This Was the Future (c. 2000)

Forget the iPhone —

Handspring Visor Manual

— let’s bring back the Handspring Visor!

Visor Backup Module

I had the modem at the time, too.

I just ran across these while cleaning out an old box from the back of the closet tonight.  Ah, good times.

You know what the Handspring Visor had that the iPhone still doesn’t? A wonderful keyboard that the Visor plugged into.  Very compact, very nice to use.

Hell’s Kitchen Overboard?

Watching the season premiere of the show last week, I was left with just one thought: Has “Hell’s Kitchen” completely jumped the shark?

It’s become obvious in recent seasons that the show isn’t looking for executive chef material anymore.  They’re interested in characters.  I can’t imagine the winners are really running those restaurants as anything except figureheads.  Someone else in the organization is pulling the strings, I bet.  But the lack of cooking talent grows worse every season, and this season has grown so bad at the start that it’s like watching a cartoon show.  These people can’t possible be real, can they?  They go beyond the usual self-delusional personalities and stretch out into the outright bizarre and psychotic.

The juvenile antics between the winning and losing teams are, no doubt, egged on by producers.  The backstage fights between puffs on omnipresent cigarettes are fueled by the ample supplies of nicotine and alcohol, as well as some probing questions no doubt aimed in specific directions during the one-on-one interviews.

The show has always had moments that break the veil of “reality,” mostly anything involving J.P., particularly when the wedding planner shows up who is his arch-nemesis.  I believe J.P. is Belgian, but that’s about it.  Everything else might as well be scripted, though I have a feeling it’s mostly improv.

Nowadays, I wonder how much of anything else is “real.”

The topper of the season premiere came from the ex-military chef who vowed to Chef Ramsay that we wasn’t anyone’s bitch when Chef Ramsay asked him the probing question, “Who’s your team’s first nominee and why?”  When he then attempted to provoke a physical fight with the Chef before the dramatic “TO BE CONTINUED” flashed on screen, I knew something was up.  This guy is either camera-hungry or outright psychotic and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

I really really really want to like the show and enjoy it, but their attempts to make it “bigger” and “better” every season are fast breaking the show.

I’ll give the show this: The little animated graphics going into commercial have been very clever in the last couple of seasons, as they’re tying directly into the outro from the show.

I almost yearn for the “documentary” series that is “Kitchen Nightmares.”

Posted in TV

On Sale Now: Wii Sports Resort

Wii Sports Resort I haven’t been able to pass this purchase by the Various and Sundry Finance Committee, but I hope one of you did.  What do you think? How’s the new controller add-on working for you?  And how tempted are you to now go out and buy the Tiger Woods game to use with it?

Links for a Thursday

  • tells you Twitter which friends of yours overlap with another friend.

  • Here’s the story of the girl who grew up with two hearts.  Eventually, the back-up heart failed and was removed, but it gave the primary heart enough time to strengthen itself.

  • First review of “Wii Sports Resort” I’ve seen so far. Mind you, I wasn’t looking very hard, but this is hopeful.  I haven’t played too many video games lately, but I’d love to give this one a spin.

  • Why “Wipeout” wins. Answer: a dearth of slapstick television.

  • Remember when the Harry Potter movie series began, and everyone said the same actors couldn’t make all the movies?  It would take too much out of their childhoods, or they’d age faster than the movies could keep up with them, etc?  Ah, we were so naive then.  (No link.  I just felt like pointing that out.)

  • It’s just so crazy it might work.  No, not really.  It’s complete and utter madness, but it is hilarious: Convert Central Park into an airport!

My People: The Latest Update

Belgian authorities are checking out public profiles of their citizenry to determine who might not be reporting their entire income.  It’s enough to launch an investigation, and perfectly legal.

Think twice before opening our mouth on-line again. You know the IRS will be all over this soon enough.  (“You reviewed that ‘Harry Potter’ book, but I don’t see you paying taxes from Amazon purchases anywhere on your tax return?  AUDIT!”)

Without Twitter. . .

I have thoughts I NEED to express, but nobody who cares.

Heck, I likely have that with Twitter, too. So nevermind.

But I do need to say this: Apologies for there being no photo on yesterday. That’s the first time it’s happened this year, and it’s a complete Stupid Stupid User mistake on my part. I loaded up yesterday’s image — and today’s — with next month’s date. So the photos are up there now.

Also, I had a roast beef sandwich for lunch.

What, isn’t that what Twitter is for?

Nintendo Corporate Strategy

In Japan, Nintendo is releasing an all-black Wii. They have no plans to do so in North America, however.  That brings us to our quote of the week:

“Once — if — Wii sales ever drop off, we expect a freakin’ deluge of Wii colors that’ll make a gay Pride parade look like a drab, colorless scene out of Killzone 2.”

Link Dump for Thursday

Sorry things have slowed up here so much again lately.  Here are some links to keep you busy for a while as an apologia:

Interface of the week

Stealing a bit from Daring Fireball here, I’m afraid.

Take a look at this:

Full Sized Interface

This is how you create a slideshow in IrfanView, a wonderful and relatively simple Windows piece of freeware that I use for very basic image manipulation (cropping, scaling, brightness/contrast) when I’m at work and stuck on Windows.

It’s a mind-numbing number of options, presented in almost random fashion in rectangles spewed across a window. I think my favorite part is the bottom right corner, where you can add text to your slideshow with “simple” variable expressions. This is NOT a program for non-programmers.

The iPhone App I Want

I have software to do this at home on my computer (ProfCast), but since nothing beats the convenience of the iPhone for doing Anything Anytime Anywhere, I thought I’d suggest it here, or ask if anyone has seen an App like this out in the wild:

I want an App that will allow me to make a video slideshow that I can narrate.  Let me go to a folder of my pictures, pick the ten I want to show.  Let me then “begin recording.”  The first image shows up.  The mic turns on and I can talk over the pic.  When I want the next image, I tap a large button on the screen. I keep talking.  When all is done, I click the stop button, the iPhone creates a video of the pictures with my narration over top of them, and then I can upload the whole shebang straight to YouTube, the way I do with my 3GS videos.  Alternatively, let me download an uncompressed QuickTime video to my computer next time I synch up.

Is that too much to ask?  Does it already exist?  Even if it creates a video that I have to sync up with my computer to upload to YouTube, I’d be happy.  (I’d be doubly happy if that would help preserve video quality, too.)

I’ve seen slideshow-generating apps, but most expect you to have a song to play already, and then, at best, give you control of how long each pic should be on screen. I could use that, but it seems like a kludge and an awful lot of work.  I need simplicity here.

Last iPhone Thoughts (For Now)

  • I’ve discovered that you really have to whip that thing around on its side to activate the accelerometer enough to change the screen’s orientation. Also, it only works if you’re holding the phone in your hands, and not laying it flat on a desk or table.

  • Tilting sideways isn’t universal.

  • Wi-Fi is about 5x faster than 3G.  And don’t get me started on the pain that is Edge. The Speed Test app is worth the free download just to teach yourself that little fact.  I tend to keep Wi Fi off unless I’m at home, just to keep the phone from searching for a Wi Fi signal and draining its battery.  In the car, I use the ear bud that came with the phone instead of the Bluetooth earpiece.  And I don’t leave location search on until I need it.

  • I wish I could subscribe to a podcast through the iTunes interface, instead of just streaming a show.  It’s also amazing how few podcasts there are under 10 MB.

  • The Clock app’s alarm clock interface is so much easier and quicker to use than my old Razr phone’s.  (That’s right, I use my cell phone as my wakeup alarm clock.)

  • I hate that Notes App font.  At least it’s not Comic Sans.

  • eBay detects that you’re using an iPhone and gives you a very simplified version of its page. I like that a lot.  (No, I’m not using eBay these days, but I am checking on values of things in my collection, as I prepare to sell an awful lot of comics off.)

  • I like how Apple does a 30 second TV commercial to highlight cut-and-paste.  It that ballsy, chutzpah, or just funny?

  • The YouTube app is nice, too.  I like the search and the ability to email myself a link to a video I might want to later pass along or bookmark at home or something.  I also like how the videos play in landscape format automatically, with big control buttons.  It’s painful to wait on an Edge connection for it to load, though.

  • I don’t use the new all-iPhone search right now.  Maybe that’ll change someday.  I only have three screens’ worth of apps, so I’m never lost.

  • I wish iTunes would synch my camera pics, audio memos, and videos automatically, instead of making me email them to myself.  That’s just odd.  Or am I missing something? (Update: Found the voice memos in iTunes in their own playlist. Yay!)

iPhone Apps

Today, some apps that I’ve downloaded and find myself using the most:

Erica Sadun’s To Do app is barebones and featureless and a bit ugly, but it does the job I need it to do.  I don’t need anything fancier than this, thanks.  I probably could just use 37 Signals’, instead, but this is good enough for a few things at a time.  It’s also free.

I love looking up “To Do” in the App Store, because all the icons are identical.  They’re all checks over a box, with various color schemes.

TweetDeck is, no doubt, the most used. It’s the only way I ever want to use Twitter now, thanks.  Someday, I’ll get it linked up to my desktop client, but not just yet.  I don’t need it to be.  I don’t follow so many people that I get lost in the noise.

The USA Today app is good for a quick breeze through the news.  And once it’s done updating itself, the stories load instantly, which is nice.

Flight Control. Addicting little game.  My high score is 19.  Not the game that I’ll kill the most time with, but I like the interface, where you’re drawing landing paths for all the planes flying around, without letting them crash.  Games aren’t terribly long, either. Tiki Golf 3D.  Fun mini-golf game.  The opening levels are challenging without being impossible.  I’m trying “Let’s Golf” next for a more serious golfing game.

iHandy Level.  I don’t know when I might use it, but I like having a bubble spirit level thing in my pocket. I’ve used the feature where you take a picture of something and they email you back with what it is a few times with great success.  Impressive, and very handy.

PhotoGen.  THE photo editing app for the iPhone.  Just adjusting the levels is enough for most pictures, but this also handles cropping, color adjustments, and all the standard stuff you could ask for.

Fieldrunners.  Desktop Tower Defense for the iPhone. The single biggest time sink on the iPhone for me right now.  I’ve played this kind of game before, but it still hooks me.  I screamed when I lost on level 99 the other day.  The game only has 100 levels. Ugh!