Open source hardware autonomous tractor uses repurposed drone autopilot


Matt Reimer's homebrew autonomous tractor uses open source components to accomplish the kind of automation that John Deere's super-proprietary tractors are known for. Read the rest

LISTEN: William "Accidental Terrorist" Shunn on Mormonism and science fiction


The latest installment of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast (MP3) interviews science fiction author William Shunn, author of the The Accidental Terrorist, a memoir that explains the bizarre circumstances in which Shunn, as a teenaged Mormon missionary stationed in Calgary, Alberta, was arrested and deported for terrorism. Read the rest

Fantastic new podcast - Home: Stories from L.A.


Frequent Boing Boing contributor Bill Barol has a new podcast, called Home: Stories from L.A., and it's about the concept of "home." Within his broad definition of the word, Bill reports on stories about interesting people in Los Angeles. It's well produced and fascinating. The first episode is called "The House on the Hill." Read the rest

LA Makerspace founder Tara Tiger Brown shares her favorite tools


Tara Tiger Brown is the founder of nonprofit organization LA Makerspace, the premier STEAM service provider for the Los Angeles Public Library. She’s also the co-founder of Kithub, creative electronics kits for kids, and co-founder of Connected Camps, which has online camps for kids including a Minecraft coding club. Read the rest

Top 50 most popular non-fiction podcasts in 2015


Kevin Kelly and I surveyed over 1600 people to come up with this list of the top 50 most popular non-fiction podcasts. From our introduction to the list:

We made a list of the best factual podcasts by ranking the most popular factual podcasts from the results of an unscientific survey we posted online several months ago. We asked readers of this Cool Tools blog and our social followers to take our survey and rate some suggested podcasts — and to add ones we did not know about. More than 1,600 people filled out the survey, and by the end we had a list of 775 suggested titles. We combined the number of times a podcast was checked together with its average rating to come up with a total score. We then sorted the final list of podcast titles by rank. (The full data dump is here.) We wrote descriptions for the top 50, shown below. (The rankings in this list are biased to our original suggestion list; we’d do the survey differently if we did it again next year.)

There are two broad types of factual podcasts; unscripted and scripted. Unscripted shows are usually interviews or discussions that play out as recorded. The producers don’t know, nor have much control, over where the show goes. Scripted shows, on the other hand, will carefully edit interviews after the fact, mixing them with narration, inter-splicing them with other interviews, maybe adding a soundtrack or ambient sounds. They craft the raw factual materials into a highly produced show in the way a reporter might craft a magazine article, rather than just run a Q&A.

Read the rest

The Welcome to Night Vale novel dances a tightrope between weird humor and real pathos

Welcome to Night Vale is the spookiest, funniest podcast on the net and now it's a book that manages the near impossible: balancing precisely on the single-molecule-thick line separating weird humor and real pathos.

In 1910, a group of inexperienced gold miners bet two cents that they could reach the top of Mount McKinley


In 1910, four Alaskan gold miners set out to climb the highest peak in North America just to show that it could be done. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the surprising story of the Sourdough Expedition, a mountaineering effort that one modern climber calls "superhuman by today's standards."

We'll also hear about a ghoulish tourist destination and puzzle over why a painter would blame himself for World War II.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon! Read the rest

You’ve Read the Book, Now Listen to the Podcast


DataScience@smu (Southern Methodist University) has compiled a list of recommended podcasts that are based on popular science books. Some of them I've heard of before (like Freakonomics Radio), but most are new to me and sound interesting (like Learning Machines 101)

If you liked…

Data Mining: Practical Machine Learning Tools and Techniques

Listen to…

Learning Machines 101


If you’re interested in machine learning, Learning Machines 101 is the place to go. Dr. Richard M. Golden’s podcast series examines how smart machines and artificial intelligence work, where they come from, and how scientists are working to make them even smarter and more humanlike. The series starts out at a basic level and gets advanced, fast, so find the level where you’re comfortable and settle down for a listen.

Read the rest

Best podcast episode ever - Mystery Show Case #3: Belt Buckle


In the 1980s a nine-year-old boy found an elaborate belt buckle on a Phoenix street. It had a chef's hat, a frying pan with eggs (painted yellow and white), a corkscrew, and a toaster with tiny pieces of toast that pop out when you flick a tiny switch. Truly a magical thing for kid to find in a gutter. The belt buckle was inscribed with the name "Hans Jordi." The boy gave the belt buckle to friend, and that friend hung on to it for decades.

The Mystery Show Podcast is a show that helps people solve everyday mysteries. I love it. In this episode (which ran in June) host and co-producer Starlee Kine helps her friend, the person in possession of the belt buckle, attempt to track down Hans Jordi and return the belt buckle to him. It's wonderful, emotional story, and I'm not going to say anything more about it. I think it might be the best single podcast episode I've heard.

Mystery Show Case #3: Belt Buckle Read the rest

Interview with Windell Oskay, Co-Founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories


Windell Oskay is the co-founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, a Silicon Valley company that has designed and produced specialized electronics and robotics kits since 2007. Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories also runs a popular DIY project blog, and many of its projects have been featured at science and art museums and in Make, Wired, and Popular Science magazines. He's the co-author of the recently published book, The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory.

See shownotes and links to the tools Windell uses.

Read the rest

Take this survey to rate and nominate your favorite podcasts


My friend and Cool Tools business partner Kevin Kelly and I are podcast fanatics. We’d like to find out what your favorite non-fiction podcasts are and why you like them. Please take this survey to help us create a Guide to the Best Non-Fiction Podcast Series. Read the rest

A mid-century UFO hoax


One of my all-time favorite podcasts, Nate DiMeo's Memory Palace, is back and on a weekly schedule. In the latest episode, Nate tells the story of a mid-century UFO hoax.

And don't miss Nate's live shows in Seattle, Portland, and LA! Read the rest

Interview with Ben Krasnow, the guy who made his own electron microscope


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Every week on the Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interview an interesting person, and ask them about four of their favorite tools. Our guest this week is Ben Krasnow. Ben works at Google[x], Google’s semi-secret technology development facility, where he creates advanced prototypes. Ben previously developed virtual reality hardware at Valve. After work, he spends time on various projects that usually involve circuit design, machining, and chemistry. Ben makes things that usually require a lot of money and sophisticated equipment: an electron scanning microscope, silica aerogel, and freeze-dried astronaut ice cream (I’ve tasted it, and it’s spectacular). You can follow Ben’s projects on his youtube channel, Applied Science. Read the rest

How Google uses behavioral science to make work suck less

From Dilbert to Fight Club to Joe Versus the Volcano, the world of white-collar drones and managerial ineptitude has long been a goldmine for parody.

LISTEN: Rare George RR Martin/Howard Waldrop collaboration

Tony from the Starship Sofa podcast writes, "Listen to George R R Martin's The Men of Greywater Station over at StarShipSofa. It is the first time this story has appeared anywhere online. It was written with Howard Waldrop in 1976 and appeared in Amazing Science Fiction magazine." Read the rest

Poverty is a tax on cognition

In an outstanding lecture at the London School of Economics, Macarthur "genius award" recipient Sendhil Mullainathan explains his research on the psychology of scarcity, a subject that he's also written an excellent book about. Read the rest

Today's jam: Embrace the Sun!

This morning's walk delivered a new jam, courtesy of the music in the latest Welcome to Nightvale "Weather" segment: Sifu Hotman's Embrace the Sun. Read the rest

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