Day: October 25, 2016

21 Cold Brew Coffee Recipes

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Colin Powell endorses Hillary Clinton

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Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell says he’s going to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton instead of his own party’s candidate, millionaire reality TV star Donald Trump.

“I am voting for Hillary Clinton,” he said, according to Matthew Cohen, a spokesman for the association. Mr. Powell went on to praise Mrs. Clinton for her skills as a leader and her experience.

Paule Pachter, a Long Island Association board member, said that Mr. Powell was blunt.

“He said he would support Hillary Clinton and he also elaborated on several reason why he felt that Donald Trump was not the right candidate,” he said. “He spoke about his inexperience, he spoke about the messages that he’s sending out every day to his supporters, which really paints our country in a negative light across the globe with all our allies.”

Powell had recently expressed some annoyance at Mrs. Clinton dragging him into the private email server imbroglio. I wonder if Trump’s foolish and clueless remarks about the attack on Mosul was the last straw.

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How long can you really hold your breath?

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The Guinness World Record for breath-holding belongs to Aleix Segura Vendrell, who managed 24 minutes and 3 seconds floating in a pool. How do Vendrell and others, like free divers and, er, David Blaine (see below) do it? Psychological training is obviously the first step, says Clayton Cowl, chair of preventive occupational and aerospace medicine at the Mayo Institute. But there’s physiology at work too. From Smithsonian:

Olympic swimmers seem to be able to go great distances without breathing, but that is primarily due to aerobic conditioning, says Cowl. Those athletes are more efficient at getting oxygen into the tissue and extracting carbon dioxide. That allows them to breathe more effectively, and potentially, improve their breath holding.

Just being in the water may confer additional breath-holding ability. All mammals have what is known as a diving reflex. The involuntary reflex is most obvious—and pronounced—in aquatic mammals like whales and seals. But humans have this reflex, also. The purpose seems to be to conserve the oxygen that is naturally stored throughout the body, according to one study.

When a mammal dives into the water, the heart rate slows, and the capillaries of extremities like arms and legs—or flippers—constrict. Blood and oxygen is redirected towards the internal organs. The reflex helps diving animals override the need to breathe, which means they can stay underwater longer.

What’s the Longest You Can Hold Your Breath?(Smithsonian)

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The math behind solving the Rubik's Cube

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In this Scientific American video, Rubik’s Cube master Ian Scheffler, author of the new book Cracking the Cube, explains some of the math behind “speedcubing.” Scheduler’s book sounds fascinating even though the only way I could get my Rubik’s Cube solved is to hand it to my 10-year-old son’s friend Luc who was the first to dazzle me with the fine art of speedcubery.

From the description of Cracking the Cube:

When Hungarian professor Ernő Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube (or, rather, his Cube) in the 1970s out of wooden blocks, rubber bands, and paper clips, he didn’t even know if it could be solved, let alone that it would become the world’s most popular puzzle. Since its creation, the Cube has become many things to many people: one of the bestselling children’s toys of all time, a symbol of intellectual prowess, a frustrating puzzle with 43.2 quintillion possible permutations, and now a worldwide sporting phenomenon that is introducing the classic brainteaser to a new generation.

In Cracking the Cube, Ian Scheffler reveals that cubing isn’t just fun and games. Along with participating in speedcubing competitions—from the World Championship to local tournaments—and interviewing key figures from the Cube’s history, he journeys to Budapest to seek a meeting with the legendary and notoriously reclusive Rubik, who is still tinkering away with puzzles in his seventies.

Getting sucked into the competitive circuit himself, Scheffler becomes engrossed in solving Rubik’s Cube in under twenty seconds, the quasi-mystical barrier known as “sub-20,” which is to cubing what four minutes is to the mile: the difference between the best and everyone else.

“Cracking the Cube: Going Slow to Go Fast and Other Unexpected Turns in the World of Competitive Rubik’s Cube Solving” by Ian Scheffler (Amazon)

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Is the smartwatch fad over?

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A new study by IDC shows the market for smartwatches is shrinking. I think they are ugly, and mechanical watches are art.

Via IDC:

The worldwide smartwatch market experienced a round of growing pains in the third quarter of 2016 (3Q16), resulting in a year-over-year decline in shipment volumes. According to data from the International Data Corporation, (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, total smartwatch volumes reached 2.7 million units shipped in 3Q16, a decrease of 51.6% from the 5.6 million units shipped in 3Q15. Although the decline is significant, it is worth noting that 3Q15 was the first time Apple’s Watch had widespread retail availablity after a limited online launch. Meanwhile, the second generation Apple Watch was only available in the last two weeks of 3Q16.

“The sharp decline in smartwatch shipment volumes reflects the way platforms and vendors are realigning,” noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Wearables team. “Apple revealed a new look and feel to watchOS that did not arrive until the launch of the second generation watch at the end of September. Google’s decision to hold back Android Wear 2.0 has repercussions for its OEM partners as to whether to launch devices before or after the holidays. Samsung’s Gear S3, announced at IFA in September, has yet to be released. Collectively, this left vendors relying on older, aging devices to satisfy customers.”

“It has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount, hence many vendors are focusing on fitness due to its simplicity. However, moving forward, differentiating the experience of a smartwatch from the smartphone will be key and we’re starting to see early signs of this as cellular integration is rising and as the commercial audience begins to pilot these devices.”

I like to wind my watch. Sometimes, when I’m feeling fancy I wear the self-winding.

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Ultra-rich people in NYC demand apartments with (gasp) driveways

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The hot new amenity that NYC developers are building into their plans for luxury apartment buildings is a porte-cochère, aka a fancy driveway. In fact, in Manhattan an opulent private drive may actually add more valuable to a new property than using that same real estate for additional living space. From Bloomberg:

The trend towards motor courts has accelerated notably in the last two years, according to Kent Security’s Alon Alexander, who has seen a major uptick in inquiries from luxury developers on how best to incorporate the feature in an architectural brief. They’re driven, of course, by twin concerns: privacy and security.

There’s also a less concrete allure to motor courts: in a city where developers want to wring maximum value from every square foot, there’s an extravagance in leaving such a large space empty. It tacitly telegraphs a developer’s largesse and indulgence, at least according to Alon Alexander’s twin brother, Oren. He is a sales executive for 565 Broome. “A regular developer might squeeze a retail site, or extra amenities like a larger lobby, from that space but a driveway is the definition of luxury,” Oren says by cellphone, “It’s space where you don’t typically get it.” Jasmine Mir, CMO of Corcoran Sunshine, puts its more simply. “Buying a penthouse at the top of a building is one thing, but the sense of extravagance and luxury associated with having space at street level in a congested place like New York? It gives an amazing sense of wow! to any arrival, a real grandeur,” she says by phone from her office.

New York’s Latest Must-Have Luxury Apartment Craze Is Driveways

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Ultra-rich people in NYC demand apartments with (gasp) driveways

-1x-1

The hot new amenity that NYC developers are building into their plans for luxury apartment buildings is a porte-cochère, aka a fancy driveway. In fact, in Manhattan an opulent private drive may actually add more valuable to a new property than using that same real estate for additional living space. From Bloomberg:

The trend towards motor courts has accelerated notably in the last two years, according to Kent Security’s Alon Alexander, who has seen a major uptick in inquiries from luxury developers on how best to incorporate the feature in an architectural brief. They’re driven, of course, by twin concerns: privacy and security.

There’s also a less concrete allure to motor courts: in a city where developers want to wring maximum value from every square foot, there’s an extravagance in leaving such a large space empty. It tacitly telegraphs a developer’s largesse and indulgence, at least according to Alon Alexander’s twin brother, Oren. He is a sales executive for 565 Broome. “A regular developer might squeeze a retail site, or extra amenities like a larger lobby, from that space but a driveway is the definition of luxury,” Oren says by cellphone, “It’s space where you don’t typically get it.” Jasmine Mir, CMO of Corcoran Sunshine, puts its more simply. “Buying a penthouse at the top of a building is one thing, but the sense of extravagance and luxury associated with having space at street level in a congested place like New York? It gives an amazing sense of wow! to any arrival, a real grandeur,” she says by phone from her office.

New York’s Latest Must-Have Luxury Apartment Craze Is Driveways

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Beautiful 3D-printed "metamaterial" sculptures that shrink when heated

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Researchers from MIT and the University of Southern California 3D printed tiny, and quite beautiful, sculptures out of two different materials that usually expand when heated. But the specific architectures of these sugarcube-sized sculptures instead enable them to shrink when heated. The
effect is similar to a Hoberman sphere, the wonderful isokinetic toy sculpture that mechanically collapses to a fraction of its original size. From MIT News:

The researchers consider the structures to be “metamaterials” — composite materials whose configurations exhibit strange, often counterintuitive properties that are not normally found in nature.

In some cases, these structures’ resistance to expanding when heated — rather than their shrinking response per se — may be especially useful. Such materials could find applications in computer chips, for example, which can warp and deform when heated for long periods of time.
“Printed circuit boards can heat up when there’s a CPU running, and this sudden heating could affect their performance,” (MIT mechanical engineer Nicholas X.) Fang says. “So you really have to take great care in accounting for this thermal stress or shock…”

Fang and his colleagues printed small, three-dimensional, star-shaped structures made from interconnecting beams. They fabricated each beam from one of two ingredients: a stiff, slow-to-expand copper-containing material, and a more elastic, fast-expanding polymer substance. The internal beams were made from the elastic material, while the outer trusses were composed of stiff copper.

“If we have proper placement of these beams and lattices, then even if every individual component expands, because of the way they pull each other, the overall lattice could actually shrink,” Fang says…

“We now have a tuning method for digitally placing individual components of different stiffness and thermal expansion within a structure, and we can force a particular beam or section to deflect or extend in a desired fashion,” Fang says. “There is room to experiment with other materials, such as carbon nanotubes, which are stronger and lighter. Now we can have more fun in the lab exploring these different structures.”

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President Obama reads mean tweets about himself

@nathan: “Barack Obama is the Nickelback of presidents.”

@DJ_lcpl: “Barack Obama…bro, do you even lift!?”

(Obama’s response: “Well, I lifted the ban on Cuban cigars, that’s worth something.”)

@realDonaldTrump: “President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States!”

(Obama’s response: “Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president.”)

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Please donate for Carson Lebkowsky's funeral expenses

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I received the shocking and sad news that Jon Lebkowsky’s 16-year-grandson Carson died suddenly this week. Jon was one of the early editors at bOING bOING (the zine) and a great supporter of Boing Boing on The Well. He is also one of the founders of EFF Austin and an all around activist for good. Please consider donating to Carson’s funeral expenses at Go Fund Me.

I am a family friend of the the Lebkowsky family, and have known Carson since he was a tiny tot. Carson was just 1 month shy of his 17th birthday, November 23rd. He knew and loved God, loved his family and friends, and loved to make others smile. Carson had such a huge heart, and would give whatever he had to help someone. He was so proud of his family and his love for them showed when he was with them. His personality was so outgoing… as long as you were laughing and smiling he was having a great time!

On the morning of October 23, 2016, Carson’s family went to wake him up to start the day only to find that he was not breathing. EMS arrived and made every attempt to save Carson, however it was unsuccessful. Carson passed away in their family home in Austin, Texas.

Carson leaves behind his parents, Robert and Dana; his older brother, Colton; grandparents, numerous aunts and uncles, cousins, and a lot of friends. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten.

His death was very unexpected and I have started this fundraiser to help with the funeral expenses. The death of a child is something that no family is every prepared for, emotionally or financially.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please say a prayer for the family, share the link to this page, and please donate if you can. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

Carson Scott Lebkowsky

November 23, 1999 – October 23, 2016

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Twitter to cut hundreds of jobs

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I still love Twitter and hope it finds a way forward. But it looks like all the potential suitors have passed on buying it, and job cuts are in the offing.

Twitter Inc., having failed to sell itself, is planning to fire about 8 percent of its workforce as the struggling social-media company prepares to go it alone for the time being. Twitter may eliminate about 300 people, the same percentage it did last year when co-founder Jack Dorsey took over as chief executive officer, according to people familiar with the matter. Planning for the cuts is still fluid and the number could change, they added. The people asked not to be identified talking about private company plans.

The other day, “George Zimmerman” was trending again. It was right there in the little box on the homepage. When you clicked on this hashtag, the second result was (and still is) an exhortation to follow a fake/ironic George Zimmerman account, with this bio:

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Perhaps I get unique results for some algorithmic or settings-based reason that escapes me; it shows up irrespective of whether I have the “sensitive media” content filters checked. It looks like anyone from Salesforce or Disney who fired up Twitter last week and clicked on this promoted topical hashtag got this in their face. Maybe it’s naive to think they would have been influenced by this, or that it’s an easy thing to exclude at Twitter’s scale. But I can’t escape the nagging feeling that it being there represents a decision. I don’t get it.

So I guess my question for Twitter is this: what value is there in telling people, who click on a top trending hashtag, of Fake George Zimmerman’s opinion of niggers? Why is that worth keeping, when 300 employees aren’t?

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Beautifully color-coded watershed maps of America

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You can buy high-res versions on Etsy, with Europe and other countries also on offer.

High resolution map of all the permanent and temporary streams and rivers of the contiguous 48 states in beautiful rainbow colours, divided into catchment areas. It shows Strahler Stream Order Classification. The higher the stream order, the thicker the line. Map made mostly with the open-source QGIS software.

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Why The NYT buying The Wirecutter is such a big deal

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Yesterday, we learned The Wirecutter (with sister site The Sweethome) was headed to New York City. It’s the sort of good ending that’s also a good beginning: they succeeded in their mission and have bright prospects for further growth. But Matt Haughie points out how much of the story everyone’s missing: the entire site is a mere 1,000 posts.

I don’t think anyone gives Brian the credit he deserves

1. He single-handedly built his own empire without having to cater to advertisers or investors.

2. He built a site that made revenue in a way that was previously uncharted.

3. He built it according to his own rules, without needing to pressure writers and editors to publish as often as possible.

4. He built a brand and a site that launched many copycats but no one ever matched it.

5. His sites work thanks to trust built up between readers and writers, and it works because editors help maintain integrity since the day it launched.

6. He did it all in a place far, far from the tech hubs of SF and NYC, in Honolulu. Where he gets to surf almost daily.

Not great taste in sub-cubic foot microwave ovens tho.

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Great computer games you can finish in one day

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I love computer games but don’t have time to plow through countless hours of padded-out nonsense. As I’ve enjoyed several of the picks in Joshua Rivera’s roundup of 21 games you can finish in 6 hours or less, I’ll surely be hitting the rest too! Pictured above is Campo Santo’s Firewatch, worthy of two plays through to catch any backstory you missed the first time.

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Every Android device potentially vulnerable to "most serious" Linux escalation attack, ever

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The Dirty Cow vulnerability dates back to code included in the Linux kernel in 2007, and it can be trivially weaponized into an easy-to-run exploit that allows user-space programs to execute as root, meaning that attackers can take over the entire device by getting their targets to run apps without administrator privileges.

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Downticket Republican candidates threaten libel suits over TV spots tying them to Trump

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Five Republican Congressional candidates — Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) — have threatened broadcasters with libel suits over Democratic campaign ads that tie the men to their own party’s presidential candidate, millionaire Donald J Trump.
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Comedy writer has exactly the right response to his kid's Fahrenheit 451 permission slip

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Daily Show writer Daniel Radosh’s son came home from school with a permission slip that he’d have to sign before the kid could read Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, which is widely believed to be an anti-censorship book (Bradbury himself insisted that this was wrong, and that the book was actually about the evils of television).
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Texas county commissioner candidate's election ad is pretty great

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Gerald Daugherty, a Republican county commissioner in the Austin-area Travis County, has produced one of the best ad-spots of the season, depicting him as a politics-obsessed public servant whose long-suffering, side-eyeing wife can’t wait for him to be re-elected so she won’t have to listen to him drone on about how much he wants to help people and fix things in the county.
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Donald Trump's super PAC promised a Chinese millionaire access, influence in exchange for a secret $2 million donation

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Reporters posing as representatives of a Chinese tycoon approached Trump and Clinton PACs and offered them $2 million; only the Giuliani and Trump, Junior-backed Great America PAC agreed, and moreover, assured the fake Chinese benefactor that the origin of the contribution would be covered up and that he would have influence with Trump after the election.
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EFF asks court to let American sue Ethiopia for hacking his computer and rounding up his friends

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Since 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been representing “Mr Kidane,” an Ethiopian-born US citizen whose computer the Ethiopian government hacked while he was living in DC, in order to extract the identities of his contacts in Ethiopia and target them for violent human-rights-abusing reprisals over their democratic opposition to the country’s ruling dictatorship.
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Al Franken and FCC commissioner Clyburn want limits on forced arbitration

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Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding “binding arbitration” clauses to the fine print in take-it-or-leave contracts, the US justice system has gone dark, which an ever-larger proportion of legal action disappearing into the opaque bowels of the arbitration system, where the richest participant usually wins.

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Mercedes' weird "Trolley Problem" announcement continues dumb debate about self-driving cars

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In 1967, Philippa Foot posed the “Trolley Problem,” an ethical conundrum about whether a bystander should be sacrificed to rescue the passengers of a speeding, out-of-control trolley; as self-driving cars have inched toward reality, this has been repurposed as a misleadingly chin-stroking question about autonomous vehicles: when faced with the choice of killing their owners or someone else, who should die?
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