Meet Saqib, a Microsoft dev in London who lost the use of his eyes at age 7. Here's a neat little profile of his artificial intelligence development work from Microsoft Cognitive Services:
Here's a one-button conversation game called Interruption Junction. It was created by Mx. Dietrich Squinkifer using Tracery. Instructions: "Click repeatedly or mash the spacebar to interrupt." Don't let your character fade away! Read the rest
Pixar has released its Renderman imaging software to the public free to download. This version is identical to the software it uses on it's own films, which was invented in-house, and is used today by major film and video game studios for animation and visual effects. This free license is for non-commercial use only, which includes show reels and student films.
Free Non-Commercial RenderMan can be used for research, education, evaluation, plug-in development, and any personal projects that do not generate commercial profits. Free Non-Commercial RenderMan is also fully featured, without watermark, time limits, or other user limitations.
Pixar is also launching a Renderman Community Site to share knowledge and assets, showcase work, and support all the new users bound to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
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!
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. Read the rest
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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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.
Here's what we talked about in this episode:
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)
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest