Author Archives: robert

Tamed down version of Carl’s Jr.’s “All Natural” commercial

This screenshot came from a version I recorded on 2015-02-04, during an episode of Arrow. I did not watch the Superbowl but it appears to be the original version that is on YouTube, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 12.19.15

A month later, on 2015-03-10, during an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I saw what I thought was the same commercial but something seemed different. I went back to the previous version and found the same frame. So two changes. One, they dropped in a far less suggestive CG tomato. And two, they un-erased (or maybe added) the bikini strap so it is clear she is not topless. Both spots are 30 seconds long but the new version has been re-edited.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 12.18.07Are they only airing the new version due to protests? I doubt it. Or are they airing different versions for different audience demographics? More probable. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. viewers are probably less “edgy” than Arrow viewers.

 

 

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    Cashnet spam calls

    A few weeks before Christmas 2013, I started receiving dozens of calls a day from payday/holiday loan companies. Some offered loans while others claimed I had been approved for loans. Some were from unknown companies while others were big name banks. Almost all asked for Ronald Smith or Reynold Smith, the accents of the callers were so strong that I cannot be sure.

    Most of the time, I told the caller that they had the wrong number, and they usually hung up. But today’s call was different. CallerID says the call came from 773-596-1404. But many of the calls have fake caller IDs so take that with a grain of salt. Transcript:

    John Smith: Hello, Reynold Smith, my name is John Smith from Cashnet. [given the strong Indian accent, I doubt his name is really John Smith]

    Me: You have the wrong number.

    JS: What do you mean?

    Me: I mean you have the wrong number.

    JS: That is not possible. What does that mean?

    Me: I am not Reynold Smith. Please take me off your list.

    JS: I cannot do that.

    Me: You need to, you have the wrong number.

    JS: So I have the wrong number, so what. Do you need a cash advance loan blah, blah, blah

    I hung up.

    To CashNetUSA.com. The probability that I would ever use you or ever recommend you went from nearly zero to exactly nil.

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      Zero Hour – S01E11 – The Hand

      Yay, more code! If you split the view four ways and scroll each a little differently, it looks a lot more impressive. Source is: http://www.csee.wvu.edu/~cukic/CS350/Spring98/C_Ch10.txt

      They C++-ified the code (ie, cout instead of printf). See leftmost pane in screenshot:

      main()
      {
         unsigned number1 = 960;
      
         printf("\nThe result of left shifting\n");
         displayBits(number1);
         printf("8 bit positions using the ");
         printf("left shift operator << is\n");
         displayBits(number1 << 8);
      
         printf("\nThe result of right shifting\n");
         displayBits(number1);
         printf("8 bit positions using the ");
         printf("right shift operator >> is\n");
         displayBits(number1 >> 8);
         return 0;
      }

      Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 22.40.43

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        Gammaridean amphipods @ Bing

        This was yesterday’s Bing background. Amazing. Utterly alien looking. I always wonder how/why stunning color patterns evolved. Some creatures like earthworms and cockroaches, have very little to no visual embellishment. While peacocks, these amphipods and many other life forms have very intricate patterns.

        Screenshot (21)

         

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          In 20 Years, We’re All Going To Realize This Apple Ad Defined a Generation

          After seeing the last Apple commercial, I wondered what other people thought. Sadly, I came across this: In 20 Years, We’re All Going To Realize This Apple Ad Is Nuts. I cannot tell if the author is:

          1. trolling.
          2. biased because he is an anti-Apple fanboy.
          3. just utterly clueless.

          The subtitle should be, “In 5 minutes, we’re all going to realize this author is nuts.” Here is his mind bogglingly misguided article:

          Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 01.50.11

          “The experience of a product” is correct. We know a product does not feel anything, thus the implied sentence is “The experience of a product by a person”.

          His core point of “people actively turn away from life to engage with their technology” is easily dissectible point by point:

          A woman closes her eyes on the subway to soak in electronic music.

          Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 02.47.16

          People listen to music in different ways. Sometimes with thousands of other fans, sometimes in solitude at home, and yes, sometimes via headphones in public. The author’s implication is that Apple is responsible for turning people into anti-social music consumers. Walkman? Or maybe the author thinks all music should be externalized because everybody on that subway train should share the experience. Boombox?

          http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=14083514&postcount=23

          The listener is not turning away from people to interact with technology. The technology is irrelevant. The objet de désir is the music, regardless of how it is delivered. And how does the author know she is listening to electronic music? She could be listening to [gasp] an analog cello solo. Music is not electronic merely because it is delivered by a digital device.

          A room of students looks down at their desks instead of at their teacher.

          Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 03.00.14

          I do not know what school the author went to, but in every school I have seen, students work on problems in class. They do not merely sit there and listen to a teacher lecture all day. These students are clearly working on something and (conveniently omitted by the author) enthusiastically raise their hands once they have completed the task or solved the problem. Note, these are chalkboards, not iPads:

          http://ukfrey.blogspot.com/2012_02_01_archive.html

          A parent and child cuddle, focused on a screen that’s so powerful it illuminates the kid’s face.

          Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 02.42.15A candle would similarly illuminate the child’s face. The author is clearly desperate now and taking details out of context. The point of the scene, which the author shows a shot of but neglects to discuss, is the child’s reaction. As a father of three, I know that wonderment well and it never ceases to amaze me. Also, the screen is not all that bright considering the darkness of the room.

          A couple kisses in the rain, then immediately turn away to look at a phone.

          Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 02.49.44

          Wow, really? This is when I began to wonder if the author is a complete idiot. Has the author never possessed a camera, let alone a phone with a camera? The couple is taking a photo of themselves together. Like, duh. Again, the author must think that Apple (and theoretically any company with a product that has an imager) must be evil for enabling people to capture a moment of their lives, during which they are ignoring the world around them.

          A tourist opts to FaceTime instead of bathing in visceral, smoky yakitori.

          Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 02.49.56

          Again, the author takes a point in time out of context and neglects to mention that the tourist was showing live video of the yakitori to his friend via FaceTime; something that was not possible for the masses until very recently.

          The author also left out the next two segments which show [more gasps] plenty of inter-human interaction. Then again, both show people fixated on content sourced from a Mac so I am surprised the author did not slam them too.

          Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 02.50.21Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 02.50.41

          The amazing thing about this Apple commercial is that it is not about Apple. You can substitute a Google, Samsung, or Microsoft device into every scene. The experience may be different (better or worse is up to personal taste), but the functionality would be similar. As I said in my previous post about this commercial, technology, sufficiently perfected, seamlessly becomes a part of our lives. Suddenly, we can do things that seem perfectly natural but were not possible a short time ago. We do not become brainiacs though Google, Wolfram and Siri help us answer questions a lot faster. We cannot transport to another planet but FaceTime, Hangout and Skype let us interact with somebody on the other side of our planet near instantaneously. If somebody so chooses, they could stay at home and play Minion Rush all day without interacting with anybody. But if these devices did not exist, that person would have found something else to do alone.

          After writing this, I realized that the author is probably all three…  a clueless, fanboy troll. What a sad life he must lead if he actually believes what he wrote. I hope he doesn’t and wrote that article just to drive up hits.

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            Apple’s “This is it” / “Our Signature” commercial

            The commercial opens with “This is it.” Apple calls it “Our Signature”. I think it is one of the best commercials ever made*. The commercial clearly conveys the company’s design philosophy in extremely relatable terms, without resorting to cliché b-speak. The Apple logo is shown very subtly only once. Some will swear that it is just marketing, and some may even begrudge that is is brilliant marketing, but I think it is more. Apple’s products are clearly thought out to an extreme. The eloquence of their designs is often astounding. Sure, they make mistakes (the hockey puck mouse, the PowerMac 8500 chassis, faux leather stitching). But when they are right (as they often are), their products simply disappear into our life as though they were always there and we rarely wonder what life was like before.

            Transcript:

            This is it
            This is what matters
            The experience of a product
            How will it make someone feel
            Will it make life better
            Does it deserve to exist
            We spend a lot of time on a few great things
            Until every idea we touch
            Enhances each life it touches
            You may rarely look at it
            But you’ll always feel it
            This is our signature
            And it means everything

            *Another stunning commercial is for Delta Airlines. One line has stuck in my head since I saw that commercial, “Never let the rules overrule common sense.” This commercial also very clearly conveys the philosophy of the company.

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              Waze 3.7.2 dimming bug

              Waze 3.6 was very stable.

              Waze 3.7 crashed frustratingly often. They redesigned the alerts, with a popup on the top, a close button on the right that appears after a few seconds, and a dimmed display that highlights the location of the alert. All good, except that Waze would almost always crash whenever an alert popped up. And immediately crash on restart until the alert no longer displayed, probably when it was out of range.

              Waze 3.7.2 no longer crashes with alerts, but they introduced a new bug. The display now dims with the highlight on or near my current location even if there is no alert. Only the main menu and report buttons work. I cannot scroll or zoom. Are they testing before release?

              IMG_3015 IMG_3041 IMG_3040 IMG_3026 IMG_3016

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                Google Books – 24 hours to a few weeks

                From Google Books “Name, submit, and update files for books without ISBNs” page (emphasis added by me):

                Files uploaded through the Google Uploader may take up to 24 hours to display in
                your account. Files uploaded through the web form will display in your account
                after processing, which may take a few weeks.

                Google can complete searches in microseconds, retrieve a photo from its exabytes of global imagery also in microseconds, but they need a few weeks to process an uploaded ePub file?

                And why would files submitted via their Java uploader be ready faster than files submitted via their web form? Wouldn’t both paths go through the same validation process? What is this “processing” anyway? Can they use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? 🙂

                Why, Google, lord of all data, why is your process so difficult and slow?

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