June 11, 2019

Rio PMP300

PMP

The Rio PMP300 is one of the first portable consumer MP3 digital audio players, and the first commercially successful one. Produced by Diamond Multimedia, it was introduced in 1998 as the first in the ‘Rio’ series of digital audio players, and it shipped later that year. The Rio retailed for US $200 with the ability to hold around 30 minutes of music at a bitrate of 128 kbit/s.

It shipped with 32 MB of internal memory and has a SmartMedia slot, allowing users to add additional memory. It is powered by a single AA battery, which provides between 8 and 12 hours of playback time. Connection to a personal computer is through the computer’s parallel port, with a proprietary connector on the Rio’s edge. Continue reading

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June 4, 2019

Zero Rupee Note

Zero Rupee

zero-rupee note is a banknote imitation issued in India as a means of helping to fight systemic political corruption. The notes are ‘paid’ in protest by angry citizens to government functionaries who solicit bribes in return for services which are supposed to be free.

Zero rupee notes, which are made to resemble the regular 50 rupee banknote of India, are the creation of a non-governmental organization known as 5th Pillar which has, since their inception in 2007, distributed over 2.5 million notes as of 2014. The notes remain in current use and thousands of notes are distributed every month.

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May 30, 2019

Splinternet

Great Firewall

The splinternet (also referred to as ‘cyber-balkanization’) is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, commerce, politics, nationalism, religion, and interests. China erected a ‘Great Firewall’ to restrict the informational sources its citizens have access to. The U.S. and Australia, are discussing plans to create a similar systems to block child pornography or weapon-making instructions.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a researcher at the Cato Institute, first used the term in 2001 to describe his concept of ‘parallel Internets that would be run as distinct, private, and autonomous universes.’ Crews used the term in a positive sense, but more recent writers, like Scott Malcomson, a fellow in New America’s International Security program, use the term pejoratively, describing a threat to the internet’s status as a globe-spanning network of networks. Continue reading

May 19, 2019

Virgil Abloh

Off-White by Elizaveta Porodina

Virgil Abloh (b. 1980) is an American fashion designer, entrepreneur and DJ who has been the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection since March 2018. Apart from his work at Louis Vuitton, Abloh serves as the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013.

He entered the world of fashion with an internship at Fendi in 2009 alongside rapper Kanye West. The two then began an artistic collaboration that would launch Abloh’s career with the founding Off-White. Continue reading

May 14, 2019

Stand on Zanzibar

John Brunner

Stand on Zanzibar is a dystopian New Wave science fiction novel written by John Brunner and first published in 1968. The book won a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1969.

The story is set in 2010, mostly in the United States. A number of plots and many vignettes are played out in this future world, based on Brunner’s extrapolation of social, economic, and technological trends, such as an enormous population and its impact: social stresses, eugenic legislation, widening social divisions, future shock and extremism. Continue reading

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May 10, 2019

Frankfurt Kitchen

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky

The Frankfurt kitchen was the first unified concept kitchen. It was designed to enable efficient work, maximize the usable area of a small space, and to be built at low cost in 1926 by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky for architect Ernst May’s social housing project ‘New Frankfurt’ in Frankfurt, Germany.

German cities after the end of World War I were plagued by a serious housing shortage. Various social housing projects were built in the 1920s to increase the number of rental apartments for working class families subject on tight budget constraints. As a consequence, the apartments designed were comfortable but not spacious. Continue reading

May 7, 2019

Cognitive Bias

cognitive bias is when someone makes a bad choice that they think is a good choice. This bias is an important part of the study of cognitive psychology, which looks at basic actions of the mind, such as thought, feeling, problem solving, memory, and language.

Cognitive biases are often a side effect of evolutionary changes. Some behaviors that were beneficial for primitive humans and animals are unsuited to modernity. Others are adaptive and may lead to more effective actions in a given context. Continue reading

May 1, 2019

Monkey Selfie

Celebes crested macaque

The monkey selfie copyright dispute is a series of disputes about the copyright status of selfies taken by a group of macaques using equipment belonging to the British nature photographer David Slater.

The disputes involve Wikimedia Commons and the blog ‘Techdirt,’ which have hosted the images following their publication in newspapers in July 2011 over Slater’s objections, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have argued that the macaque should be assigned the copyright. Continue reading

April 30, 2019

Bubblegram

Focus

bubblegram (also known as ‘laser crystal,’ ‘3D crystal engraving,’ or ‘vitrography’) is a solid block of transparent plastic that has been exposed to intersecting laser beams in appropriately to induce a chemical reaction via heat or photonic excitation, creating bubbles or nodes where the plastic has a different index of refraction.

A complex or highly detailed image occupying a 5 cm cubic volume typically requires the creation of tens of thousands of such points. Continue reading

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April 28, 2019

Fannie Mae

Subprime

The Big Short

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, is a United States government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) and, since 1968, a publicly traded company.

Founded in 1938 during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal, the corporation’s purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgage loans in the form of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), allowing lenders to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market by reducing the reliance on locally based savings and loan associations (or ‘thrifts’). Continue reading

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April 27, 2019

JT LeRoy

Sarah

Jeremiah ‘Terminator’ LeRoy is a literary persona created in the 1990s by American writer Laura Albert. JT was presented as the author of three books of fiction, which were purportedly semi-autobiographical accounts by a teenage boy of his experiences of poverty, drug use, and emotional and sexual abuse in his childhood and adolescence from rural West Virginia to California.

Albert wrote these works, and communicated with people in the persona of JT via phone and e-mail. Following the release of the first novel ‘Sarah,’ Albert’s sister-in-law Savannah Knoop began to make public appearances as the supposed writer. The works attracted considerable literary and celebrity attention, and the authenticity of LeRoy has been a subject of debate, even as details of the creation came to light in the 2000s. Continue reading

April 25, 2019

Dooring

Dutch Reach

Dooring is a traffic collision in which a cyclist rides into a car door or is struck by a car door that was opened quickly without checking first for cyclists by using the side mirror and/or performing a proper shoulder check out and back.

The width of the door zone in which this can happen varies, depending upon the model of car one is passing. The zone can be almost zero for a vehicle with gull-wing doors or much larger for a truck. Dooring can happen when a driver has parked and is exiting their vehicle, or when passengers are exiting from cars, taxis and ride shares into the path of a cyclist approaching from the rear. Continue reading