The return of…Palm?

Andrew Orlowski at The Register:

Of all the intellectual property rights on which our future prosperity depends, perhaps trademarks are the most undervalued. The deep emotional power of a brand endures, long after its parent has expired.

Don’t believe me? Well, Palm is coming back. Yes, Palm.

This sounds like a Palm-in-name-only deal where the 2000s era name will be affixed to an Android phone for…nostalgia seekers? Seems odd to me.

The death of the shared family computer

Computers, like telephones, originally entered U.S. homes in a single unit, tucked away just out of sight but usually accessible to all. Katie Reid at The Verge:

I can still see the Dell I grew up using as clear as day, like I just connected to NetZero yesterday. It sat in my eldest sister’s room, which was just off the kitchen. Depending on when you peeked into the room, you might have found my dad playing Solitaire, my sister downloading songs from Napster, or me playing Wheel of Fortune or writing my name in Microsoft Paint. The rules for using the family desktop were pretty simple: homework trumped games; Dad trumped all. Like the other shared equipment in our house, its usefulness was focused and direct: it was a tool that the whole family used, and it was our portal to the wild, weird, wonderful internet. As such, we adored it.

I remember the phenomenon of losing my dial up internet connection because someone picked up the phone, or patiently waiting my turn to check my email. The PowerMac 7200 (or the IIsi before it) was parked in a spare bedroom and required time and effort to log on. The thought of having unlimited personal access to the internet anywhere you went seemed crazy.

Today when I stand on the subway platform virtually everyone is staring down, their faces aglow in blue light. I’m just as guilty as anyone else- with Bluetooth earbuds plugged into my head I commute in a personal media bubble. As a perfect example of “do as I say and not as I do” we attempt to limit the kids’ access to devices as best we can, knowing that society will eventually force us to relinquish control. Katie Reid:

The advent of constant access has inevitably changed our relationship with tech. At one time, discovering the magical capabilities of our devices astonished and invigorated us. Now, we find them glomming on to our routines: joining us for dinner or family strolls, going on vacations or out on dates with us, waking us up in the morning and tucking us in at night. Though it was harder to come by, the computer time you ended up with on the shared family desktop was cherished and, maybe as a result, that much sweeter. Yet there was an untroubled ritual that, day after day, required us to step away.

How Microsoft became tech’s good guy

Preston Gralla at Computerworld:

Once upon a time, Microsoft symbolized all that was wrong with the tech world: greedy, monopolistic, single-mindedly focused on profits while caring little about the public good. In the heyday of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, the company ran roughshod over competitors in its attempt to corral the worldwide market for both operating systems and application software.

But today, Microsoft has embraced the role of the tech world’s better angel. And as events show in recent weeks, that’s not hype. The company has, to some extent, tried to act as the industry’s conscience as well as taking actions for the greater good.

Microsoft has somewhat surprisingly fallen off my radar in recent years, but it’s good to see them taking the lead on important issues like fighting Russian cyber-espionage and speaking out against involuntary facial recognition. Our government should be doing more on the former, but don’t get me started on that…

Galaxy Crisis

Speaking of astute film analysis, in my research I stumbled upon The New Yorker’s original review of ‘Star Wars’ from 1977. Penelope Gilliatt:

No sci-fi film—not even a sci-fi film set long ago—being complete without a robot and a computer, there is a gold-plated robot who walks as if his feet hurt, like a primal woman shopper, and an overweight computer who is a mixture of bald pate, traffic lights, and mailbox, and who transmits rapid information in a language that evokes Eskimo. The computer is the robot’s dearest and most irritating companion.

It’s hard to imagine a world where this film was quite so unfamiliar.

‘2001’ and the power of music to tell a story

Charlie Brigden, at Film School Rejects:

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is possibly the ultimate example of using music to tell a story in an opening title sequence, ostensibly telling the story of the classic film. It’s an incredibly simple concept, tracking the rise of the sun above the moon and earth, but Kubrick uses it as a thematic guide, with a grand gesture coming from his choice of music, the opening portion of Richard Strauss‘ 1896 tone poem “Also sprach Zarathustra,” itself based on a philosophical work by Friedrich Nietzsche.

‘2001’ will be deconstructed for as long as people watch film, but this is a good read.

Rolling back fuel economy standards

The current administration has chosen to put current clean vehicle regulations on hold, only to replace them with weaker ones down the line. Earther reports:

The plan calls for 2020 fuel-efficiency standards to be frozen in place through 2026 while sorting out what a new rule could look like, as well as ending California’s ability to set its own, more stringent standards. The end result will be a huge uptick in carbon emissions.

Waiting for the inevitable changing of the guard at the White House is one strategy, but…

Because people are likely to hang onto their cars for many years, the impacts would continue to play out beyond 2030. An analysis by Energy Innovation found that by 2035, U.S. transportation emissions will be 11 percent higher than they would be if the Obama-era standards and California’s waiver were kept in place.

Many years from now historians will have a full-time job documenting the post-Trump decades of cleaning up his long list of mistakes.

The 100 Best TV Episodes of the Century

I hadn’t heard of The Ringer before, but this site design is fantastic.

To come up with a list of the 100 best episodes, the entire Ringerstaff was asked to submit their favorite episodes of the century. The list was then assembled with those submissions in mind, and with one stipulation—that only one episode per show could make the cut.

Prepare to lose track of time reading this list. There are some controversial choices, too. I’m sure #1 will irk more than a few.