It’s also available on Amazon, where you can buy the damn thing on DVD or Blu Ray, buy the damn thing as a digital video, or rent the damn thing and stream it. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can watch the damn thing for free.
Just see the damn movie. Because it’s a terrific damn movie. I’ve been burbling about it to every friend I’ve seen for the past week. It’s a beautifully-shot documentary about an 85-year-old sushi master in Tokyo, and his tiny, nine-seat restaurant that has won a rating of three Michelin stars. A three-star Michelin rating means “this restaurant is so good, it’s worth a special trip across the planet.”
And Jiro has won a kind of awestruck respect from chefs and restauranteurs. The reputations of Jiro’s rice merchant and his fish merchant are elevated by virtue of the fact that Jiro regards their wares as acceptable. His apprentices are moved to tears by even a basic acknowledgment of competence, and no wonder: the greatest sushi chef in the world is telling them that their work is good enough to be served in the best sushi restaurant there is.
Like all great documentaries, it revolves around an idea that is universal. There’s nothing flashy or unconventional about Jiro’s sushi. You won’t find Hot Dog Chocolate Chip Pancake Sushi on his restaurant’s menu. His entire reputation was built on doing something as well as any human being probably ever will. And he got there by always, always, always challenging his own work, and seeking higher standards.
Creative people can take this line of thinking to selfish extremes. You can use “perfectionism” as an excuse for abusing the people over whom you have power, and making sure that your authority is absolute and unmistakeable. In truth, it doesn’t really matter weather or not a sofa on a movie set is “coffee brown” or “chocolate brown” but who else on the set has the power to shut down the whole schedule while the decorator scrambles to replace the sofa that Isn’t Up To Standard? Yup…the director. It feels great to shout at people, and make them do things not because they actually need to be done, but because you shouted at them and you’re the boss. That’s why small, weak people do that sort of think a lot. But they claim it’s because they’re “perfectionists.”
Similarly, every word that you write and every brush stroke that you paint and every note you play and record is perfect and beyond reproach…until you declare “OK, it’s done” and put it in front of an audience. And so, creative people often keep telling themselves “Dammit, it’s just not ready” out of fear of rejection. And thus, their work stays hidden, protected from the purifying effects of sunlight. This kind of fear is rational and understandable. But if you keep telling yourself “I won’t show my work to people until it’s perfect,” you’re just making an excuse.
Note that even Jiro doesn’t seek “perfection.” He achieved perfection by always seeking “an improvement over my last.”
“Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” makes me want to create more, and create better. It makes me question my standards, and want to raise the bar higher.
It also makes me want to be less precious about what I do, and be more comfortable with finishing and publishing something I’m not entirely happy with. Letting go of a failure frees you to move on to a new project, which you can attack with fresh knowledge.
It also makes me want to go get sushi. I’m sure even the two chefs at my local independent market take pride in what they do. Just don’t tell Jiro that they only massage the octopus for 30 minutes instead of 45.
Same as before. One of the photos in this group was shot with an iPhone 5. The others were shot with other phones…and one was shot with a conventional camera. For the big finale, I’ve expanded the lineup to seven perps instead of just five:
(Click on the image to go to Flickr and embiggen. Come back to comment.)
And just like before, I haven’t made any changes to exposure, color, or sharpness. All I’ve done is crop the same section of each photo and scale it to 300×400 pixels for comparison.
Which is your favorite? And can you spot the iPhone 5 image?
Thanks for all of your comments, by the way. This isn’t a scientific test by any means, but all of these subjective reactions to these side-by-side comparisons are very useful to me.
My three-part review of the iPhone 5 begins tomorrow…with a discussion of the iPhone 5′s camera. When the column hits the web, I’ll publish the answers to each of these little quizzes.
Finally — at least as far as these little Quizzes are concerned — is my test of low-light performance. This feller is in a shadowy corner of an unlit hallway.
As before, none of these have been modified in any way, apart from a crop. Oh, and: apparently I was careless and only used four cameras on this. But I promise you that one of these four was shot with an iPhone 5.
And now we’ve finally reached The Boston Public Library, the site of so many of my standard test photos. I take two shots here in Bates Hall. The first is a straight shot down the middle of the hall; this is the second. Why aren’t I using the first one in this quiz?
Because: (oh dear) two of the cameras failed to take a usable photo. Too blurry. My usual protocol is to take three in a row, and then use the best of the three for comparison with other cameras. Nope…these two cameras screwed up three times.
Well, let’s just take a look at View 2 then. As with the others: I’ve made no adjustments to exposure, color, or sharpness. I’ve just cropped the file that came out of the camera.
(Click to visit Flickr and embiggen. Come on back here to comment.)
Which is your favorite?
Which one do you think was shot with the iPhone 5?
What…you think I’d entitle the Washington post “Part 1″ and not have more?
Here’s you’re next case, Angels. The same shot taken five times with the same five imaging devices as the Washington photo. One of these was shot with an iPhone 5. The rest were shot with devices available in stores today. Click the image to visit Flickr and see an embiggened version. Come back here for comments.
I’ve made no edits to exposure, color, or sharpness…I just cropped a section out for close examination.
I’m still chugging along on my big iPhone 5 review. And because Apple takes photography as seriously as a camera company does, part of the testing involves taking lots and lots of comparison photos. I don’t publish all of them. But all of them help me to understand what Apple’s done to improve the iPhone as a picture-taker.
Witness this image right here, which I present straight from the camera without any adjustment. I just cropped it a bit and rescaled it to 1600×1200.
It might be an iPhone 5 photo.
It might be from one of the 4 other Gadgets Capable Of Shooting Photos that I carried with me on Saturday. I took many, many photos five at a time, to see where to put the iPhone 5 in the spectrum of Image Awesomeness.
I think I’ll have my review ready for posting tomorrow. It might be a bit later. “Better to get things right than to get things first,” I always say, because it’s good journalism and also cuts down on the 5 PM to 6 AM work sessions.
Until then, why don’t you look at a zoomed in section of all five images? Each device is available in stores today; as amusing as it might be to try to trick someone into saying that they thought an 8-year-old Sony Ericsson outperformed Apple’s latest and greatest…I didn’t dip into my hardware morgue. I will only say that one was shot with an iPhone, and each image was taken with either a phone or a conventional camera.
(Click to go to Flickr and embiggen the image. Come back here to discuss.)
As with the full photo, each of these croppings comes straight from the device with no adjustments to color, exposure, sharpness or anything else. Which is your favorite?
And which one was shot with the iPhone 5? Are they one and the same?
Yeah, you’ve seen the video of Romney’s fundraising gaffe. Or should we call it a gaffe? It was a private function for megabuck donors. A “gaffe” is when you say something you didn’t fully intend to say. The campaign’s actual error here was in not having the forethought to confiscate cellphones from everyone entering the room who makes less than a couple million bucks a year.
The video underscores my earlier take on Romney. I think he lacks a few critical plugins in his personal OS:
Empathy. The ability to understand the feelings in others. The capacity to understand the desperation of someone who steals to support a drug habit, without condoning the crime itself. Or in this case: understanding that people who have led very different lives from your own have completely different problems than yours.
Accountability. The knowledge that you and only you are responsible for your actions, and that the repercussions of those actions are yours to deal with and yours alone. Fully-functioning adults don’t shield themselves from repercussions by wrapping themselves in layers of bureaucracy or anonymity.
The ability to observe one’s own thoughts and actions objectively. You need to take two or three steps outside of your body and try to observe your words and actions the way an outside observer might. When what you’re saying is right, it’ll let you figure out how to deliver your message clearly. When you’re wrong…reading your words objectively can prevent you from saying them in the first place.
I’ll illustrate all of these things in a single example. A branch office has been losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, forever. The owner of the business has tried everything to turn it around, and nothing’s worked. He knows that he has to drive down there today, close down the office, and put 80 people out of work.
A fully-functional individual knows that (1) the lives of these 80 people are going to be in tatters at the end of the day, and for employees whose family members have ongoing illnesses, the news will seem devastating; (2) much of the blame will be leveled at him, sometimes correctly, sometimes not; (3) perhaps today he should drive the SUV he usually takes the kids to school in, and not pull up to the branch office in his brand-new $280,000 supercar.
Well, I’ll tell you why I called, Governor. I got a message that you weren’t happy with tomorrow’s travel arrangements?
…You’d rather use your own transportation from the airport? What transportation is that, Mitt?
…Okay. I guess I should explain some of the logistics we’re dealing with. You’re under Secret Service protection, Mitt. They’re the ones who suggested the black Escalade. It’s comfortable, and it’s bulletproof, and they can put three other cars exactly like it in the motorcade, to make you safer. I don’t know where the Secret Service would even find three other white elephants topped with ivory coaches with leopard-upholstered seats.
…Oh. You’d just lend the campaign three of your spares. That’s…that’s good problem-solving, Mitt. I just don’t think the visual will help us much with middle class voters. We…
…”Middle class,” Mitt.
…Voters with a combined household income of less than $250,000 a year?
Right, I suppose “waiters and drug addicts” are…part of…that group, too. Just remember that I told you you shouldn’t say things like that in public.
…What’s that, Mitt?
…You just said something exactly like that in public. Could…could you hold the line for a minute, Governor?
Kathy? Could you pick up the extension? Mitt just said “The middle class is just how we honest, working people politely refer to waiters and drug addicts” again. Could you send the full response team to…
Where were you when you said that, Mitt?
…Yeah, Kathy, send them over to the Jimmy Buffett concert in Atlanta. If we’re lucky, he’ll let the Governor go back onstage and lead the Pledge of Allegiance again. And Kathy? When they’re done, just for laughs, um, why don’t you make sure the team is at the Make-A-Wish event. Get them there ahead of the Governor, okay? Thanks, Kath.
Mitt? Thanks for standing by. The point is that these people do vote, Mitt, and I don’t think they’ll react well to seeing you riding atop a line of elephants marching from the Airport to the downtown Hilton.
Oh, you weren’t going to have them marching after all. That’s just great, Mitt. I’m sorry I didn’t get your little joke…
…You want them to be carried.
…Carried In gold, elephant-sized sedan chairs.
…Carried in gold, elephant-sized sedan chairs by people on Welfare and Medicaid, because “as it is we’re just paying them to sit around and do nothing.”
You’re a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives and for whatever reason, you’ve decided it’s time to go.
Great ways to leave Congress:
1) Some sort of disease
This one’s hard to top, particularly if you’ve managed to stay in office for ten, twenty, or thirty years and in that time, have developed a reputation as an effective servant of the people and a reliable advocate for the disenfranchised. Because although it’s inevitable that you will have made some bad decisions and some enemies during your time in office, anybody who chooses to bring that up before your first posthumous biography is published will look like a total dick.
Dying from something that’s inoperable sucks, no question. But there’s definitely a silver lining.
2) Cash out and burn the bridge behind you
You spend your penultimate year in office researching and writing up a master list of every source of grift, graft, and grease that a member of Congress can legally pursue. It’s a long list. Let’s just say you keep your attorneys researching what you can absolutely get away with, and then you cut the list off after a year. You then spend your final year sticking your hands as deep into the till as you can get them. As a member of Congress, your sources of legal graft are similarly endless, but again, if you don’t set a firm deadline for the project you’ll never finish it.
When the year’s up and you’re fifty times wealthier than Scrooge McDuck, you call a press conference. Have a staffer leak that you intend to spend more time with your family. Better, but riskier: leak that you’ve contracted something inoperable. At the press conference, curtains part to reveal you sitting naked in a huge claw-footed bathtub filled with money, on a thick platform. You are wearing a tall, bejeweled crown and an enormous gold medallion. “Not only is it impossible to prosecute me for any of this,” you laugh, after explaining where the money came from, “but now I’m so goddamn rich that I’ve placed myself far beyond the reach of any earthly justice. So long, losers!!!”
You and the tub and the platform roll away. During your stately loop of the press room before rumbling out into the street, cameras note that the steam engine propelling the tub is being fed by a formally-attired butler, who shovels stack after stack of hundred dollar bills into it.
You’ll leave office with a huge pile of money. And a jaded populace will say “At least that one was completely honest about why he got into politics.” You will be able to parlay this grudging but sincere respect into a successful local chain of Rich Bastard Congressman Steak And Ribs restaurants.
3) The Bucket List
Freedom’s just another word for “I’m not running for reelection.” Spend the remaining few years of your term making fun of the Distinguished Senator’s obvious comb-over. When you’re on one of the Sunday morning news programs, amiably inform someone that they’re completely full of crap when they are, in fact, completely full of crap. Introduce one-page bills that say “All sick children should receive medical treatment,” almost solely to make other Senators and Congresspeople squirm when they explain why they aren’t supporting it.
“No, I voted against federal bailout funds for our 73-year-old roller skate factory,” you could tell your constituents, during a Town Hall meeting. “When was the last time you even saw a kid wearing one of these metal skates clamped onto their street shoes? It’s a mercy killing. Secondly, the owners have run this damn thing so deep into the ground that I wonder if the plan was to have it re-emerge in China. But that couldn’t be the case, because that would mean they were sharp enough businesspeople to realize how much cheaper these products would be to manufacture over there.
“Oh, and before I take your next question: let me tell you all how much extra the average American is willing to pay for a product just because it has a ‘Made In The USA’ sticker on the box…” And here you hold the microphone against your butt and punctuate your point in a dramatic and unequivocal fashion.
Say ridiculous things like “Sorry: we can’t guarantee you that the chance of being killed by terrorists will ever be zero. You’ll have to be satisfied with jillion-to-one odds.” And “Christ almighty! I’m your Congressperson, not your Dad. So long as I’m doing my job well, why should you even care that I cheated on my wife two years ago?” Or “All of these big flags in such a small space makes me uncomfortable. Doesn’t this room remind you a little of the opening ceremonies of the Berlin Olympics?”
(After a few weeks of this, you might be tempted to hire Aaron Sorkin to write some of your speeches and most of your off-the-cuff remarks. Resist that urge. Nobody will believe that an actual person would ever say any of those things under any circumstances. If you absolutely must pursue this idea, make sure that you budget and staff the project accordingly. Your regular Starbucks guy will definitely not provide you with the perfect casual setup for a two-minute monologue linking America’s lack of involvement in the Syrian crisis with Reagan-era deficit spending. You’re definitely going to need to put your own guy behind the counter.)
In the end, you’ll be the first lawmaker to read the opening three pages of “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” into the Congressional Record while wearing full scuba gear. Which is definitely worth something. As is pointing out that everybody involved in every level of the political process is somehow culpable for its problems.
4) The Yoda Exit
Hard to pull off, but worth the effort. Step One: get elected to the House or Senate. Step Two: Repeat Step One seven to twelve times without losing an election or dying. Step Three: be one of those members of Congress who can pretty much do whatever they want because they’re 90 years old and kind of adorable and yes, you rarely say anything that makes any sense but everyone figures that Death has been circling your building for the past three years looking for a place to park, so why be the person who works hard to get an adorable tiny old guy out of a job?
Three days after a Congressional page notices the change in the smell from your office, lots of people will line up to say nice things about you. They won’t even bother mentioning the fact that the last time you actually appeared on the Senate floor was four years ago, and even then all you did was complain about how “the TV clickers are much more complicated than they used to be.”
5) Ex-Congressperson With Benefits
Remember, you can’t collect unemployment insurance if you voluntarily quit. You need to do something to get yourself fired. And that’s no easy feat when you’re working as a Congressman. Almost anything that would get you fired from Walmart is perfectly aboveboard (see Suggestion One).
Furthermore, the populace has such low expectations from our elected officials these days that we just can’t whack up the motivation to put together the tar, feathers, and a rail necessary to run a Senator out of town. If you were to drop your pants at a state fair and violate a butter sculpture of a goat, we’d still patiently wait for you to play the “My lovely daughter Joycelyn needs some dental work and I’ve chosen to resign my seat so that I can properly focus on my family during this difficult medical crisis” card.
No, you really have to throw your shoulder into it. Don’t go halfway. Claim that if a so-called “rape” victim is impregnated by her “attacker,” then it almost certainly wasn’t really rape because women’s bodies don’t work that way. And that even in those freakishly-rare cases when the “victim” isn’t lying, she should carry the fertilized egg to term anyway.
That’ll do it for sure. Have your driver take you right from your Congressional offices to the Unemployment Office and then begin your cozy new lifestyle of sitting on your sofa, rockin’ the Playstation and waiting for that next sweet check to come in. Ka-CHING!
So I can only offer my congratulations to Congressman Akin, and my sympathies to anybody who encounters “JerkJiggler696969″ in “Call Of Duty: Black Ops.” The man is about to finally secure the free time he needs to become one seriously dangerous mofo.
For the rest of us, let’s take a step back and recap what’s happened. A deeply stupid man in a position of great power and influence over the lives of all Americans demonstrates his codswalloping ignorance and idiocy. “This man should be run out of office,” you think. “He should never, ever be allowed anywhere near the dashboard of democracy. He’s such a complete moron that he shouldn’t even be allowed to stand behind a commercial deep-fryer while wearing a paper ‘Trainee’ hat.”
And then it turns out that the entire world agrees with you. Nobody, but nobody, is supporting him or giving him cover. Even his own political party is damn-near demanding that he drop out of politics. The lone voice of GOP support of any kind comes from a Republican congressman who has offered the use of his Dad’s Chevy van on the day he needs to clear out his Congressional office.
More than that: it’s not even sufficient for lawmakers to respectfully decline comment. Politicians of all sides are lining up in front of cameras and microphones to publicly underscore the fact that as deeply divisive and ideological modern politics has become, as desperate as both parties are to appeal to every last dark, crusty corner of their respective voting base, there is in fact a line that no politician dares to cross, and a calibre of stupidity that mustn’t be tolerated.
You know what? I worry that any minute now, Woody Allen is going to look into the camera and say “Boy, if only real life were like this!”
Yup, I’ve been following the court proceedings almost as closely as I’ve been following the Olympics. “Almost,” only because NBC isn’t broadcasting it 20 hours a day. On the plus side, if NBC were covering it, we’d be getting our news 9 hours after it actually happened.
Many folks have pointed to this document (and attendant internal quotes from Samsung, describing the need for a real “come to Jesus” moment for their smartphones) as a smoking gun. Aha! Slide after slide, comparing a different element of the iPhone and its software to the Galaxy! Prepare to line up for the spanking machine, Samsung executive board!
I’m not so sure. I’ve read most of it. A credible interpretation is that this document represents a company’s frank and unflinching evaluation of the limitations of their own products. Each slide and photo and user element is carefully annotated and scrutinized. Even though this was an internal report never intended for outside eyes, nearly every note is a smart observation. What does the user expect at this point in the interface? What’s the most important function? What are the points of confusion in the Galaxy interface? It seems as though most of these notes points out a mistake that the Galaxy’s designers made, and teaches a broader lesson that Samsung should learn, as opposed to just blandly adding another item to the “Steal This Element” list. Nearly every recommended action item seems to say “We should make our phone better,” not “We should make our phone look like the iPhone.”
Does this document point to outright theft? Fortunately, two companies (whose annual profits somewhat exceed my own) are paying lots of people (much smarter than me) to argue that one out.
Sometimes, a company looks at the competition’s work and thinks “Wow. We got smoked. Why aren’t our own products that good? What do we need to do to improve them?” As I read through this document, it’s hard for me to push that third possibility from my mind. I don’t think it’s a smoking gun at all. Just another data point, subject to interpretation.
Hopefully, Dear Reader, you understood that this idea of “fighting hatred” by buying a bag of Oreos or eating a burrito was quite obviously Deliberate Facetiousness In The Service Of Humor.
And I’m not advocating boycotts, either. I don’t think they work. Furthermore, you’re only responsible for your own choices and you shouldn’t sign on to further someone else’s agendas. I also feel sorry for Chick-Fil-A franchisees. Most of them are neutral on the issue of same-sex marriage at minimum. It seems unfair that they now have to deal with blowback on an issue that has nothing to do with their ability to make and serve hot sandwiches. They have plenty of reason to be pretty damned pissed off at the actions of the company’s COO.
The LGBT community has to deal with real hatred. Yup, the country has become far more accepting of nontraditional couples. But even though the majority of the populace accepts same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage (if polls can be believed), many such couples don’t dare hold hands when they walk down the street, except when they’re in places that are known to be LGBT-friendly. They’ve been forced to deal with pinheaded ignorance, open hostility, and the threat of violence all their lives. They have no idea if the person coming up towards them on the sidewalk is going to react to the sight of two men hugging by spitting on them…or by doing far, far worse. That’s the reality.
People like me can’t appreciate how fundamental that kind of disapproval is. I’m not the only straight person who’s been chased down a street by people shouting the word “faggot” at me and intending to do me bodily harm. But even during my worst month in junior high, I never ever for even a minute worried that maybe someone I don’t even know will take one look at me and immediately want to kick my ass just on principle. That’s the difference.
Secondly, the COO of Chick-Fil-A doesn’t get a free pass just because his actions and opinions are grounded in his religious beliefs.
But let’s rewind a bit. It’s important to point out that he actually doesn’t need to justify his beliefs at all. Not to me, not to Chick-Fil-A customers, not to anybody. He has every right to his opinion.
The problem isn’t that he has an unpopular opinion. The problem isn’t even that it’s an opinion that I happen to think is indefensible. The problem is that he’s actively trying to restrict other people’s rights. And that’s why this man needs to defend his choices.
The marriage of two gents or two ladies doesn’t affect his life one tiny bit. But: the millions of dollars he spends to ban same-sex marriage affects millions of lives directly. It hurts innocent people immensely.
Not having a legally-recognized relationship with your life partner can have devastating consequences during a medical emergency, during longterm care, and after death. The law protects spouses and ensures that they have rights in those situations, despite what their partners’ blood relatives might have to say. In many cases, same-sex partners are non-entities in the eyes of the state.
That’s the horrible state of affairs that the COO of Chick-Fil-A wishes to strengthen, extend, and perpetuate. While he and I are debating the subtle points about the definition of the word “family,” people out there are suffering, for real. For same-sex couples, this issue is anything but an abstract problem.
I’m going to avoid the larger issue of why someone doesn’t want to acknowledge a same-sex marriage. As you might guess, my opinions on that are strong and clear, but it’s a distraction from the central issue: if legalizing something won’t directly or indirectly affect your life one tiny bit, and making it illegal hurts people, then that’s the end of the discussion.
In truth, I grudgingly respect the COO of Chick-Fil-A for coming out and standing behind his beliefs. I don’t hate this man. How can I? I’ve never met him. But I’m certain that he’s wrong. And if I never want to step foot in a Chick-Fil-A, it’s not because I want to punish him for his beliefs. It’s only because I can’t see that brand and that logo without thinking about something nasty that will interfere with my enjoyment of a fast-food sandwich.
[Edited to add: BE POLITE in the comments, please. Make it about ideas and issues, not about personalities.]
Then, the COO of Chick-Fil-A came all the way out of the closet on his support of antigay causes, to the tune of millions of dollars in donations. There aren’t any Chick-Fil-A restaurants in New England. So, I bought a Protest Chicken Burrito at Chipotle.
I mean, this is awesome. I’ve always been grateful of the many contributions that LGBT 11% of the population has made to our society. I’ve admired their courage in the face of irrational and caustic hatred from those at all levels of power. Their ongoing work to secure their fair share of rights, to inspire the vast, vast majority of us to be vocal in our support, has only made our nation stronger.
With that statement on the record and out of the way: cool! I can have a burrito with sour cream and guac, and put off Salad Wednesday for another day or two! I mean, sure, I can have a burrito any time I want one. But it’s rare that I can have a burrito and be all sanctimonious about it.
I invite any homophobic corporate executives at Pepsi, Sony Playstation, and whoever the hell it is who’s in direct competition with Segway to go ahead and make their next move. Please. Soon. Summer’s short.
I’m trying out “Twist,” an iOS app that I didn’t know existed an hour ago. Just a minute after hearing about it and downloading it, I started hoping that I wind up using it every day of my life. It was just released this morning.
It’s exactly what I’ve been wishing for ever since I got a GPS-enabled phone. It’s a destination-oriented social app. I regularly meet with a friend an hour away to get comics and then eat lunch. I can usually predict my arrival time within a half an hour. I thought I was out the door, but then I got an email as I was docking my iPhone in the car that forced me to turn around and reopen my office. To say nothing of the problems of traffic.
So usually, after I pull off the highway I pull into a gas station and send him an updated text that tells him I’m close. He acknowledges, he starts to wrap up what he’s doing, and then heads out. He can have his own troubles. I don’t know how long I’ll be waiting for him at the comic book shop.
Twist attempts to fix all of that. I’ve defined “Comics with Karl” as a regular event, and set it up with info about the destination, the people I’m meeting there, and how I’d like them to be informed about my progress. Karl will know that I’ve only just left the house, despite the fact that I IM’d him twenty minutes ago to say I’m “headed out the door right now,” and he can get a predicted ETA (based on current traffic conditions) any time he likes.
Let’s see if I like Twist enough to write a formal review. But they’re definitely on to something. A great product usually solves a universal problem. ETAs are the pain and stress that unite us all, whether you’re worried about making people wait or wandering the aisles of a comic book shop and wondering if something’s happened to Karl.
Nice touch: it works great if the people you’re meeting are using Twist, but the app can also just send plain text messages.
They done good by getting lots of press attention with their launch. They done…maybe not so good with the first-launch fit and finish experience of the app. Four grumbles so far:
1) Slight shock when the “walkthru of the features” slideshow pulled data from my address book and integrated it into the presentation. “Isn’t that interesting?” I thought. “The developer is a big fan of comics. Cool, he seems to know a lot of the same artists I know. Hey…those are their real addresses!”
2) When setting a destination, the search feature seems to think that Proximity is more valuable than Familiarity. I typed in the name of the comic book store (which is in my address book) but Twist actually found and Destinated a flower shop three miles away, which it found via a websearch. Whiskey tango foxtrot?
3) In choosing people to add to the event, it sorts the list by first name. Oh, dear.
4) Didn’t I read somewhere that you could trigger an “ETA in X minutes” alert? I thought I read somewhere that you could set things up to trigger an “ETA in X minutes” alert. Maybe I was wrong about the “ETA in X minutes” alert. I can’t seem to find it.
And none of these are buzzkills. But it goes to show you the value of every single hour a developer spends spends on honing that first-launch experience.
Well, off I go. I borrowed a friend’s Bluetooth mouse last week and I was going to return it in a few days…but now I’ve a good business excuse to actually treat the timely return of a friend’s kindly-lent property as though it were a high priority.
Cool! It’s also smart enough that if I choose “Gern Blansten” from my address book as my destination address, it automatically chooses Gern’s mobile number for automatic notifications. Off to a great start already.
Push the button, Frank…
[Second update: it seems to work great. My pal showed me his phone. He got a message alerting him that he was about to receive some texts related to my trip (sent when I activated the Twist), a second one when I was underway (which included an ETA), and a third when I was nearly there.
I still wish there was a way for the app to generate a "I'm 10 minutes away" heads-up. That's my killer feature. An initial ETA is subject to wild adjustments and an "arrival imminent" alert isn't as useful as one that says "Yes, you have time to visit the men's room before he gets here."]
Look, if you’re in that coffeeshop on Route 1A in Norwood, Massachusetts, could you make sure nobody grabs my laptop?
When I read that there was going to be a new “Sandman” miniseries written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by JH Williams, I ran out of there cheering. I got about three miles away before I regained my composure.
I think the buses come about every half an hour. I’ll buy you a soda and one of those pieces of carrot cake from the refrigerated case when I get back there.
Specification forming part of Design No. 11,028, dated February 18, 1879; application filed January 2, 1879.
[Term of patent 14 years.]
To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, AUGUSTE BARTHOLDI, of Paris, in the Republic of France, have originated and produced a Design of a Monumental Statue, representing “Liberty enlightening the world,” being intended as a commemorative monument of the independence of the United States; and I hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exacrt description of the same, reference being had to the accompanying illustration, which I submit as part of this specification.
The statue is that of a female figure standing erect upon a pedestal or block, the body being thrown slightly over to the left, so as to gravitate upon the left leg, the whole figure being thus in equilibrium, and symmetrically arranged with respect to a perpendicular line or axis passing through the head and left foot. The right leg, with its lower limb thrown back, is bent, resting upon the bent toe, thus giving grace to the general attitude of the figure. The body is clothed in the classical drapery, being a stola, or mantle gathered in upon the left shoulder and thrown over the skirt or tunic or under-garment, which drops in voluminous folds upon the feet. The right arm is thrown up and stretched out, with a flamboyant torch grasped in the hand. The flame of the torch is thus held high up above the figure. The arm is nude; the drapery of the sleeve is dropping down upon the shoulder in voluminous folds. In the left arm, which is falling against the body, is held a tablet, upon which is inscribed “4th July, 1776.” This tablet is made to rest against the side of the body, above the hip, and so as to occupy an inclined position with relation thereto, exhibiting the inscription. The left hand clasps the tablet so as to bring the four fingers onto the face thereof. The head, with its classical, yet severe and calm, features, is surmounted by a crown or diadem, from which radiate divergingly seven rays, tapering from the crown, and representing a halo. The feet are bare and sandal-strapped.
This design may be carried out in any manner known to the glyphic art in the form of a statue or statuette, or in alto-relievo or bass-relief, in metal, stone, terra-cotta, plaster-of-paris, or other plastic composition. It may also be carried out pictorially in print from engravings on metal, wood, or stone, or by photographing or otherwise.
What I claim my invention is –
The herein-described design of a statue representing Liberty enlightening the world, the same consisting, essentially, of the draped female figure, with one arm upraised, bearing a torch, while the other holds an inscribed tablet, and having upon the head a diadem, substantially as set forth.
In testimony whereof I have signed this specification in the presence of two subscribing witnesses.
The bad news for Apple: the iPad is unpatentable. See? There’s prior art on this whole “device, tablet-style, surface of which used for the communication or presenentation of data of an informational, reference, or artistic nature.”
The good news: the patent expired over a hundred years ago. So they don’t need to worry about Bartholdi’s heirs seeking an injunction against the iPad’s sale.
I’ll post this thing that just occurred to me, because I amused myself with it and it seems to sum up the situation with the App Store.
Before the App Store, Mac apps were like a comedy or a drama on HBO. Big budgets, top talent, and absolutely no restrictions. Everyone was working under just one limit: what’s the best thing they could produce?
After the App Store, Mac apps are like a show on network television. The limits there are much more real: what’s the best thing you can produce, under the restrictions imposed by broadcast standards?
The way I see it, under the new rules, there’s the risk that Mac software might occasionally be as good as “The West Wing” but it could never be as great as “Boardwalk Empire” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or (the absolutely shattering documentary) “How To Die In Oregon.”
“Futurama” and Conan O’Brien were forced to flee to cable TV, while “Family Guy” and Jay Leno continue to flourish on networks. Honest to God…is that what you’d like to see happen to Mac software?
[Notes: Yes, thank you, I know that "Family Guy" was exiled to cable for a bit before being brought back to FOX. That doesn't change the fact that it's a lazy, sucky show. And the larger point is that creative endeavors don't exactly flourish under content limitations.
At minimum, the new rules represent a major (and hopefully only temporary) setback. It's going to take some time — maybe even a couple of years — before developers learn how to do everything they need to do under App Store restrictions, and Apple learns which of these restrictions could stand some loosening up. And until that happens, there will be some very real limitations on how good a Mac app can be.]