August 10, 2022

Cup Noodles Stir Fry

Easy peasy to the max!

I'm always looking for a way to do less to get the result I want.

Nissin's Cup Noodles Stir Fry caught my eye during my last foray to Kroger so I took a flutter.

This is my new go-to dish when even slitting the plastic to vent or stir mashed potatoes and re-nuke is more effort than I feel like exerting.

 Remove the aluminized paper top

 Add tap water to the inside fill line

 Nuke 4 minutes

De-lish-us!

I like this better than Nissin's flagship Cup Noodles — which have hit the spot for decades — because it's ready to eat right out of the microwave, compared to the boiling hot Cup Noodles.

Also, I prefer to let Cup Noodles sit for 15-30 minutes in the cup so the liquid gets absorbed by the noodles: the Stir Fry noodles are nice and toothsome right out of the microwave as the water initially added gets completely absorbed in the cooking process. 

August 10, 2022 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brickit — 'Build new things from your old LEGO bricks'

"Just scatter your bricks on a table and take a photo. Brickit will come up with hundreds of ideas of what can be built with them — and show you the exact location of each piece you'll need."

August 10, 2022 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Paris at Night

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From NASA:

Around midnight local time on April 8, 2015, astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Paris, often referred to as the "City of Light."  

The pattern of the street grid dominates at night, providing a completely different set of visual features from those visible during the day.

For instance, the winding Seine River is a main visual cue by day, but here the thin black line of the river is hard to detect until you focus on the strong meanders and the street lights on both banks.

The brightest boulevard in the dense network of streets is the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the historical axis of the city, as designed in the 17th century.

Every year on Bastille Day (July 14), the largest military parade in Europe processes down the Champs Élysées, reviewed by the President of the Republic.

This grand avenue joins the royal Palace of the Tuileries — whose gardens appear as a dark rectangle on the river — to the star-like meeting place of eleven major boulevards at the Arc de Triomphe.

The many forested parks of Paris stand out as black polygons — such as the Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes.

Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports are distinguished by their very bright lights next to the dark areas of runways and surrounding open land.

Paris's great ring road, the Boulevard Périphérique, encloses the city center.

Astronaut photograph ISS043-E-93480 was acquired on April 8, 2015, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 400 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center.

August 10, 2022 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

World's first 3D-printed sewing machine

Gaze in wonder.

I happened on this wonderful creation on the Prepared, where Lee Wilkins wrote:

Whenever I show someone how to use a sewing machine, I share this gif that beautifully illustrates the interaction between the needle and bobbin.

I love the sewing machine mechanism, especially as explained by this episode of The Secret Life Of Machines as a human-powered sewing machine.

It's so hypnotic to see the bobbin mechanism work properly, but also no surprise when it doesn't, which is why I’m so impressed by this 3D printed sewing machine that has all the mechanical elements in clear view, including a uniquely-shaped bobbin.

I also like this DIY embroidery machine, which is mounted on a 3D printed gantry system.

August 10, 2022 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

World's most expensive nail clipper

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What's with nail clippers becoming a thing here all of a sudden?

From the Klhip website:

Using surgical-grade stainless steel,

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this is the first nail clipper ever produced

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using metal-injection molding.

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$79.95.

August 10, 2022 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 9, 2022

Search cat or dog on Google...

Fair warning: there goes the day.

[via Chris Glass, Zana, and Lucy Alice]

August 9, 2022 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

SEAT BELTS SAVE LIVES

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Photoshoot of car crash survivors for a New Zealand road safety campaign to demonstrate how seat belts saved their lives.

August 9, 2022 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The only car ever to go supersonic

100,000 hp.

It's been 25 years.

Perfect for Elon Musk: make it self-driving and erase all doubt.

August 9, 2022 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

AI Photo Restoration

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From engadget:

Free AI tool restores old photos by creating slightly new loved ones

It works wonderfully, but there's a risk of a 'slight change of identity.'

You can find AI that creates new images, but what if you want to fix an old family photo?

You might have a no-charge option. 

Louis Bouchard and PetaPixel have drawn attention to a free tool recently developed by Tencent researchers, GFP-GAN (Generative Facial Prior-Generative Adversarial Network), that can restore damaged and low-resolution portraits.

The technology merges info from two AI models to fill in a photo's missing details with realistic detail in a few seconds, all the while maintaining high accuracy and quality.

Conventional methods fine-tune an existing AI model to restore images by gauging differences between the artificial and real photos.

That frequently leads to low-quality results, the scientists said.

The new approach uses a pre-trained version of an existing model (NVIDIA's StyleGAN-2) to inform the team's own model at multiple stages during the image generation process.

The technique aims to preserve the "identity" of people in a photo, with a particular focus on facial features like eyes and mouths.

You can try a demo of GFP-GAN for free.

The creators have also posted their code to let anyone implement the restoration tech in their own projects.

This project is still bound by the limitations of current AI.

While it's surprisingly accurate, it's making educated guesses about missing content.

The researchers warned that you might see a "slight change of identity" and a lower resolution than you might like.

In other words, don't rely on this to print a poster-sized photo of your grandparents.

All the same, the work here is promising — it hints at a future where you can easily rescue images that would otherwise be lost to the ravages of time.

More?

As always, your wish (below)

is my demand.

[via Tam D, my Crack Bay Area Correspondent©®]

August 9, 2022 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

pixy — Snap Selfie Drone

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From the Verge:

More than five years after it released Spectacles, Snap is back with a second hardware product. And this time it flies.

Yes, Snap made a drone.

Called pixy, the small yellow puck takes off from your hand, follows you around, and captures video that can be sent back to Snapchat.

It's Snap's attempt at making a drone that's friendlier and more approachable than other products on the market — and it may hint at the more advanced, AR-powered future Snap is building toward.

pixy became available online for $230 in the U.S. and France in late April.

Unlike most existing drones, it's small and light enough to fit in a pant pocket.

There isn't a controller: it takes off from and lands on an outstretched palm, and it uses six pre-programmed flight patterns that are accessible through a dial on the top of the device.

Why on earth would Snap, which primarily operates an ephemeral messaging app, make a selfie drone?

It's the first question I posed to CEO Evan Spiegel.

"Because we're a camera company," he told me.

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Snap has brandished that tagline since 2016 when the company changed its name from Snapchat to Snap and released its first pair of Spectacles.

"Our mission is to empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together. And this product does exactly that."

Spiegel has been interested in drones for years, dating back to at least 2016, when Snap started tinkering with how the devices could fit into its camera company strategy.

He almost acquired a Chinese drone company called Zero Zero Robotics around then, but the timing was off.

With Facebook aggressively copying its staple Stories feature, investors were doubting Snap's growth prospects as a newly public stock, and the deal ultimately fell apart over price.

The company still isn't consistently profitable, but Snapchat is now growing much faster than Facebook and already has more users than Twitter.

So far, drones haven't caught on beyond professional use cases and early adopters.

Most are heavy, loud, and expensive.

Some even require a permit.

A key focus for pixy was making it approachable with friendly-sounding propellers and a design that could fit into your pocket.

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"We finally got to a place where we were like, 'Wow, this is super fun. I guess we should probably release it,'" said Spiegel.

The pixy weighs just 101 grams with its swappable battery inserted.

Snap says a full charge will get you five to eight flights, which can range from roughly 10 to 20 seconds — a short flight even by tiny drone standards.

Additional batteries cost $20, and Snap sells a portable dual-battery charger for $50.

The pixy's 12MP sensor shoots up to 100 videos or 1,000 photos, all of which are stored locally on a 16GB drive.

The footage is synced wirelessly to the Memories section of Snapchat, edited there (it doesn't capture audio, so Snap lets you use songs it has licensed from music labels), and is then shareable directly in the app or elsewhere.

Snap has included a few pixy-specific AR effects to choose from, and I'd expect more to be added over time from the company and its creators.

An auto-crop feature can quickly turn the horizontal footage into Snap's staple vertical orientation, centered on the main subject.

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The video quality isn't amazing — it's not something you're going to want to display on a large screen — but it's good enough for viewing on a phone.

Thanks to a bottom-facing camera, the pixy's main trick is taking off from and landing in your hand.

Its front-facing camera needs to be lined up roughly at eye level as it takes off, and then it automatically tracks you as you move around. When you're ready to end the flight, simply outstretch your hand to the pixy, and it returns to your palm.

During both outdoor and indoor tests, I found this to be the most impressive part of using the drone; it just works and induces a rare "wow" moment the first time it happens.

Spiegel sees the pixy as a new way of capturing moments centered on people, which is a more narrow view than how drones have been traditionally positioned.

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"I think pixy opens up a whole new space here because your smartphone can't fly," he says. "You can get a totally new and different perspective. And so in that way, I think pixy is meaningfully better than what your smartphone can create."

The pixy stands apart from competing small drones with its simplicity.

DJI has for years been building small drones that can take off from your hand and automatically follow you around; those drones feature longer battery life and higher-quality video, too.

But these competing models are also more expensive and much more complicated to use.

And they're still much larger than the pocketable pixy.

There are some other limitations to the pixy's design.

Since the device is so light, you won't want to use it in windy conditions. Snap also advises against using it over water and other shiny, reflective surfaces that could confuse its bottom camera that automates flying.

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Snap isn't planning to make a lot of money from the pixy.

"The goal is really just to get it in peoples' hands and have them play around with it," according to Spiegel. "And maybe we would make more with version two if people love the original product." If anything, Snap may have set its own expectations for version one too low, he says. "Honestly, in hindsight, we probably should have made more. And now it's just difficult with all the supply chain stuff going on. We just didn't expect it to be this good."

Going into our conversation, I had a theory that, like the first version of Snap's Spectacles, pixy is a Trojan horse for a bigger idea.

Drones are already being used to create 3D maps, which would be useful for building more realistic Lenses that are grounded in the real world.

Snap recently bought a French startup called NextMind that makes a headband for controlling computers with your thoughts.

Is a future coming in which I'm wearing AR Spectacles and controlling a paired pixy with my mind?

When I ask Spiegel about all this, he chuckles, indicating that is the most I'm getting from him on the record.

The pixy is just a toy, at least for now.

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I am so out of it: I only learned of the existence of the pixy last week, yet it's been out and for sale since April.

Past time to throw my Crack Bleeding Edge Tech Team©® overboard and start fresh, what?

Stay tuned for my pixy videos, which will appear on my YouTube channel just as soon as I get my hands on one of these puppies.

August 9, 2022 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 8, 2022

The Modern Invention of White Marble

From Aeon

For most people today, ancient Greek sculpture brings to mind images of pearly white human figures.

Yet, ever since the first excavations of Pompeii in the 17th century, archaeologists have known that these sculptures were painted in vivid colors.

This short film from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York discusses why the visual code of white antique marble persists.

If you happen to be in Gotham you could do worse than play hooky and go to see the Met's current show, "Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color," up through March 26, 2023.

Tell them I sent you and they'll laugh in your face.

August 8, 2022 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How to use RayBan Stories glasses without getting arrested

[Yours truly demonstrating what people see when you wear these glasses in their native form and record video.]

Long story short: be like me and put a small piece of matte black tape over the bright white LED at the upper right hand corner of the frame that flashes when you take a photo or stays on while you record a video.

[I demonstrate how to go dark while recording video using RayBan Stories glasses.]

As best I can tell, not a single person I've encountered while out and about wearing RayBan Stories glasses and using them to make videos has realized they aren't regular frames.

Financial Review columnist John Davidson's advice on this topic appeared in his July 25, 2022 column, from which excerpts appear below.

Ray-Ban Stories are electronic glasses with a microphone, speakers, and two cameras built-in that you connect to your phone via Bluetooth to help you break your addiction to your phone's screen and stay engaged with the world.

We'd been hoping Meta's recent upgrade would add simple commands such as "Hey Facebook, what's the weather?" or "Hey Facebook, what's the time?," to help deliver on the promise of a screen-free life.

Alas, no.

Stories are much less helpful than they might be, meaning you're still going to need to look at your phone incessantly.

The Facebook voice assistant supports only commands such as "How much battery is left?" and "Take a photo" or "Take a Video."

People might become suspicious and pay attention to the itsy-bitsy LED that comes on at the front of the Ray-Bans whenever you're using the cameras.

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[The tiny white dot that comes on when photograph or video people should be easy to paint in.]

I'd suggest you put a tiny dab of paint on that itsy-bitsy LED.

Why would anyone in their right mind use paint when removable tape does the job just as well, as any fool who watches my Academy Award-Nominated videos up top can plainly see.

It seems obvious now in retrospect but I recall spending well over an hour at Sunglass Hut looking at all the styles and lens colors of these glasses before deciding to go with clear lenses as opposed to tinted because it struck me wearing sunglasses indoors would automatically bring unwanted attention.

One more thing: while I was making my demonstration videos I had numerous flubs, a couple of which I posted on my YouTube channel as outtakes.

August 8, 2022 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Taking the art of cutting paper to the next level

August 8, 2022 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bee Bricks

Zzz

The council in Brighton, U.K. has introduced bee bricks to support habitats for bees in all new buildings over five meters high.

More here.

Available in a variety of colors and styles here.

August 8, 2022 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

GIANT BINDER CLIP

ALL CAPS IN BOLD BECAUSE IT'S really BIG!

The business end is 2.25" wide and it's 7.75" long and weighs over a quarter of a pound (4.7 oz) and yes it can serve as a weapon in extremis.

It opens up — with a serious amount of effort, that spring is STRONG — to 1.75" wide and holds up to 250 sheets of paper.

Made in Japan.

I bought two and use them for any number of things around the house.

You can too!

$18.53 yes that's not a typo it hurts to go big.

August 8, 2022 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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