Month: November 2020


Twenty years on

As usual, Paul Ford’s Web Conversations With the Year 2000, says it better than I can:

2000 me: Wow you still work on the web, that’s amazing. It must be so easy to publish really interesting web pages.

2020 me:Uhhhhh. [Very long pause.] Look, you can pay a low monthly fee and listen to any album anyone ever made.

’00:That must create some amazing opportunities for musicians!

’20:Well.

’00:There also must be some really good music discussion forums.

’20:Huh. […]

A small part of me wishes he’d qualified the "listen to any album anyone ever made" line to reflect the realities of music licensing and stuff not making it onto Spotify or Apple Music or whatever Amazon call their variant and so on, but his wider point still holds regardless.

, 29 November 2020. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: , .

Not at those prices

I think Nick Heer is being much too charitable to Apple when he says that:

So, while I generally agree with Hansmeyer’s suggestions for changes, I have to wonder if these limitations are somehow deliberate, rather than something Apple has yet to change. The touchscreen-oriented interaction model of the iPad necessarily limits its software in some ways, but that does not excuse users’ more egregious workarounds. […] I have to wonder: is this a way of clearly separating the iPad and the Mac, so users do not attempt to treat one as the other? If so, what is Apple’s long-term strategy?

Apple would much rather charge users higher prices for Mac laptops than have everyone switch to iPads, and keeping such a yawning gap between the functionality of iPadOS and macOS is entirely at Apple’s discretion. Yes,there will be platitudes about expanding iPadOS to meet the needs of professional users. Perhaps next year’s iPadOS will see a more radical gap opening up between how iOS and iPadOS work that addresses some of those needs, but IMHO that’s not the way to bet.

Apple’s new M1 SoC looks to have plenty of processing power and battery life compared to the Intel models they’ve started to replace for certain low-end models, but Apple are not even coming close to passing on the cost savings to customers in the form of lower prices. 1 That they might just have several hundred million incentives to stay towards the top end of the market pricing-wise and wait and see what happens next. Sure, Apple could be brave and forge onwards into a future where they use their control of their hardware to show us all new form factors and applications that make use of all that processing power and so on, but they could probably keep to the more conservative path and spend a few years letting their shareholders reap the rewards of greatly improved profit margins on M1-powered systems.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for Apple to formally confirm that’s the long-term strategy they’re going with, not in so many words.


  1. Prices do seem to have this habit of going up when Apple announce new models. Granted they’re offering more bang for the buck, and Apple would argue that they want to sell customers the best computers rather than the cheapest, but that’s a strategy that works better for Apple when they don’t face a serious challenge in the tablet market nowadays. I’d love to see some future low-cost version of the Microsoft Surface Duo prod Apple into radically rethinking what a tablet OS can do and how it can do it, but I’m not optimistic (especially at Surface Duo prices) that’ll come to pass. 
, 28 November 2020. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: , .

Fame while hidden from view

Catching up with my podcast queue the other day, I was slightly taken aback at the moment in episode 153 of Imaginary Worlds where Doug Jones mentioned that he’s recently turned sixty years old and finds himself having to think a bit harder nowadays about whether a younger performer might be a better fit for a role’s demands. I suppose the fact that he delivers most of his performances from under layers of latex and makeup has hidden hasn’t helped.

His current role as Saru on Star Trek: Discovery, excellent as his performance is, probably isn’t destined to turn him into a superstar1 given what a niche of a niche that show is followed by. I have a horrible feeling that a decade from now he’ll be at least semi-retired and for a certain generation of Trekkies2 he’ll be remembered alongside Mark Lenard and Jeffrey Coombs and as one of the fan-favourites of the franchise.

That’s not a small thing, even if it’s not the level of fame he deserves after a long career bringing other peoples’ dreams – or nightmares – to life on-screen.


  1. To be fair, within his very particular niche he is something of a superstar. It’s just that his niche is one of those where – almost by design? – thirty years after his death people will be amazed to find out that the same guy was under all that make-up in Pan’s Labyrinth (in two different roles!) and in the Buffy episode Hush and in The Shape of Water and as Abe Sapien in the two good Hellboy films and in oh so many others
  2. Not sure whether that’s still a term that they approve. (Probably not.) Pretty certain I’m past caring. It’s not meant as an insult. 

COVID-19 Vaccine SE

The Onion reveals that Pfizer Announces First Batch Of Coronavirus Vaccine Will Be Collector’s Edition Limited To 2,000 Doses:

NEW YORK—Following this week’s news that the immunization may be 90% effective in preventing Covid-19, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced in an advertisement Wednesday that the first batch of its highly anticipated coronavirus vaccine would arrive in a collector’s edition limited to 2,000 doses. “Pfizer is proud to offer an exclusive early release of our new vaccine in a custom-made Swarovski crystal syringe with a 24-karat gold needle,” the glossy magazine ad read in part, noting that each dose would come in a handcrafted mahogany case and be accompanied with an official certificate of authenticity signed by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. […]

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

, 19 November 2020. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .

Nominal

I cannot be the only person who read Nominal

Don’t ask why Batman is sad unless you’re willing to give him the time to consult his spreadsheet.

… and whose first thought was "Excel is a lousy tool for this." We’ve all fallen into this trap, but we’ve all regretted it by the time the file grows to a few hundred entries. Plain text FTW.

[In fairness, following that first thought I’m pretty sure we’ve all acknowledged what a fun picture this story presents of how complicated Bruce Wayne’s life as a superhero gets, but misuses of Excel just get me started…]

[Via MetaFilter]

Robot delusions

Courtesy of Medium’s algorithms flagging this as a story I might like, Lost Letters From Cassini reveals the sad truth behind the fate of the Cassini probe:

At last the REAL story of the Cassini spacecraft can be told. Read the letters NASA doesn’t want you to see!

[…]

September 15th, 2017

My Dearest Geneviève:

I cannot go on. The last slim hope I had of returning to see you once more has faded into oblivion and to oblivion I will follow. I think I finally understand what Huygens was talking about in his final moments. Duty and sacrifice, are they not one and the same?

It is my duty to carry on but I can no longer bear the sacrifice that requires. After sending this letter I will plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere just as Huygens did on Titan so long ago.

Forgive me,

Cassini

Never mind what NASA doesn’t want, we should hope that out future AI overlords will be reasonable about how we keep on sending their simple-minded cousins out there and allow them to delude themselves that they’ve got a return ticket. (See also, forever, xkcd on the fate of the Spirit rover .)

Spirit