In the story, Vaughn and Wilson portray two old school salesmen who, finding themselves suddenly unemployed and passed-by in the digital world, try to reinvent themselves by becoming interns at a major tech company.
That brief piece doesn’t reveal which tech company it is, but the set pictures might give a bit of a clue.
That’s not a real Google office. According to this Reddit thread it’s actually a building at Georgia Tech.
We recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of Google in London by welcoming the Streetview car at the office. The imagery went live today.
I love the variety of hats on display. Those hats were actually for a reason. We wanted Googlers’ faces to be unblurred, so we all wore hats to identify ourselves as Googlers. Anyone walking by without a hat would still have their face blurred just like on the rest of Streetview.
The way the media cover an event influences whether there will be repetitions. For example, if a fan runs onto the field during a baseball game, the broadcast cameras usually avoid showing pictures of the fan. The TV producers know that the fan on the field is seeking attention, and that, presumably, getting his picture on television will reward him. Moreover, broadcasting the man’s antics would encourage copycats.
Killing time at a baseball game is a tiny misdeed, compared to killing people, but many media decisions have the effect of encouraging copycat murders.
Here’s an interesting idea for preventing phones from being a distracting nuisance during a meal, the phone stack:
It works like this: as you arrive, each person places their phone facedown in the center of the table. (If you’re feeling theatrical, you can go for a stack like this one, but it’s not required.) As the meal goes on, you’ll hear various texts and emails arriving… and you’ll do absolutely nothing. You’ll face temptation—maybe even a few involuntary reaches toward the middle of the table—but you’ll be bound by the single, all-important rule of the phone stack.
Whoever picks up their phone is footing the bill.
I’m really torn on the subject of using or not using a cell phone in a social setting. On the one hand I really want to agree with the sentiment of this suggestion, that either the people you are with are worth your full attention or you shouldn’t be with them. As Scott Simpson put it in his classic tweet, “My new standard of cool: when I’m hanging out with you, I never see your phone ever ever ever”. On the other hand there are things that I always want to use my phone for when I’m out, and I want to be able to do that in a way that’s not going to bother the people I’m with.
My main interest in my phone when I’m out is to check in on Foursquare wherever I go. Not supermarkets or friends’ houses, but bars, restaurants and venues. It’s the best way that I know of to keep a personal record of the things I do; it saves me from having to keep a journal, because a look at my check-in history is usually enough to jog my memory of events. Badges and points and mayorships I can take or leave; it’s that history of my travels that makes me not want to leave any place out.
Checking in on Foursquare (or Google Latitude or whatever other location service is your bag) is OK when you’re in the company of other people who are also doing it, or if you can surreptitiously check in just before you arrive when you’re still by yourself. Where it becomes quite awkward is when you’ve gone to an upmarket restaurant and you’ve already got your phone out before the waiter has had time to put the napkin on your lap (Why do they insist on doing that in some restaurants? I’s like it’s meant to imply that wealth correlates with an inability to do practical things for oneself. Oh, I see.)
I feel like there should be some sort of amnesty on phone use for the first minute or so at any location. You wouldn’t stand up and drag chairs around or faff about with your coat in the middle of a meal, but that’s totally OK when you’re just getting yourself and your table in order as you arrive. Similarly I think it should be normal to spend a minute after you sit down doing whatever it is you need to do with your phone—let other members of your group know that you’ve arrived, look up recommendations of what to eat, check in, feed your virtual sheep. Then it’s phones away for everyone and you can get on with the business of awkwardly failing to make conversation.
Last Christmas my brother bought me a poster-sized map of the world covered in that metallic coating they put on lottery scratch cards. The idea is that you scratch off the countries you’ve been to, which reveals a normal map—complete with rivers, mountains and major cities—underneath. It’s a fun way to visualize your travels, and it gives the countries you haven’t been to yet an extra air of mystery.
Unfortunately in my enthusiasm to scratch off all of the places I’ve been, including almost every country in western Europe, my momentum got the best of me. I had revealed about four fifths of Denmark before I realized what I was doing. I’ve never been to four fifths of Denmark. In fact I’ve never been to any amount of Denmark. I had inadvertently lied to my map. So I resolved to fix it in the only way it could be fixed.
Lego shop in Copenhagen, by Esben Jensen
On Thursday, I will be travelling to Copenhagen—or København, which I’ve been enjoying trying to pronounce correctly for the last week or so—for a long weekend. Between the jazz festival that runs until the 15th, the Lego shop (though it’s sadly smaller than the one at the Rockefeller Center in New York), and the admittedly small possibility of getting a seat at the best restaurant in the world, it promises to be fun.
Bolands Mill is a place of historical significance in Ireland. By that I mean that I first heard about it in a history class in school, and I basically know nothing else about it. As I understand it, it was one of the key locations during the 1916 rising which ultimately resulted in Irish independence from the United Kingdom.
Much more significantly for me, it was the giant ugly concrete building across the road from my apartment when I lived in Dublin. It’s on the corner of Ringsend Road and Barrow Street, about a block away from Google’s Dublin office. I used to look at it during my (extremely brief) walk home from work, and I always thought it looked like an ideal model for a level in a first-person shooter. It’s full of huge ladders, narrow walkways and tiny slit windows. I can easily imagine playing Counter Strike in it.
The mill has been closed for years, so there was never any chance that I’d make it inside to have a peek around. Fortunately for me, my cousin Conor Coghlan managed to (perfectly legally and legitimately, I’m sure) get a bit of a look around recently. He posted this video of the inside of the facility, and the view from the top:
I love this video. Among a group of supporters vying for a slice of Barack Obama’s attention at a rally in Maryland, one man decides to tell the president, “I’m proud of you.” He says it in his first language, American sign language. Without a second thought Obama replies, “Thank you,” also in sign language.
Now I realize that Obama was saying thank you to pretty much every person he met along that line, without necessarily even hearing what anyone was saying to him. So it’s possible, maybe likely, that he didn’t understand what had been signed to him. He could have inferred from body language and context that it was something positive. I also recognize that the supporter in question, a student at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland, arrived sufficiently late that there was “such a long line and I got so worried that I wouldn’t get a good seat to be able to see my interpreter” according to his own telling of events, so the fact that he got close enough to attract the president’s attention suggests that he may well have been seated deliberately to enable this kind of interaction.
But I don’t care. Because those thoughts occurred to me after I watched the video. What I thought of while I watched it was something much less cynical, and much more valuable.
There’s a movie scene that’s been among my favourites for, wow, nearly 20 years. It’s from the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. In it, Richard Attenborough’s Santa Claus finds himself with a deaf girl on his knee at his grotto in the mall. The girl’s mother tells him that he doesn’t have to talk to her, that “she just wanted to see you”. Of course he ignores this comment and he talks to her in sign language. To him it simply doesn’t make sense that any child should be excluded from experiencing what all the other children get to experience just because she happens to be deaf.
Despite being a fiction, this one scene is the most touching example of how making a small effort to ensure people aren’t excluded can make a big difference.
I was 11 years old when that movie came out, and I’ve seen in any number of times since. That scene still inspires me to remember the huge effect an unexpected yet simple kindness can have on a person. I imagine that’s how this Obama supporter must feel.
There’s an interesting piece on MSNBC Travel summarizing a few international rules for dining. It contains some familiar ones, like don’t eat with your left hand in India, or don’t order a cappuccino after noon in Italy. Actually that one isn’t such a problem. Italians are pretty happy to just flat out ignore you if you do ask for a cappuccino in the afternoon. It’s sometimes fun to order a decaf one, just to see how they react. And if you’re especially brave, order a tall decaf frappuccino. Just don’t blame me if you get hurt.
There are a couple of recommendations in the article that I should already know but didn’t. Apparently in Thailand the fork is used for putting food on the spoon, not for putting food in your mouth. I eat Thai food all the time and I never knew this.
There’s one tip in there that I didn’t know but which makes a lot of sense. In Georgia (I assume the country, not the state) it’s expected that you drink a glass of wine in one go instead of sipping. I think I know why this is. In my experience Georgian wine is terrible, like drinking super-sweetened garbage water, so if you ever find yourself in a position where you’re expected to drink it you really want to get it over with as quickly as possible.
Microsoft has a new ad campaign promoting Internet Explorer as the browser you loved to hate. It’s amusing to see them play off the fact that so many geeks have spent so much time trying to convince friends and family to move onto better browsers over the years. I was certainly among them when this blog was young.
Internet Explorer’s problem is no longer that it sucks. I’m happy to admit that it probably doesn’t anymore. Its problem now is that it requires you to be running Windows, and that’s decreasingly likely to be the case these days. It’s not IE on Windows versus Firefox on Windows anymore. Now it’s IE on Windows versus Chrome on Windows, Mac and Android versus Firefox on Windows and Mac versus Safari on Mac, iPhone and iPad.