Penny Arcade: News Post: Doppelgaber

Tycho: In order to fully grasp the sociopolitical texture of Final Fantasy XV, it’s probably important to watch the movie.  And maybe the anime.  I didn’t do those things.  I just jumped in with both feet into what feels like a Final Fantasy MMO for the most part, but…  I think I’m okay with that.  I’m at least ten hours okay with it, judging by the weekend.  Big takeaways: This game has meticulous, overwhelming, almost pornographic 3d models of food.  And, It’s a world where people have swords AND cars AND cellphones. Gabe wondered…

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Odd

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Useful

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Interesting

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Hmmm

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Don't learn to code from stock photos

All Content: Propelling Female Filmmakers: A Recap of the 2016 Whistler Film Festival

Thumb_whistler-festival-logo-2016-2

The 16th annual Whistler Film Festival, set in British Columbia's popular winter resort, has drawn to a close after five days packed with multiple screenings of 65 films, a full house of filmmaker labs and pitch sessions, parties and power skiing. 

Whistler may not be Canada's biggest or highest profile international film festival, but its quaint mountain town setting makes it one of the country's most enjoyable venues for local or visiting movie lovers and for meetings between filmmakers and industry honchos. The ambience is casual, intimate and proactive. Whistler is frequently compared to Sundance in its early stages, before the onset of hullabaloo. 

The 2016 program balanced big buzz Hollywood flicks such as “La La Land,” “Lion” and “Miss Sloane,” with wonderful English language and French Canadian productions, including narratives, documentaries and shorts. 

What's important to note is the Whistler Film Festival's consistent emphasis on Canadian content. This year, 65 percent of the films were Canadian productions, the largest percentage of any international film festival in Canada, according to Paul Gratton, Whistler's programmer for the past six years.

No less important to the festival is the industry's progress towards greater opportunity for, and recognition of, excellent work by women filmmakers, a theme clearly articulated on the first day of the festival, when Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telfilm Canada, announced the funding agency's goal of reaching gender equity in public financing by the year 2020. 

Parity for women is a cause that's fully embraced and underscored by festival founder and director Shauna Hardy Mishaw, who has established ongoing partnerships with female focused organizations that train, mentor and promote women directors and producers. 

"Whistler Film Festival is committed to putting propulsion behind the works of female filmmakers—getting films made, distributed and widely seen. Development and promotion of women in film is a primary goal. Movies influence the way people see the world and behave in it. We feel it is essential for women's perspectives to shine from the screen," said Mishaw.

Women In The Director's Chair (WIDC), a highly successful mentoring program headed by Carol Whiteman, conducts intensive filmmaker labs at Whistler Film Festival each year. Now in its 20th year, WIDC can boast that many of the female-directed projects that have gone through the program later premiered at the festival.

The festival's Women on Top Breakfast, set atop Whistler Mountain, was a feminist film feast. The restaurant was packed with powerful women who networked and made deals. Attendees listened to Canada Media Fund president and CEO Valerie Creighton deliver a stirring keynote covering current stats and strategies for reaching parity by 2020. There was also a presentation of WIDC's Feature Film Award (totalling Canadian $190K in cash and services), as given to Canadian Korean filmmaker Gloria Ui Young Kim for production of her first feature film, about a young Korean mother and her daughter as they struggle to bond with each other in the face of daunting adversities.

This year, femme-helmed films scored big in awards. Topping the list of winners, Canadian first-time filmmaker Chloe Leriche's “Before the Streets” garnered Borsos Awards (named for Canadian director Philip Borsos) for Best Canadian Feature, Best Director, Honorable Mention for Performance (Rykko Bellemare) and the Alliance of Women Film Journalist's EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature.

The film, the first feature shot in the Atikamekw language (a dialect of Algonquin Cree), is the moving story of Shawnouk, a young First Nations man who banishes himself into exile after committing a horrible crime during a routine break-in at one of the local summer homes. 

Tied for the Best Documentary Feature award were two female-directed films, Katie Bennie Bender's “The Will to Fly” and Fern Levitt's “Sled Dogs." The former is about the freestyle skiing feats of Olympic gold medalist, Lydia Lassila, while the latter exposes egregious treatment of sled dogs in Whistler and elsewhere. The documentary “Mr. Zaritsky on TV,” co-directed by Jennifer Di Cresce and Michael Savoie received an honorable mention from the Borsos jury. 

“The Will to Fly” also won the Best Mountain Culture Film Award; “Sled Dogs,” which stirred considerable debate in Whistler, also won the Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary. 

Additional Borsos awards went to: Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs for Best Performance in Canadian film “The Sun at Midnight"; Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography went to “Cyclotron,” while the Canadian Short Work Award went to “Mutanta” and the International Short Work Award went to “Timecode"; Best Canadian Screenplay Award to “The Head Vanishes"; the Short Work Student Award was given to “Bombing” and the MPPIA Short Film Award went to “Good Girls Don’t.”

Additionally, the festival presents Variety's "10 Screenwriters to Watch." This year, Steven Gaydos lead a thoroughly engaging panel discussion with five of the writers: Pamela Ribon (“Moana”), Jojo Moyes (“Me Before You”), Luke Davies (“Lion”), Todd Komarnicki (“Sully”) and Jonas Cuaron (“Desierto”).

Of the 2016 program, Gratton notes, "I was very pleased that this year's selection of feature films directed by women playing at the Whistler Film Festival had risen‎ from 11 last year to 15 this year. It is a long way from the gender equity that we would all like to see in the marketplace, but it is a measurable step in the right direction. Not only that, but the quality of the female-directed films seems to be improving as well."

The 2016 Whistler Film Festival ran from November 30 through December 4. For more information on the fest, click here

MetaFilter: Luis Carlos Montalvan

Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván, an Army veteran and advocate for veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI), died Friday night. After serving in Iraq and suffering a TBI, Montalvan was paired with a service dog, Tuesday. He and Tuesday crossed the country over the past few years, advocating for the use of service dogs for injured vets. Capt. Montalván was 43.

Luis Carlos Montalván & Tuesday on Letterman

Tuesday, who came to be a part of Montalván's family on Election Day, 2008, is currently being cared for by his ECAD family.

MetaFilter: "...and we'll have a burial for him tomorrow."

William Callagan was captain of the USS Misouri, when she was hit by a kamikaze pilot. The only casualty was the pilot. Callaghan buried the pilot at sea. With dignity.

Slashdot: Windows 10 'Home Hub' Is Microsoft's Response To Amazon Echo and Google Home

Microsoft's response to the Amazon Echo and Google Home is Home Hub, a software update for Windows 10's Cortana personal assistant that turns any Windows PC into a smart speaker of sorts. Mashable reports: Microsoft's smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC's screen is locked. The Home Hub is tied to Cortana and takes this a few steps further. It would add a special app with features such as calendar appointments, sticky notes and shopping lists. A Home Hub-enabled PC might have a Welcome Screen, a full-screen app that displays all these, like a virtual fridge door. Multiple users (i.e. family members) could use the Home Hub, either by authenticating through Windows Hello or by working in a family-shared account. Cortana would get more powerful on Home Hub; it could, for example, control smart home devices, such as lights and locks. And even though all of this will work on any Windows 10 device -- potentially making the PC the center of your smart home experience -- third-party manufacturers will be able to build devices that work with Home Hub. You can read Windows Central's massive report here. Do note that Home Hub is not official and individual features could change over time. The update is slated for 2017.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Quiet Earth: WFF 2016: CHOKESLAM Review

One of the things I love most about festivals is discovering something new and loglines don't get much stranger than "wrestling romantic comedy." But I'm cheating a little here because Chokeslam isn't really a new discovery but rather a movie I've been looking forward to since it premiered at the Calgary International Film Festival.


A passion project for writer/director Robert Cuffley (who a few years ago was responsible for the great thriller Ferocious (review), this comedy stars Chris Marquette as Corey, a nice guy who stuck around the small town he grew up in. His 10th anniversary high school re-union is around the corner and with it comes the return of Sheena, [Continued ...]

Recent additions: bytestring-arbitrary 0.1.1

Added by tsuraan, Tue Dec 6 00:44:48 UTC 2016.

Arbitrary instances for ByteStrings

Slashdot: Fake News Prompts Gunman To 'Self-Investigate' Pizza Parlor

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A rifle-wielding North Carolina man was arrested Sunday in Washington, DC for carrying his weapon into a pizzeria that sits at the center of the fake news conspiracy theory known as "Pizzagate," authorities said Monday. DC's Metropolitan Police Department said it had arrested 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch on allegations of assault with a dangerous weapon. "During a post arrest interview this evening, the suspect revealed that he came to the establishment to self-investigate 'Pizza Gate' (a fictitious online conspiracy theory," the agency said in a statement. "Pizzagate" concerns a baseless conspiracy theory about a secret pedophile group, the Comet Ping Pong restaurant, and Hillary Clinton's campaign chief, John Podesta. The Pizzagate conspiracy names Comet Ping Pong as the secret headquarters of a non-existent child sex-trafficking ring run by Clinton and members of her inner circle. James Alefantis, the restaurant's owner, said he has received hundreds of death threats. According to Buzzfeed, the Pizzagate theory is believed to have been fostered by a white supremacist's tweets, the 4chan message board, Reddit, Donald Trump supporters, and right-wing blogs. The day before Thanksgiving, Reddit banned a "Pizzagate" conspiracy board from the site because of a policy about posting personal information of others. Alefantis, the pizzeria's owner, told CNN, "What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences. I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackaday: Crypto Features: They’re Not For Girls

If you have worked in an office that contained a typewriter, the chances are you’ve been in the workplace for several decades. Such has been the inexorable advance of workplace computing. It’s a surprise then to discover that one of the desirable toys from many decades ago, the Barbie Typewriter, is still available. Are hipster parents buying toy versions of vintage office machinery for their children to use in an ironic fashion?

Gone though are the plastic versions of mechanical typewriters that would have been the property of a 1970s child. The modern Barbie typist has an electronic typewriter at her fingertips, with a daisy-wheel printer. We’re treated to a teardown of the recent models courtesy of Crypto Museum, who reveal a hidden feature, Barbie’s typewriter can encrypt and decrypt messages.

Now the fact that a child’s toy boasts a set of simple substitution cyphers is hardly the kind of thing that will set the pulses of Hackaday readers racing, after all simple letter frequency analysis is hardly new. But of course, the Crypto Museum angle is only part of this story.

This toy is made in a suitably eye-watering shade of pink, and sold by Mattel with Barbie branding. But it didn’t start life as a Barbie product, instead it’s licensed from the Slovenian manufacturer Mehano. The original toy makes no secret of the crypto functions, but though they persist in the software on the Barbie version they are mysteriously absent from the documentation. The achievements of American women are such that they have given us high-level languages and compilers, or their software has placed men on the Moon, yet it seems when they are young a brush with elementary cryptology is beyond them in the way that it isn’t for their Slovenian sisters. This is no way to nurture a future Grace Hopper or Margaret Hamilton, though sadly if your daughter is a Lisa Simpson this is just one of many dumbed-down products she’ll be offered.

If you see a Barbie electronic typewriter in a yard sale or similar, and you can pick it up for a few dollars, buy it. It’s got a simple daisywheel printer mechanism that looks eminently hackable. Just don’t buy it for your daughter without also printing out the Crypto Museum page for her as the missing manual.

When the Martian lander running her code has touched down safely, you’ll be glad you did.

Via Adafruit.


Filed under: rants, toy hacks

Instructables: exploring - featured: Spicy- Tangy Green Coriander Chutney

Hi everyone!Nothing is as refreshing and tasty as the smell and flavor of fresh green coriander chutney. It's super easy to make and you can enjoy it with almost every main course Indian dish. Also, coriander works magic in improving bad digestion. So, here we go.... Ingredients required Fresh gr...
By: ShubhanshiG1

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Instructables: exploring - featured: Crispy Vegan Cutlets with Fresh Green Chutney

Hi everyone!This is my third instructable in the row and I am glad to introduce you all to another magical dish from our very own Indian Cuisine.This dish is a good source of high calories and rich in minerals, vitamins, iron, carbohydrates, fibers, and fats. In short, it is a complete balanced vega...
By: ShubhanshiG1

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Slashdot: Google Is Rolling Out Android 7.1.1

Google is rolling out Android 7.1.1 for Pixel and Nexus smartphones, including the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus Player, Pixel C and General Mobile 4G (Android One). You can download it over-the-air when it becomes available "over the next several weeks" or flash it yourself. Engadget details some of the new features found in Android 7.1.1: As for what you can find from a feature perspective, Google has added support for its "image keyboard" that lets you easily find and send pictures and GIFs without leaving your messaging app of choice. Google says it'll work inside of Hangouts, Allo, and the default Messaging app. Ironically enough, the feature has been available in the Gboard iOS keyboard that Google launched in the spring, but it's good to see it coming to more Android phones now. Android 7.1.1 also includes Google's latest set of more diverse emoji, specifically focused on showing a "wider range of professions" for women. And it also contains the excellent app shortcut feature that originally launched on the Pixel -- if you press and hold on an app's icon, a sub-menu of shortcuts will show up. You'll be able to quickly send a message to a specific contact or navigate to a saved location using these shortcuts, for example. They're very much like the "force touch" shortcuts found on the iPhone, but that doesn't make them any less useful.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Instructables: exploring - featured: Nikon Speed Light

This is a speed light I designed and made for my Nikon D3200. Being a student with a cheap 3D printer, I could not afford a speed light, but i could make one. I published the files on Thingiverse.http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1937739The design, I modeled myself. Although its not aesthetically ple...
By: Sramir27

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Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Stark choice

mom-modified

“But what,” she asked, for the first time in our conversation looking truly freaked out, “if I lose it all in a crash?”

Donna has two million dollars, a windfall from selling a long-held house in hot nook of the GTA to people with more money (and debt) than brains. Not bad for a woman who never earned more than $60,000 a year. And while a financial ingénue, she grasped my logic. Houses have never cost more largely because money’s never cost less. That created a speculative bubble, driving citizens insane and pushing prices higher. And now, as conditions start to rapidly change, real estate is smothered in risk.

A smart woman with two mill, a modest pension and three decades of life left needs two things. Income and diversification. Plowing it all back into a house (as she first wanted to do) gives her neither. But still, investing is scary.

Well, actually, there’s a lot less to be worried about as 2016 grinds to a conclusion. In fact, 2017 has the potential to dazzle. Financial markets learned a lot this year about politics, for example. Just look at the big vote in Italy on the weekend which resulted in the prime minister being punted. “After Brexit, it took three days for markets to shake it off, with Trump it took three hours, with Italy it took three minutes,” said a German trader who oversees $260 million. “The outcome was not as much of a surprise as many expected it to be — markets learned their lesson.”

You bet. And the world’s changing for the better because of it, at least for investors.

The US economy (like ours) is showing marked strength all of a sudden. The latest gauge of manufacturing has shot higher. Corporate earnings in the latest quarter, expected to decline by 1% or 2%, actually finished ahead 4.6%. Look at this chart my nerdy portfolio manager partner Ryan just ran around the office with, giggling…

earnings

There’s no denying what’s happening with stock markets. Bay Street’s been hotter than a retriever in heat so far this year with a 15% gain on the back of oil prices almost doubling since last winter. Since Trump, US markets have been in a month-long cavort, with the S&P, the Dow and the small-cap Russell 2000 all busting out to make new highs.

So far, Trump has insulted China (the world’s second-biggest economy), penalized Mexico (by blocking corporate expansion there), claimed millions of people cheated in an election he won, put a suspected white supremacist in the White House and appointed a guy called “Mad Dog” to be in charge of the world’s biggest military. And still markets rise.

Here’s another of Ryan’s charts. He’s now apoplectic.

s-and-p

So while there’s no guarantee where markets will head, this is what we expect: more inflation thanks to accelerated government spending in both Canada and the US. Higher interest rates (and lower bond prices) as the Fed tries to counterweight rising prices and our central bank eventually follows. Lower American taxes, leading to higher corporate earnings. Lots more protectionism, less globalization, more populism, more alt-right leaders – all ensuring less efficiency in the world and higher costs as the flow of labour and capital is restricted.

For people like Donna, the choice becomes starker. Stick with real estate, and gamble that higher mortgage rates over time, epic debt and a slower economy – thanks to less free trade with our biggest partner – won’t impact prices. Or, diversify, invest in a sane portfolio of financial assets and muster the emotional courage to stay calm even when volatility hits.

Will financial markets crash? Unlikely. The worst hit in a generation came in 2008-9, and any investor with a balanced account saw a 20% decline, then a rapid recovery. In the three years ending with 2010, investors in a properly-balanced portfolio actually made an average of 5% annually – without selling a single thing. Only those fools who followed the crowd and sold at the bottom – like the herd buying houses at the top – were creamed.

The biggest obstacle to success is not a crazy world. It’s our own nature.

Sadly, that ain’t changing.

MetaFilter: Not / But

Not / But. 19-and-counting bits of creative-work encouragement from Croatian cartoonist Tonči Zonjić.

Slashdot: Google Preparing 'Invisible ReCAPTCHA' System For No User Interaction

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Google engineers are working on an improved version of the reCAPTCHA system that uses a computer algorithm to distinguish between automated bots and real humans, and requires no user interaction at all. Called "Invisible reCAPTCHA," and spotted by Windows IT Pro, the service is still under development, but the service is open for sign-ups, and any webmaster can help Google test its upcoming technology. Invisible reCAPTCHA comes two years after Google has revolutionized CAPTCHA technologies by releasing the No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA service that requires users to click on one checkbox instead of solving complex visual puzzles made up of words and numbers. The service helped reduce the time needed to fill in forms, and maintained the same high-level of spam detection we've become accustomed from the reCAPTCHA service. The introduction of the new Invisible reCAPTCHA technology is unlikely to make the situation better for Tor users since CloudFlare will likely force them to solve the same puzzle if they come from IPs seen in the past performing suspicious actions. Nevertheless, CloudFlare started working on an alternative.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Amelia Midori Miller

miller1

A selection of paintings by artist Amelia Midori Miller (click here for previous post). More images below.

search.cpan.org: Kafka-Librd-0.06

bindings for librdkafka

Quiet Earth: WFF 2016: FREE FIRE Review

Ben Wheatley makes two types of movies: trippy mind bending ones and gleefully fun ones. Free Fire is of the later variety.


The concept here is straight forward: a group of NRA fighters arrange to buy some guns from a South African arms dealer. The deal is brokered through Justine and Ord, a pair of good looking folks far too pretty not to be together. Everyone meets at a warehouse to make the exchange and all seems to be running smoothly until one of the lackeys recognizes one of the other lackeys from the other side as a guy from a bar fight from the night before. The next thing you know there's an all out gun battle in progress. A gun fight that continues, mostly non-stop, for an hour.


Essentially, Free Fire is a really great concept for a short film expanded to [Continued ...]

Slashdot: Panasonic Announces 1,000,000:1 Contrast Ratio LCD Panel To Rival OLED

OLED panels have always been known to have higher contrast ratios than LCD panels, but that may be about to change with Panasonic's recently announced LCD IPS display. The display boasts a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, which is up to 600 times more contrast than some of the company's conventional LCD panels that tend to offer around 1800:1 ratios, and rivals OLED specifications. Android Authority reports: Panasonic has accomplished this through the use of its new light modulating cell technology, which allows the company to switch off individual pixels in the display using a secondary control layer. Typically, LCD backlights mean that either the entire or only large parts of the display can be dimmed at any one time. OLED panels switch off lights entirely for a black pixel to offer very high contrast ratios, and this new LCD technology works on a very similar principle. This is particularly important for reproducing HDR video content, which is becoming increasingly popular. Furthermore, this new light modulating cell technology allows Panasonic to increase the peak brightness and stability of the display, which can reach 1,000 cd/m2 while also providing HDR colors. Many other HDR TV panels top out in the range of 700 to 800 cd/m2, so colors, highlights, and shadows should appear vivid and realistic. Panasonic plans to ship the new display starting in January 2017 with sizes ranging from 55 to 12 inches.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

search.cpan.org: Chart-Plotly-0.005

Generate html/javascript charts from perl data using javascript library plotly.js

search.cpan.org: Chart-Dygraphs-0.006

Generate html/javascript charts from perl data using javascript library Dygraphs

search.cpan.org: HTML-Notebook-0.001

Compose HTML documents using notebook style

Recent additions: stratosphere 0.3.0

Added by jdreaver, Mon Dec 5 22:23:50 UTC 2016.

EDSL for AWS CloudFormation

MetaFilter: Feature design versus trolling

"Harassers are very clever. They take advantage of tools that are very innocuous and use them as vectors for abuse," Ehmke told me. "If you're creating products and not thinking about how it could be used for abuse, you are not doing your job." - How Github is dealing with its troll problem.

Quiet Earth: WFF 2016: LOST SOLACE Review

Spence is a bad guy. A psychopath, he makes his living praying on rich women by wowing them before robbing them blind. While out celebrating his latest conquest, Spence is talked into taking a new drug which turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life. What he doesn't know when he pops that pill is that the new drug has an unwelcome side effect: it turns on his emotions.


Lost Solace is writer/director Chris Scheuerman's latest feature and with it, he explores the emotional dark side of humanity through the eyes of a man feeling for the first time. The movie largely unfolds as Spence meets and gets to know his next mark Azaria, a student with a rich father. The pair originally bond over classic cars before quickly falling into a relationship routine and soon enough, Spence [Continued ...]

Instructables: exploring - featured: Blueberry Pie

I made this blueberry pie for our Thanksgiving, and it was a big hit, every one loved it. Supples You are going to need .................. Pie pan-- 9-inchMixing bowlStiring spoonForkPastry blenderTablespoon Rolling pinFilling ( any kind of filling would work) Mixing together Pie crust 1 1/...
By: Rebjp

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search.cpan.org: Params-ValidationCompiler-0.20

Build an optimized subroutine parameter validator once, use it forever

ScreenAnarchy: Blu-ray Review: DREAMSCAPE Rocks

In 1984, a weird film called Dreamscape hit theaters. Starring Dennis Quaid as Alex Gardner and Kate Capshaw as Jane DeVries, this film is about a man with extraordinary powers of the mind. He's reluctantly brought in to assist on a secret university and government project --- his task is to enter the dreams of others in REM sleep. This is akin to lucid dreaming, but with an astral projection twist. The problem is, Alex uncovers a shady conspiracy to assasinate the president and must fight back against the men in black --- or die trying. Upon its release, Dreamscape was a sleeper. It's found a cult following now that it's been out on "home video" forever, and Scream Factory has given this film the royal treatment. Dreamscape was...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

ScreenAnarchy: Sundance 2017 Drops Final Feature Wave

One of the most prestigious festivals in the world -- Sundance -- dropped its final wave of feature programming for its 2017 edition today. Last week, we covered the NEXT and competition titles. There are a ridiculous amount of films announced, and instead of just copying and pasting everything, I'm going to focus on a few categories. To see the list of features that have been announced, simply check out Sundance's site here.  I'm particularly interested in the midnight, spotlight, and world premiere categories -- and even more so, XX and Bushwick from XYZ Films. (Disclosure: Todd Brown is a partner in XYZ, and he has not paid me to say this.) XX is the very first all-woman-directed horror anthology and features segments from Jovanka Vuckovic, Karyn Kusama, Roxanne...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

Instructables: exploring - featured: Arduino - Obstacle Avoiding Robot 4WD

Arduino Tutorial Obstacle Avoiding Robot 4WD - For beginnersIn this tutorial, you will make obstacle avoiding robot. Video Tutorial This tutorial involves building a 4WD robot with an ultrasonic sensor that can detect nearby objects and change its direction to avoid these objects. The ultrasonic ...
By: MertArduino

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MetaFilter: The Real U.S. Embassy in Accra is White, not Pink

Mobsters ran a fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana for 10 years, flying the flag and issuing visas for $6,000

Foreign, Ghana security authorities shut down fake US Embassy in Accra

This fake US Embassy that operated for 10 years, which category of travellers was it serving? Could they have issued visas to human traffickers? Because $6000 is a colossal amount that very few ordinary travellers can afford. It would therefore, not be out of place to assume that most of the clients of this criminal gang were human traffickers. The crime of human trafficking is a lucrative illegal business generating an amount of $150 billion every year for traffickers. Heads to roll at Ghana US Mission following fake Embassy scandal

Recent additions: gi-webkit 3.0.9

Added by inaki, Mon Dec 5 21:11:56 UTC 2016.

WebKit bindings

Recent additions: gi-webkit2webextension 4.0.9

Added by inaki, Mon Dec 5 21:11:55 UTC 2016.

WebKit2-WebExtension bindings

Recent additions: gi-webkit2 4.0.9

Added by inaki, Mon Dec 5 21:11:53 UTC 2016.

WebKit2 bindings

ScreenAnarchy: Sense8, Season 2 and Special Episode dates announced!

Dates for new episodes of NETFLIX’s original series “Sense8” directed by The Wachowskis has been announced. The second season of the science-fiction thriller series will be available to stream on NETFLIX on May 5, 2017.  Season 2 will be 10 episodes. Before season 2; there will be a christmas special episode of two-hour. “Sense8: A Christmas Special” will be available on December 23, 2016. Here is the synopsis of the special episode: “Picking up where season one left off, Capheus (Toby Onwumere), Kala (Tina Desai), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), Nomi (Jamie Clayton), Riley (Tuppence Middleton) , Sun (Doona Bae), Will (Brian J. Wright) and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) come together both physically and mentally, plunged into the middle of each other’s tragedies and triumphs. On the...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

Hackaday: Hacking a Device That Lives Inside the Matrix

[Gerardo Iglesias Galván] decided he wanted to try his hand at bug-bounty hunting — where companies offer to pay hackers for finding vulnerabilities. Usually, this involves getting a device or accessing a device on the network, attacking it as a black box, and finding a way in. [Gerrado] realized that some vendors now supply virtual images of their appliances for testing, so instead of attacking a device on the network, he put the software in a virtual machine and attempted to gain access to the device. Understanding the steps he took can help you shore up your defenses against criminals, who might be after more than just a manufacturer’s debugging bounty.

The device he attacked tried to secure itself. The bootloader was protected. The filesystems were encrypted. Did he get in? Read the story for yourself and find out.

As more projects connect to the Internet, there’s more opportunity for bad mischief. It wasn’t from hacking, but look how much trouble shutting down everyone’s Nest thermostats caused, not to mention the major internet outage caused by hacked cameras. We’ve talked about hardening Raspberry Pi projects before using things like two-factor authentication. Might not be enough, but its a start.


Filed under: computer hacks, software hacks

ScreenAnarchy: Guillermo del Toro and Mads Mikkelsen Star in DEATH STRANDING Trailer

Over the weekend, the new Lovecraftian trailer for Death Stranding from Kojima Hideo (Metal Gear Solid) and his  new studio Kojima Productions dropped. Normally, I don't cover games, but this trailer is so jaw dropping, so realistic, cinematic, and filled with macabre details, that I just can't resist. (The first game trailer starring Norman Reedus dropped in June.)  The trailer -- which is more of a clip -- also stars Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Rogue One, Doctor Strange) and legendary director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Cronos, Crimson Peak). Gamers and del Toro fans may remember that Kojima and del Toro once teamed up on the sadly cancelled PT, a Silent Hills game that had huge difficulties coming to fruition with Konami. Here in Death Stranding, the two have...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

CreativeApplications.Net: Vector Festival 2017 – Call for Submissions

vector-performancesInterAccess’ Vector Festival returns with its fifth edition next summer and its curators have issued their annual call for work in and around the edges of videogame culture.

Open Culture: The Genius of Paul McCartney’s Bass Playing in 7 Isolated Tracks

In many a musical situation, one can communicate an entire playing style in a name. When it comes to the bass—in pop music, at least—one of the foremost of those names is Paul McCartney, whose soulful basslines have given us some of the most memorable melodies in music history.

McCartney started out—in the Quarrymen, then The Beatles—on rhythm guitar and piano, only taking over the bass when Stuart Sutcliffe left the band in 1961. And while it’s true that he’s distinguished himself in album after album over the past few decades on every instrument in the rock and roll arsenal, as a stylist, Sir Paul has always best used the bass to express his instrumental genius.


He became a bassist “somewhat reluctantly,” Joe Bosso of Music Radar notes, but soon “proved to be a natural on the instrument… The very image of McCartney with the violin-shaped Hofner 500/1 bass is one that will forever be burned into the minds of music lovers everywhere.”

The hollow-bodied Hofner’s resonant, woody sound is as recognizable as its look. But in recordings, McCartney also played a Rickenbacker and Fender Jazz bass. (Speculation about which bass he used on which song spans decades.) Even so, his tone is ever distinctive. Take Abbey Road’s sinister, seductive “Come Together,” a song with one of the most memorable basslines in history. At the top of the post, you can hear the solo track.

On its own, it carries all the energy of the song, as does the isolated bass track from “Dear Prudence,” just above. McCartney begins with one resolutely plucked note that rings out for several bars, then launches into the song’s familiar walkdown. In his baseline, we can hear both the song’s trance-like melodies and harmonies, the bouncy rise and fall of its playful appeal. Here, the rhythmic texture of McCartney’s playing modulates from a plucky thump to a muted click.

“Speaking of mobile basslines,” writes Zach Blumenfeld at Consequence of Sound, “McCartney’s contributions to ‘Something’ are the most underrated aspect of the song. The bass “sets up a counter-melody” to the vocals and strings, “more like a lower vocal harmony than a bass. It’s also one of McCartney’s busiest bass lines, showcasing his dexterity on the instrument.”

Many of McCartney’s basslines work this way, creating counter-melodies and acting like another voice in the song. But while he can be a busy player, he just as often opts for simplicity and generally avoids what he calls “fiddly bits” in a recent video lesson. But his restraint is all the more striking when he does rock out, as above in “Hey Bulldog,” a song that poses a challenge to seasoned bass players. Even such a monster player as Geddy Lee credits McCartney as a seminal influence for his inventiveness and melodies. (As Susanna Hoffs says, “melodies just tumble out of him.”)

McCartney’s bass playing reached its apogee in the band’s best-known final albums, in songs like “Come Together” and “I Want You,” above, where the bass growls, moans, and throbs. But even in earlier hits like “Paperback Writer,” below, McCartney’s playing showcased explosive riffs, confident attack, and pregnant pauses and subtleties.

McCartney’s legendary melodicism on the bass, and his signature exploration of its upper ranges, is perhaps nowhere more evident than on “Rain,” the B-side to “Paperback Writer” and, in general a highly underrated Beatles tune. While we don’t have the solo bass track from that recording, we do have the pleasure of seeing musician Wes Mitchell demonstrate the bassline in the video below, playing along to a bootleg version of the track without bass or lead vocal overdubs.

Mitchell nails McCartney’s tone and style. See him do so again here with the Abbey Road medley “Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” a veritable buffet of McCartney styles, techniques, and moods.

Related Content:

Paul McCartney Offers a Short Tutorial on How to Play the Bass Guitar

John Lennon’s Raw, Soul-Baring Vocals From the Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ (1969)

Musician Plays Signature Drum Parts of 71 Beatles Songs in 5 Minutes: A Whirlwind Tribute to Ringo Starr

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Genius of Paul McCartney’s Bass Playing in 7 Isolated Tracks is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

ScreenAnarchy: Destroy All Monsters: We're Bad At Confronting News Like The Bertolucci News

On the weekend one of my listeners jumped on the comment thread for my latest podcast episode to voice his disgust at the news that Bernardo Bertolucci had conspired with Marlon Brando to rape Maria Schneider for a scene in Last Tango in Paris. He went on to say that at least Hollywood and the European filmmaking community have progressed away from those sorts of practices in the last forty years. (As many have noted, this admission by Bertolucci is only "news" if you discount Maria Schneider's own characterization of the event. Additionally, Bertolucci has subsequently clarified his comments, proposing that it was the use of butter in the sequence, not the rape itself, that was not cleared with Schneider prior to filming.) I do...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

Quiet Earth: WFF 2016: BEFORE THE STREETS Review

Shawnouk is a young man living with his family in an Atikamekw community in southwestern Quebec. He's not a bad kid, spending long parts of his day hanging out with his sister and her baby and with friends, but he's also bored and when he gets an offer for adventure and the opportunity to make some quick cash, he finds himself drawn into criminality.


Though Beyond the Streets is a great exploration of one man's redemption, Chloé Leriche's directorial debut is also a fascinating look at the Atikamekw people and a celebration of tradition.


Shot on location with non-professional actors and mostly in the native language of atikamekw, Leriche's movie is as much a lesson in history and sociology as it is a dramatic film but it works as a document of a people and culture b [Continued ...]

Hackaday: Insanely Hot Oven Makes Pizza in 45 Seconds: Avidan Ross on Food Hacking

In the future, nobody will have to cook for themselves: the robots will take care of it all for us. And fast! At least if folks like [Avidan Ross] have their way. He gave a talk on his 45-second pizza robot, and other DIY food automations, at the 2016 Hackaday SuperConference, and you’re invited to pretend that you were there by watching this video.

Why would you want to build machines to build food? It’s a serious challenge, and there’s always going to be room to improve and new frontiers to cross. There’s immediate feedback: [Avidan] gets to taste and tweak in a quick feedback cycle. And finally, everybody eats, so it’s not hard to find “test subjects” for his work.

Super Hot, Super Fast Pizza

OK, so now you’re onboard with why you’d want to work on food, why would you want to cook your pizza so fast? The answer is the crust. When the oven is hot enough to vaporize water and cook the dough firm in nearly the same instant, it leaves big fluffy air pockets that make a phenomenal crust. Neapolitan pizza authorities require a pizza to be cooked in 90 seconds. [Avidan] was sure that hotter and faster would be better, so he aimed for a 45-second pizza.

The talk gets into the specifics of building a rocket stove, and a Pompeii oven on top of that. And while he got an oven that would reach 1000 degrees F, and cook a pizza in 60 seconds, that was only excessively fast and not ridiculously fast. So he added forced air and some smarts. Or rather, after firing it up for the first time, and losing some eyebrows to the ensuing 1500 degree F flamethrower, he throttled it down using an H-bridge and a microcontroller brain.

The oven is actually a hybrid: the floor of the oven is precisely controlled with Kanthal coil and a temperature probe for feedback, while the wood fire heats up the dome and adds smokey flavor. So when the pizzas were coming out a bit soft on the bottom, [Avidan] could crank up the floor temperature to compensate. In the end they got the temperatures so well controlled that they used a three-stage profile over the 45 seconds: super hot for the first ten seconds, medium hot in the middle, and then back to super hot for the last ten seconds to finish it off. Why? Because it tasted the best. It’s not science unless you can isolate the variables, folks.

Food Hacking

The second half of [Avidan]’s talk is more approachable for those of us who don’t have space for a 3000-lb, wood-devouring flamethrower in the back yard. It’s all about fun ways to introduce automation into your home kitchen. “Introduce” with a screwdriver, sensors, and a Raspberry Pi, that is.

If you want to get started making your own cooking automation, you want to approach it like an engineer. Knowing your food and the chemistry of your cooking techniques is obvious, but [Avidan]’s approach is to control and automate everything. So when he built a smoker, he controlled not just the temperature inside the smoker, but also the airflow going into the fire chamber, and even the humidity inside. Then he put sensors on everything and closed the loop. That way, he could create whatever temperature profile he wanted, and nail it.

And now, [Avidan] is working on coffee. There’s a scale on the floor of the espresso machine and a stepper motor on the grinder, controlling how finely the coffee is ground. So when he pulls a shot, the coffee machine knows how fast the espresso is coming out. Eventually, [Avidan] is going to close the loop, making the grinder run coarser when the espresso shot takes too long, and vice versa. With the right feedback, this should eventually make the perfect cup. (He doesn’t mention how he’s controlling the pressure with which the operator tamps down the grinds. Inquiring minds want to know!)

DIY

In the end, [Avidan]’s talk is really just about the joys of building your own. In his case, it’s his own food-making machines, but that’s just a detail really. He loves food, and we do too, but he could have just as easily have been talking about robot gardening or automated scarf weaving. The point is to pick something that you love and automate it to see if you can make it better. You’ll be more motivated along the way, and you’ll be that much more proud of the outcome. That’s great advice to the budding hardware hacker!


Filed under: cons, cooking hacks

BOOOOOOOM!: Otherworldly Light Installations by Photographer Nicolas Rivals

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Photographer Nicolas Rivals constructs a series of temporary light installations in various outdoor locations throughout Spain. Photographed at night, the long-exposure shots capture the tension between Rivals’ otherworldly constructions and the natural landscapes. See more images from “La Línea Roja” below.

All Content: Jackie

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There are two movies in "Jackie," Pablo Larraín's film about Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) immediately before, during and after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.  

Movie number one is a fictionalized biography in which a famous subject sits for a long interview, here with a magazine reporter played by Billy Crudup (unnamed but based on biographer Theodore H. White, who wrote “For President Kennedy: An Epilogue," a Life article that ran one week after President John F. Kennedy's assassination). This one is a movie where an important person contemplates his or her place in history and tries to control how they are perceived. It's fuzzy and overreaching and has been done better elsewhere. 

The individual scenes in this "historical figure contemplates self" film are competently done and sometimes a good deal more than that, thanks to undertones of empathy and condescension in the dialogue. The reporter is often condescending to the former First Lady. Sometimes he even interrupts her when she's speaking or tries to put words in her mouth or dismiss her concerns, which shows how not-powerful even a very powerful woman can be when she's in a room with a man who's been told since birth that his words and actions are inherently more important than any woman's. This material in this second film connects to moments in the inevitable flashbacks to Jackie's heyday in Camelot and right after John F. Kennedy's murder. We see Jackie, often the lone woman in a room full of men, trying to assert herself and say what she wants and needs, only to be told (by White House staffers, military people, even her RFK) that it's impossible—because of security or protocol or precedent or simply because the men just mysteriously know better than her—and she should give up.

But the framing device is not ultimately necessary (few are, alas) because, whether the reporter and Jackie are talking about what's on the record or off the record, and whether what Jackie is saying is objectively true or merely self-serving, we have already seen everything both of them might have had to say illustrated, in a more immediate and often wrenching way, by the flashbacks. 

The flashbacks constitute a second, far superior film, one that has the shock of revelation: we've seen this tight, crucial chapter of history re-enacted many times from all sorts of vantage points, but rarely in depth and mainly from the point-of-view of Jackie, who had to go through the gist of what everyone goes through when they lose a mate, only on the world's largest stage. 

But whenever Larraín and his cast and crew build up a head of dramatic steam in the "past" (which feels far more "present" than the interview stuff), and keep building it up until it starts to feel like the raw material for an unwritten opera or an unmade psychological horror movie, "Jackie" fecklessly yanks us out of that emotional head-space, and returns us to the reporter and Jackie hashing over what it means.  

The second movie in "Jackie" is new and often powerful, and it derives all of its newness and power from specifics. This "Jackie" is the story of a woman who suddenly, violently lost her husband, then had to figure out how to get through the next few days of her life without surrendering her sanity along with whatever power she once had. The mundane nature of this second movie is what makes it feel so eerily accurate. Details such as the specific bloodstains on Jackie's clothes and the bruise revealed on her shin as she takes her stockings off, the point-of-view shots of Jackie looking at all those men who have concluded they should decide her fate for her, the catch in Jackie's voice as she tries to tell her children that their father is dead without using the word "death," the way she goes into a depressive reverie and starts going through her clothes and trying on various dresses while listening to Jack's favorite album, the original cast recording of "Camelot": all of this feels achingly true. But Larraín pushes the "power" of it all too hard (often by ladling on Mica Levi's lyrical yet too often bombastic score). Even Portman's accent-driven performance, while ferociously committed, feels too much like a researched, considered, Marilyn Monroe-breathy impersonation, one that has been constructed from the outside in rather than incarnated from within. Rarely have I seen a more vivid example of artists getting in their own way and tripping themselves up. 

A big part of the problem (for me, anyway) is that Larraín seems to want to make a statement, perhaps one of the ultimate statements, on the transformation of lived experience into myth. This film really doesn't have the intellectual chops to pull it off, never mind the question of whether that sort of movie is inherently more important and serious and worthy of critical superlatives than the simpler, more emotionally driven one about a widow coming to terms with the loss of her husband and her responsibilities to her children (both the biological ones and the symbolic ones, i.e. the American people).

Jackie as fantasy object upon whom hundreds of millions of less famous women can project their fears, goals and desires; Jackie as wife and mother, trying to keep it together during the worst few days of her life; Jackie as faithful spouse wounded by her handsome husband's infidelity; even Jackie as First Lady of the United States, looking out over a horrifically altered global landscape and asking what's next: all these Jackies are present in the hours and days preceding and following the murder. These various self-states are embedded in the way Jackie moves through rooms while the camera follows her, the way she looks at objects and people, and the way she struggles to compose herself and articulate her needs without deferring to whatever man she happens to be speaking with.

Jackie has to stand for herself but also for Jackie the historical figure, the myth, the oversimplification, the blank slate, the retrograde but at the same time revolutionary aspirational figure, and so on. We never feel as powerfully connected to this Jackie as we do to the one who suddenly has to move out of the house she's been living in for less than three years because her husband's brains were blown out in a motorcade. Meanwhile, the other characters are allowed to stand for one or two things only, always in relation to Jackie, and as a result, the film's supporting performances (particularly by Peter Saarsgaard as Robert Kennedy, who doesn't look or sound much like him, and who cares) feel a lot more fully imagined and realized. Actors always fail when they are asked to incarnate ideas, while they tend to do quite well with specifics like, "You are playing Robert, the brother of the murdered man, and the only person who understands your sister-in-law's pain."

The great movie that is "Jackie" keeps fighting to free itself from the clammy clutches of the could-have-been-better, knows-what-best-for-us movie. After a while the struggle becomes indistinguishable from the struggle depicted in the movie itself.

"Jackie" the drama (at times melodrama) knows what it is and what it wants to say. It trusts the audience to figure it all out and speaks to us via intuition, often taking considerable risks and making itself quite vulnerable. It is what would have been dismissed in another era as a "woman's movie"—i.e. a movie about the emotional experience of a woman—only to be reclaimed much later by historians and critics who struggle to get others to see that this kind of film is just as valid and worthy of scrutiny as the sort of movie where famous people sit for interviews about their legacy and spar about truth and fiction, performance and authenticity. (The character of Jackie is already starting to shape her own myth in the flashback material anyway; it's all there if you feel like looking for it, and as is the case throughout "Jackie," it's done with a lot more imagination than anything in the interview segments.) Ironic that Jackie's story here is mainly one of a woman trying to imagine her own experience on her own terms, only to be told by various parties, mainly male, that she's wrong, or that it's not enough.


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Nearly 40% of Americans Would Give Up Sex for a Year in Exchange for Better Online Security Criminals can guess Visa card number and security code in just six seconds, experts find Paper money and coins as potential vectors of transmissible disease [PDF] The world’s magicians fought a hidden war over an ultra-secret website dedicated to stealing [...]

Open Culture: Tim Robbins’ Improv Classes Transform Prisoners’ Lives & Lower Recidivism Rates

If a 20-something, Yale-educated New Yorker reporter feels nervous stepping in to her first ever improv class, imagine the stakes for your average inmate, whose survival depends on a successfully monolithic projection of toughness and control.

Control is actually something the Actors’ Gang Prison Project seeks to cultivate in its incarcerated participants. The Actors’ Gang’s Artistic Director, Tim Robbins, who founded the radically experimental ensemble fresh out of college, notes a well-documented connection between an inability to control one’s emotions and criminal activity.

Unchecked rage may have put these players behind bars, but exploring a wide variety of emotions behind the safety of the Actors’ Gang’s mask-like white pancake make-up has proven liberating.

The dull prison routine leaves prisoners favorably inclined toward any diverting activity, particularly those that allow for creative expression. Shakespeare has made an impact on this population. Why not commedia dell’arte-influenced improv?

It’s a truly therapeutic fit, as Actors Gang ensemble member Sabra Williams, the founder of the Prison Project, explains in her TED Talk, below.

Participants are subjected and held to the rigorous physicality and emotional honesty at the core of this group’s aesthetic. Personal connection to the visitors is limited to whatever may transpire in-the-moment, but within the prison population, relationships blossom. Both guards and prisoners speak of newfound empathy.

The emotional insights arising from these spontaneous explorations teach participants how to diffuse aggressive situations, present a more positive face to the world, and interact generously with others. In between classes, participants write in journals, with a goal of sharing aloud.

Gang signs, mimed weapons, and bodily contact are out of bounds. Wild invention often carries the day.

Participants have zero recidivism, and a waiting list in the hundreds attests to the program’s popularity.

You can learn more about the Actors’ Gang ten-year-old Prison Project here.

Related Content:

B.B. King Plays Live at Sing Sing Prison in One of His Greatest Performances (1972)

Inmates in New York Prison Defeat Harvard’s Debate Team: A Look Inside the Bard Prison Initiative

What Prisoners Ate at Alcatraz in 1946: A Vintage Prison Menu

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Tim Robbins’ Improv Classes Transform Prisoners’ Lives & Lower Recidivism Rates is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Disquiet: Liner Notes for Rupert Lally’s Fictions

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Rupert Lally, the Britain-born, Swiss-based musician, asked me to write liner notes for his new album, Fictions, which arrives to mark his 40th birthday. There are 40 tracks on Fictions, one for each of the years he has spent on the planet. With his permission, I’m posting the full text of my liner notes here. The album is available at rupertlally.bandcamp.com. The download includes a beautiful PDF of these notes, and a detailed description by Lally himself about his process.

“Truth Amid the Fictions”

Orchestral grandeur, regal and ornate, follows terse click-track synth rhythms. Classical guitar, layered in a light blur of reverb, follows pert, spelunky chiptune pop. Upbeat minimalism, swept through with violins and a driving lead six-string, gives way, in an instant, to a dreamy, warpy spacetime: part disturbing alien landscape, part enchanting bedtime story.

These are just a few of the varied delights amid Rupert Lally’s expansive Fictions, more than three dozen tracks total, an album whose December release helps to bring the tumultuous 2016 to a close and, simultaneously, mark Lally’s 40 hyper-productive years on the planet. Happy birthday to him, happy listening to us.

There’s a track titled “August Fire” that begins with a slow-motion, broken-country vibe, all rattlesnake guitar, before descending into murky densities, the assuredness of that old-hand instrument finding an uneasy truce with impure, dark, forbidding sound design.

There’s another notable piece of close-listening material shortly thereafter in the album’s anthology-like unfolding. Titled “The Machine Breaks Down,” it provides a welcome industrial satisfaction. Its white-noise rhythm pounds away, in the distance, beneath skronky bleats that suggest an uploaded brain’s idea of an avant-noise saxophone. And yet for all the track’s admirable compactness, there’s still room for a gentle little melody that brings to mind ancient synth pop but never retreats into nostalgia.

We have access to objective timecodes, so why not employ them? Listen at around the 2:37 mark of the aptly titled “Cloudscapes” for some of the set’s most cinematic work. To call it textural is to miss the thin layers from which it’s composed. Then again, why restrict the term “cinematic” merely to music that can slip into the atmosphere. Every piece of music here seems to tell a story, perhaps some more intimate than others. “At His Bedside,” a dozen tracks earlier, plays a Satie-esque piano part atop digital strings. It’s heartbreaking, especially at 2:01 when its volume momentarily peaks, before quickly reverting to the solemn mean.

The variety on Fictions is as much a source of enjoyment as are the distinct elements of any of the individual compositions. These days the idea of a “multi-instrumentalist” — and thus of the alternate option of instrument-specific devotion that the term suggests — is somewhat antiquated, what with our age of tablet-based music-making, of laptop-powered home studios, not to mention virtual chamber-ensemble libraries and Internet archives filled to the FLAC rafters with open-source recordings. Clearly the guitar is Lally’s go-to, but the sheer range here is a testament to his desire to use the right tool toward the desired end. That isn’t just the instinct of a composer or a performer. It’s the instinct of a storyteller.

The lovely truth of Lally’s album is that the Fiction of the title is, in fact, an autobiography. There are 40 tracks here, one for each of his years thus far. These tracks may each suggest stories — of alien coyotes and subterranean adventures, of interstellar intrigue and post-singularity redemption. However, what the fictions belie is the simple fact of Lally’s singular talent and imagination. These are all him, every layer, every guitar, every synth, every texture, every beat.

Get the album at rupertlally.bandcamp.com. More from Lally at twitter.com/rupertlally

Colossal: A Surreal Three-Dimensional World Encased in Layers of Glass by Dustin Yellin

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Installation view, courtesy GRIMM Gallery.

Dustin Yellin‘s latest installation (previously here and here) is more of an encased world than environment—ten modular glass blocks that together measure 20 feet long. Densely layered, each glass brick contains thousands of images meticulously sourced from magazines and books, arranged to created Yellin’s own alternate National Geographic universe. The pieces, which differ in dimension at the ends of the work and are uniformly sized near the middle, all contribute to a larger, and perhaps forecasted, story of war and peril. Not a pleasant look at the future of humanity, Yellin outlines scenes of greed and global warming, literally showing the fall of humanity from the tip of a glass-encased mountain to the depths of a turbulent sea.

This installation, titled Ten Parts, is part of a solo exhibition of Yellin’s work by the same name at GRIMM Gallery in Amsterdam which opens this Friday, November 25, and runs through January 7, 2017.

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Installation view, courtesy GRIMM Gallery.

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Installation view, courtesy GRIMM Gallery.

Hackaday: Taking It To Another Level: Making 3.3V Speak with 5V

If your introduction to digital electronics came more years ago than you’d care to mention, the chances are you did so with 5V TTL logic. Above 2V but usually pretty close to 5V is a logic 1, below 0.8V is a logic 0. If you were a keen reader of electronic text books you might have read about different voltage levels tolerated by 4000 series CMOS gates, but the chances are even with them you’d have still used the familiar 5 volts.

This happy state of never encountering anything but 5V logic as a hobbyist has not persisted. In recent decades the demands of higher speed and lower power have given us successive families of lower voltage devices, and we will now commonly also encounter 3.3V or even sometimes lower voltage devices. When these different families need to coexist as for example when interfacing to the current crop of microcontroller boards, care has to be taken to avoid damage to your silicon. Some means of managing the transition between voltages is required, so we’re going to take a look at the world of level shifters, the circuits we use when interfacing these different voltage logic families.

Do You Even Need A Level Shifter?

It might seem odd to start a treatise on level shifting this way, but the first question for the designer when looking at making a 3.3V part talk to a 5V part should be this: Do I even need a level shifter?

If the 3.3V part is an output and the 5V one an input, the lower voltage part can hardly damage the higher voltage one with overvoltage. And you are not likely to encounter a logic input that might demand so much current that it would damage your output (If you do, use a buffer!). If you are lucky the logic voltage ranges of the two devices may even coincide. For example 3.3V TTL logic shares the 0.8V and 2V thresholds for logic 0 and logic 1 transitions with 5V TTL logic, so a 3.3V TTL output can drive a 5V TTL input without any extra hardware required.

In the other direction, driving a 3.3V input from a 5V output you might expect that a level shifting circuit would be required, and in many cases you would be right. But before reaching for that shifter it’s worth taking a look at the detailed specifications of your 3.3V input. Many devices are designed to be 5V tolerant, and you might be lucky enough to find that your circuit could use one and avoid the extra circuitry. For example the 74LVC series contains a range of 5V tolerant 3.3V versions of many 74-series ICs.

CMOS And TTL: A Level Shifting Cautionary Tale

Comparison of TTL and CMOS logic thresholds with comparison to 3.3V output. NXP application note 240.
Comparison of TTL and CMOS logic thresholds with comparison to 3.3V output. NXP application note 240 (PDF).

When directly driving logic you’d normally use at 5V from a 3.3V output there is one cautionary tale of which to take heed, a personal confession of an electronic failure. CMOS logic defines its logic thresholds as a percentage of supply voltage, which with a 5V supply puts the logic 1 threshold of 70% well above the 3.3V logic 1. Some CMOS ICs such as the 74HC4053 analogue switch I used in a Raspberry Pi project don’t quite follow this standard and will work from a 3.3V TTL output, so I was lulled into a false sense of security and reached for another 74HC part to connect to my Raspberry Pi with a new design. As you might expect it failed to work, and of course I wasted time looking everywhere else but my defective choice of part. If there is a moral to this story it is to always read the datasheet carefully, and use the TTL-compatible parts such as in this case 74HCT, when they are available.

If your 3.3V device inputs are not 5V tolerant and your 5V inputs lack 3.3V compatible thresholds then sadly you won’t be able to interface them across voltage levels without a shifter circuit. There are many choices available to you including a whole host of dedicated level shifter devices such as these ones from TI, but aside from personal preference some of them will be dictated by your application. Will it be a step-up, a step-down, or do you need a bi-directional level shifter? If you decide not to use a dedicated part or a 5V tolerant gate in your design, here are a few of the many alternatives.

Step-down level shifters

A simple resistive downshifter.
A simple resistive downshifter.

The simplest possible step-down circuit is a resistive divider. Drive your 5V output into a chain of resistors, from which you tap your 3.3V logic input. A chain consisting of a 2.2k and a 3.3k resistor should produce a 3V output from an applied 5V input. It does not preserve the fan-out characteristic of the 3.3V output and you need to be aware of any capacitances that may also reside in whatever logic is connected to it and the effect they may have along with the resistors on fast rise times, but it should suffice for most simple level downshifting tasks facing a hobbyist. There are variations on this circuit that use diodes instead of a resistor to achieve the required voltage drop.

If the divider is not suitable for your application and you still eschew a dedicated shifter, take a look further down the page at bidirectional shifters.

Step-up level shifters

A diode logic level step-up circuit. From Microchip app note DS41285A.
A diode logic level step-up circuit. From Microchip app note DS41285A (PDF).

For stepping up from 3.3V logic to 5V logic and assuming you are not safely within the TTL thresholds as described above such that you can do without a shifter, you will require something a little more complex than the resistive divider in the previous section. The simplest circuit uses a pair of diodes with careful biasing and choice of series resistor as shown in the diagram to the right. The application note it comes from advises that the resistor should be significantly less than the input impedance of the 5V gate, to avoid its being part of a resistive divider with that impedance having an effect on the output voltage.

An inverting MOSFET logic level step-up circuit. Yet again, from Microchip app note DS41285A.
An inverting MOSFET logic level step-up circuit. Yet again, from Microchip app note DS41285A.

A rather more obvious circuit uses a MOSFET or bipolar transistor as a switch, driving the gate or base with the 3.3V logic and taking the 5V logic output from the drain or collector. This is very similar to using a gate with an open-collector output in the same application. This is a simple and reliable circuit, but it must be borne in mind that it inverts the 3.3V logic level.

Bi-directional level shifters

The bidirectional MOSFET level shifter.
The bidirectional MOSFET level shifter.

The circuits in the previous two sections are both only suitable for unidirectional logic lines, but not in the case of a bidirectional bus. As before there are plenty of off-the-shelf bus level shifters from a range of semiconductor manufacturers to choose from, but if these are not suitable for your design then a handy alternative can be made with a MOSFET and a couple of resistors. It’s also worth pointing out that this doesn’t have to be used on a bidirectional bus, it can serve as a general purpose level shifter for the cost of a 2N7000 or similar, indeed this is a personal favourite for this application. You can readily buy this circuit on a breakout board from several electronics suppliers if building it yourself doesn’t appeal. For more information on its operation take a read of the Philips application note AN97055 (PDF), which examines its use on an I2C bus.

It can be a worry, when you first have to ensure that different logic levels are safely interfaced. Will my 5V Arduino harm this 3.3V sensor? We hope that after reading this piece you’ll have some more confidence, and we’ve equipped you with enough to make some sense of the topic. We’ve not covered every possible technique, but if you read some of the attached application notes and then search the web for real-world usage they should fill in any gaps.


Filed under: Engineering, parts

Planet Haskell: Gabriel Gonzalez: Dhall - A non-Turing-complete configuration language

<meta charset="UTF-8"/>

I'm releasing a new configuration language named Dhall with Haskell bindings. Even if you don't use Haskell you might still find this language interesting.

This language started out as an experiment to answer common objections to programmable configuration files. Almost all of these objections are, at their root, criticisms of Turing-completeness.

For example, people commonly object that configuration files should be easy to read, but they descend into unreadable spaghetti if you make them programmable. However, Dhall doesn't have this problem because Dhall is a strongly normalizing language, which means that we can reduce every expression to a standard normal form in a finite amount of time by just evaluating everything.

For example, consider this deliberately obfuscated configuration file:

$ cat config
let zombieNames =
[ "Rachel", "Gary", "Liz" ] : List Text

in let isAZombie =
\(name : Text) -> { name = name, occupation = "Zombie" }

in let map =
https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmcTbCdS21pCxXysTzEiucDuwwLWbLUWNSKwkJVfwpy2zK/Prelude/List/map

in let tag =
map Text { name : Text, occupation : Text }

in let zombies =
tag isAZombie zombieNames

in let policeNames =
[ "Leon", "Claire" ] : List Text

in let worksForPolice =
\(name : Text) -> { name = name, occupation = "Police officer" }

in let policeOfficers =
tag worksForPolice policeNames

in let concat =
https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmcTbCdS21pCxXysTzEiucDuwwLWbLUWNSKwkJVfwpy2zK/Prelude/List/concat

in let characters =
concat
{ name : Text, occupation : Text }
( [ zombies
, policeOfficers
] : List (List { name : Text, occupation : Text })
)

in { protagonist =
List/head { name : Text, occupation : Text } policeOfficers
, numberOfCharacters =
List/length { name : Text, occupation : Text } characters
}

We can use the dhall compiler to cut through the indirection and reduce the above configuration file to the following fully evaluated normal form:

$ stack install dhall
$ dhall < config
{ numberOfCharacters : Natural, protagonist : Optional { name : Text, occupation : Text } }

{ numberOfCharacters = +5, protagonist = [{ name = "Leon", occupation = "Police officer" }] : Optional { name : Text, occupation : Text } }

The first line is the inferred type of the file, which we can format as:

{ numberOfCharacters : Natural
, protagonist : Optional { name : Text, occupation : Text }
}

This says that our configuration file is a record with two fields:

  • a field named numberOfCharacters that stores a Natural number (i.e. a non-negative number)
  • a field named protagonist that stores an Optional record with a name and occupation

From this type alone, we know that no matter how complex our configuration file gets the program will always evaluate to a simple record. This type places an upper bound on the complexity of the program's normal form.

The second line is the actual normal form of our configuration file:

{ numberOfCharacters =
+5
, protagonist =
[ { name = "Leon", occupation = "Police officer" }
] : Optional { name : Text, occupation : Text }
}

In other words, our compiler cut through all the noise and gave us an abstraction-free representation of our configuration.

Total programming

You can also evaluate configuration files written in other languages, too, but Dhall differentiates itself from other languages by offering several stronger guarantees about evaluation:

  • Dhall is not Turing complete, so evaluation always halts

    You can never write a configuration file that accidentally hangs or loops indefinitely when evaluated

    Note that you can still write a configuration file that takes longer than the age of the universe to compute, but you are much less likely to do so by accident

  • Dhall is safe, meaning that functions must be defined for all inputs and can never crash, panic, or throw exceptions

  • Dhall is sandboxed, meaning that the only permitted side effect is retrieving other Dhall expressions by their filesystem path or URL

    There are examples of this in the above program where Dhall retrieves two functions from the Prelude by their URL

  • Dhall's type system has no escape hatches

    This means that we can make hard guarantees about an expression purely from the expression's type

  • Dhall can normalize functions

    For example, Dhall's Prelude provides a replicate function which builds a list by creating N copies of an element. Check out how we can normalize this replicate function before the function is even saturated:

    $ dhall
    let replicate = https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmcTbCdS21pCxXysTzEiucDuwwLWbLUWNSKwkJVfwpy2zK/Prelude/List/replicate
    in replicate +10
    <Ctrl-D>
    ∀(a : Type) → ∀(x : a) → List a

    λ(a : Type) → λ(x : a) → [x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x] : List a

    The compiler knows that no matter what element we provide for the final argument to replicate the result must be 10 copies of that element in a list

Types

Dhall is also a typed language, so every configuration file can be checked ahead of time against an expected schema. The schema can even live in a separate file, like this:

$ cat schema
{ numberOfCharacters : Natural
, protagonist : Optional { name : Text, occupation : Text }
}

... and then checking our configuration against a schema is as simple as giving the configuration file a type annotation:

$ dhall
./config : ./schema
<Ctrl-D>
{ numberOfCharacters : Natural, protagonist : Optional { name : Text, occupation : Text } }

{ numberOfCharacters = +5, protagonist = [{ name = "Leon", occupation = "Police officer" }] : Optional { name : Text, occupation : Text } }

If the compiler doesn't complain then that means that the configuration file type checks against our schema.

Haskell bindings

Dhall configuration files can be marshalled into Haskell data types. For example, the following Haskell program:

{-# LANGUAGE DeriveAnyClass    #-}
{-# LANGUAGE DeriveGeneric #-}
{-# LANGUAGE OverloadedStrings #-}

import Dhall

data Summary = Summary
{ numberOfCharacters :: Natural
, protagonist :: Maybe Person
} deriving (Generic, Interpret, Show)

data Person = Person
{ name :: Text
, occupation :: Text
} deriving (Generic, Interpret, Show)

main :: IO ()
main = do
x <- input auto "./config"
print (x :: Summary)

... will marshal our config file into Haskell and print the corresponding Haskell representation of our configuration file:

$ stack runghc example.hs
Summary {numberOfCharacters = 5, protagonist = Just (Person {name = "Leon", occupation = "Police officer"})}

The Haskell program automatically checks that the configuration file's schema automatically matches the data structures that we marshal into. The entire pipeline is type safe from end to end.

Imports

Dhall expressions can reference other expression, either by their filesystem paths or URLs. Anything can be imported, such as fields of records:

$ cat record
{ foo = 1.0
, bar = ./bar
}

$ cat bar
[1, 2, 3] : List Integer

$ dhall < record
{ bar = [1, 2, 3] : List Integer, foo = 1.0 }

... or types:

$ cat function
\(f : ./type ) -> f False

$ cat type
Bool -> Integer

$ dhall < function
∀(f : Bool → Integer) → Integer

λ(f : Bool → Integer) → f False

... or functions:

$ cat switch
\(b : Bool) -> if b then 2 else 3

$ dhall <<< "./function ./switch"
Integer

3

You can also import URLs, too. The Dhall Prelude is hosted using IPFS (a distributed and immutable filesystem), and you can browse the Prelude here:

https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmcTbCdS21pCxXysTzEiucDuwwLWbLUWNSKwkJVfwpy2zK/Prelude/

Anything from the Prelude can be used by just pasting the URL into your program:

$ dhall
https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmcTbCdS21pCxXysTzEiucDuwwLWbLUWNSKwkJVfwpy2zK/Prelude/Natural/sum
([+2, +3, +5] : List Natural)
<Ctrl-D>
Natural

+10

... although usually you want to assign the URL to a shorter name for readability:

let sum = https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmcTbCdS21pCxXysTzEiucDuwwLWbLUWNSKwkJVfwpy2zK/Prelude/Natural/sum 
in sum ([+2, +3, +5] : List Natural)

You're not limited to IPFS for hosting Dhall expressions. Any pastebin, web server, or Github repository that can serve raw UTF8 text can host a Dhall expression for others to use.

Error messages

Dhall outputs helpful error messages when things go wrong. For example, suppose that we change our type file to something that's not a type:

$ echo "1" > type
$ dhall <<< "./function ./switch"
Use "dhall --explain" for detailed errors

↳ ./function

f : 1

Error: Not a function

f False

function:1:19

By default Dhall gives a concise summary of what broke. The error message begins with a trail of breadcrumbs pointing to which file in your import graph is broken:

↳ ./function 

In this case, the error is located in the ./function file that we imported.

Then the next part of the error message is a context that prints the types of all values that are in scope:

f : 1

... which says that only value named f is in scope and f has type 1 (Uh oh!)

The next part is a brief summary of what went wrong:

Error: Not a function

... which says that we are using something that's not a function

The compiler then prints the code fragment so we can see at a glance what is wrong with our code before we even open the file:

f False

The above fragment is wrong because f is not a function, but we tried to apply f to an argument.

Finally, the compiler prints out the file, column, and line number so that we can jump to the broken code fragment and fix the problem:

function:1:19

This says that the problem is located in the file named function at row 1 and column 19.

Detailed error messages

But wait, there's more! You might have noticed this line at the beginning of the error message:

Use "dhall --explain" for detailed errors

Let's add the --explain flag to see what happens:

$ dhall --explain <<< "./function ./switch"

↳ ./function

f : 1

Error: Not a function

Explanation: Expressions separated by whitespace denote function application,
like this:


┌─────┐
│ f x │ This denotes the function ❰f❱ applied to an argument named ❰x❱
└─────┘


A function is a term that has type ❰a → b❱ for some ❰a❱ or ❰b❱. For example,
the following expressions are all functions because they have a function type:


The function's input type is ❰Bool❱

┌───────────────────────────────┐
│ λ(x : Bool) → x : Bool → Bool │ User-defined anonymous function
└───────────────────────────────┘

The function's output type is ❰Bool❱


The function's input type is ❰Natural❱

┌───────────────────────────────┐
│ Natural/even : Natural → Bool │ Built-in function
└───────────────────────────────┘

The function's output type is ❰Bool❱


The function's input kind is ❰Type❱

┌───────────────────────────────┐
│ λ(a : Type) → a : Type → Type │ Type-level functions are still functions
└───────────────────────────────┘

The function's output kind is ❰Type❱


The function's input kind is ❰Type❱

┌────────────────────┐
│ List : Type → Type │ Built-in type-level function
└────────────────────┘

The function's output kind is ❰Type❱


Function's input has kind ❰Type❱

┌─────────────────────────────────────────────────┐
│ List/head : ∀(a : Type) → (List a → Optional a) │ A function can return
└─────────────────────────────────────────────────┘ another function

Function's output has type ❰List a → Optional a❱


The function's input type is ❰List Text❱

┌────────────────────────────────────────────┐
│ List/head Text : List Text → Optional Text │ A function applied to an
└────────────────────────────────────────────┘ argument can be a function

The function's output type is ❰Optional Text❱


An expression is not a function if the expression's type is not of the form
❰a → b❱. For example, these are not functions:


┌─────────────┐
│ 1 : Integer │ ❰1❱ is not a function because ❰Integer❱ is not the type of
└─────────────┘ a function


┌────────────────────────┐
│ Natural/even +2 : Bool │ ❰Natural/even +2❱ is not a function because
└────────────────────────┘ ❰Bool❱ is not the type of a function


┌──────────────────┐
│ List Text : Type │ ❰List Text❱ is not a function because ❰Type❱ is not
└──────────────────┘ the type of a function


You tried to use the following expression as a function:

↳ f

... but this expression's type is:

↳ 1

... which is not a function type

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

f False

function:1:19

We get a brief language tutorial explaining the error message in excruciating detail. These mini-tutorials target beginners who are still learning the language and want to better understand what error messages mean.

Every type error has a detailed explanation like this and these error messages add up to ~2000 lines of text, which is ~25% of the compiler's code base.

Tutorial

The compiler also comes with an extended tutorial, which you can find here:

This tutorial is also ~2000 lines long or ~25% of the code base. That means that half the project is just the tutorial and error messages and that's not even including comments.

Design goals

Programming languages are all about design tradeoffs and the Dhall language uses the following guiding principles (in order of descending priority) that help navigate those tradeoffs:

  • Polish

    The language should delight users. Error messages should be fantastic, execution should be snappy, documentation should be excellent, and everything should "just work".

  • Simplicity

    When in doubt, cut it out. Every configuration language needs bindings to multiple programming languages, and the more complex the configuration language the more difficult to create new bindings. Let the host language that you bind to compensate for any missing features from Dhall.

  • Beginner-friendliness

    Dhall needs to be a language that anybody can learn in a day and debug with little to no assistance from others. Otherwise people can't recommend Dhall to their team with confidence.

  • Robustness

    A configuration language needs to be rock solid. The last thing a person wants to debug is their configuration file. The language should never hang or crash. Ever.

  • Consistency

    There should only be one way to do something. Users should be able to instantly discern whether or not something is possible within the Dhall language or not.

The dhall configuration language is also designed to negate many of the common objections to programmable configuration files, such as:

"Config files shouldn't be Turing complete"

Dhall is not Turing-complete. Evaluation always terminates, no exceptions

"Configuration languages become unreadable due to abstraction and indirection"

Every Dhall configuration file can be reduced to a normal form which eliminates all abstraction and indirection

"Users will go crazy with syntax and user-defined constructs"

Dhall is a very minimal programming language. For example: you cannot even compare strings for equality (yes, really). The language also forbids many other common operations in order to force users to keep things simple.

Conclusion

You should read the tutorial if you would like to learn more about the language or use Dhall to configure your own projects:

You can also contribute, file issues, or ask questions by visiting the project repository on Github:

And the Haskell library is hosted on Hackage here:

If you would like to contribute, you can try porting Dhall to bind to languages other than Haskell, so that Dhall configuration files can be used across multiple languages. I keep the compiler simple (less than ~4000 lines of code if you don't count error messages) so that people can port the language more easily.

Also, for people who are wondering, the language is named after a Dustman from the game Planescape: Torment who belongs to a faction obsessed with death (termination).

All Content: Making Something Out Of Nothing: Will Speck and Josh Gordon on “Office Christmas Party”

Thumb_josh-gordon-will-speck

Will Speck and Josh Gordon’s “Office Christmas Party” is the cinematic equivalent of a holiday bonus for everyone involved. It features an ensemble packed with performers who have had a great year, such as Jason Bateman (“Zootopia”) and T.J. Miller (“Deadpool”), as well as Courtney B. Vance (“The People v. O.J. Simpson”) and Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live” and the best part of “Ghostbusters”), both fresh off their Emmy wins. Miller plays the manager of a company’s Chicago-based branch that is in danger of being shut down by its CEO (Jennifer Aniston). In a desperate act to impress a potential client (Vance), the co-workers turn their annual Christmas party into a lavish free-for-all that threatens to spiral out of control. There are several good laughs peppered amidst the silliness, and Chicagoans will especially appreciate (or perhaps, wince at) the moment when Miller spots a burning car and exclaims, “Did the Bears just win?”

Speck and Gordon spoke with RogerEbert.com about their approach to comedy, their love of the Windy City, and their film’s subtle nod to “The Apartment.”

I’m always fascinated by people who have an innate understanding of what is funny. Jon Heder’s wing-flapping choreography in your 2007 film, “Blades of Glory,” makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Will Speck (WS): Josh and I felt like the skating sequences in that movie were really the icing on a dense cake. Once we cast Will and Jon, we looked at their strengths as people and as actors, and figured out how we could start to choreograph a routine that took advantage of them. Jon is such a good dancer. We saw “Napoleon Dynamite” before we had cast him, and we were amazed by how funny he was with his body during the climactic dance scene. There’s also something very graceful about him, and that’s how we came up with the idea to make him a bird, which we ripped off from Johnny Weir’s swan outfit at the Olympics. That provided our choreographer, Sarah Kawahara, with a jumping off point and together we brainstormed about what a beautiful peacock dance would look like. Jon just took the idea and ran with it. In contrast, we knew that Will was going to be full of sexuality, and sort of a brute force while still being very clumsy and charming, which is what Will Ferrell is. That’s an example of how we approach finding what is funny. We identify something in an actor that they do really well, and we try to figure out how we can subvert it.

Josh Gordon (JG): This sounds pretentious, but I think it’s an ephemeral thing—it’s a vibration. When people are performing in a musical, everybody is intuitively drawn to the right pitch. You don’t want to be too broad that people can’t relate to it, so it has to have some grounding in the real world. We always talk about “Blades” as basically being a documentary about the ice skating industry.  

Your first directorial efforts were the short films “Angry Boy” and “Culture” [co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman], which both won prizes at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1997.

JG: Will and I met each other at NYU Film School. When we first came out to LA, we had day jobs. I worked on a TV show, Will worked for a producer, and every night we would come back and write our scripts. The only things that we knew how to make were short films, because that’s what we made at school. Our first short was “Angry Boy,” which was produced through the Fox Movie Channel. We made that film with some friends, and it was a very short piece. “Culture” was a much more ambitious film, and went on to get nominated for an Oscar. That film felt like a feature that just happened to run for 30 minutes and we poured every last dollar we had into making it. Both shorts were comedic, and they were the first times we expressed our sensibility on film.

What drew you back to Chicago for “Office Christmas Party”?

WS: This isn’t lip service—it was very important for us to set the movie in Chicago. We don’t want to say the cliché of, “it’s a character in the movie,” but— 

JG: But it’s a character in the movie. [laughs]

WS: We didn’t want to choose a coastal location like New York or LA. The setting had to reflect the characters. These were people who pulled themselves up from the bootstraps and were determined to make something out of nothing. I grew up in Ohio, and I felt that there was a midwestern element to the spirit of these characters. Josh and I connected over all of John Hughes’ movies as well as John Landis’ early movies. We very much had in mind the sequences set downtown in “The Blues Brothers” where cop cars are all over the plaza and people are running and burning through the bridges of Chicago. 

JG: During the wintertime in cold cities, you sometimes need a party to break through the melancholy.

You need a dose of anarchy to build up the body heat.

WS: [laughs] Exactly! When you’re putting together a movie, you always struggle with the budget. One thing we were struggling with was how much snow to add in visual effects. Like a lot of the country, it had been a pretty dry winter here in terms of snow. The studio had told us that we could add visual effects to the last act of the film, because it involved a big snowstorm that was a crucial story point, since it’s the reason Jennifer Aniston can’t get out of the airport. We were bummed because we had wanted snow throughout the whole movie, but the studio couldn’t afford it. And then, the very first day we began shooting in Chicago—

JG: It dumped snow. We were so excited. 

WS: On the second day, we shot interiors in Chicago, and it didn’t snow. Then on the third day, we shot on the Clark Street Bridge, and it snowed again. It was one of the biggest drops of snow the city has had apparently, according to our crew. 

JG: We felt like the city really wanted us. 

I was reminded of “Blues Brothers” when Bateman and Miller are debating how fast a car would have to move to sail over an open bridge. 

WS: That was an entirely conscious reference on our part. We wanted the tone of the film to be halfway between the anarchy of “Blues Brothers” and the sentimentality of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” That was what drew us to Chicago. It’s a very Christmasy city.

JG: It’s also an amazing city to see visually on film. You come here and you’re like, “Oh that’s why ‘The Dark Knight’ looks so good.” It just has a grand scale to it. No place, not even New York, looks this good from street level. People had money a hundred years ago and they built this city right. 

Going back to the idea of subverting actors’ strengths, I thought it was interesting to cast someone as infectiously exuberant as Kate McKinnon in the role of a prudish HR Director. 

WS: We wanted to use this Christmas party as an occasion for all of the characters to make little shifts. Every party has a parent and in this case, our parent was our HR Director. We live in cautious times where HR has a very inflated sense of authority over companies. Of course, we wanted to make sure that we had someone who could play well in the back half, when the HR Director really lets loose, which is something that we knew Kate could do. Yet we also wanted someone who wouldn’t just bring a one-dimensional schoolmarm element to the first half, and Kate brought such a specificity to the character. 

JG: She considers herself the most important person in the office. Early on, we talked about how her character loves her job.

WS: We knew that we were in good hands when we started to engage her on the character’s notion that the rules can be fun. She talked about how her staunch, strict policies are ultimately fueled by her desire to keep her job, which ultimately helps maintain her hobby of collecting birds. That was a quirk we slowly revealed throughout the film. Again, we didn’t want there to be a mustache-twisting person in the office. We wouldn’t let Kate play the part without allowing that character to have a lot of dimension and fun.

Jason Bateman’s role as the deadpan foil is reminiscent of his character on “Arrested Development.”

JG: Jason is so good at holding the center and reacting to insanity, which is the reason why he was our first choice and why we knew that he could anchor the movie. There are so many big personalities in the film, and you need that person that the audience can enter the story through. He is such a great everyman, and after working with him on this and “The Switch,” he has become kind of a muse for us. His timing is unlike anyone else’s right now. He’s like a younger Jack Lemmon.

Was “The Apartment” a film you had in mind as well?

WS: It’s funny that you mention “The Apartment,” because there’s a Christmas party in that film, and it takes place in an office. We always loved that scene, and it contains an image of people dancing on their desks. I think on a subconscious level, we paid homage to that scene in our film by having Miller, Vance and McKinnon dance on a stage that consisted simply of desks being thrown together. 

Rather than emulate that film’s low-hanging ceilings, the production design in your film has a great deal of spaciousness.

JG: The visual language of a cubicle hell involving small, claustrophobic offices had already been done in “Office Space” and “The Office.” Will and I wanted to tell the story of a larger company, a big corporate entity that has maybe three or four hundred people in it. We knew that we wanted the scale to be much bigger, and that’s why we chose to set it in the building where we are presently having this interview: the old IBM building, which was built in the 70s. This is the building you see in the exterior shots filmed from the sky. For the interiors, we used the Federal Plaza, which has the same architect, Mies van der Rohe. The studio allowed us to build an almost 35,000 square foot two-story set because we knew that we were going to end up destroying it, and no actual office would let us shoot at their location. In order to emphasize the scale of the space, we shot it in anamorphic, which is a format used in many Landis movies. 

WS: We also wanted it to feel like an office that was part of a bigger corporation. This saga of a branch rising was one story amongst many stories. Jennifer Aniston’s character represents an unseen corporate reality that she’s imposing on our group of underdogs. A film about a homegrown office that starts and ends within the same walls would’ve felt entirely different. 

JG: Back when it was founded, this company had ambitions for itself. They built themselves a big kick-ass office, and they just haven’t been able to remodel it for over 30 years. Frankly, people are lucky to have jobs now, and we wanted to tell a story about a big group of people who are just holding on by their fingernails and don’t want to have to look for a new job.

When you are working with people who often write their own material, such as T.J. Miller, how much leeway do you give them in terms of creating their characters?

WS: We shot a very healthy, well-calibrated script, and though we did have an onset joke writer, we would always encourage our writers to add improvisation. Within the confines of the script and the story, the actors were able to make the material their own. T.J. would spin the way a word was said, or he would the subvert the pronunciation of somebody’s name. There are little details that are very T.J. in the film where his writing came in handy, but since his character—who is an innocent—is such a key part of the story, he stuck to the script. Most of the actors did, yet once they understood their characters, we let them go.

Also among the ensemble is Abbey Lee, who brought down the house with a single flick of her lip in “The Neon Demon.”

JG: Her role was a very hard one to cast because you don’t want it to be a cliché or a thin part. She came in during casting, and Will and I were in a room with a monitor screening audition footage, yet we were busy doing other things. He was at a casting board and I was looking at a model of the set, and we simultaneously turned toward one another once we began hearing her voice from the monitor. We walked over to the screen and watched her audition. Will said it was like watching Michelle Pfeiffer. She’s incredibly sexy and the most powerful presence in any room, yet she was able to play the comedy in a very impressive way.

WS: Another Chicago-based film that is a seminal movie for Josh and I is “Risky Business,” and Abbey very much reminded us of Rebecca De Mornay

One of the biggest laughs in the film comes courtesy of Fortune Feimster as the Uber driver, with her hilarious riffing on the name Carol.

WS: That’s a good example of a bit that really came from the performer. It was a tricky scene because on the page, it was very flat. It was about a Second City improvisational actor who was trying to imitate characters like Borat. The scene was okay, but it wasn’t anything that you hadn’t seen before. At lunch, Fortune and Jillian Bell, who are very close, asked us if we had space to run some ideas for the scene, and we said absolutely. They spoke with our onset writer, and they came up with the idea of having the Uber driver think that she’s on an episode of “Undercover Boss.” The whole Carol thing was on her feet. She came up with that idea, and it was something that we loved so much that we brought it back at the end of the film. That was a good example of somebody who writes their own material and can make something huge out of nothing. We gave her a lot more leeway too because it was just a one-off role as opposed to T.J., who was very calibrated throughout the movie. This scene was an opportunity for someone to just come in and nail it, and she did. 


Hackaday: Breathe Easy with a Laser Cutter Air Filter

A laser cutter is a great tool to have in the shop, but like other CNC machines it can make a lousy neighbor. Vaporizing your stock means you end up breathing stuff you might rather not. If you’re going to be around these fumes all day, you’ll want good fume extraction, and you might just consider a DIY fume and particulate filter to polish the exhausted air.

15203365_644939182347358_619032134291602214_nWhile there’s no build log per se, [ZbLab]’s Facebook page has a gallery of photos that show the design and build in enough detail to get the gist. The main element of the filter is 25 kg of activated charcoal to trap the volatile organic compounds in the laser exhaust. The charcoal is packed into an IKEA garbage can around a prefilter made from a canister-style automotive air cleaner – [ZbLab] uses a Filtron filter that crosses to the more commonly available Fram CA3281. Another air cleaner element (Fram CA3333) makes sure no loose charcoal dust is expelled from the filter. The frame is built of birch ply and the plumbing is simple PVC. With a 125mm inlet it looks like this filter can really breathe, and it would easily scale up or down in size according to your needs.

No laser cutter in your shop to justify this filter, you say? Why not build one? Or, if you do any soldering, this downdraft fume extractor is a good way to clear the air.


Filed under: cnc hacks, green hacks, laser hacks

Colossal: Tessellated Origami Sculptures by Goran Konjevod

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Origami artist Goran Konjevod brings an extensive background in mathematics and theoretical computer science into the folds of his elegant paper sculptures, textured abstract forms that twist, spiral, and cascade. Konjevod practiced origami as a hobby for many years, usually folding the designs of others until 2005 when he began producing some of his original designs. Most of his pieces involve tessellations where repetative geometric designs are carefully folded to create patterns within the paper. (via Strictly Paper)

Recently Konjevod’s work has been collected and displayed in exhibitions like the recent 8th Annual Sanchez Art Center 50|50 Show and with the Ohio Craft Museum. You can find more work on his Instagram.

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Penny Arcade: Comic: Doppelgaber

New Comic: Doppelgaber

Tea Masters: La coupe qu'on ne remarque pas

La fonction d'un accessoire de thé est d'être au service du thé et de remplir cette fonction de manière simple et efficace, en passant presque inaperçu. C'est le tour force de cette nouvelle coupe de thé en porcelaine fine.
Wenshan Baozhong bio torréfié de 2013
Pour la tester, je déguste cet excellent Baozong bio torréfié du printemps 2013. Il est très pur en bouche et supporte bien les longues infusions. Ses arômes de forêt subtropicale de Wenshan sont d'une extrême finesse.
Cette impression est soulignée par la finesse de la porcelaine et des parois de cette coupe. Elle est très légère (20 gr) et on la remarque à peine. Sa petite taille convient très bien aux petites théières et donc au gongfu cha! Sa couleur légèrement ivoire donne encore un peu plus de chaleur aux Oolongs torréfiés tout en permettant une très bonne transparence.
J'adore aussi l'ouverture de la bouche de la coupe. La lèvre inférieure s'y cale avec un plaisir suave. Forme harmonieuse et simple, matériau doux et fin, couleur blanche et pure. C'est la coupe qui se fait oublier et met le thé en valeur!

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Christmastronomy



Hovertext:
All I'm saying is that it fits the data. What else do you need?

New comic!
Today's News:

Submissions are now open for BAHFest London!

silk and spinach: Consumer-driven development

In common with many other programmers I have been using the term “outside-in” development for a long time. I suspect I first encountered it in the writings of Steve Freeman and Nat Pryce, and I’m sure they got it from someone else. Unfortunately the term can be confusing (I find its Wikipedia page baffling), and I find that it doesn’t capture the whole essence of the way I write software these days. I have also tried using the term “programming by intention”, as advocated by Ron Jeffries. But that term seems to have a life of its own which is only tangentially related to the way Ron uses it.

The approach I want to describe is this: I begin with the code that wants to consume the outputs of whatever I’m about to develop. And then I work backwards. First I hard-code those outputs by creating new code “close to” the consumer, so that I can see that they work. Then I push the hard-coded values further down one layer at a time, until I’m done. (I am also likely to write automated tests, but only at the highest convenient levels rather than having tests for every new level of decomposition I discover. And that’s a story for another day.)

So the core of the approach I use is that I begin with a consumer and I write some code to make them happy. Then I treat that new code as the consumer for a new layer of code, and so on. Each layer is written “intentionally”, and does just enough to satisfy the layer above it (and thus all of the layers above that).

And where some layer is providing hard-coded values to its consumer, I think of that code as making simplifying assumptions. It does the job it was asked to do, but only serves a tiny fraction of its audience’s ultimate needs. These hard-coded values aren’t fakes or prototypes, they are a way of creating thin vertical slices quickly. And once I know they are correct, my next coding episode will be to bust one or more of the assumptions by driving the code down to the next layer of detail.

I want to call this Consumer-Driven Development. It’s nothing new, but it seems to surprise teams whenever I demonstrate it.

(I have some availability in the next few months if you would like to see this in action and learn how to apply it to your code.)


Electronics-Lab: DC Motor & Direction Controller with Brake using MC33035

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This is a 3AMP DC Motor speed and direction controller using MC33035 IC from on semiconductor, though the MC33035 was designed to control brushless DC motor , it may also be used to control DC brush type motors. MC33035 driving a Mosfets based H-Bridge affording minimal parts count to operate a brush type motor. On board potentiometer provided for speed control, slide switch for direction control and brake, On board jumper available to enable the chip. The controller function in normal manner with a PWM frequency of approximately 25Khz. Motor speed is controlled by adjusting the voltage presented to the non inverting input of the error amplifier establishing the PWM’s slice or reference level. Cycle by cycle current limiting of the motor is accomplished by sensing the voltage across the shunt resistor to the ground of H-bridge. The overcurrent sense circuit makes it possible to reverse the direction of the motor, using normal forward/reverse switch, on the fly and not have to completely stop it before reversing.

DC Motor & Direction Controller with Brake using MC33035 – [Link]

The post DC Motor & Direction Controller with Brake using MC33035 appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Open Culture: Why Making Accurate World Maps Is Mathematically Impossible

Jorge Luis Borges once wrote of an empire wherein “the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province.” Still unsatisfied, “the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it.” But posterity, when they lost their ancestors’ obsession for cartography, judged “that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters.” With that enormous map, in all its singular accuracy, cast out, smaller, imperfect ones presumably won the day again.

With that well-known story “On Exactitude in Science,” Borges illustrated the idea that all maps are wrong by imagining the preposterousness of a truly correct one. The Vox video “Why All World Maps Are Wrong” covers some of the same territory, as it were, first illustrating that idea by slitting open an inflatable globe and trying, futilely, to get the resulting plastic mess to lie flat.


“That right there is the eternal dilemma of mapmakers,” says the host in voiceover as the struggle continues onscreen. “The surface of a sphere cannot be represented as a plane without some form of distortion.” As a result, all of humanity’s paper maps of the world–which in the task of turning the surface of a sphere into a flat plane need to use a technique called “projection”–distort geographical reality by definition.

The Mercator projection has, since its invention by sixteenth-century Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator, produced the most widely-seen world maps. (If you grew up in America, you almost certainly spent a lot of time staring at Mercator maps in the classroom.) But we hardly live under the limitations of his day, nor those of the 1940s when Borges imagined his land-sized map. In our 21st century, the satellite-based Global Positioning System has “wiped out the need for paper maps as a means of navigating both the sea and the sky,” but even so, “most web mapping tools, like Google Maps, use the Mercator” due to its “ability to preserve shape and angles,” which “makes close-up views of cities more accurate.”

On the scale of a City, in more Borgesian words — and probably on the scale of a Province and even the Empire — Mercator projection still works just fine. “But the fact remains that there’s no right projection. Cartographers and mathematicians have created a huge library of available projections, each with a new perspective on the planet, and each useful for a different task.” You can compare and contrast a few of them for yourself here, or take a closer look of some of the Mercator projection’s size distortions (making Greenland, for example, look as big as the whole of Africa) here. These challenges and others have kept the Disciplines of Geography, unlike in Borges’ world, busy even today.

Related Content:

The History of Cartography, the “Most Ambitious Overview of Map Making Ever,” Now Free Online

New York Public Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Download and Use

Browse & Download 1,198 Free High Resolution Maps of U.S. National Parks

Download 67,000 Historic Maps (in High Resolution) from the Wonderful David Rumsey Map Collection

Free: National Geographic Lets You Download Thousands of Maps from the United States Geological Survey

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Why Making Accurate World Maps Is Mathematically Impossible is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Eric Yahnker

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A selection of drawings by the hilarious Eric Yahnker (a personal fav), previously featured here. More images below.

The Shape of Code: Christmas books for 2016

Here are couple of suggestions for books this Christmas. As always, the timing of the books I suggest is based on when they reach the top of the books-to-read pile, not when they were published.

“The Utopia of rules” by David Graeber (who also wrote the highly recommended “Debt : The First 5000 Years”). Full of eye opening insights into bureaucracy, how the ‘free’ world’s state apparatus came to have its current form and how various cultures have reacted to the imposition of bureaucratic rules. Very readable.

“How Apollo Flew to the Moon” by W. David Woods. This is a technical nuts-and-bolts story of how Apollo got to the moon and back. It is the best book I have every read on the subject, and as a teenager during the Apollo missions I read all the books I could find.

This year’s blog find was Scott Adams’ blog (yes, he of Dilbert fame). I had been watching Donald Trump’s rise for about a year and understood that almost everything he said was designed to appeal to a specific audience and the fact that it sounded crazy to those not in the target audience was irrelevant. I found Scott’s blog contained lots of interesting insights of the goings on in the US election; the insights into why Trump was saying the things he said have proved to be spot on.

For those of you interested in theoretical physics I ought to mention Backreaction (regular updates, primarily about gravity related topics) and Of Particular Significance (sporadic updates and primarily about particle physics)

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Charlie Megna

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A selection of gouache paintings by artist Charlie Megna. More images below.

Better Embedded System SW: Understandable Code (Coding Style for Humans) Overview Video

Here's a summary video on Human-Understandable Code (Code Readability) which is half of the topic of coding style.

Other pointers on this topic (my blog posts unless otherwise noted):

For more about Edge Case Research and how to subscribe to our video training channel, please see this Blog posting.

Electronics-Lab: Adjusting clock with alarm, hygrometer & thermometer on 1.8″ ST7735 display

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Nicu Florica blogged about his adjusting clock with alarm, hygrometer and thermometer on 1.8″ ST7735 display:

I use feature from article Another adjusting clock with alarm & thermometer using DS3231 on 1.8″ ST7735 display and change reading internal temperature of DS3231 with DHT22 sensor (AM2302), but you can use a cheaper and not very precise DHT11 sensor.
By using educ8stv_rtctft160_alarm_dht.ino or much better educ8stv_rtctft160_alarm_eeprom_dht.ino sketch, on display you can see: name of day, date, hour clock, hour alarm, temperature and humidity

Adjusting clock with alarm, hygrometer & thermometer on 1.8″ ST7735 display – [Link]

The post Adjusting clock with alarm, hygrometer & thermometer on 1.8″ ST7735 display appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Electronics-Lab: MDBT42Q, nRF52832-based BLE module

The open hardware innovation platform Seeedstudio produces the MDBT42Q, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) module. It is a BT 4.0, BT 4.1 and BT 4.2 module designed based on Nordic nRF52832 SoC, a powerful, highly flexible ultra-low power multiprotocol SoC ideally suited for Bluetooth low energy, ANT and 2.4GHz ultra low-power wireless applications.

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MDBT42Q features a dual transmission mode of BLE and 2.4 GHz RF with over 80 meters working distance in open space. It is a 16 x 10 x 2.2 mm board which contains GPIO, SPI, UART, I2C, I2S, PWM and ADC interfaces for connecting peripherals and sensors.

nrf52832_mediumThe nRF52832 SoC is built around a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™-M4F CPU with 512kB and 64kB RAM. The embedded 2.4GHz transceiver supports Bluetooth low energy, ANT and proprietary 2.4 GHz protocol stack. It is on air compatible with the nRF51 Series, nRF24L and nRF24AP Series products from Nordic Semiconductor.

MDBT42Q Specifications:

  • Multi-protocol 2.4GHz radio
  • 32-bit ARM Cortex – M4F processor
  • 512KB flash programmed memory and 64KB RAM
  • Software stacks available as downloads
  • Application development independent from protocol stack
  • On-air compatible with nRF51, nRF24AP and nRF24L series
  • Programmable output power from +4dBm to -20dBm
  • RAM mapped FIFOs using EasyDMA
  • Dynamic on-air payload length up to 256 bytes
  • Flexible and configurable 32 pin GPIO
  • Simple ON / OFF global power mode
  • Full set of digital interface all with Easy DMA including:
  • 3 x Hardware SPI master ; 3 x Hardware SPI slave
  • 2 x two-wire master ; 2 x two-wire slave
  • 1 x UART (CTS / RTS)
  • PDM for digital microphone
  • I2S for audio
  • 12-bit / 200KSPS ADC
  • 128-bit AES ECB / CCM / AAR co-processor
  • Lowe cost external crystal 32MHz ± 40ppm for Bluetooth ; ± 50ppm for ANT Plus
  • Lowe power 32MHz crystal and RC oscillators
  • Wide supply voltage range 1.7V to 3.6V
  • On-chip DC/DC buck converter
  • Individual power management for all peripherals
  • Timer counter
  • 3 x 24-bit RTC
  • NFC-A tag interface for OOB pairing
  • RoHS and REACH compliant

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This BLE module can be used in a wide range of applications, such as Internet of Things (IoT), Personal Area Networks, Interactive entertainment devices, Beacons, A4WP wireless chargers and devices, Remote control toys, and computer peripherals and I/O devices.

Full specifications, datasheet, and product documents are available at seeedstudio store, it can be backordered for only $10.

The post MDBT42Q, nRF52832-based BLE module appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Electronics-Lab: 3D Printed Organ-On-Chip

Researcher at Harvard University had been working to build new microphysiological systems (MPS), also known as organs-on-chips, that can mimic the operation of the structure and function of native tissue.

By developing such systems, they are replacing the conventional way of measuring and testing synthetic organs -usually by testing them first on animals.

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Although such a solution can help in advancing research and making easy organ-replacement real, but it also somehow costly and considered as laborious.

To build up this system you need a clean room and you have to use a complex, multistep lithographic process. To collect data you also need microscopy or high-speed cameras. Considering also the fact that current MPS typically lack integrated sensors, researchers developed six different inks that integrated soft strain sensors within the micro-architecture of the tissue.

09/15/2016 Cambridge, MA. Harvard University. This images shows multi-material, direct write 3D printing of a cardiac microphysiological device. This instrument was designed for in vitro cardiac tissue research. Lori K. Sanders/Harvard University
This images shows multi-material, direct write 3D printing of a cardiac microphysiological device. This instrument was designed for in vitro cardiac tissue research. Lori K. Sanders/Harvard University

They combined all the steps in one automated procedure using 3D printer. The result was  a cardiac microphysiological device — a heart on a chip — with integrated sensors.  According to the research paper, these 6 inks were designed based on “piezo-resistive, high-conductance, and biocompatible soft materials that enable integration of soft strain gauge sensors within micro-architectures that guide the self-assembly of physio-mimetic laminar cardiac tissues”

“We are pushing the boundaries of three-dimensional printing by developing and integrating multiple functional materials within printed devices,” said Jennifer Lewis, Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering. “This study is a powerful demonstration of how our platform can be used to create fully functional, instrumented chips for drug screening and disease modeling.”

You can check this video to see this heart in action, and to take a look at the 6 inks 3D printer

Right now, researchers are testing their new heart-on-chip by performing drug studies and longer-term studies of gradual changes in the contractile stress of engineered cardiac tissues, which can take multiple weeks. This approach will make it much easier to test and measure the tissue contractile and its response to various chemicals like drugs and toxins.

This work was published in Nature Materials and the research was named “Instrumented cardiac microphysiological devices via multimaterial three-dimensional printing”.It was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, the US Army Research Laboratory and the US Army Research, and the Harvard University Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).  For more information, you can check the paper out here and learn more at Harvard website.

The post 3D Printed Organ-On-Chip appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

New Humanist Blog: The road to sedition

Controversy over a student protest in India has exposed the dangerous rise of nationalism in the world’s largest democracy.

BOOOOOOOM!: Illustrator Spotlight: Ping Zhu

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A really lovely series of work by Brooklyn-based illustrator Ping Zhu. More images below.

Electronics-Lab: Nanotechnoloy – Nano coating prevents exploding Li-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are very popular as they’re lightweight and have high energy density. But at the same time, li-ion batteries are very sensitive to overcharge/over discharge. An internal short circuit can cause fire and it may even lead to a violent explosion. Fortunately, nanotechnology found a way to prevent this kind of nightmare. How? let’s discuss:

Why Does li-ion Battery Explode?

When a device draws too much power from a Li-Ion battery, it heats up and thus melts the internal separator between the two flammable electrolytes. This phenomenon ignites a chemical reaction between the electrolytes causing them to explode. Once their package ruptures, the oxygen in the surrounding air helps the flammable electrolytes to catch fire. The fire then spreads quickly to other cells and loads a thermal runaway.

Thermal runaway in Li-ion Battery
Thermal runaway in Li-ion Battery

During a thermal runaway, the high heat of the damaged or malfunctioning cell can propagate to the next cell, causing it to become completely thermally unstable as well. In some worse cases, a chain reaction occurs in which each cell disintegrates at its own timetable.

So, in a nutshell, Li-ion cells possess the potential of a thermal runaway. The temperature quickly rises to the melting point of the metallic lithium and cause a violent reaction, which finally causes an explosion.

How Can Nanotechnology Prevent This?

Recently conducted research shows that atomic layer deposition (ALD) of titania (TiO2) and alumina (Al2O3) on Ni-rich FCG NMC and NCA active material particles could substantially improve Li-ion battery’s performance and allow for increased upper cutoff voltage (UCV) during charging, which delivers significantly increased specific energy utilization.

Atomic Layer Deposition in li-ion CellsAtomic Layer Deposition in li-ion Cells
Atomic Layer Deposition in li-ion Cells

 

A company called Forge Nano claims to prevent this thermal runaway situation by never letting it get started even if the battery electrodes are shorted out. Forge Nano’s precision coatings on cathode and anode powders protect against the most common degradation mechanisms found in Li-ion batteries.

The benefits of Forge Nano precision coatings include extended battery life and greater safety, especially in extreme situations such as high-temperature operation, fast cycling rates, and overvoltage conditions.

By implementing lithium-based ALD films in nanostructured 3D lithium-ion batteries, significant gains in power density, cycling performances during charge/discharge, and safety is noticed.

What’s the Result?

Some of Forge Nano’s accomplishments in the Li-ion battery space includes:

  • Increased lifetime of commercial cathode material by as much as 250%
  • 15% higher energy density in large format pouch cells (40 Ah) that pass nail penetration testing
  • 60% reduced gas generation in cathode material
  • A low-cost high-voltage cathode powder with exceptional performance
  • Increased rate capability of conventional materials for enhanced fast charge acceptance using Forge Nano’s proprietary solid electrolyte coatings

    ForgeNano Claims Their Technology as Best Solution
    ForgeNano Claims Their Technology as Best Solution

Since the solution found by the research, Forge Nano has been working on a commercial version of the product that they finally believe they can place in the market very soon.

The post Nanotechnoloy – Nano coating prevents exploding Li-ion batteries appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Open Culture: What’s the Fastest Way to Alphabetize Your Bookshelf?

We’ve told you about the great Japanese word “tsundoku,” which describes the act of buying books and letting them pile up unread. It’s an affliction–or state of affairs–I’m sure many of you are personally familiar with.

Now let’s say you move that huge pile of unread books to a new home. And you’re wondering what’s the quickest way to get them in alphabetical order. Above, a handy lifehack to save you time.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. And if you want to make sure that our posts definitely appear in your Facebook newsfeed, just follow these simple steps.

Related Content:

“Tsundoku,” the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language

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What’s the Fastest Way to Alphabetize Your Bookshelf? is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.12.05

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): The Enright Files on William Shakespeare and James Joyce

On this edition of The Enright Files, we mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and the 100th anniversary of James Joyce's great novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Perlsphere: meta::hack 2016

MetaCPAN is the community developed and maintained website and api for finding and learning about Perl modules. This year, we dedicated a long weekend to improving it and oh what a weekend it was!

MetaCPAN had been developed using an early version of Elasticsearch and though it has served the project well ES moves quickly. A year or so ago MetaCPAN developers decided they needed to address the fact that the database was well out of date and the daunting amount of breaking changes that had happened since then. This work continued at this year’s Perl QA Hackathon, when I met Olaf Alders, Mickey Nasriachi, and Leo Lapworth who were diligently working on the migration.

I hadn’t come to QAH with any specific plans; I hopped aboard with MetaCPAN when I heard that they had started using Minion. Minion is a job queue, generally used with Mojolicious but easily used elsewhere. As part of the Mojolicious project I was happy to get up to speed on the project to be ready to help them if needed.

At QAH the migration made a lot of progress but didn’t quite make it over the hump. Just afterwards, we mentioned that with a few more days of hacking we could have finished. Not only that but we enjoyed each other’s company and we thought it would be fun to do it again.

The thought took shape over the following months and this past weekend I had the extreme pleasure of attending the (first) Meta::Hack with a group of very talented developers to work on MetaCPAN. The attendees were Olaf, Mickey and Leo, as well as Thomas Sibley, Graham Knop, Brad Lhotsky and Doug Bell. Doug’s and my employer, ServerCentral hosted the event November 17-20, 2016. They also host Chicago Perl Mongers; we are very grateful to work for a company so devoted to supporting Perl and Open Source.

This primary focus of the first two days was the remaining work of the Elasticsearch migration. I’m happy to report that as a result of the hackathon the migration is complete and has been deployed!

While the lead developers were completing that work, I audited the code and wrote some additional tests for the new download_url endpoint. Once the new backend went live it was “all hands on deck” watching for errors in the log and checking for other oddities.

One of the most fun projects was trying to discover why certain search results were getting repeated. As we dug through the search, trying more and more ideas, pulling in developer after developer. Finally Graham won the day, figuring out that as a result of the new data structures, we were uniquely filtering on not the name but an array reference containing the name, defeating the uniqueness check. It may sounds obvious now, but it really was quite an adventure getting there!

As a result of that challenge, I became much more familiar with the code surrounding the search itself. Several years ago I had noticed that it was nearly impossible to get search results from the api that mimicked the website’s own results. The reason turns out to be that the website performs a very complex Elasticsearch query from the front-end server, more-or-less bypassing the api to do so. Having learned about the search from the uniqueness fiasco, I spent the next two days moving the search from the web service to the api service.

This change, once merged, will allow api consumers to get search results directly. In this way external projects could have documentation or module search directly from MetaCPAN. Additionally, the search could also be extended to expose additional search parameters, possibly allowing clients to optimize the search for their particular needs.

I was so pleased to be able to take part and contribute in my own way to the furthering of Meta::CPAN. I want to thank the attendees once again, gentlemen and scholars all, and Neil Bowers for organizational help. Further this meeting wouldn’t have been possible without the extraordinarily generous support of our sponsors:

Our platinum sponsors were Booking.com and cPanel. Our gold sponsors were Elastic, FastMail, and Perl Careers. Our silver sponsors were ActiveState, Perl Services, ServerCentral, and Advance Systems Our bronze sponsors were Vienna.pm, easyname, and the Enlightened Perl Organisation (EPO). My warm thanks to each one!

Jesse Moynihan: Forming 235

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Think different

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It now costs the better part of $1 million more to buy a detached house in that paradise known as the GTA than it does to get a condo. That’s $1,345,000 for some dirt, and $471,000 without it. Both prices are extreme. Limited supply has lofted detacheds by more than 30% in the past year. Meanwhile the condo I rent downtown sells for about $750 a foot.

Last month, which was as euphoric in Toronto as it was depressing in Vancouver, saw a 28% surge year/year in condo sales, while house deals were ahead less than half that – 13%. Sure, supply plays a role and listings are scant, but this is more about price than anything.

And Millennials.

The moisters now outnumber the Viagra-popping, Jaggeresque thirsty-underwear set for the first time. In Toronto alone the Mill population swelled by more than 40,000 every year between 2011 and 2014. Since the 1950s Boomers have dominated the demographic pyramid. No more. Fully 34% of the country’s inhabitants have reached adulthood (sort of) since Y2K. And while they may love facial hair, plaid, probiotics, left-wingers, work-life balance, emojis, social justice, organics, online commerce, vaping, fintech and selfies, they’ve sure embraced the property lust that defined their parents, once they got over bell bottoms and hash.

When realtors (who else?) asked a mess of moisters what kind of home they planned to purchase, 75% had the same answer – a detached, single-family house. A decade ago seven in ten new houses sold in the Toronto region were just that. Today only three in ten are singles. The number of available properties has decreased by 90%.

So, figure it out. The biggest cohort’s now entering its rutting and nesting years at the same time low interest rates, land use restrictions, runaway building costs and inert Boomers have sliced the number of properties on the market. The result, as mentioned, is a $1.3 million tag on detached resales and $1.2 million for new singles. No wonder more money is now being channeled into high-rise condo units, especially given the recent mortgage rule changes including the stress test.

The average Toronto-region condo costs roughly $440,000. The average monthly fee is about $650, and property taxes average a little less than $3,000 a year. So buying a one-bedder with 20% down means having almost $100,000 in cash to close, with a mortgage payment of $1,500. Add in fees and taxes and the monthly nut comes to $2,400. Consider the hundred grand you had to put down which, if invested to earn 6%, would yield $512 a month (inside your TFSAs), and the true monthly cost is now almost $3,000.

The average one-bedroom apartment in Toronto rents for $1,453 while a two-bagger averages $1,805 (according to the rent control board people). So, it’s fair to say  moisters taking the condo ownership plunge, as opposed to renting, fork out about twice as much per month. Not the greatest strategy for building wealth, especially with higher mortgage rates and Trump on the horizon.

But there’s more to consider: average monthly maintenance fees rise an average of 14.8% during the first three years that a new building is occupied. Ouch. And you’ve no control over that. Nor property taxes, which are under considerable upward pressure. Plus there are special assessments to worry about – replacing suspect glass panels in the curtain walls of new builds, or repairing aging boilers and crumbly, salt-infused parking garages of older places. And then, when you sell, there’s a 5% outlay to the realtor.

Given all this, and the certainty a mortgage taken out today will renew at a higher rate, why would anyone buy?

Over five years the average Toronto condo renter will save $90,000 over the average condo owner. If that were invested for modest growth inside a TFSA or RRSP (starting with $1,500 and adding that amount monthly) it would total $106,700. Of course, owners are able to convert some debt into equity as they make mortgage payments, plus employ leverage. But they also absorb all kinds of risk that renters never face – like market risk, rate risk, occupancy risk and a-dickhead-just-move-in-next-door risk.

Renters have flexibility, mobility, enhanced cash flow and the complete freedom to ignore mortgage rates, property tax increases and real estate corrections. And with 52% of all new condos in Toronto going to amateur landlords who will never move in themselves, the odds of being turfed from your rental unit are microscopic.

Of course, all of these rational arguments are no substitute for hormones. Millennials are flooding into their peak house lust years in droves. Those unable to cough up the $280,000 in cash for a detached downpayment, or the monthly financing cost of a $1.1 million mortgage ($5,000), will likely stagger into the wealth trap called the condo market.

Big mistake.

After all, if you can live without Starbucks and don’t mind a soul-sucking commute, there’s this for $429,900. And they’ll probably throw in the deer head!

Seriously, kids. Get some dirt.

Planet Lisp: Zach Beane: Erlangen intro

Max Rottenkolber made a distributed, async message-passing system. Here’s his introduction to Erlangen.

Perlsphere: The London Perl Workshop 2016

I went to the London Perl Workshop yesterday. It was the usual excellent mix of good talks, catching up with old friends, and making some new ones. It was also the 10th and final LPW organised by Mark Keating. I came away reminded that what makes a languages isn't really the language, it's an ecosystem for sharing code (CPAN) and the community. And what a great community we have!

s mazuk: scificovers:Belmont L92-588: The Non-Statistical Man by Raymond...



scificovers:

Belmont L92-588: The Non-Statistical Man by Raymond F. Jones, 1964. Cover artist unknown.

Trivium: 04dec2016

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Science is Unsettled



Hovertext:
I wonder if there are time-reversed civilizations where everything gets more and more orderly, but then you get crushed.

New comic!
Today's News:

Tea Masters: Sunday tea class

What's the right teapot size for Wuyi Yan Cha?
Here's a familiar situation at our tea class. Every week, we take turns to set up a Chaxi. And then, when we are all set, we often find out that the teapot we've brought is not a good fit for the tea we're going to brew. So, Teaparker lends a different teapot to the student. Here, a tiny old zhuni Baotai to brew a WuYi Yan Cha.

Even after 13 years of weekly tea classes, I still feel there's much to learn. Today, for instance, we tasted a raw puerh mix: spring 2012 + fall 2013 leaves. It took considerable concentration to notice the 2 different aromas. It was easier to recognize the difference in the spent leaves. The spring leaves had a lighter hue and were thinner. It's always a good idea to look at the spent leaves to see if the leaves are all the same or if they are a mix of different teas!
Small is always right, even for 8 people!

Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.12.04

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Perlsphere: Getopt modules 04: Getopt::Compact

About this mini-article series. Each day for 24 days, I will be reviewing a module that parses command-line options (such module is usually under the Getopt::* namespace). First article is here.

Getopt::Compact is a module that was first released in 2004 by Andrew Stewart Williams (ASW) and last updated in 2006. It manages to have 7 CPAN distributions depending on it.

Like Getopt::Long::Descriptive, this module is a wrapper for Getopt::Long mainly to allow users to specify summary string for each option as that's what is lacking in Getopt::Long to produce a useful usage/help message. Getopt::Compact also tries to present a different interface that claims to be more compact if you have a lot of (flag) options. For example, this code using Getopt::Long:

GetOptions(
    "--flag1" => \$opts{flag1},
    "--flag2" => \$opts{flag1},
    "--flag3" => \$opts{flag1},
    "--flag4" => \$opts{flag1},
    "--val1|1=s"  => \$opts{val1},
    "--val2|2=i"  => \$opts{val2},
    "--val3=s@"   =>  $opts{val3},
);

will become like this when using Getopt::Compact:

my $opts = Getopt::Compact->new(
    modes  => [qw/flag1 flag2 flag3 flag4/],
    struct => [
        [["val1", "1"], "Value1 blah blah"],
        [["val2", "2"], "Value2 blah blah", "=i"],
        ["val3"       , "Value3 blah blah", "=s@"],
    ],
)->opts;

But if you always put option values into hash elements (instead of sometimes assigning an option handler), GetOptions provides an alternative interface in which you specify hashref as first argument. This makes for a more compact syntax:

GetOptions(
    \%opts,
    [qw/--flag1 --flag2 --flag3 --flag4
        --val1|1=s --val2|2=i --val3=s@/],
);

So basically what Getopt::Compact makes you do is specifying option in split parts: –name|a=s@ in Getopt::Long becomes:

[["name","a"], "summary", "=s@"]

I recommend using Getopt::Long::Descriptive (GLD) instead of this because: 1) the interface is slightly nicer (no split option specification so more familiar to Getopt::Long users); 2) GLD allows specifying default value for options; 3) GLD allows expressing that an option is required.


Paper Bits: Ur-Fascism

Ur-Fascism

Planet Haskell: Paul Johnson: What duties to software developers owe to users?

I was reading this blog post, entitled "The code I’m still ashamed of". 

TL; DR: back in 2000 the poster, Bill Sourour, was employed to write a web questionnaire aimed at teenage girls that purported to advise the user about their need for a particular drug. In reality unless you said you were allergic to it, the questionnaire always concluded that the user needed the drug. Shortly after, Sourour read about a teenage girl who had possibly committed suicide due to side effects of this drug. He is still troubled by this.

Nothing the poster or his employer did was illegal. It may not even have been unethical, depending on exactly which set of professional ethics you subscribe to. But it seems clear to me that there is something wrong in a program that purports to provide impartial advice while actually trying to trick you into buying medication you don't need. Bill Sourour clearly agrees.

Out in meatspace we have a clearly defined set of rules for this kind of situation. Details vary between countries, but if you consult someone about legal, financial or medical matters then they are generally held to have a "fiduciary duty" to you. The term derives from the Latin for "faithful". If X has a fiduciary duty to Y, then X is bound at all times to act in the best interests of Y. In such a case X is said to be "the fiduciary" while Y is the "beneficiary".

In many cases fiduciary duties arise in clearly defined contexts and have clear bodies of law or other rules associated with them. If you are the director of a company then you have a fiduciary duty to the shareholders, and most jurisdictions have a specific law for that case. But courts can also find fiduciary duties in other circumstances. In English law the general principle is as follows:
"A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence."
It seems clear to me that this describes precisely the relationship between a software developer and a user. The user is not in a position to create the program they require, so they use one developed by someone else. The program acts as directed by the developer, but on behalf of the user. The user has to trust that the program will do what it promises, and in many cases the program will have access to confidential information which could be disclosed to others against the user's wishes.

These are not theoretical concerns. "Malware" is a very common category of software, defined as:
any software used to disrupt computer or mobile operations, gather sensitive information, gain access to private computer systems, or display unwanted advertising.
Sometimes malware is illicitly introduced by hacking, but in many cases the user is induced to run the malware by promises that it will do something that the user wants. In that case, software that acts against the interests of the user is an abuse of the trust placed in the developer by the user. In particular, the potential for software to "gather sensitive information" and "gain access to private computer systems" clearly shows that the user must have a "relationship of trust and confidence" with the developer, even if they have never met.

One argument against my thesis came up when I posted a question about this to Legal forum on Stack Exchange. The answer I got from Dale M argued that:

Engineers (including software engineers) do not have this [relationship of confidence] and AFAIK a fiduciary duty between an engineer and their client has never been found, even where the work is a one-on-one commission.
I agree that, unlike a software developer, all current examples of a fiduciary duty involve a relationship in which the fiduciary is acting directly. The fiduciary has immediate knowledge of the circumstances of the particular beneficiary, and decides from moment to moment to take actions that may or may not be in the beneficiary's best interest. In contrast a software developer is separated in time from the user, and may have little or no knowledge of the user's situation.

I didn't argue with Dale M because Stack Exchange is for questions and answers, not debates. However I don't think that the distinction drawn by Dale M holds for software. An engineer designing a bridge is not in a position to learn the private information of those who cross the bridge, but a software engineer is often in a position to learn a great deal about the users of their product. It seems to me that this leads inescapably to the conclusion that software engineers do have a relationship of confidence with the user, and that this therefore creates a fiduciary duty.

Of course, as Dale M points out, nobody has ever persuaded a judge that software developers owe a fiduciary duty, and its likely that in practice its going to be a hard sell. But to go back to the example at the top, I think that Bill Sourer, or his employer, did owe a fiduciary duty to those people who ran the questionnaire software he wrote, because they disclosed private information in the expectation of getting honest advice, and the fact that they disclosed it to a program instead of a human makes no difference at all.


Addendum: Scope of duty

This section looks at exactly what the scope of the fiduciary duty is. It doesn't fit within the main text of this essay, so I've put it here.

Fortunately there is no need for a change in the law regarding fiduciary duty. The existence of a fiduciary duty is based on the nature of the relationship between principal and agent, although in some countries specific cases such as company directors are covered by more detailed laws.

First it is necessary to determine exactly who the fiduciary is. So far I have talked about "the software developer", but in practice software is rarely written by a single individual. We have to look at the authority that is directing the effort and deciding what functions will be implemented. If the software is produced by a company then treating the company as the fiduciary would seem to be the best approach, although it might be more appropriate to hold a senior manager liable if they have exceeded their authority.

As for the scope, I'm going to consider the scope of the fiduciary duty imposed on company directors and consider whether an analogous duty should apply to a software developer:

  • Duty of care: for directors this is the duty to inform themselves and take due thought before making a decision.  One might argue that a software developer should have a similar duty of care when writing software, but this is already handled through normal negligence. Elevating the application of normal professional skill to a fiduciary duty is not going to make life better for the users. However there is one area where this might be applied: lack of motive to produce secure software is widely recognised as a significant problem, and is also an area where the "confidence" aspect of fiduciary duty overlaps with a duty of care. Therefore developers who negligently fail to consider security aspects of their software should be considered to have failed in their fiduciary duty.
  • Duty of loyalty: for directors this is the duty not to use their position to further their private interests. For a software developer this is straightforward: the developer should not use their privileged access to the user's computer to further their private interests. So downloading information from the users computer (unless the user explicitly instructs this to happen) should be a breach of fiduciary duty. So would using the processing power or bandwidth owned by the user for the developers own purposes, for instance by mining bitcoins or sending spam.
  • Duty of good faith: the developer should write code that will advance the user's interests and act in accordance with the user's wishes at all times.
  • Duty of confidentiality: if the developer is entrusted with user information, for example because the software interfaces with cloud storage, then this should be held as confidential and not disclosed for the developer's benefit.
  • Duty of prudence: This does not map onto software development.
  • Duty of disclosure: for a director this providing all relevant information to the shareholders. For a software developer, it means completely and honestly documenting what the software does, and particularly drawing attention to any features which a user might reasonably consider against their interests.  Merely putting some general clauses in the license is not sufficient; anything that could reasonably be considered to be contrary to the user's interests should be prominently indicated in a way that enables the user to prevent it.
One gray area in this is software that is provided in exchange for personal data. Many "free" apps are paid for by advertisers who, in addition to the opportunity to advertise to the user, also pay for data about the users. On one hand, this involves the uploading of personal data that the user may not wish to share, but on the other hand it is done as part of an exchange that the user may be happy with. This comes under the duty of disclosure. The software should inform the user that personal data will be uploaded, and should also provide a detailed log of exactly what has been sent. Thus users can make informed decisions about the value of the information they are sending, and possibly alter their behavior when they know it is being monitored.


    Paper Bits: "Nevertheless, even though political regimes can be overthrown, and ideologies can be criticized and..."

    “Nevertheless, even though political regimes can be overthrown, and ideologies can be criticized and disowned, behind a regime and its ideology there is always a way of thinking and feeling, a group of cultural habits, of obscure instincts and unfathomable drives.”

    - Ur-Fascism

    Perlsphere: Perl 6 By Example: Formatting a Sudoku Puzzle

    This blog post is part of my ongoing project to write a book about Perl 6.

    If you're interested, please sign up for the mailing list at the bottom of the article, or here. It will be low volume (less than an email per month, on average).


    As a gentle introduction to Perl 6, let's consider a small task that I recently encountered while pursuing one of my hobbies.

    Sudoku is a number-placement puzzle played on a grid of 9x9 cells, subdivided into blocks of 3x3. Some of the cells are filled out with numbers from 1 to 9, some are empty. The objective of the game is to fill out the empty cells so that in each row, column and 3x3 block, each digit from 1 to 9 occurs exactly once.

    An efficient storage format for a Sudoku is simply a string of 81 characters, with 0 for empty cells and the digits 1 to 9 for pre-filled cells. The task I want to solve is to bring this into a friendlier format.

    The input could be:

    000000075000080094000500600010000200000900057006003040001000023080000006063240000
    

    On to our first Perl 6 program:

    # file sudoku.p6
    use v6;
    my $sudoku = '000000075000080094000500600010000200000900057006003040001000023080000006063240000';
    for 0..8 -> $line-number {
        say substr $sudoku, $line-number * 9, 9;
    }
    

    You can run it like this:

    $ perl6 sudoku.p6
    000000075
    000080094
    000500600
    010000200
    000900057
    006003040
    001000023
    080000006
    063240000
    

    There's not much magic in there, but let's go through the code one line at a time.

    The first line, starting with a # is a comment that extends to the end of the line.

    use v6;
    

    This line is not strictly necessary, but good practice anyway. It declares the Perl version you are using, here v6, so any version of the Perl 6 language. We could be more specific and say use v6.c; to require exactly the version discussed here. If you ever accidentally run a Perl 6 program through Perl 5, you'll be glad you included this line, because it'll tell you:

    $ perl sudoku.p6
    Perl v6.0.0 required--this is only v5.22.1, stopped at sudoku.p6 line 1.
    BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at sudoku.p6 line 1.
    

    instead of the much more cryptic

    syntax error at sudoku.p6 line 4, near "for 0"
    Execution of sudoku.p6 aborted due to compilation errors.
    

    The first interesting line is

    my $sudoku = '00000007500...';
    

    my declares a lexical variable. It is visible from the point of the declaration to the end of the current scope, which means either to the end of the current block delimited by curly braces, or to the end of the file if it's outside any block. As it is in this example.

    Variables start with a sigil, here a '$'. Sigils are what gave Perl the reputation of being line noise, but there is signal in the noise. The $ looks like an S, which stands for scalar. If you know some math, you know that a scalar is just a single value, as opposed to a vector or even a matrix.

    The variable doesn't start its life empty, because there's an initialization right next to it. The value it starts with is a string literal, as indicated by the quotes.

    Note that there is no need to declare the type of the variable beyond the very vague "it's a scalar" implied by the sigil. If we wanted, we could add a type constraint:

    my Str $sudoku = '00000007500...';
    

    But when quickly prototyping, I tend to forego type constraints, because I often don't know yet how exactly the code will work out.

    The actual logic happens in the next lines, by iterating over the line numbers 0 to 8:

    for 0..8 -> $line-number {
        ...
    }
    

    The for loop has the general structure for ITERABLE BLOCK. Here the iterable is a range, and the block is a pointy block. The block starts with ->, which introduces a signature. The signature tells the compiler what arguments the blocks expects, here a single scalar called $line-number.

    Perl 6 allows to use a dash - or a single quote ' inside identifier, as long as there is a letter on both sides (to disambiguate it from subtraction).

    Again, type constraints are optional. If you chose to include them, it would be for 0..9 -> Int $line-number { ... }.

    $line-number is again a lexical variable, and visible inside the block that comes after the signature. Blocks are delimited by curly braces.

    say substr $sudoku, $line-number * 9, 9;
    

    Both say and substr are functions provided by the Perl 6 standard library. substr($string, $start, $chars) extracts a substring of (up to) $chars characters length from $string, starting from index $start. Oh, and indexes are zero-based in Perl 6.

    say then prints this substring, followed by a line break.

    As you can see from the example, function invocations don't need parenthesis, though you can add them if you want:

    say substr($sudoku, $line-number * 9, 9);
    

    or even

    say(substr($sudoku, $line-number * 9, 9));
    

    Making the Sudoku playable

    As the output of our script stands now, you can't play the resulting Sudoku even if you printed it, because all those pesky zeros get in your way of actually entering the numbers you carefully deduce while solving the puzzle.

    So, let's substitute each 0 with a blank:

    # file sudoku.p6
    use v6;
    
    my $sudoku = '000000075000080094000500600010000200000900057006003040001000023080000006063240000';
    $sudoku = $sudoku.trans('0' => ' ');
    
    for 0..8 -> $line-number {
        say substr $sudoku, $line-number * 9, 9;
    }
    

    trans is a method of the Str class. Its argument is a Pair. The boring way to create a Pair would be Pair.new('0', ' '), but since it's so commonly used, there is a shortcut in the form of the fat arrow, =>. The method trans replaces each occurrence of they pair's key with the pair's value, and returns the resulting string.

    Speaking of shortcuts, you can also shorten $sudoku = $sudoku.trans(...) to $sudoku.=trans(...). This is a general pattern that turns methods that return a result into mutators.

    With the new string substitution, the result is playable, but ugly:

    $ perl6 sudoku.p6
           75
        8  94
       5  6  
     1    2  
       9   57
      6  3 4 
      1    23
     8      6
     6324    
    

    A bit ASCII art makes it bearable:

    +---+---+---+
    |   | 1 |   |
    |   |   |79 |
    | 9 |   | 4 |
    +---+---+---+
    |   |  4|  5|
    |   |   | 2 |
    |3  | 29|18 |
    +---+---+---+
    |  4| 87|2  |
    |  7|  2|95 |
    | 5 |  3|  8|
    +---+---+---+
    

    To get the vertical dividing lines, we need to sub-divide the lines into smaller chunks. And since we already have one occurrence of dividing a string into smaller strings of a fixed size, it's time to encapsulate it into a function:

    sub chunks(Str $s, Int $chars) {
        gather for 0 .. $s.chars / $chars - 1 -> $idx {
            take substr($s, $idx * $chars, $chars);
        }
    }
    
    for chunks($sudoku, 9) -> $line {
        say chunks($line, 3).join('|');
    }
    

    The output is:

    $ perl6 sudoku.p6
       |   | 75
       | 8 | 94
       |5  |6  
     1 |   |2  
       |9  | 57
      6|  3| 4 
      1|   | 23
     8 |   |  6
     63|24 |   
    

    But how did it work? Well, sub (SIGNATURE) BLOCK declares a subroutine, short sub. Here I declare it to take two arguments, and since I tend to confuse the order of arguments to functions I call, I've added type constraints that make it very likely that Perl 6 catches the error for me.

    gather and take work together to create a list. gather is the entry point, and each execution of take adds one element to the list. So

    gather {
        take 1;
        take 2;
    }
    

    would return the list 1, 2. Here gather acts as a statement prefix, which means it collects all takes from within the for loop.

    A subroutine returns the value from the last expression, which here is the gather for ... thing discussed above.

    Coming back to the program, the for-loop now looks like this:

    for chunks($sudoku, 9) -> $line {
        say chunks($line, 3).join('|');
    }
    

    So first the program chops up the full Sudoku string into lines of nine characters, and then for each line, again into a list of three strings of three characters length. The join method turns it back into a string, but with pipe symbols inserted between the chunks.

    There are still vertical bars missing at the start and end of the line, which can easily be hard-coded by changing the last line:

        say '|', chunks($line, 3).join('|'), '|';
    

    Now the output is

    |   |   | 75|
    |   | 8 | 94|
    |   |5  |6  |
    | 1 |   |2  |
    |   |9  | 57|
    |  6|  3| 4 |
    |  1|   | 23|
    | 8 |   |  6|
    | 63|24 |   |
    

    Only the horizontal lines are missing, which aren't too hard to add:

    my $separator = '+---+---+---+';
    my $index = 0;
    for chunks($sudoku, 9) -> $line {
        if $index++ %% 3 {
            say $separator;
        }
        say '|', chunks($line, 3).join('|'), '|';
    }
    say $separator;
    

    Et voila:

    +---+---+---+
    |   |   | 75|
    |   | 8 | 94|
    |   |5  |6  |
    +---+---+---+
    | 1 |   |2  |
    |   |9  | 57|
    |  6|  3| 4 |
    +---+---+---+
    |  1|   | 23|
    | 8 |   |  6|
    | 63|24 |   |
    +---+---+---+
    

    There are two new aspects here: the if conditional, which structurally very much resembles the for loop. The second new aspect is the divisibility operator, %%. From other programming languages you probably know % for modulo, but since $number % $divisor == 0 is such a common pattern, $number %% $divisor is Perl 6's shortcut for it.

    Shortcuts, Constants, and more Shortcuts

    Perl 6 is modeled after human languages, which have some kind of compression scheme built in, where commonly used words tend to be short, and common constructs have shortcuts.

    As such, there are lots of ways to write the code more succinctly. The first is basically cheating, because the sub chunks can be replaced by a built-in method in the Str class, comb:

    # file sudoku.p6
    use v6;
    
    my $sudoku = '000000075000080094000500600010000200000900057006003040001000023080000006063240000';
    $sudoku = $sudoku.trans: '0' => ' ';
    
    my $separator = '+---+---+---+';
    my $index = 0;
    for $sudoku.comb(9) -> $line {
        if $index++ %% 3 {
            say $separator;
        }
        say '|', $line.comb(3).join('|'), '|';
    }
    say $separator;
    

    The if conditional can be applied as a statement postfix:

    say $separator if $index++ %% 3;
    

    Except for the initialization, the variable $index is used only once, so there's no need to give it name. Yes, Perl 6 has anonymous variables:

    my $separator = '+---+---+---+';
    for $sudoku.comb(9) -> $line {
        say $separator if $++ %% 3;
        say '|', $line.comb(3).join('|'), '|';
    }
    say $separator;
    

    Since $separator is a constant, we can declare it as one:

    `constant $separator = '+---+---+---+';
    

    If you want to reduce the line noise factor, you can also forego the sigil, so constant separator = '...'.

    Finally there is a another syntax for method calls with arguments: instead of $obj.method(args) you can say $obj.method: args, which brings us to the idiomatic form of the small Sudoku formatter:

    # file sudoku.p6
    use v6;
    
    my $sudoku = '000000075000080094000500600010000200000900057006003040001000023080000006063240000';
    $sudoku = $sudoku.trans: '0' => ' ';
    
    constant separator = '+---+---+---+';
    for $sudoku.comb(9) -> $line {
        say separator if $++ %% 3;
        say '|', $line.comb(3).join('|'), '|';
    }
    say separator;
    

    IO and other Tragedies

    A practical script doesn't contain its input as a hard-coded string literal, but reads it from the command line, standard input or a file.

    If you want to read the Sudoku from the command line, you can declare a subroutine called MAIN, which gets all command line arguments passed in:

    # file sudoku.p6
    use v6;
    
    constant separator = '+---+---+---+';
    
    sub MAIN($sudoku) {
        my $substituted = $sudoku.trans: '0' => ' ';
    
        for $substituted.comb(9) -> $line {
            say separator if $++ %% 3;
            say '|', $line.comb(3).join('|'), '|';
        }
        say separator;
    }
    

    This is how it's called:

    $ perl6-m sudoku-format-08.p6 000000075000080094000500600010000200000900057006003040001000023080000006063240000
    +---+---+---+
    |   |   | 75|
    |   | 8 | 94|
    |   |5  |6  |
    +---+---+---+
    | 1 |   |2  |
    |   |9  | 57|
    |  6|  3| 4 |
    +---+---+---+
    |  1|   | 23|
    | 8 |   |  6|
    | 63|24 |   |
    +---+---+---+
    

    And you even get a usage message for free if you use it wrongly, for example by omitting the argument:

    $ perl6-m sudoku.p6 
    Usage:
      sudoku.p6 <sudoku> 
    

    You might have noticed that the last example uses a separate variable for the substituted Sudoku string.This is because function parameters (aka variables declared in a signature) are read-only by default. Instead of creating a new variable, I could have also written sub MAIN($sudoku is copy) { ... }.

    Classic UNIX programs such as cat and wc, follow the convention of reading their input from file names given on the command line, or from the standard input if no file names are given on the command line.

    If you want your program to follow this convention, lines() provides a stream of lines from either of these source:

    # file sudoku.p6
    use v6;
    
    constant separator = '+---+---+---+';
    
    for lines() -> $sudoku {
        my $substituted = $sudoku.trans: '0' => ' ';
    
        for $substituted.comb(9) -> $line {
            say separator if $++ %% 3;
            say '|', $line.comb(3).join('|'), '|';
        }
        say separator;
    }
    

    Get Creative!

    You won't learn a programming language from reading a blog, you have to actually use it, tinker with it. If you want to expand on the examples discussed earlier, I'd encourage you to try to produce Sudokus in different output formats.

    SVG offers a good ratio of result to effort. This is the rough skeleton of an SVG file for a Sudoku:

    <?xml version="1.0" standalone="no"?>
    <!DOCTYPE svg PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD SVG 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/1.1/DTD/svg11.dtd">
    <svg width="304" height="304" version="1.1"
    xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg">
        <line x1="0" x2="300" y1="33.3333" y2="33.3333" style="stroke:grey" />
        <line x1="0" x2="300" y1="66.6667" y2="66.6667" style="stroke:grey" />
        <line x1="0" x2="303" y1="100" y2="100" style="stroke:black;stroke-width:2" />
        <line x1="0" x2="300" y1="133.333" y2="133.333" style="stroke:grey" />
        <!-- more horizontal lines here -->
    
        <line y1="0" y2="300" x1="33.3333" x2="33.3333" style="stroke:grey" />
        <!-- more vertical lines here -->
    
    
        <text x="43.7333" y="124.5"> 1 </text>
        <text x="43.7333" y="257.833"> 8 </text>
        <!-- more cells go here -->
        <rect width="304" height="304" style="fill:none;stroke-width:1;stroke:black;stroke-width:6"/>
    </svg>
    

    If you have a Firefox or Chrome browser, you can use it to open the SVG file.

    If you are adventurous, you could also write a Perl 6 program that renders the Sudoku as a Postscript (PS) or Embedded Postscript document. It's also a text-based format.

    Subscribe to the Perl 6 book mailing list

    * indicates required

    Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Sell your bonds?

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    RYAN  By Guest Blogger Ryan Lewenza

    With our expectations for a Fed rate hike of 25 bps in December, and two more 25 bps hikes in 2017, should clients/investors be selling their bonds? The answer is an emphatic no!

    In my last blog post I highlighted the significant back-up in US government bond yields on expectations that Trump’s policies will lead to higher inflation down the road. For example, the US 10-year Treasury yield has surged 60 bps to 2.40% since the November 8 election day.

    With the back-up in bond yields (and declines in bond prices) we’re once again hearing from the financial media and so-called “experts” that the 35- year bull market in bonds is about to end and that investors should rush out and sell their bond positions before it’s too late.

    If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this in recent years I would have about $25 or just enough to buy a Trump “Make America Great Again” hat.

    So Ryan, which is it? You see further Fed rate hikes but continue to recommend exposure to bonds?

    Essentially, we believe interest rates have bottomed and will grind higher over the next few years but believe the Fed will be glacially slow in raising interest rates and see rates remaining low from a historical context. Here’s why.

    First, we see interest rates remaining lower than normal because the US government simply cannot afford significantly higher interest rates given their ballooning US debt load. While the Republicans like to blame the Democrats for the out of control deficits and debt load, the reality is both parties have contributed to the massive US debt load. Under President Bush II, US federal government debt doubled from roughly $5 trillion to $10 trillion, and under President Obama, it doubled again from $10 trillion to the current $19.9 trillion level. Incredible! A couple of wars and a major economic meltdown can add up pretty quickly.

    Now what’s interesting is that the interest expense on this debt as a percentage of the overall US budget has actually declined from roughly 20% in the 1990s to just 10% today. How can this be? The answer is that as government bond yields have declined to historic lows, this has more than offset the impact from the dramatic rise in debt over this time.

    With the US government owing nearly $20 trillion, if interest rates were to jump materially from their current low levels this would dramatically increase interest servicing costs, putting serious stress on the US budget and spending programs. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects interest costs to rise 250% from current levels if the 10-year yield rises to 4% by 2026. By 2030 they see interest costs representing over 14% of the federal budget versus 10% today, and rising further in future years. Given this, and the fact that the US population is aging, which will only add to increased costs in the coming years, the US government can simply not afford significantly higher interest rates, which we believe will help to keep them well anchored at historically low levels.

    US Gov’t Interest Expenses Have Declined With Low Rates

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    Source: Bloomberg, Turner Investments

    The second reason we see US (and Canadian) interest rates remaining relatively low is that they are approaching “fair value” based on our model for forecasting interest rates. I’m going to get a bit geeky here but I built a financial model using different inputs (e.g., inflation, economic activity), that has helped explain/predict the level of the US 10-year government bond yield. My model, which has a high level of predictability (high R-squared for you quant geeks), currently suggests “fair value” for the US 10-year yield of 3% compared to current levels of 2.4%. So, we see interest rates rising a bit further from current levels but for the US 10-year to be capped around 3% over the next year.

    Turner Bond Model Suggests 3% 'Fair Value' US 10-Yr Yield

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    Source: Bloomberg, Turner Investments

    Finally, another important reason why we see interest rates remaining low is due to the aging demographics in the US and across the developed nations. Economic growth over the long-run is driven by two key factors – population growth and productivity gains. Both of these factors are in decline, in large part due to our aging population. Below I illustrate this with US population growth declining from 1.7% annually in 1960s, to 1.4% in mid-1990s, to just 0.7% today, according to The World Bank.

    The simple fact is that while Garth Turner can continue to pump out six meaty blog posts a week, many of his contemporaries are just not as productive as us 40-year olds, or those pesky millennials. A millennial these days can order a low fat mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks, pay a bill on their mobile phone, upload pictures from the previous night’s dinner at some trendy restaurant on Instagram, and try to save the world all at the same time! I can barely write this blog and drink my Earl Grey tea without spilling it all over myself.

    So millennials, the next time you want to blame your parents and grandparents for leaving this world and the future in worse shape than their parents, remember to thank them for being old and them greatly contributing to the current record low interest rates that are allowing you to lever up and buy that million dollar home.

    Sorry I went on a rant there, but to conclude, we see interest rates slowly grinding higher over the next 1-2 years, but see them remaining low from a historical perspective, and why we believe investors should not rush out and sell all their bond holdings. They continue to be important in portfolios as they help to provide balance and stability, while also providing a little insurance just in case the millennials are correct that the world is going down the tubes.

    Declining Population Growth Should Help Anchor Rates

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    Source: Bloomberg, Turner Investments
    Ryan Lewenza, CFA,CMT is a Partner and Portfolio Manager with Turner Investments, and a Senior Vice President, Private Client Group, of Raymond James Ltd.

    All Content: An Emotional Journey: "Jackie" Gets a Special Screening in Washington, D.C.

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    First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy returned to Washington, D.C., on Thursday night, thanks to the magic of the movies. Bigwigs—both the Hollywood kind as well as those who hail from politics, journalism and the military—came out for a premiere of the expected awards contender that features Natalie Portman in the lead role. Many probably turned out just for the chance to see the 2010 Best Actress Oscar winner for “Black Swan,” unmistakably pregnant with her second child as she dutifully worked the press line and posed for photos at the Newseum. 

    Jackie” is a revealing intimate portrait of how JFK’s widow coped with grief—both hers and the country’s—in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. When I had seen the film at an earlier showing before the recent presidential election, the events shown onscreen re-awakened memories of not being much older than 35th president’s daughter Caroline and son John Jr. as I observed their reactions beside their mother during this tragic period. Like everyone else, my family was fixated on the news coverage on the Big Three TV networks, especially the solemn funeral procession through the streets of the Nation’s Capital. The big-screen re-enactment, shot on location last winter, brought back that sense of heavy sadness and loss of innocence that I felt as a kid.

    But watching the same movie post-election a little more than a mile away from where President Obama and his family were lighting the White House holiday tree on the Ellipse for the eighth and final time, the film stirred a different type of unsettled feeling, one that often accompanies great change and facing the unknown.

    The screening sponsored by Fox Searchlight and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, along with the Motion Picture Association of America attracted a packed bi-partisan audience including former Attorney General Eric Holder, Ambassador Peter Selfridge and senators Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, and Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut. Eleven members of the House of Representatives also were in the auditorium alongside such notable journalists as Maureen Dowd, Sally Quinn, Nina Totenberg and Howard Fineman.

    In his intro, Rick Lane—senior VP of government affairs for 21st Century Fox—saluted the late Jack Valenti, who was a special assistant to JFK’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, describing him as a close friend and mentor when he later became head of the MPAA from 1966 to 2004. As played by “Jackie” actor Max Casella, who was in attendance, Valenti comes off as an aggressive LBJ loyalist and not entirely likable as he butts heads with Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard) and, to a lesser extent, the now-former First Lady over when the itching-to-take-charge newly sworn-in president could occupy the Oval Office.

    In fact, the biggest laugh during the screening came when Bobby tells everyone in a room to sit down after a panic erupts when JFK’s accused shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, is shown being gunned down on TV. President Johnson glares at Kennedy’s brother, scowls and says, “Excuse me?” But Bobby simply repeats his command and Lady Bird Johnson encourages her husband to do as he is told. For most of the running time, however, the crowd was reverently silent—save for their audible surprise and amusement when an implacable Jackie takes charge of a magazine interview and decides the direction it will take.

    Most of the audience stayed for the Q & A session with Portman, director Pablo Larraín and screenwriter and former “Today” show producer Noah Oppenheim conducted by Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus—if only for cellphone photo ops.

    Portman, whose arrival onstage post-screening was greeted with a chorus of loud cheers and hearty applause, discussed the difficulties in bringing to life an iconic figure that had such a distinctive look and voice. “The biggest challenge was playing a character that people know so well. Of course, you have a threshold of believability that you have to achieve before people will go with you on an emotional journey. To look great, to sound great, it takes a lot of work."

    When Marcus noted that the actress had a lot of voice coaching and that “there was a lot of eyebrow work,” Portman laughed and said, “Pablo was always telling me not to use my eyebrows quite so much. He was always like, ‘Calm down with the eyebrows.’"

    As for what surprises she discovered about Jackie, “The biggest shock for me was from Noah’s script, which was obviously well-researched. This idea that she had really crafted the myth of this Camelot”—inspired by JFK’s love of the Broadway musical based on King Arthur that was popular during his time in office.

    As a native of Chile, Larraín says he didn’t grow up knowing the Kennedy myth. “It wasn’t in history books. It was on TV. What you knew about the Kennedys is from pop culture. I had a very superficial idea about Jackie Kennedy before this movie. I thought she was just this fashion icon. And I had no idea how interesting and sophisticated she was.”

    Oppenheim, on the other hand, was fascinated with Jackie Kennedy since he was a kid. “My mom admired her and saved all the newspapers and magazines from the period. I would leaf through them when I visited my grandmother. As I got older, I was always reading material about the Kennedys at this period of time. I was very lucky that Chris Matthews [host of MSNBC’s “Hardball”] gave me my first job out of college here in Washington. He is obviously a brilliant Kennedy historian and has written several books about them. My fascination only grew then.”

    As for his script, “I wanted to tell a side of the story no one had ever heard before and I always thought, as Pablo said, people have a superficial familiarity with Jackie. But I think most people don’t appreciate the role that she played in determining how we now remember her and her husband, and her political savvy and her really early appreciation of the power of television, imagery and iconography in terms of influencing our politics. That came through in the 'Camelot' interview she gave a week after the assassination, it becomes a nice bookend and a frame I used to write the script.”

    However, that Jackie was the architect behind the link between Camelot and JFK was also news to him. “Like Natalie, I had assumed for many years that label had been applied to the Kennedy era from the time he had been campaigning. Certainly, from the time he was elected and during his administration. But she invented the 'Camelot' comparison in this one particular interview for Life magazine. To secure her husband’s legacy, she could have rattled off all his various policy accomplishments but, instead she references a Broadway musical, an Arthurian legend, and that is what sticks in people’s minds for decades and will live forever.”

    Asked about how Jackie transformed the role of being a presidential spouse, Portman observed, “After Eleanor Roosevelt, she certainly was one of the first to have a real agenda as a first lady. To think that they were only in the White House for a little over two years and she undertook this historical house restoration, which was such an enormous project, and she had also just had a child. She gave birth before the inauguration."

    Portman then shared one of Jackie Kennedy’s favorite stories about what happened when her predecessor, Mamie Eisenhower, gave her a tour of the White House. “They took her wheelchair away and it was just a day or two after she had a C-section. They made her walk around the White House for hours. She said [in her breathy Jackie voice], ‘I don’t think that was very nice of her.’”

    While Marcus took some questions from the audience, she cautioned that the panel was trying to avoid commenting on “certain recent events.” With that in mind, the first inquiry was, “Now that you know everything about being a first lady, what advice would you give any imaginary first lady, including but not limited to Melania Trump?” Portman gave it a try and went for gallows humor. “Don’t ride in a convertible in a motorcade?” Somewhat uncomfortable laughter followed.

    Colossal: Cloud-Like Explosions Photographed in Midair by Ken Hermann

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    For his latest photographic series Explosion2.0, Copenhagen-based photographer Ken Hermann went big. Partnering with a pyrotechnics expert, he captured this series of suspended explosions illuminated with a strobe light that seem to hover in the air like clouds. Each image is all the more mysterious because the origins of each detonation are obscured, as if the blasts were spontaneous. Explosion2.0 is the second in a series of photos that began with some slightly less controlled blasts in part 1. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

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    Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A Better Family



    Hovertext:
    But seriously, if you know anyone who could deliver that, I still have a few days to live.

    New comic!
    Today's News:

    Tea Masters: L'esprit du calendrier de l'Avent


    Oolong de FuShou Shan
    Revoilà venu le temps de l'Avent! En décembre dernier, j'avais adoré ouvrir chaque jour une porte de mon calendrier et infuser un bon thé dans l'attente de Noël. J'ai appris aux infos que cette tradition allemande se pratique de plus en plus en France. Autrefois, il s'agissait de petits chocolats, maintenant on trouve tous les produits (bière, cosmétiques...). Une grande enseigne française propose même un calendrier avec un sachet de thé différent chaque jour!
    Mais s'il y a bien quelque chose dont j'ai appris à me méfier avec l'âge, ce sont les jolis emballages et les opérations marketing. La qualité du produit est rarement bonne quand prime les apparences. L'encre, le plastique et le carton sont bien plus simples et moins chères à produire que de bonnes feuilles de thé.
    L'important est dans la tasse. Et la meilleure décoration celle qu'on crée soi-même, en famille ou avec ses amis.

    Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.12.03

    New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

    Penny Arcade: News Post: Nominative Determinism

    Tycho: We’ve been Twitching constantly lately, but we’ve also been streaming games and other stuff from the office.  I’m hooked on it.  Wild dogs couldn’t drag me away.  Well, they probably could.  I guess it depends on how many wild dogs.  In truth, any value for wildDogs over 1 is probably a deal breaker.  But I do like hanging out on there, and hopefully it provides some subtle nutrient for those who gather there. We’ve played Shadow of Mordor: Game of the Year Edition (GOTYE…?) the last couple times.  It’s not new or…

    TheSirensSound: New single - Don't Yah Feel Better? by The Velveteins

    TheSirensSound: New EP - Losing Landscapes by Chelsey and the Noise

    Perlsphere: Getopt modules 03: Getopt::Long::Descriptive

    About this mini-article series. Each day for 24 days, I will be reviewing a module that parses command-line options (such module is usually under the Getopt::* namespace). First article is here.

    Note that from this day on, all the reviewed modules are non-core since only Getopt::Std and Getopt::Long are core modules. The choice of using these modules must take into account this factor, as your user must bear an additional cost of installing the module from CPAN (unless your application bundles the module).

    Some of these modules are wrappers for Getopt::Long, either because the author wants to offer a different interface and/or add some missing features. Some of the modules are higher-level: they are more than mere option parsing modules, usually a CLI framework.

    Among the missing features often added is the ability to generate usage message (and the other common one is the ability to parse commands/subcommands). When using Getopt::Long, one already specifies a list of options. But there is no way to add a summary string for each option, making it impossible to create a useful/nice usage message. The modules solve this problem either by allowing user to specify the per-option summary string, or using/parsing user-supplied usage text/POD.

    Getopt::Long::Descriptive is one such module: it allows you to specify per-option summary string, as well as default value for an option and whether an option is required. Judging from the number of reverse dependencies, Getopt::Long::Descriptive is the fourth most popular option parsing module on CPAN with 64 reverse dependencies (after Getopt::Long with 1127, Getopt::Std with 167, and MooseX::Getopt with 134). I also have actually reviewed Getopt::Long::Descriptive in one of my Perinci::CmdLine tutorial posts.

    Aside my minor nitpick as described in the linked post, there are two additional notes: Getopt::Long::Descriptive depends on another non-core module Sub::Exporter, and its startup is ~twice that of Getopt::Long:

    | participant               | time (ms) | mod_overhead_time (ms) |
    |—————————+———–+————————|
    | Getopt::Long::Descriptive | 36 | 33.9 |
    | Getopt::Long | 15 | 12.9 |
    | Getopt::Std | 3.8 | 1.7 |
    | perl -e1 (baseline) | 2.1 | 0 |

    Not that this should be a concern to most. If you use Getopt::Long, Getopt::Long::Descriptive is pretty recommended.

    Tab completion. if you have a Getopt::Long::Descriptive-based CLI script, your users can now also use shcompgen to get tab completion, because shcompgen now supports detecting Getopt::Long::Descriptive-based scripts and activating tab completion for such scripts. In shells like fish and zsh, the description for each option will even be shown.


    Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Surprise

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    Another day. More reasons to fret about the future value of your home. They’re coming faster and furiouser than Vin Diesel flicks.

    And then there were but two…
    National Bank has just pulled out of the mortgage brokerage business, leaving only two major banks (Scotia and TD, for now) willing to fund home loans through the broker channel. The move seems a direct result of Wild Bill Morneau’s draconian moves to tighten up on lending, reduce loans to certain borrowers (kids, the self-employed, amateur landlords) and try to wrestle the gasping, bloated real estate gasbag softly back to earth before it blows up the entire deplorables class.

    It’s “a stinging blow” says the leading mortgage brokerage site, and although National will continue for the time being to offer money through a third-party provider (Paradigm Quest), but this is no vote of confidence in the entire residential real estate scene.

    “Anything but normal.” Ya think?….
    Blood continues to seep out of Vancouver houses and rivulet down the gutters. The latest sales numbers are just as bad as the ones published last month. On Friday the Van board announced a 37.2% plop in deals during November, coming after a 38.8% rout in October. Ouch.

    “While 2016 has been anything but a normal year for the Metro Vancouver housing market,” said cartel boss Dan Morrison, practicing for his gig at Yuk Yuk’s, “supply and demand totals have returned to more historically normal levels over the last few months.”

    The average detached house price has dropped in price by just over $200,000 now. Last month the benchmark was down 2.2% from the previous month (26% annualized), and sales have collapsed 52% from this time one year ago. In the entire region, only 638 changed hands. Still working on his routine, Mr. Morrison put on his clown shoes and said, “detached homes are seeing modest month-over-month declines.”

    “Wait and see” time in the Big Smoke…
    Despite rising prices and a paucity of listings, some Toronto realtors are trying to frame news of the inevitable declines to come. “The urgency seems to be seeping out of Toronto’s real estate market as the year comes to a close,” reported Canada’s national house porn journal, the Globe and Mail, as the week ended.

    “I think people have frankly gone into a ‘wait and see’ mode,” agent Janet Lindsay says. The reasons are simple, obvious. Trump. The bond market. Mortgage crackdown. And unsustainable prices in the GTA, where the average suburban house is now almost a million. There’s something in the air. Not snow.

    Well, so much for that bronco…
    Poor Cowtown. Things were looking so frisky for a month or two as house sales popped higher, breaking a year-long string of losses. But, alas, we are gelded once again. “The gains in last month’s sales were temporary,” says CREB chief economist Ann-Marie Laurie. “Stringent conditions for borrowers are converging with the current economic climate and weighing on demand.”

    She means Wild Bill’s new rules, combined with 21,000 lost jobs, apoplectic landlords and tumbleweeds rivalling cars in downtown Calgary. Property sales last month were 17% below long-term averages with prices running about 4% less than year-ago levels. For the first time in almost three years the typical detached house is changing hands for less than $500,000.

    Just eleven more sleeps…
    After the latest US job stats, there’s no doubt American interest rates will be heading higher on December 14th. Close to 180,000 new hires came on stream, with the unemployment rate falling to 4.6%. Given American (and Canadian) demographics and a huge wave of retiring Boomers, this is now considered full employment.

    Combine that with the bond market massacre since that goofy billionaire was elected, a stock market surge, looming tax cuts, inflationary government stimulus spending, raging greenback and an outbreak of trade protectionism, and you have the perfect storm for the rising cost of money. The Fed will move next month and (markets believe) twice more in 2017. Given Canada’s better job numbers and GDP growth, plus steamy bond yields, the next Bank of Canada move will be up, not down.

    Well, that’s today’s news. Join me for a scotch? Or three?

    Paper Bits: How To Fight Fascism

    How To Fight Fascism

    Open Culture: 29 Lists of Recommended Books Created by Well-Known Authors, Artists & Thinkers: Jorge Luis Borges, Patti Smith, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, David Bowie & More

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    Creative Commons image of Austrian National Library by Matl

    At any given moment many of us can recommend a list of books to read. Books that have imprinted on us, named emotions we didn’t know we had, carved trails through our brains. Books that stand as a testament to a life lived as a reader. We may construct lists to pass on to a curious niece, nephew, son, daughter, student, or apprentice. “Life is perplexing,” we might say, “complex, wondrous, curious, painful, open to unimaginable possibilities. Read these, then go out and find the books that inspire, soothe, guide, challenge, and enlighten you.”

    Of course, as you know from reading this site, we frequently bring you many such lists, from famous writers, artists, musicians, scientists, and other titans of their respective fields who have inspired millions of young students and apprentices. Today, we have compiled a master list of recommended reading lists, from writers like Jorge Luis Borges, musician-poets like Patti Smith, scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, futurists like Stewart Brand, and many, many more.

    In fact, we have two lists from Borges, both predictably lengthy and eccentric. The first contains 33 books that could start a fictional Library of Babel, among which we find Jack London and Herman Melville alongside occult English writer Arthur Machen and Qing Dynasty Chinese writer Pu Songling. Borges’ second list spans 74 titles, and was intended, before his death, to expand to 100. Patti Smith also recommends Melville in her list, as well as Mikhail Bulgakov, Louisa May Alcott, and her hero, Arthur Rimbaud. Tyson’s list is short, only 8 titles, and he suggests these books not only for the avid reader but—in answer to a Redditor’s question—for “every single intelligent person on the planet.”

    And Stewart Brand? Well, his list of 76 books is one of many such lists (including another one from Brian Eno) for his Long Now Foundation’s “Manual for Civilization,” a library meant to inspire and inform the few intelligent people left on Earth in the event of catastrophic collapse.

    Find the complete list of lists above. 28 in total. In some cases, the titles in each post link to online text or audio books freely available online. And, separately, you should not miss our list of 74 essential books recommended by “a group of international women writers, artists and curators.”  Please let us know in the comments if there are any especially good lists not mentioned here–ones you think our readers would do well to consult.

    Related Content:

    What Books Could Be Used to Rebuild Civilization?: Lists by Brian Eno, Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly & Other Forward-Thinking Minds

    “Tsundoku,” the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language

    74 Essential Books for Your Personal Library: A List Curated by Female Creatives

    100 Novels All Kids Should Read Before Leaving High School

    Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

    29 Lists of Recommended Books Created by Well-Known Authors, Artists & Thinkers: Jorge Luis Borges, Patti Smith, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, David Bowie & More is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

    Colossal: 360° Earth and the Moon Book by Yusuke Oono

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    Book designer Yusuke Oono creates small books that unfold into 360° scenes revealing everything from fairy tales to high-end vehicles. His latest creation is a laser-cut Earth and Moon surrounded by clouds, stars, UFOs and other orbiting objects. Oono was born in Germany and was trained as an architect at the University of Tokyo, lending his design skills and understanding of materials to the concept of his innovative sculpture books.

    The Earth & Moon book is now available in the Colossal Shop. Also check out his lovely Mt. Fuji book.

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    Colossal: An ‘Infinite’ Galaxy Puzzle That Can Be Built in Any Direction

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    The team over at Nervous System recently designed this fun Infinite Galaxy Puzzle that tiles continuously in any direction. Pieces from the top can be removed and added to the bottom, and likewise from side to side. So regardless of where you start the puzzle can continue in a seemingly infinite series of patterns. Each puzzle is printed with satellite imagery obtained from NASA and includes a few themed pieces like an astronaut, shuttle, and satellite. Apparently the puzzles were wildly popular and are now available as a pre-order for 2017. (via My Modern Met)

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    puzzle-4

    puzzle-5

    OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: While finding the humor in our inevitable demise... (From the OVC Archive!)


    Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Law of Social Media



    Hovertext:
    The other way to solve this paradox is to note that barbers don't shave people anymore.

    New comic!
    Today's News:

    God plushies exist! We only made 1,000 of these, so buy soon if you want one!

     

    Penny Arcade: Comic: Nominative Determinism

    New Comic: Nominative Determinism

    Blog – free electrons: Buildroot 2016.11 released, Free Electrons contributions

    Buildroot LogoThe 2016.11 release of Buildroot has been published on November, 30th. The release announcement, by Buildroot maintainer Peter Korsgaard, gives numerous details about the new features and updates brought by this release. This new release provides support for using multiple BR2_EXTERNAL directories, gives some important updates to the toolchain support, adds default configurations for 9 new hardware platforms, and 38 new packages were added.

    On a total of 1423 commits made for this release, Free Electrons contributed a total of 253 commits:

    $ git shortlog -sn --author=free-electrons 2016.08..2016.11
       142  Gustavo Zacarias
       104  Thomas Petazzoni
         7  Romain Perier
    

    Here are the most important contributions we did:

    • Romain Perier contributed a package for the AMD Catalyst proprietary driver. Such drivers are usually not trivial to integrate, so having a ready-to-use package in Buildroot will really make it easier for Buildroot users who use hardware with an AMD/ATI graphics controller. This package provides both the X.org driver and the OpenGL implementation. This work was sponsored by one of Free Electrons customer.
    • Gustavo Zacarias mainly contributed a large set of patches that do a small update to numerous packages, to make sure the proper environment variables are passed. This is a preparation change to bring top-level parallel build in Buildroot. This work was also sponsored by another Free Electrons customer.
    • Thomas Petazzoni did contributions in various areas:
      • Added a DEVELOPERS file to the tree, to reference which developers are interested by which architectures and packages. Not only it allows the developers to be Cc’ed when patches are sent on the mailing list (like the get_maintainers script does), but it also used by Buildroot autobuilder infrastructure: if a package fails to build, the corresponding developer is notified by e-mail.
      • Misc updates to the toolchain support: switch to gcc 5.x by default, addition of gcc patches needed to fix various issues, etc.
      • Numerous fixes for build issues detected by Buildroot autobuilders

    In addition to contributing 104 commits, Thomas Petazzoni also merged 1095 patches from other developers during this cycle, in order to help Buildroot maintainer Peter Korsgaard.

    Finally, Free Electrons also sponsored the Buildroot project, by funding the meeting location for the previous Buildroot Developers meeting, which took place in October in Berlin, after the Embedded Linux Conference. See the Buildroot sponsors page, and also the report from this meeting. The next Buildroot meeting will take place after the FOSDEM conference in Brussels.

    Tea Masters: 7542, Pure puerh power

    Enjoying the qi of 7542 raw puerh
    "Ever heard of Cha Chi?" is an article I wrote in 2005 and I've noticed that it continues to be read on a regular basis. New tea drinkers seem to have a hard time to understand this concept of energy felt in the body. It doesn't fit well with Western teachings about biology. Cha qi can sound more esoteric and spiritual than physical when someone tries to explain it.

    So, the best way to learn about Cha Chi (qi) is to first experience it! This is one thought I had today as I was enjoying this wonderfully powerful raw 7542 Menghai puerh from 1997. Even with just a few grams, this cake delivers the effect that so many long for when they are brewing tea.

    All Content: Why Critics Should See Bad Movies

    Thumb_bad-movies-2016-2

    I rush from a fancy office holiday dinner to see “The Ringer,” further delaying my Christmas break. A friend and I head to a crumbling multiplex next to the Garden State Parkway to endure “13th Child: Legend of the Jersey Devil.” I spend a Sunday afternoon, following a week of business travel, at a sneak preview of “Raising Helen.”   

    One of the great, enraging falsehoods about movie critics—or anyone whose opinion goes beyond “it’s cute” or “it wasn’t my thing”—is that we hate movies. Why would anyone waste time, the most valuable commodity, for little to no money to do something they hate?

    Think of a movie released from August 2000 to October 2006 that made you want to punch a wall. There’s a good chance I was there on opening weekend—or soon after—for the (sadly) defunct Filmcritic.com. Every hastily put-together cartoon, low-budget, low-scare horror movie, and ill-advised relaunch was destined for me. I mean, I sat through two Uwe Boll movies. Voluntarily. Many of the site’s writers lived in cities with advance screenings. I lived in event-free Central New Jersey, an hour train-ride away from Manhattan, stuck in jobs with unforgiving hours. I had to take what I could get, like tackling “Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2” and “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” in a single weekend. The most I made for a review, I think, during that time was $12. Even then, I paid for my own tickets. I never felt a moment of remorse.

    A bulk of that era of not-so good feelings I spent as a municipal newspaper reporter and a trade magazine editor, two occupations that flushed creativity from the soul. Bad movies were the IV drip. Maybe they weren’t entertaining, but I felt something. As a thank-you, I would fashion an obituary to remember. I wrote that the only thing saving “Never Die Alone” was “a caring projectionist, a lighter, and a trashcan.” “An American Haunting” was “like spending an afternoon in the world’s lamest haunted house.” If we were going to go down, the band would play full blast.

    I never saw a movie out of spite or to bask in the superiority of a pithy line; the same applies today. When you have 600 words to file in two hours, you quickly learn that straight bile only takes you so far. “The Honeymooners” fails because it has nothing to offer a current audience or fans of the TV show, plus Gabrielle Union (playing Alice Kramden) looks like she hasn’t scrubbed a pan in her life. Boll is a terrible director because his cuts are so abrupt and his camerawork is so shaky he makes Michael Bay look like Fassbinder.

    My experience as a moviegoer improved. I was actually taking a class every time that I saw a bad movie. Explain why this movie is terrible. Find the source of your aggravation, and use as many adjectives as you can. Show your work. Trying to meet the challenge became a treat.

    As someone who loved movies, I knew a surprise could emerge after the lights went down. Being told what to see brought a new intensity because I went in blind nearly every time. It’s all about the chase to find that high—and then sharing it with readers. Sometimes you find it. Sometimes you don’t. I know why so many critics cram in meals between film screenings or stay two to a hotel bed at Sundance. It’s why I happily frittered away sunny weekends and potential happy hours in mall multiplexes.

    The beautiful part of seeing everything was that snobbery wilted and died. No longer constrained by what I wanted to see, I now sought the best experience. The good movies shone brighter. I loved “Freaky Friday” for the deft comedic performances of Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, who teemed with charisma, and its sly humor. I was floored. The poster, with Lohan looking like an intern at “L.A. Law” and Curtis dressed like Avril Lavigne’s mom, promised misery. I filed the lesson away: Dismissing a movie because of its marketing was like writing off the 1998 Yankees because pinstripes aren’t slimming. I got caught up in the bouncy enthusiasm of “Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie,” which was good. The audience reaction made everything better. Kids laughed; a mom, bounced her child on her knee, and sang along with the music. I put myself, childless at the time, in their situation; empathy was added to my critic’s toolbox. Even moments worked. “An American Rhapsody” exposed me to Scarlett Johansson’s poise; “My First Mister” was a showcase for Albert Brooks’ dramatic range; “Just Friends” revealed Anna Faris’ manic comic energy, which the joke-a-minute “Scary Movie” squandered.

    The worst movies, I learned, were contemptible. They offered nothing to savor, only cold, hastily constructed leftovers inspired by better directors or movies. Only they had the gall to expect our respect. “You’re here for two hours,” I could hear a studio executive whisper in my ear. “Who cares if we try?”

    I did. I still do.

    Blog – free electrons: Free Electrons at Linux.conf.au, January 2017

    Linux.conf.au, which takes place every year in January in Australia or New Zealand, is a major event of the Linux community. Free Electrons already participated to this event three years ago, and will participate again to this year’s edition, which will take place from January 16 to January 20 2017 in Hobart, Tasmania.

    Linux Conf Australia 2017

    This time, Free Electrons CTO Thomas Petazzoni will give a talk titled A tour of the ARM architecture and its Linux support, in which he will share with LCA attendees what is the ARM architecture, how its Linux support is working, what the numerous variants of ARM processors and boards mean, what is the Device Tree, the ARM specific bootloaders, and more.

    Linux.conf.au also features a number of other kernel related talks, such as the Kernel Report from Jonathan Corbet, Linux Kernel memory ordering: help arrives at last from Paul E. McKenney. The list of conferences is very impressive, and the event also features a number of miniconfs, including one on the Linux kernel.

    If some of our readers located in Australia, New Zealand or neighboring countries plan on attending the conference, do not hesitate to drop us a mail so that we can meet during the event!

    Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.12.02

    New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

    Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Rear View Mirror: Has the future ever looked like the past?

    It's tempting to think that in order to comprehend the future, we need to know the past, that there are always lessons in history. But is that true anymore? Sailing in the 21st century, perhaps we are in uncharted waters.

    Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): The Orwell Tapes, Part 1 (Encore April 4, 2016)

    He was one of the most influential writers of our time. His name was Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell. Who was the man who gave us 'big brother', 'thoughtcrime', 'doublethink', whose name looms so large in this era of mass surveillance?

    TheSirensSound: New track - Dandelion by Hailey, It Happens

    TheSirensSound: New single - Up To You by Saxsyndrum

    TheSirensSound: New single - Don't Go Away by Stella Rio

    explodingdog: Photo



    Planet Lisp: McCLIM: Progress report #4

    Dear Community,

    During this iteration I have continued to work on the tutorial, improving documentation, working on issues and assuring CLIM II specification compatibility.

    Most notable change is that argument type in define-command is not evaluated (but if it is quoted it still works for backward compatibility reasons). I've also started some refactoring of the frames module implementation.

    The tutorial work takes some time because I try to fix bugs when I encounter them to make the walkthrough as flawless as possible. While I'm not overly satisfied with the tutorial writing progress and its current shape, this work results in benefit of improving the code and the documentation.

    The documentation chapter named "Demos and applications" has been updated to reflect the current state of the code base. Some additional clarifications about the pane order and pane names have been added to it. I've updated the website to include the external tutorials and include the Guided Tour in the Resources section. The manual has been updated as well.

    The rest of the time was spent on peer review of the contributions, merging pull requests, development discussions, questions on IRC and other maintenance tasks.

    Alessandro Serra has created a Raster Image Backend - a backend similar to PostScript, but having png as its output. See "Drawing Tests" in clim-examples and the chapter "Raster Image backend" in the Manual.

    A detailed report is available at:

    https://common-lisp.net/project/mcclim/static/documents/status-reports.org

    If you have any questions, doubts or suggestions - please contact me either with email (daniel@turtleware.eu) or on IRC (my nick is jackdaniel).

    Sincerely yours,
    Daniel Kochmański

    Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: The sucker

    ouch-modified

    When 263 Wright Avenue, in Toronto’s leafy west end, hit the market last Spring, it was sad. Vacant. Neglected. The listing agent said it must sell in an “As is, Where is” state. The pitch: “Attention Builders, Investors And Contractors, An Opportunity To Bring This Gem Back To Its Glory. Private Driveway With Detached Garage.”

    In other words, a beater. But in a good hood. The price: $979,000.

    Well, it sold in seven days. Bidding war. Lots of emotion. Cars lined up down the street on offer night. The final sale price was $1,303,000, or $323,000 over list – a premium of 31%, plus double land transfer tax of $44,320.

    But if you missed out on this tarnished gem the first time, here’s another chance. Six months later it’s for sale all over again. “Attention Builders, Investors And Contractors, An Opportunity To Bring This Gem Back To Its Glory,” says the new listing. “House Being Sold In ‘As Is’ Where Is Condition.”

    In other words, nothing’s changed since it changed hands in the Spring for $1.3 million. Except the price. Now it’s on the market for $999,000. Says an experienced local realtor who shared this with me: “Unless this sells for north of $1.42mm, this sucker will absolutely lose money (and this doesn’t count for carrying costs or a penalty for breaking a mortgage). Either the house was crap (which it is), or they realized there’s no money to be made (also likely true). This is too funny.”

    Well, here it is…

    wright-ave

    So on Thursday Bloomberg ran a story with this headline: “Why 2016 may be the year of ‘Peak Housing’ for Canada.” This proves (a) Bloomberg’s a lot smarter than most Canadian media outlets, probably because (b) they read this blog, which is where ‘peak house’ first appeared (May 31st). So when you read about Moisters visiting TNL@TB in the New York Times, you’ll know.

    Three years ago in Canada there were three bubbly, frothy, horny, outta control housing markets in Canada. Two years ago two were left. Now there’s one. And as more properties like 263 Wright find their way to market, we might be on our way to zero. After all, the arguments against real estate are piling up by the day. TD raised mortgages again yesterday, this time for rental properties and long-am borrowers. The latest onerous regs brought in by Ottawa clicked in this week. CMHC’s boss in recent days has suggested minimum down payments rise, that borrowing should be linked to the income of the borrower and Chinese dudes are not responsible for stupid prices in Vancouver.

    Where have you read those things before?

    Bond yields are backing up and the Fed will be raising its key rate in 13 days. The latest GDP numbers for Canada (much better) guarantee the Bank of Canada’s next rate move will be up, not down. US rates will rise again twice in 2017, observers believe, and Canadian mortgages will swell right along with them. Meanwhile the Moister Street Test is having an impact on first-timers who now qualify to borrow less than they did in September. Up to 20% of them, swear mortgage brokers, will be punted from the marketplace by the new rules.

    Meanwhile sales are down about 40% in VYR, and this week I detailed for you the landlord-rental crisis sweeping Alberta and Saskatchewan (as well as Atlantic Canada). How much evidence is needed to make the obvious, well, obvious?

    So what did Bloomberg mean by peak house now being in the rear view mirror?

    Simple. The economic stats this week were great, with the exception of one thing – a collapse in residential real estate investment. The downturn was the worst since the financial crisis and seems to be based on a sharp decline in the “Audi A7 Index” – in other words, realtor commissions. They were sitting at an elevated level almost identical to that achieved in the US just prior to that country’s housing gasbag rupturing and blowing up the indebted middle class.

    This is interesting:

    “The run-up in residential investment as a whole in years past, and this segment in particular, bears eerie resemblance to what transpired south of the border in the 2000s, Doyle observes. If history repeats itself, moving past this peak in real estate commissions won’t necessarily be a harbinger of imminent doom, but rather an early warning sign that a key driver of economic growth has been tapped out — which could foster more widespread weakness further down the road. Ahead of the U.S. housing bust, the downturn in brokers’ commissions and other ownership transfer costs started in the fourth quarter of 2005, well before the beginning of the financial crisis.”

    peak-modified

    What does it mean? That’s simple, too. Since we’ve allowed real estate to become such a large part of the economy (bigger than all manufacturing, more profound than oil & gas and mining) as property sales and values unwind and the epic household debt remains, things get a lot slower. The dollar takes a hit. Banks, as mentioned here days ago, could lose $17 billion in earnings if houses shed 30% of their value – as happened in Toronto during the last correction.

    By the way, did you hear house prices will drop by 8.7% in Vancouver next year? It means if you own the average detached house, you will see a loss in tax-free equity of $139,000. That prediction was just issued by the BC Real Estate Association, and represents at 14.5% reduction from their last prediction – three months ago.

    Well, if you’re interested in 263 Wright, or taking over an A7 lease, leave your name with the blog concierge.

    new shelton wet/dry: No pain, no gain

    In a mixed-gender group, when women talk 25% of the time or less, it’s seen as being “equally balanced”. If women talk 25–50% of the time, they’re seen as “dominating the conversation” […] A Californian company called Skinny Mirror sells mirrors that make you look thinner. When installed in the changing rooms of clothes shops, they [...]

    new shelton wet/dry: ‘Falsity consists in the privation of knowledge, which inadequate, fragmentary, or confused ideas involve.’ –Spinoza

    Most people strongly believe they are just, virtuous, and moral; yet regard the average person as distinctly less so. This invites accusations of irrationality in moral judgment and perception — but direct evidence of irrationality is absent. Here, we quantify this irrationality and compare it against the irrationality in other domains of positive self-evaluation. […] [...]

    Disquiet: Disquiet Junto Project 0257: Remember Noisevember

    4583863107_cdcc4dc7e5_z

    Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

    Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project.

    This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, December 1, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 5, 2016.

    These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

    Disquiet Junto Project 0257: Remember Noisevember
    Make some noise.

    Step 1: This past month was Noisevember, which is described as “an artistic challenge exercise where the aim is to post sound pieces for every day of the month of November.” There are more details at noisevember.wordpress.com and twitter.com/noisevember.

    Step 2: Noisevember ended yesterday, but why let the calendar get in the way of a good time? For this week’s project, make some noise.

    Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

    Step 1: Per the instructions below, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0257” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

    Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

    Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

    http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0257-remember-noisevember/5549

    Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

    Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

    This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, December 1, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, December 5, 2016.

    Length: The length is up to you, but three to four minutes sounds about right.

    Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0257” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

    Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

    Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

    Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

    More on this 257th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Remember Noisevember: Make some noise” — at:

    http://disquiet.com/0257/

    More on the Disquiet Junto at:

    http://disquiet.com/junto/

    Subscribe to project announcements here:

    http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

    Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

    http://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0257-remember-noisevember/5549

    There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

    Image associated with this project is by mediachef, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

    flic.kr/p/7Z4uNx

    Serendipity: Perspective matters

    I was doing some research on Canada’s climate targets recently, and came across this chart, presented as part of Canada’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) under the Paris Agreement:

    canada-indc-pledge

    Looks good right? Certainly it conveys a message that Canada’s well on track, and that the target for 2030 is ambitious (compared to a business as usual pathway). Climate change solved, eh?

    But the chart is an epic example of misdirection. Here’s another chart that pulls the same trick, this time from the Government’s Climate Change website, and apparently designed to make the 2030 target look bravely ambitious:

    ghg_emissions_trends_2016_en

    So I downloaded the data and produced my own chart, with a little more perspective added. I wanted to address several ways in which the above charts represent propaganda, rather than evidence:

    • By cutting off the Y axis at 500 Mt, the chart hides the real long-term evidence-based goal for climate policy: zero emissions;
    • Canada has consistently failed to meet any of it’s climate targets in the past, while the chart seems to imply we’re doing rather well;
    • The chart conflates two different measures. The curves showing actual emissions exclude net removal from forestry (officially known as Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry LULUCF), while Canada fully intends to include this in its accounting for achieving the 2030 target. So if you plot the target on the same chart with emissions, honesty dictates you should adjust the target accordingly.

    Here’s my “full perspective” chart. Note that the first target shown here in grey was once Liberal party policy in the early 1990s; the remainder were official federal government targets. Each is linked to the year they were first proposed. The “fair effort” for Canada comes from ClimateActionTracker’s analysis:

    Canada's Climate Targets

    The correct long term target for carbon emissions is, of course zero. Every tonne of CO2 emitted makes the problem worse, and there’s no magic fairy that removes these greenhouse gases from the atmosphere once we’ve emitted them. So until we get to zero emissions, we’re making the problem worse, and the planet keeps warming. Worse still, the only plausible pathways to keep us below the UN’s upper limit of 2°C of warming requires us to do even better than this: we have to go carbon negative before the end of the century.

    Misleading charts from the government of Canada won’t help us get on the right track.


    churchturing.org / 2016-12-06T02:40:02