Great brief explanation of the Uncanny Valley:
Category Archives: Tech
Prior to my surprise trip to Disney (which I will get around to writing about soon, promise!) SharkBoy and I purchased a pair of Vibram’s Fivefingers shoes. As you can see by the picture they’re a bit unconventional, and have a tendency to make people react in some way.
Before I go on, I will answer the three main questions I get all the time when people see them:
• Yes, they are comfortable. Imagine wearing flip flops that surround your feet. But with better support.
• I do walk differently. Because you virtually walk “barefoot”, you find yourself rolling from heel, to outer foot to pad to toes. Is this better? I can say that last year about this time I was suffering from a knee that would “give out” when doing simple things like going up a sidewalk curb. I’ve been to a physiotherapist since then and have taken his advice on how to properly walk – meanwhile, these shoes have been helping me maintain the small walking “tricks” he suggested. I have not had any issues with my knee since.
• It is odd having your toes separated, but I’m now able to grab onto subway car poles like an ape. It does take me a little longer to put them on, my pinky toes seem to have separation anxiety and usually wind up in with it’s neighbour’s slot.
Now on to the general public’s reaction:
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I was crossing in front of a family of 4 to get a shot of a monkey so I had to scoot a bit to avoid collision. As I pass the mother of the group blurted out (in what I thought was an angry manner) “What is up with those shoes?!” I didn’t look back – I was too scared.
On the subway home I had a slightly eccentric dude sidle up to me while waiting for the doors to open. I say “eccentric” because he looked like a 35 year old skateboarding guy who looked like he was in between jumps and beer bongs. He looks down. “DUDE HOLY SHIT THOSE SHOES!!” He announces to the entire car. It was like pulling the cranium off a fresh kill amongst a crowded zombie apocalypse. Everyone turned towards me. “Yeah, they’re…”
“FUCKING COOL!!” And so on. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise through the declarations of awesomeness.
Generally people are nice and most will come right out and ask me about them. But there are the Torontonians who don’t want to directly acknowledge your difference. I would be walking with SharkBoy somewhere and if the sidewalk was crowded around us I may notice ambient conversations. I would also notice the sudden absence of conversation as people drop their register and whisper “Look. At. His. Feet.” This happens more than people coming right out and asking, which kind of saddens me.
Like many things that are different, I have a feeling that they will become the Crocs of this decade (when we were buying ours, there was another gay couple at Europe Bound purchasing them too – Gays! Fore-bearers of trends!) but for the time being, I’ll enjoy wearing them without caring what other people think.
August can’t get here fast enough. I know. Summer not even here yet and I want it to be nearly over.
Only because I can’t wait for our supertravelfuntime trip. You might recall that in August, Sharkboy and I are hitting the west coast from LA to SanFran to do some Disney, some driving and some …er… more Disney. Anaheim for the Disney “D23” convention and a couple days in the park, then a nice slow drive up the coast and then almost a week in San Francisco where we’ll visit the Disney Family Museum.
I’m affectionately calling this trip: Ryokō Nippon. Purely because we’re staying in a couple really cool Japanese inspired boutique hotels. First we found the Tomo, where Japanese graphic designers went all kabuki on an old Best Western. Exciting! And yesterday my husband found the greatest hotel ever near the heart of NYC: Yotel. A boutique hotel with what looks like no humans involved with the operation of the building. No check in drones, no concierge and probably no maids (I bet the rooms are hosed down periodically like some produce department at your local grocery store).
There is, however, a porter. A ROBO PORTER! LOOK!!
You know I am going to try to cram MYSELF into that little tray for the night!
Today I had to use a Vista machine at work. I know… it was horrible.
As I suffered through crappy UI, I found myself yearning for the upcoming Mac OS update, codenamed “Lion”. Apple boasts over 250 new features but there are 5 that stand out as being “insanely great”:
- Multi-Touch gestures. One step closer to Minority Report
- Launch Pad. Start apps on your Mac like it was an iPad
- Auto Save/ Version. Think “Time Machine” for your documents.
- Mission Control. Full control over everything going on.
- And Mail gets a freshening up with graphical “conversations”.
And Apple sweetens the deal by keeping the same low upgrade price of $29.
I’m dreading going back to that Vista machine tomorrow.
I was trying to remember how to spell terrytory during Words With Friends when Instagram killed my vibe. It’s been like that since notifications came to the iPhone: rude, interrupting alerts murdering the flow of your mobile experience.
Now, Apple updates it’s iOS with over 200 new features, like “Notification Center”, a spot on your device that lets you see all the apps that desperately need your attention. Think of it as a nanny who keeps the kids at bay.
My other favorite update to the OS is “PC Free” – OTA updates, no plugging into a PC or iTunes anymore.
There are other features (over 200, Apple boasts), but with just those two, Apple moves closer into Blackberry’s terrytory.
When I left my job at Apple retail I didn’t remind them about my staff MobileMe account. I kept it silent in hopes that I could still use the “Find My iPhone” service just in case something bad happened. I’ve been lucky they’ve not shut me down in the last year.
This week Apple revealed “iCloud”, a free service that allows you to stream/sync music, photos and files from device to device, effectively replacing MobileMe. If you were one of those poor schleps who purchased a MobileMe account recently, Apple is offering a refund (Via Gizmodo).
I’m still living in fear that someone in the back office of the Apple Store does some serious past-employee account wiping and cut me off before. But that’s me living dangerously.
I walk in on two Starbucks baristas (one of them my ultimate favorite human service drone person lady), mid-conversation:
“Come on, Dana! Take it and run with it!”
“No, do it! Own it!”
They look at me and smile. I jump in: “Yeah! Own it!”
“Own that thing!” I continue,”Become this thing! Take it by… the throat! Slam it into …the counter! Yes! slam it into the counter a couple times!” I motion this as my eyes flash, “And then find a bucket and push it’s head under the water!! Watch and savour EVERY bubble that comes out!!”
We all look at each other.
“My usual please.”
I’ve been watching too much Evangelion.
Last night I got to sit in on my first focus group, 2-way mirror and all.
I went to an office somewhere downtown where I sat in a room with 5 other guys and talked about cleaning products. Guys plus cleaning products can only mean one thing: this was a research panel about cleaning gadgets. And gadgety they were.
It seems everyone is trying to re-invent the Swiffer, like so many have tried in the last couple years. This company was charged with trying to bring new design/product ideas to the table that would stimulate men to purchase cleaning supplies and we were the guinea pigs. I can safely say that out of the 30 or so product treatments we looked over, 3 only got me interested. The rest were variations on a Swiffer theme. Here’s a glimpse of the cleaning future: know that “UV lighting” plays big.
When I got there the first thing I noticed about the other panelists was that all except for one guy had dirty hair. Seriously greasy. One guy was well groomed but he was a bit run-on-the-mouth, negating his cleanliness and making him the know-it-all. One guy kept his sunglasses on until the woman running the show asked him if he had a medical condition. No, they’re just cool. Thanks Corey Hart! One average joe kind of guy (who I would match opinions on things most of the time) had such an angry grimace on the whole time looked like he wanted to murder us all just because. And finally there was Monseraat. Yes. That’s his name.
Monseraat wanted to talk in depth about how awful all the products were. While I gave my opinion honestly and said opinions that came from my consumerist heart, Monseraat just wanted to have his bitch on. I was convinced that he was a bit drunk because he could not follow the simple instructions the group leader was laying down. First, we were instructed to talk about the positives about the product, if any, to which Monseraat would ignore and start into a diatribe of how horrid this new thing was: “Why would I want to have different types of cleaning heads? Can’t I just pick up a sponge if I need a sponge?” Monseraat hated everything they threw at us because it didn’t have steam cleaning power. When one hand held steam cleaning prototype came across the table, he went apeshit with happiness, until I said: “I’m not too comfortable using an electrical, plug in device to clean a bathtub.” Then with daggers shooting from his eyes directed to me, he changed his product score one point lower. It was then I realized I could counter his opinions with logic and I went to town.
“Why would you use something that looks like an oven mitt to clean? It’s awful.”
“Well you use your whole hand, it gives you more coverage and more control over the size of your wipe. More area equals faster cleaning!”
In the end Monseraat was a ball of confusion when it came to choose our top three favorite products at the end of the evening.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! Would I want someone like Monseraat in the group? YES!