This 10mm battery terminal ratchet makes my eternal screwing up less painful

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My cars and bikes have the batteries in hard to reach places. This 10mm battery terminal rachet helps out!

In prepping the Vanagon Westy for a long roadtrip, I found I’ve killed my house battery. I ordered up a replacement but dreaded getting into the battery box. In a Vanagon, Volkswagen hides the batteries underneath the passenger and drivers seats. Getting at these battery terminals is a comedy of errors and blood. I’d go so far as to say the blood was compulsatory until I got this handy rachet at Harbor Freight.

It is small. It fits where I need it to. It is a rachet, and as such I am not constantly trying to re-seat the fucker while zapping myself against a grounded battery box in a thoughtlessly engineered tight space. At least VW put a cover on the battery box, albiet a conductive metal one. My ’78 Audi 5000, the model with occasional self-determination, had a passenger bench burnt with splashed battery acid from another VW/Audi underseat battery adventure.

10mm Side-Terminal Battery Reversible Ratchet Wrench Chrome-Plated via Amazon

How one Lego reseller built an artificial intelligence to sort bricks

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Jacques Mattheij hoped to make some cash buying cheap boxes of used, unsorted Lego that he’d organize into more valuable assortments for resale. After acquiring two metric tons of bricks, he was motivated to build a technological solution for sorting. He outfitted a conveyor belt with a cheap magnifying USB camera and employed air nozzles to blow the bricks into various bins. The bigger challenge though was how to get the PC to identify the bricks. From IEEE Spectrum:

After a few other failed approaches, and six months in, I decided to try out a neural network. I settled on using TensorFlow, an immense library produced by the Google Brain Team. TensorFlow can run on a CPU, but for a huge speed increase I tapped the parallel computing power of the graphics processing unit in my US $700 GTX1080 Ti Nvidia video card….

…I managed to label a starter set of about 500 assorted scanned pieces. Using those parts to train the net, the next day the machine sorted 2,000 more parts. About half of those were wrongly labeled, which I corrected. The resulting 2,500 parts were the basis for the next round of training. Another 4,000 parts went through the machine, 90 percent of which were labeled correctly! So, I had to correct only some 400 parts. By the end of two weeks I had a training data set of 20,000 correctly labeled images…

Once the software is able to reliably classify across the entire range of parts in my garage, I’ll be pushing through the remainder of those two tons of bricks. And then I can finally start selling off the results!

How I Built an AI to Sort 2 Tons of Lego Pieces(IEEE Spectrum)

Kickstarting a new Girl Genius collection

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Phil Foglio (previously) writes, “Studio Foglio is kickstarting a new Girl Genius Collection! The Incorruptible Library covers the adventures of Agatha Heterodyne and her friends as they journey beneath the streets of Paris. There they encounter hidden subterranean civilizations, forgotten labyrinths filled with secrets, and a healthy dollop of Adventure, Romance, and Mad Science!”


Public road built on top of 5-story building in China

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What to do in a highly populated city when you’ve got too many cars and not enough streets? Build a two-lane public road on top of a 5-story building, of course. And don’t forget to garnish the area with lush trees and lots of shops. This creative urban planning can be found in Chongqing, China.

Here are a couple of videos to see it in action:

How to “fix” a Canon printer with a giant hand-made hammer

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I like John Heisz’ way of getting things done:

The U052 Canon printer error can be fixed in the following way:

“To try and resolve the U052 error, please remove and then reseat all of the ink tanks and print head in the unit. Next, please turn off the printer, unplug the power cord from the back and leave it out for at least 10 minutes, then plug it back in and turn it back on.”

Or, when that doesn’t work, there’s always the stake maul fix.

[via Core 77]

God is Disappointed in You

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I recently started to re-read God is Disappointed in You, which I read for the first time a couple of years ago. It’s an amazing piece of work. Here’s my original review:

I’m not religious, and I have not read the Old Testament or the New Testament (I did read R. Crumb’s graphic novel of the Book of Genesis and enjoyed it). I’ve tried to read the King James version a few times, but I got bored and stopped very early on. Recently, Top Shelf sent me a copy of God is Disappointed in You, a new version of the Bible written in contemporary, casual language. It’s bound in textured fake leather like a regular bible, with gold edged pages and a ribbon bookmark. It has illustrations by New Yorker and Too Much Coffee Man cartoonist Shannon Wheeler, which piqued my interest. As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The author, Mark Russell, was able to make the stories come alive by telling them as if they happened today, using language that a smart, funny, middle-school student might use to recount the story of an epic playground fight.

I don’t know if people who take the Bible seriously will be offended by this book, but I suspect many of them will not. It is not a sarcastic put down of the Bible, but a fresh interpretation. I compared some of the stories in God is Disappointed in You with the stories in other traditional Bibles and Russell is not exaggerating or misrepresenting the content of the earlier versions. I asked my friend, a pastor and author who is a serious Bible scholar, what he thought of God is Disappointed in You, and said it was fantastic.

The Bible is an incredibly weird book, and I thank Mark Russell for rewriting it in a way that made it understandable and interesting to me.

Celebrity cosmetic surgery, secret hookups, and a baby black market, all in this week’s tabloids

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Did Tom Cruise buy babies on the black market? Did Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner have a secret Bahamas getaway? Has Queen Elizabeth refused to bless Prince Harry’s wedding?

When have the tabloids ever been wrong?

It’s yet another week of fact-challenged stories in the dubious tabloids and celebrity magazines.

Barbra Streisand has allegedly undergone $360,000-worth of cosmetic surgery to rebuild her face and “save her crumbling marriage” so that she is now “totally unrecognizable,” reports the ‘Globe.’ The mag unhelpfully includes a photo of the new-look Streisand who is unmistakably recognizable as the famed diva.

Also allegedly rebuilding her face is “plastic surgery junkie” Melanie Griffith, who in a “desperate bid to live to 100” has returned to the ACQUA Klinik in Germany to receive stem cell treatments, reports the ’National Enquirer.’ But even if the treatments succeed in making the actress look younger, they aren’t intended to prolong life – that’s pure tabloid fantasy – they’re supposed to make her appear younger.

‘Us’ magazine devotes its cover and four inside pages to Affleck and Garner’s “Secret Bahamas Reunion!” So secret was their rendezvous that it’s also pictured extensively in the ‘Enquirer’ (“Ben & Jen’s Hookup in Paradise!”), which touts the story as an ‘Enquirer Exclusive.’ From the photos it’s plain that they’re not hiding from the paparazzi. No secrets to hide here.

Did Tom Cruise, John Travolta and other celebrities adopt babies in “Scientology’s baby black market’ as the ‘Enquirer’ claims? Its breaking news about events 20 years ago claims that the stars adopted children through an unlicensed broker – but buried deep within the “ten-month investigation” report is an admission that the adoptions were ultimately handled by an attorney “to be done correctly” – completely undercutting the story. No black market, and nothing illegal.

Has the Queen refused to give her blessing to Prince Harry’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle, as the ‘Globe’ claims? It seems unlikely, since the couple are not even engaged yet. The ‘Globe’ explains that “the divorced TV actress ‘isn’t a good fit’ with the royal family.” But since Prince Charles divorced and remarried divorcée Camilla Parker Bowles, surely Markle’s status as a divorcée is hardly an impediment?

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at ‘Us’ mag to tell us that Victoria Justice wore it best (do you really “wear” a clutch purse – and can one really be judged for carrying it best? Did Lauren Cohan really carry her clutch bag the worst? Sad), that La La Anthony totally hates mustard, former Bachelorette contestant Ashley Iaconetti (really scraping the bottom of the celebrity barrel here) carries almonds, mascara and a sewing kit in her Forever 21 tote, and that the stars are just like us: they ride bikes, make phone calls, and use umbrellas when it rains. Wow. I always thought celebrities walked everywhere, sent telegrams, and got wet when it rained.

Bringing us truly important news we can use, ‘Us’ mag also brings us “Hollywood’s Hottest Hunks!” while ‘People’ magazine offers “Gorgeous Celebrity Weddings” and devotes its cover to John F Kennedy’s Jr’s wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy: “Her Untold Story.” It’s a tale that might have been more interesting when she died, rather than 18 years later when it just feels dated.

Proving that rap stars are people too, Sean Combs, at home with his six children, tells ‘People’: “I’m the luckiest man alive,” and the mag explains why Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have hired a surrogate to have their third child: “Kim was told she couldn’t carry another baby – that it would be too dangerous,” says an unnamed source. Maybe she keeps dropping them? Maybe she can’t even carry a clutch bag? Enquiring minds want to know.

In other up-to-the-minute news, the ‘National Examiner’ bring us the ‘Bizarre Secrets of ‘Men in Black,’” which will be great if they ever invent a time machine and take us back to 1997 when this article will appear more like breaking news.
Failing to find any evidence of aliens, Bigfoot, Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster this week, the ‘Examiner’ tells us that the “mystical crane will bring you luck, love, prosperity and vitality.” But you don’t have to catch your own bird to have all that luck and the sort of long life that sends Melanie
Griffith scurrying to mysterious German Kliniks – you simply have to “clip & save” the photo of an origami paper crane that the ‘Examiner’ has helpfully included in its article. “For a boost in prosperity, place the crane image just inside your front door,” advises the mag. Or put the image in your wallet to attract love, in a sunny window for healing energy, or in a bowl of fruit “to smooth family discord.” That’s news you can use.

Onwards and downwards . . .

Man takes the “cheapest” survival tool kit into the woods

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Wranglerstar found the cheapest survival toolkit on Amazon, then took it into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. There’s a shovel, a saw, a magnetic LED flashlight with a tactical hitty thing and a USB outlet for charging gadgets, a pocket chainsaw, and a bag— all for $30. It’s not awful, but the price didn’t last.

Reviewing “cheapest” gear, I’ve noticed that the sellers are watching and sometimes jack the prices when a site or YouTuber with any audience posts something, as appears to be the case with this particular viral video. This will probably force reviewers to post roundups of cheap gear, so readers can easily figure out the “cheapest decent thing” from a fair selection.

Previously: The $7 Verical Ergonomic mouse is not awful.

John Waters talks about Oakland punk-fest Burger Boogaloo

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In case you haven’t heard, there’s a big punk music festival happening in Oakland, California this upcoming holiday weekend. It’s called Burger Boogaloo and our highest-ranking “filth elder,” Mr. John Waters himself, is emceeing it for the third year in a row. Burger Boogaloo is a popular event ’round these parts and this year will be no exception, as Iggy Pop headlines, along with the Buzzcocks and X.

In a recent interview with Jeremy Tarr of Fodor’s Travel, Mr. Waters shared his thoughts about the event. Here’s what he said about seeing punks in the audience:

“It’s punks of all ages. It’s from nouveau punks to punk nostalgia, which is pretty great to watch… Some of them I see are older. You never thought punks could be oldies but badies – not oldies but goodies. It’s just exciting to see a grandmother pogo dancing as much as it is to see a 14-year-old kid being a punk for the first time. ”

And his familiarity with the musicians in the 2017 lineup:

“Some of them I’ve never heard of and I don’t know. That’s what I like so much … But, I know John Doe and X. I’ve known Iggy for years. Iggy was in my movies. I’ve become friends with Shannon [Shaw, lead singer of Shannon and the Clams] and that gang. I am a fan really… Though, I think probably being the oldest person there – I don’t know – how old is Iggy? I don’t know who’s older. But he looks a lot better nude, I’ll say that.”

The entire interview is a great read. He even calls Oakland the “Baltimore of the Bay Area,” which is a high compliment coming from him.

Burger Boogaloo is July 1 & 2 at Oakland’s Mosswood Park. Tickets are still available.

Thanks, Terry!

photo by Lily Chou

How to build an igloo

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Shot on the first day of summer, this video shows northern Canadian Inuit Adami Sakiagak and Tiisi Qisiiq building an igloo. According to the video’s accompanying article in the New York Times, Sakiagak grew up on the tundra and builds igloos to “teach younger generations the disappearing craft”:

Mr. Sakiagak got to work, drawing a circle in the snow to mark the igloo’s perimeter. A friend, Tiisi Qisiiq, began cutting blocks of snow with a carpenter’s crosscut saw. Saws have replaced the walrus tusk knives that the Inuit favored for building igloos a generation ago.

Mr. Sakiagak laid a ring of blocks and trimmed the first few to form a ramp so that he would be building in a continuous spiral. This way, he had only one end block to worry about as the igloo rose around him. The blocks were as sturdy as Styrofoam, but heavier.

He beveled the top edge of the blocks inward so that by the third or fourth row he was laying them at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Now, with the capstone in place, Mr. Sakiagak was effectively entombed.

Be sure to move the video around while you’re watching it. It’s one of those 360 degree ones.

What RuPaul’s Drag Race means to teens

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RuPaul’s Drag Race has morphed from cult reality TV show to mainstream phenomenon, and in this great new piece for Vox, Caroline Framke explores how much the show means specifically to teenagers. As she writes:

When I went to the first DragCon, I was struck by how many of these screaming, sobbing teens — many of them the cis girl teens you might otherwise expect to fight for an autograph from a Harry Styles rather than a Naomi Smalls — swarmed the floor. I knew Drag Race was popular, but I didn’t realize how much it had traveled beyond its initial cult audience of queer men and women already ensconced in drag culture to reach this younger, hungry generation of fans.

The same held true — even more so — at 2017’s DragCon. Time and time again, I watched as kids with braces and fledgling attempts at facial contouring traded intel on which queens would be signing things where, swarmed a Teen Vogue panel (“Resistance in Trump’s America”), posed for pictures while their beaming parents stood by, and struggled to hold back rapturous tears in front of their favorite queens. When they did get the chance to actually ask a question, sure, some took the opportunity to show off their encyclopedic knowledge of which queen threw shade during which challenge, or to ask for the kind of behind-the-scenes gossip not even the infamous Drag Race subreddit might have.

But for the most part, these kids just wanted advice.

After RuPaul’s keynote (the final event of the con), one 19-year-old girl summoned the courage to go up in front of hundreds of fellow fans and ask her idol, through so many sobs we could barely understand her, “How do you wake up in the morning and tell yourself you’re beautiful?”

It was a startling moment, but one I’ve come to expect from Drag Race fans after watching, loving, and researching the show’s larger impact for years. The series has always leaned into the human ache to find self-acceptance, and it came up again and again throughout DragCon.

You can read the full piece, which also digs into the history and evolution of RuPaul’s Drag Race, over on Vox.

[Photo: VH1]

Time for a new toothbrush?

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Despite the upfront cost, electric toothbrushes are much better at removing plaque than those freebies from the dentist’s office. For those who struggle to fill the American Dental Association’s recommended two minutes of brushing time, or anyone with limited dexterity, a sonic toothbrush can give your oral care routine a boost.

To keep your chops healthy without dropping too much cash, we’d like to invite you to check out this Rechargeable Silicone Sonic Toothbrush. Its two included brushing heads are made of antibacterial silicone, so they last longer and are easier to clean than their manual counterparts. It features 13 vibration levels to cater to sensitive teeth, and a 4-minute deep cleaning mode for when you need to go in for your biannual checkup.

This sonic toothbrush is great for travel, and can be used for up to 40 days without needing a recharge. You can get one here for $29.99.

The True, Top-Secret Story of Trump’s Presidency

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FOLLOW @RubenBolling on the Twitters and a Face Book.

JOIN Tom the Dancing Bug’s subscription club, the Proud & Mighty INNER HIVE, for exclusive early access to comics, extra comics, and much more.

GET Ruben Bolling’s new hit book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures. (”Filled with wild twists and funny dialogue” -Publishers Weekly) Book One here. Book Two here.

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Glow-in-the-dark ‘toonie’ celebrates Canada’s 150th

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My 12-year old collects coins. She’s not a hardcore numismatist by any means but she has spent quite a bit of time collecting state quarters in one of those special coin albums. The most difficult one to get was Alaska. Luckily for her, our friend Jim recently traveled to Alaska and found two of them in his roll of laundry quarters.

Anyway, to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued a new two-dollar coin (which is commonly known as a “toonie”) that glows in the dark. The coin uses a special luminescent ink to light up in the dark and depicts two people canoeing under the northern lights. This special “toonie” is the world’s first colored bimetallic coin in circulation and the first circulation coin to glow in the dark.

According to CBCNews, the toonie was designed by two British Columbia-based brothers, Stephen and Timothy Hsia, who won the coin’s design contest late last year.

Timothy says of the design:

“We thought to ourselves, ‘What would be a Canadian wonder that all Canadians from coast to coast to coast could appreciate?'”

“We came up with the idea of the northern lights because this is a light display that shines most gloriously in our skies and we wanted to create something simple [that would fit].”

Ten million of these coins will be put into circulation in total. They are also available to purchase as part of a pricey special commemorative set.

I haven’t shown my kid this special coin yet but I’m guessing she’ll want one just for the novelty factor.

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