns out that it works better on the T-Mobile network, Jobs isn't about to keep handing out free cases to consumers who have the option to choose the better service.

Prediction: T-Mobile will get the iPhone in late September (and there will be great rejoicing). Apple will put a hold on the Free Case Program while it waits to see if its phone functions better on T-Mobile's network.

But calls won't work any better on T-Mobile's GSM than on AT&T's GSM. The problem lies in Jobs's choice of cell-radio technology--not in the network (the Infineon radio in the iPhone is designed for European areas that have higher tower density). However, the iPhone's internet speed will be better because of T-Mobile's more data-efficient 3G.

And people will still think a Verizon iPhone is just around the corner, even though it will be another year before Apple can buy smaller iPhone 4 guts to make room for the gigantic CDMA chips.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Terms of Service: Rdio

To use the new Rdio music service, one must agree to (among other things), the following (with translations):

"Rdio makes no representation or warranty that (i) the Service Applications or the Rdio Service will meet your expectations or requirements...or (v) the Service Applications and the Rdio Service and/or the servers that make the Service Applications and the Rdio Service available are free of viruses, clocks, timers, counters, worms, software locks, Trojan horses, trap doors, time bombs or any other harmful codes, instructions, programs or components."

--(Hey, this thing might not do what you think it does; accordingly, we have the right to put a computer-mashing virus in it and you're OK with that.)

"To the maximum extent permissible under applicable law, in no event shall Rdio...be liable with respect to the Service Applications...any lost or corrupted data, lost profits, loss or damage to any computer, mobile phone or other device or any special, incidental, indirect or consequential damages, even if Rdio has been advised of the possibility of such damages or if such damages were foreseeable."

--(So, if we decide to put a computer-destroying Trojan horse in our software, and one of our people tells us its a bad idea but we do it anyway and it utterly ruins all of your data, we're not really liable for that.)

"You agree to defend, indemnify and hold Rdio...harmless from and against any and all claims, actions, proceedings and suits and all related liabilities, losses, damages, judgments, settlements, penalties, fines, costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs) arising out of (i) your access, use or misuse of any of the Rdio Service..."

--(Also, if we do put an apocalyptic bit of nasty, viral code in our software and all you do is act like an honest consumer who uses it in the way you're supposed to--and our software causes your iPhone or Blackberry to, for instance, systematically wipe out all your image files and replace them with DVDA pics that pop up on your screen every ten seconds, rendering your smartphone utterly useless, you can't sue us.)

Sounds like a great deal, eh? I haven't gotten a great deal like that since I got charged $4 a minute to make a 45-minute call from the Dominican Republic to the US. My question now, since I rarely read TOSes in their entirety, is this: have these kinds of consumer-castrating terms become industry-standard?

[Read the complete Rdio TOS here]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You Missed Out, Friend

If you are among the majority of my friends and fam who didn't attend South by Southwest, you missed out on a whole helluva lot, let me tell ya (big props to my brother Tim and Phil Harder for showing up). If you haven't noticed, I love SXSW and I'm more than willing to evangelize on its behalf. Part of being an evangelist (thought not necessarily a good one) is rubbing the good news the faces of the uninformed. So here I present my Top 5 Bands and Top 3 Films of SXSW 2010. Check 'em out--and get your arse down to Austin next March!

Best Bands:
1. Balkan Beat Box.
These lively Israelites put on the most outside-the-box show I saw this year, complete with disco lights and roaming saxaphones. //Balkan Beat Box: Move It//
2. Warpaint. This all-chick band from LA rocked the faces off a late-night crowd. No gimmicks, just great music. //Warpaint: Elephants//
3. Das Racist. Despite being the drunkest act of SXSW, they put on a bumpin' show with deep bass beats and the kinds of tongue-in-cheek rhymes that I've come to expect from the NYC hip-hop underground. //Das Racist: Shorty Said//
4. Trampled by Turtles. TbT is a five-man hillbilly band that lays down some wicked licks featuring fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. I smiled as Texan audience members were shocked to learn that TbT hails from Duluth. //Trampled by Turtles: The Darkness and the Light//
5. Crystal Method/Steve Aoki. I've wanted to see these masters of the dance floor for a long time--even worse since Crystal Method's show was preempted by the Austin fuzz at last year's Moon Tower. And Aoki gets involved in the crowd; he doesn't just stare at his computer like most DJs. //Steve Aoki: WARP//

Top Films:
1. Micmacs.
Remember the deliciousness of the pranks in Amelie? Take that flavor and spread it over an entire movie, minus Amelie's high-fructose sweetness, and you've some idea what to expect from Micmacs. Also expect beautiful photography, ingenious mise-en-scene, delightful performances, and fantastic fun. I like Micmacs so much I'd hate to spoil any of it by writing about it. Just go see it.
2. Harry Brown. Most of the blurbs I saw about Harry Brown touted Michael Caine's excellent performance, but the real reason to watch it is the way that the filmmakers' method comprehends their message. The film asks the viewer questions about violence and justice, due process and vigilanteism, but offers only ambiguous answers. Throughout, the director and DP offer us camera angles that suggest the ambiguity of the content. Is that group of kids downstairs about to become victims of a random attack? Or will the film reveal them to be the instigators of the opening scene's shooting (the most shockingly visceral attack I've ever witnessed as an opening scene)?
3. MacGruber. MacGruber the SNL sketch features Will Forte's anti-MacGyver getting blown up in under thirty seconds--every time. How, I wondered, could that possibly translate to the big screen? MacGruber the movie works because (a) it is really stinking funny, and (b) because Forte & crew broadened the scope of their spoof to include all kidnapped-missile movies, all spec-ops movies, all buddy movies, all ass-kicking movies with a romantic sub-plot, and all Val Kilmer movies. So, all action movies, basically. And did I mention that the writing and acting made me and the 1200+ people who showed up for the premiere laugh hysterically? While MacGruber bears no pretensions of being a smart action film, it proved to be a worthy bit of feel-funny escapism.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Your Butt Says Hi

I get butt-dialed a lot. Call it the curse of the double-A name. I don't really mind; I just wish I could understand the contents of the long voicemails that result. Almost as good, however: Google Voice transcripts of butt-dialed messages. Here's what my friend Wheaton Ian's ass had to say today:

"Hi, Well hey. So, hello hi hello for what. Hello Kurt, call me bye bye. Aloha, Hello all, Bye bye hey. Ohh, hi hey bye."

Smell ya later, buddy.