Angry Robot

Apple’s AR is closer to reality than Google’s

ARKit hasn’t been out for long and already some pretty crazy things are going down

The Devil’s Candy

The Devil's Candy Poster

From the writer-director of The Loved Ones, Sean Byrne, The Devil’s Candy is a lean, nimble and nasty take on the haunted house genre.

Hip metalhead couple Jesse and Astrid (Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby) and their metalhead teen daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco) get a nice house for cheap – because the previous owners met a violent, metalhead end. Jesse is an artist, and the new house gives him lots of studio space to become ensorcelled by Satan and paint inverted crosses and horrific beast faces and suffering children – including his own daughter.

If you think you know where this plot is going, you probably don’t. The Devil’s Candy is much less beholden to stale conventions than the typical entry in this genre. Even better, the characters are real, non-generic people, brought to life by a talented cast, and the craft – including the direction but also notably the sound design – is top-notch. A must-watch for those with the stomach for it, and if you have to ask if you do, you probably don’t.

Lessons From the Great Male Skirt Rebellion of 2017

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Text of FDR’s speech continues – there’s quite a bit of this, just wholesale publishing of his speeches. I’m actually fairly curious about the claims of Nazi documents on the previous page. Was the Nazi church a real plan? And their plans to carve up South America?

This post is part of The Sankey War Scrapbook project.

Canada Doesn’t Know How to Party

This is the most Canadian thing I will ever write, I know, but I’m proud of my country for its lack of pride.

RE: Magic Pens: Nebo

Funny how just after I post that article talking about magic notebooks and how I use One Note for handwriting recognition and how it’s not quite there yet, I discover this app Nebo.

Nebo is a handwriting recognition app. And it works. Really well. Just to prove it to you, I’m using it right now. here’s the screenshot of what I wrote:

screenshot of my crappy handwriting in the nebo app

Part of what makes it effective is that it displays its interpretation of your scrawl live as you write. So if you do get a little too sloppy – ironically, this happened to me with the wards “handwriting recognition” – you can immediately adjust. It has a lot of neat pencil gesture tricks, too. Like to erase a word, you scratch it out. Or underline for bold, etc. But the major part of it is that the text conversion works really, really well. Living-in-the-future well.

Anyway, this app is taking a place in my home screen IMMEDIATELY.

The Most Wanted Man In History: An Oral History Of the Hunt for Osama bin Laden

I don’t know where to begin with this masterful ClickHole piece. So, here:

Dick Cheney: One day I was watching a PBS telethon to raise money to send the California Raisins to massage school. It was a very enjoyable program, and at one point one of the California Raisins came on stage and talked about how he hated singing and he wanted to become a masseur so that he could give a massage to his whole family. Suddenly, the camera cuts to the people taking calls, and I gasp because one of the people working the phones at this PBS telethon was Osama bin Laden.

Obama’s secret struggle to retaliate against Putin’s election interference

Epic, frustrating reporting on the Obama Administration’s failure to deal with Russian election interference

Magic Notebook

I wrote seven years ago about magic books. By that I meant various technologies that were transforming the way I/we read: RSS, read later services like Instapaper, e-readers like the Kindle, audiobooks and podcasts, etc. etc. What would a magic notebook be? Something that transformed the way we create, not just consume? For many years this has been a notebook computer, i.e. a laptop. But for me, the magic notebook is now the iPad Pro.

Pencil

Let me go out on a limb and declare writing with a pen or pencil as far more natural-feeling than typing on a keyboard. We learn to do it earlier, and because it’s easier to switch to drawing, and to use space to arrange your writing, it’s more versatile. I love handwriting, especially for brainstorming. But I’m not a Moleskine dude. I’m terrible at keeping track of physical pieces of paper and I am so totally into having everything all digital and linkable and searchable and easily revised.

I’ve had iPads since the first and almost as early on I was buying various styli. My dream was, I hand write something onto the sheer sparkling glass of the iPad and it converts itself into glorious digital text. Now that’s a magic notebook. But it was not to be, not then. The early styli felt like writing with someone else’s finger. But I knew I wanted to play around with the iPad Pros once they came out, more or less because of the Pencil.

So I got one. (Note: I got one a couple months ago, so I’m referring to the previous generation iPad Pro 9.7”, not the new ones that just came out (d’oh!).) And: my dream isn’t here, but it’s a hell of a lot closer.

The pencil works really well for my purposes, which are short on drawing, long on hand-written notes. I use OneNote and although the Pencil support isn’t the greatest, it lets me keep everything in one place. Also, it has handwriting-to-text! It’s not great, especially as my handwriting looks like something you might write in mud with a stick as death spasms wracked your mutilated body. Plus, seems that feature only works on Microsoft OSes right now (speaking of death spasms).

UPDATE: See this post about the app Nebo for some seriously next-level handwriting recognition.

But it’s getting there. So let’s imagine a near-future utopian world in which Microsoft has enabled this on the iPad. Then let’s imagine that same world where the machine vision craziness has continued to proceed apace. Assuming we’re not all cowering in the muck as T1000s hunt us down to force us into indentured servitude in SkyNet’s underground sugar mills – or something – then perhaps my dream will be here. Writing longhand, tapping convert and leaning back as my insta-posted genius blog post / promo script goes out into the world and somehow causes dollar bills basically to start flying out of my screen as I give a double thumbs up and grin wildly, revealing a full set of solid gold shark teeth…

Sorry, where was I?

Something something iPad something.

The Other Accessories

So anyway, I’m using it for brainstorming and rough notes and then kinda formulating my first draft with an actual keyboard. And oddly enough, here’s where two other Microsoft products make an appearance, in hardware form.

Number one is a $5 loop with adhesive, the Surface Pen Loop, which you can use to affix your Apple Pencil… well, anywhere really, but I’m sticking it to the edge of my case like so:

That way the pencil’s always with the iPad.

The case is a cheapo number, the Moko Ultra Slim. I’m… very fussy. There, I admitted it. So I bought two other cases and returned them, and tried a few others in-store, and this $17 Moko is my favourite. It’s like an Apple Smart Cover in principle, except a lot cheaper and the back is clear plastic. Importantly for me, it’s light and slim.

When I do need a keyboard I have Microsoft product number two, The Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard. Like I said I tried a lot of cases, including the two premier keyboard cases, the Apple Smart Keyboard and the Logitech Create. I didn’t find the Apple Keyboard comfortable to type on. The Logitech Create was great for typing, but as a case it’s not great – it doubles the weight of the iPad, for one. And both of them are expensive. The Microsoft folding one is thin and light, costs half as much, and stays in my bag until I need it. Most of the time I don’t need the keyboard, and so the iPad is as light and portable as possible until I do. in that case it folds out wider than the screen of the tablet, giving the keys more room. I will not lie: some of them are still cramped. But I find it quite agreeable to type on. I still have a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard at home and I figure if I ever need to write for hours on my iPad I will bring that.

The Experience

Short answer: I fucking love this thing.

Slightly longer: this iPad is my favourite thing for: reading the news, browsing the web, editing photos, writing, and general purpose computing. Certain things I still need a computer for: video editing, web stuff (although thanks to the incredible Coda I still do a bunch on the iPad), design. The pro apps are still lacking on the iPad. I love the portability compared to a laptop – I mostly have it in my bag by default.

The Future

My iPad is already out of date with the advent of the 10.5″ model, which has a slightly bigger and significantly better screen, is faster, and boasts better pencil performance. Thing is, I’m happy enough with this one to not care. I’m good. Mine is already overkill in all of those areas. (It could be, though, that the Smart Keyboard is greatly improved by the added width; that’s my one regret with this model, but it’s not much of one.)

IOS 11 has a shitload of iPad-specific improvements: easier app switching, better multitasking, a file browser, and more pencil functions. I’m excited about all of those.

The area that needs real improvement is the pro app world. I can’t find a good pro video editor: where is Final Cut iOS? I am having trouble finding a design app that meets my needs. I’ve run into situations with relatively simple photo manipulations, say wanting to rotate a batch of images at once, where the stock photos app doesn’t do the trick and I don’t know where to turn. Hopefully Apple pushes forward in this area. It certainly looks like they are. They’ve been touting the iPad as the future of computing for a while, and only recently have they begun to back that up. And only recently do I think I agree with them.

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Eastern Front rages on: 300,000 Russian dead in first three weeks.

This post is part of The Sankey War Scrapbook project.

Maps of choose-your-own-adventure books

Death when it comes will have no sheep.

Syfy Rebrands as Science Fiction Content Hub

So this is the US cable channel formerly known as SciFi, which rebranded as SyFy to get away from messy associations with nerdy sci-fi, which now wants the nerds back

Trump, Russia, and Those Shadowy Sater Deals at Bayrock

Fairly juicy longread about Felix Sater, the Trump associate with ties to Russia, the mob and the FBI.

[An ex-Bayrock employee] says that it was Arif and Sater who pitched the future president on the idea of launching an international chain of Trump-branded, mixed-use hotels and condominiums. And Bayrock got to Trump at a time when his “brand” could help get a little extra attention for a condo project, but didn’t amount to much more than that.

Trump Stumbling into War in Syria

The U.S. now finds itself in a much more dangerous situation in the Middle East, where the war against ISIS, which has broad bipartisan support, could become a wider regional conflict of the type that Trump specifically promised to avoid.

Subterranean home for 400 found in Beijing basement

I once had a dream, when we were renovating our basement, that we discovered a sub-basement with an extended family living in it, subsisting on “night potatoes”

Logan

Certainly the most depressing, possibly the most emotionally powerful superhero movie ever made, Logan recasts two signature X-Men in a bleak future western about familial bonds in an uncaring world. This is the superhero movie Cormac McCarthy would make.

It’s 2029, mutants are near-extinct, and The Mutant Formerly Known as Wolverine, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is driving a limo to pay the medical bills of self-described nonagenarian and Alzheimer’s victim Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). When a nurse seeks Logan’s help taking the lab-raised mute mutant child Laura (Dafne Keen) to the Canadian border (bonus points for casting Canada as Utopia again, American filmmakers!), he must decide what he’s going to do with the rest of his life, which may not be that long.

If that sounds grim, it’s because it is, although the despair is leavened by four setpiece action sequences that – by virtue of this film’s R rating, a first for the franchise – are more skull-stabbingly true to the Wolverine character than anything he’s done before. Part Western runaway slave story, part poignant family road trip, the film explores the parent-child relationships between several sets of characters, and shows the anger produced by our families, both biological and non-, may be overpowered only by the rage that comes when they are threatened, the rage born out of love. The film is both a reminder of the versatility of the men-in-tights genre and a moving swan song for one of its most beloved and perfectly cast characters.

Power Causes Brain Damage

Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.

The Persistence of Prog Rock

Hot take: any proper history of prog would include Radiohead, regardless of what they say

A Very, Very Dangerous Situation

What would happen if Trump fires Mueller & Rosenstein

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Lots of interesting news including a possible strike and an America First rally featuring Charles Lindbergh.

This post is part of The Sankey War Scrapbook project.

US cable could lose 1 million subscribers in one quarter.

Crazy footage from super tiny drone. (thanks, y!) More about the drone here.