Panic is a Mac and iOS software company whose software I’ve used myself or many years. Having followed them online through social media and their blog over the years they’ve always had a keen interest in gaming (one of my favourite posts was when they made 1980’s-esque fake packaging for some of their apps!).
In recent years they’ve moved into games publishing, “Firewatch” being the first title they supported and more recent the massively popular “Untitled Goose Game“.
Last year they announced an even bigger step into gaming with the announcement of their “Playdate” handheld gaming console. It might seem a bit crazy to try and launch an all-new hardware platform (never mind one with a hand crank as part of its UI!) but as in many things Panic does it seems there’s a method to their madness.
It’s due to launch sometime in (hopefully early) 2020, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one of these. I’m a huge fan of Game Boy and retro tech so the aesthetics and design for the Playdate look pretty awesome to me!
I had a request the other day to find login details for the administrator of an old client website that we built for Dundee University in the earlier years of wideopenspace, the web design company I used to run. I hadn’t realised that the old client site was still up and running all this time after having been launched in 2006!
It was an amazing nostalgic blast-from-the-past to log in to the site’s control panel and see our custom-built content management system again! I’d kind of forgotten about the 100’s (actually, more like 1000’s!) of hours worth of time and effort that my business partner Andy and I put in to developing it and implementing it on client projects.
The CMS was called ‘Spacious’* and actually came in two versions, the full version with a multi-level navigation system and various custom modules and a ‘Spacious Lite’ version which was made for really small sites with single level navigation and also had access to certain modules.
When we started development of our CMS around 2004 we hadn’t really used any third-party CMS platforms (WordPress V1 actually came out in 2004 but it wasn’t really on our radar). Instead we wanted to make something that suited our own specific purposes and client needs. So we didn’t really look at how any other CMS’s were doing things but in a kind of intentionally-naive way built it to work how we wanted it to work for the sites we were building for clients.
We used Spacious for a quite a lot of sites and we actually tried to secure funding to enable us to develop it into a fully fledged CMS product to sell to other companies, but sadly we never succeeded in getting funded. Eventually we stopped developing Spacious and as a company we increasingly moved our focus to WordPress as a platform around about 2009 (probably WordPress 2.7 I think?).
Client budgets were getting tighter and awareness of open source systems like WordPress was increasing. As such it was getting harder to sell clients a licence for a commercial CMS so financially the time spent building and maintaining our own one made less and less sense.
From a development perspective I found that WordPress had a lot of technical similarities to how we’d chosen to structure our CMS. Spacious had similar concepts of posts and pages, a plugin system offering various functions like Events, Email contact forms, Staff directories (‘modules’ in Spacious’ terminology), comments and even a form of multisite that could run more than one site from a single installation. (Spacious had some really cool features built into it that I’m pretty proud of in retrospect!)
From a client-facing perspective I liked the simplicity of WordPress, it was cognitively easy to use – especially compared to the complexities of something like Joomla at the time (I remember seeing all the steps that an incoming new client had to go through to edit their existing site in Joomla and it was extremely complex and confusing!).
As WordPress became our main focus the list of live client sites running Spacious grew shorter. So it’s very cool to see not just one but actually twosites that are still live and running on Spacious after all this time!
* Originally we wanted to call it ‘Fabric’ and trademark it but we weren’t successful – that’s a whole other story!
This episode of The Nine Club with Paul Schmitt (of Schmitt Stix / PS Stix fame) is awesome, if you’re into skating and also how skateboards are made, history of the skate industry etc it is well worth a watch – the guy has the knowledge!
I’ve been following this game ever since it was a Kickstarter project and I got the chance to try out a demo version of it. It’s being released on PC, Xbox One and PS4 (Switch version coming later apparently) on October 23rd.
This new podcast creation tool called “Descript” looks pretty amazing:
Descript builds simple and powerful collaborative tools for new media creators. We strive to eliminate the tedious work that often stands between an idea and its expression, so that creators can focus on developing their craft instead of their usage of tools.
Basically the plan is for one writer per year to write a book for 100 years, at the same time a purposefully-planted forest grows to maturity. After 100 years the trees will be harvested and then the still-unseen / unread books will be printed using the wood from the trees.
One thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until the year 2114. Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the one hundred year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.
It’s an interesting idea to consider that these books might only be read by at least grandchildren if not great-grandchildren of any of us alive just now. It’s also made me ponder how the website for this project will be viewed in 100 years time – how well will this digital media stand the test of time?
He was definitely on the quirky side of things musically – kind of like if Ivor Cutler grew up in Seattle instead of Glasgow – but I’ve always quite liked unusual / out there types of music.
When Daniel Johnston was about 19, he spent a lot of time making things in his parents’ West Virginia basement. He would draw creatures, film Super 8 movies, write lyrics, or sit at a piano and hit the record button on his boombox. Johnston—who died this week at his family’s home in Waller, Texas, at age 58—made a lot of tapes. Each self-recorded effort came stuffed with around 20 new songs, many of them lyrically dense gems that require multiple listens to parse through their abundance of absurdity and emotional weight.
Most of us watched the same thing on that day, united in front of millions of televisions in a way that the nation perhaps hadn’t been since the days of the Kennedy assassination.
Yet part of the reason we all watched the same thing on TV was that, technologically speaking, we were living in a comparative dark age 18 years ago. Apple’s stock was $1.24 on September 10, and according to WIRED, one of the hot new gadgets was the Casio WQV3D-8 wristwatch.