The Website Obesity Crisis

Maciej Cegłowski has posted up a transcript and slides from a talk he gave last year at the Web Directions conference. It looks at the “Website Obesity Crisis” and lays out an argument against the growing trend in giant, and I mean giant, homepages.

Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn’t about any of those. It’s about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.

While I’ll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I’m not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.

A number of websites have become almost unusable. The cruft, trackers, and garbage is packed on top of social dialog pop-ups, sinful scroll-jacking javascript, and page sizes that are bigger than mp3 files we used to share.

Uber’s New Icon and Logo

Armin Vit, writing for Brand New (not the band, sorry), looks at the new Uber logo and app icon:

The new one fixes the usability of the logo by going bolder and tighter. On that aspect alone, the logo evolution is a success. Beyond that, there is nothing else nice to say about it but also nothing negative. Okay, well, maybe a couple of things: the inner curves on the bottom halves of the “B”, “E”, and “R” are very awkward and the elliptical (because they are far from rounded) corners are also strange and give the sensation that the letters have been stretched. Overall though, it’s fine. It could be a lot worse, it could be a lot better.

I mostly agree — the wordmark is better, the app icon is shit.

RIAA Adds Streams Into Certifications

The RIAA has announced that they will be counting streams as part of certifying albums and singles Gold or Platinum:

After a comprehensive analysis of a variety of factors – including streaming and download consumption patterns and historical impact on the program – and also consultation with a myriad of industry colleagues, the RIAA set the new Album Award formula of 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams = 10 track sales = 1 album sale. Also effective today, RIAA’s Digital Single Award ratio will be updated from 100 on-demand streams = 1 download to 150 on-demand streams = 1 download to reflect streaming’s enormous growth in the two plus years since that ratio was set.

I think this move was inevitable. There’s a good chance that in our lifetime album “sales” will be rendered irrelevant. The full press release can be found below.

Is SoundCloud Worth More Than Spotify?

Alex Moazed, writing for TechCrunch, on why SoundCloud may be more valuable than Spotify in the long run:

SoundCloud has a platform business model where its content is created by its network of users, not acquired through licensing deals. For SoundCloud, the more audio producers that join the network, the more listeners will want to join. This increase in users, in turn, incentivizes more creatives to post their music or podcasts on SoundCloud, and the network effects continue to build from there.

In contrast, Spotify is primarily a reseller of music inventory owned by record labels and publishers. It’s simply a distributor for the latest releases, sort of like a Walmart for music streaming. Most of the songs on Spotify you could find on Apple Music, Pandora or another streaming service. As a result, Spotify lacks the network effects that SoundCloud enjoys.

But what if Spotify, or Apple Music (or Facebook, or YouTube), adds in the features that SoundCloud currently provides? Does SoundCloud have a monetization strategy that can scale or do they risk being a just a feature in someone else’s business?

20 Years of ‘Infinite Jest’

The Harry Ransom Center has shared some of its archive online to mark the 20 year anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest:

Wallace began seriously writing Infinite Jest in 1991. The publication of the book took years of hard work not only from Wallace but from his agent Bonnie Nadell, his editor Michael Pietsch, and others who read and supported the book’s development in one way or another. Evidence of this hard work can be found throughout David Foster Wallace’s archive and in other related collections at the Harry Ransom Center.

The Godfather Epic

HBO is currently running a 7-hour long chronological version of The Godfather. You can catch it on their on demand services. If you haven’t seen the movies before this should not be the way you watch them for the first time, but for committed fans this is an interesting cut of the films.

The State of Wireless Headphones

Geoffrey Fowler, writing for The Wall Street Journal, looks at the current state of truly wireless headphones:

Earin and Bragi have accomplished leaps of technology to make earbuds truly wireless. The problem is our heads. It’s not just that they’re hard; they’re full of water, which stops wireless signals dead.

Earin’s solution uses familiar tech. Made by a Swedish startup, it connects its left bud to your phone via Bluetooth. That bud then uses special antennas to bounce a second Bluetooth connection off walls and other surfaces to the right earbud to complete the stereo pair.

By all accounts they’re still not quite there yet. This is one of my dreams of earbud listening, but not until it feels like a clear win am I ready to pony up the cash.

Things to Do in Portland, OR

Portland

I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for most of my life. There was a brief foray during the college years to do the pop-punk thing and get out of the town I grew up in, but I always end up finding my way back. There’s just something about the city, the people, the way of life, that fits so well with my personality. It’s home. With the popularity of Portlandia I’ve gotten more questions about the city than any other time in my life. Everyone wants to know how accurate the show is (some of it is pretty damn dead on), and quite a few others ask about things to do if they ever visit. I’ve got a few recommendations for if you ever visit the city, but take it as a very incomplete list, there’s always new things showing up and there are plenty of things I don’t cover here. This is also mostly confined to the Portland area and doesn’t expand out to the fantastic hiking, wildlife, and nature that so much of Oregon is known for — I always highly recommend finding a good hiking trail when you visit, it’s beautiful.

Adding Chapters to Podcasts

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories, looks at the new Mac utility Chapters, which allows you to easily add chapter marks into podcasts:

Historically, adding chapter markers to a podcast has been more trouble than it is worth for many podcasters. The ‘hassle factor’ is a legitimate concern. Producing a podcast can be a lot of work even without chapter markers, but that is beginning to change with the introduction of tools like Chapters, a new Mac utility from Thomas Pritchard that makes adding chapter markers a breeze.

I used this app to add chapters to the latest episode of Encore and was impressed at how easy and dead simple it was to use.

Get That Superhero Money (Episode 114)

encore

This week’s episode of Encore looks at quite a bit of the news that broke over the past week. We talk about Kanye West releasing information about what is now Waves, Brand New and Modest Mouse going on a huge tour, Yellowcard’s Lights and Sounds turns 10, and Brian Wilson is doing a 50-year tour for Pet Sounds. We also do some follow-up on last week’s great “wrong tracklistings” discussion and all sorts of other fun stuff like guessing if Brand New will release an album and what it would sell, plus Thomas’s thoughts on Panic’s album now he’s heard it, and a few brief thoughts on the new 1975 album at the end.

Building a Better Egg McMuffin

J. Kenji López-Alt, writing for Serious Eats, on how to make a great homemade Egg McMuffin:

These days, the Egg McMuffin is more than a sandwich; it’s a cultural icon.

But, for all its recognition and all that it gets right, it’s an inherently flawed product. One that, with a little time and effort, can be improved upon at home. Here’s how I make mine. Hopefully, we’ll learn some lessons that can be applied to all breakfast sandwiches, not just Egg McMuffin clones.

A Batman Army (Episode 113)

Encore - 113

This week’s episode of Encore has us looking at a variety of interesting, and diverse, topics. We talk a little about the next Star Wars being pushed back, a little about Thomas’s collection of Funko collectables, and a little about Thomas wanting to buy an iPad Pro. We also discover that Thomas has had the wrong sequencing in his iTunes for Everything in Transit for almost a decade now. He discovers this live on the podcast. We tackle a variety of user questions related to Panic! at the Disco’s new album, the TV show “Making a Murderer,” and if we prefer soft or energetic album closers. We also talk some more about Brian Fallon and his upcoming album since Thomas caught him live recently. We finish with some Blink-182 talk and discuss the three big tours that got announced this week.