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Galcon series developer Phil Hassey has released a trailer for his upcoming game Dynamite Jack, offering a tantalizing glimpse of its unique brand of alien-exploding action.

Dynamite Jack (formerly Anathema Mines) is a 2D, overhead-view action game in which a lone space marine must sabotage and escape from an alien mining colony. Players are equipped with time bombs, giving the gameplay footage a feel similar to Hudson's Bomberman series and the PSone obscurity Silent Bomber, with bonus stealth mechanics.

Dynamite Jack will be released for Windows and Mac in May.

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Using hand-recorded shipping data from the Climatological Database for the World's Oceans, history graduate student Ben Schmidt mapped a century of ocean shipping, between 1750 and 1850. The above map animates a seasonal aggregate.

There aren't many truly seasonal events, but a few stand out. There are regular summer voyages from Scotland to Hudson's Bay, and from Holland up towards Spitsbergen, for example: both these appear as huge convoys moving in sync. (What were those about?) Trips around Cape Horn, on the other hand, are extremely rare in July and August. More interestingly, the winds in the Arabian sea seem to shift directions in November or so. I also really like the way this one brings across the conveyor belt nature of trade with the East.

The bobbing month label is distracting, but its position actually does mean something. Since seasonality (i.e. weather) plays a role in travels, the label represents noontime location of the sun in Africa. Okay, I'm still not sure if that's actually useful.

If you really must, you can also watch the century of individual shipments during a 12-minute video.

By the way, Schmidt used R to make this, relying heavily on the mapproj and ggplot2 packages. (Bet you didn't see that coming.) I think he created a bunch of images and then strung them together to make the animation.

[via Revolutions]

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Kevin Systrom is the cofounder and CEO of Instagram, which Facebook just acquired for $1 billion.

Reports say Systrom will make $400 million in the deal.

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that launched just a couple years ago, and already has 30 million users.

We'd love to talk to Systrom about the deal, how he got to where he is today, and his plans going forward.

But we can't.

kevin systrom

Facebook is going to IPO next month, and that means its executives – now including Systrom – are required to honor the SEC's "quiet period" rules.

Fortunately, Systrom is not just a wildly successful CEO, he's also a Quora addict. He's answered over 50 questions on the site. Also, Systrom did a Q&A with Business Insider's Matt Rosoff last fall. 

Below, we've collected (and lightly edited) some of the best questions and on-record-answers from those resources to compile a Q&A with Silicon Valley's newest $400 million man.

How and when did you begin coding?

Depends what you mean by coding. I've been programming here and there since I was in middle school. In high school I was excused from my foreign language requirement so I could take more computer science classes. The first real class I took was in Pascal, and then later in c++. Independently I started playing with MySQL and PHP, but never did anything significant.

My freshman year at Stanford I took CS106X which was the first year's worth of CS in 1 quarter (it's usually two). I wouldn't say I did so well... I looked around and saw so many fantastically smart folks in that class and decided I was better off majoring in something like business. Looking back I wish I had stuck with it. It turns out that no undergrad class prepares you to start a startup -- you learn most of it as you do it.

So anyway, long story short, I only took one CS class at Stanford, and instead of majoring in it, I coded basic projects on the side for fun (a student marketplace, an internet radio station, etc). At Odeo as the intern I picked up Ruby on Rails but forgot it quickly as I took a marketing job at Google.

Only at my next job at Nextstop would I say I went from being a hobbyist to being able to write code that would go into production. The lesson I take from this all is that a) don't give up so quickly if it's something you actually enjoy and b) 99% of what I do on a daily basis I learned on the job -- classes/majors can prepare you to learn on the job, but *doing* the work is where you learn what you'll use every day.

What do the different image filters on Instagram actually do?

Our filters are a combination of effects – curve profiles, blending modes, color hues, etc. In fact, I usually create them in photoshop before creating the algorithms to do them on the phone

How does Instagram choose names for their filters?

I wish that I could say it's more interesting - but often it has to do with the inspiration for the filter... a type of film, a photo we've seen, or simply what we were doing at the time.

At what point in Instagram's product development did square photos become the standard?

From day one. We realized that if we were going to do photos, that we'd have to be different and stand out. Square photos displayed really well in a feed format and frankly we just liked the aspect ratio better. It wasn't much more complex than that.

How old are you?

I was born Dec. 30th 1983

Do you code at Instagram?

Yes. I've been doing mostly backend work lately – python/django stuff.

How did Instagram get its name?

A long week of searching for something that combined the 'right here right now' aspect of what we were trying to accomplish with the idea of recording something in your life (hence the suffix -gram). 

We also wanted something relatively unique. We had a bunch of other names that were in the running, but there were lots of other apps with names that were too similar. Another characteristic was whether or not you could tell someone the name and they could spell it easily.

How long was Instagram in development for before launch?

KS: It's hard to answer this question, because there's the client and then there's the server. Most of the server code was taken from Burbn. (For those who never used Burbn, Instagram looks/feels/acts a lot like burbn, only it's focused on posting a photo). That code took many months to develop, refine, and turn into libraries that we can use internally on just about any project. We built them knowing we'd likely reuse them in other experiments down the road. We learned *a lot* along the way that made Instagram act the way it does currently.

The app itself took about 8 weeks. 

How many developers built the original Instagram app?

KS: It was just two.

What is the history of Instagram?

KS: Instagram is an app that only took 8 weeks to build and ship, but was a product of over a year of work.

The story starts when I worked at Nextstop. While I was there working in marketing, I started doing more and more engineering at night on simple ideas that helped me learn how to program (I don't have any formal CS degree or training). One of these ideas was combining elements of foursquare (check-ins) with elements of Mafia Wars (hence the name Burbn). I figured I could build a prototype of the idea in HTML5 and get it to some friends. Those friends ended up using the prototype without any branding elements or design at all. I spent weekends working on improving the prototype for my friends. At a party for the Hunch folks I ran into a bunch of people who would basically make starting Burbn a reality. At that party were two people from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. I showed the prototype, and we decided we'd meet up for coffee to talk about it. After the first meeting, I decided to take the dive and leave my job to go solo and see if Burbn could be a company. Within two weeks of leaving, I raised $500k from both Baseline and Andreessen Horowitz, and started work on finding a team.

Mike Krieger and I started talking and he decided he liked the idea of helping start the company. Once he joined, we took a step back and looked at the product as it stood. By this time, we had built Burbn into a (private) really neat HTML5 mobile web app that let you: Check in to locations, Make plans (future check-ins), Earn points for hanging out with friends, post pictures, and much more.

We decided that if we were going to build a company, we wanted to focus on being really good at one thing. We saw mobile photos as an awesome opportunity to try out some new ideas. We spent 1 week prototyping a version that focused solely on photos. It was pretty awful. So we went back to creating a native version of Burbn. We actually got an entire version of Burbn done as an iPhone app, but it felt cluttered, and overrun with features. It was really difficult to decide to start from scratch, but we went out on a limb, and basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment, and like capabilities. What remained was Instagram. (We renamed because we felt it better captured what you were doing -- an instant telegram of sorts. It also sounded camera-y)

And now, from Matt Rosoff's Q&A…

Why do you think the app took off so quickly?

KS: We took a very basic action that everyone does in the world, taking a photo, and we put some meaning behind it, some reason behind it. The reason is suddenly all your friends can see that photo immediately, in an instant. But also we make the photo more beautiful. It doesn't take very much to convince people to do what they do every day anyway and then do it through you're product. Really we're just taking people and shifting them from taking photos anyway to taking them on Instagram.

But then, because of the encouragement through making photos beautiful, people are taking way more photos than they would have otherwise because there's a reason to share them.

But what advice would you give somebody to get that initial notice and get that spike in usage?

KS: It's interesting because I've started to work more closely with startups trying to do exactly this, and a lot of people think it's a marketing game. But really, if you build a quality app you will naturally rise through the ranks. I don't know how many apps are in the App Store, but everyone knows a fraction of a percent are really well done, quality, thought out apps. There are a lot of apps that are fun to use, they're utility apps, they're fine. But there are a fraction of apps that are in the cream of the crop. You just need to be in the cream of the crop to get noticed.

I think far too many people focus on how many emails can I send the user to get them to come back at the end of the week. If you build something beautiful and useful they will come back. And sure, you should also do those things, but I don't remember the last email I got from Google saying "hey, you haven't been back to our site in a while."

There are gimmicks, paying for downloads and stuff. But we've never spent a dime on marketing. Great products sell themselves.

What does your average user look like? Do you have a few "whales" who are taking tons of photos and then a bunch more casual users, sort of like Zynga with games?

KS: You can split it up into personas. There are definitely people who don't take any photos but like photos and comment on photos. Like people who joined for Justin Bieber -- a lot of them are there for one reason, and the reason is Justin. At the same time, there are people who subscribe to thousands of people and not only like and comment on their photos but take beautiful photos as well.

What do you think of native apps for mobile phones vs HTML5 apps? I talk to some people who think HTML5 is the way to build one app that works on multiple platforms.

KS: I don't buy it, mostly because we started off as HTML5.

What I don't buy is just your statement. I totally buy HTML5. It's great for some companies. For instance, I think it's awesome for bigger brands who are not technology companies to invest in HTML5. It's much more accessible, the refresh cycle's much smaller, it's just better for the organization to spend their time doing what you do well. If you're a larger brand, having the flexibility to do HTML5 is also great.

But to do what we do, there's no reason why we should do it in HTML5....We were HTML5 when we wereBurbn. But there were so many stumbling blocks getting it out to consumers, the second we went native it was the best decision we ever made. I think that's true, for folks to have a strong consumer experience that needs to be completely polished. I don't buy the cross-platform thing.

What about writing in HTML5 and then wrapping it for each different platform?

KS: Why would you do that? You might as well learn Objective C. I think the big stumbling block is a lot of developers are worried that they don't know this other language so let's build it in HTML and JavaScript. But it turns out if you spend a couple of days learning Objective C, you can get really far. The experience is great, too.

You also hinted at moving beyond photos into video?

KS: I've been mentioning this a lot lately because I don't want people getting stuck with the idea that Instagram is a photo-sharing company. Instagram is a media company. I think we're about visual media. I explain ourselves as a disruptive entertainment platform that enables communication through visual media. I don't think it's just photos. There's a reason we don't allow you to upload photos on the Web as albums. It's not about taking all these photos off your DSLR putting them into an album and sharing them with your family. It's not about that. It's about what are you up to right now out in the real world, how can you share that with everyone. It's about what's happening out in the world. It's about can I consume media from folks like Taylor Swift. That's really interesting to people. What's not interesting to me is becoming a photo storage platform.

Video requires a lot more resources.

KS: Everything does. So does Web. We get six million visits a day to our Web site. Imagine us launching a Web site [for sharing], how much more infrastructure would we need? All of these things are commitments. We have to see where they make sense in our lifecycle?

Are you a photographer?

KS: It's funny, I was a photographer before I was a programmer. But in high school I basically got them to waive a bunch of science requirements so I could take more computer science. I got to college and decided I didn't want to concentrate on computer science for some random reason. But I've always done photography, in the darkroom, and I've always really been into digital photography. If you go on to my Flickr page, you'll see a photo that looks like an Instagram photo, from about 2007. I've always been into taking my photos, cropping them square, putting them through a filter in Photoshop. We just reverse engineered how to do filters, now we opened it up to the masses....

I've done all our filters except for a few. We worked with Cole Rise, one of our users, who did a fantastic job on Amaro, Rise, and Hudson. He did the first three on the list and they're awesome, I use them 24/7. But we're definitely itching to get new ones out there. We talked about doing limited Christmas holiday ones, or whatever, but we're not Angry Birds Seasons or anything like that yet.

Click Here To Meet The 13 Lucky Employees And 9 Investors Behind $1 Billion Instagram >

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Designing a building is like picking one suit for all four seasons. Hard enough in moderate climes, it’s especially tricky in the far north, where conditions swing annually between endless daylight and frigid dark. In more than 500 photographs, ‘Nordic Light’ (Thames & Hudson, 256 pages) by Henry Plummer catalogs the range of elegant solutions that contemporary architects in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland have deployed to keep the cold out while letting the light in. The glass curtain walls beloved of other strains of modernism are often impractical due to the expense of heating. Thus the 50 buildings that Mr. Plummer documents—some museums and civic buildings but mostly churches, which for reasons of symbolism encourage a thoughtful, subtle treatment of light—tend to use discrete windows shaped like strips, slashes or portholes. Paradoxically, some of the structures that result, like the austere but soothing shiplike chapel in Turku, Finland, are shut nearly as tight as the whitewashed bunkers of the Greek islands. But where the latter’s dazzlingly reflective exteriors keep excess sun out, uniform interiors like the blond pine of the Turku chapel serve to diffuse and sustain what light does enter. This effect is also on display in a beautiful spread of the Grundtvigs Church in Copenhagen (1940), whose Gothic ribs and vaults are rendered modern by the repetitively modular material from which they’re constructed. The yellow-tan glaze of the church’s five million bricks imparts a honeyed tinge to the light that fills the sanctuary. Elsewhere, in a shot of the Männistö Church in Kuopio, Finland, sunlight reflecting off painted baffles casts swaths of green onto the chapel walls. Such indirect illumination is prominent throughout—attempts, perhaps, to evoke even in winter the filmy glow of summer nights when the sun shines from below the horizon.

-The Books Editors


Horten Headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Saint Henry’s Chapel, Turku, Finland.


Grundtvigs Church, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Myyrmäki Church, Vantaa, Finland.


Grundtvigs Church, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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A woman visiting from Japan was shot and injured when a police officer’s gun accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through the floor and into the living room where she was sleeping. Police were searching an apartment at 3003 Clarendon Rd. in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood on March 29 when the shot was fired. Here, police escorted the victim. (See related article.) (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Fire officials rescued a woman who fell through the floor of her Revolutionary War-era Staten Island home and into a well buried underneath on March 23. (Rod Morata for The Wall Street Journal)


Firefighters faced a three-alarm blaze on March 28 on the upper floors of a 21-story apartment building at 89 Columbia St. on the Lower East Side. A Fire Department spokesman told the Associated Press that no one was seriously injured. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal )


Potato latkes with sour cream and three caviars at Kutsher’s TriBeCa, 186 Franklin St. between Greenwich and Hudson streets (See related article.) (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)


A firetruck collided with a car at the intersection of Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn on March 27, injuring three firefighters and three civilians. (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


Sasha Fire Gypsy performed at the Coney Island Gala at Webster Hall on March 24. (See related article.) (Astrid Stawiarz for The Wall Street Journal)


Ben Brown performed the ‘Rhythm & Bliss’ massage on Kim Wylie at bliss 49. Mr. Brown created the treatment, which involves a massage that goes to the beat of a selected playlist. (See related article.) (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


The Wren Old Fashioned, served on the rocks with Old Overholt, Punt e Mes vermouth, cherry liqueur and orange bitters at The Wren, 344 Bowery at Great Jones Street. (See related article.) (Agaton Strom for The Wall Street Journal )


Six people were injured after a car hit a van carrying senior citizens on Colonial Road near 78th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on March 27. (Rod Morata for The Wall Street Journal)


Allegra Chapman played ‘Winter Music’ by John Cage on a Yamaha Disklavier piano, accompanied remotely by Luna Inaba in Japan and Hojoon Kim in California, at the Juilliard School in Manhattan, on March 26. (Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal)


The Bistro burger, an 8-ounce burger with American cheese and bacon, at Corner Bistro, 47-18 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. (See related article.) (Lauren Lancaster for The Wall Street Journal )


Dickie Landry played a solo saxophone concert in and around the John Chamberlain sculptures at the Guggenheim Museum on March. 26. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


Sushi chefs Daehyun Kin, left, and Kyoungjin Choi prepared fish before the lunch crowd arrived at Zutto, at 77 Hudson St. (See related article.) (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)


Students from the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek American Day School in Flushing carried Greek flags during the annual Greek Independence Day parade along 5th Avenue in Manhattan on March 25. (See related article.) (Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal)


Kent Tritle directed the choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine at a rehearsal on March 22. (See related article.) (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)

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Though somewhat of a complex craft, the art of photographic printing isn’t exactly rocket science—that is, until an artist like Boris Savelev approaches the process, and decides to push it further.

Savelev, who spent his working life in the former Soviet Union as a rocket engineer, brings the same methodical eye to his photography and printing process. He has experimented with color photography since the 1980s, but those early attempts left Savelev unsatisfied with the resulting colors. That dissatisfaction has become a theme for his artistic trajectory; since then he has tried various printing techniques for his photographs. Color Constructions, a new exhibition of his work, represents the apex of his experimentation in printmaking.

“I am writing my biography with them,” Savelev says of his images and the reasoning behind the one-of-a-kind process he prepares himself. “With each new image prepared for printing, my impressions are sharpened and the final print takes on a bright expression, a personal character.”

Savelev got his first major photographic opportunity in 1986. At the start of perestroika in the Soviet Union, Thomas Neurath of London’s Thames and Hudson book publishers visited Moscow in search of “unofficial” artists, and selected Savelev’s work. A selection of those images would eventually be published in 1988 as The Secret City, the artist’s first monograph. Though a success that would gain him international attention, the color quality of the images still left Savelev wanting more from his prints.

The materials used in the process for Color Constructions are surprisingly industrial; for this particular series, the images appear printed on sheets of aluminum, which Savelev prefers for its archival quality and says ensures the “colorful saturation of the hues” in each image. But the process, which does give the appearance of a broader tonal range of color, requires unique preparation for each image. Each panel is coated in gesso, an artistic primer usually used for painting, in order to receive the pigment from each photograph, and is waxed after the image has been printed. Because of the large size and uncommon materials, the image is made with a multi-layer, flatbed printer, custom-made in conjunction with Factum Arte, a Madrid-based studio. According to Factum Arte’s Adam Lowe, in designing the process the studio became filled with 3D scanners and disassembled digital printers.

Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Savelev's Color Constructions on display in London.

The journey, physical as well as artistic, was a necessary one: “In Moscow no one knows or imagines what a multi-layered print on aluminum is,” Savelev says. “The culture of printing is lost, the tradition of master printers is forgotten, the studios are closed.”

The result is anything but synthetic. Many of Savelev’s images are from his hometown of Czernowitz, where he lived until 1966 when he moved to Moscow. A photograph of a vacant barber shop, dramatically cast in shadows, is an homage to a photographer friend of Savelev’s. The artist, also from Czernowitz, snapped a frame of the same barber shop in black and white that inspired Savelev with its beauty, and he dedicates his own uniquely moody color image to his late friend’s memory. The sum of Color Constructions is a nostalgic view of a Russia no longer in existence; the intent of the printing process is not as a technical exercise, but rather as a means to express the quiet, lonely scenes of former Soviet cities as faithfully as possible. The soft, dreamy colors that Savelev’s process renders are true to his film and his eye, which appear timeless—indeed, the series remains cohesive while including images shot in the past year as well as in the mid 1980s—and show the Russian landscape in an extraordinarily contemplative manner.

Savelev’s images belie the story of an artist seeking to overcome the gap between the image’s original emotive quality, and its representation on the printed surface. Through a process he’s honed slowly since beginning his career in photography decades ago, the complete control over the images is worth the effort, both for the viewer and the artist.

“I do not regret the time spent in search of new technology, or studying early methods and solutions, opening up for myself something personal,” Savelev says. “For me, the final goal is the print.”

Color Constructions is on display at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London through Jan. 21.

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In an effort to record the year of his life leading up to the millennium, Jeff Harris began a project in which he used his trusty Olympic Stylus 35mm film camera (he’s since gone through six) to take a self-portrait each day and then posted the results on his website. The project, which began long before the widespread popularity of blogging, Facebook and Flickr, allowed viewers to follow one photographer along on his adventures. “I didn’t want 365 images of me sitting on the couch each day,” says Harris. “There could have been that tendency, especially during the cold dark winter months to stay inside all the time, but this project inspired me to get out there and seek out interesting things.” This year, Harris embarks on year fourteen of what has turned out to be an epic, inspired and ever-evolving art project that documents a life well lived.

The images range from completely solitary, auto-timed self-portraits to photographs inspired by a collaborative spirit with whomever Harris encounters on a given day. Regardless of the mood, location or activity at the center of any given image in the series, they all show a marvelously open and generous approach to both diaristically recording and sharing everything from intimate moments to athletic adventures with a wider audience. In fact, Harris evokes the full range of physical experiences a body can encounter: from mundane inactivity to joyful dives to his body being open on the operating table.

“I see no reason to not make a self-portrait each day,” the photographer says. “I’m always around and always free. It’s kind of like going to the gym—it flexes your muscles and keeps you in shape.”

Jeff Harris’s work was recently included in  Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography by Susan Bright published by Thames and Hudson.

Visit jeffharris.org to see the project in its entirety. Harris also has an interactive Journal  that allows readers to submit writing about a day from their life. Their stories are juxtaposed with his self portrait from that same day.

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