The coolest portable record players in the world

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Fumihito Taguchi's fantastic collection of vintage portable record players, including the wonderful specimens seen here, will be on display at Tokyo's Lifestyle Design Center from July 30 to August 28. See more at this Fashion Press post and in Taguchi's book "Japanese Portable Record Player Catalog," available in the US from my favorite vinyl soulslingers Dusty Groove. (via #vinyloftheday)

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How floppy discs worked

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The 8-Bit Guy's 15-minute explainer on floppy discs is a great potted history of 80s- and 90s-era storage media (it follows his segment on tape-drives) and the way that competitors learned from each others' mistakes and dead-ends, and engineered clever solutions to one of computing's most serious challenges. (via Motherboard) Read the rest

Beautiful artwork plays the UNIX timestamp on cymbals

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Mexico City-based artist Pablo Dávila's "Living in time believing in the timeless" is a beautiful, compelling installation in which the UNIX timestamp triggers drumsticks, via an Arduino and custom code, to ping crotales (aka antique cymbals). It makes the ephemeral (and digital) visceral. The work is simultaneously jarring and meditative, a rather odd and provocative state to maintain.

"As each second of UNIX code is inherently unique, the drumming pattern of 'Living in time believing in the timeless' never repeats," Dávila says. "The UNIX timestamp will end on the year 2038, and the sculpture will die with it – a conflation of past-future time."

Dávila's work -- from light installations to kinetic sculpture -- lies at the intersection of science, technology, and wonder. You can experience his first solo exhibition in the United States, including "Living in time...," at San Francisco's CULT Gallery through next week. The show, curated by Aimee Friberg and featuring Dávila's magnificent works inspired by the thinking of Marshall McLuhan, Tibetan Buddhist/yogi Milrepa, and minimalist composer Steve Reich, is titled "Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space."

"Light rays manifest themselves in a way in which our brain must process what is captured by our eyes for us to comprehend what we are seeing," Dávila says. "I believe we are disoriented in our comprehension and perception of time and space, I am attracted to particular objects that confront this deception and speak to me to me with distinct speeds, aesthetics and spaces."

PABLO DÁVILA, Ad libitum (piano phase), 2016, Print on cotton paper, aluminum frame, LED’s, 35 x 158 x 6 cm, 13.75 x 62 x 2.5 in (Triptych), Edition of 2 + 1 AP:

PABLO DÁVILA, Constant (phase), 2016, Video projection on canvas, 175 x 175 x 5 cm, 69 x 69 x 2 in, Edition of 2 + 1 AP:

PABLO DÁVILA, Living in time believing in the timeless, 2016, Drumsticks and custom electronics, 85 x 147 x 13 cm, 33.25 x 58 x 5 in:

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What if school was out, forever?

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Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | Reddit

In this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially intelligent TA, folks who build learning apps, and critics who wonder if all the promises being made are too good to be true. What do we gain when we let students choose their own paths? What do we lose when we get rid of schools?

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

This tiny camera can be injected with a syringe

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University of Stuttgart researchers used 3D printing to fabricate a tiny three-lens camera that fits on the end of an optical fiber no wider than two human hairs. Eventually, the technology could lead to a new kind of very thin endoscope for looking inside the human body. According to the researchers, the camera delivered "high optical performances and tremendous compactness." From Phys.org:

(The camera) can focus on images from a distance of 3.0 mm, and relay them over the length of a 1.7-metre (5.6-foot) optical fibre to which it is attached.

The "imaging system" fits comfortably inside a standard syringe needle, said the team, allowing for delivery into a human organ, or even the brain.

"Endoscopic applications will allow for non-invasive and non-destructive examination of small objects in the medical as well as the industrial sector," they wrote (in their scientific paper).

Below, the lens (blue) was fabricated directly on the optical fiber (red). The fiber and camera are emerging from a hollow, 27 gauge syringe needle:

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White House issues report on President Obama's impact on science and tech

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In 2009, President Obama pledged to "restore science to its rightful place." He said, "We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level achieved at the height of the space race, through policies that invest in basic and applied research, create new incentives for private innovation, promote breakthroughs in energy and medicine, and improve education in math and science."

Today, the White House released an Impact Report listing 100 things that Obama has made happen with the support of many people across research, policy, education, and, yes, maker culture. Here's the full Impact Report. A few examples from the list:

• Prioritized and encouraged broad participation in STEM education. The President’s Educate to Innovate campaign, launched in November 2009, has resulted in more than $1 billion in private investment to improve K-12 STEM education. The Nation is on track to meet the President’s January 2011 State of the Union goal to put 100,000 additional excellent STEM teachers in America’s classrooms by 2021. The President has helped showcase to students—including through events such as the White House Science Fair—that science, math, engineering, and computer programming are deeply compelling subjects that can help solve problems locally and globally.

• Fostered a nation of makers. The President hosted the first-ever White House Maker Faire; highlighted the growing importance of additive manufacturing by being the first President to be 3D scanned for his Presidential bust; and led a call to action resulting in commitments to create more than 1,000 maker spaces around the country.

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These bizarre vintage hair-dryers will blow your mind, and your tresses

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When I was little, my mother had a 1960s sit-under hair dryer with a huge translucent plastic hood that I'd imagine was a variation on a Star Trek Transporter. But that hulking machine had nothing on these vintage hair dryers from the first part of the 20th century. These would have provided me with years of science fiction fantasies and nightmares. See more at Dangerous Minds.

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Pentagon's nuclear missile system is run on 1970s floppy disk tech

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In a new report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reveals that the "Department of Defense uses 8- inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces." That floppy format was developed in the late 1960s and was obsolete by the 1980s. I wonder if the DoD saves a few bucks by using a hole punch to make them double sided.

According to the GAO report, "The agency plans to update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017."

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems (PDF) Read the rest

Technology's "culture of compliance" must be beaten back in the name of justice

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In 1989, Canadian activist, engineer and thinker Ursula Franklin gave a series of extraordinary lectures on the politics of technology design and deployment called "The Real World of Technology." Read the rest

Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus gets $92 million severance after 2.5 years on the job

Robert Marcus, outgoing Time Warner Cable CEO [Reuters]
The sale of Time Warner Cable to Charter Communications is completed today, and former TWC customers (including me) can probably look forward to a whole new era of crappy service, Netflix throttling, and horrible customer service experiences under our new broadband overlords.

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How much is your ISP ripping you off? New Netflix speed test tool can answer that.

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Streaming video service Netflix today launched Fast.com, which shows you your internet connections in megabits per second. You can use it on your mobile or over your home broadband connection, and it doesn't require a Netflix account.

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Magical ring turns your arm into a track pad

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Carnegie Mellon University researchers developed a system that turns your arm into a trackpad. Video demo above. From their scientific paper:

It consists of a ring, which emits a continuous high frequency AC signal, and a sensing wristband with multiple electrodes. Due to the phase delay inherent in a high-frequency AC signal propagating through the body, a phase difference can be observed between pairs of electrodes. SkinTrack measures these phase differences to compute a 2D finger touch coordinate.

SkinTrack: Using the Body as an Electrical Waveguide for Continuous Finger Tracking on the Skin (PDF via Wired)

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UPDATED RIP Ray Tomlinson, email inventor and at-sign popularizer

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UPDATE This is a couple months old -- I read "Mar 5" as "May 5." My apologies.

Ray Tomlinson created the first networked email system in 1971 while working on his MIT doctorate and collaborating on the early ARPAnet at BBN; he used @ -- the at symbol -- to separate the username from the machinename because "it did not appear in user names and did not have any meaning in the TENEX paging program." Read the rest

A 15-year-old's new Apple museum

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Alex Jason, 15, used his lawnmowing money to acquire what Cult of Mac says "is becoming one of the most significant private collections of Apple devices in the United States." Jason converted his family's basement into a museum, called the Apple Orchard, and in a couple years he plans to move it into a former library that he and his father plan to convert into the Maine Technology Museum. From Cult of Mac:

His collection includes every big Apple computer model except a rare Lisa 1. He has early portable computers, prototypes of Powerbooks, a green-plastic prototype of a Color Classic and Japanese models of early Macs. The orchard also includes Apple’s failures while Jobs was in exile as well as a computer from the company he started after, NeXT.

Alex showed off his Apple 1 (only around 170 sold and about 60 have surfaced), its keyboard adapted to a briefcase, which provided protection and may explain why all the original chips still work. The original owner, according to a story passed onto Alex, supposedly went to an IBM conference with his briefcase, opened it up and began typing. When curious conference-goers asked what he was doing, he said, “I’m typing on my personal computer.”

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This high-flying, jet-powered hoverboard is real

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On Saturday, Franky Zapata took his prototype Flyboard Air hoverboard for a rather impressive flight, three miles on the French coast. It's based on Zapata's previous water-powered hoverboard.

When the first short flight video went up last month, The Verge interviewed Zapata:

So there’s three parts to this, right? The board, a fuel tank, and a remote?

Franky Zapata: Yes, the thing I have on my back is like a Camelbak but it’s full of kerosene. Jet A1 (fuel). The thing I have on my back is like a Camelbak but it’s full of kerosene....

We've been working on it for four years. We tried to figure it out that by using the original Flyboard and just pushing air inside the hose. After that, we took two years to create the great turboreactors, and to create the algorithms to stabilize the Flyboard....

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Photo compares portable Mac from 25 years ago to one today

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On the left: a Colby Walkmac, "the first battery-operated Macintosh computer and first portable Mac with a LCD display."

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Fantastic radio show about virtual reality, c. 1992

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Media artist Michael Naimark writes:

In 1990, right as the first VR wave was swelling, Stewart Brand and Grateful Dead manager Jon Mcintyre concocted a scheme to produce an invitation-only 24-hour VR event modeled after the Electric Cool-Aid Acid test. They convinced Colossal Pictures, the largest soundstage in San Francisco, to host it. Dozens of demos and scores of talks were presented, by far the largest and most prominent VR event of its kind. I directed the video production. In total, 66 hours of video, both from a pro crew and a “basket full of prosumer cameras”, was shot.

Shortly after the event, David (Lawrence), Jim (McKee), and Earwax received an NEA grant to make a radio show. The funding enabled all of the video to be logged and transcribed. From it they made several versions, organized in short 1-4 minute themed sections. Their style was very “pre RadioLab”. From the New American Radio website:

Virtual Paradise—The Reality Tape (1992-93)

Earwax Productions with David Lawrence. An exciting production created in the spirit of the technology it focuses on. Virtual Paradise examines the ideas, issues, and attitudes that currently surround virtual reality. As this technology evolves, it brings with it the potential for redefining our most basic assumptions about media, experience, and reality. Virtual Paradise features many voices recorded at Cyberthon, a 24-hour virtual reality event presented by Whole Earth Institute in 1990. It also includes interviews with such visionaries as science-fiction author William Gibson, VR architect Jaron Lanier, artificial reality pioneer Myron Krueger, and Timothy Leary—all intercut with music and sound effects and shaped into a highly entertaining and insightful "virtual" tape composition.

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