Categories
Art psychology technology

Pareidolia on Grains of Sand

I came across a site tonight that hits on a lot of my interests. It’s got a nice mixture of art, technology, with just a hint of psychology.

I’ve been interested in pareidolia since I first learned about it years ago. It is, as wikipedia defines it, “the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music.”

In this particular case, the objects are grains of sand and the incorrect perception is that they look like faces.

In the artwork Pareidolia* facial detection is applied to grains of sand. A fully automated robot search engine examines the grains of sand in situ. When the machine finds a face in one of the grains, the portrait is photographed and displayed on a large screen.

Check out Pareidolia, face detection on grains of sand.

(via Waxy)

Categories
technology

NetNewsWire 5.0

The first stand-alone RSS news feedreader I ever used was NetNewsWire. Soon the name changed to NewsGator and not long after that the original creators were no longer working on the product. Still, it worked like a charm but pretty soon the world moved on to web based readers. After Google Reader came and went I found it difficult to settle on another reader that satisfied me. At least, that was until just a couple of months ago when the original creator of NetNewsWire, Brent Simmons, was able to acquire the rights to the name and released a new open source Mac version of the software. I’ve been loving it but what I’m truly excited for is today’s news that the iOS version of NetNewsWire is about to drop!

It’s free and open source. Even though it’s labeled as 5.0, it’s a brand-new app, a fresh start for an app that originally appeared on the App Store on day one.

The big difference is not the price tag — there have been free versions of NetNewsWire before — and it’s not just that it’s open source. It’s that there’s a great team of volunteers behind it now.

I highly recommend you get your copy of NetNewsWire 5.0 from the App Store — Canadians can get it here.

Categories
podcasting

YouTube Audio to Overcast

Mike Rockwell on how to convert YouTube videos into audio ready for playback on Overcast. Spoiler: He uses a Shortcut.

There’s just so many videos on YouTube that don’t really need the video component. Whether they be information videos or talk shows, often times you can get by without the visuals. For those videos, the YouTube app is a bit heavier than what is necessary for listening. Something like Overcast with its Smart Speed feature, is a much better solution.

[…]

So I put together a shortcut — Push To Overcast — that lets me download a video from YouTube, convert it to an audio file, and then easily upload it to Overcast.

[…]

The shortcut utilizes UPull.me to download the YouTube videos. I don’t know too much about the site or who built it, but it’s the best method I’ve found for downloading videos from YouTube.

You need to have Overcast Premium in order to upload a file via the website but it’s a well-worthwhile purchase even if you don’t use this shortcut.

(via Michael Tsai)

Categories
technology travel

NeverSSL.com

Here’s a great little travel tip from Marco Arment via his podcast ATP. When you don’t have cellular service but need to connect to Wi-Fi and can’t get your phone to get started, trying to connect to a non secure socket layer site will solve the problem. (This happens to me every time I go grocery shopping in the States and want to check with the better half if we need more milk).

Here’s the relevant ATP clip: overcast.fm/+R7DVAsQuw/12:17

And, as Arment points out, a sure address in which to connect that will always use just plain unencrypted http is Neverssl.com.

Categories
biology technology

Meet the Next Generation CRISPR

There’s a new version of CRISPR, the gene editing tool that cuts swaths out of DNA and replaces them with new DNA that, for example, doesn’t contain the code for vulnerabilities to genetically inherited diseases. This version, however, radically improves on the old technology because it can rewrite DNA without actually cutting the DNA (which can damage and introduce errors into the genome). It’s called “prime editing”.

From MIT Technology Review’s article by Antonio Regalado:

Today, in the latest — and possibly most important — of recent improvements to CRISPR technology, Liu is introducing “prime editing,” a molecular gadget he says can rewrite any type of genetic error without actually severing the DNA strand, as CRISPR does.

The new technology uses an engineered protein that, according to a report by Liu and 10 others today in the journal Nature, can transform any single DNA letter into any other, as well as add or delete longer stretches. In fact, Liu claims it’s capable of repairing nearly any of the 75,000 known mutations that cause inherited disease in humans.

From the abstract of the report:

Prime editing substantially expands the scope and capabilities of genome editing, and in principle could correct about 89% of known pathogenic human genetic variants.

Wired, Scientific American, and Nature all have more on this story.

Categories
technology

Moore’s Law graphed vs real CPUs & GPUs 1965 – 2019

Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. The observation is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and CEO of Intel, whose 1965 paper described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit, and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. How did he do? Well, Reddit user DataGrapha created this beautiful animated graph to demonstrate that Mr. Moore was incredibly prescient and that for the most part the rate of doubling has pretty much matched his prediction.

Moore’s Law graphed vs real CPUs & GPUs 1965 – 2019 [OC] from r/dataisbeautiful

Categories
physics technology

Flyboarding Frenchman crosses English Channel on a Jet Powered Flyboard

French inventor Franky Zapata has crossed the English Channel on a kerosene-powered hoverboard. The 40-year-old is the first person in history to complete the flight following a failed attempt last week. He landed 35 km away on the White Cliffs of Dover after just 23 minutes of flight following takeoff at Sangatte, France.

Categories
Apple technology

Apple’s Q3 Financials

“This was our biggest June quarter ever — driven by all-time record revenue from Services, accelerating growth from Wearables, strong performance from iPad and Mac and significant improvement in iPhone trends” — Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO

It turns out1, Apple is not doomed after all.

I bought Apple stock in 2014 and it has been a very good decision. I only wish I would have bought Apple stock in 2004 instead of that iPod Photo. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the iPod Photo but the same $450USD invested in owning part of the company itself would be worth about $20,500USD today (about $26,800 CAN). Talk about an expensive music player2.

To get a picture of how this quarter’s results compare to Apple’s past performance, check out Jason Snell’s Q3 Results Charts.

1. Once again.
2. That based purely on stock price and doesn’t include the dividends.

Categories
Apple technology

Apple Special Event

With only about 10 minutes before it started, I casually mentioned to Andrea that I would like to watch to some technology event happening today. She reminded me that she was having friends over but if I helped her clean up a bit (after) that that would be fine. After changing the baby I raced downstairs to download the Apple Event app on my Apple TV… got all my passwords in, began the downloaded, and loaded it up… with 10 seconds to spare. I watched as the second hand on my watch hit 8:00am and the event started EXACTLY on time. Kind of neat when you know that all of the world’s apple Watches are in sync and that starting exactly on time is in a way an ad for the watches too.

I love technology and I particularly love Apple Events.

Here are my highlights of today’s event:

MacBook Air
The new MacBook Air has been completely redesigned. Finally receiving that retina screen bringing (if I’m not mistaken) all Apple devices up to retina resolution. This was the upgrade that seemed like a no brainer for the past few years.

As well as improving the resolution and nearly removing edge bezels, Apple has also added Touch ID. This particularly point is interesting because they’ve added the same secure enclave as the MacBook pros have but choose not to include a touch bar.

The other big change is that the new MacBook Air’s are made from a new kind of metal alloy that uses 100% recycled aluminum and still has the look of the high grade aluminum that Apple customers love.

Mac Mini
Long speculated that Apple would be sunsetting this product, the Mac Mini gets a much needed update. The new Mac Mini has 4 cores (upgradeable to 6) and will preform up to 5x faster than before. A first glance, an incredible performance boost but maybe not, considering how long the Mac mini has been ignored. It’s been upgraded with Apple’s new T2 security chip and built in HEVC video encoding will make apple’s new high efficiency formats perform 30x faster than on previous mac minis.

Today at Apple
Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail, donned the stage to talk a little bit about the Today at Apple session happening at Apple Stores all over the world. It felt a bit like a filler segment but I was interested to hear the numbers: 18,000 sessions a week with 60 newly designed sessions.

iPad Pro
In the last year Apple sold more iPads than all of the notebooks of the competitors combined. I think it’s worth taking a moment to just think about what that means? All competitors combined?! Despite iPhones dwarfing all of Apple’s other products, iPad is still a huge part of Apple’s bottom line. This morning, as rumoured, Apple continued to build on that bottom line as they announced an all-new iPad Pro.

The first thing you’ll notice with the new iPad is that there is no home button. It’s still sports a LCD (Apple refers to it as a Liquid Retina Display) but that display now fills a full 11″ for the smaller iPad Pro and the larger fills the same 12.9″ but they’ve reduced the size to about the size of an 8.5″ by 11″ rectangle. Other key points include:

  • 5.9 mm thick (25% less volume)
  • FaceID
  • A12x Bionic Chip 8-core CPU
  • up 35% faster for single core
  • up to 90% faster overall
  • faster than 92% of all portable PCs
  • 7 core GPU
  • 1TB storage capacity
  • USB-C!
  • charging out on USB-C
  • Second Generation Apple Pencil connects magnetically, automatically pairs, and starts charging!< (Dare I say, finally?)/li>

The keynote then transitioned into talking about apps traditionally thought too memory and processor intensive for the iPad that are now available:

  • autocad
  • DJ pro
  • NBA 2K
  • Adobe Photoshop

They ran through the prices and then special musical guest Lana Del Rey sang a couple of her new songs and that was it. I still had time to help Andrea get ready for the day.

Categories
Art technology

Adobe Max

Yesterday was day one of Adobe’s annual event Adobe Max in which they announce all of the neat things they’ve been up to. Here are a few of the highlights I’m most excited about in the new Adobe CC applications:

Photoshop:

  • select text with click and commit text by clicking
  • multiple undo function (just keep hitting Command Z to undo)
  • content aware fill
  • frame tool (much like indesign’s frame tool)
  • symmetry mode

Indesign:

  • automatically adjust layout when changing page sizes, margins, and bleeds
  • activate fonts within indesign
  • import and export comments into pdf format

XD:

  • auto-animation
  • add voice interactions
  • responsive resize tool
  • developer plugins

Illustrator CC

  • edit repeating objects across art boards with global edit
  • complex colour gradients
  • custom toolbar

And what’s very exciting (though not coming until next year) is the full version of Photoshop on iOS! But what’s the most exciting of all is that Typekit is now called Adobe Fonts and is part of all Creative Cloud plans. That means all 1500 fonts from Adobe are free to use with any Creative Cloud plan and there is no sync limit. They’ve also streamlined the way fonts are activated. Awesome!

Here’s the highlight reel from the keynote: