Magnitude and Direction, Issue #26 | 8 Feb 2019


Sorry this edition of M&D is getting out a little later than usual, I was at CUNY for the first half of the day at the kickoff for a program geared towards commercializing your research (I-Corps, for you readers who know what that is).

To that end, if you have any contacts working in the surgical, physical therapy, or insurance spaces I'd like to talk with them and learn more about their fields and the problems they might currently deal with. No need to do anything crazy; an email introduction would be great, but even just pointing me towards a good person or institution to talk with would be greatly appreciated.

Hardware, Prototyping, and Fabrication

🔩 I had a really hard time figuring out how to explain this one, so I'll just quote what Spencer Wright wrote in The Prepared a few weeks back: "A clever little trick screw that binds when you turn it the wrong way."

💰 Ever wonder how exactly knock-off hardware products can be made so cheaply and still perform (more-or-less) as well as the original device? Hackaday breaks down one such case, comparing two bluetooth "tracker" fobs.

💡 From the Industrial Evolution newsletter: "Do you own a smart light bulb? Your SSID and encryption key are simply stored in plain-text on a smart bulb's WiFi module, regardless of the manufacturer of the bulb. When the bulb disconnects from the phone and reconnects to your home network with the new information; the passwords are stored locally. Be careful to wipe (or destroy) your bulbs before anyone can get their hands on them!"

🤖 This robot can probably beat you at Jenga, but it's got its sights set on delivering your packages.

Software and Programming

🔎 If there's been one recurring theme in Magnitude and Direction, it's the breakneck pace at which development of AI-driven deepfakes has progressed. As such, it's only fitting that I share this TED talk about videos of famous people saying things they've never actually said and how you can spot them when you eventually come across them on the internet (which you almost certainly will).

🎨 Year of Color is your own personal Instagram color trend analysis.

🕹 Hatetris is just like regular Tetris except you only get bad pieces to work with and you end up getting both annoyed at, and addicted to the game.

Science, Engineering, and Biomedicine

🥔🎶 Technically, this video of "Africa" by Toto being played on gourds and potatoes is beyond science, but I'll include it in this section anyway.

🌌 Why is the sky dark at night? Because history has a beginning.

🌏 A little over half a billion years ago, Earth's magnetic field almost broke down and your compass app not working properly would've been the least of your concerns.

📳 Last week saw some of the coldest temperatures in the US in a generation, and it wasn't just the people who were unhappy, lots of phones (and phone batteries) were performing less than optimally, too. Wired magazine explains why when temperatures start to plummet, battery charge does, too.

👩🏽‍💻 Taking the concept of "biohacking" to new levels, a group of researchers from the University of Washington were able to take over a computer with malware encoded into the DNA that was being sequenced by that computer.

Mapping, History, and Data Science

⚡ From longtime M&D reader Christina, here's an interactive breakdown from the New York Times that shows how each US state gets its electricity and how those sources have changed over the past two decades.

📜 Bored at work, or got 15 minutes to spare between meetings? Hop on over to the Library of Congress' crowdsourcing page and help transcribe historical documents into digital formats.

🍽 Remember that post from M&D #22, "Websites in 2018 be like..."? (If not, you can find it here in the archives). Well, one industry that has largely bucked the trend so far is restaurants, which are, in the words of Toph Tucker "the last bastions of personality on the web".

🚇 At this point, I don't think I really need to justify why I'm sharing this link of interactive data visualizations of NYC subway ridership.

🎨 From M&D reader Tobi, Watercolour Wold is "[a] vast, searchable database of pre-1900 watercolours documenting the four corners of the world before the invention of photography" that you can search by subject or location.

Events and Opportunities

Things are definitely starting to pick up again as everyone begins to maybe see the end of winter off in the distance...

  • Friday - Sunday, 2/8-2/10 Cornell's 6th Annual NYC Health Hackathon brings together students, developers, and life science professionals to hack away and solve a variety of healthcare problems.

  • Tuesday, 2/12 Leaders in NYC government as well as civic tech will gather together in Williamsburg for a discussion about ways effective and impactful innovations can be brought to public transportation.

  • Tuesday, 2/12 The next edition of the Cornell Tech @ Bloomberg speaker series features Shaun Stewart, the CEO of Brooklyn Navy Yard-based hardware tech incubator New Lab.

  • Tuesday, 2/12 Biotech networking group BioIDEA is having a happy hour mixer at Riverpark in the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences.

  • Wednesday, 2/13 The Fab Lab at NYDesigns is holding an open house for members of the NYC maker and hardware startup communities to mix, mingle, and check out the fabrication resources available at NYDesigns.

  • Wednesday, 2/13 The Futureworks Incubator, NYC's advanced manufacturing and hardware startup initiative, is having a public event on business models for hardware startups at their newly re-opened makerspace in the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Attendees will also be able to tour the workshop space, which is set to open in March.

  • Wednesday, 2/13 Just in time for Valentine's Day, NY Taste of Science will be holding their next in-pub lecture event on the birds and the bees, er... parasitic wasps.

Some other upcoming events to keep on your radar...

  • Monday, 2/25 The new NYC Entrepreneurs meetup group is having another go with their casual mixer (originally scheduled for 1/25) at the Empire Hotel rooftop.

  • Friday - Sunday, 3/8-3/10 The 2nd Annual Washington Heights Jazz Festival features musicians who live and work in Washington Heights and is happening at a bunch of venues between 181st and 187th streets.

  • Tuesday, 3/12 In high tech fields, it can be tough to put together a strong pitch deck without also giving away your secret sauce. To help provide some guidance about how to gain investment without losing your tech, JLABS, Mount Sinai, and Golden Seeds are coming together to host a session on how to craft a non-confidential pitch deck.

  • Monday, 3/18 The Mid Atlantic Bio Angels hold their first 1st Pitch event of 2019 at Columbia University.

  • Tuesday, 4/23 I don't have an event link for this yet, but mark your calendars now for the 4th Annual GRO Your Career life sciences conference at Columbia University (and yes, I am helping organize this event). A wide array of professionals from industries directly and indirectly related to the life sciences will be giving talks and participating in panel discussions, with lots of opportunities for networking.

Map of the Month

🚇 You'll need the whole month to properly take in this geographically accurate map of the entire NYC subway system, designed by transit mapping royalty Vanshnookenraggen.

Odds & Ends

🖍🔍🌎 Draw a line - any line - and get it matched to a swath of topography somewhere in the world.