This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.
One week left of January. No one’s sad to see it go. February’s brisk - then the long slog of March, but there’s spring at the end of that. This is the end of the beginning, as Churchill put it. State Fair’s practically around the corner.
MOVIES Lee Unkrich, “Toy Story 3” director and “Shining” enthusiast, has posted the Lost Ending to Kubrick’s masterpiece. Does it change everything? Was his wise to lop it off? You decide. Sounds like it still ends with the long track to the picture of the 20s photograph, and that probably means it had that marvelously languid song, "Midnight With the Stars and You," sung by the peerless Al Bowlly. He was killed in the Blitz: a door blew off and hit him in the head.
Well, I'm really starting to ramble early. Onward:
ICONIC is the overused buzzword deployed whenever someone starts talking about “rebranding” something. Well: here’s
a look at 7-11’s attempts to look fun, at least in Europe. Apparently American tastes would balk at the bold new look. And here’s Paul Goldberger in Vanity Fair eviscerating American Airline’s ugly new look. I always liked the Northwest logo, back when the airline, you know, existed. Its Seventies version was ugly, because it was the Seventies. Before that, there was . . . Herman the Duck.
You can find an account of all the North Central livery here. Just gorgeous.
Speaking of Northwest: you can tell you’re middle-aged if you hear this jingle and know just where the gong comes in.
As long as we’re on the subject:
ADVERTISING Hire this firm. They’re covered with awesomesauce! And they probably use “amazeballs” in conversation, albeit with a hesitant inflection so if anyone thought they were using it ironically, they’d be covered.
They really don’t think that. But unicorns! So hire them. There’s an entire site devoted to advertising auto-puffery, here - it’s amusing. Everyone’s trying to be hip in that modern, desperate, over-contorted fashion: hip must be effortless to be truly hip, but clients can be so thick you have to hit them over the head with your hipness - or at least speak a language they think is hip to the people clients want to reach. It’s a dance of the damned, I tell you.
Related: Buzzfeed had an account of someone who worked as a Social Media Consultant, where people pay you money to be told that a Facebook button on their site would be just a grand idea.
You have no idea how much of my life I've spent so far trying to show people what button to press for setting up Facebook. I spent a whole afternoon teaching a woman how to set a Facebook cover photo. She didn't know what it meant to upload a photo. It's a waste of my time.
I absolutely refuse to attend industry events.
And so on. The fellow is complaining about a job he got on Craigslist that involves no physical work or peril of any sort. Best part is the end: “As Told to Hillary Reinsberg” Because the guy can’t even gin up the enthusiasm to write the thing himself.
TECH The “Apple is Doomed” stories continue. Here’s more doom. Lots of companies could use a little of this doom.
On Wednesday, Apple revealed that it’s signed up 250 million users of its consumer cloud service in its first 15 months. That’s up from 190 million users announced during the previous quarter — Apple added more new users to iCloud (60 million) between October and December, than it sold iPhones (about 48 million). Whether everyone knows how to use iCloud and understands exactly what it does is mostly up in the air.
Iirrelevant. Most customers don’t care, any more than they care how the radio in the car picks invisible signals out of the air and turns them into KS95. You flip the ON switch for iCloud, and the pictures you take with your phone end up on your laptop, and the webpage you opened on the tablet opens on your phone, if you wish, and so on. One consistent seamless digital experience.
The problem with iCloud is the same problem Apple had in all other web-based services. It stinks. It’s probably the best version yet, but it’s still maddening for people who are either A) stuck in old paradigms, or B) unable to relinquish control of their data. Dropbox, for example, gives you files and folders. Amazon and Google give you “drives” you can access in several ways. Apple’s iCloud lets you save documents, but only a certain kind. For working on a word-processing doc on multiple machines, it’s fine. For moving stuff around or storing data, it’s not. But that’s not what it wants to be. This is for people who don’t care where their data is, as long as it’s somewhere and they can get it fast. It drives me crazy: I ask my daughter where, exactly, are you keeping that long story you’re writing? That online program you signed up to use, eh. Well. Where is it? Do you have a copy?
This is the digital equivalent of a parent shouting “wear your rubbers or you’ll catch your death of cold” in 1937, I suppose. We will be mocked in the future for insisting on “backing up” and other archaic forms of data management.
Also, please disregard any analyst who says Apple needs to make a TV. I may be wrong; they could surprise everyone and come up with an $5,000, high-margin set with the DVR and tuner and everything else built right in They could shock everyone by announcing that they’d cut deals with all the nets and had a la carte pricing. But I don’t see the point. TVs are a miserable market, and they can sell a lot more AppleTV units that gather in all the non-cable streams you can get now. (In fact, that's just what they did: sales up 60%) The same people who say Apple needs to do something Revolutionary, Again, Now are the same people who say it’s a television set. As opposed to, say, a device which eventually makes the phone obsolete - some sort of low-profile wearable device that works for calls and messages, and connects to a tablet if you want to do mail or apps. I’m not saying that’s in the works; what do I know. But I’ll bet in five years you’ll be at Starbucks, and you’ll see people take a call or listen to music by looking at a band on their wrist, scrolling with a finger along its surface, then tapping a thing in their ear. Or, Google Glasses, Apple-style.
No, you’re right. Not revolutionary enough. A TV, that’s the future.
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