Mike Harrison at the Superconference: Flying LCD Pixels

See the original posting on Hackaday

Mike Harrison, perhaps better known to us as the titular Mike of YouTube channel mikeselectricstuff, is a hardware hacking genius. He’s the man behind this year’s Superconference badge, and his hacks and teardowns have graced our pages many times. The best thing about Mike is that his day job is designing implausibly cool one-off hardware for large-scale art installations. His customers are largely artists, which means that they just don’t care about the tech as long as it works. So when he gets together with a bunch of like-minded hacker types, he’s got a lot of pent-up technical details that …read more

This sprawling Final Fantasy XV art book is too big for your bookshelf

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Just over a year ago, Square Enix released the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV. The game was a weird and wonderful mash-up of worlds; part futuristic, while still retaining the fantasy elements so intrinsic to the series; part typical role-playing epic, but set against the backdrop of a heart-warming road trip. The end result was a bit of a mess, but compelling nonetheless, and the experience has continued to grow over the months with multiple expansions and updates.

If you’re curious how that world came together, though, Dutch art gallery Cook & Becker just released a fantastic new book that details the work of the artists behind the game. It’s a huge tome that includes everything from lush concept paintings to rough, hand-drawn maps of…

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I rode Amtrak’s Coast Starlight the wrong direction. I still loved it.

See the original posting on Boing Boing

“Toot toot!” I yelled, as my friends and I were delayed and waiting around at the San Francisco Bay Area’s Emeryville Station, waiting for the Amtrak Coast Starlight train to arrive.

I was being paid $1 every time I yelled “toot toot!”

The train was probably my idea. I am not sure why I’m reluctant to take credit, but I’ve always wanted to ride Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Trip Advisor says the Coast Starlight is the 1050th most fun thing to do in California. Also, I like slow travel. I drive a goddamn VW Vanagon when I go on vacation, and that should tell you enough.

Some friends and I were heading to see Puddles Pity Party in Los Angeles that weekend. We’d all traveled from the Bay Area south to the City of Fallen Angeles so many times in 2017, we needed a break from driving and airports. Amtrak seemed like a great adventure. I like adventure.

I did not consider, however, that the coast part of the Coast Starlight, at least on the SF to LA leg of the trip, would be transited at night. As in, when it is dark. And you can’t see. I did see some interesting California scenery, and experience what may be the very best Amtrak has to offer, but this isn’t a review of the LA to SF trip, which is actually lets you see the coast.

Our train was two hours late. Surprised? Luckily, I had packed a bunch of edibles and some pre-rolled joints. Just outside the San Francisco Bay Area’s Emeryville Station is a fantastic place to pause and not care so very much about your schedule. Honestly, if you are gonna take a train — this is the way to fly. There are also ‘smoke stops’ along the route, just ask your conductor.

When the Coast Starlight arrives, passengers have to find their train car fast. We were traveling in business class, which meant that our door would be the farthest down the line. The business class car is sandwiched between the dining and observation cars, both of which are AWESOME on a 12 hour journey to Los Angeles. We were seated, handed complimentary bottles of water, and we experienced PLENTY of space for the first time in recent travel memory. Each person in our party of four was able to take a full 2 business class seats and spread out. There were very few other passengers in this $30 a person more car. What you get for that $30 extra seems to be SPACE, a $6 voucher off food (which you will use) and a bit of priority in making dining car reservations. Once we were seated on what we assumed would be the view side of the train, it was time to explore.

The snack shop is in the bottom of the observation car. The observation car is a great, though slightly less comfortable, place to sit, read and watch the scenery go by. I spent several hours here, with headphones in and Kindle out. Occasionally you’ll look up and stare in marvel for a bit at how beautiful California is, even in its inland valleys. Most of the first 7 or 8 hours, the rails parallel the 101. You get a very different view, as the train tracks are typically sandwiched on either side by farms. I was struck by the cruelty of chicken farms, the beauty of rolling past rows of worked farmland, and the sheer number of homeless encampments.

The dining car is a fantastic experience. If you are traveling in a group smaller than four, you will be seated with others. You will meet an amazing blend of folks traveling on America’s trains. All sorts of folks are on Amtrak, and you have nothing but time to get to know them! I met some Mennonites and a really large dude who was too big to fly on an aeroplane. That big dude had a “Leeeeroy Jeeeeeeenkis” ID tag hanging off his duffle, so I immediately knew he was cool.

While the people are colorful, the food is bland. You will find hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, fish and steak on the menu. The food is better than anything I’ve had in First Class on an international airplane trip — but its still nothing to write home about. I’d put Amtrak dining at about Disney in park concession quality. The prices aren’t bad and the service is SUPER. Happily, Amtrak also carries an assortment of bottled beers and boxed wines. There were some “mixed” drinks available, but I’d seen them come from cans in the snack shop, so I passed.

The snack shop has some stuff, but I suggest packing your own, especially if you get the munchies. Amtrak’s got beer, wine, sodas, candies and chips in a very limited selection. Curling up comfortably in your big old double armchair, with some great snacks, music and a book for 3-4 hours is totally do-able, but may take some planning if you are picky.

There is a special bar and dining car for people in sleeper cars. As a business class passenger it seems you MAY be invited in for a wine and cheese tasting IF there is space, but on my journey the 1% bastards in sleeper cars sucked up all the fine wine. Even our conductor couldn’t pull off a quick photo tour for me. It is supposedly a real old timey train parlour car. I can not wait to see all the comments in this blog post telling me how I wasted a 12 hour trip by missing it.

The staff are all wonderful people. I think our conductor Joseph was living his dream. While I merely yelled “toot toot!” over and over again, Joseph displayed mastery at yelling “All Aboard!”

He also made sure our trip was wonderful. The service folks in the dining car and snack shop all seemed to be having the time of their lives, and were super happy to help you. I’ve never seen people so happy to be at work. Really. Amtrak!

The Coast Starlight pulled along the pitch black southern California coast, where we saw a few oil rigs, and then pulled into LA’s fabled Union Station. It is ghastly ugly from the arrivals view point. The showpiece building is lovely, but you walk through a lot of rusted corrugated metal to get there.

I loved Amtrak and am looking forward to taking another trip, however, I’ll look more carefully at the schedule and routes before future trips. South to North is the way for the Coast Starlight.

I think Jim owes me about $12 for all the “Toot toots!”

Also, this was stuck in my head the entire trip.

The Walking Dead Villain Watch season 8, episode 8: How It’s Gotta Be

See the original posting on The Verge

The Walking Dead is back, and for us here at The Verge, that’s an opportunity to examine just how effective the show can be in creating a complex villain. As played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, big bad Negan has always been violent. But thanks to his man-baby antics, he’s stubbornly remained a comic book thug, never becoming the nuanced character the show so sorely needs.

Each week, I’ll be analyzing the show through its presentation of Negan: how he acts, how he delivers his jokes and threats, and most importantly, how his character develops in contrast to our supposedly virtuous heroes. We’ll look at all the traits a villain is supposed to excel at, including those we detest, and boil it down into one single score on what we are calling the…

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Google launches Star Wars augmented reality stickers for the Pixel and Pixel 2

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After announcing them back in October, Google is launching its augmented reality stickers on the Pixel and Pixel 2 this week. The stickers are cute 3D creatures that appear inside of photos and videos taken in Google’s camera app using new AR tech to appear like they’re really in the scene.

To make the whole thing a bit more fun, Google is launching the feature with two branded sticker sets: Stranger Things and Star Wars. You’ll be able to pull up cartoon versions of the Stranger Things kids and the Demogorgon (with season one outfits — so probably no punk Eleven), as well as a handful of Star Wars characters and creatures, including stormtroopers, R2-D2, BB-8, and porgs.

Google also has a…

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Zyper thinks ‘micro influencers’ are the future of online advertising

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Advocacy marketing — the idea of getting existing customers to talk about your company and its products — is nothing new, but as marketing spend has shifted online, a number of startups have tried to figure out ways of making it more scalable. One such company is Zyper, founded by Amber Atherton, who previously featured in British reality TV show “Made in Chelsea”. Read More

Augmented reality treasure hunting app Seek pivots to become a hub for AR projects

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 One year after launching at South by Southwest with an augmented reality treasure hunting app, the Utah-based startup Seek has returned with an update transforming its service into a “YouTube for AR”. Rather than being focused on disappearing, site-specific augmented reality experiences, the company now wants to be a hub where developers can post their augmented reality projects… Read More

An Introduction to Node.js

See the original posting on DZone Python

Introduction

Node.js is an application framework and sometimes is referred to as a runtime, through which applications are built using the JavaScript programming language. Node.js is well known for its speed, due to the fact that it is non-blocking. Further, being non-blocking means one request does not wait for the other request to finish (i.e it is asynchronous). The asynchronicity is what makes Node.js the framework that it is today in terms of throughput, unlike Java application servers which are mostly blocking each request that is bound to a thread and as soon as there are no more threads available the server almost always stops receiving requests.

In this article, we will discover some aspects of Node.js. We will do so by discussing some topics such as: uses cases of Node.js, how Node.js achieves concurrency, and its main design pattern.  

What You Need To Know About The Intel Management Engine

See the original posting on Hackaday

Over the last decade, Intel has been including a tiny little microcontroller inside their CPUs. This microcontroller is connected to everything, and can shuttle data between your hard drive and your network adapter. It’s always on, even when the rest of your computer is off, and with the right software, you can wake it up over a network connection. Parts of this spy chip were included in the silicon at the behest of the NSA. In short, if you were designing a piece of hardware to spy on everyone using an Intel-branded computer, you would come up with something like …read more

Amazon adds music alarms to Alexa

See the original posting on The Verge

Amazon announced today that Alexa has been updated to include support for music alarms. So instead of just asking Alexa to set an alarm for you, you’ll be able to request specific songs, playlists, artists, or genres to get you out of bed in the morning.

The new feature supports a variety of music services to use as alarm tones, including Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, SiriusXM, and iHeartRadio. You’ll be able to request songs in the same way that you can for regular playback, meaning that requests as specific as “Alexa, wake me up at 7AM to Beyoncé,” or as vague as “Alexa, wake me up to ’80s music at 8AM” will all work.

The new music alarm feature should be available today on Amazon Echos or any Alexa device.

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Trivia game HQ finally has a competitor called The Q

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It was only a matter of time before HQ Trivia had competitors. The live mobile trivia game show for iOS has skyrocketed in popularity in the four months it’s been around, seeing hundreds of thousands of people log into the twice-daily game to win as much as $10,000. Now, The Q — short for “The Question” — has arrived to try and cement its position as a competitor before HQ makes it to Android.

The Q was founded by Will Jamieson, the CEO of video platform Stream. Originally, Jamieson wanted to collaborate with HQ during some of its earlier growth issues, which saw the game continually lagging and crashing as it increased in popularity. “[We] thought they would be a perfect fit for our enterprise video offering at Stream,” Jamieson told T…

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Airbnb wants to offer virtual reality previews of rental spots

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Airbnb is developing virtual and augmented reality features to help guests find and navigate rental listings, the company announced on its blog today. Three-dimensional scans and 360-degree photos would allow users to get a better sense of a listing, and augmented reality overlays could help guests better understand the homes on a smaller scale once they’re in it. The company has been looking into VR to build trust between guests and hosts since last year, and this announcement confirming experiments and prototypes could mean a feature is coming soon.

It makes sense to take a look around a listing in VR before booking, but Airbnb also lists a few instances where augmented reality might be helpful during your trip. If you’re staying…

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Google’s new Star Wars AR stickers put Porgs everywhere

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 After months of teasing, Google’s finally brought its AR stickers to the Pixel 2. For most users with the company’s latest flagship handset, the feature will be available today as part of an Android 8.1 update. The feature was announced on-stage at the Pixel event back in January, offering a sneak peek of a fun little addition made possible through its ARCore technology, letting… Read More

Amazon Alexa can now wake you up to music

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 This fall, Amazon made a play to become your new alarm clock with the introduction of a combination smart speaker and clock called the Echo Spot. Today, the company is adding a new feature that will make the Spot – or any other Alexa device – function more like a traditional radio alarm clock, with the introduction of music alarms. According to Amazon, Alexa device owners can… Read More

Forklift drivers block in a car driven by suspected tool thives

See the original posting on Boing Boing

In this video, we see some men park a red car, get out, and help themselves to some free tools in a white van parked next to them. But the tools weren’t actually free, and when someone runs runs over to tell the men that economic theories advocating collective ownership of goods are riddled with logical flaws, the men jump in their car and start to drive away. But the forklift drivers sense something is wrong and spring into action, deftly maneuvering their forklifts to block the egresses. I wonder what the folks in the red car where saying to each other as this was happening?

Smart Station Runs Entertainment, Is Entertainment

See the original posting on Hackaday

It’s that special time of year—time for the parade of student projects from [Bruce Land]’s embedded microcontroller design course at Cornell. [Timothy], [Dhruv], and [Shaurya] are all into remote sensing and control applications, so they built a smart station that combines audiovisual entertainment with environmental sensing.

As with the other projects in this course, the smart station is built on a PIC32 dev board. It does Bluetooth audio playback via RN-52 module and has a beat-matching light show in the form of a NeoPixel ring mounted atop the 3D-printed enclosure. But those blinkenlights aren’t just there to party. They also …read more

The 2018 Golden Globes continue tradition by totally ignoring female directors

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The nominations for the 2018 Golden Globes were announced this morning. Let’s see if you can spot the commonality among your options for Best Director!

Here they are: Guillermo del Toro (Shape of Water), Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Ridley Scott (All the Money in the World), Steven Spielberg (The Post). Great, yes. They are all men.

Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird is nominated for Best Musical or Comedy at the awards show. It was lauded in The New York Times as a “perfect” movie, won Best Film from the New York Film Critics Circle, and has broken box office records for an indie movie with a release of its size. Gerwig was nominated for Best Screenplay, and Saoirse…

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Flying cars don’t exist yet, but one company already wants to race them in the desert

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An Australian startup called Alauda came out of stealth mode this week to announce its plans to host the world’s first “flying car” race in 2019. It built its own scaled-down prototype, a racecar-shaped quadcopter called the Alauda Mark 1 Airspeeder, that it plans on testing in 2018. And naturally it’s taken to Kickstarter to raise money to fund all its efforts.

It’s a twist on the typical story we hear these days about flying cars. While most engineers and developers think the only possible use case for these vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOLs) — which are really just oversized drones, when you think about it — is some sort of aerial taxi service, Alauda is going in a different direction. Its focus is on speed and sport. Its…

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MakeX announces the first 3D-printing backpack

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 In the year 2020, when the Earth is overrun by aliens, it will be mandated by the Galactic Council of Extraterrestrial Life that all children must walk around with 3D-printing backpacks. Why not get a head start with the MakeX Migo backpack that lets you care your ultra small 3D printer anywhere you need to go? This wild, see-through backpack is designed to hold a Migo 3D Printer (the thing… Read More

Here is the first official Ready Player One trailer

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Ready Player One, the Ernest Cline book sensation that was, in part, the inspiration for Oculus VR, has been turned into a movie ready to hit the big screen in March. And today, we’ve gotten the first official trailer for the movie. There are some very mild spoiler alerts ahead, so if you’re hyper sensitive you can click this link to watch the trailer without reading on. Ready… Read More

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