Internet Curiosities

Cataloging the problems facing AI researchers is a cross between a parenting manual and a management book

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Concrete Problems in AI Safety, an excellent, eminently readable paper from a group of Google AI researchers and some colleagues, sets out five hard problems facing the field: robots might damage their environments to attain their goals; robots might figure out how to cheat to attain their goals; supervising robots all the time is inefficient; robots that are allowed to try novel strategies might cause disasters; and robots that are good at one task might inappropriately try to apply that expertise to another unrelated task. (more…)

Donald Trump sources $6M worth of campaign expenditures from companies he and his family own

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When billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and Steve Forbes get into politics, they firewall their own companies off from their campaigns, demonstrating a basic care about the appearance of conflict of interest -- not so Donald Trump, who rents himself office space, sells himself private jet time, and supplies water, booze, and country club ballrooms. (more…)

Ridiculously detailed typographical analysis of Blade Runner

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If you love Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner, the minutia of film, and nerding out over typography, prepare to have your neck bolts blown. Dave Addey runs Typeset in the Future, a website dedicated to the typographic elements found in sci-fi films. He has previously examined the titling, signage, logotypes, text messaging, and visual displays found in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, and Alien. Here, he turns his typographical attentions to Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, Blade Runner.

In 5,000 words and hundreds of screen caps, Dave goes through every scrap of textual content seen in the film. What's equally amazing to the point of the piece-- typographic analysis--is how much you learn about every other aspect of the film. This one narrow skew of the movie reveals so many other angles and tangents. Blade Runner is a film I already know too much about and I still learned so much more and had numerous "ah-ha" moments. The first time we meet Deckard, he’s sat in the Los Angeles rain, idly reading a newspaper. The headline of this newspaper is FARMING THE OCEANS, THE MOON AND ANTARCTICA, in what looks like Futura Demi: Here’s a close-up shot of that newspaper prop, from an on-set photo of Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott: The subtitle reads WORLD WIDE COMPUTER LINKUP PLANNED, in what looks like Optima Bold. While the idea of a World Wide Computer Linkup might seem passé as we approach 2019, it was still very much unusual in 1982 when Blade Runner was released. Indeed, it wasn’t until March 1982 that the US Department of Defense, creators of pre-Internet network ARPANET, declared TCP/IP as the standard for all military computer networking, pretty much kick-starting what we know as the modern-day Internet of 2016. The Spinner’s landscape-orientation TV shows a display that may be familiar to regular TITF readers: This ENVIRON CTR PURGE display is identical to the one we saw in Alien, just before the Nostromo exploded: As if that wasn’t enough self-plagiarism, Ridley Scott also steals a second display from his earlier sci-fi masterpiece: …which the more observant of you may recognize as Alien’s shuttle disconnect sequence: Gaff’s Spinner journey also introduces us to a recurring piece of typography from the movie’s backdrop. The Blade Runner production team re-used city background scenery in different configurations throughout the movie, which is why the glowing NUYOK sign seen here… …is remarkably similar to the glowing sign for the YUKON hotel seen thirteen minutes later (also known as the temporary home of replicants Leon and Zhora): There is so much wonderful content here, so many things to tickle a typography and film fan's fancy, I could go on and on. But just go to the site and see it all for yourself. Just don't expect to get anything else done for the next few hours.

Pay what you want for this 7-course Web Hacker training

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If you’re working to build your web programming knowledge, you know you have a lot of ground to cover. With literally dozens of languages, platforms and environments available to coders, mastering all those technologies can be a daunting task.

Up-and-coming coders can start learning some of the most fundamental programming study areas with this Web Hacker course bundle - and right now, you can get it for any price you want to pay.

Offer to pay any amount and you’ll immediately get access to two courses:

  • Learn Docker from Scratch

  • Learn Apache Cassandra from Scratch

And if you pay more than the average, you’ll also receive these five courses to round out your training:

  • Learn Web Programming in Django & Python
  • Learn Bootstrap Development by Building 10 Projects
  • Projects in JavaScript & JQuery
  • Projects in PHP & MySQL
  • Learn Ruby on Rails by Building Projects

After 73+ hours of instruction, your mastery of JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails and other programming essentials will prep you to tackle any project. This bundle would normally cost over $1,000, so pay what you want while the offer lasts.

Google makes 2-Factor Authentication a lot Easier and Faster

The Hacker News -

When it comes to data breaches of major online services like LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and VK.com, it's two-factor authentication that could save you from being hacked. Two-factor authentication or 2-step verification is an effective way to secure online accounts, but many users avoid enabling the feature just to save themselves from irritation of receiving and typing a six-digit code that

Photo reveals even Zuckerberg tapes his Webcam and Microphone for Privacy

The Hacker News -

What do you do to protect your 'Privacy' and keep yourself safe from potential hackers? Well, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just need a bit of tape to cover his laptop webcam and mic jack in order to protect his privacy. Yes, Zuck also does the same as the FBI Director James Comey. <!-- adsense --> Zuckerberg posted a photo on Tuesday to celebrate Instagram's 500 Million monthly user

34-ounce glass tea press for loose teas and tea bags

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After 5 years of pretty much exclusively using my Bodum teapot I have gotten so used to it I only notice the process when I’m not at home and have to use a different teapot.

I like having a big pot of tea sitting on my desk while I work on the computer but with most teapots the tea continues to gain in strength the longer it stays in the pot; unless you want to outright remove the tea which is nothing but a hot mess. This is the best teapot in my experience for being able to brew tea that can stay in the pot but not continue steeping and increasing in strength.

The system is very simple, the strainer inside the teapot has no holes in its bottom section so when the plunger is fully depressed the tea cannot continue to soak in the water as it has been cut off and sealed in the bottom of the strainer.

I use it whenever I’m at home and can have 1 liter of tea that is of a consistent strength sitting on my desk, making the only other issue I have to deal with the fact that eventually it will go cold which is an issue I have not found a solution to other than drinking the tea.

I was not able to find the exact porcelain model I have online anymore, it seems like Bodum may have discontinued it but they make the same size and shape pot out of borosilicate glass (the stuff pyrex is made from) so if anything its now stronger and more shatter resistant if dropped plus since its now clear you can see exactly how much tea is left in the pot. -- Thomas Webster

20 grams of melt-in-your hand gallium for $10

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Gallium is a metal that melts at 86 degrees F. It's more fun than playing with mercury, and probably safer, too (it *will* temporarily stain your skin gray though, because it's "wet" when liquid and will adhere to the crevices of your skin). My daughter's friend brought some over a couple of weeks ago, and it was such a hit at our house that we had to get some of our own. This 20 gram sample is just $10 including shipping on Amazon.

A fast, indie space opera for summer

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Don't let the cover art scare you away! The Chronicles of Benjamin Jamison are fun, hero beats the odds, space opera fun. In Thomas Wright's first installment, Call Sign Reaper, we meet familiar characters, then and head off on a familiar plot!

Retired special forces type space guy Ben was drummed out of the service on trumped up charges. Instead of disappearing to the Los Angeles underground, he spends a couple months off. Ben is recruited back into service via a bar fight, and an attractive commanding officer. You do know where this is going, right? Get ready to roll your eyes.

Thomas Wright gets this genre, and clearly enjoys it. The story rollicks along, and the characters are just getting going. You

Standard indie novel warning: lots of folks have complained of the editing, but I enjoyed the stories enough to not notice much. The novel was free via Kindle Unlimited.

The Chronicles of Benjamin Jamison: Call Sign Reaper (Book 1) via Amazon

White House issues report on President Obama's impact on science and tech

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In 2009, President Obama pledged to "restore science to its rightful place." He said, "We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level achieved at the height of the space race, through policies that invest in basic and applied research, create new incentives for private innovation, promote breakthroughs in energy and medicine, and improve education in math and science."

Today, the White House released an Impact Report listing 100 things that Obama has made happen with the support of many people across research, policy, education, and, yes, maker culture. Here's the full Impact Report. A few examples from the list:

• Prioritized and encouraged broad participation in STEM education. The President’s Educate to Innovate campaign, launched in November 2009, has resulted in more than $1 billion in private investment to improve K-12 STEM education. The Nation is on track to meet the President’s January 2011 State of the Union goal to put 100,000 additional excellent STEM teachers in America’s classrooms by 2021. The President has helped showcase to students—including through events such as the White House Science Fair—that science, math, engineering, and computer programming are deeply compelling subjects that can help solve problems locally and globally.

• Fostered a nation of makers. The President hosted the first-ever White House Maker Faire; highlighted the growing importance of additive manufacturing by being the first President to be 3D scanned for his Presidential bust; and led a call to action resulting in commitments to create more than 1,000 maker spaces around the country. Under his tenure, the number of new manufacturing firms is rising for the first time in the past decade; participation in local maker events has risen ten-fold; and venture capital for hardware-focused startups is rising.

• Supported next-generation robotics. In June 2011, the Administration established the National Robotics Initiative to spur research and development in the field of robotics across an array of disciplines and applications, including healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, space exploration, and national security. The initiative has helped catalyze more than $150 million in funding since June 2011 for innovative robotics research and development at institutions across the country. The effort has led to new collaborations and advances, including in autonomous vehicles, robotics for educational development, and robotics for disaster response. In addition, efforts such as the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which brought together 25 robotics teams from around the world in a competition to demonstrate disaster-response operations, have pushed the field forward and shown what is possible.

• Fostered a burgeoning private space sector and increased capabilities for our journey to Mars. Working with NASA, American companies have developed new spacecraft that are delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and will start ferrying astronauts there by the end of 2017. The Administration’s investments in space technology development, including through the Space Technology Mission Directorate created by NASA in 2013, are developing less-expensive capabilities for NASA’s exploration missions and for the President’s goal of a human mission to Mars in the 2030s. Due to the Administration’s leadership, ISS’s lifetime has been extended twice, and the Station is now due to continue operating until at least 2024.

"100 Examples of Putting Science in Its Rightful Place" (Thanks, Tom Kalil!)

These bizarre vintage hair-dryers will blow your mind, and your tresses

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When I was little, my mother had a 1960s sit-under hair dryer with a huge translucent plastic hood that I'd imagine was a variation on a Star Trek Transporter. But that hulking machine had nothing on these vintage hair dryers from the first part of the 20th century. These would have provided me with years of science fiction fantasies and nightmares. See more at Dangerous Minds.

The adventures of serial impostor Stanley Clifford Weyman

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Over the span of half a century, Brooklyn impostor Stanley Clifford Weyman impersonated everyone from a Navy admiral to a sanitation expert. When caught, he would admit his deception, serve his jail time, and then take up a new identity. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we'll review Weyman's surprisingly successful career and describe some of his more audacious undertakings.

We'll also puzzle over why the police would arrest an unremarkable bus passenger.

Show notes

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