Archive: December, 2013

Kotaku’s game of the year: The Last of Us

Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton:

The Last of Us didn’t fall short. It accomplished precisely what its creators set out to accomplish. It was about love and companionship in the face of a world-turned-nightmare. It was about the horror of survival, and about the gnawing fear that accompanies scarcity. It was about loss and coping, about why we choose to continue living when all hope is lost. It will remain a noteworthy accomplishment for years to come, not because any one of its accomplishments was all that remarkable on its own, but because together they made it seem possible that blockbuster games this good might one day become regular—though never ordinary—occurrences.

Well said. The Last of Us was a AAA phenomenon who’s story still resonates with me months after its release. It was my favorite game of 2013, and I was glad to see Kotaku shared the same assessment. (Giant Bomb ranked it number one as well.)

Questions of morality

I watched The Wolf of Wall Street on Christmas last week and while the movie is far from perfect, I liked it a lot. But I’m troubled by the viewpoint promoted on Twitter and in blog posts on how the movie “glorifies” the endless parties of drugs, booze and sex. Yes, director Martin Scorsese spends very little time on the negative impacts of main character Jordan Belfort’s actions, and some are cheering his behavior. But while the movie was entertaining, I was still repulsed by Belfort and everything he stood for. The late great Roger Ebert put it best in this essay from back in 1992:

The most fundamental mistake you can make with any piece of fiction is to confuse the content with the subject. The content is what is in a movie. The subject is what the movie is about. Word counters like Medved are as offended by a Martin Scorsese picture as by a brainless violent action picture, because they see the same elements in both. But the brainless picture is simply a form of exhibitionism, in which the director is showing you disgusting things on the screen. And the Scorsese picture might be an attempt to deal seriously with guilt and sin, with evil and the possibility of redemption. If you cannot tell one from the other, then you owe it to yourself to learn; life is short, and no fun if you spend it disowning your own intelligence.

New PS4 and Xbox One game consoles: a mixed bag for energy efficiency

Noah Horowitz over at the NRDC:

The Natural Resources Defense Council has just completed rigorous measurements of the power use of the newly released U.S. versions of the Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Microsoft Xbox One. We found that the new models have made substantial progress on energy efficiency compared to their predecessors, the PS3 and Xbox 360. But despite these power-saving advances, the new consoles’ higher performance and new features result in up to three times higher annual energy consumption than the most recent models of their predecessors. 

What’s most telling about their research is for most common streaming usage – watching HD movies on Netflix or TV on Hulu – devices like the Apple TV and Roku use less than 5 ways. That’s 15 times lower than the PS4 or XBox One. It’s minor, but between that and the ability to easily navigate with a remote control, I tend to switch to my Roku or Apple TV for movies vs. my new PS4.

Terminal man: De Palma’s “Carlito’s Way”

Niles Schwartz, writing for L’etoile:

Carlito’s Way is a beautiful after-hours ride to nowhere, a late night discotheque frenzy of manic physicality blasting off and crumpling down with the same bullet, where the dancers are passionately moving as if to a final destination of perfection, but are escorted out, dozing, on last call…Now, Carlito’s Way stands as one of his [Pacino’s] last headlining triumphs, his subsequent noteworthy work having shared before-the-title acknowledgement: Robert De Niro (Heat), Johnny Depp (Donnie Brasco), and Russell Crowe (The Insider).

It’s still an amazing film, something I want to potentially revisit during the holiday break. Available on digital rental and Netflix via DVD.

App Santa

If you’re an iOS user there’s a lot of app sales going on for the holidays. But there’s no better single sales grouping than over at App Santa. Very respected iOS dev teams with some excellent apps. I use Tweetbot, Clear+, One Password, and Launch Center Pro daily. I only use Scanner Pro every so often, but it’s essential for keeping track of receipts, especially on business trips.

Happy holidays from Housemarque

Yes, it’s arguably a lot of PR boilerplate over at this PlayStation Blog post. But I’m linking to game studio Housemarque’s holiday card because they are behind Resogun, a legitimately great launch PS4 game. These guys are the embodiment of almost everything I wanted from the PS4 on day one; a simple fun showcase for the PS4 graphics with addictive gameplay. It’s perfect for a short break away from my day job. If you do have a PS4 over break and haven’t given Resogun a try, do so. It’s free on PS+ (which you should have for at least 30 days as part of your new console) and even a la carte at $15 it’s well worth its entry price.


It’s too last minute to be useful for holiday gifting, but for 2014 shopping, Canopy is a great site. It’s effectively a wrapper around Amazon with hand picked recommendations; most items selected are very design and/or tech friendly, and often hard to find elsewhere. I like the clean web design as well.

Clean Links

During the holidays I tend to travel more and rely on my iPhone and iPad for blogging and social media. But there’s a big problem when you find a cool link on RSS or Twitter: the URL is often littered with proxies, tokens, and other junk that’s unnecessary. Enter the free Clean Links app. Just copy whatever the URL is to your clipboard, open up the app, and a “cleaned” version of the URL is pasted back on your clipboard for use elsewhere. For those that want a faster workflow, Clean Links supports the X-Callback-URL scheme for use in apps like Drafts or Launch Center Pro.

No girls allowed

I’ve usually come away very impressed with Polygon’s long form writing, and this article by Tracey Lien is a great example. Very solid reporting, smart illustrations, it’s the full package. Best of all, you don’t have to be hard core gamer to appreciate the content. If you’re vaguely interesting in marketing, even basic human psychology, there’s a lot of good stuff here.

Silicon Valley isn’t a meritocracy. And it’s dangerous to hero-worship entrepreneurs

Alice Marwick’s article has already gotten a lot of well deserved praise, but this passage really stood out as a smart (and simple?) observation that I’ve rarely spotted in other articles:

Certainly, a level of material wealth is necessary to participate in San Francisco tech culture. Very few pointed to the elephant in the room of assumed wealth: “People behave as if we all make kind of the same.” To forge the type of social connections necessary to move into the upper echelons of the tech scene requires being able to take part in group activities, travel to conferences, and work on personal projects. This requires middle- to upper-class wealth, which filters out most people.

The result of this mythology is that it denies the role of personal connections, wealth, background, gender, race, or education in an individual’s success.