Trivial Posts #30: Reality is but a figment of the imagination

I’m travelling a lot in November, so a quiet week at home with virtual reality, reality TV, and a picture show are exactly what I need to prepare to gather a clutch of air miles. What have I been reading to while away the hours? I’m glad you asked…

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VR’s Biggest Problem

I posted this on the blog over the weekend, but it deserves another airing. Virtual Reality has a problem that is not far from the surface. Can anyone ensure a harassment-free environment, asks Jordan Belamire?

What Next For Twitter?

With the news that Disney is not going to bid for Twitter (nor will Salesforce, Google, Facebook, etc…) what next for the no longer limited to 140 character messaging service? John Brandon has a radical idea. Nothing. It’s done. Go home. Start again:

I use Twitter all day, but the truth is–tweets are becoming like white noise on a lost FM radio station.

…Do we ever check Twitter? Not at all. Never. It’s becoming a rat’s nest of nonsense, a place to grumble about the debates. I used to post questions on my Twitter feed, which now has about 11,000 followers, and expect a few people to send me some tips about how to fix a Wi-Fi signal at my house or troubleshoot a laptop issue, but fewer and fewer people respond these days. They’ve grown silent. The service has 313 million users but Twitter can’t seem to attract any new attention at all.

Why You’ll Be Deleting Your Twitter Account In The Next Six Months.

Why Is The Internet Hard To Read?

Kevin Marks (one of the key developers in the history of podcasting who never gets enough credit) is struggling on the web. Is it age catching up and failing eyesight? Or are the designers out to get him and make text that’s impossible to read the standard look for the web? Turns out its the latter.

There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

…if the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails that open access by excluding large swaths of people, such as the elderly, the visually impaired, or those retrieving websites through low-quality screens. And, as we rely on computers not only to retrieve information but also to access and build services that are crucial to our lives, making sure that everyone can see what’s happening becomes increasingly important.

We should be able to build a baseline structure of text in a way that works for most users, regardless of their eyesight. So, as a physicist by training, I started looking for something measurable.

How The Web Became Unreadable

Never Trust Anyone Who Updates Shakespeare Rocky Horror For The Kids

Frankly I still feel both apprehensive and uneasy about this remake, why it was needed, and if it’s going to be able to stand on its own. I mean, surely Brad and Janet can just call for an Uber instead of heading to the scary castle? And then there’s the music… Lou Adler talks about updating the music for the 2016 TV remake of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and that’s perhaps the part I’m confident that the show will get right.

There was also the matter of Richard O’Brien’s music for the show, which decades ago tapped into the prevailing glam-rock sound of the mid ’70s — and spawned a stand-alone hit in the deathless “Time Warp.”

…Today, though, rock hardly dominates the mainstream the way it once did. So Cisco — known for his group Whitestarr and his work with the rapper Shwayze — saw himself as a kind of a translator: someone who could reinterpret “Time Warp,” “Dammit Janet” and “Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me” for younger viewers raised on hip-hop.

“These songs are rock standards,” he said. “I didn’t wanna flip the music on its back and make it EDM. But I did wanna flip it on its side — steroid it up, give it fatter drums.”

Steroids? Yes. EDM? No.

Simulating Brexit In Football Manager 2017

Put this down to unintended consequences but the ‘make Football as lifelike as possible’ gaming franchise is now simulating the various Brexit options in-game because of the direct impact it will have on Football:

There is also the option that sees us adopt a system like Italy’s, where there is a limit on the number of non-EU players in each squad. The limit of non-UK players that British clubs are allowed could range from anything as high as 17 to as low as four.

“If you only had four non-UK players per squad, that’s going to make things difficult. All of a sudden Championship-quality players are moving into the Premier League to fill up slots. That could mean the overall quality drops, and that means the TV money goes down.

…Jacobson goes on to highlight further potential scenarios: referendums on independence could mean players from Scotland or Northern Ireland need a work permit to move to the UK and the Bosman ruling, which allows players to move for free at the end of their contracts, could be scrapped in the UK. Jacobson is keen to stress that these really are all possible within the new game.

Brexit is simulated in Football Manager and its going to make it harder than ever.

Quick Links

What happens when you ditch a smartphone and go dumb? Documentally finds out.

The BBC puts episodes of ‘The Adventure Game’ on digital sale. Gronda, gronda!

The winning pictures from 2016’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year are, as you would expect, stunning.

What I’ve Been Up To

Two items of note from me this week in addition to the usual coverage of the mobile tech industry over on Forbes.

The first was an update to ESC Buzz. Inspired by Popurls, Alltop, and other headline-displaying sites, ESC Buzz gives you all the headlines from the ongoing world of the Eurovision Song Contest. Head over to for more. Secondly, I made a second appearance on Keep Dancing, an unofficial Strictly COme Dancing podcast, to talk about the three-act structure and plotting in reality TV shows.

At the start of November  I’ll be attending the Web Summit (Lisbon 7-10 November 2016), before heading to Malta for a week of radio broadcasts (more on that in the near future). December will see me in the capital for TechCrunch’s Disrupt London (5-6 December 2016). Next year’s plans include attending SXSW (Austin, 10-20 March 2017). If you want to meet up at any of these events, let me know.

‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.