Hi! Do you remember blogs? Well, this used to be one. Now it just serves as an archive for my multiple Twitter accounts.

1 June 2008

@jkottke:

My Twitter friends stream is increasingly turning into open mic night at the Comedy Barn.

It seems to happen to everyone after a while; I can’t stand Leo Laporte anymore.

Isaac Asimov, Foundation

Yeah, well… no. The story is most definitely interesting, but the writing — and not just the words, but the construction, the storytelling — is just way too dated. This time I’m really done with science-fiction from the 1950s.

Resident Evil 5

The video is finally available in HD, and I’m still not convinced — but then I’ve never been too attracted to a Resident Evil anyway.

The explosions look impressive, though.

2 June

Twitter Blog: It’s Not Rocket Science, But It’s Our Work

In which they confirm that everyone who participated in the technological development of Twitter should be shot. What the hell do you expect to achieve with memcached and just a couple SQL servers on such a write-heavy service?

John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

Two years ago I gave this book up right in the middle, when it looked like it was going to double-back and go through several hundred more pages of exposition and character development. Turns out there was some of that, but I also kind of gave up just before the story started paying off. I still feel like I spent most of the book being bored, and there’s not a single character I care the least bit about, but it’s a good story. That just doesn’t work for me. And is way too similar to the only other Irving book I’ve read before, The World According To Garp.

3 June

Apple Store au Carrousel du Louvre

Je suis à moitié surpris qu’ils aient choisi, pour leur premier Store français, un endroit où la vitrine ne pourra pas être visible depuis la rue, mais il est facile de voir ce qui peut attirer Apple au Louvre (et puis c’est moins loin de chez moi que les Champs). Ils vont sûrement payer un alpiniste pour accrocher une pomme géante en douce au milieu de la Pyramide sans que personne ne s’en aperçoive.

Hint: when you speak to someone and he takes off his earbuds, it’s an invitation to repeat, not to stare at him until he reads your mind.

It doesn’t feel right that I need to vacuum under my desk every single day.

Dark Void

Coming out of nowhere, and probably going back to its namesake void; Capcom has an unsurmountable problem with artistic direction, and unlike the Bionic Commando grapplehook I don’t think the jetpack gimmick will save this one. We’re not in the next-generation’s infancy, when Dead Rising or Lost Planet could become classics despite their limitations.

Commando 3

The Team Fortress 2 style works well in twin-stick shoot’em-ups, it seems. Would almost make me want to buy it, even though I’m utterly incompetent at those games.

Bionic Commando

Nothing much new to show (except that you seem to unexplicably abandon the rasta look for Halo-like armors in multiplayer), but I still want to play it a lot.

Ninja Gaiden 2 (360 demo)

The demo is available on Xbox Live (though not in America), and it confirms my previous opinion: very cool, fun game, with great combat — and the camera may even have improved since I played it.

Goosh

“The Unofficial Google [Command-Line] Shell.” Cool, and nicely done.

4 June

NeXTcube Burning.

As a former chemist, I was attracted to the NeXT’s magnesium case for a different reason: magnesium burns with a brilliant white flame.

Barbarians. Ah, but that’s not a stupid “Will it blend?” stunt, but a vintage 1993 magazine cover… stunt.

“Michael Birch’s first social networking sellout a blowout”

Michael Birch sold his self-admitted Friendster clone, Ringo, to online dating site Tickle for a pittance. He came to see that as a mistake, and went on to found Bebo, which he sold to AOL for a giggle-inducing $850 million.

Mmh. Mmh. Mmh. What? Oh, no, nothing, just mulling.

I should probably be saving up in case there’s an iPhone upgrade program and it’s limited in time.

Une solution pour défroisser ses T-shirts quand on n’a pas de fer à repasser ?

Why is my voice particularly whiny today?

5 June

“Mac OS X 10.6 code named Snow Leopard”

Here’s why I don’t believe it:

  • Snow Leopard is a stupid name, no matter how much sense it might make for the upgrade to be derivative of Leopard (as in, not much, actually)

  • I don’t see, at this point in the life of OS X (and the life of Windows Vista, as well), Apple releasing a full upgrade that doesn’t present “sellable” new features

  • Leopard doesn’t need all that much optimizing; OS X performance has already steadily improved release after release

  • If it’s just an optimization pass over Leopard, and it’s marketed as a subset/variation of Leopard, it would be insane, and insulting, to choose that release as being Intel-only

 

Yet here’s why I’m not so certain:

  • It’s very much like Apple to leak this a week early so that we can prepare ourselves and not be too surprised when it’s announced

A Scanner Darkly

There are still many things I don’t like about this movie, but it wasn’t so bad. Maybe releasing the entire first filmroll as a teaser to promote the film wasn’t such a good move.

6 June

Civilization Revolution (360 demo)

The developers know they’re fighting an uphill battle convincing gamers that a console-based Civilization can be worth anything, so they released what appeared to be a pretty big demo — at least so far as I can tell, having given up after about half an hour.

The thing is, that kind of games isn’t my cup of tea at all, and I grow bored pretty quickly; still, I’d say the gameplay and interface are pretty good. Like reviewers said, you’re not going to find the same depth as on a PC version, but someone who cares about that kind of stuff should very easily be able to spend long days in front of their TV. The question being, of course, why would they want to? Is there anyone really who’ll be interested in Civilization but won’t already own and play the PC version?

And why do they have to speak simlish?

Battlefield Bad Company (360 demo)

The demo confirms my lack of interest for the game; although the introductory cutscene is surprisingly okay, everything else (except the technical aspects, which seem fine) is annoying: the tutorial, the banter, and, most importantly, gamepad controls. Braking with the left bumper? Switching equipments to heal yourself? I’ll pass, thanks. (That’s slightly subjective, considering that those kinds of “realistic” shooters have never interested me at all. Call of Duty 4 is the only one that feels cinematographic enough to tempt me.)

@jkottke:

The <strike> tag, the blogger comedian’s crutch.

Ah ben c’est pratique, tiens, apparemment la signification de “cc” est passée de “coke” à “salut.”

7 June

@scottsimpson:

Hi, welcome to the internet, where no question is ever rhetorical.

There’s but one thing that makes life worth living: waiting to find out who is the last Final Five.

Battlestar Galactica 4.09

Well, well, there may be hope yet, if they’ve been saving their best writers for the more important episodes. Cheap trick, that vision thing, but it always works when it’s welle done — Espenson must have picked that up from Whedon.

But why oh why does the dialogue always have to be inaudible, goddamnit?

8 June

Good morning sunshine! Bah, who am I kidding. Grmblblbl.

Pour l’interdiction des sandwiches dans le train. Ah, et des enfants. Argh.

9 June

If you’re going to miss a keynote because you’re on the train, it might as well have been this one.

10 June

WWDC ’08

Just finished watching the video on iTunes and, yeah, I’m bored out of my skull — and thankfully I wasn’t locked up in a theater, and I wasn’t even following it live with anticipation, knowing full how uneventful it had been.

 

iPhone 2.0:

You’ve got to wonder what the hell they were thinking when they planned the SDK part of the keynote: the demonstration of Interface Builder makes sense since this is a developers conference, but six hours of mostly boring third-party app demos? Really?

About development: from the way Interface Builder works, it looks like it would be rather trivial for existing apps to run on slightly bigger screens. And notice how the very simple example they demonstrated was able to change orientation when you tilted the phone? Come on, don’t tell me Mobile Mail still won’t do it in July.

The Push Notification Service, letting apps push icon badges or sound effects to the user to notify them of new content, is a pretty clever way to go around the limitation of not having background applications, but it’s got a huge drawback: push only works if the server is willing to implement the functionality. Maybe AOL and Google will provide clients with push updates, but MSN isn’t, and you will never have an Adium-like multi-protocol client notifying you of new messages (unless the developers decide to provide intermediary servers of their own, and sell the iPhone client to pay for those). Same thing for Twitterific: unless Iconfactory dedicates a bunch of servers to storing your login credentials in the cloud and updating your timeline, only a first-party Twitter client will be able to push messages to your iPhone.

I wonder why Electronic Arts wasn’t there this time; the other games were okay, but kind of a letdown in my opinion — not as pretty as the best PSP games, and in some cases clearly demonstrating the limits of a button-less control scheme (forget about action games, and I say driving games will quickly get bothersome). Typepad is nice, because it’s simple; there’s no need whatsoever for an eBay app, and the Associated Press app was lame. Band looks very cool (I understand that it already exists for jailbroken phones but, hey, now you’ll get to pay for it), and what’s nice about the Loopt geolocation is what it prefigures of forthcoming Google and/or Facebook applications.

And, amidst the hundreds of demonstrated apps, no sign of an IM client (although they were mentioned in the Push Notification Service introduction), and no new apps at all from Apple, whether free or on the App Store — where’s my Remote Desktop client? As far as the core OS goes, the news was even more dire: no video recording or video chat, no MMS, no copy and paste (which I’m only listing because everybody else is, even though I understand Apple’s choice on that matter), but a scientific calculator (OMG) and contact search (OMG again). And it’s so frustrating to have confirmation that you’ll be able to draw Chinese characters with your finger, but not the regular alphabet. Come on now — just because the Newton did it doesn’t mean you should never do it again.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since the introduction of the iPhone OS, and Apple has almost been sitting on its hands all this time — they’ve been working a lot behind the scenes, obviously, to implement the SDK (and finalize what was essentially released as a beta OS), but there’s hardly been anything new on the interface front. Meanwhile, Google’s Android has gone from “better than Windows Mobile” to “arguably better than iPhone” in the last three months, and there’s no telling how good their final product will be. I’m not quite regretting I chose the iPhone yet, but I’m definitely having second thoughs about it today.

Well, I’m kind of having second thoughts about all of Apple now, but the difference is that, as listless as the Mac division might have gotten (and it all boils down to Apple spreading themselves too thin, doesn’t it?), there’s no viable competitor to Mac OS — but there might soon be one to the iPhone.

 

iPhone 3G:

Just like the 2.0 OS (and I’m separating iPhone 3G from the software side because the new OS will be available to everyone for free), a lot of stuff people were expecting still isn’t there. No front-facing camera for video calls, no 32GB model (yet)… isn’t it a pretty boring hardware update?

So it gets faster with 3G, of course; and it has GPS, which is appallingly underutilized by the Maps application (look at the Android demo from a week ago to see what can be done — Apple’s application doesn’t even tell you which direction you’re facing! Please don’t tell me there can be GPS in the iPhone but no compass?). Ah, and the headphone jack is flush with the phone’s body; was I really the only one who liked Apple’s original choice and how it put less strain on the jack when the phone was stuck in your pants’ front pocket?

It’s funny that, just a day before the keynote, I read a very interesting and credible explanation of why the iPhone needed to have a metal back even though it forced an ugly black plastic butt on the designers: because the metal plate was used as a heatsink. Guess the new chipset doesn’t get as hot anymore. Which would be consistent with the improved battery life.

So am I going to upgrade? Hard to tell, and it depends on the price, obviously — but seeing as how AT&T’s subscription will apparently be $10 more a month, with no revenue sharing with Apple, I’m thinking telcos will have every incentive to make their customers an offer they can’t refuse; chances are that would give them an opportunity to upgrade existing contracts to the new, more profitable clauses.

 

Mobile Me:

The “Exchange for the rest of us” tagline scares me. A lot. Have they actually licensed all of Exchange Server? Is that what it’s come to — in 2008, Apple moving all its software and server platforms to Microsoft Exchange?

The web apps do look pretty cool (although they’re not nearly as revolutionary as they like to think — and lack of IE 6 compatibility means you shouldn’t really cound on them to make yourself at home on any computer you sit at), but it all boils down to a very simple question: Do you trust Apple? I’ve never used .Mac personally, but it I kinda recall hearing that… it sucked and was completely unreliable. Now, who would really believe that, because they changed the platform’s name and they hired a couple good Javascript developers, they suddenly learnt how to operate a gigantic data cloud? Steve showed side-by-side comparisons of network performance on the iPhone and iPhone 3G; if he wants Mobile Me to take off, maybe he should show the same humility regarding .Mac and explain that they learnt from their mistakes and they invested in a dozen data centers across the globe. Which I don’t believe for a second that they did.

The only thing that could really give long-time users faith in Mobile Me would have been the long-rumored (or, more accurately, long-wishful-thought) partnership with Google. But, with the latest Android demos, I wondered if the relationship between Google and Apple would change, and I say that it has: there’s no new software joint venture on the iPhone; the addition of GPS to the hardware platform only warrants the most minor update to the Maps application; and Apple pretends to go after Google Mail and Calendar with Mobile Me.

By the way — that’s a stupid, ridiculous name.

 

OS X Snow Leopard:

Of all the week-old rumors that have come true yesterday (and this had to be the most thoroughly leaked Steve Jobs keynote ever), this is the one that still baffles me most. The name is stupid, the idea is stupid — people were already complaining that Leopard didn’t bring enough new features, and they’re going to come out with a new release that doesn’t bring any? Oh, yeah, there’s QuickTime X, that’s huge (and it’s so totally part of the OS, and won’t be available for Leopard — or Windows, for that matter). And Exchange. And whatever.

And the information page doesn’t list hardware requirements, even though the update is scheduled for next year so they’re probably pretty much set in stone by now, so you can assume that it actually does drop PowerPC compatibility. (Which might have been revealed, under NDA, to WWDC attendees.)

I would have hoped that they were planning to include multitouch functionality to the OS, and that would explain why they’re not talking about the new features yet, but if they did I don’t expect they would have chosen such a derivative code name.

 

Damn, this was such a depressing, hopeless keynote. Ah, screw this, I’m even too demotivated to write the French translation.

11 June

BMW GINA

The GINA replaces the traditional metal/plastic skin with a textile fabric skin that’s pulled taut around a frame of metal and carbon fiber wires. Even the shape of the car can change.

Uh.

iPhone SDK agreement specifically forbids real-time route guidance

And I thought the iPhone 2.0’s Maps application was bad:

Applications may not be designed or marketed for real time route guidance

This is the paragraph of the SDK license agreement that takes care of everything Apple doesn’t want to be held liable for — if an iPhone crashes while displaying CPR instructions or running a Boeing’s auto-pilot system, for instance — and I understand the motivations but, geez, talk about shooting yourself in the foot. No GPS navigation, ever? I’m not going to spend the whole summer repeating how Google’s street view and navigation system is Android’s killer app, but come on now. We’re gonna reach a point when the only thing the iPhone has for itself is iTunes integration.

12 June

Sketchbox

I’m always on the lookout for the right way to store notes — free-formed and structured enough at the same time. Right now I’m making text clippings on my iMac’s desktop, and it’s a bit messy and doesn’t quite scale (while long-term notes end up in Yojimbo where I never look at them again).

Sketchbox is an interesting take on the classical virtual Post-It paradigm: the sticky notes live inside an iPhoto-like window, and zoom in, QuickLook-style, when you double-click them. Plus you can overlay text and drawings on each sticky (with support for tablet pressure sensitivity).

Problem is, the concept is interesting but the development doesn’t really seem to follow. It’s all a little bit off and laggy and lacking a bit of polish. Not ready for public consumption at all, as far as I’m concerned.

37 Kick Ass Rig Car Photography Shots

Huh. According to this, all the modern pretty car pictures are shot while driving at a slow speed with even slower camera settings (that one makes sense) and, more surprisingly, by attaching the camera to the car with a magnetized rig that is then photoshopped out from the picture.

It sounds insane, but I’d always wondered how they got the car perfectly focused while the wheels and landscape were elegantly motion-blurred, and that’s probably the only way it makes sense.

Dark Sector (360 demo)

I had the lowest expectations you can imagine, and that worked out well: as derivative as it is, the gameplay is rather competent and I wouldn’t mind, in theory, spending a few hours on this game (not that I would want to pay for it).

The uninspired design does have consequences on gameplay, though — I spent half an hour trying to work out the demo’s final boss by myself but ended up having to open a walkthrough, and found out that it was the simplest process, which I had missed because it doesn’t make that much sense, there are too many red herrings and, most annoyingly, the quicktime events only trigger when you approach the boss from the front — ah, and you have no indication whether you’re actually hurting it, either. In short, it was a well-made, intense boss battle once you were sure what you were supposed to do, but getting there was quite annoying.

 

Kung-Fu Panda (360 demo)

As far as action games based on animated kids movies go, I guess you could do much worse. The graphics are fine, and the gameplay isn’t too bad either.

Enemy Territory Quake Wars (360 demo)

Well, since I’m rating the week’s demos, I shouldn’t really leave that one out — but all I’ve got to say is that it’s not my kind of game at all. I like my first-person shooters to be more brain-dead linear (and, if possible, I like them to be third-person, too) and I particularly hate any game that’s geared toward cooperative online play, because I don’t want to cooperate with the bunch of morons out there. So this one leaves me cold; looks like it plays fine, and the graphics are alright, and that’s it.

13 June

Why the hell do I suddenly like British accents?

14 June

Motorola - Public Safety Solutions

Wow — fantastically sleek Flash design. And it doesn’t even lag much on my iMac G5.

Battlestar Galactica 4.10

It’s a little painful, after an Espenson episode, to return to more mediocre writing and directing; Lee got pompous again (there’s nothing left to do with him than kill him, really), and I felt the big scenes were rather uninspired and slightly off — as if they were obligatory, intimidating plot points that the writers had dreaded to tackle instead of being excited about what they could do with them.

As often with the story arc driving the show, the episode gets a bonus star for the finale — even though I’m worried about what they intend to do with the whole next season. (I know it’s not going to be called season five, but a one-year hiatus is what defines the separation from one season to the next in my book.)

15 June

Xbox 360 Avatars Leaked?

If this is the real thing, it’s not very inspiring. Nice how customizable the costumes are, though.

16 June

Telling Folders

I’ve been waiting for this ever since the release of Leopard, with its new 512-pixel recycled folders: Telling Folders lets you customize folders by integrating any kind of images or icons on top of them (and it looks nice more easily than with previous versions of OS X, because the folders face the screen now).

Functionality is limited (you can’t move or resize the overlaid image — and it’s a bit small — and so far they’re missing the opportunity to also allow colorizing the folder icons) but the resulting icons look nice, and the application is free.

C’est marrant, je viens de réaliser que, quand je souhaite à quelqu’un un joyeux anniversaire, je ne réalise jamais que ça veut dire qu’il a un an de plus — seulement que c’est sa fête, son jour. Il n’y a qu’à mon anniversaire que quelqu’un se prend une année dans la gueule ; tous les autres gens ne vieillissent pas. (Les salauds.)

“Renault’s Revival of the Alpine Sports Car”

Renault declared late last year that they are planning the new Alpine sports car as a part of their goal of introducing 26 new prototypes to their lineup. The industry may take benefit of their association with the Nissan by placing the car on the smaller edition of the platform supporting a 350Z.

I’m confused about what the phrase “26 new prototypes” entails (are they talking about showroom-only prototypes? because I can’t see Renault launching twenty-six new models) but I’ve always missed the Alpine name. And a 350Z basis would be good news, too, clearly.

Let’s just hope it wouldn’t be as bad as the CG render in the article. Considering the current tendencies of Renault design, I’m not too hopeful.

Resistance 2

So, gameplay videos are here, and… well, they don’t look nearly as cool as the screenshots did, do they? The first video, with the Grims, is pretty cool and intense (as unoriginal as it is to cram zombies into every single first-person shooter ever made), but the environments still look dull and the gameplay seems off — which doesn’t make that much sense, even if this is a “work in progress,” considering that it’s a sequel.

17 June

Yay, j’ai travaillé ! (Un peu.)

Flat Black Nissan GT-R

That does look like a sexy coat of paint.

Goddamnit

That’ll teach me to recommend Time Machine, and occasionally Time Capsule, to everyone around me. It’s entirely possible that my external hard drive is faulty (even though Disk Utility doesn’t see anything wrong with it), but whatever the technical reason, and no matter how valid it may or may not be, the one thing that’s inexcusable is that error message (that I’ve gotten four times in a week): it doesn’t inform me in the least about how the state my backup is in. Is my whole Time Machine screwed up? (Apparently not.) Are the files I modified in the last hour lost for the cause? Or will OS X try to copy them again next time?

Chances are the last possibility is the right one (well… let’s say I hope it is, but I know Apple, and I heard about the silently failing incremental backups from the Backup app), but my data’s integrity absolutely not a place where I should be left guessing.

OS X will forever remain that operating system which had an upgrade release that wiped out all connected external hard drives.

Life on Mars 2.08

Jesus-Christ — I can’t think of many shows that had more depressing, desperate finales.

Life on Mars was a slow burn; I could see from the very first episode that it was an interesting, well-written show, but it’s also very clearly using the underlying (and underplayed) mystery as just an excuse to make a show about 1970s Manchester cops from a modern-day perspective. And, while that’s very interesting per se, it’s just not something I’m very passionate about (and I do wonder how differently I would have reacted to the show if it had been taking place in France — but then, there’s no way French television would be able to produce something so good in my lifetime).

The second season, however, managed to play with the character development in unexpected ways (or, rather, predictable but unexpectedly successful and well done) and embraced a bit more the Abre los ojos-iness of the whole story, culminating in a gripping finale that justifies the existence of the show, and of British television.

Unless I’m just projecting a lot. Who the hell thought it would be a good idea for me to watch that?

Spore Creature Creator

The long-awaited demo, designed for you to waste all your time building creatures that you won’t be able to use for months, is finally available and… that’s all I have to say about it, because the Mac version isn’t compatible with my iMac (it’s Intel-only) or my Mac mini (the video card isn’t good enough). Damn.

Firefox 3 is out

…so much for that world record.

Niko Bellic “Untooned”

I’m not sure about the eyes.

Barbie “The Birds”

It… doesn’t look like it’s a joke, or I missed something.

18 June

@textism:

Just once it’d be cool if the woman said ‘come on your own face, asshole!’.

Fringe 1.01

As far as I’m concerned, they could have had T-rexes driving Lamborghinis and I still wouldn’t be impressed: I know better by now than to think anything J.J. Abrams touches can actually turn out to be good, let alone an X-Files clone (not that Abrams didn’t find the perfect fit for his talents, mind you). So here it goes: it’s watchable (except when it’s so gross I’m glad I watched it from two meters away on my exercise bike), not very interesting, and it’s gonna get more and more stupid each week. I like the actress, though. And whatshiname is tolerable.

Wonder how long they’ll stick with the cute, fancy location titles.

“Stewart Butterfield’s bizarre resignation letter to Yahoo”

Can this have legal value? (Well, it’s an email, so I guess it’s just announcing a more straightforward physical letter.)

iPhone Developers Roundtable

The Macworld podcast has a mostly pointless, rambling interview with three prominent Mac/iPhone developers, from which I did pick up one thing I didn’t know, even though it had been rumored earlier (don’t know whether I missed the announcement or it hasn’t been widely publicized): it seems like the iPhone 2.0 has Bonjour, and any third-party app (such as OmniFocus in this case) can synchronize data with your Mac over your wifi network (if you don’t have wifi, that’s a good reason to get a Time Capsule).

The Apple Design Awards page only mentions that OmniFocus can “sync with your desktop via .Mac or WebDav,” so I’m not sure whether the Omni developer leaked a secret functionality he wasn’t supposed to mention yet, or the application under-utilizes Bonjour in such a way that it isn’t worth a mention — according to his description, you only use Bonjour to connect to your desktop OmniFocus and find out the settings for synchronization over the internet, not retrieve the data itself.

I understand that Bonjour sync would be limited in that you have to open each application you want to sync, one after another, whenever you’re on your home network (since they can’t run in the background and update their data silently), but it’s still quite a worthy alternative to paying for Mobile Me or setting up a WebDav server yourself.

And, if the technology is in the phone, iTunes better end up using it.

19 June

“Powerset Unveils iPhone-Optimized Wikipedia Search”

I like iPodia better: nice iPhone interface that displays the Wikipedia page pretty much like a computer does, minus the crashing on Mobile Safari. (Whereas Wikipedia’s wap version doesn’t crash but splits the contents into far too many pages.)

Weeds 4.01

Good episode, great intro credits, and I like the change of location, but I still don’t think there’s much more story to tell, and don’t see where they intend to go with that season.

True Blood 1.01

Eh… how is that Alan Ball’s new show? The Six Feet Under premiere had a hook to it; this was boring, and shot like a damn soap opera, to the point that I don’t see how the definitive edit could save it. It’s a vampire story written by Alan Ball, for crying out loud; how can it manage not be cool? If it weren’t for Anna Paquin (who looks nice as a blonde), I’d believe this was a students’ prank.

By the way, it’s not the first time I see a vampire story with the human noticing that the vamp has creepy cold hands. I’ve never touched a corpse, but don’t many people have their extremities roughly at room temperature? Would the difference be that shocking?

Ah, mais si je ne peux pas compter sur le courrier, c’est un Kindle qu’il me faut.

Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs

They really need to stop.

20 June

Help Products

Pretty cute design from someone who’s clearly never heard about usability: when you’ve cut yourself, you don’t want to be searching through your stacks of identical white packages to find the one stamped “I’ve cut myself” in tiny grey type.

Shoot’Em Up

Kinda enjoyed the first half, but it does go a little too far in the end; as much as I like a stupid action flick that’s written by someone not too stupid, and doesn’t take itself seriously, there are limits to how far you can go with your choreographed fights (and head-on car collisions). Still, it’s well shot, and it’s got Clive Owen.

21 June

Bien sûr la seule fois où j’interromps un couple en train de baiser dans ma cage d’escalier, ce sont des hétéros.

Ammonite Washbasin

Must be some bitch to clean.

Après tout, bronzé aujourd’hui et ridé dans cinq ans, ça ne serait pas forcément une si mauvaise affaire.

Ok, on oublie, je ne sortirai plus jamais en plein soleil, ça chauffe trop.

Hétéro pride dans le Marais, et où est la musique ?

22 June

Plankton Invasion

It’s kinda scary to think we’ve reached a point when a single individual (apparently) can produce animation that good.

23 June

Creative Calendar Designs

I can’t quite decide which I like best.

Photoshopping a Google Reader-inspired redesign for garoo.net that I’ll never get around to coding.

Alanis Morissette, Flavors of Entanglement: intensly boring, or… well, boring?

Man’s Wii Fit experiment comes to an end, 15 pounds shed

Why the hell did I buy a fucking elliptical bike?

Drag text to Safari’s dock icon for quick Google search

Not that I’m going to use it personally, but it’s pretty cool when you know you can basically drag text away from any OS X application.

24 June

< You didn’t edit a post twice to change Hmm to Mhh and back. Yes, I did. >

“Blogger avec plaisir”

Parce qu’il y a encore des vieux de la vieille qui se souviennent de quand les blogs n’avaient pas encore été envahis par le marketing sous toutes ses formes. Et qu’ils ne sont pas tous taris comme moi. “Plaisir.” Hmm.

Call of Duty 5

I’ve read that World at War used the same engine as Call of Duty 4, but it’s hard to believe: the fourth game’s videos were always sexy and impressive, whereas this one is a great step back.

It’s making it harder to believe that Call of Duty 3, by the same developer, was a semi-failure only because they didn’t have time to polish it; with one more year, and a proven engine, they’re not doing something too exciting either, it seems.

Even though it’s obviously too early to have a definitive opinion, this video does confirm my instincts: this idea of alternating a same franchise between two separate development studios, so that you get a game each year, is completely stupid.

Dead Space

First video in a series of trailers with a voiceover explaining the gameplay, as is customary these days, “Strategic Dismemberment” confirms two things: Dead Space is very promising, and there’s absolutely no way I’m ever gonna play this alone, and/or less than six hours before bedtime.

I wonder whether the creatures’ movements and reactions when they’re dismembered are procedural, or entirely defined by animators; if it’s the latter, the illusion looks perfect. Brr.

Est-ce que je veux me lever à 9h demain pour acheter des chaussures ?

25 June

Quelqu’un se souvient du site de portfolios de graphistes qui était à la mode il y a un an ou deux ? (Pas deviantart.)

I should be arrested, tortured, brainwashed and drafted for being so utterly incapable of realizing any of my potential on my own.

Ah, ça y est — carbonmade.com (voilà pourquoi je bloquais sur carbonated.com pendant des heures)

En fait, même en y allant le premier jour, c’est frustrant, les soldes des magasins de chaussures.

Okay, official disclaimer: Google Mail / Google Apps POP keeps crapping out on me these days, so I may receive your email a few hours late.

iPhone OS 2.0 to offer secure data wipe

It’s all in the “This will take about an hour” (they didn’t have room to add “and eat one month out of the flash memory’s lifetime”). One good reason to upgrade your first-gen iPhone’s software before you resell or return it.

26 June

Ferrari California

Okay, with a hard-top (and an okay design), the California could be the first Ferrari to spark my interest in years. (What do you know, I even like this year’s Mercedes designs better than BMW’s.)

But the hard-top’s mechanism is puzzlingly tortuous, isn’t it? I’m not confident about the window climbing over the top — or maybe I’m just shocked, for the principle of economy of movement, that a piece would travel all the way up before it goes down into the trunk.

Orange dévoile les offres de l’iPhone 3G

A 150 et 200 € pour 8 et 16 Go respectivement, ils ne font pas trop d’efforts — mais, contrairement à AT&T, les prix des forfaits n’augmentent pas, apparemment (quoiqu’au cours actuel du dollar ça doit revenir au même).

Un plan pas très ambitieux, donc, mais qui s’accompagne d’une offre spéciale pour les early adopters que je ne comprends pas bien : cent euros de ristourne sur l’achat d’un iPhone 3G, et pas d’offre de reprise. Aucun doute que le marché de l’iPhone d’occasion va s’effondrer en juillet, mais pas au point qu’on ne fasse pas des bénéfices en revendant l’ancien pour s’acheter le 3G ; ce qui m’échappe, du coup, c’est qu’Orange laisse ses abonnés faire ce bénéfice alors que tout le monde était prêt à accepter une offre de reprise à cinquante euros, où c’était le client qui payait et Orange qui gagnait de l’argent.

Pourquoi passer chez Orange, si vous n’y êtes pas encore, alors que vous pourrez acheter dans quelques mois un iPhone première génération, état neuf (les propriétaires d’iPhone en prennent soin), désimlocké légalement (puisqu’Orange est obligé de débloquer les téléphones six mois après le début du contrat), pour quelque chose comme 300 € ?

@textism:

All caps + bold + underline? This notice of impending ruin from my bank is a typographic disgrace. In the bin.

“When Spore Wiimote Monsters Attack”

Okay, I suppose it’s kinda cool, but this screenshot also helped me define my problem with Spore: I know it’s not supposed to be the highly immersive kind of a game, but still it’s not Tetris; and how involved will you be in your gameplay when your creature’s planet starts getting populated with jumping wiimotes and xbox controllers and dildos, either created by you or automatically downloaded from the internet?

Most of the fun in The Sims, or Sim City or whatever, comes from the fact that it’s a depiction of a realistic universe (where you can trap a human in a windowless box until it craps itself then dies of starvation); in Spore there’s never going to be the same quality — the same ability to relate at all with the organisms displayed on screen.

HiddenPassageways.com

A company designing and selling secret passages. Want want want.

CCTV Cameras

Pervasive security cameras don’t substantially reduce crime. […] Conventional wisdom predicts the opposite. But if that were true, then camera-happy London, with something like 500,000, would be the safest city on the planet. It isn’t, of course, because of technological limitations of cameras, organisational limitations of police and the adaptive abilities of criminals.

Image Fulgurator

The Fulgurator is essentially a slave flash (it uses a photosensitive cell to trigger the flash when another camera’s flash is activated; it’s very simple, feels a little magical and I’ve got several I use in studio shoots) that projects an image onto any surface you want when someone else takes a picture — basically hijacking their photograph and inserting any invisible message or pictogram into the image. Which works particularly well to trick tourists, as they tend to use their flash for everything when they shouldn’t.

The video is too long, but you’ve got to watch it until the end; it is fucking awesome.

 

P.S. The Brains Behind the Image Fulgurator.

Blizzard Authenticator

Blizzard takes a page from the book of Paypal — that other site where dummies get their possessions stolen because they have an easy password — and launches its own magical keyring to give out digital codes (press a button, a six-digit code is displayed and you need to type it in addition to your login and password when you want to play). I didn’t like the idea when Paypal launched it, and I still think it’s an admission of failure. The problem is, that’s not really a failure you can do anything about, and you’ll never quite manage to educate users about not setting an easy password, and not giving it to anyone (and not running trojans on Windows, either).

Now, the choice is yours: do you want to pay six euros for your magical keyring, and have to type a stupid code every time you’re going to play, in exchange for the knowledge that, as long as the Authenticator is optional (and it can’t really become compulsory anytime in the foreseeable future), 99.9% of the hackers will prefer to attack non-authenticatored subscribers rather than try and break the code? (That’s how security works, and, yes, it’s sad.)

27 June

Transfer Xbox Live licenses from a console to another

Amazing miracle: it’s only taken them three years, but Microsoft finally has a solution to its DRM problem that happened when you changed your console or hard drive (and, in particular, when support changed it for you after a red ring of death) and caused the Xbox Live games you’d bought before not to work on the new console unless you were logged in on Live under the very account who bought each game (in case you’ve only got one account on your console like I do, you may not know that under normal conditions any user of the console can play downloaded games and movies, and that it’s also supposed to work without an internet connection).

Three years, then, to add an option on xbox.com that lets you gather all your licenses (movies, games, etc., except for movie rentals) and download them to your new console; the miraculous part, though, is that, according to the FAQ, technical support is supposed to automatically perform that operation when they send you a new console (without affecting your once-a-year limit that only applies to voluntary uses when you buy a new console — I’d have gone with six months, but one year isn’t unreasonable). And, on that point, I’m waiting to see how it goes, because I’d be surprised if the process wasn’t completely buggy for the first six months.

So I bought new shoes to replace my squeaky sneakers… and they’re even more squeaky. I suck so much at buying clothes and stuff.

If spiders are universally considered an omen of success, does that make arachnophobia a sign of terminal loserdom?

Lego Indiana Jones (360 demo)

Okay, it’s highly subjective and I can’t find specific facts to justify my impression, but the demo just confirmed that, for me, Indiana Jones is much less fun, interesting, and funny, than the Lego Star Wars games. The developers have lost something (or been rushed).

NrMe (Near Me)

Here’s an interesting take on the confluence of geolocation and Twitter (how much more fashionable can you get?): the messages you post on the service are received by everyone in a 500-yard radius around you. You don’t follow people or anything, you just see what people around you have to say or ask — which, now that I think about it, kinda boils down to a chat window in an MMO.

I think the stupid name and the iPhone-centricness (there are other geolocating phones, you know) of nrme aren’t going to help much, but I can’t wait for other people to steal that idea and improve on it. If you can mark the local gold farmers as spam.

If I spend the next 10 hours on my elliptical bike will I be fit to wear a sleeveless tee at the gay pride tomorrow?

28 June

Jumpgate Evolution begins beta signup

This post’s first paragraph suddenly made me realize why space combat is the ideal MMO settings (maybe it was already obvious to everyone, and maybe Eve Online masterfully leverages this, but I don’t care what everyone thinks, and Eve Online’s most major success is that it isn’t operated by a huge publisher that would close the servers down because it doesn’t have millions of subscribers).

The nice thing about space — everywhere except the Battlestar Galactica universe — is that you expect ships to have heat- or laser- or whatever-guided weapons that only require you to point to a target and click “fire,” and you also expect your targets to have shields that will deflect your blows more or less effectively. That is, space combat is the one place where life and death are solely governed by stats, just like any RPG fighting system. Unlike the worlds of orcs or barbarians.

 

I could insert here a rant about how I don’t believe that shields “deflate” like they do in Star Trek, with percentages of efficiency being chipped away one after another with each blow — in my opinion, a shield is powerful enough to protect the ship, or it isn’t; but if the first missile doesn’t traverse it, sending a million more identical to the first one shouldn’t change a thing — but the point here is not theoretical exactitude but common expectations. I’m annoyed when a sci-fi show has a computer voice counting down damage to the shields, but I wouldn’t really mind it in a game; it’s much better, at any rate, than seeing arbitrary numbers float on top of the boar you’re bashing in a traditional RPG.

Billy should have been in Roslin’s halluciflashes

Makes more sense. The moron must be so frustrated because he left the show just before his character was going to be interesting that he sends Moore’s calls to voicemail. (The link contains more explicit BSG season 4 spoilers.)

Diablo III

Is anyone else worried about Blizzard? They’ve been working on Diablo III for four years, and it’s still “far too early in development” to have a release date; it’s just about the same with Starcraft II. In both cases, gameplay refinements and minor graphics upgrades to franchises that haven’t been touched for more than half a dozen years. No reinvention, no innovation, just touch-ups.

When Valve spends years polishing their games, what they release tends to push the boundaries of the medium; what the hell is Blizzard pushing when they update game genres that everybody else deserted because there are more interesting things to do with a computer? I’m not saying those games aren’t going to be successful, just wondering where the hell they’re not going with this.

Hey, that reminds me of all the Indiana Jones 4 reviews: too much time has passed since the last installment for the audience to care about a sequel that follows the previous episode’s formula to the letter.

 

29 June

Now that the gay pride is over, I can sell my elliptical bike to buy buckets of Haagen-Dazs.

30 June

Le générique de Zorro dans la tête toute la journée à cause d’un titre de post à la con dans NetNewsWire.

I didn’t notice Twitter outages so much when I didn’t get a daily “today’s downtime” tweet from the blue bird.

Xo

Clever, and pretty.

Rock Band 2 in September

My first reaction, when I saw the news outline, was to think that Harmonix was going to follow the Guitar Hero footsteps and disappoint all their fans by milking them for all they’ve got. Yet, when you read on, you realize that they’re actually going to fulfill their promise of a more respectful business model — and it’s actually more of a 1.5 version than a real Rock Band 2 (which is a good thing).

On the software side, version 2 fixes the game’s flaws, of course, but it remains 100% compatible with downloadable tracks, and that works both ways — songs you bought for version 1 will work in Rock Band 2, and tracks released for version 2 will also work for players who didn’t upgrade the game (can Activision imagine that?). And, as for hardware, the instruments are supposed to be more realistic, reliable and silent, but you’ll be able to buy version 2 while keeping those you already own; the only thing missing now is an offer to take your old instruments back for a rebate (because I don’t expect they’ll get great value on the second-hand marketplace, if the new ones are so much better).

It’s really hard to believe there’s an Electronic Arts logo on this package.

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