3D Origami simulator

The Origami Simulator depicts prefolded paper on screen, all ready to go: to fold it into a beautiful bird, crane or geometric monstrosity, all you have to do is manipulate a slider. There are plenty of preferences to explore, too, including a VR mode and the option of having a young, slightly menacing Edward Olmos come around your house and place the origami knowingly on a table or desk. Read the rest

Turn web articles into readable, printable PDFs

Simple Print is a website that converts web articles into nice, easily-printed PDF files. It was remarkably effective on the URLs I fed it.

It uses Full-Text RSS and PDF Newspaper to extract the article's content and produce a clean HTML copy. It then relies on Headless Chromium to generate the PDF. To avoid situations where an article will use an extra printed page for a small overrun, Simple Print produces 3 PDFs with slighly varying font sizes and keeps the copy with the fewest pages and largest font size.

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Website for quickly finding useful Unicode characters

Unicode Table has something over the other Unicode table sites: predictive search. There's useful tools as well: a HTML endoder/decoder, text-flipper Read the rest

Typeface reviews

Bethany Heck's Font Review Journal is dedicated to criticism of fonts, and itself very handsomely typeset by Phil Moody. The latest in-depth review is of Lucas Sharp's Ogg.

My goal isn’t to prescribe a number score or valuation on a typeface — rather, I want to celebrate, analyze, demystify and inform designers who are looking to improve their typographic choices. I won’t be reviewing any fonts here that I don’t personally use and see value in. Designing a typeface is a herculean effort that takes hundreds of hours and often years of time to refine and complete. My aim is to show appreciation for these works of art through thoughtful discourse, aesthetic studies and historical context. There is often a gulf in the communication between the type design community and the designers who put their work to use, and I hope this site serves as a sort of bridge to bring the two practices to a closer understanding of each other.

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Find out what's going on in Maine

New Maine News [via Cat Valente] is that rare thing online: a local Onion-style satirical news site that is good. It's great! I feel almost like I live there.

From the front page alone:

Over 80% of Maine Fathers’ Affection Is Directed at Their Wood PilesHeroic Man Saved Dying Pit Party by Cranking Some AC/DCThis Innovative Chef Took the Traditional Maine Baked Bean Supper and Made it Cost $85Expert Panel Concludes Maine Didn’t Used to Be Like This.

Augusta — Experts presented their conclusion to a years-long study of how Maine is now, compared to how it once was, and the results are alarming.

“Weren’t like this back in the ’70s,” lead researched Brian Richards said in a prepared statement.

“Didn’t used to be like this at all. Terrible now. Don’t even hardly recognize it,” Richards said. Richards grew up in Thomaston, but has since moved north.

“Time was, if you had a few beers and a cop pulled you over, he’d just follow you to make sure you got home alright,” he said.

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Should you sign that NDA? This AI law-bot has an answer

Upload the text of a nondisclosure agreement to NDA Lynn, and it will warn you if it spots common traps used to harm signatories.

How can a robot review an NDA?

As it turns out, NDAs are in essence very limited in their scope: certain information is to be exchanged for a given business purpose, and this information is to be kept confidential for a certain period. This limited scope makes them well-suited to automated analysis. There are after all only so many ways to say that information must be kept confidential and that leaks shall be judged by a court in California. Hence: NDA Lynn, an automated legal analysis employing support vector networks and other machine learning technology to answer that simple business question: “Can I sign that NDA?”

It's fascinating leverage of contracts' general dependence on rigid, courts-tested language, and a tool for spotting bad ones out of the gate. But I wouldn't use it to validate NDAs as good. Always get competent advice when money and consequences are on the line. (NDA Lynn is, of course, a lead generator for a human lawyer who specializes in the IT field.) Read the rest

Interactive world map lets you create your own projection

The EarthWindMap not only animates our homeworld's air currents, but you can drag, zoom and warp the view to create unique projections of its surface.

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Readspike: simple news aggregator

Readspike is a simple news aggregator: just the headlines, with no social networking or other bullshit getting in the way. It's by Blackspike, a British design agency.

The best yet in its class, beautiful and simple, with a good taste in sources. But I find something about it hard to read. It might be too beautiful, if you see what I mean? News aggregation is a complex design problem. Multiple columns, in particular, serve a different god.

People often say this sort of site is like RSS without all the things that make RSS useful, but I think it's like RSS without all the things that make RSS painful. The next step here, though, would surely be the ability to pick your sources. Read the rest

Pixel-art Useless Machine on the web

A classic favorite of Boing Boing editors, the Useless Machine has been implemented as a website for your button-pressing pleasure. Read the rest

Few sad as About.com closure announced

When long-lived websites close down, they often give little notice, sending archivists scrambling to rescue its work for posterity. About.com, the venerable topic-mining hive abruptly put to death, seems to be a counter-example: a faceless mountain of bland, undifferentiated, half-plagiarized content that no-one seems sad to see vanish. Its own CEO—who once spoke contemptuously of it before being convinced to take the job—has a plan to make something new and interesting out of the remains.

"I got a phone call from Joey Levin, who is the CEO of IAC. He asked, 'What do you think of About.com?'" Vogel said during a recent interview with Business Insider. "My answer — in perfect arrogance — was 'I don't.' Who thinks of About.com? Nobody."

Levin persuaded him to come in for a job interview anyway, and Vogel walked out convinced he could help turn the company around. Now he is CEO of About.com, and to save it he's trying something that sounds crazy.

He’s shutting down the entire website in early May. In its place, he's launching a half-dozen new sites.

"This is either going to work and be a great success or we're going to crash the plane as we're flying it and this is going to be a horrible failure," Vogel says he told IAC.

About.com was one of the earliest big web successes to cash out: to Prime Media in 2000 for $690m, then to the New York Times in 2005 for $410m, IAC in 2012 for $300m, and now to the deep void—but also the hope that the staff and infrastructure can be used to make something better. Read the rest

If websites were people

The good news is it is funny. The bad news is it is a GoDaddy ad. Read the rest

A great oral history of Funny Or Die, which just turned ten

Funny Or Die is ten years old this week. The comedy site's launch a decade ago almost didn't happen. Wired has compiled a definitive oral history of the site, right up through its most recent reset as Trump ascended to the Presidency.

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Minimalist web publishing platforms

Check out txt.fyi, a toy "publishing platform" I made. I put that phrase in quotes because it's designed to be as lightweight as possible: you type in text and hit publish, and your work is live on the internet. From the "about" page:

This is the dumbest publishing platform on the web. ... There's no tracking, ad-tech, webfonts, analytics, javascript, cookies, databases, user accounts, comments, friending, likes, follower counts or other quantifiers of social capital. The only practical way for anyone to find out about a posting is if the author links to it elsewhere.

But it is legible, no-nonsense static hypertext, good for short stories, not-short-enough tweets and adventures and all your numbers station or internet dead drop needs. Here you can scream into the void and know the form of your voice is out there forever.

Search engines are instructed not to index posts and I'll do my best to make sure this isn't used as a tool by spammers or other abusers. Nonetheless, posting will be turned off if anything bad grows out of it.

Use Dumbdown to format posts: #header, **bold**, *italic*, `code`, quote, and hyperlinks in the format [link](http://example.com). Try !hacker and !professor and !timestamp too. ...

Long live the independent web!

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Site helps you draw your own mandalas

ben.akrin.com/mandala is a simple online drawing board with a single purpose: mandalas. Set the axis count, the color and thickness of your pen, and the type of reflection. Then get mandala-making! But I used it to make some vintage lead wallpaper that'll kill you in humid climates. Read the rest

Suggestions for improving Twitter

Twitter's wonderful, but it's also horrible a lot of the time &endash; especially for the people using it. And we all complain about it, too! Anil Dash weaves the obvious and not-so-obvious threads of criticism into a billion dollar gift for Twitter. It comes down to these five key points: Read the rest

Yahoo sale: are Flickr and Tumblr doomed?

Verizon yesterday bought Yahoo, which had earlier bought Flickr, a photo-sharing site, and Tumblr, a blogging platform. Both of these places have three key qualities that raise important questions about their survival: 1) they're both oldschool platforms locked in time because they were bought by Yahoo, 2) both still have vast, dedicated userbases, 3) both have unique cultures that will be invisible to Verizon's legendarily banal middle-management culture.

Flickr tried modernizing a few years ago to compete with Instagram and other fresh social-driven competitors, but had atrophied so much since the 2005 takeover by Yahoo that it couldn't recapture the lead.

Yahoo seemed to listen, at least fleetingly. The company finally released some functional mobile apps and started offering a terabyte of storage space to users for free, but it was too little too late.

For Ward, Yahoo was desperately trying to appeal to the Instagram generation, and in doing so started to alienate the site’s core users, many of whom were professional photographers. “We all had a lot of hope that Yahoo would be able to bring it back to life, but the changes that were introduced took away things we really loved,” she said.

“When we gave feedback it felt like no one was listening. It was a little bit insulting to people who had been using it so actively for so many years. We were clearly not the target audience any more.”

Tumblr, meanwhile, is neck-deep in smut and self-absorbed blather and other things likely to terrify suits—but its also one of the net's last safe redoubts for young women. Read the rest

Infernal Scoop is a crowdsourced storytelling tool

Infernal Scoop is a crowdsourced storytelling site with a no-nonsense, functionalist vibe. Create a story, let readers wander through branching plot developments, and watch everything go weird and wild as they add their own. The format is geared to paragraph-length units posted anonymously—there doesn't seem to even be a way to set up an account—so it feels like a crazy experiment in "authorless" interactive fiction. [via r/internetisbeautiful]

There are other sites like it, but this one has the feel of a tool rather than an environment. The street is finding its own uses. Read the rest

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