Recent additions: makefile

Added by nmattia, Sun May 28 02:19:06 UTC 2017.

Simple Makefile parser and generator

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: Test

This is a test http

Bifurcated Rivets: By Hand

Comments ought to be working again......

Slashdot: Ask Slashdot: Is There A Screen-Less, Keyboard-Less, Battery-Powered Computer?

Long-time Slashdot reader Wycliffe writes: So I have a travel keyboard that I love. I can carry my OS on a USB flash drive. There are several options for portable battery powered monitors. The only thing I'm missing to have a completely modular laptop is the CPU/MB/RAM... I can get a laptop but it seems silly to carry around a laptop with a keyboard when I never use the keyboard. I don't need a long battery life, if I need more than an hour then I can find somewhere to plug it in... I've thought about buying a small box like a Zotac and trying to replace the hard drive with a battery -- but does anything like this already exist...? Also, are there any systems like this with decent specs? Most stuff I see like the Intel Compute Stick are horribly underpowered compared to a decent laptop. The original submission drew some interesting discussion. Another option is "a good x86/x64 tablet that I can install Linux on" -- especially with a decent processor -- or "laptop-like systems that got rid of the screen entirely... I just need the travel CPU part without the added weight of a second keyboard and monitor." So leave your best suggestions in the comments. Is there a good, lightweight computer that's battery-powered without a screen or a keyboard?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackaday: OpenSTF Dock Ready to Farm Clicks

Deep in the heart of a Chinese click farm — and probably used by the company your company hired to build an ‘app’ — is a magical device. Call it a Beowulf Cluster of Phones. Call it the farm. By any name, it’s a whole bunch of smartphones, smart watches, tablets, and other Smart Things all controlled remotely. This is OpenSTF, or a Smartphone Test Farm. You can build your own, but as with anything requiring a whole lot of cables and devices, if you don’t plan it well, it’s going to look like crap.

[Paul] needed an OpenSTF device lab, and found the perfect product to repurpose into a great looking enclosure. This device was the Griffin MultiDock 2, a charging station for smartphones and tablets ostensibly designed for classrooms. There really isn’t a lot going on inside this $500 phone charger, with a few modifications this enclosure can become an awesome phone farm.

This charging station is not meant to be used this way. On the outside, there are ten USB ports for ten different devices. Inside, there are three four-port USB hubs providing ten ports. ADB simply doesn’t work with this setup, so [Paul] had to completely replace the USB brains of this device. With new USB hubs, an Intel Compute Stick, and Sugru, [Paul] got OpenSTF up and running. While this would have been a fantastic waste of money had [Paul] bought this phone charging dock at full retail price, he didn’t. He apparently picked this up at a reasonable price, giving him a great looking phone farm that works just like he wanted.

Filed under: Android Hacks

Recent additions: loc

Added by chris_martin, Sun May 28 00:56:09 UTC 2017.

Types representing line and column positions and ranges in text files.

MetaFilter: I need a helicopter

We're Poly Now , a music video by Chris Fleming.

Recent additions: loc

Added by chris_martin, Sun May 28 00:50:00 UTC 2017.

Types representing line and column positions and ranges in text files.

Recent additions: bluemix-sdk

Added by AlexanderThiemann, Sun May 28 00:38:47 UTC 2017.

Bindings to Bluemix APIs

Recent additions: async-extra

Added by AlexanderThiemann, Sun May 28 00:38:30 UTC 2017.

Useful concurrent combinators

Slashdot: Opera Says Their iOS Updates Are Still Coming - Just Slowly

Slashdot reader BrianFagioli has posted an update about his communication with Opera over their plans for iOS. They'd originally tweeted Thursday that "at this moment we don't have a team working on IOS which is why we haven't released any updates." But Friday they clarified that "It does not mean we give up development on iOS. It's just that now our resources are on Android." They reiterated that point in an email. We would like to clarify that Opera does not abandon iOS... We plan to keep developing it as Opera Min[i] provides unique features that other browsers do not have, such as data saving for both webpages and video, ad-blocking, built-in newsfeed etc. And people love using it. As most of the engineering resources are now on Android, our update on iOS is slow at this moment. Please bear with us and do stay tune for our next updates. The tweet Friday also emphasized that "We will update iOS for sure."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

MetaFilter: Velvet Elvises not included.

Sophie Ploeg is an artist and historian know for her richly detailed paintings of fabrics. She draws inspiration from historical works and has listed what she views as the best works capturing the intricacies of lace or the texture and sheen of velvet.

For those of you on Pinterest, she has additional examples on boards for Velvet, Lace, Masque costumes and other art.

All Content: Cannes 2017: "Based on a True Story"

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Today is the final day of the 70th Cannes Film Festival, before the jury announces the Palme d’Or that caps this anniversary year tomorrow night in a ceremony that will be broadcast throughout Europe. The last competition film was screened for the press yesterday, so this is a day that hangs in suspense. According to the famous secrecy of Cannes, whatever deliberations, deals, tradeoffs and compromises the jury members may make with each other will never be known once jury president Pedro Almodovar and his cohorts emerge from hiding and stand on the stage of the Grande Theatre Lumiere in evening dress.

Down at the level of the average journalist, film buyer, or venue programmer, this festival has been over for days. Suitcases have been rolling down streets in increasing numbers all week, and the film market, often insanely busy to the last, was a ghost town byTuesday night. For those of us left, the last big hope for a brilliant surprise hung on Roman Polanski’s out-of-competition film “Based on a True Story,” premiering today.

“Based on a True Story” is based on the novel by Delphine de Vigan, and starring Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner (“Venus in Furs”) and Eva Green (“Dark Shadows). It’s the story of a famous author whose life is gradually absorbed by a resentful and ambitious woman who maneuvers to become her best friend. Polanski co-authored the screenplay with French director Olivier Assayas (“Personal Shopper”), and in a strange example of life imitating art, Polanski appears to be subsumed by the directorial style, themes, and visual look of Assayas’ body of work. 

In an interview published in the press kit, Polanski reveals that he was first attracted to de Vigan’s novel because it developed themes that correspond with those of several of his own previous films including “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Repulsion.” One can imagine a fantasy scenario in which Polanski was put under a spell so that ambitious rival Assayas could take over, but that’s not a likely explanation for why “Based on a True Story” seems like a blended remake of Assayas’ two latest hits, “Personal Shopper” and “Clouds of Sils Maria.”

Popular author Delphine (Seigner), whose emotionally raw novel based on her mother’s life has earned her legions of devoted fans who mob her signing appearances, has reached the point of collapse after a particularly draining event. In the act of sneaking away from a party in her honor, she meets Elle (Green). Elle professes to be a fan too, but she is a respectful peer who fascinates Delphine with her perceptive intelligence. When the author expresses her exhaustion, Elle responds ominously, “As if you were naked on a road, frozen in the headlights.”

A friendship develops quickly, with Elle making all the moves, and Delphine, who is experiencing writer’s block, responding gratefully when her new friend becomes more of a personal assistant. Before long, Elle, whose career involves ghostwriting books for celebrities, has access to everything in her life, and even moves in, claiming her own apartment is being renovated. She’s answering Delphine’s e-mails, deflecting contact by her friends and editors, and turning down appearance invitations. Soon she’s dyed her hair the same shade of auburn and is dressing like Delphine. The author, still emotionally fragile seems delighted by the copycat move rather than alarmed, and unaware of the danger.

The Polanski who conjures up fearsome threats to innocence in his films, who can make grim foreboding lurk under comedy and whimsy, and whose sexual themes are dark and uncompromising, appears to have gotten lost in the offbeat pop slickness of the Assayas world, more “Irma Vep" than “Rosemary’s Baby,” and more “Personal Shopper” in its treatment of transference and image-swapping. In “Based on a True Story,” it appears that Polanski is the ghost, and Assayas the ghost-director.

Hackaday: Radio Controlled Pacemakers Are Easily Hacked

Doctors use RF signals to adjust pacemakers so that instead of slicing a patient open, they can change the pacemakers parameters which in turn avoids unnecessary surgery. A study on security weaknesses of pacemakers (highlights) or full Report (PDF) has found that pacemakers from the main manufacturers contain security vulnerabilities that make it possible for the devices to be adjusted by anyone with a programmer and proximity. Of course, it shouldn’t be possible for anyone other than medical professionals to acquire a pacemaker programmer. The authors bought their examples on eBay.

They discovered over 8,000 known vulnerabilities in third-party libraries across four different pacemaker programmers from four manufacturers.  This highlights an industry-wide problem when it comes to security. None of the pacemaker programmers required passwords, and none of the pacemakers authenticated with the programmers. Some home pacemaker monitoring systems even included USB connections in which opens up the possibilities of introducing malware through an infected pendrive.

The programmers’ firmware update procedures were also flawed, with hard-coded credentials being very common. This allows an attacker to setup their own authentication server and upload their own firmware to the home monitoring kit. Due to the nature of the hack, the researchers are not disclosing to the public which manufacturers or devices are at fault and have redacted some information until these medical device companies can get their house in order and fix these problems.

This article only scratches the surface for an in-depth look read the full report. Let’s just hope that these medical companies take action as soon as possible and resolve these issue’s as soon as possible. This is not the first time pacemakers have been shown to be flawed.

Filed under: Medical hacks, news

All Content: Cannes 2017: Palme d'Or predictions

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There are two ways of looking at film festival programming, and both have some merit. The first, charitable view is that while festivals have the responsibility of selecting good films, they are ultimately at the mercy of what's in the pipeline. In the case of a festival as prestigious as Cannes, which, more than most festivals, has its pick of whatever it wants, a weak year can only be a function of bad timing. Great films simply weren't ready.

The other point of view on programming is that if a festival can't find enough top-notch movies to fill out a 19-feature competition, then the problem is within. The festival isn't looking hard enough. Cannes is chided annually for lacking gender, racial, and geographic diversity in its competition, and homogeneity is certainly part of the problem. But this year's competition, more than most, felt overwhelmed by a kind of tyranny of classicism. Anything too experimental, too outré, or (mainly) too star-free wasn't in the running for the Palme.

Meanwhile, we got treated to an annual helping of familiar types of films: dour portraits of corruption in Russia; sendups of the venality of the bourgeoisie; a great-man biopic so boring audience that members should have been handed eye clamps. (Jacques Doillon's "Rodin" was, as an audience member bellowed at the end—if I understood his shouting in either Spanish or Italian correctly—a crystalline example of "old man's cinema.")

What if you can't find enough good films, and it's your festival's 70th anniversary, and there's a great deal of pressure to put on a good show? Maybe looking to new auteurs is the way to go. Or even reshuffle your own lineups: Valeska Grisebach's "Western," from Un Certain Regard, wouldn't have brought stars to the red carpet, but it got better reviews than most of the films in competition. Ditto Sean Baker's terrific "The Florida Project," shown in one of Cannes' arch-rival programs, the Directors' Fortnight. The closest equivalent in competition, Josh and Benny Safdie's "Good Time"—like "The Florida Project," a gritty indie that makes extensive use of nonprofessional actors—jolted exhausted viewers on Thursday morning.

Kvetch, kvetch. No movie in this year's competition approached the awfulness of "Burnt by the Sun 2" or the rest of the mostly uninspired docket in 2010, by my lights Cannes' last clunker year. But even that competition yielded Abbas Kiarostami's masterpiece "Certified Copy" and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's great "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives," the first Thai Palme d'Or winner. Nothing in 2017 jumped out the way the way those two films did, the way "Toni Erdmann" did last year, or "Blue Is the Warmest Color" did in 2013.

To be fair, in a sea of bad-to-pretty-good, there was still room for some competition films to be underrated. Brian Selznick's book "Wonderstruck" could have been turned into a brain-dead children's movie rather than the serene and beautiful one that Todd Haynes has made, which shows real respect for cinematic and literary traditions. Michael Haneke's "Happy End" will probably look better in the coming months to audiences who aren't sick of Michael Haneke movies. And Ruben Ostlünd's "The Square" brimmed over with great ideas; who cares if it was a little too long?

Still, the sense that this was an underwhelming year is widespread; as of this writing, only one film has cracked a 3.0 average on the Screen International grid. Sunday night's big prize may be less of a Palme d'Or than a Palme Default.

Before I get to my predictions, I should note that there are three competition titles I haven't seen: Michel Hazanavicius's "Redoubtable," Naomi Kawase's "Radiance," and Hong Sangsoo's "The Day After." None have been touted as major contenders, but I'll update my predictions if necessary after I see some of them during the competition reprise on Sunday.

My calculus is heavily influenced by both (a) critical consensus, which is frequently wrongheaded when it comes to the Cannes awards and (b) speculation about the motives of the jury members, whom I don't know and probably shouldn't psychoanalyze. Even so, it should be noted that the jury president, Pedro Almodóvar, is one of Cannes' most overdue regulars. He's competed five times and has always gone home Palme-less. (That had to hurt in 2006, when he was perceived as a frontrunner for "Volver.") I'm guessing that he won't want to give an unprecedented third Palme to Haneke, whose "The White Ribbon" beat his "Broken Embraces" in 2009—so strike "Happy End" off the list of potential winners right away. Every other director in competition has yet to win a Palme.

Palme d'Or: "Loveless." Andrey Zvyagintsev took a big step forward with "Leviathan," which won Best Screenplay here in 2014. His latest, a portrait of a separated couple whose child goes missing, pulls off several difficult balances. It's classical and modern, accessible and ambiguous, austere and beautiful, leisurely yet compelling, and allegorical yet concrete. It's the sort of film, in other words, that could bridge divides across a jury. As a movie that seems likely to grow with repeat viewings, it also has one eye on eternity.

Grand Jury Prize (second place): "BPM (Beats Per Minute)." A lot of writers are pegging Robin Campillo's AIDS drama, about the French branch of Act Up, for the Palme. It's stylistically quite similar to "The Class," which won in 2008 (and which Campillo co-wrote), although I thought the compelling, process-oriented scenes—meetings in which Act Up members debate strategy and tactics—gave way to more conventional weepie material in the overlong second half. Unlike "Loveless," it doesn't seem like a film that people might be talking about decades from now. But it's almost certain to win something, so I'm placing it here.

Jury Prize: Sergei Loznitsa, "A Gentle Creature." Some years this prize functions like third place; other years it feels more like a catch-all citation. It could go to anything, but Loznitsa's rigorously controlled portrait of a woman trying to find out what's happened to her imprisoned husband in a bottomless pit of corruption in Russia is the sort of film that will impress formally minded jurors and repel anyone eager for a film to hit more than one note over two and a half hours.

Best Director: Lynne Ramsay, "You Were Never Really Here." Ramsay swooped in just last night with the final competition film to screen; it may well be the best of the lot. A spare, glancing portrait of a bearded, laconic New York man (Joaquin Phoenix) who rescues young women from sex traffickers, it's as oblique as "The Counselor" and just as unexpected. Working a typically fragmented style, Ramsay ("Morvern Callar," "We Need to Talk About Kevin") has been pared down the scenario, from a novel by Jonathan Ames, to its essential elements; no shot or cut is wasted, while Jonny Greenwood's nerve-jangling score augments the atmosphere of unease. The jury may also want to send a message to the festival by giving Best Director to a woman—particularly since she actually did the competition's best directing.

Best Actress: Nicole Kidman, "The Beguiled." The surprise of Sofia Coppola's remake of "The Beguiled" is that it follows Don Siegel's 1971 original pretty closely, down to the iffy sexual politics; it just cuts out large chunks. And it has enough defenders that it will probably prevail somewhere. Kidman, as the matriarch of a girls' boarding school in 1864 Virginia, has the showiest role. She was also at Cannes this year with four films. Forget her (typically) excellent acting; anyone who endures that many press conferences deserves an award just for good sportsmanship. Possible upsets: Diane Kruger in Fatih Akin's "In the Fade," for her portrait of a woman seeking revenge for the deaths of her husband and son in a terrorist attack; or Vasilina Makovtseva for her unrelenting stoicism in "A Gentle Creature."

Best Actor: Robert Pattinson, "Good Time." The Safdie brothers' "Good Time" was the edgy upstart of competition, a sort of genre outgrowth of their "Heaven Knows What." Especially in a placid lineup, any film this energetic is going to stand out, and there's no question that the Safdies lean heavily on Pattinson's against-type performance as a New York thief who manages to get himself into deeper trouble with every move. Possible upsets: Claes Bang for his layered self-effacement as a museum director in "The Square," or Adam Sandler (seriously) for Noah Baumbach's "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)."

Best Screenplay: "The Square." Although Ostlund's compositions are as carefully constructed as his dialogue, words—and whether the characters choose them carefully—are a crucial component of this study of trust, masculinity, and hypocrisy.

70th-anniversary prize: Because it's a decennial anniversary year, the jury has a chance to award an additional prize, and I'm pretty sure it can do whatever it wants. In 1987, jurors gave an award to an out-of-competition film, Federico Fellini's "Intervista." The jury from 1997 chose to give a career honor to the Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. In 2007, Gus Van Sant received a more conventional award for "Paranoid Park."

I predict that the jury uses this spot to make a statement on the changing nature of film exhibition—either by giving a prize to Jane Campion and David Lynch, two filmmakers who appeared here with their respective TV series, "Top of the Lake" and "Twin Peaks," or by finding a way to honor the theatrical experience. Cannes, for all its flaws, remains fervently devoted to superb theaters and projection.

All Content: Cannes 2017: “In the Fade,” “You Were Never Really Here,” “Directions”

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As the attention of the world is focused on the glamour and star-power of the 70th anniversary Cannes Film Festival, this largest and best-known celebration of cinema is also using its bully pulpit to bring attention to the global question of the immigrant. Vanessa Redgrave’s special documentary presentation “Sea Sorrow,” and competition films “Jupiter’s Moon,” and “Happy End” are joined by the first of today’s two competition premieres, “In the Fade” by German director Fatih Akin, starring Diane Kruger

Akin, the son of Turkish immigrants, won Best Screenplay at Cannes in 2007 for “The Edge of Heaven.” Setting his films largely in his home base of Hamburg, he is known for incorporating culture clash and the possibility of bridging gaps between ethnic Europeans and immigrants into his fiction. 

The timely story of “In the Fade” presents the happily married couple Nuri (Numan Acar), a Turkish immigrant and small-business owner, and Katja (Kruger), a native German, and their six-year-old son Rocco, going about a normal day when the blast of a powerful homemade bomb tears apart Nuri’s storefront, killing him and their child. On her way out just before it happened, Katja had briefly registered the unusual sight of a young woman abandoning a new, unlocked bicycle against the front of the building.

Despite the obvious implication that this explosion set off in the crowded business district of an immigrant neighborhood is a hate crime, police maintain a line of questioning focused on Nuri, who had years before served a sentence for drugs. While a grief-stricken Katja negotiates the outspoken prejudice of her own mother and the newly rejecting attitude of her Turkish in-laws, the chief investigator speculates a range of false scenarios by which Nuri was the cause of his own death as a result of political activism, money laundering or drug dealing.

The core section of “In the Fade” is a courtroom drama that broadcasts many a hint that a superficial interpretation of the trajectory of this trial is not to be trusted. Validating the suspicion that Katja had initially reported to the skeptical police, the people charged are a pair of neo-Nazis with a long history of activism. The wife is the woman Katja had spotted leaving the bicycle. The evidence lines up perfectly. Even the male suspect’s father gives damning testimony against him. It looks like an open-and-shut case. It’s not.

In this script, co-written by Akin and director/actor Hark Bohm (a lawyer by education, and best known for roles in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films), the intention is to focus on violence against immigrants, and on the imperfect and capricious quality of justice under law that has sometimes attended crimes of this nature. The film doesn’t always serve their purpose well. 

The courtroom sequences are spare but gripping, with especially dynamic performances by the two opposing attorneys (Denis Moschitto & Johannes Krisch). The bookending drama, including the film’s final section in which Katja considers taking matters into her own hands, feels perfunctory, a cautionary exercise rather than a story with heart.

The distinction for bringing the highest body count and the most excessive amount of gore to the competition goes to Scottish director Lynne Ramsay for “You Were Never Really Here,” the very final film in the festival competition to be previewed for the press today, after a long ten days of screenings. She competed in Cannes in 2011 for “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” and had previously won Cannes awards for two short films.

Male directors are often criticized for having a taste for gratuitous violence, but Ramsay gets down with the big boys in proving that blowing heads off can be a genderless pursuit. “You Were Never Really Here” is rumored to have only been finished in the nick of time for the festival, and it feels incomplete, not in terms of technical polish, but as if the concept for the script had not been fully hashed out before shooting began.

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a rough, marginal character who lives with his elderly mother and makes a cash-only living at the kind of odd jobs that involve killing people. A desert-set flashback of a child shooting another child over a candy bar signals that he’s a veteran of Afghanistan. Ramsay periodically adds a child’s counting game on the soundtrack, as well as Joe’s additional flashbacks of being physically abused as little boy. Fast cutting and disorienting shots make him a man with a short attention span and a lot of distracting thoughts on his mind.

His latest job involves tracking down the pre-teen daughter of a state senator, who has been kidnapped by a child sex trafficking ring and is being held in a high-priced brothel. Joe gains access easily, killing everyone on the premises with a ballpein hammer he bought at the hardware store in preparation for the job. He carries the blonde girl Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) away on his shoulders. It’s not long before the two are stalked, more blood is shed, including Joe’s, and Nina is gone.

As the plot goes deeper into complications involving men in high places, dreamier imagery kicks in, even as the violations become more gruesome and egregious. Joe’s mother becomes one of the victims, and is seen in the aftermath of a particularly stomach-turning death. The film goes all-out poetic and slo-mo for a brief time as he handles her unique body-disposal arrangements.

There’s more to come, involving a nighttime visit to the governor’s opulent historic mansion, and, of course, more thick, glossy red blood. At one point, Joe is asked, “Where do you want to go,” and he replies with a blank look, “I don’t know.” Someone needs to ask Ramsey the same question.

The Un Certain Regard sidebar today premieres “Directions” by Stephen Komadarev (“The Judgment”). In 2010, Komandarev’s “The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner” was the first-ever Bulgarian film to be short-listed for an Oscar.

Set in a series of taxicabs, “Directions” is an episodic film that lets loose with much black humor alongside dark stories of disillusion, betrayal and despair, to draw back the curtain on a nation’s collective howl of pain.

Using the circumstances of a taxi that picks up disparate strangers as the vehicle to transition through a series of stories is not a new idea. Jafar Panahi’s 2015 film “Taxi” comes to mind as just one recent example. The device may not be original to Komandarev, but he brings poignancy and a zesty sense of humor to “Directions,” while exposing the unfunny fallout from a failing economy, political corruption, and mass immigration to greener pastures by those able to manage it.

The murder of a banker who was shaking down a part-time cab driver, the owner of a failing business, is the top news story of the day in the city of Sofia. While the driver lies in an irreversible coma, debates pro and con his action rage on late night talk radio. Every taxi driver in the city is tuned in, and the commentary punctuates the situations that play out as five drivers meet up with fares through the night.

Some of the segments are meant as pure comic relief, like the one in which a businessman’s lie to his wife in a phone call is exposed by a traffic incident and the frisky moves of his companion. Several segments begin humorously then take a sharp turn to expose the deep-seated despair of customers who are out of options in life. A driver spots a man poised to jump from a highway bridge, and pulls up to claim that he received his call for a cab and won’t leave until he gets paid. 

In the hardest hitting of these incidents, a middle-aged woman driver picks up a rudely dismissive man at the airport, a wealthy Bulgarian who now lives in Vienna. He doesn’t recognize her but she recognizes him from her university days, when his retaliation in the wake of her sexual rejection of him changed the direction of her life. 

A priest by day, taxi driver by night, gets a call to assist a sick man down from his apartment to the taxi. On the way to a fateful meeting that will tie together the film’s larger theme they argue metaphysics. “God already left this country, along with one-third of the population,” retorts the passenger, when the driver urges him to trust in the almighty.

All Content: Cannes 2017: Palme de Whiskers

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The concluding day of the 70th Cannes Film Festival has finally arrived, and the town is abuzz over the impending grand finale—the awarding of the Palme de Whiskers, the coveted prize for Best Feline Performance. Cats the world over will be mesmerized by their TVs, while the most fabled celebrities of the feline world pad down the catnip-scented red carpet to enter the Palais des Kittycats on the yacht-lined shores of the Mediterranean in the center of the Cannes port. 

Critics admit that this year’s Palme de Whiskers poster has it all over the mainstream festival’s poster featuring Claudia Cardinale wheeling the zero in the 70 like a hoop. For our event, the FFFA (Feline Film Festivals Authority) has commissioned an evocative graphic that has the white kitten from the fountain scene in “La Dolce Vita” lying seductively over the top of the seven, while those two charming kittens from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Film Socialisme” are seen jumping through the zero, a triumph of superior feline PR!

In this year of heightened security, the FFFA once more solicited the cooperation of sympathetic creatures from other species to lend their support. Human police may block access to streets with trucks and such, but Okja, the elephant-sized CGI pig from Bong Joon Ho’s film, has helpfully plopped herself down in the middle of the Croisette to guard access points to the Palais des Kittycats. Standing at attention is the friendly Bulgarian dog from “Directions,” who looked so fetching eating pizza in his big scene.

After one last walkthrough of the Palais, my own Miss Kitty, the mistress of ceremonies, steps out to greet the elite honor guard of French army cats that will line the approach as the guests arrive. “Nous servons et protegeons” (“We serve and protect,”) purrs the rakish captain, a little camouflage beret perched smartly between his ears. He explains to Miss Kitty that in the interests of security, all guests must flex a front paw at the door to assure that they have had their claws freshly clipped.

Celebrity cats are slinking in through the fabulous swinging double cat-doors of the Palais des Kittycats, eager to lap the beef-broth cocktails, but the jury is still deep in debate in a backstage room. Let’s listen in.

Jury president Rocky, last year’s Palme winner for his sensitive role in Chloe Sevigny’s short “Kitty,” casts Prince a baleful yellow eye, and says: “I think we can forget about the street cats and the walk-on roles this year.” Prince, who gets his air of authority from living with Magali Simard, a manager for the Toronto International Film Festival, swishes his fluffy Maine Coon-like tail in irritation. Once an abandoned kitten, he retorts, “What about those three cats in the refugee shelter in “Jupiter’s Moon? Who will recognize the homeless and the refugees if we don’t?”

“Let’s get on with it,” remarks a bored Leyla, admiring her reflection in a water bowl. She’s still in a snit because her personal assistant Amy Taubin of Art Forum misplaced her Chopard collar. “It’s a great year for cats on the big screen,” enthuses Orson, who was so excited to be chosen for the jury that he wore his tuxedo and dapper little bowtie throughout the festival, despite the objections of his butler, Eric Kohn of Indiewire.

“You’re such a novice: who ever heard of a tan tuxedo,” remarks snide Siamese princess Nico. And by the way, where’s your tuxedo, she spits at Chubbs, settling his ever-expanding striped bulk on a cushion. “It doesn’t fit,” he says bashfully,” but to be fair, Nico and Chubbs had to sneak away from Vogue critic John Powers and novelist Sandi Tan in the dead of night to get their flight from Los Angeles, so there was no time to pack.

“Let’s talk about this festival’s masterpiece of cat-casting 'L’Amant Double,'” says wild-looking Henry, who reviews for the New York Times under the pseudonym Manohla Dargis. “You have to admit that the two opposing cats, benign grey Milo, and his devilish double, the tortoise-shell longhair Danton, were the real stars, and the humans were just pathetic extras.” “I thought all the post-coital snuggling with the naked humans was cool,” leers macho Rocky.

“Oh come off it,” sneers pointy-faced tabby Lola, who curates film for Art Basel under the name Marian Masone to protect her privacy. They just shamefully exploited those feline stars to cover their private parts in nude scenes.” “Well, we’re just fine in our birthday suits,” chortles Chubbs. “As if, in your case,” says Nico.

“I hated that film,” says Orson, whose favorite film remains “F for Fake.” “I refuse to give an award to a movie that also featured a feline taxidermy specimen!” “And, that mother cat’s ultrasound gave me the creeps,” adds Rocky.  “What if it was your family?” agrees a miffed Prince, who never knew his siblings.

Nico champions the calico kitten Baby, who played a brief but explosive role in “The Square,” set in a museum milieu. “We have to mentor the next generation of stars,” she points out. “That was real art, and I should know,” comments Lola, with a look that challenges anyone to defy her. “No it wasn’t,” says Prince boldly. “That kitten was in the film for like two seconds, and you’re just swayed by cuteness.”

A silence falls over the group as they take a water break, and Lola thoughtfully laps hers from a curled paw. “No one has mentioned that amazing performance in Kiarostami’s “24 Frames,” say Henry, with a flick of his clipped ear. Having been a feral cat in his youth, he found the scene in which a stalking tabby surprises a group of blackbirds in the snow and deftly carries one away in his mouth one of the most dynamic feline action scenes of the year.

“It was pretty good, it made my mouth water,” says Rocky. “Time’s running out, and we need to discuss the greatest of all, says Leyla. “Agnes Varda’s cat Mimi invented the French New Wave, and gives a spectacularly moving performance sitting on Varda’s shoulder in “Faces Places.” “You nailed it!” responds Nico, inadvertently quoting a line from the catless film “Rodin.” Leyla admits that she dislikes Mimi, who once sat on her disloyal assistant Amy’s lap in Paris. “But the power of the performance speaks for itself,” she admits grudgingly, proposing Mimi for the Palme de Whiskers.

The audience has grown restless, and some have overturned their engraved-glass bowls of beef broth by the time the jury files onto the stage to take their places on tasseled cushions. The award, a spray of 18K gold whiskers on a crystal base, glitters on a pedestal, awaiting this year’s lucky winner. “Jury president Rocky, have you reached a decision?” mews Miss Kitty. “The 2017 Palme de Whiskers goes to Mimi of Agnes Varda’s 'Faces Places'" he declares, as the crowd goes wild with excitement. Tails are proudly held aloft with happiness, and loud purrs reverberate through the Palais. 

Mimi ascends the stage and touches noses with Rocky, accepting the award with gratitude. “I’m proud to be recognized by my peers for my role as the mother of the French New Wave after all these years,” she murmurs. “I couldn’t have done it without such an apt pupil as Agnes, and she deserves much credit, even though she’s only a human.”

Now it’s time for the Kittycat Peace Prize, and Mrow, the Tehran street cat who received the award last year on behalf of the feline ensemble from “The Salesman” is on hand to announce the winner. The Cannes experience has a way of transforming careers, and the once-scruffy black-and-white Mrow has clearly left his garbage-picking days behind. The Palais falls silent again as Mrow announces that the Kittycat Peace Prize goes to Baby, the kitten from “The Square,” in the hope that her example will make the world recognize the sacrifices cats make for the benefit of humans.

Baby isn’t weaned yet, and couldn’t be present without her mother, and the audience is frankly relieved. It’s an adult evening in the Palais des Kittycats, with an exciting CGI mouse chase to come later. As the mackerel fillets are served, a few courtships seem to be in the offing too, and Miss Kitty sneaks out to check on that handsome captain of the French Army Feline Corps. The purrs will be heard until dawn.

Slashdot: New Solar Plane Plans Non-Stop Flight Around The World

An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: [A] Russian tycoon and his Renova Group plan a record-breaking effort to send a plane around the world nonstop using only the power of the sun. If all goes well, a single pilot will fly for five days straight at altitudes of up to 10 miles, about a third higher than commercial airliners. The project isn't just a stunt. The glider-style airplane with a 36-meter (120-foot) wingspan will be a test of technologies that are set to be used to build new generations of autonomous craft for the military and business, say aerospace experts. They will fly continuously, have far greater reach and control than satellites and expand broadcast, communication and spying capabilities around the globe... "Our flight should prove that it's possible to make long-distance flights using solar energy," said Mikhail Lifshitz, Renova's director of high-tech asset development and a qualified pilot-instructor. A "flying laboratory" test-plane will be ready by year-end, Lifshitz said in an interview. The plane will conserve power by slowly gliding down from the high altitudes at night -- without ever touching the ground. In comparison a solar plane (partially funded by Google) already circled the earth last year -- but it took 22 days, and made 17 different stops.

Read more of this story at Slashdot. Sub-Talisman-Struct-0.006

the spawn of MooX-Struct and Sub-Talisman Games-Chipmunk-0.6

Perl API for the Chipmunk 2D v7 physics library RPi-WiringPi-2.3614

Perl interface to Raspberry Pi's board, GPIO, LCDs and other various items

Slashdot: SSD Drives Vulnerable To Rowhammer-Like Attacks That Corrupt User Data

An anonymous reader writes: NAND flash memory chips, the building blocks of solid-state drives (SSDs), include what could be called "programming vulnerabilities" that can be exploited to alter stored data or shorten the SSD's lifespan. According to research published earlier this year, the programming logic powering of MLC NAND flash memory chips (the tech used for the latest generation of SSDs), is vulnerable to at least two types of attacks. The first is called "program interference," and takes place when an attacker manages to write data with a certain pattern to a target's SSD. Writing this data repeatedly and at high speeds causes errors in the SSD, which then corrupts data stored on nearby cells. This attack is similar to the infamous Rowhammer attack on RAM chips. The second attack is called "read disturb" and in this scenario, an attacker's exploit code causes the SSD to perform a large number of read operations in a very short time, which causes a phenomenon of "read disturb errors," that alters the SSD ability to read data from nearby cells, even long after the attack stops.

Read more of this story at Slashdot. RPi-Pin-2.3601

Access and manipulate Raspberry Pi GPIO pins App-MusicExpo-1.003

script which generates a HTML table of music tags

Slashdot: The Lawyer Who Founded Prenda Law Just Got Disbarred

Long-time Slashdot reader lactose99 writes: One of the original copyright trolls finally got their comeuppance. From TFA: "John L. Steele, a Chicago lawyer who pled guilty to perjury, fraud and money laundering resulting from alleged 'honeypot' schemes, has just been disbarred by an Illinois court." John L. Steele, as you may know, is one of the principals of Prenda Law, a notorious copyright troll who has been featured on /. several times. The article goes on to describe how the Prenda lawyers used honeypot-like tactics to trick people into downloads and then subsequently scammed them for copyright violations. Their operation brought in $6 million in settlement fees, reports Engadget, adding "While it is illegal to download copyrighted files from file-sharing sites, it is also against the law to extort downloaders."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

MetaFilter: Why Vimto sales soar during Ramadan

Vimto , a drink born and commemorated in Manchester sees sales spike during Ramadan as it has become a popular way to break the fast.

Ramadan Mubarak to those who observe it.


Get The Complete OVC for only $25! T-Shirts $12! Help support your 5th favorite webcomic! 

Hackaday: Hackaday Prize Entry: MakerNet

One of the biggest trends in whatever market ‘Maker’ stuff belongs to is the Legofication of electronics. Building electronics is hard, if you haven’t noticed. Anything that turns transmission lines, current loops, and RF wizardry into something a five-year-old can use has obvious applications to education. For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Jeremy Gilbert] is building a fast, intuitive, modular way to explore electronics. It’s easier to use than the 100-in-1 Radio Shack spring clip kits, and you can actually make useful projects with this system.

MakerNet is [Jeremy]’s solution to the problem of complicated electronics, Arduinos connected to breadboards with DuPont cables, and apparently, to actual electronic Lego sets. The core of this system is built around the Atmel SAM D21 microcontroller, an ARM Cortex-M0+ chip that has more than enough processing power for anything deserving of the ‘maker’ label. This mainboard connects to devices through what is basically an I2C bus. Each module in the system has an in and out header. A small SAM D11 (available for $1 USD) on each module handles all the communications.

Right now, [Jeremy] is experimenting with a dozen or so modules including a captouch board, an LED matrix, OLED display, rotary encoders, and lots of blinky LEDs. It’s just a prototype, but that’s exactly what we’re looking for at this stage of the Hackaday Prize. After looking at the video [Jeremy] produced (below), there’s a lot of promise here.

Filed under: The Hackaday Prize

MetaFilter: Gregg Allman, born a Ramblin' Man on Dec. 8, 1947, has died

Gregg Allman, Soulful Trailblazer of Southern Rock, Dies at 69 Gregg Allman, the soulful singer-songwriter and rock n' blues pioneer who founded The Allman Brothers Band with his late brother, Duane, and composed such classics as "Midnight Rider," "Melissa" and the epic concert jam "Whipping Post," has died at age 69, Billboard has learned. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999 and underwent a liver transplant in 2010. ~ From BILLBOARD

PITCHFORK: Gregg Allman has died, Billboard reports. The news was confirmed with a note on Allman's website, which states that he died "peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia."

The family has asked that tributes to Allman be made to the Gregg Allman Scholarship Fund at The University of Georgia or the Allman/Lehman Endowed Scholarship at Syracuse University.

ROLLING STONE: Gregg Allman, Southern Rock Pioneer, Dead at 69 Although he claimed the term was redundant, singer-keyboardist Gregg Allman helped create the first great "Southern-rock" group as co-founder of the legendary Allman Brothers Band alongside his older brother, famed guitarist Duane Allman. The Allmans fused country blues with San Francisco-style extended improvisation, and their sound created a template for countless jam bands to come. Gregg Allman was blessed with one of blues-rock's great growling voices and, along with his Hammond B-3 organ playing, beholden to Booker T. Jones, had a deep emotional power.

Allman Brothers Band - Ramblin' Man
Allman Brothers Band - Midnight Rider

Electronics-Lab: HealthyPi v3 – Health HAT for Raspberry Pi

An open-source, multi-parameter, full fledged human body vital sign monitoring HAT for Raspberry Pi as well as standalone use.

HealthyPi is a do-it-yourself, open-source vital sign monitor based on the Raspberry Pi. THe HealthyPi board itself is a HAT add-on for the Raspberry Pi 3 which measures all the human body’s vital signs and sends it over to the Raspberry Pi. Couple it together with the official Raspberry Pi touchscreen and you’ve got a full-fledged vital sign monitor.

HealthyPi v3 – Health HAT for Raspberry Pi – [Link]

The post HealthyPi v3 – Health HAT for Raspberry Pi appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

MetaFilter: "like a badly behaved uncle at a wedding"

In 2014 The Guardian published artist Laura Dodsworth's photos of 100 women's breasts and their thoughts about them. Now there's a follow-up: Me and My Penis. (nsfw)

Electronics-Lab: 4.5 to 42V-in, 4 x 4mm, isolating buck DC-DC delivers 3.7A

by Graham Prophet @ discuss about the MAX17682 buck DC-DC converter.

With details recently posted by Maxim integrated, MAX17682 is a high-voltage, high-efficiency, iso-buck DC-DC converter designed to provide isolated power up to 10W. The device operates over a 4.5V to 42V input voltage range and uses primary-side feedback to regulate the output voltage. It delivers primary peak current up to 3.7A and regulates primary output voltage to within ±1.2% over -40°C to +125°C.

The post 4.5 to 42V-in, 4 x 4mm, isolating buck DC-DC delivers 3.7A appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: The Big 6

RYAN  By Guest Blogger Ryan Lewenza

Today we’re going to have some fun with numbers. Well, fun may be a stretch since we’re not talking about some crazy Hangover movie-like experience with the “Smoking man” in Las Vegas. This is more nerdy fun like hanging out at Comic-Con dressed up as Chewbacca.

Our industry loves its acronyms (CDS’s, MBS, ROEs etc.) with “FANG” stocks being one of the more recent and popular ones. FANG stocks include Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. When we add in Apple and Microsoft we get a variation of the “Big 6” we are well familiar with here in Canada. These “Big 6” US stocks have done much of the heavy lifting for the S&P 500, with these six stocks contributing roughly 40% of 2017 YTD gains and over 20% of the total gains for the index since 2013. Given how topical this investment theme is these days we thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the US “Big 6” with our very own “Big 6” banks and see what conclusions can be drawn.

It has been a great run for these six US stocks with their combined market cap up 165% to US$3 trillion since 2012. To put this into perspective this is the equivalent in US dollars of the combined total market cap of Canada’s TSX and Germany’s DAX stock exchange value! So if you had US$3 trillion lying around (or had God as your private banker) you could either purchase 6 (great) US companies or every company listed on both Canada’s and Germany’s stock exchange!

Let’s now compare those six US stocks to the “Big 6” Canadian banks which are pretty sizable banks on a global basis and are highly profitable. The “Big 6” banks include Royal Bank, TD Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, CIBC and National Bank. Their combined market cap in US dollars is $344 billion or roughly 1/10th of the combined market cap of FB, AMZN, NFLX, GOOGL, AAPL and MSFT.

Here in Canada we view the Canadian banks as larger than life but we’re looking at them through the lens of a small country with just 35 million people. As President Trump would likely say, the “Big 6” US stocks are HUGEEE and our “Big 6” Canadian banks are just a bunch of “Little Marcos”.

Market Cap of the US “Big 6” & the “Big 6” Canadian Banks

Source: Bloomberg, Turner Investments

Where it gets interesting (again assuming you’re a nerd like me who gets worked up over financial stats) is when you compare the profitability of the US “Big 6” stocks with the “Big 6” banks. Looking at trailing 12-month combined earnings of the US stocks, they earned an incredible US$98 billion with Apple delivering half of this.

In contrast, the Canadian banks earned a very impressive US$29 billion over the last 12 months. So comparing the US stocks to the Canadian banks, they make 3.5x more in earning than our banks, but have a combined market cap nearly 9x that of the Canadian banks.

Net Income of the US “Big 6” & the “Big 6” Canadian Banks

Source: Bloomberg, Turner Investments

Therefore the missing piece to this analysis is stock valuations. Currently, the “Big 6” US stocks trade at weighted average P/E ratio of 56x with Amazon and Netflix trading at nosebleed P/E levels of 180x and 206x, respectively. The Canadian banks on the other hand trade at a much more reasonable 12x earnings, and you get some nice divys every few months.

P/Es of the US “Big 6” and the “Big 6” Canadian Banks

Source: Bloomberg, Turner Investments

Ok, so what’s the takeaway here?

* First, buy broad-based index funds since it’s very hard to know which stocks are going to be the big winners in a given year. Many portfolio managers have taken a pass on Amazon, Facebook and the like since they are expensive. Well not owning those stocks likely caused many PMs to underperform the S&P 500
* Canadian banks punch above their weight class delivering massive and steady earnings for investors. And they trade at very reasonable valuations while providing attractive dividends. This is why we believe investors should continue to have some exposure to them in portfolios
* Finally, if you’ve hit a big winner by owning one these US stocks then maybe it’s not a bad time to “ring the register” and take a few chips of table. Especially, if “Smoking man” is sitting at your poker table ordering double JD and cokes.

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

Hackaday: Use the Force to Turn On This Lamp

Holocrons are holographic data storage devices used in the Star Wars universe by both Jedi and Sith as teaching devices or for storing valuable information. After the fall of the Jedi, they became rare and closely guarded artifacts. [DaveClarke] built one to light the room.

[DaveClarke] built the lamp around a Particle Photon – a STM32 ARM-M0 based microcontroller with a Cypress wifi chip. All [Dave] needed for the workings were an IR proximity sensor, a servo and a bunch of super-bright white LEDs. When the sensor detects something, it starts up the system. The servo rotates a gear which raises the lamp and fades in the LEDs. The next time the sensor detects something, the servo lowers the lamp and the lights begin to fade out. And since the Photon is connected to the cloud, the system can be accessed with a web interface as well.

Okay, so it’s just an IR sensor detecting reflected infrared light and not the Force that’s used to turn it on, but it’s still pretty cool. There are plenty of pictures and videos at [DaveClarke]’s site, along with a schematic, 3D printer designs, and the source code. The whole thing was designed using Autodesk Fusion 360 and 3D printed in about 30 hours and press-fits together. A very simple yet clever design. There have been some other great lamps on the site, like this blossoming flower lamp or this laser cut lamp with which also has a unique switch.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Microcontrollers

All Content: Cannes 2017: “A Prayer Before Dawn,” “The Merciless”

Thumb prayer

In a little more than a day's time, the Cannes Film Festival will conclude. Winners of the festival's Un Certain Regard and Competition slates will be selected after much vain speculation, and attending journalists from around the world will go back to their respective homes. I'm already home in Brooklyn as I write this, and am very jealous of the extra time my colleagues have on the Croisette. I imagine they are taking their time catching up with films they previously missed since there are now no more premiere screenings. Journalists are now no longer required to cover the festival's most prominent titles in order to meet fast deadlines. In fact, there's a whole day of catch-up screenings where festival attendants can see whatever Competition titles they missed. The theme park is about to close for the year, and everyone's queuing up for one or two more rides.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to see everything I wanted to this year, and tried to plan for that eventuality. Six days in Cannes is simply not enough, not if you also want to write anything you can hold on to later. I skipped several Competition titles, knowing that they would be prominent enough to be seen later in the year at festivals like New York. 

I also tried to see all three films scheduled in the festival's relatively new "Midnight" side-bar since I like the idea of the Cannes Film Festival having amidnightmovie section.Midnightmovie screenings are, by definition, happenings. Still, it should be noted that many international film festivals now havemidnightmovie sections. I suspect this is a result of inspired Canadian programmer Colin Geddes's influential programming and festival outreach. Geddes made the Toronto International Film Festival's "MidnightMadness" program a mega-popular event, a bright spotlight for exciting new genre films that you probably would not have heard about were it not for Geddes' sponsorship.

As for Cannes, I remember seeing Peter Chan's tongue-in-cheek martial arts drama "Wu Xia" when it screened at11pm in 2011. And I remember seeing Dario Argento's abysmal cheapy "Dracula 3D" in 2012. This is my first year attending the Cannes Film Festival since then, so I made it my mission to see all three films playing at (or close to)midnight. After all, I didn't want to miss discoveries like previousmidnightselections "Train to Busan," "The Salvation," and "Blood Father".

First up was Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s "A Prayer Before Dawn," the firstmidnightmovie screening at this year's festival. I knew nothing about this film except that it's set in a Thai prison. My lack of foreknowledge perfectly suited my experience since "A Prayer Before Dawn" is essentially an impressionistic character study. You experience the world through the eyes of heroin junkie/Muay Thai boxer Billy Moore (Joe Cole), an impulsive hothead who can't seem to control his body's needs. Moore is exclusively defined by his physical discomfort for much of the first half of the film. He's stripped, beaten, and forced to beg for drugs just to survive. In prison, he witnesses (and is threatened with) rape, withdrawal, and severe beatings. Suicide seems to be the only way out in many scenes since this is a world ruled by corrupt prison officials, and vicious fellow inmates. The only form of relief that Moore can get is from a sexual relationship with "lady-boy" inmate Fame (Pornchanok Mabklang)—and from boxing. Moore struggles to get clean so he can train to be a real boxer. And he seems to be on the mend.

"A Prayer Before Dawn" is as satisfying as it is because it feels so realistically unpredictable. The film is essentially generic in that it, like the autobiography it's based on, has a success story narrative. Still, if you don't know that, or just try to stay in the moment as you watch the film, you can easily forget that you're watching one man's road to recovery. Moore's struggle is often characterized by the most sensationalistic, exploitation-friendly elements, namely sex, cursing, and violence. You will feel like you've been through the ringer after watching this film thanks to its exclusive focus on the body, and its many weaknesses. But if you stick it out, you'll come to appreciate the film's focus on Cole's physical frame, and how it guides his character's decisions. This is an unclean, nasty, but ultimately satisfying artsploitation gem.

South Korean gangster melodrama "The Merciless" is not as satisfying as "A Prayer Before Dawn," though it eventually gets better as it becomes increasingly bleak. Realistically, the film should be called "The Hopeless" since its narrative concludes after undercover cop Hyun-su Jo (Si-wan Yim) is completely disillusioned with his job shadowing, and trying to take down crime boss Jae-ho Han (Kyung-gu Sul, star of such Chang-dong Lee dramas as "Oasis" and "Peppermint Candy"). Then again, "The Merciless" just sounds better than "The Hopeless," a superficial improvement that even I can't begrudge its creators.

The first half of "The Merciless" is fairly rough-going. There are a couple of flashy, well-choreographed action scenes, and some unpredictably gruesome plot twists. But much of the film's first hour is a clichéd, insubstantial series of dull encounters that lead Jae-ho and Hyun-su to warily trust each other. Then they start to suspect and betray each other as their criminal organization is intensely scrutinized by Hyun-su's increasingly frustrated police officer colleagues. Their story becomes a little more interesting, and a little less rote with each new plot twist. 

While it takes a while for "The Merciless" to get going, it does eventually settle into a steady downward spiral. At this point, the film's creators stop trying to differentiate their story from every other Korean gangster flick, and settle into a familiar, post-"Infernal Affairs" groove. That's ultimately a good thing since Sul gets to finally stop acting like a third-rate, Heath-Ledger-as-the-Joker-style villain, and starts to show off his range. He wheezes, sighs, and winces his way through many of the film's later scenes, and makes you believe that his character is motivated by a very human kind of pain. Yim keeps up with his relatively experienced co-star, but Sul sets the pace for the film's bloody conclusion. Sul is the real reason to seek out this otherwise generic thriller.

At this point, I must admit that I was not able to see all threemidnightmovies showing at this year's festival. I regret leading you on like this, dear reader, but I didn't want to disappoint you. Once I realized that unforeseeable scheduling difficulties would keep me from seeing South Korean action film "Villainess," I made a point to see the closest thing to amidnightmovie that I could: gross-out exploitation comedy "Return to Return to Nuke 'Em High AKA Vol. 2," the latest movie helmed by schlock king Lloyd Kaufman, and his proudly juvenile collaborators at Troma Entertainment Inc. Kaufman has been showing and selling movies at the Cannes Film Festival's marketplace since the '80s, so it's fitting that his demented swan song played on Croissette in a small three-auditorium multiplex. If you're a journalist, you had to seek this film out in order to find it. But I did, and it was worth the effort.

In many ways, "Return to Return to Nuke 'Em High AKA Vol. 2" feels like a summation of Kaufman's pet obsessions. He uses his right to independent expression/free speech to tell the silliest, and most shocking fart jokes you'll ever see. Kaufman delivers everything exploitation fans want: full frontal nudity, duck rape, mutant monsters, oodles of blood and gore, a fat man with a Prince Albert genital piercing, and more. These saleable elements take precedence over a plot that's so head-splittingly incoherent that you eventually realize that Kaufman isn't really trying to make sense any more.

All you need to know about this new "Nuke 'em High" is broken down through manic flashbacks, and newsbreak segments. But really, plot is incidental here since much of the film is a showcase for boobs, guts, and cheap explosions. Viewers are treated to a bargain basement punk rock/metal score, cameo appearances from comics figurehead Stan Lee, metal god Lemmy Kilmister, and porn star Bailey Jay, and sub-Mel Brooks-level gags delivered at a relentless pace. Oh, and there's also some potty-humor-grade social commentary, stuff about the death of first speech, the thuggish nature of corporate America, and the inanity of modern news coverage. 

Kaufman's social critique undercuts his latest film's relentless everything-but-the-kitchen-sink silliness. Characters repeatedly lament "What kind of God [would let this happen]" to no one in particular, since the answer is clearly Kaufman. He plays Herzkauf, the comically greedy head of the evil Tromorganic fast food company. Herzkauf is and isn't the God that everybody prays to (God is literally played in the film by porn star Rom Jeremy). His character's name is a telling amalgamation of Troma co-founder Kaufman and Michael Herz. This is the world Kaufman has made, a nightmarishly goofy reflection of a society ruled by government-enabled greed, and corporate malfeasance. This might be Kaufman's angriest polemic yet, and it's consequently his looniest. Bless him and Troma for making a movie that's so aggressively unclean. Here's to many more years of questionable taste.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - You Too

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I'm embarrassed to admit how long those last two homophones took to come up with.

New comic!
Today's News:

Hey Sydney! We need your BAHFest proposal! Only a week left to get it in!

Hackaday: The Internet of Cigars

We know, we know. They are bad for you. You shouldn’t start, but some people do love a cigar. And a fine cigar is pretty particular about drying out. That’s why tobacconists and cigar aficionados store their smokes in a humidor. This is anything from a small box to a large closet that maintains a constant humidity. Of course, who could want such a thing these days without having it connected to the Internet?

This fine-looking humidor uses a Raspberry Pi. When the humidity is low, an ultrasonic humidifier adds moisture to the air. If it gets too high, a fan circulates the air until it balances out. Who knew cigar smoking could be so high-tech? The humidity sensor is an AM2302. There’s also a smart USB hub that can accept commands to turn the fan and humidifier on and off.

The wooden cabinet was an existing humidor, apparently. [Atticakes] says he spent about $100 total but that a commercial equivalent would have been at least $250. You can find his source code on GitHub.

If you are vehemently anti-cigar, we should point out that there are other uses for such a device. Because of Denver’s low humidity, for example, the Colorado Rockies baseball team store game balls in a large humidor.

For the record, a zip lock bag can do in a pinch. Without something, the experts say the cigar starts to change negatively in two or three days.

First networkable humidor we’ve seen? Hardly. If you need something to light that stogie, we suggest a laser.

Filed under: Raspberry Pi

Perlsphere: Amsterdam Training Questionnaire

It was back in the middle of March that I first raised the question of running some training in conjunction with the Perl Conference in Amsterdam this August. I didn’t mean to leave it so long before following-up, but I’ve a lot of real life to deal with over the last couple of months and I’m afraid a lot of my digital life got shoved to one side.

But I’m back now and we should really get something organised for Amsterdam.

So here’s a Google Form for you to fill out, to tell me what training course you’d like to see me run in Amsterdam. I’ll leave it running for a couple of weeks before making a decision.

The post Amsterdam Training Questionnaire appeared first on Perl Hacks.

Planet Lisp: Zach Beane: Roger Corman talk in the Bay Area

Roger Corman talk in the Bay Area

s mazuk: What's the timeframe for a better interface than the mouse and keyboard for business-type computing? And will it be what Google is proposing where you control your computer by talking to it?

I think it’s gonna be hard to come up with something better than direct mental interface for what I think of as business-type computing, but maybe that’s because I’m too locked into how computer UI works now. I hate voice interfaces in general, and I especially think it’d be a pain trying to edit a spreadsheet using voice commands. I don’t think they give good avenues for looking at options for editing or visualizing data. Also it’s been 30 years and is still not happening.

s mazuk: cpbhomes:

cpbhomes: Comic for 2017.05.27

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Penny Arcade: News Post: Stream Of Annihilation

Tycho: Wizards of the Coast is doing an event called Stream of Annihilation to kick off the new stuff they’ve got going, some of which was teased in the Acquisitions Incorporated Live game from PAX East.  They’re essentially operating a kind of online convention you can attend June 2nd and 3rd, with twelve hours of programming per day.  They’ve pulled out all the stops on the talent side, it’s a little ridiculous: The HighRollers, Misscliks, and more. I don’t 100% know how it happened, but Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team - the show we do…

Penny Arcade: News Post: Finale

Tycho: You might like the podcast for this one when it comes out; the true origin of the strip is divergent from its terrifying new form. We are going to be a doing a new show on the Twitch stream.  The scam I have historically tried to pull in my life as a person who makes and does things is to try and work it so someone pays me to do something I would have made or done for free.  I probably shouldn’t say that outloud, but since the contract is already signed I think we’re in the clear. Penny Arcade Plays: Warmachine is a four player tournament we’ll be streaming…

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: What to do?

It took three months, but Gary finally got a letter from the federal minister of finance.

“It is a two page speech about all the Liberal policies addressed at making Taxes Fair for the middle class,” says the Kelowna self-employed blog dog.  “At no point does it address any of my concerns. So much for the govt listening to the people. Kind of disheartening. What to do?”

Gary wrote about some issues raised on this badass blog before the last budget – namely what the T2 gang intend to do about all the people who are now creating their own jobs through self-employment. After all, full-time, salaried employment with benefits and pensions is becoming a thing of the past. The typical Millennial’s grand-dad had one job for life and retired with a monthly allowance. The poor kid will probably have eight gigs and never have a safety net.

Anyway, Gary decided to speak out. He wrote this in his first-ever letter to a politician:

My wife and I have owned and operated two businesses in our working lives.  We personally did without things, saved and invested so that we could look after ourselves later in our lives.   We were reasonably successful in that we are now financially independent and can live off of our investments.

We collect dividends, capital gains, interest etc on our investments.  I have never collected a dime of EI benefits.   We have RRSPs and TFSAs.  However we also have non registered investments.   We will pay Capital Gains tax on whatever we cash out at a 50% rate.  This is on top of the income tax we paid on the original income that we saved and invested. How many times and how much tax are we supposed to pay tax on this money?

Now your government wants to raise this tax rate to penalize “the rich” as Mr. Trudeau refers to us.   We are by no means rich.  We have achieved where we are by our own hard work and diligence.

His concerns? That taxes will be increased on capital gains, or people like him who operate through an incorporation because the government thinks entrepreneurs should be treated the same way as politicians – paid by salary. But without the tax-free expense allowance, housing allowance, travel vouchers, free electronics, office staff and budget plus indexed pension, of course. I mean, fair is fair, right? Why should a guy who puts up eavestroughs all day be treated like some kind of tax-advantaged god? Who the hell do these corporate titans think they are?

The response was a two-page excerpt from the last budget with Bill Morneau’s signature at the bottom. And, as you know, the issue faded a little after the T2 gang retreated from their higher-tax agenda in the March budget.

But, sadly, it’s back. So prepare.

This week Bill donned his pointy Robin Hood hat and trusty codpiece and gave a speech in Toronto suggesting the next budget will be way less kind than this year’s. It was the boldest hint yet that the federal government is, in fact, gunning for the self-employed

“We have identified three areas of concern,” he said. And, yes, they are exactly those which this blog whined, moaned and gnashed over some months ago. It’s only a matter of time now before incorporated people will no longer be able to split income with others, keep retained earnings invested within the company at a reasonable rate, or enjoy the existing capital gains tax rate.

Here are his exact words:

“Take this example: if you are an employee living in Ontario and you make $220,000 a year, you would pay roughly $80,000 in income tax. Now, your neighbour owns a private corporation and sprinkles that same amount between themselves, their spouse and their adult child. In many cases, the family is involved in the business and it’s completely legitimate. But in cases where the spouse or child have no role in the business, suddenly your neighbour is paying roughly $30,000 less tax than you do. And we see no good reason why that should be the case.

“The second example is passive investment income. That’s when people hold money inside a corporation, not to grow the business by investing in it, but simply to shield it from the higher personal rate.Again, this sort of arrangement is not available to someone who collects a paycheque every two weeks.

“The third and last example relates to capital gains. Converting a private corporation’s regular income into capital gains can reduce income taxes—again, by taking advantage of the lower tax rates. This is about making sure that the rules – as they were intended – are being followed and that people are paying their fair share.”

Morneau cloaks everything in the syrupy mantra of ‘middle class fairness’ but these are desperate actions from a government mired in deficits and over-spending. In just 48 months of governing, the feds will spend about $130 billion more than they collect – so taxes are going up. And not just for the wealthy, who already hand over 50% of their income when they hit $220,000.

Many doctors and medical professionals, for example, earn money through corporations which means they have no pensions, no benefits and start their careers at a later age, with huge student loans. Income-splitting with a spouse allows for some relief, and also means docs cost the system $250,000 a year instead of $500,000. (They can always go south…)

Anyway, what this blog vexed about last winter is about to become reality. Ottawa will first release a discussion paper outlining its reasons for attacking incorporations, and then will move to do so. There will be no compensation allowed for non-employees; retained earnings will be taxed at the beneficial owner’s personal tax (or perhaps the top marginal rate) and you can kiss the 50% capital gains inclusion rate adios.

How do you like fairness so far?

ScreenAnarchy: Blu-ray Review: DHEEPAN is Given the Royal Treatment by Criterion

This week The Criterion Collection released Jacques Audiard's Palme d'Or winning drama, Dheepan, and it's a film everyone needs to see. Dheepan, a Sri Lankan refugee and former Tamil Tiger, is on the run for his lafe after the Sinhalese government in his homeland attempts to wipe out the rebel forces following the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009. In order to find a home away from the violence, he takes a Sri Lankan woman and orphan child and cobbles together a makeshift family for appearances sake. The trio end up in France, where they soon discover that even though they've left the battlefield at home, they've landed in a new warzone. The film tells the story of one immigrant family's experience...

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Open Culture: How Finland Created One of the Best Educational Systems in the World (by Doing the Opposite of U.S.)

Every conversation about education in the U.S. takes place in a minefield. Unless you’re a billionaire who bought the job of Secretary of Education, you’d better be prepared to answer questions about racial and economic equity, disability issues, protections for LGBTQ students, teacher pay and unions, religious charter schools, and many other pressing concerns. These issues are not mutually exclusive, nor are they distinct from questions of curriculum, testing, or achievement. The terrain is littered with possible explosive conflicts between educators, parents, administrators, legislators, activists, and profiteers.

The needs of the most deeply invested stakeholders, as they say, the students themselves, seem to get far too little consideration. What if we in the U.S., all of us, actually wanted to improve the educational experiences and academic outcomes for our children—all of them? Where might we look for a model? Many people have looked to Finland, at least since 2010, when the documentary Waiting for Superman contrasted struggling U.S. public schools with highly successful Finnish equivalents.

The film, a positive spin on the charter school movement, received significant backlash for its cherry-picked examples and blaming of teachers’ unions for America’s failing schools. By contrast, Finland’s schools have been described by William Doyle, an American Fulbright Scholar who studies them, as “the ‘ultimate charter school network'” (a phrase, we’ll see, that means little in the Finnish context.) There, Doyle writes at The Hechinger Report, “teachers are not strait-jacketed by bureaucrats, scripts or excessive regulations, but have the freedom to innovate and experiment as teams of trusted professionals.”

Last year, Michael Moore featured many of Finland’s innovative educational experiments in his humorous, hopeful travelogue Where to Invade Next. In the clip above, you can hear from the country’s Minister of Education, Krista Kiuru, who explains to him why Finnish children do not have homework; hear also from a group of high school students, high school principal Pasi Majassari, first grade teacher Anna Hart and many others. Shorter school hours—the “shortest school days and shortest school years in the entire Western world”—leave plenty of time for leisure and recreation. Kids bake, hike, build things, make art, conduct experiments, sing, and generally enjoy themselves.

“There are no mandated standardized tests,” writes LynNell Hancock at Smithsonian, “apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school… there are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions.” Yet Finnish students have, in the past several years, consistently ranked in the top ten among millions of students worldwide in science, reading, and math. “If there was one thing I kept hearing over and over again from the Finns,” says Moore above, “it’s that America should get rid of standardized tests,” should stop teaching to those tests, stop designing entire curricula around multiple-choice tests. Hancock describes the results of the Finnish system, and its costs:

Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States.

Moore’s camera registers the shock on Finnish educators’ faces when they hear that many U.S. schools eliminated music, art, poetry and other pursuits in order to focus almost exclusively on testing. Though lighthearted in tone, the segment really drives home the depressing degree to which so many U.S. students receive an impoverished education—one barely worthy of the name—unless they luck into a voucher for a high-end charter school or have the independent means for an expensive private one. In Finland, says the Minister of Education, “all the schools are equal. You never ask where the best school is.”

It’s also illegal in Finland to profit from schooling. Wealthy parents have to ensure that neighborhood schools can give their kids the best education possible, because they are the only option. Many people in the U.S. object to comparisons like Moore’s by noting that societies like Finland are “homogenous” next to what may seem to them like maddening cultural diversity in the U.S. However, Finland has incorporated (not without difficulty) large immigrant and refugee populations—even as its schools continue to improve. The government has responded in part to rising immigration with educational solutions such as this one, a “national initiative to reinforce Finnish higher education institutions (HEIs) as significant stakeholders in migrants’ integration.”

The subtantive differences between the two countries’ educational systems may have less to do with demography and more to do with economics and the training and social status of teachers.

In Finland, writes Doyle, no teacher “is allowed to lead a primary school class without a master’s degree in education, with specialization in research and classroom practice.” Teaching “is the most admired job in Finland next to medical doctors.” And as Dana Goldstein points out at The Nation—a fact Waiting for Superman failed to mention—Finnish teachers are “gasp!—unionized and granted tenure.” Perhaps an even more significant difference the documentary glossed over: in Finland, “families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and healthcare, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results at school.”

Hundreds of studies in recent years substantiate this claim. It would seem intuitive that stresses associated with hunger and poverty would have a pernicious effect on learning, especially when poorer schools are so egregiously under-resourced. And the data says as much, to varying degrees. And yet, we are now in the U.S. slashing breakfast and lunch programs that feed hungry children and deciding whether to uninsure millions of families as millions more still lack basic health coverage. Most every American parent knows that quality daycares and preschools can cost as much per year as a decent university education in this country.

It seems to many of us that the atrocious state of the U.S. educational system can only be attributed to an act of will on the part our political elite, who see schools as competition for fundamentalist belief systems, opportunities to punish their opponents out of spite, or as rich fields for private profit. But it needn’t be so. It took 40 years for the Finns to create their current system. In the 1960s, their schools ranked on the very low end—along with those in the U.S. By most accounts, they’ve since shown there can be systems that, while surely imperfect in their own way, work for all kids, embedded within larger systems that prize their teachers and families.

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

How Finland Created One of the Best Educational Systems in the World (by Doing the Opposite of U.S.) 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.

Perlsphere: The Perl Conference 2017 (formerly known as YAPC::NA) is rapidly approaching, and we believe it will be great.

The Perl Conference, 2017 will be held this year in Washington DC, at the US Patent and Trademark Office, from June 18 through June 23rd. This is the conference that many of us have affectionately known as YAPC::NA::17.

If you haven't registered yet, please do so as soon as possible. We want to make sure we're providing the best possible experience for our participants, and to that end, accurate registration counts are helpful, plus there is still time to get the early-bird rate.

The conference website is:

We have talks scheduled from many of the best speakers known to the Perl community; Damian Conway, Sawyer X, Randal Schwartz, Mark Jason Dominus, Ricardo Signes, and so many other strong speakers that I feel silly having mentioned the few that I did.

For those seeking additional enlightenment there are tutorials and master classes offered (by additional registration) on topics such as:

  • Perl in a Day (John Anderson)
  • Introduction to Moose (Dave Rolsky)
  • Perl Second Best Practices (Randal Schwartz)
  • Unicode and Associated Punishments (Ricardo Signes)

The conference is being held in the amazing US Patent and Trademark Office, and will feature an event in the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum.

Early registration cost is $250, and late registration (Main event T-minus 14 days) will be $350, so there is still time to get your ticket, but you'll want to act sooner than later.

From the Perl Foundation Conferences Committee I would like to thank all of the organizers who have been working for many months on this, and who are currently neck deep in work tying up loose ends and caring for the many details. It will be a great conference because of everyone in the Perl community who attends and participates, but it couldn't be a great conference without those organizers who have devoted so much of their time and energy laying the foundation for the rest of us to build upon.

I am excited and can't wait to see everyone there.

Daniel Lemire's blog: Science and Technology links (May 26th, 2017)

Linux, the operating system driving cloud computing and the web, was developed using an open source model. For a time, Linux was seen as a direct competitor to Microsoft, but things have changed and Microsoft is happy to see Linux as just a piece of technology. Because of how large and complicated the software got, the Linux project manager, Linus Torvalds, ended up writing its own source control tool, Git. It quickly became a standard. Today, Windows is built on Git. This shows the power of open source. “Open source” is a concept just as powerful and important for our civilization as “the scientific method”. Though both science and open source can wipe out business models, they are also engines of innovation making us all richer. Microsoft does not use Linux and Git because it gave up on having viable competitors, but rather because it understands that fighting open source is about as useful as fighting the scientific method. (As an aside, modern implementations of Git are accelerated with compressed bitmaps called EWAH, something I personally worked on.)

Organic food is better for you, right? Galgano et al. (2016) find no evidence of such benefits:

The organic food market is growing in response to an ever increasing demand for organic products. They are often
considered more nutritious, healthier, and free from pesticides than conventional foods. However, the results of scientific studies do not show that organic products are more nutritious and safer than conventional foods.

Ok but organic food is better for the environment, right? Maybe not because organic farming requires more land and more animals:

Furthermore, higher on-farm acidification potential and global warming potential per kilogram organic milk implies that higher ammonia, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions occur on farm per kilogram organic milk than for conventional milk. Total acidification potential and global warming potential per kilogram milk did not differ between the selected conventional and organic farms.

A company called Warby Parker has a mobile app you can use to sidestep entirely optometrists and opticians in some cases. The main point seem to be that a lot of what opticians do can be computerized easily and that it is not hard to check your prescription.

Omega-3 fats rejuvenate the muscles of old people:

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce mitochondrial oxidant emissions, increase postabsorptive muscle protein synthesis, and enhance anabolic responses to exercise in older adults.

You have heard that teenage acne was unrelated to diet, right? Not so fast:

We found a positive association between intake of skim milk and acne. This finding suggests that skim milk contains hormonal constituents, or factors that influence endogenous hormones, in sufficient quantities to have biological effects in consumers.

The epidemic incidence of adolescent acne in Western milk-consuming societies can be explained by the increased insulin- and IGF-1-stimulation of sebaceous glands mediated by milk consumption.

We found a positive association with acne for intake of total milk and skim milk. We hypothesize that the association with milk may be because of the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in milk.

Keytruda is the first cancer drug that targets a genetic dysfunction rather than specific cancer type. This type of drug might open the door to cheap and effective genetic cancer therapies. Note that Keytruda is actually approved for use in the US, so this is not purely speculative.

Volvo makes self-driving garbage-collecting trucks. A report from Goldman Sachs suggests that self-driving cars could destroy 25,000 jobs per month in the US. That sounds like a lot, but I don’t think it is anything dramatic, if true. See also the Sector Disruption Report (May 2017) by James Arbib and Tony Seba that sees the effect of self-driving car as enormous:

This will keep an additional $1 trillion per year in Americans’ pockets by 2030, potentially generating the largest infusion of consumer spending in history

Arthritis is a terrible disease where some people end up living in near constant pain. Yet it could be prevented with good diet and exercise, according to an article in Nature.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, wants us to build permanent settlements on the Moon. This is the same man who wants to deliver us goods using drones, and help cure aging through the clearance of senescent cells.

Scientists have linked 52 genes to intelligence. Let me caution you: no we cannot build super smart babies by manipulating genes. Not yet at least.

Open Culture: Timelapse Animation Lets You See the Rise of Cities Across the Globe, from 3700 BC to 2000 AD

Last year, a Yale-led research project produced an innovative dataset that mapped the history of urban settlements. Covering a 6,000 year period, the project traced the location and size of cities across the world, starting in 3700 BC (when the first known urban dwellings emerged in Sumer) and continuing through 2000 AD. According to Yale’s Meredith Reba, if we understand “how cities have grown and changed over time, throughout history, it might tell us something useful about how they are changing today,” and particularly whether we can find ways to make modern cities sustainable.

The Yale dataset was originally published in Scientific Data in 2016. And before too long, some enterprising YouTuber brought the data to life. Above, the history of urban life unfolds before your eyes. The action starts off slow, but then later kicks into high gear.

You can read more about the mapping of urban settlements at this Yale website.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Timelapse Animation Lets You See the Rise of Cities Across the Globe, from 3700 BC to 2000 AD 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: Screen Anarchists On ALIEN: COVENANT

("And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" The Second Coming, 1919 - W. B. Yeats) Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant has arrived in cinemas, and a strange film it is indeed. Like with Prometheus five years (already!) ago, people all over the Internet are pointing out flaws, or bending over backwards to try and explain them. Just the question of whether it is a sequel, a prequel, or an equal is enough to ponder over endlessly with friends. Is it a good film though? The answers to that question are impressively diverse, ranging from all-out hate to people who say it's brilliant. Some say Scott has redeemed himself for Prometheus, others say he's letting that film...

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OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: I... it... ugh...

The COMPLETE Our Valued Customers is available NOW on comiXology! 

Colossal: The Sculpted Wire Figures of Roberto Fanari

Working with varying weights of iron wire, Italian artist Roberto Fanari constructs life-size figurative sculptures of both people and animals, applying the material like the strokes of a pencil to vary the density throughout each work. Some figures are almost wholly transparent, allowing for only a handful of lines to define the volume of a leg or torso while shifting to a more solid approach for the area around an eye or a thick tuft of hair, giving each each piece an almost ghostly, unfinished appearance. Fanari debuted a number of his wiry pieces at White Noise Gallery for a 2016 exhibition titled “Ferro,” (Iron) and you can see more of his work here.

Penny Arcade: Comic: Finale

New Comic: Finale

ScreenAnarchy: INTERVIEW: Creative Team Shines Light on Mental Health with New Web Series “Katie & Shaun”

  Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Considering millions of people around the world suffer from mental illness or disorders, it’s a topic that touches all of us in one way or another. To shed light on this subject, British husband-and-wife creators Matt Thomas and Susan Allen have launched their new dramatic web series “Katie & Shaun.” The six-minute episodes follow two people looking for connection while dealing with the realities of living with anxiety and depression. With the series premiering today, Susan Allen found some time for an interview:   Explain the premise behind “Katie & Shaun.” Katie & Shaun chronicles two people looking for connection while dealing with the realities of living with anxiety and depression. The story follows Katie (Meghan...

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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Dark Magic

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Don't ask about the lady who agreed to be sawed in half.

New comic!
Today's News:

Open Culture: The Story of Habitat, the Very First Large-Scale Online Role-Playing Game (1986)

Long before World of Warcraft, before Everquest and Second Life, and even before Ultima Online, computer-gamers of the 1980s looking for an online world to explore with others of their kind could fire up their Commodore 64s, switch on their dial-up modems, and log into Habitat. Brought out for the Commodore online service Quantum Link by Lucasfilm Games (later known as the developer of such classic point-and-click adventure games as Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, now known as Lucasarts), Habitat debuted as the very first large-scale graphical virtual community, blazing a trail for all the massively multiplayer online role-playing games (or MMORPGs) so many of us spend so much of our time playing today.

Designed, in the words of creators Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer, to “support a population of thousands of users in a single shared cyberspace,” Habitat presented “a real-time animated view into an online simulated world in which users can communicate, play games, go on adventures, fall in love, get married, get divorced, start businesses, found religions, wage wars, protest against them, and experiment with self-government.” All that happened and more within the service’s virtual reality during its pilot run from 1986 to 1988. The features both cautiously and recklessly implemented by Habitat‘s developers, and the feedback they received from its users, laid down the template for all the more advanced graphical online worlds to come.

At the top of the post, you can watch Lucasfilm’s original Habitat promotional video promise a “strange new world where names can change as quickly as events, surprises lurk at every turn, and the keynotes of existence are fantasy and fun,” one where “thousands of avatars, each controlled by a different human, can converge to shape an imaginary society.” (All performed, the narrator notes, “with the cooperation of a huge mainframe computer in Virginia.”) The form this society eventually took impressed Habitat‘s creators as much as anyone, as Farmer writes in his Habitat Anecdotes” from 1988, an examination of the most memorable happenings and phenomena among its users.

Farmer found he could group those users into five now-familiar categories: the Passives (who “want to ‘be entertained’ with no effort, like watching TV”), the Active (whose “biggest problem is overspending”), the Motivators (the most valuable users, for they “understand that Habitat is what they make of it”), the Caretakers (employees who “help the new users, control personal conflicts, record bugs” and so on), and the Geek Gods (the virtual world’s all-powerful administrators). Sometimes everyone got along smoothly, and sometimes — inevitably, given that everyone had to define the properties of this brand new medium even as they experienced it — they didn’t.

“At first, during early testing, we found out that people were taking stuff out of others’ hands and shooting people in their own homes,” Farmer writes. Later, a Greek Orthodox Minister opened Habitat‘s first church, but “I had to eventually put a lock on the Church’s front door because every time he decorated (with flowers), someone would steal and pawn them while he was not logged in!” This citizen-governed virtual society eventually elected a sheriff from among its users, though the designers could never quite decide what powers to grant him. Other surprisingly “real world” institutions developed, including a newspaper whose user-publisher “tirelessly spent 20-40 hours a week composing a 20, 30, 40 or even 50 page tabloid containing the latest news, events, rumors, and even fictional articles.”

Though developing this then-advanced software for “the ludicrous Commodore 64” posed a serious technical challenge, write Farmer and Morningstar in their 1990 paper “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat,” the real work began when the users logged on. All the avatars needed houses, “organized into towns and cities with associated traffic arteries and shopping and recreational areas” with “wilderness areas between the towns so that everyone would not be jammed together into the same place.” Most of all, they needed interesting places to visit, “and since they can’t all be in the same place at the same time, they needed a lot of interesting places to visit. [ … ] Each of those houses, towns, roads, shops, forests, theaters, arenas, and other places is a distinct entity that someone needs to design and create. Attempting to play the role of omniscient central planners, we were swamped.”

All this, the creators discovered, required them to stop thinking like the engineers and game designers they were, giving up all hope of rigorous central planning and world-building in favor of figuring out the tricker problem of how, “like the cruise director on an ocean voyage,” to make Habitat fun for everyone. Farmer faces that question again today, having launched the open-source NeoHabitat project earlier this year with the aim of reviving the Habitat world for the 21st century. As much progress as graphical multiplayer online games have made in the past thirty years, the conclusion Farmer and Morningstar reached after their experience creating the first one holds as true as ever: “Cyberspace may indeed change humanity, but only if it begins with humanity as it really is.”

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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.

The Story of Habitat, the Very First Large-Scale Online Role-Playing Game (1986) 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.

Perlsphere: Perl::Critic releases its first new developer release in 21 months

I’ve just released a new developer release of Perl::Critic, the static code analysis tool for Perl, as we work toward its first new release in 21 months. This version of Perl::Critic fixes a few bugs and relies on a new release of the underlying Perl parsing library PPI, which also has had its first new […]

CreativeApplications.Net: Microbial Design Studio – Machine to design, culture, and test genetically modified organisms

Created by Mike Hogan, Karen Hogan and Orkan Telhan, 'Microbial Design Studio' is a countertop biofabrication machine that brings together the capabilities of a biology wetlab into a single inexpensive piece of hardware to design, culture, and test genetically modified organisms.

Open Culture: Watch a Mesmerizing Hourglass Filled with 1,250,000 “Nanoballs” (Created by the Designer of the Apple Watch)

Apple Watch designer Marc Newson has created an hourglass that stands about 6 inches tall, measures 5 inches wide, and features 1,249,996 tiny spheres called “nanoballs,” each made of stainless steel and covered with a fine copper coating. It takes 10 minutes for the nanoballs to pour through the glass, from first to last. The action looks pretty mesmerizing, to say the least.

You can pick up your very own hand-made hourglass for $12,000. But if your pockets don’t run quite that deep, you can settle for watching the time piece in the video above. Get more information on the Newson hourglass here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you’d like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

via The Verge

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Watch a Mesmerizing Hourglass Filled with 1,250,000 “Nanoballs” (Created by the Designer of the Apple Watch) 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.

Planet Haskell: José Pedro Magalhães: Four openings for Haskell developers at Standard Chartered

I'm happy to announce that the Strats team at Standard Chartered is still hiring! We currently have openings for four roles. These will typically involve direct contact with traders to automate processes, often in rapid delivery style.

The growing Strats team now consists of about 40 developers in either Singapore or London, working exclusively in Haskell. Dozens of people from other teams are also writing Haskell code, so this is a chance to join what's probably the largest Haskell dev team in the world, and work on the largest Haskell codebase (over 3 million lines of code).

We currently offer only contractor positions (with the possibility of conversion to permanent in the future) with very competitive compensation. We require demonstrated experience in typed FP (Haskell, OCaml, F# etc); no financial background is required. We also require physical presence in either Singapore or London. Flexible work arrangements are possible, but relocation to the UK or Singapore is necessary.

If this sounds exciting to you, please email your CV and a short motivation text to Feel free to also ask any questions you might have.

Stok Footage: Celebrating the Small Things

I believe that the social and environmental atmosphere are huge contributions to both my experience of work and the quality of that work. This post was inspired by my pairing partner’s habit of recognising small successes and celebrating them.

I recently started working Planswell, a young company. I had already worked with a couple of the Planswell team in a former job, and that eased the transition for me. The company’s doing something I believe meets regular folks’ need to be happy about their money, which gives me a sense of purpose in my work. We moved from a shared workspace to our own offices shortly after I joined, and there is a dedicated space for the development team. One of the tools we’re using is elixir, a language I have been interested in for some time now.

After many years of “nominal” pair programming (pairing,) I’m part of a development team where pairing is expected. For me the process of successful pairing is a delight to experience. I’ve had a few successful pairing experiences in the past, for a few weeks at OANDA and a couple of good sessions at Influitive. So far at Planswell it seems has more consistently successful than in other jobs.

The past six weeks have been an interesting contrast to the past few years, and that’s an opportunity to reflect on what I’m doing. This

Pairing and how it helps me

  • more opportunities to reflect on our process
  • easier to have a planned experiment and review with someone else
  • get into good habits
    • celebrate small successes
    • be conscious of problems with existing tools


CreativeApplications.Net: Anti AI AI  – NN wearable for recognising synthetic voice

Created by the R&D team at the creative technology agency DT, Anti AI AI is a wearable  neural network prototype designed to notify the wearer when a synthetic voice is detected in the environment.

BOOOOOOOM!: “Light Barrier” by Artists Kimchi and Chips

An otherworldly audio-visual phenomenon by South Korean artists Kimchi and Chips (aka Mimi Son and Elliot Woods). Constructing an elaborate apparatus out of hundreds of projectors, mirrors and speakers the duo experiment with the materialization of objects from beams of light. Check out more images and video below!

BOOOOOOOM!: ?????????????????????

Every week we share a bunch of hand-picked content that doesn’t go up on Booooooom and it’s just for our Secret Email Club members. You might like it! There’s only one way to find out: SIGN UP HERE. (it’s free)

Electronics-Lab: AS7261 Color sensor from Ams

The AS7261 integrates Gaussian interference filter technology to enable chromatic white color sensor which provides direct XYZ color coordinates consistent with the CIE 1931 2° Standard Observer color coordinates. Additional mapping of XYZ coordinates to the x, y (Y) of the 2-dimensional color gamut and scales of the CIE 1976 u’v’ coordinate system, providing accurate Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) measurements and color point deviation from the black body curve for white light color in the ∆u’v’ coordinate system. A Near-IR channel and LED drivers with programmable currents increase application flexibility, including support for electronic shutter applications.

AS7261 Color sensor from Ams – [Link]

The post AS7261 Color sensor from Ams appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

ScreenAnarchy: SCENECS International Film Festival 2017 kicks off today

The exciting 2017 edition of SCENECS International Film Festival kicks off today. This year's festival will run from May 26 - June 2 and highlights include 14 Years and One Day by Lucia Alemany, Goodbye Darling, I'm off to fight by Simone Manetti, Red by Branko Tomovic, Why Siegfried Teitelbaum had to die by Axel B. Steinmueller, Queen's Life by Luciana Avellar, Sleep by Vladislav Kesin, Manhunt by Brando Bartoleschi and many more... Scenecs is an annual international film festival for new film and documentary makers. The aim is to give future professionals the room needed for further development of their film careers. During the festival film talent, film culture and film production climate is stimulated and supported by the organization This being achieved through educational activities, debates, network activities and the Grand Gala Award Ceremony.  The Scenecs International...

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BOOOOOOOM!: Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara Photographs The Same Locations Repeatedly Over 40 Years

No heat, landlord in front of New St. and Newark St., Newark, 1980

New St. and Newark St., Newark, 2015


Photographer Camilo José Vergara has committed more than four decades of his life to his photographic archive project “Tracking Time”. Year after year he has returned to poor, minority communities around the United States to re-photograph them from the same vantage points. In 2013, Vergara was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama, and was the first photographer ever to receive this honour.

See more images of his incredible project below.

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Miwon Yoon

Lovely work by Korean artist Miwon Yoon. See more images below.

BOOOOOOOM!: “Solo Together” by Artist Paula Crown

Artist Paula Crown creates 150 ceramic replicas of those iconically cheap disposable red cups for her latest sculptural installation, inviting us to consider the complexity of the mundane and the temporality of togetherness. See more images from “Solo Together” below or on display at 10 Hanover gallery in London until June 8.

Open Culture: An Animated History of Tea

Self proclaimed tea geek, Shunan Teng’s knowledge of her chosen subject extends well beyond the proper way to serve and prepare her best-loved beverage.

Her recent TED-Ed lesson on the History of Tea, above, hints at centuries of bloodshed and mercenary trade practices, discreetly masked by Steff Lee’s benign animation.

Addiction, war, and child labor—the last, a grim ongoing reality…. Meditate on that the next time you’re enjoying a nice cup of Darjeeling, or better yet, matcha, a preparation whose Western buzz is starting to approximate that of the Tang dynasty.

Even die-hard coffee loyalists with little patience for the ritualistic niceties of tea culture can indulge in some fascinating trivia, from the invention of the clipper ship to the possible health benefits of eating rather than drinking those green leaves.

Test your TQ post-lesson with TED-Ed’s quiz, or this one from Tea Drunk, Teng’s authentic Manhattan tea house.

Related Content:

George Orwell Explains How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea

10 Golden Rules for Making the Perfect Cup of Tea (1941)

“The Virtues of Coffee” Explained in 1690 Ad: The Cure for Lethargy, Scurvy, Dropsy, Gout & More

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She’ll be appearing onstage in New York City this June as one of the clowns in Paul David Young’s Faust 3. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

An Animated History of Tea 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.

Electronics-Lab: Meet Obsidian, A $99 Plug & Print 3D Printer

Kodama Inc is a new company that delivers a new generation of FDM 3D printers that increase the possibility of affordable 3D printing. Recently, Kodama launched its new 3D printer “Obsidian“, the first 3D printer made for professional applications starting at under $100.

Kodama, Inc. (PRNewsfoto/Kodama, Inc.)

Most additive manufacturing machines in this price range are not aesthetically designed, nor engineered for accurate printing. Many consumers who are eager to upgrade their skills set are unable to because there is no affordable 3D printer that boasts high-quality printing.

“We wanted to create a 3D printer that defies what’s on the market. A sleek design, high-quality printing, and customizable, all starting at under $100,” said Michael Husmann, the ex-Apple employee and founder of Kodama Inc.

Obsidian is designed to deliver 3D printing functionality and features are more commonly found in devices that cost at least $1,000. It also can print in very high accuracy with a layer thicknesses between 50-350 microns. Obsidian’s design provides a stable printing experience, while the customized internal components decreases the need for frequent maintenance and recalibration.

Obsidian’s features include:

  • Printing volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
  • Printing Resolution: 50-micron at a steady 70mm/s speed
  • Plug and Play: Obsidian comes fully assembled, making it easy to get printing started in a few minutes.
  • Smart Display: Obsidian’s UI was tailor-made for Kodama by automobile UX designers to be inviting for beginners while packing all the controls a power user needs.
  • App Control: Obsidian’s Pro’s display runs on Android, allowing a myriad of new features. You’ll be able to remotely monitor and adjust your print settings while recording time lapses and receive prompts when your print is done or if something needs your attention.
  • Wide Filament Compatibility: Obsidian works with most filaments on the market, making it the ideal 3D printer to complete a variety of projects.
  • Heated Bed: Expands printing options by allowing the user to print with ABS, PETG, and other filament types. Only available with Obsidian PRO.
  • Exclusive Obsidian PLA: Obsidian is a naturally formed volcanic crystal. This filament contains real crushed Obsidian powder stones, and is only available through Kodama.
  • Camera: Record time lapses and monitor prints remotely.

Kodama is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign in June 2017, and it will offer limited Early Bird deals at $49 for the basic version of Obsidian.

Last year, Kodama raised over $1.6 million for Trinus, an all-metal 2-in-1 3D printer and laser engraver for under $500. Successfully shipping their breakthrough product to over 3,100 backers in 80 countries helped solidify Kodama, Inc. as an up-and-coming leader in affordable, high-quality 3D printing.

The post Meet Obsidian, A $99 Plug & Print 3D Printer appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

TheSirensSound: New single Vanilla Blue by Alex Bent + the Emptiness

Alex Bent + the Emptiness just released “Vanilla Blue” - his first single/video this year with many more to come leading up to his LP release.

"I decided on the title “Vanilla Blue” several months before I started writing the song. It originally came to me as a description of my appearance, but after running the name by several friends I realized that those two words could be interpreted in many different ways. One friend interpreted the title to mean "a sweet kind of sadness" and it stuck with me. I started working on the song shortly thereafter and wrote it with that meaning in mind."

TheSirensSound: New single Everything Under the Sun by Twin Bandit

The song comes from Twin Bandit's new album 'Full Circle', which will be out this summer on Nettwerk Music Group. Twin Bandit is Hannah Walker and Jamie Elliott. Together they bring you an intimate folk songs, with a sheen of pop brilliance.

"At first listen these two songs may seem to be opposites in sound and message but to us, they belong together. Everything Under the Sun was one of our first experiences with Co-writing. We were excited to be in Nashville for the first time and wanted to write a song that expressed our gratitude. A tune for the highway on a sunny day, feeling your freedom, bright eyed and thankful. To Stay is a song that Jamie wrote. A more personal expression of struggle on days when it's hard to get out of bed. It's a reminder to pull yourself up and keep working for the things you hold dear in life. You've got to take the joy with the struggle, we believe that's what life is on about!" Comic for 2017.05.26

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Does public broadcasting have a future?

A panel discussion on the challenges faced by public broadcaster with James Harding from the BBC; Jennifer McGuire from the CBC and Michael Oreskes from NPR. Simon Houpt moderates the conversation.

Penny Arcade: News Post: Powered By PAX

Tycho: People seem to like what we’re doing with the PAX shows.  We have a lot of very unique experience bottled up here at Penny Arcade, earned over almost twenty years of planning and executing cons, and as our partner ReedPOP founds or finds cool conventions around the globe they’ve asked us to share some of that hard-won knowledge with local teams.  Wherever we can be a help to these shows, we will - and honestly, sometimes that’s going to mean standing back and trusting that team’s local approach.  Check out the launch site for more info about the first…

Tea Masters: The 2017 Chinese Porcelain Exhibition of the Tea Institute at Penn State. Day 1: Qinghua

Here is an account of this year's Exhibition. The subject is rather broad, Chinese porcelain, but it was further broken down into qinghua (blue on white), white Dehua, black glaze and celadon wares. Every day, Teaparker and I would present a different type ware.
Black glazed bowl, celadon vase, Dehua cup and qinghua jar
Before I go further, I should first clarify the concepts of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
Earthenware was invented first and was made of clay found directly in the earth and fired at low temperature (700 to 900 degrees Celsius). Its texture is rather rough and porous. The sound of the body is dull, its surface isn't translucent and it's difficult to clean.
Stoneware came next and uses finer clay that requires crushing, rinsing and kneading. It is fired at 1100 to 1300 degrees Celsius so that it becomes harder as its surface vitrifies. The color of the stoneware isn't white, but can be black or celadon.
Porcelain was invented last, but the first proto-porcelain (grey-white stoneware) already started to appear in the early Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC) and matured during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD). Let's pause a moment to consider the fact that Europe only started to produce its own porcelain in 1710 in Meissen!!
Porcelain requires kaolin clay which contains a high proportion of aluminum oxide and silicon oxide. And it requires a high firing temperature above 1200 degrees Celsius. It is usually glazed so that it gets a beautiful white gloss and won't absorb water or any dirt particles.

Gongxian kiln, Henan province, Tang dynasty
The qinghua porcelain, aka underglaze blue porcelain dates back to the Tang dynasty (618-907). The pigment used to produce this blue color is cobalt. And this cobalt didn't come from China, but from the Abbasid empire (Iran/Irak area). This is evidence of one of the first international cooperation to make a product!

The dish on the left is part of the exhibition 'Secrets of the Sea: a Tang shipwreck' taking place at the Asia Society Museum (NYC) until June 4th. There are very few qinghua wares preserved from the Tang dynasty.

The most famous kilns for qinghua ware are those of Jingdezhen. This town was renamed in 1004 after a Sung emperor who loved its porcelain so much.
When we tested different qinghua cups with tea, it is this old double happiness cup that performed best and was the most fragrant. The reason is that it was made by traditional means with natural clay. Interestingly, the color of the qinghua porcelain isn't exactly white, but 'duck egg' (bluish) white.
Qinghua porcelain reached its high mark during the Chenghua reign (1465-1487) with the making of the chicken cups.
After the theory, the students of the Tea Institute also got to experience how qinghua cups impact the aromas of the tea. Thanks to their experience and training, they were quick to realize that even though porcelain is reputed to be neutral to the taste, there are variations from one cup to another. Differences in clay, glaze and shape explain these variations.
In the evening, after a day of lecture, we would still be brewing tea. This part was more relaxed and even more practical. After performing a Chaxi, I would let the students practice theirs. 
If my memory serves me well, I think we started with this fresh Alishan Jinxuan Oolong and continued with that complex and well structured winter Alishan Zhuo Yan Oolong on the first night.
Our brewer, Patrick, is an alumni of the Tea Institute. Thanks to his experience there, he landed a job at one of the biggest tea chains in the US! So, if most Americans drink better tea in department stores in the near future, it will be thanks to him! (If not, we'll blame his management!)

ScreenAnarchy: MAYHEM: Theatrical Release And Shudder Streaming For Joe Lynch's Office Tower Thriller

RLJ Entertainment and AMC's streaming service Shudder will be releasing Joe Lynch's action thriller Mayhem (read our very positive review here), starring The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun at the end of 2017 and into 2018. As you may read in the press release below RLJ will release the film in cinemas and On Demand later this year. Then, in early 2018, Shudder will stream the film on their service.  RLJ Entertainment and AMC Networks’ Shudder are partnering on the North American release of Joe Lynch’s action/thriller MAYHEM through a deal finalized at the 70th Cannes International Film Festival.  The film first premiered at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival to positive reviews.  Directed by Joe Lynch (Everly) and written by Matias Caruso, the film stars Steven Yeun...

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

Brad and Jill sold their house five weeks ago for $1.895 million in a crappy-but-uppity part of the Big Smoke. In their late forties, this was their third place and not only had they grown disenchanted with old houses (“the deck was rotten… the roof was iffy.. the backyard was a swamp…”) but they had dollar signs in their eyes.

So they found some greater fools to pay them exactly double what they shelled out five years ago, will trash the $420,000 mortgage upon closing and walk with about $1.3 million. The plan is to invest, harvest four grand a month in income and move into a bigger, better place two streets away. “Just signed a three-year lease,” he says. “It’s perfect. I can’t believe we’ll be living for free.”

Not so much for the buyers. They’re Millennials, Jill says, shaking her head a little, who made a big withdrawal at the Bank of Mom and are taking on a mama of a mortgage. The deal is set for late June, and now B&J have only one thing keeping them up at night: “Will they close?”

Exiting a deal isn’t simple. Yes, you will lose your deposit – that’s a given. Unless the seller agrees to sign a mutual release letting you out of the deal (fat chance) also expect to be sued for breach of contract. The amount of damages claimed usually depends on what price the sellers are ultimately able to get for the property. If they sell for less, the original buyer will be expected by the courts to make up the difference, plus cover actual costs the sellers incurred in re-listing. If the sellers had already purchased another home, for example, and have to get out of that deal, the damages could be Trumpian.

Also there’ll be legal costs. Lots of them. Litigators ain’t cheap, so both parties will have to fork over five or ten grand just to get their claims and defenses rolling. The odds of a negotiated settlement, instead of a full-blown court case, are high since burning through judge time is even more expensive.

In this market anyone who bought in February, March or early April and decides to walk may end up severely pooched. Realtor-provided price stats haven’t moved a whole lot yet, but actual real estate values are tumbling. Look at this little report from blog dog Steve:

“Just thought I would share with you a couple of images as evidence that the housing market may be finally correcting itself. The first image is of a house in the Weston neighbourhood, which I took on April 20, when it was listed at nearly $1mil. Today, that same house is still available over a month later for $300K less, with an asking price of $699K. As a renter, I sure hope house prices continue to plummet across the GTA.”

Given that listings continue to flood in and buyers have lost their house lust, prices are destined to fall. The increases in late winter were so off-the-chart we could see a 20% decline within a few months, and still have an affordability crisis. Recall the charts published here yesterday. This is a classic bubble, the result of excessive speculation and human emotion detached from economic fundamentals. Worse, it’s a debt-fueled keg of risk. Of course it will end, as every asset bubble before it has. And there’s never a soft landing.

So, buyers who walk can look forward to a protracted process since jilted sellers may require months to find a new buyer. Guaranteed, it will be for less. So the damages could be substantial, with no place to hide other than personal bankruptcy or moving back in with mom on the Isle of Man and herding goats.

The question is simple: is losing your deposit, paying tens of thousands in legal costs, going through marriage-busting stress and facing a settlement for damages that could amount to hundreds of thousands – then ending up with no asset to show for it – better than actually closing? Maybe not. If this was a piece of property you’d planned on living in for a decade or more, running away could be folly since the needed correction won’t last forever, plus you get a house. On the other hand, if you’re a speculator everyone thinks you should fry.

Well, the next few weeks and months will test many people whose unshakeable belief was that real estate is safe, and ascendant. Surprise.

Colossal: Animator Sasha Katz Explores a Symbiotic Relationship Between Plants and Technology

There’s perhaps no two objects more different than a brand new laptop built in a sterile factory and a healthy living plant that’s evolved over millions of years, but for animator Sasha Katz the relationship between computers and plants is a bit more gray. As part of her ongoing GIF series that sees plant specimens sprouting from the glassy screens of iPhones or the keys of keyboards, Katz instead imagines a convergence, where computers can one day interface directly with organic life and perhaps the two become one. She also draws influence from pop art and the minimalism of 8-bit graphics, giving some of her pieces a nostalgic retro video game feel. You see many more of her GIFs on Instagram and GIPHY. (via Colossal Submissions)

Colossal: Art Therapy: Fictional Self-Help Book Titles Painted by Johan Deckmann

Copenhagen-based artist Johan Deckmann examines the complications of life through clever titles painted on the covers of fictional self-help books that appear to tackle life’s biggest questions, fears, and absurdities. A practicing psychotherapist himself, Deckmann thoroughly recognizes the power of language in therapy and possesses a keen ability to translate his discoveries into witty phrases. “I like the idea of distilling words to compress information, feelings or fantasies into an essence, a truth,” he shares. “The right words can be like good medicine.”

Deckmann often takes his pieces beyond simple language and into the realm of visual puns, such as an LP cover titled “The very best of the voices inside my head” or the juxtaposition of smaller and larger suitcases labeled “Baggage” and “Emotional Baggage.” All of the pieces have the faded color and worn texture of 1970s era self-help guides that were popular at the time.

Deckmann’s books have been exhibited around the world since he began the series in 2015, including a solo show last March at Andenken Gallery in Amsterdam. You can follow more of his recent work on Facebook, and on his website.

Disquiet: Disquiet Junto Project 0282: Berio’s Bach

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, May 29, 2017. This project was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0282: Berio’s Bach
Make a piece of music based on one composer’s observation regarding another composer.

Step 1: The composer Luciano Berio once said that part of the attraction of some of Bach’s music is in its clear distinction between which notes are “structurally significant” and which are “decorative.” Consider this observation.

Step 2: Compose a short piece of music that opens and closes with there being a clear sense of which parts are “structurally significant” and which are “decorative,” but that in the middle gets ambiguous in this regard.

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 “disquiet0282” (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, May 29, 2017. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 22, 2017.

Length: The length is entirely up to the participant.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0282” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

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

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

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

More on this 282nd weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Berio’s Bach: Make a piece of music based on one composer’s observation regarding another composer” — 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.

Quiet Earth: HELL OR HIGH WATER Scribe Returns with WIND RIVER [Trailer]

Actor-turned-writer Taylor Sheridan made a big splash with the one-two punch of writing both Sicario and Hell or High Water which is, arguably, one of the best heist movies in a few years.

Now Sheridan is flexing his directing muscle but moving pretty far from the rather terrible horror movie he made nearly a decade ago and staying more in line with his recent fascination with crime thrillers: Wind River.

The Sundance and Cannes selected title is written and directed by Sheridan and stars Jeremy Renner as a game tracker who finds the body of a teenage girl on a Native Reservation in the far north. Elizabeth Olsen plays Jane Banner, an FBI agent sent in to investigate the homicide which appears to affect everyone in town. The movie also co-stars Graham Greene [Continued ...]

Perlsphere: Investigating a JavaScript/React Performance Issue

I noticed a performance issue with a piece of work a colleague committed the other day. It’s a React component to display a table of data. When scrolling, once the header of the table hits the top of the viewport, the header becomes fixed in place, so it doesn’t scroll off the top of the page. When the table contained a lot of data, switching from fixed to not fixed, or vice versa, caused noticeable lag.

The implementation attached “scroll” and “resize” event listeners to the window on componentDidMount, and removed them on componentWillUnmount. It looked something like this:

class MyFancyComponent extends Component {

  constructor() {
    this.headerChecks = this.headerChecks.bind(this);
    this.state = {
      fixed: this.shouldBeFixed(),

  componentDidMount() {
    window.addEventListener('scroll', this.headerChecks);
    window.addEventListener('resize', this.headerChecks);

  componentWillUnmount() {
    window.removeEventListener('scroll', this.headerChecks);
    window.removeEventListener('resize', this.headerChecks);

  render() {
    return (
        <TableHeader fixed = { this.state.fixed }/>

  headerChecks() {
    this.setState({ fixed: this.shouldBeFixed() });

  shouldBeFixed() {
    // Does some calculations and then returns a boolean


My first suggestion, without really investigating the code, was to make the event handlers passive. It turns out this was completely ineffective as it doesn’t work for scroll/resize events, but it’s still worth knowing about regardless. If you pass a third option to addEventListener/removeEventListener as an Object with “passive” set to “true”, then you’re telling the browser that you will definitely not be calling “preventDefault” on the event. That means that the browser doesn’t need to wait for your handler to finish before completing the action. This is useful for touch events, particularly on mobile, because you often want scrolling via touch to occur immediately, rather than after your handler has run:

element.addEventListener('touchstart',    fn, { passive: true });
element.removeEventListener('touchstart', fn, { passive: true });

My second suggestion, was to just use requestAnimationFrame to smooth out the scroll handler so it doesn’t run more frequently than the page is painted:

componentDidMount() {
  window.addEventListener('scroll', this.smoothHeaderChecks);
componentWillUnmount() {
  window.removeEventListener('scroll', this.smoothHeaderChecks);
smoothHeaderChecks() {
  this.animationFrame = requestAnimationFrame(this.headerChecks);

This didn’t fix the problem either. It probably helped performance a little, but the main bottleneck was still there. This also introduced a short delay between the header hitting the top of the viewport and it becoming fixed, meaning it jumped a bit when the threshold was passed. Nontheless, it is a useful technique to have in your box of tricks: There is no point rendering a component more frequently than the rate at which the page is painted.

After looking at the code a little, I noticed that setState was being called every time the event handler was being run. This is a bad idea. If you call “setState”, the entire component, including children, will be re-rendered (unless you prevent that with the shouldComponentDidUpdate life cycle method). You only want to call “setState” when the state actually needs changing:

headerchecks() {
  const fixed = this.shouldBeFixed();
  if (fixed !== this.state.fixed) this.setState({ fixed });

Now the table would only be re-rendered when the fixed state actually changed, rather than every time we scrolled slightly: potentially many times a second.

This helped. But there was still a moment of lag when switching between fixed and not fixed, or vice versa, when the table contained a lot of data. Then it occurred to me: Why are we re-rendering the entire table, instead of just the header? The ultimate fix is to just move the whole process, including state and the event listeners, inside of the “TableHeader” component, so it is only that component which is re-rendered when the fixed status changes. Alternatively, we could introduce a wrapper component around the TableHeader component which performs that task. The “shouldBeFixed” function did actually require some information about the Table it’s self in order to make it’s decision, but that information could just be passed down as props to the TableHeader component. Although he’s not done the relevant refactoring yet, I am pretty confident this will fix the problem.

After doing some more investigation, I came across an API I’d never heared of before called IntersectionObserver. What this API allows us to do is detect when an element intersects with the viewport, or another element. This is probably a much better API to use than listening for resize/scroll events, as it will only trigger our handler when the threshold is actually met, rather than whenever we scroll or resize.

“IntersectionObserver” is still a draft at the moment, but it is supported by Chrome, Edge, Opera and Android, is in development for Firefox, and there exists a polyfill for other browsers too:

componentDidMount() {
  this.headerObserver = new IntersectionObserver(this.headerChecks);
componentWillUnmount() {
render() {
  return (
      <div ref = { el => (this.headerEl = el) }>
        <TableHeader fixed = { this.state.fixed }/>

Mastering Javascript Learning React

Quiet Earth: Cannes 2017: THE BEGUILED and TWIN PEAKS [Quick Takes]

Editor's Note: "Quick Takes," as the name suggest, are initial impressions on movies from our man-on-the-ground at Cannes.

The Beguiled, dir. Sophia Coppola

I have trouble with this one, not that I didn't enjoy it but there is something lacking.

Everything works as intended and there isn't a dull moment, the dialogue is witty with more sexual innuendo per second than in a congress of nuns.

Sophia Coppola made exploring the yearnings of the teenage flesh her trademark. The theme is still relevant adding a pair of spinsters to the mix.

And yet, there, mere hours after the screening I can't for the life of me recall anything standing out or worth analysis. That is not a good sign, I'm still haunted by Loveless which I saw a week [Continued ...]

Lambda the Ultimate - Programming Languages Weblog: Imperative Functional Programs that Explain their Work

Imperative Functional Programs that Explain their Work
Wilmer Ricciotti, Jan Stolarek, Roly Perera, James Cheney
submitted on arXiv on 22 May 2017

Program slicing provides explanations that illustrate how program outputs were produced from inputs. We build on an approach introduced in prior work by Perera et al., where dynamic slicing was defined for pure higher-order functional programs as a Galois connection between lattices of partial inputs and partial outputs. We extend this approach to imperative functional programs that combine higher-order programming with references and exceptions. We present proofs of correctness and optimality of our approach and a proof-of-concept implementation and experimental evaluation.

Dynamic slicing answers the following question: if I only care about these specific part of the trace of my program execution, what are the only parts of the source program that I need to look at? For example, if the output of the program is a pair, can you show me that parts of the source that impacted the computation of the first component? If a part of the code is not involved in the trace, or not in the part of the trace that you care about, it is removed from the partial code returned by slicing.

What I like about this work is that there is a very nice algebraic characterization of what slicing is (the Galois connection), that guides you in how you implement your slicing algorithm, and also serves as a specification to convince yourself that it is correct -- and "optimal", it actually removes all the program parts that are irrelevant. This characterization already existed in previous work (Functional Programs that Explain Their Work, Roly Perera, Umut Acar, James cheney, Paul Blain Levy, 2012), but it was done in a purely functional setting. It wasn't clear (to me) whether the nice formulation was restricted to this nice language, or whether the technique itself would scale to a less structured language. This paper extends it to effectful ML (mutable references and exceptions), and there it is much easier to see that it remains elegant and yet can scale to typical effectful programming languages.

The key to the algebraic characterization is to recognize two order structures, one on source program fragment, and the other on traces. Program fragments are programs with hole, and a fragment is smaller than another if it has more holes. You can think of the hole as "I don't know -- or I don't care -- what the program does in this part", so the order is "being more or less defined". Traces are also partial traces with holes, where the holes means "I don't know -- or I don't care -- what happens in this part of the trace". The double "don't know" and "don't care" nature of the ordering is essential: the Galois connection specifies a slicer (that goes from the part of a trace you care about to the parts of a program you should care about) by relating it to an evaluator (that goes from the part of the program you know about to the parts of the trace you can know about). This specification is simple because we are all familiar with what evaluators are.

CreativeApplications.Net: Touch Board Starter Kit by Bare Conductive

Make, hack, design, and code with the easiest-to-use Arduino device on the market, the Touch Board by UK based Bare Conductive is now available in the CAN shop.

Quiet Earth: Cannes 2017: Joe Lynch's MAYHEM Goes to SHUDDER!

Joe Lynch’s action/thriller MAYHEM will distribute through AMC Networks’ Shudder streaming service in a deal finalized at the 70th Cannes International Film Festival. The film first premiered at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival to positive reviews.

Directed by Joe Lynch (Everly) and written by Matias Caruso, the film stars Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead), Samara Weaving (Monster Trucks), Steven Brand (The Scorpion King) and Dallas Roberts (Dallas Buyers Club).

RLJE plans to release MAYHEM in theaters and On Demand in Q4 2017, with the Shudder streaming premiere slated for early 2 [Continued ...]

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Final Wishes

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'When Weinersmith died, among his papers were found many takeout menus and a failed novelization of the Voltron cartoon series.'

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Michael Geist: Can Cancon Compete?: A Response to the WGC on The Future of Canadian TV Production

My post this week on the recent CRTC’s television licensing decision elicited a strongly worded response yesterday from the Writers Guild of Canada. My original post made two key points. First, responding to Kate Taylor’s assertion that CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais has offered no consistent strategy to the challenges facing the Canadian television production industry, I noted that over the course of the past five years, Blais has charted a very clear path toward making Canadian policy and regulation relevant in the digital age by promoting a competitive marketplace for Canadian creators, consumers, broadcasters, and broadcast distributors.

Second, I defended the recent CRTC decision on several grounds, including the need to address the gap between regulated and unregulated services (such as Netflix), the already-significant public support for Canadian content creation, the incentives for Canadian broadcasters to invest in original content, and the fact that Canadian broadcasters contribute a very small slice of the overall financing of domestic fictional programming which suggests that the harm to the sector from a further reduction is overstated.

The WGC response takes issue with the emphasis on competition, alternately claiming that Canadian television has always competed in the marketplace but that it cannot compete without regulatory mandates requiring Canadian broadcasters to invest in original Canadian programming. While some of the response is confusing or inaccurate (it mistakes the $2.6 billion Canadian television production market for the Netflix Canadian market, refers to a 1999 Blais television policy when Françoise Bertrand was CRTC chair at the time, discounts co-productions that often feature Canadian themes or iconic stories and generate significant Canadian employment and foreign investment), at its heart is the WGC view that longstanding regulations and market protections should continue or be expanded in the digital environment. In today’s world, Canadians enjoy far more choice, broadcasters face far more competition, and creators can tap into a myriad of new markets and potential investors, but the WGC vision is that old-style regulations should remain in place.

Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in the WGC’s final paragraph, which claims that a $40 million drop in broadcaster spending amounts to a 25% decline that it previously described as devastating. The claim simply ignores the reality of how Canadian television is financed today. As I note in my post, private broadcasters today are minor players, contributing only 9% of total financing for Canadian fictional programming. To again quote the CMPA:

With fiction productions, the largest share of financing came from provincial and federal tax credits; the fiction genre also attracted the most foreign financing among all genres. Children’s and youth productions also derived the largest share of their financing from tax credits, followed by broadcaster licence fees. Distributors also accounted for an important part of the financing picture for the fiction, and children’s and youth genres. In the VAPA and lifestyle and human interest genres, most financing came from broadcaster licence fees.

The WGC argues that English and French language production should be treated separately, yet the CMPA data for English-language only production does little to change the analysis. In fact, broadcaster contributions for fictional programs in English are even lower as a percentage of total financing (7% in English vs. 9% overall) and rank as the smallest source of financing among tax credits, foreign funding, and the Canadian Media Fund. In fact, foreign funding is more than three times as large as private broadcaster funding for fictional English-language programs. An overall drop of $40 million for fiction, children’s programming, and documentaries would still just result in a decline of 2.5% of overall financing or 1/10th of what the WGC claims. Further, while it argues that the broadcaster window is needed to trigger other support, that too is changing with new CAVCO rules that allow online platforms to meet the “shown in Canada” requirement.


CMPA Profile 2016, Page 56,


The issue ultimately comes down to two different perspectives of Canadian content in the digital environment. The CRTC view – one that I defended in my post – is that Canadian creators can compete on the global stage, creating compelling content that finds investors and interested broadcasters from around the world. There is still a need for public support in this digital environment (a billion dollars is hardly insignificant) but the CRTC has confidence in Canadian creators and a belief that relying on outdated policies that regulate how content is broadcast or financed make little sense in a globally competitive marketplace that now involves video competition from giants such as Netflix, Google, and Facebook.

The WGC perspective has seemingly little confidence in the ability to compete without regulation (the open letter says as much). The WGC response and its policy positions in recent months have been all about how Canada can’t compete – can’t compete without mandated Netflix payments, can’t compete without ISP payments, can’t compete without mandated broadcaster investments, and can’t compete without simultaneous substitution. In fact, when I wrote earlier this year about how foreign financing has now surpassed virtually all other sources of funding for English-language television production, the WGC response was to express fear that Netflix might change strategies and stop funding Canadian content:


@WGCtweet, March 16, 2017,


Yet Netflix spends millions on production in Canada not because it faces a regulatory requirement, but rather because the entire package – innovative creators, tax credits, good partners – offers a compelling reason for doing so. Indeed, the data shows that the Canadian industry has thrived in recent years for reasons that have little to do with pre-digital regulations with a huge shift in Canadian television production financing from domestic funding to foreign investment.

As Minister Joly crafts her digital Cancon policy, she is faced with the choice of competing perspectives: a policy based on confidence that Canadian creators can compete on the world stage based on a policy framework that attracts investment and provides support for creation and promotion or one premised on the fear that success is only possible when the government mandates contributions from broadcasters and Internet companies.


The post Can Cancon Compete?: A Response to the WGC on The Future of Canadian TV Production appeared first on Michael Geist.

CreativeApplications.Net: Archive Dreaming – Building relations and drawing alt-history with machine learning

Created by Refik Anadol in collaboration with Google's Artists and Machine Intelligence program, 'Archive Dreaming' is a 6 meters wide circular installation that employs machine learning algorithms to search and sort relations among 1,700,000 documents.

Electronics-Lab: Nixie Bargraph Kit

Robin @ launched his new campaign on a project using IN-9 Nixie tubes. Now you can easily control two IN-9 Nixie bargraph tubes with 2 PWM inputs from your Arduino, Raspberry or other control board. The tubes are controlled by PWM signals and adjusting the PWM duty cycle you can control the tubes height, thay easy!

I had the idea for this project after building myself a Nixie bargraph clock which looked fantastic and eye catching. Instead of using conventional nixie tubes, which use numbers to display the time, the time is indicated by the height of the neon glow. But, this isn’t just limited to displaying the time, anything can be indicated with these tubes, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, proximity… anything!

The post Nixie Bargraph Kit appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

things magazine: Hobbies and collecting

Some random things. The Society for the Preservation of Letraset Action Transfers (via Daniel Gray) / The Searcher, the ‘informed voice of metal detecting’ / Celluloid Wicker Man, a site by writer Adam Scovell chronicling his obsessions (‘Folk Horror, Landscape … Continue reading

s mazuk: discody:reblog to let him know that you love him


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TheSirensSound: New single Dare by Foliage

Based out of San Bernardino, California, Manuel Joseph Walker started his synth-tinged, jangle-pop project Foliage at the age of 16. He released his debut LP 'Truths' on Bandcamp the week before his 17th birthday. The record sold out in less than a week on physical. The recording, songwriting, and production for Foliage is all done by Walker, who is now 19 years old.

Foliage's new record is called 'Silence', and tells the story of an abusive relationship he was in. The song "Dare" is about trying to find an escape, but being held back. "Dare" is the first official single from the release.

TheSirensSound: New album Ours by Blue Navy

"Ours" is Blue Navy's sophomore LP - another concept album that covers topics such as heartbreak, loss, and memories following the destruction of a meaningful relationship. Along with introspective, confessional lyrics, "Ours" contains balanced elements of stripped-down acoustic folk, as well as dense layers of lush, ethereal, and reverberated ambient soundscapes. 

Penny Arcade: News Post: Thornwatch Update!

Gabe: Making a tabletop game is a lot of work you guys. Thankfully I am surrounded by some ridiculously talented folks at Lone Shark and Penny Arcade. Kiko has been working on finalizing the layout for our cards and they are looking really cool. For a long time our cards have gotten the job done, but now it’s time to turn this stuff: Into something I’m proud to put in a box. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the work Kiko has been doing: While Kiko hammers out the graphic design I still have lots to illustrate. Specifically I am working on our Judges right now. If you’ve…

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

The bottom may fall out of the southern Ontario housing market a week from Monday. That’s the day local realtors, shocked, dismayed, in disbelief and caressing their A7 key fobs a final time, release the stats for May. Expect epic.

So far we know listings have exploded. Up almost 50% in the first two weeks of this month compared to last year. Sales are going in the other direction – down about a fifth. And sentiment is changing fast. Just two weeks ago this breathless blog told you that for the first time in the history of polling more than half the people expected house prices to keep on going up. Well, that was then. Now it’s a mere 45% or so – but a significant change in 14 days.

Suddenly the headlines are graphic. “Bidding Wars Turn to Homebuyers’ Remorse in Toronto,” yells Bloomberg. And remorse it is. Deals are falling apart all over the place as buyers who suddenly realize they were the greater fools – buying at the tippy-top of an inflated market in a FOMO frenzy – do everything they can to avoid closing.

Mortgage originations are drying up. Open houses are empty. Agents are starting to completely abandon (thankfully) the barbaric cultural ritual of staging blind auctions. Suddenly buyers have a wide choice of properties to browse, no pressure to make an immediate offer, the ability to demand financing or home inspection conditions, and can even make a low-ball offer without shame or ridicule.

How is it for sellers? Wicked bad.

A few weeks ago 94% of new listings were snapped up as they hit the market. Now that ratio has plunged to 52%, and could be on its way to the Credit Crisis low of about 35%, hit when the world was ending in early 2009.

There are two stories at play. First, the sellers. Another 9,500 properties came on the market in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area since last Wednesday. This is historic, with almost 30,000 active listings now in the region. As the meme spreads that the boom is over, tens of thousands of owners are trying to exit at the top, while scores of speculators, leveraged to their pits, panic and list.

Then there are the buyers. The sales decline was 16% in the first two weeks of May, and odds are it will increase. Why would people stop looking for a house just when there are more to choose from, with less pressure and the potential for a better deal? Because we move in herds. People are desperate to buy things that others desperately covet. We back off in hesitation when something becomes unwanted, smelling risk.

It suddenly became clear to many that this market was a total gasbag. And how could a sane person believe otherwise?

Not only did prices travel from the unaffordable to the delusional and into the criminal, but the news for real estate has been all bad. Home Capital, the biggest non-bank lender, laid an egg. Ontario started taxing foreign dudes. Universal rent controls were slapped on all condos. The major banks were downgraded. The media’s been filled with stories of a population shouldering record debt, one missed paycheque away from oblivion, with 70% unable to afford any mortgage rate hike – when higher rates are a certainty.

So, the next few weeks and months will be pivotal in the financial lives of millions of people with the bulk of their worth in residential real estate. Many who bought in March or April will find they paid far too much, may never recoup, and are courting years of agony and expenses if they try to walk away from their deals before closing.

Greed is morphing into fear. Maybe it wasn’t different here after all.

MattCha's Blog: The Xiao Binging of the Puerh Industry

One of the things that has really changed since 2011 is the overabundance of xiao bings (“small cakes”).  I am really unsure which vendors or factories started pressing all their cakes into xiao bings but it seems like all of them pretty much followed suite shortly thereafter.  When did this happen?  Why?

I was first exposed to xiao bings last year when I picked up 2 different xiao bings from O5Tea (this and this).  I have drank a lot of puerh in my life but never did I ever drink from a xiao bing- that is how rare they were about 10 years ago.  In fact, they were almost completely non-existent, novelty items.  The fact they are everywhere right now is actually quite shocking.

Why did this happen?  I guess that as the price of raw maocha increased exponentially over the last little while it got to the point that the price point for a regular 357g was hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the same quality of leaf.  To prevent sticker shock the vendors pressed a xiao bing instead of a full.  That seems like a logical explanation.  Essentially, the vendors are either 1- doing this for the benefit of the customer to make it easier/ or possible to purchase within their budget or 2- they are doing it to hide the actual cost per gram.  Due to the current popularity of the xiao bing, the customer must be happy with the move towards the xiao bing?

The xiao bing also offers something between a sample size and a full 357g bing which makes it possible (but not really that feasible) to age long term.  There is really no point to age samples because they are so small, really.  So the xiao bing offers an aging option.  This can also be played both ways to benefit the customer and the vendor.  Vendors sometimes complain about the nuisance of preparing samples and sometimes offer a much higher price per gram for the time of preparing them.  So selling a xiao bing can really benefit both.

Also something else needs to be said about the xiao bing.  There seems to be 2 sizes of xiao bing out there.  If you asked me how many grams are in a xiao bing I would say 200g of course.  Today there seems to be many 100g xiao bings (xiao xiao bings) out there as well- this is also new.  I don’t think I even remember ever seeing a 100g xiao bing online until recently.  Maybe things will continue to shrink?

Personally, I am not a fan of the xiao bing.  The popularity somehow bugs me but I don’t really know why.  Maybe it’s just me struggling to come to terms with the fact that you can’t get as much as you used to get for the same amount of money… or maybe its symbolism for the puerh world being increasingly micro-managed… I don’t really know… or maybe it’s because it does kind of hide the price per gram a little… I don’t know (must meditate on this more).

To me the xiao bing is really just a sample.  I even prefer to get a full size cake as a sample.  In that way you can choose to age it, drink it now, or banish it forever.  If you get a full cake as a sample and its good but the cake has sold out then at least you still have lots to enjoy.  If it’s not your favorite cake then maybe at least you might drink it years later if your puerh stash is ever dwindling (never again I keep telling myself).   It’s very easy for me to go for a full cake as a sample now because I am trying to restock.  It might be a completely different story when I’m up to my neck in puerh a few years from now.

I even despise the xiao bing so much I considered an all-out boycott of any and all vendors which press them.  Then I realized that I would probably be left with no vendors to order from!  So maybe I’ll just boycott the actual buying of xiao bings.  Using the power of the wallet can impact change.

In fact, most of the cakes in my stash and that are currently on their way are 400g or larger.  I like the big, chunky, beefy, robust, old school feeling of these cakes and the industry that they represent.  The larger, the better!  1Kg, even 2Kg, cakes and bricks- "bring'em on" I say.  In fact, I challenge vendors to release one of these big guys in response to the xiao binging of the puerh industry.  People will buy- I’ll be the first one.


Colossal: Eve: A New Intergalactic Woodcut Print by Tugboat Printshop

Eve is the newest multi-colored woodcut print from Valerie Lueth of Pittsburgh-based Tugboat Printshop (previously here and here). The limited edition print is created from layering four different blocks, each containing a separate color. Once combined, an orange and green hand is seen suspended in the cosmos, flowers and plants growing wildly from the extended limb. The print is currently available for pre-order, with an anticipated ship date of mid-June. You can learn more about the making of Eve, as well as order your own print, on Tugboat Printshop’s website.

Colossal: Hand-Sewn Hairstyles That Cascade From Embroidered Hoops by Sheena Liam

Fashion model and embroidery artist Sheena Liam hand sews images of women whose hair seems to gracefully dangle from each of her 2D surfaces, Liam using black thread as a substitute for her subjects’ long locks. The works are all completed and displayed on embroidery hoops, with hair styles extending from the women in french braids, messy buns, and long ponytails. In one particular design, tiny pieces of thread are seen attached to the wall below the hoop, creating the illusion that the embroidered woman above is messily trimming her bangs.

Liam creates relatable, solitary moments within each hand sewn hoop. You can see more of her elegant designs, as well as snapshots from her travels, on her Instagram. (via Teen Vogue)


STX Entertainment have released the final trailer for Luc Besson's upcoming space opera, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Luc Besson's The Fifth Element was his baby step to this film and that film holds up really well so I can only imagine how awesome this is going to be.

Check the final trailer below.

In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to t [Continued ...]


The Complete OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS is available NOW on
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Damsel

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Worse, he tied her to a track that is proposed to later be part of a high speed rail line that is currently being studied.

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New Humanist Blog: New Humanist reading list: terrorism, extremism and democracy

Michael Geist: Anti-Lawful Access Tide Continues: Security Consultation Finds Public Strongly Opposed to New Reforms

Law enforcement efforts to revive lawful access reform continue to face political and public opposition. Earlier this month, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recommended that the current approach remain unchanged. Indeed, Committee Chair Rob Oliphant said that police sought expanded powers, but that the argument was not yet “compelling.”

Public Safety’s report released last week on responses to its national consultation on security indicates that the broader public agrees. The issue drew the majority of feedback during the consultation:

participants emphasized that respect for privacy and due process are the most important considerations for national security agencies and law enforcement when conducting investigations in the digital world. Many participants said that the challenges faced by investigators in the digital world do not justify circumventing existing rules and regulations and that, if anything, even more oversight and safeguard mechanisms are needed, given how often Canadians use the Internet for sensitive matters such as personal communications and banking. A clear majority of participants oppose giving government the capacity to intercept personal communications, even if a court authorizes the interception, and oppose any moves to weaken encryption technology. Even those who support broad powers of interception think it should only be allowed under rigorous judicial authorization and be limited in scope.

The public did not shy away from addressing access to basic subscriber information, a key target for law enforcement reforms, which seek access to some information without court oversight. The public is strongly opposed to such an approach:

Perhaps the most revealing result of the online consultations is that seven in 10 responses consider their Basic Subscriber Information (BSI) – such as their name, home address, phone number and email address – to be as private as the actual contents of their emails, personal diary and their medical and financial records. Almost half (48%) said BSI should only be provided in “limited circumstances” and with judicial approval, and about one in six (17%) said it should only be available to law enforcement in emergency circumstances, and even then only with a judicial warrant. The principal concern about revealing someone’s BSI is that it could be used for location tracking or to access even more online information about that person.

The prospect of enhanced interception capabilities also generated significant opposition alongside concerns for the economics of government mandated capabilities:

Organizations that commented on these issues tended to argue against requiring providers to build interception capabilities into their networks, with many suggesting that some capabilities already exist and the government has not demonstrated a need for any changes. Many industry organizations said any increased costs of interception should be borne by the government.

Overall, the consultation left no doubt that participants care about their privacy. The report notes that “the vast majority of responses – more than four in five – show that the expectation of privacy in the digital world is the same as or higher than in the physical world.”  If the government is a serious using consultations to help guide policy, lawful access reform should be shelved for the foreseeable future.

The post Anti-Lawful Access Tide Continues: Security Consultation Finds Public Strongly Opposed to New Reforms appeared first on Michael Geist.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Marine Biology

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I'm climate science they're more into wailing in the darkness.

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CreativeApplications.Net: NODE17: Designing Hope / 26.6-2.7 2017 / Frankfurt, Germany

In just a short few weeks, NODE is back for another edition and invites you to take part in a week long exploration of creative technologies.

Lambda the Ultimate - Programming Languages Weblog: Databases from finite categories

Spivak and Kent (2011). Ologs: A categorical framework for knowledge representation:

In this paper we introduce the olog, or ontology log, a category-theoretic model for knowledge representation (KR). Grounded in formal mathematics, ologs can be rigorously formulated and cross-compared in ways that other KR models (such as semantic networks) cannot. An olog is similar to a relational database schema; in fact an olog can serve as a data repository if desired. Unlike database schemas, which are generally difficult to create or modify, ologs are designed to be user-friendly enough that authoring or reconfiguring an olog is a matter of course rather than a difficult chore. It is hoped that learning to author ologs is much simpler than learning a database definition language, despite their similarity. We describe ologs carefully and illustrate with many examples. As an application we show that any primitive recursive function can be described by an olog. We also show that ologs can be aligned or connected together into a larger network using functors. The various methods of information flow and institutions can then be used to integrate local and global world-views. We finish by providing several different avenues for future research.

Ologs are essentially RDFs extended to encompass commuting diagrams, so a visual little language. The paper talks about how database schema can automatically be extracted from ologs.

Perlsphere: The phases of a crowdfunding campaign: launching

I am running a crowdfunding campaign to finance the writing of my book: Web Application Development in Perl 6 In this article I'll try to follow what's going on in the campaign and in my mind.

For the full article visit The phases of a crowdfunding campaign: launching

TheSirensSound: New songs "Saturdays" and "Fascinating Things" by Melt Mountain

Athens, Greece's guitar-pop four-piece Melt Mountain will release their full-length debut album "Superfetish" on May 29 via Inner Ear. The record follows their acclaimed self-titled four-song EP (released January 2014 on Inner Ear) which earned them praise from the likes of NME, Indieshuffle and more. "Fascinating Things" is the lead single.

Frontman Dimitris Apostolakidis: says"Fascinating Things" could be considered the essential base of the "Superfetish" idea, both musically and lyrically. This idea involves strong music themes that evolve and change in a dynamic, expressive way and words that try to describe detachment, inner conflicts, obsessions and disbeliefs."

Melt Mountain is one's inner most angst, a gut feeling of a frivolous daily routine, a hopeless bus ride that's only meant to show you how things may seem through a window as you swiftly pass by, with no intention of getting off. This has been the case since 2014 when they released their self-titled EP, carving up a musical landscape in a whimsical sense while also setting up intricate foundations with a narrative that most people can relate to.

"Superfetish" has explored more of the depths that the band was willing to go to. Lyrically it is very much influenced by urban culture, life and conduct, as complex and unforgiving as it gets. It navigates the recluse mind and the misunderstood personality. At the same time their music joins the dots between the abstract thought process captured in words with the same riffing mountain melting power that has come to define them. Comic for 2017.05.24

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

LaForge's home page: Power-cycling a USB port should be simple, right?

Every so often I happen to be involved in designing electronics equipment that's supposed to run reliably remotely in inaccessible locations,without any ability for "remote hands" to perform things like power-cycling or the like. I'm talking about really remote locations, possible with no but limited back-haul, and a very high cost of ever sending somebody there for remote maintenance.

Given that a lot of computer peripherals (chips, modules, ...) use USB these days, this is often some kind of an embedded ARM (rarely x86) SoM or SBC, which is hooked up to a custom board that contains a USB hub chip as well as a line of peripherals.

One of the most important lectures I've learned from experience is: Never trust reset signals / lines, always include power-switching capability. There are many chips and electronics modules available on the market that have either no RESET, or even might claim to have a hardware RESET line which you later (painfully) discover just to be a GPIO polled by software which can get stuck, and hence no way to really hard-reset the given component.

In the case of a USB-attached device (even though the USB might only exist on a circuit board between two ICs), this is typically rather easy: The USB hub is generally capable of switching the power of its downstream ports. Many cheap USB hubs don't implement this at all, or implement only ganged switching, but if you carefully select your USB hub (or in the case of a custom PCB), you can make sure that the given USB hub supports individual port power switching.

Now the next step is how to actually use this from your (embedded) Linux system. It turns out to be harder than expected. After all, we're talking about a standard feature that's present in the USB specifications since USB 1.x in the late 1990ies. So the expectation is that it should be straight-forward to do with any decent operating system.

I don't know how it's on other operating systems, but on Linux I couldn't really find a proper way how to do this in a clean way. For more details, please read my post to the linux-usb mailing list.

Why am I running into this now? Is it such a strange idea? I mean, power-cycling a device should be the most simple and straight-forward thing to do in order to recover from any kind of "stuck state" or other related issue. Logical enabling/disabling of the port, resetting the USB device via USB protocol, etc. are all just "soft" forms of a reset which at best help with USB related issues, but not with any other part of a USB device.

And in the case of e.g. an USB-attached cellular modem, we're actually talking about a multi-processor system with multiple built-in micro-controllers, at least one DSP, an ARM core that might run another Linux itself (to implement the USB gadget), ... - certainly enough complex software that you would want to be able to power-cycle it...

I'm curious what the response of the Linux USB gurus is.

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

No interest change coming on Wednesday. How could there be? The Bank of Canada can’t raise rates yet because the economy – while doing w-a-y better than last year – is still slack, flaccid, limp and everything this manly blog is not. But it can’t cut, either, since we’re a nation of debt snoflers completely devoid of discipline.

HSBC knows that. The international banking giant has Canada in its crosshairs, since few peoples in the world sponge up borrowed money they way we do. The lender has just undercut every other bank in the land, offering a five-year fixed-rate home loan for the low price of 2.36%. “We want to be more competitive,” the CEO says. “I certainly want to have our share of the market…”

Well, 2.36% is a scant seven-tenths of one per cent above the current inflation rate, making this almost-free money. Without a doubt, within a year or two it will be. And it’s reasonable to assume HSBC will be handing out hundreds of millions before the offer expires.

So the Bank of Canada’s Stevie Poloz can’t win. In report after report and ad nauseum speeches he’s warned of excessive borrowing. Households are over-extended, he says, and vulnerable to shocks like rising rates. And yet he does nothing about it. The bank’s key rate has idled at 0.5% for the last two years. Poloz plunged it along with oil prices – which had a lot to do with igniting a real estate maelstrom in Vancouver and Toronto. The higher houses go, the more people borrow. A vicious circle.

So here we are. Households owe $2.08 trillion, which is bigger than our $2.07 trillion economy. Two-thirds of that is long-term mortgage debt, taken out at the lowest rates in history. That they will rise is a given. And then we’re in trouble.

The financial press, that dreary bunch of writers who cover basis points instead of Kardashian bottoms, was rife with fresh evidence this week of how close to the edge your neighbours, co-workers and fool relatives are skating. At a time when inflation is 1.6% and wage gains actually negative, Canadians added an average of 11% to their mortgage debt in the past year. Worse, almost three-quarters say they’d be somewhat screwed if mortgage payments increased by just 10%. That would come with a simple 1% increase in home loan rates. And, yes, it will arrive.

Manulife claims it worries for both the Millennials and the Boomers, who together account for 65% of the population.

“The millennial segment owes more than any previous generation and are not prepared to meet unexpected expenses. They’re homeowners, their furnace could go, they could need a new transmission on their car,” says the company. As you might expect, the kids are drowning in debt – with 86% of them in hock, compared with just 39% of the wrinklies. But Boomers have a special challenge – much of their net worth is locked into houses, so if rates rise and home equity falls (and the ability to sell), it’s a sinkhole for retirement finances.

Four in ten Boomers have at least 60% of their wealth in their house and another 21% say it accounts for more than 80%. Meanwhile the fact almost half of Millennials are getting loans from the Bank of Mom means Boomers are sucking out equity so their kids can become indebted. What a great strategy. If rates rise and real estate falls, they ‘re both pooched.

Back to Poloz. If raising rates means 70% of people start having trouble paying their debts, and may cut back on consumer spending, he has an even bigger problem. If lowering them means more economic activity, more borrowing and increased debt, then how do we ever get out of this quagmire? But if leaving them alone means more predatory and irresponsible sharks like HSBC swim into our beaver pond to cull victims in the name of market share, well, no good happens.

This is the legacy of bad monetary policy. The debt overhang may now never go away – at least not for a generation or two. The correlation between a mountain of debt and mountainous house prices is irrefutable and absolute. This is the reason (not Chinese dudes) why we are now have 86% of our young people sautéing in borrowed money they may be incapable of repaying.

My first house cost $66,000 back in the bronze age, and my first mortgage was at 12.25%. In the Eighties, when I was first elected to the House of Commons, my mortgage was 14%. But a great house cost less than $300,000. Today a fiver is 2.36% and real estate sets you back a million.

So much for progress.


Editor's Note: "Quick Takes," as the name suggest, are initial impressions on movies from our man-on-the-ground at Cannes.

The Meyerowitz Stories, dir. Noah Baumbach

The Meyerowitz Stories is a run off the mill portrayal of the modern American family. Gen X siblings dealing with their Boomer father, his wives, illness and trying to navigate the tangled mess of inconsiderate tripe the old man left them in since they were born.

It was like watching The Royal Tenenbaums without the twee pastel and cooky shite of a cupcake aesthetic that Anderson gives to anything. Same humor, same narration, same unfathomable void behind everything.

Seeing Adam Sandler actually portraying a responsible adult for once was refreshing, but that's really nothing [Continued ...]

Daniel Lemire's blog: Counting exactly the number of distinct elements: sorted arrays vs. hash sets?

Suppose that you have ever larger sets of 64-bit integers, and you want to quickly find out how many distinct integers there are. So given {10, 12, 10, 16}, you want an algorithm to output 3, as there are three distinct integers in the set. I choose 64-bit integers, but strings would do fine as well.

There are sensible algorithms to estimate this number, but you want an exact count.

Though there are many good ways to solve this problem, most programmers would first attempt to use one of these two techniques:

  • Create a hash set. Throw all the values in the hash set (implemented with a hash table). Then check how many values are found in the hash set in the end. In C++, you might implement it as such:
    size_t distinct_count_hash(const uint64_t * values, size_t howmany) {
      std::unordered_set<uint64_t> hash(values, values + howmany);
      return hash.size();
  • Put all the values in an array, sort the array then run through it, deduplicating the values. In C++, you might implement it as follows:
    size_t distinct_count_sort(const uint64_t * values, size_t howmany) {
      std::vector<uint64_t> array(values, values + howmany);
      std::sort(array.begin(), array.end());
      return std::unique(array.begin(), array.end()) - array.begin();

Which is best? Sorting has complexity O(n log n) whereas insertion in a hash set has expected constant time O(1). That would seem to predict that the hash set approach would always be best.

However, there are many hidden assumptions behind textbook naive big-O analysis, as is typical. So we should be careful.

Simple engineering considerations do ensure that as long as the number of distinct elements is small (say no larger than some fixed constant), then the hash set approach has to be best. Indeed, sorting and copying a large array with lots of repeated elements is clearly wasteful. There is no need for fancy mathematics to understand that scenario.

But that’s not the difficult problem that will give you engineering nightmares. The nasty problem is the one where the number of distinct elements can grow large. In that case, both the array and the hash set can become large.

Which is best in that difficult case? I wrote a small C++ benchmark which you can run yourself.

N hash set (cycles/value) array sort (cycles/value)
1,000 220 161
10,000 260 163
100,000 340 200
1,000,000 820 245
10,000,000 1,100 282

So when there are many distinct values to be counted, sorting an array is an efficient approach whereas the hash table should be avoided.

How can we understand this problem? One issue is that as the hash table becomes large, it comes to reside in RAM (as it no longer fits in CPU cache). Because of how hash sets work, each operation risks incurring an expensive cache miss. A single retrieval from RAM can take dozens of CPU cycles. Meanwhile, sorting and scanning an array can be done while avoiding most cache misses. It may involve many more operations, but avoiding cache misses can be worth it.

What if I kept cranking up the data size (N)? Would the hash set ever catch up? It might not.

The problem is the underlying assumption that you can access all memory using a constant time. That’s not even close to true.

Tea Masters: Celadon tea cups by Jacob Bodilly

Green and light blue celadon cups by Jacob Bodilly
I'm pleased to introduce 2 types of celadon cups made by a British ceramist artist, Jacob Bodilly. He's a good friend of Michel François who also made tea ware for me in the past (like the bowl next to the cups). Both have worked together at the (Bernard) Leach Pottery in Cornwall. Leach was is the godfather of pottery's renaissance in the West, thanks to his study of pottery in Asia and his friendship with Soetsu Yanagi, author of 'the unknown craftsman'. Jacob (like Michel) follows in these footsteps and produce tea ware that combine beauty and function. 
Jacob Bodilly is also a passionate tea drinker and therefore he was able to shape these cups with lightly flared rims that smoothen the contact between the cup and the lip. The glaze is very soft and tender to the touch.

They come in light blue
Or in green celadon:
By the way, I think today is an appropriate time to announce that I plan visiting London during the second week of July. I hope to combine this vacation with a chance to meet some of my British tea friends. Please let me know if you're interested in a tea brewing event with me (and if you have a suggestion where to organize such an event).

Michael Geist: Canadian TV in the Netflix Age: In Defence of the CRTC Television Licensing Decision

Last week’s CRTC decision on group licensing for the major Canadian broadcasters has the creative community in a panic, claiming that it could “mean the devastation of Canadian domestic [television] production.” The decision, which set a uniform spending requirement of 5 percent on programs of national interest (PNI, which includes dramas, documentaries, some children’s programming, and some award shows), means a reduction in spending requirements for some broadcasters. The Writers Guild of Canada fears that the decision could lead to a reduction in spending on PNI of $200 million over five years.

Groups have heaped criticism on CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais, whose term ends next month. The WGC labels him a “Harper appointee”, while Kate Taylor says “he doesn’t leave much of a legacy for himself” and that “his piecemeal approach offers no consistent strategy to address the challenges facing Canadian television production in the Netflix age.”

Blais may have his faults, but claiming that he has not had a strategic vision for the digital age is not one of them. He recognized that the advent of the digital networks, an abundance of consumer choice, and the effective removal of longstanding analog protections for Canadian creators would gradually reduce the relevance of the regulator and leave it with two choices. The first – favoured by the creator groups – was to temporarily prolong the protections by extending Cancon regulations to Internet services and increasing regulatory costs on broadcasters. The second was to jump on the digital bandwagon, gradually removing the safeguards and creating a regulatory environment premised on competition at all levels – creators, broadcasters, and broadcast distributors. Anyone following the CRTC broadcast and telecom decisions in recent years knows that he chose the latter.

The result is a digital regulatory framework designed to enable Canadian creators to compete on a level playing in Canada (net neutrality), encourage the creation of programming that finds international audiences and partnerships (TalkTV), grant consumers greater television choice (skinny basic and pick-and-pay) and more competitive Internet services (wholesale fibre access), ensure universal Internet access (TalkBroadband), maintain deregulation of Internet-based services (new media exemption), facilitate new Canadian Internet entrants (hybrid services), and press broadcasters to reduce their reliance on U.S. programming (simsub). The policies may not universally succeed (and the simsub decision did not go as far as he may have wanted), but there is no doubting the strategy. In fact, despite the expectation that some have for Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly to chart a new path, most of her public comments on digital Cancon are headed in the same direction.

Is 5 percent for PNI too low? At least four things can be said to defend the decision and place the impact into proper perspective. First, the argument that broadcasters needed a lower PNI number to compete with Internet-based services such as Netflix has merit. There are good reasons for not creating a mandatory contributions requirement for Internet video services, but the cost gap between regulated and unregulated services is relevant to the setting of mandated contributions for regulated broadcast services. Further, the decision lends credence to those who regularly whispered that the lobbying campaign for a Netflix tax was never about the money that could be generated from the streaming giant (a five percent tax on Netflix Canadian revenues generates a tiny amount of money given that Canadian TV production is a $2.6 billion industry) but rather about maintaining the contributions for the regulated services. When the licences come up for renewal in five years, the calls for the elimination of any contribution in the face of unregulated competition will be far louder.

Second, the suggestion that the Canadian television industry is – as Kate Taylor’s column states – “left to fend for themselves” ignores the massive public support for Canadian content creation. Given the amount invested annually by Canadian taxpayers, it is simply not credible to claim that Canadian television has been abandoned. The CMPA’s Profile 2016 tells the story with well over a billion dollars contributed from public sources including the public broadcaster, federal and provincial tax credits, and the Canadian Media Fund.

Third, while the industry is clearly not left to fend for itself, the CRTC decision is part of a shift that encourages and rewards success, not just creation. The claim that reduced mandatory PNI will devastate the industry is premised on the notion that Canadian broadcasters will only invest in domestic programming if required to do so. Licensing cheaper foreign programming is understandably attractive, yet the long-term success of broadcasters increasingly depends on controlling original content that can be delivered through multiple channels and markets (particularly if simsub disappears). In other words, the market encourages investment in original programming and the CRTC has sought to establish conditions that promote such investment.

Fourth,  critics of the decision are quick to point to higher profile Canadian fictional programming that is said to be at risk, but the CMPA data confirms that private broadcasters are relatively minor players when it comes to the financing of Canadian drama. The report states:

With fiction productions, the largest share of financing came from provincial and federal tax credits; the fiction genre also attracted the most foreign financing among all genres. Children’s and youth productions also derived the largest share of their financing from tax credits, followed by broadcaster licence fees. Distributors also accounted for an important part of the financing picture for the fiction, and children’s and youth genres. In the VAPA and lifestyle and human interest genres, most financing came from broadcaster licence fees.

The CMPA chart below confirms that conclusion with private broadcasters contributing only 9 percent of the financing for fictional programs, less than federal and provincial tax credits, Canadian distributors, foreign financing, and the CMF.  Private broadcasters allocate much of their money toward variety and performing arts as well as “lifestyle and human interest” programming, which including magazine style shows.


CMPA Profile 2016, Page 54,


In other words, financing and the success or failure of Canadian programming such as dramas do not depend upon private broadcaster spending. In fact, the WGC release effectively confirms this since their worst case scenario – $40 million in reduced broadcaster PNI spending per year – represents just a two percent reduction in total financing for the fiction, children’s and documentary genres in Canada at a time when foreign funding from services such as Netflix is on the rise. Hardly the stuff of devastation.

The post Canadian TV in the Netflix Age: In Defence of the CRTC Television Licensing Decision appeared first on Michael Geist.

OCaml Weekly News: OCaml Weekly News, 23 May 2017

  1. New release of the Albatross compiler available via opam
  2. findlib-1.7.2
  3. v0.9 release of Jane Street packages
  4. From the OCaml discourse
  5. Other OCaml News Comic for 2017.05.23

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Jesse Moynihan: Forming 244

new shelton wet/dry: Every day, the same, again

Topless cleaning service owner arrested for underwear theft Man accused of paying prostitutes to strip on neighbor’s porch at least 75 times Pastor trying to prove how Jesus walked on water gets eaten by crocodile Health consequences of smoking 1–4 cigarettes per day the probability of divorce roughly doubled for married Americans who began pornography use Facebook flooded [...]

Better Embedded System SW: #define vs. const

Is your code full of "#define" statements?  If so, you should consider switching to the const keyword.

Old school C:
    #define MYVAL 7

Better approach:
   const uint32_t myVal = 7;

Here are some reasons you should use const instead of #define:
  • #define has global scope, so you're creating (read-only) global values every time you use #define. Global scope is evil, so don't do that.  (Read-only global scope for constant values is a bit less evil than global variables per se, especially if you can't use the namespace features of C++. But gratuitous global scope is always a bad idea.) A const alternative can obey scoping rules, including being purely local if defined inside a procedure, or more commonly file static with the "static" keyword.
  • Const lets you do more aggressive type checking (depending upon your compiler and static analysis tools, especially if you use a typedef more specific than built-in C data types). While C is a bit weak as a language in this area compared to other languages, a classical example is a const lets you identify a number as being in feet or meters, while the #define approach is just as if you'd typed the number 7 in with no units. The #define approach can bite you if you use the wrong value in the wrong place. Type checking is an effective way to find bugs, and using #define gives up an opportunity to let static analysis tools help you with that.
  • Const lets you use the value as if it were a variable when you need to (e.g., passing an address to the variable) without having to change how the variable is defined.
  • #define in general is so bug-prone that you should minimize its use just to avoid having to spend time asking "is this one OK?" in a peer review. Most #define uses tend to be const variables in old-school code, so getting rid of them can dramatically reduce the peer review burden of sifting through hundreds of #define statements to look for problems.
Here are some common myths about this tradeoff. (Note that on some systems these statements might be true, especially if you have and old and lame compiler.  But they don't necessarily have to be true and they often are false, especially on newer chips with newer compilers.)
  • "Const wastes memory."  False if you have a compiler that is smart enough to do the right thing. Sure, if you want to pass a pointer to the const it will actually have to live in memory somewhere, but you can't even pass a pointer to a #define at all. One of the points of "const" is to give the compiler a hint that lets it optimize memory footprint.
  • "Const won't work for X." Generally false if you have a newer compiler, and especially if you are using a mostly-C subset of the capability of a C++ compiler, as is increasingly common. And honestly, most of the time #define is just being used as a plain old integer const to get rid of magic numbers. const will work fine.  (If you have magic numbers instead of #define, then you have bigger problems than this even.) Use const for the no-brainer cases. Something is probably wrong if everything about your code is so special you need #define everywhere.
  • "Const hassles me about type conversions."  That's a feature to prevent you from being sloppy!  So strictly speaking the compiler doing this is not a myth. The myth is that this is a bad thing.
There are plenty of discussions on this topic.  You'll also see that some folks advocate using enums for some situations, which we'll get to another time. For now, if you change as many #defines as you can to consts then that is likely to improve your code quality, and perhaps flush out a few bugs you didn't realize you had.

Be careful when reading discussion group postings on this topic.  There is a lot of dis-information out there about performance and other potential tradeoff factors, usually based on statements about 20 year old versions of the C language or experiences with compilers that have poor optimization capability.  In general, you should always use const by default unless your particular compiler/system/usage presents a compelling case not to.

See also the Barr Group C coding standard rule 1.8.b which says to use const, and has a number of other very useful rules. / 2017-05-28T02:41:32