Category: links

Lunch Links: Staffing changes, Tarantino and E3

Posted by – June 9, 2012

Chuck Klosterman has joined The New York Times Magazine as the publication’s new ethics columnist. Like most of his readers who have followed him for more than a book or two and around the Internet, I’ll read whatever he has to say about anything, so watching him hit an ethics piñata around on a regular basis should be fun.

• Meanwhile, Laura Hudson announced that she’s leaving ComicsAlliance as editor-in-chief. The site will be in capable hands with Andy Khouri and Caleb Goellner, both of whom are outstanding wranglers of news and commentary. Laura really elevated the conversation on numerous occasions at CA, though. She’ll be missed.

• It’s hard to imagine a more credible duo to pair for a hip-hop record than GZA and Neil deGrasse Tyson. In fact, this is probably the best collaboration I’ve heard tell of since Tom Waits united with Kool Keith.

• Quentin Tarantino’s new trailer for “Django Unchained” arrived. Race relations have always been a minefield for criticism in this guy’s films. It looks like “Django” won’t be an exception.

• Ray Bradbury’s death cast a shadow over the the week. The history of his perspective on e-publishing and how he ultimately decided to allow his works to be published digitally was nice to read, however.

• I had hoped to add something E3 related that I was excited about here, since the show concluded a few days ago. “Watch Dogs,” the WiiU and Microsoft’s SmartGlass were definitely the most interesting topics to emerge from the show, but I really can say for sure yet whether or not I’ve got a personal interest in getting my hands on any of them.

Breakfast Links: ‘Games of Thrones,’ Spotify and Dark Energy

Posted by – April 2, 2012

The New York Times did a laudable job assembling this interactive piece on the Trayvon Martin shooting.
• Do you want to see how to take Facebook’s Timeline feature and use it to your media company’s advantage? Look no further than Spotify’s page. It’s one giant historical rundown of landmark music events, complete with clickable links to play tracks in Spotify.

• “Game of Thrones” returned to HBO last night for its second season, and I’m currently just over one book ahead of where the story is at right now. Stannis (played by Stephen Dillane) seemed understated, and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) bore a much closer resemblance to Celine Dion than I’d pictured while reading A Clash of Kings. Nevertheless, “The North Remembers” really nailed the drama and essence of its scenes one at a time and at the right pace. Meanwhile, I recommend checking out the commentary of a couple of old colleagues of mine, Josh and Sean, over at Sean is also covering the new season for Rolling Stone (and I’m in the same boat as he is in regards to the baby killing).

• Ashton Kutcher has reportedly been cast as Steve Jobs. I just recently completed Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio, so this choice took a few minutes to play out in my head. I can definitely see Kutcher capturing Jobs’ more manic moments. However, I’m just having a tough time envisioning how he’ll deliver some of the more condescending scenes that are going to have to be a part of the story.

• The “Girls Around Me” app is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever heard of, but if you’re into innovative API use, it’s definitely a case study (on use and user policies) worth being aware.

• My new favorite acronym is BOSS (Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey), and think you’ll agree that it certainly is when you see what kind of cosmic measurements it’s taking. I’m pretty much all for most things that involve better understandings of dark energy.
• If you like bite-sized Men’s Health-style advice and spunky insights, I recommend checking out my friend Patty Hastings’ new blog at She’s full of practical suggestions for nutrition and yoga novices such as myself.

Breakfast Links: a BSG trailer, a ‘Doctor Who’ companion and the NYT paywall

Posted by – March 21, 2012

• Syfy debuted their trailer for “Blood and Chrome,” the new “Battlestar Galactica” prequel project, which may be a Web series or a pilot/TV movie. My first impression from this trailer is that it’s all action and “Immigrant Song,” so I worry that they’re trying to overcompensate for “Caprica” ditching outer-space dogfights for character development and just turning “Blood and Chrome” into a low-budget, Michael Bay-styled, run-of-the-mill, direct-to-Syfy movie. “Blood and Chrome” looks like an adrenaline-charged Syfy original project, which isn’t the same thing as saying it looks like a good BSG spin-off. I’ll reserve judgment until Adama starts talking. (via io9)

• Producer Steven Moffet dropped some bombshell “Doctor Who” announcements, revealing that actress Jenna-Louise Coleman will be Matt Smith’s new companion and join the show’s cast in this year’s Christmas special. The Christmas special will be the sixth of six episodes released in 2012. The fifth one will be Amy and Rory’s last and feature the Weeping Angels, according to a Moffet quote on the DW Twitter account.

The New York Times recently announced that they’re closing the iris a bit for unpaid readers from 20 to 10 articles per month. Meanwhile, as of Q1 2012, they have upped their digital subscription count to 454,000. This was interesting to me, since Steve Jobs touched on these numbers in the Walter Isaacson bio that I recently finished. Jobs thought the The NYT could charge $5/month and net about 10 million subscribers. Right now, they’re charging way more than that and reaching far fewer digital subscribers. Nevertheless, Ryan Chittum has a great post up at The Audit where he notes the paper’s success and predicts they will pass the 500,000 mark before October. He also points out the big question on everyone’s minds, which is quite simply, “When will digital revenue start appearing on the company’s quarterly earnings reports?” (via

The Wall Street Journal took a look at the iPad 3’s data usage over LTE networks. Download speeds may be 10 times faster, but $30 a month for 2 or 3 gigabytes can go fast when you’re using that Retina Display screen. I think everyone can see the writing on the wall, as content access costs are increasing and Verizon and AT&T are the ones getting the cash. (via Brian Stelter)

• Wallpaper images, meanwhile, only need to be downloaded once, and Cult of Mac shared some gorgeous iPad-ready mosaics from graphic design artist Stephen C. Page. I put one on my throwback first-gen iPad. (via Russ Frushtick)

• This video from Nature about a camera that uses scattered photon detection to see through walls and around corners may blow your mind a little bit.

CES 2012 highlights that matter

Posted by – January 10, 2012

Ubuntu TV

Unfortunately, my work did not take me to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. I’ve been forced instead to keep up with announcements and displays through CNET, GigaOM and the Chicago Tribune’s Wailin Wong on Twitter, as well as a few other places. As I touched on a few weeks back, the intersections of mobile, TV and identity recognition are places that I am paying close attention to this year. Thus far, the attention-getters at CES have largely corroborated those expectations.

Ubuntu TV was an interesting development, however. It’s true that I am forever going to associate mainstream awareness of Ubuntu with a shameful 2009 story out of Wisconsin that you may remember. (Basically, a girl dropped out of college and blamed the operating system.) This story will always make me cringe, but if the Ubuntu brand is lucky, attention for its TV endeavor will outgrow the attention it received for that bizarre tale.

• The Roku Streaming Stick seems like something completely logical that was a long time coming. True to the trend of digital content boxes getting smaller and smaller, this thing is basically a box that’s the size of a thumb drive.

• I am mostly uninterested in control peripherals for the iPhone and tablets. “Super Crate Box” on iPad has recently made be reconsider that stance, though. Ion’s iCade Mobile is a sort of solution to button needs, even if it does make your device look like an Atari Lynx.

• Elsewhere, Razer unveiled its Project Fiona tablet, which I’m not sure I entirely understand. But hey, it’s got an i7 processor.

• Samsung has their new 55-inch Super OLED TV, meanwhile. It’s a little hard to appreciate much more than the product design through pictures on the Internet, and few things interest me less that 3-D TV capabilities, but I think it is notable that we’re now at the point where we’re talking about real TV sets with quad-core processors.

The best comics of 2011 and other links

Posted by – January 6, 2012

Since Christmas, I’ve taken a 24-hour Amtrak ride out to Washington, D.C., upped my freelance output and generally been on a wild ride (which has even included red pandas!). Here are a few other items of importance.

• It has been somewhat of an annual gig for me the last few years to contribute to CBR’s “Top 100 Comics” lists. Kiel Phegley always does an amazing job wrangling all the votes and write-ups together for this feature, and he came through once again. For 2011, you’ll find me making my cases for Michael Kupperman’s Mark Twain “autobiography,” Chris Ware’s “Touch Sensitive,”Morning Glories” and “Detective Comics” and “Uncanny X-Force” in the final ten.

• Tom Spurgeon has a great interview up at The Comics Reporter with my ComicsAlliance editor Laura Hudson.

• Google TV turned out to be quite a flop out of the gate last year, but Google is getting ready for a second go at it at CES. As Staci D. Kramer at paidContent points out, there’s been some partnership shuffling.

• As a regular reader of The Verge and a former daily collaborator with Russ Frushtick at MTV Multiplayer, I’m really excited to see what Vox Media has in store for games journalism.

• I’m glad Rick Marshall is continuing to post sketches from his Hunter S. Thompson collection.

Interviews and digital solutions from my team’s project at Medill

Posted by – December 19, 2011

Population data as it can be viewed in our interactive Disparity Map display.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my team at Medill recently completed our project with The Chicago Reporter, developing digital solutions and recommending business strategies to help the magazine be more effective online.

It was a real pleasure to work on. We conducted user research, talked to journalists at news sites and mapped out a thick set of ideas that we believe can help strengthen one of Chicago’s best investigative news sources.

There are three great places you can visit now to learn about the work we did, and they are:

Medill’s website, where you can read an interview with me about our research and final proposals.

• Our Disparity Map, which is an interactive tool we developed to display race, education, income and housing information about Chicago communities.

• And of course, a live recording of our final presentation at the McCormick Tribune Center, where you can see everything explained. It’s about an hour and a half long, though, so find a comfortable chair.

3DS Wi-Fi, a PS Vita copycat and ‘Diablo 3’ in gaming news for Monday morning

Posted by – December 12, 2011

Just catching up on games industry headlines from the weekend:

• Nintendo made a smart partnership decision business-wise when they brought free Wi-Fi for the DS into McDonald’s restaurants. Airport visitors probably know who Boingo is and recognize why free Wi-Fi for 3DS users at Boingo access points could also be a wise move. (via Joystiq)

• As many of you know, I’ll soon be out in Washington, D.C. The timing for The Smithsonian’s “The Art of Video Games” exhibit couldn’t be better. I don’t know about these fan pictures though.

• This Chinese PS Vita knock-off is just laughable—or at least it would be if it weren’t so sad.

• The Spike TV Video Game Awards took place over the weekend. I didn’t tune in, though I did keep up with the winners (Skyrim came out on top). Based on the years when I have watched the show, I tend to agree with Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann, who suggested that a better name conceptually for the event would be “World Exclusive Mania: Game Trailers You Ain’t Seen Before: The TV Show.” I should note that I do love new trailers. But I often prefer watching them on the Internet if the alternative requires setting aside an evening at home.

• And speaking of VGA debuts, a cinematic trailer for Diablo III showed up. I have to admit that I was rolling my eyes throughout much of the first half. It picks up and gets much less abstract toward the end.

And if you’d like to catch up on other trailer reactions, I suggest checking out Rick Marshall’s commentary.

Science reporting from the past year

Posted by – November 21, 2011

I’ve added a few links to the right sidebar today. The year at Medill has allowed me to explore some specialized areas of reporting, including a lot of breaking science news last spring. As you can see, a few of the highlights included:

A piece on the arsenic-based life debate

An article published in the Northwest Indiana Times about the Obama administration’s new labeling system for fuel efficiency standards

ChicagoQuest’s game-based approach to education

A new theory on a one-dimensional universe

The theory behind “virtual water”

Atomic clock improvements

Link Sausage: 10/16/2011

Posted by – October 16, 2011

• If there’s a new English translation of a Haruki Murakami novel coming out, chances are it’s already on my read it ASAP list. After reading this perspective piece by Yuka Igarashi at Granta today, I think the priority level for 1Q84 has been upped. The reworked and recycled motifs of Murakami’s writing are a big part of what keeps me coming back to him. Terror and religion are two topics I’ve wanted to see him explore more deeply, so I’m really looking forward to diving into this book sometime in the near future.

• I’ve been wrestling with Craig Thompson’s Habibi since I read it a few weeks ago, and Robyn Creswell obviously did in her New York Times review as well. I agree with G. Willow Wilson that the review discounted Thompson’s art to a huge degree, but I also share Creswell’s frustrations with the neo-Orientalist style and tone. For me, the underlying question at the end of the book was much the same as hers in regard to whose fantasies were being expressed and how to parse them.

• As far as I’m concerned as a reader, the announcement that there’s more of Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy on the horizon from Dark Horse was the finest news to emerge from the New York Comic Con weekend.

• If you’re a Wolverine follower and Sabretooth fan, you may have found the news that Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi are bringing him back to be a bigger deal.

• Oh, and then there was that new phone from Apple that came out. The premise of Siri is definitely something I can get behind, but when it comes to my capacity for skepticism, halfway decent voice recognition software rivals UFOs and Bigfoot. Nevertheless, this guy got Siri to run on an iPhone 4, which was fascinating.

Link Sausage: 9/3/2011

Posted by – September 3, 2011

• Well, first off, I’m really excited to be hitting up SPX next weekend for the first time in a few years. The show just announced that it’s going to be partnering with the Library of Congress to archive comics.

• I read Haruki Murakami’s new short story, “Town of Cats,” earlier this evening. It’s over on There are cats and powerful human experiences distilled through absence (go figure, right?). I of course loved it.

• The Rum Diary trailer has landed, and it was worth the wait.

• Lastly, I’m not opposed to a giant tablet kitchen table for reading my news in the morning, but that’s going to be quite a dining room commitment for a lot of people if it ever takes off.