my letter to viirginmobileusa

I am not enjoying my new phone:

This phone has the worst user experience of any phone I have ever used over the past 18 years, and it is Virgin’s fault. (I actually quite like HTCs phone).

It is bloated with so much crapware that there is little space left to use the smartphone for its intended purpose (at 67 photos, there is no room left; I have only 87 mb of apps installed). I’ve had it about 5 days. Every time I arrange the home screen and wallpaper to my liking “apps we love” rides in (3 times so far in the last 3 days), reinstalls crapware I have previously painstakingly deleted or at least disabled, deletes my widgets and home screen arrangements and puts Virgin’s idea of what I should have on my home screen there instead. After you guys are through with it it looks like someone else’s phone. (The wallpaper looks like a cross between Christmas wrapping paper and someone’s fever dream of an 80s nightclub. Not pleasant.)

I wouldn’t tolerate this in a free app; why should I tolerate it in a phone I am spending money on?

Far from providing a good experience that makes me want to engage more with Virgin’s products (which is surely the intent of stuff like “apps we love” etc) this daily barrage of destructive interference has basically destroyed the functionality of my smartphone and has certainly made me want to steer well, well clear of Virgin’s cellphone business in future.

Perhaps the least satisfactory consumer experience of my life. It’s not the end of the world, obviously, but it is the sheer left-hand-not -knowing-what-the-right-is-doing-ness of it, reducing a decent enough phone into merely an annoyance that gets me.

I actually like the phone. But it cannot support what Virgin are intent upon making it into: a non-customisable ad platform that I am actually paying you to use. It’s laughable, really.

This is a pay as you go phone I am using for an extended stay in the United States. It’s unacceptable. I can and will move to another supplier unless steps are taken to remedy this. but really, why has it come to this? I just wanted a cheap phone to put photos on Facebook, keep in touch with pals, and read a couple of pages on the subway. Apparently that’s asking too much for $40 a month.

I’m not angry. And I certainly know that it’s not Virgin’s support teams who are at fault. (This being a strategic-size bit of screwuppery and all. If anything I am sorry they have landed you all in it again with such a poorly thought-out product.)

But I think it is shameful that what is obviously intended as a positive marketing strategy is overwhelming my whole experience of using your product. Teams of people your end have worked hard to try to make something nifty that will keep customers coming back. It’s astonishing that they should fail quite so hard. Right now what I am paying Virgin for is not a communication device, it’s a frustration device.

In short, they really need to get it together. I hope you can help.

[And get off my lawn while you’re about it you kids you. I probably ought to reserve my energies for going through the treadmill of customer frustration triage they’ll use to shed all but the most determined complaints ( that’s yer standard 21st century corporate operating procedure, of course), but it relieves my feelings a little to write it out.]

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Once again the suggested donation of $25 successfully evaded with the more-appropriately liberal bestowing of a fiver instead. They’ll still get their pound of flesh, but over several visits. I also took the chance to join the library. I found the Greek stuff completely amazing and I want to research it a bit more. I’ll be posting a gallery of a it’d from my camera when I get home.


Right now I am taking shelter from the rain rain rain in the green cafe on 88th and Lexington avenue which is a sandwich place on the way back to the subway. I’m also letting the subway rush die down a bit as I was literally against the glass yesterday. Fun once, not twice. Especially since I’m a tourist and the heart are mostly working folks. If I can make it slightly less awful (for both them and me) by stopping for a coffee, then so be it. Disclaimer: I am also having a sandwich.

Art Day in Chelsea

Andrew and I met up with a couple of his students today and went down to Chelsea to have a look at some galleries. We started in at Hauser & Wirth where there was a gigantic construction resembling a whale’s skeleton made up out of the steel components of a building’s frontage tortilla-d up and rolled into a cone. It was pretty amazing.

But I think my highlight was getting to have my picture taken with tiny Paul McCartney:


There was other stuff, too. Here’s a quick gallery with some. I also particularly enjoyed a show by Matthew Ritchie, and I want to get a couple of books by him entitled “The Temptation of the Diagram” which look great.

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By the end of the day we’d walked 7 miles in the city, so my feet are a bit sore. I’m going to pick up some insoles/ arch supports or suchlike.

Stopped for a rest on the way back…


Some more stuff from the Cloisters

It was really fantastic visiting the Cloisters, and super handy from Andrew’s place. I’ll be back.

(Click on the thumbnail images to view the larger versions.)

Today we’re off to visit some art galleries around Chelsea.

At the Cloisters

Andrew Makes Some Bread

Andrew is making some bread…

Jane Hirschfield Poem

Here’s a Jane Hirschfield poem that caught my eye today:


As the house of a person
in age sometimes grows cluttered
with what is
too loved or too heavy to part with,
the heart may grow cluttered.
And still the house will be emptied,
and still the heart.

As the thoughts of a person
in age sometimes grow sparer,
like a great cleanness come into a room,
the soul may grow sparer;
one sparrow song carves it completely.
And still the room is full,
and still the heart.

Empty and filled,
like the curling half-light of morning,
in which everything is still possible and so why not.

Filled and empty,
like the curling half-light of evening,
in which everything now is finished and so why not.

Beloved, what can be, what was,
will be taken from us.
I have disappointed.
I am sorry. I knew no better.

A root seeks water.
Tenderness only breaks open the earth.
This morning, out the window,
the deer stood like a blessing, then vanished.

(You can buy a collection including this poem here.)

thinking about Wilson Art Full Text

Having a play about with the Wilson art full text database. I used it a lot for my Fine Art PhD but not so much subsequently in the information and library management MSc. It’s interesting to look at from a different perspective now, trying to see if it makes any sense to have it for the public library in Bristol. It would be a wonderful reference resource, but is definitely more useful for academic research than for browsing, even though it has a fair amount of pdf full text (and hence, reproduction after a fashion, of the visual material). I’m remembering Susie Cobbledick’s research about the information practices of artists and others on what artists want from libraries, and it comes down to having the (usually physical) materials available to form up into whatever process is right for the artist – and this may differ pretty widely from academic/ information literacy-type practices familiar elsewhere.

That said, there are some art journals that really cater more for theory and research than they really offer to artists, and its the extent to which Wilson offers these that it’s really useful. I could envisage replacing some of these physical subs with digital ones, and even envisage – subject to the usual caveats about the ongoing relationship with the provider – the possibility of disposing of some old back runs of more-commonly-held, more ‘research-y’ back runs.

It would certainly amplify the research potential of the art library, especially given its strength in monographs over the last 25-30 years. I don’t think it would necessarily help the artist-researcher as much, geared as it is to a more academic approach – though I may be mistaken there, too. So long as it wasn’t taken as a signal to dispense with the more visually-oriented subs (and I’m thinking not so much of the antiques and collectors’ subs here as much as the contemporary art and craft subs) I think it would be a real step forward.