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Documentaries I Like: Code Rush

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On the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, many of us are watching historical video and reliving the experience. What was it like to work on a team with a goal that was (forgive the pun) out of this world? The moon landing might have been impossible, or killed the crew, and even if it did work it required everyone working on it to give everything -- for years. The closest I've come to such projects in my daily life is in software development -- with work weeks that expand to fill every hour of every day, and goals that are extremely optimistic (generally, "Do something no one has ever done before, immediately, and do it cheap!"). We're not exactly putting a man on the moon, but sometimes we do make something pretty useful.

Today let's take a look back at a documentary called Code Rush, an inside look at Netscape Communications just before its takeover by AOL. Filmed from March 1998 through April 1999, this documentary shows the roots of today's Firefox browser (which is based on Mozilla, a browser that was launched during filming). It also shows some personal turmoil as employees of Netscape realize they're about to be swallowed by AOL, which wasn't exactly the hippest company around. But most importantly, it shows the process of shipping Mozilla 1.0, the free browser that led to today's Firefox (which many of you are using to read this post). What's it like to write and ship software? Kinda complicated, it turns out. Have a look in this excellent documentary, posted in its entirety online below. (Note: you can also find higher-resolution downloadable versions at Project Code Rush).

Code_RU3H from john koten on Vimeo.

Note: I previously mentioned Code Rush just over a year ago, but the film was pulled from the internet after a rights dispute. It's back online (and in better quality now) with permission from everyone involved, so now you can enjoy it without worry that it'll disappear.

Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Bite Helper
New Gadget Claims to De-Itch Your Mosquito Bites
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Bite Helper

Summer can be an itchy time for anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors. Mosquitos are everywhere, and some people are particularly susceptible to their bites and the itching that comes with them. A new product aims to stop the suffering. Bite Helper, reviewed by Mashable, is designed to stop your bites from itching.

Place the pen-like device over your swollen bite and it will begin to emit heat and vibrations designed to quell the itch. It’s meant to increase blood flow around the area to alleviate your pain, heating your skin up to 120°F for up to 45 seconds. It’s the size of a thin tube of sunscreen and is battery powered.

Most dermatologists advise applying cold to alleviate itching from insect bites, so the question is: Will heating up your skin really work? Bite Helper hasn’t been clinically tested, so it’s hard to say for certain how effective it would be. There has been some research to suggest that heat can help increase blood flow in general, but decrease histamine-induced blood flow in the skin (part of the body’s normal response to allergens) and reduce itching overall. In a German study of wasp, mosquito, and bee stings, concentrated heat led to a significant improvement in symptoms, though the researchers focused mostly on pain reduction rather than itching.

Bite Helper’s technique "seems like a legitimate claim" when it comes to localized itching, Tasuku Akiyama, who studies the mechanisms of itching at the University of Miami, tells Mental Floss. "The increase in the blood flow may increase the rate of elimination of itch mediator from the area." However, before that happens, the heat might also make the itch a little worse in the short-term, he cautions. This seems to be borne out by user experience: While Mashable's reviewer found that using the device didn’t hurt at all, his daughter found it too hot to bear for more than a few seconds.

If the device does in fact relieve itching, though, a few seconds of pain may be worth it.

Bite Helper is $25 on Amazon.

[h/t Mashable]


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