Instagram’s not-so-subtle change

Did you notice it? Did you open your Instagram app and declared: “hey, that’s different”?

For an app that was predominantly laser focused on mobile photography, it seems Instagram is aggressively trying to innovate and grow by breaking new ground (by, ironically, mimicking other products). To me, that subtle icon change in the navbar wasn’t so subtle. To me it was jarring.

Source: On Instagram’s Inverted UX Iceberg

Yes, the camera icon was swapped out for a plus sign. Ali rightfully suggests this has been done to be more universal understood by its now immense audience. Another more potent reason brought forward is that as Instagram is opening up to multiple forms of messaging beyond a single photograph, the camera icon itself becomes obsolete.

The plus is a more general way of saying “add content”. Which means that Instagram is not yet done with copying Snapchat. It may look towards other forms of competition. In the end, it might even start to incorporate Facebook functionality as imaging becomes even more important.

We don’t know how food works

In the Netherlands we’ve had a surge in the “to meat or not to meat” debate, thanks to one of the government agencies suggesting we eat less meat. As per usual, this draws all kinds of folk out of the woodwork extolling the benefits of whatever they deem to be correct.

Back in 2007, Michael Pollan produced a very common sense view on food and nutrition:

 

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I’ll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice.

Like: A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products.

That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat ”food.”

Source: Unhappy Meals | Michael Pollan

The article underneath the link is a long long-read, but worth the effort. Though we may think we’ve got food nailed down in terms of nutrients, we’re actually casting a very narrow view on it. Plants, meats and fruits all contain a multitude of chemicals influencing each other’s effects.

Sure, specific micro-nutrients can be traced back to a certain effectiveness. But it turns out extracting these micro-nutrients from food and consuming them separately (or adding them to other foods), does not provide the same nutritional value.

Add to that the blunder we made about the importance of fat, and a consequential overreliance on carbohydrates and we may have stumbled upon the recipe for cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

The article also adds some view about how and why cultural diets (Mediterranean, Japanese, I guess even Dutch) work. In the end we still don’t know exactly how food works.

Until we do, we shouldn’t just reminisce about how things were better in the past, we should eat like it as well.

On visualising data

Data visualisation is an increasingly important tool to explain what data is acually telling us. After all, seeing is believing. But what you want to get across is often linked to how you present it, and data is no different.

“Let the data speak” they say. But what happens when the data rambles on and on?

Source: One Dataset, Visualized 25 Ways | FlowingData

Nathan Yau presents a single dataset in 25 different ways and lays down some basics along the way in how to make data visualisation work.

Keep it in mind whenever these charts pop up in the media.

Nioh is an ode to the Soulsborne

Nioh

It has taken a suspiciously long time before anyone attempted to emulate the success of Demon’s Souls and its offspring the Dark Souls series. Only two years ago did Lords of the Fallen take a somewhat random stab at it (and died). From Software’s own Bloodborne was so similar that it spontaneously generated the “Soulsborne” genre name and wasn’t even regarded as a competitor. Maybe it’s simply too difficult a task to fill From’s shoes. Would be kind of poetic, wouldn’t it?

Continue reading “Nioh is an ode to the Soulsborne”

“Turning CO2 to Stone”

It won’t help us reverse the effects of global warming fast enough, but there is a way to lock CO2 into a more permanent form.

At Iceland’s Hellisheidi Power Plant, Lamont hydrologist Martin Stute, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist Juerg Matter, and colleagues tried something different. They used CO2 captured at the power plant, and mixed it with water and hydrogen sulfide, creating soda-like carbonation, then injected the mixture into porous basalt rocks 400 to 800 meters underground. Basalt, which is created as lava cools, contains calcium, iron, and magnesium, which react naturally with CO2 to form solid carbonate minerals. Within two years, 95 percent of the injected CO2 had turned to mineral – far faster than the 8–12 years originally expected.

Source: Turning CO2 to Stone – Science Bulletin

A “cool” technique, but it might take a while for it to be adopted on a grand scale.

Good Omens Series Will Come in 2018

In 2017 we can use all the good omens we can get…

“Almost 30 years ago Terry Pratchett and I wrote the funniest novel we could about the end of the world, populated with angels and demons, not to mention an 11 year-old Antichrist, witch-finders and the four horsepeople of the Apocalypse. It became many people’s favourite book. Three decades later, it’s going to make it to the screen. I can’t think of anyone we’d rather make it with than BBC Studios, and I just wish Sir Terry was alive to see it.”

Source: Good Omens Series Will Come to Amazon and the BBC in 2018 | Tor.com

The Sun’s space weather

In case melting poles and intensifying weather within the confines of our own planet wasn’t worrying enough, we also need to keep track of the Sun. Because it might just fire off some harsh “space weather”.

A solar storm, though, could be responsible for an off-the-charts economic disaster. Global Positioning Systems, satellite services and electronic communication systems are all at risk from the solar flares known as coronal mass ejections.

But it’s national power grids that are seen as the most vulnerable earthbound assets, with a risk that power surges will overload transformers which are both expensive and difficult to replace. Changes in the earth’s magnetic field interfere with electrical currents and blow large high-voltage transformers, which take at least five months to build and are bulky to transport.

Source: How Space Could Trigger a Future Economic Crisis – Bloomberg View

The Sun giveth, the Sun taketh away. You’d think we’ve come incredibly far as a species, only to still be at the mercy of our original faith-inspiring celestial body.

“Satanism” in Dungeons & Dragons

It’s still insane to realise that there was a time that some people thought that a form of improvisation theatre combined with some game rules, dice, pens and paper made for effective Satanic rituals with dramatic results.

But the cartoonist Jack Chick saw only evil in Dungeons & Dragons. Chick, a publisher of evangelical Christian comics, penned a tract called “Dark Dungeons” that portrayed D&D as a game of Satanism and witchcraft. In Chick’s story, a witchy (and pretty sexy) Dungeon Master brainwashes her innocent younger players, recruiting them into a coven and teaching them to cast spells on their parents. One player, Marcie, becomes so upset when her D&D character dies that she commits suicide.

Source: Why Everyone You Know Now Plays Dungeons & Dragons

moz://a logo

I really like the new Mozilla logo (especially when considering the other options suggested in the crowd-sourced decision), but I can’t help being reminded of the old Medium logo.

Brand New: Opinions on corporate and brand identity work. A division of UnderConsideration.

Source: Brand New: New Logo for Mozilla by johnson banks

Then again, a white ‘m’ in a black box tends to be pretty similar regardless of who uses it. 😛

The new logo also seems to “conform” to potential brutalism uses. Hopefully that doesn’t mean it’ll look horribly dated in a year. Maybe this rebranding will also positively affect Mozilla Firefox. Its entire visual language could use the update.