Craig Ferguson interviews Stephen Fry, without an audience even:
All hail the long form interview, and praise to Craig Ferguson who seems to be the only one doing it any more.
They Don't Make Computer Manuals Like They Used To, a lovely piece by David Friedman on the manual of the Franklin Ace 100. The Ace 100 was an Apple II clone that ended when a court ruled (rightly) that operating systems are covered by copyright law. The Ace 100 manual includes tons of humor, including long passages railing against copy protection.
David is hosting copies of PDF scans of the Ace 100, 1000 and 500 manuals (links at the bottom of his article).
OK, I'm kind of tired of that Verizon ad already. Come to think of it, I was kind of tired of those gum commercials 20 years ago, too. I think I've found a flaw in their little plan.
Jason Schell at DICE 2010:
This just seems seriously ballsy to me, and I love it for that. With permission no doubt, and no risk to either brand, but still. Moxy.
At this point in my life I have to start assuming teenagers are too far removed from things from my own childhood to even hear the echoes. A kid in college today was 2 years old when Jurassic Park was in theaters. But I assume these things are funny even if you don't get the reference. It feels like a reference even when it's not one you know. I liked song parodies as a child when I was too young to know many popular songs. Seriously, how many Facts of Life references can Family Guy make and still be credible with people even slightly younger than I am?
David Crane's 2600 Magic. I haven't seen the app yet, but it sounds like it amounts to a $2 ebook on Atari 2600 programming. Sounds awesome.
Werewolf: How a parlour game became a tech phenomenon. Read to the end.
On MicroSD Problems. The makers of Chumby investigate a manufacturing problem with Kingston microSD memory cards.
ReadWriteWeb Wants to Be Your One True Login. Tech blog ReadWriteWeb posted an innocuous article on Facebook's single sign-on feature, and just so happened to have a user comment feature that allowed you to sign in with your Facebook account. The accidental result is astonishing and educational: hundreds of confused Facebook users tried to use a search engine to find Facebook, found the ReadWriteWeb article instead, noticed Facebook logos (from the article) and a way to sign in (to post comments), and concluded that ReadWriteWeb is Facebook with a new interface. Then they posted irate comments when they couldn't find their usual Facebook features.
A few obvious observations:
Other comments posted to this article by clued-in users are mostly unsympathetic to the confused, but it's important (for people building sites and web technology, at least) to realize that these factors are very common and affect how most people interact with the web. Modern browsers now combine the search box and the address box into one, so anything typed there that isn't an address performs a search—and anything that is an address, or just a domain name like "facebook.com," goes straight to the site without presenting a potentially confusing list of search results.
Long-time BrainLog readers may remember a modest version of this incident occurring right here back in 2003, when I commented on how a bank's credit card promotion site failed to provide basic technical trust cues, and how mainstream users wouldn't notice. That blog post became a top search result for the domain name of that promotion site, and earned a comment from someone who believed submitting a comment on that article with their personal information would be equivalent to applying for a credit card. Most web searchers finding that article just didn't read it very closely and assumed I was warning that the bank's site was a scam. I wasn't, but the confusion was understandable.
A giant collection of electronics tutorials, animated in Flash.
Buy Now, Pay Later (Maybe With Your Allowance) (NYTimes.com). A new payment option for online games lets minors of any age purchase virtual nothings on credit—without a parent's involvement. It's real money and real credit, but in a closed system of virtual objects so the game companies do not incur significant loss if debt is not repaid. Kids can repay their debts with their parent's credit card, or they can carry their own cash allowance and a printed payment receipt to any 7-11 store.
A good way to teach kids about credit, or an unabashedly evil way to get kids to spend more money online? Online games with paid upgrades are already dangerously close to gambling, and the last thing I want is less parental involvement.
But I could warm up to the idea of kids spending real money on virtual garbage. Other than depriving them of experience with money, the alternative is kids spending real money on real garbage, and then that garbage has to live in my house.
Charlie Brooker: why I love video games, a brief guide for non-game players.