Retrotechtacular: The Original Weather Channel

The Weather Channel has decided to pull the plug on its automated weather display, a favorite experience for weather geeks everywhere. However, it wasn’t the original weather nerd TV station.  Early cable TV networks had their own low-tech versions of this much longer ago than you might expect. For example, check out the video below which shows one of these weather stations back in 1975.

The audio was from a local FM station and you can enjoy handwritten public service announcements, as well.

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Render Yourself Invisible To AI With This Adversarial Sweater Of Doom

Ugly sweater season is rapidly approaching, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. We’ve always been a bit baffled by the tradition of paying top dollar for a loud, obnoxious sweater that gets worn to exactly one social event a year. We don’t judge, of course, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t look a little more favorably on someone’s fashion choice if it were more like this AI-defeating adversarial ugly sweater.

The idea behind this research from the University of Maryland is not, of course, to inform fashion trends, nor is it to create a practical invisibility cloak. It’s really to probe machine learning systems for vulnerabilities by making small changes to the input while watching for changes in the output. In this case, the ML system was a YOLO-based vision system which has little trouble finding humans in an arbitrary image. The adversarial pattern was generated by using a large set of training images, some of which contain the objects of interest — in this case, humans. Each time a human is detected, a random pattern is rendered over the image, and the data is reassessed to see how much the pattern lowers the object’s score. The adversarial pattern eventually improves to the point where it mostly prevents humans from being recognized. Much more detail is available in the research paper (PDF) if you want to dig into the guts of this.

The pattern, which looks a little like a bad impressionist painting of people buying pumpkins at a market and bears some resemblance to one we’ve seen before in similar work, is said to work better from different viewing angles. It also makes a spiffy pullover, especially if you’d rather blend in at that Christmas party.

Catch The Stick Game Is A Tidy Build

There are many different ways to test one’s reaction times; a simple way is to simply drop a ruler and see how far it falls before you can catch it. Take that same concept to a greater level, and you get this impressive “Catch The Stick” game.

The creation of one [Romain Labbe], the build has a wooden frame that holds up several sticks roughly seven feet off the ground. When the game is triggered, a beeper counts down, and then sticks start dropping. Each stick is held in place with a small solenoid-controlled latch, and the game simply energizes the solenoids in turn to drop the sticks randomly. On easier modes, the sticks are released gently, one at a time. On higher difficulty levels, they’re released in a near-continuous stream that would tax even a team of several players.

It’s not a complicated build, but it is very nicely executed. It certainly looks to be good fun to play with friends. Alternatively, you could try out this more distributed-style build. Video after the break.

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