Don’t be like the #PlaneBae people

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Lifehacker’s Virginia K. Smith on the trend of narrating others’ quasi-public interactions for viral attention: “stop posting pictures of strangers

It’s invasive, inappropriate, and can even put the other person in danger. In a world that made any sense, this wouldn’t require further explanation. This would be a commonly understood part of the social contract.

Instead, last week alone darkened the internet’s door with stories about the insufferable #PlaneBae saga, as well as one of the more distressing Dear Prudie questions in recent memory (no small feat).

In the case of the former, Twitter user Rosey Blair spent hours live tweeting the flirtation of two strangers sitting in front of her on a flight, complete with pictures, garnering hundreds of thousands of retweets (she later made a thirsty attempt to parlay her viral fame into a job at Buzzfeed, which should tell you everything you need to know). In the latter, a Dear Prudie letter writer looked to be let off the hook after getting caught taking an unauthorized photo of an overweight colleague and “[sharing] it in an online community where we discuss the obese people in our lives.”

Odd how the most trivially sociopathic people are so good at sensing where profit is to be made on the “empathy margins” where public and private life blur.

Capture your life’s highlights with Strellas Star Maps

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From wedding proposals to college graduations, there’s nothing wrong with reaching for the camera to capture a special occasion, but sometimes a photo isn’t quite enough to immortalize life’s greatest moments. Whether you walked down the aisle or into your first home, Strellas Personalized Star Maps commemorate your biggest milestones on a stellar scale. You can get your own 18×24 star map today for $38.

Strellas Personalized Star Maps depict the exact positioning of the night sky during the time and place of your special moment. Strellas uses NASA Astronomical Data Center’s star catalog to accurately recreate the sky view from a time and place you choose. You can personalize your maps with custom quotes and select special color styles before receiving the product as a printed poster or a printable digital file.

Strellas Personalized Star Maps are available in the Boing Boing store for $38 for 18×24 sizes and $45 for 24×36 sizes.


This device lets me work in mosquito-free bliss

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For part of the year, my wife has a gig that brings us into northern Alberta. To save money and make the most out of being here, we live off the grid in our RV for weeks at a time, relying on our rig’s power system, propane and water tanks to keep us going. I connect to the internet through my T-Mobile phone plan. It’s quiet, I have a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains and, when I want to go for a hike in the woods, all I need to do is grab my bear spray and step outside. There’s just one thing I’d change about being out here.

The frigging mosquitoes.

They’re plentiful enough that I can’t step foot out of the RV without for more than a minute in the late afternoon without being chewed on, instantly. They’re small enough that, even when I haven’t opened the door in 24 hours, they still manage to find a way inside. Today’s been a bad mosquito day: we had some pretty heavy rain last week, which resulted in a lot of big puddles being created around where we camp. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. There’s thousands of the little bastards outside right now. Despite having stuffed paper towel into the space between all of my screens and windows to buttress the weather stripping that’s already there, I’ve killed 12 of the buggers since I sat down to work, just over an hour ago. On days like this, I break out my Thermacell and set it up inside.

A Thermacell is a device (they pack the technology into a wearable, a bunch of lanterns and a table topper, too) that runs on butane cartridge. The butane provides the juice to power a small burner inside the device, which, as burners do, burns and generates a little bit of heat. This heat is used to scorch a disposable pad impregnated with Allethrin, a synthetic version of a naturally occurring repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers. Mosquitoes hate this stuff. It smells like nothing to me. Within a few minutes of turning my Thermacell on, the mosquitoes that were using me as a buffet inside of the RV, vanish. I can leave the windows open. I can get work done with out slapping a bug out of the air every 30 seconds. It’s bliss. That said, it can be sort of useless outside, sometimes. On a breezy day, the scent of Allethrin it generates gets blown away, leaving you to contend with a horde of bloodsucking freeloaders. But, with the way that I use it, I don’t really need to worry about that, unless it’s hot enough to warrant turning on a fan.

The only thing I can say against my Thermacell is that the cost of consumables for it is pretty steep. A box of scent pads and the butane to run it for 48 hours costs around 30 bucks, in Canada. But, given that I only use the device maybe once or twice a week for a few hours at a time, for a six-month period, I look at it as part of the cost of doing business whilst living a nomadic life.

Video: life lessons from a 111 year old WWII veteran

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At 111 years old (the video is a few years old,) Richard Overton is the oldest living World War II veteran. He still drinks whiskey, smoke stogies and has lived in the same house, which he bought after coming home from war, since 1945. In this short film, Overton talks about his long life and along the way, extols a few important life lessons.

My take away: for a long life, eat a shit-ton of soup and butter pecan ice cream.

Making chiptunes with a calculator

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HoustonTracker2 is free software that turns your still-overpriced Texas Instruments graphing calculator into a synth. Demo above. Now, you will not only be the nerdiest kid in algebra class, but the coolest as well.

HoustonTracker 2 is a music editor/sequencer for Texas Instruments graphing calculators. It outputs 1-bit sound through the calculator link port. HT2 features 4 voice polyphony, tons of effects, and a simple, tracker-style interface.

To do in San Francisco on July 15: The Fifth Annual Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge!

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JWZ — proprietor of San Francisco’s DNA Lounge — writes, “This is one of my favorite events that we do all year: it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge! Come see maniacal Rube Goldberg contraptions pour delicious cocktails for you! Mad Science Guaranteed. You probably won’t get wet, probably.”

Build the next AI breakthrough with these 8 courses

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With the ability to recognize images, curate playlists, and even hold a decent conversation, we wouldn’t blame you if you thought AI innovations like Siri were powered by magic. Of course, the reality is that, rather than shamrocks and pixie dust, these breakthroughs are made possible thanks to advancements in machine learning technology and a handful of programming tools. With the Pay What You Want: Total Python Machine Learning Bundle, you can lift the curtain behind today’s AI marvels and work toward creating your own, all for a price you choose.

Here’s how the deal works: Simply pay what you want, and you’ll instantly unlock one of the collection’s eight courses. Beat the average price paid, and you’ll get the remaining seven.

Starting with a simple introduction to Python, you’ll get your feet wet with programming and app development. Then, you’ll dive into the nuts and bolts behind today’s most popular AI applications, like neural networks, unsupervised deep learning, and more.

Choose your price, and you can start your foray into the future of AI with the Pay What You Want: Total Python Machine Learning Bundle.

Behold, the pink coffin pool float

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Designer Andrew Greenbaum of Venice Beach, California has created a two-piece pink coffin-shaped pool float which people are dying for him to make available for sale.

He writes:

Had the idea to start this project almost three years ago… I found someone who could make me a sample recently and pulled the trigger. Super hilarious project. Truth be told thou, we about $15,000 short from being able to sell this to ya’ll. Let us know if you think a kickstarter would be a cool idea or if you have a rich daddy who wanna invest…

I contacted Andrew and he told me that this Kickstarter will launch on Monday.


How to assess The Federalist Papers’ authorship with statistics

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The Federalist Papers comprises of 85 articles written in the 1780s by founding fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. They wrote under a collective pseudonym, Publius, so keep their involvement secret. But who wrote what? There is much dispute. Let’s try K-Means Clustering.

K-means clustering aims to partition n observations into k clusters in which each observation belongs to the cluster with the nearest mean, serving as a prototype of the cluster. This results in a partitioning of the data space into Voronoi cells. For our example we’ll have 68 observations (papers) into 2 clusters (2 authors, Madison and Hamilton).

Once the data has been converted into workable features, we can fit them onto a 2-cluster model. This is unsupervised – we are effectively just pouring in our (ideally) significant data and telling it that there are two distinct sets within it, and to try and extricate them.

Spoiler: most of them were by Hamilton.

Catfish refuses to put up with roommate’s bullshit any longer

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Since moving in, Ted had done nothing to help with the housework. The household tasks assigned to him on the whiteboard in the kitchen have always gone undone. Despite demands that he pick up after himself, Ted leaves food scraps everywhere and never pays the rent on time. On Friday, after finding the leftovers she’d left in the fridge eaten, Sally decided to put an to Ted’s bullshit.

The quiet of her and Dave’s wee flat had been disrupted for long enough.

Mimi Pond illustrates what went down at the late Zsa Zsa Gabor’s garage sale

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Mimi Pond is an absolute gem. The matriarch of a family of cool artists, she really knows how to weave a funny tale through her cartoons and graphic novels. Her work has been featured here on Boing Boing, as well as in National Lampoon, Village Voice, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and other well-known publications. Mimi has written for Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Designing Women, and The Simpsons.

Now, for a new LA Times piece, she’s inked a 37-panel cartoon that shares the backstory of the late famous-for-being-famous Zsa Zsa Gabor. It gives a biting, yet humorous, glimpse into the shenanigans she observed at the post-auction garage sale of the Hungarian-born celeb’s stuff, which was hosted by her eccentric (and controversial) widower Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt at their Bel Air mansion.

I can’t show Mimi’s entire cartoon here for obvious reasons but it’s definitely worth the extra click. I can say this, truth is stranger than fiction.

images via Mimi Pond, used with permission

Prep for a Cisco-certified future with these 9 courses

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Ask any IT expert worth their salt, and they’ll tell you that certifications speak the loudest when you’re climbing the career ladder. However, not all certifications are created equal, and where you decide to get your certification from can have a dramatic impact on your hiring prospects. Cisco is a worldwide leader of networking solutions and plays a vital role in keeping many of today’s companies online, making their certifications especially relevant to potential employers. The Ultimate Cisco Certification Super Bundle can prep you to ace a number of their certification exams, and it’s on sale today for $49.

Across nine courses, this collection will familiarize you with the concepts and techniques essential for passing CompTIA’s most popular certification exams and help you work toward netting several coveted certifications, including CICD and CCNA Security. From interconnecting Cisco devices to maintaining network security, this collection will help you foster a host of core IT skills and help you ace the certification exams with flying colors.

The Ultimate Cisco Certification Super Bundle is available in the Boing Boing store today for $49.

Why you should be healing yourself with this Alexa-friendly diffuser

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To the uninformed, essential oil diffusers may come off as nothing more than glorified air fresheners, but there are a few core differences that separate these devices from their aerosol-powered peers. While air fresheners tend to douse the air with irritating chemicals, diffusers revitalize your living space with natural oils and are even known to help improve sleep, reduce stress, and prevent illness. The Smart Alexa-Compatible Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffuser lets you bring these benefits to your living space on command. It’s available in the Boing Boing store for $41.

Engineered with advanced vaporizing plates, this smart diffuser is designed to evenly distribute oils in your home. It features a 400ml water tank and is capable of producing up to 12 hours of continuous mist. Using your phone, you can control features like LED color, mist intensity, timer settings, and scheduling, or if you’re looking for a more hands-off approach, you can integrate the device with Amazon Alexa and control it with your voice.

The Smart Alexa-Compatible Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffuser is on sale in the Boing Boing store for $41.

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