"Twouble with Twitter" sous-titré

Daily Motion posted this video animation about twitter and twitter users a week ago.
I might be a twitter user, but when put like this the whole concept is laughable. a lot of great quotes in this animation, and a lot of truth too.

"You've summoned the fail whale!"

FOTM: Mastermind: World Conqueror

Mastermind: World Conqueror
Before my computer decided we weren’t going to be friends anymore, I had planned out this post on my latest Flash of the Moment.
The next installment of this irregularly updated series (FOTM) is actually a game. A game released 6 months ago now. Now usually I like to be on the cutting edge of flash development, but 6 months ago I was in Australia. Suffering from a bandwidth and download speed headache. So basically an 18MB game was out of the question.
Create by The Swain (aka Michael Swain), creator of the blockhead series and of the mastermind series, this game is centered on tactical control and base defense.
The Essentials
You hire minions who will carry out your every will and whim. You them set your minions missions like stealing cash or, to advance, stealing science. Missions happen in 4 locations around the world—North America, Asia, Europe and South America. With each successful mission you notoriety increases. With every substantial increase your base will come under attack. Use your minions and buy weapons and defenses for your base. Then there are other things like henchmen, #2’s, extra bases, evil corporations, and coffee shops, and different more advanced missions as you increase your level.
This is a very playable game. The cut scenes are both creative (different characters, different dialogs, same locations) and funny. The animation for the most part is smooth and the drawing is, as in all Swain productions, excellent. Coding wise the game is solid, with one major bug but it doesn’t detract from game play that much. Give it a try, I seriously got hooked one afternoon.

Dorm Life

Somehow I managed to stumble upon this web gem the other day and now I can’t get enough of it.
Basically take the office in its mocumentary format, and place it in a dorm hall. This is the format for Dorm Life. Weekly 5 to 15 minute webisodes created by theatre students from UCLA that chronicle the lives of the students living in 5 South. Previously I though theatre students were only good for dancing on common’s tables, but surprisingly this web comedy proved me wrong. In fact they were a 2008 Webby Honoree for best Writing and Comedy for an individual short or episode.
Now entering its second ‘season,’ Dorm Life derives its comedy from the cast of characters in their first year of college living together for the first time.
The first thing you’ll probably notice is one of the characters looks wholly familiar (well, if you used to watch All That like I did). Jack Desena or Shane was on the sketch comedy show during some of its last years of life.
While the beginning of the series starts off at a fairly slow pace, it picks up quickly leaving you wanting more like a strange addiction. The majority of the show is built from character development, and one thing is for sure that these students have built creative and insane characters.
Give it a chance, start from the beginning. It’s available on hulu, youtube and their website dorm-life.com (they also do shorts fairly regularly). I’m fairly sure you’ll appreciate it if at any point you’ve lived in a dorm.

Facebook Rant Pt 2 –Social Diarrhea

Apparently I’m none done complaining about this latest update of Facebook(and neither is anyone else). Last time I took a mostly heavy approach on the design of the actual things now, but I believe there’s more to this problem then just the atheistic. I might have started to corner in on it in the last post, but my main complaint right now is the function of new new Facebook.

Social Diarrhea
Facebook calls its new homepage your stream. I call it social diarrhea. Why, well because it lacks any sort of consistency and content, runs contrary to anything normal and leaves you cramped and with a bad taste in your mouth. Ok, so maybe that’s a little far, but the changes we’ve seen in the past week are close to the worse thing I’ve ever associated with Facebook. What’s my point? Facebook is a social networking site. It always has been, and as far as I can tell the denizens of Facebook have used it so. These updates though, take us down the microblogging path that twitter has established. In combining these two, which were never really meant to be combined, Facebook arrives at a conscious stream that runs like diarrhea—watery and insubstantial—and ultimately interrupts the core function of Facebook (social networking).

A Photo Explanation
On the left (old new Facebook):
(a) green posts a photo of last nights party
(b) yellow comments on greens photo
(c) red sees yellows comment and reds photo and friend requests yellow because they met at last nights party

On the right (new new Facebook):
(a) green posts a photo of last nights party and a status update
(b) yellow misses the photo, but reads the status update
(c) red writes a status update about what he ate for dinner

And I Just Noticed
In creating this post I spent some more actually seeing some of the changes that Facebook has implemented. It seems everywhere I look I see something I don’t like. I just realized that Facebook has just completely dropped any sense of timeline from your profile’s wall tab. How does this contribute to a social stream? Who put on the arbitrary hat in this decision process?

Take Note
I’m not complaining here, Facebook, about change. I like change. I was for change in the past redesign. What I’m complaining about is fixing something that wasn’t broke. There are specific complaints here, all spanning from this one update. Next time Facebook, take some time to work out the flaws before jumping on a ship you don’t know is floating or sinking (I don’t even think twitter even knows).

I’m going to link this blog on huffpost again because it’s hilariously true.

Facebook Doesn’t Know (about usability and design)

So, waiting perhaps 36 hours more than some people seemed to have to wait to get their Facebook update rollout, I’m now stuck with something I don’t like. Which is surprising to me. Unlike the majority of the Facebook population, I was in favor of, and liked (for the most part), the past couple of updates and redesigns. But there’s something about this new layout that irks me. I’ll try to put my finger on it: a usability nightmare?

Rounded Images
Here’s a challenge. Look at pretty much everything on Facebook and tell me what type of corners everything has. Square. Now there are a few exceptions, but for the most part those have just been implemented. So why would Facebook change our user-icons to have rounded edges—it just looks awkward and un-aesthetical. My guess: twitter has squares and we can’t look like we were trying to copy twitter.

Wall Posts
Take a look at your news feed and quickly try to find a wall post. This might be because the news feed is now FULL of status updates (more on that later), or it might be because they display almost exactly like a status update. There is one difference and that is the tiny grey arrow, which to me doesn’t delineate a conversation at all. Suggestions: two pictures, quotes…doesn’t matter, just do something about it.

Facebook’s thought process of this one is startling. Before Facebook had two places for notifications, the sidebar and the numbers next to the inbox. Now Facebook has three places: the sidebar for birthdays, the welcome banner for friend, application and event requests and the numbers next to the inbox. They couldn’t make this any more confusing.

Highlighted Items
Huge problems here. First off, by whose definition are these highlights highlighted. Personally I couldn’t care less what or who ‘ssenmodnaR’ is, or what ‘rar-rar’ is. Perhaps Facebook thinks I do, but I really don’t. You might have noticed in you’re news feed there is an option to hide a friends updates. Well you can’t hide a highlight. Here’s an idea: stop thinking for us Facebook ( And hiding ads in the highlights).

Again, questionable thought process here. Facebook: ‘hows about we get rid of all those icons that mark out what type of update is what, no wait here’s a better idea, hows about we get rid of all of them, except put them in the highlights bar’. Pick a design standard Facebook, this mix is confusing and un-aesthetical.

Not Enough Mix
Suddenly I’m stuck with a never ending list of status updates I don’t care about. What I really want is a decent mix of status updates, and to not have decent items I may want to view getting bumped off the bottom of the page by dumb updates like ‘don’t like new facebook’. I think you had it right last time Facebook. Keep it to three or four statuses at the top of the news feed, and have a separate section (like live feed) where you can see everyone’s up to date status.

Design Structure
Take a look at your profile and tell me how the content is divisible. Tabs. Well if this is the dominant design paradigm for Facebook, why have they done away with them on the homepage in favor of something completely different? It makes me think that Facebook has become so managerial and bureaucratically driven that separate divisions and brains are designing different pages at different times differently. Design structure unity is key to a good interface and good usability.

Combining publisher
Anyone on first glance wonder where the publisher went? I smiled and thought they’d abandoned the idea (I’d never used it except to update status). I was wrong. Turns out it’s hidden for on-click in textbox only. This is a usability flaw and a half, I always thought the idea was to have things as easy to access as possible in web design. Thought process: if I want to post a picture, I’m not going to type anything; I just want to click one button. Now I have to pretend to type a status update to get anywhere.

‘What’s on your mind?’
Basically, you need a different phrase. Of course you can’t use ‘what are you doing’ (twitter’s), but ‘what’s on your mind?’, to me, limits exactly to what I’m thinking about, and if that’s the case why haven’t they auto-inserted ‘is thinking about’ to every status box. Of if they’re mind/thinking updates, then their not status updates anymore.

We Will Adapt
The denizens of Facebook will undoubtedly adapt to the complicated, un-aesthetic and usability nightmare that is the new Facebook homepage. But right here and now it feels scraped together, a mish mash of a hundred different thoughts with no clear design patters, and no clear direction. It feels like Facebook when I first joined, which is a giant step back for a webpage, no tool, that hundreds of millions of people around the world use consistently everyday.

The Watchmen - the Comic, the Movie, the Reaction

So I actually got to see this movie last Sunday, but have until this point not had a chance to go back over it and to write up a review. Easily it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year, but I’ve only seen four movies. And to put it bluntly, this desk lamp sitting next to me is more entertaining than one of them (Taken). But it does go up against Benjamin Button, which shares the category of really good (and really drawn out) movie—but they need to be to get the story told.

The Comic
As you should probably be aware, even if you didn’t see the movie, that Watchmen is based on comic book—nay graphic novel—written by Alan Moore in 1986. It’s one of the most well respected graphic novels around and even features on the Time’s 100 top novels of all time. I managed to finish the book a week or so before the movie came out, this after starting it in mid January. For me I wasn’t terribly pleased with the novel. It was good, yes, it wasn’t amazing though. There was a great story, and great characters and a set of good overreaching archetype that blended together fairly seamlessly, but it failed in certain key aspects. The Biggest was the ending, gripping as it was I didn’t like it. It may have worked back in the 1980’s but it just didn’t feel right or suitable an ending for a book I was really into at that point. Clarification: it wasn’t the why of the end, rather the how of it (without giving away any spoilers).
The Movie
So I’d read and liked the comic book, and the trailers looked amazing for this film (although I can’t help but think they marketed it wrong—a superhero movie verses a movie of the morality of people). I personally loved the movie, and got a lot of satisfaction from seeing scenes from the pages of the book recreated on the big screen with startling precision. I also loved most of what they did with the story line. Contrary to what some might think or say it wasn’t exactly page for page, there were parts that were abbreviated and done exceedingly well. The flow was done well, especially when its source is jumpy and staccato. And the new ended tops that of the comic book in my mind, much more plausible (although less gory). So for that I commend Zach Snyder. Of course there were things that I really didn’t like. One was what I just commended Zach Snyder for, and that was story modification. Who is that cat with Ozymandias at the end? Well that’s part of the story that never made it to the screen, so what point does that cat have there except to satisfy some watchmen fanatics personal contentment. Choice a storyline and stick with it, don’t include the unnecessary. Also what was up with some of the songs? '99 luftballoons', really Mr. Snyder? This is given that some of the music was very fitting (critically praised opening credits). Over all I was more than content with the movie.
"The Times They are a Changin'"
There have been so many blog posts, stories and articles over the past week about just of good/bad (circle one) watchmen really is. One of my favorites explained that every showing really had a different feeling to it depending on the audience. 'Who Watches who walks out of the watchmen', describes how many people he saw leaving the theatre during the movie.
Whether you thought it was good or bad, I think watchmen (as screen writer David Hayter says), should be admired as a one of a kind, and one of the best, (almost) literal translations from story to film. Also I think I probably liked it more than most people just because I had the prior knowledge (reading the comic) to add the necessary connectors to this monstrously long movie.

...and all of that without mentioning big blue penis...

We the Kings plays Mr. Brightside

We the Kings covered Mr. Brightside by the killers when they played at Webster Theatre this past Saturday (3/7/2009). What follows are two clips from that performance. The second of the two features the drummer from the Cab when he came back onstage to drum to this song. Check out the show review

We the Kings, the Cab at Webster Theatre 3/7/2009

Unlike Friday night’s concert, Brand New, Saturday’s was a concert I had some tangible excitement for. It was officially the last stop of the Secret Valentine Tour (though not technically), headlined by We the Kings and supported by the Cab and two other smaller bands.

The Openers
I’m going to keep this short and just say that they were decent. The second band, There for Tommorow, did a good cover of Icebox by Omarion.
The Cab
The Cab was a band who, although I had heard their hit single before, Bounce, I had only gotten their Album that week. Regardless of this fact, I was still enthused to see them perform live. And I was not disappointed. Live, they put on a good show. The audiences really seemed to enjoy their performance and they went particularly crazy when they played their sole hit single. The band from Las Vegas—I know this because they said it about twelve times—didn’t disappoint from any angle, and very overall very satisfying. If you want to read an interview with Cash from the Cab, my friend did one last week. (continues below)

We the Kings
Without much further ado, the lead singer with the red hair was on stage and We the Kings was kicking off their part of the concert. They sounded great, very tight very solid. With a set of super bright lights surrounding the elevated drum in the shape of a W, the feel of the show was full of energy. Despite two things, a) the guitarist not actually being the recorded We the Kings guitarist (real one somewhere in New Mexico?) and b) some technical problems with the guitars near the end, We the Kings kept the show moving. Engaging in Banter, and even singing happy birthday to everyone in the crowd, it was obvious that they had formed a relationship with the Webster (having played it 5 times in 12 months or something ridiculous like that).They also pulled off a good cover of Mr. Brightside in which the drummer from the cab jumped back on stage with drum set to drum along. Finally they came back on to the encore shirtless (at concert goers request), before spitting out their three most famous songs in quick succession Check Yes Juliet, Secret Valentine and their closer Skyway Avenue.

Brand New at Webster Theatre 3/6/2009

With just a weeks notice Brand New, a band that has been fairly obscure (at least to me) since their big radio hits from 03/04, managed to pack the Webster Theatre in a sold out, limited tour schedule show. I have to admit, that prior to this concert the only two songs were those radio hits. Songs "Sic Transit Gloria" and "The Quiet Things that No One Ever Knows."
The Openers
Not the best of bands, but their certainly made their fill as openers. The first band managed to break the record for number of guitars being played on stage that I’ve seen. Including 4 guitarists and 1 bassist (although 3 of the guitarists were sometimes keyboard player’s as well). The dear hunter, under which this feat happened, was probably the better of the two. The other, mewithoutyou, failed to sustain any kind of music I would listen to in any substantial form. In fact they all looked mentally handicapped up on stage—no wonder they ran all their names letters together!
Wait…NeverShoutNever! Is in the other theatre?
Fun story: NeverShoutNever! sold out the underground at the Webster Theatre before Brand New was even announced as an event. The show was packed and screams arose anytime the lead singer, Christopher Drew, said anything in his unusually squeaky voice. For a time I traded one band who scrunched the words in their name together for another. Except the second was actually good. It wasn’t long before we went back to the main stage for the event that packed the larger of the two venues.
Brand New
The stage filled with fog, two drum sets sat alone on stage and the crowd roared. What followed was only slightly short of impressive. I said before that I had only heard two songs before, but the energy of the crowd combined with the solidity of a show that this band put on really raised my opinion of them. The lighting, a mix of white and yellow mainly from the back gave the theatre an epic feel. This was then combined with the songs in which two drummers kept the beat for the song (Jesus Christ and Millstone?)—breaking the record for number of drums I’ve seen played on stage simultaneously. Overall they sounded good, the crowd was responsive and they were a pleaser. Perhaps I’ll think about finding their albums…

Skittles.com–Social Interactive Marketing

Everyone knows what a bore some corporate websites can be. Even when the try to make them somewhat interesting, they generally fail at the concept and revert to a basic run of the mill layout. Well skittles has gone a new route—throwing convention out the door on its ass, if you will. With the web evolving into a catalyst for social media, skittles.com has taken full advantage of this and hence their website is social media.
Their homepage is the feed from a search of skittles on twitter. Their videos section is the skittles page on YouTube. Their pictures section is the skittles page on Flickr. Their product descriptions are pages from Wikipedia. And their friend’s page is a skittles’ fan page from Facebook.
A New Marketing
I know for a fact that skittles isn’t the first website to do this (I heard about another company, I think a digital ad company, who did the same last summer [edit: found it Modernista!]), but they’ve done a pretty impressive job. The idea, it would seem, is the centre for a new type of marketing (social interactive marketing?). What it definitively is, though, is a bizarrely low effort approach to creating buzz.
What This Means
I think the uniqueness of the idea speaks for itself. But perhaps the content of the idea isn’t quite there. Just looking at some of the twitter posts appearing in the twitter search stream aggregate it’s easy to see why this site requires an 18+ age in order to even view the homepage (not to mention the zero responsibility statement). Also the overlay box which they are using as a navigation, even when minimized, occupies too much page space.
Regardless of any of the above, the twitter search feed is, at the time of writing, getting at least 20 new tweets about Skittles (Twittles?) every 30 or less seconds. So something is functioning with this website, good or bad.

when twitter is down...

A post from twitter about twitter.

p.s my twitter name is britishboy973