Discussing software, the web, politics, sexuality and the unending supply of human stupidity.

Getting a train to Brighton: a user experience review

This morning, I’m travelling from London to Brighton. That shouldn’t be too hard. Go to Victoria, buy a ticket, get on train.

I get to Victoria station and try to use a ticket machine to buy a ticket. I just want a standard open return to Brighton. The ticket machine doesn’t list Brighton as a destination, so I have to type the destination in using the ‘Stations A-Z’ panel. One letter at a time.

The touchscreen sits and waits about 15 seconds before it registers any touch event. And thus someone who writes both code and natural language for a living is now rendered unable to type text in. The screen misregisters the tap on the wrong letter, then misregisters the backspace command. Eventually, I get to ‘BR’. It is filtering a list of every train station in the country. I’m standing at a ticket machine at the entrance to a platform where there is a train waiting to go to Brighton and it is prioritising tickets to Bracknell and Bradford and Brampton and Brentford and Bridgend over the train to Brighton that’s right in front of me.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Eventually, I pluck out ‘BRIGH’ on Satan’s very own touchscreen keyboard and finally ‘Brighton’ appears. Success, right?

I tap on Brighton. Now I just need to select the ticket type. Up come about 100 different variants of ‘day single’ and ‘day return’. I don’t want a day single or a day return, I want an open return. Where the fuck is the open return?

I give it up as a bad job and go over to the lady at the ticket counter.

“Open return to Brighton with a railcard—fumble fumble—yep, Network Railcard.”

“We don’t sell returns to Brighton.”

Apparently, you can’t buy a return ticket to Brighton. Because it’s too early in the morning to buy a return ticket to Brighton. Apparently, nobody seems to have ever planned for the eventuality that someone might want to leave London before 7am to go to Brighton and then want to come back the next day.

I asked if there was any particular reason I couldn’t just buy a normal return ticket. The attendant repeated to me the fact that you couldn’t buy a return ticket.

I’m sure there’s a reason one cannot buy a return ticket to Brighton. It’s probably written in some dead language and lost in some remote village in Palestine, a cross between the Dead Sea Scrolls and a Franz Kafka novel. The train was going in four minutes. Enquiry has practical limitations, and the current practical limitation was the desire to plop my posterior down on a train seat and get the fuck out of London ASAP.

“So, Brighton. Now. Coming back tomorrow. How?”

The answer: two single tickets. One to Brighton, one coming back.

Receipt printed 06:44, train departed 06:45. Just made it.

Why the fuck is such a simple thing like buying a railway ticket from one city to another at a mainline railway station so unbelievably complicated and terrible?

I’ve been trying Lightroom as preparation for Aperture’s oncoming demise. It’s truly one of the most horrendously unintuitive pieces of software Adobe has ever created.

In the past week, it has:

  • destroyed about 300 of my photos without warning to the point where I had to use disk recovery software to undelete them from the SD card
  • confused the living shit out of me for no good reason numerous times
  • produced JPEGs that look a lot worse than the ones my camera produces (to be fair, that’s because the X-Pro produces fucking beautiful JPEGs)
  • sat there for hours not syncing photos to Creative Cloud

And with one less competitor—thanks Apple!1—Adobe have even less motivation to make Lightroom usable. I hate software.

  1. I’m sure the Instagram selfie crowd will buy a lot of Mac Pros and RetinaBooks.

Lenstag is a very useful service: it’s a registry for photographic gear—cameras, lenses, video gear—where you can register what you own. If it gets stolen, you can report it and the serial numbers get published to prevent resale, and to enable it to be delivered back to the rightful owner.

There’s an app for iOS and Android so you can easily photograph your gear with your phone.

Exorcism is coming back.

Remember: Pope Francis is a nice, liberal reformist. He’s reforming the Church back to the middle ages.

When the teenager being exorcised of his gay demons looks up at the priests looming over him performing their voodoo psychodrama, he can think “good thing we have a nice liberal reformist pope making everything better!”

Put Him in Bucca may be my new favourite thing: a now-discontinued Iraqi TV show where fake bombs are placed in the cars of celebrities who are then stopped by a military checkpoint in on the gag who then threaten to arrest them for terrorism.

You know how the Queen is a constitutional figurehead rather than a political player? Well, you don’t know it because it isn’t true.

Some democracy we have here.

I still can’t help but find the Metropolitan Police’s slogan “Total Policing” amazingly creepy.

Good judgment

One of the things people look for in romantic partners is good judgment.

Here’s how to demonstrate it.

After being dumped for not being able to pay for cinema tickets on a date, seethe about it for seven years, then spend $40,000 buying out a whole cinema.

That kind of good judgment will ensure that this gentleman will never ever lack partners in the future.

Redefining words is wrong except when it isn't

Want to see something stupid? Of course you do.

Well, I can always find stupid. Here’s N.T. Wright thoroughly Godwinning the topic of same-sex marriage.

Wright is considered a big deal in theological circles: a very intelligent and perceptive theologian loved across ideological and denominational lines. And here he is peddling an absolutely terrible argument.

  1. Same-sex marriage is redefining words.
  2. The Soviet Union redefined words.
  3. The Soviet Union is baaaaad.
  4. Therefore, same-sex marriage is wrong.

The whole process of writing law is partly one of defining and redefining words. Theft means something. Then we find a bunch of weird edge cases and the language is confusing and unhelpful, so some nice lawyer rewrites it all. Ideally, we move in a more wise and sensible direction.

In 1990, in the case of R v R, the definition of rape changed so that a man forcibly having sex with his wife against her consent became rape. Being married no longer meant the law could assume consent. It turns out this is a good thing. I wonder if Bishop Wright thinks this kind of redefinition is bad. And if he doesn’t, whether he has a principled reason why the judges in R v R redefining rape is fine but the legislature redefining marriage in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act is wrong. I’m guessing the answer will take the form of special pleading and Jesus, as it always does.

If seeing people rip into him about it is your bag, there’s plenty to read.

Pope Tinker Bell turns out to be against feminism

Pope Francis thinks things about feminism.

What I would like to add is that feminism, as a unique philosophy, does not do any favors to those that it claims to represent, for it puts women on the level of a vindictive battle, and a woman is much more than that. The feminist campaign of the ’20s achieved what it wanted and it is over, but a constant feminist philosophy does not give women the dignity that they deserve. As a caricature, I would say that it runs the risk of becoming chauvinism with skirts.

Funny, because I thought feminism did things like fight for more equal access to jobs and education, and to help victims of rape and domestic violence and give people sexual autonomy to sleep with whoever they want to and plenty of other awesome nice things.

This is the guy everyone thinks is a progressive. He opposes abortion, opposes gay marriage, thinks feminism “does not give women the dignity they deserve”… but to the true believers in Tinker Bell, nothing as boring as evidence will change their mind. This is religion after all.