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kottke.org posts about panic

Introducing the Playdate Gaming System

posted by Jason Kottke   May 23, 2019

Playdate

Playdate is a new handheld gaming system from Panic, the makers of FTP software. Hold on, what?! From the press release:

Playdate is both very familiar, and totally new. It’s yellow, and fits perfectly in a pocket. It has a black-and-white screen with high reflectivity, a crystal-clear image, and no backlight. And of course, it has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C, and a headphone jack. But it also has a crank. Yes, a crank: a cute, rotating analog controller that flips out from the side. It’s literally revolutionary.

The crank made me laugh out loud — in delight, mind you. Who puts a hand-crank on the side of a handheld video game console?! A very playful Nintendo-esque touch, designed in collaboration with Teenage Engineering. There’s more info, including photos of their first prototype, in this Twitter thread.

The old school tech blogging community1 is fired up about this thing in a way I’ve not seen for years. John Gruber writes on Daring Fireball:

The idea of a new upstart, a company the size of Panic — with only software experience at that — jumping into the hardware game with a brand new platform harkens back to the ’80s and ’90s. But even back then, a company like, say, General Magic or Palm, was VC-backed and aspired to be a titan. To be the next Atari or Commodore or Apple.

In today’s world all the new computing devices and platforms come from huge companies. Apple of course. All the well-known Android handset makers building off an OS provided by Google. Sony. Nintendo.

Panic is almost cheating in a way because they’re tiny. The Playdate platform isn’t competing with the state of the art. It’s not a retro platform, per se, but while it has an obviously nostalgic charm it is competing only on its own terms. Its only goal is to be fun.

And from Anil Dash, Putting the Soul in Console:

I’d been given a hint a while ago that something like this was coming, but the final execution is even more delightful than I’d imagined it might be. (That crank!) More importantly, it’s captured the imagination of so many, and seems like the kind of thing that could inspire a new generation of creative people to think, “Hey, maybe good tech is something we can make ourselves.” I’ve seen it happen on Glitch, and now I see it happening around Playdate after just a few hours.

That idea, that maybe things like our gaming devices or the websites we visit should be created by people we know and like, instead of giant faceless companies, seems more essential than ever. We would never settle for replacing all of our made-with-love, locally-grown, mom’s recipe home cooking with factory-farmed fast food, even if sometimes convenience demands we consume the latter. And we shouldn’t compromise any less on making sure that some of the time we spend playing games with each other, and delighting in the promise of technology, comes from people who’ve been diligently working for years to make well-sourced, organically grown, made-with-love technology.

Playdate starts shipping in early 2020. Supplies are probably going to be limited, so if you’re interested in getting one, you should hop on their mailing list.

  1. I.e. the folks who write about technology (software, gadgets) because they love it, not the folks who write about technology (IPOs, funding rounds) because it makes them money and gives them power.

Interview with Michael Lewis

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2008

A short interview with Michael Lewis about the book he just edited, Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity. In compiling the stories, Lewis was surprised at how little good writing he could find about upcoming financial hard times.

How little there was worth reprinting. I had six interns digging up all kinds of stuff, and I looked at 20 times the amount of material that appeared in the book. I assumed there would be lots of stories predicting each panic before the panics actually struck. But there was very little. Afterwards you’d have a flurry of literary activity, and then everybody was on to the next thing. Still, there was a common thread: You were watching America’s growing financial insanity.

The Mania Over Gay Flesh-Eating Super-Staph

posted by Choire Sicha   Jan 15, 2008

People are going whole-hog bananas today over a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, in which gay men arriving at hospitals and clinics in San Francisco and Boston were showing high incidences of truly nasty drug-resistant staph infections. Let’s panic! After all, Matt Drudge is teasing the story with an invented quote: “STRAIN OF SUPERBUG ‘MAY BE NEW HIV’…” But that language doesn’t actually appear anywhere, much less in the Reuters summary to which he links; it does not even appear in this story that uses that phrase as a headline. Mmm, fake horror! The study began sampling patients four years ago. If this was the new super-plague, we’d all be neck-deep in boils already.

Coda

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 24, 2007

Panic has released Coda, a new web development app for OS X. Panic co-founder Cabel Sasser describes it thusly:

We build websites by hand, with code, and we’ve long since dreamed of streamlining the experience, bringing together all of the tools that we needed into a single, elegant window. While you can certainly pair up your favorite text editor with Transmit today, and then maybe have Safari open for previews, and maybe use Terminal for running queries directly or a CSS editor for editing your style sheets, we dreamed of a place where all of that can happen in one place.

Ever since I switched to a Mac, I’ve been seeking a suitable replacement/upgrade for Homesite. I limped along unsatisfied with BBEdit and am finally getting into the groove with TextMate, but the inter-app switching — especially between the editor, FTP client, and the terminal — was really getting me down. John Gruber has a nice preview/review of Coda:

Each of Coda’s components offers decidedly fewer features than the leading standalone apps dedicated to those tasks. (With the possible exception of the terminal - I mean, come on, it’s a terminal.) This isn’t a dirty secret, or the unfortunate downside of Coda only being a 1.0. Surely Coda will sprout many new features in the future, but it’s never going to pursue any of these individual apps in terms of feature parity.

The appeal of Coda cannot be expressed solely by any comparison of features. The point is not what it does, but it how it feels to use it. The essential aspects of Coda aren’t features in its components, but rather the connections between components.

Panic’s implicit argument with Coda is that there are limits to the experience of using a collection of separate apps; that they can offer a better experience - at least in certain regards - by writing a meta app comprising separate components than they could even by writing their own entire suite of standalone web apps. Ignore, for the moment, the time and resource limitations of a small company such as Panic, and imagine a Panic text editor app, a Panic CSS editor app, a Panic web browser, a Panic file transfer/file browser app - add them all together and you’d wind up with more features, but you’d miss the entire point.

Panic co-founders Steven Frank and Cabel Sasser both weigh in on the launch. Has anyone given Coda a shot yet? How do you find it? I’m hoping to find some time later today to check it out and will attempt to report back.