Archive for the 'Consumer products' Category

Sep 10 2010

We Don’t Want 3-D TV Because We Might Have To Watch It

So, the AP reports that although people who view 3-D television report the experience as being better than they expected, they doubt they would want one because it might interfere with their ability to … not watch TV:

“Aside from the cost of buying 3-D sets at a time the technology is just becoming available, the glasses required to watch them are a major hindrance. Fifty-seven percent of people surveyed cited the glasses as a reason they were not likely to buy a set. Nearly nine in 10 people worry that it will constrain them from multitasking while the TV is on, the survey said.”

So, to sum up, the basic response was “It was better than I expected, but now I want it less than I did before, and I’m worried that if I did buy it I might have to use it.”

In other news, local restaurant patrons complained that the food was bad and the portions were too small….

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May 30 2008

CNN’s News Innovation: Stupid Headline T-Shirts

Having never been a fan of CNN’s headline-writing nonability, it’s truly amazing to me that someone thought that people would like any headline on CNN.com enough to put it on a freakin’ t-shirt. If you go to the CNN.com home page, several story headlines have a tiny little t-shirt graphic next to them — clicking on the graphic takes you to a page that “lets” you buy a t-shirt with that headline on it.

That’s right — you can now pay to put a CNN headline on a t-shirt. A mere $19.99! Such a bargain! Plus, the t-shirt contains ever-so-subtle CNN advertising — following the headline, there’s a tagline that says “I just saw it on CNN.com [time/date stamp]”. Check out this example, with the earth-shattering headline of “Man bikes 42 miles to work each day.” Now there’s something I want to have plastered on my chest while I’m walking around!

Paying for logo-ized apparel has always struck me as absurd (“Hey, Harry, think people would be stupid enough to pay us for the privilege of advertising for us?” “Sure! They watch Survivor, don’t they?”), but this truly qualifies as a significant “get a life” moment, combined with an extra smattering of WTF?-ness.

And the really worrisome thing is that, considering the amount of programming and the marketing/editorial review work that must have gone into it, CNN has got to have focus-grouped this enough to believe that this will actually generate some revenue.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, stay tuned for the Mindscalpel.com apparel shop, coming soon!

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May 11 2008

The Chinese Are Gambling? We’re Doomed!

I’ve been relatively confident in the likelihood of the United States maintaining its hegemony in the world, not because of the superiority of our military capabilities, but because of the innate corrosiveness of our culture.

You see, America’s international predominance is not based on nukes or aircraft carrier battle groups, both of which are inherently cool and good for impressing the yokels, but rather on these (click here).

Okay, sorry about that, readers who are at work.

Anyway, our secret weapon — so secret that we can spray it out across the world with satellites and yet still not view it as the weaponization of space that it really is — is our mind-numbing, consumerist, degenerate worldview! And I say that as a compliment.

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Apr 29 2008

Lace Up Your Boots — We’re Going Banking!

So how depressing is this? I walk by a Citi (CitiBank? CitiFinancial? Why is an enormous financial institution named with a misspelled word, anyway?) location, and they’ve got these colorful advertisements for their Citi-Online service (an online-banking service), with pictures of people doing various activities and cutesy questions like “Our place? Or yours?”, the implication being that your life would be ever so much more fulfilling if only you could bank anyplace you happened to find yourself.

And what the heck do they mean when they use bank as a verb, anyway? It really makes no sense in this context.

I want very few things from my bank — I want them to pay me for the privilege of holding my vast fortune, to give it to me when I want it, and to give it to whoever else I (and only I!) tell them to. That’s it. So, basically, with a cell phone, I can’t get my money, so the only thing I could be doing with my money is paying bills.

Whee! I can pay bills anywhere!

What’s really setting me off here is one particular ad — a picture of a guy at a beautiful campsite, silhouetted against a fabulous sunset, working — banking? — on a laptop.

How freaking depressing! This is supposed to attract me to your institution? The possibility of being so shackled to my bills and financial life that I’ve got to haul my laptop to a campground?

Now, granted, I’m a high-tech camper. I probably tote more batteries than food when I’m camping. But I’m not hauling stuff to a mountaintop so I can pay my bills.

I know! Let’s advertise more mutually incompatible activities as if they weren’t completely insane!

  • Netflix: “Watch our DVDs — while you drive!”
  • Nintendo: “Play video games — while you’re mountain biking!”
  • Michael’s Craft Stores: “Knit a sweater — scuba diving!”
  • Research In Motion: “Check your email on your BlackBerry — while watching your kid’s school play!”

Wait a minute. I see people doing that last one all the time.

Maybe Citi’s on to something….

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Mar 21 2008

New Class Action Lawsuit Opportunity!

Okay, this has been bugging me for aeons, and if someone has the time and patience to search for more archived videos of old Gillette shaving advertisements, I’m sure you’ll be able to retire rich off the money you’ll raise from this sure-fire class action lawsuit. For now, I’m avoiding the whole thing, because to research this post I had to search for terms like “shaving” and “video,” and if you’ve ever done something like that you know you’ll get results that would make you want to stick pins into your brain in the hope of destroying the synapses holding those visual memories.

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Feb 27 2008

Terrorism: The Cure for What Ails You

Apparently the threat of terrorism is like cumin, or chili powder: sprinkle it on an epic screw-up and it makes everything taste a lot better.

Witness what happened recently in Florida, which was plunged briefly back into the Stone Age by rolling power outages. In practically every article about that event, there was a statement that the blackouts did not appear to be caused by terrorism.

Wow! That makes me feel so much better! It’s very comforting to know that, through no intentional act, an entire slice of United States civilization was taken off-line, just by completely random events. We can all rest much easier now.

One gets the feeling that we’ll start seeing news squibs like the following:

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Feb 25 2008

Scanning Your Slides, or, 50 Ways to Love Your Liver


Technologists are eternal optimists, in that they blithely assume that their new products will never turn manifestly evil.

But of course, even the most innocuous inventions can misfire, even when one is not actively seeking to use them for harm (and don’t let any guy fool you — the first thing any normal guy thinks when he’s confronted with a new device or technology is “How could I break this?” Another part of him is only a step behind, thinking “How can I use this as a weapon?” A slightly lower layer, a sort of ever-present meta-theme permeating all guys’ thoughts, of course, is “How can I use this to attract the babes?” ).

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Feb 08 2008

Product Reviews You Can Use #1 — Uncomfortable Global Positioning

Some blogs and web sites review consumer products by giving you useless and irrelevant information like price, ease of use, feature sets and quality.

Not this one! Here, we’re just concerned with the things that really matter about products – the social problems they solve, or introduce, in real life, not some ridiculously objective findings derived from some comprehensive, carefully-considered, long-term test.

Take, for example, those fancy GPS navigation units that everyone is getting in their cars (and, concomitantly, getting stolen from their cars, which, in my opinion, is just about the height of irony – “Hey, what happened to your highly-precise satellite-linked geolocation unit?” “I don’t know! I have no idea where it is!”).

It’s true, I finally got one as a gift, and I’ve been using it with some success, but mostly with catastrophic failure. So, to save some of you GPS novices out there from some traps for the unwary, I have put together a few pointers from bitter personal experience:

  • Your GPS unit cannot be used as a substitute for visibility out of your windshield! So, no driving in total fog, white-out conditions, or while waiting for your windshield to defrost by referencing only your GPS screen. Turns out that in spite of its resemblance to a “heads-up display” there’s a slight mismatch between where your GPS is showing you to be on that steep mountainside road and where you actually are on the steep mountainside road. So scrape that windshield!
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