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A Hour of Thrones

(First published on 7/17/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter)

Last night’s Game of Thrones season 7 premiere was easily the shortest hour of television I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it’s because we watched the last two episodes of season 6 (the last of which clocked in at 68 minutes), but I can’t recall time passing that quickly in a relatively long show before. Maybe it’s just knowing that we’re in the home stretch — only 12 episodes in total left now after last night. So I’m glad they’ll be getting longer.

It’s also crazy to me just how mainstream the show has become. It’s not only overly sexualized and insanely violent, it’s hilariously dense and obtuse. Even I can’t remember everything I should probably remember (which, I suppose, lends to its re-watchability). Just think about what the conversations must have been like to get such a show greenlit. Especially in this particular genre, which hasn’t traditionally translated well in Hollywood.

Of course, it’s undoubtedly a mixture of those things that has led to it being such a phenomenon. The audience graph for the show over time is fascinating. It has been a steady build — and episodes now have roughly 4x the audience as compared to when it started.

Also, in our post-Netflix world, it is one of the few shows beyond sports in which live viewing, at a weekly cadence, is a near-requirement. Not only because people want to watch it in real time, but because people want to be able to talk about it in real time, both on the internet and the following day at work. Also, if you don’t watch it in real time, good luck avoiding spoilers — it’s almost impossible in this day and age.

5ish Links

13dna1 facebookjumbo
13dna1 facebookjumbo

Gina Kolata:

The geneticists ended up with a sequence of DNA molecules that represented the entirety of the film. Then they used a powerful new gene editing technique, Crispr, to slip this sequence into the genome of a common gut bacteria, E. coli.

Despite the modification, the bacteria thrived and multiplied. The film stored in the genome was preserved intact with each new generation of progeny, the team found.

Wild. Also:

And data storage is a growing problem. Not only are significant amounts being generated, but the technology used to store it keeps becoming obsolete, like floppy disks.

DNA is never going out of fashion. “Organisms have been storing information in DNA for billions of years, and it is still readable,” Dr. Adleman said. He noted that modern bacteria can read genes recovered from insects trapped in amber for millions of years.

The oldest “technology” may prove to best the best when it comes to future-proofing. Also, great GIF usage by the NYT.

Jeff bezos steve boom bb4 amazon ana9xm 2017 a billboard 1500
Jeff bezos steve boom bb4 amazon ana9xm 2017 a billboard 1500

Like most people, I recalled this article from February simply for the last line zinger from Bezos when Stephen Witt asked about Trump:

Well, I’m, you know… (Looks down and is quiet for a moment.) I feel that this interview is about music.

But actually, there’s something far more interesting buried in here:

This is about more than just music, isn’t it? If you succeed, you’ll have placed an Amazon cash register in every house in the country.

It’s not about that. For sure, if you have a 2-year-old and you see that you’re running low on diapers, we want to make that easy for you. But voice interface is only going to take you so far on shopping. It’s good for reordering consumables, where you don’t have to make a lot of choices, but most online shopping is going to be facilitated by having a display. Alexa is primarily about identifying tasks in the household that would be improved by voice. Music is one. Another is home automation. So, you can say, “Alexa, turn off all the lights in the house.” “Alexa, turn the temperature up two degrees.” That’s really an amazing thing to be able to do.

Everyone just states very matter-of-factly that the Echo exists to be just another conduit to shopping. But Bezos, if we take him at his word, doesn’t see it that way. His view sounds much more in line with an “operating system for the home” — shopping is a part of that, but a relatively small one in terms of usage. Seems silly not to listen to Bezos here.

Of course, Amazon did just launch an Echo with a screen (thoughts on that soon — I have many having used it for a few weeks).

Atari ceo
Atari ceo

Dean Takahashi sat down with Atari CEO Fred Chesnais:

Last week, Atari began teasing a new product called the Ataribox. The video released on a non-Atari web site showed a picture of some kind of hardware product, but many people wondered if the teaser was fake. Others had no idea what the video was showing about a “brand new Atari product years in the making.”

After all, nobody makes a game console with wood-grain siding. But at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Chesnais told me that the rumors are true.

“We’re back in the hardware business,” he said.

While Nintendo is reluctantly embracing retro-gaming (stupidly, in my opinion), Atari is going for it.


Chris Baraniuk:

Vertu phones carry hefty price tags — its Signature range starts at £11,100, and one model featuring 18-carat red gold costs £39,100.

When contacted by the BBC, an external spokesman for the firm said, “Well it’s gone into liquidation and I’m not being paid by them any more.”

This product and brand was always ridiculous. Many people forget it was actually created by Nokiayes, Nokia — all the way back in 1998.

Of course, it was the iPhone, roughly a decade later, that took the idea of a “premium” phone mainstream. Mainly because they focused on making it the most useful piece of technology ever invented versus simply being a tacky, gaudy piece of garbage. Good riddance.

John Gruber reacting to Tom Warren’s piece about the iPad (with iOS 11) still not being able to replace your laptop:

Imagine a review of the Mac SE/30 in 1989 that instead of focusing on all the things that were great about it — both the things that were great about the Mac ever since 1984 and especially the tremendous improvement in performance and user-interface snappiness that the SE/30 brought to the board — focused instead on the things that were still faster or better on DOS, like games or being able to write batch files. That’s what these “iPad Pro Still Can’t Replace Your Laptop” reviews feel like to me.

Very much agree. For as many articles there are about using the iPad as your primary computer — and I’ve written a number of them — others seems to take just as much joy in writing articles about how the iPad (or tablets in general) will never replace your computer.

Which side would you take in that argument?

Think about that, then watch a child use an iPad. Or watch my mother use her iPad. Laptops are too bulky, confusing, and cumbersome for a large swath of people — basically everyone that didn’t grow up with them (which includes both children and my mother). The real argument is phones versus tablets. And I still suspect the ultimate answer will be “both”.

GIF Break

Image for post
Image for post
Above-mentioned GIF in the NYT…

Quickish Hits

Pretty good perspective for our current times of travel.

Yeah, just wait. This is all going to get a lot worse.

Stop trying to make ‘Stories’ happen (in all these apps where it clearly shouldn’t).

I probably disagree with half of this list. Still funny though.

There are more species of frogs than there are of mammals. I had no idea.

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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