Trumpscript: a programming language based on the rhetorical tactics of Donald Trump

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Trumpscript -- a python variant -- only allows numbers over 1,000,000; has no import statements (all declarations must be homegrown); only has integers because floating-point numbers are un-American (America never does anything halfway); only allows popular words and the names of politicians as variable names; limits error messages to direct Trump quotes; and requires that all programs end with "America is great." Read the rest

Your smartwatch knows your ATM and phone PIN

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Because a PIN-pad is so constrained and predictable, the accelerometer in your smartwatch is able to guess with a high degree of confidence (73%) what you enter into it -- it can also serve as a general-purpose keylogger, though with less accuracy (59%), thanks to the complexity of the keyboard. Read the rest

Piet: Turing-complete abstract art

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Piet was named for Piet Mondrian, and its programs look like Mondrian paintings -- which makes Mondrian Turing-complete. (Shown above: a Piet "Hello World" program.) Read the rest

500 computer-generated novels: the Nanogenmo 2015 entrants

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To enter Nanogenmo, you have to write a program that generates a novel, then post it, along with the novel and the training data used to produce it. 500 teams' entries have been posted to Github. Read the rest

Wishful thinking versus terrorism: why crypto backdoors are a dumb idea

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"We know of no case where such an addition of exceptional access capabilities has not resulted in weakened security." Read the rest

Ada Lovelace: what would go into an Internet of Women's Things?

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Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, is no longer who she once was, 200 years ago. Time changes all famous people, especially cult personalities. Ada has become a modern icon for the digitizing world of science and literature.

UK spy agency posts data-mining software to Github

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Gaffer is a graph database "optimised for retrieving data on nodes of interest" developed by the notorious UK spy agency GCHQ, and now you can download, run and improve it because they've posted it to Github under the permissive, free/open Apache license. Read the rest

Computationally derived Sisyphus Lego automata has to push his ball forever and ever

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JK Brickworks's Sisyphus automata was inspired by Disney Research's work on the "Computational Design of Mechanical Characters". Read the rest

Free usability help for privacy toolmakers

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Simply Secure, a nonprofit I volunteer for, is launching a new series of usability programs for organizations, companies and individuals who are making cryptographic/privacy/security tools. Read the rest

I Can't Let You Do That, Dave: why computer scientists should care about DRM

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I have an editorial in the current issue of Communications of the Association of Computing Machinery, a scholarly journal for computer scientists, in which I describe the way that laws that protect digital locks (like America's DMCA) compromise the fundamentals of computer security. Read the rest

Ar ar humor: Generating jokes algorithmically with Wolfram Mathematica

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Kathryn Cramer writes, "Jesse Friedman, age 14, has developed some code for getting Wolfram Language to tell a few jokes. Although most of WL's jokes are not funny, the generative language tools are an interesting toy." Read the rest

Google releases critical AI program under a free/open license

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Tensorflow, a sophisticated machine learning program that underpins Google Translate, speech recognition, image recognition and many other critical Google services, is now available under an Apache license, one of the least restrictive free/open licenses. Read the rest

New Zealand's lost colossus: all-mechanical racetrack oddsmaking computer

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In 1913, George Julius installed a building-sized, all mechanical odds-calculating computer at Auckland, NZ's Ellerslie racetrack, powered by huge iron weights that slowly pulled down bike chains over sprockets, driving the clockwork device as it "totalised" all the bets laid on horses at the track, keeping the odds in constant balance so that all the bettors were effectively betting against one another, in a system called "pari-mutuel" betting. Read the rest

The word "software" sounded ridiculous when it was coined in '53

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Computing pioneer Paul Niquette's memoir begins with the tale of how he came to coin the term "software" in 1953, to the ridicule of his colleague, and how the idea of a computer whose code was separate from its machinery took hold and changed the way we think about computation forever. Read the rest

How to teach gerrymandering and its many subtle, hard problems

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Ben Kraft teaches a unit on gerrymandering -- rigging electoral districts to ensure that one party always wins -- to high school kids in his open MIT Educational Studies Program course. As he describes the problem and his teaching methodology, I learned that district-boundaries have a lot more subtlety and complexity than I'd imagined at first, and that there are some really chewy math and computer science problems lurking in there. Read the rest

Secret Coders: kids' comic awesomely teaches the fundamentals of computer science

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Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes's Secret Coders is volume one in a new series of ingenious graphic novels for young kids that teach the fundamentals of computer science.

WATCH: goopy simulated meltful armadillos

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A. Peer, M. Ihmsen, J. Cornelis and M. Teschner's SIGGRAPH paper "An Implicit Viscosity Formulation for SPH Fluids," explored techniques for simulating the physics of smoothed-particle hydrodynamics -- solids that melt and squoosh into liquids and slimes. As interesting as the paper is, the video is a showstopper -- never have simulated anthropomorphic armadillo action-figures been so meltfully delightful! Read the rest

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