As someone who has watched the Netflix reboot through twice, I’m confident in saying it is a smashing success. I laughed. I cried. I wanted another eight episodes. The new Fab Five are so charming; it’s hard to stop watching.
They’ve retained the same format at the original: Five gay men make over a (usually) straight guy. They redesign his home, his clothing, his hairstyle, and his inner confidence. On top of loving their witty banter and heartfelt investment in each of their projects, the loft in Georgia that they use as home base is fun, fresh, and a look I definitely want to steal.
It’s unabashedly industrial. There’s a garage door that opens to the outside. It’s open concept – although we never see a bedroom area. It’s perfect for entertaining or watching your makeover prodigy complete his final test. It actually reminds me a bit of a retail catalog set, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Infuse your personality into it, and you can’t go wrong.
Bobby Berk gave one of their subjects (Neal, third from left) a similar vibe to the Fab Five loft
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)
The palette is neutral. Concrete, white subway tile, leather, glass and natural wood are the main players. I can feel you thinking, “I don’t have subway tile in my apartment.” Oh boy do I have a treat for you? Beautiful geniuses have created tile wallpaper. It sticks to your walls like paper, but look like tile. It’s a brilliant, inexpensive way to get the subway tile look. And the best part? Subway tile looks good in 98% of homes. It transcends styles and always looks fresh.
The Fab Five’s loft also has exposed brick that is painted white, so it almost blends in with the subway tile. If you have exposed brick, you’re a lucky duck and I bet your friends talk about you behind your back in jealousy. If you don’t, paint all of your walls white and call it a day. If you want to create some contrast, paint your window and door trims black.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)
Let’s chat furniture. They have a big white sectional in the loft. White sofas are not the most practical of pieces so if you’re nervous about that, go for a light grey or a black sofa. Black? Won’t that look big and clunky? Not if it’s a sleek, tailored silhouette. Pair it with a shapely leather chair. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an armchair, but make sure it’s super comfortable and perfect for curling up and cracking open a good book. If you can tuck your legs under you, it’s a winner. For tables, look at natural wood, glass, or metal. Rectangular shapes are going to look the most modern, but I wouldn’t kick a fabulous oval table out of my home either.
Top the whole look off with some pops of greenery, gallery frames, and fun modern lighting fixtures. Oh and don’t forget a bar cart. You can’t throw a great party without one!
If you’ve ever bought drugs at a music festival or inhaled a slice of pizza while absolutely hammered at 3 AM, you know the phrase “Money can’t buy happiness” is a total crock of shit. In the words of modern philosopher Kanye West: Having money isn’t everything, not having it is.
I like to think it’s going to be a while before society pulls a Brave New World and starts letting people pick up weekly rations of happiness, and as a result, most of us rely on money to bring joy into their life in various ways. If a recent study of millionaires is any indication, some people will never be satisfied with what they have in life, but according to some new research, there’s a quantifiable point you need to reach if you want to be truly satisfied in life.
According to Market Watch, a group of researchers at Purdue and the University of Virginia combed through the data of 1.7 million people in an attempt to find a correlation between income and quality of life. The findings echoed the results of the study above while also giving some hope to people who know they’ll probably never have to deal with all of the downsides that apparently come with having a shitload of money.
Globally, we find that satiation occurs at $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being. However, there is substantial variation across world regions, with satiation occurring later in wealthier regions. We also find that in certain parts of the world, incomes beyond satiation are associated with lower life evaluations. These findings on income and happiness have practical and theoretical significance at the individual, institutional and national levels.
I’d like to extend my deepest sympathies to all of the people beyond satiation with lower life evaluations.
While in Davos, Business Insider’s Sara Silverstein interviewed Adam Ludwin, co-founder and CEO of Chain, for a special edition of Crypto Insider. The following is a transcript of the interview.
Silverstein: So how does — but your blockchain, many blockchains exist without a cryptocurrency.
Silverstein: So how important is the connection between the two or do you envision a future of blockchain without cryptocurrency?
Ludwin: So I think there’s this false dichotomy that’s pretty popular at conferences like Davos where you hear — you hear many different languages at Davos. But when I don’t understand what someone is saying, I just assume they’re saying, "you know, I don’t like bitcoin, but the underlying blockchain technology…" I think I know how to say that in 20 languages now.
So yeah, I think it’s a false dichotomy. Like I said, they’re both useful and they’re actually on more of a continuum than people appreciate. So a lot of the work we do, for example, is linking private blockchain — where there is no cryptocurrency — into a public blockchain.
But to answer your question, you’re right our protocol does not have a cryptocurrency. And the reason for that is we don’t need one, because the cryptocurrency — or cryptoasset — its purpose is to provide an economic incentive to a decentralized operating group.
Silverstein: To keep it going?
Ludwin: To keep going and we don’t need that, because we already know who’s going to run the business. So yes, we could create a currency to cash in on the the hype, but we’re much more interested in building a real business. And so that’s why we’re focused on that. And that’s not to suggest that there’s anything wrong with creating new cryptocurrencies. Again, I think it’s just such a different context; it’s hard to compare them. And I think over time, especially this year, I think one of the big trends is they’ll converge more than people are expecting.
Silverstein: They’ll converge in what way?
Ludwin: They’ll converge in the following way — we have different payment networks and financial markets all around the world quite fragmented; there’s very little mesh or interoperability between networks. So right now, for example, if you’re in China, and you open up the Alipay app and you want to send money out of China, do you know what option you have? Do you know what it says in the app? It says Western Union. So, you know, I think that is going to change. I think the interoperability between say WhatsApp — if they ever have payments — and Alipay will be something that looks somewhat like a public blockchain. So I think that’s where we’re going to see real penetration and links between the existing financial institutions — some of which run blockchain architecture, some of which don’t — and public networks, which will, sort of, drive interoperability. And then in parallel, I think you’ll continue to see cryptoassets that are serving, you know, these alternative software models that for many people, don’t get them anything new, but for certain people in certain contexts, it’s really a good solution for them.
Silverstein: And why does the blockchain software — why does that always come with the word integrity?
Ludwin: Because the core innovation and in a blockchain — now a blockchain by the way is just a data model; it’s being used — to meet — to address a lot of different things in, you know, corporate marketing at an event like Davos. But the technical reality is blockchain’s just a data model. It’s a database innovation. And that innovation is applying cryptography to every transaction update in that database, so that anyone can independently verify whether there’s been a change to the database and can independently verify therefore, sort of, the state of say a balance in a checking account, or the current custodian of a security, or the current owner of a cryptocurrency. So it’s really in the context of an institution using a blockchain, it’s really about increasing the trust in them. But, as I think many people know, a blockchain can also be used without an institution — in other words a trust replacement in a more decentralized model. But in our view, a blockchain is as relevant as an accounting model as it is as a mechanism to create decentralization. It just depends on the design goal and the intention of the company or group that’s deploying the technology.
In the gut-wrenching days following a mass shooting, people often attempt to cope with the tragedy by sharing their feelings online.
After the deadly shooting this week in Parkland, Florida — as well as recent shootings in Orlando, Las Vegas, Nevada, and beyond — discouraged people have expressed their outrage, grief, and anti-gun beliefs on social media in an effort to have their voices heard. It’s understandable, a way to vent when we all feel so helpless. But, of course,Twitter outrage only goes so far.
While sharing words online has the potential to ignite important discussions, there’s so much more we can do — and, added plus, these offline efforts will have you feeling better than when you end up engaging with a Twitter troll.
Here are some ways to take action on gun control outside of social media.
Donate to established organizations
Gun control organizations around the world are working to regulate access to these weapons, and every donation helps. Here are a few great options:
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
With the goal of cutting the number of gun-related deaths in half by 2025, the Brady Campaign has campaigns focused on ensuring that background checks are applied to each and every gun sale, better regulating those who sell guns, and working to raise awareness at a national level about the dangers guns pose to the everyday lives of Americans. You can volunteer with one of the 94 chapters across the country or donate money to the campaign.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
The CSGV has devoted itself to developing gun control policies related to issues including domestic abuse, suicide, and mental illness since it was founded in 1974.
The organization utilizes data to draft and implement laws like the Gun Violence Restraining Order, which gives family members or law enforcement the ability to take firearms away from loved ones experiencing crisis. You can donate here and sign a variety of petitions to further support the organization’s efforts.
Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown encourages Americans to work together toward building safer communities. The collective movement focuses on bumping up background checks associated with firearm purchase, increasing laws around gun trafficking, supporting laws that work to keep guns away from people with a history of domestic abuse, and educating people on responsible gun ownership. To get involved, donate here.
Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence
Co-founded by gunshot survivor and former Arizona House Representative Gabrielle Giffords, this organization fights to reduce gun violence by working to pass related legislation, educating and empowering people on voting, and supporting candidates dedicating to addressing the nation’s gun laws. You can donate to support the efforts here.
Other notable organizations:
Offer your time and resources
If you’re looking for an alternative to donating money, contact your state representatives and members of Congress to show your support for gun control. Everytown makes it easy to find the contact information for your representative by filling out this form.
A darkly colored storm on Neptune that’s the diameter of the Atlantic Ocean is shrinking.
The Hubble Space Telescope first spotted the dying storm in 2015 and has kept an eye on it over the past few years. The most recent photos from the Hubble show that the storm is shrinking.
This isn’t totally unexpected. While storms like Jupiter’s Great Red Spot have been raging for centuries, Neptune’s storms tend to be more short-lived, NASA said.
Oh, also, the dark storm may smell like rotten eggs.
According to NASA, the storm is probably made of hydrogen sulfide, meaning that, yes, it probably has that distinct, gassy smell.
The storm’s “particles themselves are still highly reflective; they are just slightly darker than the particles in the surrounding atmosphere,” Joshua Tollefson from the University of California at Berkeley said in a statement.
Although scientists understand that the storm is shrinking, Neptune’s tempests still hold some mysteries.
First of all, researchers aren’t exactly sure how these storms form in the first place — though they do have some guesses.
“We have no evidence of how these vortices are formed or how fast they rotate,” Agustín Sánchez-Lavega from the University of the Basque Country, said in the statement. “It is most likely that they arise from an instability in the sheared eastward and westward winds.”
Also, the storm isn’t dying in the way the scientists expected.
Earlier simulations showing the deaths of these kinds of storms suggested that “anticyclones under Neptune’s wind shear would probably drift toward the equator,” Michael Wong of the University of California at Berkeley, said in the statement.
“We thought that once the vortex got too close to the equator, it would break up and perhaps create a spectacular outburst of cloud activity.”
That wasn’t the case. Instead, the storm seems like it’s just fading into nothing as it moves toward Neptune’s south pole and not the planet’s equator as expected, NASA said.
Storms like this one on Neptune were first spotted by the Voyager 2 spacecraft during its trip through the solar system. Today, the Hubble is the only spacecraft that can keep a good eye on the storms and their motions.
from Mashable! http://on.mash.to/2EtIyx2
The latest game from Monument Valley designer Ken Wong doesn’t have much in common with the brilliant pastel puzzler, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth experiencing. Florence, available now in the App Store, isn’t really a game so much as a graphic novel strewn with a few interactive moments, kind of like quicktime events but pleasant instead of annoying.
You’ll brush teeth, organize records, and populate conversation bubbles, and those events just lead to the next chapter of the story, like turning a page. Florence doesn’t offer whimsical puzzles, new worlds awash in color or angular, ambiguously benevolent crows, but it’s an entirely different category of app, so why would it? (Mild spoilers from here on out.)
Florence is bite-sized, lovely and not particularly profound. In the game, you’ll play as a young woman moving into adulthood. You mom will call and badger you about getting a boyfriend periodically, and lo, one day you literally run into one. These events all play out with swipes and touch-based interactions that make them feel more like an innocent adult storybook than anything as deep and interactive as the material the creator is known for.
Florence’s storytelling is quiet and reflective, capturing the arc of a relationship in all of its acts. You’ll go on some dates, fall in love, and move in together (that was fast), transitioning to the mundane routine of cohabitating before things start to grow stale. Since I was hoping that the game would offer more in the way of choosing my own adventure, it was disappointing when my in-game relationship with Krish suddenly fell apart when it still felt salvageable. The story marched on, but I really thought we had a shot if a branching path might lead us off to couple’s therapy or even an erotic third to spice things up. Maybe a puppy? Alas, there was no such path.
Ugh, mom and dad are fighting again.
It’s not clear that my character ever had sex with her Krish (the whole thing is very PG), so I worried about that too. Maybe if you guys had spent more time making out and less time reorganizing your shelves, this could have worked out! Krish also didn’t seem to foster the main character’s artistic inclinations while fixating on his own music career, so I couldn’t figure out if he was supposed to be a jerk or not. Men are confusing, but at least he was cute. I digress.
The moral of the story works out to something like “you don’t need another person to be happy, but you probably do need a cat.” Florence might be a nice suggestion for friends going through a breakup, a kind of thoughtful salve that reminds them that the hard parts won’t last forever and at the end you’ll be painting with watercolors in your cute studio with a cat named Loaf. Loaf!
The scope of Florence is so small that it’s truly not fair to compare it to Wong’s best known work, though as a Monument Valley fan, I too could play endless variations of that game for the rest of time and be happy about it. What Florence does share with Monument Valley are its best qualities: thoughtful design, beautiful art and a serene gaming experience. Florence isn’t a revelation, but it’s very lovely when judged on its own merits, just adjust your expectations accordingly.
Speaker, Clock, and a Constellation viewing device. Together they sound quite arbitrary, and if I told you they were all the same product, I’d get some weird looks for sure, but I assure you, they’re the most dreamy (and I use that adjective literally) combination ever. The Cosmos, now in its second iteration (there’s a video of version 1 above), combines clock and speaker, but that isn’t all. The clock face itself looks like a starry sky, with two of the largest stars telling you the time. The Cosmos pairs with an app that allows you to set the time as well as play music from the speakers. The square-shaped speaker/clock comes with two full range speakers and a passive woofer to deliver beautiful audio. The clock itself comprises two etched discs of clear acrylic (one with the hour, the other with the minute + constellation patterns) that light up around the edges thanks to an LED strip that sits around the clock’s periphery.
The speaker and clock both sit behind a fine speaker grill that adds an element of awe to the clock. Light shines through the holes in the grill, making the stars in the constellation actually twinkle and shimmer. The result, you’ll have to admit, looks stunning. The Cosmos can either be kept on a tabletop, thanks to the kickstand, or even be wall-mounted. Either way, you’ll be staring at the stars all day long, while hopefully listening to some nice atmospheric jazz!
We’ve been watching “Starman” cruise through space in his cosmic Tesla Roadster for a week now.
But on Valentine’s Day, Elon Musk’s shrewd payload from SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will disappear into deep space — and you can watch it happen live.
Streaming live via the Virtual Telescope Project, an Italy-based project dedicated to streaming real-time telescope footage online, you’ll be able to see Musk’s Tesla Roadster disappear from view.
In a live event scheduled for Feb. 14, beginning at 7:15 a.m. ET (4:15 a.m. PT, 12:15 a.m. UTC, 11:15 p.m. AEDT), robotic telescopes will capture the Roadster in its final visible stage.
It’ll be the last time we see Starman and his cosmic Roadster, carried into orbit by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which launched its maiden flight and landed two of its three main boosters back on Earth on Feb. 7 — we were there.
Where will he end up? SpaceX apparently originally planned for the Roadster to end up orbiting through the solar system, getting pretty close to Mars every so often — and we know Musk has big Mars plans.
According to Musk, it appears the Roadster will instead overshoot these estimates, and keep driving on until the asteroid belt. But Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, thinks Musk’s wrong. By his calculations, it will make it beyond Mars, but not to the asteroid belt.
Using the JPL ephemeris, the closest predicted approach to Mars between now and 2030 is 7 million km on 2020 Oct 8. This is still well outside Mars’ gravitational sphere of influence
Whatever your spin is on the SpaceX launch of the Falcon Heavy and the stunt of Starman and the Roadster, it put on our radar topics such as space and space missions, rockets, interplanetary travel or technological advances.
In my case, once footage of the car and Starman started to arrive and people wondered if it could be observed from Earth, there was just one thing in my mind: to find the answer to that question and if yes, to try take a picture – better yet, a video – of it.
I spent a big part of February 8 trying to find the Roadster’s ephemeris, that is, a list indicating the coordinates of the spacecraft over time. Luckily, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, which produces ephemerides for thousands of celestial objects, had just added the roadster to their list, designated 2018-017A.
I quickly generated the ephemeris for the Tesla and mapped them on TheSky6, the software application that I use to control my telescope. Not great news, as the Roadster appeared to be cruising through an area in the Hydra constellation that would put Starman barely 20 degrees above my horizon at most this time of the year, meaning that I would need to photograph it through a much denser layer of atmosphere, which affects these kind of observations. At least, the only times the Falcon Heavy would be high enough above the horizon were between 3 and 5:30am, while it’s still dark. The ephemeris from the JPL also indicated that the Roadster’s brightness would be at magnitude 17.5, and I knew that’s perfectly achievable.
I didn’t wait any longer. Without getting any sleep, at 2am (already February 9) I headed to a semi-dark site not far from home (I live in Sunnyvale, California) for which I have a night permit – Montebello OSP. I rarely ever come to this place to do astrophotography because its proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area causes it to have only mildly dark skies. Still, I was tired, it was late and I didn’t have the time or energy to start a 2+ hours drive for much darker skies. I knew 17.5 is a magnitude I could achieve from Montebello, and the quick 40 minutes drive from home sounded just about right.
Let me give you a brief description of my gear – also the one I use for most of my deep-sky images. I have a dual telescope system: two identical telescopes and cameras in parallel, shooting simultaneously at the very same area of the sky – same FOV, save a few pixels. The telescopes are Takahashi FSQ106EDX. Their aperture is 106mm (about 4″) and they give you a native 530mm focal length at f/5. The cameras are SBIG STL11k monochrome CCD cameras, one of the most legendary full-frame CCD cameras for astronomy (not the best one today, mind you, but still pretty decent). All this gear sits on aTakahashi EM-400 mount, the beast that will move it at hair-thin precision during the long exposures. I brought the temperature of the CCD sensors to -20C degrees (-4F) using the CCD’s internal cooling system.
Capturing the photons from the Roadster
Once I had my rig all ready to roll, I pointed my dual telescope setup to the area where the Roadster was supposed to be, and focused. I use electronic RoboFocus focusers that I control with the program FocusMax, so perfect focus is achieved automatically, no sweat. I then calibrated the autoguider, that is, a third smaller telescope whose sole purpose is to find a star in the FOV and keep tab of its movement at subpixel accuracy, and whenever it detects that the star moved, instruct the mount to move so as to always keep the star at the same place. Autoguiding provides a much better mount movement than tracking, which is leaving up to the mount to blindly “follow” the sky. By actually “following” a star, we can make sure there’ll be no trails whether our exposures are 2 or 30 minutes long.
It was time to take the first shot. The moon was already rising. At 30% it wasn’t too bright but it definitely washed out the already not-too-dark skies. Still, I knew a mag 17.5 object would be detectable, so that didn’t detract me.
Considering the Roadster’s trajectory over two hours wasn’t going to be any longer than 3-4 minutes (arc distance, not time), my FOV of 3.5 x 2.2 degrees was huge – even if the coordinates were a bit off I knew the little guy would be in it somewhere. I set my gear to take 2 minute exposures of Luminance with one scope, while the other would be capturing color data with R, G and B filters.
Come the first shot, I quickly go check it out while my rig keeps taking the next shots. All astronomical images are extremely dark, and some histogram adjustments are needed in order for us to see anything, so with the usual stretching tools I adjust the image to give me a good visual of the field.
Not just a doubtful thought ” maybe it’s there but I didn’t capture”, no. There was absolutely nothing there. I wait for the second shot to finish. Nothing. Third, fourth… Now I’m looking for differences between the shots, since the Roadster would be the only thing significantly different. Nothing.
Nothing in the path where the Roadster was supposed to be
I didn’t just call it a night. I’m in the field, it’s almost 4am, it’s cold and I’m tired, so I give myself the benefit of the doubt that I may just be missing it and that I’d be able to spot it at home with my large monitors and better tools, so I leave my rig continue taking shots, one every two minutes, plus about one minute gap to download the image from the CCD to my laptop (yes, it’s shamefully slow but still, these CCDs weren’t built for timelapses).
By 5:15am I felt it was enough. Twilight was coming soon, plus I wanted to avoid the rush hour traffic back home, so I packed and left.
After a few hours of sleep, I started playing with the data and no matter what I did, I could not find the Roadster. I kept checking the coordinates, nothing made sense. So I decided to try again. The only difference would be that this time the Moon would rise around 3:30am, so I could try star imaging at 2:30am and get one hour of Moon-free skies, maybe that would help.
So by 1:30 am (this is already February 10) I’m at the same place again. Set the gear, rinse and repeat, I started imaging sharp at 2:30am. Except that within half hour high clouds started to appear, and my hopes vanished. I stayed a bit longer, but by 4am things weren’t improving, I counted my losses, packed and headed home.
After a quick nap, I go back to all my shots but find nothing, still puzzled about the whole thing. Then it hit me!! When I created the ephemeris from the JPL’s website, I did not enter my coordinates!! I went with the default, whatever that might be! Since the Roadster is still fairly close to us, parallax is significant, meaning, different locations on Earth will see Starman at slightly different coordinates. I quickly recalculate, get the new coordinates, go to my images and thanks to the wide field captured by my telescopes… boom!! There it was!! Impossible to miss!! It had been right there all along, I just never noticed!
The rest was easy. First, I calibrated (apply flats and darks) and pre-processed all shots with PixInsight. This includes registering (aligning) all 32 shots, removing gradients, obtaining proper color balance, doing some moderate noise reduction and histogram adjustments. With that done, I then brought all shots into Photoshop for final adjustments, adding the text overlays and building the actual movie.
Astrophotography can be applied in many different ways. I utilize technology that allows me to capture ancient photons so that I can later process and create my own interpretation of the data captured, effectively blending art and science like not many other disciplines do, but I don’t usually track “small pixels in space” (aka comets, asteroids and yes, even spacecrafts) as some of my peers do. Yet, surely enough, comes the day when someone decides to launch a cool red car “driven” by a dummy in an astronaut costume, I had but to go for it! Yeah, red sports cars make even tiny pixels look cool!
About the Author
Rogelio Bernal Andreo (RBA) an award-winning astrophotographer. In 2008, he started exploring astrophotography and developed a personal style that led to international recognition. For more of his work, visit his website, like his Facebook page, and follow him on Instagram and Flickr. This article was also published here and shared with permission.