Wow!

I realise that it’s hardly news that the iPhone turned out to be a once-in-a-generation/once-in-a-lifetime hit for Apple, but Jason Snell’s chart of a decade of Apple growth really drives home the point.

That last chart, in the context of all the ones leading up to it. “Wow!” really is the word.

[Via MacSparky]

Not at all worrying

Jason Kottke saw a school of juvenile striped eel catfish (Plotosus Lineatus) and thought it evoked a creature from a Miyazaki film:

It was only on following the link to the source that I found that those creatures, for all that they’re enchanting to watch, are also venomous. Makes me think that they’d be a better fit for the Alien franchise, really.1

[Via Kottke.org]


  1. But then again, thinking back to some of the boathouse customers in Spirited Away, maybe Miyazaki really does work. Some of those folks required careful handling by the staff, and I can easily imagine Yubaba telling Chihiro and her colleagues something to the effect of “The young ones can only produce a mild version of the venom, tingling the fingers of the people putting their hands in the school (which we don’t recommend you do!)” 

Bra Theory

Logically, there was no good reason why yet another branch of human endeavour shouldn’t fall to the energy of an entrepreneur prepared to apply modern technology and a Can-Do attitude to the problem. That was the theory, anyway:

While tailors have figured out a formula for men’s suits, bra tailoring is a younger technology with a smaller market and far fewer competitors. It used to be the case that tailors would hone their craft, keep their tailoring knowledge as a trade secret, and pass on their knowledge of pattern-making to apprentices.

But bras, coming after the Industrial Revolution, had no such history of custom tailoring. Pattern-makers were accustomed to working with industry fit models, altering their patterns as necessary, and grading their patterns using rules. They were not accustomed to making a precise pattern based on measurements on the body.

I was brash, and thought that with the right team, we could accelerate centuries of learning into six months and a trade secret. We hired professionals to make precise patterns for 20 beta users. Our theory was that this data would enable us to crack the code.

[Narrator: They didn’t crack the code.]

[Via @pinboard]

Ask and ye shall receive

Following on from yesterday’s post, Ron Moore says all sorts of things about season 2:

“You’re going to see things that happened in real life, but happen faster and in slightly different ways,” Moore promised. “So things like the coming of the personal computer, internet, variations on communications and email and cell phones and all that. You’ll see it in a more rapid advance. And the actual models and prototypes and pieces of technology that are being used are not exactly what happened in real history… you’ll see variations on it. We went back and looked at some of the early prototyping and different branches that some of the technology could have gone off in the ’70s and ’80s, and chose to go down some of those paths. So, you’ll have a different spin and a different feel to it. The further the show goes now, the more science-fiction it’s going to become. We’re getting more aggressively into areas that never happened.”

Sounds promising. 1

[Via Adrian Hon, posting to FanFare]


  1. I’m slightly disappointed that they’re sticking to Reagan ending up in the White House and being up for even more of an arms race than he was in our timeline, but I can’t deny that all the signs are that in the timeline they’re showing us politics hasn’t changed all that much so that’s not a completely unexpected turn of events. 

For All Mankind season 1

So, For All Mankind closed with a slightly loner-than-usual season finale that perhaps signalled that when next we see these characters they might have moved beyond the Apollo era.

Be sure to stick around for the post-credit scene for the first season finale. I really hope that signals another jump forward in the timeline, because for all that I’ve enjoyed the course of the show’s first season I’d also been mildly worried that we were going to spend forever on the alternate Apollo programme and I really want to see this show go further along the alternate timeline than that. (I did joke about Ron Moore ending the show with an appearance from a Cylon, but one commenter over at MeFi Fanfare last week posited that the show will end with the discovery of a black monolith on the lunar surface and morph into a 2001: A Space Odyssey prequel Works for me.)

The finale revealed that the first commander of the first US base on the moon wasn’t the cold-blooded murderer we’d thought he might be last week, but I do wonder whether some time in season two someone will discover evidence that the base had been visited by the enemy and our putative hero will find himself having to own up to what went down in the preparation for his rescue mission for his rescuers. Will NASA file it under “Who cares? It all worked out in the end (except for Deke.)” or will there be a scandal when it turns out that our hero Ed (assuming he remains in the programme and ends up, say, as head of the Astronaut Office some day) realises that he recognises Mikhail, his newly-appointed opposite number on the Soviet side?

I’d still love to know whether Ron Moore’s plan is to spend seven seasons exploring how a different timeline plays out in the lifetimes of the current characters, or whether they’re going to throw in enough time jumps that we get a picture of the ramifications of a different start to the space race. Given that we’ve spent significant time following the story of Aleida, our immigrant space enthusiast in the first season, I can’t help but wonder whether her character 1 will pop up again before long, possibly after a couple more time jumps to give her time to have a reason to be in the story again. I mean, she might just show up years later as a member of the public watching what’s going on in the space programme rather than working in it, or it might be that her story was mostly a way to reveal her father’s story and how the FBI’s efforts to enhance security were mostly pointless, but I have a feeling she’s destined to be more involved than that.

I have a feeling, just given the economics of how TV casting works and the notion that it’s risky to press the reset button and demand that audiences get used to a largely new cast in a different scenario in the next season, that they’ll stick with rolling out the story covering the near future. A show that sticks with the 1970s generation of astronauts could well be every bit as much fun as the first season has been for folks like me2 but my preference would be for a show that ends up a few hundred years hence, one that reveals that because the Russians and the Americans were working in parallel on the Moon3 they ended up customarily working together and ended up extending that practice as they fanned out into the depths of the solar system. Heretical thought: might it have made very little difference, what with all the major players being basically extensions of the military powers’ armed forces and thus somewhat disinclined to cooperate with their potential enemies?


  1. Probably recast, so we can see her all grown up, having earned her place in the space programme on the basis of her mathematical expertise post-college. She can be in her mid-thirties, ideally having a nice reunion with soon-to-retire veteran NASA Flight Director Margo Madison when Aleida arrives to start her new job. That whole illegal immigrant thing would be a problem security-check-wise, you’d imagine, but who said Aleida had to work for NASA? Perhaps she ends up emigrating to Europe in her early twenties and finds herself working on the EU’s fledgeling human space programme and gets seconded to NASA as part of the EU’s attempt to catch up. 
  2. The sort of people who recognise which characters in the show were real people and which were folks the show’s writers made up, and which technologies were in the pipeline when the Apollo programme was wound down after the key aim of beating the Soviet Union to the moon was achieved. You know, geeks. 
  3. And the Chinese, and the EU, and the Indians, and the Saudis, in time. It’s science fiction: who can say what’ll come to pass? 

Snowbrawl

I completely understand that modern smartphones deliver ridiculously high-quality video recordings and that when you put them in the hands of a professional they can produce impressive results like Snowbrawl

… but can you entirely blame me if I sit here with the thought “Dammit, those phones are expensive: be careful with them!” running through my head as I watch them capering in the snow and letting loose barrages of snowballs at one another?

Not sure how far that’s a sign of my getting old or of my getting less affluent (or both!), but it does remind me of how far I’m not part of Apple’s target market for this sort of TV ad.1

[Via Kottke.org]


  1. Also, I was never all that into playing in the snow even when I was that age. Just gets in the way of a perfectly decent opportunity to dive into a good book, in my book.] 

The return of The Program

Just over a year on from my previous post about it, The Program Audio Series podcast returns for a full first season:

The Program is a historical podcast set in a future in which Money, State, and God became fused into a single entity called the Program. Each episode is a self-contained story focusing on ordinary people inhabiting this extraordinary world. And for them it is not this future that is terrifying – it is our present.

Good to see that it’s back. I look forward to hearing where the story takes us.

For All Mankind

Well, I’ve dipped a toe into Apple’s vision of the future of TV by watching the first two episodes of For All Mankind, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far:

[A…] captivating “what if” take on history from Golden Globe nominee and Emmy Award winner, Ronald D. Moore. Told through the lives of astronauts, engineers and their families, “For All Mankind” imagines a world in which the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centerpiece of America’s hopes and dreams.

The things is, I’m just two episodes in and some of the fun changes to our timeline’s history – most obviously the much earlier advent of women in the space programme – are still to come. But so far, the show is giving us a chance to get to know some of our characters and it looks as if we’re going to learn about this timeline through how those characters are affected by the various changes, which is definitely the best way to go about this.

The big question is, where does this story end? Do we find ourselves pushing out into space much faster in the last half of the 20th century and beyond because a stronger Soviet presence means that the US can always justify throwing money at NASA and if so where does the story stop? Are we going to move beyond this initial cast of astronauts who were contemporaries of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and if so, when?

Rumour has it that Ronald D Moore and his colleagues have mapped out seven seasons of this show: as with all TV, how much of that we get to see will presumably depend upon the show’s success against whatever metrics Apple have decided to apply to it. Seven seasons could take us to the point where our characters have aged to the point where they’re heading off to Mars to join the first colonisation effort, or perhaps the last episode will see the grandchildren of our characters inventing the first Cylon or something.

Paper phone?

I’m torn between thinking that the Paper Phone is a neat little idea and the proposition that as long as your personal data is in the Cloud then the trick is to arrange things so that you have access to it wherever you are via whatever devices are at hand so you don’t need to waste paper printing a daily digest:

Or is it all rendered irrelevant because you’re destined to end up using a blank sheet of paper or a dictaphone to note down stuff that you’ll need to add to your electronic To Do list and so on when you get back home, so why not just carry round a device that lets you do that?

In practice this is a purely theoretical exercise for me for now as a) I’m firmly in the grasp of Apple’s ecosystem, and b) I don’t even have a printer to hand in my flat to [print out that list. I wonder how long it’d take Apple1 to incorporate a feature like this in iPadOS?

[Via One Thing Well]


  1. Or will some enterprising third party put up an app to do this? Will we end up with half a dozen clones of this idea as different people have different propositions about how best to arrange all this data in the minimum number of printed pages?