Month: December 2020
Reading stories about Amazon omitting order details in emails, apparently in order to stop other suppliers from scraping the email content, a few months ago I wondered:
The mystery isn’t about why Amazon are doing this: I’m just wondering why I seem to have missed out?
Yesterday I placed my first Amazon UK order in ages requiring delivery of physical goods and my order confirmation email contained a truncated version of my order, just like everyone else has apparently been getting for a while now.
I feel seen.1
- OK, seen by a vast, dispassionate, automated commercial enterprise that simply wants as much of my disposable income as possible to pass through Amazon’s systems and doesn’t know or care whether what I’m buying is making my life better, but still… ↩
Note to readers: do not, under any circumstances, be consuming drinks while you read this tweet.
There I was casually sipping a Diet Coke and scrolling through my Twitter feed, and then my brain processed the content of that message. Cue rapid exhalation of the Coke – much of it through my nose – followed by fifteen minutes of hysterical giggling while trying to remember to breathe occasionally at the notion of Ewan McGregor returning to the Star Wars universe to play "ponytail Derek."
I don’t know who came up with this stuff, but these are not the people I want representing the rest of us at First Contact.
I realise this isn’t going to be anywhere remotely near the top of the Biden administration’s list of Trump-era decisions that need fixing, but someone really needs to have another go at this before it gets a chance to get entrenched in the public mind as the name of that branch of the US military.
Further to this earlier post about how Microsoft planned to have Microsoft 365 track user productivity, Microsoft issued a graceful apology, very likely delivered through gritted teeth for that feature that someone sneaked into the software they were planning on selling to businesses everywhere they could:
Jeffrey Snover, a veteran Microsoft engineer and CTO of the company’s “modern workforce transformation” unit, praised the change and thanked Wolfie Christl, the Austrian privacy activist who first raised alarm about the feature, for the feedback.
“The thing I love most about Microsoft is that when we screw up, we acknowledge the error and fix it,” Snover tweeted. “10,000 thanks to Wolfie Christl and others for the feedback which led to this change!”
Shameless. Quite shameless. Be interesting to see what portions of that functionality remain even after this.
[Via Michael Tsai]
David Squires shares with the world his take on The Queen’s Gambit: Hungry Hungry Hippos edition:
A popular tabletop game that requires considerable guile and skill
Has to be said, there’s a small part of me that would have really liked to see this.1 And a large part of me that thinks that take on the project might have had a little more difficulty in getting funded by Netflix.
- Not least because I suspect Anya Taylor-Joy wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at having to adapt her performance a bit. ↩
Nice snark from Molly Templeton at Tor.com, reacting to the latest trailer for comet-impact disaster movie Greenland :
Greenland takes the general premise of Deep Impact and kicks it up a notch: Why simply have one comet on a trajectory to strike the earth when you could also have many smaller pieces of the comet wreak utter havoc first? They’re like the worst opening band humanity has ever had to sit through.
Yes, of course Gerard Butler is in this.
It’s as if he’s adopted the Michael Caine career strategy 1 without ever managing to do a single decent film along the way. Which is probably best viewed as a reflection of the extent to which even actors who end up in leading-man roles are at the mercy of forces beyond their control when it comes to the quality of the end product. 2
A perfect end to the mystery:
— 🔸 Richard Starkings 🔸 (@RichStarkings) December 6, 2020
[Via RT by @cstross]
I never got round to reading Ready Player One because judging by the reviews I read at the time it sounded as if the book was unutterably proud of itself for stringing together lists of pop cultural trivia for geeks to recognise. Judging by Laura Hudson’s review for Slate , I don’t think I’ll be in any rush to devour Ready Player Two:
A cackling villain appears to menace our heroes and shout mean things that sound remarkably similar to negative reviews of Cline’s previous work: “Don’t you kids ever get tired of picking through the wreckage of a past generation’s nostalgia?” Wade responds by telling the bad man to go away and leave them alone, and subsequently drives off to fight Prince in a little red Corvette while wearing a raspberry beret. (This is not a joke.)
I have a feeling Spielberg isn’t going to be in a rush to put together another big screen adaptation of Cline’s work. Not that the first one was all that wonderful.1 I get that Spielberg was probably the one pop cultural figure with the clout 2 to get the rights to use so many pieces of other peoples’ intellectual property in his film, but exercising that clout in such an unworthy cause3 was not worth doing for this story.
- Sure, it was a challenge to pull together a replica of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining when the plot led our heroes down that path, but I like to think that Spielberg directed those scenes fully aware that Stanley Kubrick was looking down from above and shaking his head at how small an achievement that truly was. ↩
- Which is to say, the cash. I’m rather glad that according to Wikipedia he failed to get to use material from Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in this project. I’m still deeply unhappy that the film made such use of the rather distinctive profile of a replica of the Iron Giant. Dammit, he deserved better than to have such a throwaway part. ↩
- As I understand it the scenes on the sets from The Shining weren’t part of the Ernest Cline novel. I suppose it could have been worse: we could have enjoyed a scene based on a clue to be found via a careful reading of a set of zero-G toilet use instructions that Heywood Floyd ponders briefly during his travels in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not sure why the gang would need to find themselves visiting the virtual set rather than just googling for the text like they were savages, but I’m sure the screenwriters could have come up with a good reason. Maybe that prankster Kubrick had embedded a vital clue. ↩
2000 me: Wow you still work on the web, that’s amazing. It must be so easy to publish really interesting web pages.
2020 me:Technically, well, yes. Anything you could do 20 years ago, you can do today, and you can do much, much more. It’s cheaper, faster, and just all around better than it used to be. But it’s also far more complicated, and as always, it’s how people push against constraints that makes things interesting. So the overall interestingness has gone down, while the potential has increased. […]
It’s not as if View Source… has gone away, more that the size and scope of what it’ll reveal is that bit harder to unpick than it used to be.