Abu Dhabi wants you to reregister your car every year. And let me tell you, there may be no taxes, but my wallet doesn't see the difference between a tax and a fee ...That said, they're pretty effective, given the general circumstances of the country. For example, it's the time of the year where you get to pay your fines, which usually come as a surprise - because you NEVER get the SMS that tells you you've been caught speeding. It's also the day I realized that in fact, I have a Horse, not a car (thanks to Rob for pointing that out - only a Texan could've thought that one up):
Sadly, it's also the day I realized my horse needed new hooves:
To be fair, I hadn't changed them once in three years, with the sand and heat.
Oh well, at least it's not like it was busy.
It wasn't as bad as this Rihanna concert, but Muse succumbed to the same syndrome a lot of these A- list players do: “*It's a captive audience of idiots who live in the desert and have too much money - why would we get out our A game?*”
Well, for starters because we paid a an arm and a leg to come see you, and just because we don't live in New York doesn't mean we're hicks.
And second, because it's starting to show. Jay-Z is a top notch entertainer. I really can't stand his music, but he's an absolute pro at interacting with his public. The result? the largest audience my wife's ever seen at Du Arena, and she had a blast even though she didn't know his act. Muse, on the other hand, was the highest exodus of spectators we've ever seen at a concert here. despite the -admittedly impressive - pyrotechnics; I could've put the radio on a bit loud in my garden, and it would've been exactly the same - nice background music to have a chat with friends.
My theory is that, contrary to other venues, Abu Dhabi and Dubai probably offer very attractive packages to artists to perform - as an incentive to come to these untested waters. I'd bet they guarantee revenue even if attendance is low, or something like this. And some performers probably see this as an excuse to give a “relaxing” gig. The Grand Prix probably skews this even more, with the promise of a captive audience.
What I don't get is how, in an age where album sales are increasingly irrelevant, and notoriety is built on interaction, bands can continue to take this short sighted view of things.
That said, judging from yesterday nights twitter feed, the die hard fans where really happy. But the fact that - arriving late - I managed to walk up with no effort to the middle of the stadium tells a different story: even Abu Dhabi fans are starting to tire of being fooled.
Here's to hoping tonight's Dépêche Mode concert is better.
In 2010, we moved from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi, which meant we managed to see both Grand Prix. This was Bahrain's last Grand Prix before the troubles. A well oiled machine, 10 years running. For a first time visit, quite impressive and fun. Since then, I'm not sure what it's like - but I'm not sure I could go in the context. By contrast, the Abu Dhabi grand prix in 2010 was dismal. Poorly organised, a mess of misdirections (we missed the Pit Lane walk because the opening hour given on the web site was in fact the closing time ...), and with very little fun on the side. We've decided to go back this year - mostly because of the concerts in the evening (Muse and Depeche Mode). And so far, we're gearing up to a much more enjoyable experience than last time - everything is on time, the info seems accurate, and the package is much more "professional" than before. Just look at the ticket book: It's a pop up affair that must've cost a bundle (well, the tickets ain't cheap, either - although, again, they're cheaper than last time ...). Of course, there's still some signs of behind-the-scenes running around: for one, they're giving away tickets to the first concert (Jay-Z). Probably means they haven't sold nearly enough.
Anyway, I can't wait to go and test my fuji's for the week end. Watch this space.
item 1. - I was asked the other day how many Apple devices we have at home 1.
item 2. - When Apple announced their new product line-up and I told my wife, her reaction was: "Promise me you're not buying any of them."
item 3. - I've recently broken off my 5 year affair with Canon, almost on a whim, to buy a fixed lens rangefinder-like camera from Fuji, a company I barely knew existed.2
Given all this, I guess you could say that I have a Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S, hat tip to Zack Arias, a photographer and wonderful educator, for coining the term.) The way I see it, though, is that I have a passion for thoughtful tools.
You see, what the MacBook Air and the X100s have in common is that they are designed with clarity of purpose and most importantly, with strongly held opinions 3. This makes them better tools for us, humans. Because we can interact with them, and through them, with the designers. Because they free us to do our task (job / work / play whatever) yet constrain us enough that we can be creative. Because they respect us, even if they disagree with us. And yes, of course, because all this makes them more beautiful.
I know this is a strange way of seing things. But only because we're surrounded by objects and interactions that are mostly designed "by default". We're surrounded by indecision. The buttons on a machine are placed by the engineer for manufacturing reasons. The font on your presentation is Calibri 4 because that's the default in powerpoint these days. And we are so used to this non-decision that we take it for normal. When a tool or a service comes along that has been thoughtfully built, we dismiss it as hipster-chic or snobbish.
Yet I am hopeful, because Apple is conning us. Their tools have always been thoughtful. 5 But they have not been popular until the last decade. And they are not popular because they're thoughtful. They're popular for the wrong reasons. They're popular because they're "cool". They're popular because they're "elite". Stealthily, we have been exposed to thoughtful design in a mass market context, without seeing it coming. And now, we can see that thoughtful products are in fact, better. Hopefully, enough consumers are starting to change their perception that thoughtful design becomes a valid business model, not just the niche it's always been.
That's what I think Fuji has been doing in the past few years with their cameras. I know little about them, and their transformation is still recent, but all the signs point this way. Here are a few:
The X100 was not a "retro" camera. It was a camera that used interface elements of old cameras, iterated over the years, because they made sense. And yes, from that, they look cool and retro, but as a consequence.
The X100s is an iteration of the X100. It's a refinement. It's changed where it makes sense, or where the X100 fell short. But it speaks the same language, and it makes most of the same choices.
The X100(s) are opinionated cameras. There are few compromises, they reward study and the constraints are well thought out. There is no big green button for full auto mode. Yet the JPEG engine, which most pros and enlightened amateurs scoff at, is so good that some pros confess they shoot jpeg exclusively (at least for their own shots).
And on top of this really good design, they make non-obvious business choices. Not only do they deliver firmware updates that enhance major functionalities of the cameras, but they release them for discontinued models 6. That, as for Apple, is the sign that Thoughtful Design is finally coming to maturity.
So in the end, why does this thoughtfulness matter? Well, initially, because it makes for better, more useful tools for all of us. We do get to play with cool toys, and we do get to create beautiful things with them. But ultimately, if this catches on, I hope it may be part of the answer to our disposable mentality, both in the physical and the cultural world. We are starting to see thoughtful answers to the likes of Facebook and Google. I can't wait for one of them to truly gain momentum.
- the answer is 11 ↩
- I swapped this for this ↩
- yes, I also believe you should hold strong opinions lightly ↩
- Arial if you've really angered the gods ↩
- A 25 year old Steve Jobs obsessed on the typography on 8 bit screens. ↩
- if you have a X100, the latest firmware update brings you the single most useful function you where still lacking from the X100s ↩