The Usual Suspects

And like that... he's gone.

Hi again, I’m Steve Makofsky and this is a semi-whenever list of interesting articles, podcasts and videos that I come across during the week. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it, have something new to think about, and share it with your friends. In case you forgot, this is in your inbox because you asked me to send it to you. You can unsubscribe by clicking the link at the bottom of this email.

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While this week has been the longest Tuesday ever, I revisited one of my favorite movies, The Usual Suspects. While it’s ending may be one of the best in film history (and yes this contains spoilers), it certainly has been marred later by the allegations of Kevin Spacey’s misconduct. For this post, I’m going to key in more on the film itself and it’s big reveal.

The concept of an unreliable narrator is a classic writing/film technique in which the storyteller ‘withholds information, lies to, or misleads the reader, casting doubt on the narrative’. The thing that stood out for me when re-watching it this week was the presence of unreliable narrators in our every day lives. The parallels of social media we all face in 2020; our own micro and macro ‘unreliable narrators’; pummeling our news feeds with misinformation and manipulation of and the algorithms to turn people against each other.

It’s somewhat horrifying how those little devices in our pockets have become our source of many truths we choose to believe in.

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My watch of the week - Bud Haggert was the top voice-over talent on technical films in the late 70's, and 'wrote this script because he rarely understood the technical copy he was asked to read and felt he shouldn't be alone'. Watch and enjoy his tele-prompter free explanation of "The Turbo Encabulator" - Watch

Tired of the same old Zoom meetings that end up discussing one or two topics and leaving all the important things until the end or not even discussed? Here's how to run a 'Lean Coffee' style of discussion - More

A look inside the MLB's efforts to create artificial crowd noise, which involves 30 iPads and the sounds from a PlayStation game - More

My inbox is empty. I wrote a few weeks back about the process for quickly processing email so that your Inbox doesn't become your to-do list. The Washington Post this week had a similar thought on 'why you shouldn't organize your email' - More

When I think back to my childhood, the concept of making a movie was a pipe-dream due to the cost of the equipment and the technology involved. Fast forward to 2020 and read how a novice filmmaker used 'a smartphone, a microphone, a tripod, a stabilizing gimbal, and video-editing software on my computer. I had no film crew, no expensive cameras, and did no post-production except what I could accomplish on my own'. I'm jealous of what my kids will be able to achieve - More

There are huge differences between taking notes when reading versus listening. Here's a great read on how to capture ideas without interrupting your reading flow - More

Before Slack, before ICQ, before IRC, before CompuServe Chat there was Diversi-Dial. I remember my early computing childhood, where I'd be dialing into the local D-Dial with a 300 baud modem on a Vic-20 to chat with 6 other people. - More and More

In my opinion, this is wrong — it feels like a violation of a graveyard. Soon you will be able to go visit the Titanic Wreck for a 'mere' $125,000 - More

Using veins as a conduit to the brain; by 'mounting electrodes on an expandable, springy tube called a stent and threading it through a blood vessel that leads to the brain' is being explored as a new method for brain-computer interfaces. Scary stuff. - More

Speaking of becoming more robotic, Disney Research has released findings for creating new 'system that gives humanoid robots more realistic gazes and head movements'. Westworld, here we come - More

Chaos Engineering, the notion of 'hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst' has a bigger lesson in 2020 for everyone: 'From chaos, a greater understanding of resilience ' - More

Apple has filed for a few more patents this past week, with one in particular focusing on how to make Siri more like talking to a real person - More

End Thoughts

Who is Keyser Soze?

He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze.

You never knew.

That was his power.

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone.