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April 2019

  1. The Final Girls

    Watched 25 April 2019

    I was pleasantly surprised by how genuinely funny and creatively consistent this movie is — and it’s clear that everyone was having fun while making it. Pretty great!

  2. The Hitman’s Bodyguard

    Watched 25 April 2019

    You can tell that they tried (most of the time), but it’s not as sharp as it clearly thinks it is. Also, they shouldn’t have let Ryan Reynolds pick all the songs.

  3. There are a few CSS techniques for hiding content visually while keeping it accessible to screen readers, but none of them are perfect — and in some cases may even be harmful.

    @zellwk has put together a great round-up of the issues.

  4. Freedom
    inessential.com

    Brent Simmons:

    In a way, it feels like iOS devices are rented, not owned. This is not a criticism: I’m totally fine with that. It’s appropriate for something so very mass-market and so very much built for a networked world.

    But what about Macs?

    Macs carry the flame for the revolution. They’re the computers we own, right? They’re the astounding, powerful machines that we get to master.

    Except that lately, it feels more and more like we’re just renting Macs too, and they’re really Apple’s machines, not ours.

  5. How Recommendation Algorithms Run the World
    wired.com

    Zeynep Tufekci:

    Deep down, behind every “people like you” recommendation is a computational method for distilling stereotypes through data. Even when these methods work, they can help entrench the stereotypes they’re mobilizing. They might easily recommend books about coding to boys and books about fashion to girls, simply by tracking the next most likely click. Of course, that creates a feedback cycle: If you keep being shown coding books, you’re probably more likely to eventually check one out.

  6. Escape Room

    Watched 22 April 2019

    Fun to watch and kinda cool in a sort of childish, cartoony way. I wish it had learned even further in that direction.

  7. Hold the Dark

    Watched 20 April 2019

    So enamored with the poetry of its own subtext that it fails to make the actual text engaging. The slow, painful lingering is fitting, but at some point it’s too much and there’s not much else there to balance it out — even the action sequences seem drawn out. Starts out pensive, ends up boring. Still, there’s an interesting story there if you can catch it being mumbled at you.

  8. Tower Heist

    Watched 21 April 2019

    Soulless and devoid of artistry. It’s built around social commentary but never in an honest or insightful way — there’s a constant tinge of disdain for the issues it tries to build jokes around. As it goes through the motions of its terrible boilerplate script it is never truly funny or surprising; the most it can muster is being face-palm stupid when it goes for the focus group-approved absurdist humor.

    (I thought it was bad.)

  9. I was just reminiscing about this a few days ago. Nine years later, @lorenb’s Twitter for iPad is still unmatched. Devices are now several times more powerful, yet the experience of using Twitter on the original iPad is the best we ever got.

  10. Apple owes everyone an apology and it should start with me, specifically
    theoutline.com

    Casey Johnston’s butterfly keyboard saga continues:

    I dread the Overton window shift that Apple now appears to be attempting to push, which is that its customers and their crumbs and dust and bad habits are to blame, and should bend themselves around the “sensitive” keyboard, keep canned air (not supplied by Apple itself) on hand at all times, as if this is a problem we’ve always had, and not one Apple singlehandedly created with a nearsighted design.

    My 2014 MacBook Pro is still going strong, thankfully. (Knock on wood.)

  11. Advice to a Young Me
    craigmod.com

    Craig Mod:

    At 23 I was obsessed with minimizing recurring costs of living. They felt like poison to me.

    Obsessing over minimized cost of living has a light-touch hint of Thoreau to it: the calculating, the measuring, the valuing of time.

    “House: $28.12 ½; Farm one year: $14.72 ½ …” and on and on Thoreau wrote in Walden. “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediate or in the long run.”

    Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism devotes a chapter to Thoreau. My favorite quote though is from Frédéric Gros on Thoreau’s processes: “[Thoreau] says: keep calculating, keep weighing. What exactly do I gain or lose?”

  12. Why Vlambeer’s Co-Founder Thinks Mobile Games Market is Broken
    variety.com

    Brian Crecente talks to Rami Ismail about why traditional game development is broken on iOS:

    “I’m here to make video games,” he said. “I’m not here to fix somebody else’s problems. Our users? Absolutely. If they have a bug and it’s our fault, we’ll fix it. But having made a game in 2013 and then the platform going, ‘It’s broken now,’ That would be like if somebody went and updated like the internet and now all text is right to left. That’s how it feels to me. It’s like we made a game, so now we’re getting punished for it.”

    Apple has created a very inviting — but ultimately hostile — platform for games. There’s no malice there, they just don’t care about legacy software as much as they care about pushing things forward.

    Video games have historically been extremely well preserved, yet some older iOS games seem to be gone forever. This ephemerality is unprecedented; it’s not just bad for game developers, it really feels like a big part of gaming history is being erased.

  13. A Website is a Car and Not a Book
    css-tricks.com

    Robin Rendle:

    Anyway, I asked Lindsay that question: what is it about web design that makes it so difficult to understand? She posited that the issue is that most people believe web design is like designing a book. Heck, we still call these things web pages. But Lindsay argued that building a modern website is nothing like designing a book; it’s more like designing a car.

  14. CSS masonry with flexbox, :nth-child(), and order
    tobiasahlin.com

    Tobias Ahlin:

    On the surface it seems fairly easy to create a masonry layout with flexbox; all you need to do is set flex-flow to column wrap` and voilà, you have a masonry layout. Sort of. The problem with this approach is that it produces a grid with a seemingly shuffled and obscure order. Items will be (unbeknownst to the user) rendered from top to bottom and someone parsing the grid from left to right will read the boxes in a somewhat arbitrary order, for example 1, 3, 6, 2, 4, 7, 8, 5, and so on so forth.

    Flexbox has no easy way of rendering items with a column layout while using a row order, but we can build a masonry layout with CSS only—no JavaScript needed—by using :nth-child() and the order property.

    This is very clever — an actually helpful use of order that helps visual order more accurately follow source order.

    But there’s a catch: it requires a fixed height for the container — and it needs to be a magic number that’s taller than the tallest column. That unfortunately makes it not super resilient to content changes, limiting its usefulness.

  15. All you need to know about hyphenation in CSS
    clagnut.com

    Richard Rutter:

    There is more to setting hyphenation than just turning on the hyphens. The CSS Text Module Level 4 has introduced the same kind of hyphenation controls provided in layout software (eg. InDesign) and some word processors (including Word). These controls provide different ways to define how much hyphenation occurs through your text.

    This is great news. I’ve always avoided CSS hyphenation because of how aggressive the algorithms are. Using these new properties in concert with @supports we can get well-controlled hyphenation as a progressive enhancement while avoiding the half-baked hyper-hyphenated middle ground we’ve had so far.

  16. Accessibility Events
    css-tricks.com

    Mat Marquis:

    It could seem like an enticing option for our users, at first glance: an enhanced, fully-featured website, on the one hand, a fully accessible alternative experience on the other. That unravels with even the slightest examination, though: if the fully-featured website isn’t accessible, the accessible website won’t be fully featured. By choosing to have the “accessible experience” deviate from the “real website,” we end up drawing a sharper line between those two definitions, and we nudge the “accessible experience” closer to an afterthought—limited and frustratingly out-of-sync with the “real” website, like so many dedicated mobile sites quickly became.

  17. Split
    adactio.com

    Jeremy Keith:

    Where it gets interesting is when a technology that’s designed for developer convenience is made out of the very materials being delivered to users. For example, a CSS framework like Bootstrap is made of CSS. That’s different to a tool like Sass which outputs CSS. Whether or not a developer chooses to use Sass is irrelevant to the user—the final output will be CSS either way. But if a developer chooses to use a CSS framework, that decision has a direct impact on the user experience. The user must download the framework in order for the developer to get the benefit.

    So whereas Sass sits at the back of the front end—where I don’t care what you use—Bootstrap sits at the front of the front end. For tools like that, I don’t think saying “use whatever works for you” is good enough. It’s got to be weighed against the cost to the user.

  18. The History of Video
    youtube.com

    Veritasium:

    This is a video I’ve long wanted to make, about what makes video look like video and, up until 10 years ago or so, not as appealing as film. I grew up with the two technologies (film and video) in parallel and to me they always seemed like two ways of achieving the same ends: recording and replaying moving images. But their histories are quite distinct. Film was always a way to capture moving images for later replaying. Video started out as a way to transfer images from one place to another instantaneously.

  19. How the Web Became Unreadable
    wired.com

    Kevin Marks:

    There’s a widespread movement in design circles to reduce the contrast between text and background, making type harder to read. Apple is guilty. Google is, too. So is Twitter.

    My plea to designers and software engineers: Ignore the fads and go back to the typographic principles of print — keep your type black, and vary weight and font instead of grayness. You’ll be making things better for people who read on smaller, dimmer screens, even if their eyes aren’t aging like mine. It may not be trendy, but it’s time to consider who is being left out by the web’s aesthetic.

  20. Perceived Velocity through Version Numbers
    daverupert.com

    Dave Rupert thinks version number bumps would be a good move for HTML and CSS, marketing-wise. I agree!

    A single number bump replaces a mountain of marketing. Every discerning technologist knows it only makes sense to invest in technologies that are moving forward. To invest in a stagnant technology would be a dereliction of duty.

    I think this has effected web technologies deeply. HTML5 was released in 2008 and its handful of new elements and APIs was a boom for the language. Even Steve Jobs advocated for it over Flash. Web Standards had won, Firefox and Webkit were our champions. “We need to upgrade to HTML5” was a blanket excuse for auditing your website and cleaning up your codebase.

  21. Defining Productivity
    jeremy.codes

    Jeremy Wagner:

    It’s easy to slap something up on a web server, but it’s quite another to be a steward of it in a way that makes the web a better place. That starts with redefining our productivity with the goal of serving the interests of others instead of our own.

  22. Love, Death & Robots, Season 1

    Watched 27 March 2019

    There is only one episode that actually delivers on what I was hoping for, combining great animation with stylish art direction and exploring cool, mature themes: Zima Blue.

    There are four of five others that aren’t plain edgelord teenager bullshit, but they’re nothing to write home about.

  23. ‘Game of Thrones’: The Last Show We Watch Together?
    vulture.com

    Matt Zoller Seitz:

    TV doesn’t feel the same when you watch it that way. It’s more of a solitary experience, no matter how many fellow fans discuss it with you on social media. And it necessarily reduces the level of excitement surrounding a season or series finale because the show has been deprived of that measured pace of one episode per week, with six days of contemplation and anticipation in between each chapter, all leading inexorably to that last run of episodes during which the fans, who’ve spent years living and breathing this thing, come to terms with the totality of the accomplishment, and ready themselves for the exquisite and horrible moment when the storytellers swing that sword at our necks and the birds take flight and the credits roll for the last time.

  24. Glass

    Watched 4 April 2019

    This is the superhero equivalent of a zombie movie where the characters keep saying the word “zombie” all the time.

    The writing here is even worse than Split. The core plot device (what Sarah Paulson spends most of the movie doing) simply doesn’t work! It never felt the least bit believable. It’s a premise completely at odds with Shyamalan’s direction in the previous films, what he’s been showing us this whole time. It doesn’t work for the viewer, and it shouldn’t have worked for the characters — which makes it a double-whammy of dumb. This is, of course, all done in favor of a big twist (and, in my case, a big sigh).

    I really might have to revisit Unbreakable, which I thought was cool however many years ago I watched it. I’m hoping it holds up.

  25. Split

    Watched 3 April 2019

    Have Shyamalan’s films always been this shallow? Nothing feels real outside the very narrow confines of what is happening. Dialogue is often poor, with way too much “as you know, Bob” going on. And all the buildup fell flat for me — I was neither shocked nor emotionally invested. I guess I’d better not rewatch Unbreakable, or risk disappointment.

  26. Us

    Watched 29 March 2019

    Very weird and cool and artsy, but also funny — and it all fits together perfectly. I liked how subversive the plot structure felt; I often had no idea where it was going to go next, and that made for a really great experience. I went in completely blind, and it paid off quite handsomely. I watched the trailer afterwards, and boy is it spoilery! Don’t watch trailers, kids.

    It’s impressive how strongly this film pairs with Get Out. They’re certainly different, but there’s a clear style forming. Jordan Peele is carving out a really cool niche for himself.

  27. Yet Another JavaScript Framework
    css-tricks.com

    Great writing on this well-researched story, by Jason Hoffman:

    At first glance, the bug appeared to be fairly routine, most likely a small problem somewhere in the website’s code or a strange coincidence. After just a few hours though, it became clear that the stakes for this one particular bug were far graver than anyone could have anticipated. If Firefox were to release this version of their browser as-is, they risked breaking an unknown, but still predictably rather large number of websites, all at once. Why that is has everything to do with the way MooTools was built, where it drew influence from, and the moment in time it was released. So to really understand the problem, we’ll have to go all the way back to the beginning.

  28. What the Theranos Documentary Misses
    newrepublic.com

    Avi Asher-Schapiro makes some good points about The Inventor that I failed to consider:

    Missing from the film, however, is any sustained effort to understand how Theranos interacted with the larger economic and social forces that nurtured it. In the hands of Gibney, the rise and fall of Theranos is reduced to a sort of personality puzzle, driven by the banal questions like: What was Elizabeth Holmes thinking? Is she a liar? How could seemingly competent investors be so misled?

    That’s a shame, because the story of Theranos is so much more than that. At its root, it’s a parable that cuts to the central dysfunctions in the American economic and political order, one that should dismantle our notions of meritocracy and put a strict limit on our forbearance for elites. It illuminates how the rich and well connected occupy different strata of life, enjoy a completely different set of opportunities from the rest of us, experience a different kind of justice, and are so often immune from consequences. Though the film gives some glimpses of these dynamics, they are always in the background, shadowed by other far less compelling narrative impulses.

  29. Dev perception
    adactio.com

    Jeremy Keith:

    It’s relatively easy to write and speak about new technologies. You’re excited about them, and there’s probably an eager audience who can learn from what you have to say.

    It’s trickier to write something insightful about a tried and trusted (perhaps even boring) technology that’s been around for a while. You could maybe write little tips and tricks, but I bet your inner critic would tell you that nobody’s interested in hearing about that old tech. It’s boring.

    The result is that what’s being written about is not a reflection of what’s being widely used.