Month: December 2021


Many a true word spoken in jest

Oh so true xkcd: Incident Report.

, 10 December 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .

At last!

Just for a change, a post about someone who found using the Surface Duo 2 to be a life-changing experience:

In the final week of semester, I gave my last class lecture. Some might have seen my lecture studio: I teach, I solve problems with digital ink, I also self-produce, switching between multiple cameras and screen share, and I clumsily try to read the student chat (a laptop on a stand) and following my notes (a printed PDF). Before my class, my laptop decided it would start an epic Windows update… so I picked up my Duo in a lightbulb moment and those two clumsy things were replaced by the duo: Teams meeting chat on the left and OneNote mathematical notes on the right. Once again, the phone went from being my time-wasting pocket device to a valuable part of my workflow.

After so many it’s-ok-but-it-costs-too-much-and-the-camera-is-poor-and-the-software-is-way-too-buggy reviews, fascinating to read about someone who found the whole dual-screen phone experience pretty much life-changing. I hope he gets his wish and the next hardware version gives the phone the higher level hardware and better-integrated software he thinks it deserves.

I can’t help but notice that, possibly uniquely, his Surface 2 Duo review never even mentions the rather high price of the device. Not a peep about how high the price was at launch, or how much he saved when Microsoft reduced the price in what seemed like a vain attempt to stop every review commenting on the price-performance disparity. Makes you wonder if this guy is an academic, dedicated to communicating what the device did for him without reference to how big a hole buying it left in his bank balance, because everyone buying a personal device has their own notions of what extra time to spend on life outside work is worth to them.1 Alternatively, this guy is the real-life counterpart of Connor Roy (Alan Ruck’s spendthrift eldest Roy sibling from Succession): rich enough not to care about money and prone to following his own whims wherever they take him.

I know I’ve banged on about this phone a lot on here for a device I have no interest in buying, but that’s because I find the experiment of trying to give users almost a tablet-sized screen experience in a phone-sized package fascinating. Also, I really would like to see Apple take a swing at this notion one day. I almost certainly won’t be able to afford it if/when they do, but I can still dream, can’t I?


  1. After all, if using the Surface 2 Duo buys you back some time spending your life not toiling away to accomplish the things you hope to at work, that’s got to be worth spending some serious coin on, no? Like he says at one point, “This thing gave me back life.” 

Talented bastard

Steven Johnson on Learning From Get Back:

To me, the scenes where we see the Beatles reaching back to an idea they first started noodling on years ago — an idea that we know they will keep cultivating for another few years — are some of the most inspiring moments in Get Back. Yes, for most of us, the stakes and public spotlight are not as intense as it was for those four lads back in 1969, but all of us know what it feels like to crunch under the pressure of an imminent deadline. But ask yourself: how often do you find yourself venturing back to an idea you first had in 2018, or 2008, and exploring how you can refine or add to it in your present context? Every now and then, a pressing deadline can concentrate the mind and produce a fully-realized idea, ready for airplay. But most of the time it’s a long and winding road.

Dammit, I’m just going to have to watch Get Back, aren’t I? Because the clip of Paul McCartney coming up with Get Back a few weeks before the rooftop performance really is compelling (especially if you’re old enough to feel as if it’s been in your life forever, and yet here he is at the age of 26, putting it together on camera.)

, 4 December 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: , .

In the long run, we are all dead

Tim Hartford on why the UK is braced for a grim Christmas:

Late in 2019, the British people decided that Chaos Kong would make a good prime minister and elected Boris Johnson by a large margin. Johnson has now decided to make a virtue of his own recklessness. After initially claiming that the shortage of truck drivers in the UK was entirely unconnected to Brexit, the government now boasts that the shortage is indeed Brexit-related and was the plan all along. True to the spirit of Chaos Kong, this tough love for the British economy is the only way to get it to shape up.

In preventing the easy recruitment of truck drivers, abattoir workers and care-home staff from the EU, the UK government is actively blocking the most straightforward way to get the economy running smoothly again. (To ensure everyone got the message, Johnson compared immigrants to heroin, complaining that businesses had been able to “mainline low-wage, low-cost immigration”.) The assertion is that if the government deliberately constricts the supply of essential workers, the economy will come out stronger in the long run. Chaos Kong worked for Netflix. Will it work for the UK? 1

One day, we’ll look back on all this and laugh. Or cry. One of the two, anyway.

[Via Memex 1.1]


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