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 tomthedancingbug.com. 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.
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.
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!
Square Cash, released today in the United States, lets you send cash to anyone with an email address, simply CC the message to "firstname.lastname@example.org," 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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
This review also appears on Download the Universe, a group blog reviewing the best (and worst, and just "meh") in science-related ebooks and apps.
When I go to science museums, I like to press the buttons. I'm convinced this is a special joy that you just do not grow out of. Hit the button. See something cool happen. Feel the little reward centers of your brain dance the watusi.
But, as a curmudgeonly grown-up, I also often feel like there is something missing from this experience. There have definitely been times when I've had my button-pushing fun and gotten a few yards away from the exhibit before I've had to stop and think, "Wait, did I just learn anything?"
Science museums are chaotic. They're loud. They're usually full of small children. Your brain is pulled in multiple directions by sights, sounds, and the knowledge that there are about 15 people behind you, all waiting for their turn to press the button, too. In fact, research has shown that adults often avoid science museums (and assume those places aren't "for them") precisely because of those factors.
Sound Uncovered is an interactive ebook published by The Exploratorium, the granddaddy of modern science museums. Really more of an app, it's a series of 12 modules that allow you to play with auditory illusions and unfamiliar sounds as you learn about how the human brain interprets what it hears, and how those ear-brain interactions are used for everything from selling cars to making music.