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The Late Movies: SimCity

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A new version of SimCity is coming in March 2013. They're not calling it "SimCity 5" -- instead, EA/Maxis is rebooting the franchise, Star Trek-style, and just calling the new game "SimCity" again. This thing looks amazing to me; I've been playing since I was a kid, and this incarnation of the game feels really exciting and fresh (partly because you no longer need to build separate plumbing lines -- roads now handle everything). Here are some clips from the upcoming game, as well as a look back at previous versions.

SimCity Demo

In this nine-minute video, designer Stone Librande builds a casino town, and dumps his city's waste in a pile on the edge of town. Sounds about right.

The Economic Loop

Here's how commercial and industrial buildings interact with workers and the larger economy...which includes the environment. Note that these are definitely not the real graphics -- but it's pretty neat seeing the crazy debug mode developers use.

How Plumbing Works

This short video shows the basics of the water simulation within the new SimCity. The interesting parts to me: no more manual plumbing, limited resources (you deplete the water table), and groundwater contamination is quite easy. A nice balance of realism (water isn't just free forever) and convenience (let it travel down roads).

How Is SimCity Like A Real City?

Joey at Vsauce3 explains how SimCity's previous models of urban density are actually pretty realistic -- though some other elements (like building power plants) take shortcuts. Because, let's face it, going through a decade-long permit process to build a power plant is nobody's idea of fun.

Magnasanti (SimCity 3000)

6 million people in one SimCity, requiring terrifying efficiency. Built by Vincent Ocasla, this is an awe-inspiring city four human years in the making.

SNES SimCity

Here's ten minutes of gameplay on the SNES version of SimCity. The music may soothe you into a deep retro sleep. If you like this, check out this guy's SNES megalopolis with 916,000 citizens. Yes, he used an emulator and a money cheat to make it.

Let's Play SimCity 4

This extremely long play-through demo explains how to work through SimCity 4.

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Live Smarter
Make Spreadsheets a Whole Lot Easier With This Excel Trick
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While data nerds may love a good spreadsheet, many office workers open Microsoft Excel with a certain amount of resistance. Inputting data can be a monotonous task. But a few tricks can make it a whole lot easier. Business Insider has a new video highlighting one of those shortcuts—a way to create a range that changes with the data you input.

Dynamic named ranges change and grow with your data, so, for instance, if one column is time and another is, say, dollar value, the value can change automatically as time goes on. If you do this, it's relatively easy to create a chart using this data, by simply inserting your named ranges as your X and Y values. The chart will automatically update as your range expands.

It's easier to see in the program itself, so watch the full video on Business Insider. Microsoft also has its own instructions here, or you can check out this video from the YouTube channel Excel Tip, which also has dozens of other useful tutorials for making Microsoft Excel your hardworking assistant.

[h/t Business Insider]

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History
Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist (who is the subject of today's Google Doodle) predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.

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