Inside Voice

Google: “Sorry, there seems to be a problem.”

For the past ~6 months Google has been giving me this message when I try to reconcile my business email address (james(at)adhack.com) because of a change they’ve made to accounts managed through Google Apps for Domains.

As a result, all the data in my account prior to their change has been dumped in the kludgy james%adhack.com(at)gtempaccounts.com account. But when I try to add that account to an existing account or move it into a new account, I get nowhere. Or, more specifically, I get the error in the attached screenshot.

So I carry on with james%adhack.com(at)gtempaccounts.com for my Reader account and a few other Google services. This felt like a small first-world problem for many months but now feels like a Kafkafian purgatory.

I cannot merge the data into another existing account. I cannot migrate the data into a new account. So james%adhack.com(at)gtempaccounts.com persists.

The larger story is that Google wants me to use its products like Google+ and to pay for Apps for Domains so I can access Docs and Calendar and Mail. But I have no confidence in them delivering on reliability.

And then what? Who resolves the problem?

They say, ‘Sorry, there seems to be a problem.’

And they’re right. There is a problem.

Standard
Findings, Inside Voice

It is not the critic who counts

I like this.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

— Theodore Roosevelt

Found on Destraynor.

Standard
Inside Voice, Nerdery, Vancouvering

2 New Year’s Resolutions: Gymnastics and Drawing

Welcome, 2012.

I have 2 new things I’d like to do with you: gymnastics and drawing.

Gymnastics? Yes. I’d like to try out gymnastics, again.

Last time I was taking any gymnastics I was in the 5 to 7-year-old range, so it’s  return to youth, to recess, to trying to do something new with the body.

I’ve done a little searching and the options in adult gymnastics are scarce. Most are geared towards high-level gymnasts who want to keep training and stay in shape. I am not one of those.

I am an amateur looking to try gymnastics for 1 to 3 months. I have taught myself handstands with low consistency but can’t master the cartwheel. I’d like to be able to do a handspring and to feel comfortable with my body upside down and flipping.

Best option thus far seems to be Phoenix Gymnastics.

And drawing?

Yes. I am a terrible drawer. I have some difficulty with stick figures. Flowcharts I can must in a tortured fashion but I need some basic skills: shape, perspective, composition, scale. The fundamentals.

The search is on for a class. If you have anything to suggest, please let fly.

And all the best in 2012.

Standard
Inside Voice, Nerdery, Vancouvering

An Inventory of the Most Dangerous Cars and Drivers in Vancouver

For the past decade I’ve been driving in Vancouver. During that time I’ve accumulated a goodly amount of knowledge about the drivers and cars on our city’s streets, and which ones that you need to watch the fuck out for.

As a public service, I now present my personal observations in a collection available for peer review and scrutiny: an inventory of the most dangerous cars and drivers in Vancouver.

The Most Dangerous Cars

It goes without saying that a few types of cars are dangerous. Cabs, of course, have no karma. Avoid them because you know they will screw you six ways to Sunday.

Models and Colours

  • Toyota Corolla — champagne is worst, followed by white.
  • Toyota Camry — like Jim Morrison’s lyrics: wandering, wandering. Again, light colours are worst.
  • Minivans — the zepplins of the road these cocoons of distractions and cup holders make side and rear visibility difficult. Their blind spot is everywhere not directly in front of them. Stay back or pass quickly.
  • Honda Civic — sometimes dangerous, sometimes not. Look for additional telltale signs, listed below.

The Most Dangerous Drivers

  • Cell phone users
  • Parents with babies and / or pets in the car
  • Those who rely on back-window mirrors or rear-view cameras
  • Those with beepers that signal when they back up (nanny sirens)
  • Hat wearers of a certain vintage
  • Those who refuse to use the indicators
  • Lazy turners who cut corners short
  • Anyone looking for a parking spot

Additional Signs of Danger

Sometimes cars that don’t match the make or colour of the ones above or without the driver attributes above can still be a hazard to your health on the road.

But like poisonous snakes and berries, telltale signs reveal their danger.

I’ve collected a list of some of the most obvious signs to watch for below, from roughly most dangerous and most obvious, to less dangerous and less obvious. If you have additions, please add them. This is public service in action.

  • Student Driver cars — need I say more?
  • Learner and New driver stickers — as above but slightly less deadly.
  • The rear-window tissue box — always foretells erratic turns.
  • Dash-mounted cartoon characters — the distraction of all that cuteness bobbing on springs must be why they’re wandering lanes.
  • Out-of-province license plates — particularly from Alberta. They’re gawking, lost and looking for parking for the steam clock or the sign to Stanley Park.
  • Car co-op and car share programs like Zipcar — these folks don’t drive much and don’t own that car they’re driving.
  • Rental cars — see both items above. Rental cars combine at least one of those elements.
  • Loaner cars from auto body shops — proof they’ve already cracked up a car.

Now please, add your findings so we can make the world a better place.

Standard
Findings, Inside Voice, Nerdery

A model for creating great advertising: inheritance, product, pretending

A model for understanding the key ingredients of great advertising: inheritance, product, pretending.

Have I’ve spoken to you about this before?

If so, now I’m following up with some early-stage draft ideas. If not, here’s the background.

I’m working on a bit of a model for creating great advertising.

My idea is that great advertising emerges from 3 things: an inheritance, a product and pretending. The image above presents a conceptual model.

The idea rose from reading this post by Russell Davies on pretending.

When adverting can hit the middle of this model, it succeeds. Big time.

The trouble is: everyone has their own version of the above model in their head. That’s what makes good advertising so tough to do.

Everyone has their own frame of reference (inheritance), usage patterns (product) and imagination (pretending). So everyone’s experience of the advertising is different.

Okay, that’s assumed. But can this model help us understand the ingredients needed to get beyond that unique experience and to a common experience?

That’s what I’d like you to help me with.

I’m trying to work out some clever, salient things to say that make sense of this idea and this model. I’d love to hear what you think about the model overall and about how useful it is.

Best,
James@adhack.com

(and comments way below too!)

Standard
Findings, Inside Voice, Nerdery

The great game of Moral High Ground

Ask Metafilter asks: What clever relationship “hacks” have you come up with?

Stuck on an island replies:

At last it is time to reveal to an unwitting world the great game of Moral High Ground. Moral High Ground is a long-playing game for two players. The following original rules are for one M and one F, but feel free to modify them to suit your player setup:

1. The object of Moral High Ground is to win.

2. Players proceed towards victory by scoring MHGPs (Moral High Ground Points). MHGPs are scored by taking the conspicuously and/or passive-aggressively virtuous course of action in any situation where culpability is in dispute.

(For example, if player M arrives late for a date with player F and player F sweetly accepts player M’s apology and says no more about it, player F receives the MHGPs. If player F gets angry and player M bears it humbly, player M receives the MHGPs.)

3. Point values are not fixed, vary from situation to situation and are usually set by the person claiming them. So, in the above example, forgiving player F might collect +20 MHGPs, whereas penitent player M might collect only +10.

4. Men’s MHG scores reset every night at midnight; women’s roll over every day for all time. Therefore, it is statistically highly improbable that a man can ever beat a woman at MHG, as the game ends only when the relationship does.

5. Having a baby gives a woman +10,000 MHG points over the man involved and both parents +5,000 MHG points over anyone without children.

My ex-bf and I developed Moral High Ground during our relationship, and it has given us years of hilarity. Straight coupledom involves so much petty point-scoring anyway that we both found we were already experts.

By making a private joke out of incredibly destructive gender programming, MHG releases a great deal of relationship stress and encourages good behavior in otherwise trying situations, as when he once cycled all the way home and back to retrieve some forgotten concert tickets “because I couldn’t let you have the Moral High Ground points”. We are still the best of friends.

Play and enjoy!

The great game of Moral High Ground

Standard
Inside Voice

Toyota Pruis: Greenwashing a Guilty Conscience with a Crap Car

So let’s get this out of the way right away: I have no f-sharp love for the Toyota Pruis.

I hate the car and I hate what it stands for.

The car? Here’s a credible Toyota Pruis review:

Nothing about the insides feels familiar in the traditional sense, unless you are a prior Prius person. The new interior is swathed in low rent plastics which emit nauseating vapors, leather seats (if so equipped) that made me long for Naugahyde and gauges which were not only situated well out of sightlines, but rendered in a primitive digital manner which were indecipherable even up close. Of course I could always tell how slowly I was driving from the desperate looks on the faces of the drivers eager to get past me.

The 2010 Prius’ ergonomics were designed for only two kinds of creatures: those who like to sit five inches back from the front windshield and orangutans. Everyone else will find that the steering wheel, adjustable now for tilt and reach, is still too far away for a proper seat position. There is a nice new electric lumbar support in the seats, which are otherwise unsupportive and ill-shaped.

The driving experience was engineered by faeries. There is an Unbelievable Lightness of Steering, flagrant disregard for handling and a general sense that you are not in a car at all but some anti-gravity device which yaws and rolls without regard for normal physics. I would rather visit my dentist than drive the Prius again—at least he gives me laughing gas.

And what the car stands for? 3 reasons:

  1. Because its environmental credibility is a lie.

    It maintains the myth that if people make the right purchase decisions we can buy our way out of our pollution problems. This is perfect horseshit. A new Prius is incredibly costly to the environment.

    Want to help out the planet? Keep your existing car and keep it in great working condition. Or buy a used one. That sunk cost is gone so use it to its max.

    Because the Prius will be old one day too, and then what?

  2. Because in North America it obscures the bigger problem: that our living arrangements are the main reason we’re polluters.

    If you want to create less pollution, live in a place that doesn’t require you to create pollution for all your travel. Screw the suburbs.

    I have little sympathy for commuters looking to assuage the guilt of their housing decisions with a new toy.

  3. Because of the way it’s sold to consumers as a decision they make to love people. Who could be against that?

    I am. Imagine a Venn diagram with 3 circles: narcissism, guilt and disposable income. The ad above (the making of the big Prius ad) hits straight at the heart of the overlap of those 3.

    And since I think the product benefits are a lie it makes the selling of those product benefits, dressed up with a children’s song and costumes, more reprehensible.

And that’s all after I had a day to consider my reaction to the new Prius.

Standard