Friday, September 13, 2013

A Good Way to Lose Customers!

And so much for

For some time now I have enjoyed reading and, sometimes, sharing article at Salon, but that now comes to a screeching halt.

The reason? Intrusive, obnoxious advertising.

Look, I get it: Advertising pays the bills. I get to read Salon’s stuff for free because of their advertisers. I understand the model (heck, I used to work in an ad agency), and I support it. What I don’t support, can’t support, will not support are in-your-face ads that insist YOU MUST LISTEN TO THEM, at peak volume…never mind the fact that you, if you’re at all like me, are already listening to music, at a comfortable level, on your computer.

The big breakup occurred just a few minutes ago, when I clicked an article link in Salon’s daily e-mail to me. The window hadn’t even loaded when a box popped up and, immediately, AT MAXIMUM VOLUME, began to scream an ad for Homeland Season 2 on Blu-Ray.

In a friendlier age, one was given the option to “click for sound.” No more, apparently.

Why the hell would any advertiser think anyone would want to be assaulted in such a fashion? Okay, an advertiser selling AEDs might want to take such an approach, but why would anyone else? Basically, that kind of auditory rudeness only sours me on the advertiser and the advertising medium. After this experience there is no way in hell will I buy Homeland Season 2 on Blu-Ray (not that I’ve ever been interested in Homeland at all, on Blu-Ray or anything else, but that’s another subject). And, as indicated, I’ve now had it with Salon, too.

Good job, everybody. Unless the goal was not to alienate readers/customers. In which case, bad job, everybody.

I’ve been looking at Salon with a jaundiced eye of late anyhow, ever since I began to notice that their e-mail announcements include a “sponsored post” (aka “ad”) that is meant to look like one of the article links. (Today’s ad is for, you guessed it, Homeland Season 2 on Blu-Ray.) I come from a background in which editorial and advertising are clearly delineated, and I resent attempts to disguise the latter as the former in the hope that someone will be fooled into clicking on it.

But I don’t resent that as much as BEING SCREAMED AT THROUGH MY ALTEC LANSING SPEAKERS, and that in the end is what did Salon in for me.

I’m not saying that I will never read a link to Salon that someone might send me – that smacks of slicing off one’s own nose – but I have unsubscribed from the daily e-mail and will in general consign Salon to the scrap heap of Sites That Used to Be Good.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gosh, I Wonder if this Is Legit

This shows up today in my Yahoo Mail:

It so happens that I do know, slightly a Jerry Caliendo. But it also so happens that, except for one or two social-media exchanges in which I attempted to determine if we're related, I’ve had no traffic with him. He’s not in any of my address books—certainly not my Yahoo address book—nor is it terribly likely he has my Yahoo address either. So the genesis of this pretty unimaginative bit of phishing (for, cynic that I am, I believe it to be Not Entirely on the Up-and-Up) is a mystery. Could be one of those viruses that gets into an address book, then sends to everyone in the address book but makes it look like it’s coming from a different address in the same book. Had that happen at a workplace some years ago. Not fun. Everyone is mad at you because “you” have a virus, and why aren't “you” doing anything about it? Of course, in that job, someone was always mad about something. Or, often, nothing at all. 

But I digress. 

One has to assume that if an acquaintance was in fact sending a link to 60+ addresses, he or she might preface it with some kind of introduction. Especially since the link purports to belong to a French entity. And for heaven’s sake, why can’t the phisher be bothered to come up with some imaginative bogus supposed address? As I have complained before, it’s like these guys aren’t even trying anymore. It may well be, as I keep reading, that these scammers are growing more and more sophisticated, but they seem to be growing less and less creative. And if they can’t be bothered to come up with something interesting, then I can’t be bothered to put my computer at risk by clicking on their link. 

Come on, people—it’s a two-way street!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Men of Steel

Here is a photo of the actor Kirk Alyn as Superman in the 1948 Columbia serial Superman; Alyn also appeared in its 1950 sequel, Atom Man vs. Superman.

I mention this because, in all of the hullabaloo about Man of Steel, which had its premiere today, one keeps reading references to George Reeves as the “original” screen Superman. Not just in fanboy blogs, either: a Salon article about the “curse” of Superman movies leads off by calling Reeves “the first actor to portray the beloved superhero on the screen”, and my childhood chum and fellow comic-book aficionado tells me that Entertainment Weekly commits the same sin.

If only there was some way to, I dunno, check facts before publishing articles. If only there was some resource to which one might turn to look up such information, perhaps some kind of movie database on the internet. If only the writers of such articles had sense enough to pause for a moment and ask themselves if what they “know” is in fact at all accurate. If only editors would examine articles with jaundiced eye. If only publishers would view fact-checkers as essential to their business, not extravagent frills that fall to the axe during the first round of budget cuts.

If only...

I am very fond of George Reeves; for me and most of my peer group of the so-called Silver Age of Comics, Reeves is Superman, even more than Christopher Reeve, and likely always will be. But to carelessly claim he was the first filmic Superman is just plain wrong, and does a disservice to Kirk Alyn. Reeves did not step into the cape until the 1951 feature film, Superman and the Mole Men, which served as a kind of pilot film to the TV series Adventures of Superman, which aired the following year.

Were one of such a mind (as I shared with my aforementioned childhood chum yesterday), one could in fact make the case that radio actor and announcer Bud Collyer was in fact the screen’s first Superman: Having voiced the character and his alter ego on the radio series The Adventures of Superman, beginning in 1940, Collyer provided the voice of Superman and Clark Kent in a series of cartoons that began in 1941. (Collyer reprised the dual roles in 1960s Saturday morning cartoons.) Although of course never seen in the Superman role, one might claim that Collyer was the first to portray the character.

However, I am content to give the credit to Kirk Alyn. It is, after all, where the credit is due.

Meanwhile, I perceive that I am sounding a little like someone from The Big Bang Theory. Sorry about that. My point here is more about getting facts straight that showing off my comic-book geekiness. But whatever works.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Apostrophe Catastrophe, pt. 2

Words are insufficient to express how much I detest this sort of thing:

Not the ’70s per se, but rather the typographical dumbness and/or inexcusable laziness inherent in having the apostrophe in such instances going the wrong way.

For once, uncomfortably, I have to put myself among the Blame the Computer crowd. Specifically, I blame “helpful” applications that insert legitimate quotation marks and apostrophes into our sentences. That and dumbness and laziness (see above).

For the most part, I appreciate having " and " turned into “ and ”, but the problem arises when the program gets to ' and ’. See, Word, PhotoShop, InDesign, etc., don't know an apostrophe from a single quote mark. So it looks for cues from the structure of a sentence. If it guesses that the user wants single quotes around a sentence, or a word or words within a sentence, it will correctly produce something like this:

“The quick brown fox jumps over the ‘lazy’ dog.”

Good enough. Likewise, when the program detects a single quote mark within a word, it correctly deduces an apostrophe is the order of the day:

“The quick brown fox’s kits jump over the ‘lazy’ dog.”

But things go entirely off the rails when those sentence cues don’t hold. For instance, a couple of paragraphs ago, when I wrote “ and ” ? I had to go back and make sure the second quotation mark curved the right direction. Good ol’ Microsoft Word wanted to give me “ and “ … because the space after and made the program thing it was the beginning of a sentence, phrase, or word. It gave me the right quotation mark, but in the wrong context.

And when I wrote good ol’ Microsoft Word back there? Word correctly determined that I needed an apostrophe in ol’, since it indicates a missing letter, and delivered the goods. But it—and nearly any other program you’d care to name—gives out entirely when it comes to something like Welcome to the ’70s. It’s the space in front of ’70s that throws it, making it think that a single quote mark is needed rather than an apostrophe. And it delivers the wrong goods.

The fix is really very easy: You type ’70s --> , and then go back and delete the --> . Alas, computers have convinced a great many people that anyone who can use turn one on is a writer, editor, designer, typographer, you name it, and so a great many people who don’t know the difference between ‘ and ’ – and are too ignorant to know they don’t know – are misusing left-hand single quote marks as apostrophes. Luckily, it’s almost certain that a majority of their readers or viewers don’t know the difference either. But for those of us who do…nails on a blackboard.

That said: Kudos to the designer of the image above, or a semi-astute editor or art director, for not sticking an apostrophe before the s in ’70s. If ‘70s is like nails on a blackboard, ‘70’s would be like an icepick in the ear.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Perhaps a Very Distant Relative

This is not the first time I’ve noticed that Salon’’s “related stories” link is almost always entirely unrelated to the article I’’ve just read; it’s just the most recent.

The article in question (this time) is Scientists release most precise date of dinosaur extinction. And it’’s an interesting read. Interesting enough that one might, in fact, be inclined to read more on the subject--which, presumably, is what a “related stories” link would be for.

But not in Salon’’s world, where, apparently “related stories” really means “other, completely unrelated stories.” Behold the three items it initially displays:

Not a dinosaur among ’’em.