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The Billionaire’s Typewriter →

March 23, 2015 |

Matthew Butterick on the pitfalls of modern publishing platforms like Medium:

Medium is a new kind of type­writer—the bil­lion­aire’s type­writer. It’s not the only bil­lion­aire’s type­writer. So is the Kin­dle. So is iBooks. So is Twit­ter. What dis­tin­guishes these new type­writ­ers is not the pos­si­bil­i­ties they make avail­able to writ­ers, but what they take away.

Whereas the tra­di­tional type­writer of­fered free­dom at the cost of de­sign, the bil­lion­aire’s type­writer of­fers con­ve­nience at the cost of freedom.

Food for thought. Via Ben Brooks.

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At Kodak, Clinging to a Future Beyond Film →

March 23, 2015 |

Fantastic piece by Quentin Hardy for The New York Times on the current state of Kodak, the company that was once the global leader in film photography and that filed for bankruptcy in 2012:

What happens after a tech company is left for dead but the people left behind refuse to give up the fight? At Kodak the answer is to dig deep into a legacy of innovation in the photography business and see if its remaining talent in optics and chemistry can be turned into new money in other industries.

Once a household name as big in its day as Apple and Microsoft have been for later generations, Kodak was part of everyday life, its film — sold in a yellow box — recording births, vacations, weddings. And then Kodak became a cautionary tale about what happens when a tech company is slow to change. For Kodak, the advent of digital photography was ruinous. Today it has $2 billion in annual sales, compared with $19 billion in 1990 when consumer film was king. It now has 8,000 employees worldwide; it had 145,000 at its peak.

The digital photography revolution was brutal on Kodak, but the company refuses to die. If nothing else, you gotta admire their resiliency. Via The Newsprint.

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How Life360 won its patent war →

March 20, 2015 |

Great reporting by Joe Mullin of Ars Technica. Last year, Life360 CEO Chris Hulls received a patent demand letter from a company named AGIS, threatening to sue if they didn’t agree to license four of their patents. Hulls’s response was as hilarious as it was ballsy:

Dear Piece of Shit,

We are currently in the process of retaining counsel and investigating this matter. As a result, we will not be able to meet your Friday deadline. After reviewing this matter with our counsel, we will provide a prompt response.

I will pray tonight that karma is real, and that you are its worthy recipient,


And that’s just the beginning.

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Marco Arment on the future of the dumbwatch →

March 20, 2015 |

Marco Arment:

The Apple Watch isn’t just a watch, interchangeable like any other. It’s an entire mobile computing and communication platform, and a significant enhancement to the smartphone, which is probably the most successful, ubiquitous, and disruptive electronic device in history.

Once you’re accustomed to wearing one, going out for a night without your Apple Watch is going to feel like going out without your phone.

I think his reasoning is absolutely spot-on, but I disagree with his conclusion. Yes, going out without your Apple Watch will feel a lot like going out without your phone, except your phone will still be in your pocket. There’s nothing important you’re left unable to do by leaving the watch behind, because you can just use your phone instead.

Actually, for the same reason I almost never pull my phone out of my pocket when I’m out with friends, I believe I’d be extremely likely to want to leave the Apple Watch at home when I go out. I don’t want to be interrupted by a million notifications all night long when I just want to have a good time and relax with some friends.

So, while I definitely appreciate everything the Apple Watch can do for me during the day, at night I still see myself wearing my nice dumbwatch instead. And if there’s something I really need to do I can just take my phone out, get it over with, put it back in my pocket and go back to my whisky.

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Jessa Gamble on Drowning →

March 20, 2015 |

Jessa Gamble shows us what drowning really looks like in the last entry of Last Word On Nothing’s “Debunking Hollywood” series:

This scenario – reinforced by television and movie scenes – has become society’s platonic ideal of drowning, and it held sway even in lifeguard training up until the 1960s. That’s when Frank Pia, Chief Lifeguard on Orchard Beach in the Bronx, realized it didn’t square with the thousands of drownings and near-drownings he’d witnessed in his job. (…)

In his 1971 documentary On Drowning – 17 minutes of actual near-drowning and rescue footage – he reveals the impossibility of any shouting, waving or even kicking in the last 20 to 60 seconds between near-drowning and final submersion. Drowning is a gentle and silent event. It looks like someone treading water lamely, with his head tilted back. Parents, even those beside their kids in the water, might watch it happen and feel no distress, because in young children it looks a little like dog-paddle.

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Chris Van Velzer on the choice of “presence” in street photography →

March 20, 2015 |

Chris Van Velzer is a Shanghai-based street photographer that uses the Olympus/Fujifilm remote apps for street shooting:

The real purpose of this article is not simply to share a technique that I have found useful, but to provoke discussion and thought on use of the technique, from a philosophical standpoint. Personally, I am firmly of the philosophy that public life can, and should, be documented freely – by anyone. But there is a point at which the street photographer has to realize that the choice to either shoot “invisibly” or “with obvious interaction” has every bit as much of an impact on the final image as the choice of what field of view, or framing, or composing, or exposure, or anything else has on a final image. This also, in my own “reasonable” framework means I’m not going to follow someone down the street, paparazzi style, just because I can legally. It also means if I ever get someone that realizes I am photographing them, and clearly wants that photo gone – I will likely delete the photo (although I have never run into this particular scenario). It also means that sometimes I will take a picture of someone that will never know I did – and not have the ability to object.

Besides the gorgeous images, Van Velzer also provides a comprehensive overview and comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of the Olympus Image Share and Fujifilm Cam Remote apps.

I have to say, I find his technique to be incredibly ingenious. I will definitely be trying it next time I go out to shoot.

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James Joyce Link Fest →

March 19, 2015 |

Every now and then there are some funny coincidences on the Internet. Over the past few days and coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day, both Coudal Partners and Susannah Breslin, writing over at, have linked to two really interesting pieces on the wonderful Irish genius that was James Joyce:

  • The first one of those is the title link of this entry, James Joyce Orders a Shamrock Shake, where the also wonderful Timothy McSweeney recreates the proper Irish way to order a mint-flavored milkshake.

  • The second one is also absolutely fantastic. Apparently, Mr. Joyce enjoyed inventing his own words every now and then, and some of his most accomplished creations have been compiled and proudly displayed by Paul Anthony Jones in 17 Words Invented by James Joyce. These include terms as descriptive as Poppysmic, Obstropolos, and the verb Sausage. Yep.


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The changing perception of time as you confront death →

March 19, 2015 |

What a thought-provoking video by Stanford University:

Paul Kalanithi, MD, was a Stanford neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with lung cancer in his mid-30s. He wrote a popular op-ed for The New York Times in early 2014 on confronting mortality. Here, he reflects on his changing perception of time as doctor, patient and new father. He died at 37 on March 9. The Stanford community mourns his loss.

For some reason, rather than inspiring or motivational, I always find these stories profoundly terrifying.

Also, here’s an excerpt from Dr. Kalanithi’s article on The New York Times, the one mentioned in the description above, titled “How Long Have I Got Left?”:

But the range of what is reasonably possible is just so wide. Based on today’s therapies, I might die within two years, or I might make it to 10. If you add in the uncertainty based on new therapies available in two or three years, that range may be completely different. Faced with mortality, scientific knowledge can provide only an ounce of certainty: Yes, you will die. But one wants a full pound of certainty, and that is not on offer.

Bone-chilling. Via Kottke.

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