We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.
Grab the entire list as a Readlist.
Jessica Pressler reports on Washio and the travails of companies trying to disrupt the world of laundry.
New York Magazine: Jessica Pressler - "Let’s, Like, Demolish Laundry"
In early October, Washio opened up shop in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, the area around Silicon Valley was already awash in laundry disrupters. In addition to Prim, there was Laundry Locker, along with three other locker-technology-enabled businesses: Sudzee, Drop Locker, and Bizzie Box. There was Sfwash, which offered ecofriendly cleaning on top of pickup and delivery. There was even, briefly, a service called Your Hero Delivery, whose driver-founders dressed like superheroes.
On Tom Cruise
Amy Nicholson considers Tom Cruise's career up to and after the infamous Oprah couch moment.
LA Weekly: Amy Nicholson - How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star
You can probably picture it in your head: Tom Cruise, dressed in head-to-toe black, looming over a cowering Oprah as he jumps up and down on the buttermilk-colored couch like a toddler throwing a tantrum. Cruise bouncing on that couch is one of the touchstones of the last decade, the punchline every time someone writes about his career.
There's just one catch: It never happened
On the internet
John Herrman writes about how sites are so tied to the whims of Facebook and Google and how quickly fortunes can change. Don't miss Matt Haughey's' recap of MetaFilter's troubles.
The Awl: John Herrman - The New Internet Gods Have No Mercy
People still visit sites directly, but less. Sites still link to one another, but with diminishing results. A site that doesn't care about Facebook will nonetheless come to depend on Facebook, and if Facebook changes how Newsfeed works, or how its app works, a large fraction of total traffic could appear or disappear very quickly.
On Oculus Rift
Peter Rubin profiles Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey.
Wired: Peter Rubin - The Inside Story of Oculus Rift and How Virtual Reality Became Reality
Carmack got to work on the machine, hot-gluing a motion sensor to it and duct-taping on a ski-goggle strap. But his greatest contribution came in the code he wrote for it. The Rift’s biggest selling point was its 90-degree field of view, which Luckey accomplished by slapping a cheap magnifying lens on the display. The problem was, that lens distorted the image underneath, making it warped and uneven. So Carmack coded a version of Doom 3 that pre-distorted the image, counteracting the effects of the magnifying lens and making the picture appear correct to the viewer. The result was a completely immersive gaming experience, the kind that would otherwise require $10,000 in high-end optics.
Quinn Norton writes about the terrifying mess of online security and surveillance.
Medium: Quinn Norton - Everything is broken
Look at it this way — every time you get a security update (seems almost daily on my Linux box), whatever is getting updated has been broken, lying there vulnerable, for who-knows-how-long. Sometimes days, sometimes years. Nobody really advertises that part of updates. People say "You should apply this, it’s a critical patch!" and leave off the "…because the developers fucked up so badly your children’s identities are probably being sold to the Estonian Mafia by smack addicted script kiddies right now."
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Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.