Thursday, 23 March

16:00 EDT

Worst hike ever [Pharyngula]

I’ve hiked hazardous routes along the Washington coast — it’s a beautiful place with these gorgeous crescent beaches separated by spectacular rocky headlands — and before you set out you have to heed all the warnings. If you get caught on those headlands when the tide comes in, you may have to choose between going straight up a jagged, overhanging cliff or swimming out to sea in a swirl of complex currents. There are also bears.

I don’t think I’d want to hike the Broomway in England, though.

broomway

For one, at low tide, it’s a long gray mudflat. It’s not exactly scenic.

For another, the destination of your walk is a place called “Foulness Island”. This is not a name that would have been chosen by any tourism board. Saying you live on Foulness Island conjures up images of surly, decrepit villains hiding out in hovels and scheming bitterly to murder visitors and steal their shoes to enable escape. It sounds like a place infested with ticks and anthrax.

It’s worse. It’s deadly.

Depending on the time of year, you have a window of three to four hours to explore the Broomway before the tide returns. Unlike other tidal flats where the water gently rises, the speed of the incoming tide is described as faster than a person can run. Even worse, the rising waters interact with outflow from the nearby Crouch and Roach rivers to create deadly hidden whirlpools.

Nearly every site I’ve visited warns that no matter how good a swimmer you are, if you’re caught on the Broomway when the tide comes in, you’re likely to perish.

Still interested in taking a jaunt down the Broomway? You’ll first need permission from Britain’s Ministry of Defence. The military took over much of Foulness Island in the early 20th century for artillery exercises and still controls access. Adding to the path’s notoriety are large signs near the entrance warning “Do not approach or touch any object or debris as it may explode and kill you.”

In case you’re wondering, it’s the first week after Spring break, and I was already fantasizing about exotic island getaways, and this was one of the places that turned up in my google search. I think I need to come up with better search terms. Or erase my contaminating search history somehow.

That’s half the story [Pharyngula]

Jim Sterling has an excellent essay on the recent exposure of certain youtubers for their ugly remarks, which has led to quite a bit of furor as they gasp in shock that anyone would call them out on this, let alone cause them a loss of income, while a muddling mob roars in support or protest. He makes the very good point that if you’re making tens of thousands, or even millions of dollars, playing games on the internet, then you must be the focus of a lot of attention, and you should be aware that people will notice you and sometimes criticize you. I can assure you that being public and opinionated does not mean you get parades of flowers and that everyone loves you.

He points out that the naiveté of these youtubers is silly, and also that trying to defend them by arguing that it’s simply because people have different views does not work — it forgets that communication is a two-way street, and if Famous Rich Youtuber gets to say offensive things as their right, then their audience also gets to express their criticisms.

“Sometimes people are gonna say things you don’t like,” explained Boogie in his video. “People are gonna have ideas and opinions that you don’t enjoy.”

This is true and it works both ways. One opinion and idea that several big YouTubers don’t enjoy right now is that YouTubers are relevant enough to make headlines and become international controversies. One opinion and idea that several big YouTubers don’t enjoy right now is that, no, you can’t share your racist beliefs and expect nobody to argue back.

The Internet has warped the idea of “free speech” to mean “speech without consequence” and that’s simply not what it is.

But one thing Sterling does not get into, at least in this essay, is that these aren’t just “words”, they’re ideas, and ideas have meanings and most importantly, can be wrong. It would be lovely to pretend that they’re just lexical strings, and Person A has emitted a string that provokes a different string from Person B, but both A and B are actively translating those strings into meaning, and may also translate them further into actions. We too often excuse those meanings by saying “it’s just their opinion,” but sometimes those opinions can be looked up in the truth table of reality, and that function returns a value of FALSE (Or NaN, or ERROR, or SYSTEM FAILURE, or CODE RED: MISSILES HAVE BEEN LAUNCHED.)

One response is to wag our fingers and announce that they’ve lost our eyeballs and our revenue — a purely personal and singular punishment by neglect. But sometimes that isn’t enough. When someone declares that they think all gingers ought to be lined up and shot, yes, you should turn away and shun them. But what if they have a mob of thousands at their back who all agree about the ginger exterminations? You’ve left the group, but there are still all the others who are working together and coordinating and praising the initial head eliminationist. You aren’t going to slow them down a bit.

Here’s another problem: sometimes, maybe, in addition to being wrong and stupid on some things, the person is brilliant on others. We don’t have a way to chop up the mosaic of attributes of a person and dispose of the nasty bits and keep the good parts. Now what?

For example, I think Dave Chappelle is an amazing comedian — talented and revolutionary. I have loved the guy’s routines in the past, and you can see that he’s intelligent and insightful.

He’s also…problematic, a word that is also problematically over-used. Here’s a story of Chapelle in a comedy club that praises his skills but also highlights his difficulties.

But the truth is that Chappelle’s set was riddled with transphobia, homophobia, and a bit about the Ray Rice incident that changed the energy in the room in a tangible way. He talked about seeing a drunk “transvestite” at a party, mocked her, and complained about having his pronouns corrected when he referred to her as “he”. He maintained that he should be able to use whatever pronouns he wanted. He called her a man in a dress. This bit was not really a joke, just a strange, awkward story, but people laughed. It was pure, absolute, unabashed transphobia, and it broke my fucking heart.

He then started talking about “the gays”, essentially saying that he doesn’t understand why they need a whole parade because everybody has freaky sex. He compared his foot fetish and the negative reactions and judgment he’s gotten from people for it to being gay. Don’t get me wrong – the personal stuff about his foot fucking was VERY funny. But comparing his sexual proclivities to the experience of gay people was also, ultimately, problematic and misguided. I was sitting there in the front row, laughing at his jokes but simultaneously confused and upset by where some of them were coming from, and why he felt the need to talk about being mugged by a man who he “knew” was gay from the way he walked. It was the most conflicted I’ve ever felt about comedy.

That was written in 2014.

Now he has a new comedy special on Netflix, and I have been strongly tempted to watch it — it’ll probably make me laugh throughout — but I’ve also heard that it is problematic in exactly the same way as that comedy set from 2½ years ago. There will be hilarious bits, and there will be parts that are just plain wrong and that hurt people. People are murdered for being gay or transgender, and since Chapelle is neither, he comes across as trivializing the pain of others. It kinda rips the humor out of the routine.

So I’m doing the minimal response. I’m choosing not to watch it. The ratings for his show will decline by a few thousandths of a percent.

But I also wonder if there isn’t something more that should be done. If Chappelle had been strongly chastised in 2014, maybe his 2017 special would be better. Maybe we’re doing harm to Chappelle by not loudly correcting him when he is so terribly wrong.

Because let’s make no bones about it, Chappelle is just as wrong and damaging about gay and transgender people as those youtubers are wrong and damaging about race. It’s also more than just insensitivity — these are views that do real harm to human beings.

Boy, 4, Uses Siri To Help Save Mum's Life [Slashdot]

A four-year-old boy saved his mother's life by using her thumb to unlock her iPhone and then asking it to call 999. From a report: Roman, who lives in Kenley, Croydon, south London, used the phone's voice control -- Siri -- to call emergency services. Police and paramedics were sent to the home and were able to give live-saving first aid to his mother.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'New' Clouds Earn Atlas Recognition [Slashdot]

Twelve "new" types of cloud -- including the rare, wave-like asperitas cloud -- have been recognized for the first time by the International Cloud Atlas. From a report: The atlas, which dates back to the 19th Century, is the global reference book for observing and identifying clouds. Last revised in 1987, its new fully-digital edition includes the asperitas after campaigns by citizen scientists. Other new entries include the roll-like volutus, and contrails, clouds formed from the vapour trail of aeroplanes. Since its first publication in 1896, the International Cloud Atlas has become an important reference tool for people working in meteorological services, aviation and shipping. The first edition contained 28 coloured photographs and set out detailed standards for classifying clouds. The last full edition was published in 1975 with a revision in 1987, which quickly became a collector's item. Now, embracing the digital era, the new atlas will initially be available as a web portal, and accessible to the public for the first time.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

15:00 EDT

Guardian tackles the subject of divorce profitability [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

“The biggest financial risk for women today? Embarking on a relationship” (Guardian) looks at divorce under U.K. family law, which is similar to what prevails in the winner-take-all U.S. states, e.g., New York, California, and Massachusetts. As in the U.S., the majority of divorce lawsuits are filed by women and, as in the U.S., plaintiffs express dissatisfaction with (a) how they were unable to extract as much cash as they had hoped from defendants, and (b) how the profitability of the divorce was impaired by transaction costs such as legal fees.

A principal point in the article seems to be that women who marry shouldn’t quit their jobs, but they don’t look at what happens if the husband responds to this increase in household income by quitting his job or scaling back his career. As in the example in Massachusetts Prenuptial Agreements, a woman who has a successful career can become the target of a “dependent spouse” who traded her in on a 25-year-old from Craigslist. The U.K., like the U.S., has gender-neutral alimony laws.

The Guardian doesn’t have the bad taste to point out that the subject of the article would have been a lot better off financially if she’d had three out-of-wedlock children with three different high-income fathers than by being in a medium-term marriage with a medium-income partner (the unemployed guy (50+? The article doesn’t give his age) whom she was counting on to support her, post-marriage, had a pension worth a risible $282,500).

Anti-theft toilet paper dispenser with facial recognition technology [Boing Boing]

The public bathroom at Beijing's Temple of Heaven Park now has a toilet paper dispenser outfitted with a camera and facial recognition technology to prevent toilet paper theft. From the New York Times:

Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a machine dispenses a sheet of toilet paper, precisely two feet in length. If visitors require more, they are out of luck. The machine will not dispense a second roll to the same person for nine minutes.

At the Temple of Heaven Park, one of Beijing’s busiest tourist sites, many people said on Monday they were pleased by the new machines.

“The people who steal toilet paper are greedy,” said He Zhiqiang, 19, a customer service worker from the northwestern region of Ningxia. “Toilet paper is a public resource. We need to prevent waste...”

I agree with park visitor Wang Jianquan, 63: “The sheets are too short."

"China’s High-Tech Tool to Fight Toilet Paper Bandits" (NYT)

Amazing body paint illusion of a woman cut in half [Boing Boing]

Israeli makeup magician Ilana Kolihanov created this wonderfully creepy optical illusion. See more of her incredible work on her Instagram feed.

Roku's Streaming Stick helps make travel not as horrible [Boing Boing]

I hate to travel, but Roku's Streaming Stick lets me take my home TV viewing experience with me.

While we've tried AppleTV, Xbox One, and a Google Chromecast stick, my daughter and I both prefer Roku. We've got all the apps we like loaded, and our profile's and linked devices keep everything current.

The stick is just too handy. I plug it into the back of my hotel room's TV and magically all my media appears.

Roku Streaming Stick (3600R) (2016 Model) via Amazon

Feds: We’re pulling data from 100 phones seized during Trump inauguration [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: ymgerman / Getty Images News)

In new filings, prosecutors told a court in Washington, DC that within the coming weeks, they expect to extract all data from the seized cellphones of more than 100 allegedly violent protesters arrested during the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Prosecutors also said that this search is validated by recently issued warrants.

The court filing, which was first reported Wednesday by BuzzFeed News, states that approximately half of the protestors prosecuted with rioting or inciting a riot had their phones taken by authorities. Prosecutors hope to uncover any evidence relevant to the case. Under normal judicial procedures, the feds have vowed to share such data with defense attorneys and to delete all irrelevant data.

"All of the Rioter Cell Phones were locked, which requires more time-sensitive efforts to try to obtain the data," Jennifer Kerkhoff, an assistant United States attorney, wrote.

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Capcom needs PC gamers’ help to test online Street Fighter V fixes [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Wanna try out SFV's latest fighter, Kolin, for free? Capcom's week-long online-update beta, starting next week, will let you do just that.

Ars' review of Street Fighter V in February of last year began with this simple declaration: "Definitely good, definitely unfinished." Now 13 months later, Capcom is finally tiptoeing toward the fighting game's complete state as one of the game's most crucial elements will get a major unveil next weekend: a full netcode rehaul.

"We understand that Street Fighter V’s server performance has been a less than optimal experience for many of our players," a Capcom staffer frankly admitted at the company's official blog on Thursday. That comment was followed by an announcement of the "Capcom Fighters Network" (basically, the game's underlying matchmaking and connectivity system) receiving a full overhaul—and a week-long freebie to put money where Capcom's mouth is.

To prove the upgrades out, Capcom will unlock the game's online modes for everyone in the world as a separate, free download via Steam starting Tuesday, March 28. If you already own the game, the beta will carry over your current online stats; if you don't, you'll start fresh. Either way, it's free for all Windows Steam gamers until the beta closes on Monday, April 3, and all current characters from both SFV seasons will be unlocked for free as well. The beta will simultaneously test the latest balance tweaks set to reach the official game.

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Tesla might have real competition soon—meet the Lucid Air [Ars Technica]

Jonathan Gitlin

It's still surprising that Tesla has had the high-end electric car market to itself for all these years. The Model S has existed for nearly five years, and even today, potential rivals remain in the prototype stages. Porsche is going ahead with the Mission E. Faraday Future has the FF91 under development, and then there's Lucid. Formerly known as Atieva, it's backed by the same Chinese billionaire as Faraday Future, and this week the company brought a prototype of its first model to Washington, DC, for us to check out.

Small on the outside, big on the inside

With its concept car looks and a pearlescent coat of paint, the Lucid Air certainly drew people's attention as it sat parked outside of one of the US Senate buildings. The first thing that strikes you is the car's relative compactness. Lucid CTO (and former Model S chief engineer) Peter Rawlinson explained that the goal was to be a similar size to the Mercedes-Benz E Class on the outside but with S Class-beating space on the inside.

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Shielding MAC addresses from stalkers is hard and Android fails miserably at it [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: Christiaan Colen)

In early 2015, architects of Google's Android mobile operating system introduced a new feature that was intended to curtail the real-time tracking of smartphones as their users traversed retail stores, city streets, and just about anywhere else. A recently published research paper found that the measure remains missing on the vast majority of Android phones and is easily defeated on the relatively small number of devices that do support it.

Like all Wi-Fi-enabled devices, smartphones are constantly scanning their surroundings for available access points, and with each probe, they send a MAC—short for media access control—address associated with the handset. Throughout most of the history of Wi-Fi, the free exchange of MAC addresses didn't pose much threat to privacy. That all changed with the advent of mobile computing. Suddenly MAC addresses left a never-ending series of digital footprints that revealed a dizzying array of information about our comings and goings, including what time we left the bar last night, how many times we were there in the past month, the time we leave for work each day, and the route we take to get there.

Eventually, engineers at Apple and Google realized the potential for abuse and took action. Their solution was to rotate through a sequence of regularly changing pseudo-random addresses when casually probing near-by access points. That way, Wi-Fi devices that logged MAC addresses wouldn't be able to correlate probes to a unique device. Only when a phone actually connected to a Wi-Fi network would it reveal the unique MAC address it was tied to. Apple introduced MAC address randomization in June 2014, with the release of iOS 8. A few months later, Google's Android operating system added experimental support for the measure. Full implementation went live in March 2015 and is currently available in version 5.0 through the current 7.1; those versions account for about two-thirds of the Android user base.

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Senate votes to let ISPs sell your Web browsing history to advertisers [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | KrulUA)

The US Senate today voted to eliminate broadband privacy rules that would have required ISPs to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other companies.

The rules were approved in October 2016 by the Federal Communications Commission's then-Democratic leadership, but are opposed by the FCC's new Republican majority and Republicans in Congress. The Senate today used its power under the Congressional Review Act to ensure that the FCC rulemaking "shall have no force or effect" and to prevent the FCC from issuing similar regulations in the future.

The House, also controlled by Republicans, would need to vote on the measure before the privacy rules are officially eliminated. President Trump could also preserve the privacy rules by issuing a veto. If the House and Trump agree with the Senate's action, ISPs won't have to seek customer approval before sharing their browsing histories and other private information with advertisers.

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CD, DVD pirate sentenced to 5 years in prison [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: imbd.com)

A Senegalese man was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered Wednesday to pay the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America $71,000 in restitution for his role in an Atlanta-based DVD and CD pirating operation that unlawfully sold millions of copies of copyrighted works without authorization from rights holders.

Mamadou Aliou Simakha had pleaded guilty in 2010 to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement but then fled the country. He was arrested last year in Morocco and extradited to the US in December, the authorities said. The FBI investigated the case with a variety of government agencies in addition to the RIAA and MPAA.

"Simakha admitted his part as a high-volume seller in a conspiracy to produce and traffic millions of pirated music CDs and DVDs which was a leading supplier for the southeastern US," John Horn, the US attorney, said in a statement. “His decision to flee the country garnered him the statutory maximum sentence he deserves for his many years as a disc counterfeiter and international fugitive."

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What to Do With Leftover Hoagies, Subs, and Grinders [Lifehacker]

Though I’m fully aware that most of you have never seen or even heard of a “leftover sandwich,” I am in the habit of ordering foot-long subs, and this habit often leaves me with an extra six inches of sandwich. This is not a tragedy, but once the bread gets soggy, I am no longer willing to put it in my mouth. The…

Read more...

Here's One of the Cheapest Car Battery Jump Starter Deals We've Ever Seen [Lifehacker]

This Suaoki portable jump starter isn’t the most powerful model out there—at 400A, it’s only going to work on relatively small cars with 2.5L or smaller engines—but $25 is one of the best prices we’ve ever seen on a product like this.

Read more...

What Kind of Bad Choice Are House Republicans Facing? [Lifehacker]

The American Health Care Act is scheduled for a vote in the House today. This puts Republican representatives in a tight spot. Is it a Sophie’s choice? A Hobson’s choice? A garden variety dilemma? Let’s take a look.

Read more...

The Antarctica Ice Marathon 100k Video [IMPOSSIBLE ®]

What do you do at the bottom of the earth in -10º temperatures? Run 100 kilometers, obviously.

This was the 13th and final running of the Ice Marathon 100k (You can read the written recap here).

Welcome to Union Glacier, Antarctica. This is the Ice Marathon 100k. IMPOSSIBLE.

The Ice Marathon 100k Race Short

Join the 777 Project Here

The 777 Project

The 777 Project is an endurance, adventure and philanthropic initiative by Joel Runyon & IMPOSSIBLE to run 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in order to raise money & awareness to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise and provide opportunities to those for whom a basic education can be impossible.

As of this post, I’ve run 6 ultra marathons on 6 continents and we’ve collectively raised $126,692 – enough to build 5 schools – and counting! You can see previous races recaps + videos below.

I am matching all donations through IMPOSSIBLE through the end of the project. If you’d like to get involved, you can donate here and 2x your donation automatically.

Previous 777 Race Recaps

Previous 777 Race Video Shorts

71 Percent of Android Phones On Major US Carriers Have Out of Date Security Patches [Slashdot]

Ian Barker, writing for BetaNews: Slow patching of security flaws is leaving many US mobile users at risk of falling victim to data breaches according to the findings of a new report. The study from mobile defense specialist Skycure analyzed patch updates among the five leading wireless carriers in the US and finds that 71 percent of mobile devices still run on security patches more than two months old. This is despite Google releasing Android patches every month, indeed six percent of devices are running patches that are six or more months old. Without the most updated patches, these devices are susceptible to attacks, including rapidly rising network attacks and new malware, also detailed in the report.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Link [tinywords]

spring like nobody’s watching

Science-Loving Teens From Ghana And D.C. Geek Out Together [News : NPR]

Ghanaian and American team members met for the first time at the competition, held in Washington, D.C.

They competed in the first World Smarts STEM Challenge. We got to know the team that worked on a water purifier using neem leaves and ... cilantro.

(Image credit: Ryan Eskalis/NPR)

South Korea Tries To Raise Sewol Ferry Nearly 3 Years After Deadly Sinking [News : NPR]

Workers attempt to salvage the sunken Sewol ferry in waters off the island of Jindo, South Korea. The Sewol sank in April 2014, killing more than 300 people.

More than 300 people perished in the disaster, mostly high school students on a field trip. Investigators hope to better understand why the ship sank once the Sewol is raised and put in dry dock.

(Image credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Jaguar Land Rover now offering $20 per month unlimited data plan [The Verge - All Posts]

Jaguar Land Rover and AT&T have partnered up to offer a $20-per-month, unlimited, prepaid data plan for owners of select JLR cars. This makes JLR the second automaker after General Motors to offer an unlimited data plan for its in-car Wi-Fi hot spots.

Notably, this car-based unlimited data plans does not include the same 22GB soft cap as AT&T’s standalone unlimited plans — users can use as much data as they want. With smartphone- and tablet-based plans, once a particular device has exceeded 22GB of data use in a month, AT&T will throttle data speeds if the device is connected to a congested cell tower.

A number of US carriers have begun rolling out unlimited data plans recently, and the $20 in-car plan — with unlimited data for multiple...

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The Nowa Shaper and the MyKronz ZeTime: a tale of two smartwatch Kickstarters [The Verge - All Posts]

Should a hybrid smartwatch take modern tech back in time or bring legacy timekeeping mechanisms to today’s digital watches? Two new smartwatches hit Kickstarter this morning, peddling radically different visions of what the future of connected watches should look like: the Nowa Shaper and the MyKronoz ZeTime.

At their heart, the two watches are built around the same concept: that a timepiece should offer mechanical hands to tell time. But the execution is where things begin to differ, as the two approach the problem from very different directions. The Nowa Shaper is a more traditional hybrid smartwatch that takes a classic mechanical watch design and subtly sneaks in a few extra smarts, while the ZeTime takes modern touchscreen...

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Curling is way more watchable when the stones are replaced with Soviet-era cars [The Verge - All Posts]

Curling is not the most riveting sport in the world to watch. The fact that you can earn an Olympic medal for sliding a heavy stone across some ice seems a little ludicrous, but I’m sure it has its finer points. (Scrubbing the ice with those brooms looks pretty athletic, I guess.) Leave it to a bunch of Russians to find a way to make curling a thousand times more interesting by replacing the stones with cars and turning the whole thing into a demolition derby on ice.

According to RT, the Urals city of Ekaterinburg recently hosted an exhibition tournament where curling enthusiasts used stripped-down Soviet-era cars in place of stones. Four teams of 10, including one professional curling team, pushed the compact cars across a frozen...

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Dell’s next-level 8K monitor is now on sale for $5,000 [The Verge - All Posts]

Dell announced its 32-inch 8K desktop display — the UP3218K — at CES this year, which promises a resolution of 7680 x 4320 with a pixel density of 280ppi. Today, that monitor is available to order through Dell’s website for $4,999.99. It’s expected to ship on April 14th.

Now, most of us probably aren’t in the market to drop $5,000 on a new display, but Dell thinks people who work in photography or other highly visual areas might be tempted to buy it. The monitor is usable in the sense that it’s not super bulky and can be adjusted to tilt, swivel, move up and down, or turn. I’m infinitely jealous of anyone who gets to play with this, so please let me know how it goes and how you successfully convince your IT department that you need it...

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Twitter is being unbundled before our eyes [The Verge - All Posts]

On Tuesday, Reddit announced it was introducing profile pages. The Reddit profile contains a list of the user’s posts in reverse-chronological order, and a follow button for subscribing to them. Co-founder Alexis Ohanian told The Verge that profiles are “a very big level-up for Reddit as a platform,” saying they would encourage users to share posts that might not work on the site’s topic-specific subreddits. The feature may feel familiar to Twitter users, and there was something ruthless in the timing of the announcement: it came on Twitter’s 11th birthday.

The new Reddit profiles are the second major Twitter clone to appear this month, following the announcement of Pulse — a Twitter-like stream of content posted to the front page of...

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5 reasons Brett Ratner’s Rotten Tomatoes complaints are garbage [The Verge - All Posts]

In 2017, Hollywood is struggling with declining ticket sales, increased competition from other media, botched international co-productions, and the threat of cultural irrelevance. But Brett Ratner has found the real target: review aggregators!

At last weekend’s Sun Valley Film Festival, the director of the Rush Hour trilogy went on the offensive against Rotten Tomatoes for popularizing the numerical rating of films. It’s an awkward, whiny rant largely about Batman v Superman, a film his company RatPac Entertainment co-financed.

Here’s the important part of his polemic:

“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film...

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Muji created a sixth pocket for our smartphones [The Verge - All Posts]

Editor-in-chief of Recode and friend of The Verge Dan Frommer tweeted this today, bringing Muji’s sixth pocket to my attention:

The pocket, which looks like a simple seam, is actually specifically designed to hold smartphones. Even phones kept in cases. Whoa! Ingenuity. These pants debuted in January this year, so we’re a little late to them, but I think we still need to acknowledge this invention. Have any of you tried them out? Can you report back on how you like this pocket?

The pocket is designed to keep you from sitting on your phone, which is definitely a real issue, but also makes me wonder if your phone is actually at a bigger liability in this position....

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10 things you can learn from a terrible Twitter account [The Verge - All Posts]

To paraphrase first lady Michelle Obama: even when something is absolutely terrible, possibly the worst in history, it also represents an opportunity — for you to do the same thing but the opposite.

The Twitter account operated by Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and current spouter of dangerous bullshit, is terrible — you don’t need me to tell you that. Many have already noticed that Mike Huckabee’s Twitter is bad enough to remark upon, and subsequently remarked upon it. What you do need me to tell you is that Mike Huckabee’s Twitter is also an opportunity. An opportunity for you and I to learn how to have a good Twitter account, the opposite of a bad Twitter account.

At the end of this valuable how-to you will be good at...

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US Senate votes to let internet providers share your web browsing history without permission [The Verge - All Posts]

The US Senate has voted to overturn consumer-friendly internet privacy rules that would have prevented internet providers from sharing your web browsing history without permission.

The privacy rules, passed last year by the FCC, required internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to get each customer’s permission before sharing personal information like which websites they visit. But internet providers want to be able to sell that data and use it to target ads, so they’ve been vocal about opposing the rules since around the time President Trump took office.

This vote uses the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress strike down recently passed rules by federal...

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Creating a Lush World of Trans Woman Literature [Latest Articles]

Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performance artist, social worker, and fierce trans femme. Bitch Media not only recognizes the great literary works of artists, but we want to celebrate the artist as person with their own creative practice and personal narrative separate from their celebrated work.  Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha reviewed Kai Cheng Thom’s latest work, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir, and followed up with this gorgeous conversation.

LEAH LAKSHMI PIEPZNA-SAMARASINHA: The very first line in Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars reads: “I don't believe in safe spaces. They don't exist. I do, however, believe in dangerous stories.” Later, after a time of great pain, struggle, and loss, the protagonist's best friend, Kimaya, declares, “What we need is a storytelling night,” and the femmes come together and heal through performing just for each other. Tell me more about how dangerous stories have saved you and people you love and what kind of dangerous stories you most want to write.

KAI CHENG THOM: Dangerous stories are the only kind of stories I know how to tell because my life has never been a safe story. The supposedly ''safe'' stories and ''safe'' spaces have always been the ones that have shut me down, locked me out, erased or attacked my body and my voice—and this includes queer stories and spaces too. Storytelling has always been my savior by allowing me to tear open the truth of my own experience when no one else would do it for me. Telling the truth is always dangerous, however, because truth exposes you to repressive violence and also to the vulnerability that comes from acknowledging your own flaws.  

These are the kind of stories I most want to write: The stories that demand courage, demand integrity, refuse to look away from pain and violence and ugliness, and in holding them up to the light, heals them and makes them beautiful. I want stories that sift the truth from lies and give lie to false truths. I want stories that make me a better person and make my communities better at loving—stories that are triggering, that break our badly healed bones in order to reset them and heal them better.

Talk to me about running away as a theme that occurs and reoccurs throughout the book.

Running away is the queer and trans version of the classic hero's journey. It's the queero's journey! (Please forgive me for that. I just had to.) There is a long and powerful artistic/literary tradition of exploring queer coming of age and identity through themes of escape and running away, no doubt because so many of us grow up trapped in abusive and/or repressive environments.

I love the ''running away'' queer story trope because it is also the inversion of the exile or familial rejection narrative that haunts queer youth, this terror of being thrown out like trash. For the protagoness of FFNL, running away is an act of reclaiming her own agency in the face of rejection, of fleeing to the margins in order to find something better, about discovering herself in the face of loss. She dreams about becoming ''the greatest escape artist in the world,'' never again bound to anything or anyone she doesn't choose. I can relate.

What did you most want to capture about trans women of color's lives, coming of age stories, and communities in the book?

I was hoping to capture that wonderful, terrible, loving, violent, deeply upsetting, totally essential dynamic of sisterhood and shared destiny that binds trans women of color together. I wanted to show the vibrancy, jealousy, and collective care that TWOC sisters are so good at, how we can save each others' lives only to tear each other apart and then sew each other back together again. I wanted to show our brilliant diversity and our power as well as our ugliness and our weakness. I wanted to make a map of trans sisterhood that held many possible paths. I dream about young trans girls reading it and glimpsing all of the possibilities that they can be.

I loved how you wrote trauma and dissociation in FFNL. In the opening section of the book, the protagonist is stung by a cloud of bees as a young person, which reads like a metaphorical way for writing about a sexually abusive encounter. Later, she talks about her “ghost friend,” the ghost who visits her when she's cutting school in the graveyard and who is the only being that can make her orgasm—so much safer than human touch. Later still, when she meets a lover, ghost friend goes away. Can you tell us more about your choices in writing these trauma stories?

I love this question! Trauma and dissociation are, for many survivors, including myself, sites of mystery and painful, almost magical, experience. Trauma memories get twisted and blurred; they swim through the body like a poisonous drug. When I was writing the protagoness of FFNL, I knew that I had to show her carrying her trauma in a way that wasn't a cut-and-dry, straightforward list of symptoms that psychiatry tries to reduce us to. The idea of ''notorious liars'' was especially important to the story here: Readers may notice that the protagoness never actually tells her own trauma narrative in a straightforward way. Instead, she talks about killer bees invading her body and friendly ghosts giving her orgasms, which might be thought of as fantastical lies. Certainly, many victims of trauma are characterized as pathological liars when they try to express their truths in hospitals or police stations. I like to think that this shows readers that you don't have to be ''perfect victims'' or ''perfect survivors,'' you don't have to conform to someone else's idea of what trauma is, and you don't have to remember exactly what happened in order for your pain to be real. Your own story, your own body, is enough.

I also wanted to write about the incredible resilience and beauty that survivors of trauma can develop, the safety in dissociation and fantasy that we can create. There are phantom worlds inside of us that we can access when we need to, ghost friends that we can find when we are most in need.

How do you see your work fitting into a lineage or tradition? Who are the trans femme of color (and other) elder writers you respect?

My writing is absolutely descended from a lineage of queer and trans women writers and women of color writers. I find myself drawing a lot of inspiration from the examples of Asian and Black diasporic writers as well as queer women writers. FFNL in particular owes an enormous amount of inspiration to the novels Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai and Sub Rosa by Amber Dawn, both of which are books about queer girls who run away from home and find themselves in beautiful, terrifying new worlds. The protagoness of FFNL is also hugely influenced by the protagonist of queer writer Joey Comeau's Lockpick Pornography, which is about an incredibly violent, deeply nihilistic genderqueer activist.

In general, I am inspired all the time by too many queer and trans femme of color writers, artists, and activists to name! Just off the top of my head are YOU, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, the aforementioned Amber Dawn and Larissa Lai, Audre Lorde, Trish Salah, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chrystos, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, Gwen Benaway, jia qing wilson-yang, Janet Mock, and the list goes on and on.

You specifically mention trans femme elders, though, and I have to say that this is always hard for me.  Certainly there are elder trans women and femme writers I respect (and part of my respect is hesitating to call them elders when they might identify otherwise, ha!), including Trish, whom I mentioned, Viviane Namaste, Mirha-Soleil Ross, and Julia Serano. My struggle, I suppose, is partially again that none of these women are explicitly self-identified as elders, and some are relatively young. This reminds me that trans women so often die young, and there are very few of us who attain both the longevity and the acclaim necessary to take on the role of elders in a trans writing community. The other part of the struggle is that due to systemic deprivation of resources all the way from basic needs to literary platforms, trans woman and femme literature is a hugely underdeveloped, undervalued genre in mainstream society—and part of being a racialized trans woman from a working-class family who didn't formally study literature, I haven't been exposed to very many trans women writers that I didn't find and form community with on my own. So I don't really know very many trans femme elder writers beyond a scant handful, I'm afraid. And this makes me sad.

You’re known as someone who organizes, teaches, and writes about transformative justice at Everyday Feminism, as a counselor, and in your work in Montreal with groups like Monster Academy, which you cofounded. One of FFNL's main subjects is violence. The femmes of the book survive, and don't survive, racist, transphobic, and anti–sex worker violence, band together in a girl gang to fight back, and are both saved and traumatized by the process. How does FFNL engage with violence and transformative justice as subjects?

The question of violence is absolutely at the core of FFNL, and all the major characters grapple with it in their own way. Some, like Valaria the Goddess of War, see violence as the only viable revolutionary tool in resisting oppression. Others, like Kimaya, abhor violence and reject it totally. The protagoness is locked in an addictive relationship with violence, which she employs frequently and indiscriminately as a way of expressing her fear and rage. She loves violence because it makes her feel powerful in the wake of trauma and abuse, but she is also terrified that she is doomed to always harm the people that she loves. This inner conflict takes place in the context of an external conflict between the vigilante trans girl gang, the Lipstick Lacerators, and the police of the Street of Miracles.  

My explicit intention in writing these themes of violence was to explore questions that have been haunting me and my activist communities for as long as I can remember: How do we embrace violence as an effective and necessary revolutionary tool while also honoring and practicing other forms of making change? Are we capable of harnessing and controlling our so-called revolutionary violence, or will it consume us from within, manifesting itself as intimate partner violence and sexual assault? How can we heal as individuals and as communities from generation upon generation of violence that comes from external systems of oppression and from within our own communities? Why do we hurt the people we are supposed to care for most?

The book doesn't yield and give easy answers because I personally don't really have any answers. The only thing I know for certain is that we are all capable of violence, survival, redemption, and healing.

What scares and pisses you off the most about being a Visible Trans Writer? About being a trans femme of color writer in Canadian lit, or in lit period? What do you need to change?

You KNOW I am so all about this question right now!  Being a Visible Trans Writer is a great gift in terms of validation, acclaim, and getting more resources thrown at you, but it also totally sucks in terms of mental health, self-care, and being seen as a human being. We live in this really weird, shitty political moment where trans women writers are seen as really valuable in certain leftist and liberal circles, which is way more about mining us for our identities and bodies than it is about actually elevating trans women communities as a whole. Liberals can make money out of publishing bestselling memoirs, and leftists can get social justice political capital by associating themselves with trans women (and especially trans women of color). None of this actually changes the frequency with which trans women are exposed to violence and economic discrimination in job and housing markets. And it turns trans women against each other because it creates this sense of scarcity, of desperation to ''make it'' as one of the few token trans women who are allowed success. So this pisses me right the hell off.  

What frightens me is how disposable Visible Trans Writers (and Visible Trans Anythings) seem to be. There's this weird and scary activist culture that puts pressure on us to be politically perfect all the time and viciously punishes deviation from activist norms, like using the ''right'' language all the time (even though the ''right'' language can be elitist and inaccessible to many). So on the one hand, famous trans writers are elevated into this intensely fetishized status, and then on the other, they're taken down and exiled for not being good enough. Where's the room for our humanity in all of this? For our own journeys, relationships, dreams?  

I need this to change. I need social justice culture to deprioritize the creation of celebrities, insider cliques, and this false notion of activist goodness or purity and to reprioritize equitable distribution of resources, indispensability culture, and collective care. I need the act of creating art or writing to be seen not as a capitalist endeavour whose primary end is to generate money and create individual fame, but as a practice of public sharing and offering individual truths for the community to reflect on as a whole. Just because a writer or a poet or an emcee says something doesn't make it better or more true than anything else. It just means it sounds good. I think that we need to teach each other that the story-listeners are just as important as the storytellers, that listening or reading is not the same thing as consuming, and that art at its best is an act of shared humanity.

What are your trans woman of color literary dreams? What do you want the literary and poetic world to look like for trans women and femmes of color in the next five years?

Oh, gosh, this is an amazing question. I want so many things for trans women and trans femme writers! I dream of a world full of diverse, rad independent publishing initiatives backed by generous community funding and support that are dedicated to bringing trans femme voices into fruition. I want trans women who are racialized, disabled, working class, and sex workers to be given equal time, resources, and value to write and create and tell their own stories. I want a lush world of trans woman literature and poetry and art that help nurture and sustain trans women and femmes that is not constrained by capitalist concerns or tokenism or scarcity culture, by this idea that money is limited and there can only be one trans woman writer at a time and she should only write things that cis people are interested in hearing about trans people. Because I don't think that this is true. I think there is enough room, enough resources, for all of us. I think each of us has unique and powerful stories to tell.

Where do you want your work to go in the next decade? What are your dangerous desires?

I want my work to go into the hands of trans girls of color who need it! I want to write things that are about joy and pleasure and spirit and gratitude because I have so often written about pain and trauma and rage. I want to write about desire, sexual desire, because my desire and pleasure have been attacked and demonized and I am often still afraid of them. I want to celebrate myself and my glorious body, and I want to celebrate and nurture other trans women of color. I want my words to shine a light, for me and for them.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer femme sick and disabled Sri Lankan/ Irish/Roma writer, performance artist, educator and hell raiser. The Lambda and Stonewall Award winning author of Dirty River, Bodymap, Love Cake, Consensual Genocide and co-editor of The Revolution Starts At Home, she co-founded and co-directed QTPOC performance collective Mangos With Chili from 2005-2015. A lead artist with disability justice performance troupe Sins Invalid, she is currently finishing her new book of essays, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice Culture and book of poetry, Tonguebreakerbrownstargirl.org

14:00 EDT

Conservative trolls pretending to be black on Twitter "sad" and "obvious" [Boing Boing]

A sharp increase in right-wingers pretending to be black on Twitter as they troll people has been noted.

"I'm used to trolling, and it doesn't bother me, but the idea of a black woman selling her sons out to police with everything we know now was so sad to me that I couldn't wrap my mind around it. And the idea that anyone — let alone a black person — could say Emmett Till deserved to die is just so beyond the pale," he said.

Over the past few months, Black Twitter has noticed an increase in the number of white trolls creating fake Twitter accounts. Newkirk says he first noticed this around election time last year, when people began posting directions on how to create these fake accounts on websites and forums.

This sounds like a play-for-play repeat of a strategy defined during the gamergate imbroglio: a generic female name, a googled cutesy avatar and a comically idealized personality that supposedly will bring the enemy to their knees but which convinces no-one but fellow believers. "All very cartoonish," as Newkirk describes.

...one of the common mistakes trolls make is misusing or overusing African-American Vernacular English. "It's not just that they get the rules of AAVE wrong — both the spoken and written conventions — they also don't code switch the way black people do. Not a lot of effort goes into these accounts, in my honest opinion," Rosenbaum says.

Likewise, the gamergate-era trolls would mix up various strata of queer theory and feminism in precisely the same uncannily comical way. It's baffling until you realize they're doing it to impress one another, not to overcome the adversary. It would all be good fodder for a masters'-level sociology thesis about text.

This footage of the MTS Oceanos sinking is still astounding [Boing Boing]

In 1991 the crew of the MTS Oceanos abandoned the ship and its passengers to disaster. Overcome by bad weather, and bad decision-making, I believe no lives were lost.

Star Wars Rebels season three draws to an end [Boing Boing]

Season three of Star Wars Rebels has been fantastic! This week promises an epic showdown.

This season we've seen Mon Mothma bring the rebel fleet together, the Mandalorians begin to throw off the yoke of the Empire, and Obi-Wan dispatched an old evil in pure Kenobi style. Now, Grand Admiral Thrawn is set to spring his trap, destroy Phoenix Squadron and cripple the Rebellion.

We may know how this works out in the end, but watching them get there is a lot of fun.

An art adventure in a magicians' lair with Olivia De Berardinis & Thomas Kuntz [Boing Boing]

Amazing sculptor and automata creator Thomas Kuntz, legendary pin-up artist Olivia De Berardinis, and master event creator Bob Self, have teamed up to create an occult cabaret and bohemian art salon where practitioners and connoisseurs of the darker things in life can meet, mingle, and create!

They call it Spirit Drawing, and you can join them on June 3rd, 2017 in Los Angeles.

From the Spirit Drawing kickstarter:

Wait... What? Drawing Ghosts Is A Thing?

It is now!

Calling all fans of classic horror movies, haunted houses, Victorian spiritualism, and Grand Guignol theater! With your support, the inaugural "Spirit Drawing" get-together will take place in Los Angeles one night only when darkness falls on Saturday, June 3, 2017.

Seriously... A Haunted Art Happening?

Bob Self (Publisher of Baby Tattoo Books), Thomas Kuntz (Sculptor & Master Automaton Builder), and Olivia De Berardinis (Legendary Pinup Artist) had an idea... to gather a group of artists and magicians for an evening of creative inspiration and spooky entertainment.

"Spirit Drawing" will be a first-of-its-kind occult cabaret and bohemian art salon where practitioners and connoisseurs of the darker things in life can meet, mingle, and create.

You don't have to be an artist or a magician to attend. In fact, there are only two prerequisites for ticket holders. You must be 18 or older and you must have an appreciation for things that go bump in the night.

If you are a curious and adventuresome person • If you love art and/or magic • If you enjoy the thrill of new experiences - You will fit right in with the ghosts and ghouls at our event. Artists are encouraged to bring art supplies. Conjurors are urged to bring the unexpected! Casual observers are cautioned to leave assumptions about reality behind.

What Will Happen When I Walk In The Door?

Event attendees will have an unprecedented opportunity to examine legendary artifacts from the seldom-seen "Carnival of Art & Magic" archives, including the actual disembodied head used by the infamous Mistress of the Phantasmagoric Skull during the height of her popularity as a spirit medium in the 1800s. The skull will be presented by fetish supermodel Ulorin Vex, attired in a manner reminiscent of the original Mistress who tended to perform séances scantily clad or in the nude.

You've Got To Be Kidding... Fetish Models? Disembodied Heads?

We are not kidding! Join us on June 3, 2017 if you dare! We promise the experience will be rewarding.

You may reserve your space through Kickstarter.

San Francisco: ODC's stunning new season of contemporary dance [Boing Boing]

Tonight (Thursday, 3/23), San Francisco's magnificent contemporary dance company ODC launches their 2017 season that includes two world-premiere dances, live music, and reprises of Brenda Way's Walk Back the Cat and Kate Weare's Giant. Every year, ODC astounds me with creativity, freshness, and compelling narratives told through sublime motion.

Tickets available here.

More: "ODC show examines what we hold on to, through dance" (SFGATE)

https://vimeo.com/209625112

https://vimeo.com/201354863

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZqKt95x2sM

Senate Votes To Kill FCC's Broadband Privacy Rules [Slashdot]

The Senate voted 50-48 along party lines Thursday to repeal an Obama-era law that requires internet service providers to obtain permission before tracking what customers look at online and selling that information to other companies. PCWorld adds: The Senate's 50-48 vote Thursday on a resolution of disapproval would roll back Federal Communications Commission rules requiring broadband providers to receive opt-in customer permission to share sensitive personal information, including web-browsing history, geolocation, and financial details with third parties. The FCC approved the regulations just five months ago. Thursday's vote was largely along party lines, with Republicans voting to kill the FCC's privacy rules and Democrats voting to keep them. The Senate's resolution, which now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration, would allow broadband providers to collect and sell a "gold mine of data" about customers, said Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat. Kate Tummarello, writing for EFF: [This] would be a crushing loss for online privacy. ISPs act as gatekeepers to the Internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online. They shouldn't be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent. We can still kill this in the House: call your lawmakers today and tell them to protect your privacy from your ISP.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Australia Shelves Copyright Safe Harbor For Google, Facebook [Slashdot]

In a surprise setback for companies such as Google and Facebook that leverage user-generated content, Australia has dropped plans to extend its copyright safe harbor provisions. From a report: In a blow to Google, Facebook and others, the government dropped the amendments before they were due to be introduced to parliament yesterday. That came as a big surprise, particularly as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had given the proposals his seal of approval just last week. "Provisions relating to safe harbor were removed from the bill before its introduction to enable the government to further consider feedback received on this proposal whilst not delaying the passage of other important reforms," Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement. There can be little doubt that intense lobbying from entertainment industry groups played their part, with a series of articles published in News Corp-owned The Australian piling on the pressure in favor of rightsholders.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

13:00 EDT

For your Christmas Wishlist: a personal Blackhawk [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

Check out the photo in “Heli-Expo 2017: Black Hawks flooding the market” of a Blackhawk helicopter with cow-themed paint. From the article:

According to Parsons, there is likely to be around 800 UH-60s to be divested by the US Army with the A models the first to go, followed by the Lima models. At the moment four UH-60As are being auctioned per month. … Since 2014, commercial operators have acquired approximately 140 UH-60A aircraft at auction from the General Services Administration.

Flexible, printable circuits inspired by goldbug beetle [Boing Boing]

Poking a golden tortoise beetle ("goldbug") triggers the insect's color to change from gold to a red-orange. Inspired by the natural system underlying that insectoid superpower, MIT researchers have developed flexible sensors circuits that can be 3-D printed. Eventually, the technology could lead to sensor-laden skin for robots. From MIT News:

“In nature, networks of sensors and interconnects are called sensorimotor pathways,” says Subramanian Sundaram, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), who led the project. “We were trying to see whether we could replicate sensorimotor pathways inside a 3-D-printed object. So we considered the simplest organism we could find...."

The MIT researchers’ new device is approximately T-shaped, but with a wide, squat base and an elongated crossbar. The crossbar is made from an elastic plastic, with a strip of silver running its length; in the researchers’ experiments, electrodes were connected to the crossbar’s ends. The base of the T is made from a more rigid plastic. It includes two printed transistors and what the researchers call a “pixel,” a circle of semiconducting polymer whose color changes when the crossbars stretch, modifying the electrical resistance of the silver strip.

In fact, the transistors and the pixel are made from the same material; the transistors also change color slightly when the crossbars stretch. The effect is more dramatic in the pixel, however, because the transistors amplify the electrical signal from the crossbar. Demonstrating working transistors was essential, Sundaram says, because large, dense sensor arrays require some capacity for onboard signal processing.

To build the device, the researchers used the MultiFab, a custom 3-D printer developed by (professor Wojciech) Matusik group. The MultiFab already included two different “print heads,” one for emitting hot materials and one for cool, and an array of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes. Using ultraviolet radiation to “cure” fluids deposited by the print heads produces the device’s substrate.

Watch Star Wars: Rogue One ending flow into A New Hope beginning [Boing Boing]

The perfect plot flow fires me up even as Uncanny Valley Leia brings a tear to my eye. (Barre Fong)

The Commodore 64's "secret colours" [Boing Boing]

Commodore's C64 had a famously decisive, if drab set of 16 colors to choose from, a note of artistic intent amid the unthinking mathematical extremities of other 8-bit color palettes. But did you know there were secret colors? Aaron Bell writes up a discovery that blew his mind many years ago and which, 26 years later, he's finally figured out.
If you swap two colours rapidly enough - say at 50 or 60 frames per second - you can fool the eye into seeing something that isn't there. On a machine with sixteen colours, just one or two extra can add a lot to a scene. Since today we all live in the future and you are reading a fully programmable document on a supercomputer, let's try it.

The sad part is that the trick doesn't work for most pairings due to the obvious strobing/flickering effect it generates. But now wily coders can add a whole host of new grays to their vivid Commodore palettes. ("The tartan for the clan McPuke" is definitely the best description of the C64 palette I've ever read. I doubt it'll be topped.)

I read somewhere this is more or less what's done on cheapo monitors to make you think you're getting 24-bit color.

Previously: How the hell did they get 1024 colors out of a 1981 PC?

X-rays let you see the smallest feature buried in your CPU [Ars Technica]

The Apple A8 die shot as mapped out by Chipworks. (credit: Chipworks)

The semiconductor industry is beyond remarkable when it comes to the complexity and precision of processes. A modern integrated circuit is not a single layer of circuitry, but many layers, all stacked on top of each other. This is all done through photolithography, where a pattern is imaged on a silicon wafer. Each layer requires a separate image, and all the images have to be aligned. If you take the 14nm number seriously (a nanometer is 1/1,000,000th of a millimeter), then wafers and masks, which are seriously hold-in-two-hands-big, have to be aligned with a precision that is better than the feature size. But, how do you know you've done it right?

The obvious answer is whether or not the chip works. But it would be nice to image the circuit so that it can be compared to the design. Apart from detecting problems during manufacturing, being able to image the final product would also allow for the design to be improved, since it would let you identify areas of a chip that consistently cause problems. But, how do you image structures that might be as small as 14nm that are buried under other structures that you also want to image.

The answer, it seems, is a form of X-ray tomography.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google Maps gets real-time location sharing [Ars Technica]

Location sharing is back in Google Maps. Google announced the addition of "real-time location sharing" to the Android and iOS apps, coming soon to an app store near you.

The process seems pretty simple: Open the navigation drawer and press the new "Share Location" button. You'll be able to send a sharing permission to a Google contact or send a link over a messaging app, and you'll be able to pick how long you want to share your location for—permanently or for a set time. Anyone you share to will get a notification from Google Maps, and they'll be able to see your location on the smartphone and Web versions of Google Maps. There's also a "share trip" button you can activate while navigating somewhere, so rather than sending someone an ETA, they can just see you drive around on the map.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

For Honor director: We never intended for you to unlock everything [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Out of my way... that unlockable content is MINE!

Over the past week or so, Ubisoft's For Honor has faced criticism for the sheer amount of unlockable content it offers players, which one Reddit user calculated would cost over $700 or 5,200 gameplay hours to access. Ubisoft Montreal Game Director Damien Kieken addressed those concerns in a lengthy livestreamed video conversation. The main thrust of his argument? "We never had an intention for you to unlock everything in the game."

To Kieken, the idea of unlocking absolutely everything available in For Honor "doesn't really make any sense. We applied RPG mechanics on top of the game... it's like in an RPG, let's say World of Warcraft, you would never try to unlock everything for all the characters of the whole game. It's the same thing in any MOBAs, you're not trying to unlock all the content for all the heroes in your game."

It's interesting that Kieken compares the $60 For Honor to two genres that are usually free to play these days (or occasionally offered on a monthly subscription plan). Unlockable content in a fighting game like For Honor is also very different from that in an MMO, where finding and completing quests for new items and abilities is the overarching point.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Streaks on Martian slopes might not be caused by water [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

The evidence for liquid water on the surface of Mars in the distant past is strong, but a discovery a few years ago provided a glimmer of hope that the wet stuff might still be making occasional appearances on the Red Planet. Fresh, dark streaks show up on steep slopes during the “warm” season, almost as if something wet is trickling downhill. To some researchers, however, these “recurring slope lineae,” which are a few meters wide and a few hundred meters long, look more like downward slides of destabilized sediment.

The question is, what could destabilize the sediment? The presence of briny water? (Water has been detected as a component of some of the minerals present, at least.) Could the thawing of carbon dioxide ice play a role? There is debate about which of these explanations can work and where water could possibly be coming from.

A new study led by Frédéric Schmidt of the University of Paris-Sud throws out a possible alternative that doesn’t involve thawing anything. If you’re holding out for water, you might consider that bad news, but it is at least a satisfyingly weird process.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

How I Use Rock Climbing to Practice Getting Over My Fear of Failure [Lifehacker]

Rock climbing is one hell of a strength-building workout. Not just for your upper body, but for everything. I recently joined a rock climbing gym in Los Angeles, paying $79 each month for something I actually love to hate. And yet I keep going because, in addition to training my body, I am really training to get over…

Read more...

Studios Flirt With Offering Movies Early in Home for $30 [Slashdot]

It looks like Hollywood studios are not kidding around the concept of making the movies available in the home mere weeks after their theatrical debuts. Variety has a new report this week that claims that six out of seven Hollywood studios are in discussions. From the report: However, the companies, particularly Fox and Warner Bros., are showing greater flexibility about timing. Initially, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara had kicked off negotiations with exhibitors by offering to cut them in on a percentage of digital revenues if they agreed to let them debut films on-demand for $50 a rental some 17 days after they opened. Currently, most major movies are only made available to rent some 90 days after their release. Some studios offer films for sale electronically roughly 70 days after their bow in theaters. Other studios, particularly Fox and Universal, felt that $50 was too steep a price to ask consumers to pay. They are now trying to get exhibitors to agree to a plan that would involve a lower priced premium on-demand option that was made available at a slightly later date, according to three studio insiders and two exhibition insiders. Fox and Warner Bros., for instance, are considering making films available between 30 to 45 days after their opening, but at $30 a rental, a price they believe won't give customers sticker shock. Universal, which is seen as being the most aggressive negotiator in these talks, would like the home entertainment debut to remain in the 20-day range.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

WikiLeaks' New Dump Shows How The CIA Allegedly Hacked Macs and iPhones Almost a Decade Ago [Slashdot]

WikiLeaks said on Thursday morning it will release new documents it claims are from the Central Intelligence Agency which show the CIA had the capability to bug iPhones and Macs even if their operating systems have been deleted and replaced. From a report on Motherboard: "These documents explain the techniques used by CIA to gain 'persistenc'' on Apple Mac devices, including Macs and iPhones and demonstrate their use of EFI/UEFI and firmware malware," WikiLeaks stated in a press release. EFI and UEFI is the core firmware for Macs, the Mac equivalent to the Bios for PCs. By targeting the UEFI, hackers can compromise Macs and the infection persists even after the operating system is re-installed. The documents are mostly from last decade, except a couple that are dated 2012 and 2013. While the documents are somewhat dated at this point, they show how the CIA was perhaps ahead of the curve in finding new ways to hacking and compromising Macs, according to Pedro Vilaca, a security researcher who's been studying Apple computers for years. Judging from the documents, Vilaca told Motherboard in an online chat, it "looks like CIA were very early adopters of attacks on EFI."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
… My heart’s in Accra XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Aaron Shaw's weblog XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
academic coach XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Andrew Lih XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Ars Technica XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
Black Girl Dangerous XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
Blog – Cal Newport XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
Blog – Cal Newport XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Boing Boing XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:30, Thursday, 23 March
Camels With Hammers XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 22:00, Thursday, 23 March
Cool Tools XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
copyrighteous XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Cyborgology XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
Derek Sivers XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
Digital History Hacks (2005-08) XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Dullicious.net XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
eon XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Future of the Internet – And how to stop it. XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Geek Feminism Blog XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
Geek&Poke XML 06:00, Thursday, 23 March 18:00, Thursday, 23 March
goatee XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 22:00, Thursday, 23 March
Greg Goodale XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Hacker News XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
IMPOSSIBLE ® XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
Interprete XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
Jimmy Wales XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Joho the Blog XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Joi Ito's Web XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
Latest Articles XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
LESSIG Blog, v2 XML 06:00, Thursday, 23 March 18:00, Thursday, 23 March
Lifehacker XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Mel Chua XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 22:00, Thursday, 23 March
MichaelZimmer.org XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Ming Thein | Photographer XML 06:00, Thursday, 23 March 18:00, Thursday, 23 March
miromi XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
Mr. Money Mustache XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
natematias's blog XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
NeuroLogica Blog XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
News : NPR XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
Nikki XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
OkTrends XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
ongoing by Tim Bray XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
Open Wiki Blog Planet XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
patdavid.net XML 06:00, Thursday, 23 March 18:00, Thursday, 23 March
Paul Resnick's Occasional Musings XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
Pharyngula XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 22:00, Thursday, 23 March
Philip Greenspun's Weblog XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
PressThink XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Priceonomics Blog XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 22:00, Thursday, 23 March
Professional-Lurker: Comments by an academic in cyberspace XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
ProfHackerProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
quarlo XML 06:00, Thursday, 23 March 18:00, Thursday, 23 March
ragesoss XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Slashdot XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:30, Thursday, 23 March
Strobist XML 16:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:12, Thursday, 23 March
Sublime Blog XML 06:00, Thursday, 23 March 18:00, Thursday, 23 March
The age of us – The Conversation XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
The Verge - All Posts XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
This Sociological Life XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
tinywords XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
Tynan | Life Outside the Box XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 23:00, Thursday, 23 March
Valerie Aurora's blog XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
W3C News XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March
Wikipedia Signpost XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Wikizine XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 17:00, Thursday, 23 March
Women4Wikipedia XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 19:00, Thursday, 23 March
Wooster Collective XML 15:00, Thursday, 23 March 16:00, Thursday, 23 March