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This Web App Identifies Unnecessary Words In Your Writing

Whether you need to craft a punchy email, a concisely worded cover letter, or a clever Twitter update, it can be difficult to identify unnecessary words in your own writing. Fortunately, if you’re struggling to fine tune your writing or reduce your resume to a single page, there’s a web app that can help. 

Expresso is a free app that points out style issues in blocks of text. Lifehacker reports that the app is useful for identifying common writing issues like filler words, use of passive voice, and weak verbs. Simply copy and paste the text you’re working on into the app—or write directly in the text field—and let Expresso analyze your writing. 

While Expresso is useful for editing individual texts, its aim is actually much broader. According to the Expresso website, the goal is to teach effective writing techniques using concrete examples. “While good writing style is hard to master, there are several simple yet powerful techniques which many writing guides and coaches focus on,” the website explains. “Expresso teaches these techniques by applying them directly to your writing.”

The app is also useful for analyzing the writing of others. Try typing a passage from your favorite book into Expresso, or compare the styles of a range of authors, to identify what makes their writing so powerful. Of course, keep in mind that while Expresso can help you better understand writing, its metrics should be just one tool in your writing arsenal. “Writing metrics employed by Expresso can be powerful but they are not a 'magic bullet,'” the website notes. “Good writing style remains an art, not a science.”

[h/t Lifehacker]

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History
The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

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Google
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Animals
Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View
Google
Google

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.
Google

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]

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