[wired] A WIRED Compendium … A great list of interesting Wired articles from over the years. ‘After the first readthrough, sort of on a lark, I put together a list of WIRED articles that best captured the vibe of the magazine through time. I limited myself to three articles per year. I never got around to publishing that WIRED compendium. I’m posting the list below. It runs from 1993, before the dotcom boom, to 2017, the start of the techlash…’
[modem] The Sound of the Dialup, Pictured … An infographic showing what the noises mean when a modem connects to the internet. ‘As many already know, what you’re hearing is often called a handshake, the start of a telephone conversation between two modems. The modems are trying to find a common language and determine the weaknesses of the telephone channel originally meant for human speech.’
[movies] John Hughes Goes Deep: The Unexpected Heaviosity of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off … Is Cameron the real protagonist of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? ‘Ferris himself is, for the most part, a fabulous cartoon—half James Bond, half Holden Caulfield. But he understands the very real crisis Cameron is facing and takes it as his role to push his friend into emotional danger. But Ferris, of course, leads a charmed life. His existentialism comes cheap. For Cameron (as for the rest of us) the experience of pleasure is an ongoing battle against anxiety. Ferris and Sloane can treat the day as just another glorious idyll. For Cameron, it comes to assume the weight of a reckoning.’
[blogs] 10 Blogging Pioneers: Influential, But Not Always Famous … Jerry Pournelle was an early Blogger?! ‘As a digital-first writer, his Chaos Manor website predated the term “blog,” and he wasn’t a huge fan of using it, but in many ways, he helped to shape the form in important ways, and if you see some writer going extremely long on a topic, he is the guy who helped shape what that would look like in a digital format. It should be noted that Pournelle sometimes dabbled in political commentary, especially later in life, making his website a great fit for the blogosphere that grew around him.’
[truecrime] A Crime Beyond Belief …A bizarre true crime story about a string of connected home invasions, kidnappings and rapes in California. ‘Not sleeping much, Muller obsessively watched Batman movies and became entranced by the Dark Knight, who uses his intellect and high-tech gizmos to impose nocturnal vigilante justice. “He began to think of himself as a Batman type of person who was fighting evil, which to Mr. Muller was the 1%’ers,” Nelson wrote. Wearing a wetsuit to resemble the character, Muller said he had plotted a kidnapping for ransom to procure money from those he perceived as “evil wealthy people” in order to give it to the poor, an act he believed was “morally justified.”’
[aircrash] Call of the Void: Seven years on, what do we know about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370? … A deep dive into the loss of MH370. ‘It was only on the evening of March 8th that Malaysia Airlines’ engineering department, which monitors satellite communications, provided the CEO with an astonishing update. Although the plane stopped sending data at 01:21, it continued to acknowledge transmissions from the satellite for a further seven hours. This suggested an unprecedented possibility: that the plane didn’t crash into the South China Sea; rather, it continued flying throughout the night and into the morning. At the time that the wreckage search began, the plane may well have still been in the air!’
[crime] The $30 Million Lottery Scam … The story of a huge, out of control gambling addiction / lottery scam / Ponzi Scheme that keeps excalating. ‘Vitto checked the winning numbers and discovered that he’d won $10,000. “That’s freaking unbelievable!” he said. When he raced back to the office, Gjonaj confessed that he had 2,000 winning tickets. He had won $10 million. Vitto told me Gjonaj gave him $100,000, and asked for his help. They sat up all night drinking Red Bulls and stapling lottery tickets to forms. Their laughter echoed around the empty office: “We’re rich!” “We sat down and he said, ‘I want to show you what’s going on,’” Vitto recalled. Gjonaj drew out his grid and explained how he picked his numbers. Vitto knew it wasn’t possible to game the lottery like this, but he kept quiet. He was grateful for the money and a stable job. “Don’t try to wrap your head around it. He had no system,” Vitto told me.’
[life] Taliban Bureaucrats Hate Working Online All Day, ‘Miss the Days of Jihad’ … Please note that this is not an Onion headline. ‘The real test and challenge was not during the jihad. Rather, it’s now. At that time, it was simple, but now things are much more complicated. We are tested by cars, positions, wealth and women. Many of our mujahedin, God forbid, have fallen into these seemingly sweet, but actually bitter traps.’
On the Fitzgerald, the list of maintenance jobs ran into the hundreds. Most of them were minor: a request for new coolant for a refrigeration unit, another for a certain type of washer.
But a dozen or so were considered more serious. They included problems with the ship’s primary navigation system. It was the oldest such system among destroyers based in Japan. It was running on Windows 2000, even though other ships had been upgraded. It could not display information from the AIS.
The broken email system had a “major impact” on the ship’s day-to-day operations. Microsoft Outlook did not work. Nor could commanders communicate over a classified email system. The ship’s entire network was suffering. Officers could not access sailors’ work profiles, order parts or even keep track of new repair requests.
Technicians were constantly fixing the SPS-73, the other main navigational radar on the Fitzgerald. Sometimes, the radar would show the destroyer heading the wrong way. At other times, it simply locked up and would have to be shut down. The SPS-73’s antenna was nearing the end of its life, and had been scheduled for replacement in April. But the maintenance had been delayed when the Fitzgerald was assigned to patrol North Korea.
A third radar, used for warfare, was slow to acquire targets, but technicians had installed a temporary fix that became permanent. “Problem known since 2012. Declared hopeless,” read notes attached to the repair report.
[games] Curry with the GOAT: Jeff Minter on 40 years operating on the far side … Interview with Jeff Minter on his long history as a game creator. ‘ That’s the thing about being a proper game designer – you can set out and no matter what goes on, you encounter hardship but you know you’ve made this journey a million times before, you know you can make it to the other side, you know the day will dawn where you’ll find that one thing that works and you’ve just got to fucking stick to it. I get frustrated with people saying they started making this game and the moment an obstacle comes up they throw their arms up and say I’m not going to do this anymore. The number one skill in making a game is completion! Bring the thing through – make the thing! ‘
[truecrime] The Notorious Mrs. Mossler … A true crime story from the 1960s about a love affair that led to murder and a highly publicized trial. ‘It was, in short, the O. J. Simpson trial of its era. Rarely had circumstances converged to produce such a sensational story, one that, as the Houston Chronicle put it, was teeming with “love, heat, greed, savage passion, intrigue, incest and perversion.”’
[funny] Regarding Efforts By You, An Inferior Person, To Cancel Me, A Genius … ‘When you think I am getting facts “wrong,” you are missing how I am illuminating what truth means. When you say I am “ignoring context,” you are missing how I am illustrating the unknowability of context. When you say I am contradicting myself, you fail to recognize I am in a Platonic dialogue with myself, and both sides of myself are winning.’
[mac] Moof-A-Day: Early Macintosh Software … A fantastic, playable collection of early-era Macintosh software added to daily and cracked by 4am, a modern day software cracker of 1980s-era Apple software. ‘In late 2013, I acquired a real Apple //e and bought a few lots of original disks on eBay, mostly arcade games that I had acquired illicitly in my youth: Sneakers, Repton, Dino Eggs. To my surprise, the originals had more content than I remembered! Sneakers has an animated boot sequence. Repton has a multi-page introduction that explains the “back story” of the game. So I set out to create “complete” cracks that faithfully reproduced the original experience. I decided to document my methods because I enjoy technical writing and because I had admired the classic crackers who had done so. I decided to leave out the crack screens, although a handful of my early cracks do have Easter eggs where you can see “4am” if you know how to trigger it.’
[comics] Grant Morrison’s Judge Dredd [Part I | Part II | Part III] … A look back at Grant Morrison’s Judge Dredd stories. ‘Much has been, and continues to be, said about their work. And yet there is a gap. There is an odd little gap. A gap that exists not because nobody’s noticed it, but because it is seen and then brushed past. Grant Morrison’s Judge Dredd. People seem to go ‘Oh! They did that!’ and then they move right on. They tend to forget, more often than not. Those that remember, particularly 2000AD lifers, have already gotten an established consensus that hangs in the air, so it’s not something paid much attention to. It’s a thing of the distant past, like a vague shape that exists. You recall it, but then forget it.’
[comics] Incel Supernova: From a Single Comic Strip to the End of the Universe with Scott Adams – The Comics Journal … Abhay Khosla takes a deep dive into the world of Scott Adams. ‘The title of his book is correct. Scott Adams won. He won at comics – but with comics that abandon the whimsy or sadness of the great strips, and embrace resentment and isolation. He won at politics – thanks to a coarse grifter appealing to desperate people’s most racist instincts. He won at getting into arguments on the internet – an internet clogged with helpless people begging, pleading, crying that you GoFund their health care. He won at having money in a country that values nothing besides that. He’s a darling of a media too impotent and untrusted to even convince Americans that Donald Trump is a con man. He’s won in a game too grotesque for any decent person to still want to play.’
[art] The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief … The surprisingly sad story behind a very prolific art thief. ‘In the annals of art crime, it’s hard to find someone who has stolen from ten different places. By the time the calendar flips to 2000, by Breitwieser’s calculations, he’s nearing 200 separate thefts and 300 stolen objects. For six years, he’s averaged one theft every two weeks. One year, he is responsible for half of all paintings stolen from French museums.’