Zarkonnen sez, "The Gender Remixer lets you set the video of one toy ad to the audio of another aimed at the opposite gender, with hilarious/disturbing results." It's true. The heavily gendered world of toy ads are as formalized as a legal proceeding. Hearing the audio for one and seeing the video for another is incredibly and wonderfully discordant.
Joe Posner sez, "A month ago Marketplace told me they're doing a weeklong special called "Robots Ate My Job" this week and asked if I could make videos to go with it. Where to start? "Even though we don't see them with anthropomorphic features and two arms and legs walking down the streets, there are robots all around you," say Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAffee, authors of "Race Against the Machine." Here is one of the two short films we made for them, about the hard work, now robotic, that invisibly surrounds us. It's called "Robota" rather than "Robots" for a particular reason ... (hint) -- Enjoy!"
Here's the other video.
Joe and Ian McAlpin had a harrowing time shooting the footage of the toll-booths here, with authorities first demanding a $15,000 fee and then saying they wouldn't permit filming at all ("security," natch, as if protracted toll-booth waits don't give attackers ample opportunity to study the high-stakes target that is a tollbooth; and as if a bad guy would have a hard time sneaking a video camera onto a car). He eventually just shot it on the d/l.
Robert sez, "The gamified EyeWire project, now in open beta, is about using human computation to help trace the neurons in a retina. Tracing the neurons will help nail down the computation that goes on inside the retina leading up to the optic nerve, and lead to better methods of brain mapping. Come and help explore the eye's jungle!"
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Game 1: Reconstructing Neurons The first step of the challenge is to reconstruct the tree-like shapes of retinal neurons by tracing their branches through the images. You will accomplish this by playing a simple game: helping the computer color a neuron as if the images were a three-dimensional coloring book. The collective efforts of you and other players will result in three-dimensional reconstructions of neurons like this. Playing the game does not require any specialized knowledge of neuroscience — just sharp eyes and practice. If you like, you can stop reading this page, and proceed to detailed instructions for the game here or simply start playing. On the other hand, if you’d like to know more about the scientific plan, read on.
Game 2: Identifying Synapses Reconstructing neurons involves tracing their branches, which are like the “wires” of the retina. This by itself is not enough for finding connectomes; we also need to identify synapses. This kind of image analysis will be accomplished through another game that will be introduced on this website in the near future. The identification of synapses will involve subtleties, due to limitations of the dataset, as will be discussed in detail later on.
Marilyn writes, "A part of its Giant Paper Airplane Project to get kids psyched about aviation and engineering, the Pima Air & Space Museum launched what may be the largest paper airplane (45-ft-long, 800 lbs, with a 24-ft wingspan) from a helicopter at 2,700 feet over the Arizona desert. It flew (glided actually) about 7 to 10 seconds before crashing. From the LA Times: ...The plane was constructed of layers of falcon board, which Vimmerstedt described as a type of corrugated cardboard, similar to a pizza box. The plane was designed and built in Lancaster by Art Thompson, who helped design the B-2 stealth bomber, but the design was based on a paper airplane folded by 12-year-old Tucson resident Arturo Valdenegro—winner of a paper airplane fly-off sponsored by the Pima Air & Space Museum in January. In a video interview with the museum on the day of the launch, Valdenegro said before the Great Paper Airplane Project he thought that he might pursue a career in engineering, but after meeting Thompson and seeing his plane realized in giant size, he now knows he’s going to be an engineer when he grows up..."
Wisevehicle sends us the Horto Domi Kickstarter project, "A wonderful project to create a raised bed growing system with open source electronics. The project pulls all the pieces of a great garden together and helps the user monitor and control them via a smart phone application." The Horto Domi founders are seeking the funds to perfect their project and publish it as an Open Source Hardware spec.
Horto domi is an open hardware raised-bed garden unit with environmental control and monitoring via web-interface thanks to Arduino Ethernet. DIY sensors, such as those collecting moisture and temperature data help monitor the environment within the dome and will eventually be used to automate conditions. The goal is to grow whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you are. Horto domi is Latin for ‘Garden at home.’ It's a statement to healthful food independence, a “neo-renaissance” tip of the hat to Arduino, and it sounds like horticultural dome. Particular consideration was taken in this prototype’s design to maximize the mineral and nutrient value of the beyond-organic produce and minimize environmental contamination risks.
This steampunk, papercraft wonderment comes from Phillip Valdez, who notes, "I do paper sculpture and have a soft spot for steampunk. All creations are made from Archival paper with book binding glue and acrylic paints."
Newly released documents shed light on the San Francisco edition of the CIA's notorious MK-ULTRA program (through which people were unwittingly given massive doses of LSD to see if the drug would be useful for brainwashing), which ran from 1953-1964. There's lots of detail about MK-ULTRA's work in NYC and Montreal, but the San Francisco operation has been shrouded in mystery. The newly declassified documents form the springboard for a good investigative piece in SF Weekly, in which Troy Hooper speaks to Wayne Ritchie, one of the survivors of MK-ULTRA's San Francisco operation.
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There were at least three CIA safe houses in the Bay Area where experiments went on. Chief among them was 225 Chestnut on Telegraph Hill, which operated from 1955 to 1965. The L-shaped apartment boasted sweeping waterfront views, and was just a short trip up the hill from North Beach's rowdy saloons. Inside, prostitutes paid by the government to lure clients to the apartment served up acid-laced cocktails to unsuspecting johns, while martini-swilling secret agents observed their every move from behind a two-way mirror. Recording devices were installed, some disguised as electrical outlets.
To get the guys in the mood, the walls were adorned with photographs of tortured women in bondage and provocative posters from French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The agents grew fascinated with the kinky sex games that played out between the johns and the hookers. The two-way mirror in the bedroom gave the agents a close-up view of all the action.
The main man behind the mirror was burly, balding crime-buster George H.
Under a pending proposal, the license-plate cameras at UK filling stations will soon begin to trigger automatic lookups of every motorist's insurance and tax records. Drivers whose insurance and tax records can't be located or verified will not be allowed to fill their tanks. This requires that the existing cameras, which are there to document drivers who don't pay for their gas, be connected to sensitive government databases filled with identifying personal information. Forensic cameras -- whose records are used after the fact to catch crooks -- don't need to be 100 percent accurate, since almost every plate they capture will not be involved in a crime, and ambiguous results can be resolved by a human backstop. But cameras that prevent you from getting something you need, like petrol, need to be 100 percent accurate, since it wouldn't do to let the person operating the cash-register override the judgment of the automated system.
TomAqMar sez, "'If you were garbage, you'd be home by now,' says Forbes contributor Michael Kanellos in this report about a Swedish co. that's already installed on part of Roosevelt Island a pneumatic system to whisk trash to the incinerator."
Envac installed one of its vacuum systems in an area on Roosevelt Island, a thin strip of land in the shadow of Manhattan, in the 1970s. (Envac installed one at Disney World at the same time. Now, plans are under consideration to extend the network to technology campuses being erected on the island by Cornell University and the Technion.
Envac is also studying the possibility of putting networks of trash tubes under the Coney Island boardwalk, in a new development being created by a major property company, and near the Chelsea district in Manhattan. The vacuum tubes would leverage some of the infrastructure of the High Line, an urban development created from an old elevated train platform. Yes, if it goes through, pedestrians will walk underneath trash-filled tubes.
“We can retrofit in dense urban areas so we don’t have to rip up the street,” said Rosina Abramson, who runs Envac’s U.S. operations.
I sent a character crawling through the Walt Disney World ENVAC at the end of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
Mitch Wagner sez, "uGrokIt lets people attach RFID tags to their stuff, locate it with a device that attaches to a smartphone, just like in Cory's Makers." The Geiger counter-style audio cues are a nice touch, and I like the salaryman who uses the gizmo to remind him that he's left his phone-charger under one of those pointless stand-up cards next to the nearly pointless land-line phone in his hotel room.