→ The PowerPoint slide that brought down a space shuttle

Looked this up after seeing it mentioned in The Sizzle, a newsletter I highly recommend signing up for.

Tufte’s point is that PowerPoint mimics the hierarchical structure of big business organisations, which is a bad way to communicate. Information is sliced into logical bits and truncated to the point of unclarity; as the information is passed up through an org structure, slides are deleted until only a brief summary remains. Context is lost; key points disappear; the narrative is destroyed. Or in this case, the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia died.

What does Tufte recommend? Give people in meetings a short written report, that they digest as the meeting begins. Then talk, talk, about the real issues.

→ Print parts first

The first thing you should print after purchasing a 3D printer is replacement parts for said printer

That way if one piece breaks, you can easily swap it out without having to order a part. Most 3D printers have at least a half dozen parts built from 3D printed parts. Also, make sure that the first thing you print after replacing a part is another one of those parts.

Woah, what a concept.

I’m not a bigot, but…

On March 18 the Australian Government Liberal party withdrew support for the Safe Schools Program it established in 2014, following criticism from backbencher Cory Bernadi.

23 days earlier, the leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, labelled Bernadi a homophobe.

Our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, then said that Shorten and others should choose their words carefully:

The way that he has sought to describe any critic of the Safe Schools program as being an extremist or an ideologue, or worse, is utterly unworthy and he should recognise that inflaming this debate is unworthy. I address this to every member of this House: all members expressing views on this program should choose their words carefully and remember the impact their statements can have on young people and their families.

The other day I saw Lindy West reporting on Donald Trump for the New York Times:

It’s an odd construction. Once you say, “He says what I’m afraid to say,” and point to a man who is essentially a 24/7 fire hose of unequivocal bigotry, you’ve said what you’re afraid to say, so how afraid could you have been in the first place? The phrase is a dodge, a way to acknowledge that you’re aware it’s a little naughty to be a misogynist xenophobe in 2016, while letting like-minded people know, with a conspiratorial wink, that you’re only pretending to care. It’s a wild grab for plausible deniability — how can I be a white supremacist when I’m just your nice grandpa? — an artifact of a culture in which some people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist.

I recalled how two years ago the Australian Attorney General, himself a Liberal, was in the press for the following infamous quote:

People do have a right to be bigots you know

John Gruber of Daring Fireball had some really interesting reflection on the above Lindsy West op-ed:

That phrase at the end — that we have “a culture in which some people believe that it’s worse to be called racist than to be racist” — is something I started noticing years ago. Once you see it, you can’t un-see it, and it explains much about our current discourse on racism.

What’s happened is that all but a small fringe of American society has agreed that “racism”, in the abstract, is deeply wrong. But there are many people who agree that “racism” is deeply wrong who themselves hold racist views. One way they square this cognitive dissonance is by redefining “racism” as applying only to grossly overt racism — using racial slurs, refusing to hire people of color, belonging to whites-only clubs, etc.

It’s the difference between seeing racism as a problem on which we’ve made tremendous progress but still have far to go, versus seeing it as a problem which we have largely eliminated.

I think not only do we have a societal attitude where people have racist views but refuse to consider theirselves racist. I think we also have a societal attitude today where people think homophobic views, but refuse to consider theirselves homophobes.

All the way up to the leader of our country himself.

→ Terminator 2 is deeper than you think

Sarah Connor is one of the most compelling female characters in cinema. I am reluctant to use the term “female character.” It is an apt description, but her gender isn’t what is so compelling, it’s the fact that it’s never addressed. She isn’t the ass-kicking Alice from the Resident Evil films, who receives her own slow-mo fight sequences as the men around her stare open-mouthed. Sarah Connor is a soldier. She is the mother of the human race, tasked with instilling in her son the skills he will need to lead and survive.

James Cameron earns his paycheck bypassing this convention, as is evident in how he wrote Ellen Ripley in Aliens. There is no scene where a slack-jawed male character has to say, “I don’t take orders from girls,” only to eat his words when the woman has proven her chops. Ripley just does what needs to be done. Like Connor, she is capable without needing to evoke male characteristics. They do this without sacrificing their femininity, and both have their moments of maternal ferocity. Ripley with Newt, and Connor with her son. Cameron is the godfather of the “strong female character,” although I feel that term is overused. Ripley and Connor were “strong female characters” before it was a buzzword, and they never drew attention to the fact.

→ The boomer supremacy

In 1975, the average Sydney homebuyer took three years to save their deposit, and the average home cost four times the annual income. In 2015, the average Sydney homebuyer took nine years to save their deposit, and the average home cost 12 times the annual income. But read the comments section under any article on property prices, and it will be full of unsolicited advice from people who bought a home 40 years ago. It wasn’t easy for them either, but they made sacrifices – they didn’t eat in restaurants, they didn’t go on holidays, they didn’t go out. Occasionally someone will advocate living “away from the city”, and it will turn out they bought their first home next to the beach.

This group of thrifty investors rarely mention their free education, cheap rent while saving, or union-protected and secure jobs. They weren’t asking the bank for a loan while struggling on a one-year contract or paying off a $50,000 HECS debt. It doesn’t matter what the numbers say, though. In this rendition, Generation Y and the tail end of Generation X haven’t been excluded from the property market because they’ve been failed by society. They’ve missed out because of a moral failure of their own making.

→ Acorn developer loves Apple Pencil

Is it the same as drawing in my sketchbook? No. Of course not. I’m rubbing a plastic tip across a glass screen. It’s still God Damn Amazing though.

I’ve had my iPad Pro for about a week now and the first thing everyone asks is “Have you got the pencil?”. Maybe I should try the pencil.

→ Advertising tracking is getting scarier every day

Privacy advocates are warning federal authorities of a new threat that uses inaudible, high-frequency sounds to surreptitiously track a person’s online behavior across a range of devices, including phones, TVs, tablets, and computers.

The ultrasonic pitches are embedded into TV commercials or are played when a user encounters an ad displayed in a computer browser. While the sound can’t be heard by the human ear, nearby tablets and smartphones can detect it. When they do, browser cookies can now pair a single user to multiple devices and keep track of what TV commercials the person sees, how long the person watches the ads, and whether the person acts on the ads by doing a Web search or buying a product.

If you aren’t running an AdBlocker by now, you really should.