Input, a new tech news site

Joshua Topolsky's new techology news site, Input, just launched. The aim, in a crowded pack? To focus on the things that are neither speculative nor mass-market but which will shape lives in the immediate future.

We see technology as not just an intrinsic part of your life and ours, but a shaper of that life in a way that can be seen but is often missed. We see technology not just as a thing to be covered but a core part of the way we need to tell the story. This isn’t just about phone reviews or detailing the next Twitter meltdown (we’ll do some of that too). It’s about finding the ways technology and a life lived inside technology changes us, connects us, and moves us — and then telling you why you should care with as much honesty as possible. And hopefully, telling you in ways that make you question, think, and act.

Articles include Twitter's plans to label candidates in 2020, Facebook's disinclination to cooperate with California's new privacy laws, and Nike's effort to create sneakers for people with disabilities. But there are reviews, too: the new 16-inch MacBook, the new Moto smartwatch, Boosted Beams. Read the rest

Link unshortener

Unshort unshortens short links for you, revealing the true URL. This lets you visit a page without being tracked by the URL shortening service. There are add-ons for all major browsers to automatically unshorten all shortened links; source code is available if you don't even want Unshort knowing where you're headed. Read the rest

A web-based artwork a day

Otherti.me presents a new example of Raphael Bastide's digital artwork each day.

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Google will no longer index Adobe Flash

Already removed from major browsers, Adobe Flash now suffers the second death of being forgotten. Google will soon deindex Flash from its search results.

Goodbye, Flash, writes Google engineering manager Dong-Hwi Lee.

I still remember my son playing endless number of Flash games until my wife yelled at him. It's time to go to bed, son. Hey Flash, it's your turn to go to bed.

Google Search will stop supporting Flash later this year. In Web pages that contain Flash content, Google Search will ignore the Flash content. Google Search will stop indexing standalone SWF files. Most users and websites won't see any impact from this change.

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Panopticlick updated

The EFF's Panopticlick tool (previously) is now a general purpose testing suite for browser privacy, checking Do Not Track, the effectiveness of ad- and tracker-blocking, and providing details on your browser's fingerprint. [via Hacker News] Read the rest

No Maintenance Intended, a badge of intent for your projects

No Maintenance Intended is a snippet of markup (or markdown) you can add to your site or app to ensure that users understand that they're on their own and can stuff right off if they think any work is going to get done for them. Same for would-be contributors and their annoying pull requests.

If you’re here, that likely means a project linked you here.

Thanks so much for being interested in that project!

Open Source is rewarding but it can also be exhausting sometimes.

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Bookmarket reveals marketing jargon and other BS on the current page

Bullshit.js is a javascript bookmarklet that replaces all the managerial and marketing jargon and other buzzwords on the page with the word "bullshit." For example, if I were to write that it was a "keyword-driven synergy of empowered innovation and in-context dynamic content" it might replace that with "bullshit bullshit bullshit of bullshit bullshit and bullshit bullshit bullshit". Read the rest

Halloween avatar generator

If you're looking to refresh your social media avatars for Halloween, use this generator by Olivia Haines to create ghosts, vampires, witches and more.  I went with bloody mummy:

(Via Kalonica.) Read the rest

Yarn: search for a snippet of dialog, get a clip from the movie it's in

Yarn does one thing very well: return a brief video clip of a movie based on the dialog you type in.

I especially like that if you paste in a URL, you get an automatic subtitled GIF that links to the video instead of the full embed. A real USDA grade A GIF image, not a bottom-quality mpeg hacked into its mime type or some other shenanigan that makes it effectively impossible to repost.

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How to serve a billion images a month on a budget

I wrote earlier this year about Lorem Picsum, a site that provides random placeholder images for use in design projects in the spirit of Lorem Ipsum, the classic jumbled-up latin passage used likewise for text. It's taken off. Creator David Marby explains what it's like to serve a billion images a month of a budget.

Processing images is very CPU intensive. As Lorem Picsum runs on a very small budget, to cope with all the requests as the service became more popular, we wanted to avoid doing so as much as possible. This meant adding caching to multiple layers of the architecture. We added two separate layers of caching: A CDN in front, as well as a second cache layer using Varnish Cache. To make the image processing as efficient as possible, we decided to use libvips, as it's very fast and resource-efficient.

As part of making Lorem Picsum as easy to use as possible, we've never required any registration, API keys, or enforced any usage limits. This has generally worked out well, but once in a while a high traffic site deploys production code calling our API, usually accidentally, which leads to [problems]

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Glitching PNGs

PNG, the classiest just-works web image format, offers unique opportunities for glitch art—all flowing from the fine details of its specification.

PNG is a very simple format compared to JPEG or other new image formats. The filter algorithms are like toys, and its compression method is the same as oldschool Zip compression. However, this simple image format shows a surprisingly wide range of glitch variations. We would perhaps only need one example to explain a JPEG glitch, but we need many different types of samples in order to explain what a PNG glitch is. PNG was developed as an alternative format of GIF. However, when it comes to glitching, GIF is a format that is too poor to be compared with PNG. PNG has prepared surprisingly rich results that have been concealed by the checksum barrier for a long time.

Mandatory:

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Megalophobia

r/megalophobia is a my new favorite subreddit, specializing in things that are very big and therefore very, very scary. Postings range from Lovecraftian monsters looming in the mist to zoom-out animations impressing upon the viewer the insignificance of Planet Earth and all human concerns. Currently popular are disturbing photoshops of large comets looming over the major cities they are about to destroy.

Above is "War Machines," by Simon Stålenhag (previously). Read the rest

Create and print your own perfectly-gridded paper

Rostislav Blaha created gridzzly, a simple single-page website where you pick the type of grid you want (lines, square, triangle, hex, dotted), set the size of the grid units and the weight of the line, then hit print. Voila! Custom gridded paper.

Here's what I got:

Good enough for government work. Read the rest

Dark Reader: dark mode for any website

Dark Reader is a browser plugin, available for Firefox, Safari and Chrome, that gives any website a light-on-dark color scheme. Unlike some other efforts, it can invert images too. You can tweak on a per-site basis, with sliders for grayscaling, contrast, font substitution and such, and it remembers your picks.

See how pretty it makes our gift guide! Read the rest

Tumblr bans all adult content, such as "female-presenting nipples"

Tumblr, the mainstream web's last redoubt for niche smut in general and queer smut in particular, is going to clean house. The social blogging platform is banning all adult material on December 17.

Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breast-feeding and after birth photos. "Users have a chance to appeal flagged content"

The policy change takes effect on December 17th. From then on, any explicit posts will be flagged and deleted by algorithms. For now, Tumblr is emailing users who have posted adult content flagged by algorithms and notifying that their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with porn content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being reblogged or shared elsewhere in the Tumblr community.

Even the cold dead embrace of a Yahoo! acquision could not end Tumblr, such was the power of fandom gathered there. But Yahoo never knew what it owned in Tumblr and was indifferent to its continued existence. The management of new Yahoo owner Verizon, however, has a pulse. It knows what Tumblr is and it hates it. It will hack it down until a perfectly clean advertising- and appstore-friendly traffic center remains.

That phrase Tumblr uses, "female-presenting nipples", is rather on the nose. Read the rest

Modern web design best practices

Casper Beyer's How to Design for the Modern Web is grimly amusing.

1. Let Users Know About Your Mobile Application

The very first thing you must do when a user visits your website is to show them a big modal dialog telling them that they should just install the mobile application instead.

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Web typography resource collection

Web Typography Resources is a list of apps, tools, plugins and other stuff that will help you make words look nice on the world-wide web. Highlights include Bram Stein's typography inspector, Monotype's new SkyFonts webfont management service, and Matej Latin's book Better Web Typography for a Better Web. [Amazon]

Previously: Practical Typography [Matthew Butterick] Read the rest

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