Outrage can be fun, and sometimes not always it makes for entertaining spew. But I have to admit that I'm not always outraged enough to come up with the sort of ranty screed, or screedy rant, that the circumstances demand: once in a while, I feel compelled to grumble about what I think are insignificant deviations, but deviations nonetheless, from the path of righteousness. And this, it appears, is one of those times.

Rear view of Porsche 911 - 991 seriesWe start with a question: Did you ever have trouble recognizing a Porsche? I didn't. The 911 shape was always distinctive, the 928 was so outré as to be impossible to forget, and any 914 I saw was likely to have "PORSCHE" inscribed between front and back wheels in some kazillion-point typeface. Porsche, however, no longer takes it for granted, and now spells out the name on the rear so you won't have to worry what it was that just passed you. (And it will pass you; even a Cayenne, even in Mom's Taxi mode, will not lag behind for long.) To me, this indicates that Porsche has too many models, but then I'm not a product planner of any sort.

The disappearance of the analog radio dial has meant a change in imaging for radio stations: since all the audience is dialing in via digits, station branding either spells out the frequency in its entirety there's no more rounding off or ignores it altogether. The KATT has gone from simply "The KATT" to "Rock 100 The KATT" to "Rock 100.5 The KATT." The Sports Animal is simply The Sports Animal. The one holdout in this market is KJYO, always and presumably forever KJ-103; by now everyone realizes that it's actually at 102.7 though someone at Clear Channel probably insisted that they tweet as @1027kj103.

Weirdly, there has been no similar change in television-station branding, presumably because the digital television system allows for so-called "virtual" channels: KWTV remains News 9, despite actually broadcasting on channel 36. This is a feature called PSIP, which stands for Program and System Information Protocol, a system for sending metadata within a TV signal. PSIP also sends system time, station short name (up to seven characters), and program information. And since you don't have an old analog tuner to pick up the signal anymore, no one is the wiser.

TweetDeck's evolution from an independent social-media manager to a strictly-Twitter tool was probably inevitable, inasmuch as Twitter actually bought TweetDeck; support for rivals like Facebook and even MySpace (yes!) was stripped away in the most recent versions. Truth be told, I don't miss the Facebook integration that much; but I am perplexed at the loss of the spell-checker that was offered in previous versions. Now I'm a pretty damned good speller, most of the time, but the nature of Twitter requires one to type in a hurry, and speed is, in this case anyway, the enemy of precision. And TweetDeck has also quit showing Instagram pictures inline, since Instagram is now owned by Facebook. A Japanese product called Janetter may be the answer for one or two of these issues.

Finally, inasmuch as I have to look in on the corporate Web storefront now and again, I wish issuers of payment cards would be a bit more specific when they decline a transaction. "Do not honor" is straightforward enough, I suppose, but it is deeply unsatisfying to tell an aggrieved customer that "Well, that's all they told us." (Said aggrieved customer will never, ever deign to call the issuing bank, because it has to be our fault that this happened in the first place.) There exist codes for "insufficient funds" and "exceeds daily limit" and such; why in the name of J. P. Morgan aren't they being used?

The Vent

  1 July 2013

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 Copyright © 2013 by Charles G. Hill