The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'annoyances'
I'm getting rather fed up with the Fresh prepaid mobile service I use. I got it when I arrived in the UK, as it was the cheapest way to get a +44 mobile number (essential for getting calls about accommodation/jobs returned), and to someone living off saved Australian pesos, cheap is good. (It's something like half or less of the cost of using other services.) What I've since learned is that what you save in call costs, you pay for in gratuitous inconvenience. Consider, for example:
- There is no convenient way of knowing how much credit you have, short of calling an automated voice number and going through the menus. They occasionally send you texts when you're "running low" (i.e., below £4 credit, which is enough to last a month or two)
- If you're not careful, the first you find out that you've run out of credit is when your phone is barred.
- Unless you pay a lot of money in, your phone will not be unbarred when you top it up. You hav e to go in/call up separately after topping up to get the bar removed.
This happened to me a few times. The most recent time, yesterday I went to top up my account, and asked the clerk to remove the bar immediately. He said he could do that. He lied.
As such, I just spent 9 minutes on hold, being subjected to what sounded like some kind of jazz-fusion/whalesong melange, punctuated at 15-second intervals by a plastically cheerful female voice insincerely apologising for the delay, before getting a call-centre employee who could lift the bar for me.
There is no technical reason for why Fresh needs to suck so badly. I suspect it may be part of an experiment in how people monetise convenience, and how much inconvenience they are willing to put up with to save a few quid.
Annoying web interface of the day: Loot.
A taxonomy of obnoxious fuckwits at rock concerts (via rocknerd):
The Reckless Smoker -- A cigarette is a dangerous weapon around people packed together tight. At a Guided by Voices show in New York -- before that glorious smoking ban went into effect -- fans were so jammed one night at a club called Tramps that you had to applaud with your hands above your head. This didn't stop a guy behind me from lighting up -- and then singeing some unlucky fan standing in front of him. "Sorry, man," the Smoker said. No doubt this made the burn victim feel a whole lot better.
The Angler -- They arrived late, and they don't want to stand in the back. So the Anglers connive to get close to the stage, which is tricky -- and rude -- at a show that's sold out. The most inventive Angler I've seen waited till right before the first song and pretended to be on the verge of vomiting as he waded toward the lip of the stage. People leapt out of his way. When he got to the front, he just smiled.
The most stupefying Talker I've seen was at a Melissa Etheridge show at the Warner Theatre, a woman who called a friend on her cell phone just as Etheridge hit the stage. "I'm at the show! Yeah, Melissa just came on! Yeah! Can you hear me? What? Can you hear her? What?" There were murderous stares from everyone in her vicinity -- and then verbal threats -- but it didn't matter. The dedicated Talker doesn't care.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's web sites which sacrifice usability to be "arty". Such as the ACMI site. I went to book a ticket to one of the Cremaster screenings, but there's no indication of where the box office is; the only links are lower-case verbs like "experience", "learn", "play" and so on. Ooh, tres artistique! Now about that ticket I wanted to buy...
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's intentionally corrupt CDs; and if there's one thing I hate more than intentionally corrupt CDs, it's websites which selectively neglect to tell you that the CD you're about to buy is fux0red, whilst at the same time giving warnings for other dodgy CDs. Case in point: I ordered The Thrills' So Much From The City from amazon.co.uk, after noticing that its page didn't have a "this CD is copy protected" warning (and, by contrast, their page on Radiohead's Hail To The Thief did). Guess what I noticed when I took the CD out of the packaging.
The radio in the office next door is tuned to a commercial radio station. Despite my well-stocked Archos Jukebox and set of PC speakers, I cannot escape this. Part of this is bad music, middle-aged rockers howling out bland MOR ballads, like some meaningless ritualisation of what was once a mating call. But most of it is ads. Annoying, intelligence-insulting, in-your-face ads. They tend to fall into three categories:
- The dialogue between two characters, acting out a drama. One character has some problem, and the other knows the solution, which involves the advertiser's product. The main character development involves the other character becoming enlightened as to the beneficial properties of the product, and the advantages of buying from the advertiser. The voices are invariably exaggerated, with all the realism of a Punch and Judy show, but realism isn't the goal here.
- A bloke shouting out a monologue about the product, hitting you, the listener, with reasons why you should "CALL NOW". You can tell he's excited about the product by the way he raises his voice.
- The female equivalent of b): some saccharine-voiced woman, speaking through a smile as wide as her face and as natural as phenylalanine. "Call us now, on oneeighthundred eighthundred onetwothree", she coos, breathily, as if to seduce your credit card out of your wallet with her siren-song.
One thing one notices about commercial radio is the way all the advertisers (and the announcers) constantly speak with that "I'm Excited! Ask Me Why!" tone of voice; their voices are always raised, sometimes to the point of shouting, and each syllable sounds like the start of a new sentence.
Why anybody would willingly choose to subject themselves to this, I do not know. Though I have some theories; perhaps the constant sugar-rush of excitement in the advertisers' voices is contagious, acting as a subconscious stimulant, helping the average working stiff through their otherwise tedious and/or exhausting day with a plastic smile on their face, and keeping them from realising the all-pervading emptiness of their life and collapsing into black despair? It's just a theory.
As for me? I'll stick to 3RRR, thanks.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's Movable Type weblogs demanding that one enters an email address when posting a comment. This, I believe, is a useless requirement, and serves no purpose except to make posters jump through more hoops; it's the equivalent of useless bureaucracy.
Why is it useless? Well, if you submit your email address, it will either be displayed on the web or it won't. If it is, then, sooner or later, a spam spider will come along and harvest it and the address will be inundated with advertising for dodgy debt-elimination/penis-enlargement schemes until the end of time. If it isn't, then why bother collecting the email address? It's not actually used to send a password to the user or anything like that. It's like the "Anonymous login OK, send email address as password" thing FTP servers send, only even less sensical, as back when FTP came about, some human may have conceivably looked through the email addresses thus entered and gotten information out of them. (And that's not counting the sites which don't show addresses in their HTML but leak them in their RSS feeds, but I digress.)
So you decide to write 'none' or something. No dice; Movable Type has ways of making you submit something that looks like an email address (or, to be precise, that is within a Perl regexp's distance of one). Not that it does much to defend the MT email address collection system's integrity against spam-wary users; something like 'email@example.com' fools it. In other words, the enforcement mechanism is strong enough to be annoying, but utterly useless against someone determined not to comply.
It's not a huge effort to remember to type firstname.lastname@example.org or something in every time you post a comment to a blog, but that's not the point. The point is that there is no logical reason to enforce this requirement, and a very good reason for not entering one's real email address on any such form. It is also impossible to verify whether the address coerced out of the users is valid or just looks like it might be. As such, the decision to require email addresses in comment posting forms is bad design, and does nothing other than annoying users and filling databases with garbage.
Charlie Stross has a rant up titled "Ten reasons why I do not read HTML email".
While I don't take as hard a line on it as Mr. Stross, I pretty much agree with the sentiment; HTML email is wasteful, a nonstandard kludge mandated by the Microsoft/Netscape marketing departments and rarely if ever does it do anything text can't do. I also use Mutt as my mail client; reading my mail involves logging into a UNIX machine I have a shell account on and running mutt; this means I'm not tied to reading my mail where I keep my (hypothetical) copy of Outlook/Eudora/Apple Mail and don't have to depend on webmail systems (which are, at best, a compromise; they're good if you're backpacking through Outer Mongolia or something but not something you'd want to use from day to day).
I still don't read mail with JPEGs/Microsoft Word documents/&c. though. And when Microsoft Trusted DRM-Mail or whatever comes in, I won't read that.
If one good thing was to come out of the (alleged) current anti-French mood in the US it would be that Marcel guy in Linux Journal toning down his corny "French chef" act. Though, as of the "March 2003" issue, it doesn't seem to have happened.
Today's sonic atrocity from the Melbourne Central station PA system: Charles & Eddie, Would I Lie To You. Urgh, Blue-Eyed Soul; sort of like boy-band R&B for old fogies.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's Bryan Adams songs being played on PA systems at railway stations. There should be a law against ubiquitous performance of Bryan Adams in public places (perhaps under the Geneva Convention, if we're still signatories to that oh-so-September-10 piece of paper, that is). I was subjected to Everything I Do I Do It For You whilst waiting for the train home this evening. That braying, jeans-too-tight vocal, and that moose-mating-call guitar riff were still looping in my head when I got off the train. Not a pleasant experience.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I HATE...
it's the piped music at
Museum Melbourne Central station.
The station has an expertly-designed PA system which gives uniform coverage
of all parts of the station, from the escalator leading into it to the
platforms. Unfortunately, some marketing type at the newly-privatised
operators of the station decided to "add value" to the waiting-for-a-train
experience by piping music through this system. The music, in this case, being
past chart hits, adult-contemporary rock ballads and bubblegum R&B.
Supposedly, on average, people like this.
Thanks to you, Mr. Bayside Trains Marketroid, I now have I've Had The Time Of My Life playing in my head, I hate you, Mr. Marketroid.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's people who go to band venues and talk loudly over the music, as if cognitively incapable of perceiving a distinction between a group of actual musicians playing for them and a radio tuned to FOX-FM*. I went to see Dandelion Wine tonight at SubTerrain; when the band started playing, a lot of the people kept talking loudly amongst themselves, oblivious to the music. One table, which seemed to be comprised of jocks and Barbie dolls, was the worst offender; Why can't people like that just go to a pub or something?
* FOX-FM is a commercial radio station in Melbourne which plays current and the past few years' Top 40 swill, and is typically heard in establishments frequented by people of no musical discernment. It is indistinguishable from MMM and TT-FM.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's prolonged spells of hot weather. Two of the posters in my room have gotten into the habit of falling off their respective walls, most probably because the heat has deteriorated the Blu-Tak (or, more precisely, the bright green Blu-Taklike adhesive) holding them up to the point of unusability.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's the piped music they've started playing in City Loop stations. There are speakers covering the entire station, which until now have been used exclusively for announcements. Now, perhaps to make the new, privatised train companies look more like a service, they have started playing what can be loosely termed music from these. The music covers the gamut of naff radio fodder from Phil Collins to Celine Dion to indeterminable boyband ballads. Some executive at Bayside Trains probably thinks this creates a pleasant environment.
Insert Wayne Kerr intro here: If there's one thing worse than that bloody busker playing on the train, it would probably have to be an entire teenage grunge band playing on the train. Some genius at Connex had the idea that live bands would attract more customers, and so they recruited a bunch of teenagers who could almost play Smells Like Teen Spirit (they got through the intro before fumbling and going onto another song). Their drum kit and amplifiers were set up in the aisle; being a Friday afternoon, this made the rest of the carriage considerably more cramped; and never mind the oldies like myself who aren't into three-chord yoof-rawk.
The most amusing thing was the gaggle of teenage girls standing in the aisle, watching the band and carrying on. Obviously they were not groupies, but were pretending to be groupies, and having a lot of fun doing so. Oh, the hypermediated postmodernism of it all...
Speaking of that bloody busker, btw, he was on the train again this evening, and since there was only one carriage open, there was no chance of escape. Maybe next time he asks for requests I'll ask him to play something likely to be outside of his repertoire; at the moment it's a tie between Anarchy in the UK and I Should Be So Lucky.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's loud, obnoxious sports fans. Given that this was Grand Final weekend in Melbourne (something to do with a bunch of blokes kicking a ball around a field to appease the gods or something), they were out in force on public transport. As was I, commuting between the old and new premises. Last night, as I was sitting on the train, trying to read, I had the misfortune of sharing a row of seats with three drunken revellers, one of whom (an obese woman with a high, screeching voice not unlike fingernails on a blackboard) insisted on singing (or rather bellowing) the Essendon football club song and accosting other passengers, telling them to support her team. Her companions tried to tell her to shut up, but she wouldn't have a bar of that. I was attempting to read my book, studiously ignoring her attempts to strike up a conversation; needless to say, I didn't get much reading done in that journey.
Today it wasn't quite so bad (by some miracle, I avoided that particular train that would be packed to sardine-can densities with a sweaty crush of football-scarved biomass, instead getting a subsequent one with some stragglers), though the raucous, off-key choruses of football fans that kept erupting were not pleasant.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate...* it's homies who play their ghetto blasters on public transport. I was catching a train this evening and had the misfortune to share a carriage with a posse of such miscreants. About four of them were seated at the front of the carriage, attired in tracksuits, with a flip case full of CDs and a loud portable stereo, putting on CD after CD, debating amongst themselves what to play next.
But the crowning horror was what they were treating their fellow commuters to. It was not underground gangsta rap, as one might reasonably respect of a crew of tracksuited badasses; nor was it some major-label manufactured rap, as a bunch of suburban poseurs could get away with being into. It was boy-band R&B.
Perhaps that's some kind of peacock-tail phenomenon of conspicuously flaunting one's badness, as in "I'm such a mackdaddy that I can play utter crap and no-one will fuck with me". Or perhaps it's a mutant form of vandalism; the sonic equivalent of kicking out windows and tearing up seats.
* with apologies to the Doug Anthony Allstars.
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate...
It's dance nazis.
I went to see the Ku-Ling Brothers tonight. Not a bad show, with synths,
turntables and live drums/guitars (if a bit confused and
generic-breakbeat-dance in places; not quite as cutting-edge as I had hoped
something featuring the founder of Cabaret Voltaire would be).
At one stage, as I was watching the show, a girl behind me tapped me on
the shoulder and said, "excuse me, but you're standing in the middle of the
dance floor." Well, excuse me, Ms. Dance Nazi , but I came here to see a
band play. As it happens, I didn't feel like making the effort of going
through socially-acceptable dancing motions throughout it; had I felt that
way I'd have gone to one of the many nightclubs the kids go to to shake their
booty to canned doof, as opposed to going to see a live fucking band.
Anyway, that's my story, so spread the hate. And praise "Bob".