Archive for General Drivel

Shop Now! Shop Twitter!

Twitter users were treated to an update to both their Terms Of Service and the Twitter privacy policy yesterday. If you aren’t on Twitter, or you are one of those incomprehensible souls that skips through TOS agreements without reading and/or just deletes them wholesale, here is the key takeaway: Twitter is moving into the world of online shopping. In a nutshell, they want to start enhancing their “promoted tweets” with links to allow one-click purchases of the items or services being advertised.

Personally, I think this is a decent initiative. Obviously Twitter needs to have a solid revenue stream to survive … keeping a major-league social network up and running takes a lot of resources and a lot of talented staff, neither of which are free. Yes, some people will bitch about this they way they bitch about advertising in any format, but those same people would bitch even louder if Twitter went tits up.

A few of the positives here:

The promoted tweets are fairly unobtrusive. They sit quietly in your timeline, period. They aren’t outsized pop-ups, overlays, hideous floating boxes with a minuscule close button, or any of the other annoyances that you increasingly see on mainstream media sites. And they are orders of magnitude better than the stupid Dickbar.

Twitter has a decent privacy policy. Unlike Facebook (which just outright sells your data) or Google (which sells your preferences) Twitter sells space in groups of timelines that match a set of client parameters without actually giving advertisers any information about individual users. Twitter also has a good record when it comes to standing up to unwarranted government demands for user data.

Twitter has excellent security. The endgame of “one click” shopping right from your timeline means that Twitter will take on the roles of both credit card storage and processing. Despite the protests of celebrities who are embarrassed by their idiot tweets (“My account was hacked!“) no Twitter account or server has ever been technologically compromised. Anyone who has ever had their account hijacked has given their password out, either knowingly to friends / acquaintances / personal assistants / whatever, or inadvertently via their own stupidity. If you are going to trust someone with your credit card info, you could do a lot worse than Twitter.

Pure convenience: Look, people shop online all the time. If Twitter and their advertisers want people to get on board with this, they are going to have to offer some compelling deals … it’s really they only way they have to overcome the inertia and reputation of the biggest online retailers (cough cough Amazon cough) with a new service. So if there is a deal on something I am interested in, why not give me a chance to shop without interrupting my workflow, having to pop over to another app, sign in to another service, and then come back to where I was? Convenience is king … if you can get people into the swing of this with some irresistible deals early in the game, it’s a pretty safe bet that they stick around in the future when the prices are equal and the only tipping point is ease of use.

It’s also worth noting here that Twitter takes the time to both update users on TOS / Privacy changes and to make sure the documents are in fairly comprehensible language. There are a lot of companies that put the onus on the users to find out when changes are made (Microsoft comes to mind), locate the changes for themselves (hey, look, it’s Microsoft!) and couch the whole mess in layers of nearly-inpenetrable legalspeak (wow, Microsoft again). Twitter generally tries to play fair – hopefully they see some sort of payoff from that policy going forward.

How To Speak Bloomberg

Your typical National EnquirerA couple of weeks ago there was a bogus story posted on the Bloomberg news service claiming that Apple will be releasing a 12″ iPad today … this according to “sources familiar with the matter”. This, of course, is one of the two go-to phrases that Bloomberg writers use when they want to publish random shit and see what sticks to the wall. Since Bloomberg has a mystifyingly deep reach into the assorted news wires and mainstream publications, it’s worth learning to recognize their main clichés and what they really mean.

Bloomberg Cliché: “Analysts expect …”

Actual meaning: Bloomberg writers all have back-scratching deals with assorted financial analysts. In this case, one of the writer’s analyst buddies really wishes whatever it is will happen, and thinks that by getting it in print there is some way that they can affect the situation and make it come true. As you might expect, this never works.

Bloomberg Cliché: “A source familiar with the matter …” or “Someone with knowledge …”

Actual meaning: The writer in question is taking heat from their bosses for not generating enough clicks with their stories. To boost the click-count and to the the management off their back, the writer has fabricated something with enough cachet, shock value, or buzz-worthiness to get quoted around the net as news … but not so much buzz as to have people remember it when it turns out to not be true. Ideally, it gets a storm of clicks in the first 48 hours and then is completely forgotten a week later … and hopefully they don’t run into some asshole who brings it up again on his hacky blog the day of the actual event.

Because that would, you know, suck.

Everything You Need To Know About The NFL

The NFL, explained:

Spit in another dude’s face, get suspended four games.

Smoke some weed, get suspended eight games.

Beat the shit out of a woman in an elevator, get suspended two games.

All you need to know.

Celebrity Cloud Safety Guide

In the wake of the Great Celebrity Boring Nude Selfie Heist, people have been quick to point the blame at tech companies for having “crappy security settings” rather than the users who can’t be bothered to use – or complain like five-year olds about the supposedly onerous process to set up – the basic security tools that they have been given.

Fortunately, the various cloud providers have come together and developed this easy-to-use walkthrough for the average celebrity to help them manage this sensitive situation.
Celebrity Technology Safety ChartYou can click on the image for a full-size version that your friendly neighbourhood celebrity can copy, save, and print for their very own. Hey … every little bit helps.

Process Of Elimination

Some of my regular correspondents have asked what we will be seeing on September 9th. Rather than let the goodies out of the bag too early, let’s come at it from the backside and talk first about what we won’t be seeing. Why? Because anticipation is fun!

We Won’t Be Seeing: Any iOS devices with curved screens (NOTE: See caveat here).
Here’s Why: Curved screens require the use of OLED technology, and OLED screens look like crap. Over-the-top contrast, colours that come in your choice of “garish” or “eye-searing garish”, and horrid amounts of colour-addition artifacts are the hallmarks of OLED. Say what you want about Apple, but one thing that is undeniably a part of the corporate DNA is a serious passion for image quality. Unless they have secretly invented some new process for making curved screens out of non-hideous display material, expecting OLED on an Apple device is like expecting douche lights on a factory-new Maseratti.

We Won’t Be Seeing: A wearable device that looks like this.
Samsumg Galaxy Gear
Here’s Why: If your wearable device doesn’t add anything to the mobile devices it is partnered with, and in fact makes it more difficult to actually use some of the the basic functions, then you have failed, and failed miserably.
Here’s Why, Part Two: It’s fucking ugly.

We Won’t Be Seeing: Giant iPhones with six-inch screens.
Here’s Why: Because giant phones with screens six-inches or larger are generally unusable and moronic. You want a screen that big? Get a tablet.

We Won’t Be Seeing: A giant 12-inch iPad.
Here’s Why: Because a 12-inch tablet would be even more unusable and awkward than a six-inch phone. I mean, really.

iPhone 6 – September 9

The invite arrived today for the previously-rumoured-and-now-offical Apple event on September 6. The September events are the annual iPhone launches (and model refreshes for existing hardware) so it is no surprise that the iPhone 6 will be unveiled that day. There are two intriguing facets of this event, however, and they could signal that there is more in store that just the new phone.

Invitation to the Apple Event - September 9, 2014Thing One: Instead of Apple’s traditional “event” venues in San Francisco – the Yerba Buena Centre or the Moscone West –
this one is being held down in Cupertino. Twice in the past Apple has used the Flint Centre in Cupertino for product launches … once for the original Macintosh, and once for the first iMac. Two events, two revolutionary products. Is something in the works that will take that count to three-for-three?

Thing Two: Apple is building a custom building of some sort on the grounds of the Flint Centre. As of now, the thing is just a massive featureless cube and is surrounded with some serious security. What’s in it? Why is it needed? What will happen in the Cube Of Mystery that can’t be done in the main building?

Stay tuned through the week … there is much to discuss.

Glassholes No More

The buzz today out of Mountain View is that Google employees have been “unofficially” notified that Google Glass is being shitcanned.

Stay tuned.

Canada Day Ramblings, Part 2

Truth be told, I am not a Blue Jays fan. I like baseball, but my team is the Tigers. Grew up with the Tigers, love the Tigers, will be a Tigers fan until they shove me into a shallow grave.

Except on Canada Day.

Blue Jays, red shirts - it's Canada Day!I’m always ready to cheer for the Toronto nine on birthday of the nation simply because they bust out the awesome red-and-white togs and top it off with the big maple leaf on the cap. The Jays had to fight for years to get a home date and afternoon start time on Canada Day (major league baseball then, as now, was particularly brain-dead when it comes to the fact that Canada is not some small town in Iowa) and it’s only right to give the team their due for doing it right.

Canada Day Ramblings, Part 1

Don Cherry busting some rhymes in Rock Em Sock Em Hockey Vol. 5A constant source of Canadian awesomeness and pride is the depth and quality of our music. Forget Cleveland, it’s Canada that really rocks. The gang over at CBC Music obviously has the same thing in mind today, and they have started a month-long series of The 100 Best Canadian Songs Ever. 25 songs each week through the month of July, with links to songs and videos and a bit of perspective on each piece from fans and musicians alike.

As is natural with music the list is incredibly subjective, and there will be stuff that doesn’t really turn your crank … that’s part and parcel of living in such an incredibly diverse nation. But I do have to take issue with Jack Scott, a bona fide seminal genius, being buried in the bottom 10 of the list. Get a grip, people.

NOTE: Despite the photo, the Rock Em Sock Em Rap from “Don Cherry’s Rock Em Sock Em Hockey Vol. 5” is not on the list. Also, you probably shouldn’t click on the link in the previous sentence. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to everyone in our most excellent nation and to expat hosers all around the world! As we take a day to celebrate everything Canadian, there are two things worth mentioning:

The only athlete to score multiple medals in both Winter and Summer Olympic Games1 – Clara Hughes, the greatest Olympian of all time, rolls into Ottawa on the final day of Clara’s Big Ride. A worthy endeavor by one of the nicest and classiest people in any walk of life, and especially in the sporting world. Or course, the awesomeness of it all is slightly tempered by the fact that in every single picture and video clip from the entire tour, there’s Clara sitting on the back. Come on, Hughes, take a pull!

2 – People who think that Canada Day should be a floating holiday so that it is always on a Monday or Friday can go take a flying fuck at themselves. The holiday is about commemorating the date of the birth of our home and native land, not about getting a fucking long weekend. The country was founded on July 1. That’s when we have the holiday. End of discussion.