Slashdot: Why You Should Care About the Supreme Court Case On Toner Cartridges

rmdingler quotes a report from Consumerist: A corporate squabble over printer toner cartridges doesn't sound particularly glamorous, and the phrase "patent exhaustion" is probably already causing your eyes to glaze over. However, these otherwise boring topics are the crux of a Supreme Court case that will answer a question with far-reaching impact for all consumers: Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it? The case in question is Impression Products, Inc v Lexmark International, Inc, came before the nation's highest court on Tuesday. Here's the background: Lexmark makes printers. Printers need toner in order to print, and Lexmark also happens to sell toner. Then there's Impression Products, a third-party company makes and refills toner cartridges for use in printers, including Lexmark's. Lexmark, however, doesn't want that; if you use third-party toner cartridges, that's money that Lexmark doesn't make. So it sued, which brings us to the legal chain that ended up at the Supreme Court. In an effort to keep others from getting a piece of that sweet toner revenue, Lexmark turned to its patents: The company began selling printer cartridges with a notice on the package forbidding reuse or transfer to third parties. Then, when a third-party -- like Impression -- came around reselling or recycling the cartridges, Lexmark could accuse them of patent infringement. So far the courts have sided with Lexmark, ruling that Impression was using Lexmark's patented technology in an unauthorized way. The Supreme Court is Impression's last avenue of appeal. The question before the Supreme Court isn't one of "can Lexmark patent this?" Because Lexmark can, and has. The question is, rather: Can patent exhaustion still be a thing, or does the original manufacturer get to keep having the final say in what you and others can do with the product? Kate Cox notes via Consumerist that the Supreme Court ruling is still likely months away. However, she has provided a link to the transcript of this week's oral arguments (PDF) in her report and has dissected it to see which way the justices are leaning on the issue.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Recent additions: wires 0.2.0

Added by esz, Sat Mar 25 03:29:00 UTC 2017.

Functional reactive programming library

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Streamline moderne

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Recent additions: hjsonschema 1.6.1

Added by seagreen, Sat Mar 25 03:02:18 UTC 2017.

JSON Schema library

Recent additions: tweet-hs

Added by vmchale, Sat Mar 25 03:01:49 UTC 2017.

Post tweets from stdin

MetaFilter: Signs of Spring - TOO SOON?

The Seasons Aren't What They Used to Be "In the latter half of the 20th century, the spring emergence of leaves, frogs, birds and flowers advanced in the Northern Hemisphere by 2.8 days per decade. I'm nearly 50, so springtime has moved, on average, a full two weeks since I was born."

National Phenology Network: Status of Spring
NYT time-lapse visualization
DC's Cherry Blossom Festival falling much earlier
Guardian, Spring Coming Earlier in US Because of Climate Change
USGS finds that "climate change is variably advancing the onset of spring across the United States." USGS Bird Phenology Project and how to participate in citizen science project tracking seasonal change
NOAA: Changes in plant hardiness zones

MetaFilter: Beast is beast and wet is wet and forever the twain shall meet

The only thing that failed harder than these dogs was the Republican Party today [music at beginning and end].

Recent additions: lenz 0.1.2

Added by MatthewFarkasDyck, Sat Mar 25 02:37:28 UTC 2017.

Van Laarhoven lenses

Recent additions: regex-examples

Added by ChrisDornan, Sat Mar 25 02:32:43 UTC 2017.

Tutorial, tests and example programs for regex

MetaFilter: The Young Folks Do Journalism

For years, the Classic had focused on the regular beats of a high school newspaper — — teacher retirements, curriculum changes, bell schedule. It was not an investigative outlet. But with Jahoda's appointment, the very nature of the school appeared to be imperiled, and the paper's staff decided it was time to step in.

Slashdot: 'Moore's Law' For Carbon Would Defeat Global Warming

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: A streamlined set of goals for reducing carbon emissions could simplify the way nations approach the quest to reduce human impact on the planet. A group of European researchers have a refreshingly straightforward solution that they call a carbon law -- or, as the Guardian has coined it, a "Moore's law for carbon." The overarching goal is simple: globally, we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade. That's essentially it. The rule would ideally be applied "to all sectors and countries at all scales," and would encourage "bold action in the short term." Dramatic changes would naturally have to occur as a result -- from quick wins like carbon taxes and energy efficiency regulations, to longer-term policies like phasing out combustion-engine cars and carbon-neutral building regulations. If policy makers followed the carbon law, adoption of renewables would continue its current pace of doubling energy production every 5.5 years, and carbon dioxide sequestration technologies would need to ramp up in order for the the planet to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, say the researchers. Along the way, coal use would end as soon as 2030 and oil use by 2040. There are, clearly, issues with the idea, not least being the prospect of convincing every nation to commit to such a vision. The very simplicity that makes the idea compelling can also be used as a point of criticism: Can such a basic rule ever hope to define practical ideas as to how to change the world's energy production and consumption? The study has been published in the journal Science.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackaday: Ten Minute TensorFlow Speech Recognition

Like a lot of people, we’ve been pretty interested in TensorFlow, the Google neural network software. If you want to experiment with using it for speech recognition, you’ll want to check out [Silicon Valley Data Science’s] GitHub repository which promises you a fast setup for a speech recognition demo. It even covers which items you need to install if you are using a CUDA GPU to accelerate processing or if you aren’t.

Another interesting thing is the use of TensorBoard to visualize the resulting neural network. This tool offers up a page in your browser that lets you visualize what’s really going on inside the neural network. There’s also speech data in the repository, so it is practically a one-stop shop for getting started. If you haven’t seen TensorBoard in action, you might enjoy the video from Google, below.

This demo might be a good second step after you complete the very simple tutorial we covered earlier. This isn’t the first time we’ve looked at neural nets and speech, but it may be the simplest one we’ve seen.

Filed under: software hacks

Penny Arcade: News Post: Hell’s Kitchen

Tycho: I mean, it’s all true.  If some raucous, snouty beast-men want to cavort I’ve got my own priorities that don’t intersect with them on the graph.  But occasionally they take up inadvisable hobbies. So, the high from running Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team lasts well into the next day and projects a seeking tendril, yea, even unto the weekend.  I just ring at a certain frequency, like a meditation chime; it’s still there even as the sound gets smaller. You can approach it any way you want to, but it might help you to know the…

Slashdot: Microsoft Delivers Secure China-Only Cut of Windows 10

Earlier this week, CEO of Microsoft Greater China, Alain Crozier, told China Daily that the company is ready to roll out a version of Windows 10 with extra security features demanded by China's government. "We have already developed the first version of the Windows 10 government secure system. It has been tested by three large enterprise customers," Crozier said. The Register reports: China used Edward Snowden's revelations to question whether western technology products could compromise its security. Policy responses included source code reviews for foreign vendors and requiring Chinese buyers to shop from an approved list of products. Microsoft, IBM and Intel all refused to submit source code for inspection, but Redmond and Big Blue have found other ways to get their code into China. IBM's route is a partnership with Dalian Wanda to bring its cloud behind the Great Firewall. Microsoft last year revealed its intention to build a version of Windows 10 for Chinese government users in partnership with state-owned company China Electronics Technology Group Corp. There's no reason to believe Crozier's remarks are incorrect, because Microsoft has a massive incentive to deliver a version of Windows 10 that China's government will accept. To understand why, consider that China's military has over two million active service personnel, the nation's railways employ similar numbers and Microsoft's partner China Electronics Technology Group Corp has more than 140,000 people on its books. Not all of those are going to need Windows, but plenty will.

Read more of this story at Slashdot. Marpa-R3-4.001_043

Release 3 of Marpa

Slashdot: US Scientists Launch World's Biggest Solar Geoengineering Study

In what will be the world's biggest solar geoengineering program to date, U.S. scientists part of the $20 million Harvard University project are going to send aerosol injections 20km (~12.4 miles) into the earth's stratosphere "to establish whether the technology can safely simulate the atmospheric cooling effects of a volcanic eruption," The Guardian reports. From the report: Scientists hope to complete two small-scale dispersals of first water and then calcium carbonate particles by 2022. Future tests could involve seeding the sky with aluminum oxide -- or even diamonds. Janos Pasztor, Ban Ki-moon's assistant climate chief at the UN who now leads a geoengineering governance initiative, said that the Harvard scientists would only disperse minimal amounts of compounds in their tests, under strict university controls. Geoengineering advocates stress that any attempt at a solar tech fix is years away and should be viewed as a compliment to -- not a substitute for -- aggressive emissions reductions action. But the Harvard team, in a promotional video for the project, suggest a redirection of one percent of current climate mitigation funds to geoengineering research, and argue that the planet could be covered with a solar shield for as little as $10 billion a year. Some senior UN climate scientists view such developments with alarm, fearing a cash drain from proven mitigation technologies such as wind and solar energy, to ones carrying the potential for unintended disasters. If lab tests are positive, the experiment would then be replicated with a limestone compound which the researchers believe will neither absorb solar or terrestrial radiation, nor deplete the ozone layer.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Penny Arcade: News Post: Thornwatch

Gabe: The Thornwatch Kickstarter was a huge success but it’s possible that you missed the opportunity to back it. Don’t worry, If you missed the campaign you’ve got another opportunity to get in on all the cool stuff we offered. We’ve got a PledgeManager page set up for Thornwatch that will allow you to preorder the game from now until April 21st. You can get the base set, the Dark of the Wood expansion, the acrylic pawns for both sets, and the deluxe wood box from Dapper Devil. (Dark of the Wood concept art) If you have somehow managed to miss all my posts about Thornwatch, here’s… Slack-RTM-Bot-1.01

This is a perl module helping to create slack bot with Real Time Messaging(RTM) API.

Slashdot: Venezuelan Developers Are Using Bitcoin, Rare Pepe Trading Cards To Fight Against a Dismal Economy

According to Crypto Insider, Venezuelan developers have been selling "rare pepes" -- trading cards that contain unique illustrations and photoshops of the character Pepe the Frog. While the trading cards started out as nothing more than a joke, many of them have been traded for thousands of dollars on the Counterparty platform, which is built on top of Bitcoin, and have provided a way for many developers to sustain themselves in Venezuela's poor economy. From the report: The basic idea behind the issuance of rare pepes on top of the Counterparty platform is that it enables scarcity in a digital world. Each rare pepe card is linked to a little bit of bitcoin through a practice known as coin coloring. Whoever owns the private keys associated with the address where the bitcoins that represent a specific rare pepe card is located is the one who owns that particular trading card. Now, a group of developers in Venezuela are building games similar to Hearthstone and Pokemon where the rare pepe trading cards will play an integral role. If you go to right now, you're mainly presented with a video of what the first game based on the Rare Pepe digital trading cards will look like. The concept is similar to Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering where players essentially do battle with their opponents via characters on trading cards, which have specific stats and features. In this case, the characters are various rare pepes. With many rare pepes already released (you can view them in the official rare pepe directory), the developers behind Rare Pepe Party are attempting to provide a use case for these new trading cards. While some rare pepe cards already have stats on them, the developer who chatted with Crypto Insider says those stats may not mean much when it's time to play the game. While rare pepes are nothing more than fun and games for much of the developed world, they're a matter of survival in Venezuela. "We're based in Venezuela, and our business has been saved by bitcoin many times," said the developer. The developer claims roughly 80 percent of the offices around the area where Rare Pepe Party is being developed have shut down over the past year. The biggest businesses on their street have also dropped as much as 90 percent of their employees.

Read more of this story at Slashdot. Combine-Keys-0.01

Return keys from multiple hashes!

MetaFilter: G'day Bushwhackers!!

Nick Fry and Caleb (slyt) are two good bros who love Camping, Wildlife, Hunting, Cooking and Eating stuff from the Aussie bush and ocean.

Come watch them learn and grow and join in the adventure!

For the most part, the two young conservationists (those who advocates or acts for the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife) hunt and fish invasive, non-native and destructive species in their local woods.

Welcome to our Kitchen!

Big Frickin' Eels

Bare-Handed Mud Crabs

Mahi Mahi and Sharks

Spear Fishing Tilapia


Bream, Squid, and Stingray RT-Extension-ConditionalCustomFields-0.02

RT-Extension-ConditionalCustomFields Extension RT-Extension-ConditionalCustomFields-0.01

RT-Extension-ConditionalCustomFields Extension

ScreenAnarchy: "Beyond Godzilla" Highlights Lesser-Known Japanese Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films

"Beyond Godzilla: Alternative Futures and Fantasies in Japanese Cinema," a film series screening at Japan Society from March 24 through April 8, looks at the long history of Japanese tokusatsu eiga, or special effects films. On the heels of Shin Godzilla, the latest entry in the long running franchise, sweeping the Japan Academy Awards, this series goes beyond that huge shadow-casting series of films to look at lesser known examples of Japanese science fiction and fantasy films. The series is curated by Variety and Japan Times critic and author Mark Schilling, who brings to New York a modified version of the program he presented at last year's Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy. It's a fascinating selection of films spanning from the 50s through the 90s, and it...

[Read the whole post on]

Hackaday: Half-Baked Idea: Put Your PLA in the Oven

[Thomas] wanted to try baking some carbon fiber 3D printing filament because the vendor had promised higher strength and rigidity after the parts were annealed in the oven. Being of a scientific mindset, he did some controls and found that annealing parts printed with the carbon fiber-bearing filament didn’t benefit much from the treatment. However, parts printed with standard PLA became quite a bit stronger and more rigid.

The downside? The parts (regardless of material) tend to shrink a bit in the X and Y axis. They also tend to expand in the Z direction. However, the dimension changes were not that much. The test parts shrunk by about 5% and grew by 2%. He didn’t mention if this was repeatable, which is a shame because if it is repeatable, it isn’t a big deal to adjust part dimensions before printing. Of course, if it isn’t repeatable, it will be difficult to get a particular finished size after the annealing process.

The resulting PLA parts were 40% stronger and 25% more rigid than the same part before treatment. In addition, the parts had better resistance to heat, which is a common issue with PLA parts. The heating process is as simple as putting the parts in a 110° C oven for an hour, so it shouldn’t require any special equipment to replicate the test.

We’d be interested to see how fine details survive the heating and cooling. However, even if this isn’t for every part, it could be another trick in your arsenal for making 3D printed parts.

If you have the urge to try different filament types, this earlier post will keep you busy for at least a month. The vendor [Thomas] used for the carbon fiber filament makes a lot of different exotic blends.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

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

Sometimes surprises happen. Oil prices collapsing 70% in a few months. Crazy Brits voting themselves off the island during Brexit. Millions of deplorables electing a reality TV star misogynist billionaire to be president. Then the stock market thinking he’s catnip.

If you’ve got investments, surprises matter. Over-react, and risk making a big mistake – because the unexpected has a way of becoming the new normal.

On Friday, the latest surprise. Donald Trump, the firebrand, rebel, strongman populist, is turning into a lame duck barely 90 days after storming into the White House. He already had an impact on Canadian investors this week – responsible for a tepid budget that backed off new eat-the-rich taxes – and now more’s coming.

Late in the afternoon, at the instruction of the Prez, Republicans pulled their signature bill from a scheduled vote in Congress. It would have repealed and replaced Obamacare – one of the pivotal issues Trump campaigned on. The reason? It wouldn’t pass. Despite his own party controlling both the House and the Senate, and despite his personal bullying and threats to legislators that they will lose their seats if they defy him, it died. “I won’t sugarcoat this,” speaker and Trump ally Paul Ryan said, “it’s disappointing.”

For weeks Republican politicians have faced town hall meetings stuffed with angry, scared voters terrified they’ll lose health care. Since it was passed, Obamacare, as imperfect as it is, has resulted in the lowest number of people ever (under 11%) being without coverage. It’s now clear the balance of power has shifted for those politicians – from the president and leader of their party to the voters they answer to.

It’s a big deal. Stock markets were watching this vote closely. Losing it means Trump may have a far harder time doing the stuff he wants – like slashing corporate taxes, reducing regulations and spending megabucks on infrastructure. It was exactly those actions which investors felt would expand the economy and boost profits – so they ran up stock values more than 9% in anticipation. Meanwhile the Fed, also believing Trump, as well as looking at growing economic strength, smelled inflation and pushed ahead with another interest rate hike. As a result, stocks soared, bonds slumped and yields plumped.

Meanwhile, Trump stumbles. The FBI has launched an investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia. His Muslim travel ban was ridiculed and killed. His ‘America First’ budget fattening the military and starving the environment, arts and social spending was dead upon arrival. There’s no evidence to support his claims three million people voted illegally or Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on him. Last week he insulted Germany and his secretary of state shunned NATO. The man is an unpredictable tangle of ego, bravado and well-aged testosterone.

Now he’s losing support where it matters most – in Congress. Without that, he has no agenda. Just tweets. The rebuke on Friday was sharp and decisive, made all the more poignant because it was his first real attempt to turn crusade into law. This defeat also calls into question the man’s status as a grand deal-maker – again making investors question whether or not he can slash corporate taxes, impose a far-reaching border tax, build a 2,000-mile-long, 30-foot wall or resurrect faulty bridges and aging airports.

So what now?

Time will tell, but there’s a good argument for saying the Trump Bump on Wall Street could deflate in the next few trading sessions. It’s been a long time since markets took a 10% dip, but they may be ready to give back much of the ground gained since the November election. Beyond that potential correction, investors will probably be putting more faith in fundamentals, like profits and labour stats, than in one man. The US economy is strong, stable and trustworthy. Everything the leader is not.

This is why a balanced and diversified portfolio works. It’s designed to blunt surprises and protect as markets decline. When the growth assets fall, the safe ones rise. And meanwhile you own stuff that pays, rain or shine.

Investing is not gambling. Preserving capital is equal to growing it. Chasing the latest hot thing – whether it’s US equities or a trendy semi – is asking for heartache. The best surprise is one you can ignore. There are many coming.

CreativeApplications.Net: Spheres of Influence – Drawing lifelines of the city

Created by the SCI-Arc Faculty members Curime Batliner and Jake Newsum for the for the third annual Mextropoli Festival, Spheres of Influence is a temporary installation installed in the patio of Laboratorio Arte Alameda. Project is part installation and part live performance, that uses a robotic system from Staubli to paint layers of graphics abstracted from the city onto a series of human-scale spheres.

MetaFilter: Robert Silvers (1929–2017)

Robert B. Silvers, a founder of The New York Review of Books, which under his editorship became one of the premier intellectual journals in the United States, a showcase for extended, thoughtful essays on literature and politics by eminent writers, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

New York Review of Books: "Where do things stand? Have we closed?" Days before his death, on March 20, Robert B. Silvers was doing what he had been doing every day for the past fifty-four years: thinking about, fretting over, and laboring on The New York Review of Books. On his sickbed, galley proofs were fanned out across the coverlet, photographs spilled from manila folders ("I do think it's important to get the reporters' raised hands inside the frame"), and a large, black, multiline telephone lay humming and blinking beneath his right hand. Even as his illness began to sap the legendary energy that had propelled him, well into his ninth decade, through fifteen-hour workdays and a social calendar that his young assistants would have found daunting, Bob would lift the receiver when the office called and declaim his favorite greeting: "Hello, hello, hello!"

New Yorker: Remembering Robert Silvers

Washington Post: Why we should all mourn Robert Silvers

New York Review of Books writers on Robert Silvers

Instructables: exploring - featured: 3 Things You Can Make From Aerosol Cans

If you have empty aerosol cans lying around, don't throw them away just yet.They can be used to make a few useful things.In this Instructable, I demonstrate 3 ways you can upcycle empty aerosol spray cans.If you are Interested in the video version of this Instructable and the embedded video does not...
By: ShakeTheFuture

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Instructables: exploring - featured: Kururin - the Rolling Stick

No idea what a Kururin can do? Get inspired by a pro before reading this instructable!Kururin's are a new skill/fidget toy from Japan, the body is just made of wood and easy to turn on a lathe. I've designed two tools to help you make a Kururin for yourself. The Kururin Gauge contains all the measur...
By: unigamer

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All Content: What “Julie’s Greenroom” Teaches Us About the Importance of the NEA


For anyone whose childhood was enriched by the maternal warmth of Julie Andrews or the humanistic ingenuity of Jim Henson’s Muppets, the new Netflix show, “Julie’s Greenroom,” is guaranteed to be a joyous experience. Andrews co-created the series along with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton (“The Very Fairy Princess”), and Judy Rothman Rofé (“Madeline”), and stars as Miss Julie, the head of a performing arts workshop for youth. Her latest class consists of five children and a duck splendidly performed by Muppeteers, who bring their felt-and-foam marvels to life with an attention to nuance that would’ve made Henson proud. There’s a light in their eyes that is unmistakable, and it is conjured by every tilt of the head and upturned eyebrow, causing them to seem more vividly alive than countless CGI characters. Having memorably guested on “The Muppet Show,” Andrews has a natural chemistry with her pint-sized students, treating them as she would any human performer, while gently reprimanding her mischievous dog, Toby (John Kennedy), who also happens to be a puppet. The first 13 episodes of “Julie’s Greenroom” debuted on March 17th, and though the series is every bit as delightful as one would expect, it succeeds as far more than a nostalgia-fest.

In fact, there may not be a better defense for saving the National Endowment for the Arts than this program, which has coincidentally arrived during a period in which the President of the United States has proposed cutting it for the first time in history. Since its founding in 1965, the same year Andrews starred in “The Sound of Music,” the NEA has played an essential role in launching the careers of filmmakers and other visionaries whose work has left an indelible impact on the world. So many artistic institutions wouldn’t be in existence if it weren’t for the NEA, and the same could be said of programs such as “Sesame Street,” which provided me with the formative building blocks of education long before my schooling began. How fitting that the first episode of “Julie’s Greenroom” is entitled, “The Show Must Go On,” reflecting the sentiments of the class as they’re forced to scrap their plans for a “Wizard of Oz” production after a burst water pipe destroys their costumes and sets. This loss presents them with an opportunity to create their own original musical from scratch, and the premise of their show, it turns out, couldn’t be more topical: it’s about how all of the arts from a once-happy kingdom have been stolen by a mean ogre. Yet even when their resources are limited, the kids learn that they can transform ordinary objects into great artworks by infusing them with their imagination.

After Julie’s assistant, Gus (Giullian Yao Gioiello) leads the students—and the kids at home—in warm-ups, each episode offers a “master class” on a particular facet of a theatrical production, from screenwriting to rehearsing. The classes are taught by special guests, most of whom we learn are alumni (a.k.a. “Greenies”) of Julie’s class, whose backgrounds are glimpsed in photo montages, showing young viewers that these accomplished talents were once kids too. Idina Menzel kicks things off by encouraging the kids to discover the untapped possibilities in the world around them, leading to a later episode where the cast of STOMP utilizes various items in Julie’s office to create a percussive symphony. Tituss Burgess stops by to show the kids how costumes can place them in “someone else’s shoes,” altering their identity even through the multiples uses of a scarf. Violinist Joshua Bell performs a thrilling solo while reassuring the kids that a broken string isn’t the end of the world. There’s an especially lovely moment where ballet dancers describe how music can tell a story on its own, focusing on the notes in “Swan Lake” that anticipate the emergence of the princess. The importance of teamwork is emphasized in screenwriting sessions from Chris Colfer, singing exercises from Josh Groban (sporting a Henson-esque beard), songwriting lessons from Sara Bareilles (who performs the catchy theme song) and improv classes taught by Ellie Kemper, who demonstrates how the principle of “Yes, and…” requires performers to connect through their shared ideas. Providing ample comic relief are clowning instructor Bill Irwin (he of the elastic neck), assistant director David Hyde Pierce and acting teacher Alec Baldwin, who brings a dry hilarity to lines like, “This is the place where I had my first mini-scone!” Everything pays off in the richly satisfying season finale, where the students get to apply everything they’ve learned into their long-awaited show, which is viewed by a potential donor (Carol Burnett at her goofball best). 

Beyond all the star power, what’s even more engaging is the impact that the arts have on each of the students, who become more fully realized as the episodes progress. Riley (Jennifer Barnhardt), starts out as an introverted kid more interested in technology, and eventually crawls out of her shell after her assigned role as a jester causes her to take handstand lessons from Cirque du Soleil. Yet she’s able to maintain her gender-neutral identity in the process, getting promoted to assistant stage manager, while allowing her scientific knowledge to influence her art (her version of “London Bridges” explains that the structure fell down “because the suspension was faulty”). Starry-eyed Peri (Stephanie D’Abruzzo) must grapple with disappointment after her desired role of the princess goes to the adorably accident-prone Fizz (Dorien Davies) instead. Peri is initially horrified by her role as the ogre, but comes to realize that the character is actually an opportunity to stretch herself creatively. Hank (John Tartaglia) was born without the ability to move his legs, but he doesn’t feel trapped by his physical limitations, hammering out infectious melodies on the piano while Riley transforms his wheelchair into “a mighty steed.” Spike (Frankie Cordero) is a gifted writer who hones in on words he hasn’t heard before, such as “pantomime” and “stupendous” (“That is British for ‘awesome,’” Hank notes), inviting viewers to place them in their own “word banks.” When asked to share his story, Spike becomes shy and leaves the room. We then learn that his apprehension is caused by the fact that he hasn’t seen many stories about people with his skin color. As for the duck, Hugo (Tyler Bunch), he is included in the class because, as Miss Julie affirms, “The theatre doesn’t discriminate.”

Once the kids become more empowered by their artistic expression, “Julie’s Greenroom” powerfully demonstrates how the arts are anything but frivolous. Some of the most moving moments in the show occur when the characters are provided with heartrending documentary footage of real kids flourishing in the sort of programs that will likely get cut after the NEA is demolished. Students from the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program’s Symphony Orchestra Intensive eloquently describe how music has amplified their voice even when they are shy, giving them a way to communicate without words. Steven Fisher, co-founder of the Keystone State Boychoir, discusses how art allows us to become truly connected, whether we happen to be creating it or witnessing it. We see kids excelling in their craft thanks to such organizations as the Groundlings Theatre & School, the Harlem School of the Arts and Menzel’s own foundation, A BroaderWay. I was amazed by the rehearsal footage of the Infinity Dance Theater company, featuring performers with disabilities—some vision-impaired, some wheelchair-bound, all exceptional. The ripple effect of all these programs is perhaps best epitomized by the Kid Pan Alley songwriting project, founded by Paul Reisler to guide children in creating their own music. Watching the exuberance of the kids onscreen, I was reminded of Musicality, Michael Gibson’s after school singing group on Chicago’s South Side that went on to become semi-finalists on “America’s Got Talent.” I also thought of the NewArts program in Newtown, Connecticut, that has been established to provide a positive outlet for the grieving community’s youth. In my review of “Midsummer in Newtown,” Lloyd Kramer’s documentary about NewArts, I wrote that the applause received by the children after their performance served as “an affirmation that their work matters and that their lives matter too.”

What “Julie’s Greenroom” teaches us, above all, is that the arts are the voice of the people. Ending the NEA would be akin to suppressing the voice of the people, and there is, quite frankly, nothing more un-American than that. In a career that has nurtured children for over half a century, this show may very well be Andrews’ crowning achievement. Enormous props must also be given to co-writer/director Joey Mazzarino, a “Sesame Street” vet who has effectively channeled Henson’s spirit in every episode. At the play’s end, we learn that the ogre isn’t such a bad creature after all—just a lonely soul who was feeling left out. The moral of the story is that the arts are “for everyone,” and there’s no question Henson would’ve agreed with this empathetic perspective. “At some point in my life, I decided, rightly or wrongly, that there are many situations in this life that I can't do much about—acts of terrorism, feelings of nationalistic prejudice, cold war, etc.—so what I should do is concentrate on the situations that my energy can effect,” Henson once wrote. “I believe that we can use television and film to be an influence for good; that we can help to shape the thoughts of children and adults in a positive way. […] When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been here.” With “Julie’s Greenroom” streaming into homes around the globe, it’s safe to say that Henson’s goal is continuing to be realized, and we are all the luckier for it.

Colossal: Paper Cutouts by ‘Paperboyo’ Transform World Landmarks into Quirky Scenes

London-based paper artist and photographer Rich McCor (aka. paperboyo) has a way of seeing the world from a slightly different perspective. By adding a simple paper cutout to the foreground of famous buildings or other popular tourist attractions, he creates novel moments in time where an octopus squirms from inside the Colosseum or a WW2-era sailor embraces the Leaning Tower of Pisa in reference to the famous photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt. McCor makes frequent mentions to pop culture by recreating scenes from films or by repurposing works from other artists. To see what he dreams up next you can join his near quarter million followers on Instagram. (via Creators Project)

Instructables: exploring - featured: How to Fold an Origami Batarang From the Dark Knight

In this Origami lesson I will be teaching you how to fold your very own Batarang, modeled after the one in The Dark Knight trilogy. This is a very simple origami design and should take you only 15-20 minutes. I soon hope to include a how-to video, so keep watching for updates! I recommend that you u...
By: Folda Fett

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ScreenAnarchy: Broad Green Lands Ciarán Foy To Direct Horror Pic, ELI

Ciarán Foy (Sinister 2) is moving on with horror thriller, Eli, directing for Broad Green Pictures. The news comes two years since the film landed on the Black List in 2015 from scribe David Chirchirillo and now has Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing onboard for rewrites with Intrepid Pictures's Trevor Macy and Bellevue Productions's John Zaozirny producing. Intrepid's Melinda Nishioka will co-produce with Gabriel and Daniel Hammond executive producing for Broad Green. Filming begins this summer for Eli which tells of a young boy who undergoes treatment for a rare disease, only to witness the secluded clinic he is in becoming a haunted prison with no way out. Casting remains pending for the film while Foy has a number of projects in the works with...

[Read the whole post on]

Instructables: exploring - featured: Copper Lamp With Edison Bulb

Once upon a time we watched, my wife and me. I suddenly hear: awwww, awesome, look, look what a beautiful lamp. Lets see, not too difficult to do... Materials and tools We need:copper plate.copper rivets, some wood, hemp ropeelectric wire,light bulb holderEdison bulbhammer, drill, handsaw or jigs...
By: PiotrM7

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Instructables: exploring - featured: Customized Paper Cut Portrait

Are you looking for a unique gift that will impress everyone? Well, then take a look at this idea! I have recently opened a new Etsy shop to sell my silhouette shadow boxes, like the Christmas shadow box I made a while ago, so I'm a lot into paper cutting lately. The more I designed new sceneries, t...
By: lindarose92

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Perlsphere: ack 2.18 has been released; ack 3 starting development

I’ve just uploaded ack 2.18 to CPAN and to ack 2.18 will probably be the final release in the ack 2.x series. I’m going to be starting work on ack 3.000 in earnest.  Still, if you discover problems with ack 2, please report them to If you’re interested in ack 3 development, please […]

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: While sharing a recent disappointing discovery...

Hackaday: The Icon Of American Farming That You Now Have To Hack To Own

If you wanted to invoke American farming with colour, which colours would you pick? The chances are they would be the familiar green and yellow of a John Deere tractor. It’s a name that has been synonymous with US agriculture since the 1830s, when the blacksmith whose name appears on the tractors produced his first steel plough blade. The words “American icon” are thrown around for many things, but in the case of John Deere there are few modern brands with as much history to back up their claim to it.

A trip across the prairies then is to drive past Deere products in use from most of the last century. They will still supply parts for machines they made before WW2, and farmers will remain loyal to the brand throughout their lives.

Well… That used to be the case.  In recent years a new Deere has had all its parts locked down by DRM, such that all maintenance tasks on the tractors must be performed by Deere mechanics with the appropriate software. If your tractor breaks in the field you can fit a new part as you always have done, but if it’s a Deere it then won’t run until a Deere mechanic has had a look at it. As a result, Motherboard reports that American farmers are resorting to Ukrainian-sourced firmware updaters to hack their machines and allow them to continue working.  An icon of American farming finds itself tarnished in its heartland.

We’ve reported on the Deere DRM issue before, it seems that the newest development is a licence agreement from last October that prohibits all unauthorised repair work on the machines as well as insulating the manufacturer from legal action due to “crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment … arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software”. This has sent the farmers running to illicit corners of the internet to spend their dollars on their own Deere electronic updating kits rather than on call-out fees for a Deere mechanic. Farmers have had centuries of being resourceful, this is simply the twenty-first century version of the hacks they might have performed decades ago with baler twine and old fertiliser sacks.

You might ask what the hack is here, as in reality they’re just buying a product online, and using it. But this is merely the latest act in a battle in one industry that could have ramifications for us all. Farmers are used to the model in which when they buy a machine they own it, and the Deere DRM is reshaping that relationship to one in which their ownership is on the manufacturer’s terms. How this plays out over the coming years, and how it affects Deere’s bottom line as farmers seek tractors they can still repair, will affect how other manufacturers of products non-farmers use consider DRM for their own business models.

Outside the window where this is being written is a Deere from the 1980s. It’s a reliable and very well-screwed-together tractor, though given the subject of this piece it may be our last green and yellow machine. Its dented badge makes a good metaphor for the way at least for us the brand has been devalued.

Thanks [Jack Laidlaw] for the tip.

Filed under: transportation hacks

TheSirensSound: New album Lathe by Galaxxu

Chicago’s Galaxxu is excited to announce a super-limited edition seven inch lathe cut, featuring artwork by Alex Dycylyxyvyi. The two sides reflect the terror and the beauty the quartet tries to capture in their free improvisations. Side A starts off innocently enough, until devolving into a mess of disjointed interplay between a sax crying out, and a guitar that is seemingly being torn apart at the atomic level. Suddenly, the drums offer a rallying cry and Galaxxu breaks out into a wall of furious noise. Side B offers a glimpse into the more subdued side of Galaxxu. At times even soulful, albeit still operating within the confines of their chaotic take on free improvisation, it ends things in a dreamy sequence as if the Galaxxians are surveying the damage they wrought on Side A. 

TheSirensSound: New music video/short film "Flourish" by Kaskelott

TheSirensSound: New album Late Bloomer by Static Masks

Hackaday: Retrotechtacular: Tinkertoy and Cordwood in the Pre-IC Era

It is widely accepted that Gutenberg’s printing press revolutionized thought in Europe and transformed the Western world. Prior to the printing press, books were rare and expensive and not generally accessible. Printing made all types of written material inexpensive and plentiful. You may not think about it, but printing–or, at least, printing-like processes–revolutionized electronics just as much.

In particular, the way electronics are built and the components we use have changed a lot since the early 1900s when the vacuum tube made amplification possible. Of course, the components themselves are different. Outside of some specialty and enthusiast items, we don’t use many tubes anymore. But even more dramatic has been how we build and package devices. Just like books, the key to lowering cost and raising availability is mass production. But mass producing electronic devices wasn’t always as easy as it is today.


At one time, electronics were assembled by hand with point-to-point wiring and a variety of terminal strips and connections (for example, see the 1948 Motorola TV set to the right). Wires formed connections to the terminal strip (the component with five lugs near the top left), sockets, lugs on controls, and components.

This is in stark contrast to today where all the components would mount on a printed circuit board (PCB). Actually, PCBs in some form have been around since the early part of the 20th century. Even [Thomas Edison] tried to plate conductors on paper.

Despite some limited use, PCBs didn’t really take off until World War II. German mines and U. S. proximity fuses used them. Still, it would be well into the 1950s, though, before consumer electronics started to really use PCBs.

There are some technical advantages (and disadvantages) to using PCBs. But the most obvious advantage is just in labor savings. Assemblers used to use photographs and checklists to be sure they made every required connection. Not only was this labor-intensive, but it was also prone to error. The photo below shows an RCA radio factory in 1937.

Despite the name, printed circuit boards are not always printed (in fact, today, they are rarely printed). But the idea that you can make one template and automatically make tens, hundreds, or thousands of identical copies is the same idea of the printing press.

Pre IC

The other printing-like process that changed electronics forever was the integrated circuit. While the PCB allowed wires to be reproduced flawlessly, the IC lets you create entire circuits with many components and then reproduce them relatively easily. There are other advantages, too (miniaturization, close matching of active devices, etc.). But the ability to produce a CPU, for example, with all its components and wiring repeatedly using a reasonably simple process has driven price and innovation in the electronics business since it became available.

If you think about it, the IC makes a lot of things practical. Let’s say you are going to create a fish finder that uses a sonic pulse to find your dinner (or the bottom of the lake). You probably need an instrumentation amplifier. How much could you spend to develop it? You probably can’t sell millions of fish finders, so you won’t have a lot of time to refine your design. It probably can’t have too many components in it either, or the price will go up and you’ll have even fewer sales.

You can buy an instrumentation amplifier as an IC very inexpensively. The company that makes it probably spent years getting it to the current state that it is in, going through multiple product iterations. Although more components do drive up the cost of an IC (due to driving up the die size), it doesn’t raise it very much, especially at smaller die sizes where manufacturing processes have very high yields. So your choice is to design your own inferior amp using a few devices at great cost or spend the buck or less to get a well-tested design with dozens of devices and great specifications. Easy choice. Of course, if you can find a highly-integrated fish finder IC (don’t laugh, the LM1812 was a thing; see page 81 of this old Popular Electronics) then you can use that and be done with your whole design in an afternoon.

Better Living Through Military

The military is often the first to find ways to pay for new technology. They had been searching for a reasonable way to get more reproducible electronic assembly for some time. The U.S. Navy, for example, had project Tinkertoy. The idea was to make little modules out of ceramic with silver patterns painted on them. Components like resistors and capacitors could also be placed on the boards using automated processes. At the end, modules stacked together and little tabs around the edges served as a guide for interconnection wires as well as keys for orienting the boards.

You can see a very detailed–and a little stiff–video from 1953, below, explaining how the system worked. NIST (the technical muscle behind Tinkertoy) also has a photo gallery of both the devices and the pilot plant.


This was an improvement, of sorts, over another technique often used in military electronics back then known as the cordwood module. Cordwood modules were the ultimate in packaging density and shock resistance when using normal components and found use in military, space, and high-speed computer systems (since the density allowed wiring to be shorter).

The idea was to use two insulating cards. Components like resistors would bridge between the two boards and nickel ribbon would form wiring on the outer surfaces of the insulating cards. Thinner cards were used where ribbons intersected. Later, single sided PCBs would sometimes act as the cards and copper traces replaced the nickel ribbons. The module in the picture below uses this method.

Of course, if a component in the middle of the module went bad, you had a lot of work to get to it.

Don’t Forget the Army

The Navy wasn’t the only one thinking about this. The Army had their MM (Micro-Module) concept that looked a lot like Tinkertoy. The document covered late 1962 which was the 19th quarter of the program, so it was a little bit behind Tinkertoy. The MicroPac computer used as a test case looked pretty interesting and surprisingly compact for its day.

There were probably other module standards floating around (The NSA’s “flyball modules” come to mind), but really what everyone wanted was the integrated circuit. Then again, the first IC was in 1960, so the Micro-Module and its siblings were doomed almost from the start.

Modern Times

Once in a while, you’ll still see something done in the cordwood style (like the blinking light board in the video below). The board in the video is actually sold as a kit with no instructions as a puzzle challenge. Your job is to build it without looking at instructions (like we would do that, anyway).

Of course, you still see standardized modules around. It is just usually, they take the form factor of an IC. The Basic Stamp comes to mind. You can get whole ARM systems on a little DIP board. There are still a few places where hybrid integrated circuits are used instead of pure integrated circuits.

The Time Has Come

It is interesting that looking back you can see the pattern. The industry clearly wanted cheap standardized modules that didn’t require a lot of hand assembly. Just as the printing press allowed mass production of books and other reading material, PCBs allowed mass production of wiring and ICs the mass production of entire circuit “boards” with components.

There are more modern examples, too. Everyone was moving towards small boards that could run Linux when things like the Gumstix and the BeagleBone appeared. But the Raspberry Pi made it cheap and that’s what pushed high adoption rates. We are already seeing those get pushed into the chip level, too.

What you have to wonder is what trends are we in the middle of today? Will someone come out with a cheap multimaterial 3D printer (that includes metal or circuit components)? We are pushing to where the whole planet will be bathed in wireless networking, but at great cost. Will a Hackday author in the year 2110 write an article about how we used to build cell towers and satellites everywhere to get network devices connected? Spotting those trends can be lucrative or–if you fail to act on them–frustrating.

Cordwood module photo by [ArnoldReinhold] CC BY 2.5

Filed under: Hackaday Columns, History, Retrotechtacular

TheSirensSound: New single Secret by DYLYN

Hackaday: Magsafe 1 to Magsafe 2 The Cheap Way

[Klakinoumi] wanted to use their Magsafe 1 charger from 2007 with their newer Macbook Pro Retina from 2012 — but it had a Magsafe 2 port. There were a few options on the table (buy an adapter, buy a new charger, cry) but those wouldn’t do. [Klakinoumi] went with the brute force option of grinding a Magsafe 1 charger to fit Magsafe 2.

Based on the existence of passive adapters that allow Magsafe 1 chargers to work with newer laptops, we’d assume that the older chargers are probably electrically similar to the newer models. That said, it’s not our gear and we’d definitely be checking first.

With that out of the way, it’s a simple enough modification — grind away the Magsafe 1’s magnet until it fits into a Magsafe 2 port. It really is that easy. The spring-loaded pins all seem to line up with the newer port’s pads. [Klakinoumi] reports it worked successfully in their tests with 2012, 2014 and 2015 Macbooks but that it should be attempted at your own risk — good advice, as laptops ain’t cheap.

When doing this mod, consider taking care not to overheat the connector during grinding. You could both melt plastic parts of the connector, or ruin the magnet by heating it past its Curie point.

Interested in the protocol Magsafe speaks over those little golden pins? Find out here.

Filed under: classic hacks, computer hacks, laptops hacks, macs hacks

Daniel Lemire's blog: Science and Technology links (March 24, 2017)

There are many claims that innovation is slowing down. In the XXth century, we went from horses to planes. What have we done lately? We have not cured cancer or old age. We did get the iPhone. There is that. But so what? There are many claims that Moore’s law, the observation that processors gets twice as good every two years or so, is faltering if not failing entirely. Then there is Eroom’s law, the observation that new medical drugs are getting exponentially expensive. I don’t think that anyone questions the fact that we are still on an exponential curve… but it matters whether we make progress at a rate of 1% a year or 5% a year. So what might be happening? Why would we slow down? Some believe that all of the low-hanging fruits have been picked. So we invented the airplane, the car, and the iPhone, that was easy, but whatever remains is too hard. There is also the theory that as we do more research, we start duplicating our efforts in vain. Knott looked at the data and found something else:

One thought is that if R&D has truly gotten harder, it should have gotten harder for everyone. (…) That’s not what I found when I examined 40 years of financial data for all publicly traded U.S. firms. I found instead that maximum RQ [R&D productivity] was actually increasing over time! (…) I restricted attention to a particular sector, e.g., manufacturing or services. I found that maximum RQ was increasing within sectors as well. I then looked at coarse definitions of industry, such as Measuring Equipment (Standard Industrial Classification 38), then successively more narrow definitions, such as Surgical, Medical, And Dental Instruments (SIC 384), then Dental Equipment (SIC 3843). What I found was that as I looked more narrowly, maximum RQ did decrease over time (…) What the pattern suggests is that while opportunities within industries decline over time, as they do, companies respond by creating new industries with greater technological opportunity.

The way I understand this finding is that once an industry reaches maturity, further optimizations will provide diminishing returns… until someone finds a different take on the problem and invents a new industry.

With time, animals accumulate senescent cells. These are cells that should die (by apoptosis) but somehow stick around. This happens very rarely, so no matter how old you are, you have very few senescent cells, to the point where a biologist would have a hard time finding them. But they cause trouble, a lot of trouble it seems. They might be responsible for a sizeable fraction of age-related health conditions. Senolytics are agents that help remove senescent cells from your tissues. There is a natural product (quercetin), found in apples and health stores that is a mild senolytic. (I do not recommend you take quercetin though eating apples is fine.) A few of years ago, I had not heard about senolytics. Judging by the Wikipedia page, the idea has emerged around 2013. A quick search in Google Scholar seems to reveal that 2013 is roughly accurate. (Update: Josh Mitteldorf credits work by Jan van Deursen of Mayo Clinic dating back to 2011) You may want to remember this term. Anyhow, the BBC reported on a recent trial in mice:

They have rejuvenated old mice to restore their stamina, coat of fur and even some organ function. The findings, published in the journal Cell, showed liver function was easily restored and the animals doubled the distance they would run in a wheel. Dr de Keizer said: “We weren’t planning to look at their hair, but it was too obvious to miss.” “In terms of mouse work we are pretty much done, we could look at specific age-related diseases eg osteoporosis, but we should now prepare for clinical translation.”

At this point, the evidence is very strong that removing senescent cells is both practical and beneficial. It seems very likely that, in the near future, older people will be healthier through senolytics. However, details matter. For example, senescent help your skin to heal, so removing all of your senescent cells all the time would not be a good thing. Moreover, senolytics are likely slightly toxic, after all they get some of your cells to die, so you would not want to overdose. You probably just want to maintain the level of senescent cells at a low level, by periodic “cleansing”. How to best achieve this result is a matter of research.

Are professors going to move to YouTube and make a living there? Some are doing it now. Professor Steve Keen has gone to YouTube to ask people to fund his research. Professor Jordan Peterson claims that he makes something like 10k$ a month through donations to support his YouTube channel. I am not exactly sure who supports these people and what it all means.

We are inserting synthetic cartilage in people with arthritis.

It seems that the sugar industry paid scientists to dismiss the health concerns regarding sugar:

The article draws on internal documents to show that an industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation wanted to “refute” concerns about sugar’s possible role in heart disease. The SRF then sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that. The result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding.

I think we should all be aware that sugar in large quantities makes you at risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. True dark chocolate is probably fine, however.

It seems that when it comes to fitness, high-intensity exercises (interval training) works really well, no matter your age: it improves muscle mitochondrial function and hypertrophy in all ages. [Translation: you have more energy (mitochondrial function) and larger muscles (hypertrophy).] So the treadmill and the long walks? They may help a bit, but if you want to get in shape, you better crank up the intensity.

John P. A. Ioannidis has made a name for himself by criticizing modern-day science. His latest paper is Meta-assessment of bias in science, and the gist of it is:

we consistently observed that small, early, highly-cited studies published in peer-reviewed journals were likely to overestimate effects.

What does it mean in concrete terms? Whenever you hear a breakthrough for the first, take it with a grain of salt. Wait for the results to be confirmed independently. Also, we may consider established researchers as more reliable, as per the paper’s results.

Viagra not only helps with erectile dysfunction, it seems that it keeps heart disease at bay too. But Viagra is out of patent at this point, so pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to shell out millions to market it for other uses. Maybe the government or academics should do this kind of research?

When thinking about computer performance, we often think of the microprocessor. However, storage and memory are often just as important as processors for performance. The latest boost we got were solid-state disks (SSD) and what difference does it make! Intel is now commercializing what might be the start of a new breakthrough (3D XPoint). Like a disk, the 3D XPoint memory is persistent, but it has latency closer to that of internal memory. Also, unlike our solid-state drives, this memory is byte addressable: you can modify individual bytes without having to rewrite entire pages of memory. In effect, Intel is blurring the distinction between storage and memory. For less than 2k$, you can now get a fancy disk having hundreds of gigabytes that works a bit like internal memory. The long-term picture is that we may get more and more computers with persistent memory that has nearly the performance of our current volatile memory, but without the need to be powered all the time. This would allow our computers to have a lot more memory. Of course, for this to happen, we need more than just 3D XPoint, but chances are good that competitors are hard at work building new types of persistent memory.

Leonardo da Vinci once invented a “self-supporting bridge”. Basically, given a few straight planks, you can quickly build a strong bridge without nail or rope. You just assemble the planks and you are done. It is quite impressive: I would really like to know how da Vinci’s mind worked. Whether it is was ever practical, I do not know. But I came across a cute video of a dad and his son building it up.

We have been told repeatedly that the sun was bad for us. Lindqvist et al. in Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death find contrary evidence. If you are to believe their results, it is true that if you spend more time in the sun, you are more likely to die of cancer. However, this is because you are less likely to die of other causes:

Women with active sun exposure habits were mainly at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and noncancer/non-CVD death as compared to those who avoided sun exposure. As a result of their increased survival, the relative contribution of cancer death increased in these women. Nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking. Compared to the highest sun exposure group, life expectancy of avoiders of sun exposure was reduced by 0.6–2.1 years.

Sun exposure is good for your health and makes you live longer. No, we do not know why.

Our DNA carries the genetic code that makes us what we are. Our cells use DNA as a set of recipes to make useful proteins. We know that as we age, our DNA does not change a lot. We know because if we take elderly identical twins, their genetic code is very similar. So the body is quite careful not to let our genes get corrupted. Random mutations do occur, but a single cell being defective is hardly cause for concern. Maybe you are not impressed to learn that your cells preserve their genetic code very accurately, but you should be. Each day, over 50 billion of your cells die through apoptosis and must be replaced. You need 2 million new red blood cells per second alone. Anyhow, DNA is not the only potential source of trouble. DNA is not used directly to make the proteins, our cells use RNA instead. So there is a whole complicated process to get from DNA to protein and even if your DNA is sane, the produced protein could still be bad. A Korean team recently showed that something called “nonsense-mediated mRNA decay” (NMR), a quality-control process for RNA, could improve or degrade the lifespan of worms if it is tweaked. Thus, even if you have good genes, it is possible that your cells could start making junk instead of useful proteins as you grow older.

Our bodies are built and repaired by our stem cells. Though we have much to learn, we know that injecting stem cells into a damaged tissue may help make it healthier. In the future, it is conceivable that we may regenerate entire organs in vivo (in your body) by stem cells injections. But we need to produce the stem cells first. The latest trend in medicine is “autologous stem cell transplantation”. What this means is that we take your own cells, modify them as needed, and then reinject them as appropriate stem cells where they may help. This is simpler for obvious reasons than using donated stem cells. For one thing, these are your own cells, so they are not likely to be rejected as foreign. But a lot of sick people are quite old. Are the stem cells from old people still good enough? In Regenerative capacity of autologous stem cell transplantation in elderly, Gonzalez-Garza and Cruz-Vega tell us that it is indeed the case: stem cells from elderly donors are capable of self-renewal and differentiation in vitro. That’s true even though the gene expression of the stem cells taken from elderly donors differs from that of younger donors.

In a Nature article, researchers report being able to cause a tooth to regrow using stem cells. The subject (a dog) saw a whole new tooth grow and become fully functional. If this works, then we might soon be able to do the same in human being. Can you imagine regrowing a whole new tooth as an adult? It seems that we can do it.

Back in 2010, researchers set up the ImageNet challenge. The idea was to take a large collection of images and to ask a computer what was in the image. For the first few years, the computers were far worse than human beings. Then they got better and better. And better. Today, machines have long surpassed human beings to the point of making the challenge less irrelevant in the same way Deep Blue defeating Kasparov made computer Chess programs less exciting. It seems like the competition is closing down a last workshop: “The workshop will mark the last of the ImageNet Challenge competitions, and focus on unanswered questions and directions for the future.” I don’t think that the researchers imagined, back in 2010, that the competition would be so quickly defeated. Predicting the future is hard.

A new company, Egenesis wants to build genetically modified pig that can be used as organ donors for human beings. George Church from Harvard is behind the company.

Intel, the companies that make the microprocessors in your PCs, is creating an Artificial Intelligence group. Artificial Intelligence is quickly reaching peak hype. Greg Linden reacting to “TensorFlow [an AI library] is the new foundation for Computer Science”: “No. No, it’s not.”

Currently, if you want to stop an incoming rocket or a drone, you have to use a missile of your own. That’s expensive. It looks like Lockheed Martin has a laser powerful enough to stop a rocket or a drone. In time, this should be much more cost effective. Want to protect an airport from rockets and drones? Deploy lasers around it. Next question: can you build drones that are impervious to lasers?

Andy Pavlo is a computer science professor who tries to have real-world impact. How do you do such a thing? From his blog:

(…) the best way to have the most impact (…) is to build a system that solves real-world problems for people.

Andy is right, of course, but what is amazing is that this should even be a question in the first place. Simply put: it is really hard to have an impact on the world by writing academic papers. Very hard.

There is a new planet in our solar system: “it is almost 10 times heavier than the Earth”. Maybe.

Western Digital sells 14TB disks, with helium. This is huge.

Netflix is moving from a rating system based on 5 stars to a thumbs-up, thumbs-down model.

In a New Scientist article, we learn about new research regarding the “rejuvenation of old blood”. It is believed that older people have too much of some factors in their blood, and it is believed that simply regularizing these levels would have rejuvenation effect. But, of course, it may also be the case that old blood is missing some “youthful factors” and that other tissues than the blood, such as the bone marrow, need them. This new research supports this view:

When Geiger’s team examined the bone marrow of mice, they found that older animals have much lower levels of a protein called osteopontin. To see if this protein has an effect on blood stem cells, the team injected stem cells into mice that lacked osteopontin and found that the cells rapidly aged.

But when older stem cells were mixed in a dish with osteopontin and a protein that activates it, they began to produce white blood cells just as young stem cells do. This suggests osteopontin makes stem cells behave more youthfully (EMBO Journal, “If we can translate this into a treatment, we can make old blood young again,” Geiger says.

Tech people often aggregate in specific locations, such as the Silicon Valley, where there are jobs, good universities, great experts and a lot of capital. This lead to rising cost of living and high real estate prices. Meanwhile, you can buy houses for next to nothing if you go elsewhere. It seems that the price differential keeps on rising. Will it go on forever? Tyler Cowen says that it won’t. He blames the high real estate prices on the fact that technology disproportionally benefits specific individuals. However, he says, technology invariably starts to benefit a wider share of the population, and when it does, real estate prices tend toward a fairer equilibrium.

Electronics-Lab: GPS tracking with an MSP430F5510 over GPRS

Bluehash over at writes:

I found a tiny gem while browsing Github for MSP430 projects. This one is a GPS tracker based on a MSP430F5510 with a GPRS cellular connection for reporting and command input. The GPS is a FGPMMOPA6H from GlobalTop and the GPRS module is a SIM900 from Simcom.
The Github link has details from code to schematics and board files.

GPS tracking with an MSP430F5510 over GPRS – [Link]

The post GPS tracking with an MSP430F5510 over GPRS appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Bo Bartlett

A selection of paintings by American painter Bo Bartlett. Have a look at more images and a video below.

Colossal: New Sculptural Eyewear Produced From Salvaged Street Metal and Found Objects by Cyrus Kabiru

Kwa Kubadilishana Utamaduni, Macho Nne: At the Dot, 2017. 59 1/10 × 47 1/5 in

Self-taught Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru (previously) fashions extravagant eyewear from pieces of found metal and other salvaged materials on the streets of his hometown of Nairobi. Kabiru has been building his futuristic glasses since childhood, and dedicates much of his time to producing works for his C-Stunner series of eyeglasses and coordinating photographs. Recently Kabiru has begun to expand his work to include large non-body-based sculptures, installations, and collage.

Kabiru’s practice is deeply tied to Afrofuturism, a genre that combines science fiction, magical realism, and historical fiction with the culture and politics of the African diaspora. His work was featured in the newly released Gestalten publication Africa Rising: Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa. You can see more of his eyewear and larger sculptures on Artsy and SMAC.

Kubwa Macho Nne – American Darts, 2015.

Kubwa Macho Nne – Tom and Jerry (2015)

Mali Ya Mfalme, Macho Nne | Nubia Kale (Ancient Nubia), 2016

Njia Ya Maisha Macho Nne Throwback, 2015

Njia Ya Maisha, Macho Nne Egyptian Peacock, 2015

Kwa Kubadilishana Utamaduni, Macho Nne: Catalan Sun, 2017

s mazuk: heeeraldo: runonsentencesaboutemotions: deniablesmiles: tempe...





in my mothers jewelry box, hidden amongst precious family heirlooms was a promotional coin for space jam

Reblog the spacejam coin for luck and money

Reblog to welcome the Jam into your life.

attn @smasuch

Open Culture: The Famous Schrodinger’s Cat Thought Experiment Gets Brought to Life in an Off-Kilter Animation

Schrödinger’s Cat is one of the more famous thought experiments in modern physics, created by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger back in 1935.  The Telegraph summarizes the gist of the experiment as follows:

In the hypothetical experiment … a cat is placed in a sealed box along with a radioactive sample, a Geiger counter and a bottle of poison.

If the Geiger counter detects that the radioactive material has decayed, it will trigger the smashing of the bottle of poison and the cat will be killed.

The experiment was designed to illustrate the flaws of the ‘Copenhagen interpretation’ of quantum mechanics, which states that a particle exists in all states at once until observed.

If the Copenhagen interpretation suggests the radioactive material can have simultaneously decayed and not decayed in the sealed environment, then it follows the cat too is both alive and dead until the box is opened.

The University of Nottingham’s Sixty Symbols YouTube channel provides a more complete explanation. But with or without any further introduction, you can watch the off-kilter animation, above, which imagines the origins of the original experiment. It was created by Chavdar Yordanov for an animation show in London.

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The Famous Schrodinger’s Cat Thought Experiment Gets Brought to Life in an Off-Kilter Animation 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: Hollow Figurative Sculptures by Park Ki Pyung

South Korean sculptor Park Ki Pyung creates hollow human works from resin and steel, pieces that appear to express an extreme melancholia with bowed heads and resigned body language. The life-size sculptures are held upright with rebar, and are built to reflect Pyung’s deep existential musings. By stripping the figures’ cores he points towards his own inner turmoil, presenting figurative shells, rather than completed human forms. You can view more of his hollow steel sculptures on his Instagram. (via iGNANT)

All Content: CHiPS


Action-comedy "CHiPS" is a buddy film about overcompensating characters that seems to have also been made by overcompensating comedians. Unfortunately, the movie frequently devolves into the same chauvinism and homophobia that star/writer/director Dax Shepard sometimes half-heartedly mocks. This isn't a knowing parody of a beloved show, a la the 2012 reboot/parody "21 Jump Street"; it's a sample of the brain-dead entertainment against which its creators are supposedly reacting.

Painfully unfunny sex jokes ensue soon after Jon Baker (Shepard), a former pro-motorcycle rider turned straight-laced rookie highway patrolman, teams up with an undercover fed who goes by the name of Frank "Ponch" Poncherello (Michael Peña). Ponch is on the trail of a group of dirty cops led by Vic Brown (Vincent D'Onofrio) and reluctantly enlists Baker's help. That blind trust is supposed to be a remarkable sign of good faith given how much of a wreck Baker is; he's addicted to painkillers and can't bear the thought of breaking up with his estranged wife (Kristen Bell). Ponch's sex addiction and generally reckless behavior presumably complements Baker's whole uptight vibe. 

Ultimately, the worst thing that happens to these men—between seemingly inconsequential confrontations with Kurtz—is that women constantly fling themselves at them. This could be funny if the film's characters seemed to be in on the joke, but they're usually exhibiting the same insecurities they're supposedly sending up. In a scene that's prominently featured in the film's trailer, Ponch falls face-first into Baker's naked crotch while he tries to bring his then-incapacitated partner to his bathtub for a soak. This scene is supposed to be the tipping point for the two characters: Ponch can't possibly be homophobic because he and Baker bond at the absurdity of making face-junk contact. 

Unfortunately, there's nothing funny about the parade of bare breasts and over-sexed, under-developed female characters that Shepard uses to perpetually re-affirm Ponch and Baker's heterosexuality. These guys may worry about each other's sexual preferences, as we see in the scene where Ponch gasps at the sight of Baker and his colleague's fully-clothed genitals touching each other when they embrace in the men's changing room. But Baker is almost immediately pounced on by Ava (Rosa Salazar), a fellow cop who just happens to be a motorcycle buff. Ponch is similarly sized up and treated to nude photos three times throughout the film, a running gag that climaxes as poorly as it begins. The fact that these guys have attractive women practically begging to strip and/or pose for them would be funny if Shepard actually did something with Ponch's sex addiction or Baker's timidity. 

But more often than not, Shepard uses his characters' neuroses as hooks that he can hang a bunch of lame sex jokes on. These jokes, collectively, make "CHiPS" look like a broad comedy about one thing: straight men who can't bear the thought of being presumed homosexual. There's the out-of-nowhere joke where two Spanish-speaking car mechanics joke about Baker's presumably small penis while Ponch translates everything they say into disingenuously complimentary English. And there's the gag about Ponch getting a woman to perform anilingus on him, a joke that backfires immediately because Ponch insists that he likes to give as well as receive since all modern couples do it. And, as if that joke's unpleasant reliance on the juvenile assumption that being kinky must be icky, there's also the out-of-context scene where Ponch and Baker are ogled by Ava, fellow lady motorcycle cop Lindsey (Jessica McNamee), and by a gay cop who is in barely any scenes, and exclusively identified as gay.

This last gag is especially telling. It feels like Shepard's defensive way of warding off criticism that the film is reveling in, rather than parodying, such piggish sexism. After all, how could the film be anything but good-natured when two women and a gay man get to briefly objectify Ponch and Baker, too? By throwing viewers these token gestures of good faith, Shepard only makes his characters more exhaustingly unsympathetic. Never mind the fact that the film's chase scenes are so manically edited that you'll feel like you're watching a highlight reel of a chase instead of a full-length sequence.  

The only laugh-out-loud moment in the film isn't even an intentional gag. It's the moment where Ponch gets off his macho high horse and shares a pseudo-empathetic moment with Baker, though it's tellingly a moment where he's criticizing Baker for still being hung up on his wife. For a brief shining moment, they talk about their feelings, and the film's tone seems to finally be more than just a rancid gag machine. Then Baker teases Ponch for being sincere, and the movie goes back to being a monotonous slog. It's fitting that "CHiPS" concludes with two characters making out while a third one looks on. This joke is just a thin excuse for viewers to enjoy the sight of a woman's form-fitting pants as she straddles an unlikable character's lap and makes out with abandon. Because who needs empathy, human characters, good action, or witty banter when you can just leer at a woman from behind while she rewards an unworthy character with musky, manly, lady-objectifying sex?

Penny Arcade: Comic: Hell’s Kitchen

New Comic: Hell’s Kitchen

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Sacrifice

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I will never get tired of mystical beings interacting with lazy humans.

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All Content: Life


After the relatively warm-and-fuzzy space odysseys of “Arrival” and “Passengers” it’s salutary to see a relatively big studio sci-fi picture in which the final frontier is once again relegated to the status of Ultimate Menace. Genre thrill-seekers disgusted/disappointed by “Prometheus” but still salivating like Pavlov’s Dog at the prospect of “Alien: Covenant” might find “Life,” directed by Daniel Espinosa, a satisfactory stopgap measure, a cinematic Epipen of outer-space mayhem to steady the nerves until the ostensible Main Event. As for myself, I’ve been gorging on such fare since before “Alien” itself—“It! The Terror from Beyond Space” and “Planet of the Vampires” were among my various cinematic bread and butters as a young maladjusted cinephile.

As such, “Life” struck me as several cuts above “meh” but never made me jump out of my seat. The picture takes place almost entirely on a claustrophobic, labyrinthine space station; director Espinosa and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey have a lot of fun in the early scene “floating” the camera along with the space station crew. Ryan Reynold’s cocky Roy is the cowboy of the bunch; he goes on a spacewalk to catch an off-course capsule full of research materials straight from Mars. Cautious medical officer David, played by an often bug-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal, is initially the fella who says things like “We weren’t trained for this.” Rebecca Ferguson’s Miranda plays den mother to him and others. Science dude Hugh (Ariyon Bakare), paralyzed from the waist down, loves zero gravity conditions, and initially loves the single-cell organism (named “Calvin” by a group of contest-winning schoolchildren down on home sweet Earth) he’s wrested from a sample of Martian soil. Two other crew members are played by Olga Dihovichnaya and Hiroyuki Sanada, the latter back in space for the first time since Danny Boyle’s 2007 “Sunshine.” 

You may remember the nickname “Dead Meat” from “Hot Shots,” or the phrase “Bantha Fodder” from one of the “Star Wars” movies. However. One of the bigger-name crew members does get to play (spoiler alert, sort of) a reprise of the Steven Seagal role in “Executive Decision.” That’s because little Calvin suddenly starts growing awful fast. At first it’s kind of like a living version of those icky sticky wall-tumbling toys. Which is bad enough. Eventually it grows into a tentacled cross between a mutant lotus and an irritated cobra. It’s pretty gnarly. But early on I thought, let’s face it, it ain’t Giger. Or Giger-league. And without that you’re always going to suffer by comparison. The other effects and settings are solid but unextraordinary, although the hiccupped blood bubbles that float around after escaping from Calvin’s victims are a nice ghoulish touch.

There’s also the constant, insistent score by Jon Ekstrand, bearing down right from the opening and not doing much for the cause. There are some disquieting bits—the early scene in which the maturing Calvin grabs on to Hugh’s gloved hand and simply will not let go is a nice burner, for sure. But the movie’s story “beats” are inescapably commonplace. (There’s even a bit derived from “The Thing From Another World” in which one ill-advised character contemplates Calvin’s scientific awesomeness.) Either screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick haven’t got the goods, or there really are only so many things you can do with a homicidal space creature and a manned ship.

It doesn’t help that just as the movie should be hurtling toward its climax, it pauses for some character development. A children’s book that makes a Chekhovian appearance in the “first act” holds the key to survival in the final one, and I didn’t buy it. What the filmmakers don’t understand is that when you try to add overtly cerebral notes to ruthless B-picture scenarios, you actually wind up making your final product dumber than the movies you think you’re transcending. “Life” bounces back a bit with a commitedly sour punchline, and then blows that by punching up a ‘70s hit you’ve heard a million times before in a million better cinematic contexts. And that’s “Life.” 

Planet Haskell: Philip Wadler: Explained Visually

As the creators put it
Explained Visually (EV) is an experiment in making hard ideas intuitive inspired the work of Bret Victor's Explorable Explanations. Sign up to hear about the latest.
I've found their explanations of Markov Chains and Eigenvectors and Eigenvalues both cool and clear.

Open Culture: A Short Video Introduction to Alice Guy-Blaché (1873–1968), the First Female Film Director & Studio Mogul

This year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” Before these lionesses are hustled offstage in order for us to refocus our attentions on Asian/Pacific Americans, Jewish-Americans, Autism Awareness, Multiple Births, Sexually Transmitted Disease Education, pecans and the myriad other calendar girls and boys that April brings, let’s join video essayist Catherine Stratton in celebrating the achievements of filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché, above.

While not an officially recognized honoree, Guy-Blaché, who made over 1,000 films over two decades, definitely qualifies as a trailblazing woman.

At age 21, she became the first female director in cinema history with The Cabbage Fairy, below, a whimsical, if not particularly accurate vision of where babies come from. (It was shot in 1896, long before rules limiting the amount of time a newborn actor can spend on set, but only a handful of years before nurse Margaret Sanger took up the cause of women’s reproductive health.)

She tackled the Life of Christ with a passel of animals, special effects, and 300 extras.

She popped viewers eyes with candy-colored hand tinting.

She built a state-of-the-art film studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey, pruning the terrain to serve as a variety of landscapes.

Viewed from the lens of 2017, one of her most startling achievements is 1912’s A Fool and His Money, an excerpt of which is below. The tale itself is an unremarkable crowdpleaser: a poor guy falls in love with a wealthy young woman. He goes to great lengths to woo her, outfitting himself with fancy duds and throwing a huge party, only to be bested by a flashy rival.

What is remarkable is that Guy-Blaché was white and the film’s cast is entirely African-American. According to essayist Stratton, the characters are portrayed with none of the explicit racism DW Griffith brought to The Birth of a Nation three years later.

As Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls site reports, Guy-Blaché passed from the public view after an expensive divorce from her philandering husband forced her to sell her studio. She struggled to gain public recognition for her pioneering contributions to film history with little success. A Fool and His Money was rediscovered when a flea market shopper bought a musty chest of old, unmarked reels.

Like that film, her reputation is slowly being restored to its former glory. She was awarded France’s Legion of Honor in 1955 and a Director’s Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Give this trailblazing woman another look!

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A Short Video Introduction to Alice Guy-Blaché (1873–1968), the First Female Film Director & Studio Mogul 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.

All Content: Power Rangers


Loud, trashy, sweet and weird, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers reboot “Power Rangers” is not merely an ideal film for rambunctious and undemanding 12-year olds, it actually sees the world through their eyes.

In theory, the heroes are high school students. But they’re actually a Disney Channel-styled fantasy of the splendors that await kids when they finally become full-fledged teenagers and can Do Whatever They Want. These heroes are misfits. They gather in detention in their high school, a scenario that promises to turn into “The Mighty Morphin Breakfast Club Rangers.” Lo and behold, that’s what you get: a mix of shenanigans, heart-to-heart talks and widescreen punch-outs between monster battles.

The team consists of Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), the future Red Ranger, a juvenile delinquent with a barely disguised noble streak; Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), aka Pink Ranger, a depressive who’s in detention for texting an embarrassing private photo of a classmate; Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), aka Blue Ranger, who’s got a spectrum disorder in this version; Becky G as Trini, the soon-to-be Yellow Power Ranger, who stays a blank slate until the movie fills in her backstory during the second half; and Ludi Lin as Zack, the Black Ranger, who was African-American in the original TV series but has been cast as Asian here.

The teens are trained by Zordon (Bryan Cranston), sole survivor of a prehistoric battle that ended with a meteor wiping out the dinosaurs. He wants them to defend the Earth against his nemesis, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), by karate-kicking and body slamming Rita’s beloved stone golems, then joining forces to defeat a gigantic golden warrior called Goldar.

There's a plot about the Rangers trying to protect a crystal hidden inside a Krispy Kreme donut shop, and a detailed mythology about the life force of planets, but while Rangers purists will appreciate the fine points, the film doesn't get too hung up on them. The best way to save humanity, Zordon explains, is to kill Rita. To drive this point home, the film repeats the phrase “kill Rita” so often and with such zeal that it becomes a shared joke between the movie and the audience. “Let's go and do the one thing that's been asked of us and kill Rita!" Jason exhorts his colleagues. “I shall destroy Rita myself!” Zordon proclaims when the training isn’t going so well.

The “stronger together” message of the original show has been given a post-Obama makeover here, sometimes convincingly, other times awkwardly. The film’s marketing hypes the fact that Trini has been re-imagined as the first openly gay superhero in movie history, and that is quite a milestone; but if you go out for popcorn in the scene where that’s established you might not figure it out, unless you detect the undertones of Sapphic menace in the scene where Rita bullies Trini in her bedroom. (It’s like when Paramount congratulated itself for making Sulu gay in “Star Trek Beyond” when all it did was give audiences a two-second glimpse of a photo revealing that Sulu's significant other was a man. Um, thanks?)

Billy, however, becomes a genuinely memorable character, thanks mainly to Cyler’s heartfelt performance (which overcomes a lot of fuzziness about what, exactly, the character’s condition is). And the screenplay makes this cheerful kid the heart and soul of the group, and sometimes its comic relief, without sapping him of dignity. Zack fares well, too: he loudly advertises himself as the “crazy” one, but in private moments he cares for his sickly mother with the same grim matter-of-factness that the title character of "Logan" brought into Professor X’s room along with meals and meds. (Zack and his mom speak Mandarin with English subtitles, a nice touch.)

Writer John Gatins and director Dean Israelite make sure to take the characters’ emotions seriously even as they celebrate the ridiculousness of everything else. Nailing the tone in a film like this is so important that if you manage it, the audience will forgive missteps. There are plenty here, including haphazard plotting, connect-the-dots characterizations, and nervous, jittery, over-edited filmmaking that only snaps into coherence during a handful of crisp action scenes (the best is an opening car chase done in a single take from inside a moving vehicle, à la “Let Me In” and “Children of Men”).

But every time your eyes are about to roll back into your head at the film’s slovenly direction and editing, it’ll throw in moments of pathos or images of eerie beauty (everything involving gold or water is aces). Or it will veer into three-hanky melodrama and inflict distress or bodily harm on a character you’re surprised to realize you’ve grown to like. The action is decent, occasionally splendid, near the end, although there are sure to be complaints that the movie takes too long to get the teens into their armor. It also hits too many overly familiar action film beats (including a side-by-side power walk), but if it hadn't, a lot of viewers would wonder why the filmmakers were stinting on the stuff they came to see (the power walk is pretty great).

What stands out about the film—and what consistently saves it, even when the direction is at its cruddiest—is its sincerity. “Power Rangers” really does believe that people are stronger united than when they’re going it alone, and it embeds that conviction into its action scenes. It also encourages its supporting players to cut loose and have fun, and boy, do they: Bill Hader’s training robot is pleasingly droll. “This is the pit,” he chirps, showing the heroes a pit full of dirt and rocks, then adds, “It’s great, right?” Banks’ slinky performance seems modeled equally on Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Sigourney Weaver as the demon-possessed Dana in the original “Ghostbusters.” She walks with slightly wobbly confidence, like a society lady who’s too old to be wearing such high heels. This is a film where a character's dad drives a pickup truck into the middle of a superhero battle to make sure his son is okay, and another character shouts “I love my mom!” so joyously that it echoes in the canyons.

I’ve seen complaints that “Power Rangers” is too crude in its humor, too precious in how it establishes its characters' outsider status, and too obvious about its product placement (the words “Krispy Kreme” are spoken nearly as often as “kill Rita”). All three charges are true. But I'd also suggest that a viewer's level of offense will likely be proportionate to how thoughtful they expected a film like this to be. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a subsidiary of Saban Entertainment, created to sell merchandise. It never had much artistic integrity to lose, so the fact that this film actually has some is amazing. This big-budget teen fantasy is essentially an unauthorized "Transformers" movie that has a moral code and is suitable for kids, in stark contrast to the actual "Transformers" franchise, which has prided itself on being snide, leering and hateful. "Power Rangers" is earnest and it has a good heart. There should be more movies like it, only better-made.

ScreenAnarchy: SALT AND FIRE: Check Out This Exclusive Clip From Werner Herzog's Thriller

Werner Herzog's eco-thriller Salt and Fire will be made available on VOD and iTunes on April 4th then released in U.S. cinemas on April 7th. XLrator Media is handling North American distribution of the film. ScreenAnarchy has an exclusive clip to share with you which you may find below.    Salt and Fire is about a mysterious hostage-taking where the leader of a small scientific delegation is deliberately stranded with two blind boys in an area of gigantic salt flats.    Shot in Bolivia, the film stars Michael Shannon, Veronica Ferres and Gael García Bernal and was written and directed by Werner Herzog, based on the story “Aral” by Tom Bissell.  ...

[Read the whole post on]

All Content: A Rising Star: Riley Keough on “The Discovery”


Riley Keough had an amazing 2016, landing a much-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Starz’s “The Girlfriend” and an equally-deserved Independent Spirit Award nomination for “American Honey.” Moving out of the shadow created by her family’s legacy (she’s the granddaughter of Elvis Presley), Keough continues her streak, appearing in last month’s “Lovesong,” and playing a crucial role in next week’s “The Discovery,” co-starring Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Jesse Plemons, and Robert Redford, which premiered at Sundance, where the actress spoke to us. In the film, Keough plays someone working with Redford’s doctor, who has conclusively proven the existence of an afterlife and now wants to prove exactly what happens next. It’s a relatively small part, but Keough does so much with it, proving that she remains one of the most interesting actresses of her generation. And she’s just getting started.

With “Girlfriend Experience” and “American Honey,” can we start with what 2016 meant to you? What was that year like?

It’s weird because I’ve been doing independent film for eight years. I was just doing my thing, and, all of a sudden it was just a bigger deal than normal. [Laughs] I was totally surprised. I don’t know. It’s weird.

Why did it all come together?

It was a mixture between timing and the roles and life and what’s happening in the world. It’s just timing.

Also, if you do good work long enough it gets recognized.


What does the awards recognition mean to you?

I don’t know. It was really great because I felt really supported by Independent Film, which was really cool. That made me really happy. The Spirit nomination meant so much to me. I watched it for years and was like, ‘That’s the room I want to be in. These are the people that I like.’ It’s just really special. It’s funny because I don’t know how I feel about awards necessarily. I was actually trying to figure out what it means to me because it’s not something I’ve thought about much until it happened.

You can’t plan for it.

Totally. I think I have to simplify it because people can get weird about it. For me, if you get awards or nominations, it does help you do more. I was talking to Andrea about this at Cannes, and she was like ‘Awards have helped me further my career.’ And just to be recognized by people you look up to is really nice.

You’ve done Sundance a few times. How is this Sundance different?

It’s an emotional thing for me. I love Sundance so much. I love being around people who love film so much and their energy. So I always love being at Sundance. It’s definitely one of my favorite festivals because it feels alive and excited. I really love it. It’s different in a couple ways. It’s different in that my schedule is a little more chill. I just have this and I’m more supporting so I’m not obliged to do everything. Last year my schedule was really crazy. It was fun but I can be able to see movies this year. Last year, I wasn’t able to see anything and you feel like an idiot. People are like ‘What have you seen?’ And you’re like, ‘My own movie? Three times?’ Also, it’s nice to be here right now where we’re all so, I think, like-minded. We’re still just doing our thing and trying to change things in the world. It’s a very supportive community and I feel really lucky to have that, especially today. We’re all trying to put our attention to art.

Let’s get to the movie. What attracted you to this project?

I love Charlie. And, also, I read the script, and it’s something I’ve never seen tackled directly before.

What’s that?

The afterlife. And not being super-ambiguous about it. This is what happens. It’s an interesting take on it and I’ve never thought of it before and I think of a lot of things. [Laughs] Pat myself on the back. It was a take I had never really seen. Also, there’s this element to it that was about family emotions and it was purely just sci-fi. It was in this sort of genre when I read it where it was a few different things.

Like “The One I Love.”

Exactly. So, it was a few different things. It was not something I read before …

So is that important to you when you get a script? Originality?

Oh, yeah. That’s like my main thing. If I read something and I’m like ‘I’ve never read something like this before,’ that makes me so excited. To be a part of it.

How important is it who you’re working with? I looked at what you have coming up …

And you see it’s very impressive. [Laughs]

The directors are like ‘Oh My God’ [David Robert Mitchell, Trey Edward Shults, Steven Soderbergh, Lars Von Trier]. So, is that a major thing for you now?

Yeah. Yes. It’s really important. Trusting your director is essential. For me, it’s having the same taste—films I like.

So, their previous work.

Yes, their previous work, exactly. A lot of the times it’s just that the artists I’m obsessed with want to hire me. [Laughs]

You’re a fan.

I’m a fan. I’m a HUGE fan. And then it’s the script. It’s all those things. I love working with newer filmmakers. By newer, I mean three movies. Charlie. David Robert Mitchell. Trey Shults. It’s super-innovative and exciting to me. Then I also love old-school. Steven Soderbergh.

How’s Charlie different from all these people?

Charlie is an interesting mix between … he’s super low-key and that energy is so important when you’re working. It allows you to do what you want and not feel restricted. But he also knows what he wants, so it’s not ‘Yeah, do whatever. Do your thing. I’ll watch.’ It’s not that loose. He’s chill, which allows you to feel free as an artist, but he also knows what he wants. He’s really easy to work with.

You don’t have as much back-story or material as Jason or Rooney, but you make an impact. How much back-story do you do for a character like this to make sure you make that impact?

A lot. I go as far as I can with everything. For me, I have to or else something will come up I don’t know and it freaks me out. I had figured out her whole story for myself.

Do you do that every time?

Mm-hmm. I don’t know. It would be weird for me [not to].

Do you do that alone or with Charlie?

A lot of times I’ll get what the director says and get the main things and then I’ll find stuff for myself that’s personal to me. I find if I talk about it then it gets weird. I listen to what they think and then add a bunch of random shit.

An actor once told me every movie is a learning experience so what did we learn here?

It’s so true. [Thinks] I learned how to openly be resentful. I know that sounds crazy. She decided to be unapologetically fucking angry and hurt, and that’s something I have a problem with. I tend to go inward. It makes you think, ‘Is that the right thing to do?’ It made me think a lot. I always do movies that make me think but I don’t really know what the result is. [Laughs]

What was the most challenging element of this?

I think existing in her struggle and being uncomfortable. I had anxiety when we were shooting. Being in her universe and having anxiety was a weird combination, but it was a really cool experience.

“The Discovery” premieres on Netflix on March 31, 2017.

Michael Geist: What Would a Digital Economy-Era NAFTA Mean for Canada?

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is expected to file a notice of renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement within weeks, paving the way for talks that could reshape the Canadian economy. It became clear last week that the renegotiation will involve much more than just a few “tweaks”, as a U.S. congressional hearing saw officials trot out the usual laundry list of demands including changes to agricultural supply management, softwood lumber exports, and anti-counterfeiting measures.

Those issues will undoubtedly prove contentious, yet my Globe and Mail article notes that more interesting were comments from Mr. Ross about the need for new NAFTA chapters to reflect the digital economy. The emphasis on digital policies foreshadows a new battleground that will have enormous implications for Canadian privacy laws and digital policies.

Some of the digital economy policies, including online contract enforcement and consumer protection, should be relatively uncontroversial. Moreover, online sellers can be expected to renew their call for increases to the de minimis customs threshold from the current C$20 to C$200. The measure would prove popular with consumers who would be free to import bigger ticket items tax-free, but is sure to face stiff opposition from Canadian retailers who fear heightened competition from U.S.-based Internet sellers.

Even more difficult will be U.S. demands that Canada refrain from establishing “data localization” rules that mandate retention of personal information on computer servers located in Canada. Data localization has become an increasingly popular policy measure as countries respond to concerns about U.S.-based surveillance and the subordination of privacy protections for non-U.S. citizens and residents.

In response to the mounting public concerns, leading technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have established or committed to establish Canadian-based computer server facilities that can offer localization of information. These moves follow on the federal government’s 2016 cloud computing strategy that prioritizes privacy and security concerns by mandating that certain data be stored in Canada. The Trans Pacific Partnership included restrictions on data localization requirements at the insistence of U.S. negotiators. Those provisions are likely to resurface during the NAFTA talks.

So too will limitations on data transfer restrictions, which mandate the free flow of information on networks across borders. Those rules are important to preserve online freedoms in countries that have a history of cracking down on Internet speech, but in the Canadian context, could restrict the ability to establish privacy safeguards. In fact, should the European Union mandate data transfer restrictions as many experts expect, Canada could find itself between a proverbial privacy rock and a hard place, with the EU requiring restrictions and NAFTA prohibiting them.

The NAFTA digital economy implications extend beyond privacy issues. The U.S. and Canada have begun to move in opposite directions on network neutrality rules, which ensure that all content and applications are treated equally online. Canada has had net neutrality rules in place since 2009 and many believe that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will expand them later this year.

Since the election of President Donald Trump, the U.S. has shifted away from its open Internet policies. The TPP included general net neutrality obligations, but a renegotiated NAFTA could see the U.S. seek to stop net neutrality rules from restricting potential “zero rating” agreements between large U.S. rights holders and Canadian Internet providers.

The updated trade agreement could also touch on digital cultural policies. The TPP departed from longstanding Canadian policy by not containing a full cultural exception and creating unprecedented restrictions on policies to support the creation of Canadian content. Those included a ban on access restrictions to online video services and a limitation on requirements on foreign providers to make financial contributions in support of Canadian content production.

Those provisions were seemingly designed to support the unregulated entry of services such as Netflix with trade-based restrictions on creating a so-called “Netflix tax.” There is little support for a cultural Netflix tax within the government, but cultural policy has traditionally been treated as a hands-off area for Canadian trade negotiators. Having opened the door to new regulatory restrictions in the TPP, those provisions can be expected to resurface during the NAFTA renegotiation.

Many of these digital provisions went largely unnoticed during the TPP talks, but will garner far tougher scrutiny in the spotlight of NAFTA trade negotiations. Indeed, the initial U.S. signals suggest that the renegotiated agreement could have a profound impact on Canadian law and policy, creating an enormous challenge for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who must simultaneously bring the U.S. onside and sell the deal to the Canadian public.

The post What Would a Digital Economy-Era NAFTA Mean for Canada? appeared first on Michael Geist.

Electronics-Lab: Roshamglo Badge, The Rock-Paper-Scissors kit by SparkFun

The SparkFun Roshamglo is the new and fun way to play Rock-Paper-Scissors with your friends! The board uses the ATtiny84, and has an IR LED and receiver to communicate between badges. To play, simply point the USB connector at your opponents Roshamglo up to 5 feet away and press the 5-way switch to the left for rock, up for paper, and right for scissors. The red/green LED will display a solid red for lose, green for win, or alternate red and green for a tie. Your Roshamglo can also be worn with a lanyard clip to provide you easier access when a battle is about to ensue!

The Roshamglo Badge comes as an easy to assemble kit that only requires you to solder on six battery clips to the underside of the board and insert three AAA sized alkaline batteries. No other soldering or programming is required! Once you install the clips and batteries you can start playing Rock Paper Scissors with a friend or start hacking your Roshamglo.

The Roshamglo uses the Micronucleaus bootloader, which allows for programming from the Arduino IDE via the USB connector at the front of the board. We have included two tutorials below to help teach you how to hack your new Roshamglo as well as turn it into a remote to control to turn on and off most styles of televisions!


  • 8kB of flash memory for our program (~6kB after the bootloader is installed)
  • 512B of SRAM, which stores our variables used in our program
  • 512B of EEPROM
  • 12 IO pins MAX (the Roshamglo breaks out 9 of these pins)
  • 10-bit analog to digital converter which can be used on 8 pins
  • IR LED
  • IR receiver with built in 38kHz demodulator
  • USB programming
  • Programmable red and green LED
  • Power switch
  • 5-way switch for input
  • Reset switch

Roshamglo comes with 3x AAA Alkaline batteries and a 6x AAA battery holder and you can order it now for $12.95.
You can also check the product page for more technical details and source files. Also check this guide to know how to use the Roshmalgo Badge from SparkFun.

Source: SparkFun

The post Roshamglo Badge, The Rock-Paper-Scissors kit by SparkFun appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

ScreenAnarchy: North Hollywood CineFest 2017 kicks off tonight

The highly anticipated 4th edition of the North Hollywood CineFest kicks off tonight in Los Angeles. This year's festival will run from March 24-30 and the fantastic line-up includes new work from established and fresh filmmaking talent. Look out for Speak Now by Melissa Vitello, Ghost in the Machine by Brock Humphrey, The Lady Killers by Phil Leirness, Bear with Us by William J. Stribling, Red by Branko Tomovic, Welcome to Willits by Trevor Ryan, ToY by Patrick Chapman, American Fango by Gabriele Altobelli, House By The Lake by Adam Gierasch, H.O.M.E. by Daniel Maldonado and many more...  The festival kicks off on March 24 with I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker by Clayton Cogswell and offers many LA and world premieres in the following days, including American Fango, Bear with Us, The Big Day and Speak Now. The 4th annual film festival will take...

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Open Culture: Carl Sagan Explains How the Ancient Greeks, Using Reason and Math, Figured Out the Earth Isn’t Flat, Over 2,000 Years Ago

The denial of science has entered the highest levels of government, and no matter what the data says, the U.S. promises to cease all efforts to curtail, or even study, climate change. Astrophysicist Katie Mack calls this retrenchment a form of “data nihilism,” writing in an exasperated tweet, “What is science? How can a thing be known? Is anything even real???” Indeed, what can we expect next from what Isaac Asimov called the United States’ anti-intellectual “cult of ignorance”? A flat earth lobby?

Welp… at least a couple celebrity figures have come out as a flat-earthers, perhaps the vanguard of an anti-round earth movement. First Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving made the claim on a podcast, insisting, Chris Matyszczyk writes, that “we were being lied to about such basic things by the global elites.”  Then, no less a basketball worthy than Shaquille O’Neal weighed in with his own belief in flat-earthism.

Is this a joke? I hope so. Neil DeGrasse Tyson—who hosted the recent Cosmos remake to try and dispel such scientific ignorance—replied all the same, noting that Irving should “stay away from jobs that require… understanding of the natural world.” The weird affair has played out like a sideshow next to the mainstage political circus, an unsettling reminder of Carl Sagan’s prediction in his last book, The Demon Haunted World, that Americans would soon find their “critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true.”

Sagan devoted much of his life to countering anti-science trends with warmth and enthusiasm, parking himself “repeatedly, arguably compulsively, in front of TV cameras,” writes Joel Achenbach at Smithsonian. We most remember him for his original 1980 Cosmos miniseries, his most public role as a “gatekeeper of scientific credibility,” as Achenbach calls him. I think Sagan may have chafed at the description. He wanted to open the gates and let the public in to scientific inquiry. He charitably listened to unscientific theories, and patiently took the time to explain their flaws.

In the very first episode of Cosmos, Sagan addressed the flat-earthers, indirectly, by explaining how Eratosthenes, a Libyan-Greek scholar and chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria, discovered over 2000 years ago that the earth is a sphere. Given the geographer, mathematician, poet, historian, and astronomer’s incredible list of accomplishments—a system of latitude and longitude, a map of the world, a system for finding prime numbers—this may not even rank as his highest achievement.

In the Cosmos clip above, Sagan explains Eratosthenes’ scientific method: he made observations of how shadows change length given the position of the sun in the sky. Estimating the distance between the cities of Syene and Alexandria, he was then able to mathematically calculate the circumference of the earth, as Cynthia Stokes Brown explains at Khan Academy. Although “several sources of error crept into Eratosthenes’ calculations and our interpretation of them,” he nonetheless succeeded almost perfectly. His estimation: 250,000 stadia, or 25,000 miles. The actual circumference: 24,860 miles (40.008 kilometers).

No, of course the Earth isn’t flat. But Sagan’s lesson on how one scientist from antiquity came to know that isn’t an exercise in debunking. It’s a journey into the movement of the solar system, into ancient scientific history, and most importantly, perhaps, into the scientific method, which does not rely on hearsay from “global elites” or shadowy figures, but on the tools of observation, inference, reasoning, and math. Professional scientists are not without their biases and conflicts of interest, but the most fundamental intellectual tools they use are available to everyone on Earth.

via 9Gag

Related Content:

Carl Sagan Predicts the Decline of America: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, “Without Noticing, Back into Superstition & Darkness” (1995)

Hear Carl Sagan Artfully Refute a Creationist on a Talk Radio Show: “The Darwinian Concept of Evolution is Profoundly Verified”

Carl Sagan Presents His “Baloney Detection Kit”: 8 Tools for Skeptical Thinking

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

Carl Sagan Explains How the Ancient Greeks, Using Reason and Math, Figured Out the Earth Isn’t Flat, Over 2,000 Years Ago 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: Telmo Miel

Another batch of murals by artist duo Telmo Pieper and Miel Krutzmann (aka Telmo Miel), including “Hit the Lights,” a collaboration with Spanish artist Sebas Velasco (organized by Sober Collective) in The Netherlands as well as their piece with Evoca in Honolulu. Images below.

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Anna Madia

Paintings by artist Anna Madia, from France. Click here for previous posts. More images below.

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Louis Fratino

A selection of paintings by artist Louis Fratino. See more images below.

Open Culture: Stream Loads of “City Pop,” the Electronic-Disco-Funk Music That Provided the Soundtrack for Japan During the Roaring 1980s

News about Japan today tends to focus on the country’s long economic stagnation and population decline, but in the 1980s it looked like the world’s next superpower. Harvard social scientist Ezra Vogel had just published the bestselling warning Japan as Number One. Postwar reconstruction had turned into rapid growth, then into a kind of financial gigantism. International consumers drove Japanese cars and filled their homes with Japanese electronics. Japanese conglomerates went on a worldwide spending binge, snapping up other countries’ real estate, their manufacturers, and even their movie studios. Camera-wielding Japanese tourists replaced the “ugly American” as the boorish wealthy tourist of stereotype.

What went on back in Tokyo as the rest of the developed world looked on in amazement (and a kind of horror)? Outside of Japan’s infamously rigorous work culture — itself part of the reason for all the growth — its boom and consequently enormous asset bubble gave rise to new lifestyles and cultures, and the soundtrack of the party was “city pop.” Mixing English lyrics in with Japanese, drawing influences from Western disco, funk, and R&B, and using the latest sonic technologies mastered nowhere more than in Japan itself, this new, slickly produced subgenre offered a cosmopolitanism, according to Mori-ra at Electronic Beats, that “appealed to those who benefited from the so-called post-war ‘economic miracle.'” While outside Japan “city pop might be viewed as general 1980s Japanese music, now that Japanese music has become trendy, city pop has begun to be uncovered and even reissued.”

What’s more, city pop has become a subculture again in our internet era, and a global one at that. Its current enthusiasts, many of them not Japanese or in any case born too late to benefit from the boom, create and share their own city pop mixes, carefully curating the tracks (sometimes even supplying visuals gathered from sources like the Japanese animation of the era, often with a Blade Runner aesthetic) to perfectly evoke the high life in 1980s Tokyo as they imagine it. (Friends who actually lived in Japan then describe it as an environment of unalloyed new-money obnoxiousness, but city pop, like all pop, sells fantasy, not reality.) You get a taste of that high life by sampling the many city pop mixes freely available on the internet. At the top of this post you’ll find the second of three posted to Youtube by a user called Van Paugam (part one, part two, part three).

Below that, we have a 45-minute “Mixtape from Japan” whose creator goes by Starfunkel. It features not just city pop tracks but, for transitional material, vintage recordings and movie clips to do with the Land of the Rising Sun. (Keep your ears open for the voice of Bill Murray.) Then, the vinyl-only mix by I’mmanuel in Amsterdam simply titled “音楽 Ongaku #1” — Japanese for “music” — places city pop in a context with other Japanese grooves of the era. You’ll find much more curated city pop on Soundcloud, from the ever-growing “High School Mellow” series to Brazilian funk musician Ed Motta’s 70s-oriented mix to Mori-Ra’s own maximally mellow “Japanese Breeze” collection. Get too deep, though, and you’ll end up like me, making trips to Japan to go city pop-shopping and even (slowly) reading Japanese books on the subject. The bubble may have long since burst, but the beat goes on.

Related Content:

Japanese Priest Tries to Revive Buddhism by Bringing Techno Music into the Temple: Attend a Psychedelic 23-Minute Service

Blade Runner Spoofed in Three Japanese Commercials (and Generally Loved in Japan)

A Wealth of Free Documentaries on All Things Japanese: From Bento Boxes to Tea Gardens, Ramen & Bullet Trains

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.


Stream Loads of “City Pop,” the Electronic-Disco-Funk Music That Provided the Soundtrack for Japan During the Roaring 1980s 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: LET ME BE FRANK: Episode 6 “Learning the Trickster’s Art”

Episode 6, “Learning the Trickster’s Art”, of the LET ME BE FRANK web documentary series, has just come out. This episode features readings by poet/musician Kirk Lumpkin and poet/artist Daniel “Attaboy” Seifert, both frequent guests on Frank Moore’s Shaman’s Den show.  This episode also features “I Have My Ways”, the next installment of a new animated segment, “How To Handle An Anthropologist”, which features interviews from the upcoming book by the same name, a collection of 12 years of conversations between anthropologist Russell Shuttleworth, PhD and Frank Moore. This episode also includes an audiovisual journey through Frank’s piece, "An update of the last 37 years of my life" and features music by Frank Moore, Vinnie Spit Santino, Spirit In Flesh, Sander Roscoe Wolff, Barbara Golden,...

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Sam Harris: The Russia Connection

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Anne Applebaum about Russia’s meddling in the U.S. Presidential election and Trump’s troubling affinity for Vladimir Putin.

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. She is also a visiting Professor at the London School of Economics where she runs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda.

Formerly a member of the Washington Post editorial board, she has also worked at the Spectator, the Evening Standard, Slate, the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, the Economist, and the Independent. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, Foreign Affairs, The New Criterion, The Weekly Standard, the New Republic, The National Review, The New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, and many other journals.

She is the author of Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, which describes the imposition of Soviet totalitarianism in Central Europe after the Second World War. Her previous book, Gulag: A History, won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2004. Comic for 2017.03.24

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Saving Syria: keeping war-torn culture alive

Destruction and displacement -- that's the story of Syria today. Paul Kennedy talks with three Syrians who believe in other Syrias, with stories about love, and laughter, and smell of jasmine and tarragon.

Perlsphere: Call for Grant Proposals (March 2017 Round)

The Grants Committee is accepting grant proposals all the time. We evaluate them every two months and another evaluation period has come. This month's round is a little later than usual, due to the selection of a new GC Secretary (myself). This round will be slightly compressed, and we'll strive to get back on track for the next round.

If you have an idea for doing some Perl work that will benefit the Perl community, consider sending a grant application. The application deadline for this round is 23:59 April 2nd UTC. We will publish the received applications, get community feedback and conclude acceptance by April 12th.

To apply, please read How to Write a Proposal. Rules of Operation and Running Grants List will also help you understand how the grant process works. We also got some grant ideas from the community. The format is the same as the previous rounds in 2014-2016.

We will confirm the receipt of application within 24 hours.

If you have further questions, please contact me at tpf-grants-secretary at

Perlsphere: New Grant Committee Member & Secretary

Please join me in welcoming John SJ Anderson (genehack) as the newest voting member of The Perl Foundation's Grants Committee. John has helped organize several recent YAPCs, given talks and training at YAPCs, and maintains several modules on CPAN.

Additionally, as Makoto Nozaki is transitioning to the secretary of the TPF Board, he is vacating the position of GC Secretary, and I have been selected to to fill the role.

My apologies for the delays in the transition. Look for a posting shortly about the March call for proposals.

Perlsphere: Perl 6 IO Grant: February 2017 Report

Zoffix Znet provided this report on February 26, 2016

This document is the February, 2017 progress report for TPF Standardization, Test Coverage, and Documentation of Perl 6 I/O Routines grant


I'm currently running slightly behind the schedule outlined in the grant. I expect to complete the Action Plan and have it ratified by other core members by March 18th, which is the date of the 2017.03 compiler release. Then, I'll implement all of the Action Plan (and complete the grant) by the 2017.04 compiler release on April 15th. This is also the release the next Rakudo Star distribution will be based on, and so the regular end users will receive better IO there and then.

Some members of the Core Team voiced concerns over implementing any changes that can break users' code, even if the changes do not break 6.c-errata specification tests. Once the full set of changes is known, they will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and some of them may be implemented under 6.d.PREVIEW pragma, to be included in 6.d language version, leaving 6.c language versions untouched. Note that changes that are decided to be 6.d material may delay the completion of this grant due to not fully-fleshed out infrastructure for supporting multiple language versions. The April 15th deadline stated above applies only to changes to 6.c language and new deadline will be ascertained for completion of the 6.d changes.

User Communications

I wrote and disseminated advanced notice of the changes to be made due to this grant, to prepare the users to expect some code to break (some routines were found to be documented, despite being absent entirely from the Specification and not officially part of the language).

The notice can be seen at:

It is possible the Core Team will decide to defer all breaking changes to 6.d language version, to be currently implemented under v6.d.PREVIEW pragma.

Bonus Deliverable

The bonus deliverable—The Map of Perl 6 Routines—is now usable. The code is available in perl6/routine-map repository, and the rendered version is available on Its current state is sufficient to serve the intended purpose for this grant, but I'll certainly add improvements to it sometime in the future, such as linking to docs, linking to routines' source code, having an IRC bot looking stuff up in it, etc.

It'll also be fairy easy to use the Map to detect undocumented routines or ones that are documented under the incorrect type.

Identified Issues/Deficiencies with IO Routines

These points, issues, and ideas were identified this month and will be included for consideration in the Action Plan.

  • Calling practically any method on a closed IO::Handle results in an LTA (Less Than Awesome) error message that reads <something> requires an object with REPR MVMOSHandle where <something> is sometimes the name of the method called by the user and others is some internal method invoked indirectly. We need better errors for closed file handles; and not something that would require a is-fh-closed() type of conditional called in all the methods, which would be a hefty performance hit.
  • Several routines have been identified which in other languages return useful information: number of bytes actually written or current file position, whereas in Perl 6 they just return a Bool (.print, .say, .write) or a Mu type object (.seek). Inconsistently, .printf does appear to return the number of bytes written. It should be possible to make other routines similarly useful, although I suspect some of it may have to wait until 6.d language release.
  • The .seek routine takes the seek location as one of three Enum values. Not only are they quite lengthy to type, they're globally available for no good reason and .seek is virtually unique in using this calling convention. I will seek to standardize this routine to take mutually-exclusive named arguments instead, preferably with much shorter names, but those are yet to be bikeshed.
  • IO.umask routine simply shells out to umask. This fails terribly on OSes that don't have that command, especially since the code still tries to decode the received input as an octal string, even after the failure. Needs improvement.
  • link's implementation and documentation confuses what a "target" is. Luckily (or sadly?) there are exactly zero tests for this routine in the Perl 6 Specification, so we can change it to match the behaviour of ln Linux command and the foo $existing-thing, $new-thing argument order of move, rename, and other similar routines.
  • When using run(:out, 'some-non-existant-command').out.slurp-rest it will silently succeed and return an empty string. If possible, this should be changed to return the failure or throw at some point.
  • chdir's :test parameter for directory permissions test is taken as a single string parameter. This makes it extremely easy to mistakenly write broken code: for example, "/".IO.chdir: "tmp", :test<r w> succeeds, while "/".IO.chdir: "tmp", :test<w r> fails with a misleading error message saying the directory is not readable/writable. I will propose for :test parameter to be deprecated in favour of using multiple named arguments to indicate desired tests. By extension, similar change will be applied to indir, tmpdir, and homedir routines (if they remain in the language).
  • Documentation: several inaccuracies in the documentation were found. I won't be identifying these in my reports/Action Plan, but will simply ensure the documentation matches the implementation once the Action Plan is fully implemented.

Discovered Bugs

The hunt for 6-legged friends has these finds so far:

Will (attempt to) fix as part of the grant

  • indir() has a race condition where the actual dir it runs in ends up being wrong. Using indir '/tmp/useless', { qx/rm -fr */ } in one thread and backing up your precious data in another has the potential to result in some spectacular failurage.
  • perl6 -ne '@ = lines' crashes after first iteration, crying about MVMOSHandle REPR. I suspect the code is failing to follow iterator protocol somewhere and is attempting to read on an already closed handle. I expect to be able to resolve this and the related RT#128047 as part of the grant.
  • .tell incorrectly always returns 0 on files opened in append mode
  • link mixes up target and link name in its error message

Don't think I will be able to fix these as part of the grant

  • seek() with SeekFromCurrent as location fails to seek correctly if called after .readchars, but only on MoarVM. This appears to occur due to some sort of buffering. I filed this as RT#130843.
  • On JVM, .readchars incorrectly assumes all chars are 2 bytes long. This appears to be just a naive substitute for nqp::readcharsfh op. I filed this as RT#130840.

Already Fixed

  • While making the Routine Map, I discovered .WHICH and .Str methods on IO::Special were only methods defined only for the :D subtype, resulting in a crash when using, say, infix:<eqv> operator on the type object, instead Mu.WHICH/.Str candidates getting invoked. This bug was easy and I already commited fix in radudo/dd4dfb14d3 and tests to cover it in roast/63370fe054

Auxiliary Bugs

While doing the work for this grant, I also discovered some non-IO related bugs (some of which I fixed):

TheSirensSound: New EP Knuckles by BROHUG

LaForge's home page: Upcoming v3 of Open Hardware miniPCIe WWAN modem USB breakout board

Back in October 2016 I designed a small open hardware breakout board for WWAN modems in mPCIe form-factor. I was thinking some other people might be interested in this, and indeed, the first manufacturing batch is already sold out by now.

Instead of ordering more of the old (v2) design, I decided to do some improvements in the next version:

  • add mounting holes so the PCB can be mounted via M3 screws
  • add U.FL and SMA sockets, so the modems are connected via a short U.FL to U.FL cable, and external antennas or other RF components can be attached via SMA. This provides strain relief for the external antenna or cabling and avoids tearing off any of the current loose U.FL to SMA pigtails
  • flip the SIM slot to the top side of the PCB, so it can be accessed even after mounting the board to some base plate or enclosure via the mounting holes
  • more meaningful labeling of the silk screen, including the purpose of the jumpers and the input voltage.

A software rendering of the resulting v3 PCB design files that I just sent for production looks like this:


Like before, the design of the board (including schematics and PCB layout design files) is available as open hardware under CC-BY-SA license terms. For more information see

It will take some expected three weeks until I'll see the first assembled boards.

Disquiet: Disquiet Junto Project 0273: Alarm Clocked

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’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, March 27, 2017. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0273: Alarm Clocked
The Assignment: Make music for a (new! improved!) slow-waking alarm clock.

Step 1: You’re going to make music for an alarm clock. Think about what you like and hate about alarms, and about your morning routine.

Step 2: This alarm clock is special. You set it three minutes before you’re due to wake up, and the music slowly gets louder as those three minutes pass. Then at precisely three minutes in, the alarm-like nature of the sound announces itself, and then the music plays for roughly another full minute.

Step 3: Create an original piece of music based on steps 1 and 2.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If you hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0273″ (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 please consider posting your track:

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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, March 27, 2017. This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

Length: The piece should be roughly four minutes long, per the instructions.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0273″ 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, as well as the identity of the source track that yours accompanies:

More on this 273rd weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Alarm Clocked: Make music for a (new! improved!) slow-waking alarm clock” — at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

Image associated with this track is used with a Creative Commons license:

IEEE Job Site RSS jobs: Assistant Professor, Real-time Embedded Systems

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Carleton University Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:11:17 -0700

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

All you need to know about how Toronto real estate happened last Saturday. Fifteen thousand people packed a tacky seminar on how to get rich buying property. Yes, in Toronto – now one of the most inflated, bubbly, frothy, horny housing markets on the planet, where prices rose 27% in a year and, according to Tony Robbins, they can never go down.

Robbins, of course, is a motivational speaker who knows diddly about Toronto real estate. The same with some dude named Pitbull. He spoke, too. And the kid realtor who hosts “Love it or List It” in Vancouver. But Brad Lamb was there, the condo flogger who finds math so challenging. And did I mention there were 15,000 others? They all paid between $50 and $150 for a seat, so the organizers made millions – which went to Robbins, the doggy guy et al.

The event was a ‘real estate wealth expo’, not aimed at helping people buy a home to live in, but full of encouragement to borrow massively and – as soon as possible – grab real estate as an investment. No money down. Rent it out. Watch it soar. How hard can that be?

There comes a time in the life of every bubble, usually near death, when the fools pile in at the moment of peak euphoria. History is rife with examples. The pattern is as ancient and reliable as human nature. Now, in Toronto, this is that instant. When speakers make big bucks telling you to do something, rather than doing it themselves, it’s time to go home. That’s now. When everyone is clamouring to buy the same asset, as they did with Nortel stock seventeen years ago, sell.

But let’s not just trust history. Instead, hard evidence. Facts, numbers, stats. For some, we turn to John Pasalis, a fixture on the Canadian real estate scene, and head of an outfit called Realosophy Realty. The thing that differentiates JP from the normal realtor is perspective and (dare I say it?) integrity. Very truthy dude.

Anyway, he has just released a large, indepth and highly interesting paper called “Freeholds on Fire: how Investor Demand for House is driving up Prices in the GTA.” The conclusion is simple. It’s not Chinese industrialists. It’s not moist Millennials. It’s not even the Bank of Mom or rapacious lenders at the heart of the current delusion – but Tony Robbins-inspired losers gobbling up every listing that materializes.

And why are they losers? Because, as Pasalis found, 95% of them are cash-flow negative. In other words, almost all of these ‘investors’ are bleeding money monthly. If the price appreciation stops (and it will), they will truly qualify as the GTA’s greater fools.

Here is the report’s summery page:

Lack of government data and competing explanations for Toronto’s skyrocketing real estate prices have resulted in uncertainty about whether the market is becoming unstable. Using an innovative method of measuring investor demand which looks at the number of houses being bought and immediately rented out, Realosophy’s John Pasalis finds evidence of speculative activity across the Greater Toronto Area, specifically:

  • These investors are responsible for 17-21% of all sales in Aurora, Newmarket and Richmond Hill and 36-39% of all sales in some of the GTA’s hottest neighbourhoods.
  • Whitby, Ajax and Oshawa all saw the steepest increase in sales to investors of over 400% in just 4 years.
  • An estimated 95% of all investment properties purchased in 2016 are losing money every month.
  • This subset of investors in the GTA real estate market alone accounted for 10% of all sales; all investors could be responsible for as much as 25%-30% of all sales. This behaviour, emblematic of bubble markets according to leading economists, not only prices out regular buyers, but eventually risks a market correction affecting all property owners. Regular buyers and sellers are advised to be aware of what Greater Toronto Area neighbourhoods are showing the greatest signs of speculation when making real estate decisions. Governments are called to implement the right measures to address the problems suggested by the data. Most notably, lenders currently underwrite mortgages for residential investment properties as if they are owner occupied homes, resulting in a loophole that allows buyers to finance money losing investment properties largely with debt; these loopholes should be closed by tightening lending practices.

In the past, this blog has pointed out that 52% of all condo purchases are currently being made by speculators, not owners. Virtually every one of those units will end up hitting the rental market unable to provide a positive rate of return for the investor. Even with 2.5% mortgages available, after financing charges, property tax, condo fees, insurance and the lost investing power of the downpayment, it is impossible to make money as a condo landlord. The situation is even more dire with detached houses or rental semis – now costing seven figures. Negative cash flow, with everyone gambling that prices will continue to inflate. As the Realosophy boss concludes, this is the reason a boom became a bubble, and will end in a bust.

What can be done?

The Ontario government asked the feds to impose a higher capital gains tax on spec real estate. They didn’t. So now it’s up to the provincial guys to levy a speculation tax on non-principal residence holdings – if they have the courage. Meanwhile the CRA is routinely forcing speckers to include real estate gains in their taxable income, not allowing the 50% capital gains tax exemption, because they consider speculation to be a business. Finally, as JP suggests, bankers should stop lecturing people about how risky real estate now is, and do something about it.

In any case, it’s only a matter of time. Fifteen thousand sweaty investors sealed it.

Michael Geist: C’mon Uber: Sales Taxes on Uber Rides Are Not a “Tax on Innovation”

Yesterday’s federal budget included plans to amend the law to ensure that GST/HST is applicable to ride sharing services such as Uber. The budget states that the government will:

Amend the definition of a taxi business under the Excise Tax Act to level the playing field and ensure that ride-sharing businesses are subject to the same GST/HST rules as taxis.

This change should not be particularly controversial. No one likes paying taxes, but equal application of sales taxes ensures appropriate revenue collection and a level-playing field for all businesses in the sector. As I noted in an earlier post, I expect that this is a first step toward extending requirements to collect and remit sales taxes on foreign digital services such as Netflix and Spotify.  Applying sales taxes to all foreign digital services is complicated – there needs to be thresholds implemented to ensure that administrative costs do not outweigh revenues collected – but Uber is well established in Canada with many local jurisdictions establishing a regulatory framework for the service.

Moreover, Uber already collects and remits sales taxes in some Canadian jurisdictions. For example, the Uber page for drivers in Montreal explains that drivers are required to obtain sales tax registration numbers. It adds:

After you have provided your tax numbers, Uber will collect and pay the sales tax (GST and QST) for every trip on your behalf. However, you will need to report your sales tax once per year.

In fact, Uber promotes the sales tax collection by promising drivers a six percent rebate on the sales tax collected to account for offsetting business expenses. In other words, Uber promotes sales tax collection as a benefit to drivers in Montreal. When sales tax questions have been raised elsewhere, Uber has also claimed that drivers are expected to collect GST/HST (which is totally unrealistic given that it uses cashless transactions).

Given its position on sales taxes in Montreal, Uber might have welcomed the announcement in yesterday’s budget. However, it is apparently opposed, implausibly claiming that it is a “tax on innovation.” The company states:

This new tax on innovation would hurt over a million Canadians who use ridesharing to earn income and get around their cities.

It continues by claiming that Uber doesn’t even compete with taxis. Rather, it says its competition is with car ownership and that the tax will make Uber less price competitive with buying a car (last time I checked, cars were subject to sales taxes). Uber has enough regulatory fights on its hands. It doesn’t need another one based on weak claims about innovation that are directly contradicted by its own business practices in one of Canada’s largest cities.

The post C’mon Uber: Sales Taxes on Uber Rides Are Not a “Tax on Innovation” appeared first on Michael Geist.

Planet Haskell: Edwin Brady: Type Driven Development with Idris

Type Driven Development with Idris, published by Manning, is now in print.

There’s a couple of free sample chapters, and an excerpt from Chapter 3 (including a discount code for 37% off the book) on interactive development in Atom.

Open Culture: Nick Cave Narrates an Animated Film about the Cat Piano, the Twisted 18th Century Musical Instrument Designed to Treat Mental Illness

What do you imagine when you hear the phrase “cat piano”? Some kind of whimsical furry beast with black and white keys for teeth, maybe? A relative of My Neighbor Totoro’s cat bus? Or maybe you picture a piano that contains several caged cats who shriek along an entire scale when keys are pressed that slam sharpened nails into their tails. If this is your answer, you might find people slowly backing away from you at times, or gently suggesting you get some psychiatric help.

But then, imagine that such a perverse oddity was in use by psychiatrists, like the 18th-century German physician Johann Christian Reil, who—reports David McNamee at The Guardian—“wrote that the device was intended to shake mental patients who had lost the ability to focus out of a ‘fixed state’ and into ‘conscious awareness.’”

So long, meds. See you, meditation and mandala coloring books…. I joke, but apparently Dr. Reil was in earnest when he wrote in an 1803 manual for the treatment of mental illness that patients could “be placed so that they are sitting in direct view of the cat’s expressions when the psychiatrist plays a fugue.”

A bafflingly cruel and nonsensical experiment, and we might rejoice to know it probably never took place. But the bizarre idea of the cat piano, or Katzenklavier, did not spring from the weird delusions of one sadistic psychiatrist. It was supposedly invented by German polymath and Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680), who has been called “the last Renaissance man” and who made pioneering discoveries in the fields of microbiology, geology, and comparative religion. He was a serious scholar and a man of science. Maybe the Katzenklavier was intended as a sick joke that others took seriously—and for a very long time at that. The illustration of a Katzenklavier above dates from 1667, the one below from 1883.

Kircher’s biographer John Glassie admits that, for all his undoubted brilliance, several of his “actual ideas today seem wildly off-base; if not simply bizarre” as well as “inadvertently amusing, right, wrong, half-right, half-baked, ridiculous….” You get the idea. He was an eccentric, not a psychopath. McNamee points to other, likely apocryphal, stories in which cats were supposedly used as instruments. Perhaps, cruel as it seems to us, the cat piano seemed no crueller in previous centuries than the way we taunt our cats today to make them perform for animated GIFs.

But to the cats these distinctions are meaningless. From their point of view, there is no other way to describe the Katzenklavier than as a sinister, terrifying torture device, and those who might use it as monstrous villains. Personally I’d like to give cats the last word on the subject of the Katzenklavier—or at least a few fictional animated, walking, talking, singing cats. Watch the short animation at the top, in which Nick Cave reads a poem by Eddie White about talented cat singers who mysteriously go missing, scooped up by a human for a “harpsichord of harm, the cruelest instrument to spawn from man’s gray cerebral soup.” The story has all the dread and intrigue of Edgar Allan Poe’s best work, and it is in such a milieu of gothic horror that the Katzenklavier belongs.

The Cat Piano narrated by Nick Cave will be added to our list of Free Animations, a subset of our meta collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.

Related Content:

Explosive Cats Imagined in a Strange, 16th Century Military Manual

Thomas Edison’s Boxing Cats (1894), or Where the LOLCats All Began

Medieval Cats Behaving Badly: Kitties That Left Paw Prints … and Peed … on 15th Century Manuscripts

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

Nick Cave Narrates an Animated Film about the Cat Piano, the Twisted 18th Century Musical Instrument Designed to Treat Mental Illness 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: Fintan Magee

Another batch of murals by Australian artist Fintan Magee (previously featured here). More images below.

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: On the importance of variety...

Electronics-Lab: Snapmaker, The Modular & Multi-Functional 3D Printer

Snapmaker is a Kickstarter project with a lofty goal: to be the holy trinity for at-home makers by using detachable modules to convert between a 3D printer, a CNC carver, and a laser engraver. In retrospect, the idea seems almost obvious. All three devices need three-axis motors to work: so why not combine them into one?

But Snapmaker doesn’t just stand out for its modular nature — it’s also impressively cheap. The default Snapmaker costs $299 on Kickstarter, and includes just the 3D printer. The laser engraver and CNC modules then each cost $75, making the entire package cost $449 — which would be a pretty good price for just one of these devices, let alone all three.

Snapmaker also claims that it’s offering a fairly high-quality printer for the price, with an “all-metal” construction and 3.2-inch color touchscreen. When it comes to actual specifications, the 3D printing module can print items up to 125 x 125 x 125mm in size at a resolution of 50–300 microns. When it comes to engraving, the laser module offers a 500mW beam that can work with wood, bamboo, leather, plastic, fabric, and paper. And the CNC module can carve wood, acrylic, and PCB at speeds between 2,000 and 7,000 RPM.

Obviously, these are some pretty big promises to be making, especially at the relatively low price point that Snapmaker sells for. And as a first time, crowdfunded project from a new company that has yet to ship a product before, the burden is on Snapmaker to show that they can actually deliver. And while the company has posted videos to YouTube demonstrating the various modules in action, at the price that Snapmaker is selling, it’s possible the whole thing is too good to be true.

The crowdfunding campaign still has 35 days to go, and is already 130% funded! Check out the technical details at the official website.

Source: The Verge

The post Snapmaker, The Modular & Multi-Functional 3D Printer appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Colossal: Larger-Than-Life Hyperrealistic Portraits Rendered in Graphite and Charcoal by Arinze Stanley

Till He Comes, 2017. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils.

Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley works with graphite and charcoal pencils on large sheets of cartridge paper to render enormous portraits of his subjects. Spending upwards of 200 hours on an artwork, Stanley agonizes over the most minute details of each piece to painstakingly capture reflections of light, droplets of sweat, or tangles of hair.

Where some hyperrealistic artists lean towards idealized perfection, Stanley instead focuses on pure realism, infusing portraits with a raw sense of emotion and drama. The scale of each piece, always slightly larger than life, adds an uncanny three-dimensional aspect.

Stanley recently exhibited work at Omenka Gallery and you can see more of his works (and pieces in progress) on Facebook. (via ARTNAU, Juxtapoz)

Till He Comes, 2017. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils.

Till He Comes, 2017. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils.

Till He Comes, 2017. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils.

INSOMNIA, 2017. 27″ X 42″. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils on Strathmore 300 Bristol (smooth) paper.

INSOMNIA, 2017. 27″ X 42″. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils on Strathmore 300 Bristol (smooth) paper.

INSOMNIA, 2017. 27″ X 42″. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils on Strathmore 300 Bristol (smooth) paper.

Desolation, 2016. Progress photo. Graphite and charcoal pencils.

Desolation, 2016. Graphite and charcoal pencils.

FAMISHED (Disturbia series), 2016. Progress photo.

FAMISHED (Disturbia series), 2016. 26″ x 36″. Graphite and charcoal on Cartridge paper.

Innocence, 2016. 33” X 23.4″. White and black charcoal pencils and graphite pencils on Lambeth Cartridge paper.

Perlsphere: Saving your test suite history

If you saw my FOSDEM talk about Building a Universe in Perl, I show some examples of the code we use to model behaviors in our universe. I start talking about out test suite at one point and that's probably the most exciting part. You see, we've been fixing our leaderboard system in part because I can do this:

That's a truncated version of our test failure report for tests failing on master. Leaderboard tests show up twice in there.

Ever have an failing test and trying to remember if it failed before? Is it fragile code? Is it fragile tests? Has it ever failed on your master branch? What percentage of your tests fail? Well, now you can find out.

Test::Class::Moose::History works like this.

  my $runner = Test::Class::Moose::Runner->new( %opts );

# get current branch and latest commit id
# example assumes `git`, but you can use any info you need here
chomp( my $branch = `git rev-parse --abbrev-ref HEAD` );
chomp( my $commit = `git rev-parse HEAD` );

my $history = Test::Class::Moose::History->new(
    runner => $runner,
    branch => $branch,
    commit => $commit,
my $report = $history->report;

my %report_methods = (
    last_test_status => [qw/Class Method Runtime Passed/],
    last_failures    => [qw/Class Method/],
    top_failures     => [qw/Class Method First Last Errors/],

my $builder = Test::Builder->new;
foreach my $method ( sort keys %report_methods ) {
    my $results = $report->$method;
    my @rows = ( $report_methods{$method}, @$results );
    $builder->diag("\nReport for $method");
    $builder->diag( generate_table( rows => \@rows, header_row => 1 ) );

Alternatively, if you've already saved report data, you can do this:

  my $report = Test::Class::Moose::History::Report->new;
my $failures = $report->last_failures;

So on the Tau Station test suite, I can do thing like:

  prove t/tcm.t :: --failures

And that will rerun the last set of failing tests rather than the entire test suite.

Why Test::Class::Moose?

If you wanted to build a single page web site and you just printed the HTML in a large heredoc, no one's going to care. If you build a large-scale application like that, people are going to care. In fact, as projects get larger, many people reach for frameworks because many of the bits and pieces you need are already in place.

Similarly for test suites: if you're just writing a small test suite for a module, that's fine. If you're building a large test suite for a huge application, you should be more careful with your test suite. I may be biased as I wrote it, but I recommend Test::Class::Moose (now maintained by Dave Rolsky). More and more companies are using because it makes test suites much easier to organize and maintain. Set up your test runner, your test base class, and start writing great tests.

It also has great reporting, but until now, that information hasn't been saved anywhere. Now with Test::Class::Moose::History, that's changed. It's not on the CPAN yet as I'd like to iron out the kinks, but if you use Test::Class::Moose, I think you'll love saving your test history.

Note: If you have trouble getting up and running with Test::Class::Moose, the Test::Class::Moose::History test suite has a small test suite that's a great example to start from. Also, you can download that module and run prove t/tcm.t :: --report to see some sample reports showing my test suite development for the code.

While the code is a proof of concept, we've been using it with the Tau Station team for over half a year. It's also running on our Jenkins box so we can see what tests fail there, too.

Hire Us!

As always, if you want top-notch software development or training, or help building your test suite, drop me a line at ovid at Most of us are Perl devs, but we also do front-end development, Golang, C++, Lua, and Python. Due to our extensive links in multiple software communities, if you need an expert in another language, let me know.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Unintended Consequences

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Four-hundred years from now, I will be hailed as a prophet.

New comic!
Today's News:

Hey geeks! London tickets are pretty close to sold out, but we moved over some of our reserved spots. So, there's still a little availability!

New Humanist Blog: Book review: The Battle for British Islam

Sara Khan's book is essential reading for those who care about building and maintaining a peaceful, plural society.

OCaml Planet: Polynomials over rings

Polynomials over rings

This post provides a workout in generic programming using modules & functors.

The program presented here models univariate polynomials over rings based on an exercise in "The Module Language" chapter, of Didier Rémy's book, Using, Understanding and Unraveling the OCaml Lanaguage.

Arithmetics and rings

We begin with a type for modules implementing arithmetic.

module type ARITH = sig
type t
val of_int : int -> t val to_int : t -> int
val of_string : string -> t val to_string : t -> string
val zero : t val one : t
val add : t -> t -> t val sub : t -> t -> t
val mul : t -> t -> t val div : t -> t -> t
val compare : t -> t -> int val equal : t -> t -> bool
A ring is a set equipped with two binary operations that generalize the arithmetic operations of addition and multiplication.

module type RING = sig
type t
type extern_t
val print : t -> unit
val make : extern_t -> t val show : t -> extern_t
val zero : t val one : t
val add : t -> t -> t val mul : t -> t -> t
val equal : t -> t -> bool
We can build rings over arithmetics with functors. This particular one fixes the external representation of the elements of the ring to int.

module Ring (A : ARITH) :
RING with type t = A.t and type extern_t = int =
include A
type extern_t = int
let make = of_int let show = to_int
let print x = print_int (show x)
Thus, here for example are rings over various specific arithmetic modules.

module Ring_int32 = Ring (Int32);;
module Ring_int64 = Ring (Int64);;
module Ring_nativeint = Ring (Nativeint);;
module Ring_int = Ring (
type t = int
let of_int x = x let to_int x = x
let of_string = int_of_string let to_string = string_of_int
let zero = 0 let one = 1
let add = ( + ) let sub = ( - )
let mul = ( * ) let div = ( / )
let compare = let equal = ( = )


We define now the type of polynomials.

module type POLYNOMIAL = sig
type coeff (*Type of coefficients*)
type coeff_extern_t (*Type of coeff. external rep*)

(*Polynomials satisfy the ring interface*)
include RING (*Declares a type [t] and [extern_t]*)

(*Function to evaluate a polynomial at a point*)
val eval : t -> coeff -> coeff
Given a module implementing a ring, we can generate a module implementing polynomials with coefficients drawn from the ring.

module Polynomial (R : RING) :
POLYNOMIAL with type coeff = R.t
and type coeff_extern_t = R.extern_t
and type extern_t = (R.extern_t * int) list =

type coeff = R.t (*Coefficient type*)
type coeff_extern_t = R.extern_t (*External coeff. rep*)
type extern_t = (coeff_extern_t * int) list (*External polynomial rep*)

(*List of coefficients and their powers*)
type t = (coeff * int) list (*Invariant : Ordered by powers,
lower order terms at the front*)

(* ... *)

As the comments indicate, the polynomial data structure is a list of pairs of coefficients and powers, ordered so that lower powers come before higher ones. Here's a simple printing utility to aid visualization.

let print p =
(fun (c, k) -> Printf.printf "+ (";
R.print c;
Printf.printf ")X^%d " k)
In order that we get a canonical representation, null coefficients are eliminated. In particular, the null monomial is simply the empty list.

let zero = []
The multiplicative identity one is not really necessary as it is just a particular monomial however, its presence makes polynomials themselves satisfy the interface of rings.

let one = [, 0]
This helper function constructs monomials.

let monomial (a : coeff) (k : int) =
if k < 0 then
failwith "monomial : negative powers not supported"
else if R.equal a then [] else [a, k]
Next up, we define addition of polynomials by the following function. Care is taken to ensure the representation invariant is respected.

let rec add u v =
match u, v with
| [], _ -> v
| _, [] -> u
| ((c1, k1) :: r1 as p1), ((c2, k2) :: r2 as p2) ->
if k1 < k2 then
(c1, k1) :: (add r1 p2)
else if k1 = k2 then
let c = R.add c1 c2 in
if R.equal c then add r1 r2
else (c, k1) :: (add r1 r2)
else (c2, k2) :: (add p1 r2)
With monomial and add avaialable, we can now write make that computes a polynomial from an external representation. We also give the inverse function show here too.

let make l =
List.fold_left (fun acc (c, k) ->
add (monomial (R.make c) k) acc) zero l

let show p =
List.fold_right (fun (c, k) acc -> ( c, k) :: acc) p []
The module private function times left-multiplies a polynomial by a monomial.

let rec times (c, k) = function
| [] -> []
| (c1, k1) :: q ->
let c2 = R.mul c c1 in
if R.equal c2 then times (c, k) q
else (c2, k + k1) :: times (c, k) q
Given the existence of times, polynomial multiplication can be expressed in a "one-liner".

let mul p = List.fold_left (fun r m -> add r (times m p)) zero
Comparing two polynomials for equality is achieved with the following predicate.

let rec equal p1 p2 =
match p1, p2 with
| [], [] -> true
| (c1, k1) :: q1, (c2, k2) :: q2 ->
k1 = k2 && R.equal c1 c2 && equal q1 q2
| _ -> false
In the course of evaluating polynomials for a specific value of their indeterminate, we'll require a function for computing powers. The following routine uses the exponentiation by squaring technique.

let rec pow c = function
| 0 ->
| 1 -> c
| k ->
let l = pow c (k lsr 1) in
let l2 = R.mul l l in
if k land 1 = 0 then l2 else R.mul c l2
Finally, the function eval for evaluation of a polynomial at a specific point. The implementation uses Horner's rule for computationally efficient evaluation.

let eval p c = match List.rev p with
| [] ->
| (h :: t) ->
let reduce (a, k) (b, l) =
let n = pow c (k - l) in
let t = R.add (R.mul a n) b in
(t, l) in
let a, k = List.fold_left reduce h t in
R.mul (pow c k) a

Testing and example usage

The following interactive session creates a polynomial with integer coefficients module and uses it to confirm the equivalence of $(1 + x)(1 - x)$ with $(1 - x^{2})$.

# #use "";;
# module R = Ring_int;;
# module P = Polynomial (R);;
# let p = P.mul (P.make [(1, 0); (1, 1)]) (P.make [(1, 0); (-1, 1)]);;
# let q = P.make [(1, 0); (-1, 2)];;
# P.equal p q;;
- : bool = true
Polynomials in two variables, can be treated as univariate polynomials with polynomial coefficients. For example, the polynomial $(X + Y)$ can be regarded as $(1 \times X^{1})Y^{0} + (1 \times X^{0})Y^{1}$. Similarly we can write $X - Y$ as $(1 \times X^{1})Y^{0} + (-1 \times X^{0}) Y^1$ and now check the equivalence $(X + Y)(X - Y) = (X^{2} - Y^{2})$.

#module Y = Polynomial (P);;

#(* (X + Y) *)
#let r = Y.make [
# ([1, 1], 0); (*(1 X^1) Y^0*)
# ([1, 0], 1) (*(1 X^0) Y^1*)

#(* (X - Y) *)
#let s = Y.make [
# ([1, 1], 0); (*(1 X^1) Y^0*)
# ([-1, 0], 1) (*((-1) X^0) Y^1*)

#(* (X^2 - Y^2) *)
#let t = Y.make [
# ([1, 2], 0); (*(1 X^2) Y^0*)
# ([-1, 0], 2) (* (-1 X^0) Y^2*)

#Y.equal (Y.mul r s) t;;
- : bool = true

Colossal: New Mixed Media Landscapes and Still Lifes That Merge Photography and Impressionism by Stev’nn Hall

Stev’nn Hall (previously) blends photography and painting together in an impressionistic style, often focusing his works on the rural landscapes of his Canadian home, or images of flowers he takes in his studio. The pieces are built from images shot with a 35mm camera, and feature gestures on the surface in the mediums of acrylic, ink, and pastel. These markings serve as both complements to the landscapes and abstract bits of scrawl, simultaneously pushing the underlying photograph to appear more like a painting, and Hall’s painted additions to seem like photographic errors. You can see more of his mixed media works on Tumblr and Instagram.

Image by Alejandro Collados Nunez

things magazine: Bits and pieces

A few random things / the Pierre Cardin bubble palace in pictures / The Hidden Persuader, Christopher Turner on the genesis of advertising (at Reading Design) / SÉANCE: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm, a new book from Unbound … Continue reading

Electronics-Lab: ICP12 USBSTICK, A New Tool for Signals Control & Monitoring

iCircuit Technologies had produced the iCP12 usbStick, a mini size 28 pin USB PIC IO development board and a good tool for signal monitoring (as oscilloscope), data acquisition and circuit troubleshooting at 1mSec/Samples period.

The iCP12 usbStick is a PIC18F2550 based USB development board that comes preloaded with Microchip’s USB HID bootloader which allows users to upload an application firmware directly through a PC’s USB port without any external programmer. It provides access to its I/O pins through 0.1″ pitch headers. A slide switch is also provided on board to select the operation of the board in Bootloader or Normal mode.

The features of iCP12 are listed as following:

  • Mini size, easy interfacing, high performance and user friendly device
  • Used with PIC18F2553 28-Pin Flash USB PIC MCU
  • Excellent flexibility that allows user to expand the board with plug and play modules
  • Peripheral Features:
    • 13x IO Port (6x 12bit ADC pins, 2x 10 bit PWM/Freq/DAC pins)
    • Serial port emulation (UART Baud Rates: 300 bps to 115.2 kbps)
    • Supported operating systems (32bit/64bit): Windows XP ,Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Linux, Mac OS X and Raspberry Pi
    • Maximum Voltage: 5Vdc
    • 100mA current output at VDD pin with over-current protection
    • 20MHz oscillator
    • Green LED – power on indicator
    • 2x LEDs (Green, Red) – status indicator
    • ICSP Connector – on-board PIC programming
    • Switch Mode Selection – Boot or Normal mode

The iCP12 usbStick board is shipped with a preloaded data acquisition firmware that emulates as a virtual COM port to PC. Thereafter, the communication between the PC and usbStick is serial. The firmware also supports basic I/O control and data logging feature. They provide a PC application named SmartDAQ that is specially developed to communicate with the usbStick and control its I/O pins, PWM outputs, and record ADC inputs.

SmartDAQ has a very friendly GUI with real-time waveform displays for 6 analog input channels. The time and voltage axes scales are adjustable. SmartDAQ can log the ADC data in both text and graphic form concurrently. One can utilize this feature to construct a low-cost data acquisition system for monitoring multiple analog sensor outputs such as temperature, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetic field sensor, etc.

SmartDAQ v1.3 Features:

  • Sampling channel: 6x Analogs (12bits ADC/1mV Resolution) + 7x Digitals (Input/Output)
  • Maximum Sampling rate: 1KHz or 1mSec/Samples
  • Sampling voltage: 0V – 5V (scalable graph) at 5mV Resolution
  • Sampling period:
  • mSec: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500
  • Sec: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30
  • Min: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 60
  • Trigger Mode: Larger [>], Smaller [<], Positive edge [↑], Negative edge [↓]
  • Sampling Mode: Continuous, Single
  • Logging Function:
  • Save Format: Text, Graphic, Both
  • Start Time: Normal, Once Trigger, 24-Hour Clock (Auto Run)
  • End Time: Unlimited, Data Size, 24-Hour Clock (Auto Stop)
  • Recorded Data format: Graphic | text | excel

iCP12 is available with the PIC18F2550 for $15, and with the PIC18F2553 for $24.5. You can order it through the official page where you can also get more details about iCP12 and its source files.

You can also see this product preview to know more about its functionality.

The post ICP12 USBSTICK, A New Tool for Signals Control & Monitoring appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Electronics-Lab: ReRAM, Process Data Where They Are Stored

Because data storage and processor are separated from each other, moving data between the storage and the computation unit became a main factor in computing.
Many techniques were developed to speed up this process, such as pipelining, caching, and look-ahead execution, but “ReRAM” appears as a new technique to solve the root of the problem by merging memory and processor together.

Resistive RAM, which known as RRAM or RERAM, is the new generation of memories. Its cells are simpler than classic transistor-based memory cells, they are non-volatile, switch fast and can run from low voltages. Researchers now have managed to make RERAM cells store more than just a ‘0’ or a ‘1’, enabling in-place computations.

The first small memory devices based on this technology is the MB85AS4MT, that was developed by Fujitsu Semiconductor with Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions. MB85AS4MT is a 4 Mbit ReRAM chip that operates with a supply voltage in the range from 1.65 to 3.6 V and has an SPI interface. One of the stand-out features of this technology is its low operating current, just 0.2 mA, at a maximum read speed of 5 MHz.

Using so-called RERAM crossbar arrays, researchers have demonstrated the in-memory execution of binary matrix computations frequently encountered in high-performance computing, algebraic cryptanalysis, combinatorics and finite geometry data, and in general large scale data analysis. Although we are only at the beginning of this technology, the results are already promising.

More mathematical details can be found in this paper.

Source: elektor.

The post ReRAM, Process Data Where They Are Stored appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Return of the Michif Boy: Confronting Métis trauma

By reconnecting with his birth mother PhD student Jesse Thistle came to understand the effects of intergenerational trauma. His award-winning research shines a light on the struggles and the resilience of Métis communities in northern Saskatchewan.

Penny Arcade: News Post: The Deliberator

Tycho: I haven’t had sex with any “entities” in Andromeda yet, but, you know, I’ve got my eye on a sextupedal “physical dream” called the Bright Cogitant and some kind of crab with time-travelling genitalia.  I’m keeping my options open. I have the Real Boy version of the game now; my trial was rapidly moving into the Gourd Phase.  This trial “ended” at a point where I had started to become curious, and now I have enough curiosity to grease the experience somewhat.  The further I get, the more I think the writing is an intentional…

IEEE Job Site RSS jobs: Electrical Engineering Professor

Montréal, Quebec, Canada Polytechnique Montreal Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:23:23 -0700

Michael Geist: Budget 2017: Why Canada’s Digital Policy Future Is Up For Grabs

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau released his government’s 2017 budget today and while the spending promises may be underwhelming for some, the documents sets out an ambitious agenda for digital policy review. In fact, with changes to copyright, patent, broadcast, telecom, net neutrality, digital taxes, fintech, Canadian media, and Cancon all under consideration, the coming year will have enormous implications for the future of Canada’s digital policies.

The budget does include several spending promises, including $13.2 million over five years to support an affordable Internet access program, $50 million for kids coding programs, $29.5 million over five years for digital literacy, and $14.9 million for digitization of Indigenous language and materials. There is also new money for the growth of artificial intelligence sector and the much-anticipated revamping of innovation funding programs.

Yet the biggest digital implications may ultimately come from the policy reforms. First up may be new digital sales taxes. The budget includes a commitment to extend sales taxes to ride sharing companies such as Uber, a move that seems likely to ultimately lead to a broader extension of sales taxes to digital services such as Netflix.

A review of the Copyright Act was already planned for November 2017 as required by the law. However, the government is throwing open an even bigger review of intellectual property laws as it seeks to develop a new IP strategy:

In recognition of the importance of a well-functioning intellectual property regime, Budget 2017 announces the Government will develop a new intellectual property strategy over the coming year. The strategy will help ensure that Canada’s intellectual property regime is modern and robust and supports Canadian innovations in the 21st century.

Canada already meets international standards on IP and has some one of the world’s toughest anti-piracy measures. As I noted earlier today, what has been missing are rules to better support innovation and the need for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains to assume the policy lead on the issue. The review and strategy exercise offers the chance to adopt fair use rules that have been critical for innovative economies such as the United States, Israel, South Korea, and Singapore. When coupled with the restrictive digital lock rules that suffer from narrowly interpreted exceptions, the Canadian copyright law environment is supportive of cracking down on infringement but lacks the flexibility needed for new creativity and innovation.

The review of Cancon in a digital world conducted by Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly also makes its way into the budget with a promise for policy reforms that could dramatically alter the Internet in Canada. The budget places all the big issues up for grabs:

To ensure that Canadians continue to benefit from an open and innovative Internet, the Government proposes to review and modernize the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act. In this review, the Government will look to examine issues such as telecommunications and content creation in the digital age, net neutrality and cultural diversity, and how to strengthen the future of Canadian media and Canadian content creation. Further details on the review will be announced in the coming months.

This guarantees that the major policy fights of the past year will continue into the next, with some viewing this as an opportunity for an ISP or Netflix tax, reform to net neutrality rules that prioritize Canadian content, new Internet regulations as the Internet is folded into broadcast regulation (as opposed to bringing broadcast into the Internet to better reflect what is actually happening), a reshaping of how telecom and broadcast are regulated in the Internet age, and new schemes to support mainstream media. I’ve written a lot about these issues in recent weeks:

Budget 2017 leaves no doubt that digital policy will be a major issue in the coming year (a consultation on fintech retail payments followed by regulation is also promised).  When twinned with the digital policy implications of the NAFTA renegotiation, Canada’s digital policy future will hang in the balance.

The post Budget 2017: Why Canada’s Digital Policy Future Is Up For Grabs appeared first on Michael Geist.

Quiet Earth: THE LURE is a Charming Mess [Review]

Cannibalistic mermaid movie. If that doesn't make your heart flutter, we can't be friends.

The very concept of director Agnieszka Smoczynska's feature film debut The Lure is this perfect mesh of material specifically designed for someone who, like me, loves a good fairy tale, a dash of horror and cheesy 80s dance music.

Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are mermaid sisters who are adopted into a cabaret in Warsaw by the house band led by a singer (Kinga Preis) and her husband and drummer (Andrzej Konopka). The girls are an instant hit, performing a nightly show for a packed house.

Silver quickly falls in love with the band's base player but Golden is more interested in eating the locals. Eventually Silver makes the ultimate sacrifice and trades [Continued ...]

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: More of the same

Well, that was a yawner. The second T2 budget failed to live up to the scary hype, with relatively minor tax changes (see the summary below), but lots of debt and a big pink bow on the top – because we’re all feminists now.

And have you noticed how much time Justin has been spending with Ivanka lately? A joint venture announced in Washington for female entrepreneurs, then a rendevous on Broadway for a new play about Newfies. In fact, the budget we just received was more influenced by her dad, Donald Trump, than the little beavs sitting in Parliament.

There wasn’t a big hit on Canadian capital gains taxation because Justin and Bill have no idea if the Trump tax-slashing plan will happen. If it does, and Canada moves in the opposite direction, there could be trouble, with a river of corporate capital flowing south. Meanwhile there’s speculation in Ottawa (and Washington) that the economy could move south along with some financial markets as the American president loses prestige, influence and credibility less than three months into his tenure.

The FBI says it has an active investigation of the Trump election campaign’s ties to Russia, and that country’s influence on the outcome of the Presidential election. There is zero evidence to support Trump’s bombshell claim that Barack Obama wire-tapped the Trump Tower during the electoral process. That would make Obama a criminal. The Muslim travel ban has been eviscerated. And the feeling grows that not enough Republicans will support Trump on a key vote tomorrow to repeal and replace Obamacare. In fact the Donald has threatened anyone not voting his way with “losing you seat” in the next election. Bully tactics. Weird.

All of this is worrying investors. First, it was a mistake to try and tackle the complex issue of health care so early and so brashly. Second, the “America First” budget unveiled just days ago – gutting environmental, cultural and social spending to divert money into guns and a bejesus-tall Mexican wall – is dead upon arrival. Third, all of the above is causing serious doubts that the real stuff investors want – slashed corporate taxes, relaxed regulations and mega-spending on infrastructure – may be delayed, or not happen at all. So, no growth spurt, no profit romp, no inflation pop.

But already the markets and policy have moved. The Dow and the S&P bloated a full 10% since the November election. The dollar raced ahead, bond yields advanced and the Fed pushed ahead with an interest rate hike less than ten days ago, promising two or three more in 2017. Now doubts this agenda will actually take place – and Trump has shot himself in both feet – has created a risk-off moment. The Dow fell by 1% on Tuesday – the first time this has happened since October. The US dollar’s at a four-month low. Gold is on the rise, and so are bond prices, as investors look for safe places to hunker.

Stocks are expensive now – not hideously, but enough. The S&P is trading at 18 times forward earnings, compared to the long-term average of 15. That makes them about 20% higher than normal, and certainly opens the door for a correction should the Trumpster continues to lose altitude and political support.

So what does this mean for us?

Uncertainty. Buckets of it. This is why the second Trudeau budget was the non-event it turned out to be. While the Libs want to spend endless amounts of money and Hoover the wealthy to pay for it, the environment is just too fragile now for Canada to trundle down the path of socialism while the Americans are a nation divided, run by a rabid-right president who received a minority of votes and is beyond strange with a web of personal conflicts of interest.

For investors, it’s time to play safe. Stay with a balanced approach – because bonds, we well as preferreds and REITs will counterweight any give-back on stock markets. Stay diversified, since you definitely do not want too many eggs in the Trump basket. And remain globally-invested, with exposure to Europe, China and inevitably-emerging markets.

The American president is a flawed man. He may end up a flawed leader. This day you can be thankful for that. Trudeau blinked.

Here's what Bill just did (or didn't)
Big scare: No hike in capital gains tax, no changes to corporate tax, no doc’s tax, no diddling with dividends or stock options. Nada. Ziltch. But it is all ‘under review’. Phew.
The deficit: $28.5 billion, up from $25.4 billion projected in the fall. Deficits as far as you can see, with debt-to-GDP ratio hovering around 31%.
Housing: $11.2 billion over 11 years for a National Housing Strategy. No move to dump cold water on Toronto. Burn, baby, burn.
For families: $7 billion over 10 years for new spaces, starting 2018-19. Parental leave zooms from 12 months to 18 months
Defence: $8.5 billion in capital spending for equipment pushed off to 2035.
Care givers: New care-giving benefit up to 15 weeks, starting next year.
Skills: New agency to research and measure skills development, starting 2018-19.
Innovation: $950 million over 5 years to support business-led “superclusters.”
Startups: $400 million over 3 years for a new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative.
$50 million over two years for teaching initiatives to help children learn to code.
Uber tax: GST to be collected on ride-sharing services.
Sin taxes: 1 cent more on a bottle of wine, 5 cents on 24-case of beer.
Bye-bye: No more Canada Savings Bonds.
Transit credit killed: 15% public transit tax credit phased out this year. (partial CBC summary)

Quiet Earth: First Look at Adam Wingard's DEATH NOTE Adaptation [Trailer]

In many circles, "Death Note" is kind of a big deal. The manga which appeared to become a nearly instant sensation has spawned a number of Japanese movies, series and more cosplay than you can shake a stick at.

The basic concept is pretty simple: a teenage boy named Light Turner finds a supernatural notebook which has the power to kill people. He writes a name in it and shortly thereafter the demon in the book does the deed. Flush with power, the teen goes on a killing spree and you just know that something is going to go wrong - either for Light or humanity as a whole.

Netflix is putting some muscle behind the English language adaptation hiring Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest - have we forgiven him for Blair Witch yet?) to direct with a cast that includ [Continued ...]

CreativeApplications.Net: Unhanded – A symposium about ‘making’ under the influence of digitalism

Unhanded was a symposium about ‘making under the influence of digitalism’ that took place in Ottawa last September. CAN was on hand to facilitate one of the discussions, and to mark the publication of the videos online we offer some highlights and thoughts on the proceedings.

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: The trouble with collecting...

Penny Arcade: Comic: The Deliberator

New Comic: The Deliberator

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Important Moments in Philosophy

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

The nice thing about Nietzsche is you don't have to write his dialog for him.

New comic!
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We're just about sold out of London BAHFest tickets. Today is the last day I can guarantee any type of ticket, so please buy soon if you're planning to go!

CreativeApplications.Net: Markov Decisions – Sound as a physical property of matter

Created by Matteo Crivella, Markov Decisions is a generative audio system that combines random processes and sonic behaviours of matter. Data is created in Pure Data that drives the instrument through voice coil actuators putting the sheet of brass under stress and generating a tensional field in which the metal changes from one vibrating state to another, in relations to the input and its physical properties (mass, elasticity, morphology).

Michael Geist: How Navdeep Bains Can Get His #Innovation Groove Back

The release of today’s federal budget is expected to include a significant emphasis on innovation, with the government revealing how it plans to spend (or re-allocate) hundreds of millions of dollars that is intended to support innovation. Canada’s dismal innovation record needs attention, but spending our way to a more innovative economy is unlikely to yield the desired results. While Navdeep Bains, the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister, has talked for months about the importance of innovation, Toronto Star columnist Paul Wells today delivers a cutting but accurate assessment of those efforts:

This government is the first with a minister for innovation! He’s Navdeep Bains. He frequently posts photos of his meetings on Twitter, with the hashtag “#innovation.” That’s how you know there is innovation going on. A year and a half after he became the minister for #innovation, it’s not clear what Bains’s plans are. It’s pretty clear that within the government he has less than complete control over #innovation. There’s an advisory council on economic growth, chaired by the McKinsey guru Dominic Barton, which periodically reports to the government urging more #innovation.

There’s a science advisory panel, chaired by former University of Toronto president David Naylor, that delivered a report to Science Minister Kirsty Duncan more than three months ago. That report has vanished. One presumes that’s because it offered some advice. Whatever Bains proposes, it will have company.

Wells is right. Bains has been very visible with plenty of meetings and public photo shoots but no obvious innovation policy direction. This represents a missed opportunity since Bains has plenty of policy tools at his disposal that could advance Canada’s innovation framework without focusing on government spending.

For example, Canada’s communications system – wireless and broadband Internet access – falls directly within his portfolio and is crucial for both business and consumers. Yet Bains has been largely missing in action on the file. He gave approval for the Bell – MTS merger that virtually everyone concedes will increase prices in the province and make the communications market less competitive. There are potential policy measures that could bring new competitors into the market (MVNOs and municipal broadband) and that could make it easier for consumers to switch providers (ban on unlocking devices). Some of this falls to the CRTC, but government direction and emphasis would make a difference.

Even more troubling has been his near total invisibility on issues relating to new fees or taxes on Internet access and digital services. Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly has taken control of the issue with the possibility that Canadians could face increased costs for their Internet access or digital services through mandatory fees to contribute to Canadian content.  Leaving aside the policy objections to such an approach (reducing affordable access and the fact that foreign sources now contribute more toward Canadian English language TV production than Canadian broadcasters and distributors), Internet access and e-commerce are supposed to be Bains’ issue and they have a direct connection to the innovation file. How is it possible for the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister to have remained silent for months on the issue?

Bains has been largely missing on trade related innovation issues as well. My Globe and Mail column today focuses on a digital-era NAFTA, pointing to likely U.S. demands on data localization, data transfers, e-commerce rules, and net neutrality.  These are all issues that fall under Bains’ portfolio and will impact investment in Canadian networks and digital services. There are innovation opportunities for Canada here, but Bains has been content to leave the policy issues to others, who will be willing to sacrifice potential gains in those areas.

Intellectual property policy is yet another area that falls directly under Bains’ mandate with an obvious link to innovation, but he has done little on the file. Canada won a huge NAFTA victory late last week involving the Canadian patent system, which was challenged by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Why has Bains not promoted the decision as an affirmation of how Canada’s intellectual property rules?

On the copyright front, the government is scheduled to conduct a review of the Copyright Act later this year, but it is not clear whether Bains will take the lead or again cede responsibility to Joly. The Copyright Act is statutorily under the Industry Minister and reform offers the chance to kickstart innovation. For example, Canada could adopt fair use rules that have been critical for innovative economies such as the United States, Israel, South Korea, and Singapore. When coupled with the restrictive digital lock rules that suffer from narrowly interpreted exceptions, the Canadian copyright law environment is supportive of cracking down on infringement but lacks the flexibility needed for new creativity and innovation. This represents an enormous opportunity for Bains to create a policy framework that supports innovation without new taxes or public expenditures.

There are no shortage of other opportunities that fall within the ISED mandate: leveraging government-funded research with open access policies, improving open data, and addressing cyber-security opportunities among them. In fact, many of these issues were included in Bains’ mandate letter.  Nearly 18 months after the release of that letter, Canadians are still waiting for the promised “real change”.

The post How Navdeep Bains Can Get His #Innovation Groove Back appeared first on Michael Geist. Comic for 2017.03.22

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

s mazuk: I ate more candy

I ate more candy

Disquiet: The Patzr Radio Podcast

Podcasts aren’t radio, but in many cases they might as well be. When someone says, “I don’t watch TV,” yet is up to date on lots of shows by virtue of a Hulu or Netflix account, there’s a disconnect at work that’s difficult to address politely, one that seems to have more with identity flag-waving than with anything technologically persuasive.

Podcasts may align with radio, but they’re something else entirely — or, more to the point, they’re capable of being something else entirely. Many, nonetheless, still feel like radio, from the structure to the content to the intonation. Not, as they say, that there’s anything wrong with that. The podcast mode has been on my mind a lot as I’ve been planning my own, titled Disquietude. Now that it’s out, I hear other podcasts through a different … well, not lens, but through instinctively analytical earbuds. When amid a hastily recorded bit of timely tech news, for example, the word “Googleable” sounds oddly close to “giggle-able,” I can relate to the anxiety in regard to whether you really want to do one more take. There’s at least one grammatical error in my first Disquitude podcast episode that kills me, a simple plural/singular misalignment, but I just couldn’t face the mic one more time.

I did radio twice for long stretches, first on WYBC on the East Coast during college, and then on KDVS on the West Coast after moving to California. Reviewing plays during college is how I learned the concept — if not the fully adopted practice — of whittling one’s discussion points to a select few, and hanging them on some semblance of narrative. Both stations encouraged relatively freeform approaches for its DJs, and that’s what I took pleasure in. Disquietude, as I plot episode two, is still very much a work in progress. I have aspirations to “play with the form,” as my friend Erik Davis (of the Expanding Mind podcast) encouraged me recently. It’ll come in stages.

If there’s a podcast that gets at the orthogonal-to-professional notion of the medium, the other-than-radio aspect, it is the excellent Patzr Radio series, which is helmed by Jimmy Kipple, who (employing a brief vocal element by Paula Daunt) did the theme for my Disquietude podcast. His Patzr consists of collections of #cheap-concrete, to employ Kipple/Kpple’s favorite tag. It’s snatches of everyday sound, rendered into “listening material” courtesy of nothing other than the mere fact of the podcast’s existence.

There are 72 Patzr episodes to date, all the same one minute and forty seconds in length, the latest a mix of unintelligible passing voices, and rough noises against subterranean leakages, doppler-effect motoring, and exquisitely banal footsteps that are not in the least bit threatening — except to the extent that the assemblage threatens the tidy conception of a podcast. When a format is merely a feed and a file, a few lines of RSS code and a fixed audio document, there’s a lot you can do with it, and sometimes doing very little, doing something explicitly contained, is the best reminder of the potential therein.

Check out the full series at, iTunes, and

The Shape of Code: Happy 30th birthday to GCC

Thirty years ago today Richard Stallman announced the availability of a beta version of gcc on the mod.compilers newsgroup.

Everybody and his dog was writing C compilers in the late 1980s and early 1990s (a C compiler validation suite vendor once told me they had sold over 150 copies; a compiler vendor has to be serious to fork out around $10,000 for a validation suite). Did gcc become the dominant open source because one compiler would inevitably become dominant, or was there some collection of factors that gave gcc a significant advantage?

I think gcc’s market dominance was driven by two environmental factors, with some help from a technical compiler implementation decision.

The technical implementation decision was the use of RTL as the optimization+code generation strategy. Jack Davidson’s 1981 PhD thesis (and much later the LCC book) describe the gory details. The code generators for nearly every other C compiler was closely tied to the machine being targeted (because the implementers were focused on getting a job done, not producing a portable compiler system). Had they been so inclined Davidson and Christopher Fraser could have been the authors of the dominant C compiler.

The first environment factor was the creation of a support ecosystem around gcc. The glue that nourished this ecosystem was the money made writing code generators for the never ending supply of new cpus that companies were creating (that needed a C compiler). In the beginning Cygnus Solutions were the face of gcc+tools; Michael Tiemann, a bright affable young guy, once told me that he could not figure out why companies were throwing money at them and that perhaps it was because he was so tall. Richard Stallman was not the easiest person to get along with and was probably somebody you would try to avoid meeting (I don’t know if he has mellowed). If Cygnus had gone with a different compiler, they had created 175 host/target combinations by 1999, gcc would be as well-known today as Hurd.

Yes, people writing Masters and PhD thesis were using gcc as the scaffolding for their fancy new optimization techniques (e.g., here, here and here), but this work essentially played the role of an R&D group trying to figure out where effort ought to be invested writing production code.

Sun’s decision to unbundle the development environment (i.e., stop shipping a C compiler with every system) caused some developers to switch to another compiler, some choosing gcc.

The second environment factor was the huge leap in available memory on developer machines in the 1990s. Compiler vendors cannot ship compilers that do fancy optimization if developers don’t have computers with enough memory to hold the optimization information (many, many megabytes). Until developer machines contained lots of memory, a one-man band could build a compiler producing code that was essentially as good as everybody else. An open source market leader could not emerge until the man+dog compilers could be clearly seen to be inferior.

During the 1990s the amount of memory likely to be available in developers’ computers grew dramatically, allowing gcc to support more and more optimizations (donated by a myriad of people targeting some aspect of code generation that they found interesting). Code generation improved dramatically and man+dog compilers became obviously second/third rate.

Would things be different today if Linus Torvalds’ had not selected gcc? If Linus had chosen a compiler licensed under a more liberal license than copyleft, things might have turned out very differently. LLVM started life in 2003 and one of my predictions for 2009 was its demise in the next few years; I failed to see the importance of licensing to Apple (who essentially funded its development).

Eventually, success.

With success came new existential threats, in particular death by a thousand forks.

A serious fork occurred in 1997. Stallman was clogging up the works; fortunately he saw the writing on the wall and in 1999 stepped aside.

Money is what holds together the major development teams supporting gcc and llvm. What happens when customers wanting support for new back-ends dries up, what happens when major companies stop funding development? Do we start seeing adverts during compilation? Chris Lattner, the driving force behind llvm recently moved to Tesla; will it turn out that his continuing management was as integral to the continuing success of llvm as getting rid of Stallman was to the continuing success of gcc?

Will a single mainline version of gcc still be the dominant compiler in another 30 years time?

Time will tell.

Embedded in Academia: Elk and Arch

I wanted to share a few pictures from a long, very cold snowshoe/hike I did in January. The goal was to reach a natural arch that I had previously spotted in upper City Creek Canyon. This was fun to find: I hadn’t realized there was an arch large enough to stand inside within walking distance of my house. I also saw the big herd of elk that live in this area, which doesn’t get a lot of visitation from humans other than hunters.

Planet Haskell: Edward Z. Yang: Proposal: Suggest explicit type application for Foldable length and friends

tl;dr If you use a Foldable function like length or null, where instance selection is solely determined by the input argument, you should make your code more robust by introducing an explicit type application specifying which instance you want. This isn't necessary for a function like fold, where the return type can cross-check if you've gotten it right or not. If you don't provide this type application, GHC should give a warning suggesting you annotate it explicitly, in much the same way it suggests adding explicit type signatures to top-level functions.

Recently, there has been some dust kicked up about Foldable instances causing "bad" code to compile. The prototypical example is this: you've written length (f x), where f is a function that returns a list [Int]. At some future point in time, a colleague refactors f to return (Warnings, [Int]). After the refactoring, will length (f x) continue to type check? Yes: length (f x) will always return 1, no matter how long the inner list is, because it is using the Foldable instance for (,) Warnings.

The solution proposed in the mailing list was to remove Foldable for Either, a cure which is, quite arguably, worse than the disease. But I think there is definitely merit to the complaint that the Foldable instances for tuples and Either enable you to write code that typechecks, but is totally wrong.

Richard Eisenberg described this problem as the tension between the goals of "if it compiles, it works!" (Haskell must exclude programs which don't work) and general, polymorphic code, which should be applicable in as many situations as possible. I think there is some more nuance here, however. Why is it that Functor polymorphic code never causes problems for being "too general", but Foldable does? We can construct an analogous situation: I've written fmap (+2) (f x), where f once again returns [Int]. When my colleague refactors f to return (Warnings, [Int]), fmap now makes use of the Functor instance (,) Warnings, but the code fails to compile anyway, because the type of (+1) doesn't line up with [Int]. Yes, we can still construct situations with fmap where code continues to work after a type change, but these cases are far more rare.

There is a clear difference between these two programs: the fmap program is redundant, in the sense that the type is constrained by both the input container, the function mapping over it, and the context which uses the result. Just as with error-correcting codes, redundancy allows us to detect when an error has occurred; when you reduce redundancy, errors become harder to detect. With length, the only constraint on the selected instance is the input argument; if you get it wrong, we have no way to tell.

Thus, the right thing to do is reintroduce redundancy where it is needed. Functions like fold and toList don't need extra redundancy, because they are cross-checked by the use of their return arguments. But functions like length and null (and arguably maximum, which only weakly constrains its argument to have an Ord instance) don't have any redundancy: we should introduce redundancy in these places!

Fortunately, with GHC 8.0 provides a very easy way of introducing this redundancy: an explicit type application. (This was also independently suggested by Faucelme.) In this regime, rather than write length (f x), you write length @[] (f x), saying that you wanted length for lists. If you wanted length for maps, you write length @(Map _) (f x). Now, if someone changes the type of f, you will get a type error since the explicit type application no longer matches.

Now, you can write this with your FTP code today. So there is just one more small change I propose we add to GHC: let users specify the type parameter of a function as "suggested to be explicit". At the call-site, if this function is used without giving a type application, GHC will emit a warning (which can be disabled with the usual mechanism) saying, "Hey, I'm using the function at this type, maybe you should add a type application." If you really want to suppress the warning, you could just type apply a type hole, e.g., length @_ (f x). As a minor refinement, you could also specify a "default" type argument, so that if we infer this argument, no warning gets emitted (this would let you use the list functions on lists without needing to explicitly specify type arguments).

That's it! No BC-breaking flag days, no poisoning functions, no getting rid of FTP, no dropping instances: just a new pragma, and an opt-in warning that will let people who want to avoid these bugs. It won't solve all Foldable bugs, but it should squash the most flagrant ones.

What do people think?

Jesse Moynihan: The Devil Final

I’ve been working on this card for weeks. I started getting suspicious it was affecting my life in negative ways by the fact that I was meditating on it consistently for so long. Who knows. Anyway, I’m glad to be on to the next card. HI RES DOWNLOAD HERE

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

Bill Morneau lives in a $5 million house within walking distance of the big Loblaws in Toronto’s upscale south Leaside, and earns about $230,000 a year as the finance minister. So, he’s a 1%er. He also has a few other million in equity in the family pension business. So, he’s a .oo1%er. But right now he’s a politician in a time when the forces of populism are sweeping neo-liberals over the dam of public opinion. So he’d rather you forgot about his personal fortune.

His biggest challenge comes Wednesday afternoon with the second T2 federal budget, in which Bill will try to look like a gun-totin’ Deplorable, and tax the rich – at least those wealthy people silly enough to be doctors, entrepreneurs or others making their money in the sunshine. This is popular. Just read the comments on this strangely addictive but demure blog. It’s there. The sentiment that anyone making a big wage is ripping off the system, deserving to be taxed into the dust, is a moister meme. And never forget that Mr. Trudeau is our leader because hordes of young people voted for the first time – and voted for the sexy guy with tats, a hot wife and MaryJane as his muse.

Also popular with the kids. Debt. Its dark embrace is part of the Canadian fabric now – with personal borrowing at an unheard-of level, twentysomethings clamouring to get mortgaged and credit out of control. The T2 guys understand they no longer need to adhere to the campaign promise of a “modest” $10-billion annual deficit for a three year period. They can go full Monty, and the kids will still slobber over them.

Thus a big (but largely ignored) part of the budget tomorrow will be debt. The Libs will be spending not $10 billion more than they take in, but $30 billion (plus). It won’t last three years, either, but at least 10 and likely 15 (says the Parliamentary Budget Officer). The new debt to be added in four years will be historic. And this is happening during the lowest interest rates since ever. As rates rise, the pile gets raunchier.

This brings us to eating the rich. After B-day, Bill may be getting some passing strange glances from Leasiders as he loads up at the olive bar, there beside the greens section, just over from the Ace bakery display. As you’ve been forewarned here, the Libs may up the capital gains inclusion rate (beware if you own mutual funds or an investment condo), or water down the dividend tax credit (ugly), or lower the boom on small corps with retained earnings or Mom on the payroll (inevitable). All that is speculation. A debt bomb is fact.

Over eight years of rule, which included the greatest financial crisis in 80 years, the Harperites ran up $150 billion in new debt, much of it through the ‘Economic Action Program’ that built a bunch of stuff. The Cons also dropped the GST from 7% to 5%, lowered corporate income tax and brought in a mess of family tax credits. So far the T2 government is on track to add at least $100 billion in just four years, has carved about ten bucks a week out of the middle class bill, upped taxes on the wealthy, rolled back OAS pogey to age 65 (the cost is $12 billion a year) and started paying people a lot more to have children. Apples and oranges, Ying and yang. Mars and Venus.

Said Bill in Germany a day or two ago when asked about the budget: “We talk about middle class ad nauseam and I’m sure it drives journalists crazy. But seriously. We look at what’s gone on around the world, is there anybody who questions that we should be focused on how people feel? What are the outcomes if we don’t? So I think we’re going to stay on that message.”

The translation: yah, the deplorables are winning. They want government to be the solution, punish the elites and kick the can of responsibility way down the road. People are pissed. If we don’t give them what they want, we’re history.

This is the rub of politics. Do leaders lead, taking tough decisions then braving the consequences? Or follow, telling throngs what they wish to hear, then obsessing over ratings? Logic tells us a little country like Canada can’t add $30 billion a year to its national debt without the mother of all tax increases in later years. And yet Trudeau’s supporters seem not to care because, dammit, they want condos. And a guaranteed annual income. And (count on it) debt forgiveness once the cost of money rises.

This is why our guys in Ottawa have expanded the CPP, enhanced child payments, increased unemployment payments, and reversed Harper’s brutal OAS decision. It’s all about giving more to people, even when it means looting the future and Hoovering the successful. So, Canada and the US are on divergent paths, even though Trudeau and Trump serve the same master. The elector.

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter,” Churchill said. Now it’s 140 characters. Or an Instagram. We’re screwed.

explodingdog: Photo

LaForge's home page: Osmocom - personal thoughts

As I just wrote in my post about TelcoSecDay, I sometimes worry about the choices I made with Osmocom, particularly when I see all the great stuff people doing in fields that I previously was working in, such as applied IT security as well as Linux Kernel development.


When people like Dieter, Holger and I started to play with what later became OpenBSC, it was just for fun. A challenge to master. A closed world to break open and which to attack with the tools, the mindset and the values that we brought with us.

Later, Holger and I started to do freelance development for commercial users of Osmocom (initially basically only OpenBSC, but then OsmoSGSN, OsmoBSC, OsmoBTS, OsmoPCU and all the other bits on the infrastructure side). This lead to the creation of sysmocom in 2011, and ever since we are trying to use revenue from hardware sales as well as development contracts to subsidize and grow the Osmocom projects. We're investing most of our earnings directly into more staff that in turn works on Osmocom related projects.


It's important to draw the distinction betewen the Osmocom cellular infrastructure projects which are mostly driven by commercial users and sysmocom these days, and all the many other pure juts-for-fun community projects under the Osmocom umbrella, like OsmocomTETRA, OsmocomGMR, rtl-sdr, etc. I'm focussing only on the cellular infrastructure projects, as they are in the center of my life during the past 6+ years.

In order to do this, I basically gave up my previous career[s] in IT security and Linux kernel development (as well as put things like on hold). This is a big price to pay for crating more FOSS in the mobile communications world, and sometimes I'm a bit melancholic about the "old days" before.

Financial wealth is clearly not my primary motivation, but let me be honest: I could have easily earned a shitload of money continuing to do freelance Linux kernel development, IT security or related consulting. There's a lot of demand for related skills, particularly with some experience and reputation attached. But I decided against it, and worked several years without a salary (or almost none) on Osmocom related stuff [as did Holger].

But then, even with all the sacrifices made, and the amount of revenue we can direct from sysmocom into Osmocom development: The complexity of cellular infrastructure vs. the amount of funding and resources is always only a fraction of what one would normally want to have to do a proper implementation. So it's constant resource shortage, combined with lots of unpaid work on those areas that are on the immediate short-term feature list of customers, and that nobody else in the community feels like he wants to work on. And that can be a bit frustrating at times.

Is it worth it?

So after 7 years of OpenBSC, OsmocomBB and all the related projects, I'm sometimes asking myself whether it has been worth the effort, and whether it was the right choice.

It was right from the point that cellular technology is still an area that's obscure and unknown to many, and that has very little FOSS (though Improving!). At the same time, cellular networks are becoming more and more essential to many users and applications. So on an abstract level, I think that every step in the direction of FOSS for cellular is as urgently needed as before, and we have had quite some success in implementing many different protocols and network elements. Unfortunately, in most cases incompletely, as the amount of funding and/or resources were always extremely limited.


On the other hand, when it comes to metrics such as personal satisfaction or professional pride, I'm not very happy or satisfied. The community remains small, the commercial interest remains limited, and as opposed to the Linux world, most players have a complete lack of understanding that FOSS is not a one-way road, but that it is important for all stakeholders to contribute to the development in terms of development resources.

Project success?

I think a collaborative development project (which to me is what FOSS is about) is only then truly successful, if its success is not related to a single individual, a single small group of individuals or a single entity (company). And no matter how much I would like the above to be the case, it is not true for the Osmocom cellular infrastructure projects. Take away Holger and me, or take away sysmocom, and I think it would be pretty much dead. And I don't think I'm exaggerating here. This makes me sad, and after all these years, and after knowing quite a number of commercial players using our software, I would have hoped that the project rests on many more shoulders by now.

This is not to belittle the efforts of all the people contributing to it, whether the team of developers at sysmocom, whether those in the community that still work on it 'just for fun', or whether those commercial users that contract sysmocom for some of the work we do. Also, there are known and unknown donors/funders, like the NLnet foundation for some parts of the work. Thanks to all of you, and clearly we wouldn't be where we are now without all of that!

But I feel it's not sufficient for the overall scope, and it's not [yet] sustainable at this point. We need more support from all sides, particularly those not currently contributing. From vendors of BTSs and related equipment that use Osmocom components. From operators that use it. From individuals. From academia.

Yes, we're making progress. I'm happy about new developments like the Iu and Iuh support, the OsmoHLR/VLR split and 2G/3G authentication that Neels just blogged about. And there's progress on the SIMtrace2 firmware with card emulation and MITM, just as well as there's progress on libosmo-sigtran (with a more complete SUA, M3UA and connection-oriented SCCP stack), etc.

But there are too little people working on this, and those people are mostly coming from one particular corner, while most of the [commercial] users do not contribute the way you would expect them to contribute in collaborative FOSS projects. You can argue that most people in the Linux world also don't contribute, but then the large commercial beneficiaries (like the chipset and hardware makers) mostly do, as are the large commercial users.

All in all, I have the feeling that Osmocom is as important as it ever was, but it's not grown up yet to really walk on its own feet. It may be able to crawl, though ;)

So for now, don't panic. I'm not suffering from burn-out, mid-life crisis and I don't plan on any big changes of where I put my energy: It will continue to be Osmocom. But I also think we have to have a more open discussion with everyone on how to move beyond the current situation. There's no point in staying quiet about it, or to claim that everything is fine the way it is. We need more commitment. Not from the people already actively involved, but from those who are not [yet].

If that doesn't happen in the next let's say 1-2 years, I think it's fair that I might seriously re-consider in which field and in which way I'd like to dedicate my [I would think considerable] productive energy and focus.

explodingdog: Photo

LaForge's home page: Returning from TelcoSecDay 2017 / General Musings

I'm just on my way back from the Telecom Security Day 2017 <>, which is an invitation-only event about telecom security issues hosted by ERNW back-to-back with their Troopers 2017 <> conference.

I've been presenting at TelcoSecDay in previous years and hence was again invited to join (as attendee). The event has really gained quite some traction. Where early on you could find lots of IT security / hacker crowds, the number of participants from the operator (and to smaller extent also equipment maker) industry has been growing.

The quality of talks was great, and I enjoyed meeting various familiar faces. It's just a pity that it's only a single day - plus I had to head back to Berlin still today so I had to skip the dinner + social event.

When attending events like this, and seeing the interesting hacks that people are working on, it pains me a bit that I haven't really been doing much security work in recent years. netfilter/iptables was at least somewhat security related. My work on OpenPCD / librfid was clearly RFID security oriented, as was the work on airprobe, OsmocomTETRA, or even the EasyCard payment system hack

I have the same feeling when attending Linux kernel development related events. I have very fond memories of working in both fields, and it was a lot of fun. Also, to be honest, I believe that the work in Linux kernel land and the general IT security research was/is appreciated much more than the endless months and years I'm now spending my time with improving and extending the Osmocom cellular infrastructure stack.

Beyond the appreciation, it's also the fact that both the IT security and the Linux kernel communities are much larger. There are more people to learn from and learn with, to engage in discussions and ping-pong ideas. In Osmocom, the community is too small (and I have the feeling, it's actually shrinking), and in many areas it rather seems like I am the "ultimate resource" to ask, whether about 3GPP specs or about Osmocom code structure. What I'm missing is the feeling of being part of a bigger community. So in essence, my current role in the "Open Source Cellular" corner can be a very lonely one.

But hey, I don't want to sound more depressed than I am, this was supposed to be a post about TelcoSecDay. It just happens that attending IT Security and/or Linux Kernel events makes me somewhat gloomy for the above-mentioned reasons.

Meanwhile, if you have some interesting projcets/ideas at the border between cellular protocols/systems and security, I'd of course love to hear if there's some way to get my hands dirty in that area again :)

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: To her boyfriend...

Quiet Earth: Watch: Animated Dystopian WATER HUNTERS [Short in Full]

[Editor's Note: Be sure to join us on Facebook for news and contests and even more discussion of awesome movies, books and TV!]

I don't know much about this, but I like what I see. Water Hunters is a short-movie by IBRIDO, written and directed by Salvatore Centoducati and Massimo Ottoni.

On the company's website it says it was a commissioned short. Commissioned by who?!

Anyway, it's got a great soundtrack and awesome cyberpunk visuals.


Recommended Release: Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind

[Continued ...]

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A Joke

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

See, I can still do miserable single panel comics!

New comic!
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We're almost sold out! Just a few days left to buy, if we don't sell out by tomorrow. See you soon, geeks of London!

Bahfest London / 2017-03-25T03:40:26