The design flaw that almost wiped out an NYC skyscraper

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Slate:

When it was built in 1977, Citicorp Center was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world. You can pick it out of the New York City skyline by its 45 degree-angled top.

But it’s the base of the building that really makes the tower so unique. The bottom nine of its 59 stories are stilts.

This thing does not look sturdy. But it has to be sturdy. Otherwise they wouldn’t have built it this way.

Right?

I’ve been reading about this story for years and it’s a fascinating one of design, ethics and responsibility.

Gillette’s new razor is everything that’s wrong with American innovation

. New York magazine:

The Wall Street Journal obtained the marketing materials for Gillette’s new razor, the ProGlide FlexBall. The ProGlide FlexBall can cut each whisker 23 microns shorter — about a quarter of the width of a strand of human hair.

I won’t mince words: ProGlide FlexBall is a bad idea. A really bad idea. In fact, the razor represents everything terrible about America’s innovation economy.

It’s amazing how many gimmicks razor manufacturers have come up with to try and get us to by sharp bits of metal to scrape along our faces.

Epic pen spinning

You know that pen spinning thing you do? You can stop now. These kids do it better than you could ever imagine doing it.

Anki Drive adds new cars, tracks, and an old-school racing mode

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The Verge:

Anki Drive, the real-world racing game that uses your iPhone as the controller, is expanding its lineup today to include new cars, tracks, and Anki Drive is finally getting an old-school racing mode to go along with its existing battle mode.

In an unusual twist, players who buy Corax will not be able to play as him until they defeat the car in battle with the artificial intelligence set to “medium.” “You have to earn that right by first beating him in battle mode,” says Mark Palatucci, Anki’s co-founder and chief product officer.

I bought (and returned) the original Anki Drive precisely because it didn’t have a Race Mode. These will be welcome updates to many.

How to put a Mustang on top of the Empire State Building

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Wired:

Thursday is the Mustang’s 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Ford plopped a 2015 Mustang GT convertible onto the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Ford pulled the same stunt with the original Mustang, but five decades of technological advancements haven’t made it any easier to pull off. The deck is 1,000 feet up, so using a crane is out of the question. And the building’s tall spire rules out lowering the car from a helicopter.

That leaves the freight elevator.

The Observation Deck of the Empire State Building is one of those places you have to go to when you visit New York City. While this is a marketing stunt, it sure as heck isn’t a cheap one.

Don’t miss the Lunar Eclipse on April 14–15!

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Slate:

Do you live in North America, South America, Australia, or eastern Asia? Then you get to see a lunar eclipse on the night of April 14–15! And while North America is the best place to watch—we’ll get to see the whole event—the real action doesn’t begin until 05:58 UTC on the April 15, which is just before 02:00 EDT, so it’s a bit late. You might just want to stay up for it, though.

I’ll be having a nap later this afternoon so I can get up and take photos of the eclipse. In related news, apparently I’m so old now I need a nap in order to be up at midnight.

iCloudy with a 100% chance of stupidity

. The Robservatory:

I use a lot of cloud services for file storage, primarily Dropbox, but also Box and (begrudgingly, for certain shared projects) Google Drive. I also use iCloud, but not in any way that would be considered a true cloud file storage service. I use it strictly as a sync service for contacts, calendars, reminders, notes, Safari; I also use Back to My Mac. But that’s it; I don’t use iCloud for cloud-based file management at all. Why not? Because iCloud in its current implementation is chock full of the stupid, at least for those of us who still use and rely on OS X.

When people say, “Apple doesn’t get Web Services”, this is a prime example of it.

What it’s like to design a font from scratch

. Fast Company:

Steve Matteson has designed some of the most ubiquitous typefaces in the world, and engineered the original core fonts for Microsoft, adapting Times New Roman, Arial, and Courier, which you’ve probably used for term papers or resumes or anything else you wrote in Word. He has also created some less-classic designs that he’s not too proud of, such as “Curlz,” which falls in the Comic Sans camp of typefaces reserved for high school yearbooks, princess-themed birthday party invitations, and mockery.

But that is the plight of a professional font designer: One day you get to make lasting letter sets, the next you have to pay the bills. “Sometimes you have to do work that you’re not really proud of,” Matteson told Fast Company. “That’s why we call it work instead of play.”

I know literally nothing about fonts – I couldn’t point out Geneva if you put a gun to my head – but the process is endlessly fascinating to me.

Can you identify these cities from their light signatures?

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Nautilus:

The light that a city emits is like its glowing fingerprint. From the orderly grid of Manhattan, to the sprawling, snaking streets of Milan, to the bright contrast of Kuwait’s ring-roads, each city leaves its own pattern of tiny glowing dots. See if you can ID these cities based on the way they shine.

I got 13 out of 16 right but I definitely guessed on at least three of them.

Font war: inside the design world’s $20 million divorce

. Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

For 15 years, Frere-Jones and Hoefler seemed charmed. They made typefaces that rendered the stock charts in the Wall Street Journal readable and helped Martha Stewart sell cookbooks.

In January, Frere-Jones filed a lawsuit against Hoefler, saying that their company was not actually a partnership, but a long con in which Hoefler had tricked him into signing over the rights to all of his work, cheating Frere-Jones out of his half of the business.

Sad, fascinating story. Watch the two men in happier times in the short film, “Font Men”.

The 100 best Sci-Fi movies ever

. Esquire:

Cinema exists to project our dreams. Science-fiction cinema exists to project our most creative dreams—time-travel, alternate worlds, expanded consciousness, and more. That’s why we’re science-fiction maniacs and why we gathered up our top 100 movies.

Interesting list and a great primer for those unfamiliar with the genre.

Why every world map you’re looking at is wrong

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Daily Mail:

Take a look at a map today, and you’re likely to see that North America is larger than Africa, Alaska is larger than Mexico and China is smaller than Greenland. But in reality China is four times bigger than Greenland, Africa is three times bigger than North America and Mexico is larger than Alaska.

The distortion is the result of the Mercator projection, the map most commonly seen hanging in classrooms and in text books, which was created in 1596 to help sailors navigate the world.

Maps have always fascinated me and this is “old news” but if you have kids, go ahead and blow their mind showing them the Mercator map they are likely familiar with compared to other maps like the Gall-Peters projection.

Google’s sneaky new privacy change affects 85% of iPhone users—but most won’t have noticed

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Quartz:

“What Google really wants is for everybody to be signed in to their Google accounts all the time,” a Google insider told me in passing last month.

This change affects only Apple users who have upgraded to iOS 7, the latest version—but that’s 85% of iOS devices. They no longer have the ability to remain anonymous as they watch videos on YouTube or navigate their cities using Google Maps.

“Don’t be evil” indeed.

The woman behind Apple’s first icons

. Priceonomics:

Susan Kare “was the type of kid who always loved art.” As a child, she lost herself in drawings, paintings, and crafts; as a young woman, she dove into art history and had grandeur dreams of being a world-renowned fine artist.

But when a chance encounter in 1982 reconnected her with an old friend and Apple employee, Kare found herself working in a different medium, with a much smaller canvas — about 1,024 pixels. Equipped with few computer skills and lacking any prior experience with digital design, Kare proceeded to revolutionize pixel art.

Kare is a legend and I never tire of reading or hearing about her story.

The science of a slapshot

Did you know that when a hockey player winds up for a slap shot they’re not trying to hit the puck?

Duh. I’m Canadian.

How Gmail happened: the inside story of its launch 10 years ago today

. Time:

If you wanted to pick a single date to mark the beginning of the modern era of the web, you could do a lot worse than choosing Thursday, April 1, 2004, the day Gmail launched.

Scuttlebutt that Google was about to offer a free email service had leaked out the day before. But the idea of the search kingpin doing email was still startling, and the alleged storage capacity of 1GB—500 times what Microsoft’s Hotmail offered—seemed downright implausible. So when Google issued a press release date-stamped April 1, an awful lot of people briefly took it to be a really good hoax. (Including me.)

Gmail turned out to be real, and revolutionary. And a decade’s worth of perspective only makes it look more momentous.

I still remember getting that Google press release and thinking, “This is the stupidest April Fool’s Day prank ever.”

The simplicity of Apple’s advertising: 1977-1997

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VintageZen:

I’ve collected print ads from Apple, from their earliest days in the late 1970s to the present, which illuminate their continued focus on simplicity in design. In the first part of this two part series, I’ll look at Apple’s first twenty years of advertising.

We often think about Apple’s TV commercials when we talk about their advertising but for many years, it was all about print ads. How many of these do you remember?

How Dropbox knows when you’re sharing copyrighted stuff (without actually looking at your stuff)

TechCrunch:

Late last night, a tweet was spread far and wide showing that a DMCA notice had blocked a file from being shared on a Dropbox user’s account.

What was going on? Was Dropbox suddenly doing something sketchy? Were they suddenly lurking around their users’ folders, digging for copyrighted material hiding amongst personal files?

Nope. The system is neither new, nor sketchy. It’s been in place for years.

You may have seen the original tweet fly around on the weekend. As is often the case, if you wait – rather than Chicken Little panic – someone comes up with a good explanation for the “offence”.

Your salary vs. a major league baseball player’s salary

Online Sports Marketing Guy:

Have you ever wondered how much money you make compared to a Major League Baseball player? The interactive visualization can be used to compare your salary and the average US worker’s salary to any MLB player across several different statistics from the 2013 season.

Take my advise – do not do this. It’s way too depressing.

Company buys every cd, dvd, and video game you don’t want

Fast Company:

Decluttr buys anything–because that’s their business model. They will literally buy any CD, DVD, or video game you want to mail them. And they pay the postage, too.

Might be a way to get rid of all that old media you have no use for.

The business of building roller coasters

Priceonomics:

Perhaps no other creation in history has navigated the divide between terror and unadulterated joy as skillfully as the roller coaster.

Since these “scream machines” were introduced nearly 250 years ago, they have brought millions to tears in all capacities. As one roller coaster designer told us, anonymously: “My job is basically to get as close to making people poop their pants as possible, then have them step off in ecstasy and want to go again.”

I’ve always loved roller coasters. One of my biggest regrets while I was living in the US was not getting to the sixteen roller coasters of Cedar Point, Ohio.

Bruce Tognazzini on the iWatch

askTog:

Before delving into what an Apple smartwatch might look like, we need to understand why, right now, people not only think they don’t need a smartwatch, they flat-out don’t want a smartwatch.

Long piece on the subject but Tog brings up some interesting points as to what he sees as the advantages and disadvantages of a smart watch.

Here’s what the first Macworld looked like in 1985

SFGate:

The first MacWorld in 1985 looked much different than the current incarnation, which peaked with more than 50,000 attendees at Moscone Center several years ago.

The show starts this week and, while it is the barest shadow of what it was in its glory days, it’s still a show I miss going to if only for the friends and colleagues who are there.

Apple engineer recalls the iPhone’s birth

Wall Street Journal: Mr. Christie’s team devised many iPhone features, such as swiping to unlock the phone, placing calls from the address book, and a touch-based music player. The iPhone ditched the keyboard then common on advanced phones for a … Continued

Time is ticking for Apple to announce an iWatch, say analysts

CNBC:

Apple needs an iWatch sooner rather than later, or the company will risk losing its innovative edge to rivals, analysts say.

“They only have 60 days left to either come up with something or they will disappear,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director at Global Equities Research.

The single stupidest thing ever written about Apple. When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you’ll know that’s saying something.

Ars Technica tests a “bulletproof” iPhone screen protector. With a gun. And bullets.

Ars Technica:

Screen protectors: don’t use ‘em, don’t want ‘em, don’t need ‘em. I’ve been rocking a naked smartphone since 2007, and I don’t ever anticipate changing. And yet the screen protector PR pitch that landed in my inbox last week proved difficult to resist:

Subject: Preview the bulletproof iPhone? On March 18, Sir Lancelot’s Armor will announce the first reusable screen protectors for iPhones and iPads made of bulletproof glass….If interested in getting a sample to use or test, please let me know the model and color of your iPhone.

The only word I needed to hear was “bulletproof.”

I got the same PR email and thought, “Bull.” Glad to see testing proved me right.

Apple CEO Tim Cook: New book on company is nonsense

CNBC:

Apple CEO Tim Cook has issued a statement about a new book about the tech giant called, “Haunted Empire,” saying it is “nonsense” and fails to capture Apple or former CEO and Co-Founder Steve Jobs.

Very interesting that Cook released a statement like this.

Apple iPod Hi-Fi

Minimally Minimal:

The only thing people seem to love to talk about more than Apple’s success are their failures. The iPod Hi-Fi is considered one of the classic Apple failures. Apple discontinued it just a year after its launch and it received universally lukewarm reviews. I’ve always had a crush on it though. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware and I’ve always loved the idea of having a speaker that pairs perfectly with my iPod.

This is one of those products I wish I could sit down with Ive over a beer and ask, “What were you thinking!?”