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A bunch of old rubbish: links 1/11/14

2014 January 11

Once again, I have continued dragging web shortcuts into a folder on my Mac desktop even though I have long ago quit any kind of regular “linkblogging” program. It’s just a reflex now, I suppose, something like Dr. Strangelove… In any event, once again I have gone through the great heap remaining from the past year and pulled out items of interest, if only for my own purposes. This time it seems a bit more like a generalized year-in-review to accompany my personal version.

As one of my favorite artists has written, “walk backward through your life, and look at everything you missed.”

I actually posted this link, way back in February, but I bring it up because 11 months later I have indeed followed through: I received a copy of Ni No Kuni for Christmas, and subsequently bought a secondhand Playstation3 to play/view it, and I’m about five days or so into the game now. More on this in time, probably.

Another memory from last February, a story about the Australian government finally and successfully calling BS on Adobe’s long-notorious overseas price gouging. As I noted later, this turned out to foreshadow significant events a few months further into last year…

Late that same February, another item that looks a bit different in retrospect: remember the kerfuffle about Marissa Meyer banning working-from-home for Yahoo(!)? Again, a few months later and I had a whole new perspective on what constituted nefarious behavior at this and other internet companies… I’ve switched pretty much completely to independent search engines since the middle of last year.

Something I missed the first time around: in revisiting this story about Susan Kare, I actually read a bit of it and learned the origin of that seemingly nonrepresentational command glyph on the Macintosh keyboard.

I liked this, too: a search for genuinely remote locations in every US state.

This Slate item seems remarkably observant. Justin Peters joined in commendation of the Plain Dealer‘s coverage of three women escaped from years-long imprisonment by a local evil person—then predicted this was pretty much going to be the organization’s “last hurrah” in terms of great journalism. I have seen little before, or since, to persuade me that he’s wrong. (For further related thoughts, see this.)

Yet another little laugh about life’s reversals. In May, I saved a link to this celebration of a decade of WordPress. Later the same year, I was feeling distinctly less celebratory about this platform.

While in other realism-about-technological-limitations news, this reality check about 3D printing seems worth saving.

This was also the year that dissatisfaction with the Washington football team’s “Redskins” nickname approached a tipping point, perhaps. In any event, credit to this selection of entirely credible alternatives, complete with logo designs. As a Cleveland-area resident, I believe that it’s time to drop more than one Native American “inspired” team identity, actually…

On a less serious note, I simply loved this satirical guide to creating an ideal “hipster” logo. I don’t think the relevant trend is quite as bad as the “cult of the slanted oval” from the late 1990s, but one quickly recognizes a legitimate target here nonetheless.

A number of items prompted some impression/hope of an approaching fork in the road for intellectual property attitudes. It seems that a number of large and respected institutions are leaving behind the “restrict everything to toll-based usage” model (that I encountered repeatedly in working on my first book). Adding lasting public value rather than extracting rents forever, gee gosh! On the other hand, within the corporate world the old sharing=bad model is not going to go quietly. I think there’s nonetheless a real chance that things are different now than in 1998—in fact, I know that’s the case in many ways—and I hope that the inevitable next attempt to extend copyright can be prevented. After which, we can finally begin restoring the balance between rewarding creativity and enriching the public domain that was the original intent.

(As a sidenote, I also learned this year that the particular cartoon invariably cited to explain why “they keep extending copyright so that Disney won’t lose its monopoly” may very well have in fact fallen into the public domain, even if people remain wary of testing this, as was the case with Sherlock Holmes until very recently. The larger issues, of course, are unaffected either way.)

Despite my distrust of the publisher, eventually I may look further into this: a Google web site design tool. As of this past fall, though, it sounded like it probably needs a bit more work.

Charlie Stross wished death on more than one thing that might in some sense be called software, this year. My general agreement is probably strongest when it comes to Microsoft Word, though. In fact, having suffered through using Word’s despicable Office sibling, PowerPoint, way too much in the past year, I might prioritize the latter in execution orders. But the whole suite should really be exterminated. There’s certainly no way I would use MS Word for any truly voluntary activity. After writing my first book primarily in the obsolete AppleWorks, I suggested that I might just write the second in TextEdit. Guess what: I’m doing so, too. And it’s working just fine.

Speaking of things that are too complicated, around the time that I was looking for a new e-mail program, the never-ever-safe-for-work Daisy Danger posted this on Twitter, which really just summed it up entirely.

AIGA introduced a very interesting new, expanded menu for paying membership options last year. I still haven’t done anything with it aaaaaaaand I’m not sure I’m going to… but I credit them for giving me something to think about.

On a related note, AIGA Cleveland sponsored or in some way associated itself with this event, which is a lot like what I have said many times that I really want from a design society… though for various reasons, I haven’t bitten on this, either.

If “the $4 toast story” means anything to you, then you probably realize why I was smiling this past autumn about how nice it is to live in northeast Ohio, and why I smile again recalling the item.

Myst turned 20 years old this year. Grantland (of all places) published a very satisfying look back. I still have my original copy on CD, though it’s become all but useless to me now. Loved the game, though.

Finally, arstechnica provided the glad tidings that a sensible balance of alcohol and caffeine is just the thing to keep your DNA from both its respective Scylla and Charybdis.


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