Tag Archives: rants

The iPad. Is it baws?

Early in the year I have a bit of post-bonus disposable income, so I indulged in some wallet bukkake and ordered an iPad. Here is what happened.

First impressions

I’ve used an iPhone for a couple of years now, so that gives you a certain perspective. The icons and such look very familiar. The first thing that hits you is: holy shit there is just a ridiculous amount of screen space. In reality it’s a modest 1024 by 768, but after using a phone it’s pretty striking. I think how you react to this device depends on what you compare it to: is it a big phone, or a small computer?

Although you have this expanse of screen, the icons and buttons are still iPhone-sized. They feel dwarfed, relatively speaking; you have to aim carefully with your fingers.


a pad

An iPad, yesterday

This is critical for me: the killer iPad use for me is lounging about on the sofa typing shit up.

At first typing is definitely weird. The reason: no tactile feedback. It is not possible to touch-type on a glass screen. This means you have to look at the keyboard most of the time, which is unnatural; the letters are appearing somewhere up there in hopefully the correct order.

After some time you get used to it, eyes flicking back and forth. I completely rely on landscape mode though (bigger keys to hit). The little keyboard clicks are indispensable.

Last bit of weirdness: an iPad forces you to cut your fingernails really short! Long-nailed typists just receive a series of clacky noises and nothing happens.

The good stuff

Things with big sweepy gestures are lovely. Google Maps is a whole new experience; it genuinely feels futuristic. You are holding a high-res atlas that comes to life in your hands; looking down, you sweep the world below you around, grinning like a retarded god.

The feel of the iBook is great. There’s a wee gimmick where you can grab the page and wave it around instead of just reading the fucking thing. The popup dictionary is beautifully styled and charming.

Random stuff:

  • IMDB is outstanding, very polished.
  • Frotz uses all the space! Lovely.
  • Evernote have made a decent effort but there’s no A-Z index of your notebooks.
  • Netflix is magical: all your Instant Play films appear on the device, just like that.
  • Wikipanion is good for WPing.
  • Epicurious is great, swipe-able food and cocktail recipes.
  • There are few ‘native’ Twitter apps yet (just Twitterific so far). The best Facebook interface is just using the website in Safari.
  • Oddly enough, games that use virtual joysticks play much better! Critical Wave, Mini Squadron.

The baws

Continue reading

the facelessness of bureaucracy

form B-12/alpha, please

In Amurka, there are companies called ‘credit bureaus’. They keep track of your borrowing habits – not very accurately, mind you – and make up a number to say how financially irresponsible you are.

They operate a supremely closed-off scheme. Trying to talk to a human at one of these places is nigh-impossible without making some kind of offering; usually pumping them with cash for access to your details. Your details basically consists of a number, but they dress it up with exotic branding nonsense along the lines of the CreditPeep 5000 CashSpunker Plus. I’ve spent a month or so pissing around with arch-cockhandles Experian, and convincing them that some other guy with a similar name is not me, and can they please take all his nefarious dealings off my record, thank you very much.

Long story short, that’s now done. If you need to deal with credit bureaus, I can offer some effective voodoo.

Just when I thought all the form-fiddling was done, Amex call to say they’re not 100% convinced of my identity, and could I please fuck off down to the Social Security building and get a note proving my social security number. Well of course, nothing would give me greater pleasure.

If you’re thinking dealing with the Social Security (SS for short – YOU SEE?) would be a patience-mangling, Kafkaesque nightmare, you’d be totally correct and would in fact win a biscuit.

The downtown building squats massive and intimidating. It has FEDERAL BUILDING spackled all over it and cops everywhere. There are 15 entrances and only one is the right one for you, and you have to know what the department name is, exactly and without using synonyms or cheating. You have to negotiate with guards who speak only rudimentary dolphin. Once I found the right entrance I gained 2,300 experience points.

Once in the door you are welcomed with a warm and friendly metal detector scan and body-furtling.

There are 50 floors. Your correct floor is listed in Greek using a 6-point font on a tea-tray stapled to the wall behind a pillar in the lobby.

Once you find the right room, things look more familiar – clerks behind bulletproof glass, people waiting. You dither slightly trying to figure out the waiting system, before a security guard with a table of forms waves you over. He appears to be first-generation Namibian and has only the vaguest idea of what is going on around him. He delivers his opener with all the twinkling intelligence of a poached egg:




[Long pause while my brain executes intense pattern matching algorithm]
Are you asking me… where I live?


Ah, Manhattan.


A ticket! Result.
Next, a long wait; expected. Then, called to the desk! I have rehearsed what I will say. The lady is short and first-generation Chinese. I get the first word in:

Hello, so to be clear I already have a social security card [brandish my card] – I’m just looking for -


Sorry, for what?


But I already have a card, here -


I need a form to speak to you?
[There is a pause]
[People in the waiting room have gone quiet, amused by the exchange and my desperately clear enunciation]
[Clerk looks for the fifth time at the card I am holding against the glass, and in the cold lonely void a lightbulb illuminates]


Normally you go up to clerks on the assumption they know more than you do, cap in hand. I instead walked out full of dismayed sympathy, but relief at accomplishing the mission.

The frustration in dealing with these muppets reminded me of the constant satirising unleashed by Douglas Adams on this topic, both in his books and also in the 80s text adventure game Bureaucracy. Actually the AI in that game surpassed most of the humanoids I dealt with this week.

P.S. the post title is from the Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out classic, here preserved on your intertrout.

P.P.S. So I don’t forget, my social security number is [WPRESS exception in db.getHandle() - too many connections]

A small petition

I was told that I was obliged to go into an internet cafe and post on TF even when I was on holiday.

However, consider this imaginary variation of a likely scenario:

Two youngish people, CJ and Travelling Companion (TC) are standing outside an internet cafe somewhere in Paris.

CJ: Do you mind if I pop in here to update the folk at TF?

TC: TF, what on earth is that?

CJ: Taking Fire, it's well, sort of, a blog.

TC: Oh, I didn't know you had a blog..

CJ: Well, it's more of a group blog.

TC: That sounds cool, what's the URL so that I can look it up when I get home?

CJ: It's aaronbelldotorg

TC: That doesn't sound like a group blog. Who is this Aaron Bell and why do you have to  post on his website?

CJ: Em.. [sighs]

TC: Wait a minute, 5 euros an hour, we could almost buy a Parisian pint with that.

CJ: Good point!

The pair stumble off and continue their vain attempt to locate a 'rock bar' in Paris. 

So, how's about it? A new URL to reflect the flourishing group dynamic that will surely ensue. I'm told this website used to be good, so why not make it even better?

Here ends the petitioner's petition.

great week I: bumming for Jesus

TedIf you watched The Root of All Evil? you'll undoubtedly remember the megachurch founder Ted Haggard. Evangelical, creationist, gay-hating, Bush-advising Ted. Here he is having a cosy chat with Dawkins. Watch our Ted go into total creep-out at 5:10.

Turns out that while Ted was stridently preaching his message of intolerance and damnation, he was spending his own spare time (and his untold wealth harvested from deluded Christians) in all-out bumming sessions with hairy man-prostitutes. And – for good measure – snorting chunky lines of meth for extra kicks.

So Ted isn't too popular in the New Life Church any more. Unlucky. Does this mean you go to hell Ted, you fucking abomination?

I don't have anything against personal drug use or consensual penetrations of any kind. But the hypocrisy.

Animals as art and women as objects (AKA Tuesday Rant)

I popped into DCA today, on my way to interview some lucky sod for my project. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by two caged birds – Long-tailed Glossy Starlings to be precise (diligently noted in my Moleskine – Edit: could I sound more like Air here?). Artist Dave Allen hopes that the birds will eventually begin to mimic the piped soundtrack that he is blasting into the aviary for their pleasure. Imagine being caged up and subjected to a continuous soundtrack of someone else's choosing just for the entertainment of another species. Anyway, onwards..

On my way home I stopped off at the station kiosk for a packet of crisps and a ribena (irrelevant). While choosing my flavour of McCoys, I couldn't help but notice that something else was STARING ME IN THE FACE: row upon row of naked women on the front of magazines. Am I the only person who gets so angry and upset at the objectification of women in contemporary society?  Continue reading

cuisine a la pleb

piesAt Sky in Livingston there is a large and well-appointed canteen for meeting the needs of the 1,000+ CSR workforce and over 400 engineers and consultants that work on-site.

To their credit they supply not only the basics (breakfasts, chips, pies, sausage rolls), but every day dream up three different main meals: Healthy, Main and Vegetarian options.

With hundreds of morbidly, eye-poppingly fat employees dropping dead of cake overdose every week, Sky have taken to reducing the price of their healthier options further and further, to the point where we’re essentially being paid to consume it.

So tasty, creatively prepared food is served up daily at heavily subsidised prices. What good does this do?

Dear Reader, these efforts are to no avail whatso-fucking-ever. All this effort is made so that 99% of the gold-pierced call-centre scum can hunch over the canteen bar and whine through their fat ignorant mink-faces

kin ah geht pie chups an beans

without please or thank you at every single lunchtime without fail, and without hesitation to spare even a cursory glance at what – to us – is fairly decent scran but what is – to them – exotic cuisine so stratospherically haute that you’d need an oxygen mask and a PhD in poshness to even consider eating it.

Essentially these are ‘people’ whose mindless avoidance of vitamins has robbed them of the basic curiosity or initiative to consider eating anything other than what their inbred fuckwit tracksuit parents crammed down their malnourished cake-pipes as hateful mewling children.

I hope they all fucking die.