Internet

Do not fill black bars on vertical video!

The black bars fill where you duplicate the video content onto a lower layer and magnify and blur it is one of those very stupid effects that are used because to a toddler’s mind they seem like a great idea. But it provides zero benefit. It reduces compression efficiency by leeching off bitrate and generates a constant distraction for the watcher’s attention through pointless movements over the majority of the picture, which is especially bad because human vision is more sensitive to movements towards the periphery and because the zoom amplifies the actual movement energy of the source video. It also blurs the perceptual boundaries, making it more difficult to clearly and easily identify where the actual informational video content ends. This is even worse on videos that are intended to be fully informational and not artistically playful, like for example this one:
 

In short, it is added effort to make a video a PITA. (In German this is called Verschlimmbesserung. Could be translated as worseprovement.)
Here is a good video demonstrating how easily attention can be diverted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4
(It is a somewhat different case, but it is about moving elements drawing attention.)

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New Youtube interface yet another example of the growing madness

Youtube did it again. “Polymer” looks very much for mo’bile, and naturally, LESS space-optimized, no visual section distinctions, and less info in that more space used.

“Clean, fresh, new, going with the times”, these are words marketing people always use to describe beauty-less shit. Just recently I encountered exactly this with Störtebeker beer bottle labels. Boring white rectangular fields introduced where there was a parchment style before, less theme-appropriate beauty, and those words used, while proudly bragging about what an eye-catcher their unique bottle-surrounding label format allegedly is and how everybody loves their new design.

Youtube, too, now did the step we always see with the Grey Gentlemen taking over more of the world. The pleasant red gradients I see in my bookmark bar and tabs has turned into an eye-burning intense monochrome red and the website itself is stuff thrown into a sea of white.

As it is reported, ‘plenty of white space allows you to focus on a site’s content instead of its interface’. The idiocy! Suddenly visual helpers for distinguishing content sections and types, those white boxes on a gentle light gray background, are seen as DISTRACTIONS!

It is very depressing to see this deranged shit happen more and more wherever you look, especially in web design. Verschlimmbesserung everywhere.

UPDATE 2017-09-07: And the bits of genius keep coming. Now Youtube informed me I got early beta access to the new Community tab, which replaces the Discussions tab. So my first thought is: Review and maybe archive all the old Discussions content before it’s gone. Where can I do that if the new tab replaces it. And those eternal numbnuts point me to my comment history, as if that helps in any way. The comment history can’t even be searched, let alone filtered by date, and it’s definitely not useful for finding people’s more or less old comments on my Discussions tab and my responses to it.
Youtube – the 24/7 fucking joke
If they offered me a paid job to bring some brains into their conduct, I might see hope, but I’m smart enough to know the problem lies elsewhere, not in intellectual resources. At least not only.

Discretion – a dying art?

I found two things in one day that helped me allay worries about my donations request for what I do, have done, will be doing, my fledgling endeavors at self-fulfillment.

The first one is something that reminded me of the fact that there are people who upload shows on Piratebay and then advertise their frickin’ Facebook page and ask for follows! (That changes the whole thing quite a bit, just as it does when someone uses a pirated Photoshop not for testing/practice/private hobby but for profit. – As a for-profit brony media site was caught doing a while ago.)

I found a Youtube channel (through Youtube’s “related channels” advertising section) that has nothing but uploads of unaltered snippets of MLP episodes. (Thus no creative contribution whatsoever, merely providing of content.) And there I found a Patreon link where the channel owner was presenting the following case:
– He(or she) has got a job.
– That job no longer leaves time or motivation for uploading those snippets. (As if such isn’t the absolute minimum of effort possible.)
– Sadly(!) he also can’t monetize that copyrighted material because Hasbro does. (That implied intention made me go WTF.)

I don’t even know what word fits this mindset, but lack of discretion comes close. Such discretion enables that five can be called even sometimes and both sides get along if they can find an elegant compromise.
These extremes will contribute the most to (re)building the fear that makes businesses like Hasbro so protective – especially considering that said Youtube channel also uses a character name like a brand name, like an official representation.
(There’s a related thing where people just re-upload other people’s music to populate their channel and call themselves “music promoter”. Further audacity points if they have a disclaimer á la “Tell me if I should remove something ans I will” that signals they didn’t even check whether they are allowed to.)

Man! Apparently my standards were way too high, causing myself unnecessary worry, at least in comparison to some stuff that is going on in the open.

Well, and the second thing today that further solidified the message was this:

http://www.horse-news.net/2015/12/blackgryph0n-michelle-creber-now.html

I recommend reading the whole thing including all comments, because it is a multi-faceted issue. But the critique is at least to some degree justified.

I guess I would have a sprawling career by now if I had approached things like that. Instead I’m dealing with a severe imbalance between what I am capable of and what I was able to put into motion. (And going the hard way towards making stuff happen.)

As for commentary on the Brown/Creber case, the whole document pretty much speaks for itself, but I’d like to point out again how that case is very much like Drawponies, showing how much of people’s moral outrage is actually fueled by personal agenda and how much that determins popularity. If other people (with a popular name, too – guess where it came from) in the same business feel stepped on their toes, they will tweet about it and the issue becomes big. But when it’s like in the case of The Living Tombstone and charity song collabs, one musician doesn’t want to badmouth another one in fear of becoming the target of the same critique, yet all restraint falls away when it’s about money and influence, about business.

Every crisis, every drama is a result of tensions and thus inherently justified to happen, as a means for finding better ways. This view is part of practicing acceptance of everything that emerges. Even if you fight something, it could still either mean you accept the experience or you resist.

Why it is OK to negatively criticize a free game

You’ve probably read it a couple of times. There’s a free game, say, on Steam, and people complain about stuff and then others talk down to them, claiming since it’s a free game, they are bad people.

So let me widen the perceptual horizon here.

Justified critique is totally fine, especially considering that a freely published game, especially on a highly-frequented platform like Steam, is often a promotion instrument, a skill demo, so it’s not exactly for the pure love of the world. You’de be surprised how many people are way more egoistically motivated than they pretend to be. But you’d only be surprised when you find out, and you only find out when you can manage to put them to the test. (I’m digressing slightly here.)
Furthermore, critique is free consulting, so they’re actually getting a good deal. I mean, there are game devs who are totally inept design-wise, publish a piece of crap of a game, then collect the tons of critique and get to work implementing the suggestions and thus don’t need to be anything but a hacker monkey who is being force-fed with game design training. That business scheme seems especially popular with early access. People will even pay for crap and on top of that give you free consulting services, all fueled by the hope that the game becomes great one day.
In the most extreme case, an early access game is little more than: “OK, I made an empty world space. Pay up, then I’ll allow you to tell me what you want in it and I’ll put it there. (Unless I don’t want to.) Isn’t that great? Your own personal ideas implemented in a totally not generic game. Your ego must be so st(r)oked right now. Buy your own little piece of immortality today!
And the next day there’s an empty space with a pickaxe and a zombie.

I was inspired to write this when I learned about a free Steam game (Serena) that had some issues related to Steam being crap and Valve not caring (the usual), and I read up about the game, and it’s advertised as “…the result of a massive collaborative effort between dozens of fans and designers of adventure games.” while when you press ESC that story-progression-type game immediately quits, without so much as a confirmation dialogue. Unbelievable? Well, I’ve seen some wacky things. Totally justified to go “Dude! What the hell?!

Speaking of incompetence: Is there any major internet business that hasn’t made it its mission to destroy any usability? As I am writing this, I have to switch between Visual and HTML view, because HTML view doesn’t have quick formatting, but requires me to add code manually, while Visual doesn’t know what a line break is (!), yet in HTML view it doesn’t even need/show the code for it.
I’m not even gonna explain how to do it more elegantly. They need to figure such basics out themselves. My consulting services aren’t for free, since my expertise is apparently scarce.

The losing battle of combating crappy web development

I used to use Flash player 11.5 so I could watch up to 60 fps on Youtube, but then they changed several things. First, they prevented that feasible method from working. Then they enforced HTML5 (a player with various usability downsides that I also didn’t use because back then 60 fps worked with Flash 11.5) so that I had to cripple my browser to default to Flash. (That also disabled Vine playback.)

And now, since recently, the Flash player’s bottom bar that shows video length and such is not there unless the video plays. I use an addon for disabling autoplay of videos (since Youtube and such steadfastly refuse to allow it), so maybe that’s a factor, but maybe not. I thought it’s because of my ancient Flash player version, but I should have known better. Even with the newest I don’t have it, so if I want to check lengths of videos I have tabbed (which I do a lot), I gotta play-and-page-reload it.

One would think that with all these obstacles, they’re done because HTML5 now plays 60 fps on Firefox, but at least when they set default to HTML5 it didn’t. I could reconfigure some stuff and check whether it does now, but why go through the effort if I know in advance that it very likely still doesn’t? I’m tired of this!

Youtube prevented the one means for watching 60 fps for my browser, so that kinda speaks for itself.

Same with IE by the way. That one I left to default, without modifications or stuff, and it uses Flash and thus can’t play 60 fps.

You know why all this shit is happening this way, right? Do I have to spell it out?

Google Chrome.

When that browser entered the scene, I knew exactly how it would go. That the power-hungry Google corporation would use it in order to conquer ‘market share’ and thus gain control and then focus on their browser so that others would be at a disadvantage. That’s pretty much what Microsoft tried in the past with the IE, too.

And now the (gradually less) intelligently designed Opera browser is basically Chrome, too, and even Steam has been based on Chrome.

Chrome is the corporate browser. Firefox might go through some bullshit dev ideologies, too, but THAT should be the free, independent standard used by most.

Back when I used Opera (up to version 12), I was the rare-case odd power user. When I finally saw no choice but to change to Firefox (actually Waterfox), that one had already become a minor figure.

If developments of this kind continue, we might eventually be using crappy ports of mobile operating systems on PCs, and “PC” then means gaming-console derivative multimedia computer. Also, private Linux users will be classified as potential domestic terrorists by the CIA, since they won’t be able/willing to imagine that anyone would use it unless they’re a hacker, while, in typical double standard, for business purposes it is considered a smart way to reduce expenses.

Yeah, you’ll have noticed, I’m really fed up with this shit.

People should have woken up years ago when Google dropped their motto/guideline “Do no evil.”. I mean, how much clearer do you need it?

My thesis is that people tolerate so much corporate bullshit because they are afraid of having their own personal bullshit be stripped away.

The corporate creeps again (this time: Amazon … I mean Twitch … I mean both. … I guess?)

Twitch.tv now belongs to Amazon. It was also proudly announced a while ago that Twitch.tv is now its own company. Yeah, Amazon, you’re basically bragging with your tax evasion.

I made an account at Twitch.tv to give livestreaming a try.

I got added to a newsletter for all Twitch users. No surprise there, and maybe tolerable, but then I get my first newsletter e-mail and it’s advertising for Amazon Prime. Which they already try to forcefully cram down my throat on Amazon as if their life depended on it. (Poor near-monopolist global corporation. Always on the brink of bankruptcy.)

So then I open a link with the intention of unsubscribing, and it tells me why I am subscribed:

Because I am a valued member of the Twitch community.

Bah, those suckup rhetorics. Cut the bullshit.

Then I unsubscribe, and I receive a confirmation e-mail that states:

” ** We have removed your email address from our list.
————————————————————
We’re sorry to see you go.”

Ehm, what? I merely unsubscribed from an e-mail newsletter and they act as if I canceled my account. Are those creeps trying to guilt-trip me with inflated emo-drama?

Every time I have to deal with stuff like this, I am reminded of a certain movie that is like a metaphor for the modern marketing mindset:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115798

The Cable Guy is your friendly neighborhood global corporation just wanting to be your best friend.

By the way, IMDB is Amazon, too.

Round avatar pictures – The new stupid trend

They keep popping up. The stupid trends that do something the stupid way which used to be done the smart way and everybody jumps on the idea.

Examples from movie-making would be immersion-breaking circular explosion pressure waves and lens flares.

One of the more recent web design trends is to make avatar pictures worse. (There is no English word for Verschlimmbesserung, the act of changing something to make it worse.)

Picture files are rectangular. Web design is profoundly rectangle-based, and for a good reason. It makes efficient use of screen space. Now you create your avatar picture for a web service, cut it so that it includes what you want to see, upload it, and then the web service just cuts off a good bit of the picture all around, thus wasting all the space that has been cut off, since there’s no use for the free space around a circular web element like that anyway. Your whole avatar now looks like it has been squeezed into a balloon, with no advantage, only downsides. Why? Because some marketing-drunk fools think rectangles are so last year?

The world is going crazy. I see the process at work every day.

Selling your soul becomes closer to literal for businesses

Blizzard runs World of Warcraft.

They have their own website and a game forum specifically for World of Warcraft and the game’s login screen features an optional news window if something’s important.

It seems they maneuvered back a bit now (probably because of significant negative feedback), but a while ago you had to look for important info about stuff like unscheduled server offtime on Twitter. They really want people to go to Twitter. And they have Twitter integration in the game now, so I suspect marketing whoring to bring about the new world dominance.

Daybreak Gaming Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) runs Planetside 2. That game, too, has its own game forum, and just like in the case of World of Warcraft, you use your game login, which means that if you want to talk to the player community, there you will find the people who are actually playing the game.

Yet the go-to place for the devs to communicate with players is Reddirt. ( That was a typo I decided to keep. 😀 )

In other news, one of the big German internet providers (the privatized formerly national one in the form of the telephone company Deutsche Telekom) – T-Online – now decided to sell their own website.

Yeah, you heard right. T-Online.de. The company’s website. Where you can log in and do customer service stuff, web mail etc and where they offer their service packages, and also run it as a combined new portal. They sell it. The website that dons their name won’t be theirs anymore.

And it’s probably because of the news component, and not deciding to separate that, but keep it tied to the name, shows how highly names are valued in business, as a brand.

If this continues, selling your own grandma might soon become more than just a figure of speech.

And you know that this is all touching the topic of slavery, right?

When you are no longer in control of your own assets. When more and more that you thought is yours becomes owned.

Are you sure your name is still part of you and not just a legal person? Maybe it has been sold without your consent. (This is what happened to that German telephone company. Important things are not decided democratically here, but sufficiently indirectly to allow the plutocracy to rule over their subjects.)

Speaking of control: When businesses become so big that they consider the small stuff not lucrative enough, they dump that; leave the bread crumbs to the small businesses.

Amazon seemed to have realized that the small crumbs add up, so they decided to gain control over that, too. Can you still afford to run small online distribution without Amazon Marketplace? And Amazon gets their cut. This is the hybrid-solution of total dominance. It’s related to politics when you control and lead the dissent against you in order to crush or drown out any non-approved dissent.

Amazon might have a relatively good service for a huge corporation, but I don’t give them credit for that. Because they can easily afford it. It’s not like there’s still another big competitor like it’s so often the case when corporations wage a war and lose customer-orientation. Amazon now tries to intercept all potential competition and put them under their umbrella. They take all the benefits and reject the inconveniences. Amazon Marketplace is no benefit for small businesses because it only appears to be an advantage because it exists. It’s a bit of a mafia approach: You pay money for protection. Which would be a legit service contract if we didn’t talk about what it is that you need protection against.
This might end in what people who are afraid of socialism think is socialism but is actually a capitalism that they should be afraid of. Concentration of power is never a good idea. It has to be rooted in the people.

Encore
——
Wondering why so many businesses sell out? – It’s like a 3-layer system:
1) Some created their business to sell it once it gets attactive.
2) Those who didn’t might get an offer to sell it that is attractive enough to put money before the business. (Might also be due to special circumstances like with Mojang where Notch wasn’t ready for the responsibility of a fast-growing business.)
3) Those who refused to sell might be either signaled that if they don’t sell, the potential buyer will just push them out of the market with their greater might, or this step happens without communicating that course of action to them.

This chain can be broken by courage, resolve and skill. You gotta be smart enough to, when losing in a shitty game, step out of the game and create your own rules. It’s all mostly just a mind game anyway. The good thing about out-of-the-box thinking is that then you no longer live in a box. 😉

Confusing virtual and real world – the non-clichée occurences

When people talk about confusing the virtual and the real world, it usually is about people acting out their video gaming habits in real life, e.g. killing sprees.

But there are other sides to this that are not void of irony.

One case is when someone is unable, or out of convenience unwilling, to acknowledge that in online gaming you’re interacting with real people. If out of convenience, it is used as a justification for treating others like dirt when they’re not physically present.
In such cases, I like to ask them whether it is also OK to treat people differently when you’re on the phone with them. After all, it’s just digital signals you hear, not a real person. Right?

Actually, I’d pose the thesis that it’s ALWAYS out of convenience. So often people deliberately render themselves unable because it’s easier not to take responsibility.

But the really appalling level is that people who never had anything to do with video gaming can practice the same confusion of virtual and real, as I have witnessed personally, when they consider their own small world as valid and real and anything that doesn’t fit their small-minded comfort zone as not real. Such people would then not just claim that an online game world didn’t involve real people, but they would go so far as claim that online gamers themselves aren’t real. It’s insane, but usually masked in a thin veil of rhetorics to make it sound somewhat less absurd; just enough to not get locked up in a lunatic asylum.

You’ve probably at least heard from cases where someone didn’t get their parents’ approval, where the parents were for example doctor or athlete or stock broker (the latter ones containing even more irony) and the son is an artist, video game developer, any of that, and would hear from his parents how he should instead live in the “real world” like they do.

That kind of small-minded fools might not run amok with a gun, but they’re much more likely to support others doing that. … Because, you know, stop re-enacting Postal in your local school and become a soldier instead and kill people in the real world. Right? Or what?

Frickin lunatics hiding in plain sight everywhere.

Here “Be real!” means “Live as an asshole in a world shaped by assholes!”.

If you are a pioneer in anything, you become the enemy of small, fearful, convenient minds.

What is called “personality disorder” is extremely widespread, but majority society has agreed on a certain level of it that is considered normal.

For way too long I doubted myself and assumed that I am the one with a problem because I saw so much sickness aroumd me. I eventually realized that it’s because of the harsh contrast between my sanity and the insanity of others. Smart and sensitive people dealing with such alienation can then suffer from issues based on that, and while they’re often conveniently thrown into the same bucket, they’re profoundly different. One side of the coin is the symptom complex of acting out a support of sickness, the other side is acting out the resistance to sickness.