Day: June 28, 2016

This tiny camera can be injected with a syringe

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University of Stuttgart researchers used 3D printing to fabricate a tiny three-lens camera that fits on the end of an optical fiber no wider than two human hairs. Eventually, the technology could lead to a new kind of very thin endoscope for looking inside the human body. According to the researchers, the camera delivered “high optical performances and tremendous compactness.” From Phys.org:

(The camera) can focus on images from a distance of 3.0 mm, and relay them over the length of a 1.7-metre (5.6-foot) optical fibre to which it is attached.

The “imaging system” fits comfortably inside a standard syringe needle, said the team, allowing for delivery into a human organ, or even the brain.

“Endoscopic applications will allow for non-invasive and non-destructive examination of small objects in the medical as well as the industrial sector,” they wrote (in their scientific paper).

Below, the lens (blue) was fabricated directly on the optical fiber (red). The fiber and camera are emerging from a hollow, 27 gauge syringe needle:

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Legendary Betty Davis and Miles Davis funk/fusion/psych session released

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In 1969, high priestess of funk Betty Davis recorded two legendary sessions produced by her then-husband Miles Davis at Columbia’s 52nd Street Studios in Manhattan. The band consisted of Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer), John McLaughlin (guitar), Herbie Hancock (keys), Billy Cox (Band of Gypsys bassist), Wayne Shorter (sax), and Larry Young (organ). Teo Macero co-produced. In nearly 50 years, those jams have never been officially released or even bootlegged. Now though, they are available for the first time from the fine folks at Light in the Attic Records. Teaser video below. From the label:

These historic sessions—never heard, never bootlegged—predate Miles’ revolutionary album, Bitches Brew, and are the true birth of Miles’ jazz-rock explorations, along with the roots for Betty’s groundbreaking funk that came years later, starting with her self-titled debut in 1973. …

The vibe is intrinsically unique, fresh, and futuristic—jazz heavyweights playing psychedelia, rock, and jazz-fusion long before the term became commonplace. The songs include Betty originals and covers of classics by Creedence and Cream. The concepts explored on these previously unheard sessions fueled concepts that wouldn’t be fully realized until years later with Miles’ seminal On The Corner…

This deluxe package is a treasure trove for both Betty and Miles fans, including rare documents from the pen of co-producer Teo Macero, rarely seen photos from legendary photographer Baron Wolman, and new interviews with Mrs. Davis herself, Harvey Brooks, and Hugh Masekela—the entire project overseen with Betty’s full blessing.

Betty Davis: The Columbia Years 1968-1969

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Darth Vader's perspective on A New Hope and his need for vengeance

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Vader: Star Wars Darth Vader Vol. 1

by Kieron Gillen (author) and Salvador Larocca (illustrator)

Marvel

2015, 160 pages, 6.8 x 10.2 x 0.2 inches (softcover)

$15 Buy a copy on Amazon

The graphic novel Vader is the first installment of the series, Star Wars Darth Vader. Published by Marvel, this book collects into one volume the first six issues of Darth Vader. It begins with Vader’s perspective on events of A New Hope. They reflect his need for vengeance because he is in a world of trouble after a really disastrous day at the office. The death star has been destroyed meaning the rule of law is in danger. Sith Lord Darth Vader has failed his master, the emperor, with all that entails for his own personal safety as well as the fact he must seek retribution.

To do that, first he journeys to meet with Jabba the Hutt. Darth Vader wants to work a deal with Jabba and will use force to get it one way or another. Having been a survivor of one of the worst military disasters in the history of the empire and having laid a trap that backfired, Darth Vader has a lot to be responsible for according to the Emperor. Darth Vader wants to find those who escaped on the Millennium Falcon, especially one person in particular, and to destroy any and all who helped them in the past or now.

He is doing all of that while being placed in a subordinate role having been demoted by the Emperor for his failure. Much of what happened prior to this book is referenced here by taking out Luke and inserting Vader into the scenes as everything is told from his perspective. As such prequels and flashbacks make up a significant part of the book. Those journeys into the past serve to enhance the storyline as it moves forward in time as well as refreshing the memory of the reader. It is a nice touch and works very well.

Filled with colorful panels, detailed artwork, and multiple storylines, the pages fly by as Darth Vader’s quest for vengeance unfolds. Writer Kieron Gillen, through panels created by Salvador Larroca, tells a wide-ranging tale that answers some questions while creating many more presumably to be answered in the rest of the series. Colorist Edgar Delgado brings the images to life with vivid colors as well as subtle shading accenting both shadows and the dark forces at work. The artwork is quite impressive and really brings the images to life. If Vader is representative of the following installments of the Star Wars: Darth Vader series, this collection of graphic novels will be a visual and storytelling treat.

– Kevin Tipple

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David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750

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A lock of David Bowie’s hair sold for $18,750 at auction this week. The seller was Wendy Farrier, a wigmaker who snipped the lock for color reference for a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. No info on the buyer.

“Once hair samples were matched with any figures at Madam Tussauds they were discarded as a matter of course, so there was amusement when I asked to keep one from the selection taken from Bowie,” Farrier wrote in a signed letter of provenance given to Heritage Auctions.

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This man is building the business of DIY assault rifles

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Remember Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed who caused chaos last year with his design for a 3D printed gun, The Liberator? Now, Wilson and engineer John Sullivan have developed a $1500 desktop CNC mill, called the Ghost Gunner, that cranks out the key component in assault rifles. Now you can make your own AR-15! There’s a waiting list to buy one and the money is going to Wilson’s lawsuit against the State Department. From Rob Walker’s excellent feature in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Most people can purchase a pretty good factory-built gun for $1,000. Even so, Wilson got 10 orders on Day One and started raising the price, soon cutting off pre-orders at 500. Sullivan submitted redesigned specs to suppliers by mid-December, with Wilson, Sullivan, and Denio building the earliest units themselves. They started shipping in April 2015.

Gradually, Wilson put together an assembly team—contacts from his network, random supporters who reached out via Twitter, and so on. “It’s torture man, getting going,” he says. “But here we are. It’s been a full year of Ghost Gunner shipping.” The enterprise just surpassed 2,000 units shipped. (An upgraded Ghost Gunner 2 debuted on June 21 at $1,500; you can get on a waiting list for $250.)

Sullivan has since transitioned to a “consulting role.” He spoke to me, somewhere en route to Oklahoma City, from his van, which is where he and his fiancée essentially live, having sold most of their possessions. He’s opted for a low-expense, permanent-vacation lifestyle, he says, and can now pick and choose the projects that interest him.

Back at Jim’s, Wilson says the Ghost Gunner business could expand, even internationally—or could be snuffed out by regulatory caprice. His partner Denio has taken an interest in a few orders from engineering educators and now imagines a spinoff business—thoroughly rebranded—bringing desktop CNC machines to that market. (That said, Denio underscored to me that his ideological goals trump his entrepreneurial ones: “I wouldn’t mind living on the street and eating garbage if I knew our Second Amendment was protected.”)

Wilson says he wants the product to succeed and satisfy the customers who’ve supported him. In May, Defense Distributed had its first trade-show booth, at a survivalist expo in Dallas. But it’s pretty clear that engineering and business aren’t a rush for him but a means to an end. “I’m just trying,” he says, “to win my lawsuit.”

A Crypto-Anarchist Will Help You Build a DIY AR-15” (Businessweek)


detail of photo by Bryan Schutmaat

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Seattle has a food truck for dogs

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Competition to feed humans has grown difficult enough that a Seattle couple, Dawn and Ben Ford, opened a food truck for humanity’s best friend.

Via Life with Dogs:

The popularity of food trucks in the United States has exploded recently, and in almost every major city there are a few that specialize in a particular style or flavor profile. This is great because it gives people options to eat foods that they may not have before. This is great for humans, but what about dogs? Is there a food truck for them somewhere? In Washington, the answer is YES!

The Seattle Barkery is a new mobile café for dogs. Everything they make and serve is aimed towards giving dogs a similar freedom of choice like we as humans have. For their furry, four legged customers, they have everything from bacon cupcakes and peanut butter pumpkin pretzels, to chicken feet and duck necks.

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1969 music show with Monkees and The Raiders, with commercials

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https://youtu.be/yAckE3s4rtc

Happening was a Los Angeles-based rock and roll variety TV show produced by Dick Clark, and co-hosted by Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere of the Raiders. It ran from 1968 to 1969. It’s interesting to see the TV commercials, which make me miss Mad Men, and to see how unsophisticated live TV was at the time. The budget was probably miniscule.

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Why the world is better than you think in 10 powerful charts

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Peter Diamandism founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, presents 10 charts that show progress in absolute poverty, child labor, income spent on food, infant mortality rate, guinea worm infections, teen births, homicide rates, violent crime, education, and literacy.

He says, “this is not to say that there aren’t major issues we still face, like climate crisis, religious radicalism, terrorism, and so on. It’s just that we forget and romanticize the world in centuries past — and life back then was short and brutal.”

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‘Super racist’ pool safety poster prompts Red Cross apology

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Red Cross staffer #1: I have a great idea. Let’s make a swimming pool safety poster!

Red Cross staffer #2: Yeah! And let’s make it cool by adding a floating whale!

Four weeks later….

Designer: Here’s my poster design. Do you have any comments?

Red Cross staffers #1 and #2: This is awesome! Good job on the whale, but could you put a little red cross on his whistle? Once you do that, we will send it up the approval chain!

Six weeks later….

Red Cross staffer #1: 28 staff members have reviewed and approved the poster. They love it!

Red Cross staffer #2: I’ll email the PDF to the printer. We’ll send one to every public pool in the country!

Two years later….

Person at a public swimming looking at photo: WTF? All the white kids are “cool.” Everyone else is “not cool.”

One day later….

Red Cross media relations manager: The American Red Cross appreciates and is sensitive to the concerns raised regarding one of the water safety posters we produced. We deeply apologize for any misunderstanding, as it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone. As one of the nation’s oldest and largest humanitarian organizations, we are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do, every day. To this end, we have removed the poster from our website and Swim App and have discontinued production. We have notified all of our partner aquatic facilities requesting they take down the poster. Our organization has emphasized to our partners and on social media that it was absolutely not our intent to offend anyone and apologized for this inadvertent action. We are currently in the process of completing a formal agreement with a diversity advocacy organization for their guidance moving forward.

[via]

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Chatbot lawyer overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York

By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (N.Y.C. Dept of Finance: Parking Violations) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

After getting 30 parking tickets while in London, a 19-year-old Stanford University student created an app called DoNotPay that lets people fight tickets by chatting with a bot.

From The Guardian:

The program first works out whether an appeal is possible through a series of simple questions, such as were there clearly visible parking signs, and then guides users through the appeals process.

The results speak for themselves. In the 21 months since the free service was launched in London and now New York, [Joshua] Browder says DoNotPay has taken on 250,000 cases and won 160,000, giving it a success rate of 64% appealing over $4m of parking tickets.

Browder is working on three other applications of his chatbot lawyer: one that helps people get compensated for flight delays, another that helps people with HIV positive exercise their rights, and another that helps refugees deal with foreign legal systems.

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Best looking flask I've found

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Perfect for keeping your reputation for asocial behavior intact, but still maintaining a stylish image, I proudly introduce the Portside Flask.

Unless they leak, all flasks are pretty much functionally equal. This one is beautiful. I get compliments on it at every tech conference, panel or event I attend. Usually by people standing in the back of the room, near me, who wish they’d thought to bring a stiff drink.

I can confirm this flask works well with Bourbon, Irish Whiskey and Rum. It is super durable, I’ve had mine since 2010 and never lost a drop.

Cork Pops Nicholas Portside Flask via Amazon

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Massive helium field found - scientists calling it game changer

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We’ve had a global shortage of helium for years now, but thanks to an aggressive search in Tanzania, scientists have just discovered 54 billion cubic feet of the gas, an amount that can last for several years. Scientists are calling this new approach to helium exploration a “game changer,” according to the AP.

The discovery in Tanzania is the result of a new exploration approach for the precious gas that is essential to spacecraft, MRI scanners, nuclear energy, according to the Oxford University statement. Helium also fills party balloons.

This is the first time helium has been found intentionally, said the statement. Until now, the gas has been found in small amounts accidentally during oil and gas drilling.

Scientists are optimistic that they’ll now be able to find more helium in other parts of the world using the same search methods. Read the full story here.

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Human or machine: can you tell who wrote these poems?

By Mirko Tobias Schaefer [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

NPR has a quiz that invites you to guess which of six poems were written by a computer program, and which were written by humans. A group of 10 judges weren’t fooled, but I had trouble correctly guessing all of them. I appreciated the computer-generated poems as much as the human-written ones.

SONNET #2

The dirty rusty wooden dresser drawer.

A couple million people wearing drawers,

Or looking through a lonely oven door,

Flowers covered under marble floors.

And lying sleeping on an open bed.

And I remember having started tripping,

Or any angel hanging overhead,

Without another cup of coffee dripping.

Surrounded by a pretty little sergeant,

Another morning at an early crawl.

And from the other side of my apartment,

An empty room behind the inner wall.

A thousand pictures on the kitchen floor,

Talked about a hundred years or more.

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A shampoo bottle that empties completely – every last drop

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Coatings that allow ketchup and other gel-like liquids to easily slide down plastic bottle interiors have been around for many years. Finding something that prevents liquid soap from clinging to the inside of a bottle has proven more elusive, because the qualities that make soap “soapy” also make it clingy to plastic. But researchers at The Ohio State University have created a microscopic texture that repels soap products, as reported in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society on June 27.

From Ohio State University newsroom:

The technique involves lining a plastic bottle with microscopic y-shaped structures that cradle the droplets of soap aloft above tiny air pockets, so that the soap never actually touches the inside of the bottle. The “y” structures are built up using much smaller nanoparticles made of silica, or quartz—an ingredient in glass—which, when treated further, won’t stick to soap.

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Revolutionize your vape game with the FEZ Vaporizer - now 28% off

If you want a quality vaping experience, it’s usually going to cost you. Vaporizers that deliver a fast, controlled burn will set you back up to $300, which is why the FEZ Vaporizer (now just $99) is an absolute steal.

The FEZ dry herb pen does everything that more expensive models handle at a reduced price. It heats up in under 60 seconds, and you can switch between to three temperature levels to set the optimal burning speed for your herb.

Specially designed for dry flower consumption, the FEZ sports a filtration system that eliminates any toxic compounds to produce as pure a vapor as possible.

The FEZ’s simple design makes it easy to use, while its USB-powered battery provides a charge that lasts up to 2,000 puffs on a single charge. And while many models are clunkier, the FEZ is only 3.5 inches long, making it ultra-portable.

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At 28% off MSRP, now’s the time to pick up your FEZ Vaporizer while this deal lasts.

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Conservative "suckers" were primed for Trump

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Jeet Heer explains that Republicans fell for Trump because of years of conservative policy that told them science, reason and skepticism were bad. Put simply, they were primed to be suckers: “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

Conservative ideology, as Perlstein persuasively argues, is particularly vulnerable to grifters because of its faith in the goodness of business and its concomitant hostility toward regulation—which makes it easy for true believers to buy into the notion that some modern Edison has a miraculous new invention that the Washington elite is conniving to suppress. In Perlstein’s words, “The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.” There’s another factor at work here: The anti-intellectualism that has been a mainstay of the conservative movement for decades also makes its members easy marks.

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Video feedback emulator generates gorgeous glitchy art

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Thea video feedback emulator offers a vague memory of fooling with video cameras and a strong flavor of crisp and fractal generative art, The results lurk somewhere between the decades. Click and drag your results for wild (and often brightly-flickering) variations. The creator explains how it works. [via Github]

What we’ve found most interesting about video feedback is: the sheer complexity of the images it produces through such simply-defined and implemented spacemaps that really only have to do with the relative positioning of two rectangles. It’s somewhat intuitive, but always surprising.

This is all just scratching the surface of the mathematics behind the patterns that video feedback is capable of, but hopefully it’s good enough for a start!

P.S. You’ll notice that many of the “interesting” patterns contain regions of diverse sizes. That is, they appear to have a broad range of spatial frequencies. What’s up with that?

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Healthcare workers prioritize helping people over information security (disaster ensues)

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In Workarounds to Computer Access in
Healthcare Organizations: You Want My
Password or a Dead Patient?
, security researchers from Penn, Dartmouth and USC conducted an excellent piece of ethnographic research on health workers, shadowing them as they moved through their work environments, blithely ignoring, circumventing and sabotaging the information security measures imposed by their IT departments, because in so doing, they were saving lives.
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Select your shape! Stool Analyzer has thoughts on your poop

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The Stool Analyzer is the perfect website to squeeze into over breakfast: tell it everything about your turds and it will give you health tips that are at least as accurate as a carnival fortune-telling machine.

“An ideal stool looks like a torpedo – it should be large, soft, fluffy and easy to pass”

Dr. Foxx-Orenstein, president of the American College of Gastroenterology

My stool is reportedly “superior.”

The shape and consistency of your stool indicate an almost “perfect stool”. Your ideal feces should be uniform in consistency and colour with no cracks on its surface. To produce your “perfect stool” you need to tune your diet just a little with some extra fiber or with a couple more glasses of water. You’re almost there!

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Fansmitter: malware that exfiltrates data from airgapped computers by varying the sound of their fans

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In a new paper, researchers from Ben-Gurion University demonstrate a fiendishly clever procedure for getting data off of airgapped computers that have had their speakers removed to prevent acoustic data-transmission: instead of playing sound through the target computer’s speakers, they attack its fans, varying their speeds to produce subtle sounds that humans can barely notice, but which nearby devices can pick up through their microphones.
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