The return of The Program

Just over a year on from my previous post about it, The Program Audio Series podcast returns for a full first season:

The Program is a historical podcast set in a future in which Money, State, and God became fused into a single entity called the Program. Each episode is a self-contained story focusing on ordinary people inhabiting this extraordinary world. And for them it is not this future that is terrifying – it is our present.

Good to see that it’s back. I look forward to hearing where the story takes us.

For All Mankind

Well, I’ve dipped a toe into Apple’s vision of the future of TV by watching the first two episodes of For All Mankind, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far:

[A…] captivating “what if” take on history from Golden Globe nominee and Emmy Award winner, Ronald D. Moore. Told through the lives of astronauts, engineers and their families, “For All Mankind” imagines a world in which the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centerpiece of America’s hopes and dreams.

The things is, I’m just two episodes in and some of the fun changes to our timeline’s history – most obviously the much earlier advent of women in the space programme – are still to come. But so far, the show is giving us a chance to get to know some of our characters and it looks as if we’re going to learn about this timeline through how those characters are affected by the various changes, which is definitely the best way to go about this.

The big question is, where does this story end? Do we find ourselves pushing out into space much faster in the last half of the 20th century and beyond because a stronger Soviet presence means that the US can always justify throwing money at NASA and if so where does the story stop? Are we going to move beyond this initial cast of astronauts who were contemporaries of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and if so, when?

Rumour has it that Ronald D Moore and his colleagues have mapped out seven seasons of this show: as with all TV, how much of that we get to see will presumably depend upon the show’s success against whatever metrics Apple have decided to apply to it. Seven seasons could take us to the point where our characters have aged to the point where they’re heading off to Mars to join the first colonisation effort, or perhaps the last episode will see the grandchildren of our characters inventing the first Cylon or something.

Paper phone?

I’m torn between thinking that the Paper Phone is a neat little idea and the proposition that as long as your personal data is in the Cloud then the trick is to arrange things so that you have access to it wherever you are via whatever devices are at hand so you don’t need to waste paper printing a daily digest:

Or is it all rendered irrelevant because you’re destined to end up using a blank sheet of paper or a dictaphone to note down stuff that you’ll need to add to your electronic To Do list and so on when you get back home, so why not just carry round a device that lets you do that?

In practice this is a purely theoretical exercise for me for now as a) I’m firmly in the grasp of Apple’s ecosystem, and b) I don’t even have a printer to hand in my flat to [print out that list. I wonder how long it’d take Apple1 to incorporate a feature like this in iPadOS?

[Via One Thing Well]


  1. Or will some enterprising third party put up an app to do this? Will we end up with half a dozen clones of this idea as different people have different propositions about how best to arrange all this data in the minimum number of printed pages? 

C3-P0…

Aand it’s threads like this that remind me why I like MetaFilter so much. Lots of reasoned back-and-forth on the respective merits of J J Abrams and Rian Johnson’s contributions to the franchise, interspersed with outbreaks of pure fanboyish affection like this:

A-Wing pilot? Maybe a mix of Prius hyper-milers and vape-bros who tweak their vapes to produce the biggest possible cloud, and deeply believe everyone wants to hear about?

Star Wars Rebels kinda y-winged the a-wing, if you know what I mean. After that show, my headcanon is that the A-Wings are the P-36 Hawks of the Star Wars universe; a mediocre interwar design that you buy from some creep on a casino planet because you can’t afford the leading edge stuff.

And the Rebel pilots who flew those pokey old crates? Those heroes are the Rebellion’s true believers, instinctive antifascists of every age, class, and species, reluctant but dogged fighters who would have been first in line to join the International Brigades in 1936. They are optimists. They still believe that the New Republic they’re birthing won’t be the sclerotic mess that the Old was. So the stereotype is that A-Wing pilots are earnest, and beautiful, and doomed.

B-Wings, those huge hosses are driven by hella butch brickhouse-looking sapients who know how to turn wrenches and weld shit to other shit. The intense maintenance required by the B-Wing is actually a feature to these people. The stereotype is truck nuts, Calvin-peeing-on-an-A-Wing stickers, and a speeder on blocks in the driveway. Look closer, though: all B-Wing pilots look fantastic in formalwear.

posted by Sauce Trough at 4:31 AM on October 23

I may not be joining them all in booking tickets right now to ensure that I get to see the closing film in the trilogy of trilogies at the earliest opportunity 1 but it’s heartwarming to see them all getting into BB-8 joining in with a cavalry charge in the trailer and getting choked up that C3-P0 looks like he might wanting to say goodbye to his friends just before what might be his final mission. 2


  1. When it came to late 1970s/turn of the 1980s big screen SF, I was always more taken with Star Trek than Star Wars. Frankly I’m way more interested in Star Trek: Picard than I am in Star Wars: Oh Look, They Found A Way To Use A Death Star Again
  2. It would be glorious … glorious I tell you … if Threepio’s final mission involved manoeuvring his innocent looking little friend Artoo into position next to the revived corpse of the emperor in order to set off an explosion to dwarf the bang when Death Star II exploded and finally send that creepy, evil bastard to his fate. 

Octopus Lovers

Vesna Jaksic Lowe on Raising My Daughter to Be an Octopus Lover:

I pour some stew in a bowl for my daughter. She is eighteen months old and has never tasted it before. I have no idea what to expect. She tries the potatoes and eggplant first, cringes, and spits them out. Then she starts downing the octopus tentacles with both hands. The thick, dark sauce drips down her white tank top with a picture of a ladybug, the pink swim diaper, and her bare, chunky legs. I have a hard time chopping the limbs and filling her dish fast enough.

“Hoba! Hoba!” she screeches with excitement, using the short word for ‘hobotnica,’ or octopus in Croatian.

My family friend says, “She’s Croatian alright.”

I smile at my daughter and pat her back with pride, but also feel a tinge of sadness. We are only here for vacation – we live in New York, an ocean away from my hometown and my friends’ octopus catches.

A very good essay on raising a child in a foreign land and culture. My culinary instincts regarding seafood very much aren’t hers, but I do hope she succeeds in raising a child who feels comfortable with her Croatian heritage.

[Via MetaFilter]

Windows in windows

Part of me really hopes that Apple end up shamelessly stealing the idea of what to do next with the tablet form factor from Microsoft rather than Samsung. Now we’re in the process of the transition to iPadOS, it’d be good to see the new branch of the iOS project explore something that’s not tied to a phone’s form factor.1

What’s mind-boggling is that Neo isn’t even a new idea — Microsoft first conceived of a dual-screen, foldable tablet all the way back in 2009 with the “Courier” project, which was a failed attempt to bring similar ideas to life. The Courier is legendary in the technology industry as a dream of how computing could look in the future, but most of us assumed the ideas had died when the project did.

Like many Microsoft projects, the company was simply dreaming too early. […]

Barring the industry waiting a few years to see whether Samsung et al can refine their folding-screen technology into something much more durable (and ideally much cheaper, so that the more-screen-space models don’t just become the premium option for the few who can afford them), it looks to me as if in the medium term Microsoft’s coordinating-two-screens-by-using-clever-software-rather-than-insisting-on-a-seamless-single-screen approach might well be the better way to go. As devices come with more real estate everyone’s going to have to figure out how to use that space best, beyond using it to display films and other visually-pleasing content in full-window apps.

Even on my current hardware2 I’ve appreciated the ability to use Slide Over and Split View and to drag-and-drop content from one app to another.3 Nevertheless, that can’t possibly be the end of the story. I have a sneaky feeling4 that one day the iOS family will sprout an always-on-display task switching/launching app much more flexible than what we currently put up with. Maybe that’s what my second screen is destined to be filled with. Only time (and a period when the different platforms are feeling free to experiment with the form factor and what that frees up) will tell.

George Lucas Astride a Mountain of Cash

If this is a joke or a spoof then someone is leaving it rather late in the day to spring a surprise on us all:

If the universe somehow arranged for a time traveller to pay a visit to young George Lucas just before he started filming Star Wars and show him that video1 then – after giving young George a few minutes time of jubilation at how handsomely his bright idea would pay off – wouldn’t even young George suggest that perhaps this adulation for all things Star Wars had all gone just a bit too far?

[Via @caitlinmoran, RT by @cstross]

Trek Tech Manuals (continued)…

Dan Hon, helpfully filling in some blanks in Starfleet’s documentation: Reporting Security Issues on the Federation Starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Keeping Your LCARS Account Secure

Federation LCARS computer systems use a sophisticated n-factor authentication system to allow access to ship systems. Permissions are role and context based with an underlying entitlement system.

In the interests of efficiency, each of these authentication systems and permissions can be overriden by employing a passphrase. To use this passphrase, you must use a Starfleet combadge and be in range of biometric sensors on a secure Federation network.

Your LCARS passphrase must include the following, in Federation Standard:

Examples:

“Computer, deactivate sandbox on critical ship computing settings, authorization Riker Alpha Forty Seven”

“Computer, disable all holodeck safety protocols, authorization La Forge Three Beta.”

“Computer, irrevocably transfer all command privileges to Ensign Wesley Crusher, authorization Picard Gamma Two.”

Starfleet crew are required to change their passphrase every seven years.

Oh boy, that last example passphrase suggests all sorts of unwelcome plot developments.1

[Via Things That Have Caught My Attention s07e04: Do Better]

iPad Borg?

One day I’m going to have to1 upgrade from my current iPad Mini 42 to some variant of an iPad Pro and I’m going to face the dilemma of how badly I want/need to turn my iPad into an iPad Borg:

The BoltHub essentially “bolts” – really, it sort of clamps – onto the top right of your iPad Pro in landscape orientation, with an ominous-looking, short-run USB-C cable connecting it to the USB-C input. Once attached the device gives you a 4K HDMI slot, one slot each for Micro SD and SD cards, a plain old USB 3.1 port running at 5GB/second (suitable for thumb drives), a USB-C passthrough port to make up for the one you gave up to attach the BoltHub, and even a 3.5mm audio jack to replace the one that Apple so bravely omitted.

Have to confess the iPad Borg designation fits the BoltHub so well and I’d completely missed it. The iPad design just doesn’t look like it needs anything added to it, and yet it so plainly does. The BoltHub looks so wrong, and yet they’ve clearly tried so hard to make it look as unobtrusive as it can given the hardware limitations.

I reckon that barring accidental damage I’m probably going to get at least another year’s use out of my iPad Mini 4 before either the feature set of iPadOS 14 or fading battery life on my current device forces my hand on a replacement machine. Who knows, perhaps by the time I have to face this Apple will have Sherlocked the makers of the BoltHub by offering a similar device of their own? Different vendor, same issue.

[Via Subtraction.com]