A Talk with Threes App Designer Greg Wohlwend (New Disruptors 74)

Greg Wohlwend co-created the popular game Threes. He talks with host Glenn Fleishman about the joy of success, the burden of being independent, and the problems with parasites.

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TuneUp music library clean-up app releaunches

A few years ago, I posted about TuneUp, software from my pal Gabe Adiv's company that did a bang-up job cleaning up the metadata mess of my 150+ GB music archive by identifying dupes, fixing track names, and grabbing cover art. About a year ago, Adiv parted ways with the company he started, TuneUp Media. Since then, the company released an update that really bummed out serious users and last month announced they were shutting down. Well, Gabe just managed to buy back the TuneUp assets and reunite the original development team to relaunch TuneUp. Interestingly, their first "new" product is an old version of the TuneUp software. Congrats, Gabe! Above, a classic TuneUp commercial starring the great Biz Markie!

"Founder Gabe Adiv Resurrects TuneUp To Continue Tidying Up Your Music Library" (TechCrunch)

Loomio: democratic decision-making tool inspired by Occupy


Here's a good writeup of Loomio, a collective decision-making tool that is raising funds to add features, stability and polish to its free/open source codebase. Loomio grew out of the experience of Occupy's attempt to create inclusive, democratic processes, and attempt to simplify the Liquid Feedback tool widely used by Pirate Parties to resolve complex policy questions.

I'm very interested in this kind of collective action tool -- I wrote about a fictionalized version in Lawful Interception that allowed crowds of people to coordinate their movement without leaders or hierarchy -- and Loomio seems to have a good mix of political savvy, technical knowhow, and design sense.

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Slack, a team-talk tool that Just Works


A clever colleague of mine, Jen, joined us last year as Comms Director and suggested that we use a team talk tool, for light comms and general infosharing, preferably something that can handle the trivial (my train's late) but also the serious (get the latest build).

We're a toys-and-games startup, working desperately hard, and fast, and the suggestion was welcome, so we set up Yammer. Despite a heroic effort on the part of most of the team, it didn't fly. It didn't feel useful, somehow, like a chore, and we drifted away from it. Later we tried a browser-based IRC too, but - same. Too many missing functions, or maybe it was just the interface. Hard to pinpoint.

We've been working on our internal comms - hard - and even though we're a small team of 15, it still been tough at times. Jen was right, we somehow needed something on top of/instead of email, Basecamp, drive, Skype. Then Slack launched. We'd known it was coming - disclaimer! Stewart Butterfield, Slack's creator, is an old pal - and who didn't love original Flickr? But I wasn't necessarily expecting to use it, given our previous tries.

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Gweek 115: Year Zero


This episode is brought to you by HostGator, offering premium web hosting at low costs, and 24x7x365 phone, chat and email support. Use coupon code WEEK to get an extra 25% off and support Gweek!

In this episode of Gweek we talk about DIY book publishing vs traditional book publishing, music designed to trick your lizard brain, software that turns photos into talking cartoon characters, a board game that teaches preschoolers about computer programming, and more!

This episode's guests:

Dean Putney, Boing Boing’s software developer and Gweek regular, who’s now self-publishing a book of his great-grandfather’s World War I photos thanks to Kickstarter.


Rob Reid, a writer and technology entrepreneur based in California. He wrote Year Zero -- a novel about aliens with a mad passion for human music – and founded the company that built the Rhapsody music service.


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Here's what we talked about in this episode:

Rob's novel, Year Zero is on sale for 99 cents in ebook formats. Get it here on Amazon, or other formats here.


Dean's self published book about his great-grandfather's collection of a World War I photos, Walter Koessler 1914-1918.


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MacPaint (1984) online

Portfolio

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In 1984, I spent much time at the local computer store playing with MacPaint, the graphics painting program developed by Bill Atkinson and released simultaneously with the Macintosh 128k. It was packaged with MacWrite as a $195 bundle. The illustration above was created in 1983 by Susan Kare for Apple. According to the Macintosh Plus Owner's Manual, "MacPaint brings out the artist in everyone. Whether it's a technical illustration for a research project or a sketch for a party announcement, you can do it with MacPaint." Now, I can play with MacPaint to my heart's content online! Cloudpaint.com (via @onthemedia)

More about the history of MacPaint here and here.

Nobel Prizes 2013: Computer models that can mimic life

We talk about computer modeling a lot in the context of climate science — powerful algorithms that help scientists get a better idea of how climate systems work, how they spin off into weather, and how the systems and the weather are altered by both nature and humans. But modeling plays a huge role in other sciences, as well. In fact, on the flip side of the climate change coin, modeling is an essential part of designing better solar cells to turn energy from the Sun into useable electricity. If we ever do master the art of artificial photosynthesis, we'll have the three men who just won this year's Nobel Prize for Chemistry to thank.

Back in the 1970s, Martin Karplus of Université de Strasbourg, France and Harvard University, Michael Levitt of Stanford, and Arieh Warshel of USC, were instrumental in constructing the first computer models capable of predicting the effects of chemical reactions — including ones that happen far too quickly to be observed. Today, their work touches the daily lives of chemists all over the world, doing research from solar cell design to drug development.

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Download a dinosaur (or 17)

Now you can download 17 digital versions of dinosaur bodies created by scientists at the UK's The Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, and other institutions. The bodies were made for a study of the biomechanics of dinosaurs — essentially, an attempt to reverse engineer some knowledge of how dinosaurs moved and how body shape and movement changed as dinosaurs got closer to becoming birds. I don't really know exactly what you might do with these files, but they're free and available to anyone. And, I figure, if somebody is going to come up with a fantastic use for digitized dinosaurs, it's you guys.

AwayFind gives you the peace of mind to ignore your inbox without fear of missing an important email

I've found that having big stretches of time where I don't frequently check my email boosts my ability to accomplish things. A service called AwayFind gives me the peace of mind to ignore my inbox.

In a nutshell, AwayFind lets you add selected email addresses to a Priority Inbox. When someone on your list sends you an email, a notification appears on your phone. That way, you don't need to check your email inbox every few minutes. I've added my family members, my book editor, my coworkers at MAKE and Boing Boing, and a few other people to my Priority Inbox list.

Does this sound like Apple's new VIP feature? Yes, AwayFind and Apple's VIP share some of the same functionality. However, AwayFind goes beyond Apple's VIP feature, making it much more useful. Jared Goralnick, the founder of AwayFind, wrote a blog post that describes the features in AwayFind that VIP doesn't have. For instance, AwayFind determines the 25 people that you reply to the fastest and makes it easy to add them to your Priority Inbox (this list is regenerated every month). It also notifies you when someone you've scheduled a meeting with sends you an email before your meeting, even if they aren't in your Priority Inbox. These examples just scratch the surface. Check out a list of the other differences between VIP and AwayFind here.

You can try AwayFind for free for 30 days. After that you can subscribe to a personal plan for $4.99 a month, which includes 100 alerts a month, or a pro account for $14.99 a month, which gives you 1000 alerts per month.

AwayFind

Ihnatko on "Why BBEdit rules"

Andy Ihnatko, on "the real reason for BBEdit’s endurance"—"It has the one crucial characteristic shared by every truly great creative work: It has a purpose beyond the way it articulates its immediate function." (Macworld)

Wikipedia's list of infamous software glitches

Worth noting, especially if you read my piece last Friday about problems with America's electric infrastructure: Wikipedia's list of infamous software glitches includes the problems with General Electric Energy's XA/21 monitoring software that helped make the 2003 East Coast Blackout happen. (Via Kyle McDonald)

EU: software licenses may be sold by consumers

The European Union's Court of Justice ruled today that software licenses may be resold.

By its judgment delivered today, the Court explains that the principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of his software on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website. Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right.

The case concerned Oracle, which sued UsedSoft, a German company which bought and resold "used" software licenses which provided access to software downloads.

It's shopped, this new app will be able to tell by the pixels

At Poynter, Craig Silverman writes about FourAndSix, a new photo forensics tool now in beta. The idea is to create tools that "sniff out digitally altered images." Two of the people behind it: Kevin Connor, former VP of product management for Adobe Photoshop, and digital image forensics expert Dr. Hany Farid. (via Erin Siegal)

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is "weird, brilliant, daring"

Mat Honan takes a tour of Windows 8, which was released yesterday in preview form for consumers: "Weird can be brilliant. Weird can be daring. Windows 8 is all of those things."

VLC hits 2.0

After many years of work, Video LAN Client (VLC), the all-powerful free/open video-player, has hit 2.0, with an amazing roster of new features. The new version is called "Twoflower," and it cuts through DRM like butter, disregards patents and plays and converts pretty much any video you throw at it.

With faster decoding on multi-core, GPU, and mobile hardware and the ability to open more formats, notably professional, HD and 10bits codecs, 2.0 is a major upgrade for VLC.

Twoflower has a new rendering pipeline for video, with higher quality subtitles, and new video filters to enhance your videos.

It supports many new devices and BluRay Discs (experimental).

Completely reworked Mac and Web interfaces and improvements in the other interfaces make VLC easier than ever to use.

Twoflower fixes several hundreds of bugs, in more than 7000 commits from 160 volunteers.

VLC reaches 2.0