Kickstarting "The Inverter," a backwards watch with a beautiful, exposed movement

    The Inverter is a kickstarted, sub-$500, 34mm automatic mechanical watch built around Citizen's Miyota Calibre 9000 movement, augmented with a custom module that makes the watch run backwards, so that it can be mounted so that the movement is exposed (beneath a sapphire crystal), with the back of the watch becoming its "face." Read the rest

    Buried in Uber's IPO, an aggressive plan to destroy all public transit

    Uber is a wildly unprofitable company with no conceivable path to profitability in any universe, under any circumstances, but the company's founders and early investors (having already taken massive write-downs on their investments) are hoping to get at least some of their money back through the time-honored "greater fool" methodology. Specifically, they're floating the company on the stock market and hoping that naive investors hoping to wring above-inflation gains out of their 401(k)s and avoid being made into dog-food in their old age (we're waaaaay past the era in which impoverished old people get to eat dog-food) take their shares off their hands. Read the rest

    The best political commentary of the Australian election cycle: "Honest Government Adverts"

    Juice Media's Honest Government Adverts are some of the best, most biting political satire being produced today -- they're so good at afflicting the comfortable that Australia basically banned their style of humour -- and now, on the eve of (yet another) critical Australian election, they've produced a "season finale" that recaps the parade of horrors that a succession of bumbling, oligarchic, racist, climate-denying, torturing, confiscatory, planet-destroying Australian governments have bequeathed to the nation and the world. I laughed, I cried, I laughed again. Now I'm crying. Read the rest

    Test your understanding of evolutionary psychology with this rigorous quiz

    Evolutionary psychology is the idea that we can explain peoples' behaviors by making reference to the imagined lives of early hominids and also by finding animals whose behavior explains why it's not tenured professors' fault that they tried to have sex with their undergrads. Read the rest

    Why "collapse" (not "rot") is the way to think about software problems

    For decades, programmers have talked about the tendency of software to become less reliable over time as "rot," but Konrad Hinsen makes a compelling case that the right metaphor is "collapse," because the reason software degrades is that the ground underneath it (hardware, operating systems, libraries, programming languages) has shifted, like the earth moving under your house. Read the rest

    Berlin! Catch me tonight at Otherland books at 8PM (Houston, here I come!)

    I'm coming to Berlin's Otherland books tonight at 8PM for a talk about my latest, Radicalized and the German edition of the first novella from it, Wie man einen Toaster überlistet ("How to Outsmart a Toaster," AKA "Unauthorized Bread"). Read the rest

    Human Rights Watch reverse-engineered the app that the Chinese state uses to spy on people in Xinjiang

    China's Xinjiang province is home to the country's Uyghur ethnic minority and other people of Turkic Muslim descent; it has become a living laboratory for next-generation, electronically mediated totalitarianism; up to 1,000,000 people have been sent to concentration/torture camps in the region, and targets for rendition ot these camps come via compulsory mobile apps that spy on residents in every conceivable way (naturally, war criminal Eric "Blackwater" Prince, brother of billionaire heiress Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is into this stuff up to his eyeballs, as are other American collaborators). Read the rest

    Google will now delete your account activity on a rolling basis

    Google has augmented its preferences for personal data retention; in addition to choosing to have all your data stored until you delete it, or having no data stored (thus depriving you of the benefits of personalization), the company has a new intermediate option: a rolling deletion program, which lets you specify that any data older than either 3 or 12 months should be autodeleted. That way, if you suffer a breach (or if authorities demand your data from Google), only your recent activity will be exposed. Read the rest

    The 2019 Locus Award nominees: your guide to the best sf/f of 2018

    Locus Magazine has published its annual Locus Award finalists, a shortlist of the best science fiction and fantasy of the past calendar year. I rely on this list to find the books I've overlooked (so. many. books.). This year's looks like a bumper crop. Read the rest

    Charter's new way to be terrible: no more prorated cancellations

    Charter isn't America's most hated company, but that's only because Comcast is so next-level terrible that they distort the leaderboard; nevertheless, Charter tries hard! Whether it's slashing billions from network outlays while raising prices way ahead of inflation or lying so egregiously that they get kicked out of New York State, Charter is relentless in its pursuit of ways to be a shitty, shitty company. Read the rest

    danah boyd explains the connection between the epistemological crisis and the rise of far-right conspiratorial thinking

    Back in 2017, I started writing about the "epistemological crisis" ("we're not living through a crisis about what is true, we're living through a crisis about how we know whether something is true. We're not disagreeing about facts, we're disagreeing about epistemology"); danah boyd picked up on that theme later that year, making the connection between "media literacy" education and the crisis ("If we’re not careful, 'media literacy' and 'critical thinking' will simply be deployed as an assertion of authority over epistemology"). Read the rest

    "A Fire Story": a moving, beautiful memoir of the Calistoga wildfire in comics form

    In 2017, cartoonist Brian Fies lost his northern California home in the Calistoga wildfires; in the days after, working with the cheap art supplies he was able to get from a surviving big box store, he drew A Fire Story, a strip about how he and his wife barely managed to escape their home ahead of the blaze, and about life after everything you own (and everything your neighbors own) is reduced to ash and slag. The strip went viral, and in the months after, Fies adapted it into a deeply moving, beautiful book. Read the rest

    "Steering With the Windshield Wipers": why nothing we're doing to fix Big Tech is working

    My latest Locus column is "Steering with the Windshield Wipers," and it ties together the growth of Big Tech with the dismantling of antitrust law (which came about thanks to Robert Bork's bizarre alternate history of antitrust, a theory so ridiculous that it never would have gained traction except that it promised to make rich people a lot richer). Read the rest

    The glorious glitch aesthetic of a machine learning system's attempt to remove cars from a video

    Software developer Chris Harris is experimenting with machine learning to remove cars from video footage; while the software isn't quite seamless, the results are pure, glorious glitch aesthetic. Read the rest

    Facebook hands hundreds of contractors in India access to its users' private messages and private Instagram posts in order to help train an AI

    Facebook gave "as many as" 260 contractors at Wipro, Ltd in Hyderabad, India access to users' private messages and private Instagram posts so that the contractors could label them prior to their inclusion in an AI training-data set. Read the rest

    People with diabetes are scouring the internet for a discontinued insulin pump that can be reprogrammed as an "artificial pancreas"

    Since 2014, open source hackers have been perfecting the OpenAPS, an "open artificial pancreas" made by modifying the firmware of discontinued Medtronic insulin pumps, which were discontinued due to the very security flaw that makes them user modifiable (that flaw also leaves them vulnerable to malicious modifications). Read the rest

    How the diverse internet became a monoculture

    I appeared on this week's Canadaland podcast (MP3) with Jesse Brown to talk about the promise of the internet 20 years ago, when it seemed that we were headed for an open, diverse internet with decentralized power and control, and how we ended up with an internet composed of five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four. Jesse has been covering this for more than a decade (I was a columnist on his CBC podcast Search Engine, back in the 2000s) and has launched a successful independent internet business with Canadaland, but as he says, the monopolistic gentrification of the internet is heading for podcasting like a meteor. Read the rest

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