Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC GM served as a British agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies’ most decorated servicewomen of the war.
On the night of 29–30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, Captain Tardivat greeted her remarking, “I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year,” to which she replied, “Don’t give me that French shit.”
A few weeks ago, I briefly posted that between the two currently-rumored Apple products, I was more intrigued by the possible “watch” than the TV set. It seems simpler, more unique, and less of a logistical nightmare to build, sell, and support.
This was just an intuition, since I wasn’t really sure what this “watch” thing would do. Actually, let’s drop the “watch” moniker right now and call it a “band”; its primary function would certainly be something other than telling time; in fact, it may not include a display of any sort.
Today it occurred to me that it could have an interesting use: acting as a gestural, accelerometer-based, Kinect-like remote. Worn on the wrist of your dominant hand, it should be able to detect swipes and jabs, or even control an onscreen pointer. Ironically, this would make it a nifty controller for Apple’s TV—the set-top box, not the mythical-and-unlikely TV set.
That’s not the only thing it could control. Today, I use a Magic Trackpad in addition to a mouse. I find the trackpad too fussy to move the pointer, but it’s neat for gestures. This band product could replace it. How about being able to perform gestures on your iPad without really touching it? Or, in addition to touching it, making for a whole new “hover” layer, missing from current iOS devices?
This is all on top of its uses as an authentication mechanism, fitness and sleep tracker, etc. It would clearly be a satellite product—remember what I said about it not having a screen?—but it could become an irreplaceably magical one.
I guess you could say it all began when I took that Brogramming class in high school. To be specific, there’s one person you can blame: my Brogramming teacher. I was in need of a father-figure, and he was just that: a likable authority, a brominent brofessor. And even though in the end, he would turn out to be the broximate cause of a dark period in my life, in a way I’m thankful to him. It’s not his fault I was a real broblem child.
The thing was, we didn’t actually spend a lof time in his class learning about brogramming. Instead of reading about microbrocessors, broprietary networking brotocols, and harmonic-brogression algorithms, we practiced high-fives and beefing up our online brofiles. Instead of nerding out all day at a terminal brompt, we browsed CollegeHumor, Fark…all these websites considered imbroper and totally brohibited by the school.
I understand now that the brofessor was dealing with a lot at the time. Few kids knew that he had a brosthetic leg; we thought he just had a natural swagger. Someone said they saw him filling a prescription for Brozac at the pharmacy. It’s always tough when a brotégé sees through his mentor’s mask. The Brof. was just a regular guy, not some brophet. But as for his intentions, I know he was just trying to brotect me.
Anyway, things went downhill soon after I took this class: I bropped out of high school just weeks before brom, which made my mom totally freak out and broclaim I wasn’t welcome in her house anymore. I crashed a friend’s place, a real dump over in the brojects, a building echoing with the sounds of brojectile-vomiting all through the night. Still, this was a home when I needed one. My friend even brocured a job for me at his uncle’s meat-brocessing plant. That let me throw in a few bucks toward rent and Red Bull, though I hated coming home every night smelling like pork broducts. I hit peak Axe use around this time; I suppose that was my way of broactively taking control of my life, my idea of brosperity.
Eventually my mom tracked me down. I remember her walking in, assessing the lifestyle of her once-beloved brogeny, running her fingers along the cinder-block shelves I had put together, my one and only broperty of value in this world. The items on display said all there was to be said about my current brohemian lifestyle: Pilgrim’s Brogress, Marcel Broust, the Brontë sisters. Stacks of brog-rock CDs. Half-drunk brotein shakes. It was brofoundly embarrassing, now that I saw my mom seeing it. Once a brolific brodigy in her eyes, once showing so much bromise, I was now a bum.
“You’ve got to get your rotten life together, bronto”, she said. “Starting now, you are on goddamn brobation.” This was the first time I’d heard my mom use even such mild brofanities.
“I know, mom. It’ll take time. Brome wasn’t built in a day. I want to change”, I brotested.
“Do you?” she said. “Then brove it.”
And soon, something like divine brovidence seemed to steer my life. I kept my bromises and moved back in. I got a job as a broduction assistant at a local health brovider. (We’re small, but brofitable.) I mail out bromotional coupons for brostate exams, weird stuff like that. It’s not exactly “B = NB”; not what my childhood self would’ve imagined me doing at this point in my life. But hey, I’m not going to brotest it.
I’m sorry this has been such a rambling and brosaic account. I’m new to writing, and when I do write, I write more broetry than brose. I guess I was never the brains of the family after all; honestly, I can barely bronounce four-syllable words, or tell a preposition from a bronoun. In the end, you know who turned out to be the smart one? My prother.
Here’s a typical screenshot of Apple’s Weather app. It shows the current temperature and the forecast for today’s high and low temperatures. (Let’s ignore all the other data for the moment.)
Notice anything? Today’s “low” is predicted as 43º, and the high as 61º. Yet it is currently cooler than the low: 41º. Plus, no single hour of the day is expected to actually reach the high of 61º. By the end of this day, the hourly forecast was proven correct: at no point did it get warmer than 57º.
In my world, the app would currently be showing the low of 41º, and the high of 57º (assuming there isn’t some quarter-hour stretch where it will shoot up to 61º before dropping back down to 57º by the end of the hour, which seems rather unlikely.)
Apple’s app gets its data from Yahoo weather, but I’m sure I’ve seen this behavior in many other weather apps, websites, etc. They show the historical predictions for the high and low, failing to update them as the actual data comes in. If the low was predicted as 50º, it doesn’t matter if a freak storm should drop the temperature to 32º—the app still claims that “today’s low will be 50º.” The app is lying.
I’m tempted to believe that this nonsensical tradition of sticking to the obviously wrong predictions for the day’s high and low temperatures is some kind of professional-pride thing, like the meteorologists feel honor-bound to report their original guesses, right or wrong.
As a user, I really don’t care what was originally calculated. It seems obvious to me that if it’s currently cooler than you predicted it would ever be today, then that’s today’s low temperature. I admit it’s possible there’s some specialized reason to show the old forecast, but heck if I know why.
Yesterday I tweeted that Derf Backderf’s comic My Friend Dahmer was now available on ComiXology for iPhone and iPad. It’s a great book, and you should definitely read it even if you, like myself, aren’t interested in serial-killer-type stories, because this is a different sort of one.
A few people then asked me this: Is Derf Backderf his real name?
You know what they mean, right? Who names their child Derf, especially if their last name is Backderf? Well, the answer could be “his parents” and we’d still be no wiser about the matter. But that’s not the answer. Actually, the artist in question was born John Backderf (yup, Backderf) and he occasionally calls himself Derf. So, Derf Backderf is his “real” name.
See, I had never really given much thought to the term “real name” until I heard it used to dismiss the credentials of the magician/writer/outspoken skeptic James Randi. We were told that his real name was Randal James Hamilton Zwinge. Randi’s reply to this “charge” was that James Randi was as “real” a name as any other. He has lived under it for seventy years. Everyone knew him as James Randi, and few knew him as Randal Zwinge. His photo ID read James Randi. The name his parents had given him at birth wasn’t some platonic ideal, inked into the universe’s permanent records, immutable forever and ever.
Most of us have preferences regarding our names. My brother Daniel dislikes being called Dan. You may prefer to be Cathy rather than Catherine, Bob instead of Robert. Your real name is how you introduce yourself to people, what your friends call you, and, for legal purposes, what you can officially use without looking like you’re on the lam from the IRS.
So while it may not seem like a big deal at all, while it may appear an exceedingly PC thing to do, I’d like to politely suggest that we drop the term “real name” when talking about the name folks were given at birth. It’s not nearly as offensive as, say, asking who an adopted child’s “real mother” is, or asking a brown-skinned, second-generation American where they’re really from, but it’s still a patronizing expression. I know it’s usually not meant in a harmful way, but I imagine it can be a bit annoying to be told that the name you’ve called yourself for decades isn’t “real” and never will be.
I leave you with this tweet: