Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Am Legend

I've heard great things about the book, so decided to check it out before seeing the Will Smith movie. Some thoughts:

1. It was written in 1954 and is set in 1976-1979. So the interval between writing and it's setting (22 years) is less than the time that's passed since it's setting (32 years, give or take). This makes for a few interesting anachronisms. The main character (Robert Neville) has to fiddle with the choke on his car, for instance. But on the whole, the book seemed remarkably contemporary given its age.

2. The book is set in LA and the movie appears to be in NY. No big deal.

3. I bought the version with Will Smith on the cover not realizing it was a collection of stories by Richard Matheson. So when the story ended on page 171, I still thought I had another 140 pages to go. I enjoyed the story a great deal, but I feel somehow cheated. I never got to brace myself for the ending.

4. The psychological elements seem really authentic to me: Loneliness, despair, violence, self-loathing. I'm not sure about the dog in the movie trailer - seems inconsistent with Neville' loneliness in the book.

5. Lastly, the "brilliant scientist" bit in the movie tagline better be misleading - Neville was an average guy in the book, and that seemed important to me.

A good read, as long as you realize it's short.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Amazon's Customer Service

I ordered two books from Amazon.com on October 13th. By my count, that is exactly 14 days ago. One of the books was in stock and promptly shipped. The second is "unavailable" right now. I guess that means back ordered. Or the truck carrying the books drove off a bridge or something. This is not a big deal.

What IS A big deal: In the 14 days since I ordered the book, I've received 10 emails from Amazon about the book. At least half of them required me to log into Amazon's site and approve a change in the delivery day.
We need you to approve the new delivery day by October 25 2007, or we will cancel the item(s) from your order if they have not shipped by then. Please visit the Order Update page in Your Account at the address below to approve the delay for the unavailable item(s)
The part that kills me: "...or we will cancel the items(s) from your order" I'm sorry, what?
Now, I appreciate that they feel bad about the delay, and want to offer me the chance to cancel it and get the item from another vendor. But just cancel it if I choose to say nothing? I've had to log in five separate times over the past week to approve the shipping delay. There is no option for "Ship whenever it's available" or "I don't give a crap when it arrives, just ship it when you can."

This is so frustrating that I actually called Amazon (somewhat tricky, they keep their phone number hidden behind about six separate links). A nice woman answered and promised to pass this along and "personally follow up," whatever that means.

Ten seconds after I got off the phone with them, I got another email.
We always strive to provide a high level of service, and we would appreciate your feedback. Please let us know if we resolved your inquiry. If yes, click here, if not, click here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In Rainbows

I bought Radiohead's new album today. They are selling it themselves, in case you haven't heard (it was even on morning addition the day it came out). The interesting part is that you can choose the price you want to pay (plus a little bit for handling/bandwidth/whatever).

I paid £5.00 for it, so the total was £5.45, or about $11.77.

We are on track 4 of the first listen ("All I Need"). So far, I like it. Not as outright strange as Kid A or Amnesiac, but still different (innovative?) than most mainstream music. Lots of dissonance, lots of melancholy. Right up my alley (musically speaking).

Having listened once to half the album, I'm going to recommend it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Inbox Zero

I did something crazy in gmail today.  I used a feature that's been sitting there right in front of me since the beginning: "Archive."

7,475 messages.  Not that many by some people's standards, but it's still a lot.  I should go through and just delete a lot of them, bit that takes time.

Via Daring Fireball, I learned about Merlin Mann's "Inbox Zero" strategy.  It's worth a look.  The simple act of moving all those messages to the archive was strangely liberating.  They're all still there under "All Mail," they all still show up in search, but they are outa sight, outa mind.  My inbox is completely empty.

Based on "Inbox Zero,"  I also turned off my Google Notifier.  It checks Gmail every minute, so I was constantly being interrupted by the "ding" when new mail arrived.   Now I check mail when I think of it - when I need a mental break from whatever I'm working on usually.

Two small steps toward email not ruling my life.  It feels better already.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Assassins of Laughter

This is just too much. Clowns gunned down in the streets of Bogata. And they weren't even mimes. The bit about "Acrobats, harlequins, animal trainers and other circus performers" staging protests just kills me. I wonder if they were in costume.

Sounds like a possible sequel to Shakes the Clown.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sexy Anti-Freeze

Watching SportsCenter and a commercial for "Peak Anti-Freeze" came on featuring Danica Patrick. I had no idea how sexy anti-freeze could be.