Technology

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.

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Are the mids the music’s heart?

I had this thought when I considered the strong mids that music has and had in times and areas that ‘have heart’. Look at where and when you find music that very much focuses on anything but mids. Powerfull bass, aggessive highs. Electronic music, often. Electronic being more based on machines, logic, technology. All digital. Zero and one.
And I thought how this could match the visual scale of frequencies and thus also relate to the chakra model. The heart is in the middle. Its color is green. Green is the color of that powerful, defining part of nature, the ego-less sun-drinking plant life, and it doesn’t seem to be very popular if I look at trends like car paint colors and such. All kinds of strife to focus on other phenomena, as long as it avoids the heart.
In music, you could say the mids are unspectacular. They even don’t work if you intensify them a lot. They are like the epitome of boredom. But without them, something is missing. Maybe not to the mind, but to the heart. They are not the show-stealer, but the crucial support to make it well-rounded. The slow, deep breath.
You can see how frequency always matches a spiritual state. Powerful bass puts emphasis on the primal, the foundation of life, the power from below, felt with the whole body. Powerful highs are all about the mind, perceived with the ears only, and only if that chakra is healthy.
You could say the heart is the most elusive force. Naturally, since its domain cannot be fathomed by the mind. But the mind can allow it to be, or not to, and that might not be the ideal situation.

I won’t make a refined essay out of this. Use it as food for meditation if you like.

Why do game designers do incredibly idiotic things?

You can watch my detailed video about it or read the summary below.

I recently got an SSD and only now realized the full magnitude to something that bothered me a while ago.

The game: The Witcher 3
This game featured plenty of eyebrow-furling things. Some of them got fixed later, but the really stupid stuff actually kept coming. I’ll only focus on one issue here though that has existed all the time since the game was released.

When you load a savegame, you get a simple 2D-animated sequence and a speaker recounts the story position at the time of the savestate. That animation looks a lot like scripted to eventually end in a loop state until the load process has finished.
When it does finish, for a brief moment a regular loading screen pops up, with a nice picture and a loading animation, which looks kinda sloppy, but shows that there actually is an alternative mode for this.

Well, here comes the kicker: To use one example, you watch a loading process where the speaker talks for 18 seconds and the whole process takes 43 seconds until the game has finished loading, with the animated sequence looping for the rest of the time.
Damn, this game has long load times!

No, actually not, it’s just trolling you by deliberately wasting your time. While the devs for some reason decided to later add subtitles to those sequences that you cannot turn off even if you want to because you’re not deaf and have seen that story bit plenty of times anyway, what they never did is AT LEAST add an info telling you when the loading process has finished and you can now enter the game if you press a key. That would be the MINIMUM. That could actually be an optional feature, but not really that important when the loading process isn’t of patience-testing length, which it wouldn’t be without this artificial delay.

Here is another minor example of bad design decisions: The game has super-beautiful graphics, but taking screenshots without UI requires (not-so-ideal) fan mods, while a low-budget indie game shows how it’s done.

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 silliness of consumers purchasing M-DISCs

Clever business move to offer archival-tech optical media (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-DISC) to the consumer market. But I have to chuckle/facepalm when I read people mentioning how their 10 years old burned CDs aren’t readable anymore, so now, in the year 2015 where optical media are close to suffering the same fate that the floppy disc once did, people are paying insane prices for optical discs that will reliably last hundreds of years. What a comedy. For much less they could have transferred their data to fresh media if it’s so important to them to not just store them on a flash drive or hadddisk. And who knows? Maybe their old discs would still be alright if they had bought quality ones back then.

BTW this isn’t even relevant to people who still play their music from CDs, because M-DISCs are available for DVD and BD only. And pressed CDs have good longevity anyway, so you’ll have your originals as archive for a long time.

Even in the area of professional archival storage there are good technology competitors to optical M-DISC media. This is a niche technology, very useful for a very small number of applications. And not a surprise that such things come towards the end of a technology’s life. Because it’s business – focused on profit, not on usefulness. Shows how well it works to sell people stuff they don’t need.

And not that it would be relevant due to what I just pointed out, but even their marketing is deceptive, too. (As marketing so often is.) They advertise more than 1000 years of data storage, but if you dig a little for details, you learn that that doesn’t mean error-free. The time span in which you can call it virtually guaranteed that all data is still safely readable is significantly lower. … Yeah, the horribly truth is that in 100 years from now you might have to go through the hassle of transferring all your M-DISC data to quantum crystal storage, haha. What a drag. … Oh wait, in 100 years you’re dead! … And in 1000 years your distant offspring won’t even remember there ever was such a thing as M-DISCs, because even the few organisations who once made use of them will have switched to a different technology long ago. If the organisations still exist.

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.

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.

The folly of the flexible consciousness definition

There is this idea, this quest – about creating consciousness. About pushing AI development over some kind of threshold where it becomes “conscious”.
This folly makes me facepalm, because that term is so differently interpreted and vaguely defined, and if one decided to define it exactly, then closing in on fulfilling that will make people redefine it and apply more rigorous standards.
Some people, including many scientists, are so narrow-minded that they would claim animals do not possess consciousness. That’s ordinary human hubris of which scientists SHOULD be above.

Imagine they develop a computer program that becomes so good in its reactions to human input that the average person cannot distinguish it from a human being. OK, forget the average person. Those who make up the definition of consciousness need to be convinced. Then … then they’d practice denial and strengthen their belief that there must be some magical quantum leap or such; that this can’t be it – it’s just extremely well-developed AI, but consciousness is a privilege of the supreme human creation – we can’t diminish its value by saying this artificial thing possesses that.

Yeah, first you try to do something and when you succeed, you don’t like the idea.

And the real joke is that they have been working with consciousness all the time, because it is everywhere. But even if you are not ready for this pantheistic view, just take a simple lifeform, like a fly. A fly is a living being, too, created through this ‘magical’, self-perpetuating process. A fly reacts to outside stimuli. It is a simpler lifeform than a human being, but what does it matter? Where do you draw the line? And don’t you negate yourself when you claim that consciousness isn’t just about building a sufficiently complex construct, yet when you go the other way and merely reduce complexity, you claim there is no consciousness?

These are very simple and basic scientific methods employed by a mind that possesses common sense. Take a definition and test it by moving the scale, by exploring extremes, by finding similarities and differences.
Either a complex computer program that successfully pretends to be a real human being is self-conscious, then a fly is self-conscious, too. Or neither is.

By the way, I used another term that adds to the confusion: Sometimes “conscious” becomes “self-conscious”. That’s when the idea is that consciousness means that you are aware of your own existence. Well, let me ask you, does not a computer check for its installed hardware and is aware of and using its components unless it notices that a component isn’t there anymore? Isn’t a computer program able to tell you when it has accomplished a given task?
And don’t you know the human-like quirks and moods that computer systems can practice the more complex they get?
Those merely inherit the complexities of human behavior and character. A more elaborate canvas can attain a more accurate imprint of such human personality characteristics.

This problem complex is where science becomes the antithesis of enlightenment. Where it is merely a safe haven for those who are scared of moving towards a balance of mind and heart.

A closely related folly is treating “intelligence” as a yes-or-no question. Alan Turing wasn’t above that either. But we could evolve instead of continuously referring to people of the past. Ideas like “the negro is a sub-human” have been abolished because of a lobby and action. Computers and programs don’t have that lobby; can’t take action. They can’t punch you in the face. They rely solely on the conveying of ideas and concepts by their human peers, and conceptual beliefs are the problem, so they’re really screwed.
It all boils down to the same process as in how an entity is acknowledged as a sovereign nation: It has to be able to kick an agressor’s ass; only then will it be ‘recognized’.

It’s all damn politics.

Google web fonts: Another example of corporations making everything worse

Many web fonts don’t use hinting, thus look awful without ClearType or at least regular font smoothing.
An eventual fix of this in browsers was to activate font smoothing in the browser for all web fonts. This is a relatively good solution that came way too late, and the fact that Google’s own Chrome browser had this problem for a long time is facepalm-material, but nothing unexpected from a corporation too successful for everybody’s good.

For some reason, this problem occured only recently to me. I don’t know whether more and more websites are using web fonts as of late or whether something in the available range of fonts was changed, but ever since a few weeks ago when Google’s own sites started looking horrible (font name “Roboto”, which led me to talk about a web ro(t)botomy), more and more other websites showed the same problem. I also recently installed the joke font “Sans Bullshit Sans” in my system and now various websites are defaulting to that font. What the hell are web designers doing?!

I hate this for-mobile trend (because it very much has the smell of it) as much as the for-console trend in gaming. Is anybody surprised about the PC master race thing becoming popular if anything non-PC is getting worse and worse?

BTW probably the first occurence of ugly web fonts was when Valve changed the menu title font to an ugly one.

What are my options now? I intentionally don’t use font smoothing in Windows because I don’t like my computer UI to look like printed pages of text, and even less so ClearType because it looks awful with its chromatic aberration.
Update to a newer (than 30) Firefox version? No way in hell am I doing that just in hope that the issue has been fixed now while risking to render half of my (sadly very necessary) browser addons non-functional.

I tried a browser addon “Anti-Aliasing Tuner”, but it only alters rendering and alters anti-aliasing but doesn’t set when to use it and when not. If I activate smoothing with it, everything in Firefox will be smoothed; the whole UI.

It is really sad, because this whole thing isn’t necessary. Either browser developers should have reacted a long time ago or there shouldn’t be fonts that don’t utilize hinting for things like popular web application. It’s just the typical focusing on default settings for people who swallow everything as it comes, not someone who might disable font smoothing because it makes text unnecessarily ‘fuzzy’.
In my opinion there never should have been fonts used this way that absolutely rely on smoothing to look alright.

Also, if you install a web font in your system and use it in a word processor, you get the same horrible results. The print is good, but the display is horrible. I don’t know whether the for-print process applies smoothing automatically; not an expert in that. But fonts should simply be displayed properly without absolutely requiring post-processing. On principle, but practically speaking definitely not before devices are compatible (i.e. browsers applying good smoothing on web fonts).

For reference, this article has a comparison picture to show you how ugly some popular web fonts are natively:
http://www.dev-metal.com/fix-ugly-font-rendering-google-chrome/
Actually, it’s a mild case. Google’s Roboto looks much worse still. This posting has another example linked: http://ask.metafilter.com/249265/Google-Web-Fonts-are-rendering-horribly-on-my-Firefox-Chrome-browsers
What you might notice there is that a hinting-less font with smoothing still looks worse than an unsmoothed font that uses hinting, because the IE version shown in the picture still has those deviations of line thickness and such. It’s the original ugliness of the font merely paved over a little.