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 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 (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.
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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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A group of some of the most powerful technology companies on the planet have formed a partnership on artificial intelligence.
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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
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
Human biases exposed by Implicit Association Tests can be replicated in machine learning using GloVe word embedding, according to a new study where GloVe was trained on "a corpus of text from the Web." Read the rest
Hey, it's your ol' pal Joel! Used to write a gadget blog that wasn't about gadgets? Man, great to see you. No, no, have a seat. Can we get a couple of...yeah, no ice, thanks.
So let's get business out of the way before we eat: One of my clients is launching a Kickstarter today and I hope you'll check it out.
(I have clients now! I started a company. It isn't a media company or even a gadget blog. Just a regular, ol' fashioned intragalactic-HUMINT-and-covert-ops-themed strategic comms company, where people hire me to help them solve problems. I like it.)
The Kickstarter is set at $500k, which is a lot of money; it's also how much is needed to build a dedicated printing facility under one roof that can provide 20 museum-quality, ad-supported prints to tens of thousands of customers for free each month. That's what they need to increase production, in both volume and speed. Bear in mind this is a company that took an initial $160k Kickstarter success and 1) made a functional iPhone app 2) established a printing process that exceeds all other consumer printing quality, and 3) spun up production that is putting out 80-100k prints a month. There were many pitfalls along the way—screwed up batches of prints that had to be reprinted before delivery, equipment that was promised that didn't work, greater-than-expected software delays—but they didn't walk away from it. They pushed through it and have built a company. They've got major advertisers lined up to start sponsoring prints. Read the rest
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it's drama you crave, but the Hillary v. Trump show is driving you to near-suicide, then the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire is your new best friend. Returning for its third season on Tuesday, August 23rd with a two-hour premiere, you'll still get your fix of intriguing plot twists, flawed personalities, and high stakes, but without the partisan tantrums and pre-apocalyptic anxiety.
What the Hell is this Show About?
The show's title refers to the computing term (HCF), "Halt and Catch Fire," an early technical command that sends a computer into race condition, forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once. Control of the computer could not be regained. The namesake series takes place in the personal computing boom of the 80s, when IBM was dictator, and before "website" was a word. Though HCF is categorized as a "workplace drama," you could say the same thing about Breaking Bad, and you'd be completely missing the point--and the thrill--of both shows.
To "break bad" is a colloquialism used in the American South meaning to challenge authority. Breaking Bad and HCF have three important things in common: obscure, nondescript titles that run the risk of losing potential viewers who need their plot summaries spoon-fed and hashtagged, a committed, forward-thinking home on AMC Networks, and the consistently visionary TV producer Melissa Bernstein. Read the rest
For more than a decade, University of Southern California neuro-engineer Theodore Berger has been working on an artificial hippocampus, an electronic aid for the part of the brain that scientists believe
encodes experiences as long-term memories. Now Berger and a new startup called Kernel are confident that the device is ready for prime time.
"We’re testing it in humans now, and getting good initial results,” Berger told IEEE Spectrum. “We’re going to go forward with the goal of commercializing this prosthesis.”
In Berger’s approach, electrodes in the hippocampus first record electrical signals from certain neurons as they learn something new and encode the memory. These electrical signals are the result of neurons “firing” in specific patterns. Berger studied how electrical signals associated with learning are translated into signals associated with storing that information in long-term memory. Then his lab built mathematical models that take any input (learning) signal, and produce the proper output (memory) signal.
An implant could help someone whose hippocampus doesn't properly turn information into memories.
An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory.
For people who have difficulty forming lasting memories on their own, the prosthetic would provide a boost. “We take these memory codes, enhance them, and put them back into the brain,” Berger says. “If we can do that consistently, then we’ll be ready to go.”
"New Startup Aims to Commercialize a Brain Prosthetic to Improve Memory" (IEEE Spectrum) Read the rest
Chipmaking is a relentless competition to make transistors smaller and smaller. Such refined technology is as inscrutable to users as angels dancing on the head of a few hundred copper pins, so James Newman set out to make a working CPU whose every connection can be explored and understood by students.
"Like all modern processors the Megaprocessor is built from transistors," he writes. "It's just that instead of using teeny-weeny ones integrated on a silicon chip it uses discrete individual ones... Thousands of them. And loads of LEDs."
The resulting machine took two years to construct and recalls the earliest room-filling electronic computers, with banks of blinking lights and ropes of cable linking each refridgerator-sized peripheral. But this time, it's by choice rather than limitation: with a light on every connection, you can see the logic and movement of data through the chip in person.
Ten meters wide and 2 meters tall, the 16-bit Megaprocessor is deliberately simple and slow. Clocked at 20kHz, it could feel at home in an airport-sized Commodore Amiga or classic Mac, though it's not quite as complicated as the Motorola 68000 that inspired it.
There's already software to play with, though, including a rough implementation of Tetris. You can download an emulator to get started on making your own.
"I didn't plan on ending up here. I started by wanting to learn about transistors," Newman writes. "Things got out of hand.
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MIT and Microsoft researchers demonstrated a system of gold leaf temporary tattoos for "on-skin user interfaces" including a touch sensor, near field communication antennae, and a low-res thermochromic display that changes color. From the research description:
DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create
on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. DuoSkin devices enable users to
control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on
their skin while serving as a statement of personal style. We believe that in the
future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; instead,
they will converge towards the user friendliness, extensibility, and
aesthetics of body decorations, forming a DuoSkin integrated to the extent that
it has seemingly disappeared.
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Facebook is at war with users who block ads, and battle proceeds apace. Just two days after boasting that it could serve ads that were undetectable by adblockers, Facebook got a rude awakening in the form of updates to AdBlock that detected them just fine. But it isn't giving up, and has already adjusted its code to once again circumvent the blocks.
A source close to Facebook tells me that today, possibly within hours, the company will push an update to its site’s code that will nullify Adblock Plus’ workaround. Apparently it took two days for Adblock Plus to come up with the workaround, and only a fraction of that time for Facebook to disable it.
Update: A source says Facebook is now rolling out the code update that will disable Adblock Plus’ workaround. It should reach all users soon.]
Still, the cat-and-mouse game is sure to rage on.
AdBlock is at a disadvantage due to Facebook's engineering resources and ability to update its site on-the-fly. That said, Facebook loses more money from each lost ad than AdBlock pays to remove it, which creates an asymmetrical fight. AdBlock is, of course, not a noble venture—it dominates the ad blocking market and whitelists ads from publishers that pay it protection money.
Adblockers generally distinguish ads from content by looking at how web pages are structured and where they come from. To those unfamiliar with HTML, web pages are a nest of boxes, each tagged as a <paragraph or a <division or an <articleor what-have-you, with each identified or classified so that other code can decide what it looks like, where it goes, or what content gets pasted into it as the page renders. Read the rest
Maker Evan Booth transformed a Keurig K350 coffeemaker into a "bionic" hand. As William Gibson once wrote, "the street finds its own uses for things."
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Most phones already come equipped with an Airplane Mode for flights, a Do Not Disturb mode for watching movies or ignoring people, and a Low Power mode for when your battery is about to die. But what happens when you’re in an emergency? Read the rest
Perry Rosen turned his passion for jukeboxes into a career. This man knows from motors, vacuum tubes, and turntables. If I had a jukebox, I'd ask Rosen if he could mod it to play with a punch to the chassis, Fonz style. Read the rest