Dear Microsoft, Why Do You Make It So Difficult?

Like a lot of people I paid attention when Microsoft updated Hotmail and declared war on Gmail. That’s a bold move and to pull it off they must be confident that the features they are delivering really are transformative… but having done it with Bing (love it, don’t use Google much at all anymore) I figured maybe they were on a roll.

Many commentators agree, saying Microsoft has delivered the goods with “quick views”, better attachment handling, a Gmail-like conversation view (which itself is nothing new, many wonder why it took them so long to do this), and more. I thought I would revisit my old friend, having not used anything other than Gmail (for public email) since 2004.

SafariScreenSnapz008.jpgFor whatever reason my old hotmail email address is no longer available (which kind of pissed me off because I had jnolan@), having been subsumed by my account which, ironically, is my jnolan at gmail dot com email. When signing into my account and clicking on the “mail” tab I am told I don’t have a mailbox and must create one. There doesn’t appear to be any way to get to Hotmail other than going through the frontend.

SafariScreenSnapz006.jpgI understand that it is pretty difficult for a account identified by my gmail address to have a corresponding email account via Hotmail, but I have to wonder why the hell nobody thought about this back when they were building the identity system? It’s not like predates Hotmail. While mildly annoyed that I must create a new inbox I figure it’s no big deal so I click on the sign me up button.

SafariScreenSnapz007.jpg Upon clicking the “sign me up” button I am presented with yet another roadblock, this time telling me it could not sign me out of to move on to the Hotmail new account creation workflow. Furthermore, it’s telling me I have to enable cookies but I know for fact that I have cookies enabled so now I am at a roadblock which after investing the time to get this far I am not willing to go farther. No new Hotmail account for me, moving on and not going to bother trying again. #FAIL.

I am not writing about this to beat up on Microsoft although I think they deserve it for creating that maddening identity system with inherent and intractable conflicts with how Hotmail handles identity, but rather to point out that consumer online services have a very fragile relationship with new users where every single interaction adds or detracts from the experience and when it breaks you have lost that user forever. When you get me and build up a track record I am willing to put up some hassle because I have invested time in the relationship, as is the case with Gmail and performance at the moment, but when we are just starting the relationship is more like speed dating, you get 5 minutes to impress me or I move on. Microsoft, you wasted your 5 minutes with me.

Artists We Like – Christian Burchard

It’s been a while since I wrote about an artist that I enjoy so I thought it was time to feature Christian Burchard. People in art circles talk all the time about “organic forms” and for the most part it’s just a fancy way of saying art that flows with curves and radiuses to mimic how nature itself sculpts much of the landscape. I don’t have much patience for people making up reasons why art is important, I just know what I like about it.

As I have written many times, I love wood sculptures and wood turnings because they reflect a high accomplishment in the technical arts and exist in 3 dimensions. I guess you could say that wood is the ultimate “organic form” not just because it is itself organic but also because every piece of wood is different and to be successful with it you, as an artist, have to be able to read it and work with it not to create what you want but to uncover what the piece has in it.

Burchard is interesting to me because he is successful with so many, and very different, forms. Most wood turners and sculptors focus on single forms, like bowls, but Burchard covers the map with large sculptures, bowls, and wall hangings. I like his wall hangings, if for not other reason than we have young children so things art that hangs on a wall is kind of essential (we’ve had to put all of our glass works in storage because of this fact).

HumbleDynasty_1.jpgBurchard’s book series is well worth a look, not only because he creates spectacularly detailed raw forms but then employs a technically challenging finishing process to transform the wood into something altogether different. Much of art is illusion, taking one thing and transforming it to reflect something altogether different in such a manner that we don’t question the transformation but there is something more primal about Burchard’s book series, perhaps because it’s really not a transformation because paper is of course a product of wood.

If you are interested in Burchard’s work, or any number of other top artists in this field, check out Del Mano Gallery in Los Angeles.