Tonight in LA: Cory at the Last Bookstore (then Chapel Hill, Boston, Chicago, Waterloo, Phoenix, Santa Fe, San Jose…)

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Tonight at 7PM, I’ll be appearing on a panel at the Last Bookstore in downtown LA, with the title “Truth to Power: Genre Fiction in Post-Fact America,” alongside of Gretchen McNeil, Jennifer Brody, Christina Cigala, Bobby Goldstein, CB Lee, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Kate Maruyama and Samuel Sattin.
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Last call on Amazon Echo discounts, sales on smart TVs and a Verge exclusive deal

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Between robotic vacuums, voice-activated light switches and virtual assistants, the smart home tech business is booming. As smart home devices are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, a hub from which to control your various gadgets is a good idea. We liked Amazon’s Echo, the device that introduced Alexa, back when it was introduced in 2015 and many improvements have been made in the intervening three years. Amazon Echo is on sale for $84.99 (usually $99.99) and the smaller Echo Dot is down to $39.99 (usually $49.99). These Amazon devices deals end at 11:59 PM ET on Saturday, April 21. An Echo bundle with smart bulbs from TP-Link is on sale as well for $112.24 (usually $144.93).

This week, The Verge secured an exclusive deal from Anker on…

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The new Star Wars novel goes deep into the past and future of Han Solo

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Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters in just over a month. The standalone Star Wars film follows in the footsteps of Rogue One: a story that stands apart from the “saga” backbone of the franchise, ie, the story of the Skywalkers and their fight against the forces of evil in the galaxy. But unlike Rogue One, which featured a cast of brand-new characters to the franchise, Solo will focus on one of the franchise’s best-known characters: Han Solo.

As we come closer to the film’s release date, one thing that has stood out about Solo is how unenthused everyone seems to be for it. Unlike The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi, Solo is a film that, up until recently, I kept forgetting would be the second Star Wars film to hit theaters…

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The Nix Pro Color Sensor matches colors with extreme precision

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Our world is a colorful one, and when it comes time to repaint the house or create a new design, many of us look to our surroundings for inspiration. However, matching colors from the outside world to our canvas isn’t the most precise process when we’re just eyeballing it. The Nix Pro Color Sensor removes the guesswork involved, determining an exact match of any color you put it on, and it’s on sale for over 25% off in the Boing Boing Store.

The key to the Nix’s precision is its ability to block out ambient light when you’re matching a surface. Simply scan any color critical surface and save it to your smartphone or tablet, and the Nix will match it to a huge range of existing color libraries. You can match with over 38,000 paint colors and even grab CMYK, HEX, sRGB, CIELAB, LCH, and LRV values. Plus, the Nix lets you discover and save color harmonies to build your creative library.

Now, you can get the Nix Pro Color Sensor on sale today for $249 in the Boing Boing Store.

Family-owned Smugmug acquires Flickr, rescuing it from the sinking post-Yahoo ship

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Flickr exists, in part, because I needed a photo-sharing tool to help me woo my long-distance girlfriend, who later became my wife, and whom I’ve been with now for 15 years — so I have watched the service’s long decline and neglect at the hands of Yahoo, and then its sale to the loathsome telco Verizon, with sorrow.
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Building a POV Display On A PC Fan

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We’ve covered plenty of persistence of vision (POV) displays before, but this one from [Vadim] is rather fun: it’s built on top of a PC fan. He’s participating in a robot building competition soon and wanted to have a POV display. So, why not kill two birds with one stone and build the display onto a fan that could also be used for ventilation?

The display is a stand-alone module that includes a battery, Neopixels, Arduino and an NRF240L01 radio that receives the images to be displayed. That might seem like overkill, but putting the whole thing on a platform …read more

This week in tech, 20 years ago

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InfoWorld, April 20th, 1998

As a person who covers day-to-day technology news, I often wonder how my writing might come off to someone in the future — and whether anyone will even be reading it. I can’t answer those questions, but I can do the next best thing: look back at what other people were writing 20 years ago.

Here are five stories — big and small — that science and tech enthusiasts might have checked out during the week before April 21st, 1998.

The hacktivist pedophile hunter who faked it all

Christian Valor was the perfect subject for a 1998 Forbes profile. Under the handle “Se7en,” he’d tracked down dozens of people who traded child pornography online, wiped their hard drives, and spread word of their crime online. “I can find a pedophile and trash his…

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Romance writers sought for library residency at my former Toronto workplace

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I was a teenaged page at the North York Central Library in suburban Toronto, working in the Business and Urban Affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system — I worked there with many other would-be writers, like Nalo Hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down.
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Nerf blaster goes next-level with propane power

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There are no shortage of Nerf gun mods out there. From simply upgrading springs to removing air restrictors, the temptation of one-upping your opponents in a Nerf war speaks to many!

Not content with such lowly modifications [Peter Sripol] decided that his blaster needed to see some propane action.

[Peter] completely stripped out the existing firing mechanism before creating a new combustion chamber from some soldered copper pipe. He added a propane tank and valve on some 3D-printed mounts, and replaced the barrel to produce some intense firepower.

To ignite the fuel inside the combustion chamber, some taser circuitry creates …read more

Fast LED Matrix Graphics For The ESP32

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Many of you will have experimented with driving displays from your microcontroller projects, and for most people that will mean pretty simple status information for which you’d use standard libraries and not care much about their performance. If however any of you have had the need for quickly-updating graphics such as video or game content, you may have found that simpler software solutions aren’t fast enough. If you are an ESP32 user then, [Louis Beaudoin] may have some good news for you, because he has ported the SmartMatrix library to that platform. We’ve seen his demo in action, and the …read more

The ASP.NET Core React Project

See the original posting on DZone Python

In the last post I wrote, I had a first look at a plain, clean, and lightweight React setup. I’m still impressed how easy the setup is and how fast the loading of a React app really is. Before trying to push this setup into an ASP.NET Core application, it would make sense to have a look at the ASP.NET Core React project.

Create the React Project

You can either use the "File New Project …" dialog in Visual Studio 2017 or the .NET CLI to create a new ASP.NET Core React project:

Home Made 5-Axis CNC Head Is A Project To Watch

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[Reiner Schmidt] was tired of renting an expensive 5-axis CNC head for projects, so he decided to build his own. It’s still a work in progress, but he’s made remarkable progress so far. The project is called Bridge Boy, and it is designed to use a cheap DC rotary mill to cut soft materials like plastic, wood and the like. Most of it is 3D printed, and he has released the Autodesk 360 plans that would allow you to start building your own. His initial version uses an Arduino with stepper drivers, and is designed to fit onto the end …read more

Zippo Keeps Your Bits Safe

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[Laura Kampf] found a new use for an old Zippo lighter by turning it into a carrier for her screwdriver bits. There are several multitools out there which can accept standard screwdriver bits. The problem is carrying those bits around. Leaving a few bits in your pocket is a recipe for pocket holes and missing bits.

[Laura’s] solution uses her old Zippo lighter. All she needs is the case, the lighter element itself can be saved for another project. A block of aluminum is cut and sanded down to a friction fit. Laura uses a band saw and bench sander …read more

Real-Time Polarimetric Imager from 1980s Tech

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It’s easy to dismiss decades old electronics as effectively e-waste. With the rapid advancements and plummeting prices of modern technology, most old hardware is little more than a historical curiosity at this point. For example, why would anyone purchase something as esoteric as 1980-era video production equipment in 2018? A cheap burner phone could take better images, and if you’re looking to get video in your projects you’d be better off getting a webcam or a Raspberry Pi camera module.

But occasionally the old ways of doing things offer possibilities that modern methods don’t. This fascinating white paper from [David …read more

A new podcast hopes to solve an infamous unsolved death in Norway’s Isdalen Valley

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In November, 1970, just outside the Norwegian town of Bergen, two kids found the partially burnt remains of a woman’s body. Surrounding the woman’s remains were a number of objects: some bottles of water, a rubber boot and a burnt newspaper. All of the labels had been removed from the woman’s clothing. Why the woman – known in Norway as the Isdal Woman, named for the remote valley that she was found in – died or who she was has been a mystery for close to 50 years.

Norwegian journalist Marit Higraff and BBC documentary maker Neil McCarthy are working to shed light on the Isdal Woman’s very, very cold case. Working together, they’ve produced a new podcast called Death in Ice Valley. The first episode is available to download or stream, right now.

During the course of the podcast, Higraff and McCarthy will talk to those that investigated the crime back in the day, as well as forensic experts and anyone else they feel might propel them towards the answer of who the Isdal Woman was and why she died. But they’re not stopping there. Listeners of the podcast are invited to talk to one another and the podcast’s producers about the case on social media, in the hope that a breakthrough for the case could be crowdsourced.

I listened to the first episode yesterday. It starts slow, as many BBC radio productions often do. But the questions that the pair of journalists raise surrounding the Isdal Woman’s death and what they uncovered, even in the first episode, has compelled me to continue with the series to see how things turn out. If you’re looking for something new to occupy your ears with, you might just want to include it on your list of downloads.

ReinhardheydtOwn work, Public Domain, Link

Weekend Tunes: Dread Zeppelin

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Raggae-scorched Led Zeppelin covers churned out by a tight band fronted by an Elvis Presley impersonator? Yes, there is a God, and Dread Zeppelin is proof that she loves us.

These guys were the musical snow leopard of my early teenage years: on rare occasions, I’d catch the tail end of one of their videos on Much Music or a piece of a song on college radio. It was years before I learned who they were or bought one of their CDs. Scoff if you will, but at its height, the band was so damn good at what it did that Robert Plant kept their music in his car.

On this 4.20, or as Xeni calls it, amateur day, they are my gift to you.

The evolution of music from 1680 to 2017

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I enjoyed the piano stylings of Lord Vinheteiro in this “Evolution of Music” video**. He plays a little music from each year, starting with 1680 and ending with 2017. There’s Beethoven, Iron Maiden, Aqua, and more.

Another fun video of his has him playing the soundtrack and sound effects from Super MarioWorld on the piano along with the video game itself.

**Though I found his staring at the camera a bit jarring!

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