Category Archives: Tech

Schrödinger’s Shift Key [link]

Allen Pike:

In iOS 7.1, Apple changed the design of the shift key. This was the worst thing to happen in the history of software.

When the shift key is on, it blends in with the letter keys. When it’s off, it blends in with the function keys. Neither state sticks out enough to read as active, especially in a split second.

This would only be moderately annoying, except that iOS suddenly engages the shift key in certain circumstances. It’s usually convenient, but if you need to type apike is my username, I am from B.C. and live in Vancouver it’s crazy-making and requires good feedback about what’s happening.

It is astonishing that Apple shipped this in the first place. Absolutely boggles the mind that, a year later, they haven’t fixed it. And, for what it’s worth, the obvious solution – display the keys in upper caps when the Shift key is active, in lower caps when it’s not – is also the best solution.

Robin Sloane – In praise of the terrible live stream

Robin Sloane:

The terrible live stream is precious because, of all the formats available to us now, it selects least. It resists the narrative compression of “news.” It shows a scene that, for all its intensity, is mostly slow-moving and confusing. It forces us to sit through the in-between minutes that an editor would cut. The live stream, uniquely among formats, is free to be muddled and boring, with no clear storyline and no assurance that This Is All Going Somewhere.

The Winter of Weird Al [link]

Steven Hyden, for Grantland:

In the past, Weird Al’s timing was perhaps his greatest asset. Right when the culture seemed to be tiring of a particular song or artist, the Weird Al parody would appear. It was the sign of an artist reaching “we love you, but we also can’t stand you” stardom. But that timing now seems rather, well, sluggish, and this has caused Weird Al to drift back into a crowded field. Now that the release of Mandatory Fun completes Yankovic’s record contract, it seems wise to explore more expedient alternatives.

When I asked Yankovic if it still made sense for him to make albums in the future, he was eager to steer the conversation back to the record he had already made and was trying to promote. But in spite of the hemming and hawing, he was pretty clear about what’s next.

“I don’t want to draw any hard lines in the sand, because I’d like to leave all my options open, but I’m feeling like this is probably my last conventional album,” he said.

I think it was Richard Nixon who said “if you’ve lost Weird Al, you’ve lost the traditional music sales model.”

A Quest for the Secret Origins of Lost Video-Game Levels [link]

Heidi Kemps of the Atlantic with a nice remembrance of a) the pre-internet world of video game rumors; b) how some mysterious prototype Sonic the Hedgehog levels surfaced in the late ’90s; and c) what it’s like for an adult to talk to one of her childhood heroes.

Razr Burn: My Month With 2004’s Most Exciting Phone [link]

Gizmodo’s Ashley Feinberg’s experiment with a 10-year-old must-have cell phone:

In July of 2004, Motorola debuted the Razr V3, one of the most iconic cellphones of all time. Exactly 10 years later, I shed my iPhone for a month to experience the world where apps don’t exist and T9 reigns king. Maybe I did it for the nostalgia. Maybe I did it because I hate myself just a little bit. Either way, one thing is certain: Using 2004’s hottest phone in 2014 is hell.

iPhone or Android: it’s time to choose your religion [link]

The Verge lays out something that grows more frustrating every day -giant corporations forcing their customers into a very stark choice. These devices come with incredible user-friendly benefits, but consumers can’t take advantage of those benefits without going all-in on one ecosystem. It’s getting ugly and, even as these operating systems grow more impressive, it’s only getting uglier.

Marc Andreessen and the Inevitability of Catastrophic Ideas [link]

Great post by Maria Bustillos examining the general proposition that a rising tech tide raises all boats (hint: nope). Goes well with this piece in the New York Times asking why we’re all so eager to buy stuff that just makes us want to buy more stuff.