Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nutritional Supplements for the Extremely Paranoid

Like most people, you take vitamin and mineral supplements, and you don't want them contaminated with colorants like titanium dioxide or caustic additives like ascorbic acid. Unlike most people, you worry about it a lot.

Let Organic Complex Distributors give you what you want: peace of mind. OCD nutritional supplements are completely free of additives, and are without question the safest products on the market. While not technically a vitamin or mineral, they contain no cereal fillers, no questionable GMO algal extracts, and absolutely no retinol, which can cause skin irritation.

You don't have to worry about PCB's because we don't use Alaskan salmon, Arctic-sourced krill or triple filtered cod liver oil. We realized that these sources are simply not safe enough.

It doesn't stop there. We fret about the things that you haven't become obsessed with yet. We don't use dangerous androgen-inhibiting plastics or glass bottles that leach heavy metals. Paper is unacceptable because it is full of dioxins. Metal will pick up microwaves, and aluminum foil will give you Alzheimer's. What about that horrible "pill factory air" that's in those other vendor's bottles? And hey, is that wad of cotton organic? You know, it doesn't matter. The cotton could give you Morgellons Disease. Are you starting to see why our product is the only one you should trust?

Our "Piece of Mind" brand supplements provide 100% guaranteed peace of mind because that's all you get. Nothing else. And nobody sells nothing like we do.

Not happy? Return the unused portion to us for a full refund.

Friday, January 27, 2012

37 Seconds of Ads for One Dumb-Ass Video

I got a contract from an advertising company recently. It was a cool opportunity, and they were paying good money, but the weekend after I was hired, I was watching a broadcast of a four hour event that I cared about only to have it interrupted every 15 minutes by 30 seconds of the most obnoxious advertising imaginable.

When I looked at the HTML, I saw that the advertising was delivered by the very company I was now working for. I left the following Monday. I never invoiced them.

So today I went to use a web e-mail service and there was a funny little video about a weatherman who had an on-air rant.

Annoyed Weatherman Goes on Extended Rant

However to get to this bit of fluff I would have to watch 37 seconds of advertisements. I clicked away.

I'm glad I left the ad job.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Usability Fails #1: Pen with Instructions You Actually Need

This pen came with instructions. Surprise, I couldn't figure out how to use it until I read those instructions. Key bit is: "Hold the pen backward about 30° inclining...."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lucid PowerPoint #2: Protect Your Artwork

Stealing artwork for use in a presentation is bad.

Let's consider an example. Do you know who this character is?

That's right, you don't know, because it's Carl, a character I created just for this series of posts on effective presentations, a character in no way associated with any currently syndicated comic strip with complicated licensing rules.

I made sure to add distinctive features to protect against copyright infringement. For example, the orange power shirt. Notice that there's absolutely no hair above his ears. And he's always carrying that cup of pomegranate juice.

You can use the same techniques to protect your artwork. If you're really worried, take a cue from stock image sites and add some anti-piracy lines:

What do you do if people like your character and use it in their presentations despite the flagrant illegality? If you include a standard copyright warning on the first and last pages of your presentation, they'll at least have fair warning:
Citizens of the Empire, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Watercolor Torte Fundibulum (WTF) are all here to protect you and to keep the U.S. economy functioning in some form. Take advantage of them. The RIAA has recommended that everyone be sued preemptively out of respect for all music and art. People who exploit your artist's artwork in the public arena of the meeting room without paying you, and very indirectly your syndicated artist, every last fraction of a cent that is rightfully yours simply because they like and respect said work are thieves and belong in the courtroom to protect the economy as previously mentioned. Add to Cart

Monday, November 14, 2011

Are User Experience Designers All Morons?

Q: Vidad, sometimes I think the UX Designers who roll through this place are all morons. Do you think that's true or am I imagining things?

A: Well, would you ask someone at a used car dealership whether their salespeople were only in it for the money? Before you answer, let me remind you that of course you wouldn't, because you understand that their personal mission statement is to get you remarkable value in previously-owned transportation. That's why you're there. It's exactly the same situation when your company hires a UX person.

In short, of course they're morons. That's not meant to be hurtful. Really I only mean it in the professional sense. They sort of have to be. Smart people cannot see problems with the same ease as someone who is easily confused by simple things. It's a savant gift.

Thanks to the conjunction of a privileged upbringing, traumatic stress from the rigors of art school, and the excessive consumption of substances normally avoided even by the tribal shaman, certain individuals can become preoccupied with matters so utterly inconsequential that they are practically invisible to everyone else. Psychiatrists are aware of the affliction but have never bothered to give it a name since it is generally considered harmless and only some of them starve to death.

A transformative event occurred one day in early 1996, when one of these very special persons (most of whom were at the time doing street theatre or selling glow-in-the-dark hula hoops at Koh Phangan full moon parties) discovered that a large dysfunctional corporation would actually pay him for the service of pointing out the obvious. This rapidly led to what is now known as the Summer of Cashing In. Overnight, behavior that in other fields would be considered a stroke symptom had become an asset, a "constantly fresh perspective."

Over the years we became conditioned by the new reality, and today are no longer flabbergasted to hear this type of absurdity cycling through the workplace:
  • "When you press the doorbell, it should ring. Here's your bill."
  • "The issue here is that you aren't using Semantic Color Mapping. By selectively adding thin bands of fluorescent color to communicate... um... wow, those paragraphs are kind of shaped like Jerry Garcia's beard... so uh... your customers... what were we talking about? No problem, my webinar explains it all. Here's your bill."
  • "Oh, I see the problem. The issue is that you are causing Semantic Color Blindness through the over-application of thin bands of fluorescent colors. Here's your bill."
So the next time a UX Designer pipes up in a meeting with painful inanity, console yourself with the knowledge that forty years ago someone like this would have been miming invisible boxes on the street corner.

*The above is a neurotic dramatization based on nothing more than my resentment over not having this job. Lest you feel the sudden urge to start billing for the obvious, remember that UX Designers typically have an advanced degree in Psychology from a prestigious university with a background human factors, a keen understanding of the human condition, and a house in Palo Alto.

Behind the Scenes at the Balgoni Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Commercial

Director Frederico Brontolare is steaming. "No, Bridget, we've been over this already! You have to put the cheese in your mouth before you say that! BEFORE, OK??"

In the next take, the attractive actress lifts the cheese into her mouth and exclaims, "Mmm, Bal...kkaahk," and then coughs the slice back across the table.

"Frederico, how am I supposed to say that line with a big slice of cheese in my mouth?"

"Having something in your mouth has never stopped you from talking before," he mutters.

It's three o'clock in the afternoon and the shoot is not going well. After repeated takes, the scene is finally in the can.

Frederico is still concerned. "The next scene is the American businessman, and this guy is like a piece of cardboard with a fashion photo on it. To watch him, you'd think he'd never eaten anything before today."

"Mmm, Balgoni!" says the actor.

"Did you see that? He had all the enthusiasm of someone filling out an itemized tax return.

"Everyone here is just too good looking for something this complicated," sighs Brontolare.

In the News: Global Threat From Invasive Species

Invasive Species DNA Found in 100% of Locations Tested

This is probably in your house
Scientists tracking the spread of invasive species have identified an alarming threat to the global ecosystem. Unlike other invasive species such as Asian Carp, Soybean Rust, or Zebra Mussels, this threat is truly global, risking world-wide environmental collapse.

"The DNA from these things seems to be everywhere we go," said an anonymous United Nations Environmental Program Director.

"We're finding the indicators in 100% of all samples, even in the most remote and pristine areas. What's scary is that this organism disrupts the food chain, causing extreme devastation. It can turn pristine natural habitats into deserts in a matter of decades."

The species, a type of primate, has spread to all corners of the earth.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In the News: Outsourcing Courtesy

In the late 90's, customer support call centers were a thorny problem for most companies. They were expensive, and only a handful of Americans from the midwest had the knack for it. Then someone had an epiphany: provide high quality, low cost support by employing well-educated Indian professionals, already fluent in English, and skilled in responding politely to almost any form of grievous personal insult.

Fifteen years later, the unfortunate side effect of this practice is that an entire nation now sees the United States as a giant strip mall infested with perpetually pissed off whiners who exist only to complain about the trivial.

"Based on my experience, they seem to be an unusually stupid people," said Amrit Desai, eight year veteran of the customer service front lines. "I used to admire the U.S., but that has changed. Now whenever I am searching for a metaphor to express my displeasure at a bad smell, or when someone is acting especially childish, I invariably make a comparison to an irate city dweller who can't turn on their espresso maker, or to some pampered suburbanite with a lost credit card."

"Callers seem to think I am the embodiment of the company they are calling in all its imperfection. However, I am just an employee of said company. Most of my friends would understand such a distinction and behave accordingly."

"You know, when I travel or interact with others, I consider myself an ambassador from my country to the world. It seems this concept is not known to all Americans."

[This article is a projection based on my interactions with customer support call centers.]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Terms of Concern in Software Job Listings

When a realtor says "commuter's dream," that means "located directly under the interstate highway." Similarly, software job postings in 2011 have their own language.

Senior Web Architect

Date: 2011-10-25, 10:30AM PST
Reply to:

Get to know how our company operates by interviewing over a two day period with our entire engineering team. Tell us in detail how you would design a production e-commerce web site. We'll throw plenty of tough questions at you, almost as though you were really consulting for us.

Mobile App Game Designer

Date: 2011-10-25, 11:23AM PST
Reply to:

You'll be creating the next Angry Birds from our one-man office in Milpitas, located in parking space C34 in front of the Starbucks with good WiFi. No telecommuting. Duties include mentoring the new offshore team by providing them with a working prototype and training, and hourly cellphone conference calls with each of the twelve directors and their assorted VPs. Experience placating nervous investors a plus. Six week contract position, with a standard 20 million dollar liability clause.

Startup Opportunity

Date: 2011-10-25, 12:41PM PST
Reply to:

Do you have a persistent and insatiable thirst for excellence? Are you constantly raising the bar of passion? Then this may be the hot startup opportunity you've been waiting for!

We're still in stealth mode, but we can tell you that we are going to replace the web browser with something even better: the kweb browser. We've been at it since 1997, and our founder's enigmatic vision for the project has grown more monumental and utopian with every passing year. We even created our own alternative to JavaScript called Kwestion, based on the most unusual features of Lisp, Perl and Tcl. Now that the sixth development team has left, we're primed to take off.

Are you ready to stand on the edge of possibility before jumping off into the realm of pure imagination? Are you the Kwestion-able developer who can put us where we need to go?

Code Shredder

Date: 2011-10-25, 2:38PM PST
Reply to:

Get stoked, grab your board and shmob on over to our sick, incoherent 24-hour work party in the balmy Nevada desert. Experience what Wired magazine said was " Dante would envision... burning... man... for coders."

Excellent benefits include an in-house laundry. New hires get 100 points to mana in the company store upon completion of two week indoctrination retreat.

User Experience Handler

Date: 2011-10-25, 7:13PM PST
Reply to:

Join the team at Cialio, the hot new social networking site for small countries. We're looking for a User Experience/User Interface Designer with a great eye and an ACTIVE SECRET level security clearance.

The right candidate should have experience in the following: mockups, information architecture, cutting edge 3D graphics algorithm optimization for GPUs, on-demand battlefield CNC manufacturing, mission critical satellite-based aircraft control systems, real-time global weather modeling using massively parallel networked supercomputers, some exposure to quantum computing theory, and Photoshop.

Nice to haves: editing encrypted machine language byte streams upside down in a harness hanging from a helicopter flying through conflict zones, and Adobe Illustrator.

Must have an active social life and be outdoorsy with a wonderfully wry sense of humor. We are NOT looking for a robot... well, not for this position anyway.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fight Childhood Obesity The Natural Way: With Fear

Suburban children rarely encounter hungry wild animals. This means they don't run enough, and they can become slow and chubby. You can make up for this lack of exercise through proven weight loss techniques such as scary bedtime stories. Anxiety and fear will help your child shed extra pounds without the hassle of living in a wildlife sanctuary.
"Children, today we are going to learn about the dangerous killer animals that lurk all around us. You weren't told about them in order to protect you."
Balloon Shark"Inflates itself with air, floats up from the ocean into the sky and then descends into back yards, looking for small household pets to eat. When pets are not available, it has been known to gobble up girls wearing Disney princess dresses."
Tire Snake"Wraps itself around the tires of small bicycles. Careless children who do not see the snake get on their bike and are typically swallowed whole."
Cereal Wasps"Usually found in Safeway stores, these insects create brightly colored hives out of cereal box cardboard. Normally only parents can spot them. Grabby children who reach up to take cereal without permission risk hundreds of painful stings."
Video Game Tarantula"This ravenous spider has migrated from Central America in shipments of video game consoles. When a child spends more than an hour playing video games and no longer responds to calls to do homework or eat dinner, the creature will slowly... crawl... over.... What follows is simply too gruesome to tell you."
Mattress Piranhas
"In some areas of the country, there is something so terrifying that... look, they've never been found where we live, so don't worry... well, not yet anyway... um... so, in some areas of the country, mattresses can become infested with tiny, savage, razor-toothed piranha fish. These have mutated due to the flame retardents and other chemicals in the mattress, and no longer need moisture. However, when a child wets the bed, they burst through the thin covering of the mattress. Imagine mom and dad's reaction in the morning when all they find are bones! It's quite traumatic for them.
"Many people do not realize that mattress piranhas were bred by a man who was trying to protect children from the terrible scourge of ceiling locusts, but that's another story."
"Good night, my dears. Don't let the bed bugs bite!"