Things Come to Those Good People Who Wait

I was the only kid I knew who refused to “sneak a peek” at presents, even when the opportunity presented itself without fear of getting caught.  Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy surprises.  And if nothing else, I hated the thought of wasting my genuine state of shock and happiness on myself.  I believe the person who put effort and resources into giving me a gift should be the one witnessing my true surprise and not just some 2nd rate re-enactment.

Fast forward to adulthood.  My views on receiving presents haven’t changed.  And those same feelings have carried over to the everyday, trivial aspects of life.  When I start up a television show I’ve recorded on my DVR, I’m baffled as to why the first 5 minutes are spent showing me what is going to happen.  Newsflash: I am already watching your show… I no longer need to be “sold.”  What is the point?  The only explanation I can come up with is they didn’t have enough actual content to fill the whole time-slot.  In which case, I (and reason) would argue to work a little harder to generate that additional 5 minutes, or at least put in some extra outtakes or background footage rather than showing me what I will eventually see anyway in the next 25 or 55 minutes.

Unfortunately, television doesn’t hold a monopoly on this insanity.  When I receive a movie in the mail from my good friends at Netflix, at least I can (and of course do) ignore the entire plot that is inscribed on the DVD sleeve.  I’ve already added the movie to my queue and had it mailed to me.  I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m committed to watching it at this point.  The only result that can come of reading the CliffsNotes is to spoil surprises.  And I’m not just talking about unexpected “O Henry” endings.  This applies to major events that happen right from the start but still catch you off guard.  I trust the director can deliver his vision to me just fine without reading your synopsis prior.

To give an example (and yes, the following is a spoiler so skip to the next paragraph if you haven’t seen it): I received Reservation Road starring Joaquin Phoenix in the mail a while back.  Avoided the DVD sleeve, started watching the movie, and I was completely shocked to see a child get hit unexpectedly by a car.  This plot line didn’t occur at the middle or end of the movie, it happened at the beginning and was the foundation for the entire movie.  And, you guessed it, it was written clear as day on the DVD sleeve (I always read the sleeves afterward so I can see what would have been spoiled for me).  So, if you read this paragraph or the DVD sleeve before watching Reservation Road, sucks for you.  You knew it was coming and were probably even on the lookout for it.  You’ll never truly feel the genuine surprise that scene produces.

But the DVD sleeve is only the beginning.  I’ve recently noticed a few movies that force you to watch an abridged version of the film during the menu screen.  Just so we are clear A) this cannot be by-passed, this happens between the time you hit “menu” and the option to select “play” comes on the screen.  B) though admittedly short, a chronological series of images and sounds from the film from start to finish is still in my opinion the movie.  My only options were 1) spoil the movie by watching the 20-second version of the it, or 2) divert my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and hum.  Obviously, I chose the latter.

Bottom Line: A movie shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt, simply trying to find what you read in a preview.  I’m a big boy now.  If the show or movie that I’ve already committed to watching sucks, I’ll stop.  Don’t waste my time or make it suck by revealing it for me before I even start.


July 30, 2009 at 11:02 PM Leave a comment

Intelligent life found in Cincinnati

Who needs SETI?  I just found proof of alien lifeforms hovering over Cincinnati, OH.

(don’t forget to view “Satellite” mode, and zoom in)

July 14, 2009 at 6:31 PM Leave a comment

Free TV episodes are great… but sometimes you get what you pay for.

I’ve been watching television shows online for as long as networks have gotten a clue to start offering them.  In the past several years I’ve encountered networks that wanted to make things difficult (ie downloading special software/plug-ins for their “superior” media player).  But in the end it was just a simple download, maybe a browser re-start, and the show would play just fine.  That is until today.

Of course the claim for these “indispensable” downloads is that it provides the best picture, though I never saw an advantage over standard plug-ins.  I suppose their idea of a “better viewing experience” is the ability of their enhanced media software to embed impossible-to-avoid ads.  Which is understandable, because they need to make money somehow to keep it free for the user.

But when this enhanced software is so convoluted that it doesn’t work, nobody wins.

Which leads me to today.  I’ve watched shows on as recently as a few weeks ago, and it worked just fine.  Long story short, I tried 3 different browsers (firefox, safari, IE) on 2 different machines (PC, Mac) and everyone of them resulted in the same thing: a blank gray page.  Any required plug-ins were downloaded and installed, even restarted the browsers and the computers.  Still didn’t work.

So I watched hulu. ABC_LandingPage_WITHBETA

Bottom Line: I’m not the type to be beaten (especially when it comes to technology), so I went back to and scrolled down a bit and saw the “New Full Episode Player BETA.”  The beta option was beneath the default player and in a smaller font size, with a note claiming that I am one of the first in America to see it (which is better than the alternative of no one in America seeing anything on the standard player).  The beta played just fine.  Note to ABC developers: spare America the frustration and make the beta the default.

July 13, 2009 at 10:26 PM Leave a comment

Blaming AT&T Is Easy, But Not Always Right

I’m the first to call out a company that I think is defrauding, screwing over, or simply practicing douche tactics.  Complaining is my favorite.

But the recent online lynch mob going after AT&T over the inflated cost for existing iPhone 3G customers to upgrade to an iPhone 3G S are baseless.  Though it looks good on the surface to cry “unfair”, the complaint is ultimately unfounded.

The primary argument being offered up at Twitition is that “AT&T should give existing customers the same rate for the new iPhone 3Gs that they do for new customers. New customers or not, another 2-year contract is being made.

A cursory glance at the statement makes sense.  But unfortunately the math is, for lack of a better word, “fuzzy.”  If I got an iPhone 3G 11 months ago (which I did) and signed a 2-year contract, then I have only fulfilled 1 year of my 2-year agreement (with me so far?).  If AT&T gives me a new subsidized iPhone 3G S now and gives me a new 2-year contract (as the argument above states), then they just lost out on 1 year of trying to make up for subsidizing the cost of my previous iPhone 3G.  AT&T will NOT add 2 years onto your existing 2 years (that would result in a 4-year contract which is not allowed).

Basically, if you got a subsidized iPhone 3G, you did so in exchange for a 2-year service agreement so AT&T can actually turn a profit (to re-invest in such crazy things as building a bigger and faster network).  Another fun fact that seems to be getting overlooked, is there are 3 pricing options:

  1. New and Qualifying
  2. Early Upgrade (those who bought the iPhone 3G in the last year)
  3. No Contract/Commitment

So even if you’ve only fulfilled 1 year of your 2-year contract, you can still get the new iPhone 3G S for a slightly less subsidized (no contract) price.

Bottom line: This is what cell phone companies do to provide cheaper hardware.  All carriers, not just AT&T.  And all phones, not just the iPhone.  Otherwise everyone would still be paying the much higher, unsubsidized cost of the original iPhone.  I’m fine with keeping my iPhone 3G until next year when I will be eligible for the subsidized rate on an even better iPhone.  And if I change my mind and realize I desperately need video, voice control, etc; then at least I took the time to understand why I’m being asked to pay a premium to upgrade.

June 11, 2009 at 11:56 PM Leave a comment

Crappy Songs that Teach You a Crappy Dance

I was listening to the radio when a familiar song came on: Cupid Shuffle by Cupid.  I immediately recognized the song, as well as the memories of how much I despised it when it was first released a few years ago.  I gave into curiosity and withdrew from changing the station to better understand what makes this song so insipid.  And then it all became clear.

It’s a crappy song about a crappy dance, that spends its entirety trying to teach the listener said crappy dance.

Bottom line: Don’t just hate Cupid and his unoriginality.  The entire “lame choreography” musical genre is subject to mockery.  Especially DJ Casper and his “Cha Cha Slide”.

June 11, 2009 at 10:18 PM Leave a comment

The Bittersweet Woe of an Early Adopter

Sigh.  I’m so torn and conflicted.  I want to be happy that Apple has announced lower prices and/or better specs at WWDC, but that would mean deriving pleasure from getting a “less good” deal.  And I’m no masochist.

MacBook: I bought my aluminum macbook just 4 months ago.  So today’s announcement basically means I could have gotten a 15″ (rather than 13″) better quality screen, longer battery life, a slightly faster processor, along with firewire and the SD card slot for the same price.

At least Snow Leopard will only be a $29 upgrade, but not until September.

iPhone: Well at least the Palm Pre had a good 2-day run as “the iPhone killer” (though that term is laughable).  The new iPhone 3G S and its improvements (better camera, video, voice control, etc) absolutely ensures there won’t be any “iPhone killers” any time soon.  The bad news for me of course, is the same 8GB iPhone I paid $199 for is now only $99.  But I can honestly say the extra $100 was well worth having the previous 11 months of ownership.

Bottom line: Better hardware for cheaper prices forever, my financial well-being fornever.

June 8, 2009 at 5:14 PM 1 comment

An iPhone user’s completely (un)biased review of a Palm Pre

The Palm Pre launched today at Sprint stores across the country (to little fanfare I might add).  Actually, let me first say that I really didn’t intend this review to be biased.  I bought into the Pre hype since being announced at CES and have been looking forward to its release ever since.

So after managing to pull myself away from Sims 3 for a bit, I hit up the local Sprint store.  Despite seeing many tweets about long lines, my closest store was no busier than I’d expect it to be on any other Saturday afternoon.  And obviously nothing compared to an iPhone release.  My thoughts after playing with the Pre for about 15 minutes:

  1. It is definitely the best attempt to catch up to the iPhone so far (yes, I’m referring to you BlackBerry and LG).
  2. It still falls short.

I love my iPhone.  But with that said, there are well-documented areas where the iPhone disappoints (camera quality, MMS, keyboard, cut & paste, video).  Luckily, most of these issues will likely be added/resolved with the new iPhone hardware and/or in the new iPhone 3.0 OS.  So it goes without saying that the Pre (as of 2 days before Apple’s new iPhone announcement) contains some features that are better than the iPhone.  But for the most part these “features” are trivial or actually sub-par.

For example, the flyer I was handed at the Sprint store points out that the Pre has “linked contacts” and “layered calendars”, and the iPhone doesn’t (I believe that may actually be listed under the definition of “trivial” in many dictionaries).  As for sub-par, the biggest LMFAO moment I had today was reading the claim by Sprint or Palm (not sure which company thought up the drivel printed on this flyer) that the Pre has a “Superior User Interface” to the iPhone.  Wow.  Tip: you might want to actually play around with an iPhone before making such a laughable claim.

It really wasn’t my intention to rip on the Pre.  I truly had high hopes for it.  Competition in R&D and producing sleeker and more useful features is great and will only benefit consumers.  But the Pre isn’t it.  My very first impression was it is sluggish to respond and not intuitive to use (hence “superior user interface” being the most blatantly fabricated sales pitch I’ve read in a while).  And no, I didn’t forget about the Pre’s slideout keyboard.  Though it is easy to forget, considering how small and pointless it is. I’ll be happy to out-type any Pre owner using my iPhone’s touch screen keyboard.

With all this negativity, I should end on a positive note.  I definitely liked the Pre’s use of Apple’s multi-touch.

Bottom line: If a keyboard and emailing are the priority in your mobile life, then stick with BlackBerry.  If not, and you are stuck with Sprint as your carrier, then by all means go for the Pre.  Otherwise…

June 6, 2009 at 2:53 PM 1 comment

Sims 3 (aka anti-social social gaming)

Sims 3 is a great game.  Unfortunately, I bought my copy Friday after work, which basically ensured an entire weekend being a shut-in and ultimately living life the next three days vicariously through a bunch of animated pixels.  After playing the game all Friday night, and thereafter dreaming about playing the game, I woke up Saturday morning to see I wasn’t alone in my alone-ness, because Sims 3 was a trending topic on Twitter.

Most tweets about the Sims 3 could be put into three categories:

  1. Sims 3 is awesome: Posted by people who were lucky enough to tear themselves away from the game long enough to tweet about it.  Or like me, were currently playing a game and merely communicating to the outside world through their cell.
  2. Those wishing they had a copy: Not advisable if you plan on leaving the house.
  3. Those having system issues with the game: I was a bit surprised.  The system requirements didn’t seem too demanding.  Then again, I guess not everyone is running it on a 2.4 GHz MacBook with 4GB RAM (which by the way the game runs beautifully on).

Bottom line: Got a fairly new system?  Dislike the outside world?  Love committing to a single endeavor for hours on end, stopping only, and as briefly as possible, to eat and use the restroom?  Then please join me by not joining anyone else in society and purchasing Sims 3.

June 6, 2009 at 1:49 PM Leave a comment


You can find out more about me by clicking “About” above.  My twitter updates are to the right.  Follow me!

May 30, 2009 at 10:48 PM Leave a comment

Newer Posts

May 2023