How to coil your cables

At the 23:15 mark, John Edgar Park shows you how to add a coil to USB cables so they look like the cables between the handset and base station of old-fashioned landline phones.The process involves winding the cable around dowel and then heating it with a heat gun. The end result looks terrific. Read the rest

In-depth look at a $200,000 wristwatch

The folks at Watchfinder had the opportunity to take a close look at the Patek Philippe Grand Complications 5270/1R, a wristwatch costing $200,000. The way it handles days of the months and leap years is impressive.

I don't own an expensive collectors watch (unless the Apple Watch counts as one), but if I had to choose one I'd go with an Accutron Spaceview. At 1/100 the price of this Patek Philippe, it's still pretty expensive!

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Cory reviews Stepping Stones By Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley is one of my favorite cartoonists (here are past posts about Lucy). She's written a number of excellent autobiographical comix, and her newest work is a graphic novel memoir for young adults called Stepping Stones. Cory Doctorow reviewed it on his blog, Pluralistic:

Graphic novelist Lucy Knisley's memoirs are classics of the field – drawn with the straightforward lines and character designs of Raina Telgemeier, told with the wrenching pathos, nuance, comedy and complexity of Lynda Barry.

In Stepping Stones, her first foray into YA literature, Knisley fictionalizes her own girlhood, when, following her parents' divorce, she and her mother moved from NYC to a remote farm, accompanied by her mother's tone-deaf, bossy boyfriend.

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Nifty itty bitty flashlight fits on a zipper pull

Under 1.5-inches long, the Streamlight Nano flashlight has a quick-release clip so you can easily keep it on a zipper pull or flashlight. It's powered by four button cells.

Here's a photo of it next to a tube of Chapstick:

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In an ominous sign for economy, 32% of US fell short on July housing payments

One third of US households failed to make a housing payment in the month of July, according to a survey by online rental platform Apartment List.

From CNBC:

About 19% of Americans made no housing payment at all during the first week of the month, and 13% paid only a portion of their rent or mortgage.

That’s the fourth month in a row that a “historically high” number of households were unable to pay their housing bill on time and in full, up from 30% in June and 31% in May. Renters, low-income and younger households were most likely to miss their payments, Apartment List found.

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Why Harper's "Letter on Justice and Open Debate" is dumb

On July 7, Harper's published "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate," which was signed by a diverse body of writers and public intellectuals. Without actually using the term "cancel culture" the letter argues that "public shaming" and "ostracism" are leading to an environment in which the "free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted."

Mike Masnick of Techdirt says, "hogwash," in a piece titled "Harper's Gives Prestigious Platform To Famous Writers So They Can Whine About Being Silenced." Mike's essay is well worth reading in its entirety, but here are a couple of highlights:

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.

First off, hogwash. There are more places and ways to speak your mind than ever before, and the free exchange of information and ideas is more available and accessible to all sorts of voices than ever before in history. The idea that it's "more constricted" has no basis in reality. There are so many different ways to get ideas out there today, and that has actually enabled tons of previously suppressed voices to speak out loudly and clearly -- even if sometimes it's to point out that the supposed wisdom of others is anything but. There is no real evidence of any "constriction." There is evidence that many people are utilizing their newfound voices and ability to express themselves to show that the emperor has no clothes when it comes to some of the ideas presented by the old guard.

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Facebook is still running white nationalist advertising

At the same time Facebook's billionaire chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg was writing a post on her personal page that Facebook "stands firmly against hate," her company was taking money from a white nationalist group running an ad on the social media platform, reports Buzzfeed News.

“White people make up just 8% of the world's population so if you flood all white majority countries with nonwhites you eliminate white children for ever,” White Wellbeing Australia’s Facebook ad read, accompanied by a cartoon drawing of a white woman. “There will still be a billion Africans in Africa a billion Indians in India and 2 billion Asians in Asia.”

BuzzFeed reports that "Facebook took the ad down more than 6 hours after being alerted to it by BuzzFeed News." Read the rest

This song about Slack has a good beat and you can dance to it

This video of "10 Slack Commandments" is really catchy. Read the rest

After being accused of sexual assault, the mayor of Seoul is found dead

Three-term Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, who was reported missing yesterday following a police complaint that sexually assaulted a staffer, was found dead today.

From The Independent:

His daughter contacted police on Thursday afternoon and said her father left “a will-like” message before leaving their home 4-5 hours earlier.

Reports from South Korean broadcasters said one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday night over alleged sexual harassment.

The complainant, known only as Ms A in a report by the SBS News television network, said the harassment started when she started working there in 2017.

Park is alleged to have sent “personal photos” via text message to the secretary as well as engaging in unwanted physical contact. Ms A reportedly told police there were other victims of sexual harassment by the mayor.

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If you can work remotely, Barbados want you to come and stay for a year

The Caribbean island nation of Barbados is issuing 12-month "Barbados Welcome Stamps" as an incentive for people to come and work remotely. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said people can "come and work from here overseas, digitally so, so that persons don’t need to remain in the countries in which they are."

From the Barbados government information service website:

Speaking during the official reopening of Primo Bar and Bistro, St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, last night, the Prime Minister said one of the things the pandemic has shown is that it made short-term travel more difficult because of the testing and the requirements for rapid testing, which were not reliably available.

“You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple months at a time; go back and come back. But in order for those things to truly resonate, what does it mean? It means that what we offer has to be world-class and what we continue to offer is world-class,” Ms. Mottley underlined.

She continued: “The Government is committed to working with you on the promotion of new concepts like the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, being able to open our borders to persons travelling and making it as hospitable as ever for all of us, and making it available for Barbadians from every walk of life to believe that for special occasions, or just for so, that they can come out and be a part of this wonderful exercise.”

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The best (and worst) materials for DIY masks

Vacuum cleaner filters are a good material to use in homemade masks, according to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection. Masks made from tea towels, cotton-blend fabrics, and antimicrobial pillowcases are also good. Scarves and T-shirts are not so good.

From Science Daily:

When the researchers compared wearing masks to wearing no protection during 20-minute and 30-second exposures to the virus, they found that infection risks were reduced by 24-94% or by 44-99% depending on the mask and exposure duration. Risk reduction decreased as exposure duration increased, they found.

"N99 masks, which are even more efficient at filtering airborne particles than N95 masks, are obviously one of the best options for blocking the virus, as they can reduce average risk by 94-99% for 20-minute and 30-second exposures, but they can be hard to come by, and there are ethical considerations such as leaving those available for medical professionals," Wilson said.

The next best options, according to the research, are N95 and surgical masks and, perhaps surprisingly, vacuum cleaner filters, which can be inserted into filter pockets in cloth masks. The vacuum filters reduced infection risk by 83% for a 30-second exposure and 58% for a 20-minute exposure. Of the other nontraditional materials evaluated by the researchers, tea towels, cotton-blend fabrics and antimicrobial pillowcases were the next best for protection.

Scarves, which reduced infection risk by 44% after 30 seconds and 24% after 20 minutes, and similarly effective cotton t-shirts are only slightly better than wearing no mask at all, they found.

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We Are Little Zombies is a treat for eyes and ears

On Friday evening my family and I watched a wildly original Japanese movie called We Are Little Zombies. We loved the 8-bit special effects and soundtrack, crazy colorful costumes, and original songs. It's written and directed by Makoto Nagahisa and was the winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Originality at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Here's the synopsis:

When four young orphans -- Hikari, Ikuko, Ishi, and Takemura -- first meet, their parents’ bodies are being turned into dust, like fine Parmesan atop a plate of spaghetti Bolognese, and yet none of them can shed a tear. They are like zombies; devoid of all emotion. With no family, no future, no dreams, and no way to move forward, the young teens decide that the first level of this new existence involves salvaging a gaming console, an old electric bass, and a charred wok from their former homes—just enough to start a band-and then conquer the world. Tragedy, comedy, music, social criticism, and teenage angst are all subsumed in this eccentric cinematic tsunami.

Here's how to see We Are Little Zombies in actual and virtual cinema

Here's an exclusive clip, provided to Boing Boing by Oscilloscope:

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Good deal on Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device

Try this code: 4KFIRETV to see if you can get the Fire TV Stick 4K for a large discount. It worked for me, so I bought it to replace my four- or five-year-old Fire TV stick, which does not have voice remote and was slower because it has less storage. Read the rest

The screaming no-masker was fired from his job

Yesterday, Rob posted about a man in a Florida Costco who refused to wear a face mask and screamed and charged at a person who complained. I feel threatened!” he yelled, even though the man filming him was nowhere near him. He also screamed “Back up! Back the fuck up and put your fucking phone down!” as he charged toward the man.

The hollering gentleman has now been identified as Daniel Maples. Until yesterday he was employed by Ted Todd Insurance. His bio page on the company website said Maples “is currently the highest-producing sales agent in the company… Likes: Hot yoga, traveling, cooking and mentoring others.”

From USA Today:

By midday Tuesday, Maples' bio had been pulled from the site and the agency released a statement: It had fired Maples.

Law enforcement was not involved in the incident.

“Thank you to everyone for their comments and messages raising awareness about a former employee at Ted Todd Insurance,” the statement from Charley Todd said. “Their behavior in the video is in direct conflict with our company values and their employment has been terminated. Threatening behavior and intimidation go against our core mission to be trusted advisors in our community. We are also committed to immediately reviewing our internal existing culture at TTI.”

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Incredible restored video of Tokyo from 1913-1915

Denis Shiryaev took film footage of Tokyo from 1913 to 1915 and upscaled it, deflickered it, removed the noise, enhanced the faces, added ambient sound, and converted it to 60 frames per second. The result is pretty remarkable. Very few cars and horses - it's all rickshaws and handcarts.

One YouTuber commented: "The way they stare at the camera reminds me of the way people stare at the Google maps car in street view."

It's like a retro version of the Nippon Wandering TV YouTube channel I'm enamored with.

Also, I learned that Beedle from Zelda is based guys like this:

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mmhmm turns Zoom chats into SNL's weekend update

As someone who spends a few hours today in Zoom meetings, this new "virtual camera" looks interesting. It's called mmhmm and it gives you a bunch of presentation capabilities that you can use in Zoom and Google Meet. It's in private beta right now, so I haven't had a chance to use it, but this video demonstration by Phil Libin (former CEO of Evernote) shows some of its interesting features, like being able to show slides as a picture-in-picture atop a real or virtual background. Read the rest

How neural networks work - A good explainer video

How does a neural network connect perceptions to concepts? In other words, how can you make something that accepts an array of pixels as an input and correctly outputs "dog" or "cat?" This video from Art of the Problem does a good job of explaining how neural networks are able to do this, and why it's important to have neural networks with many layers. Read the rest

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