Instagramery Part Two

Six months ago I lamented that I couldn't get into the Instagram account I created back in the day. My requests for assistance fell on deaf ears and I considered the account gone altogether.

I received an email from Instagram support this weekend. Account unlocked. Six. Months. After. Asking. Ace!

Of course the reason I wanted it unlocked in the first place is now so six months ago. Moment gone and all that.

On Using Chrome

The only time I ever use Chrome is for multi-browser testing at $dayjob. For reasons I can only describe as 'never really sat well with me' I've tended to avoid it. Articles such as this one about breaking ad tracking extensions aren't likely to change my mind any time soon.

Or as jwz eloquently puts it.

Sure, run a web browser developed by the world's largest advertising company.

What could go wrong.

On Instagram

John Gruber commenting on the Techcrunch 'Instagram caught selling ads to follower buying services' report.

At the time Facebook acquired Instagram, Instagram was by far the nicest social media experience I’d seen. It is now quickly descending into a cesspool of crap — bad design, bad experience, way too many ads, and a haven for scammers. I fully expected Facebook to Facebook-ify Instagram, but it’s sad watching it happen.

While I'm not on Instagram myself, my wife is, and I do hear her complain almost daily about it. I'm not sure if she's more annoyed with the ads or the algorithmic timeline? Last night she went to show me a photo our nephew posted only to somehow lose the picture? Instagram had literally reshuffled her timeline in the space of a click back. Madness.

Instagramery

About a hundred thousand years ago I created an Instagram account.  Never used it and it's been collecting dust ever since.  For a project I'm starting I need to have working Instagram credentials.  Easy right, just use that old account?

A quick round of "forgot my password, please send me the reset link via email" later and I'm all set.

Except now Instagram has detected 'suspicious activity' on my account.  Ok.  They need to send me a verification code.  Sure.  I mean you did just send me a reset password email, and I did click the link.  But I guess a second email to the same email address?  Just to be sure sure?

And then nothing.  Not a peep. No verification code.  No nothing.  Sending additional verification codes also does nothing.

A spot of light googling indicates my account likely locked and to go fill out a form to explain things.  Which I did 3 days ago.  And I've heard nothing.

So that's all been awesome and fun.  What a wonderful user experience you got yourselves there.

Update Aug 22 2018: still radio silence from Instagram.  All hope of retrieving that old account lost.  Time to move on.

On Machines Sounding Human

Did you happen to see Google's on-stage demo of Google Assistant making a phone call the other day?

Others I've spoken to thought it was the coolest thing ever. I'm not so sure, I was a little unnerved by it to be honest. Was kinda creepy.

Bridget Carey wrote something a little stronger

I am genuinely bothered and disturbed at how morally wrong it is for the Google Assistant voice to act like a human and deceive other humans on the other line of a phone call, using upspeek and other quirks of language. "Hi um, do you have anything available on uh May 3?"

If Google created a way for a machine to sound so much like a human that now we can't tell what is real and what is fake, we need to have a talk about ethics and when it's right for a human to know when they are speaking to a robot.

In this age of disinformation, where people don't know what's fake news… how do you know what to believe if you can't even trust your ears with now Google Assistant calling businesses and posing as a human? That means any dialogue can be spoofed by a machine and you can't tell.

This might be the future we're heading towards. But I don't really like it. I realize I just became my own Grandad we didn't need computers in my day. But this just doesn't feel right to me. And I'm a software developer and do this for a living.

But then I'm a closet Luddite and still turn on my house lights with a switch. Like some animal.

last.fm Allowing Track Level Corrections

One of my peeves that you don't care about, is how Spotify 'helpfully' changes the track title on songs.

In my old age there's apparently no limit to my OCD when it comes to my music library. When I did "files in iTunes" like an animal, I carefully curated all the metadata and it was a music library of fucking amazement. My last.fm listening history stats bore that out.

Then I started streaming music like all the kids and it's been mostly fantastic. Trying to explain to Kevin Spencer aged 18 that this little black piece of glass in my hand has access to the entire world's music collection would result in utter disbelief.

But I digress.

So yeah, Spotify like to mostly add things like "Remastered 2014 Version" to song titles. Which I detest. Or as is the case with Tears For Fears' The Hurting album, rename Pale Shelter to "Pale Shelter – 2nd Single Version". Because reasons.

Good lord man, why do you even care?

Any last.fm'er will tell you that because the song title is different, it will be counted as a completely different song. And lo over the course of my streaming life, no end of tracks have been miscounted. And I has a sad. And other last.fm'ers on the forums also have sads about this. We've been teased about "fixes" forthcoming and when I asked again about that plan, got an answer I liked.

last.fm will implement a fix

This will be best fixed with adding new track-level scrobble corrections, once that's implemented later in the year. It looks bad now because we can't make changes the corrections dataset until the new scrobble db is deployed, but once we're able to add new track corrections / redirections to the site, this problem should be greatly reduced.

And I has a happy. I like happy.

Let's Talk About The Last Jedi

When you read a post that begins with a "let me just say that I'm a lifelong Star Wars fan…" it usually means that what comes next isn't necessarily complimentary. So I'll get that out of the way now. Let me just say I'm a lifelong Star Wars fan, I have toys in my office, t-shirts, books, you name it.

What J. J. Abrams did with The Force Awakens proved a good Star Wars movie could be made this century. I was so worried it was going to be a let down but came out of the theater grinning from ear to ear. I literally wanted to shake his hand for making a movie that tickled my Star Wars brain. When Rogue One came out I was blown away by the possibilities for movies with new characters set in the Star Wars universe. It was like a Star Wars renaissance.

In the years since The Force Awakens I had unknowingly set myself up for disappointment. I started making episode 8 in my own head. Abrams had setup a lot in TFA and I just couldn't help myself play those things out in my mind. I don't think its wrong to have done that. But where I went astray is how I went into the movie.

Expectations, they're a thing.

So, right off the bat, let me just say that I thought some of the decisions Rian Johnson made were bold and admirable. I didn't mind the throwing away of a light side and dark side of the force. Burn down the Jedi. Ok, I dig it, let's do that. Anyone can be force sensitive. Sure, I'm in. I didn't mind that angle at all. I just don't think Johnson ticks my boxes for making a Star Wars film like Abrams did. And here's where my conflict begins.

Because there were beautiful moments. Some of the individual scenes were utterly amazing. I could watch the Snoke throne room scene 100 times a day. Lovely stuff. And seeing Luke and Yoda on screen together once again, my inner 10 year old was squealing. But a rambling plot with clumsy writing made the whole thing feel disjointed to me. It's like Johnson had a glimpse of a vision of where he wanted it to go, but wasn't very successful in getting it there.

There was an awful lot going on in this movie. With a lot of characters. It's unreasonable to think that we could have enough time with all of them. And yet I did. I expected much more Luke/Rey time than we got. I expected more Snoke time. More Phasma time. Honestly why even introduce them at all if you're going to do nothing with them? In the case of Phasma, what an opportunity to have a female baddie play a big part. But no, a couple lines and she's out.

The casino sub plot interspersed with the space chase really took me out of the moment. There's so many of the Finn/Rose scenes that should have ended on the cutting room floor. Why spend time on that plot when other character arcs got so little time? The sole redeeming thing about the space chase was the lightspeed kamikaze run. But the back and forth between casino & fleet scenes just didn't sit well with me. Oh and awkwardly shot Mary Poppins flying Leia scene was a thing.

I didn't like how Johnson handled Luke either. Not the jaded cynicism, I get that. But muddled writing. He came to the island to die. But totally made a map for others to find him? And the guy who crossed the galaxy to find good in the evil Darth Vader wanted to murder Ben Solo? After Abrams' epic shot of Rey handing the lightsaber to him at the end of TFA, Johnson decides on a sitcom toss over the shoulder. But Hamill was excellent and gave Luke a decent send off. Raising the X-Wing and flying to the base to actually fight might have been more interesting than remotely using the force to death?

Friends have suggested I watch the movie again without expectations. It's telling that I almost don't want to. What Abrams now does with episode 9 will be interesting. Two bookends either side of an awkward middle perhaps?

Let's Talk About That Headphone Jack

Remember Apple's "courage" when the headphone jack was removed in the iPhone 7? Such an old legacy port had no business being in such a new piece of technology we were told. The future lies with the lightning port. And if you have expensive headphones already, a dongle. Which you'll never lose nor forget to bring with you.

Fast forward slightly.

The new Macbook Pro came out. And it had …wait for it… a headphone jack.

Fast forward slightly.

The new iMac Pro became available on Apple's website. And it has …wait for it… a headphone jack.

So I'm not sure where "courage" really fits in here. Is it "courage" by having inconsistent support across devices and thinking that's ok? Or is it "courage" to bet the farm on users buying additional dongles?