Listing all posts tagged misc

Tuesday, May 1st 2012

Misc. links Apr 5th - May 1st

Bruce Sterling’s essay on the New Aesthetic. This is an interesting read, even if it did nothing to counter my ambivalent feelings towards the New Aesthetic. On one hand, I like it, the idea. Even if the ‘official’ blog — which I follow — feels a lot more random than a ‘movement’ should (but perhaps I’m mistaken in expecting something like a ‘movement’). I like to think that at last we figured out an aesthetic for the early twenty-first century, that it is our generation’s Futurism, this time centered in CCTV-obsessed Britain rather than in automobile-obsessed Italy. On the other hand though, I may also believe the New Aesthetic is just a bandwagon, a neatly packaged brand for journalists and lazy curators and critics. Consider John Whitney. BEFLIX. The demoscene. The comparatively long history of Glitch art. Software art. Consider Thomas Ruff’s eroded JPEGs touring the world’s art museums (museums!). Cory Archangel’s tweets about 1990s ‘New Aesthetics’. From this perspective, the New Aesthetic seems like a brand invented by the same kind of savvy people who came up with concepts such as ‘creative industries’ and made a killing living off artists and craftspersons. But then again, most art ‘movements’ didn’t ever exist as such. ···

Journalist Alexis Madrigal calls for a post-Facebook future (mind you, what the article is really about is the increasingly diminished returns of social and mobile software). I’m all for new things, but the current situation was expected after the initial push to develop applications that leverage ubiquous broadband internet and mobile hardware with built-in sensors (mainly camera and location/GPS) pretty much consolidated. I think that now is time to take a deep breath and start figuring out what happened, what worked and why, and what it means. Bring in the academics. ···

One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age. The authors, Olia and Dagan, blog interesting stuff found in the Geocities torrent rescued by Archive Team. Funny I can’t even remember what was my old Geocities address. ···

PHP: a fractal of bad design is a very thorough critique of everything that is wrong with the programming language. However, I don’t believe it is constructive to attack PHP developers (such as your truly) as an horde of illiterate, masochistic fools that refuse to use proper tools. Such attacks grossly underestimate the pull of PHP’s being a good enough language for web development — incredibly easy (eg. XAMPP) to get into, well documented, and widely supported by cheap web hosting providers. It’s flawed (eg. I must reemphasize the ‘well documented’ aspect of PHP’s success, given how unintuitive its function names are sometimes) but allows me to do a quick ‘sketch’ of a webpage, hit ‘refresh’ and (often enough) voilá!, it works. And it is this ‘sketching’ (a word I’m borrowing from Processing) aspect that I find vital. To go with the author’s carpenting analogies, most people are building small houses — maybe a shed, maybe a greenhouse to keep the flowers. They don’t need complicated ‘scaffolding’ like in Ruby or Python frameworks. They just need to be able to sketch. ···

Wired’s piece on deciphering Stuxnet, a real-life spy technothriller. ···

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera. That Canon 5D Mark III is so last year. ···

An economist’s Six Rules for Dining Out. Some of his tips seem pretty universal: seemingly strange dishes at fancy restaurants must exist for a reason and are probably quite good; listening to lots of conversation means people are waiting a lot more than eating (so loud restaurants should be skipped); and dining establishments in very good locations (eg. with lots of tourists) afford to be bad and expensive, and should often be avoided. ···

The Brain on Love: what happens. ···

Procrastiworking: is what I do. As for the “creative success” part, the jury’s still out. ···

The World’s Longest Invoice. I’d have a couple of submissions for the Portuguese version. Just saying. ···

Wednesday, April 4th 2012

Misc. links Feb 16th - Apr 4th

The Rise of the Privileged Poor. It’s easy to dismiss some guy on TV complaining about being poor because he lives on a PhD grant as a pretentious, insensitive ignoramus (the powers know well who to pick to be on the news). Still, one can’t ignore the mental, emotional toll of perceived poverty — people get sick, shy away from relationships, postpone raising a family, in a word: people are hurting. Some should mind their complaints and how they might come across to others (there are certainly some to whom the ‘privileged poor’ sound as monstrous as the ultra-rich complaining about infinitesimal amounts of tax), but that doesn’t mean many complaints are any less real or legitimate. Those who tell the poor (either the ‘privileged’ with their Media Studies degrees, or the proletarian with family histories of unemployment and industrial decay) that they did this to themselves via lack of willpower and poor life choices (eg. ‘following their dreams’) are either deluded into thinking they actually achieved something for themselves alone, or are mechanized monsters who fail to appreciate their luck. ···

Peter Norvig on learning to program — in ten years. Expertise takes time, which is why it is unfortunate that time to develop expertise is so thoroughly unprotected in academia here (the mission of which should be precisely the opposite), as grad students often must go from zero to SWOT analyses and business plans in a semester. Everybody wants geniuses, nobody wants to ‘grow’ them, and then they’ll blame you for not being one (see above). ···

A transcript of a talk in which Clay Shirky explains why groups are their own worst enemies. Worth a read as Shirky deftly demonstrates groups can’t survive long without a set of regulations and moderation. ···

A Slate article about the sudden internet-disappearance of the programmer just known as _why. After the article mentions _why’s handle might be an Ayn Rand reference, it’s tempting to speculate his exile was an attempt to act the libertarian fantasy of letting the world going to hell after the ‘geniuses’ leave (or a critique thereof, I’d rather think). The results couldn’t have been more endearing, though: the Ruby developers’ community is fine, and _why’s multiple projects have been restored, debugged and made better. (Despite only having a very rudimentary knowledge of Ruby, I’ve recommended _why’s whimsical work here in the past, eg. Shoes, which seems like a good and fun GUI toolkit to dive into). ···

David Bordwell on ‘Pandora’s digital box’ and the sobering reality of digital preservation. ···

Much Ado About Nothing: Why Barry Levinson’s Diner might be one of the most influential movies in film history. ···

London’s Overthrow by China Miéville. A sprawling essay about the London zeitgeist, and the ongoing apocalypse of its citizens not being able to afford it. Parts of the essay can surely be applied to other cities. ···

High-definition video files of stock 35mm footage. Might come very handy for some projects. ···

The Mixtape Lost at Antikythera. Another incredible crypto-historical mixtape + essay by Rob Beschizza. (Previously.) ···

What is Love? A debate between Wikipedia and Haddaway. ···

Thursday, February 16th 2012

Misc. links Jan 15th - Feb 15th

This article, The Rise of the New Groupthink, does much to explain why I need my own office, and why I hate brainstorming meetings. ···

Slavoj Zizek writes about The Revolt of the Salaried Bourgeoisie. ···

The Scale of the Universe 2 is an interactive Powers of Ten. ···

EUscreen is an archive of free videos from a number of Europe’s public TV broadcasters. Portuguese RTP is conspicously absent — after all, our state broadcaster is notorious for its expensive and thoroughly copyrighted archives, despite being funded by taxpayers (our government does intend to fix this, though, by privatizing all this publicly-funded heritage as prescribed by the neoliberal zeitgeist, rather than giving free access to the archives to those who paid for them — for that would be Socialism, and therefore evil). ···

It seems an English plainclothes police officer was running after himself for a while after being mistaken for a burglar by the CCTV operator. The whole incident has ‘idea for short film’ written all over it. ···

Here are recipes for ‘old-school Instagram filters’. Meaning: how to take analog photos that look like those digital photos that look analog… I think I’ll have an headache. No wonder I’m more interested in messing with JPEGs. ···

GIF: A Technical History is quite an interesting and accessible post about that nasty but cute, little image format that won’t go away. ···

David Bordwell’s analysis of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is something I recommend you read if you’ve seen the film. I’ve found it great and demanding like a very fragile but precise piece of clockwork. It’s unfortunate we spectators aren’t used to stories this intricate told in such an economical fashion. I’d like more of this, please. ···

Lists of Note lists lists. Of note. ···

Rob Bechizza’s Mixtape of the Lost Decade. A pop history of the phantom decade between the 1970s and the 1980s. Which explains a lot, even if it’d mean I would now be on my forties. ···

On Goals Scored, a blog about great football (soccer) infographics. Football for nerds, yay! ···

musicForProgramming(); has a few cool ambient mixtapes that are quite good for all kinds of work that require focus (and not just computer programming). ···

Sunday, January 15th 2012

Misc. links Jan 1st - 14th

This is the Future, today: Bruce Stering and Jon Lebkowsky debate the State of the World. There’s the coming war on general computation, the reason why I think everyone should learn how to code, as that would be the only thing protecting free speech from enclosure in a walled garden of infinite bullshit. The same general movements, in turn, might also explain why fashion and style got stuck in a loop since the 80s, as having things looking the same is the best way, it seems, to have people accept the radical changes underneath the surface (as a petty example, look at the ridiculously retro Fuji X1Pro — nice to have hardware exposure controls by the way). And in the meantime, it seems that all you need to become a world-class arms dealer these days is a laptop and an internet connection (but screw that — you could do it with an iPad probably). After being busted you can sell the film rights and still make a fuckload of money. ···

Getting paid for what you love harms your love for what you do. Well, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise: Everyone who ever followed sports a bit has seen promising players lose their motivation despite becoming millionaires, and perhaps because of it. But still, this shouldn’t be read by greedy ‘employers’ as an excuse not to pay interns, for fear of damaging their priceless intrinsic motivations (this “we won’t pay you because you will love us” seems a recurrent theme among sleazy internship ads here in Portugal). On the contrary, the article is right to point out that a removal of an extrinsic motivation can also be damaging. ···

Mark Pagel on why we are, as a species, stupid plagiarists. ···

James Meek’s In the Sorting Office. Economic liberalism as Dutch housewives earning a pittance as ‘freelance’ postwomen, allowing their ‘employers’ to provide physical spam services to mail order companies at competitive prices. Among other nasty things, all in the mail delivery microcosm. An upsetting read. ···

Pico Iyer about the point of writing in long and winding sentences. My reading tastes are pretty strange for the ‘mainstream’ portuguese reader, as I like really long and difficult books that allow me to feel like a tourist in that world during the months they might take me to read, and I like long, tree-structured sentences that force me to pay attention. The vox populi here immediately associates long sentences with the writing of José Saramago and the mainstream consensus again is that his works are boring and impenetrable (both untrue), even if said consensus can’t explain how his books sell so well, and even documentaries about him get so many viewers in a country where no portuguese films have any viewers, let alone documentaries — it’s as if portuguese are secretive hypocrites in their appreciation of the long sentence (and it might very well be the truth that reading Saramago is a bit of a guilty pleasure — after all, forcing an author upon students in high school is the best way to make him unhip for life). ···

Occasional Dispatches from the Republic of Anhedonia by Colson Whitehead is a long and entertaining account of the writer’s experience as a player in the Poker World Series in Las Vegas. ···

Eat, Pray, Love may very well be the worst movie of all time. I haven’t seen the film, read the book, or even watched the book author’s TED talk, but I find the notion of rich people going on ‘self-discovery’ vacations and attaining ‘an enlightment’ through self-indulgence without the slightest bit of self-sacrifice (i.e. do these people ever give away their fortunes, or stay in a refugee camp for life?), then lecturing everyone about it while making an arms dealer’s fuckload of money in book and film deals, to be truly an insult to the rest of humanity. So yes, I agree with the article, on the basis of the film’s repulsive premise and my realization things like Sex and the City at least are honest in their depictions of self-indulgence. Ennui is something that only afflicts the well-off, and if you can plug the big hole in your soul with — let’s face it as that’s what it is — a big pile of money made manifest in sex tourism and shopping abroad, good for you. Some of us are only lucky enough to use Tumblr. ···

The Ballad of @Horse_ebooks: endless Zen, avant-garde writing, and humour from a Twitter spambot. ···

The Physics Factbook. Might be useful. ···

Here’s a very realistic Adobe Photoshop ‘simulator’. It really captures my experience using Adobe software. Nice. ···

The Restart Page. Really, are we nostalgic about rebooting our computers now? What the hell is wrong with us? I’m almost ashamed to admit I did get nostalgic when I ‘rebooted’ the Amiga Workbench. But why? Why? ···

Again, because it deserves its own entry: Become a Programmer, Motherfucker. You really should. Here’s a list of free books to get you started. ···

Friday, December 30th 2011

Misc. links Dec 13th - 31st

Metafilter’s Year in Writing has given me much to read in the past and coming weeks… ···

Our Unpaid, Shadow Work: you know that last time you bought a ticket online? Or yesterday when you filled your car with gasoline yourself? Or when you went to the supermarket and scanned your own groceries’ barcodes? You are doing someone else’s job, for free. Sure, you get cheaper tickets, gasoline or groceries because of that (do you really?), but that’s no way to run a proper economy. ···

Makimizing shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. This is a headline on Forbes!, not The Communist Workers’ Union Monthly or something like that. ···

Two interesting articles about fighting cognitive biases and other kinds of self-delusion: Steven Pinker would ban the idealization of the past if he happened to rule the world, while Freeman Dyson reviews Daniel Kahneman’s statistical approach to psychology. ···

Umberto Eco’s guide to identifying fascists, written in 1995, makes the future look rather bleak. ···

Roger Ebert tells us why movie revenue is falling. I’d say what’s surprising is that movie revenue is holding so well, at least here in Portugal. Mini-rant: Even though I’m rather able to concentrate when I go to the movies and cope rather well with other patrons’ poor civics, I find it anoying that going to the movies means quite often driving to a shopping mall in the suburbs, eating overpriced mall food, standing in line for too long to buy tickets, etecetra, the alternative being a couple of inner-city theatres that offer nothing else but waiting out in the cold, or an extremely overpriced and unconfortable bar. Please make the theatres places where people would actually enjoy hanging out, else they’ll be downloading movies off the internet and watching them at home — not because it’s cheaper but because it is better. ···

Peyton’s Place: An interesting essay about what it’s like to lend one’s house to a TV series’ production. It didn’t go well. ···

KidsRuby seems like an interesting tool to teach programming. And not just to kids. Similar tools using Ruby (which, from my very shallow knowledge of it, really seems the general-purpose language with the simplest syntax) include Hackety Hack and the very cool Shoes. ···

Aaron Koblin’s The Single Lane Super Highway. I felt like twelve again, drawing badly pimped-out cars. ···

Monday, December 12th 2011

Misc. links Nov 25th - Dec 12th

One of the founders of Netscape demolishes the ‘startup work ethic’: while some poor geek kills himself in a orgy of work and stay-awake drugs, some venture capitalist reaps most of the rewards while doing nothing. It’s true a few of these geeks will eventually get rich, but no human being should be thought of as a race horse. People should work 100 hours a week if they like it, not because someone sold them this idea it’ll get them rich — do yourself a favor and go buy some lottery tickets if you believe that, at least you’ll get your destiny sorted out far quicker. ···

Malcom Gladwell writes about Steve Jobs’ Real Genius. I know, I know: I too get sick when I read my feeds and see yet another article about Jobs!? Still, this one is good, and one of the few I’ve seen that demonstrates Steve Jobs was, first and foremost, an insufferable mix of perfectionist and plagiarist — a dictator who happened to be in business, not politics. ···

The Curse of Xanadu. An entertaining (and long) read about the long and fruitless development of Ted Nelson’s Project Xanadu hypermedia system, going on since 1965 and which had its first (kind-of) release in 2007. Classic Wired from 1995. ···

Two good ones from Thought Catalog: No One’s Real Anymore muddles through Modern Man’s lack of coherence (even though you could argue — successfully — that’s not a ‘bug’, but a ‘feature’); and Losing Your Metaphorical Virginity, which is said to be regained whenever people find themselves in love (and I think I do agree). ···

Lightworks looks set to be the first decent open-source video editing software. I’m yet to invest real time in it, but so far it feels a little weird: the UI is too messy, and I found it shares the Avid philosophy of taking over an entire hard drive and pre-converting every single piece of media you import. Which is good if you are using Lightworks in a dedicated machine, but is an awful idea in my laptop. Anyway, the feature set is impressive — I’ll still try editing some small projects in it. ···

This looks like a very well-conceived HTML and CSS course. I’m tempted to watch some of the classes myself. ···

Dochub.io indexes HTML, CSS, DOM and Javascript/jQuery documentation in one convenient place with a nice simple interface. File under Extremely Useful. ···

A good list of tips and resources on improving a website’s performance. ···

The Arty Bollocks Generator writes tedious artist statements for you. How long until someone gets a text generated here published? You know it’s bound to happen. See also: acb’s Postmodernism Generator. ···

PDF-Mags.com. Exactly what it says. ···

Friday, November 25th 2011

Misc. links Oct 15th - Nov 24th

The Internet as Hyperbole — A Critical Exhamination of Adoption Rates by Gisle Hannemyr is a paper with compelling arguments against the popular perception that people adopted the Internet much faster than other new communication technologies such as radio or television. The demonstration much ICT policy is based on a meme-ified anedocte makes this a compelling read. ···

Neal Stephenson on Innovation Starvation. That’s what happens to nations full of Nixons. ···

Charlie Stross writes about the existential quagmire of the ultra-rich, the ways most of us are richer than the ultra-rich of past generations, and the ways the ultra-rich are not rich at all. ···

George Monbiot on how the elites became destroyers of wealth. Much is made clear by xkcd’s crushing, epic Money infographic. ···

A short guide to lazy EU journalism. Granted, as even though I consider myself a literate European I do have a lot of trouble understanding how the EU institutions work. These lazy journalists won’t help. Please do your job already! ···

Christian Thorne’s two-part essay (part one, part two) on Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is one of the best pieces of film criticism I have ever read. ···

It appears a Russian filmmaker called Ilya Khrzhanovsky took over a large part from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov and turned it into a 24/7 film set. And that has been going on for five years. Almost resembles a real-life Synecdoche, New York. ···

Stu Maschwitz’s totally inconclusive guide to choosing a pro video camera. We live in a glorious era of wonderful and affordable imaging technology, but in a depressing age of nitpicky trade-offs and difficult choices. ···

Friday, October 14th 2011

Misc. links Sep 27th - Oct 14th

Sorry About My Face. I too share the same problem — often my face reads bitter even if I’m actually daydreaming about nice things. And nobody takes “it’s just my face” for an answer, which leads to episodes in which I feel a significant other is acting like someone in a club suddently asking me “where are you looking at?!” and trying to pick a fight, etecetera. Perhaps I need to find an early XXth century Virginia Woolf-looking girlfriend… ···

A conservative politician calls for science. Despite being mostly on the other end of the conservative-liberal spectrum, I wish there were more politicians like this. Far too many people people — in the left and right alike — believe and act as if the Outside World would fit with their preconceptions. It won’t: because that’s the very definition of Outside. ···

Film is on its way out, as the last 35mm cinema cameras were built. Am I being sacrilegious by saying and it was about time!? Film has its charm, but is wasteful bordering on the insulting — like printing a whole sheet of paper for every word a writer types. ···

Warner Brothers is developing a film based on a Reddit discussion: could a single battalion of US Marine soldiers fight and destroy the entire Roman Empire? This calls for the ghost of Philip K. Dick. The entire episode, not just the film premise. ···

And also speaking of film: Peter Bogdanovich’s Blogdanovich. ···

Lecturefox links to a mountain of free university lectures. ···

The Golden Grid System. This makes me want to redesign this whole thing, dammit! ···

A funny read every once in a while: the problem with n00b time-travellers that keep killing Hitler. ···

Monday, September 26th 2011

Misc. links Sep 12th - 26th

The fiction of the creative industries by Florian Cramer. From a Dutch perspective but translates well into the Portuguese reality. The gist of it — the ‘creative industries’ hype conceals centralism (and nepotism) under a veneer of advertising, and harms both non-profit Art and independent creative businesses. Agreed! Ricardo Lafuente ···

A Reddit group about explaining stuff in a way a five-year-old could understand. ···

JavaScript Garden: good documentation about the idiosyncrasies of the language. ···

Txt2re is a useful regular expression generator. Headache relief indeed. ···

An introduction to Arduino — a comic book. Perhaps I’ll start tinkering with electronics now? ···

This realtime face substitution demonstration is easily the creepiest video I’ve seen recently. It almost seems like a nasty device out of cyberpunk sci-fi. ···

A selection of the best moments from The Simpsons, according to Wired. ···

You Are Not a Photographer. Or, owning the kit and using it on occasion doesn’t make you a master — sometimes, hardly an apprentice, it seems. ···

Monday, September 12th 2011

Misc. links Aug 30th - Sep 11th

Free online courses by famous philosophers. Since I’m really getting into watching OpenCourseWare videos (at least until the fifth season of Mad Men starts), perhaps I’ll put some of these on my watchlist. ···

Was Marx Right? A very relevant article, published not in some Pravda but in the Harvard Business Review. Mind you, I think the fact that the author spends the first three paragraphs in apologies and explaining he isn’t a communist is quite revealing about our societies’ mindset. Even if the communist remedies tried in the past were catastrophic failures, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Marxist diagnostic is wrong. For the most part, it is not. ···

Ikea Heights is a soap opera filmed in Ikea stores. While open. And without the staff noticing. Good job! ···

License plate SQL injection for the win! Could this be real? I guess someone read this. ···

Codecademy is a good (and fun!) place to learn yourself some Javascript. The interactive tutorial is still pretty short, but hopefully it’ll grow. ···

3D computer graphics done in 1972, by one of the founders of Pixar. As impressive as it may be, I still find it short of the awesomeness of Ian Sutherland’s Sketchpad demonstration from nine years earlier. I mean, that one still is pretty awesome today. ···

What People Don’t Get About My Job — from A(rmy Soldier) to Z(ookeeper). An interesting set of testimonials. ···

The evolution of the Web. A cool visualization of the evolution of web browsers and technologies since 1990. Things really got out of hand in the last few years… ···