Outstreched arm

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wiillow wiip for me

Gather ye, and hear this sorry tale of the Wii I had and then lost.

I've been looking for a Wii for a few weeks now; I already have games, controllers, and a real desire to get into the first gaming system I've paid attention to since the NES. I've been sitting here, money in hand, calling every store I can think of to see when they might have some and who I need to bribe and how. No dice - all I hear is "we get them sporadically, and they sell out within minutes."

So imagine my shock when yesterday, a friend of a friend mentioned casually that he had two Wiis (due to a mixup both his wife and he bought one for their kid). He was more than willing to part with the unopened system at MSRP; I was writing the check like I was buying life-saving allergy meds.

Then today came and with it, tragic news: his wife, unaware of out transaction, returned the Wii to the store this morning.

Life sucks, and then you die, my friends.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dude's iPhone ringtone

Now that we can create custom iPhone rings again, here's my contribution:

Phone's ringing, dude

Download, drag to iTunes, sync to iPhone. It's a good ringtone, and thorough.

P.S. Here's a flat MP3 as well.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sears' checkout script

Complaining about the checkout line is a cliched rant, so instead of using a lot of adjectives to describe my experience buying underwear at Sears yesterday, I'll just give you the script. Use it as you see fit. Note that I had seen people in front of me go through this, so I was trying to get through it quickly by giving clear, direct answers without saying something obnoxious like "just ring it up and don't bother me with pointless questions".

- Hi, welcome to Sears. How are you doing?
- I'm well.
- Would you like to put this purchase on a Sears Credit Card?
- No, I don't have one.
- Do you have one?
- No.
- Do you know you can save on today's purchase if you get a Sears Credit Card?
- No, thank you.
- Would you like to get one today? [Note that they intentionally failed to interpreted my answer as as "no, and I don't want one."]
- No, thank you.
- That'll be $7. Are you familiar with the Heroes at Home program?
- No.
- Heroes at Home is a Sears program that helps rebuild veterans' homes. [Pause]
- Ok.
- Would you like to donate to Heroes at Home today?
- No.
- OK. Thank you for your purchase.

If you're going to have a script like this, do a favor to yourself and myself and the guy in front of me who can't speak English so he's confused and frightened about all these questions you're asking: put in a self-checkout line.

Monday, November 05, 2007

On Google Android

Google announced today that they are developing a free software package available to cell phone manufacturers and providers. We don't know much, but based on what we know, I made these comments:

I hate to be the "less space than a Nomad, lame" guy, but this just doesn't sound that interesting [yet].

Google has written a software platform for mobile phones. Ok, cool.

We have no idea what it is, what it does, hot it looks, how it works, what phones it will work on, and how much Google there will be in a typical phone running Android (versus how much, say, T-Mobile). That's not cool at all.

It's a partnership announcement, like what MS keeps having us yawn about. We don't get to see a product for another year, and when we do, we have no idea what it will be like.

Best case scenario: it's excellent software, customizable (by the provider) in a tasteful way, guaranteeing a consistent, google-class experience.

Worst case scenario: it's good software, customizable to virtual unrecognazibility by the same people who have been delivering crappy phones all these years, guaranteeing pretty much the same kind of confusing, ugly, all-over-the-place, T-Mobile-class mobile phone experience we've had so far. Only it'll be more webby and it'll have ads.

The reason I'm leaning more toward the second option is that Google didn't say anything today that prevents or opposes it.

Later, in a reply to the claim that this is great because we'll get "useful and powerful free services":

What in this announcement gave you the idea that useful and powerful phone services will be free of charge to YOU? Your provider will still charge as much as they ever have. Good luck having them pass the software development savings on to you.

This is primarily a business partnership announcement, from Google to providers. Customers will be affected by this somewhere in the margins. Hence no demo, no product to show, no cool YouTube video to ooh and aaah over.

P.S. Oh wait, there is a YouTube video. And no, it's not cool or ooh or aah.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Do iPhoto developers know what saturation is?

I use iPhoto for most of my day-to-day photo organizing and tweaking. Its image adjustment features keep getting better - now that it does three-point levels tweaking and shadow/highlight adjustment, it has kicked Photoshop off my "keep running at all times" list.

Except when I need to tweak saturation, which in iPhoto people's dictionary obviously means something other than "intensity of hue". Here are some examples. Let's say I have a "weak" photo which could benefit from having its colors kicked up a notch. Here's what happens when I do this in Photoshop (left) and iPhoto '08 (right, and '07 does the same) with the original provided in the middle for comparison. In both apps, I'm pushing the saturation slider about a quarter of the way to the right.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
(Click for full size)

Photoshop does exactly what I wanted. iPhoto boosts the color some, but what it does more than anything else is darken the photo. I never asked for this. Sure, hue and saturation changes will change the perceived lightness and darkness of an image, but not like this.

To illustrate this better, let's push saturation all the way. Again, Photoshop on the left, original in the middle, iPhoto on the right.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
(Click for full size)

Oversaturated, normal, DARK. What's going on?

P.S. Sorry about the ImageShacking.