Welcome back to The Weekender. Every Saturday morning, The Verge will give you something to do. This is where you'll get the best of what we’ve written this week, but also a reason to get up and actually do something with your life — even if that something is dreaming of the far off places you might go.
Here's a collection of some of our favorite pieces that you may have missed, along with a snapshot of the things you should be doing with your days off. Have a look.
Manhattanhenge, New York City
Tonight is one of just a handful of times during the year when the sun shines perfectly down the steel and concrete canyons of New York City. Known as Manhattanhenge, the term itself was coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson and has come to symbolize a moment when we can a) consider what our progeny might think of our current moment in civilization and b) snap a few choice pictures. Tonight's event is the last of the year, and your best view will be at 8:25PM ET.
Social Pool, Mojave Desert
Social Pool is an art installation built by designer Alfredo Barsuglia. It's also an actual pool, an oasis deep in the California desert. Don't expect to find it just off the road, though. Barsuglia insists that visitors take an hours-long drive out of Los Angeles following the pool's GPS coordinates and then walking the rest of the way. But that's the whole point. Rather than treat the exhibit as a destination, Barsuglia wants it to be a time of reflection before those who arrive enjoy a reprieve in the pool's cool water.
The new gladiators: Valve's quest to turn e-sports into epic spectacle
Valve kicked off the biggest e-sports competition ever this week, with a prize pool totaling over $10 million. But the game at hand, Dota 2, is an exceptionally hard one to understand, meaning Valve has its work cut out if it wants e-sports broadcasts to be as compelling as the type of coverage you might find on ESPN.
A chat with Microsoft's CEO: why Apple and Google haven't won yet
New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has some big challenges ahead of him as he tries to turn the company's prospects around in both mind- and market-share. We spoke with Nadella to ask how Microsoft plans to do that, whether it still has a chance with consumers, and what the new direction he outlined this week means for the company.
Airlander 10: up close with the gigantic airship the US Army wanted
The Airlander 10 is a huge, helium-filled airshape that looks like it's come straight off the pages of a sci-fi sketchbook. But the Airlander is real, and it's almost ready to take flight. We swung by its hanger in England to photograph the Airlander ahead of a potential first test flight later this year.
Sultan of scalp: one doctor peels back the skin to find a better cure for baldness
There's still no great way to treat baldness, but a doctor in Arizona believes that he may be on to something. He's invented a new device called the piloscope, and by cutting out hair follicles from just beneath the scalp, it may be able to remove one of hair-restoration surgery's biggest drawbacks.
Why Facebook is beating the FBI at facial recognition
The FBI plans to role out its own facial recognition program later this year, pulling together millions of photographs to help law enforcement ID suspects. But the program isn't very good, and now the FBI may have to turn to Facebook — through one means or another — to figure out how to make facial recognition actually work.
Confessions of a Vine Dad
How making six-second videos of his son on Vine brought Nick Confalone fortune, followers, and fame.
Ever since I was a kid making movies with G.I. Joes and my dad’s Hi8 camera, I’d been waiting for something like Vine. It was my perfect medium, combining my love of storytelling with my impatient desire to finish something quickly. I’d written cartoons for Disney, so I knew that there’s no better way to quickly convey an idea and make people laugh than with fast cuts, silly voices, whip pans, and sound effects. A cute baby helps too.
Your Eyes Are Happier Than Your Stomach
The New York Times
Food critic Pete Wells writes about what he calls "camera cuisine," or food that's eminently photogenic without ever really being tasty.
Cameras are on chefs’ minds far more than they were a decade or so ago, when most pictures of food were taken in studios under blazing lamps. Digital cameras that capture high-resolution images in low light opened the game to anyone sitting in a restaurant, from a blogger with a tripod-mounted DSLR camera to an Instagrammer holding an iPhone at arm’s length. As soon as those devices began plugging into the Internet and social media accounts, food photography stopped being just an illustration for a cookbook or magazine. Now the picture itself is the story.
Rise of the Sea Urchin
Frank Lidz follows the adventures of Roderick Sloan, a Scotsman living in Norway who has cornered the market on the country's latest delicacy: sea urchins.
What makes Sloan perfectly risible in the eyes of many is the precarious career he has carved. In weather that would be considered mild only on Neptune, he dives into the icy fjord to gather sea urchins, those wee beasties that look like squash balls encased in pine thistles. Sloan’s aquatic treasure hunts for krakebolle ("crow’s balls" in Norwegian) are as dangerous as they are daring. Waves are often treacherous; squalls, gusty; and storms can appear in an instant. "Roddie swims alone, down to 50 feet deep," Sjuve observes. "You’ve either got to be drunk or crazy to do what he does."
"Speaking up every. Fucking. Time"
Elizabeth Spiers profiles Shanley Kane, the publisher of Model View Culture and an outspoken proponent of diversity in tech.
The last time I heard directly from Shanley Kane, it was by email.
"Leave me the fuck alone and don’t ever contact me again," she wrote, before launching into a two-day Twitter barrage demanding that I stop harassing her, her friends, and her family, and calling me a stalker. It might have been fair, or at least accurate, if I were doing any of the above.
The New Yorker
Sasha Frere-Jones takes a look at Brian Eno's new album High Life and reviews his contributions to the ambient music genre.
When someone lies on the studio floor and sings at a microphone five feet away, Eno is in the air. When a band records three hours of improvisation and then loops a four-second excerpt of the audiotape and scraps the rest, Eno has a hand on the razor blade. When everybody except for the engineer is told to go home, Eno remains. Behind Eno stand John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, and Erik Satie, but those guys didn’t make pop records.
*Grab the entire list as a Readlist.
Listen to this
'Captains Control | Pogo'
A handful of the Verge staff has been jamming to this for the better part of the week. Nothing crazy. Just a smooth track sampling audio from the Starship Enterprise and vocals from Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself. It's amazing how well it works.
The artists behind Plaid have been making classics for decades in one form or another. However, in this mix you can get a reasonable sense of what catches their ears. 'wrd' starts off pleasantly enough, and then things just get weird. In a good, surprising way. You need to hear this.
'The Wolf Among Us' Season Finale, Cross-Platform
Telltale's The Wolf Among Us made its debut way back in October, and this week the five-episode season finally came to a conclusion. The gritty fairytale-meets-crime drama game is based on the Fables comic books, and features everything from alcoholic flying monkeys to a werewolf sheriff with anger management problems. It's also the follow-up to Telltale's megahit The Walking Dead games, and just like that series, The Wolf Among Us is all about dealing with difficult situations and making tough decisions that alter the story's outcome. Now you can finally see how all your choices play out.
'Nothing Lasts Forever'
Much has already been made of how big a year 1984 was for sci-fi and summer blockbusters. So what about the movies that never made it to theaters? If you're not too busy watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, set aside some time to watch Nothing Lasts Forever. The film features Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd (both of whom happened to appear in Ghostbusters that same year) in small-ish roles, and involves an artist joining a group of radicalized hobos trying to fly a New York City bus to the moon. It never saw release, but leaked online in its entirety in 2011. What are you waiting for?