Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
In 1896, the French Lumière Brothers made the film Bataille de boules de neige (Snowball Fight). “The film was shot in Lyons, France using one of the duos’ all-in-one cinématographe creations,” says Petapixel, “which was part camera, part projector, and part developer.” It’s been updated by Joaquim Campa, “who used the AI-powered software DeOldify to upscale the footage to 1080p, interpolate additional frames for a smoother result, and colorize the old footage.” Does it look better than the original, or is it just a technical trick that flattens the past?
Charlie Chaplin was great in black and white but can he cut it in colour? Thanks to YouTube, you can watch Chaplin in a colorised version of his 1915 short movie A Night in the Show.
Chaplin played two roles: one as Mr. Pest and one as Mr. Rowdy. The film was created from Chaplin’s stage work from a play called Mumming Birds (a.k.a. A Night at an English Music Hall in the United States) with the Karno Company from London. Chaplin performed this play during his U.S. tours with Fred Karno company and decided to bring some of this play to his film work. Edna Purviance played a minor role as a lady in the audience.
To cut a record, you simply play audio through an aux cable and lift the cutting arm onto a blank disc. Once the record is cut, you can instantly play back your recording through the tone arm and the in built speaker!
More like cute your own records — look at how wee this thing is:
Harvard Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian takes us to ancient Giza and round the Sphinx and Pyramids in this video. “You’ll see we’ve had to remove modern structures and excavators, debris dumps,” says Peter Der Manuelian. “We studied the Nile, and we had to move it much closer to the Giza pyramids, because in antiquity, the Nile did flow closer. And we’ve tried to rebuild each and every structure.”
Spotter: The Kid Should See This
Two lawyers think if every piece of 12-note musical melody can be created by an algorithm then all music is publicly owners and nobody gets sued for copyright theft. So lawyers Damien Riehl and Noah Rubin came up with a way to record all melodies because, as they see it, only a finite number of melodies can exist.
Riehl explained more in a Tedx Talk. The crux is that music becomes copyrighted the moment it’s recorded and anyone can be sued for “subconscious infringement”. You can be an unwitting thief if a melody in your song sounds like a melody in one of thousands of songs that formed your musical appreciation. The other argument is that hasn’t Riehl just infringed the copyright of thousands of songs?
You can test the theory flicking through one of the 68 billion melodies created at allthemusic.info.
NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped the first American astronaut to successfully orbit the Earth, has died at the age of 101. Katherine worked out the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space. She used no electronic computers.
She also worked on astronaut John Glenn’s orbital mission, checking the numbers for the flight.
Katherine is one of three African American women celebrated in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, which tells the true story of Katherine, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, who faced discrimination, racism and segregation but pushed through.
“Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color. Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars.”– NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “
Bite this, hipsters. Justine Haupt, a scientist in the Instrumentation Division at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, has created a rotary mobile phone. “In a finicky, annoying, touchscreen world of hyperconnected people using phones they have no control over or understanding of,” she writes, “I wanted something that would be entirely mine, personal, and absolutely tactile, while also giving me an excuse for not texting… It fits in a pocket; it’s reasonably compact; calling the people I most often call if faster than with my old phone, and the battery lasts almost 24 hours.”
The phone features:
She’s smarter than her smart phone. Are you?
Larry Tesler computerised cut and paste. He worked at Apple from 1980 to 1997. Last Monday he died. He was 74.
Here’s Larry Tesler talking about his work:
Spotter: Cult of Mac
You’ve seen the messages that Adobe is discontinuing its once ubiquitous Flash player. On December 31, 2020, Flash goes the way of 8Bit.
Born in 1996, Flash was the multimedia tool that gave the web sounds, movement and action. It allowed you to play Chess online. But fear not. It’s not the end of all those neat little time-wasting games. “That’s where Flashpoint comes in to save a huge chunk of gaming history,” says Kotaku’s Zack Zwiezen. “Flashpoint uses open-source tech to allow folks to download and play a large list of games and animations. The full list contains just over 36,000 games and you can suggest new games to be added if something you love isn’t on here.”
Want all the 290-gigabyte collection of Flash games? “While Flash games might not be as impressive today, they are still an important part of gaming history,” writes Zwiezen. “These small web games can be directly linked to the later rise of mobile and indie games and helped many creators get their feet wet with building and creating video games.”
More at the flash video game archive.
The above image is of the surface of the sun. Each cells is roughly the size of Texas. The National Science Foundation took the images and others with its Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii. the Foundation explains how it works:
To achieve the proposed science, this telescope required important new approaches to its construction and engineering. Built by NSF’s National Solar Observatory and managed by AURA, the Inouye Solar Telescope combines a 13-foot (4-meter) mirror — the world’s largest for a solar telescope — with unparalleled viewing conditions at the 10,000-foot Haleakala summit.
Focusing 13 kilowatts of solar power generates enormous amounts of heat — heat that must be contained or removed. A specialized cooling system provides crucial heat protection for the telescope and its optics. More than seven miles of piping distribute coolant throughout the observatory, partially chilled by ice created on site during the night.
Spotter: moss & fog
Former FBI agent Joe Navarro says he can detect a person’s intentions and true nature by their “body language”. Navarro has a book out so you can take what he says with a little pinch of marketing salts. But the video above is interesting to hear how an agent looks for spies in our midst. The aim of any spy, of course, is to be forgettable.
The upshot seems to be that we like to wear masks and often lie to ourselves. Some thing you cannot hide, like holding a bunch of flowers a certain way – Joe says in Eastern Europe you hold them stems up. (I always hold them this way; it protests the petals and keeps them proud). The hard part is spotting if the other person is up to no good.
From 1966 through the 1990s, NASA crested hard space suits for space travellers. These suits would offer greater mobility than soft suits. The leader in space fashioned was Hubert “Vic” Vykukal. As the principal designer and investigator of the AX space suit series, he was also happy to model them.
On October 7 1959, human beings saw for the first time the far side of the moon. It was taken by the Soviets’ Luna 3:
The first image was taken at 03:30 UT on 7 October at a distance of 63,500 km after Luna 3 had passed the Moon and looked back at the sunlit far side. The last image was taken 40 minutes later from 66,700 km. A total of 29 photographs were taken, covering 70% of the far side.
John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth when he sat in a small pod atop a huge rocket and blasted into space. On Flashbak, you can see the story of how he got up there in photos. And why a monkey call Ham got there first – and one named Goliath didn’t…
Pippin Barr has developed this fun take on chess: several variations on the game of chess. Play in “Clone” mode and the piece you’ve moved replicates. “Chance” turns your piece into a random new piece – pawn to knight; knight to bishop; and so on. In “Gravity” makes your piece tumble to the bottom of the board unless its blocked by another. “Quantum” created a new piece in each possible new position of a selected piece.
Have Ronald Reagan’s ray guns readied. An uncrewed Russian Soyuz Spacecraft carrying a humanoid robot has aborted docking at International Space Station.
Onboard the Roscosmos Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is the humanoid robot Skybot F-850. On its final approach to the ISS, the automated docking system failed to lock on to its intended docking port.
“At no point was the crew in any danger,” says NASA spokesperson Rob Navias of the ISS’s six-person crew. But it’s not just the humans we’re worried about, is it. It’s the robot, aka Fedor.
“Like any person, Skybot f-850 is very sociable and has a sense of humor,’” says Alexander Bloshenko, science adviser to Roscosmos state space corporation’s director general. “As I have mentioned before, it can support any topic of conversation and answer a variety of questions: from welcoming remarks, continuing with a speech about its creators and ending with the philosophy of space.”
Hal… Come in Hal…
Image: The Russian Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft carrying the humanoid robot Skybot F-850 is seen during final approach to the International Space Station on Aug. 24, 2019. The Soyuz’s docking was aborted due to a problem with its Kurs rendezvous system.
All the chatter about hacks and data harvests makes you wonder: was it all better in analogue? The US Navy is taking a look. Touch screen tech is out:
The US Navy has had enough of touchscreens and is going back to physical controls for its destroyers, according to a report last week in USNI News. Starting next summer the Navy will refit its DDG-51 destroyer fleet with a physical throttle and helm control system. The effort is a response to feedback the Navy solicited in the wake of a pair of fatal crashes involving that class of ship during 2017.
It’s a warning that the auto industry could do well to listen to. Touchscreens continue to proliferate into car infotainment systems, a trend fueled by the plaudits given to Tesla for its huge touchscreens as well as a general belief that CES-primed customers are asking for more and more consumer tech in their vehicles. But there’s mounting evidence that touch interfaces are an awful idea for a driver who is supposed to be—literally—focusing on the road ahead, not hunting for an icon or slider on a screen.
Seventeen sailors died in that accident.
Bring back the wheels and throttles. Full steam ahead…
Screw solitude and giving loved ones space. Parents who like to video tape their child’s every move can now monitor and keep records of their lives when they’re away at summer camp. The routine is pretty simple. You upload a photo of your child’s face to the Bunk1 app, which uses facial recognition software. Whenever the camp commandants take a picture of the kinder at player and upload it to the service, parents get an alert asking “Is this your camper?” It might well be the most god-awful thing ever. But to the Washington Post, it’s mostly brilliant.
Read and weep:
When David Hiller’s two daughters checked into Camp Echo, a bucolic sleep-away camp in Upstate New York, they relinquished their cellphones for seven idyllic weeks away from their digital lives.
But not Hiller: His phone rings 10 times a day with notifications from the summer camp’s facial-recognition service, which alerts him whenever one of his girls is photographed enjoying their newfound independence, going water-skiing or making a new friend.
His daughters don’t really know about the facial-recognition part, he said. But for him and his wife, it’s quickly become a cherished summer pastime, alerting them instantly when the camp uploads its for-parents haul of more than 1,000 photos a day — many of which they end up looking through, just in case.
Points to consider:
Zu kampers vant more?
“It’s all about building this one-way window into the camper’s experience: The parent gets to see in, but the camper’s not distracted from what’s going on,” said Bunk1 president Rob Burns, a former camp counselor himself. “These are parents who are involved in everything their kid does, and that doesn’t go away when the kid is at camp.”
We have only glimpsed the hell to come…
When in April an Israeli lander crashed on to the moon’s surface, it was carrying dehydrated tardigrades, aka ‘water bears’ – microscopic creatures with a unique protein that enables them to survive intense levels of radiation. These things can survive in space.
Aerospace Industries’ Beresheet lander was the first private spacecraft to land on the moon.
The mission was carrying a “lunar library”, an archive featuring 30 million pages of information, DNA samples (human), and thousands of tardigrades. And – get this – tardigrades that have spent up to 10 years in this dehydrated state have been revived.
At least know we know for certain: there is life on other planets.
The Apollo 11 crew brought moon dust with them to planet Earth. “We had to prove that we weren’t going to contaminate not only human beings, but we weren’t going to contaminate fish and birds and animals and plants and you name it,” says Charles Berry, chief of medical operations for the Apollo missions. Space.com has more:
First, NASA chose the species it would use. In addition to the mice, the agency and its partners also selected other representative species: Japanese quail to represent birds, a couple of nondescript fish, brown shrimp and oysters for shellfish, German cockroaches and houseflies for creepy-crawlies, and more….
Then, the agency tapped into its precious cache of 49 lbs. (22 kilograms) of newly delivered lunar material. Scientists ground everything to dust, half of which they baked to sterilize and half of which they left as it was. The prescription varied a little with animal type: mice and quail got the lunar sample as an injection, insects had the sample mixed into their food and aquatic animals had the moon dust added to the water they lived in.
NASA watched the menagerie for a month in case anything seemed to suffer from the lunar exposure. The German cockroaches that were fed moon dust — true to the insects’ reputation — thrived despite the exotic diet. And all the animals did well, with one glaring exception: Whether in lunar water or not, many of the oysters died, which the scientists chalked up to having tested animals during their mating season.
Hard cheese for mice. But they should see what they did to the cats.
In 1978, James Burke (born 22 December 1936) timed his piece to camera to perfection. The rocket was primed. Burke, presenter on the BBC’s Connections talked the viewers down:
How easy is it to steal a human being in China? No, not for the overarching state to take children from loving families for re-education – which is a doddle for the country’s Government – but for non-wonks to take another human and make them vanish? Yu Weifeng, 21, has been reunited with his family. Yu vanished in 2001. “When we found him, he refused to believe that he was a kidnapped child,” says investigator Zheng Zhenhai, “but DNA confirmed that he was a match with his biological parents.”
The end to a mystery is the result of cutting-edge technology able to predict what Yu would look like as a grown man. “We opened the case the day after the incident and we never gave up,” adds Zheng. “Technology was limited at the time. We checked surveillance footage, but there were simply too many people coming in and out of the area… We’re very grateful to his foster parents for raising him for 18 years. From now on, his foster father will become like a brother to me; my son will have two dads.”
As with any technology ‘Made in China’, a degree of circumspection is needed. Is this – you know – true? The Chinese love to record and watch everyone and their genitals in their land. No arrests have been made. But the technology used to get every Chinese life on official cameras 24 hours a day has benefits, such as reuniting a long-lost son with his family.
PS: Yu was stolen in 2001 – when the Government policy in China limited many families to only one child, In 2013, the rules were changed to allow couples to have a second child if one parent is an only child but fewer couples than the government had expected began doing so. So let’s heat it for the son and heir back home. And you can – and very probably must – thank the Government which is only on the look out for new ways to control the people.
We’re looking at the moon. It’s 50 years ago since humans first trod on the lunar surface. NASA which reveals the Sun’s surface in a way never before seen.
This video takes SDO images and applies additional processing to enhance the structures visible. While there is no scientific value to this processing, it does result in a beautiful, new way of looking at the sun.
The original frames are in the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet. This wavelength shows plasma in the solar atmosphere, called the corona, that is around 600,000 Kelvin.
The loops represent plasma held in place by magnetic fields. They are concentrated in “active regions” where the magnetic fields are the strongest. These active regions usually appear in visible light as sunspots. The events in this video represent 24 hours of activity on September 25, 2011.
Thanks to Apollo Flight Journal, we can see the complete descent of the Apollo 11 lunar module’s descent on July 20, 1969.
The video combines data from the onboard computer for altitude and pitch angle, 16mm film that was shot throughout the descent at 6 frames per second. The audio recording is from two sources. The air/ground transmissions are on the left stereo channel and the mission control flight director loop is on the right channel. Subtitles are included to aid comprehension.