Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for September, 2011

Warco

A new game from Defiant Dev, the objective of which is to shoot and edit footage of a war, then broadcast the news report to the world.

Rabbit Island

From the Cold Splinters blog:

In February of 2010, Rob Gorski and Andrew Ranville purchased a 90 acre island on Craigslist (seriously), 3 miles off the coast of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. They recently ran a Kickstarter which was funded to facilitate their plan to build an Artist Residency on the island.

An incredible achievement. It’s amazing what can happen with a few Kickstarter backers (and, of course, effort).

You Can’t Buy Word of Mouth

Shawn Blanc:

Advertising has gone from “look at me” to “try me” to “like me” to “please like me so much that you’ll tell your friends about me.”

Yes! In a nut, some companies are striving for a fake sense of word of mouth. Instead of making a product so good that a customer simply has to tell their friends about it, they’re actively encouraging people to spread the word on something otherwise unremarkable.

Introducing Instagram v2.0

A big, big update that doesn’t fix the issue Louie Mantia noted on Twitter yesterday:

I don’t care if Instagram is run by 5 people or how many millions of users it has, but they could have a designer look at it. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize how horribly rendered that blue bar is.

This update has an arguably uglier photo capture UI. On the plus side, the new filters err on the side of subtlety, which I prefer.

Edit: Mantia posted a tweet around the time I posted this link:

Wait, so Instagram went version 2 and the navbar isn’t fixed? It still scrolls with the view and looks like ass. Icon is better though.

I think the current scrolling behaviour of the navbar is excellent, but I agree with everything else. That blue bar still looks like crap. Instagram should get the rights to Tapmates’ redesign.

Secretly Nimble

A better example is the iPad 3. Why refresh when the iPad 2 continues to stomp? The longer Apple waits, the better the iPad 3 will be. Whenever a new challenger appears, or demand for the iPad 2 starts to dip, Apple can just pull the trigger.

I don’t think it gets super close to the line, but Apple is really good at waiting until they’ve finished stuff before they release it. Consider the leaked new iPod Nano part — the one that looks like the current Nano except it has a hole for a camera. That was leaked months ago, so the product is probably finished. The new iPod Touch or iPhone might not be, though, so it’s best for them to wait.

Via Gruber.

Kerning.js

CSS, meet kerning. Kerning, meet CSS. Kern, style, transform, and scale your web type with real CSS rules, automatically.

Genius. Toggle the demo on and off to see what you can do with a small chunk of javascript. Really wonderful.

Ephemera Regarding Permanence

Manhattan has no choice but the skyward extrusion of the Grid itself; only the Skyscraper offers business the wide-open spaces of a man-made Wild West, a frontier in the sky. — Rem Koolhaas

In Installation Art, Michael Archer writes about architecture, noting “its aspirations to permanence [are] continually undermined”, and it is a truism never stranger. Personal architecture was once exclusively temporary — in fact, often designed to accomplish its movement as efficiently as possible. The chum and the tipi are two dwellings of noted transitory nature. Structures gradually became more permanent as new building techniques and materials were discovered and developed. It was less customary to reside in one location for a brief period and more common to stay affixed to one address, one home, one coordinate.

The 15th through 19th centuries clearly made this an issue of import. Structures from that era are still standing strong, made possible by innovations in materials that, when cared for, don’t disintegrate so much with age. But the recent trend is not in favour of a lasting building, but back to ones of a transient nature. Homes are increasingly assembled with cheap ply, constructed in close proximity so that, in the event of a fire in one home, the entire community goes into a sort of reset stage, rather like a forest. Skyscrapers are constructed of concrete and steel, sure, but that doesn’t stop them from being spectacularly demolished[1]. The 30-story Landmark Tower was built in the 1950s in Fort Worth, and demolished in 2006, a lifespan of just 50 years. The Chrysler Building in New York was constructed 81 years ago, but that’s a mere pittance in the history of civilization.

There are examples of ancient architecture, such as those in Greece, Italy and England. But these are exceptions rather than rules. Surely some contemporary skyscrapers will be left standing in millennia, but the majority will not.

It strikes as surprising how temporary our most permanent of structures are. Our skyscrapers, institutions and historical architecture will all inevitably be removed and perhaps replaced at some point, or alternatively left to decay into a meadow in an ironic, yet appropriate gesture. In The End of Nature, Bill McKibben writes “[o]ur comforting sense of the permanence of our natural world, our confidence that it will change gradually and imperceptibly if at all, is the result of a subtly warped perspective.” This quote could just as easily be applied to the unnatural, man-made world of the city. We have seen it as always there, so we believe it will always be there. We couldn’t be more wrong.

  1. This isn’t a decades-old phenomenon, by the way. The Gillender Building in New York City was demolished in 1910 after standing just 12 years. However, these are not demonstrably non-permanent structures. [↑]

Stage Collapse Tragedy Caused By Illegal Downloading

Naturally, the festival organizers had insurance to cover these sorts of catastrophic things.  So if you’re the adjuster assigned to the case, to what would you assign blame?  The tent manufacturer? Those who erected the tent?  Perhaps those in charge of supervising the tent?  

No.  You blame illegal file-sharing.

There’s a certain finesse required to twist reality enough to create this level of bullshit.

Instapaper’s (anti-)Social Network

I was about to post Ben Brooks’ commentary yesterday, but I was waiting for Marco Arment’s response, which arrived today.

Instapaper takes advantage of your social networks to let you easily share what you’re reading and give you recommendations when you want them (and only then), but remains a quiet escape from the social networks when you just want to read.

Perfect.

Metro

I’ve been thinking all along that I’d rather Microsoft have let Metro stand alone as a next-generation OS, separate from Windows.

Me too, Gruber. I think Windows Phone 7 is the most compelling alternative to iOS, and it’s mostly because of the UI.

Place No Faith in Articles

A smart article on articles from the Wall Street Journal.

Nintendo Co.’s website shows gamers “what Wii is all about.” As far back as 1984, Apple Inc. said in a commercial that it would “introduce Macintosh.” Today, an Apple video enthuses: “There’s never been anything like iPad.” Some companies make the drop official. Research In Motion Ltd.’s style guide specifies that “BlackBerry” should be used “as an adjective and not as a noun or verb.” An unacceptable usage, it says: “the BlackBerry.”

I first noticed this in my iPod Mini instructions, with their coaxing me to “connect iPod to iTunes to sync.” It’s smart marketing but also grammatically frustrating.

I Remember 9/11

Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist):

I can still picture in my mind exactly how it looked down there and still when I walk down there I still expect to see the towers. Even more than missing the towers when I’m downtown I sometime think I will run over to the bookstore that was at the base of a WTC, completely forgetting it is not there anymore.

A beautiful memoriam.

From the Shitty Patent File

If you look at the 8,011,991th United States Patent, you will see the “Apparatus for Facilitating the Construction of a Snow Man/Woman,” granted to inventor Ignacio Marc Asperas of Melville, NY. The patent was filed on New Year’s Eve, Jan. 31, 2006 but was just granted on Sept. 6, 2011.

I want you to read the word “granted” again, and again, and again, until it sinks in.

And don’t go thinking this is a joke, because Asperas makes it perfectly clear in the beginning of the patent that it’s not. He includes a warning saying that “the following is not a joke patent.”

But of course.