In the French city of Grenoble, there are unusual vending machines that don’t dispense soda or snacks — they print out short stories that look like paper receipts instead. These machines were built by a publishing company called Short Édition, which placed eight of them in public locations (such as the city hall and libraries) as part of a pilot project. Each dispenser has 1-minute, 3-minute and 5-minute buttons, so readers can choose how long their stories are, all of which were written by members of the Short Édition community. SOURCE: Short story vending machine promises old-school distractions | Engadget
I’VE SPENT THE past year with strange voices in my head. Soothing, rich-voiced, strangers intermittently whispering, crying, yelling, and practicing terrible accents in my ear. This is because I discovered the weird world of LibriVox, a charmingly scrappy DIY community site dedicated to creating free audiobooks for public domain texts. LibriVox is like Audible, the audiobook service owned by Amazon, except that every book is made for free by volunteers, and every book was published before 1923. A legion of volunteer readers—from professional stage actors to people practicing reading English as a second language—patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, inch through thousands of texts, posting the end results for free. READ MORE: The Weird, Obsessive World of Free DIY Audiobooks | WIRED
Image Credit: The British Library
A sword on display at the British Library has an 800-year-old mystery engraved on its blade. Dating back to between 1250 and 1330 AD, the sword was discovered in the east of England, in the River Witham near Lincoln, in the 19th century. The sword is a particularly fine double-edged steel weapon of English design. It was most likely forged in Germany and belonged to a wealthy man or a knight.
The hilt is cross-shaped, which is normal for swords from this period of the Middle Ages, and is heavy enough to have cloven a man’s head in twain if swung with sufficient strength.
But the sword, on loan to the library from the British Museum, does have a couple of highly unusual features. Down the centre of the blade, it has two grooves known as fullers, where most blades only have one. On one side, it also bears an inscription:
It’s not the presence of the inscription that has researchers nonplussed, but its content: Experts don’t know what the inscription means. READ MORE: British Library asks for help deciphering a medieval sword | CNET.
The world is tough place to navigate in a wheelchair. But finding ramps and elevators can be easier thanks to this handy map app that anyone can edit.
It’s called Wheelmap, and it tells you the accessibility status of public places all over the world. It’s free and grades locations in a traffic light-style, red-yellow-green scale of wheelchair accessibility. Developed by German nonprofit SOZIALHELDEN e.V., it’s now celebrating five years since launch. Since 2010, users have added nearly half a million entries across the globe.
“Accessible” means you can enter the place without steps, and that all rooms inside a building can be entered without steps, as well. “Limited accessibility” refers to entrances with a max of one step no higher than seven centimeters, and that the “most important rooms” can be entered without steps.
Wheelmap launched back in 2010, and since then, has become available in 22 languages. It’s available for both iOS and Android users.