Dienstag, 31. März 2015

Clean Your Teeth like a Dentist with the One-Minute Flossing Technique

You’ve probably been told time and time again that flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing. The technique demonstrated in this video is the way the pros floss and it doesn’t take more than a minute to do.

In this video, dentist and YouTuber Dr. Carlos Meulener explains the best method for controlling a piece of dental floss. You use your thumbs to floss the top teeth and then use your middle fingers to floss the bottom teeth. Make one of your digits a pivot point so the other thumb or finger can just rotate around, making sure you clean the walls of both teeth in the gap as you go. With a technique like this, there’s always time to floss. If you’re still having a hard time maneuvering the floss in your mouth, however, you can also try tying the floss in a loop.

The One Minute Flossing Technique | YouTube

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'Un Chien Andalou' inspires a surreal indie game from Russian devs

In 1929, famed artist Salvador Dalí and filmmaker Luis Buñuel awoke from a night of strange dreams, Buñuel recalling the image of a razor blade cloud slicing through the moon as if it were an eyeball, and Dalí describing a human hand covered in ants....

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Anonymous messaging app Yik Yak is testing a photo feature


Yik Yak, the anonymous messaging app, is testing a new feature that would let users share photos, Mashable has learned.

Yik Yak is in the early stages of testing the feature on some college campuses for limited periods of time, sometimes as brief as several hours, in order to get feedback from users, according to sources familiar with the matter. Yik Yak confirmed the development to Mashable.

Uploaded photos must be snapped from inside the app. (Photos from your camera roll need not apply.) Photos are moderated and approved by Yik Yak employees, which can result in a delay before the image shows up in feeds. Any photos featuring faces, nudity, or behavior the moderator deems "inappropriate" or "illegal" won't make into feeds. Read more...

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12 obnoxious texting pranks to send your friends


Nothing says Millennial like a good text prank.

As technology has evolved, so has the art of pranking. Need proof? Download a whoopee cushion app. There are new ways to trick people and the same old jokes won't work. You try the ol' "air horn attached to the work chair" trick and see how fast you get laughed out of the Google offices, Grandma

Top pranksters know they need to keep up with the times to stay relevant, but not everyone has the time or money to turn an entire house into a ball pit.

The easiest and farthest reaching modern technology prank is practically glues to the palm of your hand. Text messages may not be the newest form of communication but they are the most common. What I'm trying to say is that pranking someone on Meerkat is still a few month away from being most effective Read more...

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You're about to see a lot more baby photos in your Facebook feed


Facebook now has a dedicated feature that lets parents tag their children in photos.

The social network rolled out a new feature on Tuesday called Scrapbook for parents to create customizable shared photo albums of their children in the Facebook app and on the web.

Scrapbooks differ from the traditional Facebook photo album in that multiple family members can contribute to the same album, which will appear in the Photos menu of each parent who collaborates. Parents can also tightly control who can see photos in scrapbooks and how their children are tagged. If parents don't want their child's name on Facebook, for example, they can choose to identify their child by a nickname or initials. Read more...

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Behind the App: The Story of Fences

Behind the App: The Story of Fences

You might not realize you need Fences until you use it. It’s such a simple app that helps you organize your desktop icons into separate spaces—yes, fencing off different categories to organize your clutter.

Fences was developed by Jeff Bargmann, a life long app developer who needed a way to organize his desktop back in high school. The idea stuck, and years later became fully fledged Windows application distributed by Stardock. And so my messy desktop was changed forever. We spoke with Jeff to learn about its development, distribution, and the story behind the app.

Where did the idea for the app come from? Were you trying to solve a problem you’d experienced, or did the inspiration come from somewhere else?

Fences was a pretty fun story actually. While “Fences” didn’t come about until 2006, the original prototype dates back some six years to ~2000. I was in high school at the time managing our school’s web editors’ club, and noticed that the desktops across the lab were inconsistent, harming our team’s productivity. I had the idea to standardize the desktops with labeled groups for the projects we had the team working on. I was already deep into coding on Windows with other apps, so I decided to go for it, and “Desktop Icon Organizer” was born.

It wasn’t until another six years later that I decided to polish the edges and take the program commercial. I’d had my hands pretty full between college and other apps at the time. Until then I’d just been using the early rough version for myself, but enough people had noticed the app on my desktop and asked for a copy that completing the project became a pretty clear thing to do.

After you came up with the idea, what was the next step?

When I had the idea originally, the next step was to validate the idea technically. I began experimenting to see if it could be done, how it could be done, the best way to get it done, etc., and built a proof of concept. This technical deep-dive also critically helps you discover what’s possible, levels of difficulty and so on, so your “product team” knows their options while deciding what to make, and your “engineering team” knows how to cost and budget said options. This process has been the same for every product I’ve ever made.

Once I decided to commercialize the project, after completing the coding work required, the first step was to test it out in the market. I started up an invite-only beta, launch page and beta sign-up, and began talking with a publisher I’d had a long standing relationship with, Stardock. Together, we posted a link on a few message boards popular back in the day, WinCustomize, BetaNews, etc. to spread the word, and a few hundred people initially signed up. Testers could enter in why they wanted to be involved and how it’d affect their workflow, which helped us learn about customer motivations, and helped develop personal connections for great beta testing. Stardock, their CEO, and I worked closely together during this period but kept the app grass-roots until we reached agreement on publishing the app under their umbrella.

So the running themes above: next steps were to learn, validate and to simply keep moving.

What was your biggest roadblock and how did you overcome it?

Like with most apps, distribution was our biggest challenge with Fences. On top of the usual discovery issue, the feedback we kept getting was that people didn’t realize they needed it until they tried it, at which point they were hooked.

Fences did however have a distinct advantage in that it was highly viral by virtue of it’s visibility. People saw it on other people’s desktops, asked what it was, played with it then had to get it themselves. But the viral loop falls flat if you limit your adoption with a pay-wall or trial limitations.

So, we decided to take a pretty risky approach. Thanks to the app being published by Stardock, we had a fantastic platform for getting word out about the product. But instead of charging for the app, we decided to make it entirely free in hopes to find a way to monetize later.

This both worked and it didn’t. It did solve distribution. The first two years we got great traction. We were getting 35,000 downloads a week and had amassed over a million active users using and advocating the app. Trouble was that despite the time, cost and opportunity-cost of developing and marketing the product, no one was buying. The day—a year in—when we went freemium with “Pro” was a huge disappointment. And since we’d built goodwill based on the app being free, we couldn’t just start charging for it the way it was.

We spent the next year trying different approaches with Pro but it just didn’t take. The app began to languish. In fact, it sat for a year while we started working on other things, until we decided we had to do something. Had we solved our distribution problem and killed our product at the same time?

Summer 2012 we decided to make a brand new shining v2.0, and this one we’d charge for. We didn’t take away the free 1.0, but 2.0 had key new features users had been asking for like folder portals, some innovative new features like desktop “pages,” a brand new UI and some really great polish. Our hope was that if we provided a meaningful upgrade, we’d be rewarded for the work even if we charged. We tried it and it worked! Our 6,000 “download” hits per day instead became an established sales pipeline, and the incoming traffic didn’t go away like we feared it might. Users who didn’t want to pay could still find 1.0 free, so negative reaction was very limited. And to boot, we had a huge existing user base we could notify about the new version.

So in the end (and almost four years after) our distribution gamble worked out, but it wasn’t without it’s risks.

Behind the App: The Story of Fences

What was launch like for you? How was the reception of the app?

There were no app stores back in the day, so “launching” Fences was a much different kind of event. By the time Fences launched, thousands of people were already using it.

Instead of treating launch as the validation event, with Fences we let the product evolve naturally through it’s development, steadily reaching larger audiences, learning and adapting each step along the way. We tested with 10, 100, 200, 1000 people etc, and became more and more confident in our direction. A “launch” then just becomes a marketing event for a thoroughly validated product.

In contrast, having been part of iOS launches in recent years, I find this much more natural than the spike and inevitable “trough of sorrow” you see nowadays. On mobile, launches themselves become built-up validation steps that you could previously accomplish with much less drama; in fact many successful apps emulate these old days by launching soft. Unfortunately due to the transparency of today’s marketplaces, soft launching can give the appearance of floundering and staleness, and so isn’t always the right choice. Sometimes you still want to launch big, validate, pivot as needed and go from there. Thankfully, none of this was necessary with Fences, and the organic approach was the way to go.

How do you handle user requests and criticisms effectively?

Carefully. Early in my career I took user requests without much discipline, and learned the hard way that doing so leads to bloated and unfocused product.

Your job as a product manager is to extract themes and patterns from user feedback. With Fences, we collected this data on our message boards. In more recent apps like PhotoDrive, feedback links were prominent in-app to give users an easy outlet to speak up. Criticisms I treat like any countering viewpoint; in that it’s a data point, and data points form a trend. I carefully consider but don’t roll over, and encourage further counters to challenge my position. As I see a trend, I brainstorm with others and we come up with a plan to address. Pretty straightforward.

On the engineering side of things, criticisms must be jumped on more actively. I’m a big follower of the Toyota Production System methodology applied to software development. The moment you see a problem you drop everything and make a small allotment to remedy, to maximize quality and minimize build-up of technical debt. If unresolvable in that time, you make a decision on whether to prioritize or to queue. Fences is in a mature spot, but it’s a pretty complex product behind the scenes. Earlier on it was common for me diagnose issues via screen-sharing to see what was up. Now developing in iOS, I rely on exhaustively-thorough debug logs and MixPanel analytics to virtually “be there.” Reacting to criticisms on the engineering side is key to high quality.

What advice would you give to others that want to take on a similar project?

  • Start small.

  • Experiment.

  • Experiment more!

  • Just keep creating. Solve problems and be crafty.

  • Learn. And validate. Step away, clear your mind and give it a hard look a week or month later. Do this more than once.

  • Find partners! Don’t do this alone.

  • Choose your partners very carefully.

  • Develop a small group of trusted advisors.

  • Develop relationships with mentors. Listen to them. Contribute in return.

  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Try things. Fail fast. Learn. Keep moving.

  • Not a lot of people get the chance to do something creative like this. Don’t forget to appreciate this and have fun.

Good luck out there!

Every other Wednesday, Behind the App gives an inside look at how some of our favorite apps came to be—from idea to launch (and beyond). Have someone you’d like to see featured? Email Andy.

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Apple opens the floodgates to Watch-friendly apps

You may have noticed a few Apple Watch-friendly iOS apps trickle out, but brace yourself: you're about to face a torrent of them. Apple has opened up WatchKit app submissions to all developers (not just the handful of early partners from before), so ...

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Bring Back SoundCloud's Fantastic Desktop App

Bring Back SoundCloud's Fantastic Desktop App

With all these rich musicians making a ruckus about Jay Z’s overpriced streaming music service, I’m getting a little emotional. Not about Jay Z’s overpriced streaming music service. About the bygone golden era of streaming music’s erstwhile golden boy: SoundCloud.

In a way, you can chart that golden era to the lifespan of the SoundCloud desktop app. The app arrived with the launch of Apple’s Mac App store in January 2011, a solid six months before Spotify entered the US market. SoundCloud summed up the appeal concisely in its announcement blog post:

The absolute coolest part: it’s free .

It was wonderful, too. The SoundCloud desktop app was the first thing I downloaded from the new Mac App Store, and it quickly replaced iTunes as my primary music player. Instead of listening to my pirated copy of the new Beach House album, I spent hours streaming gut-wrenching remixes, getting lost in DJ mixes from far off cities, and watching “WOW!” comments pop up in real time when the beat dropped.

I liked controlling everything with my keyboard and hiding the app in a corner while I browsed the web. I liked finding new artists and buying tickets to their shows when they came to town. After discovering them on SoundCloud, I go to see Aeroplane as often as possible. I even recorded some of my own stuff.

Bring Back SoundCloud's Fantastic Desktop App

In early 2013, SoundCloud quietly pulled the app “due to resources.” Mercifully, SoundCloud offered a Github link to an app close, though it really resembles a clone of the SoundCloud website. The website lacks the fast, easy browsing that I loved about the app. So now I do my desktop listening with Spotify, and I pay for the privilege. Soon, plenty of silly people will be doing it with Tidal, that overpriced new service from Jay Z and his rich friends.

SoundCloud is still free, though that probably won’t be the case for long. The Swedish startup recently raised $60 million at a $700 million valuation, a sure sign that its slow march into the record industry is nearing completion. This flood of money came just a few months after SoundCloud signed a licensing deal with Warner Music, the first deal the streaming music site ever struck with a major label. This ensured that Warner artists got paid when their music played on SoundCloud. It was also around the time I noticed my own (bad) DJ mixes were getting taken down in the name of copyright. SoundCloud also said it was prepping a paid subscription service at the same time.

Of course SoundCloud wants some of that Spotify money. It’s not a charity! And with over 175 million unique listeners a month, SoundCloud is a giant compared to Spotify’s 50 million users. And with Tidal’s glitzy relaunch—and Apple quietly prepping a new iteration of the Beats-powered streaming service—the music industry’s not getting any less competitive. Even YouTube is getting involved.

I guess it’s worth admitting that I might not miss SoundCloud’s desktop app from 2011 as much as I miss the nascent state of streaming music in 2011. I miss the time when DJs could upload an original mix of a dozen amazing tracks without expecting a DMCA notice the next day. I miss the time when new artists could completely subvert the aging major label model by putting their tracks in front of listeners without a record industry executive getting involved. You can ostensibly still do that on SoundCloud—until your remember that Warner Music is in on it.

What will be will be. The internet’s always been a bit of an ad-supported utopia, and it didn’t take corporations too long to realize that they’d make even more money if they owned the content, too. If my precious free app disappears due to lack of resources, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Maybe SoundCloud will bring back the desktop app when it launches its paid subscription service. I’ll pay for it, too. In the meantime, nobody needs to put another dollar in Jay Z’s pocket. He’s got enough problems.

Images via Soundcloud

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Everything we know about Tidal, the artist-owned music streaming service


What is Tidal?

After Monday's star-studded yet surprisingly uninformative unveiling of Jay Z's new streaming venture in New York City, that question — and a host of others — is still being asked

To help clear up some confusion, here's a primer on everything we know about the platform, the business decisions behind it, who's involved, and how it differs from rivals such as Spotify

1. What is Tidal?

Tidal is a music subscription service for audio and video files. The focus is on the quality of the sound; Tidal also promises exclusive releases from artists, particularly from its 16 celebrity stakeholders Read more...

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Buy an LG G3 in the US, get a free VR headset

LG's new mobile VR headset -- which is basically just a plastic version of Google's cardboard VR viewer -- is finally hitting American shores. The company just announced that it'll be throwing in a free headset, simply called the VR for G3, with the ...

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Get a Live Web Page Preview from Spotlight on a Mac

Get a Live Web Page Preview from Spotlight on a Mac

Spotlight does all kinds of great stuff, and OS X Daily points out that there’s also an easy way to get a quick look at a web page.

If you’ve gone to a web site using Safari, you can simply type the URL into Safari, scroll down to the bookmarks section, and you’ll see a live preview of the site. It’s a pretty handy way to check in on a site without ever opening up that distraction of a web browser.

View Live Webpage Previews in Spotlight on Mac OS X | OS X Daily

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A Day in the Life of the Fastest Growing Megacity in the World

A Day in the Life of the Fastest Growing Megacity in the World

China’s rapid growth isn’t all about wacky buildings—there are also millions of people whose lives have been uprooted in the name of progress.

Many of them have moved to the new megacity of Chongqing, where photographer Tim Franco has managed to capture its hyper-vertical, accelerated brand of urbanism, and the odd juxtapositions it creates with the humans who live there.

Franco, who is a photographer living in Shanghai, has been making trips to Chongqing since 2009. He has collected a gallery of the images on his website and has published a book of the photographs which can be pre-ordered now.

On paper, Chongqing’s population is eight million—not as large as China’s other fast-growing megacity of Shenzhen—but the large number of undocumented workers might make it closer to 30 million, according to Quartz. Last year, the city grew by 4,000 each week.

A Day in the Life of the Fastest Growing Megacity in the World

Many of the people of Chongqing were displaced by construction on the Three Gorges Dam, the largest infrastructure project in the world, which is basically rerouting the Yangtze River to get water to China’s other fastest-growing megacities.

A Day in the Life of the Fastest Growing Megacity in the World

Some of these new residents took jobs at local manufacturing plants and moved into instant skyscrapers, as other residents continue to farm the land between them as they have for centuries.

A Day in the Life of the Fastest Growing Megacity in the World

The building boom is unprecedented. According to Quartz’s Richard Macauley, Chongqing is home to some of the largest bridges in the world, the scale of which is needed simply to get the people from one side of the city to another.

A Day in the Life of the Fastest Growing Megacity in the World

Check out Franco’s beautiful book Metamorpolis, which you can still order at a discounted price until April 15, as well as his special signed editions and prints. [timfranco.com via Quartz]

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The new 'Mad Max: Fury Road' trailer is the wildest ride yet


Why yes, that is a guy playing a flamethrowing guitar atop a race car.

This trailer for the Mad Max reboot looks to be even crazier than the previous three. With spiked-out cars and creepy villains galore, the clip finally addresses the question of just how many explosions can fit into a two-and-a-half minute video. (The answer: not enough.)

Mad Max: Fury Road hits theaters on May 15. The people at NASCAR should take pointers.

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YC-Backed Neverfrost Wants To Kill Windshield Frost And Keep Rocks From Ruining Your Day

I’m a fan of all different sorts of rocks. Rock music. Rock gardens. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But there’s one type of rock that I — and most other drivers, I imagine — hate with a deep, fiery passion: rocks that hit my car’s windshield at 70 mph. Few things so small can wreck your day so suddenly. Everything is going great. The sun is shining. Hell,… Read More

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Reports: Cellphone video recovered from Germanwings crash site shows plane's final moments


A passenger or crewmember on board the doomed Germanwings Flight 9525 reportedly recorded a cellphone video in the final seconds before the crash. German and French media are reporting that investigators found the footage, which was unscathed, at the crash site.

German newspaper Bild and French magazine Paris Match describe the video as "chaotic." It's blurry and doesn't show any of the passengers' faces, according to the German paper. However, the audio is reportedly quite clear

Here's how Paris Match describes the footage:

The scene was so chaotic that it was hard to identify people, but the sounds of the screaming passengers made it perfectly clear that they were aware of what was about to happen to them. One can hear cries of “My God” in several languages. Metallic banging can also be heard more than three times, perhaps of the pilot trying to open the cockpit door with a heavy object. Towards the end, after a heavy shake, stronger than the others, the screaming intensifies. Then nothing. Read more...

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It's a tough day for Trevor Noah, but every day is tough for comedians on Twitter


Less than 24 hours after securing one of the coolest gigs on TV, Trevor Noah — Jon Stewart's Daily Show successor — found himself in hot water over some jokes he made on Twitter years ago

Because Internet

The content of six jokes made between 2009 and 2014 has been enough for Twitter to accuse Noah of anti-semitism, sexism and fat-shaming

But the one label the critics seem to be forgetting? Comedian on Twitter — a distinction that comes with the impossible expectation to be edgy enough to stand out on social media but digestible enough to achieve (or, in some cases, maintain) mainstream success. Read more...

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Flickr gives you the choice to put photos in the public domain

Flickr has long had ways to let others use and tweak your photos, but if you want to give up your copyright altogether? You can now do just that. In the wake of Elon Musk releasing SpaceX's photos to public domain, Flickr has added options for public...

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Scientists Just Broke a Quantum Record By Entangling 3,000 Atoms

Scientists Just Broke a Quantum Record By Entangling 3,000 Atoms

Quantum entanglement is an odd phenomenon that can connect two or more particles over even vast distances. Scientists have now managed to entangle not two, not 100 (the previous record), but 3,000 atoms with a single photon, opening the door to atomic clocks more accurate than ever.

In quantum entanglement, particles are correlated so that a change in one will instantaneously induce a change in others—even if they are at opposite ends of the universe. The classic example is a pair of entangled particles: If one changes its spin to clockwise, the other simultaneously flips to counterclockwise.

Entangling particles, especially large numbers of them, is no easy task. MIT and University of Belgrade scientists report in Nature that they managed to entangle 3,000 particles trapped in a supercooled cloud. The key was using very weak light, as weak as a single photon of light, which is less likely to disturb the cloud than a strong beam. The photon bounced thousands of times between two mirrors, passing back and forth through the cloud of atoms. This was enough to entangle the atoms, which LiveScience explains:

If a photon in a pulse interacted with the cloud’s atoms, the polarization of the photon would rotate slightly. Strangely, in the realm of quantum physics, the act of measurement can dramatically influence the object getting measured, and the act of detecting a photon that interacted with these atoms can essentially generate entanglement between those atoms.

So why does this matter? One possible application is quantum clocks—the more atoms are entangled, the more accurate the clock. This technique might even be used to get around the uncertainty of quantum measurements. (Physics World has a great technical explanation of how.) Atomic clocks are used to keep track of GPS systems.

This could also be a step toward complex entangled states that can give us quantum computing and quantum encryption. But it’s also just pretty damn cool to push the limits of what’s possible. [Nature, LiveScience, MIT]

Top image: Christine Daniloff/MIT and Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

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Build Your Own Automated Emergency Lighting System for Power Outages 

Most of us keep some flashlights and candles around for when the power goes out, which works well enough. If you’d prefer something a little more automated, Make shows off how to build your own lighting system that turns out when the power goes out.

The whole system is wired into your house, so it knows when the power goes out and responds accordingly. As you’d expect, the project’s a bit complicated, so you’ll need some experience with electronics to get this working properly. Head over to Make for the full guide.

Emergency Lighting System | Make

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Microsoft’s Surface 3 Ditches The Pro, But Keeps Full Windows

Why Google Is Tooling Up To Ward Off Rivals Like Dropbox And Microsoft

Distribution Release: Linux Lite 2.4

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Silicon Valley workers thank Ellen Pao with full-page newspaper ad


In the wake of Ellen Pao's losing verdict in her high-stakes gender bias trial, a group of tech workers pooled together money to place a full-page ad in a Palo Alto newspaper with a simple message: "Thanks Ellen."

The ad, which appeared in Tuesday's edition of the Palo Alto Daily Post, features a minimalist design with a stark black page and the two words in small white font in the center, as USA Today first reported. Read more...

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