Thursday, January 16, 2020

1914 Detroit Electric Model 47 Brougham

Production began in 1907. It used a 1100 lb, 108 volt lead-acid battery. It cost $3,300, the equivalent of $85,000 today. The cars were advertised as achieving 80 miles between recharges, although in one test a Detroit Electric ran 211 miles on a single charge. Top speed was 20 mph.

Clara Ford, wife of Henry Ford, drove a Detroit Electric.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Bluetooth LE Audio

Gizmodo reports: [edited]

One of the biggest improvements of the latest Bluetooth standard will be a feature called Multi-Stream Audio. Bluetooth is currently limited to streaming audio to a single device. That’s fine for portable speakers and headphones where both sides are connected with a wire, but for wireless earbuds, such as Apple’s AirPods, your smartphone can only connect to one side. That earbud then has to forward the audio stream onto the one in your other ear, which requires some clever software tricks to ensure everything remains in sync.

Multi-Stream Audio will solve that, as it will allow a single device, such as a smartphone, to stream flawlessly synced audio to multiple audio devices at the same time. The most obvious benefit is that it will be easier to make wireless earbuds work without any audio lag issues. But the feature will also benefit those who want to use their wireless headphones with multiple devices at the same time, such as a tablet, phone, and a laptop, streamlining the process of switching between each audio source without having to go through an annoying disconnect/reconnect process each time.

Bluetooth LE Audio will also make sharing a music stream with others possible. Users should be able to share audio from their smartphone with friends, as multiple sets of wireless headphones can be connected to a single source device at once, and each should receive the exact same audio stream in perfect sync with all the others. Further expanding on that idea is another new feature known as Broadcast Audio which allows a single audio source device to broadcast several audio streams to an unlimited number of wireless headphones, without any private pairing required.

Imagine sitting in a waiting lounge at the airport and instead of TVs blaring the news over their speakers, they’d instead allow anyone with wireless headphones to connect to the audio broadcast, even in multiple languages. It’s a feature that promises to improve the experience at movie theaters, gyms, and even shopping malls.

Even audiophiles might finally have a reason to embrace Bluetooth with LE Audio, as the new spec is introducing the Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3) — which promises better audio quality at lower data rates. The reduced data rate will also result in reduced power consumption for Bluetooth destination and source devices. This will allow companies to further reduce the size of wireless earbud devices, as smaller batteries will be needed to achieve the same battery life.

New hardware will be required, starting with the chips that should arrive sometime this year.

Image: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

Monday, January 06, 2020

Free Typeface: TT2020

Fredrick Brennan has gifted the world with a typeface that makes a pretty good stab at looking as it it was produced using a real typewriter.

To find out more, and to download the files, click here

Thanks to Conrad Gempf for the link.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

London - Somerset - London, 27 & 28-12-19

London to Somerset
Perfect Gentleman - Wyclef Jean
You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart (Acoustic Version) - Eurythmics
Afternoons And Coffeespoons - Crash Test Dummies
Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National
Solitary Man - Johnny Cash
We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
Dead! - My Chemical Romance
Bing Bang - Lazy Town
Sweet Cheeks - Raf Rundell
Scooby Snacks - Fun Lovin Criminals
How Will I Know - Whitney Houston
Boys Don't Cry - The Cure
Slayers-Theme - Slayers
Since I Left You - The Avalanches
Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me - The Pipettes
After All - The Frank And Walters
Mr. E's Beautiful Blues - Eels
Tank! (Opening Theme) - Cowboy Bebop
Keep The Customer Satisfied - Simon & Garfunkel
You're So Vain - Carly Simon
Country Girl - Primal Scream
You Give a Little Love - Silvery
Electric Feel - MGMT
Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams
Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) - Soul II Soul
We're from Barcelona - I'm From Barcelona
Wearing My Rolex (Radio Edit) - Wiley
Girlfriend - The Darkness
Would You Love a Monsterman - Lordi
Jump on Demand - Spunge
Giving You Up - Kylie Minogue
I Lust U - Neon Neon
What Is Life - Olivia Newton-John
Suspicious Character - The Blood Arm
Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen
I'm Not Okay (I Promise) - My Chemical Romance
If It Happens Again - UB40, Robin Campbell, James Brown, Michael Virtue, Ali Campbell, Earl Falconer
I Want an Alien for Christmas - Fountains of Wayne
Wimoweh - Karl Denver
Helena - My Chemical Romance
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom! - Vengaboys
Ready Steady Go! - L'Arc en Ciel
iPod Xmas - Hello Saferide
Honky Tonk Badonkadonk - Trace Adkins
Dancing In The Moonlight - Toploader
Andrew In Drag - The Magnetic Fields
Vogue - Madonna
The Reeling (Calvin Harris Remix) - Passion Pit
Mary's Prayer - Danny Wilson

Somerset to London
I Ran - A Flock Of Seagulls
Sally MacLennane - The Pogues
This World Of Water - New Musik
The Show Must Go On - Leo Sayer
Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz
Pull It to Pieces - Elektralow
Dignity - Deacon Blue
Poison Ivy - The Lambrettas
The Way I Do - John McVie's "Gotta Band" With Lola Thomas
Smoothie King - Bowling For Soup
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough - Manic Street Preachers
Chug A Lug - Jawbone
Hey Mickey - Toni Basil
Under Pressure - My Chemical Romance & The Used
Tony the Beat (Push It) [Single Version] - The Sounds
Neon Genesis Evangelion Theme Tune - Neon Genesis Evangelion
Consolation Prizes - Phoenix
Something Good '08 (Radio Edit) - Utah Saints
The Most Beautiful Girl [In The Room] - Flight Of The Conchords
Stupidly Happy - XTC
I Told Her On Alderaan - Neon Neon
Can't help falling in Love - A-Teens
Love Your Money - Daisy Chainsaw
If You Let Me Stay - Terence Trent D'Arby
Mellow Yellow - Donovan
Call Your Girlfriend - Robyn
Skinny (Radio Edit) - Lo Rider
Dare (Radio Edit) - Gorillaz
Glamour Boys - Living Colour
Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
Born Slippy - Underworld
Real Love (Studio Version) - Hillsong Young & Free
Hey Dude - Kula Shaker
Behind These Hazel Eyes - Kelly Clarkson
Good As Hell - Lizzo
We Don't Stop - Michael Franti & Spearhead
Love In An Elevator - Aerosmith
Happiness Is - Paul Evans
La Bamba - Los Lobos
In Your Car - Kenickie
Ecuador (feat. Rodriguez) - Sash!
Dirty Harry (Single Edit) - Gorillaz
Best Of You - Foo Fighters
Shut Up Kiss Me - Angel Olsen
Clearest Blue - CHVRCHES
Ring a Ding Ding - Brakes
Go! (feat. Mai Lan) - M83
After Hours - The Velvet Underground
Destination Venus - The Rezillos
Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros - Flight Of The Conchords

Sunday, December 22, 2019

London - Wigan - London, 21 & 22-12-19

After The Goldrush: Neil Young
Tell Me Why
After The Gold Rush
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Southern Man
Till The Morning Comes
Oh, Lonesome Me
Don't Let It Bring You Down
When You Dance You Can Really Love
I Believe In You
Cripple Creek Ferry

Moondance: Van Morrison
And It Stoned Me
Crazy Love
Into The Mystic
Come Running
These Dreams Of You
Brand New Day
Glad Tidings

Blue: Joni Mitchell
All I Want
My Old Man
Little Green
This Flight Tonight
A Case Of You
The Last Time I Saw Richard

New Boots And Panties: Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Wake Up And Make Love With Me
Sweet Gene Vincent
I'm Partial To Your Abracadabra
My Old Man
Billericay Dickie
Clevor Trever
If I Was With A Woman
Plaistow Patricia
Blackmail Man
Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll [A-Side]
Razzle In My Pocket [B-Side]
You're More Than Fair [B-Side]
Englands Glory [B-Side - Live]
What A Waste [A-Side]

Electric Landlady: Kirsty MacColl

Walking Down Madison
All I Ever Wanted
Children Of The Revolution
My Affair
Lying Down
He Never Mentioned Love
We'll Never Pass This Way Again
The Hardest Word
Maybe It's Imaginary
My Way Home
The One And Only

Gorgeous George: Edwyn Collins
The Campaign For Real Rock
Girl Like You
Low Expectations
Out Of This World
If You Could Love Me
North Of Heaven
Gorgeous George
It's Right In Front Of You
Make Me Feel Again
I've Got It Bad

Wrecking Ball: Emmylou Harris
Where Will I Be
All My Tears
Wrecking Ball
Goin' Back To Harlan
Deeper Well
Every Grain Of Sand
Sweet Old World
May This Be Love
Orphan Girl
Waltz Across Texas Tonight

Garbage: Garbage
Only Happy When It Rains
As Heaven Is Wide
Not My Idea
A Stroke Of Luck
Stupid Girl
Dog New Tricks
My Lover's Box
Fix Me Now

De Stijl: The White Stripes
You're Pretty Good Looking (For A Girl)
Hello Operator
Little Bird
Apple Blossom
I'm Bound To Pack It Up
Death Letter
Sister, Do You Know My Name?
Truth Doesn't Make A Noise
A Boy's Best Friend
Let's Build A Home
Jumble, Jumble
Why Can't You Be Nicer To Me?
Your Southern Can Is Mine

Thursday, December 12, 2019

BBC makes 16,000 sound effects available

The Independent reports: [edited]

The BBC has made its sound effects archive available to the public for free for the first time.

The archive incorporates effects used by the corporation's radio output since the 1920s.

So you are in luck if you're in need of the sound of a South American parrot talking and screeching, the sound of the interior of a Belgian post office, or the sound of an inflating rubber dinghy. All this and more thanks to the BBC's easily searchable iteration of the archive.

There is one reservation on its usage: as per the RemArc licence, the sound effects can only be used for "personal, educational, or research purposes".

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Azatom Blackfriars DAB+ Portable Radio

This budget 13 x 9 x 18cm item, available from Amazon, ticks a lot of boxes. For £40 (£35 if refurbished units are available) you get a DAB+ tuner and a 1800mAh rechargeable battery. It also features a FM tuner, and a 3.5mm auxillary input. A USB charger and cable, 3.5mm audio cable and remote control are provided, along with a printed manual.

The sound quality is balanced and loud enough for an average size room. A small subwoofer helps to fill out the bottom-end, and the (surprisingly effective) equaliser settings allow you to tune the sound to your taste.

I initially purchased its more sophisticated 'brother', the Woodlands, which for the same price adds Bluetooth connectivity. Build and sound are identical, but the fascia controls are fiddly and confusing, changing the volume without the remote is almost impossible. And the LCD display is noticeably smaller.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

AI Speaker debates itself at Cambridge Union

Cambridge Independent reports: [edited]

On 21 November, the Cambridge Union Society hosted what turned out to be the most popular debate of term: This house believes artificial intelligence will bring more harm than good.

IBM Research’s Project Debater, the first artificial intelligence platform that can debate humans on complex topics, was the leading ‘speaker’ on both the proposition and opposition.

The night opened with a brief introduction from the principal investigator of Project Debater, Noam Slonim. He explained that the AI system uses a variety of techniques to anticipate the opposition’s choice of evidence: “The AI is not perfect but it’s going in the right direction."

Project Debater launched into its proposition speech in a soothingly monotonous voice. The audience was captivated by its ability to seamlessly weave together a series of arguments from the 511 responses submitted by members of the Union and others.

It was a little unnerving to hear that “AI will not be able to make morally correct decisions, which can lead to disasters. It can only make decisions that it has been programmed to solve, whereas humans can be programmed for all scenarios” from the Debater itself.

It also urged the floor to vote for the motion by raising issues of employment, disconnected societies, and abuse of control.

The AI then proceeded to argue against itself as the first ‘speaker’ of the opposition, claiming that “Artificial Intelligence is the technology of the future designed by humans”.

It continued to assert that AI can eliminate human errors in mundane and repetitive tasks, giving the example of autonomous vehicles.

Following this spectacle of self-sparring, Sharmila Parmanand, second proposition speaker and PhD candidate in Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge, spearheaded the human debate against artificial intelligence.She warned against labour displacement and entrenching biases, and raised the critical observation that the context in which AI is being developed – a world plagued by “already-existing power hierarchies” and an “inherently weak regulatory environment” – requires careful consideration.

By contrast, Sylvie Delacroix, professor in Law and Ethics at the University of Birmingham, highlighted that the rise of AI has led us to spiral into an unnecessary degree of paranoia. She compared this fear to people being scared of electricity or cars, which could and can still be used to kill people: “We should see AI as a special tool because of the sheer speed at which it is transforming us”.

She acknowledged that artificial intelligence might be at risk of being manipulated, but also emphasised that as long “as wide a variety of people can select this data,” it can be extremely “beneficial”.

Neil Lawrence, DeepMind professor of machine learning at the University of Cambridge, concluded the proposition debate with the foreboding thought that “over the next 10 years, we will be on a perilous journey that will undermine our very selves”.

He drew particular attention to the dangers of big data: the “new route to manipulating statistics as presented to us”. Lawrence reiterated the importance of precautionary measures: “We should believe that AI should do us harm, because it is the best way to prevent us from doing that harm”.

The debate ended with a final speech from Harish Natarajan, head of economic risk analysis at AKE International in London, who raised the perceptive point that any criticism towards bias in artificial intelligence is made redundant by the fact that “cognitive biases exist on all sides: there is plenty of bias in human interaction”.

He reassured the sceptics that the “benefits of the democratisation of AI will be huge” in a “world that needs multiple layers of improvement”.

And with that, the noes beat the ayes on this occasion.

Image: Tomi Baikie

Monday, November 25, 2019

Brain has huge capacity to rewire itself

Discover Magazine reports: [edited]

In severe cases of epilepsy, a patient’s seizures can become so incessant, and other treatments so ineffective, that doctors will remove half of the brain during childhood to stop them. It's a procedure known as a hemispherectomy. Yet these patients still have intact motor, language and thinking skills.

In a study published Tuesday in Cell Reports, scientists studied six of these patients to see how the human brain rewires itself to adapt after major surgery. After performing brain scans on the patients, the researchers found that the remaining hemisphere formed even stronger connections between different brain networks — regions that control things like walking, talking and memory — than in healthy control subjects.

And the researchers suggest that these connections enable the brain, essentially, to function as if it were still whole.

The six volunteers — who all had hemispherectomies as children — are now high-functioning adults with intact language skills, Kliemann says. Brain scans of the patients were compared to individuals with normal brains, in addition to a database of 1,500 typical brains from the Brain Genomics Superstructure Project.

The research team studied the parts of the brain that control specific functions, such as vision, movement, cognition and emotion. They found that the brain activity in hemispherectomy patients was strikingly similar to the participants who still had all of their brain matter.

Another finding came as more of a surprise. Many brain networks rely on both hemispheres, leading the researchers to predict that they would find weaker connections between different networks in the six patients. But the scans showed that the patients had even stronger connections, which means that different parts of the brain were communicating with each other more consistently. For example, there were more links between the motor and visual networks than in people with typical brains.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Solar Power Breakthrough

CNN Business reports: [edited]

Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius.

The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.

Heliogen uses computer vision software, automatic edge detection and other sophisticated technology to train a field of mirrors to reflect solar beams to one single spot. Heliogen said it is generating so much heat that its technology could eventually be used to create clean hydrogen at scale. That carbon-free hydrogen could then be turned into a fuel for trucks and airplanes.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

London - Wigan - London, 16 & 17-11-19

Bridge Over Troubled Water: Simon & Garfunkel
Baby Driver
Bridge Over Troubled Water
El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
Keep The Customer Satisfied
So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
The Boxer
The Only Living Boy In New York
Why Don't You Write Me
Bye Bye Love
Song For The Asking

Give 'Em Enough Rope: The Clash
Safe European Home
English Civil War
Tommy Gun
Julie's In The Drug Squad
Last Gang In Town
Guns On The Roof
Drug-Stabbing Time
Stay Free
All The Young Punks (New Boots And Contracts)

Get Happy!!: Elvis Costello And The Attractions
Love For Tender
The Imposter
Secondary Modern
King Horse
Men Called Uncle
Clowntime Is Over
New Amsterdam
High Fidelity
I Can't Stand Up (For Falling Down)
Black And White World
5ive Gears In Reverse
B Movie
Motel Matches
Human Touch
Beaten To The Punch
I Stand Accused
Riot Act

A Walk Across The Rooftops: Blue Nile
A Walk Across The Rooftops
Tinseltown In The Rain
From Rags To Riches
Easter Parade
Automobile Noise

Steve McQueen: Prefab Sprout
Faron Young
When Love Breaks Down
Goodbye Lucille #1
Moving The River
Horsin' Around
Desire As
Blueberry Pies
When The Angels

New York: Lou Reed
Romeo Had Juliette
Halloween Parade
Dirty Blvd
Endless Cycle
There is No Time
Last Great American Whale
Beginning of a Great Adventure
Busload of Faith
Sick of You
Hold On
Good Evening Mr. Waldheim
Xmas in February
Dime Store Mystery

Plumb: Jonatha Brooke & The Story
Nothing Sacred
Where Were You?
No Better
West Point
Made Of Gold
Is This All?
Full-Fledged Strangers
Andrew Duffy's Jig

Songs: Rich Mullins
Sing Your Praise To The Lord
Awesome God
Sometimes By Step
We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are
If I Stand
Screen Door
Let Mercy Lead
Calling Out Your Name
My One Thing
Boy Like Me / Man Like You
While The Nations Rage
Verge Of A Miracle
Hold Me Jesus

Monday, November 11, 2019

Pronghorn – Second-fastest animal in the world

The Generalist Academy reports: [edited]

The pronghorn, also known as the American antelope, is built for speed. It has shock-absorbing toes, hollow hair, thirteen 'gears' (gaits, i.e. leg movement patterns), and takes huge gulping breaths to fuel its push. The pronghorn is the Maserati of even-toed ungulates.

The cheetah can manage short bursts of up to 112 km per hour, but that doesn’t last more than a hundred metres before it has to slow down. Over longer distances its speed is more like 64 km per hour, and the pronghorn has that beat: it can go 88 km per hour for close to a kilometre, or 56 km per hour for 6 km.

Why does it need to be so fast? The cheetah has to be fast to catch its prey, but the pronghorn is a vegetarian, and there are no predators in North America that are anywhere near as speedy. One hypothesis is that there used to be predators fast enough to catch it – the extinct American Cheetah (Miracinonyx trumani) is a good candidate – so the pronghorn evolved to outrun them. And now that the American Cheetah is gone, they’re left to speed on their own.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Carrera Crossroad Electric Bicycle

Cycling Weekly reports: [edited]

Priced at £999.99 the Crossroad Electric is the first electric bike from a recognised brand to drop below the four figure mark.

The electrical assistance is delivered through a Suntour motor system situated in the rear wheel. The external, removable 312 W/h battery promises to provide enough power to provide a range of up to 40 miles on one charge. A larger 418 W/h capacity battery is available.

Power delivery is controlled by a crank-based torque sensor rather than the less-accurate cadence sensors specced on most ‘budget’ e-bikes.

The Carrera Crossroad Electric features a specifically designed aluminium frame and fork. It features dropped seatstays and mounting points for mudguards and rear rack.

The disc brakes are mechanical Tektro versions. The groupset is a mix of Shimano nine-speed Acera and Microshift. Tyres are 32c volume Kenda Kwik Trax.

The medium size bike weighs 19 kilograms. It is available in small, medium and large, to fit riders from 5’4″-6’2″.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

AI allows paralysed man to write with his mind

Science reports: [edited]

Some people who are paralyzed by stroke or neurological disease have trouble trying to communicate even a single sentence. Electrodes implanted in a part of the brain involved in motion have allowed some patients to move a cursor and select onscreen letters with their thoughts. Users have typed up to 39 characters per minute, but that’s still about three times slower than natural handwriting.

In new experiments, a volunteer paralysed from the neck down imagined moving his arm to write each letter of the alphabet. That brain activity helped train a computer model known as a neural network to interpret the commands, tracing the intended trajectory of his imagined pen tip to create letters.

Eventually, the computer could read out the volunteer’s imagined sentences with roughly 95% accuracy at a speed of about 66 characters per minute.

The researchers expect the speed to increase with more practice. As they refine the technology, they will also use their neural recordings to better understand how the brain plans and orchestrates fine motor movements.

Image: Frank Willett