App phones people so you can pretend to be their boss

What would you say to someone if you were randomly connected to them by phone and had the opportunity to roleplay as their boss? A fun new app allows you to play the Michael Scott, Bill Lumbergh, or whatever boss of your dreams, and help them get stuff done too.

Yesterday I sat down for lunch in San Francisco with Danielle Baskin, the app's co-founder. A mutual friend had recently introduced us in an email, using the subject line, "Rusty / Danielle - I can't believe you two DON'T know each other."

Our conversation was lively and ended up being nearly three hours long. As I sat there chatting with her, I totally got why our mutual friend wanted us to meet. Danielle is a rabid creator of many weird and wonderful things, a true Happy Mutant. (You may remember her Drone Sweaters, for instance, or from her interview last month on the Cool Tools podcast.)

She's got all kinds of neat irons in the fire and many of them seem to teeter on that line between art and something that is actually useful. Her latest project rides that line. It's a collaboration with programmer Max Hawkins and it started blowing up on Product Hunt this week. It's called Your Boss and she describes it as "an app that connects people working on solo projects in a call-based accountability buddy system."

She writes:

My co-founder and I are entrepreneurs and freelancers with many projects. We made an app to automate phone calls between us to keep ourselves on track, because we often work alone (without a boss).

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Hey new cannabis users and microdosers: Pax's app stops you from getting too high

I just learned about Session Control, a new feature on an already-existing mobile app for the Pax Era portable vaporizer. It's great for people who microdose, like myself, or for folks new to cannabis. It lets you measure your doses, so that your hits are never "too much."

So when I'm not writing for this fine online publication, I freelance at other places. At this time of year, that means I'm working part time at Burning Man. Their headquarters is in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood.

Now, most folks may not realize this but they share a building with Pax Labs. Yes, the company behind the portable vaporizers. Last Tuesday I was invited down to visit the building's second floor, home of their HQ. I went and that's how I learned about the app.

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Going up! #burningman #elevator #elevatorbuttons #burningmanhq #pax

A post shared by Rusty Blazenhoff ⚡️⚡️ (@blazenhoff) on Mar 8, 2016 at 6:38pm PST

When it was new to the market, I got myself the flower-vaporizing Pax 1 device but then I started working in the cannabis industry and moved onto vape pens (and now low-dose edibles). I've been cruising along. While I was at their office they showed me their Era vaporizer (pictured below). It's way more high tech than an ordinary vape pen, and eons past the Pax 1 I once used. It uses concentrates, sold as Pods in dispensaries in states where it's legal, and charges with a USB cable. Read the rest

Thoughts & Prayers app makes tragedies even easier

If you want to let people know you care but don't have time to send thoughts and prayers every time there's a tragedy, the new Thoughts & Prayers app can help! Read the rest

First music video created in Prisma app

You've probably seen a few profile pics processed with the Prisma app. Now you can watch Drive like Maria's new music video, the first created entirely with the app. Read the rest

Microsoft video shows how a blind software engineer uses AI to 'see' the world

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: Read the rest

Reconfigurable click-brick characters in Sick Bricks online

I have a boy in grade school, and his whole world comes comes down to a few passions, which include Legos and iPad games. That's why I am vicariously excited for him about this week's release of Sick Bricks, a new mash-up of click brick toy and tablet game. Read the rest

Cockpit porn

Photographer Lyle Jansma captured 360º views of dozens of airplane cockpits, from a 747 to a World War II P51 Mustang. You can pan and zoom to your heart's content with the ACI Cockpit360º App for iOS or at Air & Space, "Cockpit360º: The Virtual Photography of Lyle Jansma" Read the rest

Beautifully strange slit-scan video made with $2 Mac app

Trevor Alyn demonstrates the surreality of slit-scan video as created with his Slit-Scan Movie Maker app.

Saving the whales? Now there's an app for that, too.

An interesting new iOS app launched today called Whale Alert. Though it's available for anyone, the iPhone/iPad app is intended primarily for use by workers in the shipping and maritime industry. It "combines science and technology to help save critically endangered North Atlantic right whales by reducing threats of collisions with large ships along the East Coast of North America."

From the launch announcement by IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare):

The app links the bridge of a ship to the latest data about right whale detections and informs users when their vessels enter right whale management areas. The app uses Global Positioning System (GPS), Automatic Identification System (AIS), the web and digital nautical chart technologies to alert mariners to NOAA’s right whale conservation measures that are active in their immediate vicinity. A key feature of Whale Alert is a display linking a system of near real-time acoustic buoys that listen for right whale calls to an iPad on a ship’s bridge showing the whale’s presence to captains transiting the shipping lanes. In a matter of seconds the ships position is updated on the iPad in relation to any endangered right whales in the shipping lanes allowing the ship to safely slow down and navigate around the whale.

North Atlantic right whales, which live along North America's east coast from Newfoundland to Florida, are one of the world’s rarest large animals and a species on the brink of extinction. So few exist -- about 450 -- that scientists have identified and named almost all of them.

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X is for X-Ray: Cool, interactive kids' app

There are lots of alphabet books out there. Matching a letter to an object and pairing them with a little bit of cute poetry is a conceit that goes back to the days when alphabet books were printed on a single sheet of paper protected by a thin layer of animal horn.

What makes the iPad/iPhone app X is for X-Ray different is its ability to feed kids' curiosity. Every alphabetic object in X is for X-Ray, from an accordion to a zipper, has had its insides photographed by Hugh Turvey, Artist in Residence at the British Institute of Radiology. (Which sounds like an incredibly cool job, to begin with.)

As you read through the book, you can turn the X-ray vision on and off, rotate some of the images 360 degrees around, zoom in on other images, and even put on a pair of stereoscopic glasses to see things in 3D.

Unsurprisingly, this gimmick works better for some letters than others. A flower, for instance, doesn't make for the most exciting x-ray to look at. Nor does a piggy bank. But the internal combustion engine more than makes up for those brushes with mediocrity. If you put the engine photo in x-ray mode and rotate it, the image comes to life. Suddenly, you're not just looking at the insides of a piece of mechanical technology, you're watching them work—pistons pumping and cranks turning. It's really neat and strikingly beautiful.

My main complaint with the app is really a complaint with app development, in general: X is for X-Ray is only available for iPhone and iPad. Read the rest

"Crystalline," Björk (dir.: Michel Gondry)

Video Link: the new Björk video, via Dangerous Minds. Directed by Michel Gondry. Includes elements from her "Biophilia" iPhone app. The album, Crystalline, on Amazon. Read the rest