This wooden bike has blades instead of wheels so you can ride it down a snow covered mountain

The Velogemel is a wooden bike that was invented in Grindelwald, Switzerland in 1911. It looks like a lot of fun to ride on down a snowy mountain at a speed of 25 mph. No brakes, though. You have to use your feet to slow down.

Image: YouTube/Great Big Story Read the rest

Breed super-creepy humanoids with the click of a button

As soon as you sign up for free Ganbreeder account you can start creating algorithmic monstrosities simply by clicking "Make Children."

I feel just like Billy Mumy in the Twilight Zone episode, "It's a Good Life." Read the rest

My favorite cheap T-shirts are on sale today

Gildan crew T-shirts are very inexpensive and comfortable. Amazon just knocked the price down to what seems like an all-time low. With shirt this cheap I can slurp my curry with abandon -- if a shirt gets stained, it goes into the cleaning rag / painting / work clothes drawer. Read the rest

Why the online campaign to unfollow FuckJerry didn't work

Here's how Alexis Madrigal sets up his excellent Atlantic essay about why online protests usually flop:

There is an Instagram account called FuckJerry, which grew by taking jokes and memes created by other people and posting them, eventually growing an audience hungry for ever more jokes. The account spawned a media company, Jerry Media, and desperate ad executives from the world’s biggest companies now pay to be seen on FuckJerry, on the premise that that’s where they’ll reach young people who don’t have their eyeballs on the places they used to.

A call to unfollow FuckJerry (#FuckFuckJerry) for posting memes without credit resulted in its follower count dropping from 14.3 million to 14 million. In other words FuckJerry will suffer no economic hit.

Why did the campaign fail? First of all, the world's biggest brands and platforms need FuckJerry. Madrigal:

The economic system undergirding the influencer economy -- the advertising agencies, marketers, companies -- wants the FuckJerrys of the world to exist. So do the big platforms, which profit from these accounts’ ability to serve up and accelerate crowd-pleasing memes.

The problem isn't FuckJerry. It's the way social media has been designed and deployed to support a desperate-for-attention economy:

Really going after FuckJerry would require implicating the whole economic system of attention. In a world in which distribution power gets built through viral influence by any means, the FuckJerrys of the world will exist.

Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock Read the rest

Singapore Airlines says seatback cameras are "disabled"

While on a Singapore Airlines flight, Vitaly Kamluk, noticed a camera in the seatback media system. He took photos and posted them on Twitter:

Here's Singapore Airlines response to Kamluk's tweet:

Hi there, thank you for reaching out to us. We would like to share that some of our newer inflight entertainment systems provided by the original equipment manufacturers do have a camera embedded in the hardware... We have no plans to enable or develop any features using the cameras.

It's not a bad idea to cover the camera with post-it note, anyway.

Image: Twitter Read the rest

This multimeter is very inexpensive with discount code

I have a few multimeters, and this is the one I usually grab first because it's so dead simple to use. I've had it for a least a year and have had no problems with it. Use promo code M2UAA4EY to get it for less than the price of a large, heavily sweetened coffee drink. Read the rest

Billy Wilder's 10 tips for screenwriting

Billy Wilder was the director of many excellent movies, including Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, and Double Indemnity. Here are 10 tips about moviemaking that he shared in the late 1990s with Cameron Crowe (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire)

From Open Culture:

Wilder was 90 years old when the young director Cameron Crowe approached him in 1996 about playing a small role in Jerry Maguire. Wilder said no, but the two men formed a friendship. Over the next several years they talked extensively about filmmaking, and in 1999 Crowe published Conversations with Wilder. One of the book's highlights is a list of ten screenwriting tips by Wilder. "I know a lot of people that have already Xeroxed that list and put it by their typewriter," Crowe said in a 1999 NPR interview. "And, you know, there's no better film school really than listening to what Billy Wilder says."

Here are Wilder's ten rules of good filmmaking:

1: The audience is fickle. 2: Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go. 3: Develop a clean line of action for your leading character. 4: Know where you're going. 5: The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer. 6: If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act. 7: A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They'll love you forever.

Read the rest

Vox lawyers censored YouTubers who criticized The Verge's PC build videos

Vox's lawyers convinced YouTube to issue dreaded copyright strikes against two reaction videos that made fun of bad advice given by The Verge (owned by Vox Media) on how to build gaming PCs. The resulting backlash convinced The Verge's editor to ask YouTube to rescind the strikes.

From Ars Technica:

Last week, The Verge's lawyers suddenly asked YouTube to remove two reaction videos that had been online since September. Both videos reproduced the vast majority of the original Verge video, interspersed and overlaid with commentary, criticism, and ridicule.

These takedowns attracted widespread attention. Other prominent YouTubers posted videos weighing in on the controversy, with most blasting The Verge's decision.

[Verge editor Nilay Patel] says he wasn't involved in the initial decision to issue the copyright strikes. When he learned of the decision, he says, he requested that the strikes be retracted.

"When this was brought to my attention a few hours later, I told them that although I fully agreed with their legal argument, I did not think we should use copyright strikes against legitimate channels," Patel wrote in a Friday post.

Patel says that at his request, The Verge asked YouTube to retract the strikes against the two videos.

Still, Patel said The Verge's lawyers were on solid legal ground.

"I fully agree with our legal team that these videos crossed the line of fair use," he wrote.

Read the rest

Best augmented reality app for shoe shopping online

Do you want to try on a pair of shoes... in cyberspace?

Do what this guy did:

Image: Twitter Read the rest

Billionaire superyacht owner's children pelt onboard Basquiat painting with cornflakes

Do you think your life is tough? Be grateful you aren't this guy, reported in The Guardian:

Pandora Mather-Lees, an Oxford-educated art historian and conservator, started giving lessons after a billionaire asked for help to restore a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting damaged not by sea spray, but by breakfast cereal. “His kids had thrown their cornflakes at it over breakfast on his yacht because they thought it was scary,” Mather-Lees said. “And the crew had made the damage worse by wiping them off the painting.”

She declined to name the owner or identify the artwork, but a Basquiat painting depicting a crazed, skull-shaped face sold at auction for a US record $110.5m (£84.5m) in 2017.

Image: Sasa Kadrijevic/Shutterstock Read the rest

[UPDATED] Google image search for "best toilet paper" returns images of Pakistan flag

[UPDATE 2/18/2019, 3:37pm PT: Here's a statement from a Google spokesperson: “While we continue to investigate the matter, we have not found any evidence that Google Images was ranking the Pakistani flag in response to this particular search. Many news outlets wrote about an old screenshot from a meme website that is inconsistent with our UI and dates back to 2017, and we have not seen any independent verification that these results ever appeared as depicted. Since these news stories published, images from those articles are now ranking for this query, as the pages contain words relevant to the search.”]

[UPDATE 2/18/2019 I've learned that tt's likely the screenshot images are fakes, and are based on a 2017 meme. I'll post an update as I get more information.]

Unknown persons gamed Google's algorithm so that search results for "best toilet paper" returned photos of the Pakistan flag. Read the rest

Denmark is 0.07 seconds behind the world

Every country once ran on its own time. This wasn't much of a problem until the era of global telecommunications began. That's when Denmark decided to use the line that's 15 degrees east of Greenwich, England as the spot to set Central European Time (one hour difference from Greenwich Mean Time). Clocks in Europe were all set so that when the sun was at its zenith 15 degrees east of Greenwich, it was noon. But because the Earth wobbles and its rotation is slowing down, "noon drifts by a fraction of a second each day," says Tom Scott. The world now uses Coordinated Universal Time, based on "a network of atomic clocks around the world" so that electronic assets trading can take place around world, where tiny fractions of a second can make a big difference.

But Denmark has never changed its law from 1894, which dictates that it must follow Mean Solar Time, to match the rest of the world, which uses Coordinated Universal Time. That means the error is now 0.07 seconds, and by the end of 2019, the error will be 0.25 seconds. Fortunately, everyone ignores the outdated law.

Images: Tom Scott/YouTube Read the rest

YouTube's algorithms demonitizes piano tutorial site for "Repetitious content"

When you're learning to play a musical instrument, you have to play the same songs and scales over and over again. YouTube's algorithm doesn't seem to know this, and so it demonetized a piano tutorial channel for "Repetitious content."

We just found out that our channel was demonetised for "Repetitious content" and we believe that this is an error, possibly decided by an algorithm, and now the biggest part of our livelihood has been taken away. Please help us by discussing this (tweeting and posting) if possible. We need to be heard by YouTube. It's a risk for the piano and synthesia community as we all have similar-looking videos.

I hope they get this sorted out soon! Read the rest

Funny postcards based on old paperbacks

Comfy Jr is selling a set of five Paperback Paradise postcards, including:

Incel From Another Planet Here They Come: The Bats That Kicked My Ass Whose Cat is This? Secret Sex Skeleton Eat Celestial Shit Read the rest

Justin Bieber song slowed down 800% and pitch corrected

Need a song for the third act of your indy film? Here you go:

Image: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock Read the rest

This AI is so good at writing fake news stories the developer doesn't want to release the code

The non-profit research organization, Open AI, developed a system called GPT-2, which "generates synthetic text samples in response to the model being primed with an arbitrary input. The model is chameleon-like — it adapts to the style and content of the conditioning text. This allows the user to generate realistic and coherent continuations about a topic of their choosing, as seen by the following select samples."

GPT-2 is so good at writing fake news that the developer said, "Due to our concerns about malicious applications of the technology, we are not releasing the trained model."

Here's an example of the output:

SYSTEM PROMPT (HUMAN-WRITTEN)

Recycling is good for the world.

NO! YOU COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG!!

MODEL COMPLETION (MACHINE-WRITTEN, 25 TRIES)

Recycling is NOT good for the world. It is bad for the environment, it is bad for our health, and it is bad for our economy. I’m not kidding. Recycling is not good for the environment. It is destructive to the earth and it is a major contributor to global warming. Recycling is not good for our health. It contributes to obesity and diseases like heart disease and cancer. Recycling is bad for our economy. It increases the cost of a product, and in turn, the price of everything that is made with that product. Recycling is not good for our nation. We pay a tremendous price for the privilege of having the world’s most advanced and efficient recycling system. Recycling is a huge, colossal waste of time, energy, money, and resources. Read the rest

Enamel lapel pin of a video game arcade

I bought this nifty little lapel pin of a video arcade machine for my daughter's birthday. It uses two pins to keep it upright. It looks cool! Read the rest

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