stephen.news

hypertext, words and more

  • From Nikhil Suresh’s blog:

    And then some absolute son of a bitch created ChatGPT, and now look at usLook at us, resplendent in our pauper’s robes, stitched from corpulent greed and breathless credulity, spending half of the planet’s engineering efforts to add chatbot support to every application under the sun when half of the industry hasn’t worked out how to test database backups regularly. This is why I have to visit untold violence upon the next moron to propose that AI is the future of the business – not because this is impossible in principle, but because they are now indistinguishable from a hundred million willful fucking idiots.

  • I am not interested in shelling out money to use productivity apps. This is for two reasons:

    1. Most productivity software has moved to a subscription model. No thanks.
    2. Apple provides these out-of-the-box on iOS and macOS. Seems good!

    If those two items resonate with you, you’ve come to the right place. There’s of course problems with staying with the Apple ecosystem. For example features and bugfixes typically only ship once a year. Sometimes, you get no features at all in a given release cycle! A small trade-off for inexpensive productivity apps.

    I love Obsidian. Especially because you get a lot for free. But, I keep coming back to the Notes App. It is simply too easy to use and frankly more available when I just need a place to jot something down. It also seems that Apple is making incremental steps to improve Notes, especially in the context of Apple Intelligence making its way to iOS users very soon:

    That being said, the true power of the Notes app lies hidden within another another app altogether… Shortcuts! iOS Shortcuts are the key to unlocking more effective productivity across the Apple ecosystem.

    I’m shamelessly re-posting Volkov’s iOS Shortcuts from his piece titled, The Digital Minimalist’s Complete Guide to Information Management in Apple Ecosystem:

    Basic with No Tasks:https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/9f26253a78a7462b87eb29a374e88fe4

    Daily Plan based on Reminders:https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/d980745a1468406cbc11f63df7cbb271

    Daily Plan based on Things 3 (latest version):https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/b28b3936596d44fea7311cc92e59e6d9

    Daily Plan for TickTick (a bit different logic):https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/47d10b291c9747c2b744059289c6ed33

    I recommend taking Volkov’s Shortcuts and editing them to your liking! For example, I like the ‘Basic’ shortcut as a base template. I edited the shortcut to always save a note in a Daily Notes folder and to always default to ISO 8601 date format (e.g. 2024-06-29).

    Probably anecdotal at this point, but I keep my Shortcut on my homescreen over the actual Notes app, so I can always tap right into my Daily Note:

    If you want my fork of Volkov’s daily note shortcut, you’re welcome to have it: https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/d23d9cc51c1b433f9d2299db5bf676c4

  • A Texas legend. A prolific satirist. A poignant and irreverent political superstar in a state full of bullshitters and snake-oil salesmen, Kinky was a breath of fresh air.

    Friedman gained a reputation as a provocateur. In the early 1970s, he formed the satirical country band Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys — which penned songs like “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed.” Later, he published novels that often featured a fictionalized version of himself, including “Elvis, Jesus and Coca-Cola” and “Armadillos and Old Lace.”

    In politics, Friedman staked out unusual positions at the time for someone seeking statewide office in Texas, like legalization of marijuana and casino gambling. He supported same-sex marriage in 2006, long before the Supreme Court legalized it nationally, quipping, “I support gay marriage because I believe they have right to be just as miserable as the rest of us.”

  • The last time I saw Crawford’s work at the MoMA it was maybe around 2021. It left me filled with anguish and a lot of contempt for industrial progression. Which, frankly I needed the perspective. Immensely thankful I live in a city where I can go visit the MoMA to experience Anatomy of an AI System in person.

    Calculating Empires is a little different in some respects, but also very much a similar research visualization. From the about page of calculatingempires.net:

    Calculating Empires is a large-scale research visualization exploring how technical and social structures co-evolved over five centuries. The aim is to view the contemporary period in a longer trajectory of ideas, devices, infrastructures, and systems of power. It traces technological patterns of colonialism, militarization, automation, and enclosure since 1500 to show how these forces still subjugate and how they might be unwound. By tracking these imperial pathways, Calculating Empires offers a means of seeing our technological present in a deeper historical context. And by investigating how past empires have calculated, we can see how they created the conditions of empire today.

  • “The circle doesn’t just form itself — we form it, […] is there a machine that can probably make it? I mean, yeah … But this is just the way it’s been done.”

    […] “It feels good thinking and knowing that they’re in the park, and kids are using it,” Valenti said of the handmade rims. “A lot of great basketball players that came out of New York played on these hoops, so that’s pretty cool.”

  • Kwon is best known for capturing the burgeoning New York hip-hop scene from the late 1980s to the late 2000s, featuring iconic figures such as Notorious B.I.G., Method Man, and De La Soul​.

  • Back in 2017, Resident Advisor visited Paul Nicholson. He shares his creative design process for Aphex Twin’s (Richard D. James) Selected Ambient Works Volume II (sometimes abbreviated as SAW II) album artwork. Novel and fun to hear him talk about some of the design choices he made. You can tell he’s giddy to expand on some of the deliberate artwork choices (like the chart symbols corresponding to different tracks on SAW II).

  • A common and disappointing fact of life is products (like all things) inevitably meet their end of life someday. The mark of a great product, are those that transcend their makers.

    The chewing gum, Fruit Stripe has been around since 1960. While the gum and brand has changed parent companies several times, the original gum has largely remained the same product since it was introduced. Unfortunately, the gum is now going the way of the do-do.

    The manufacturer Ferrara Candy said that they will cease the manufacturing of Fruit Stripe Gum this year. End of an era. Just looking at a photo of the gum makes me salivate. I can practically smell the fruity gum from this photo.

  • Sacha Greif, the owner and creator of the popular design newsletter, Sidebar has made the decision to pause operations:

    “Design content seems to have either dried up, or else been driven to platforms like Medium and Substack.”

    In his post, he shares a list of design sites to follow

    I’ll add a few of my own bookmarks here below. Some of these are more communication design focused than others.

  • Anders sadly perished a few days ago at the age of 90 in a terrible plane crash. Anders was a man of many talents. Running General Dynamics was probably not one of them. I’ll leave that story out of this post, but leave that to you look up. Instead, I want to share something else about William Anders. One of his greatest shining achievements, was probably this unscheduled photograph he took during the Apollo 8 mission.

    First, for the uninitiated, Apollo 8 was the first crewed mission to leave Earth’s orbit completely to reach the moon. The crew then orbited the moon some 10 times before returning back to Earth. It was a landmark historical mission.

    A transcript from NASA’s program Earthrise: The 45th Anniversary:

    On December 24, 1968, a few minutes after 10:30 am Houston time, Apollo 8 was coming around from the far side of the Moon for the fourth time. Mission Commander Frank Borman was in the left-hand seat, preparing to turn the spacecraft to a new orientation according to the flight plan. Navigator Jim Lovell was in the spacecraft’s lower equipment bay, about to make sightings on lunar landmarks with the onboard sextant, and Bill Anders was in the right-hand seat, observing the Moon through his side window, and taking pictures with a Hasselblad still camera, fitted with a 250-mm telephoto lens. Meanwhile, a second Hasselblad with an 80-mm lens was mounted in Borman’s front-facing window, the so-called rendezvous window, photographing the Moon on an automatic timer: a new picture every twenty seconds. These photographs, matched with LRO’s high-resolution terrain maps, show that Borman was still turning Apollo 8 when the Earth appeared. It was only because of the timing of this rotation that the Earthrise, which had happened on Apollo 8’s three previous orbits, but was unseen by the astronauts, now came into view in Bill Anders’s side window. Here’s what it looked like, as recreated from LRO data by Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio. You’ll hear the astronauts’ voices as captured by Apollo 8’s onboard tape recorder, beginning with Frank Borman announcing the start of the roll maneuver, and you’ll see the rising Earth move from one window to another as Apollo 8 turns.

    Borman: All right, we’re gonna roll. Ready… Set…

    Anders: The impact crater with uh – at uh – just prior to the subsolar point on the south side, in the floor of it, uh, [unintelligible], there is one dark hole. But I couldn’t get a quick enough look at it to see if it might be anything volcanic.

    Anders: Oh my God, look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth comin’ up. Wow, is that pretty!

    Borman: Hey don’t take that, it’s not scheduled.

    [shutter click]

    Anders: You got a color film, Jim? Hand me a roll of color, quick, would you?

    Lovell: Oh man, that’s great.

    Anders: Hurry.

    Lovell: Where is it?

    Anders: Quick

    Lovell: Down here?

    Anders: Just grab me a color. A color exterior. Hurry up. Got one?

    Lovell: Yeah, I’m looking’ for one. C 368.

    Anders: Anything. Quick.

    Lovell: Here.

    Anders: Well, I think we missed it.

    Lovell: Hey, I got it right here [in the hatch window].

    Anders: Let me get it out this one, it’s a lot clearer.

    Lovell: Bill, I got it framed, it’s very clear right here!

    [shutter click]

    Lovell: Got it?

    Anders: Yep.

    Lovell: Take several, take several of ’em! Here, give it to me!

    Anders: Wait a minute, just let me get the right setting here now, just calm down.

    Lovell: Take –

    Anders: Calm down, Lovell!

    Lovell: Well, I got it right – aw, that’s a beautiful shot…Two-fifty at f/11.

    [shutter click]

    Anders: Okay.

    […]

    Source: Transcripts of Earthrise: The 45th Anniversary

    I love this interaction. It highlights just how much a team effort it took to take these photographs, and just how astounding the visage of Earth rising up out of the darkness as they orbited out of the dark side of the moon. Truly captivating.