"The temptation to pose as an impartial reviewer of one’s own work will be familiar to many authors across history, writes Simon Parkin. "But the Internet has, as with all vices, smoothed the transition from temptation to action."
Such self-fluffing is at least supposed to be secret. But the review systems are so crude and easily-gamed that it enables nakedly public manipulation. When The Gamers want to waltz around Amazon's useless "verified purchase" wall to punish a developer for offending them, it's easy...
“People would buy our game, not play it, leave the terrible review, and instantly request a refund,” Sean Vanaman, Campo Santo’s co-founder, told me. “It’s a well-worn tactic.” In his estimation, user-review systems such as those used by Valve, Steam’s developer, are so vulnerable to exploitation that they require as much moderation as social-media platforms.
Worse, without fake positive reviews, your thing -- your book, your restaurant, your startup -- is at a disadvantage in the apps and platforms that potential customers use to scan for new stuff. Once the medium is corrupt, everyone has to follow suit to survive. Get a load of this wonderful nonsense at TripAdvisor:
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For the recent test, he created his own fake business, which he called the Shed at Dulwich. (It was named for his garden shed, in Dulwich, London.) He photographed plates of carefully arranged food (created using household products such as shaving cream and dishwasher tablets), bought a burner phone, and added the Shed to the site. Within four weeks, he had posted enough fake reviews to move the spectral establishment into the top two thousand restaurants in London.
Glitch is a simple and powerful open-source canvas for experimenting on the web—and after a year of beta testing, it's ready for artists and coders to get stuck in. If you want to make things online but get put off by complicated frameworks, the headache of server set up, and myriad incompatible platforms your work has to end up running on, Glitch might be for you.
I tinkered with it for the first time last week, and within minutes had overcome hurdles that I thought I'd never have the time or energy to figure out.
To a casual visitor, Glitch looks like YouTube, but for digital artwork and rudimentary games. You can even embed stuff there on your own site, just like video, though you have to click into the editing tools to get the snippets.
Dig in, though, and it turns into a simple but powerful coding environment: one that can't be messed up, no matter how hard you try. For me, it seems to offer all the freewheeling instant gratification of the early web, but with modern tools and technology -- and the chance to collaborate with other people without having to teach them Git. The promise of just focusing on art or application code seems almost alien to the modern web, but here it is, all without having to be my own sysadmin, security expert and full-stack drudge.
Best of all, you can take anything anyone's done, clone it, and tinker with it, and see the results change live: the best and fastest way to learn markup and scripting languages. Read the rest
Who needs mp4 and the mystery meat data within? Kornel Lesiński's lossygif compresses GIF images, including animations, at the cost of noise. Though GIF does not offer true lossy compression, superimposing long horizontal lines of identical pixels gets the job done before encoding. Photoshop already does this, but this is better at it and it's free.
See also Gifski, the author's high-definition GIF movie encoder. It does the exact opposite thing, manipulating the GIF format into showing thousands of colors per frame at the cost of massive file sizes. Read the rest
Kelsey Hightower's Nocode [github] fixes all the problems associated with modern web app development: "Write nothing; deploy nowhere."
Now that you have not done anything it's time to build your application:
Yep. That's it. You should see the following output:
What do computer programmers not want to code in? Read the rest
In the New York Times, Jason Schreier reports on the game industry's cult of crunch: the pervasive practice of making workers put in 20-hour days, resulting in one met deadline and a many lines of low-quality code.
“People think that making games is easy,” said Marcin Iwinski, a co-chief executive and co-founder of CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer of a 2015 game, The Witcher 3. “It’s hard-core work. It can destroy your life.” Mr. Iwinski, like many other top video game creators, sees crunch as a necessary evil ... A growing faction of game developers, however, argues that it’s possible to make good games without crunching. Tanya X. Short, a co-founder of the independent studio Kitfox Games, asked colleagues to sign an online pledge against excessive overtime. The pledge, which was published last year, has been signed by over 500 game developers. “Crunch trades short-term gains for long-term suffering,” said Ms. Short in an email.
Hey, ever met a geeky computer programmer with a bottomless need to prove his own competence and a political ideology perfectly tailored to capital's needs? Read the rest
The code for Sheet fits in one of those newfangled 280-character tweets with room to spare: at 218 bytes, it's the most amazingly compact spreadsheet app committed to screen.
A 218b spreadsheet app in HTML/JS
Back to the Future Java is a Java Virtual Machine planed down until it fits on 8-bit computers (i.e. the Commodore 64). It's based on a port of Java made for Lego Mindstorms, lacks a few key features of the language (such as garbage collection), but is quite an astounding feat. Previously: Java on a Sega Genesis; Java on Apple II. Read the rest
Graphical demos created with severe code-length limitations sometimes betray the techniques used to fit a world into a few kilobytes: tessellating textures, featureless fractals, repetitive sequences, and so on. Final Stage, by 0x4015, is not one of those demos. [via]
Eidolon, by Poo-brain, won in the 64k category:
We've all seen the uncanny, not-quite-there art produced by new AIs. Why Matt Reynolds reports on an area computers might be expected to excel at creatively: programming themselves. And this one's doing it the same way humans do, by stealing and remixing.
DeepCoder uses a technique called program synthesis: creating new programs by piecing together lines of code taken from existing software – just like a programmer might. Given a list of inputs and outputs for each code fragment, DeepCoder learned which pieces of code were needed to achieve the desired result overall.
“It could allow non-coders to simply describe an idea for a program and let the system build it”
One advantage of letting an AI loose in this way is that it can search more thoroughly and widely than a human coder, so could piece together source code in a way humans may not have thought of. What’s more, DeepCoder uses machine learning to scour databases of source code and sort the fragments according to its view of their probable usefulness.
DeepCoder, make me a point-and-click adventure game featuring Rosicrucians, billionaire perverts and the complete dissolving of all culture by internet-mediated telepathy. Read the rest