30-Jul-2003 (Wed)
Wherein I give you a tour of the blistering power buried inside my phone.

In case you haven't seen it yet, last month the SF Bay Guardian ran an article about life as a club bouncer entitled "These Aren't My Pants!" It's hilarious and you must all go read it now. I'll wait.

Just for laughs, I tried visiting the DNA Lounge web site on the web browser built into my cell phone. This was pure comedy, I'm telling you! We are so totally not living in the future yet...

It started out ok, aside from being insanely slow (I think it might have actually been dialing a separate call for each pixel). I saw the DNA Lounge logo come up right away, but then it sat there and wouldn't let me scroll for several minutes while it loaded the rest of the page. I had plenty of time to meditate on the fact that the text that I could see was overlapping in a classy way.

Then boom! "Insufficient memory." I hit OK, which I assume "restarted my browser", but really what it meant was, now I was able to scroll around in the page.

After scrolling down, I noticed something else odd. The table of future events seemed to only have column 3 visible: the "buy" link and the text of the date didn't show up at all...

Scrolling more, I was able to see the first two of the six thumbnails (the others hadn't loaded.) The text at the bottom of the page was even readable... But something important was missing. The left-side menu wasn't there at all, meaning there was almost no navigation available. Oops. Well, the link to the Calendar was there, so I clicked on it.

404? WTF? (I guess the gag 404 message that I use is strangely appropriate when being viewed on a phone, huh?) Anyway, some digging around shows that the 404 is because the phone's web browser is buggy: it doesn't understand anchors, and when it sees a URL that ends in "07.html#28", instead of loading "07.html" and scrolling to the "28" anchor, it tries to load the file "07.html#28", which of course doesn't exist. This is a seriously rookie move, and I can't imagine how anything works at all in their browser. Oh wait, I forgot: nothing actually does! Silly me.

Anyway, moving right along, I typed in the calendar URL by hand, which only took me about ten minutes. It looked, uh, arty? Certainly somewhat less than completely legible, as you can see. But at least this time I got overlapping text instead of big chunks of text being just totally missing. It's unclear whether that was an improvement.

In conclusion, I have found that my phone does not make a good web browser, and that we are not yet living in the future. Thank you and good night.

15 Responses:

  1. greyface says:

    You're right. That article about bouncers is goddamn brilliant.

  2. loosechanj says:

    I'm assuming you mean the ones on your ass? It's a phone, you could walk around!

  3. kyronfive says:

    "Duncan Scott Davidson, like most people with master's degrees in creative writing, has spent years toiling in obscurity."

    Hahahahaha. That's so awesome.

  4. naturalborn says:

    For less than they spent writing their broken browser, they could have gotten dillo up to speed.

  5. denshi says:

    Pardon me, but what the fuck? When did bouncers become deputy police officers? Is this RAVE act fallout, or a SF city policy?

    • jwz says:

      I don't know what your "what the fuck?" refers to exactly; if you're wondering why security don't just let people do all the drugs they want, it's because the job of security is to protect the club and its licenses, which means, preventing situations where the real cops will have an excuse to shut the place down. It's simple self-preservation.

      Club security do not have any privileges that normal citizens do not, except that they are acting on behalf of the business owner (normal "reserve the right to refuse service" rules apply.) When they arrest someone, it's a "citizen's arrest", meaning, they can detain them and wait for the real cops to take over.

      Most SF clubs have stipulations on their permits that say that their security staff need to have "guard cards", basically meaning that the security have paid the fee and taken the test to get certified in the same way that rent-a-cops and night watchmen do. (This doesn't in itself mean they're allowed to be armed, that's a different permit; the guard card test is basically about the law and what one can and can't do.) More here.

      This requirement comes from "SF dot-bomb loft nimby" fallout, which predates RAVE fallout by quite a bit.

      • denshi says:

        My 'what the fuck' is more about why the bouncers aren't out and about on the floor, dealing with the egregious fuckheads who seem (as you have previously posted) hell-bent on destroying your club; but instead with a 45 minute line out the door so they can pick though purses and search people's shoes - for each and every person, right? From what i gather from bouncer friends here in Austin, the latter is not something they want to be doing -- they seem to pride themselves on spotting troublemakers, and see searching everyone for boxcutters a waste of time and energy.

        Yeah, with that legal environment those those procedures are necessary. It just surprised me that they had gotten so widespread. I moved away from SF around the time when the cops had just started leaning on 1015; but in the years I was there I had not once been frisked or searched when going to a club. That article makes it sounds like those rules are now the norm rather than the exception, and that seem really disturbing from out here.

        • jwz says:

          Yeah, searches are definitely the norm here now, unless it's a very small event.

          • denshi says:

            I'll trade you a couple thousand "get off my lawn" Texan NIMBYs for a couple thou "are you actually enjoying yourself?!?" West Coast NIMBYs. They tend to shoot each other more often, but they're certainly not up for random searches.

  6. anonymous says:

    (Mitch here)

    1. From my understanding most phones use the browser developed by Openwave (previously tba "phone.com") Their offices are in the next building over in the office park I work in. I'd send them some evil-brain-waves for you but they message would probably end up mis-rendered on the receiving side.

    2. The "overlapping cell-phone font" should be a screensaver

  7. gregv says:

    One of the neat things about Opera 7 is that they build their cell phone page-reformatter into the browser as a demonstration. Hit Shift-F11 and it shows the page as their cell phone browser would. Rather than try to approximate the original design at all, they cut it up and serialize it. I don't know what actually uses it, or how heavy the software is, but it's surprisingly effective. Screenshot of DNA's front page here.

    • gregv says:

      Part of the calendar page here. Their grouping fails a little bit, though. The shading makes it look like the dates go with the previous event. Still, the page remains usable.

  8. anonymous says:

    i was going to buy this phone, but now i think i've been spared the ... privilege.

    isn't the whole idea of wireless browsers (esp. phone-based) that they use WAP or something similar? i can't imagine anything with graphics/tables looking particularly good on a tiny little cellphone lcd, even if the resolution was spectacular.

    http://www.phoebemoon.com/wap.htm
    http://www.wapforum.org/what/technical.htm

    [more OCPD work - haha!]

  9. unabomber says:

    I just checked the DNA Lounge site on the Danger Sidekick, and it's largely functional, although not entirely pretty. Even the calendar page pretty much works.

    What's weird is that the Sidekick doesn't like http://www.jwz.org. After about five minutes of churning, it pukes out an ambiguous error and says that the page is incompatable or something.

    -Jon

  10. anonymous says:

    CHECK IT OUT.