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18 Aug 11:36

A.I. Claudius

by Jason Kottke

Roman Emperors Photos

Roman Emperors Photos

Roman Emperors Photos

For his Roman Emperor Project, Daniel Voshart (whose day job includes making VR sets for Star Trek: Discovery) used a neural-net tool and images of 800 sculptures to create photorealistic portraits of every Roman emperor from 27 BCE to 285 ACE. From the introduction to the project:

Artistic interpretations are, by their nature, more art than science but I’ve made an effort to cross-reference their appearance (hair, eyes, ethnicity etc.) to historical texts and coinage. I’ve striven to age them according to the year of death — their appearance prior to any major illness.

My goal was not to romanticize emperors or make them seem heroic. In choosing bust / sculptures, my approach was to favor the bust that was made when the emperor was alive. Otherwise, I favored the bust made with the greatest craftsmanship and where the emperor was stereotypically uglier — my pet theory being that artists were likely trying to flatter their subjects.

Some emperors (latter dynasties, short reigns) did not have surviving busts. For this, I researched multiple coin depictions, family tree and birthplaces. Sometimes I created my own composites.

You can buy a print featuring the likenesses of all 54 emperors on Etsy.

See also Hand-Sculpted Archaeological Reconstructions of Ancient Faces and The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture.

Tags: art   artificial intelligence   Daniel Voshart   Roman Empire
10 Aug 11:06

Scientists rename human genes to stop Microsoft Excel from misreading them as dates

by Andy Baio
it was easier to rename MARCH1 and SEPT1 than wait for Microsoft to allow users to disable autoformatting
07 Aug 11:36

Don’t Fall for It

by Heather V.

It’s desperate times, fellow designers, but don’t be too eager for a job that it ends up costing you money.

I’ve been targeted by scammers twice in the past month via text message. I believe they got my number from Creative Hotlist where I (used to) have my phone number listed. I got the first text on April Fool’s Day, appropriately enough.

Client: Greetings. I’d like to know if you offer graphic design services. Let me know how you are doing?

-Robert Jack.

I know, I know. I should have run right away. But I thought maybe English was his second language and he preferred an American alias, so why not just reply in case it was a real offer.

Me: I do. May I ask who referred you so I can thank them?

Client: Thanks for the quick reply. I need visual identity and catalog design. Can you take on new projects? I came across your info on Creative Hotlist.

I asked him to email me with details of his project request, which he did. He sent two PDFs and, although his furniture company name seemed lame (Woodrx?), I said I’d put together a bid. Naturally, I bid quite high and stated that I required 50% down. I figured that would be the end of it. He replied immediately.

Client: I got your estimate. Pricing looks good I’d like to proceed. As for payment I’m presently in Delaware for medical purposes I’ll pay with my card.

Me: Okay, great! I’ll draw up a contract. I’ll need you to sign it before we proceed.

Client: What accounting software do you use?

Huh? If you’re paying by card it shouldn’t matter. He says he can only pay through QuickBooks. I should have run then but I figured it would be easy enough to create a QuickBooks account.

Contract sent, contract signed, QuickBooks account created… and then the rub. An email with the subject line: Assistance Needed.

Client: I got in touch with the project consultant but I’m having a little issue with him regarding my agreement with him, I’d signed the agreement to make cash or bank deposit to him for his payment but due to my present condition I was diagnosed with lung cancer and will undergo a surgery soon so I’m limited and I won’t be able to do that. Kindly send me an invoice of $7,590 in which $2490 will be your payment for the job and $5000 you will help me forward to the project consultant so he can release the raw files for the catalog to you. You can keep $100 as tip. Once I make the payment and you have funds in your possession then you can help me forward to him. I will balance upon job completion.

$%#@! I’d allowed myself to be a player in a two-bit scam as old as online transactions. I quickly replied that I don’t funnel money and that the contracts were void, I voided them in Quickbooks and ignored his pleading emails that it was all on the up-and-up.

Two days later, I got another text that was exactly the same that “Robert Jack” sent from “Bob Donald. I never replied.

Fellow designers, take note. This “person” is truly a Client from Hell.


The post Don’t Fall for It appeared first on Clients From Hell.

04 Aug 10:40

Alanis Morissette performs “Ablaze” with her daughter

by Andy Baio
singing a song about parenting while parenting
29 Jul 10:42

Gorgeous 4K Video of Mars

by Jason Kottke

To create this ultra HD footage of the surface of Mars, high-definition panoramas created from hundreds of still photos taken by the Mars rovers are panned over using the Ken Burns effect. The end product is pretty compelling — it’s not video, but it’s not not video either.

A question often asked is: ‘Why don’t we actually have live video from Mars?’

Although the cameras are high quality, the rate at which the rovers can send data back to earth is the biggest challenge. Curiosity can only send data directly back to earth at 32 kilo-bits per second.

Instead, when the rover can connect to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, we get more favourable speeds of 2 Megabytes per second.

However, this link is only available for about 8 minutes each Sol, or Martian day.

As you would expect, sending HD video at these speeds would take a long long time. As nothing really moves on Mars, it makes more sense to take and send back images.

(thx, paul)

Tags: astronomy   Mars   photography   space   video
28 Jul 14:01

Synesthesia on demand

by Kristen

Client: Do whatever you want.  You’re the artist. You know what’s cool.

Me: Here you go! I think this is a really cool design.

Client: No, not this.

Me: Okay… this is an even cooler design. 

Client: Still not it. Let me be more specific: if there was a song that encapsulates how I envision the look and feel of the design I want, it would be Beyond by Daft Punk. Especially like the first 45 seconds of the track, like it’s an orchestral arrangement of the kind of music that plays when Mario defeats Koopa.

The post Synesthesia on demand appeared first on Clients From Hell.

27 Jul 14:16

Schlock Mercenary: July 24, 2020

by Howard Tayler

15 Jul 14:29

1947 Film That Eerily Predicted How People Would Use Smartphones

by Jason Kottke

This clip is from a 1947 French film about the imagined future of television called “Télévision œil de demain”. The film is based on a premise by science fiction author René Barjavel and directed by J.K. Raymond-Millet. It predicts not only handheld smartphone-like devices but also, with uncanny accuracy, the behavior that comes with them — like people walking around looking at screens, people on screens bumping into each other, oblivious screen users walking out in front of cars, etc. I mean, just look at this:

Smartphone 1947

Smartphone 1947

And a bit later in the clip, the film shows a car crash resulting from distracted driving.

See also some early smartphone predictions by Nikola Tesla (1926), W.K. Haselden (1919), and L. Frank Baum (1914):

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

And also from Mark Sullivan (1953):

In its final development, the telephone will be carried about by the individual, perhaps as we carry a watch today. It probably will require no dial or equivalent, and I think the users will be able to see each other, if they want, as they talk.

Tags: J.K. Raymond-Millet   Rene Barjavel   telephony   video
15 Jul 09:31

Coming To A Head

15 Jul 09:29

Guy builds custom roller coaster synced to Bohemian Rhapsody in 'Roller Coaster Tycoon 2'

roller-coaster-tycoon-bohemian-rhapsody.jpg YouTuber ChuggersRCT synced up his custom roller coaster in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. He says:
This is a synchronized coaster I've made in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, that works completely in game, as long as you have the required custom music. A download for this save file will be released soon, as I have some work to do to make it more user friendly to operate.
This is an insane amount of work to put into a game that came out in 2002, and a testament to how great the Roller Coaster Tycoon series is. Let's also take a moment to acknowledge this guy's ROI, considering he's gotten 18 years of entertainment out of a $40 PC game. It's like the exact opposite of the guy who paid $114,000 for a Super Mario Bros. cartridge and will never play it once.
14 Jul 10:36

Three Quick Links for Friday Noonish

by Jason Kottke
14 Jul 10:23

Nursing Home Residents Recreate Famous Album Covers During Pandemic Lockdown

by Jason Kottke

Nursing Home Residents Recreate Famous Album Covers During Pandemic Lockdown

Nursing Home Residents Recreate Famous Album Covers During Pandemic Lockdown

Nursing Home Residents Recreate Famous Album Covers During Pandemic Lockdown

This is delightful. Over the past few months of pandemic lockdown, the residents and staff of the Sydmar Lodge Care Home in Edgware, England have passed the time by recreating famous album covers.

Tags: music   remix
10 Jul 11:02

Acceptable Risk

Good thing I'm not already prone to overthinking everyday decisions!
04 Jul 14:35

Black Lives Matter may be the largest movement in U.S. history

by Andy Baio
between 15 to 26 million Americans participated in protests
03 Jul 10:54

CodeSOD: locurlicenseucesss

by Remy Porter

The past few weeks, I’ve been writing software for a recording device. This is good, because when I’m frustrated by the bugs I put in the code and I start cursing at it, it’s not venting, it’s testing.

There are all sorts of other little things we can do to vent. Imagine, if you will, you find yourself writing an if with an empty body, but an else clause that does work. You’d probably be upset at yourself. You might be stunned. You might be so tired it feels like a good idea at the time. You might be deep in the throes of “just. work. goddammit”. Regardless of the source of that strain, you need to let it out somewhere.

Emmanuelle found this is a legacy PHP codebase:

    // Congratulations, you has locurlicenseucesss asdfghjk
} else {
    header("Location: feed.php");

I think being diagnosed with locurlicenseucesss should not be a cause for congratulations, but maybe I’m the one that’s confused.

Emmanuelle adds: “Honestly, I have no idea how this happened.”

[Advertisement] Continuously monitor your servers for configuration changes, and report when there's configuration drift. Get started with Otter today!
30 Jun 12:32

Reddit bans /r/The_Donald, /r/ChapoTrapHouse, and 2,000 other subreddits

by Andy Baio
also: YouTube banned Stefan Molyneux, David Duke, Richard Spencer, and more, while Twitch temporarily banned Trump
29 Jun 13:54

Pokémon Grandpa’s Incredible Phone Array

by Jason Kottke

Chen San-yuan, a Taiwanese man who has been nicknamed Pokémon Grandpa, has affixed an array of 64 phones to his bike in order to play dozens of simultaneous games of Pokémon Go.

Pokemon Grandpa

When I first posted about Chen back in Nov 2018, his mere 15-phone setup looked like this:

Pokemon Grandpa

How much bigger can he go? He’s averaging adding ~2.5 phones per month to the array (assuming linear growth, which I’m not sure we can, but let’s start there) so he could reach 100 phones by August 2021. Stay tuned!

Tags: Chen San-yuan   Pokemon   telephony   video games
29 Jun 12:55

How the Virus Won

by Andy Baio
impressive NYT data visualization of the spread of Covid-19 in the U.S.
22 Jun 11:38

Today Is Juneteenth, the USA’s Second Independence Day

by Jason Kottke

Today is Juneteenth, a holiday that started in Texas that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. From Vox’s Juneteenth, explained:

A portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were free from the institution of slavery. But, woefully, this was almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation; the Civil War was still going on, and when it ended, Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger traveled to Texas and issued an order stating that all enslaved people were free, establishing a new relationship between “former masters and slaves” as “employer and hired labor.” As much as Juneteenth represents freedom, it also represents how emancipation was tragically delayed for enslaved people in the deepest reaches of the Confederacy.

And freedom was further delayed, but the holiday stuck. From What Is Juneteenth? by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:

When Texas fell and Granger dispatched his now famous order No. 3, it wasn’t exactly instant magic for most of the Lone Star State’s 250,000 slaves. On plantations, masters had to decide when and how to announce the news — or wait for a government agent to arrive — and it was not uncommon for them to delay until after the harvest. Even in Galveston city, the ex-Confederate mayor flouted the Army by forcing the freed people back to work, as historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner details in her comprehensive essay, “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory,” in Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas.

Those who acted on the news did so at their peril. As quoted in Litwack’s book, former slave Susan Merritt recalled, ” ‘You could see lots of niggers hangin’ to trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom, ‘cause they cotch ‘em swimmin’ ‘cross Sabine River and shoot ‘em.’ ” In one extreme case, according to Hayes Turner, a former slave named Katie Darling continued working for her mistress another six years (She ” ‘whip me after the war jist like she did ‘fore,’ ” Darling said).

Hardly the recipe for a celebration — which is what makes the story of Juneteenth all the more remarkable. Defying confusion and delay, terror and violence, the newly “freed” black men and women of Texas, with the aid of the Freedmen’s Bureau (itself delayed from arriving until September 1865), now had a date to rally around. In one of the most inspiring grassroots efforts of the post-Civil War period, they transformed June 19 from a day of unheeded military orders into their own annual rite, “Juneteenth,” beginning one year later in 1866.

From the NY Times’ collection of articles to mark the Juneteenth holiday, Veronica Chambers writes:

“Recently, I heard Angela Davis talk about the radical imagination,” Ms. [Saidiya] Hartman said. “And a fundamental requirement is believing that the world you want to come into existence can happen. I think that that is how black folks have engaged with and invested in and articulated freedom, as an ideal and as an everyday practice.”

I couldn’t agree more. As someone who has celebrated Juneteenth for a long time, I think we need it now — not in lieu of the freedom, justice and equality we are still fighting for — but in addition, because we have been fighting for so very long.

The elemental sermon embedded into the history and lore of Juneteenth has always been one of hope. The gifts of the holiday are the moments of connection, renewal and joy for a people who have had to endure so much, for so long.

Gina Cherelus shares how folks around the country celebrate, past and present — This Is How We Juneteenth:

Kenneth Timmons, who works for a federal government agency in Houston, said the first thing he usually does before every Juneteenth is take the day off work. Mr. Timmons usually invites friends over to cook and eat together.

“My co-workers know why I’m off, I tell them I don’t work Juneteenth,” Mr. Timmons, 47, said. “I don’t work on my Independence Day.”

Born and raised in Lufkin, Texas, a town more than 100 miles northeast of Houston, Mr. Timmons remembers attending community Juneteenth celebrations as a child, where he would watch rodeo shows, pageants, eat barbecue and participate in calf chasing contests.

“Even though the United States celebrates July 4 as their independence, we were still considered slaves,” said Mr. Timmons. “So for us, that is the day that our ancestors were finally released from servitude and slavery and could escape the South.”

Calls for Juneteenth to be a federal holiday have grown over the past few years. Here’s the case from the staff of The Root and Danielle Young — Juneteenth Is Finally Entering the Mainstream American Consciousness. Now Make It An Official Federal Holiday.

Forget the 4th of July! Juneteenth is the day that should be celebrated by all as a pivotal point in America’s freedom story.

93-year-old Texas resident Opal Lee is working to get Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday. You can follow her efforts here and sign her petition.

And finally, here are some ways to get involved in the movement for Juneteenth, including educational resources, events & protests, suggestions for how to invest in the Black community, places to donate, volunteer opportunities, etc.

Tags: Danielle Young   Gina Cherelus   Henry Louis Gates   holidays   Jr.   Juneteenth   Opal Lee   USA   Veronica Chambers   video
22 Jun 11:12

Wedding Bell Blues

by Madison Premo

I was a freelance video editor and worked from my home. A friend of mine was a cameraman, and his daughter was getting married. He asked how much it would be to edit her wedding video which he would shoot. I had known the guy casually for over 20 years so I said I would edit for free as the wedding present.

This was my first mistake.

After the wedding, it took months for the bride to come to my home to start the process.  The first meeting went well and I had a cut to her within a week.

Another month and she came back with changes. This happened two more times each with months in between the edits. By the third, I handed her a hand drive with all the footage and said ‘mazeltov’.  She was pleased and I assumed the job was complete.

Second mistake.

I moved from freelance to a regular day job which I fully enjoy. I put my editing system into storage and had no more home clients. 

A year and a half later I received an email from the bride:

Client: I’m ready to get to work on this! I’m available now!

I emailed her back:

Me: I’m retired. 

The post Wedding Bell Blues appeared first on Clients From Hell.

22 Jun 09:34

Biologists Have Found a Way to Convert All Donated Blood to Type 'O'

by Information is Beautiful
Without blood groups, transfusions would be way easier. A newly discovered enzyme in the human gut can strip the sugars from type A and B to transform it into O, the blood type most people can accept. If it proves to be safe, it could revolutionise donation. More blood available. More lives saved.
19 Jun 12:37

A disaster movie trailer for the year 2020

2020-movie-trailer.jpg YouTuber Grim Sausage cut together the year 2020 as a disaster movie trailer and it's one of the scariest things I've ever seen. If this was the trailer for World War Z you'd say the most realistic part was the zombies, because there's no way Earth could ever get that messed up. Keep going for the full, terrifying video.
19 Jun 09:51

Beautiful bastard Rickrolls the actual Rick Astley

rickroll-rick-astley copy.jpg In what can only be described as peak internet, Reddit user theMalleableDuck managed to Rickroll the actual Rick Astley. You can read the original thread here, though the screenshot captures the essence of it. Upon further inspection, there's no evidence Rick Astley actually clicked the link, so if we want to be as pedantic as possible about this, what we have here is a Rick Astley-approved attempt at Rickrolling Rick Astley. Although honestly, to even attempt it is worth applause. Somebody buy this guy some memes. They've earned it.
17 Jun 09:59

An Oral History of Mad Max: Fury Road

by Jason Kottke

Fury Road

The endlessly rewatchable Mad Max: Fury Road has become one of my absolute favorite films, so I really enjoyed digging into this oral history of the movie (with contributions from director George Miller, editor Margaret Sixel, Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, and many others). It is a miracle this thing got made and downright impossible that it was so good.

HARDY: Charlize arguably laid down the finest lead character in an action movie, and that credit is much deserved, in my opinion; both to her as a phenomenal talent and also to George for recognizing from the very start that it was time to pass Mel’s shoes onto Furiosa.

THERON: At first, Furiosa was this very ethereal character, with long hair and some African mud art on her face. It was a different costume designer back then, before Jenny Beavan, and the costume felt a little more Barbarella-y. I worried about it.

JENNY BEAVAN (costume designer): I am not into fashion, and I don’t particularly care what people look like — the clothes have to come out of the stories they tell. Since she travels long distances, Furiosa needed very practical clothing, and when I met with Charlize, that was one of the things we talked about. That, and what on earth would she do with her hair?

THERON: George was really incredible in just hearing me out. I called him and said, “I don’t know how she’s getting by in the mechanics’ room with all this hair. I think we need to shave my head, and she needs to be a more androgynous, grounded character.” You know, he trusted me so much that it kind of makes me emotional. In that sense, I feel like I let him down.

Sixel won an Oscar for her editing of Fury Road:

SIXEL: There was this constant thing from the studio: “How much shorter is it?” That’s all they wanted to know. I just got so sick of it. They were just obsessed with getting the film under 100 minutes, which I knew was impossible.

MILLER: When someone is directing a film, they’re thinking about it every waking hour, and even processing it in their dreams. The problem is, if you’re a studio executive, you tend to think about it for 10 minutes on a Wednesday.

SIXEL: It was an incredibly painful film to cut. I think the studio didn’t believe in it, so it was really difficult to keep going. Eventually George and I decided, “We’re just going to make the film we want to make, and if no one else likes it, that’s fine.” And that last four months is when the film really came together.

And it blew people away and was taken seriously when it came out, which surprised the filmmakers:

MILLER: In Japan, there was a critic who was telling me about the film, and I was astonished by the degree to which he read the subtext, all the stuff you hope is there. I said, “How many times did you see the film?” He said, “Only once. Can I show you something?” And he opened up his shirt, and he had the logo of the Immortan tattooed in red on his chest. So when you see things like that, you’re sort of humbled by it.

(thx, david)

Update: The author of the oral history shared some outtakes on Twitter.

The first time Charlize Theron saw FURY ROAD, it was a 3-and-a half hour cut, and she fell hard for it: “I felt like for the first time in my career, I was part of something where you could truly say, ‘This feels original.’”

And Theron herself posted some photos, videos, and memories of the filming, including this:

I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing my war rig for the first time and realizing holy shit, George is not f*cking around.

She also posted the photo at the top of this post. (via @thatneilguy)

Tags: Charlize Theron   George Miller   Mad Max   Margaret Sixel   movies
16 Jun 11:02

John Cleese on Extremism

by Jason Kottke

In a clip from a TV advertisement for the SDP-Liberal Alliance, John Cleese entertainingly talks about the benefits of extremism.

The biggest advantage of extremism is that it makes you feel good — because it provides you with enemies. Let me explain. The great thing about having enemies is that you can pretend that all the badness in the whole world is in your enemies and all the goodness in the whole world is in you.

Even if you don’t believe that moderate politics is the way forward (and I wonder if anyone does anymore), you can appreciate the truth that having external enemies can prevent you from discovering and addressing your views and practices that are harming others and that you need to work on.

Tags: John Cleese   politics   video
15 Jun 08:56

You Should Be Feeling Miserable

by Jason Kottke

WNYC editor and critic Rebecca Carroll on what she wants white people to do for Black Americans (besides stop killing them):

The other day, a childhood friend of mine who now lives abroad called me out of the blue in tears: “How can this be happening? I’m so sorry about what’s happening in America, but more so what’s happening to black people in America. I don’t know what to do. I just feel miserable and I can’t stop crying.”

“Lean into that,” I said. “That’s the appropriate response.” Miserable is exactly how the white people who want to help should be feeling right now, and then they should sit with that misery until something breaks in their brain, the narrative changes in their psyche, and the legacy of emotional paralysis lifts entirely. I don’t mean self-serving sadness or performative tears, but rather a bone-deep sense of agony and grief that forces the humanization of black people. We can’t matter unless we are seen as human beings first.

Tags: Rebecca Carroll
10 Jun 08:54

New Bill & Ted Movie Gets Its First Trailer

new-bill-and-ted-trailer.jpg This is the first official trailer for Bill & Ted Face The Music, coming out this summer. From what I could gather, the plot involves Bill and Ted attempting to travel to the future to steal the song that unites the world and saves reality as we know it from their future selves, since they're having trouble writing it in the present and figure it will already exist in the future. That is some sound logic. But will they take Napoleon to another water park?! If they're hoping for a fresh Rotten Tomato rating from me they will. Keep going for the trailer.
05 Jun 13:05

Five Quick Links for Wednesday Noonish

by Jason Kottke
03 Jun 13:53

Caught on camera, police explode in rage and violence across the US

by Andy Baio
"the most comprehensive live picture of police brutality ever"
29 May 10:43

I Love Appetizers: Impressive Tapas Making LEGO Machine

This is a video demonstration of the LEGO Tapas Factory constructed by LEGO builder The Brick Wall. The machine is capable of slicing bread, then loading each slice with a variety of ingredients via two conveyor belts, then impaling the bread with a skewer, attaching tomato and cheese. Simple! And by simple I mean it would have been infinitely easier to just ask your mom if she'll make you a snack. I remember when I was a kid whenever I'd take a nap my mom would leave a bowl of berries outside my door for when I woke up. Those were the days. Now? These are not the days. *liberally pouring gasoline in the dumpster that is 2020* Not by a long shot. Keep going for the full video demo.