OK Go’s long history of viral music videos

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You don’t need to like OK Go’s brand of alternative rock to appreciate their offbeat yet ingenious music videos. Their recent “The Writing’s On The Wall” would be a fun watch even without an audio track. But this isn’t the Los Angeles-based band’s first brush with viral fame. Their initial taste of stardom came after rehearsal footage for “A Million Ways” was published on YouTube. The quirky choreography became an immediate hit, and over 2 million people have watched it since.

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The new NSA director downplays damage from the Snowden leaks

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The National Security Agency is putting on a charm offensive. The agency’s new director, Admiral Michael S. Rogers, sat down for an interview with The New York Times on Friday, offering his opinion on the current state of the agency. “I understand where we are,” Rogers told the paper, saying that while the agency retains much of its previous corporate support, many companies and specialists have turned their backs on the agency in recent months. “I don’t waste a lot of time saying, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to work with us?'”

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Blackwater mercenary chief threatened to kill a State Department investigator in Iraq

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The mercenary group Blackwater has long been a target for criticism — but when a investigator from the State Department started looking into reports of fraud and abuse, Blackwater’s top manager threatened to have him killed. A deep investigation by the New York Times‘ James Risen has turned up evidence of widespread wrongdoing by the company, including systematic fraud and abuse of power against the local population. Even more troubling is how powerless the government was to stop the company, paralyzed by embassy connections and administrative secrecy. Read the full report here.

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See the Soviet X-ray records used to spread banned music

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Before tape recorders made it easy (enough) to save a copy of your favorite song, clever music fans turned to records to duplicate music for their own use and help it spread. According to NPR, this was a particularly important tool for residents of the Soviet Union who, during the 1950s and earlier, used it for gaining access to banned music, particularly from the West. At the time, vinyl was scarce, however, so they ended up using a different material: X-ray film. Using discarded X-rays from hospitals and archives, people would trim them into circles, place a hole in their center, and imprint music onto them.

Back in May, NPR published an in-depth piece on the tools used for dissent in the Soviet Union, including these records. It has…

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Lollapalooza is launching a cashless payment system

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Chicago’s Lollapalooza Music Festival is launching a new cashless system, allowing attendees to buy food and drink with a personal RFID bracelet distributed on entrance. To pay a vendor, concertgoers will simply tap their bracelet against a vendor’s point-of-sale system, wirelessly transmitting their credit card information. The system requires users to opt-in in advance, so no one will be forced to load their credit cards onto the bracelet, but organizers even partial adoption to speed up often chaotic food and drink lines.

Bonnaroo and Coachella both use RFID bracelets as ticket substitutes, but neither has taken the leap to a full RFID-enabled payment system. For large festivals, the bracelets can also be used to create a record of…

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ConnecTV Acquires TweetTV To Add Real-Time Analytics To Its Social TV Platform

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Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 12.59.02 Both Twitter and Facebook are vying for pole position as the platform of choice for social TV engagement — the place where viewers go to quip about TV shows in real time – but there are movements among pure-play startups to build up their positions, too. In the latest of these, ConnecTV is buying TweetTV to add more analytics features to a network that already lets… Read More

Zap Zap Fractions Makes Learning Math Fun

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Zap Zap Fractions Zap Zap Fractions is an iPad and iPhone math app for children that manages to be both instructional and beautiful. When I saw the game demoed by its creators, Malaysia-based Visual Math Studio, at the recent Echelon event, I was impressed by its illustrations of aliens and spaceships, as well as its entertainment value. The concept behind the game, which teaches kids the basics of fractions,… Read More

Resources For Writing About Programming

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Today was Open Source Bridge’s unconference day. I led a session about improving our writing skills. I wanted to gather more ideas to supplement my talk and my article on “Writing an Excellent Programming Blog”. A half-dozen smart people showed up with tips and links. Here are my notes.

Some examples of unusually well-written programming books:
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Using Promises in Node.js Apps

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To separate logic of accessing data from the routes, we create separate modules to handle the task of data access. When I started learning Node.js, a common pattern that I saw in some samples to separate the data access logic from routing was as follows:
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To separate logic of accessing data from the routes, we create separate modules…

Globo Buys SourceBits In Push For U.S. Mobile App Development Market

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mobile phones Globo, an enterprise mobile messaging and device management and application development software developer traded on the London Stock Exchange’s small-cap AIM Market, has bought the mobile application development service Sourcebits.
Founded in 1997 as a content management company, Globo went public on the AIM in 2008 as it transitioned from content management into mobile device and… Read More

The Numinous Veil Of Ignorance

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behind-the-curtain In watching the latest drama unfold over Facebook and its experimentation with users, I’m moved to argue that sometimes you can be too honest. For game makers especially sometimes it’s better for users not to know, for you to hint and inspire but never reveal the inner secrets. To preserve the numinous magic, it’s often better not to show the man behind the curtain. Read More

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