Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Roller Shoes

I've been noticing Roller Shoes a lot lately. No matter how many times I see these things I am still just as amazed as the first time: Kid walking along, quite normally; kid gliding on his or her heel for a short distance; kid walking normally again. Did I just see that? Why aren't these things bigger than Cabbage Patch Kids? My seemingly bottomless amazement cannot be unique, surely. Without exageration I say to you: Roller Shoes should dominate popular culture. They should figure prominently (and decisively) in Hardy Boy plots and in the season finale of The O.C. At election time we should have six o'clock footage of politicians clumsily (but good naturedly) fumbling around on Roller Shoes. I am surprised that more has not been written about Roller Shoes, especially on The Internet. Roller Shoes are futuristic, The Internet is futuristic, so it's a natural fit. Googling almost exclusively turns up E-Commerce site product descriptions. I could find only a few non-commercial mentions:The Authorities (mainly schools) have quickly stepped in and banned Roller Shoes: one, two, three, four [PDF]. And if you want to go see the Colorado Avalanche play, leave your Roller Shoes at home. The Pepsi Center Security Policy expressly forbids them, in the same list as it prohibits weapons, outside alcohol, and dead or live animals.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Halloween Candy

I still have Halloween candy left. Should I eat the rest of it tonight?

Thursday, November 10, 2005 Customer Hostile

I am a sometimes coin geek. I recently went to the Royal Canadian Mint website because I wanted to order a roll of the new quarter that honours veterans. The site is 100% flash. The print is relatively tiny. Everything happens inside a little un-resizable box. Animated transitions make everything pointlessly slower. Sometimes clicking a link makes the page go blank, then briefly display a progress meter, then go blank again, and finally transition into the destination page. In short, the site flagrantly and joylessly revels in each of the Top 10 Web Design Mistakes, and probably coins (yesh!) a few more. I can assure you that I experienced some definite psychophysiological activity. I'm no expert, but it may have been sympathetic excitation of the sort associated with the fight-or-flight reaction, as measured in this study on Human Computer Interaction. Maybe the Royal Canadian Mint website is actually a longitudinal art project. But don't worry: despite the horrendous user experience, I managed to order the coins.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Remembrance Day

I thought software patents were bad.

Now someone wants to pantent storylines/plots. Copyright on a particular story is not enough anymore, it seems. Now somebody wants to patent an abstract story line and sit back and collect royalties if someone writes an actual story that is deemed to match the patented plot. "The connection between patent law and unique fictional storylines necessary to conceive of Storyline Patents may never have been made if Andrew Knight did not occasionally dabble in fiction. As far back as high school, he authored various works of short fiction that were published in national magazines, and that landed him first place in a statewide fiction writing competition and a $24,000 scholarship to study writing at the University of Tampa. (Ultimately he decided on the University of Florida instead.) Since then, he has conceived of a variety of unique fictional storylines. Recognizing that fierce competition for publication and financial reward focused on the quality of storytelling, as opposed to the quality of the underlying storyline itself, and further recognizing that even the worlds most skilled storytellers (of which he is clearly not) rarely turn a profit, his unique fictional storylines have matured into pending patent applications instead of novels or screenplays. He thus seeks reward on the true value of his innovations -- the underlying storylines -- instead of forced, sub-par expressions of these underlying storylines." (From The storyline that is the subject of his first patent application is "a story involving an ambitious high school student who applies for entrance to MIT and prays to remain sleeping until the acceptance letter comes, which doesn't happen for another 30 years." (from Richard Stallman used "plot patents" as an absurd example to try to illustrate why programmers are so frustrated by software patents in this Guardian column. Now someone is trying to make it a reality.

Canadian Acorns