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pbs off book esports thumb

Our very own Paul Miller told you how StarCraft changed his life (and more recently, how much he's been missing the game), but you couldn't ask for a better primer to the competitive video game subculture than PBS Off Book's latest episode. In "The Rise of Competitive Gaming and E-Sports," our favorite new YouTube series traces the roots of today's most popular multiplayer titles back to the arcades, accessibly explains the four most popular genres (shooter, real-time strategy, MOBAs, and fighting games) and — through testimonial and loads of footage — gives you a rough idea of what it looks and feels like to be part of the video game tournament scene. Watch it below.

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Tweet ping

We're all familiar with the gorgeous photos of Earth at night, but what if our world was lit up by information instead of lightbulbs? Developer Franck Ernewein has done just that with Tweet ping, a website that displays tweets as they're posted in real time across the world. The site isn't necessarily an informational tool: it's more of a lean-back, enjoy the action sort of experience. After you open the webpage, public geolocated tweets are streamed in using Twitter's Streaming APIs, and a dot is placed on the map. These dots accumulate while you keep your browser window open, and charts on the bottom of the screen provide some information on how many tweets have come and gone in each region during that period.

It's important to note...

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 DARPA)

As unmanned aerial vehicles continue to populate the skies above battlefields and college campuses faster than anyone can count them, the US government has taken a keen interest in equipping them with an increasing number of state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. The latest to be revealed is DARPA’s frightening ARGUS-IS, a record-setting 1.8 gigapixel sensor array which can observe and record an area half the size of Manhattan. The newest in the family of "wide area persistent surveillance" tools, the system can detect and track moving objects as small as six inches from 20,000 feet in the air.

But what’s most terrifying about ARGUS (fittingly named after Argus Panoptes, the 100-eyed giant of Greek myth) is what happens...

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Facebook Android login screen (stock)

In the wake of growing debates over mobile privacy, the US Federal Trade Commission has urged mobile platform and app developers to make users aware of what personal information is being collected and how it's being used. In a new report, the FTC notes that mobile devices "facilitate unprecedented amounts of data collection," since they're virtually always turned on and carried with a single user. To stop information from being collected and spread without users' knowledge or consent, the FTC says platforms and developers should require agreement when sensitive information like geolocation is accessed, and that they should consider doing the same for less sensitive but still personal data like photos or contacts.

That last point is an...

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submarine cable map 2013 telegeography

TeleGeography has released the revamped 2013 version of its submarine internet cable map, and it's way better-looking and significantly more informative than the previous version. The new map illustrates 232 in-service and 12 planned cables alongside a number of useful insets, charts, and infographics. Along the top, the map details cable hubs in New York, New Jersey, Egypt, Cornwall, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo, and the bottom has a timeline of global submarine cable history, beginning in 1997. The bottom left corner shows the amount of bandwidth being used per country and total capacity of the underwater cables.

In a blog post, TeleGeography says the design was inspired by antique maps and star charts such as Maury's New Complete...

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nightingale health design challenge

New, easier-to-read medical records may soon be on the way thanks to the results of a recent contest held in cooperation with the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Design Challenge, which was launched in November by Ben Blumenfeld, garnered over 230 submissions with the goal of improving the visual layout of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) which are often dense and difficult to decipher.

"These records have data in them that could allow us to improve our health if used correctly."

Nightingale, the winning design by Gravity Tank, is a dashboard-like system — available as both a phone and a web app — that lets users track medications, physical activity, doctor's appointments, and allergies, in a clear,...

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gif art

Nowadays, the word "GIF" has become all but synonymous with the frivolous and whimsical, but Croatian Paolo Čerić is proving that there's more to the medium than just cats and LOLs. Čerić, 22, is currently studying at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb, where he experiments with new ways to create art from code. His animations, published to his Patakk Tumblr, are equal parts mesmerizing and perplexing — complex geometric formations that undulate and pulsate across the page.

Čerić tells Colossal that he began experimenting with the GIF format two years ago, when he was a relative novice. He began by imitating other animations he'd seen on the web, but soon developed his own style, which now ranges from...

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Stephen Hawking FLICKR

Intel has worked on Stephen Hawking's speech technology for over a decade; the scientist, stricken by motor neuron disease, currently selects letters one by one by twitching his cheek in time to a continually scrolling cursor. But with his condition deteriorating, Hawking can only achieve about a word a minute this way, and recently contacted Intel co-founder Gordon Moore to see if the company would be able to assist.

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silicon valley class action

It’s been a year since we’ve heard any news aboout the allegations of widespread no-hire “gentleman’s agreements” between Silicon Valley’s top companies. Twelve months and nearly 200 legal filings later, the case is moving forward, and Judge Lucy Koh is saying that internal emails reveal executives believed the agreement would bring real financial benefits to their companies, reports Reuters. At a hearing in San Jose, the judge also ordered a four-hour deposition of Apple CEO Tim Cook, over the opposition of Apple’s attorneys, who claimed that as COO of the company he had nothing to do with the no-hire agreements.

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tokyo hotel

Visitors to Japan are often struck by its clean streets and efficient transport, so it might not be such a surprise to see the country come up with an elegant solution to the messy problem of demolition. The Taisei Ecological Reproduction System (Tecorep) is designed to safely bring down buildings over 100 meters (328 feet) high, and involves bringing cranes inside the building to take apart each floor.

Temporary columns are used to prop up the roof, and are progressively lowered by jacks — the effect makes it look like the building is being constructed in reverse, coming down step by step. The technique has been used on the 139-meter (456-foot) Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka, which closed down nearly two years ago.

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