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.

Recent Films - June 2018

(I try to post reviews of all the films I watch over on letterboxd. Here are the most recent reviews I’ve written)

A Quiet Place - 2018 - ★★★★

Since my daughter was born, certain films hit me way harder than they otherwise should. Anything involving a child in peril is danger territory for me. Throw in a father trying to protect the child-in-peril and I'm completely screwed. I'll be a wreck. For example, War for the Planet of the Apes had me absolutely sobbing in the cinema.

A Quiet Place is exactly the kind of film that hits me harder than it probably should, what with John Krasinski's kind-faced father bringing the pathos like a doe-eyed hammer. Throw in a nihilistic pre-credits sequence to establish the stakes and, yeah, I hadn't a fuckin hope.

Some late-game rule-changing to score a cheap emotional hit kinda ruins it a little, but it's still a tight, tight film.

Super Troopers 2 - 2018 - ★★½

The only thing really missing from this film was a Rodney Dangerfield cameo where he comes out and tells the cops and the mounties to lighten up before turning on really cheesy hair rock music and starting an impromptu dance party.

As light and nutritionally void as the first film, but slightly shorter on charm.

Pitbull. New Order - 2016 - ★½

My continuing education in the less-"worthy" Polish film canon continues with this, a sub-Love/Hate gangster film set in Warsaw. The writer-director, Patryk Vega, is described as the Polish Guy Ritchie. And from what I've seen of his films so far, maybe people mean Revolver-era Guy Ritchie? I dunno.

The film itself is a regressive, homophobic and insecure piece of filmmaking. The main character, "Miami", is a quote-unquote "tough" quote-unquote "sexy" quote-unquote "cop". No woman can look at him without wanting to fuck him. No man can look at him without wanting to fuck him. "That was the best sex I've ever had" says one of his lays. "Coffee?" a detective offers him. "I bet you take it black." Yes, he's a hard-fuckin, hard-drinkin cop. Oh, and when the suits in internal affairs take away his badge, he tells them to give it back or he'll kick the shit out of them. And they do.

It's that kind of film. The kind we haven't really seen since Joel Silver cut down on his cocaine intake.

I've read a lot of reviews saying that based on this film, it won't be long before Hollywood comes knocking at Patryk Vega's door. And I don't doubt that's true, but only because they just need any new blood. But the real person who should be tapped for better things is the cinematographer. This film is total garbage, but at least it's handsome garbage.

Supersonic - 2016 - ★★★½

I wouldn't consider myself a fan of Oasis. Their music does nothing for me and their personalities are so ugh (although I love reading interviews with Noel Gallagher). So why am I giving three-and-a-half stars to an Oasis documentary? Well, because it's not a documentary about Oasis. I mean, not really. It's really a documentary about a period in time. It's a documentary about success. It's a documentary about regret.

The music is just helpful context.

Blockers - 2018 - ★½

Why does everyone keep saying what a great comedian John Cena is? Or even Leslie Mann, for that matter? All these huge comedy stars playing the parents and they got DEMOLISHED by the kids in this film. Very weak.

Sneakers - 1992 - ★★★★★

I fucking LOVE this film. It's my ultimate comfort film.

BUT.

There's a bit, a plot point, where Mary McDonnell was pretending to be hooked up with Stephen Tobolowsky on a computer date to get his office access card and his voice print and stuff and she gets stung. Except they make it look like she's not stung. And then, being a pro grifter, she goes "This is the last computer date I go on" and Ben Kingsley mafia-hacker goes "A computer would never match her with him, I SMELL A RAT".

BRUH IT'S 2018 AND NETFLIX STILL KEEPS RECOMMENDING I WATCH THE BIG BANG THEORY I THINK YOUR SHITTY 1993 COBOL DATING PROGRAM IS PROBABLY NOT AS FUCKIN SOPHISTICATED AS YOU THINK IT IS.

Gotowi na wszystko. Exterminator 2018 - ★★½

My first legit Polish-language film I'm watching for language homework rather than because of 'merit' or whatever and it's about a middle-aged man-child who spends too much on old videogames and gets berated by his partner. Oops!

The film started to lose me in the middle when they suddenly turned the "plot" dial up a thousand notches. But it really lost me when a guy tried to convince his girlfriend to leave the mental hospital she was checked into. "But I need my meds! If I don't have them, I don't know what will happen!" "It's okay because we'll be together".

Nope.

Inside the Guild Wars 2 firing that’s rocked the game industry. - Polygon →

This is a terrible precedent for the company to set, and you can see why in the reaction from the quote-unquote 'fans' on reddit: "We're literally running the company now... the moment a dev steps out of line or try to talk back to a player, guess what, they'll know we got their hands on their throat and we can squeeze any time we like".

Paper Towns

I knew very little about Poland before moving here. Almost nothing about Warsaw. "I hear they have good pacts", I used to dad-joke1.

Since then, we've been trying to get better. We recently went to the National Museum in Warsaw, where they have a new "Gallery of Polish Design" exhibit which is aimed squarely at dipshits like me who have a weird thing for mid-century design and electronics housed in discolouring plastic. Here's a video of what you can expect in the exhibit:

Although not exactly vintage, they also had a vintage-inspired "paper town" toy that reminded me so much of Nintendo's Labo. It's basically a box filled with sheets of cardboard that you punch out and bend and fold into various parts of a 'town'.

As we were leaving, I noticed they were selling a couple of these in the gift shop. So, of course, I bought them.

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Here's the finished product from a different set that we made earlier, so you can see what they look like finally constructed:

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My daughter (who's two and a half), was too young to 'get' the Labo2 but she absolutely loves these. She loved punching out the little buildings and vehicles and handing them to me to construct. The first night, she took the restaurant (the two-tiered building in the back-left of that bottom picture) to bed with her. My wife even said that if she was in need of a present for a similarly-aged toddler, she would get them one of these packs. They're cheap, extremely cute, very tactile and recyclable.

If you can't make it to the National Museum in Warsaw to buy them, you can also order them from ringoringo.pl.

1

One of the good things about being a dad is that you can dad-joke unironically.

2

Too much waiting around for not enough payoff at the end for her

Housekeeping

You may have noticed some changes on this blog (or maybe you didn't - there's too much going on in the world for you to be concerned with my bullshit website).

The short version is that I'd been thinking a lot about what I wanted this blog to be. It's probably the primary face of my internet presence, and I wasn't really pleased with how it was representing me. Part of the problem, I realised, is that I was using a static website generator to power the website.

Don't get me wrong, static site generators are wonderful pieces of software. You didn't have to worry about backups or databases or where your content lives or extracting it from some SQL file later on. But they also mean that writing a blog post is a non-trivial task. To write a post, I had to create a file on my hard drive, open that in my editor, write the blog post, generate the site, preview it locally, then upload it to this server. I was using a fucking Makefile to streamline this process. Makefiles tickle my nerdy side deeply, but the process was so cumbersome it meant that I'd only write a blog post about something that really mattered, instead of just firing off a few posts every day. And I'm many things, but I'm not a 'once in a while, here are my thoughts on a capital-I Important capital-T Topic' kind of guy. I don't work well like that and I didn't feel like it best represented me.

(An anecdotal aside: during my migration back to Wordpress, I came across a prominent Wordpress developer who had actually left the project, citing fundamental problems with PHP as a language and the Wordpress codebase in general. He also moved to a static site generator and, just like me, his output fell off a cliff after the move. You could argue that this is probably a reflection on the general state of blogging in 2018, but like I said, this is just an anecdotal aside.)

So that was the short version of what's been happening behind the scenes. Now let's see what happens next.

Apple Engineers Its Own Downfall With the Macbook Pro Keyboard | iFixit →

My 2011 MacBook Pro finally died (these models suffer from a graphics chip overheating problem) and I'm absolutely gutted because it was genuinely a beautiful machine to work on. It was rock-solid, had every port you'd ever need, and I sprung for the matte display, so it never had any problem with glare. And most importantly, the keyboard worked. The 2017 Touchbar MacBook Pro is the worst laptop I've ever used.

Facebook’s retreat from the news has painful for publishers—including Slate. →

Slate is sharing some information regarding their Facebook traffic since the 2017, when Facebook decided it no longer wanted to be a 'news' site. One interesting thing to note is that while most news organisations are seeing a dip in their engagement numbers, Fox News's numbers are actually up. There's a joke to be made here about real news vs news entertainment, but I'm not sure even I can be bothered to make it.

Yes

Apologies for the interruption to my (ir)regularly scheduled posts about random bullshit no-one actually cares about, but I thought this was worth bringing up. Even though I have no idea how many people are actually reading this, this is my platform for my thoughts and this is something I feel strongly about. So here we go.


The 8th amendment of the Irish constitution recognises the equal right to life of the mother and an unborn child. This has always been a controversial amendment and people have argued that such wording has no place in the constitution. So, tomorrow, May 25th, Ireland is holding a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.

I want to encourage any Irish people reading this website to vote yes to repeal the 8th amendment on May 25th.

We all have our reasons for voting yes or no. We all have our stories. Let me tell you a little bit of my story.

We spent a long time trying to conceive. It took forever. Long enough that we experienced that pain when our friends got pregnant. Why could they get pregnant so easily, without appearing to even try? Each month, we'd realise we once again weren't successful and we'd be desolate, completely unable to comfort each other. If you haven't gone through this, you don't know the pain involved. When I look back on it, I remember it as being one of the hardest points in my life.

But eventually we did it. My wife got pregnant.

The pregnancy was fun, but the labour wasn't. My daughter was posterior, which basically means that instead of being face-down, the baby was face-up, so the baby's head and spine was pushing against my wife's spine so that every push was intensely painful. Also, with every push, the baby's heart rate would drop precipitously. Eventually, it was decided to bring my wife in for an emergency c-section, where they discovered the chord was wrapped around the baby's neck (just before I heard my daughter cry for the first time, I heard a surgeon say "look at this messer!")1.

Obviously, this whole experience was extremely traumatic, both emotionally and physically. And that was just the beginning. Then there's the issue of being a brand new mother, trying to breastfeed having had major surgery on your abdominal core. I can't begin to explain the pride and admiration I have for my wife and how she handled the whole thing.

And this is when I realised that this only made me more pro-choice. Having seen first-hand the reality of pregnancy and labour and the reality of raising a child and the lasting (permanent?) scars, both literal and metaphorical, involved in the whole process, I firmly believe there is no way a woman should be forced to go through all this if they couldn't manage it. And this is to say nothing of extreme cases involving, say, assault or a fatal foetal abnormality. Forcing a woman to go through all that would be barbaric.


Jump forward a couple of years and we've been extremely lucky and managed to conceive our second child without really trying very hard at all.

But halfway through the pregnancy, we found out there were complications. Well, no, wait, that's not quite accurate. There were possible complications. And not insignificant ones, possibly. Which meant a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about how our child would be affected by all this. And there were a lot of tests. So many tests. During one particular test just after Christmas, a doctor (an Irish doctor) asked us "have you considered termination?"

We hadn't, and we wouldn't, because we knew the risks, and we knew how strong we were and we knew that we could manage it, no matter how bad it turned out to be2 and I wouldn't judge anyone for making a different choice in the same circumstances.

And that's kind of the point of all this: the choice already exists. When the doctor asked us if we'd considered termination, he meant "have you considered (traveling to England for) termination?" The 8th amendment doesn't stop Irish women from having abortions, it just stops them from having abortions in Ireland3, where they can be surrounded by their loved ones when they really need it.

It's a horrible, uncaring section of our constitution and should be taken out. And that's what this referendum is about. Recognising that something is wrong with the current situation and trying to do something about it.

Please, vote yes.

1

My daughter came out perfectly fine. As I write this, she's a strong and sturdy two and a half years old. And she's bilingual, did I mention that? She speaks English and Polish. Smartest kid I know.

2

It's fine, by the way. My ten-week old son is healthy and thriving although he will need to be continuously monitored until he's about a year old.

3

The 14th amendment added some extra provisions to the language introduced by the 8th amendment, saying "This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state".

Your Next Dining Destination (Really): Warsaw →

I do a lot of complaining about Warsaw but the one thing I can't complain about is the quality of the food coming out of the restaurants here. When we first arrived, I would give out about how there's not much of a food culture here. Boy, was I wrong. (Also, not really mentioned in the article is how cheap the food is here. Blows my mind every time.)

RetroAhoy: The Secret of Monkey Island

This is very good, if 70-minute documentaries about Monkey Island are your kind of thing.

(They are very much my kind of thing.)

Subscription Hell →

I've drafted a lot of blog posts about the subscription model (and binned them all because I couldn't figure out a way of saying "not everyone is entitled to make a living from the one piece of software they wrote" without sounding like a complete asshole), but this article from Danny Crichton says pretty much everything I wanted to -- subscriptions are probably the new norm, but developers and marketers need to be smarter about the pricing to avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

Can These Robots Build an Ikea Chair?

Spoiler: yes they can.

(My favourite part was the jiggle to get the dowel into place.)

See also: Hikea, where people take LSD and try to assemble Ikea furniture.

MVP Soundsystem →

Frank Chimero has a really great way of organising his Spotify playlists, which allows him to tie a song into a place in time. Sometimes Spotify (other streaming services are available) can be a little like drinking from the firehose, so it's great to see how other people handle it.