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Gweek podcast 142: the funniest living American

In each episode of Gweek, Dean Putney and I invite a guest to join us in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. Our guests this week are:

Ruben Bolling, author of the weekly comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug, which premieres each week on Boing Boing, and pre-premiers for members of his Inner Hive, which you can join by going to

Nick Carr is a New York City movie location scout. On his blog, Scouting New York, Nick says he’s been pretty much everywhere, from the highest rooftops to the deepest subway tunnels, from abandoned ruins to zillion-dollar luxury penthouse apartments.

This episode is brought to you by:

NatureBox, makers of delicious, wholesome snacks delivered to your door. Go to to get 50% OFF your your first box.

iFixit, the world’s free online repair manual for everything.. Use coupon code GWEEK at checkout and get $10 off your order of $50 or more.

The Boondocks. Season 4 starts on Monday April 21 on Adult Swim.

Nick's picks:

Best Bathroom - Highly recommended app for anyone coming to NYC

K2 - Great board game from Poland I’ve been playing recently

Ruben's picks:

Paul has a Summer Job, by Michel Rabagliati

Henry Speaks for Himself, by John Liney

Dean's pick:

Love and a Sandwich -- stuffed animal monsters

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Apps for Kids 055: Badland

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Apps for Kids is Boing Boing's podcast about cool smartphone apps for kids and parents. My co-host is my 10-year-old daughter, Jane.

In this episode, we reviewed a side-scrolling action/adventure game with fun physics, called Badland. It's $3.99 for iOS and Android.

And, we present a new "Would you rather?" question:

Apps for Kids is sponsored by Fracture. Fracture prints your photos in vivid color, directly on glass. It's picture, frame and mount, all in one. Use the code APPSFORKIDS and get 20% off your order!

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Gweek podcast 125: Make Me a Woman

In each episode of Gweek, I invite a guest or two to join me in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. This time, I was joined by Ruben Bolling, the author of the weekly comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug, which premieres each week on Boing Boing, and pre-premiers for members of his Inner Hive, which you can join by going to I was also joined by Vanessa Davis, a cartoonist and illustrator living in Los Angeles. She is the author of Spaniel Rage and Make Me a Woman. See what she's up to at Spaniel Rage. Shownotes: Korak, Son of Tarzan, Volume One, a Gold Key comic book from 1964 by Gaylord DuBois and Russ Manning. QuizUp, an addictive iPhone trivia game. The Rockford Files on Netflix. Ski Tracks iPhone app, for tracking your day of skiing. When You Reach Me a middle school novel by Rebecca Stead. The Dan Clowes comic book story that Shia LeBeouf plagiarized, available in The Daniel Clowes Reader.


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This episode of Gweek is sponsored by Warby Parker. Try out 5 pairs of prescription eyeglasses for free and get three-day shipping with the offer code GWEEK.

Phone app helps visualize sea level rise

Looking Glass is a prototype phone application that allows you to see the future of sea level rise right in front of your face. There have been some other programs aimed at visualizing sea level rise recently — Drown Your Town, which adds rising water levels to Google Earth, is the most famous example. Looking Glass is a little bit different in that it moves the sea level rise to a first-person point of view. So you can drown not just the town, but your living room, or the people standing directly in front of you.

Right now, Looking Glass is a prototype that only works for the town of Wickford, Rhode Island. But it's a cool concept that could be expanded to a larger number of cities, later on. The goal, says creator Eli Kintisch is to make the invisible visible — to take things that we can only read about in dry scientific papers and show us what they'd really be like to live with.

Spotify's free mobile service

I use the ad-supported version of the Spotify digital music service on my desktop computer. The mobile app cost $10 a month, which isn't bad, but between Pandora and WFMU's app, I am able to live without it and save a bit of money.

Today, Spotify announced a free mobile service that allows you to shuffle play your playlists, other playlists, or any artist in Spotify's large catalog. You are limited to 6 skip forwards per hour (I think Pandora has the same limit). In any case, I'm in!

Spotify: App Store and Google Play.

Square Cash: email money to other people without a fee

Square Cash, released today in the United States, lets you send cash to anyone with an email address, simply CC the message to "," and the recipient will receive the money in two business days or less.

Send money to anyone with an email address. It's fast, safe, and free!

No account needed. Just securely link your debit card to start sending money. It's free to send, and free to receive money directly to your U.S. bank account.

Secure. Your financial information is entered through a secure connection and kept private. You can confirm or reject any transfer.

Fast. Money automatically deposits to your bank account within 1-2 business days.

Square Cash for iPhone

How to fool benchmarking apps

Anand Lai Shimpi and Brian Klug trace the tricks used by electronics giants to bamboozle benchmarking apps--a practice widely associated with Samsung, but also used by at least some of its competitors. At The Observer, Charles Arthur suggests that it's time to stop trusting benchmarking apps altogether. Rob 11

Lulu - an app for girls to anonymously rate boys

My 16-year-old daughter came home yesterday and showed me an app called Lulu that all of her friends are using. It's purpose is to anonymously rate your male Facebook friends. Each boy is displayed alongside a number from 1 - 10, which represents an average rating for the guy. Users can rate the boys on a number of attributes, such as physical attractiveness, kissing skill, and commitment level.

I predict Apple will pull this from the iPhone store very soon.

I asked Sarina to tell me more about Lulu:

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Glitché is the evil twin of all those old-film, toy-lens, Instagram-style apps. Pick a photo, then glitch it all to Hell with broken NTSC emulation, weird 3D pixelation and heightmap extrusion effects, and delicious MPEG-style compression errors. For a $1 upgrade, the free app lets you save animated GIFs, too. [via Joel Johnson, below]

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Shadow, a "dream-recording" app

Anything marketed with Alan Watts -- "Let's have a surprise. Let's have a dream that isn't under control" -- gets my click. Wired's Liz Stinson reports on Shadow, a novel alarm clock for your phone.

Created by designers Hunter Lee Soik and Jason Carvalho, Shadow is an app that makes recording and remembering your dreams extremely simple. On its most basic level, Shadow is an alarm clock/digital dream journal, but the designers ultimately hope to create the largest dream database in the world. Users set the clock before they go to sleep at night, and in the morning, gradually escalating volume and vibration gently rouses you awake. Most of the time, alarm clocks abruptly blast through your consciousness, ripping you from the depths of sleep. In contrast, Shadow’s alarm system gradually transitions users through their hypnopompic state, that not-quite-asleep, not-quite-awake phase, which has be proven to help you better remember your dreams.

Shadow: A Beautiful App That Tracks Your Dreams [Wired]

Sen. John McCain played 'VIP Poker' on his iPhone as colleagues debate bombing Syria

Making the media rounds as America formalizes a decision to go to war against Syria, this photo by Melina Mara at The Washington Post:
Senator John McCain plays poker on his IPhone during a U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing where Secretary of State JohnKerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testify concerning the use of force in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

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Heard: an app that records what you heard 5 minutes ago

Heard is a useful app for settling those "but *I* said and then *you* said" arguments with your kids.

When you activate the app, it begins recording everything around you on a 12-second buffer (extend it to five minutes for $1.99). Any time you want, click the “Push to save” button to save the current clip. Do nothing, and the self-destructing buffer lets the audio slip into the ether.

Why would anyone not in the NSA want an app like this? With Heard, you can capture anything from your baby’s first words to a key point in a lecture without hovering your thumb over the record button all day.

Heard reviewed on Netted

Vesper, an elegant note-taking app

Vesper is a simple note-taking iOS app named after a Bond cocktail. Unlike most such apps, it's well-designed and pleasing to look at, though you do have to cough up a fiver for the privilege. Moreover, it's for people who do everything on their phones: there's no sync feature, a drawback for which Federico Viticci knocks it in his otherwise very positive review. I'm gonna give it a whirl. Rob

Fascinating iOS apps for music making


Over at our sponsor Intel's LifeScoop site, I wrote about several fascinating iOS apps for music creation that employ non-traditional and intuitive interfaces. My favorite is SoundPrism:

Created by Audanika in Germany, SoundPrism is a stunning interface that immerses the user in a relaxing, meditative music making experience. . The iOS app, most impressive on iPad, is incredibly intuitive, generating an alluring grid of glowing tiles whose colors represent pitch. But while it’s easy for total non-musicians to make stunning melodies, the interface design is steeped in some deep musical theory. The SoundPrism tiles are arranged in a Circle of Thirds, a symmetric model that the app’s musician developers believe is a fantastic method for teaching basic harmonic theory. In fact, if you’re a music theory geek, Audanika created a harmony theory blog to explore the “symmetry model” embodied by their app.
Experiments in Mobile Music Apps

Generative music apps


At our sponsor Intel's LifeScoop site, I posted about "Music That Writes Itself":

In ambient music pioneer Brian Eno’s 1996 book A Year with Swollen Appendices, the composer wrote, “I really think it is possible that our grandchildren will look at us in wonder and say: ‘you mean you used to listen to exactly the same thing over and over again?’” Eno was talking about generative music, a process by which a computer creates unique works from fixed parameters set by the artist. In its simplest form, you twist a few knobs (virtual or otherwise) and the computer takes it from there, creating music that can be credited to the system itself. The term generative art is most likely derived from “generative grammar,” a linguistic theory Noam Chomsky first proposed in his book Syntactic Structures (1965) to refer to deep-seated rules that describe any language. Steven Holtzman, author of Digital Mosaics (1997), traces the art form to the dawn of the information age in the 1960s, when musicians like Gottfried Michael Koenig and Iannis Xenakis pioneered computer composition. Decades later, a number of generative music apps are bringing Eno’s vision to our smartphones.
"Music That Writes Itself"