Vegard Skjefstad

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Author: Vegard Skjefstad (page 1 of 455)

Spotify Acquires Gimlet Media

Nice podcasts, I’ll take them! Why Spotify’s acquisition of Gimlet Media might be a bad thing for consumers.

I love Spotify. Whenever I write about music, I often mention Spotify. I’ve been a premium subscriber since 2010-and-something, and it’s some of my most well-spent money. If I had bought all the music I’ve listened to and discovered on Spotify, I would have been broke years ago.

One of the nicest things about Spotify is that they are still a dime a dozen in many ways. There is a myriad of similar music streaming services available. They all offer similar features and comparable back catalogues at pretty much the same price. This means that it’s not a huge undertaking to jump ship to another music streaming service if I wanted to do that.

Lately, however, Spotify has begun looking at ways to differentiate themselves from all those other services. This is a natural effect of the current music streaming service homogeneity. Also, in 2018, Spotify became a publicly traded company, and now it’s all about the Benjamins, baby! To attract more paying customers, Spotify somehow has to stand out from the rest of the streaming service crowd.

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February One-Liners

A new month means a couple of new funny one-liners added to the collection. Here are the new additions for February:

  • “Et cetera” is Latin for “can’t think of a third example.”
  • Victims of autocorrect, untie!
  • “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” — Mark Twain
  • Any job is a dream job if you fall asleep in meetings.
  • “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” — Mark Twain
  • “Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.” — Mark Twain
  • “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” — Mark Twain
  • Jokes about unemployed people are not funny. They just don’t work.
  • I hate when I’m running on the treadmill for half an hour and look down to see it’s been 4 minutes.
  • Your life doesn’t get better by chance. It gets better by choice.
  • I like Jesus, but he loves me, so it’s awkward.
  • I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought to myself this is the last thing I need.
  • The only knowledge that can hurt you is the knowledge you don’t have.
  • A clean house is the sign of a broken computer.
  • Don’t trust atoms, they make up everything.
  • I was addicted to the hokey pokey. But thankfully, I turned myself around.
  • Have hope for the future, but maybe build a bomb shelter anyway.
  • My wife says I can join your gang but I have to be home by 9.
  • Why kill time when you can make it work for you?

“All Systems Red” by Martha Wells

A security-for-hire cyborg becomes self-aware, and secretly names itself “Murderbot”. What can possibly go wrong? Here’s my review of All Systems Red by Martha Wells.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests. They are shadowed by their company-supplied cyborg – a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module. The SecUnit is there to provide security, but the operation is quiet and uneventful. At least until a massive creature suddenly crashes out of a crater, and attacks one of the expedition members, Bharadwaj .

The SecUnit barely rescues poor Bharadwaj from being devoured, but not without suffering major damage itself. Using the base’s repair facility, the SecUnit is soon operational again, and an investigation into why a huge predator with no mentioning in any of the provided survey data attacked them begins. The expedition soon realize that their survey package has been tampered with; entire sections of their digital map has been wiped clean of data.

And when they lose contact with another expedition on the planet, things really start to go downhill.

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“Horus Rising” by Dan Abnett

I felt it was time I took a proper dive into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Here’s my review of Horus Rising by Dan Abnett.

Wow. It’s been a while now since I wrote a book review. The last one I posted was of Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy/detective noir novel Storm Front. That was back in early 2018, and half a year after I’d finished the book. For my Horus Rising review, however, I decided to start writing before I’d reached the final page.

You might not be familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 universe. But if you’re even remotely interested in role playing games, science fiction, role playing games, or anything related to that, there’s a very good chance you’ve crossed paths with Warhammer 40K in one way or another.

Personally, I’ve only casually observed everything with fascination from a safe distance. I’ve never been much of a table-top gamer, but the Warhammer 40K universe and its lore still comes across as something that should be of interest for someone like me.

A natural place to begin was Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. It’s the first book in the Horus Heresy series, which counts no less than 49 books.

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1 the Road

Back in 2016, an AI wrote a movie script. Fast forward to last year, when another AI took it upon itself to write a novel, 1 the Road.

The 2016 movie, Sunspring, was written by Benjamin, a long short term memory recurrent neural network. Sunspring was somewhat confusing, but if you want to watch it, it’s available in the post I wrote about the movie. Benjamin has since retired, at least his website now belongs to a non-artificial Benjamin1.

Since AIs don’t reliably create new AIs – yet – Benjamin was the brain child of a human, Ross Goodwin. Goodwin describes himself as a “creative technologist, hacker, gonzo data scientist, and writer of writers,” who uses technology to create works of art. In 2018, he set out on another adventure. Goodwin hocked a camera, a GPS, and a microphone to a computer, placed everything in a car, and went on a road trip from New York to New Orleans.

Using input from the camera, GPS, microphone, and the computer’s internal clock, a neural network would then narrate the entire trip. A printer in the back seat printed a hard-copy of story as it progressed.

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