Currently Making my Life Hell…

Imagine, if you will, that you’re a mechanic. Not the world’s greatest mechanic by any means, but a decent mechanic who earns a decent wage fixing and tuning cars and trucks.

One day you get a call from someone wanting you to come out and tune up their car. So you hop in your van and drive out to their address. On arrival however you discover that it’s not a car.

It’s this….

Helicarrier
Image from comicvine.com

Before you have time to react, the Captain whacks a hat on your head, says “Welcome aboard! You’re our new Head Engineer!” and drags you down to the engine room.

Which looks like this…

Engine Room
Image by Bodvar Eggertsson

Mistaking your look of horror for one of mere concern, the captain says “Don’t worry, the manuals are right here…”

Manuals
Image by _sgj_

You pick up one of the decaying books at random and open it. Every single page looks like this…

Instructions
Image by Damian Cugley

The Captain continues “All set? Your tools are over there…”

Tools
Image by Benchilada

“…and we think the forward port engine is about to fall off. Have fun!”

Through strenuous effort (and a lot of desperate banging on random pipes) you manage to keep the ship in the air. You even manage to accommodate some of the crew’s requests, such as restoring the air conditioning and halting the gradual detachment of the starboard mess hall. Buoyed by your apparent competence the crew send in a flood of new requests for things such as hot tubs and mood lighting, some of which you can manage and many of which you have to ignore.

Making matters worse, through all of this the Captain insists on a weekly meeting at Airship HQ in Zurich. Once a week you have to fly to Zurich and sit in a small room staring at a list of requests and upgrades. After about an hour the meeting is declared a success and you fly back to the airship to continue banging on pipes.

You find yourself entertaining thoughts of sabotaging the engines, or at least ignoring the more desperate maintenance tasks so the ship will fall out of the sky and (as long as you survive) you won’t have to deal with it any more. But your professionalism wins through, you take a deep breath and get on with tightening a valve that you think will correct the water pressure on deck three. Maybe.

Hellish

Satan Built My Website

Deville’s Pad may be a fantastically cool venue, but their website is hellish.

Graphics optimised for a white background on black, horribly compressed maps and menus (to the point of near illegibility) and completely built in Flash so you can’t select/copy any of the text or open anything in a new tab.

It’s horrible. I don’t know what they paid for it but whatever it was they got badly ripped off.

(By the way, the design is great – it’s the implementation that’s jaw-droppingly bad).

I Shouldn’t Laugh…

Oh the irony!

A client complains to us that when his site is viewed in Internet Explorer 6 the text on his homepage looks like “it was done by a child”.

The email informing us of this is in bright blue comic sans 😛

(By the way, the text looks awful in every browser because he’s gone wild with the CMS and made it a dozen different sizes and colours with underlines, bolding and italics everywhere. It just looks particularly bad in IE6 because of its problems with automatic line heights…)

Gossip

The seamy underbelly of the local web design scene…

Not naming any names here, but an apparently disgruntled employee (or possibly ex-employee – certainly an ex-employee once they figure out who it is) of a major local web design company has mailed copies of their entire client list to every other web design company in the city.

As we used to say in primary school – ooooo-ma!

Make Mine Music

Too much musical information.

Well it’s that time of year again, the voting has opened for the Triple J Hottest 100. Naturally I’ve jumped straight in and voted for my favourite 10 songs of the last year and shall present them here for the ridicule of all – but before I do I have to comment on the website they’ve thrown together to take the votes.

I ain’t impressed.

OK, I’ll qualify that. Overall the site is good, but it has a couple of critical bugs that made my voting a bit of a trial.

(For the record I’m using Firefox version 3.6.13)

Firstly, they appear to be using AJAX to add songs to the shortlist. This is fine – except they appear to be using the same XMLHttpRequest object each time you click a song, rather than spawning a new one.

What this means is that if you click to select a song, then click on another song before the result of the first click has been returned, the first click is effectively cancelled, and only the second song is added to the list. So you need to click, wait, click, wait, and so on, which kind of defeats the purpose of using AJAX in the first place.

The second bug is on the submission form you go to once your songs have been selected. I use an extension called CookieSafe to control the cookies on my machine. This allows me to block or modify cookies on a site-by-site basis. On the Triple J site I allow cookies, but have them all rewritten to be session only (ie: they evaporate when I close the browser).

Voting for the hottest 100 appears to require a long term cookie to be set – which is fair enough, I guess they’re using it to stop people voting multiple times. If this cookie is tampered with (or blocked) the form won’t submit. Also fair enough. But – what does the form tell you if this situation occurs?

It tells you that you haven’t filled out all of the fields.

Even when you have.

That’s bad. Really bad. An inappropriate error message is worse than no error message at all. I’m net savvy enough to figure out what’s going on and adjust my cookie settings appropriately, but plenty of other people aren’t, and could easily get so frustrated that they’d give up on voting altogether.

So, the ABC’s web department seriously needs to raise their game.

But, on to the fun stuff. The songs.

Whittling down my list to just 10 songs was a real challenge this year, especially once I realised that I was forgetting a bunch of really good tracks. But I laboured mightily and ended up with the following list, which I present in no particular order (apart from alphabetically by artist).

(Note: Helen and Ali, a bunch of these songs are on a mix-cd that shall shortly be winging your ways, so if you want to be surprised, stop reading – or at least clicking “play”- from this point on :))

The Bedroom Philosopher – Northcote (So Hungover)

The puntastic tale of a pretentious Emo riding around on the number 86 tram. I particularly like the concept of Sad Sanderson performing at the Fitzroy Anti-Social Club.

Cee Lo Green – Fuck You!

I don’t mind profanity in a song, as long as it serves a purpose. In this case the purpose is to form an integral part of a seamless, catchy, funky, brilliant motown track consummately performed by Mr Green. This is my confident tip for the number one spot. Those who find the lyrics offensive may prefer this bowdlerised version performed by the cast of Glee and (for some reason) Gwyneth Paltrow.

Chiddy Bang – The Opposite of Adults

A remix/reworking of MGMT’s Kids. And what a remix/reworking. Just as good as the original, although wildly different.

Grinderman – Palaces Of Montezuma

Ah, Nick Cave! Scary, growly Nick Cave who can make a song about JFK’s spinal cord sound like a visitation from the heavens. OK, it’s not exclusively about JFK’s spinal cord, but believe me, it’s in there, and it’s romantic as all get out.

Gypsy and the Cat – Jona Vark

Gypsy and the Cat were discovered by Triple J Unearthed, and you can just imagine them sitting around giggling saying “we’ll call our song Jona Vark, and everyone will think it’s Joan of Arc, and get all confused! Hurrah”. Normally this kind of tomfoolery would condemn one to a life of complete obscurity, but Gypsy and the Cat seemed to have made it work.

Kate Nash – Do Wah Doo

A few years ago I listed one of Kate Nash’s songs as the worst of the year. Possibly she heard about it, because she’s now come up with a 50’s inspired track that I’m totally in love with. It sounds like something put together by Phil Spector before he went mad and started killing people. Fantastic.

Marina and the Diamonds – Shampain

How to describe Shampain. Like falling into the pit of hell accompanied by a herd of rabid synthesizers? Perhaps, except that it’s awesome.

Philadelphia Grand Jury – Save Our Town

Some good, old fashioned Aussie rock/pop, without which no Hottest 100 list would be complete. Put your money down people!

Sia – Bring Night

Catchy and astronomically accurate! If you travel in the direction of your shadow the sun will go down a little sooner.

Yeasayer – Ambling Alp

A song about boxers from the 1930s. Or something. Certainly they get mentioned in there. I don’t really know, or really care, because it’s energetic, catchy, fun and puts the boot into fascists.

So that’s my ten. Here’s some others that only just missed out on making the cut…

So there we go. Roll on Australia Day!