[ Update, 5 months later: I was right and I knew it. The verdict is in and business websites are reporting that Microsoft’s “Surface” tablet isn’t selling. Even the obnoxious TV adverts which air at an ear-splitting decibel, showing college kids prancing around and writhing in the air while snapping and unsnapping their goofy “Surfaces” can’t save this hi-tech flop. But I knew that the first minute I laid eyes on the comically unnecessary “Surface” last fall. ]
Earlier I had written:
When I saw the new TV advert for “Surface” I fell about laughing myself silly. It just goes to show you: sometimes the most clever new idea on the block is an old idea which never went out of style.
Good design is always characterized by it’s timelessness. It will outlast decades, fads, fashion transformations and often return again years into the future to become the new “vogue” that it was in it’s original heyday. All fashion designers know this. That’s why many times what you see on the runway as the “next big thing” is a retro re-hash of what was vogue once upon a time in the 1940s, 50s or 60s.
Microsoft’s new tablet “Surface” looks tragically similar to what you might get if a good solid laptop and a an Ipad got together, had sex, and had a hybrid baby. The idea for the “Surface” is not new, nor is it particularly clever. The object has to have a third appendage to hold it up as a make-believe laptop, as the keyboard section is not heavy enough to do it alone. It’s never good design when the newer model is a mangled re-working of the original with more working parts and less aesthetic appeal. At first glance, the “Surface” looks like exactly what it is, a pretend laptop which dis-assembles into a tablet. The clunky third piece on the back which holds it all up is kind of sad looking. Peeking into the historical archives of Microsoft you will find they have tinkered with a “tablet” computing machine design since as early as 1991. The “tablet” idea is not new. But for Microsoft, it is rather late in arriving.
The “retro computing movement” has apparently finally come around to some of the fundamental design issues of personal computing. Anyway that you look at the Microsoft Surface, it’s an attempt to wed the carefree coolness and youth of a tablet with the more practical working credentials of a classic computing laptop, proving of course that laptops never went “out of style” in the first place. No one wants to admit this but you can’t really improve much on the design basics of the most practical portable computing device ever invented: the laptop.
I’m sounding off on all of this as a writer. I’ve been both an artist and a writer all my life, and a news blogger for at least five years. I spend a few hours every other day at least, working at my laptop.
I’ve used a laptop, in one form or another, to ply my trade online, for 18 years or more. Before the internet was invented, writers used typewriters of course [ remember typewriters?] and we even used an archaic little vial of super blue-white goo known as “White-Out” to erase our mistakes. A keyboard was not laid out on a one dimensional flat plane on the typewriter, but rows of keys sat in little tiers, one just above the next. WPM [“words per minute” ] mattered to office managers and company owners. It was the era of the written human word as it existed BEFORE the internet: B.I.
When computers began appearing in every American home in the late 1980s and early 1990s the early era computer keyboard continued to look a little bit like the old tiered typewriter keyboards, as most early first and second generation home computers were either little Macintosh affairs or PC towers which came with a separate keyboard, attached to the hard drive with a cable. These keyboards had a little tabs on the bottom that you could use to raise the surface to a slight angle, so that skilled typists could still reach keys at a similar angle to the keyboards that they had used on typewriters for decades before computers were around. [ Naturally I am writing this post with those in mind who are old enough to recall “life before the internet” in comparison to “life after the internet” – and I am fully aware that on WP that may be a rather small minority of readers. ]
The next evolution of the keyboard came with the exploding popularity of laptops, the beloved portable little computing machines which were conveniently sized flat hinged rectangles which opened up into a practical arrangement of computer screen at the top facing the viewer and keyboard as the flat foundation holding the whole thing together, the “lap” part of the “top”. Even the name made perfect sense as it described this new modern electronic object much better than the word “computer,” which could be a word used to describe anything or anyone which can mentally calculate and ‘compute’.
As design pragmatics goes, the laptop will never go out of style as the most utilitarian design for any portable machine used for looking at a computer screen and typing while you do that. Laptops just make sense. The entire arrangement snaps shut into one solid object which one can drop into a briefcase or a backpack and take along with to record life as it happens at the office, at home, at the library, wherever you need to stop sit, plug in [ or not, using an extended battery and wifi ] and start typing.
What never made sense to me about tablets was the non-existent tactile experience of typing and feeling the keys give to record the character. Typing has always made a little sound. Writers are familiar with that sound, the soft tapping of characters on a real [ not virtual ] keyboard. It’s the sound of one human being communicating his or her thoughts to another one. It’s a sound that has been around in one way or another since the invention of keyboards. Using a tablet to type or compose an essay is awkward, clunky, oddly noiseless and for me it has discouraged writing rather than encouraged it. If I had to depend on a tablet to do what I do, I would eventually lose interest in writing. Or I’d just go back to linen paper, a good ink pen and classic longhand.
If I wanted to play and goof off all day online I would carry along a tablet. But if I want to get any real work done, I cannot be without my real and genuine laptop. I don’t want a “faux” make-believe laptop, that snaps together like a Leggo.
So Microsoft, the inventor of the operating system that put the personal computing experience into the offices and homes of 80% of the world’s computer users 30 years ago, has attempted to re-invent the laptop again in late 2012.
Why? Why go to all this trouble to call the object something new and different, when the original object it imitates is still around, still works great, has more varying design makes and models than any car brand out there, and really can’t be improved upon? There are real laptops out there. And now we will have “faux” Microsoft laptops which will be called a “Surface.”
It’s silly. No, really, it’s just silly.
Here’s my theory: Microsoft has fallen into mediocrity in the mega-earnings department in recent years, as Apple’s Ipods, Ipads, Iphones, and I-everythings has blanketed the world in “Appleness”. For the company to remain viable in coming decades they have needed to come out with their own brand of MUST-HAVE personal computing gadgets. It’s nothing more than fashion really. Maybe they have been embarrassed by Apple’s supersonic success with I-products. Why wouldn’t they be? Maybe Apple’s success now threatens the future existence of Microsoft. I’m sure that it does. Maybe it’s just the “green with envy” problem. But for whatever reasons, Microsoft has aired the most screaming up and down, hopping delighted, look-at-me look-at-me TV advert in recent memory for a rather sad and unimaginative laptop knock-off which they have named their new “Surface”.
What goes around comes around. And around. And around.
- Microsoft reveals Surface price (pcpro.co.uk)
- Microsoft tablet Surface to start at $499 (local10.com)
- Microsoft Surface RT’s magnetic power adapter shows up online (wpcentral.com)
- Surface tablet pre-ordering starts now at $499; ships Oct. 26 (nbcnews.com)
- Microsoft Surface: The Price Is Out but Mysteries Remain (techland.time.com)
- Microsoft Surface Price Leaked (forbes.com)
- How to choose a Windows 8 tablet that is right for you (zdnet.com)
How dark does it get in the murky world of media, marketing and TV adverts? It doesn’t get much darker than the TV advertising for Lady Gaga’s new perfume “Fame.” The magazine ads are just as off-putting. But then again I’m not particularly a fan of Luciferic imagery and Satanic looking magazine adverts. Hey – that’s just me and I am well aware I swim against the tide of pop culture’s current descent into the glorification of all depravity. The world might really want to go there, but I don’t – and I won’t.
I tried to watch the lurid TV spot advertising Gaga’s fragrance “Fame” while composing this post, but frankly I became uncomfortable with the imagery just a few seconds into it and just clicked it off. My personal emotional response to the boiling black images was a resounding “No!” If the promotions for the fragrance were literally designed to repel, repulse, and put consumers off the new fragrance entirely, then the agency which produced this spot did a bang-up fabulous job. Well done. You managed to completely gross me out in about 10 seconds. Hope that gets you an Addy Award.
But wait, it gets worse, much much worse. The popular alternative news reporting site The Intel Hub has posted a very disturbing report about the actual components for the fragrance, which read like a virtual cauldron list of documented medieval witchcraft potion ingredients. You just can’t make this stuff up, huh?
It’s long been speculated among alternative news reporters that the Mother Monster is some sort of global spokes-priestess for the Illuminati elites, and the horrific imagery in many of her music videos reinforces this claim. So it would not surprise this author if Gaga and her new world media machine along with Haus Laboratories in Paris had concocted a perfume with ingredients repulsive enough to be considered by the witchcraft community of the world as an actual legitimate potion for inducing sex magick. Wow. So theoretically, if you wanted to initiate about 6 million clueless Gaga devotees into the dark arts without their knowledge, this would sure be one way to do it.
And who labels a perfume bottle “black fluid”? Do you want your “Gaga intoxicated” little girl or tween to wear a fragrance labelled “black fluid”? The fluid turns clear when exposed to air. Gee, that’s magical. In fact, that’s a little bit TOO magical for my tastes.
“Fame” is the first black perfume ever made in the world and was produced by Coty. The formula turns invisible once it touches air and was described by Gaga as the scent of “blood and semen.”
For the corporate high science of mass merchandising, Lady Gaga is a money making machine on acid not seen since the bygone days of Elvis. Any time your fans take to YouTube to post their own reviews of your product BEFORE it’s released to the masses, you are automatically giving every ad executive who worked on the marketing campaign a multiple orgasm of joy. The first two videos below show the TV adverts replete in all their pop horror, the last two are a pretty good example of the dozens of YT videos posted by Gaga fans who breathlessly reviewed the new fragrance.
Personally, I would never dare allow my own child or a niece, or anyone in my family to wear a perfume which allegedly contains Atropa Belladonna [ Google it – it’s a deadly poison, a toxic hallucinogenic also know as Deadly Nightshade ], extract of human male semen, and [ really??] human blood. Atropa Belladonna is also known by the slang name “Devil’s Cherries.”
How many millions of dumb Gaga consumers are buying this garbage? Apparently way too many. The fragrance is selling like bullion. It ‘s all just a little too sickening. I’m sorry, but I don’t happen to be training any of the youngsters in my family circle to become little witches. And I would not want them to be wearing a fragrance made from an ingredient which is also known as “Devils’ Cherries.”
There’s a really terrific way to express your disgust with this fragrance offering. Just don’t buy the product and don’t allow your young or tween girls to buy it either. This may come too late for unknowing mothers too busy keeping the bills paid to realize why their little tween is whirling in her bedroom like a dervish to Gaga songs and smelling very very strange these days. Trick or treat.
More about Atropa Belladonna:
Related articles and video:
- Lady GaGa sells 6m bottles of ‘Fame’ in a week? (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Lady Gaga – ‘fame’ Is Slutty: Lady Gaga’s Bizarre New Perfume, Launched (contactmusic.com)
- Lady Gaga’s Fragrance Inspired Shoes: See The Pics (hollywoodlife.com)
- Naked German Monk Likely a Victim of Hallucinogenic Berries (livescience.com)