Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Inadvertent writing research

I visited the optician this evening for a two-yearly check up. As I suspected, my near vision is steadily going downhill (along with most of my physique). It’s that little thing called age.

On the plus side, my eyes - apart from the overall loss of shape - are in very good health. So I have an extremely healthy pair of eyes that can’t see a lot. Oh well.

But I digress.

Reaching that conclusion involved eye drops to dilate the pupils, and a lengthy examination staring into bright lights.

Very bright lights.

Painfully bright, in fact.

To distract myself from this torture, during which I completely forgot which was left and which was right when it came to following instructions, I thought about the technology in Tiamat’s Nest, and in particular the kind of nasty tricks hackers play on each other in that world.

This not-too-distant-future story includes implants that delivery fully immersive virtual reality through direct stimulation of visual and auditory centres. The implants are equipped with safety limits that stop any damaging stimuli, but hackers can override the implants and over-stimulate nerves to the point of inflicting permanent damage.

Several times in the story, there are examples of painful attacks of sound and vision, but I’ve always worried that they come across as a bit tame. After all, it’s only loud sounds and bright lights, right?

But picture staring into something as bright as the sun, and not being able to shut it out! Closing your eyes or turning your head does nothing because the sensations are being fed straight into your brain.

My experience this evening persuaded me that even safe exposures can be painful, so maybe it isn’t so wimpy after all.

Have you ever managed to conduct some writing research without even realizing it?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Advertising irony

Increasingly intrusive advertising may well go down in history as one of the greatest blights of the technological age.

Who honestly enjoys telemarketers and robocalls interrupting quality family time? Have you never dropped what you were in the middle of doing and rushed to the phone, no matter how inconvenient it might be because you were expecting an important call, only to be offered a “free” cruise?

Am I the only one to find many websites becoming nigh-on unusable due to pop-ups and overlays and auto-playing videos? It’s no longer enough to have adverts in the banners and sidebars. People have the temerity to ignore them, so they find ever more ingenious ways to force themselves into your vision and hearing, and many no longer have buttons to dismiss or pause them.

And have you ever wondered how much time websites these days spend downloading advertising compared with actual content? I wonder how long it will be before someone takes an advertiser to court for stealing their bandwidth by dumping unsolicited crap on them?

Yes, you may have guessed that I hate advertising in all its forms, which may be why I’m so stunningly bad at marketing.

And as far as I’m concerned, there is such a thing as bad publicity because any advert that makes it past my filters generally triggers a mental note never to do business with that company if I can possibly avoid it.

Which is why what happened on my way to work this morning was quite remarkable.

We are fortunate that highways where I live are mercifully free of commercial hoardings, except for one brief stretch of a few hundred meters that I drive through on my way to work.

Up ahead, a sign caught my eye ... but in a good way.

It was advertising the annual Greek Fest in Victoria, that only last weekend Ali and I had been talking about.

For once, I was ready to pay attention.

For once, and I can’t honestly remember when - if ever - this last happened, I wanted to read the advert. When is it taking place? Are tickets on sale yet? There must be dates up there but it’s still too far off to read properly.

But my curiosity went unfulfilled.

Before I got close enough to read, the electronic billboard switched over ... to advertise the advertising company that owned the sign.

Yes, they had a willing customer approaching and they chose that moment to advertise themselves at the expense of their paying client.

How ironic is that?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Thought for the day

As long as you start off with sufficient credibility ...
You can inspire whole nations with powerful and resonant  
"I will do"s

Witness the moon race in the 60s

But ...
you only earn lasting respect with meaningful  
"I have done"s

What have you done today to make a difference in your world?

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