We may have lost our beloved headphone jack, but it’s human nature to find an iota of hope in even the worst tragedies. Thanks to a host of different technological innovations and the beautiful creativity of the human brain, we can express those small, but mighty sentiments of hope using the power of memes. As it turns out, Apple’s complex system that allows you to charge your phone while plugging in your headphones is the perfect metaphor for the complex nature of human sexuality, love, and desire:
Make no bones about it, life is a struggle. From navigating the daily rat race, to raising a family, to trying to watch TV while enjoying a frosty brew from a giant mug. Every time you take a sip, the other side of the mug usually blocks your view, but not with the brilliantly engineered TV Beer Mug.
Taking advantage of cutting-edge physics and engineering breakthroughs that are rarely seen outside of aerospace applications, this remarkable $11 mug looks as if one side has been cleaved clean off—which is the secret to how it works. The other side of the mug that usually blocks the view of your TV is gone, leaving you with a clean line of sight every time you take a swig. Someone get the Nobel Prize for awesomeness warmed up, because we already have our next winner.
Costa Rica is having another winning streak in its
quest to phase out fossil fuels.
a report from Grupo ICE, the country’s utilities
conglomerate, Costa Rica has been running on 100% renewable
energy sources for over two months. The company reports that
the last time gas-powered electricity was used was June 16.
Of the entire year so far, the country has had 151 total
days in which all power has come from renewable
Of the energy the country used over the past two months,
80.27% was from hydroelectricity — which is possible
primarily because of the
country’s heavy rains and immense river systems. Beyond
that, 12.62% from geothermal energy, 7.10% from wind power, and
just .01% was from solar power.
Although these numbers are impressive, the country actually had a
better track record of sustainable energy in 2015, when 99% of its electricity was generated through
renewables. That year, the country’s energy came from 100%
renewable sources for an impressive 285 days. (Since 251
days have gone by this year, it’ll be impossible for Costa
Rica to beat that record in 2016).
That said, a vast majority of countries couldn’t dream of pulling
off a sustainability streak akin to Costa Rica’s anytime
soon — even the ones that have promised to go 100% renewable
within the next two decades. So although Costa Rica’s fossil
fuel usage may have risen this year, its overall record is quite
I know an omelette doesn’t technically have to have cheese to be an omelette, but I don’t know why you’d want to eat one without one (lactose intolerance excluded). “The more cheese, the better,” is my motto and, as such, I’m pretty obsessed with the “inside out parmelet” in the above video.
Basically, this delicacy from Food Wishes, is the slightly indecent love child of frico and eggs, with crispy, browned Parmesan all over the outside. Watch the video for detailed instructions, but basically you shred a bunch of parm and put it in a non-stick pan. Let that start to brown and, just when it starts to get golden, carefully pour beaten eggs over the top. Cover with a lid, and let cook until the eggs are just set. At this point, the video instructs you to go ahead and fold the parmelet in on itself, but I’d probably throw a different, contrasting cheese in there—maybe some jack cheese, or even American—for maximum cheesiness.
Apple removed the headphone jack on the newest iPhone, a decision that is already causing concern among users.
Apple’s reasoning, in one word? "Courage," Apple SVP Phil Schiller said on Wednesday, a line that has been widelymocked.
It turns out Apple has used the "courage" reasoning in the past. Specifically, former CEO Steve Jobs brought courage up when defending his decision that the iPhone wouldn’t run Adobe Flash, 9to5Mac points out.
"We’re trying to make great products for people, and we have at least the courage of our convictions to say we don’t think this is part of what makes a great product," Jobs said at a tech conference in 2010.
The "courage" line starts at 2:45 but the entire clip is worth watching.
"We’re going to take the heat, instead focus our energy on these technologies which we think are in their ascendancy and we think are going to be the right technologies for customers. And you know what? They’re paying us to make those choices," Jobs said.
"The way we’ve succeeded is by choosing what horses to ride very carefully, technically," Jobs said. "We have a history of doing that. As an example, we went from the 5-inch floppy disk to the 3.5-inch floppy disk on the Mac … We got rid of the floppy disk altogether in 1998 with the first iMac. We also got rid of these things called serial and parallel ports."
If Apple succeeds, Jobs said, people will buy iPhones. "If we don’t, they won’t," Jobs said.
We’ll see if customers like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus at Apple’s quarterly earnings. Apple advised on Thursday that it would not release first-weekend preorder sales numbers.
Regardless of whether you believe a product decision could ever be described as courageous, at least Apple is consistent. It is extremely likely that Schiller knew about this clip when he revealed Apple’s new jackless iPhone on Wednesday.
What do you get when you combine Roland and Serato? Well, a little bit of everything, it turns out. The flagship DJ-808 is a monster mixer controller sampler step sequencer audio interface drum machine vocoder. (Whew!) Some of its functionality is provided in the hardware itself; some is a control interface to Serato software on a computer. But together, you get a device that is perhaps the most ambitious all-in-one DJ gizmo yet.
Roland is slapping classic drum machine names and livery all over everything today it seems – even things that seem slightly unrelated, like a 909-themed battle mixer and a turntable.
But the DJ-808’s big selling point really is a drum machine – a cousin of the AIRA TR-8 – cross-bred with a DJ controller/mixer. Hardware and software features are intended to work together seamlessly, but it’s helpful to know which is which.
Disconnect the computer, and the DJ-808 still does a lot on its own (as in you can yank the actual USB cable out and it’ll keep making sound).
The internal drum machine is independent, for example. There’s a TR-S – derived from the AIRA TR-8 – built right into the hardware. That gives you all your 606, 707, 808, 909 kicks, snares, claps and hi-hats, modeled and sounding great the same way it does on the AIRA. It has the same Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) modeling inside, which is … uh, sorry, something I can’t talk about yet, but yes.
Also inheriting functionality from the AIRA line, you get a VT Voice Transformer. Plug in a mic, and add Pitch, Formant, Ducking, and Reverb.
Also, the mixer itself is a full-featured digital mixer, not just an interface to software. You get a 4-channel digital mixer with selectable inputs for 4x PC, 2x Phono/Line and 2x USB/Line.
While the controller portion is capable of controlling Serato’s own effects, there are also effects built into the hardware mixer, independent of the computer – Dub Echo, Jet, Noise, and Filter FX.
Also, in addition to all the I/O, you’ll find AIRA LINK USB ports. These are special USB host ports that allow you to both sync up and stream audio from other Roland gear. So, for instance, there’s no 303 / bassline on the DJ-808. In addition to connecting external gear via audio cable and MIDI DIN, you can connect compatible Roland gear directly via USB with just one cable, and get high-quality streaming and sync.
The DJ-808 doesn’t really make sense without Serato, but all of this standalone capability means it still can do double duty in a studio/home in place of other gear.
Serato control features
The DJ-808 would be a battleship-sized boondoggle were it not for Serato. And that makes this make sense as hardware in a way it might not have fairly recently. Serato software has made leaps and bounds in functionality like its sampler, pitch and time manipulation, effects, and cues and looping.
That changes the value proposition for this as a controller. Obviously, you can find lots of things with knobs and platters. The size, weight, and bulk of something like the DJ-808 means that you really have to want all the extras.
Serato’s growth in these areas is good reason to give the DJ-808 a chance. Whereas the similarly-oversized Traktor Kontrol S8 kind of needs you to want to use features like Remix Decks and Stems to take advantage of its default pad mappings, Serato’s sampler features and so on might more easily justify that added controller real estate.
So you get not just RGB pads, but velocity-sensitive ones you can genuinely play.
The same step-sequencer interface for the TR-S internal sounds also works as a step sequencer for Serato. So the 16 steps, 16 patterns can trigger TR-S sounds, or Serato’s sampler. The step sequencer also works with Serato effects.
Also – platters. So, even as NI has gone to touch strips, Serato and Roland stick to the more conventional platters (wheels). These ones are special, too: they feel really great, and you get what Serato terms “ultra high-performance” / “ultra low latency” platters. We’re told they’re the lowest latency of any devices presently on the market, on the order of a couple of milliseconds (or essentially not noticeable). That means the DJ-808 might even appeal to DJs for scratching.
There’s even visual feedback, as on a Pioneer CDJ.
Of course, if you really want turntablism, you’re going to want turntables, and the DJ-808 is equipped there, too. It’s ready for expansion as Serato DVS.
There are other interesting details to the integration. For instance, the DJ-808’s internal VT effects will match pitch to Serato key information – so you can rap/sing/T-Pain your way along and be in the same key as the track you’re playing.
There are dedicated Pitch ‘n Time controls too, with Key Sync ‘n Key Shi– uh, sorry Key Sync and Key Shift controls.
What there isn’t is any kind of screen. So browsing is still strictly on your computer screen.
And this is two deck control, not four. On the other hand, two should be enough given you’re adding things like a drum machine. If you don’t already have a Serato DJ and/or Pitch ‘n Time license, those are in the box, as well.
So who’s it for?
Okay, so it seems we’re back at this point again — somewhere we’ve been with certain Roland grooveboxes of yore and certainly other DJ products. The DJ-808 is something that asked what people wanted (a drum machine! a mixer! an audio interface! a sampler! a DVS! a controller!) — and then gave them, you know, all of it.
And that could have you feeling a bit like this is The Homer from the Simpsons:
But there’s still reason it could find a niche. Building the extra functionality around a drum machine and software sampler to me is easier than making a pitch for the cool but more-archaic STEMS and Remix Decks found in Native Instruments’ Traktor.
In a home or a studio, if you’re a hard-core Serato power user, this makes sense. Sit it in place once, hook up your turntables and other gear, and the DJ-808 becomes a nice production tool – effects and drum machine all ready to go.
Having cautioned that oversized DJ gear isn’t practical in many situations, the DJ-808 does work in any context where a DJ can request a table on a rider. And then the DJ-808’s all-in-one form factor becomes an advantage, not a hindrance — because there’s no gear to connect. That contrasts with Pioneer’s hope that you’ll tote along an extra sampler to the gig.
That said, this is all a niche – it’s hard to see a lot of gigging DJs take to something this particular and large. But there’s a lot of innovation in the DJ-808 in terms of low-latency performance and connectivity. And it shows the sort of collaboration on which Roland and Serato might embark. So don’t be surprised if some of the ideas here turn up in other products – this feels a bit like the concept car introducing the range. And still a likable concept car. Sorry, Homer.
No pricing or availability yet, but you can find the product and details on Serato’s site:
“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.”- Aristotle
Today, doctors are ready to prescribe pharmaceuticals at the first signs of a mood disorder in order to control any unpredictable behavior. But, are they potentially stifling genius thought processes? As it turns out, many mood disorders have been positively linked to higher levels of intelligence and creativity.
Since ancient times, people have associated “madness” with creative genius, believing the gods had blessed these individuals. These beliefs have carried on to the modern times, leading to the understanding of the infamous phenomenon of artistic temperament or the tortured artist characterization. Recently, researchers have discovered why this happens.
Writers and Mood Disorders
In the late 1980’s, researchers compared a sample group of writers to a control group of non-writers in order to identify the presence of mental disorders. Their findings concluded that the majority of writers did, indeed, have higher rates of mood disorders. In fact, 80% of the sample group had a mood disorder with a tendency toward bipolar disorder. The study was replicated with some different criterion and included a wider range of writers who had won awards. The researchers did not diagnose them, but rather asked if the subjects had received treatment for mental disorders. In this study, 38% of the participants had received treatment, and 63% of those were playwrights.
Types of Mood Disorders
As previously mentioned, the link between creative intelligence and mood disorders has long been established. But, what exactly are the common mood disorders found in intelligent people? Some of the most influential artists of all time were inflicted with bipolar disorder, mania, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
Bipolar disorder seems to be the most common of the mood disorders in highly intelligent and creative people. For example, in one study, it has been shown to be four times more likely in young adults who earned straight A’s in school. This finding was particularly true for high achievers in language, music, and math classes. Another study found that people with a genetic likelihood of developing bipolar disorder were also likely to express higher creative intelligence. This was shown to be true in literature and leadership roles. This mood disorder leads to periods of depression followed by periods of mania, characterized by extreme happiness, ambition, and creativity.
The Burden of High Intelligence
Not only does a high IQ come with the propensity for mood disorders, but also risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use. This is because drug and alcohol consumption is a relatively new occurrence on the human evolutionary timeline making it an evolutionarily novel concept. Children who were considered the brightest in their classroom are more likely to grow up and experiment with drugs and alcohol as several studies have suggested.
Brain Power, Social Interaction, and Autism
Medical researchers suggest that the human brain controls several different areas of survival. One of these, social interaction, takes up a large part of the brain’s functionality. This area of the brain helps with the development of cooperation, empathy, and altruism. When this brain function is non-existent or underdeveloped, a large quantity of cerebral activity is liberated for other uses.
In the right person, this extra brain power can be channeled into creative energy. These individuals may go on to create moving pieces of art, explanations of previously misunderstood world processes, or even refining mathematical research. Lacking the social interactive part of brain functionality and replacing it with creative intelligence may be related to diagnoses of autism.
Brain Activity and Creative Intelligence
Other researchers have explained that when a person comes out of depression or other mood disorder episodes, the activity in the brain changes. In the lower part of the frontal lobe, brain activity decreases and shifts to the upper part of the lobe. This same brain activity is noted when people are experiencing creativity. Additionally, people with mood disorders do not have the same processing filters for outside stimuli as people without these disorders. These people are able to process contradictory ideas at the same time thereby identifying associations among previously unassociated ideas. This thought process can be overwhelming for individuals, but this also results in creative productivity.
Whether it is the mood disorder that leads to higher intelligence or the higher intelligence that leads to mood disorders, continues to be a point of contention for many researchers. One thing is certain, the two are most certainly connected.