Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer

Walt Mossberg’s final column.

This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere. I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at the Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.

Now, as I prepare to retire at the end of that very long and world-changing stretch, it seems appropriate to ponder the sweep of consumer technology in that period, and what we can expect next.

05.27.2017Tagged with:    

How the Beatles Wrote ‘A Day in the Life’

After John’s reprise, the orchestra returns for an even greater swelling of sound. It was like something blowing up, a tremendous wreck, the explosion of a gun inside a car. And then, after all the chaos and destruction, what next? George Harrison had suggested a fade to humming. But it didn’t work. Paul thought that the song needed firmer resolution. Three Steinway pianos and a harmonium were rolled into action, and at every keyboard the players were instructed to hit the single chord of E major simultaneously and hard, with the sustain foot pedal down, letting it carry as long as possible. There were nine takes. The tone is so big, so capacious and resonant because Martin and Emerick thought to put the recorder on half speed. It’s the sound of peace.

A look back at the creation of the final song on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

05.22.2017Tagged with:    

Arrested Development, Season 5

Netflix is bringing Arrested Development back for a fifth season in 2018. The entire cast is returning, and it sounds like the scheduling problems that hampered season four won’t be an issue this time.

05.18.2017Tagged with:    

Horseshoe Pond

Horseshoe Pond, May 2017

05.09.2017Tagged with:    

Blade Runner 2049 Trailer

Here’s hoping it’s as good as it looks (and it looks gorgeous).

05.08.2017Tagged with:    

The Last Jedi Teaser

04.15.2017Tagged with:    

MST3K Season 11 Trailer

So very excited for the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

04.04.2017Tagged with:    

Casting Oscar

Short article on the making of the statuettes handed out at the Academy Awards.

02.26.2017Tagged with:    

Where Oscar Best Picture Nominees Are Liked Most

Interesting look at which area of the US each oscar nominee was most popular. Since studios don’t release that kind of information, Facebook “likes” were used to generate the maps.

We wanted to find out for a few reasons. There has been an increasing disconnect between films that are hits and films that Hollywood honors. The last three best picture winners (“Spotlight,” “Birdman,” “12 Years a Slave”) went unseen by most Americans, at least during their theatrical runs.

With the country so politically divided, we also wanted to know whether audience support for nominees fell along similar urban-rural or coastal-heartland fissures.

02.26.2017Tagged with:    

Y-O-D-A, Yoda

Weird Al had Lin-Manuel Miranda join him on stage to sing “Yoda.”

02.19.2017Tagged with:    

Castle Rock

Teaser for Castle Rock, a new Hulu series from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams. Castle Rock is the fictional Maine town where King set The Dead Zone, Cujo, and “The Body,” among others.

02.19.2017Tagged with:    

The Case for Sugar

Many books and studies are asserting that sugar causes or contributes to multiple fatal illnesses, costing billions of dollars in health care each year. I dispute none of this. But I would like to add that sugar tastes really, really good.

02.04.2017Tagged with:    

The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The official title of the next Star Wars film was announced today. Episode VIII will be called Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and will arrive in theaters on December 15, 2017.

01.24.2017Tagged with:    

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, January 2017

01.22.2017Tagged with:    

Steven Soderbergh: Seen, Read 2016

All the movies, TV shows, books, and plays Steven Soderbergh saw and read in 2016.

I love this. I’ve been logging books and movies for most of this century, and it’s fun and humbling to look back at the list from time to time. I’ll need to live a very long time to get through all of the stuff I’d like to. Plus, it answers the occasional question, like “Did I read that?,” or “When was the last time I read/saw that?”

01.08.2017Tagged with:    

Plateau Trail, CVNP

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Plateau Trail

01.07.2017Tagged with:    

The Data Formats of Star Wars Suck

I liked Rogue One quite a bit. Still, there’s some silly stuff at the end. Spoilers ahead.

A key plot point in Rogue One is that the file size is so large that they need to commandeer a giant antenna and knock out a planetary shield in order to upload the files. But for some reason they can send regular communications just fine without doing either of those things?

What on earth is being stored on that magnetic tape cassette? Is it 5000 .bmp images loaded into slides in Powerpoint with accompanying animations? Why is DEATH_STAR_final_final__FINAL.dwg.doc.gif.pdf so big?

01.06.2017Tagged with:    

Pixar’s Finding Dory Trailer

11.13.2015Tagged with:    

New Episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000

MST3K creator Joel Hodgson has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring the show back for another season, as many as twelve episodes. His goal? $5.5 million.

Hodgson said the original cast will be invited back to write, produce, and cameo in the series, but that the idea is to introduce new cast members and new voices for the reboot. “Basically, I’m trying to blend the old with the new,” he said. “Mystery Science Theater has already refreshed itself once with a completely new cast, so I think it deserves to do that again.” After Hodgson left in 1993, Michael J. Nelson took over as the human captive, while everyone from the mad scientists to the voices and controllers of the iconic puppets Servo and Crow all saw various levels of turnover.

And while they will do new episodes if they raise as little as $2 million, and hope to be able to do a full season of 12, the ultimate goal is to get the ball rolling again and continue on with even more seasons after this first new one.

And why do this now, 15 years after getting cancelled?

Even though we’ve always wanted to bring MST3K back, it wasn’t that easy. Thanks to the Last Will and Testament of one eccentric old heiress, the rights were tied up for years. It took time to work those issues out, but with the help of my friends at Shout Factory, a special chokehold I perfected in WuDang that I like to call “The Persuader,” and a night I had to spend in a haunted house as a term of the the old lady’s will, we succeeded.

This summer, we finally got all of the rights cleared up… and now, like Orpheus, we can now descend into hell to hang out with a couple of wisecracking robots.

11.11.2015Tagged with:    

Sylvan Pond

Sylvan Pond at dusk

11.10.2015Tagged with:    
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