The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

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Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. Read the rest

Things I miss: The Thunderbirds saying FAB

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Fun remix of Gerry and Silvia Anderson's supermarionation classic Thunderbirds.

Thunderbird 4 would have been mine. MINE. Read the rest

Seriously elaborate, steampunked coffee siphon

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Diguo's Luxury Royal Family Balance Syphon Coffee Maker is an amazingly elaborate coffee siphon, a brewing method dating to the 1830s which is said to produce "a delicate, tea-like cup of coffee," albeit with the caveat that it is "quite persnickety." Read the rest

How to get rid of ear worms

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Annoying song stuck in your head? This BrainCraft video explains that listening to it from beginning to end may free you from its burden. It's a technique based on the Zeigarnik effect, the tendency we have to remember things which are uncompleted.

To try it yourself, listen to this first:

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Mr Robot has driven a stake through the Hollywood hacker, and not a moment too soon

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Mr Robot is the most successful example of a small but fast-growing genre of "techno-realist" media, where the focus is on realistic portrayals of hackers, information security, surveillance and privacy, and it represents a huge reversal on the usual portrayal of hackers and computers as convenient plot elements whose details can be finessed to meet the story's demands, without regard to reality. Read the rest

Venerable 1990s indie rockers Creeper Lagoon reuniting

My pals in Creeper Lagoon are reuniting for the 25th anniversary of San Francisco's Noise Pop Music and Arts Festival in February! The indie troupe emerged in the early 1990s from Cincinnati and San Francisco's underground music scene with a stream of influential indie releases and grew to alt.rock fame with their excellent 2001 album "Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday" before disbanding. (Dig the video above for "Wrecking Ball" from that album. It'll be a joy to see Creeper on stage again February 26 at Bottom of the Hill.

Other fine acts performing at Noise Pop include Rogue Wave, Ty Segall, Vince Staples, MSTRKRFT, Cloud Nothings, Dawes, Deafheaven, and dozens more.

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A message to Breitbart from Weather.com

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"Note to Breitbart: Earth is not cooling, climate change is real and please stop using our video to mislead Americans." Read the rest

Atari 2600 emulator in Minecraft

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SethBling says: "I built an Atari 2600 Emulator in vanilla Minecraft using a couple thousand command blocks." Download the world and watch the technical video here. Read the rest

Watch the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine crew “sing” a Christmas carol

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With some clever editing, YouTube user John C. Worsley helps the DS9 crew get into the holiday spirit with their rendition of “Wonderful Deep Space Nine.” Read the rest

This gorgeous video counts down the 25 best films of 2016

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Indiewire critic David Ehrlich crafted this lovely video essay celebrating the best cinema of 2016. Read the rest

Moose warms face with car exhaust

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On a brisk wintry day, this clever moose decided to use a car's exhaust to get a faceful of warm air. The best part is the car owner who keeps scraping his windshield. Read the rest

Breathtaking 4K timelapse of noctilucent clouds

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Adrien Mauduit captured these noctilucent clouds above Denmark on not just one night, but two consecutive nights. He explains how he documented the unusual weather phenomenon: Read the rest

Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November

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Except you, you badass. Welcome. (Airport greeting in Helsinki, Finland.) Read the rest

What North Korean defectors think of North Korea

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Asian Boss interviewed a couple of young North Korean defectors, who talked about life in the nation-sized cult. Starvation, public executions where everyone over the age of 12 is commanded to watch, no electricity in winter except on days when Kim Il Sung gave his New Year's TV address, and soldiers standing in holes waiting to shoot people trying to escape across a frozen river, are a few of the highlights. Read the rest

Thermal image video shows how dippy birds work

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The ingenious design of the dippy bird heat engine is revealed in this thermal imaging video.

The liquid inside dippy birds is called Dichloromethane. Commenters who were alarmed about the grave hazards posed by laser landscape projectors will enjoy complaining about the dangers of dippy birds. From Wikipedia: "Symptoms of acute overexposure to dichloromethane via inhalation include difficulty concentrating, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, numbness, weakness, and irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes. More severe consequences can include suffocation, loss of consciousness, coma, and death." Read the rest

Cars slowly sliding and colliding on a Montreal hill

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City buses, utility trucks, snowplows, and police cars get in on the action on this icy street in Montreal. Read the rest

Old-timey mass evangelism and the phonograph

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The Grammy nominations were announced today and along with Beyonce, Drake, Adele, and Kanye there was a nomination that went to music recorded by Ira D. Sankey, Winfield Weeden, Silas Leachman and the Rittersville Singing Club. No, those are not artists from today… In fact, those performers lived 125 years ago and their recordings have been newly compiled by a husband/wife team dedicated to bringing back to life the music of the post-Industrial Revolution 19th century.

Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey have one collective dream, and that is to preserve, expose and celebrate the earliest eras of recorded sounds for new generations of listeners. Their label Archeophone Records has produced dozens of releases showcasing music created even before electricity got in the way. These are acoustic recordings created when the music industry was still “cutting wax” and "the business” was in its infancy. John Phillips Souza’s marches were chart toppers, along with sappy ballads and jocular tunes. The world was introduced to “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” and of course, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

Richard and Meagan collect the cylinders for each release, digitize the music found in the 100+ year old grooves, painstakingly master the tracks, rabbit-hole copious amounts of research about the recordings, the artists, and the era, and bring forth a truly amazing product that takes any listener back to a time long forgotten..an almost alien world.

And while in many circles they are known for their Grammy-winning expert work, nothing can prepare an enthusiast for their latest epic deep dive. Read the rest

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