Apple Pencil gets rave review


I use a Wacom Intuos Pro graphics tablet, but don't want to. Because I'm used to the quality of this product, though, I can't even use the toys that pass as art styluses for iOS an Android tablets. I've been thinking of switching to the Microsoft Surface Pro to avoid having to own a graphics tablet in the first place, but it turns out the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are the bee's knees.

Gus Mueller, creator of the popular Acorn image editor, is in the same boat as me. He's smitten:

It feels absolutely right. Super low latency, palm rejection, and … it just works.

Is it the same as drawing in my sketchbook? No. Of course not. I'm rubbing a plastic tip across a glass screen.

It's still God Damn Amazing though. … I find that when using the HB Pencil in Procreate, I get something that is very, very close to what I feel when I'm drawing in my sketchbooks. But of course now I've got layers and many colors and a perfect eraser to work with. And endless pages. I love it. I'm drawn to it. It's wonderful. You should absolutely try one if you haven't already.

The problem, of course, is that you're likely looking at a $1000 or so price tag for the cheapest iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil, Apps and tax. Read the rest

Smartwatch cancelled after 6 days in stores


The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE was the company's latest answer to Apple's dominating entry into the market. But it died fast, pulled off the shelves within a week due to an unspecified problem with the display.

Ron Amadeo writes that they "are not in a position to communicate the specifics of the issue that led to this decision."

LG is being as diplomatic as possible to not burn a bridge with its suppliers, but it's hard to interpret "image quality" as anything other than a finger pointed squarely at the display. The display would also fit the description of a "new advanced component" that had "never been used in an LG wearable device before." The Urbane 2 was the first smartwatch to hit a 480×480 resolution, bringing the round, 1.3-inch P-OLED display to 490 PPI.

Failed quality assurance at this level is just bizarre. What a train wreck. Read the rest

When a freight ship loses control of its anchor, bad things happen


This video appears to be a freighter's anchor being lost as it is dropped. The situation just gets worse and worse as the chain's momentum increases and whatever braking mechanisms exist fail. Soon, metal is on fire, and it seems clear that it is now time to back away from the gigantic runaway anchor chain whose back end components are likely to go places unknown when they emerge from the ship. Yet our intrepid shooter keeps filming!

I see no gloves, goggles, hard hats or fear, and thereby suspect this involves Russians.

Read the rest

Five shot at Black Lives Matter protest; white gunmen sought

blm shootiung

Five protestors were shot Monday while protesting the recent shooting death of a black man. Police are looking for three white suspects. The victims' injuries are reportedly not life-threatening.

“Tonight, white supremacists attacked the ‪#‎4thPrecinctShutDown‬ in an act of domestic terrorism. We won’t be intimidated.” Black Lives Matter Minneapolis wrote on Facebook. The Washington Post reports that those shot were protesting outside a police station.

A video recorded by a journalist at the scene showed people fleeing from the shooting — then screaming for an ambulance. A young African American man was seen writhing in pain with an apparent gunshot wound to the leg while fellow protesters — then police and paramedics — tried to help.

Details of the shooting, however, remain murky.

Oluchi Omeoga, a young protester who has participated in the demonstrations since last Monday, said she witnessed the incident.

Omeoga and her fellow protesters saw three people wearing masks who “weren’t supposed to be there,” she told the Associated Press. When the three interlopers left the crowd and began walking down the street, a few protesters followed them. But when the three men reached a corner, she said, they pulled out weapons and fired at the protesters.

The shootings come two days after another Black Lives Matter protestor was attacked at a political rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who suggested afterward the victim needed to be "roughed up."

Read the rest

The smell of books in a spray, lotion or candle


Smell of Books is an amusing selection of imaginary fragrances for bilibiophiles, with names such as "classic musty" and "eau you have cats."

"Have you been avoiding e-books because they just don’t smell right?," the site asks. "…all of that is changing thanks to Smell of Books™, a revolutionary new aerosol e-book enhancer."

If you're wanting the real thing, though, count yourself lucky. The Demeter Fragrance Library, a selection of novelty perfumes and colognes, sells a scent called Paperback in all sorts of different product variations.

There are also, allegedly, scented candles to help evoke the high of the smell of old paper.

Lignin is apparently the magic ingredient: The chemical composition of "Old Book Smell" Read the rest

Use the original IBM PC (and play Adventure) in your browser

original pc

Enjoy the original IBM 5150 PC as implemented in javascript, with various boot images to toy around with.

It was added to the JavaScript Machines project in Fall 2012, and is now part of the PCjs Project on GitHub.… All the simulations are written entirely in JavaScript. No Flash, Java or other plugins are required. Supported browsers include modern versions of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer (v9.0 and up), Edge, and assorted mobile browsers.

Warning: beeps loudly upon booting. [via r/internetisbeautiful]

Previously: Windows 93. Read the rest

Watch a kid smash the Rubik's cube speed record


Lucas Etter, 14, broke the 5 second barrier with this 4.9s completion of Rubik's Cube. [via]

"Oh my god! Oh my god!"

Read the rest

Slow motion film of a fire tornado


The Slo Mo Guys set fire to a bucket of fuel surrounded by box fans, then filmed the resulting column of fire. It's really something—a beautiful and scary thing that's understandably hard to capture in the wild. Read the rest

Brandless waterproof drill lets you work underwater in secret


Perfect for all your underwater stealth-drilling needs, the Nemo Power Tools SPECIAL OPS is submersible to 100 meters, has an 18v lithium battery, and is all-black for maximum concealment.

Its 1000-watt brushless technology ensures maximum efficiency and durability. It comes with a durable carrying case, battery charger, pressure valve and pump to pressurize the drill, and two 6Ah batteries, to make sure you’re ready for jobs that require extra power and time. The Nemo SPECIAL-OPS comes with additional accessories geared towards the tasks carried out by special forces. Nemo SPECIAL OPS accessories include a diving headlamp, a diving tool belt with tool bag, and a handy waterproof bag to keep your battery charger dry.

It's sadly out of stock right now, but $2,000 when they have them in. Models submersible to shallower depths are less expensive, but not very stealthy at all.

[Nemo Power Tools via @joeljohnson] Read the rest

NYC taxi data visualized


Todd W. Schneider analyzed 1.1 Billion NYC taxi and Uber trips "with a Vengeance", teasing straightfoward visualizations from an absolutely enormous dataset.

Taken as a whole, the detailed trip-level data is more than just a vast list of taxi pickup and drop off coordinates: it’s a story of New York. How bad is the rush hour traffic from Midtown to JFK? Where does the Bridge and Tunnel crowd hang out on Saturday nights? What time do investment bankers get to work? How has Uber changed the landscape for taxis? And could Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson have made it from 72nd and Broadway to Wall Street in less than 30 minutes? The dataset addresses all of these questions and many more.

Remember the scene from Die Hard: With a Vengeance where Bruce Willis is given 30 minutes to drive from the Upper West Side to Wall Street to prevent a bombing? The writer knew New York very well, it turns out. The median journey time for that trip is 29.8 minutes.

Traveler protip: don't take a car to JFK on weekday afternoons. Just never do that.

[via The New Aesthetic] Read the rest

Witch-burning doesn't turn out as planned in amazing animated music video

jezabels animation

The amazing animated video to The Jezabels' "Come Alive" features a swirly, timeless impasto style. All smoke and fire and light, every frame's literally a stark, beautiful painting.

It was directed by Darcy Prendergast & Xin Li from Oh Yeah Wow, using oil paint on glass. It might seem grim for a monday morning, but stick with it! The Jezebels are on tour in early 2016 and their second album, The Brink, is out now.

Update: their new album, "Synthia", is out Feb. 12. Read the rest

Watch genetically-evolving cars race in 2D

Genetic Cars is a transfixing simulation of procedurally-generated vehicles attempting to traverse rough terrain. Each round comprises genetic variations of the previous round's most successful car.

You can randomize the terrain and tweak mutation rates, gravity and other variables. (Moon gravity is chaotic fun; Jupiter seems, for some reason, more convincingly real than the default Earth settings) Read the rest

Former Westboro hate mouthpiece on leaving the church


Be sure to read Adrian Chen's gripping profile of former Westboro Baptist Church twitterer Megan Phelps-Roper, who left the church after coming to realize the futility of its hate gospel.

Megan Phelps-Roper, picketing with Westboro when she was still an active member of the family hate cult.

On December 20, 2009, Phelps-Roper was in the basement of her house, for a church function, when she checked Twitter on her phone and saw that Brittany Murphy, the thirty-two-year-old actress, had died. When she read the tweet aloud, other church members reacted with glee, celebrating another righteous judgment from God… But Phelps-Roper had loved Murphy in “Clueless,” and she felt an unexpected pang—not quite sadness, but something close—over her death. As she continued scrolling through Twitter, she saw that it was full of people mourning Murphy. The contrast between the grief on Twitter and the buoyant mood in the basement unsettled her. She couldn’t bring herself to post a tweet thanking God for Murphy’s death.

If you're been wondering why Westboro's been kind of boring lately, it turns out that there was a coup of sorts within the church: day-to-day troll in chief Shirley Phelps-Roper (Megan's mother) was denounced, and a bunch of stodgy old men took over. Since then, women have been marginalized within the church and it has lost much of its media savvy.

Read Adrian's piece to the last sentence: there is an absolutely amazing ending to the life and mind of the church's founder, Fred Phelps.

[Image, top: Megan Phelps-Roper. Read the rest

Donald Trump on whether his Muslim database plan is Nazi-like: "You tell me"


Donald Trump, back on top of Republican polls, has called for the creation of a national database of Muslims. Similar to the systems used by the Nazis to track Jews during the Holocaust, the idea has not gone down well, even among his party's rival candidates. Read the rest

22 killed, many hostages reportedly taken in Mali hotel attack


22 are reported dead after gunmen stormed the luxury Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali's capital earlier today.

The attackers reportedly took up to 170 hostages before Malian special forces stormed the building to free the captives. The government of France, Mali's former colonial power, has dispatched 50 commandos to the Saharan nation.

The remaining hostages were freed in the shootout, reports USA Today, and the gunmen killed.

Mali is in the grip of unrest following a 2012 military coup and Islamist insurgency in the north of the country.

Reuters reports that al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes soon after 129 died in a series of bombings and shootings across Paris.

UPDATED Nov. 22 with death toll. Read the rest

Read the nondisclosure agreement you must sign if you want to have sex with Charlie Sheen


Beset by blackmailers and tabloid rumors, actor Charlie Sheen was recently forced to announce that he is HIV-positive. The most newsworthy thing to come out of it, I think, is a nondisclosure agreement that potential sexual partners must sign in order to get into his pants. Is this a general practice among celebrities? As crazy as it seems, I wouldn't blame them. Read the rest

Why are Jihadis obsessed with Red Mercury?

Photo: All Is Possible

Red mercury is a mythological compound that allows nuclear weapons to be radically miniaturized. That mercury oxide (and anything else reasonably described as such) is useless for blowing stuff up matters little to buyers who shell out fabulous sums on a hoax. Read the rest

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