All Posts in Links of Note

May 17, 2017 - No Comments!

100 Million Books

I have a new homepage, and it’s 100 Million Books.

This simple project shows you a new book, and a quote from the book, each time you open up a new tab. The project prides itself in having no 'algorithms' and no barriers in terms of genre of perspective.

Here's why they've created it, in their words:

It might help open minds by promoting a diverse array of ideas. It might help people realize the sheer breadth of smart ideas, emotional stories, and insightful perspectives out there they don’t know. It might help them acknowledge that there are millions more they won’t ever know. These people may end up getting inspired by an idea that no friend (or robot) would ever tell them about. Perhaps at some point in this process, humanity may find some more humility.

This is a good project, and I've already added half a dozen books to my reading list because of it.

May 16, 2017 - No Comments!

‘What’s Happening With Me’ – Biz Stone

Biz Stone, who just sold Jelly to Pinterest, posted a Medium blog announcing his return to Twitter. As a longtime Twitter user, it's easy to feel pessimistic about the decisions they're making; yet this makes me strangely hopeful that they're focusing in on steering the ship in the right direction.

Here's Biz on what his role entails:

My top focus will be to guide the company culture, that energy, that feeling. This is where Jack, and Twitter’s inestimable CMO, Leslie Berland, feel I can have the most powerful impact. It’s important that everyone understands the whole story of Twitter and each of our roles in that story. I’ll shape the experience internally so it’s also felt outside the company.

I think we can all agree that the 'internal experience' of Twitter needs restructuring. From the outside, it seems as if they've been deep in the midst of an identity crisis. Are they a streaming platform? A news site? They seem to understand that their place is to share 'what's happening', but both the how and even the what have been unclear.

I'll be looking for external signs of change in the comings months.

May 16, 2017 - No Comments!

‘Apple’s New Campus: an Exclusive Look Inside the Mothership’

You will certainly see this Wired profile of Apple's campus linked all over the web today, and I suggest you read it. Not only is it the first real look at the campus I've seen, but it's also full of some beautiful human details.

My favorite is a reflection from Norman Foster, one of the chief architects on the project:

Apple Park may be an architectural tour de force, but Foster has grasped its essential truth: At heart it is the realization of a dying man’s wish to eternally shape the workplace of the company he founded. Yes, Apple insists that by working in a place where artificial hills are dotted with pines transplanted from Christmas tree farms in the Mojave Desert, its employees will make better products. But didn’t Apple create its marvelous Apple II in a bedroom and its ground­breaking Macintosh in a low-slung office park building? The employees who work at the new campus are leaving behind the buildings that provided sufficient inspiration to invent the iPhone.

It’s probably more accurate to say that Apple Park is the architectural avatar of the man who envisioned it, the same man who pushed employees to produce those signature products. In the absence of his rigor and clarity, he left behind a headquarters that embodies both his autobiography and his values. The phrase that keeps coming up in talks with key Apple figures is “Steve’s gift.” Behind that concept is the idea that in the last months of his life, Jobs expended significant energy to create a workplace that would benefit Apple’s workers for perhaps the next century. “This was a hundred-year decision,” Cook says. “And Steve spent the last couple of years of his life pouring himself in here at times when he clearly felt very poorly.

Indeed, it could be said that one of the reasons that Apple's products have been so successful over the years is because they have all felt like "Steve's gifts" to the world. The iPhone and the iPad and the various models of Macs have all felt like a single person's expression of computing, given to the world not as presents, not products.

The fact that the company is still working hard on these creations should put worried Apple fans at ease. This is an organization dedicated to tireless work in the name of ideals, with or without Steve Jobs at the helm.

April 30, 2017 - No Comments!

‘I Have a Riddle For You’

Here's an incredible example of the way that a film viewed at 60 FPS can totally ruin the original intent. Batman Forever was no Citizen Kane, but upping the resolution and frame rate of this film makes everything intended for a cinematic experience come to life in a horrible way.

You can watch the same footage in its original frame rate, and the difference is night and day. The costumes look better, the green screens look more natural, and the camera zooms don't feel quite as cheesy.

This is going to be interesting to watch as films are 'updated' for modern screens.

April 20, 2017 - Comments Off on ‘An Aggregated Oral History of 2009 Films Ruined By the Last WGA Strike’

‘An Aggregated Oral History of 2009 Films Ruined By the Last WGA Strike’

I greatly enjoyed this article detailing some of the major franchises which suffered due to the last writer' strike. My favorite example? X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman, actor: “It was the writer’s strike, so we couldn’t have a writer. Literally, the script would say things like, ‘Deadpool comes in, talking a mile a minute, very funny.’ Uh, where’s the dialogue? We’d say: ‘Yeah man, do whatever you can.’”

Ryan Reynolds, actor: “So we were in the middle of production, there were no writers, no anything. Every line I have in the movie I just wrote myself because in the script we had, it said, ‘Wade Wilson shows up, talks really fast.’ I was like, ‘What?! What am I supposed to do with that?’”

What are you supposed to do with that, indeed.

April 18, 2017 - Comments Off on ‘The Hot New Hip-Hop Producer Who Does Everything on His iPhone’

‘The Hot New Hip-Hop Producer Who Does Everything on His iPhone’

Here's an interesting article from Wired on an 18-year old producer who relies on the simple setup of an iPhone and an iRig.

The video is worth watching to see Steve Lacy at work, and I appreciate the article's lede:

A few minutes after Steve Lacy arrived at a dingy, weed-clouded recording studio in Burbank, the 18-year-old musician flopped down in a plush leather chair in the control room. Vince, one of the studio’s proprietors, came in to show Lacy how the mixing boards and monitors worked. Lacy didn’t care; he was just in it for the chair. He picked up his new black-and-white Rickenbacker guitar, then reached into his Herschel backpack and yanked out a mess of cables. Out of the mess emerged his iRig, an interface adapter that connects his guitar directly into his iPhone 6. He shoved it into the Lightning port and began tuning his instrument, staring at the GarageBand pitch meter through the cracks on the screen of his phone.

The most important thing in your studio might soon be the chair—and any tools you have are meaningless without the creativity to match it.

April 17, 2017 - Comments Off on Instagram Introduces Organization for Saved Posts

Instagram Introduces Organization for Saved Posts

Today Instagram is starting to roll out 'Collections' for saved posts, meaning that anything you save can go into a special bin.

Last year I wrote about how Instagram had become my guide to the city, and how more and more people are reaching for Instagram instead of Foursquare or Yelp when traveling. This actually had a huge impact on my recent trip to Cambodia as we travelled through Siem Reap: I had initially found a nice hotel through TripAdvisor, but I wasn't positive that my wife and I would love it. Right before we arrived, Kristine showed me a picture of a hotel she found on Instagram, and I immediately cancelled my previous reservation and reserved a room at the spot she found.

It was one of our favorite moments of the entire trip.

When I wrote my own article, there was no way to save posts, but of course a few months ago that feature was rolled out. This is further proof that plenty of other people are using Instagram just like I am…and that the service might not only eat Yelp and Foursquare's lunch, but even Pinterest's.

April 14, 2017 - Comments Off on ‘It starts, yes, when I found this mural at a McDonalds…’

‘It starts, yes, when I found this mural at a McDonalds…’

Cabel Sasser's tweetstorm on the art of Wes Cook is must-read material. The mural he first found is incredible, and I was shocked to find that a piece of his work which made it into the Universal theme park Islands of Adventure is a thing I've seen in real life.

I don't have the same kind of love for Twitter that I used to, but every once in awhile a story comes across my (now greatly reduced) feed that's just perfect. This is one of them.

March 30, 2017 - Comments Off on ‘Catching a Real Ball in Virtual Reality’

‘Catching a Real Ball in Virtual Reality’

I am frankly very skeptical about virtual reality's ability to catch on using today's technology as an example (I'm looking at you, anemic PlayStation VR library) but there's no doubting that there's some interesting possibilites just waiting to be unleashed.

Look no further than this amazing video from Disney to see the potential of VR and AR. Using motion sensing, this technology basically augments the human's ability to catch a ball. That's pretty rad, and still only scratches the surface of what's possible.

March 27, 2017 - Comments Off on ‘The Phone for Humans’

‘The Phone for Humans’

As more and more people discover that their phones are making them crazy, I've seen the occasional Kickstarter campaign pop up dedicated to bringing back the 'dumb phone'. These simpler devices, which are less connected while still providing us with the core essentials we need, seem to have a newfound place in people's lives as they try to disconnect.

Though dumb phones may find some slight popularity, we are without a doubt living in the age of information and technology, and there's no going back. What I'm hoping for (instead of regression) is a device which will evolve into something that knows when to bother me, or when to give me some peace and quiet.

The 'Siempo', currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign, is trying to do just that. Rather than limiting the amount of features the phone includes, the Siempo has well-designed concepts like a powerful and easily-accessible version of 'Do Not Disturb' called 'Physical Pause' where pushing a button on the phone will stop all but the most urgent messages from coming through.

The feature which I'm most interested in is the 'Intention field', a 'pass-through' type of app which lives on the home screen and is intended to be opened whenever you have a thought that needs to be acted on. You can write a person's name, click their contact information, then write a text out and send it without opening your messages. You can jot down a bit of writing and save it to your notes without opening the rest. This is a fantastic idea, and allows you to get something done without being inundated with requests, messages, or other actionable which might break your focus.

A more mindful phone is an idea worth pursuing, and I hope that this project sees the light of day.