Christmas, tech ranting, and Greyhound poop

It seems all I ever write anymore is rants about technology gone wrong. This won’t be any exception.

I’ve already ranted about how Facebook logs your search history and when you untag yourself (despite already making it really difficult to do so). This combined with the inability to actually see things you’re tagged in now (recent change?) means I’m once again contemplating deactivating Facebook. I would probably just leave it inactive until I need to contact someone, at which point I would pop on, grab the email address (or I guess send a message?) and deactivate again. Argh blargh why is Facebook so bad?

But the thing that has been bothering me lately is the new version of iTunes, especially since I took my personal laptop (running iTunes 11) for the holidays and was very unhappy with its interface.

Here is iTunes 10.

Along the left side, under “Library”, there are various filters for your library. You can view all of your music, shows, etc. You can also filter down by playlist, or things like recently added or recently played. You can sort the music in the usual way (clicking one of the named headers in the music view). This makes sense.

Here is new iTunes 11.

The sorting of your media type (music, shows, etc) has moved into a drop down, which is reasonable. However, all of the sorting options have moved into the top bar (but you can still sort the old way by selecting “Songs”), where they are somehow treated the same as playlists. These seem like fundamentally different things to me… sorting all files is different from filtering down on files via playlists. Apple, why did you do this? This non-intuitive sorting also means iTunes needs all sorts of special tricks like temporarily showing the playlist list when you start to drag a music file (so you can actually add it to a playlist).
There’s also a bunch of changes that don’t make any sense to me. Previously, shuffle/repeat were specific to a playlist. Now, it seems to be a global state. That means, for example, you can’t just click from a playlist (that was shuffled) back to your full library, since you’ll be shuffling songs in your full library as well. (This was useful when you purchased a new album and wanted to listen to it straight through, but your usual playlists shuffle.)
They have also, for some bizarre reason, decided to treat music in iCloud the same as local music. That is, in your library, you’ll see greyed-out music appear that indicates it’s not downloaded. Which would make some sense except it shows EVERY song in iCloud, even ones you have already downloaded, resulting in many being shown twice. (Yes, you can disable this functionality, but you have to unintuitively go to the “Store” tab in preferences.)

I guess this, in particular, bothers me because Apple is known for being extremely user-friendly. The changes to iTunes don’t seem to make much sense to me.

In any case, this has been 500 words of rant, so I should perhaps talk about nicer things.

I had a Christmas. It was nice. Greg got me a copy of the Wheel of Fortune expansion for Carcassonne. This is awesome since it means we’ll now have super Carcassonne with 15 meeples per person and close to twice the number of tiles (and, most importantly, a larger start tile that starts with 3 separate fields). Woo. He also got me a copy of Thurns and Taxis for my birthday, but let me open it early. Awesome game.

I also received an iTunes gift card that I used to buy some new iPad games. Plague, Inc is very similar to the Pandemic II flash game, and just as difficult. Cytus and Groove Coaster Zero are music games, which I generally like. Surviving High School and Cause of Death are “visual novel” type games, although SHS also has some minigames inside it.
I’ve also been playing Sake Visual’s visual novels since I had lots of free time over the last week. They’re really, really well done (even the free ones). Highly recommended.

Also received an Amazon gift card that I used on their $1.99 albums sale to pick up Red River Blue and Red. I actually haven’t listened to the latter yet, but if it’s anything like the singles she’s put out, I won’t like it. Seriously, why did Taylor Swift veer so sharply into pop? (“I Knew You Were Trouble” is closer to R&B than Country, but it’s definetly pop.)

As for getting home, the Greyhound yesterday was miserable. My bus was scheduled to leave at 12:10. We didn’t leave until after 3 when two buses came and went because they were full (with passengers from Cleveland). Seriously, Greyhound, you know how many tickets you’ve sold. Why is it so hard to get enough buses with enough capacity? The part that really bothers me is that their ticket explicitly states, “Seating is first-come, first-served. In case of insufficient seating capacity, passengers will be placed on succeeding schedules that have available seats.” So they don’t even have to take responsibility if they planned poorly and don’t have enough buses… they just have to push you to the next one (which might not and, in my case, didn’t have enough room).
Never again. I think I’d rather pay to fly home than deal with such a mess again. At least, with airlines, they have to compensate you if they bump you due to capacity (and they have ways to check whether your flight has been cancelled or delayed other than showing up at the airport and waiting).

Yay life. Yay games. Yay music. Boo Greyhound.

Edit: Facebook deactivated again. Good riddance. I really wish people still blogged or used email, because I dislike being unable to contact some people. But Facebook is not worth it.

New phone, new lens, same old Facebook

I still exist. Things have happened, but I’ve been less interested in writing about them and more interested in just doing them. However, my photojournal has been updated through today and photos has a couple new galleries, so you can hit them for all the details.

The last few days have involved new toys. Last Wednesday, work upgraded my old Blackberry (bleh) to an iPhone 5 (meh?). This was a decent thing, except I quickly found that the iPhone fails at its namesake… that is, it’s a pretty terrible phone. My first day of using it involved lots of “huh?” and “what?” comments from both ends of the conversation, whereas I’d never really had issues with my Blackberry. I suppose the iPhone is better for things like GPS (but not maps? well, at least it has maps…) and apps, but that’s not what I use my work phone for. Both of my primary usages of the phone (email, which was better with a physical keyboard, and the phone itself) have actually been downgraded. As such, that “upgrade” has been a large disappointment.

However, I was recently convinced by Greg to (finally) purchase the 35mm f/1.8 lens I’ve been wanting for several years. It arrived just before Thursday games, which gave it a perfect opportunity to be broken in, and it worked pretty awesomely (for low-light, indoor photography), and continued to be useful every day since (as there have been events every day since). In fact, since I took my first photo with the lens at 5 PM on Thursday, I have taken 1050 photos with it. It’s super fast, it’s super light, it’s wider angle than my 50mm f/1.8, and it’s also super quiet (since it’s a SWM lens).
My only real problem with is not an issue with the lens but with how I use my camera… I always shoot in single-area focus mode, and I tend to leave the selected area in the center and reframe rather than moving the focus point. As a result, when I’m shooting wide enough to get more than peoples’ faces, I tend to focus on the person’s torso rather than their face. Which worked fine with my old (f/3.5 and up) lenses, but fails with my f/1.8 lens since the depth of field is often too narrow to get their face and torso both in focus. (This wasn’t an issue with my 50mm f/1.8 because I can’t frame much more than someone’s face with it.)
So, overall, I’m extremely happy with my new lens. It literally has not left my camera since I first mounted it (even when I had taken my 18-200mm lens along as a backup).

Besides that, as I mentioned in my last post, I reactivated my Facebook account with the goal of using it as a contact directory (and not actually updating it or checking it), and it’s actually working out well for that purpose. However, in even the brief time I spend on it to click through to someone’s profile, I discovered that Facebook now logs (and shows in your history) every search you make (including click-throughs to profiles where applicable). On the one hand, I’m sure they kept this information before, so at least they’re showing it now. But on the other hand, WTF, guys. I’m tempted to once again deactivate my account, but instead I’ve been wiping all information from my wall (“Timeline”), removing all uploaded content, leaving all groups, and wiping my messages inbox. If I’m going to be forced to use you to be able to contact certain people, you’re going to get as little information as possible from me.

Anyway, boo walls of text, so here are some photos with my sexy new lens.

Edit: Okay, Facebook, what the hell?! It’s bad enough that it’s difficult to untag yourself (has to be from the activity log and not from the original post item), but you track when you untag yourself too?! I swear, you’re logging every single click I make *somewhere* and you’re going to regurgitate that information at some point in the worst way possible. :\
Also I can’t find any way to untag myself from recent tags (like in photo album descriptions).
Time to deactivate again? The creepiness of Facebook is seriously overwhelming its usefulness as a contact information directory for me.