Weekend Reads (Apr 16): Commodore 64s, Web Renaissance, Twitter, Broadcast Reissues, Gilbert Gottfried
Recommended weekend reading material for April 16, 2022.
Every week, I compile a list of interesting and thought-provoking articles to offer you some enjoyable weekend reading material.
My family’s first computer was a Commodore 64 (or more precisely, a Commodore SX-64, which was the “portable” version). So of course, I’m going to share this in-depth look at the Commodore 64’s creation, including all of the technical hurdles that its engineers had to overcome.
At a meeting with Charpentier and Winterble late that month, Jack Tramiel, then president of Commodore, decided not to proceed with the video game. Instead, he decided, the chips would go into a 64-kilobyte home computer to be introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the second week of January 1982. The computer had yet to be designed, but that was easily remedied.
In two days, the engineers laid out on paper the machine’s basic architecture. Just before the new year, they completed five working prototypes. In the meantime, enough operating-system software was copied and rewritten from the VIC-20 to give passable demonstrations of what the new machine could do. Following its enthusiastic reception at the Consumer Electronics Show, the Commodore 64 was rushed into production; volume shipments began in August 1982 and have continued unabated.
Via 1440. This piece was originally published in March of 1985, making it a fascinating slice of computer history.
I’ve said this before, but there’s something magical about these older computers. Obviously, they pale in comparison to today’s machines — heck, even my iPhone is many orders of magnitude more powerful than that old SX-64 — but they feel groundbreaking and futuristic in a way that today’s machines, for all of their advancements, don’t.
Amy Wibowo’s “Home Sweet Homepage” is a delightful comic that perfectly captures what it was like to make your very first homepage. My first homepage wasn’t about ladybugs, Tamagotchi, or Sailor Moon — it was for an imaginary band — but I totally experienced that same sense of magic and discovery. (I even saved the entire thing on a 3.5” floppy, too.) Via Frontend Focus.
Anil Dash sees a renaissance of sorts happening with regards to the open web, not the siloed web that comes to mind courtesy of Meta/Facebook and other tech giants.
[T]he entire ecosystem has seen that there’s no safety in being subject to the whims of the tech giants. Some don’t like having to pay to promote their content online. Some don’t like being deranked by capricious algorithms. Some don’t like being on a treadmill of constantly trying to optimize for search engines. Some don’t like being on platforms that promoted hate or abuse. Everyone has something that frustrates them.
On your own site, though, under your own control, you can do things differently. Build the community you want. I'm not a pollyanna about this; people are still going to spend lots of times on the giant tech platforms, and not everybody who embraces the open web is instantly going to become some huge hit. Get your own site going, though, and you’ll have a sustainable way of being in control of your own destiny online.
The Elon Musk/Twitter saga continues… Instead of becoming a member of Twitter’s board on account of his recent stock purchase, Musk has offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion in cash. Musk claims his primary reason for doing so is to protect free speech, but ironically, his ownership could complicate things for Twitter.
Far from being better equipped to protect free speech, a Musk-owned Twitter might be in a weaker position than a publicly owned one. Musk’s involvement in numerous other industries — including telecommunications with Starlink, space travel with SpaceX, and cars with Tesla — would give regulators and politicians added leverage to pressure Twitter with. This kind of leverage has already been a powerful weapon against heavily vertically integrated companies like Apple, which has complied with Chinese censorship and surveillance requests to avoid losing access to a massive market for its hardware. Musk’s businesses have the extra wrinkle of often involving government contracts and subsidies — the sort of deal that a high-profile moderation fight might put at risk.
Just remember, no matter who owns Twitter, it’s not your platform. Not really. They ultimately control if, when, and how your content is presented. If you want to have a platform that’s under your control, then best have your own website.
Related: In this lengthy Twitter thread, former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong discusses the complexities of online free speech and managing a massive social network — and why Musk will be “in for a world of pain” if he takes over Twitter.
I’m always intrigued by the list of software and hardware that other developers use. (There used to be a really cool website where developers shared their setups, but I can’t find it anymore.) If I were ever to compile such a list, BBEdit would be right at the top of the list. I use it every single day, whether I’m coding, writing a story or blog post, or jotting down some notes — and it celebrated its 30th birthday this week.
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried — known for his raunchy humor and distinctive voice — died earlier this week from a form of muscular dystrophy. He was 67 years old. Tributes have poured in from the likes of Jason Alexander, Mark Hamill, Jon Stewart, Judd Apatow, and Tiffany Haddish.
Vaughn Smith can speak over thirty languages with varying levels of fluency, including Spanish, Russian, Finnish, Italian, Irish Gaelic, Amharic, Japanese, Lakota, and Welsh. But what’s more impressive is why he’s learned so many languages.
He’s bouncing as he talks about all the connections he made in a single day with the researchers and the strangers he’d introduced himself to in a coffee shop. All the people who were, as he would say, “hit with a splash of happiness.” This is what I’d discovered getting to know Vaughn: By putting in the effort to learn someone’s language, you’re showing them that you value who they truly are.
Jesse Locke dives into the music of Broadcast, an electronic music group that emerged in the mid ’90s and released a series of truly unique albums before the untimely death of their lead singer, Trish Keenan, in 2011.
Formed by the duo of Trish Keenan and James Cargill, the cult Birmingham band Broadcast — who first beamed into this world in 1995 — experienced constant line-up changes throughout their 20 years of activity, becoming more experimental as they went on, but never severing their connections to pop. Across three distinct eras, Broadcast evolved from chiming, ’60s-inspired rock into ghostly retro-futuristic electronic music, before finally metamorphosing into the hauntological sound collages of their work with The Focus Group.
Police around the country have resorted to an unusual tactic to combat being recorded and placed on YouTube: playing copyrighted music (like Disney songs) in the hopes that any such videos will be blocked and taken down.
Police in other cities have been recorded playing copyrighted music in an effort to prevent videos of them from hitting YouTube and other social media sites, which can remove content containing unauthorized materials. In June, a sheriff’s deputy in Oakland, Calif., played Taylor Swift’s 2014 single “Blank Space” as activists filmed him in an attempt to keep it from being uploaded to YouTube. Instead, the clip remained online and went viral.
As other commenters have noted, have the police considered that such usage of copyrighted material might constitute a public performance? That might come with some legal issues all its own.
The gubernatorial race here in Nebraska took a darker turn after eight women, including a Republican state senator, accused frontrunner Charles Herbster of groping them. Herbster, of course, denies the allegations, claiming they’re political. But as Rachael Denhollander points out, that doesn’t matter.
IF the disclosure is true, the information is true. If abuse happened or mistakes were made, those facts are not altered one iota by someone else’s motivation for raising the issue.
We have to deal with what is true. What is true and how we respond is in our control and is our responsibility. Period. Choosing to focus on motivations to minimize or excuse true issues is deflection and blame shifting. If something is true, it is true. If it was wrong, it is wrong. Our job is to hold to what is true, take responsibility for what was done wrong, and accept those consequences.
Finally, are Christians somehow primed to believe in conspiracy theories?
Matthew’s account also offers a reason why Christians might be inclined to embrace conspiracy theories: Since Easter morning, certain forces at work in the world have attempted to obscure the most basic truth of the gospel. From the beginning, the world has been developing an alternate history in which Christ is not resurrected.
Consequently, our Christian identity has accustomed us to the idea that the truth is something not everyone will accept or follow. We become habituated to a disconnect between what we accept as the truth and what the world at large accepts as such.
From the Blog
Everything Everywhere All at Once is a trippy, mind-bending trip through a sci-fi multiverse, and an acting showcase for the talents of Michelle Yeoh, better known for her action roles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Supercop. But the movie has a lot more on its mind than that.
Everything Everywhere All at Once inspires a lot of thoughts because it juggles a lot of things: sci-fi comedy, existential melodrama, immigrant struggles, family dysfunctions. It’s maximalist cinema par excellence, a perfect example of an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to filmmaking made by a very passionate, creative, and unconventional crew. It’s ambitious and bizarre, raunchy and deeply moving, nonsensical and thought-provoking — and totally unlike anything else you’re likely to see all year long.
Click here to read my full review.
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