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Sun 24 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Preview: Google on the future of advertising» The Google Weblog

In a long New York Times piece, top Googlers speculate about the future of advertising, including Google selling TV ads, using more personalized information, and links to store inventory information.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 News: Google strengthens focus on Greater China» The Google Weblog

Appoints "President of Sales and Business Development".


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google RSS Reader» The Google Weblog

Google joins the already crowded RSS aggregator space with their new ajax RSS reader, done in the style of Gmail. Blogger project manager Jason Shellen led the project.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google Analytics, see the statistics on your website» The Google Weblog

A free version of Urchin, a company Google bought. (official blog post)


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Update: Google adds tagging support» The Google Weblog

Tagging has been all over the place recently and apparently Google couldn't resist. Now you can tag sites in your search history for later retrieval.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Update: Google now helps search for plane tickets» The Google Weblog

Search for something like [lax nyc] and Google will help you buy plane tickets for that trip.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: reservemy.com, displays hotels on a Google Maps» The Google Weblog

See exactly where the available hotels are on a Google Map.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google adds Creative Commons support» The Google Weblog

The Google advanced search page now lets you limit your search to CC-licensed results.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Update: Google Local adds restaurant details» The Google Weblog

Now when you search for restaurants on Google Local (formerly Google Maps), you get details about the restaurant (location, food, reviews) along with its location. (example)


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Click-to-Call AdWords, Google will let you call advertisers» The Google Weblog
Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google Maps Mainia, a blog covering Google Maps apps» The Google Weblog

There sure are a lot -- everything from ZipCars to urinals.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Frappr, place photos of you and your friends on a Google Map» The Google Weblog

(sample map) It uses your zip code to figure out where to place you on the map.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Update: Google "Smart Pricing" charges less for clicks from poorly-converting sites» The Google Weblog

Details about how it works in the link.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google Video adds 450 interviews with top television producers» The Google Weblog
Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Update: Google briefly releases Google Web Accelerator 2.0» The Google Weblog

The product that drove webmasters crazy was back...for a moment, at least.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google Local Mobile, get Google Maps and more on your mobile phone» The Google Weblog

Satellites, drag and drop, and more.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Preview: Google Base, a structured database hosted by Google» The Google Weblog

(screenshots) An official statement from Google says the site was designed to "provide content owners an easy way to give us access to their content". (more screenshots)


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Announce: Google to unwire Mountain View, WiFi on street lamps» The Google Weblog

You could also buy equipment to extend it into your house. (proposal)


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 News: Google donates $350,000 to open source projects at Oregon State» The Google Weblog
Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Update: Blind test reveals Google offers best results» The Google Weblog

The Search Engine Experiment gives you the results from Yahoo, MSN, and Google without saying which is which. Currently, 41% of those who have taken the test picked Google (33% Yahoo, 26% MSN).


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Story: Xooglers, Google's former Marketing Director tells his story» The Google Weblog

Some great stories about Google's early days, with more to come.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 News: Google launches "Features, Not Products" initiative» The Google Weblog

Sergey Brin is telling employees to stop making old products and start improving new ones. "For example, said Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, Google plans to combine its spreadsheet, calendar and word-processing programs into one suite of Web-based applications."


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Preview: Google testing new site design» The Google Weblog

James Yu has a screenshot of a new design Google has been testing lately.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google Music, search for bands and albums» The Google Weblog
Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google Pages, new Geocities-style site-building software» The Google Weblog

Google has released a new program that gives users 100MB of web space to make simple HTML pages in.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google running AdWords in newspapers» The Google Weblog

Google is buying the leftover ad space in the _Chicago Sun-Times_ and filling it with AdWords ads related to the rest of the content. I wonder how they're going to charge advertisers. The domains posted are the real domains, so it can't exactly be pay-per-click.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: Google Code Search» The Google Weblog

Google now lets you do searches -- including regular expression searches -- across public source code.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Launch: searchmash, an experimental site started by Google» The Google Weblog

Uses Ajax and some other web2.0-ish features.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Slashdot Asks: Does It Matter That We've Reached Peak Smartphone?» Slashdot
Gizmodo, in its typical sensational voice, ran a story this week in which it argues that smartphones are in a "ridiculously boring place" right now. Alex Cranz with the publication expresses her discontent with some of the recently launched smartphones such as the iPhone SE, the LG G5, and the Galaxy S7. "These devices have not redefined the way we phone, nor have they blown us away with unprecedented speeds, or wowed us with extraordinary battery life. Each of these new phones is merely a marginal improvement over last year's model." I agree with most of what Cranz has to say. In the past one year, we've seen QHD display panel, Snapdragon 810/820 SoC, 3 to 4GB of RAM becoming a norm. Nearly every manufacturer has reached that point, and then sort of stopped there. Compared to the Nexus 4, for instance, the Nexus 6P offers a significant improvement. But when compared to anything you purchased two years ago -- in the echelon of your choice -- the latest offering isn't going to leave a big impression on you. The industry is currently making small noises about what it thinks could be the next big thing. Some players including Samsung and Lenovo believe that it could be the virtual reality addon. We will have to see how much traction that gets. My contention with Cranz's story is that it doesn't talk about how these devices are impacting people's lives, hence missing the big picture. I believe that it doesn't necessarily matter if our smartphones aren't going to get any smarter. The first-generation Moto G, from a few years ago, can also help you quickly get information from the Web, and it can also allow you to book a cab using Uber app, and do pretty much everything that you do on a flagship smartphone. As Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson pointed out last month, the next "second smartphone revolution" could enhance the lives of millions of people in places such as Asia, where most of the population still doesn't have a smartphone. When you look at that, it becomes unnecessary to talk about the top-of-the-line specs and the rate at which these smartphones are receiving incremental improvements. The vast majority of people in the emerging world are in a desperate need of a bare-bone smartphone that allows them to make phone calls, even if it doesn't do it in a "redefined" fashion, and works with speeds that don't blow them away, a couple of things that I think we are taking for granted. Wilson wrote: The first 2.5bn smartphones brought us Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, WhatsApp, Kik, Venmo, Duolingo, and most importantly, drove the big web apps to build world class mobile apps and move their userbases from web to mobile. But, if you stare at the top 200 non-game mobile apps in the US (and most of the western hemisphere) you will see that the list doesn't look that different than the top 200 websites. The mobile revolution from 2007 to 2015 in the west was more about how we accessed the internet than what apps we used, with some notable and important exceptions. The next 2.5bn people to adopt smartphones may turn out to be a different story. They will mostly live outside the developed and wealthy parts of the world and they will look to their smartphones to deliver essential services that they have not been receiving at all -- from the web or from the offline world. I am thinking about financial services, healthcare services, educational services, transportation services, and the like. Stuff that matters a bit more than seeing where you friends had a fun time last night or what it looks like when you faceswap with your sister.At this moment, it does seem to me that over the coming months, our smartphones are unlikely to get a major hardware boost. The biggest milestone we have on the horizon is what happens when everyone has these smartphones, and how does it impact our businesses, culture, and social lives. What's your take on this? Do you think we are yet to reach the peak point in the smartphone world? What's the big picture in your opinion?Update: 04/23 18:55 GMT by M :Robotech_Master's take on this is pretty insightful.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Dutch Police Seize Encrypted Communication Network With 19,000 Users» Slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Dutch police have seized and shut down Ennetcom, an encrypted communications network with 19,000 users, according to Reuters. The network's 36-year-old owner, Danny Manupassa, has also been arrested, and faces charges of money laundering and illegal weapons possession, while the information obtained in the seizure may also be used for other criminal prosecutions. "Police and prosecutors believe that they have captured the largest encrypted network used by organized crime in the Netherlands," prosecutors said in a statement. "Although using encrypted communications is legal," Reuters reports, "many of the network's users are believed to have been engaged in 'serious criminal activity,' said spokesman Wim de Bruin of the national prosecutor's office, which noted that the company's modified phones have repeatedly turned up in cases involving drugs, criminal motorcycle gangs, and gangland killings. A spokesman for the National Prosecutor's office "declined to comment on whether and how police would be able to decrypt information kept on the servers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Consumer Complaints About Broadband Caps Are Soaring» Slashdot
Karl Bode, reporting for DSL Reports: Consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission about broadband data caps rose to 7,904 in the second half of 2015 from 863 in the first half, notes a new report by the Wall Street Journal. The Journal filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency to obtain the data on complaints, which have spiked as a growing number of fixed-line broadband providers apply caps and overage fees to already pricey connections. According to the Journal, the FCC has received 10,000 consumer complaints about data caps since 2015.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Greece's Former Finance Minister Explains Why A Universal Basic Income Could Save Us» Slashdot
Charlie Sorrel, writing for FastCoExist: Next time you're having a fight with somebody who doesn't like the idea of a universal basic income, you might employ some of these arguments from Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's former finance minister. In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, he not only refutes the usual arguments against the concept that the government should give everyone a minimum check every month, but he makes them sound quite ridiculous. The interview was published ahead of the Switzerland's vote on a universal basic income (or UBI) in June. If successful, all Swiss adults would get $2,500 per month, and kids around $625 per month, whether or not they have a job. Here are some of Varoufakis's best answers. First, on the need for a UBI: "For the first time in the history of technology more jobs are destroyed than created. Technical progress means that more and more high-paying jobs will disappear and thus shrink the middle class. This will in turn cause a further concentration of income and wealth in the upper classes. That's why I fight like a basic income for sociopolitical reforms. The robotization [of work] has long been underway, but robots don't buy products. Therefore, a basic income is needed to offset this change and stabilize a society which has an increasing wealth inequality." Then, on why you need a UBI if you already have a good job: "What good is a well-paying job, if you are afraid to lose it? This constant fear paralyzes."Good luck convincing many citizens to do actual work.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Jihadis Twice As Likely To Be Students of Science Than Of Sharia» Slashdot
Bruce66423 writes: Time to cancel all the encouragement of studying STEM subjects, obviously... The Telegraph is reporting that prominent jihadists "are twice as likely to have studied science at university than subjects related to Islam," citing a new report by the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics. "The report, which analyzed the histories of 100 of the most prominent jihadist leaders of the last three decades, said that despite claiming to be the sole interpreters of Islamic theology, they often had little or no training in the subject." Osama bin Laden went to a secular school and studied economics at college with little formal Islamic training, while the "underpants bomber," who tried to detonate a bomb in a plane over Detroit in 2009, got his degree in mechanical engineering. Of the 100 cases examined, "Around half had attended university, with 57 per cent of them studying science subjects, compared to only 28 per cent studying Islamic subjects."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 'I Hacked Facebook -- and Found Someone Had Beaten Me To It'» Slashdot
An anonymous reader shares an article on The Register: A bug bounty hunter compromises a Facebook staff server through a sloppy file-sharing webapp -- and finds someone's already beaten him to it by backdooring the machine. The pseudo-anonymous penetration tester Orange Tsai, who works for Taiwan-based outfit Devcore, banked $10,000 from Facebook in February for successfully drilling into the vulnerable system. According to Tsai, he or she stumbled across malware installed by someone else that was stealing usernames and passwords of FB employees who logged into the machine. The login credentials were siphoned off to an outside computer. According to Facebook security engineer Reginaldo Silva, the password-slurping malware was installed by another security researcher who had earlier poked around within Facebook's system in an attempt to snag a bug bounty.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 The Android Administration: Google's Relationship With the Obama White House» Slashdot
theodp writes: The Intercept takes a look at Google's remarkably close relationship with the Obama White House, driving home its point with charts of When Google Visited the White House and how individuals have moved Back and Forth Between Google and Government. "Much of this collaboration could be considered public-minded," writes David Dayen. "It's hard to argue with the idea that the government should seek outside technical help when it requires it. And there's no evidence of a quid pro quo. But this arrangement doesn't have to result in outright corruption to be troubling. The obvious question that arises is: Can government do its job with respect to regulating Google in the public interest if it owes the company such a debt of gratitude?" One interesting meeting The Intercept missed was a 2014 sit-down of Google and Microsoft execs with the head of the National Science Foundation and educators following a White House Hour of Code event, at which President Obama was 'taught to code' by Google-backed Code.org with Google-exec-turned-US-CTO Megan Smith looking on. Asked about the event in an interview, the President suggested the school system was to blame for his daughters not taking to coding the way he'd like. "I think they got started a little bit late," the President explained. "Part of what you want to do is introduce this with the ABCs and the colors." Less than a year later, the President sought to redress things with his Computer Science for All K-12 Initiative, citing Google-provided factoids ("Nine out of ten parents want it taught at their children's schools") to explain the need for the $4B budget request for the program.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 North Korea Launches Missile From Submarine» Slashdot
schwit1 shares breaking news from CNN: North Korea has fired what is believed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said Saturday. The missile was fired at 6:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET), South Korean officials said, and appears to have flown for about 30 km (about 19 miles) -- well short of the 300 km (roughly 186 miles) that would be considered a successful test... Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test in January. It said it succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear warheads to fit on medium-range ballistic missiles -- which U.S. intelligence analysts say is probably true.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Wikipedia May Get Delivered To The Moon» Slashdot
A new Meta page on Wikimedia.org reports: "A group of science enthusiasts from Berlin, Germany, are planning to send their own custom-built rover to the Moon. And they want to take Wikipedia with them." Sort of. Wikimedia Deutschland has been offered space on a data disc to be carried by one of the five image-gathering rovers still competing to land on the Moon by 2017 for the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge. But there's only 20 gigabytes of space, so they're calling on the Wikipedia communities to agree on which content should be included by June 24. "Even if only a snapshot of Wikipedia can be brought to the Moon, its content will equal a genuine snapshot of the sum of all human knowledge..." the Meta page explains "This is an anniversary gift to all Wikipedia communities all over the world."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Facebook Might Finally Kill Clickbait With New Algorithm Tweaks» Slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Facebook is bringing two additional tweaks to its News Feed algorithm: time spent viewing and page post diversity. The former is an effort to weed out clickbait and bad content by attempting to quantify quality links. The change appears to be a mobile-first solution, as the announcement only states that Facebook will measure the time spent looking at Instant Articles or those within the mobile browser. Facebook also reports that users enjoy reading articles from a wide range of publishers, a revelation that led them to tweak the algorithm for greater diversity of page posts. In short, the idea is to reduce how often people see content back-to-back, or in short order, from the same page. For most pages, the content is spread out enough to where this shouldn't be much of a problem, but for those that post several updates in a few minutes, it could lead to some of the content not being seen.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Chinese Conglomerate LeEco Wants To Give Away Its 'Tesla Killer' Electric Supercar For Free» Slashdot
Rishi Alwani, reporting for Gadgets 360 (edited and condensed for clarity): At an event in Beijing this week, Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco showed off its LeSEE self-driving electric supercar. A slide noted that LeEco's car can reach 130mph which is a fair bit behind of the Tesla Model S' top speed range of 140 to 155 mph. Nonetheless, the company said the final product should beat Tesla in "all aspects of performance." The car sports a rounded design with a giant LED screen plastered on the front of the vehicle. If the car is being used for cab services, for instance, the screen can show if it's available for hire or not. There's an arched transparent roof and what seems to be generous cabin space. The interior sported a futuristic-looking steering wheel with a lit-up centre that quite possibly would replace the traditional dashboard and was complemented by a monitor next to it. It also had ridged backseats that may look uncomfortable but is actually memory foam - a polyurethane material used in mattresses that can mould to the shape of a passenger's body for maximum comfort. Perhaps the most interesting component of its LeSEE concept has nothing to do with the technology, but rather the business models involved. For one, the company believes it has a huge role to play in LeShare - a time-sharing electric vehicle platform that's present in Beijing and Shanghai with plans to expand to five more cities in China. Electric vehicles and charging resources will be shared between LeShare and LeEco-backed Uber competitor Yidao. In addition to this, LeEco believes that the car will eventually be free, in line with the same business model it has for some of its other hardware, charging users for content, subscriptions or memberships.For a refresh, LeEco (LeTV) was founded in 2004, and has since become a major name in many technology-centric markets. It offers live-streaming, e-commerce, cloud, smartphones, TV set-top boxes, and smart TVs among many other products and services. The company has a market capitalisation of at least $12 billion.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Windows Phone Free-Fall May Force Microsoft To Push Harder On Windows 10» Slashdot
tripleevenfall quotes a report from PCWorld: Microsoft sold a minuscule 2.3 million Lumia phones last quarter, down from 8.6 million a year ago. Phone revenue declines will only "steepen" during the current quarter, chief financial officer Amy Hood warned during a conference call. That's dragged down Microsoft's results as a company, too. As the company's mobile device strategy continues to disintegrate, Microsoft may feel compelled to push harder on Windows 10 adoption and paid services to prove it can survive without a viable smartphone. CEO Satya Nadella's strategy is simple enough: grow Microsoft's revenues by convincing customers to adopt its paid subscription services.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 Bill Nye Slams Donald Trump, Republicans On Climate Change» Slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: On the eve of Earth Day, environmental activist Bill Nye told CNN that while everybody is more aware of climate change "than ever before," we still have a long way to go (annoying auto-play videos). The science educator and engineer, who became an icon on his 1990s hit show "Bill Nye the Science Guy," criticized the Republican presidential candidates and the fossil fuel industry for not acknowledging the deleterious effects of climate change. "There's still a very strong contingent of people who are in denial about climate change," Nye said. "And if you don't believe me, look at the three people currently running for president of the world's most influential country who are ... climate change deniers," Nye said, referring to the three Republican presidential candidates: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 First Successful Gene Therapy Against Human Aging?» Slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: For the first time data may show that a human being has been successfully rejuvenated by gene therapy, claims Bioviva USA. "In September 2015, then 44 year-old CEO of Bioviva USA Inc. Elizabeth Parrish received two of her own company's experimental gene therapies: one to protect against loss of muscle mass with age, another to battle stem cell depletion responsible for diverse age-related diseases and infirmities." Bypassing America's FDA, the controversial therapies were described by the MIT Technology Review as "do-it-yourself medicine," saying it "raises ethical questions about how quickly such treatments should be tested in people and whether they ought to be developed outside the scrutiny of regulators." "The treatment was originally intended to demonstrate the safety of the latest generation of the therapies," reports Bioviva's web site. "But if early data is accurate, it is already the world's first successful example of telomere lengthening via gene therapy in a human individual."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon02:32 From Uber To Eric Schmidt, Tech Is Closer To the US Government Than You'd Think» Slashdot
An anonymous reader shares an article on The Guardian: Alphabet's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently joined a Department of Defense advisory panel. Facebook recently hired a former director at the U.S. military's research lab, Darpa. Uber employs Barack Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe and Amazon.com tapped his former spokesman Jay Carney. Google, Facebook, Uber and Apple collectively employ a couple of dozen former analysts for America's spy agencies, who openly list their resumes on LinkedIn. These connections are neither new nor secret. But the fact they are so accepted illustrates how tech's leaders -- even amid current fights over encryption and surveillance -- are still seen as mostly U.S. firms that back up American values. Christopher Soghoian, a technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, said low-level employees' government connections matter less than leading executives' ties to government. For instance, at least a dozen Google engineers have worked at the NSA, according to publicly available records on LinkedIn. And, this being Silicon Valley, not everyone who worked for a spy agency advertises that on LinkedIn. Soghoian, a vocal critic of mass surveillance, said Google hiring an ex-hacker for the NSA to work on security doesn't really bother him. "But Eric Schmidt having a close relationship with the White House does," he said.Danny Yadron, said, "What's worse for a Silicon Valley executive: ties to the Chinese military or friends in the US Defense Department?"

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Fri 22 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon17:04 Prince, remembered in 11 songs you might not know he wrote» kottke.org

You're probably aware of Sinead O'Conner's Nothing Compares 2 U but The Bangles, MC Hammer, Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, and others also made use of songs written by Prince.

Tags: Prince   music   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:00 OMG Prince doing James Brown on stage with James Brown is SO GOOD» kottke.org

Prince rides in on the back of a bearded man at around the 2:05 mark, yes you read that right. I had never seen this clip before and when he really gets going on stage, I started clapping and yelling in my apartment. Glorious. (via David Remnick at the New Yorker, who is almost annoyingly good at blogging)

Tags: James Brown   music   Prince   video
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Thu 21 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon19:56 Another week, another way to be assaulted by ads» Threadwatch.org

Just a week after Google started testing a very sneaky color change for ads in its European search results, they now appear to be testing ads in loca

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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon17:32 The Founder» kottke.org

The Founder is about the early years of McDonald's and how Ray Kroc (played by Michael Keaton) came to gain control of the company. The official McDonald's corporate history glosses over the events of the film in a few sentences:

In 1954, he visited a restaurant in San Bernardino, California that had purchased several Multi-mixers. There he found a small but successful restaurant run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, and was stunned by the effectiveness of their operation. They produced a limited menu, concentrating on just a few items-burgers, fries and beverages-which allowed them to focus on quality and quick service.

Kroc pitched his vision of creating McDonald's restaurants all over the U.S. to the brothers. In 1955, he founded McDonald's System, Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald's Corporation, and six years later bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald's name. By 1958, McDonald's had sold its 100 millionth hamburger.

Kroc's Wikipedia entry provides more flavor:

The agreement was a handshake with split agreement between the parties because Kroc insisted that he could not show the royalty to the investors he had lined up to capitalize his purchase. At the closing table, Kroc became annoyed that the brothers would not transfer to him the real estate and rights to the original unit. The brothers had told Kroc that they were giving the operation, property and all, to the founding employees. Kroc closed the transaction, then refused to acknowledge the royalty portion of the agreement because it wasn't in writing. The McDonald brothers consistently told Kroc that he could make changes to things like the original blueprint (building codes were different in Illinois than in California), but despite Ray's pleas, the brothers never sent any formal letters which legally allowed the changes in the chain. Kroc also opened a new McDonald's restaurant near the McDonald's (now renamed "The Big M" as they had neglected to retain rights to the name) to force it out of business.

See also some early McDonald's menus.

Tags: McDonald's   Michael Keaton   movies   Ray Kroc   The Founder   trailers   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon15:00 Famous paintings recreated with colorful masking tape» kottke.org

Nasa Funahara

Nasa Funahara

Nasa Funahara makes art out of colorful masking tape, including recreations of famous artworks.

Tags: art   Nasa Funahara   remix
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Wed 20 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon18:48 Pele: Birth of a Legend» kottke.org

Pele: Birth of a Legend is a biopic about the rise of Pele, the Brazilian footballer. It was written and directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, who also directed The Two Escobars, an excellent 30 for 30 film about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and Colombian footballer Andres Escobar. (via @ivanski)

Tags: Jeff Zimbalist   Michael Zimbalist   movies   Pele   soccer   sports   trailers   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:16 A color palette of human skin tones» kottke.org

Angelica Dass

Angélica Dass' Humanæ project matches photos of volunteer participants with the Pantone colors of their skin tones.

Update: Turns out this really cool blog you guys should be reading covered this project almost 4 years ago. (thx, @djacobs)

Tags: Angelica Dass   art   color   photography
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon15:00 The Concentric States of America» kottke.org

Concentric States

From Neil Freeman, proprietor of the excellent Fake is the New Real, a map of the continental United States with the 50 states reorganized into concentric circles of equal population.

See also the map accompanying Parag Khanna's recent piece, A New Map for America, which calls for the creation of seven mega-regions centered around metropolitan clusters in place of the lower 48 states: the Pacific Coast, the Inland West, the Great Plains, the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes, the Southeast Manufacturing Belt, and the Great Northeast.

7 States Of America

These days, in the thick of the American presidential primaries, it's easy to see how the 50 states continue to drive the political system. But increasingly, that's all they drive -- socially and economically, America is reorganizing itself around regional infrastructure lines and metropolitan clusters that ignore state and even national borders. The problem is, the political system hasn't caught up.

America faces a two-part problem. It's no secret that the country has fallen behind on infrastructure spending. But it's not just a matter of how much is spent on catching up, but how and where it is spent. Advanced economies in Western Europe and Asia are reorienting themselves around robust urban clusters of advanced industry. Unfortunately, American policy making remains wedded to an antiquated political structure of 50 distinct states.

To an extent, America is already headed toward a metropolis-first arrangement. The states aren't about to go away, but economically and socially, the country is drifting toward looser metropolitan and regional formations, anchored by the great cities and urban archipelagos that already lead global economic circuits.

Holy shit, could you imagine? Most of America would have a fit over this.

Tags: geography   maps   Neil Freeman   Parag Khanna   USA
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon14:50 Is Zombie Traffic Just Mis-Matched Traffic?» Threadwatch.org

For what feels like half a year or more, zombie traffic has been plaguing all sorts of websites.

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Tue 19 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon22:00 Viral dance moves, 2006-2016» kottke.org

In a video from the New Yorker, dancers from around the country demonstrate viral dance moves from the past decade, including the Dougie, Walk It Out, and Dabbing. (via @silviakillings)

Tags: dance   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon19:32 On technology, culture, and growing up in a small town» kottke.org

Rex Sorgatz grew up in a small and isolated town (physically, culturally) in North Dakota named Napoleon.

Out on the prairie, pop culture existed only in the vaguest sense. Not only did I never hear the Talking Heads or Public Enemy or The Cure, I could never have heard of them. With a radio receiver only able to catch a couple FM stations, cranking out classic rock, AC/DC to Aerosmith, the music counterculture of the '80s would have been a different universe to me. (The edgiest band I heard in high school was The Cars. "My Best Friend's Girl" was my avant-garde.)

Is this portrait sufficiently remote? Perhaps one more stat: I didn't meet a black person until I was 16, at a summer basketball camp. I didn't meet a Jewish person until I was 18, in college.

This was the Deep Midwest in the 1980s. I was a pretty clueless kid.

He recently returned there and found that the physical isolation hasn't changed, but thanks to the internet, the kids now have access to the full range of cultural activities and ideas from all over the world.

"Basically, this story is a controlled experiment," I continue. "Napoleon is a place that has remained static for decades. The economics, demographics, politics, and geography are the same as when I lived here. In the past twenty-five years, only one thing has changed: technology."

Rex is a friend and nearly every time we get together, we end up talking about our respective small town upbringings and how we both somehow managed to escape. My experience wasn't quite as isolated as Rex's -- I lived on a farm until I was 9 but then moved to a small town of 2500 people; plus my dad flew all over the place and the Twin Cities were 90 minutes away by car -- but was similar in many ways. The photo from his piece of the rusted-out orange car buried in the snow could have been taken in the backyard of the house I grew up in, where my dad still lives. Kids listened to country, top 40, or heavy metal music. I didn't see Star Wars or Empire in a theater. No cable TV until I was 14 or 15. No AP classes until I was a senior. Aside from a few Hispanics and a family from India, everyone was white and Protestant. The FFA was huge in my school. I had no idea about rap music or modernism or design or philosophy or Andy Warhol or 70s film or atheism. I didn't know what I didn't know and had very little way of finding out.

I didn't even know I should leave. But somehow I got out. I don't know about Rex, but "escape" is how I think of it. I was lucky enough to excel at high school and got interest from schools from all over the place. My dad urged me to go to college...I was thinking about getting a job (probably farming or factory work) or joining the Navy with a friend. That's how clueless I was...I knew so little about the world that I didn't know who I was in relation to it. My adjacent possible just didn't include college even though it was the best place for a kid like me.

In college in an Iowan city of 110,000, I slowly discovered what I'd been missing. Turns out, I was a city kid who just happened to grow up in a small town. I met other people from all over the country and, in time, from all over the world. My roommate sophomore year was black.1 I learned about techno music and programming and photography and art and classical music and LGBT and then the internet showed up and it was game over. I ate it all up and never got full. And like Rex:

Napoleon had no school newspaper, and minimal access to outside media, so I had no conception of "the publishing process." Pitching an idea, assigning a story, editing and rewriting -- all of that would have baffled me. I had only ever seen a couple of newspapers and a handful of magazines, and none offered a window into its production. (If asked, I would have been unsure if writers were even paid, which now seems prescient.) Without training or access, but a vague desire to participate, boredom would prove my only edge. While listlessly paging through the same few magazines over and over, I eventually discovered a semi-concealed backdoor for sneaking words onto the hallowed pages of print publications: user-generated content.

That's the ghastly term we use (or avoid using) today for non-professional writing submitted by readers. What was once a letter to the editor has become a comment; editorials, now posts. The basic unit persists, but the quantity and facility have matured. Unlike that conspicuous "What's on your mind?" input box atop Facebook, newspapers and magazines concealed interaction with readers, reluctant of the opinions of randos. But if you were diligent enough to find the mailing address, often sequestered deep in the back pages, you could submit letters of opinion and other ephemera.

I eventually found the desire to express myself. Using a copy of Aldus PhotoStyler I had gotten from who knows where, I designed party flyers for DJ friends' parties. I published a one-sheet periodical for the residents of my dorm floor, to be read in the bathroom. I made meme-y posters2 which I hung around the physics department. I built a homepage that just lived on my hard drive because our school didn't offer web hosting space and I couldn't figure out how to get an account elsewhere.3 Well, you know how that last bit turned out, eventually.4

  1. The fall of my senior year, he returned from a weekend at home in Chicago with a VHS tape in tow. He popped it into a friend's VCR and said, "you're about to see a future NBA star." And we all watched some highlights of an 18-year-old Kevin Garnett he'd taped off the local news station.

  2. One was a Beavis and Butthead sign warning people not to eat in the lab. Another was a "Jurassic Doc" poster featuring my thesis advisor who we all called "Doc".

  3. I eventually figured this out.

  4. Robin Sloan is right: it's tough to end things on the internet. Especially self-indulgent autobiographical rambling. Apologies. We now return to your regularly scheduled interestingness presented with minimal commentary.

Tags: Jason Kottke   Rex Sorgatz
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon17:09 Hilariously bad phone number web forms» kottke.org

Stelian Firez recently shared a really boneheaded web form for entering your phone number:

Phone Num Forms

Soon afterward, several people attempted to conjure up even more cumbersome ways to ask people for phone numbers:

Phone Num Forms

Phone Num Forms 03

Phone Num Forms 04

Phone Num Forms 05

"Solutions" by Jeff Bonhag, Paulo Gaspar, Dan Kozikowski, and Justin. (via @ftrain)

Tags: Stelian Firez   web development
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon14:48 Rival Chinese construction firms battle with bulldozers» kottke.org

Worries over the slowing Chinese economy spilled out into the streets of Hebei province last weekend as two construction firms battled with bulldozers while competing for the same business. That is some end-times shit right there.

Tags: China   economics   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon12:16 Big business pushes back against small minded governance» kottke.org

In his 1975 song Jungleland, Bruce Springsteen laments, "the poets down here don't write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be." I was reminded of that line when Springsteen canceled his North Carolina concert to protest the state's recently passed bathroom law. In this case, the poet wrote. While it's not unusual for musicians and other artists to use their public podiums for protest, it's less common for corporations to do the same. At least, that used to be the case. But recently, many top CEOs are using their corporate muscle to influence social and political decisions across the country. When you wondered who would stand up for individual and equal rights in America, it's unlikely that you thought of the The Boss and The Man. Here's The New Yorker's James Surowiecki with more on these unlikely alliances.

Syndicated from NextDraft. Subscribe today or grab the iOS app.

Tags: Bruce Springsteen   business   James Surowiecki   politics
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Mon 18 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon22:16 String Theory, David Foster Wallace on Tennis» kottke.org

Roger Federer

String Theory, a collection of David Foster Wallace's writings on tennis will be out next month.1 The five pieces in the book include his NY Times' essay on Federer and a 1991 piece from Harper's. John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote an introduction, which was published recently in the New Yorker.

The collection is also available on the Kindle, without the Sullivan intro.

  1. Hi, this is a footnote. Because Wallace. That's it.

Tags: books   David Foster Wallace   John Jeremiah Sullivan   Roger Federer   sports   String Theory   tennis
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon19:49 Super-trippy images and animations created for The Simpsons on FXX» kottke.org
Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon18:48 The Birth of a Nation» kottke.org

Written, produced, and directed by Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation is a film about Nat Turner, the man who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. The movie won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year and will be out in theaters in October.

P.S. If the name of the movie sounds familiar, it was deliberately given the same name as D.W. Griffith's 1915 silent film, which dramatized the formation of the Ku Klux Klan. In an interview, Parker said:

When I endeavored to make this film, I did so with the specific intent of exploring America through the context of identity. So much of the racial injustices we endure today in America are symptomatic of a greater sickness - one we have been systematically conditioned to ignore. From sanitized truths about our forefathers to mis-education regarding this country's dark days of slavery, we have refused to honestly confront the many afflictions of our past. This disease of denial has served as a massive stumbling block on our way to healing from those wounds. Addressing Griffith's Birth of a Nation is one of the many steps necessary in treating this disease. Griffith's film relied heavily on racist propaganda to evoke fear and desperation as a tool to solidify white supremacy as the lifeblood of American sustenance. Not only did this film motivate the massive resurgence of the terror group the Ku Klux Klan and the carnage exacted against people of African descent, it served as the foundation of the film industry we know today.

I've reclaimed this title and re-purposed it as a tool to challenge racism and white supremacy in America, to inspire a riotous disposition toward any and all injustice in this country (and abroad) and to promote the kind of honest confrontation that will galvanize our society toward healing and sustained systemic change.

(via trailer town)

Tags: D.W. Griffith   movies   Nat Turner   Nate Parker   racism   slavery   The Birth of a Nation   trailers   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon17:32 Amazon now offering monthly Prime subscriptions» kottke.org

Amazon is now offering the ability to subscribe to Prime and Prime Video monthly rather than just yearly. Prime Video is $8.99/mo (Netflix is going up to $9.99/mo soon) and the full Prime offering is $10.99/mo. A year of Prime is still $99.

In Prime Video, Amazon has built a worthy competitor to Netflix. And it actually might be better at this point. The stable of impressive Netflix originals aside (which Amazon is also doing *cough* Transparent *cough* best show in years), Amazon allows you to rent/buy digital movies not available for free streaming1, provides discounts for subscriptions to Showtime and Starz, and (if you opt for the full Prime) offers free shipping on most stuff in the store (as well as other benefits.) I sub to both services, but if I had to make a choice right now, I'd probably stick with Amazon.

  1. What Amazon should do, to really sweeten the deal (if the movie studios would allow such a thing), is offer Prime-only discounts on renting and buying digital movies and shows. So not only would you get a bunch of free streaming movies, you can rent new-to-video movies, and they're cheaper than at iTunes. That's something that Netflix can't offer right now. I wonder if they'll add a digital video store to their offering to compete?

Tags: Amazon   business   movies   Netflix   TV
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:16 Animation of the Titanic striking an iceberg and sinking in realtime» kottke.org

When the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912, it took the ship 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink. I don't necessarily know why you would want to, but now you can watch a highly detailed animation of the ship sinking in realtime, all 2h 40m. I can't quite figure out if this is appropriate or not, although when I think about the inevitable realtime 9/11 version, perhaps it isn't.

Tags: Titanic   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:13 How Important is Site Speed? When Does it Become Important?» Threadwatch.org

Debating whether or not site speed is a ranking factor is a popular pastime on SEO Chat.

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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon15:00 Super Mario Bros speedrun record broken» kottke.org

NES player darbian just broke his own record for the fastest time through Super Mario Bros. He completed the entire game in just 4 minutes 57.260 seconds. But the most entertaining part of the video is watching his heart rate slowly creep up from 80 bpm at the beginning to ~140 bpm in World 8-2 and spiking to 171 bpm when he beats the record. (via digg)

Update: Compare that with this insane level from Mario Maker:

(via @pieratt)

Tags: Super Mario Bros   video   video games
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Fri 15 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon19:00 A bunch of great educational-ish iPad apps for kids» kottke.org

Kids iPad apps

In this post about Minecraft yesterday, I wrote a footnote about educational-ish1 apps on my iPad:

On my iPad, I have a screen full of educational apps that the kids can work with pretty much anytime they want without asking.

I posted a screenshot of that page on Twitter, and I wanted to follow up with some App Store links as well as some links to other apps that people tweeted back at me. (Note: my kids are 6 and 8, so YMMV.)

Minecraft Pocket Edition - Duh. It doesn't do quite as much as the full versions available on other platforms, but they're improving and adding stuff all the time and the touchscreen experience is great.

The Tinybop Collection - Beautiful, fun apps. The kids most often work with The Everything Machine and Simple Machines.

Mate in 1 - A game that challenges you to find the checkmate using just one move. Ollie takes chess after school once a week, so I downloaded this for when he wants some extra practice during the week. See also Mate in 2.

Monument Valley - This is a straight-up game, but it's so well-made (I love the soundtrack) and the logic puzzles are genuinely challenging that I'm happy to let them work with this one. Ollie has made it all the way through while Minna is still on level 9. Gonna get the Forgotten Shores IAP too.

The Numberlys - This one has ceased to be educational for my kids, but it's great for the younger set.

Crazy Gears - 99 levels of mechanical puzzles involving gears.

Hopscotch - Use an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to build games. It includes many video tutorials for learning how everything works.

And here are a few recommendations from others that I am eager to try out:

Quick Math Pack - Four math apps, including multiplication, fractions, and telling time. See also Prodigy Math Game, The Counting Kingdom, the DragonBox apps.

Barefoot World Atlas - An annotated world atlas. This looks great...downloading now.

Epic! - A eBook library for kids 12 and under with 10,000 titles. A couple of very strong recommendations from people for this.

Brain It On - Draw shapes to solve challenging physics puzzles. See also LiquidSketch.

Endless Reader - For beginning readers. The same company, Originator Inc., has many other apps as well.

Professor Astro Cat's Solar System - Learn about the solar system with a cat and mouse as tour guides.

Deep Green - Top-notch chess game.

Lots of good stuff there...I've downloaded a few already. I really really wish the App Store had a try-before-you buy policy. I have no idea which of these apps the kids will actually like/play and it would be nice not to have to spend $50 to find out. Anyway, thanks to everyone who shared their favorites. Let me know if I've missed anything great!

  1. As you might have guessed from reading this here web site, I tend to have an expansive definition of what is educational. Hence, "educational-ish" to adjust people's expectations.

Tags: education   iPad apps   video games
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:32 Speaking is Difficult» kottke.org

From The Intercept and director A.J. Schnack, a simple and powerful short film about more than a dozen mass shootings that have occurred in the US since 2011.

A scene of tragedy unfolds, accompanied by fear, chaos and disbelief. As Speaking is Difficult rewinds into the past, retracing our memories, it tells a story about a cumulative history that is both unbearable and inevitable.

Fuck, that was difficult to watch. When Sandy Hook came up, I just lost it. We should be deeply deeply ashamed that that happened and we did nothing about it.

Tags: A.J. Schnack   crying at work   guns   USA   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon15:23 How NYC gets its water» kottke.org

NYC water tastes amazing. Better than bottled. Where does the city get such great water from?

The Catskill/Delaware watershed, which extends 125 miles northwest of the city, provides more than 90 percent of the city's supply. The rest comes from the Croton watershed.

Nyc Water Aqueduct

It can take 12 weeks to a year for water to wind its way to the city from the streams, tunnels, dams and reservoirs in the Catskills. All of it is delivered to the city by gravity alone.

"Gravity's an important friend of ours," said Mr. Rush, the deputy commissioner, explaining that it "works nonstop" and is "energy efficient."

Whoa, I had no idea the aqueduct tunneled 1000 feet under the Hudson River. Water systems have been in the news lately, both in Flint, MI and here in NYC, where Mayor de Blasio postponed work on Water Tunnel #3 and then, a day later, responding to public concern over the postponement, announced that he was going to accelerate the work on Tunnel #3.

See also David Grann's classic 2003 New Yorker piece about the NYC water system, City of Water.

The author accompanied a group of sandhogs and nine cases of dynamite six hundred feet down a shaft leading to a segment of the tunnel that lies below Tenth Ave. and 13th St. New York's invisible underground empire goes as deep as the Chrysler building is high. Tunnel No. 3 has been under construction since 1969; it will extend sixty miles, from the reservoir in Yonkers to the end of Manhattan, with various redundant loops.

Tags: David Grann   NYC   water
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Thu 14 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon22:16 Terrorism, surveillance, civil liberties... pick two?» kottke.org

Kurzgesagt examines what's happened to our privacy, civil liberties, and security because of the threat of terrorism.

Tags: security   terrorism   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon21:25 Google going green! (the bad kind)» Threadwatch.org

In the last few years, the ads at the top of the SERPs have gotten more and more similar in appearance to organic results.

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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon21:00 For the Love of Spock» kottke.org

For the Love of Spock is a documentary about Leonard Nimoy and the beloved character he played on Star Trek. Nimoy's son Adam is the director, the film was funded with the help of Kickstarter, and is playing at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend (with special guest appearance by Zachary Quinto).

Tags: Adam Nimoy   For the Love of Spock   Leonard Nimoy   movies   Star Trek   trailers   video   Zachary Quinto
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon18:48 The inadvertent cinematography of police body cameras» kottke.org

Body cameras, dashboard cams, and bystander videos all offer different views of police officers doing their jobs, which underscores the importance of perspective in skewing our perceptions of what's happening. For instance, body cams can tend to put you in the shoes of the wearer.

These details were not captured by the police body camera, though, revealing another important point: Body cameras prioritize the officer's point of view.

"When video allows us to look through someone's eyes, we tend to adopt an interpretation that favors that person," Professor Stoughton said, explaining a psychological phenomenon known as "camera perspective bias."

Thanks to Reed for sending me the link and pointing out the connection to how film directors use the camera to tell stories effectively:
The importance of composition in cinematic storytelling
and "What a film director really directs is the audience's attention." What are these law enforcement surveillance cameras inadvertently directing our attention to?

Tags: legal   movies
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon17:32 Minecraft: more than just a game» kottke.org

Minecraft Niemann

Clive Thompson's article for the NY Times about Minecraft captures what many players, parents, and teachers find exciting about the game that seems like more than just a game.

Presto: Jordan had used the cow's weird behavior to create, in effect, a random-number generator inside Minecraft. It was an ingenious bit of problem-solving, something most computer engineers I know would regard as a great hack -- a way of coaxing a computer system to do something new and clever.

In addition to learning about logic and computer science, various educators have also touted Minecraft's lessons in civics, design, planning, and even philosophy. If you've ever seen little kids playing with blocks, you've noticed that some of those potential lessons there too.

Block-play was, in the European tradition, regarded as a particularly "wholesome" activity; it's not hard to draw a line from that to many parents' belief that Minecraft is the "good" computer game in a world full of anxiety about too much "screen time."

Among the parents I know, Minecraft is not classified as a game...it's very much tied to education.1 And when listening to the kids and their friends talk about it, if you can get past the endless chatter about zombies and diamond armor, their understanding of the whole world of possibilities is quite sophisticated.

And I can't resist commenting on this little aside about Lego:

Today many cultural observers argue that Lego has moved away from that open-ended engagement, because it's so often sold in branded kits: the Hogwarts castle from "Harry Potter," the TIE fighter from "Star Wars."

Until very recently, I was in that camp of cultural observers, frustrated by the brands and paint-by-number aspect of contemporary Lego kits. But my kids play with Lego a ton and I've observed plenty of open-ended engagement going on. Sure, they sit for 20-30 minutes putting the kits together using directions, but after they're "done", the real play begins. Ollie's Star Wars ships dock at Minna's birthday party. Soon, beach goers are wearing Stormtrooper helmets and Vader's eating cupcakes. None of the "finished" products survive more than a few minutes without being augmented or taken apart to make something different. Ships take on wheels from previous kits and become delivery trucks (with cool laser cannons). Parts from every station, house, vehicle, and landscape get remixed into whatever's necessary for their dramatic play. It's like jazz with injection molded plastic.

  1. On my iPad, I have a screen full of educational apps that the kids can work with pretty much anytime they want without asking. (To play Alto's Adventure or Subway Surfer, they have to ask.) Minecraft is not on this screen -- and I had to explain my decision on this specifically to the kids -- but this article may have persuaded me to add it.

Tags: Clive Thompson   education   Legos   Minecraft   video games
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:16 A Prank Time!» kottke.org

This animation is super-freaky and somewhat NSFW and you should just watch it. Also: and that's why you always leave a note. (via @gavinpurcell)

Tags: NSFW   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon15:00 The making of Zootopia» kottke.org

From Fusion, a 45-minute documentary about the making of Zootopia.

Fusion spent two years with the production team of Disney's smash hit film. In 'Imagining Zootopia,' you will travel with the team to Africa to explore the animals in their natural habitat and find out how the storytellers and animators dealt with the very real themes of prejudice and bias.

I found this via Khoi Vinh, who writes:

A lot of careful thought went into how to render the emotional truth behind experiencing racism, and the documentary takes a detailed look at the filmmakers grappling with that. However, it also betrays one of the unfortunate truths of the production; the movie is commendably bold about addressing prejudice, but it's evident from watching the documentary that of the five-hundred plus people who contributed to the film, hardly any were non-white, and even fewer were African-American.

For a criticism of Zootopia's racial allegory, read Devin Faraci's A Muddled Mess of Racial Messaging... And Cute Animals.

Tags: Devin Faraci   Khoi Vinh   movies   racism   video   Zootopia
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Wed 13 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon22:00 The Old New World» kottke.org

Alexey Zakharov gathered old photos of New York, Washington D.C. and other American cities from Shorpy and animated them into something wonderful. There's a cheesy steampunk time machine at the beginning...push through that to the good stuff. (via @pshoplifter)

Tags: Alexey Zakharov   NYC   photography   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon20:48 Weird 80s font convergence» kottke.org

Just learned/realized that the old logos for Reebok, Apple, and Trapper Keeper all use the same typeface, Motter Tektura.

Motter Tektura

Motter Tektura

Motter Tektura

(via @pieratt)

Tags: Apple   design   logos   Reebok   Trapper Keeper   typography
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon18:16 Charles Dickens, Star Wars, and the genre of serialization» kottke.org

In a new video, Even Puschak talks about the rise of the serialization genre, from Dickens to Flash Gordon to General Hospital to Star Wars. Now that our entertainment is increasingly serialized, he argues that audiences have a unique opportunity to shape what we watch. (Case in point: the increased importance of non-white and non-male characters in The Force Awakens and Rogue One.)

Further reading: Wired's You Won't Live to See the Final Star Wars Movie, which I've thought about almost every week since I read it.

Everywhere, studio suits are recruiting creatives who can weave characters and story lines into decades-spanning tapestries of prequels, side-quels, TV shows, games, toys, and so on. Brand awareness goes through the roof; audiences get a steady, soothing mainline drip of familiar characters.

Forget the business implications for a moment, though. The shared universe represents something rare in Hollywood: a new idea. It evolved from the narrative techniques not of auteur or blockbuster films but of comic books and TV, and porting that model over isn't easy. It needs different kinds of writers and directors and a different way of looking at the structure of storytelling itself. Marvel prototyped the process; Lucasfilm is trying to industrialize it.

And Puschak recommends Consuming Pleasures by Jennifer Hayward.

Ranging from installment novels, mysteries, and detective fiction of the 1800s to the television and movie series, comics, and advertisements of the twentieth century, serials are loosely linked by what may be called "family resemblances." These traits include intertwined subplots, diverse casts of characters, dramatic plot reversals, suspense, an such narrative devices as long-lost family members and evil twins. Hayward chooses four texts to represent the evolution of serial fiction as a genre and to analyze the peculiar draw that serials have upon their audiences: Dickens's novel Our Mutual Friend, Milton Canif's comic strip Terry and the Pirates, and the soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live. Hayward argues that serial audiences have developed active strategies of consumption, such as collaborative reading and attempts to shape the production process. In this way fans have forced serial producers to acknowledge the power of the audience.

All this makes me realize that I've often thought of kottke.org as a serial. The "family resemblances" amongst all my posts might be difficult to see sometimes, but it's there most of the time. In my mind, at least.

Tags: books   Charles Dickens   Consuming Pleasures   Evan Puschak   Jennifer Hayward   movies   Star Wars
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon17:00 Animated virus trading cards» kottke.org
Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon15:48 Hamilton: now in book form» kottke.org

Hamilton The Book

The Broadway musical Hamilton is having a bit of a moment right now. Ok, not really. Lin-Manuel Miranda's smash hit has seemingly had one loooong moment since he performed "Alexander Hamilton" in front of the President and Mrs. Obama at the White House in 2009.

The show is sold out1 until who knows when, the original cast album went gold and won a Grammy, and they're doing spin-off productions in Chicago, LA, and SF -- all this scarcely more than a year since Rebecca Mead wrote up Miranda and Hamilton in the New Yorker.2 Bernie Sanders took in the show last week. And this week, a book about the production of the play came out.

Hamilton: The Revolution gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages -- "since before this was even a show," according to Miranda -- traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Add to that a flurry of articles (several from the NY Times, which has a dedicated staff of 162 reporters on the beat) that came out in the past week or so: Why Hamilton Matters, Lin-Manuel Miranda: By the Book (he's never finished Infinite Jest), 'Hamilton' and History: Are They in Sync?, A Hamilton Skeptic on Why the Show Isn't As Revolutionary As It Seems, and The C.E.O. of 'Hamilton' Inc. How much bigger can this thing get?

Update: And now Miranda has won a Pulitzer.

  1. Hey, if anyone's got a ticket and wants to take me, I'm free literally any time/day/year. Hahahaha. No seriously, email me. Hahaha. (No, really. AFTER ALL I'VE DONE FOR YOU UNGRATEFUL MOTH

  2. You know who else Mead wrote up in the New Yorker many years ago?! Hint: it's not actually Hitler this time...

Tags: Bernie Sanders   books   Hamilton   Lin-Manuel Miranda   music   musicals   Rebecca Mead   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon15:22 How Does Amazon Rank Products?» Threadwatch.org

Ever find yourself wondering?

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Tue 12 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon20:32 The link between health and wealth» kottke.org

If you're poor, you might want to consider moving to a place where your life expectancy will be reasonably high. In many parts of America, there is only a minor gap between the life expectancies of the wealthy and the poor.

But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter.

If you're rich, you're probably OK right where you are (regardless of where that happens to be). Here are some remarkable numbers from the NYT Upshot: The rich live longer everywhere. For the poor, geography matters.

Syndicated from NextDraft. Subscribe today or grab the iOS app.

Tags: economics
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon18:00 Launching a fleet of nano-probes toward nearest star» kottke.org

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, with the help of Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerburg, plans to launch a fleet of nano-probes1 toward a star close to our solar system, Alpha Centuri. The craft, outfitted with lightsails, will be pushed along to their destination in just 20 years by powerful lasers on Earth.

In the last decade and a half, rapid technological advances have opened up the possibility of light-powered space travel at a significant fraction of light speed. This involves a ground-based light beamer pushing ultra-light nanocrafts - miniature space probes attached to lightsails - to speeds of up to 100 million miles an hour. Such a system would allow a flyby mission to reach Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years from launch, and beam home images of possible planets, as well as other scientific data such as analysis of magnetic fields.

Breakthrough Starshot aims to demonstrate proof of concept for ultra-fast light-driven nanocrafts, and lay the foundations for a first launch to Alpha Centauri within the next generation. Along the way, the project could generate important supplementary benefits to astronomy, including solar system exploration and detection of Earth-crossing asteroids.

The Atlantic and the NY Times have more information on the initiative.

  1. Sure, we can launch laser-powered nano-probes toward a distant star, but humanity still struggles with proper descriptive URLs.

Tags: astronomy   Breakthrough Starshot   Mark Zuckerberg   space   Stephen Hawking   Yuri Milner
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:48 A brief history of America and Cuba» kottke.org

As the US and Cuba move toward becoming BFFs again (or at least members of the same #squad), it's a good time to review the history between the two countries, which includes slavery, the Spanish-American War, and the Cold War-era series of fiascos.

Tags: Cuba   USA   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon14:16 Photos of the San Francisco earthquake 110 years ago» kottke.org

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the resulting fires destroyed 500 blocks, 25,000 buildings, killed more than 3000 people, and left more than half the city homeless. Alan Taylor curated a selection of photos of the earthquake and aftermath. The most striking ones are those taken from an airship that show how complete and extensive the destruction was. I mean:

SF earthquake

Tags: Alan Taylor   earthquakes   photography   San Francisco
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Mon 11 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon22:16 NBA GM resigns with a thoroughly thinkfluenced letter» kottke.org

Sam Hinkie recently resigned as general manager of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. His resignation letter took the form of an investor letter, a la Warren Buffett's annual letters. Before he gets down to basketball specifics, Hinkie spends several pages explaining his philosophy. Along with Buffett and his business partner Charlie Munger, Hinkie mentions in this introductory section Atul Gawande, Elon Musk, Bill James, James Clerk Maxwell, Bill Belichick, Jeff Bezos, Tim Urban (whom he suggests the Sixers owners should meet for coffee), AlphaGo, and Slack (the Sixers' front office uses it). He even quotes Steven Johnson about the adjacent possible:

A yearning for innovation requires real exploration. It requires a persistent search to try (and fail) to move your understanding forward with a new tool, a new technique, a new insight. Sadly, the first innovation often isn't even all that helpful, but may well provide a path to ones that are. This is an idea that Steven Johnson of Where Good Ideas Come From popularized called the "adjacent possible." Where finding your way through a labyrinth of ignorance requires you to first open a door into a room of understanding, one that by its very existence has new doors to new rooms with deeper insights lurking behind them.

If I didn't know any better, I'd guess that Hinkie is a regular kottke.org reader. (via farnum street)

Tags: basketball   business   Sam Hinkie   sports   Steven Johnson   Warren Buffett
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon21:00 "HELP" sign on deserted beach works» kottke.org

Help Island Rescue

It did not work for Gilligan and the Skipper, but writing "HELP" with palm fronds on the beach got three men rescued from a deserted island in the Pacific.

A Navy P-8 Madfox 807 aircrew from Misawa Air Base in Japan was conducting a search pattern for the missing mariners when they spotted survivors holding lifejackets and their makeshift sign. This information was relayed back to search and rescue watchstanders in Guam and shared with the family. The survivors were then picked up and transferred by a local small boat to Pulap.

Update: A woman in Arizona was rescued a few days ago in part because of a HELP sign she wrote with sticks.

Help Forest Rescue

(via @mchamblin)


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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon18:48 Unbelievably clear recording of Louis Armstrong from 1929» kottke.org

If they survive at all, recordings of a lot of older music (pre-50s or -60s) don't sound great because they were taken from old records that aren't in the best shape. This 1929 recording of Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra playing Ain't Misbehavin' was taken from what's called a "mother record", a metal disc that's produced from the master disc. As you can hear, recording directly from a mother gives you an incredibly crisp and clear result:

Wow. It sounds so much better than the same song recorded in a more conventional way:

We're so conditioned to hearing 90-year-old music with that muddy record hiss that the mother recording is a revelation, like seeing early color photography and film.

Tags: Louis Armstrong   music   video
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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:58 Google Swats Unnatural Outbound Links With Latest Round of Manual Actions» Threadwatch.org

Bloggers are feelin' the pain after this weekend when Google sent out a new round of manual actions punishing unnatural outbound links.

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Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon16:16 How a car engine works» kottke.org

How a car engine works

From Jacob O'Neal, a great series of animated GIFs about how internal combustion engines work. There are separate animations of the fuel, air, cooling, oil, electrical, and exhaust systems.

See also O'Neal's animations on how a jet engine works and how a handgun works.

Tags: Jacob O'Neal
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Wed 06 April, 2016

Click here to bookmark this link.Source favicon13:30 Google's 3-Pack Tests Review Snippets» Threadwatch.org

Could this be a gift to make up for the loss of the sidebar ads? Google is testing snippets that show a single, randomly chosen review underneath ads in the 3-pack.

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