Cartoon Gravity 8 - Odds and Ends

A random trawl through stuff.

A bit of a pick'n'mix this time around. I started in on a BIG TOPIC, but got lost in the weeds and realised I was not the person to be talking about that subject. So instead, you get this; some bits and pieces about this and that...

This week, I've been playing with the Arc Browser, which promises to be a whole new way to experience the internet. I'm not sure it's quite that, but it is REALLY good; a much better experience than using Safari or Firefox or (God forbid) Chrome.

Detailed reviews of this browser are available elsewhere, but the things I'm enjoying the most are;

  • Spaces - where I can divide up my browser between news, research, shopping etc.
  • Easels - which is like a built-in Pinterest board that can be created and labelled for any reason at all and which has been proving invaluable for collating research
  • The mini-browser (I think that's what it's called), which is how links open when they're triggered from other apps, like e-mail or whatever. Rather than jump straight to the main browser window, these open wherever you are and can either be interacted with in miniature, or opened as a full tab in the browser.
  • Video pop-outs. Watching a video and then navigate to another page? The video automatically keeps playing in its own pop-out window.

Arc, being Chrome-based, also works really well with the Napkin app, so I'm getting back into using that and building up a good store of ideas for the AI to chew over.

I'm sure there are a ton of other features that I haven't discovered yet. I always try out new browsers, just to see, and I always end up back at Safari. This time, I'm optimistic I might stay with Arc for a while.

After a long time away, I have moved all my project management stuff back into Notion.

Notion is still not the best looking or most intuitive system available, but the reason it works for me is that it does actually require some work; to add tasks and schedule work is a little fiddly and that provides an extra buffer of thinking time; if I can't be bothered to set up the project in Notion, then I probably can't be bothered to do the real work on that project either.

Notion has about the steepest learning curve of any app I've used, so I don't recommend it to anyone who just wants a To Do list (for that, check out the new version of Reminders in iOS16, which is really quite functional now), but if you're prepared to spend the time, or are in need of intense procrastination, it is possible to design a system here that can pretty much organise your whole life for you. Yes, it requires constant maintenance and reviews, but I find that process really helpful in keeping me on track and focusing my mind on what I want to be doing rather than on what I feel obliged to do.

I'm on the third of James Swallow's "Nomad" books. These are straight-up thrillers featuring a character called Marc Dane, who is ex-MI6, now working for a private organisation called Rubicon. The books are super fun to read; a mix of Jason Bourne, contemporary Bond (without the laboured miserabilism of the recent movies) and Mission:Impossible. If you want to escape into a more exciting world (and who doesn't?) these books are well worth a look.

"Under The Banner Of Heaven" is an FX show, available on Disney+. It's written by Dustin Lance Black and stars Andrew Garfield and Gil Birmingham (Yellowstone) as two cops investigating a brutal murder in the Mormon community in the 1980s. It's based on a true story, and it's a slow burn but REALLY worth diving into.

In Paris a couple of weeks ago, we recorded the first in what is intended to be a series of short bulletins that will lead up to the launch of the fourth season of The Lovecraft Investigations. We're talking to the BBC now about the best way to get these out there, but that first one should be with you soon.

I finally got around to reading "How to Take Smart Notes" by Sonke Ahrens. I'd expected this to be an impossibly dry academic tract, but it's really not. Ahrens is great at understanding how we take in and process information and the book is full of good tips and methodological approaches to maximise note-taking, retention and output. Yes, it's geared quite clearly towards students and people who write non-fiction, but I'm pretty sure there are a lot of useful nuggets in there for people, like me, who make a lot of notes as they're working on fiction projects.

I've really let the Cartoon Gravity website go this summer, so I'm going to make a concerted effort to start updating it again now that the temperature is dropping and the nights are drawing in. In the meantime, here is selection of links I probably should have posted there already:

The Most Important Piece of Career Advice You Probably Never Heard - Study Hacks - Cal Newport

How the World's First Floating Hotel ended up as a Doomed Wreck in North Korea

Frank Wynkoop’s iconic Butterfly House is for sale in California - The Spaces

54 years of space exploration: an updated map that you must see – Franck Marchis Blog

Two Distinguished Scientists on How to Rescue Humanity - Nautilus | Science Connected

The Race to Explore the Ocean’s Twilight Zone - Nautilus | Science Connected

How much is a whale worth? Millions to combat climate change

The audacious PR plot that seeded doubt about climate change - BBC News

Right, back to work - Clara Page has just been thrown out of a 14th floor window in Lagos and I can't leave her hanging in mid-air for too long.

Have a good one.