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The Secret Lives of Elevators

Twelve

The New Yorker has a piece on elevators, perhaps the world's most commonly used and most commonly taken-for-granted mode of transportation. It also recounted the story of a man who was stuck in an elevator for 41 hours after coming back from a smoke break (of which there's a disturbing time-lapse security video). The aftermath of the ordeal ended up costing him his job, his apartment, his money, and all contact with his friends. Remember, kids, smoking will ruin your life.

My favorite passage of the essay was the following, on elevator etiquette:

Passengers seem to know instinctively how to arrange themselves in an elevator. Two strangers will gravitate to the back corners, a third will stand by the door, at an isosceles remove, until a fourth comes in, at which point passengers three and four will spread toward the front corners, making room, in the center, for a fifth, and so on, like the dots on a die. With each additional passenger, the bodies shift, slotting into the open spaces. The goal, of course, is to maintain (but not too conspicuously) maximum distance and to counteract unwanted intimacies—a code familiar (to half the population) from the urinal bank and (to them and all the rest) from the subway. One should face front. Look up, down, or, if you must, straight ahead. Mirrors compound the unease. Generally, no one should speak a word to anyone else in an elevator. Most people make allowances for the continuation of generic small talk already under way, or, in residential buildings, for neighborly amenities. The orthodox enforcers of silence—the elevator Quakers—must suffer the moderates or the serial abusers, as they cram in exchanges about the night, the game, the weekend, or the meal.

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To the Twitter Naysayers: Just Give It A Try

I don't want to comment on the premise of his post (which is not to say I don't agree or disagree with it), but I liked what Steve Hall had to say about Twitter:

It's pretty much guaranteed you'll interpret this as idiotic puffery but until you use Twitter, really use it for a while, you won't really understand what you're missing and you don't really have the right to comment. Seriously. Give it a try.

As the only user of Twitter at work, I get asked about the merits of it all the time. I love Twitter and find it a valuable resource for everything Steve mentions: "IM, email, mobile app, chat room, focus group, news source, a wall on which to bounce ideas, a research resource, presence indicator," but I have a hard time getting that across to people. I get told by people that Twitter pointless and a huge waste of time, but without having tried it, they really don't have a right to comment. Next time Twitter comes up in conversation, I'll respond simply with, "just give it a try."

Thanks for the advice, Steve.

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Lifehacker Condones Software Piracy

It always infuriates me when large tech blogs have seemingly innocuous posts on how to get "free" applications or violate EULAs (like CrunchGear did back when Leopard was released by telling advising readers to split a copy of the OS to get it for half off).

It happened again yesterday when Lifehacker linked to an article instructing users on how to get the apps included in the iPod touch's $20 January update for free. Whether or not you agree with Apple's decision to charge $20 for apps that came for "free" on the iPhone, stealing the apps is wrong. If you don't feel $20 is worth it, you aren't entitled to get the apps for free. It's as simple as that.

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