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This Old FBI File Is a Great Reminder of Just How Screwed Trump's Lying Cronies Are

Gizmodo - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:50

Martin Friedman, the head of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, died last May at the age of 90. At the time, I requested Friedman’s FBI file through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and that 93-page file was delivered to me yesterday. While there’s nothing scandalous in it, reading the file made me…


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FDA: Stop buying miracle cancer drugs on Instagram

Engadget - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:38
The FDA has issued a warning to social media users not to be taken in by miracle cures hawked on the internet. The agency found 14 companies that made fraudulent, outrageous claims about the power of their medicines on platforms like Facebook and Ins...
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Amazon Has a New Echo That Tells You If Your Outfit Sucks

Gizmodo - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:37

Amazon has a new Echo and this time, it has a camera built-in to tell you how ugly, or hot, your outfit looks. Dubbed the Echo Look, this forthcoming $200 device has a depth-sensing camera that can take full-length photos and videos using just your voice.


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The Jig Is Up: Owls Have Surprisingly Long Legs

GeekOlogy - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:30
These are two shots of somebody lifting Hedwig's body to reveal his surprisingly long legs. "That is not Hedwig." Whatever. Not to brag or anything (I'd prefer to save my bragging for something a little more substantial than the length of owl legs), but I actually knew owls had long legs because I've seen videos of them hunting before and they extend those legs and talons to grab their prey. You know, I also have surprisingly long legs, and have to get all my pants custom tailored. "What are your measurements?" 28 x 340. "Wait, are you Slender Man?!" Close -- I'm a master of fright, and a demon of light, and I'll scare you right out of your pants. "Jack Skellington!" At your service. Thanks to Jason B, who still wants to know how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.
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Nebula Wasn't Originally Meant to Survive the First Guardians of the Galaxy

Gizmodo - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:30

Of all of Marvel’s vaguely defined villains, Nebula was always more of an opportunist than a straight-up believer, which is why her changing sides in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 works. But, according to Karen Gillan, Nebula wasn’t even supposed to be alive to switch sides.


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The Would-Be Auto Worker Caught Up In A Detroit Prison Snitch Scandal

Gizmodo - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:23

The night 18-year-old Bernard Howard was hauled into Detroit police headquarters he was unequivocal: he knew nothing. Police had heard a man nicknamed Snoop—something Howard’s friend on the east side called him—might’ve been involved in a triple homicide, but Howard was clear: he didn’t know a thing. So he was…


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Maybe Don't Manually Install Windows 10 Creators Update, Says Microsoft

Slashdot - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:22
Two weeks after Microsoft started rolling out Windows 10 Creators Update, the company has asked the users to avoid manually installing the major update. A report adds: But why? Because the update is causing problems for users. The first phase of the rollout targeted newer devices -- those most likely to be able to run the OS update with the minimum of problems -- and Microsoft is using the feedback from that first batch of updated systems to decide when to begin the next phase of the rollout. "For example, our feedback process identified a Bluetooth accessory connectivity issue with PCs that use a specific series of Broadcom radios," an executive said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Amazon Echo Look is a voice-controlled camera for fashion tips

Engadget - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:21
Amazon's Echo smart speakers just went in an unusual (but potentially very helpful) new direction. Meet Echo Look, an Alexa-powered camera designed around taking your own fashion photos and videos. If you want to show off your daily wardrobe, you j...
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Von Neumann Machines Animated & Explained

AdaFruit - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:07

From Stargate Replicators to Borg-like technology, the question of ‘von Neumann machines’ is both an intriguing and scary concept! Does the fact that they haven’t shown up yet prove that they don’t exist at all (not necessarily!) or are they possibly on their way right now? (Oh my!)

Could human civilization eventually spread across the whole Milky Way galaxy? Could we move beyond our small, blue planet to establish colonies in the multitude of star systems out there? These questions are pretty daunting, but their (theoretical) answers were actually put forth decades ago. Roey Tzezana describes the conceptual von Neumann machine.

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NEW GUIDE: n3rfgun, Hacking the Nerf gun with NeoPixels #AdafruitLearningSystem

AdaFruit - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:04

NEW GUIDE: n3rfgun, Hacking the Nerf gun with NeoPixels

Awesome project to amp up a Nerf gun and bring out the kid in all of us.

It’s my son’s fault, really. He came to me one day with a YouTube video of someone who modified a Nerf gun to make it fire faster. “Dad, can we make this?”

Of course, I had to take it to the next level. Not only did we increase the firing speed, we added a bunch of NeoPixels to make it look cool at night, and gave the firing motor several speeds. But, like the “turbo” button on the early PC’s, who would ever use it in non-turbo mode?

This particular Nerf gun, the Elite Rapidstrike CD-18 Blaster was purchased online, because it is hard to source at our local Target store. I’m not sure if they are still in production, so fire up your favorite search engine and see what you can find!

Also, stock up on the extended magazine and a couple of hundred darts. You are going to go through them rather quickly!

Check out the full guide on the Adafruit Learning System!

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Uber highlights your rating to make you a better passenger

Engadget - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:02
It's no secret that Uber assigns star ratings to passengers as well as drivers, but finding your passenger rating has practically required a small mining expedition. After today, though, you'll hardly have to lift a finger to understand your reputati...
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Jewelry with Flora, Gemma and NeoPixels #WearableWednesday

AdaFruit - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 10:00

From jacquic6 on Instructables:

To make the infamous Peek Jewelry, you will need:

– a adafruit Flora and Gemma or a neopixel, whichever one you prefer

– some conductive thread (and optional, also normal thread if you want to sew something up without it conducting)

– needles

– a small battery pack, preferably to be hidden on the back of your adafruit.

– small hooks used to make earrings!

– a USB to plug your adafruit into your computer to get the code on

– a programmed called Arduino IDE

– your imagination! you can get creative and make it however you want!

Read more and see more from Jacquelyn Chim on YouTube

Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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A Devastating Holocaust Documentary Proves VR Filmmaking Isn't Just a Gimmick

Gizmodo - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 09:55

It’s really easy to mess up a film project about the Holocaust. The wrong tone, the wrong direction, and it can all go horribly awry. Add cutting-edge technology operated by unskilled hands to a topic as devastating as survivor testimony, and you could have a disaster. Fortunately, the VR film The Last Goodbye, which…


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Baby Humpback Whales Whisper to Their Moms Because the Ocean Is Terrifying

Gizmodo - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 09:45

The ocean is dark and full of terrors—including hungry orcas, and horny men looking to bang your mom, if you’re a baby humpback whale. And so, you keep your voice to a whisper to avoid these predatory eavesdroppers.


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VR's latest victim: 'live' standup comedy

Engadget - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 09:42
Comedy Living Room started in 2012 as a way for emergent stand-ups to try out gags in the safety of a friend's living room. Now, the event is embracing virtual reality, enabling everyone to watch a low-fi comedy gig in someone else's living room whil...
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Windows is Bloated, Thanks to Adobe's Extensible Metadata Platform

Slashdot - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 09:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: Over the weekend, I put together a little tool that scans executable files for PNG images containing useless Adobe Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) metadata. I ran it against a vanilla Windows 10 image and was surprised that Windows contains a lot of this stuff. Adobe XMP, generally speaking, is an Adobe technology that serializes metadata like titles, internal identifiers, GPS coordinates, and color information into XML and jams it into things, like images. This data can be extremely valuable in some cases but Windows doesn't need or use this stuff. It just eats up disk space and CPU cycles. Thanks to horrible Adobe Photoshop defaults, it's very easy to unknowingly include this metadata in your final image assets. So easy, almost all the images on this site are chock full of it. But you can appreciate my surprise when a bunch of important Windows binaries showed up in my tool.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Hardware Hump Day: Air Quality Measurements with the CCS811

Sparkfun news - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 09:35

If you’ve been keeping up with the stream of experimental products coming out of SparkX over the past several months, you may have recently seen the CCS811 Air Quality Breakout go by. The CCS811 is a tiny part that reports air quality as a function of the total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) detected. We thought this was a pretty cool part, so this week it earns its wings as a full-fledged SparkFun storefront product. To celebrate, I threw together a little project and did some research on VOCs and “CO2 Equivalent Units.”

What’s a VOC?

Volatile organic compounds are more or less what they say they are: organic (carbon-containing) compounds that exhibit the property of volatility. Substances can be said to be volatile if they have a very low boiling point, and therefore tend to readily escape into the air at room temperature. The term encompasses a pretty huge collection of materials, including several produced by the human body — every time you exhale, you produce VOCs. Most of the scents and odors that you smell are VOCs, and although many are harmless in normal concentrations, there are also many that are harmful to people and/or the environment.

Day to day, we encounter the highest concentrations of VOCs indoors. Paint, carpets, cleaning materials, machines, people and pets all contain and release VOCs and they tend to accumulate in enclosed spaces without proper ventilation. Human-made (or anthropogenic) VOCs are regulated by law for just this reason.

The health effects of VOCs can be difficult to study because they tend to cause cumulative damage over years of moderate exposure. They don’t pose a significant health risk for normal people living in homes with proper ventilation, but indoor air quality is something worth thinking about. Some specialized HVAC systems even contain sensors to detect rising VOC levels and turn on fresh-air ventilation or air scrubbers.

The legal definition of VOCs, on the other hand, can be harder to nail down. They tend to encompass only a subset of chemically-defined VOCs and vary from country to country depending on the purpose of the legislation where the definition is found. In the US, for instance, many legal definitions of VOCs are concerned specifically with environmental precursors to smog, whereas in Canada the emphasis is placed more widely on substances affecting air quality.

CO2 Equivalent Units

One measurement that causes a lot of confusion is “Equivalent CO2.” The CCS811 will report equivalent CO2 in parts-per-million, but that number can be a little bit deceptive. It’s important to recognize that the CCS811 cannot measure CO2 and that the “equivalent CO2” being reported by the CCS811 has nothing to do with actual CO2 present in the area. So why the heck is it called “CO2 Equivalent Units” and why would anyone need it? The answer comes down to the use of indoor air quality sensors — like the CCS811 — in HVAC control.

Building ventilation, it turns out, is all about occupancy. The more people present in a space, the more CO2 they’re exhaling, and the more ventilation is required. Now, it’s certainly possible to design and operate an HVAC system around the design occupancy of a building or room, in other words the number of people expected to use a space. But this means that you may be wasting energy at times when the building isn’t actually occupied. To solve this problem, many HVAC systems will monitor the concentration of CO2 in a given area in order to calculate the amount of air exchange needed in a scheme called “demand-controlled ventilation.”

Makers of indoor air quality sensors that don’t detect CO2 (in an attempt to market their devices for demand-controlled ventilation systems) have correlated rising CO2 levels in certain environments to rising VOC levels. It’s important to recognize that this is a correlation of the change in levels and not a correlation of the levels themselves: High VOC concentrations are not analogous to high CO2 concentrations. But it can be said that if the VOC concentration of a given space begins to slowly climb above baseline, it probably corresponds to room occupancy and an increase in CO2 (because humans exhale both CO2 and VOCs). Therefore, the manufacturers of these devices report the “CO2 Equivalent Units” with respect to this correlation so that their devices might fit more easily into an existing demand-controlled ventilation scheme.

In my limited research, HVAC experts tend to suggest using real IR-based CO2 sensors in situations where people’s health may be at risk. This doesn’t mean, however, that VOC sensors are unsafe in properly designed systems, or that they don’t have a place alongside CO2 sensors in smart ventilation systems. For instance, VOC sensors can react quickly to non-occupant-related VOC sources and leaking environmental contaminants.

Pocket Air Quality Sensor

To play with this new sensor, and to put myself in the shoes of a ventilation controller, I decided to build a portable readout for the air quality sensor and take it for a walk around the office. To display the readings taken by the CCS811, I used a MicroView, which acted both as the display and the controller to talk to the sensor. The circuit for my project is essentially identical to the one outlined in this tutorial, but I exchanged the MAG3110 magnetometer for the CCS811. As for the code, I simply modified our example code for the CCS811 to include the MicroView library, and used the OLED to print the output values instead of the serial port. If you want to build your own, here’s a list of the parts that I used besides the sensor itself:

Added to your cart!

In stock BOB-12009

If you've ever tried to connect a 3.3V device to a 5V system, you know what a challenge it can be. The SparkFun bi-directiona…

2.95 67 Favorited Favorite 62 Wish List

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Out of stock DEV-12923

The MicroView is the first chip-sized Arduino compatible module that lets you see what your Arduino is thinking using a built…

39.95 37 Favorited Favorite 72 Wish List

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In stock PRT-00116

A row of headers - break to fit. 40 pins that can be cut to any size. Used with custom PCBs or general custom headers. **Fea…

1.5 20 Favorited Favorite 48 Wish List

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In stock PRT-12070

This is the SparkFun Solderable Breadboard. A bare PCB that is the exact size as our regular breadboard with the same connect…

4.95 12 Favorited Favorite 21 Wish List

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In stock PRT-11231

The PowerCell board is a single cell LiPo boost converter (to 3.3V and 5V) and micro-USB charger in one. The board comes with…

19.95 12 Favorited Favorite 28 Wish List

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17 available PRT-13854

These are very slim, extremely light weight batteries based on Lithium Ion chemistry. Each cell outputs a nominal 3.7V at 850…

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In stock PRT-00124

This is a time saving kit of jumper wires - cut, stripped, and pre-bent for your prototyping pleasure. Included with this kit…

6.95 7 Favorited Favorite 12 Wish List

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In stock DEV-12924

The MicroView is the first chip-sized Arduino compatible module that lets you see what your Arduino is thinking using a built…

14.95 5 Favorited Favorite 17 Wish List

And here’s what the code looks like after modification:

/* CCS811 Air Quality Sensor Example Code By: Nathan Seidle SparkFun Electronics Date: February 7th, 2017 Modified By: Nick Poole (for use with MicroView) License: This code is public domain but you buy me a beer if you use this and we meet someday (Beerware license). Works with SparkFun CCS811 board https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14181 Or Combo board https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14241 Enjoy this code? Buy a board and help support SparkFun! Read the TVOC values from the SparkFun CSS811 breakout board and display them on the MicroView. A new sensor requires at 48-hour burn in. Once burned in a sensor requires 20 minutes of run in before readings are considered good. */ #include <MicroView.h> #include <Wire.h> //These are the air quality values obtained from the sensor unsigned int tVOC = 0; unsigned int CO2 = 0; void setup() { uView.begin(); // start MicroView uView.clear(PAGE); // clear page uView.setCursor(0,0); uView.print("CCS811 Read Example"); uView.display(); Wire.begin(); if (configureCCS811() == false) { uView.clear(PAGE); uView.setCursor(0,0); uView.print("Problem with CCS811"); uView.display(); while(1); } else { uView.clear(PAGE); uView.setCursor(0,0); uView.print("CCS811 online"); uView.display(); } } void loop() { if (dataAvailable()) { readAlgorithmResults(); //Calling this function updates the global tVOC and CO2 variables uView.clear(PAGE); uView.setCursor(0,0); uView.print("tVOC: "); uView.print(tVOC); uView.display(); } else if (checkForError()) { printError(); } delay(1000); //Wait for next reading } And what did we learn?

Well, the obvious, really. But before I show you the few readings that I took, there’s something I want to point out. You may have noticed in the comments of the code above that this sensor requires a 48-hour “burn in” period when it’s first installed. Beyond that, every time the sensor is powered on, it requires 20 minutes of “run-in” before the readings are considered usable. At the time that these pictures were taken, the sensor had only burned in for about 15 hours so the readings aren’t necessarily accurate. That said, the relationship of the readings to one another is still pretty telling.

Here’s the sensor sitting inside our office, actually in our production area. I found that readings within the building didn’t vary that widely, probably due to the ventilation system.

It may be hard to make out but we’re reading 532 ppb here. Again, that’s probably not accurate, so this number on its own isn’t that interesting until we compare it to the sensor outside just moments later:

Here you can see that we’re reading only 179 ppb just outside the building. That’s about a third of what we measured inside. Pretty cool! But what can we do to push the sensor in the other direction? Oh wait, I know a place chock full of VOCs…

What you’re looking at now is the sensor sitting inside the open door of the Flammable Materials cabinet under my desk. This cabinet has become a storage place for “smelly” materials, flammable or not, and contains things like paints, glues, stains, resins and cleaners… basically all of the household products that contain high concentrations of VOCs. What the sensor says is 1156 ppb, but it hit 1156 and stayed there, taking a minute to recover even after being removed from the cabinet. Referring to the datasheet, we can see that the sensor is supposed to measure concentrations up to around 1187, so it’s probably safe to assume that we saturated the heck out of this sensor. After all, the range of the CCS811 is calibrated to the typical VOC mixture of an indoor environment and my paint cabinet is not a typical indoor environment.


I really enjoyed playing with the CCS811 and I think it’s probably useful for a lot of applications from quantified living to home automation. It’s easy to use and takes very little power to operate. The only downside is the long run-in period, but that’s common for sensors of this type. If you’re interested in measuring indoor air quality, I definitely recommend picking up one of these breakouts, which you can do Friday, and playing with them. Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out in the comments with any questions or suggestions!

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Categories: Nerd News

Twitter's Free Fall Is Slightly Less Brutal Than It Was Before

Gizmodo - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 09:21

Twitter announced its Q1 2017 earnings on Wednesday, and good news, everyone: The company isn’t performing as poorly as it was last quarter!


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How 'Puyo Puyo Tetris' tricked me into liking puzzle games

Engadget - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 09:20
When Larry Kasanoff said he was turning the world's most iconic puzzle game into a trilogy of science fiction movies, I was speechless. After a disaster like Pixels, how could anybody look at Tetris and think there was a narrative to tell? The game m...
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