Word Crimes – “Weird Al” Yankovic

Oh, look! There’s a new “Weird Al” Yankovic video out! It’s about grammar! Hooray!

I’ve been listening to Weird Al’s new album, Mandatory Fun, all day today. It’s great, and some of the best stuff he’s released in a while. You should totally buy it right now on iTunes or at Amazon or wherever else you buy your music, like a record store(?).1

  1. Of course, if you buy it from either of those links, you’ll also be financially supporting my burrito habit, so that’d be super-awesome of you, too. 


Crumbs, a specialty cupcake shop, closed down yesterday according to USAToday.

“Regrettably Crumbs has been forced to cease operations and is immediately attending to the dislocation of its devoted employees while it evaluates its limited remaining options,” Crumbs told the Journal in a statement.

The Crumbs in my local mall opened up almost two years ago — for a few months, it was pretty busy, but lately it looked like they would have had to bring people in at gunpoint. Shame, too… They were awesome cupcakes.1

So what’s going to be the next dessert item we’re going to have shoved in our faces at every corner? Personally, I’m hoping for pie. I do love me some pie.

  1. In fact, I’d say the awesomeness of their cupcakes is inversely proportional to how crappy it was that they closed up shop the same day that they announced they were closing, apparently giving their employees just about no notice that they were going to be unemployed at day’s end. 

“New York Times” Selling Author

Hear me out on this one:

  1. I used to work in a pharmacy.
  2. At that pharmacy, I would occasionally ring people up for things. Newspapers, for instance.
  3. Those newspapers included The New York Daily News, Newsday, and The New York Times.1
  4. I write stuff; therefore, I am an “author”.
  5. I am thus qualified to introduce myself as “New York Times Selling Author eD! Thomas” in perpetuity.
  6. Profit(?)

It’s not the weakest logic-train I’ve ever boarded, so I think I’m going to run with it.

  1. We also carried The New York Post, the Weekly Reader of New York newspapers. 

The Keynote We Needed: WWDC 2014

WWDC 2014 Invite

As you’re likely aware, Apple held their annual keynote at their World-Wide Developer Conference, 1 during which they announced updates to OS X and iOS, all of which look rad and I’m super-excited for. 2 The most important part of the keynote, however, wasn’t any of the announcements that they made, but in the way they made them.

If you’ve followed Apple like I have, 3 you’d have likely noticed that the post-Jobs Apple hasn’t been exactly lighting barns on fire with their keynotes. That is not to say that Apple hasn’t announced awesome new products, of course… It’s more that the presentations have come off as uneasy, hesitant, and just generally awkward, not unlike a kid at an 8th grade dance who is trying desperately to figure out how dancing with someone else is supposed to work. 4 It wasn’t particularly pretty, and it certainly didn’t help put the narrative that Apple was a sinking ship 5 and had “lost its cool”, whatever the hell that means.

This keynote, as you may have guessed, was different: Tim Cook, Craig Federighi and everyone else from Apple that took the stage seemed confident. One could categorize the jokes that were being made as “playful”, even though I wouldn’t because that word creeps me out when not associated with puppies or kittens. It felt lighter, more self-assured, and would be best recapped by a GIF of Cook and Federighi walking away from an exploding helicopter while sunglasses fall from the sky, landing smoothly on their heads, while dropping microphones. 6

So what changed? Did the announcement of the acquisition of Beats Electronics, and associated hiring of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, add enough charisma to Cupertino that Apple couldn’t help but be more self-confident? Did they get drunk before coming on stage? Was it that they were surrounded by over 6000 Apple developers, which means they were clearly in a space filled with people who have livelihoods that are dependent on Apple’s survival?

It could be just about any of those things — I mean, except for the drunk one (probably) — but I have another theory. One that, much like the best theories, can never be disproved and, since I’m about as qualified as any financial analyst to comment on Apple’s mind state, I’m going to go for it: This was actually the first post-Jobs keynote.

“But wait,” you may be thinking, “didn’t Jobs leave Apple (and, subsequently, the entire planet) in 2011?” And you’d be right; this is not the first keynote where Apple was without Jobs physically being there. However, it was always said that Jobs and company had the product pipeline and updates planned out for anywhere from three to five years — which, if you do the math, would mean that Jobs had a hand in everything coming up to 2014 at the earliest.

I think the first sign that we were really in a post-Jobs Apple was the release of iOS 7 at WWDC 2013 — it was a huge departure from what iOS had been up to that point and the first release since Jony Ive, who had only been the hardware designer at Apple to that point, had taken control of software design. The other product announced there, though, was OS X Mavericks which, while an improvement, wasn’t much of a change (design-wise, anyway) from what we have had for the past few years.

But look at OS X Yosemite’s design versus OS X Maverick’s design — the following picture, which I found on Reddit, shows the docks of the two operating systems, and you can’t possibly mistake one for the other.

OS X Mavericks vs. OS X Yosemite
The docks from OS X Mavericks (top) and OS X Yosemite (bottom). By the_Ex_Lurker on Reddit.

It goes far beyond simple design, however — take, for instance, iCloud Drive. Jobs was pretty fixated on eliminating the file system that users had (for the most part) become accustomed to in iOS, and it was pretty clear that he wanted to bring that to OS X eventually as well. This was why programs could only access the folders they created when using iCloud and not access any file the program could possibly open 7: it streamlined the file system, albeit to the detriment of being able to move out of a program or edit things in multiple programs or any one of a number of use-cases, all of which drove me nuts.

On Monday, though, Apple announced iCloud Drive, which will allow you to not only see the files that a program saves in iCloud, but to open them on your computer or in additional programs. Furthermore, you can save other files to iCloud Drive as well, making it more comparable to Dropbox in functionality. Even crazier? iCloud Drive will be accessible on OS X and Windows, which I honestly didn’t see coming. There’s a list of additional changes that are coming that I could bore you to death with to support my thesis, but I’m not going to because I don’t want to cause the tens of people who read this site to fall asleep spontaneously.

This, to me, leads to what could be the largest, if not explicitly spoken, thing that was announced at WWDC: the new Apple. A confident, charming, playful 8 company that knows it’s got some great products coming, and more awesomeness that we don’t even know about yet in the pipeline. And that excites me to no end.

  1. Known as “WWDC” from here on out, since that’s what it’s known as already, anyway. 
  2. My only disappointment was their lack of any time machine announcements… Not the OS X backup system, mind you, but an actual time machine that could bring me directly to the fall so that I could get all the new shiny stuff right freakin’ now
  3. Although I certainly hope you have not and, instead, actually lived your life in a manner you feel is personally fulfilling. 
  4. Or me at any wedding I happen to go to. Either/or. 
  5. Despite having the majority of profits in both PCs and mobile devices, releasing products that every other tech company is trying to copy, blah-blah-blah. 
  6. I do not have such GIF-making abilities, however, so that’s not going to happen here. 
  7. Okay, yes, there were security issues and other things related to iOS sandboxing as well, but let’s ignore that for sake of this argument, huh? 
  8. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go vomit all over the place now. 

Don’t Be Google

Don't Be Google

I once took a sketch comedy writing course at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York. In the week we were looking at news-based sketches, the teacher mentioned that everyone should get themselves a subscription to USAToday, because if it’s mentioned there, chances are that it’s broad enough that just about everyone would be able to get the joke.

If I needed to point out a topical comic strip that likely had the same broad-spectrum readership that USAToday had, it’d probably be Doonesbury. And Doonesbury making fun of Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” mantra is not a particularly great sign for how Google’s brand is generally seen.

From Doonesbury via Daring Fireball