Irony: Environmentalists versus “Cape Wind”

First of all, I'm not without some sympathy for the environmental movement. I am LEED accredited and I think that green building is great, but not because I think that we're going to cook the earth and die. Like most reasonable people, I think that pollution and waste are inherently bad, and that they are often the result of bad design, so I'm against them. That said, I don't think that the government should legislate sweeping sustainability reforms, force me to eat organic, or round up and murder all of the SUV's. Generally speaking, I don't like it when environmentalists try to force people to save the earth. But the point of the story is that I think it's funny when environmentalists get pushed around by other environmentalists. Bobby Kennedy Jr., himself a prominent green advocate, has come out strongly against the wind farm proposed off of Nantucket Sound (SEE ALSO). This may or may not be because of the ocean view enjoyed by the Kennedy's Nantucket estate.

Here's a group of green advocates urging him to change his position:

"Nothing threatens the Earth's most special places more than global warming. The changes being wrought by our warming of the atmosphere are melting the Arctic tundra, overheating the Amazon rainforest, and heating the oceans. We are, simply put, in a state of ecological emergency. Constructing windmills six miles from Cape Cod, where they will be visible as half-inch dots on the horizon is the least that we can do."

The letter ends with "...we urge you to reconsider your position..." and so on followed by a ridiculously long list of the people who got together to pen the letter. I like that it has a subtle petition component to it — here's a long list of people who are mad at you. So the environmentalist gets called out for NIMBYism and is bullied and guilted into submission by his peers.

No one likes to be bossed around or guilted into things, so it's funny to see the pusher get pushed every now and then. It's easy to support abstractions like ocean wind farms to create clean, sustainable energy, but things can get hairy pretty quickly: Where do they go? Who's in charge? Who's paying for it? What if x, y, or z happens? I like that one of the people telling everyone that they need to buy a hybrid, recycle, and picket polluting mega-companies is getting served an angry letter urging him to do his part to save the world. Isn't the view from your family summer home a small price to pay to save our Mother Earth? Maybe it's not funny, but I laughed.

SEE ALSO: He actually compares the Sound to Yosemite. HA!


The New iPhone Prototype Debacle

John Gruber's thoughts on Gizmodo, the tech website that broke the story complete with photos, videos, and internal component breakdown. Click through and read the whole thing. Gruber nails it. On being dumb or playing dumb:

"I'm fascinated by their apparently cavalier attitude regarding the legal implications of their actions. I'm not offended by their decision to obtain this unit and publish everything they were able to ascertain regarding it. It simply boggles my mind the stakes they have effectively wagered that Apple will not pursue this legally.

Seriously. I'm not surprised they broke the story either, but what does surprise me is how stupidly they've behaved and how oblivious they seem to be about the likely consequences.

I was shocked to read some of Gizmodo's responses to it all. Editor Jason Chen on the possibility of Apple suing Gizmodo:

"Probably not [...] The only reason they would press charges is to deter people from doing this in the future. Besides, right now, the cat's out of the bag, so there's no point to sue us."

This seems like terrible logic to me. First of all, deterrence is a great reason to sue. Secondly, thanks to Gruber's analysis, I'm confident Apple would have little difficulty winning — it's obvious what Gizmodo and the "finder" have done here.

And more craziness: editorial director Brian Lam quipped about "warm, fuzzy, huggy feelings of legal compliance" after receiving a formal request from Apple's legal representation. How pissed would you be if you were Apple and you had to read this crap? I'd sue them just for spite.

So, am I the only one who thinks Gizmodo's people are acting like a bunch of children? This is what children do when they get caught — they giggle and play nice and claim they didn't know they weren't supposed to do that, and this after a week of analysis, documentation, and planning to break the story. Every image I've seen of the new iPhone has "GIZMODO EXCLUSIVE" plastered on it. These guys knew exactly what they were doing and now they're playing dumb.

If they're really as nonchalant about all of this as they seem, then I think they're very, very foolish.

via Daring Fireball

Practice Makes Passable: Resumes and Work Samples #2

This is the second in a series of posts documenting my evolution as a designer through the lens of resumes and work samples. If you missed the first one, you can find it here.


So in my last Practice Makes Passable post, remember the disclaimer I attached to my first resumes - "...I didn't spend a lot of time or energy...they didn't represent me to any prospective employers..." Right? Well, that was all said in truth, but also to amplify our appreciation of this sample. In contrast to the first, this one does represent some time and energy; it was created specifically for a prospective employer, and I think it's far worse than the first two. I'm not sure what the fonts are, or why "SKILLS" isn’t the same as everything else. I'm also not sure why it's so so terrible.

As before, I have no record of grades or criticism. The only thing I can offer by way of feedback is that I did not get the job.


This one actually got me a job - my first internship. I remember thinking it was good at the time, although the first time I printed it out the size of the type really caught me off guard. I'd grown used to looking at it on a computer screen, and it didn't look good on a real sheet of paper — print often. In spite of this realization, I proceeded to hand them out at Auburn's internship fair, an annual gathering of 70-100 firms from all over the country. In addition to the cartoon layout and type sizes, this resume suffers from bad/excessive_use_of_underscore and bad use | of | the | pipe. But the work samples...

I had a couple dozen interviews at the internship fair, and two of them went particularly well: a firm in Huntsville (my home town) made me an offer, and a firm in Memphis requested some work samples and maybe a follow-up. I'd never done work samples before and so after the interviews, I scrambled to put something together. The results are above, and man are they lousy. As lousy as they are though, they're hard to critique; all I can think of to say is "No, no, no, no, no, no...Wrong. No. Bad. That's bad. Yeah. No, don't sent that. Don't. No." I just can't figure out what I was thinking. Part of the idea was to have one page each for architecture models, architecture drawings, and urban design work. I don't know what the deal was with the black, gray, and white backgrounds. BAD, BAD, BAD.

I sent the work samples and never heard back from the firm in Memphis, which was okay. I couldn't afford to go to Memphis anyway. I took the job in Huntsville and stayed with my folks for free. But most importantly, I consider this a very valuable humiliation. If I hadn't done these bad work samples then, I probably would have done them later, and that would have been a lot worse. My advice is to start failing as early as possible. Young failures come off as adventurous, ambitious, and endearing; old failures are just sad because, after all, they should know better by now, shouldn't they?

In spite of it's shortcomings, I kept this resume around for a couple of years. There were minor changes, but most of my energy went into trying to figure out how to do work samples and portfolios. Someday soon I'm going to post the evolution of my portfolio designs.

Rechargeable Batteries and My New Desk Chair

Yesterday I went to Staples to get a new desk chair [note the the three comfort customization levers; sure, I wish there were a couple more, but the price was right...] and I picked up some batteries and pens as well, and I fear that my actions will offend those among you who fear the impending destruction of the planet as we know it by the reckless pollution, consumption of resources, and the general tomfoolery of the post-industrialized world.

Desk Chair:
The chair I bought was made in China, so chances are the materials were harvested and shipped all around the world using non-sustainable, petro-chemical dependent systems and so on before they ever got to me. As I assembled it (I put it together myself, thank you very much), my apartment filled with the stench of nasty, fake, plastic-tasting chemicals. They wreaked so strongly in fact, I actually opened all of the windows out of fear that I might suffocate to death or inhale carcinogens that could one day metastasize and kill me, and of course when assembling such products, one is forced to confront the ever present threat of friction induced chemical fire and/or explosion.

I went with every intention of buying rechargeable batteries. I already have a charger, and I use rechargeables for almost all of my small electronics (wireless computing and gaming peripherals). When I looked for batteries though, I found that four rechargeables cost $12, whereas twenty, yes TWENTY, regular batteries cost $10 (in both cases Duracell). Also, two of the batteries in the twenty-pack are "ULTRA ADVANCED". I don't know what that means yet, but I do know that the four rechargeables said nothing about being either ULTRA or ADVANCED. The only words they had in all-caps were "DURACELL" and "RECHARGEABLE". Eighteen regular batteries plus two ULTRA ADVANCED batteries for $10 equals SOLD.

EARTH:     0
ME:     1

I'm writing to tell you what I've done, and to say that I'm not sorry. The fumes from my toxic chair will fade as they dissolve in our mutual atmosphere, and when my twenty, yes TWENTY, regular batteries run out of juice, I'll drive a few miles outside of the city and throw them into a river and buy some more. If you sense bitterness, it's because somewhere along the way I got tricked into buying a battery charger, and batteries that cost six times more than regular ones. Lame.

Reunited and It Feels So Good


So I got an Xbox in the mail this week and to my surprise, it's not my old box at all, but a completely new one. It seems that Microsoft sometimes chooses to send replacement boxes so that RROD victims "can get back to playing and enjoying [their] Xbox quicker". Getting a new box is a nice surprise and the whole send in for repair process didn't take as long as I expected. So, while I'm not mad at them anymore, I will be keeping the box they sent me with the foam inserts just in case I get RROD again.

The UPS Store and My Red Ring of Death

So, inevitably the day came that I had to strip my Xbox of its hard-drive and faceplate like the dog tags and letters for home of a fallen fellow soldier and take it in to the local UPS Store for shipment to a mysterious Microsoft repair station somewhere in Texas. When I walked in, I laid my stripped Box down on the counter and the UPS woman (middle aged black lady) instantly asked if I had "the form". I slid the paper across the counter to her thinking "she may have done this before..." While she typed something in, another UPS worker (thirty-something white guy) standing behind her said "Aww, Dude. Did you get the RED RING OF DEATH? That sucks. My roommate had that a few months ago." He went on to tell me about what I've come to know as "The Towel Trick", which is a method of temporarily circumventing the RED RING OF DEATH by wrapping your Box in a warm towel or blanket for about half an hour, at which point it overheats and, for a while at least, forgets that it has the most fatal and dreaded of all console failures, the RROD. [NOTE: Check it out on YouTube if you're interested. The squeaky twelve year old kid that showed me how to do it assured me at the beginning of his video that it doesn't void the warranty. He sounded trustworthy...]

So while we're talking about the RROD and the towel trick, he starts to measure the Box with a tape measure. Before he can finish, the UPS woman (middle aged black lady) interrupts him saying "They're 15" x 13" [NOTE: It turns out Xbox 360's are actually 12.15 in wide x 3.27 in high x 10.15 in deep. But I'm assuming she was referring to the dimensions of the box that I was purchasing, the box that about 54.2 percent of all Xbox 360 owners have purchased over the last couple of years.]

I go on to tell the UPS guy that Microsoft sent me a postage pre-paid adhesive instead of sending a box so I had to buy the box myself - $6.50. Not bad, I guess. Although, originally Microsoft was sending out free boxes [coffins they called them, appropriately morbid] with padded molds inside to protect your 360 during shipment and all you had to do was drop it off. I doubt it cost them $6.50 a box to do that, but it's not the first time Microsoft took the cheap and easy way out at the expense of their customers, is it? [An initial internal test production run of the 360 came back with a 68% fail rate. To be fair, this was just internal testing, but come on. Did they fix it or what?]

Then from across the room, an older white guy (probably 40-50, looks like he's dressed from an L.L. Bean catalog) gets our attention. He's finished getting his package sent off and he comes over to talk to us. "Did you do the overheat thing where you solder the two pieces together?" I said no instantly, because firstly, I can't imagine cracking open my $300 Box with a soldering iron, and secondly, I have some respect for the concept of the warranty, especially in the context of Microsoft's well-documented RROD fiasco. He kept talking: "Yeah, I tried this fix-it-yourself thing I found on YouTube, and it didn't work for S***. I spent like $50 on parts, too. Ended up just buying another one, but I got the Elite this time. It's supposed to be designed differently; they don't have the same problem."

He went after his Box with a soldering iron because of something he saw on YouTube. Unbelievable. And he spent $50 on parts, plus $300 for a brand new Box when he could have sent it off to Microsoft for about $100. What a series of unfortunate decisions. I sure hope he's right about the Elite.

But the point of the story is that I walked into a UPS store with an Xbox and one of the workers instantly knew I had RROD, and his roommate had just recently recovered from RROD. But he was a young white guy and a gamer, so maybe he doesn't count. The other worker though, the middle aged black lady, she knew that I was supposed to have a form for her, and she knew off the top of her head that I needed a 15” x 13” box. AND, some random older guy who didn't look like a gamer at all had had the same problem. So there we were together from all our disparate walks of life united by our shared pain, talking about YouTube, the towel trick, and how Microsoft is a piece of crap.

When I leave the place (promising the young guy that I'll check out Mass Effect 2 and BioShock 2) I'm smiling to myself, and my friend Jonathan is waiting in the car because we're going to lunch. I tell him I just had an interesting talk with a gamer and lay out the whole story and he laughs and laughs and tells me his story. When he had RROD, Microsoft was still sending pre-padded boxes to people. All he had to do was load it up and take it to a UPS drop off location; he chose Staples. When he walked up to the counter with his sealed, unmarked brown box, the young girl working the counter said "Oh, no. Is that your Xbox?"

If a young guy comes in carrying a box of roughly these dimensions, he's a RROD victim. Period. That's incredible.

[This same friend has another similar story. When he got his Apple Magic Mouse in the mail shortly after they released, the delivery guy asked him what it was because he had been delivering identical boxes all over town for days. The UPS life must be kind of interesting. Imagine going to work one day and half of the packages you have to deliver to random people around the city are exactly the same. I'd be really tempted to "lose" one of them just to see what I was missing out on.]

So, maybe I live in a tech oriented part of town or something, but this seems unusual. It makes me believe the insane numbers that have been thrown around regarding Xbox 360 failure rates (54.2%) are probably true. At any rate, all that's left for me to do is sit around and endure what I'm told will be at least three weeks of Boxlessness. I miss the gaming of course; my friend Jonathan and I have a regular appointment every Wednesday night that I haven't been able to honor for nearly a month. What's worse than the gaming fast, is that the Box is our only DVD player, which means we've been watching Netflix on our computer and it's terrible. I mean terrible. The TV hasn't been turned on in weeks, except for the time I was so desperate to get my gaming fix that I fired up the Wii. Which, of course, left me ashamed and completely unsatisfied.

Monique’s Oscar Acceptance Speech

I truly hope that I've missed something here and that Monique's speech was perfectly harmless, but it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I've looked around a bit and it seems that no one is talking about it, so surely I'm in the wrong. At the beginning of her speech Monique says:

"...I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics..."

And she's met by uproarious applause. But doesn't this presume that awarding the Oscar to any of the other nominees would have been a way of showing that it can't be about the performance? If Monique doesn't win, then it's all about politics, right? Who claps for that, and who is so confident in their performance that they're comfortable insulting all of the other nominees? Did the other nominees issue statements saying "If any of us win, it's not about our performances; it's about politics"? What did I miss?

The version above doesn't have the best sound quality, but it does show Samuel L. Jackson making a funny face at the end. Maybe he thought she said something odd as well.

UPDATE: Apparently, I didn't look hard enough. Check out a reasonable explanation here. I guess that means Samuel L. was just looking at a baby or something.