firstfrost: (smock)
Okay, I have been asked for a rant. :)

Last weekend, [livejournal.com profile] justom convinced [livejournal.com profile] harrock and I to see Elysium, but my goodness, it was terrible. I think part of the problem was that I was expecting something a little more clever, and I expected something better from Jodie Foster and Matt Damon, so when it turned out to be about as stupid as Die Hard 2 (my personal touchstone for disappointingly stupid action movies), I just couldn't forgive it.

  • They flew the shuttles up to the space station and LANDED ON THE LAWN. (No, it doesn't work the same way as Ringworld. The rim mountains are a thousand miles high. The space station walls are what, 100 feet high? You can't take a shoebox full of air into space and expect gravity to keep the air in the shoebox.) Okay, I can handwave "invisible magic force fields that keep the air out but not the spaceships", but in that case, maybe you should tune them to keep the spaceships out too if you don't want them landing on your lawn?
  • "Encryption" seems to mean "you can read the file, but there's a little popup dialog box in the middle of the screen that says it's encrypted." Plus the "no copy" functionality seems to mean "you can copy it but the original hardware self-destructs" which is really not the best protocol for protection from data theft.
  • My God, Jodie Foster, what happened to you? Your Pauses and Portentious Remarks were truly Shatnerian, but where did the twitching come from? (I had no real objections to Matt Damon's acting, though I wish he been given a larger range to play in than angry/stoic/sick.)
  • The whole thing with the way you defend your space station from invaders is a guy standing on the ground shooting the ships down with a rocket launcher? Really?
  • The ending is solved by "reboot the government, after setting the flag to 'everyone is privileged'." Okay, I do appreciate that the theme is about the 1% and health care and the rebels are all motivated by For The Children... but it's really too glib to say that the solution to economic inequality is to just give everyone enough to make them rich, without taking anything away from anyone else. ("We were all living in a socialist utopia all along, we just didn't realize because nobody had pushed the button!" -Tom) And, okay, I can't expect my stupid action movies to come up with a sensible solution to the problems we can't solve in real life, but... I guess I'll just fall back to "glib" again.
  • firstfrost: (Default)
    Some time a few weeks ago, I went to try to install something on my Android. I don't do it that often, and I'm a little absent-minded, so it went something like this. "Okay, where is the Market? It's not under M. Maybe it's under A for Android Market? No, it's not there. Is it not an app? Is it some other thing? This thing has an App Store of some sort, I know I've installed things before. Do I have to use iTun... no I do not have to use iTunes, I'm pretty sure of that. Where the hell is the Market? It has... that little green and white android guy. I remember the icon. It was just here. This is... really surreal. How am I supposed to install apps? Maybe it's just all QR codes now? That can't be it. There must be some sort of app, maybe I'm just misremembering the name. And misremembering what it looked like." After about five minutes of poring carefully over the list of apps, I finally found it. It had been renamed from Android Market to Google Play (filed under P), and the icon had been changed.

    Bah.

    Now, my sliding keyboard has stopped working. I bought SlideIT a while back, and I find it much better than tapping keys as far as input is concerned. But because I paid for it, it has to log in to check my license every so often to make sure I'm not a software pirate. Which it does by connecting through the Android Market and verifying my login. Right. (Now that I am on a computer and can search more properly, the answer seems to be "reinstall and it should work", but still.)

    * * *


    This second rant is not something that personally thwarted me, but is really kind of hilariously wrong.

    Amazon has been doing this thing recently, where they excerpt (randomly chosen) sentences from user reviews and say things like "5 other reviewers made a similar statement", thus lending Great Weight to that particular statement.

    I was looking at Redshirts by John Scalzi, and toying with the idea of pre-ordering it (the alternative is getting the audiobook read by Wil Wheaton, so I may do that instead). Now, it's a book called "Redshirts." You can imagine what it's about. You can imagine what very precise franchise it's a satire of. So, what are the three review quotes (from Amazon Vine) that Amazon chooses to showcase?

    "The characters exhibit wonderful chemistry, and despite no huge amount of effort spent on development there are some surprisingly touching moments."

    Heh, cute and informative.

    "All three codas are more serious in nature and are worth reading."

    Interesting. And...

    "My favorite television show is Doctor Who."

    Wait... what? Ha ha ha ha hah. Okay, first, this is like putting "I really love Batman" as a reviewer quote on your Avengers poster. Second, Amazon tells me "3 reviewers made a similar statement." Really? There's twelve reviews, so twenty-five percent (or maybe thirty-three percent, it probably means "3 other reviewers made a similar statement") of people reviewing this book made a point to say how much they liked Doctor Who?

    As it turns out, no. Only one reviewer mentioned Doctor Who at all. (They actually say "I am a quasi-sci-fi-fan. My favorite television show is Doctor Who. I watch Fringe. I loved Firefly. I know my Star Wars and Star Trek just enough..." so it makes sense in context). Two reviewers use the word "favorite", so that's not it either. Two reviewers use the word "television", but two others use "tv", so that's probably what it's counting.

    "My favorite television show is Doctor Who" and three other reviewers mentioned television, so they must have meant the same thing, because you really only need to read one word in order to figure out what the sentence means.

    I see what you're trying to do, Amazon, but "My favorite television show is Doctor Who" is hilariously silly as a showcase quote, and "Three reviewers made a similar statement" would probably be rated as "Pants on Fire" by any proper fact checker.

    firstfrost: (Default)
    So, these signals have been bothering me for a while. The first one, I finally partially figured out, but I still think it's inefficient. The second one, is just WRONG.

    Anyway. This is the intersection of the one-way Dover Street with Mass Ave, in Cambridge. At the intersection, Dover is two lanes - one left turn lane, one right turn lane.

    When it's time for Dover Street to go, you get a green right arrow only first, and then a green left arrow only. At neither time does any other lane have a green light. The only reason for this somewhat perverse splitting up of the leftgoers and the rightgoers is that the crosswalk is on the right, and they get a walk light during the left-only light. But there's no reason that the leftgoers couldn't be going while the rightgoers are already going. There's no crosswalk on the left, and none of the cross traffic is going. Also, I think this is more concern for the people in the crosswalk than Mass Ave shows anywhere else - pretty much everywhere else, it's perfectly happy to have the walk light on a straight-plus-turning-included green. And the crosswalk two down has no lights at all, it's just "cross when it doesn't look like anyone is going to kill you." Not that I object to doing something nice for the pedestrians, but it surprises me because it's so unusual. I do object to being inefficient with the leftgoers, though. :)

    The other Intersection of Inexplicability is four blocks down, at Cameron and Mass Ave. Let me describe the intersection. Mass Ave is two lanes on either side of the divider. Cameron Ave, to the right, is one of the more major smaller roads - it's a snow emergency route, it's the first through street past the bike path, it has a lot of traffic. To the left is Harvey Street, which is tiny and one way away from Mass Ave. I used to say that I never saw anyone turn left onto Harvey Street, but while I was hanging around taking pictures, I did finally see one person do so.

    Anyway. When the light turns green on Mass Ave, the northbound folks briefly get this set of lights before the full green:

    I can kind of see the point in giving someone the chance to take the left before the oncoming traffic gets to go, in case there's a lot of traffic. But why give the left to Harvey Street, rather than to the people going south who might want to turn left onto the much more travelled Cameron? But that's not even the real question. The real question is, why on earth is there a left arrow from the right lane? You can have two lanes of left turning people when you have a lot of people wanting to turn left and the leftmost lane is a dedicated left-turn-only lane. (Like going from Mass Ave left onto Somerville Ave, in Porter Square - there's a left turn lane and then a left-and-straight lane and then a straight lane. But it makes no sense at all here. The left lane isn't left turn only. Almost nobody turns left. Harvey street has only one lane, it doesn't have room for two lanes worth of left turners at once. Turning left from the right lane would be the worst idea ever. So.... what the heck?

    firstfrost: (Default)
    From a Boston Globe article today (emphasis mine):
    Allurent, a provider of online shopping technology based in Cambridge, and clothing retailer Anthropologie are piloting a computer application that allows shoppers to browse Anthropologie's catalog and place orders through a button on their desktop, without downloading cumbersome portable document files or connecting to the Internet.

    [...]

    Someone shopping for clothes from Anthropologie would download the application to a desktop [...] When a shopper is ready to check out, the application seamlessly transfers to Anthropolgie's website, where the shopper pays and fills in the shipping information.
    I was ranting about this to [livejournal.com profile] harrock earlier - how exactly is placing an order on line done without connecting to the Internet? And we grumbled about how in modern user technology, "the internet" means "anything you can access with a web browser". But it's not even that! It goes to the web site at the end! I don't even know what they think "without connecting to the Internet" means at this point! And ooooh, they don't have to download cumbersome PDF files, they only have to download a WHOLE APPLICATION.

    I mean, I could understand "this is a better UI" as an argument. Maybe it is. But the arguments they're making about why this is better are crazy-headed.
    firstfrost: (smock)
    I wanted to wait until I had a third book, but Gardens of the Moon is being incredibly slow going, and I got impatient.

    The Bastard King, One Of Us )
    firstfrost: (smock)
    Brimstone, Crown Duel, Angels and Demons, Freakonomics, Furies of Calderon, The Family Business, The Skinner )

    These are all borrowable except for The Family Business which was a MITSFS book.

    firstfrost: (smock)
    Seven book reviews. Cut for length, but the review for the Companions has some spoilers too. You don't want to read it, though, so spoil away.

    Metaplanetary, Superluminal, Well of Lost Plots, Atrocity Archives, Singularity Sky, the Companions, and Survival )

    (The Fforde books are borrowable; the rest were from the MITSFS)
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