Pi replaces Keiko-chan

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[Tobias Kuhn] built Crystal Signal Pi, a Raspberry Pi based low-cost alternative for a notification device that provides visual, audio and network warnings about server problems. [Tobias] works for a Japanese company where it is critical for their servers to keep humming nicely all the time. Any emergencies or error conditions must be broadcast immediately so the technicians can fix it ASAP. Network enabled warning light stalks are used to provide these alerts. A local company produces a series of indicator and hazard warning lights which are colloquially called as Keiko-chan. These are similar to the hazard warning tower lights …read more

How rolls of turf are made

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Rolls of turf are made exactly how you imagine they would be: a huge truck courses over a well-kept lawn, literally screeds off three inches of grass and soil, then automatically cuts, rolls, and stacks the resulting sheets of turf.

The remorseless perfection of the machine, here, reminds me of my first real job out of college, at a newspaper. The break room was peculiarly enormous, a little kitchen tucked into one corner, dominated by a vast expanse the table and chairs couldn’t fill. I wondered at this odd layout for months until someone clued me in: that’s where the lead, linotype and a dozen guys with pica rules used to be before they were all canned and replaced by a couple of computers.

Roll on, fully automated gay space communism!

Skelly The Skeleton Is A Scary Good Musician

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There are a lot of things to like about [BoneConstructor]’s Skelly the skeleton robot project. Note that we said, “project”. That’s because not only does the robot work well and is built well, but the journey he took to make it contains steps we’ve all taken ourselves. We can say that with confidence since it’s his first, and we’ve all had those.

Skelly started life as a skeleton sitting in [BoneConstructor]’s antique race car at local car shows. Its eyes lit up and it made a moaning sound, which didn’t always work right.  From there came lessons learned with head …read more

You are a horrifying amorphous alien blob in this gruesome game

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In most examples of sci-fi horror, a desperate human protagonist must evade, hunt and vanquish the unspeakable alien creature. But what if you were a horrific amorphous nightmare blob, crawling around the red-cast darkness of a failing space colony in search of prey to devour?

This is the premise of Sebastian Kro?kiewicz’s “Carrion”, and it looks amazing. Part John Carpenter’s Katamari Damacy, part Shoggoth simulator, all gore, the prototype animations depict a claustrophobic industrial scenario with our hero sliming and slorping around its terrified human victims.

It’s early days, by the looks of it; Kro?kiewicz’s BUTCHER, a more traditional bug hunt, is already on offer for $10.

Car-Cade Build Drives Unthrottled Determination

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Remember those dashboard-shaped racing games from the ’80s, like Tomy Turnin’ Turbo? [Daniel] has long wanted to bring one of those into the modern age. After finding that someone beat him to it, he went in another direction and built his own mini-cabinet from the ground up, dedicated to Dirt Rally.

The idea was to build the smallest possible computer than can run SteamOS and fit inside of a cabinet printed on a Prusa clone. At first, [Daniel] tried driving a MinnowBoard around. The frame rate was atrocious, so he switched to an ASUS mini-STX board and went from there. …read more

The promise and peril of reading your genome in 2017 (or for that matter, 2018)

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Imagine that a folded note before you reveals — definitively — whether an excruciating, protracted neurological death lies a decade into your future. Should you look?

Do so, and you could be rid of the grim uncertainty. Or, you could be fated to live and die with an awful truth. One which will haunt you, but also let you shape your remaining years with a foreknowledge most of us lack.

This is a terrible quandary no one should face. But one person in 10,000 carries a genetic vulnerability to a gruesome affliction called Huntington’s Disease. You almost certainly do not. But for those with a family history of Huntington’s, the odds can be as high as 50/50. And in certain genetic configurations, the disease has 100% “penetrance” – meaning that all who carry the mutation are doomed. This makes the results of a Huntington’s test as close to an iron-clad prediction as genetics ever gets.

Before the test was created, a remarkably high percentage of people with family histories said they’d take it if given the chance. But once the test was available, roughly 90% of those people changed their minds. This makes it nigh impossible to know what we ourselves would do if faced with that choice.

But all of us will face a version of that choice very soon – albeit a far less stark, and radically more ambiguous version. And roughly 0.000% of us are in a position to make that choice in an adequately-informed and emotionally-prepared manner. The choice is whether to have our full genomes read, and to learn of the innumerable consequences and uncertainties that lie therein.

My guest, Robert Green, has spent more time thinking about this than almost anyone, and our interview delves to the core of this intensely fraught and personal decision. You can hear it by searching “After On” in your favorite podcast app, or by clicking right here:

Robert has many affiliations: he directs the Genomes2People research program, is a medical geneticist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, is a Professor at Harvard Medical School, and an Associate at the Broad Institute. In all of these guises, he investigates the consequences of accessing personal genetic knowledge. Some believe this information can be – quite literally – toxic. As in, akin to ingesting a substance whose package flies the Jolly Roger. Others find that viewpoint offensively paternalistic. Robert’s own perspective is deeply nuanced and (an overused word, which nonetheless applies perfectly here) wise.

This stems from sharing the most devastating, the most exhilarating, and the most ambiguous genetic news imaginable with countless patients and families over the years. And the happy outcomes are at least as dramatic as the tragic ones. Our interview discusses a newborn whose full genome was sequenced as part of tiny experimental project. Robert’s team learned that she had a mild version exotic genetic condition, which might have cost her many IQ points or resulted in future seizures. But by discovering this so early, they were able to resolve the problem – painlessly and risklessly – with a simple vitamin supplement. Had that newborn been in the 99.999% majority who are not genetically analyzed, she could have been hobbled in a way that neither she nor her family would have ever suspected.

For now, heroic outcomes like this are as rare as tragedies like Huntington’s disease. But both will become far more common as millions, then billions of genomes are gradually read and matched to health histories. Already, Robert estimates that 15-20% of us carry an identifiable genetic predisposition to one of several thousand rare disease. Individually, each of these conditions is exceedingly rare – but collectively, they’re far more common than blue eyes or left-handedness. Very few have the 100% penetrance of certain Huntington’s variations. But in many cases, carriers will endure a “fragment” of the disease at some stage of life.

How many? And what behaviors, supplements, or incantations would improve or worsen the odds? In almost all case, we have absolutely no idea. For now. Our understanding of innumerable genetic realities will emerge relentlessly, yet slowly, from the murk, like the details of a coastline approached in heavy fog.

As for right now, you could have your full genome read tomorrow for a thousand-ish bucks. Even with the best interpretation services (which would cost far more) you’d probably learn of hundreds of low-penetrance tendencies. Ones which will interact with your environment and lifestyle in unknowably complex ways. That said, you might stumble upon a death sentence. Or, a life-saving or -enhancing fact like that lucky newborn.

Over the coming decade, the actionable information we glean from our genomes will rise exponentially, even as the cost of accessing it drops precipitously. How precipitously? Well, just fourteen years ago, it cost three billion dollars and took thirteen years to read a single human genome – the very procedure you could get done for a thousand-ish bucks tomorrow afternoon.

The cost of having you genome read will soon reach $0.00, as countless parties will gladly do it for free in exchange for getting your data. You should think very carefully before entering that bargain. But whoever pays for the actual sequencing, full genomic data will soon be as widespread as cholesterol readings.

My podcast is anything but a self-help program, so it’s exceedingly rare for me to urge people to listen to it for direct personal benefit. But this is a rare episode that I believe offers almost anyone intensely relevant wisdom, for themselves and all of their genetic relatives. So I do hope you find time for it.

Google Home learns how to multitask

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Google’s smart speaker got a little smarter this week, with the addition of a multitasking feature. The new capability makes it possible for the device to accomplish two different missions at the same time. It was rolled out with little fanfare and first noted by CNET. We’ve since confirmed the addition with Google. It’s a bit surprising that the company rolled it out to… Read More

Qualcomm alleges that Apple’s iPhone infringes on Palm Pre patents

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 Shortly after the announcement of the iPhone X in September, my colleague Natasha Lomas noted the similarities between the phone and how WebOS operated on the Palm Pre. She ended her article, noting “in the iPhone X it’s clear you’re looking at a little ghost of the Pre.” It seems that Qualcomm’s legal team was taking note. Read More

The best strap-on unicorn horn

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After careful examination of several practically-identical products and a thorough delve into reader reviews, I can finally make my long-awaited recommendation for a strap-on unicorn horn: the YanJie Shiny (~$10, Amazon).

Aside from the critical rainbow model, it comes in various colors, is adjustable, and has the all-important strap so it doesn’t come off your head when under extended or vigorous use.

It is five inches long, made of polyester, and a buck or two more expensive than the competition. For an item so important, though, it’s worth splurging.

“I am an ‘average sized’ adult and I wore this for a party,” writes D.T. “it fit perfectly.”

“Using for cosplay and cosplay only,” reports Queen of the Succubi. “It is legit enough.”

“We love it, dog hates it,” cautions Daniel. “What more can I say.”

If you know of a superior shiny rainbow strap-on unicorn horn, tell us about it in the comments!

YanJie Shiny Unicorn Horn [Amazon]

Tis the Season for Terror with DIY Krampus

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The holiday season is full of many sounds; walking through your neighborhood on a winter night you may hear time-honored songs, the tinkling of glasses, and the laughter of good company. But if the chilly wind also brings to your ear the panicked sounds of screaming children, you may have wandered a bit to close to [Tyler Garner]’s house.

Rather than old Saint Nick or a couple of reindeer, [Tyler] decided to top the roof of his home with a disturbingly well done rendition of everyone’s favorite Austro-Bavarian goat-demon, Krampus. While he did finish the build off with a store-bought …read more

DxO’s detachable One camera is available now for Android for $499 through an early access program

See the original posting on The Verge

It’s been a long time coming, but Android users can finally get their hands on a USB-C version of DxO’s detachable smartphone camera — sort of. DxO isn’t doing an “official” launch of the Android camera just yet, but if you’d like to get in on the action early, you can sign up for the company’s “Early Access pack” for $499 over at the DxO website, according to Android Central.

That $499 gets you the USB-C version of the DxO One that was designed for Android phones a few months ago, along with a rugged Outdoor Shell access to DxO’s PhotoLab software. It’s the same price that the original DxO One for iOS runs for, which doesn’t make this a bad deal either.

The only caveat is that DxO is only listing a few phones that will support the…

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Pikachu is the ambassador of Osaka, and our hearts

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Hot off Pikachu’s recent achievement of horrifying Pokémon fans everywhere by actually talking, Japanese Foreign Minister Tar? K?no awarded the electric mouse mascot the title of cultural ambassador. A gawky, tall version of Hello Kitty got the title as well.

Pikachu’s new honor as ambassador is a clever promotional tactic to win Japan the chance to host Expo 2025, even though Expo 2020 hasn’t rolled around yet. The World Expo, a gathering to discuss “universal challenges of our time,” takes place every five years. The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) elects the host location of each event. Dubai is set for 2020, while France, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Japan are currently vying for the 2025 spot. None of the other countries,…

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SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy launch will now take place in 2018

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 SpaceX had been planning to launch its huge Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time this year, with a timeframe set most recently for sometime in November. Here on the last day of November, we know that’s not happening – but now we also know we won’t see a Falcon Heavy launch before early 2018 at least. We shouldn’t have to wait that long into next year, however;… Read More

Google Maps gets updated for iPhone X

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The iPhone X came out almost a month ago, and now one of the most anticipated app updates has finally arrived for the new phone: Google has updated Maps for the iPhone X’s screen.

The sprawling maps do look pretty nice on the new iPhone, although Google may need to rethink its UI a bit for the taller screen. The company took a few extra weeks for what should have been a day one update, but it didn’t use that time to change any of the basic interfaces for the new phone. That means that the search bar is much higher up than on the older version of the app, and the hamburger menu that opens up the left pane for additional options is practically unreachable with one hand now.

Still, it’s better than nothing, I…

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Mathieu Stephan : The Making of a Secure Open Source Hardware Password Keeper

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Mathieu Stephan is an open source hardware developer, a Tindie seller who always has inventory, a former Hackaday writer, and an awesome all-around guy. One of his biggest projects for the last few years has been the Mooltipass, an offline password keeper built around smart cards and a USB interface. It’s the solution to Post-It notes stuck to your monitor and using the same password for all your accounts around the Internet.

The Mooltipass is an extremely successful product, and last year Mathieu launched the Mooltipass Mini. No, it doesn’t have the sweet illuminated touch-sensitive buttons, but it is a …read more

Google Assistant can now connect you with local home services

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Starting today, Google Assistant can help you find local services, like an electrician or handyman. All you have to do is say “OK Google” to Assistant on your phone or Google Home, followed by a prompt to find the particular service you’re interested in.

In the below example, saying “OK Google, find me a plumber” starts Assistant’s hunt, displaying some follow-up questions to hone in exactly the type of service you need, like repairing a faucet or installing a garbage disposal. From there, Assistant asks if you’d like a call from a service, or if you’d like to browse options in your area.

Image: Google

The feature will be rolling out in the US over the next week. Google says Assistant will recommend businesses that…

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The $100 Nokia 2 is available in the US today

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HMD’s new Nokia 2 phone will be available through Amazon and Best Buy in the US starting today, although Best Buy’s listing says the phone is already sold out and Amazon’s says the phone is “currently unavailable.” HMD, which licensed the rights to Nokia’s name, usually debuts its phone in China and sometimes launches them globally.

The $99.99 phone features Android 7.1, a Snapdragon 212 processor, a 5-inch 1280 x 720 LCD display, and a 4,100mAh battery. HMD also says the device will receive monthly security updates, which is great if it actually ends up happening. Oh, and best of all, for that low price of $99, you’ll also get a headphone jack! Fantastic.

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This lamp can detect ambient color and change its light to match

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Lighting is everything in an environment, as important as the furniture you choose to fill your home with. It is, as seasoned selfie-takers say, critical for establishing a #mood. Italian product design company Digital Habits understands this and has created the Color Swing, an ambient color-detecting lamp that can change its own light to match in real time.

The video above demonstrates the lamp shifting its light to match the two colors it’s swinging between: a red plate placed underneath, and a yellow car that slides into frame. The Color Swing works with an IR sensor at the bottom that detects the color of whatever is below it. The technology isn’t new. You can actually build your own color-sensing lamp with this $8 Adafruit RGB…

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Taylor Swift’s Reputation is now arriving on Spotify and Apple Music

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Taylor Swift fans in Australia and the Philippines have tweeted screenshots showing that her new album, Reputation — released on November 10th — is now available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music in their respective countries.

Thus far, if you wanted to hear Swift’s sixth studio album you had to purchase a digital download or trek to Target and pick up a physical copy along with a very odd magazine. On November 7th, Bloomberg reported that the album wouldn’t be available on any streaming services for at least its first week, and that services were still negotiating with Swift’s team.

The full album is currently listed on Spotify in the US, with non-singles greyed out until, presumably, midnight tonight.

Swift’s first five albums…

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