Mysterious Boston woman is top Amazon reviewer

At this moment, Ali Julia is the No. 1 ranked reviewer on Amazon.com, which makes her the queen of an elite — and very secretive — club that wields huge influence over the nation’s shopping habits.

Companies send them piles of free products, often before they are released to the general public, with the desperate hope that they will sit down and write a detailed review, because studies show that customers are attracted to products with multiple reviews (even if they’re not all good).

A fascinating read.

Parallax Scrolling: Attention Getter or Headache?

Although this article may seem to be a scathing denunciation of the usefulness of parallax scrolling, it’s not all bad news for parallax lovers. If you use parallax in moderation and stay within the bounds of these sophisticated optimization strategies, parallax scrolling actually has the potential to delight users, thus improving a Web site’s user experience.

Whilst not quite as scathing as my own thoughts on the matter, this article does bring up some good examples of the tradeoffs one invariably makes when employing parallax design. Unless there is a strong case to be made for using it, don’t use it.

Shazam unveils new music app experience

Shazam has announced a new experience that provides a more immersive music discovery and uninterrupted listening experience for users. The update revamps Shazam’s mobile apps and launches a new Shazam.com, which includes: a new app experience, music player, Spotify integration, Hall of Fame and Shazam Counts.

You can now download your entire tag history over at shazam.com, which is great news for data nerds.

The Evolution of eInk

eInk devices are also pleasant in a paradoxical way because they basically suck at everything that isn’t reading. That doesn’t sound like something you’d want, except when you notice you spend every fifth page switching back to Twitter or Facebook or Tinder or Snapchat or whatever. eInk devices let you tune out the world and truly immerse yourself in reading.

I’m still waiting for an affordable, large eInk screen I can use as an information radiator.

Video game pioneer Ralph Baer dies aged 92

It’s a sad day for gamers: Ralph Baer, one of the cornerstones of the early video game industry, has died at 92. Details of his passing aren’t immediately available, but there’s no question that gaming would be very different without him. He co-developed what would become the first home game console, the Magnavox Odyssey; he also helped make the memory game Simon, and came up with the gameplay concept that would ultimately lead to Nolan Bushnell’s Pong.

Rest in peace.

Google now lets you prove your humanity with a single click

This new “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” (try saying that three times fast) judges you instantaneously with a “risk analysis engine” that considers miscellaneous bits like your IP address and the movements of your mouse cursor to see if you’re actually made of flesh and blood. In the event that you don’t pass muster the first time ’round, you’ll have to sit through a more traditional CAPTCHA complete with those all-too-familiar screwy words and numbers.

An interesting approach, but isn’t it a shame that this requires such profound engineering in the first place?

mermaid

Generation of diagrams and flowcharts from text in a similar manner as markdown.

Ever wanted to simplify documentation and avoid heavy tools like Visio when explaining your code?

This is why mermaid was born, a simple markdown-like script language for generating charts from text via javascript.

Great stuff. (via The Changelog)