Putting the Pi In Piano

See the original posting on Hackaday

Working on a PhD in composition, [Stephen Coyle] spends a fair bit of time at his electric keyboard. Setting himself up to work can be a bit of a task, so he felt he could improve the process and make it easy as Pi.

Finding it an odious task indeed to use notation software, connecting his laptop to his keyboard is a must — avoiding a warren of wires in the move is a similar priority. And, what if he could take advantage of the iPad’s unique offerings too? Well, a Raspberry Pi Zero W running Ravelox — an RTP …read more

Nintendo is bringing Mario Kart to mobile

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 In news that will excite every Nintendo fan on the planet, the Japanese gaming giant just announced that it will bring its hugely popular Mario Kart series to mobile. Nintendo teased the upcoming development of ‘Mario Kart Tour’ which it said will be released sometime before March 2019. A long wait, indeed, and for now we have no additional details. But, for most enthusiasts,… Read More

Elon Musk has sold all his flamethrowers

See the original posting on The Verge

The definition of “late capitalism,” as far as I can tell, is all around us. It’s in the trees (which produce the fruits that wind up in your monthly-issued Juicero packs), in the water (pods, that is, which you pop into a different machine on your countertop), and even in the music (that pauses dramatically as Kendall Jenner solves police brutality with a Pepsi). But if you were hoping to get your own taste of it in the form of a flamethrower sold by a billionaire CEO with ambitions of turning humans into a multi-planetary species, I’m sorry to say that you, dear reader, are too late.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company, which currently more closely resembles Supreme than it does a transportation infrastructure outfit, sold its 20,000th (and…

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Nextdoor is expanding to France to connect neighbors

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 After a slow and steady expansion across the U.S., social platform Nextdoor is now launching its fourth country outside of its home country. Nextdoor is a sort of tiny Facebook for neighborhoods. It’s a good way to connect with your neighbors, exchange tips, buy and sell things and more.
“The launch of Nextdoor in France represents a critical step in our continued European expansion. Read More

Secret garden in an abandoned paper mill

See the original posting on Boing Boing

From afar, and even from its own dark and derelict lower floors, this abandoned paper mill in Sweden is much like any other disused factory. But found upstairs, on the second level up, is an amazing “garden” space, half-recovered by nature. Redditor IEatBasil, posting in the marvelous Abandonedporn forum, describes it as “probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to.”

This whole place was magical! It’s a big, overgrown paper mill in Sweden surrounded by trees. The first floor and the basement are like the usual amazing abandoned factories. But when you climb up on the steep, rusty stairs who’s probably seen better days, you enter this magical garden full of vivid colours. It’s astonishingly high up to the roof and the huge windows fill up the room with sunlight. It was truly amazing to be there.

And besides it there’s this that chimney you can walk into that stands almost 60 meters tall!

Photoset. What a splendid place to bug out to when the nukes fly and civilization collapses.

Router Rebooter Eliminates Hassles

See the original posting on Hackaday

Some low-end or older routers might get you a decent WiFi network in your house or apartment, but often these cheaply made devices are plagued with subtle software problems that cause the router itself to become unresponsive after a few days of operating. One solution is to just power cycle the router by hand whenever the Internet disappears, but a better solution is to build something that does that for you.

[Charlie] had this problem as the de facto IT person in his family, and didn’t want to keep getting bothered for such a simple problem. His solution involves a …read more

Reality TV is the New French Novel

See the original posting on Boing Boing

I’m a Reality TV producer.  I make the stuff.  Oh, go ahead, scripted television snob,  snark away,  I’ve heard it all before.  If it makes you feel any better, I’ll confess:  we have created a Monster. But why are rational Americans surprised by Trump?  Twenty years after The Truman Show sent up a cautionary flare about our obsessive self-regard,  we are now living in a reality TV show — a nation of over-sharers and  approval whores, each of us our own pathetic little  brand.   We’re all producers shooting our own docu-series now.  

So Reality TV has given us the worst president in living memory. There’s that.  Still and all, I will defend Reality TV as a viable and ground-breaking storytelling vehicle right up until the day Trump drops the big one on North Korea and I’m out of a job.   As a longtime  producer on The Bachelor and its numerous spin-offs, I’m here to point out that it’s time to stop dissing the genre and acknowledge it as a powerful narrative delivery system  that can hold its own with anything else in the streaming cosmos – I’m looking at you, Transparent.  

Just as Balzac and Zola’s novels savaged the petit bourgeois of 19th century France,  with its  inflated self-regard, it’s frivolous customs and status-hunger,  so Reality TV shows like The Real Housewives franchise do much the same. Reality TV is the new Comedie Humaine,  television as 19th century French Social Realist novel.  

This is not a popular position to take in Hollywood (first, you have to find someone who’s read Balzac).  As a Reality TV dude,  I am the recipient of condescension both subtle and overt.  And let’s not get started on my financier father, who is still trying to wrap his head around what I do and wonders why he doesn’t see more books coming from me (follow the money, Dad.)  

It’s time to debunk the theory that us Reality TV folk opted for the genre when our scripts didn’t sell. Some of us have Masters degrees from Ivy League schools. We not only read books, we write them. In other words, great storytelling for us is King beyond any shenanigans that might pull in ratings.   Many of us aspired to tell nonfiction stories and have documentary filmmaking and journalism backgrounds.  There is no shortage of smart, talented people working in Reality TV who are very aware of how and how not to unpack a Romantic narrative. And they really, really, enjoy the work.

Reality TV wasn’t my calling, but then again, had it existed as a college major in the late 80’s, I might have opted in.  I was contentedly zooming along as a print journalist when the Great Internet Upheaval siphoned off my dead tree media work,  making me feel like a Smart Car at a Monster Truck Rally.  My job as a freelance journalist in jeapordy, I made the decision to embed myself to a growth industry that valued what I did best – telling stories about real people and their problems.

Hence, my current career.

 At first I was as guilty of denigrating reality TV as the next Pynchon worshipper, and I’ll admit it felt like a step backwards.  But it didn’t take long to realize that Reality TV had things to teach me about landing a joke, or setting up and paying off conflict.  

Admitting to my writing colleagues that I had cast my lot with the TV format that gave us Sex Sent Me To The ER  was another matter.   While they were sweating out their novels, I was writing wrap scripts for Bachelor host Chris Harrison.  They scoffed, but I knew my words would be heard by more people than would ever read their books.   And doesn’t a writer ultimately want his words to resonate, even if it’s for Bachelor viewing parties?

And the Internet – the very thing that cratered my journalism career – has now become my BFF.  Social media has leveled the cultural playing field, even in this Golden Era of  scripted TV;  The Bachelor generates as much Twitter traffic as The Walking Dead   I’m producing shows for an audience that really cares about whether Vanessa and Nick will actually get married (shame on you if you don’t get that reference!)   Whether its detractors like it or not, The Bachelor is a huge driver of the Zeitgeist.

Why?  Reality TV’s narrative is appealingly indeterminate. Our audience doesn’t want dialogue, actors or directors – they want their drama unmediated and messy.  Not messy as in unstructured – more on that in a minute – but as in unpredictable.  It’s kind of like watching a great sporting event.  Contingency creates the frisson of not knowing,  and that’s gold.  

To call Reality TV the opiate of the fly-by states is to severely misjudge it. That attitude is reductive and ignorant;  it’s Trumpian thinking (The Bachelor’s number one market is New York, by the way.)    The format is already 25 years old,  and like all maturing art forms, it has sprouted specific subgenres: Harridans in Revolt (The Real Housewives of wherever);  Artisanal Smackdown ( Top Chef, Project Runway), Schadenfreude (The Biggest Loser, Teen Mom ) and so on. With an established reality TV show like The Bachelor,  certain leitmotifs materialize over time. It’s akin to working in genre fiction.  There are things viewers expect to see;  the rose ceremony, the fantasy suite, and the 2 on 1 date are as essential to Bachelor fans as the zanni and innamorati are to Commedia dell’arte. The challenge lies in keeping things lively within the format. It’s not easy;  you don’t just point cameras at train wrecks with Adderall issues.  Because it’s unscripted,  Reality TV  is an act of improvisation – the Ornette Coleman kind.   For those who think the inverse is true, and that it’s pre-meditated and ‘soft scripted’, I would say:  you’re giving us far too much credit.  

As to the ontological debate about what constitutes “reality” on Reality TV, I will say that it’s all too real.  Of course cast members know they are being filmed, but it’s astonishing how unfettered on-camera behavior can be when real feelings are at stake. After all,  The MOST SHOCKING MOMENT IN BACHELOR HISTORY occurred in 2008 when Bachelor Jason Mesnick, after asking erstwhile Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft to marry him,  pulled a fast one after the season had been shot and wound up rejecting Melissa for  Molly Malaney on the post-show After The Final Rose special in front of millions of delightedly confused viewers. (It was our version of the LaLa Land-Moonlight Oscars mix up.)   We were blindsided by it, but it turned out to be a highwater mark for the show, and it was real, folks:  no one without a SAG card has acting chops that sharp.   

The truth is, Reality TV was a tremendous uptick for me – it continues to be the best and steadiest money I’ve ever made.  It’s also the most fun I’ve ever had with a paycheck attached. Trump might only have a few more years left, but Reality TV is an irrefutable fact of life and it’s not going away.  And one other thing: I know you’re a closet Bachelor fan.  Don’t worry, you’re secret is safe with me.  

The Awl bids farewell

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Alex Balk: The Awl, 2009-2018.

The surprise shouldn’t be that The Awl didn’t last, it should be that it lasted as long as it did. And now it’s dead. The archives will remain up, but I hope they degrade in the way everything on the Internet does and that eventually they sink into the vast sea of undiscoverable content so that a decade from now one of you can look at a young person who is ignoring you while she stares at her phone and say, “You can’t find it anymore, but the most amazing thing on the Internet was The Awl. It’s impossible to believe something that incredible existed.” And since everything will have disappeared no one will be able to dispute it. If we wait around long enough our legacy will be legend. We’ll secretly know the truth, but it won’t make any difference then, will it?

Thank you, in advance, for lying about how amazing we were. And thank you, right now, for your attention. You will never know how much it meant.

Now that we all know that the internet dissolves everything, not just bad things, perhaps it never deserved The Awl in the first place. The Awl implies a web that was never really lost because it never existed or could exist, a (wonderfully) conservative vision of the medium’s potential to not be what it is. Yet for nearly ten years they proved that things implicit, things never really lost, things hoped for, the unrepressed sublime, can still be.

Nintendo confirms it’s working on a Mario movie with the studio behind Minions

See the original posting on The Verge

Mario, meet Minions. Today Nintendo confirmed reports that it’s working on an animated Super Mario movie with Illumination, the animation studio behind movies like Despicable Me and Minions. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the deal back in November. There’s little in the way of details about the film, but it’s being co-produced by Shigeru Miyamoto — the creator of Mario and many other iconic Nintendo characters — and Chris Meledandri, best-known for his work on the Despicable Me franchise.

There’s no word on when the movie will hit theaters, but Super Mario fever is at a high following the successful launch of Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch, which the company says has sold more than 9 million copies since its…

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A new study of Airbnb paints an ugly picture of the company’s impact on New York City housing

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 For anyone who knows their city well, it’s easy to see that the short-term rental boom spurred by Airbnb’s massive popularity is changing things. Figuring out what exactly is changing and how quickly is trickier. In New York, those changes are have kept Airbnb and city regulators engaged in a multi-year war over what’s really good for the city. A new deep dive into the… Read More

Junk Build Printer Uses Pencil To Print

See the original posting on Hackaday

Sometimes, it is interesting to see what you can build from the bits that you have in your junk drawer. [Dr West] decided to build a printer with spare parts including a hard drive, a scanner base and an Arduino. The result is a rather cool printer that prints out the image using a pencil, tapping the image out one dot at a time. The software converts the image into an array, with 0 representing white and 1 representing black. The printer itself works a bit like an old-school CRT TV: the scanner array moves the printer along a horizontal …read more

Gucci made its own horrifying custom ‘Year of the Dog’ Animoji

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Gucci became the first fashion house to release custom Animoji today, made specially for Chinese New Year. Unlike standard Apple-made Animoji, Gucci’s can be accessed within its mobile app, which also houses all the Gucci content, from fashion show footage and wallpapers to a photo booth that lets you stick chic stickers onto your photos.

The pair of Animoji dogs are based on Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s own Boston terriers, Bosco and Orso. The app explains that the Animoji are inspired by artworks by Unskilled Worker, a Gucci collaborator.

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Watch what it actually looks like when CRISPR snips a strand of DNA

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 The CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique is an important concept to know about in these days of biotech advances, but it can be pretty difficult to visualize properly. Is it really like molecular scissors? Where does the DNA go? Is it a big molecule or a small one? Fortunately a group has created a 3D animation of the process that shows it at the molecular level. Read More

Soraa’s new light bulbs skip the smart home and focus on the science of the color spectrum

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Everyone’s trying to build a better light bulb. These days, that means things like adjustable colors and smart home connectivity. Bay Area startup Soraa is skipping all the noise for the moment, instead making color its primary focus. For five years, the company’s been producing products for places like art galleries and hotels, where color balance is a big part of the experience. Read More

Repairs You Can Print: Racing the Clock for a Dishwasher Fix

See the original posting on Hackaday

No matter how mad your 3D printing skills may be, there comes a time when it makes more sense to order a replacement part than print it. For [billchurch], that time was the five-hour window he had to order an OEM part online and have it delivered within two days. The race was on — would he be able to model and print a replacement latch for his dishwasher’s detergent dispenser, or would suffer the ignominy of having to plunk down $30 for a tiny but complicated part?

As you can probably guess, [bill] managed to beat the clock. But …read more

GoPro’s Plus subscription service now offers replacements of broken cameras

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Whether the action cam business can alone sustain the GoPro business is going to at least rely on them continuing to dominate it and find new revenue streams within it. Part of this strategy will be continuing to refine the company’s $4.99 per month subscription service, GoPro Plus. The company is announcing changes to the service that should make it a bit more worthy of your money. Read More

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