Zippo Keeps Your Bits Safe

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[Laura Kampf] found a new use for an old Zippo lighter by turning it into a carrier for her screwdriver bits. There are several multitools out there which can accept standard screwdriver bits. The problem is carrying those bits around. Leaving a few bits in your pocket is a recipe for pocket holes and missing bits.

[Laura’s] solution uses her old Zippo lighter. All she needs is the case, the lighter element itself can be saved for another project. A block of aluminum is cut and sanded down to a friction fit. Laura uses a band saw and bench sander …read more

Real-Time Polarimetric Imager from 1980s Tech

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It’s easy to dismiss decades old electronics as effectively e-waste. With the rapid advancements and plummeting prices of modern technology, most old hardware is little more than a historical curiosity at this point. For example, why would anyone purchase something as esoteric as 1980-era video production equipment in 2018? A cheap burner phone could take better images, and if you’re looking to get video in your projects you’d be better off getting a webcam or a Raspberry Pi camera module.

But occasionally the old ways of doing things offer possibilities that modern methods don’t. This fascinating white paper from [David …read more

A new podcast hopes to solve an infamous unsolved death in Norway’s Isdalen Valley

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In November, 1970, just outside the Norwegian town of Bergen, two kids found the partially burnt remains of a woman’s body. Surrounding the woman’s remains were a number of objects: some bottles of water, a rubber boot and a burnt newspaper. All of the labels had been removed from the woman’s clothing. Why the woman – known in Norway as the Isdal Woman, named for the remote valley that she was found in – died or who she was has been a mystery for close to 50 years.

Norwegian journalist Marit Higraff and BBC documentary maker Neil McCarthy are working to shed light on the Isdal Woman’s very, very cold case. Working together, they’ve produced a new podcast called Death in Ice Valley. The first episode is available to download or stream, right now.

During the course of the podcast, Higraff and McCarthy will talk to those that investigated the crime back in the day, as well as forensic experts and anyone else they feel might propel them towards the answer of who the Isdal Woman was and why she died. But they’re not stopping there. Listeners of the podcast are invited to talk to one another and the podcast’s producers about the case on social media, in the hope that a breakthrough for the case could be crowdsourced.

I listened to the first episode yesterday. It starts slow, as many BBC radio productions often do. But the questions that the pair of journalists raise surrounding the Isdal Woman’s death and what they uncovered, even in the first episode, has compelled me to continue with the series to see how things turn out. If you’re looking for something new to occupy your ears with, you might just want to include it on your list of downloads.

ReinhardheydtOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Weekend Tunes: Dread Zeppelin

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Raggae-scorched Led Zeppelin covers churned out by a tight band fronted by an Elvis Presley impersonator? Yes, there is a God, and Dread Zeppelin is proof that she loves us.

These guys were the musical snow leopard of my early teenage years: on rare occasions, I’d catch the tail end of one of their videos on Much Music or a piece of a song on college radio. It was years before I learned who they were or bought one of their CDs. Scoff if you will, but at its height, the band was so damn good at what it did that Robert Plant kept their music in his car.

On this 4.20, or as Xeni calls it, amateur day, they are my gift to you.

The evolution of music from 1680 to 2017

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I enjoyed the piano stylings of Lord Vinheteiro in this “Evolution of Music” video**. He plays a little music from each year, starting with 1680 and ending with 2017. There’s Beethoven, Iron Maiden, Aqua, and more.

Another fun video of his has him playing the soundtrack and sound effects from Super MarioWorld on the piano along with the video game itself.

**Though I found his staring at the camera a bit jarring!

Let this insufferable Q&A at a Westworld panel be a lesson to us all

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Tribeca hosted a Westworld panel yesterday with an all-star lineup including co-creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, as well as actors Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and James Marsden. I’m sure the discussion of the upcoming new season was great, but we’re actually here to talk about the very end of the panel, when the moderator takes questions from the audience.

Audience Q&As, a longtime staple of the panel format, offer attendees the chance to ask thoughtful questions that may have arisen during the discussion they attended. Just kidding! They’re actually a nightmare, because anecdotally anyone who’s attended panels at any major event — myself included — can tell you that the questions are bad 95 percent of the…

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Nintendo Labo review

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I’m here to tell you first-hand: Nintendo Labo is no joke. I’m a grown-up human person, who has spent many hours of his life building things: office furniture, websites, a model of the Batmobile from the 1989 Tim Burton movie. In the fourth grade, I attempted to build Mission Santa Barbara out of sugar cubes. […]

A Polar Coordinate CNC Plotter Even Descartes Could Love

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Take apart a few old DVD drives, stitch them together with cable ties, add a pen and paper, and you’ve got a simple CNC plotter. They’re quick and easy projects that are fun, but they do tend to be a little on the “plug and chug” side. But a CNC plotter that uses polar coordinates? That takes a little more effort.

The vast majority of CNC projects, from simple two-axis plotters to big CNC routers, all tend to use Cartesian coordinate systems, where points on a plane are described by their distances from an origin point on two perpendicular axes. …read more

Amazing birdseye photos taken by pigeons a century ago

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In 1907, pharmacist and photography buff Dr. Julius Neubronner invented the “pigeon camera.” Neubronner attached his cameras, with a built-in shutter timer, to his own homing pigeons and let them fly. For most people, the birds’ photos provided a previously unseen view on the world. The images are collected in a new book, The Pigeon Photographer. From the New Yorker:

(Neubronner) showed his camera at international expositions, where he also sold postcards taken by the birds. Additionally, he developed a portable, horse-drawn dovecote, with a darkroom attached to it, which could be moved into proximity of whatever object or area the photographer hoped to capture from on high. These inventions represented a breakthrough at the time, allowing for surveillance with speed and range that was previously impossible. (Whether the cameras would actually capture the desired object, however, depended on luck and the whims of the pigeons.) The technology would soon be adapted for use in wartime—the cameras served as very early precursors to drones—although by the time of the First World War, just a few years later, airplanes were allowing people to do things that only pigeons could have done before.

(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

Reefer Madness: anthology of funny old weed-scare comic books

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My friend Craig Yoe, who is one of the most-knowledgeable comic book historians alive, edited an anthology of old comic book stories about the dangers of marijuana, called Reefer Madness. It came out today! These were the kind of sensationalists comic books Jeff Sessions would have read as young elf, if he’d had the sophistication and good taste to read comic books.

Here are a few sample pages:

Digital synesthesia

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Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman invented the Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer (VEST), a wearable tactile display that translates myriad kinds of information, from speech to sounds to digital data, into patterns of vibrations on the skin. The device was inspired by Eagleman’s study of synesthesia, the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another sensory pathway. From Smithsonian:

The neuroscientist believes that the versatility and plasticity of the brain make it fundamentally receptive to forming new pathways of sensory input. “The brain gets this information from the world, but the brain doesn’t actually have any way of knowing: were these photons, were these sound compression aids, was this pressure?” Eagleman says. As he explains it, the brain simply transforms these diverse stimuli into electrochemical spikes and uses these signals to create a mental representation of the world. The VEST would do this same work for all sorts of data by translating it into interpretable vibrations—giving its wearer a veritable “sixth sense.”

Eagleman is developing the VEST with an open API, so that others can experiment with the types of data it can convert into vibrations. “We’ve thought of 20 really cool things to feed in, which we’ve been experimenting with, but the community will think of 20,000 streams of data to feed in,” he says.

Huawei will bring the P20 series to Canada next month

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Huawei may be effectively banned in the US, but if you’re really interested in snagging the impressive P20, the company just announced that the new devices will be coming to neighboring Canada next month. According to Android Central, the Huawei P20, P20 Lite, and P20 Pro will be available through several Canadian telecoms, including Rogers, Bell, Telus, Fido, Virgin Mobile, Koodo, and Vidéotron, on May 17th.

Huawei has not confirmed pricing on these devices, but the P20 currently starts at €649 in Europe. Our senior editor Vlad Savov gave the premium P20 Pro high marks on its sleek design, huge battery life, and a camera that could eat the Pixel 2’s lunch, especially for low-light photography. While the devices do have the…

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San Francisco: Kronos Quartet’s Kronos Festival April 26-28

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Kronos Quartet, my favorite avant-garde classical group, is holding its Kronos Festival 2018 at San Francisco’s SF JAZZ Center next week, April 26-28. I’ve attended multiple Kronos Festivals and they are always wonderful performances, each one an enchanting introduction to global (and local) sounds that are wonderfully unfamiliar to me yet open my ears and mind to new artists and perspectives. This year, the festival features artist-in-residence David Coulter and guests San Francisco Girls Chorus, Vân-Ánh Võ, Zakir Hussain, Mahsa Vahdat, Trio Da Kali, Jolie Holland, and avant-folk duo CocoRosie!

Special note: The Saturday matinee concert, “Around the World with Kronos,” is meant for families with children ages 3 and up!

Here’s the full schedule: Kronos Festival 2018

If you read a lot or need books for research, Kindle Unlimited is a good deal

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Kindle Unlimited reminds a of Netflix. You get tons of all-you-can-eat content to choose from for a monthly fee, and the overall quality keeps getting better every year. I’ve been using Kindle Unlimited for a few years, and one of the best things about it is being able to download lots of non-fiction books and use them for research (I got a bunch of bitcoin and blockchain books that way). They also have lots of audio books. You can even get two of my books through Kindle Unlimited: Maker Dad and Trick Decks.

You can try it free for a month here. After that it’s $9.99 a month.

This Is Your Last Chance To Design The Greatest In Open Hardware

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This is the last weekend to get in on the Open Hardware Design Challenge, the first challenge of the 2018 Hackaday Prize. We’re looking for the boldest idea you can come up with. We want to see the beginnings of the next great bit of Open Hardware, and this is your chance to do it.

The Hackaday community has thrown itself into The Hackaday Prize and so far we have more than five hundred entries in the running to Build Hope and become the next great piece of Open Hardware. Next week, we’ll choose the top twenty projects to advance …read more

Amazon has made Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel DVDs and Blu-rays Prime exclusives

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If you want to buy one of the recent Star Wars or Marvel Cinematic Universe films on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon, you’re out of luck if you’re not a member of Amazon Prime. The online retailer has reserved a number of the home releases for the two franchises exclusively for purchase by Prime members.

Amazon has made some items exclusives for Prime members before, using the exclusivity to drive customers toward signing up for the $99-per-year membership. We’ve reached out to Amazon to see how long this will last. As of now, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, Ant-Man, The Avengers, Captain America: First Avenger, Winter Soldier, and Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Iron Man 3, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Thor: The Dark…

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eTextile Spring Break Tackles Signal Blocking, Audio Generation, and Radio Transmissions

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Finding a killer application for e-textiles is the realm of the hacker and within that realm, anything goes. Whether it’s protecting your digital privacy with signal shielding, generating audio with a wearable BeagleBone or 555 timer, or making your favorite garment into an antenna, the eTextile Spring Break is testing out ways to combine electronics and fabric.

You may be asking yourself “What are e-textiles good for?”. Well, that’s an excellent question and likely the most common one facing the industry today. I’m afraid I won’t be able to give a definitive answer. As an e-textile practitioner, I too am …read more

Online communication: “If you just message ‘hi’ and nothing else I assume I’m getting fired”

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I have a friend who used to always put “Mark” and only “Mark” in the subject line of emails to me. It vaguely bugged me but I never told him to stop. Then I found out he did it to a mutual friend and she told me it really freaked her out and she told him to stop. She said having email with nothing but her first name as the subject made it seem like the message was going to have ominous news and she was loathe to open it.

In as essay for The Outline, Casey Johnston shares a similar experience: a boss who slacked “hi!” and only “hi!” Johnstone thought this meant she was about to be fired.

“Hi” implies “I need to have a full conversation with you that you’re going to be present for,” which is never good. Once I respond, if she responds to my response fast enough, I can’t theoretically pretend to not have seen what she just said, because I was literally physically JUST there, responding; no one responds and then immediately logs off. Once I respond, she has me, but I don’t know what for. It’s like she has laid a trap that is very obviously a trap that I have to now just walk into knowing I’m about to get lit up for something. Except that I don’t, really, because all she said was “hi!”

All she wanted was for me to fix a misspelling of a source’s name in a piece. So I’m sorry, Erika, that I didn’t punctually respond to your “hi,” I was very busy having a heart attack.

If I got slacked “hi!” I wouldn’t mind. Getting a “hi” without an exclamation point would seem like bad news was about to come, though.

Image: By fizkes/Shutterstock

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