Arduino Dali Clock, now with Neon 80s Cyber Styling

By marciot:

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Uber just attracts the best.

St. Louis Uber driver has put video of hundreds of passengers online. Most have no idea.

Passengers have included children, drunk college students and unwitting public figures [...] First names, and occasionally full names, are revealed. Homes are shown. Passengers have thrown up, kissed, talked trash about relatives and friends and complained about their bosses in Gargac's truck.

All the while, an unseen online audience watches, evaluating women's bodies, judging parents and mocking conversations. [...]

He had gone over 30 minutes without passengers and his stream was losing viewers. "This better be (expletive) content, I swear to God. This better be (expletive) content, that's all I'm saying," Gargac says as the two women approach. "I mean, the blond girl looks kind of cute, if they're together. The blonde is cute. The one who ordered is not." [...]

Several passengers told the Post-Dispatch that after learning about Gargac's stream, they complained to Uber. The company gave them a $5 credit, and a promise that they would not be paired with Gargac as a driver.

Lyft and Uber initially released prepared responses to questions from the Post-Dispatch about the livestream, simply noting the practice is legal because in Missouri only one party to a conversation needs to consent to a recording. [...]

Gargac graduated from a police academy last year and is looking to be hired by a department. The Missouri Department of Public Safety confirmed that Gargac is a licensed peace officer in the state. [...]

At the end of a 90-minute in-person interview with the Post-Dispatch, Gargac asked that his full name not be published in connection with this story.

The Post-Dispatch already knew his name. He said it in one of his own videos, and his identity was later confirmed through public records and social media accounts. He gave a reporter his business card.

"Stick with my first name, if you can, because privacy concerns," he said. "You know, the internet is a crazy place."

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PNG antics

Hey gang, I wonder if the people who wrote your web browser are actually capable of following the PNG spec!

  • Safari 11.1.2: No! (static)
  • Firefox 51.0.1: No! (broken image)
  • MacOS 10.13.6 Preview: No! (solid blue)
  • Chrome 67.0.3396.99: Yes!
  • Opera 49:0: Yes!
  • Xee³ 3.5.3: Yes!
  • Safari, iOS 11.4.1: Yes!
  • Photoshop CS6: Yes!

The image is a ludicrous 111972px wide, but it has to be, because it's the debugging output histogram of a program that strips hours of silence out of a 6+ hour MP3 file, showing where silence was detected and deleted. It is large because the data has a largeness.

Update, 2023: I am shocked to report that as of macOS 13.2, Safari 16.3 and both display this image correctly! Firefox 104 displays it as solid black.

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Cursed Image of the Week 24385

The core ghost characters
A Spectre is Haunting Unicode:

In 1978 Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry established the encoding that would later be known as JIS X 0208, which still serves as an important reference for all Japanese encodings. However, after the JIS standard was released people noticed something strange - several of the added characters had no obvious sources, and nobody could tell what they meant or how they should be pronounced. Nobody was sure where they came from. These are what came to be known as the ghost characters (幽霊文字).

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Playland Not-at-the-Beach is closing

Open every day through Sep 3:

It is with great sadness we announce after 10 years of fun and merriment, Playland-Not-at-the-Beach is closing. Unfortunately, like the original Playland at the Beach, we will be making room for housing. In this case it is apartments not condos. In another eerily similar repeat of history we are closing on Labor Day, as did our namesake park.

Come visit us for one last time before we close. Come say "goodbye" and experience a little bit of San Francisco history and enjoy the excitement at "Museum of Fun". Experience the 30+ pinball games, carnival skill games, dioramas celebrating Halloween and the Yuletide season, and miniature circuses, including the Marcks Family Miniature Circus one last time. The smiles you leave at Playland-Not-at-the- Beach will live on and be a lasting remembrance of our lost "Museum of Fun", Playland- Not-at-the-Beach.

I haven't been in a few years, but I can attest that this place is a marvel and you should go check it out before another glorious piece of history is chucked into the woodchipper of gentrification.

Oh, and also they're auctioning off everything, just in case you were thinking of getting me a Laffin' Sal for my birthday:

Michaan's Auctions has been commissioned to liquidate the contents of The Playland Not at the Beach Museum, a collection of circus nostalgia and prized memorabilia from 20th century American amusement parks such as San Francisco's beloved Playland at the Beach, for which the museum was named.

The 9,000 square foot space houses funhouse mirrors, pinball machines, penny arcades, circus sideshow attractions and vintage video games like Galaga and Centipede.Thousands of historical items are offered in this auction such as original signage, relics of vintage rides and games, rare photographs, employee uniforms, and prizes from the Playland arcade games.

A highlight is 'Circus World,' a 300,000-piece hand carved miniature circus that took the late Don Marcks of El Cerrito 50 years to create. Each of its tiny elephants is unique - a curled trunk here, a quizzical expression there - all forty of them! Originally founded in 2000, the museum officially opened its doors May 30, 2008. Its current home is slated for demolition to make way for new condos, which has compelled the sale of this rare collection by the museum's current owners.

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Amazon sells Bitcoins now!


Everyone I have handed one of these to has been disappointed to discover that they are not chocolate.

But would you really want that? Because, since it's Bitcoin, it would be the whitest of white chocolate.

And also mostly wax.

But if you and I agree that it's chocolate, then it is chocolate, and that's all that matters, right?

That's how this works, right?

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DNA Lounge: Wherein DNA Pizza is now only open in the evenings.

I am extremely sad to report that DNA Pizza's new hours will be:

    Sun - Thu: 4 PM to 3:30 AM
    Fri - Sat: 4 PM to 5 AM

We're losing way too much money on our morning and lunchtime shifts, so we have to scale back.

There has been a pizza restaurant next door to DNA Lounge since 1990 (except for one year in the middle). Those previous restaurants were typically only open at night; they depended almost 100% on business from DNA Lounge and Slim's customers, and would often just be closed on nights when neither club had a show. In the later years, Bowser's Pizza never opened the dining room at all, selling slices exclusively through the pass-through window.

When we took over the space and opened DNA Pizza in 2011, my thinking was, "We're paying rent on this space 24 hours a day. Let's find a way to make money in each of those hours, not just one third of them."

Well, seven years later and it's time to give up on that idea. The restaurant portion of our business, taken in isolation (to the degree that that's possible) is in the black during pretty much any time that the nightclub is open; and deep in the red most other times. We have so little business during the breakfast and lunch shifts that the food we sell doesn't even cover the salaries of the 2 or 3 people it takes to run the restaurant during those hours.

San Francisco doesn't have enough 24 hour restaurants, or post-10 PM food options, or lunch spots that also have a café-like atmosphere, where it feels like you're welcome to hang out with a laptop for hours. I thought we could do something to help with that. I assumed that the lack 24 hour places was because the city makes it such a pain in the ass to get the permits, but maybe it's really because the people who live here just don't actually want them.

I guess we have proven that there is demand for late-night food, though. Even mid-week, when the club isn't open, the restaurant is still doing ok after midnight. But breakfast and lunch, not so much.

We tried so many things to make this place function as a daytime café, to no avail. We tried to find a local coffee company or café or other opinionated coffee nerd to run our coffee business; zero interest. We tried rolling out a mobile coffee/pastries cart onto the sidewalk in the mornings to try and snag some foot traffic; waste of time. We've tried to convince various pop-up restaurant people to take over the place for weekend brunch, or for anything, really; zero interest. We tried to reach out to local businesses to get them to order in for meetings and whatnot; nope.

Back in February, we scaled back our morning business, closing the doors to the dining room and only selling out of the pass-through window until 10 AM. That let us run with a smaller morning staff, which helped a bit, but still not enough to put those hours in the black.

I used to think that a part of the problem was that this neighborhood has absolutely no foot traffic during the day. I told myself: the few office buildings nearby have their own underground parking and dedicated cafeterias, so nobody ever leaves them. But then the food-truck court down the street opened up to prove me wrong. Clearly that's not the reason.

Well, it's time to stop theorizing, and just cut our losses. Whatever the reason is that we have no morning or lunch business, we're seven years in to not knowing how to fix it. So let's focus on the part that is working -- putting pizza into drunks -- and spend that money that we had been just setting on fire on something else instead.

Not that there's anything particularly wrong with merely being the food component of the nightclub, but I thought and hoped that it could be more than that (and consequently be both more interesting, and make more money).

The thing that sucks most about this is that fewer hours means fewer shifts, which means that we're going to have to lay off a bunch of people. But I'm just not in a position to keep paying salaries for people to stand around while no customers are walking in the door.

In short, everything is terrible. Join our Patreon.


jwz mixtape 196

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 196.

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Current Music: as noted

Low bandwidth makes arty JPEGs

You don't often get to see it in action any more, bandwidth being what it is these days, but if you throttle things way down, you can see the stages of decoding a progressive JPEG happening. It's like overclocking your visual cortex.

First it loads a low resolution version of the image, then fills that in with progressively higher resolutions; and in each of those images, the YUV channels come in one at a time. Y is "luma", or brightness, which is a grayscale image; and then U and V are "chroma", which encode RGB using two numbers instead of three.

The "U" axis is sort-of yellow-cyan through red-blue; and the "V" axis is sort-of green-magenta. It's a strange encoding.

All of this came out of the development of color television, where for backward compatibility with black and white TVs back in like 1938, they had to leave the monochrome signal alone and find a way to tack the color information onto a subcarrier that older displays would ignore. NTSC and PAL are ridiculous kludges intended to avoid a flag-day where everyone would have needed to buy new TVs -- after all there were thousands of them deployed already! And we've been dealing with the fallout of that for nearly a century.

"NTSC" stands for "Never Twice the Same Color".

But at least it was a good-faith attempt to encode video, unlike HDMI, which is first a restraint and only secondarily a means of moving images from point A to B. A sensible design for video transport would have the design priority of "try really hard to get bits on the screen in the face of unreliable connections". But HDMI's prime directive is, "Under no circumstances display something unpermitted; all other considerations secondary; crew expendable."

But I digress. Here's a video.

(I considered rendering this out as an anim GIF, which would then have been auto-converted to an MP4 by my blog image resizer, but that would have been just too many layers for good taste.)

I grabbed an image taken in our photo booth on Saturday (chosen for its explicatory color palette, obviously) and slowed it way down. It starts with the Y (luminance) channel, then U (the yellow-ish channel) comes it at about 0:08, and V (the red-ish channel) comes in at about 0:10. The complete low-rez image is there by around 0:12, and then you see a verrrrry slow top-to-bottom pass of increasing resolution (you may have to squint to see it; watch the chunky aliasing on the black and white stripes on the dazzle pattern).

Oh, another detail here is that the original JPEG was compressed using a custom build of ImageMagick against MozJPEG, so your mileage may vary as to whether chroma is separated out in the same way.

When displaying the original bandwidth-throttled image, Firefox, Safari and Opera all display it pretty much as you see here, but oddly, Chrome does not: it displays the first frame, and then waits for the entire image to arrive before displaying anything else.

One of the things that we did in Netscape 1.0 (and I think we were the first to do it?) was to do this kind of progressive display with interlaced GIFs. When people were browsing the web on 14.4kbps modems, that mattered. In the early betas, we would display the scan lines as they came in, which gave it a Venetian blind kind of effect: first you'd see a single-pixel slices of the image come in, every 8 or 16 lines, and then more would fill in. By v1.0 (I think) we had changed that to interpolate the lines that hadn't arrived yet, so it looked more like "blocky, low resolution image gets less blurry with time". It looked a lot better. But since we were running this code on Pentiums, which had literally dozens of megahertz, managing to re-write the whole image several times a second was kind of a big deal.

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Scenes From Alexandria's Growing Magician Problem

Vexed Egyptian Antiquities Ministry Says Black Sarcophagus Not Full of 'Juice for Mummies'

Mal: Whatever was in there fed on the three warriors who held it down while the sarcophagus was sealed.
jwz: Original body of the cacodaemon we now know as "Internet".
Mal: Born from the Blind Idiot God, the Black Pharaoh, the Howler in the Dark, the Crawling Chaos, the Internet.

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