Monday, October 31, 2011

When Twitter favorites aren’t favorites


I like the “favorites” button on Twitter, but I don’t use it to mark my favorite tweets.
I use the favorites button for two purposes, neither of which involve me expressing my opinion about a tweet.
For me, the microblogging service Twitter is mostly a news feed. I follow 23 technology, business, media and entertainment news services, which can post hundreds of tweets a day to share weblinks to articles. When I’m pressed for time, I’ll click the favorites star to mark a tweet that I plan to return to later.
I also use the favorites star to bookmark the last tweet I read. That way I don’t waste time rereading tweets to find where I left off.
This isn’t a problem except that Twitter now alerts members when someone “favorites” one of their tweets. I wish Twitter would stop doing this. If a tweet is truly a favorite, I’ll retweet it to my followers and add to my tweet stream.
I can’t be the only Twitter user who uses the favorites button this way. Without a way to mark where you left off, Twitter feeds can be overwhelming.
I hope Twitter keeps the favorites button, but also learns what users are really doing with it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

24 notable webpage error messages

I recently got an error page on LinkedIn showing a janitor washing the floor. It included the message “Sit tight. We’re taking a moment to clean things up.”
It got me thinking about other webpage error screens, usually called 404 error messages. Turns out that I’m not the only one. Quite a few websites have compiled lists of funny, artistic or interesting webpage error messages.
Here are 24 notable webpage error screens, starting with LinkedIn (above). Click on the images for a larger view.

Bellaminettes, website of French artist Bruno Bellamy

Bitly, weblink shortening service

Daniel Karcher, film design studios

Google, search engine

Heinz, ketchup maker

IGN, video game news website

Mozilla, maker of the open-source Firefox Web browser

South Park Studios, maker of the cartoon “South Park”

TechCrunch, technology news website

The New Yorker, magazine

The North Face, outdoor apparel and accessories maker

Twitter, microblogging website

Urban Outfitters, apparel retailer

Adham Dannaway, a Web designer and developer in Sydney, Australia

Astuteo, a Web design studio
(Sadly, Astuteo’s 404 error page no longer includes the Campbell’s SpaghettiOs can.)

Blizzard Entertainment, video game company owned by Activision Blizzard

Chris Glass, a graphic designer

Club Kayak, Florida community for kayaking and canoeing

Hasbro, toy company

The 501st Legion, a worldwide Star Wars costuming organization comprised of and operated by Star Wars fans.

FrogsThemes, a designer of WordPress themes

Frontend, Web design and development conference in Oslo, Norway

NPR, National Public Radio

Other resources:

Page Not Found – Showcase of Creative 404 Pages (Inspiration Mix; Sept. 6, 2011)

25 Mind Boggling 404 Error Pages (SloDive; Aug. 30, 2011)

Showcase of Creative and Entertaining 404 Error Pages (Noupe; Aug. 25, 2011)

33 More Entertaining 404 Error Pages (Mashable; Jan. 16, 2011)

35 Entertaining 404 Error Pages (Mashable; Sept. 4, 2010)

Beautiful and Useful 404 Error Pages for Inspiration (Six Revisions; May 30, 2010)

12 Unique 404 Error Page Designs (SloDive; Jan. 11, 2010)

404 Error Pages for Your Viewing Pleasure (WDL; Oct. 14, 2009)

Creative 404 Error Pages Around for Inspiration (InstantShift.com; March 24, 2009)

The 100 most funny and unusual 404 error pages (Blog of Francesco Mugnai; July 2008)

404 Error Pages: Reloaded (Smashing Magazine; Aug. 17, 2007)

Wanted: Your 404 Error Pages (Smashing Magazine; July 25, 2007)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Player controversy shines unflattering light on Lingerie Football League

On Friday night, the Lingerie Football League’s Baltimore Charm could play against a skeleton crew of the Toronto Triumph after at least 16 Triumph players quit the team over safety concerns.
The players voiced concerns about improper equipment and poor coaching. They said they were equipped with ill-fitting hockey helmets and one-size-fits-all shoulder pads designed for young men, according to Toronto Star.
“We would have headaches during practice,” said former Triumph player Sandra Dalla Giustina. “They made a hockey helmet a football helmet, and that’s not what it’s for.”
She’s right. Those helmets are designed to deflect an occasional hockey puck or stick, not take the full force of a collision with another player or the hard ground.
Case in point: Check out the serious cut Baltimore Charm running back Kacey White suffered to her face when she was tackled on Sept. 16 in a game against the Orlando Fantasy. (See above photo.) She wouldn’t have gotten that injury with a football helmet.
The hockey helmets obviously were chosen so LFL fans could see the players’ attractive faces better. Safety was a secondary consideration.
Head coach Don Marchione ignored Triumph players’ requests to improve the equipment, the Star reported. And when players sustained injuries in their first game and only game of the season so far against the Tampa Breeze on Sept. 17, there were no medical personnel to treat them. In that game, players suffered sprained ankles, concussions and pulled hamstrings, the players said. (Game photo below.)
The reason for the “shoddy” equipment, as one player referred to it, is so spectators, mostly men, can observe the players’ bodies.
Male bloggers and commenters have been unsympathetic to the women who quit. This just reinforces negatives stereotypes about men and their perceptions of the LFL.
A writer at Barstool Sports, using the byline “kmarco,” wrote:

Chicks are so funny sometimes. Take themselves so seriously and act like what they do is so important when at the end of the day earning their living by running around a field in their panties getting in 99% naked pig piles. Hey sweethearts I hate to burst your competitive bubbles but this ain’t the NFL. Nobody cares about your form tackles and pass rush technique. Nobody cares about your intensity and desire to win. Just tighten up your bra, hike your thong up your asshole, and run some slow easy fly patterns so everyone can watch your tits bounce. Seriously if you’re getting concussions and sprained ankles playing lingerie football you’re doing it wrong.
Regardless of what organizers and many fans of the LFL think of their sport, the players take this game seriously. They hit hard, practice hard and play aggressively. They’re not “doing it wrong.” To play hard-nosed, smash-mouth football, you need the right equipment. And it’s pretty clear they’re not getting it.
The idea behind the LFL is as sexist as they get. But even two seasons in, I can see the players starting to turn this into a real sport.
The LFL doesn’t pay its players salaries, only their travel and equipment expenses. These players are in it for the love of the sport. The LFL is going to have to start treating its players like professional athletes, not commodities they can exploit.
LFL Chairman Mitchell Mortaza was dismissive of the complaints of the former Triumph players in a statement issued Tuesday.
“Apparently it never occurred to some former Toronto Triumph players that in tackle football you could possibly pull a hamstring or twist an ankle. True LFL athletes are actual football players who understand that in football, injuries happen, they do not pretend to be football players just to gain celebrity,” he said.
Mortaza argued that Triumph team members quit after an embarrassing performance in a 48-10 opening night loss to the Breeze.
It will be interesting to see what sort of team the Triumph fields for its game Friday. Various media reports said 16 to 22 of the team’s 26 players had quit.

Other articles:

LFL: 22 Toronto players quit, comments show league’s disarray (Yahoo Sports; Oct. 20, 2011)

Lingerie Football League in trouble? Mass walkout of Toronto Triumph players (NBC Sports; Oct. 20, 2011)

Ford, others quit lingerie league (Toronto Sun; Oct. 19, 2011)

At the Lingerie Football League Tryouts (Torontoist; May 2, 2011)

A disgruntled Lingerie Football League Player speaks out (NBC Sports; April 21, 2011)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Favorite websites in review, part 4

These websites have been featured on Tech-media-tainment and bear the TMT stamp of approval.
This is the fourth set of 25 favorite websites.

76. YourVersion (yourversion.com)
77. The Daily Patdown (thedailypatdown.com)
78. Cover It Live (coveritlive.com)
79. The Great Gatsby for NES (greatgatsbygame.com)
80. Shit My Kids Ruined (shitmykidsruined.com)
81. My Kid Is Gifted (mkig.com)
82. The Nine Eyes of Google Street View (9-eyes.com)
83. Hanzi Smatter (hanzismatter.blogspot.com)
84. Born This Way Blog (borngaybornthisway.blogspot.com)
85. Asians Sleeping in the Library (asianssleepinginthelibrary.tumblr.com)
86. SolarBeat (whitevinyldesign.com/solarbeat)
87. The Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator (malcolmgladwellbookgenerator.com)
88. Ransom Note Generator (ransom.sytes.org)
89. Wanna Feel Old? (wannafeelold.tumblr.com)
90. Beloit College Mindset List (beloit.edu/mindset)
91. Man Tripping (mantripping.com)
92. Wikia (wikia.com)
93. TinEye (tineye.com)
94. Survey Monkey (surveymonkey.com)
95. Adventure Time official website (www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/adventuretime/)
96. Adventure Time wiki on Wikia (adventuretimewithfinnandjake.wikia.com/wiki/Adventure_Time_with_Finn_and_Jake_Wiki)
97. Techmeme (techmeme.com)
98. Kuo Design – Steve Jobs on Magazine Covers (kuodesign.com/pineapple/coverme)
99. Very Special Girls (veryspecialgirls.blogspot.com) - Warning: Contains nudity, mature content
100. Tumblr (tumblr.com)

Updates (March 17, 2013):
Since writing about TinEye in June 2011, I’ve switched to Google Images, which provides better reverse image search results. TinEye is still good, but Google’s image search is simply better.
My Kid Is Gifted is no longer available.
Asians Sleeping in the Library also is off-line.
The Daily Patdown hasn’t posted a new article since April 18, 2012.
Wanna Feel Old? hasn’t posted a new article since July 4, 2012.

Update (Feb. 17, 2014):
Ransom Note Generator is off line.
Tumblr is no longer a favorite website of mine, since it deleted my three blogs.

Update (June 15, 2014):
Wanna Feel Old? has taken down the interesting content that made it a favorite.

Art: The Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time with Finn and Jake.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 more fun Tumblr blogs

Following yesterday’s post featuring 10 fun and interesting Tumblr blogs, here are five more worth checking out.

Animals Being Dicks


Animals Being Dicks features silly animated GIFs of animals being jerks.
The Next Web interviewed the blog’s creator in August.

Starbucks Spelling


Starbucks Spelling is a blog that offers “a collection of misspelled names from the inventors of the ‘Frappuccino.’”

The Lisa Simpson Book Club


The Lisa Simpson Book Club features images of “Simpsons” cartoon character Lisa Simpson reading books.

Posing With Friends


Posing With Friends is a photo blog featuring people imitating tourists taking pictures.

Unnecessary Journalism Phrases


Unnecessary Journalism Phrases “was created to showcase linguistic crutches journalists employ. Each entry looks at a particular phrase, an unnecessary one, if you will, and links to the offending article.”
This blog got a nice write-up by Poynter.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10 fun Tumblr blogs

Tumblr is hot.
The upstart blogging platform is easy to use and ideal for posting photos, videos and short messages. Tumblr combines the simplicity of microblogging service Twitter with the visual appeal of a photo or video hosting website.
Lately I’ve noticed quite a few Tumblr blogs spotlighted in The Huffington Post’s regular feature “7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now.” It’s become a new hotspot for Internet memes.
The following are 10 fun and interesting Tumblr blogs, some of which have been featured in HuffPo’s “7 Sites” and TheNextWeb.com’s Tumblr Tuesday.

Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street


Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street features photos of attractive women protesting at the Occupy Wall Street rally in New York City. (See sample photos above.) Salon.com recently wrote about this controversial blog.

Shit That Siri Says


Shit That Siri Says shows screenshots of funny responses from Siri, the speech-recognition personal assistant app on Apple’s iPhone 4S.

[sic] Humor


[Sic] Humor spotlights examples of bad writing found by a professional book reader.

CAPTCHArt



CAPTCHArt turns nonsense Captcha security words turned into funny cartoons. TheNextWeb.com recently wrote about the website.

New Condoms


New Condoms features Photoshopped images of condom wrappers sporting well-known brands and logos.

Letterheady


Letterheady displays interesting and notable letterhead designs.

Scandybars


Scandybars shows photos of the insides of candy bars from around the world.

Presidential Pickup Lines


Presidential Pickup Lines runs photos of U.S. presidents with humorous pickup lines they could have used.

Reasoning with Vampires


Reasoning with Vampires savagely critiques the poor writing and grammar of author Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series of books.

Replaceface


On Replaceface, a digital artist replaces the heads of Russian generals in famous paintings with modern celebrities. This sample features Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hollywood’s one-sided love of public domain works continues

Hollywood loves to adapt stories from the public domain because they often are known quantities and are off copyright and free to use. (Current examples: “The Three Musketeers” and “Puss in Boots.”)
But Hollywood zealously fights to keep its original stories from going into the public domain. So while it benefits from the public domain, Hollywood doesn’t contribute to it. Corporate copyright holders have successfully lobbied Congress to extend copyright terms way beyond the original intent, bastardizing the purpose of copyrights.
Under copyright law, a government gives the owner or creator of a work of art a monopoly on its use for a “limited” period of time. Governments spend considerable resources (i.e. tax dollars) to enforce those copyrights. What the public gets in return is the expectation that those works eventually will be placed in the public domain where educators, artists and other people will be free to use and adapt them for the benefit of society and humanity.
But corporate copyright holders have convinced government officials to stretch the terms of copyrights practically forever. That’s wrong. The public domain of ideas needs to be regularly refreshed.
On Friday, the latest adaptation of “The Three Musketeers” opened in theaters. The movie, starring Logan Lerman and Milla Jovovich, was filmed in 3-D. It’s based on the 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas. The source material has been made into two dozen movies over the last 100-plus years, according to Wikipedia.
Up next is “Puss in Boots” from DreamWorks Animation, which will hit theaters Nov. 4. The computer-animated movie features the voices of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek. This version of Puss in Boots is a spinoff from the “Shrek” series of movies, which are based in large part on fairy tales in the public domain.
“Puss in Boots” is based on a 1697 French fairy tale by Charles Perrault, according to Wikipedia.
Many more new works based on or inspired by public domain works are on the way. More on that later.

Photos: Movie posters of "The Three Musketeers" and "Puss in Boots."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eye-opening chart on state of newspapers


In an Oct. 18 report on Internet trends, Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker included a chart comparing U.S. newspaper print and online revenue with Google’s U.S. revenue.
Newspaper revenue is tumbling while Google sales are steadily climbing. Both get most of their revenue from advertising.
It does appear that Google is benefiting at the expense of newspapers. Maybe Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward was right when he said earlier this year that the tombstone of Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt should read: “I killed newspapers.” (See Poynter article.)
“Newspapers, once the bastions of content creation (and) curation, are experiencing (their) 5th straight year of declining revenue,” Meeker wrote.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yahoo may not be built to last

As a consumer of Yahoo services, I’m concerned about the future of the once-dominant Web portal.
Over the years, Yahoo has fallen behind Google, Facebook and others as go-to Web services. It has let core services atrophy, seen talented workers leave and gone through rounds of layoffs and other cost-cutting moves. Yahoo also has had a deplorable record of making acquisitions and then letting those promising businesses die.
Since firing CEO Carol Bartz (its 3rd chief executive in less than five years) in September, Yahoo is rumored to have put itself up for sale.
I hope that if Yahoo is sold, the new owners can get Yahoo back on the right path and improve upon the things that it does well.
Yahoo’s strength has been as a Web portal, a starting point for people launching their browsers. It acts as a modern newspaper, aggregating news and information important to users. I particularly love the My Yahoo page, which I’ve customized with news categories that interest me. Yahoo’s Finance webpages also are top notch. But there’s room for improving them. And Yahoo must do a better job bringing those services to smartphones and tablets as well.
I’ve been using Yahoo’s e-mail service for about 14 years. My first Web-based e-mail address was with RocketMail, which Yahoo acquired in 1997. I stuck with Yahoo because it seemed like the company was built to last.
In 2005, I became a paying subscriber of Yahoo’s Flickr photo-hosting service and still use it today.
I’m concerned about Yahoo’s future. As a consumer, I’ve gotten used to Yahoo’s services and would hate having to start over someplace else.
But that’s the ephemeral nature of the Web. Services and websites can’t be counted on to stick around.

Photo: Yahoo billboard in Silicon Valley, photo by Fred Abercrombie of Unnecessary Umlaut.

Resources:

“Yahoo’s 3Q shows company remains in financial funk” (Oct. 18, 2011; Associated Press)

“Yahoo Profit Falls 26%, but Its Media Sites Draw More Views” (Oct. 18, 2011; Reuters)

“Yahoo Has a Crowd, Wants a Voice” (Oct. 3, 2011; New York Times)

“Content Deluge Swamps Yahoo” (Sept. 8, 2011; Wall Street Journal)

“At Flickr, Fending Off Rumors and Facebook” (Jan. 30, 2011; New York Times)
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