As one of the original co-founders of RT here (no longer associated with the site however), I'll just throw in my two cents on the new design, but basically, it has a lot of problems. First of all, it looks like it was designed by non-designers or by a committee of non-designers. I'll get straight to the point as to some of the very major problems that exist right now.
1. How many different sizes of fonts are there on a single page? On this page alone, I count at least eight distinct font sizes. It's like watching someone using a word processor for the very first time. In a word, ugh.
2. The new review layout is lacking in personality. What happened to the nice sepia-like talking heads of the critics? Instead we get horrible Polaroid quality photos clearly taken under different lighting conditions. One guy has the top of his cropped off. The result is a review page looks like any number of horribly designed MySpace pages.
3. The design was obviously subservient to the goal of increasing page views in a way that seriously detracts from user experience. Review pages no longer allow you to view all reviews on a single page. Instead, you're forced to go to page after page after page after page just to find a particular critic. I know page views still matter in advertising, but if it means losing users through studied application of annoyance....well, does anyone here agree that the new review layout is better?
4. The attention paid to borders and alignment of page elements is non-existent. Some boxes have centered content (like the Tomatopicker box on the front page). Other boxes (like Now Playing) have their lists pressed close the left edge so as to be almost touching. Other content, like Headlines are left justified but indented. Bulleted lists have justification problems for multi-line items. Just take a look at the IGN footer information at the bottom of the page - in the legal disclaimer, every line has practically a different leading!
5. The Submit button on this page is HUGE as in GINORMOUS for no apparent reason. It's like, practically bigger than the RT logo on the top of the page! I mean, come on, it should be easy to click on buttons, but this is ridiculous.
The litany of problems go on. Hey RT! I love you guys, but you gotta call a skunk a skunk. The new design is plain awful.
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So it's been a little more than 3 months since I moved into my new condo in downtown Oakland. The place is still a mess and mostly unfurnished. I am totally stuck in a rut now in terms of furnishing this place. And a sofa and a dining table would be nice to have before I can throw a long belated housewarming party.
I just can't seem to find any furniture that I like that doesn't require me getting out a home equity loan just to pay for it. Maybe I should give up my HGTV dreams and settle for some cheap-but-serviceable kit from IKEA. But it's looking like my housewarming party will probably coincide with a New Year's party at the current rate of progress.
Anyone have furniture suggestions, excluding the following? Crate & Barrel, CB2, West Elm, EQ3, Room & Board, Design Within Reach (not)? Help!
Well, it's been a LONG time since I've added an entry, but here I am again. It seems lately that time flies by a supersonic speed. One day, you're celebrating yet another birthday by consuming large amounts of alcohol, and the next thing you know, another year has passed already.
In any case, it's been a busy year. Kiwali, my post-RT company, continues to hum along. It's fun, but it reminds me of RT's early days, i.e. swimming very hard to get our heads above the water. :D
We recently launched our designer [URL=http://www.kiwali.com/tshirts/]designer t-shirt collection[/URL]. Check out the designs!
The shirts are all printed on high-quality tees from American Apparel. No beefy Hanes for us! Just 100% fine combed cotton for us, yessiree. The t-shirts look even better in real-life than in the photos, so please help support Kiwali by buying one. Or two - they make great gifts.
What? Too expensive? Well, just because we're all friends and all, just enter the coupon code TOMATOES on the checkout page and knock 20% off on all orders of at least $10. Trust me, that makes the t-shirts a deal. The women's 3/4 sleeve sheer jersey, for example, retails for $24 on the American Apparel website. And that's just for the plain shirt, never mind a shirt with a cool Kiwali design. :D
Remember, TOMATOES gets you 20% off on everything in the store on order of $10 or more. Free domestic shipping! Buy one today!
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It was bound to happen, but Gillette just announced a new heir to the razor throne. Called the "Gillette Fusion", the new razor feature five, that's right, FIVE blades of shaving power!
Gillette's CEO explains the reasoning for the [URL=http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33930]Fusion[/URL].
[quote]Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened?the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.[/quote]
Actually, the link above is from The Onion, satirizing Gillette's reaction when Schick came out with a 4-bladed razor in 2004, thus leap-frogging the Mach3. In a really bizarre case of "life imitating art," Gillette actually did [URL=http://news.com.com/2061-10801_3-5865633.html]introduce[/URL] a 5-bladed razor called the Fusion this week!
Well, for those who don't know, I've been spending the last 5-6 months working on a secret project. Namely, I decided to leave Rotten Tomatoes at the end of February to start a new company.
After months of hard work, we're ready to announce the grand opening of Kiwali.com! What is [URL=http://www.kiwali.com/]Kiwali[/URL], you ask? Kiwali is a designer and maker of accessories of the Apple iPod. Our first product is a line of stylish corduroy cases for the iPod mini. Yeah, I know, Apple just announced the iPod nano, but there are still millions of mini owners out there and our case is still cool (and very affordable). Naturally, this will be just the first of many products you'll see from Kiwali!
Please help support our company, either by purchasing a product or by spreading around the good news. ;)
So it's no big secret that I'm a big Mac guy. One of the major reason is, oddly enough, software. I just think Mac OS X is way more polished than any other operating system out there. Do I really need 1000 pieces of crappily designed zip utilities to choose from or should I be more concerned that the majority of my limited selection is well-designed?
Things tend to feel like they fit together and were designed for each other on the Mac, instead of being a mish mash of different parts, ugly fonts, and brain-stupefying dialog boxes and over-reliance on hidden menus. If you haven't used Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger," then quite simply, you don't know what you're missing. ;)
Speaking of software, I stumbled upon this really great and very unique app from a company called Plasq. I discovered it while reading a Computer Power User edtiorial entitled [URL=http://www.computerpoweruser.com/editorial/article.asp?article=articles/archive/c0508/44c08/44c08.asp&did=844&aid=27197]Windows Software: Ugly, Boring & Uninspired[/URL], but Comic Life truly needs to be seen to be appreciated. So just click on through to the [URL=http://plasq.com/comiclife/gallery/]Comic Life gallery[/URL].
Basically, it turns a series of digital photos into comic-book style pages, with different syltes such as watercolor or your standard pen-and-ink affair, all with elegance and a noticeable lack of dialog boxes and a huge dose of fun. Somehow, I would imagine a similar app on Windows (were it too exist) would be more akin to a page layout productivity app - with about as much fun and ease of use.
Another really fun piece of software for OS X is Delicious Library from [URL=http://www.delicious-monster.com/]Delicious Monster[/URL] (yeah, that's really the name of the company). Again, the best way to appreciate it is to see the [URL=http://www.delicious-monster.com/images/librarypage/screenshots/cover_BIG.jpg]screenshot[/URL].
Delicious Library basically allows you to use a digital camera or scanner (there's even support for wireless Bluetooth scanners!) to read the UPS bar code on things like books, DVDs, music CDs, and software, and it generates a real-time rendered view of your media collection by tapping into Amazon's online database. Notice the ray-tracing and surface reflections as the software turns a simple 2D scan of the box cover into a 3D work of art. I mean, take a look at the TLC that went into the software icons, as [URL=http://www.delicious-monster.com/downloads/LibraryHighRes.png]this blow-up of this icon[/URL] shows.
Delicious Library is great if you have a big collection of stuff and you are an organization freak who wants that stuff to look impressive. I don't fit into either categories, but still, I appreciate the art that went into the software design. Similar software on the Windows side of the fence is a multi-paned, drab affair that most likely takes a standard text-based approach to the interface.
Perhaps it's just a result of my own personal preference, but it seems that what makes the Mac different from Window is that stuff for the Mac is more likely to be an intersection between art and technology while Windows stuff is mostly about the tech. It's a generalization, I know. After all, a real artist can produce great work as long as the tools are capable of fulfilling the artistic vision, but artists or visually-talented programmers tend to be more attracted to the Mac in disproportianate numbers, too.
And hey, you have to admit that both Comic Life and Delicious Library are both pretty damn cool. Only for Mac OS X. ;)
News.com has an interesting article on a [URL=http://news.com.com/IBM+sells+Blue+Gene+for+brain+research/2100-1010_3-5732732.html?tag=nefd.ac]new computing project[/URL]
[indent]IBM has sold a multimillion-dollar model of its new Blue Gene/L supercomputer to simulate the workings of the human brain.
The Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, or EPFL, in Lausanne, Switzerland, purchased the supercomputer and will collaborate with experts from IBM on the project, Big Blue said Monday.
The two-year effort, dubbed the Blue Brain project, will build a three-dimensional model that simulates the electrochemistry of a major portion of the brain, the neocortex, with plans to simulate other parts and eventually the entire brain. The researchers hope to understand processes such as perception, thought and memory and to illuminate how malfunctions in the brain's circuitry can lead to problems such as autism and schizophrenia.[/indent]
This reminds me about a thought experiment involving the concept of consciousness. The human brain has more than 100 billion neurons, and somehow via all those electrochemical interconnections, consciousness arises. As we age, we lose thousands of neurons each day to natural death, but the sheer number of interconnections and parallization makes the loss totally insignificant.
So the thought experiment proposes this. Let's say we replace one of those neurons with a silicon version, which does everything the biological version does except that it's artificial. One neuron out of a 100 billion, and we wouldn't notice anything. So you keep going, replacing neuron after neuron with silicon. Even after a thousand neurons have been replaced, chances are you probably will not notice anything. But at what point in the process does the mass of silicon neurons begin to affect or alter your consciouness? If you got to the point where you could replace every neuron in your brain with an artificial one, would you still be alive? Would you still have your sense of self? Would you be the same person?
That's why this experiment is so interesting. Unlike usual research into AI, which tries to model the decision-making process using rules and algorithms, this experiment will actually create a 3D simulation of the human brain itself. Of course, even the most powerful supercomputer today wouldn't be able to simulate even a small portion of the human brain in real time, but at some point, some scientist somewhere will be able to create an entire working real-time 3D model of the brain of a bee or an ant.
So the question, would that computer model behave like a real bee? If so, when someone gets to the point of being able to model the brains of higher animals and human beings, will consciouisness spontaneously arise if the model was good enough?
In response to the previous post, Dagger mentioned that she'd like to own a light saber. So I got to thinking, what movie technologies would you like to experience or own before you die? Here's a quick list, which I'll update with other worthy suggestions if they come my way.
[*]Star Trek Holodeck ("Will single-handedly destroy the institution of marriage. But hella fun, limited only by your imagination or level of perversity.")
[*]Matrix Plug ("Like the Holodeck, but allows you to learn kungfu in a flash.")
[*]Light Saber ("Because it's so badass. And you can slice and toast your bread at the same time.")
[*]Star Trek Transporter ("No more wasted hours stuck in traffic. Downside, parents will want you to visit every day.")
[*]Star Trek Replicator ("Why no one on the Enterprise isn't covered in diamond and solid gold bling bling and isn't morbidly obese, I'll never understand.")
[*]Dr. Who's TARDIS ("So you can lord it over primitive human civilizations by bringing back technologies from the year 10,000 A.D. Or see if Helen of Troy was really all that. Also, never have to spend another dime on Public Storage for all the junk you will accumulate.")
[*]Babelfish ("Language barrier no longer an issue when hooking up.")
[*]Back to the Future Hoverboards ("Fun without friction.")
Anything else? :D
Check out Page 196 of the March 2005 issue of Vanity Fair.
"rottentomatoes.com - Read 'em and weep. This site takes film reviews from hundreds of respected sources and averages them out to give each movie an overall rating. While this may appeal more to movie fans, industry insiders know that they can no longer ignore the impact the site has on a generation addicted to Web news."
This article about the new generation of "performance hybrids" pretty much sums up what I had been predicting for two years now.
"The Accord Hybrid is just one of the new gas/electric cars with more oomph than their standard counter parts. In March, the Lexus RX400h will have 270-horsepower. In April, Toyota's Highlander hybrid will go 0-to-60 almost a full second faster than a conventional Highlander."
Toyota and Honda understand that fuel economy is not exclusive of performance. Yet for decades, American car companies have been telling the public that you can either get performance, but not fuel economy. Is it any wonder that the fleet mileage of Ford cars today is less than what the Model T was getting a 100 years ago?
Frankly, this either-or philosophy of automative engineering that has been perpetuated by American car companies is simply because they have been too lazy and/or shortsighted to do the engineering and investment to produce these kinds of performance hybrids. Consider this:
"As for gas mileage, the Highlander gets somewhere in the range of 28 to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. That?s about a third better than the conventional Highlander. Toyota probably could have boosted it more, but they?ve opted for using the technology to boost both mileage and performance."
So a full-size SUV like the Highlander hybrid will get approximately 3 times the gas mileage of a Hummer H2, yet it still outperforms the all-gas model.
American car companies are about to get major whooping. And Toyota and Honda deserves ever dollar in car sales they will be taking away from Ford and GM. As we saw from the junk that Detroit pumped out in the 70s and 80s, the only thing that really motivates American car execs to perform is the real fear of going completely out of business. GM and Ford will necessarily be dragged screaming and kicking into the Age of the Hybrid, but the sooner the day when people will be able to drive Hummers that get 40 mpg comes, the better.