Visualizing the latent emotional and bureaucratic labor in our material world

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Work, today's XKCD installment, hypothesizes the latent, invisible human effort that went into the everyday things around us, from the hours of meeting-time to decide upon the length of the stem of a goose-neck lamp to the career-ending engineering argument over where to put its switch. It's a kind of preview of what augmented reality could bring, the embodiment of the spime idea, where the full costs and histories of the things around us cluster around them in complicated, emotional clouds -- an idea that's been around since at least 2006, but that is feeling increasingly likely with the passage of time. Read the rest

Humanitarian organization warns Pokemon Go players to stay out of Bosnian minefields

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Posavina bez mina, a humanitarian organization that works to defuse landmines in the former Yugoslavia, has posted a warning to its Facebook page saying that they've been told that Pokemon Go players are venturing into active minefields to catch virtual critters, and warning people not to go into minefields to catch Pokemon, which is very good advice. Read the rest

Pokemon Go players: you have 30 days from signup to opt out of binding arbitration

Like most other online services, Pokemon Go's terms of service are a reboot of the Book of Revelations, full of bizarre horrors, each more grotesque than the last. Read the rest

Why do Pokemon avoid black neighborhoods?

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The crowdsourced database that was use to seed locations to catch Pokemon in Pokemon Go came from early augmented reality games that were played by overwhelmingly affluent (and thus, disproportionately white) people, who, in an increasingly racially segregated America, are less and less likely to venture into black neighborhoods, meaning that fewer Pokemon-catching landmarks have been tagged there. Read the rest

Pokemon Go privacy rules are terrible (just like all your other apps)

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Pokemon Go wants access to your Google account (and thus your email and Google Docs) and its privacy policy is a Kafka-esque nightmare document that lets them collect every single imaginable piece of private information about your life and share it with pretty much anyone they want to, forever. Read the rest

Pokemon player (seemingly) shot at while hunting virtual animals

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Lanceypooh, a maker of Youtube videos, was out hunting for Pokemon, playing the tulip-fever-sensation game Pokemon Go, when he seems to have trespassed on a stranger's land, drawing gunfire from the irate landholder. Read the rest

The week in Pokemon: home invasions, armed robbery, police militarization

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Pokemon Go is the game of the summer: the first really successful alternate reality game that mashes up crowdsourced maps, in-phone cameras, seriously addictive game mechanics, and (of course) a free-to-play/cash-to-accelerate slot machine mechanic that children wouldn't be allowed to stand near if it were in a casino -- in less than a week, it's lifted Nintendo's stock price by 10% and been implicated in any number of bizarre news stories: Read the rest

Crowdfunding real-life, citywide choose-your-own-adventure stories

Sean Williams sez, "Best-sellers and award-winners Isobelle Carmody, Robert Shearman, Marianne De Pierres, Kim Wilkins, Mark Leslie, Mindy Klasky, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and many, many others, including me, have signed up to write choose-your-own-adventure stories that will play out in real life, in real cities via smartphones and QR codes. Rewards include guided tours, printed versions, tuckerizations, author-led adventures in their cities, and even the chance to have a CYOA written in a town of your choice, in person."

They're trying to raise AUD26,000. At AUD10, you get a pair of the adventures as PDFs. Read the rest

XKCD on Google Glass countermeasures

XKCD's Randall Munroe brings the funny in an especially intense and eeeevil way with the latest strip: Anti-Glass. Read the rest

Computer-vision boob-tracker

"Boob Tracker" is a computer vision project that automatically detects boob-like objects and masks them with user-selectable bitmaps.

ExxonMobil, FAA, Arkansas cops establish flight restriction zone, threaten reporters who try to document Mayflower, AR spill

Expect to see a lot fewer images of toxic sludge creeping through small communities, thanks to the hard work of ExxonMobil. The company could have used its prodigious resources to make its oil pipelines more secure, preventing town-destroying leaks like the one that hit Mayflower, Arkansas. But they figured out that it would be cheaper to just corrupt the local law to chase reporters out and get the FAA to establish a Temporary Flight Restriction zone over the spill. Problem solved!

Michael Hibblen, who reports for the radio station KUAR, went to the spill site on Wednesday with state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. McDaniel was in the area to inspect the site and hold a news conference, and Hibblen and a small group of reporters were following him to report on the visit. Upon arrival, representatives from the county sheriff's office, which is running security at the site, directed the reporters to a boundary point 10 feet away that they should not pass. The reporters agreed to comply. But the tone shifted abruptly, Hibblen told Mother Jones on Friday:

It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as "Exxon Media"…Some reporters were like, "Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?" The sheriff's deputies started saying, "You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested."

Hibblen says he didn't really have time to deal with getting arrested, since he needed to file his report on the visit for both the local affiliate and national NPR.

Read the rest

Spacecraft 3D: Nifty robotic space travel augmented-reality app from NASA JPL

I recently had a chance to visit NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with Miles O'Brien. At the NASA center in Pasadena, engineers are readying for the long-anticipated landing of the Mars Curiosity rover on Aug. 5. During our visit, we met with the team behind a cool new iOS app from JPL: NASA's Spacecraft 3D, an augmented reality application that allows users to "learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used to explore our solar system, study Earth, and observe the universe."

Using a printed AR Target and the camera on your mobile device, you can get up close with these robotic explorers, see how they move, and learn about the the engineering feats used to expand our knowledge and understanding of space. Spacecraft 3D will be updated over time to include more of the amazing spacecraft that act as our robotic eyes on the earth, the solar system and beyond!

The app is really a ton of fun. You can download it here for free, iPad and iPhone and iPod Touch. Here's the JPL press release announcing its release. Read the rest

Wil Wheaton Particle Emitter, an Augmented Reality

Michael Zoellner took the iconic Recursive Wil Wheaton t-shirt photo and turned it into an Augmented Reality Wil Wheaton Particle Emitter. When the photo is viewed through an AR app, it begins to fire an animated stream of correctly positioned recursive Wil Wheatons, each one more particulate than the last.

You probably have heard of the Recursive Wil Wheaton t-shirt. Paul (of Paul and Storm) sent it to Wil and this photo became quite popular. It was remixed by an unknown genius into an animated gif and “won at the internet”.

Over the weekend i experimented with the new PointCloud Augmented Reality SDK (which is by the way brilliant and simple: 3D tracking and HTML5). I took Recursive Wil and turned the concept around: A Wil Wheaton Particle Emitter.

Scott Meyer from basicinstructions.net sent me the original SVG file of the shirt’s image. My first try was using Processing.js for animation (Yes! Processing.js now works in AR). But SVG and CSS 3D were the better choice to get a perspective effect. And it’s hardware accelerated on iOS.

Michael is the same dude who encoded the opening of my novel Makers to be displayed as a persistence-of-vision lightshow which was mounted to the collar of a small, high-energy dog, who proceeded to tear-ass around a park one night, spelling out the book in glowing letters.

A Wil Particle Emitter in Augmented Reality Read the rest