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a short rant on the “alternatives” to Windows Phone

tl;dr:

  • iPhone somehow nails “baroque yet oversimplified.”
  • Android is continuous assembly required and an engineer’s fetishized vision of security.
  • Winphone is usable, which remains the core function of a thing that’s going to go back in my pocket the moment I have something else to do. Which is ALL THE TIME. Stop making me use my phone. I got bills and shit.

I was surprised to find that the WinPhone (which I was replacing, but going from 7.1 to 8) was such a superior experience. I had assumed that perhaps my Microsoft time had blinded me to actual improvements in the other experiences, but there’s really just nothing there. 

Android really expects you to make your life about doing the work they decided not to do (design a usable UI), and do it all on the phone, which means you’re weeks into the “project” of owning their damn phone. Widgets for this and that, but they’re of different sizes, and things can’t always fit, and there’s multiple pages and each page can only hold so much…but they all have the same-ish wallpaper so i’m going to spend time swiping to find things I use all the time. All data trapped in apps. All contacts trapped in their respective ecosystems. But Google+ integration so I can be with the other three people left on G+ (and now Youtube). And connecting to any secured Exchange environment means audio notifications now mean nothing. Phone made a noise? I’ll look…and now I have to type in a password just to see what happened? and by that time the notification is gone and I’m now looking at everything that happened recently on my phone. or I can engineer the Notifications view (again, Google could have done this for me but didn’t). Everything works, just not together. But don’t worry, there will be an update soon which won’t hit your phone and won’t solve anything but will update some kernel thing somewhere that you don’t care about because NOTIFICATIONS STILL REQUIRE YOU TO SET THEM UP. 10 days with my ring and run phone and it went back to ATT.

[Update] Cyanogenmod is NOT a solution. There are those among my flock whose life is about creating a better technical experience. I use my phone, I don’t work on it. My phone is not a project. I expect a reasonable amount of configuration, but I will not tolerate a user experience that requires me to invest time and focus and energy in re-engineering the platform. [/update]

iPhone goes the other way: no need to design anything, we’ve extracted the choices and made none of them. it’s now 2013, Twitter just IPOed and the keyboard needs three clicks just to get to a hashtag? Fuck you. Every website I ever go to has an app, fine. You know what every website I ever go to also has? A GODDAMN WEBSITE. Unless you’re going to cache all of Imgur, why do I goddamn care there’s an Imgur app? and why does Imgur have to consume a third of the smallest screen in the smartphone marketplace to remind me of that app every damn time I go there. Oh, and voice commands…wow is that bullshit. Siri is…Siri likes to hear herself talk. What’s three commands in WinPhone’s less than perfect voice is six in Siri’s dulcet (and well-designed) tones.

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Joy weighs more than sorrow, pleasure louder than pain.

I’m not sure that religions started out based on a common good. When the concept of religion was being formed, the ideas of benefit and harm were very different then we have today. Harm was death by illness, starvation, injury, and benefit was…simply the absence of harm. To live to 5 was a blessing, to 30 a miracle. 

It’s taken us several million years to get to a point where there is such a thing as benefit defined as something more than the absence of pain, but we’re still wired to process the world in these pain/notpain terms. Cognitively, we overweight negative stimuli (be it physical injury or social slight) vs. positive stimuli (praise, success, joy, even orgasm). 

The world was already killing people through the usual methods. Additionally, people were killing each other as well, through the usual methods and for the usual reasons (either you wanted something and you killed for it, or someone else killed for something you wanted and you wanted it back). Shared resources and community living created a need to temper this behavior for the common good, but let’s not confuse the first steps toward the state monopoly on violence for virtue. Community rules started out as a way to minimize blowback from naturally occurring violence among community members, and to temper naturally occurring ingroup violence by targeting outsiders for attack/violence/taking. Religion merely augmented this by adding a service component; now you were no longer serving your community by killing outsider or not killing insiders, you were serving Baal or Loki or your ancestors or the house of Atreus. 

God was the first “countrymen,” the first “stockholders.” the first “customers,” the first call to action, the first rhetorical flourish. Before God, there was “we.” But “we” was real and confirmable, and could possibly disagree with you in your quest for your neighbor’s bedpartner. God, unconfirmable, absent, silent, inviolate and uninvokable, the accidental child of a humanity that discovered pain before joy, became the excuse we shared for our inevitable crimes against our fellow man in service to our perceived injustices.

And so it continues, from father to son, mother to daughter, until we hold our joy with equal weight to our sorrow, and eventually turn away from pain and toward joy, and discount pain as accident and joy as deserved. It is through joy that we can let go of God, and embrace joy as the first principle of the next society.

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joy is more important than sorrow. we must learn to see pleasure in abundance and pain as accident.

I’m not sure that religions started out based on a common good. When the concept of religion was being formed, the ideas of benefit and harm were very different then we have today. Harm was death by illness, starvation, injury, and benefit was…simply the absence of harm. To live to 5 was a blessing, to 30 a miracle. 

It’s taken us several million years to get to a point where there is such a thing as benefit defined as something more than the absence of pain, but we’re still wired to process the world in these pain/notpain terms. Cognitively, we overweight negative stimuli (be it physical injury or social slight) vs. positive stimuli (praise, success, joy, even orgasm). 

The world was already killing people through the usual methods. Additionally, people were killing each other as well, through the usual methods and for the usual reasons (either you wanted something and you killed for it, or someone else killed for something you wanted and you wanted it back). Shared resources and community living created a need to temper this behavior for the common good, but let’s not confuse the first steps toward the state monopoly on violence for virtue. Community rules started out as a way to minimize blowback from naturally occurring violence among community members, and to temper naturally occurring ingroup violence by targeting outsiders for attack/violence/taking. Religion merely augmented this by adding a service component; now you were no longer serving your community by killing outsider or not killing insiders, you were serving Baal or Loki or your ancestors or the house of Atreus. 

God was the first “countrymen,” the first “stockholders.” the first “customers,” the first call to action, the first rhetorical flourish. Before God, there was “we.” But “we” was real and confirmable, and could possibly disagree with you in your quest for your neighbor’s bedpartner. God, unconfirmable, absent, silent, inviolate and uninvokable, the accidental child of a humanity that discovered pain before joy, became the excuse we shared for our inevitable crimes against our fellow man in service to our perceived injustices.

And so it continues, from father to son, mother to daughter, until we hold our joy with equal weight to our sorrow, and eventually turn away from pain and toward joy, and discount pain as accident and joy as deserved. It is through joy that we can let go of God, and embrace joy as the first principle of the next society.

Link

A review system is of course only as good as the people who implement it. SOME change was definitely needed in the process; the amount of commitment engineering and review shenanigans inherent in the prior model (priming promotions with good reviews rather than just promoting people at midyear and then reviewing them against their new peers, as just one example) were legion. 

What’s been implemented is essentially all the worst “innovations” of the prior system with none of the constraints that made the system honest and investment oriented. I think it will work well for the business minded and sales minded of the company. Where it won’t work is where MS needs to be strongest: the technologist community. They will leave in droves for companies that focus on a way to reward employees who don’t play games with their reviews, and walk into their career 1-1’s, MYCI’s and annual reviews looking for actual constructive feedback on their work and their creative product, not prepared to play their part in a two-person theatrical production. They’ll leave for the dozens of startups and innovative companies that Microsoft bore in the 90’s in Seattle, and they’ll bring with them their experiences of bad reviews and good performance, and they’ll succeed elsewhere. 

And MS will slowly continue its accidental transformation into the largest competitor to IBM Global Services. 

I don’t want to be right about this. I’d rather MS take the chin music from Amazon, Google, and Oracle’s threats to the Windows, Office, and S&T product lines, get up off the mat, and get back to the mission: deliver amazing experiences that bring people together, get them talking and solving problems, and get them home to their families and loved ones to talk more and enjoy themselves more. Bill’s dream was the magic of software for everyone, free from the constraints of politics, technical trickery, and access. Unfortunately, chasing revenue rather than marketshare, chasing the big deals instead of the strategic ones (they’re not always the same, although sometimes they are), and sacrificing user experience for customer experience has taken its toll, and our competitors aren’t hampered by any love of the previous versions of their products like MS is with Windows Desktop, Office Desktop, and on-prem server offerings. 

Every year we say we’re going to make the hard choices, but we’ve punted every time, with limited localization of the cloud offerings, the hal-measure hybrid model of Windows/Azure, SQL/Azure, etc. wrapped in the stunning marketing move that was “We’re All In The Cloud” (which says we have no idea what we’re doing, not some clever poker metaphor). The review process was yet another hard choice punted to adjust marketing to what we were already doing, as if that’s leadership. It’s not. It’s extraordinarily well-compensated executives repainting lines and moving goalposts and collecting their winnings in a game they’ve been playing so long they don’t know it’s a game anymore. 

Microsoft needs to get used to the idea that every year from now on could be the year it all ends. Microsoft is not forever.

Link

There’s a long long history and tradition of religious violence, which exists within a larger bin of human violence of any sort. These ads aren’t any of that. This isn’t “targeting”. If it is, then so is direct mail, and subscribed email newsletters that get your name right and actually come from businesses you do business with.

Muslims were slaughtered and tortured wholesale during the Inquisition, among other atrocities. Jews had their Holocaust, among other atrocities. Billboards, like any other speech, are just speech. I recognize just like any other reasonably intelligent person that there might be a line that’s crossed with some speech, and while I admit this line exists, these ads are nowhere even CLOSE to this. 

It is not a crime to offend Jews, or to offend Muslims, or Christians, or even atheists. This ad is not intended to offend, nor does it actually offend. It states that Jews and Muslims have a choice, and they do. It makes one statement of the fact that their respective gods are a myth (the fact that these two believe in one god that is the same god but isn’t the same god (put a little birdhouse in your soul) is an ironic side effect of all mythology; if the Romans and Greeks were around they’d get a kick out of all of this), and if that’s offensive, then so is any ad that makes a metaphoric claim of any kind. 

And here’s the core of it: religious beliefs are like any other beliefs. If I believe that BMW motorcycles are the best dual sport bikes in the world, that’s fine. When Yamaha produces a large-displacement dual-sport that challenges this notion and calls it a BMW beater, says it’s better than my Beemer, I don’t call my Congressman or beat my breast or rend my garments or say Yamaha doesn’t respect my beliefs. I don’t do these things because MY BELIEFS ARE NOT SPECIAL TO ANYONE BUT ME. This is the nature of belief, and it always has been. William James called belief “noetic”, meaning unable to be taught or communicated. Belief is not portable. Belief is personal. You may think that others believe as you do, but if you think this, you accept that your belief is not noetic, that it is commonplace and accessible and “just there.”

I have said many things about belief, but I’ve never thought once that someone’s religious beliefs are commonplace; it takes a religion to make belief commonplace, and I don’t have one of those.

Finally: Oliver Willis and a couple others picked this story up and threw it on Twitter earlier today and I took to the Twitterz and started speaking in response. This is important; when someone says atheists are “targeting” Jews and Muslims, one might get the impression that atheists are doing something to Jews and Muslims, something that affects Jews and Muslims in some way, perhaps even something that damages Jews and Muslims in some way. So I spoke up in defense of these ads, which were being mischaracterized by CNN (and while I haven’t looked yet, I’m sure other news outlets soon) as “targeting Jews and Muslims.” Oliver Willis called us “jerks” for putting up such ads. Blasphemy is a crime against god, i.e. when you say something and god is all pissed off. The word for calling people jerks for doing something they didn’t do is “liar” and “asshole” and “Rush Limbaugh.” Yes, Oliver, I’m talking to you.

Photo
nicowuzhere:

jacqui-the-redhead:

cloudsandtonfas:

hannahbananafeefifofanna:

secretasianwoman:

boohoogulu:

orangelemonartt:

lilmisspeacock:

doctorscottie:

albinos-and-skinny-jeans:

hear-my-awesome-rawr:

xmapleburgerdruggedx:

wishywashie:

requiempormicordura:

my-sleeping-refuge:

Mulan is the fucking best as always

That’s why Mulan was always my favourite :)

Well technically mulan got her own guy too… but she’s still one of my faves :-)
YEHHH MULAN

PROUD OF YOU MULAN

BEST PRINCESS

YOU SAVED THE FAMILY HONOR.

Just the way that’s delivered. SAVED CHINA. Ahahahaha.

MULAN.
<3

THIS. THIIIS. SAVED CHINA. Oh yeah, Mulan.

FUCK YEAH MULAN! BRINGING HONOR TO US ALL!! 

FUCK YES MULAN. 

yes Mulan is the best

Mulan: Her “prince” stayed for dinner. x]

MULAN FTW!!!!!

nicowuzhere:

jacqui-the-redhead:

cloudsandtonfas:

hannahbananafeefifofanna:

secretasianwoman:

boohoogulu:

orangelemonartt:

lilmisspeacock:

doctorscottie:

albinos-and-skinny-jeans:

hear-my-awesome-rawr:

xmapleburgerdruggedx:

wishywashie:

requiempormicordura:

my-sleeping-refuge:

Mulan is the fucking best as always

That’s why Mulan was always my favourite :)

Well technically mulan got her own guy too… but she’s still one of my faves :-)

YEHHH MULAN

PROUD OF YOU MULAN

BEST PRINCESS

YOU SAVED THE FAMILY HONOR.

Just the way that’s delivered. SAVED CHINA. Ahahahaha.

MULAN.

<3

THIS. THIIIS. SAVED CHINA. Oh yeah, Mulan.

FUCK YEAH MULAN! BRINGING HONOR TO US ALL!! 

FUCK YES MULAN. 

yes Mulan is the best

Mulan: Her “prince” stayed for dinner. x]

MULAN FTW!!!!!

(Source: seasick-still-docked)

Video

Katy Perry - Firework vs. E.T. (Mashup) (by Anthony70099)

Several years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Lawrence Lessig in person giving what is now a pretty famous presentation (both for form and for content) about remix, content, and copyright. It’s essentially a rant about how legal frameworks always fail to adapt quickly enough to creative activity, and so what business calls “innovation” (creative rulebreaking that redefines the domain) is called “criminality” in the legal space. This isn’t a blanket endorsement of all illegal activity, but rather a call to action to be more than the total of our outdated legal rulesets, and to empower the judicial system to adapt the legal framework in realtime by being more educationed and aware of the real implications of rote implementation of the existing ruleset.

Why say any of this? Because…because I absolutely love mashups. Can’t get enough of them. Seriously. When Sue Sylvester went crazy and bullied everyone and I almost stopped watching Glee, mashup week got me through. I’ve just plowed through sixteen Katy Perry mashups and I’m looking for more. The video above is a Katy Perry/Katy Perry mashup (yes someone mashed up TWO of the same artist’s songs) and it’s brilliant. 

When Slate and Salon first started charging for their content online, I subscribed; my logic was simply that if you can write this well, you shouldn’t have to find another job to feed you. If being this creative can’t feed you, then we’ve reached the end. I feel the same way about this. 

A final note: I’ve done little research on SOPA, and know only that GoDaddy is in on it, and that with no exceptions no one I respect is in favor of it. I’m going to research it now and likely my next post will be about that.

Photo
meloo:

Unimpressed Astronaut
Still want new iPhone.

meloo:

Unimpressed Astronaut

Still want new iPhone.

Video

These kids are all around us. They’re in our schools. They’re in our homes. They’re in our workplaces having grown up and gotten jobs and responsiblities and houses and cars and relationships and they ache to simply look at another person and say: I feel broken, but I don’t want to be broken. And to have that person say, me too, and let’s work on that together. 

Sharing on this level is extraordinarily hard. This kid is going to go through some more hell as his YouTube video gets commented on and reposted and haters without remorse, humanity or scruple pile on from their safely anonymous Internet bunkers. 

But you can do something else. You can tell this kid it’s ok. You can tell him he’s ok, that he will be more than this, that his life will be more than this. And you can look for his peers among you. 

We all have demons, the voices and tendencies inside us that tell us we can’t, won’t, shouldn’t belong. No matter how quiet those voices are, when surrounded by the echoing multitude of insensitivity, bigotry, and yeah-whatever dismissal, they can reach a fever pitch that can take you down.

But not forever. You might even lose a weekend to these bastards. But don’t you think for a second their ability to not give a shit is greater than your ability to give a shit. 

Be strong. Be well. Be safe, and be heartened in knowing that others struggle as you do, and we will have your back. 

And for those that are being shitheads on the YT comments, there was a time when you were smaller and others carried you. Be not proud of your ability to beat on a kid from the Internet; you’re weak and you would matter if you chose to. This kid’s gonna make it and you’re going to watch him do it and you’ll have done nothing to help and that’s entirely your choice…and your sentence. 

Whats goin on.. (by BlahBlahBlah2145)

Link

I’ve got many responses to the recent revelations of NY SAT test-takers having other students take the SAT for them for money (higher prices yield higher grades). One is that it’s sad that there’s that there’s so much pressure to do well on the SAT (high stakes testing, Bing that shit) that it’s actually CREATING INNOVATION in student behavior — which we’d reward if we weren’t so focused on the fact that they’re breaking rules no one understands other than “the SAT is the standard for all academic achievement everywhere” even though it isn’t.

Another take: the kids taking the test are being named, since they’re not minors, but the kids who hired them aren’t being named, because they are minors. Never mind that the minors are the ones actually requesting the service and driving the market. Contrast for example with the drug market, where we punish consumers and comparatively rarely find/punish dealers.

Finally, also related to the issue around minors, I wonder if NY will punish these minors as adults (i.e. does minor = juvenile in this case)? We know that for a variety of offenses juveniles have been tried and convicted and have served time as adults; the crime isn’t really the factor generally as much as race and class, which is why I’m guessing we’ll never hear about these innovative SAT proxy-seekers again, until later when they break more rules with even more money. Getting someone to take a college-entrance exam is a pretty high-class crime…doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to note that we’re hearing from their legal representation already, and that each one of them is making the case that the crime wasn’t a crime, that it should have been handled within the school, and that these are just kids.

Bullshit. Punish them, but nnovate on their innovation (that is the American way after all): I recommend two years at a local community college, along with community service spent mentoring and teaching aspiring highschoolers how to take and do well on the SAT.

As for the test-takers themselves, take a hint from the NSA and send them off to the ETS to help revise and fix the SAT. The core issue here is their exploit of a broken security system; the SAT is essentially a high-cost blind authenticator, designed to identify candidates for colleges who neither colleges nor candidates can identify themselves. If you can choose what score you want to get on the test, two things are true:

  • These kids clearly have a functionally infinite amount of whatever it is the SAT measures.
  • The SAT doesn’t measure what we as a society want it to measure.

So let’s fix it. And if at the next waypoint we find that high-stakes testing like the SAT has perverse effects (like this), then perhaps we should figure out how to actually identify the kinds of people we want to get access to higher education. Because while we caught these guys, every one of the folks at Goldman Sachs, Lehman, and the rest of the high-profile master of the universe responsible for our economic debacle probably did pretty damn well on the SAT.