Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Antitext

TELEPHONE ONLY TELEPHONE ONLY by Eric Boucheron

Eric Boucheron is an old internet friend of mine. We made things together at the turn of the century (too early?), as members of an art collective called Suffocate. He has started posting artwork on his website again. It’s awesome, you should go check it out.

I’ve always loved his work, it was a big influence on my early grunge aesthetic. He also takes pictures of banana peels.

Educate don’t humiliate

From Dan Edwards in response to overly harsh design critics dickheads, Educate don’t humiliate:

As a general rule we should try better to understand why the designer has made the decisions they’ve made and think about their experience and how we can help, not just humiliate them. Take the time to provide newbies with the resources and answers that they need. That’s education.

Especially pointed given how easy it is to offer a knee-jerk reaction on the internet. Of course, I’ve never done anything like that.

The same notes could be applied to developers too. It’s easy to become dismissive of someone’s work because they did it in an unfashionable language, or a different coding style, or used some sort of kludgy hack. There was likely a reason behind the decision, which may be worth examining before picking up the pitchfork.

Updated: Upon further reflection, they should not be called design critics (we’ll go with Dan’s original intent). Also, forgot to link to actual article.

Aiming for whiskey perfection

An article by Wayne Curtis for The Atlantic takes a look at The New Science of Old Whiskey.

In April 2006, a tornado struck Warehouse C at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. In the aftermath, the building looked like a diorama: part of the roof and one wall had been artfully removed to reveal the 25,000 barrels stacked inside. Miraculously, not a single one of those barrels was damaged.

Repairing the warehouse took several months, and during that time the barrels on the upper floors were exposed to rain, heat, and sun. Mark Brown, Buffalo Trace’s president and CEO, joked at the time that the distillery should sell the whiskey as “tornado-surviving bourbon.”

It turned out to be no joke. The barrels were opened about five years later (the liquor inside had then aged for nine to 11 years) and, says Brown, “the darnedest thing is, when we went to taste the whiskey, it was really good. I mean really good.”

Go read about the new era of whiskey: science, data, testing and tasting.

The Minitel app store

I’m more familiar with the America-centric history of networked computing, so I’m always fascinated to read about things that were happening in other parts of the world. Jeremy Rossman takes a look at France’s Minitel system and how it provided one of the first app stores.

In the early eighties the French government vaulted its country’s tech industry a decade ahead of the rest of the world by introducing a computer terminal called the Minitel. Rolled out as a beta product in 1980 and launched to the French public in 1983, every household with a landline subscription was eligible for a free Minitel. Its killer launch app was a digital version of the yellow pages — to encourage adoption the government cancelled the production of [the] paper [version].

Making perfect coffee

Brewing Control Chart

Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez explore How to Make Perfect Coffee for The Atlantic.

The Percentage Extraction is the amount of coffee particles extracted from the original dry grounds. The Percentage of Total Dissolved Solids is the percentage of coffee solids actually in your cup of coffee (commonly known as “brew strength”). When you correlate these, the result is a Coffee Brewing Control Chart, with a target area in the center that highlights the optimal brew strength and extraction percentage.

When you’re brewing coffee, the goal is to get into that center square of perfection. Everyone seems to advocate their own sort of mystical process for achieving the right extraction, but we’re here to tell you it’s not that crazy.

Super Mario Brothers is too hard for new gamers

The majority of test gamers were unable to complete the first level of Super Mario Brothers.

Around 90 percent of the test participants were unable to complete the first level of Super Mario Brothers. We did not assist them in any way except by providing the exact same instruction manual we used back then. Many of them did not read it and the few that did stopped after the first page which did not cover any of the game mechanics.

We watched the replay videos of how the gamers performed and saw that many did not understand simple concepts like bottomless pits. Around 70 percent died to the first Goomba. Another 50 percent died twice. Many thought the coins were enemies and tried to avoid them. Also, most of them did not use the run button. There were many other depressing things we noted but I can not remember them at the moment.