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Cultured Automaton

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The tentacle, the monkey and the motorcycle

This article was previously published in The Loop Magazine, but as today is the 30th Anniversary of the Mac, and it was such an integral part of my early gaming experience, I thought I’d put it out there.

One of the first computer games I can actually remember playing was Asteroids. I was sitting on the carpet of my best friend’s room and we were taking turns on his machine, probably a Victor 9000, which sported a monochrome green phosphor monitor.

I remember the experience so vividly. The pebbled texture of the 5 ¼" floppy, the ka-chunk sound of the drive lock, the burping and whirring as the machine read the disk and executed the program. The keys had that beefy tension and satisfying clack that you can only find in boutique keyboards now. The games rules were incredibly rudimentary, but there was the beginnings of a real physics engine there, with coast and...

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All Great Things…

This week is my last working at The Next Web. It’s a pretty big change for me, as it really feels like family in a way that a lot of employers jabber about but few actually mean. I’ve only been writing for 4 years but that’s about 50 in blog years, and I feel fortunate that I got to be a part of an organization with great people like Zee, Patrick, Boris, Brad, Matt, Martin, Alex, Courtney, Amalia, Anna, Jon, Ken, Emil, Harrison, Josh, Paul, Nick and so many others.

It’s been a genuine pleasure working at TNW. For just over two years I was able to wake up every morning and love where I was going to work. That’s an absolutely invaluable thing and I hope I get to experience it again somewhere else. Everyone there is fantastic and I know they’ll do just fine moving along without me. I know without a doubt that TNW has one of the deepest benches in the...

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Good reading on iOS 7

So, it’s been a week since Apple announced iOS 7. I’ve written a bit about it and I’ll end up writing more. I’ve got a few things I’m working on right now.

But there’s already been some smart chat about it, and a lot of super dumb stuff. I won’t link to the dumb stuff here but I thought I’d round up some things that are actually intelligent.

iOS 7: Thoughts and Questions by Viticci

iOS 7 is not about the icons, labels as buttons, translucency, questionable Lock screen gestures, or a new Spotlight as design choices taken individually – it’s about a single, precise idea: to make iOS simpler and more enjoyable, but at the same time more useful.

Fertile Ground by Marco Arment

Apple has set fire to iOS. Everything’s in flux. Those with the least to lose have the most to gain, because this fall, hundreds of millions of people will start...

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Farewell, Matt

My friend and colleague Matt Brian is moving on from The Next Web to The Verge. I’ve had a wonderful time working with him, it’s been an excellent couple of years and I can’t wait to see what he gets up to in his next phase.

Matt has contributed so much to TNW over the years that it was hard for me to find something perfect to share on his exit. But I think the time he threw up in a plane demonstrates his dedication to getting the story. And it’s super embarrassing.

See ya Matt, have fun being a Vergein!

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Did you know Apple pre-announced its iPad sales?

Just kidding. It does not.

And yet! Several sites are using an analyst’s estimated split of iPad and iPad mini sales in 2013 to say that Apple is totally surprised that it could end up selling more of the lower-margin mini than it is the higher-margin full-size tablet.

The report the stories are using is from DisplaySearch. The full quote from DisplaySearch’s David Hseih is this:

Apple had planned to sell 40M iPad minis (7.9”) and 60M iPads (9.7”) in 2013. However, the reality seems to be the reverse, as the iPad mini has been more popular than the iPad. We now understand that Apple may be planning to sell 55M iPad minis (7.9”) and 33M iPads (9.7”) in 2013.

That’s great. Only one problem: Apple never announced any such plans of any sort. I’m sure that Apple planned to sell a certain amount of both models, but it never reveals those estimates publicly. In...

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Why Twitter Introduced Photo Filters

I wrote a long thing about Twitter’s new photo filters today. But if you want to know why they did it, here’s that bit boiled down into one image:


Instagram emptied out my Twitter profile’s photo gallery in one flick of the switch. As photos and other media become a bigger part of Twitter’s strategy in the future, it can’t have this kind of thing completely at the mercy of a service owned by a competitor. Those galleries started out on partner pages, then they showed up in profiles and now search. Soon, they’ll be on the website everywhere as well, not just the Discover tab.

If Twitter’s future is a rich service that is attractive to both celebrities and regular people as a way to share every bit of media that they create — and I believe that it is — then it has to safeguard that status. Photo filters and galleries are one way of doing this....

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Square’s Gift Card Gift To Small Merchants

Square recently introduced Gift Cards to its Wallet and Register apps. This lets users purchase and redeem these cards both via the app and through Apple’s Passbook if they’re on iOS. It’s a slick addition, very interesting given that this was exactly how I predicted Square might dip its toes into leveraging Passbook.

But it stands to have a pretty big impact on tons of small vendors that use Square for payments via smartphones and tablets in their shops or at their kiosks.

If you’ve never had to choose and set up a gift card solution for a business or company, you might not know that it’s a pretty big pain in the butt. Sure, you can go with the old hand-written certificates, like the olden days. But they’re hard to track and nearly impossible to update or analyze accurately. The only real option is to choose a provider that you can oder customized...

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The Daily

It sucks that The Daily is going away. If you’re rubbing your hands with glee over its closure, then you’re dead inside. Maybe the parent company, an intensely old-world corporation in many ways, deserved to have its butt handed to it. But the experiement was completely worth undertaking and News Corp gets credit for doing it.

In fact, I think it was incredibly brave and ambitious to launch that thing in the first place. As with many crazy and risky ventures, there were a lot of folks that were quick to predict ruin even as it was being announced. Those same folks trotted out those months-old predictions yesterday, nodding and stroking their metaphorical goatees.

But what about those negative predicitons made about similar ideas that went in the opposite direction? A crazy idea for a quick SMS-based messaging system that you can view and use on a computer. Silly, useless,...

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iTunes 11’s Mysterious Cloud Icon

One of the things I’ve seen a lot of conversation about with regards to iTunes 11 is the cloud icon that appears to the right of the Library button on the left side of the main window. This button takes the place of the sidebar, allowing you to switch between Movies, Music, etc.

Screen Shot 2012-12-03 at 9.40.17 PM.png

Just to the right of the button almost anyone who is signed into iTunes will see a small cloud icon appear. Clicking on it does nothing, there is no tooltip and it sometimes animates in various ways. This has led to confusion about its purpose. When I saw it I felt I knew right away what it was, but thought I’d do a little testing to make sure my hypothesis was correct.

If you’re wondering what the cloud icon is, it’s actually very simple: It means that some part of your library is in Apple’s cloud.

This could be via iTunes in the Cloud, which is active automatically from the...

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Why Is Apple Charging $329 For The iPad Mini?

Because Apple likes to sell things that actually make it money, so that it can continue to make more things for you.

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