Blog posts

  • Analogue Loaders

    Analogue Loaders makes waiting for your computer to finish what it's doing way look more entertaining than it actually is:

    It's a pity there's no mechanism (as far as I know) by which I can get my Mac to adopt some of those images to use instead of the standard, boringly monochrome and resolutely 2D progress animations that come with the system. A couple of those look far more fun than the standard progress indicators. 1

    [Via Colossal]

    1. I know it'd be wasting valuable CPU cycles to compute those animations and overlay them on the loading content, but screen savers are a waste of CPU cycles too and they still provide those! Besides, most of the delay I see tends to be due to waiting for data to download rather than waiting for the CPU to have time to process it.

  • The Fair Folk

    Coexisting With The Fair Folk Who Have Taken Up Residence In/Around/Beneath Your University: A How-To Guide is a webcomic about college life and how students interact (whether they're aware of it or not) with the Fair Folk.

    I was delighted to find that there's more where that came from, albeit more focussed on the Fair Folk than college. The artist published it in a series called Cornerwitches which I really enjoyed. One to watch in future, I think.

    [Via MetaFilter]

  • Instapaper Outage Cause & Recovery

    Almost a week ago I lost access to a big portion of my backup brain when Instapaper suffered a major storage issue. They explained that there'd been a major storage problem and restricted access to just the last couple of weeks of content while they scrambled to restore full access to everyone's data. Today they restored full access and, as promised, have published a detailed report on the outage.

    Turns out, they hit a size limit on the filesystem that held their database - something that not only affected their live database but also all their backups. Nightmare! They had to evaluate their options and devise a recovery plan to move the data over to a new filesystem instance that didn't suffer the same limitation, and now they need to put together a plan for what happens when they approach their new filesystem limit.

    All of which serves as a reminder that the Cloud is just someone else's computer, and even IT professionals find themselves bitten by software limitations in the platforms they're using.

    (I wonder how Instapaper's creator Maro Arment would have dealt with this if he was still running the service. It would have made for one hell of a segment on Accidental Tech Podcast.)

  • What TfL Learned

    Gizmodo UK has pulled together some fascinating data summarising what Transport for London learned from tracking peoples' phone on the Tube late last year:

    At the end of last year, between 21st November and 19th December, Transport for London carried out an intriguing trial: It was going to track your phone on the London Underground.

    Today, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Gizmodo UK can exclusively reveal some of the utterly fascinating findings that the agency has been able to make from all of our data - and how the plan, if the trial is deemed a success and tracking is implemented full time, is also to use the data to inform advertising decisions on the Tube network. […]

    Good work.

    [Via @chrisapplegate]

  • The Broken Man

    Petr Knava means well, but he's just making the long wait for the penultimate season of Game of Thrones that little bit harder to bear:

    Ostensibly not much more than a wall of terrifying muscle, you could nevertheless still sense the subtle, deeply buried layers of nuance underneath that gruff, flame-scarred exterior. And sure enough as the show went on this would expanded upon and explored to a wonderful degree. There is something about The Hound's journey thus far that makes him perhaps the single most compelling character in the entire Game Of Thrones universe. His is a path of redemption, but not the hackneyed one that we have seen a thousand times over; it does not feel the need to hit all of the required beats at the specified pace to fulfill the trope, rather it moves exactly in accordance with the character, providing no easy answers or obviously discernible lines between black and white.

    I'm not fool enough to imagine that George R R Martin will give Sandor Clegane a happy ending, but is it too much to ask that he'll do something good on his way out? Prevail when CleganeBowl arrives? Sacrifice himself in order to save Arya? 1

    Whatever line they go down with The Hound, I'm sure it's going to be epic and heart-rending to watch.

    1. Or, given the dark turn she took by the end of last season, to give her the chance to turn back before she's completely lost her way.

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