• Long Form

    On Why AI Searches Really Bug Me

    David Pierce, The Verge:

    A year ago, Google said that it believed AI was the future of search. That future is apparently here: Google is starting to roll out “AI Overviews,” previously known as the Search Generative Experience, or SGE, to users in the US and soon around the world. Pretty soon, billions of Google users will see an AI-generated summary at the top of many of their search results. And that’s only the beginning of how AI is changing search.

    And from a few months back…

    David Pierce, The Verge:

    A few minutes ago, I opened the new Arc Search app and typed, “What happened in the Chiefs game?” That game, the AFC Championship, had just wrapped up. Normally, I’d Google it, click on a few links, and read about the game that way. But in Arc Search, I typed the query and tapped the “Browse for me” button instead.

    Arc Search, the new iOS app from The Browser Company, which has been working on a browser called Arc for the last few years, went to work. It scoured the web — reading six pages, it told me, from Twitter to The Guardian to USA Today — and returned a bunch of information a few seconds later. I got the headline: Chiefs win. I got the final score, the key play, a “notable event” that also just said the Chiefs won, a note about Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift, a bunch of related links, and some more bullet points about the game.

    I think I finally put a finger on what bothers me so much about the push for AI based searches.

    It reduces the entire web to an answer. Yes, many times, we want to learn one detail, but by searching for it, we may learn additional data points, find the writing of a writer we admire, or end up down an entirely different rabbit hole, which leads to discoveries of its own.

    Tools like Arc Search and where Google is heading (to where web searches are going to be a toggle) essentially boil down hundreds if not millions of results – and the effort behind those results – to a pithy blurb.

    It’s very similar to how we’ve reduced movies and TV to content, and our attention spans from being able to watch full movies to barely making it through an entire TikTok.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am a part of, responsible for, and facing those same struggles with my admiration of and attention to the work of others…but goddamnit, we’re more than a blurb. We’re more than an answer. We’re more than a tweet. We’re more than a Reel. More than a TikTok.

    And its time we start showing the web that.

    Thursday May 16, 2024
  • Long Form

    2024's Famicase Showcase is as Awesome as Always

    Luke Plunkett, Aftermath:

    For those who know what this is, stop reading and enjoy! For those who don’t know what Famicase is, every year the indie Japanese games store Meteor holds an exhibition where artists from all over the world submit fake Famicom cartridges featuring game ideas that can be cool, interesting, funny, macabre, whatever! Maybe all of those things! Note that these games aren’t real, and you can’t play them; they’re just jokes/pitches/ideas.

    There are actual cartridges hanging on the wall in the store if you’re lucky enough to be able to visit in person, but since most of us can’t, the best we can do is admire them from afar courtesy of Meteor’s online showcase. You can view them all there, and definitely should, but for now I’d also just like to highlight some of my favourites…

    Truly, I always enjoy seeing these every year, and it’s because of Luke Plunkett that I’ve been reminded of them each time. Thanks for keeping the legacy alive, Luke!

    How is there not a US version of this using NES cartridges?

    Check out the full gallery here. I’ve attached my personal favorite: PermaChroma, by Joe Wright.

    Thursday May 9, 2024
  • Long Form

    'What Is The Point of Xbox?'

    Chris Tapsel, Eurogamer:

    If it weren’t for the people involved, in 2024, these closures would almost feel routine. This is far from the end of Xbox, of course - in Los Angeles next month, it’ll hold yet another make-or-break press conference, that maps out yet another plan for rescuing a lost generation. But be it through exasperation or exhaustion - or the wider industry’s sheer, pent-up rage - this feels like something of a nadir. Xbox has spun its wheels for more than a decade, lurching from U-turn to U-turn, strategic reboot to strategic reboot, acquisition to acquisition, closure to closure. The good times have always felt just over the horizon. Project Scorpio will set the tone; Game Pass is the future; the Series X will have the games; Starfield will jump-start Game Pass now it’s stalled. The growing sentiment today is that they’ll probably never come.

    The immediate response is, justifiably, anger. Closing studios always feels villainous, but closing award-winning ones, ones with eminent talent, creativity and expertise, feels genuinely absurd - just as it did with Take-Two and the wonderful people of Roll7 and Kerbal Space Program developer Squad, only last week. But with Microsoft and Xbox, the problem feels part of something bigger. Trace a line through the modern history of Xbox - from the end of the 360 era, through the lost years of the Xbox One, to the present day - and a scarlet thread becomes clear. This is a platform holder that has lost its purpose and direction, that fundamentally - and perhaps inevitably, given the sheer vastness of its parent company - misunderstands why it exists.

    The video games journalism world is whirlwind dunking on Microsoft in a way I’ve not seen since…last weekend, when Kendrick absolutely wiped the floor with Drake.

    Brutal headline, too.

    Thursday May 9, 2024
  • Long Form

    We're Getting Another LORD OF THE RINGS Movie I Guess

    Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter:

    Warner Bros. has made it official: It will be returning to Middle Earth.

    On Warner Bros. Discovery’s first-quarter earnings conference call on Thursday, CEO David Zaslav said that the company is “now in the early stages of script development” for new Lord of the Rings movies, which he says they “anticipate releasing in 2026” and will “explore storylines yet to be told.”

    Zaslav says that director Peter Jackson and his longtime writing partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens “will be involved every step of the way.”

    Random news drop this morning, but its not one that should be super surprising, given that Zaslav has pushed so hard the use of WB’s existing franchises since he took over the head role there.

    Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be a remake of the trilogy, but something else in the Tolkien world. Knowing that Jackson and Boyens are involved is somewhat of a relief, but I don’t know what meat there is on the bone here.

    For those who may be going, “2026? Without a script? That’s fast!” Sadly, this is the route of Hollywood now. Set the release date and work backwards. And it’s not like Peter Jackson is new to this, he infamously “winged it” during the production of the Hobbit trilogy.

    Aside: Did you know there’s a CG Lord of the Rings movie that’s supposed to be hitting theaters this Holiday? Yeah. Really. For real.

    EDIT: Update from Variety. Quoting a press release, the movie will be The Lord of the Rings: The Hunt for Gollum, and it will both star – and be directed by – Andy Serkis. Huh.

    Thursday May 9, 2024
  • Long Form

    When You Say You Get It, But You Clearly Don't

    Grace Dean, Insider:

    Many consumers are thinking carefully about how they spend every dollar, with some cutting back on visits to quick-service restaurants, as executives told investors on a series of earnings calls last week. To win penny-pinching customers back, some say they’re planning smaller price increases for the rest of the year.

    Several fast-food chains described a gloomy outlook. The chief financial officer of Wendy’s, Gunther Plosch, told investors on Thursday that consumers were “still under pressure” — especially those with household incomes under $75,000. “They are reducing frequency, so visitation is down,” he said.

    Chains raised prices drastically during the pandemic to offset rising labor and food costs, and it’s coming back to bite them. Some diners are cutting back, saying fast food is too expensive and no longer represents good value.

    OK, so…the headline of this article is…

    Fast-food chains are getting the message about soaring prices

    And one of the first statements is…

    To win penny-pinching customers back, some say they’re planning smaller price increases for the rest of the year.

    So your plan to win back customers who dislike how high prices have become is to…

    …continue to raise prices.

    More slowly, but still. Raise.

    Are we all that dumb? Number cannot forever go up. Number can drop. Number can stay maybe. But Number does not always go up.

    Lower your prices, provide a better experience for employees and customers alike, and people will flock to your restaurants.

    “Oh, our profits aren’t high enough!”, you’ll cry. But profits you’ll still have. And in this economy, that is your win.

    Wednesday May 8, 2024
  • Long Form

    Here We Go, The First Look at James Gunn's SUPERMAN

    James Gunn on Threads:

    Get ready. Superman 7.11.25 @dcofficial … The above photo was taken on set by Jess Miglio and was entirely in-camera.

    Here we go, folks. After what feels like ages of hype and excitement, the first fruit of James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Comics movie universe has been revealed, as we get a look at David Corenswet (The Politician) as Kal-El/Clark/Superman.

    I’ve attached the image to this post, and I have to say: I really like the vibe here.

    After what feels like ages of Hollywood looking at Superman and having only the creatively bankrupt idea of “What If Superman was…evil?!” as if it were a new, original thought, to see a more…mundane version of Superman is kind of wild.

    You can practically hear the sigh, as he remembers that his job isn’t done, he’s gotta go back to work, pull on the boots, and face down evil and terror once again.

    It’s humanizing, something that is so easily forgotten about who Superman is as a character.

    Given that James Gunn made a world care about a talking raccoon and a tree, I feel like that his version of the Last Son of Krypton will speak to us all. Finally.

    Superman hits theaters on July 11, 2025.

    The first look at James Gunn's Superman, as we see David Corenswet, in costume, sitting in a chair, pulling on his boots, as some sort of laser explosion occurrs in the window behind him.
    Monday May 6, 2024
  • Long Form

    A Goddamn Great Godzilla Minus One Poster From Bottleneck Gallery

    Germain Lussier, Gizmodo:

    io9 is honored to exclusively debut a brand new poster for Godzilla Minus One by Phantom City Creative. Released by Bottleneck Gallery and Ish, it’ll go on sale Friday, May 3 at noon ET at this site. Capturing Godzilla in a cloud of fire, the poster comes in three different editions, all 24 x 36 inch screenprints.

    Godzilla Minus One was one of my favorites of 2023, and this poster is absolutely stunning. I’ve featured the black-and-white variant in my post here, and if you want to see all three versions, head to the source link above.

    Should you be interested, hit this link on Friday, May 3, 2024 at Noon Eastern.

    Thursday May 2, 2024
  • Long Form

    Another Round of Gaming Layoffs Which Underlines the Horrible State of Things

    Luke Plunkett, Aftermath:

    Remember how in February publisher Take-Two–who, thanks to Grand Theft Auto, have more money than you or I could ever conceive–had no current layoff plans, then two months later went out and laid off 600 people? We’ve learned today via Bloomberg that among those 600 people are everyone at two of the company’s studios: Intercept Games (Kerbal Space Program 2) and Roll7, which are both being closed.

    While it’s still unclear what the future will hold for Kerbal Space Program 2–a game that hasn’t had the best time since launching last year, but will apparently still be receiving “updates”–I had a particular fondness for Roll7, a studio that was only bought by Take-Two in 2021! It had been around in some form since 2008, and in that time had developed a ton of very cool video games, from the side-scrolling skateboarding series OlliOlli to rollerskate murder simulator Rollerdrome to the much-expanded OlliOlli World.

    This absolutely sucks. The OlliOlli games – along with Rollerdrome – are some of the most fun, polished, unique and engaging experiences I’ve had in gaming over the last few years, and now, because they were acquired just 3 years ago, and Number Must Go Up, this talent team is being gutted, drawn and quartered.

    Going beyond official recognition, I also honestly believe the OlliOlli titles are some of the best skateboarding games ever made, and that the studio should be applauded for the work they put into making their games look amazing as well; Roll7 games had such a unique and vibrant style that in a previous life I wrote art features on both OlliOlli World and Rollerdrome in the same year.

    But now two entire studios are toast, all because a company with revenue in the billions woke up one day and decided it didn’t need to keep them around anymore. And why would they, when all they really care about is shaking people down for spare change every second minute they’re playing Grand Theft Auto Online or NBA 2K.

    And that’s the point. What’s the line in Mad Max: Fury Road? “Do not, my friends become addicted to water, it will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.”

    These super studios are so massive, and so dependent upon the recurring DLC revenue of live service games and its ilk, that they’re cutting themselves down to just those sorts of titles. Much like the drum I keep beating about movies, we’re fast approaching in gaming the place that the movie industry has arrived in: you get two games now – the massive AAA blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto VI or Assassin’s Creed: This Years Location and Era or the stunning, quirky indie successes, like Vampire Survivors or Balatro.

    The last two weeks, I’ve found myself immersed in the gaming of the 90’s and 00’s, thanks to Delta on my phone and the Miyoo Mini+ I just got in the mail. You know what’s great about those games? They’re simple. The gameplay is the focus. You don’t need to buy DLC. The experience is contained.

    I may be Old Man Yelling At Cloud here, but game studios – seriously – lower the production values, up the actual value for the customer. There’s a reason why so many years on, the Nintendo Switch was outselling the new gen systems.

    In the meantime: I hope the Roll7 team lands as well as they can, and should they decide to re-form and start a Kickstarter for their next project, I’m there Day One.

    Thursday May 2, 2024
  • Long Form

    Let Us Play Every Video Game on Easy

    Barry Petchesky, Defector:

    For I am a baby gamer: I do not wish to be unduly or excessively challenged by video games. I wish to die a maximum of, let's say five times before beating a boss or passing a section. I wish to have fun, and I do not find it fun to be frustrated. That happens enough in real life for me to want to experience it in my free time too. In games, I want to see the entire package, and appreciate the developers' work from start to finish. I want to revel in transversal or combat or exploration or physics or plot—and I want it to be easy to see and do it all.

    I can hear you now. Skill issue. Damn right it's a skill issue! I am a grown man who until the pandemic had not played games since the Nintendo 64, outside of some dorm-room Madden sessions. I suck at this! Do not think I am ashamed of it. Once, I was a capital-G Gamer. I mastered landing on the carrier in Top Gun. I played TMNT's dam level until I beat it. As a kid, I happily put in the hours necessary. As an adult, I do not have the time to git gud, as the youth say. I respect a game that respects my time.

    Perhaps even more important than a lack of time is a lack of inclination: I do not obtain satisfaction from overcoming a video game challenge. Memorizing enemy attack patterns, or mastering my own fast-twitch reflexes does not give me a sense of accomplishment. If it does for you, that's fine, but I promise you I feel no less fulfilled for having beaten Tunic with damage turned off.

    Goddamn, I felt this post with my soul.

    As a holy shit I’m almost forty year old, I’ve done my time in the trenches, but some of the most fun I’ve had with gaming in recent years are with the games that I’ve played on Easy. Or even Very Easy!

    Star Wars: Jedi Survivor? They tell me the gameplay is a Souls-Like, but I like the power fantasy of wrecking peoples shit with Jedi powers. I turn that sucker onto Easy (or whatever fancy name they give it), and I’m slicing troopers up with lightsabers, tossing aliens around with the Force, and I feel awesome.

    Spider-Man 2? I get to enjoy the story and explore NYC without stress, as I have all of the power, and less of the responsibility.

    Hell, my dirty secret of the last week is that I’ve been putting a lot of time into some old GBA favorites from the Metroid and Castlevania franchises via Delta, and you bet your ass I’ve got GameShark / Action Replay codes on.

    But there are some games that I’d love to apply this logic to, where it’s just not an option. Elden Ring is visually and conceptually very much My Shit™, but the gameplay is punishing, so I’ve been unable to dig into it. Much as its discused in the piece, I don’t have the time to Get Gud. I want to Have Fun, and while I understand the why in 2024 that a GameShark/Action Replay/Game Genie isn’t really an option in the time of the online game, I long for the ability to turn on Infinite Health and just see all of the Lands Between. I suppose I could just check out the amazing looking art books, but it’s just not the same.

    Let me meet you where I am, games. Make it so I don’t get achievements, I don’t care. I want to give you $$$ and enjoy your efforts — let me play on Easy.

    Friday April 26, 2024
  • Long Form

    The Crumminess of Google Search Falls to the Hands of One Man

    Edward Zitron, Where’s Your Ed At?:

    This is the story of how Google Search died, and the people responsible for killing it.

    The story begins on February 5th 2019, when Ben Gomes, Google’s head of search, had a problem. Jerry Dischler, then the VP and General Manager of Ads at Google, and Shiv Venkataraman, then the VP of Engineering, Search and Ads on Google properties, had called a “code yellow” for search revenue due to, and I quote, “steady weakness in the daily numbers” and a likeliness that it would end the quarter significantly behind.

    A blistering read from Ed Zitron breaking down the managerial changes and overall focus on profits before people which has – perhaps irreparably – ruined Google search.

    I feel like the term “enshittification” has become an overused shorthand for “thing I don’t like”, but this is the term at its purist. A focus on Fuck Yours, Got Mine on a massive level, which trickles down across the web as a whole.

    A reckoning is coming, of this, I am sure.

    Wednesday April 24, 2024
  • Long Form

    Of COURSE, an AI Bot Has Been Developed to Game Reddit Comments for Marketing Purposes

    Jason Koebler, 404 Media

    For years, people who have found Google search frustrating have been adding “Reddit” to the end of their search queries. This practice is so common that Google even acknowledged the phenomenon in a post announcing that it will be scraping Reddit posts to train its AI. And so, naturally, there are now services that will poison Reddit threads with AI-generated posts designed to promote products.

    A service called ReplyGuy advertises itself as “the AI that plugs your product on Reddit” and which automatically “mentions your product in conversations naturally.” Examples on the site show two different Redditors being controlled by AI posting plugs for a text-to-voice product called “AnySpeech” and a bot writing a long comment about a debt consolidation program called Debt Freedom Now.

    This here is why we cannot have nice things.

    That said: the name of the tool being “Reply Guy”? Honestly, no notes. What a perfect assessment of this internet ruining tool.

    Tuesday April 23, 2024
  • Long Form

    DEAPOOL & WOLVERINE Trailer 2 Drops

    Marvel Entertainment on YouTube:

    LFG.

    Watch the new trailer for Marvel Studios’ #DeadpoolAndWolverine. Only in theaters July 26.

    I’ve always been in a state of liking the Deadpool films, but not loving them. (Prefered 2 to 1, for whatever that’s worth.)

    Turns out what Reynolds’ version of the character needed was a really strong opposite, which Hugh Jackman appears to have in spades.

    Bring on the X-Men.

    Monday April 22, 2024
  • Long Form

    Deb JJ Lee Delivers a Surreal and Gorgeous DUNE Poster for Mutant

    Germain Lussier, Gizmodo/io9:

    The best art inspires more incredible art and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune films have certainly done that. In addition to the artistry in the films themselves, graphic designers from all over the world have been moved to create gorgeous Dune posters—and the latest may be the most unique, and quite possibly the best, one yet.

    Korean American artist Deb JJ Lee has created just a sumptuous, stunning poster for Dune: Part One, which is being released Friday April 19 by the team at Mutant. It’s their first collaboration together and, after seeing this full image, you have to imagine it won’t be their last. io9 is honored to exclusively debut your first look at Deb JJ Lee’s Dune: Part One from Mutant.

    Goddamn, what a print. You can click through the source link to view the variant.

    It’s been a while since I’ve had a print I was enthused about, and having the ex-Mondo crew deliver here shines all the stronger for it.

    Granted, I don’t have the wall space, but I have the enthusiasm.

    If you have the wall space, along with the cash ($75 for the standard, $100 for the variant), head to MadeByMutant.com tomorrow, April 19, 2024 at 1pm Eastern to pick one up. And I’ll be keeping an eye on Deb JJ Lee moving forward.

    Thursday April 18, 2024
  • Long Form

    Go Back to the Beginning in the New TRANSFORMERS ONE Trailer

    Paramount Pictures on YouTube:

    Every Transformer has an origin. Watch the new trailer for #TransformersOne - only in theatres September 20.

    TRANSFORMERS ONE is the untold origin story of Optimus Prime and Megatron, better known as sworn enemies, but once were friends bonded like brothers who changed the fate of Cybertron forever. In the first-ever fully CG-animated Transformers movie, TRANSFORMERS ONE features a star-studded voice cast, including Chris Hemsworth, Brian Tyree Henry, Scarlett Johansson, Keegan-Michael Key, Steve Buscemi with Laurence Fishburne and Jon Hamm.

    I’m not sure what I expected from a CG animated Transformers movie, but I definitely don’t think it was this.

    It might just work? Either way, I’ve landed on intrigued. Of note, it’s the director of Toy Story 4 behind this, so the pedigree is strong.

    Thursday April 18, 2024
  • Long Form

    Glen Powell Is Your HIT MAN for Netflix This June

    Netflix on YouTube:

    Inspired by the unbelievable true story, a strait-laced professor (Glen Powell) uncovers his hidden talent as a fake hit man in undercover police stings. He meets his match in a client (Adria Arjona) who steals his heart and ignites a powder keg of deception, delight, and mixed-up identities.

    From Academy Award-nominated writer/director Richard Linklater and co-written by Glen Powell, HIT MAN comes to select theaters in May and only on Netflix June 7.

    Oh boy, this looks like a great time.

    Get ready for maximum Glen Powell this Summer, by the way, with this and Twisters hitting over the warm months.

    Thursday April 18, 2024
  • Long Form

    Quentin Tarantino's THE MOVIE CRITIC Has Been Scrapped

    Justin Kroll, Deadline:

    Quentin Tarantino’s movies are always full of surprises, and here is one about The Movie Critic we did not expect. Deadline can reveal that Tarantino has dropped the film as his 10th and final project. He simply changed his mind, Deadline has been told.

    Tarantino was going to have Brad Pitt as the principal star, which would have marked their third teaming after Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There were rumors that many from the casts of his past films might take part, and Sony was preparing to make the film after doing such a superb job on the last one.

    Word is that Tarantino had rewritten his script, which delayed the start of production. But this is his 10th and final film, and Tarantino simply decided The Movie Critic will not be it.

    This is a genuine surprise. Things sounded like they were moving pretty quickly on the project, and QT ending his career with how he started, with a project observing and critquing movies, felt like a great full circle move.

    Alas, another project gets added to the pile.

    Wednesday April 17, 2024
  • Long Form

    The Tech Review Discourse, And What Its Really About

    Riley MacLeod, Aftermath:

    This, I think, is what’s actually pissing the AI people off about Brownlee’s Humane review. He is clear that he has no fealty to them or their stock prices (“I literally don’t care what the stock price is of any company, of any product I review,” he says.) He even says in his video that “my reviews are technically not for” these products’ makers, which must be infuriating to our new Gilded Age robber barons who need constant reassurances of their genius. Because Brownlee isn’t in the business of promoting them or even talking to them, he’s not required to tout AI’s potential.

    If you’ve missed The Discourse™ about MKBHD’s review of the Humane AI pin, Congrats! You’re not Extremely Online. But for those who do have a stake in the conversation, I think MacLeod’s piece I’ve linked above does a great job of summarizing both the situation and my personal beliefs on it.

    I’ve expressed privately my confusion of the number of companies which grew to massive size not on the work they’ve delivered or the contributions they have made to our day-to-day lives, but more on the potential of doing so.

    These reviews – and more specifically, the pearl-clutching of those who are insulted by reviewers, well, reviewing work – are the beginning (in my opinion) of a much needed reckoning.

    Potential means nothing. Actions and reality are everything. I’m sorry that it took interest rates changing for a slue of folks to realize this, but you’re only worth what you actually do.

    Wednesday April 17, 2024
  • Long Form

    The Humane AI Pin is bad, actually

    David Pierce, The Verge:

    That raises the second question: should you buy this thing? That one’s easy. Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. The AI Pin is an interesting idea that is so thoroughly unfinished and so totally broken in so many unacceptable ways that I can’t think of anyone to whom I’d recommend spending the $699 for the device and the $24 monthly subscription.

    David Pierce absolutely whirlwind dunking on the Humane AI Pin in his review this morning. Goddamn!

    Cherlynn Low at Engadget did not care for it either.

    If the headline of “The Humane AI Pin is the solution to none of technology’s problems” wasn’t clear enough, here’s a pretty damning pull quote:

    Not only is the Humane AI Pin slow, finicky and barely even smart, using it made me look pretty dumb. In a few days of testing, I went from being excited to show it off to my friends to not having any reason to wear it.

    I had a feeling that the Pin was a solution looking for a problem, but I didn’t realize it’d be this downright useless or bad. Not the best first step for the Humane team.

    Thursday April 11, 2024
  • Long Form

    If you're like me, you are going to LOVE the Lonely Island and Seth Meyers Podcast

    Overcast.fm:

    Join Seth Meyers as he sits down with fellow SNL alum and comedy-music sensations The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone) to discuss their wildly popular and groundbreaking series of SNL Digital Shorts that aired on Saturday Night Live beginning in 2005. Episode by episode they’ll discuss how each short was created, what the response to it was at the time, and what impact, if any, it still has today. Aided by Seth, the guys will relive their time at SNL and reminisce on the nearly 50-year-old show from a time when putting short comedy sketches on the internet was so novel that they maybe even helped launch YouTube to do it. Along the way they’ll talk all things SNL from guests, fellow cast members, and favorite live sketches including many that never aired.

    The Lonely Island has had a near direct line to my funnybone since I first became aware of them and their work in 2005.

    In fact, the free giveaway of “Lazy Sunday” was my first iTunes video “purchase”.

    Since then, they’ve released three albums, over a hundred shorts, and produced two of my favorite comedies of all time, in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and Hot Rod.

    Suffice to say, the moment I heard that Andy, Jorma and Akiva were going to be doing a watchalong/look back podcast with Seth Meyers, I was in.

    The first episode hit on Monday, and is more about their road to Saturday Night Live and their struggles in getting on air. The Lonely Island gang are great storytellers, and their friendship comes through (though I believe its all recorded remotely). Seth acts as the perfect host, and if you are at all a fan of how comedy is made or the behind the scenes of SNL, I cannot recommend this enough.

    If you’re not aware of The Lonely Island for whatever reason, get on watching Popstar. Immediately.

    Tuesday April 9, 2024
  • Long Form

    Apple Opens the Door for Video Game Emulators?

    Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

    But there’s another important update to the App Store guidelines, and this one applies worldwide. For the first time, Apple is allowing developers to create and distribute game emulators on the App Store. The news was confirmed by Apple in an email sent to developers. Since the very first iPhone, developers have been finding ways to distribute game emulators to iOS users. The App Store guidelines have never allowed emulator software, but some apps have had luck bypassing Apple’s review process by disguising their apps and hiding emulators within them. But that’s changing now with the App Store’s new guidelines.

    Discovered late in the day yesterday was a bunch of changes to the App Store guidelines presented to developers by Apple.

    The key change presented seems to be that of allowing — in the EU — music apps to allow signups via their own web interface, versus through the App Store alone.

    In the mix further down, however, is the revelation that game emulation is now allowed.

    Android users have been able to do this for ages, but now, iOS — and presumably iPadOS + tvOS users — will be able to do the same without using some of the complicated go arounds in use currently with Altstore.

    Now I’m just hoping that two of the Altstore’s best...

    Delta, a Nintendo focused emulator for iOS

    Provenance, a multi-system emulator that’s also available on tvOS

    …make their way to the AppStore.

    I do wonder if someone’s gonna try to have something up as early as this week...

    Saturday April 6, 2024
  • Long Form

    Microsoft Makes a Stand ALL Game Companies Need to Follow

    Jez Corden, Windows Central:

    As part of the emails to her team, Sarah Bond revealed that Microsoft has now set up a dedicated team to ensure the future-proofing of the current Xbox game library against future hardware paradigm shifts, ensuring that our games remain accessible long into the future. "We have formed a new team dedicated to game preservation, important to all of us at Xbox and the industry itself," Bond said. "We are building on our strong history of delivering backwards compatibility to our players, and we remain committed to bringing forward the amazing library of Xbox games for future generations of players to enjoy."

    As far as I’m concerned — especially with the model of video game distribution becoming a digital one — this is table stakes for Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, et al.

    The hard part is going to be the growth of GAAS titles: how can a game be preserved if the events have ended and servers have gone offline?

    Far too often, gaming (hell, media, period) is focused on new and next, when past and current should be celebrated just as much. May this be the first major shot in a series of events ensuring that the work of talented creators can be engaged with years down the line.

    Saturday April 6, 2024
  • Long Form

    The Dark Side of Trader Joe's

    Adam Reiner, TASTE:

    After six months of conversations with five founders of small to midsize food brands, it appears to be an open secret in the consumer packaged goods industry that Trader Joe’s outsources inspiration for new products by targeting emerging brands under the guise of recruiting them to manufacture private-label items. Private labeling is the ubiquitous (and often clandestine) practice of consumer food brands creating exclusive products for third-party retailers. The terms of these contracts vary, but the enlisted food brand typically receives compensation in the form of a production fee or profit-sharing arrangement.

    According to these sources, Trader Joe’s commonly solicits product samples and even asks for potential recipe adjustments—a revealing and time-consuming exercise for bootstrapped founders—before inexplicably abandoning the negotiations and releasing its own private-label versions of similar products at lower prices.

    Yikes on bikes, folks.

    This is a pretty damning expose of how Trader Joe’s decieves smaller food brands under the guise of a partnership, then undercuts them when the financial terms are deemed untenable by the brand themselves.

    I recognize, in all these instances, Trader Joe’s didn’t even need to offer to work with them before ripping them off, but the boldness to proceed even after trying to work together is NOT a good look.

    Friday April 5, 2024
  • Long Form

    Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Have A LOT in the Works

    Zack Baron, British GQ:

    These days, Nine Inch Nails, which Ross joined as a full-time member in 2016, present a different problem – how do you make something old, something so already well-defined, new again? There are years when Reznor feels like he has the answers and years when he’s less certain. He has put the band on hiatus more than once; after the last Nine Inch Nails tour, in 2022, Reznor deliberately took a break from playing shows as well. “For the first time in a long time I wasn’t sure: what’s the tour going to say?” Reznor told me. “What do I have to say right now? We can still play those songs real good. Maybe we can come up with a new production. But it wasn’t screaming at me: this is what to do right now.”

    A really great profile of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as they’ve asserted themselves as a go-to in the world of film scores.

    But now that they’ve established themselves in that world, they’re now thinking bigger: the return of Nine Inch Nails, their own production company, fashion, and something with Epic Games.

    You might not peg me as a NIN fan, but 1999’s The Fragile is one of my favorite albums of all time, and its been really great over the last few decades to see Reznor get clean, get healthy, become a family man, and establish himself as a true icon in music, technology and film.

    I am very excited to see what he and Ross have planned with all their new projects.

    Friday April 5, 2024
  • Long Form

    Uniqlo's Got a Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom T-Shirt Line Incoming

    Polygon

    Uniqlo’s latest video game collaboration may be its best yet. It teamed up with Nintendo on six T-shirts inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and they’re coming to stores in late April. Each $24.90 T-shirt features iconography and characters from Tears of the Kingdom.

    As usual, Uniqlo has put together a pretty sweet series of tees for a licensed property.

    I think the pocket tees with the Korok’s peeking out is the most clever of the set.

    Wednesday April 3, 2024
  • Long Form

    Yahoo! To Acquire Artifact, The Ex-Instagram Founder's News App

    The Verge

    Instagram’s co-founders built a powerful and useful tool for recommending news to readers — but could never quite get it to scale. Yahoo has hundreds of millions of readers — but could use a dose of tech-forward cool to separate it from all the internet’s other news aggregators. And so, the two sides are joining forces: Yahoo is acquiring Artifact, the companies announced on Tuesday.

    The few times I gave Artifact a spin, I did think it was a compelling way to have news articles raised up and aggregated to your personal taste. At the same time, the weird social features seemed to get absolutely drowned by people trying to push their app/crypto/etc.

    Keep the algorithmic news, drop the tech bros holding court like this is LinkedIn, and I think Yahoo! may actually have something compelling in their portfolio that isn’t Fantasy Sports related.

    Tuesday April 2, 2024