Interesting Finds: Issue #3

Mixed reality meets weather, Power Cords, Gene Editing and Niche Communities

Welcome to Issue #3 of Interesting Finds. This week we’re covering a smattering of topics from innovation at The Weather Channel to genetically modified mosquitoes.

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Let’s get on with Issue #3.

Weather + Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality is defined as

“…the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations, where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time” (wikipedia).

A few years ago, The Weather Channel made waves with their visualizations of weather disasters by employing “Mixed Reality” with their traditional reporting. It helps viewers understand the weather in more real terms. For example, unless you live in parts of the country where storm surges are common, you can’t understand the severity of a 3 foot storm surge.

The Weather Channel has 16 videos featuring mixed reality which you can checkout here.

CRISPR vs Squids

CRISPR is a revolutionary gene editing technology that made waves a few years ago when the research was published.

Live Science’s description:

CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. However, its promise also raises ethical concerns.

Since then we’ve seen promising results in cancer treatment, curing blood disorders and research around engineering animals to combat climate change.

Most recently, CRISPR was used by the Marine Biological Laboratory to make a live squid completely transparent by deleting a gene in a squid embryo.

Two jelly-like creatures with big eyes, one transparent, the other with small dark spots all over it.

This is some crazy stuff. Imagine what the next 10 years will bring?

The Ugliness of Power Cords

Extension Cord Safety: What to Do and What to Avoid - State Farm®

I’ve always wanted a large digital photo frame that I could wall mount to display a rotating set photos. The issue has always been either price, lack of a critical feature, or a fugly surface mounted power cable.

Power cables are like the hardware industry’s dirty little secret. They’re obviously necessary and critical, but manufacturer’s know that people hate them so they go out of their way to pretend they don’t exist.

For example, here’s the a marketing photo for the Netgear Meural digital photo frame and the noticeable lack of power cord. I’m sure that they’d explain it as it’s a custom install with the cord running through the furniture, but com’on 🤦‍♂️

Aside from the obviously poorly edited photo, this is what is promised for an Amazon Echo in your kitchen:

…but this is the reality:

Amazon Echo - Awesome Ways Alexa Can Make Your Life Easier - Healthy  Wealthy Skinny

The Amazon Echo Dot line of devices have created an entire ecosystem of aftermarket accessories designed to deal with the power cord mess by wall mounting them. Here’s an echo dot we’ve wall mounted in our bathroom:

And don’t think that Google is a jerk about this either. They are just slightly less of a jerk because they at least show a peek of the cable with their Google Max speaker marketing photos, but then conveniently are able to have it disappear out of sight 🤔

“There’s a Subreddit for Everything”

Is Reddit a Community? - Cyborgology

One of the keys to Reddits success is that it is dead simple for anyone to create a community for very specific topics of interest which are called “subreddits”. However, this is also the reason it’s been in the spotlight in due to a history of controversial subreddits. Here are 2:

There is even a Wikipedia page tracking a history of controversial subreddits.

On the flip side, Reddit is also the reason why niche interests are able to flourish and bring individuals around the world closer to together. There’s a reason you will commonly hear/read: “There’s a subreddit for everything”. 5 examples of relatively niche interests (note: these are all safe for work):

  • /r/KeanuBeingAwesome - Dedicated to photos and stories about how Keanu Reeves is the best human being on earth.

  • /r/TreesSuckingOnThings - Photos of trees growing and enveloping themsolves around other objects.

  • /r/3DPrintMyThing - Need something 3D printed? Post what you need and someone will contact you with a price to print and mail it to you. Personally I’ve used this 3 times in the last 2 months for weird esoteric things as I hack my coffee grinder (more on that in a future IF issue).

  • /r/GlitchInTheMatrix - While a reference to the movie starring Keanu Reeves, it has nothing to do with him. In their words: “Eye-witness event(s) that cannot be explained with critical thinking.”)

  • /r/PowerWashingPorn - Videos of people power washing dirty things. You know you love it.

Other Interesting Finds

  • 📺🙌 This Kickstarter campaign for the Flipper Zero has raised $4.5M on a $60k goal for a “Open source multi-tool device for researching and pentesting radio protocols, access control systems, hardware, and more”. The nerd in me is jumping for joy (and opened my wallet).

  • 🍎 ☠️A 194 year old Apple tree, believed to be the matriarch of the entire Northwest Apple industry, died this summer.

  • 💰🥧“Stock ownership increasingly concentrated among small share of population; top 10% of earners owned 87% of all U.S. stocks in 1Q 2020—up from 82.4% in 2009—while bottom 50% owns just a sliver” -Liz Ann Sonders

  • 💉 🦟Florida plans to “decimate” the mosquito population in the Florida keys by releasing 750 million genetically modified mosquitos.

  • 🧊🍲 Apparently you can skim oil very easily off hot soup with ice