Monday, May 24, 2010

What I Think Lost Was About

*** Spoilers Ahead ***

Adding insult to injury, the dumbasses at ABC added the final images of the plane wreckage on the beach to the Lost finale so the "transition to the nightly news was softened". The wreckage wasn't actually part of the show. WTF? That changes everything and I really wanted to stop thinking about this POS. Giving up on my "it was all purgatory" theory, this semi-official Bad Robot post by a writer that worked on Lost has to be the best explanation of anything I've read on what happened on the show. It was still religious crap though.

Original Post

I only feel relief Lost is over. This is the second big TV series for me, Battlestar Galactica was the first, that appeared to be sci-fi but were really Trojan horses for religion. When Battlestar Galactica ended this way, I was so deeply invested in the show it crushed me. I was prepared to be disappointed in Lost, but after the show ended in the worst possible scenario, I am going to be extremely cautious about watching any long running serialized sci-fi show. If you're watching one of these shows right now, here's how you might spot one of these shapeshifters:

WARNING: If your "sci-fi" show runners start talking about how the show is about "the characters" when asked for answers to various unanswered plot holes, watch out, the answer to your plot questions might all be "god did it". Cancel your season pass, bittorrent searches, or get a refund from iTunes.

This is not to say that a sci-fi show needs to be able to scientifically explain everything shown on screen, their is a difference between magic and religion.

Magic > Religion
Magic in a science based show is not the same as religion. Magic are feats that are unexplainable with our current technology. For example, the communicator in Star Trek The Original Series I argue was magic for people that watched the show live. Viewers accepted it and the show never explained how it worked, no technobabble. Less than 20 years after the show, we had the functional equivalent.

A religious show is one that foists the dogma of a religious institution(s) on its viewers without calling them out by known names. If I knew what I was watching in Lost for sure before last nights finale, I would have turned it off long ago and never looked back. When you have to hide your religious propaganda for fear of losing viewers, it is not the same as magic as a plot device, and it borders on proselytizing.

Stargate SG-1: Science, Magic, Religion and Gods Done Right
By comparison, Stargate SG-1 treated the possibility of gods and associated ideas as alien species. Some were benevolent, and earth stories of myth were created by a technologically simple people to explain the wonders witnessed, e.g. teleportation. Other aliens abused their advanced technology to trick simple people into worshipping them, purely for the adulation or their own financial enrichment. These were the shows bad guys. That part of the show was great.

Which brings us back to what Lost was about
After perhaps season 2 or 3 of Lost, I suspected after reading numerous theory sites we were getting the old bait and switch. It looked like a sci-fi show, but its really about religion. Not even religion as a plot device, but the point of the whole show was to document a religious process. I continued watching because I do love a good mystery, and at least Lost provided that. After seeing the finale, if you are still confused about what the show was about, you have over-thought what you just saw. I could easily be wrong, but here's what I think happened on Lost:

A plane with a lot of people crashed on an island and died.

If you are an atheist like me, here's what happened after the plane crash:

The End.

If you are a christian, the explanation of what the show was has been hiding in plain site all along. Jack's father is Christian Shephard. More precisely, Jack's father is a christian shepherd. Here's what Lost meant:

Dead passengers were not ready to go to heaven, they went to purgatory, the island. This holding cell for sinners created tests to determine if they were going to heaven or hell. Like a dream, it won't all make sense. By the end of the series, everyone but Linus was ready to go to heaven.

That's it. I am not going to watch the show over again to try and convince myself there was something else there, that I missed a plot point, it really was all internally consistent and there is another explanation. There isn't. The end of the series, the last 10 minutes, could only been more clear if Christian Shephard had said:

Jack, you died when the plane crashed. You were a mess of a person when that happened. The island is purgatory and you worked out all your issues of being alone and not believing in god there. Good thing you didn't let the island break apart and sink into hell. Now your ready to go to heaven. Just give me a second while I open the pearly gates.
Was the island real at all? No, I argue for one simple reason. The last shot of the show is intended to hammer this home, the beach is littered with a broken up crashed airplane and NO PEOPLE. That was the only real shot of the island you saw the entire series. Even if the island were real in the show, it doesn't matter, the island is still purgatory.

What about Fringe?
Fringe appears to be Bad Robot's (J.J. Abrams television and movie production company that made Lost makes Fringe) antidote for Lost. By the end of season 1 and now through season 2, Fringe has been moving fast. There has been very little that seems likely or even possible they could attempt to answer with religious explanations. The plot and the characters are evolving together and so far remain internally consistent, at least it seems that way to me.

I felt like writing this was necessary to move on with my life, nearly 4 days of which were spent watching Lost. It certainly did not deserve that time. The older I get and the larger the disappointments become, the more I conclude that no individual entertainment is worth committing that much time to. So if nothing else, I thank Lost for showing me that what has been lost was my time.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tip: Merging Interface Builder XIB Files Easier with Same Version Settings

Last month I posted Setting XIB Deployment & Development Targets Correctly. The article explains Interface Builder version settings in each XIB file and recommends sane settings to keep busywork to a minimum.

During a Subversion merge operation from the iTimeZone 1.3.5 branch to the trunk, I just about started to cry looking at merging the one XIB file I had changed on the branch. It was hundreds of lines of conflicts and not much had really changed. Why was their such a conflict?

Turns out that changing Deployment Target and Development Target in a XIB file dramatically restructures the XML. The large number of conflicts I was seeing, all gone once I had the inbound branch version of my XIB on the same version settings as the trunk.

This message on explains the ongoing changes to XIB files to make them more efficient and readable. Just make sure you sync versions before doing merges.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Tip: iPhone only apps can NOT include iPad size icons

Update 2
Here is the exact error message iTunes Connect shows:

The binary you uploaded was invalid. The Info.plist contains the key CFBundleIconFiles, which may not be used in applications that do not target the iPad device family. Use CFBundleIconFile instead.

After thinking about this some more, still might be possible with a truly "iPhone-only" app to get better icons on iPad by building against iPhone OS 3.2, keeping deployment target as 3.1.3. Have to try that tomorrow...

Even though including iPad size icons and CFBundleIconFiles in Info.plist worked fine across the non-iPad devices I have running 3.1.3, iTunes Connect auto-rejects an app if it includes CFBundleIconFiles. Also note that the Valid Build Product step that Jeff LaMarche blogged about does not catch this!

Original Post
The iPad has landed! Like somewhere over 1 million people, I got my iPad 3G last Friday. First thing I did was load up all the apps I own, including mine, iTimeZone.

Immediately noticed that the icon looked like shit. Upscaling from 57px to 72px was not kind to iTimeZone. I was a few hours from shipping iTimeZone 1.3.5, a bugfix release, but I couldn't leave the icon in that state, what a bad first impression. Sure the app is being run either letter & pillar boxed, or pixel doubled, but I couldn't quickly whip up iTimeZone for iPad. Maybe though I could universalize iTimeZone for iPhone's icons so they at least look good on iPad for users that don't eventually buy iTimeZone for iPad.

After looking at a bunch of resources, this Apple article App Icons on iPad and iPhone spells out exactly what you have to do in iPhone-only, iPad-only, or Universal Apps for icon settings. It doesn't make it clear if you can follow the Universal directions for an iPhone-only app. Turns out you can.

I've testing the directions on an iPhone 3G, iPad 3G, and original iPod touch, works perfectly. Even better, I re-resized the iPhone icon from the original 512x512 source icon, and the latest version of Flying Meat's Acorn makes even the small sizes much crisper than before, score!