Grow your skills before the year ends with these eBook collections

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Need a boost on that resume? Get a valuable tech education on your own time with these eBook bundles. They contain guides from Packt Publishing that cover everything from game development to machine learning.

The Complete Mobile App Developer eBook Bundle

It’s a veritable gold rush in the App Store these days. Get in on it and develop your own killer app using Xamarin, JQuery and other platforms. This 10-book master class covers the entire development process from scripting to marketing.

MSRP: $223.90

Sale Price: $19.99 (91% off)

The Machine Learning Mastery eBook Bundle

This bundle simplifies the complex algorithms you need to kick off the process of machine learning, the technology powering voice recognition, self-driving cars, and more cutting-edge innovations. The eBooks here include broad overviews of the core concepts plus dedicated courses on Python and other essential tools.

MSRP: $223.90

Sale Price: $19.99 (91% off)

The A to Z Artificial Intelligence eBook Bundle

Master the growing field of AI, and you can work smarter by teaching your computers to work harder. There are applications for artificial intelligence in the worlds of robotics, big business, and gaming, all of which are covered in this series.

MSRP: $311.90

Sale Price: $19.99 (93% off)

The Complete Game Developer eBook Bundle

These guides will get you mastery of all the tools you need to make your game idea a reality. You’ll get complete walkthroughs of not only platforms like Unity and Javascript, but the process of how to test your creation for bugs. Read the rest

20 grams of melt-in-your hand gallium

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Gallium is a metal that melts at 86 degrees F. It’s more fun than playing with mercury, and probably safer, too (it *will* temporarily stain your skin gray though, because it’s “wet” when liquid and will adhere to the crevices of your skin). My daughter’s friend brought some over a couple of years ago, and it was such a hit at our house that we had to get some of our own. This 20 gram sample is just on Amazon.

Image: DaveHax/YouTube Read the rest

“Softbody Tetris”: what if tetronimoes were made of jello?

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C4D4U’s SOFTBODY TETRIS V16 is (as the name implies), the latest in a series of “softbody” simulations of Tetris, in which the tetronimoes are rubbery, jelly-like solids that glisten as they wobble into place. It’s an incredibly soothing thing to watch (C4D4U calls them “ASMR for my eyes”) and part of a wider genre of softbody sims. JWZ argues that this “becomes intolerable” upon the “realization that completed rows don’t liquify” but if that’s your thing, you need SOFTBODY TETRIS V9.

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Music that inspired 1980s Japanese environmental music composer Yukata Hirose

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Yutaka Hirose is a Japanese composer who was a key figure in that country’s ambient/environmental music scene of the 1980s that in recent years has been rediscovered by crate-diggers around the world. Hirose’s “NOVA” (1986) is a classic of the genre, a soundscape that Misawa Home Corporation commissioned as a “soundtrack” for the prefabricated houses. While original LPs have sold for hundreds of dollars, WRWTFWW Records have recently reissued the record as an expanded double LP and double CD. (For a further exploration of Japanese environmental music of the 1980s, Light in the Attic Records’ “Kanky? Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990” is a perfect portal.)

To celebrate the NOVA reissue, The Vinyl Factory asked Hirose to create a mix of music he was listening to and inspired by in the 1980s Listen above. It’s a beautiful, sometimes-jarring, and totally compelling journey through avant-garde sounds of the time. Here’s the tracklist:

1. Jan Steele – All Day
2. David Toop – Do The Bathosphere
3. Gavin Bryars – 1, 2, 1-2-3-4
4. Joan La Barbara – Poems 43, 44, 45
5. Meredith Monk – Waltz
6. Karlheinz Stockhausen – Stimmung
7. John Cage – Seven Haiku
8. Throbbing Gristle – Almost A Kiss
9. Robert Ashley – Yellow Man With Heart With Wings
10. The Flying Lizards – The Window
11. Henry Cow Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road
12. Faust – Faust
13. CAN – Future Days
14. Tangerine Dream?Rubycon
15. Michael Nyman – Decay Music

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Glass screen protector for my Nintendo Switch

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I use these screen protectors on my Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch gets handed from child to child. The Switch gets banged, bumped, dropped and treated like something a 5-year-old is struggling wrest from a 10-year-old. Screen protectors come and go, but thus far the Switch has been undamaged.

Three packs are nice.

[3 Pack] Screen Protector Tempered Glass for Nintendo Switch, iVoler Transparent HD Clear Anti-Scratch Screen Protector Compatible Nintendo Switch via Amazon Read the rest

How to build a button box for a toddler

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The creator of the CodeParade video channel made an interactive pushbutton busyboard for his toddler.  He bought a bunch of knobs and switches, wired them to an Arduino, LEDs and beepers, and put them in a craft box. It has a simple mode, in which pushing a button triggers a sound or light, and an advanced mode, which includes a Simon game. It looks like something people of all ages would enjoy playing with. Read the rest

That time I blew up a power strip with a Marshall amp and a space heater

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Over at Wirecutter, I have some handy advice for how to live safely with a space heater. Which is to say, don’t do what I did:

It was the winter of 2019, and I was down in my unfinished basement putting the finishing touches on my band’s next album. I had to get through only a few more guitar overdubs, but my fingers were too cold to play the parts quite right. So I grabbed a space heater I was long-term testing for Wirecutter. I placed it down on top of the wooden workbench where my digital audio workstation was set up and plugged it into the nearest power strip, which just so happened to be the same one through which I ran my half-stack Marshall amplifier.

I turned the heater on. Five seconds later, the power strip blew up.

This might not have been the single dumbest thing I’d ever done in my life. But as I watched the sparks fade from the smoldering lump of freshly burnt plastic before me, I knew it was up there on the list.

There was one commenter who very much did not enjoy this self-deprecating anecdote. But there is more to the article than that, including some (hopefully) useful and relatable tips for keeping warm in the winter without risking your life and/or destroying everything you own. This is especially helpful if you, like me, live in the Northeast of the United States, which has been suffering through a nasty cold front lately. Read the rest

There’s a new iOS update out but maybe wait before installing it

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I love what iOS 13 has brought to my iPhone’s party. I’m not attached, however, to how frigging buggy it’s been. More than once, I’ve been left waiting while waiting to receive a work-related message or something important, such as whether or not my wife should bring me a milkshake home from Peter’s Drive-In. The Lords of Cupertino (which is like the shittiest possible version of the Masters of the Universe,) are aware that the delightful new iteration of their operating system is just a wee bit of a clusterfuck. As such, they’ve been liberal with the doling out of patches since the OS popped earlier this fall. The latest patch to make the scene is 13.2.3 which, hopefully, will fix more than it borks.

From The Verge:

The latest update includes a fix for the Spotlight system search feature that had been failing for some users recently. Search should now work consistently at the system level and in the Mail, Files, and Notes apps.

If you use an app that downloads content in the background and you’ve noticed weird issues in iOS 13.2.2 or before, Apple is now addressing this in the new update. Mail is also getting updated to fix problems fetching new messages or quoting messages from Exchange accounts. The only other fix that’s listed on Apple’s release notes for iOS 13.2.3 is concerning an issue where photos, links, and other attachments haven’t been displaying properly in the iMessage details view.

Today’s update also includes security updates for iPhones and iPads (yes, I know they run iPadOS, yet here we are,) which is nice. Read the rest

This hi-tech turntable brings your vinyl into the modern age

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Vinyl is officially back. People are hearing the proof behind the initial “retro” excitement: that records really do have a richer sound. And if you haven’t switched to old-school records for serious listening, it’s a new golden age.

Why? Because quality turntables like the Altec Lansing ALT-500 are finally available to a market other than rich audiophiles.

This unit comes with everything you need to start playing: A stylus cartridge, 45 RPM adapter, auto stop feature and two built-in hidden speakers.

But there are some definite upgrades for modern listeners in terms of output. You can transmit sound to your own speakers through left-right RCA jacks. It’s also compatible with Bluetooth technology, so you can use your wireless speakers or headphones. You can even stream in reverse, playing music from your own device through the ALT-500’s speakers.

The Altec Lansing ALT-500 Turntable is already half off the retail cost of $150, but you can take an extra 15% off by using the online promo code BFSAVE15 – for a final price of $63.74. Read the rest

How to easily batch geotag DSLR photos in Lightroom

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Having spent hundreds of dollars on glass tripods and other camera accessories for my iPhone, it’s fair to say that I’m neck-deep in love with iPhone photography. However, there are still some situations where pulling up my trust Sony RX100 III to capture a moment is a better choice. It’s a wonderful camera, but it lacks GPS. To get around this issue, after taking a photo with my RX100, I often snap off a throwaway shot with my iPhone for the sake of capturing the location information. I’ve been doing it for years.

This video covers a bit of this, but it also goes a step further by illustrating how to batch import GPS coordinates for a single location into multiple images via Lightroom Classic. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out how to preform the trick described in the video using Lightroom for iOS or Android, but it works a treat with the desktop version of the app.

Image via Pixabay Read the rest

Save water (and money) with this smart home monitor

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Between all of our apps, streaming devices, Bluetooth speakers, and energy-sucking decorations, paying for utilities each month can be…brutal. In fact, the average household spends roughly $70 a month on the water bill alone. That number might not seem terribly significant, but when you add it up, that’s $840 a year — a pretty significant chunk of cheddar, and that’s just for one of your many bills. Pair that with the fact that water conservation is becoming increasingly more important, (especially in areas susceptible to droughts) and being conscientious of your water use is, quite frankly, more important than ever.

That’s where Flume comes in. This easy-to-install smart water monitor pops right onto your home’s water meter and tracks your water use in real time. You can check in on your use through Flume’s companion app directly from your smartphone, which constantly gathers and reports the data back to you. If there’s a leak or damage detected, you’ll instantly be notified so you can quickly resolve the issue. Flume breaks down exactly where your water is going, so you can figure out how to cut back in areas where you’re over-using it and save big on your monthly water bill. And, if you’ve already got a smart home or speaker setup, you can ask Alexa about your water status, use, and budget.

Keep tabs on your water use with the Flume Smart Home Water Monitor and give the earth and your wallet some relief. You can grab it now for just $169. Read the rest

Coop’s tribute to Randotti Skulls, from the golden age of Haunted Mansion merchandise

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From the 1950s until the 1980s, Randy and Dotti Smith supplied a line of fantastic cast sculptures sold in Disney theme-park gift shops, especially a line of skulls sold in shops associated with the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean rides; these Randotti skulls haven’t been sold in decades, you can still find used ones (at high prices) online, as Boing Boing pal and fabulous illustrator Coop discovered when he sourced an impressive collection of Randotti sculpts.

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