Here’s what we have been reading/watching today:

An American Flag flies at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., Tuesday, June 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
An American Flag flies at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., Tuesday, June 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

1) Will you be barbecuing or protesting on July 4th? Mashable’s Alex Fitzpatrick writes that plans are underway for anti-NSA protests on Independence Day in various cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Washington. The organization leading the protest planning effort, Restore the Fourth, is just under a month old, writes Fitzpatrick. Restore the Fourth organizers participated in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on reddit Tuesday in the lead-up to the event.

2) How’s life without Google Reader? Let us know in the comments. Also, check out Wonkblog’s Lydia DePillis on “how RSS feeds lost the web.” After reading it, you may find yourself foregoing the world of RSS entirely.

3) What if a bridge could tell you when it was about to fail. As GigaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham writes, a new sensor-based technology system from U.K. design company Neul could do just that. The system is called Weightless and was designed with the goal of creating a machine-to-machine network similar to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Higginbotham writes:

“This is a perfect example of how people want the internet of things to work. Connected sensors relay data to a base station that then send the data someplace where it can be analyzed and then offer an alarm if something is wrong. The idea is simple, but in practice it’s hard.”


4) In case you missed it, the D.C.-based startup accelerator 1776 has unveiled The Challenge Cup — an international competition for startups that seek to innovate in health care, energy, education and government. Along with that unveiling came a new site design after months of a static page promising a new look soon. 1776 co-founder Donna Harris confirmed the site launch via an e-mail Tuesday. The accelerator will also be hosting a “Stars, Stripes and Startups” event tonight at their location in Washington.

5) And we end with Buttercup — a duck with a new 3D-printed food. As CNET’s Michelle Star writes, Buttercup was born in a high-school biology lab last November with one foot facing backwards. After being transferred to Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tenn., Buttercup’s leg was amputated. But the duck’s new owner, Mike Garey decided to make a prosthetic using a 3D-printed mold modeled after Buttercup’s sister’s foot. The foot and sock that fits around Buttercup’s left are made of silicone, since 3D-printed plastics are too stiff. Now, Buttercup is walking around on the new prosthetic. Cue the YouTube video views and Facebook page likes (yes, Buttercup has a Facebook page). Oh, and cue the “Aww”‘s too.

Here’s video of the prosthetic foot being removed from the mold:

And here’s video of Buttercup having his 3D printed prosthetic foot put on for the first time: