Real data used to create fictional flight over Mars

Jan Fröjdman used HiRISE satellite data from Mars to create this beautiful and detailed flyby of the planet. Liz Stinson writes that stitching it together took months.

For Fröjdman, creating the flyover effect was like assembling a puzzle. He began by colorizing the photographs (HiRISE captures images in grayscale). He then identified distinctive features in each of the anaglyphs—craters, canyons, mountains–and matched them between image pairs. To create the panning 3-D effect, he stitched the images together along his reference points and rendered them as frames in a video. “It was a very slow process,” he says.

When I was a kid, my mind was blown by Isaac Asimov's VHS wonder, Voyage to the Outer Planets and Beyond, which (at least in some versions, if not the one you can find on YouTube), included the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab's 1980s Mars flyover animation: my first encounter with the glitchy, transfixing, uncanny quality of real data from another world. How far we have come, yet not gone.

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Futuracha Pro, a font that "evolves" as you type

Futuracha Pro is a typeface designed to take excessive advantage of alternatives, ligatures and other features of modern fonts, so much so that as you type, the words evolve into striking, but consistent new forms.[via Bored Panda]

Futuracha Pro is an Open Type Font, which magically adjusts and readjusts as you write. Its quirkiness and eccentricity are the two main features that made it one of the most beloved fonts in the whole world. Until today, nobody was able to just sit down and type with it. Featuring various combinations of letters and plenty of playful ligatures, Futuracha Pro gives creative people the opportunity to actually type and create, making their ideas extraordinary and unique!

Currently available as an elaborate nest of EPS files, a proper font's been in the works for years. You can preorder it for $50, but it's still cooking and will not be available until May.

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Incredibly fast calculator fingers in Japan

"Before a finger leaves a key, the next key is already being pressed. She is making 9 keystrokes per second."

(From the Japanese TV series Begin Japanology)

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Snakisms: the snake game, but now with meaning

Pippin Barr's Snakisms is a version of the classic game Snake, but with a selection of philosophical viewpoints to choose from at the outset.

SNAKISMS was begun on the strength of the idea of "Ascetic Snake", a game of Snake in which the snake isn't meant to eat the apple (or whatever that thing is in Snake). That basic reversal of the standard form of the game struck me as funny because those sorts of things always strike me as funny, but on turning to actually make the game it seemed pretty clear it was too much of a throw-away idea all on its own.

And so it came to pass that I decided I needed to make a whole set of Snake games based (loosely) on different philosophies, eventually settling on the idea of "isms" because SNAKISMS is really a pretty great title for a game, I think you'll agree. The design process took a surprisingly long time in terms of coming up with a set of "reasonable" interpretations of philosophies/isms that could be translated in some way to the mechanics of the original Snake game.

The creator's Comp Sci PhD thesis concerns the moral dimensions of gameplay. Read the rest

Nintendo puts a "bittering agent" on game cards so people don't stick them in their mouths

Kotaku recently contacted Nintendo to ask them why Nintendo Switch cartridges taste so awful. Nintendo replied: “To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children. A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card. This bittering agent is non-toxic.”

Snip:

According to Wikipedia, denatonium benzoate is the most bitter chemical compound known, commonly used as an aversion agent to prevent accidental ingestion, which is why the Switch cards are coated in it. It’s also used in animal repellent, shampoos, soaps and nail-biting prevention.

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Internet-connected teddy bear leaked kids' data online

Update: Dupe!

Internet-connected Cloud Pets stored recordings online and put associated data in an unprotected database for hackers to find.

Since Christmas day of last year and at least until the first week of January, Spiral Toys left customer data of its CloudPets brand on a database that wasn't behind a firewall or password-protected. The MongoDB was easy to find using Shodan, a search engine makes it easy to find unprotected websites and servers, according to several security researchers who found and inspected the data. ... During the time the data was exposed, at least two security researchers, and likely malicious hackers, got their hands on it. In fact, at the beginning of January, during the time several cybercriminals were actively scanning the internet for exposed MongoDB's databases to delete their data and hold it for ransom, CloudPets' data was overwritten twice, according to researchers.

Security researcher Troy Hunt reports that the snuggly spies, from Spiral Toys, "represents the nexus" of the problem with internet-connected appliances and toys: children being recorded, data being leaked, and the technical possibility of surreptitious access to children through networked toys. "The best way to understand what these guys do is to simply watch the video [advertisement for the toy]."

Clearly, CloudPets weren't just ignoring my contact, they simply weren't even reading their emails. 4 attempts (that we know of) were made to contact CloudPets and warn them of this risk.
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Ex-Uber engineer describes her year of being sexually harassed at Uber

Susan J. Fowler joined Uber as a site reliability engineer in November 2015. She was sexually harassed at work and Uber's human resources punished her for reporting it. She says other women at Uber have had similar experiences and that many have quit in disgust.

After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

Uber was a pretty good-sized company at that time, and I had pretty standard expectations of how they would handle situations like this. I expected that I would report him to HR, they would handle the situation appropriately, and then life would go on - unfortunately, things played out quite a bit differently. When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man's first offense, and that they wouldn't feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to.

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Breitbart interviews Sean Spicer: "Oh no, we're live now."

New York Magazine shared Breitbart's interview with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. It's glorious.

So much went wrong. There’s the uncomfortable silence at the open, the grade-school-level production values, and the nauseous look on reporter Charlie Sperling’s face. But those things are obvious. The real joy here are the Easter eggs, such as two of the four White House TVs playing President Trump’s most detested “fake news” channel, CNN.

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Magical levitating gun or bad Photoshop?

BB contributor Jess Hemerly spotted this concerning image on the Bay Area's KRON 4 Morning News. Even more disturbing than a middle school student bringing a gun to school is that it was apparently a sawed-off handgun stashed in an invisible holster.

(Here's the story.)

UPDATE: Thanks to our commenters, I'm now convinced that this is a snubnosed revolver in a plastic belt clip holster. Read the rest

The Bat Bot, a new flying robot with silicone bat wings

In a beautiful example of biomimicry, researchers at Caltech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the Bat Bot, an autonomous flying robot with silicone wings that change shape as it flies, just like a real bat. From Caltech:

The Bat Bot weighs only 93 grams and is shaped like a bat with a roughly one-foot wingspan. It is capable of altering its wing shape by flexing, extending, and twisting at its shoulders, elbows, wrists, and legs. Arguably, bats have the most sophisticated powered flight mechanism among animals, which includes wings that have the capability of changing shape. Their flight mechanism involves several different types of joints that interlock the bones and muscles to one another, creating a musculoskeletal system that is capable of movement in more than 40 rotational directions.

"Our work demonstrates one of the most advanced designs to date of a self-contained flapping-winged aerial robot with bat morphology that is able to perform autonomous flight," (UIUC researcher Alireza) Ramezani says.

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We are living in a 1990s Cyberpunk dystopia

Cartoonist Maki Naro made this one-page comic for The Nib that compares the world of today with 1990s era Cyberpunk dystopia fiction. Read the rest

Namco founder dies

You can thank Japanese game publisher Namco for Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder, Soul Calibur and Tekken. And you can thank Masaya Nakamura, who died last week, for Namco.

During the decades following World War II, the rooftops of Japanese department stores were home to family friendly rides and carnival-style analogue arcade games. Namco got it start making such amusement machines. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Nakamura’s business took off with arcade hits like Galaxian, Galaga, Pole Position, and Xevious. However, it was Pac-Man that wasn’t only the biggest Namco hit of that era, but also of the most important Japanese video games ever made.

Pac-Man is, according to the Guinness book of World Records, still the most successful coin-op of all time.

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Update: dupe! Read the rest

Cows try to befriend grumpy turtle

Cows investigate a turtle

This turtle has bovinophobia. Read the rest

Astronaut.io: a fun way to watch YouTube videos almost no one has seen

Astronaut.io randomly plays new YouTube video that have close to 0 views. It plays a few seconds of each video before moving on to another random video. If a certain video catches your attention, click the dot below the video to see the whole thing. I could waste a lot of time here.

Today, you are an Astronaut. You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments.

These videos come from YouTube. They were uploaded in the last week and have titles like DSC 1234 and IMG 4321. They have almost zero previous views. They are unnamed, unedited, and unseen by anyone but YOU.

The Astronaut video stream starts when you press GO. Videos change periodically. If you wish to linger, tap the button.

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Watch this news anchor throw a tantrum about her colleague's outfit

Nine News Australia's anchor Amber Sherlock flipped out just before going on air that her colleague Julie Snook was wearing white, just like her, even though she advised her against it. Sure, they weren't live yet, but the Internet doesn't care. "It is an issue. Go and grab a jacket!"

Sherlock must be well-loved by her colleagues, especially whoever leaked the clip.

(News.com.au)

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Court rules against UK government's surveillance legislation

A European court has ruled that the UK cannot subject its citizens to indiscriminate data collection unless the data retained is being used solely to fight serious crime, reports the BBC.

The verdict concerns an earlier incarnation of Britain's blanket domestic surveillance plans brought to court by opponensts. It does not specifically address the recently-passed "Snooper's Charter," though experts say it will lead directly to a legal challenge against it. The charter, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Act, requires phone companies and internet providers to maintain records of users' online activity for a year.

One irony of it is that an original champion of the challenge, David Davis, is now Britain's Brexit chief: he left the case after a change of personal circumstances led to a sharp change in his principles regarding privacy.

Mr Davis, who had long campaigned on civil liberties issues, left the case after Theresa May appointed him to her cabinet in July.

Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, who is one of those bringing the case, said: "This ruling shows it's counter-productive to rush new laws through Parliament without a proper scrutiny."

The Home Office said it would be putting forward "robust arguments" to the Court of Appeal.

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Bravo Twitter: company promises not to help create Trump's Muslim registry

The Intercept's Sam Biddle asked nine tech companies if they would help authorities create a national registry of known muslims—one of president-elect Donald Trump's campaign suggestions. Only Twitter would go on the record to state that it would not co-operate with such a list.
Twitter: “No,” and a link to this blog post, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, by outside developers, of “Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.”

Bravo. It takes courage and planning for publicly-traded businesses to take a hostile stand on hot potatoes like this, and Twitter bothered. Compare to IBM, whose CEO wrote Trump a slobbering mash note promising the services of her company.

Seven of the other companies didn't respond at all. Microsoft responded with "We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point."

We're asking if tech firms are going to cooperate. But when it comes to inferring affiliations from the mass surveillance of private data, it's just the sort of thing whistleblowers warn us is already going on. Trump's off-the-cuff blather about official registries isn't about what is known, but about making it acceptable.

That said, Biddle's post was met this weekend by dismissive sneering from the Gilfoyles: a good reminder that Silicon Valley is cynical and willing, and that fatalism is the best policy.

Update: Duped Cory. Read the rest

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