Professor rating site finally drops creepy "hotness" rating

RateMyProfessors.com is like Yelp for college students, but until recently it also had an uncool "Hot or Not" setting where students could rate the attractiveness of professors, with those who were sufficiently hot "earning" a chili pepper next to their ratings. Read the rest

Alternatives to Google products

Restore Privacy collects alternatives to Google products: "It’s been fun Google, but it’s time to say goodbye." And it's not just Firefox, DuckDuckGo and Tutanota; privacy-oriented options include NextCloud for storage, Matomo for web anaytics, Etar for calendars, and HookTube for relaying YouTube videos. Read the rest

Cool backgrounds

Cool Backgrounds generates beautiful, abstract, geometric images perfect for use as backgrounds on your computer or mobile gadgetry. There are four different styles, many color scheme options, and a feed of nice free photos.

While finishing up a gradient generator project CSS Gradient (which launched earlier this year), I unexpectedly noticed the popularity of wallpaper and background images. Digging a bit deeper, I found this huge community of online sites that were curating wallpaper images from the eclectic Deviant Art crowd to the more modern creative commons image sites. While free static images are great, what was missing was a tool that enables non-technical folks to use all the emerging javascript libraries to create unique images of their own. So Cool Backgrounds was born 💥.

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Website guesses what an uploaded image is and plays a song

Patrick Weaver's Record Player is a "Rube Goldberg machine" for music: log into Spotify, upload an image, and it will use the Google Images Vision API to try and figure out what it's a picture of, then play the song. It works on record covers, obviously, but I uploaded a picture of my dog and it played Sabotage, which seems impossibly knowing. (Photo: R. Halfpaap / CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

The simplest online note-taking website

Jan Erik Klouman's jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj is a clever feat of minimalism: a web-based notepad so simple that the saved-to-desktop HTML file works as-is just like it did at the website. On Firefox, it even lets you paste images in! It's almost a joke--it's just a single HTML box with the "contentEditable" attribute--but it works, so who cares? [via Hacker News]

To save a note just store it on disk (cmd/ctrl+s). To add images, drag and drop them onto the text area. Remove the contenteditable attribute from <body>, save, and voila, you now have a static lightweight blog post ready to be published! Formatting can be a bit wonky but should work in some browsers (cmd/ctrl+b/i/u). Copy+pasting formatted text can potentially break things a bit.

The two colors are from Solarized. Feel free to download the file and update style/markup to your preference.

Some ideas/variations:

Dark theme: https://jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj.github.io/new-note/dark.html

Serif: https://jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj.github.io/new-note/serif.html

HN theme: https://jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj.github.io/new-note/hn.html

With heading: https://jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj.github.io/new-note/with-heading...

It's hard to one up this, and trying only makes it less attractive, but here goes: paste

data:text/html, <html contenteditable style='padding:10%;'

into your browser bar and hit return, then drag the generated page's info icon/navicon from the URL bar to the bookmarks bar, thereby creating a bookmarklet. Clicking that bookmarklet will create new blank contenteditable pages that can be saved the same way. Customize the look by stuffing your favorite CSS into that style attribute. Adding a whole <stylesection used to be possible but doesn't seem to work anymore, presumably because modern browsers won't run any old nonsense pasted into a URL bar. Read the rest

Tube: minimalist YouTube search

Madeline Cameron's Tube is a minimalist YouTube search engine: no recommendations, no nonsense, just a search bar, a list of results with thumbnails, and clean chromeless full-screen video embeds. [via] Read the rest

3D realtime map of objects in Earth orbit

stuffin.space is a real-time 3D map of all the crap floating in circles around planet Earth, much of it put there by us.

The website updates daily with orbit data from Space-Track.org and uses the excellent satellite.js Javascript library to calculate satellite positions.

About the author

My name is James Yoder; I'm an alumnus of FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 624 and an incoming Electrical and Computer Engineering freshman at the University of Texas at Austin.

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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

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