Turn a wall outlet into a wireless charger with the Legrand Radiant

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Wireless chargers are cheaper than ever, making it easy to put charging pads throughout your house. But what if instead of just putting charging pads everywhere, you built them straight into the wall?

That’s what Legrand envisions with the Radiant charger, which is designed to replace your regular wall outlet with a wall-mounted Qi charger (via 9to5Mac.) It’s an interesting idea with a slick look to it, but it also seems like it’d limited in actual practice.

First off, it assumes that you actually have a wall outlet that’s conveniently located at a height near eye level. (In my apartment, I’d basically be charging my phone by sticking it behind a bookshelf.) Next, if you do happen to have an outlet that’s in a good place, you’ll need to…

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Best Buy now sells a $200 per year tech support subscription

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Best Buy has launched a $200 per year subscription version of its Geek Squad service called Total Tech Support, which — despite the name — is anything but total, and is probably also a questionable value for tech support.

The service offers subscribers 24/7 tech support over the phone or online, for most tech products in the home (even if they weren’t purchased from Best Buy). Subscribers will also be able to go into Best Buy stores to receive help with basic tech support asks, like transferring data between computers, removing a virus, and something called “Level 1 Data Recovery,” which is where this also starts to sound like a Scientology scam. What is Level 2 Data Recovery? I’m not entirely sure. But I know you have to pay for it.

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Restoring A 1930s Oscilloscope – Without Supplying Power

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We’ve all done it: after happening across a vintage piece of equipment and bounding to the test bench, eager to see if it works, it gets plugged in, the power switch flipped, but… nothing. [Mr Carlson] explains why this is such a bad idea, and accompanies it with more key knowledge for a successful restoration – this time revitalising a tiny oscilloscope from the 1930s.

Resisting the temptation to immediately power on old equipment is often essential to any hope of seeing it work again. [Mr Carlson] explains why you should ensure any degraded components are fixed or replaced before …read more

Disney’s human-scale ‘Stickman’ robot can do backflips

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Humans can be great acrobats, but what about Disney robots? Disney Research has one such human-scale robot — called Stickman, because it’s literally a robotic stick — that is capable of aerial acrobatics, like backflips.

Just as certain human inventions take after nature (like body armor), it seems as if robots can take after humans. During a full backflip maneuver, Stickman swings from a ceiling-mounted wire 19.6 feet (six meters) above ground, tucks into a ball at peak height, and executes the stunt.

Stretched out, Stickman measures seven feet tall or as the Disney Research paper puts it, “to approximate the height of a human stunt performer with arms raised over his or her head” — although, it’s worth noting most gymnasts are…

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Watch how machine learning can enhance low-light images

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At this year’s Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, researcher Chen Chen presented a cool project that vastly improves the quality of images captured in low-light conditions.

Via his presentation:

Imaging in low light is challenging due to low photon count and low SNR. Short-exposure images suffer from noise, while long exposure can induce blur and is often impractical. A variety of denoising, deblurring, and enhancement techniques have been proposed, but their effectiveness is limited in extreme conditions, such as video-rate imaging at night. To support the development of learning-based pipelines for low-light image processing, we introduce a dataset of raw short-exposure low-light images, with corresponding long-exposure reference images. Using the presented dataset, we develop a pipeline for processing low-light images, based on end-to-end training of a fully-convolutional network. The network operates directly on raw sensor data and replaces much of the traditional image processing pipeline, which tends to perform poorly on such data. We report promising results on the new dataset, analyze factors that affect performance, and highlight opportunities for future work.

Here’s the full project page for more information.

Let’s enhance!

• CVPR 2018: Learning to See in the Dark (YouTube / Chen Chen)

Smiling Robot Moves Without Wires

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What could be cuter than a little robot that scuttles around its playpen and smiles all day? For the 2018 Hackaday prize [bobricius] is sharing his 2D Actuator for Micro Magnetic Robot. The name is not so cute, but it boasts a bill of materials under ten USD, so it should be perfect for educational use, which is why it is being created.

The double-layer circuit board hides six poles. Three poles run vertically, and three of them run horizontally. Each pole is analogous to a winding in a stepper motor. As the poles turn on, the magnetic shuttle moves …read more

The unrestored version of 2001: A Space Odyssey is Christopher Nolan’s ultimate demo reel for an analog future

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Christopher Nolan has seen the future, and it looks a lot like the past. Nolan is one of a handful of directors who’s made no secret of his commitment to shooting movies on film for as long as possible, even as digital filmmaking becomes the default and maybe an inevitability. In the 2012 documentary Side By Side, an enlightening examination of the digital-versus-film divide produced and hosted by Keanu Reeves, even Nolan’s longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister seemed to think the end of film was near. “I will be one of the last guys shooting film,” he tells Reeves, “and Chris Nolan will be one of the last directors using film. But I’m certain that we’ll be using digital technology within the next 10 years.”

Six years later, Nolan…

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Ryan Reynolds, Michael Bay, and the writers of Deadpool are making a Netflix movie

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Last year Netflix made its first attempt at producing a blockbuster action movie with the fantasy-action hybrid Bright, but it appears the service has upped its ambitions considerably. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be producing a new Ryan Reynolds action film called Six Underground, which will be directed by Transformers’ Michael Bay.

Bay has become synonymous with bombastic, expensive action flicks, with a filmography made up of movies like Bad Boys, The Rock, and The Transformers franchise. Six Underground will reportedly revolve around “six billionaires who fake their own death and form an elite team to take down bad guys,” but it will likely have some raucous humor thrown into the mix, as well. It was written by Paul…

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There’s going to be scratch-and-sniff postage stamps this summer

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On June 20, the U.S. Postal Service will roll out Frozen Treats, the first ever scratch-and-sniff stamps. Artist Margaret Berg of Santa Monica, California created the watercolored illustrations of ice pops featured on these special First-Class Mail Forever postage stamps.

The stamps feature illustrations of frosty, colorful, icy pops on a stick. Today, Americans love cool, refreshing ice pops on a hot summer day. The tasty, sweet confections come in a variety of shapes and flavors.
Ice pops are made by large manufacturers, home cooks and artisanal shops. In recent years, frozen treats containing fresh fruit such as kiwi, watermelon, blueberries, oranges and strawberries have become more common. In addition, flavors such as chocolate, root beer and cola are also popular. Some frozen treats even have two sticks, making them perfect for sharing.

The stamps are available for pre-order now.

How Wim Hof, “The Iceman,” withstands such extreme temperatures

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Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof is known for chilly feats like the world’s longest ice bath and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in just a pair of shorts. (Hof is the subject of the recent New York Times bestseller “What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength” by Scott Carney.) Now, researchers from Wayne State University’s School of Medicine recently used an MRI scanner to explore the science behind Hof’s dangerous stunts. From Smithsonian:

Hof attributes his success to what he has dubbed the Wim Hof Method, a type of conditioning that involves a series of breathing exercises he says anyone can replicate. Rather than by luck or accident, Hof says he learned his technique by trial and error while going out into nature: “I had to find the interconnection of my brain together with my physiology….”

Musik found that, when exposed to cold, Hof activates a part of the brain that releases opioids and cannabinoids into the body. These components can inhibit the signals responsible for telling your body you are feeling pain or cold, and trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. The result, Musik says, is a kind of euphoric effect on the body that lasts for several minutes.

“Your brain has the power to modify your pain perception,” he says, adding that this mechanism is particularly important for human survival. Pain, and the feeling of cold, are basically your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Since humans instinctively look to remove the source of pain or alleviate any sensation of cold, feeling hurt can help us survive.

Brain over body”–A study on the willful regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure(NeuroImage)

Peter Egan talks about his 1976 BMW R90 S and some other bike

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Without question the 1976 BMW R90s is the high watermark of motorcycle design and engineering. I absolutely love mine. Listening to Peter Egan, a legendary motorcycle journalist, talk about his and some other bike he compares it to, is a lot of fun.

If Egan had a Daytona Orange model no one would have noticed the other bike. Daytona Orange is not only faster, it handles better.

Free pulp sci-fi, mystery, crime and fantasy magazines? Yes please!

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I love low-rent pulp magazines from the 1920s right through to the early 1980s. Trashy, flashy and a constant pleasure to read, I used to own a ton of the things in varying conditions. If I saw it and it was still in a condition where I could read it, I’d fork over folding money for the privilege of inhaling the smell of rotting, low quality paper and the sweet sense of abuse one can enjoy at the mercy of ham-handed prose. Unfortunately, I had to unload my collection a few years back: there was just no room for it in the nomadic lifestyle that my wife and I are currently living—paying for a storage space to keep stuff I just don’t need is an entanglement that I’m not OK with.

Thankfully, the good people at Open Culture discovered that a cache of over 11,000 pulp magazines has been digitized and posted online where pulp geeks like me can access them for the low, low price of free.

The Pulp Magazine Archive contains treasures printed on low-quality paper that have publication dates ranging from the late 1800s through to the 1950s. Each magazine in the Archive can be viewed online using the website or downloaded in a number of formats to be read offline, including options for use with tablets, Kindle and Kobo e-readers.

I don’t know about you, but my downtime for the next few years is spoken for.

Image via The Pulp Magazine Archive

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