The video game tie-in for E.T. was an epic failure. Atari sent hundreds of thousands of unsold copies to the dump. Joshua Wheeler reports on their excavation in The Glitch in the Video-Game Graveyard
In Alamogordo, New Mexico, a documentary crew has descended on my hometown to dig up our old dump in hopes of resurrecting hundreds of thousands of copies of E.T. the Extraterrestrial video-game cartridges that in September of 1983 were reportedly hauled 90 miles from an Atari warehouse in El Paso, Texas, and left for dead thirty feet down.
And apparently punk archaeology is a thing.
Behind me some guys in hard hats are complaining about not getting to gather more data and complete more analysis of the Pit before the public arrives tomorrow. They’re a group of self-proclaimed “punk archaeologists” who bullied their way into participating in the dig by insisting that it has sufficient value as cultural heritage to deserve some measure of archaeological methodology. Even though I’m unclear about the exact nature of punk archaeology and what this crack team of scholars hopes to accomplish here, I dub them the Arch Punks and resolve to fall in with them the next morning.
The University of Iowa’s Special Collections posted some photos from their copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Salvador Dali. I had no idea this existed, definitely going to need to see a copy of it at some point. You can see the illustrations on Retronaut, but there’s something to be said for seeing them in the original context.
An interactive presentation about Kowloon Walled City from The Wall Street Journal.
I still don’t know whom I should have trusted, if anyone. All I know is that I felt stupid, stressed out, humiliated, and sad. I had several shouting matches with a few of these guys. Some of them got personal. And all I had to show for my loyalty to Brian Ecton and my righteous indignation toward the other players was nothing at all. I was physically exhausted and emotionally abused. I hated Brian, the other players all hated me, and I hated myself most of all. I had to purse my lips extra hard to fight the urge to cry.
Settlers of Catan, eat your goddamn heart out.
I want to play, but at the same time, it seems sort of terrifying.
We rescued two PDP-11/34 computers and their associated equipment from a storage unit in the Bronx and have been working on getting them running again. The computing system included multiple RK05 hard drives, two RL02 decpack drives, a TU11 tape drive and tons of media, including “digitized monkey brains“.
Unsurprisingly, the operating system is not y2k compliant.
Tim Harford takes a look at big data for the Financial Times and asks if we are we making a big mistake.
But the “big data” that interests many companies is what we might call “found data”, the digital exhaust of web searches, credit card payments and mobiles pinging the nearest phone mast. [...] As our communication, leisure and commerce have moved to the internet and the internet has moved into our phones, our cars and even our glasses, life can be recorded and quantified in a way that would have been hard to imagine just a decade ago.
I think the main take-away is that there’s a need to be careful with the data and not jump to conclusions, just because you have a lot of data, doesn’t mean it’s good. I also think it’s important for these companies to allow us, as consumers, to access our data in the same ways that they’re able to.
As a side-note, I came really close to not posting this link because of scuzzy clipboard hijack behaviour from FT. I copied the above text to use as a quote. Upon pasting the quote, they attached a wonderful message about the effort that journalism takes and to use the link to share instead. That’s exactly what I was doing, and despise the insinuation that I somehow disrespect the efforts of journalists by copying a paragraph of text.
For all my creative friends who’ve struggled at times trying to achieve their dreams, an artice from Sara Benincasa, Real Artists Have Day Jobs.
Have you ever dreamt of being a real artist?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to call yourself a real painter, or a real writer, or a real actress, or a real musician?
Have you ever described yourself as someone who does something amazing and magical and wonderful and life-affirming and then added “on the side”?
Well, you might not like what I have to say.
Because I have come here today to deliver the unfortunate truth that you are lying to yourself.
You are not going to become a real artist one day.
You are a real artist right now.
Go read the rest.
I’d come home with huge blisters in my mouth from the salt. Yeah, fried food doesn’t have the same appeal anymore. And the other amazing thing is seeing the whole world behind literally every product we consume. Every aspect of the foods, taste, appearance, texture, is so insanely focus grouped and tested. Every major food company has a similar testing process.
Sounds like fun.
Here’s a somewhat fluffy NYT Magazine piece from Daniel Engber, titled Who Made That Progress Bar? He credits it to an interface designer named Bob Stahl. I found this tidbit interesting:
Myers asked 48 fellow students to run searches on a computer database, with and without a progress bar for guidance. Then he had them rate their experience. Eighty-six percent said they liked the bars. “People didn’t mind so much if it was inaccurate,” Myers says. “They still preferred the progress bar to not having anything at all.”
It lets the user know there’s magic happening behind the curtain.
Ultimately, what we’ve done with Pages and Duplo is take the elements of magazine layout design — a powerful tool in framing a story and its impact on the reader — and created a way to automate the process, while still capturing the essence and art of a human designer’s craft.
There’s some pretty cool stuff going on under the hood, including adding a degree of randomness to the layouts, so you don’t get the same layouts over and over again.
1×1.gif should have won a fucking Grammy. Or a Pulitzer. Or Most Improved, Third Grade Gym Class or something. It’s the most important achievement in computer science since the linked list. It’s not the future we deserved, but it’s the future we needed (until the box model fucked it all up).
All the things I’ve forgotten. Blink, deal with it.
Monotony collapses time. Novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthy and live a long life while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next — and disappear. That’s why it’s important to… have as many new experiences as possible… Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perceptions of our lives.
When I arrive in a new city and start exploring, one of the first things I do is pick out some landmarks to orient myself and avoid getting lost. Similarly, events in life can serve as a landmark in time. When you’re young and in school, it’s easy… the semesters and various breaks serve to chunk things up. As you get older, it becomes harder, the days begin to bleed into each other. Getting out and doing something different allows you to break up any monotony and slow down the passage of time.
The New York Times website was redesigned recently. You can read about the technology behind it. Personally, I’ve been waiting for a behind-the-scenes about the WordPress at the core of their blogging operations. Scott Taylor delivers with an article entitled Rethinking Blogs at the New York Times.
Because we are turning WP content into Module content, we no longer want our themes to produce complete HTML documents: we only to produce the “content” of the page. Our Madison page layout gives us a wrapper and loads our app-specific scripts and styles. We have enough opportunities to override default template stubs to inject Blog-specific content where necessary.
Overall, it’s less about a visual redesign and more about an architectural redesign. The NYT’s legacy system seems like it was an absolute nightmare. I tried to condense Scott’s article into a short blurb, but I can’t. So, if you’re remotely interested in the structure of large scale online publishing systems go read it (regardless of your opinion about WordPress). If you are a WordPress developer, there’s some cool stuff going on, like abstracting the away the visual structure.
The period is pissed. It seems that using the period at the end of text messages is starting to be seen as passive aggressive.
The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”
I was chatting with Zach the other night and mentioned that I have a tendency to overthink things and never follow through on projects and whatnot. His reply was spot on, “You… overthink? Never”. It bothered me a bit, but the truth can hurt.
When I was younger, I had a tendency to put everything I did online… just didn’t think about it and posted whatever. As I aged, I started to worry more about my posting (relevancy, career suicide, whatever). I got older. And older. And I’ve reached the point where I’ve stopped giving a fuck.
This is my personal site, you don’t have to be here. If I feel like posting a ton of articles on some particular day and lose subscribers or hits or whatever, that’s fine. Don’t worry, this isn’t a crazy rant, just a pre-cursor to more regular content posting. Cheers!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tom Moertel’s tale of a great old-timey game-programming hack, it reminded me of my computer science days and assembly programming.
A long time ago, when I was a college undergrad, I spent some time working on computer video games. This was in the 8-bit PC era, so the gaming hardware was almost impossibly slow by today’s standards.
It might not surprise you, then, to learn that, back then, game programmers did all sorts of crazy things to make their games run at playable speeds. Crazy, crazy things.
This is a story about one of those things.
I started using Sass and Compass last summer. It has probably been the biggest thing to happen to my web development style since the transition from table-based to pure CSS layout. Just bought the book this week and am super stoked to read it.