Day: July 31, 2016

Hacker puppets explain how they find your passwords in non-technical ways

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Gus the hacker puppeteer writes, “Last weekend was the Hackers On Planet Earth conference (where, ICYMI, Cory was the keynote address). I always come away from HOPE wishing there were easier ways to share what I learned there with friends and family. Fortunately, the Internet Society has been streaming and storing videos of HOPE talks for the past two conferences. (My own talk, on getting into the minds of everyday computer users, should be up there eventually.)”
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Blackberry Muffins

Blackberry Muffins

Pssst… you know what the secret is to making the best blackberry muffins?

Muffins that are rich, tender, and loaded with blackberries?

No, it’s not the butter (though butter makes everything better IMHO).

If your guess is it has something to do with the type of berries, you’re close. Wild blackberries do make the best pies, muffins, and cakes. But you can only get those a couple months of the year.

Continue reading “Blackberry Muffins” »

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Make some serious noise no matter where you are

If you’ve ever wished there was a soundtrack to your life, we have a suggestion for you. Personally, we love the Samsung Level Box Mini Bluetooth Speaker, which lets us easily play our music anywhere–indoors, outdoors, everywhere in between.

Why we love it: this compact, high tech speaker looks great. And it sounds even better (we swear it’s like having a full-sized speaker in our bags, but without all that annoying bulk and weight).

And with A2DP wireless streaming technology and built-in Samsung SoundAlive, we never find ourselves missing a beat of any of our favorite songs. Nor will any bystanders around us…which can be good or bad depending upon what song we’re blasting at the moment.

It’s easy to set up too, meaning we have no trouble getting the party started: just pair it with your NFC or Bluetooth device, and you’re good to go.

See for yourself: take your love of music to the next level, and grab one of these bad boys today (just $49.99, or 50% off MSRP).

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"Primitive Technology" enters the Iron Age!

primitiveTech_1

We’ve previously written about “Primitive Technology,” the amazing YouTube channel chronicling a guy (who never identifies himself) navigating the wilds of Far North Queensland, Australia with nothing more than what he fashions with his own hands. Those hands seem to have nearly magical powers as he confidently conjures what he needs to survive from the very elements around him (while capturing it all on a future phone).

As part of my work, I spend a big chunk of my day watching DIY videos of every kind of “It” you can imagine. This YouTube channel is one where I anxiously await new content.

In this latest video, the mystery man that some have dubbed “Prim” builds himself a bow-drill blower and clay forge near the entrance to his tiled-roof mud hut. With his blower and forge in working order, he then collects orange iron bacteria (iron oxide) from the creek (that baby shit-brown substance at 3:14), mixes it with powdered charcoal (carbon for reducing oxide to metal), and wood ash (flux to lower meting point). He forms all of this into a cylindrical brick and fires it in a charcoal oven. The result is a melted iron ore slag with tiny, 1mm-sized specs of iron in it.

primitiveTech_2

Congratulations, Prim! You just entered the Iron Age! On his blog, he explains that wasn’t really his intent:

My intent was not so much to make iron but to show that the furnace can reach a fairly high temperature using this blower. A taller furnace called a bloomery was generally used in ancient times to produce usable quantities of iron and consumed more charcoal, ore and labour.

Even though he says that smelting iron wasn’t his goal, now that he can, it would be fun to see what sorts of things he can do with this new technology. So, with iron smelting, we’re up to I think GURPS Tech Level 3. With this guy’s virtuosic maker chops, he might reach TL 9 (the AI/VR age) before the rest of us do!

You can see all of “Prim’s” videos, with some background explanations and tech details, on his blog.

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New Recomendo newsletter, Issue No. 1

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Beginning today, the editors of Cool Tools will be recommending 6 items in an extremely short email every week. Mark, myself, and Claudia — the entire staff of Cool Tools — will suggest good stuff we have personally used, consumed, or experienced. We’ll try to keep each recommendation light and fast. They won’t be definitive reviews; rather they’ll be quick recommendations. Going back again to our roots, we’ve named it Recomendo — which, believe it or not, was the name of Cool Tools before I renamed it.

If you want great tools, stay on (or sign onto) the Cool Tools newsletter. To get all the other kinds of things we encounter and enjoy sharing, sign up for Recomendo here. As usual, we don’t do anything with your info except send you short and sweet one-screen news once a week.

Here’s the first issue of Recomendo:

DESTINATION: The world’s coolest nature museum: The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England (pictured above). It’s a day trip from London. Take the 1-hour train to Oxford, then walk 15 minutes from the station to the museum, co-housed with the Oxford University Nature Museum. Enter into a lost world of curiosity. You are surrounded by three floors of artifacts collected over centuries by eccentric British explorers. Displays include shrunken heads, voodoo dolls, tomb relics, weird insects, ancient folk tools, dinosaurs skeletons, taxidermy galore, uncountable biological and mineralogical specimens, all stacked in glassy cabinets with typed cards and labels. It’s supremely old-school and hugely satisfying. — KK

EXPERIENCE: My family and I are obsessed with escape rooms. Twelve people are locked in a themed room (theater backstage, 1940s Hollywood private eye office, alchemist’s laboratory, etc.) and given one hour to solve clues to get out. You’ll quickly get over any shyness of strangers as you collaborate to beat the clock. There are escape rooms all over the world. I recommend Escape Room LA in downtown Los Angeles. — MF

TIP: If you book a one-day round trip on Southwest, you won’t be allowed to check in for the return flight until after you complete the first flight. This means you’ll end up with the dreaded C boarding pass (which means a middle seat). I’ve learned from experience to book two one-way trips instead of a round trip (it costs the same). This allows me to check in to each flight exactly 24 hours before take-off. That way, I get an A or B boarding pass. (Extra tip: set your alarm 23 hours and 58 minutes before each flight so you can check as soon as Southwest allows it. The A and B passes go fast!) — MF

THING: For some reason I frequently cut myself shaving when I travel. I’ve stopped trying to figure out why. I just bring along a pack of KutKit Styptic Swabs. They look like Q-Tips but have a glass ampoule of staunching liquid inside the straw that is released when you bend the tube like a light stick. It stops …read more

Trump makes fool of himself with lack of knowledge on Ukraine

Trump

Trump proves yet again how unfit he is to be the next president – and commander in chief – of the United States. In a cringe-worthy ABC interview this morning he tried to educate George Stephanopoulos about a thing or two regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine.

With his mafioso expression, he said about Putin, “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”

“Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?” Stephanopoulos countered. Putin took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Without missing a beat, Trump tried to cover up. “OK — well, he’s there in a certain way. But I’m not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he’s going away. He takes Crimea.”

Stick to talking about the “Wall,” Donald. That’s what you’re good at.

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"After School Satan Club" could be coming to elementary schools in the U.S.

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Now that public schools across the country have opened their doors to after-school evangelical religious programming, the Satanic Temple thinks it’s only fair to establish an “After School Satan Club” in elementary schools across the country to give children a choice.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

Good News Clubs, which are sponsored by an organization founded in 1937 called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), aim to reach children as young as 5 with a fundamentalist form of evangelical Christianity. For most of their history, Good News Clubs were largely excluded from public schools out of concern that their presence would violate the Constitution.

In 2001, in a case that commanded the resources of powerful legal advocacy groups on the religious right, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Liberty Counsel, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that to exclude an after-school program on account of the religious views of its sponsors amounted to a violation of free-speech rights. The CEF then went on a tear, and by 2011, it reported 3,560 Good News Clubs, putting them in more than 5 percent of the nation’s public elementary schools.

The Satanic Temple makes no secret of its desire to use that same approach.

“We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel specifically for opening the doors to the After School Satan Clubs through their dedication to religious liberty,” [Satanic Temple co-founder] Lucien Greaves explained to the gathering of chapter heads in Salem. “So, ‘the Satanic Temple leverages religious freedom laws that put after-school clubs in elementary schools nationwide.’ That’s going to be the message.”

Should schools allow the establishment of an “After School Satan Club,” the Satanic Temple will not preach religions, Greaves told the paper. “While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination, instilling children with a fear of hell and God’s wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism. We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of an everlasting other-worldly horror.”

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