Previous “Best Of” posts

Merry Whatevs

Merry Valentine's! Merry St. Patrick's Day! Merry Fourth of July!

Last year, I attended a delightful holiday party co-hosted by my friend Susie S. This party included a cinema light box with rearrangeable letters, the kind you’ve likely seen at some point in the past few years.

I decided to craft this message:

A sign reading 'Merry Whatevs'
Please note the use of the champagne emoji

This was an inclusive message, for any and all to be merry at the end of the year, regardless of what holidays one celebrates. I was thus quite surprised when it created a most ridiculous controversy, after Susie posted it to her Facebook page. As I have no desire to brew a further tempest in this teapot, I won’t link to the thread in question. However, I will share some choice quotes (all presented as they were posted, with typographical errors preserved).

  • [W]hy would you even repost something like this I respect your religion and I respect my religion

  • As a Christian, this is offensive. It’s not like we say “Merry Hanukkah, or Merry Kwanza”….no… we say “Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanza.” This is directly related to Christmas. And it is taking Christ out of Christmas 😞 please reconsider this as your cover photo. It is harboring negativity and anger in our country.

I was truly taken aback by these responses. Two different Christians seemed to feel they owned the word “merry”. That was really something to me. Frankly, it was terribly difficult to wrap my head around the idea of someone going through life so privileged, and so oblivious to that privilege, that they could believe someone using the word “merry” is offensive. And yet, there we were. There we all were.

Fortunately, many additional folks came in to defend this goofy thing which should have needed no defending.

  • This isn’t mentioning any religion at all. If anything I think it reads as “Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate.” by saying MerryWhatever.

  • I find it kind and inclusive and joyful. Merry is a word that belongs to everyone.

  • It’s lighthearted. Some of the people at the party don’t have religious affiliations, I’m sure. ” Merry” is not a Christian word. In fact in merry old England the phrase they’ve always used is “Happy Xmas” not “merry”.

  • If your faith is threatened by someone’s greeting, then you may need to reexamine your faith and/or religious choices.

  • Love this! I want one! Inclusive and also highlighting the exhaustion of the holiday season!

  • I think it’s cheerful and inclusive, and doubly that it’s a damn shame folks don’t take it in the obvious holiday spirit with which it was intended.

Despite what a few ridiculous blowhards have been spouting on television for years, there’s not actually a war on Christmas. However, I’m now starting a war for “Merry”. After this incident, I’ve determined to apply merry to everything I can. So Merry Hanukkah! Merry New Year! Merry Martin Luther King Day!

Merry Whatever, everyone!

Fun With a Gratuitous Photo Booth

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Las Vegas are strange and terrible, and this machine fits right in.

On a recent ramble through Las Vegas, I found myself in the surreal Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.1 This is apparently the highest grossing mall in America by sales per square foot, but the retail collection occupies a place of dread in my mind. Its dim lighting and second-story faux facades combine with the bizarrely sky-painted ceiling to warp reality in almost Daliesque fashion.

Photo of the Forum Shops mall
This is a deeply weird place to shop, or even just exist for an hour.
[Photo credit: Simon Property Group]

Are you inside? Are you outside? Would you like to dine inside inside at Trevi, the Italian restaurant next to a paltry attempt at a Romanesque fountain, or outside inside to really soak in the lack of sun beaming down through the “clouds”?

Naturally, this mall featured a photo booth placed outside of a meatball restaurant. While I did not eat at Carmine’s, upon noticing their contraption, I was more than willing to take advantage of it. It paid off in spades.

Photo of me using the machine
Perhaps in sympathy to their hosts, the Carmine’s sign lacks an apostrophe.2
[Photo credit: T. Arment]

As you can guess from the Facebook and Twitter logos seen on the front, this machine is intended to aid customers in spreading the word about the restaurant via social media. You can do it “for FREE!”, no less, which is surely the highest price anyone would pay for this. I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten a meal after which I felt the need to send a digital postcard to my friends, but to each their own.

Wanting to see just how strange this would be, I took a photo, then punched in my own email address to receive a copy. I thought it best not to subject anyone else to this exercise in stupidity and data collection. Though the on-screen keyboard malfunctioned repeatedly, I eventually convinced it to send my picture. My task complete, I stepped away so that literally no one else could use, or even notice, the machine. I pulled out my iPhone to check my email, but there was nothing. I checked my spam filters, but still, bupkis. Feeling defeated and not just a little claustrophobic, I decided to move on and out of the mall.

Several hours later, however, I received an email from myself. With the subject line “I’m at Carmine’s Vegas!”, it indicated that “a friend” had sent me a uPostcard.

Success! My photo had arrived, in glorious, 800×600, framed, PNG-not-JPG glory. Here it is:

My dumb face
This photograph accurately captures what it feels like to be at the Forum Shops.

As you can see, I have been dubbed a “Spaghetti fanatic”.3 Shockingly, despite the unrequested title I’ve had bestowed upon me, this postcard design actually isn’t awful. While it seems completely unrelated to the restaurant outside of which it sits, with a smiling face, better alignment, and a lack of derrieres in the background, it could at least produce an acceptable reproduction of being at the mall.

However, this is not actually what a recipient will see. Instead, when the emailed link is clicked, this is the hideous train wreck you’ll be shown.

A real train wreck of a design.

From the words being shoved in my mouth via a misaligned dialogue bubble to the sprinkle of social media droppings including the just-about-to-be-defunct Google+, it’s all stomach-churning. So it is that I can say this for Carmine’s: Whether you eat the food or just use their unnecessary photo booth, one way or another, you’re not going to leave hungry.


  1. No apostrophe, though there certainly should be one, ridiculous explanations aside. ↩︎

  2. The restaurant’s name is a possessive “Carmine’s”, and the horizontal signs include an apostrophe. ↩︎

  3. The business cards are due back from the printer any day now. ↩︎

I Believe Eliud Kipchoge Can Fly

I thought I ran pretty fast. No. Eliud Kipchoge is fast.

This past weekend, I ran my first organized race since breaking my foot back in May. I successfully avoided being bitten by a seagull, and also had a pretty good run. During the ~200 mile multi-person relay, I ran 3 separate legs, completing 19.11 miles in 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 58 seconds.

Pretty good, pretty good

As you can see, that works out to a pace of 6:54 per mile. After losing three entire months to my injury, I’d only been back to running for about six weeks, so I was pretty pleased with this. Then, however, I heard about Eliud Kipchoge’s weekend. At Saturday’s Berlin Marathon, the Kenyan distance runner set a new world record when he ran 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 1 minute, and 39 seconds.

Oh. Oh, I see.

Kipchoge ran over 7 miles farther than I did, and he did it in substantially less time. That’s ridiculous. Look at that pace! He ran a mile in 4:38, and then did it 25 more times after that, and then still ran another 2/10ths of a mile! The mind reels.

You probably know a 4:38 mile is fast, but just how fast is it? Well, it would require laps of just 70 seconds around a 400-meter track, which I don’t believe I could manage even once. It’s also 17.5 second 100-meter dashes, which I suspect is around the limit of what I could pull off a single time, at a full-on sprint. My most recent half-marathon placed me in the 98th percentile for speed in the world, yet even as fairly fast distance runner, I could only manage to sustain Kipchoge’s marathon pace for a handful of seconds. The chasm between elite distance runners and the rest of us is vast and humbling.

But even among the elites of the world, Kipchoge seems to be in a class by himself. Setting a new world record is a tremendous accomplishment, but Kipchoge actually managed to obliterate the old record in spectacular fashion. As a record time gets lower, it should naturally be harder to break, and it should be broken by smaller and smaller increments. Instead, Kipchoge’s time shattered the old marathon record by a full 78 seconds, the biggest drop by any man in over half a century. Vernon Loeb had a great Atlantic piece discussing the beauty of this run, which is well worth a read for what it says about human achievement. Eliud Kipchoge is a marvel. His performance shows us the incredible things humans are capable of, while simultaneously making me only just a little ashamed to label myself a “runner”.

But hey, at least both Eliud Kipchoge and I are both faster than Massachusetts traffic.

A traffic sign showing it'll take 78 minutes to drive 11 miles
That’s a pace of over 7 minutes per mile. In a car.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

Stop Being Sexist, Siri

This is bad, Apple.

Before the 2015-2016 season, women’s NCAA basketball games switched from two 20 minute halves to four 10 minute quarters. For two entire seasons, Siri was utterly oblivious to this fact. In 2018, the digital assistant finally seems to have been updated, no longer thinking every single game consists of two halves and two overtimes. That’s a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, there are still many improvements to be made. While attempting to check in on yesterday’s women’s NCAA championship game between Notre Dame and Mississippi State, I was confronted with this:

Screenshot showing a Notre Dame vs. Penn State game played on March 17th

I was initially flummoxed by this result, but with a bit of research I realized this was the men’s team’s last game of the season.1 It was played back in March, in the National Invitation Tournament, and it was also most decidedly not what I was looking for.

Look, men’s sports are undeniably more popular than women’s sports. Given that, if both the men’s and women’s teams were playing at the same time, it might be reasonable to default to the men’s game.2 This, however, is simply ridiculous. Rather than showing what is likely the single most popular women’s college event (the championship game of the women’s basketball tournament), Siri is instead showing a fifteen day old men’s game from the second-rate NIT.

It wasn’t a matter of ignorance, either, as Siri certainly was aware of the game. Once I asked specifically about the women’s contest, Siri had no trouble providing a detailed look, including a handy link to watch live:

Screenshot showing the correct game, after a more specific request

The obvious problem lies in the assumption that asking about a school means asking about the men’s sports teams, even if that team hasn’t played in over two weeks. The Notre Dame women’s team eventually overcame a double-digit deficit to win the game in thrilling fashion. They’re now national champions, yet Siri barely acknowledges they exist. Even now, asking for the “Notre Dame score” will lead Siri to tell you about a fairly meaningless loss, rather than the women’s dramatic comeback to win it all.

Be better than this, Apple.

Update (April 3rd, 2018): In a follow-up to this post, I tested other virtual assistants as well. For the most part, they did not fare well.


  1. Amusingly, this was not a double overtime game. After scratching my head at the box score, I realized they must have been playing quarters. Sure enough, the NCAA is experimenting with having the men play quarters as well. As a result, some men’s games are now affected by the same issue that plagued women’s games for two years. Testing of quarters began in the NIT last year, so by 2019, Apple might be aware of it. ↩︎

  2. Even then, a better option would be to clarify which game was desired. ↩︎

My Apple Dumbwatch

Back in 2015, I purchased an Apple Watch to replace both my previous analog watch and the latest in a string of fitness trackers. The watch’s activity tracking functionality has worked well for me.1 While I’ve always tried to keep fit, closing the rings for calories burned (“Move”), active minutes (“Exercise”), and standing (“Stand”) has provided added motivation each day. Earning badges for streaks and other achievements has provided a fun, if rather inane, incentive to be more active.

Early last month, the Apple Watch issued an “October Challenge”. This was an individually tailored goal, one which seemed to be based on recent activity. I screwed myself by spending the summer ramping up for a marathon, which led my watch to require that I hit 3,347 minutes of exercise in October to complete this challenge. An average of nearly 108 minutes of activity every single day for a month struck me as a bit much, even if it would earn me the electronic equivalent of a “A+ Patient” sticker from the pediatrician.

Despite the fact that my marathon training was nearly complete and I was tapering down my runs, I wasn’t smart enough to dismiss the challenge outright. I figured I’d see how things went throughout the month, knowing that my race was in mid-October, and that I had a half-marathon before that as well. Every few days I checked in on my progress with the Activity app on my phone, and each time I found that I wasn’t too far off the necessary pace. With some extra effort each day, it was actually possible I could meet the objective.

Even so, it wasn’t until the last few days of the month that it became clear that this ridiculous goal was attainable. It required me to get moving even more than I already was, but the weather looked nice, it was good for my health, and THE ANGRY WATCH GOD MUST BE APPEASED.

So it was that just before 6 PM on October 30th, I checked my phone and saw that I was only 155 minutes shy of the target. With a busy day planned for the 31st, I felt good enough to grab a screenshot to mark my progress.

A first screenshot showing 3192 minutes earned.
1804 minutes left in the month, but only 155 of them needed to be active.

The next day, I tracked the exercise counter on the watch itself as it climbed throughout my day of activity. I was going to make it, and I was foolishly pleased by this asinine little achievement. The device’s expectations for me had been stupidly aggressive, but I was going to enjoy showing an inanimate electronic device what was what. I knew that this would likely raise its expectations still higher for the next month, but that was November Paul’s problem.

However, in the late afternoon of the 31st, I made what seems to have been a key error in judgement. Specifically, I updated my phone to iOS 11.1 and my watch to WatchOS 4.1. I didn’t really think anything of this as I did it, though not for the first time I found myself annoyed by how long the watch took to update. Once it finally finished, I strapped the watch back on and went about my day.

By Halloween night, I had completed almost three hours of activity for the day, and I knew I was set. Just before 11 PM, I opened the Activity app on the phone to gaze upon my newly won badge for the first time. This is what I saw instead:

A later screenshot showing 3064 minutes earned.
29 hours later, I’d somehow lost time.

Well that’s…not right. That’s not even possible! How exactly did I manage to do negative 128 minutes of activity since the previous day? I quickly found myself in the first two stages of grief, denial (“What the hell?”) and anger (“What the hell!”).

With just 77 minutes left in the month, the watch now claimed I was almost 300 minutes short of the prescribed goal. Even if I literally ran out the rest of the month it wouldn’t change anything. As such, I quickly jumped to the last stage of grief, acceptance (“What the hell.”). I figured that if nothing else, this ought to lower the watch’s demands for the future.

I spent the dwindling minutes of October pondering what in the world had happened. The OS updates had likely affected things somehow, but had they changed the way past activity was calculated? I scanned through each day’s readings and punched the daily recorded activity into a quick spreadsheet. This was the result:

Spreadsheet showing a total of 3369 minutes
That just raises further questions!2

Ultimately, the problem here seems to be with the Apple Watch’s addition skills. That’s pretty bad, as proper math is rather essential for a usable computing device. Alternately, I suppose the problem could be that Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet application can’t do simple calculations. That would certainly be even more shocking. Perhaps the two products are even in some sort of cahoots, the exact nature of which I’ve yet to ascertain.

Either way, I’m trying to maintain a Zen attitude about this. The only thing stupider than spending an entire month overexerting myself to earn a meaningless digital badge would be getting upset when said badge is denied due to some sort of bug. All we are is dust in the wind, and all this is is pixels in the ether. Still, I do think it would be nice if my watch could count.

Update (November 2nd, 2017): It seems that yesterday afternoon, my watch finally got done performing a recount, and awarded me my badge. Read more here.


  1. One particularly nice thing is that the Apple Watch tracks calories burned directly, rather than the rather imperfect stand-in “steps” used by earlier trackers I’d tried. It was always clear that something was off when running five miles earned the same number of steps as walking about half as far. ↩︎

  2. The relevant video clip is archived here. ↩︎


It appears that when Apple ships iOS 9.1, iPhone users will have access to a key symbol of human communication. In a beta posted yesterday, Apple greatly expanded the number of supported emoji, including multiple new hand gestures. Of course, there’s one gesture that all have been waiting for, and it looks like we’ll be getting it at long last.

Apple's Middle Finger Emoji
Finally, it will be possible to flip someone off via emoji.

This new middle finger emoji was approved almost 15 months ago, as part of Unicode 7. However, Apple was slow to add it to their devices. After many impatient months, I went so far as to file a bug report with Apple on the matter. A few weeks later, however, that bug report was closed with a disappointed statement of “no plans to address this”. Worse, it soon became clear that Microsoft was taking the lead when it came to expressing one’s self via emoji. When this summer’s iOS 9 betas failed to include this important new glyph, I stewed for hours on end.

Today, however, I can breathe a sigh of relief.1 The bird is coming to our emoji. What a time to be alive! Have a look at a full gallery of the new emoji coming in iOS 9.1, which also include a taco, a burrito, an adorable little chipmunk, and much more. Then, sit through a few more weeks of anticipation until we finally get what we deserve!


  1. As well as rejoice in the fact that I actually got a Radar (bug report) fixed, something fellow developers will know is all too rare. ↩︎

Pretty Damned Good for Around a Thousand Pixels

Back in October, I wrote about Square Cash, my favorite service for both exchanging money with friends as well as being amused by the imagined negotiating process of a complete moron. Last year’s post provided me with a brief trickle of $1 referral bonuses, netting me something like $18, so naturally I’ve been itching for another chance to write about Square Cash. Square has since upped their referral bonus to $5 for both sides, so, ya know: Sign up for Square Cash and get yourself a Lincoln.1

Anyhow, the Square Cash iPhone app was recently updated to include support for the Apple Watch. Our glorious future truly has arrived, because it’s now possible to send money to your friends right from your wrist. Open the app and tap your desired recipient to see a screen like this:

The Apple Watch Square Cash app
“Select Amounts” is kind of a weird instruction.

To send cash, you tap the relevant bills to add up to the desired whole number (no change!) you wish to send, then tap “Pay”. Within seconds, and without any further verification or chance of cancelling, your money will be flying off to someone else’s bank account. As your money wings away, there’s even a ridiculous animated image of dollar bills fluttering down.

The Apple Watch Square Cash app
No matter how long you stare at this image, it won’t move, because it’s just a still. Feel free to cash $PBones to see the full animated version though.

I’ve previously written that you do not have to make an Apple Watch app. However, good third-party apps for the watch are certainly possible.2 The Square Cash watch app is definitely well made, and it offers functionality I’ll describe as at least potentially useful, which means it’s better than most Apple Watch apps to date. Perhaps the best thing the Square Cash Apple Watch app does, however, is advance the cause of gender equality.

Allow me to back up slightly. You may have seen a recent push to put Harriet Tubman on America’s $20 bill, fully replacing Andrew Jackson. Hey, according to this article, Old Hickory might not have minded the change:

[Jackson] also hated paper currency and vetoed the reauthorization of the Second Bank of the United States, a predecessor of the Federal Reserve.

This proposed change has also led to other women being considered for placement on American currency, and it appears that the next re-design of the $10 bill will at least provide Alexander Hamilton with a female co-star. That’s some progress, at least, but the idea of placing Harriet Tubman on the $20 has also laid bare some incredible stupidity. Take a deep breath and try to absorb this:

Jimmy's Stupid Comment
I think it’s the exclamation point that really gets me.

Oh jeez. I honestly try to avoid highlighting this sort of depressing idiocy. I figure it’s best to let it die quietly in the dark, rather than live and spread in the light. Some things are just so feebleminded that they must be skewered, however, and this is one of those things. So, how dumb are you, Jimmy Pecoul? Let me count the ways.

A list of the ways in which Jimmy Pecoul has shown off his ignorance, in increasing order of stupidity

  • Problem #1: Thinking that only presidents belong on our banknotes

    While this is wrong, I wouldn’t be surprised if a not-insignificant number of people believe this, and think that both Alexander Hamilton (on the $10 bill) and Benjamin Franklin (on the $100 bill) were presidents.

  • Problem #2: Mistaking Harriet Tubman for Rosa Parks

    These are two entirely different women, who are famous for their work winning progress in different areas (abolitionism for Harriet Tubman and civil rights activism for Rosa Parks), and who were active nearly a full century apart.

  • Problem #3: Having no understanding of what Rosa Parks did

    Rosa Parks did not “stand up to bullies on a bus”. Rosa Parks defied a despicable law and set off the Montgomery bus boycott, which helped bring about the end of segregation in America.

  • Stupidity #4: Thinking he’ll stop using $20 bills

    I like to imagine how this might go. Jimmy would have to avoid just about every ATM in America, for one thing. The interactions with cashiers, waiters, bartenders and the like ought to be something to see as well. I’d give him a week managing to boycott the bill, and that’s being generous.

  • Stupidity #5: Believing that “most” people will stop using the $20 bill

    I doubt even one person in the entire country would stop using yuppie singles if the picture on them changed from Jackson to Tubman. Most? MOST? Jesus Crist.

We’ll just ignore the incredibly foolish acts of posting this publicly to Facebook for the whole world to snigger at, as well as thinking anyone gives a single good goddamn what his “vote” is on this matter, because if we don’t my head might explode. Let’s get back to Harriet Tubman and Square Cash (Square Cash!). Have another look at the buttons for selecting the amount of money you wish to send:

The Apple Watch Square Cash app's buttons

Each button features a pretty good portrait of the corresponding man who appears on that denomination’s bill, but Andrew Jackson on the $20 doesn’t look quite right.

The face on Square Cash's $20 bill

Of course, that’s not Andrew Jackson at all — it’s Harriet Tubman! The image appears to be based on an 1895 portrait of Mrs. Tubman which is part of the collection of America’s National Portrait Gallery. Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Pixel Tubman and Photo Tubman, side by side

And here it is, blown up:

Enlarged Pixel Tubman and Photo Tubman, side by side
The pixel version has managed to turn that dour frown upside down.

Not bad! Lest you have any lingering doubt as to the true identity of this image, Square has confirmed that the image does indeed represent Tubman, with a spokesman stating “We put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill because she is an American hero”. Well done. It’s a small gesture, but it’s a good one nonetheless.

Update (August 20th, 2015): Square’s creative director Robert Anderson used his own accidental invention (the @-reply) to link me to a higher resolution version of the Tubman image. He also confirmed that the 1895 portrait seen above was indeed the inspiration for the cartoon version. Neat!

A higher-res $20 Tubman
A higher-res Tubman Twenty

Update (April 20th, 2016): Tubman’s gonna be all up in the club, man!


  1. The bill, not the McConaughey-endorsed vehicle. ↩︎

  2. I should note that the Apple Watch app from USAA has been updated since I mocked it in that post. Now, in addition to showing your account balance (and allowing you to refresh that account balance), the app will show any transactions from the last seven days. That’s actually mildly useful! ↩︎

Hamburglars I Have Known

Robble Robble!

When you think of McDonald’s, you likely think of Ronald McDonald. The bovine world’s least favorite clown undoubtedly has the most recognition, but many members of Generations X and Y will be familiar with the secondary characters of McDonaldland. In addition to Ronald, we grew up with the Hamburglar, Grimace, Mayor McCheese, and of course, Officer Big Mac.1 Yet apparently, McDonald’s advertising has used only Ronald for over a decade. Small wonder, then, that their sales have been falling.

The New Hamburglar

Earlier this month, McDonald’s unveiled their latest plan to stop the sales skid. They’re bringing back the Hamburglar. Sort of, anyway:

Horrible Hamburglar Staring
My God! What have you done? This is not my beautiful Hamburglar!

Here’s a statement from McDonald’s on the new Hamburglar:

“We felt it was time to debut a new look for the Hamburglar after he’s been out of the public eye all these years,” Joel Yashinsky, McDonald’s’ Vice President of U.S. Marketing said in a statement to Mashable. “He’s had some time to grow up a bit and has been busy raising a family in the suburbs and his look has evolved over time.”

The Hamburglar has been busy. Raising a family. In the suburbs.

Horrible Hamburglar Shushing You

Yeah, you know what? I’m inclined to agree. Just shh, Mr. Yashinsky. Shhhhhh. Shut up. This is awful. I mean, Christ, what an asshole!:

The Horrible New Hamburglar Posing Like A Total Jagoff

The Original Hamburglar

Of course, it could be worse. In fact, when the Hamburglar first premiered, it was worse. You see, the Hamburglar began life as an old man.2 I first discovered this particular piece of insanity at a flea market, when I came upon a plush Hamburglar who looked nothing like the one I’d known all my life:

Flea Market Hamburglar
Needless to say, I was disturbed.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

To explain this, let’s take a brief trip back to 1971, when some hack ad execs decided to rip off an Saturday morning children’s TV show called “H.R. Pufnstuf”.3 Said hacks created the magical “McDonaldland” and populated it with a collection of strange characters, along with hamburgers sprouting from plants. Among these were the Evil Grimace and the original Hamburglar. Gaze upon him and despair:

The One True Hamburglar
Sweet merciful crap, why aren’t any of his parts connected?

That utterly horrifying image above was soon toned down to be only mostly horrifying:

The One True Hamburglar
Pretty scary, rather than truly terrifying

The Lone Jogger

Allow me to take a brief detour so as to note that in the mid ’70s, the Hamburglar was inexplicably known as the “Lone Jogger”. I guess because jogging was a popular fad? I really just have no explanation for that particular nonsense, but if you don’t believe me, do check the video tape. And if you think “There’s no way someone has uploaded a McDonald’s commercial from 40 years ago to YouTube”, well think again, you foolish pessimist!4


The Hamburglar’s appearance fluctuated throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. Sometimes he looked like he was coming to claim your immortal soul, and sometimes he just looked like he might merely pop out of the woods and scare the wits out of you. Throughout it all he remained, at a minimum, “a frightening old man”. Really, what child would want cookies that came in a box like this?

Old Hamburglar Cookie Box
[Image credit: jasonliebigstuff]

Once again, McDonald’s toned things down, and a few years late, the cookie box featured a softened old man:

Softened Hamburglar Cookie Box
[Image credit: BigSpinCoaster]

While I wouldn’t choose to look at him, at least this Hamburglar could be ignored easily enough. Thankfully, he was also nearing retirement. It was almost time for his replacement.

The One True Hamburglar

Let it be known that I have strong opinions about the Hamburglar, and that these opinions are correct. The right Hamburglar, the best Hamburglar, the one true Hamburglar, is this little munchkin:

The One True Hamburglar

Yes, I will readily proclaim my staunch loyalty to the Hamburglar I grew up with. While it’s only natural to idealize the heroes of our youth, anyone with an ounce of sense can see that the lovable Dennis the Menace-looking imp is vastly superior to all other Hamburglars. It’s just no contest:

The best Hamburglar is obvious
There’s only one of these ’burglars you’d want to join for a burger.

In comparing Hamburglars, we can dispense with the decrepit wraith Hamburglar right off the bat. He was an abomination, and how he managed to survive in advertising for more than a decade, I’ll never know. I can only attribute it to the copious drug use which occurred at that time.

As for the smug asshole dad McDonald’s just unveiled, let’s be serious. A real Hamburglar wears a cape, not a goddamned duster. His tie should be comically oversized, not suitable for the office. And he damn sure ought to only have one big old middle tooth, or at most two.

Setting aside appearances, there’s also the logic of the crime to consider. Children are notoriously broke, and they also love unhealthy fast food, so they may certainly be interested in swiping some burgers. Even a senior citizen really has nothing to lose, given his looming demise. But for a thirty-something adult, with a family, the economics of hamburger theft just don’t make sense. The risks of the crime far outweigh the meager rewards. This “suburban dad” is unlikely to be so badly hurting for money that he’d steal a couple bucks’ worth of food. A few greasy sliders can’t possibly be worth the chance that he’ll spend the next three to five years of his life seeing his family through a thick sheet of Lexan.

From looks to motive, it’s just so obvious that the youthful Hamburglar is the way to go. He is the lord, our Hamburglar, and we shall have no other Hamburglars before him.

A Closing Devotional

Now sure, I talk big of my love for the real Hamburglar, but perhaps you question my dedication and committment. Allow me to put your doubts to rest. When it came time to run a costumed relay race as part of a team dressed as cops and robbers5, I chose to deck myself out as the world’s most famous thief. Of course I modeled my costume after the boyish scamp version of the Hamburglar, even shaving clean for the part. You can be sure that spectators of the race absolutely loved this:

Devotion to the Hamburglar
Robble Robble!


  1. As a child, I served a nickel in Officer Big Mac’s Cheeseburger Head Correctional Facility.

    Officer Big Mac Jail
    [Photo credit: Jonathan McIntosh]

    Much like Andy Dufresne, I too had to crawl through a river of shit to escape. ↩︎

  2. Like Benjamin Button! ↩︎

  3. Sid and Marty Krofft, creators of H.R. Pufnstuf, sued McDonald’s. They eventually received over a million dollars for the IP theft. ↩︎

  4. Archived here. ↩︎

  5. Ya know, like ya do. ↩︎

Water Resistant-Ish

Today, we’re going to dive deep on the subject of the water resistance of the Apple Watch! Let’s begin with a brief discussion on nomenclature.

While the term is often used casually, most watches are not actually “waterproof” (generally, only high-end dive watches actually use this word in marketing). However, just about all wristwatches are “water-resistant” to some degree, with even cheap digital watches offering excellent water resistance. For most people, these watches are effectively waterproof. Standard use, including swimming, will have no ill effects.

Unfortunately, devices in the new category known as smartwatches have often lacked good water resistance, and the Apple Watch is definitely not a leader in this area. When Apple first unveiled the Apple Watch in 2014, they made no public mention whatsoever of its ability to withstand water. At the time, however, some reporters did receive a bit more information. The word from Apple was that “sweating, wearing it in the rain, washing your hands, or cooking with it are fine”, but you should “[t]ake it off before you swim or get in the shower”.

The next news came in February, when Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly stated that he wears his Apple Watch even in the shower. Here’s a really mediocre French-to-English Google translation of the statement in question:

According to the report that is in us, the boss explained that Apple now always wore his watch “even in the shower.” Casually, it’s since Apple has never communicated info on the tolerance of his watch to water: rather dog or cat instead? It was just a visual on the site with a sporty wet arm but not swimming scenes.

I included this lousy translation (the report is where?) mostly because I really love the idea of measuring a watch as having “dog-like” or “cat-like” water-tolerance. It’s not at all precise, but it certainly is evocative.

Apple’s site was updated in March to include an official water-resistance rating, stating:

Apple Watch is splash and and water resistant but not waterproof. You can, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise, in the rain, and while washing your hands, but submerging Apple Watch is not recommended. Apple Watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529. The leather bands are not water resistant.

Now, the IP Code is actually a bit tricky. That IPX7 rating means only that the device can handle immersion in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. It doesn’t tell us anything about other types of water resistance. A footnote from the above-linked Wikipedia page leads to this page, which states:1

Ratings IPX7 and IPX8: Tests for the ratings IPX7 and IPX8 address the possibility of moisture ingress from submersion in water. For IPX7 testing, the sample is submerged for 30 minutes. The lowest point of the enclosure should be 1000 mm below the surface of the water, and the highest point at least 150 mm below the surface…Compliance with either of these tests does not imply compliance with IPX5 or IPX6 unless the product is marked with both ratings (for example, “IPX5/IPX7”). [Emphasis added]

Thus, an IPX7-rated device like the Apple Watch does not necessarily include any protection from water jets (IPX5, IPX6, IPX6K) like those found in a shower. It would seem odd for Apple’s CEO to admit to showering with his Apple Watch if the device can’t actually handle it though, right? Of course, Cook was never quoted as stating that the device survived the shower. Perhaps it’s all part of an evil strategy to trick customers into drowning their watches, forcing them to buy new ones.

On April 24th, the watch was finally released to the public. Due to myriad factors, including the direction of the Earth’s rotation, the placement of the so-called “International Date Line”, and—well look, it’s all very technical. Suffice it to say that Australians got the watch hours upon hours ahead of their jealous counterparts to the West. The young New Zealand lads at FoneFox did some stress testing, posting a video of the watch surviving the shower, a bucket of water, and even a swim in a pool.

Apple Watch in Pool
Apple Watch: Takes a(n extremely shallow) dive and still stays alive

The watch outperformed its IPX7 certification, and all previous announcements, both formal and informal. In fact, the Apple Watch performed so well that the FoneFox folks rewarded it by bashing it to death with a hammer. If you’re still waiting on your Apple Watch, you may wish to skip that video, but you should know that it took several strikes to break the watch. It turns out that much like yourself, a bit of water won’t kill the Apple Watch, but four blows right to the face probably will.

Nevertheless, between Apple’s CEO stating that he showers with the Apple Watch and the Kiwis stress-testing it, it would seem to offer good water resistance. And yet most recently, I stumbled upon the following, buried on page 137 of the 159 page Apple Watch User Guide:

Exposure to liquid Apple Watch is water resistant but not waterproof. You may, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise (exposure to sweat is OK), in the rain, and while washing your hands. If water splashes on to the watch, wipe it off with a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth.

Submerging Apple Watch is not recommended. Apple Watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529…The following may affect the water resistance of Apple Watch and should be avoided:

  • Dropping Apple Watch or subjecting it to other impacts.

  • Submerging Apple Watch in water for long periods of time.

  • Swimming or bathing with Apple Watch.

  • Exposing Apple Watch to pressurized water or high velocity water, for example, showering, water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, jet skiing, and so on.2

  • Wearing Apple Watch in the sauna or steam room.

If nothing else, it would appear that Tim Cook is violating the recommendations of his own company’s user guide. Assuming he was accurately quoted by a French website describing a meeting Cook had with retail employees in Germany, anyhow. Regardless, there’s definitely some confusion as to just how water resistant the Apple Watch really is.

So it is that I, and you, arrive at the end of this post without any real conclusion. Real-world tests indicate that the Apple Watch is fairly rugged. It can certainly stand up to use while running and sweating, and it also seems capable of withstanding trips into the shower. Apple appears to be under-promising and over-delivering, which is better than the reverse. As well, given that the company certainly wants to avoid their brand new product acquiring a reputation for flakiness, they’d be foolish not to swap any water-damaged devices which succumbed under reasonable usage. All that is to say that while Apple should probably do a better job of explaining exactly what users can expect in the real-world, you probably don’t need to worry much.


  1. At the time of writing, that page wouldn’t load, so the Internet Archive’s wonderful Wayback Machine was used to retrieve it. ↩︎

  2. It seems just a bit ridiculous for “showering” to be lumped together with “water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, (and) jet skiing”, no? ↩︎

New Emoji and My Favorite Radar

2014 was a big year for emoji. In the spring, Twitter implemented emoji on their website. In June, the emoji standard was extended to include around 250 new images. With the release of iOS 8 in the fall, Apple turned the emoji keyboard on by default. A great deal of progress was made.

After hearing about the new glyphs last summer, I took the opportunity to discuss the rise of emoji. You may recall my eagerness to see one particular new emoji added to the available options: “Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended”.

Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended
[Image credit: Emoji Blog]

But eight months later, those new emoji are very poorly supported. Apple has yet to update their platforms with any of the recently-added emoji, and each new version of Mac OS X and iOS has led only to repeated disappointment.

Recent news seemed to offer hope of a change. Hearing that Apple would be updating emoji on both their major platforms led to renewed optimism on my part. After reading a post touting “300 new, diverse emoji”, I felt sure that our glorious, obscene future had finally arrived. I updated a machine to the Mac OS X 10.10.3 beta to check it out.

There are some truly new emoji in the form of additional flags. Welcome, Belgium.

Face Massages
Now in alphabeticalish order!

There are also multiple pigments for many of the people emoji, so you can get a face massage in any skin tone you like:

Face Massages
That left-most yellow is intended to mean “cartoonishly unhuman”, not racist “Asian”.

However, after much searching I realized I was to be let down once again. None of the emoji from the updated Unicode 7 spec are included. Apple continues to flip us the figurative bird by refusing to provide us with a literal middle finger. Diversity of races is surely a good thing, but where is the diversity for people who wish to communicate with widely recognized hand gestures? Surely we deserve satisfaction!

After some time sitting in a soggy pile of my own dashed hopes, I resolved to take action. Reasoning that perhaps Apple is simply unaware of the wondrous world of new emoji which awaits us all, I logged on to Apple’s Bug Reporter and filed an enhancement request.1

Radar #19925942
This is probably my favorite radar ever.

If you too dream of a future where we can use emoji to adequately express our contempt, add your support by duping Radar #19925942. Depending on your general feelings toward Apple and their bug reporting system, you may or may not choose to include an image of the desired emoji as I did. For reference, of course.

At times, I am haunted by the thought that Apple will never implement the new emoji. However, I have one fear even deeper than that, which I originally expressed on John Gruber’s “The Talk Show” last year2. My worry is that Apple may update their emoji set with most of the new glyphs, while opting to ignore the one fingered salute. For now though, I wait with bated breath and hope that the folks in Cupertino will do what’s right. C’mon guys — I really don’t want to have to switch to Android.


  1. Using Safari® 1.0 or better, of course ↩︎

  2. For a non-timestamped, but more canonical link, see here. ↩︎