Police Business

12 August 2011

“‘Police business’, he said almost gently, ‘is a hell of a problem. It’s a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there’s nothing in it to attract the highest type of men. So we have to work with what we get – and we get things like this.'”

Raymond Chandler, The Lady In The Lake

  • "Trust is the key to breaking [this cycle]. And I think Talese’s method shows us how we might gain it: by checking with our subjects and making sure we understand what they’re trying to express, beyond what they actually say. Because if our subjects are interesting enough to report on, they’re deserving of respect. And if we respect them, they will respect us. That’s a much more virtuous circle." I think Alex is right, you know.
  • "'…consciousness enables us to make conjectures in which someone called “I” can be seen in a hypothetical situation or a story; and from that flows the ability to make judgements, plans, decisions. In short, consciousness takes the vastness of the physical world, whose coordinates of time and space we cannot really grasp, and gives us a model, a working version – a simplified, toy version if you prefer – in which we can more usefully and successfully operate.’" Seeing the "I" in the world, as a way of making things understandable.
  • "HyperDock adds long awaited features to your Dock: Select single application windows just by moving the mouse on a dock item, use mouse clicks to quickly open new windows and many more." Nifty.

“Humor is when something funny happens”

26 December 2009

My friend Steve Gaynor has put up his review of the year in gaming over at his blog, Fullbright. He’s got some sharp points, but I really liked his commentary on Street Fighter 4 – one of my favourite games of the past year. It deserved quoting in full:

Street Fighter 4: Simply put, I haven’t laughed so much at probably any game as I have playing SF4 in the conference room over lunches at 2K Marin. The fact that humor in games is “hard to do” comes up fairly often– only because people think of “humor” as “jokes,” which lose their power after their first telling. But humor is when something funny happens, and games are the only entertainment medium capable of making funny things happen in completely unplanned and unexpected ways. In the right company, Street Fighter 4, with its cartoonish brutality, over-the-top animations, and always-surprising reversals of fortune is a consistent laugh riot. Thank you, Capcom.

(Emphasis my own).

What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand

30 November 2009

Dave Eggers on “keeping shit real”:

Because, in the end, no one will ever give a shit who has kept shit ‘real’ except the two or three people, sitting in their apartments, bitter and self-devouring, who take it upon themselves to wonder about such things. The keeping real of shit matters to some people, but it does not matter to me. It’s fashion, and I don’t like fashion, because fashion does not matter.

What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips’s new album is ravishing and I’ve listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who’s up and who’s down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.

The whole article is great.

  • "Valve subtly guides the player’s attention toward significant events and objects by using elements naturally found in the game world. This allows the player to retain control of their perspective without getting lost or confused, and contributes to an overall immersive experience." Matthew Gallant puts together a nice selection of screengrabs to illustrate Valve's craft.
  • "There was an implicit value judgement in Greenfield's talk between the "purely sensory experiences" of raves or today's computer games, and the cognitive activities of reading a book or listening to a symphony, which, because they make us "see one thing in terms of another thing", involve a more mature mental engagement. For Greenfield, the Beethoven was a higher experience because it offered an "escape from the moment", where a rave was about losing yourself to the "thrill of the moment". I think that's a flimsy distinction, since both are about submitting to the sensory power of music. I'd like to see the difference in brain activity between somebody "escaping" life's mundanities and another person "thrilling" to the implacable now of the beat."
  • "I thoroughly enjoy the more real time nature of these diary fragments popping up among my friends’ updates. It’s easy to picture @samuelpepys conducting his business and pleasure, travelling around London — from his home near the Tower of London to Deptford to Westminster — when he’s updating you on his progress during the day." Phil on the joy of small updates from things that aren't (quite) people.
  • "Sony acts like a character in a Charlotte Brontë novel–they seem to think they have an entire lifetime to seize the moment."
  • "YOU CAN ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT YOU LIKE… I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is someway congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle." All of Milton Glaser's points are worth thinking on, but this one feels particularly acute.
  • "So there seems to have developed a general consensus in the iPhone development community that if you’re planning to develop a sprite-based game, the cocos2d-iphone framework that we mentioned waaaaaay back when and a bit later on is the way to go. So since we’re planning on doing exactly that, here’s a roundup of resources for your cocos2d development!"
  • "Here’s a round-up of the top 10 readily-available monospace fonts for your coding enjoyment, with descriptions, visual examples and samples, and download links for each." I think I roughly agree with Dan on these.
  • "Get over your ridiculous programming-language prejudices and stop endorsing real prejudices. It's this crazy little microcosm/macrocosm mirror effect. You never find bigotry in people with options. It's true in programming and it's true in real life as well, and it looks as if it's true in both places at the same time and for the same people." Giles is right, and the idiots who reached for their retweet button are definitely wrong. Less of this, please.
  • "No. That would be your mother." Valve drop the next "Meet The…" video, and it's perhaps the best yet – certainly in terms of editing and choreography. And I love how the other characters – especially the Soldier – are still being developed in this.
  • "This is a mod. And that’s kind of relevant, for two reasons. Firstly, we don’t want to pay for this kind of thing. Hell, look at The Path: people are upset that even exists, let alone that its developers had the guts to charge seven quid for their remarkable efforts. But this is the sort of thing I’d love to pay for. It seems illogical that we’ll all happily splash out fifty pounds for the same old story of science-fiction revenge, yet aggressively avoid anything that encourages us to engage our brains and challenge ourselves a little."
  • "What’s fascinating about Grifball is how well it emulates a sport (or rather a sport game.) Like basketball or hockey, players must alternately think offensively and defensively as the bomb changes possession. Movement suddenly trumps aiming, as players must gauge distance for successful attacks and create openings to score. The best players are the ones who can move in tricky, unpredictable ways and psych out their opponents. In terms of skill and strategy, Grifball has much more in common with virtual rugby than it does a shooter." Matthew Gallant on Grifball, and more forms of consensual play.