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w/e 2020-06-28

Noticing that George’s COVID-19 Journal was approaching its 100th day struck me this week. Oh, it’s been that long. And who knows how much longer. I’m not planning on going anywhere or doing anything until… who knows when. It’s all getting a bit much. Or, rather, getting a bit little.

§ Right now I’m When I wrote the first draft of this I was listening to Music for Airports in Dub by Thomas Park, which I found via one of Disquiet’s regular current listens posts.

Which isn’t to give the impression it’s all Brian Eno-derived generative music round here. Yesterday I listened to SIXTYEIGHT2OHFIVE’s 1982 playlist. (And right now I’m on Spotify’s Nubya Garcia radio.)

§ I always enjoy seeing Chris Dorley-Brown’s photos of London even if they’re usually of parts of east London that are just beyond the areas I’m familiar with. During lockdown he’s been capturing the empty streets of more central locations, all with the same slightly odd, calm, pastelly quality. See the album on Flickr.

§ When I was a kid – I’m guessing my age was still in single figures – we were at the caravan and I was standing outside watching the family in a neighbouring caravan packing their car. My mum saw me, came over, and told me to stop staring. “I’m not staring, I’m looking,” I said.

Which I was reminded of only when I pasted this quote in here, after liking it earlier this week:

While helping my elderly neighbor with an errand this afternoon, she made a comment about her life that seems like a solid piece of wisdom for dealing with any kind of history: “I should look back, but I don’t need to stare.”

Worth remembering, I told myself, as I accumulate more history. From a post on James A. Reeves’ Atlas Minor blog.

§ When starting work on a new project there’s contradictory advice about what to tell people:

  1. Wait until you’ve achieved something; only talk about what you’ve done, not what you’re going to do.
  2. Work in public – show the process of how you make something, warts and all.

I can see the benefit of working in public. I enjoy Robin Sloan’s regular game development diary in which he discusses inspirations, experiments and decisions. I’ve enjoyed Craig Mod’s emails about working on a book about Japanese pizza toast (so far: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) to the extent that, despite having weaned myself off buying nice things “just because”, I’ve found myself tempted to buy a book about Japanese pizza toast. And for some years, off and on, I’ve followed the Citybound Devblog where Anselm Eickhoff details his research and progress while developing a very detailed city building game. I’ve no doubt that each of them benefits from sharing their work.

On the other hand there are a few occasions over the past mumble years when I’ve started something in public, or mentioned that I was doing something new, only to grind to a halt or change my mind. The sense of failure was greatly magnified by having shared my intentions with the world. Being me, I have dragged these defeats behind me in my ever-growning psychic sack of failures, faults and mistakes ever sense.

I’m not sure what the answer or balance is. Maybe those good examples of working in public I gave are selection bias – they’re only good because the people have made substantial, interesting progress.

§ Here’s a weird bit of UI/UX you’re probably familiar with – marking a video as “watched” by manually skipping close to the end and letting it play for the final few seconds. I’ve had to do this on YouTube, iPlayer, Channel 4 and NOW TV, when each has failed to register that I’ve finished watching something. I can’t be alone, and it feels odd that it’s both a clunky, annoying workaround and yet so common.

NOW TV takes this one step further: in order to remove a series from your automatically-generated “Continue Watching” list of shows, you have to go to the last episode in the series, and do this “watch the final seconds” performance. Only then will the entire series be removed from “Continue Watching”.

I assume people at all these services have considered a “Mark as watched” button but decided it’s too much clutter, or reduces the number of shows that they can count as “watched” in their stats, or something else.

§ This week we watched Sharp Objects which was good. I do like miniseries, because you know they’ll have an ending rather than a “please watch the next season!” cliffhanger. It was nicely slow and I liked the very, very brief flashbacks – often the shortest of moments, glimpses of a memory, a past that keeps poking its way into the present.

If you do watch it, be sure to sit through the very final credits for an easily-missed fragment of a scene. It’s odd and I would bet it was a compromise between the director (or someone) saying, “the ending’s fine as it is!” and other people saying, “no, viewers won’t understand what happened, you need to make it clearer.” So an extra scene was added but, as a compromise, half-way through the credits.

§ We also finished The Trip to Greece which was quite hard work. I don’t know if we’ve changed over the past decade, or if “Steve Coogan” and “Rob Brydon” have changed, or whether the novelty of the format has worn off. Whichever, they were mostly unbearable people to spend time with. Oddly, the final episode was much better – they were less competitive and more friendly, even before a big emotional moment and its aftermath that was sensitively handled.

§ There we go. Keep on keeping on, they say.

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