If it occurs to mention that a Netflix account is only as good as the internet access, e.g., Xfinity, and this is only worth mentioning because regardless of what else is wrong with Netflix, this part of their business model means the venture is, ultimately, doomed to fuckall.
Category Archives: Software
Watching Software Sucks
Look, we know it’s never any software company’s fault, ever, but let me make one thing clear: Between watching television, to the one, and watching software, to the other, look, you’re up against Comcast; it ought to be a low bar. But between Samsung, who makes the television, and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, who allegedly serve video, it’s forty-five minutes later and you still don’t work. What the hell is wrong with you people? Watching software brings a consistent result of regretting the thought there might be something worth watching.
Notes on Interface
Okay, so, here’s the thing:
▸ The software feature that you want me to use requires that I select a photo.
▸ There are hundreds of photos in the uploaded library.
▸ Therefore, I am only allowed to see twelve photos at a time, in reverse chronological order.
▸ If the photo I would use happens to be, oh, way the hell down the list, that I must simply keep clicking and clicking in order to ask you to please show me more of my photos, that I might eventually select one to use for the software feature you really, really seem to want me to use, since, you know, you won’t shut up about it, I’m probably not going to bother, and would you please, then, shut up about it?
↳ Because your interface really, really sucks. The most obvious question in the world is why you would refuse to simply open the entire album. These pathways are deliberate; you do not accidentally design such an inefficient method, as the extraneity is by definition extraneous unless, of course, it is not actually extraneity. That is to say, there must necessarily be something you get out of it, but it would seem really, really obscure. (Hint for the gallery: To wonder why a publicly traded company would show off its incompetence or inefficiency is to look at it wrongly; the idea of efficiency on which such an outlook depends is consumer oriented. The wasted clicks make some other point.)
Anyway, yeah. It’s pretty stupid. Just sayin’.
Image note: NTT Docomo tower, from Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, 26 March 2017. (Photo by bd)
Something happened to software while I’ve been away. See, for instance, I don’t use Microsoft. I loathe Windows because whatever it is you think you’re doing, that is second priority to Microsoft, at best; it’s probably more accurate to say whatever you intend to do, wherever you intend to go today, Microsoft wishes to disrupt you along the way.
I actually had to ask where Notepad was. Then again, I don’t feel too stupid, since apparently a lot of people asked. The Microsoft support response was written in Second-Language English; we can tell how much Redmond cares.
Then again, Windows might be the great failure, but it is hardly alone. Turns out the malfunctioning whatever the hell that was mounted on the seat in front of me on the flight to Japan was Linux, which is unfortunate since it takes effort to fuck up like that, but I should also remember to avoid the hell out of software when my friends tell me how much I need it. To wit, I still don’t get what is so cool about Gogo. It’s terrible software that served me exactly none on the flight. Indeed, it was worse than nothing because I foolishly forgot myself for a moment and apparently expected it to work.
Still, I haven’t used Microsoft much in recent years, and figured the fact that it is actually painful to look at was just a result of the users I happened to know. No, no … it’s Windows. This OS looks like shit. It’s slow. Its first purpose seems to be advertising and promotion. I actually wonder if anyone in software is capable of writing a program that does what it is supposed to do. And then some days I remember of course they can, since all any software is intended to accomplish these days is advertising and revenue collection.
And this godawful “Nextbook” thing I’m trying to use? It forgets itself, can’t wake up properly, and is pretty much a disaster. Its two upsides are that I didn’t buy it, and I won’t be obliged by circumstance to use it.
Priorities: A Snapshot
As much as people complain about the media, it is occasionally worth attending the self-inflicted wounds. To wit, Huffington Post readers:
• “Pro Wrestler Comes Out As Bisexual After Video With Boyfriend Hits The Web”
• “7 Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown”
• “7 Reasons Your Pee Smells Weird”
• “‘Girls’ Is Now Officially Unwatchable”
• “These Will Be The Best Places To Live In America In 2100 A.D.”
So, yeah. Trending. According to HuffPo’s metrics, this is what people are reading and promoting.
Image note: “Trending” sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.
Death & Habit
The death of the click, as such, sounds dramatic:
For the past 10 years, we’ve operated on the premise that the most important digital metric is the click that refers a person to a website. That click usually comes from a social distribution channel, like Facebook or Twitter, or a search engine, like Google or Bing. But according to industry experts, the click referral is becoming an idea of the past, soon to be replaced by content exposure.
It would behoove us to pay attention. To the one, it is already happening. To the other … er … ah … well, yeah, there is, in fact, a point to wondering what the big deal is. But that’s the thing. As the Axios report explains:
Clicks look like a high-performing tactic, but a lot of work is done to get you to type something into a search bar to begin with,” AdRoll President Adam Berke tells Axios. Marketers are starting to attribute marketing success towards content exposure that drives you to click something, instead of the click itself. Two key formats increase content exposure: video and passive scrolling. Google and Facebook are investing heavily in products that embody these formats: YouTube and Instagram.
The bottom line is that your daily habit isn’t going to change for evolving necessity; rather, how you interact with the world will become more and more bound to theses of behavioral economics applied within a marketing context intended to backfill its justification post hoc―that is to say, your behavior will change to suit someone else’s business model.
And, yeah, that might sound a bit dramatic, but most people probably won’t notice, except to grumble a bit, like they did with Apple and … I don’t know, that dating app.
Meanwhile, for the business community the definition of success becomes even hazier. Good enough for government work, is better redefined as, Good enough for the tech sector. Then again, the definition of government work might well be unsettled for the momemt, as well, so … you know.
Fischer, Sara. “The death of the click”. Axios. 20 February 2017.
It’s True, I Really Don’t Get It
Certain little software issues arise along the way, and it’s true, I just don’t understand why. Like one day, caption data starts disappearing from the image files I’m making with GIMP. I finally figured out the problem by reading a fifteen year-old bug report on exif data that was allegedly resolved way back when. And now it’s apparently not a bug; this is the way it goes now. But it was strange, because the problem showed up only occasionally, at first, and then one day just was. And there was no ongoing update. It was squar’ in’tween updates.
Did my update notifier just break my system? I don’t think so, but it is also true there was an update waiting when I checked. (It’s a joke about my particular Linux flavor and spice: If stuff starts acting weird and slowing down, check the update manager; once it has an update to give you, it really wants to take care of the thing, but for whatever reason the only way it lets you know is by slowing everything down.) It is true I like to blame APIs in the age of HTML 5; as a blogger, it seems everything started going to hell around the same time every website got their new bells and whistles and all the end users got out of it was a bunch of lousy pop-ups, drop-downs, and overlays.
But this is really quite simple: I have not been hallucinating my find & replace method for the last five years. Longer? Hell, I don’t remember. But you cannot convince me I have been dreaming this bit where I can highlight text, hit a key combination, and have my text replace interface waiting to replace the highlighted text.
I was actually ahead of schedule when Gedit broke. It’s just a lot of stuff to highlight and replace by hand. So much for the schedule; I should probably get back to replacing.
But, yeah. The moral of the story: Never set goals.
No, really, I was going to finish all of a few minutes early, and now I’m over a couple hours behind and pretty much finished for the night.
Because I somehow managed to break Gedit.
Honestly: How the fuck do you break Gedit?
It Almost Seems Deliberate
re: Really? I thought this part was obvious
So … you know that little thing you have where we click for the option to say we don’t want you promoting this or that kind of video? Why does it not work? No, really, when I tell you to not show me this, don’t turn around and promote the same damn video again.
re: Communication breakdown
This is pretty straightforward: Once upon a time I ordered something from Amazon. The seller sent the item. The item arrived. All is good in the world. Right?
Okay, so, big deal, right? But it’s a few months later and this order still registers as shipped, but not delivered. Here’s the good news: It was delivered. All is good in the world. Right?
It seemed worth telling the seller. Indeed, I know what happened. At the end of the day, the product was delivered on time by a guy driving a twenty year old Ford Taurus, bearing credentials from a courier I hadn’t encountered before. Big deal, right? The item I ordered is here: It is the right product; it is undamaged; it is on time; I am satisfied. All is good in the world. Right?
All I want to do is communicate directly with the seller, to advise them to close the book on this one. What I do not understand is why that is so difficult. I’m sorry, but what I need to tell them does not fit any of your pre-selected suggestions. You do not have an easily identified pathway to allow this communication.
So, you know. Whatever. Maybe the only way to let the seller know is to explain in a bad review. It seems a lot easier to simply drop a line to say, “Hey, by the way, I got this; you can log it as delivered.”
But that’s just not the Amazon way, is it?
No, really. The product purchased arrived on time and in good condition. For the sake of a bureaucratic omission somewhere in the chain of custody, this is not logged in the Amazon delivery record. I would like to advise the seller that this is taken care of, but there are far too many hoops to jump through just to find out I’m in the wrong place. It’s actually quite astounding what effort you have put into making certain nobody can actually communicate with anybody else.
Look, whenever I grumble about Amazon, someone I know reminds that the company is constantly rated for the highest customer satisfaction in this or that exactly meaningless survey. Those surveys would probably count more if they were capable of accounting for this kind of dissatisfaction: Amazon is so hostile to consumers that we cannot even help satisfactory sellers make certain their book is up to date.
For whatever reason, we seem to take this out on politicians. Go figure.
I Can’t Actually Recall the Solar Flare Song Right Now
So, I’m really, really curious: What happened? No, seriously, it’s enough to make sunspot and solar flare jokes, but in truth I might as well be checking lucky numbers.
• Perhaps yesterday was ominous, because my car suffered a bizarre, one-time symptom by which everything else was working, but there was no signal to the dashboard gauges. No tach, speed, temp, or fuel, but all the lights were working, and the odometer continued counting. It was a quick run down the hill to the grocery store; so the test was simple enough to shut the car off and then start it again, and yes, everything worked fine.
• This morning my bank’s phone system failed; as near as I can tell, when they updated for the holiday weekend, someone forgot a switch. For all the system asked for the usual information to access the account, it simply could not receive, and thus disconnected for lack of anyone to communicate with. Perhaps the problem is the phone.
• To wit, the iPhone lost its preferences and histories today, and could not write new data to either. This was a mysterious symptom not apparently concomitant to an update, and seemed easily enough solved by shutting down and rebooting the phone.
• By the time weirdness hit the laptop it was easy to feel superstitious. But this collapse of basic shell functions like copy and paste was easily enough remedied. The problem was, of course, HTML 5, and as with most such problems these days, shutting down browser tabs or windows running website applications will eventually allow your system to copy information to its own clipboard. So, hey, there’s one that isn’t a mystery.
• The Samsung television can no longer access its own system features. At the very least, the power switch and input selector still work. And the volume buttons. But anything that requires that candy-looking, branded button in the middle of the remote? Sorry, it’s a Samsung, so you can’t have it. The most likely solution is to disconnect all cables including power supply, leave the thing to wallow in its own oblivion for a few minutes, and then put it all back together and turn it on again. And then the system will work long enough to automatically update, and then collapse. Some products are like that, and apparently no part of watching television can be done these days without a software update. Continue reading