Postmodern creativity. [Weekly Head Voices #37]

Post summary: Review humour, WhatsApp, SPA3102 gadget, hiking boots, happiness in the blue zones.

So there are people on the internets who have chosen as their creative outlet the writing of superbly entertaining fictitious reviews of real products on real e-commerce sites. See for example this customer review of a tub of uranium ore that was once available on Amazon:

You used to be able to buy uranium ore on amazon. You can still read the awesome reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Images-SI-Inc-Uranium-Ore/dp/B000796XXM/

I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty. — reviewer Patrick J. McGovern

For more examples, please do see this article on Cracked.com. What a fantastic creative medium! One day, when I grow up, I too shall spend time honing my review writing skills.

Because I’ve just realised that this post was never going to be more than a mishmash of odd but hopefully interesting tidbits, I shall now switch to bullet-list mode:

  • I’ve slowly started developing principles against sending texts (SMS), purely because I think the telephone companies are charging way too much for these 160 character micro-messages. Even if you do have a great big SMS bundle, usually when you text overseas, you still get whacked. WhatsApp does a pretty good job at being a texting substitute: It runs in the background on Nokia, Android, iPhone or Blackberry smartphones, and allows one to send and receive unlimited SMS-like messages via one’s dataplan to other WhatsApp users. Just like texting, it only requires telephone numbers, so directly after installation, one sees a list of all one’s WhatsApp-running contacts (from the phone’s database). Big advantage over for example BlackBerry BBM (ping) is that WhatsApp runs on many more telephones. In short: Try it, you might like it!
  • On the theme of sticking it to the man (and when I say “man” I mean “telephone company”), I recently acquired a Cisco SPA3102 Voice Gateway (used to be Sipura, then Linksys). It’s a tiny little box that sits in-between your broadband connection (ADSL or cable modem) and house telephone and, if configured correctly, routes all telephone calls via SIP (voice-over-ip) providers. In short: Seriously cheap phone calls via internet, telephone company never even sees you and hence can’t really bill you. The only problem is that this little box has the most complex configuration interface I’ve ever seen. There must be at least a few hundred configuration settings, and if you get any one of them wrong, your phone system simply stops working. I’ve written up what you need to know at my Even Nerdier Blog.
  • What’s the deal with hiking boots and engineers? Hiking boots are great for hiking, but wearing them to work (or far worse, to a social event) must be the most extreme way of showing your asymptotic support of function over form. I have to admit that I myself have sinned before, but usually I have a good excuse, such as that storm outside. There are some people however (and the matching hiking boots worn by in-love engineers / nerds are the absolute worst) that don’t seem to understand that form and function do need to be in some form of balance for the world to function and for me to maintain my non-nauseous state.
  • It is important to note that Timberland boots strike this balance just perfectly, as you can see below:
This is what form and function look like when they're in perfect balance.

To conclude this post, I’d like to summarise a lifehacker summary of Dan Buettner’s book on the factors that play a role in the happiness of people living in the world’s “blue zones” (countries / regions where people live long and contented lives): 1. work less, 2. keep your commute as short as possible, 3. have regular vacations, 4. socialise with your colleagues and finally, 5. make sure you work for a good boss.

No big surprises there, but sometimes it’s nice being reminded of the stuff we should never have forgotten in the first place.

9 thoughts on “Postmodern creativity. [Weekly Head Voices #37]”

  1. @Hugo:

    What is working too little? Not earning enough to survive, that’s probably too little. But above the comfortable-salary line, it gets quite fuzzy.

    I guess the tension between one’s happiness due to working less, and one’s future happiness due to ambition being rewarded complicates things quite much. I do think that most of us err on the side of working too hard, but when making the choices for ourselves and when subconsciously judging others.

  2. I have a Sipura SPA-3000 that is a few years old now. After setting it up once I have never changed a setting, for the exact reasons you point out. The dial plan is the enemy!

    Tried to fax over yours yet? (Don’t ask why)

    Did you know that you can set it up so that you can make an international call via VOIP from your mobile by phoning your Sipura. This was the g33k reason I bought one, but never implemented it.

    1. You’re such a geek! (RESPEC!)

      I haven’t tried faxing. I know about the phoning your own house and dialling through. I’m scared of trying either of these though… :)

    1. “Cats” (the non suede version) were near standard foot attire in the latter 20th century (early 21st) among male Stellenbosch students and those of similar demographic. The “Bronx” were a cheaper version of the _branded_ “Cats”. Caterpillar vs Timberland: Same thing really? (though I haven’t owned a pair of Timberlands) Currently, I am a big Merrell fan.

  3. Sad that threading also gets so confusing with this Buzz interoperability. You can also completely disable comments on buzz, a way to force people wanting to comment to come here. Makes the most sense given what you prefer?

    1. Eek sorry, I’m lying: I’ve seen “comments disabled” before, but that was probably due to Google Reader Shared Items settings. I just tried to disable comments on my imports-into-buzz and saw that I couldn’t. Bad assumptions on my part. (Bad that my assumptions don’t hold true!)

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