75 Artists, 7 Questions, One Very Bad Year - The New York Times →

Trent Reznor, answering the question of what art he's turned to during the lockdown:

I’ve stumbled into the world of YouTube tutorials for various bits of musical gear. I’ve really found some comfort in curling up with a nice long video of someone demonstrating an obscure guitar pedal or synth at length. I’m usually watching and forgetting all information simultaneously but it feels like some kind of accomplishment.

Same, Trent. Same.

The Princess Bride: Home Movie →

A bunch of celebrities remade The Princess Bride while in lockdown. Adorably handmade and 100% better than the cover of Imagine, I promise you.

Halt and Catch Fire Syllabus - Halt and Catch Fire Syllabus →

This site features a curriculum developed around the television series, Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017), a fictional narrative about people working in tech during the 1980s-1990s.

I can think of few TV shows that deserve a syllabus like this. I can't wait to dive into it.

Billie Eilish: Same Interview, The Fourth Year →

For the last four years, Vanity Fair have been doing an interview with Billy Eilish where they ask her the same questions each year year. They first caught her in 2017, right before she blew up, so it's amazing to watch the changes as she's become one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

Laura Hudson live-tweets her readthrough of Ready Player Two →

A hilarious thread from someone who hated the first book as much as I did. But what's with the random, selective takedowns of pictures of her highlighted passages from the book? Who is the copyright holder in cases where it's a photo of a book that only contains whole passages from other, better things?

Orthographic media →

Robin Sloan:

Browsing Twitter the other day, I once again found myself sucked into a far-off event that truly does not matter, and it occurred to me that social media is an orthographic camera.

This has been stuck in my brain since Robin mentioned it because I think he's hit the nail right on the head. I look at my Twitter timeline and see jokes and breakfast updates and outrage given the same space and importance as world-changing news events. No wonder we're all so exhausted.

An AI generated blog made it to the top of Hacker News →

My (least?) favourite part of this story is that some people noticed it might have been written by an AI because there was nothing substantial being said and it was pure regurgitation and these people got downvoted for being rude.

A perfect encapsulation of the Internet in 2020.

The Technium: 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice →

To commemorate his 68th birthday, Kevin Kelly came up with 68 bits of unsolicited advice. Knowledge he's gathered over his 68 years. And they're all wonderful. My absolute favourite is

Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.

This is something I've only recently come to realise and I've been trying to apply it wherever I can. Go read the rest, they're worth your time.

Protecting Lives & Liberty: How Contact Tracing Can Foil COVID-19 & Big Brother →

There's an old, not very funny joke about the two hardest things in computer science being cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors.

But I'd like to add that the real hardest thing is taking complicated concepts and explaining them in simple language so that even non-computer-people can comprehend them. And that's something Nicky Case is great at. Along with security & privacy researcher Carmela Troncoso and epidemiologist Marcel Salathé, Nicky came up an explanation of how DP-3T works that is so great, so understandable that I'd feel comfortable showing it to my mother so she could make sense of it.

The reason I'm linking to it, besides it being a great example of how to do explainers like this properly, is that this is kiiiinda like the model proposed by both Google and Apple for their contact tracing protocol, and that's probably something that's going to become incredibly important over the next few months so it's important people understand it.

How the Death of iTunes Explains the 2010s - The Atlantic →

What the idealized iPhone user and the idealized Gmail user shared was a perfect executive-functioning system: Every time they picked up their phone or opened their web browser, they knew exactly what they wanted to do, got it done with a calm single-mindedness, and then closed their device. This dream illuminated Inbox Zero and Kinfolk and minimalist writing apps. It didn’t work. What we got instead was Inbox Infinity and the algorithmic timeline. Each of us became a wanderer in a sea of content. Each of us adopted the tacit—but still shameful—assumption that we are just treading water, that the clock is always running, and that the work will never end.

This might be one of the best essays on technology (and my favourite topics: the internet that was and the internet that could have been) that I've ever read.

Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication →

I work remotely with a team that's spread across Europe and I just before Christmas, I calculated that I lost a full third of my week to video calls, most of which should have been emails. So I read this and shouted OMFG YES to almost every point. Obviously, every team is different and this guide isn't a one-size-fits-all solution (nor does it claim to be) but there's so much in here to take on board.

(Until I sort out my professional blog, you're just going to have to put up with the occasional work/devops related post on here, sorry about that.)

It's so much more than cooking →

Leaving aside the sexism in this article, I feel like it's articulated a lot of things that have been bothering me subconsciously. My job is 100% remote and I work from home, so there's a sort of expectation in our house that I'll do almost all of the the cooking. And that's sort of fine, because I genuinely enjoy cooking. But it's also extremely stressful because it's not just cooking. It's the planning (two small picky-eating children who even smell garlic and complain "it's too spicy!"), it's the shopping, it's the prepping. It's the mental and emotional labour around cooking that makes it so stressful.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: The Final Rodeo →

I wasn't fully taken with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (On my letterboxd ranking of Tarantino films, it's second from bottom), but Priscilla Page makes a pretty great argument for the film, explaining a lot of the smaller details that idiots like me might have missed, such as:

... their front gate opening to him like the pearly gates of heaven as Maurice Jarre’s “Miss Lily Langtry” plays. (When this song plays in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, the title card reads: “Maybe this isn’t the way it was…it’s the way it should have been.”)

An Elite Athlete's Training Plan →

You don’t necessarily have to train long for this, just smart. This is true for nearly any endurance event, whether it’s a 5K or 100 miles or everyday life. You have to be creative. You have to steal time from the edges of your day, teach yourself to eat on the fly, learn to function on suboptimal sleep, and keep going even when you want to lie down and cry. In other words, just like parenthood.

I'm not an elite athlete, but I am father to two children under 4 and it definitely confirm what this lady is saying - being a parent makes you very good at two things: ruthlessly prioritising and getting comfortable existing at the edges of what most people would consider 'tolerable living'. I haven't had an unbroken night of sleep in almost four years. When I finish something for myself, even something as simple as reading a book, it's because I slowly slowly chipped away at it and it feels like a major accomplishment.

Anyway, this lady's whole article is terrific and is worth reading.

Five Books →

Ever since the death of The Oyster Review, I've been pretty suck for a good source of book recommendations. The Algorithm is good at many things but recommending things that depend on personal tastes and interests is not one of them. Five Books seems like it might be a good replacement though1. It bypasses The Algorithm and asks real live human experts to recommend, as the name implies, five books on a given topic. For example, 5 Sci-Fi books on the future of Europe, or 5 books on The Art of Living.

1

Come to think of it, could Five Books actually be related to The Oyster Review? "five books" was one of their original features too.

In Praise of Food Dad, Nigel Slater →

Ruby Tandoh gets it. Nigel Slater's Real Food completely changed my relationship to cooking and I have a special place in my heart for his writing.

5 Star Phonies →

In the past few years, I've basically given up trusting Amazon reviews. If I'm in the market to buy something, I'll look for reviews by actual people I trust. thewirecutter hasn't been 100% successful for me1, but it's still a lot better than trusting Amazon.

1

a few people in my office bought their top recommendation for exercise headphones and we saw 100% failure rate within a couple of uses, and saw plenty of people in the comments section reporting the same thing.

Norway's Underwater Restaurant →

Instant addition to my bucket list - an underwater restaurant that could double as the lair of a Bond villain:

“If the weather is bad, it’s very rough. It’s a great experience, and to sit here and be safe, allowing the nature so close into you. It’s a very romantic and nice experience.”

(Although can you imagine how sick you'd be if you booked this restaurant and didn't get a table right by the window?)

Carly Rae Jepsen Rpg →

A higher number means you're better at LASERS (technology; science; cold rationality; calm, precise action; mechanisms). A low number means you're better at FEELINGS (intuition; diplomacy; seduction; wild, passionate action; convincing).

This sounds perfect. I can't wait to try it out.

The Cost of Living in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet Empire →

Articles talking about how Facebook destroyed the personal, friendly, welcoming internet are fairly common now, but this one by Brian Philips is actually worth your time.

Before I started writing, I did a Google search for “Facebook” and “annus horribilis,” which showed that dozens if not hundreds of media outlets — The Guardian, the BBC, El Mundo, Die Welt, The Atlantic, the Silicon Valley Business Journal — used this phrase, Latin for “horrible year,” to describe Facebook’s 2018. But 2018 wasn’t an annus horribilis for Facebook. It was an annus horribilis for us, the people who actually faced the surveillance and dishonesty and abuse. It was an annus horribilis for us because of Facebook.

To get on my soap box a little bit here, if none of these stories -- the Cambridge Analytica story, the whole Russia thing, this most recent one about giving media companies back-room access to personal private data -- if none of these stories make you want to delete your Facebook account, then what will? Where is the line for you?

To go a little further: if you haven't deleted your Facebook account by now, then you are complicit in all of this shit.

Peter Sagal - The Case Against Running With Headphones →

I have a friend who wears headphones on long solo runs because, he says, “I can’t spend that much time alone in my head.” I disagree. He can, and he should. Spending that much time inside one’s head, along with the voices and the bats hanging from the various dendrites and neurons, is one of the best things about running, or at least one of the most therapeutic. Your brain is like a duvet cover: Every once in a while, it needs to be aired out.

As someone who can't do basic household chores like washing dishes or folding laundry without a pair of headphones, this cut me deep.

The Graphic Art of Incredibles 2 →

The best part of The Incredibles 2 wasn't the story but the amazing world they built. This is a great, tiny peek into the design process behind creating that world.

The Google Pixel 3 Is A Very Good Phone. But Maybe Phones Have Gone Too Far. →

My neck hurts. I am never not looking down. When I am not looking at my phone, I become slightly anxious. And then, when I do actually look at it, I become even more so. It reminds me of how I once felt about cigarettes. I experience the world with a meticulously crafted, tiny computer slab between me and it. I am an asshole. But so, maybe, are you?

Instead of the usual gushing over the new shiny, I wish more people wrote phone reviews like this.

▶︎ Net Split or, the Fathomless Heartbreak of Online Itself | MC Frontalot →

I have a really low tolerance for nerdcore, but this is actually pretty good. And it speaks volumes that even MC Frontalot is sorta renouncing nerd culture. From "Internet Sucks":

I don't love you any more internet You used to be a safe home for my nerd hard and my intellect Now you got so much hate but you just gotta interject Now you got too many chefs up in your kitchenette

Apple buys animated film from Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon →

Delighted for Cartoon Saloon. They're quietly pumping out some of the loveliest animations I've seen in a long time -- like Ghibli at their finest. If you don't believe me, check out Puffin Rock on Netflix, which is a genuinely great children's cartoon that's full of charm and wit and visual inventiveness and it tells stories about friendship and intelligence that have none of the normal moralising one traditionally associates with children's tv.

Just Read the Book Already →

Laura Miller reviews Maryanne Wolf's Reader, Come Home, a book about rediscovering the power to actually read -- I mean deep read -- in the digital world of 2018.

There's a lot of things that stood out to me in this review, but I'll highlight this one because it's so obvious and also so right

One of the reasons that digital readers skim is not because of some quality inherent in screens, as Wolf seems to think, but because so much of what we find online is not worth our full attention.

Ordered.

Unfollowing Everybody →

Anil Dash recently took the step of unfollowing everyone he was following on Twitter. This line in particular stood out to me:

... when something terrible happens in the news, I don't see an endless, repetitive stream of dozens of people reacting to it in succession. It turns out, I don't mind knowing about current events, but it _hurts_ to see lots of people I care about going through anguish or pain when bad news happens. I want to optimize for being aware, but not emotionally overwhelmed.

That's entirely it. I've got a private list of maybe 20 people I follow because they're the ones that are the least outraged about The Thing That People Are Outraged About Today, and it's recently become my main view for Twitter because I'm too exhausted (emotionally, spiritually) for the main timeline.

See also Matt Haughey's recent announcement I'm done with Twitter.

Instapaper is going independent →

Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.

Worth noting that today, almost two months since GDPR came into effect, Instapaper is still unavailable for users in Europe. GDPR isn't a particularly hard thing to enforce unless your entire business model is built around doing shady things with your customer's data.