Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

‘Mind – The – Hashtag’ as Tube typography changes #

London Underground has updated the Johnston typeface. The world is ending.

Still, they’re there if you know where to look: the diamond dotting the lowercase ‘i’ and ‘j’ isn’t nearly as high in Johnston and Johnston100 as it is in New Johnston, while the top half of the lowercase ‘g’ has been stretched out to be less perfectly geometric, like it was back in the early 20th Century. The end result, Monotype hopes, is a typeface that is closer to Johnston’s original intent, feeling more personal and less utilitarian than it did before.

John Brownlee reports for Co.Design.

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

No returning to ‘Classic Microsoft’ under Nadella #

Fortune’s Andrew Nusca takes a look at Microsoft’s Enterprise approach in 2016, with a focus on the changes in the Enterprise department, and the importance of cloud-based services. It’s a piece that Microsoft’s PR team will love, but many people who have been burned by Microsoft in the past will need a bit more convincing.

But change is under way:

Still, the cloud represents a chance for Microsoft to make up for a lot of missed opportunities. “For the first time in probably 10 years, there’s a key secular trend on which Microsoft is at the very forefront,” Weiss says. “They missed search, the browser, mobile. The public cloud is one they got in front of, and it’s a big one that could be bigger than all the other ones combined.”

To ensure that it doesn’t lose out this time, Microsoft is undergoing a radical and rapid transformation. The former schoolyard bully of the software world is remaking itself as a collaborative, customer-friendly service provider. The real question is, Can the tech giant change fast enough to capitalize on its next great growth engine before its legacy businesses pull it under?


Building A Better Burger In Scotland #

It’s a delightfully over the top headline on the site, but Buzzfeed’s look at the best burgers in Scotland is worth remembering.

Bread Meats Bread are a Scottish chain famed for their decadent burgers, and it doesn’t get much more decadent than this double cheeseburger served on a candied bacon doughnut. They also serve a mean poutine, and offer halal and gluten free options.

Hilary Mitchell at Buzzfeed.

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Friday, June 10th, 2016

The Killer ‘5 Day’ for Virtual Reality #

Because what VR really needs is Fruit Ninja:

“After the latest VR technology was released, we felt that there was no better game suited to VR than Fruit Ninja,” Halfbrick’s Adam Wood, product manager for Fruit Ninja VR, told IGN earlier today. “The simplicity of Fruit Ninja with the total immersion of VR creates an experience like no other.”

Simplicity and VR get along very, very well. That’s because with something like the Vive’s hyper-accurate motion tracking, your hands and arms quickly transform into whatever weapon or other implement is in the game world. Nailing targets with a bow & arrow? Perfect. Swinging a sword? Super satisfying. It’s also more challenging than you might expect, thanks to the 1:1 tracking.

More from Jason Evangelho at TweakTown. Halfbrick’s other masterpiece is Jetpack Joyride… hurry up with that one!

When Silicon Meets Valley #

New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz goes behind the scenes at the TV show ‘Silicon Valley’ and finds out that yet another TV sitcom is based heavily on the real work. It’s just that Silicon Valley is surprised when it gets an accurate portrayal in the media world.

Dotan called his compression expert, Tsachy Weissman, an engineering professor at Stanford. “He spent hours walking me through the very dense history of lossless compression,” Dotan said. “The way I understood it, basically, was that Claude Shannon, in 1948, worked on compressing files from the top down, using coding trees, whereas David Huffman, a few years later, approached it from the bottom up.” He made a PowerPoint presentation about this and delivered it to Judge and Berg. “They thought about it for a while, and then they said, ‘You mentioned top-down and bottom-up. What about starting in the middle of the data set and working from the middle out?’ So I asked Tsachy, ‘What about middle-out? Is that a thing?’ He didn’t say, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ He said, ‘That’s intriguing, actually. It might work.’”

New Yorker.

Monday, March 28th, 2016

The VR voice you need to listen to #

You’re going to read a lot about Virtual Reality over the next few months and years. Today saw the Occulus Rift VR headset reach the public (although only those who pre-purchased, don’t go looking on a store shelf for it just yet). Lots of people are going to be exploring this space, many have changed careers to do so, but most people just want a voice that can cut through it all with enthusiasm and joie de vivre.

Like this:

One of the most common criticisms I see leveled against VR is that it’s only capable of delivering vertical slices of games, or gimmicky set pieces. That VR simply can’t provide the complete, polished, and immersive game experiences we’re accustomed to on PC, consoles, and handhelds. Even though modern VR is still in its infancy, there are already a number of games to counter that argument. One of them — Lucky’s Tale — will come bundled for free when the Oculus Rift launches on March 28 [today].

With the caveat that he’s a Forbes contributor like myself, you need to bookmark Jason Evangelho for the new world.

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

The BOFH who works at Hogwarts #

Ah yes, running IT Support at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the pupils love their wands but still want their smartphones. Which means someone needs to run IT, and that someone has a Tumblr:

When I was first starting out in this position I had easily become the target of many pranks from the students. Did you know there is a freaking spell that glues your feet to the ground? I know.

It took all of 2 days for them to quickly realize I literally have a switch that shuts off all the wifi access to the entire school. I don’t need forbidden curses. I have more power than any witch or wizard at this school could ever possibly imagine.

Forget ‘Magical Beasts’, this is the adventure I want to see next.

Friday, March 25th, 2016

Is it still a blog if the comments are off? #

Amber Bouman on Engadget’s one week trial of turning all comments off:

But we’ve increasingly found ourselves turning off comments on stories that discuss topics of harassment, gender or race simply because so many of the replies are hateful, even threatening. Articles that mention Apple deteriorate into arguments of iOS vs Android, replete with grade-school name calling. Articles that don’t make mention of Samsung often include comments claiming that we are shills for Apple. Some commenters plain attack our writers or editors or other commenters. Some are outright threats. And that’s not even getting into the spam problem.

The thing is, we like having a comments section.

If we’re spending the majority of our days moderating comments, zapping spam and slaying trolls, we’re not spending that time improving the section for you. We want to make sure that our readers are getting the very best experience in our community. A week-long breather will give us the time to refocus our efforts.

Sounds exactly like the fun and games I have over on Forbes. I await the results with keen interest.

When Lego Batman beats Superman V Batman #

Scott Mendelson reviews ‘Batman V Superman’ for Forbes:

The best moments of Dawn of Justice resemble nothing less than a feature length adaptation of a series of Alex Ross paintings in all their naturalistic glory. But amid the visual treats is an utter mess of thinly sketched characters, haphazard plotting, surprisingly jumbled action, and “cut your nose to spite your face” world building. It’s not a success either as a stand-alone Man of Steel sequel or a would-be kick-off to the DC Extended Universe, and attempts to insert Batman and his Super Friends do real damage to the story and thus the film. And, my word, this movie is almost a self-parody on “grimdark.”

Which is pretty much in line with every other reviewer I trust. So in a flurry of weak publicity, I find it very curious that Warner Bros release the trailer for ‘The Lego Batman Movie

Did anything exciting happen today?

Yes, computer. Yes, it did. Ben Affleck got pwned by Will Arnett.

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Overcast improves my favourite podcast player #

Overcast has been updated to version 2.5. It’s my podcast player of choice and while I wasn’t screaming out for some of the optional extras only open to patrons (a dark theme and ability to upload your own single files) the changes to battery consumption and the sound output are very much welcome.

It’s a free download, but you can make a small one-off payment as a thank you through an in-app payment. Grab it from overcast.fm.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Start-ups, Music, and Copyright Avoidance #

Bas Grasmeyer for Hypebot:

What is needed is a Startup License that lets startups quickly and flexibly license music from the majors and largest indies for a set duration. After this duration, startups would still have to negotiate, but at least they’ve got their products figured out and investors will have a better understanding of what the business is potentially worth. The license should allow startups to opt in or out of territories. If you want to do UK-only, fine. If you want to pay more and do something global, it’s possible. A global startup music license would do tremendous things for innovation in music.

The problem is, it’s not in the interest of a powerful part of the music industry. For one, all of the larger music corporations own shares in music startups. Many of these startups still have to prove themselves, so you can see them as bets by the industry on what’s going to work. If it turns out it doesn’t work, the industry can stop licensing them, let them fail and move on to the next thing. If you want to launch a startup that seems like it undermines one of these bets, you’re going to have a difficult time getting it licensed.

If there’s anyone who can manage a paywall, it’s the music industry. Napster may have snuck through, but once that stable door was closed, nobody else was getting through without permission (or equity).

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

The immortal writing around Chris Christie #

I’m linking to Alexandra Petri’s recent column in the Washington Post not because I want to draw attention to US politics just now (but really, America, really?). I’m linking because this is a gorgeous piece of writing about Chris Christie, the man who stood behind Donald Drumpf and simply… listened.

It was not a thousand-yard stare. That would understate the vast and impenetrable distance it encompassed.

He looked as if he had seen a ghost and the ghost had made him watch Mufasa die again.

He had the eyes of a man who has looked into the heart of light, the silence. A man who had seen the moment of his greatness flicker, and seen the eternal footman hold his coat, and snicker.

And, in short, he looked afraid.

I won’t spoil it all, but it’s lyrically wonderful.

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

She’s got it where it counts #

Your exploration of the internet today will not be complete until you have enjoyed the artwork, the archaeology, and the accuracy, of Michael Heilemann’s look at the evolution of the Millennium Falcon. From George Lucas’s napkin sketch to the Objet D’art we all know today:

The Falcon’s conceptual development has always intrigued me exactly because certain creative decisions don’t seem to easily fit together. I’ve researched this subject extensively over the course of years, and it’s only now I can finally start to eek out some sort of sensible process.

With that in mind, this then is The Complete History of the Millennium Falcon… or as I like to call it: How I Started Worrying and Lost My Mind Completely Over a Fictional Spaceship Someone Please Do Something Send Help Why Are You Still Reading Someone Do Something.

I’m still reading…

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

The modern day grind of a blog writer #

TechCrunch’s John Biggs on what he has learned after writing 11,00 blog posts. There’s a lot here that I can relate to:

Nobody cares. Nobody will read you. The only way to make them care is to keep doing it, day after day. Write 1,000 words a day. Don’t stop. This holds true in everything. Can you write more words per day? You can, but start at 1,000. Once you do that, day after day, people will notice. Then people will read. Then people will come back. Then you’ll gain a following. You probably won’t make any money but you will have a marketable skill that you can sell.

If anyone wants an idea of what I do for my job, BIggs has pretty much summed up what I call ‘the grind’.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

…Oh, it’s the Eiffel Tower as well! #

It’s the colours of the Olympic rings, it’s a ’24’, it’s the Eiffel tower! I love the shifting identity of the Paris 2024 Olympic Bid. So there’s something nice out of the IOC I can agree with.