Outsource Your Life

18 April, 2006

I was talking with friends recently about the trend of outsourcing technology to places like India, and recalled that I had read an article by a bloke who actually outsourced his life. A quick bit of Googling later, and I found out it was an article from Esquire magazine in September last year. (If you click through that link, make sure you've got PithHelmet enabled in Safari, or Ad Blocker in Firefox – the site has some of the most irritating, cover-the-content-with-crap ads ever invented).

The author begins by outsourcing various aspects of his work to an Executive assistant-type woman in India. His first request to to his out-sourced assistant (named Honey):

Honey has completed her first project for me: research on the person Esquire has chosen as the Sexiest Woman Alive. I've been assigned to write a profile of this woman, and I really don't want to have to slog through all the heavy-breathing fan Web sites about her. When I open Honey's file, I have this reaction: America is fucked. There are charts. There are section headers. There is a well-organized breakdown of her pets, measurements, and favorite foods (e.g., swordfish). If all Bangalorians are like Honey, I pity Americans about to graduate college. They're up against a hungry, polite, Excel-proficient Indian army.

The more he pushes, the more these out-sourced people do for him. When he successfully outsources an argument with his wife, I was sold.


Blogging about blogging

17 April, 2006

Sorry, I know that blogging about blogging is an incredibly Web 2.0, self-statisfied, I'm too cool for you, wank-knob thing to do, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Now I don't want to appear negative about WordPress (which is the blogging system behind Meromotopia and tens of thousands of other blogs), after all it's an excellent tool, but I've got to say one thing.
Digression, first: just for knowledge's sake, there are two versions of WordPress. There's the version I use here, known as WordPress.com, which is free, hosted by the good folk at WordPress, and comes with a number of pre-defined templates, and you can pretty much start typing away as soon as you've figured out a good name. And there's also the  stand alone version, at WordPress.org, which you download and which is almost infinitely configurable, but  you need to put it on a server somewhere – either your own, or somebody elses, for which you may have to pay.

WordPress.com is younger than Blogger (the Google-owned blogging system) and still developing, and is more difficult in terms of complexity to use, but not excessively so. The payoff is that WordPress blogs tend to look good and work well, and generally be a pleasure to read (even if you disagree with whatever's being said).

In one area though, WordPress seems outrageously complex. Images. Posting an image into your blog requires an inspired leap of genius to figure out what to do. Dr Mike, the rather brusque helper at the WordPress forums has a THIRTEEN STEP how-to on his site. Thirteen steps! Of course, once you've been through it a few times, it makes perfect sense, but if you only upload images every so often, it's nightmare to have to go to the forums, search on the word "image", find a post that has the link to the FAQ, find the link in the FAQ that points to Dr Mike's blog, go there, and read how to upload an image. And then find that if the image is over some undisclosed size, it either gets cut off, or pushes everything on your sidebar down to the bottom of the page. Grrr.

Ah well, the lovely WordPress team implement some improvement or addition nearly every day, so I can't complain too much. And if I got off my arse and posted more frequently, I'd have that thirteen step image upload procedure down pat.

Flintstones Cigarette Commercial

17 April, 2006

The first season of the Flintstones was sponsored by Winston Cigarettes (1961). This 4 minute video features a few different sponsor spots, including Fred learning how “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should”, and Fred and Barney have a quiet smoke behind the house while Wilma does the lawn-mowing.

Ah, I pine for the days when people were allowed to make their own choices and be responsible for them.

Smoking: cool since 500,000 BC!

Google Calendar Launches

13 April, 2006

Yes, Google is slowly taking over our entire Web lives. Google Calendar has just been launched and is a very slick and useful online calendar that will integrate with iCal, alert you via pop up, email and probably various other means, and generally be a damned handy online event tracking and calendar tool.

For the paranoid, you can make only certain calendars shared, just like iCal.

I also signed up to the New Zealand holidays calendar, which inserts all the NZ holidays onto the appropriate days. Unfortunately, the maker of that particular calendar didn't think to put international holidays like Easter or Christmas, but there will be other NZ holiday calendars you can subscribe to that will do that properly.

Now I just need a couple of friends who are web-savvy enough to get their own Google calendars working and experiment with sharing…

“Apple vs. Me” actually, Apple vs him

10 April, 2006

"Would you ever want to be on the business end of legal action from a company with US$9 billion in cash? What about being targeted for deletion by one of most powerful multi-national corporations in the world? What if a company with US$14 billion in revenue and 14,000 employees wanted a piece of your ass? Welcome to my world."

read more | digg story

So says the story at ZDNet (that great bastion and defender of all things Mac). Regardless of the wrongs and rights of companies protecting their secrets vs. the rights of journo's to stick their noses into such secrets, I personally think that this whole "FireWire breakout box for GarageBand, code-named "Asteroid" was a deliberate tactic by Apple to ferret out leaks in their company.

Apple is suing anyone who even mentioned this thing back when it was originally rumoured, probably knowing that enough pressure in the right areas will open up a trail that will lead back to its own internal blabber-mouths. Alternatively – and we're getting into tin foil hat territory here – Apple has entirely made up this project for the same reasons – to see where the boat leaks.