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Day One Goes Premium Subscription
and of course the mob outrage in App Store ratings is what you’d expect: MacDrifter.

And this is why I only do bare minimum maintenance of my App Store software now. I released Brigand as free with a $10 unlock, and got savaged for it, so I pulled it. If Nintendo can’t make that work with Mario, Apple giving them the front page, and millions in advertising, I sure can’t. I love Brigand, but unless I put in more work changing the business model, I can’t sell it; sunk cost fallacy tells me not to do that.

Productivity software should cost more than a game, but very few on iOS are willing to pay up front every single new version.

Apple doesn’t let you give old customers an upgrade price, and presumably never will; maybe an upgrade killed Phil Schiller’s pet/child/Camaro in front of him, or something, given the 9 years he’s heard developers request this feature and told us to pound sand. And Apple does nobody any favors by Sherlocking and undercutting developers with “free” or cheap productivity apps.

The older solution of releasing a new numbered version and abandoning the old one every year or so was completely user-hostile. I just refused to do it, and would always switch apps whenever someone tried, and often found a better app by doing this.

Maybe the subscription model is terrible, but it’s less terrible than anything else going on.

Michael Tsai wonders if the hostile reviews are from prices going up, but they’re just catching up to desktop/web service prices, usually because a subscription gets you cross-platform access now.

Long-term, I think the App Store will be seen as the worst-managed disaster in the history of software. It went from a nice slot machine for indie devs and gallery for a few professional companies, to a predatory flea market full of thieves and frauds. Trying to tell anyone you make real software and here’s a reasonable price, in that environment, is a waste of time.

Data and Reality (William Kent)

A book that’s eternally useful to me in modelling data is William Kent’s Data and Reality. Written in what we might call the dark ages of computing, it’s not about specific technologies, but about unchanging but ever-changing reality, and strategies to represent it. Any time I get confused about how to model something or how to untangle someone else’s representation, I reread a relevant section.

The third ambiguity has to do with thing and symbol, and my new terms
didn’t help in this respect either. When I explore some definitions of
the target part of an attribute, I get the impression (which I can’t
verify from the definitions given!) that the authors are referring to
the representations, e.g., the actual four letter sequence “b-l-u-e”,
or to the specific character sequence “6 feet”. (Terms like “value”,
or “data item”, occur in these definitions, without adequate further
definition.) If I were to take that literally, then expressing my
height as “72 inches” would be to express a different attribute from
“six feet”, since the “value” (?) or “data item” (?) is different. And
a German describing my car as “blau”, or a Frenchman calling it
“bleu”, would be expressing a different attribute from “my car is
blue”. Maybe the authors don’t really mean that; maybe they really are
willing to think of my height as the space between two points, to
which many symbols might correspond as representations. But I can’t be
sure what they intend.
—Bill Kent

I originally read the 1978 edition in a library, eventually got the 1998 ebook, and as of 2012 there’s a posthumous 3rd edition which I haven’t seen; I would worry that “updated examples” would change the prose for the worse, and without Bill having the chance to stop an editor.

See also Bill Kent’s website for some of his photography and other papers.

This book projects a philosophy that life and reality are at bottom
amorphous, disordered, contradictory, inconsistent, non- rational, and
non-objective. Science and much of western philosophy have in the past
presented us with the illusion that things are otherwise. Rational views
of the universe are idealized models that only approximate reality. The
approximations are useful. The models are successful often enough in
predicting the behavior of things that they provide a useful foundation
for science and technology. But they are ultimately only approximations
of reality, and non-unique at that.

This bothers many of us. We don’t want to confront the unreality of
reality. It frightens, like the shifting ground in an earthquake. We are
abruptly left without reference points, without foundations, with
nothing to stand on but our imaginations, our ethereal self-awareness.

So we shrug it off, shake it away as nonsense, philosophy, fantasy. What
good is it? Maybe if we shut our eyes the notion will go away.
—Bill Kent

★★★★★

You Have Updates

WordPress just told me I have a bunch of updates, so I pushed the button, at my convenience. iPhone has a bunch of updates, but I certainly don’t have autoupdate turned on, I’ll look at those when I feel like it.

I don’t understand how people put up with their software deciding to “update” on them without permission.

Mac is insistent with the “updates waiting” dialog, but you can tell it to fuck off indefinitely.

Linux is like a broken car you have to go dumpster-diving to find new parts for.

But Windows breaks into your home to change your shit around. Just no.

Divided States of Hysteria (Howard Chaykin)

And now for something a little darker than cute cartoons about vampires.

Howard Chaykin’s comic Divided States of Hysteria is out. Terrorism, death and destruction, political hacks looking to take advantage. Written in what now seems like a more innocent time, 2016.

First issue’s collecting a bunch of psychopaths. Not sure what they’ll be doing, but I trust Chaykin’s road trips to go somewhere interesting.

“So now that liberal-center-left narcissism, with a healthy dose of identity politics, has lost the game to right-wing ignorance and hypocrisy-driven rage, and I find myself anticipating a future spent in a live-action dystopia, the book seems almost naively cheerful and filled with hope. Go figure.”
—Howard Chaykin, Divided States of Hysteria #1 editorial

There’s been some controversy about a cover, apparently people think showing cruelty in art is the same as endorsing it? I don’t know. Anyone not familiar with Chaykin’s American Flagg! or Black Kiss will probably be appalled at the mix of explicit sex, explicit violence, and explicit politics; this book is for people who aren’t appalled.

Synchronicity: Just found this Howard Chaykin art for Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination

Castlevania

Castlevania on Netflix is out, written by Warren Ellis, R-rated as fuck as they say.

I’m an oldest-school Castlevania player, but dubious of all videogame adaptations (people used to complain about Uwe Boll, as if Bloodrayne was any worse than Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter). And so far it hasn’t changed my opinion: The dialogue is painful, like a bad translation from Japanese text boxes, with a little goat-fucking humor. The plot’s told in jump-cut scenes. The art’s nice, but has minimal animation until the fight scenes; those are rendered in gory detail.

But the plot gets moving in episode 2, and I like the squalid medieval atmosphere. The Speakers are poorly explained, but giving any backstory for magic-users is a huge improvement. By the episode 4 (end of this season), Trevor Belmont’s whininess has mostly stopped, and he starts being the whip-cracking hero we know, just enough to face a classic Castlevania sub-boss.

★★★★☆ which could have been higher if the start wasn’t so slow and awkward.

W3C DRM OMGzors

Oh sweet zombie jesus the DRM whining again? You can have fucking Flash (you goddamned savages), or you can have DRM and a nice native player. Ebooks and downloaded music are mostly watermarked and DRM-less (except on Kindle), but you can’t do that on the fly with video encoding.

You aren’t going to convince Sony/Netflix/etc to just give you non-DRM copies of a $100M budget movie or series. And once in a while I like a Guardians of the Galaxy, Inception, or Justified. If you don’t, the presence or absence of DRM in the browser makes zero difference to your life. You’re just bitching about something that doesn’t affect you.

For a slightly more calm, less profane explanation, read Tim Berners-Lee’s post.

The Land Before iPhone

In which millennials try to recall kindergarten pre-iPhone

iPhone was nice, but not a big change to my lifestyle; I already had a Treo, and before that a LifeDrive, and before that a Palm III, and had Internet since before I was boinking those kids’ mothers. I was basically the model for the Mondo 2000 “R.U. A Cyberpunk” poster (the joke being R.U.Sirius was… nevermind), and yes, I read Mondo2k & Wired before they were dead and/or uncool.

Installers

Indie game dev leads you to some dark and terrible places.

I so miss the App Store being an endless payout slot machine without spending $10M on advertising, and miss the 6-figure jobs for fixing peoples’ apps because nobody knew Objective-C (even less know it now, but they’re stupidly trying to rewrite code they don’t understand into Swift, which will break again in 6 months).

Now I’m a poor but honest pixel farmer, forced to shovel shit to get to market.

Making a Mac binary for Reaper’s Crypt was trivial (on a Mac, probably impossible elsewhere), and produced 1 file: “Reaper’s Crypt.app” (a Mac application bundle, hiding all the mess so you don’t see it).

Making a Linux binary was not much harder, and produced 17 files and directories, with libraries and data scattered all over, with the binary sitting in the middle where nobody could see it. So I’ll have to make a little script to go launch that untidy mess. When I did Linux, there were at least 3 standards for icons, and by now I’m sure there are 13 more, so they get a raw image file.

Making a Windows binary required me to install WINE with MacPorts, which took hours, and the binary is in the middle of a similar mess of 20 files and directories. So for this I need an installer to make a .msi file, which nobody I know has done this decade; I think I have a handle on this. But now I don’t know if I need 32-bit “win32” or 64-bit “win32” (what.); there’s no fat binaries in Windows, so it’s one or the other.

I am not Hercules, and these Augean stables are filthy.