Your Connection Isn’t Good Enough

Because I’m a bit slow on these things, I just learned (or possibly just remembered) that Stephen King’s Dark Tower books are being adapted to comic book form. Or, at least, a chunk of the first book is.

Can you order comics on Amazon? I’ve never done so.

I visited the Marvel Comics website associated with the project to learn more. They’ve got a little trailer for the series, but when I tried to access it I got this cheeky message:

Stephen King DT Trailer UI Message

Really? “A potentially unviewable experience”? Ignoring the fact that ‘unviewable’ is not a word, what exactly are they talking about? Will the trailer become a black hole, absorbing all light? Is it like an eclipse, and it’ll blind me if I look directly at it? Will it Goatse me (if you do not know what that is, do not try to find out–trust me on this)? Or, even worse, will it Gigli me? “Ah! It’s Unviewable!”

The hotel connection was a bit dodgy, but is this really my fault? And even if it is the user’s fault, surely that’s Marvel’s problem to solve. How about offering two different qualities of trailer? How about making it downloadable? In any case, they need a more helpful, friendlier error message.

I did eventually get a chance to watch that trailer, and it was pretty naff. Anybody who’d actually read the books wouldn’t opt for a narrator with that absurd accent.


  1. As regular readers can (and occasionally do) attest, I’m not generally picky about language. After all, my most recent post features the phrase ‘nard-shattering’

    However, error messages should be clear and concise. One way to ensure this is to exclude words which are not found in the dictionary.

    Besides, ‘unviewable’ (meaning, I assume, ‘cannot be viewed) is ambiguous and inaccurate in this context. Apparently the trailer can be viewed, but the video quality won’t be satisfactory.

    Complicate that with the vagaries of ‘will cause a potentially unviewable experience’ and you’ve got yourself one dumb error message.

  2. That’s the brightcove player, right?

    It doesn’t matter what sort of connection I’m on for me – I can be getting 50Kbit or 500Kbit, Brightcove’s player still displays that message to me.

    I’m assuming that because it shows up immediately – that it’s based on round-trip delays, rather than actual throughput. The round-trip delays can be quite poor – Australia-US is somewhere around 150ms, add in the additional routing on each end, and you could be looking at over 300ms.

    I don’t, however, have any problems actually watching the videos – if I give them a chance to cache the first 10-15 seconds.

  3. err.. I should really proof-read what I write.

    “I can be getting 50Kbit or 500Kbit” should be: “I can be getting 50KByte/sec or 500KByte/sec”

  4. I’m tempted to ask the linguistic liberals (I’m one, too!) at Language Log about “unviewable.” I don’t think there’s any dispute, though, that both “viewable” and “unviewed” are words. “Unviewable” seems to follow naturally from those—and, moreover, connotes something different similar forms/words. Note that I’m absolutely not disputing your point that “unviewable” isn’t apt for your experience. But aren’t there some things that are un-view-able?

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