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We played Die, the ‘Goth Jumanji’ game fueling Kieron Gillen’s new RPG comic book

DIE
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We played Die, the ‘Goth Jumanji’ game fueling Kieron Gillen’s new RPG comic book:

Lots of articles and reviews coming out for DIE, which I’ll be posting across the month, but this one’s something different. As well as doing a lengthy interview, I invited Alex Spencer of Polygon and twatd along to the latest DIE RPG playtest

Worth noting - there’s some spoilers for “What can the character classes” do in there. They’re “Spider-man has the powers of a spider!” sort of powers, but if you want to see everything as it unfolds in comic, you should probably skip…

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tingham
11 hours ago
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Cary, NC
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Chinese Firewood Carrier

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Ever since Peter Follansbee wrote about the Chinese firewood carrier that Daniel O’Hagan adapted from Rudolf Hommel’s China at Work (great book), I’ve been itching to make one for myself. With the heating season now full on and my nine-year-old hauling firewood into the house most days, I decided it was time to finally knock one of these together.

The Original from Hommel's Book

Long time readers here might have picked up that some of my favorite historic artifacts are rural utilitarian objects made with function as a top priority. Although these items are often coarsely made, they always bear the evidence of many generations of use which testifies to the integrity of their design and construction. And, I must admit, the roughness develops patina beautifully.

When I set out to make one of these wood carriers the other day, I decided to make one as rough but rugged as possible. I decided to try making one from mostly green wood and without any planing. The stock for the base was riven and joined with through tenons.

Instead of planing the base pieces flat, I simply oriented the convex side up so that the carrier ended up with four feet. Also, because of the irregularity in thickness, rived the proud bits off with the joint assembled by setting the edge my hatchet to each protrusion and splitting them off in one whack each. The tenons were drawbored with three pins each. Everything came together rock solid. Some of the drawbore offsets were quite extreme – nothing like the workmanship of risk to get the blood flowing!

 

The uprights were rived from mostly dried stock I had kicking around my wood pile. I shaved them to size with a drawknife and bent them around a maul and clamped them over the weekend. The uprights were tenoned into the green base and top piece at an angle to encourage the bend to remain. The round through tenons were then wedged and the wedges pinned in place.

 

This lightweight little carrier was banged out of less than spectacular material in only a few hours but it is super rugged and will only get more so as it continues to dry. And the carrier makes hauling a decent size load of wood a snap. My nine-year-old’s chore just got a lot easier.

Guess I need to make one for myself… It’d be awfully handy to have one hanging around the shop.

- Joshua

 

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tingham
2 days ago
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Cary, NC
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★ Electron and the Decline of Native Apps

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SwiftOnSecurity, regarding Microsoft’s switch to Chromium as Windows’s built-in rendering engine:

This isn’t about Chrome. This is about ElectronJS. Microsoft thinks EdgeHTML cannot get to drop-in feature-parity with Chromium to replace it in Electron apps, whose duplication is becoming a significant performance drain. They want to single-instance Electron with their own fork.

Electron is a cancer murdering both macOS and Windows as it proliferates. Microsoft must offer a drop-in version with native optimizations to improve performance and resource utilization.

This is the end of desktop applications. There’s nowhere but JavaScript.

I don’t share the depth of their pessimism regarding native apps, but Electron is without question a scourge. I think the Mac will prove more resilient than Windows, because the Mac is the platform that attracts people who care. But I worry.

In some ways, the worst thing that ever happened to the Mac is that it got so much more popular a decade ago. In theory, that should have been nothing but good news for the platform — more users means more attention from developers. The more Mac users there are, the more Mac apps we should see. The problem is, the users who really care about good native apps — users who know HIG violations when they see them, who care about performance, who care about Mac apps being right — were mostly already on the Mac. A lot of newer Mac users either don’t know or don’t care about what makes for a good Mac app.

There have always been bad Mac apps. But they seldom achieved any level of popularity because Mac users, collectively, rejected them. Microsoft Word 6.0 is the canonical example. Word 5 for Mac was a beloved app and solid Mac citizen. Word 6 was a cross-platform monstrosity. Mac users rejected it, and its rejection prompted Microsoft — at the height of its mid-’90s power and arrogance — to completely re-think its Mac strategy and create a new business unit devoted to the Mac. Microsoft’s Rick Schaut wrote a terrific piece on the whole saga back in 2004:

OK, so Mac Word 6.0 was big and slow relative to the memory that most computers had available at the time we shipped it, but that’s not the reason why Mac Word 6.0 was such a crappy product, or at least not directly. […]

Moreover, while people complained about the performance, the biggest complaint we kept hearing about Mac Word 6.0 was that it wasn’t “Mac-like.” So, we spent a lot of time drilling down into what people meant when they said it wasn’t “Mac-like.” We did focus groups. Some of us hung out in various Usenet newsgroups. We talked to product reviewers. We talked to friends who used the product. It turns out that “Mac-like” meant Mac Word 5.0.

We spent so much time, and put so much effort into, solving all the technical problems of Mac Word 6.0 that we failed to make the UI of Mac Word 6.0 behave like Mac Word 5.0. […]

The other thing we figured out as a result of coming to understand what “Mac-like” meant was that we weren’t going to be able to deliver “Mac-like” products if Office remained a singular product from which both the Win and Mac versions were built. The mere fact that “Mac-like” was an issue at all meant that there were some fundamental differences between the Win Word market and the Mac Word market. If we were to understand both those markets, then our Mac products and Win products needed separate marketing and PGM organizations. The lessons we learned from Mac Word 6.0 are some of the reasons that Mac BU exists today.

As un-Mac-like as Word 6 was, it was far more Mac-like then than Google Docs running inside a Chrome tab is today. Google Docs on Chrome is an un-Mac-like word processor running inside an ever-more-un-Mac-like web browser. What the Mac market flatly rejected as un-Mac-like in 1996 was better than what the Mac market tolerates, seemingly happily, today. Software no longer needs to be Mac-like to succeed on the Mac today. That’s a tragedy.

Even Apple, of all companies, is shipping Mac apps with glaring un-Mac-like problems. The “Marzipan” apps on MacOS 10.14 Mojave — News, Home, Stocks, Voice Memos — are dreadfully bad apps. They’re functionally poor, and design-wise foreign-feeling. I honestly don’t understand how Apple decided it was OK to ship these apps.

Another one I just ran into on Mojave is the new Mac App Store app. It certainly looks nice, but I noticed a few days ago that it doesn’t support the Page Down and Page Up keys for scrolling (nor the Home and End keys for jumping to the top and bottom) in any of its views.1 Open an article and hit Page Down, and instead of scrolling down, it just beeps. Beeps, I say. The only way to scroll is with a mouse or trackpad. In an app from Apple, used by nearly everyone. Even the Marzipan apps support these keys for scrolling, which shouldn’t be surprising, because support for these keys and other standard behavior comes for free with the underlying developer frameworks. The Mojave App Store app must be doing something very strange for these keys not to work.2

The Mojave App Store app certainly isn’t written using Electron. But the problem with Electron apps isn’t really Electron — it’s the decline in demand for well-made native Mac apps. And that is ominous. The biggest threat to the Mac isn’t iPads, Chromebooks, or Windows 2-in-1’s — it’s apathy towards what makes great Mac apps great. As I tweeted regarding this Page Down/Up thing:

Things like this are canaries in the coal mine regarding the state of the Mac. If even Apple doesn’t get basic fundamentals — like supporting Page Up/Down, things which should work in a scrolling view out of the box — how are we to expect any developer to?

The new App Store app on Mojave certainly looks better. But developers at Apple, of all companies, should know that design is how it works.


  1. After posting about this to Twitter, a couple of people argued that it should be no surprise that these keys don’t work because modern Apple keyboards don’t have these keys. First, that’s wrong — the large Magic Keyboard has these keys. But even if you’re using a MacBook or a smaller keyboard you can use them using the Fn key. Fn↓ = Page Down; Fn↑ = Page Up; Fn← = Home; Fn→ = End. Enjoy. ↩︎

  2. While I’m in full-on you-kids-get-the-hell-off-my-lawn mode here, let me mention another Mojave gripe that is clearly the work of young developers at Apple. The Finder’s File → Show Original command has had the shortcut ⌘R since, I think, System 6. (Select an alias or symlink and this command will reveal the original file.) File → Make Alias was ⌘L. In Mojave, ⌘R has inexplicably been remapped to Rotate Right and ⌘L to Rotate Left. (These seem to be invisible menu items in the Edit menu? They’re not menu items, but the Edit menu highlights when you invoke them.) The shortcut for Make Alias is now ⌤⌘A and Show Original is now ⌤⌥⌘A. In and of themselves these new shortcuts aren’t bad, I suppose, but these are awfully longstanding shortcuts to change. And, I’ll add, the new shortcuts don’t even match the ones in Photos, where they’re named Rotate Counterclockwise (⌘R) and Rotate Clockwise (⌥⌘R). Photos’s shortcuts, where rotating in the other direction is an Option-key variant rather using an entirely different letter, seem more Mac-like to me. Preview, on the other hand, uses the commands names Rotate Left and Rotate Right, and the same ⌘L and ⌘R as the Mojave Finder. I give up. ↩︎︎

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tingham
3 days ago
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Still haven't upgraded to Mojave.
Cary, NC
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Review of the Dremel 3D45 3D Printer

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The Dremel 3D45 is a particularly easy-to-use 3D printer. Read Tim Celeski's review of the Dremel printer and it's applications for woodworkers.

Source

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tingham
5 days ago
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Pretty printer, that filament cost tho…
Cary, NC
jepler
4 days ago
it says you can use other brand filaments, though the experience is just a little bit worse when you do...
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Over 5 years after it was first announced, Below finally has a release date

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Below, Capybara’s top-down dungeon crawler, is finally, actually, definitely coming out.

Capybara has officially announced a release date for Below. The game will be available on PC, and Xbox One December 14.

Below was first announced all the way back at E3 2013. It was among the slew of games Microsoft showed off at the first E3 promoting Xbox One, and has been in development since then.

After promising a summer 2016 release, Capybara revealed that it would delay the game indefinitely and won’t reemerge until it was confident in a release window. Fast forward to E3 2018 and Capybara’s head Nathan Vella did the rounds to confirm that Below is finally going to launch this year.

A Steam page appeared at the time, and we finally have a release date. Below is inspired by Souls, and has a soundtrack by longtime Capybara collaborator Jim Guthrie.

Catch the latest Below trailer here:

The post Over 5 years after it was first announced, Below finally has a release date appeared first on VG247.

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tingham
5 days ago
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Finally?
Cary, NC
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Can Blockchain Fix Cybersecurity?

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The technology holds a lot of promise for security, but there’s still a long way to go before it sees serious enterprise adoption.

Blockchain is one of the biggest tech buzzwords of the last few years, and the technology is marketed as a cure for everything that ails you, including cybersecurity. In practice, at least as far as security is concerned, blockchain might actually cause more problems than it solves.

The basic idea behind blockchain is that you've got a list of items, or a ledger, that you're sharing with your peers. A clever bit of encryption keeps you from changing the previous elements on that list, unless the majority of your peers sign off on the change.

It's pitched as being better than having one trusted central party keep track of the list and make corrections when needed, because the trusted central party usually charges money for the service.

So, for example, banks can get together and move money from one to another without any centralized gatekeeper.

Security experts seem to agree that the technology has a lot of potential in their space.

"Blockchain holds great promise," Phil Quade, CISO at Fortinet, the Sunnyvale, California-based cybersecurity firm, said.

One example is its potential to improve efficiency of key and certificate distribution, David Cook, CISO at Databricks, the San Francisco-based data analytics firm, told us. "I think there's some business value to it," Cook said.

The downside is that when there's a problem with a transaction, instead of having that central entity step in and resolve the dispute and correct the ledger, you have to negotiate with everyone else in the system.

This happens a lot with cryptocurrencies, which are currently the biggest and best-known implementations of blockchain. And those implementations haven’t been without problems.

For example, more than $500 million worth of the Ethereum cryptocurrency has been lost because people accidentally left a payment destination address field blank.

"In a traditional [system] you have the ability to roll back the transactions," said Cook. "With blockchain, it's permanent."

Another $500 million of the Ripple cryptocurrency was recently lost when its billionaire owner died, since he was the only one who had access to that currency wallet.

Hackers typically don't go after the core blockchain encryption technology. Instead, they go after poorly implemented wallets, attack currency exchanges, and launch man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept money transfers. Without a central authority, there's nobody to complain to when things go wrong.

In the first six months of this year alone, hackers stole $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies, according to security researchers at Carbon Black.

Besides hacks and reversibility issues, there are the practical problems of adapting business processes and technology platforms to blockchain.

"In my prior position, I ran operations for data centers, and based on the legacy code in the infrastructure, I would say we are far from actually implementing it," Cook said.

As a result, data center operators haven’t yet started deploying blockchain technology to any noticeable degree, he said. "In my dealings with other CISOs, nobody is using it."

Cook said he also wants to see major vendor support and mainstream acceptance before considering using blockchain. "I would probably wait until one of the bigger companies, like Google or Microsoft, starts to adopt this," he said. "There are a lot of questions about this technology. On the surface, it seems super secure, but I do feel that it's going to take a while to adopt based on what I see with my infrastructure."

Another barrier to implementing blockchain is that it’s resource-intensive.

It takes work to do the calculations that guarantee the integrity of the data blocks in the blockchain.

"Blockchain is extremely intensive in terms of computing and power demands, cooling, and wear and tear," Dave Klein, senior director of engineering and architecture at the Israeli security company GuardiCore, said.

At Syncsort, a Pearl River, New York-based data management company, CTO Tendu Yogurtcu has been researching blockchain extensively.

"The blockchain platform has the promise of more transparency, increased security, and increased efficiency," she said.

But even once the security and management challenges are addressed, adoption won't be easy, since the frameworks are difficult to use, and different blockchain tools don't work together. "The technology adoption is still far behind," she said.

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tingham
6 days ago
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Can blockchain fix the fact that 1 in 3 frozen burritos explode in the microwave?
Cary, NC
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skorgu
6 days ago
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In the way that fire fixes a match maybe.
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