Archive for February, 2007

All These Years And Mobile OS’s Still Suck?


Okay, so a little known secret is that I’ve actually been using the same mobile phone since either 1999 or 2000. I forget exactly when I got it, but it was a long time ago. It’s a Samsung 3500, a phone that was popular back in the day before things like (gasp!) color screens, let alone fancy features like cameraphones.

my ancient phone

It’s not quite as bad as it sounds… The day the first Danger Hiptop/T-Mobile Sidekick came out I got that, and continued to use that as a data only device, until even that seemed old and pretty beat up.

Last year, Sunnia got me a PPC 6700 through a discount at work, but I couldn’t transfer my phone number to it until today. I’ve been using that as a data device only… and while there were a few annoyances, I didn’t pay much attention since it wasn’t really “my phone.” Earlier this week, however, I switched the number over… and realized I would need to enter all the phone numbers in from the old phone. I never expected them to be transferable, but I did expect that I’d somehow be able to type them in on my computer and transfer to the phone.

No such luck… unless you’re using Microsoft Outlook, which I don’t use and don’t have on this computer. In fact, every time I now plug the PPC 6700 into my computer it complains to me that my default email client is not Outlook and tells me I need to fix that and then serves up the ever friendly “OK” button (no other choices). Thing is, it’s not okay. I don’t want to use Outlook, and yet here I’m being told I need to. (Not that they seem to care any more, but it seems like this is exactly the sort of thing that the Justice Department was looking for when claiming Microsoft leveraged its monopoly position in forcing people to use other apps…)

So, instead, I’m killing my evening typing in each of the numbers and names by hand on the little keyboard on the PPC 6700… and, again, I’m discovering some idiotic decisions made by Microsoft. If I click on the part of the contact info that is for a phone number, why can’t it recognize that I’m probably typing a number, rather than relying on me to press the “red dot” button to let it know that I’m writing a number (on the PPC, the top row of letters, QWERTY…, have the numbers as the secondary option, which only work if you press down that red button).

You would think that, over the past 8 or so years that they’ve had to perfect this stuff they would have worked out a few of these kinks already…

How Aaron Sorkin Lost The Plot — Or How ‘Studio 60’ Failed

So apparently tonight is the last time Studio 60 is likely to air. It’s been replaced in the schedule next week and there’s no set date to bring it back. The theory is that it’s pretty much gone for good, and, if anything NBC will either put the remaining episodes online or possibly air them randomly over the summer to keep the 3 or so die-hard fans happy. For a show that was probably the most anticipated show of the new season just a few months ago, by a can’t miss creator in Aaron Sorkin, it’s nothing short of upsetting.

However, as many people have pointed out, the show just wasn’t up to par. Most people wanted to compare it to Sorkin’s more famous The West Wing, but to me, Sorkin peaked early with Sports Night. While I never stopped watching The West Wing (even after Sorkin left), I always kept wishing it would move more towards Sports Night at its peak. I was actually really excited when I heard about Studio 60, believing that it was the perfect vehicle for Sorkin to go more towards what he had with Sports Night, which was more comedy than drama. Sorkin obviously does the whole “behind-the-scenes-in-a-fast-paced-environment” thing like no one else — but he seemed to get things mixed up here. Studio 60 was a lot more like The West Wing than Sports Night. Sports Night worked because it was funny. The rhythmic pacing and the humor was what made the show shine. The drama on The West Wing worked because it’s an inherently dramatic situation. But, backstage at a lighthearted TV show, whether a sports newscast or a sketch comedy show, should be funny. When watching Studio 60 you never got the feeling that anyone was very funny — which is hard to believe considering they were supposed to be a bunch of comedians.

The direction Sorkin should have gone with the show was to ditch the drama and focus on the comedy — making it a lot more like Sports Night. For comparison’s sake, here’s a clip from Sports Night where there’s still plenty of drama, and the characters still connect well with each other, but the humor shines through:

Compare that with a similar clip from Studio 60, where the pacing and the lighting and the camera work and, well, everything, turn what’s supposed to be a comic moment into a complete downer:

Sorkin had a real opportunity with Studio 60 to create something great, but he dragged it way too far towards another West Wing when it always should have been another Sports Night. Oh well. Hopefully whatever he’s got up his sleeve next will work out better.

The Problem Isn’t Conservative Comedy… It’s Ideological Comedy

I had meant to be posting a lot more often to this blog then I have, but things have been busy with Techdirt, so I haven’t had much time. Plus, all the good stuff I find, usually is worth posting there.

But here’s one that’s really off-topic for Techdirt. I’m a huge fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (as well as the Colbert Report), and was surprised recently to hear that Fox News had decided to come up with a “conservative response” or a conservative version of TDSwJS, that apparently is set to air this weekend. Of course, Fox News has leaked out some of the first show and it’s beyond awful. It really is quite a train wreck.

This is leading to a bunch of folks saying that “conservatives can’t do comedy.” Now, I don’t consider myself a conservative or a liberal — but something about that didn’t seem right to me. And, then, I finally realized why the whole concept of “a conservative version of The Daily Show” seems so stupid. The Daily Show isn’t liberal. It points out stupidity — and it just so happens that it makes a lot more sense to point out the stupidity of the party in power then the party that’s not in power. They certainly do point out stupidity on the other side of the aisle as well, and assuming the Democrats ever come back to power, there will be plenty of material for The Daily Show to work from then, as well.

Setting up the show as having an ideological viewpoint is where Fox News went wrong. It’s not that conservatives aren’t funny. It’s that ideologues aren’t funny. They believe too strongly in their own ideology to see much humor in anything that touches on it. The Daily Show is funny because it satirizes any kind of stupid behavior, with no respect for ideology. This other thing sets up an ideology and all the humor disappears immediately.