"A bright-red gleam stabbed the night."

Revue
 
A week ago, my wife jolts awake, screaming. I was downstairs writing. When I get upstairs, our bedroo
 
October 16 - Issue #102 - View online
The Happy Hour
A week ago, my wife jolts awake, screaming. I was downstairs writing. When I get upstairs, our bedroom reeks of smoke. I quickly realize this was just because we had installed a unit which was sucking in air from the outside and pumping it into our room. So I run outside. No fire anywhere to be seen. But other neighbors are doing the same thing. I hop on Twitter and quickly surmise what is going on. Napa and Sonoma are on fire. 
As a result, largely due to the winds, San Francisco was covered in smoke and ash – hence, the smell. But it was only the following day that I realized just how bad the situation was up north. And over the past week it would get worse. Over 40 people now dead. Thousands of buildings destroyed. We’ll see how many billions of dollars in overall damages that could have repercussions for years…
I highly recommend reading the San Francisco’s Chronicle excellent tick-tock of the fire. A few choice bits:
Sometime in the half hour before that radio dispatch — Cal Fire records say 9:45 p.m. — something had ignited in the woods in neighboring Napa County, near tiny Tubbs Lane just north of Calistoga. October is high fire season in California, and all evening the dreaded Diablo winds, dry and reaching hurricane speed, had been blasting through the area at up to 80 miles an hour in 80-degree weather. All that was needed was a spark somewhere.
And:
By night’s end, driven by capricious winds, the swarm of conflagrations would hopscotch seemingly everywhere across an astonishing 100 square miles of Wine Country, growing into the worst wildland-urban cluster of fires in state history. At least 40 people would die and more than 5,000 structures would be incinerated. One of the nation’s most popular tourist regions would be ravaged, the fires’ unstoppable fury continuing day after day as fire crews struggled to tame them.
And:
Firefighters estimate that at times, the flames raced 230 feet per second and, inconceivably, threw embers a full mile ahead of the fire front. It moved so fast that chickens, cats and other animals were charred where they stood, left standing like blackened statues.
They still don’t know what caused the fires. It could have been arson, or it could have been a perfect storm of seemingly random events. But the region and the people need help, so if you’re so inclined

Movies! Anywhere?
I used to make a lot of fun of UltraViolet – not the movie, which was also worthy of scorn – but the movie industry effort to create a newfangled form of DRM with a cooler name. If you’ve never heard of it, there’s a reason for that – it was a shitshow. The only time I ever see it now is in hotel rooms that sell those ridiculously priced “Still in theaters” movies…
Anyway, UltraViolet isn’t back (because it’s actually somehow not yet dead) but there is a new initiative underway called “Movies Anywhere” – here’s Stephanie Prange on the matter:
It’s an interface that will finally make digital movie collection seamless, according to Gilford. The launch comes after several fits and starts, including the stalled UltraViolet digital locker service and Disney’s launch of its own proprietary service, Disney Movies Anywhere.
Observers say the studios abandoned UltraViolet for Disney’s model because the technology is superior.
Starting tonight, consumers can download a free Movies Anywhere app, create an account and link to any of the four digital retailers. The service will automatically populate consumers’ digital library from any of those four retailers on Movies Anywhere. Consumers can immediately stream or download any film from their Movies Anywhere library.
Given the lineage described above, I was dubious. But I will say, having downloaded the “Movies Anywhere” app for iOS, it’s not half bad. Once I connected my various accounts (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc – and they incentivize you to do this by offering you free, pre-selected movies, like Jason Bourne, if you connect multiple services), it took a few hours for the movies I owned to show up. But eventually, there they all were – well, minus the ones distributed by Paramount and Lionsgate, because of course it can’t be totally seamless. And they all work, streaming, etc. 
It’s not the best app in the world, but it’s simple enough. And it’s nice to have some peace of mind that movies you own will come with you no matter where your ecosystem travels may take you. 
Of course, one has to wonder if movies won’t eventually go by the way of music as well. That is, less ownership, more subscription-style. Certainly, it seems that Disney is already at work on this. For now though, not bad. 
"We Just Move On"
I very much enjoyed this tidbit from Laura Stevens’ interview with Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s head of Worldwide Consumer:
Stevens: Amazon encourages employees to fail big. Tell us about a big, fall-on-your-face failure.
Wilke: When we were deciding whether to do Kindle, Jeff (Bezos) presented his idea to the board. I thought at the time, “We’re a software company that built a retail business. We don’t know anything about hardware.” I’d come from companies that built hardware, so I knew how complicated it was. I said, “I don’t think we should do this.” I predicted that yields would be hard, that we might miss our first launch date, etc. Many of the things I predicted ultimately happened. But it didn’t matter. Jeff at the time said, “It’s the right thing to do for customers.” I disagreed and committed, and I’m very glad I did.
Stevens: What did Mr. Bezos say to you after?
Wilke: Once we make a decision, we just move on. There are too many opportunities to invent for customers to keep score. All of us have been wrong at various times.
The Kindle was one thing, the Fire Phone was another. Still, I find this to be a compelling argument – just keep moving forward – versus my call (many years ago) for a VP of Devil’s Advocacy.
The art of writing an obituary
The impossible dream of USB-C
One person’s history of Twitter, from beginning to end
LIGO Detects Fierce Collision of Neutron Stars for the First Time
The drama of a neutron-star merger
And one more thing, just for good measure...
LIGO Reaction
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Carefully curated by M.G. Siegler with Revue.
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