Butt-hurt Nerds

Why did Apple let a few YouTubers scoop the first iPhone X reviews?:

Apple’s iPhone X — its most anticipated new phone in a very long time — goes on sale this Friday, Nov. 3.

So sometime this week, as usual, you’ll be able to read and watch a bunch of serious-sounding reviews, as Professional Gadget Reviewers critique everything from bezels to battery life.

But Apple did something different this year. It invited a handful of YouTubers you probably haven’t heard of to its fancy penthouse in New York, gave them some early hands-on time with the iPhone X, and let them publish their videos a day or more in advance of the official reviews. (It also let Wired/Backchannel’s Steven Levy write a “first first impression of the iPhone X” post because Steven Levy. It also gave one to Axios co-founder Mike Allen, who had his nephew play with it. And Mindy Kaling for Glamour. And The Ellen Show.)

These videos, published by channels including Booredatwork.com, UrAvgConsumer, Soldier Knows Best, and sneaker/streetwear blog HighSnobiety, are a little braggy, mostly positive (“man, it’s pretty good!”) and don’t feel like gadget reviews at all. For many of us, they won’t replace the utility of more sophisticated reviews, which are supposed to tell us whether the iPhone X is worth our $1,000. They’re not great videos, frankly.

I love that the nerds are butt-hurt that Apple gave the scoop to some “YouTubers” instead of the established tech sites.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber laid the sarcasm on thick when he posted links this morning to all the YouTuber reviews (here, here, and here).

Admittedly, the YouTuber reviews are shitty, but I like seeing peeps in tech community throw their temper tantrums.

Relax, nerds. The legit reviews will be out soon enough.

Don’t Complain. Make.

Samantha Irby on complaining:

Complaining is like spreading lotion on dry skin, and 2017 has been the ashiest year in recent memory. There is more than ever to complain about and also more reason than ever to believe your complaints might actually do something.

Resist the urge to unload your economic anxieties on the dry cleaner and instead make a video about it or write one of those long statuses everyone is just going to scroll past anyway. Then, when you’re all wrung out, when you feel that you don’t have a single complaint left, dredge up a few more and call your member of Congress. That way you can at least try to turn your seething rage into affordable health care.

Fucking A.

I am so fucking sick of hearing people complain. In my office, by my unofficial count, the people I work with spend 99% of their time complaining about something (I’m confident I’d find the same percentage in every workplace).

But it’s not just people at work, it’s everyone. I’ve unfollowed people on Twitter and cut back on how frequently I use the service because, as Irby points out, “2017 has been the ashiest year in recent memory.”

A few years ago I made a quote by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem my mantra: The best way to complain is to make things.

We don’t all have the luxury of being a paid to complain like Bill Burr, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the power within you to transform a complaint into something else.

You might be saying to yourself, “But Mike, you’re complaining right now,” and you’d be wrong. This is a blog post built from complaints that were floating around in my brain. It might not be a music, or a New Yorker cartoon, but it’s no longer a complaint.

You actively sought out my silly little website and chose to read this blog post.

looking at art and creating it

How to Teach Your Children to Care about Art:

To start, it’s a cornerstone of art education programs to cultivate a symbiotic relationship between looking at art and creating it. In museums, it’s become standard practice for educators to develop art-making programs that engage audiences with the works in a current exhibition or permanent collection.

New York’s Whitney Museum, for example, has developed a vast array of programs to engage children of all ages (beginning with Stroller Tours for newborns and new parents), but one of its most popular programs is Open Studio, an in-house art studio led by graduate students that allows families to visit freely and create art on the weekends. “It’s a drop-in art-making program” says Billie Rae Vinson, coordinator of Family Programs, over the phone. “It’s a way to explore the artwork through some kind of material exploration.”

More of this please.

Fallout

Robert Blakeley, Whose Fallout Shelter Sign Symbolized the Cold War, Dies at 95:

You can still see Robert W. Blakeley’s ominous signs on old public buildings, rusted metal relics of an age when nuclear war was a clear and present danger. They marked the way to the fallout shelters where millions of Americans were to take refuge from the deadly radioactivity of thermonuclear explosions.

A half-century ago, the bright orange-yellow and black placards were ubiquitous on courthouses, town halls, schools and other shelters packed with canned goods and water supplies to sustain anywhere from 50 to thousands of people for days or weeks. To many, they represented hope for survival amid the destruction of cities. To others, they symbolized the insanity of war and the folly of defenses against nuclear attack.

Fallout shelters are one of the many interesting remnants of history still visible on the streets of New York.

Holden Shuts Down

Australia Mourns the End of Its Car Manufacturing Industry:

Kane Butterfield started working for Holden at 19 in a small South Australian town built around making the distinctly Australian cars.

But on Friday, after 17 years with the company at its Adelaide auto plant, he and hundreds of other employees bid it farewell, as the factory officially closed, putting an end to car manufacturing in Australia.

“I think it’s pretty tragic really that we’ve let go of one of the best cars around the world,” Mr. Butterfield, 37, told a crowd of reporters gathered outside Australia’s last functioning car factory.

Business people love to talk about innovation and “disrupting” but you don’t hear them talk much about the working class employees getting “disrupted” out the doors of their companies.

“the way things were back then”

David Bowie and Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Statutory Rape Problem:

We can dismiss all of this as just the “way things were back then.” We can pretend that we haven’t heard countless songs about young “Lolitas” who were “just seventeen—you know what I mean.” We can ignore the racial implications in the mainstream media’s relative silence on rockers’ histories of statutory rape and its glorification. But the next time you watch Almost Famous, take note of how much younger most of the Band Aids seem compared to the world-weary rockers that are repeatedly shown taking them to bed (Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane says she’s 16 in the film). Note how the movie casually nods to Page and Mattix in a scene at the infamous Hyatt “Riot House” on Sunset Strip. And think about how many girls would’ve been better off had someone given a damn way back when, as opposed to just fawning over a guitarist with some hit songs.Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman infamously began seeing 13-year-old Mandy Smith in 1983. According to Smith, Wyman had sex with her when she was 14. They married when she turned 18 in 1989; they divorced in 1991. She spoke about her time with the ex-Stone in an interview with The Daily Mail in 2010.

David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Sam Cooke, Don Henley, R. Kelly, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis. Lots of names.

Every person condones questionable behavior of others, but the line “you’re not allowed to cross” is different for everyone. Some people are willing to overlook Bowie’s behavior, but others will write him off completely.

This brings to mind Woody Allen, particularly his movie Manhattan. In it, Woody Allen’s character Isaac is a 44-year-old dating a 17-year-old high school student, Tracy, played by an actual 17-year-old Mariel Hemingway. In 1997, Allen married his adopted daughter, Soon-Yi.

As a man, it’s easy for me to justify why I still enjoy watching Woody Allen films (I contend Cate Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine was her best ever), but I would like to know what the actresses that starred in his films from 1998 until today think about his past.

Microsoft zigs, while Apple zags

Microsoft Has Stopped Manufacturing The Kinect:

Manufacturing of the Kinect has shut down. Originally created for the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s watershed depth camera and voice recognition microphone sold ~35 million units since its debut in 2010, but Microsoft will no longer produce it when retailers sell off their existing stock. The company will continue to support Kinect for customers on Xbox, but ongoing developer tools remain unclear. Microsoft shared the news with Co.Design in exclusive interviews with Alex Kipman, creator of the Kinect, and Matthew Lapsen, GM of Xbox Devices Marketing.

I find it a funny coincidence that Microsoft shuts down Kinect right when Apple is releasing an iPhone which has what is essentially a minaturized Kinect in it for 3D facial recognition.

Microsoft has a tendency to zig in the wrong direction while Apple zags in the right direction.

The other big zig-zag example that comes to mind is multitouch. When Apple got it’s hands on multitouch, it made the iPhone and iPad. When Microsoft got their hands on multitouch, they made the Surface.

No, not the tablet we know today, I’m talking about the big-ass table.

“These are screens, or visuals, that the actor can see and, depending on the scene, physically interact with during a shoot.”

Throughout the movie, K visits a laboratory where artificial memories are made; an LAPD facility where replicant code, or DNA, is stored on vast pieces of ticker tape; and a vault, deep inside the headquarters of a private company, that stores the results of replicant detection ‘Voight-Kampff’ tests. In each scene, technology or machinery is used as a plot device to push the larger narrative forward. Almost all of these screens were crafted, at least in part, by a company called Territory Studios.

The London-based outfit is known for developing on-set graphics. These are screens, or visuals, that the actor can see and, depending on the scene, physically interact with during a shoot. They have the potential to raise an actor’s performance while creating interesting shadows and reflections on camera. Each one also gives the director more freedom in the editing room. If you have a screen on set, you can shoot a scene from multiple angles and freely compare them during the edit. The alternative — tailoring bespoke graphics for specific shots — is a time-consuming process if the director suddenly decides to change perspective in a scene.

Designing the technology of ‘Blade Runner 2049’

This is amazing. I’ve always assumed the computer interfaces I see in movies are are put in during post-production. Territory are making usable interfaces.

The Slow Death of Retail

Lord & Taylor Building, Icon of New York Retail, to Become WeWork Headquarters:

From the moment it opened its doors more than a century ago, the Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan has stood as an icon of old-school retail.

Its Italian Renaissance design, complete with grand entrance arch and copper cornice, was a 676,000-square-foot temple to commerce — and was named a city landmark a decade ago.

But after Christmas next year, less than a quarter of its space will be home to Lord & Taylor’s flagship store. Instead, the retailer said on Tuesday, the Midtown Manhattan fixture will become the new global headquarters of WeWork, the seven-year-old office space start-up. Lord & Taylor will rent the bottom floors, redesigning them into a smaller version of its department store.

In selling its flagship building to a WeWork joint venture for $850 million, Lord & Taylor and its parent, the Hudson’s Bay Company, are bowing to pressures that have increasingly weighed on the retail industry. It is an acknowledgment that even the grand physical shopping spaces of old can now fetch higher values as offices catering to millennial workers.

Earlier this month my wife and I were in New Jersey for my sister’s wedding and we took a day trip into Manhattan. I noticed a significant number of empty retail spaces all over the city — many more empty spaces then when we moved out in 2012.

The state of retail seems very polarized. You’re either Apple commanding $5,546 per square foot or you’re folding.

“Trump is the darkness.”

Josh Marshall on how Trump destroys everything he touches:

I puzzled over this for some time. Eventually I sensed that Trump wasn’t inducing people’s self-destruction so much as he was acting like a divining rod, revealing rot that existed already but was not apparent. It may seem like an odd comparison. But I’m reminded of the effect in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series where the cursed pirates appear to be flesh and blood bodies. But the moonlight reveals them as desiccated skeletons, animated but undead. The rot was there but hidden. Trump is the moonlight. Perhaps better to say, to invert our metaphor, Trump is the darkness.

I would add to this that Trump increases the rot. He brings out the worst in people.

Because he’s constantly lying, he’s creating conflicts were none existed.

An Essential Price Cut

Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile operating system, launched his own, new phone called the Essential Phone back in May and earlier today Dieter Bohn reported the Essential Phone dropped $200 in price (always a sign of a smash hit):

Essential is slashing the price of its eponymous phone, down to $499 at its website. That’s a $200 price cut from the original $699 price, less than two months after it began shipping to customers. There is really no other way to read the move except as a signal that it wasn’t selling well at $699 — especially given that the only US carrier stores it’s available in have “Sprint” above the door. It certainly doesn’t help that it now has to face the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL head-to-head.

I’m not sure what Andy Rubin expected. The market is extremely crowded, even if you take out the iPhone. Competing with just Samsung for Android market share is plenty of competition.

Let’s not forget the Essential Phone didn’t ship on time back in July.

Rubin’s first Essential blog post, Why I started Essential, kinda sorta sheds some light on things, but I’m still left confused:

For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?

I left that night reflecting deeply on what was great and what was frustrating with the current state of technology today. After another long talk with my friend we decided that I needed to start a new kind of company using 21st century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century.

I don’t use Android devices, but are people “fighting” with their Android phones? I’m also not convinced the Essential Phone distinguishes itself from other Android phones like the Pixel 2 and the Galaxy 8.

Nerds are getting great at building products, but they have to get better at marketing them. I recommend they read every book by Seth Godin for starters.

“laughed at by the fight gods”

Bellator’s unpredictable night shows difficulty of building stars:

Best laid plans in MMA are often thrown by the wayside and laughed at by the fight gods. For Coker and company, Bellator 185 was one of those nights. By the end of it Mousasi was in the hospital, Hardy’s face was destroyed, and Julaton had been upset.

Back to the drawing board.

It’s not just Bellator. It’s tough for any mixed martial arts organization. New champs can be crowned in any fight. Superstars like Conor McGregor are very rare and even their victories are far from guaranteed.

Just look at what happened to Ronda Rousey. It seemed she was the UFC’s next rising superstar, but then her fight with Amanda Nunes happened now her fighting career doesn’t look so bright. Back in January Joe Rogan said he didn’t think she’d fight again and as more time passes it’s looking more and more likely.

People love rooting for their fighter, but it’s hard to do that in such a volatile sport.

Lying Robots

Gizmodo contributor George Dvorsky interviewed the authors of Robot Ethics 2.0: From Autonomous Cars to Artificial Intelligence and they discuss why we might want to consider programming robots to lie to us:

Gizmodo: How can we program a robot to be an effective deceiver?

Bridewell: There are several capacities necessary for recognizing or engaging in deceptive activities, and we focus on three. The first of these is a representational theory of mind, which involves the ability to represent and reason about the beliefs and goals of yourself and others. For example, when buying a car, you might notice that it has high mileage and could be nearly worn out. The salesperson might say, “Sure, this car has high mileage, but that means it’s going to last a long time!” To detect the lie, you need to represent not only your own belief, but also the salesperson’s corresponding (true) belief that high mileage is a bad sign.

Of course, it may be the case that the salesperson really believes what she says. In that case, you would represent her as having a false belief. Since we lack direct access to other people’s beliefs and goals, the distinction between a lie and a false belief can be subtle. However, if we know someone’s motives, we can infer the relatively likelihood that they are lying or expressing a false belief. So, the second capacity a robot would need is to represent “ulterior motives.” The third capacity addresses the question, “Ulterior to what?” These motives need to be contrasted with “standing norms,” which are basic injunctions that guide our behavior and include maxims like “be truthful” or “be polite.” In this context, ulterior motives are goals that can override standing norms and open the door to deceptive speech.

Maybe robots should start reading fiction too.