Wimbledon 2014: Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic →

July 06, 2014 |

Today is the most special day of the year in men’s tennis calendar: the day of the Wimbledon final. Roger Federer will try to win a unprecedented 8th Wimbledon title against Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion:

Of course, we need look back only 12 months to find a player who did not blow the opposition away in every match throughout the Fortnight, but then came spectacularly good in the final to win in straight sets. Djokovic was on the wrong end of the result that day, and funnily enough will be intent upon reversing the story this time around. He may well succeed. But Federer will grab this latest chance – we have surely learned by now not to describe it as his last – with both hands. The 2014 final is an absolutely intriguing prospect.

For all intents and purposes, Novak Djokovic should be the favorite to win today. But you should count Federer out only at your own risk.

Federer is well past his prime and yet, there’s still something special about his game; a certain kind of magic no one can match. The grass of Centre Court is where he’s been most successful, a place where he seems able to turn back the clock to his awe-inspiring days. It is truly a joy to watch.

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Happy anniversary, Curiosity →

July 01, 2014 |

It’s been exactly 687 Earth-days (one Martian year) since Curiosity landed on Mars:

One of Curiosity’s first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms. The answer, a historic “yes,” came from two mudstone slabs that the rover sampled with its drill. Analysis of these samples revealed the site was once a lakebed with mild water, the essential elemental ingredients for life, and a type of chemical energy source used by some microbes on Earth. If Mars had living organisms, this would have been a good home for them.

Even in an era of such technological prowess, I still can’t believe we’ve managed to place a selfie-taking, remote-controlled robot on the surface of Mars. These are truly interesting times to be alive, as we’re starting to venture beyond the confines of our cozy little blue home.

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Withings Activité: Dumb is the new Smart →

June 25, 2014 |

Interesting new smartwatch from Withings. To me, its main appeal is that it looks nothing like a typical smartwatch. Instead, it looks like a traditional, high-quality analog watch, and it does have a certain classic vibe to it. I wouldn’t mind wearing one.

It’s still too early to say whether the Activité will succeed where others have failed, though. For one thing, what kind of product is this? Who does it appeal to? Feature-wise, it is essentially a fitness tracker disguised as a watch, basically a nice-looking Fitbit. But as a fitness tracker it doesn’t make sense: at $390, it’s almost four times as expensive as most other fitness-tracking gadgets, all of which offer a similar set of features.

However, at the same time, $390 is still considerably less than the cost of a typical high-end watch and people have no problem paying for those, so it’s possible it could work. But it clearly makes more sense to think of this as a watch with some extra features, instead of a fitness tracker that looks like a watch.

The question is, then: is there a significant overlap between both demographics? Or, to put it another way, are people who buy nice watches interested in tracking their fitness? The success of the Activité will probably hinge on the answer to that question.

Via The Loop.

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Bill Watterson Briefly Returns to the Comics Page →

June 09, 2014 |

Wow. Bill Watterson, THE Bill Watterson, returned to the comics page for the first time in 19 years to ghost-write a few panels of Pearls Before Swine:

Let me tell you. Just getting an email from Bill Watterson is one of the most mind-blowing, surreal experiences I have ever had. Bill Watterson really exists? And he sends email? And he’s communicating with me? But he was. And he had a great sense of humor about the strip I had done, and was very funny, and oh yeah…. …He had a comic strip idea he wanted to run by me. Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead.

Bill Watterson is famous for being fiercely protective of his own privacy. He almost never, ever comes out of hiding. He doesn’t do interviews or talks, unless it’s an extremely special occasion. It just doesn’t happen. He’s a legendary character and yet very few people have actually met him.

The fact that he voluntarily stepped out of anonymity to do something like this is incredibly amazing. If I was Stephan Pastis I’d also feel like I’d just met Santa Claus.

But why reappear now, if only for a brief moment? Could it be that he actually misses the comics page? Could it be the first step towards a more extended return?

Here’s hoping.

Via Ren.

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Letting go →

June 04, 2014 |

Matt Gemmell:

You definitely can’t work effectively when you’re angry, or drained, or upset, or depressed. I don’t subscribe to the ‘acquired immunity’ theory of personal experience, where we must be endlessly tempered by disagreement and adversity; that’s another thing that we take too far. I don’t want to be exposed in the first place – because I’d rather be making something I truly care about.

Matt is absolutely killing it lately.

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I’m New Here →

June 03, 2014 |

Neven Mrgan:

It was maybe two years after the move that I started thinking full-time in English, a language I’d previously only used in the classroom. Oddly, English felt more comfortable in my brain than Croatian ever had. Long sentences were easier to build, idioms were deeper in meaning, and new phrases came more naturally and more frequently. I didn’t feel myself tripping over the grammar or worrying about the vocabulary as much. There always seemed to be a different way to say something if I got stuck on a word.

Such a wonderful article. I agree with pretty much everything he said, especially this bit about the English language.

Via Marco.

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Mac keyboard shortcuts →

May 22, 2014 |

Excellent article by Matt Gemmell on how to master your Mac’s keyboard shortcuts. A must-read:

I recently wrote an article about [being productive on a small screen](, which mentioned my belief that the most effective route to productivity on a computer is learning the available keyboard shortcuts. In this piece, I’d like to share some of the keyboard shortcuts and related functionality that I use every day on the Mac.
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Stop forcing people to wear bike helmets | Vox →

May 17, 2014 |

I was a bit surprised to see John Gruber’s link to this article on Daring Fireball:

This doesn’t mean that if all American bikers leave their helmets at home, New York is going to suddenly turn into Copenhagen. But it does mean that safety officials’ emphasis on helmets is totally misplaced — and that required helmet laws mainly make biking more dangerous by taking bikers off the road.

This struck home for a couple of reasons. First, it’s well-written and objective, which is rare. This is a subject about which most people have first-hand experience: they either know someone who was tragically killed but would have been saved had he been wearing a helmet (probably not), or someone who was saved from certain death only because he was wearing a helmet (again, probably not), or they themselves had a scare and were relieved to have been wearing a helmet at the time. These unsubstantiated claims (arguing about what could have happened is not how Science works) typically turn into pretty strong opinions that are based on anecdotal evidence rather than objective, statistically meaningful data.

The truth, however, is that the most you should realistically expect from your helmet is for it to save you from a couple stitches and bruises, and possibly a minor concussion. This is admittedly not bad at all, and a perfectly good reason to wear one. But at the end of the day, you’re wearing a piece of styrofoam on your head, not exactly an indestructible shield.

Secondly, I’ve been closely involved in this topic for the past year or so due to the recent push for pro-helmet legislation led by our current government here in Spain. Their plan was to change the existing legislation in order to ban cycling without a helmet in Spanish cities. The proposed reform sparked an intense debate with numerous pro-cycling associations, and faced such strong opposition that the government finally gave in and settled on a less ambitious reform: only minors under 16 will be banned from cycling without a helmet in Spain.

The end result is, quite frankly, ridiculous, as there’s no logical reason to allow helmet-less cycling by adults but not by minors. As far as I know, people don’t magically grow a steel-reinforced skull when they turn 16.

Alas, our government is not the most receptive when it comes to political debate, particularly when they have a majority in Congress, as it is the case now. They don’t need to listen to anyone; they can just approve whatever reforms they want because they have the votes to do so. Which is why the fact that they backtracked on this is so telling: they were so clearly and stubbornly wrong that the only way they could rectify and still save some face was this last-minute, minors-only compromise that serves nobody.

Welcome to Politics in Spain. No wonder we’re so screwed.

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