Tesla adds farting mode and other Easter eggs in latest firmware update

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Teslas now have built-in “whoopie cushions” thanks to a new firmware update. The vehicles can now make farting noises on demand or by use of a turn signal with what they’re cheekily calling, “Emissions Testing Mode.” Jalopnik reports there are seven flatulence sounds to choose from — “Not a Fart, Short Shorts Rapper, Falcon Heavy, Ludicrous Fart, Neurastink, Boring Fart, and what seems to be a fart randomizer.”

There are two other bizarre Easter eggs in this update: Romance Mode and Pole Position. The former provides a virtual fireplace and the latter is a retro-modern version of the old school racing video game.

Jalopnik: Tesla Introduces ‘Romance Mode’ and On-Demand Fart Noises Because Tesla Is About Making the World Better


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Voice Controlled Camera for Journalist in Need

See the original posting on Hackaday

Before going into the journalism program at Centennial College in Toronto, [Carolyn Pioro] was a trapeze performer. Unfortunately a mishap in 2005 ended her career as an aerialist when she severed her spinal cord,  leaving her paralyzed from the shoulders down. There’s plenty of options in the realm of speech-to-text technology which enables her to write on the computer, but when she tried to find a commercial offering which would let her point and shoot a DSLR camera with her voice, she came up empty.

[Taras Slawnych] heard about [Carolyn’s] need for special camera equipment and figured he had the …read more

More videos from our University of Chicago interdisciplinary seminar series: “Censorship and Information Control”

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Between September and December, I collaborated with science fiction writer and Renaissance historian Ada Palmer and science historian Adrian Johns on a series of interdisciplinary seminars on “Censorship and Information Control” with a rotating crew of academics and practitioners from several fields.

Thanks to generous Kickstarter backers, we were able to pay for professional videography and ADA-compliant subtitling for the whole series, and there are now five of the seminars online for your viewing pleasure (podcasts, including an edited highlight series, are still to come).

I’m so pleased with how these turned out. Every one of these seminars was a delight, as fascinating experts from disciplines that rarely interact with one another engaged in dialog about the history, present and future of censorship and information control, with discussions ranging over privacy, totalitarianism, human liberty, the limits of tolerance, and more — we even had a theater troupe from the UK come and perform bawdy, banned plays from the Interregnum (these included someone getting waterboarded with a gallon of milk!).

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These California beaches have long been off-limits. But public outrage is changing the tide

See the original posting on LA Times Science

Behind the exclusive gates of Hollister Ranch are some of California’s most-coveted beaches and surf breaks. Few have had the chance to visit them.

But earlier this month, after decades of pushback and stalemates, state officials passed through these gates with the cooperation of the ranch’s powerful…

The biggest video games, tech news, and apocalyptic anxieties of 1998

See the original posting on The Verge

<em>Streak Hoverboard Racing</em>

We’re heading into the last days of 2018, and by extension, the last days of our look back at 1998 — where the dot-com bubble was steadily inflating, cyberspace was transforming everything from crime to horoscopes, and the end of the internet (or maybe civilization itself) was just a year away with Y2K. And that means one thing in the media world: time for some retrospectives!

I’ll be deviating slightly from the normal format by accepting a few pieces from both earlier in December and later in January, so I can offer a spread of analysis looking back at the year.

IGN: 1998 in video games

It’s generally acknowledged that 1998 was a fantastic year for video games. In October, GameSpot published a list of the year’s best and most…

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Adaptive Infotainment Plays Tunes To Match Your Dangerous Driving

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Part of the fun of watching action movies is imagining yourself as the main character, always going on exciting adventures and, of course, being accompanied by the perfect soundtrack to score the excitement and drama of your life. While having an orchestra follow you around might not always be practical, [P1kachu] at least figured out how to get some musical orchestration to sync up with how he drives his car, Fast-and-Furious style.

The idea is pretty straightforward: when [P1kachu] drives his car calmly and slowly, the music that the infotainment system plays is cool and reserved. But when he drops …read more

The 13 best sci-fi books to check out on your new Kindle

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The holidays are here, and it looks like you got a new Kindle (or a device with a Kindle app). You now have before you a fun task: to build a portable library of all the books that you have on your reading list — or to create a new list for the coming year.

If you’re looking for recommendations, here are 14 science fiction books that stand on their own (or are loosely part of a bigger world) to start off with. (If you’re interested in trying a series, you can also check out some of last year’s recommendations.)

We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used apps, games, and utilities. Look for our picks for iPhones, PCs, and Mac; our favorite games for iOS and Android, and our top choices for the PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.

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Freeforming the Atari Punk Console

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This stunning piece of art is [Emily Velasco’s] take on the Atari Punk Console. It’s a freeform circuit that synthesizes sound using 555 timers. The circuit has been around for a long time, but her fabrication is completely new and simply incredible!

This isn’t [Emily’s] first rodeo. She previously built the mini CRT sculpture project seen to the left in the image above. Its centerpiece is a tiny CRT from an old video camera viewfinder, and it is fairly common for the driver circuit to understand composite video. And unlike CRTs, small video cameras with composite video output are easily …read more

Find the cuss words in these delightfully subversive ‘swearing patterns’

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This week, on the same day, I had not one but two friends tell me about designer Sonia Harris’ “swearing patterns.” Of course, I instantly became a fan. Her hidden-in-plain-sight patterns are subversive yet perfectly understated.

For example, this t-shirt’s design appears to be a fancy mandala at first glance. But look closer and you’ll see the words “Insufferable Wanker” cleverly incorporated into the pattern. (Ms. Harris, you get me.)

She got started drawing the patterns (using an iOS app called Amaziograph) while she was going through treatment for breast cancer, writing that swearing is a meditation for her:

Despite my desire to create and soothe myself with art, I was also very angry at the bad luck of having spent decades dealing with pain from endometriosis only to get breast cancer just as I thought there was an end to it. The disgusting effects of the treatment, the frightening and painful experiences kept on coming… Hence my patterns contained a lot of profanity. I wanted to swear and I needed to swear. If I could have, I’d have been shouting those profanities from the rooftops! But I had no strength to raise my voice or even stomp around, so that left my drawings. I could write down an exclamation of disgust, carefully and lovingly so that seeing it gave me strength, reminded me that I have a voice and I am still alive. Seeing the repetition of my words and patterns calmed me, the inherent beauty of them made me feel in harmony with life again and able to rest.

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Laser Harp Sounds Real Thanks to Karplus-Strong Wave Equation

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The harp is an ancient instrument, but in its current form, it seems so unwieldy that it’s a wonder that anyone ever learns to play it. It’s one thing to tote a rented trumpet or clarinet home from school to practice, but a concert harp is a real pain to transport safely. The image below is unrelated to the laser harp project, but proves that portable harping is begging for some good hacks.

Enter this laser harp, another semester project from [Bruce Land]’s microcontroller course at Cornell. By replacing strings with lasers aimed at phototransistors, [Glenna] and [Alex] were able …read more

Can This Fire Fighting Robot Take The Heat?

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Firefighting is a difficult and dangerous job, which puts humans on the front line to save life and property on a regular basis. It’s a prime candidate for some robot helpers, and [Ivan] has stepped in with a fun build that, while it won’t be serving in your municipal department any time soon, gets us thinking about the possibilities.

It’s a radio controlled robot with an Arduino Uno for the brains. A couple of motor driver boards are used to run four windscreen wiper motors for propulsion. Long before the days of online shopping, the wiper motor was a hacker …read more

See How Paper Maché Sculptor Uses Cloth for Tricky Spots

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When is paper maché not paper maché? When it is cloth, of course. [Dan Reeder] has been putting his own spin on paper maché art since the 70s and demonstrates the technique of using cloth for tricky spots in his outstanding sculpture of an Ice Dragon. Thin strips of cloth are used just as paper would be, but give a much different structure and grant natural-looking folds to spots like eyelids, nostrils, and lips.

[Dan] feels that paper maché is an under-utilized and under-rated medium, and he puts out some stunning work on his blog as well as his YouTube …read more

Improved Controller For E-Skateboards

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[Timo] recently purchased himself a Acton Blink Qu4tro electric skateboard. Performance-wise, the board was great, but the controller left a lot to be desired. There were issues with pairing, battery displays, and just general rideability. Like any good hacker, he decided some reverse engineering was in order, and got to work.

Initial results were disheartening – the skateboard relies on various chips of Chinese origin for which documentation proved impossible to come by. However, as it turned out, the board and controller communicated using the common NRF24L01+ transceiver.

Initial work focused on understanding the pairing process and message protocol. With …read more

The Reddit detectives are hard at work decoding Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

See the original posting on The Verge

Early in the morning on Friday, December 28th, Netflix slipped its viewers a late Christmas present: a new episode of Charlie Brooker’s technological-dystopia anthology series Black Mirror, in the form of an interactive movie called Bandersnatch. Its arrival didn’t entirely come as a secret — as far back as October, there were rumors it was on the way — but Netflix has been secretive about the storyline and the scope of the project. Just as Netflix seems to be experimenting with high-profile ad campaigns and wide-scale theatrical releases for award-courting movies like Roma, it’s also experimenting with releasing films like Tau or The Cloverfield Project with little to no advance notice, apparently to test what its subscribers will watch…

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Dainty Delta Is About As Small As A Robot Can Be

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There’s something mesmerizing about delta robots. Whether they are used at a stately pace for a 3D-printer or going so fast you can barely see them move in a pick and place machine, the way that three rotary actuators can work together to produce motion in three axes is always a treat to watch. Especially with a delta robot as small as this one.

[KarelK16] says this is one of those “just because I can” projects with no real application. And he appears to have been working on it for a while; the video below is from eight years ago. …read more

‘Metal from the Dirt’ – Cool profile of Navajo metalheads, and Diné metal shows on the rez

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There’s a not-to-be missed profile in High Country News on Diné heavy metal bands on and around the Navajo Nation in Arizona, with incredible photos by Clarke Tolton, who also directed the video above.


On the drive through the Navajo Nation, twirling the radio dial yields country station after country station. The genre warbles about the American Dream, life’s struggles paying off, and frustration, loss and regret. Scan long enough though, and you might stumble upon Laydi Rayne’s weekly metal show on KSHI out of Zuni, New Mexico. It’s one of the only shows in the area that caters to the genre, which is popular on the nation.

Metalheads on the nation have long been making the style their own through “rez metal,” short for reservation metal. Bands record in abandoned houses, and host shows in backyards and empty parking lots. The musicians have embraced ingenuity and teamwork to create a scene reflective of their identities. And now, a generation of Diné youth who grew up listening to metal are shaping the scene themselves.

The heavy metal genre was born in 1980s England, but has translated easily to the Navajo Nation, said Jerold Cecil, band manager of I Don’t Konform. “Metal is disenchantment with everything,” said Cecil, a Navajo citizen. “Establishment, society, the frustrations you have in your life, socio-economic problems, family problems, not being provided the resources or the opportunities that most people are given everyday, just because you’re on the rez.”

Cecil jokes that the only difference between rez metal bands and other metal groups is that even if they’re not getting paid, rez metal bands will drive five hours or more to a show.

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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is Netflix’s new interactive special that won’t play on everything

See the original posting on The Verge

Bandersnatch is Netflix’s new interactive, choose-your-own-adventure-style movie that ties into the Black Mirror universe. However, it won’t play on every Netflix-enabled device.

Bandersnatch was written using Twine, an open-source platform that allows for interactive fiction and narrative-heavy games, but that requires devices with a level of technological sophistication in order to deliver a proper interactive experience. An email from Netflix confirms that Bandersnatch isn’t supported on Chromecast, Apple TV, and “some legacy devices.” Outdated hardware devices that don’t support Netflix software updates — like the PlayStation Vita or Nintendo Wii U — are also unlikely to support Bandersnatch. And it’s unlikely your smart microwave…

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