miniver

Turns out ‘Microsoft Windows’ has the Same Meter as ‘Miniver Cheevy’

(with apologies to Edward Arlington Robinson)

Microsoft Windows, child of scorn,    Grew lean while he assailed the seasons; He wept that he was ever born,    And he had reasons. Microsoft loved the days of old    When swords were bright and steeds were prancing; The vision of a warrior bold    Would set him dancing. Mirosoft sighed for what was not,    And dreamed, and rested from his labors;… read more

A mascot dressed as a character from the mobile game "Candy Crush Saga" walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the IPO of Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment Plc March 26, 2014.    REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES  - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENTERTAINMENT)   - RTR3IO03

The Logic Behind the Sky-High Candy Crush Deal

In its seemingly exorbitant purchase of the popular app’s creator, Activision Blizzard is just playing the game.

The fact that Activision Blizzard bought Candy Crush creator King Digital startled people less than the sheer size of the deal: $5.9 billion. As many noted, that’s almost $2 billion more than Disney paid for either Marvel or Lucasfilm. It’s more than twice the $2.5 billion Microsoft paid for Minecraft maker Mojang, a property that feels like it has more long-term staying power… read more

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The Internet of Things You Don’t Really Need

Smart devices turn every industry into the computer industry, and dupe consumers into thinking their lives are better for it in the process.

Atlanta turns yellow for two weeks in April. Streets, driveways, terraces, cars—everything cakes with pollen. It’s the trees that cause the worst of it. Pine, oak, sweet gum, sycamore, mulberry, hackberry, birch, willow. Prolific itching, sneezing, and car-washing ensue. Grilling season officially begins when the pollen subsides. This year’s was particularly grievous, and perhaps that’s why I was so eager… read more

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A Master Key to the Ultimate Dumb Device

The future of the iPhone could be a way of tethering people to Apple products even when they don't want them anymore.

Lock-in. That's what we call it when you're dependent on a specific vendor for particular services. When you buy a single-serving coffee machine boasting convenient, mess-free coffee inserts, like Keurig K-Cup or Nespresso, you're bound to its brand of coffee pods. When you purchase digital music on iTunes, proprietary formats and digital rights management (DRM) make it difficult to listen… read more

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You Are Mountain

A strange video game from the Her animator bests Spike Jonze's film at depicting what a relationship with an alien really would be like.

Near the start of his relationship with a computer operating system in Spike Jonze’s Academy Award-winning film Her, Samantha the OS (Scarlett Johansson) helps Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) play a videogame. Called “Alien Child” by the filmmakers, the game seems familiar enough to be plausible to viewers, yet foreign enough to induce estrangement. The same could be said of the film’s high-waisted… read more

OAuth of Fealty

Resignation beyond sorrow on the Facebook Platform and beyond

In recent weeks, Facebook has been sending emails imploring me to complete a survey about how they might improve their development platform. I’d been deleting the messages, but after the third request or so, I decided to click through. For those lucky enough to have avoided it, the Facebook Platform is a set of tools and services that allows developers… read more

The Great Pretender

Turing as a Philosopher of Imitation

It’s hard to overestimate Alan Turing’s contributions to contemporary civilization. To mathematics, he contributed one of two nearly simultaneous proofs about the limits of first-order logic. In cryptography he devised an electromechanical device that decoded German Enigma machine’s signals during World War II, an accomplishment that should also be counted as a contribution to twentieth century warfare and politics. In… read more

Innovative Leisure

An exhibition of new games for the Atari

I’m curating an exhibit of new Atari games at Babycastles, which opens this Sunday, November 13th. It’s called Innovative Leisure (a term I lifted from an early Atari slogan) and will take place at a new art games arcade at Death By Audio. The show exhibits games by Sonny Ray Tempest, Ed Fries, and Simon Quernhost. The event starts at… read more

What’s in a Medium?

A response to Mike Thomsen

The New Inquiry published a review by Michael Thomsen of my latest book How to Do Things With Videogames. It’s just the kind of review an author hopes for: fair, thoughtful, based on a thorough reading, and full of new ideas and observations. I’m grateful to Thomsen for writing it. Thomsen raises an objection that I’ve been waiting for and… read more

Mission Uncritical

Facebook and Software Architecture

I’ve been thinking about software architecture lately, mostly as a result of continuing to suffer at the hands of Facebook’s horrific platform and API. For those who haven’t tried to use it, Facebook’s platform is notoriously atrocious. It’s badly documented and doesn’t always do what the documentation says. It breaks regularly. It rolls out changes without notice. The entire architecture… read more