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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.

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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