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New Yorkers & Angelenos absolutely losing their sh*t over a bicoastal video hook-up in 1980

It’s obscene how we take technology for granted. The Internet is the greatest communication tool since the written word, and what do I do with it? I (expertly) evaluate dick jokes for wage labor, and look at videos of cats soothing babies to alleviate my Seasonal Affective Disorder. We’ve not always been so cynical though.

Artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created an installation called “Hole in Space” in 1980. Utilizing cutting edge satellite technology, life-sized audio-visual transmissions were displayed in real-time between New York’s Lincoln Center and an open air shopping mall in Century City, Los Angeles. Not only was the installation setup utilizing technology few had ever seen (much less used), no explanation was given for what was transpiring and no sponsors or artists were credited—it was sort of a huge, impromptu guerrilla video-chat.

Unlike say, a Google Hangout or Skype chat, participants in the piece (who were completely random passers-by), had no “video reflection” of themselves—they couldn’t see their own transmission as the other line did, because there was no extra window mirroring them. This made for a completely organic, unselfconscious moment of communication. The piece ran in two hour increments, for three days (November 11, 13 and 14) and as news of the public-space, bicoastal party line spread, the crowds grew.

The video below is taken from those impromptu interactions between New York and LA, and it’s absolutely amazing. Viewers/communicators are so shocked and delighted by such a seamless connectivity across the country—it’s an incredibly moving thing to witness. I can’t actually think of a time in my entire adult life where I’ve been as surprised or affected by technology as these people were—much less in public.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Check out ‘The Internet Show,’ an hour-long PBS special from the dawn of cyberspace
11:59 am



A YouTube user named Andy Baio has collected a number of explanatory videos dating from the very dawn of the commercialized World Wide Web (roughly 1995 for our purposes here) and created a killer playlist featuring them. Here’s Baio on the group of videos:

A while back, I started collecting old VHS tapes about the Internet from the early- to mid-1990s. While most of these are pretty corny, they also inadvertently captured pieces of the web that don’t exist anywhere else. The Internet Archive’s earliest snapshots were in late 1996, so anything before that is extremely sparse. The videos, silly as they are, still represent valuable documentation of the early web.I digitized the VHS tapes using a VCR connected to a MiniDV camera’s pass-through feature to my Macbook Pro. After I started putting these online, a couple more were sent to me, which I’ve included in the collection. And then my VCR broke.

As Baio writes of this delicious video, which dates from 1995, “Ripped from VHS, The Internet Show is an hour-long introduction to the mid-90s Internet from PBS Home Video, hosted by writers Gina Smith and John Levine.” It’s impossible for such videos not to appear hideously dated, but this program isn’t too horrible. Smith and Levine do a decent job walking newbies through the history of the Internet (ARPANET etc.) and some technical aspects no ordinary end user needs to know about (packet switching) as well as the nuts and bolts of writing an email and so forth. They bandy about a whole lot of scarcely familiar slang, such as “Internaut” (???) as well as well-nigh obsolete terminology like “cyberspace.” But you can hardly blame them for that. Pre-iPhone, pre-Facebook, pre-Google, pre-Netscape even, the Internet in 1995 seems awfully arcane to us today but in fact the essential components of the Internet were already present, including email, chat, newsgroups, spam, political activism, mapping programs, emoticons, and e-commerce—Smith and Levine touch on them all.

The general tone and the graphics and the clothing styles are purest mid-1990s, which is always amusing. One of the most surprising aspects of the video is that it’s shot not in Silicon Valley but in Texas, at Houston’s Rice University. At about 20 minutes in, there’s a nice Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, which is all the better for the hosts not calling attention to it.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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You can run, but you can’t hide: Watch this wild heat-vision police pursuit helicopter footage
02:25 pm


heat vision

Last Friday, in the Haller Lake neighborhood of Seattle, police identified a stolen SUV and went into pursuit. The driver and his passenger abandoned the vehicle and ran into Washelli Cemetery. The suspected criminals could be forgiven for thinking that they had the upper hand—the cemetery was pitch-dark and they had no shortage of places to hide. What they weren’t counting on were the high-tech contributions of the King County Sheriff’s Office Guardian-One helicopter unit armed with a heat-vision camera that turns any human being into a glowing white beacon in an expanse of black and gray.

“Looks like I got a couple of hiders…. if you go, third row in, I believe, and just like 20 feet in….,” says the helicopter pilot to the two policemen on the ground in pursuit of the alleged SUV thief hiding under a bush—within seconds they’ve got the first suspect in custody.

Two cops, at top, zero in on the perp
According to the Seattle PI website:

“A police dog performed a track after officers arrested the pair and found a gun among the gravestones, reports say. Officers determined the gun was stolen and seized it from the scene. Police booked an 18-year-old man into King County Jail for investigation of vehicle theft and eluding, and a 19-year-old man for obstruction and a warrant.”

If the video doesn’t change your expectations of getting caught the next time the police are after you, it might remind you of an especially cool video game or action movie, just because it looks so incredibly awesome.

via Vocativ

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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After dinner with theremin pioneer Clara Rockmore and Robert Moog

Theremins are associated with the Beach Boys and as a cheesy sound effect used for UFOs in sci-fi movies from decades ago, although actually in both cases the instrument in question is actually a Tannerin, otherwise known as an electrotheremin, which is far easier to manipulate to get the desired tones—that was developed by Paul Tanner, trombonist with the Glenn Miller Band.

But this is the theremin we’re talking about, and you can’t talk about the development or popularity of the theremin without discussing Clara Rockmore. A native of Lithuania, Rockmore (1911-1998) has been called the “premiere artiste of the electronic music medium” (look at the album cover below), “the greatest theremin virtuosa” and “probably the world’s first electronic music star.”

Rockmore’s given name was Clara Reisenberg—her sister was the well-regarded pianist Nadia Reisenberg. In pictures, Rockmore seems like (in younger pics) a magician’s assistant or (as she gets older) someone’s dowdy old aunt. But don’t let appearances fool you—Rockmore was pretty badass. Léon Theremin, inventor of the instrument that bore his name, wanted to marry her and proposed several times, but she turned him down cold and married an attorney instead. In 1940 she toured the U.S. with none other than Paul Robeson. She was 66 years old in 1977 when her first album, The Art of the Theremin, was released. (Actually, the album in question, pictured below, hardly has a discernable title—if anything it’s Theremin—but over time it has come to be called The Art of the Theremin.)

Nobody seems to know when the footage in the clip below was taken, but judging from the quality of the video, the haircuts, and the clothes, I’d say it was the mid- to late 1970s. In attendance are Clara Rockmore and her sister Nadia; Nadia’s son Bob Sherman, who introduces the scene; Dr. Robert Moog; and Dr. Thomas Ray, who is named as a scholar of electronic music. Moog, of course, produced The Art of the Theremin, which perhaps serves as another clue as to the timing of this clip.

I really dig the odd sculptural item in the middle of the table, with the dangling silver orbs. After a few minutes’ chitchat about the theremin, Rockmore treats us to a few minutes of “Hebrew Melody.”

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Incredible time-lapse footage of the Sun’s surface
10:25 am



This is quite mind-blowing: Time-lapse footage compiled from 17,000 images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory between October 14th to October 30th, 2014. The constructed footage is beautiful and awe-inspiring.

The footage also includes some spectacular solar flares and the largest seen sun spot in over twenty years AR 12192. Now here’s some more fun facts!

The Sun is a star but has no solid surface, instead it is a ball of gas consisting of 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium, which (incredibly) is all held together by its own gravity.

In terms of size, the Sun is 865,374 miles in diameter, and sits at the center of our solar system, and “makes up 99.8% of the mass of the entire solar system.” According to NASA:

If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be about the size of a nickel.

As the Sun is not a solid body “different parts of the sun rotate at different rates.”

At the equator, the sun spins once about every 25 Earth days, but at its poles the sun rotates once on its axis every 36 days.

The Sun’s temperature is estimated at 15 million degrees Celsius or 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

For best effect, watch this stunning time-lapse on full screen!

Thanks to Michael Gallagher!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Vinyl and stylus at 1000x magnification
01:46 pm



Here’s a neat image of a record and a stylus at 1000x magnification. It’s pretty incredible to see the etched grooves on the record up close and how they interact with the needle. I’ve always known how record players worked, but seeing the process magnified like this is way cool.

The photos come from Microscopic Images on Twitter.

Below, a record being played under a microscope:

Via Kottke

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Open Windows’ updates Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ for the Internet age

With his third movie Open Windows writer and director Nacho Vigalondo has attempted an audacious remodeling of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window for the social media generation. That he largely succeeds is in part down to his highly imaginative and visually arresting telling of his tale—all told via a laptop screen and a host of various pop-up windows—and a strong performance by Elijah Wood’s as geeky blogger Nick Chambers who finds his life hacked by the sick plans of a psycho troll from Hell.

This is not the first time Rear Window has received a generational make-over: Brian De Palma made his beautifully crafted homage Body Double in the 1980s, while more recently D. J. Caruso successfully updated the format with Disturbia in 2007. Now Spanish-born director Vigalondo has devised a clever way to bring Hitchcock’s concept bang up-to-date with Open Windows. His story follows a young blogger (Wood) who runs the fansite for actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). He soon finds out that he is part of a fake blog and the tool by which hacker-cum-stalker Chord (Neil Maskell) wants to have revenge on the actress.
Elijah Wood as Nick Chambers unwittingly(?) watching his fate unfold.
Ignacio “Nacho” Vigalondo was born in “a small town in the middle of Spain” in 1977. As a child he wrote stories and created his own comic books, but being raised in a poor family Nacho never considered the possibility of becoming a filmmaker until the mid 1990s when he was inspired by the low budget movies by directors such as Jim Jarmusch, John Waters (particularly Pink Flamingoes), Kevin Smith, and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. This eventually led to Vigalondo making his own films, in particular his Oscar-nominated short 7:35 de la Mañana (7.30 in the Morning). He then wrote and directed his first movie Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes in 2007, which he also acted in, and Extraterrestre (Extraterrestrial) in 2011. Both films played with audience expectations and used interesting plot devices, which Nacho has developed with Open Windows.
Nacho being interviewed online about ‘Open Windows.’
In an exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds Nacho Vigalondo discussed his Internet thriller Open Windows (how else? but) via Skype, where he started off by explaining his inspiration for the film.

Nacho Vigalondo: When I started writing the script I was given a good suggestion from my producers—they wanted me to make a movie that was intimate yet had a large presense on the screen, like in the film Closer by Mike Nichols. They wanted to rethink and remake Rear Window for today. Taking that advice to the limit, I offered them a device for making a movie that all happens on a computer screen all the time. So, they had this interesting suggestion and I gave them back this insane approach.
‘Open Windows’ vengeful game of cat and mouse is told via a laptop screen.
‘Open Windows’ must have been difficult to film, as you have multiple frames of different action all interacting with each other at the same time. How did you manage this?

Nacho Vigalondo:  The key was the script and then making a really detailed pre-production work. Basically we made a whole film like it was a Pixar movie. We made a whole presentation of the whole movie as we wanted to be really sure about the things we needed in front of the camera for every shot, for every scene. Not only the action inside the windows but also everything that was happening over the whole desktop. The key for us was to have everything preprepared and leaving nothing to improvisation. I love improvisation but in this case it was impossible, for every window is connected with the other ones. So, it was really mathematical in a sense and all about logistics.

Your film develops at a relentless pace, shifting and changing as it progresses, why is this?

Nacho Vigalondo: I didn’t want the movie to rest on the format. I wanted the movie to be crazy and surprising. That’s the reason every twenty minutes the movie changes its whole nature and becomes something else. That’s the reason the movie approaches science-fiction at the end, that’s the reason the movie becomes another genre in the third part. I wanted the movie to evolve all the time. I didn’t want to make a movie that just rests on what happens, I wanted it to be ambitious.

As you say, the film is a genre-bender, do you think this should be a prerequisite for directors when making movies?

Nacho Vigalondo:  Every movie demands something different from you, and since you are in love with the movies you want to make, you have to accept what the movie asks you to do. For example, my previous movie Extraterrestrial was a sci-fi film that turns into a comedy. In this case, Open Windows seems to be a psycho-thriller with erotic elements but the third act turns into a totally different genre. That is something I have to confess, the inspiration for the last hour of the movie is more literary than cinematic, because I love reading novels from the end of the 19th century-beginning of the twentieth century—novels by Conan Doyle, Gaston Leroux The Mystery of the Yellow Room—all those novels in which the characters have fake identities and they are playing with the other characters, and you also have the super heroes at that time. In those novels everything was in the transformation of identity—you can see that in the Fantômas films—for me that stuff, that lack of identity or using identity as a tool makes perfect sense in the social media environment.

Initially when I started writing the script, I didn’t know the movie was about fake identities, but at the end of the movie, the story took me to that place. 
Sasha Grey as Jill Goddard finds she has some unwanted admirers in ‘Open Windows.’
‘Open Windows’ raises questions about the ethics of the Internet, do you think the Internet is a force for good or bad?

Nacho Vigalondo:  The Internet is not something apart from us, it is not something that turns us into something different. The Internet is us. I don’t want to think of the Internet as something separate from us that is turning us into something different.

I think the Internet is like a speaker—it is one of us and we have the chance to speak out loud and we all can be heard. For example feminism is rightly more visible than ever before, yet at the same time misogyny is also more visible than ever.

But at the end of the day the Internet is all about us.

Though ‘Open Windows’ has received some negative reviews (mainly for the film’s shift in the third act), this reviewer found Nacho Vigalondo’s film a thrilling, highly inventive and enjoyable romp, which raised a few interesting questions about our relationship with the Internet from voyeurism, stalking and misogyny—though these are not always resolved. The acting may be iffy in places, but Elijah Wood shines and manages to keep the whole film together, which is some feat considering he was acting to camera throughout. The film also stars former porn actress Sasha Grey as the focus of Wood’s attention Jennifer Goddard and Neil Maskell, who previously starred in Ben Wheatley’s ‘Kill List,’ as the villainous Chord.

Open Windows’ is on release from today details here and is also available on VOD details here.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Cannabis Pharmacy: Vaporizers, science, weed and cancer

bOING bOING’s Xeni Jardin, as many of our readers probably know, is a close friend of Tara and mine, and she is also a breast cancer survivor. In a clip posted yesterday, she interviewed another of our friends, brilliant Michael Backes, author of the new book Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana (which has a foreword by none other than Andrew Weil, M.D.) about the latest in medical marijuana:

In this video my good friend Michael Backes, medical marijuana R&D expert and author of the book Cannabis Pharmacy (2014), shares some of his knowledge on the therapeutic power of pot. During my treatment for breast cancer, I learned how powerful medical marijuana truly can be in helping to alleviate some of the serious side effects of cancer treatment, including pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. I was not a pot smoker at the time of my diagnosis, and hadn’t used weed since I was a teen. Backes and my fellow cancer patients shared their experience and knowledge with me, and with the blessing of my oncologist, I found that it could be a very helpful form of relief.

In this video, Backes talks about how to use vaporizers, how to dose correctly for different forms of therapeutic relief, the difference between smoking, edibles, and vaporizers, CBD vs. THC, why the classifications of Indica and Sativa don’t matter as much as most people think, and why temperature is important when vaporizing weed.

Buy Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana at Amazon. It’s currently the #1 best-selling book in their Pain Medicine Pharmacology department. Check out the five star reviews.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Steve Jobs memorial dismantled for fear that it would turn Russia gay

This gets the eyeroll of the week award. Not as bad as when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that there were no gay people in Iran, but still, it’s up there. There was a six-foot-tall iPhone St. Petersburg, Russia, to honor Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple who passed away of pancreatic cancer in October 2011. The current CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, came out of the closet last week in the form of an editorial for Bloomberg Businessweek in which he wrote that he is “proud to be gay.”

That was it for the memorial. The touch-screen monument was designed to emit free Wi-Fi in temperatures as low as negative-30 as well as take photos via a built-in camera. After Cook’s announcement, Maksim Dolgopolov, director of West European Financial Union, the Russian company that originally commissioned the memorial, said that it was now “gay propaganda.” In addition the fact that Edward Snowden used Apple products to leak NSA documents in 2013 also played a role in the decision to remove the monument.

Hilariously, Dolgopolov said that he would reinstall the monument if it can be modified to instruct people to use products made by Apple’s competitors.


You can watch workers removing the big black slab here:

via Vocativ

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Talking Heads: Max Headroom interviews Sting and David Byrne

Max Headroom, now there was a weird-ass experiment. In hindsight the digital character is the very definition of a “curio.” It takes only a few seconds of watching Max to remember just how irritating he was, a stuttering, condescending, smarmy non-entity (literally) who is devoid of content (making him a natural pitchman for Coca Cola, which he was for several national advertising campaigns). Watching authentic artists like Sting and David Byrne interact with Max is a little painful. 

Before the narrative sci-fi show Max Headroom descended on U.S. shores in 1987, British audiences had been “enjoying” The Max Headroom Show, which featured interviews and music videos, throughout 1985 and 1986. In the first clip, Sting is promoting The Dream of the Blue Turtles as well as The Bride, his first movie after Dune, so it must be 1985. True to Max’s essential vapidity, they discuss shoes for most of the interview. The strategy of intersplicing unmotivated stock footage resembles nothing so much as a short film by Lelaina Pierce as recut by Michael Grates, to invoke the Winona Ryder and Ben Stiller characters from Reality Bites.

Of course Sting is inherently annoying—check out his shades—but it’s really not his fault in this case; David Byrne’s naturally distanced temperament works a lot better. Unfortunately, the clip, put up by the official Talking Heads YouTube account, gets badly out of sync after a couple of minutes, but given that it’s Max Headroom, it hardly matters. Byrne is there to promote True Stories, his only directorial feature, so it must be about a year later than the Sting interview.

The Max Headroom Show, not to be confused with the narrative show Max Headroom, was the original Short Attention Span Theater. As many have noted, it was the perfect plastic entertainment for the Reagan era, so much so that Garry Trudeau in Doonesbury turned the sitting president into an unfunny imitation called Ron Headrest.

In retrospect what’s interesting is that the technology was so evidently driving the car—the technical feat of an electronic Matt Frewer cackling at Sting is actually impressive, but the form was miles ahead of the content. Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which hit in the 1990s, evened the scales a bit more successfully.
Max Headroom interviews Sting:

Max’s interview with David Byrne after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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