• Arrived at my cafe, ordered my favorite orange and cranberry muffin and some tea, settled at a table by the window… and found I’d forgotten my book at home. Bloody hell. 😤📚

  • Babylon 5 Was the Ultimate Exercise in Plotting vs. Pantsing - Reactor

    A fascinating recap of Babylon 5s production and narrative choices. If there’s anyone I trust to reboot this it’s Straczynski. To the doubters, “faith manages.

  • Wonder Blind - Karen Elson

    A morning music surprise. It’s bittersweet “Tender hearts were made to wander blind” pairs well with the harp and flute mixed with the usual guitar and drum. I hope you enjoy!

  • How to Keep a Zibaldone, the 14th Century’s Answer to Tumblr - Atlas Obscura

    As @manton and Micro.blog opens up private notes, Austin Kleon reminded his readers about Zibaldones, a variation and precursor to commonplace journals. I think these two can go together well, don’t you?

  • The new XMen 97 trailer has me pretty stoked. I loved the cartoons growing up. This could be some awesome nostalgia-fueled entertainment!

  • Does This Taste Funny?: Recipes Our Family Loves, by Stephen Colbert and Evie McGee Colbert

    Well, this is going on my holiday wishlist! (It doesn’t come out until September, sadly.) 🧑‍🍳📚

  • KOSA isn’t designed to help kids. | danah boyd | apophenia

    It’s empty posturing and fear mongering in place of real attempts to address the issues. It’s the same answer the current (and likely future) US government has for climate change, changing geopolitics, gun violence, fascism, the list goes on.

    I’m scared. I’m scared for the vulnerable youth out there who don’t have parents that they can trust. I’m scared for the kids who are struggling and don’t have a safety net. I’m scared for the LGBT kids who are being targeted by politicians. I’m scared for the pregnant teenagers who don’t have the right to control their bodies. I’m scared for those who see no future with a planet that’s heating up. I’m scared for those who are struggling with wars. I’m scared for the children who are being abused. None of these young people will be served by wagging a finger at Meta and telling them to design better. More likely, more and more young people will be shunted from services that are their lifeline while their cries for help go unheeded.

  • The Quiet Earth

    I can see why this is a classic for people into thoughtful, thought-provoking cinema. I’m regretting having seen this film, though. It’s only exacerbated my low mood and made me feel even more isolated. I’m glad I saw it, but damn do I want to be around people now. 📽️

  • This was not one of the sets of today’s Connections puzzle, to my great disappointment. 🧩

    A view of an unsolved NYTimes Connections puzzle. On the top row, the options “Sponge”, “Bob”, “Square”, and “Pants” are selected.

  • Caitlin Canty, “Enough About Hard Times”

    A kick-in-the-rear folk rock-ish song to start your day. I’m enjoying her songs; maybe you will too! 🎵

  • Apple Vision Pro, What Could Be, and What Could Have Been

    Like many of you, I’ve been consuming the first reactions to the Vision Pro. The measured reviews by respected critics, those fearing the isolation from reality it might bring and the true believers using it in ways that show more fantasy than common sense. Even the occasional Macho Man Randy Savage comparison.

    I love the idea in theory, but the more I read about it, and the more I reflect on the product, the more I think Apple missed the target by focusing on their vision (heh) than what their product actually could be.

    Here’s the key question - when the Vision Pro’s sheen wears off, when the interface’s restrictions start to constrict rather than merely challenge, when it has to be more than just a fancy close-up high-res screen and become a tool to be used, what will it bring to the table that cheaper devices like the Quest don’t? It interfaces well with the Apple ecosystem, sure, but not everyone uses the Apple ecosystem or wants to. We already have devices with screens for doing work and keeping in contact. We already have fantastic screens for consuming media. It’s really high quality, sure, but a tool is only a tool when it’s used. How will this $3,500+ device be used a month, six months, a year after purchase?

    What problems does it solve? Here’s one example: Take a look at this video of a mechanic fixing his car(1). They’re using a Meta Quest while working, but nothing is overlaid on the engine. Instead, a few virtual windows are placed to the side with repair manuals, web sites and a YouTube video. Their hands are free to do the actual work in front of him, without having to prop a phone or laptop nearby. It’s not hard to think of similar use cases.(2) Anywhere you can augment your existing job with live visual data and simple interactions while needing your hands and without juggling extra screens, these headsets can be an effective solution.

    When the work is done? It can be put away, put in a bag, waiting to be used again. That’s the thing about tools, they get put away when they’re not needed. They’re not meant to interface between me and the world; they’re to help me interface with the world.

    The thing is, you don’t need a $3,500+ headset to achieve the goal of having ambient data while having your hands free. The Meta Quest starts at $500. That’s about 15% of the cost of what Apple is charging, for something that does a job long after the wow factor wears off. It’s more accessible for developers to afford and play with, and it’s more accessible for consumers. It isn’t as well made as the Vision Pro, but it doesn’t need to be.

    Apple missed the use case by emphasizing ways it can be enjoyed over what could be productively done with the Vision Pro. Picture this as an alternative: A headset that solved the head fatigue issue many reviewers are reporting using advanced materials and clever design. It can’t do environmental overlays and only blocks the outside world in cinema mode, which isn’t as good as a 4K TV but perfect when you want to enjoy something privately. It doesn’t have a front LCD screen trying to mimic your eyes; instead, it recognizes lifting the device up your head like a pair of sunglasses similarly to taking an AirPod out of an ear - pausing the information feed, to resume when you lower it back into your gaze. It comes with a USB-C port for power and hardware interfaces; the external battery it comes with allows passthrough for data. It works with keyboard shortcuts as well as gestures to help you navigate the interface however you’re most comfortable. And it’s built to work with existing apps and programs on your Mac, iPad and iOS devices, so you can use what you’re familiar with. (3) (4)

    I’m pretty certain such a device can be made for much less than the current asking price of the Vision Pro. It would be an immediately useful tool, and be more accessible for developers and tinkerers to play with. Instead of trying to anticipate the perfect vision of a headset, this would be a solid entrance into the field focused on quality, value and exploration that other platforms can’t match. And yes, maybe they considered all this and found some technical challenges, but a first generation product doesn’t have to do everything. A first generation product doesn’t have to showboat or swing for the fences, it just has to prove there’s something there worth investing in, and be a solid foundation for future development.

    As it is, I think the Vision Pro is an expensive luxury item that loses its value as soon as the rose colored lens are dirtied. The problems I have with existing platforms and devices have nothing to do with arranging panels in immersive 3D space and making me think I’m on the moon; they have to do with those apps themselves, how they’re programed and enable or interfere with my goals. This device, as is, substitutes an impressive and arrogant vision for a proposed solution and invitation to explore. I don’t know if the future involves VR or AR, but I hope it isn’t this.

    (1) Yes, it’s a Youtube video of a guy talking about a TikTok video playing on a Reddit page. It’s the only copy I could find that wasn’t directly on TikTok, so…

    (2) A utility pole worker who uses live data for safety and efficiency while working on the wires, comes to mind as an example. The key point here is the person could do the job without the ambient information, but it helps them to do the job in a way that’s safer, or faster, or more efficient.

    (3) If the Vision Pro already does some of this, great! I’m not arguing the device doesn’t do this, just that it doesn’t have to do more, or to the degree that it does.

    (4) For people who need to use it with glasses, like me? If the device can scan our faces to make an avatar, I wonder if it can scan physical glasses too, and then adjust the device output for them, along with knowing your prescription. Maybe Apple could partner with a high-end glasses manufacturer, like the Apple Watch had the Hermes band partnership - stylish glasses that are guaranteed to work with the device. For everyone else, Bring Your Own Lens!

  • More and more, I want to abandon my to-read pile and dive into John Scalzi’s ouvre. It just sounds so fun!

  • Rebecca Solnit: How to Comment on Social Media ‹ Literary Hub

    I can’t remember where I read this first, and search is failing me, but here’s a bit of sage advice mashed with a 99% Invisible tagline:

    Always read the plaque; never read the comments.

  • Finished reading: Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer 📚

    A wise, engaging, gentle yet urgent book. Some of the chapters, especially “The Owner”, were wonderful essays about the toxicity of modern ways of understanding. I want to revisit this when I get to her next book, Braiding Sweetgrass.

  • Finished reading: How Sex Changed the Internet and the Internet Changed Sex by Samantha Cole 📚

    This is more of a historical overview than anything in depth, but having read it, I feel more competent and capable of understanding more complex and nuanced takes. I’m glad my book club chose this for January’s book.

  • Currently reading: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson 📚

    About time I got further into the series!

  • Magic moment of the morning: stepping outside into the rain while Flight by Alex Kozoboli plays in my ear, the light piano keys falling in time with the drops on all around me. 🎵🌧️

  • My friend will perform in half an hour! Only place I can find a seat is in the overflow section, but that’s ok because it’s also slightly muffled, which means my autistic aural sensitivity won’t be as hard to manage. Now to get a glass of wine! 🍷🎵🎷

    In a dim blue-lit room, on a stage, drummer is setting up on stage in front of a screen with a venue sign for The Blue Room. Closer, an empty table for six.

  • My history with Macs

    A bit late to the anniversary, but:

    My first Mac was the very first. My dad insisted my sister and I be exposed to computers, and made sure we went to computer camps when we were barely out of kindergarten. Turtle Graphics in Logo and BASIC were my jam.

    As time moved on, my family switched to PCs as they were less expensive, and my dad cared more about the use of the computer than the company that made it. That lasted until my first job on campus, when I was issued one of the Macs in the office, and I’ve stuck with them ever since.

    I lived and breathed through the OSX renaissance, hand-coding table based layouts in Dreamweaver while finding joy and community in being a Mac user. PCs always had more flexibility, and my gamer friends loved to rag on Macs, but for me it was an elegant tool that let me work on what I loved while being part of a community that cared about design and user experience. The web always interested me more, but you couldn’t do nearly as much on it back then, as you can today, and when you needed to do something the web didn’t support, the Mac was the better option.

    Now days, I have my M1 MacBook Pro, my iPhone 12, my Apple Watch, my iPad Air, and my Apple TV. I’ve wandered away from the community somewhat as my interests and my boundaries with tech and work have evolved, and I now strongly prefer apps and tools that are cross platform, on principle. The company sometimes makes me scowl and knit my brow (see the recent app store opening shenanigans). The Apple ecosystem remains the best way to use tech as a tool, though, and here I’ll stay.

  • Trying out a new recipe for empanadas. Kinda hope it works. Kinda hope it fails so I can order in Thai. We’ll see!

  • The embassy’s press statement almost had me spit out my tea laughing: ☕️

    US Embassy in London speaks out on American professor’s controversial tea recipe

  • Reading Gathering Moss, finishing the “Binding Up the Wounds” chapter, and thinking of how moss laying the groundwork for flowering plants and trees to grow in mine runoff is analogous to poor communities laying groundwork for privileged ones, minus the capitalism and entitlement. 📚

  • My grandpa was a Nazi

    This is the key section for me:

    Behind his jovial facade hid a cruel man. He saw himself as a puppet player and he didn’t accept when his puppets didn’t play the role they were supposed to. I played my role as a child and then stopped and things no longer worked out between us.

    The Nazis, the white supremacists, the ones who are drawn to this toxic way of thinking, they don’t want to work with people. They want to pull strings or be pulled in ways that suit their egos. Secondhand puppet masters in love with the feeling of taught strings around their fingers, all of them. No room for a cupped hand of water, nor a gentle hand on a shoulder, not even a handshake given in respect. The strings around their fingers keep their hands twisted down, useless for anything other than manipulating others and telling stories to justify it.

    All we have to do is keep cutting their strings. Easier said than done, but ultimately, all antifascism amounts to that.

    Hat tip Ben Werdmuller for the link.

  • Since I was in the area, I dropped by a cafe I used to pass by when I lived in Dartmouth. It was always extremely busy, too busy to sit down and enjoy a book or some company. This quiet Sunday morning, it’s quieter, but still has the vibe of a place meant to grab and go, of chaos and bustle.

    The inside of a cafe modern style showing (from close to far) chairs and tables, themed sweatshirts for sale, people waiting at a bar for orders, workers making orders at equipment, and a wall decorated with Latin American themed art.

  • It’s chilly in my condo today, with temps outside at -6°C, so I’m huddled in my bedroom under blankets while working. When I find a new place to live, I’m making sure it’s better insulated than this place! ❄️🥶

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