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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.

Video : Through Cricklewood on a London Trolleybus in the 1950s

This fabulous video was taken from the top of the 660 trolleybus from Hammersmith to North Finchley in 1957. We start at the junction of Cricklewood Lane and Edgeware Road and head down to cross Hendon Way (now a six-lane motorway and back then running single lane traffic) to Child’s Hill.

Trolleybuses served the London Passenger Transport Area from 1931 til 1962. The London system was the world’s largest, reaching 1,811 trolleybuses on 68 routes.

Via: Flashbak

Posted: 18th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, Technology | Comment


GameStop : short selling casino banking

The performance data on shares in GameStop, the video games chain of high street stores, represents past performance. It is not a guarantee of future results. GamesStore had planned to shut 450 stores in 2021. But hold on – GameStop shares are rocketing.

Triggered by a push by users on Reddit, small investors have piled in, buying shares and causing the stock to soar. In April 2020, a share in GameStore was worth $3.25. Last Tuesday that same share was selling for $148. But this isn’t about the small investors making money. It’s about their plan to cause pain to Wall Street traders who shorted the stock (betting on it tanking).

About 71.66m GameStop shares are currently shorted – worth about $4.66bn. Year-to-date, those bets have cost investors about $6.12bn, which includes a loss of $2.79bn on Monday. Monday’s stock gain of 145% in less than two hours, which extends GameStop’s gains for the year to more than 300%, is the latest sign that frenetic trading by individual investors is leading to outsize stock-market swings.

“We broke it. We broke GME [GameStop’s stock market ticker] at open,” one Reddit user wrote on Monday after the NYSE halted trading…

“This is the new day and age in which no one listens to the analysts: ‘Why bother, let’s just go out and buy it ourselves?’” Lars Skovgaard Andersen, investment strategist at Danske Bank Wealth Management, told the Wall Street Journal. “It is a sign of high complacency.”

And the hedge funds? One tells the FT:

“It’s not rocket science — massively reduce your shorts or risk going out of business,” Mr Block said. “This phase will pass, but in the meantime it’s best to be a spectator rather than a participant.”

“Will it end badly?” asks Thomas Hayes, managing director at Great Hill Capital hedge fund. “Sure. We just don’t know when.”

Who has the greater resources money and the stamina for the long position? And isn’t shorting a stock a good way to prick a price bubble?

Posted: 27th, January 2021 | In: Money, Technology | Comment


Artist predicted Zoom in 1896 – the telephonoscope

Artist predicted Zoom in 1896 - the telephonoscope

The rough translation to this 1896 cartoon predicting the Zoom age is: “My wife visits her aunt in Budapest, my oldest daughter is studying to be a dentist in Melbourne… this does not prevent us from celebrating Christmas with the telephonoscope.”

Helen De Cruz adds:

Next to Zoom Christmas, Albert Robida also predicted courses via Zoom, in his novel Le Vingtième siècle. La vie électrique (1890). Caption reads “Courses by Telephonoscope”. He thought the “telephonoscope” would give us education, movies, teleconferencing.

Spotter: @Helenreflects

Posted: 21st, January 2021 | In: Key Posts, Technology | Comment


Computer programmer forgets password – gets locked out of $220m Bitcoin wallet


Stefan Thomas, a German computer programmer living in San Francisco, can’t remember his password. If he can, Thomas gain control of the 7,002 bitcoin on his IronKey hard drive. But he can’t. He has two attempts left before he reaches his quota of 10 password attempts before the drive locks him out permanently and encrypts the content – leaving his $220 million virtual fortune gone.

“There were sort of a couple weeks where I was just desperate – I don’t have any other word to describe it,” Thomas told KGO-TV. “You sort of question your own self-worth: ‘What kind of person loses something that important?'”

File under: cash is king.

Spotter: NYT

Previously: Newport man throws away £210m Bitcoin hard drive

Posted: 16th, January 2021 | In: Key Posts, Money, Technology | Comment


Newport man throws away £210m Bitcoin hard drive

Bitcoin


James Howells “believes” the hard drive he threw away in 2013 contains £210m-worth of Bitcoin, the super-traceable cyber currency that may well be or not be a fad. Howells’ 7,500 bitcoins are possibly languishing in landfill site news his home in Newport, Wales. And he wants the local council to help him search for it. If they find it, Newport city will be in for 25% of the amount.

Nice idea but even if he finds it, should the bitcoin millionaire sell his haul, the price of his holding will go down or even collapse. Sell more than the market could take and watch the price skid. Increase supply with no corresponding rise in demand and price falls. No?

One question would be: can’t he find a hacker to crack into his holding? If bitcoin all that secure? And can’t he just use the promise of buried riches to create his own cyber currency?

Spotter: BBC

Posted: 14th, January 2021 | In: Money, News, Technology | Comment


Hacker demands ransom to release BDSM victim from Chastity Cage

“Your cock is mine now,” a hacker told one of their victims. But the BDSM enthusiast can get his penis back by paying a fee. Pay up and the hacker will disengage the lock on his chastity cage. Fail to pay and endure pain and humiliation. Given the nature of BDSM, the hacker might want to reconsider their target market.

The Internet of Things chastity cage is a sex toy that users put around their penis to prevent erections. It is used, it says here, by (proud and less proud) members of the BDSM community. The Internet of Things chastity cage can be locked and unlocked remotely. That’s all fine until a hacker gains control of the devices and asks ‘Robert’ for 0.02 Bitcoin to unlock it.

“Fortunately I didn’t have this locked on myself while this happened,” Robert tells Motherboard. “I wasn’t the owner of the cage anymore so I didn’t have full control over the cage at any given moment,” adds ‘RJ’, another victim.

“Grmmuph fddlumph riggketgflumpng,” adds another, speaking through a zipped hole in a leatherette mask. Like him, the hacker has yet to be unmasked. In the meanwhile, if you’re wary of the chastity cage and still want to prevent erections, try this:

Posted: 11th, January 2021 | In: Strange But True, Technology | Comment


Watch: The Watercress line light up at Christmas

watercress line

“Tonight the BF and I went and stood on a bridge in the middle of nowhere to catch a glimpse of a train. It was well worth it,” tweets Tom Lynch.

The Watercress Line runs between Alresford and Alton.

The Mid Hants Railway started life in October 1865 as the Alton, Alresford & Winchester Railway and was intended to connect the existing lines at Alton and Winchester and provide an alternative route between London and Southampton…

In 1937 the line from London to Alton was electrified which meant that the Mid Hants line was no longer part of a through route…

The line, from Alresford to Alton, was subsequently purchased from British Rail in 1975 and through the hard work of the volunteers the first trains ran in May 1977 from Alresford to Ropley. The new company, based on volunteer staff, then re-opened the remaining line in stages, with the extension to Medstead & Four Marks in 1983 and final section to Alton in 1985.

You can book a ride on the Watercress Line here.

Posted: 26th, December 2020 | In: Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Eugene von Ransonnet-Villez: built a submarine to draw the ocean floor

Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez (1838 - 1926) was an Austrian a diplomat, painter, lithographer, biologist and explorer who built a personal submersible and drew what he saw beneath the waves. the sea.

Eugene von Ransonnet-Villez (1838 – 1926) was an Austrian a diplomat, painter, lithographer, biologist and explorer who built a personal submersible and drew what he saw beneath the waves. the sea.

This above image Ransonnet drew sitting in a diving bell in 1864-65 in Ceylon (today Sri Lanka).

Ransonnet-Villez, Eugen von, 1838-1926

Spotter: flashbak

Posted: 1st, December 2020 | In: Technology | Comment


Snowball Fight (1896) – Lumière Brothers films gets the HD and Colorised treatment

Snowball Fight (1896) - Louis Lumière Colorised

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?

Spotter: Flashbak, JoaquimCampa

Posted: 8th, October 2020 | In: Film, Technology | Comment


Watch Charlie Chaplin in colour in a new version of A Night at the Show, 1915

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.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 1st, October 2020 | In: Celebrities, Film, Technology | Comment


Make Your Own Vinyl Records with an Easy Record Maker

Make Your Own Vinyl Records with an Easy Record Maker

You don’t need a factory to make vinyl records. Japanese artist Yuri Suzuki has crested the Easy Record Maker:

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:

Spotter: Kottke, Design Week

Posted: 6th, April 2020 | In: Music, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


The 3D Virtual Tour Through The Ancient Giza Necropolis

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

Posted: 2nd, April 2020 | In: Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Lawyer creates 68 billion musical melodies by algorithm so you can never be sued for copyright infringement

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.

Posted: 4th, March 2020 | In: Key Posts, Music, Technology | Comment


Unsung heroes: NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson has died

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson

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. “

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 24th, February 2020 | In: News, Technology | Comment


Scientist makes working rotary mobile phone

RotaryCellphone

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:

  • Real, removable antenna with an SMA connector. Receptions is excellent, and if I really want to I could always attach a directional antenna.
  • When I want a phone I don’t have to navigate through menus to get to the phone “application.” That’s bullshit.
  • If I want to call my husband, I can do so by pressing a single dedicated physical key which is dedicated to him. No menus. The point isn’t to use the rotary dial every single time I want to make a call, which would get tiresome for daily use. The people I call most often are stored, and if I have to dial a new number or do something like set the volume, then I can use the fun and satisfying-to-use rotary dial.
  • Nearly instantaneous, high resolution display of signal strength and battery level. No signal metering lag, and my LED bargraph gives 10 increments of resolution instead of just 4.
  • The ePaper display is bistatic, meaning it doesn’t take any energy to display a fixed message.
  • When I want to change something about the phone’s behavior, I just do it.
  • The power switch is an actual slide switch. No holding down a stupid button to make it turn off and not being sure it really is turning off or what.

She’s smarter than her smart phone. Are you?

Posted: 23rd, February 2020 | In: Key Posts, Technology | Comment


RIP Larry Tesler, inventor of cut and paste

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

Posted: 21st, February 2020 | In: News, Technology | Comment


Play 36,000 Flash games offline

Flash games

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.

Spotter: Kotaku

Posted: 4th, February 2020 | In: Technology | Comment


Mind-blowing high resolution images of the sun’s surface

Surface of the sun

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.

Mind-blowing high resolution images of the sun’s surface

Spotter: moss & fog

Posted: 30th, January 2020 | In: Strange But True, Technology | Comment


FBI masterclass: how to spot a liar by their body language

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.

Posted: 21st, January 2020 | In: Strange But True, Technology | Comment


Nasa’s hard shell space suits

Nasa's hard shell space suits

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.

You can see lots more of Vik in his creations on Flashbak.

Posted: 10th, October 2019 | In: Fashion, Key Posts, Technology | Comment


The first photo of the far side of the moon

The first photo of the Dark Side of the Moon

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.

And now:

The first photo of the Dark Side of the Moon

Spotter: NASA

Posted: 5th, October 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, Strange But True, Technology | Comment


John Glenn, Ham the Monkey and The Mercury 6 Story

The famous hand shake welcome. Ham the Chimpanzee is greeted by recovery ship Commander after his flight on the Mercury Redstone rocket, January 31, 1961
The famous hand shake welcome. Ham the Chimpanzee is greeted by recovery ship Commander after his flight on the Mercury Redstone rocket, January 31, 1961


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…

Via: The Mercury 6 Flight Story In Photos

Posted: 4th, September 2019 | In: News, Photojournalism, Technology | Comment


Several Variants on the Game of Chess

Gravity chess

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.

Spotter: Kottke

Posted: 26th, August 2019 | In: Technology | Comment


Hal is coming: Russian Spacecraft carrying humanoid Robot aborts Space Station docking

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.

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

Fedor spec robot

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.

Via: Russian Soyuz Spacecraft Carrying Humanoid Robot Aborts Docking at Space Station

Posted: 25th, August 2019 | In: Key Posts, Technology | Comment