Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Date: March 2012

5.4: Pitchfork, 1995-present

A comprehensive critical history of the music review site. Give yourself a good half hour or so to digest the whole thing, it's worth it. #link


One Town's War on Gay Teens

Here's my alternative standfirst: Why wretched people like Michelle Bachman and her supporters are dangerous and evil and must be stopped. #link


Weeknotes #533-550

The first quarter of the year’s almost done and there’s so much I haven’t written here. I’m well overdue a catch-up, I know. This one may be brief, but it’s better than nothing.

The highlights: Hitting the four stone mark in my weight loss efforts (I’ve dropped more than 57 lbs so far) / Getting stuck into Netflix for lots of TV shows (and the odd movie) I missed before / Trying to cook a proper meal for Bee once a week (I’m a bit behind on this, if I’m honest) / Getting my writing chops back / Meeting the hardcore legend Mick Foley, if only for a few seconds (he appreciated my Cornette Face shirt):

More…


Happiness takes (a little) magic

An essay on cutting back one's digital lifestyle to enjoy the finer things. I'm not sure I'd save three hours a day like Brian Lam does, but I see his point. #link


The Human Lake

"Instead of being lashed to a lab bench for years, carrying out experiments to illuminate one particular fold in one particular protein, we [science writers] get to play the field. We travel between different departments, different universities, different countries, and—most important of all—different disciplines. And sometimes we see links between different kinds of science that scientists themselves have missed. Which is why... I presented my audience with this photograph of a lake. For the next hour, I tried to convince them that their bodies are a lot like that lake, and that appreciating this fact could help them find new ways to treat diseases ranging from obesity to heart disease to infections of antibiotic-resistant bacteria." Carl Zimmer's talk on the importance of the human body's microbial system. A long read, but fascinating stuff [c/o Kottke]. #link


Would the last postmodernist please turn out the lights?

"In the end, consumer and celebrity culture defeated postmodernism by embracing it. When everything is ironic, nothing is ironic. If the movement was born on March 15th, 1972, it surely died on November 11th, 2011, when our very own Nama sold Andy Warhol’s silkscreen painting Dollar Sign in New York, having taken it from the property developer Derek Quinlan in lieu of unpaid debts. The Dollar Sign paintings were classic postmodern statements of the irony of a consumer aesthetic in which what we see in a work of art is the money it’s worth. Where’s the room for irony when the possession of such an image is embraced by one of the Celtic Tiger’s poster boys as a sign of his arrival?" Fintan O'Toole passing judgement. #link


30 Days Of Netflix

A curated selection of the best things available for us users in the UK and Ireland. It's definitely better for TV series so far, but this is a good start. #link


Learning Processing

Beginner, intermediate and advanced tutorials for the digital art programming language. Filing this for when I get around to catching up with Code Year. #link


Designing Google Maps

On Google's design iteration process. Great for maps, especially when they add usefulness like public alerts; not so good for the Google UX, which seems to change on a whim every few weeks. #link


Jonathan Zittrain: The personal computer is dead

More to the point, the 'personal' in personal computer is dying as closed-shop devices and environments become so streamlined as to take the user and their unique requirements out of the equation. I hadn't been much worried about it before as I always thought there was a place for both: the tinkerer that wants control over every aspect of their set up, and the average joe who just wants something that works. But now I'm not so sure... #link


Tetsuo Kondo’s suspended ramp, Tallinn

Says its creator: "In the elegant woods of Kadriorg, we added a path. The path is supported by the trees as it floats through a forest that is over 300 years old. I feel that the appearance of the woods changes slightly when you walk along this path. We are no longer looking up at the trees from the ground but we come closer to the leaves and glide through the branches." When do we get one? #link


The Restart Page

Geek alert: you could easily lose an hour with these simulated start-up routines for various OSes. A lovely little piece of computing history. #link


My Guantánamo Nightmare

The shocking story of one man's abuse at the hands of a system (and a society) determined that 'someone' should pay for evil deeds done, whether they're guilty or not. Utterly shameful. #link


Stealth Mountain's favourites

Stealth Mountain is a Twitter bot that alerts other users who type 'sneak peak' when they meant 'sneak peek'. The vitriol it gets in response has to be seen to be believed. #link


Raiders of the Lost Archives

A shot-by-shot comparison of Raiders of the Lost Ark with scenes from 30 different adventure films made between 1919-1973 [c/o MetaFilter]. Spielberg the student of cinema paying tribute to his favourites, perhaps? #link


Stop trying to save bad work

Mike Monteiro (he of the magnificent beard and the NSFW Twitter page) contributed this list of 10 New Year’s resolutions for designers to .net magazine. But many of them can apply to other creative endeavours, especially the third:

The most common question I get from designers after pointing out what is wrong with their work is, “Can I save this?”

You are not Jesus and comps aren’t for saving. If something isn’t working, start over. Otherwise the goal you’re working towards is saving your work, not solving the problem.

Also, comps do not have feelings. You are not abandoning them. (You have no idea how much therapy that sentence took. Seriously.)

This urge comes from not wanting to feel like the time they’ve spent on that comp is wasted. The only possible way you can waste time is by being dishonest with yourself about its value. If you just spent an hour on a comp thinking it was working, then that was time spent honestly trying to solve a problem. The minute you realise the comp isn’t working and you start trying to “save it”, you’re no longer working towards good design. You’re working towards ego salvage. You gonna bill for that? That’s what I mean by dishonest time.

Substitute ‘drafts’ for ‘comps’ and X for ‘design’ and you’ve got a spot-on pep-talk for people in any creative discipline (especially writers).


The Damning Backstory Behind “Homeless Hotspots” at SXSWi

"This is my worry: the homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn’t care anything at all about them or their future, so long as it can score a point or two about digital disruption of old media paradigms. So long as it can prove that the real problem with homelessness is that it doesn’t provide a service." When I saw the first headlines about Homeless Hotspots, I would have bet money it was an Onion satire. But it's very real, and very disappointing. #link


Once Upon a Tram (1958)

A nice little short film at the Europa Film Treasures archive capturing one of the last runs of the Hill of Howth tram. My grandmother on my mam's side was on the last ever tram, if I'm not mistaken. #link