»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
10/16/18: PAUL GARDNER ALLEN, 1953-2018
Oct 15th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

One of Seattle’s (and the world’s) most prominent people passes. Also: KeyArena razing starts; more deliberate far-right violence; dams vs. orcas.

10/8/28: HOOP DREAMS
Oct 7th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

Sonics nostalgia on display; more national political nightmares; towns where Amazon’s good for physical retailers.

10/5/18: MOTION, STOPPED
Oct 4th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

Mr. ‘Claymation’ dies; who cares about the NBA anymore?; Viaduct razing will be fast and loud; recalling the ‘Infamous Kitsap Ferry Riot’.

5/23/18: THE CONCRETE FACTS
May 22nd, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

Still more public-works budgets busted; Seattle and the ‘dream of the ’90s’; the cost of Sawant’s city-printed rally posters; a new apt. complex in the wrong colors.

5/21/18: LOSING YOUR ‘HEAD’?
May 20th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

Anti-head-tax campaign begins with big funding; kayakers vs. pipeline redux; Susan Hutchison redux; Seattle’s not immune to hate-talk after all.

3/19/18: TOTE THAT BARGE, ER, DRYDOCK
Mar 18th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

A strange sight in Elliott Bay; should tech titans be split up?; a new angle to the 4Culture clash; solar panels at an ex-coal mine.

3/1/18: DIMMING THE LIGHTS ON AURORA
Feb 28th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

Inside another dying Sears; Sherman Alexie’s apology and counter-claims; making the ‘green’ cannabis trade less white; Seattle’s past attempts at an NHL team.

12/4/17: IN THE CARDS
Dec 3rd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Starting your news week: The woman behind a political card game; local reactions to GOP tax-scam bill; fish-farm salmon still out there; school funding solved at last?

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/5/16: AUTUMNAL ODYSSEY
Oct 5th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

We at #MISCmediaMAIL believe the Northwest autumn isn’t to be endured or survived but savored. We additionally sort out alleged conservative local-media bias; changes at SIFF; not-really-recyclable bags; ethnic emoticons; and a candle that supposedly smells like a “new Mac.”

MISCMedia MAIL for 8/15/16: STRAIGHTENING OUT THE ‘KNKX’
Aug 14th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

We can’t make sense of another senseless killing. But we do attempt to figure out KPLU’s strange new name; homeless health-care running low on funds; a big local sports weekend; and a craftsperson making “simple wooden caskets.”

ROOM AT THE IN (AND OUT) FOR ONE-FIVE
Jan 2nd, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

this year's space needle fireworks were sponsored by t-mobile and heavily emphasized the color 't-mobile magenta.'

As promised previously, MISCmedia is back for two-ought-one-five with a new commitment to try and make sense (or at least document the nonsense) of Life in the Demitasse Size City.

To start things off, and for the 29th consecutive year (really!), we proudly present the MISCmedia In/Out List, the most trusted (and only accurate) list of its kind in this and all other known media relay systems.

As always, this list operates under the premise that the future is not necessarily linear. It compiles what will become torrid and tepid in the coming year, not necessarily what’s torrid and tepid now. If you believe everything hot now will just keep getting hotter, I’ve got some RadioShack stock to sell you.

INSVILLE OUTSKI
Bratwurst Ice cream
Saving affordable housing Saving sandwich shops
Amazon as profitless, fragile giant Amazon as omnipotent leviathan
“Phablets” Apple Watch
Fully independent publishing Kindle Unlimited
Fully independent cinema Marvel Cinematic Universe
Ronan Farrow Michael Smerconish
Journalism Clickbait
Furniture Girls Taylor Swift
“Selfie sticks” Facebook food pictures
Euro-socialist revival GOP revival
Cardless payments Kardashians (still)
Dyed armpit hair Lululemon
“Black lives matter” “I’m not racist, but…”
Streaming TV Streaming music
Shoreline White Center
Cheap oil as climate threat Cheap oil as economic blessing
Forest green Taupe
Art Basel Burning Man
Compassion “Non-apologies”
Fiat Google drone car
Women Who Code “Brogrammers”
Cards Against Humanity Candy Crush
Human rights for Cuba New cars for Cuba
Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) Jessica Alba
Tiny houses Charter schools
Legalizing/protecting sex workers Banning protests
Vox Daily Currant
Tucson Austin
Four Roses Fireball
Chris Pratt Seth Rogan
Funky weirdness Soulless “luxury”
Mariners comeback UW football comeback
Insulting Russia Insulting North Korea
Treasure hunts Private “event spaces”
Fried chicken Bacon
Bakugan Minecraft
Ending the waterfront tunnel Closing movie theaters
“Sweetums” “Bae”
RANDOM LINKS FOR 2-2-14
Feb 2nd, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Since most of my most loyal readers will have other things to do on Sunday afternoon, here’s some relatively timeless randomosity for whenever you log back in:

  • Kentucky’s GOP Senators forced Wash. state utilities to buy nuclear power components they don’t really need.
  • Amazon has exercised its option to buy the Belltown block where the Hurricane Cafe has been for 20 years (and the legendary Dog House had been for more than three decades before that).
  • Meanwhile, the Washington State Convention Center is buying the Honda of Seattle block.
  • As we approach five years since the last printed Post-Intelligencer (still missed), we must say goodbye to one of its ol’ mainstays, reporter John Engstrom.
  • If anybody knows what’s still stalling the waterfront tunnel machine, nobody’s telling.
  • There was a “Progressive Radio Summit” in Seattle, in which the keynote speaker claimed “the only sustainable model for broadcasters today is subscription based programming.”
  • The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is still financially desperate.
  • White privilege: it exists, whether it’s visible to you or not.
  • Yes, Macklemore hired an established distribution company (the same one Sub Pop and others use) to get his CD into retail stores. That still qualifies as “not having a record label,” no matter what NPR says.
  • Steve Wilhelm at the Puget Sound Business Journal warns that Boeing’s strong arm tactics against the Machinists Union may cost the company more than it gains.
  • As Paramount becomes the first Hollywood studio to cease distributing movies on film reels to theaters, indie filmmakers take to the proverbial the Star-Off Machine and “reach for 16mm.” Meanwhile, there’s a campaign to “Save Film,” as a medium for both movie production and exhibition.
  • It’s always trouble when typographers attack one another.
BALLMER IN GILEAD
Aug 29th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

ballmer at we day in keyarena, 3/27/13

In its 36-plus years of existence, Microsoft has had only two CEOs.

But no longer.

Steve Ballmer’s calling it quits, effective some time next year.

Fret not for the big guy with the big voice and the big body language. He’ll get a retirement-severance package bigger than the economies of several Third World states.

It’s what will happen to the empire of code and copyrights in Redmond (with tendrils worldwide) that’s at stake.

As all good schoolchilden know, Microsoft began in the primordial-ooze era of pre-personal computers, when tiny startup companies made build-it-youself electronics kits which, when assembled, could perform some of the functions of “real” computers (except, you know, for the function of performing real, practical work).

Bill Gates and Paul Allen made a stripped-down version of the BASIC programming language; then (more importantly) they established the notion that software should be paid for. They backed up this concept with copyrights and patents and lawyers.

With Ballmer at their side, Gates and Allen bought an operating system, re-sold it to IBM, and kept the right to also sell versions of it to other computer makers. MS would let hardware makers battle it out among themselves while it controlled the “platform” their products all ran.

This led to the DOS near-monopoly, which segued into the Windows near-monopoly.

It also led to Office and Internet Explorer.

It led to SQL Server, and to other high-end business software and related services.

Most everything Microsoft makes money from can be traced directly back to its early DOS-era dominance.

The company’s tried to get into other things. But those other things have had mixed results.

Remember MSN.com’s “online shows” concept? (The last survivor of those sites, Slate, is now among the Washington Post Co. properties not being sold to Jeff Bezos.)

Remember WebTV, HD-DVD, Mediaroom, Bob, Clippy, Hotmail, Actimates toys, the Encarta CD-ROM encyclopedia, Sidewalk.com, and Zune?

It’s probably easier to remember the Surface RT tablet device, the one the company recently wrote off to the tune of $900 million.

The company’s most successful new consumer-product line, the XBox game platform, is built (at least marketing-wise) on Windows’ gaming clientele. And even this realm has had its duds (XBox One, anyone?).

The jury’s still out on Windows Phone. Is there room for a third smartphone platform?

Microsoft could afford all these failures. Yes, even the Surface RT.

It could afford to keep an unsuccessful project going long enough to learn every little thing about why it failed.

And it could keep a successful project going long enough to watch its trajectory as the times, and the industry, pass it by.

So: Is today’s tech-universe passing Microsoft by?

Some analysts and pundits are making that claim.

They say the age one-size-fits-all personal computer has peaked.

There aren’t enough reasons for people or companies to keep replacing them as fast as they used to.

Especially with tablets and smart phones, and their hordes of specialty-function “apps” that make everything-for-everybody software like Office seem like lumbering beasts of prey.

So what should the next MS-boss do?

For one thing, he or she (and how come no women have been named as potentials?) could dump the notorious employee “stack ranking” system, that causes percentages of workers in each unit to be labeled as inferior no matter what. It’s horrid for morale and for productivity, and does nothing to improve products or services. If Ballmer really deserves to be called the “worst CEO ever” (he’s not, not by a long shot), it would be over this.

Next: Windows and Office still have many lucrative years left in them. That means there’ll be enough cash on hand to re-steer the company.

But to steer it where?

I say, away from Windows as the “one ring to rule them all.”

Even before phones and tablets, Windows had become an unwieldy thing, needing to perform the same functions (or at least most of them) on umpteen different hardware architectures, from sub-laptops to server arrays; for use by everyone from sophomores and shopkeepers to hospitals and factories.

Word and Excel have similarly undergone years of mounting “feature bloat,” hindering their everyday use at all but the most complex tasks. (Both are also based on a printed-page visual metaphor that’s increasingly obsolete as more people do everything on screens.)

What people increasingly need are simple ways to do specific things (preparing specific kinds of texts or crunching specific kinds of numbers, say), and to bounce the resulting documents around between different machines (their own and other people’s).

Think modular.

Think “apps,” to use the modern parlance.

The New MS could supply a basic ecosystem for modular software, which could be supplemented by developers large and small working in file formats (but not underlying code structures) compatible across different devices running different OSes in different screen sizes.

There’s plenty of space in that for all kinds of software puzzle pieces and building blocks. And for developers and template-scripters to build them.

And there’s no reason (other than entrenched corporate culture) why a lot of those builders couldn’t be at Microsoft.

Think even more “micro,” even more “soft.”

RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/11/13
Jul 10th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Nostalgia Alert: M.J. McDermott, KCPQ’s morning weatherperson, was “Ronnie” on Roscoe and Ronnie, the last local kids’ show on commercial TV. It was axed in ’95, when KSTW’s out-of-state owners killed all that station’s local programming. Now she’s petitioning the FCC, to encourage shows like that to be brought back.
  • Roberta Byrd Barr, recently deceased at age 74, was Seattle’s first female high-school principal, and the first African-American to host local TV public-affairs shows.
  • Seattle without the original Ivar’s Acres of Clams? It could happen, for as long as nine months. It’s one of 15 waterfront businesses the City wants to pay to keep closed during tunnel construction.
  • Seattle Times Shrinkage Watch: Executive editor David Boardman’s quitting after 30 years, to work at Temple U in Philly.
  • Seattle Central Community College’s health-ed programs could move into part of the old Beacon Hill hospital tower that was once Amazon’s HQ.
  • Amazon’s getting into comix publishing, specializing (at least at first) in adaptations of Nerderati-favorite novelists.
  • Edward Snowden: Courageous whistleblower or right-Libertarian Obama-basher?
  • The Beats: Daring nonconformists or sexist dweebs?
  • UK publisher Felix Dennis sold the U.S. edition of Maxim and two other “lad mags” for $250 million. Six years later, Maxim is for sale again, for a mere $20 million.
  • A federal judge has ruled against Apple and the big book publishers in that e-book price-fixing suit.
  • Health Scare of the Week: Fish oil capsules could give men cancer.
  • Just because most people who believe themselves to be MSG- or gluten-intolerant probably aren’t, it doesn’t mean they don’t get real symptoms.
  • Take away the “hipster”-bashing headline and there’s still a potential real problem with people who decide they can’t run their backyard chicken coops anymore, and who just drop off the critters at animal shelters.
  • The Quebec oil-train disaster was caused by plain ol’ crude catching on fire, just like in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Next Big (Televised) Thing, according to the Norwegians: “Slow TV.” Long-attention-span (or simply hypnotic) umpteen-hour, real-time explorations of train trips, knitting demonstrations, and salmon fishing.
  • After 40 years as everybody’s favorite “obscure music” band, the Residents deserve better than for have Ke$ha’s backup dancers to steal their trademark eyeballs-and-tuxedos look.
  • Back in the mid-’90s, Penn and Teller set out to create the world’s dullest and most infuriating video game. They probably succeeded.

the new yorker

IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO, ER, LAST MONTH
May 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

ap via nbc news

While I’ve been busy doing whatever (looking for a new home, etc.), I missed a few big birthdays here in online-land.

Tim Berners-Lee opened the first public World Wide Web site on 4/30/93 at the CERN particle-physics lab in Switzerland. For the occasion, that site has been put back up at its original URL.

Berners-Lee was, and still is, an idealist. In the original CERN site’s documents, he described the WWW as something that could open up information to the masses.

Instead of “walled garden” online networks such as CompuServe, Prodigy, and the original AOL, the Web would be open to all comers and contributors. Anybody could put anything on, or receive anything from, it.

This ultimate “disruptive technology,” creator of LOLcat memes and destroyer of newspapers, record labels, and middle-class livelihoods, got its start with the most noble of intentions.

(Just like many a mad-scientist-movie experiment.)

By pure coincidence, the first issue of Wired magazine was out that same month.

From the start, it was intended to be a lot more important than a mere buying guide to PC gear. It was to chronicle tech as the biggest economic, societal, and even ideological movement of our time.

It posited loudmouth, alpha-male San Franciscan Libertarians as the Voice of the Future. It sneered at governments, residents of “Tired” locales (France, Manhattan, Seattle), and people who dared to think about the well-being of others as backward-thinking parasites.

In the world according to the early Wired, CEOs were the new rock stars, even the new royalty. No social or environmental issue could be discussed in its pages, unless there was a potential solution that would also enrich (or at least never inconvenience) big business.

In the end, the bosses and bosses’ lackeys Wired worshipped got most of their way.

And as cyber-critic Jason Lanier notes, the 99 Percent are still trying to pick up the pieces.

That same week 10 years later, Apple launched the first version of the iTunes Store.

The iTunes application had been around since 2001, when Apple bought and revamped a third-party program called SoundJam MP.

Steve Jobs had identified music (and eventually general media) playback as a technology in which Apple had to lead, for the sake of the company’s survival. Otherwise, Windows-only applications and file formats (remember WinAmp?) would shut out Mac users, threatening Apple’s presence in home environments. By making iTunes, and making a Windows version of it, Jobs and co. stayed in the home-computer game.

Two years later, Windows Media-only file protection schemes were threatening to put a lock on “legal” (commercial) music downloads. Again, the Mac and its users would be shut out. Apple’s response not only had to be Windows-compatible, it had to dominate the market on both platforms.

The iTunes Store did that, and more.

Its stand-alone hardware adjuct, the iPod, quickly dominated the new market of portable digital music machines.

And along the way, iTunes allegedly “killed the old music industry.”

(Of course, many of us felt the old music industry had deserved to die, but that’s not the point here.)

But now, the notion of music downloads seems as archaic as the notion of buying music on little compact discs.

The big hype these days is for streaming music subscriptions, a field which Apple has yet to enter.

Yet through all these industry changes, one thing remains constant.

Most recording artists themselves still get the fiscal shaft.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa
© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).