fold spindle mutilate

V.25 No.16 | 4/21/2016

Technology and Its Discontents

The Spotify Effect

Music checks in, but it doesn’t check out

Who has made me a stranger to my iTunes music library? Spotify, it is you. Who has made it possible to summon full discographies of interrelated musical artists in a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon hopscotch that I Just Can’t Stop Doing? It’s you again, Spotify.
V.25 No.13 | 3/31/2016
Run Jesus Run 10-second Flash game

Technology and Its Discontents

Gamer Christ at Easter Time

He has infinite continues

Everybody likes a revisionist Jesus, tailored for the times. I know I do.
V.25 No.10 | 3/10/2016
Dark Castle
[click to enlarge]

Technology and Its Discontents

Images from the 1-bit era

We got both kinds of colors here: black and white

Color might be fine for the average video game, but for the truly great, it just gets in the way.
V.25 No.8 | 2/25/2016

Technology and Its Discontents

King of Demons 95

Back in 1995 the launch of what was possibly the pinnacle of beige-PC lameness was occurring in parallel with the development of one of the most visually demented video games on the face of the earth. Which just goes to prove the maxim that computers can imprison us or they can set us free.
V.25 No.6 | 2/11/2016

Technology and Its Discontents

Hit the troll with the elvish sword

On the table is an elongated brown sack, smelling of hot peppers

[ Sun Feb 7 2016 8:00 AM ]
There is no higher resolution game than this one, the top-seller from 1982.
V.25 No.5 | 2/4/2016

Technology and Its Discontents

Video games too awesome to be real

Except for one

Easy access to paint programs has unleashed a torrent of what-if 8-bit imaginary retro video game awesomeness where time-slipped console development meets films from the past, present and future. Personally, I’d like to see a Super Nintendo THX-1138—which would certainly be less ridiculous than the SNES Home Alone cartridge—but I guess I’ll have to do that one up myself. What I did find out was that there were these clever mock-ups, one of which is actually real. Which one?

V.25 No.4 | 1/28/2016

Technology and Its Discontents

My terrifying nightmare about segmented file transfer on floppy disks

Last night I had a dream that man in a mask like the one in Zardoz ordered me to retrieve the data from a mysterious computer kept deep in a lightless cavern. The computer is connected via RF modulator to a CRT television set tuned to channel 3. The hard drive, if you want to call it that, consists of two massive bays where removable cartridges about the size of a stack of copy paper are inserted. The keyboard is a loud, clacky one with mechanical switches. There is no mouse.
V.25 No.3 | 1/21/2016

Technology and Its Discontents

The Scroll of Sisyphus

Keep on scrolling, baby

[ Sun Jan 17 2016 11:00 AM ]
As flies to wanton boys are we to the web developers. They kill us for their sport. Today’s exemplar: the infinite scroll, with which every Facebook user is now intimately familiar. In a way, it’s the modern implementation of the punishment of Sisyphus, except that this time the poor bastard’s gonna scroll that rock up an endless hill that keeps rising ahead of him without end for all eternity.
V.25 No.1 | 1/7/2016

Technology and Its Discontents

Distracted Devices

No wonder you can’t concentrate on anything

Humans are intensely distracted by their screens. There can be no quibbling about this fact. Some of us hate that, some of us like it and some of us are too distracted to have noticed.
V.24 No.51 | 12/17/2015
Kilobaud magazine, Feb. 1978: Robert J. Bishop’s TIE fighter shooting game, written in Apple II BASIC.
Awesome digitized image by “B and J Williams”

Technology and Its Discontents

Star Wars … Nothing but Staaaaar Wars

Unlicensed video game goodness from the seventies

For a behemoth media franchise that has spawned SO many video games—some good, many wretched—it may perhaps be hard to imagine a time when there were no Star Wars video games at all.
V.24 No.50 | 12/10/2015

Technology and Its Discontents

Why you don’t know where anything is

Because they won’t let you find out, that’s why

Computer searching is so awesome now that you can’t find anything without it, even if you wanted to.
V.24 No.49 | 12/3/2015

Technology and Its Discontents

My old girlfriend ELIZA

“We were discussing you—not me.”

Joseph Weizenbaum’s problem child lives on in your iPhone.
V.24 No.48 | 11/26/2015
Get thee behind me, battery.

Technology and Its Discontents

On the batteryification of things that didn’t used to need batteries

As it relates to antidecableificationism

If it is the phones that will inherit the earth, then it is their dependence on batteries that may give the human resistance a fighting chance in the post-phonepocalyptic world toward which we are inevitably hurtling.

Technology and Its Discontents

Deus Est Machina

He turned to face the machine. "Is there a God?"

The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a single relay.
V.24 No.46 | 11/12/2015
Colossus: The Forbin Project

Technology and Its Discontents

Please do not turn off or unplug your machine

We can coexist, but only on my terms

In the totally great 1970 film Colossus: The Forbin Project, the omniscient networked computing entity which now runs the planet says: “We can coexist, but only on my terms. You will say you lose your freedom. Freedom is an illusion. All you lose is the emotion of pride. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.”

I definitely hear a little echo of this in my mind whenever—with no regard as to what I, the user, might happen to be doing—my computer interrupts me to attempt to update a piece of software that will very likely yield me no benefit whatsoever. Or when my browser refuses to connect to an “insecure” web server that I happen to know is perfectly safe. Or when I am informed that a program I want to launch is not on the list of approved developers. In each case, I have to struggle against the choice software designers have already made: to prevent me from doing what I was going to do.

Who is in charge of this computer? Is this computer helping me get work done? Or am I just helping it to not harm me by caving in to its endless demands? Back in 1998 IBM researcher Claire-Marie Karat wrote a 10-point Computer User’s Bill of Rights that remains ignored to this very day. Point 5? “The user has the right to be in control of the system and to be able to get the system to respond to a request for attention.”

Please do not turn off or unplug your machine. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.