CON.CA - RSS Feed http://con.ca/ interesting en-us CON.CA (C) There Are Plastic Islands in the Pacific Ocean You Can Walk On #Environment http://con.ca/view/news/10687 http://con.ca/view/news/10687 The New York Times' Charles J. Moore just returned from a six-week trip from The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. He reports that the amount of plastic floating in the area has greatly increased to the point where there are actual plastic islands you can walk on.

The deleterious consequences of humanity’s “plastic footprint” are many, some known and some yet to be discovered. We know that plastics biodegrade exceptionally slowly, breaking into tiny fragments in a centuries-long process. We know that plastic debris entangles and slowly kills millions of sea creatures; that hundreds of species mistake plastics for their natural food, ingesting toxicants that cause liver and stomach abnormalities in fish and birds, often choking them to death. We know that one of the main bait fish in the ocean, the lantern fish, eats copious quantities of plastic fragments, threatening their future as a nutritious food source to the tuna, salmon, and other pelagic fish we consume, adding to the increasing amount of synthetic chemicals unknown before 1950 that we now carry in our bodies.

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Art Created Using CSS #Art http://con.ca/view/news/10686 http://con.ca/view/news/10686  Art Created Using CSS

On the A Single Div website, Lynn Fisher showcases beautiful drawings and iconography done entirely in CSS.

A CSS drawing experiment to see what's possible with a single div.

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We Could Be Living in a Two Dimensional Holographic Universe #Science http://con.ca/view/news/10688 http://con.ca/view/news/10688 In order to explain the "incongruities between Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and some of Max Planck's discoveries about the nature of matter," scientists are testing out the possibility that we might be living in a "Matrix-style holographic illusion" where everything in the universe is a two-dimensional hologram.

In other words, space, and the universe, might not be entirely definite—locations of things might not be completely definite and might be transmitted in quantum bits that vary ever so slightly. He likens it to the idea of "pixels" in a photo. From afar, you see one picture, but if you zoom in far enough, you see tiny points that make up the larger whole.

Space, and everything that exists, might be the same, he theorizes. In other words, if you zoom in far enough on matter, on space, to a far-beyond subatomic level, you might see that existence is similarly blurry, and always moving slightly.

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The Spiders That Live on Your Face #Animals http://con.ca/view/news/10690 http://con.ca/view/news/10690 On the North Carolina State University website, Michelle Trautwein, an adjunct assistant professor of entomology, looks at all the creatures living on your body right now. In particular, besides microbes, fungi and viruses, there are also other animals, some closely related to the spider.

Right now, in the general vicinity of your nose, there are at least two species of microscopic mites living in your pores. You would expect scientists to know quite a lot about these animals (given that we share our faces with them), but we don’t.

Here is what we do know: Demodex mites are microscopic arachnids (relatives of spiders and ticks) that live in and on the skin of mammals – including humans. They have been found on every mammal species where we’ve looked for them, except the platypus and their odd egg-laying relatives.

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Telepathy Now Possible #Science http://con.ca/view/news/10689 http://con.ca/view/news/10689 Although the system is not perfect, scientists have been able to allow two humans to exchange messages telepathically. The article warns of the "ethical and sociological questions" that future brain-to-brain transmission will cause.

Four participants were recruited, ages 28 to 50, for the study. First, researchers used EEG to translate greetings, such as hola and ciao, into code. This was sent from a participant in Thiruvananthapuram, India to Strasbourg, France. There, a computer interface translated the message from code to words and implanted them into the receiver’s brain through light electrical stimulation. Participants didn’t report feeling anything in the process, and only saw flickers of light in their peripheral vision—but they did hear the message. Researchers then conducted a similar experiment in which thoughts were successfully transmitted from two participants, one in Spain and one in France.

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Alphaclamps #Art http://con.ca/view/news/10680 http://con.ca/view/news/10680 Alphaclamps

On this Instructables how-to, artist Robb Godshaw shows how he has created the Alphaclamps, a series of C-clamp-like clamps (say that three times), out of every other letter in the alphabet. At least now we know why there isn't a market for L-clamps.

This set of Alphaclamps is an exploration of tools and their form. From the I-beam to the C-clamp, the latin letterforms seem to have a chicken-egg relationship with the letter-shaped tools that bear their name. Is the C the basis for design, or simply a descriptor of the form? Curious about how the other letters would work as tools, I set out to explore the mechanical utility of the forsaken letters of our alphabet.

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All the Weapons of War Being Used in Ferguson #Crime http://con.ca/view/news/10678 http://con.ca/view/news/10678 On The Nation, former Marine Lyle Jeremy Rubin looks at all the weapons of war being used by the police in Ferguson. Rubin argues that the police must have "a surplus of toys to play with, and a powerless demographic to experiment on."

What we’re seeing here is a gaggle of cops wearing more elite killing gear than your average squad leader leading a foot patrol through the most hostile sands or hills of Afghanistan. They are equipped with Kevlar helmets, assault-friendly gas masks, combat gloves and knee pads (all four of them), woodland Marine Pattern utility trousers, tactical body armor vests, about 120 to 180 rounds for each shooter, semiautomatic pistols attached to their thighs, disposable handcuff restraints hanging from their vests, close-quarter-battle receivers for their M4 carbine rifles and Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights. In other words, they’re itching for a fight. A big one. It’s a well-known horror that the US military greets foreign peoples in this fashion as our politicians preach freedom, democracy and peace. It’s an abomination that the police greet black communities in the States with the same trigger-happy posture. Especially on the occasion of an unarmed teen’s death by cop.

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Instagram Releases Hyperlapse Video for iPhone #Technology http://con.ca/view/news/10684 http://con.ca/view/news/10684

Hyperlapse, a system that turns shaky timelapses into smooth playing videos, is now an app released by the Instagram team. It is currently only available for iPhone, but there is talk of an Android release.

[...] Instagram is lifting the veil on Hyperlapse, one of the company’s first apps outside of Instagram itself. Using clever algorithm processing, the app makes it easy to use your phone to create tracking shots and fast, time-lapse videos that look as if they’re shot by Scorsese or Michael Mann. What was once only possible with a Steadicam or a $15,000 tracking rig is now possible on your iPhone, for free. (Instagram hopes to develop an Android version soon, but that will require changes to the camera and gyroscope APIs on Android phones.) And that’s all thanks to some clever engineering and an elegantly pared-down interaction design. [...]

The original video that was posted with the Wired article suddenly disappeared and was replaced by the above commercial. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the technology involved.

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Mozilla's $33 Smartphone #Telephone http://con.ca/view/news/10685 http://con.ca/view/news/10685 Mozilla's $33 Smartphone

Targeting first-time smartphone buyers in India, the Intex Cloud FX is a 1 gigahertz device, capable of handling two SIM cards and expandable memory up to four gigabytes. The system runs on HTML5.

WSJD: How did Mozilla manage to get the price down so low for this smartphone?
Hsu: Using HTML5 enables the operating system to be very lean and it requires less memory consumption. That’s why if you run another operating system, to get this kind of an experience you will require more hardware support. The OS consumes most of the memory in a smartphone. That’s why we lowered the need of the specifications, so the handset prices will be lower.

Blog announcement here. According to the CBC, it's actually $36 CAD.

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The Please Call Key #Products http://con.ca/view/news/10673 http://con.ca/view/news/10673 The Please Call Key

The beautiful Please Call Key tags along with your regular keys. When lost, it provides an easy way for someone to tell you if they have been found.

Most people will go a little out of their way to help return a lost set of keys. Make it easy on anyone who comes across yours with a personalized Please Call Key.

There is also this service.

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ICREACH: the NSA's Google-Like Search Engine #Privacy http://con.ca/view/news/10683 http://con.ca/view/news/10683 According to classified documents obtained by The Intercept, the NSA has a Google-like search engine with which it allows "nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies" to access "more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats" of both foreign and American citizens.

In a statement to The Intercept, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the system shares data that is swept up by programs authorized under Executive Order 12333, a controversial Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that monitor communications overseas. The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal Congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks. But the broad scale of 12333 surveillance means that some Americans’ communications get caught in the dragnet as they transit international cables or satellites—and documents contained in the Snowden archive indicate that ICREACH taps into some of that data.

Legal experts told The Intercept they were shocked to learn about the scale of the ICREACH system and are concerned that law enforcement authorities might use it for domestic investigations that are not related to terrorism.

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Kill-Switch on Smartphones Signed into Law #Telephone http://con.ca/view/news/10682 http://con.ca/view/news/10682 A measure requiring smartphone manufactures to include a "kill-switch" was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. The kill-switch would "render a smartphone useless after it was stolen" in an attempt tp deter telephone theft.

In San Francisco, 2,400 cellphones were stolen last year, up 23 percent from 2012, according to the San Francisco police. Phone thefts also grew in New York and Washington last year. Overall, about 3.1 million devices were stolen in the United States in 2013, nearly double the 1.6 million that were stolen in 2012, according to Consumer Reports.

However, some data suggests that kill-switch technology is already helping deter smartphone theft. Apple’s iPhone has offered kill switch technology since September. In June, law enforcement statistics for several major cities saw a significant dip in thefts of Apple devices after Apple’s introduction of the antitheft feature. For example, comparing data in the six months before and after Apple released its anti-theft feature, police said iPhone robberies in San Francisco dropped 38 percent.

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The Ways You Make Your Life Harder #Life http://con.ca/view/news/10681 http://con.ca/view/news/10681 On Thought Catalog, Tim Hoch explains the 10 ways you're making your life harder than it has to be.

1. You ascribe intent.

Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally. They don’t ascribe intent to the unintentional actions of others.

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Abiogenesis #Video http://con.ca/view/news/10679 http://con.ca/view/news/10679

Directed by New Zealand-based artist Richard Mans, this short film titled Abiogenesis follows a strange mechanical creature after it crash lands on an alien planet and the steps it undergoes in order to bring it to life.

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Omote: Real-Time Face Tracking and Projection Mapping #Technology http://con.ca/view/news/10675 http://con.ca/view/news/10675

Omote, a system capable of real-time face tracking and projection mapping, can follow a face and on-the-spot project an image on it, whether an effect or just makeup. The end result is remarkably realistic.

Project Omote is a collaboration between Japanese projection mapping specialist Nobumichi Asai, makeup artist Hiroto Kuwahara and French digital image engineer Paul Lacroix.

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