Welcome!

Blog at your own risk.

Working with Jigsaw

A complete riot. I was crying by the end. Enjoy!

Pizza Hut Brings Back Its Classic Logo

From Nation’s Restaurant News:

Pizza Hut is introducing the throwback logo next week with a TV ad campaign supporting the limited-time return of Cheesy Bites Pizza. The so-called appetizer-and-pizza-in-one pie, which first debuted three years ago, has a crust made of 28 cheese-filled bites.

“We get a lot of fervor over it. It’s a nice pizza for sharing,” Radley said.
She said the popular LTO is the perfect platform for showcasing the return of the cleaner, old-fashioned red-roof logo, which was used in the 1960s and 1970s.

It moves away from the current “scripted and tilted” logo, which contains an outline of the roof, but it is white, not red.  The red-roof icon with “Pizza Hut” in black font makes the “brand pop,” Radley said.

Thank god.

That logo was a thing of nightmares, atrocious and was begging to be euthanized. Reverting back to the old logo is a great move. It was classic, iconic and doesn’t need any introductions. If I could be so bold, it was perfect. In a day and age where Pizza Hut’s chief competitor is doing everything under the sun, it’s refreshing to see The Hut return to its roots:

The coolest thing about this? The old logo is visible on it’s Santa Cruz-born website, in 1994, where the very first online order took place:

You could do all of this on PizzaNet, owned and operated by Pizza Hut. PizzaNet was an experiment that launched in the early 90’s, a way for Pizza Hut to test the waters and see if this World Wide Web thing had a real shot at a future. It was proposed by a particularly ambitious Pizza Hut owner in Santa Cruz, and developed by a few folks at a development shop known as Santa Cruz Operation (SCO).

Climate Change Evidence

Take a good, hard look at the graph and caption below.

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Luthi, D., et al.. 2008; Etheridge, D.M., et al. 2010; Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.) Find out more about ice cores (external site).

Sadly, as of today, the EPA, weaponized by the GOP, has rolled back coal regulations that could have saved lives. Drunk on removing regulation, no one in power is considering the implications of allowing coal power to return in droves. NASA, the last bastion of climate research, says it’s not looking good for anyone:

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

If that doesn’t scare the living hell out of you, allow my hyperbolic language for a moment — we don’t have a lot of time left on the clock. Last time I checked, there’s only one Earth. Maybe, start giving a shit. At this rate, humankind will be in grave danger in less than 50 years times. This is not up for debate. Contact your member of Congress or the Senate. Ask him or her to support climate legislation immediately. Find a member of the House here and a member of the Senate here. Most importantly, go vote.

Looking for more tips on reducing your carbon footprint or fighting climate change? Here’s some further reading:

Can We Learn About Privacy From Porn Stars?

My stage name is less about withholding parts of myself or maintaining privacy than it is a symbol of the idea that I am more than just my job or any other isolated slice of my identity.

[…]

Maybe it would be easier to navigate the dissolving boundaries between public and private spaces if we all had a variety of names with which to signal the aspects of ourselves currently on display. And maybe we should remember that our first glimpse of a person is just one small piece of who they really are.

I came across this op-ed a while back, and it’s been in the front of my mind for a while now. I really love Stoya’s viewpoints on privacy. She’s thinking really far ahead, and might be onto something valuable here. Holding onto a single name is pretty archaic (not to mention difficult to do effortlessly across the ever-more crowded digital landscape) nowadays isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have contextual aliases available to users everywhere?

A public alias. A private alias. A work alias. An expressive alias. A commenting alias. Each username, an extension of our whole-self. Each one signaling a segment of digital and personal self. I think this would be a remarkable addition to a product like Twitter.

Genius.com Accuses Google of Lifting Its Content

From the WSJ:

“Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius,” said Ben Gross, Genius’s chief strategy officer, in an email message. The company said it used a watermarking system in its lyrics that embedded patterns in the formatting of apostrophes. Genius said it found more than 100 examples of songs on Google that came from its site.

Starting around 2016, Genius made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics’ apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song.
When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words “Red Handed.”

This is a pretty egregious report if you ask me. Also, it’s a really badass way of catching Google redhanded. Love that.

Google just loves to get down-and-dirty, and equally so, loves to play coy in these kinds of scenarios. Google was lifting content verbatim (through a third-party or not). Gave the stolen content search prominence. To top it off, — genius.com lyrics, links to the artist, and god-forbid, links to the actual song were seemingly buried.

Everyone knows people don’t like to scroll in search results. It’s tiresome and takes time. Precious time. Getting relevant search results to users as fast as possible is the name of the game for Google — but at what cost? Why is Google regurgitating crawled content as their own?

It also means Google is directing a smaller share of those queries to other sites. In March, 62% of mobile searches on Google didn’t result in a user clicking through to another website, according to the web-analytics firm Jumpshot Inc.

Apparently, it’s in their absolute best interest to not send you to a search result anymore. My thought process is, if you search for X at google.com for 20 seconds, then later begin a search for Y, you no longer have to “go back” to begin the search process over again. You can just re-open your last window and start searching again. Which, I get it — but I’m searching for something. Please give it to me. I don’t want Google’s remixed results (or any AMP content for that matter), I want a damn link.

The longer Google can keep you on-site, the higher probability you may be served an ad, or click through a privacy-violating vortex. Genius might not have a solid case against Google, especially considering the lyrics in dispute are owned by artists and/or record labels. But that’s not the point here — the point is we now have a record of Google actively lying about sourcing crawled content, claiming it as their own, and actively promoting in search results over websites.

If this pattern holds, the web will become a grim, cold place. A place of unconnected nodes, where good ideas, and links go to die because Google doesn’t give a shit what we want. Don’t get me wrong. Google makes some insanely great products. Search and display ads are their bread-and-butter, so why on Earth is Ben Gomes mucking up search like this? Something tells me, this isn’t coincidence. Ever since Giannandrea departed, stories like this have become more and more frequent. Something is going on at The Googleplex.

The Dobson Family Sells Controlling Stake in Whataburger

Whatastory. Now, I’m a born-and-bred Texan. I may live in New York City (for now), so the Empire State may have my taxes — but the Lone Star State has my heart. Always has, always will. Despite the troubling past and problematic heroes (and if you have the stamina to stand up to Republicans occasionally), Texas can be a fantastic, magical and oh-so affordable place to call home. So pardon me swimming through some backstory here, while I work up to the big reveal.

To quote the great Lawerence Wright:

[…] Texans see themselves as a distillation of the best qualities of America: friendly, confident, hardworking, patriotic, neurosis-free. Outsiders see us as the nation’s id, a place where rambunctious and disavowed impulses run wild. Texans, it is thought, mindlessly celebrate individualism, and view government as a kind of kryptonite that weakens the entrepreneurial muscles. We’re reputed to be braggarts; careless with money and our personal lives; a little gullible, but dangerous if crossed; insecure, but obsessed with power and prestige.

Power and prestige indeed — Fast-food restaurateurs frequently come to Texas to wade in the tepid waters of the nation’s id if you will. Open a shop in Texas, and it does well — chances are, you will do well just about anywhere.

Texas has it all. From Five Guys to Fuzzy’s. We have Del Tacos (god knows why), food trucks, and oh so many Chipotle’s. Texas has In-n-Out’s and then there’s the Braums, Kincaids and Juicy’s. Not to mention a constant fierce rivalry between Shake Shack and our hero, Whataburger. And boy-howdy, lemme tell ya about the Jalapeño Tree and Bernie. The highway culture in Texas is a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of varying opinions on fast food. From Uvalde to Amarillo, every Texan has a contrarian favorite. But every true Texan can probably agree, Whataburger is a prized possession. Seriously. Couples may get married at McDonald’s locations in Hong Kong, but you can be damn sure Texans get married at Whataburger:

Whataburger fans have had Whataburgers sent to them out-of-state via Federal Express, twenty-four couples were married at a Whataburger restaurant on Valentine’s Day in 1996, and in 1999 the STS-93 crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia requested Whataburger cookies on board for their July mission. The Seventy-seventh Texas Legislature officially recognized what customers have known for more than 50 years: Whataburger is a state treasure. On April 9, 2001, Rep. Jaime Capelo, (D-Corpus Christi), announced his resolution to recognize the Texas-based hamburger chain as a Texas Treasure.

Whataburger has been in business for nearly 69 years now since the first location opened up in Corpus Christie (nice)! But there’s big news on the horizon for every Whataburger enthusiast — our Texan treasure, is now poised for growth now that the Dobson family has handed over the keys to Byron Trott:

The merchant bank [BDT Capital Partners] that’s taking over the majority stake in Whataburger was founded by one of Warren Buffett’s favorite investors.

The founding Dobson family will keep a minority position on the board, while Whataburger’s Chief Financial Officer Ed Nelson will become president of the orange-and-white burger chain. The company’s headquarters will remain in San Antonio.

Not much is known about BDT Capital Partners. Despite dealing with billions of dollars, the company doesn’t have a website and rarely makes headlines.

However, the company continues to grow under its founder, Byron Trott, who has been publicly praised by Warren Buffett in the past.

Sign me the hell up. This is fantastic news for Whataburger. They’ve outgrown their spurs, many times over, and I have confidence that Trott and BDT Capital will take good care of Whataburger. I would love to see a Whataburger location open up in Brooklyn or Manhattan in my lifetime. That would be just so glorious.

If you want to learn more about the history of Whatburger, The Texas State Historical Association has some incredible photographs (that couldn’t be shared here) and a lovely summary Whataburger’s history written by an excellent history teacher — Cindy Jones, of Woodrow Wilson Junior High in Dayton, Texas. I only know this because the THSA publishes a list of their junior historians here, which is super cool 😎

The National Park Typeface

From nationalparktypeface.com

From the website:

I saw those familiar words. Set “National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior” — style. I wondered if it actually was a typeface or “font” that anyone could download and use? Do park rangers have this as a typeface on their computers to set in their word docs, pdfs and power point slides?

I had a sketchbook with me and took some rubbings of the letterforms and asked my friend Miles Barger, the Visual Information Specialist for Rocky, if he had the typeface. He asked the sign shop. No one has it? Turns out it isn’t a typeface at all but a system of paths, points and curves that a router follows.

The router’s “bit” follows the path 
and gives the letters its stroke 
weight or thickness only when engraving a sign. 

It doesn’t really exist as a typeface unless a sign is made.

So my design colleague, Andrea Herstowski, students Chloe Hubler and Jenny O’Grady, NPS Ranger Miles Barger and myself decided to make this router typeface a thing. 

Our National Parks belong to the people, so this typeface should too.

It’s kind of mind-blowing that the National Park service doesn’t have it’s own typeface. I love that most of these parks probably made their signage on-site with whatever tools they have on hand. Which, is probably, a drill press table.

Which, when you think about it, is a gift. A gift of accidental identity. An identity sculpted by cutting costs, and working around year-over-year budget cuts. Anything requiring a tool more complex than a drill press to make an inscription in wood is unthinkable, but remarkably stable and easy to do as-is without fancy adjustments or jigs.

Jeremy Shellhorn, the lead of this project, runs the Designing Outside Studio whose mission is help design students “think and make more creatively”:

Our studio loves to be outdoors, out of the classroom and into natural places that challenge us to design, think and make in new ways. We realize the design process is a powerful tool for making things better, visualizing what if, and creating change.

As our parks and public spaces face threats to their existence and challenges in broadening public support and connecting visitors to memorable and meaningful learning & recreational experiences; we as a studio (students and faculty) look to find ways in which to collaborate with organizations, parks, rangers and fellow outdoors-folk to find ways to connect people with the natural world. 

Incredible. I love it. We need more of this kind of thinking and teaching. Learn more about the Designing Outside Studio here. Want the typeface? head to the homepage here, or visit designermill.com.

Sally West’s Beach Studies

I’ve been wanting to share this artist’s work on my blog for a long time. So long in fact, I don’t even remember how I came across her paintings in the first place.

Sally West is an oil painter who lives and works in Australia. She has some pretty killer work, but her beach studies have recently blown me away. They’re just deliciously weighty, and the folds of thick dabs of oil produce a dance of motion I really enjoy. If I could afford to buy paintings, Sally West would probably be one of my first fine art purchases. Here’s some of her beach studies from her recent Surf & Snow series:

If you’re interested in learning more about Sally West, check out KAB Gallery’s blog post on her work.

In Defense of the 4-day Workweek

Charlotte Graham-McLay for the New York Times:

The firm ran the experiment — which reduced the workweek to 32 hours from 40 — in March and April this year, and asked two researchers to study the effects on staff.
Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor at Auckland University of Technology, said employees reported a 24 percent improvement in work-life balance, and came back to work energized after their days off.

“Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks,” Mr. Haar said. “Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”

Not surprised by the results of this interesting study. Not completely unrelated, but taking an afternoon nap can lower your risk of heart-related death! If you take a step back from the results of either study, it’s apparent that reducing the hours of working (wether that is physically or mentally exhaustive) contributes to a better life.

Photo By: Trent Szmolnik

Just about every city in America should be all-in on improving the quality of life of their citizens. A change to the few, impacts everyone. In other words: a rising-tide lifts all boats. It appears the New Zealand study reveals a reduction in operating costs for businesses and takes car traffic off the road:

Noting that the company had seen lower electricity bills with 20 percent less staff in the office each day, Mr. Barnes said the change in work hours could have wider implications if more companies adopted such a strategy.

“You’ve got 20 percent of cars off the road in rush hour; there are implications for urban design, such as smaller offices,” he said.

But reducing the workweek can be expensive for other cities, as a similar study in Sweden shows. But it does corroborate public health results:

The study showed that employees felt healthier, which reduced sick-leave absence, and that patient care improved, but the city won’t push ahead to make the plan permanent.

Fascinating results. I would love to see a 4-day workweek become the norm. If you ask me, the trade-off is worth the coin spent.

US Postal Service Testing Self-Driving Trucks

The Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. Postal Service is testing self-driving trucks on a more than 1,000-mile mail run between Phoenix and Dallas, the post office’s first use of the technology for long hauls. […]

The two-week pilot starting Tuesday will use big rigs supplied by autonomous trucking firm TuSimple to haul trailers on five round trips between distribution centers, the company said. The roughly 22-hour trip along three interstate highways is normally serviced by outside trucking companies that use two-driver teams to comply with federal regulations limiting drivers’ hours behind the wheel.

TuSimple is a Chinese-unicorn, and as far as I know — is beating Lyft and Uber (and Tesla?) to the finish line of freight-transport automation. This is a pretty huge defeat for the homegrown rideshare companies. Convincing a bureaucratically-restrained department like the Postal Service to even test automated freight is wild. If you had told me a decade ago that the USPS would be testing a Chinese-backed unicorn’s software for automating freighted post — I would have laughed. It’s simply unbelievable.

A freight-truck driving at dusk, with sensors on it.
TuSimple

But here we are! Living in the future!

At any rate, the WSJ claims that the USPS has been “losing money for several years” as sending letters via post continues to decline and the rising cost of operation goes up. First off, The Postal Service is profitable, but congress decided to neuter the USPS profits (at least until 2056) in 2006. The bill is insane. It’s pretty wild looking back at bi-partisan sponsors of the bill through the political lens of today too. From Bloomberg:

Then there is the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006(PAEA), which some have taken to calling “the most insane law” ever passed by Congress. The law requires the Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer subsidies, to prefund its retirees’ health benefits up to the year 2056. This is a $5 billion per year cost; it is a requirement that no other entity, private or public, has to make. If that doesn’t meet the definition of insanity, I don’t know what does. Without this obligation, the Post Office actually turns a profit. Some have called this a “manufactured crisis.” It’s also significant that lots of companies benefit from a burden that makes the USPS less competitive; these same companies might also would benefit from full USPS privatization, a goal that has been pushed by several conservative think tanks for years.

Lastly, operating costs always change. That’s a given in just about any industry. So needless to say, I’m happy to see the USPS is taking a gamble on exciting tech like this. Just because Amazon is taking gambles on automation, doesn’t mean the government can’t get skin in the game too.

Norton Commander (All We Need)

Men I Trust is an incredible indie band from Montreal. Lovely jams, I gotta say. Very chill, very shoegazey. If you’re fans of Mac Demarco, or Snail Mail — Men I Trust is pretty adjacent.

Gorillavsbear writes:

Men I Trust continue to get us psyched for their forthcoming LP Oncle Jazz with this dreamily warped and woozy new one, “Norton Commander (All We Need)“. Watch the video, starring Emma and the group’s friend Lawrence Dickerson as they cruise around southern California in a dope old LeBaron convertible, below:

Engigstciak

The Yukon seems nice.

I went down another Wikipedia rabbit-hole this weekend. The last time I did that I learned about Abiogenesis.

This time around, I began reading more about Aphex Twin, and ultimately ended up at Ivvavik National Park. Not so sure what I read in-between or how I got there — but in case you’re interested, Engigstciak, is a rock formation at the Ivvavik National Park. It’s really striking. I believe it’s particularly beautiful. So much so in fact, I was inspired to write a bit about it:

A rock formation jutting out of the Canadian tundra in the spring.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Case and Wikimedia Commons.

There’s also this really interesting paper available on JSTOR regarding Engigstciak’s surrounding geology. You can view it for free with a JSTOR account. I love this stuff. If you’re a fan of Bill Bryson, something tells me you’ll enjoy this paper too:

A page from the 1961 paper.

The Yukon is a pretty vast, and unorganized expanse (something my Texan heritage has informed me I might enjoy). Within the wide and unforgiving tundra are archaeological heritage sites. It turns out, Engigstciak happens to be one:

[Pottery found at the site] likely relates to the Norton Culture (Norton Check-Stamped Ware) which is found predominantly in the coastal reaches of northern Alaska. Although dating from the last few centuries B.C., this vessel is part of a ceramic making tradition which began in Alaska more than 3500 years ago and was inspired if not imported from Siberia.

The Ivvavik National Park is so remote in fact, that the nearby airport — Sheep Creek International Airport, is merely just a strip of gravel.

The Yukon seems nice.

Uber’s Underwater Investors

Felix Salmon for Axios:

The bottom line: A whopping 81% of the $29.55 billion in equity that Uber has raised is underwater. IPO investors have lost $655 million, while investors from 2016 and 2018 have between them lost $2.27 billion.

Losers: Investors who bought Uber shares 3 years ago have lost 15% of their money, before fees. The opportunity cost is even greater: Investors in the S&P 500 have seen their money grow by 50% over the same period.

Holy. Guacamole. That sucks.

Uber lost more money than any other company that has ever gone public. That’s impressive and morally repugnant. Sure, it minted a few millionaires and reinforced the world’s wealthiest man, Jeff Bezos with a cool $400M. Fun. I wonder how the underwater investor feel right about now?

It’s still early days — but I’m still largely a proponent of Lyft (and the subsidiary Motivate for that matter). Personally, I believe Uber will bleed into oblivion thanks to the rat-race of short sellers. But if automation is the key to profitability (for any ride-hailing company), Uber just shot the starting pistol.

Crossing the chasm of losses per share for these companies will be an arduous race. It’s going to be an insane ride. Especially during this absolutely absurd trade war Trump has started, which I should add, irrefutably, the US will lose this trade war if Trump continues to escalate.

Bokeh: A Privacy-focused Photo-sharing Network

Fellow blogger, writer, front-end engineer, and John Gruber fan (who doesn’t like Daring Fireball seriously?) — Tim Smith of BrightPixels is Kickstarting probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. If you like services like Letterboxd or Micro.blog I think you’ll enjoy this Kickstarter.

More on that in a bit. But first, let’s back up. If you follow the blog here, you know I’m no fan of Facebook. No surprise there. There’s been some interesting developments recently concerning Facebook:

Oh. Fun. 2.8B fake accounts.

That. Is fucking insane. A huge admittance.

Our precious fragile WWW is dire peril ya’ll. It’s up to us. It’s time to dump Facebook. Zuckerberg’s recent pivot to “encryption” and “privacy” is a nothing short of malarkey and an attempt to circumvent potential FCC fines for future data-mishandling. He knows Facebook is bleeding users and there’s a reason why Instagram’s co-founder left Facebook last year.

To make matter worst, Instagram is horrible for your mental health. We spend way too much time peering into the black mirror of Instagram. It’s driving many of us into depression, others into despair, and for others inspiring fear and hate.

Magic Mirror, on the wall, who, now, is the fairest one of all?

So yeah. Facebook is horrible. There’s really no disputing that Facebooks suite of social media applications are tearing apart the web, our mental health, and society. *sighs*

Enter Bokeh. A refreshing new take on photo-sharing.

If you’re a fan of MLTSHP (or the predecessor MLKSHK), I think you’ll enjoy Bokeh’s vision (from the Kickstarter):

Bokeh will be ad-free, have a chronological timeline, and will be private by default. That means that all accounts will start off as private. Public accounts will have an RSS feed, will have the option to cross-post to other social networks, and will support custom domains. All accounts will have an indie web compatible export so you can self-host if you want to.

People won’t be able to find you by name, but will instead need to know your username to find you. Bokeh will never display publicly who follows you or who you follow. If someone has requested to follow you 3 times and you’ve declined, the app will prompt you to block them. In other words, these are your pictures and I want you to have precise control over who sees them.

A still from Tim’s Kickstarter pitch-video.

I think this is really compelling privacy-focused concept. I’m an avidly public persona online, and that’s just me personally — but everyone isn’t into that. So, having this privacy-by-default option is really rad. Moreover, I’m digging the pricing strategy:

Bokeh will have individual and family accounts. Individual accounts will cost $3/month or $30/year, and family accounts will cost $5/month or $50/year. You’ll be able to add up to 5 people to a family account, including the account admin. By backing this project now, you’ll get a discount and allow me to pay for the initial development.

This right here is what hopefully keeps hate-speech at bay, and might even eliminate bots and spam. I firmly believe pay-to-play models will save our online communities. Whereas, free-to-play models might become (predictably) the last bastions of hate-speech.

I really like Tim’s blog. I really like Tim’s idea and that’s why I’m backing his project. I really want privacy to win. But more importantly I want us to win. The more we use services like Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp — the more we lose. For the longest time, I thought Apple was uniquely positioned to bring us a privacy-focused photo-network but that never really panned out did it? It’s time for a change. Isn’t it time we had a real place to share photos with our friends?

Splitscreen: A Love Story

Working at Vimeo, there’s no shortage of Staff Picks to go through and watch in the archives. This was Staff Picked originally in 2011, but I just happened across it today!James W Griffiths is the director of this short, and I don’t have much else to share other than the video description:

Shot entirely on the Nokia N8 mobile phone. Winner of the Nokia Shorts competition 2011.

For context the N8 was released 9 years ago. It had a 12.1 megapixel resolution which was unheard of at the time. But also, not great when we’ve been spoiled 4K+ resolutions as of lately. It also had a 16GB SSD, and a SD memory card slot.

It’s extraordinary and really wonderful what we can achieve around such simple medium constraints.

%d bloggers like this: