This Wand Remote makes couch surfing magical again

Do you remember the first time you used a remote control on your television set or favorite toy? It was incredible right? I can honestly say that making my sister believe I had telekinetic powers was fantastic! But as I’ve accumulated more and more remote controls in my life, I’ve become jaded. 

And then, I got a package from The Wand Company that brought back my old feelings of wonder.

Do I care that my wife won’t touch it because it makes her feel silly? Of course not - it just means more magical gestures for me.  Now, to turn on my TV, I swipe the wand from vertical to horizontal position and to increase the volume, I simply point it at my receiver and twist.

The Kymera Wand has 13 slots into which infrared commands can be stored, and the beautiful thing is that it’ll control ANY infrared device. Right now, I’m only using 4 of the 13 slots and I can’t wait to fill the rest up.

PROSGreat packagingEasy to SetupMakes you feel like a wizardEveryone (except for my wife) loves it

CONSSometimes you need to repeat a flourish in order to send the proper signal to the target, but the same thing happens with my regular remotes.The wand is made of plastic and would feel much better if it was made out of mahogany and crystal - but then again, the price would be sky high.The Apple TV interface doesn’t lend itself well to the Kymera wand because there are so many flourishes needed to get from the home-screen to the episodes you want to watch. Read the rest

Rogue One: an "engineering ethics" case-study disguised as a Star Wars movie [SPOILERS]

In a society buffeted by technological change, the discipline of "engineering ethics" raises some of our most significant and difficult-to-answer questions: from last year's Moral Character of Cryptographic Work to the Neveragain.tech pledge not to enable trumpism's ethnic cleansing mission (a pledge in the tradition of the 1943 firebombing of the Amsterdam Municipal Register to keep it out of Nazi hands) to the war on general purpose computing, with its many tendrils, from 3D printed guns to creation of legal weapons at standards bodies -- and because science fiction reflects present-day social questions, we've now got a Star Wars movie that's all about "engineering ethics" (spoilers after the jump). Read the rest

Trump meets with tech leaders: Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Tesla, Intel

Photo: Donald Trump speaks as PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel (C) and Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook look on during a meeting with technology leaders at Trump Tower in New York U.S., December 14, 2016. REUTERS

With his children and Peter Thiel at his side, Predator-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday told Silicon Valley elites his regime will do "anything we can do" to help the same tech industry he mocked during his campaign.

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When tech leaders meet with Trump tomorrow, here's what they need to tell him

Execs representing the biggest tech companies in America are gathering for a meeting with Donald Trump tomorrow in New York; these companies have it in their power to spy on us, locate us, censor us, and terminally compromise the free and open internet. Read the rest

Space age stereo systems from last century

Over at the Vinyl Factory, Anton Spice shares a wonderful collection of 1960s and 1970s stereo systems designed for Space Age bachelor pads. Above, the classic Electrohome Apollo 711 (1970); below are a few more of my favorites. See more at: "The 15 most incredible Space Age record players" (VF)

Mega 3300 (1963):

Rosita Stereo Commander (1975):

Panasonic Audio Egg (1974):

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Hugo Gernsback's 1963 television eyeglasses anticipated virtual reality

This oft-seen wonderfully weird photo depicts Hugo Gernsback wearing his "teleyeglasses" in 1963. Gersnback, an inventor of such innovations as a combination electric hair brush/comb and a battery-powered handheld illuminated mirror, is best known to science fiction fans as the founder of Amazing Stories magazine! Gernsback coined the term "science fiction" and the Hugo Awards are named in his honor. But back to the history of his teleyeglasses, as discussed in IEEE Spectrum:

A Life magazine profile of Gernsback in July 1963, when he was 78, described his “teleyeglasses”:

He now invents only in broad outline, leaving the actual mechanics of the thing to others. His television eyeglasses—a device for which he feels millions yearn—constitute a case in point. When the idea for this handy, pocket-size portable TV set occurred to him in 1936, he was forced to dismiss it as impractical. But a few weeks ago, feeling that the electronics industry was catching up with his New Deal-era concepts, he orders some of his employees to build a mock-up.

The teleyeglasses weighed about 140 grams and were built around small cathode-ray tubes that ran on low-voltage current from tiny batteries. (The user faced no danger of being electrocuted, Gernsback promised.) Because there was a separate screen for each eye, it could display stereoscopic images—much like today’s 3D virtual-reality glasses. Noting the massive V-type antenna protruding from the teleyeglasses, Life described the effect as “neo-Martian.”

"The Man Who Invented VR Goggles 50 Years Too Soon" (IEEE Spectrum) Read the rest

Yes, humans are capable of creating a happy and successful liberal society: The Netherlands

As U.S. headlines bombard us with proof of how low humanity can go, here's a look at a happy, peaceful, and prosperous country -- The Netherlands -- to remind us that it is actually possible for the human race to get it right. If people want to change present circumstances through liberal ideals, it's helpful to look at a liberal, politically stable country with a strong and open economy. Also known as Holland, the country does not have the same history and culture that creates the inherent social and economic problems in the U.S., but it is clearly moving in the right direction -- forward.

It's a great destination for liberal ex-patriates looking for a place to live and work -- especially in the tech sector -- that already has its shit together, in case you really are now considering moving out of the country. Staying or going, it makes sense to see what a liberal society looks like and how it works. 

We've compiled a list of facts about The Netherlands to show you what humans can do when they're not fighting en masse on Twitter:

The Dutch government plans to ban the sales of petrol and diesel-powered cars in 2025Healthiest country in the world for dietKeeps closing prisons due to a lack of prisonersFirst to legalize same-sex marriageHighest concentration of museums in the worldHighest English-proficiency in the world where it is not first languageHighest population density in EuropeHome to more bikes than peopleCycling in the Netherlands is the safest in the worldAmsterdam’s Schiphol airport offers more direct flights than any airport in the world83 percent of the population live in urban areas but there are few high risesLargely secular country: up to 40 percent of Dutch say they have no religion, 30 percent are Catholic, and 20 percent are Protestant. Read the rest

In 100 years, we'll remember technology's transformation and Trump will be long forgotten

Steven "Hackers" Levy has a long view of Trump: as radical as he is, he's only a drop in the bucket compared to the political and social changes wrought by technology: "Who was king during the industrial revolution in England? The quirks and flaws of government leaders are not relevant information when studying the enlightenment. In the long run, the Galileos and James Watts of the world have even more influence than the Napoleons." Read the rest

Brain implant allows paralyzed monkey to walk

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have developed a neuroprosthetic interface that creates a wireless link between the brain and the spine. In a recent experiment, they used it to enable a paralyzed monkey to walk.

Via Healthglu:

The brain-spine interface overcomes a damaged connection by bridging the spinal cord injury — and it does so in real-time and via wireless technology. The neuroprosthetic device implanted in the monkey’s brain correctly interprets activity generated by the motor cortex, and relays this information to a system of electrodes placed over the surface of the spinal cord, just below the injury. A burst of just a few volts, delivered at the right location, triggers specific muscles in the legs. Monkeys implanted with the device were able to walk within six days of the spinal cord injury.

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What does it mean to be human in an age of machines?

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In his 1854 book, Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Men have become the tools of their tools.” Thoreau’s assertion is as valid today as it was when he made it over one hundred and sixty years ago. Whenever we shape technology, it shapes us, both as individuals and as a society. We created cars, and cars turned us into motorists, auto mechanics, and commuters.

Over the centuries we’ve populated our world with machines that help us do things we can’t or don’t want to do ourselves. Our world has become so saturated with machines that they’ve faded into the background. We hardly notice them. We are reaching a new threshold. Our machines are getting networked, and enabling new forms of human machine symbiosis. We’re entering a new era where fifty billion machines are in constant communication, automating and orchestrating the movement and interactions among individuals, organizations, and cities.

Institute for the Future (IFTF) is a non-profit think tank in Silicon Valley, that helps organizations and the public think about long term future plans to make better decisions in the present. Mark Frauenfelder, a research director at IFTF interviewed Rod Falcon, IFTF’s Director of the Technology Horizons Program, which combines a deep understanding of technology and societal forces, to identify and evaluate these discontinuities and innovations in the near future. Rod discussed Tech Horizon’s recent research into how machine automation is becoming an integrated, embedded, and ultimately invisible part of virtually every aspect of our lives. Read the rest

Technology stock photos from the 1990s

Whisk yourself back to the days of bulky devices, outmoded physical media, and painfully obvious visual puns with these 1990s high-tech stock photos. Literal surfing and literal webs! Large format high resolution only $399 on some stock sites! Read the rest

Anarchic Adjustment: pioneering street culture brand revived at L.A. art show

Anarchic Adjustment was a pioneering streetwear brand and artist collective that emerged from the London punk-skate-BMX-Xerox art scene in the mid-1980s and spread like a virus when founder Nick Philip moved to San Francisco and immersed himself in the early cyberculture. Immediately, Anarchic Adjustment became the clothier-of-choice for the likes of DJ Mixmaster Morris, Joi Ito (now director of MIT Media Lab), Timothy Leary, and countless rave kids and guerrilla art punks. Those were the daze.

Now though, Philip, who in the last decade became best known for his Imaginary Foundation line, has announced an Anarchic Adjustment revival in the form of a sculpture show opening October 20 at Los Angeles's Seventh Letter Gallery. The highly-anticipated exhibition of new work is titled "The Future is not what is used to be."

"It's an uncompromising satire of mass distraction, narcissism and the hidden machine lurking in plain sight," Philip says.

He says that the sculpture above, titled "Little Brother" and inspired by Cory Doctorow's novel, is an observation of "the feedback loop of surveillance, transparency, and a culture entirely preoccupied with its selfie." Below, two of my other favorite works from the show -- "Shackled Connectivity" and "I did it for the lulz."

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Joi Ito interviews Barack Obama for Wired: machine learning, neurodiversity, basic research and Star Trek

Joi Ito (previously) -- director of MIT Media Lab, former Creative Commons chief, investor, entrepreneur, and happy mutant -- interviewed Barack Obama for a special, Obama-edited issue of Wired. Read the rest

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell's new virtual reality startup

Modal VR, the new stealth startup co-founded by Atari and Chuck E. Cheese creator, has opened the doors a crack. According to Bushnell, their portable VR system is built for business applications (even though the demo video shows, you guessed it, a game). “We want to help enterprises solve problems by looking at them from another point of view," Bushnell said.

“For those of us who grew up on “Star Trek,” the holodeck has always been the gold standard," he said. “Modal VR is the first time that I believe we actually have the holodeck.”

"Nolan Bushnell’s Modal VR launches next-generation virtual reality platform for enterprises" (VentureBeat)

"Nolan Bushnell Says His New Virtual Reality Startup Has the Keys to the Holodeck—and it’s Portable" (IEEE Spectrum)

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Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft join forces to protect humans from robots

A group of some of the most powerful technology companies on the planet have formed a partnership on artificial intelligence.

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100% CGI versions of 80s tech and toys

Mike Campau recreated Generation Gap, a CGI series of some of the most iconic items from 1980s childhoods, each one lit with gorgeous multi-hued gradients. Read the rest

Our little technology rituals don't do anything--or do they?

At Vice, Leigh Alexander (recently at Boing Boing) writes about the superstitious rituals we all practice when it comes to technology. We do it whether we are conscious of the ritual or not, and we do it even when we are informed the ritual is harmful to the machines.

...blowing on cartridges may have actually caused more problems than it solved. But because collectively our anecdotal experiences had led us to believe that blowing had some positive effect—it seemed to work, even if it took an unpredictable number of puffs, amid all kinds of other unknown factors—we established a ritual. Our belief that blowing on cartridges does something is stronger even than evidence to the contrary.

Closing background apps on your iphone, wiggling accellerometers, tilting game controllers, double-tapping touchscreen icons, and rebooting slow computers: all modern equivalents to the ol' Nintendo Blow. But something has changed: now the designers of the technology can adapt to and integrate our rituals into how technology works. And once it's there, the technology can demand it. Read the rest

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