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Category: Learn


American Kingpin/Cost of electricity/Weighted blanket

Book I enjoyed
I zipped through Nick Bilton’s crime thriller about the rise and fall of Dread Pirate Roberts, founder of the Silk Road dark website, where anyone could buy drugs or weapons anonymously. It’s a real life Breaking Bad story of a likeable dreamer who invents his own idealistic libertarian world, but then with good intentions slowly succumbs to his absolute unregulated power; he hires hitmen to kill an employee he believes embezzled him. His artful take-down in a public library was a satisfying climax. American Kingpin is a fast book, economically told, with just the right amount of technical detail about the dark web, bitcoin, and anonymous servers. — KK

How much does it cost to keep your laptop on?
This post from Small Notebook shows you how to calculate the cost of running an electrical appliance. It turns out leaving a laptop running for a year costs over $200! — MF

Weighted blanket alternative
If you’ve ever had a panic attack or prone to anxiety, a weighted blanket can be helpful but pretty pricey. A free alternative if you’re ever in need is to take a shower with a towel wrapped around you. The towel will be made heavy by the water and the calming effect is that it feels like a warm hug. — CD

Pretty framing
Framebridge has the best looking selection of affordable frames that I have seen online. I ordered a digital print framed in gold bamboo, because I wanted to break up all the wooden frames we have hanging and it looks fantastic! The print quality was great and it was delivered within 7 days. — CD

Brush pens
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens come in a 2-pack for less than $5. They look like pens, but instead of a nib they have a brush, which allows you to draw lines of varying widths. They’re a lot of fun to use. — MF

Quotes I’m pondering
To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time. — Leonard Bernstein
No, no, you’re not thinking; you’re just being logical. — Niels Bohr
Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees. — Paul Valery
Life is full of obstacle illusions. — Grant Frazier
If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. — Reid Hoffman
Babies are such a nice way to start people. — Don Herold
— KK

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— Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder and Claudia Dawson



Designing A Robot You Want To Have A Beer With

Designing A Robot You Want To Have A Beer With

Would you have a beer and a chat with a robot? Changing global demographics and living patterns may soon provide a new role for AI – keeping us company. Living alone is now the fastest growing household type worldwide. If we are to develop a robot that we would want to spend time with and speak with, not just give orders to, we will need to better understand those profoundly human qualities of likeability before we can engineer them into our new AI companions at home.

Read More Designing A Robot You Want To Have A Beer With


Black and White

William Shinkman published this problem in the St. Louis Globe Democrat in 1887. White is to mate in 8 moves:

shinkman chess problem - 1

It’s easier than it sounds — with the right approach, all Black’s moves are forced:

1. O-O-O Kxa7 2. Rd8 Kxa6 3. Rd7 Kxa5 4. Rd6 Kxa4 5. Rd5 Kxa3 6. Rd4 Kxa2 7. Rd3 Ka1 8. Ra3#

shinkman chess problem - 2

Remarkably, though the problem position looks contrived, it’s reachable in a legal game (discovered by Bader Al-Hajiri):

1. g4 e5 2. Nh3 Ba3 3. bxa3 h5 4. Bb2 hxg4 5. Bc3 Rh4 6. Bd4 exd4 7. Nc3 dxc3 8. dxc3 g3 9. Qd3 Rb4 10. Nf4 g5 11. h4 f5 12. h5 d5 13. h6 Bd7 14. h7 g2 15. h8B g1R!! 16. Bd4 Ba4 17. Rh4 Rg3 18. Bg2 gxf4 19. Be3 fxe3 20. Be4 fxe4 21. fxe3 exd3 22. exd3 c5 23. Rc4 dxc4 24. dxc4 b5!! 25. cxb4 Qa5 26. cxb5 Na6 27. bxa5 O-O-O!! 28. bxa6 Rd4 29. exd4 Rb3 30. cxb3 Ne7 31. bxa4 Nd5 32. dxc5 Nb6 33. cxb6 Kb8 34. bxa7+ Ka8

(Thanks, Florian.)

from Futility Closet


Synthetic (computer) voices are getting so good. I’d rate Google’s WaveNet voice as identical to a real human voice. Coming to your device soon.


I don’t usually photograph my food but this was the most beautiful bento box I’ve ever eaten. Real wood, banana leaf liner, exquisite morsels, maple leaf! Delicious of course. Kudos to the artisans.