Saturday, 23 June

07:00 EDT

Making Comics [Cool Tools]

Magnificent! A work of genius. The best how-to manual ever published. I could keep piling on the superlatives because this book is simply a masterpiece. At one level, it is a comic book about how to make comics, and for that it is supreme; the best. It will walk you through every step of making a comic, including how to make them on the web, digitally, or in pen and ink. I’ve been working on a near-completed graphic novel, and every page has told me something important and spot on. With brilliant graphics, Scott McCloud combines the most profound insights from his two previous books, Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. But in this book he raises your understanding of graphic communication further by making every lesson utterly practical and useful for both novice and expert. I can’t imagine anyone ever doing a comic manual better.

However, even if you are not planning on making a graphic novel, this book is a gold mine. McCloud’s section on constructing facial expressions and emotions is astounding, and worth the price of the book alone. The clever way McCloud arrays human expressions in one chart reminds me of the first time I saw all the colors arranged in a color wheel; it’s the same aha! The insights McCloud extracts from comics and presents so vividly here are useful to novelists, sociologists, film makers, artists, roboticists — anyone interested in human expression. That’s probably you.

Indeed, even if you have no interest in comics at all, this charming book will win a place in your life because ultimately it is about communication and stories — and those are the foundations of all cultures. Making Comics teaches you the visual elements of stories. If I had to re-title it, I would call this book Making Visual Stories.

Finally, as an example of communication itself, this comic book has few peers. I read, review and use hundreds of how-to books every year. I can’t think of any instructional manual in any subject that is clearer, more thorough, more honest, more user friendly than Making Comics.

As I said, it’s a classic. You can expect to find marked-up copies on bookshelves (or on hard drives) a hundred years from now.

Scott McCloud's website, featuring chapter

Sample Excerpts:




Valve's Knuckles EV2 Controller Will Let You Squeeze Things In VR [Slashdot]

Valve's "Knuckles" controllers for VR, first introduced in 2016, are getting upgraded. According to Engadget, Valve is "sending game makers another version, the EV2, that has revamped buttons, straps and a slew of sensors that essentially translate finger motion and pressure to let you touch, grab and squeeze objects inside games." From the report: Some of the EV2's changes are evident: The old Steam Controller-style touchpad that dominated the controller's top has been shrunken to an oval 'track button' that measures touch and force. That's flanked by traditional inputs: A joystick (by developer demand, Valve noted in a blog post) and standard circular buttons. The strap is adjustable for different hand sizes and pulls tight to let players let go of the controller completely without dropping it -- which could be key for the pressure inputs. While last year's model had touch inputs tracking each finger in the 'grip' area, the EV2 introduces pressure sensors that measure how much force the wielder is using. Obviously, this has implications for VR developers who want players to grip or squeeze objects in the world, but as Valve's blog post points out, combining those with the touch sensors tells games when players let go of the grips -- like, say, when they're throwing things in-game. Lastly, the battery life has been extended to last six hours.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

05:00 EDT

Large Methane Leaks Threaten Perception Of 'Clean' Natural Gas [News : NPR]

A gas flare is seen at a natural gas processing facility near Williston, N.D. in 2015. A new study says the amount of methane leaking is more than government estimates.

A new study finds that oil and gas operations are leaking 60 percent more methane than previously reported by the federal government.

(Image credit: Matthew Brown/AP)

04:00 EDT

Tesla To Close a Dozen Solar Facilities In 9 States [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Electric car maker Tesla's move last week to cut 9 percent of its workforce will sharply downsize the residential solar business it bought two years ago in a controversial $2.6 billion deal, according to three internal company documents and seven current and former Tesla solar employees. The latest cuts to the division that was once SolarCity -- a sales and installation company founded by two cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk -- include closing about a dozen installation facilities, according to internal company documents, and ending a retail partnership with Home Depot that the current and former employees said generated about half of its sales. About 60 installation facilities remain open, according to an internal company list reviewed by Reuters. An internal company email named 14 facilities slated for closure, but the other list included only 13 of those locations.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

01:00 EDT

Link [… My heart’s in Accra]

On Wednesday, June 20th, Matt Smith and Aura Bogado broke a harrowing story about the Shiloh Treatment Center, south of Houston, TX, one of the contractors the Trump administration is using to house migrant children who were separated from their parents. Their report for Reveal, a Center for Investigative Reporting publication, and The Texas Tribune is based on an analysis of federal court filings, which allege that children held at Shiloh have been forcibly subdued with powerful psychiatric drugs. Released at a moment when media attention has been focused on separation of children from their families at the US/Mexico border, the story was widely shared online – as of this morning, Reveal’s tweet about the story had been retweeted 22,000 times.

The story gained attention for reasons other than its harrowing revelations. When Reveal tried to “boost” their post on Facebook, the platform alerted them that they were “Not Authorized for Ads with Political Content”. This is a new safety feature implemented by Facebook in the wake of scrutiny towards the company’s role in the 2016, permitting over 3000 ads to be illegally posted by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, with the goal of sowing discontent in the US. Facebook is in a tough bind – they need to vet purchasers of political ads far more carefully than they have been, but thus far, their algorithmic review process is flagging some stories as ads, and allowing some ads to pass through unscreened. And Facebook Ads VP, Rob Goldman, didn’t help clarify matters by telling Reveal “…this ad, not the story, was flagged because it contains political content.”

Last night, one of the authors of the Reveal story, Aura Bogado, pointed to another problem she and Matt Smith are experiencing:

One of the long-standing patterns of the news industry is the tendency to copy reporting someone has already done. In the days when most people subscribed to a single newspaper, this copying served a helpful civic function – it helped spread news to multiple audiences, helping citizens have a common basis of news to inform democratic participation. A very clear journalistic ethic emerged around this practice: you prominently credit the publication that broke the story. You’ll see even fierce competitors, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, do this with their biggest scoops.

The internet has changed these dynamics. On the one hand, there’s no longer any civic need to copy stories – you could simply link to them instead. But there’s also a powerful financial incentive to make any story your own – the ad clicks. This story, written by Andrew Hay and bylined “Reuters staff”, shows how easily original reporters and outlets can disappear – it contains original reporting, in that it has a novel quote from Carlos Holguin, a lawyer for the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law, who’s cited in the Reveal piece… but it doesn’t mention Smith and Bogado, the Texas Tribune or Reveal. (Reuters is not the only outlet that’s scrubbed provenance from this story. But they are a publicly traded company with 45,000 employees, $11 billion in annual revenue, and have been in the news industry since 1851. They should know better.)

This is not only a shitty thing to do, it’s a profitable thing to do. Reuters gets the ad views from the story they largely rewrote, while the two non-profits responsible for the original reporting get nothing, not even credit.

I’ve been thinking about this problem for some time, because the origins of important news stories is one of the main uses for Media Cloud, the system we’ve been developing for almost a decade at Center for Civic Media and the Berkman Klein Center. One of our first publications, “The Battle for Trayvon Martin: Mapping a Media Controversy online and offline” is at its heart a provenance paper, trying to understand who first reported on Trayvon’s death as a way of understanding how the story turned into a national conversation on race and violence. (TL;DR: Trayvon’s family worked with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to pitch the story to Reuters and CBS: This Morning. It was well over a week before the internet began amplifying the story with petitions and protests.) Rob Faris and Yochai Benkler’s massive Media Cloud analysis of the 2016 US Presidential elections focuses on provenance, tracing influential stories in mainstream media publications to their origins in the fringes of the right-wing blogosphere that surround Breitbart, Gateway Pundit and others.

Media Cloud works by ingesting (usually via RSS, sometimes via scraping) all the stories from tens of thousands of media publications, multiple times a day. We can often trace the provenance of a story by identifying an appropriate search string – “Shiloh” AND (migrant* OR drug*) might work in this case – and looking to see what stories hit our database first. Often a story breaks in several places simultaneously – that’s often an indicator that it was written in reaction to a statement made by a public official or a corporate leader, not the result of long investigative reporting. This process is imperfect and requires the input of knowledgeable humans to create search strings. What if we could automate it?

We’re working on this problem, looking to create automatic signatures that identify clusters of related stories. Duncan Watts is working on it at MSR as well, generating “fingerprints” for these clusters that rely in part on named entities. And obviously Google has a clustering system working that they use to organize related stories in Google News. With automated signatures and clustering, combined with a deep database of stories collected many times a day, we might be able to identify the initial stream that leads to a later media cascade.

Attention in US mainstream media to “Larry Nassar” from January 2017 to present, via

What then? Well, that would depend on what media platforms did with this data. Consider a major, ongoing story like Dr. Larry Nassar’s abuse of US gymnasts. That horrific story was uncovered by the Indy Star, who began a massive investigative series on sexual abuse within US gymnastics in August 2017, months before Nassar’s name became a household word. When platforms that aggregate, distribute and monetize news – Apple, Google, Facebook – share revenues with publishers, maybe they should check against a provenance service to find out whether they’re rewarding someone who did original journalism, or someone who’s simply chasing clicks. Perhaps one or more platform would end up sharing revenues between the publisher that captured the clicks and the one that initially sponsored the investigation.

Could this ever really happen? Yes, but it would require not only the technology to work, but for there to be pressure from readers for ethically sourced journalism. It took a great deal of work for consumers to demand that their coffee be sustainably grown and that Apple look into whether suppliers are using child labor. What Bogado and her colleagues are asking for is good for anyone who cares about the long-term future of journalism. We need more resources to investigate stories like the abuse of children at the hands of the US government. We don’t need hundreds of news outlets rushing to cover the same stories. Establishing – and rewarding – provenance of stories that start with investigative journalism could help shift the playing field for original reporting.

Yesterday’s joke protest sign just became today’s reality [Valerie Aurora's blog]

Tomorrow I’m going to a protest against the forcible separation of immigrant children from their families. When I started thinking about what sign to make, I remembered my sign for the first Women’s March protest, the day after Trump took office in January 2017. It said: “Trump hates kids and puppies… for real!!!

My  protest sign for the 2017 Women’s March

While I expected a lot of terrifying things to happen over the next few years, I never, never thought that Trump would deliberately tear thousands of children away from their families and put them in concentration camps. I knew he hated children; I didn’t know he hated children (specifically, brown children) so much that he’d hold them hostage to force Congress to pass his racist legislation. I did not expect him and his party to try to sell cages full of weeping little boys as future gang members. I did not expect 55% of Republican voters to support splitting up families and putting them in camps. I’m smiling at the cute dog in that photo; now the entire concept of that sign seems impossibly naive and inappropriate, much less my expression in that photo. I apologize for this sign and my joking attitude.

I remember being terrified during the months between Trump’s election and his inauguration. I couldn’t sleep; I put together a go-bag; I bought three weeks worth of food and water and stored them in the closet. I read a dozen books on fascism and failed democracies. I even built a spreadsheet tracking signs of fascism so I’d know when to leave the country.

I came up with the concept of that sign as a way to increase people’s disgust for Trump; what kind of pathetic low-life creep hates kids AND puppies? But I still didn’t get how bad things truly were; I thought Trump hated kids in the sense that he didn’t want any of them around him and wouldn’t lift a finger to help them. I didn’t understand that he—and many people in his administration—took actual pleasure in knowing they were building camps full of crying, desperate, terrified kids who may never be reunited with their parents. In January 2017, I thought I understood the evil of this administration and of a significant percentage of the people in this country; actually, I way underestimated it.

At that protest, several people asked me if Trump really hated puppies, but not one person asked me if Trump really hated kids. In retrospect, this seems ominous, not funny.

I’m going to think very carefully before creating any more “joke” protest signs. Today’s “joke” could easily be tomorrow’s reality.

Officials Say Illegal Pesticide Caused Deaths Of 13 Bald Eagles In Maryland [News : NPR]

A bald eagle flies over its nest in Middle River, Md., in 2009.

Authorities said there is an "epidemic on the Eastern Shore" of wildlife-poisoning crimes because it's "cheaper and easier" than trapping a nuisance animals or building a fence.

(Image credit: Rob Carr/AP)

Protests Erupt In Spain As Men Held In 'Wolf Pack' Sex Assault Get Bail [News : NPR]

Demonstrators shout slogans Friday in Madrid, a day after a court ordered the release on bail of five men sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman at Pamplona

Judges freed five men convicted of sexual abuse of an 18-year-old woman during Running of the Bulls festivities as they appeal the verdict. The move sparked a call for an overhaul of sex crimes laws.

(Image credit: Javier Sorianoo/AFP/Getty Images)

00:00 EDT

Scientists Genetically Engineer Pigs Immune To Costly Disease [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The trial, led by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, showed that the pigs were completely immune to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), a disease that is endemic across the globe and costs the European pig industry nearly $2 billion in pig deaths and decreased productivity each year. Pigs infected with PRRS are safe to eat but the virus causes the animals breathing problems, causes deaths in piglets and can cause pregnant sows to lose their litter. There is no effective cure or vaccine, and despite extensive biosecurity measures about 30% of pigs in England are thought to be infected at any given time. After deleting a small section of DNA that leaves pigs vulnerable to the disease, the animals showed no symptoms or trace of infection when intentionally exposed to the virus and when housed for an extended period with infected siblings. The study has been published in the Journal of Virology.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Friday, 22 June

22:00 EDT

Buzz Aldrin returns to Twitter, sues his son and former manager [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, meets backstage with former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, prior to giving the keynote speech at the Humans to Mars Summit in May, 2018, at George Washington University in Washington. (credit: NASA)

All is not well in the otherworldly world of the second human to walk on the Moon.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin has sued his family, including his son Andy Aldrin, former business manager Christina Korp, and several foundations. The suit alleges that the family has taken advantage of the 88-year-old through a de facto guardianship.

Filed on June 7 in a Florida judicial circuit court, and obtained Friday evening by Ars, the lawsuit alleges that Andy Aldrin and Korp used the former astronaut’s personal credit cards, trust accounts, artifacts, and social media accounts for their own purposes. It additionally alleges the following: that the family prevented Aldrin, who has been married three times, from marrying for a fourth time; that the family has “bullied” his romantic interests; and that the family has slandered the astronaut by saying he has dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

21:00 EDT

Bethesda Sues Warner Bros, Calls Its Westworld Game 'Blatant Rip-Off' of Fallout Shelter [Slashdot]

Bethesda, the video game publisher behind Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, is suing Warner Bros. and Fallout Shelter co-developer Behavior Interactive over the recently released Westworld, alleging that the mobile game based on HBO's TV series is a "blatant rip-off" of Fallout Shelter. Polygon reports: In a suit filed in a Maryland U.S. District Court, Bethesda alleges that Westworld -- developed by Behaviour and released this week for Android and iOS -- "has the same or highly similar game design, art style, animations, features and other gameplay elements" as Fallout Shelter. Fallout Shelter was originally released in 2015 for mobile devices. The game was later ported to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. Bethesda said in its suit that Behaviour uses "the same copyrighted computer code created for Fallout Shelter in Westworld," alleging that a bug evident in an early version of Fallout Shelter (which was later fixed) also appears in Westworld. Bethesda alleges the companies "copied Fallout Shelter's features and then made cosmetic modifications for Westworld's 'western' theme."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Supreme Court Backs Award of Overseas Patent Damages [Slashdot]

schwit1 quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that companies can recover profits lost because of the unauthorized use of their patented technology abroad in a victory for Schlumberger NV, the world's largest oilfield services provider. The decision expands the ability of patent owners to recover foreign-based damages, increasing the threat posed by certain infringement lawsuits in the United States. Internet-based companies and others had expressed concern that extending patent damages beyond national borders would expose U.S. high-technology firms to greater patent-related risks abroad. U.S. patent law generally applies only domestically, but Schlumberger said that since the law protects against infringement that occurs when components of a patented invention are supplied from the U.S. for assembly abroad, it should be fully compensated for the infringement, including any lost foreign sales. The high court agreed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Evidence that I’m an old white guy [Pharyngula]

I knew the words to all of these songs, and thoroughly enjoyed them.

I am not embarrassed to admit it, either.

Dialectic, not debate [Pharyngula]

I am learning to hate debate.

Really hate debate. It’s everywhere, and it’s bad and wrong, and I think it’s contributing to our social ills — all of social media is soaking in this ridiculous debate culture, and it’s stunting and poisoning our interactions.

Sounds like hyperbole, I know, but I can’t help it — my eyes cross and steam trickles out of my ears at just the word “debate”. And I’m not alone: here’s an article from a scientist who won’t debate science.

In fact, as a general rule, I refuse to debate basic science in public. There are two reasons for this: first, I’m a terrible debater and would almost certainly lose. The skills necessary to be a good scientist (coding, caring about things like “moist static energy”, drinking massive amounts of coffee) aren’t necessarily the same skills that will convince an audience in a debate format. It is very fortunate that things like the atomic model of matter do not rest on my ability to be charming or persuasive.

But second, and maybe more importantly: once you put facts about the world up for debate, you’ve already lost. Science isn’t a popularity contest; if it were, I’d definitely vote to eliminate quantum mechanics, set π to 1, and put radium back in toothpaste. I really, really don’t want sea levels to rise, rainfall patterns to shift, and heat waves to intensify. Climate change is definitely not my first choice. But physics and chemistry don’t care what I, or anyone else, wants.

On the first point: I agree, debate is a very specific skill, and it takes practice to do well. It’s not something that is part of scientific training. Maybe it’s used more in law, but law ain’t reality. There are useful skills involved in debating, like logic and rhetoric, and maybe it’s good for kids to do some of it in high school…but after that, it’s not relevant to most real world interactions, which are an order of magnitude more complex than anything dealt with in debating.

On the second point: YES. This is the cardinal sin of the debate mentality, that you reduce the problems of the world to two sides, and you settle the issue with rhetoric and a popularity contest. That’s not how anything works. It’s a garbage strategy for simultaneously avoiding dealing with the real issues, elevating the two artificially simplified positions to an equal standing, and allowing the most golden-tongued babbler to come away with a sense of accomplishment. So you’ve got hacks like William Lane Craig acquiring a reputation as a great debater, when all he is is someone who recites horseshit with great confidence.

This attitude that debate, no matter how bogus the subject, is healthy has permeated everything. So the media, instead of explaining a subject with sufficient depth that the consumer comes away having learned something, instead takes the lazy approach of pitting experts against assholes, putting them on panels and letting them yell it out, and allowing the audience on both sides feel like they won. This is why Kellyanne Conway still gets invited on talk shows — she’s a lying crapnugget, but the media munerators who organize these spectacles just want the conflict. This applies to Jack Kingston, Corey Lewandowski, any of that mob of demented liars who do the talk show circuit. Why? It’s not as if you’re going to receive any insight from them…but the media just keeps on booking the same ol’ goofballs and wasting our time.

This is why people are playing games with that flat earth nonsense. Being a contrarian gets you a platform, automatically, and the wrongness gets amplified.

So lately I’ve said on my youtube hangouts that I’m not going to bother with the creationists who beg me to invite them on — they have nothing of value to contribute. They’ve been getting a bit irate, like this flaming nutcase who calls himself seeksmostprophecy, or something goofy like that.

You like to talk about creationists, slandering them, calling them names and you don’t allow them to participate. No honest discourse there. You disqualify yourself as a scientist.

Yes, I call myself a scientist, which means I understand and accept the evidence that says the earth is old, and organisms evolved. Arguing otherwise disqualifies them from rational discourse — there are more interesting things to discuss than their ignorance. What really annoys them is when you tell them they don’t get to freeload off your expertise, and they’re not going to get equal billing with even a mediocre, unknown scientist.

But still, it’s incessant: every time you point out some failure of reason or knowledge by some guy on the internet, his defenders will rush in with their ploy to salvage his reputation: debate! Debate him now!

My God, your a professor! LOL,

Your dimwitted almost child like analysis of doctor Jordans immense knowledge wisdom and expertise is almost comical to the degree of being woefully sad and pathetic.

Id love to see this brainwashed tepid clown debate the professor.

He would chew what little you have to offer up and spit it out like the diseased refuse it is..

You could have just shown that he was wrong about the sum of 2 + 2, and they’ll whine at you that you have to resolve this great conflict with a debate. No, I don’t. I’ve just explained why he’s wrong, given you the correct answer, and you don’t get to prolong your time in the spotlight with more clueless yammering.

So, no, fuck off. Sometimes that’s all you can say.

Or you can be more, umm, smooth about it, like Jay Smooth. He’s suggesting that you don’t give the trolls air to breathe.

Note that this does not mean you ignore the trolls, but that you use whatever platform you’ve got to express yourself and your disagreement, and you don’t let them commandeer your platform to promote nonsense. Discuss and disagree, but don’t enable further promotion of bad ideas. Dialectic, not debate.

You might also check out a pair of philosophers arguing about “Is Debate Useful?” over tea, or whatever stronger stuff ContraPoints is drinking. They’re not quite as dismissive as I am, but still, they think it’s a question worth pondering.

I’ve come to my conclusion.

No, you’re not going to change my mind by debating me. But maybe if you can put together a coherent, constructive argument otherwise, I might consider it.

20:00 EDT

Atari Accuses Journalists of Making Stuff Up So They Produce Recordings of the Interview [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Legendary games company Atari has accused a Register reporter of making stuff up and acting unprofessionally following an interview earlier this year in San Francisco at the launch of its new games console, the Atari VCS. In that article, we were critical of the fact that the machine did not work, and that its chief operating officer Michael Arzt, whom we spoke to, appeared unable to answer even the most basic questions about the product. We were shown "engineering design models" that were said to be "real" yet turned out did not work, and pointed out as much. In the article, we wrote: "What happens if we plug this into our laptop, we ask Mike. I don't know, he says. Will it work? I don't know. If we plug it into a different games machine, will it work? No. So it's custom hardware and software? I don't know about that." Presumably this is where Atari feels that the reporter "wrote what he wanted instead of what was discussed with him." Which makes this clip tough to explain -- and we'll give you a clue: your humble Reg hack is the one with the British accent... This is a clip of Atari having no idea about its own controller. The Register goes on to provide more examples of how Atari "is so full of crap..." The accusations started via the company's Facebook page, where a potential buyer of an Atari VCS posted a link to the Reg article and asked the company to explain it. The full interview between the journalist and Atari can be found here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Judge orders Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to go back to law school [Boing Boing]

Kris Kobach (previously) is a racist shitbag who engineered Red State America's voter suppression campaign; he is also (predictably enough) the Kansas Secretary of State, in which capacity he has been representing his office in a lawsuit over his unconstitutional voter ID law. (more…)

Browser extension to fix the NYT's squeamishness about calling Trump a liar [Boing Boing]

The New York Times doesn't like to call Donald Trump (who is a compulsive liar) a liar; they deploy the squeamish euphemism "falsely claimed" in place of "lied" -- with Gabriel Gironda's NYT Speak Chrome extension (source code here), you can remedy this situation. (Thanks, Gabriel Gironda!)

I’m a maker, baby [copyrighteous]


What does the “maker movement” think of the song “Maker” by Fink?

Is it an accidental anthem or just unfortunate evidence of the semantic ambiguity around an overloaded term?

BitchTapes: Travel [Latest Articles]

Sarah Love main image

Sarah Love

Sarah Love (Photo credit: @joshshotme)

Traveling, whether it’s to a new dimension through movies and TV shows or on a road trip up the California coastline, expands how we understand the world and each other. Those who travel often know that a great playlist is integral to the process. No trip is complete without great music! Sarah Love, a Caribbean American R&B and pop singer, is the perfect artist to curate a BitchTape about “Travel” because her music is supremely festive. Her first project, Tunnel Vision, reached 25,000 people through SoundCloud and now, she’s helping her fans use music to tap into their inner joy. This BitchTape is a celebration because traveling is one of life’s greatest joys.

Track List:

1. Future and Drake, “Used to This”

I chose this as my number one song because it just gives me pure vacation vibes. This is the perfect song when you’re away, feeling good about yourself, enjoying time with those around you, and embracing the moment. You’re allowed to feel happy! Live in the moment!

2. Sarah Love, “Anyways”

This song is so much fun! It’s also empowering. I had a great time writing and recording “Anyways,” so it makes me happy to see people rocking and dancing to it. It’s a perfect, perfect travel song!

3. Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”

I chose “Work” for every reason possible. It’s a classic, sexy song that I play any and everywhere and for (almost) any and every occasion. Imagine eating grilled shrimp and sipping on a piña colada and either dancing with your girls or with that special someone to this song.  It will never get old. Ten years from now, we’ll still be listening to this timeless record.

4. Drake, “God’s Plan”

Clearly, I’m a Drake fan. “God’s Plan” has the perfect lyrics for a much-needed and well-deserved getaway! Even if you are on a business trip, this is the perfect record to listen to keep your spirits up.

5. YFN Lucci featuring PnB Rock, “Everyday We Lit”

I truly believe this song can always make someone happy because it speaks to the struggles we all go through and how good it feels to later celebrate success. “Everyday We Lit” takes me back to when I lived in Miami, spending my weekends on a yacht with my girls!

6.  Jay-Z and Kanye West, “Niggas In Paris”

It’s self-explanatory why this song is on my travel playlist: It’s niggas in Paris. Period.

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7. Migos featuring Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, “MotorSport”

Do you want to feel cool, sexy, and bossy all at the same time while traveling? Play “Motorsport.” It is one of the best songs to get ready to, especially while traveling! This song will remind you to look at yourself and remember who you are. You’re cool! You’re sexy! So stand up straight and walk with confidence.

8. Childish Gambino, “Redbone”

Childish Gambino a.k.a. Donald Glover did us a great favor by giving us this song. “Redbone” provides super feel-good vibes.

9. Bob Marley, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”

Positivity prevails. If you find yourself just needing a pick-me-up while traveling, just pop in a record from Bob Marley.

10. French Montana and Swae Lee, “Unforgettable”

Thank you French and Swae for this epic record! Thank you to Zoe, their A&R, for putting the song together. “Unforgettable” is the best song to end my travel playlist. Not only was it shot in Uganda, but it’s the perfect song for an unforgettable moment or vacation memory.

Evette Dionne
by Evette Dionne
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Evette Dionne is Bitch Media’s senior culture editor. She’s all about Beyoncé, Black women, and dope TV shows and books. You can follow her on Twitter.

19:00 EDT

Apple launches service program to address MacBook keyboard woes [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / The keyboard on the 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pro. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple has publicly acknowledged that the butterfly switch keyboards in some MacBook and MacBook Pro computers have given consumers some trouble, and it has launched a new repair service program that promises to fix problems with those keyboards for free, regardless of whether the consumer purchased AppleCare.

Apple says in its public documentation on the program that certain models of MacBook and MacBook Pro "may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors":

  • Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
  • Letters or characters do not appear
  • Key(s) feel "sticky" or do not respond in a consistent manner

When they do, "Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will service eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards, free of charge." Apple also says that consumers who previously paid for a repair can contact the company to request a refund.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dan Ruderman, Physicist and technologist [Cool Tools]

Our guest this week is Dan Ruderman. Dan is a physicist and technologist. He is faculty at the Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC, where he applies machine learning to individualized cancer treatment. Dan enjoys overseas travel, and picking up enough foreign language to never again order a plate of organ meat.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Anki Kanji Deck
“There’s this program called Anki, which works both on your desktop computer but also on your phone. I think it costs like $25 or something like that, but it’s well worth it, and you can synchronize them. It’s basically a platform for flashcards, and people have uploaded all kinds of flashcards decks for all kinds of subject matter: sciences, chemistry, physics, pathology, history. All kinds of thing you want to learn about, there are flashcard decks on those things. Well, someone has put together a particular flashcard deck around Kanji that I really like, and it’s called NihongoShark Kanji. So it has the 2200 Kanji that you need to learn to be basically proficient, and then it has their meanings in English on them — and it has some of the Japanese as well — and so you can learn them. ….What’s wonderful about Anki is it doesn’t just give you the new cards that you’re supposed to learn this day, but it also goes through and reviews the previous ones that you’ve supposedly learned and maybe have forgotten. It takes you back to them, and so it’s continually reinforcing your learning while it’s having you learn new things.”

Pimsleur Approach Gold Japanese I,II,III, IV Complete 64 Cd’s Total
“Pimsleur makes language CDs for all kinds of languages, and I’ve found their stuff to be really good. The particular one that I’m using is Pimsleur Approach Japanese Levels 1-4 Gold Edition, and you can get 64 CDs combined, and you can get it on eBay used for like $100. So for essentially like 60 hours of learning, that’s really pretty inexpensive. It’s very high-quality. The language instruction is great. They take you through conversations, they teach vocabulary. It has a good pace. It has male and female speakers, so you’re hearing multiple people say the same words but also different genders. Sometimes you can’t quite make out a sound, but then you’ll hear the other person say it and suddenly it makes sense. Great conversation examples that are useful for the traveler.”

A Guide to Japanese Grammar ($19)
“As I said, I’m taking a multi-pronged approach, learning the Kanji, learning the listening and speaking, but also grammar, of course, is essential. And so you want to find a book that isn’t too dry. You want to find one that is practical, and I really like this book A Guide to Japanese Grammar by Tae Kim. His name is Korean. I don’t think he’s a native Japanese speaker, and so that means that he has some perspective on the process of learning as an adult. … He’ll make sentences that aren’t really sentences in English, but they are sentences in Japanese or they’re concepts, and so you really get this sense from the very beginning of the way the Japanese think in terms of their language, and I think that’s a really important thing to do.”

JapanesePod101 Youtube Channel
“A great part of learning a language is trying to get immersed as much as possible in the culture and see how it works in real life, and what I love about JapanesePod101 is it has those real-life aspects where they’ll go and they’ll do something. They’ll go to tea shop, and they’ll talk to the guy that sells tea, and they’ll see what the tea is all about. And so it’s these real-world activities, the kinds of things you want to do as a tourist. Now, what’s great about it also is you have English subtitles. So they may be talking Japanese, you see the English subtitles. But more than watching a Kurosawa movie, you also have the Japanese there often with it. So you will have the spoken Japanese, you’ll have the written Japanese in full Kanji and Hiragana, you’ll have the Latin alphabet transliteration, and then you’ll have the English. But what’s great about YouTube is … Once they say something, you can pause, see all the text together, take your time, and learn it.”

We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $341 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! – MF

An Up-to-Date Browser Should Keep Users Safe From Most Exploit Kits [Slashdot]

Exploit kits, once a preferred choice of attackers to invade a victim's browser and find way to their computer, are increasingly diminishing in their effectiveness. If you have an updated browser, chances are it packs adequate resources to fight such attacks. Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: Exploit kits (EK) have been around on the criminal underground for more than a decade and were once pretty advanced, often being a place where researchers found zero-days on a regular basis. But as browsers got more secure in recent years, exploit kits started to die out in 2016-2017. Most operators were arrested, moved to other things, and nobody developed new exploits to add to the arsenal of EK left on the market, which slowly began falling behind when it came to their effectiveness to infect new victims. A Palo Alto Networks report published yesterday details statistics about the vulnerabilities used by current exploit kits in the first three months of the year (Q1 2018). According to the gathered data, researchers found 1,583 malicious URLs across 496 different domains, leading to landing pages (URLs) where an EK attempted to run exploits only for only a meager eight vulnerabilities. All eight were old and known bugs, with the newest dating back to 2016. Seven of the eight vulnerabilities targeted Internet Explorer, meaning that using a more modern browser like Chrome and Firefox is a simple, yet effective way of avoiding falling victim to exploit kits.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Engineers Refused To Build Security Tool To Win Military Contracts [Slashdot]

Mark Bergen reports via Bloomberg: Earlier this year, a group of influential software engineers in Google's cloud division surprised their superiors by refusing to work on a cutting-edge security feature. Known as "air gap," the technology would have helped Google win sensitive military contracts. The coders weren't persuaded their employer should be using its technological might to help the government wage war, according to four current and former employees. After hearing the engineers' objections, Urs Holzle, Google's top technical executive, said the air gap feature would be postponed, one of the people said. Another person familiar with the situation said the group was able to reduce the scope of the feature. The act of rebellion ricocheted around the company, fueling a growing resistance among employees with a dim view of Google's yen for multi-million-dollar government contracts. The engineers became known as the "Group of Nine" and were lionized by like-minded staff. The current and former employees say the engineers' work boycott was a catalyst for larger protests that convulsed the company's Mountain View, California, campus and ultimately forced executives to let a lucrative Pentagon contract called Project Maven expire without renewal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Talks Between South Sudan Leaders Find No Appetite For Concessions [News : NPR]

South Sudan

Hopes for peace are hampered as talks come to an end in Ethiopia. The leaders of South Sudan's warring factions, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, found little common ground.

(Image credit: Mulugeta Ayene/AP)

18:00 EDT

Selfies show worm slithered through woman’s face for 2 weeks [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Doctors were able to extract the worm, a D. repens. (credit: Kartashev and Simon)

A 32-year-old woman who visited a rural area outside of Moscow returned home with a surprising stowaway—in her face. And it was a restless one at that, according to a short report published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

After her trip, she noticed an unusual lump on her cheek, below her left eye. Five days later it was gone, but another had formed just above her left eye. Ten days after that, a lump resurfaced on her upper lip, causing massive swelling.

To track the progress of her roving blemish, she took selfies. In reports to doctors, she said that the nodules caused some burning and itchiness but no other symptoms or problems. She also noted her recent trip and recalled being frequently bitten by mosquitoes.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

More details leak on “Snapdragon 1000,” Qualcomm’s chip for Windows 10 laptops [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: Qualcomm)

Details of the SDM1000, tentatively named Snapdragon 1000, a new Qualcomm chip built for Windows 10 laptops, have started to trickle out.

Microsoft's development of Windows 10 for ARM has seen the company partner with chip company Qualcomm. The first Windows 10 on ARM machines use the Snapdragon 835 processor, with designs based on the Snapdragon 850 (a higher clocked Snapdragon 845 intended for laptops) expected later this year. Snapdragon 1000 will be the follow-up to the 850.

The Snapdragon 1000 is believed to be an even more powerful laptop chip intended to go head to head with Intel's Y- and U-series Core processors. These have a 4.5W and 15W power envelope, respectively, and are used in a wide range of tablets and Ultrabook-type laptops. The Snapdragon 1000 is reported to have a 6.5W power draw for the CPU itself, with a total power draw of 12W for the entire SoC. The Snapdragon 1000 test platform has 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM and two 128GB UFS flash drives. It also has 802.11ad gigabit Wi-Fi, gigabit LTE, and a new power management controller.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla to cut nearly 20 percent of its SolarCity installation locations [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Close-up of logo for Tesla Solar, a home solar power generation solution offered by Tesla Motors, San Ramon, California, March 28, 2018. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

Tesla is planning to close 13 or 14 solar installation locations that were set up by SolarCity before Tesla purchased the company in 2016. Tesla will also end its partnership with Home Depot at the end of the year.

The new information was first reported by Reuters, which obtained internal emails and documents detailing the closures. A Tesla spokesperson told Ars that the closures are part of the layoffs it announced in early June.

An official statement from the company contended that Tesla's solar business is better served in its existing Tesla stores. "Tesla stores have some of the highest foot traffic of any retail space in the country, so this presents a unique benefit that is demonstrated by the growing number of Tesla vehicle customers who are also purchasing energy products through our stores,” the statement said.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Valve revamps its next controller, should make using hands in VR feel way cooler [Updated] [Ars Technica]

Valve's march toward launching new virtual reality video games—perhaps up to three of them—got more interesting on Thursday with the announcement of an update to the company's next official piece of VR hardware. After a quiet 2016 unveil, the "Knuckles" controller is back with a major revision.

Dubbed Knuckles EV2, the mold-to-your-hand controller is still a developer-only prototype, but a huge dump of official information reveals how far Valve has gone to craft what might be the ultimate VR controller: a smart twist on how hands work in virtual space and a bonus slew of buttons for older legacy games.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook Messenger Kids App Is Expanding [Slashdot]

Facebook's controversial Messenger Kids app is heading outside the U.S. to Canada and Peru. From a report: As part of the expansion, the social networking giant said Friday that it would also debut Spanish and French language versions of the children's messaging app that are now available in all three countries where the service is available. Facebook introduced Messenger Kids in December, pitching it as a safer way for children under 13 to chat with friends while sending them silly GIFs, emoji, and other goofy digital imagery. Unlike the core Facebook social networking service or other messaging apps, Facebook said that Messenger Kids does not display any online ads or allow kids to buy things within the app.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Weekend Reading: Midsummer Edition [ProfHackerProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education]

For those of us on a May-August academic calendar, summer is quickly vanishing: I for one cannot believe July is nearly upon us. This time of year is a great opportunity to reflect on the spring semester at a comfortable distance, and start ramping up for next year. If you’re contemplating changes in your work, profession, or policy in the coming term, here’s a few recent articles that might be of interest:

  • A series of guests posts from Dr. Terri Givens on The Professor Is In addresses her experience leaving academia, and particularly some of the challenges she observed when operating within academic and administrative spaces: “It is true that the opportunities for public scholarship have improved greatly, but I will feel much more comfortable about being outspoken regarding current issues when I’m no longer in an institution that frowns on such actions. I have felt even more constrained when I have been in administrative positions where the things that I say may be construed as official positions of the college. It will take me a while to develop the muscles that will allow me to be more vocal, and to figure out how I want to use the platform that I have in a positive way.”

  • An article by Stephen Noonoo at EdSurge looks at recent research on Makerspaces, and particularly the lack of diversity and challenges these spaces face for meaningful success: “In general, the most successful makerspaces were the ones that approached these topics intentionally and had a plan in place that takes into account realities around funding and physical space. Kim likens the process to building a house from scratch and knowing where to start. ‘If you don’t think about culture when you’re building a makerspace, you’re forgetting the foundation,’ he says. ‘You might have something that’s visible but not very solid.’”

  • Alexandra Witze’s article in Nature on recent research on sexual harassment in academic science department includes many suggestions for moving forward: “The report’s many recommendations include: that research institutions should act to reduce the power differential between students and faculty members, perhaps by introducing group-based advising; that the government should prohibit confidentiality in settlement agreements, so that harassers cannot switch jobs without their new employer knowing about past behaviour; and that research organizations should treat sexual harassment at least as seriously as research misconduct.”

  • In an article in The Atlanic, Carolina A. Miranda examines the transformative consequences of automated labor: “Sometimes, this can result in an awkward dance between the human world and the automated one. At many supermarkets and big box stores, for example, space once allotted to a checkout station has been replaced by a row of self-checkout systems. The cashier, who previously had a designated spot behind the counter, now stands at the end of this row, ready to assist when customers get confused or if the machines fail. At stores such as Target, the staffer often has no dedicated workstation. A position once tied to a physical location has become unmoored.”

Have a favorite recent academic read? Share it in the comments!

["Deskboarding." by Matt_Briston is licensed under CC PDM]

Brilliant billboard modification protesting ICE's treatment of migrant children [Boing Boing]

Last night, a group of culture jammers called Indecline improved a "1-800-GOT-JUNK?" billboard on a highway in Emeryville, California, just east of San Francisco. The billboard previously said "We make junk disappear" and they fixed it to read "We make kids disappear - ICE."

In a statement sent to the media, Indecline stated that the modification was a response to "President Trump's handling of the current immigration crisis, particularly, the separation of young children from their families."

Indecline also posted the following documentation of their work:


3 Charts That Show What's Actually Happening Along The Southern Border [News : NPR]

Chart: Illegal Border Crossing Apprehensions Have Fallen Steadily Since 2000

The number of people taken into custody at the southern U.S. border with Mexico has been decreasing since 2000. Economists say the reasons people choose to cross the border illegally are changing.

(Image credit: Vanessa Qian and Katie Park/NPR)

FACT CHECK: Trump, Illegal Immigration And Crime [News : NPR]

President Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crime committed by undocumented immigrants, at the White House Friday.

In an effort to justify his get-tough policies at the Southern border, President Trump met Friday with victims of crime committed by immigrants who entered the country illegally.

(Image credit: Evan Vucci/AP)

Crying Toddler On Widely Shared 'Time' Cover Was Not Separated From Mother [News : NPR]

A 2-year-old Honduran girl cries as an official searches her mother in McAllen, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border, earlier this month. For many, the image has become indelibly associated with a Trump administration policy that for weeks separated migrant children from their parents — but the girl

The image has been tied to a border policy separating migrant families. But in this case, daughter and mother were detained together — and the White House says it's proof the controversy is overblown.

(Image credit: John Moore/Getty Images)


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