Atari 520 STM

Having just read The Jackintosh: A Real GEM – Remembering the Atari ST, I feel a massive nostalgia rush coming on:

After Commodore Founder Jack Tramiel was forced out by his board, he decided, after a brief hiatus, to get revenge.

Tramiel knew that a 16-bit computer was next on the horizon for Commodore, and he wanted to beat them to the punch. So, in early 1984 he formed a new company, Tramel Technology (spelt without an ‘i’ to encourage people to spell his name correctly), and lured a number of Commodore engineers to jump ship and come work for him. […]

Back in the late 1980s, after several years of following Sinclair Research’s product line up to and including the Sinclair QL1 I found myself tempted by the Atari 520STM, the model with a decently high-resolution (for the day and price) monochrome monitor. OK, so the 520STM was never going to be a games machine, but it was a cracking little workhorse for Desktop Publishing (I adored Timeworks Desktop Publisher) and I spent way too much money on nifty GEM-based word processors and spreadsheets over the years. That first version of Digital Research’s GEM environment worked beautifully on the hardware, to the point that several years later when I finally gave in to the rising tide and bought a Windows 95-based machine for my personal use (having long since been using DOS/Windows systems at work) I genuinely felt like I was taking a step down usability-wise and looks-wise.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

Replacing Instapaper

As time passes and EU-based users find themselves waiting in vain on word from Instapaper’s owners, our thoughts inevitably turn towards replacing Instapaper:

I chose Pinboard, not because it is the most slick service – it is very minimalist – but because it works, and for everything I read, it will likely be there for as long as I pay them to be.

The thing is, Pinboard is terrific at storing and organising a list of bookmarks, but that’s only part of what Instapaper was good for: it’s the other half of the process – the seamless storage of articles so that my queue of unread items was available (offline if I wanted it) to read at a moment’s notice – that I’m missing. As far as I can see, the solution the linked article proffers, ReadPaperback, is entirely an online solution to the reading-a-stripped-back-to-readable-text-version-of-an-article problem that Instapaper used to solve so nicely for me.1 Perhaps that’s the best we can do in Instapaper’s absence, but it’s not really solving the problem I wanted solved.

The prolonged silence from Instapaper’s current owners makes me wonder what, precisely, they were doing with our Instapaper user accounts that a) was at risk of bringing down the wrath of the GDPR on them, and b) made their lawyers think that it would be as well not to allow EU users anywhere within a mile of their service.

[Via The Overspill]

Dancing in Movies

When I first saw a link to Dancing In Movies a week or so ago I wasn’t all that impressed: yes, someone had put a lot of effort into stringing together clips from nearly 300 films but I wasn’t getting a thrill from it. But now I’ve taken (several) further looks at it and I love it! I think on the first viewing I was too obsessed with identifying the sources of the clips, and as they’re such short clips I found myself overwhelmed by the need to try to mentally catalogue them in real time and was too busy to get round to appreciating the art of the compilation itself.1

Fortunately – perhaps it caught up with me on a day when my case of trainspotter’s syndrome was in remission – I saw it again the other day, and this time I just settled back and enjoyed the quirky spectacle of it all. Magnificent stuff, strongly recommended.

Untitled, 1971

A Work of Art, by Janet Malcolm:

For many years my late husband, Gardner Botsford, kept a small black-and-white snapshot on his desk of a man and woman wearing shorts, walking one behind the other on a tennis court. I didn’t know who the couple were but assumed they were friends from Gardner’s life before our marriage, people he had been close to and fond of. One day I asked him who they were and he laughed and said he had no idea. He had plucked the picture from a pile of rejects on their way to the wastebasket. It had leaped out at him as an example of an outstandingly terrible snapshot, one that had everything the matter with it. The couple had their backs to the camera; the tennis court showed a few white lines; there were undifferentiated shrubs and trees edging one side of the asphalt. That was all. I saw what my husband saw and laughed with him. There was no reason for the existence of this picture. Keeping it was a wonderful exercise in absurdism.

A few years later, in 1980, I had occasion to think of this picture in a new way. […]