Blog posts

  • Gerard Butler Braces for Category 5 Boredom

    David Ehrlich's IndieWire review of Geostorm wins the internet today:

    Butler, an actor who delivers every line of dialogue with his entire face, is Jake Lawson, an engineer who saved the world before "Geostorm" even starts. In 2019, Lawson spearheaded the "Dutch Boy" project, a system of satellites that covers the Earth like a net and keeps the weather in check. What could go wrong? Or, more specifically, what could go wrong in addition to calling the single most important invention of all time "Dutch Boy?"

    For my money he has an even better line a bit later in the review, but it's right next to a spoiler so all I'll say is that it's a reference to the failure to have Ed Harris use a line that echoes one of his roles in an earlier and apparently much better film. Just go and read the whole review and you can't miss it.

    [Via @joss]

  • We thought we were gonna change the world. Here’s the bad news: we did.

    Mike Monteiro's history of Twitter, from beginning to end:

    Twitter also taught me how to be a better writer. (Count how many of these sentences are under 140 characters.) Seriously. I'm actually a pretty introverted person, and Twitter was a great way to shake that. (I wanted to shake it.) But as stupid as this might sound every little star (they will always be stars) gave me a little more confidence. And eventually what started as a place to tell jokes became a place to talk about design. And I got confident enough to start sharing those ideas too. I've written two books about design, and I can trace both of their origins to shit I said on Twitter. And when I was writing those books, I kept my book in one window, and Twitter in another window. If I thought a sentence was pretty good I pasted it into the Twitter text field to make sure it was 140 characters.

    Twitter made me a better writer.

    My first editor is probably reading that line and nodding and thinking "Fuck you. I made you a better writer, asshole." And that's true. But I met her on Twitter.

    There was a time where Twitter was a place you went to fuck around, and accidentally made friends and got smarter. It's been years since I've felt smarter after being exposed to Twitter, but trust me, those days were real. They happened.


  • 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:



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