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Posted by es_de_bah

The fourth series of the fabulously otherworldly collaborative fiction project SCP Foundation was opened to submissions in April of this year. From here comes this tale of A Perfectly Normal, Regular Old IKEA. Readers unfamiliar with SCP format may want to just skip to the journal transcript near the bottom

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Posted by Andrew Liszewski

What if all those apps you rely on at work weren’t trapped on your smartphone’s tiny screen? They may not be for much longer. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Future Interfaces Group lab have come up with a novel way for your smartphone to spill out onto your desk while still letting you interact with apps…


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Posted by Ian Graber-Stiehl on The Root, shared by Sophie Kleeman to Gizmodo

The Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division is responsible for enforcing compliance with federal environmental laws. So to find that the fingerprints of coal lobbyist-turned-ENRD acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Wood are on an environmental-racism scandal is, actually, pretty par for…


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Posted by James Whitbrook on io9, shared by Sophie Kleeman to Gizmodo

It’s always the same with blockbuster movie marketing these days—the closer you get to release, the more and more footage comes out to the point you could piece together everything chronologically and come away with a huge chunk of the actual movie. Sometimes the studios themselves do it for you in the form of…


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Jun. 28th, 2017 11:27 am
bonnefois: ghost_factory @ LJ (Default)
[personal profile] bonnefois
Iddyiddybangbang is going to be open on July tenth. The rules and brainstorming posts are up.
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Posted by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | designer491)

A group of small Internet service providers yesterday urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to preserve the FCC's net neutrality rules and the related classification of ISPs as common carriers.

"We have encountered no new additional barriers to investment or deployment as a result of the 2015 decision to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and have long supported network neutrality as a core principle for the deployment of networks for the American public to access the Internet," the ISPs said in a letter to Pai that was organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The current rules are necessary "to address the anticompetitive practices of the largest players in the market," but "the FCC’s current course threatens the viability of competitive entry and competitive viability," the companies wrote.

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Posted by Ron Amadeo


Google is launching a major redesign for Google News, bringing the site more in line with Google's company-wide "Material Design" guidelines. A gray background and white cards around each story bring the site more in line with what Google has been doing on Android and makes it look a lot like Google Now. Everything is a lot more spaced out, so you'll see less information on a single page. Google says the airier design is "designed for readability" and will make it easier to scan stories.

The site remains recognizable as Google News. There's still a vertical column of sections on the left side, but now the list is customizable. There's also still a right-side column that houses recent items, the weather, sports scores, and local news. Google is highlighting its "Fact Check"  labeling program with a new block in the right column that will show "the top fact checked articles recently published." One new navigation element is a top bar that lets you jump between top headlines, local news, and "For You"—a suggested content section.

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watersword: Sophie Devereaux in a museum, looking up and over her shoulder (Museum)
[personal profile] watersword
Hi Dreamwidth! If you have a DRM-free ebook or ebooks you would like to share, I would be very interested. My tastes are summed up in this post from 2016, but I am willing to explore pretty much any genre (I'm set for The Great Western Canon, I think, thank you Project Gutenberg), with a particular fondness for SFF and historical fiction.

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Posted by adamvasco

US - led attacks in Syria 'kill 472 civilians in a month' The past month saw the highest civilian death toll in US-led coalition air raids since they began, says war monitor.
....as the US enforces its No Fly Zone over Rojava. Just the continuation of six years of genocidal war as Assad, Russia and the US pulverize Syria.
Seven decades, seven facts: US policy on Syria in brief.
What Is Trump's Syria Policy?
steepholm: (Default)
[personal profile] steepholm
So far this diary has been a bit thin on mentions of actual people – but they do exist here in Japan, and I’ve been hanging out with quite a few of them, primarily Miho (who’s my sponsor here and has helped me in all sorts of ways), her assistant and student, Mikako, and her ex-student Satomi. (Satomi and Mikako I met two years ago at a conference in Worcester, which is how I came to have this Japan connection in the first place.) I haven’t yet had occasion to photograph any of them, but if you’re interested here are Mikako and Miho at Miho’s house last year, and here I am with Satomi earlier the same day, enjoying a hanami picnic. Natsukashii indeed – for now the rainy season has arrived in water as well as words, and I write this to the free-style jazz tom-tom of heavy rain bouncing into an avant-garde architectural feature from the mid-1920s. Reminiscing, as is proper in these conditions, I reflect on the vagaries of fate, which made a wayward railway ticket machine in Newcastle-upon-Tyne its instrument to bring me to Japan. For, had said machine not double-charged Satomi for a ticket to the conference in Worcester, I wouldn’t have helped her get a refund over the phone; she wouldn’t have mentioned me to Miho, Miho wouldn’t have discovered our shared research interests, and so on. (The refund came through, too, just six months later - which is the real miracle.)

Unlike my previous visits to Japan, this isn’t simply a tourist trip. For the first three weeks, at least, I’ve several jobs to get on with – so I suppose I won’t be blogging the days when I just sit in my room or Miho’s office preparing lectures or comparing The Borrowers with the UK and US dubs of Arrietty (my task of the moment). So far, I haven’t visited a single shrine or temple. Still, even ordinary life comes with its fair share of firsts. I’m enjoying listening to Japanese radio, and I’ve finally mastered the art of opening an onigiri with aplomb. Meanwhile, this is a view of my home as seen from Miho’s sixth-floor office:


If you have a machete, feel free to hack your way through to my front door and say Hello!

On Saturday I made a trip to Shinjuku – only twenty minutes on the tube, but a world away, in the the privy chamber of Tokyo’s pumping heart. This was where I’d spent my first ever day in Japan, mostly getting lost in Shinjuku station (the world’s busiest, or so I’ve read). This time, as an old Japan hand, I only had to stop and ask directions twice before I found my way to the Keio Department store. I was there to have tea with Yasuka, whom I’d met at Clémentine Beauvais’s York conference back in May. We had a good chat (where I was pleased to find a natural occasion to slip in the expression “kuuki wo yomenai”, which I’d been dying to do for some time); but here I’d like to record a culinary first: kakigoori (or shaved ice). It’s very much a summer treat, so I’d not had the chance to eat it on my previous visits, which were in spring. I went for matcha flavour, tricked out with adzuki beans. Yummy to eye and tongue alike:


(It has to be said that Yasuka’s choice was pretty lush, too.)

Yasuko Shirasu in Keio Depaato, 24 June 2017

Afterwards, I admired the hugely expensive clothes, kitchen appliances, etc., on Keio’s many floors, and played the “Irasshaimase!” game. You know those thrillers where people have to thread their way through a room without tripping any of the laser alarms (always coloured bright red for your convenience)? The “Irasshaimase!” game involves seeing how far you can walk through a Tokyo department store without triggering an "Irasshaimase!" from any of the assistants (“Irasshaimase!” being the welcome accorded, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to any customer who strays into their field of vision). My record so far is 20 metres. I don’t really mind being greeted, but like many Westerners I’m never quite sure how (or whether) to respond. Should I ignore the smiling assistant entirely, as many Japanese seem to? It certainly appears to be going too far to say “Thank you” or “Hello”, unless you’re seriously considering taking the relationship to the next level and buying something. In between lies a sickly repertoire of half-smiles, half-nods, subliminal body-swivellings and other such awkwardnesses, the mastery of which my nation has made its own.

I worked most of Sunday, but in the afternoon declared “No more - I must abroad!” and, having got a taste for urban living, tubed me to Ikebukuro (literally “Pond Bag” – no, I don’t either). I was particularly interested to see the street known, so NHK World had informed me, as “Otome Road”, the female answer to Akihabara, where girl geeks gather to buy figurines, cosplay, check out the latest manga, and perhaps be treated like a princess at the Swallowtail Butler café (Otome Road’s equivalent to Akihabara’s maid cafes).

Advert for Swallowtail Cafe, Ikebukuro

Perhaps four o’clock on a rainy Sunday afternoon wasn’t the best time to visit this demi-monde, but Sunshine City was still busy despite the rain:


(I like this couple the best.)


Otome Road took some finding, even though I picked up a map (two, in fact – in English and Japanese) at the nearby Tourist Information, on which it was clearly marked. When I reached the area where I believed it to be there were, indeed, drifts of teenaged girls, all dressed to the nines (Lolita fashion was their key note), but no lively street of shops that accorded with my mental image of the trendy Otome Road. I asked a couple of the girls and got blank looks, and it was the same story with the assistant in the combini next door. Eventually, someone pointed me down a street that did indeed have some otaku-ish shops here and there along one side (the other side was just car parks and offices) – and that, it appears, was Otome Road; but it seemed awfully thin pickings, compared to what their male equivalents have in Akihabara. (I was later told that “Otome Road” [Young Woman Road] is the term used by male otaku, not by the otome themselves – which perhaps explains the blank looks.)

Eatery of the day: Brasserie Edible. I do admire an establishment that doesn’t oversell itself:

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Posted by George Dvorsky

The world’s most famous yellow submarine has returned home after a successful mission to Antarctica’s Weddell Sea. Expedition organizers say Boaty McBoatface captured “unprecedented” data during its maiden voyage, analyzing deep sea currents at depths exceeding 13,000 feet.


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Posted by Valentina Palladino

Enlarge / THIS is actually the most accurate finger angle for the tall, skinny fingerprint reader. The problem is this is not really comfortable. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

The next wave of fingerprint readers on smart devices could be more inconspicuous than they are now. Earlier this year, Synaptics announced a new range of fingerprint sensors that can be integrated under polymers, ceramics, and glass, potentially providing more functions to Android soft buttons. Rumor has it that Apple has also been experimenting specifically with under-display fingerprint readers, and that's the area that Qualcomm has been focusing on as well. At Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the chip maker showed off its first ultrasonic-based, under-display fingerprint sensors in a prototype of the existing Vivo Xplay6 smartphone.

The technology built into this prototype allows the bottom-third of the smartphone's display to act as the fingerprint reader and unlock the device. As demonstrated in a hands-on demo by Engadget, you simply press your thumb to the display and the device unlocks within a second or so of reading your fingerprint. It doesn't appear to be a speedy as traditional smartphone fingerprint sensors, but that's not surprising since the technology is still in its infancy and hasn't yet been incorporated into any consumer devices.

According to Vivo, the technology could be built out so the entire display could act as a fingerprint sensor. However, that will up the production costs dramatically. Engadget's report says that Vivo could eventually spread the technology through the bottom half of the display rather than just a small portion close to the bottom edge.

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Posted by John Timmer

Enlarge / Web apps, declared Steve Jobs. All the original iPhone needs is Web apps! (credit: Jacqui Cheng)

When 2016 was over, Apple announced that its app store business generated well over $28 billion in sales that year. While that includes sales of software for its desktop operating system, it does not include the vast quantity of applications that are given away for free (many of which enable some sort of transaction when run). By any measure, the app store is big business, and an app-store-like ecosystem has now been part of any mobile OS for years.

One of the striking things about this is that, if you believe Steve Jobs, none of this was ever supposed to be. When the original iPhone was introduced, Jobs announced its development environment: Web apps.

There’s no SDK that you need! You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern Web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today. So developers, we think we’ve got a very sweet story for you. You can begin building your iPhone apps today.

Jobs, of course, was famous for dismissing something as irrelevant right until the moment that Apple was ready to enter that market. The tight deadlines for putting something as complicated as iOS together undoubtedly left some of its SDK in a state of flux, and all of it was poorly documented—things were likely good enough for internal app development, but not the developer community. It was easy to see Jobs' promotion of Web apps as a strategic announcement, meant to put off developer demands while the SDK was cleaned up.

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