my personal blog

August 27, 2008

Mozilla Labs’ Ubiquity: The Future of the Web

Filed under: business,design,technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 1:49 pm

I’ve seen the future of the web, and it’s right here in this video below. The web used to be static. Then, it got filled with dynamic information, and “web 2.0” brought all this dynamic information together with web-based services. That was cool for a while, but Mozilla Labs’ Ubiquity prototype shows us the next step. Forget about words, just watch this video. Be amazed.

Now, I was thinking: drag-and-drop might be one of the most important functions to the user since the GUI, or multiple windows. Making the drag-and-drop function ubiquitous was probably one of Windows 95’s greatest contributions to the GUI. You might scoff, since drag-and-drop is rudimentary; well, that’s because Windows made it ubiquitous, mainstream.

Think about it: Want to open something in Photoshop? Before drag-and-drop, you had to a) open Photoshop, then b) locate and open the file(s) from within Photoshop. Now you locate the file(s), and drag them to the Photoshop icon to open the program and files with a single action. Want to attach a file attachment into an e-mail? Drag it into the e-mail window.

Ubiquity aims to make the web that simple. This user-focused simplicity does not exist on the web…yet. Ubiquity aims to change this. And I can’t wait! For a much more in-depth post on how this works, check Aza Raskin’s blog (he’s the dude behind this project).

August 21, 2008


Filed under: humor,technology — Tags: , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 9:48 pm

Next time you get a message from someone you don’t recognize with the word “trout” in their name, expect to be confused while confusing a third-party. See, there’s a flood of AIM bots running around lately.

What these bots do is troll for AIM screennames, then send apparently send a message to a random AIM user from its list. When this user responds, it sends that response to another random AIM user from its list. Neither “victim” will see the screenname of the other person—each will think they are talking to one of the trout screennames. Much confusion or anger will then ensue. And then people will post memorable conversations on LiveJournal.

So, what was my conversation like? Once I realized this was not a person I know, I started telling them to fuck off and blocked them. Perhaps I was impolite.

P.S. If you think this whole “trout” thing is more annoying than humorous, you can send the code $optout to opt-out of communications with them.

Tropical Storm Fail

Filed under: rants — Tags: , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:31 am

I’ve lived in Florida long enough to live through enough bad-ass hurricanes to have had enough of bad hurricane reporting on the part of the local news. As soon as the possibility of a threat of anything beyond a breeze looms over the state, news agency go into Emergency Ratings Mode.

Picture a war room with frenzied people running about, klaxons blaring, and red lights flashing; now replace that picture with a one of a news room filled with news people who are, instead of eschewing important news for celeb gossip, eschewing important global news for sensationalized hurricane gossip. That’s Florida during hurricane season.

Except that every so often, the 24/7 hurricane “threat” coverage turns out to be true, and we get hit with a real storm. Actually, we’ve been getting hit with real storms a lot lately: In 2004 Florida had to deal with four nearly back-to-back hurricanes—Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne—in the span of just over a month. Then, six more in 2005, including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma. That’s in addition to dozens of tropical storms and tropical depressions.

Which brings me to Tropical Storm Fay. With the hype machine broadcasting warnings about Fay for about a week (it felt like a month), T.S. Fay zig-zagged around the state with all the speed and energy of an octogenarian. I think it’s finally passed over central Florida by now, but I stopped paying attention to the weather updates yesterday.

P.S. Don’t forget to click those links for a bunch of sweet hurricane photos.

August 14, 2008


Filed under: humor — Tags: , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:22 am

So, a friend started drawing ghosts today and I thought they’d make a good comic. This is me putting my money (mouse?) where my mouth (Photoshop file?) is.

August 9, 2008

Webpage Farms?

Filed under: humor,photography — Tags: , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 2:08 pm

I have the following comments: 1. These folks couldn’t come up with a name that better represents their business? 2. Has anyone even said the word “webpage” after, say, 1997?

August 7, 2008

Walmart Misplaces its Asterisk

Filed under: advertising,business,design — Tags: , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:00 am

First off, I’d like to welcome WAL*MART—er, Walmart—to 2005! It seems the neighborhood-munching behemoth’s nearly two decade old logo wasn’t friendly enough to represent the company in this brave new world. Second, I wonder how long it took to develop this logo. Ten minutes? Fifteen? It probably took a year of focus groups consisting of old people who think lowercase proper nouns are cutting edge.

Business Week had the details on this change last month, and Brand New had a more snarky take—e.g. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

At least Walmart kept the capital; the same can’t be said for AT&T’s 2005 logo change. Hey, Walmart is working on being more environmentally friendly. All they have to do now is stop mistreating their employees, and destroying small-town America, and they just might back up their friendly new logo. In the same way that AT&T stopped being evil the moment they changed their logo. Oh, wait, never mind.

August 5, 2008

Golf VI, From Photoshop to In-the-Flesh Photos

Filed under: business,thoughts — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:48 am

It must really suck to make a computer-generated guesstimate at a future car model just days before the real deal gets leaked onto the internet. If your Photoshop handiwork is pretty close to the real deal, that helps lessen the blow, but still….

Here’s what Autobild came up with, seen just a few days ago at The German Car Blog:

Golf MkVI render from Autobild

Golf MkVI render from Autobild

Cool, so they basically started off with a bodykit-wearing MkV Golf/Rabbit, added the front end of the new Scirocco, and the rear tail lights from the Touareg and called it a day. Anyway, literally the next day, I see leaked photos of the MkVI Golf in the flesh on Autoblog. And a few more photos popped up on World Car Fans the day after that.

Golf MkVI

Golf MkVI

Now, as for the design, I’m happy to see Volkswagen’s design language taking a step back from gaudy chrome to the glory days of the MkIV generation. You might remember that as the generation that started with the then-iPod of cars, the New Beetle, and basically brought Volkswagen from a near-defunct brand in the US to its former yuppie glory practically overnight. Basically, I’m already sold on the design.

August 4, 2008

I bought a cheap pair of glasses when my last pair broke because I needed new glasses ASAP, but I wanted to look for a pair that really suited me. See, when you’re buying eyeglasses because you actually need them and not for fashion reasons, you walk into one of several eyeglass stores and you’re fed upon by salespeople like you’re at a car dealer. Except, it’s glasses, and you can still see without having a car.

At any rate, I decided to start looking for a set of specs that suit me, and decided to use the internet the same way I do when making any purchase—check out reviews, compare specs, look for deals, etc. I’m just fine going to blogs for tech info, furniture info, etc., but eyeglasses? Clothing and accessories are a new frontier; everything I wear came with a Target price tag.

Innocently enough, I started by typing Which promptly redirected me to 1-800 Contacts. Well played, 1-800 Contacts, well played. Next, even though the term made me want to puke, I googled “where can I find fashionable eyeglasses?” and basically ended up with LensCrafters and listings. Damn, I could’ve thought of that without Google’s help.

The thing I like about eyeglasses: they’re the only item where the price disparity between no-name, brand name, and designer brand is next to nothing. No-names? Under $100. Ray-Ban? Oakley? $150-$200. Dolce & Gabbana? Burberry? Ferragamo, Prada? $200-$250. And then there’s the issue about insurance covering a good percentage on frames.

And in conclusion, these are the two frames I kind of settled on, after my exhaustive (15 minute) search. Kind of partial to the Burberry specs at the bottom for the Gordon Freeman look….

August 2, 2008

A 2001 Take on WALL-E

Filed under: thoughts — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 12:33 am

I finally saw WALL-E tonight, and despite it being the highest-rated film of 2008 so far, it could have definitely benefited from a little tragedy. For the two or three people on Earth who haven’t seen the film yet, spoilers ahead:

First off, the plot is really thin, and the payoff is too family-friendly. In other words, yes WALL-E saves the day, and no, he doesn’t sacrifice himself for the good of humanity; and yes, he gets the “girl”, er, robot. In the future, Earth is so filled with garbage that humanity leaves Earth on what are essentially giant cruise ships in space, while WALL-E and the rest of the garbage-bots clean the planet. Fast forward some seven-hundred years: humanity remained on their ship all this time and forgot about returning to Earth because it was deemed uninhabitable.

This is the part of the plot that I’m totally OK with. The first act of the movie was fantastic: the sad way WALL-E went about his programming day in and day out forever, and without purpose set the bar pretty high. Then, he meets his “love interest” EVE and they save the day. The end. Lame.

Enter the 2001-esque version…

One of the reasons 2001: A Space Odyssey endures as a classic is its difficult, vague, open-ended plot. Kubrick never quite explained what happened, and left it up to the audience, but in a nut-shell, it did have something to do with death and rebirth. After all, you can never go wrong with allegorical tales representing death and rebirth, right?

So, in my attempt to turn WALL-E into a brilliant sci-fi epic, WALL-E and EVE get to humanity’s cruise ship, but what they find is scores of robots “living” out the same lives WALL-E has back on Earth: silently following their pre-programmed routines day in and day out forever. In my take, as the ship was meant to be away for only 5 years, humanity died out centuries ago. Yes, humanity is extinct, its only memory encoded into the data banks of the ship’s computer.

And so ends the second act. WALL-E has brought along a single living plant which he found back on Earth, proving that life can continue there. WALL-E, EVE, and the rogue robot cast they meet during their adventure through the ship, face off against the ship’s computer, Auto, which has been programmed never to return to Earth under any circumstance. Because it is programmed, it’s not really evil, but it serves as the film’s de-facto villain. Let’s just cast Auto as WALL-E‘s HAL-9000.

With the ship’s computer dispatched, the robots take control of the ship and set it on a course to Earth. WALL-E is damaged from the fight with the ship’s computer and in bad shape. As soon as the ship gets to Earth, EVE rushes to get WALL-E repaired, but the damage is presumably too extensive, and WALL-E powers down. The robots are able to use a fail-safe mechanism built into the ship that begins terraforming the planet—and he ship is destroyed in the process, and with it, any memory of humanity’s existence.

Thus, the crew of robots are left on Earth, and as centuries pass, life begins anew, with the robots as the stewards of the new Earth. In an ending the film hinted at, but didn’t go through with, EVE finally finds the parts to repair WALL-E, but with his memory erased, WALL-E becomes the mindless automaton he was originally, and continues his pre-programmed tasks. The film ends as it began, except instead of WALL-E roaming towers of refuse, we now see a beautiful prehistoric world.

There we have it: the extinction of humanity, a hero’s self-sacrifice, and the rebirth of life. No easy answers, and a bittersweet ending. That’s all WALL-E needed to go beyond movie of the year, to become an absolute classic.

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