October 6, 2015

Android Auto wants too much for Porsche

Porsche picks Apple CarPlay over Google’s Android alternative, for not so surprising reasons. The Verge:

The publication says that Android Auto tracks variables including vehicle speed, throttle position, fluid temperatures, and engine revs, information that is collated and then sent back to Google. Apple’s CarPlay, on the other hand, only checks with the car’s powertrain control module to ensure that the vehicle is moving. Porsche was apparently unwilling to enter a deal that would send reams of information back to Google — partly, Motor Trend says, because the manufacturer thinks those details make its high-end autos special, and partly because Google itself is in the midst of building its own car.

October 3, 2015

Hollywood Vampires

Alice Cooper’s latest project is a cover supergroup featuring Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, and more. They call themselves Hollywood Vampires and if you like rock you should listen to their self-titled album. Anyway, there are obviously a lot of stories, mostly focusing on Cooper’s past with the original Vampires, but this one from Rolling Stone feels more sincere.

Depp and Cooper met on the set of Depp’s 2012 film Dark Shadows. Hollywood Vampires started with the idea of recording a covers album, giving them an excuse to fool around in the actor’s well-appointed studio (“He has the best guitar collection I’ve seen,” says Perry). The band took its name from a 1970s L.A. drinking collective that included Cooper, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and guest stars like John Lennon and Ringo Starr. Eventually, the new Hollywood Vampires cut an album, with a number of tracks paying tribute to rock greats who drank or drugged themselves to death — Moon, John Bonham, Jim Morrison — some of whom were friends of Cooper. (Cooper himself quit drinking in the 1980s after his doctor told him he could either stop or join his friends in the hereafter.)

October 1, 2015

Patreon security breach

Patreon has had unwanted visitors:

There was unauthorized access to registered names, email addresses, posts, and some shipping addresses. Additionally, some billing addresses that were added prior to 2014 were also accessed. We do not store full credit card numbers on our servers and no credit card numbers were compromised. Although accessed, all passwords, social security numbers and tax form information remain safely encrypted with a 2048-bit RSA key. No specific action is required of our users, but as a precaution I recommend that all users update their passwords on Patreon.

Update your password if you use Patreon.

September 30, 2015

Twitter to go beyond 140 characters

Recode reports that Twitter are planning to go beyond the 140 character limit, with a longform product. Also, this, which I think it’s a no-brainer:

In addition to the long-form product, execs have been openly discussing the idea of tweaking how Twitter measures its 140-character limit by removing things like links and user handles from the count, multiple sources say. In the past, Twitter has tinkered with the limit in other ways. Twitter Cards are still beholden to the 140-character limit but are intended to help people (and advertisers) share lots of information, and Twitter added a “retweet with comment” option in April to give people more room to comment on tweets they share. The company also lifted the 140-character rule on private messages back in June.

This following Facebook’s revamped Notes, a snipe at Medium and other similar platforms, no doubt. Blogging isn’t dead, but it might very well be owned by social networks in the future. Let’s hope not.

Also, hi. Sorry for the silence, it’s been a bumpy few weeks. More on that later.

September 9, 2015

Apple’s September 9 event

Speaking of Apple’s event and their new products, here are my takeaway thoughts.

  • I will buy an iPad Pro. The iPad is, alongside the iPhone, my favorite device to work on. It’ll be interesting to see what the larger form factor will do to that.
  • The Smart Keyboard looks alright, I’ll pick one up since I’m a sucker for things like that, but I don’t expect to use it much. As I wrote in The Writer’s iPad, one of the strengths of writing on an iPad is that it’s not connected to the keyboard, and you can position it any way you like.
  • I doubt the Apple Pencil will make me use a stylus more, but it does look promising. I’m having a hard time fitting Paper’s and Wacom’s alternatives into my workflow, so I’m skeptical.
  • The Apple TV could be huge. It could change home gaming completely, especially if the games carry across all iOS devices. It’s too early to tell, but I must say I’m excited about the new Apple TV.
  • And I’ll get a new iPhone 6S Plus, I think. 3D Touch looks really promising. I haven’t regretted switching to a new iPhone model yet, and I doubt that’ll change.

All in all, a pretty nice Apple event. They’re all doing their thing, selling their brand, so well now. I’m happy to not only see white men on stage as well, although there’s still ample room for improvement. You can watch it all for yourself on Apple’s site, which is preferable from reading these posts.

Clickbait and quality

Gizmodo (and Kotaku) really likes to take a negative spin on all things Apple. These are some of their recent headlines, coming off tonight’s/this morning’s Apple event: Apple’s New Smart Keyboard Turns the iPad Pro Into a Surface Clone, Apple Pencil: The Stylus Steve Jobs Warned Us About, Apple’s So-Called Gaming Console Is A Major Bust. These posts, aside from the last one which is whiny and ridiculous, aren’t even that negative. They’re reports, they’re noise to drive in the links (sorry about that) and the pageviews. It’s soulless reporting, rehashing what anyone could find out from Apple’s site. The soul purpose of these headlines is to drive more eyeballs, nevermind the fact that they fit poorly with the content.

This is the thing I don’t get with Gizmodo. They sometimes produce great content, break stories and run with them in true new journalistic fashion, but then you get this crap. It’s not just Apple either, although that’s clearly a favorite topic of writers and readers alike, it’s all over the place. The strategy probably works, pissing some people off, and give others what they like. It’s just weak and, frankly, boring. For some reason it continues to amaze me, these things, when they come from outlets that can produce great content. Luckily I don’t have to read it, and neither do you. In the end, quality and analysis will prevail.

August 25, 2015

Buy a village?

Why buy an overpriced closet in a city, when you can get a village in Spain? Fascinating story.

The village, near Ortigueira, comes with free well water and a bakery with a stone hearth. Six miles away, green cliffs drop off onto white sand beaches — and some of Europe’s best surfing.

The biggest of the village houses has hardwood floors and five bedrooms overlooking an orchard with peaches, figs, walnuts, apples and pears. At the bottom of the valley, there’s a little river full of trout.

The asking price for the whole village: About $230,000 — negotiable. Smaller villages with less fertile land go for tens of thousands. Adkinson has one house for sale for $5,600.

August 23, 2015

I’d give Lucha Libro a shot

The Lucha Libro writing contest, in Peru, sounds like glorious fun:

Peru’s Lucha Libro is kind of like that, without the violence. It’s literary “wrestling.” New writers don masks, and head onto a stage where they’re given three random words, a laptop hooked up to a gigantic screen, and five minutes to write a short story.

At the end of a match, the losing writer has to take off his or her mask. The winner goes on to the next round, a week later. And the grand prize? It’s a book contract.

August 21, 2015

Startup business what?

Jyoti Ganapathi, writing about hating calling his business a startup:

We didn’t know it then, but being a mentor is the gluten-free diet of the investing world. Everyone was doing it. And more importantly, they believed they were qualified to do it. They felt not a moment of hesitation before they went on to tell us things that made no sense at all.

August 19, 2015

WordPress 4.3 is out now

Get your updating done, post-haste. You can download WordPress from wordpress.org, or just update from within the admin interface.

WordPress 4.3 updates the customiser, gets rudimentary markdown-like support, and adds a function for site icons, among other things. The launch blog post lays it out for you, but obviously you could and should just test it for yourself.