Rocket Bomber

Links and Thoughts 32: 16 July 2014

filed under , 16 July 2014, 10:43 by

Tower Of Power – Squib Cakes

Good Morning.

Over time I seem to be drifting from the original outline for these posts, but that’s a good thing. A natural organic process, or something like that. I still find that the primary distraction from writing is Twitter, and even a simple, pared-down blog post like this one suffers — not just from the sunk time, but also from the siphoning of genuinely good links. Twitter makes it so easy to share and the feedback is immediate; if I’m not careful, I can dump all my best material there and feel good about it.

Let’s see what I’ve collected since last we blogged:

Aspect Ratios. Yes, Aspect Ratios:

Data Journalism:

Cities and Citizens:

Science:
Why Isn’t Smog-Gobbling Concrete More Popular? : Motherboard



Links and Thoughts 31: 10 July 2014

filed under , 10 July 2014, 11:35 by

A ‘very special’ edition today: Podcast links!

First, a few caveats:

  • I pulled the list out of the OPML export file from my rss feed reader, so any errors/non-working links I blame on Feedly.
  • Second: yes, some of these are YouTube channels. And yes, I know videos aren’t [finger-airquote]“podcasts”[/finger-airquote] but if you don’t recognize YouTube as a podcast platform, you’re missing out. If nothing else your takeaway should be: youtube channels (and individual youtuber’s accounts) have rss feeds and you can subscribe to them outside of Google’s youtube-homepage-framework for use in your reader of choice.
  • I do like bullet-pointed lists. :D
  • There us no four.
  • This list is a work in progress – what I was able to pull together in a single morning. If you have suggestions and recommendations, drop ‘em in the comments or catch me up on twitter.
  • And Lastly: One other reason you might get an error (or not be able to find something on iTunes) (I’m not an Apple/iTunes convert) is in at least one case [Bob Edwards] the audio is available as an embed on the blog but there is no individual audio download or rss available.

General Geek:

Music:

Business:

Science:

Movies, TV, Pop Culture:

Books:

Food:

Misc.:



Links and Thoughts 30: 7 July 2014

filed under , 7 July 2014, 14:40 by

Just a links round-up for today; I need to post these before they get stale.

Best long read for today:
“To put this in perspective: it was 300 years from Gutenberg’s printing press to the scientific and intellectual re-alignments of the Enlightenment, and to the French and American revolutions that that liberating technology ultimately made possible. These things can take a loooong time to work all the way out.”
Hobby Lobby and the wrong end of history -
Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control and Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About It 100 Years From Now : Alternet

Cities and Citizens:

Science:
Scientists discover one of the most Earth-like planets yet : The Verge

With Kepler and other astronomy efforts finding exoplanets all over the place (seemingly so many that only the other ‘earths’ out there manage to make the news these days) it’s an excellent time to revist Chris Wayan’s planetology thought-experiments.

Technology and its Discontents:

Books:
“Amazon offers a superb shopping experience, if you already know what you are looking for (awareness) and want to buy it (desire/action). Through low prices, ease of use, trust and reliability Amazon has built a platform that is not a discovery portal, but a destination where you mostly buy content discovered elsewhere (the much loathed show-rooming effect).
“Amazon does make recommendations but these are optimized to up-sell or cross-sell (increase your basket value) or are based on re-targeting (reminding you of products you previously clicked on). Up-selling for Amazon means guiding a user to higher margin products, which are typically not books. It is also worth bearing in mind that Amazon’s recommendation engines are optimized to be extremely fast. This comes at the cost of recommendation quality. Any delay would lead to consumers abandoning their shopping basket and hence reduced revenue instead of increased revenue.
“In a nutshell, improved availability alone does not lead to improved discoverability. The critical component to better online discovery experiences are great user interfaces and recommendation algorithms and we have yet to see the power of personalisation, the Internet’s biggest strength, being fully deployed.”
Discovery, User Experience and the Long Tail : Digital Book World

I’m on record as stating that “The Long Tail” is a change in customer *demand*, not something related to online retail — information about books drives the demand, and while Amazon is a large source of that information, it’s not the only one anymore. In fact, if Amazon somehow just went away, it wouldn’t matter. The internet is a self-driving information mill and we can’t re-pack that firecracker, it’s already gone off. In the realms of music and books, it’s a given that everything is available — no matter how old, weird, niche, ‘unmarketable’, devoid of taste, or just plain wrong.

The trick for some customers is finding it. I’ve never had trouble, myself, and I can get pretty far with just the Google search box for company. What do others do? When customers can’t find a book on Amazon, they call a bookstore, hassle some poor clerk for 45 minutes, ‘discover’ (second-hand, over the phone) the exact book that fits their criteria, and then buy it on Amazon. I invite you to work at a bookstore for a week if you doubt me on that.

That Facebook Thing:
“According to new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Facebook altered the News Feeds for hundreds of thousands of users as part of a psychology experiment devised by the company’s on-staff data scientist. By scientifically altering News Feeds, the experiment sought to learn about the way positive and negative effect travels through social networks, ultimately concluding that ‘in-person interaction and nonverbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion.’”
Facebook altered 689,000 users’ News Feeds for a psychology experiment : The Verge
Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment : AV Club
“Facebook made you sad for science” Facebook Just Admitted It Tinkered With People’s News Feeds to Manipulate Their Emotions : Mother Jones

It was just the one time though, right? Oh…
Facebook conducted hundreds of psychological experiments with few boundaries : The Verge
The US military is already using Facebook to track your mood : Quartz




Professor Henry Rollins

* Blanket NSFW Language Warning For All Clips.

I’d love sit down and take Professor Henry Rollins’s music appreciation course — or anything else he feels like talking about, really. I doubt he’d slow down long enough to teach for 13 weeks, but we might be able to approximate what such a course might sound like.

It took surprisingly little time to find a whole bunch of Rollins clips on YouTube (even sifting for talking clips, not music) but it did take a bit of effort to pare that list down.

Obviously this follows on the last couple of music posts I’ve done (on Punk and Metal) – what impressed me is how often music documentary directors would seek Henry out, and how often what Henry had to say was right on point.

If you don’t have 10 hours to spend listening to Professor Rollins, I’d recommend just the conversations with Amanda Palmer and Pharrell Williams (2 parts) – but bookmark the rest of these for later.

If like me, you enjoy slinging YouTube to your living room TV to play in the background, you may find the “Professor Henry Rollins” YouTube playlist convenient – click, bookmark, or cut&paste:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLT6vaQUDmjII_TwLva6qw9Q9YZsJ9DYVf

##

Henry Rollins: 50 (1hr15min)

Henry Rollins – Live and Ripped in London (50min)

Henry Rollins Uncut from Israel, 2007 (1hr16min)

Henry Rollins & Amanda Palmer, In Conversation at UCLA (1hr34min)

Henry Rollins, author of “Occupants” (Chicago Review Press), discusses the book with Thurston Moore at McNally Jackson NYC on 14 Oct 2011. (50min)

Dinner For Five S04E04 – Henry Rollins, Michael Chiklis, Michael De Luca, Luis Guzman (28min)

Henry Rollins Interview + Spoken Word, Toronto, 1989 (24min)

Henry Rollins at UC Santa Cruz, 1990 (1hr29min)

Commencement: CSU Sonoma, May 23, 2009 (1hr54min; Prof. Rollins gets introduced at 21:30, Henry starts speaking at 22:50)

“Hard Art DC 1979”, Lucian Perkins, Alec MacKaye and Henry Rollins – Politics & Prose Bookstore, 19 May 2013. (29min)

Henry Rollins X Pharrell Williams – Back & Forth (24min x 2)



No, not the film, though that animated gem is notable in its own right.

filed under , 29 June 2014, 09:00 by

HEAVY METAL

Let’s lead with the documentary, and then come back around to the discussion: VH1’s “Heavy – The Story Of Metal” is a four-part documentary from 2006. 42mins per episode, 2hrs 48min total runtime.

Heavy – The Story Of Metal – Episode I : Welcome To My Nightmare

Heavy – The Story Of Metal – Episode II : British Steel

[I feel compelled to add one comment at this point: 80s hair bands can go die in a fire.]

Heavy – The Story Of Metal -Episode III : Looks That Kill

Heavy – The Story Of Metal Episode IV : Seek & Destroy

##

[wikipedia]

Heavy metal (or simply metal) is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues rock and psychedelic rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are often associated with masculinity, aggression and machismo.

The first heavy metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath attracted large audiences, though they were often derided by critics, a status common throughout the history of the genre. During the mid-1970s, Judas Priest helped spur the genre’s evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Bands in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal such as Iron Maiden and Saxon followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal fans became known as “metalheads” or “headbangers”.

During the 1980s, glam metal became a commercial force with groups like Mötley Crüe and Poison. Underground scenes produced an array of more extreme, aggressive styles: thrash metal broke into the mainstream with bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, while other styles of the most extreme subgenres of metal like death metal and black metal remain subcultural phenomena. Since the mid-1990s, popular styles such as groove metal (e.g. Pantera), which blends extreme metal with hardcore punk, and nu metal (e.g. Slipknot), which often incorporates elements of grunge and hip hop, have further expanded the definition of the genre.

[/wikipedia]

SO. Metal is not Punk (the Punk post; and playlist) as Punk’s roots are in Rockabilly and the ‘first generation’ of guitar-driven rock that predated Elvis and the Beatles, and found later expression (post British invasion) in the so-called Garage Rock of the later 60s.

Metal and Punk are still cousins, though: they have common ancestors in harder-flavoured Blues Rock (The Kinks, The Who, The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces, The Pretty Things, Them, and The Rolling Stones — per wiki — “Tall Cool One (1959) by The Fabulous Wailers and Louie Louie by The Kingsmen (1963) are mainstream examples of the genre in its formative stages.”)

Fans of Metal and Punk usually hate each other, and each other’s favorite bands, so that’s the easiest way to tell the two groups apart.

From my own listening (and so, obviously, my opinions):

First, there was Rock (50s greaser style — Little Richard, Chuck Berry, “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, “Rock Around the Clock”) which was already an amalgamative art form and heralded not just the emergence of youth culture but also the initial appropriation, commercialization, and mainstreaming of what was then called Black music — a process that actually began with Ragtime and Dixieland Jazz. “Rock and Roll” (a euphemism) differed from Jazz because it was a ‘return to roots’ — by the late 40s Jazz was performed by ‘orchestras’ and ‘big bands’ and was played in dance halls and on the radio — and was going on 50 years old at that point. Jazz was Hollywood, Broadway, mainstream. Jazz was big city clubs. ‘Jazz’ was New York, Chicago, RCA, and RKO.

The smaller shacks and bars that housed the blues artists and the 2nd-class ballrooms of the Chitlin’ circuit kept alive a separate strain of Jazz music, one that eventually became Rhythm and Blues — and over the following 50 years (from 1940) that root of Rhythm and Blues became roughly 90% of my favorite music, including Soul, Funk, modern R&B, and Blues Rock in many different flavours. (One can strain an ear muscle trying to find 12-bar blues in modern Nordic death metal, but Led Zeppelin is there to form that bridge.)

Whenever ‘modern’ music gets too stale, artists inevitably go back to the Blues well.

Previously on the blog Punk music got its own post. If you go back into the music documentary tag on this blog, you’ll note I’ve already covered a lot of 60s Soul and Rock, some Funk, with glancing blows at both Disco and Southern Rock. Starting from the 70s: Prog Rock, Arena Rock, New Wave, College Alternative, Grunge, Jam bands — these are all topics I’d like to get to.

All that is ‘Rock’: Metal derives from rock, but Metal is different.

Modern metal is raw, organic — but also distorted, loud, growl-ly, in-your-face and up-yours. Metal is even more modern than the Post Instrument music of chips, synths, and samples. Modern pop tracks are assembled from hooks and grooves; completely artificial but designed to be musical, danceable, memorable — earworms you hum to yourself all day.

One does not dance to metal so much as one thrashes and bounces and fights and reacts to the overwhelming energy; you don’t sing a metal song in the shower, you grunt and headbang it.

Metal quickly lost it’s edge. KISS were the pioneers who sold out — Alice Cooper is amazing but almost no one — no one in the rock or metal spheres — bothered to follow his lead. The Punks copped his attitude, the Progs ripped-off his stage show, and KISS did Alice almost better than he could, and sold dolls and lunch boxes to the kids besides.

I’m surprised KISS didn’t kill the music outright, but then, hell: KISS has some pretty good songs, and the 70s were weird all around. No fault, no blame. (Glam bands, power ballads, and MTV came around 10 years later and that ruined the genre. In 1992, Grunge—metal in all but name—came along to drive some final nails into its coffin.)

It is continually surprising to me how Metal can claim to be [cough][grunt] “Hardcore” [unh] when so much of their history, identity, and aesthetics are either directly based on or quickly devolve into self-parody. This Is Spinal Tap was released in 1984; the bands they so expertly skewered weren’t all metal (plenty of arena rock and prog are set up for equal blame&shame) but from The Black Album to Spinal Tap’s actual albums (each charting higher than the last) I’m not sure where the music starts and where the jokes end anymore.

Even when modern artists are pretty clear on the social issues and are trying to make a point, it seems the metal fans moreso than others just pick up and chime in on the chorus, “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.”

##

The musical origins of Metal are the same as the rest of Rock, the artists just do it harder, faster, and turned up to 11.

The origin of the term, though, is 42 seconds into “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf.

there are many other theories — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_metal_music#Etymology — I think this is a case where a lot of different, sort-of-related threads were pulled together and then a name was collectively agreed upon. Barry Gifford, in the 11 May 1968 issue of Rolling Stone, gets credit for getting the term “heavy metal rock” into print first. I can’t embed a song for that, though — oh wait, I can: Gifford was reviewing the album A Long Time Comin’ by Electric Flag

[definitely late-60s-blues-rock, but more soul than metal, if you ask me. there’s even a horn line.] [also, the use of the term in the ’68 Rolling Stone review strongly implies that “heavy metal rock” as both a term and a ‘thing’ already exists and is something the reader would recognize.]

So much rock music that I love is considered metal (or proto-metal) these days, I’m honestly surprised I don’t like typically ‘metal’ artists. The further metal gets from “Rock” Rock and Blues Rock, though, the less I like it. Also, 80s hair bands can go die in a fire.

##

Heavy-metal music is also a surprising indicator of countries’ economic health – though I’d say this is solely due to the popularity of metal in Norway (an outlier on both counts) and is not a sign of direct correlation or causation.

For intrepid music explorers who’d like to research more on this topic, I’ll just point out that Nordic Folk Metal is a thing.



Links and Thoughts 29: 28 June 2014

filed under , 28 June 2014, 06:05 by

Electric Light Orchestra – Roll Over Beethoven

Good Morning.

Judge for yourself: just after midnight every day, Meh will offer one new item for sale, the write-up for which should generate as many laughs as it does sales. Rutledge talks about running the site the way Trey Parker and Matt Stone run South Park, with as little lead time as possible, so that Meh can comment on current events. There will be no social media, no liking, no sharing, no email sign-up. He thinks email is a brand-damaging annoyance. The site should be compelling enough that people won’t need to be reminded to go to it. Repeat visitors who don’t buy stuff can click a “meh” button that will increase their prestige in the Meh community. He says, “Many people will be like, ‘But it’s a store. Why would you do that?’ That’s the fun part.”

This Internet Millionaire Has a New Deal For You : D Magazine, via The Feature

Lots of Tech Links:

Screen Time:
How to Stream TV Shows Now That Aereo’s Dead : Wired Gadget Lab

“Note that none of the scenarios above involve removing free videos from YouTube altogether. Even people who want to pull videos away from YouTube for exclusive windows assume that the world’s biggest video site will remain the world’s biggest video site and help create demand for paid products. But it will be very interesting to see how much, if any, video YouTube users are willing to pay for. If they can pay at all — YouTube’s core users are teenagers who have lots of energy but may find it difficult to make online payments.”
How Much Would You Pay to Watch a YouTube Video? : Re/code

The Impact of Soccer:

##

Diary entry for 28 June:

American’s new-found love of soccer may seem like a sudden, surprising (or even nefarious) thing but anyone who was born after 1964 knows why soccer is big (big enough) and getting bigger every year: we all played soccer as kids — OK, so not *all* of us; chunks of the US are [gridiron] football and always will be until more medical evidence about concussions passes peer review and gets published, and a lot of cities and small towns are into basketball for one of two reasons: it’s easier to pull together teams of five, as opposed to eleven, and b-ball courts are small (and grassless) making b-ball the better choice — literally, a better fit — than huge suburban soccer fields.

But soccer is here, and maybe after this World Cup, MLS can get a few fans to think about watching more than two-games-in-a-decade (especially if the national team can win one more game — or hell, 2 games and make it to the semi-final). There seems to be a huge opportunity: sitting-in-bars-and-watching-soccer-while-drinking has proven to be awfully popular this World Cup (more popular than the soccer?) so maybe the league and a few local pubs or sports bars in each MLS city can figure something out. If nothing else, there may be a few new stars to emerge from the tournament and that will help a few of the MLS clubs (over half of the US roster plays abroad, though).

MLS will expand to 21 teams in 2015; this latest version of US pro soccer has been operating since 1996. Any 18-year-olds signed up to play for the 2015 season will be younger than the league.

The Daily Beast released a list of 11 ‘great books’ about soccer — an excellent place to start (wikipedia works too, I guess) — but to their list I would add Outcasts United, as Today’s Book Recommendation:

Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference by Warren St. John (paperback, 9780385522045)

“Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston’s streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colors playing soccer in any open space they could find. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to unify Clarkston’s refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees.
“Set against the backdrop of an American town that without its consent had become a vast social experiment, Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents the lives of a diverse group of young people as they miraculously coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the center of the story is fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the soccer field while holding together their lives—and the lives of their families—in the face of a series of daunting challenges.”

Outcasts covers two very important aspects of US soccer: the importance of soccer to most of the 21st century immigrant communities (like baseball in the 1920s, or at least, like baseball in the movies about the period), and the strong influence of youth leagues.

I’ll get my to-buy links sorted out eventually. In the meantime, you can still use most readers’ preferred option.

##

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Links and Thoughts 28: 26 June 2014

filed under , 26 June 2014, 08:05 by

The B52s – Rock Lobster

Good Morning.

Today’s Long Read:
The Fall of the House of Saud : The Atlantic

Cities and Citizens:

Science:
Study claims evidence of a link between pesticide use and autism : Ars Technica

Tech:
We need net neutrality to make money work better, too : Quartz

see also:
Net Neutrality: Is the Internet a Public Utility? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

Google Odds and Ends:

With both “Chromecast” and “Android TV” now competing as brands — to say nothing of old stalwart YouTube — Google doesn’t have a TV strategy so much as a full broadside assault on your livingroom screen. I don’t know if the lack of consistent branding (or any coherent brand identity) is lazy on Google’s part, or scattered and thoughtless, or indicative of splits within and between the various Google teams, or spaghetti-against-a-wall…

or effin’ Brilliant.

Pre-existing power players can’t respond to Google if no one has any idea what the hell “Google TV” is or is going to be. Any of the three current competing brands (see also: defunct efforts Nexus Q, and the old Google TV) might show up as a branded service on Google Fiber at some point; more likely none will — but the tech (and content) is being iterated and incubated in a number of niche plays.

If you doubt the future of major tech and internet companies is in TV, you seriously under-estimate the amount of time Americans spend passively consuming entertainment on their respective couches. Additionally, Cable TV is a rare (unique?) industry where every damn consumer is practically begging for someone to come disrupt the so-called-service, because cable TV sucks.

on that note: Aereo lost.

But that’s not the real story about broadcast TV, if you ask me:
“Cable channels had a low-risk but lucrative business model: fill much of the schedule with reruns of shows that were proven hits on broadcast networks—CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC — taking a lot of the guesswork out of programming.
“But that formula is no longer reliable. Audiences have fragmented so badly among myriad cable channels and online video outlets that broadcast networks are finding it harder to produce a hit. That means the pool of shows that can guarantee a strong audience in reruns for cable channels has shrunk drastically, driving up prices for what is available—even when audiences aren’t as strong.
“Most affected are the biggest cable channels, like TNT, TBS and USA Network, that have long aired mass-market entertainment programming most similar to broadcast networks. If those networks pay large sums for reruns that can’t bring in large audiences, ad revenue and profits will suffer.”
For TV Reruns, an Existential Crisis – Lack of Big Hits on Networks Creates a Drought Downstream on Cable Channels : Wall Street Journal (paywalled, link may disappear)

For all the press Original shows like Mad Men receive, “original series still make up just 7% of programming hours on big cable networks, factoring out their repeats, according to Nielsen”

I was also an Aereo customer myself – but cancelled months ago because the over-the-air broadcast offerings just weren’t compelling enough to justify the expense.

Amazon: Follow up -
“On the surface, Firefly also feels like a Fire phone gimmick. In reality, it’s a next generation search platform and likely to be the first significant Google challenger. I’m not suggesting Google will disappear or feel the pain anytime soon, but Firefly will force them to evolve.”
Why Amazon Firefly is important : Joe Wikert jwikert.typepad.com

Hot New Tech: Literally.
AMD’s new 5GHz chip runs so hot it ships with watercooling : Geek.com

##

Today’s Book Recommendation is that oldie-but-goodie, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power by Daniel Yergin (paperback, 9781439110126). Any discussion or analysis (like The Atlantic piece on the House of Saud, linked above) really has to start with the best book on the subject. If you can’t be bothered to read 900+ pages, you’ll be heartened to hear there was a PBS miniseries based on the book, which you can watch on Netflix (or buy on DVD for about $7 — or get from your local library; pretty sure they’ve got this one)

I’ll get my to-buy links sorted out eventually. In the meantime, you can still use most readers’ preferred option.

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Links and Thoughts 27: 23 June 2014

filed under , 23 June 2014, 12:42 by

Yonder Mountain String Band – Franklin’s Tower (cover)

Good Afternoon.

Monday Morning Quarterbacking:

Amazon’s Fire Phone has had some time to sink in.

“[W]hile Amazon’s app store has grown to 240,000 apps, that’s still about 25 percent of what an iPhone or standard Android user can choose from. The company says it will fill some holes by adding popular apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Uber, and it also says it has new developer software that makes it a snap to convert standard Android apps to work with the phone’s new features. But that depends on how eagerly developers embrace the Fire phone — a big question.
“Finally, there’s price. Despite rumors that the Fire phone would sell for much less than Apple’s and Samsung’s top models, it sells for about the same amounts: $200 subsidized, with a two-year contract, and $650, unsubsidized, with no contract.
“There is a major caveat on pricing. The base model comes with twice the memory of the base iPhone, and for an unspecified but limited, time, Amazon is throwing in a free year of its $99-a-year Prime service. But consumers are likely to focus more on the big-dollar figures.
“So, yes, the Fire phone is about buying other stuff from Amazon, for sure. But it’s also about becoming the next big smartphone platform.”
Amazon’s Smartphone Ambitions Go Beyond Making Shopping Easier : Re/code

“Bezos keeps throwing free movies, free songs, and free books at us, but I’m bored. Sure, they have the cheapest prices around and I love my Amazon Prime but if the idea is to hook me into the Amazon ecosystem through hardware, Bezos and company needs to do a lot better.”
Amazon’s phone is its biggest recent misstep : Dear Author

The big problem with Amazon’s new phone — it’s too good : Vox

“Basically, in addition to being a smartphone, it sounds like Fire Phone is like a tricorder”
Firefly: Amazon’s Fire Phone Can Identify Almost Anything : Gizmodo

Exclusivity and price cause Amazon’s Fire Phone to trip at the finish line : Geek.com

The Hidden Agenda of Amazon’s New Phone : Wired Business

##

Today’s Book Recommendation is The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication by Heather Horst and Daniel Miller (paperback, isbn 9781845204013)

“…traces the impact of the cell phone from personal issues of loneliness and depression to the global concerns of the modern economy and the trans-national family. As the technology of social networking, the cell phone has become central to establishing and maintaining relationships in areas from religion to love. The Cell Phone presents the first detailed ethnography of the impact of this new technology through the exploration of the cell phone’s role in everyday lives.”

You might also consider Is My Cell Phone Bugged?: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Mobile Conversations Private by Kevin D. Murray (9781934572887) or You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World’s Poor to the Global Economy by Nicholas P. Sullivan (9780787986094)

Of course you can buy those on Amazon.

##

More Amazon:
A Rare Peek Inside Amazon’s Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine : Wired Business

IP Farming:
Disney is reshaping ‘Star Wars’ in the model of Marvel : Quartz

Books:
The Book Binders: Rescuing Books One Spine at a Time : Lit Reactor

Music:
The 25 Best Rock Movies Ever Made : Flavorwire, via Neatorama

Science:
Ocean Plastic Is Home to a Surpisingly Large Variety of Life : Motherboard

Tech:
Samsung’s bizarre, byzantine ownership structure in one incredibly convoluted chart : Quartz

Tech:
Sharp solar cells can reach 60 percent efficiency : SlashGear

Tech?:
Don’t just learn to code—learn to keep learning : Quartz

Cities and Citizens:
“Technology start-ups, business incubators, reinvigorated neighborhoods full of renovated warehouses, platoons of dynamic young residents with disposable income and coding skills. The signifiers of urban success listed in a recent Brookings study called ‘The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America’ all sound fairly positive. After all, isn’t this the central dream of our times, to take an underutilized chunk of capital and transform it into useful profitability, whether that’s a former train station or a really great URL?”
Does Innovation Always Lead to Gentrification? : Pacific Standard, via Planetizen – Planetizen spun the title of the article, too: “Is the Innovation Economy a Cover for Gentrification?”

##

Diary entry for 23 June:

I’m not sure if I should be keeping a daily diary, or pouring the thought/effort into longer columns. Obviously, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been focused elsewhere; we’ll see if the pendulum swings back.

In the long run I suppose it doesn’t matter because I’m keeping this space (and the tag) available for additional editorials on the links, when needed. [sign off] —M.

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Links and Thoughts 26: 18 June 2014

filed under , 17 June 2014, 10:48 by

CHVRCHES – Recover

Good Morning.

Psychology: Tasty, tasty psychology, with a side of tech, and a splash of restaurant-wages-debate.
“If you come hungry and you don’t have to wait for a server and you’re looking at an enormous picture of gooey nachos… there’s a good chance you will order those nachos.”
Chili’s Is Betting You’ll Spend More Money If Your Server Is a Screen : The Atlantic – Citylab

Books:
“The only way to finance the changes needed is to drastically cut costs. The best way to do this is to move out of Manhattan, but no publisher wants to take that hit in its perceived respectability (or give up the awesomeness of living in New York). Well imagine what would happen if a major publisher announced a move that increased their reputation while dramatically slashing the cost of doing business.”
The People Aren’t the Problem : Hugh Howey
additional commentary at The Passive Voice
…And might I suggest any publisher who simply Must keep a Manhattan address could perhaps look at Manhattan, Kansas

Tech:
Long thought dead, PC sales are coming back : Quartz

Our tablets have become a new class of device, and while the best of tablets are also fine computers, I think we’re starting to realize tablets do not replace computers-with-keyboards — and many were making due with PCs and laptops are at least 5 years old now.

Tech:
SanDisk drops $1.1 billion to buy Fusion-io

Don’t worry if you’d never heard of Fusion-io before — I don’t think anyone not building enterprise-scale servers had. I don’t know if the tech would (or will) filter down to consumers, but Fusion-io makes very fast SSDs on PCIe cards (utilizing the latest PCIe bus speeds — theoretically.) Until this news dropped, as noted, I’d never heard of them.

Tech:
Investors Pour $44 Million Into Instacart as Google Is Forced to Take Notice

The first company that can deliver a couple of cases of beer so that I don’t have to put on pants on a Saturday morning wins. And….. go!

Tech:
“And lest anyone think that Tesla just jettisoned all its intellectual property, keep in mind that the company still has a wealth of IP in the form of trademarks, trade secrets and so. This means that if anyone decides to copy Tesla’s cars too closely, Musk (who is no stranger to lawsuits) will probably sue the bejabbers out of them.”
What Elon Musk did — and did not — do when he “opened” Tesla’s patents : GigaOm

Gaming:
“The Steamboy project team is aiming for a release next year, which may end up coinciding with the official launch of the already announced Steam Machines. And I am actually more excited about this device than Steam Machines because of the gaming-on-the-go aspect it introduces for PC games.”
Steamboy: it’s like a PS Vita, but for Steam games : Geek.com

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