Feb 17 2024

The Big Picture

The Big Picture: How We Got Into This Mess, And How We Get Out of It from Robert Reich.1

[Via Memex 1.1]


  1. Where we” is the United States of America. A British version would depict the Thatcher revolution starting a couple of years before the Reagan revolution and replace the Hilary Clinton/Trump thing with Brexit and Boris Johnson, but the general direction of travel wouldn’t be that different.↩︎

Feb 12 2024

How 1984 almost didn’t happen

Just over 40 years ago, Apple decided to run a TV advert during the Superbowl. Just the one time, mind.

GOLDBERG I had them do a theater test. We get back the results, and it’s the worst business commercial that they’ve ever tested, in terms of persuasiveness.

SCULLEY The board said, We don’t think you should run it. Try to sell the time.”

GOLDBERG And it was Jay Chiat who told us to drag our feet, basically, when we were told to sell off the time on the Super Bowl.

HAYDEN At long last, it came down that we would run the 1984” commercial once.

Hard to imagine a world where Apple didn’t run this ad. Whether or not it was a persuasive advert for a very expensive piece of technology that could just barely accomplish what it claimed to do,1 it certainly reminded anyone paying attention of the contrast with IBMs vision of the future of computing.

[Via Pixel Envy]


  1. Obviously it’s possible that a decade from now the Apple Vision Pro will be seen as a crazy attempt to wrest design leadership from Meta in a market that never quite came to anything. Or a decade from now someone will have figured out how to build the underpinnings of these devices into a normal-ish seat of sunglass frames and Sony or Samsung will be selling them by the tens of millions every year. It’ll be fun to see.↩︎

Feb 8 2024

Standing room only

Interesting to see an Apple Vision Pro in action in something resembling a real-world environment.

Seems to me that hemming yourself into your living and working space with pinned windows showing various apps would get old very quickly. But then, I spent most of today working from home1 hammering out replies to emails and I could imagine myself doing that surrounded by various spreadsheets and windows from my email client pinned in front of the walls of the room I was working in.

Would it seem more or less oppressive if those windows were hovering everywhere the eye could see rather than all fitting on one display2 in front of my keyboard? I can imagine the immediate effect being liberating, as I spent time rearranging windows into the optimal pattern, but by the end of the day I suspect the novelty would have worn off.

No question, this video looks as futuristic as hell. Whether we want to work like that is a different matter.

[Via Scripting News]


  1. I woke up, looked out at the rain, checked the weather forecast and saw that rain was going to be sticking around all day and decided to save myself a trip to work that would be a mix of 30-ish minutes of walking across town through the rain with 5 minutes on the Metro somewhere in the middle, then the same again in reverse at the day’s end. It’s the only time this week that I’ve not gone into the office, so I’m already well over the impending 60% office time target that the UK Civil Service is supposedly set to impose on us low-level staff from next month. (Unless local management determine that our office can’t cope with 60% attendance and rule that the 60% standard won’t be applied to our office. Nobody’s saying anything official about that just yet.↩︎

  2. Sometimes I have both my laptop display and an external monitor on, but I have to scroll around lots of big spreadsheets and sometimes I find it’s better to just switch which app window is frontmost with one keystroke as I jump back and forth from Excel to Outlook composing an email that includes some of that spreadsheet data.↩︎

Feb 3 2024

Sideloading constraints constrained

Apple’s reaction to the EUs concerns about the App Store’s effects on the smartphone market is something I’d not paid close attention to, since the only device I own that was likely to be involved - an iPad Mini - is outdated enough to be a couple of OS releases out of date so unlikely to be affected by future OS changes.

This 9to5mac article reveals that I needn’t have bothered to pay even that much attention:

The ability to install third-party app marketplaces and download apps from third-party app marketplaces will be an option only on the iPhone.

The new prompt in Safari that asks users to pick a default browser is coming only to the iPhone.

Support for third-party browser engines is coming only to the iPhone.

The ability to set default NFC and wallet apps will only be available on the iPhone.

I don’t care very much about sideloading, but the continued inability to run alternative web browsers that actually use different rendering engines, or to set defaults for services to non-Apple options, does hurt a bit.

I’ll still replace my iPad Mini 4 with another iPad model1 when it eventually becomes unusable, because it’s been a terrific workhorse for me for quite a while now. It was worth what I paid for it, unquestionably. It’s just that Apple are choosing to defend their position by limiting iPadOS, and while I get that the numbers point in that direction that doesn’t make it less of a disappointment for other paying Apple customers.

The rationale for not rolling these changes out under iPadOS seems to be that the EUs action was driven by concerns about the smartphone market. iPads are absolutely, definitively not smartphones: so why should tablets using basically the same operating system be affected by what the EU want for smartphones?I don’t care very much about sideloading, but the continued inability to run alternative web browsers that actually use different rendering engines or to set defaults for services to non-Apple options does hurt a bit. I’ll still replace my iPad Mini 4 with another iPad model2 when it eventually becomes unusable, because it’s been a terrific workhorse for me for quite a while now. It was worth what I paid for it, unquestionably. 3

Also (as I suspected all along) these various changes in response to the EUs legislation are not going to apply in the UK

Another Brexit benefit that we should all be sure to remember next time we get to use a ballot box.

[Via jwz]


  1. Very likely with whatever the latest variant of the iPad Mini is at that point in time. Depending mostly upon how much Apple screw around with the pricing and features mix relative to the other lowish-cost iPad models available at that time. I will look around and see what the non-Apple small tablet/phone-aimed-at-note-taking tablet options are, really I will, but it’ll take a lot for them to convince me not to go down the Apple route again.↩︎

  2. Very likely with whatever the latest variant of the iPad Mini is at that point in time. Depending mostly upon how much Apple screw around with the pricing and features mix relative to the other lowish-cost iPad models available at that time. I will look around and see what the non-Apple small tablet/phone-aimed-at-note-taking tablet options are, really I will, but it’ll take a lot for them to convince me not to go down the Apple route again.↩︎

  3. When iPad users rejoiced at the launch of iPadOS that at last Apple’s tablets would be able to differentiate themselves from their smaller more lightweight brethren, this was not what we had in mind.↩︎

Feb 3 2024

Losing yourself

Having watched this Youtube audion/video mashup of Eminem vs ELO I have five discernible thoughts:

Now I need to go back and hit freeze frame before that, too, disappears from view.

Sources

[Via MetaFilter]

Jan 31 2024

Apple Vision Pro reviewed (not by me)

Interesting to watch (or read, if you prefer) Nilay Patel’s take on the Apple Vision Pro. (Text version|Youtube video)

I’m never in a million years going be paying Apple for one of my own at those prices, but it’s still good to see what the Vision Pro looks like in use. One day there’ll be a Vision Air or Vision Mini and it’s good to have some sense of the roots of the product class.1

Interesting to hear Patel note that the way the device uses where you’re looking to focus actions makes you permanently conscious of what exactly you’re looking at. I cant help but wonder whether Apple will introduce some sort of neutral’ mode and associated gesture that temporarily disables the direction-of-vision-equals-selection functionality so that the user won’t be in danger of activating stuff that they only want to gaze upon.

I’d imagine that in the absence of Stage Manager or Expose within months there’ll be umpteen utilities to enhance window management on the Vision Pro. It’ll be so tempting to fill your virtual desktop with overlapping windows that they mean to come back to one day. Users will either need iron self-discipline or a really capable window manager.2 I’m already capable of having way too many tabs open in Safari: I dread to think what I could do with that entire 3D virtual desktop to play with.

The bottom line is that it’s a hell of a version 1 of the product.

Look back to 40 year-old reviews of the Apple Mac for another Apple computing platform that was overpriced and underpowered at launch. Give Apple a decade or so to see what turns up next. They have deep enough pockets to persevere with the visionOS/Vision Pro combo, so I might yet be hankering after a Vision Air or Vision Mini or whatever because I’m desperate to escape the constraints of my laptop’s desktop monitor.3

[Via Tao Of Mac]


  1. If Apple won’t do a stripped-down version of the device, someone else will. It’ll be cruder, but I’d like to think it’ll have learned some lessons from what Apple have rolled out. Whether cruder will be good enough, only time will tell.↩︎

  2. Or both.↩︎

  3. Or we might just have better tools for managing virtual desktops under macOS and iPadOS by then. I’d prefer the latter, but we’ll see how things work out.↩︎

Jan 31 2024

UK National Grid Live

Fascinating to see a dashboard showing the UK National Grid in action.

UK Grid Live

[Via Memex 1.1]

Jan 27 2024

All The Types Of Science Fiction

McSweeney’s tells us All The Types Of Science Fiction:

5 What if your cock was a bomb?

6 Rockets are not phallic, please stop saying that

[…]

25 Margaret Atwood, sharing with us her gift of prophecy

[Via LinkMachineGo]

Jan 20 2024

My I began to fray

The Hofmann Wobble, by Ben Lerner depicts some of the drawbacks of being a Wikipedia editor:

I did not think I was actually a marathoner. Or Mormon or an amateur military historian. (Or a mother of four in Memphis or a man in Boston focused on improving autism entries, etc.) I wasn’t crazy in that way. But the fact that I spent fourteen hours a day being numerous, writing in so many voices, had an effect. My I began to fray.

For an alternative point of view on Wikipedia, see annie rauwerda’s letter to the editor at Harper’s.

For what it’s worth, I find it amazing that Wikipedia is still as good as it is. It could be better, but in general there are more Wikipedians aspiring to moving the site’s content in the right direction, expanding the amount of accurate information about our world and all the stuff that’s in it, than bad actors pushing in the opposite direction for their own reasons. Long may that continue. 1

[Via MetaFilter]


  1. I’ve been sending the WikiMedia Foundation donations since 2014.↩︎

Jan 19 2024

Star Wars Infographic

The only fitting description of the SWANH.NET Star Wars Infographic is epic”.

123 metres long. 1

A New Hope Infographic

I both wish I still owned a printer while also being very glad that I have access to multiple computing devices that have a graphical user interface that provides me with scroll bars so that I don’t need a printer to appreciate this fully.

[Via MetaFilter]


  1. I was delighted to realise that a hovering the mouse pointer over the document title towards the top-right of the page reveals what amount to chapter markers. Not enough of them, but they’re there.↩︎

Jan 13 2024

Murder Camp

Nice work.

[Via Vimeo Staff Picks]

Jan 7 2024

Minimum Wage Clock

The Minimum Wage Clock is quite a thing:

This began as a quick-and-dirty experiment to visualize the UK National Minimum Wage in real-time, inspired by Blake Fall-Conroy’s Minimum Wage Machine.

A possible alternate title for Luna’s post: The Total Perspective Vortex.


Response #1: A burning desire to present this data as a bar chart or a line chart.

Response #2: Having the first few entries be indistinguishable1 from the line that represents £0.00 on the X-axis was just too depressing.

Response #3: Definitely not, Poor Mark Zuckerberg, falling behind his peers like that.”

[Via MetaFilter]

2024-01-07, 22:49. Post updated to add a link to an image of the bar chart I created this morning. JR

2024-01-10, 23:07. Post updated to point to copy of the image of my bar chart on this domain instead of on Dropbox. JR


  1. Yes, I deliberately used only the figures presented in US$ for my graph, because I didn’t feel like taking the time to figure out/look up the exchange rates used in the data sources for the sake of a blogpost on a Sunday morning. I’m lazy, which is no doubt why my salary is right down there in the X-axis baseline, alongside all the rest of the undeserving poor.↩︎