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31 Jul 05:38

Tips for Kids – Transformers: Cool Projects for Your LEGO Bricks [Review]

by Elspeth De Montes

I may want that book for myself :p

Joachim Klang and Alex Jones are a duo of builders well known within the LEGO community, and their creations have appeared on The Brothers Brick numerous times. Now they’ve got a new book to share some of their techniques: Tips for Kids – Transformers: Cool Projects for Your LEGO® Bricks. Over the past few months, we’ve already highlighted a few of the builds that the pair created for the book, but now we are able to review the book itself.

TBB Transformers Review

Title: Tips for Kids: Transformers: Cool Projects for your Lego Bricks
Publisher: Heel Verlag Gmbh (July 10, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 3958434959
ISBN-13: 978-3958434950
RRP: $19.95

The 208-page soft-cover book is a very visual book with minimal text, and includes 200 colour illustrations. There are detailed instructions for 9 models (plus 2 weapon systems) which range from a mini Grimlock built with 24 pieces to the awesome 800-piece transforming Optimus Prime that you see in the image above. The 9 models are The Ark, Nemesis, Transformation Probe, Mini Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Bumblebee, Soundwave, Constructicons, Optimus Prime, while the weapons are the Energon-ax and a laser gun. In the foreword, Joachim explains that Alex has built more models than could be included in the book, so many extra models are pictured to inspire builders to create their own models using parts from their collections. The Transformers in the image below, for example, are among those inspirational models.


Apart from the introductory pages, the rest of the book is mainly beautiful images of the Transformers in their brick-built scenes, along with the instructions themselves. A brick-built Alex figure also gives helpful tips and information throughout (for example, pointing out that a step uses a 1×1 brick with one stud rather than 2 studs, to avoid confusion).

TBB Transformers Review

The instructions are excellent, with clear images, sensible step breaks, and accurate colours. With mini Alex pointing out potential pitfalls, the complicated models come together easily. At times, fan-created instructions can suffer a variety of factors which hamper the building process, from a mix of poor colour differentiation, lack of parts lists, or unclear steps. Thankfully, none of those issues are present here.

TBB Transformers Review

I built a few models, starting off with Soundwave, since I had most of the parts in my collection — albeit one was in a different colour, and I ‘borrowed’ another part from a LEGO buddy (for some reason I only had one blue 1×1 plate with tooth). Soundwave is a fairly simple build that results in a fun, poseable robot who transforms into a boombox.

TBB Transformers Review

I also built the non-transforming mini Optimus Prime in his juggernaut state. This can be built using the metallic silver parts if you have them, or with any of the grey tones if you do not. As you can see, I was easily able to utilise the parts I had and create the model with slightly different coloured parts than called for in the instructions. I imagine that most readers will either try to find the exact parts and purchase them on a secondary market (such as Bricklink or Brickowl) or do as I did and use the instructions as a guide to work with the parts already in their collection, replacing parts or finding other ways to work around shortcomings. While there are some specific parts required for the models, none are rare or expensive (especially if you go for grey instead of metallic silver).

TBB Transformers Review

Finally, I built the transforming Optimus Prime, which is the largest model in the book with 800 parts. Optimus Prime is a bit of a fiddly build at times, but the instructions are nice and clear and, as with all the models, there is a parts list in both image style and as a table with element IDs. TBB Transformers Review

My Optimus Prime was a little loose-limbed and floppy in his robot state, but the use of Mixel joints is an essential part of his ability to transform. It’s difficult to envisage how to build a transforming model without having such flexibility, but the downside is the instability of the model in certain poses. One of the ways that Alex improves the stability of Optimus in his robot state is to have a small removable ‘bracket’ at the back that helps to effectively stabilise his pelvis and torso. It takes a bit of practice to transform Optimus, as the first few attempts result in certain parts pinging off, but once you have worked out where to push and pull, the transformation becomes much easier. However, I still had a few gaps on my juggernaut even after practicing the transformation numerous times.

TBB Transformers Review

Overall, this is a beautifully illustrated book. The brick-build images, especially the ones that are more inspirational, have been masterfully created by Alex and Joachim and the print quality does them justice. Sadly, some fill a double-page spread (such as the one below) resulting in a seam down the middle of the image, but this is a necessary consequence of showing the images large enough to see all the little details.

Heel Transformers

There’s a lot of inspiration within these 208 pages. The constructed models definitely look the part, and many clever techniques are used that will delight young and adult LEGO fans alike. Fans of Transformers and LEGO will definitely enjoy poring over the images, trying out some of the builds and learning techniques from a duo of very talented builders.

Tips for Kids: Transformers: Cool Projects for your Lego Bricks is currently available from Amazon for $17.49 (14% off).

Thanks to Alex Jones for providing The Brothers Brick with a copy of the book to review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The post Tips for Kids – Transformers: Cool Projects for Your LEGO Bricks [Review] appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

28 Jul 06:31

Noita Reveal Trailer

by admin

Here’s the game we’ve been working on for a while at Nolla Games:

Noita is a magical action rogue-lite set in a world where every pixel is physically simulated. Fight, explore, melt, burn, freeze and evaporate your way through the procedurally generated world using spells you’ve created yourself. You can find more info at

06 Apr 06:00

This 'Putin as a gay clown' image is now illegal in Russia, so please do not share

by Xeni Jardin

It'd be a shame to share something as silly as this...

This image of Russian leader and purported Donald Trump kingmaker Vladimir Putin as a gay clown is now illegal in Russia. Whatever you do, do not share this far and wide so that everyone sees it.


24 Mar 04:46

The Commodore 64's "secret colours"

by Rob Beschizza

Commodore's C64 had a famously decisive, if drab set of 16 colors to choose from, a note of artistic intent amid the unthinking mathematical extremities of other 8-bit color palettes. But did you know there were secret colors? Aaron Bell writes up a discovery that blew his mind many years ago and which, 26 years later, he's finally figured out.
If you swap two colours rapidly enough - say at 50 or 60 frames per second - you can fool the eye into seeing something that isn't there. On a machine with sixteen colours, just one or two extra can add a lot to a scene. Since today we all live in the future and you are reading a fully programmable document on a supercomputer, let's try it.

The sad part is that the trick doesn't work for most pairings due to the obvious strobing/flickering effect it generates. But now wily coders can add a whole host of new grays to their vivid Commodore palettes. ("The tartan for the clan McPuke" is definitely the best description of the C64 palette I've ever read. I doubt it'll be topped.)

I read somewhere this is more or less what's done on cheapo monitors to make you think you're getting 24-bit color.

Previously: How the hell did they get 1024 colors out of a 1981 PC?

20 Mar 06:59

The myths perpetuated by startups about themselves.

by cliffski

He's angrier than usual but for a damn good reason :)

This blog post was partly inspired by this story, where a business decided someone did not fit their corporate culture because she asked how much she would earn. Yup, let that sink in for a minute, and lets talk about the myths that a lot of tech startups perpetuate, that are complete and utter nonsense.

Myth #1: Forget your salary, its all about the exit strategy!

There is a myth that every ‘startup’ is the next facebook, or twitter, or snapchat. As a result, you should not give a damn how hard you have to work or what you earn. Living on peanuts and sleeping under your desk is frankly an honour, and you will get to write a book about it one day on your yacht, after the company IPOs and you get your share of ten billion dollars. Thats the myth. The likelihood is that you will either burn out long before then and have to quit, that your significant other will leave you and you will have a meltdown and get fired, or far, far more likely: it turns out that making a toaster that connects to the internet isn’t actually a billion dollar idea after all, the company burns through cash, crashes and burns and everyone gets a tweet informing them they are unemployed.  In the idea is really good, it will raise some money, if it raises money, it can pay its workers.

Myth #2: We are the brightest and best in the world!

No you aren’t. You are probably a bunch of relatively well off middle class white guys from California who read a lot of books about steve jobs and now think you are a genius because you understand a bit of java. Whoopy do. Unless the company is Deep Mind, and a bunch of you have phds in artificial intelligence, or maybe quantum physics, and unless you have a few people with nobel prizes and fields medals, you are NOT the brightest and best. And frankly, that would be deeply embarrassing. if your startup does contain ten of the cleverest people on earth and you use those collective skills to develop a bluetooth enabled cat feeder…then what a terrible, insulting waste of your vast abilities. Get some fucking perspective.

Myth #3: Get users now, revenue will follow!

Really? Ask twitter how that went, or maybe myspace. Having a lot of users just means a lot of server costs and admin. The point of a business (and I feel it sad that anyone has to type this) is to make profit. Note that the word is profit, not revenue, which is totally different. Its amazing how many people think that a big userbase automatically generates revenue ‘somehow at some point’. Ask ANYONE in the games business if you can just bolt on Free-To-Play to an existing game, and they will laugh you out of the room. NO is the answer, you need to build that business model in right from the start. This is common sense, but companies like twitter and snapchat ignore it. Building a vast network of people who love your service because your service has no ads….yeah thats not going to be easy to monetize is it?

Myth #4: Our company is just like amazon. We will get big fast.

Well done, you have learned a buzz-phrase, and totally failed to understand the underlying business model. Amazons get big fast worked because they had an actual business model that they knew made a profit AT SCALE. Selling over the internet is highly profitable, and the economies of scale are vast. This does not apply to snapchat or instagram or twitter etc Amazons system had to be big because ‘every book in the world’ was compelling, and because books sold for MONEY. You can waffle all you like about how your business model has network effects, but unless there is a statement at the end of the company business model explaining where the profit comes from, its just a fortune cookie. The only thing that will get big fast is your debt.

Myth #5: We are making the world a better place.

Fuck you. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. Do you know how a business can make the world a better place? by creating quality long term jobs that pay decent salaries and benefits. By contributing to the local community. By building things and solving problems that make society better. By paying their god-damn taxes. By setting an example of fair treatment to their employees, and ensuring a welcoming business environment for all races and genders and backgrounds. If your idea of making the world a better place is making billions of dollars so you can become another internet cliche with your bright orange Lamborghini and a swimming pool, then do us all a favour and just give up now.

Wow, that was angrier than I thought it would be. :D

I’m still shorting snapchat. YMMV.  Pics are from the televisual genius of HBOs Silicon valley.


10 Mar 07:28

Advertising in Windows has reached an exasperating new low

by Peter Bright

... did I just read an article by Peter Bright that criticizes MSFT? That Peter Bright who never says anything bad about MS or its products?

I say.

Enlarge / Advertisements? In my Explorer? It's more common than you think. (credit: A reddit user with a name that's frankly distasteful in and of itself.)

I don't know what triggers OneDrive advertisements in Explorer. I don't know if they appear in Windows 10 stable builds or just Insider Previews as a taste of things to come. I don't know that I even care any more.

But come on.

Nobody in Redmond thought, "Gosh, that's a little distasteful"? I mean, "Let's just turn our operating system into a billboard!" offends nobody?

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

17 Feb 07:21

The Dark Side of Coding: The cross

by CommitStrip

Sounds very Microsoft-like... >:|

02 Feb 05:38

Todays big patch(1.04) and starting to promote it (a bit)

by cliffski

This has been the softest launch of a game I’ve ever done. I spent about $100 total on facebook post boosts, I tweeted, I blogged and I posted to the ProductionLine facebook page. Since then…thats it, I’ve been pretty much going along on word of mouth, and even then, sales have exceeded my expectations! This is really good news, because so far the development of the game has gone exactly as I had hoped, with a lot more focus on what actual players of the game want, rather than me guessing, or doing just want I want, or me trying to guess what makes the press happiest.

This has resulted in a lot of bug reports! (many thanks for that) and some really good suggestions and ideas, some of which have already made it into the game. People do seem to be surprised how quickly stuff goes in or gets improved, but frankly thats because I worked on this game for about a year in silence so there is this whole huge library of decent engine code in the background that is *done* and thus I only really have to code new features and GUI stuff now. New GUI does not take that long, and thankfully I’ve got good enough at debugging multi-threading and recursive stuff that this is not a huge bottleneck either. I’m almost disappointed nobody is having frame-rate issues, because I love optimizing :D

This is just as well as there have been a LOT of ideas and suggestions. I’ve already seen factories way bigger and more efficient than anything I have managed to create. It never occurred to me to re-use the conveyor belts in cunning roundabout-style loops with the individual processing elements happening at different junctions…until someone found a bug in it.

Users feedback has been excellent, encouraging and invaluable.

But anyway! I’m actual;y sending out a puny mailing list today with 7,500 recipients, so that should open things up a bit, especially as some are press. I don’t expect massive press coverage, but I’m not relying on it either. The game remains very much in Alpha (not even beta) so I expect a lot of people, gamers and press alike will stay in a ‘wait and see’ mode.

In the meantime, I have just set a big patch(1.04) live, and here is the fairly hefty changelist. (not bad for about 4 days work).

[version alpha  1.04]
1) The task ‘make fuel tanks’ now unlocks when researched correctly.
2) Fixed some crashes and routing bugs caused by deleting resource importer bays.
3) Pop-up details on the slot-picker now should show decimal places for times.
4) Vehicle details windows limited to one per vehicle and can now be dragged by the player.
5) Fixed minute format bug in save games.
6) Pause now works as a toggle, and all speed controls have hotkeys.
7) Escape key now closes slot picker.
8) Slot picker has less visual ‘padding’.
9) Double-click on the relevant window now loads a save game.
10) The upgrades section of a slot details dialog is now hidden if there are no upgrades available for selection.
11) Any open dialogs are now correctly closed when going to the main menu.
12) Fixed crash bug when a single stretch of uninterrupted conveyor belt was over 64 tiles long.
13) Added new efficiency dialog which shows efficiency over time and also a snapshot of current slot efficiency.
14) Fixed bug where slots could be placed ‘spilling’ over into a locked factory area.
15) Fixed bug on low resolutions where the slot upgrades window did not fit on the screen.
16) Floating numbers fade out now even when paused.
17) Improvements to ‘load-balancing’ at junctions.
18) New ‘Efficiency’ dialog currently just showing global state of all slots now and over time.
19) Slight speedup of creating the load-game dialog.
20) New vehicle pop-ups show the reason a vehicle is stuck.
21) Some conveyor belt graphics now have darker, more obvious direction arrows.
22) Fixed incorrect sizes of some delivered resources.
23) New upgrade for painting slot: ‘High pressure paint nozzles’
24) Fixed bug where components built inside the factory at ‘make’ slots did not survive a save and load.
25) Corrupt resource deliveries to roof making and similar slots fixed.
26) New graphics for the tyre-making slot and the window making slot.


Thanks for everyone pre-ordering, and I also really appreciate it when people tweet or post online about the game, its really helpful. If you don’t have the game yet, here is the order form :D

27 Jan 06:03

What is thy bidding, my master?

by Edwinder

Kneeling is a sign of reverence, submission and obedience. Darth Vader assumes this pose before the Emperor more than once during the original Star Wars trilogy, and this poignant action helps to emphasize his emotional conflict, between the master that guided him most of his life (but who he eventually destroys), and the offspring that he has known for a much shorter time. In recreating this moment in LEGO, builder SPARKART! takes the unusual approach of using a Vader minifig headpiece atop an entirely brick-built figure. He even offers a glimpse at the parts and techniques necessary to copy this distinctive statuette yourself.

What is thy bidding, my master?

The post What is thy bidding, my master? appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

23 Jan 05:56

Time for the ‘teenage coding god’ meme to die

by cliffski

What is it with TV executives and non-tech savvy journalists? Can they not do the vaguest bit of research and kill of this myth about ‘gifted child genius programmers and hackers’? its so off-base its laughable, especially to anyone my age who works as a software engineer. If it isn’t immediately obvious what I’m talking about, its characters like this from silicon valley:

And also like this (also from silicon valley)*

And like this from ‘halt and catch fire’

And any number of media stories about ‘teenage bedroom genius hackers’. I guess it all goes back to a single film, in the early days of computers (and the threat of hacking)…war games, starring Matthew Broderick aged 19 released in 1983. The myth of the young genius computer whizz was born, and nobody has seemingly challenged it since.

Firstly…lets get something straight., The ‘cleverest’ programmers are not usually ‘hackers’. Firstly, its much easier to break something than build it. You build software with 100,000 lines of code and 1 line has a potential exploit? you did a good job 99,999 times, versus a hacker who finds that one exploit. are the finest minds in programming really working for the Russian mafia? I suspect they are more likely to be working for Apple or Deep Mind or some tech start-up with fifty million dollars worth of stock options. They get better pay and no threats of violence, which would you choose?

Secondly, computers were invented a while ago now. We have people with a LOT of experience in the field out there now. Amazingly, C++ is still perfectly usable, and very efficient, and given the choice between someone who has written tens of millions of lines of C++ over twenty or thirty years, versus some ‘bright’ kid…I’m going with the old guy/girl thanks.

Learning to code takes TIME, yet because bookshops hawk crappy ‘learn C++ in 21 days (or less)’ bullshit, some non-coders actually believe it. There is a BIG difference between ‘knowing some C++’ and being a C++ software engineer. Writing code that works is fucking easy. Writing reliable bug-free efficient, legible and flexible and safe code is fucking hard. Why do we think that surgeons with 20 years experience are the best choice for our brain operation, yet want software coded by a fourteen year old? Is there some reality-distortion field that turns programming into a Benjamin button style alternate reality?


So ideally, any movie or TV series that features the ‘ace’ coder would have them aged about 30-40, maybe even older. At the very least they would be in the darned twenties. Enough with the school-age hacker god bullshit. Here is a recent picture of John Carmack. I bet he is a better coder than you, or me. He has even more grey hair than me.

While we are on the topic, the best coders are not arrogant, mouthy, uber-confident  types on skateboards wearing hip t-shirts with confrontational activist slogans on them, and flying into a rage whenever people talk to them. Nor do they always blast out heavy metal or rap music on headphones whilst coding on the floor cross-legged, and nor do they ‘do all their best work’ when on drugs, or at 3AM, or after a fifteen hour coding blitz.

These are myths that make TV characters ‘more exciting’. Except they also make them unbelievable and stupid. I’m quite unusual in being a fairly extravert (in short bursts) programmer. Put it down to being a lead guitarist in a metal band 27 years ago. Most really *good* coders I know are actually pretty quiet. They will not draw attention to themselves. they are not arrogant, they know enough to know that they know very little. Really good coders tend not to brag. I brag a bit, its PR but would I claim to be a C++ *expert*. Nope, I know what I need to know. I also only really know C++, a little bit of PHP, and some HTML, CSS, but not enough to do anything but the few things I need. When I meet coders who brag that they know 10 languages, I get that they know the syntax, but how to use them effectively? enough to write mission critical code that a company is built on? I find it hard to believe.

Most coders look pretty boring. Most of us are pretty boring. Most of us are not arrogant shouty attention seekers. The experienced ones know to stop coding by 9PM at the very latest, and to take regular breaks. We also aren’t stupid enough to store backup disks next to hi-fi speakers in the same room (an actual plot point in halt and catch fire). We make shit TV, but good code.  I suspect our portrayal will never change.


*All the SV cast are young, but carla seems to be portrayed as younger, cooler, more confident than the rest.

23 Jan 05:53

Comic for 2017.01.22

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
16 Jan 08:03

A critical flaw (possibly a deliberate backdoor) allows for decryption of Whatsapp messages -- UPDATED

by Cory Doctorow

"That means that a government could order Facebook to stealthily decrypt Whatsapp traffic, despite the company's claims that it can't do this under any circumstances." enough said, hm?

Update: Be sure to read the followup discussion, which explains Facebook's point of view, that this is a deliberate compromise, and not a defect, that makes the app more usable for a wide variety of users, while putting them to little additional risk (namely, that Facebook might change its mind; or be forced to spy on its users; or suffer a security breach or internal rogue employee).

When Facebook implemented Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol for Whatsapp, they introduced a critical flaw that exposes more than a billion users to stealthy decryption of their private messages: in Facebook's implementation, the company can force Whatsapp installations to silently generate new cryptographic keys (without any way for the user to know about this unless a deep settings checkbox had been ticked), which gives the company the ability to decrypt user messages, including messages that have already been sent in the past.. (more…)

19 Dec 06:37

A decaying relic of a time long ago

by Patrick

That is beautiful :)

One of the scenes I found most interesting in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the sight of an Imperial star destroyer rusting into oblivion on Jakku. I imagined other relics of the fallen Empire scattered and forgotten on planets throughout the galaxy. Austrian builder sanellukovic does a fantastic job expanding this element of the story with his depiction of a derelict Imperial shuttle.

...after the empire...

The builder has taken the UCS Imperial Shuttle design and turned it into an ugly, rusting pile of junk – and I mean that in high admiration. A lot of builders (including myself) would have felt just fine breaking the shuttle apart, scattering it across a landscape scene and calling it good. This builder, however, went so much further, creating a scene so full of character I wish it had been in the movie. Note the busted windshield, rust patterns and jungle overgrowth. The ship’s layout is spot-on, particularly the crumpled wings and the way the dorsal stabilizer leans forward as if it was just barely holding together.

Detail Picture

The jungle looks wonderful too and adds a nice sense of mystery and abandonment to the creation. How exciting it would be to stumble upon this during a trek through the woods!

07 Dec 09:29



That sounds annoyingly true right now...

Of course, "Number of times I've gotten to make a decision twice to know for sure how it would have turned out" is still at 0.
05 Dec 08:12

This strain wave gearing makes a spectacularly cool Great Ball Contraption [Video]

by Nick

I could stare at that for hours :P

Japanese builder akiyuki applies the concept of strain wave gearing to Great Ball Contraptions, a popular LEGO fan convention theme in which hundreds of balls are passed through complex machinery. From both an engineering and a visual standpoint, the module is mesmerizing to watch. See the module in action in the following 2 minute video.

A fascinating read detailing the design process and engineering challenges faced by the builder can be found on akiyuki’s blog.

19 Oct 10:23

Airportraits: composite photos of all the daily takeoffs from the world's airports

by Cory Doctorow

Cool :o


Artist Mike Kelley creates "Airportraits" of the world's airports by photographing all the planes that take off on a given day, then compositing them together into a kind of time-lapse of a day's worth of flights, which presents an instantly comprehensible way of comparing the different services; they're available as stunning prints. (via Kottke) (more…)

19 Oct 08:39

A first look at Star Control: Origins gameplay—prequel due for release in 2H17 [Updated]

by Lee Hutchinson

A new Star Control. Why didn't I know of this before?

Enlarge / A system view, with navigation between planets, and a fleet status? This is looking very Star Control to me! (credit: Stardock)

All right, *campers*, there’s some new news lurking on the horizon for Star Control fans eager to find a new *happy town*. This morning, Stardock founder Brad Wardell announced the official name of the company’s upcoming Star Control prequel: Star Control: Origins. Wardell has also offered up the first public gameplay video:

(video link)

Today’s announcement also gives us a tentative release date and an early price: the game will be coming to Windows and consoles, and the PC release will be in the second half of 2017. For $35 (£30), players can join the studio’s “Founder’s Program” and get access to the closed beta and some additional developer goodies.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

13 Oct 15:59

"Russia's Trump" says America must elect Donald Trump or prepare for nuclear war

by Xeni Jardin

Does somebody actually still pay attention to what Vladimir Zhirinovski says? :D

Vladimir Zhirinovsky Oct. 11, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

An ultra-right Russian politician aligned with Vladimir Putin says American voters should elect Donald Trump for president, or prepare for nuclear war. Vladimir Zhirinovsky likes to compare himself to Trump, and is a similarly unrestrained blowhard.

"Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump,” he said. “But if they vote for Hillary it's war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere."


11 Oct 06:33

Windows patches start getting cumulative for 7, 8, 2008, and 2012

by Peter Bright

Aaaand that sounds like my WUpdate is going to be turned off. Ain't that safe?

In August, Microsoft announced that it was going to change the patching model used by Windows 7 and 8.1—as well as Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2—to something close to that of Windows 10.

In a break from Microsoft's older operating systems, Windows 10's monthly updates incorporate both security and non-security fixes into a single monolithic update. These updates combine not only each month's new fixes, but also the fixes from previous months. A similar system is being offered to those older operating systems. The patch on October 11 is the first time this new system is being used.

The patch system for the legacy operating systems has complexities that Windows 10's patching lacks. There will be three series of updates in total. Two of these updates will be a monthly roll-up that combines security and non-security fixes, as well as a monthly security update that contains only that month's security fixes without any previous ones. They will be released on the second Tuesday of each month, known as "Patch Tuesday." The third update will be a preview of the next month—which combines the current month's cumulative update with the next month's non-security fixes—and will be published on the third Tuesday of each month. This will give users the ability to test the non-security portion of each month's patch before it's rolled out.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

29 Sep 07:31

Musk’s Mars moment: Audacity, madness, brilliance—or maybe all three

by Eric Berger

Enlarge / What the view of Mars might look like from inside the Interplanetary Transport System. (credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk finally did it. Fourteen years after founding SpaceX, and nine months after promising to reveal details about his plans to colonize Mars, the tech mogul made good on that promise Tuesday afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico. Over the course of a 90-minute speech Musk, always a dreamer, shared his biggest and most ambitious dream with the world—how to colonize Mars and make humanity a multiplanetary species.

And what mighty ambitions they are. The Interplanetary Transport System he unveiled could carry 100 people at a time to Mars. Contrast that to the Apollo program, which carried just two astronauts at a time to the surface of the nearby Moon, and only for brief sojourns. Moreover, Musk’s rocket that would lift all of those people and propellant into orbit would be nearly four times as powerful as the mighty Saturn V booster. Musk envisions a self-sustaining Mars colony with at least a million residents by the end of the century.

Beyond this, what really stood out about Musk’s speech on Tuesday was the naked baring of his soul. Considering his mannerisms, passion, and the utter seriousness of his convictions, it felt at times like the man's entire life had led him to that particular stage. It took courage to make the speech, to propose the greatest space adventure of all time. His ideas, his architecture for getting it done—they’re all out there now for anyone to criticize, second guess, and doubt.

Read 36 remaining paragraphs | Comments

16 Sep 05:25

Facebook login adds real-name policy, auto-updated friends list to Oculus

by Sam Machkovech

I personally lost all interest in Oculus Rift the moment fecesbook bought the company. Sounds like I chose wisely.

This week saw the latest Oculus Rift software runtime begin to roll out to PC users, and the 1.8 version includes one new feature in particular: official Facebook integration. The software update is rolling out in waves, so Oculus owners may not yet have this live on their PCs, but once it rolls out, users are told that "Oculus is better with Facebook friends" and are given the option of logging in to a Facebook account.

To confirm, this is wholly optional, and the service will still operate normally should users not opt in. And in some ways, this change brings Facebook up to speed with other major online gaming platforms such as Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network, which all support Facebook-specific features like searching for friends and posting updates.

However, Oculus' tie-in to Facebook is different from the others in more aggressively tying FB to a gaming service, according to the Facebook-in-Oculus terms posted to the headset's official Reddit forum. For starters, should you log in to Facebook via the Oculus Rift's PC app, your username will change to your real name. If for any reason you'd rather your Oculus username continue to be your favorite gaming handle, whether for privacy's sake or just because you like the sound of it, you'll have to avoid the login.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

02 Sep 05:16


by Joey deVilla

most used language in programming

01 Sep 05:19

Turns out the signal astronomers saw was “strong” because it came from Earth

by Eric Berger

Surprised? Hopefully not.. :p

Ars was among the first news outlets to report on discussions among astronomers about observations of an intriguing "signal" that may have originated from a distant, Sun-like star. We cautioned readers that, because the signal was measured at 11Ghz, there was a "significant chance" it was of terrestrial origin, likely due to some military activity.

Well, it apparently was. First, astronomers with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence downplayed the possibility of an alien civilization. "There are many other plausible explanations for this claimed transmission, including terrestrial interference," Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer with SETI, wrote.

Now the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences has concurred, releasing a statement on the detection of a radio signal at the RATAN-600 radio astronomy observatory in southern Russia. "Subsequent processing and analysis of the signal revealed its most probable terrestrial origin," the Russian scientists said. (Maybe it was really Steve Martin and his hair dryer?)

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29 Aug 04:35

Bone is possibly one of the best fantasy series ever told

by Wink

Bone is awesome - even when translated into Finnish


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Bone: Coda (25th Anniversary Special)
by Jeff Smith
Cartoon Books
2016, 136 pages, 6.4 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches (softcover)
$13 Buy a copy on Amazon

If you haven’t read Jeff Smith’s Bone series, just stop. Stop reading right now, mid sentence, and go pick up his masterpiece. It’s wonderful. Quite possibly one of the greatest fantasy stories ever told. Once you’ve read that and fallen in love with Smith’s humor and characters, then you can appreciate this follow-up that gives you a reason to revisit the Bone Brothers.

If you aren’t familiar with the Bone series, this coda won’t interest you. It’s a companion piece that includes interviews of Smith, an oral history by comic historian Stephen Weiner, and early illustrations of the Bone characters. I found it compelling to hear that Bone was a story that almost wasn’t. But through determination, some luck, and careful maneuvering, Smith was able to get the comic off the ground. It’s great inspiration for any independent artist out there.

But the best part about this book is that there’s a new Bone story to be had! The brothers and Bartleby are still in route back to Boneville, when in true Bone fashion things go awry. It’s not a long story, or a deep one, but it’s a reminder about everything that was so great about this series. It’s a little heartbreaking that Smith makes a point to define coda as “the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the base structure.” Hopefully we’ll see more from this world, but for now this is a pretty good sendoff. If you’re a completest, you’re going to need to pick this up. – JP LeRoux

August 26, 2016

18 Aug 06:08

UC Davis Chancellor spent $400K+ to scrub her online reputation after pepper-spray incident

by Cory Doctorow


Back in April, we learned that UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi had hired a sleazy "reputation-management" company to scrub her reputation and that of the university after the 2011 incident in which university police lieutenant John Pike hosed down peaceful protesters with pepper spray, jetting chemical irritant directly into their open mouths and eyes. (more…)

18 Aug 06:04

The surprising spryness of fighters in 15th C armor

by Cory Doctorow

Neat :o

animation (1)

Paris's Musée national du Moyen Âge teamed up with The University of Geneva to make this video demonstrating the fighting techniques available to people in 15th century armor, which are much more fluid and athletic that I had presumed -- turns out you can really move in those tin cans. (via We Make Money Not Art)

16 Aug 06:20

Windows 7, 8.1 moving to Windows 10’s cumulative update model

by Peter Bright

So it's another way of pushing that cursed telemetry crap, CEIP and whatnot so one can't opt out?

(credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is switching Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to a cumulative update model similar to the one used by Windows 10. The company is moving away from the individual hotfix approach it has used thus far for those operating systems.

One of the major differences between Windows 7 and 8.1 on the one hand and Windows 10 on the other is what happens when you run Windows Update. Microsoft's two older operating systems usually need to fetch a handful of individual patches each month. If a system hasn't been patched for a few months, this can require dozens of individual fixes to be retrieved. In the case of a clean installation, that number can reach the hundreds.

Windows 10, on the other hand, has perhaps one or two updates released each month. A single cumulative update incorporates not just all of the newest security and reliability fixes, but all the older fixes from previous months, too. If a system isn't updated for a few months or has had its operating system freshly reinstalled, the scenario of having hundreds of individual fixes never occurs. Windows 10 just grabs the latest cumulative update and, with that one package, is more or less up-to-date.

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11 Aug 05:09

Aviation's war on moisture turns ten today

by Cory Doctorow


Ten years ago, British domestic security claimed to have caught a terrorist cell that had planned to blow up airplanes with a gel they'd carry on in a Gatorade bottle and detonate with an Ipod. (more…)

09 Aug 05:47

Making a real Star Wars Speeder Bike

by David Pescovitz

Neat! :D


Vintage Works built this fantastic motorcycle that is exactly like a Star Wars Speeder Bike. Only it doesn't fly. Sadly.






01 Aug 07:12

It’s now or never: Free Windows 10 upgrade ends in just a few hours

by Peter Bright

My main question is: have they finally stopped pushing 3035583 now that the free downgrade period is over?

It's better, we promise.

If you use Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and want to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, there are just a few more hours left to grab your copy. The offer expires today, July 29. At the time of writing, less than 19 hours still remain.

If you're eligible, you should upgrade. In almost every regard, Windows 10 is a better operating system than Windows 7 or 8.1 (unless you use Media Center, in which case you're trapped on old operating systems forever). If you want to get the free upgrade but can't upgrade right now because of timing or compatibility concerns, your best option is to install Windows 10 onto an empty hard drive using your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 key. Activate that installation and magic will occur: your key will become Windows 10 "enabled," and you should be able to use it to perform the upgrade at a later date. Similar results can likely be achieved by installing into a virtual machine rather than an empty hard disk.

The cut-off doesn't apply to those who use assistive technology such as screen-readers; those Windows users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 whenever they feel like it, though Microsoft apparently has yet to fully explain how this will work.

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