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The End of Headphone Jacks, the Rise of DRM

When you plug an audio cable into a smartphone, it just works. It doesn’t matter whether the headphones were made by the same manufacturer as the phone. It doesn’t even matter what you’re trying to do with the audio signal—it works whether the cable is going into a speaker, a mixing board, or a recording device. With the headphone jack gone, every other option is controlled by the iPhone’s software. With…

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Crowther’s Adventure: Tough Memes to Squash

Will Crowther, an RPG-er, created the first text-based adventure game for computers Colossal Cave Adventure in 1975.6 When Don Woods developed it into Adventure in 1976-1977 he added the Tolkienian elements of trolls and elves. —Helen Young, Journal of Tolkien Research Well, yes, but Crowther had already started with the Tolkenian elements of underground dwarves, magic, and a call-and-response interface that invokes the spirit of riddles in the dark. The…

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Facebook does not care about truth. Facebook wants to sell your attention to the highest bidder. 

  Don’t trust your Facebook feed. All Facebook wants is for you to spend time on Facebook, so that they can sell your attention to the highest bidder. Facebook recently fired 18 employees whose job was to write headlines for and monitor the “Trending Topics” list. When that list fell under scrutiny for an alleged anti-conservative bias, Facebook conducted an internal review, and reported that it found no evidence of…

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Meet octobot, a soft-bodied robot that looks like the future

Our future robot overlords never looked so squishy. A team of Harvard University scientists has built an entirely soft robot — one that’s inspired by an octopus. The octobot, described this week in the journal Nature, could pave the way toward more effective soft robots that could be used in search and rescue, exploration and to more safely interact with humans. “The octobot is a minimal system designed to demonstrate…

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“Syllabus Day”: The Absolute Worst Way to Start the Semester

I’d rather blog about prepping my fall classes than actually start prepping my classes, so here you go. I don’t spend much time on the syllabus on the first day, though I do show students where key topics are, and I do assign a take-home syllabus quiz. (“If Gus Griffin tells you he’s worried about missing class due to an upcoming surgery, what advice would you give him?”) But there’s…