A tiny Hayes modem for your tiny retro computer

The WiFi232 is a traditional old-timey old-schooley Hayes-compatible 300-115200 baud modem, no wider than its own parallel DB25 port.

Automatically responds with a customizable busy message when already in a call.

The killer app seems to be using it to get internet onto ancient retro portables like the TRS-80 Model 102, but it's been put through its paces on various 16-bit Commodores, Ataris and Apples too. Here's Blake Patterson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92RIT_L-8jA

The purpose of the device is to act as a bridge between your serial port and your local WiFi router. It has a 25-pin RS-232 data interface and a Mini-USB connector for power — it should work with any computer sporting a standard serial port.

The WiFi232 is configured by connecting to the device’s built-in web server and loading the configuration page or by issuing extended AT configuration commands. For example,

AT$SSID=MyWifiHotspotName

points the device to your WiFi hotspot. Once things are configured (it supports 300 to 115,200 baud), just load up your favorite terminal program, type:

ATDT bbs.myfavbbs.com

and the WiFi232 “dials” into that telnet BBS. Your vintage computer thinks its talking on the phone.

It's $33 as a pile o' parts or $49 assembled, but there's a waiting list. Read the rest

Film examines truth of legendary gathering of fish-surnamed people

In 1987 or so, the Welsh island of Anglesey, legendary redoubt of the druids, hosted a similarly legendary gathering to which only people with fish-themed surnames were invited. In Fish Story, Charlie Lynn (with the help of one Caspar Salmon) sets out to unravel "the truth behind a fishy tale." Read the rest

Man horrifically mauled after jumping into giant panda den

A foolish tourist in Nanchang Zoo, China, climbs into a panda den and approaches one of the enormous bears. Be warned: the predictable results are even more harrowing than the scene from The Revenant where Leonardo diCaprio's character is relentlessly savaged by a grizzly. Fortunately, he's going to survive. Read the rest

New Jersey governor Chris Christie suns self on beach he closed to the public

It was a lovely weekend in New Jersey, and governor Chris Christie celebrated it by closing a popular beach, which he then subsequently occupied with his family. Then he lied about it, until drone footage proved it.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is facing heavy criticism after he was photographed relaxing on a state beach he had ordered closed to the public.

The Republican gave the go-ahead for non-essential services to be shut down - including the Island State Beach Park - over the 4 July holiday weekend because of a budget impasse.

"I didn't get any sun today," he said, before the aerial photos emerged.

From NJ.com's Andrew Mills AND Clause Brodesser-Akner:

And here are exclusive aerial photos by NJ Advance Media showing Christie surrounded by wife, Mary Pat Christie, and others. (You can open the photo gallery here to see all the photos.)

Read the rest

Felt Tardigrade

FoxWoolDesigns will make you a perfectly pink felt tardigrade, and has one in stock to fulfill your immediate felt tardigrade requirements.

This felt tardigrade is made of coral wool and is about five inches long. That's about 250 times larger than a live tardigrade!

My creatures are lovingly handcrafted from sheep's wool in a process called needle felting, which uses a special barbed needle to mesh fibers into felt. Because needle felted creatures can be delicate, this toy is not suitable for young children.

Previously:

Tardigrade plushies for unkillable cuddling How tardigrades survive extreme conditions Tardigrade is plump, loveable 3D-printed tardigrades Read the rest

Japan plans to land a human on the moon by 2030

Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced Wednesday that it plans to land an astronaut on the moon by 2030, joining China in a new manned race to space.

It is the first time JAXA has revealed an intention to send Japanese astronauts beyond the International Space Station, and it will mostly likely be part of an international mission, the agency said.

The announcement from Japan Wednesday is just the latest in a series of ambitious space exploration plans by Asian countries, with the increasing competition for space-related power and prestige in the region echoing that of the Cold War space race of the mid-20th century.

In December 2016, China announced plans to land a rover on Mars by 2020 as well as a manned mission to the Moon at some point in the future.

Pictured here is one of JAXA's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries rockets, via Danspace. Read the rest

The forgotten cyberspace of the Neuromancer computer game

William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer is far from forgotten; the times seem almost uncannily like an interregnum between the world he wrote in and the world he wrote. But the 1988 video game adaptation is another matter. [via]

Mark Hill:

The game’s developers were challenged with portraying this futuristic nonspace while still creating an accessible and interesting game, and all with computers that were barely a step up from a calculator and a potent imagination. The end result is surreal, abstract, and lonely. It’s a virtual world that’s simultaneously leagues beyond our internet, yet stunted and impractical, a world where you can bank online before doing battle with an artificial intelligence yet won’t let you run a simple search query and forces you to “physically” move between one virtual location and the next. It’s cyberspace as envisioned by a world that didn’t yet have the computing power to experience it for real, a virtual 2058 that would look archaic before the turn of the millennium.

Hill gets it, especially how the game seeks to understand cyberspace as a city. But I think he's wrong in suggesting that contemporary hardware limitations ("a step up from a calculator") were the game's undoing. If anything, I feel that the cusp of the 16-bit era was perfect for implementing Neuromancer as a solipsistic, non-networked adventure game. Indeed, much of the history of the 16-bit era can be read as increasingly successful efforts to implement the vision of Neuromancer as a narrative experience rather than a labyrinthine multidimensional bulletin board. Read the rest

The truth about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley

In the New York Times, Katie Bienner relates a cultural shift in Silicon Valley: women victims of sexual harassment describing their experiences frankly. In an industry bound by delusions of meritocracy and egality, simply talking about it is radical.

More than two dozen women in the technology start-up industry spoke to The Times in recent days about being sexually harassed. Ten of them named the investors involved, often providing corroborating messages and emails, and pointed to high-profile venture capitalists such as Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups, who did not dispute the accounts.

The disclosures came after the tech news site The Information reported that female entrepreneurs had been preyed upon by a venture capitalist, Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital. The new accounts underscore how sexual harassment in the tech start-up ecosystem goes beyond one firm and is pervasive and ingrained. Now their speaking out suggests a cultural shift in Silicon Valley, where such predatory behavior had often been murmured about but rarely exposed.

From the reports, Ellen Pao striking out in the courts only underscored the impunity enjoyed by these men.

Lindsay Meyer, an entrepreneur in San Francisco, said Mr. Caldbeck put $25,000 of his own money into her fitness start-up in 2015. That gave Mr. Caldbeck reason to constantly text her; in those messages, reviewed by The Times, he asked if she was attracted to him and why she would rather be with her boyfriend than him. At times, he groped and kissed her, she said.

Read the rest

President Trump attempted to "blackmail" TV hosts with threat of tabloid smears, they claim

Yesterday, MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were subject to typical (if unusually gross) insults from the President of the United States, leading to a standard round of milquetoast criticism from his fellow Republicans and futile rage from everyone else. But it's their claim that Trump tried to blackmail them through the threat of negative press coverage that's making news all around the world. Even the BBC has it as its top story.

What started yesterday as an undignified personal spat between Donald Trump and the hosts of a cable news show has morphed into something much more sinister - allegations of White House machinations that tread ever so close to outright blackmail.

If what Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough say is true, they were the targets of political dark arts reminiscent of the schemes of the Watergate "fixers" during the Nixon White House. Could Trump aides have really used the threat of an embarrassing story in a tabloid newspaper to pressure the two hosts to provide more favourable coverage?

Trump admitted it, in one his bizarrely revealing attempts at misdirection...

...and yet we're so deep into the surreal dreamland of his presidency that it seems nothing he says or does could possibly lead to consequences. It's as if he's so deranged that his own party simply doesn't feel his behavior will reflect badly on them, irrespective of their support for and tolerance of it. Read the rest

Broflake defined

Perhaps you are tired of the terminology of online trashtalk, where words (such as snowflake and bro) form billowing epicycles of sincerity, appropriation and reclamation. Me too! Yet there is such a pure beauty to this morning's surprisingly viral portmanteau, Broflake.

From the Urban Dictionary:

Broflake: Straight white male offended by any feminist or ethnic activity which is not directly designed for him.

Kyle: "How come there's no Straight Pride parade"? Me: OMG you're such a delicate little broflake.

If anything, this definition is too precise, as the word perfectly captures the broader dynamic wherein a person adopts a posture of devil-may-care principled insensitivity to offense, only to collapse in a puddle of outrage and/or legal threats when they are offended.

(For example, the NRA's Dana Loesch is an excellent candidate for Broflake of the Day for Friday, June 30, 2017. After pitching an insanely totalitarian NRA recruitment ad whose anti-violence fig leaf only drew attention to its naked thirst for bloodshed, she was apparently up all night shrieking legal threats on Twitter at random anonymous interlocutors, insisting that their mockery is not free speech.)

Read the rest

Man dragging roadkill raccoon shot by bad Samaritan who thought it was an abused dog

Police in Washington state want to find a driver who shot a man Sunday, apparently under the mistaken belief he was abusing a dog. The victim was in fact dragging a dead raccoon down the highway.

He's seen here in a video taken by another motorist who had similar concerns, but the wherewithal to ask questions first.

The man intended to use the already-dead raccoon as bait in his crab pot, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office said, but a confrontation over it quickly got out of hand and police say the suspect ran the man over and shot him in the leg.

Surveillance video captured the truck, which is a Ford extended cab built between 1992 and 1997 with a dark colored canopy. There was a white dog in the cab. ...

A 911 call obtained by KCPQ describes the scene of the shooting.

“He’s aiming a gun … at the guy dragging the raccoon,” the caller reported. “Now the guy’s swinging the raccoon around.”

The universe has cheated us of footage of a half-naked man using a roadkill raccoon as an enormous flail.

Previous Raccoons: Rabid Raccoon. Robber Raccoon. Read the rest

Goop and Infowars sell the same wellness stuff

You'd think Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow's "lifestyle brand" for clean-freak whippies, and Infowars, Alex Jones' conspiracy compendium for seething fascists, wouldn't share much in common. But they both have exactly the same business model: selling wellness to people skeptical and fearful of mainstream medicine and healthcare. Nikhil Sonnad took a look at the ingredients on each site and found that it's all the same stuff.

We at Quartz have created a compendium, from Ashwagandha to zizyphus, of the magical healing ingredients both sides of the political spectrum are buying, and how they are presented to each. We looked at the ingredients used in products sold on the Infowars store, and compared them to products on the wellness shops Moon Juice and Goop. All make similar claims about the health benefits of these ingredients, but what gets called “Super Male Vitality” by Infowars is branded as “Sex Dust” by Moon Juice.

Call it horseshit theory: opposite extremes of lifestyle branding converging on a hidden axis of shared appreciation for their audiences.

[h/t Agies] Read the rest

How to start a yard fire

The key component of a quality yard fire is ignorance, but you must remember to mix it with a sufficient quantity of flammable material and oxygen.

BONUS: How to start a bonfire on a moor.

Read the rest

Florida town plagued by triple-arse graffiti

Authorities in St. Petersburg, Florida, are battling an onslaught of graffiti depicting a three-buttocked arse. NBC affiliate WFLA reports that the design has appeared at least twenty times across the city. It is thought to be the calling card of a single anonymous artist, who police stress is breaking the law.

St. Pete is a city known for its beautiful art and stunning murals. Many people are upset by this new graffiti involving a tush trend. They don’t like the fact that the bold buttocks are suddenly everywhere.

“This is not art. At all,” said one woman. “It’s vandalism.”

“There should be consequences. You can’t just take it upon yourself to do whatever you want to do,” another man said.

We shall speak in hushed tones, over the beachfires where the Suwannee meets the shore, of the great triple-arsed god worshiped by those who once lived in the sunken cities of the Florida sea. Read the rest

Inkwell, a family of hand-drawn yet formal typefaces

Type designer Jonathan Hoefler's latest work, Inkwell, is a family of cute, hand-drawn imitations of distinctive type families of past and present. He fears that it will be compared to Comic Sans, popular with the people but reviled by the pros.

“Comic Sans is shooting for ‘informal’ but hits ‘amateurish,'” Hoefler says. “I wanted Inkwell to be informal, but proficient.” Indeed, Inkwell’s “tiny universe of fonts” contains both serif and sans versions, plus four decorative fonts including a cursive-like script, a blueprint-inspired all-caps set, even a blackletter. (“Think less ‘death announcement,’ more ‘country club invitation.'” Hoefler says.)

Inkwell's a lovely antidote to Comic Sans, but the fact you can pay $400 for it and yet find these anxieties and ironies in every line says something about the beast's power.

Sometimes I look at the dawn and I think Comic Sans may be the greatest typeface of all time. If there were another bloodsoaked civil war in this country, leaving it and half the world past it a wasteland scoured of life and beset by a heavensent grief and heartache that makes us pine for death even as we understand finally that the wrath of God lies sleeping, the armistice will be printed in Times New Roman and the new constitution in Comic Sans. Read the rest

Brilliant short story about being trapped in an infinite IKEA

The SCP Foundation features unsettling horror and SF stories, all posed as the technical reports of a secret international consortium whose job is to secure, contain and protect the public from all manner of weird threats, from unnatural beasties to sentient buildings. Written in the dry language of officialdom, they're the perfect short fiction for the internet-era and often extremely clever. I think this one about being trapped in an infinite IKEA, by Mortos, is my favorite yet.

Description: SCP-3008 is a large retail unit previously owned by and branded as IKEA, a popular furniture retail chain. A person entering SCP-3008 through the main entrance and then passing out of sight of the doors will find themselves translocated to SCP-3008-1. This displacement will typically go unnoticed as no change will occur from the perspective of the victim; they will generally not become aware until they try and return to the entrance.

SCP-3008-1 is a space resembling the inside of an IKEA furniture store, extending far beyond the limits of what could physically be contained within the dimensions of the retail unit. Current measurements indicate an area of at least 10km2 with no visible external terminators detected in any direction. Inconclusive results from the use of laser rangefinders has lead to the speculation that the space may be infinite.

SCP-3008-1 is inhabited by an unknown number of civilians trapped within prior to containment. Gathered data suggests they have formed a rudimentary civilisation within SCP-3008-1, including the construction of settlements and fortifications for the purpose of defending against SCP-3008-2.

Read the rest

Island forms off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina

A mile-long island emerged from the sea 100 yards out from Cape Hatteras.

Since being discovered, countless visitors and locals have made the trek to see if the weeks of rumors about the island’s existence – as well as the stories that it’s a haven for shells – are true.

The answer to both questions appears to be yes.

I superimposed the equivalent view from Google Earth, over Chad Koczera's photo, in the GIF above. Read the rest

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