Saturday 24 March 2012

Michan Mijsbergh 'Eat Your Heart Out' exhibition at the GO Gallery, Amsterdam

I was lucky to be in Amsterdam last week and able to catch Eat Your Heart Out - Michan Mijsbergh's first solo exhibition at the Go Gallery. If you are anywhere near Amsterdam before the end of April, you must visit . I was blown away by this young man's (he's only 21) outstanding talent. Don't miss it. Here are some examples, from photographs I took there. Thanks to Oscar and Farud for being so gracious.

You really should click on these photographs to see them full size - the detail is very fine. Sometimes you feel you are falling into the chasms of his creature's faces.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Don't bug me!

How many times does software ask me this question and how many times does it take any fucking notice of what I tell it? Too many and too bloody few. Apple is probably the worst. Yes friends, Apple which is so 'user friendly'. The number of times I don't want to be told about any more iTune updates. Problem is, the option to say 'no more' is just a check box on a pop-up, and my guess is that when I press the X to quit the pop-up - there's no other way out that doesn't involve saying yes to the update - the check-box option is lost.

Realplayer has a good variant of this. It produces a little pull-down menu with a list of time periods that it suggests you might want to to be reminded after. The first few times, it shows - and I'm remembering this, so may have it wrong - 1 day, 7 days, 4 weeks - something like that anyway. So, I select the longest period. Then in 4 weeks time, it asks me again - and this is the clever part - now it adds a new option - "Never remind me again". Great I think, I'll select that. What it should say is "Select never, you fool, because I think your memory is shorter than mine, so when I ask you again, you'll have forgotten that you ever said never. Foolish user."

Thing is, I'm not just a poor old end user - that's what we call them in the software business - but I work for a major software company, and have been in the IT business for about 45 years - most of my working life. So, if this stuff pisses me off, how does the average user feel about it?

I've just been rereading a great book - The lunatics are running the asylum  by Alan Cooper which I recommend to everyone, whether you are in the software business or not. The problems I mentioned up top are minor compared with some of the scenarios he lists in the book.

My take is a little different to Cooper's. He seems to think that it's all because the programmers don't understand who their real users are - so they build software for super-geeks like themselves. Thing is, I'm a geek and I hate this stuff. I hate the way software treats me like fucking imbecile. I can only put it down to purposeful action. Companies want us to be in thrall to their systems. They want us to be fearful of their software.

Hey, when we had real bank managers - rememeber them? - who you would go to see and ask for a loan or a mortgage, you'd be terrified. You'd dress up in you best suit and practice how you'd answer their questions. Now they just build their software to get you into the same state of terror. Will this transaction complete? Will I have to put all of the data in again? Why do they want to know that? Agh! Not sure if you sense the frustration in that. I considered recording a little audio clip, and attaching it, so that you could clickon it and you'd hear me vent all of it - all over your speakers. Not just 'Agh' but 'AAAAAAAGGGHHH', but, you know, life's too short.

Anyway, next week, Maggie and I are off to Amsterdam for a little R&R. It's been a while, and, as you can probably judge, I'm in need of a break.

Tarra (that's ciao in Geordie)