Links and Notes

Links and Notes – Week 2, 2021

Is Letterboxd Becoming a Blockbuster? New York Times. I’ve been an on-again off-again user of the movie reviewing social network Letterboxd ever since they launched. It’s a lovely little corner of the internet. And it’s been a good year for them:

In 2020, however, the site’s growth was explosive. Letterboxd has seen its user base nearly double since the beginning of the pandemic: They now have more than 3 million member accounts…

I’m astounded by that figure. Because the site still feels as boutique-y and small as the day I joined. I would of guessed they had 60,000 users or so. With most users having the premium Pro plan as the reason the site was still viable financially. But 3 million?! Blimey. And it’s a testament to the folks behind it that it’s as nice a place to visit as the day I joined.

Twitter Shares Fall 7% Following Permanent Trump Ban. Bloomberg. I find it mildly interesting that Twitter is one of the most well known and popular social media sites on earth. It is firmly embedded into the zeitgeist of our time. A single Tweet can ruin careers, alter elections or spark violence. But despite this it’s been a pretty bad investment. All its competitors share prices have gone from strength to strength over the past five years. But $TWTR has been stagnant.

Wikipedia is 20 years old! Wikimedia. It’s still the best thing about the internet.

Hyundai Buys Boston Dynamics for Nearly $1 Billion. IEEE Spectrum. Electronic cars have gone mainstream now. I wonder how long it will take for robotics to join them.

Intel is getting a new CEO. MarketWatch. VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger will be the new head of Intel. He worked at Intel for over 30 years before leaving a decade or so ago. Does he have what it takes to save the sinking Intel ship? Doubtful in my opinion. All that’s needed now is for AMD to aggressively go for the server market and then Intel will be dead.

A Few Thoughts On Writing. Morgan Housel. Morgan Housel’s “The Psychology of Money” was my favourite book of 2020. It’s one of the most beautifully simple books on money ever published. It’s been added to the list of books that I’d insist my child read before they turn 21. Please buy it.

Burger King has been rebranded. Creative Bloq. I like it. Very ’70’s. Very simple. Now they just need to work on every other aspect of the business (at least in the UK). I haven’t eaten at a Burger King for years now, so I’m a little behind the times here. But the things I liked about BK were their fries were crispy and their burgers had a nice strong smokey flavour and plenty of meat. The bad: I’ve never seen one with a drive through, the inside was always filthy (including the kitchens), it had so little foot-traffic that nothing was ever ready, the staff were for the most part not great and the chicken nuggets were hilariously bad. I noticed not long ago that Deliveroo was offering BK delivery in my area and I felt immediate feelings of disgust. Crappy BK food, totally crushed and entirely cold delivered to me with a £2.69 delivery charge. I could think of few things worse. Anyway, nice rebranding. It’s live on the UK site too.

The Dissident (2020). The new documentary by Bryan Fogel. You may have seen his previous film “Icarus” (2017) on Netflix. It was fantastic and won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. His latest project is about the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by his own government inside their consulate in Turkey. I’ve just finished watching it. And whilst it’s not quite as good as his previous film, which benefited massively from having a tremendous story essentially fall into his lap, this is still very much worth your time.

The editing does takes a little bit of getting used to, with the entire film almost feeling like a montage or trailer. But there’s no denying this a slickly made documentary that will likely keep your attention for its entire two hour runtime. If you liked Citizenfour, the documentry about Edward Snowden then you’ll like this too. It’s currently quite expensive at $20. But give it a while and it will probably appear on a streaming platform you’re a member of eventually. More info (be warned the movies website is a crappy, CPU intensive, Flash-looking mess).


The New York Times Gets It

I don’t read much news, but fairly often one of my RSS reads will link to an article from a newspaper. And this has become a little anoying in recent years as many newspapers now put their online content behind a paywall due to their dwindling physical paper circulation. Which I understand. But as someone who reads just a couple of articles a month from each publication it makes little finanical sense for me to take out an expensive, recurring subscription. The Guardian costs £13/mo (after a 14 day free trial). The Wall Street Journal costs £12/mo for the first twelve months and then an eye-watering £35/mo thereafter. And to sign up you have to fill out the usual endless amount of online forms and give them all manner of data.

Compare that to the New York Times.
– £3.40/mo for the first year.
– £6.80/mo thereafter.
– Buy with Apple Pay and unlock the desired article in seconds.
– Cancel at any time.

(The Washington Post also offers Apple Pay and costs £4.50/mo. A good value.)

Update: 18th September 2019
I forgot to consider ease-of-cancellation. After a few months of my subscription to the New York Times I just didn’t get enough value out of it, so decided to cancel. Well it turns out they want you to chat online to a member of staff to cancel! And every time I tried to apparently they were ‘offline’. But luckily I paid via PayPal so I just deleted the NYTimes as a ‘pre-approved’ payment and it cancelled itself. Something to be aware of, folks.


Through the Teeth for in the Flesh

I’ve become interested in football (soccer) recently. As a kid I was mildly interested, like most English children are. I inherited the sport. I also inherited my team, Chelsea FC. I remember going to a game or two with my Dad to see them play. Wether I requested to go or not I can’t recall. All I remember is being mostly scared. 40,000+ people around you is a nightmare for any introvert. It wasn’t too bad in the stadium. Everything’s organised and fairly controlled, despite the noise. It’s the ludicrous amount of people you encounter on your way. On the trains in particular.

Anyway, I went to a few games and slowly became less interested in football. Last year though I started playing Football Manager. It’s a simulation game that to most sounds as dull as Snow Plow Simulator. However, it has a massive audience and is amazingly addictive, even for someone like me who had been away from the football ‘scene’ for 5 years. I eventually wanted to see these data ‘players’ for real. (Well, on a TV screen) I wanted to put a face to a set of attributes and I slowly began watching TV football games more and more, consuming every game I could.

After a year of watching frequently on the TV I last week decided to go to a live game again. I decided to watch ‘my’ team. Chelsea. This is where the nightmare begins.

I go to > Tickets > Buy tickets online > Match tickets > Non-members. I see a game called “annual lunch”. Apparently it’s an away fixture. ‘Mmmm,’ I thought. ‘Never heard of that team.’ I click “buy tickets”. I’m presented with “£168”. ‘OK’ I thought. ‘I’ll try an unofficial site. It is a little odd I can’t buy tickets from the fucking Chelsea FC website though.’

I Googled around, but… nothing. Nothing as in ‘not one game’. No site was selling available tickets. I eventually found a website called viagogo. It appears to be a website where people, and presumably companies, sell-on tickets. I didn’t like the idea of that, it sounded dodgy. But, yeh, ‘I’m desperate.’ ‘Yes! Arsenal game! Arsenal game! Oh. £158 a ticket.’

I go back to I find my way to the membership page. It seems becoming a member for (at least) £42 you gets you more access to tickets. ‘Okay. Whatever. I don’t care anymore. I’ll do that I guess.’ I pay £48 for a two year membership for “tickets only” on their SSL-less shitty website and after a couple of days my membership finally becomes active. I log in with the password they sent me over e-mail. [They required a password when I signed up. Quite why I don’t know, since they reset it and send you their own chosen one anyway.] ‘Okay. There are more games available.’ It seems the only home game that isn’t already sold out is over a month away. ‘That’s a long time, but okay.’ I spend quite a while evaluating the seating plan attempting to get the the right seat. I call my Dad to make sure he’s off work that day. He is but complains, like me, about the price: £51 a ticket. (That’s over 50p a minute). I go to buy. ‘Mmm. So it seems I can only choose the stand where I want to sit, not even the section, or let alone seat. ‘Huff Whatever.’ I go to payment.

“You can only buy one ticket per member.” ‘One fucking ticket?!’ … … …

Seriously?! I completely understand a limit. They don’t want one member buying 30 tickets or anything silly like that. I also understand that Chelsea has a small-ish stadium for the size of a club it is. But they limit it at 1?! Say you’ve got an American friend to visit and he wants to see a Chelsea game. He has to become a fucking member to buy one single ticket just once?!

Maybe I am just over-reacting. However, I’m cutting my loses now and just getting away from this whole dirty rotten business. I don’t feel wanted and neither does my money.

Note: This seems a common problem, not just with Chelsea. I’ve attempted to buy many tickets this past week. I tried Bayern Munich and Ajax. I thought I’d turn it into a little holiday as my birthday just passed. But, Bayerns ticket site isn’t in English and Google translate is no good. With Ajax I can’t remember the specifics. The only thing I do remember from their buggy website is that I had to buy an overpriced buffet if I wanted a ticket.

I’ll probably eventually go see my local team, Watford FC, play. Despite being such a small team they had the best ticketing system. They were the only team where you could pick your actual seat. However, at the moment “there has been an unexpected error” on their site. Also, it’s powered by the bastardly Ticketmaster. Not good signs.

One day, some day, I’ll manage to buy a ticket.

October 22, 2011:
Look! An actual ticket for an actual football match!
Watford FC ticket