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What Game Is Nintendo Playing?

(First published on 6/26/17 on 5ish Links, my newsletter)

I rag on Nintendo a lot. It’s because I love Nintendo and I don’t want them to go away. And I certainly don’t want them to go away by making bad decisions that are entirely avoidable. I criticize because I care. And that will continue.

That said — and, jokes aside — I am extremely excited about the Super Nintendo (SNES) Classic that Nintendo announced this morning. Coming in late September, for $80. I absolutely will buy one — or will reload Amazon until my death, trying.

The selection of games included with the device looks perfect. And that includes a never-before-released StarFox sequel — which I think is the most brilliant move of all. I really wish Nintendo (and others) would focus more on doing stuff like this: fully embrace retro-gaming by not only re-releasing old classics, but also restoring them, and releasing never-before-seen content, just like Hollywood has used to great effect over the years.

I’d also love to see entirely new games (alongside new sequels) created in the style of these older games. Video games today are great — some are amazing works of art. But many are also far too complicated, certainly for someone just looking to sit down and casually play something. Smartphone games have filled this gap (though there are obviously complicated smartphone games as well). But I don’t see why this older style can’t be embraced simply because the technology has improved…

Anyway, kudos to Nintendo for pushing forward with SNES Classic after bungling NES Classic. They’re saying they’ll have substantially more inventory available this time around, but are still putting a time-table on the release. I think I’m okay with this if they can meet demand within that timeline — something they could not do with the NES Classic. (And presuming the retro titles are still coming to the Switch next year.)

These limited release bundles aren’t the worst idea in the world if you can skirt the line between excitement and disappointment. The NES Classic landed firmly on the latter. Can Nintendo land the former with the SNES variety? We shall see.

iPad Pro 10.5"

Given that Apple just pushed the iOS 11 public beta, I feel like that’s all anyone is going to talk about in the coming weeks, so figured I’d (belatedly) share some of the things I took away from the new iPad Pro reviews (before I share my own thoughts as well).

Dieter Bohn:

If Apple had done nothing to the iPad screen in the past year, I don’t think anybody would have complained. Will you actually notice all this stuff? Yes, but honestly only if you’re looking for it. More likely is that your experience will be like mine for the past week. Using the iPad Pro 10.5 just feels subtly, almost invisibly better. Is it really necessary? Probably not, but Apple decided it could make the screen incredible and so it did. The iPad Pro is very much a spare-no-expense device.

Matthew Panzarino:

There is also a massive bonus when it comes to the Pencil. Because it’s sampling 120 times per second, it’s able to make the Pencil appear even smoother, with the tip following the draw point precisely. Apple says that the latency (delay) of the pencil is down to 20 milliseconds, but with the higher refresh and some additional behind-the-scenes predictive magic, it can actually get down as low as a perceived 8ms, which is insane. The Pencil quite simply offers as close to a paper experience as you’ll see on any commercial tablet anywhere.

John Gruber:

The astounding thing is that the new iPad Pro holds its own against the MacBook Pro in single-core performance — around 3,900 on the Geekbench 4 benchmark for the iPad Pro vs. around 4,200–4,400 for the various configurations of 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros. Multi-core performance has effectively doubled from the first generation of iPad Pro. That sort of year-over-year increase just doesn’t happen anymore, but here we are. The new iPad Pro gets a multi-core Geekbench 4 score of around 9200; the brand-new Core M3-based MacBook gets a multi-core score of around 6800.

5ish Links

21xp daylewis lincoln facebookjumbo
21xp daylewis lincoln facebookjumbo

In my mind, there is no debate. Daniel Day-Lewis is the best actor alive. And maybe ever. (We can argue Meryl Streep, of course. But pound-for-pound, Day-Lewis doesn’t have a huge body of work, but all of his performances, even in sub-par films, are transcendent.) The Academy, which, of course, doesn’t always (or maybe even often) get it right, agrees:

Mr. Day-Lewis, 60, the only performer to win three Academy Awards in the best actor category (“My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Lincoln”), has taken sabbaticals before but has never announced a full retirement until now. He has finished filming “Phantom Thread,” written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, which is set for release at the end of the year.

Anderson, of course, also directed Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. Cannot wait.

After starring as the lead role in 1997’s “The Boxer,” Mr. Day-Lewis disappeared from the screen. It wasn’t until five years later when the reclusive actor was coaxed by Martin Scorsese to star in “Gangs of New York” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. During that time, he reportedly took up shoemaking in Italy. In 2002, he told The Guardian: “I didn’t really want to be involved with films. I just wanted some time away from it all. I need that quite often.”

Yep, he was a cobbler. Not for a role, for fun. What a fascinating person. I re-watched Lincoln the other night after reading about this. The movie is good, but it has its pacing issues. But Daniel Day-Lewis is fucking amazing in it. He is Abraham Lincoln.

This is Michael Jordan retiring in his prime.

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V 8a0a9690.0

Casey Newton:

First, let’s describe it. The speaker of our dreams delivers high-quality audio, links with other smart speakers, plays music from all the major streaming services, can be controlled by voice, and is relatively affordable. You can get any three of those five in a smart speaker on the market today, but you’ll never be more than 60 percent satisfied.

I agree, but unfortunately, this is the path forward here. We’re never going to get a “smart speaker” that does it all. There are just too many players with stakes, and the stakes are too high already.

Maybe we’ll get a little closer if/when someone buys Sonos?

23db coin1 facebookjumbo
23db coin1 facebookjumbo

Nathaniel Popper spoke to some folks deep into ICOs, the latest craze in startup land:

Since the beginning of the year, 65 projects have raised $522 million in these offerings, according to Smith & Crown, a research firm focused on the new industry.

It is a frothy, sprawling and completely unregulated way of funding start-ups, leaving even veteran technology watchers scratching their heads.

“It’s kind of like when you are a little kid and you know you are getting away with something,” said Chris Burniske, an industry analyst at ARK Invest. “It’s not going to last forever, but it’s fun in the interim. The space is giddy right now.”

What could go wrong? I suspect we’re sadly going to find out. The hard way.

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20170617 amp001 0

The Economist:

Lithium is a coveted commodity. Lithium-ion batteries store energy that powers mobile phones, electric cars and electricity grids (when attached to wind turbines and photovoltaic cells). Joe Lowry, an expert on the lightest metal, expects demand to nearly triple by 2025. Supply is lagging, which has pushed up the price. Annual contract prices for lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide doubled in 2017, according to Industrial Minerals, a journal. That is attracting investors to the “lithium triangle” that overlays Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. The region holds 54% of the world’s “lithium resources”, an initial indication of potential supply before assessing proven reserves.

We’ve talked before about solar being the new oil, but what if it’s lithium…


Noah Davis:

Starting in the 2017–2018 season, NBA teams can sell a 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch patch on the left shoulder of the uniform. So far, five teams — the Philadelphia 76ers, the Sacramento Kings, the New Jersey Nets, and the Utah Jazz in addition to the Celtics — have done so, with Boston pulling in a reported $7 million annually from their sponsor General Electric. Overall, the program could be worth more than $100 million per year for the league’s teams, a not insignificant amount of money even considering the $8 billion in revenue the NBA earned in 2016.

I both can’t believe this is happening — and can’t believe it took this long. And look, I’m 1,000 percent in favor of this if it means less television interruptions/ads — like soccer! But it won’t, of course. (via SportsREDEF)

Giphy Break

Image for post
Image for post
Drink it up, Daniel Day.

Quickish Hits

Writing is, in fact, important work. Writing is how we know about the psyche and worldview of the Ancients, how we’ve passed down knowledge and ideas for centuries, how we calmly and eloquently describe what can’t easily be described aloud.

Wild. I suggest black — for death.

Watch the video, it is incredible.

500ish Words


“I finally cracked it.” — six years later…

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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