October 25, 2014

Ubuntu turns ten

Ubuntu, the Linux distro for humans, according to the old slogan, is celebrating ten years. Ars Technica has a nice retrospective on Canonical’s Windows alternative.

Today, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, estimates that there are 25 million Ubuntu users worldwide. That makes Ubuntu the world’s third most popular PC operating system. By Canonical’s estimates, Ubuntu has roughly 90 percent of the Linux market. And Ubuntu is poised to launch a mobile version that may well send those numbers skyrocketing again.

Sweden’s stealthy sub that just can’t get caught

In case you didn’t know, Sweden’s got a much feared submarine that you’ll never see coming.

By mid summer of 2005 the Gotland arrived in San Diego and war games immediately commenced. Apparently the Navy got more than they were bargaining for when it came to finding and engaging the stealthy little sub. The Gotland virtually “sunk” many US nuclear fast attack subs, destoryers, frigates, cruisers and even made it into the ‘red zone’ beyond the last ring of anti-submarine defenses within a carrier strike group. Although it was rumored she got many simulated shots off on various US super-carriers, one large-scale training exercise in particular with the then brand new USS Ronald Reagan ended with the little sub making multiple attack runs on the super-carrier, before slithering away without ever being detected.

Actually, there are five of these things, quite possibly hunting Russian submarines as we speak. Who knows, perhaps even the almost nonexistant Swedish military’s got some secrets? Oh, and there might be a small dash of hyperbole in this post’s title, but come on, it’s a smeaky sub from Sweden! What’s not to gush about?

Anyway, the Jalopnik Foxtrot Alpha piece covering these stealthy killer machines from my native country was a good read on this very bleak Saturday morning.

Sundar Pichai now controls the important Google projects

Google’s Larry Page is handing over the keys to, well, not the kingdom, but a whole lot of strategic fiefdoms, to Sundar Pichai. Recode’s got the scoop.

The highly respected Pichai will now have purview over research, search, maps, Google+, commerce and ad products and infrastructure. And he will continue to keep his existing responsibility for Android, Chrome and Google Apps. The six executives in charge of newly added product areas, all of whom previously reported directly to Page, will now report to Pichai.

The move seems born of Page’s concern — which is not new — that Google will become less innovative as it ages. In a memo to staff, he noted that the changes will create less of a bottleneck and also help him focus his attention on existing and new products. That said, he’ll continue to directly manage business and operations, including access and energy (a new unit run by Craig Barratt), Nest, Calico, Google X, corporate development, legal, finance and business (including ad sales).

Pichai is behind Chrome’s rise, and manages Android too. Given the success, and the good reputation he’s got, this move seems like a good one.

October 24, 2014

Christian Bale to play Steve Jobs

Christian Bale will play Steve Jobs in Aaron Sorkin’s movie, based on the hugely successful autobiography by Walter Isaacson. Sorkin had this to say, about Bale, to Bloomberg:

“He has more words to say in this movie than most people have in three movies combined,” Sorkin said. “There isn’t a scene or a frame that he’s not in. So it’s an extremely difficult part and he is gonna crush it.”

I actually think Bale will do a good job playing Steve Jobs. It’s an intense role, for an intense actor, and they’re at least somewhat alike so there won’t be too much makeup. That said, I’m not so sure this movie will be particularly good. Isaacson’s autobiography lacks focus, so I hope there’s a good script.

Russian company buys ebola.com for $200,000

Remember Jon Schultz, owner of ebola.com? Well, he hawked it, to a Russian company interested in pot. The Verge:

After buying Ebola.com for $13,500 in 2008, Schultz’s Blue String Ventures just flipped the domain for $200,000. According to this SEC filing, the buyer is a Russian company called Weed Growth Fund, which is paying $50,000 in cash and handing over 19,192 shares it holds in another pot-focused company, Cannabis Sativa. Those are valued at around $164,000. Based in Nevada, Cannabis Sativa is led by two-term New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and aims to grow its business by marketing marijuana products for recreational and medical use as legalization becomes more common around the world.

Free short story: I Just Snapped

I’m happy that Ghostwoods Books was successful in their Kickstarter campaign. During a week moment, I promised a free short story – yet again – if the campaign was successful. Which it was, and thus, I’ll have to give you something.

Last time around, you got a story about a guy with a sword. That one was a bit longer than I’d planned, when making the promise. This time I’m keeping things shorter, 1,000 words long in fact. The story’s called I Just Snapped, and it’s vaguely related to a novel I should rewrite.

I hope you’ll enjoy I Just Snapped.

October 22, 2014

Don’t respond to bad reviews

Getting reviews can be rough, especially since you’ll forget about the good ones and cry over the bad ones. This is most likely universally true, for musicians and game makers alike. And authors too, I’ve got some first-hand experience there, as has everybody else who’ve sold some books.

Kathleen Hale stalked a reviewer, and she’s written about it in The Guardian. It’s a fascinating piece, but also quite creepy. I don’t think this is the way to tackle bad reviews, although I can certainly understand the helplessness she must’ve felt. Naturally, the whole piece is her point of view, which may or may not conform with reality. I wouldn’t know. There’s certainly been reactions, and you’ll have no trouble finding them should you want to. For my own part, I side with Chuck Wendig on this one: Don’t respond to bad reviews. It’s that simple, and that hard.

October 21, 2014

New Nintendo 3DS, and the want

Sam Byford, writing for The Verge, on the New Nintendo 3DS:

But let’s be real here: very little about the New 3DS feels new, or even much like a gadget released in late 2014. It’s still made of chunky plastic, the screen is still lower resolution than a standard-definition TV, and the internals are still wildly out of date compared to smartphones from even a few years ago.

It’s just as well, then, that the 3DS’s biggest strength is that it isn’t a smartphone — and that the other changes Nintendo made are all major improvements to the main thing it’s designed to do. Which is play games.

The score’s a respectable 8.2. I’ll probably pick up one of these when they launch in Europe next year (they’re Japan only for the time being), but it’s not a given. The problem isn’t the lack of games – there are plenty of great ones for the 3DS – but the fact that Apple and its App Store developers have utterly destroyed the need, if not the want, for a dedicated handheld games console.

Byford does have a point regarding both the 3DS and the Wii U: If you enjoy, and want to play, traditional video games, and especially those from Nintendo, then these are the games devices to own. That’s the one point where the App Store and its namesakes are sorely lacking. They can’t deliver the traditional games experience, and although there are controllers, they’ve a way to go.

Thoughts on the new Mac mini

Macminicolo is something as odd as a web host, or datacenter rather, that only uses Mac mini computers. That actually makes a lot of sense, because these things are affordable, durable, and has a small energy footprint. It’s always nice to see what these guys has to say about new Mac mini models, and the bump Apple did on the October event is no different. They list ten things about the new Mac mini here, and if you’re even the slightest interested in this computer, then at least glance through this one.

Not everyone’s happy about this update. Much like most of Apple’s computers, the new Mac mini isn’t easy to upgrade yourself. The RAMs not accessible at all, and it you want to swap out the harddrive you’ll void the warranty. The baseplate on the previous model, where you easily could open up your Mac mini, now features nasty screws. This is not a computer you’re supposed to open up and upgrade.

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October 20, 2014

Daily Crowdfunder
Daily Crowdfunder

If there’s one thing to take away from this post, it’s that Daily Crowdfunder has launched. It’s your crowdfunding savior, making sure you don’t miss out on the best campaigns, by featuring one campaign every day. If that’s too much for you then there’s also a weekly newsletter. Can’t go wrong with that.

Or, in the words of the site’s own description:

We’ve all been there, noticing an exciting crowdfunding campaign way too late. Our friends are showing off their latest smartwatch, game fitness band, book, album, or whatever it is they were a part of thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, and we’re left out. Or rather, we’re left behind, because the deals aren’t as sweet when these remarkable products hits the shelves and become available for the rest of us.

Our idea is simple. We find the best and most interesting crowdfunding campaigns, and feature one every day. That way you won’t miss out.

That was the important parts. Now, let’s dig deeper, shall we?

At Odd Alice, the agency where I’m the founder and CEO, we’ve got something called satellite programs. This is an incentive that helps our employees to launch projects, while Odd Alice has their backs. There’s an ownership split between the project owner(s) and Odd Alice, and a letter of intent that’s signed when the project begins. It’s all very friendly, very enabling.

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