Flying cars! Finally!

The Week has the following item:

Terrafugia, a company that manufactures “roadable aircrafts,” scores [US] government approval to make vehicles of the future a reality …

Terrafugia said it expects to begin delivering the first few Transition vehicles late next year.

I’ve been waiting for these for ages.


Where are all the good yellow highlighters?

I use highlighters almost daily, and I have grown very fond of the yellow ones. They are usually not too garish nor too dark to ruin a text. The yellow markers also allow you to fotocopy a page without rendering marked bits unreadable, unlike the blue, green and orange ones. In addition, yellow markings seldom bleed over to the other side of the paper. The other, darker colours often do, especially with thin and/or low-quality paper.

However, not all yellow markers are good. The ones at sale here in the Göteborg area (west coast of Sweden) are next to useless. I’m talking about brands like Timing, Bic Brite Liner, and Pentel Handy-Line, which seem to be the only ones sold around here. Their yellow markers are either too glossy or too light, and the markings rub of very easily. After not very long (usually within a year), the yellow markings have paled and become completely invisible. What exactly is the point with marker pens like that?

A few years ago, there was another brand of marker pens at sale here. They were called Accent and were made in the US. Their yellow marker was a bit darker than that of the other brands. Not too light, and not too dark. It was somewhere in-between glossy-light yellow and too-dark orange. It was almost ochre. Markings I made five years ago are still visible and show no sign of either rubbing off or paling. I want those highlighters back in our local stores!

Animated logos and other stuff on DVDs

Like most people, I am grateful for all the magnificent DVD releases we have seen over the years. It is absolutely wonderful to have home access to all kinds of great movies, TV shows and music concerts, and most of them in very good quality, too. I have a lot of appreciation for the people and companies involved in the making of those DVDs, which often come with a whole bunch of interesting, high-quality extras.

Having said that, I have one issue with them. It concerns most DVDs on sale, and it’s all those stupid things you have to sit through to get to the good parts. Sometimes the DVD starts with a copyright notice that locks up your DVD player. At other times, it happens when you press “play”. Although I can understand why they think they must include it, in reality it’s utterly pointless. Those who pirate DVDs are already aware of the fact that they are doing something illegal. They don’t need to be told that. It might as well say “Don’t feed this to your cat”.

But my gripe is not with the copyright notice. It’s all the other idiotic crap I have to sit through. Sometimes it can get pretty crowded at the front of a DVD. First there are animated logos for all the production companies involved (usually several). Then there’s a short movie telling me how bad stealing is, followed by trailers for other DVDs*, after which I often get some kind of animation leading to the DVD menue. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll get the DVD from Hell which contains all of them.

OK, so why not just skip them? Unfortunately, very often the useless cannot be skipped or even fast-forwarded. Somewhat luckily, with some DVDs, you can pop it in, go out for a cup of coffee or a beer, have it run all the annoying stuff on its own, and when you return, the menue is nicely displayed on the screen. But not seldom, you cannot do even this. Quite a number of DVDs stop at various locations, forcing you to chose “enter” and “language”, so you’re stuck sitting there after all. On more than one occasion, I’ve actively avoided DVDs I know have these forced stops.

It’s perhaps OK to sit through it once, or even twice, but enough is enough. It’s like I’m being punished for being a paying customer. Indeed, all those forced logos, messages, trailers, and the annoying stops do nothing but create bad blood between the DVD makers and their customers.

(Note * = I have to point out that I actually appreciate the trailers, but only if I can chose to watch them at my own time. I don’t want to be forced to watch them. My living room is not a cinema. Watching movies on a DVD is not the same social event as “going to the movies” where the trailers function more naturally as a warm-up to the main event.)