Tom MacWright


I’ve been listening to Hello Shark’s Break Arms a bit, after seeing a clip of their show in DC. It’s maybe a little too melodic, and solidly in the ‘man feelings’ genre, but has very nice moments.

Also Blonde Redhead’s Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, after hearing the Coda on Rick & Morty. I had listened to the rest of their albums, and especially love Missile ++, in a pattern emerging: drum hook intros always win me over.

Adam Neely’s American rhythms are superior and his take on Clapping Music got me: there’s an app focused on learning the rhythm, and I am accepting the challenge. It’s very difficult, but such an attractive idea that I want to visualize Clapping Music soon.

I went to see David Grinspoon talk at The Long Now Foundation about the end of the world. It was excellent, and I’ll be returning to Long Now talks. The interview at the end of his talk - in which he and Stuart Brand humblebragged about knowing Lynn Margulis and Carl Sagan - was hilarious.

Screenshot of Whittaker Studio's Joshua Tree concept

Whitaker Studio blew my mind: an architect who renders 3D concepts well enough that plenty of people are fooled. The concepts are amazing and the renders are spectacular. It’s fascinating to see when they look fake and when they look real: that inside features look rendered, grass blowing in the wind looks artificial, but the drive-by fooled me.

In open source news, Caddy went dual-license - which, in my opinion, is excellent. I hope more projects follow in its path and explore alternatives. And another alternative arose: License Zero, a “simple, low-friction way to support maintainers of open code you use and rely on, when you can’t give back in kind”, primarily by Kyle Mitchell.

Animation of the opening slide of a show about Plants

Simple Statistics got a significant release - it now features an ES6 entry point, so if you use Rollup or another tool with support, it’ll be more efficient.

The place where I work - Observable - has a name, Observable. I’ve been working on it, building the product and internalizing the principles we want to promote. Also, we hired Jeremy, who you might know.

Animation of roots forming from a stump

I’ve been making some technology changes, with the new job and environment: I’ve switched back to Things from Todoist. I like the Things recurring task system better, and well, it looks better: it feels more ‘at home’ on my desktop. That said, I’m sure I’ll keep shuffling TODO lists around until my last breath. I started using Transmit again for stuff like offloading the gigantic source files for my animation work, and using Backblaze B2 service for that. I’ve used Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive, and, of course, S3. Amazon Drive has the look-and-feel of an afterthought product - its login page is disorganized and amateurish, the OSX app is almost a direct copy of Dropbox, down to the tiniest detail. S3 is, of course, essential for nearly any startup - Mapbox wouldn’t exist without it - but, like other Amazon AWS services, I don’t think it scales down. The permissions model, powerful for teams and applications, becomes an annoyance for individuals. Backblaze ‘just works’ with Transmit, and it’s cheap-but-not-free. I wouldn’t use it if it was free, and I made a mistake counting on Amazon Cloud Drive’s unlimited plan: anything that bills itself as unlimited is a trap.

Animation of a tree growing

October 01, 2017 @tmcw