Category: Programming

Camouflage sweaters knitted by the artist Nina Dodd

Hand-knit sweater camouflage. This is big: NASA discovers there’s a lot of easy-to-access ice on Mars. A computer language where you code in Filipino. A twitterbot that tweets whenever the New York Times uses a word for the first time. An analog split-flap display that I want sooooo bad. Why UV-sensing tech might encourage us to get more sun, not less. A superb thread on Trump’s “s**thole” comment, and its deep historical context. How to make an anonymous, collaborative Google spreadsheet. How to fold a circle into an ellipse. A flower that never blooms. And … my latest Boing Boing posts: i) The secret physics behind the ultrablack feathers of “birds of paradise”; ii) Frankenstein considered as a novel about climate catastrophe; iii) a study finds that ocean waves can hurl ashore boulders 2.5X the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

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A photo of a 60s desk telephone covered in needlepoint by artist Ulla Stina Wikander

A artist who takes modern domestic objects and wraps them in needlepoint. A tiny, USB-mountable computer. Behold Sunday Magazine, which each week posts “the most interesting articles from the New York Times Sunday Magazine from exactly 100 years ago, with a little bit of commentary or context.” According to a Facebook study, people who use the Internet a lot are less likely to click on spam. Ancient rock art may have captured a supernova that was visible during the day. On the delightful readability of 1980s-era BASIC programs. I notice a curious phenomenon — that when I’m reading deeply on my phone, I often forget it is a phone — and a good Twitter discussion emerges. And my latest Boing Boing posts: i) A 3d-printable “measuring cube” for cooking; ii) a terrific piece on the “stowaway” craze of the 1920s; iii) in the 1970s, the CIA created a tiny dragonfly-shaped drone to fly around as a remote spy microphone; iv) what it’s like mining bitcoins by hand, with pencil and paper; v) Blackbeard’s pirates apparently enjoyed reading novels; and vi) this gentleman has figured out how to use the data from his rooftop solar panels as a crude way to photograph the nearby landscape.

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A screenshot of a 1924 New York Times article on the "4,000 most important words"

A 1924 New York Times story on “The 4,000 Most Essential Words” a foreigner must know to become a US citizen. (It’s on page 140. From the ms: “Milliner, million, mind”.) Why do we have pom-pom balls on our winter hats? A slightly different Fire and Fury becomes a bestseller. The current use of “Clive” in English-language books, according to Google’s ngram, is slightly below the historical mean. An analysis finds that Haskell is disproportionately a language coders learn for fun on the weekend. “Blattidae”, “chandala”, “chrestomathy”: H.L. Mencken had an epically wide-ranging vocabulary. Ophthalmologists who were trained in art observation became better at their jobs.

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Hacking a Furby Connect. Meet the men who are convinced we live in a simulation. Smartphone keyboards designed specifically for coding, Android and iOS. An online tool that translates a MIDI file into JSON; very useful for a project I’m currently working on. How video games harness the Zeigarnik Effect. Belgium’s aesthetically gorgeous telegram service is finally shutting down. “Aerial transit will be accomplished because the air is a solid if you hit it hard enough”: The final sentence from the 1894 book The Problem of Manflight. It turns out that “Classic Nintendo Games are (NP-)Hard”. We’re getting closer to cracking the secret of how porpoise sonar works. Google’s new voice-synthesis is unsettlingly lifelike.

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How NASA tests its most powerful rocket ever; gorgeous photos by Vincent Fournier. Everyday women in the early Neolithic and Bronze Age were likely stronger than today’s athletes. A guitar tuner designed for blind musicians. A good discussion of the question “Is it ethical to work for online casinos?” Behold the 1739 book Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy Explain’d for the Use of the Ladies. Building a regex engine in 40 lines of Javascript. The first text-message ever sent, 25 years ago, said “Merry Christmas”. A 1913 manual on the construction of swimming pools. Storytelling considered as an evolutionary survival skill. A DIY muon detector that costs only $100 in parts.

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A little Processing experiment I created: 5,000 bouncing balls that make weirdly mesmerizing patterns. (Caution: Maybe don’t leave it open for too long on your laptop browser; it hoovers browser processing-power, particularly in Firefox.) The 1959 brochure introducing the “FLOW-MATIC” programming language. Superb long essay on the post-Weinstein uncorking of decades of professional women’s stories about, and fury over, workplace treatment. Why watch hands run clockwise (and why some don’t). What it’s like to take LSD while listening to Brian Eno’s latest generative-music app. What happens to an open-source code base when its chief author dies? US neo-Nazis are unhappy with the latest Castle Wolfenstein game. A BBC radio drama you interact with via Amazon’s Alexa. Letting the Iphone’s predictive-text write your epitaph.  A new John Donne manuscript, replete with scatalogical humor, has surfaced. How to build computer logic using relays, in the 1941 book “Giant Brains, or, Machines That Think”.

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Screenshot of "woebot", a chatbot therapist on Facebook Messenger

Behold “Woebot”, a therapist chatbot that lives on Facebook Messenger. (It does cognitive behavioral therapy.) Twenty years after a prankster put a pumpkin atop Cornell’s McGraw Tower, we still don’t know who did it, or how. The story behind the paperclip-apocalypse game. Behold the online mattress-review wars. Why background chatter in your office distracts you, but not the chatter in cafes. Meet the highest US judge who’s been coding for decades — in BASIC. Patriotic stress balls. What the US would look like divided into concentric rings of equal population. Can fish get depressed? Creating about 40 times the weight of the Earth in gold: When neutron stars collide. Jeremy, “the lefty snail”, is dead. Moo: The programming language “COW” has been implemented in Javascript.

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A mesmerizing “water droplet” kinetic sculpture. A study of the culture of IMDB’s old discussion boards, which were shut down last winter. Deep learning considered as “woodworking without physics”. An attempt to train a neural net to understand the emotional import of a hurricane. Deep inside his hacky, serialized novel Jack Engel, Walt Whitman tucked a short exuberant passage that presaged Leaves of Grass. I want to get better at regex and am gonna buy this book. The phrase “killer app” is dreadful; here are some better replacements. The problems you get when trolls try to intentionally contaminate big, open data sets. The fascinating lineage of philosophers who defend extravagance. The story of why I’m @pomeranian99.

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An animated gif by the artist Kim Albrecht showing how a phone sense its environment

Animated gifs that show what it’s like to be a mobile phone. An app that reads text back to you in a sarcastic voice. Why “routine biased technological change” strikes most heavily during recessions. The stilt-walking shepherds of France. The illustrations in the 1898 book “On the Disposition of Iron in Variegated Strata” look like gorgeous modern art. The best layperson’s explanation of blockchain I’ve ever read. Can you use regex to parse HMTL? An unexpectedly apocalyptic answer. Hunting for alien life by looking for rocket exhaust. Basque “arborglyphs”.

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A screengrab of the video game Cuphead, showing Cuphead fighting a massive cigar

omg I want to play Cuphead, a game animated in the style of early Disney. A mobile phone with removable screens, for passing around and sharing. An argument, based on quantum mechanics, that claims to prove we’re not living in a simulation. Apple considered as being terrible at design. On the glory of Webster’s 1828 dictionary. A bookmarking tool specifically for developers. The challenge of translating the very first line of The Illiad. Utterly mesmerizing: A band uses the buffering delay on Facebook Live as a looping mechanism. Seriously, go watch that now.

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