Feb 24, 2017

Happy Friday

“The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.” ~ Martha Washington

I always keep a happy disposition, especially on a Happy Friday!

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is celebrated primarily in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. It is also known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. Ash Wednesday is March 1, 2017.

Pancake Day was originally a pagan celebration of the changing of seasons, a sort of recognition of the maddening battle this time of year between very cold and beginnings of Spring. Pancakes, in their roundness and warmth, symbolized the sun.

Incidentally, a Bristol-based design firm called Kinneir Dufort has come up with a
3-D printing machine that uses facial recognition technology to print your likeness on a pancake. The system utilizes both the high-tech and the low-tech to mirror your face, combining complex face-recognition and tracking software with the practice of layering strokes of pancake batter onto a hot plate to result in color gradation caused by the varied cooking times of different parts.

Snow White

One of the most famous fables, variations of Snow White appear in more than 400 versions of fairy tales around the world. The most well-known version is actually called “ Snowdrop” and comes from Grimms’ Children’s and Household Tales . It was later tweaked into a more familiar format by the folklorist Andrew Lang and eventually adapted by Walt Disney.

In this version, the queen wished for a child and a baby girl was born; her hair was as dark as ebony and her skin was so fair and pure that her mother named her Snow White. After the queen died, her father married a woman who was vain and wicked, who would stand in front of a magic mirror asking who was the fairest woman in the land. The mirror always replied “My Queen, you are the fairest one of all”, until one day an answer came that threw her into a rage – Snow White was now the fairest woman in all the land.

Snow White’s step-mother, furious at what the mirror had told her, ordered a huntsman to take her into the forest and kill her, taking the girl’s heart as a proof. The huntsman felt sympathy for Snow White and let her free, bringing the Evil Queen a deer’s heart instead. Snow White came upon a small cottage and, feeling exhausted, collapsed into one of the beds and fell into a deep sleep. When she awoke, seven dwarfs were looking down upon her. They told Snow White she could stay with them as long as she cleaned and cooked.

Snow White and the dwarfs lived in contentment, until one day when the magic mirror told the Queen that Snow White was alive and was still the fairest of them all. The Queen disguised herself as an old woman and presented Snow White with a poisoned apple. After taking a bite of the apple, Snow White fell unconscious. The dwarfs, assuming she was dead, built a glass coffin and placed her inside.

In the animated movie, the prince convinced the dwarfs to let him give her one last kiss - that became the most popular version. She awakened and the prince declared his love for her.  They were married, and as all fairy tales go, they lived happily ever after.

Other versions include, "Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree” - “Maria, the Wicked Stepmother, and the Seven Robbers” - ”Snow-White and Rose-Red“ and "The Young Slave."

Incidentally,  Disney announced a live-action feature retelling Snow White’s tale from her sister’s perspective, Rose Red.

Free Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City announced last week that 375,000 high resolution images of artworks in its collection are now under the Creative Commons Zero license. This means hundreds of thousands of artworks can now be accessed, downloaded, and used, without needing to ask for permission or being afraid of lawsuits.

Now you can download some real art, make it any size you like with your computer, go get a frame, and hang works from the masters on your wall for a fraction of the cost of an original. Some might like to use them for screen savers. You can search or peruse the collections here. LINK

Apple Museum

Speaking of art, there is an Apple Museum in Prague, Czech Republic. Not sure why this place was chosen, but seems like a full fledged museum dedicated to rare Apple devices and Steve Jobs' memorabilia, and rare Apple souvenirs from private collectors.

The memorabilia in the museum dates from 1976 to 2012. The artifacts on display include mostly every printer, joystick, mouse, and PC, as well as software representations. One exhibit includes
two long tables which showcase how the iPod and iPhone have evolved over time. The collections tell the story of Jobs along with the hardware.

Also included are high school yearbooks with Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the co-founder. Going beyond Apple, it includes Pixar and NeXT items which are representative Jobs time with those companies. Next time you are in Prague, might be an interesting side trip.

Zinc and Colds

It is one of the few ingredients linked to shortening a cold. Unlike Vitamin C, which studies have found likely does nothing to prevent or treat the common cold, zinc may actually be worth it. The mineral seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs that cause the common cold.

In a 2011 review of studies of people who recently became ill, researchers looked at those who started taking zinc and compared them with those who just took a placebo. The ones on the zinc had shorter colds and less severe symptoms.

Online Jury Duty

Many do not like jury duty, but did you know you can perform jury duty from the comfort of your own home and make money doing it?
Lawyers will post a case summary and verdict questions to the OnlineVerdict, with the option of having 25 or 50 jury-eligible people review the case facts and provide feedback on the case issues. Registered jurors in the venue the case was filed will receive an email invitation to review the case, and when completed, will receive payment for their time. Juror feedback is tabulated and presented to the lawyer or legal professional who posted the case.

Each case review may take anywhere from 20-60 minutes to complete depending on the length of the case summary and the number of attorney-provided questions. Juror payment amounts ($20-$60) reflect the amount of time estimated to review a case. The web site for more info is LINK

Robo Marimba

Here is something you do not see every day. It is a robot that plays music in relation to what human musicians are playing.

Shimon, engineer Guy Hoffman’s robot musician, does not play programmed music, it improvises in ensembles with human players, communicating with a expressive head and favoring musical ideas that are unlikely to be chosen by humans, so as to lead the performance in genuinely novel directions.

The robot combines computational modeling of music perception, interaction, and improvisation, with the capacity to produce melodic acoustic responses in physical and visual manners. Shimon has performed with human musicians in dozens of concerts and festivals from DLD in Munich Germany, the US Science Festival in Washington DC, the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle WA, and Google IO in San Francisco. Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology is Shimon’s patron.

Here is a three minute example of the pleasant outcome. LINK

Wordology, Roughshod

We see this word in the expression "to run/ride roughshod" over somebody or something, meaning to tyrannize or treat harshly.

It came about as a way to describe the 17th century version of snow tires. A "rough-shod" horse had its shoes attached with protruding nail heads in order to get a better grip on slippery roads. It was great for keeping the horse on its feet, but not so great for anyone the horse might step on.