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This campaign will fund the creation of unique voices for people who use speech synthesizers.

"Through years of research we observed that even those who have severe speech impairment produce distinctive sounds when they laugh, cry, and vocalize emotions and intentions. Their vocalizations contain the voice’s source -- its pitch, tone, rhythm, and loudness. What these individuals lack is the ability to manipulate their tongue, lips, and the shape of their mouth -- their vocal filter. The filter is essential to producing clearly articulated speech. So we developed technology to harness the source characteristics of recipients and supplement them with the vocal filters available to healthy talkers. The result is a blended voice that is as understandable as the donor while conveying the vocal identity of the recipient."
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 [personal profile] dialecticdreamer has an awesome post about the scale of things.  Yes, my mind is very good at that zoom trick.  Now add more outer rings extending to neighboring universes.  And so forth.  I got down to the bottom end of the scale and thought "Where are the Planck termites?"  I'm still trying to remember what-all those are.
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GEEKGASM!!!

Also, bonus points for what I think is only the third useful pop-up I've ever seen: "Click here to download the song."  
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
It's just that in this world, we don't usually think of them as superpowers, and don't usually use them for crimefighting. But here they are.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Usually it's the Christian holidays that get the epic displays of brilliance.  Today, I bring you a Jewish one, courtesy of my partner Doug.  As you can tell from the title, this is a tongue-in-cheek celebration, so if you prefer solemn ones, you should probably skip it.  If you believe that play and laughter are sacraments, click through.
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The key to success is working your assets, so if you have a disability, you need to focus on what you do WELL not what you do badly.  The same goes for helping people with disabilities.  Figure out what they are good at, and find ways to use that for success in school or work.  Here's an example of capitalizing on autistic children's skill with computers.  Frame it in a positive way and find constructive uses for it.  Autistic people often focus on a passion far beyond what most folks do.  They have tremendous potential; don't waste it.

The stuff people suck at?  Try to get good enough for minimum safe function, or else find ways to work around something that just can't be done.  Don't freak out over it, nobody is good at everything.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So I just found out that my favorite little mossbears are vacuum-proof.  Since we also have algae in space, that's looking real good for the panspermia theory, or even just polyspermia that travels from a handful of sources to nearby locations.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
It being after sunset, my partner Doug gave me my birthday present.  He actually managed to acquire a set of the solar system glasses from ThinkGeek, which were restocked and only lasted a couple days before selling right out again.  *GLEE*  So now I have a lovely set of personally-relevant glasses to use when we have company or for ritual purposes.  *Numfar does the Dance of Joy*
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I had fun looking at these because one of the things that distinguishes Terramagne is its very nice public transportation system.  (You get what you pay for.)   I was intrigued to see that several cities had a very clear imprint of the classic city designs that actually work well.  For example, you can see echoes of London's square-grid system, while Paris and Moscow have more of a spiderweb.  Chicago has a fan, which is basically part of a spiderweb with radials but no lateral connections. New York is just a mess, what's sometimes called a spaghetti map, and Tokyo is just as bad.  Helsinki, Calgary, and Glasgow have all opted for very simple routes that work for them because so many of their major points are in a convenient order.

In Terramagne, local lines do a very good job of meshing together the important places in each municipality -- things like museums and restaurants for tourists, housing and shopping or work for residents.  Most places, you can hop a bus every few minutes.  Use coins for occasional trips, but you can get a better deal on tokens or a MUCH better deal on a swipe card if you travel regularly.  In addition to the regular routes, many places also offer point-to-point shuttles at certain times.  Groundhog lives in the Skylark Apartment Building in Onion City, which has some great perks but one of the downsides is a lack of easy transit access.  On weekends the apartment's shuttle goes somewhere interesting like the beach or a museum.  Town-to-town routes are well-served by buses and trains.  High-speed trains connect places that are farther apart.  The metroplexes are defined based on the coverage of their mass-transit system.  New York in Eastbord had the first Fleer, which is a super-gizmotronic train; Westbord has one, and Onion City's is in construction.  The inventor has been actively trying to teach other people how to build the engines, but so far with no real luck.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
So GamerGate just shot videogames in the crotch

The academics are being stupid.  You do not ignore a part of history because you think it's pointless and some of the people involved are assholes.  You do not ignore it because it is "too new," it is easier to preserve then and your descendants will curse you for being so fucking slow and stupid as to let it fade away.  Ephemera are valuable precisely because  they usually get lost.  You would think more people would have learned this after thousands of years of history.  Apparently not.

But hey, this is what sexism gets: academic careers blocked, research and preservation not done, games therefore probably lost when they degrade because nobody knew how to save them.  Thanks, assholes, you just turned over the thirteenth card and blew up the universe, now everyone loses.

***FUME***

I am sulking at having to share a planet with these two groups of idiots.  The stupid, it burns like hydrogen.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an article speculating on potential harm from wearable devices.  Let's consider some possible issues ...


1) Does it emit radiation? If so, it's probably something you don't want next to your skin a lot.  Remember that the most common danger from radiation isn't a single big does, but the buildup over time, in which a lot of tiny doses definitely add up.  This could be greatly reduced by shielding. Companies probably won't bother unless consumers force  them to. But you can probably make your own.  Radiation from wearables isn't very strong so you don't need six feet of concrete to stop it.  Consider also that some wearables emit a lot more than others.  Don't choose a high-rad device if a low-rad one will do what you need.

2) Does it contain toxic materials? This is common, as things must be proven unsafe rather than proven safe. There are things which, again, you probably don't want to press on your skin all the time. This is easily solved by using a protective cover of something you're not allergic to and don't make go haywire.  Don't trust corporations to put your safety first; they are legally obligated (in America) to put their shareholders' profits first.  Don't trust government agencies either; they're interested in avoiding panic and making their donors happy.  You are not their priority either.  Look for reports by people who don't have a dog in the fight.  These are rare, but tend to be more reliable if you can find them.  Also if something is getting banned somewhere, it's probably not great for your body.

3) Does it interfere with your somatic motions, make your body part hurt, or cause some other physical problems? This is likely an ergonomic issue which may be affected by the size, shape, weight, etc. of the device. Later generations will probably improve. If you have this problem, try moving the device, carrying it in a pocket, etc. If all else fails, wait a year or two and test a newer model.

4) Does it mess with your social, sleep, or other life patterns? This tends to be a behavior issue, which is a combination of physical and nonphysical factors. Staring at a glowing screen at night can make you unsleepy (but not untired, alas). So can thinking about complex things  such as what someone's latest message means for your schedule tomorrow. If you have this type of problem, try modifying the times when you use your device. Staring at the gizmo on your wrist could cause your to walk into traffic and get hit by a car, or piss off your friend and get dumped. If you are having this type of problem, try changing the way in which you interact with your device and with people around you.

5) In any case, pay close attention to new technology before and after adopting it.  What are the financial, physical, social, and time costs?  What are you gaining by using this tool?  What are you losing?  I highly recommend the Amish rule: When deciding whether to adopt a new piece of technology, ask whether it does more good than harm.  If it does more good, adopt it.  If it does more harm, do not adopt it.  (You don't have the draw the line in the same place they do.  I don't, but I use the same rule.  Heck, even they argue over it.)  Really really think about this.  Don't grab something new just because it is new and everyone says it's cool.  Think about what it will do for you  and what you'll have to give up to get that.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
... has been found, well-preserved, and scientists are hopeful for DNA.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The fun of being an adult is that, every once in a while, you get to play with the really good  toys that let you do for real something you've been imagining for years.  In this case, see a bowling ball and feathers fall in vacuum.

I fucking love science.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Microbes in the soil have beneficial effects on people.  If you feel blue, try touching the dirt; sometimes it helps.  
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Indian food is delicious because it combines ingredients whose flavors have little or nothing in common, the opposite of Western methods.  Kudos to the folks who thought of doing science to analyze why it is so yummy.  The flavor pyramids are fascinating.  Also, has anyone else noticed the mushrooms are Pagan?

Okay, that works.  I am now trying to figure out if I can get my internal database to run backwards and match foods for minimum overlap instead of searching for little bits that hook into each other like when I put the Earl Grey into the white peach ice cream.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
AI specialists at the University of Maryland have created a robot that can learn by observing.  This one taught itself to cook by watching YouTube.

This is epic.  It's the "monkey see, monkey do" moment.  One of the most crucial steps in creating artificial life is the ability of self-learning instead of programming.  More importantly, learning by observation -- rather than being trained explicitly -- is a feature of higher lifeforms such as humans, cetaceans, and great apes.  It lays a foundation for the "aha!" moment of awakening to self.  A robot might go through the motions and then suddenly understand  what they mean.

Just remember, an AI is like a small child.  They learn what they see.  They mimic what you do, not what you say.  So treat them as you want to be treated.  Teach them well.  Then they'll do great things, instead of going insane and trying to destroy the world.  

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