Quick-Takes

Building the ‘Parasite’ House: How Bong Joon Ho and His Team Made the Year’s Best Set

Bong described the home as “its own universe inside this film.” He added that he took pleasure in hearing that the famous directors on this year’s Cannes jury — which included Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Kelly Reichardt — were all convinced that the movie took place in a real home. In truth, Bong asked his production designer to create an “open set,” built on an outdoor lot.

Parasite was a wild ride.

The Best Thing About This Smartwatch Is the Strap — Looks like (Android) Wear OS is still meandering in mediocrity while Apple Watch is eating the entire Swiss watch industry. Favorite quote by Victoria Song: Wear OS still kinda sucks, but in a dull, this-isn’t-exciting way rather than the shitshow it used to be. Sign me up!

Nikola teases an electric pickup with 600 miles of range — So there\’s a electric vehicle start-up called Nikola. Groan. And they\’re teasing a vehicle they haven\’t made, that doesn\’t exist. People just love doing unboxing videos before they even have something to box, don\’t they?

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Links

Apple Watch, just a niche product.

Apple now sells more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry:

The Apple Watch wasn’t just the best-selling smartwatch last year, but also put the Swiss watch industry to shame, according to new sales estimates compiled by Strategy Analytics. The report estimates Apple shipped nearly 31 million units in 2019, a 36 percent jump over last year. The Swiss watch industry, which includes brands like Swatch and TAG Heuer, only shipped an estimated 21.1 million units, a 13 percent decline, Strategy Analytics says.

Remember back in 2016 when the Swiss watch industry said it wasn’t worried about Apple’s Watch?

Life moves pretty fast.

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Uncategorized

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They let you do it.

It is a paradox that the most litigious country in the world—a country whose founding documents were largely drafted by lawyers, and whose constitutional true north has long been the constraints afforded by the law—elected a man who has spent the bulk of his life creating a two-tiered system, in which some men are bound by law and others float away from it. We knew long before he was elected that Donald Trump would not be bound by the rule of law, or by the norms of a system dependent on checks and balances. He told us as much. During the campaign he floated the prospect of torturing the families of enemies, and rewriting libel laws, and banning travelers to the United States based on their religion. Sure, it maybe sounded like hyperbole, and it maybe sounded like campaign-speak, and even as some of those efforts were effectuated, including the Muslim ban and family separations, and even as the norms about nepotism and self-dealing and disclosure were brushed away, it still seemed as if a country founded on law would locate some guardrails.

—Dahlia Lithwick, The Law Is for Suckers

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Politics, Tromp

To have a business you need to have more than a business?

The Verge has a profile on electric skateboard startup Boosted:

Born out of a Stanford startup incubator in 2012, Boosted pretty much single-handedly popularized the idea of electric skateboards — or, more specifically, remote-controlled longboards powered by electric motors. The company launched an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter that same year and started shipping in 2014. Co-founder and former CEO Sanjay Dastoor often talked about wanting to grow Boosted beyond skateboards into a company that made “last-mile” vehicles in other form factors. But it wasn’t until he stepped down and was replaced by fellow Stanford mechanical engineering grad Jeff Russakow in 2017 that Boosted tried to make that happen.

It seems that in today’s day and age it’s not sufficient to have a great idea and turn that idea into a business. There’s this urge to weaponize your company into something that can take on anything and everything. “No! We’re not an electric skateboard company! In a year we’ll be making autonomous cars and Mars rovers!”

Granted their entrance into the electric scooter market is a natural extension of their skateboard business, but shouldn’t you have success with your core product before expanding and diversifying?

It’s always about raising money, never making money.

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Business, Product

The iPad has fallen short.

Gruber feelings on the iPad:

The iPad at 10 is, to me, a grave disappointment. Not because it’s “bad”, because it’s not bad — it’s great even — but because great though it is in so many ways, overall it has fallen so far short of the grand potential it showed on day one. To reach that potential, Apple needs to recognize they have made profound conceptual mistakes in the iPad user interface, mistakes that need to be scrapped and replaced, not polished and refined. I worry that iPadOS 13 suggests the opposite — that Apple is steering the iPad full speed ahead down a blind alley.

I agree with Gruber that the iPad has not lived up to its original mission, but don’t think the future is as dire as he paints it. Apple can still course correct things. The question is, though, whether they will.

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Interface, Product, Software

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Samsung. Fixing what’s not broken.®

Engadget – Samsung Galaxy S11 renders show an even more complicated camera array (my emphasis):

Reputed leaker @onleaks has unveiled new renders of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S11 that show the selfie camera shifted from the right side to the center. The images, created by 91 Mobile, also show a new rear camera array, a screen that’s more curved than the Galaxy S10, new button positions and more. The renders are based on a “very reliable and first level industry source,” according to @onleaks.

If everything is accurate (and that’s a big “if,” given that Galaxy S11 isn’t due to be released until next year), then the new camera position will likely be welcomed by buyers. As it stands now, taking selfies with the S10 can be a bit tricky due to the offset camera position.

Fragile, half-baked folding phones that don’t fit in your pocket, front-facing cameras that don’t point at your face.

What the fuck you doin’ over there in South Korea, Samsung?

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Product

“the end game of fame is always sales”

The Atlantic – Marie Kondo Goes Full Goop:

Like Gwyneth Paltrow’s luxury-wellness emporium, Goop, KonMari also occasionally veers bizarrely pseudoscientific. Air fresheners promise to inspire motivation or romance. A rose quartz comes with a tuning fork to bonk against it, “to amplify the healing properties of crystals.” Look closely, and you’ll see evidence that the student might one day become the teacher. Goop sells $80 gem-containing water bottles, claiming that the crystals imbue the bottles’ contents with good vibes. Kondo also sells a gem-containing bottle, and it costs $98.

It’s ballsy to encourage people to throw out their possessions only to turn around and sell them replacements. Despite the profound irony, though, Kondo’s pivot from decluttering Svengali to tchotchke retailer isn’t particularly surprising. She has muscled her way to legitimate celebrity status in America, and in 2019 the end game of fame is always sales.

Well played, Kondo. There are suckers born every second.

She’ll make some good cash with her bullshit.

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Consumer

Metaphors

Fast Company: Apple built a $1 trillion empire on two metaphors. One is breaking:

That’s how metaphors work: Once their underlying logic becomes manifest, we forget that they were ever there. No one remembers that before the steering wheel in a car, there were tillers, and that tillers made for a natural comparison when no one drove cars and far more people had piloted a boat. The metaphor disappeared once driving cars became common. In digesting new technologies, we climb a ladder of metaphors, and each rung helps us step up to the next. Our prior assumptions lend us confidence about how a new technology works. Over time, we find ourselves farther and farther from the rungs we started with, so that we eventually leave them behind, like so many tiller-inspired steering wheels. Or like the various metaphors—hyperlink, browser, search engine—that taught Westerners how to use the World Wide Web.

I wrote about this ‘disappearing metaphor’ problem back in 2009:

Fine. As long as we have our living analogue ancestors around, our iconography can stay in place and mutate when some of them become extinct. We get it. Let’s stretch this out to it’s logical conclusion – there is no interface. We become the interface. The interface becomes us.

We’ll reach a point in the future where what Mr. Dawes is saying does come to be. People will no longer understand that bell telephone means ‘call someone’. Phones will become implants and we’ll simply say a person’s name to our interfaceless voice recognition system. We have HUDs in jets and cars, is it really a stretch to image an HUD eye implant?

Picture an iPhone without the iPhone.

It will be a strange, new world once we fuse with our devices.

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Interface

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