Folder: Words

Daily Links

Just one link today because what a fucking bummer.

The death of the internet

The death of the internet

I have loved the internet — its promise, beauty, and potential — as I’ve loved the world. But the internet today is a place I do not recognize. Trump, Facebook, Twitter, and the serial abusers they all rely on have destroyed what it was, and now they’re working hard to kill it entirely. And when it dies, something bigger than a network dies — the “real world” goes with it. It’s half gone already.

theoutline.com/post/2558/death-of-the-internet-net-neutrality-donald-trump-alt-right-gamergate-facebook-twitter/

Daily Links

Australian man uses snack bags as Faraday cage to block tracking by employer
Tom Colella used mylar snack bags to block GPS tracking via his employer-assigned personal digital assistant to go out to play a round of golf—more than 140 times—while he reported he was offsite performing repairs.

Meet the man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account
“I didn’t do any crime or anything evil, but I feel like Pablo Escobar,” he said, “and slowly it’s getting really annoying.”

Humans fighting giant beasts! I’ll pass.

How many games shown at E3 featured humans fighting giants, or giant beasts, or zombies? I’ll admit the games look well executed, but can we get some new concepts? God damn.

Over the last few days I’ve actually convinced myself that Steep from Ubisoft might be a game I could really get into. The intro/reveal felt stiff (can scripted game intros get any worse?) but the idea of it has grown on me. I described it to a friend as Skate but on a mountain range – which seems like a phrase the PR people should have used to sell it.

Increasingly I’m looking for fun gameplay experiences that don’t demand solid 2-3 hour blocks of my time (sorry, Metal Gear Solid V, I love you so much but I’m also a husband and dad). Ori and the Blind Forest filled that spot really well for me – a game that is as rewarding in 20 minute blocks as it is in 2 hours of play.

Steep genuinely looks like something I can add into my unwind-at-home routine really easily: an open world mountain I can ride pretty much endlessly, while finding new lines and spots.


Register for the Steep beta.
15 mins of gameplay (Polygon).
15 mins of gameplay (IGN).

Blogging? Blogging.

I’ve finally re-re-re-fired up this blog as a blog.

Regularly reading Dave Winer write about the open web, and where blogging fits in around all these walled gardens, has made a lot of sense to me lately.

I post very regularly on Google+ (you should follow me there), and for a while I’ve felt like my mini-rants were worthwhile, but perhaps not ‘blog worthy’. That line of thinking is horse shit, of course. A blog can be whatever you want it to be, and whether people are actively reading it or not shouldn’t necessarily be the primary motivator for me.

So here I am, desperately trying to post daily-ish, even if it’s just sharing a great link or two. I’m hoping that staying motivated by staying disciplined will help me become a better writer (of blog posts, at least).

And at the very least if no one ever reads this, at least it’s still mine.


Further reading:

“A good blog exists independently of people reading it. Even if no one read my blog, I’d still write it. Not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s something like this — I would still cook even if I was the only person eating.” – A note about blogging

“We can avoid this, it’s not too late. You have a choice. Post your writing to places other than Medium. And when you see something that’s interesting and not on Medium, give it some extra love. Push it to your friends. Like it on Facebook, RT it on Twitter. Give people more reasons to promote diversity on the web, not just in who we read, but who controls what we read.” – Anywhere but Medium

“Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. The last great online bargain.” – Read more blogs

“I’ve said this 1,000 times before and I’ll continue to repeat myself (since I get new readers fairly consistently) but the only thing that matters when writing (publicly, privately, for personal use or professionally) is that you write. Period. Nothing else really matters.” – Results from a Blog Experiment: 365 Days and 5,000 Posts

Don’t Call It A Choke

Photo credit: ESPN

After The Oklahoma Thunder lost Game 6 to the Golden State Warriors, tying the series at 3 all, the “choke” echo chamber started firing up.

Honestly, I’m completely over the ‘choking narrative’.

It’s lazy.

Why analyse the series when you can just yell “CHOKE”, right? Seven games worth of defensive rotations, pick and roll coverage, cross matches, game-to-game adjustments, shooting slumps – don’t worry about it. Just yell ‘choke’.

It’s dismissive.

The choke narrative completely ignores the fact that another team (The Warriors) was actively trying to beat them. And it completely minimises the sacrifice and hard work that the OKC players and coaches and staff made, not only for this series, but for the entire season.


It’s myopic.

Klay Thompson shot an NBA record 11 threes in Game 6. Klay and Steph beat the Playoff record for threes in a series, each. Yeah, OKC ‘choked’ though. The choke narrative ignores context.

It’s arbitrary.

What’s an appropriate number of wins or losses before a team chokes? If OKC went up 3-2 after a 2-2 tie and lost, is that still a choke?

It’s dickish, and do we really need more dick behaviour in the world?

If you’re a genuine GSW fan you’re excused, but for the rest of you: ease up. You just witnessed an incredible series in which both teams laid it all on the line in a Conference Finals matchup for the ages. Maybe take some time to appreciate it.

Vaundog

My dear friend Vaughan would have turned 40 this year.

Vaughan and I bonded through music and basketball. We sat for hours with a Dr Sample SP-202, a Tascam 4 track, and an old hi-fi record player with a paper towel ‘slipmat’, creating loops and beats and experimenting with sound.

loops

Some time around 2000, Vaughan bought a Pentium computer with a decent sound card, which upgraded our musical noodlings from 4 tracks on tape to 16 tracks of digital thanks to a free version Cool Edit Pro. Over the years Vaughan wrote and recorded many songs in his various Auckland flats, on the farm in Kaihere, and alone in the Coromandel while renovating his parents’ new house. I’ve had a collection of his tracks backed up for years now (first on old data CDs, then an iPod and now in the cloud).

Since Vaughan’s passing I’ve struggled to listen to his music at all. Attempting to do so has brought on a deep sadness which conflicts heavily with my enjoyment of his music and those golden memories of hanging out.

But this changed for me in March when his sisters celebrated his memory on his 40th birthday in a Facebook post. Listening to his music now I still feel his loss, but the sadness has diminished over time. I’m able to enjoy his art again. I miss you Vaughan, but I’m glad I can still hear your voice in your music.

Twitter’s Mobile App Timeline is a Clusterf*ck

I had to leave work early on Wednesday and with just over a quarter left of the Thunder vs the Warriors game I thought I’d stream the rest of the contest on my commute. Sadly, I had no such luck as the NBA app doesn’t stream video on Android N at the moment (sadface).

So I decided to follow along on Twitter.

I’m rubbish at curating Twitter lists (the concept and execution is pretty obtuse, which doesn’t help) but I follow a bunch of great NBA Twitter profiles, so my timeline lights up during these Conference Finals playoff games.

Instead of using Falcon Pro, my go-to 3rd party Twitter client, I thought I’d give the native Twitter app a shot to enjoy those sweet, juicy in-line Vines people share during the game. What I experienced instead, was an avalanche of fail as Twitter bombarded me with everything BUT the tweets I was interested in.

Let’s take a quick look.

I Have Recurring Corneal Erosion Syndrome – What The Shit?

My daughter, for as long as she’s been able to move her arms and grab things, has held our ears for comfort. Even now – she’s two and a half – she’ll demand “EAR! EAR!” if she needs to ‘recharge’, as we call it.

EAR!

When she was smaller and we’d read stories and settle her before bed, she’d quickly reach up behind her, searching for an ear. Three separate times in the space of about a year she reached blindly and thumbed me directly in the right eye. Thumbnail first. Oh dear God, those tiny, razor sharp toddler thumbnails. The pain of eye trauma is unique and comes in waves. All three times I thought I was going to vomit.

The pain subsided after a night’s sleep each time, with the assistance of painkillers and ice. But since the last incident I’ve had ongoing problems with my eye. I’ve regularly woken up in the night feeling like my eyeball is stuck, and simply moving my eyeball (close your eyes now and try not to move your bloody eyeballs!) would quickly spark intense pain and tears making it very difficult to sleep.

After several relatively unhelpful visits to local doctors and optometrists, I finally went to the Eye and Ear Hospital in the city and got a diagnosis! Recurring Corneal Erosion Syndrome. It sounds bad but put simply, due to ‘mechanical trauma’ (EG: a thumb to the fucking eye) the cornea gets damaged, and this tends to dry out the eye. The cornea can then stick to the eyelid, and separating them too quickly can cause more damage to the cornea… a vicious cycle. Treatment is pretty simple: gel and drops in the eye every day.

Every time I go through a relatively obtuse but non-life-threatening medical incident I wonder: how the hell did people manage to get through this kind of thing 100 years ago? 800 years ago? We’re extremely fortunate to be living when and where we live. To be able to wander into a building that’s packed to the rafters with experts and walk out with a solution to my problem is incredible, and we take it for granted.

A few thoughts as I move forward with my life and hopefully out of eye-hell.

Advice for prospective parents: your kids will beat the hell out of you.

Yes, even when they’re babies. They’ll swing their arms around, flail wildly, hang from your neck, kick you in the balls, pinch you, poke your fucking eyes, jump on you, jump off you, and play the drums on your head with cutlery. And more. Yes, even the babies. If you have your first newborn in the house: beware. You weren’t previously living in a house where the other residents were learning to do things like breathe or use their muscles for the first time. You are now.

Medical science is incredible.

Not only did I get a prompt diagnosis, I was prescribed a course of treatment, and the ingredients of the medicine for my eye sound like the names of an alien’s stepmother. It’s absolutely gob smacking to me how completely idiotic humans can be, and yet we have centuries upon centuries of learning and discovery that has progressively protected us, and kept us safe, and healed us faster and better, and stopped us from dying as easily. The next time you get great medical treatment, take a little time to really appreciate it.

Donate to a medical charity. Today.

I live in Australia where most healthcare is free and the standard of care is high, but many people don’t have access to basic health services and care. Our family regularly donates to Doctors Without Borders. Do a quick bit of research and choose a medical/health charity to send a few dollars to a few times a year. Wink.

UK Artists Make More Money from Vinyl than YouTube

Vinyl | punyweakling.com

“The fact that sales revenues dipped in a record year for British music shows clearly that something is fundamentally broken in the music market,” BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor told the Guardian. So who’s responsible? Taylor places the blame on “dominant tech platforms like YouTube,” which he says are “dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists.”

Recorded music as a consumer item is less than 100 years old as an industry, and the tech behind it has changed rapidly. Taking a long view historically, there’s been very little stability in the music industry as a commercial undertaking at all. The Internet has redefined an industry that’s already been completely redefined multiple times since records became popular. We’re still at the very start of this adjustment period, and the entrenched entities are flailing about a bit while the dust is starting to settle.

Blaming dominant tech platforms for year-on-year discrepancies is myopic, but the music industry as a whole – and record companies in particular – have never been particularly visionary beyond the hunt for profits. “…dictating terms so they can grab the value from music for themselves, at the expense of artists” – yeah, that sounds familiar.

Read: Music artists are still making more money from vinyl than YouTube (qz.com)


Related:

Subscription-based music streaming, on the other hand, has yet to prove itself to be a viable model, even after hundreds of millions of investment dollars raised and spent. For our part, we are committed to offering an alternative that we know works. As long as there are fans who care about the welfare of their favorite artists and want to help them keep making music, we will continue to provide that direct connection. And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to provide, and that is a model whose benefits we will continue to champion.? – Bandcamp

Don’t Use Allo…?

Google is giving consumers two options: Insecure with a wonderful user experience, or secure with an inferior experience. What do you think the masses are going to choose? – Motherboard

I think this article misses the point somewhat. When you need the app to be useful you’ll use the useful features, and when you need it to be secure you’ll turn encryption on.

The fact is, for me at least, 99.9% of my comms are completely innocuous. If the Google assistant can make a small handful of things easier for me, then I’m totally fine with that.

Also this cracked me up:

Early sentiment about Allo is overwhelmingly positive…

They’re obviously not on G+.


Link: Don’t Use Allo (Motherboard)

Google Save

Google Saves

So Google Save is pretty interesting. I tend to keep stuff in a weird combination of Pocket (for articles), Pinterest (for mood board stuff), a Twitter “read later” list and a few other places. I wonder if this could become a real catch-all for me.

A few observations:

  • You can edit the link title AND description, which is pretty interesting
  • No inline player for YouTube, seem like an oversight
  • No reading mode, so Pocket will still be my go-to place for a raw reading list
  • This seems best used for making Collections of links – think: researching a topic, or collecting links on areas of specific interest
  • You can’t currently share a Tag/collection, but surely that’s coming…

Links:

Thinking out loud: Audio Articles

The more I think about this the more sense it makes. If you’ve invested time and resources into a feature article, you’re absolutely stark raving mad if you don’t release an audio version of the article simultaneously.

Paying for mobile games

“It’s time to embrace $10 games on Android. We’re quickly reaching a point where new technology is going to demand a greater expense for a better product, and there’s no reason any game developer that creates something to entertain you for 2+ hours a week for months is considered less valuable than whatever you had for lunch today.”

Russell Holly writing for Android Central

The problem for me here is one of comparisons. I’ll happily pay $10 for a game – but what do I consider $10 worth of value?

On sale, Ori and the Blind Forest was $12, and the Abe’s Oddysee remake is currently $10.

To my mind Alto’s Adventure is sure as hell not worth $10. I’d pay $5 to completely remove the ads I suppose – but now I’m acting all arbitrary. (PS – it’s a good game and you should check it out).

I can understand the idea: “games are worth more, so developers should charge more, and gamers should spend more”, but I think the reality is a bit more complex than that.

Sony is at the forefront of mobile photography innovation

One year ago I tweeted:

“If you haven’t been paying attention, the consumer camera space is erupting right now. Phone cameras lit a fire under the incumbents.”

That was before Sony released the critically acclaimed RX100 (and it’s follow up, the RX100M2). Sony has been pushing extremely hard in this space, releasing innovative and exciting cameras to consumers, while doing great things with glass and image quality at these reduced sizes.