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The True Story of Audion

As a long-time Mac nerd, I remember fondly the introduction of Audion, an early MP3 player application for the classic Mac OS (and later Mac OS X). It sounded good, it looked great, and the best part was that the application's developers (Panic Inc.) seemed to have a sense of humor. I remember one of my favorite features was a speed control feature that allowed you to "Chipmunk" any song at will. It was also the first time I saw album cover art stored in an MP3, which kinda blew my mind. (Hey, it was 2001, I was still young and impressionable.)

For several years, Audion was my MP3 player of choice -- all of this was before the iPod, when "MP3" was still a term that confounded your parents. (I remember when my brother showed me his little blue MP3 player one year at Christmas. I asked, "Who's gonna want one of those?" Sigh.) As iTunes and the iPod rose to dominate the Mac MP3 market, Panic discontinued Audion in late 2002.

But there's an amazing story behind Audion, and Panic cofounder Cabel Sasser lets us in on the whole thing. From its modest inception (as a replacement for the old Apple "CD Player" application) through rivalry with SoundJam and finally a meeting with Steve Jobs himself, the story is well worth a read, even for non-nerds. Be sure to click on the links embedded throughout -- Sasser includes lots of popup windows with concept art and other interesting bits and pieces. Here's a tiny sample:

I couldn't help myself. I'd always heard that Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, actually reads his e-mail. When you're a tiny independent Mac software developer, that's about as tempting a proposal as, say, a young surgeon being able to directly e-mail Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Okay, so he's not the surgeon general anymore, but my point is that when you're down in the trenches — writing software for a platform you pretty much completely worship — well, it's pretty hard to resist e-mailing God if you know He checks his e-mail.

So e-mail I did. When Audion 1.0 came out on August 16th, 1999, I wrote an e-mail to Mr. Jobs a few days later. It was very quick, cordial, and to the point (my own bursting e-mail box has taught me to be succinct). It pitched Audion in a few short sentences, and encouraged him to download it. That was it.

Read what happened next in the exciting Audion saga. While you're at it, check out the many handy applications Panic still ships.

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Live Smarter
This AI Tool Will Help You Write a Winning Resume
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iStock

For job seekers, crafting that perfect resume can be an exercise in frustration. Should you try to be a little conversational? Is your list of past jobs too long? Are there keywords that employers embrace—or resist? Like most human-based tasks, it could probably benefit from a little AI consultation.

Fast Company reports that a new start-up called Leap is prepared to offer exactly that. The project—started by two former Google engineers—promises to provide both potential minions and their bosses better ways to communicate and match job needs to skills. Upload a resume and Leap will begin to make suggestions (via highlighted boxes) on where to snip text, where to emphasize specific skills, and roughly 100 other ways to create a resume that stands out from the pile.

If Leap stopped there, it would be a valuable addition to a professional's toolbox. But the company is taking it a step further, offering to distribute the resume to employers who are looking for the skills and traits specific to that individual. They'll even elaborate on why that person is a good fit for the position being solicited. If the company hires their endorsee, they'll take a recruiter's cut of their first year's wages. (It's free to job seekers.)

Although the service is new, Leap says it's had a 70 percent success rate landing its users an interview. The rest is up to you.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Space
Watch NASA Test Its New Supersonic Parachute at 1300 Miles Per Hour
NASA/JPL, YouTube
NASA/JPL, YouTube

NASA’s latest Mars rover is headed for the Red Planet in 2020, and the space agency is working hard to make sure its $2.1 billion project will land safely. When the Mars 2020 rover enters the Martian atmosphere, it’ll be assisted by a brand-new, advanced parachute system that’s a joy to watch in action, as a new video of its first test flight shows.

Spotted by Gizmodo, the video was taken in early October at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Narrated by the technical lead from the test flight, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Ian Clark, the two-and-a-half-minute video shows the 30-mile-high launch of a rocket carrying the new, supersonic parachute.

The 100-pound, Kevlar-based parachute unfurls at almost 100 miles an hour, and when it is entirely deployed, it’s moving at almost 1300 miles an hour—1.8 times the speed of sound. To be able to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere, the parachute generates almost 35,000 pounds of drag force.

For those of us watching at home, the video is just eye candy. But NASA researchers use it to monitor how the fabric moves, how the parachute unfurls and inflates, and how uniform the motion is, checking to see that everything is in order. The test flight ends with the payload crashing into the ocean, but it won’t be the last time the parachute takes flight in the coming months. More test flights are scheduled to ensure that everything is ready for liftoff in 2020.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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