In the News 04.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 04.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 04.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 04.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Drake Is Too Big to Fail

Over the last decade a single man, preternaturally gifted at engaging people on the internet, has been building a digital empire based on Likes, shares, and clear violations of privacy. I’m speaking, of course, about the meme-generating, chart-skyjacking, zeitgeist-devouring media enterprise colloquially known as “Drake.”

Drake, née Aubrey Graham, was once a semi-famous child actor who could sort of rap and—get this—also sort of sing. He was not invented in a dorm room but he soundtracked countless nights in them. As Drake acquired listeners and sales, though, his reach extended far beyond indie sample flips and Cash Money posse cuts (what a time). He grew to dominate rap, R&B, and pop, using his popularity in one genre to capture market share in another. In the last two years he has leveraged his power to enter even more sectors, including grime, dancehall, and most recently bounce, via the preordained hit “Nice for What.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Ringer

Style Is an Algorithm


The camera is a small, white, curvilinear monolith on a pedestal. Inside its smooth casing are a microphone, a speaker, and an eye-like lens. After I set it up on a shelf, it tells me to look straight at it and to be sure to smile! The light blinks and then the camera flashes. A head-to-toe picture appears on my phone of a view I’m only used to seeing in large mirrors: me, standing awkwardly in my apartment, wearing a very average weekday outfit. The background is blurred like evidence from a crime scene. It is not a flattering image.

Amazon’s Echo Look, currently available by invitation only but also on eBay, allows you to take hands-free selfies and evaluate your fashion choices. “Now Alexa helps you look your best,” the product description promises. Stand in front of the camera, take photos of two different outfits with the Echo Look, and then select the best ones on your phone’s Echo Look app. Within about a minute, Alexa will tell you which set of clothes looks better, processed by style-analyzing algorithms and some assistance from humans. So I try to find my most stylish outfit, swapping out shirts and pants and then posing stiffly for the camera. I shout, “Alexa, judge me!” but apparently that’s unnecessary.

What I discover from the Style Check™ function is as follows: All-black is better than all-gray. Rolled-up sleeves are better than buttoned at the wrist. Blue jeans are best. Popping your collar is actually good. Each outfit in the comparison receives a percentage out of 100: black clothes score 73 percent against gray clothes at 27 percent, for example. But the explanations given for the scores are indecipherable. “The way you styled those pieces looks better,” the app tells me. “Sizing is better.” How did I style them? Should they be bigger or smaller?

Read the rest of this article at: Racked

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

What It’s Like to Live in America Without Broadband Internet

Ben Wilfong leaned toward his computer screen, fingers poised over the mouse and keyboard, ten-gallon hat above his brow. A long list of personal details appeared under the chosen lot: name, date of birth, sire: important things to know when bidding on expensive Black Angus beef cows. The actual cow that was up for auction could be seen in a video next to these stats: a kind of livestock glamour roll of the animal moving through a field. This is farming in the 21st century.

For Wilfong, however, the auction was little more than a mirage. The internet connection on his rural West Virginia farm was so agonizingly slow, there was no way to load the video in enough time to actually see the animal.

“By the time I’ve clicked to bid on cattle, the auction is over,” Wilfong told me recently. “Five seconds is an eternity in an auction. It’s cost me a lot of revenue.”

Read the rest of this article at: Motherboard

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The Teens Who Hacked Microsoft’s Videogame Empire—And Went Too Far

The trip to Delaware was only supposed to last a day. David Pokora, a bespectacled University of Toronto senior with scraggly blond hair down to his shoulders, needed to travel south to fetch a bumper that he’d bought for his souped-up Volks­wagen Golf R.

The American seller had balked at shipping to Canada, so Pokora arranged to have the part sent to a buddy, Justin May, who lived in Wilmington. The young men, both ardent gamers, shared a fascination with the inner workings of the Xbox; though they’d been chatting and collaborating for years, they’d never met in person. Pokora planned to make the eight-hour drive on a Friday, grab a leisurely dinner with May, then haul the metallic-blue bumper back home to Mississauga, Ontario, that night or early the next morning. His father offered to tag along so they could take turns behind the wheel of the family’s Jetta.

An hour into their journey on March 28, 2014, the Pokoras crossed the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge and hit the border checkpoint on the eastern side of the Niagara Gorge. An American customs agent gently quizzed them about their itinerary as he scanned their passports in his booth. He seemed ready to wave the Jetta through when something on his monitor caught his eye.

“What’s … Xenon?” the agent asked, stumbling over the pronunciation of the word.

David, who was in the passenger seat, was startled by the question. Xenon was one of his online aliases, a pseudonym he often used—along with Xenomega and DeToX—when playing Halo or discussing his Xbox hacking projects with fellow programmers. Why would that nickname, familiar to only a handful of gaming fanatics, pop up when his passport was checked?

Pokora’s puzzlement lasted a few moments before he remembered that he’d named his one-man corporation Xenon Development Studios; the business processed payments for the Xbox service he operated that gave monthly subscribers the ability to unlock achievements or skip levels in more than 100 different games. He mentioned the company to the customs agent, making sure to emphasize that it was legally registered. The agent instructed the Pokoras to sit tight for just a minute longer.

As he and his father waited for permission to enter western New York, David detected a flutter of motion behind the idling Jetta. He glanced back and saw two men in dark uniforms approaching the car, one on either side. “Something’s wrong,” his father said, an instant before a figure appeared outside the passenger-­side window. As a voice barked at him to step out of the vehicle, Pokora realized he’d walked into a trap.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

‘There Is No Such Thing As Past Or Future’: Physicist Carlo Rovelli On Changing How We Think About Time


What do we know about time? Language tells us that it “passes”, it moves like a great river, inexorably dragging us with it, and, in the end, washes us up on its shore while it continues, unstoppable. Time flows. It moves ever forwards. Or does it? Poets also tell us that time stumbles or creeps or slows or even, at times, seems to stop. They tell us that the past might be inescapable, immanent in objects or people or landscapes. When Juliet is waiting for Romeo, time passes sluggishly: she longs for Phaethon to take the reins of the Sun’s chariot, since he would whip up the horses and “bring in cloudy night immediately”. When we wake from a vivid dream we are dimly aware that the sense of time we have just experienced is illusory.

Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist who wants to make the uninitiated grasp the excitement of his field. His book Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, with its concise, sparkling essays on subjects such as black holes and quanta, has sold 1.3m copies worldwide. Now comes The Order of Time, a dizzying, poetic work in which I found myself abandoning everything I thought I knew about time – certainly the idea that it “flows”, and even that it exists at all, in any profound sense.

We meet outside the church of San Petronio in Bologna, where Rovelli studied. (“I like to say that, just like Copernicus, I was an undergraduate at Bologna and a graduate at Padua,” he jokes.) A cheery, compact fellow in his early 60s, Rovelli is in nostalgic mood. He lives in Marseille, where, since 2010, he has run the quantum gravity group at the Centre de physique théorique. Before that, he was in the US, at the University of Pittsburgh, for a decade.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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