OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: To his friend...

All Content: Term Life


First, the bad news. “Term Life,” despite what you might expect from its laughable poster and no-critics VOD release, isn’t “fun bad.” If you’re looking for the next “The Room,” or even something akin to some of Nicolas Cage’s more YouTube-ready over-the-top performances, you’ll have to look elsewhere. No, “Term Life” is just a generic, run-of-the-mill, poorly made thriller that doesn’t thrill. It’s a wannabe noir with no atmosphere, and a waste of a talented cast by a director who really has no idea what to do with them. Great actors wander in and out of a scene, some of them get shot, some just disappear, and the move trudges onward. At least it pauses briefly to address Vince Vaughn’s ridiculous haircut.

Vaughn stars as Nick Barrow, a man who literally introduces himself via narration with the line “I plan heists.” (The narration is the only laughably fun part of the movie with insanely on-the-nose bon mots like “Being interrogated by a cartel leader is not how I expected my day to start out.”) Nick is to illegal activity as a wedding planner is to nuptials—he designs it and then gets a cut when it goes off. His latest design goes awry when the perpetrators are gunned down after pulling it off. It turns out that Nick’s latest customer was the son of a notorious cartel leader (Jordi Molla). If you’re thinking that a movie about a drug dealer getting vengeance for his son’s murder would be enough, you’re ahead of “Term Life.” It ALSO turns out that the robbery aggravated a dirty cop named Keenan (Bill Paxton) and his crew (including Mike Epps and Shea Wigham) are the ones who actually killed the drug lord’s kid to get back what he stole.

Still not enough movie for you? OK, let’s graft on a father-daughter plot. When Nick realizes that a notorious criminal mastermind and a team of dirty cops are after him, he does what any estranged father would do—he buys life insurance (hence the film’s name). But, as he’s told by the insurance agent (a fascinatingly under-used Taraji P. Henson, who sells the policy and disappears), he has to survive three weeks for the blood work to go through, or else his daughter Cate (Hailee Steinfeld) won’t get anything when he’s iced. So, Nick and Cate go on the run, provoking the suspicions of a small town cop played by another actor too good for the size of his role (Terrence Howard). I didn’t even mention the fact that Cate’s mother is a recovering alcoholic. It’s all so much movie and yet so little at the same time.

The every-cliché-and-the-kitchen-sink approach of “Term Life” leads to a depressingly bland affair. It’s kind of like how every color blends to gray eventually. Nothing in “Term Life” is developed enough in its 93-minute run time to give it any weight. Paxton’s villainous cop deserved a better movie (there’s a scene in the middle between him and Wigham that is a perfect example of a point where the film could have become something else but went back to the middle of the road), as does the great Jonathan Banks’ buddy and even Jon Favreau’s criminal lackey. Most of all, the talented Steinfeld gives “Term Life” way more than the film deserves, playing the anger of a young woman ignored by her father her entire life. Sadly, Billingsley doesn’t know what to do with her performance, too often pushing it back to cliché. What do teen girls do? Go swimsuit shopping! (For the record, this is where I would have checked out were it not my professional obligation to continue.)

Ultimately, there’s no sense of danger or world creation here. These people don’t exist in the real world, and Billingsley has no idea how to make it feel like they do. It’s one of those films that thinks casting equates to audience concern. Why do we care about what happens to Nick and Kate? Because their faces are on the poster. And it absolutely fails as an action film. Billingsley, the director of “Couples Retreat,” does not have any clue what to do with stunt work or shoot-out choreography. There’s one scene in which Nick is supposed to throw a guy out a window and the stunt man basically just runs for the glass while Vaughn pats him on the back on the way by. It’s the one time I laughed.

Hackaday: Japanese Lab Builds 5-Axis 3D Printer

A Japanese lab is investing some time in the possibilities of a 5-axis 3D printer. They show it printing using five axis as well as doing finish machining on a printed part. We’ve covered parts of why this is the right direction to go for 3D printing in another post.

It looks like they have modified an existing industrial machining center for use with a 3D printing nozzle. This feels like cheating, but it’s the right way to go if you want to start playing with the code early. The machines are intensely accurate and precise. After all, building a five axis machine is a well known science, 3D printing with one opens a whole new field of research.

There isn’t too much to show in the video, other than it’s possible and people are doing it. The Five-axis 3D printing and machining is uninteresting, we have been able to machine plastic for a long time.

However, they show one blue part in which the central axis of the part was printed vertically, but revolute splines along its outer perimeter were printed normal to the surface of the already printed 3D part. Which is certainly not commonly done. Video after the break.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, cnc hacks

MetaFilter: My son is also named Borte

Baby names generated by a neural network (via)

Slashdot: US Toy Maker Maisto's Website Pushes Ransomware

An anonymous reader shares a PCWorld article: Attackers are aggressively pushing a new file-encrypting ransomware program called CryptXXX by compromising websites, the latest victim being U.S. toy maker Maisto. Fortunately, there's a tool that can help users decrypt CryptXXX affected files for free. Security researchers from Malwarebytes reported Thursday that maisto.com was infected with malicious JavaScript that loaded the Angler exploit kit. This is a Web-based attack tool that installs malware on users' computers by exploiting vulnerabilities in their browser plug-ins. It also steals bitcoins from local wallets, a double hit to victims, because it then asks for the equivalent of $500 in bitcoins in order to decrypt their files. [...] Researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab recently updated their ransomware decryption toolto add support for CryptXXX affected files. The attack code exploits vulnerabilities in older versions of applications such as Flash, Java, Internet Explorer, and Silverlight. At this point, it isn't clear exactly how many users are affected.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

search.cpan.org: AtteanX-RDFQueryTranslator-0.099_02

Translate RDF::Query objects to Attean::API::Algebra objects.

Penny Arcade: Comic: Escape Is Impossible

New Comic: Escape Is Impossible

Instructables: exploring - featured: Model rocket launch pad

This is how I made a pair of folding launch pads to use with mid-power model rockets.The launch pads are made from plywood along with some bits of other common materials. They fold up for storage and are quite solid despite the slim profile.My goal was to come up with a launch pad design that was st...
By: seamster

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TwitchFilm: The Many Faces Of Luis Guzman

This week, the Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele comedy Keanu premieres, and in one of the supporting parts you can see veteran character actor Luis Guzman. And that settled who we would choose this week. For Luis Guzman is an actor who brings believability and deadpan humor to the weirdest of roles. A fantastic actor, he can disappear in any role despite having a very distinct (sometimes ogre-ish even) look. So once again I'm going to use eleven pictures of one of my favourite thespians to make a quiz. Click through the images, and guess which movies or shows they're from. No competition, no prizes, just for fun, try to see how far you get without using IMDb! And I'll post the answers next Thursday,...

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

Recent additions: PerfectHash 0.1.5

Added by MarkWotton, Fri Apr 29 14:47:46 UTC 2016.

A perfect hashing library for mapping bytestrings to values.

search.cpan.org: Pcore-v0.23.4

perl applications development environment

search.cpan.org: Dancer2-0.166001_02

Lightweight yet powerful web application framework

Slashdot: Doctor Ready to Perform First Human Head Transplant

Ross Kenneth Urken, reporting for Newsweek (edited and condensed): Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero had his Dr. Strange moment when he announced he'd be able to do a human head transplant in a two-part procedure he dubs HEAVEN (paywalled, this alternate link could help) (head anastomosis venture) and Gemini (the subsequent spinal cord fusion). [...] Canavero has a plan: It's a 36-hour, $20 million procedure involving at least 150 people, including doctors, nurses, technicians, psychologists and virtual reality engineers. In a specially equipped hospital suite, two surgical teams will work simultaneously -- one focused on Valery Spiridonov (patient) and the other on the donor's body, selected from a brain-dead patient and matched with the Spiridonov for height, build and immunotype. Both patients -- anesthetized and outfitted with breathing tubes -- will have their heads locked using metal pins and clamps, and electrodes will be attached to their bodies to monitor brain and heart activity. Next, Spiridonov's head will be nearly frozen, ultimately reaching 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, which will make him temporarily brain-dead.Shouldn't it be called a body transplant? Since a person is often defined by the brain. You can read the complete procedure here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Recent additions: table-layout

Added by muesli4, Fri Apr 29 14:40:36 UTC 2016.

Layout text as grid or table.

Recent additions: darcs 2.12.0

Added by GuillaumeHoffmann, Fri Apr 29 14:39:36 UTC 2016.

a distributed, interactive, smart revision control system

MetaFilter: Wait for it.

Leslie Odom Jr. Is Not Throwing Away His Shot (SL Longform Buzzfeed)

search.cpan.org: MetaCPAN-Client-1.014000

A comprehensive, DWIM-featured client to the MetaCPAN API

Instructables: exploring - featured: Support Weak Stem in Custom Shape

This Instructables show how to shape the weak stem plant in an indoor area. Why? I start plant tomato in the office a few months ago, the stem growth very long and cannot support itself. I don't want it affect other colleague, so need to do something to control it. Preparation WireI have 1 m u...
By: 陳亮

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search.cpan.org: Pcore-v0.23.3

perl applications development environment

Perlsphere: Reflections on Test2

In a future post I will recount the details of my delightful experience at the 2016 Perl QA Hackathon. Since this is my first post since that time I do want to tip my hat to the great sponsors of the event and to my own employer ServerCentral without whom I would not have been able to attend. I will thank them in more detail in that post.

Before I get to that however, I want to post a reflection on one discussion that is and has been weighing on my mind since then. That topic is the upcoming release of Test2, which I consider to be a very important step forward for Perl’s testing architecture.

While I didn’t spend the majority of my time at the QA Hackathon thinking about Test2, I think it probably is the most important part of the event to discuss. Test2 is a major project to rewrite the guts of the venerable Perl testing library Test::Builder. Most users are blissfully unaware of Test::Builder, they use Test::More instead, but Test::More uses Test::Builder as do almost all (let’s say all) test modules.

Test::Builder draws its interface from the Test Anything Protocol (TAP). The protocol is seemingly very simple; print the number of tests you expect to run, then print ‘ok 1’ to say the first test passes and so on. I can report three passing tests by printing

ok 1
ok 2
ok 3

But most test authors don’t print their test results, they use a function like Test::More::ok to print the test result. They use something like plan or done_testing to manage the number of tests they expect. This is because it is annoying to have to keep track of the current test number, especially once you start sharing testing code.

Test::Builder, the Test::More guts, keeps an internal record of the number of tests that have been run, so that you don’t have to. While this seems useful it sows the seeds of problems that we are finally starting to understand. Test::Builder’s internal state is fundamentally important to the running of the test. This very quickly leads to the realization that all the test modules have to play nicely with Test::Builder or the count skews and your tests won’t report correctly and your test runner will see a failure.

Our problem now is that Test::Builder is showing its age. People want to write tests in different and more expressive ways. They want to use subtests (groups of tests that count together), they want to output other formats than just TAP, they want to test their test modules, they want their harness (runner) output to be pretty. Test::Builder can’t really support these things well, but that doesn’t meant that people haven’t gotten those features by hook or by crook.

My Involvement in Test2

Most readers will be aware that I am a core developer of Mojolicious and author of many related CPAN modules. Test::Mojo::Role::Phantom (I’ll refer to it as ::Phantom for brevity) is a module which combines Test::Mojo and the headless Javascript interpreter Phantom.js to greatly simplify testing of a web application’s dynamic (content). Note that via Test::Mojo::Role::PSGI these other test modules can be used to test Catalyst, Dancer, or any other PSGI-compliant application.

When it starts, it spins up a Mojolicious service on a random local port (possibly shimmed to host a PSGI app). It then forks a phantom Javascript interpreter; the child’s STDOUT is a pipe pointed back at the parent. Via this pipe the javascript can send back a JSON structure representing command to be executed back in the parent. These commands are intended to run various test functions in the parent as they come in. You might say

  perl('Test::More::is', some_selected_text, 'expected result', 'discription')

Which back in the Perl process is executed as


This mechanism works very well. While not a replacement for more dedicated front-end testing tools, helps authors who wouldn’t otherwise write any front-end tests to be able to start. But ::Phantom has some problems that I cannot directly solve.

The test script itself might only make one call to $t->phantom_ok($url, $js) but the execution of the phantom interpreter might execute several tests. In this scenario the call to phantom_ok is logically equivalent to a subtest and so it wraps the fork and subsequent listen/interpret-cycle in a subtest. However if the test fails, the failure is reported as eminating from inside phantom_ok. This problem alone wouldn’t be tremendously difficult to fix, you could simply tell Test::Builder to report test failures from a higher stack frame by doing the usual trick of

  local $Test::Builder::Level = $Test::Builder::Level + 1;

For ::Phantom however this will not help. The reason is that since the parent still has to serve the page to the client and then the parent has to listen for calls from the child’s handle, it has to perform the test inside of an IO loop. Those of you familiar with IO loops can now see the problem. Now when the test is executed the original caller’s stack frame isn’t one level above the current one. In fact the original caller isn’t (really) in the call stack at all (and certainly isn’t a predictable number of frames above it.

This means that Test::Build’s interface for this task is too limiting. Now up until Chad Granam started working on Test2 the next step would be to hack Test::Builder in one of several nasty ways. In fact many many test modules on CPAN have already done this because they had no other choice. These hacks range from mild to horrendous and can even lead to test modules which conflict with each other in strange ways or break unexpectedly when Test::More is updated seemingly innocuously.

Actually this stretches the truth; Test::More really isn’t ever updated because in practice too much breaks when that is attempted. Test::More is actually more like completely stuck, frozen by the hacks that people have perpetuated around it.

I am lucky though because Chad has been working on a replacement, Test2. You see Chad (and many others before him) have noticed this problem of people hacking Test::More and wanted a solution. Test2 has been specially (and painstakingly) written to provide public api mechanisms to replace as many of the hacks that were seen on CPAN as possible. The only reason those hacks existed was because there was no approved way to do what test modules authors needed.

In my case Test2 provides a mechanism to capture a context object from which the test successes and failures are emitted. When you think about it this is the much more natural way to tell the testing singleton what is desired. Rather than

  sub my_cool_test_ok {
  ... # arbitrary depth of calls ...
  # count the number of intervening stack frames $n
  local $Test::Builder::Level = $Test::Builder::Level + $n

You can simply do

  use Test2::API 'context';

sub my_cool_test_ok {
  my $ctx = context();
  ... # arbitrary depth of calls ...

and the tests will be reported correctly.

Test2 to the Rescue

My situation isn’t uncommon. I want to use Test::Builder in a way that wasn’t originally envisioned.

Test2 contains many such fixes for many abuse patterns, both common and uncommon. In fact the reason it has taken so long is that over the YEARS that this has been in development Chad has continued to find modules that did stranger and stranger things to Test::Builder and then found ways to support them! The Test::Builder interface doesn’t change when Test2 replaces its guts. This includes things that were never intended to be public interface but have defacto become public api over the course of all of this hacking.

There were a few cases that modules on CPAN could not be supported but most of those have now been updated to use supportable apis in Test::Builder. This leaves only a very small handful of only the most unsupportable ones. Once Test::Builder-on-Test2 hits CPAN nearly everyone will upgrade transparently thanks to this herculean effort. Not all of that praise goes to Chad as many others have submitted reports and offered suggestions and yes even held him back at times. The final product is a stunning level of backwards support that is worthy of the Perl language’s commitment to this goal.

Test2 is More Than Just A Way Forward

Here you have seen my argument for Test2 as the successor to Test::Builder from the perspective of having a more useful public api. It is important to note that this wasn’t the original motivation.

Test2 brings one other huge benefit, an event system! When you run ok using Test2 you don’t just print ‘ok $n’ anymore, you emit a passing test event. For most users this will simply be consumed by a TAP emitter and it will print ‘ok $n’, but this isn’t all you can do.

When testing Test:: modules written with Test2 no longer have to parse the TAP stream to see if they pass their own tests. Test2’s robust system of events can be watched and then compared as data structure streams. I can write tests for ::Phantom without ever having to regexp on TAP output!

We can finally test our testers!

Not only that but those event streams don’t need to emit TAP at all! Users desirous of xUnit, TeamCity or other formats no longer need to parse the output and re-emit what they need. Simply attach emitters for the preferred output and Test2 does what you need!

Why Not Opt-In?

The first response of anyone new to the situation is to ask “well can’t the test script author or at least the module author choose to opt-in rather than replace the guts transparently?” Remember up at the top of the discussion that there is this central point of knowledge of the state of the test run?

Any Test:: module can practically only target one authority, whether it be Test::Builder or Test2. Sure some module authors could provide one version of a module for each, but that places a burden on them and a cognitive load on the consumer to pick all their test modules from one pool or the other. In practice this will not occur, the inertia behind Test::Builder is too great. Test::Builder is the existing authority and it must remain as a least a view into the state of test progress for all existing tests.

This means that we are left with a question of can one authority delegate to the other? Test::Builder is too limited in its scope to continue to improve marginally, let alone be the substructure of its own replacement, it simply doesn’t have the capacity; Test2-on-Test::Builder isn’t possible.

No, from those axioms we can see that for Test2 to gain any adoption, it must replace Test::Builder in holding the authority and provide a new Test::Builder as the interface to older tests. Which leads us back to opt-in. If users have to opt-in, then tests written with and for Test2 cannot communicate with older tests, leading inevitably back to the first case of a forked ecosystem.

Now there is no gaurantee of perfection, but if you had been following this process you wouldn’t doubt the lengths to which compatibility has motivated it. I know I would have quit long long ago had it been me! At this point, most of the detractors have been converted and the few holdouts seem to mostly have the fear of the unknown for effects on the DarkPAN. Fair enough; this represents a judgement call. Perfect backwards compatibility by atrophy versus progress with some small risk almost entirely mitigated at incredible effort.

I know where I stand on that call.

The Results of Discussions at QAH

The discussions around the Test::Builder-on-Test2 centered around end-user notification. It seems that most if not all of the technical discussion has wrapped up and the code has been well reviewed.

To help the users of the few affected modules, it was decided to list ALL of the known broken modules (even those that are now fixed by upgrading from CPAN) in a documeent. This document (part of the Test2 distribtion) will tell those few affected users what they should do if they experience trouble. Further, when installing Test::Builder-on-Test2 the user will be notified if they have any existing modules which need upgrade or even replacement. Remember though, this list is very very small.

The benefits of Test2 are huge. Let’s see it make this final step and become the new backbone of Perl’s great testing infrastructure.

Recent additions: opensource

Added by ClintAdams, Fri Apr 29 14:20:14 UTC 2016.

Haskell API Wrapper for the Open Source License API

Instructables: exploring - featured: DIY highly adaptable Belt Grinder

This instructable is ment for people with experience in engineering.We used the following machines to make our belt grinder:Welding machineLaser cutter (wooden wheel and pulley)Milling machineBelt sawLatheAngle grinderIt is also possible to build the belt grinder using less machinery, but then you h...
By: Hielke Rispens

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Instructables: exploring - featured: Filament Spool Rack

This is one way to keep your 3D Printing filament spools tidy and spinning freely!We're going to make a wooden filament rack, using some wooden rod and some 3D Printed Parts!I designed mine to fit in a shelf, but you can make yours longer/taller as you like. Tools & Materials We'll need these ite...
By: srah1

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MetaFilter: Riding in Cars with Beers

Life in the last state where you can still drink and drive

MetaFilter: The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.

Inspired by a column in Nature by Melanie Stefan, Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer keeps a CV of failures (PDF); he was interviewed by NPR about it this morning. Other examples of the form include: Bradley Voytek (PDF, skip to the end), Sam Lord (PDF), Alexandra Roshchina, and Sara Rywe (PDF). For non-academic examples, look at Srinivas Rao and Monica Byrne. Ironically, Melanie Stefan's CV page does not list failures.

Hackaday: Centennial Birthday of Claude E. Shannon the Math and EE Pioneer

Dr. Claude E. Shannon was born 100 years ago tomorrow. He contributed greatly to the fields of engineering, communications, and computer science but is not a well known figure, even to those in the field. However, his work touches us all many times each day. The network which delivered this article to your computer or smartphone was designed upon important theories developed by Dr. Shannon.

Shannon was born and raised in Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering. He continued his graduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he obtained his MS and PhD. He worked for Bell Laboratories on fire-control systems and cryptography during World War II and in 1956 he returned to MIT as a professor.

shannon-0Shannon’s first impactful contribution was his masters thesis which took the Boolean Algebra work of George Boole and applied it to switching circuits (then made up of relays). Before his work there was no formal basis for the analysis of switching systems, like telephone networks or elevator control systems. Shannon’s thesis developed the use of symbolic notation to represent networks and applied simplifying rules to optimize the system. These same rules later translated to vacuum tube and transistor logic aiding in the development of today’s computer systems. The thesis — A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits — was completed in 1937 and subsequently published in 1938 in the Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

Shannon’s doctoral work continued in the same vein of applying mathematics someplace new, this time to genetics. Vannevar Bush, his advisor, commented, “It occurred to me that, just as a special algebra had worked well in his hands on the theory of relays, another special algebra might conceivably handle some of the aspects of Mendelian heredity”. Shannon’s work again is revolutionary, providing a mathematical basis for population genetics. Unfortunately, it was a step further than geneticists of time could take. His work languished, although interest increased over time.

Shannon’s best known work is a 1948 article A Mathematical Theory of Communication published while working at Bell Laboratories. We’ve written about this work previously here on Hackaday since it is so fundamental to many of our activities. This first aspect of Shannon’s work determines the theoretical limit to how much information, how many bits, can be transferred over a communications channel. The second aspect is how to use error correction codes to approach that limit. Telephone circuits, radio communications, disk to read head data transfers, and the Internet are all are impacted by Shannon’s work.

The final contribution I’ll mention is the Nyquist-Shannon Sampling Theorem. This is important because it specifies how to sample an analog signal so that it can be reproduced accurately without creating aliases. If you are using an Arduino to sample a 1,000 Hz signal the samples must be at least twice the signal rate, in this case 2,000 Hz. An interesting implication from the theorem applies when a signal of interest is not based at zero-frequency. For example, an FM radio signal at 100-102 MHz can be sampled at 4 Mhz, twice the frequency of the interval, to extract a 4 Mhz bandwidth signal for decoding.

The Hacker

In addition to his more academic achievements, Shannon tinkered, or hacked, in other areas. There is a bit of confusion whether he or Marvin Minsky, the artificial intelligence guru, created what we now call the “Useless Machine” but which Shannon named “The Ultimate Machine”. It’s clear that Shannon created a nicely polished version of the machine that turns itself off.

shannon ultimate Electrical Mouse showing how computing m shannon_maze_hr

Shannon also built a maze solving mouse. Again, the build is as nicely done as the concept. Like today’s micromouse competitions, Shannon’s mouse would work through the maze learning the pattern. It could then be placed anywhere on the maze and find its way to the end. The mouse was driven from beneath the ‘floor’ of the maze by a moving magnet. Appropriate to his MS thesis the computing mechanism is a large bank of relays. The mouse, Theseus, received attention from the press in its day.

Chess and juggling were favorite activities of Shannon so he turned his genius to creating machine versions of them. He created a W. C. Fields robot that could juggle and a relay based chess player. His analysis of an automated chess player is one of the first to address the problem.

Shannon battled Alzheimer’s disease late in life and passed away in 2001. Unfortunately he did not live to see, or understand, all the results of his achievements — especially how the impact of his work was magnified with the birth of the information age.

Filed under: Featured, History, Original Art

TOPLAP: TinyRave: social JavaScript audio snippets

Check out TinyRave, a new web app that allows you to code, create, share, and compose with small JavaScript audio snippets: http://tinyrave.com/.

TwitchFilm: Nagai Go's Android Hero Returns In CUTIE HONEY: TEARS

Last on the big screen with Neon Genesis Evangelion director Anno Hideaki's live action adaptation in 2004, Nagai Go's hugely popular manga hero Cutie Honey returns with a new adaptation from director Asai Takeshi titled Cutie Honey: Tears. The story of a female android imbued with genuine emotion who fights to protect humanity - and looks fabulous while doing it - Cutie Honey is one of the key titles from Nagai, a hugely influential manga artist also responsible for Devilman and Mazinger Z, the later of which is generally considered to have created the Super Robot sub genre of manga and anime. While this version of the story does not appear to have the same resources behind it as the Anno version Asai has a...

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

Slashdot: Supreme Court Gives FBI More Hacking Power

An anonymous reader cites an article on The Intercept (edited and condensed): The Supreme Court on Thursday approved changes that would make it easier for the FBI to hack into computers, many of them belonging to victims of cybercrime. The changes, which will take immediate effect in December unless Congress adopts competing legislation, would allow the FBI go hunting for anyone browsing the Internet anonymously in the U.S. with a single warrant. Previously, under the federal rules on criminal procedures, a magistrate judge couldn't approve a warrant request to search a computer remotely if the investigator didn't know where the computer was -- because it might be outside his or her jurisdiction. The rule change would allow a magistrate judge to issue a warrant to search or seize an electronic device if the target is using anonymity software like Tor."Unbelievable," said Edward Snowden. "FBI sneaks radical expansion of power through courts, avoiding public debate." Ahmed Ghappour, a visiting professor at University of California Hastings Law School, has described it as "possibly the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI's inception."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Computer Science: Theory and Application: Real computers have only a finite number of states, so what is the relevance of Turing machines to real computers? [with some great answers from the CSTheory community]

submitted by /u/DevFRus
[link] [comments]

Colossal: Surreal Photo Manipulations by Laurent Rosset Turn Landscapes into Giant Waves

Sky flat 1

Architect and digital artist Laurent Rosset creates sweeping photographic landscapes the seem to curl upward into infinity like an enormous wave that obliterates the sky. Rosset uses much of his own photography to create each image and enjoys discovering how even slight manipulations can vastly change the composition or meaning of a photograph. You can see more of his work on Instagram, and if you liked this also check out Aydin Buyuktas. (via Colossal Submissions)


Sea of clouds

way back

Sky flat 2

Sky flat 3

Ground is the line from where we can fly


Recent additions: thread-local-storage

Added by RyanNewton, Fri Apr 29 13:26:37 UTC 2016.

Several options for thread-local-storage (TLS) in Haskell.

All Content: Mother's Day


Do you like films that are so wildly overstuffed with characters and subplots that the finale requires a child’s life-threatening asthma attack, a karaoke-related injury and a recalcitrant vending machine to bring two characters together at last? Are you okay with movies that feature characters who are unabashedly racist, so long as they are wacky racists? Have you lain awake late at night wondering what Julia Roberts might look like if she happened to be sporting Moe Howard’s hairdo? If so, then “Mother’s Day” may just be the movie for you. If not, you should give the widest berth possible to this staggeringly incompetent blend of silliness and schmaltz—a film so awful that if one were to put up a list of the great films celebrating motherhood, it would rank considerably lower than the Gus van Sant version of “Psycho.”

This is the third film in a row from director Garry Marshall to combine a beloved holiday, multiple storylines, and casts combining large chunks of the current SAG roster, into something resembling a cross between “The Cannonball Run” and an entire season of “Love, American Style.” I must admit to sort of liking the first one, “Valentine’s Day” (2010), if only because I found it impossible to resist any film that included the likes of Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Shirley MacLaine and Taylor Swift. “New Year’s Eve” (2011), on the other hand, was as ghastly and bloated as the day it commemorated and featured an even larger cast of notables (including Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Katherine Heigl and Jon Bon Jovi) making fools of themselves. By comparison, “Mother’s Day” dials down the star factor somewhat—a mistake since without the “Hey, isn’t that ... ?” factor to serve as a distraction, it leaves viewers with more time to concentrate on the script. This is not the kind of film where you want to be doing that too much.

This time around, the characters include Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), whose picture-perfect divorce is threatened when her former husband (Timothy Olyphant) unexpectedly marries his much-younger girlfriend Tina (Shay Mitchell) and tries to include her in the lives of their two young sons. She is friends with Jessie (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke), who have both moved far away from their trailer trash parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine) and are both keeping secrets from them—Jessie is married to an Indian man named Russell (Aasif Mandvi) and has a son with him (named Tanner, yuk yuk yuk) and Gabi is married to a woman (Cameron Esposito) and has a son with her as well. Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is the hapless father to two daughters who is still reeling from the death of his wife nearly a year earlier. Meanwhile, Kristin (Britt Robertson) is a young mother who doesn’t want to marry her long-time boyfriend (Jack Whitehall), not because he is a bad stand-up comedian but because she has abandonment issues stemming from having been adopted. Finally, Miranda (Julia Roberts) is a host of a home shopping show who has no family to speak of because of her career goals, so there is obviously no way that she could be connected with any of the previously mentioned characters, so put that thought out of your mind right now.

In the past, it has been suggested that Garry Marshall does not make film for the supposedly refined palates of critics—he specializes in broad entertainment for mass audiences who are not necessarily in the mood for subtlety and introspection. This is not necessarily true—besides “Valentine’s Day,” I have enjoyed several of his past films. However, when he goes wrong, he can go spectacularly wrong (as anyone who sat through the inexplicable “Exit to Eden” and “The Other Sister” can attest) and “Mother’s Day” is as wrong as anything that he has ever done. He and the four screenwriters (three of them newcomers and the other the scribe of the deathless “Monster-in-Law”) have put their heads together to concoct a script that juggles far too many characters and plot lines. They neglect to include any moments of genuine insight about motherhood, or much of anything else for that matter.

Instead, we get the usual hacky jokes (ranging from the Sudeikis character being embarrassed when the tampons he is buying for his daughter require a price check, to a fat guy nicknamed Tiny) and equally contrived heart-to-heart moments so sitcom-y that you'll be unconsciously reaching for the remote. These jokes are occasionally interrupted by bits so insane that you cannot imagine what the writers were thinking when they were added to the script. In one, we see the lesbian couple showing off a float featuring a giant uterus they built for the upcoming Mother’s Day parade—as it turns out, there is no parade and the whole thing has just been an elaborate setup for a one-liner for a traffic cop played by Larry Miller. (It is the funniest bit, but still a bit of a reach.) In another, the stand-up comic is in a competition but his girlfriend is nowhere to be found and as a result, he has to take their baby on stage with him for his routine—even though he doesn’t actually tell a recognizable joke, he still somehow wins.

Why would so many good actors sign up for a script this dopey? My guess is that they look upon these things as the equivalent of parties where they can make an appearance, have some fun without doing much in the way of heavy lifting and get paid a lot of money in the process. Trust me, they would have been better served if Marshall had just forgone the film entirely and filmed the cast party. None of the actors are able to find a way to rise above the material, instead just plowing through in the broadest manner possible while trying not to look too obviously embarrassed. 

This weekend happens to see the wide release of two films that deal with motherhood. One is “The Meddler,” the charming movie from Lorene Scafaria, about a recent widow who moves to L.A. to be closer to her daughter and to start a new life for herself. “Mother’s Day” is the other one. The former has a few uneven moments here and there, but it is a generally charming and touching film that features Susan Sarandon’s best performance in years; it deserves to be seen. The latter is a galling waste for practically everyone involved with it. If you even think about opting for “Mother’s Day” over “The Meddler”—or practically anything else currently playing at the multiplex—then clearly your mother did not raise you right.

All Content: Keanu


“Keanu” is a pure pop confection that delights even as it proves to be wildly uneven. This big screen debut of comedic powerhouses Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as leading men highlights many of their greatest strengths, as they bounce between personas, voices, and different physicality with ease. The premise gives them the opportunity to play uptight and loose, milquetoast black men and outlandish thug stereotypes sometimes in the same scene. Their striking differences and chemistry as comedians give the film its ragged energy. But "Keanu," directed by Peter Atencio, only provides you exactly what you expect and nothing more. In many ways, it plays like a less subversive sketch from the duos magnificent, defunct show “Key and Peele," been ballooned to 98 minutes—the film’s greatest problem.

Rell (Jordan Peele) fills his empty days after a breakup with excessive weed smoking and morose lounging on his couch, surrounded by posters of films like “Heat” and “New Jack City.” When a kitten finds its way to his doorstep after escaping a crazed shootout at a drug running facility, Rell’s life finds purpose again. Soon, Rell’s grief gives way to a near-obsession with Keanu, as observed by his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key). When Keanu is kidnapped by powerful drug kingpin Cheddar (Method Man), the duo adopt the identities of the mysterious Allentown assassins they’re mistaken for in order to get close enough to get Keanu back.

“Keanu” essentially plays with the same few jokes over and over. Some of them work, like the sheer ridiculousness of every man that comes in contact with Keanu falling in love with him, the calendar that Rell shoots of Keanu reenacting various iconic films or watching Keanu bounce between moments of excessive brutality unscathed. Others, like the continual referencing of George Michael, are run into the ground. What proves to be infuriating about the film are the more fascinating avenues it chooses not to take. For example, Rell's weed dealer, Hulka (Will Forte) is a less bombastic, unrefined version of rapper Riff Raff. The various ways he adopts black culture, stylistically and verbally, are milked for maximum amount of humor while sidestepping the uncomfortable politics inherent in doing so.

One of the best aspects of “Key and Peele” was the show’s ability to produce full body laughter while grappling with the uncomfortable ideas of black identity in American culture. “Keanu” flirts with these ideas very briefly. The act of code switching is something every black person experiences on some level. The dramatic divide between how we speak when we’re at work, for example, versus the communal language of Ebonics (or African-American Vernacular English, depending on the circles you run in) around other black people is touched on. Clarence’s discomfort with taking on that guise to get Keanu back gives the film one of its few moments when it addresses the racial politics inherent in the masquerade. There’s also a very fascinating scene involving Clarence somehow able to convince Cheddar’s group of criminals of the merit of George Michael, which leads to them bonding more profoundly than expected. Under the surface of seeing these hardened drug dealers sing along to George Michael are questions about the nature of the emotional walls black men sometimes put up because of a culture that demands them to. This nods to a thematic vein dealing with the expectations of black masculinity and vulnerability, even if the script written by Peele and Alex Rubens doesn’t tap into it enough.

“Keanu” gets the braggadocio about the act the duo puts on, but the humor has a sort of weightlessness because there isn’t much thought behind it. Rell and Clarence may be more down-to-earth than the criminals they face, but they’re just as dishonest with themselves about their own emotional landscapes. That this fact isn’t grappled with all that much is an incredible failing of the film. The emotional aspects of the narrative are dropped in favor of displaying another visually bold, slow motion action sequence or reflecting on Keanu’s cuteness. We don’t see enough of Clarence and Rell’s personal lives for the film’s conclusion to work beyond being simply funny. 

Atencio's film also fails its most important female characters. Clarence’s relationship with his family, particularly his wife, Hannah (Nia Long), isn’t explored well enough for the ending of the film to feel earned. As Hannah, Long is warm, funny, and has great chemistry with Key when the filmmakers remember she exists. Cheddar’s second-in-command, Hi-C (Tiffany Haddish) is given more to do. Whenever she’s on-screen the film lights up. She authentically plays tough, street smart, and a brand of sexiness that is rooted in her own swagger more than any sort of rote objectification. But like Nia Long, Haddish isn’t woven through the film properly enough for the last minute twist and her budding relationship with Rell to completely work. And a cameo by Anna Faris, playing a doped-up, aggressive version of herself, runs far too long.

As Clarence and Rell’s masquerade unravels, so does the film, even if its core remains so sweet and tender it’s hard not to love. There is still a lot of worthwhile humor and even a few good scenes in the last half, but the messy structure works against its potential greatness. At key points, the film seems to actually be referencing another Keanu in the Keanu Reeves film, “John Wick.” “Keanu” could use some of the clever world building and strong emotional core that elevates “John Wick” beyond just being an impressively choreographed and shot action flick. Without these qualities, “Keanu” is fun, and even sometimes outright hilarious, but it doesn’t live up to the skills of its central performers. 

All Content: The Man Who Knew Infinity


We do love our male geniuses these days. Even more so, apparently, if their presence ever graced the hallowed halls of Cambridge at some point. And if they faced a major hurdle in life, such as a debilitating disease, closeted homosexuality or control freak issues? That only humanizes the bright fellow all the more. Of course, behind every great man must be a self-sacrificing woman who stands by their side or, otherwise, there would be no emotional pull to balance all that complex geek-speak chatter. No matter that the lives of many of these ladies often would provide enough material for a potentially fascinating film all on their own. 

That was certainly the case with 2014’s “The Theory of Everything,” with Eddie Redmayne in his Oscar-winning role as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, and “The Imitation Game” that same year, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch’s Oscar-nominated performance as World War II code breaker Alan Turing. And, although he was primarily a product of Silicon Valley, add 2015’s “Steve Jobs” starring the Oscar-nominated Michael Fassbender to the list.

Now arrives “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” which on the surface looks like a potentially rich variation on this smarty-pants fact-based genre. The innovator this time is Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught Indian mathematician whose contributions to the field were considered massive enough to have inspired a Google doodle on the 125th anniversary of his birth in 2012. We are told early on that he is “the most romantic figure in the recent history of mathematics,” which is quite a billing to live up to.

The details of Ramanujan’s backstory certainly have cinematic potential, including East vs. West conflicts. There’s a soap-operatic arranged marriage to a pretty wife he barely knew and a possessive mother. He was a devoted practitioner of his Hindu faith and viewed his intuitive knowledge as a God-bestowed gift. And he professed a desperate desire to allow his uncanny ability for doing seemingly impossible calculations in his head to get its full due by sailing 6,000 miles to Trinity College in Cambridge, where the very tree that held the apple that fell on Sir Isaac Newton’s head stands in the grassy courtyard.

But while “The Theory of Everything” relied on clever visuals to emblemize Hawking’s innovative thinking and “The Imitation Game” had that giant proto-computer clicking away to stand in for Turing’s ingenuity, there is little more than few scribbled equations and notebooks to convey what Ramanujan presented to the world, before dying from TB at age 32. Yes, something called partition function is explained at length. But why it matters so much and what it means in a practical sense, I could not say.

What purports to be a celebration of the power of numbers should by all rights be the opposite of math-phobic. However, the filmmakers behind “The Man Who Knew Infinity” didn’t want to make their movie feel like homework. But an account of a remarkable person should strive to be as equally remarkable as its subject, not the timid and tidy boilerplate special of a biopic that “The Man Who Knew Infinity” too often resembles.

What we are left with is a narrative that is primarily driven by its central odd-couple relationship, amid cultural clashes and bigotry. The story begins just as World War I looms as an impoverished Ramanujan (Dev Patel) works as a lowly clerk in an accounting house in his homeland. He decides to write a letter to the formidable Cambridge mathematician G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons, exuding his usual upper-class whiff of superiority but in academic form), asking to be allowed to further his pursuits at the school. Initially, a skeptical Hardy thinks the missive is a joke, even if he is tempted by the examples of the formulas inside. But his far-cuddlier colleague John Littlewood (Toby Jones) urges him to take a chance and beckon Ramanujan abroad.

At least those in charge of casting knew what they were doing when they paired Irons and Patel. Rather than the youthful unease of Patel’s “Slumdog Millionaire” breakthrough, Ramanujan requires a sense of obsessive urgency and unwavering self-confidence about his destiny. The actor captures these traits perfectly without resorting to off-putting bravado or compromising his abundant natural appeal, from his character’s purposeful stride to his insistent declarations of his belief in himself.

Meanwhile, Irons is the gawky one. His Hardy is a socially inept bachelor who is ill-suited to the role of nurturing mentor and father figure. But somehow both men learn to rise above any differences, eventually striking a mathematical balance between Ramanujan’s spontaneous intuitive approach and Hardy’s insistence on rigorous discipline and supportive proof. That helps to bolster their defense against the objections of the narrow-minded Cambridge establishment—some of whom derisively refer to Hardy’s protégé as “Gunga Din”—into accepting this outsider genius into their fold.

Eventually, war breaks out (the low-budget film somehow manages a shot of a hovering zeppelin) and a military hospital is set up on campus. Ramanujan neglects his health (he has a hard time maintaining his vegetarian diet during food rationing) while his lonely wife Janaki (Devika Bhise) pines away in India and his mother “forgets” to mail her countless letters requesting to visit him.

Naturally, a final-act triumph of sorts is all but assured. And, thanks in large part to Irons and Patel, audiences will be moved. But even they can’t hide the fact that “The Man Who Knew Infinity” is missing some essential elements in its true-story equation. Sometimes, engaging the brain can be as equally essential as touching the heart. 

All Content: The Family Fang


There’s something I’ve noticed in a couple indie pictures lately, and I’m wondering if it’s a trick that competent editors suggest to give a little oomph to movies. I’ll call it The Unnecessary In Medias Res. The movie will open on a scene of relative zippiness or suspense, ending on what’s meant to be a suggestive indeterminate note. Then a title will come on screen: “24 Hours Before,” “Two Weeks Ago,” “Three Months Ago,” or some such thing. The film will then go on, telling its narrative, and eventually it will catch up with the scene that began it. What will follow will make sense not just in the context of the larger plot but satisfy the viewer as to why the scene was put at the beginning of the movie, out of sequence, in the first place. BUT, in less accomplished movies, the viewer is left asking, why’d all this have to be in flashback?

This year I saw the device used with almost comic blatancy in the worthless thriller “Misconduct.” And it pops up again here in "The Family Fang," and proves completely unnecessary. The movie opens with a sequence made to look as if it was shot on video tape, a documentary of a little kid holding up a bank in the 1970s. There’s a twist, and it has to do with the very nature of the family cited in the title, and that twist is the first and really only effective bit of manipulation in the entire film. The “archive” footage would have made a pretty compelling opening to the movie in and of itself. Instead, the movie then cuts to a depressed-looking Nicole Kidman in a dark room watching the footage on television, popping out the cassette, and leaving the room, as the camera pans to a corkboard festooned with maps and news articles about the disappearance of a pair of once-prominent conceptual and performance artists. And then … flashback time.

Directed by co-star Jason Bateman, from a script by David Lindsay-Abaire, based on a novel by Kevin Wilson, “The Family Fang” is largely noteworthy for the specific place it locates generational resentment. Bateman and Kidman play siblings, advanced adults no longer living up to their early promise. Once a Guy-In-Your-MFA tyro novelist, Bateman’s Baxter is now years past the deadline for his next book. Kidman’s Annie, an actress, has drunk her way out of a recurring role in a lucrative superhero franchise and is reduced to being wheedled into nude scenes by abusive directors of lame indies. Where is the locus of their dysfunction? Of course, in the larger family unit: their parents, Caleb and Camille, performance/conceptual artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s who forced their kids—whom Caleb initially referred to merely as “Child A” and “Child B”—to participate in stunt-like pieces. Many of which are recreated in further flashbacks.

There’s an interesting reactionary quality in the way the movie makes conceptual art its straw man, standing in for Irresponsible Parenting By The Counterculture. I don’t know if the Revenge Of Gen X And Or Y subtext was very strong in Wilson’s novel (I can hazard a guess though, that when he was writing it, he probably envisioned Wes Anderson as the Dream Director for the film adaptation), but here it flounders just like every other aspect of the movie, including the “what really happened” plot thread of Caleb and Camille’s disappearance shortly after they rudely reintroduce themselves into their children’s lives. 

While the cast keeps its head down and reaches for genuine emotion, the movie eventually manages to sentimentalize even what it sees as its own tough-mindedness. The major exception, and the reason I’m rating this movie higher than I would otherwise, is Christopher Walken. His commitment to making Caleb as thoroughly unlikable as humanly possible yields a character who’s kind of terrifyingly off-putting even when his words and actions are ineffectual. A piece of acting alchemy of which only few are capable. I can’t imagine how powerful it might have been in a better movie. 

Slashdot: The Critical Hole At the Heart Of Our Cell Phone Networks

An anonymous reader writes: Kim Zetter from WIRED writes an intriguing report about a vulnerability at the heart of our cell phone networks. It centers around Signaling System No. 7 (SS7), which refers to a data network -- and the protocols or rules that govern how information gets exchanged over it. Zetter writes, "It was designed in the 1970s to track and connect landline calls across different carrier networks, but is now commonly used to calculate cellular billing and send text messages, in addition to routing mobile and landline calls between carriers and regional switching centers. SS7 is part of the telecommunications backbone but is not the network your voice calls go through; it's a separate administrative network with a different function." According to WIRED, the problem is that SS7 is based on trust -- any request a telecom receives is considered legitimate. In addition to telecoms, government agencies, commercial companies and criminal groups can gain access to the network. Most attacks can be defended with readily available technologies, but more involved attacks take longer to defend against. T-Mobile and ATT have vulnerabilities with fixes that have yet to be implemented for example.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

programming: Myths and Legends about Integer Overflow in Rust

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TwitchFilm: 70s Rewind: THE NICE GUYS 70s Retro Trailer Compared With Real 70s Trailers

The new 70s retro trailer for Shane Black's The Nice Guys is a lovely bit of patchwork fakery that made me instantly nostalgic. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling star. The plot doesn't matter as much as the mood and music and mystery of some kind of investigation taking place in the wilds of Hollywood in the 1970s. Not only is 70s cinema a personal sweet spot, but I grew up in Los Angeles and so ... I love this. But, memory being what it is, it made me wonder about the trailers for police and private detective stories, made in the 70s and set in 70s Los Angeles. Click through the gallery for a few examples. And please add further suggestions in the comments....

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

Planet Haskell: Dimitri Sabadie: Porting a Haskell graphics framework to Rust (luminance)

I wanted to write that new article to discuss about something important I’ve been doing for a weeks. It’s actually been a month that I’ve been working on luminance, but not in the usual way. Yeah, I’ve put my Haskell experience aside to… port luminance into Rust! There are numerous reasons why I decided to jump in and I think it could be interesting for people to know about the differences I’ve been facing while porting the graphics library.

You said Rust?

Yeah, Rust. It’s a strong and static language aiming at system programming. Although it’s an imperative language, it has interesting functional conventions that caught my attention. Because I’m a haskeller and because Rust takes a lot from Haskell, learning it was a piece of cake, even though there are a few concepts I needed a few days to wrap my mind around. Having a strong C++11/14 experience, it wasn’t that hard though.

How does it compare to Haskell?

The first thing that amazed me is the fact that it’s actually not that different from Haskell! Rust has a powerful type system – not as good as Haskell’s but still – and uses immutability as a default semantic for bindings, which is great. For instance, the following is forbidden in Rust and would make rustc – the Rust compiler – freak out:

let a = "foo";
a = "bar"; // wrong; forbidden

Haskell works like that as well. However, you can introduce mutation with the mut keyword:

let mut a = "foo";
a = "bar"; // ok

Mutation should be used only when needed. In Haskell, we have the ST monad, used to introduce local mutation, or more drastically the IO monad. Under the wood, those two monads are actually almost the same type – with different warranties though.

Rust is strict by default while Haskell is lazy. That means that Rust doesn’t know the concept of memory suspensions, or thunks – even though you can create them by hand if you want to. Thus, some algorithms are easier to implement in Haskell thanks to laziness, but some others will destroy your memory if you’re not careful enough – that’s a very common problem in Haskell due to thunks piling up in your stack / heap / whatever as you do extensive lazy computations. While it’s possible to remove those thunks by optimizing a Haskell program – profiling, strictness, etc., Rust doesn’t have that problem because it gives you full access to the memory. And that’s a good thing if you need it. Rust exposes a lot of primitives to work with memory. In contrast with Haskell, it doesn’t have a garbage collector, so you have to handle memory on your own. Well, not really. Rust has several very interesting concepts to handle memory in a very nice way. For instance, objects’ memory is held by scopes – which have lifetimes. RAII is a very well known use of that concept and is important in Rust. You can glue code to your type that will be run when an instance of that type dies, so that you can clean up memory and scarce resources.

Rust has the concept of lifetimes, used to give names to scopes and specify how long an object reference should live. This is very powerful yet a bit complex to understand in the first place.

I won’t go into comparing the two languages because it would require several articles and a lot of spare time I don’t really have. I’ll stick to what I’d like to tell you: the Rust implementation of luminance.

Porting luminance from Haskell to Rust

The first very interesting aspect of that port is the fact that it originated from a realization while refactoring some of my luminance Haskell code. Although it’s functional, stateless and type-safe, a typical use of luminance doesn’t really require laziness nor a garbage collector. And I don’t like using a tool – read language – like a bazooka. Haskell is the most powerful language ever in terms of abstraction and expressivity over speed ratio, but all of that power comes with an overhead. Even though you’ll find folks around stating that Haskell is pretty okay to code a video game, I think it will never compete with languages that are made to solve real time computations or reactive programming. And don’t get me wrong: I’m sure you can write a decent video game in Haskell – I qualify myself as a Haskeller and I’ve not been writing luminance just for the joy of writing it. However, the way I use Haskell with luminance shouldn’t require all the overhead – and profiling got me right, almost no GC was involved.

So… I look into Rust and discovered and learned the language in only three days. I think it’s due to the fact that Rust, which is simpler than Haskell in terms of type system features and has almost everything taken from Haskell, is, to me, an imperative Haskell. It’s like having a Haskell minus a few abstraction tools – HKT (but they’ll come soon), GADTs, fundeps, kinds, constraints, etc. – plus a total control of what’s happening. And I like that. A lot. A fucking lot.

Porting luminance to Rust wasn’t hard as a Haskell codebase might map almost directly to Rust. I had to change a few things – for instance, Rust doesn’t have the concept of existential quantification as-is, which is used intensively in the Haskell version of luminance. But most Haskell modules map directly to their respective Rust modules. I changed the architecture of the files to have something clearer. I was working on loose coupling in Haskell for luminance. So I decided to directly introduce loose coupling into the Rust version. And it works like a charm.

So there are, currently, two packages available: luminance, which is the core API, exporting the whole general interface, and luminance-gl, an OpenGL 3.3 backend – though it will contain more backends as the development goes on. The idea is that you need both the dependencies to have access to luminance’s features.

I won’t say much today because I’m working on a demoscene production using luminance. I want it to be a proof that the framework is usable, works and acts as a first true example. Of course, the code will be open-source.

The documentation is not complete yet but I put some effort document almost everything. You’ll find both the packages here:



I’ll write another article about how to use luminance as soon as possible!

Keep the vibe!

programming: In Reaction to Dropbox's Project Infinite, Infinit Announced Project Dropboxe

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programming: Tech Talk: Software Development in the 21st Century with Martin Fowler (full transcript)

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MetaFilter: To hijab or not to hijab

What it means to be a 'free hair' in a predominantly Muslim society This is an edited version of a conference and seminar paper presented at the National University of Singapore in March 2016 and Australian National University in April 2016

Open Culture: Watch Animated Introductions to 25 Philosophers by The School of Life: From Plato to Kant and Foucault

Philosophy as an academic subject is regularly maligned in popular discourse. Philosophy majors get told that their studies are useless. Philosophy professors find their budgets cut, their courses scrutinized, and their character grossly impeached in propagandistic religious feature films. It’s enough to make one despair over the turgid air of anti-intellectualism that stifles conversation.

But before we start pining for bygone golden ages of rigorous critical thought, let us remember that philosophers have been a thorn in the side of the powerful since the inception of Western philosophy. After all, Socrates, the ancient Greek whose name we associate with philosophy’s most basic maxims and methods, was supposedly put to death for the crime of which today’s professorate so often stand accused: corrupting the youth.

We mostly know of Socrates’ life and death through the written dialogues of his star pupil, Plato, whom Alain de Botton calls in the first video above, “the world’s first true, and perhaps greatest, philosopher.” De Botton quickly explains in his animated School of Life introduction that the core of Plato’s philosophy constitutes a “special kind of therapy” geared toward Eudaimonia, or human fulfillment and well-being. From Plato, De Botton’s series of quick takes on famous philosophers continues, moving through the Enlightenment and the 19th and 20th centuries.

Key to Plato’s thought is the critical examination of Doxa, or the conventional values and “popular opinions” that reveal themselves as “riddled with errors, prejudice, and superstition.” Plato’s most famous illustration of the profound state of ignorance in which most of us live goes by the name “The Allegory of the Cave,” and receives a retelling with commentary by De Botton just above. The parable doesn’t only illustrate the utility of philosophy, as De Botton says; it also serves as a vivid introduction to Plato’s theory of the Forms—an ideal realm of which our phenomenal reality is only a debased copy.

The dualism between the real and the ideal long governed philosophical thought, though many competing schools like the Stoics expressed a healthy degree of skepticism. But we might say that it wasn’t until Immanuel Kant, whom you can learn about above, that Plato really met his match. Along with his famous ethical dictum of the “categorical imperative,” Kant also posited two distinct realms—the noumenal and the phenomenal. And yet, unlike Plato, Kant did not believe we can make any assertions about the properties or existence of the ideal. Whatever lies outside the cave, we cannot access it through our faulty senses.

These central questions about the nature of knowledge and mind not only make philosophy an immanently fascinating discipline—they also make it an increasingly necessary endeavor, as we move further into the realm of constructing artificial minds. Software engineers and video game developers are tasked with philosophical problems related to consciousness, identity, and the possibility of ethical free choice. And at the cutting edge of cognitive science—where evolutionary biology and quantum mechanics rub elbows—we may find that Plato and Kant both intuited some of the most basic problems of consciousness: what we take for reality may be nothing of the kind, and we may have no way of genuinely knowing what the world is like outside our senses.

As 17th century French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes feared, but found impossible to believe, our perception of the world may in fact be a deceptive, if useful, illusion. Learn more about Descartes above, and see De Botton’s full School of Life philosophy series at the top of the post. Or watch the series on Youtube.

There are 25 videos in total, which let you become acquainted with, and perhaps corrupted by, a range of thinkers who question orthodoxy and common sense, including Aristotle, Epicurus, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, Arthur Schopenhauer, Albert Camus, Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Baruch Spinoza.

Related Content:

Free Online Philosophy Courses (140+ Free Courses)

6 Political Theorists Introduced in Animated “School of Life” Videos: Marx, Smith, Rawls & More

An Animated Introduction to Goethe, Germany’s “Renaissance Man”

Alain de Botton Shows How Art Can Answer Life’s Big Questions in Art as Therapy

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

Watch Animated Introductions to 25 Philosophers by The School of Life: From Plato to Kant and Foucault is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

BOOOOOOOM!: Illustrator Spotlight: Tomer Hanuka


A selection of work by New York-based illustrator Tomer Hanuka. More images below.

programming: Hello Lua! - Haxe - The Cross-platform Toolkit

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Hackaday: The Gerber Behind Gerber Files

When we create a printed circuit board, the chances are these days that we’ll export it through our CAD package’s CAM tool, and send the resulting files to an inexpensive PCB fabrication house. A marvel of the modern age, bringing together computerised manufacturing, the Internet, and globalised trade to do something that would have been impossible only a few years ago without significant expenditure.

Those files we send off to China or wherever our boards are produced are called Gerber files. It’s a word that has become part of the currency of our art, “I’ll send them the Gerbers” trips off the tongue without our considering the word’s origin.

This morning we’re indebted to [drudrudru] for sending us a link to an EDN article that lifts the lid on who Gerber files are named for. [H. Joseph Gerber] was a prolific inventor whose work laid the ground for the CNC machines that provide us as hackers and makers with so many of the tools we take for granted. Just think: without his work we might not have our CNC routers, 3D printers, vinyl cutters and much more, and as for PCBs, we’d still be fiddling about with crêpe paper tape and acetate.

An Austrian Holocaust survivor who escaped to the USA in 1940, [Gerber] began his business with an elastic variable scale for performing numerical conversions that he patented while still an engineering student. The story goes that he used the elastic cord from his pyjamas to create the prototype. This was followed by an ever-more-sophisticated range of drafting, plotting, and digitizing tools, which led naturally into the then-emerging CNC field. It is probably safe to say that in the succeeding decades there has not been an area of manufacturing that has not been touched by his work.

So take a look at the article, read [Gerber]’s company history page, his Wikipedia page, raise a toast to the memory of a great engineer, and never, ever, spell “Gerber file” with a lower-case G.

Filed under: classic hacks, cnc hacks

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Maria Kreyn


A selection of paintings by Russian-born, New York-based artist Maria Kreyn. More images below.

BOOOOOOOM!: Artist Spotlight: Paolo Del Toro


Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based artist Paolo Del Toro’s collaboration with photographer Tifani Truelove, Baba of the Woods, is a wonderfully odd combination of sculpture, costume and photography. See more images from the series and selections of Del Toro’s handiwork below.

BOOOOOOOM!: New Work by Artist Vasilis Avramidis


We posted a selection of paintings by artist Vasilis Avramidis back in January (click here for previous post). Avramidis’ latest is on display for the first time in the United States at Slete Gallery in Los Angeles. Check out more images below.

Slashdot: Obesity 'Explosion' In Young Rural Chinese A Result Of Socioeconomic Changes, Study Warns

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Obesity has rapidly increased in young rural Chinese, a study has warned, because of socioeconomic changes. Researchers found 17% of boys and 9% of girls under the age of 19 were obese in 2014, up from 1% for each in 1985. The 29-year study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, involved nearly 28,000 students in Shandong province. The study said China's rapid socioeconomic and nutritional transition has led to an increase in energy intake and a decrease in physical activity. The data was taken from six government surveys of rural school children in Shandong aged between seven and 18. The percentage of overweight children has also grown from 0.7% to 16.4% for boys and from 1.5% to nearly 14% for girls, the study said. "It is the worst explosion of childhood and adolescent obesity that I have ever seen," Joep Perk from the European Society of Cardiology told AFP news agency.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

TwitchFilm: Review: SING STREET Tunes Into 1980s Pop Music

“Any guy who says he started playing guitar for any other reason than meeting girls is lying.” That's not an exact quote, but it's the gist of what some rock star once said. I was thinking it was either John Mellencamp, or maybe Tom Petty. But the internet is telling me otherwise. Fact of the matter is, I don't remember who originally spouted that pearl of wisdom I've been carrying for decades, but cut me some slack – I'm getting old. Old enough, at least, to remember the 1980's rock 'n' roll scene. Old enough to have been enamored with the novelty and electricity of early music videos. Old enough to identify with the ringing authenticity of Sing Street – an utterly charming coming of...

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

CreativeApplications.Net: 75000 Futures – The algorithmic failures and impossible futures

75000 Futures_07Created by Gunnar Green and Bernhard Hopfengärtner, '75000 Futures' assembles 240 stock charts which were produced by the 2010 flash crash and collected and named by a company that streams and stores realtime market data.

Hackaday: Connect All Your IoT Through Your Pi 3

If you’re playing Hackaday Buzzword Bingo, today is your lucky day! Because not only does this article contain “Pi 3” and “IoT”, but we’re just about to type “ESP8266” and “home automation”. Check to see if you haven’t filled a row or something…

Seriously, though. If you’re running a home device network, and like us you’re running it totally insecurely, you might want to firewall that stuff off from the greater Interwebs at least, and probably any computers that you care about as well. The simplest way to do so is to keep your devices on their own WiFi network. That shiny Pi 3 you just bought has WiFi, and doesn’t use so much power that you’d mind leaving it on all the time.

Even if you’re not a Linux networking guru, [Phil Martin]’s tutorial on setting up the Raspberry Pi 3 as a WiFi access point should make it easy for you to use your Pi 3 as the hub of your IoT system’s WiFi. He even shows you how to configure it to forward your IoT network’s packets out to the real world over wired Ethernet, but if you can also use the Pi 3 as your central server, this may not even be necessary. Most of the IoT services that you’d want are available for the Pi.

Those who do want to open up to the world, you can easily set up a very strict firewall on the Pi that won’t interfere with your home’s normal WiFi. Here’s a quick guide to setting up iptables on the Pi, but using even friendlier software like Shorewall should also get the job done.

Still haven’t filled up your bingo card yet? “Arduino!”

Filed under: Raspberry Pi

Open Culture: How Steely Dan Wrote “Deacon Blues,” the Song Audiophiles Use to Test High-End Stereos

Every Steely Dan fan remembers the first time they listened to their music — not just heard it, but listened to it, actively taking notice of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s complexly anachronistic lyrics (long scrutinized by the band’s exegetes), jazz-and-rock-spanning compositional technique, ultra-discerning selection of session musicians, and immaculate studio craft which, by the standards of the 1970s, raised popular music’s bar through the ceiling.

Often, that first real listening session happens in the neighborhood of a high-end stereo dealer. For me, the album was Two Against Nature, their turn-of-the-21st century comeback, but for many more, the album was Aja, which came out in 1977 and soon claimed the status of Steely Dan’s masterpiece. At the end of side one comes “Deacon Blues,” one of their best-loved songs as well as a production that puts audiophile listening equipment to the test. You can see a breakdown of what went into it in Nerdwriter’s new video “How Steely Dan Composes a Song” above.

“There’s a reason why audiophiles use Steely Dan records to test the sound quality of new speakers,” says host Evan Puschak. “The band is among the most sonically sophisticated pop acts of the 20th and 21st centuries,” in both the technical and artistic senses. He goes on to identify some of the signature elements in the mix, including something called the “mu major cord”; the recording methods that allow “every instrument its own life” (especially those played by masters like guitarist Larry Carlton and drummer Bernard Purdie); the striking effect of “middle register horns sliding against each other”; and even saxophone soloist Pete Christlieb, whom Becker and Fagen discovered by chance on a Tonight Show broadcast.

Puschak doesn’t ignore the lyrics, without a thorough analysis of which no discussion of Steely Dan’s work would be complete. He mentions the band’s typically wry, sardonic tone, their detached perspective and notes of uncertainty, but in the case of this particular song, it all comes with a “hidden earnestness” that makes it one of the most poignant in their entire catalog. “‘Deacon Blues’ is about as close to autobiography as our tunes get,” admits Fagen in the television documentary clip just above, which puts him and Becker back into the studio to look back at the song track by isolated track.

“We’re both kids who grew up in the suburbs. We both felt fairly alienated. Like a lot of kids in the fifties, we were looking for some kind of alternative culture — some kind of escape, really — from where we found ourselves.” Becker describes the song’s eponymous protagonist, who dreams of learning to “work the saxophone” in order to play just how he feels, “drink Scotch whiskey all night long, and die behind the wheel,” as not a musician but someone who “just sort of imagines that would be one of the mythic forms of loserdom to which he might aspire. Who’s to say that he’s not right?”

You can learn even more about the making (and the magic) of “Deacon Blues” in Marc Myers’ interview with Becker and Fagen in the Wall Street Journal last year. “It’s the only time I remember mixing a record all day and, when the mix was done, feeling like I wanted to hear it over and over again,” says Becker. “It was the comprehensive sound of the thing.” Fagen acknowledges “one thing we did right” in the making of the song: “We never tried to accommodate the mass market. We worked for ourselves and still do.”

Related Content:

Producer Tony Visconti Breaks Down the Making of David Bowie’s Classic “Heroes,” Track by Track

The Distortion of Sound: A Short Film on How We’ve Created “a McDonald’s Generation of Music Consumers”

Neil Young on the Travesty of MP3s

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. 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.

How Steely Dan Wrote “Deacon Blues,” the Song Audiophiles Use to Test High-End Stereos 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.

Hackaday: Refreshable Braille Display and Braille Keyboard

Only about 10% of blind people around the world can read Braille. One primary reason is the high cost of Braille displays. The cost is a result of their complexity and reliability – required to ensure that they are able to handle wear and tear.

[Vijay] has been working since 3 years on a Refreshable Braille Display but has only recently been able to make some substantial progress after teaming up with [Paul D’souza]. During his initial experiments, he used dot matrix printer heads, but the current version uses tiny vibration motors as used in mobile phones. He’s converting rotary motion of the tiny motors in to linear movement for pushing the Braille “cell” pins up and down. The eccentric weight on the vibration motor is replaced with a shaped cam. Continuous rotation of the cam is limited by a stopper, which is part of the 3D printed housing that holds the motors. Another 3D printed part has three cam followers, levers, springs and Braille pins rolled in one piece, to create half a Braille cell. Depending on the cam position, the pins are either pushed up or down. One Braille cell module consists of two cam follower pieces, a housing for six vibration motors, and a cover plate. Multiple modules are chained together to form the display.

The next step would be to work on the electronics – in particular ensuring that he is able to control the motor movement in both directions in a controlled manner. Chime in with your comments if you have any ideas. The 3D design files are available from his Dropbox folder.

braille_03 braille_04 braille_08 braille_05

The other complementary project he is working on is the Braille Keyboard – a tactile input device that can be used along with smart phones, tablets, and computers. He’s based the design around an Arduino micro with BLE for connection to a smartphone and a USB port for computer use. The device will be battery powered, and housed in a 3D printed case. It will have a set of 12 main buttons and 4 direction buttons contoured and positioned to help make typing easier, while a vibration motor will provide haptic feedback. A speech option is also planned to pronounce each character as it is typed. This one is still pretty much on the drawing board, but we do hope he takes it forward over the next few months to build and test some prototypes.


The HackadayPrize2016 is Sponsored by:

Filed under: The Hackaday Prize

Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.04.29

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Open Culture: Noam Chomsky Defines What It Means to Be a Truly Educated Person

There may be no more contentious an issue at the level of local U.S. government than education. All of the socioeconomic and cultural fault lines communities would rather paper over become fully exposed in debates over funding, curriculum, districting, etc. But we rarely hear discussions about educational policy at the national level these days.

You’ll hear no major political candidate deliver a speech solely focused on education. Debate moderators don’t much ask about it. The United States’ founder’s own thoughts on the subject are occasionally cited—but only in passing, on the way to the latest round of talks on war and wealth. Aside from proposals dismissed as too radical, education is mostly considered a lower priority for the nation’s leaders, or it’s roped into highly charged debates about political and social unrest on university campuses.

This situation can seem odd to the student of political philosophy. Every major political thinker—from Plato to John Locke to John Stuart Mill—has written letters, treatises, even major works on the central role of education. One contemporary political thinker—linguist, anarchist, and retired MIT professor Noam Chomsky—has also devoted quite a lot of thought to education, and has forcefully critiqued what he sees as a corporate attack on its institutions.

Chomsky, however, has no interest in harnessing education to prop up governments or market economies. Nor does he see education as a tool for righting historical wrongs, securing middle class jobs, or meeting any other  agenda.

Chomsky, whose thoughts on education we’ve featured before, tells us in the short video interview at the top of the post how he defines what it means to be truly educated. And to do so, he reaches back to a philosopher whose views you won’t hear referenced often, Wilhelm von Humboldt, German humanist, friend of Goethe and Schiller, and “founder of the modern higher education system.” Humboldt, Chomsky says, “argued, I think, very plausibly, that the core principle and requirement of a fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create constructively, independently, without external controls.” A true education, Chomsky suggests, opens a door to human intellectual freedom and creative autonomy.

To clarify, Chomsky paraphrases a “leading physicist” and former MIT colleague, who would tell his students, “it’s not important what we cover in the class; it’s important what you discover.” On this point of view, to be truly educated means to be resourceful, to be able to “formulate serious questions” and “question standard doctrine, if that’s appropriate”…. It means to “find your own way.” This definition sounds similar to Nietzsche’s views on the subject, though Nietzsche had little hope in very many people attaining a true education. Chomsky, as you might expect, proceeds in a much more democratic spirit.

In the interview above from 2013 (see the second video), you can hear him discuss why he has devoted his life to educating not only his paying students, but also nearly anyone who asks him a question. He also talks about his own education and further elucidates his views on the relationship between education, creativity, and critical inquiry. And, in the very first few minutes, you’ll find out whether Chomsky prefers George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. (Hint: it’s neither.)

Related Content:

1200 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

Noam Chomsky Spells Out the Purpose of Education

Nietzsche Lays Out His Philosophy of Education and a Still-Timely Critique of the Modern University (1872)

Henry Rollins: Education is the Cure to “Disaster Capitalism”

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

Noam Chomsky Defines What It Means to Be a Truly Educated Person 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.

Quiet Earth: Interview with PANDEMIC Writer Dustin T. Benson

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

Earlier this month, John Suits' first-person apocalypse thriller Pandemic saw release. While in my review I lamented that it's becoming harder and harder to impress with zombie fare in a world jammed packed with it, I still found the film's POV approach did add an interesting new flavour to the sub genre and there were some punchy moments of both intense action and creepy suspense that stood out.

After seeing the film, I reached out to writer Dustin T. Benson to ask some questions abo [Continued ...]

Open Culture: Peter Frampton Plays a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, Featuring Acoustic Versions of His Classic Songs

Having recently released a new album featuring acoustic versions of his big hits, Peter Frampton is now back on tour, playing in some smaller venues across the U.S. But no venue–not the Gillioz Theatre in Springfield, Missouri, nor the Tobin Center for Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas–is quite as small as the one we’re featuring today. Above, watch Frampton perform at the desk of NPR’s All Songs Considered. The performance is part of NPR’s Tiny Desk series, and the setlist includes acoustic versions of “Baby, I Love Your Way,” “Lines On My Face,” and “All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side).” Other recent Tiny Desk performances include Graham Nash, Wilco, Natalie Merchant, and Ben Folds. Enjoy.

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

Peter Frampton Plays a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, Featuring Acoustic Versions of His Classic Songs 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.

Computer Science: Theory and Application: CompSci Weekend SuperThread (April 29, 2016)

/r/compsci strives to be the best online community for computer scientists. We moderate posts to keep things on topic.

This Weekend SuperThread provides a discussion area for posts that might be off-topic normally. Anything Goes: post your questions, ideas, requests for help, musings, or whatever comes to mind as comments in this thread.


  • If you're looking to answer questions, sort by new comments.
  • If you're looking for answers, sort by top comment.
  • Upvote a question you've answered for visibility.
  • Downvoting is discouraged. Save it for discourteous content only.


  • It's not truly "Anything Goes". Please follow Reddiquette and use common sense.
  • Homework help questions are discouraged.
submitted by /u/AutoModerator
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Instructables: exploring - featured: 18 Magnet Projects to Get You Super Organized

Harness the power of magnets to your advantage!They are incredibly useful when you’re trying to get organized, whether it’s managing a tangle of power cords, keeping your kitchen workspace clean, or preventing the dreaded experience of losing your house keys. Magnetic Spice Rack The Ultimate M...
By: xxlauraxx

Continue Reading »

Quiet Earth: Danish PA Thriller WHAT WE BECOME Gets Release Date!

Some good news for us fans of apocalyptic. The Danish thriller What We Become which made a big splash at Fantastic Fest last year is getting a release!

The movie, which we originally thought to be a quarantine thriller, is actually an apocalyptic tale about a family trying to survive after the outbreak of an unknown virus which is wreaking havoc on the population.

What We Become was picked up by IFC Midnight which is giving it am appropriate release on a Friday the 13. The movie is scheduled for a theatrical release in NY and LA and will also be available on VOD on May 13.

[Continued ...]

Quiet Earth: Mark Strong Gets Lost in Space in APPROACHING THE UNKNOWN [Trailer]

A man on a one way mission to Mars runs into trouble along the way. Instead of following protocol, he decides to take the mission into his own hands after all, when you're likely to die, why not do what you want to?

That's the basic premise of Mark Elijah Rosenberg's feature film debut. It's a familiar tale of mental breakdown in space but Approaching the Unknown has something, or rather someone, on it's side that most other movies don't: the great Mark Strong.

Along with Strong who plays the Captain William D. Stanaforth, the sole astronaut on the mission, the movie also stars Owen Wilson as his mission control contact. There's a bit more information floating around online but considering what's included in the trailer, most of it could be considered spoilers and frankly, [Continued ...]

Perlsphere: Stand up and be counted: Annual MongoDB Developer Survey

If you use Perl and MongoDB, I need your help. Every year, we put out a survey to developers to find out what languages they use, what features they need, what problems they have, and so on.

We have very few Perl responses. ☹️

Be an ally! Take the MongoDB Developer Experience Survey.


programming: Compiling an application for use in highly radioactive environments

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Disquiet: Disquiet Junto Project 0226: Bucky Ball


Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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. 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.

This project was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, April 28, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 2, 2016.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0226: Bucky Ball
Compose music for a fictional greatest-hits collection of the electronic music of R. Buckminster Fuller.

This week’s project is based on an imaginary scenario. The electronic music of legendary architect, inventor, and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller is being compiled. You will make music for that compilation — music you imagine Buckminster Fuller might himself have composed. Thanks to C. Reider (actually, a dream that Reider had) for inspiring the project.

Step 1: Imagine there will be a collection of the electronic music of legendary architect, inventor, and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller.

Step 2: Compose and record a piece of music that you imagine Fuller might have created.

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

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 was posted in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, April 28, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 2, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you, though between two and five minutes feels about right.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0226.” Also use “disquiet0226” as a tag for your track.

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, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 226th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Compose music for a fictional greatest-hits collection of the electronic music of R. Buckminster Fuller”) at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Join the Disquiet Junto at:


Subscribe to project announcements here:


Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:


Project inspired by a dream that C. Reider of Vuzh Music had:


Image of album cover created for this project is by Brian Scott of Boon Design:


Open Culture: Young Patti Smith Rails Against the Censorship of Her Music: An Animated, NSFW Interview from 1976

The latest installment from Blank on Blank‘s series of animated videos drops us inside the bohemian Portobello Hotel in London. It’s May, 1976, and we hear a young Patti Smith railing against the censorship of her music, using some colorful–that is to say, NSFW–words. She talks Rimbaud. The poetry and combat of rock. The dreams and hallucinations that feed her music. The stuff that would eventually earn her the cred to be called The Godmother of Punk.

The audio is part of a longer, two-hour interview with Mick Gold, which is available through Amazon and iTunes. Enjoy.

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

Related Content:

Patti Smith’s List of Favorite Books: From Rimbaud to Susan Sontag

Patti Smith’s Cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Strips the Song Down to its Heart

Watch Patti Smith Read from Virginia Woolf, and Hear the Only Surviving Recording of Woolf’s Voice

Patti Smith Reads Her Final Words to Robert Mapplethorpe

Young Patti Smith Rails Against the Censorship of Her Music: An Animated, NSFW Interview from 1976 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.

TwitchFilm: STRIKE A POSE: Watch The Trailer For Madonna Dancer Documentary

Directors Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaans hit something of a gold mine with the subject matter for their documentary Strike A Pose. The Dutch duo gained access to all of the surviving dancers who backed up Madonna nightly on her Truth Or Dare tour - the highly controversial tour known for championing gay rights but one which, as we learn, took a very particular emotional toll on those involved. Here's how the Tribeca film festival described it: To the fans they were the unforgettably sleek, talented, and beautiful men that helped support the career of one of the world's most beloved and controversial music artists. But behind the scenes they were Kevin, Oliver, Luis, Carlton, Jose, Gabriel, and Salim; a diverse, impressionable group of young...

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

Electronics-Lab: 3W Stereo Audio Amplifier using TDA7266D


Tiny stereo audio amplifier board has been designed around SMD TDA7266D IC from ST. The TDA7266D is a dual bridge amplifier specially designed for Portable Audio, LCD TV/Monitor, PC Motherboard, and TV applications. This circuit provides high quality audio output of 3W approx. on each channel with standard audio signal input. The circuit works with 3.5V to 5V. Due to low supply input this amplifier is suitable for small size audio gadgets and portable audio applications like MP3 player, Voice messaging system, Warning signals, Annunciator etc.


  • Supply voltage range 3.5 to 5v (maximum supply 5v due to small pcb and small thermal area)
  • Output power 3+3w @thd = 10%, rl = 8ω, vcc = 3.7v (3w approx.)
  • Single supply
  • Minimum external components no svr capacitor no bootstrap no boucherot cells internally fixed gain
  • Mute functions (jumper close)
  • Short circuit protection
  • Thermal overload protection

3W Stereo Audio Amplifier using TDA7266D – [Link]

The post 3W Stereo Audio Amplifier using TDA7266D appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Planet Lisp: Zach Beane: New version of ZS3 supports AWS4 auth

I just published ZS3 1.2.8. It’s available on my website and will be in the next Quicklisp dist update in May. The main difference is support for the latest AWS authentication system. This makes ZS3 work properly with the latest AWS regions like Frankfurt and Seoul.

If you have any trouble using it, please let me know!

(This work was for a paying customer; if you are interested in specific updates and features in ZS3 or any of my other software, get in touch.)

Quiet Earth: Ray Harryhausen Documentary Hits Blu-ray in June [Trailer]

The remarkable career of the movie industry's most admired and influential special-effects auteur, the legendary Ray Harryhausen, is the subject of Gilles Penso's definitive documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan.

The documentary features interviews with the man himself, Ray Harryhausen, as well as Randy Cook, Peter Jackson, Nick Park, Phil Tippet, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren, John Landis, Guillermo del Toro, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and many more.

These filmmakers, who today push the boundaries of special effects movie-making, pay tribute to the father of Stop Motion animation [Continued ...]

CreativeApplications.Net: MIMPI – Mobile interactive multiparametric image

MIMPI_01Created by Moscow based duo Stain, MIMPI (mobile interactive multiparametric image) is an experiment combining abstract generative image and simple multiuser interactivity.

Colossal: Ancient Skeleton Mosaic Uncovered in Turkey Reads “Be Cheerful and Live Your Life”


Archaeologists in Turkey recently unearthed an exceptionally preserved mosaic inside the remains of a building from the 3rd century. One section of the three-panel artwork includes a reclining skeleton with an arm over its head, holding a glass of wine and resting an elbow on a loaf of bread. On both sides of its head reads the phrase “Be cheerful and live your life,” written in Greek. The purpose of the building surrounding the mosaic, and even when it was made is currently being debated. Some experts believe the triptych was simply the floor of a wealthy person who could afford to have it built, while others think it might be a message in a soup kitchen urging people to get their food quickly and leave. The History Blog has a great analysis and quite a bit more background if you’re interested. (via The History Blog)


Computer Science: Theory and Application: Looking for a video series on computer organization

I'm looking for a video series that covers intermediate level computer organization because I need to brush up on assembler and low level stuff for work. Does anyone have any recommendations?

submitted by /u/Poles_Apart
[link] [comments]

Quiet Earth: BSG's James Callis Investigates Murder in THE HOLLOW [Trailer]

Written and directed by Miles Doleac and starring James Callis (Battlestar Galactica), The Hollow looks like a sweaty southern chronicle of the murder of a senator’s daughter in Mississippi.

The film also stars Christiane Seidel (Boardwalk Empire), Jeff Fahey (Lost), William Sadler (Iron Man 3), William Forsythe (Boardwalk Empire), Miles Doleac (Containment) and David Warshofsky (Now You See Me).

Official Synopsis:
When a U.S. congressman's daughter passing through a small town in Mississippi dies in a mysterious triple homicide, a team of F.B.I. agents descends to investigate, the team's brilliant but jaded lead agent battling demons both past and present, as his beautiful, tough-as-nails partner tries to hold him and [Continued ...]

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Why?

Hovertext: They came from space and went to Portland.

New comic!
Today's News:

Colossal: Artist Mimics Japanese ‘Kintsugi’ Technique to Repair Broken Vases with Embroidery


Brighton-based artist Charlotte Bailey was fascinated by the traditional Japanese mending technique called kintsugi, where a broken ceramic object is repaired with gold, silver or platinum, to accentuate the damage and ‘honor’ its history. In her own interpretation, Bailey devised a unique embroidery method to reassemble a broken vase—a sort of hybrid between kintsugi and darning with a beautiful result. She first wraps each broken piece in fabric and then uses gold metallic thread to painstakingly patchwork the pieces together. While the process isn’t meant to make the vase functional again, it does produce a striking sculptural object. We’d love to see many more of these. You can follow more of her embroidery work on Facebook.






OCaml Planet: Heidi Howard: Do you want a shed or a castle?

I have seen the error of my (programming) ways. Let me explain…

To me, programming in OCaml is like trying to build a house from just breeze blocks. It takes a long time to build even a simple shed. However. when its done, its really quite solid.

To me, programming in Go is like building a house from an array of complex pre-build components. In the blink of an eye, you have an amazing castle, complete with turrets and ornate window frames.

You open the door to your beautiful new castle and it all fails down. Each time you rebuild one part, another falls down.

You are full of regrets as you sleep in the wreckage of your fallen castle and wish for a solid shed.

Another fallen castle – rod collier [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Yours truly,

Someone fighting to hold up a fallen castle

EDIT: here’s  some more example of what a falling castle looks like

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 14.46.46

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 14.52.34

Michael Geist: Voltage Pictures Launches Canadian File Sharing Lawsuit With Reverse Class Action Strategy

Voltage Pictures, which previously engaged in a lengthy court battle to require Canadian ISPs to disclose the names of alleged file sharers, has adopted a new legal strategy. This week, the company filed an unusual application in federal court, seeking certification of a reverse class action against an unknown number of alleged uploaders of five movies using BitTorrent (The Cobbler, Pay the Ghost, Good Kill, Fathers and Daughters, and American Heist). The use of reverse class actions is very rare in Canada (only a few have been reported). There were attempts to use the mechanism in copyright claims in the U.S. several years ago without success.

The Voltage filing seeks certification of the class, a declaration that each member of the class has infringed its copyright, an injunction stopping further infringement, damages, and costs of the legal proceedings. Voltage names as its representative respondent John Doe (linked to a Rogers IP address). It admits that it does not know the names or identifies of any members of its proposed class, but seeks to group anyone in Canada who infringed the copyright on one of the five movies. Voltage does not say how many people it has identified as infringing its copyright. It urges the court to issue an order to stop the infringement and to assess damages to be paid by each person.

The case raises many questions, most notably whether a reverse class action can be used an effective technique to target copyright infringement. Class actions typically involve a representative plaintiff who represents many others who have suffered the same harms from the actions of the defendant. Reverse class actions feature a single plaintiff (Voltage) and multiple defendants (the alleged file sharers). The most comprehensive examination of reverse class actions in Canada I could find comes from Ian Leach, who notes that while the strategy has rarely been used, there have been a few such cases in Ontario (the federal court rules have similar provisions).

There are several barriers to starting a reverse class action. In 2013, an Oregon court dismissed a similar Voltage lawsuit, concluding that the company “was unfairly using the court’s subpoena power in a “reverse class-action suit” to save on legal expenses and possibly to intimidate defendants into paying thousands of dollars for viewing a movie that can be bought or rented for less than $10.” Another reverse class action was tossed in U.S. federal court in Illinois in 2011, with the judge expressing concern that the case was little more than a “fishing expedition.” A New York Law School Review note comprehensively canvasses the issue from a U.S. perspective, arguing that the cases cannot be certified under U.S. law and that they raise significant issues of fairness.

One of the biggest concerns involves questions of representation for the defendant class. Before certification, the court will want assurance that the interests of the defendants will be fairly represented. But who will represent those interests? Who will pay for the legal counsel?  Unlike a plaintiff-led class action, where lawyers are often willing to invest in the case, there is no payoff at the end of this case and finding someone to represent the class will be a challenge when the only named representative is John Doe #1. If the representation issue is addressed, there will be additional concerns related to commonality (there may be a common copyright claim, but the defences may differ) and identification of the scope of the class, which appears to be indefinite.

Beyond the certification challenges, one of the primary barriers to reverse class actions is that defendants have the option of opting out of the class. This suggests that even if certified, any and all defendants will have the right to opt-out. In other words, after going through the process of trying to meet the requirements for class proceedings, all the defendants will be permitted to simply walk away.

Opting-out will pose its own sets of challenges as defendants will presumably want to have their anonymity safeguarded if they choose to opt-out. Voltage may be counting on the possibility of self-identification as a deterrence against opting out, but the court could establish a mechanism to allow for full exercise of the right to opt-out without being forced to disclose personal identity. The privacy issue related to the identification of the individuals is a separate matter that has its own process under Canadian law.

Class action experts may be able to shed more light on the issues related to a reverse class action, but at first glance this Voltage lawsuit is a puzzling strategy that should face stiff opposition from courts concerned with procedural fairness and appropriate representation of the interests of all class members.

The post Voltage Pictures Launches Canadian File Sharing Lawsuit With Reverse Class Action Strategy appeared first on Michael Geist.

BOOOOOOOM!: Ultimate List of all the Best Art + Photo Tumblrs to Follow



*Update April 28th 2016 – We are continuing to update this list, removing Tumblrs that are no longer updated very frequently, and adding more as they are submitted. Please read the text below before submitting your Tumblr for consideration! Thank you all for the help, this has become an amazing resource – let’s keep it going!


I am compiling an extensive list of all the art and photography Tumblrs worth following. I would love your help to make this the ultimate list! Please leave a comment below with your suggestions and I will update this list with the best suggestions.

This list will focus as much as possible on Tumblrs that survey new work by different people and credit the creators of the images. Please do not submit Tumblrs that only focus on one person’s work (ie. your own personal portfolio) or mood boards that do not make any effort to link back to the source of the work.

Please share this with friends, the more input we have the better this resource will be!








































































































































+ + +


Leave a comment / Suggest a Tumblr to add!


Computer Science: Theory and Application: Stanford researchers develop a drone app that can safely follow any Google Earth camera path [SIGGRAPH 2016]

submitted by /u/mikeroberts3000
[link] [comments]

Perlsphere: The end of modulelist permissions

Andreas König and I have been working to remove the modulelist permissions from the PAUSE database. At the QA Hackathon we worked through the remaining cases, where relevant reviewing them with RJBS, and most of them were removed on the last day of the QAH. Following the QAH we've resolved the last handful, so there are no longer any 'm' permissions in 06perms.txt. This means that the relevant parts of PAUSE can be removed, and a number of modules can be simplified.

New Humanist Blog: Black hole blues

For a century, scientists have tried to solve the riddles posed by Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.04.28

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Disquiet: The Blur of Music Discovery

I’ve written a bit about my confusion regarding the continued fortitude of the word “discovery” as it relates to automated, generally algorithm-derived music recommendations on streaming services. My sense is that the primary beneficiary of “discovery” is less the individuals that hear the music than the companies vying for those individuals’ attention, and not so much for their attention as, far more neutrally, their presence on the given service. There’s a difference between attention and competitive benefit. Apple Music doesn’t really care much if you’re really listening closely; it just cares that you’re using Apple Music and not using Spotify or Deezer or Google Play Music or another service.

There’s a long-running quip about how “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” but in fact writing about music is, as it relates to many people’s listening habits, more like writing about wallpaper, or writing about perfume, or writing about lighting, or writing about something else that describes a largely inattentive, passive presence in one’s life, something more akin to casual cultural affinity than to strong feelings, let alone to matters of art.

In any case, this comes to mind because yesterday I wrote about Dominions, the phenomenal new album of synthesis by Sarah Davachi, and the day prior I wrote about “Loop1,” a track of restrained drones by Valiska (aka Krzysztof Sujata). What I didn’t realize until after I posted the Davachi write-up is that Davachi and Valiska know each other — and in fact are playing a concert together on May 5 at a place called Good Luck Bar in Calgary, Canada. Now, I know for a fact that the Davachi has been in my to-write-about bookmark folder for awhile, so it wasn’t simply a matter of having written about “Loop1” by Valiska, I then happened upon Davachi. And I’ve written about Valiksa, a longtime Junto participant, at least as long ago as 2012, so neither was it a matter of my Davachi listening having introduced me to him. In any case, I have no idea how this coincidence occurred, but the blur gets, innocently, at the myriad ways that musicians connect with each other and with audiences, leading to awareness that can be difficult to trace back, even if your browser’s cache and history remain intact. The pair’s music has little in common, and yet there is this association.

Perhaps the two posts in a row simply is a coincidence, but today’s post isn’t. When I mentioned the pairing on Twitter I got a reply from the third act on the Good Luck Bar bill, a duo called SH-2000, which consists of Barnaby Bennett and Patrick Whitten. It was Bennet who wrote to me (“maybe you can write about us in SH-2000 to round out the bill coverage? ;)”). They have a recent album out, Shhh (2015) that’s available for stream and purchase. Be sure, as well, to check out this video, titled “Oblique Quantumization,” by Bennett (and M. Geddes Gengras). It randomly plays through a variety of brief combinations of blippy synthesis and test-pattern visuals. The combination is quite hallucinogenic, at times disturbing, in a Saturday-morning pre-cartoon surveillance-state sort of way, and at other times quite elegant and entrancing:

More on the video at barnabybennett.snack.ws. More from Bennett at soundcloud.com/barnaby-bennett.

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): To Be or Not To Be: the Prince of Denmark Meets Katherine Minola

A play is really only complete when it's produced on the stage: director, actors, designers all add new levels of meaning. What makes one production of a play different from another? What are the different challenges the actors face?

Penny Arcade: News Post: Opposite Day

Tycho: It’s possible that we just don’t get Paragon; it’s also possible there’s nothing there to get.  The aesthetic is so dry and clean that it’s hard to find purchase on it.  You slip off of it, and fly away. Because I know there are Kingkiller Chronicle enthusiasts among you - we are counted in this number also, regardless of any comics we might have made - I thought you might want to know about the Tak Kickstarter.  That is, of course, a game people play inside his books, the way players of Wakfu and Dofus used to play Krosmaster until Krosmaster…

Perlsphere: Groom That Yak

Here's a super quick one.

So, for giggles I'm learning Swift. And for practice, I'm using exercism.io. A few hours ago, I wrote my first test and stuff:

$ swiftc *.swift; and ./main 
Test Suite 'All tests' started at 00:22:13.561
Test Suite 'hamming.xctest' started at 00:22:13.562
Test Suite 'HammingTest' started at 00:22:13.562
Test Case 'HammingTest.testNoDifferenceBetweenEmptyStrands' started at 00:22:13.562
Test Case 'HammingTest.testNoDifferenceBetweenEmptyStrands' passed (0.0 seconds).
Test Case 'HammingTest.testNoDifferenceBetweenIdenticalStrands' started at 00:22:13.562
Test Case 'HammingTest.testNoDifferenceBetweenIdenticalStrands' passed (0.0 seconds).
Test Case 'HammingTest.testCompleteHammingDistanceInSmallStrand' started at 00:22:13.563
Test Case 'HammingTest.testCompleteHammingDistanceInSmallStrand' passed (0.0 seconds).
Test Case 'HammingTest.testSmallHammingDistanceInMiddleSomewhere' started at 00:22:13.563
Test Case 'HammingTest.testSmallHammingDistanceInMiddleSomewhere' passed (0.0 seconds).
Test Case 'HammingTest.testLargerDistance' started at 00:22:13.563
Test Case 'HammingTest.testLargerDistance' passed (0.0 seconds).
Test Case 'HammingTest.testReturnsNilWhenOtherStrandLonger' started at 00:22:13.563
HammingTest.swift:39: error: HammingTest.testReturnsNilWhenOtherStrandLonger : XCTAssertNil failed: "1" - Different length strands return nil
Test Case 'HammingTest.testReturnsNilWhenOtherStrandLonger' failed (0.0 seconds).
Test Case 'HammingTest.testReturnsNilWhenOriginalStrandLonger' started at 00:22:13.563
HammingTest.swift:44: error: HammingTest.testReturnsNilWhenOriginalStrandLonger : XCTAssertNil failed: "1" - Different length strands return nil
Test Case 'HammingTest.testReturnsNilWhenOriginalStrandLonger' failed (0.0 seconds).
Test Suite 'HammingTest' failed at 00:22:13.563
        Executed 7 tests, with 2 failures (0 unexpected) in 0.0 (0.0) seconds
Test Suite 'hamming.xctest' failed at 00:22:13.563
        Executed 7 tests, with 2 failures (0 unexpected) in 0.0 (0.0) seconds
Test Suite 'All tests' failed at 00:22:13.563
        Executed 7 tests, with 2 failures (0 unexpected) in 0.0 (0.0) seconds

That's fine, but holy wall of text, Batman... It's not the worst thing I ever had to peer at (I'm looking at you, all and every java logging system ever conceived), but it's still not the most readable thing ever.

So... I'm probably re-inventing a perfectly fine wheel existing somewhere else (and if I am, please enlight me in the comment section), but I blurped a quick tool called groom. The idea is to define regexes in a config file to act on lines that I have colored or altered.

For example, for those Swift test results I created the following groom.yaml rule file.

# show the testcase names in glorious green
    "^Test Case":
        eval: |
            s/(?<=')(+)/colored [ 'green' ], $1 /e;
        fallthrough: 1
# remove the 'started' lines altogether
- started: 
    eval: $_ = ''
# victory or defeat, unicoded and colored
- passed: 
    color: blue
    only_match: 1
    eval: s/^/✔ /
- failed: 
    color: red
    only_match: 1
    eval: s/^/❌ /
# final lines underlined for emphasis
    "^\s+Executed": rgb202 underline

Which gives me

groomed screenshot

Purty, eh?

Planet Haskell: wren gayle romano: Hacking projects over the next few months

Life’s been really hectic lately, but I’ve been getting (slowly) back into working on my Haskell packages. In particular, since the switch from darcs to github I’ve started getting more comments and feature requests, which is nice. Over the next half-year or so, here’s what I’ll be up to in my free time between work on the dissertation and work on Hakaru:

containers — I’ve been appointed one of the new co-maintainers of our favorite venerable library. I prolly won’t be doing any major work until autumn (as mentioned when I was appointed), but I’ve had a number of conversations with David Feuer about where to take things in terms of cleaning up some old maintenance cruft.

bytestring-trie — A few years back I started reimplementing my tries to use Bagwell’s Array Mapped Tries in lieu of Okasaki’s Big-Endian Patricia Tries, but then got stalled because life. I’ve started up on it again, and it’s just about ready to be released after a few more tweaks. Also, now that I’m working on it again I can finally clear out the backlog of API requests (sorry folks!).

exact-combinatorics — A user recently pointed me towards a new fast implementation of factorial making waves lately. It’s not clear just yet whether it’ll be faster than the current implementation, but should be easy enough to get going and run some benchmarks.

unification-fd — This one isn’t hacking so much as dissemination. I have a backlog of queries about why things are the way they are, which I need to address; and I’ve been meaning to continue the tutorial about how to use this library for your unification needs.

logfloat — We’ve been using this a lot in Hakaru, and there are a few performance tweaks I think I can add. The main optimization area is trying to minimize the conditionals for detecting edge cases. The biggest issue has just been coming up with some decent benchmarks. The problem, of course, is that most programs making use of logfloats do a lot of other work too so it can be tricky to detect the actual effect of changes. I think this is something Hakaru can help a lot with since it makes it easy to construct all sorts of new models.

comment count unavailable comments

Planet Haskell: Philip Wadler: Paul Graham on Writing, Briefly

Thanks to Arne Ranta for introducing me to Writing, Briefly by Paul Graham.
I think it's far more important to write well than most people realize. Writing doesn't just communicate ideas; it generates them. If you're bad at writing and don't like to do it, you'll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated. 
As for how to write well, here's the short version: Write a bad version 1 as fast as you can; rewrite it over and over; cut out everything unnecessary; write in a conversational tone; develop a nose for bad writing, so you can see and fix it in yours; imitate writers you like; if you can't get started, tell someone what you plan to write about, then write down what you said; expect 80% of the ideas in an essay to happen after you start writing it, and 50% of those you start with to be wrong; be confident enough to cut; have friends you trust read your stuff and tell you which bits are confusing or drag; don't (always) make detailed outlines; mull ideas over for a few days before writing; carry a small notebook or scrap paper with you; start writing when you think of the first sentence; if a deadline forces you to start before that, just say the most important sentence first; write about stuff you like; don't try to sound impressive; don't hesitate to change the topic on the fly; use footnotes to contain digressions; use anaphora to knit sentences together; read your essays out loud to see (a) where you stumble over awkward phrases and (b) which bits are boring (the paragraphs you dread reading); try to tell the reader something new and useful; work in fairly big quanta of time; when you restart, begin by rereading what you have so far; when you finish, leave yourself something easy to start with; accumulate notes for topics you plan to cover at the bottom of the file; don't feel obliged to cover any of them; write for a reader who won't read the essay as carefully as you do, just as pop songs are designed to sound ok on crappy car radios; if you say anything mistaken, fix it immediately; ask friends which sentence you'll regret most; go back and tone down harsh remarks; publish stuff online, because an audience makes you write more, and thus generate more ideas; print out drafts instead of just looking at them on the screen; use simple, germanic words; learn to distinguish surprises from digressions; learn to recognize the approach of an ending, and when one appears, grab it.

new shelton wet/dry: Cause we’re the party people night and day

The Devil looks you in the eyes and offers you a bet. Pick a number and if you successfully guess the total he’ll roll on two dice you get to keep your soul. If any other number comes up, you go to burn in eternal hellfire. You call “7” and the Devil rolls the dice. A two [...]

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

12-year-old girl runs NY half-marathon by mistake Scientists discover fourth state for water molecules This paper explores the psychoanalyst’s dilemmas in treating a man who came for analysis as a self-identified compulsive liar. Although most people agree that there is such a phenomenon as intuition, involving emotionally charged, rapid, unconscious processes, little compelling evidence supports this notion. [...]

Colossal: Amorphous Technicolor Blobs That Appear to Ooze From Gallery Shelves by Dan Lam


All images via Dan Lam

Covered in tiny, multicolored spikes of acrylic paint, Dan Lam's oozing sculptures seem nearly radioactive, glowing as if lit by some unnatural source. The pieces are intended to sit at the edge of a ledge or against a wall, appearing to be pulled by gravity towards the earth. To create these alien-like beings Lam uses polyurethane foam and epoxy resin as a base. Letting the foam grow on its own, she guides the form only slightly, letting drips happen organically.

Lam produced the series as a part of a continued study of beauty and disgust—dually attracting and repelling those that come in contact with her sculptures. “I take cues from nature, food, and the human body,” Lam told The Creator’s Project. “By not directly referencing one thing in particular, I try to create something that addresses both attraction and repulsion, making objects that exist in-between.”

You can see more of Lam’s neon spiked sculptures and drippy forms on her Instagram. (via Booooooom)












LLVM Project Blog: LLVM Foundation 2016 Announcements

With 2016 upon us, the LLVM Foundation would like to announce our plans for the year. If you are not familiar with the LLVM Foundation, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports the LLVM Project and its community. We are best known for our LLVM Developers’ Meetings, but we are introducing several new programs this year. 

The LLVM Foundation originally grew out of the need to have a legal entity to plan and support the annual LLVM Developers’ Meeting and LLVM infrastructure. However, as the Foundation was created we saw a need for help in other areas related to the LLVM project, compilers, and tools. The LLVM Foundation has established 3 main programs: Educational Outreach, Grants & Scholarships, and Women in Compilers & Tools.

Educational Outreach 

The LLVM Foundation plans to expand its educational materials and events related to the LLVM Project and compiler technology and tools. 

First, the LLVM Foundation is excited to announce the 2016 Bay Area LLVM Developers’ Meeting will be held November 3-4 in San Jose, CA. This year will be the 10th anniversary of the developer meeting which brings together developers of LLVM, Clang, and related projects. For this year’s meeting, we are increasing our registration cap to 400 in order to allow more community members to attend.

We also are investigating how we can support or be involved in other conferences in the field of compilers and tools. This may include things such as LLVM workshops or tutorials by sponsoring presenters, or providing instructional materials. We plan to work with other conference organizers to determine how the LLVM Foundation can be helpful and develop a plan going forward.

However, we want to do more for the community and have brainstormed some ideas for the coming year. We plan to create some instructional videos for those just beginning with LLVM. These will be short 5-10 minute videos that introduce developers to the project and get them started. Documentation is always important, but we find that many are turning to videos as a way to learn. 

Grants & Scholarships

We are creating a grants and scholarships program to cover student presenter travel expenses to the LLVM Developers’ Meetings. However, we also hope to expand this program to include student presenter travel to other conferences where the student is presenting their LLVM related work. Details on this program will be published once they have been finalized. 

Women in Compilers & Tools

Grace Hopper invented the first compiler and yet women are severely underrepresented in the field of compilers and tools. At the 2015 Bay Area LLVM Developers’ Meeting, we held a BoF on this topic and brainstormed ideas about what can be done. One idea was to increase LLVM awareness at technical conferences that have strong female participation. One such conference is the Grace Hopper Conference (GHC). The LLVM Foundation has submitted a proposal to present about LLVM and how to get involved with the LLVM open source community. We hope our submission is accepted, but if not, we are exploring other ways we can increase our visibility at GHC. Many of the other ideas from this BoF are being considered and actionable plans are in progress.

In addition, to these 3 programs, we will continue to support the LLVM Project’s infrastructure. The llvm.org server will move to a new machine to increase performance and reliability.  

We hope that you are excited about the work the LLVM Foundation will be doing in 2016. Our 2016 Plans & Budget may be viewed here. You may also contact our COO & President, Tanya Lattner (tanyalattner@llvm.org) or the LLVM Foundation Board of Directors (board@llvm.org).

Daniel Lemire's blog: We know a lot less than we think, especially about the future.

The inventors of the airplane, the Wright brothers, had little formal education (3 and 4 years of high school respectively). They were not engineers. They were not scientists. They ran a bicycle repair shop.

At the time of their invention, there was quite a bit of doubt as to whether airplanes were possible. It is hard to imagine how people could doubt the possibility of an airplane, but many did slightly over a century ago.

Lord Kelvin famously said that “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible” back in 1895.

But that is not all. The American government had nonetheless funded an illustrious Physics professor, Samuel Langley with millions of dollars in today’s currency so that he would build an airplane. The man had written the textbook on aeronautic at the time.

Langley failed miserably. This lead the illustrious New York Times to publish this prediction:

flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years

It is likely at this point that many experts would have agreed with the New York Times. Flying was just not possible. We had given large sums to the best and smartest people. They could not make a dent in the problem. We had the greatest scientists in the world stating openly that flying was flat out impossible. Not just improbable, but impossible.

Yet only a few days later, with no government grant, no prestigious degree, no credential whatsoever, the Wright brothers flew an heavier-than-air machine. That was 1903.

In the first Word War of 1914, only ten years later, both camps used war planes.

The story is worse than I make it sound because even after the Wright brothers did fly… it took years for the Americans to notice. That is, people did not immediately recognize the significance of what the Wright brothers demonstrated.

You think we are smarter now and such silliness would not happen.

Here is what Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO said about the iPhone when it came out…

it [the iPhone] doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine. Right now we’re selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year, Apple is selling zero phones a year.

That was 2007. Today Apple sells about 60 million iPhones per month. How many phones does Microsoft sell? How many Microsoft phones have you seen lately?

To be fair, it is true that most new ideas fail. We get a new cure for Alzheimer’s every week. The fact that we get a new one every week is a pretty good indication that it is all hype. But the real lesson is not that we cannot break through hard problems. The true lesson is that we know a lot less than we think, especially about the future.

Pessimism is the easy way out. Asked about any new idea, I can simply say that it is junk. And I will be right 99% of the time. We obsess about not being wrong when, in fact, if you are not regularly wrong, you are simply not trying hard enough. What matters is that you are somehow able to see the important things as they are happening. Pessimists tend to miss everything but the catastrophes.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Cognitive Decline

Hovertext: Interestingly, YOU'RE getting dumber too!

New comic!
Today's News:

Hey Patreon patrons-- tomorrow's comic will be posted a bit late, since I've got a bad stomach flu. Sorry! 

Penny Arcade: Comic: Opposite Day

New Comic: Opposite Day

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: While discussing reality...

Tea Masters: Spring in Alishan

Tai-He village
Today, I've added the first spring 2016 Oolongs to my selection. This season is delayed by 2 weeks approximately, compared to last year. The Jinxuan Oolongs have already been harvested and now they are starting to pick the Qingxin Oolong in Alishan.
The Oolong harvest starts at the bottom!
I'll post more pictures and will add more teas next week. In the meantime, I'm going to a tea culture fair in Emei Shan, Sichuan Province!

Perlsphere: Perl 5 Porters Mailing List Summary: April 14th-27th

Hey everyone,

Following is the p5p (Perl 5 Porters) mailing list summary for two weeks I've missed. Sorry about that. Enjoy!

April 14th-27th

Correction: Previous summary stated that Perl #121734 was resolved. It was not. Thanks, Tony, for the correction!

Edit: Vincent Pit notes that there was no discussion about extracting parts of Scope::Upper (as suggested in the summary), but instead there was a single comment on writing a subset of it. This post was corrected. Thank you, Vincent.

News and updates

A lot has happened during these two weeks since the previous summaries went out.

Ricardo Signes stepped down from the role of the Perl Pumpking. Feel free to offer words of praise and thanks.

Sawyer X is the next pumpking.

Ricardo Signes released Perl 5.24.0-RC3. You can read more in the release announcement.

Dave Mitchell provides grant #2 reports #123 and #124 available here. Most of his time was spent on getting Scope::Upper to work on Perl 5.23.8 and above.

Tony Cook provides grant 7's 3rd and 4th.

More from Tony Cook, a summary of the March grant work.


New issues

Resolved issues

  • Perl #113644: Panic error in perl5db.pl.
  • Perl #125584: Mysterious taint issue in Bugzilla4Intranet.
  • Perl #127709: Documentation problem with links and perlpod, podchecker.
  • Perl #127894: -DDEBUGGING -Dusequadmath -Dusethreads builds crash early.
  • Perl #127899: Extra slash in perldelta example in 5.22.2-RC1 and 5.24.0-RC1 confusing.
  • Perl #127936: sprintf typo in 5.24 perldelta.

Proposed patches

Jim Keenan provides a patch for Perl #127391 in order to move forward with the documentation issue.

John Lightsey provided a patch in Perl #127923 to add blacklist and whitelist functionality to Locale::Maketext.

Jerry D. Hedden provided patches to upgrade threads to 2.06, Thread::Queue to 3.08, and threads::shared to 1.51.

Yves Orton provided a patch for Perl #123562, a problem with regular expressions possibly hanging on CPU 100%, which is considered a security problem.

Aaron Crane provided a patch for RT #100183, but since 5.24 is already at RC releases, it is frozen and the patch will get in on version 5.25. You can read Aaron's comment here.

Matthew Horsfall provided a patch relating to Perl #126579, warnings about newlines in open.

Matthew Horsfall also provided a patch for Perl #124050, t/harness.t can mistakenly run tests outside the perl source tree.

Aristotle Pagaltzis provided a patch to clean up Module::CoreList.

Aristotle also provided a patch to fix Perl #127981.


Todd Rinaldo raised RT#127810 to provide a -Dfortify_inc Configure option to control the current directory appearing in @INC. The conversation around it continued further.

Zefram provides a detailed explaination about an observation made by Slaven Rezić in Perl #127909.

Sisyphus raised a confusing bit of documentation, which was fixed and backported to 5.22.

Sisyphus also asks about the binary name expected for make.exe. Bulk88 explains that it is easier to have it called gmake.exe to know what options it supports, and Leon Timmermans suggests it is possible to address it.

Dave Mitchell discussed his work on Scope::Upper. It seems Dave was able to get most of it working, but due to how the module works, Dave does not believe any sensible API can be shield the module from breakage. One comment surfaced the idea of writing a subset of its functionality.

Maxwell Carey asks what could cause a problem described on Stack Overflow with a failure to print.

In an email to the list, Sisyphus asks about the current state of ExtUtils::MakeMaker with relation to the current version in blead vs. CPAN.

The conversation about changing how the signatures feature worked with relation to @_ started by Dave Mitchell continues. Ricardo Signes provided a summary of Zefram's position and his conclusions.

Karl Williamson suggests POSIX::set_locale refusing to switch to a locale we know will cause a libc crash.

Smylers asks in Perl #122551 whether Term::ReadLine should not use Term::ReadLine::Perl as the default.

The conversation in Perl #127232 continues. You can read more here.

Renée Baecker mentions that perllol still reflects autoderef, which was removed, and should be updated.

Ed Avis suggested in Perl #127993 to add version control conflict markers, so Perl could warn you correctly when you forgot merge conflict markers in your code.

new shelton wet/dry: Sticks and stones may break my bones

Thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster, it has become clear that radioactivity might be less harmful than originally thought. Some researchers even believe it may be beneficial in small doses. […] After Chernobyl, horrific victim projections made the rounds. A very small risk, multiplied by 600 million Europeans, resulted in hundreds of thousands additional cancer [...]

Electronics-Lab: Raspberry Pi Web Server using Flask to Control GPIOs


In this article “Rui Santos” shows us how to configure Raspberry Pi as server and use it to toggle two LEDs over the internet.

In this project you’ll create a standalone web server with a Raspberry Pi that can toggle two LEDs. You can replace those LEDs with any output (like a relay or a transistor). In order to create the web server you will be using a Python microframework called Flask.

Raspberry Pi Web Server using Flask to Control GPIOs – [Link]

The post Raspberry Pi Web Server using Flask to Control GPIOs appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Electronics-Lab: Hot rods keep the die cool


Clemens Valens @ elektormagazine.com shows us a new IC Package that keeps the IC cool.

Texas Instruments’ HotRod QFN is a thermally enhanced plastic package with solder lands on all sides as well as power buses for enhanced current carrying capability. Inside the package the die is mounted on a copper lead frame which eliminates the power wire bonds, improving electrical and thermal performance. This technique also improves application efficiency and minimizes package parasitic radiation.

Hot rods keep the die cool – [Link]

The post Hot rods keep the die cool appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Electronics-Lab: 0.8A step-up DC/DC converters in a tiny package


Torex Semiconductor’s XC9141/XC9142 series of 0.8A step-up DC/DC converters come with an input–output disconnection function (load disconnection function) to prevent malfunctioning during standby, and for device functionality that enables power supply to RTC.

When the output voltage is 3.3V, the IC can start from an input voltage of 0.9V with a resistance load of 100Ω, enabling use in devices driven by one alkaline or nickel-hydrogen battery. The input voltage range is 0.65V to 6.0V, and the output voltage range can be set from 1.8V to 5.5V (accuracy ±2.0%) in steps of 0.1V. A switching frequency of 1.2MHz or 3.0MHz can be selected to match the application.

0.8A step-up DC/DC converters in a tiny package – [Link]

The post 0.8A step-up DC/DC converters in a tiny package appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Electronics-Lab: App note: Transformers


All about transformers and its different uses in this application note from Murata.

App note: Transformers – [Link]

The post App note: Transformers appeared first on Electronics-Lab.

Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.04.27

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Genetics and Poetics

Christian Bök has done something no other writer has ever done: as part of his recent project, "The Xenotext", he's enciphered a poem into a micro-organism, which then "rewrote" that poem as part of its biological response.

Disquiet: The Synthesis of Sarah Davachi


Sarah Davachi’s phenomenal new album, Dominions, was recorded largely on old-model synthesizers and something known as the Orchestron, an instrument from the 1970s that plays from a library of sounds that are stored as an optical recording. The album’s five tracks explore various territories, among the more sedate being the churchly “Ordinal,” in which held chords shift to an indeterminate meter as various notes are introduce and removed. “Burgundy” begins in a similar space, its burgeoning atmospheric drone resembling early Terry Riley or La Monte Young, but as it proceeds it gets more and more busy, coming to sound like a symphony of car horns. It’s as if the listener first hears it from afar, several blocks away, and then slowly approaches, and by approaching comes to understand the chaos that was mistaken, from a distance, as calm.

The opening piece, “Feeler,” has the sound of truncated vocal snippets, the extended vowel given texture by the endless tiny appearances of a seam where the end of the sample meets with the start of it replaying. Beneath this is a layer of texture, maybe tape, maybe vinyl, maybe just the room in which it was recorded. Like “Burgundy” it gains mass and detail as it moves forward. Those are just three of the tracks of Dominion’s five. The whole thing is quite strong.

Album available at sarahdavachi.bandcamp.com. More from Sarah Davachi, who is based in Montréal, Québec, at sarahdavachi.com.

Penny Arcade: News Post: Acquisitions Inc!

Gabe: The D&D game we played on Sunday was bonkers. We flipped the script so to speak and I took over the DM seat from Chris Perkins who played as Drizzt Do’Urden. I ran an hour long game and then handed the reigns to my friend Patrick Rothfuss who finished out the evening. We did all of this live on stage in front of a few thousand folks with another twenty thousand (at least) watching on Twitch. You can watch it right here. I’d like to take a second here and thank you all once again for my ridiculous job. I played my very first game of Dungeons and Dragons in 2008 and I did it on a…

CreativeApplications.Net: Three Machines on Transparency – Pursuing philosophical concepts as functional prototypes

d762-gallery_view-m1280Created by Jasna Dimitrovska as a part of her Digital Media – HfK Bremen, Master Theses, Three Machines on Transparency is comprised of three machines that by own demonstration allow the artist to synthesise philosophical concepts of different forms+ideas of transparency into the corporeality.

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: While discussing ex-boyfriends...

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: While discussing superheroes...

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A physicist, chemist, and an economist are on a train...

Hovertext: Meanwhile, in the humanities, we would like to see a bit less whimsy.

New comic!
Today's News:

Disquiet: The Sonic Artifacts of Threshold Breach

Valiska is Krzysztof Sujata of Calgary, Canada, and “Loop1” is a gentle, restrained drone. It is part synthesizer, and seemingly part vocalized, and it grows with intensity until it risks being shattered. It ends where it starts, a floating whir, not unlike one of Robert Fripp’s tape loops filigrees, but in between it goes from gentle to lush to dense to the point where the tension frays the sounds themselves. At around three and a half minutes into the nearly six-minute run the repeated melodic line is superimposed with static, with noisy scintillate, with strong feedback. It’s as if the loop tools have been pushed passed their capacity, and we experience that threshold breach as a series of sonic artifacts. The noise subsides in time for the gentle aspect of the loop to re-emerge, but it sounds different now, the noise having receded but its memory coloring how the subsequent the quietness is experienced.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/valiska. More from Valiska at valiska.com and twitter.com/TheValiska.

Trivium: 26apr2016

Michael Geist: Canadian Officials Admit TPP IP Policy Runs Counter To Preferred National Strategy

Today is World IP Day, which marks the creation of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Canadian policy has long preferred the use of international bodies like WIPO to advance its IP objectives, yet the intellectual property provisions in recently concluded trade deals such as the TPP and CETA run counter to Canadian strategy. That isn’t just the opinion of the many critics of those agreements. It is what government officials told International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland as part of her briefing materials.

The briefing document on intellectual property and the trade agenda, released under the Access to Information Act, leaves little doubt that trade officials are well aware that the Canadian position on IP in the TPP is inconsistent with our preferred position and that it will lead to IP trade deficits. The document states:

Canada’s preferred strategy is to establish international IP rules through multilateral forums such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, in the context of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Canada negotiated trade obligations that, while reflective of recent domestic reforms, are beyond those standards set through multilateral forums, and which will likely require amendments to domestic practice, such as in the areas of geographical indications (GIs) and patent protection for pharmaceuticals.

The position within the government bears repeating: the TPP and CETA go beyond international standards and require changes to Canadian law. Indeed, as critics have consistently argued, the Canadian IP approach on the TPP is a loss for Canada. Again, here is what Canadian officials advised Minister Freeland:

Canada provides a high level of protection and enforcement for IP. However, key trading partners such as the United States and European Union can be expected to be critical of Canadian policy, particularly with regard to their export interests in the copyright and pharmaceutical sectors where their view of the appropriate policy balance differs from Canada. Canada is a net importer of IP meaning that there is a net loss on intellectual tech transfer and patent licensing payments as well as a trade deficit in IP-intensive industries.

The briefing continues by acknowledging that Canada has accepted IP requirements that exceed multilateral benchmarks in the TPP and CETA. Officials anticipate that these demands for further change will continue.

What is particularly striking about the briefing materials is that they are entirely consistent with criticism of the TPP and the argument that the IP provisions do not serve Canada’s national interest. Canadian officials plainly state that Canada faces a net loss in technology transfers and patent licensing payments as well as a trade deficit in IP intensive industries. Yet despite the express acknowledgement of the situation by Canada’s own trade officials (and the obvious awareness of Canadian leaders), they not only agreed to those provisions, they expect more of the same in the future.

The post Canadian Officials Admit TPP IP Policy Runs Counter To Preferred National Strategy appeared first on Michael Geist.

OCaml Weekly News: OCaml Weekly News, 26 Apr 2016

  1. Question about Optimization
  2. OCaml release 4.03.0
  3. Other OCaml News

OCaml Planet: Caml Weekly News: OCaml Weekly News, 26 Apr 2016

  1. Question about Optimization
  2. OCaml release 4.03.0
  3. Other OCaml News

Volatile and Decentralized: Why I gave your paper a Strong Reject

Also see: Why I gave your paper a Strong Accept.

I'm almost done reviewing papers for another conference, so you know what that means -- time to blog.

I am starting to realize that trying to educate individual authors through my witty and often scathing paper reviews may not be scaling as well as I would like. I wish someone would teach a class on "How to Write a Decent Goddamned Scientific Paper", and assign this post as required reading. But alas, I'll have to make do with those poor souls who stumble across this blog. Maybe I'll start linking this post to my reviews.

All of this has probably been said before (strong reject) and possibly by me (weak accept?), but I thought I'd share some of the top reasons why I tend to shred papers that I'm reviewing.

(Obligatory disclaimer: This post represents my opinion, not that of my employer. Or anyone else for that matter.)

The abstract and intro suck. By the time I'm done reading the first page of the paper, I've more or less decided if I'm going to be reading the rest in a positive or negative light. In some cases, I won't really read the rest of the paper if I've already decided it's getting The Big SR. Keep in mind I've got a pile of 20 or 30 other papers to review, and I'm not going to spend my time picking apart the nuances of your proofs and evaluation if you've bombed the intro.

Lots of things can go wrong here. Obvious ones are pervasive typos and grammatical mistakes. (In some cases, this is tolerable, if it's clear the authors are not native English speakers, but if the writing quality is really poor I'll argue against accepting the paper even if the technical content is mostly fine.) A less obvious one is not clearly summarizing your approach and your results in the abstract and intro. Don't make me read deep into the paper to understand what the hell you're doing and what the results were. It's not a Dan Brown novel -- there's no big surprise at the end.

The best papers have really eloquent intros. When I used to write papers, I would spend far more time on the first two pages than anything else, since that's what really counts. The rest of the paper is just backing up what you said there.

Diving into your solution before defining the problem. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Many papers go straight into the details of the proposed solution or system design before nailing down what you're trying to accomplish. At the very least you need to spell out the goals and constraints. Better yet, provide a realistic, concrete application and describe it in detail. And tell me why previous solutions don't work. In short -- motivate the work.

Focusing the paper on the mundane implementation details, rather than the ideas. Many systems papers make this mistake. They waste four or five pages telling you all about the really boring aspects of how the system was implemented -- elaborate diagrams with boxes and arrows, detailed descriptions of the APIs, what version of Python was used, how much RAM was on the machine under the grad student's desk.

To first approximation, I don't care. What I do care about are your ideas, and how those ideas will translate beyond your specific implementation. Many systems people confuse the artifact with the idea -- something I have blogged about before. There are papers where the meat is in the implementation details -- such as how some very difficult technical problem was overcome through a new approach. But the vast majority of papers, implementation doesn't matter that much, nor should it. Don't pad your paper with this crap just to make it sound more technical. I know it's an easy few pages to write, but it doesn't usually add that much value.

Writing a bunch of wordy bullshit that doesn't mean anything. Trust me, you're not going to wow and amaze the program committee by talking about dynamic, scalable, context-aware, Pareto-optimal middleware for cloud hosting of sensing-intensive distributed vehicular applications. If your writing sounds like the automatically-generated, fake Rooter paper ("A theoretical grand challenge in theory is the important unification of virtual machines and real-time theory. To what extent can web browsers be constructed to achieve this purpose?"), you might want to rethink your approach. Be concise and concrete. Explain what you're doing in clear terms. Bad ideas won't get accepted just because they sound fancy.

Overcomplicating the problem so you get a chance to showcase some elaborate technical approach. A great deal of CS research starts with a solution and tries to work backwards to the problem. (I'm as guilty of this, too.) Usually when sitting down to write the paper, the authors realize that the technical methods they are enamored with require a contrived, artificial problem to make the methods sound compelling. Reviewers generally aren't going to be fooled by this. If by simplifying the problem just a little bit, you render your beautiful design unnecessary, it might be time to work on a different problem.

Figures with no descriptive captions. This is a minor one but drives me insane every time. You know what I mean: A figure with multiple axes, lots of data, and the caption says "Figure 3." The reviewer then has to read deep into the text to understand what the figure is showing and what the take-away is. Ideally, figures should be self-contained: the caption should summarize both the content of the figure and the meaning of the data presented. Here is an example from one of my old papers:

Isn't that beautiful? Even someone skimming the paper -- an approach I do not endorse when it comes to my publications -- can understand what message the figure is trying to convey.

Cursory and naive treatment of related work. The related work section is not a shout-out track on a rap album ("This one goes out to my main man, the one and only Docta Patterson up in Bezerkeley, what up G!"). It's not there to be a list of citations just to prove you're aware of those papers. You're supposed to discuss the related work and place it in context, and contrast your approach. It's not enough to say "References [1-36] also have worked on this problem." Treat the related work with respect. If you think it's wrong, say so, and say why. If you are building on other people's good ideas, give them due credit. As my PhD advisor used to tell me, stand on the shoulders of giants, not their toes.

Volatile and Decentralized: Why I gave your paper a Strong Accept

See also: Why I gave your paper a Strong Reject

I know this blog is mostly about me complaining about academics, but there's a reason I stay engaged with the research community: I learn stuff. Broadly speaking, I think it's incredibly important for industry to both stay abreast of what's going on in the academic world, as well as have some measure of influence on it. For those reasons, I serve on a few program committees a year and do other things like help review proposals for Google's Faculty Research Award program.

Apart from learning new things, there are other reasons to stay engaged. One is that I get a chance to meet and often work with some incredible colleagues, either professors (to collaborate with) or students (to host as interns and, in many cases, hire as full-time employees later on).

I also enjoy serving on program committees more than just going to conferences and reading papers that have already been published. I feel like it's part of my job to give back and contribute my expertise (such as it is) to help guide the work happening in the research community. Way too many papers could use a nudge in the right direction by someone who knows what's happening in the real world -- as a professor and grad student, I gained a great deal from my interactions with colleagues in industry.

Whenever I serve on a program committee, I make it a point to champion at least a couple of papers at the PC meeting. My colleagues can attest to times I've (perhaps literally) pounded my fist on the table and argued that we need to accept some paper. So to go along with my recent post on why I tend to mark papers as reject, here are some of the reasons that make me excited to give out a Strong Accept.

(Disclaimer: This blog represents my personal opinion. My employer and my dog have nothing to do with it. Well, the dog might have swayed me a little.)

The paper is perfect and flawless. Hah! Just kidding! This never happens. No paper is ever perfect -- far from it. Indeed, I often champion papers with significant flaws in the presentation, the ideas, or the evaluation. What I try to do is decide whether the problems can be fixed through shepherding. Not everything can be fixed, mind you. Minor wording changes or a slight shift in focus are fixable. Major new experiments or a total overhaul of the system design are not. When I champion a paper, I only do so if I'm willing to be on the hook to shepherd it, should it come to that at the PC meeting (and it often does).

Somebody needs to stand up for good papers. Arguably, no paper would ever get accepted unless some PC member were willing to go to bat for it. Sadly, it's a lot easier for the PC to find flaws in a paper (hence leading to rejection) than it is to stand up for a paper and argue for acceptance -- despite the paper's flaws. Every PC meeting I go to, someone says, "This is the best paper in my pile, and we should take it -- that's why I gave it a weak accept." Weak accept!?!? WEAK!?! If that's the best you can do, you have no business being on a program committee. Stand up for something.

In an effort to balance this out, I try to take a stand for a couple of papers every time I go to a PC meeting, even though I might not be successful in convincing others that those papers should be accepted. Way better than only giving out milquetoast scores like "weak accept" or -- worse -- the cop-out "borderline".

The paper got me excited. This is probably the #1 reason I give out Strong Accepts. When this happens, usually by the end of the first page, I'm getting excited about the rest of the paper. The problem sounds compelling. The approach is downright sexy. The summary of results sound pretty sweet. All right, so I'm jazzed about this one. Sometimes it's a big letdown when I get into the meat and find out that the approach ain't all it was cracked up to be in the intro. But when I get turned on by a paper, I'll let the small stuff slide for sure.

It's hard to predict when a paper will get me hot under the collar. Sometimes it's because the problem is close to stuff I work on, and I naturally gravitate to those kinds of papers. Other times it's a problem I really wish I had solved. Much of the time, it's because the intro and motivation are just really eloquent and convincing. The quality of writing matters a lot here.

I learned a lot reading the paper. Ultimately, a paper is all about what the reader takes away from it. A paper on a topic slightly out of my area that does a fine job explaining the problem and the solution is a beautiful thing. Deciding how much "tutorial" material to fit into a paper can be challenging, especially if you're assuming that the reviewers are already experts in the topic at hand. But more often than not, the PC members reading your paper might not know as much about the area as you expect. Good exposition is usually worth the space. The experts will skim it anyway, and you might sell the paper to a non-expert like me.

There's a real-world evaluation. This is not a requirement, and indeed it's somewhat rare, but if a paper evaluates its approach on anything approximating a real-world scale (or dataset) it's winning major brownie points in my book. Purely artificial, lab-based evaluations are more common, and less compelling. If the paper includes a real-life deployment or retrospective on what the authors learned through the experience, even better. Even papers without that many "new ideas" can get accepted if they have a strong and interesting evaluation (cough cough).

The paper looks at a new problem, or has a new take on an old problem. Creativity -- either in terms of the problem you're working on, or how you approach that problem -- counts for a great deal. I care much more about a creative approach to solving a new and interesting (or old and hard-to-crack) problem than a paper that is thoroughly evaluated along every possible axis. Way too many papers are merely incremental deltas on top of previous work. I'm not that interested in reading the Nth paper on time synchronization or multi-hop routing, unless you are doing things really differently from how they've been done before. (If the area is well-trodden, it's also unlikely you'll convince me you have a solution that the hundreds of other papers on the same topic have failed to uncover.) Being bold and striking out in a new research direction might be risky, but it's also more likely to catch my attention after I've reviewed 20 papers on less exciting topics.

Planet Haskell: Chris Smith: CodeWorld & Summer of Haskell 2016

As most Haskell community members know, Haskell was turned down by Google Summer of Code this year, and has instead been seeking to continue the tradition with Summer of Haskell, funded by smaller donations. I’m happy to announce that CodeWorld will be part of Summer of Haskell! I’ve donated to support one student working specifically on CodeWorld.

Are you a student, and interested in helping to build a platform for education in expressive mathematics and computer science? Want to work on a project with immediate impact teaching Haskell in multiple schools?  Please propose a project at https://summer.haskell.org/ between now and May 6th.

Project Ideas

A great source of CodeWorld project ideas is the bug tracker.  Less well-defined projects are tagged as proposals, while more defined features are tagged as enhancements.  A few big ones to think about are:

  • Export of CodeWorld projects as mobile applications
  • Better and more language-aware editor support for Haskell in CodeMirror.
  • Implementing constructive geometry
  • Building social, gallery, and/or showcase features to help student work be more visible.
  • Building a purely functional block-based programming environment.
  • Implementing visual tools to help students understand substitution, list comprehensions, and more.

I look forward to working with someone this summer building something cool!

By the way, HUGE thanks to Edward Kmett and other Haskell.org committee members for making this happen this year!

Disquiet: The Pure Data of Svetlana Maraš


You have to click through to the blog of Svetlana Maraš to hear her recent piece “Nymphae,” but don’t mistake that non-embeddable scenario for the work of someone who’s overly concerned about proprietorship. Maras, who is based in Belgrade, Serbia, has more than one SoundCloud page, and posts audio frequently. For “Nymphae,” not only has she uploaded the entrancing, minute-long sample of fractured glistening to stream, she’s also posted for free download the underlying tools anyone can use to accomplish the same sonic ends. Well, anyone with a copy of Pd (Pure data, a “real-time graphical dataflow programming environment,” itself freely downloadable), and the skills to employ it. The tools come in the form of a patch, which looks like this:


She describes the project as follows:

Nymphaea is one in a set of 7 works made under the title Ethereal Information. These works are Pure data patches, and they are generative sound works functioning by the rules of partially fixed algorithms. Each of the patches leaves the space for user’s input that will influence certain aspects of the work. Patches can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution license, as part of other works, in installations, galleries, public spaces or wherever you find them suitable. These works are highly minimalistic. They praise the simplicity of production and effectiveness of realization. They are to be appreciated for their audible but as well visual content that is in this case the structural element of the work that reveals work’s internal characteristics.

More from Maraš at svetlanamaras.com. I wrote about her work previously in February 2015, regarding sound design she’d been working on for a film that never saw completion. That audio is still online. The image up top is from an interview with Maraš by Theresa Beyer, published in 2014 at norient.com. Pure data is available at puredata.info.

Explosm.net: Comic for 2016.04.26

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Female Computer Scientist: The child-led kids go to grad school

For the past few decades, there have been movements afoot in parenting that seek to "flip" the traditional parent-child hierarchy - child-led weaning, child-led toilet training, child-led education, unschooling, etc.

Children from these movements are now pursuing higher ed degrees. I have noticed several  intriguing attempts by the students to flip the adviser-advisee relationship, and faculty trying to accommodate these changes.
First, some linguistic changes. Many faculty solely refer to their advisees as "collaborators". Students say, "I collaboate with so-and-so", or "this work was conducted in collaboration with so-and-so." Rarely, are the words adviser or advisee used in the discussion. This is not good or bad, but an interesting trend.

Second, I have noticed a rise in the number of students who routinely and vehemently push back against their advisors' suggestions. Sometimes this is a healthy debate, but sometimes it can sour the relationship. For example, when a student strongly believes they are ready for a black diamond, but have not yet demonstrated mastery of the bunny slope, tension can arise.

I think part of this second issue may tie into timelines that students have internalized about what should be happening when in the process. There's a belief that if you show up and do work, regardless of its quality, you will earn a degree after n years. Perhaps to some extent pressure from various administrative bodies have reinforced these beliefs by stating that degrees are expected to be completed within n years, or funding will be taken away.

To be fair, there are deep questions about what it means to have a degree, the process by which that assessment is made, and who is qualified to make that assessment. And perhaps one way forward to addressing these questions is to relax the hierarchy somewhat to better enable students (collaborators?) to be part of the conversation. But I do not think the answer is to view advisers and committees as merely rubber stamps toward obtaining a degree.

TOPLAP: Troy Algorave 0x0F

Algorave happening in Troy, NY at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. Music, visuals, game engines, electronics and more.

Leying Hu | Gibber
Kelly Michael Fox | Tidal
Jeremy Stewart | Tidal
Ryan Ross Smith | Tidal + Modular Synth
Rob Hamilton | Unreal + Unity3D +ChucK
Obi-Wan Codenobi | The Force + Electonic Plotter
Kurt Werner | Code-Assisted Databending



Penny Arcade: News Post: The LZ

Tycho: Gabriel didn’t need to subject me to grievous injury; I managed to lose while being ostensibly whole of mind and body. I have spent too much time thinking about my failure in Overwatch; the best thing for clarity’s sake would be just to share with you the Google doc I actively maintain at all hours of the day but it’s full of dark oaths and teammate-specific seething and I may need to call on one or more of them again - even if its just as food.  It’s best, perhaps, if this information remains confidential. In general, though, in general, the show was the best…

churchturing.org / 2016-04-29T15:42:53