Mubi: The Movie Streaming Service Where Less Is More

Everyone knows the Netflix shuffle. That’s when you want to watch a movie, and spend a half hour browsing through the same stuff you’ve been seeing for months, just in new lists, and end up not finding anything to watch. You then go read a book.

While Netflix does have some good content, it, and Amazon Prime Video, and other services, don’t make it easy to find what you want. In fact, it’s extremely difficult to weed out what you don’t want to watch so it doesn’t keep showing up. Netflix, for example, has been changing the graphics for movies and TV shows so you think they’re new. I really wish there was a way to mark something as Don’t Ever Show Me This Again Because There’s No Way In The World That I Would Ever Want To Watch It (ie, The Grand Tour).

Mubi is a movie streaming service that takes a totally different approach. They add one movie a day, and each movie lasts for thirty days, then it’s gone. The films available won’t appeal to everyone – they are art house, festival, and foreign films – but if you like that kind of movie, this carefully-curated selection is what you need.

Recently, Mubi has had several movies by Wim Wenders, two by Spike Lee, a number of films by Korean director Hong Sang-Soo, some interesting French films, and more. I’ve found that I’m watching three or four movies a month, which makes this service more than worthwhile, and the fact that there is only one film a day means that I’m not overwhelmed by the selection. And there are no super hero movies (at least I haven’t seen any yet).

If you’re into this kind of cinema, and want to have a limited selection of interesting movies, check out Mubi.

The battle for the future of Stonehenge – The Guardian

Stonehenge

(Photos by me from my visits to Stonehenge.)

Stonehenge, with the possible exception of Big Ben, is Britain’s most recognisable monument. As a symbol of the nation’s antiquity, it is our Parthenon, our pyramids – although, admittedly, less impressive. Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, recalls that when he took a group of Egyptian archaeologists to see it, they were baffled by our national devotion to the stones, which, compared to the refined surfaces of the pyramids, seemed to them like something hastily thrown up over a weekend.

[…]

First are its lintels – the horizontal stones atop the great upright boulders. This act of placing stone on stone is what makes it Britain’s “first essay … in architecture”, as Samuel Johnson put it. (Its circular form inspired John Wood’s mid-18th-century Circus in Bath, itself the model for Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus, meaning, according to historian Rosemary Hill, it is the probably the ultimate ancestor of the British roundabout.)

Stonehenge is both a fascinating place and a site overwhelmed by tourists. I’ve visited Stonehenge twice. Once about 15 years ago, when you accessed the site through a tunnel, and again in September 2017. (I took the photo above during that visit.) You now get there via a small shuttle bus that takes you from the visitor center and parking lot to the site.

This article explains the many issues around this site, the biggest problem being the road that runs nearby. Much money has been spent to try to find a solution, but one has not yet been found.

It is a bit of a shame. Both that the road is there, and that the site is so overused. You cannot really get a feel for Stonehenge when you visit, because most of the people there simply want to view the site and take selfies.

Selfie

It’s good that you cannot get too close to the stones, because that would make things even worse. But it’s a shame that you can’t get closer, because you miss out on appreciating the scale of the stones. When I visited 15 years ago, you could get a lot closer, but you still couldn’t walk among the stones.

As many people know, there is a very interesting stone circle in nearby Avebury, and this is wide open; you can wander among the stores, communing with the sheep that graze the grass.

Avebury

Stonehenge is much more impressive, and the stones are massive compared to Avebury, but at least, at the latter site, you can experience it more intimately. And there’s a good pub right on the site as well.

Source: The battle for the future of Stonehenge | UK news | The Guardian

Letting Your Mind Go Free: The Value of Daydreaming

I sit at my desk, a warm mug of tea in my hands, and look out the window to my left. Across the narrow road is a wheat field, and peeking above the hedgerow I can see the pale green sprouts of the winter wheat that has recently burst through the soil. Beyond a row of trees, about a half mile away, is a gently curving hill, with more trees framed against the sky.

As I look out the window, my eyes wander, and so does my mind. I unfocus my view, and my thoughts start drifting – moving from one idea to another, seemingly at random. As I do this, I let my imagination go free: free of the constraints that I impose on thoughts, free of the need to think of anything specific. It’s a wonderful feeling to not clutch at thoughts, to allow ideas to spring up unfettered.

Since I work from home, and live in a rural area, I enjoy my surroundings and use them as a catalyst to help spawn ideas. I daydream. Not everyone has this kind of view. For many years, the only view I had was a cityscape, a parking lot, or, often, nothing other than a wall. But I would still get into this state of free thinking, eyes closed if necessary, to spur on my creativity.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

How the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil Have Changed My Writing Workflow

I became a freelancer back in 1996 to work as a French-English translator. I translated lots of documents, generally working with a printout of the original document on a stand next to my display, and typing my translation on my computer. After finishing draft translations, it was time to edit my documents. To do this, I would generally print them out, sit in a comfortable chair, and read through them making changes with a pencil. You quickly learn that there is a big difference between reading a document on the screen and on paper; when doing the latter, you see lots of mistakes that you gloss over on screen, and you think of different formulations. That process of composing and editing in different contexts allows you to see your work in a different way.

For many years, as a freelance writer, I mostly worked on screen. Occasionally, I would print out articles and edit them on paper, but I have reached a stage where I have enough experience to be able to do all my work on screen. However, that process of editing in a different context can make a difference in my work.

A few weeks ago, I bought a new 11-inch iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. My goal was to attempt to re-create this writing/editing process using the iPad for the second step. I have found that the combination of the iPad and Apple Pencil allows me to edit in a different context. These two devices together function as a sort of analog/digital hybrid; I get the advantages of working on a digital device and manipulating text more efficiently, together with the analog feel of the Apple Pencil, which I use to select and edit text. I had tried doing this in the past with the iPad‘s touch interface, but text selection on iOS is so abysmal that it was too frustrating. The pencil, however, makes this process much smoother.

In addition, I have found that it is actually quite agreeable to control the iPad using the Apple Pencil. Not when I need to type a lot, but even when I do the New York Times crossword puzzle, working with the pencil is much more relaxing than using my fingers.

Why Your Business Should Go Paperless

Businesses are built on documents, and even before you start up your business, you discover how many documents you need to function. From business plans to bank statements, from employment contracts to NDAs, your business is awash in documents. As these documents pile up, they take up space, and you spend a lot of time looking for the right one when you need to check some terms or conditions.

We recently explained why you should use SaaS accounting software for your startup, and another way to make your business more efficient is to go paperless. As much as possible, store digital versions of documents and shred the paper.

Here’s why your business should go paperless.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

Honkyoku: Learning to Play the Shakuhachi

For about a year, I’ve been learning to play the shakuhachi, a Japanese flute. Compared to other instruments I’ve played, it’s quite difficult, but immensely interesting. I love the sound of this instrument, and I very much appreciate the subtlety of its music.

I’ve set up a new website to chronicle my path as I learn more about how to play the shakuhachi. Honkyoku: Learning to play the shakuhachi will contain observations on the learning experience, and point to some interesting music in videos and on Apple Music. I’m sure few of my readers are interested in this, but do check out some of the music I post there; you might find that you, too, feel a connection with the wonderful sound of this instrument.

(Honkyoku is a type of music for shakuhachi originally played by komosu, itinerant Zen monks.)