A new robotic arm design for future home robots that do our chores

Remember UC Berkeley researcher Pieter Abbeel's fantastic towel-folding robot? Now, Abbeel and his team have prototyped a new kind of robot arm design meant for the home and other human environments. Compared to robot arms common in factories, this manipulator, called Blue, is less expensive ( Read the rest

Where pinball machines live forever

Michael Schiess is the founder of the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California where he cares for nearly 2,000 pinball machines from across time. Schiess's mission in life? "To inspire an interest in science, art and history through pinball, and to preserve and promote this important part of American culture."

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"Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden"

At Bon Appetit, Kristen Arnett wrote a very funny appreciation of Olive Garden as the perfect place for her to take first dates. From Bon Appetit: Read the rest

For sale: charred remains of Aleister Crowley and Jimmy Page's Loch Ness home

For sale: Boleskine House, occultist Aleister Crowley's infamous digs on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland that Jimmy Page later owned. The Georgian home, sitting on 9.3 hectares (22.9 acres), burned in 2015 but the exterior walls remain. The real estate agent is open to bids over £200,000.

According to the sales materials, "The opportunity now exists to restore the house and grounds to create an outstanding property subject to obtaining the necessary consents."

Consents? I say, remodel as thou wilt.

Here is the listing.

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The Mueller report, thumbnailed for redaction appreciation

From FlowingData, this is the redacted Mueller report in a "thumbnailed view for a sense of the redactions."

There's still plenty to read between the (black) lines.

(Thanks, Ted Weinstein!) Read the rest

Ingenious DIY Etch-A-Sketch digital camera

Martin Fitzpatrick built the Etch-A-Snap, a digital camera with an automated Pocket Etch-A-Sketch as its display on the back. Each photo takes between 15 minutes to one hour to be sketched. From Two Bit Arcade:

Photos are processed down to 240x144 pixel 1-bit (black & white) line drawings using Pillow and OpenCV and then translated into plotter commands by building a network graph representation with networkx. The Etch-A-Sketch wheels are driven by two 5V stepper motors mounted into a custom 3D printed frame. The Etch-A-Snap is entirely portable and powered by 4xAA batteries & 3x18650 LiPo cells.

Find links to the plans and code here: "Etch-A-Snap: The Raspberry Pi powered Etch-A-Sketch camera" (Two Bit Arcade)

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Australian man trades two cases of beer for real live unicorn

A southern Australia livestock sales agent saved a magical unicorn sheep from the slaughterhouse by trading its owner two cases of beer in exchange for the fantastic creature. (The unicorn, named Joey, apparently does have a stunted second horn but whatever.)

“We’ll break him in, take him to shows and pageants, and who knows where we can go, maybe Hollywood,” (Joey's new human companion Michael) Foster told 7News Adelaide.

“I’m sure the kids will get a big kick out of patting a real-life unicorn, we might even do unicorn rides.”

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"Strarcrossed," the hot disco track from the Price is Right (1976)

Come on down and, more to the point, get on down to this full version of "Starcrossed," one of the many disco jams from Score Productions used as a musical cue on The Price is Right starting in 1976.

Also, I hadn't realized before that Crystal Waters' 2001 cover of Score Productions' "Come on Down," aka the main Price is Right theme, hit number one on Billboard's Dance Club Songs Chart! I much prefer the original lyric-less version. Both are below.

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eBoy's new design-your-own Swatch watch

Check out the new "Swatch x You" artist edition from longtime Boing Boing pals eBoy, the pixelmasters whose dingbat font FF Peecol birthed our own Jackhammer Jill mascot! With the new Swatch, you get to choose from a variety of eBoy characters in a pre-determined pattern to "design" your own watch. From Swatch:

Three designers, never-ending 8-bit paradises. The always-surprising pixel creations by the Berlin-based trio have been on the cover of numerous magazines, ad campaigns and many art galleries. Since 1977, eBoy keeps building, pixel by pixel, the most original digital environments and characters that invite people on a journey of discovery and wonder.

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Carl's Jr. to test a CBD-infused burger

On April 20 (4/20, duh), Carl's Jr. will sell a cannabidiol (CBD)-infused burger at one of their Denver, Colorado locations. It's called the Rocky Mountain High: CheeseBurger Delight. Of course, CBD actually doesn't get you high but can provide other benefits as an analgesic, to reduce inflammation, alleviate anxiety, etc. Anyway, the fast food chain insists this isn't a publicity stunt but the beginning of an actual market test. From CNN:

"It is something that feels right for the brand," (Carl's Jr. senior vice president of brand marketing Patty Trevino) told CNN Business. "We are all about innovation..."

The chain first decided to explore CBD in January, after introducing a product based on another trend. Earlier this year, the chain announced a plant-based alternative to its signature burger in partnership with Beyond Meat.

"I was sitting down with our head chef Owen Klein, and we were talking about trends," Trevino said. After the Beyond Meat launch, they came up with a wish list that included a CBD product. "We looked at ourselves and said, you know what, let's try."

Starting small, in a market where cannabis regulation is "really strong," will allow Carl's Jr. to figure out how to move forward. Testing CBD could give the company an edge over competitors, because most of its locations are in Western states, where recreational cannabis is legal.

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After 150 years, Runaway Negro Creek finally has a new name

The US Board on Geographic Names has officially renamed Runaway Negro Creek on Savannah, Georgia's Skidaway Island. It's now called Freedom Creek. Last year, State Sen. Lester Jackson sponsored the resolution to get rid of the offensive name. According to WJCL, the creek was originally "named after slaves that escaped after the Civil War."

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The fun and freaky sounds of the Sasquatch Calling Contest

In September, Bigfoot enthusiasts in upstate New York head to Whitehall for the annual Sasquatch Calling Festival, including a contest to mimic the creature's telltale vocalizations --- from howls and yelps to growls and moans. ESPN visited the tournament. Unfortunately, the winner isn't the person who successfully summons the sasquatch. Not yet anyway.

(via The Anomalist)

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"Cthulhu was real!" say scientists

Well, sort of. Paleontologists have identified a 430 million-year-old fossil of a multi-tentacled sea creature as a new species and dubbed it Sollasina cthulhu after HP Lovecraft's Great Old One. From Yale University:

The new cthulhu, Sollasina, had 45 tentacle-like tube feet, which it used to crawl along the ocean floor and capture food. The creature was small, about the size of a large spider. It was found in the Herefordshire Lagerstätte in the United Kingdom, a site that has proven to be a trove of fossilized ancient sea animals.

“In this paper, we report a new echinoderm — the group that includes sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and sea stars — with soft-tissue preservation,” said Yale paleontologist Derek Briggs, a co-author of the study. “This new species belongs to an extinct group called the ophiocistioids. With the aid of high-resolution physical-optical tomography, we describe the species in 3D, revealing internal elements of the water vascular system that were previously unknown in this group and, indeed, in nearly all fossil echinoderms.”

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This is the reconstructed face of a pet dog that lived 4,500 years ago

Archaeologists uncovered the skeleton of this neolithic dog more than a century ago in a 5,000 year old tomb on on the island of Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. Now, forensic scientists and artists have reconstructed the animal's face. According to Historic Environment Scotland researcher Steve Farrar, this dog and 23 others found in the "Cuween Hill (tomb) suggest that dogs had a particularly special significance for the farmers... Maybe dogs were their symbol or totem, perhaps they thought of themselves as the 'dog people.'" From The Scotsman:

As HES observes, the fact that the Orkney residents placed canine remains alongside those of humans could also speak to their belief in an afterlife for both parties.

The latest work was originally created in clay using traditional methods, with a 3D print of the Cuween Hill skull as the base to build the anatomy on to.

It was then cast in silicone and finished with the fur coat resembling a European grey wolf, as advised by experts...

(Forensic artist Amy) Thornton, who trained in facial reconstruction methods at the University of Dundee, said: “This reconstruction has been a particularly interesting project to be involved in, as it marks the first time I’ve employed forensic methods that would usually be used for a human facial reconstruction and applied these to an animal skull.

“This brought its own set of challenges, as there is much less existing data relating to average tissue depths in canine skulls compared to humans.”

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Video from inside Notre Dame after the fire

Holy hell.

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This is the new Helvetica

Helvetica Now is Monototype's new typeface created for today's screens. Read the rest

MTV announces first ever reality TV convention

MTV has announced RealityCon, a reality TV fan convention to take place next summer. No word yet on whether they will also launch a RealityCon reality show about what happens when people stop being polite and start producing a real convention about reality shows. If only Lance Loud was alive to keynote. From Rolling Stone:

Even though it is hosted by MTV — who created the genre with The Real World in 1992 — the event will be an expansive look at reality television’s history and feature the people behind and stars of shows like The Bachelor, The Real Housewives, Duck Dynasty, Big Brother, RuPaul’s Drag Race and Survivor alongside MTV staples like Jersey Shore and The Hills.

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