February 2010
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Would the real Caesar please stand up?

The mug shot below is definitely not mine, although it definitely should be.


I have no idea who this is. At least it’s a dude, I suppose, but something has gone a little bit awry between taking the photo and sending the postcard.

iTunes had told me there was an update available to the crummy Caesars Palace iPhone app, and as the version had leapt from 1.0 straight to 1.3 you might have expected great things of it.

But you’d be disappointed.  In fact the product description still claims this is a “beta” release (which, clearly, is still a pipe dream) and the only change that it brags across three minor version numbers is a “new dining menu”.

Nevertheless, the app did tease me with an exciting new undocumented function: the addition of an “open in Safari” button in the toolbar of on most pages.  This would provide users with a way to capture some of its information for later offline viewing (so that, for example, it did not take 30 seconds and incur data roaming charges for overseas guests to view the property map).  Guess what?  That button actually does nothing.

Still, there was something of an enhancement to the “send a postcard” feature.  As you can see above, at least the template now actually has space to fit the photo that you take.  That’s a significant improvement on the last version, but however shit it looked before, fixing that should be secondary to making sure the right photo gets sent to the right recipient.

Otherwise it’s just going to be creepy.

I dread to think who ended up with the picture of yours truly, which I took only to test the postcard feature and expecting that nobody other than myself would ever see it.  The email comes from a no-name Caesars Palace address and there’s no option to add a personalised message, which might have given them a clue that it was broken.  It just says “A special message from your friend”.

Of course, I was pulling a stupid grin when I was playing about with this.  I bet I looked pretty special to whoever was unlucky enough to get that postcard.

Actually, given that I sent two of these to myself and they both came through with the same (wrong) picture, I have a suspicion of what’s messing it up.

I bet this feature would work just fine if only one person ever used it.  The problem is its immense popularity.  As soon as a second user comes along and smiles sweetly for the camera, he overwrites the first photo with his own.

So when you are sent a postcard, you have a small window of opportunity to view it as it was intended.  If you’re too slow, you’re in for a surprise.

Check it out if you like.  The image URL embedded into both emails I got is:  I thought the “UQ==” part might have been a unique identifier that was assigned to each photo uploaded.  That probably would have worked out OK though, because using upper and lower case letters, numbers and a few symbols, even just a four character filename could handle more than 20 million photos before it started overwriting the first one.

But I’ve tried guessing other values and found nothing but “404 Not Found” errors.  What I’m expecting, though, is that by the time you click on the URL above, the picture you see will probably be nothing like the one I posted above.

If I’m right, it could be amusing to keep checking back to that link to see what changes over the next few days.  Presumably, every time someone sends a postcard from the app, we’ll get to see some stupid pose that they thought was only going to be seen by a close friend.

If anyone catches a good one, either though this or through trying to make a postcard of yourself, send it to me and I’ll add it to the post!

6 comments to Would the real Caesar please stand up?

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