Blog posts

  • Please, do Panic

    A bit of a return to form (IMHO) for the Welcome to Macintosh podcast this season, after the preceding episodes concentrated on stuff around emoji that I didn't find at all engaging. This week's episode was about events that took place before I'd Switched to the Mac, so I was aware of them but didn't have a horse to back in that race. Episode 12 Don't Panic is all about how Macs dealt with the rise of the MP3 and Apple's eventual decision to produce iTunes, as seen from the perspective of a very different Mac software compny:

    If you have a music library on your computer, you probably use iTunes. It might not be by choice – there's not much out there. But before iTunes, there was another app. An app that was beloved by many. An app that was quirky and strange and delightful. An app called Audion […]

    It helps that the founders of Panic Software1 are so very relaxed about competing with the corporate behemoth who controls the operating systems they support, and are happy to concede that had it been them rather than their Mortal Enemies from SoundJamMP who ended up working for Apple on iTunes they might well be the ones sitting there now wondering how to untsngle playing music from all the other things that iTunes doesm just as Apple themselves do nowadays. The thing is, it's hard to imagine Steven Frank and Cabel Sasser having both joined Apple when iTunes was young and stuck around through the pressure to add just one more feature to iTunes and turn it into the hub of (most) things media-file-related in macOS X that it remains.2

    If you do listen to the podcast episode, be sure to listen to the very end, where they discuss the prospects for converting music files to MP3 in Harpsichord Mode.

    1. I should declare that while I Switched to the Mac too late to try to run Audion, I have since been a very satisfied user of other software from Panic. Transmit is a very solid, boringly reliable FTP client: just what you want for transferring files back and forth and being in no doubt about whether they got there.

    2. To be fair, I suspect that some of the sense of calm Sasser and Frank exhibit is a product of looking at the issue 20 years on when they've successfully built a business doing software their way.

  • Homework

    HBO are going to work with Steven Soderbergh on a new TV show and iOS application:

    HBO recently announced a new TV project in the works by director Steven Soderbergh called "Mosaic." The show will air as a six-part linear narrative in early 2018, but in addition to the traditional distribution, HBO is launching an app where viewers can watch the show, make decisions, and help shape the outcome of certain events.

    Part of me thinks this could be interesting, but for the most part - and I'm quite prepared to believe that this is a symptom of my age and idleness - I'd be quite happy to just sit here and watch a TV show that tells me a satisfying story without requiring me to do homework to get the whole story. (In fairness, just the other day I was welcoming the three short films that were posted as a prelude to Blade Runner 2049, but they were explicitly telling stories about things that had happened between the two films and didn't actually depict anything that happened in the new film. I don't get the impression that's what Soderbergh & co have in mind for Mosaic, but we'll see. Also, I've been waiting thirty-odd years to see a Blade Runner sequel, so I've had time to build up an appetite for stories of what happened in that world between the two films.)

    [Via Extenuating Circumstances]

  • Sent the final, Final, FINAL draft

    Freelance Achievement Stickers:

    ACHIEVED!

    [Via kottke.org]

  • Ballet rotoscope

    To my eyes, this ballet rotoscope mostly serves to emphasise the inhuman degree of precision the dancer is applying in her work:

    It's entirely possible that folks with an eye for ballet will look at this and exclaim that she's doing the bare minimum necessary or she's fudging some of the trickier aspects of the piece, but I'm mostly thinking that she's doing something pretty well here.

    [Via swissmiss]

  • Remembering Rhysling

    Farah Mendlesohn has published an extract from her forthcoming Robert Heinlein study:

    "The Green Hills of Earth" is one of Heinlein's masterpieces: great, grand opera, beautifully paced, slow and cumulative, it depends on the counter of sublime poetry and imagery with scandalous verse for at least part of its sentimental affect. Rhysling the Blind Poet is, to a degree, the tart with the heart of gold. But the real movement is the sense that while Rhysling has been thrown away by the company. He himself has remained loyal to the company's task, to take people safely across the stars. As he sings and works, the importance of his role as both engineer and poet are enmeshed. […]

    More like this, please. If you agree, please consider going over to Unbound and donating to the crowdfunding campaign for Mendlesohn's book. It's at 98% already: your donation could be the one to push it over the line.

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