NASA’s 2017-2018 Software Catalog is Out

See the original posting on Hackaday

Need some help sizing your beyond-low-Earth-orbit vehicle? Request NASA’s BLAST software. Need to forecast the weather on Venus? That would be Venus-GRAM (global reference atmospheric model). Or maybe you just want to play around with the NASA Tensegrity Robotics Toolkit. (We do!) Then it’s a good thing that part of NASA’s public mandate is making their software available. And the 2017-2018 Software Catalog (PDF) has just been released.

Unfortunately, not everything that NASA does is open source, and a substantial fraction of the software suites are only available for code “to be used on behalf of the U.S. Government”. But …read more

Simplify your rave setup with iLuv’s new Rainbow8 HomeKit light bulb

See the original posting on The Verge

Hey, I’m sure you wanted a new smart light. Maybe you haven’t gotten around to buying one yet, or, perhaps, you were holding out a HomeKit-enabled bulb that doesn’t require a hub. I’ve got news for you: iLuv just launched a light that works with HomeKit, meaning you can use Siri for controls. It also doesn’t need a hub; instead pairs over Wi-Fi. Called the Rainbow8, the LED light glows in millions of programmable colors and can group with other bulbs, so you can control multiple at once. You can even program them on a schedule to turn on when you get home or are going to sleep.

Now, you’ve got multiple smart light options for HomeKit, which you can check out in Apple’s handy list. But not requiring a hub is definitely a perk of iLuv….

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Spotify considered ending Uber partnership amid mounting scandals

See the original posting on The Verge

As criticism of Uber has mounted over the past month, one of its most prominent partners has discussed whether to continue its relationship with the company. Spotify decided not to participate in a press campaign about an upcoming update to the Uber app, The Verge has learned. In an internal company-wide email, the company’s head of product refers to discussions the company held about ending Uber’s API access, which allows riders to control a driver’s sound system from their smartphones.

“For me, given the views I’ve shared with you regarding Uber and the practices that have been on display there recently, even staying on Uber is not a straightforward decision,” wrote Gustav Söderström, Spotify’s head of product. “But it also doesn’t…

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TechCrunch launches ‘Equity,’ a venture capital-focused podcast

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Today we’re excited to announce the launch of ‘Equity,’ TechCrunch’s new venture-capital focused podcast. Matthew Lynley, Alex Wilhelm and myself will be its regular hosts, but the show will also feature special guests from the community. As a group we’ll tackle massive funding rounds (both down and up), notable acquisitions, interesting IPOs and more. We know… Read More

Instagram is the latest nexus of the Marines photo sharing scandal

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Following the revelation that a private Facebook group with 30,000 members targeted female Marines in a non-consensual photo sharing ring, other toxic online communities are popping up — and proving that the Marines United scandal is by no means an isolated incident. This week, a group known as Just The Tip Of The Spear, commonly abbreviated JTTOTS, was booted from Instagram for… Read More

31% off Luma 3-Piece Whole Home Mesh WiFi System – Deal Alert

See the original posting on JavaWorld

Regardless of your home’s size or shape, these 3 powerful Luma devices work together to create an extremely fast, ultra-secure surround WiFi network that’s customized for your home. No more fiddling with extra WiFi extenders to manage dead spots and weak zones. Luma puts you in control. With a few simple taps, you can pause the internet, filter what your kids are looking at online, or set house rules for your network. Luma also secures your devices and neutralizes threats, keeping you in control of your network. The Luma whole house WiFi system averages 4 out of 5 stars from over 1,100 people on Amazon (read recent reviews), where its typical list price of $399 has been reduced 31% to $275.95. See this deal now on Amazon.

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Retrotechtacular: How Old is the Remote?

See the original posting on Hackaday

A few weeks ago we covered a (probably) bogus post about controlling a TV with the IR from a flame. That got us thinking about what the real origin of the remote control was. We knew a story about the 38 kHz frequency commonly used to modulate the IR. We’ve heard that it was from sonar crystals used in earlier sonic versions of remotes. Was that true? Or just an urban myth? We set out to find out.

Surprise! Remotes are Old!

If you are a younger reader, you might assume TVs have always had remotes. But for many of …read more

Sony’s patent for wireless charging between devices will test your friendship

See the original posting on The Verge

Asking a pal to tether over some data when you’re running close to the cap (or at least, the throttle cap) is trying enough, but soon you might have something else to test the limits of your friendships. According to a new patent by Sony, published earlier this month, the Japanese giant wants you to be able to mooch battery power wirelessly from nearby devices.

The patent, filed in 2016, suggests that Sony is envisioning a future where consumer electronics can transfer power between one another without cords. This would eliminate the need to always carry around power banks, provided your friends are willing to share or if you have multiple devices that can boost one another’s charge to last the day. The patent focuses mostly around ways…

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Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 could be a regular laptop and arrive next month

See the original posting on The Verge

Microsoft surprised everyone with its unveiling of the Surface Book laptop with a detachable display, but the software maker might not bring this tablet feature to its Surface Book 2. DigiTimes reports that Microsoft’s new Surface Book has entered mass production and could be unveiled by the end of the month or April. The timing is hardly surprising given persistent rumors about the Surface Book successor over the past year, but DigiTimes also claims Microsoft will adopt a clamshell design for the Surface Book 2 instead of existing 2-in-1 design.

It’s hard to read too much into DigiTimes’ report as the publication has a mixed record on these types of predictions, but it’s worth noting that DigiTimes first accurately reported that…

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Sephora’s latest app update lets you try virtual makeup on at home with AR

See the original posting on The Verge

Sephora is joining multiple other companies in recognizing the importance AR is going to play in future beauty product shopping.

The makeup retailer introduced a “Sephora Virtual Assistant” this week in an update to its iOS app. The feature, which was developed in partnership with AR company ModiFace, scans your face, figures out where your lips and eyes are, and lets you try on different looks.

Right now, you can only play with lip colors, eyeshadows, and false lash styles. If you like the look, well, you can buy it. Convenient! The app also offers “virtual tutorials” that show you how to contour, apply highlighter, and create winged eyeliner. It overlays the tutorial on your face.

I played around with…

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Google Home is playing audio ads for Beauty and the Beast

See the original posting on The Verge

Today some Google Home owners are hearing something extra when they ask for a summary of the day ahead from the smart speaker: an advertisement for the opening of Beauty and the Beast. Several users on Reddit have noticed the audio ad and Bryson Meunier posted a clip to Twitter. The ad is delivered using the regular Google Assistant voice, so it blends in seamlessly with the other information — but some people still aren’t happy about it.

“By the way, Disney’s live action Beauty and The Beast opens today,” the Assistant says, after covering the usual time,…

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Prison pen is bendy, “non-lethal”

See the original posting on Boing Boing

The Flexi-Pen is the writing utensil of choice in prisons because it can’t be used to shiv someone. I bet it’s fun to fidget with too. Amazon sells a five pack for $13.

The Flexi-Pen is made with a soft rubbery material that bends under the slightest pressure, making it nearly impossible to do lethal damage with it. It’s as close to a stab-resistant, non-lethal weapon you can get, while still providing the subject with a workable ballpoint pen to write with.

It’s ideal for use in interview rooms, holding cells, and in any prison or jail environment. You go to great lengths to confiscate any potential weapon when taking a prisoner into custody, so why would you want to hand him one afterward?

5pk Prison Pen Flexible Ball Point Writing Pen Tool – Non Lethal (Amazon)

Leaving kids in front of screens unsupervised for hours may have unpleasant consequences, parents learn

See the original posting on Boing Boing

We all did so well keeping our kids away from obvious traps like 4chan, but it turns out that during those endless unsupervised hours watching Minecraft videos and Twitch streams, their hosts were muttering on about anime and black IQs and what to do about The Jews. And now our kids are hitting their teens, it’s coming out of them like the first belches of sewage from a blocked toilet, and, well, here we all are in 2017!

…again this week with the news that YouTube video gaming personality JonTron had made several racist and anti-semitic statements. JonTron — real name Jon Jafari — started his week by tweeting support for Iowa representative Steve King on Sunday, after King made the troubling claim that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Jafari then doubled down on this stance in an interview with fellow streamer Steven “Destiny” Bonnell, complaining of the erosion of a “unifying culture” in the United States, portraying Black Lives Matter as violent terrorists, and repeatedly making portentous warnings that white people would become the minority in American society. …

On YouTube, these fringe opinions are insidious, too. They’re not set to Leni Riefenstahl films or videos of the Nuremberg Rallies — they dribble out during video game streams, or in Twitch chat, or in YouTube’s never-ending “up next” queue. These are ostensibly benign spaces that have become politicized in recent years, but not so loudly that the average parent will be able to clock the association. As the Gizmodo commenter notes, the kids’ parents see video games and “it’s not a red flag.”

The bedroom resentments of adolescent boys are the new mass media; they’re desperate for fraternity, they find the others, and they never get the chance to grow out of it before it’s too late. And then there are the ringleader types–older, odder men with an opportunistic talent for lurking close to both youngsters and fame, desperate for the latter but stuck with the former. We’re already too accustomed to watching them implode; eventually one of them will be cunning and consistent enough and then we’ll really be off to the races.

One objection: The Verge’s headline notwithstanding, there’s never really been much of a secret about what these guys talk about, has there? People just didn’t take it seriously until Trump, until folks other than women and minorities were subjected to it. Before, it was all ironic.

The daring doctors experimenting with psychedelic medicines

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Rolling Stone’s Mac McClelland tells the story of the physicians bravely breaking the law by treating patients with MDMA, ayahuasca, DMT, LSD, and other hallucinogens. From RS:

As an internal-medicine specialist, Dr. X doesn’t have any patients who come to him seeking psychotherapy. But the longer he does the work, the more “I’m seeing that consciousness correlates to disease,” he says. “Every disease.” Narcolepsy. Cataplexy. Crohn’s. Diabetes – one patient’s psychedelic therapy preceded a 30 percent reduction in fasting blood-sugar levels. Sufferers of food allergies discover in their journeys that they’ve been internally attacking themselves. “Consciousness is so vastly undervalued,” Dr. X says. “We use it in every other facet in our life and esteem the intellectual part of it, but deny the emotional or intuitive part of it.” Psychedelic therapy “reinvigorated my passion and belief in healing. I think it’s the best tool to achieving well-being, so I feel morally and ethically compelled to open up that space.”…

“If we didn’t have some idea about the potential importance of these medicines, we wouldn’t be researching them,” says Dr. Jeffrey Guss, psychiatry professor at NYU Medical Center and co-investigator of the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Project. “Their value has been written about and is well known from thousands of years of recorded history, from their being used in religious and healing settings. Their potential and their being worthy of exploration and study speaks for itself.”

Optimistic insiders think that if all continues to go well, within 10 to 15 years some psychedelics could be legally administrable to the public, not just for specific conditions but even for personal growth. In the meantime, says Rick Doblin, MAPS’ executive director, “there are hundreds of therapists willing to work with illegal Schedule I psychedelics” underground, like Dr. X. They’re in Florida, Minnesota, New York, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New England, Lexington, Kentucky. “Hundreds in America,” he says, though they’re “spread out all over the world.”

As within any field, underground practitioners vary in quality, expertise and method. Some are M.D.s, like Dr. X, or therapists, and some are less conventionally trained. They don’t all use the same substances, and don’t necessarily use just one. Some work with MDMA or psilocybin or ayahuasca, which has become trendy to drink in self-exploration ceremonies all over the country; others administer 5-MeO-DMT, extracted from a toad in the Sonoran Desert, or iboga or ibogaine, which, according to the scant research that exists, may be one of the most effective cures for opiate addiction on the planet – but may also cause fatal heart complications.

How some doctors are risking everything to unleash the healing power of MDMA, ayahuasca and other hallucinogens(Rolling Stone)

Python 101: All About Dictionaries

See the original posting on DZone Python

The Python programming language has several built-in types that it supports. One of my favorites is the dictionary. A dictionary is a mapping object that maps hashable values to arbitrary objects (source). Other languages call dictionaries “hash tables.” They are mutable objects that you can change whenever you want to, unlike tuples. A dictionary’s keys must be hashable or immutable, which means that you cannot use a list or another dictionary as a key. Note that dictionaries are not ordered. What this means is that when you iterate over a dictionary, you may not extract the values in the same order that you inserted them.

In this article, we will take some time to learn about some of the many things you can do with a dictionary.

Uber rebuilt its navigation app with drivers in mind

See the original posting on The Verge

Anyone who frequently uses ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft knows the frustration that can come from a driver and rider trying to find each other. Sometimes the driver is on the wrong side of the street, or misses their turn — and sometimes the rider gives terrible directions over the phone.

Uber wants to fix that and has reworked the navigation system it builds into the Uber Driver app in a bid to get everyone to where they’re going more quickly. The navigation system has been redesigned on iOS, and will be coming soon to Android for the first time.

Screenshot: Uber

A navigation app like Google Maps or Waze — which a number of ride-sharing service drivers turn to — is basically designed to get someone from…

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Vevo’s Watch Party feature is like for music videos

See the original posting on The Verge was a social music site that let users join together in a virtual room and listen to music together (right up until it died because apparently licensing music is super expensive). But Vevo is taking another shot at social listening with a new Watch Party feature in an effort to try and expand its service beyond being just a music video provider, according to a report from TechCrunch.

Like, Watch Party drops users into a virtual room, where they can add tracks, vote on selections of songs to listen to next, and chat with each other. The host of the room ultimately gets final say on what gets played, when, and also severs as a moderator of sorts for the chat feature.

Vevo is building Watch Party out of its…

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Swatch is making its own smartwatch operating system

See the original posting on The Verge

In a blow to Android Wear, massive watchmaker Swatch Group is choosing to develop its own smartwatch operating system rather than go with Google’s OS designed for the wrist. “There’s a possibility for wearables to develop as a consumer product, but you have to miniaturize and have an independent operating system,” CEO Nick Hayek told Bloomberg in an interview today.

The unnamed OS will “need less battery power” — a common gripe for even brand new smartwatches — and “protect data better,” which, uh, is not something that’s been a pressing request. A Tissot-branded watch due in late 2018 will be the first to ship with the software.

Hayek said his company is taking a “think small” approach and building software that could potentially also…

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Amazon brings Alexa to the iPhone

See the original posting on The Verge

Amazon is bringing Alexa to the iPhone today right inside of the company’s main app.

While this isn’t the first time Alexa has been on a smartphone — third parties have made it happen already — this is the first time it’s coming directly from Amazon. And it could be a huge help to anyone who’s filling their home with Alexa-enabled devices.

Inside of the Amazon App for iOS, there will be a microphone icon near the top of the screen that you can press to call up Alexa. You’ll be able to ask the assistant almost anything you’d normally be able to ask through a device like the Echo. That includes everything from having it make purchases for you, look up facts, or control smart home products.


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