one-eyed among the... one-eyed
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Pretty sure this bird just discovered that the Earth is a simulation


Don't let the Flat-Earthers find out that our world is just an unrendered level in a video game.

Image via NeedPix / Public Domain


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2 days ago
Brno, CZ
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Streamlabs is an easier, free all-in-one streaming app, now on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android

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Start with OBS, the now industry-standard streaming app, and add a bunch of special sauce to make it easier and friendlier. Now you’ve got Streamlabs – and it just added Mac support to its other platforms.

Mention live streaming any time in the past year or so, and someone no doubt told you to use OBS. Open Broadcaster Software, aka OBS Studio, is indeed free and powerful – not only for streaming but live recording, too. (It quietly displaced a lot of pricey and often incomplete commercial screencasting software, too.)

OBS has gotten a lot easier – a cash infusion from Twitch, Facebook, NVIDIA, and Logitech no doubt helped. But it’s still a bit intimidating as far as configuring settings for recording, to say nothing of the manual settings required to then make it upload to various streaming platforms.

That’s where Streamlabs comes in. It’s got its own desktop apps based on OBS, plus apps that let you easily stream from Android and iOS, too. So while you could do all of this on OBS desktop, Streamlabs makes it easier – basically, it’s a bit like having a custom distro of OBS. And then by adding mobile access, those platforms become easier, too.

Looks like OBS – but 100% less intimidating.

So in addition to all the things that make OBS powerful – using any video source or onscreen inputs, switching between them, handling resolutions and recording as well as connecting, you get:

  • Pre-configured streaming platforms and easy login (think YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, etc.)
  • Auto-optimized video settings
  • Custom alerts (so you can also beg for donations, add engagement)
  • Themes and widgets for customizing your stream
  • Built-in chat (normally requiring you to open another window in OBS, which gets surprisingly clumsy fast)
  • Easy recording
  • Cloud backups (so you don’t lose your recording)

Honestly, having played around with it a bit, maybe the best part of Streamlabs is that all the power of OBS is there, but easier to use. So it doesn’t feel like a dumbed-down version of OBS so much as a polished, beginner-friendly interface with all the same features – and some useful additions.

The easier-to-follow Sources dialog alone is probably worth the price of admission. And price of admission is free, anyway.

The mobile apps also feature a lot of nice integrations on these lines, too. Think similar cross-platform streaming support, importing OBS settings from desktop, and adding widgets for events, donations, and chat.

The spin here of OBS is open source, like its sibling. It’s based on Electron, so I hope that now that macOS was added, we’ll see Linux, too. Linux users should meanwhile note that OBS packaging has improved a lot across distros, and Ubuntu Studio for instance even bakes a pre-configured OBS right into the OS. I have no idea how much work would be required to do the same with Streamlabs. (PS, you can beta test 20.04 LTS right now and help them squash bugs before what I think will be a very essential global pandemic stay-at-home OS release!)

So, since this is free and open source, what’s the business model?

Basically, you can grab this for free and have a nicer version of OBS. Tips and donations to content makers go 100% to you – no cut for Streamlabs. (Good – and a major difference with a lot of horrible startups.)

Then for a monthly fee, you can add additional effects (US$4.99/month, “PRO”), or a bunch of custom widgets, custom domain and website, and other extras (Prime, $12/mo billed annually).

I hope they allow month-to-month billing, but regardless, it’s nice to see a business built on open source software and that still has sustainable business support. (CDM is possible because of just that idea – thank WordPress.)

I’m sure some people are groaning at me even sharing this information, given how many streams are out there right now. But”streaming” doesn’t necessarily mean to a wide audience – it’s useful in any case where you want to teleport yourself around the world (while under stay-at-home orders, for instance) even if it’s to a small group. Plus, even if you haven’t been struggling with this yourself, now you can tip off your friends so they don’t a) bug you for how to set up their stream and/or b) stream really low-quality material you have to then watch.

And I think just as with blogs, the question is not really quantity or openness, but quality – and whether there’s a model for supporting the people putting out that quality. More on this soon.

The post Streamlabs is an easier, free all-in-one streaming app, now on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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2 days ago
Brno, CZ
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What Steve Forte can do with a pack of cards borders on the unbelievable

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When watching a magician perform some card tricks, it's a legitimate question to ask: "Would you be able to cheat at a card game?" Most performers will smirk and wink, implying they could. Truth is: they probably can't. Sleight-of-hand with cards for conjuring and entertainment purposes is one thing; gambling techniques to cheat at cards is a whole other story. Sometimes these two domains overlap, in that liminal zone of the so called "gambling demonstrations." However, the gamblers' "real work" entails a very different skillset from that of a magician‚ÄĒwhile true gambling techniques are among the most fascinating and difficult to master.

The gambling expert

In the realm of gambling techniques with cards, one name immediately commands undivided admiration and respect. That name is Steve Forte. It's no hyperbole to say that what Forte can do with a pack of cards borders the unbelievable; his skillful handling is the closest thing to perfection in terms of technique. Here is a taste of his smooth and classy dexterity:

Steve Forte's career spans over 40 years within the gambling industry. After dealing all casino games and serving in all casino executive capacities, he shifted gears to a spectacularly successful career as a professional high-stakes Black Jack and Poker player; shifting gears again, he later became a top consultant in the casino security field. To dig deeper into Forte's adventurous and shapeshifting life, the go-to place is the enduring profile penned by R. Paul Wilson for the October 2005 issue of Genii Magazine.

Although Forte spent his whole professional career in the gambling world, in the early '90s he became widely known in the magic community after releasing his famous Gambling Protection Video Series. These tapes turned him into an almost mythical figure, someone with a uniquely vast repertoire of gambling moves, and the remarkable ability to execute these moves‚ÄĒall of them‚ÄĒflawlessly. These tapes still remain the gold standard for any serious gambling enthusiast.¬†

In 2009, the Academy of Magical Arts honored Steve Forte with a Special Fellowship Award, in recognition of his outstanding creative contribution.

Forte Years of Research

Steve Forte just released his magnum opus, Gambling Sleight of Hand - Forte Years of Research: the most ambitious compilation of gambling sleight-of-hand and cutting-edge card techniques published to date. Forte offers his encyclopedic research from the privileged perspective of someone who has been around card games for his entire life, gambled professionally, met all kinds of cheaters and hustlers, and been a lifelong fan of magic. Separating the wheat from the chaff with his elegant prose, Forte shares the "real work." This book it's about "the pursuit of technical excellence for magicians and sleight-of-hand hobbyists, a modern starting point for cardmen and cardwomen to continue an exploratory journey where dedicated research, practice, and passion will forge ahead and advance the art."

Gambling Sleight of Hand - Forte Years of Research is already a classic, a must have for collectors and anyone interested in gambling sleight-of-hand.

The man behind the expert

In any art and craft, there are experts, heroes, role models. Sometimes these people are friendly and accessible, other times they are plain abstractions or disappointing idealizations. In this weird domain of gambling techniques, Steve Forte unintentionally became a mentor to many‚ÄĒmyself included. What strikes everyone meeting Steve is his kindness, his modesty, his unbound generosity. Besides his exceptional expertise and mastery, worldwide fame and success, he remains a laid back and unassuming guy. What're the odds that one of the brightest minds in your field of interest, someone whom you'd dream to hang out with, is also one of the nicest human beings you could hope to meet? Steve Forte is a total mensch.

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5 days ago
Brno, CZ
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Bernie Sanders drops truths on the Senate floor about the Coronavirus Stimulus Package


It was initially reported that the $2 trillion Economic Aid package would include $1,200 per person making under $75,000 (less than a month's rent is many cities) and extend unemployment benefits by four months. But people like Sen. Rick Scott complained that a few lucky poor people might get a teeny bit more than they deserve. And the GOP can't have that. Oh no.

So Senator Sanders took to the floor and made a rousing speech about the GOP's constant and compulsive need to punish and humiliate the poor at all costs.

He's right. If a trillionaire suddenly decided to give $100,000 of their own money to every American, the GOP would stop them for fear that it might benefit one or two poor people who (they believe) is lazy and mooching and thus morally undeserving of the cash. Punishment takes priority over progress, every time. It's why an actual, functional Universal Basic Income package would never pass in this country ‚ÄĒ even if it¬†was fiscally responsible, and ultimately reduced the National Debt, the GOP simply couldn't sleep if there was one single poor person who used it as an opportunity to sit back and relax. Greed is a vice reserved for the rich.

The stimulus package passed unanimously in the Senate on Thursday morning. The House will vote on Friday.

Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC 2.0)

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10 days ago
Brno, CZ
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The Books We Can Use to Rebuild Civilization, Selected by Neal Stephenson, Brian Eno, Tim O’Reilly & More

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With so many of us across the world stuck at home, humanity's thoughts have turned to what we'll do when we can resume our normal lives. This time of quarantine, lockdown, and other forms of isolation urges us to reflect, but also to read ‚ÄĒ and in many cases to read the important books we'd neglected in our pre-coronavirus lives. Quite a few such volumes appear in the Long Now Foundation's "Manual for Civilization," which longtime Open Culture¬†readers will remember us featuring not long after it launched in 2014. Its name refers to a library, one that according to the Foundation's executive director Alexander Rose "will include the roughly 3500 books most essential to sustain or rebuild civilization."

"Using this as an curatorial principle," Rose adds, "is helping us assemble a very interesting collection of books." So too are their choices of people asked for recommendations of books to put on the Manual for Civilization's shelves.

Take, for instance, the history-focused list of books provided by Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and The Baroque Cycle author Neal Stephenson, a prolific writer in his own right:

  • Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volumes 1-6 by Edward Gibbon
  • The Odyssey by Homer translated by Robert Fagles
  • The Iliad by Homer translated by Robert Fagles
  • The Structures of Everyday Life: Civilization & Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, Volumes 1-3 by Fernand Braudel
  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
  • Newton‚Äôs Principia for the Common Reader by S. Chandrasekhar
  • Leviathan: Or the Matter, Forme, and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil by Thomas Hobbes
  • The American Practical Navigator: An Epitome of Navigation by Nathaniel Bowditch
  • Pax Britannica: A Three Volume Set (Heaven‚Äôs Command, Pax Britannica, and Farewell the Trumpets) by James Morris
  • Son Of The Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn by Evan S. Connell
  • The Siege at Peking by Peter Fleming
  • Marlborough, His Life & Times, Volumes 1-6 by Winston Churchill
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
  • Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by Richard Rhodes
  • The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Penrose

The Long Now Foundation didn't just approach Stephenson because they enjoy his novels: he was previously involved with the Foundation's "Clock of the Long Now" project, a mechanical clock engineered to keep time for 10,000 years and thus serve as a physical reminder of the necessity of long-term thinking. The process of coming up with ideas for the Clock provided Stephenson with inspiration for his novel Anathem, which deals with monastic communities of intellectuals dedicated to safeguarding knowledge against the collapse of society.

Music producer and visual artist Brian Eno's album January 07003 / Bell Studies for The Clock of The Long Now also came out of his own work on the Clock, and as a founding member of the Long Now Foundation he naturally also had a list of books (previously featured here on Open Culture) rich with historical, political, philosophical, sociological, architectural, literary, and aesthetic texts to contribute:

More recently, programmer and publisher Tim O'Reilly drew up an even more expansive list of books for addition to the Manual for Civilization. Owing to the wide and ever-growing array of technical books put out by the publisher that bears his name, you might guess that O'Reilly would mostly recommend volumes pertinent to rebuilding our digital world. In fact he offers a range of highly analog choices, thematically speaking, which he breaks down into four categories. First come the "religious/ philosophical works":

  • The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu translated by Witter Bynner
  • The Bhagavad Gita translated by Christopher Isherwood
  • The Analects of Confucius translated by Roger Ames and Henry Rosemont
  • The Trial and Death of Socrates by Plato (translated by GMA Grube, revised by John Cooper)
  • Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugene Herrigel
  • The New Testament
  • An Introduction to Realistic Philosophy by John Wild
  • The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
  • The Masks of God (4 volumes) by Joseph Campbell

Then the literature:

  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  • Chapman‚Äôs Homer: The Iliad and The Odyssey translated by George Chapman
  • Samuel Johnson: Poems and Selected Prose
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens
  • The Four Quartets by T.S.Eliot

Then books about "science, technology, and society":

  • A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
  • The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
  • Governing the Commons by Elinor Ostrom
  • The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman
  • The Feynman Lectures on Physics¬†by Richard Feynman

And finally, "stuff that would be useful if civilization declines":

  • The Foxfire Books edited by Eliot Wigginton (more info)
  • The Tracker: The True Story of Tom Brown Jr. by Tom Brown
  • Putting Food By by Ruth Hertzberg
  • Luther Burbank: His Methods and Discoveries and Their Practical Application by Luther Burbank
  • Plant and mushroom identification manuals for every major geography: Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide and Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America
  • Guide to Identifying Trees and Shrubs by Mark Zampardo

O'Reilly adds that "you also need engineering, including (bicycles, flight, bridges, and factories), spinning and weaving and the manufacturing technology thereof, metallurgy, materials science, math (including slide rule design and logarithmic tables), chemistry, biology, fundamentals of computer chips (and alternate ways of doing computing without the ability to do a full fab)."

At the Long Now Foundation's site you'll find more recommendations by such luminaries as¬†Whole Earth Catalog¬†founder Stewart Brand, Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly, and Brain Pickings curator Maria Popova. Whether your interests incline toward the technical, the historical, the philosophical, or toward practically anything else besides, the Manual for Civilization has more than a few books for you to digest. (Nearly 900 of them are available for free at the Internet Archive.) What's more, the coronavirus has granted an entirely plausible excuse to spend more of our days reading ‚ÄĒ and a fairly good reason to consider how we might run society differently in the future.

Related Content:

Brian Eno Lists 20 Books for Rebuilding Civilization & 59 Books For Building Your Intellectual World

Stewart Brand’s List of 76 Books for Rebuilding Civilization

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

The 10 Greatest Books Ever, According to 125 Top Authors (Download Them for Free)

Why You Should Read The Plague, the Albert Camus Novel the Coronavirus Has Made a Bestseller Again

Ray Bradbury Explains Why Literature is the Safety Valve of Civilization (in Which Case We Need More Literature!)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Books We Can Use to Rebuild Civilization, Selected by Neal Stephenson, Brian Eno, Tim O’Reilly & More is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooks, Free Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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16 days ago
Brno, CZ
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Italian hospital needed an $11K part for its ventilators, volunteers 3D printed them at $1 each, original manufacturer threatened to sue


TechDirt has shared this heartwarming little tale in the face of a global pandemic. A hospital in Bescia needed a special valve for a ventilator which costs US$11,000. Even at that jaw-dropping price, the manufacturer was still unable to supply the critical part (due to global demand). So, the hospital tracked down someone with 3D printing experience and asked him to try and 3D print the part. Then things got shitty.

...the original manufacturer ... refused to share the relevant 3D file with Fracassi to help him print the valve. It even went so far as to threaten him for patent infringement if he tried to do so on his own. Since lives were at stake, he went ahead anyway, creating the 3D file from scratch. According to the Metro article, he produced an initial batch of ten, and then 100 more, all for free. Fracassi admits that his 3D-printed versions might not be very durable or re-usable. But when it's possible to make replacements so cheaply -- each 3D-printed part costs just one euro, or roughly a dollar -- that isn't a problem. At least it wouldn't be, except for that threat of legal action, which is also why Fracassi doesn't dare share his 3D file with other hospitals, despite their desperate need for these valves.

As one commenter points out, there may be legit reasons why 3D printing a part may not be safe, not tested, and there may be a reason why the part was so expensive to begin with. Fair enough. But if I had to choose between no ventilator and certain death or a 3D printed part and possible complications from the jury-rig, please fire up that printer on my behalf!

[H/t Alberto Gait√°n]

Image: Public Domain

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18 days ago
Brno, CZ
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