Angry Robot

The people behind ‘the people’s mayor’ deserve a better response than this

On the Ford bros’ strange non-responses to the crack allegations.

Cycling in Toronto – Richmond-Adelaide Cycle Track Study

The study of a potential separated bike lane on Richmond or Adelaide is finally getting off the ground. Right now there is no east-west bike lane through downtown south of college. I’m dismayed to see Wellington included here, though. Will be interesting to see how Adam Vaughan stands on this – it’s his ward and he has been surprisingly unenthusiastic about bike lanes.

Helios Bars – Transform any bike into a smart bike

Kickstarter for a neat handlebar setup that includes lights, turning indicators, GPS and a smartphone app.

Glass Questions

Pretty reasonable FAQ about Google Glass. (Via)

“The Pipple Brothers”

Frequently Asked Questions about Yahoo's Acquisition of Tumblr

Duplicating house keys using a 3D Printer

Difficult, not impossible. Maybe it’s time to think up some better locks. (via)

Rob Ford: U.S. late-night hosts take aim at Toronto mayor

Stewart and Kimmel did bits; Leno had a predictable Marion Barry joke.

Microsoft is changing the definition of “used” and “new” games, and you’re not going to like it

You can still play used games, but you’ll have to pay a fee. Not sure if this is a good time in the game console industry to figure out ways to make your customers pay more. UPDATE (thanks Steve): more details here, and it sure gets confusing.

Xbox One: a next-gen console with a focus on interactive TV and apps

They announced the new Xbox just now. It has Blu-Ray and looks like an 80s VCR. Oh and something with Spielberg and a Halo TV show?

The One-Person Product

Marco Arment, Tumblr’s first employee, on what it was like to work there.

Ford to make statement about alleged crack video Tuesday

So he didn’t smoke crack, but the video is illegal?

More poor live in suburbs than in urban areas, research shows

Big shift in the US. Not clear if this is because of gentrification (the poor getting priced out of cities), or because of general population growth in the suburbs.

We Are Raising $200,000 to Buy and Publish the Rob Ford Crack Tape

The Crackstarter campaign begins. Apparently there are six different campaigns currently seeking funding. Work together, people!

For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine

Holy shit. Also, a story in The Star about it. (via)

Star Wars and Doctor Who fans clash at Norwich convention

Judge Dredd should broker the peace treaty.

Star Trek movies and TV series: Which are the best? Why?

Matthew Yglesias goes deep. “A bunch of friendly folks using advanced technology to help people? That can only be profitable, I suspect, on the small screen.” (via) Also, read this beautiful comment about how Trek helped a troubled kid.

Haunting Melissa

Interesting experiment in iOS film delivery:

 <blockquote>        <p>Veteran storyteller Neal Edelstein has reinvented filmmaking in a way that brings the power of hypnotic, episodic content to the iTunes Store. Viewed exclusively on the iPhone and iPad, this frighteningly haunting story is released in sporadic and unexpected ways that will leave you constantly guessing, and constantly engaged. You’ll want to activate Push Notifications so you won’t miss a thing. (<a href="">via</a>)</p>    </blockquote>

Ace Patrol

It’s on iOS. It’s a turn-based strategy game. With flying. From Civilization creator Sid Meier. Adding giant robots and hamburgers would be unnecessary at this point, as it’s already a must-buy for me. Er, if it wasn’t free… more on that later.

Ace Patrol is a hex-based strategy game of WWI dogfighting. You have a squad of four procedurally-generated pilots, and you play through a procedurally-generated campaign, adding maneuvers, bonuses and planes as you advance. It’s not the grim-swamp-of-death-and-malaise WWI that inspired the dadaists, it’s more the “spot-on flying, good chap” jaunty cap-and-scarf WWI of… other WWI games. The graphics are slick yet board game-ish, a bit of accessible 3D gloss on 2D gameplay, much like Civilization Revolution.

It’s a fun, easy-to-pick-up game that nonetheless has a fair amount of complexity lurking petulantly under the surface. Depending on a few key variables (your altitude/speed, angle of approach, enemy’s angle and speed), your attack may do 4% damage, or 90%. Learning these variables is key, as is making use of anti-aircraft batteries, and clouds (which hide your position from the enemy). In general, the gameplay feels true to the real-life activity it is based on, while being abstracted enough to make it easy to get into, and with short enough feedback loops to make it compulsively playable.

On the downside, it’s marred by a far too cursory tutorial that hides the aforementioned complexity altogether. That’s all well and good until you get to later, harder missions where you start dying all the time and don’t know why. And dying: no pilot ever really dies (“well done, old chap!”), but depending on the circumstances of their would-be demise – injured, crashed, behind enemy lines or not – they are taken out of commission for anywhere from one to six stages. You can’t replace them – why not? Insurance reasons? Union rules? The fading morale of a populace drowning in death? Who knows, but every lost pilot means one less you can choose for your next mission. This can potentially be catastrophic as this game auto-saves and doesn’t let you try a level over again. You can free up all your pilots and have them ready to fly by paying $1. This isn’t the only IAP play, but it is the sleaziest. If it wasn’t an actual business model, it would seem like something that should be fixed in an update. Or at least you could respect the policy of risk-mitigation and pretend-human-life-valuation it would seem to endorse.

So that’s a bummer, but other than that, the IAP is quite reasonable. You unlock the full British campaign for $1, and $2 for the other nations piecemeal (France, Germany, US), or $4 for everyone. You can also buy “pilots” which are really packages of skins and skills tied to each nation. Note that the procedurally generated campaigns are different every time, so even paying just $1 for this game gives you a lot of potential gameplay. All in all, probably worth the pocket change you flip at it – just fly safe or you’ll wind up in a spot of bother, old chum.

Push-Button Gunsmithing and the Long Arm of the Law

3D printers can already print crappy guns and soon will be able to print excellent ones. Does this mean the ownership of 3D printers should be regulated as stringently (or non-stringently in the US) as guns? The problem is made confusing, as Cascio points out, by the printers’ potential to self-replicate:

Any 3D printer able to produce a high-quality firearm would almost certainly be able to print out another 3D printer, this time without the restrictions. This is by no means an outrageous or speculative proposition. Among the earliest-available low-cost 3D printers was (and is) the RepRap — the Replicating Rapid-Prototyper (an older term for 3D printer).

Faking It

Mad Men’s Don Draper problem:

As the island was to “Lost,” Don Draper is to “Mad Men.” He was a great premise, a mystery we were dying to understand. But, the more the puzzle has been filled in, the more he’s begun to feel suspiciously like a symbol, a thesis title rather than a character: “Appearance Versus Reality”; “American Masculinity as Performance”; “The Links Between Prostitution, Marriage, and the Ad Game.”

I think the problem for many people is that Draper is no longer someone you can root for. It’s similar to Walter White’s arc in Breaking Bad – kind of the whole point of the show, yet out of sync with what many viewers expect of their protagonists.

Sagging legacy networks seek a reversal of fortune

This year’s upfronts seem more significant than most. (via)

  <blockquote>        <p>But there’s an air of urgency for the suits at the legacy networks — <span class="caps">CBS</span>, <span class="caps">NBC</span>, <span class="caps">ABC</span> and Fox. They’ve been rocked by an ominous first: A basic cable program — <span class="caps">AMC</span>’s zombie apocalypse drama “The Walking Dead” — outperformed every scripted show on television this season in the advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic.</p>     </blockquote>

So This Is How It Begins: Guy Refuses to Stop Drone-Spying on Seattle Woman

Creative Cloud

A well-reasoned piece on the recent news that Adobe’s Creative Suite is becoming Creative Cloud, a subscription service.

Absent in most of the opinions I’ve read on this matter is any weighing of competitive products. Certainly Photoshop has low-priced, excellent competition on the App Store (Acorn, Pixelmator). But other products like After Effects and Lightroom have few competitors. Kind of a crappy dilemma, especially for occasional or hobbyist users.

In Conversation: Vince Gilligan

On learning of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tweet that Breaking Bad taught him how to dispose of a corpse: “Oh, for fuck’s sake. Oh, Jesus Christ. No, I did not know that.”