Housekeeping

I haven’t been around these parts for some time. Before I dazzle and amaze the world with more half-baked opinion and color, here’s a little summary of what I’ve been up to.

Say hello to one of the world’s first x86 Intel-powered smartphones. My review of the Orange San Diego — essentially a reference design created by Intel as a testbed before it tries to make it big in mobile.

The Optimus L7 surprised me. LG showed a mature, subtle restrained touch in both hardware and UI design that I’ve never seen from the company before. Is it a good phone? No; but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

My LG Optimus 3D Max review will explain my surprise.

Sony Xperia P review. I’m tired of creating a narrative now.

I got way too excited about this real-life Zombie game.

And fell in love with Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia.

I feel cheap and tacky for spamming links. It won’t happen again — this is as much for me as it is for you.

The stock Android gallery app is storing lists of full addresses unencrypted

This is a labor of love. Hope you like it.Clarification in reply to comments on the article:

“One thing that quite a few commenters don’t seem to appreciate: There were no photos on my device. The street addresses listed were from Picasa Web Albums marked as ‘private.’ They were synced at one point, but had been removed at least a week prior to the discovery. This isn’t data that could be gathered even if someone had my device in their hands, and a ton of time. Not without the chunk_0 file, at least.”

One man wants to end viral infections once and for all… by making them commit suicide

I wish I had something insightful to say about this, but Jesse Hicks is just the god of original reporting.

Read this. Then, click his byline, read everything he’s written for The Verge, and be amazed.

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator

I just read Jamie Keene’s excellent article on Brandon Generator, a crowd-sourced story project by Edgar Wright and Tommy Lee Edwards.

It’s a film noir-inspired story written by Edgar Wright — the man behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Spaced — that follows the story of Brandon Generator, a comic book artist with a terrible case of writer’s block. The artwork comes from illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards, famous for his work on the Batman, Hellboy, and Marvel 1985 comics. Narration comes courtesy of Julian Barratt, one half of The Mighty Boosh.

The first episode sets up the premise perfectly. Brandon is a struggling, tortured writer who spends his days with his Nespresso machine and a blank laptop screen. On drinking his 13th espresso of the day, he blacks out. After waking, he’s shocked to find text on his laptop, drawings on his sketchpad, and messages on his dictaphone. Turns out he wasn’t completely asleep.. or was he?

As the episode ends, you’re invited to take a look around Brandon’s room, and that’s where the game begins. Wright wants you, the reader, to leave text, sketches, and voice recordings that will help shape the story that will be in the next episode.

Wright already has the story arc planned out — but it’s down to you to provide the details

Forget the tie-in with Microsoft on this project, it’s just a lot of fun.

How to work across three devices, seamlessly

If you haven’t found it by yourself already, Paul Miller’s Verge at Work feature on managing ideas is an enlightening read. There’s a great little video that accompanies the article as well.

My ultimate concept here is that whenever I have an idea, I can easily record it, and whenever I want to write I have easy access to my ideas.

 

I tend to write directly into a CMS, occasionally falling back on TextEdit, or using Google Docs for collaborative projects. Miller’s article makes me feel dumb. There are times when I feel chained to my laptop — if I’m writing something longer than a few hundred words, I’d like to be able to step away, review what I’ve written and work out what needs to be changed or reworked. I simply don’t have that flexibility using a CMS, GDocs, or any single text editing service.

The Miller method is ridiculously simple. One app, Simplenote, to note ideas on his iPhone; another app, Notational Velocity, to manage and expand those ideas when on the Mac; and an iPad app, Plaintext, to comfortably review and make copy edits.

The apps sync with each other, behaving like one, seamless writing experience. The system is held together by Simplenote’s backend, with a few missing ends tied up by Dropbox. The genius at work here is the freedom of it all — Miller also highlights other apps that he uses, which all fit into his system without the need for any major changes.

At some point since Google Docs freed us from Word and Pages, this revolution happened, and I missed it. I can now have my pick from a large group of applications, and have them all play nice. Perhaps i’m just behind the times, but that’s a beautiful thought.

This was written entirely in a CMS. I didn’t learn a thing.

Do something right, or don’t do it at all

Spotify launched a new feature today: music embeds for your website, blog, or Tumblr. Sounds neat, right? Great to see an embedding service that will see the artists get (some) royalties each time a track is played.

Well…

The only catch, if it’s not completely obvious, is that you’ll need the free Spotify app on your computer or mobile device in order to play music using the new widgets.

Okay, so, I need Spotify installed, and I have to be a member. That’s not ideal.

Spotify thinks of Play as a “remote control” for its apps — a shortcut button that starts playing music inside the Spotify app on your computer as soon as you click it.

So, it’s not an embed. It’s a link that opens up an application, just like the regular Spotify links that have been around for years. The only difference is you now have a pause button within the website, just in case the one inside the application, or on your keyboard, wasn’t convenient enough. This sort of “me too” approach to music embeds will please no one.

Why can’t Spotify just measure the amount of plays each track receives and distribute the royalties accordingly? I understand it wants users to use its application, but this is not the way to go about it.

If you’re not going to do something properly, why bother?