John McPhee, The Art of Nonfiction No. 3

No, I just got through it. Stories are always really, really hard. I think it’s totally rational for a writer, no matter how much experience he has, to go right down in confidence to almost zero when you sit down to start something. Why not? Your last piece is never going to write your next one for you. §

An old photo editor of mine always said you’re only as good as your last shot. She stole the quote but that didn’t make it any less true. McPhee is distilling that that down. That last shot (or story) is done. Finished with a capital ‘F.’ There’s no going back. The work is out there in the world. You can’t reshoot yesterday’s front page.

Now it’s time to start over.

Now it’s time for something new.

Now you’re on your own.

Again.

Blogging’s Bright Future

So well said. If Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr were to go away, what would your online life look like?

And so, to be clear, when I speak of the “blog” I am referring to a regularly-updated site that is owned-and-operated by an individual. And there, in that definition, is the reason why, despite the great unbundling, the blog has not and will not die: it is the only communications tool, in contrast to every other social service, that is owned by the author; to say someone follows a blog is to say someone follows a person. §

Neil Young's PonoPlayer: The Emperor Has No Clothes

The people who own these probably spend $7001 on an HDMI cable. Because false dichotomy in the base argument. Also, I can’t stop thinking PornoPlayer, but the screen has poor resolution. So that’s two things it’s bad at.

My advice: If you want a better, richer, better balanced, less tiring, more comfortable listening experience, you don’t have to spend $400 on a new player and throw away your existing music collection. §


  1. Just search Best Buy for AudioQuest.

Syriza wins Greek election

This is the second popular revolt in Europe. The first was the Scotland vote. It failed due to massive propaganda and outright lies by the UK government. In Greece the people have now defied the money-men. It’s going to be an interesting few years.

The anti-austerity far left party Syriza has won the Greek election by a decisive margin, but just short of an outright majority. With more than three-quarters of the results in Syriza is projected to win 149 seats in the 300 seat parliament. §

Note: I’m going to start putting my comments over the quote.

Avian Flu Found in Washington State

Some media are reporting that the Asian H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza has now entered the United States. This is incorrect. The avian flu that was recently found in a green-winged teal in Washington state is a different strain and is not known to harm humans nor has it been found in domestic poultry. This Washington state strain incorporates genes from North American waterfowl-associated viruses. Unlike the Asian H5N1 strain that has been found in Asia, Europe, and Africa, this Washington state strain has only been found in wild waterfowl and has not been associated with human illness, nor has this new Washington state strain been found in domestic poultry. §

Good to know. It also seems eerily over-specific. I have to wonder exactly how a green-winged teal came to be tested for the flu. Did it show up at the drugstore doc-in-a-box with a fever?

Google drops three OS X 0days on Apple

In the past two days, Project Zero has disclosed OS X vulnerabilities here, here, and here. At first glance, none of them appear to be highly critical, since all three appear to require the attacker to already have some access to a targeted machine. §

When Google’s Project Zero starts dropping exploits on its own doorstep, I’ll be more impressed. Also, the OS X 10.10.2 update—which is currently in developer testing—fixes the disclosed exploits.

Bigger than Hollywood

The red area above adds up to the approximately $25 billion total paid to developers. This view of the payments to ecosystem contributors shows how apps are now a bigger digital content business than music and TV programs and Movie rentals and purchases put together.

This is quite a story.

Put another way, in 2014 iOS app developers earned more than Hollywood did from box office in the US. §

I boggle at how much money flows through the Apple App Store.

7 Year Old Girl Hacks Public Wi-Fi Network in 11 Minutes

After setting up a rouge access point, Betsy managed to eavesdrop on the willing participants (victim’s) internet traffic. §

Where to start?

  1. At least the little girl is being recognized for her computer skills.
  2. I’m sad the recognition comes from a let’s scare the stupid people article.
  3. But the article mentions hardened cyber criminals!
  4. /facepalm
  5. This is simply reading unencrypted web traffic.
  6. IT IS NOT “HACKING”.
  7. Do people do stupid things without encryption?
  8. OH GOD YES.
  9. Please use HTTP everywhere, a VPN, or at least make sure the padlock is in the address bar.
  10. Thank you. That is all.

The Art of Fiction No. 85, J. G. Ballard

INTERVIEWER

Now, that old chestnut: Do you have any advice for young writers?

BALLARD

A lifetime’s experience urges me to utter a warning cry: do anything else, take someone’s golden retriever for a walk, run away with a saxophone player. Perhaps what’s wrong with being a writer is that one can’t even say “good luck”—luck plays no part in the writing of a novel. No happy accidents as with the paint pot or chisel. I don’t think you can say anything, really. I’ve always wanted to juggle and ride a unicycle, but I daresay if I ever asked the advice of an acrobat he would say, “All you do is get on and start pedaling …” §

Every word written is an intentional act. Just start.