21 famous books you don’t have to read (and recommendations for better books)

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Advice from the editors of GQ: Don’t read the “totally silly” The Catcher in the Rye. Instead, read Olivia, “the story of a British teenage girl who is sent to a boarding school in France.” Don’t read Catch-22, because it “fails to capture the absurdities and impossible conflicts of war.” Instead, read The American Granddaughter, a “thoughtful, nuanced, and often uproariously funny meditation on war in the 21st century.” The editors also warn would be readers to steer clear of the Lord of the Rings series:

I liked The Hobbit. A lot. But while Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books are influential as exercises in world building, as novels they are barely readable. It never seemed to me that Tolkien cared about his story as much as he cared about rendering, in minute detail, the world he built. Why not instead read Ursula K. Le Guin’s magnificent (and as beautifully rendered) stories and novels surrounding Earthsea? Le Guin captures the world of Earthsea through a powerful, dark, gorgeous kind of storytelling that is irresistible. Perhaps Le Guin’s work — along with an entire universe of fantasy fiction — wouldn’t have been possible without Tolkien’s influence behind it, but in its time, Le Guin’s books are more influential and make for better reading. — Manuel Gonzales, ‘The Regional Office Is Under Attack!’

The State of Test Coverage in Rails

See the original posting on DZone Python

One of the things that we look for when examining the health of a Rails application is the percentage of test coverage the app has, using a tool like simplecov. This should only test the code your team has written and not 3rd party libraries (one reason why it’s important to keep your 3rd party dependencies separate from the rest of your code).

In the Rails Survey this year, we asked a new question about how many existing Rails applications the respondents work on have decent test coverage (above 80%).

Samsung’s giant, 34-foot Onyx screens are 4K monitors for movie theaters

See the original posting on The Verge

Samsung today announced that its line of 4K LED theatrical screens are now called Onyx, which is meant to evoke the picture quality of its pure black capabilities. The screens, six of which exist now around the world, stand at 34-feet and 4096 x 2160 resolution, providing a richer, crisper picture than standard 2K projection. They’re capable of displaying 2K, 4K, 3D, and HDR images. Last week, Samsung officially unveiled its first US location for Onyx at Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, California, just north of Los Angeles.

While the screen is smaller than the standard 45- to 65-foot projection screens at most movie theaters, the Onyx LED monitor takes advantage of the fact that it’s not relying on projection technology. It is…

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Samsung patent suggests video chatting with AR Emoji

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When Samsung rolled out its creepy AR Emoji, many assumed it was just the company’s answer to Apple’s Animoji. But Samsung was granted a patent last week that could indicate a whole other reason it rolled out the AR Emoji: to combat bandwidth issues with live video.

Back in 2013, Samsung foresaw that there would continue to be bandwidth issues with live video in the near future, and applied for a patent that would let users video chat with each other using 3D models of their faces, as spotted by PatentlyMobile.

The patent states, “Existing video communication systems typically require high bandwidth and are inherently high latency as entire image sequences need to be generated and compressed before transmitting the signal to the another…

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A Match.com glitch reactivated a bunch of old profiles, raising concerns about user data

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On a recent Sunday, creative director Jason Debiak was having breakfast with his family in New Jersey, when something strange happened.

“I was having an adorable breakfast with my family, my 2-year-old daughter and my wife,” he says. “Something came up [on my phone] and I usually try not to check my email, but I checked my email and it said, ‘You have 10 new matches on Match.com.’ I was like… what?”

Debiak’s long-forgotten — and, he assumed, long-deleted — dating profile from over a decade ago had suddenly been reactivated. “I log in, and there I am, from 15 years prior, with less gray hair,” he said. “And my whole profile is there, everything.” Judging by the messages he received, Debiak says it seemed like the account had been…

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The scene at 4:20 PM on 4/20 at San Francisco’s Hippie Hill

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Look at all these stoners… San Francisco, California, ladies and gentleman!

According to SFGate, an estimated 15,000 revelers attended the annual 4/20 gathering at Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. This free, unofficial and unsanctioned event has been a tradition in the city since the 1970’s but this is the first time it’s occurred after recreational use of cannabis became legal in California on January 1.

The event began even before the gates opened about 40 minutes after the scheduled 9 a.m. start. The throngs that had gathered at the police barricades began chanting, “We want to smoke pot in the park,” and a collective whoop rose up as they were allowed inside…

One man holding an orange box full of immaculately rolled spleefs shouted, “Pot, pot, get your pot,” like a hot dog vendor at a ballgame, but most everyone already had the stuff. Still, vendors were everywhere selling tiny $5 gram baggies, cookies and gummies…

At 4:20 p.m., a New Year’s Eve-style countdown began for the “bud drop,” a phantasmagoric depiction of a marijuana bud descending a la Times Square, but it seemed to leave many people dazed and confused. Still, they cheered as if it was the highlight of a day jam-packed with highs.

Convention celebrating diversity in fandom abruptly cancelled

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Universal FanCon was supposed to fill the Baltimore Convention Center with a celebration of diversity and marginalized folks in fandom, complete with big-name guests and an array of panels. Then it was mysteriously “postponed” without warning, days before it was to commence—a postponement that looks an awful lot like no-refund cancellation.

Attendees, vendors, exhibitors, panelists and speakers had already shelled out thousands of dollars to attend FanCon. People had taken time off of work to attend. I saw several panelists and speakers tweet that they’d actually turned down paid gigs to attend FanCon.

And that’s not even the half of it.

In late 2016, the organizers for Universal FanCon created a KickStarter to raise $25,000 dollars for the convention. It sounds like a very ambitious goal until you learn that they actually raised more than twice that amount.

That KickStarter received $56,498 in donations raised by 1,187 backers.

Grift was suspected by angry attendees, but it looks more like a tower of mistakes falling in on itself at the moment of truth. Raising $100k or so isn’t going to pay for a convention center and a bunch of guests. It’ll pay for a hotel, and a ballroom in that hotel. They let their ambitions go wild and nothing stopped them until it was too late.

Ah well. They didn’t even get a ball pit.

Why are restaurants louder than ever?

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Why are restaurants, bars, and clubs so loud? I often return from a dinner party with a sore throat from having to shout all night just to converse with other people. It wasn’t always this way. Julia Belluz, writing for Vox, blames loud restaurants on five things:

  1. Restaurateurs think loud music gives their restaurants a sense of “vibrancy and energy.”
  2. It costs a lot of money to engineer good acoustics into a restaurant. “Simply sound-paneling a big ceiling can cost upward of $50,000.”
  3. Restaurant design has moved away from soft, sound absorbing interiors, and towards open, concrete boxes. “And as these sound-absorbing elements went out of style, many restaurants introduced open-concept dining, with open kitchens or attached bar scenes, that helped turn up the volume.”
  4. Restaurants are moving into buildings that were designed for other purposes. Churches, designed for one person to be heard by many, are especially ill-suited as restaurants.
  5. “Americans are loud.” Anyone who has spent time in other countries knows this to be true.

Image: By Aaron Amat/Shutterstock

Robotics Module Challenge: Build Robot, Win Prizes

See the original posting on Hackaday

Brand new today, we’re going to go all in with the Robotics Module Challenge! This is the newest part of the 2018 Hackaday Prize which is only six weeks old, and already we’ve seen almost six hundred incredible entries. But a new challenge means a fresh start and a perfect time for you to begin your entry.

This is your call to build a module that can be used in robotics projects across the world. Twenty module designs will be awarded $1,000 and and chance at the five top prizes including the $50,000 grand prize!

Robotics is the kitchen sink …read more

Bargain Bin Barcode Scanner Keeps Track Of Shopping Needs

See the original posting on Hackaday

For most people, a Post-It note or dry-erase board suffices to ensure that household consumables are replenished when they’re used up. But hackers aren’t like most people, so this surplus barcode scanner turned kitchen inventory manager comes as little surprise. After all, if something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

[Brian Carrigan]’s project began with a chance discovery of an old barcode scanner in his local scrap store. Questions as to why we can never find bargains like a $500 scanner for six bucks aside, [Brian] took the scanner home for a bit of reverse engineering. He knew it used …read more

Glowforge opens public orders for its desktop 3D laser cutter

See the original posting on TechCrunch

Hardware startup Glowforge, which makes a desktop laser cutter and engraver for home or office use, has finally opened up sales to the general public. The maker-targeted device, which can ‘print’ (read: engrave/laser cut) a variety of materials including leather, wood, acrylic, glass, and even the metal surface of a Macbook, starts at $2,495 for the entry […]

Woman fined $500 after taking free snack apple off Delta flight

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Delta airlines gave a passenger a free apple as an on-flight snack. She took it off the plane, failed to declare the agricultural contraband, and was fined $500 by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol when they found it in her bag.

She said the customs agent pulled out the apple in the plastic bag with Delta’s logo on it.

Tadlock said she had just received the snack from the airline and asked if she could throw it out or eat it. She said the agent said no, and handed her a $500 fine instead.

“He had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, ‘Yeah.’ I didn’t really get why he was asking that question, and then he said ‘It’s about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500,'” Tadlock said.

The sheer malicious smugness really makes it.

Westworld’s first new major surprise leads to more questions than answers

See the original posting on The Verge

HBO’s science fiction drama Westworld isn’t just known for its talented cast and philosophical musings about the nature of reality. It’s also become famous for its reveals, from mind-bending bombshells that link two characters to simple pieces of backstory that bring new insight to a storyline. Watching Westworld is like peeling an onion one layer at a time.

That’s why for the show’s second season, I’ll be diving into one particular spoilery revelation from each episode to figure out what it means, how we got here, and where things might go in the episodes to come. Some weeks, it might be a huge plot twist; other weeks, it might be something subtle. Either way, we’re going to spoil the hell out of it. Welcome to the Westworld Spoilers…

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