Your weekly, stream-of-consciousness hello.
Hello and Happy Sunday, folks!
I hope you had yourself a great week and you’re looking forward to another great one ahead.
Here in Baltimore, it was an absolute scorcher of a week, and it looks like the week coming isn’t going to let up. I know I’ve always grown up with Maryland Summers being hot, humid and miserable, but this feels more like what I’m used to in the dog days of Summer – not at the beginning of the season.
Ah well. All the more reason to stay inside, play some Super Mario Maker 2, and write more newsletters like this one.
Every week, I’ll toss a few thoughts out on what I felt the biggest story of the week was.
It’s the end of an era in the world of Apple, and the pearls, they are being clutched.
On Thursday, Apple revealed that Jony Ive would be departing his lead design role at the company so that he may start his own design company, LoveForm (of which Apple would be a client) and start to move on.
There’s no doubt that Ive had set the tenor for the modern look and feel of technology. Brushed aluminum, mostly screen. He even became the focus of parody, with his overblown, super-serious descriptions of the latest iGadget, always in his thick English brogue.
But, unlike various pundits across the web – I don’t think this is the end of Apple. The thing which always made Apple’s products so usable wasn’t necessarily the fit or finish (though that was nice), it was the combination of hardware with brilliant software.
Ive’s been producing new looks, new feels, new designs for two decades for Apple. It’s time for things to move on. And maybe we can make the phones a little bit thicker, so we get just that much more battery. And maybe the Headphone Jack, too.
Another story which grabbed my eye from the week.
Sadly, once again, the world of video game journalism has exposed another scenario of terrible crunch and the poor working conditions of the creators, programmers and testers who bring endless joy to millions of homes.
We saw it in the past with an expose of the crunch cultureGrand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption developers Rockstar, the never-ending crunch at Epic Games to support Fortnite,and the awful mismanagement at EA owned developer BioWare, which lead to the high profile failure of Anthem.
Now, all eyes are on Activision’s team at Treyarch, who developed last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, as we get a glimpse into their own toxic environment, one where Testers are seen as “less than” and contractors are made second-class citizens, and crunch is, unfortunately, a way of life.
It’s a shame, really. There’s no need for games which make as much money as they do to torture the staff who works on them. Countless video game studios work under the concept that crunch is a way of life…and that just says to me that management is just looking to deliver on unachievable goals.
Personally, I put my money where my mouth is. Every single time a story like this hits, that’s another game, another developer which I won’t reward my money to.
A bunch of cool links what I read this week, typically culled from my ever-growing Instapaper queue.
Every week, I’ll make a recommendation of something to read, to watch, or to listen to. I’ll even link to where you can check it out.
This week’s recommendation:
I hope you don’t mind, but this week’s recommendation post is an adapted bit of writing from my blog on Friday.
The Appleseed Cast is a band I’ve followed since their double album release, Low Level Owl in 2002. They started as a band in the vein of emo pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate, but with Low Level Owl, started to embrace a unique combination of the instrumental work of the drone and post-rock worlds, with the epic, sweeping guitars of 1980’s U2.
I’ve been listening to the album pretty much non-stop all weekend, and in turn, I’m already ready to herald it as my favorite album of the year so far - and their best since 2006’s Peregrine.
Even this many albums on, the band continues to expand their sound (perhaps because there’s only one original member remaining, singer/songwriter/lead guitarist Chris Crisci), with this album in particular focusing much on synths and other assorted electronics. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but the electronic segments are reminiscent of early M83, and somehow those elements play well with some straightforward rock segments. It’s a mixing of audio worlds I didn’t expect, but I’ve fallen for, and hard.
If you’re looking just for one track to sample, I recommend the track “Collision”. The album starts with some deep and moody synths, but quickly builds into some incredible, Wilco-esq guitars. It’s this loud-quiet-loud, build-and-release feel matched with vocals “lost in the waves” which has always endeared me to the band, and this track is a brilliant example of what I adore about them.
Enjoy the Holiday, friends in America! Happy Canada Day, friends in Canada! Enjoy your week, people elsewhere. We’ll do this again next Sunday, yeah?
Don’t let the bastards bring you down.