November 1998

Feed The Hungry

    For those of you know don't know me, I am what you might call a night person; in otherwords, when the sun comes up, it's time for me to go to bed (after I watch Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea , of course). Anyways, I was scanning the channels, and happened upon on of those Feed the Children infomercials, and watched it for a bit. Now this particular outfit was a little more interesting (for me) than the normal ones, since it basically sends food to people starving in the United States, as opposed to shipping it off somewhere else. So as they were prattling on about how much food or whatever $10 a month would buy, they said that if you gave that amount, you would receive some sort of letter of appreciation and a sticker you could show off to your friends. That's fine, I guess, but I can't imagine what impact it would have on someone to see that sticker on your car or something, but who knows. Now here's where I get a little irked, for $20 a month, you receive not only the letter of appreciation and the sticker, but you also receive some sort of mug... Now c'mon, a MUG? I can't possibly imagine that someone would watch this, and say "You know, that seems like a good charity to give money to, but I really need to buy a mug instead." or how about "Wow, if I give a little more each month, I could get a MUG! What a great deal!" Now if they can truly buy a ton of food with $120 ($10 x 12months), and assuming that the cup cost about $5, that's quite a bit of food that they are not feeding the starving kid in the commercial so you can have a mug. And I mean does a person who gives money to a charity want ANYTHING like that it return?? Forgive me if I'm a little old fashion, but I always imagine people did that out of the way it made them FEEL, not what kinds of toy surprises they received in the mail. My only other complaint is that when they show how much food each dollar amount can buy ($10/$20/$30), they list the weights (1ton/2ton/3ton), but the images do not correspond! Assuming that the 1ton food image is the base size, then the 2ton image should depict twice as much food, right? Wrong, it only shows about 1 1/2! And then the 3ton food image should be three times as much, right? Wrong again, it is almost 4x! It also seems a tad strange to me that the amount of food they can buy only increases linearly as well... I know when you buy bulk food, you save money, so if that scales as well, one would hope that the $30 would buy 3.5 tons or something similar. I guess it's a good charity, but I just hate to see such discrepancies in their advertising; I would hope that they wouldn't have to resort to manipulation in order to get money...

Stop the Rotating Camera

    I would like to officially call for the halting of any and all commercial use of the Rotating Stop Camera technique. You know what I'm talking about... It all began several years ago with an Aerosmith video, where girls jumped on beds or some such crap, and the action would stop as the camera dolly'd from left to right. Now, the actual technique is about as obvious as they come, you just put a whole bunch of synchronized cameras around whatever it is, and then smoothly move form one camera to the next, without incrementing the frame count. Now granted, I'm sure that everyone was like me, and totally thrilled when they first saw this, being almost akin to some wonderful new David Copperfield illusion. But now, as mainstream advertisers have apparently mastered the art of this effect, they feel compelled to place it predominantly in EVERY commercial they make, from trucks to breakfast cereals, they use this effect!
    It's just too much, and so, I am calling for a voluntary halt of this effect, for the betterment of mankind, and to ensure that future generation have a world to live in. There's bound to be a whole plethora of undiscovered effects just around the corner, so please, just stop using this one, and start looking for others. That's all anyone could ask for...

    C'mon people! We need your support here! I just saw a new commercial for some kind of hair coloring, and you and I both know what they did... That's right, THE DAMN ROTATING CAMERA! It really doesn't make me any more likely to buy their hair coloring because they spent the money to tape her with 200 cameras as she spins around, so we can look at her hair frozen in time! Don't get me wrong, I love hair, and she does have a great head of hair (among other things), but the rotating camera just detracts from it too much. If we all just work together boycotting these products, they'll get the message. I know you can do it!

What you talkin' 'bout Registry?

    Ok, now I must initially warn you that this is a bit techie, but I've been dealing with this all day today, and I felt that I had to do my part, and ramble on just a bit about... THE REGISTRY! What registry might that be? Well, none other than the one Microsoft includes in every Windows 95/98/NT in existence. If you are unaware what the registry is, then just open up a DOS box, and type 'REGEDIT', which will bring up the handy dandy MS Registry editor. Now be forewarned, you can do some SERIOUS damage to your Windows install in there, so don't just start hitting delete until you know what you're doing; but Microsoft gave you that little utility, not me, so call THEM when you screw up your system. Well, on to the story...
    Sherman, set the wayback machine to circa 1991, or whenever Windows 3.1 was the dominant windowing system on the PC. Now, whenever you installed a program, it would usually create what was called an init file, with the extension '.ini'. These files contained any info the developer needed to store for some length of time; like names, passwords, colors, whatever struck their fancy. Now imagine the blue skies cloud over, and the Windows logo flies overhead, much as the Win95 startup logo appears -- ENTER THE REGISTRY  -- For whatever reason, those boys over a MS decided that ini files were not such a good idea, so they introduced something called the Registry. The registry basically is a big warehouse for all the programs running on your computer to store their data, but not all of their data, just the bear minimum you can get away with (I think they recommend staying under 4k or something like that). Now, you wouldn't have to worry about your programs needing to find their data; it's all in the registry! Hurrah for Microsoft! Wait a minute, what happens if I need to reinstall Windows, and the registry has become corrupt somehow? Well, it's really quite simple to! Instead of having to find the ini files (which usually were in the same directory as the program itself, you can simply just reinstall every single program you have. WHAT!?!? That's CRAZY!!! For all the things that Microsoft gets right, it's always surprising to see the simple things that they get wrong.
    I feel that I should point out that I really do respect what Microsoft does, I mean, I can't think of ANY other company that has soo many programmers, so many products, and yet continues to release reasonably solid code. Now I didn't say that they release the best or brightest or whatever, but they do release solid products, which is AMAZING considering that they are a 300 TON gorilla. A 300 TON gorilla attempting to make miniture glass sculptures of little forest creatures. Sure, sometimes they're missing a leg, or you really can't tell what they're supposed to be, but it doesn't change that it's AMAZING that this gorilla can even make anything, let alone something useful!