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Fun in the Digital Sun

Who needs to go outdoors when you have the internet? Put on some Oculus Rift shades, settle in, and enjoy this newsletter. NOTE: This newsletter is neither virtual reality-enabled nor about the sun in any particular way. But it feels very fun!

Awesome Things

futurist depictions

Our Freakish Cyborg Future Looks Like a Dali Painting

Doesn't that gif just make you want to click on it? Do it! There's 6 great images of ebbing, flowing, bizarre Dali-esque cyborg bodies here. Fantastic artwork.

Here's this, just because I feel like you need to see it.

awesome interactive web game

Videogame generates worlds based on your webcam

This is super cool. I LOVE interactive artwork that generates something from user input. Use your webcam and this game will perceive depth from its image, creating a surreal landscape made of your face, your cat, or whatever else you decide to point your camera at. Here's a direct link in case you don't care about the article.


Lexus Hoverboard gets off the ground

Oh, wow. Thanks for catching up, science. (I'm kidding. I love you, science. Never change.) Unfortunately, you can't actually purchase this hoverboard. Still, it's neat to see the skateboarders try to figure out how exactly they should interact with this newfangled technology.

It's Dangerous To Go Alone,
Take This

turn data into images with beamp

I made a tool! If you know how to use Node.js, this one is relevant to you. (If you don't know how to use Node.js, the instructions are pretty straightforward.) This script can take any data file and append a BMP image header to it, enabling you to view that file in an image viewer or editor and see what the data looks like according to the BMP file format. Check out the repository for more examples and details.

(I had said I was going to do a blog post on this last week, but that post is turning out to be heftier than I thought. Still coming.)

Science and Technology

internet laser drone

Facebook Is About to Test Its Enormous Solar-Powered Drone

Did you ever wonder if Facebook was actually a megacorp bent on world domination (of some sort or another)? These big companies are objectively terrifying to single-brain organisms like myself, but the stuff they're doing is incredible.

future social

Mark Zuckerberg says virtual reality is the obvious next step for Facebook

Summary: Facebook is pouring tons of money into stuff like drones, laser beam-powered internet, and particularly virtual reality. Mark Zuckerberg sees it as the next step in content platforms. I do, too. I just sure as hell hope that someone designs an internet for VR before Facebook or Google or Microsoft design a proprietary VR platform.


Ready to Wearable: How to Select and Use Sensors

This is a really cool DIY article going over the different types of sensors you can use with a microcontroller or board like Arduino or Raspberry Pi. This really got me thinking about cool ways to create some gadget-laced wearables, like a jacket that lights up to the beats of music.

neural imaging techniques

Imaging tool lets scientists look inside brain at nanoscale resolution

This just looks pretty cool. New imaging technology lets us look at brains really, really close up.


if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear

Global spy system ECHELON confirmed at last – by leaked Snowden files

A fascinating look into the global spy surveillance system that the UK built decades ago, in collusion with other governments. The most interesting thing is just what the UK government does to those who poke its surveillance bear.

understanding security

Understanding Encryption: Here's The Key

If you've always wondered what encryption is, why it matters, and whether the government can crack it, this is a great overview.

hiding in plain site

Russians hackers used Twitter, photos to reach U.S. computers: report

This is neat. Russian hackers use all kinds of crazy shifting ciphers in Twitter images to signal information exchanges. Worth a quick skim.


social satire

This guy created a hilarious, dystopian Facebook

This is an interactive web art piece depicting a satirical dystopian Facebook in which Mark Zuckerberg has run off with all the data, and Facebook is now running “data drives” to get data back. Chipotle messages you on the site and begs you to patronize it.

drone etiquette

Don't Be a Drone Jerk

Drone etiquette 101. I never thought it would be that weird to use a drone in a park until I read this.


Hitchhiking robot on cross-country trip in US meets its demise on streets of Philadelphia

Did you hear about this robot hitchhiking across the US and having a great time with its buddies? Yeah, wellll, I have some bad news for you. It got destroyed. But wait! Emotional rollercoaster! There's a kickstarter to rebuild it! So much suspense! Oh wait, it was canceled by the creator... I don't know what's happening with Hitchbot, but I hope they rebuild him.

adorable robot buddies elicit our deepest darkest secrets

How robots mess with our minds

I was talking to Darby (hi Darby!) about this a few days ago! If a robot looks disarmingly cute enough, people tend to divulge their secrets to it. Oh man. What if this is a new field of sociology? Human-robot interaction? Actually, I think this is already a relatively new field of study, but what if it becomes really mainstream? What if people go to school for it?

For years, I've dreamed of making some sort of interactive text game, or a rudimentary chat bot, or something, that made me feel like it understood where I was coming from. Even if I knew it was an illusion, that illusion is powerful. Someday it might not be an illusion - or it might be functionally similar enough to the real thing (a therapist, perhaps) that it serves its purpose.

After all, who hasn't ever talked to a stuffed toy, a rubber duck, a picture, or an entity they conjured in their mind? Imagine if a robot (or a chat interface) was thoughtful enough to make us feel like we're being heard and reflect. They could become tools for therapy, self-discovery, or meditation. A new arena for human interpretation and expression!