Born Slippy: the Making of Star Fox

Damien McFerran's 20-year retrospective on the making of StarFox. This quote from Jez San, about working with Shigeru Miyamoto, jumped out at me:

"It was amazing to see the way he worked," says San. "He didn't design games up front, like western game designers would do. He had ideas and liked to play, refine and evolve. He especially liked to iterate - he did a lot of trial and error. It really felt like he would be flying by the seat of his pants much the time. It was occasionally frustrating, because you couldn't schedule the project in advance. You couldn't know how much effort or man-hours were required for any specific feature or element because he didn't really plan in any great detail. He seemed to do everything by what feels right, which means it has to be pretty much fully built before he could evaluate how much fun it was - and then he'd tell you to change this or change that, and so on."

I doubt that anyone who has ever played a Miyamoto game would be surprised that he relentlessly iterates.

Why Your Supermarket Only Sells 5 Kinds of Apples

The Harrison apple, the pride of Newark, New Jersey, renowned in the early 1800s for making a golden, champagne-like cider that just might have been the finest in the world. But the Harrison, like most of the high-tannin varieties that make good hard cider, disappeared after Prohibition. (The recent hard-cider revival has been making do largely with apples designed for fresh eating, which make boring cider.) But in 1976 one of Bunk's fellow apple detectives found a single old Harrison tree on the grounds of a defunct cider mill in Livingston, New Jersey, grafted it, and now a new generation of Harrison trees is just beginning to bear fruit. It's as if a storied wine grape called pinot noir had just been rediscovered.

A wonderful article about John Bunker, founder of Fedco Trees, working hard to bring back old and rare varieties of apples. If you make it through this article, and don't crave a crisp apple, you're broken.

Looking at Daft Punk's new album, 'Random Access Memories'

Steven Hyden for Grantland:

RAM's most polarizing track is "Giorgio by Moroder," in which the 73-year-old Italian disco pioneer talks about the origins of his career over a swirling soundscape […] The song has been dismissed as a hectoring history lesson for bratty club kids. But when Moroder talks about his early ambition to make an album "with the sounds of the '50s, the sounds of the '60s and the '70s, and a sound of the future," he could just as well be talking about Random Access Memories.

I'm a fan of the song, and I'm a fan of the concept of the album. I think that Daft Punk were completely self-aware when they stuck this little nugget into 'Giorgio by Moroder'.

That said, I don't expect I'll listen to RAM more than a few times through. I like the concept, but I'm not feeling the album, itself.

The Sad State of MLB's Blackout Policy

Thus, as long as I am standing in Carlisle, PA, I can’t watch Phillies broadcasts. However, if I go a half hour to the west in Chambersburg, PA, Phillies games are not shown on television, but also are not blacked out in the packages. If I go a half hour to the east in Harrisburg, PA, Phillies games are blacked out in the packages, but shown on local television. Therefore, this tiny strip of land in Central PA is the only spot in the entire country that one can not legally watch Phillies games. It is purgatory for a Phillies fan.

It's completely ridiculous that these restrictions are in place. If the MLB was trying to proctect the local affiliates, they would show the local affiliate stream with the ads intact, and give revenue back to the affiliates. The current state just hurts customers.

If only there was some way to get around MLB's ridiculous blackout policy.

Rethinking the iPhone Lockscreen

Beautiful, really well thought out redesign of the iPhone lockscreen by Brent Caswell. There's not much I disagree with in here; although I'm not sure I'm down with how he defines what gets control of the "grabber". It could be confusing if I sort a card to be the first card, or if a card takes control of the first card.

Teller's Magic

That's what Bakardy stole from Teller: not the secret, but the magic. In his hands and in the hands of his desperate customers, Shadows risked becoming another Origami or the Zig-Zag Girl. It risked becoming ordinary, remembered for what it was only in eulogies.

A great article by Chris Jones in Esquire about Teller's quest to protect one of his most awe-inspiring tricks. See also this 2008 Las Vegas Weekly article about the briefly-mentioned "The Red Ball" trick that teller spent eighteen months working on before he performed it. Actually, I consider the 2008 article required-reading before moving on to the Esquire article.

For what it's worth, they're great Instapaper fodder.

Ben Brooks Lights Up the TSA

The TSA’s mother, DHS, has admitted now that their porno-scanners are only good for peep shows, and have asked DARPA to step in and make more bad-ass scanners for them. So TSA got all hot and bothered installing these scanners in 2010, now have more than 700 of them in operation, and just two years later they need new ones?

That’s what I call effective fiscal spending.

There just aren't words for how much of a gigantic failure the TSA is. Go read all of Ben's article. It's short. If you aren't furious by the end of it, you aren't hooked up right.

Steven Spielberg is Preparing 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' for an Imax Re-release

Q. As with the Imax release of “Raiders,” the Blu-ray releases of the Indy films are just upgrades in presentation – there are no other changes to the movies?

A. No, there’s no aesthetic changes to the films. I’m not going back and doing to any of my movies that are now coming out on Blu-ray what I did when “E.T.” was reissued for the third time and I made some digital changes in the picture. I’m not doing that any more. I’ve resigned myself to accepting that what the film was at the time of its creation is what it always should be for future generations. I’m no longer a digital revisionist.

If this interview doesn't get you in the mood to watch some big screen Indiana Jones, there's something seriously wrong with you.

Bill Gates on Quest to Reinvent the Toilet

"Toilets are extremely important for public health and, when you think of it, even human dignity," Gates said.

"The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 per cent of the global population, because they often don't have access to water, and sewers, electricity, and sewage treatment systems."

Not glorious, but really cool.