Category Archives: Technology

1.21 Gigawatts: Sci-Tube – Five Videos That Will Blow Your Mind

-Sarah Keartes

#1 Crying in Orbit?


In his recent mid-orbit vlog entry, Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrates the physics of crying in space.

“Your eyes will definitely cry . . . but the big difference is, tears don’t fall, so grab a hanky,” Hadfield said. It is earth’s gravitational force that causes our tears to fall. In a micro-gravitational environment, tears collected in the eye are unable to flow downward. Instead they pool together, forming a “ball” of water which will sit on the eye until it reaches a larch enough size and will break free and float around.

Even more interesting is that space tears can actually sting your eyes. The reason behind this is unknown, but NASA has long studied the effects of space travel on human vision, which include flattening of the back of the eyeball, changes in the retina and optic nerve, and problems with both near and distance vision.

#2 The Prince Rupert’s Drop: Unbreakable Exploding Glass


Do not be afraid of this video’s seven-minute playing time. Stop what you are doing and tune in to this incredible high-speed video. Correction: high-speed video of explosions. Correction: high-speed video of exploding glass—that you can’t break with a hammer. What?

Destin of “Smarter Every Day” (with a bit of help from Orbix Hot Glass in Fort Payne, Alabama) explores the physics behind the Prince Rupert’s Drop. The drop, also known as “Prince Rupert’s Balls” or “Dutch Tears,” is a tadpole-shaped glass object that is created when molten glass is dripped into water to cool.

The resulting structure possesses mind-boggling physical properties: the head of the drop can be bashed and beaten to the heart’s content without breaking, but even the slightest nick to the glass tail causes a large release of stored potential energy resulting in microscopic fractures from tail to head. In other words? Boom goes the dynamite.

#3 00-Robots? University of Pennsylvania Quatrotors Go “Bond”


The James Bond theme has been covered thousands of times on Youtube, but to my knowledge, it has only been covered once by a fleet of autonomous flying robots.

Birthed from U. Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences GRASP lab, the tiny robots, dubbed “Nano Quadrotors,” can be programed with a series of points that must be reached at a precise time. Amazingly, the direct path is chosen by the bots, which are able to pick up the locations of fleet members using infrared technology.

GRASPLAB members are working with scientists to improve their robots by mimicking the swarming behaviors of birds, fish and insects—the Quadrotors operate not as a swarm, but much like a flock.

#4 The World’s Cutest Frog


Forget cats. This tiny, slimy squeak-toy which looks more like a character from Pokémon than an earthly creature, is the Namaqua Rain Frog (Breviceps namaquensis), and it may be the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Unlike many of its amphibious relatives, the frog, filmed here by nature photographer Dean Boshoff, is a desert resident. Native to the Namaqualand coast of South Africa (and adjacent sandy inland areas), the Namaqua Rain Frog is a burrowing species which surfaces only when ample rainfall brings a plethora of insects to feed on.

Should that blood-curdling, utterly terrifying, well, “peep” not do the trick; the frog will inflate itself to its full girth when threatened.

#5 “4D” Printing: Transformers Anyone?


SJET, LLC is a research-based practice founded by architect, designer, and computer scientist Skylar Tibbits. Combining tools from architecture, design, fabrication, computer science, and robotics, SJET focuses on creating self-assembling structures using “4D”printing technology. In other words, they are working to build things that build themselves without external guidance.

“What we’re saying here is, you design something, you print it, it evolves…it’s like naturally embedding smartness into the materials,” Tibbits told Wired in an interview.

How does it work? Each piece of the structure is molecularly altered—embedded with patterns of elements that attract each other through negative and positive interactions when the correct amount of energy is added (here through shaking). Tibbits and SJET see the application of this technology in the creation of large scale smart structures in extreme environments such as space and the ocean.

“The self-assembled structures of the future won’t just be large; they will also be smart. Every brick, beam, and bolt may one day compute and store digital information about the building, environment, and construction to aid assembly,” Tibbits said.

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TIL (Today I Learned) about the power of Reddit

-Emily Fraysse

Otherwise known as “The Front Page of the Internet,” Reddit is an online source for what is popular, new, informational, and interesting on the web. With a simple black-outlined alien as their mascot, the Reddit community is tight-knit and informative. Through voting, the users of Reddit can decide on what is worth reading or looking at and what is not. The front page is constantly changing with new links to stories, photos, and videos that registered users upload or post, and it has its own slang, which consists of a list of commonly used acronyms.

In lieu of last Monday’s devastating events in Boston, people took it upon themselves to use Reddit, one of the most popular social media outlets, to post live updates about the incident, and information on how to find people and how to help post-bombing. An outpour of citizens in the Boston area posted onto a Google doc for marathon runners in need of a place to stay. Other Redditors offered their assistance by offering car rides to people in the metropolitan area and donating their unused frequent flier miles to people who need to get in or out of Boston. A sub-Reddit titled “random_acts_of_pizza,” which allows subscribers to order pizza deliveries for others as an act of kindness, offered those hosting runners a free pizza.

Links such as Live Scanner Feed, Google Person Finder, Redcross Safe and Well, and other important information regarding the bombings and safety flooded the tops of the Boston Marathon Bombing threads.

Today I Learned (TIL) that the Reddit community is powerful, strong, and growing. It is saddening to think that this kind of care only comes out in times of need, but Reddit continues to prove that point otherwise. In February of this year, a Redditor by the username of chewy01234 posted a thread titled, “r/Boston can you help a guy with a Kidney Transplant out in this snow storm? After the winter storm Nemo began to hit New England, he realized that his prescription medication was in New York, while he was stuck in Boston. Upvotes and comments boomed hours after the post, and four hours later, chewy01234 was contacted by the user rockstaraimz, who lived in Brookline. She herself was a kidney transplant recipient and was able to drop off some of her Prograf medication to save the man’s kidney.  In other cases, Redditors have raised funds for a man with terminal kidney cancer to travel the world, and Redditors found a hit-and-run driver faster than the Montreal Police.

The power of Reddit is undeniable, and by the looks of it, unstoppable. CNN writer Dorrine Mendoza called Reddit “a social platform where clever memes, photos of kittens and discussions of space, science and politics are interwoven with NSFW [not suitable for work] jokes, original artwork and an abundance of sexual innuendo. It can be simultaneously fascinating and offensive. And occasionally it is a place where the most intimate human moments are laid bare.”

The Unconscious Brain's Decision-Making Process

-Emily Fraysse

The science of the brain can be a rather daunting and intimidating area of study. When a person is in a difficult situation or faced with a major decision, and has the luxury of time, a common response is to “sleep on it.” This break from thinking about a problem can be a more rewarding decision than many have previously thought.

Extensive research from Carnegie Mellon University found that the brain regions that are responsible for making decisions are continuously active even when the conscious brain is distracted with a different task. CMU graduate James K. Bursley and Northeastern University’s Ajay B. Satpute took twenty-seven healthy adults and gave them information about cars and other items while undergoing neuroimaging. Before they were asked to make decisions about the items they had just seen, they were handed a different task like memorizing sequences of numbers. The participants would not think consciously about the decision information.

The results confirmed that a distraction, even one only two minutes long, produced higher quality decisions about the cars and other items. But a new question arose: does the distraction allow for the brain to take a break from the decision-making and then return to it after the distraction is finished? Or does the brain continue to unconsciously think about the decision regardless of distractions?

Thanks to neuroimaging, the brain showed that it was unconsciously focused on making the decision, as the visual and prefrontal cortices, which are responsible for decision-making, were active. Another study in 2012 at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences showed how, thanks to functional MRI scans, brain patterns showed a person’s decision seven seconds before they actually “decided.” John-Dylan Haynes, one of the Max Planck Institute neuroscientists, explained that, “Your decisions are strongly prepared by brain activity. By the time consciousness kicks in, most of the work has already been done.”

For more information, watch the Carnegie Mellon University students explaining their research and findings and a video describing the Max Planck Institute research.

The 5 Most Used Apps on My iPhone

-Marissa Tomko

I live on my iPhone. I’m not proud of it, but I do. Okay, I’m a little proud of it. Things could be worse . . . I could live on my Android. Who wants to do that? (Sorry, Android users! Nothing but love for you—I’m just one of those people.)

One of my favorite things in the world is discovering new apps. It’s crazy to think that ten years ago, apps weren’t a thing. Now, they run our lives. I even took a class on how to build them—who knew our world would come to this! Those cute little squares on our screens hold so much potential, and the possibilities are endless. Like you all, I have my favorites. They are all so different from each other, and they all serve a specific purpose throughout my day. So without further ado, here are the top five most used apps on my iPhone.

#1 InstaGranny

Sure, we’ve all seen the apps where you can insert cats into pictures of you and your friends. But what if instead of cats, you could sneak a random and funny grandma into your pictures? Or a grandpa? Or all three? InstaGranny is a hilarious app that lets you do just that. It is essential to have if you need to help out a friend who is having an off day. With new grandparents being added with each update, I would call it money well spent!

Cost: $.99

#2 RunPee

Okay, the name is a little iffy, and whoever came up with this idea is probably a little insane, but you know what I always say: insanity breeds genius! This app is really cool because it tells you which times during a movie you can run to the restroom, and how long you have before you start missing pivotal plot points. The movie database is constantly being updated with new releases, and you can even set a timer to vibrate when it happens!

Cost: $.99

#3 Action Potato

I put this app on my phone for the sole purpose of having something entertaining to do when I pretend to be paying attention to something boring. All this game entails is catching potatoes in buckets. Personally, I find the concept hilarious. It’s just fun enough to keep you awake, and just mindless enough to not steal all of your focus.

Cost: free

#4 Flipboard

Don’t worry everyone, I don’t just spend my iPhone time throwing potatoes around—I like to keep life practical sometimes! Flipboard is a  social news magazine and is designed to put all of the news and social media you care about in one place. You handpick the topics you want to read about and they are displayed before you in a visually-pleasing grid arrangement. It also lets you connect to social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram so you can flip through everything in one location. The design is awesome and innovative, and it’s an extremely convenient way to keep yourself up-to-date.

Cost: free

#5 Allwomenstalk

This app was recommended to me by iTunes account because I installed Wanelo. It’s like Pintrest, but better (I think) because it’s more user friendly for the iPhone. It let’s you flip through lists about fashion, diet, exercise, travel—you name it! I like to have something interesting to look at in the morning to keep my eyes open when I first wake up, and this app is perfect for that.

What YouTube Teaches Me

-Rache’ll Brown

I spend way too much of my time on YouTube when I should be studying, cleaning my apartment, or writing an essay. But what can I say? I’m a procrastinator, and YouTube is just so much more appealing than a five-page paper. However, I don’t see this obsession as time wasted—YouTube teaches me a lot, and I have had more than enough time to narrow down my favorite channels that I frequent instead of tending to my grown-up duties (who wants to do laundry anyway?). So here are the YouTube channels that teach me how to dress better, cook better, look better, and feel better.

Wendy’s Look Book

This channel features a small woman with a huge wardrobe and a ton of style. Her outfits are impeccable and her videos are prime quality, and most of her “pairings” and style advice is spot on. Fashion-lovers will be impressed with her words of wisdom.


From the sisters of Pixiwoo comes a British fashion and beauty channel featuring celebrity-inspired tutorials, makeovers, street style, and more, all featuring everyday viewers that are yearning for a new look.

You Deserve A Drink

Hosted by actress and comedian Mamrie Hart, You Deserve A Drink (YDAD) is filled with cheesy one-liners (which are the basis of her built-in drinking game) and delicious drinks in honor of celebrities and current events.

Laura in the Kitchen

My dad is a chef, so the cooking channel is always on when I am home. And let me just say, Laura Vitale is better than everyone on there. Her Italian-style cooking, simple recipes, and sheer enthusiasm are inspiring. Plus she has some great close ups of delicious food.

Pop Pilates

Fitness instructor Cassey Ho shares her tips and tricks on efficient workouts, diets, and fitness apparel with this hands-on channel. Her workouts can be hard, but her optimistic attitude makes it a little easier to complete (although her enthusiasm can be slightly irritating—I mean, how is someone so happy while doing side plank extensions?). I feel great after completing one of her videos, and sometimes an at-home workout is much more appealing than heading to the Rec Center.

The Meyers-Briggs Personality Test

-Brianna Huber

I’m an INFJ. What are you?

No idea what I’m talking about? No problem. Just head on over to the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

The MBTI is a personality test developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter, author Isabel Briggs Myers. The test uses theories developed by psychologist Carl Jung to classify people’s personality ‘type’ using a series of four dichotomies: extroversion (E) vs. introversion (I), sensing (S) vs. intuition (N), thinking (T) vs. feeling (F), and judging (J) vs. perception (P). The meanings of these terms in relation to the MBTI differ from their meanings in everyday use.

Introversion vs. Exroversion

Introverts are more inwardly focused on thoughts and ideas while extroverts are outwardly focused on people and objects. Introverts seek depth in their experiences, while extroverts seek breadth–e.g. an extrovert wants to learn many things, while an introvert wants to gain a thorough understanding of a particular topic. Extroverts gain energy from interaction with other people, while introverts need time alone to recharge.

Sensing vs. Intuition

These are two information-gathering (perceiving) functions. Individuals who fall into the “sensing” category tend to prefer solid facts and information that can be perceived with the five senses. People in the “intuition” side of the scale are more trusting of abstract and theoretical information that can be used to connect pieces of a bigger picture. “Sensing” folks are rooted in the present, while those who lean toward “intuition” are more likely to be looking toward the future and how current events might play out.

Thinking vs. Feeling

This is a dichotomy of decision-making (judging) functions. These functions are used to make decisions based on information gathered by a person’s “perceiving” function(s). “Thinking” individuals tend to use logic and look at a situation from a distance and come to a decision through detached rationality. “Feeling” individuals are more empathetic and want to experience a situation firsthand before making a decision about it. Thinkers operate based on rules and what makes sense, while feelers operate based on how pieces of a system fit together and what decision is likely to produce the most harmonious outcome.

Judging vs. Perceiving

According to the theories behind the MBTI, people have a preference toward either the sensing/intuition dichotomy or the thinking/feeling dichotomy when relating to the outside world. From what I understand, this dichotomy shows whether a person prefers to remain open and flexible to new information, or prefers to make clear decisions based on the information they obtain.

Based on the above information, if I am a INFJ type, that means I am inwardly focused and need to be alone to recharge rather than thrown into a social situation when low on energy (Introversion). I am comfortable with abstract concepts and making connections between events and bits of information (iNtuitive). I sympathize with others and prefer to experience a situation up close or firsthand before making decisions about it (Feeling), and I like to actively process and make decisions about information rather than take it in passively (Judging).

The two sides of any one dichotomy aren’t mutually exclusive. I also prefer to have concrete facts when I make decisions, and I try to remain open-minded and fairly objective when faced with new information if the situation calls for it, but the MBTI simply classifies me based on which side of the dichotomy I lean toward, even if it’s only slightly. On a more specific level, the version of the test linked at the beginning of this post rated me as having a 33 percent preference for introversion, a 25 percent preference toward intuition, a 50 percent lean toward feeling, and a 44 percent lean toward judging – in other words, I’m more strongly polarized on the latter two dichotomies than I am on the first two.

Once you have a Myers-Briggs type determined for yourself (I suggest taking several different tests to see which result you receive most consistently since the results can vary slightly) you can use it to determine what kind of job you might be happiest doing, who else you’re likely to be romantically compatible with based on their type, and it can also come in handy when explaining your personal modus operandi to others.

I think the test is really interesting and it’s fun to encounter people with my same type. Now that you’ve read what the MBTI is all about, go take the test yourself and come post your result in the comments.

Games for Change

-Brianna Huber

Video games are good for more than just entertainment. They can be used as a tool to teach people valuable ideas and lessons about how the world works. Games for Change is a website with a wide array of online and downloadable games that do precisely that.

After skimming the site, I decided to choose a few games that looked interesting and see what they were all about. Below is a short list of a few that I found particularly interesting.

Against All Odds

This game allows the user to experience what it is like to be a refugee. The game is divided into three sections: “War and Conflict,” “Border Country,” and “New Life.” Across each of these three sections you have to complete tasks like surviving an interrogation, escaping across the border into a neighboring country after deciding what to bring with you, and finding a job in your new country once you’ve been granted permission to work there. The game highlights some of the tough choices refugees must make in their decision to flee injustice and allowed me to better understand the hardships some people must face on a daily basis.

Win the White House

In this game, you are a politician running for president of the United States. After choosing a candidate to run as, you must choose your platform and key issues to support, then run for office in primaries and a general election. Along the way you can fund-raise, run commercials, take polls, and make personal appearances in individual states to try and earn votes. This game wasn’t quite as profound as Against All Odds, but it’s still a fun way to get a firsthand idea about the democratic process.


Unmanned seeks to challenge the concepts of war presented in most first-person-shooter style video games and present some of the realities of war from the perspective of an operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle. You don’t face combat directly; you only deal with targets on-screen. In between assignments, you go about your civilian life with your wife and son and are supposed to take note of how your involvement in the war effort relates to these interactions. Based on your responses to certain situations, you can earn medals. I only earned two out of eight or so that I encountered, one of which was for being a good dad. I never figured out what I was supposed to do during my missions, whether I was supposed to be shooting at someone or even how to shoot, and my commanding officer would constantly get mad at me for that. It’s kind of a strange, slower paced game, but I guess that’s part of what makes it interesting: the fact that parts of it go against our more commonly held notions of war.

A Closed World

This game was created in response to a lack of LGBT relevant content in video games. I thought it was interestingly symbolic. The design is similar to that of classic Pokemon games for Gameboy in that you wander through forest mazes using your keyboard’s arrow keys and encounter monsters. But the forest represents something unknown and taboo (the LGBT community or lifestyle), while the monsters are “demons” that represent negative influences that society has on your LGBT character. You can attack demons with ‘logic,’ ‘passion,’ or ‘ethics.’ If your attacks are unsuccessful, you lose “resolve” which you can regain if you “take a breath.” The idea behind the game is interesting, and it is a prototype, but I feel like it would be more effective if it had a greater sense of depth.

These are just a few of the games available through Games for Change. You can find others on topics from education, to the environment, to health issues. If there’s a topic that you’ve wanted to gain a better understanding of, there just might be an applicable game waiting for you. I suggest you go check the site out.

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On Trend: Wanelo – Online Shopping For Dummies

-Rache’ll Brown

“Want, need, or love?” I ask myself while sorting through page after page during an afternoon of procrastination via online shopping. As a girl who loves to shop, about 60 percent of my time on the computer is spent browsing various web stores—but going to the same five sites over and over again just gets boring. This is why I love Wanelo.

With Wanelo (a shortened version of Want, Need, Love), I can search for a specific item or style of clothing and find things from hundreds of sites. It introduces me to different boutiques I’ve never heard of, and it keeps me on one tab instead of having ten different ones slowing down my browser. And the site is so easy to navigate. Similar to Pinterest, once you find an item that catches your attention, you can either save it to a specific collection you’ve created, tag it for a friend, or buy it. If you don’t have something specific in mind, you can browse the trending topics or follow a feed of collections that friends have created. The interactive aspect is what makes Wanelo so fun. You can follow different sites you already love or compare different pieces with friends.

Best of all, Wanelo has a free app for iPhones, which is how I fell in love with the site in the first place. It’s easy to spend hours just hanging around and creating different collections–I like to have a collection for each season, plus any specific special occasions (my spring formal collection is getting insane! But what can I say, I like to be prepared). Another helpful aspect of Wanelo is that users can see what types of colors, cuts, and accessories are trendy at the moment. I mean, it’s not like I want to look like everyone else, but I think the best inspiration comes from everyday girls like me, and where better to find it then on someone’s dream collection?

So, fashionistas (female and male alike), I 100 percent recommend this site (and more importantly, this app)! The site is perfect for frequent shoppers and newbies alike! I’m completely obsessed with it, so head to the app store and download away!

Grade: A

Duck & Cover: How To Make It Onto The FanCam

-Eleni Pappelis

Tired of being yet another face in a sea of other students just like you?

Have trouble standing out in class, around campus, or life in general?

Is it time you finally had your fifteen minutes of fame?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions it’s time for your face to finally make the big screen.  This week’s column can help you do this! This guide provides a solution to all your problems.

How to make it onto the Jumbotron at a basketball game

1.  Have a clever, synchronized dance ready to bust out with the people you go to the game with.  For those of you who have seen the State Farm fancam commercial, execution of the simultaneous is key. Watch for some inspiring moves: State Farm FanCam Commercial.

2.  Or maybe you don’t need anyone to hold you back and prefer to go solo so you can freestyle your dance moves. Wild, cliché, or simply weird will surely work.  You will probably fall under one of two categories for this option: either “Awkward White Guy Dancing” (Mr. Roboto on the Jumbotron) or “You Just Made Jumbotron History” (Livin On A Prayer Jumbotron). True fancam talent and commitment from this soloist here.

3.  If accessible, have or find a cute child to show off to the crowd.  True, the attention might be focused on the kid, but let’s face it: Who wouldn’t rather see an adorable three-year-old do funny things than a less-lovable grown-up?

4.  Guys, hide behind a group of attractive girls. Odds are the cameramen are going to be a little biased and prefer to show them and not you if you haven’t followed steps one through three.

5.  Disgustingly eat a hotdog or serving of nachos and you can end up on the regurgi-cam. Here, everyone can witness your repulsive eating habits. The regurgi-cam masterfully displays fans eating their favorite foods from the concession stand.

6.  Become a super fan with a distracting outfit, and no Jumbotron can resist showing you off.  Anyone can appreciate pride in your favorite team.

7.  Have a huge sign that is well thought-out and make sure everything is spelled correctly . . . unless you want that kind of attention. However, please be courteous with your huge poster and don’t forget that all the people sitting in the row behind you probably came here to actually watch the game.

8.  Get extra cuddly with your significant other or the cute guy/girl who’s just as into basketball standing next to you and maybe you’ll make it on the KissCam. More advice: be careful who you sit next to.  This can go horribly wrong if not planned out.

A word of caution to each of these helpful tips: you must commit.  They won’t work if you are not fully invested. You deserve to stand out.  Like mom always told you, you are a shining star and a special individual.

Do Not Try:
1.  Getting into a fight. Sporting events are reputable functions that should be appreciated and respected.
2.  Taking off your clothes. The tech team is quick enough to cut your 15 seconds of fame to less than one if they think you are going to show your stuff.  Quite honestly, if it took the fancam to make you willingly show off in front of 20,000 people, odds are it’s not just the cameramen who doesn’t want to see what you’re really made of.  Streaking down a football field, however is a completely different circumstance.

Terms of Abuse? A Look Into Social Media's Fine Print

-Marissa Tomko

I feel like my answer to everything these days is “I saw it on the internet.” From the catchy “Call Me Maybe” tune to Lance Armstrong’s confessions, I am constantly scrolling through notifications, Tweets, and articles about the world around me, and what is happening at that very moment. It takes mere minutes for news to go viral, and there is never a way to tell when it will happen.

The modern-day sensation of insta-news was especially appropriate last month, when the social media company Instagram changed its “Terms of Use.” Instagram’s new policy stated that it would be able to use the photos of any Instagrammer for advertisements, or sell them to services with no obligation to notify or compensate the user. This realization sparked internet pandemonium—people were outraged at the company. Account holders threatened to delete their photo streams for good, including celebrities with large followings and National Geographic. These threats did not go unnoticed. After all, what is social media without users?

Consequently, less than a week later on December 20, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote in a blogpost that the language surrounding the public’s issues would be removed, and that the new new policy would go into effect on January 19, 2013. Last week, an email went out reminding users that the policy will take effect on Saturday. The email was sure to remind users that they will have control over the privacy of their photos.

After all of the controversy and change, there are some that believe that while the protests of users were commanding and influential, they weren’t completely aware of the situation. In an interview with The Washington Post, Susan Scafidi, a professor of law at Fordham University, says that these were probably Instagram’s policies all along.

“The issue was never that Instagram could sell your images. The issue was that, under the ‘Terms of Use,’ they could license them to anyone, anywhere, for virtually any purpose.” Users of social media such as Instagram are unaware of what companies can actually do with their content and user data, the knowledge of which might make one wary of what they choose to do online.

Like most people, I’m probably still not going to read all of the fine print every time I purchase a new app for my phone. But I do take comfort in knowing that if something is brought to the attention of my fellow online addicts, I’ll be able to find out at the refresh of a Twitter feed. Meanwhile, I’ll just be watching the newest cat video.