Textropolis: Awesome Word Game for iPhone

I have a real treat today for fans of word games. It's Textropolis ($2.99, iPhone/iPod Touch), and it's by far my favorite word game on the iPhone. It's a simple and beautifully designed game, and boy is it addictive -- I'd rather be playing it right now, rather than writing this review.

Textropolis is an anagramming game. It gives you the name of a city (starting with Kingstown) and you have to build words using the letters from that city's name -- for example, KING, TOWN, KNOT, STOW, and so on. Words must be four letters or longer, and plurals do count as new words. For each word you enter, you get points, your city's population grows, and a plane flies by showing the word's definition (nice!). As you gain points, a cartoonish city grows in the background, showing your progress visually. Also, progress within each city unlocks the next city, so you can continue to move on and make more words.

What makes Textropolis so great is that it's simple and beautiful. It's all about the words, and the interface is clean and well-designed. Because you get instant feedback on each word (including the definition), the game leads you along, encouraging you to make more and more words...and your progress is fast enough that unlocking new cities becomes addictive. "Just one more word, then I swear I'm done!" Here's a video showing Textropolis in action (note that they've sped up the action to show you more of the practice, I don't play nearly this fast!):

For all you word nerds, I strongly recommend Textropolis ($2.99). If you don't want to drop three bucks, try Textropolis Lite (free), which is limited to just three cities.

Got a favorite iPhone game? Let us know in the comments! (I'm particularly looking for new word games to distract me from this one....)

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China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China has been standing proudly for thousands of years—but now, it needs your help. CNN reports that the wall has fallen into disrepair and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for restorations.

Stretching 13,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall was built in stages starting from the third century BCE and reaching completion in the 16th century. To some degree, though, it’s always been under construction. For centuries, individuals and organizations have periodically repaired and rebuilt damaged sections. However, the crowdfunding campaign marks the first time the internet has gotten involved in the preservation of the ancient icon. The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is trying to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) to restore the wall, and has so far raised $45,000 (or 300,000 yuan).

Fundraising coordinator Dong Yaohui tells the BBC that, although the Chinese government provides some funds for wall repairs, it’s not enough to fix all of the damage: "By pooling the contribution of every single individual, however small it is, we will be able to form a great wall to protect the Great Wall," he said.

[h/t CNN]

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YouTube // Deep Look
These Glowing Worms Mimic Shining Stars
YouTube // Deep Look
YouTube // Deep Look

The glow worms of New Zealand's Waitomo caves produce light, mimicking the starry night sky. Using sticky goop, they catch moths and other flying creatures unfortunate enough to flutter into the "starry" cavern. Beautiful and icky in equal parts, this Deep Look video takes you inside the cave, and up close with these worms. Enjoy:

There's also a nice write-up with animated GIFs if you're not in the mood for video. Want more glow worms? Check out this beautiful timelapse in a similar cave, or our list of 19 Places You Won't Believe Exist topped by—you guessed it—New Zealand's Glowworm Caves!


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