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
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 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!
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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
Casper Beyer's How to Design for the Modern Web is grimly amusing.
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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.
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
Creative Beats is a single-serving music box designed to show how easy it is to create things when simple, effective tools are available. I reviewed a Novation Launchpad once and could barely figure it out, but I'd gotten something out of this within a couple of minutes:
It's inspired by a book project by Questlove, and made with Glitch. If the foolproof scale and single kick drum prove too limiting, there's plenty out there to graduate to. Read the rest
Glitch is a simple and powerful open-source canvas for experimenting on the web—and after a year of beta testing, it's ready for artists and coders to get stuck in. If you want to make things online but get put off by complicated frameworks, the headache of server set up, and myriad incompatible platforms your work has to end up running on, Glitch might be for you.
I tinkered with it for the first time last week, and within minutes had overcome hurdles that I thought I'd never have the time or energy to figure out.
To a casual visitor, Glitch looks like YouTube, but for digital artwork and rudimentary games. You can even embed stuff there on your own site, just like video, though you have to click into the editing tools to get the snippets.
Dig in, though, and it turns into a simple but powerful coding environment: one that can't be messed up, no matter how hard you try. For me, it seems to offer all the freewheeling instant gratification of the early web, but with modern tools and technology -- and the chance to collaborate with other people without having to teach them Git. The promise of just focusing on art or application code seems almost alien to the modern web, but here it is, all without having to be my own sysadmin, security expert and full-stack drudge.
Best of all, you can take anything anyone's done, clone it, and tinker with it, and see the results change live: the best and fastest way to learn markup and scripting languages. Read the rest
If you add Chirpss to your website, it will make a chirping noise whenever anyone comes or goes. You have to have Google Analytics installed (it relies on the realtime tracking GA provides) and the willingness to revisit the golden age of hit counters. Read the rest
Earth Wind Map shows the winds blasting over a beautiful, rotatable 3D animated globe. Various modes (click the text on the bottom left) show air, oceanic, particulate and even auroral maps. Read the rest
QuillBot rewrites phrases, making it easy to tweak results and understand what it's up to in each variation.
Four and seven years ago our fathers gave birth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and consecreated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Let's try that America. Read the rest
Pixel Chart splits images into their constituent pixels, then organizes them in various interesting ways that you can define. [via] Read the rest
Privacytools.io showcases web platforms, utilities and services that center on maintaining online user privacy. Anonymous browsing, decentralized social media, note-taking applications, even router firmware. There's a downloadable tool to help secure Windows 10, the "privacy nightmare" of operating systems.
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"Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say." – Edward Snowden
Newer browsers notify users when a login form will be sent over an insecure connection. But some websites are replacing password boxes with plain text inputs to avoid triggering the warning – and using a special font, where all the characters are circles, to fool their users.
Troy Hunt makes an example of ShopCambridge.ca:
And as you've probably guessed by now, that "font" is nothing other than a single disc per character designed to be a visual representation of the real disc you'd normally see when entering text into a proper password field. It needs to work in this order because otherwise the place holder would no longer say "Password" and you'd instead see 8 round discs representing the letters of the word. The bottom line is, once all this is tied together then there's the veneer of a password field but because it isn't a password field, there's no browser warnings! It's like magic! More specifically, it's a pseudo password field designed to fool the user and deny them of the browser's visual warning designed to protect their password.
The craft involved is such that it can't be explained by sheer laziness. It's a peculiar mix of paranoia, marginal competence and the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Hahahaha. Read the rest
Webflow's history of the web is a Bayeaux Tapestry of obsolete virtues and current vices, a superimposition of new and old bad things. It's a clever and very 2017 way to market a web design app that lets normal people keep making worthwhile mistakes on the web -- a gateway to free expression -- as it becomes increasingly technical and forbidding.
I'm startled by how comfortingly, reliably minimal the very early stuff was. Even the lurid GIF explosion in late 1990s! Simple technology made even a terrible mess accessible. Read the rest
Alexis Madrigal describes What Facebook Did to American Democracy and why it was so hard to see it coming. Foreign exploitation of Facebook's ad system in the 2016 election was just the end result of Facebook's filter bubbles and its wildly successful efforts to get media to fill them. tl;dr: the horse was already dead before Russia flogged it.
The information systems that people use to process news have been rerouted through Facebook, and in the process, mostly broken and hidden from view. It wasn’t just liberal bias that kept the media from putting everything together. Much of the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent during the election cycle came in the form of “dark ads.”
The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook.
Facebook's uncanny method is to trickle enough traffic to publishers so they chum it constantly with Facebookish content, but not so much that publishers can assimilate Facebook visitors into their own audience. Unfortunately for this clever and destructive arrangement, the new far-right sites represented such a cohesive emergent affinity group that Facebook's machinery was co-opted.
It's said (usually on Twitter) that no-one is better than Nazis at exploiting a libertarian dropout's ideological impostures. This sort of thing usually strikes me as pompous and vague, but Facebook so perfectly embodies it I'm going to need two leftist energy bars for breakfast this morning. Read the rest
Short Trip is a scenic tram simulator made by Alexander Perrin. Every detail is hand-drawn, it takes only a few minutes to enjoy the ride (controls: right arrow), and it's the most perfect thing on the web today. You can even pick up and drop off passengers at the stations along the way.
It's free of charge but you can donate to Alexander through PayPal. Read the rest