Monthly Archives: October 2009

Cheltenham

So, who’s coming?

And are you going to meet Piers, Shel, Jason and I in the pub beforehand?

If not, why not? Is it because I’m ginger?

Categories: Festivals | 9 Comments

Cars

Let’s say you design cars for a living and this guy hires you because he wants to sell a car. Ostensibly, he hires you because you’re the expert in designing the thing whereas he’s the expert in selling them.

Sounds simple, yes?

You discuss what he wants and he tells you he’s looking for a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon. Okay, so that’s cool – you start with the basics, the things all cars have: wheels, engine, windows, steering wheel, doors … then you arrange them to suit the requested specifications: four doors, a boot, leg-room in the back … and then you add your own touch, the individual design elements which are both unique to this model but also are in keeping with your general style.

You deliver the design and he likes it. Not loves it, but likes it. It’s a good place to start … but he has a few minor suggestions:

  1. Does it need four doors?
  2. Does it need all that leg-room in the back?
  3. Why not have a sloping hatchback thingy instead of a boot?
  4. Will this car appeal to teenagers?
  5. Can you make it more sporty?

All of which sounds rather odd and you patiently explain why it is the way it is:

  1. It’s a four door saloon, four-door saloons tend to have four doors.
  2. It’s a family car, family cars need space for the family.
  3. A sloping hatchback thingy makes it a hatchback, not a saloon.
  4. Teenagers with children rarely have the money to buy a new car.
  5. Maybe. But do families want sporty family cars? It’s a debatable point.

But this guy is adamant, he knows all about selling cars and he knows what people will buy. To impress you, he reels off a list of cars he’s trying to emulate which have all sold really, really well.

All the cars on the list are fucking expensive, two-door, sports coupés … and that’s where you realise the problem. He doesn’t want to make a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon – he wants to make an expensive, two-door, sports coupé … he just doesn’t know what those words mean or indeed have any fucking clue which bits of the car any of those technical words you’ve been using (like ‘doors’) actually refer to.

Patiently, you try to explain to him the difference between what he wants and what he’s asking for but he won’t listen. Why are you getting so fucking uppity? He’s paying you, just do what he fucking asks!

So you go away and you try to design the impossible: an expensive, mid-budget, two-door, four-door, sporty, family saloon, hatchback. After many, many sleepless nights and a rift in your own family which will probably never heal – you manage to satisfy all of the bozo’s requirements … and the result is a fucking mess.

You can see it’s a fucking mess, everyone else can see it’s a fucking mess … but the guy who hired you thinks it’s a work of art and can’t understand why it took you so long to deliver. Still, fuck it, you’re getting paid and you’ll get a percentage  however many of these monstrosities are sold. Someone’s bound to buy one, there are a lot of idiots in the world.

Including the one you’re working for.

The one who’s now hired a guy to build your design. The builder takes one look at your design (believing it to be a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon – because that’s what he was hired to make) and sacks you. You’re obviously a fucking moron who can’t even count to four. He convinces the sales guy you’re a twat and hires his own designer. His designer thinks all this bullshit about a car needing doors and wheels and engines is just crap taught by people who can’t design cars themselves. It’s a bullshit formula which gets in the way of proper artistic vision and he turns in a design which appears, at first glance, to be a seven-foot long ashtray … but on closer inspection is just a God awful piece of shit.

He gets fired and promptly makes millions selling his revolutionary new theory on car design to the world in a series of books, webisodes and lectures.

Meanwhile, sales guy and builder guy hire someone who knows all the theories. Someone who’s been to every fancy lecture going, read all the books and got some mighty fancy looking letters after their name. They know exactly what goes into making a car and they turn in their design … six months late  – because they had a very understanding tutor at uni who allowed them to do that sort of thing. This new design has all the elements you’d expect to see in a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon. Doors, windows, engines, steering wheel, leg room, boot space … it’s got it all … laid out on the ground in a chalk outline of a car.

The builder guy points out it’s not a car, it’s a collection of car parts laid out in the general shape of a car but the designer doesn’t understand the difference. He avidly points out all the bits are there, so what’s the problem? And he gets fired.

By this time, the builder guy has had enough and either leaves or gets fired – depending on whose account you believe. A new builder is hired, he looks through all the designs and he decides your original one was the best – so you’re back on the project.

Fuck.

Still, it’s all money at the end of the day – so you agree to a few minor design tweaks.

Three years later, you’ve redesigned the fucking thing eighteen times. It’s been a jeep, a camper van, a 4×4, a moped and currently resembles a flowerpot on wheels. The original sales guy has had a nervous breakdown and has been replaced by a guy who’s realised that what the original guy meant by mid-budget and what the rest of the world mean by mid-budget are two completely fucking different things. He has a go at you for not being able to stick to the apparently non-existent budget and demands you fix the design so it can be made for four and a half pence.

Which can’t be done.

Never mind, he has some ideas – chief among which is cutting the number of wheels to three, the number of doors to one and using kite string instead of a steering wheel. At this point, the tight-arsed money men (who only invested in the car so they have something to tell girls instead of having to develop a personality) pull out and the car project dies.

Until the original sales guy comes back from the loony asylum with millions of pounds he won from some deranged billionaire resident in a game of ‘guess when I’ve shit my pants’.

All systems are go!

Everyone likes the design (which is now so close to the original as to be virtually indistinguishable) and the builder finally gets to do his job instead of spending all his time telling the press how he had to redesign the fucking car because you couldn’t do your job properly. It’s started! He’s actually doing the job he was hired for!

Spectacularly badly.

So badly in fact, you wonder why he even bothered with the fucking design in the first place since he obviously hasn’t looked at it at all and is just randomly making shit up. Eighteen wheels, in one corner! Cardboard diaphragms instead of doors! And the engine is so woefully underpowered its output is measured in mouse-power as opposed to the traditional horse.

And the only explanation he’ll offer? It’s symbolic. Symbolic of fucking what? His inability to build a car or grasp simple reading skills?

When the abomoination is finally finished, the sales guy fires the builder, hacks off all the bits he doesn’t think belong to a car (including all the fucking wheels) and puts the resulting mess on sale where (surprise, sur-fucking-prise) it fails to sell a single unit and garners rightly appalling reviews.

All of which blame you.

And you know the real tragedy?

THIS IS MY FUCKING LIFE, EVERY FUCKING DAY!

Balls to the lot of you. I’m going to buy a car to cheer myself up.

Categories: Bored, Industry Musings, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard | 13 Comments

What the fuck is this shit?

As many people are aware, I’m not a big fan of Apple products and can safely say I’ll never own any. Assuming of course that by ‘never’ I mean ‘until I do’. The reasons have nothing to do with the intrinsic worth of any of the products, components or software and I’m by no means convinced Microsoft, Windows or any mobile phone manufacturer you care to mention are any better – I just have a strong dislike of Apple and everything they stand for.

To me it comes down to two things:

1)The weird cult-like aura which surrounds happy-clappy Apple users and the self-satisfied smugness they exude. It’s just fucking weird and slightly creepy how you people behave. No offense meant – I just don’t want to risk being like you because you freak me out.

I have a strong desire not to belong to any organisation or group – it’s part of the reason I have no interest in team sports, when you don’t care who wins it makes the mechanics of the games very dull. Although I have zero belief in any of the numerous gods knocking around, I hesitate to consider myself an atheist because I don’t like the idea of belonging to that group.

I experienced a lovely bit of Apple-mania the other day when I had to endure eight hours of four Apple-users haranguing me because I was using a non-Apple laptop. Eight fucking hours and the only time they went a bit quiet was when someone else saw me using the touchscreen on my laptop and went on for a little bit about how cool she thought it was. The Apple-loons went quiet for a bit before deciding that nobody actually wants touchscreen on a laptop – that’s why Apple don’t make them and I was obviously deluded or deranged for believing I did want it.

Later on, at the hotel we were all staying in, I found Team Apple in a bit of a funk because none of them could access the Internet. Weird, I thought, I’ve got no problems. It turns out they’d phoned the hotel’s business centre for technical support and after the usual lengthy process of determining they weren’t complete fuckwads, had worked out how to plug the cable in and turn their computers on, the helpful woman asked if they were using Macbooks.

“Of course,” they all cried, “what else would we use?”

So the woman explained Macbooks never seem to work with the hotel’s Internet and promptly hung up.

I did laugh quite a bit … but then, being the kind chap I aspire to be, I offered to let them use the Internet in my room. Oddly enough, they all declined presumably on the grounds if Steve Jobs intended for them to use the Internet he would have made their computers compatible with it.

The second reason, 2)if you’re keeping track of these things, is Apple’s advertising campaign which makes me want to hurl bricks at the telly. The whole concept of Apple’s advertising is ‘Sell the sizzle, not the sausage’ and they’ll do anything to avoid telling you the truth. It’s a string of brightly coloured lies to a funky dance track designed to make you think the product is cool rather than asking what it actually does and why it costs three times as much as everyone else’s identical products.

Things like the iPhone 2’s “GPS mapping like you’ve never seen before!’ or the iPhone 3Gs’ ‘we’ve invented video!’ claim get my blood boiling. And nothing makes me laugh harder (except perhaps old people falling over onto kittens) than the small print at the end of the ads:

“Steps removed and sequences shortened”

Or, in other words:

“Doesn’t actually do any of this.”

Or my new favourite for whatever it iPod it is they’ve just added video to where the small print points out it can’t actually take video like they’ve just shown you.

Not that the ads aren’t seductive – many’s the time I’ve watched an ad for the latest app and wished my phone could do that … only to remember it can because it, like most phones these days, has access to the Internet and most of the apps they advertise can be replicated with Google and an Internet connection.

The words which spring to mind when I think of Apple are Sirius Cybernetics Corporation with their smug doors, GPP features and ‘your plastic pal who’s fun to be with’.

Again, let me point out before you all go mental that I don’t particularly like Microsoft products either and suspect Apple stuff might be slightly better but probably still falls short of adequate. The difference I think is in the way the companies present themselves and I’ve long thought if I was at a party I’d rather spend time with Bill Gates than with Steve Jobs. I mean, yeah, Bill Gates is probably boring, nerdy and embarrassing. He’s the friend you don’t introduce to women because he’ll bore the shit out of them and they’ll hate you by association. A bit like a retarded cousin your parents force you to play with.

Steve Jobs on the other hand comes across as the kind of guy who’d steal all your possessions and try to sell them back to you for a profit. He looks and sounds like a used car salesman and seems about as trustworthy as a politician. In fact, nothing would surprise me less than if he went into politics one day. He might get the pussy, but only because he’s a verbal rapist.

All this is a really long winded way of talking about the differences between the two companies marketing strategies. Apple seem like a self-promotion company who also sell a few electronic items. Microsoft seem like a clueless, but harmless bunch of geeks who get stiffed by other marketing companies because they have no idea how to talk to anyone.

I loved those Apple commercials with Mitchell and Webb where the Apple guy was smug, trying too hard to be cool and annoying while the PC was a bit rubbish, shabby and trying hard to please everyone – that always felt right to me …

Until I saw this pile of shit:

I mean, seriously, what the fuck is this shit? Have they lost their fucking minds? Is this really the best way they could find to advertise Windows 7 (which I don’t fucking care about anyway)? A bunch of retards who can’t act sitting on a sofa pretending listening to some moron talk about ‘new’ features (which I’m pretty sure are exactly the fucking same just with different names) on a fucking laptop?

With cocking balloons in the background?

What the fuck?

Is this really the best they can do?

Or is that the point? Did they have a meeting say “Face it guys, we suck at marketing. Why don’t we just go the whole hog and suck dead man’s balls?” Maybe the point is it’s so fucking awful it’s even got people like me talking about it? Jesus fucking Christ, I never really cared about owning a laptop with Windows on it before but now I feel the need to look into Linux or whatever the hell the other minority OS is called.

That advert is so bad, at first I assumed it was some Apple-fanatics with too much fucking time on their hands and a camcorder making a piss take. I sat through the first minute or so thinking it wasn’t very funny. But apparently it’s real. I just … I can’t … what the fuck?

Even worse – there’s a whole fucking series of them!

Luckily, this school orchestra came along at exactly the right time and distracted me with laughter:

Categories: Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way | 18 Comments

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