Cities' emergency sirens will play anything you send them over an unencrypted radio protocol

It's been a year since someone hacked all 156 of Dallas's emergency tornado sirens, setting them off in the middle of the night, and the security picture for cities' emergency PA systems keeps getting uglier. Read the rest

Youtube Face: the visual vocabulary of broad facial expressions dictated by Google's Algorithm Gods

You've probably seen the Youtube Face; it's that extreme facial expression (disgust, ecstasy, hilarity, etc) depicted in the thumbnails of Youtubers' would-be-viral videos, especially reaction videos. Read the rest

YouTube shooter was vegan fitness YouTuber angry company had demonetized her videos

The woman who opened fire in a YouTube cafeteria, injuring three others then killing herself, was named as Nasim Najafi Aghdam by investigators late yesterday. Frenzied speculation over her motives (alt-right types immediateley sought to portray her as a jihadi) faded to general bafflement: Aghdam was apparently an Iranian Baha’i vegan fitness fan to whom stereotypical political identities seem ill-fitted, especially in light of her bizarre videos: the only clue is her often-expressed anger that YouTube had demonetized her channel. The discussion is already leaning toward issues of mental health, with the necessary caveat that such speculation itself is problematic and tends to assume things about the mentally ill that are untrue. Read the rest

John Oliver on America's immigration courts, where families are torn apart and young children represent themselves

John Oliver is in very good form in this 18-minute explainer on America's ghastly immigration courts, where "we try death penalty cases like it was traffic court," forcing refugee claimants (even children as young as three years old) to represent themselves in deportation proceedings where their very lives are at stake. Read the rest

Machine learning projects for kids

Dale Lane's Machine Learning for Kids project uses extensions to the popular Scratch programming environment to teach the basics of machine learning to children. Read the rest

Discover the joy of watching a guitarist hear Stevie Ray Vaughan for the first time

It's easy to undervalue how much joy music can bring into a life.

Rafael is a guitarist from Guantanamo, Cuba. He doesn't have reliable access to the Internet, so a lot of the music that we take for granted has never made it into his ears. In this video, posted to YouTube by ATKFW, Rafael is encountering Stevie Ray Vaughan for the first time. Even with the video's poor lighting, there's no hiding the joy on his face or in his response to the music.

The little kid he's hanging out with seems pretty stoked too. Read the rest

How Russian investigative journalists working for precarious free press outlets exposed the "troll factory"

St Petersburg's Internet Research Agency -- AKA "The Troll Factory" -- is in the news since Robert Mueller indicted 13 of its employees, but it first came to public attention in 2013, when investigative reporters working for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta revealed that the agency was working to manipulate Russian public opinion in favor of Putin and the Kremlin and against opposition politicians by flooding Russian online discussions with thousands of "patriotic" posts made under a welter of pseudonyms. Read the rest

Gun-porn turns to horny-porn in the search for new digs

Earlier this week, YouTube updated its policies surrounding what sort of gun-related nonsense people are allowed to get up to while using their services. Selling gun parts? Outta here. You wanna show folks how to build a gun? Take it outside. Are you a bumpstock or a semi-automatic to fully automatic modification enthusiast? Not around here you ain't. What's a group of gun oil-huffing video makers supposed to do?

Wind up in cahoots with pornography peddlers, apparently.

According to the BBC, video makers who once leveraged YouTube to educate the masses on how to make their own suppressors or illegally modify firearms are now looking to Pornhub as a new home for their gun-related videos:

Karl Kasarda and Ian McCollum, who run the gun review site InRangeTV, said they had started posting their videos on Facebook and pornography site PornHub.

"We will not be seeking any monetisation from PornHub... we are merely looking for a safe harbour for our content and for our viewers," the pair said in a statement.

Firearms manufacturer Spike's Tactical said the change reflected attempts to "slowly chip away at our freedoms and erode our rights".

Eroding their rights. Please. YouTube is a public forum, but not a public institution. Saying that it's responsible for chipping away at your freedom because you're butt hurt that you can't use it to sell gun parts or blather on about your AR-15's custom rails anymore is like being pissed at a Starbucks for not allowing you to run a brothel out of their bathroom. Read the rest

Wonderful marble run made out of fidget spinners, and a parable about accessibility and abled people

Fidget spinners are wonderful. Read the rest

Count Dankula convicted for Nazi pug antics

YouTuber Count Dankula turned his girlfriend's pug into the star of several Hitler and Holocaust jokes. He was arrested, charged under hate crime statutes, and convicted yesterday. Read the rest

1.7 million viewers tuned into Bernie Sanders' Inequality Town Hall webcast

Back in January, a million people tuned in to Bernie Sanders' town hall on universal health-care; yesterday, 1.7 million people tuned in to watch Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore, and a panel of experts discuss inequality. Read the rest

Facebook insists that Cambridge Analytica didn't "breach" data, but "misused" it, and they're willing to sue anyone who says otherwise

Yesterday's bombshell article in the Guardian about the way that Cambridge Analytica was able to extract tens of millions of Facebook users' data without their consent was preceded by plenty of damage control on Facebook's part: they repeatedly threatened to sue news outlets if they reported on the story and fired the whistleblower who came forward with the story. Read the rest

Video: How the Red Arrow Aerobatic Team does their thing

I used to go to a lot of air shows when I was a kid growing up in Canada. I used to love seeing the American, British and French air forces show off their aircraft. It was always a thrill to see Canada's Snowbird aerobatic team show up to strut their stuff. Now, thanks to this video, I have a little insight into how they and other elite flying teams do what they do. Read the rest

Music to poop by

A lot of terrible things go on inside of your average porta potty. This is one of them. Read the rest

Killer gets 180-day sentence for YouTube stunt gone wrong

Lifehack: Killing someone in cold blood, passion or even accidentally can land a person in jail for years, if not decades. But, if you film it, you could get off with a significantly less stringent sentence.

If you're big into Darwinism, you might remember Monalisa Perez. Last year, she and her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, parted ways, permanently, after a YouTube video they were filming went horribly, predictably wrong. This wasn't the pair's first doing-dumb-things-on-camera rodeo. They'd posted questionable stunts to YouTube before. This time around, they planned on taking the Internet by storm with footage of Perez firing a gun at Ruiz, who believed that he could stop a bullet with nothing more than a hardcover book. There were a couple of issues with this plan. First, trusting a book to protect you from death, unless you're boning up on how to make an anti-venom, is insane. Second, the pistol that Perez fired at her beau was a .50 caliber Desert Eagle. For the uninitiated, this is an insanely powerful handgun. With the right load, a round fired from it can bop through a bulletproof vest or pierce light ceramic or steel armor. In short, there was a very high probability that a book wasn't going to cut it.

Despite this, Perez stood a foot away from her man and fired a single round. It went through the book! It went into him! He was killed! She got it all on tape, with not one, but two cameras. When Ruiz went down, she called 911 and told the operator what had happened. Read the rest

How denialists weaponize media literacy and what to do about it

danah boyd's SXSW Edu keynote, What Hath We Wrought? builds on her essay from 2017 about the relationship of media literacy education to the rise of conspiracy theories and the great epistemological rift in which significant numbers of people believe things that are clearly untrue, from climate denial to flat-earthing. Read the rest

A mechanical, wooden Turing machine

Richard J. Ridel's all-wooden, mechanical Turing machine uses the smallest set of data elements capable of computing any calculation: 0, 1 and blank; it was inspired by Ridel's viewing of The Imitation Game. Read the rest

More posts