Via Kotaku, the Xenogears soundtrack is getting remastered. This was one of my favorite games, and one of the things I appreciated about it was the soundtrack. As much as I’d love to see the game itself also get some remastering love (maybe with a revisited second disc), this is also a welcome treat. The Japanese page has more information if you’re interested.
Kottke links to an article comparing time estimates between Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze by Artur Grabowski. The observations are interesting (if imperfect, as the author notes, since there were only so many variables he was able to control for): Waze tended to underestimate how long a trip would take, while Apple Maps tended to overestimate. As Artur notes, this has an impact on the user experience:
For Apple, Maps is a basic solution for its average user who wants a maps solution out of the box. Apple Maps does not directly drive ad or subscription revenue for Apple so there is less reason for Apple to incentivize iOS users to use Apple Maps over other solutions. However, Apple does care about user experience, and sandbagging trip time estimates so that users arrive at their destination on time results in a great user experience. Hence, I believe that Apple is intentionally conservative with estimated arrival times.
At the other extreme, Waze (Alphabet) makes money through ads when you use their app. What better way to get people to use your navigation app than by over-promising short trip times when no one takes the time to record data and realize that you under-deliver? If an unsuspecting user opens Apple Maps and sees a 34-minute route and compares that to 30-minutes in Waze, the deed is done. Now Waze has a life-long customer who doesn’t realize they’ve been hoodwinked and Waze can throw at them stupidly annoying ads.
That’s the thing: advertising definitely impacts user experience, and it’s often in more subtle ways than just product placement or overt advertising. It can impact how designers and developers think about what they’re building, and what they choose to focus on. You can see it elsewhere, too: think about the shift in newsfeeds away from a chronological feed and towards an algorithmic one. As Jason notes:
If that’s happening with your mapping app, just think of how your search results, Facebook newsfeed, and Instagram feed are manipulated to be more amenable to advertising.
Via Warren Ellis, Stowe Boyd has an article wondering Is Medium Following The Facebook Playbook? (It’s sort of ironic that the post is on Medium, but whatever.) This is written sort of in response to an interview with Matt Klinman by Sarah Aswell, How Facebook is Killing Comedy, which is also well worth your time to read.
Ev Williams, the founder and CEO of Medium, is actively discouraging the publication model that was what attracted a long list of publishers to the platform, which provided at least a few mechanisms for individual expression at the publication level: ordering of stories on the home page, recruiting contributions, and organizing by topics. Many of those publishers have left, or abandoned their publications. (I shut down Work Futures (workfutures.io) a few weeks ago, and departed for Substack and the recast Work Futures (workfutures.org).)
Now, Medium wants to manage all publishing and curation, with its own editorial staff and algorithms. A perfectly designed forest, as Klinsman suggests.
Via BoredPanda and Reddit, Guy Spends Almost A Year Gluing 42,000 Matches To Make A Giant Sphere, Sets It On Fire. Best giant matchstick globe burning you’ll see all day. If you don’t want to bother learning the math and planning behind it, here’s the video on Youtube:
Over at Medium, Nat Dudley has a nice (lengthy, well researched with clear examples) article, Be Kind, Design, based on a talk they recently gave. Worth some consideration.
You might be asking yourselves why we’re the ones who have to care about this. After all, everyone else is treating their customers poorly, so why should we be different.
It’s a matter of scale. Like Penalosa’s urgency for good urban design in cities, we need to care because our work has reach. The work we do is part of every industry on the planet. We are defining or redefining the interaction models for every part of society, and we’re doing it at a scale we’ve never experienced before. Changes we make can affect millions of people in seconds without their knowledge or consent. Decisions we make can reinforce existing power structures and biases, or they can break them down.
Over at Nieman Lab, Laura Hazard Owen has a nice interview with Jason Kottke about blogging, Last blog standing, “last guy dancing”. A salient bit:
There has to be room in our culture for that type of stuff — that stuff that is inspirational and aspirational — because it provides some sort of hope that we can actually have more of that in our lives, rather than less.
It’s like that quote from John Adams. I have it pulled up here. “I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
That’s a really interesting way to think about progress. Not everyone is going to be on that continuum at the same time, but I think the goal should be to get more people moving toward it.
Melissa McEwen asks Who Killed the Junior Developer? over on Medium. Or as I like to call it, “Why are industries so bad at thinking about the future?” If you don’t want an industry (whether you’re talking about software or automotive or energy or…) to fall afoul of being starved of senior expertise, then you have to think about cultivating new hires, so they can build that expertise. And that means spending time training and mentoring. Will that sometimes be abused by people taking that training and then leaving? Yeah, sometimes. But so what? Where do you think your new mid-range (or senior!) developer learned their trade?
Melissa actually mentions the job hopping, and makes a good point:
I’m not sure what the industry-wide solution is. I’m not sure whether companies that lack junior devs are unbalanced or smart. The reality is that most software developers don’t stay one place very long, so maybe it doesn’t make sense to invest a lot in training someone? Or maybe the industry should ask itself why people keep hopping jobs? Maybe it’s because a lot of them suck, or for a lot of us it’s the only way to advance our salary. I can either wait for a stupid, meaningless yearly “performance review” to bump me up 1% or take my resume and interview elsewhere and get 10% or more.
It’s not just a sign that an individual company is broken, it’s a sign the entire industry is broken.
Yep. If you weren’t on a track for your entire life (going to the “right” schools, then getting the “right” internship), even getting a foot in the door in the software industry feels more like a lottery than a job hunt.
Some of the more old-school amongst us might remember Palm OS, and some of the experiments done around the late 90s. Someone built a… thing. Not really an emulator, but sort of an homage/recreation, at palm.computer. Explore it, feel the pain, feel the joy. Note the attention to the little details, like the bizarre rendering patterns, and the artifacts in the sponsored content videos. This is clearly a labor of love.
Over at the Verge, This is How the World’s Most Covetable Cameras Get Made is a delightful photo tour through Hasselblad’s offices in Sweden. At $12,000 just to start with one of their cameras, I don’t anticipate getting one any time soon, but I’ll totally admit they’re lustworthy.