#utopia / "Larry David, master of his quarantine."

Be sure to add this to your reading list for the weekend. I mean come on, it’s not like you have anything else to do. Parents, give this article to your children and have them present a report on what they learned. It’s not like they have anything else to do either.

#utopia / RIP The Outline.

Sad to see it go. I would have liked to see what evolution looked like for all the effort they put into the design. I shudder to think how many more of these announcements are coming.

#viewsource

"Zoom is malware."

My father-in-law reached out to me yesterday to ask if I had heard anything about Zoom and user privacy issues. At the time, I had not, except for that webserver issue, which I believe they fixed. It turns out there is more than one problem. From The Guardian:

A number of security flaws affecting Zoom have been reported in the past and as recently as this week. In 2019, it was revealed Zoom had quietly installed a hidden web server on user devices that could allow the user to be added to a call without their permission. And a bug discovered this week would enable hackers to take over a Zoom user’s Mac, including tapping into the webcam and hacking the microphone.

The company said on Thursday it had issued a release to fix the Mac issue, but the number of security issues with Zoom in the past make it as bad as malicious software, said Arvind Narayanan, an associate computer science professor at Princeton University.

“Let’s make this simple,” he said. “Zoom is malware.”

I think we’re all living on Zoom these days, which is scary to think about when you consider that Zoom does not have end-to-end encryption as advertised. And Zoom sends iOS user data to Facebook for advertising purposes even if the user does not have a Facebook account!

Global crisis or not this isn’t good. Not good at all. The company has announced it is shifting engineering resources to address all of these concerns but this is more than three strikes for me—I’m out.

Google Hangouts or Facetime will have to do. Kai Brach had nice things to say about a new conferencing app called Whereby in the lastest issue of Dense Discovery. Stay vigilant my friends.

#utopia

.net Magazine is dead. Long live .net Magazine!

Earlier this morning, I caught some news that .net Magazine and Computer Arts are closing operations. The story now appears to be confirmed by friend and former .net editor Oliver Lindberg. Like many of my friends, my career has had a few meaningful intersections with the magazine over the years.

In 2010 my studio, Happy Cog, was awarded the .net Award for Web Design Studio of the Year. I traveled to London for a 36-hour trip to hang out with my business partners and see some of the sights before the award ceremonies. I’ll never forget having my first Full English Breakfast with Greg Hoy while outside a crew filmed a television commercial for an off-broadway performance of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Very colorful breakfast entertainment at no extra cost. I got to see Big Ben up close and ride The Tube a few times. We ate lunch with our friends at Clearleft, who were also up for the award. Later that day, when we won, my partners and I were on cloud nine. The news was a massive lift for everyone in the company, and we wore that award (figuratively) around our neck for the proceeding year.

Years later, I was profiled for issue 266; weeks after moving on from Happy Cog and closing down the Austin studio. It was a weird and challenging time for me to receive that treatment as I was most definitely in the middle of radical change. A few weeks after the initial interview, the magazine arranged a photoshoot in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I was staying for a few weeks. In her research for the shoot, the photographer noted that I enjoyed cigars and found a shop where she wanted to get some shots. We went to Burns Tobacconist in downtown Chattanooga and received permission to hang out and take photos. We weren’t prepared for Sherman, the owner of the shoeshine stand in the back, and a character I will never forget. That was one of the best days I’d had in years.

Here and there, I’ve been asked to contribute quotes and statements for stories since then. I recently submitted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) feature that I doubt will now see a drop of ink.

I am grateful to everyone behind .net Magazine over the years. It has been an anchor of the web design community and a supporter of generations of web designers. It is sad to see it go, but I am thankful for all it has done for us. Thanks to everyone who turned out issue after issue and extended the brand online. The web would not be the same without all of your interest, devotion, and support.

#utopia

Ballast—002.

This is late but I’m publishing it anyway.

  • Mr. Willis and I co-hosted an hour or two on a pop-up radio station last week. You didn’t miss much, believe me. Except for the part that Eric believes people can read his mind to hack his PIN code. We got into a bit of an argument over which is better: WarGames vs. Hackers (listen, if you want to make a good movie, don’t cast Mathew Lillard as anything other than the director’s assistant). And I shared the story of that one time when we were not fit to drive home and I convinced a valet at Eddie V’s to drive us home, park the vehicle, and run back to the restaurant. Best twenty bucks I ever spent. I’m told we had the best ratings of the twenty-four hours, but I think that was just the station owner’s way of saying, “please, never come back.”
  • I authored chapters for an upcoming book. More on this later.
  • Cloudy, rainy weather makes the home lockdown so much worse. I need to find a different part of the Pacific Northwest to shelter in place for the next pandemic or buy a place in Palm Springs. Also, you can have pools in Palm Springs.
  • We’re getting through more of our board games collection. Last week we played Parks for the first time. It’s a fun, but engaging strategy game that is based upon the artwork from the Fifty-Nine Parks print series. You play hikers engaging with different areas of a park. The path, weather conditions, and end game bonus points are all variables so the game can be replayed often. Another game with similar variables and beauty is Black Angel. I heart everything about the game and its design.
  • More gaming. I turned my MacBook Pro into a dual-boot machine so I could see what PC gaming is all about. It’s been fifteen years since I tried to shoot at people using a keyboard and mouse. It felt weird at first but I picked it back up alright. Windows is definitely the better platform for those experiences because the performance is night-and-day better over MacOS.
  • Having done that, I am going another direction with distractions this week and hopefully the rest of the month. I’ve assembled all of the parts to up my web camera game. I’m down to one last puzzle, finding a mount for my microphone boom. My desk is stainless steel with a secondary lower lip that prevents me from using the typical screw-based desk mount. I purchased a substantial mic stand base, but where there should be a standard-sized receptacle, there are screws instead. I think my end game is going to require a machinist or welder, but that will have to wait for a while. This makes my eye twitch.
  • Last thought. There are suggestions and reminders to call your friends and loved ones—especially the older generations during this time. There is another group that needs your attention as well, the folks who are sequestered by themselves. I’m concerned about this group because I don’t see that they are getting the same attention, but they need human interaction just the same. Friend or not, if you have co-workers or know folks who are living by themselves, make it a point to reach out and touch them—AT&T Style.

Stay safe and non-virusy.