Another Box Office Milestone: ‘Barbie’ Becomes Top-Grossing Movie of 2023 Domestically, Global to Soon Follow ↗

By Pamela McClintock at The Hollywood Reporter:

On Wednesday — its 34th day in release — Greta Gerwig’s movie passed up runaway blockbuster The Super Mario Bros. Movie at the domestic box office to become the top-grossing title of 2023 after finishing the day with a North American total of $575.4 million.

Couldn’t have happened to a better film and director. Barbie was probably the best time I had at the movies so far this year.

Backblaze, a company of which I’m quite fond, just sent out an email notice of a price increase to their computer backup service.1 Starting October 3, the new pricing for the Backblaze Computer Backup service is:

  • $9 a month, or
  • $99 a year, or
  • $189 for two years

I’ve been a Backblaze user since they were charging $5 a month or $60 a year to back up a computer. In the years since, I’ve seen that number slowly tick up. $5 became $6 became $7. The price has now nearly doubled since I first subscribed.

In addition to the price increase, they’re also making their one-year extended version history feature available to all users for “free.” Previously, it was an additional $2 a month add-on. I’ve never used more than their 30-day version history, so this ridiculously long extra safety buffer is nice, but in my case, unnecessary. It feels like a way to boost revenue without actually spending anything.

This email, taken in its entirety, can also be read a different way: Backblaze subscribers will be receiving a feature that they may not need, and cannot refuse in exchange for a lower subscription price, while incurring a 29% price increase for monthly subscribers or a 41% increase for annual subscribers.

It’s an understandable bummer for the consumer. On one hand, data storage isn’t free,2 and they have other operating costs to consider. I’ll never begrudge anyone that reality. On the other hand, Backblaze launched its initial public offering (IPO) in November 2021. This means that people can buy and sell shares of the company, but also that there is now massive and relentless motivation for Backblaze to increase its value. It’ll allow the company to grow, but will also necessitate price increases like this one if it’s not growing enough or in the right way (according to the inscrutable stock market gods). Capitalism, baby!

It should go without saying, but I consider Backblaze an essential service; there’s nothing quite like it. I’ll still recommend it to everyone I know. There are few things in this world I value more than knowing my important data is reliably backed up and able to be restored. I’ll accept this most recent price increase with a well-earned grimace for that reason.

  1. Thankfully, I just re-upped for another year a few days ago, so this won’t be a big issue for me for several months. ↩︎

  2. Although it is getting cheaper all the time—another reason why this increase is irksome. ↩︎

An essential practice I need to get better at:

Abandoning with blinding speed and hearty gusto books that aren’t clicking for me. Especially well before I’m through the first hundred pages.

While cutting off a shirt tag, I wondered what I would do if I needed to reference its care instructions in the future. I considered putting recording the tag information in a note, or even better, some kind of database.

Then I considered how useful it might be to log every part of my life in a database app. Literally, as much as I possibly could.

I ended the whole line of thought by asking myself, What, you’re going to record how many almonds you have in the pantry? How in the world did you get to be this way?

It’s unlikely to ever happen—they don’t control enough of the ebook market—but I would love to see a lean e-ink book reader from Apple, à la the Kindle. Something with minimal access to the internet and startlingly long battery life.

I could get a Kindle, but why give Amazon more of my money?

On one hand, I’m a little concerned about this exceptional storm coming through Southern California and I’m being cautious about it.

On the other hand, it’s finally gotten me the “Cow Dodger” achievement in CARROT Weather.

A screenshot of the CARROT Weather app displaying a list of achievements I've received while using the app, notably the Cow Dodger award.

As a possible solution to the issues I discussed in my post, There’s Room for App Improvement, I’ve decided to think of the situation this way:

My website on can exist as my place of record and Mastodon can be my primary outlet for online dialogue.

That should help with my indecision.

Streaming TV costs now higher than cable, as ‘crash’ finally hits ↗

From Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac:

As little as a year ago, a popular set of streaming services added up to a total cost of $73 per month – compared to $83 for an equivalent cable package. But the latest round of streaming price increases has pushed that cost to $87, says a Financial Times analysis, making it more expensive than cable.

Good job, dummies. You became the very thing you swore to destroy!

Also, from Karl Bode at Techdirt in a related article:

If you hadn’t noticed, it’s not just good enough for a publicly traded company to provide an excellent, affordable product that people like. Wall Street demands improved quarterly returns at any cost, which, sooner or later, causes any successful company to begin cannibalizing itself to feed the “growth for growth’s sake” gods. Mergers, price hikes, offshored labor, whatever it takes.

While high level executives and some shareholders benefit from this enshittification, there’s just an endless list of casualties from this process, whether it’s product value, quality, customer satisfaction, customer support, employee pay, jobs, or even the long-term health of the company itself.

Capitalism was a mistake.

My parents bought their home for a little over $100,000. Granted, this was in the early ‘80s.

A home on the same street just sold for slightly over one million dollars. A ten-fold increase in just a few decades.

At this rate, unless I strike it rich, home ownership will never be a reality for me.

An enjoyable recent activity: watching Women’s World Cup games with my wife. As someone who doesn’t have an interest in sports, this has been a surprising development.

And these teams should be getting way more funding than their male counterparts. The games have been far more thrilling.

There’s Room for App Improvement

For as long as I can recall, I’ve enjoyed the shiny new things in life. Surely, there’s nobody else out there who can relate to that obsession. Surely. Plop down the new hotness, bonus points if it’s an Apple product, and you’ve just stolen my attention. There’s a sea change happening in the world of social media right now, and it’s difficult to turn away from the noise (which is loud and distracting). My inability to turn away from the shiny things in life leads to perplexing and occasionally anxiety-inducing indecision. Right now, two things are tussling in my mind. Mastodon.


I’ve spent the last few days considering what the two services offer and how they do or might fit into my life. They both offer potential ways to stay connected with the world without potentially sacrificing a part of my soul to some careless tech giant. One potential way to solve this dilemma is to use both of them concurrently, finding an elusive best of both worlds scenario that I’m not sure actually exists.

I have a fraught relationship with social media, and my mind works best without exposure to larger services.1 Posting and replying on is enough of an effort for me, and I’m still not good at it (as you can tell from my lack of presence here). I hardly have room in my life for one service, much less two or more.

But what if ActivityPub is the solution? It has the potential to reinvigorate the notion that the web itself is the greatest social network. Why sign up for yet another disconnected service—what’s the count up to now?—when you can choose a favorite and, through internet magic, stay connected everywhere? Lucky for me, ActivityPub is already built into and Mastodon. Problem solved, right?

Not so fast. This whole thing wouldn’t be necessary to write if that were the case. I hesitate to use the word “blame” here, but it’ll have to do. The blame rests on those self-same services. They have inherently different ideologies which don’t play well with each other:

  •, as its name suggests, is intended to be a blogging-first service with a social media component attached. Communication is the goal, not acquiring followers or likes.
  • Mastodon is intended to be social first, with the ability to publish short posts. Communication is important, but so is promotion.

You won’t find public boosts, likes, or follower counts on, and that’s how it should be. On Mastodon, you won’t be able to style a personal website how you want or write a novel-length post, as intended. The services themselves don’t offer any convincing advantages over each other, especially with ActivityPub involved.

That’s a lot of words without a real explanation for my indecision. What’s the point then? There’s a magnetic force, an inexorable draw emanating from the Mastodon side of this issue. A siren call that I’m finding hard to resist.


One app has been enough for me to consider spinning up my own Mastodon instance and giving that service my all. One app has brought joy to my device usage. One beautiful app with character to spare is the reason for all of this. Unlike the app, Ivory has the two most important qualities of any essential app:

  1. Speed.
  2. Personality.

I’m certainly not a developer of any sort; in this case, consider me more of an armchair critic. However, I know in my bones that Craig Mod was 100% correct when he wrote that fast software is the best software.

When I open Ivory I feel imbued with the spirit of a certain zippy hedgehog. My fingers feel light and nimble. Every swipe, every tap, every thought becomes quick and instinctual. Get into the zone and Ivory might just feel like it’ll start doing things for you. I hardly have to think about what I’m doing when using it.

When I open up the app I feel a brake pedal depress on my thoughts. Certainly, the 3.0 update fixed many issues, but it still lacks the speed and charm of Ivory. With this app, there’s a palpable sense of waiting. Waiting for new posts. Waiting for new screens to appear. Waiting for too much to visibly load. Each tap introduces a few blank moments, and those add up. Additionally, there’s hardly a swipe action to be seen. There’s no on-screen context while replying to someone. There are no quick animations, fun colors, or neat icons, a.k.a. charm.

I think one reason why enough people asked about using Ivory as a client that Manton wrote a post about their interoperability (or lack thereof) is because it’s such a joy to use. If the two apps were on equal ground, then maybe the post wouldn’t have been necessary.

I think there’s a good future for the app. Certainly, there’s nowhere for it to go but up. The number one priority should be speed. Make the thing lightning quick, to the point where it feels like it’s anticipating my every move. The dreaded loading spinner should be avoided at all costs. I want to see it leave Back to the Future-style burning tire tracks wherever it goes.

A white-haired scientist and his young protégé stand atop a pair of flaming tire tracks in the middle of a dark parking lot.

Nail that aspect and everything else becomes icing on the cake. From there I’d love to see swipe actions for common tasks, subtle animations for button presses, long-press context menus all over the place, and maybe even some fun custom app icons. Make the app feel less utilitarian and more like a communication compatriot who likes to party a little bit.

I hope these aren’t new ideas for anyone working on the service and/or app. If they are, then please consider these thoughts my official feature requests. The app has the potential to be just as lively and joyful to use as Ivory. As one of the main methods of interacting with the service, it has an obligation to be. I think it can get there—it’s come a long way—and I’m rooting for it.

  1. Indeed, I’ve not signed up for Threads or Bluesky. I’ve long since stopped using Facebook, Twitter (or X or whatever), Instagram, and the like. ↩︎

If Apple were to continue adding Music features like their new and fantastic Discovery Station and the upcoming collaborative playlists, then they could… have the same feature set that others have.

But hey, I’ll happily take what I can get. Seriously, I’ve been loving the Discovery Station.

While they’re completely lacking in the premium look and feel of the AirPods Max, my new Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are filling the gap nicely.

The noise cancellation is top-notch and I’m enjoying the Multipoint Connection more than I thought I would. I can’t wait to try them on a plane.

Letterboxd Diaries—July 2023

Total movies watched: 32.

Favorite movie of the month: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Worst movie of the month: The Last Airbender.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

It’s finally happened. My dear AirPods Max, the headphones I’ve loved the most the last couple of years, have given up the ghost. They were constant companions and one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

I hope the new (and far more affordable) AirPods Pro will be good replacements.

Letterboxd Diaries—June 2023

Total movies watched: 26.

Favorite movie of the month: The Bad Guys.

Worst movie of the month: Transformers.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

I’ve tried very hard to keep it positive here and in my life, but that’s been a challenge during the last few days. With the bullshit rulings the Supreme Court has made about abortion rights, affirmative action, LGBTQIA+ rights, and student loan forgiveness, the country I was born into has never felt less familiar and welcoming.

One party wants healthcare only for those who can afford its currently obscene costs. Everyone else wants non-restrictive healthcare for all.

One party wants to control the bodies of women and believes that a fetus is the most important thing in the world (until it’s old enough to be shot to death). Everyone else wants to provide abortions for women, life-saving and otherwise.

One party wants to saddle people with lifelong debt for an education full of whitewashing and other inaccuracies. Everyone else wants free or low-cost high-quality education for all who want it.

One party doesn’t actually care if children and adults continue to die while they hide behind a façade of meaningless thoughts and prayers. Everyone else wants sensible gun control.

One party wants to subjugate, invalidate, and criminalize LGBTQIA+, women, people of color, and all minorities. Everyone else wants real equality and fairness for all.

One party swims with glee in the murky, disgusting depths of hate. Everyone else is intolerant of intolerance.

I’d be more interested in working together if one party wasn’t constantly trying to tear us all apart. As it is, they don’t deserve my kindness or respect. I hope their wicked and despicable ideologies soon shrivel and fade away into nothing forever.

Like with a lot of great technology, the more I hear people talk about the Vision Pro, the more I know I’ll find myself wanting one.

My new mantra: You don’t have a use for one now. You certainly don’t have the money for one now.

Repeat ad infinitum.

Illinois becomes first state to pass law curtailing book bans ↗

From Brendan O’Brien at Reuters:

Illinois has become the first state to legislate against the banning of books in public libraries, a practice that has been on the rise across the United States as conservatives look to suppress some books dealing with race, history and LGBTQ topics.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed the historic measure into law on Monday in a Chicago library. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, the governor’s office said in a statement.

I’m a little late on this one—the story broke on June 13—but I think it’s still worth celebrating. This is a step in the right direction, a positive step, a good step. I don’t think book bans of any sort are helpful to anyone, especially young people who should have every opportunity to expand their minds and grow their empathy. All of them are reactionary crusades against that which ignorant adults can’t handle and, therefore, hate. None of them are truly done with the well-being of young people in mind, no matter the rhetoric involved.

Just take the words of Laura Hois, co-chair of a chapter of Awake Illinois,1 for proof:

“We object to gender influencing, indoctrination of our kids toward anti-racism and leftist agendas.”

They object to gender influencing (which surely isn’t actually a thing) and anti-racism? They’re promoting and longing for racism? It’s all just their own contemptuous hang-ups that they’re trying to force into the minds of young people, spreading the hate virus. At this point, it should be no surprise that the quiet parts just keep getting said louder and louder. It’s still disgusting to see.

A ban on book bans. Good job, Illinois! Seriously. I’m proud of that state for doing the right thing here, and I hope more states, especially my own, follow suit (and soon).

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed this bill into law, and what he said is a fine way to end this post:

“Here in Illinois, we don’t hide from the truth, we embrace it. […] Young people shouldn’t be kept from learning about the realities of our world; I want them to become critical thinkers, exposed to ideas that they disagree with, proud of what our nation has overcome.”

  1. I’m not going to link to that person or any affiliated websites. I’m sure you understand why. If you want to dare venture into that muck, then please search for it on your own. ↩︎

I’m so late to the game on this one, but after my father-in-law ran into a AI-related cheating issue in one of his classes, he resolved to learn more it. Naturally, that meant I needed to learn more about it and relay the information.

The potential of ChatGPT is blowing my freaking mind.