Archive: February, 2013

The MS Surface Pro

Interesting take on the Surface tablet from Penny Arcade illustrator Mike Krahulik. Overall, as a multifunctional computer that is both a relatively slick, pressure sensitive sketch device along with baseline gaming device, he liked it.


Very slick jQuery based plugin that adds drag and drop based image uploads, along with built in image previews. As author Matias Meno points out, there are other options, but there is a bit of spin and compactness here that is really interesting.

PS4: an evolution when we need a revolution?

Core gamers had high expectations on this week’s PS4 keynote and for good reason: it’s been seven years since the XBox 360 launch, the longest gap ever between game console generations. But gaming has been redefined by social media, mobile games on smartphones and tablets, along with a resurgence in PC gaming on Steam. Can consoles placate core gamers while still bringing a more mainstream audience into the fold?

In light of this challenge, Sony did a great job this week addressing the core fan base, but there’s some unanswered questions and problems with their approach for the overall public.

Let’s start with Sony’s core audience. It’s a smaller group than seven years ago, but it’s still important. You want a strong base of early console adopters for that first “lean year” when there’s fewer release titles and developers are still grappling with how to program effectively on the device. Overall, Sony appears to have learned from the major mistakes they made with the PS3: system updates, a major PS3 annoyance, will be taken care of in the background. With 8 GB of fast RAM and a x86 processor, development should be easier than on the PS3 Cell chip. The PS4 incorporates streaming technology for quick demos and live spectating on friends games, an innovation a lot of the hard core audience wants and will actively use to share clips on Facebook, YouTube and other social media. Add in flashy demos from big traditional gaming houses (e.g. Activision, Ubisoft, Square Enix), combined with two huge newcomers (Bungie, Blizzard) makes for a strong showing for those already sold on traditional console gaming.

But there was a troubling amount of PS4 content that felt very much like something we saw back in 2005 but with much flashier graphics. Did Sony really have to open their gameplay demos with a six minute clip from another, tired first person sci-fi shooter? Why were there so many game demos sequels or small variants of existing IPs?

I think the biggest area Sony and Microsoft have to address is a very potent middle tier gaming market comprised of mostly smaller, indie developers who would price content generally in that $5 to $40 sweet spot that neither iOS or AAA game publishers generally cover. Granted, Sony’s PSN has a few much lauded indie titles (e.g. Journey, Limbo), and the PS4 nabbed acclaimed Braid developer Jonathan Blow for The Witness. The PS4 keynote even opened up with Sony’s Andrew House stating “PSN supports free to play” right off the bat. But PSN has a long way to go to match the open nature of Steam or the iOS App Store. A healthy indie market would give Sony the diversity it needs much more than just a console’s expected $60 AAA sports and shooter games. Imagine a big library of accessible casual games you could easily find and download for a few bucks each on PSN – much larger and more diverse than what we see today. It would be more than what you’d pay for your average iPad game (who’s race to the bottom market has effectively killed off games north of $3), but in return you get exponentially more engrossing graphics and gameplay depth.

I’m also concerned about the price tag on this device. There’s a lot of expensive sounding hardware and features, including a DualShock 4 that clearly took the kitchen sink approach (touch screen, movement tracking, headphone jack) without justifying a “why” behind it. Anything much more than $400 for the base console I think is dangerous territory for the holiday 2013 launch.

While you can’t place final bets until at least a year from now, Sony has clearly evolved from its last place PS3 finish in the previous round of console wars. But even with that correction, the PS4 could languish by failing to address the very different, mobile friendly gaming landscape of 2013.

The making of ‘Pulp Fiction’

Very engrossing, well done retelling of how Tarantino’s breakthrough film was made, written by Mark Seal over at Vanity Fair. Take for instance, how they secured John Travolta for a starring role:

So, when he was told that Tarantino wanted to meet with him, he went to the director’s address, on Crescent Heights Boulevard.

Tarantino recalls, “I open the door, and he says, ‘O.K., let me describe your apartment to you. Your bathroom has this kind of tile, and da-da-da-da. The reason I know this is, this is the apartment that I lived in when I first moved to Hollywood. This is the apartment I got Welcome Back, Kotter in [the TV series that made him a star].’ ”

They talked until sunrise. Tarantino told him he had two films in mind for him. “A vampire movie called From Dusk Till Dawn and Pulp Fiction,” says Travolta, who replied, “I’m not a vampire person.”


When you’re working on a responsive design and considering smaller, more compact screen sizes, a minimal nav is generally the way to go. Because many sites rely on a top navigation with more than one or two options, dropdowns are often the best choice in this small screen circumstance.

The problem with this dropdown approach is it can introduce some HTML or CSS bloat if you’re not careful. Enter tinynav.js, a really simple jQuery based plugin that auto converts a classic ul based navigation into a dropdown for small screens.

Nakatomi space

Geoff Manaugh, writing on his BLDGBLOG (“building blog”) about Die Hard and architecture:

The majority of that film’s interest, I’d suggest, comes precisely through its depiction of architectural space: John McClane, a New York cop on his Christmas vacation, moves through a Los Angeles high-rise in basically every conceivable way but passing through its doors and hallways.

In light of the apparent mess that is A Good Day to Die Hard, it’s great to go back and revisit what made the original so amazing. Usually most attention is lavished on Bruce Willis and the tight direction, but Manaugh really illustrates a new whole angle I’ve never considered.


There are so many native iOS weather apps released on a regular basis that it’s reached a point of near self parody. But Sun is different: web based, fluid, minimal, with some slick off canvas navigation for getting around. I’m still sticking to my own custom web weather app, but it’s awesome to see we have great options out there.

On layout and web performance

Nice performance pointers by web developer Kelly Norton on the problems of post page load layout (a.k.a. reflow or repaint), and how it can cause such an adverse effect on web sites and web apps.

I agree with Kelly regarding the Chrome extension Speed Tracer. Even though I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the tool can do, I’ve found it can come in handy for more complex web pages that I’m working on.

ShopTalk episode 55: rapidfire #13

I’ve recommended the ShopTalk podcast in the past, but hosts Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier touched on a pressing topic here for me: finding unused CSS selectors in your code. I didn’t realize until it was mentioned in the podcast that one great way to do so was to open up the Chrome web tools, click on the Audits tab and let it run. Scroll to the bottom where ‘remove unused CSS rules’ are listed. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a good starting point for trimming excess CSS.

Art of the Title covers ‘Run Lola Run’

The whole film is a visual treat, but I remember seeing that opening sequence for the first time in theaters distinctly. I still occasionally pop in Run Lola Run‘s soundtrack today.