Sky News bans reporters from retweeting from "professional" accounts

Sky News has issued guidance to its reporters on their Twitter use. Under the new policy, Sky reporters are prohibited from retweeting from rival journalists and the public (though they are allowed to retweet each other). They are also not allowed to tweet about subjects that aren't their beat. Finally, they're prohibited from "personal" tweets in their professional accounts. The leaked memo describes the rubric for this as "ensur[ing] that our journalism is joined up across platforms, there is sufficient editorial control of stories reported by Sky News journalists and that the news desks remain the central hub for information going out on all our stories."

Sky News has cultivated a reputation for digital innovation and has used Twitter to break news on events including the Arab Spring uprising and England riots. Journalists at the broadcaster expressed shock and dismay at the new guidelines, which they claim are a retrograde step.

...[The memo] added that "on a number of occasions" those guidelines have been flouted "resulting in us running different information on Twitter other Sky platforms or the news desks learning from Twitter details that should have been first passed on to them".

Sky News clamps down on Twitter use (via Memex 1.1)

The making of a kid's app: Counting Box Pro

Last week, Tom Klimchak emailed me with a link to a counting box app he made for his son. He said he'd been inspired by Cory's post about Nathan's beautiful wooden cased Kid's Counting Box (above), so I asked Tom to write about how he developed the app and the things he learned while developing it. Here's his excellent essay -- Mark

Last summer I read about Nathan's Kid's Counting Box (above) on Boing Boing and MAKE at about the same time I was teaching myself how to create iPhone apps. I'd bought myself a Mac for Father's Day a few months before and I had a bunch of ideas for little apps and was trying to decide which to start when I read about the electronic counting box.

There was something completely captivating about a beautifully crafted wooden box that uses a bright electronic display for such a simple and pure purpose as adding or subtracting one number to another. That being said, I think I would have ignored the Counting Box article if not for the impressive looking craftsmanship. It would never have caught my attention if it was just an LED display in a plastic project box, but the wood surface with the rounded joints just captured my imagination.

I was one of those kids that loved to press the equal sign on the calculator over and over, watching the total slowly grow larger. My own 4-year-old son is the same way. As much as I loved the idea of making a Counting Box of my own I knew that my electronic and woodshop skills really weren't up to par for such an ambitious project.

I showed the box to my son and he said it looked "cool" and that put the gears in motion. I pieced together a simple little app in about 10 minutes that would add 1 or subtract 1 from a total and handed the iPhone to my son. He immediately grasped the concept and began hitting the green button like crazy, being fascinated whenever the leading digit changed. He was still playing and asking questions about the numbers 20 minutes later, so I figured it was something worth pursuing.

It was a neat little app, but it didn't have the same feel of wonder as a real wood Counting Box that you can hold in your hand. So I started working on the graphics. I originally tried a brushed steel background, but it looked like a weird alien calculator. I went back to the wood box theme.

Read the rest

Three Tibetan herders burn themselves alive in protest

The crisis among ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan Province continues: "three livestock herders set themselves on fire to protest what they saw as political and religious repression at the hands of the Chinese authorities," reports the New York Times, bringing the total number of such self-immolations over the past year to 19, "an unprecedented wave of self-inflicted violence among the tiny ethnic minority in China."

New Yorker long-read on gay student who killed himself after his roommate webcam-spied on him

"That September, Tyler Clementi and Ravi were freshman roommates at Rutgers University, in a dormitory three miles from the courtroom. A few weeks into the semester, Ravi and another new student, Molly Wei, used a webcam to secretly watch Clementi in an embrace with a young man. Ravi gossiped about him on Twitter: 'I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.' Two days later, Ravi tried to set up another viewing. The day after that, Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge." From The Story of a Suicide, in the New Yorker.

"What breast cancer is, and is not"

[Video Link]

The Komen kerfuffle that inspired this video may soon pass from the headlines, but for people living with the disease, breast cancer—and the fight for dignity, survival, and a cure— is forever. I now count myself among them.

I watched this video many times this weekend, while recovering from the most recent round of chemotherapy. The video was created by Linda Burger, identified in various news accounts as a 56-year-old woman who lives in Las Vegas, NV.

"Linda in Las Vegas," you are my hero. Thank you.

Why is it more interesting to spend an evening with this book than a beautiful woman?

Screen Shot 2012-02-07 At 3.38.44 Pm

(Via This isn't Happiness)

Apps for Kids interview

201202071532 Libsyn kindly featured Apps for Kids as its "Rockin' New Podcast" of the week, and interviewed me about it.

Why did you start podcasting?

I started Apps for Kids because my 8-year-old daughter Jane and I like to play games on the iPhone and iPad together. We have a lot of fun checking out new apps, and then seeing if we can beat each other's high scores. My friends who have kids of their own were always asking Jane and me what apps they should download, and so I thought maybe we should share that advice to a larger audience. So we started Apps for Kids, and people seem to really like it
Rockin' New libsyn Podcasts: Apps For Kids

The Amish Project

[Video Link] A young man disconnects from the "cloud" for 90 days, on a mission to reboot his connection with the world and the people he loves in it. (via Joe Sabia)

Black atheist group calls for ‘Day Of Solidarity’ during Black history month

[Video Link]

Members of the Black skeptics organization African Americans For Humanism (AAH) are planning events on Feb. 26 in six major U.S. cities, "targeting African-Americans who have privately or openly questioned their faith." The group holds religion responsible for “many of the problems plaguing the African American community” and promotes “rational and scientific methods of inquiry” that include “positive thinking, the sharing of ideas, and enlightened self-interest.”

Errol Morris' short documentary about the five-time champion of the Philadelphia Wing Bowl eating competition

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A double treat from Errol Morris: a short video documentary about a man who calls himself the Wingador, the five-time champion of the Philadelphia Wing Bowl eating competition, and an accompanying essay about Morris' fascination with "champion eaters."

I have been fascinated by champion eaters for over 30 years.

When I was in Berkeley, Calif., in the 1970s I made a pilgrimage to Oakland to visit Eddie Miller, known as Bozo, the world champion chicken-eater. Bozo was in the Guinness World Records book for eating 27 two-pound roast chickens in one sitting. A remarkable feat of gluttony. I remember trying to tell my friend Alice Waters about Bozo, and she clamped her hands over her ears and said, “I just can’t listen to this kind of thing. It’s against everything I stand for.”

Bozo reminded me of Kafka’s Hunger Artist — except in his case it wasn’t fasting, it was the exact opposite. Also, I loved the fact that Bozo called his daughters Cooky, Candy and Honey, and that there was a framed cross-stitched sampler next to his front door that read, “NOTHING EXCEEDS LIKE EXCESS.”

El Wingador

Die Antwoord on Letterman (and Letterman on Die Antwoord)

[Video Link]. “ God...” —David Letterman.

Die Antwoord's new album, TEN$ION, is out today.

(via Clayton Cubitt)

Tuning in to ambient urban sound: Alex Braidwood's "Listening Instruments"

[Video Link, via LAist]

Los Angeles area radio station KPCC produced this lovely video portrait of designer, educator, and media artist Alex Braidwood. His work "explores methods for transforming the relationship between people and the noise in their environment." In the video, you'll see Alex wearing what I believe may be his Noisolation Headphones, "an invention for mechanically transforming the relationship between a person and the noise that immediately surrounds them." His video about that project is below.

Homemade astronaut ice cream instructions

[Video Link] Rachel Hobson says:

Ever since I was a kid, I've adored the crunchy/creamy sweet treat of astronaut ice cream. Now that I live just five minutes from Johnson Space Center, the freeze-dried confection is the top request when we take visiting friends to the gift shop at Space Center Houston. There is just something idyllic and iconic about the space-age dessert. Ben Krasnow shows how you can build a freeze dryer to sublimate the water from regular ice cream to turn it in to the crunchy astronaut ice cream we all know and love. Bonus point for the mix of science and sugar!
Homemade astronaut ice cream instructions

Muslim man's motivational text to colleagues leads to terror probe

On Jan. 21, 2011, 40-year-old telecommunications sales manager Saad Allami of Quebec sent a text message to colleagues encouraging them to "blow away" the competition at an upcoming trade show in New York City. His innocent intent, he claims: to "pump up his staff." He was arrested without warning days later, detained, searched, and presumed to be a terrorist. And that was just the beginning. (via @weldpond)

Cancer rates triple among NYPD 9/11 first responders

From the Telegraph: "Of the 12,000 who attended the scene of the atrocity at the World Trade Center 10 years ago, 297 have been diagnosed with cancer, almost triple the incidence before the attack. A report said that 56 who have been diagnosed had since died."