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Meet the 12-year-old boy who makes games instead of going to school

Turning on the anti-clickbait filter: Homeschooler builds apps. Sam has been making games from his home in the south of England for “about a year.” He started out playing around with a programming language called Small Basic, a simplified version of Visual Basic, mostly making text-based adventures that are all words and no graphics. | It was Sam’s dad who introduced him to GameMaker: Studio, the creative resource suitable for…

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Seriously, Fuck You, “Kindle Unlimited”

I’m just quoting the f-bomb in the link, but I do agree with the sentiment behind it. Last week, Amazon informed us that for ten dollars per month, Kindle users can have unlimited access to over six hundred thousand books in its library. But it shouldn’t cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of civilization. For a monthly cost of zero dollars, it is…

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Apple faces threat of legal action over ‘in app’ payments

I haven’t taken the plunge and installed a new iOS app on a whim in quite some time, because so many of them require in-app purchases in order to be useful. Now I carefully read the reviews first. Among the issues regulators have highlighted is a default setting within Apple’s app store where, after a payment is made, there is a 15-minute window allowing purchases without requiring a password. The…

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The Surprisingly Savvy Weird Al Internet Machine

When he talks about his business being threatened by YouTube parody video-makers, he’s talking about the fact that the public’s yen for parodies is being met by amateurs. Earlier this week, a young woman turned an infamous recording of a Comcast customer service call into a belty ballad. Between the release of that recording and its conversion into digital video fodder, fewer than 24 hours had elapsed. This is an…

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What Happens When Digital Cities Are Abandoned?

“The great paradox about these digital communities is that they’re easily kept around forever, and they are even more easily deleted utterly,” said Jason Scott, an Internet advocate and archivist who launched a digital preservation team that year…. I recently tried to revisit my own first homepage, a wonder of center-aligned blinking text, purple tiled backgrounds, clever “Under Construction” gifs and pixel-art icons I had traded with other GeoCities page…

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Busy NYC Restaurant Solves Major Mystery by Reviewing Old Surveillance

Restaurant studies surveillance footage to reveal how customers on smartphones take up waiters’ time. Customers fiddle with their phones before ordering, they ask their waiters to snap group photos, they take pictures of the food and themselves with the food when it arrives, they send it back because it’s cold. 14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they…

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How not to attract women to coding: Make tech pink

Just watched videos of the musicals “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Legally Blonde,” so cultural attitudes about women in the workforce are on my mind. Wheat had discovered what Elizabeth Losh, a digital culture scholar at UC San Diego, calls “ridiculous, pink, sparkly techno-princess land.” Pink websites and polka-dotted flyers are what happens when an entire field overcorrects, Losh says. Women are grossly underrepresented in engineering and computer science careers, a…

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Text Games in a New Era of Stories

Clever NYT writer cleverly notices a genre that’s been around for almost 40 years, and praises as a “first glimpse” a work by an author and designer and ambassador and critic who’s been producing canonical works many of us have been glimpsing (and studying and teaching) for about 15 years. But beware the sentences of Emily Short. Because prose. And pages and stuff. Blood & Laurels made me feel more…

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We are the product that Facebook has been testing

Up to now, I refrained from posting anything on the FB “contagion” issue, but this article seems to have the right approach. Facebook has made no secret of the fact that its news feed is a manipulated version of reality. It selects the posts and links to display prominently that it has found through testing are the most likely to interest users, and encourage them to return and post themselves.…

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William Shatner: My Problem With Twitter’s Verified Accounts

At age 84, William Shatner (most famous for portraying Star Trek’s Captain Kirk) is quite knowledgable about social media. I have no dog in the Twitter Verified Accounts fight, but I’m still interested to hear from a celebrity of his generation (my father’s generation) who is this informed about Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, etc. Acting gives you the courage to go (for the lack of better words) where you haven’t…