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There's a painted woman in this moth

Paul Roustan is an incredible body-painter who produces brilliant optical illusions. In this video, he shows how he's painted a model to blend seamlessly into this image of a pandora sphinx moth; when she emerges from the still, it's a pure mind-blower. This (NSFW) gallery of his work shows off his incredible versatility and virtuosity.

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Animation: How Google views user privacy

Mark from Screen Novelties sends us "This little animation we did for Google regarding user privacy. We happened to direct this at the same time the whole Snowden/NSA stuff went down last year. Google finally decided to release this to the public a few days ago. Just wanted to share. It's done in stop motion to give the feeling of the old school board games."

Way of a Warrant

Hacker Hymn [Jasmina Tesanovic]

Recently I saw a movie on the life and death of Aaron Swartz, who is nowadays often called a martyr for the freedom of the Internet.

People, nations and governments like martyrs. They love them, they need them. Martyrs are part of our bipolar, black and white society constructed from good and bad guys, who always do good and bad deeds. Martyrs are those who have escaped our human condition, of being judged by people as people. Martyrs are beyond judgement, they become the scapegoats for our biggest failures, for the banality of evil, as Hannah Arendt phrased it.

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Text adventure based on Jeff VanderMeer's novel Annihilation

Jeff VenderMeer writes, "The Fourth Estate, my UK publisher, has put together a cool site that takes the main premise of my novel, Annihilation, and creates a text game around with, with images and video as well. Now you too can join an expedition into the mysterious Area X, supposedly a pristine wilderness, but hiding a lot more than that. Overseen by the secret agency, the Southern Reach, which has its own secrets to hide."

Previously: Talking with Jeff VanderMeer about his new novel Annihilation

Making pancakes with the amazing Nathan Shields and his awesomely cute kids

The amazing pancake artist Nathan Shields (previously, previously) has launched a video-series in which he makes pancakes with his adorable kids, Gryphon and Alice. Part three, out today, is jaw-dropping and hunger-inspiring! Parts one and two (below) are great introductions to advanced pancaking, and part two features a pancake portrait of Paul Erdos!

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Arduino-powered Etch-a-Sketch clock

Dodgey99 built an Arduino-powered Etch-a-Sketch clock, in which a pair of stepper motors painstakingly draw out the current time. It's got a very low refresh rate, though: the limits of the motors and the Etch-a-Sketch means that it takes more than a minute to display the time, and it needs a couple of minutes' rest between each number. There's a plan to accelerate things with some beefier motors.

I use an Arduino driving two very cheap darlington stepper drivers with 64:1 internally reduced steppers for the drawing. For the rotation I'm using an Easy-Driver driving a Nema 17 stepper.

I also have a DS1307RTC real time clock installed so it always knows the time. Setting the time is a one-off via USB connected to a PC. Once done, you un-tether, and then the RTC keeps the time, for up to a year on the rechargeable battery, or so I'm told...

The code is actually very simple, it's just a pain drawing the numbers!

The G clamp on the back is for a counter balance until I find something more elegant!

The steppers are far too slow to write the time in under a minute so I delay it for a couple of mins between each draw. Mostly to give the very hot motors a while to cool off and to give the etch a sketch a break!

Etch a Sketch clock powered by Arduino (via JWZ)

Crowdfunding money to finish animated film about Alice in Wonderland on a Toronto streetcar

A reader writes, "Lewis Carroll's Alice takes an eventful trip on a streetcar in contemporary Toronto in this short stop-motion animated video. The character of Alice from Lewis Carroll's famous children's novels is transported to contemporary Toronto where, like many native Torontonians, she takes a ride on the streetcar. As with many trips on the public transit, she encounters a succession of strange characters who engage her in (equally strange) conversations. The dialogue is borrowed directly from Through the Looking-Glass, but given a fresh & funny new twist in this stop-motion animation. Jennifer Linton is trying to raise funds for sound recording to an already visually complete project."

Linton's work is very beautiful, and she's looking to raise a very modest sum to finish a movie that looks just great. It's a pity that there isn't a low reward level that gets you online access to the finished short, though -- this would be a cheap reward for Linton to deliver and would let the movie's patrons see what they've funded ($25 gets you a Blu-Ray disc of all of Linton's work).

Update: She's added a private Vimeo link to watch the movie as a $10 perk!

Toronto Alice

Kickstarting board games adapted for blind people

Emily sez, "Working in the blindness field, my husband, Richard and I have many blind friends. We are gamers at heart and have always been dismayed that our friends couldn't play our favorite games. When Richard began pursuing game publishing our first inclination was to make all games blind accessible. However, this proved to be nigh on impossible. We discovered if we wanted our games to be accessible, we had to make accessible games ourselves."

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Stage adaptation of Tim Powers' Anubis Gates at this summer's Worldcon

Tim Powers' outstanding fantasy novel The Anubis Gates has been adapted for the stage and it will premiere at Loncon 3, this summer's World Science Fiction Convention. I've been excited as hell about having a Worldcon in town, but this is some awfully nice icing on the cake!

The Anubis Gates (via IO9)

Danish travel company offers "ovulation discount" for couples, rewards if you conceive on holiday

Spies Travels, a Danish travel agency, have conceived of a promotion to help reverse Denmark's plummeting birthrate. They're offering a discount for couples who travel during one partner's ovulation period, and if you can subsequently prove that you conceived a child on the trip, they'll give you three years' worth of baby-stuff and a family holiday.

Do it for Denmark! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Kickstarting Lifeform: a fun, educational game about evolution

Michael writes, "I'm launching a Kickstarter campaign for a new game founded in the basics of genetics and physics. You're a cell in a 2d underwater universe, and you must reproduce to gain traits that dictate what you can do. Resources found around the map can be used to construct machines and tools to aide in your evolution. Not only is Lifeform the genetics game we've long been searching for, but it's going to be extremely powerful in classrooms all across the world. Science teachers can use it for genetics lessons, physics, studying the elements, and much more."

This looks really cool (and the prototype is great)! One caveat is that Michael's development projects are pretty thinly detailed, though it sounds like he's had some relevant experience, and the prototype bodes well for the project's future. As with all Kickstarters, you might get nothing for your money! A $15 minimum contribution gets you a copy of the game when and if.

Lifeform: A game of genetic and biomechanical evolution (Thanks, Michael!)

Vietnamese swimmers ferry passengers across flooded rivers in plastic bags

When remote areas of Vietnam are flooded out, entrepreneurial swimmers set up informal ferries in which passengers climb into sturdy plastic bags and are then swum across the river against the current. The Vietnamese explanation accompanying the video is beyond Google Translate, but I'd love it if anyone out there could help flesh this out, because it's pretty amazing. (via Kottke)

Michigan's Penguicon will focus on crypto and privacy this year

Scott sez, "Privacy and security has been a huge problem since the Snowden revelations, and midwest SF/open source software convention Penguicon [ed: near Detroit!] wants to be part of the solution. With Guest of Honor Eva Galperin from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Cory Doctorow returning as Guest Emeritus, much of their tech track is focused on finding answers to the recent privacy problems highlighted by Snowden. Pre-registration tickets are available until April 1st. Programming was just announced." (Thanks, Scott!)

HOWTO make a chattering-teeth tooth-brushing timer

Here's a Make HOWTO for converting a set of wind-up novelty chattering teeth to an electronic tooth-brushing timer and toothbrush holder -- take your toothbrush out, start it running, and the teeth will chatter for two minutes (the recommended brushing time).

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Talking YA, dystopia and science fiction with William Campbell Powell

William Campbell Powell is a new young adult author whose debut novel, Expiration Day due out on April 1. Powell's book was bought out of the "slush pile" -- the pile of unsolicited manuscripts that arrive at publishers by the truckload - at Tor Books and I read it a year ago to give it a jacket quote, and really enjoyed it.

Powell came by my office a couple weeks ago to talk about the book, and we had a great chat that's been mixed down to a smart seven minutes. I hope you enjoy this -- and look for my review of Expiration Day on April 1. Here's a bit of it:

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