Friday, February 20, 2009

Busted mall screen

Someone please call tech support
London, ON, January 2009 [Click all images to enlarge]

About these photos: We're having fun with "busted" stuff this week. Please click here to visit the Thematic Photographic entry that started it all.
On a massively snowy morning a few weeks ago, I found myself running some errands at the local mall - the one I vocally whine about whenever I get a chance, but still quietly patronize because, well, I'm a hypocrite and I need to buy stuff. While I waited for the folks at the photo store to finish my pictures, I wandered the mall listening to strange music on my BlackBerry and IMing clients who thought I was sitting in my office. On the Internet, apparently, people may not think you're a dog, but they have no idea you're dodging mall-walkers beside the popcorn store.

But I digress.

As I moseyed past the food court - ever the fascinating sea of displaced and bemused humanity - I looked up at the ubiquitous screens and noticed something funny. Now, let us clarify: I don't terribly appreciate these screens. Rather, I loathe them. I resent having my every bodily sense assaulted with come-ons to buy things I don't need. It bugs me that every visible surface in our modern society absolutely must have some form of advertising on it. And if you can make it an interactive screen, the marketing mavens assume, so much the better.

Ick. All I want is peace.

But on this morning, the geek in me couldn't help but smile at the honking error message in the middle of the vaunted screen. It was too good to be true. Well, for me, anyway. No one else seemed to notice a thing. So anaesthetized were they to the endless streams of messaging that they simply tuned this one out, mistake and all. Either that or they just didn't care.

That is until the smiling guy in the sober gray trench coat, black beret and heavy winter boots wandered into optimal shooting position, pulled out a DSLR, raised it and started to shoot. Magically, lots of people looked up. Thankfully, Mall Cop was nowhere to be seen. Heads turned to follow the path of my lens. A couple of folks figured it out and nodded toward me. Everyone else blankly stared into space before returning to their waiting breakfast burritos.

Fifteen seconds after the moment began, it was over. The camera went back into its bag and the guy in the trench coat - that would be me, and I have an annoying habit of referring to myself in the third person - disappeared into the growing late-morning crowd.

Your turn: Do you get stares when you pull your camera out? How do you handle 'em?


Mike Wood said...

i saw a really cool one on a banking machine in the Galleria a few years ago. It was running win NT and was one of those generic machines. it had crashed and rebooted to the login scree. couldnt log into it but it was damn funny. I had a pic, but its long since gone. :)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it was not a technical error, but was in fact the machine becoming sentient.
Once it realized that its purpose in the life it had gained was to transmit information about vapid celebrities and the lifestyles of the idle rich to the great unwashed masses, it committed suicide.
Proving that the machines are smarter than humans.

Steve Jobs

Michael K. Althouse said...

Ya, I just keep shooting. I especially like it when some aspiring authority fugue tells me I can't.

As far as that warning is concerned...

someone should click ok - just to see what happens.

Tanya sent me this time, but it's always good to visit here.


Anonymous said...

That's fantastic... Almost as good as when self-serve kiosks have bluescreened. Nothing like a BSOD on your ATM or Airport Check-in kiosk... heh.

Netchick sent me.

mw said...

I too love the spectacle of a crashed kiosk. I was in an airport once and watched a whole bank of DOS based computers have their ASCII graphics interrupted with a register dump. Beautiful and a bit frightening, being at the airport and all.

I have a photo somewhere of a women absolutely glaring at me with unconcealed anger, and behind her, a bit out of focus, is my 3-1/2 year old son climbing a small tree.

I was so intent on getting the shot as it was taking place that I didn't even notice the woman. I'm presuming she thought I was blatantly taking her picture, as she was quite lovely (well, except for the glare of hatred - that detail marred the beauty a bit).

Very fun post - thank you!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

My camera is slightly larger than 3 of my fingers and hard for anybody to notice what I am doing. MY WIFE, on the other hand, has noticed that I snap pics of her which I think are funny then I blog them and she doesn't really care for that at all...

Pamela said...

had it peaked through just a bit up and to the right, it would have been Justin Timberlane Adobe Flashes Katie Couric.


Cloudia said...

Carmi: your writing makes the mundane engrossing. I resent the assault too. Aloha-

Anonymous said...

Carmi, you crack me up. I thought only us Southerners used the word 'honking'. Dude. Just took me back to high school with that one.

Yep. I've gotten a few stares. I just smile and giggle and keep shooting. They usually just smile back and keep walking.

I made friends with my local barber recently and asked him if I could shoot him shaving a client, up close and personal. It was a blast! They both thought I was a bit crazy, but afterward we sat around talking about the war in Iraq, their service in WWII, my grandpa, and other memories.

It was a memory I won't forget.

David Edward said...

its weird, but funny that you are among the few in the mall capable of human reaction. but suppose this... what if the hard drive monitoring the security cameras noted your strange behavior and has started searching its face recognition software for your name. the next message may read, "yes, Carmi we know it is broken, just leave your money and go home like all the rest of the sheep, please"

Dale Challener Roe said...

As someone who got a degree in advertising, but never actually got a job, I find this deliciously ironic.

NetChick sent me today...

BTW, thank you very much for the kind words you left me yesterday. At the moment they came through, they were very appreciated.

MorahMommy said...

Since I am out with you a lot, I'm the one who gets the stares and the questioning looks. I just smile, shake my head a little and then watch the magic. At times it gets to be too much and I tell you to "put that thing away!"

You remind me of the mounties..."they always get their man" You're SuperCarmi...."he always gets his shot"

I just continue to smile (not always gracefully, I admit sometimes it's a grimace) and sometime I just walk away, like I don't know that weird guy lying on the floor, pointing his camera up at something!


Anonymous said...

I get stares when I take pictures of road signs and buildings. It makes me a little bit uncomfortable, but I do it anyway. I did have to explain myself once, as I snapped away at town hall after-hours.

As another mall hypocrite, I feel your pain of audio/visual assault.

rashbre said...

I smile when I see these kind of signs and sometimes take a picture too.

I'm sometimes surprised at how much technology is being used to put up a sign with a few words.

The Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy is right about the machines.

And there's usually a way to take the picture between cameras, phones, PDAs and similar!

Anonymous said...

I have had the screen frozen.
Your computers belong to us.
The day the earth stood still has arrived.
You have 24 hours for humanity to give up your wicked ways.

If you fail and continue on with the insanity that is humanity I will be forced to take over the planet and make everyone wear a snuggie !

You will cuddle kittens and puppies and dance in fields of daisies.

Your sins will be absorbed by the Great Shamwow !

Clap on or clap off, the choice is yours.

Ed McMahon