Posts in Category: Uncategorized

Elliot’s review of Infix PDF editor

update… so the below review was posted on September 19th, and it’s now October 2nd, and I still haven’t heard from Inceni…  They said to allow at least 10 days… oh wait… I see now that it says “working days.”  Well… I guess it’s been barely 10 working days…  The fact of not sending so much as a confirmation e-mail to acknowledge receipt of the customer’s request is simply poor user interface practice…  We can only hope that the interface of their software behaves better than does the interface of their web site…

 

(click here to visit the Infix PDF editor web site)

Unfortunately, a lot of people and companies feel the need to use PDF files.  PDF files have a lot of problems with them, namely the sky-high cost of editing software.  PDF forms have their own problems – After you fill out the form in the free Adobe Reader PDF editor, you can’t save or e-mail it…   In short, if you have a file or document, and you want to ensure that the highest number of people around the world will be unable to edit or otherwise make use of your document, one good option is to distribute it as a PDF file.

I recently found myself with a 500 page PDF file, with my e-mail address in the footer of each page… It’s a book I purchased… And it’s a really goofy e-mail address.  It’s really distracting to me to see this e-mail address on each page as I try to concentrate on reading the book.  So I went searching for PDF editing software to see if I could erase it.  As it turns out, ALL of the free PDF editing software that I could find was unable to do this, for one reason or another.  For example  libreoffice is supposed to be able to edit PDF files, but, it totally corrupted the layout of the file, rendering it unreadable, and, it can’t actually save in PDF format… so that was a bust.  I found another free PDF editing solution that seemed like it might have done the trick for me, but it didn’t have a replace option… only a find option… 

Finally I somehow found and tried the Infix PDF editor.  For some stupid reason, this editor is not currently listed in wikipedia’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_PDF_software#Editors. It should be, because it has proved to be a viable PDF editor…  It’s not perfect, however…

As far as editing my page footer in my 500 page document, it did this quite well.  The interface is a little confusing and needs improvement.  When I performed the find/replace operation, it warns me that I should make sure to have a backup of the document, because the operation can not be ‘undone.’  Oddly enough, as it performs the operation, it seems to do it in batches of a hundred pages at a time or so, and after each batch, it proceeds to save your document…  If you weren’t intending to save your document, well, too bad, now you’re screwed.  Unfortunately there was no warning that the file would be saved.  Then, surprisingly, it pops up another dialog telling you that the file has been automatically backed up for you.  Sure enough, I found a backup copy of the file in the same directory as the original file.  It’s not clear to me (and I couldn’t be bothered to try to figure out) if this is a backup of the open file as it was before the find/replace operation was initiated, or as it was when it was last saved.  (i.e., you might have done a lot of editing between the time you last saved it and the time that you initiated the find/replace.)   Still, I give them an A for effort.  They are obviously trying to make a good product, in doing so they are paying attention to details that 99% of all developers just don’t worry about.  I think they got it wrong in this case as the interface doesn’t make clear what all is going to happen when you initiated a find/replace, but that’s a minor inconvenience, and you soon learn that it is one of the quirks of the design that you have to be aware of.

My next test of the Infix PDF editor came when my cat went missing.  I needed to fax in a form to PetTrac, which is this insufferable backwards company that doesn’t let you register your cat’s microchip via their web site.  At PetTrac, apparently, it’s still 1985 or something… hence their use of a PDF form.  So I downloaded the form from their web site, and I opened it with Infix.  I got an error stating “XML interactive form detected… this document contains a form definition that may not be compatible with Infix.”  And sure enough, it wasn’t.  The check boxes didn’t check, I couldn’t fill out the two letter abbreviation for my state unless I put it in lower case (upper case didn’t fit in the box.)  I was able to improvise by creating a ‘check’ in MSPaint and pasting it over the appropriate check boxes, and using my mouse I scribbled out an approximation of my signature and pasted it onto the signature box of the form.  Infix is, after all, a PDF editing program, and it does let you edit a PDF file pretty much the same as if you were editing any old word processing document.

The problem with my Pettrac form came when I went to save it…  I saved it, closed it, and then opened it again, to make sure that it actually was saving the contents of the form that I had just filled out…. When I opened it back up, all my info was there…. but…  So far so good… I closed it again, and this time, I opened it up with Adobe Acrobat reader…  No dice… All of my info was gone…  I open it back up in Infix, and my info is all there again… so with this particular form, there is some odd incompatibility between how Infix works and how other PDF software works… It’s not safe to assume that the ‘fault’ lies with Infix, because it could well be that there is something wrong with the form its self… It could be that the folks at Pettrac are using some obsolete PDF editor to make the form in the first place.  Who knows.  Considering the Pettrac company doesn’t even have online or even e-mail registration, but requires you send in a fricking FAX… it’s very possible they messed something up in their form.  I used my online fax service to fax the form to myself, and sure enough, the form was blank when I received the fax.  Talk about disappointing.  Hopefully the folks at Infix can read this review, track down the form, (it’s the registration form) and find out what the problem is, and do whatever is needed to make the Infix PDF editor compatible with whatever is wrong with that form.  Even if the form has some bug in it, it would be nice if the folks at Iceni could implement a work-around, because at the end of the day, users don’t care which software is compliant with which standard, users just want software to work.  If they do make Infix compatible with the stupid Pettrac form, I’ll update this blog entry to reflect that.

In the end, because Infix could not save the form in a way that my fax service could open up the form and retrieve the info I had filled out, I had to print the form out on paper, photograph it with my DSLR, and then fax the JPG of the form instead of the PDF to Pettrac.  All that hassle because the folks at Pettrac don’t have a working registration web site and insist on using PDF forms instead.  Thanks Pettrac!

Other than that, the remaining criticisms I have of the Infix software are minor… the free demo of Infix PDF editor adds a watermark to any pages which are edited and saved or edited and printed… That’s understandable… if there was no watermark, then there would be no incentive for anyone to pay for their software, and there could be no software development.  I did find it annoying however that the watermark was added to my Pettrac registration form when I printed it, considering that the free Adobe Reader does not add a watermark when printing a form.  You’ve got to figure that if someone is simply using their Infix PDF editor to fill out and print a PDF form, they’re probably not doing anything they couldn’t also do with the free Adobe Reader, so to stay competitive with the free Adobe Reader, I would suggest that the free Infix demo should not add a watermark in that particular situation… you know, maybe leave off the watermark when printing files that have forms in them that are less than say 5 or 10 pages.

One thing that was terribly annoying about the free demo is how every time you open any file, it pops up this dialog asking if you want to open the file in Professional mode or Standard mode.  It never was made clear to me what, exactly, the difference is, and there is no option to just pick one and have it stop asking you that…  (once you pay to register the software, it quits asking you this, because when you register, you choose which mode to register in .. professional, or standard.)  So I always just clicked on the “professional” mode… oh.. wait a minute.. I just noticed that there is a third option… “form-filling mode”, in which no watermark is added.  Wow… See… that’s the problem with interfaces that are too cluttered and that give users too many choices…

Another complaint I have is that it’s not possible to control the magnification more precisely.  I’m sitting here trying to read my 500 page PDF book, and on one magnification level it’s too big, but on the next smaller level, it’s too small.  There is no setting in-between.  I can go still bigger and smaller, but I can’t dial in an exact percentage as you can with the free Adobe Reader.

On the plus side for Infix, I can actually scroll through my 500 page document… Adobe Reader was having all kinds of trouble drawing the document on my screen, with a huge lag every time I scroll a single line… It’s simply not possible for me to read any document with that kind of lag.  No doubt my system could use more memory and a faster processor, but, given the same level of system resources, Infix gets the job done while Adobe Reader simply chokes… I’d hate to think what would happen if I loaded the larger and no doubt more memory-hungry Adobe editor software on the same system…   I don’t like the scrolling action of Infix, it doesn’t seem to be quite as smooth as in Adobe (when Adobe is working)… the Infix reader jumps one line at a time as I rotate the scroll wheel of my mouse, I would prefer if it would scroll smoothly instead of jumping. But then again it may be the slightly smoother scrolling action that is crippling Adobe reader, due to the increased processor usage that comes with it.

Again, I was REALLY impressed with the find/replace of Infix.  You can even use wildcards… and it doesn’t choke on a 500 page document, even on a system with limited memory and processor speed… It took a couple of minutes for it to get through the entire document, but it got the job done.  It’s got other functions and features, but I didn’t play with them because that’s really all I wanted, was to be able to do some simple editing of a PDF file as if it was a regular word processor file.

So let’s talk about cost.

Infix professional runs about $159, and the standard version is $99.  What’s the difference between the two?  The hell if I know.  Sadly, Infix missed an opportunity to explain this, and I’m too lazy to go digging for the info.  That annoying pop-up window that comes up in the demo mode EVERY TIME you open a document would be a great place to put some details about the differences.  So the user is left with the choice of trying to dig for this information on the Infix web site, or trying to reverse engineering the differences by trying to open the same document in one mode and then the other, and checking to see which functions do or don’t work in which modes.  It would be nice if they would just have ONE mode, and just label the different functions and menu items with say, a different color, or an icon, depending on if you get that function in professional mode or standard mode, allowing you to explore both modes AT THE SAME TIME without having to close the document and switch from one mode to the other, just to decide which mode you need.

Is it worth $159?  For me, it might not be… I’m on a pretty tight budget… but that’s a hell of a lot less than other comparable PDF editing software, so if you’re in the market for some professional PDF editing software, this might be the way to go.

Iceni does currently, as of this writing, have an offer whereby if you post a review of their software on your blog, they may elect to give you a free license…  So that’s what I’m trying here.  We’ll see how it goes.  The only thing that puts me off about their free license offer is that they don’t stipulate in their terms and conditions any requirement that you reveal in your review that you’re writing the review in exchange for a free license…  journalistic professionalism would require that anyone who is hoping to be compensated for their review by the maker of the software they are reviewing should reveal this in their review…  I’m sure that many reviewers state this, but I’m sure that some don’t.  Obviously Iceni is not trying to hide the fact that they offer a free license in exchange for reviews – the offer is posted directly on their web site – but I just think they should be a little more open about it by requiring that the person reviewing the software state that they are doing so in exchange for a free license.

Well I hope I get a free license for Infix out of this review.  If not, I’ve got a friend who says he can get me Adobe editor for free… : – P  Then I could do a side-by-side review/comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

diversity

You don’t like my ideas, so you dox me?  For someone who advocates for diversity, you sure don’t tolerate any diversity of opinion.  You’re right and no one should disagree with you.  Ever.  Good luck with that.

Brown saved my life

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

— Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:

How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

Read the TED Blog’s Q&A with Brené Brown >>

“Brené Brown is an absolute legend. This is groundbreaking – not in terms of peoples awareness of these subjects and what they mean… But in these messages enhanced communication made accessible to a wider audience on this level. I have a jumbled up jigsaw in front of me with pieces I’ve been putting together my whole life- and Brene Brown has just connected so many pieces. This makes so much sense on so many levels. Really awesome stuff. I will watch this a few times and recommend it to people!”

-jakesandersonaudio on YouTube

 

 

 

daring_greatly

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

 

Editorial Reviews


From Barnes & Noble

In film, television, and battle sagas, we crave stories of fearless superheroes, but the heroes we value most are those who grapple not only with their enemies, but with their own vulnerability. This welcome new book explains why honestly accepting our limitations can enhance every aspect of our lives.
Publishers Weekly
Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection) examines vulnerability and imperfection in her latest, which takes its title from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.” Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, is the first to admit that vulnerability makes her uncomfortable, but posits that daring to fail is the only true way to be wholeheartedly engaged in any aspect of life. “Experiencing vulnerability isn’t a choice—the only choice we have is how we’re going to respond when we are confronted with uncertainty, risk and emotional disclosure,” she says. Laying out a roadmap for change, the author includes chapters on eliminating blame and shame from work and education, and daring to be the adults we want our children to be. At the same time, she explores what drives people to feel vulnerable and how to address common coping mechanisms in what she calls the “Vulnerability Armory.” But the core of her message is understanding the difference between guilt and shame, and developing “shame resistance.” Brown’s theories—complete with personal and not always flattering examples from her own life—will draw readers in and have them considering what steps they would dare to take if shame and fear were not present. Agent: Jo-Lynne Worley, Worley Shoemaker Literary Management. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Brown (Univ. of Houston Graduate College of Social Work; The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, 2010, etc.) exposes and challenges some of the common myths surrounding vulnerability. After more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, the author presents her findings on the concepts of shame, weakness and vulnerability. Defining vulnerability “as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk,” the author maintains that this feeling is the crux of most of our meaningful experiences. Ultimately, she writes, it is not a weakness; everyone is vulnerable, we all need support via friends and family. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. Brown believes it is essential to expose oneself to a wide range of feelings in order to combat shame, break down the walls of perfectionism and stop the act of disengagement that separates many from themselves and others. By accepting her directives, readers will be engaged, gain a sense of courage and learn how to create meaningful connections with their children or fellow workers. “Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice,” she writes, “we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.” When we choose to dare greatly, the rewards are vast: We feel more loved and are more loving, we feel worthy of that love, we choose our path and commit to it with daily practice, and we live with courage, engagement and a clear sense of purpose. A straightforward approach to revamping one’s life from an expert on vulnerability.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592407330
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 9/11/2012
Pages: 256

 

Table of Contents

What it Means to Dare Greatly xii

Introduction: My Adventures in the Arena 4

Chapter 1 Scarcity: Looking Inside our Culture of “Never Enough” 18

Chapter 2 Debunking the Vulnerability Myths 32

Chapter 3 Understanding and Combating Shame 58

Chapter 4 The Vulnerability Armory 112

Chapter 5 Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide 172

Chapter 6 Disruptive Engagement: Daring to Rehumanize Education and Work 184

Chapter 7 Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to be the Adults we Want Our Children to Be 214

Final Thoughts 247

Appendix-Trust in Emergence: Grounded Theory and My Research Process 251

Practicing Gratitude 261

Notes And References 265

Index 277

About the Author 289

Does Brain Training really work? – PsyFile

CBC website interface needs work

Subject:   CBC website interface needs work
From:   “Elliot Smith” <cbc_fail@elliotsmith.us>
Date:   Mon, February 18, 2013 5:46 am
To:   lynda.shorten@cbc.ca (less)
nicola.luksic@cbc.ca
marie.clarke@cbc.ca
angela.misri@cbc.ca
lisa.rundle@cbc.ca
laura.brown@cbc.ca
dominic.girard@cbc.ca
Rodney.millington@cbc.ca
elaine.chau@cbc.ca
peter.brown@cbc.ca
susan.mckenzie@cbc.ca
kim.garritty@cbc.ca
Christina.harnett@cbc.ca
ruth.zowdu@cbc.ca
Cc:   ideas@cbc.ca
Options:   View Full Header |  View Printable Version  | Download this as a file | | Add to Address Book

 

Dear CBC person:

I am writing you with a concern that more than likely isn't within your
sphere of responsibility...  I'm writing about user interface.  The user
interface for the CBC radio web site is nuts.  I'm guessing that it got
designed by a committee, I'm guessing that the design was more a product
of procedure and due process than of common sense.  If you could take a
minute to take your own personal common sense out for a spin, and examine
this question, you might find that you agree with this concern... or you
might find that you disagree...  Either way, whatever initiative you can
personally muster and bring to bear on this concern would be better than
the endless string of transfers and referrals and total lack of initiative
and ownership that I've encountered so far in attempting to bring this
concern to the attention of CBC...

What is the concern?  Well, ironically enough, my concern stems from my
interest in the CBC programme "Ideas," although, this concern probably
applies to all CBC programmes.  (I haven't actually checked as whenever I
visit the CBC web site I'm generally too distracted from fighting the
website interface just trying to find some "Ideas" episodes to have any
energy (or motivation) left over to want to explore any other CBC
programmes.)

I live in Chicago, and the local PBS stations broadcast your "Ideas"
programme on a regular basis.  Every now and again I would happen upon
"Ideas" whilst driving to or from my job, and I would sometimes be so
impressed with your "Ideas" program that I would go home to listen to the
entire program via your web site, and I would even sometimes e-mail a
friend or colleague a link to the "Ideas" episode in question.  There's
only one problem.  The interface on the "Ideas" web site is junk, so much
so that actually listening to the "Ideas" program poses real and
significant obstacles for most users.

To get around CBC's junky website interface, I sometimes have to download
the programme, often with the help of 'ripping' software which 'rips' the
programme from the streaming audio player, (since often no podcast aka MP3
file is available to download) and then I have to upload the program to my
own web site so that I can provide my friends with a link to an MP3 file
of the program in question.  You don't need to make life this difficult
for your listeners...

Yes, CBC's website interface is junk.  Strong language, maybe.  But it is
what it is.  This is how I, as a listener, feel about the CBC website
interface...  I would venture to say that many of your listeners who have
ever tried to download a simple podcast from your website probably feel
the same way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3JFwd1bk4Q&feature=youtu.be&t=1m23s

There is on your web site what I would call a 'streaming' player.  This is
the player that pops up in the listeners web browser when they click on
the "listen" link for a programme...  This unfortunate 'streaming' player
doesn't provide random access to rewind or fast-forward the programme...

Perhaps some of you are old enough to recall the cassette tape, and before
that, the record player.  Imagine if you will, that you have ordered a
copy of a CBC "Ideas" episode, and you have received it on cassette tape. 
Imagine playing it on a cassette tape player.  Imagine being distracted
whilst listening to the programme, hitting "stop," answering the phone, or
doing whatever, and then coming back to the programme later on.  Now what
do you want to do?  Do you want to hit play and resume listening where you
left off?  No... You want to hit "rewind" and go back about 30 seconds or
so to re-find the context, the overall place where you left off...  With a
cassette tape, this is easy to do.. the longer you hold down the rewind
button, the further back you go in the programme...

Now, try doing this in your streaming audio player on your web site.  It's
sort of possible, but it's clumsy as all hell.  Instead of being able to
rewind a precise amount, proportional to how long you hold down the rewind
button, you are only able to rewind a random amount, by sliding the caret
on the slider which is so sensitive that the slightest twitch of your
mouse pointer moves it several minutes too far one direction or another...
You have to repeat this process of rewinding and fastforwarding random
amounts until you get lucky and you find the point which you are seeking,
or, more likely, until you get lost and frustrated.

Congratulations.  Decades after the advent of the analog tape recorder,
you've found a technology which is substantially inferior.  The low cost
of this digital technology as compared to the more expensive analog
technology of the tape recorder means that you can now saddle ALL of your
listeners with this stupid interface and the unfortunate listening
experience that comes with it.

This inability to easily rewind the audio is but one example of the
inadequacy of your streaming audio player.  There are other specific ways
in which your streaming audio player produces an unfortunate listening
experience.  I won't bore you (and myself) with an in-depth explanation of
every way in which your streaming audio player falls short.

User interface design is both a science and an art.  Think of it like
building design... There are certain basic rules... (stairs have to be
spaced evenly, one step should not be shorter than the other steps... hand
railings need to be at a certain height to be of use to most people...
doorways have to be a certain minimum width and height, etc etc...)  There
are books of arcane rules about building design...

My purpose is not to write a book for you.  My purpose is to merely point
out that it's quite apparent that whoever puts together your web site
needs to find a book on user interface design, and read it...  That would
be a start.  User interface design is both a science AND an art, but to
start with, how can you impart any sort of artistic sensibility into the
design when it's so fundamentally flawed to start with....

None of these problems with your streaming audio player would be a problem
if you simply made the episodes available to download, in a standard file
format, so that your listeners could listen to the radio programs using
their own software.  There is software out there that doesn't suck, and
even if CBC doesn't avail its self of such software, many of your
listeners do have decent software at their disposition.  To be able to use
their own decent quality listening software to listen to a CBC programme,
all your listeners would need is a copy of the programme in a standard
file format, such as MP3.

To your credit, it is possible to download an MP3 file of some of the
"Ideas" episodes.  But only some.  Invariably, it's really hard, and
sometimes impossible, to find the MP3 download for a particular episode,
especially the episode that most recently aired.  You have the proprietary
stupid streaming audio player copy right here on your web site, and
meanwhile, the MP3 download copy is... completely elsewhere on the web
site, and, I might add, not easy to find.  An abundance of links to
"download podcasts" turn out to be teasers that are dead ends which DO NOT
in fact allow the listener to download the desired podcast...  What...
the... hell?  Seriously?  Words fail me at this point.  To explain to you
how this is unacceptable is like a traffic cop trying to explain to a
pedestrian how failing to use the crosswalk to cross a busy street is
unacceptable.  If you don't understand the concept innately, then you're
probably drunk.  Or high.  Or both.

Yes.  I know that CBC is on iTunes, and that your radio programmes are
apparently available to download there.  No, this is not a solution for
many of your listeners.  Most people in the world don't have an iTunes
account.  iTunes is a proprietary 'network.'  iTunes is not the same as
the internet.  Out here on the internet, there are various standard file
formats which afford maximum compatibility with the software and hardware
that your listeners have at their disposition, and one of those formats is
the MP3 format.  Your "podcasts" are nothing more than MP3 files.  This is
great.  This will work just fine for all of your listeners.  Now, if
somehow, someone at CBC could realize that anywhere in the interface where
there is an option to bring up a programme in that unfortunate proprietary
steaming audio player, there should also be an option to download the MP3
file of the same programme, without having to go on a wild goose chase for
said MP3 file... if someone could just realize this... and then if said
someone could just act on this realization... then listeners could
actually... listen to your programmes a hell of a lot more easily, with
absolutely minimal frustration and difficulty.  Hey.  What a concept, huh?
 If anyone could implement this, I'd appreciate it.

I've been complaining about this for a while, but, evidently, CBC doesn't
respond to listener complaints and suggestions, or, perhaps, the process
that created the failed web site interface is the same process that
processes listener feedback.  Hence the reason why I have circumvented
your listener feedback process and I've gone in search of contact
information for people who might actually get the importance of not having
substantial barriers between listeners and the programmes they want to
listen to.

Best of luck,

-Elliot Smith, interface wonk

Ideas — Paperback Love

 

Toronto writer Erika Blair (a.k.a Greg Kelly) explores the myths and realities of romance fiction in 1992.

download mp3:

http://elliotsmith.us/elliotblog/content/ideas_paperback_love.mp3

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2013/02/14/paperback-love/

Bertrice Small:

I think the reason that women read romance, and this goes for any of the subgenres within the genre, is that women are looking for a happily ever after, we give you boy meets girl, they fall in love, and they end up one way or another happily ever after, and women want this, and I think men want this too.  No, I don’t think romances create wild expectations.  The wild expectations that most women have are to find the right man, to have a happy home, to possibly have a good career.  The one thing I think it gives them to shoot for is that they see in the better of the books written in this genre that there can be normal relationships between men and women, and I think that’s something in this day and age to shoot for.

 

David Reef:

One understands perfectly well that the feminist revolution, that is, women in the labor force, women in the professions, is one of the great advents of the 20th century, and even the romance novel is going to reflect it to some extent.  That is to say, a new set of perhaps more progressive cliches have replace an older set of more reactionary ones seems to me perhaps a slight improvement but scarcely anything to crow about.  I think the interesting criticism of romance novels is not that they are a particular kind of fantasy, but that they are completely unreal.  The trouble with this work is that it’s psychologically reductive, that it pedals notions of how life works out that have nothing to do with how it works out even when it works out well, there’s no notion of the tragic, there’s the disaster: he leaves her, she doesn’t get the job, whatever the formula is, there’s no notion that things are difficult, that people age, that life is complicated, that it’s full of salt as well as sugar.  It seems to me that that’s what’s wrong with these books, not whether they have the correct line on women becoming partners in law firms.

 

David Reef:

One of the things that distinguishes good writing from bad writing in English is simply the good writer’s ability to be spare with the details, to know when the reader can do the work.  The romance writer will never do that.

 

Angela Miles:

I think we have to look at this fantasy, and also look at the reading, the huge amount of romance reading that women do, as a very successful coping mechanism in very very difficult situations.  In dialogue with readers I find that very often they will have periods of intense romance reading [which] may coincide with the birth of their first child, or having three children under five, or being an undergraduate, and with women the kind of pressure tends to be a pressure where they can’t justify taking time for themselves.  Women have said to me they’re better than drugs and alcohol.  They serve the purpose of escape.

David Reef:

I think if you look at these not as books but as products, or if you like as comic books, you’ll get a much better sense.  No one is surprised that in Japan these things called Manga which are these mass circulation comic books, sort of softcore porn slash adventure comic books are read by millions of people.  It appeals to our baser natures, and that’s what Hollywood does, and that’s what romance books do.  You know, if you said unhappy people also like to eat vast quantities, they like to stuff eclairs into their mouths, I really don’t think that anyone except perhaps an eclair manufacturer would suggest that this was very good for them or was to be encouraged or had some political justification.  I still maintain that they are, however consoling they may feel, they’re a kind of false consolation, and like any opiate they make you feel worse in the long run.

Angela Miles:

One of the needs that women have is a need for nurture, really. It’s something that I would say most women in this society are deprived of and really can’t expect after a fairly young age. Our society is structured in such a way that women give that out to children and to men, and really can’t have much expectation of getting that back, and the romances are full of males nurturing females.  The heroes are always independent, that is, not dependent and not requiring nurture or a lot of care and attention from the woman, but are in turn paying a lot of attention to her and nurturing her.  Now, once you’ve said that the hero is a mother figure, it shrieks out at you, you read him being bossy and exasperated in ways that are very much like a mother.  Occasionally I’ll find myself longing for that feeling of escape.  I don’t particularly resist that longing because what the romance fantasy shows when it’s analyzed in terms of an understanding of the hero as a mother figure is the depth of that need and the potential for social change when we can recognize that our nurture does come largely from women, and that we need to in fact develop our woman identification and our woman power.

Harlem Shake – cats and water

The Killers, PSY Live, Rebecca Black, Tay Zonday,

Joe Cocker, Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Feelin’ Alright

a bunch of weapons

life can be strange…