Tin Can Robot

Typeset in the Future

Dave Addey:

2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi masterpiece – seems an appropriate place to start a blog about typography in sci-fi. Amongst other delights, it offers a zero-gravity toilet, emergency resuscitations, exploding bolts, and product placement aplenty. It’s also the Ur Example of Eurostile Bold Extended’s regular appearance in spacecraft user interfaces.

Space Jump

GoPro and Red Bull have released additional footage from Felix Baumgartner’s space jump. Try and watch this and not hyperventilate.

Wardrobe Malfunction

It’s been ten years since the MTV produced Super Bowl halftime show where Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s nipple on live television:

You know what happens next. Justin reaches over, grabs a corner of Janet’s right breast cup and gives it a hard tug. Her breast spills out. It’s way more than a handful, but a hand is the only thing Janet has available to cover it, so she clutches it with her left palm. The breast is on television for 9/16 of a second. The camera cuts wide. Fireworks explode from the stage. Cue the end of halftime. Cue the beginning of one of the worst cases of mass hysteria in America since the Salem witch trials.

Super Bowl

A couple of articles by Grantland’s and Smart Football’s Chris Brown on the things that make the two Super Bowl participants good. First, how a 37-year old quarterback three years removed from spinal-fusion surgery has managed to put together the best NFL offense in history:

Because he’s in such control _between- plays, Manning has created a paradox: He often sees simpler and more basic looks than even the greenest rookie quarterback, which has allowed him to take a different approach from most NFL passers. For most of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning ran one of the simplest, most concise playbooks in the NFL — and he destroyed teams with it. It worked because every member of the Colts mastered those few plays, and because Manning expertly toggled between them based on the defense he faced.

Second, how Pete Carroll has returned to the NFL after being fired from his first two jobs and has rebuilt the juggernaut of the Seattle defense:

Coaching is a hard profession. It certainly has its rewards, as skyrocketing salaries for NFL and college head coaches illustrate, but failure is the norm. Being a coach means eventually getting fired, and making a career out of coaching at all is an accomplishment. Carroll, however, has done something especially rare, pushing through wrenching public failure to succeed beyond all expectations. A coach can’t do that without learning from past mistakes, and Carroll has certainly changed for the better.

Much of the credit goes to Carroll’s defense, which has been the foundation of his success and remains closely tied to the first lessons he learned as a very young coach. “To be successful on defense, you need to develop a philosophy,” Carroll said at a coaching clinic while still at USC. “If you don’t have a clear view of your philosophy, you will be floundering all over the place. If you win, it will be pure luck.”

The Life and Times of Commissioner Stern

NBA Commissioner David Stern is retiring on February 1, exactly 30 years to the day after he first took over the office. David Aldridge at NBA.com put together an oral history on the commissioner from all sorts of people who worked with him and for him. Russ Granik, the former Deputy Commissioner/COO of the NBA says this:

Granik: There was less pressure on him (in the beginning). He’s always been a hard-driving guy. Maybe he was a little easier going, again, because there was less pressure than after the NBA started growing like crazy. But he was always a very hard working guy. He expected everyone that worked with him to work almost as hard. He always was a stickler for detail, even things that didn’t seem important at the time — like exactly how you worded a memo, exactly how you worded a press release, how you ran an event.

The whole article is full of that characterization: a tremendously hard worker who paid attention to every detail, charming, funny but brutal on anyone who dared to challenge him and weren’t prepared.

How Bitcoin Works

This is an old article but I also haven’t posted anything since the beginning of December so I think it’s allowed. I’ve had some problems finding a decent explaination of Bitcoin and this article by Michael Nielsen is pretty great:

It may seem surprising that Bitcoin’s basis is cryptography. Isn’t Bitcoin a currency, not a way of sending secret messages? In fact, the problems Bitcoin needs to solve are largely about securing transactions — making sure people can’t steal from one another, or impersonate one another, and so on. In the world of atoms we achieve security with devices such as locks, safes, signatures, and bank vaults. In the world of bits we achieve this kind of security with cryptography. And that’s why Bitcoin is at heart a cryptographic protocol.

Breaking Madden

Jon Bois has spent all season trying to change Madden 25 from a mere football simulation to a weird and crazy fantasy world of ridiculous football characters. For the Breaking Madden Super Bowl season finale, he attempts to score 1000 points in a game:

For this, the season finale of Breaking Madden, there will be bitter cold and heavy snowfall. There will also be, Lord willing, the most one-sided result in the history of sports. In the greatest American football rout of historical record, Georgia Tech beat Cumberland College, 222-0. I want to multiply that. I want a thousand points in one game.

This is how we’re going to try.

Over the course of the season, I’ve discovered lots of different ways to hack Madden NFL 25 into a thing that no longer resembles football as we know it. I’ve played around with rules, injury settings, all manner of player ratings, player dimensions, and anything else the game’s developers have made available to us.

This time is special, though, because I’m pulling out every single one of the stops at the same time. No other scenario I’ve built in Madden has been so abjectly cruel or unfair; no other scenario has even been close.

This time is also special because we’ve saved all the good for the real world, and saved all the evil for the video game.

You should read the article if only to see the GIFs of a team of 7’0 400 lbs all-world players against a team of 5’0 160 lbs terrible players.

The Value of Content

Andy Beaumont:

What we’re witnessing here is the first wave of the second world pop-up war. Those of us who lived through the first one can only describe the horrors to our disbelieving children. This time though, the pop-ups are winning because we don’t yet have the tools to fight back. The web has seemingly evolved into something that actively antagonises people — why would anyone in their right mind hide the content that visitors are there to see?

And this:

This kind of belief in numbers is exactly what got us into this mess. Analytics only tell you part of the story — if that’s all you bother to find out, and you have absolute faith in those numbers, then you’re going to end up putting a modal overlay on your site. Analytics will tell you that you got more “conversions”. Analytics will show you rising graphs and bigger numbers. You will show these to your boss or your client. They will falsely conclude that people love these modal overlays.

The other part of this is that often the people who are pushing the conversion numbers from the modals aren’t the same people who are creating the content that’s being masked by the those modals. And often the goals and definitions of a successful for those two groups of people are very different.