Fantastic film of Paris in the late 1890s

This late 1890s Lumière film of Paris is amazing. The image is clear and the motion is smooth. Sound was added, which makes the film come alive (I wish they would have colorized it, too). No cars in sight - just horse-drawn carriages, pedestrians, and the rare bicycle (why not more bikes?). People are dressed in elaborate outfits - how long did it take them to dress up in the morning? The horse-drawn fire trucks at 3:35 are a highlight. Read the rest

Amazon patents doorbell camera that calls police when it recognizes a "suspicious" person

Amazon filed a patent application for a doorbell camera that scans the faces of passers by and compares them with a database of suspicious persons. If a match is made the camera calls the cops.

From ACLU:

The ACLU’s test is consistent with academic research demonstrating that face surveillance technology is less accurate for darker skinned faces and women. These systems threaten to further entangle people with law enforcement, ripping families apart and increasing the likelihood of racially biased police violence. In addition, this technology puts activists and protesters in danger when exercising their First Amendment rights.

Despite the risks to civil liberties and racial justice, Amazon has chosen to ignore questions from members of Congress and calls from consumers, civil rights groups, and its own employees and shareholders to take responsibility for the consequences of its technology on communities where it is deployed.

This patent application also suggests that Amazon has no plans to stop at identifying people based on their faces. The company anticipates targeting an arsenal of other biometrics, including fingerprints, skin-texture analysis, DNA, palm-vein analysis, hand geometry, iris recognition, odor/scent recognition, and even behavioral characteristics, like typing rhythm, gait, and voice recognition.

Read the rest

Crowdfund campaign for a 500-kilometer walk across rural Japan

In January 2019, Peter Orosz plans to live broadcast his snowy trek across the Japanese island of Shikoku. He will also produce a printed field report.

The story is that last year I walked 2,700 miles from one end of Japan to the other, and now I will go back to walk the most interesting 300 miles in the winter, then write and print a large format Field Report about it. You will also be able to follow it live on YouTube and Instagram.

It costs $45 to support the expedition, for which you get a copy of the Field Report, an extra $20 will get your name in it as a Patron, and there’s also some cool hand-crafted stuff from my collaborators: a watercolor map, a book of essays on Japan by Alan Booth, an indigo-dyed towel. It’s shipping worldwide in Spring 2019.

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Make this scale model of the Dr. Nim digital game

Dr Nim is a plastic, gravity powered computer from the 1960s that plays the game, Nim, against a human player. Recently Michael Gardi made a 3D scale model of Dr Nim, which you can download and print on a 3D printer.

The Amazing Dr. Nim is a toy invented by John Thomas Godfrey and manufactured by Education Science Research (E.S.R., Inc.) in the mid-1960s. It consists of a marble-powered plastic computer capable of playing the game of Nim. The machine selects its moves through the action of the marbles falling through the levers of the machine.

The "game board" is a based on the mechanical Digi-Comp II digital computer (also a Godfrey creation). It has memory switches that hold bits of data. The unit is programmed by lobed levers that affect and are affected by marbles that are released from the top of the game. Three of the levers set the start position. The fourth lever is the 'equalizer' option; if set, the player can win if they play perfectly. The last lever is used to indicate who's turn it is, the human or Dr. Nim's.

Game play is described in the manual that was bundled with the game and can be found here:

The Amazing Dr. Nim Manual

There are many good online references for the game. The following video is especially informative and entertaining:

The Unbeatable Game from the 60s: Dr NIM

And this article speaks to the relevance of a game like Dr. Nim in today's digital world:

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories - Dr.

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New music video by Dominque Pruitt: "High In The Valley"

Six ago I posted singer Dominique Pruitt's first music video, "To Win Your Love." Since then, she's released a number of country-inspired tunes and I like them all. Her latest is "High In The Valley." Read the rest

New Zealand campers wake up to find money placed behind windshield wipers

NZ$6800 in cash was mysteriously left on cars and toilets at a campground in New Zealand. The recipients of the gifts turned the money over to police, fearing it might be stolen/

Image: Stuff

Thanks, Roger! Read the rest

Soul Plane actor sues airlines after his pinky gets stuck in an armrest hole

Stephen Keys, an actor who has appeared in many movies, including Soul Plane, was on a flight from Reno to Los Angeles last week. When he raised his armrest so he could get his seatbelt, his pinky got stuck in a hole under the armrest. According to a lawsuit he filed against American Airlines and SkyWest Airlines, "The spring mechanism embedded inside of this hole in the armrest applied intense pressure to plaintiff's finger, immediately inflicting injury, swelling and pain."

"By this time, dozens of passengers became aware of Mr. Keys' perilous condition, causing his dire situation to become a humiliating public spectacle," the suit alleges. "By the end of it all, he remained entrapped in this nightmarish condition, suffering for nearly an hour."

From NBC:

Flight personnel and members of a fire department rescue team were unable to free Keys' finger, which was finally accomplished with the help of an airline mechanic who disassembled the armrest, the suit says.

The injury to his finger left Keys unable to perform such previously routine tasks as driving and playing with his children, according to his complaint, which says he experienced weeks of intense pain and severe emotional distress. Read the rest

Passenger attempts to smuggle 70 live finches hidden inside hair rollers

A gentleman arriving from Guyana was caught at JFK Airport attempting to smuggle 70 live finches hidden inside hair rollers. He was sent home without his birds, which he was planning to enter in a high-stakes underground singing contest.

From the New York Times:

On Saturday, 70 live finches were discovered in the black duffel bag of a Guyanese citizen who, like the other smugglers, was believed to be bringing them to the United States to participate in underground singing contests. Gamblers set the birds against each other and place bets on their chirping skills.

A winning male finch with a good pedigree and track record can sell for up to $10,000, according to a United States Fish and Wildlife Service investigation nicknamed Operation G-Bird.

“They bet on how many times the finches will chirp in a minute, which finch chirps the most,” Anthony Bucci, a spokesman for United States Customs and Border Protection in New York, said on Wednesday.

Image: United States Fish and Wildlife Service / US Customs and Border Protection Read the rest

Interesting logos are being replaced with boring ones

The trend is to make distinctive logos all look the same by using bold san serif typefaces.

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Create beautiful music with Adult Swim's Choir

This is a fun way to spend about 90 seconds of your day. Read the rest

Favorite 2018 tool finds under $10

Here are Cool Tools' favorite sub-$10 tools for 2008:

CANARY Corrugated Cardboard Cutter

Makita Impact Gold Ultra-Magnetic Torsion Insert Bit Holder

Pacer Technology (Zap) Flexy-Tips

Komelon Speed Mark Gripper

3M Virtua CCS Protective Eyewear w/ earplugs

Engineer SS-02 Solder Sucker

Favorite Tool Finds Under $10 (2017 Edition) Read the rest

Teardown of the new PlayStation Classic

Jerry of JerryRigEverything takes apart the new PlayStation Classic, a miniature replica of the original Playstation that comes preloaded with 20 games.

Image: YouTube/JerryRigEverything Read the rest

Your new social credit score

This video imagines a social credit system in the UK similar to one under development in China, in which your purchases, interactions with law enforcement and organizations, level of financial responsibility, and other factors are combined to generate a social credit score, which can be used to provide or restrict access to public and private services. Read the rest

The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech: Computers, Consoles and Games

Peter Leigh, known as the Nostalgia Nerd on his YouTube channel, has a cool new hardcover book out called The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech: Computers, Consoles and Games, which is exactly what it says it is - photos and descriptions of gear from the 1970s-1990s. Here are a few spreads from the book to give you an idea of what's in it and how the material is presented:

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Great deal on the Kano Computer

Kano is a Raspberry Pi based computer system. It comes with everything you need besides an HDMI monitor. I love the keyboard with the included trackpad. At this sale price, it's probably cheaper than separately buying a Raspberry Pi, a microSD card, a case, a keyboard and pointer, a power supply, and cables. Plus, Kano's Linux OS is packed with fun goodies.

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These videos of Radio Shacks and Furry Conventions in the 1980s are incredible time capsules

Watching this 1987 video of two Radio Shacks (one with Madonna music in the background) makes it clear that 30 years can be a long, long time ago. Prancing Skiltaire (the person who uploaded this video) said, "This was shot in Garden Grove, CA and Buena Park Mall, CA. The person who recorded was an employee working with a regional manager who was inspecting under performing Radio Shacks they were going to renovate." I was fascinated for all 15 minutes of this spellbinding video.

Be sure to check out Prancing Skiltaire's other amazing videos, like the Equicon Costume Presentation (1988):

And the first Furry Convention! (1989):

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How to make some cool balancing toys

High school science teacher Bruce Yeany says, "Here are a few more example of balancing toys that are made with simple materials. Making these types of toys have been especially popular with students. Toys can be a great lead in to the study of center of mass, center of gravity, levers, torque. Also makes a good STEM challenge for students to come up with their own balancing toys and investigate factors that influence its behavior."

Here's Bruce's first video about making balancing toys:

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