July 2nd, 2014
Craig Mod answers the question – especially relevant in the light of yesterday's post – How are apps made?
The first pass should be ugly, the ugliest. Any brain cycle spent on pretty is self deception. If pretty is the point then please stop. Do not, I repeat, do not spent three months on the radial menu, impressive as it may be. It will not save your company. There is a time for that. That time is not now. Instead, make grand gestures. General gestures. Most importantly, innumerate the unknowns. Make a list. Making known the unknowns you now know will surface the other unknowns, the important unknowns, the truly devastating unknowns – you can't scrape our content! you can't monkey park here! a tiny antennae is not for rent! You want to unearth answers as quickly as possible. Nothing else matters if your question marks irrecoverably break you. Do not procrastinate in their excavation.
July 1st, 2014
App: The Human Story is seeking funding via Kickstarter:
App creation has become the new art form for our generation. This is the story of the cultural phenomenon that touches all our lives. […]
I've backed it, even though I'm slightly wary of the possibility that the whole thing could turn into a happy-clappy paean to the wonderful world Steve Jobs gifted to us all with the release of iOS 2.0 back in 2008. I'm hoping that impression is just the effect of their cramming so many brief interview snippets into their teaser; in the full film, with more space to expand on their subject, here's hoping we'll get a more nuanced prespective on the story so far. We'll see.
June 30th, 2014
You might have thought that the Internet Movie Database had cornered the market in film-related data. You'd be wrong. Sometimes the Trivia section of the IMDB just isn't up to the job, and there's nothing for it but to consult the Internet Movie Cars Database. Seriously, this exists and seems to be ridiculously thorough.
For sentimental reasons I asked it for appearances in film and TV by the Vauxhall Chevette and it brought up two pages of results, with screencaps, confirming that between the mid-1970s and the 1980s you couldn't walk up a streets anywhere in the United Kingdom without seeing a Chevette parked. It even had a starring role in an episode of The Likely Lads and a bit part in Christopher Eccleston's season on Doctor Who.
Seriously, I know most of us don't need to use a resource like the Internet Movie Cars Database on a daily basis, but it's good to know that it's out there, being maintained by people who care about making this sort of information freely available to the rest of us.
[Via Matt Patches, talking in the Fighting In The War Room podcast at the 15:36 mark while reviewing David Michod's The Rover. (Not talking about the Vauxhall Chevette specifically, mind, just about the existence of the IMCDb itself.)]
June 30th, 2014
A quick note for UK-based readers: BBC4 are starting a repeat run for Edge of Darkness later tonight at 10pm 11pm. Not the Mel Gibson remake: the original miniseries with Bob Peck (never better), lashings of paranoia, a bit of fringe environmentalism, and more than a dash of of sheer weirdness. Quite possibly the best miniseries produced by British television in the 1980s, rivalled only by Boys from the Blackstuff and The Beiderbecke Affair (if you don't disqualify the latter from the category of miniseries for having two followup series.)
I haven't seen Edge of Darkness since the original broadcast, and I'm curious as to how it'll look almost 30 years on. I have a horrible feeling that the answer will be "prescient."
[Via The Guardian]
June 29th, 2014
DataShine: Census provides a simple, map-based view of the UK's 2011 census data. I could browse this thing for hours….
The DataShine mapping platform is an output from an ESRC Future Research Leaders Project entitled "Big Open Data: Mining and Synthesis". The overall project seeks promote and develop the use of large and open datasets amongst the social science community. A key part of this initiative is the visualisation of these data in new and informative ways to inspire new uses and generate insights. Phase one has been to create the mapping platform with data from the 2011 Census. The next phases will work on important issues such as representing the uncertainty inherent in many population datasets and also developing tools that will enable the synthesis of data across multiple sources.
[Via Flowing Data]
June 28th, 2014
Experience the thrill of Bounce Below at Llechwedd Slate Caverns:
Bounce Below is the first facility of its kind, a set of three enormous nets within the Llechwedd caverns in Wales – bringing trampolines to whole new terrain…literally. Bounce Below is an underground playground for both adults and children, set deep inside an old mining cavern that is twice the size of St. Paul's Cathedral. […] a cavern that is lit up by an incredible display of lights and to a collection of 3 trampolines that have been interconnected by stairways and slides – the biggest of which is a 60 foot slide that just adds to the already awesome experience.
I have no head for heights so I don't think this is for me, but it does look pretty amazing.
June 25th, 2014
KILL BILL (Vol 1 and 2) – 8 Bit Cinema:
I was hoping it'd spend more time on the Crazy 88, but despite that omission this is a pretty fun tribute to The Bride's rampage.
June 24th, 2014
The man who hoped to die in a railway crash:
Money. Property. Land. Heirlooms. Whatever the mourners were hoping to inherit when they first gathered for the reading of the will, they were to be sorely disappointed.
Shock. Disbelief. Dismay. Indignation. That's what they got instead. The man they grieved, who had never given them so much as a penny while he breathed, stayed true to the habit of his lifetime.
He'd left everything – the whole kit and caboodle – to his killer. It wasn't a ghastly coincidence, nor the tell-tale sign of murderous greed, but a heartfelt gesture of thanks – appreciation for a job well done. […]
June 24th, 2014
I was vaguely aware that occasionally Google Maps deals with disputes over sovereignty between nations by showing different search results according to the searcher's location, but I hadn't realised just how frequently, and how rapidly this sort of action is required:
Abroad, Google Maps has waded into raw, tender issues of national identity. For example, take its depiction of Crimea on maps.google.com, where a dashed line reflects the U.S. view that the area is an occupied territory. But in Russia, on maps.google.ru, the boundary line is solid – Russia has officially annexed Crimea.
[Via Quartz, via Memex 1.1]
June 23rd, 2014
Reading Shawn Blanc's Command Space: A Review of LaunchBar and a History of Application Launchers, I could only nod in agreement:
Want to launch an app on your Mac? There is, ahem, an app for that.
Whenever I do a clean install of my Mac (which is less often these days), the first application I download is LaunchBar.
Because to me, my application launcher is how I get around my computer. Without LaunchBar installed it's like I'm at a friend's house, trying to navigate to the kitchen in the middle of the night and I can't find the light switches and I keep stubbing my toes on the furniture. […]
I've been using LaunchBar for 11 years and I hope still to be using it 11 years from now. It's the most solid, reliable and downright useful piece of software I've ever installed on a Mac.
I understand that for a lot of people the whole point of a GUI is that you don't have to use the keyboard to make things happen, but in practice there are times when dragging-and-dropping just isn't enough. The way LaunchBar teaches itself the abbreviations you type to select an application or action is just so much more efficient than selecting a file and picking options from the Services menu or the right-click pop-up menu.
The really sad thing is, I occasionally find myself trying to trigger LaunchBar when I'm at work, using a Windows XP computer. It's such a disappointment when I realise why that keystroke didn't do anything useful…
June 23rd, 2014
Having seen Oculus the other night, I was reading the comments at the IMDb and came across a mention of a short film made by Oculus director Mike Flanagan back in 2006 that was related to his feature film debut.
Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan uses many of the same story beats as the current film, so you probably shouldn't watch it if you have any thoughts of watching the feature film because Flanagan's full-length effort really is best seen knowing as little as possible about why these characters are doing this thing they're doing. For anyone who has seen Oculus, the short – which can be viewed in full on Vimeo, is an even more compact – and pretty effective – take on one portion of the same story.
June 22nd, 2014
Paul Ford documents his experience of using Kinja to write content:
the only button left for me to hit is the (HTML) button but god help me i'm honestly scared.
Honestly, quoting text from his post doesn't do it justice. Follow the link to get the full effect.
[Via Waxy.org: Links Miniblog]
June 21st, 2014
June 20th, 2014
Having been pressed by her university to complete paperwork documenting how she spends her time, Mary Beard came across this model response from an academic of a previous generation:
In my 24 hour continental timetable I divide my time each day as follows:
2 hours of pure sleep
1 hour of sleep dreaming about administration
2 hours of sleep dreaming about research
1 hour of sleep dreaming about teaching
½ hour of pure eating
1 hour of eating with research (= reading)
1 hour of eating with colleagues and of conversation on teaching and research
½ hour of pure walking
½ hour of walking with research (= thinking)
12 ½ hours of research with preparation for teaching (= reading, writing or also thinking)
1 hour of official teaching without thinking
1 hour of official administration without thinking
For ever yours
'Nuff said, I think.
June 18th, 2014
Jennifer in paradise: the story of the first Photoshopped image…
"It was a good image to do demos with," Knoll recalls. "It was pleasing to look at and there were a whole bunch of things you could do with that image technically." And maybe there was something in it that hinted at the kind of more perfect world that Photoshop might reveal. Knoll would leave a copy of the software in a package including the picture at the companies he'd visited. Often he'd return to find that the programmers had cloned his wife.
[Via Wis[s]e Words]
June 18th, 2014
June 17th, 2014
Never mind Swift, the programming language of the future is clearly ArnoldC:
Programming language based on the one-liners of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Although the one-liners of Arnold Schwarzenegger are fairly well known the true semantics of the uttering is yet to be understood. This project tries to discover new meanings from the Arnold movies with the means of computer science.
TALK TO THE HAND "hello world"
YOU HAVE BEEN TERMINATED
Be sure to consult the wiki for further details.
[Via Waxy.org: Links Miniblog]
June 16th, 2014
Maggie Greene has published some scans of a 1980 Chinese adaptation of Star Wars in comic form that diverges from the original in interesting ways:
The actual lianhuanhua is a fascinating document, with weird bits sticking out here and there; but it's also a fanciful imagining (I think) of American – or generalized Western – life, especially evident in the dinner scene where a duck (?) is being stuck into a toaster oven (!) & the table has not only a little hot plate, but a crockpot (or rice cooker) there, too. The artist also makes some amusing flubs – Chewbacca appears in some scenes in a relatively credible way, in others looking like an outtake from Planet of the Apes. It also often looks like something out of a Cold War-era propaganda poster, at least where the details are concerned. Were the actors really garbed in Soviet looking space suits? Was Darth Vader really pacing before a map bearing the location of the Kennedy Space Center?
The art isn't bad at all. If I saw a copy of this with the text translated into English, I'd be tempted to pick this up.
June 13th, 2014
Talking of Kaiju, anyone for a Rampaging Kaiju Garden Gnome?
It all starts out so innocently. You might notice one or two on the ground under a rose bush or near a climbing vine, but you don't think much of it. Then one day you go outside and realize your entire garden has been overrun. What are your options? You could coat everything with some highly-toxic pesticide and hope for the best. Or you could install a Kaiju in your garden, guaranteed to get rid of those pesky gnomes. This guy spares gnone.