June 9th, 2014
If you think the only thing wrong with Instapaper is that you have to read the articles you've saved on a phone / tablet / computer screen, Newspaper Club have just the product for you: InstapaperOnPaper PaperLater. From their blog:
PaperLater lets you save the good stuff from around the web and enjoy it in a newspaper made just for you. When you find yourself on something you'd prefer to read in print, just press the 'Save for PaperLater' button in your browser, and we'll do the rest.
When you've got enough articles, hit print and we'll automatically layout, print and ship you a newspaper. It'll be on your doorstep in a few days.
What gets me isn't the 'read it on paper' angle; I get that a lot of people prefer to read long form pieces on paper, and I'm sure Newspaper Club do a nice job of formatting a piece from the web so that it works well in print. But I just can't get past the 'on your doorstep in a few days' thing. A few days! Are we living in the Dark Ages?
June 8th, 2014
June 8th, 2014
Lauren Manning's EarthPatterns: Beautiful things on our planet, found on Google Maps.
June 3rd, 2014
This excerpt from Mike Judge's Silicon Valley is a beautiful illustration of what can happen when a bunch of geeks take an idea and run with it.
[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]
June 1st, 2014
David Owen writes for The New Yorker about the designers behind business class – or, more specifically, the designers behind the design of the seating since airlines reintroduced seats-that-doubled-as-beds in the 1990s:
"A good seat doesn't show you everything it's got in the first ten minutes," he said. "It surprises you during the flight, and lets you discover things you weren't expecting."
My favourite part of this story isn't about the amazing attention to detail that goes into the curve of a seat or the placement of a switch, or even about how saving a few centimetres per row can mean the difference between a flight breaking even and making a loss. It's the bit about how pretty much everything anyone wants to install inside an airliner's cabin has to go through a process of "delethalization", making it both marginally safer in the event that the airliner undergoes rapid deceleration and vastly more expensive than consumer-grade kit.
May 31st, 2014
The Sea Witch Sets The Record Straight:
I didn't take her voice for myself. I want to set the record straight on that, right up front. People got a lot of crazy notions in their heads, the way the story got around, and that was one of them.
I'm not saying I never did an evil deed – anyone who says they haven't is lying through their teeth – but I didn't take her voice for myself. I didn't need it. I've got a perfectly fine voice, thank you, trained by whale divas, and it's mine. […]
May 31st, 2014
Geoff Manaugh, on the work of 19th century surveyors in California who set out to map out the borders between counties:
Like a dust-covered Tron of the desert, surrounded by the invisible mathematics of a grid that had yet to be realized, these over-dressed gentlemen of another century helped give rise to an abstract model of the state.
May 31st, 2014
From Paul Ford's It Is Impossible to Believe How Mindblowing These Amazing New Jobs Are:
Are you a native full-stack visiongineer who lives to marketech platishforms? Then come work with us as an in-house NEOLOGIZER and reimaginatorialize the verbalsphere! If you are a slang-slinger who is equahome in brandegy and advertorial, a total expert in brandtech and techvertoribrand, and a first-class synergymnast, then this will be your rockupation! Throw ginfluence mingles and webutante balls, the world is your joyster. The percandidate will have at least five years working as a ideator and envisionary or equiperience.
A paragraph which inspired by far the best comment I've read today:
DAMMIT, WORDS MEAN THINGS
May 30th, 2014
From Ayn Rand's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:
Harry and Ron stood before the Mirror of Erised. "My God," Ron said. "Harry, it's your dead parents."
Harry's eyes flicked momentarily over to the mirror. "So it is. This information is neither useful nor productive. Let us leave at once, to assist Hagrid in his noble enterprise of raising as many dragon eggs as he sees fit, in spite of our country's unjust dragon-trading restrictions."
"But it's your parents, Harry," Ron said. Ron never really got it.
Harry sighed. "The fundamental standard for all relationships is the trader principle, Ron."
"I don't understand," Ron said.
"Of course you don't," said Harry affectionately. "This principle holds that we should interact with people on the basis of the values we can trade with them – values of all sorts, including common interests in art, sports or music, similar philosophical outlooks, political beliefs, sense of life, and more. Dead people have no value according to the trader principle."
"But they gave birth to y–"
"I made myself, Ron," Harry said firmly.
Wait until you get to the line at the very end about Hermione. Classic.
May 29th, 2014
Having finally got round to reading the transcript of Maciej Cegłowski's Beyond Tellerrand 2014 Conference Talk , I can but report that – as usual – he talked a lot of sense:
One reason there's a backlash against Google glasses is that they try to bring the online rules into the offline world. Suddenly, anything can be recorded, and there's the expectation (if the product succeeds) that everything will be recorded. The product is called 'glass' instead of 'glasses' because Google imagines a world where every flat surface behaves by the online rules. [The day after this talk, it was revealed Google is seeking patents on showing ads on your thermostat, refrigerator, etc.]
Well, people hate the online rules!
Google's answer is, wake up, grandpa, this is the new normal. But all they're doing is trying to port a bug in the Internet over to the real world, and calling it progress.
You can dress up a bug and call it a feature. You can also put dog crap in the freezer and call it ice cream. But people can taste the difference.
May 27th, 2014
The future that everyone forgot:
I came across a website whose purpose was to provide a super detailed list of every handheld computing environment going back to the early 1970's. It did a great job except for one glaring omission: the first mobile platform that I helped develop. The company was called Danger, the platform was called hiptop, and what follows is an account of our early days, and a list of some of the "modern" technologies we shipped years before you could buy an iOS or Android device. [...]
[Via The Tao of Mac]
May 24th, 2014
Robin Sloan contemplates The Moby-Dick variations:
Where does one novel end and another one begin?
May 23rd, 2014
Ducklings vs. Stairs:
Epic is the only word for it…
May 22nd, 2014
It's not entirely clear whether it was a design exercise or a cover that was actually published, but either way I have to admire the simplicity and elegance of Tom Lenartowicz's cover for Peter Benchley's Jaws:
May 20th, 2014
David Lynch's Return of the Jedi:
Had he agreed to direct ROTJ I don't think there's any chance whatsoever that Lynch would have got to give the conclusion of the Original Trilogy a properly Lynchian feel. But it's fun to imagine, isn't it…
Even better, imagine the path Lynch's career could have taken if he'd been credited with directing a bona fide blockbuster and he'd had his pick of mainstream Hollywood's hottest projects. Can you imagine David Lynch's Titanic? David Lynch's Fight Club?
Then again, that path might not have led Lynch to Twin Peaks, and that's too high a price to pay.
May 19th, 2014
Matt Haughey posted some bad news on MetaTalk today:
Today I need to share some unfortunate news: because of serious financial downturn, MetaFilter will be losing three of its moderators to layoffs at the end of this month. What that means for the site and the site's future are described below.
While MetaFilter approaches 15 years of being alive and kicking, the overall website saw steady growth for the first 13 of those years. A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates. We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.
Where we are headed
The site is currently and has been for several months operating at a significant loss. If nothing were to change, MeFi would defaulting on bills and hitting bankruptcy by mid-summer. As a result, I'm having to make the difficult decision to lay off employees to make up for budget shortfalls. Starting June 1st, we'll be operating with a smaller moderator staff. […]
Not the sort of MetaFilter link I usually post here!
MetaFilter is one of the best, most consistently interesting online communities on the web; not just because of the links people post there, but because over the years it has hosted some of the most entertaining and informative comment threads I've seen on the internet. Since the Death of Usenet, it's been my number one source of civilised discussion online, and it's a terrible shame that it looks as if Google's tweaking of their search algorithm may have hit the site hard, despite MetaFilter being about as far from a linkfarm as it's possible to be.
If you've enjoyed the various links I've posted here over the years that came from MetaFilter, please consider dropping by the site and sending them a donation via PayPal (the donation link is at the foot of that page, under the subheading Supporting MetaFilter. Or even making it a recurring monthly donation if, like me, you use MetaFilter regularly.
May 18th, 2014
After visiting Kink.com's studios at The Armory, Kate Losse shares Further Notes on Kink as a Platform:
The first thing our tour guide wanted to make sure we understood was that not only is tourist photography fine at Kink, it is also encouraged, as is posting photos from Kink to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. "If you feel inspired to enter a cage and pose for pictures, please do!" the guide said enthusiastically, cautioning us only that the professional performers in the building were not fair game for photos/friend requests unless asked. "Just because you've seen someone's asshole doesn't mean they want to be your friend on Facebook," our guide admonished.
This was the first of many uncanny moments I felt during the tour, where a porn platform representative was laying down rules for social media that are more explicit than those of social media companies themselves. When was the last time a social media platform told you the house rules for friending or distributing information? For social media platforms, all information flow is good flow. At Kink, there are rules, and the proprietors of the platform wanted to make sure we knew them. [...]
[Via The Baffler]
May 18th, 2014
Highlights of a four month-long Winter on Georgian Bay, captured by way of cheap hardware and some clever software that tried to ensure that the time-lapse images were taken in similar lighting conditions:
Pleasingly, it turned out to be a particularly turbulent winter, so the lake got to freeze and partially thaw quite a few times.
May 18th, 2014
A new Earthrise over the Moon, courtesy of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter:
Be sure to follow the first link to see the whole image.
May 17th, 2014
Inspired by one of the more thought-provoking scenes in Spike Jonze's Her, Jeff Atwood finds a really neat way to help us visualise just how fast modern computers can transfer bits back and forth in The Infinite Space Between Words:
So instead of travelling to Pluto to get our data from disk in 1999, today we only need to travel to … Jupiter.