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May 24, 2011

5-year-old girl goes to Toronoto Game Jam, makes "Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure!"

This guy is a show-in for Dad-of-the-Year. Consider the gauntlet thrown, gentlemen. untoldentertainment.com -- 5-Year-Old Girl Makes Video Game
Cassie drew all the pictures, wrote all the titles, and recorded the voice of the main character. She also came up with the NPCs (including Mr. Turtle, the Mean Tiger, and the villainous Lemon), and designed some of the puzzles (including the one where you [SPOILER ALERT] have to read a sign to justify your need for a coconut to throw at the Lemon). . . . After the organizers expressed concern that my rotten kid would be running around the place pestering people and making noise (an entirely likely scenario, if you’re familiar with my insane children and my lousy parenting style), i spent every evening coaching Cassie. Me: Remember, you’re the first little girl who’s ever made a game at TOJam. And everyone’s worried you’re going to run around screaming and making noise and wrecking things. Cassie: (shocked face) No i won’t! Me: *i* know you won’t. (totally lying here – i was as nervous about it as anyone) But you have to prove to everyone that little girls can make video games too. If you’re very well behaved, then next year if another little girl wants to come and make a game, the TOJam people will say “the little girl who made a game last year was SO wonderful, we’d LOVE to see more little girls making games.” Cassie: i’ll be have. i will! . . .

TinEye, the reverse image search

Instead of searching for images, you give TinEye an image and it searches the web to find where that image is. An excellent tool for tracking down your own wandering images, or for finding the original artist of a work. TinEye Reverse Image Search

May 23, 2011

Four Ways to Make Your iPhone Battery Last Much Longer

Four Ways to Make Your Battery Last Longer - NYTimes.com
Instead, Nicole pointed out a few things that were contributing to my friend’s rapid battery depletion. I took notes and thought I’d pass them along. * Push e-mail. This, I believe, was the big one. My friend has seven e-mail accounts, and her phone was checking each of them every 15 minutes. If you turn off the “Push” feature, and set it to Manually instead (in Settings->Mail, Contacts, Calendars->Fetch New Data), then your iPhone checks for e-mail only when you actually open the e-mail app. Your battery goes a lot farther. (If you have a corporate Exchange account, your calendar and address-book data will similarly be updated only when you open those apps.) * GPS checks. In Settings ->General->Location Services, you’ll see a list of all the apps on your phone that are using your phone’s location feature to know where you are. (It’s a combination of GPS, cell-tower triangulation and, on some phones, Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation.) All of that checking uses battery power, too. My friend had dozens of apps with Location Services turned on, many of which didn’t really need to be on. She turned most of them off. * Notifications. Similarly, in Settings -> Notifications, you see a list of apps that are allowed to display pop-up notifications (those blue text bubbles that look like text messages). To do that, they have to monitor what’s going on with your phone — and that takes juice. Turn off the ones you don’t really need. * Background apps. Nicole the Genius discovered that my friend had a huge number of apps open — maybe 40 of them. She maintained that they were using battery power, too, in the background.

May 12, 2011

Programmable friction makes touchscreens sticky, awesome

One Per Cent: Programmable friction makes touchscreens sticky
Touch screens were a marvel just a few years back - now they seem commonplace. But this week I got to play with a touch-sensitive device that felt genuinely new. It's the work of researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. Their screen comes with built-in "programmable friction" - a technique for adjusting the stickiness of the screen. I was skeptical about this adding much to the user experience, but it turns out to make touch-screen interactions a lot more interesting. The friction adjustment is actually something of a trick. The surface of the screen itself is made of glass and does not become rougher or smoother. Instead, the glass is made to vibrate at around 26,000 Hz by a series of small mechanical discs that sit at the edge of the screen. This creates a thin film of moving air on top of the glass, which has the effect of making the screen feel stickier. By adjusting the vibrations in response to finger movements across the glass, the system can create a convincing illusion in which objects appear to bump into each other or stick to things.