May 2024 Web Links

News Related Wikipedia Drama (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia talk pages are always an interesting place, but this one is a pretty interesting discussion, because it gets at the heart of Wikipedia’s role in our evolving Truth landscape.

AI Is Breaking Google (Better Offline Podcast)

A conversation about the ludicrous ‘AI summary’ feature that google debuted recently. The juiciest bit of gossip is that the SEO community has been playing with the feature for a year prior to release and thought for sure that Google wouldn’t release it in that form because it was so busted… and they just up and did it!

Intro contains a cogent explanation of why Google’s latest move is so bad for the web and web users. If anyone has an alternate search engine they’re planning on launching, best to strike while the iron is hot!

The Batsh*t [sic] Software Aphex Twin Used (YouTube / The Flashbulb)

The Flashbulb (yes, that The Flashbulb, the guy who gave us Please Don’t Remember and The Bridgeport Run) talks about software Aphex Twin used. You probably already knew about Supercollider, Trackers, and Metasynth, but I’d only heard passing reference to CDP, for example. I wish he’d gone into a bit more depth about Supercollider and shown off exactly what sort of things you can do with it.

One thing that I found really interesting was the insight into one of my favorites; RDJ album. Tracker outputting MIDI triggering a hardware sampler, because trackers of the day couldn’t handle samples as nice as you hear on RDJ album. I suppose that suggests that HAB was using samples inside the tracker for drums and outboard synth for the melodies? At the very least it’s always sounded like someone manually playing with the cutoff in the first part of Arched Maid Via RDJ, it sounds great and it’s an effect I’ve often tried to emulate.

I’m surprised The Flashbulb considers Bucephalus Bouncing Ball the all time best. I mean it’s a great track and I love how the sweet melody sneaks in after the harsh metallic noises of the intro, then are just as quickly washed out by more crazy noodling. But the best Aphex Twin track at any given time tends to either be from his latest album or second to latest album. I’d put Rushup | Bank 12, Xmas, or Collapse up against anything from what he called RDJ’s ‘peak era’ (Windowlicker, RDJ, etc.) If anything, what the SoundCloud release shows is that the reason the Analord era sounds so different is that RDJ now feels happy (or financially motivated) to actually release (or at least DJ) more of what he makes rather than holding a ton of it back as he did during earlier eras.

A pretty good thread on The Orange Site about GraphQL

Sums up my feelings about how our attempt to implement GraphQL went back when we tried it out at SmarterTravel.

I thought we had passed the era of Peak Zoom Calls (YouTube / Detroit Free Press)

But here we are.

April/May Web Links

Might not stick with that title, but I do want to stick to the format. We’re in a period where “algorithmic” content feeds and search are becoming less than ideal, and there’s been a trend towards a smaller, more human web. I’ve long maintained a links page both as a more durable bookmark list and as a curated set of links to share. But not everything is evergreen; some things are timely, and I think a regular feature would be a more appropriate place for that. Plus it would motivate me to write a bit more, so here goes.

EV Nova Aftermath – (EV Nova Fandom Wiki)

EV Nova Aftermath was one of the most anticipated EV Nova TCs. Previously, all we had was the (defunct) Aftermath website, landing pictures, and other scattered remnants.

That all changed thanks to a friendly leak a year ago that didn’t really garner much attention. However thanks to the efforts of the indefatigable SharkyNebula, we now have pretty much everything on the wiki. I plan to write more about this and back up the resources on IA, but until then just marvel at these immaculate ship sprites. This was some of the best CGI that the EVN community had to offer, back in the day. They still look great now!

Data General Nova and Eclipse emulators (Wild Hare Computer Systems)

Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine is one of the great pieces of literature written about the computing field, and it centers on the team (lead by Tom West) upgrading the Nova into the Eclipse. Data General is a fairly obscure minicomputer company; the only one people still know by name is their more popular competitor, Digital Equipment Corporation, of PDP and VAX fame. So actually playing around with one of these wasn’t possible back in the day. But now there’s an emulator! You can even run it on a Raspberry Pi, which is exactly what I plan to do. If I get it running, I’ll write up a how-to.

For hobby modeling fans, this is a nice database of old model kits including images and enough information about them to find them via google with only a vague description. I stumbled across it while trying to figure out the provenance of a strange but very cool model kit, which turned out to be a Perry Rodan spacecraft. The model kit was purchased either at Neckers Toyland (still in operation!) or War And Pieces in Hartford (long defunct.) Seven years after War and Pieces closed, a Games Workshop store opened in the same location.

Dell HTPC thing from the aughts (youtube)

I found this video on Lemmy, interesting teardown.

World’s Fiasco of 2007 (yoyo fandom wiki)

In 2007 there was apparently some drama in the YoYo community. This would make an excellent Netflix special along the lines of The Pez Outlaw. I have no idea what the veracity of the story is and it contains some fantastical elements, but it’s also exactly the kind of foot-in-mouth emergent screwup that happens when you put enough people in a room and ask them to make decisions about how they should interact with their customers. I’d love to hear the other side of the story.

If they still gave awards for “web site design” that included little site badges for the winner, this site would deserve them all. I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface with it. Be warned – I have no idea what’s lurking under the surface here.

Ed Zitron has been on a tear lately with a lot to say about the tech industry. The basic observation that we’ve been frogboiled into a truly lackluster Google search experience is a correct one.

The Sky was full of ships (project Gutenberg)

A short story by Theodore Sturgeon, in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1947. I have a very vivid memory of this story as one of the first proper scifi short stories I ever really clicked with. Reading Del Ray’s history of early scifi made me think of it again, so I figured I should save the link for next time.

A CSS framework for making Star Trek style Okudagram websites.