Son of yesterday

Posted on December 19th, 2009 6 great comments. Room for one more!

At the company party last week, a fairly new employee (a superfluous fourth nipple of a teenager, the son of the third nipple, my supervisor), asked me, “Why would anyone want to learn to program Flash?”,  or something to that effect. The “why would anyone” part stuck with me as a particularly brazen thing to say coming from a kid who doesn’t know an object from a pointer. That’s programmer lingo for he’s wet behind the ears, the little shit.

And as I told him, I grew tired of all the low-level nonsense that his pop still likes to muck around in. It’s unseemly. I mean, I’ve done it too – every good programmer should rip apart their computer in every which way. But I put aside childish things when I decided to actually get some work done. Seriously, it’s like going back to the frickin’ Stone Age.

I like Flash because there’s a big creative aspect to it – half of the software is geared specifically for drawing and animation. Programming is fun, don’t get me wrong, but staring at computer instructions all day kinda sucks. It’s nice to work in a  piece of software where I can also draw a doodle of the CTO, animate it in some obscene way, add programming to it for interactive fun, and email it to friendly coworkers. And it all looks like legitimate work.

But the reason I brought all of this up wasn’t to go over my portfolio. This situation jumped to mind while I was strolling home and listening to Spark, a CBC Radio podcast about technology. That Zune that you see in the TCL header has a number of ultra-geeked-out podcasts on regular rotation but Spark stands out from the crowd; it looks at the human implications of gadgets and websites rather than the gadgets and websites themselves.

The episode I was listening to, for example, was going into detail about how to operate the iPhone (curse Apple!), with gloved hands. The touch-screen requires human flesh (not my word), to maintain a certain level of conductivity – to operate the phone, in other words. Gloves act as insulators, so the iPhone’s a brick with winter gear on (Ha! I can operate my Windows Mobile phone with mitts and a toque!) In the episode they came up with the solution of sewing some conductive thread through the tips of the glove; not that it’ll affect me directly but it’s neat to see someone thinking about this. After all, in Canada it’s a genuine problem for half the year, and I don’t see Apple using their “genius” to solve the problem. I don’t like Apple.

Nora Young, Spark’s host, has that perfect mix of nerdy affinity and enthusiasm for what technology could be. In fact, all of the podcasts I listen to are done by folks why have genuine interest and enthusiasm in the subject matter, and the fact that some of them are learning as they go along makes the shows accessible. Plus, the topics are approached from an angle that most in the industry wouldn’t think to consider. The third and fourth nipples sure wouldn’t.

Obviously, creativity counts for a lot with me. So when I found the advertisement for Wind Mobile on King Street, I was impressed:

wind mobile, statue, advertisement, king street west, construction, bell lightbox building, toronto, city, life

Yes, the ad is the statue. Already intriguing, no? I stooped over to read the plaque, took a few pictures, even had a brief conversation with a passing girl who happened to be editing a video for some Wind Mobile spot – talk about effective advertising! The thing that really struck me was that this particular campaign doesn’t rely on flashing lights and loud noises, it just stands politely to the side and invites your attention. Well.

Unfortunately, Wind needs a new copywriter – the statue idea is absolutely brilliant but the plaque makes an unkind insinuation:

wind mobile, statue, advertisement, king street west, construction, bell lightbox building, toronto, city, life

It reads:

The statue commemorates Flippy, Mr Ideas, FlowerGal and the thousands of other Canadians who rose up against an unresponsive mobile industry. It was upon the immortal thoughts of this community – who made proclamations like, “No contracts… do this and I will be your customer forever,” and, “it would be nice to NOT have limits” – that a movement was born. Their brave ideas gave rise to the dialogue which gave rise to Wind Mobile – the first wireless company to be led by the people and a testament to the truth that conversations always make things better.

the power of conversation

The insinuation is that I will be Wind’s bitch if only they would do away with contracts. Not likely. Plus, if I don’t like contracts, I’m probably not going to commit to “forever”. But their putting statues on street corners (there’s another at University and Richmond), if nothing else, indicates a level of creativity that’s lacking in the older carriers. Here’s how Rogers tries to snag my business:

rogers, advertisement, pamphlet, toronto, city, life

Granted this is for the cable TV and internet packages that Rogers offers, but it’s still pretty pathetic. A sad kid and a teddy bear — “We miss you”; I can’t imagine giving less of a toss. And while it’s rare that I buy something without going deep into technical specs, I consider a company’s advertising campaign to be a part of that specification. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the company or its products are currently any good, but at least they’re thinking (or at least willing to think), differently. Many companies claim to do this but few actually do.

Asking why anyone would want to learn to program in Flash is basically the same as asking why anyone would want to broaden their horizons. It’s kinda sad to hear a student ask that question, and especially in a mocking way. He’ll end up at the Rogers of the world, hopelessly out-of-date  before he even graduates, and the real world doesn’t take kindly to inflexible youngsters. I know I won’t, the little shit.

6 Comments on “ Son of yesterday ”

  • Kato
    December 20th, 2009 11:32 am

    Great post. I like people like you, who think outside the box.

    I enjoyed this one a lot!

    Read more from Kato at:
  • Patrick
    December 21st, 2009 8:01 am

    Thanks, Kato. I know it sounds cliche, but I truly enjoy writing just as much.

  • Inge'
    December 20th, 2009 12:40 pm

    It seems as though advertisers are losing their originality here in the US. Two separate mobile phone companies are using basically the same ad. I know they are playing off each other in the "We do this and they don't" format. But, like you, I appreciate some creativity and originality.

    Want my attention? Use your brain for something other than a place to hold your hat.

    I am going to have to recommend your links to my techy friends I am sure they will enjoy them.

    Merry Christmas!

    Read more from Inge' at:
  • Patrick
    December 21st, 2009 8:02 am

    Exactly, Inge! I've had it up to my neckline with people talking out their ass. Put your money where your mouth is and do it. Talk is sooooo cheap.

  • Man Over Board
    December 20th, 2009 1:02 pm

    I enjoy your blog greatly, especially your writing style and the natural shots of your city. I really like the night snaps better. Your camera settings bring out the feel of being there more realistic then the day time pictures. Of course this is just my opinion. Have a great :present: holiday, Glenn

    Read more from Man Over Board at:
  • Patrick
    December 21st, 2009 8:07 am

    Thanks, Glenn. It's probably not the camera settings but the way I mangle the photos in Photoshop afterward. It's great to hear your feedback and, heck, the fact that you enjoy roughly 50% of what I do is 50% more than I could've hoped for. So thank you :) Happy holidays to you too!

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