18 Apr 2021

Indian drop calls

Leaving missed calls in this way — effectively using a mobile phone as a kind of latter-day pager — was a consumer hack that, in the 2000s, before India’s cheap smartphone and data revolution, grew more popular than texting. The missed call emerged in India as a critical means of communication for those who counted every rupee spent on recharge credit. But the practice soon spread, became trendy, and, even as call rates plunged in the 2000s to among the lowest in the world, evolved into a general tool of convenience: a missed call could mean “I miss you,” “Call me back,” or “I’m here.” The fact that the missed call demanded only basic numeric literacy made them accessible to the third of India’s population that was illiterate. In 2008, one study estimated that more than half of Indian phone users were in the habit of calling people with the expectation that they wouldn’t pick up.

With a couple of rings to the appropriate ZipDial hotline, customers received automated texts and callbacks that delivered live cricket scores for a big match, a deal on an affordable shampoo, rudimentary on-demand radio for Bollywood songs, or celebrity tweets — content supplied by brands that were struggling to reach offline consumers. In exchange, companies learned about their customers’ preferences and created viral offline marketing campaigns for their products.

Loved this article. There have always been more creative and better solutions for marketing to a population than dumpster diving.

18 Apr 2021

Why bumblebees love cats, or, why everything is a system.

There is a famous story along these lines told for the first time by the German biologists Ernst Haeckel and Carl Vogt. As the story goes, the fortunes of England would seem to depend on cats. By nourishing themselves on mice, cats increase the chances of survival of bumblebees, which, in turn, pollinate shamrocks, which then nourish the beef cows that provide the meat to nourish British sailors, thus permitting the British navy—which, as we all know, is the mainstay of the empire—to develop all of its power. T. H. Huxley, expanding on the joke, added that the true force of the empire was not cats but the perseverant love of English spinsters for cats, which kept the cat population so high. In any event, underlying the joke is the simple truth that all living species are connected to one another in some way or other by relationships, visible or hidden, and that acting directly on one species, or simply altering its environment, can have totally unexpected consequences.

Don't fuck with cats.

02 Apr 2021

Sony NW-A55L FTW

I wrote about picking up a new Walkman right as lockdown was starting to bite. What fucking great purchase that has become.

Before dropping some cash on new speakers, I was checking what I could squeeze from my Walkman + Bose speakers. Along the way I unlocked the European soft cap on volume limits AND a radio. For some reason these were blocked in Europe. Now I have a Shiit Vali 2 on pre-order: gots to get those fancy blubs and blinkenlights going on 🙊

Hat tip to MrWalkman for the awesome code.

Aside: I've spent - no shit - a month shopping for a method to pull my FLACs from the HomeLab via an amp and then into some speakers to give me something to bounce to whilst working. I was thinking something like the Yahama N303D which can access a server via DLNA for music, power some passive speakers and has a tuner. So an amplifier + speakers could easy be plus £500...so I've broken out my soldering iron.

15 Mar 2021

Climate models and Fortran

One night I decided to go see what climate models actually are. Turns out they’re often massive batch jobs that run on supercomputers and spit out numbers. No buttons to click, no spinny globes or toggle switches. They’re artifacts from the deep, mainframe world of computing. When you hear about a climate model predicting awful Earth stuff, they’re talking about hundreds of Fortran files, with comments at the top like “The subroutines in this file determine the potential temperature at which seawater freezes.” They’re not meant to be run by any random nerd on a home computer.

15 Mar 2021

Plain text protocols

The next time you are building a software system and have to exchange data start with using a simple plain text protocol and then add in the complexity for optimization later. All of these protocols can be sent as plain text data over a TCP or UDP. They are easily inspected, small, and direct.

Handy guide, and a very nice #NoBullshit site from Blain Smith.

Chancee is a designer who codes from London Town.

They have worked for the likes of Nike, Vodafone, Sky, Disney and Pearsons. Won awards from Promax, BAFTAs, the Appys and The Drum. Spoken at The Waldorf and Southampton University - despite swearing like a sailor. Available for hire to draw pretty curves and code clever things.

Archive

Apr 2021

Indian drop calls

Why bumblebees love cats, or, why everything is a system.

Sony NW-A55L FTW

Mar 2021

Climate models and Fortran

Plain text protocols

150 Watt Office

High Potassium Posting

Feb 2021

Fuck google: Part II

Fuck google

City cycles

Eating the super-rich

Jan 2021

Four seasons

Dec 2020

"This time, damn it, we’re going to get to the surface"

Chrome is bad

Designing 2D graphics in the Japanese industry

Bad launch leads to real world relativistic math

Nov 2020

Moomins

#SovietTough

Abandon stream: Part 2

Oct 2020

Fuck Boris

American Viziers

Sep 2020

Subscriptions

Motherless Brooklyn

Riding rails

Freelance in 2020

Basic Printing in OpenBSD

Slaughter at the bridge: Uncovering a colossal Bronze Age battle

Technicolor portals

Aug 2020

Abandon stream

Behind the Accidentally Resilient Design of Athens Apartments

Jul 2020

The Walkman Forty Years on

Jun 2020

I Dream of Canteens

May 2020

OpenBSD Git server

Unreleased De La Soul Acapellas

Apr 2020

Animating SVGs: Strokes

You're designing for the web wrong: Part 1

A newspaper made from RSS feeds

Marvellous glass

Charlie Sloth Rap Show

Swift: Google's bet on differentiable programming

Mar 2020

OpenBSD Everything

Master & Dynamic: MW60

Where are the voyagers now

Lethal Bizzle is back!

Feb 2020

Low cost, low power NAS

A CSS history tour

Debugging a live saturn V

Two up, Two down in London Town

Jan 2020

Into the indie-verse