A free/open computer on a card that you swap in and out of a 3D printed laptop

Lou Cabron writes, "Finally, after five years of work, Rhombus Tech has gone from a free/libre/open source "spec" to their first actual modular devices! The video is amazing. Read the rest

After repeated budget cuts, Missouri's underfunded Public Defender drafts the Governor to work for him

Brother Phil writes, "The Public Defender's Office in Missouri is chronically underfunded by a governor who can always find money for his pet projects. However, they do have the power to draft any lawyer to serve as the defense in a case if they don't have one spare.Guess who just happens to be a lawyer..." Read the rest

Elaborate DIY parking spot

Kudos to this guy for all the work he had to do to come up with a way to park his car. He is stuck with the particular car model for life, though, because it fits like a glove. Read the rest

This titanium-infused quartz crystal is totally mesmerizing

“It's a mineral, Marie!” Read the rest

British Muslim detained for reading a book about Syria while on a plane

A British woman of Muslim descent was detained and questioned by police under terror laws after a flight crew member noticed she was reading a book about Syrian art while flying to Turkey.

The Thomson Airways attendant reported her for “suspicious behavior,” which amounted to reading a book.

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Watch GOP strategist Liz Mair call Trump a "loudmouthed dick" on live TV

THIS is CNN. (Thanks, UPSO!)

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International Olympic Committee bans GIFs

They've "expressly prohibited" turning anything from the Olympics into "animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines." Read the rest

Airbus designed and 3D printed a motorbike inspired by a skeleton

Aerospace corporation Airbus's Light Rider concept motorbike looks a bit like something HR Giger would draw (although his, of course, would be much cooler). In reality, the 3D-printed frame was inspired by skeletal structures that enable its bare-metal frame to weigh just 13 pounds but support a 220 pound rider. From the BBC News:

To design the bike's frame and swingarm rear section, (Airbus's) APWorks team collaborated with Altair Engineering, a US-based consulting company whose structural-design software works through the principle of "morphogenesis" — which in biology refers to process of environmental forces defining a natural organism's form and structure. Morphorgenetic software is written to create forms that achieve maximum strength with minimal mass, and Altair's system has contributed to the designs of such boundary-pushing machines as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Volvo Ocean 70 racing yacht, and the jet-powered Bloodhound SSC, which next year will attempt to break the land speed record...

The 3D-printing process employed to produce the Light Rider's frame is a marvel unto itself. The system uses a laser to melt powdered aluminium alloy in thousands of layers, each only 60 microns thick — about the width of a human hair. Airbus Group Innovations, the company’s research arm, developed the frame's aircraft-grade alloy, called Scalmalloy, which it claims matches the specific strength of titanium. The fabrication process — and the strength of the material — allows the morphogenetic software to specify finer and thinner structures than traditional tooling or moulding methods of manufacturing can produce. In fact, notes Gruenewald, the Light Rider’s frame even features hollow branches that hide cables and other components.

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Building Stories – Chris Ware's magnum opus includes 14 lavishly presented stories in different formats, all in one box

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Building Stories by Chris Ware Pantheon 2012, 260 pages, 11.7 x 16.6 x 1.9 inches (hardcover, softcovers, boxed) $31 Buy a copy on Amazon

Chris Ware is renowned as the kind of comic artist who makes you expect more from the genre. For nearly three decades, his unfussy, formalized style has given birth to cult strips such as Rusty Brown and Quimby The MouseM. Despite his style being modeled after the simplicity of Tintin in order to express emotion in as universal a way as possible, his style is a vehicle for the minutiae of human struggle. Building Stories is no different.

Largely comprised of strips previously published in national newspapers, but also featuring unreleased material, Building Stories is Ware's magnum opus – 14 lavishly presented stories in one beautifully designed box, itself adorned with extra strips and illustrations. The separation of the stories into physically distinct objects is intended to allow the reader to acquaint themselves with the characters in any order they choose.

Revolving around the lives of the inhabitants of an apartment block in Chicago, his pet themes of social alienation, excessive rumination and the pervasive feeling of being railroaded by mundanity are all present and correct. A number of archetypes populate the building – the lonely old lady, the bickering couple, the single young woman, but Ware imbues each with its own identity.

Arguably the most prominent character is the young woman who has a prosthetic leg, observed at various unassuming yet pivotal moments in her life, whether she's summer house sitting, lying awake at night thinking of her newborn child, or trying to overcome her anxiety in a writing class. Read the rest

My Kansas City World Science Fiction Convention schedule

I'm flying into Kansas City for part of Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, and while there, I'll be on panels, give a reading, and sit down with fans for a kaffeeklatsch. Read the rest

"Please send the police. I've been shot," says 76-year-old man mistakenly shot by police

When New Jersey police went to the wrong house to investigate a 911 hang-up call they shot resident 76-year-old Gerald Sykes, who called 911 to let them know he'd been shot. The police sent to investigate the shooting did not shoot Skyes.

From NJ.com:

The New Jersey Attorney General's Shooting Response Team which is investigating the shooting said two uniformed officers were sent to the house in error. After no response at the front door, they went around back to a deck where they knocked and announced themselves, according to the investigation. Then there was "an exchange of gunfire" with one trooper firing four rounds and Sykes firing one round.

The state does not say who fired first. Sykes' family say police fired and then Sykes — armed with a shotgun with birdshot in it to wound intruders but not kill them — shot back, thinking those on his deck were intruders.

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The occult magick of Pokemon Go

At the Daily Grail, Greg Taylor posted a fascinating essay about the Pokemon Go experience seen through the lens of medieval occult practices in which "incorporeal entities have sometimes been as much a part of the landscape as the everyday physical objects surrounding us that we can touch and see." As Gregory Benford once said, riffing on Arthur C. Clarke, "Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology." From the Daily Grail:

The modern, scientific view has these entities as products of the imagination; our pattern-seeking minds combining with our evolutionary survival instincts and desire to feel in control, to create phantoms out of nothing. The 'other world' does not exist; its imaginary denizens therefore cannot invade our own world and affect us, as they don't exist in the first place.

How ironic, then, that the modern scientific world has now created its own 'other world' - the world of computer-generated, virtual realities - and the creatures that populate any of those worlds can now manifest within our own plane through augmented/mixed reality. For those with phones to see...

This month, the infernal gates to this other world were thrown open. Within a week of its release, the game Pokémon Go amassed a similar number of active users to that of Twitter - with all those players running about their neighbourhoods, seeking the incorporeal monsters now inhabiting our environment, that can only be seen through a special, magical scrying device.

"Walkers Between Worlds" (Daily Grail) Read the rest

What kind of house $300,000 can buy around the world

Want to see what kind of house $300k will buy in Finland, Greece, Dominican Republic, Russia, Portugal, Brazil, Italy, Montenegro, Spain, USA, Turkey, France, Croatia, and Indonesia (above)? Check out the photos below:

What kind of house $300,000 can buy around the world.
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Watch charming grannies smoke weed for first time in Amsterdam

In a new British TV show called A Granny's Guide to the Modern World (Channel 4), three adorable ladies ages 73, 78 and 82 try weed for the first time when they visit a coffee shop in Amsterdam. One of the weed-tenders helps them out, showing them how to use a bong, roll a joint (a job that is given to the nimble-fingered granny who is an expert embroiderer), and introduces them to one of Amsterdam's famous "space cakes."

The video says it all, but check out The Guardian for more details on who these adventurous women are and for more info about the show. Read the rest

How to break a chatbot

On Reddit, Llaver showed how to reveal the inner workings of a Skype messaging bot. He/She explained that it was a mistake: "I was going to send some quick and dirty code to a friend but I mistakenly sent it to a Skype messaging bot. Hillarity ensues."

Here's a screengrab of a chat with a bot from five years ago:

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Neural Dust: tiny wireless implants act as "electroceuticals" for your brain

UC Berkeley researchers are developing "Neural Dust," tiny wireless sensors for implanting in the brain, muscles, and intestines that could someday be used to control prosthetics or a "electroceuticals" to treat epilepsy or fire up the immune system. So far, they've tested a 3 millimeter long version of the device in rats.

“I think the long-term prospects for neural dust are not only within nerves and the brain, but much broader,“ says researcher Michel Maharbiz. “Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something supertiny superdeep. But now I can take a speck of nothing and park it next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data."

Maharbiz, neuroengineer Jose Carmena, and their colleagues published their latest results on "Wireless Recording in the Peripheral Nervous System with Ultrasonic Neural Dust" in the journal Neuron.

From UC Berkeley:

While the experiments so far have involved the peripheral nervous system and muscles, the neural dust motes could work equally well in the central nervous system and brain to control prosthetics, the researchers say. Today’s implantable electrodes degrade within 1 to 2 years, and all connect to wires that pass through holes in the skull. Wireless sensors – dozens to a hundred – could be sealed in, avoiding infection and unwanted movement of the electrodes.

“The original goal of the neural dust project was to imagine the next generation of brain-machine interfaces, and to make it a viable clinical technology,” said neuroscience graduate student Ryan Neely.

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Interview with hardware hacker Star Simpson

Our guest on the Cool Tools show this week is Star Simpson. She is an electronics designer whose greatest joy is designing objects and tools that are useful to others, which inspire and delight. Her previous work includes research on robotics and work in drones, PLIBMTTBHGATY, an event where people convene to try new programming languages, and an electronics reference card PCB designed for Octopart, now carried in the wallets of electrical engineers everywhere. She is also the creator of Circuit Classics -- printed circuit boards that bring to life Forrest Mims' vintage designs from Getting Started in Electronics.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page Read the rest

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