david.li/paint is a spectacularly gloopy painting app online. You can set paint fluidity, bristle count and brush size, and of course pick any color you like. What I like about it (as opposed to pro apps like Corel Painter or Artrage that offer similar natural media simulations) is that it's just a loaded messy brush that doesn't make it easy or clean itself up for you. The limitations force you to work with it! Author David Li published the source code. Read the rest
The Most Dangerous Writing App is a simple, attractive text editor on the web. But there's a twist to Manuel Ebert's design: if you stop typing before 5 minutes is up, your work starts to fade, and if you don't start again immediately, it disappears completely.
It's not absolute—you can copy your work out of the box, and it's not bugging you with a spellchecker to stop you going klsdafjgh alskdfjhasd kjfh to get through moments of block. But you are gonna be typing all the same, and that's the point.
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I wrote a while back about why typing on old keyboards feels better: it's because they were simple, low-latency devices interacting with your computer's bare metal. Nowadays, many device instructions end up filtered through a zillion layers of microcontrollers, firmware, virtual machinery, applications, hardware abstraction layers and God knows what else before a byte gets to the screen. How annoying is too annoying? is a Glitch site by Monica Dinculescu that lets you simulate keyboard latency, to see exactly how much of it you can take.
This is an experiment to see what amount of delay is too annoying for a user interaction like typing. Here are some presets; make sure to type a lot of characters at once for the full effect.
Note that whatever you select in the app, it's added to the actual latency of your own keyboard and computer--probably 100ms or so for most of us. After about 50ms of extra wait, I start to get aggravated. Read the rest
Bad Hombre is an award-winning satirical game created by 16-year-old Jackie George. Two days after it won the Shortly Award and was recognized in her school newsletter, Bad Hombre was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play (George notes that her town of Naples, FL is very conservative with a lot of Trump supporters and is suspicious that one of her neighbors reported the app).
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Today's FTC ruling impacts how the TikTok app works for users under the age of 13.
If you need to build an app quickly and easily, you might decide to use Facebook's SDK, which has lots of bells and whistles, including easy integration of Facebook ads in your app's UI.
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Second Chance is a smartphone app developed by University of Washington engineers to detect an opioid overdose. The researchers tested the app at a public supervised injection facility in Vancouver, Canada with encouraging results. From Science News:
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Second Chance, described online January 9 in Science Translational Medicine, converts a smartphone’s speaker and microphone into a sonar system that works within about a meter of a user’s body. When the app is running, the phone continuously emits sound waves at frequencies too high to hear, which bounce off a user’s chest. Tracking when these echoes reach the phone allows the app to detect two possible signs of an impending overdose: slow breathing or no breathing at all...
For real-world use, the researchers envision the app notifying a user if it detects breathing problems and sending for help only if the user doesn’t respond to that notification, says study coauthor and computer scientist Shyam Gollakota. The scientists still need to ensure that this setup could reliably alert emergency contacts or medical personnel in time to resuscitate a person.
Most software, writes Ink & Switch, is slow. Slow Software works as a FAQ about all the reasons this is the case, from input latency to inefficient design. Read the rest
Pixelmash is clever indeed: create your resolution-independent art with the same freeform speed as you might in any other painting app, then let it nondestructively pixelize it, with 1-pixel outlines, adjustable gradients and dithering.
Pixelmash's resolution-independence lets you do really cool things... Like create animations using layer transforms rather than having to paint every frame pixel-by-pixel. Or make outlines, shading, and dithering easily adjustable by having them applied as layer effects. Or easily create different resolutions and color variants of the same image. Or convert photos or other hi-res artwork into pixel art using layer effects and the resolution slider.
Free demo, $15 to pre-order. Read the rest
Johnathan Movie is losing his shit and it's all our fault. Read the rest
So you like Trello but like your terminal even more? Taskwarrior and Taskbook are apps for task management and note-taking that live in the dark space of pure text. From Taskbook's homepage:
By utilizing a simple and minimal usage syntax, that requires a flat learning curve, taskbook enables you to effectively manage your tasks and notes across multiple boards from within your terminal. All data are written atomically to the storage in order to prevent corruptions, and are never shared with any third party entities. Deleted items are automatically archived and can be inspected or restored at any moment.
I am very fond of high-quality single-purpose text apps, the sort that only require keyboard input. Yes, there is the whiff of empty rustic nostalgia about it, but I'm too young to have ever used textmode apps in a way anyone would be nostalgic about (first PC: 1996) so I can confidently say it's the empty faddish minimalism that appeals to me. Read the rest
Hardware reviews are a big part of how I put bread on the table. In order to do my job properly, I’ve got to be something of a platform agnostic.
While I do most of my writing using Apple devices, I also have to consider other platforms in my coverage: software that works well on a laptop running Windows 10 may be a dog’s breakfast on a MacBook once it’s been ported.
A bluetooth speaker that sound great when paired with my iPhone 7 Plus, for example, might sound like hot garbage when linked to another audio source. So I invest in other hardware that may not be used as part of my day-to-day life, but which I still need to think about when doing my job.
About six months ago, I came to the conclusion that maybe hauling the hardware out when it came time to test something and then throwing it back in a box when I’m done with it wasn’t enough: to really understand whether, say a pair of headphones that comes with an app to control their EQ or noise cancellation, without seeing how it fits into my day-to-day life using a given platform. So, I upped the amount of time that I spend working in Windows 10, I now read books on both Kobo and Amazon e-readers and, in a real shift in how I live my lift, I’ve spent more than half a year using Android-powered smartphones as my daily drivers. In the time since I last used an Android device as my go-to, things have improved so much, I was taken aback. Read the rest
In an age before Microsoft Word, even before Corel WordPerfect, WordStar ruled the DOS word processing world. Beloved to this day for its simplicity, power and wealth of keystroke commands, some writers never gave it up: G.R.R. Martin maintains a DOS machine just to run WordStar 4. Enter WordTsar, a clone cut to run on modern machinery, brings the classic into the 21st century.
The keyboard controls we love.
WordTsar understands most of the Wordstar keyboard controls, and more are on the way,
The user interface we all know.
WordTsar gives you a look and feel similar to the original interface.
A new GUI.
WordTsar gives you a Graphical User Interface that will feel right at home.
There's something odd about just how many apps are made with writing (rather than coding) in mind, but how few of them offer much tooling for prose—let alone the ability to write and edit without mousing. Read the rest
A couple of years ago, online read-it-later darling Instapaper got sold to Pinterest. Then, in the lousiest possible way, nothing happened. No real updates, tweaks or refinements for Instapaper the service or the app. It was frozen in time! Currently, it's not even possible to use it in Europe as its not in compliance with the new GDPR rules put in place in May. Fortunately, aside from the GDPR thing, everything still runs as smoothly as it did a few years back--users save content cleaved from the internet to read in their browser, on a Kindle or with a tablet or smartphone app, just like they could before the acquisition. But, as Instapaper's chief competitor, Pocket, has continued to add new features, better e-reader support (its app for Kobo E-Ink devices is frigging great,) and slicker mobile apps to its arsenal, it's been hard to stick by Instapaper, which feels stale by. Hopefully, all of that's about to change.
This morning, in a press release, the team that sold Instapaper to Pinterest announced that they have bought the service back:
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Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.
"FINE," Adobe said in a press release. "I hope you're goddamn satisfied."
Adobe’s chief product officer of Creative Cloud Scott Belsky confirmed the company was working on a new cross-platform iteration of Photoshop and other applications, but declined to specify the timing of their launches.
“My aspiration is to get these on the market as soon as possible,” Belsky said in an interview. “There’s a lot required to take a product as sophisticated and powerful as Photoshop and make that work on a modern device like the iPad. We need to bring our products into this cloud-first collaborative era.”
Adobe refused to do so until now, claiming that iPads could not replace traditional computers for creative work. But Affinity Photo made a fool of it. Read the rest
The Hirshhorn Eye (nicknamed "hi") is a new smartphone application that lets visitors to Smithsonian's Hishhorn Museum of Art point their phones at art and hear messages from the artists themselves. Read the rest
Tomek Rękawek, irritated by ads on the radio, created an app that mutes them. Radio Adblock uses digital signal processing to detect distinctive audio patterns that signal the beginning and end of breaks. (via Hacker News)
I also prepared a simple standalone version of the analyzer, that connects to the Trójka stream on its own (without an external ffmpeg) and plays the result using javax.sound. The whole thing is a single JAR file and contains a basic start/stop UI. It can be downloaded here: radioblock.jar. If you feel uneasy about running a foreign JAR on your machine (like you should do), all the sources can be found on my GitHub. Apparently, it works :)
To make it work universally, perhaps DSP could detect the use of extreme waveform compression. This makes ads sound as loud as possible without increasing the signal volume, and is a technique that advertisers and radio stations supposedly use to skirt the regulations that forbid them from doing just that. It would also have the bonus of silencing shitty pop songs. Read the rest