Artisans revive the polissoir, a nearly-forgotten woodworking tool

See the original posting on Boing Boing

André Roubo’s series on carpentry called L’Art du Menuisier mentions a polissior, a small device made of broom straw for polishing wood. In the two centuries since Roubo’s book, the device had faded from memory until a couple of years ago, when Don Williams recreated one from an illustration in Roubo’s book. It turned out to work amazingly well. (more…)

Sonos Alarms Are Waking Users a Day Early

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Waking up to your favorite music is always nice, but it becomes rather annoying when you can” turn off said alarm. From a report on Engadget: That’s exactly what Sonos users are experiencing and one editor on our staff dealt with the headache first hand. In fact, the alarms are also going off a day early, meaning Saturday wake-up calls were playing this morning. The company posted in its forums this morning that it’s looking into the issue and recommends users delete all alarms from the Sonos app for right now. As our editor and many others have experienced, deleting the alarms is the only way to make them stop. We’ll have to wait for official word on the cause, but alarms set for December 31st going off on December 30th could be a New Year’s or Leap Year bug. Back in 2011, Apple had a problem with iPhone alarms not working correctly on January 1st.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Has the Internet Killed Curly Quotes?

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Glenn Fleishman, writing for The Atlantic: Many aspects of website design have improved to the point that nuances and flourishes formerly reserved for the printed page are feasible and pleasing. But there’s a seemingly contrary motion afoot with quotation marks: At an increasing number of publications, they’ve been ironed straight. This may stem from a lack of awareness on the part of website designers or from the difficulty in a content-management system (CMS) getting the curl direction correct every time. It may also be that curly quotes’ time has come and gone. Major periodicals have fallen prey, including those with a long and continuing print edition. Not long ago, Rolling Stone had straight quotes in its news-item previews, but educated them for features; the “smart” quotes later returned. Fast Company opts generally for all “dumb” quotes online, while the newborn digital publication The Outline recently mixed straight and typographic in the same line of text at its launch. Even the fine publication you’re currently reading has occasionally neglected to crook its pinky.(Via DaringFireball — John’s take on this is insightful.) At Slashdot, we also avoid curly quotes — and when we miss, you see them as weird characters on the site!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Consumer Reports Stands By Its Verdict, Won’t Recommend Apple’s MacBook Pro

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Consumer Reports took many by surprise last week — certainly Apple — when it said it doesn’t recommend the company’s new MacBook Pro models. The American magazine, which has garnered credibility over 80 years of its existence, said battery life on Apple’s new laptops was all over the place — hitting 19 hours in a test, but less than four hours in another. Last week, Apple’s VP of Marketing, Phil Schiller insisted that Consumer Reports’ findings didn’t match the company’s field data, and that Apple was working with Consumer Reports to understand its review. Now Consumer Reports has responded: The nonprofit organization is standing by its initial verdict in which it did not give the MacBook Pro (2016) its “recommended” rating. The organization has now said it doesn’t think re-running the tests will change anything. “In this case, we don’t believe re-running the tests are warranted for several reasons. First, as we point out in our original article, experiencing very high battery life on MacBooks is not unusual for us — in fact we had a model in our comparative tests that got 19 hours,” it said. “Second, we confirmed our brightness with three different meters, so we feel confident in our findings using this equipment. Finally, we monitor our tests very closely. There is an entry logged every minute, so we know from these entries that the app worked correctly,” it added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Foxconn Boosting Automated Production in China

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Foxconn Electronics is automating production at its factories in China in three phases, aiming to fully automate entire factories eventually, according to general manager Dai Jia-peng for Foxconn’s Automation Technology Development Committee. From a report on DigiTimes: In the first phase, Foxconn aims to set up individual automated workstations for work that workers are unwilling to do or is dangerous, Dai said. Entire production lines will be automated to decrease the number of robots used during the second phase, Dai noted. In the third phase, entire factories will be automated with only a minimal number of workers assigned to production, logistics, testing and inspection processes, Dai indicated.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Want to avoid sky-high Uber and Lyft fares on New Year’s Eve? Leave early or leave late

See the original posting on LA Times Technology

New Year’s Eve revelers hoping to avoid exorbitant Uber and Lyft fares should steer clear of the services between midnight and 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day, according to the two San Francisco companies, which anticipate rider demand will drive up prices during those hours.

In major cities, the firms…

The tech rituals of 2016

See the original posting on The Verge

Getting faster phones, better cameras, and marginally less functional laptops each year isn’t the only way technology transforms our lives. Our habits around that technology grow and evolve right alongside those gigabytes and gigaflops. So we decided to rank some of our favorite and favorite-to-hate-on tech rituals of this year and see what’s dying out, what might be sticking around, and what’s new on the horizon of weird ways humans approach technology.

Downswing

  • Typing the letter “f” in chrome and having it autocomplete to FiveThirtyEight’s Polls-plus forecast.
  • Calling mom for her cable credentials so you can watch Game of Thrones.
  • Making sure your iPhone doesn’t drop to 30% battery because it will crash.
  • Sliding to…

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HBO’s documentary about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds will debut January 7th

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Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds will premiere at 8PM ET on January 7th, HBO announced in a press release this morning.

The announcement comes after the unexpected deaths of both stars this week. Legendary Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher died on Tuesday, following a heart attack aboard an airplane on Christmas Day. Her mother, Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds, died the next day following a stroke.

Bright Lights debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May to positive reviews, and was originally set to be released on HBO in March 2017.

The documentary is about the unique working relationship the two forged over six decades in Hollywood, and most of the footage was…

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Here’s how to make that adorable Stormtrooper doll from Rogue One

See the original posting on The Verge

In the earliest scenes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we see a young Jyn Erso make a last moment escape from her family farm. With imperial soldiers landing in her front yard, she shoves some supplies and toys into her backpack. One of the toys left behind is a stormtrooper doll, which appears in a couple of the film’s promotional photos. Now, you can buy one of these toys, thanks to an enterprising maker on Etsy.

Jyn called the doll Stormy, according to the novelization, and abandoned it in her flight. It’s extremely simple to put together yourself for fans who prefer to be crafty. One maker took to Instructables with directions. You’ll need some clay, some string, and some patience.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of…

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LG’s Hub Robot sounds like a mobile Amazon Echo

See the original posting on TechCrunch

lg-smartthinq-hub-1-1024x926 LG and Samsung have really taken advantage of the calm before the CES storm by teasing out their product announcements, one by one. LG’s certainly ahead in terms of sheer strangeness here, having already announced a floating speaker and a wearable speaker collar.
The Seoul-based electronics giant will also apparently be showing off a bunch of robots at the show. It’s not the… Read More

2016 as a horror movie parody is a dumb idea, but there is one good joke in there

See the original posting on The Verge

A horror movie parody of 2016 is not funny to me, broadly speaking, because lots of people really did die, and as many have already pointed out, calling 2016 “the worst year ever” is a feeble accusation when almost everything that went wrong was our own fault. Also, ooooh baby, the next four years will be much, much worse.

2016 as the worst year ever is an overplayed meme, and was never a fun one. So I did not expect to find 2016: The Movie, a parody horror movie trailer made by Friend Dog Studios, funny. And it really isn’t. Lol, celebrities died. Lol, “did you remember to vote?!!?” Lol, the Mannequin Challenge. I’m not laughing, buddy!

A creepy children’s chorus singing “Auld Lang Syne?” Okay, I’m chuckling a little bit but only…

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The Verge 2016 tech report card: Tesla

See the original posting on The Verge

In 2016, Tesla started to move into adulthood. Though the company hasn’t been a startup for years (Tesla was founded in 2003), it’s still a small fish in the world of car manufacturers. But it’s getting bigger, and as it grows, Tesla is becoming a large company with consequential responsibilities.

Grown-up companies can no longer blame problems on youth and inexperience. While Tesla has been experiencing some growing pains, especially around the rollout of the Model X, overall things seem to be going according to plan. Whether things will continue to go according to plan is the great question for 2017.

At the beginning of this year, Tesla predicted it would deliver between 80,000 and 90,000 cars during 2016. Though we won’t see the final…

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How can humans clean up our space junk?

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Humans filled waterways, landfills, and streets with trash, so it’s no surprise the same thing happened in Earth’s orbital neighborhood. Now our species will finally take a crack at cleaning up.

Some missions focus on dead satellites, aiming to catch them with robotic arms, spear them with harpoons, or slow them with sails or tethers. Others aim for smaller pieces with lasers or stick to them with adhesive. It’s all an effort to keeping low-Earth orbit, the region up to 1,200 miles from the surface, usable. “Keeping all this litter in space, it’s like litter on the floor,” said Jason Forshaw a research fellow at the University of Surrey. “It’s becoming more of a risk.”

The next few missions are…

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CES 2016 was as drab as the rest of the year

See the original posting on The Verge

Probably the best thing you can say about 2016 is that it sets up 2017 to be an awesome improvement no matter what happens. Then again, 2016 itself started on a highly optimistic note, having succeeded the bland 2015 and started with the traditional gala event of the tech calendar that was the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. CES 2016 was the January harbinger of what was to come: we thought it’d be a fresh dose of techno optimism, with a shot or two of smarter cars and homes, but it ended up a distressing series of unhappy events. So let’s look back on it! (If only for the sake of closure.)

Amelia Holowaty Krales

HP EliteBook Folio

Laptops promised much, but delivered a great deal less

When we, The…

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SpaceX loads Iridium satellites for first Falcon 9 mission since explosion

See the original posting on TechCrunch

spacex-iridium The payload is now on board for SpaceX’s first return to launch following its September 1 explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket on a launchpad during fueling. The proposed launch, which is currently awaiting clearance by the FAA for a launch window that opens January 7 and goes through January 9. A return to flight for SpaceX would be a big step forward in terms of the private spacefaring… Read More

Kissenger “simulates” kissing loved ones

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Touted as Earth’s “first mobile kiss messenger,” Kissenger is a rubbery-looking dock that humans put their phones in. It has a tactile surface they depress with their meat. The movements are then transmitted in realtime over the internet, so that a replica of them may be experienced by another human.

Plug in to your phone and give your loved ones a kiss over the Internet. Kissenger can sense your kiss and transmit realistic kissing sensations to your partner in real time. You can also feel the force on your lips when your partner kisses you back. Share an intimate moment with your friends and families while chatting with them on your phone.

The device comprises six sensors, corresponding actuators, and a meat-colored silicone sheath. There’s an app that goes with it so the humans can interact on a audiovisual-discursive level at the same time. It’s at the prototype stage with nothing to buy, yet, but obviously we should keep an eye on this. It should suffice to say that our previous recommendations with respect to establishing contact with this species have not changed.

High precision force sensors are embedded under the silicon lip to measure the dynamic forces at different parts of your lips during a kiss. The device sends this data to your phone, which transmits it to your partner over the Internet in real time. Miniature linear actuators are used to reproduce these forces on your partner’s lips, creating a realistic kissing sensation. Kissenger provides a two-way interaction just like in a real kiss. You can also feel your partner’s kiss on your lips when they kiss you back.

[via The Verge]

Microsoft Foresees AR Tracking Your Keys, Milk, Entire Life

See the original posting on Slashdot

Want a virtual assistant that means you won’t lose anything ever again? A patent application filed by Microsoft hints at that future. From a report on CNET: The technology described in the patent filing, published Thursday, would bring sophisticated, automatic object tracking to augmented reality. A cousin of VR, which creates an entirely digital experience, augmented (or mixed) reality blends the real and virtual worlds into a seamless experience — think Pokemon Go. One of the challenges for more advanced augmented reality is that a system would need to track not only you as a user, but also the other objects in your environment. Microsoft’s patent document suggests a technology that would do just that. The new tech would fit neatly with Microsoft’s own HoloLens augmented reality platform. As AR becomes more common, it could lead to a future in which you can ask Cortana (or Siri or Alexa) where you left your shoes or if you’re out of eggs.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Verge 2016 tech report card: Uber

See the original posting on The Verge

The Verge published an estimated 165 articles about Uber in 2016. To me, that seems low. So much Uber-related news happened this year, it boggles my mind: Lawsuits, self-driving cars, a new logo, new app, more lawsuits, new community guidelines, a murder spree, self-driving trucks, and finally, the first Uber gadget.

In many ways, the company strengthened its stranglehold on the ride-sharing industry by making deals and releasing products at a furious pace, all with the purpose of remaining the most widely used transportation service on the planet. Lyft and other competitors stayed in the game, and will remain a prominent thorn in Uber’s side, but there’s…

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