Adam Savage describes four unusual and useful tools he loves

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On the Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I had a wonderful, wide-ranging discussion with Adam Savage, the former co-host of Mythbusters and the editor-in-chief of Tested. Adam is erudite, funny, and very smart. Check out our show notes here. Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page Read the rest

Vaping while faceswapping yields unusual results

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Accidental surrealism is the best surrealism. Read the rest

One minute of dashcam footage in Mumbai

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Drivers in Mumbia must pay attention on crowded streets filled with scooters, taxis, and pedestrians. Read the rest

Easy-to-clean minimalist kitchen scale, weighs up to 13 pounds ($10)

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No protruding buttons on the glass surface of this digital kitchen scale make it easy to wipe down. The graduation is 0.1oz/1g, and can weigh things up to 13 lbs. Use code NVU8KPUX and get it on Amazon for $10. Read the rest

Who will debunk the debunkers?

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Mike Sutton is a meta-skeptic. He debunks skeptics who use myths to debunk myths.

From a FiveThirtyEight article by Daniel Engber:

In 2014, a Norwegian anthropologist named Ole Bjorn Rekdal published an examination of how the decimal-point myth had propagated through the academic literature. He found that bad citations were the vector. Instead of looking for its source, those who told the story merely plagiarized a solid-sounding reference: “(Hamblin, BMJ, 1981).” Or they cited someone in between — someone who, in turn, had cited Hamblin. This loose behavior, Rekdal wrote, made the transposed decimal point into something like an “academic urban legend,” its nested sourcing more or less equivalent to the familiar “friend of a friend” of schoolyard mythology.

Emerging from the rabbit hole, Sutton began to puzzle over what he’d found. This wasn’t just any sort of myth, he decided, but something he would term a “supermyth”: A story concocted by respected scholars and then credulously disseminated in order to promote skeptical thinking and “to help us overcome our tendency towards credulous bias.” The convolution of this scenario inspired him to look for more examples. “I’m rather a sucker for such complexity,” he told me.

I don't know any meta-meta-skeptics, but I imagine we'll meet some in the comments. Read the rest

If you win the lottery, hire this lawyer

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You will never win the lottery, so you don't really need to read this interview with Jason Kurland, a self-described "go-to" attorney for lottery winners. It's still interesting, though. From Vice:

OK, so what's the first thing you should do if you have a winning lottery ticket?

First thing, you want to sign the back of it, because [a winning ticket] is what's called a bearer instrument—technically whoever hands it in is declared the winner. If you sign the back of it, you secure that it is yours. And I tell the big jackpot winners to sign the back, but to leave some room above it, because if we decide to claim it in a trust fund or an LLC or any other kind of entity, you will be able to write the name of that entity above it, and then sign as a trustee or something like that. So sign the back, make a copy of it, and preferably put it in a safety deposit box, or hide it somewhere in your house.

Then what you want to do is start hiring your professionals. You want to call a lawyer for sure—I am talking about if you win $1 million or more, you should do this stuff. Call an attorney, a financial planner, an accountant––that's the team you're gonna need. Obviously the bigger the jackpot, the more necessary it is to get a team like that. Get your team in place, keep quiet, and don't tell anybody. You can tell your immediate family, but as soon as word gets out your life is gonna change, and you don't want your life to change unless you're ready for the change.

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Brit who voted to leave EU immediately regrets it

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"Even though the majority of my family voted to leave, we are actually regretting it today."

[Note to Ed: Insert regret reaction GIF here] Read the rest

ATM skimmer spotted in Vienna

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Ben Tedesco of the cybersecurity company Carbon Black found an ATM skimmer while he was on vacation in Vienna, Austria.

A skimmer is a card reader that fits over an ATM card slot. It scans and records the information on the magnetic strip. Some skimmers have little built-in cameras to record card holders' pins as they enter it on the ATM keypad. If not, the sleazy criminal will mount a video camera nearby, or even install a counterfeit keypad.

From YouTube description:

While on vacation with my family in Vienna, Austria I went to grab some cash from an ATM, being security paranoid I went repeated my typical habit of checking the card reader as I have 100's of times... today's the day when my security awareness paid off! Check out how perfectly made this skimmer is that was custom made for this ATM MACHINE!

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Man who saves family in car wreck gets $143 bill from first responders

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A California man rescued a man and his children trapped inside a van that rolled over. When first responders arrived, they checked his pulse and give him a bottle of water to rinse off a small cut on his hand. He was surprised when he received a bill from the Cosumnes California Fire Department for $143.

Due to his heroic actions, the family got out safely, but in the process of freeing them, DeAnda received what he calls "a small scrape" on his hand. He was given a bottle of water to rinse it, and had his pulse checked by the emergency technicians who arrived later.

However, as he found out a few weeks later, that tiny "injury," as the Cosumnes Fire Department called it, may cost him nearly $150.

"A couple months later I get a bill for $143 for a bottle of water???" he wrote in a Facebook post after receiving a bill from the fire department. "Makes you wonder why people don't want to stop to help at an accident scene. All I can say is the look on the man's face when I was able to break that windshield and get him and his kids out of that vehicle was all the thanks I needed. I'm glad I was able to help. But now I have a bill to pay and they won't let it go."

Read the rest

People are watching TV at 160% speed to fit in all their shows

Image: Dani Johnson, Amy King / The Washington Post

Jeff Guo of Washington Post's Wonkblog says he watches all his television shows at 160% speed. Above a clip from ABC's Modern Family sped up the way Guo views it.

For years, podcast and audiobook players have provided speedup options, and research shows that most people prefer listening to accelerated speech.

In recent years, software has made it much easier to perform the same operation on videos. This was impossible for home viewers in the age of VHS. But computers can now easily speed up any video you throw at them. You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like. YouTube allows you select a speedup factor on its player. And a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime.

Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. “Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!” one user wrote.

Image: Dani Johnson, Amy King / The Washington Post Read the rest

Why are people fleeing California? Rising housing costs, taxes

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California experienced a "net outward migration" of 61,100 people in the last twelve months, the biggest exodus since 2011.

San Jose Mercury News:

The region's soaring housing prices are a key factor driving dissatisfied residents toward the exit door. Several people who have departed, or soon will leave, say they potentially could have hundreds of thousands of dollars left over even after buying a house in their new locations.

"They're taking advantage of the housing bubble right now," McElfresh said. "The majority of the people we are seeing are moving to states that don't have state income taxes."

Read the rest

Boston Dynamics shows new quadruped robots, including one with a head

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Creepy/cool robot shop Boston Dynamics introduced the new SpotMini, a 55 pound robot that seems perfect for indoor use. YouTube description:

SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot that weighs 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm.) SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance

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Germophobe's dream: keychain fob opens door handles, flicks light switches

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The Gryp is a keychain fob for people who want a barrier of silicone between them and the world. You can use it to open doors, flush toilets, push elevator buttons, hold bus handles, turn on lights, etc. I imagine is gets very dirty. Read the rest

Utah police employ "porn-sniffing" dog

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A 16-month-old black labrador named URL has been trained to sniff out electronic storage devices for the Weber County Sheriff’s Office in Utah. From Fox 13 Salt Lake:

URL is specifically trained to sniff out electronic storage devices such as thumb drives, cellphones, SIM cards, SD cards, external hard drives, tablets and iPads.

“Whether it’s child porn, or terrorism intelligence, narcotics or financial crimes information, URL has the ability to find evidence hidden on basically any electronic memory device,” the release states.

Authorities say URL will assist investigators on these specific cases and will also be used at the Weber County Jail to locate contraband, such as cellphones.

“URL does not actually search for illegal materials, but rather his highly sensitive nose has been trained to detect the unique chemical compounds found in the certain electronic components,” the release states.

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Man who killed man he believed was a chicken is released

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In 2004 Harvey Derrick Glanton mistook Daniel B. Balbaugh for a chicken, and killed him by crushing his skull with a cast-iron pot lid. At trial, Glanton was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

On Tuesday, Chesterfield County Circuit Judge Herbert C. Gill Jr. "set Glanton free from his oversight and the supervision of mental health workers with the Chesterfield County Community Services Board," reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

According to evidence presented at his trial, Glanton, then a forklift driver from Atlanta, was convinced he had to get to Washington to warn the government that aliens were taking over the world by converting people to chickens....

At Glanton’s 2004 trial, psychologist Evan S. Nelson testified that Glanton believed Balbaugh was a chicken when he encountered Balbaugh outside the victim’s mobile home at the James River Marina.

Nelson explained that Glanton lost an eye in a fight about 25 years earlier and developed the delusion that the eye had magical powers that protected him from aliens who were taking over the world by converting people to chickens.

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Stainless steel martini shaker for $9

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Yippee! My wife has started making dirty martinis (vodka, a swish of vermouth, and olive brine) lately, and I have been drinking them, after having been a virtual teetotaler for many years. Our old cocktail shaker was missing its lid, so I ordered this stainless steel shaker, which is on sale for $9 on Amazon. It also comes with a jigger. The price dropped from $49 in April, so this is quite a deal. Read the rest

Graffiti artist banned from 20% of US after Reddit users' investigation

Source: Imgur

Artist Casey Nocket, who painted faces on rocks in at least six national parks – including Death Valley, Colorado National Monument, Canyonlands, Zion, and Crater Lake – has been banned from all national parks and other federally administered land. Reddit users tracked her down after she posted photos of her vandalism on Instagram.

Guardian:

In June, Nocket was charged with seven counts of injury or depredation against government property in six national parks in Oregon, California, Utah and Colorado.

She pleaded guilty to all seven counts, and on 13 June a federal magistrate sentenced her to 200 hours community service, and a fine of an amount to be specified at a separate hearing in December.

Nocket must also make a formal written apology to the National Park Service; and she has been banned from entering public lands administered by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and US army corps of engineers – some 549m acres, totaling more than 20% of the landmass of the US.

Nocket did not respond to a request for comment.

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