Bug Report: travel with Kiehl’s products

kiehls1.jpg For the last 20 years of my life, I washed my face with regular body soap whenever I was in the shower. I was also plagued by oily skin (still am). Three years ago, a friend showed me the wonders of Kiehl’s products. I eventually found a face cleanser that became a life saver. I always thought it was dumb that I could be 30 years old and still get a zit, but that basically doesn’t happen any more. For the first time in my life, I have clear clean skin (that gets oily after a few hours, but still).

The problem is even though the small 4oz bottle has a cap that gives a satisfying “snap” when you close it, I can’t keep the thing closed and sealed when I fly.

It started a couple years ago, when I flew across the country and the bottle exploded in my toiletries bag. After that, I started flying with it in a ziplock bag, and every flight afterwards has ended with some leakage of blue goo. I tried stowing my toiletries separate in an overhead bin. I’ve tried it deep within checked luggage. Always, the same result.

kiehls2.jpg

I’ve bought several bottles of the stuff and every time I fly, I still get the leak in the cap. It surprises me that this has continued for a couple years because I figure the kind of people that pay a lot for cleansers would typically be people that fly a lot and they’d solve this.

Suggestions for a fix: I think it’s time to rethink the friction-held cap. Perhaps a screw top, perhaps one of those caps with the tube that folds over to make a definite seal? Maybe make a travel-only cap for flying? Or I guess I could continue with the ziplock bags and maybe use tape, but it seems like something easy Kiehl’s could fix.

update: Kiehl’s customer service got back to me with a nice note suggesting that due to cabin pressure, the caps they use now will tend to open up a bit and suggest putting tape over them when you travel (duh, I didn’t think to try that). A friend suggested the same tape remedy and noted if they moved to a more reliable cap it would likely be harder to flip open with a single finger, as they work now. I guess I’ll start taping up the bottles when I travel now, but it was great to hear I wasn’t alone in this.

Bug Report: Gawker Media’s photo galleries

I’m going to try something new here, doing little posts called “bug reports”. I guess I could submit this to This Is Broken, but there’s sort of a negative connotation with that because everyone just piles on in the comments and I just want to help people out by clearly laying out bugs I’ve found so they can improve their product and I can enjoy a better experience.

Today I’m mentioning the photo gallery hack that Gawker sites like Lifehacker and Jalopnik use because I see them everyday and have learned to avoid them because I don’t think they really work all that well. There are two main problems here:

1. RSS readers like reblog display escaped php in the entry. Perhaps it’s just my web-based reader but I don’t get anything useful from something like this (screenshot of a lifehacker post with a gallery):

FirefoxScreenSnapz001.png

2. Using the galleries themselves is cumbersome. With OSX/Firefox, when I click on an image, a few moments later, the blog entry reloads, and I have to manually scroll down to see the image. Clicking on Next properly jumps back down, but requires another page load, which can be slow. At times I’ve given up after 1 or 2 photos because the reloads are taking 10-20 seconds.

Here is a video of that in action

I have the feeling that the gallery works the way it does to encourage more pageviews, for advertising purposes, but it results in a poor experience for users. I tend to not even look at galleries and instead follow whatever links are in the entries to see photos somewhere else.

Suggestions for a solution: The easiest thing would just be using MT’s built in image popup links. Or you could dump them into a Flickr set. Best solution would be an in-page dhtml widget that could show the first photo and cycle through them all without requiring any page loads at all, so visitors could quickly and painlessly view an entire gallery in seconds without losing their place or forced to wait for server responses.

Behind the Video: Star Wars MacBook

I made a video for a dozen friends to laugh at my geekiness, and so far it’s gotten as high as #3 most popular video and over 100,000 views on YouTube. I thought I’d recap some details and things I’ve learned from the process.

– I first saw MacSaber on Sunday morning, on MetaFilter. It was the only place I saw it at first, and I immediately thought of all the cool things you could do with the motion sensor, the most obvious being using a light saber simulator to do a parody of the star wars kid.

– On most blogs, even with a somewhat technically minded and art-appreciating audience, the first reaction for most people was about dropped laptops and hard drives destroyed by motion sensor toy apps like MacSaber. Some people can’t see innovation when it’s right in front of their faces. The SmackBook is the first in a long list of innovative uses of the SMS.

– I placed an order for a MacBook the day it came out, so it could replace my three year old 12″ powerbook, and it shipped early, arriving Monday afternoon of this week. I unpacked it around 3pm, got it up and running and at 4pm loaded up MacSaber and did a few attempts at the joke.

– I filmed it with the iSight in my G5 iMac, using iMovie ’06. It was super easy to do a take, review it, and do another one.

– It took about ten tries before I got enough movement and a funny moment worth keeping (a slight slip, and the stare at the end).

– After I uploaded it to YouTube, it took about 45 minutes to get approved. In the past it’s taken 5 minutes so they’re either swamped and doing it by hand still, or maybe having “star wars” in the title is a red flag that requires review just in case I uploaded a copy of the movie or something.

– I sent the URL to about a dozen friends (mostly bloggers) on IM. One of them was Andy Baio. Kottke and Cory Doctorow both read my feed, and linked it. Hitting the trifecta of kottke.org, waxy.org, and boingboing.net pretty much puts you on the internet meme fast track.

– YouTube comments are virtually useless. After the first ten or so from people that read my blog and got the joke of it all, the rest that followed were all variations on “this sucks” “what the hell?” and “I hope he drops it HAHAHA lolz”

– If I had a dollar for every “lol” in a comment on YouTube, I could retire.

– After I hit the popular page (about 12 hours later), 90% of the new comments were links to another video. It was basically comment spam, where users hit every popular video and say “hey! come look at my movie here!” I deleted about 40 of them so far. I just got an actual comment spam to a cafepress store, so I’m now turning them off.

– Some strange offshore video production company asked for redistribution rights. I wouldn’t be surprised if YouTube is in talks with a TV Network. It’d be pretty easy to make America’s Funniest Home Videos every week by just broadcasting the most popular page.

– It probably helps that the movie was only 12 seconds long — it was very little “work” to watch it so I think it spread thanks to that.

– Since I don’t have ads showing on comment pages here, I made no revenue off this. I suspect it could have been worth a couple hundred bucks considering the entry with the video got tens of thousands of views.

– YouTube is a little bit of a walled garden — it could do a better job of promoting users and their own websites, or letting you write HTML descriptions like on Flickr. I noticed lots of videos embed a URL in order to get people to read more about something. I didn’t really get traffic from YouTube to this server, other blogs did a better job.

– I wonder if Apple sold any MacBooks from people watching it and wanting to try it at home.

– The Weblogs Inc. folks linked to it on Engadget and TUAW. One entry called me “youtube user mathowie” and Engadget didn’t even mention me by name (and they used to link to PVRblog all the time). Bonus boo-hoo points to Engadget for suggesting Apple copied the Nintendo Wii controller (even though Apple released laptops with motion sensors in them last year). Do some research people, you’re pro bloggers, yo!

macbook man

Over the weekend, a new app called macsaber came out. The moment I realized that geeks everywhere would be swinging their new laptops around, my first thought was how stupid that must look and how that could easily become another Star Wars Kid parody.

My new macbook showed up today and I downloaded macsaber. The rest is internet history:

I went for accuracy, combing my hair down, putting on tight khakis and a striped tight shirt, and following his first set of movements.

Link to the youtube video