#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.

#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.

#utopia

Ballast—001.

  • This afternoon I donned a pair of black Semperforce examination gloves from the box and headed out into the open to run errands. I bought the box years ago as part of my gear for cooking with the Big Green Egg because it’s a wonderful, messy process that involves building a fire from big pieces of charcoal. Sigh. Those were the salad days! Long before the world got its trial run at the Zombie Apocalypse. If this was something like a new strain of airborne Ebola—dear Lord in Heaven. And we’re failing by-the-way. At least here in Washington. Our governor is hoping that Gen Pop will do the right things and practice Safe Pandemic—keeping a distance, wearing gloves, not wearing face masks, and staying at home unless you really need to get out. Nope. I just braved the wilds of a Target, and it looked like any other time I’d been to a Target—Too much florescent lighting. Khaki, and metric tons of planet-killing, clutter-inducing shit that no one needs (pssst…no one wants) at discount prices. Not one pair of gloves in sight. I must have looked the closet things to a bubble child the young ones have ever seen. Oh, but I saw masks. Good luck with that, morons! Go ahead and walk around forced to inhale your own chronic halitosis while the Coronavirus collects on the ten digits you’re using to touch every, every, ev-er-y-thing. I don’t have to be an elected public official to know that people are stupid. We are way beyond a shared understanding of civic duty. We can’t rely on our neighbors to take anything seriously because they don’t have skin in the game. We can’t expect them too because they have everything and yet nothing to lose. I bet there’s a parable from the Greeks or Romans about this. A lesson from Classic Literature, but I went to a rural high school in the middle of Alaska, so the closest I got was Call of the Wild. And the only thing I can remember about that book is the dog dying at the end and how much I cried. So, maybe I got a classical education after all.

  • Last week, I was called to duty to help co-write a book. A guide, really. Counting all of my notes and edits, I got out ten thousand words. I’ve never written so much so quickly. Now it feels like I need to be writing all of the time. And so I’m sitting here fist pounding the keyboard into the only form of freestyle I know. From my mind straight to yours—raw! I was shooting at virtual competitors, controlled no doubt by an array of nine-to-fourteen-year-olds. In the past, that’s helped bring some balance; brought my mind some peace. But after cranking out enough words to fill an entire palette, there was something that said, “you need to shut this crap down and get back up on the keyboard.”

  • I got an email from Amazon asking me if I still wanted the thing I ordered even though it was on backorder until June. What am I, Amish? This is America. I don’t have time to wait another six weeks. So, I went to Target because the computer said they have many in stock. Guess what? The computer lied. I don’t know why I trust that source of information because it’s always wrong. Always! As soon as I got home, I placed another order but bought the more expensive option because that one is in stock.

  • In other news, one week from now, my Zoom video is going to look broadcast quality. Totally worth it.

  • The table-to-table meeting between Airbag and Forestry representatives has been postponed for obvious reasons. That said, I can already feel the need to migrate this site to Kirby. Especially after seeing Cameron launch his site earlier this week. And thanks to Corona, there’s never been a better time. Which reminds me, Cameron, I’ll go learn this new CMS while you should bring back Wicked Worn.

  • Last thing, and then I shall return to shooting children, Cameron is writing about mental health. And given these interesting times, I can see this being a beneficial resource sooner than later.

#utopia / Inside Delta's command center the week the coronavirus devastated the airline industry.

An interesting look behind the scenes of what it looks like to manage an entire airline, and the current decision making to reduce risk to passengers and the company.

On Friday, in an extraordinary letter to employees, chief executive Ed Bastian announced a 40 percent cut in capacity—the biggest in Delta’s history, including after 9/11. “The speed of the demand falloff is unlike anything we’ve seen.”

Feels like airline mergers are on the horizon again. Here’s Business Insider on “the fallout” from 9/11 and the coronavirus.

#utopia / "I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it."

An op-ed piece from Beth Cameron, former senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council:

When President Trump took office in 2017, the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense survived the transition intact. Its mission was the same as when I was asked to lead the office, established after the Ebola epidemic of 2014: to do everything possible within the vast powers and resources of the U.S. government to prepare for the next disease outbreak and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or pandemic. One year later, I was mystified when the White House dissolved the office, leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like covid-19.

No doubt part of the Drain the Swamp Make America Great Again initiative. Now we’re living in a swamp and America doesn’t feel so great. Nice work.

#utopia / Is it canceled yet?

“Coachella—sadly no.” An informative, single-function site with a bit of dark humor mixed in for good measure.

#utopia / "Stories of People Who Are Racing to Save Us."

From the editors of Wired magazine:

Climate change. Flawed algorithms. Deadly diseases. Tech monopolies. We are facing many existential challenges that need to be tackled head-on before it’s too late. Many of these problems are of our own making, consequences of our relentless push for progress. Fortunately, there are lots of people who are racing to save us from ourselves—progress we can definitely get behind.

It’s great to see Wired getting back into its game, and on these topics.