Transparent padlock and lockpicking tools

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I bought this for my daughter for her birthday and we both it. It’s a $10 transparent padlock that lets you see the inner workings as you poke them with lockpicking tools. Amazon stopped selling low-priced lock-picks but they are dirt-cheap on eBay. Buy one for yourself, and another for your favorite juvenile hacker.

How to eat a crunchy shell taco without having it explode on you

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Crunchy shell tacos are delicious, but also challenging. They have a hair-trigger tendency to blow up when you bite them, causing the filling to spill out. Patrick Allan of Lifehacker has discovered the best way to improve your odds of having a happy taco experience.

Take your first bite at the end of the taco. I recommend the classic “taco neck” method. Then follow up with the next two smaller bites labeled above, making your way toward the center. Now, spin it around and repeat the process on the other side. Eventually you’ll be left with two big bites in the center, and the shell should still be intact. Enjoy those last few moments of tasty taco bliss. Alternatively, if you take really big bites, you can replace 2 and 3 with just “2,” replace 4 with “3,” replace 5 and 6 with “4,” and replace 7 and 8 with just “5.”

We make tacos about once a week. One of our best purchases was a set of stainless steel taco holders.

New book about psychedelics and weird human experiences

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David Luke, a University of Greenwich psychology lecturer and researcher of high weirdness, has a new book out with the compelling title of Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience. Based on the blurb, it sounds like an absolute trip:

A psychonautic scientific trip to the weirdest outposts of the psychedelic terrain, inhaling anything and everything relevant from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies, cultural history, shamanism and the occult along the way.

Staring the strange straight in the third eye this eclectic collection of otherworldly entheogenic research delivers a comprehensive and yet ragtaglledy scientific exploration of synaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and lycanthropy. Essentially, its everything you ever wanted to know about weird psychedelic experiences, but were too afraid to ask…

Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience(via Daily Grail)

The Stranger Things and Ready Player One trailers are the best and worst of nostalgia-driven marketing

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At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, audiences got their first look at two highly anticipated geek-culture properties. Stranger Things, Netflix’s ode to Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, got a second season trailer exploring the show’s expanding mythos, set to the iconic sounds of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” And Spielberg himself took to Comic-Con’s Hall H stage to reveal a teaser for Ready Player One, his adaptation of Ernest Cline’s best-selling pop-culture treasure-hunt adventure.

At first glance, they were perfect pieces of marketing for the Comic-Con crowds, both relying on the nostalgic pull that serves as the foundation for so much modern fandom. Stranger Things’ imagery of kids wearing Ghostbusters costumes, set to Vincent Price’s…

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Xiaomi’s new smart speaker costs $130 less than an Amazon Echo

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Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi launched two new gadgets today: the Mi 5X smartphone, and a new smart speaker called the Mi AI Speaker. While the smartphone is somewhat interesting, if only because it features a dual-camera system, the speaker is certainly the more intriguing announcement.

The device includes a six-microphone array and is designed to be the hub for all of Xiaomi’s smart home products, which the company says includes 60 million connected devices, like rice cookers, vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, fans, and lamps. The speaker will launch in China in August through a beta program. Only 1,000 people will test it at first, and their use will let Xiaomi further refine the voice controls. The speaker will work like…

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Packet expands its global infrastructure with 11 new edge locations

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 Packet is quickly making a name for itself thanks to its unopinionated bare metal cloud. Today, the company is expanding its product portfolio with the launch of its new Edge Compute service in 15 data center locations around the world. Eleven of these locations are new and complement Packet’s existing offerings in New York, Sunnyvale, Amsterdam and Tokyo. The idea behind these new… Read More

John McCain is the “perfect American lie” says Drew Magary

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When Drew Magary was much younger he gave John McCain’s Presidential campaign $5. He regrets it. McCain “has always been a big talker,” write Magary in GQ, “but when it comes to the actual meat-and-potatoes voting process, he falls in line.”

Snip:

Everyone should realize that John McCain is the perfect American lie, a man who professes to be noble and fair and just while being none of those things. He served his country honorably in combat, but in no other fashion. And he serves out his time in the Senate, and here on planet Earth, as a pathetic enabler. Never the lion; always the sheep. For seventeen years, gullible people have been waiting for him to make his face turn, to make some grand defiant move for the sake of God and country. But that was always just clever branding on his part, and today should serve as a cold slap in the face to anyone who still thought he might have that kind of political courage left in him. He’s a fucking disgrace.

Image: Jim Greenhill

Friday Hack Chat: Crowd Supply

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Crowdfunding is a mixed bag, at best. On one hand, you have fantastically successful products like Pebble, Oculus, and the Kano personal computer that managed to take in money, turn out a product, and become a successful company. (If even just for a while, the Pebble was great.) On the other hand, you have obvious scams like a color-picking pen that are run by a literal Nigerian scammer.

Crowd Supply is different. Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, to get on Crowd Supply you’ll need a working prototype. Where other platforms can measure their success by how many campaigns were successfully funded, …read more

How close are we to building the virtual Big Market from Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?

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In Luc Besson’s science-fiction fantasy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, one of the major action sequences takes place in a space called the Big Market. It’s a sort of hyperdimensional mall where tourists show up in busses to strap on VR gear and wander around in a desert, while virtually experiencing a promised 1 million shops. Valerian’s Big Market has some technology that we aren’t likely to achieve anytime soon. It isn’t just virtual reality: the stores exist in a different dimension, and shoppers can access their purchases instantly by yanking them through a dimensional portal at the checkout stand. But apart from instant delivery, most of the market could be adapted to real-world virtual reality technology, and in that…

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Verge Editor’s Choice: Peak Design Everyday Backpack

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If you want to call it peak hipster, I won’t argue with that. I won’t argue and I won’t care. The Peak Design Everyday Backpack expresses an opinion that not everyone will agree with, but that’s why I like it so much. This backpack’s designers believe in a sort of stylish modularity that sacrifices maximum space efficiency for the sake of better access to your stuff and, in all honesty, sharper looks.

Is it vain that my top choice of backpack is motivated in part by the way it makes me look? Yes. And it’s also real. As with the majority of other everyday gadgets and items, we’re long past the stage of merely utilitarian concerns when picking bags. Aesthetics absolutely do matter with our choice of gear carrier, and it so happens that I…

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Whoa, check out the bezels on this jellyfish tank

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Jellyfish are majestic creatures. When displayed with some colorful backlights, the animal’s translucent body and natural bioluminescence can be a visual delight, and they make for popular exhibits at various museums around the world. The folks at Cubic Aquarium know how cool jellyfish can look in your home, so they created a tank with built-in, color-changing LED lights to bring the best out of your new aquatic pets.

It’s also worth noting that, in particular, the Pulse 160 tank looks just like an iPhone laid sideways. Check out those near-invisible bezels!

The tank holds 46 gallons of water and can keep up to 15 large jellies, so you can pretend they’re floating app icons swirling around your screen.

Also worth noting:…

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Marvel editor hopes upcoming Thrawn comic book series is just the beginning

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Last year, one of the Star Wars Expanded Universe’s biggest fan-favorite characters, Grand Admiral Thrawn, was given new life. He appeared in the third season of Star Wars Rebels and was featured in his own novel. Last week at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Comics announced that the character would be the focus of a new comic miniseries.

The comic will adapt Thrawn by Timothy Zahn, which detailed the origins of the character, tracking how he rose through the ranks of the Imperial Navy. The comic will also include some additional material. This new series will be written by Jody Houser, who adapted Rogue One for Marvel, and illustrated by Luke Ross, who’s worked on comics such as Spider-Man and Captain America. The series will be released…

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Microsoft’s new Azure Container Instances make using containers fast and easy

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 Barely a day passes without some news about containers and that speaks to how quickly this technology is being adopted by developers and the platforms and startups that serve them. Today it’s Microsoft’s turn to launch a new container service for its Azure cloud computing platform: Azure Container Instances (ACI). The company also today announced that it is joining the Cloud… Read More

Blue is a dating app for verified Twitter users

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 A new app is looking to romantically match folks who are verified Twitter users. Blue, by Loveflutter, has launched a new version of their existing dating app that only allows Twitter users with that little blue tick to search for love, and only amongst their fellow blue-tick holders. Loveflutter has actually been around for a while, pivoting from matches based on shared interests (innovative!)… Read More

Off The Record sessions will tackle the big topics at Disrupt SF

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 At TechCrunch Disrupt, thousands of rapt attendees watch great interviews on stage only to feel a bit disappointed. Why? They can’t get follow up on the discussion afterwards to address their specific questions. So at Disrupt SF (Sept. 18-20) we are introducing a new twist for attendees who want to keep the conversation going. We call it Off The Record sessions and the idea is to… Read More

Home Automation: Evolution of a Term

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Home automation: for me the term recalls rich dudes in the ’80s who could turn off their garage lights with remote-control pads. The stereotype for that era was the more buttons your system had—even non-enabled ones—the more awesome it was, and by extension any luxury remote control had to be three times the size of any TV remote.

And it was a luxury–the hardware was expensive and most people couldn’t justify it. Kind of like the laser-disc player of home improvements. The technology was opaque to casual tinkering, it cost a lot to buy, and also was expensive to install. …read more

Maywa Denki’s Nonsense Machines

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We just spent a few hours trying to figure out Japanese techno-performance-art-toy company [Maywa Denki]. As self-described “parallel-world electricians”, the small art collective turns out strange electro-mechanical instruments, creates bellows-powered “singing” sculptures, and puts on concerts/demos/lectures. And if you desperately need an extension cord in the shape of a fish skeleton, [Maywa Denki] has you covered. Writing about art is like dancing about economics, so first we’ll just drop a few of our favorites and let you decide.

On the serious art front are “nonsense machines” like SeaMoonsII and Wahha Go Go. The most iconic performance piece is probably the …read more

On-demand trucking app Convoy doesn’t want to be the ‘Uber for trucking’ anymore

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When it launched in 2015, the Seattle-based truck technology company Convoy aptly described itself as the “Uber for trucking.” Like the ride-hail service, Convoy built an app to match trucking companies with shippers that need to move freight. And after all, Uber had showed no interest in the $700 billion trucking industry at that time, so Convoy obviously felt safe in making that claim.

A year and a half later, and things have changed dramatically. Convoy isn’t the only tech startup interested in changing the trucking industry. Amazon is reportedly working on a similar service that would pair drivers with companies that need goods delivered. More significantly, there’s a new entrant in the field that can more confidently describe…

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Chromebooks may get text notifications soon

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Your text messages may show up on your Chromebook in the near future, according to screenshots published by ChromeUnboxed. A user found a toggle in the dev version of Chrome OS called “SMS Connect” which states you can get text notifications right on your Chromebook.

Image: ChromeUnboxed

You have to activate a setting called “Enable Multidevice features” before SMS Connect will even show up in the dev version of Chrome OS, but don’t even bother — the feature isn’t active yet. Right now the toggle is a placeholder, but it could lead to some iMessage-like features for Chrome users in the near future.

The feature could work in partnership with Assistant, which may be on its way to Chrome OS, or it may just work like…

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