Purple Tuesday

Wally Waves:

I was home watching TV and cutting up a steak when I got the call at 8PM. A friend of mine worked at a famous hotel in LA and one of the guests made a last minute request for a DJ to play the hotel bar. Someone that could get there and start playing in an hour. The bar frequently had live bands play, but never a DJ. So with little to no time, my wise and generous friend thought to throw a gig my way.

“Yeah, I can get there in an hour. Am I getting paid?”

“Yes, you’ll get paid.”

“What kind of party is it? What am I playing?”

“Someone’s renting out the bar for a private party. And that someone is… The Artist… formerly… known… as… Prince.”

That sentence was not real to me. Still not real.

Stay in for a fantastic story (and playlist!).

/via Márton Bede

Apple updated the 12 inch MacBook line

Apple bumped the MacBook line:

Apple has today released an update to the 12 inch Retina MacBook line, with new Skylake processors, overall better performance, and a new color: Rose Gold. The new internals have also allowed Apple to grab an extra hour of battery life out of the same sized product. The MacBook refresh keeps the same thin chassis, the same edge-to-edge keyboard and the same single USB-C port design as the original Retina MacBook, released about a year ago.

Silent update, but the family is in focus for the company going forward. Also interesting what Phil Schiller added in the press release:

MacBook is the thinnest and lightest Mac we have ever made and it’s our vision for the future of the notebook

Translation: this is what the new MacBook Pros are going to look like.

Don’t fake it, do it correctly – in 64 kilobytes

I’ve long lost interest in the PC demoscene, but with the release of “Fermi Paradox” by Mercury (YouTube link – the executable code fits 64 kilobytes) this seems to change. There are two sides for me to give high marks in a given production: one, the general narrative and art direction, and two, the pushing of technical boundaries. Fermi Paradox excels in both.

Urs Ganse of Mercury shares some interesting details regarding the future of demoscene productions:

We are using actual material parameters…and a pretty physical model of our camera. And the resulting images seem very realistic. While physically based rendering has now been around for some years, this mindset, ‘don’t fake it, do it correctly’ is only slowly beginning to take foot. I think we will be in for more surprises in the future.

The UI of Soyuz-TMA spaceship

Ever wondered what the User Interface for controlling a Soyuz-TMA spaceship looks like? Thanks to Astronaut.ru you can download a training program, used by the astronauts, as a DOS executable, run it with DOSBox and try your luck. This is what it’s like:


Source

Some of the strings in English:

ГОТОВО
Ready

НЕ ГОТОВО
Not Ready

Время
It is time.

НЕПТУН
NEPTUNE

БУДИЛЬНИК
Alarm

Тестирование MIL-1553
Testing MIL-1553

Статус
Status

БЗавершение операции
Operation Completed.

Here is the full list, or the instruction manual (Google Translate). The UI in action:


Source

Another screen shown running on the actual display:


Source

If you want to dive in more, Slava Gerovitch at MIT has published an extensive set of information on the Russian space program in English, this is a good start at the computer systems by Yurii Tiapchenko. The level of knowledge that has accumulated in this is just mind boggling.

Next level skateboarding

The best video I’ll see all day:

The outfit is not a put on, Richie lives the part. From the interview with him:

I feel sketched out wearing the currently-acceptable gear because I know that it’s toast in two years time. I know I’m going to look back and be, like, “Aw fuck. Why was I wearing that?” So instead, it’s probably self-preservation wearing all this ’70s shit because I’ve taken myself out of the stylistic loop. I’ve just kinda wrapped myself in a fossil that’s already fuckin’ lame and I can just hang out there. I think it’s an insulation against development and movement of skate fashion.

It’s also worth noting, if you can believe it, that he hasn’t been using wax in order to “prep” for better slides.

The last iOS vector resource you’ll ever need

Mercury.io:

You’re probably thinking, “I already use Facebook’s and/or Design+Code’s iOS 9 GUI document for Sketch. Why download another one?” Put simply, ours is better.

But there is more:

Along with an extensive collection of navigation bars, segmented controls, table views, keyboards, and other reusable system components to help you build iPhone app mockups more quickly and efficiently, this kit includes a near complete set of Apple’s system icons for navigation bars, toolbars, tab bars, activity sheets, quick actions, settings, and weather.

Seriously.

Our kit also includes a collection of over 80 recreated full-screen Apple system app screens to review, study, and reference. This is by far the largest resource of system apps you can find.

This is all true. Just click the link and you’ll have 78 mb large .sketch file on your desktop with all this. Amazing, meticulous and outstanding work, it’s like if Apple had released its iOS resources.

(I wish we had a similar file for OS X, too.)

The REAL reason Slack became a billion dollar company

Satya van Heummen:

“Yeah the power of slack is that if you don’t follow it all then time you’ve lost the conversation. So just Slack 24/7 and you’ll be fine :-D” / And then it hit me. This is what drives Slacks’ success. Because if you don’t follow Slack all the time you do not and cannot take part in the conversation with your team members anymore.

When it comes to team communication I’ve been using Slack for something like 2 years now and this is an adequate summary. Slack has completely changed the way we communicate within the team, email has been reduced to basically nothing.

If you have an active stream, it’s very easy to miss important messages, especially when you’re not directly @ referenced in the conversation. I try to read everything, it’s become my No.1 Twitter. I definitely pay more attention to @ mentions (but @here and @channel should have a different notification, they’re certainly less important than direct mentions).

I still think it’s way better than email. Emails are like regular postal mails with the additional benefit of immediate replies. I’m also a proponent of transparency within the team: even if you have something to discuss with someone, it’s way better to do it in one of the channels than in private messages. I’ve had experience in both styles and the pros clearly outweigh the cons.

Star Citizen Alpha 2.0

I’ve always wondered how you can actually start playing Star Citizen, what state the game is in. Here are two recent videos that explain the onboarding for newbies quite well, I recommend watching them both:

1. Star Citizen new player tutorial
2. Star Citizen Alpha tutorial and guide

You get to buy large ships!

The level of immersion is astounding. To recap, right now there is an “Area Commander” mode in the game, where you get to fly ships and dogfight against other players or AI. “Star Marine” is also a playable alpha component, here you get to play the FPS part which is basically just a sandboxed arena shooter with multiple game modes.

Later on there will be a single player story mode called Squadron 42, which is under development, and a persistent game world where everything comes together. Here you get to be whatever want to be and start building up your career, or as Chris Roberts say, “citizenship“.

Poochy Ain’t Stupid

Finally I was also able to beat this level. I’m not playing as good as this guy above, and I’m sure I’d spent so much more lives than he has, but today I was able to 100% the level. This warrants a blog post, right? 😀 What makes this level hard is the dog. You can’t control him, and it takes a while to understand the behaviour. Instead of the guy who named this level I think sometimes the dog can get stupid, ie. after the green Bullet Bill where you need to drop down on top of the dogs head and there is no way to make sure it’ll be where you want it to be.

Adventures with my laptop

Macrumors:

Apple has updated its vintage and obsolete products list with three new products: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010), and Xserve (Early 2009).

This means that these computers won’t get much hardware love from Apple. On the software side El Capitan can be installed on MacBook Pro’s as far back as Mid/Late 2007. These machines are more than 7 years of age. Since I have a fine MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011) model, I might run out on hardware parts soon, but I’ll be eligible for software updates for many, many years. This is good, because I plan to replace this fine computer when I won’t receive software updates any more. Here is a complete list on obsolete and vintage Apple hardware.

There is an interesting aside to my MacBook Pro, though. From this support article:

Apple has determined that a small percentage of MacBook Pro systems may exhibit distorted video, no video, or unexpected system restarts. These MacBook Pro systems were sold between February 2011 and December 2013. Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair affected MacBook Pro systems, free of charge.

Guess what, my computer is affected in all three problems, reproducing the secondary display black screen is the most easiest. I tried this two times at the office already, and the secondary display simply doesn’t work. Today I went to the Apple Store, but I can’t just go in there and have repairs, I need to book an appointment. Took some drooling looks at the gold Apple Watches before I left.

It will be interesting to see if I get free parts for this 5 year old machine, and for how many days will I need to go on without my laptop. That is probably the worst part, since I don’t have a secondary Mac at hand (this is my secondary laptop after all). For the curious, I haven’t received the company Mac yet, and if it’s up to me, I won’t, until the new Skylake Retina MacBook Pros are updated later this year.

update 03/12: went to the store, test ran fine, took drooling looks at the gold watches on my way out.

Thoughts on the full Aperture Robot Repair Vive VR Demo

The video answers what Valve is up to these days. They’re doing VR stuff. I’m sure Half Life 3 will be out supporting this format.

Which, I guess, I don’t mind, but I’m still not sure if I want to experience games this way only. This technology is definitely hot and, based on accounts who’d played this demo above, runs at a framerate where it immerses you. Yet, I’m not convinced.

My question is whether I’ll be able to play the game the conventional way, where I don’t have to “motion control” the game. My only experience of games this kind was playing Skyward Sword on the Nintendo Wii. There were points where I had to wave my hands at certain points to advance in the game. It was sort of “ok”, but I’m sure the whole gameplay experience would have been the same without it.

Here you need to move your head constantly. You need to explore spaces, have two dingus in your hand and wave them constantly. You’ll need to have a designated space in your apartment to be able to play otherwise you’ll end up accidentally destroying your living room. (Remember when the Wii was out and there had been all these reports on broken controllers and TV sets? And it was only a controller. This one is two of these kinds, plus you don’t see anything in your real world.)

I’m worried that the next Portal game will be released only for this very expensive hardware.

Mapillary raises $8M to take on Google’s Street View with crowdsourced photos

TechCrunch:

A startup out of Malmo, Sweden called Mapillary is using crowdsourced photos to create an open source, B2B database to compete with Google’s Street View, and today the company announced a Series A round of funding from an impressive list of backers to help make that ambition a reality.

The $8 million from Atomico, Sequoia, LDV Capital, and PlayFair will be used to expand operations outside of its home base of Malmo, including a new office in San Francisco, and also to hire more staff, such as computer vision engineers to supercharge the kind of data that can been gleaned from Mapillary’s image library.

Fantastic news to come to work to.

Maintaining colors in your Google documents

Let’s pick a color:

Not very useful, because later on I will never know what particular shade of gray did I use in my document from this very picker. There had been a number of occasions where I’d try to guesswork the color I’d used, since I want my document to be consistent.

I like the rich palette in general, but what if it had a section that read: “Colors in your document” and it’d populate automatically. You can get to a similar behaviour by using the “Custom” colors for this, but it’s just exactly one step more than what most people want and you can’t set default colors as custom colors (more on this later). Most people want to 1) select some colors for their document 2) next time they’re there, see their used colors in the document.

How do I know this? Because of all the years I’d been using Google Docs, there was never a single occasion where I’d define a custom color or saw someone else do it. Never. Even though I’d spent countless of minutes wasted on trying to find the color I’d used for highlights, it has never occured to me to define colors for a document. For two reasons: first, I’m not exclusively using GDocs. I’m using different software and different software tend to have different solutions for this. Second, when you’re doing actual work, you just can’t be bothered with defining custom colors.

One more thing: if you define a custom color in GDocs, make sure you actually are using a different color from the base palette, because if you tried to set a custom color of the base palette it will not get defined. Good luck with finding your used gray.