10 Emotional Chord Progressions Every Producer Should Know

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Music plays a lot of different roles in our lives.

But at the end of the day music is about emotion. The best way to connect with your listeners on a human level is through honest, emotionally rich work.

Conveying the right emotions when you write songs isn’t easy. But some chord progressions can evoke powerful feelings right away.

Today we’re sharing five distinct moods you can create in your songs using emotional chord progressions.

To get the most out of this article, you’ll need to have some basic theory knowledge like how to build chords and Roman Numeral Analysis. Take a second to brush up if you need a refresher.

Epic chord progressions

From the hero’s journey to music that reflects the power of nature, epic chord progressions turn your songs’ emotional intensity up to eleven.

Our first progression is the active ingredient in a huge number of hit tracks—for a good reason. Each chord adds a new layer to its satisfying emotional arc:

This progression can be heard across many musical genres, from John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Roads to The Cure’s A Letter To Elise:

But epicness can occur wherever there’s heightened emotion. Once progression that never fails to tug at the heartstrings is the unique cycle of chords found in Pachelbel’s canon:

Pop artists from Vitamin C to Oasis and Belle & Sebastien have brought this stately yet epic emotional chord progression into modern music:

Sad chord progressions

Sadness is an unavoidable part of life. But it’s also the basis for lots of great music.

What sounds sad changes from person to person, but there’s a few emotional chord progressions that signal sadness right away.

Some chord progressions have strong associations with a specific era.

Some chord progressions have strong associations with a specific era. This one is sometimes called the “50s progression:”

50s progression

It’s especially common in doo-wop music and classic love songs from the era of pop crooners:

Try the 50s progression if you want to evoke some classy sadness and nostalgia.

Here’s another one that’s sure to give you the blues:

Don’t let the inverted chords in this progression fool you—it’s based on a simple descending bassline.

Minor chords and downward motion combine with a slow tempo to create an atmosphere of loss and despair:

A variation of this descending minor progression can be heard on Led Zeppelin’s rendition of Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You

Cool chord progressions

Coolness is impossible to define. If you could it wouldn’t be cool anymore!

Luckily, there are some chord progressions that can bring a sense of coolness to your tracks.

From slowed down jams to meditative tracks, many “cool” chord progressions are inspired by complex jazz harmonies.

From slowed down jams to meditative tracks, many “cool” chord progressions are inspired by complex jazz harmonies.

Here’s an example:

This chord progression appears in Chris Isaak’s windswept country torch song Wicked Game.

The major IV chord is borrowed from the parallel major, providing an unexpected yet stable resting place for the moody harmonic sequence:

This next one has been a staple chord progression in pop music over the past two decades.

By turning the V chord into a minor, it subtly surprises listeners to create an interesting mood:

Coldplay uses this progression in multiple songs, including Clocks:

Weird chord progressions

Every once in a while, it helps to build a song on a weird chord progression.

Borrowing chords from other keys is a great way to play on your listener’s expectations and put them in a weird place.

Borrowing chords from other keys is a great way to play on your listener’s expectations and put them in a weird place.

This progression uses an unexpected major chord to add some nice tension. It’s  The Arcade Fire uses this progression for their song The Suburbs:

Happy chord progressions

Happy means something different to all of us. But in musical terms, predictable progressions with major chords reflect contentment and happiness.

There’s nothing more straightforward than a simple progression based on I, IV and V:

But simple progressions like this feel amazing when used well:

To make things more exciting you can try a progression with a little more tension like this:

In this example II7 acts as a predominant chord for a gospel style cadence.

This extra tension produces an expectant sound that can feel like giddy excitement that builds as the progression develops.

Another progression that can sound unexpectedly happy is the 12-bar blues.

I know what you’re thinking. Why is a blues progression doing here in the happy chord progression session?

This progression was born from the blues and is now featured in countless songs from many genres.

Instead of “happy” or “sad,” this progression is a blank musical slate that’s easy to create with.

12 bar blues progression

The verse sections of The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” are great examples of the 12 Bar Blues progression in action:

Emotional intelligence

These emotional chord progression examples are a great start, but you’ll need to present them in a compelling way if you want to connect with listeners.

Instrumentation, production, and storytelling go a long way in music.

There’s no perfect formula for making emotionally impactful music, so you’ll need to experiment to see what works for you!

The post 10 Emotional Chord Progressions Every Producer Should Know appeared first on LANDR Blog.

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The 8 Best Arduino Starter Kits For Beginners 2019

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Arduino is the largest open-source hardware platform in the world that provides unlimited possibilities that can be achieved using microcontroller-based products. Therefore, Arduino starter kit is a perfect way to dive into electronics and programming as you get all the essential components in a single package which is required to start working with Arduino.

In fact, there are so many Arduino starter kits available online, each offering a variety of components, and the only thing you need to do is to choose one that will suit your needs the most.

These Arduino Kits are good for students, as well as for people who have very little or no experience in electronics and programming, but are willing to learn more.

We have given all the information needed to help you decide which Arduino starter kit is the best for you, from price, items included, some pros and cons of the kits. Still we can not choose one as the best Arduino starter kit as each kit is unique in its own way.

Arduino Mega Board

How to make the right choice?

However, there are 3 important things you need to be aware of to be able to choose the best kit for you:

  • First, make sure that the microcontroller board is compatible with the UNO R3;
  • Second, you need to know that there are so many different kits made for different purposes. So, if you already know what types of projects you’re planning to do, you need to check the electronic components and parts included in the kit you’re interested in. Also, it is important to check the number of components and parts, so that you’ll be able to do all the projects on your wish list;
  • Third, if you’re an absolute beginner, and you are not sure how everything works and how to program the Arduino board, you need to check if the starter kit has a guidebook to help you in the learning process.

So, here is a list of the 8 best Arduino starter kits that are perfect for beginners that you can find on Amazon and Banggood.

Please note: There are affiliate links in this post. This means that at no cost to you, I may make a small commission if you purchase through these links. I would appreciate your support in this way!


1. The Official Arduino Starter Kit

1. The Official Arduino Starter KitGet it on Amazon

The first kit on the list is the Official Arduino Starter Kit. It has more than 750 customer’s reviews, which makes the users trust the item and buy without hesitation. This kit includes a lot of components and a 170-page Project Book which contains 15 different projects you can make using the components with step-by-step tutorials.

The projects book that is provided along with this kit covers some basic theory on electronics, and gives you an insight on the basics of programming, by explaining the codes of all the projects in the simplest way possible. This is pretty cool if you’re an absolute beginner, because you’ll be able to learn how to do amazing projects with the components provided.

Another great thing about this kit is that the projects book is available in other languages besides English, like German, Italian, French, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.

The Official Arduino Starter Kit contains the following components:

  • Arduino Projects Book
  • Arduino UNO R3
  • USB cable
  • Breadboard 400 Pins
  • Easy-to-assemble wooden base
  • 9V battery snap
Show All Components

  • Solid core jumper wires (70)
  • Stranded jumper wire
  • Phototransistors (6)
  • 10KΩ Potentiometers (6)
  • Push buttons (10)
  • Temperature sensor TMP36
  • Tilt sensor
  • Alphanumeric LCD (16 × 2-character display)
  • LEDs (1 x Bright White, 1 x RGB, 8 x Red, 8 x Green, 8 x Yellow and 3 x Blue)
  • Small DC motor (6-9V)
  • Small servo motor
  • Piezo capsule
  • H-bridge motor driver L293D
  • Optocouplers 4N35 (2)
  • MOSFET Transistors IRF520 (2)
  • Capacitors (5 x 100nF, 3 x 100µF, 5 x 100pF)
  • Diodes 1N4007 (5)
  • Transparent gels (red, green, blue)
  • 40 pin male header strip
  • Resistors (20 x 220Ω, 5 x 560Ω, 5 x 1KΩ, 5 x 4.7Ω, 10 x 10KΩ, 5 x 1MΩ, 5 x 10MΩ)

All the components are neatly packed in a box along with the 170-page book.

There are so many reasons for listing this kit in the top, such as: the high-quality components, the great performance of the kit as it features 2KB RAM for storing the information, and the well written book which is very easy to follow.

The downsides of the product are that it’s a bit expensive compared to the other kits on this list and it doesn’t come with the programming software. Still, you can download it for free from the official Arduino website with full instructions on how to install it.

So, if you have a bigger budget and want to get one of the easiest to use kits on the marker, this one’s for you.


2. Elegoo Mega 2560 Project Ultimate Starter Kit

2. Elegoo Mega 2560 Project Ultimate Starter Kit

Get it on Amazon

Elegoo has some of the best Arduino starter kits. Therefore, one of the greatest kits you can find on the market is their Elegoo Mega 2560 Project Ultimate Starter Kit.

This kit is ideal for hobbyists as well as advanced users who want to get something more from an Arduino starter kit. It includes more than 200 pieces of components with premium quality, in which 63 are different.

Besides basic components like resistors, potentiometer and LEDs, it comes with an amazing set of modules and sensors like: RFID reader, water level sensor, motion sensor, ultrasonic sensor, accelerometer/gyroscope module and much more.

There’s also a manual included with more than 35 lessons for example projects to help you get started. Another great thing about the manual is that includes the code, and pictures of assembled circuits, which makes the projects very easy to follow.

The kit includes some really great stuff, including the following:

  • MEGA2560 Controller Board
  • LEDs (5 x Yellow, 5 x Red, 5 x Green, 5 x Blue, 1 x RGB)
  • Ceramic Capacitor(22pf & 104pf) (10)
  • Photoresistor (2)
  • Thermistor
  • Diode Rectifier (1N4007) (5)
Show All Components

  • Electrolytic Capacitor (10UF 50V & 100UF 50V) (4)
  • NPN Transistor (PN2222 & S8050 ) (10)
  • Tilt Switch
  • Button (small) (2)
  • 1 digit 7-segment Display
  • 4 digit 7-segment Display
  • Sound Sensor Module
  • LCD1602 Module (with pin header)
  • IC L293D
  • IC 74HC595
  • Buzzers (1 x Active, 1 x Passive)
  • RTC Module
  • DHT11 Temperature and Humidity Module
  • Potentiometer (2)
  • Rotary Encoder Module
  • Joystick Module
  • Keypad Module
  • 5V Relay
  • IR Receiver Module
  • Breadboard
  • Servo Motor (SG90)
  • Stepper Motor
  • ULN2003 Stepper Motor Driver Board
  • Prototype Expansion
  • Power Supply Module
  • HC-SR501 PIR Motion Sensor
  • Ultrasonic Sensor
  • GY-521Module
  • 3V Servo Motor
  • MAX7219 Module
  • Remote
  • 9V 1A Power Supply
  • 65 Jumper Wire
  • Water Lever Sensor
  • USB Cable
  • 9V Battery with DC
  • RC522 RFID Module
  • Resistor (10Ω, 100Ω, 220Ω, 330Ω, 1KΩ, 2KΩ, 5.1KΩ, 10KΩ, 100KΩ, 1MΩ) x 120
  • Female-to-male Dupont Wire (20)

All the items are stored in a nice plastic box to keep everything organized, and additionally you get an extra small box provided to keep widgets.

You can notice that this kit includes a lot of advanced components like joystick module, DHT11 Humidity and Temperature module, RFID module, ultrasonic sensor, servo motor, stepper motor, IR receiver, remote and much more, which are a bit complex for beginners, but once you are done with the basic projects, implementing these won’t be a problem.

Although the microcontroller is an Arduino clone from Elegoo, it works exactly the same as the official Arduino. Pins and wires on some helpful parts have been pre-soldered, which saves a lot of time and it is a proof that Elegoo pays attention to every single detail when it comes to the quality of their products.

What makes this kit so special is that this kit is awesome for beginners, and for experienced makers as well.


3. Elegoo UNO Project Super Starter Kit

3. Elegoo UNO Project Super Starter Kit

Get it on Amazon

Next on the list is another Elegoo product. Specifically, it is Elegoo UNO Project Super Starter Kit. This kit is very popular, especially because it has helped many beginners to get a solid base on the idea of Arduino, and to move further to an advanced level.

Since it delivers a perfect combination of low price and high quality, it is considered by many to be the best value on the market. With this kit you’ll get a CD with a PDF file in it, which includes more than 20 tutorials with fun projects.

Compared to the previous kit, this one comes with UNO R3 microcontroller, and includes less items, which are just enough for beginners.

This kit contains the following components:

  • Elegoo UNO R3 (Compatible with Arduino Uno)
  • 16x2LCD Module (with pin header)
  • Breadboard
  • Expansion Board
  • Breadboard Power Supply Module
  • Joystick Module
Show All Components

  • IR Receiver
  • Servo Motor (SG90)
  • Stepper Motor
  • ULN2003 Stepper Motor Driver Board
  • Ultrasonic Sensor
  • DHT11 Temperature and Humidity Module
  • 9V Battery
  • 65 Jumper Wire
  • USB Cable
  • Buzzer (Active and Passive)
  • Potentiometer
  • 5V Relay
  • Remote
  • Tilt Switch
  • Button (5)
  • 1 digit 7-segment Display
  • 4 digit 7-segment Display
  • LEDs (5x Yellow, 5x Blue, 5x Green, 5x Red, 1x RGB)
  • Photoresistor (2)
  • Thermistor
  • Diode 1N4007 (2)
  • P2N2222 NPN Transistor (2)
  • IC 74HC595 Shift Register
  • Resistor (120)
  • Female-to-male DuPont Wire (10)

All parts come with header pins, so you don’t need to worry about soldering. Additionally, everything comes organized in a handy plastic case.

The greatest advantage of the Elegoo UNO Starter Kit that makes it so special is that it is not only for beginners, but also for advanced users. The overall performance of this starter kit is great, and has no major flaws, so if you are working on a budget, we highly recommend this kit.


4. Kuman for Arduino Project Complete Starter Kit

4. Kuman for Arduino Project Complete Starter Kit 2

Get it on Amazon

In fact, Kuman Arduino kit is the only kit that has all the desired components in one package, and is one of the best sellers in its category.

The kit provides a total of 44 components and you can make a total of 23 projects using them. It also provides eBooks, detailed tutorials including project circuits, source codes, and step-by-step instructions, all in the form of PDF files.

Thus, the contents of the Kuman Arduino Starter Kits are as follows:

  • Kuman UNO R3 Development Board
  • USB cable
  • Prototype extension board
  • Mini breadboard
  • 5V stepper motor
  • ULN2003 stepper motor driver board
Show All Components

  • LEDs (5 x Red, 5 x Green, 5 x Yellow, 1 x three color)
  • Vibration Sensor (2)
  • Flame sensor
  • LM35 temperature sensor
  • Infrared receiver
  • Photoresistor (3)
  • Key cap (4)
  • Key switch (4)
  • Adjustable potentiometer
  • Passive buzzer (piezo buzzer)
  • Active buzzer (tone generator)
  • Jumper cap
  • Large breadboard
  • Remote Control
  • 16 x 2 Screen LCD
  • Breadboard module
  • HC-SR04 module
  • Component box
  • DuPont line 10pin
  • Breadboard line (30)
  • 8*8 dot matrix
  • 1 digit 8 segment tube
  • 4-digit 8 segment tube
  • IC 74HC595
  • Battery Holder
  • Resistors (5 x 220Ω, 5 x 330Ω, 5 x 1KΩ, 5 x 10KΩ)
  • Battery 9V
  • 40pin pin header
  • Thermistor module
  • Touch sensor
  • CD with tutorial
  • Plastic box

Once you look over the list of components you can notice that the most common and useful electronic parts are included. Nothing extra or necessary that you don’t need if you’re an absolute beginner. Also, all of the pieces fit in the convenient plastic storage container which helps you be more organized.

Moreover, the performance of this kit is fantastic as it features hardware parts made out of the finest materials and they’re flexible as well.

The only downside is the box, which although practical, it is a bit tiny and it can be a n issue to get all the components back into the box.


5. Smraza UNO Project Basic Starter Kit

5. Smraza UNO Project Basic Starter Kit

Get it on Amazon

Another great Arduino starter kit for beginners is Smraza Uno Project Basic Starter Kit.

In particular, it contains over 47 parts and 160 common components for creating unique Arduino projects. Also, it comes with a CD with tutorials for more than 25 projects with all instructions and source codes included. Additionally, the kit comes packaged in a convenient storage container.

The Smraza Starter Kit consists of the following components:

  • UNO R3 Controller Board
  • LCD1602 Module (with pin header)
  • Breadboard Expansion Board
  • Servo Motor
  • Stepper Motor
  • 830 tie-points Breadboard
Show All Components

  • Ultrasonic distance sensor
  • ULN2003 Stepper Motor Driver Board
  • Potentiometer (2)
  • Photoresistor (2)
  • Thermistor
  • Buzzer (1 x Active, 1 x Passive)
  • Diode Rectifier (1N4007) (2)
  • 2N2222 Transistors x2
  • LEDs (5 x Yellow, 5 x Red, 5 x Green, 5 x Blue, 1 x RGB)
  • Tilt Switch
  • Button (small) (5)
  • 7-Segment Display
  • 4 digit 7-segment Display
  • IC 74HC595
  • Power Supply Module
  • Joystick Module
  • DHT-11(Temperature and Humidity Sensor)
  • 9V Battery Holder
  • IR Receiver Module
  • Resistors (10 each 10Ω, 100Ω, 220Ω, 330Ω, 1KΩ, 2KΩ, 5.1KΩ, 10KΩ, 100KΩ, 1MΩ)
  • Header (40pin)
  • L Shape Header (40pin)
  • Water Lever Sensor
  • USB Cable
  • 65 x Jumper Wire
  • 10pin Male to Female Jumper Wires
  • IR remote control
  • Band Resistor Card
  • CD

All the components are already soldered, and are also compatible with many other external sources. In addition to that, this kit is easily expandable, just update it with some sensors, and you’re ready to do more advanced Arduino projects and explore more possibilities.

One drawback is the absence of DC motor and capacitors, but a servo motor and a stepper motor are provided instead.


6. Freenove Ultimate Starter Ki

6. Freenove Ultimate Starter Kit

Get it on Amazon

Last one on the list is Freenove Ultimate Starter Kit. This is another type of Arduino starter kit with a huge collection of components.

Though it is very cheap and has just a few reviews, you can still buy this kit without having a second thought as you can make 51 interesting projects with the 217 components provided in the kit. Also, it includes 260 pages of detailed tutorials, which contain basic electronics and programming knowledge.

The Freenove Starter Kit Package contains the following hardware components:

  • Freenove UNO
  • USB Cable
  • LEDs (10 x Red, 4 x Green, 4 x Blue, 4 x Yellow, 1 x RGB)
  • LED Bar Graph
  • 1-digit 7-segment Display
  • 4-digit 7-segment Display
Show All Components

  • LED Matrix
  • Resistors (20 x 220Ω, 10 x 1kΩ, 10 x 10kΩ)
  • Potentiometer (3)
  • Capacitors (2 x 0.1uF, 2 x 10uF)
  • Push Button (4)
  • Big Push Button (4)
  • Push Button Cap (1 x Red, 1 x Green, 1 x Blue, 1 x Yellow)
  • Switch (2)
  • Vibration Switch
  • Keypad
  • Diodes (2 x 1N4001, 2 x 1N4148)
  • Transistors (2 x NPN, 2 x PNP)
  • 2xAA Battery Holder
  • 9V Battery Cable
  • Breadboard Power Module
  • L293D
  • 74HC595 (2)
  • Buzzer (2 x Active, 1 x Passive)
  • Infrared Motion Sensor
  • DHT-11 Temperature & Humidity Sensor
  • Thermistor
  • Photoresistor
  • Relay
  • Motor
  • Servo
  • Stepper Motor
  • ULN2003 Stepper Motor Driver Module
  • Joystick Module
  • Infrared Remote
  • HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Ranging Module
  • MPU6050 Acceleration Sensor
  • LCD1602 Display Module
  • Infrared Receiver
  • Full+ Breadboard
  • Jumper Wires (65 x M/M, 10 x F/F, 10 x F/M)
  • General Board (3)
  • Pin Header
  • Female Pin Header
  • Resistor Color Code Card
  • Project Box

Although it is clone, the Freenove UNO board is exactly the same as the official board and is fully compatible with the Arduino software.

Above all, the best thing about this kit is that there is a huge number of good-quality pieces that come in a well laid out and compact plastic case.

The downside of this kit is that the explanations in the PDF are a bit hard to understand, since they’re written in poor English.


7. Geekcreit Mega 2560 The Most Complete Ultimate Starter Kit For Arduino

7. Geekcreit Mega 2560 The Most Complete Ultimate Starter Kit For Arduino

Get it on Banggood

Banggood offers so many great Arduino starter kits, and Geekcreit Mega 2560 Starter Kit For Arduino is the ultimate, most complete kit you can find there.

In fact, everyone can use this kit, from total beginners, to electronics students, to experienced users.

It comes with a variety of high quality items, including more than 240 pieces in total, in which around 60 are different.

A comprehensive list of components included in the Geekcreit Mega 2560 Starter Kit is given below:

  • LEDs (5 x Red, 5 x Green, 5 x Blue, 5 x Yellow, 5 x White, 1 x RGB)
  • Ceramic Capacitor (22pf & 104pf) (10)
  • Photoresistor (2)
  • Thermistor
  • Diode Rectifier (1N4007) (5)
  • Electrolytic Capacitor (10UF 50V & 100UF 50V) (4)
Show All Components

  • NPN Transistor (PN2222 & S8050 ) (10)
  • Tilt Switch
  • Button (small) (5)
  • 1 digit 7-segment Display
  • 4 digit 7-segment Display
  • Sound Sensor Module
  • LCD1602 Module (with pin header)
  • IC L293D
  • IC 74HC595
  • Buzzers (1 x Active, 1 x Passive)
  • RTC Module
  • DHT11 Temperature and Humidity Module
  • Potentiometer (2)
  • Rotary Encoder Module
  • Joystick Module
  • Keypad Module
  • 5V Relay
  • IR Receiver Module
  • MEGA2560 Controller Board
  • Breadboard
  • Servo Motor (SG90)
  • Stepper Motor
  • ULN2003 Stepper Motor Driver Board
  • Prototype Expansion
  • Power Supply Module WARNING: Pls. do not use the voltage higher than 9V
  • HC-SR501 PIR Motion Sensor
  • Ultrasonic Sensor
  • GY-521 Module (with pin header)
  • 3V Servo Motor
  • MAX7219 Module
  • Remote
  • 9V 1A Power Supply
  • 65 Jumper Wire
  • Water Lever Sensor
  • USB Cable
  • 9V Battery with DC
  • RC522 RFID Module
  • Resistors (10Ω, 100Ω, 220Ω, 330Ω, 1KΩ, 2KΩ, 5.1KΩ, 10KΩ, 100KΩ, 1MΩ) (120)
  • Female-to-male Dupont Wire (20)

The most important part of this kit is Mega 2560 controller board, which is a perfect Arduino clone. Also, all the parts are neatly packed in a plastic box, which is pretty convenient.

One of the best things about this kit is that it is inexpensive, and at the same time you get the most for that price.

On the other hand, the only disadvantage is that it doesn’t come with tutorials.

8. Geekcreit UNOR3 Basic Learning Starter Kit For Arduino

8. Geekcreit UNOR3 Basic Learning Starter Kit For Arduino

Get it on Banggood

Another good product from Banggood is Geekcreit UNOR3 Basic Learning Starter Kit For Arduino. It has less components than the previous one, but still you can make a lot of projects with the provided components.

Compared to all the other kits on this list, this one is the most affordable. For only 22 dollars you get 36 different parts (or more than 100 in total), which is enough to get into electronics and programming.

Here’s the list of components in the Geekcreit UNOR3 Basic Starter Kit For Arduino:

  • Arduino compatible UNO_R3 development board
  • USB cable
  • Prototype extension board
  • Mini breadboard
  • 5V stepper motor
  • 2003 stepper motor driver board
Show All Components

  • LEDs (10 x Red, 10 x Green, 10 x Blue)
  • Vibration Sensor (2)
  • Flame sensor
  • LM35 temperature sensor
  • Infrared receiver
  • Photoresistor (3)
  • Key cap (4)
  • Key switch (4)
  • Adjustable potentiometer
  • Passive buzzer (piezo buzzer)
  • Active buzzer (tone generator)
  • Jumper cap
  • Large breadboard
  • Remote Control
  • 1602 Screen
  • 9G servos
  • Component box
  • 10p DuPont line
  • Breadboard line(approximately)1 x 220ohm resistance (30)
  • 8*8 dot matrix
  • 1 digit eight segment tube
  • 4 digit eight segment tube
  • IC 74HC595
  • Battery Holder
  • 1K resistor plug
  • 10K resistor plug
  • 9V battery
  • 2.54mm 40pin pin header

This kit doesn’t come with tutorials as well, but you can always learn something online, as the internet offers so many possibilities.


Wrapping up

If you’re searching for the best Arduino starter kit, it’s probably because you plan to improve your knowledge in Arduino, electronics and programming, or because you want to do a unique project that will impress everyone around you.

Before you go, be sure to check out all of our cool Arduino projects.

Which Arduino starter kit is the best for you?

The best Arduino kit for you depends on your needs, on what you intend to do with the Arduino, on your experience level and on how much you are willing to spend.

Elegoo Mega 2560 Project Ultimate Starter Kit from Amazon is by far my favorite kit. This Arduino starter kit is ideal for both beginners and advanced users. With the provided tutorials, you’ll realize that learning electronics is a fun way to spend your time. It has more than enough of everything to get you started, at a super affordable price. The most important component is the 2560 Mega which has more pins than a standard UNO, which means it can do more in your bigger projects.

2. Elegoo Mega 2560 Project Ultimate Starter Kit

Get it on Amazon

So, if you’re looking for the best kit on the market, this is the one for you.

For a beginner in the world of Arduino, without knowledge in electronics and programming, the Official Arduino Starter Kit from Arduino from Amazon is the best option. In short, it has the best performance and high-quality components which you can use to make up to 15 interesting projects. Although pricier, it comes with a 170-page project book with detailed explanation of all the projects, which can help you a lot in the process of learning.

1. The Official Arduino Starter Kit

Get it on Amazon

But if you are not able to buy the above mentioned kits from Amazon, don’t worry. Banggood has its Geekcreit Mega 2560 The Most Complete Ultimate Starter Kit For Arduino which in fact is as good as the one from Elegoo. In fact, it is the most complete starter kit which comes with MEGA 2560 controller board. It offers a so many high quality components at an affordable price. So, don’t hesitate to start your electronics journey with this amazing kit from Banggood.

7. Geekcreit Mega 2560 The Most Complete Ultimate Starter Kit For Arduino

Get it on Banggood

Do you possess an Arduino starter kit? If you do, share your experience with others. Also, if you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment in the comments section below.

The post The 8 Best Arduino Starter Kits For Beginners 2019 appeared first on HowToMechatronics.

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Hackers can ransomware your fancy digital camera

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Not even your precious memories are safe from hackers. 

That much was made clear at the annual DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, where a security researcher demonstrated just how easy it is to remotely encrypt a digital camera with ransomware. And once that happens, you can say goodbye to all your photos — unless you pay up. 

The specific camera in question was a Canon EOS 80D, but, as Eyal Itkin explained to the early Sunday morning crowd of seemingly hungover hackers, it’s likely not the only model vulnerable. 

“If you can do something to cameras, you have many potential victims you can affect,” he observed. “Would you pay to get your camera back?”

Owning your pics.

Owning your pics.

Image: Jack Morse / mashable

It turns out, Itkin noted, that many digital cameras these days are equipped with WiFi. By remotely tricking the camera into installing a malicious firmware update — which he can do if he’s on the same WiFi as your camera with no interaction required from you — he can encrypt all your photos and force the camera to display a ransomware demand. 

The ransomware message displayed on an encrypted camera.

The ransomware message displayed on an encrypted camera.

Image: jack morse / photo of slide from Itkin presentation

In other words, you don’t have to click on some shady link or install a sketchy file to be vulnerable to this attack. 

 ”If you’re not using WiFi, turn it off,” warned Itkin. “If you’re not using Bluetooth, turn it off.”

But all is not lost. Itkin, who is a vulnerability researcher at Check Point Software Technologies, is one of the good guys. That means he notified Canon of the vulnerabilities he discovered, and they issued a fix. There’s just one catch: You have to update the firmware on your camera. 

When is the last time you, or anyone you know, has ever done that? 

Hopefully, after reading this article, the answer is “today.” Otherwise, well, when you lose all those vacation pics to malicious hackers looking to extort you for some cryptocurrency, you can’t say you weren’t warned. 

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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says she takes her 5 kids’ phones away during battles over their screen time

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Susan Wojcicki.JPG

  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has spoken about how she regulates her five kids’ screen time.
  • Wojcicki said she takes their phones away, particularly on vacation, to help them focus on the "present."
  • She added that she wants her kids to be responsible for how much time they spend on their phones and learn "self-control methods."
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has admitted that she takes her children’s phones away during battles to regulate their screen time.

Wojcicki, who runs a platform designed to keep people glued to content, said in a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian that it is important for her five kids to focus on the "present."

"People need to learn when it is a time [to be] focused in the conversation, and when it is OK to go and watch videos or do other activities on the internet," she said.

To this end, Wojcicki said taking their phones away can be effective. "I have times when I take away all my kids’ phones, especially if we’re on a family vacation because I want people to interact with each other," she said. "So, I take away their phones and say: ‘We’re all going to focus on being present today.’"

Read more: Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and wife Miranda Kerr limit their seven-year-old child to 1.5 hours of screen time per week

In the past, Wojcicki has admitted that this is not always an easy task. Her five children age from four to late teens and she told the Belfast Telegraph in 2017: "We spend as much time as other parents taking their phones away from our kids, saying… ‘No phones at the dinner table!’"

The YouTube CEO said, however, that she wants her kids to be responsible for how much time they spend on their phones and learn "self-control methods."

She explained: "TV was the same when I was growing up. I was taught that, sure, some TV is enjoyable, but it needs to be balanced with sports, school, homework, reading and other activities."

Asked how old children should be before they are given a phone, she said around 11 makes sense. "There are moments when it becomes important for them to have a phone," she added. "I think middle school is a reasonable point to start educating them about it, but also a lot of times you can take it away."

Wojcicki is not the only tech CEO to talk about how they monitor their kids’ screen time. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said last year that he and his wife Miranda Kerr impose a limit of an hour and a half of screen time per week on their seven-year-old child.

Read Susan Wojcicki’s full interview with The Guardian here.

SEE ALSO: Evan Spiegel’s old Stanford professor flamed the Snapchat CEO for failing to stop kids getting addicted to tech

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why Apple’s Mac Pro ‘trash can’ was a colossal failure

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The Other Tahiti: How to Find Extra Adventure

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Run away from the beach to experience the real islands of Tahiti. Off the beach, here are three adventures in Tahiti.

I claw my way through thickening jungle, following my guide who leads by hacking away with a machete. Vines, trees, and bursts of tropical flora larger than my face dim the harsh sunlight. I pull my body up enormous fallen logs and then slide down the slippery, moss-laden trunks to the muddy earth.

Turtle petroglyph Tahiti

Despite hiking away from the ocean, I almost feel like I’m swimming in the sea. Sweat drips down my face and drenches my clothes. A cool freshwater stream crossing provides the only respite from this intensity. Finally, our efforts pay off at an unassuming volcanic black boulder spackled in bright-green moss and adorned with two ancient turtle petroglyphs.

Most people travel to the islands of Tahiti to relax on the beach or to surf perfect reef-breaking waves. But Tahiti offers adventurous challenges for hikers, trail runners, and explorers.

Once off the white sand beaches, the real French Polynesia reveals itself. There are inland adventures, races, and explorations, from muddy singletrack ascending the mountains on the island of Moorea to the coastal shoreline on the roadless section of Teahupoo. And they pair nicely with the luxury of recovering beachside.

Tahiti Off the Beach: Te Pari (Tahiti)

Only one road wraps around the island of Tahiti while another bisects the island. Despite the robust population and urban vibe in the capital city of Papeete, a section of the island remains unpaved. It’s only accessible by boat or foot. The hike to Te Pari (where the mountains meet the sea) is a breathtaking way to experience the wild side of Tahiti.

Adventurers typically take the 20km route as a 2-day backpacking trip. But you can — and I did — attempt it in one if you’re swift and crunched for time.

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Be sure to hire a local guide. They are essential to managing the logistics (car dropoff and boat pickup), helping you stay on the unmarked route, timing the hike with the tides, and ensuring safe passage through private properties (complete with dogs defending their turf). I went with a guide from Terainui Tours.

During Te Pari, you will encounter the diverse facets of Tahiti’s landscape. Wear shoes that can get wet and drain well, as this route oscillates between shorelines of broken coral. You’ll hike directly in the ocean and across the rivers flowing into the sea.

You also need high-performance traction to crawl up steep, slippery embankments in the jungle and to traverse narrow volcanic ledges — even though your guide may wear plastic jelly sandals (mine did!).

The route also includes fixed ropes, via ferratas, and sections that should have ropes and VF’s but don’t! Experience and confidence on class 4 terrain are ideal. Afterward, enjoy a quick boat ride past Tahiti’s infamous barrel Teahupo’o.

Race: Xterra Trail 45K and 13K (Moorea)

The Xterra Trail Tahiti race is considered a stepping stone to the Xterra World Championships, held annually in Maui. French Polynesia may not be known for its trail running, but its runners are fiercely competitive.

Racing within the slippery, narrow jungle trails felt like a roller derby match, with runners pushing their way around one another to move up in rank. The 45K and 13K races are held in June on the nearby island of Moorea (a 30-minute ferry away for only $15).

Both races will challenge you as you race through pineapple plantations before ascend high into the mountains for views above the coast. The 45K circumnavigates Mont Rotui and tours the center of the island with about 25,590 feet (7,800 m) of elevation gain. Meanwhile, the abbreviated 13K course still climbs over 2,000 feet.

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Best of all, the event boasts world-class hospitality with a pre-race pasta feed, post-race lunch, and an after-party with traditional dancing, food, and awards on the beach.

Post-race, consider using your rest day to help save the coral reefs that make these islands spectacular. Coral Gardeners educates visitors about the dire effects of dying coral reefs, then takes them out in the water to snorkel and experience firsthand a method to help replant and restore them. You’ll even get to adopt and plant your own piece of coral.

Explore: Taputapuātea Marae UNESCO World Heritage Site (Ra’iātea)

Designated in 2017, Taputapuātea Marae is French Polynesia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. It sits on the sacred island of Ra’iātea, which many consider the heart of the Polynesian Triangle.

A complex of ceremonial and funerary sites sits along the coral reef shoreline, flanked by forested valleys. In Polynesian culture, maraes are sacred places where the world of the living intersects with the worlds of the ancestors and the gods.

These square courtyards — made of volcanic stone and featuring rectangular alters with lines of larger stones as well as adornments ranging from petroglyphs to shells and flowers — were also used as political meeting grounds.

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On an overcast and rainy 75-degree afternoon, part of French Polynesia’s winter, I ventured the few kilometers away from the resorts of Raiatea — a charming set of tucked-away bungalows that vastly contrast with the mega-resorts of the larger islands — to visit this piece of French Polynesian heritage.

It’s possible to walk around and explore this site without a guide. But hiring one is extremely helpful if you actually want to learn about the rich history of this ceremonial spot. My guide from French Polynesian Escapes, Tahiarii, answered just about any question I could think of — from anthropology to politics, endemic plants, food, economics, and culture.

In between glimpses at each marae, he led the way while playing a homemade flute. He shared his local insights into the progression of this spiritual epicenter becoming a UNESCO site. (This reminded me of similar conflicting views surrounding American sacred spaces like Bears Ears National Monument.)

Best of all, the view from Taputapuātea Marae is as spectacular as any of the island’s beaches and offers a greater understanding of life from past to present on these beautiful ocean-bound mountains.

The islands of Tahiti are small and close together, making travel to and from activities efficient and convenient. You can string together multiple “inland” excursions in one week and still have time for that beachside mai tai at sunset.

The post The Other Tahiti: How to Find Extra Adventure appeared first on GearJunkie.

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7 Unique Ways to Process Samples for a Better Mix

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So you’ve found some samples to work with. Now what?

Even if you’ve discovered the perfect sounds for your track, a little creative processing can be necessary to make them sit in your mix just right.

But when traditional mixing techniques aren’t cutting it you’ll have to try some unconventional solutions.

Here are 7 unique ways to process samples for a better mix.

1. Record them “live.”

Sometimes samples can sound too dry and “in-the-box.” One way to fix it is by capturing the sound of the sample playing in a room with a microphone.

You can think of this technique a little bit like adding a subtle reverb plugin—but for real!

A real room is often the most convincing reverb you can apply to a sound.

A real room is often the most convincing reverb you can apply to a sound.

Simply set up a microphone in your mixing environment to capture the sound of the samples coming directly from your speakers.

Experiment with varying the angle and distance or selecting different microphone types.

The change will be subtle but the extra weight and space from the room sound can help your samples fit better into your mix.

Just make sure not to enable input monitoring on the channel you’re recording or else you’ll get intense feedback!

2. Use vintage style sampler plugins

Vintage gear often takes on legendary status. Today even the earliest sampler hardware fetches high prices on the used market.

The reason is that the original samplers had a unique sound. It comes from their limited digital storage and primitive AD/DA conversion.

Samplers like the Akai MPC 60 and Ensoniq ASR-X are sought after for their crunchy, lofi early digital quality.

sonic charge cyclone

Samplers like the MPC 60 and Ensoniq ASR-X are sought after for their crunchy, lofi early digital quality.

You can get some of this unique character for yourself using plugins that are specifically modelled to recreate the quirks of this type of gear.

Try using plugins such as TAL Sampler, Sonic Charge Cyclone or 112 dB Morgana to add that perfect retro grittiness to your samples.

3. Try slicing functions

Many samplers and sampling plugins have built-in slicing options that can make even the most mundane samples come alive.

Common slicing functions include creating slices based on grid divisions or transients detected in the source sample.

Ableton’s powerful Simpler sampler uses this method to let you play subsections of your sample with a MIDI controller.

Getting hands on control of your chopped up samples is super inspiring.

It’s the easiest way to chop on the fly!

4. Don’t use a sampler

This may sound counterintuitive, but you don’t need a sampler to use samples.

Samples can be used as basic audio files on your timeline.

You don’t always need to load up a sampler plugin to use samples creatively. Sometimes simply dropping them on the timeline and manipulating them as audio is enough.

samples on the timeline

Applying fades, clip gain, reverse, automation or other audio operations directly on the timeline is a perfectly fine way to work with samples.

Applying fades, clip gain, reverse, automation other audio operations directly on the timeline is a perfectly fine way to work with samples.

This way you’ll have your entire DAW at your disposal for mixing and processing your samples.

Sometimes it doesn’t have to be too complicated!

5. Resample creatively

Have you managed to mangle your samples into uncharted territory with effects? It might be time to resample.

Resampling means taking your sampled sounds and…sampling them again.

resampling

It’s essentially like “bouncing” your samples down—you commit to the processing on your original sample and treat it like the source material.

Resampling multiple times can lead you to completely alien sonic landscapes.

6. Use your sampler’s onboard LFOs

LFOs are the perfect way to get your mixes moving. When it comes to sampling they’re a unique tool.

Modulating a sample’s pitch will approximate vibrato. That’s super useful for playing realistic instrument samples polyphonically.

Modulating the volume with a square wave will create a choppy tremolo. Modulating the filter will create synth-like textures.

Applying a sine LFO to the pan position will create a psychedelic autopanner effect.

See what LFO shape and routing options your sampler has—the options can be pretty inspiring.

7. Use samples as oscillators

Some wavetable synth plugins (such as Ableton’s excellent Wavetable) allow you to import custom user wavetables.

This means you can use your samples as the oscillator source in a synth! I’ll explain.

Instead of VCOs, wavetable synths load each individual sample in a digital file into a “cell” in a table.

A pointer scrolls through the table at different rates to produce different pitches.

Hardware wavetable synths typically used fixed wavetables that approximated waveshapes from traditional analog synthesis.

But plugin synthesizers have expanded the possibilities considerably.

Now it’s easy to import user wavetables from samples from your own sessions.

Using samples as wavetables can create highly unpredictable results!

Trust the process

Creative processing is a key component of mixing well with samples.

The sonic content of your samples can be so varied that no single mixing strategy alone will work.

Try these techniques the next time your sampled sounds need a little something extra to shine.

The post 7 Unique Ways to Process Samples for a Better Mix appeared first on LANDR Blog.

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Watch Porsche Taycan perform 30 consecutive 0-124 mph launches

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Porsche has been pushing the idea that the Taycan is going to be the first performance all-electric car with repeatable power, and to prove it, they let a YouTuber do 30 consecutive 0 to 124 mph (200 km/h) launches.

The German automaker has previously mentioned that unlike Tesla’s performance vehicles, the Taycan is going to be able to maintain continuous higher power output for long periods of time.

That’s how Porsche is trying to differentiate itself from Tesla’s performance vehicles, which can beat Porsche on several metrics, but if the performance is pushed for an extended period of time, the vehicle starts limiting the power output.

Tesla even famously warns people of potential accelerated wear when engaging the highest performance mode with their “I want my mommy” warning:

Porsche doesn’t want to have to do that. They want Taycan owners to feel confident that they can push the performance of their vehicle.

In order to be able to do that, the automaker developed a robust liquid-cooling system for both the battery packs and the motors, which it describes as the key to the repeatable performance of the Taycan.

They invited Jonny Smith from the Fully Charged YouTube channel to do 30 launches with a pre-production Taycan prototype on an airstrip near Stuggart, Germany.

He used the same prototype shown at the Goodwood Speed Festival last month.

Smith said that he was able to do 30 “hard launches,” and the Vbox was still showing 10-second 0-200 km/h (124 mph) acceleration.

Here’s Fully Charged’s video about it:

Recent reports have stated that the Taycan is going to come out first with a 96 kWh and 600 hp dual motor powertrain. The originally promised 350 kW charging capacity has also been reduced to 250 kW.

The production version is going to be unveiled next month

Porsche came out with a press release about Smith’s test and they confirmed many of those specs directly for the first time:

26 times from 0–200 km/h and back: the new Porsche Taycan demonstrates its staying power

Performance typical for the brand that can be reproduced virtually as required: The Porsche Taycan’s electric powertrain is designed to enable it to reach full power output even when accelerating multiple times in direct succession.

Numerous hot laps around a circuit are no problem for the first fully electric sports car from Zuffenhausen.

In an initial test, a pre-series version of this 440 kW (600 PS) all-wheel drive car accelerated from 0–200 km/h 26 times in succession. The Sprint Challenge was held at an airfield in Lahr in southern Baden. Average acceleration times documented on the “Fully Charged” YouTube channel were just under 10 seconds. The difference between the fastest and the slowest attempts was just 0.8 seconds.

The test runs were carried out in both directions on the airport’s taxiway. The entire strip, about 2.3 kilometers long, was used during the tests. The outside temperature was 28 degrees Celsius.

The Taycan is the first all-electric sports car from Porsche

A full range of technical innovations in the Taycan guarantees breathtaking acceleration figures, traction power typical of a sports car, and a superior, permanently available power output.

  • The two powerful electric motors at the front and rear axles are the so-called permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM). They feature a rotor with high-grade permanent magnets that generate a natural magnetic field. As a result, the rotor moves in sync with the magnetic rotating field of the stator, hence the name PSM. A pulse inverter specifies the frequency of the rotating field in the stator, therefore determining rotor speed. The design, function, and excellent thermal behaviour of permanently excited synchronous motors allow them to deliver the high performance typical of Porsche.
  • A special feature of the Taycan’s electric motors is the so-called hairpin winding, in which the solenoid coils of the stator consist of rectangular rather than round wires. The wires are bent, and before they are inserted into the stator’s laminated core their shape looks like a hairpin — hence the name “hairpin.” The open ends are welded together using a laser beam. Hairpin technology makes it possible to pack wires in a more condensed way and therefore integrate more copper into the stator. This increases power output and torque at the same level of volume. Another important advantage for a high-performance car like the Taycan is that a hairpin stator can be cooled considerably more efficiently.
  • The Taycan is the first production vehicle with a system voltage of 800 volts rather than the normal 400 volts for electric cars. Among other things, this delivers continuous high power and charging capacities to enable both fast driving and fast loading,  while also reducing the weight of the high-voltage cabling.
  • In combination with the drive train concept (PSM and 800-volt technology), thermal management ensures a high reproducibility for when power is demanded. The cooling system is tailored to the needs of the individual vehicle and enables the performance, which is typical of a sports car, to be achieved multiple times in succession when required. Porsche has achieved a wide spread between performance and range. In winter, intelligent thermal management also enables efficient and demand-oriented heating functions.

The Taycan has a top speed of over 250 km/h. It accelerates from 0–100 km/h in significantly less than 3.5 seconds, and its lithium-ion battery has a gross capacity of around 90 kWh. The Taycan will be presented in September and launched onto the market at the end of the year.


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If you want an emoji that isn’t available, you can create it. Here’s how everyday people send their submissions.

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  • Each year, new emoji sets are released. In 2019, we’ll see the yawn, sloth, and several emojis focused on inclusivity
  • Anyone can create an emoji but only those with a really good proposal and design can advance. You don’t need funding or connections, just a really good 10-page paper. 
  • From start to finish, the process could take up to two years.
  • In the video above, we break down the process of how an emoji is made and the timeline to follow if you want to submit your own design.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Emoji. For some of us, it’s a second language. But did you know anyone can make an emoji? You don’t need funding. You don’t need to know someone on the inside. You just need a really good 10-page paper.

Emoji is actually a Japanese word that means "pictogram" or "pictograph." SoftBank, a Japanese wireless carrier, created the first known emoji set in 1997. When Apple launched its iOS 2.2 in November 2008, it had to create its own emoji so any emoji sent from SoftBank customers would show up on iPhones. The company gave the task to three designers.

Angela Guzman, Former Apple Intern: And so, when I was there, I just openly asked, "What is an emoji?" And they told me, "Oh, it’s like an illustration, and you’re gonna be drawing about 480 of them with your mentor." And I was like, "Oh, all right, well, here I go for three months making these illustrations."

Narrator: Fast-forward to 2019. Thousands of emoji have been added, depictions of existing emoji have been changed, and now anyone can propose an emoji. The first step is to submit your proposal to the Unicode Consortium. It’s a nonprofit organization that sets the standard for how text is represented and displayed across various programs and pieces of software. The Unicode Consortium deals with about 50 emoji proposals a year. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s because most of the proposals don’t even make it past the first round. Why not?

Greg Welch, Unicode Consortium Vice President: Well, you have to design an icon that still looks like a redwood tree, or whatever you’re interested in, even at extremely small size, because we use emoji in text. And that’s where a lot of proposals just fall flat immediately.

Narrator: Proposers also need to make sure their emoji align with Unicode’s 13 mandatory selection factors, turning their proposals into 10-page documents that include an overall explanation of the emoji, reasons why it’s needed, and data justifying its existence.

Sebastián Delmont, Arepa Emoji Proposer: So if you want to have a strong proposal, one, it should be an emoji that people will use frequently, often, and that a large number of people will use. Two, it has to be in that sweet spot of being specific enough to warrant a separate image and not general enough to be confused with other things that are not that emoji.

Narrator: That’s Sebastián Delmont. He successfully proposed the flatbread emoji. He’s also an active member of Emojination, a community of emoji enthusiasts that helps get many emoji proposals approved, like the hijab and the dumpling.

Once your proposal is ready, you submit it to Unicode via email, but the review process takes about a whole year. Why so long? Well, it needs to be approved from different committees within Unicode.

Here’s the journey your proposed emoji takes after it’s been submitted to Unicode.

January – March

First, the Emoji Subcommittee will review and refine proposals with those who submitted them. Some proposals may get rejected, but proposals that do meet all the selection factors will get passed to the Unicode Technical Committee.

April – June

This committee finalizes everything that will go into the Unicode Standard, like assigning a universal code for each emoji.

July – September

Six months in, the Draft Candidates list is created, which lists all the emoji that will be moving forward. Vendors including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook will all see the list and weigh in on the designs.

October – December

In the final three months, Unicode’s Common Locale Data Repository will establish a name for the emoji and record the name in languages other than English.

January – March

Finally, the last step: designing! In the first quarter of the second year, the final candidate list will be sent to all the vendors to start designing. Each vendor has their own style guide to follow.

Jennifer Daniel, Google Emoji Creative Director: Any time a designer starts an emoji, they read the proposal, they look at the reference icons, and they confer with experts on the subject. For the case of the deaf emoji, we talked to the CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. We look at it very, very tiny and we say, "OK, are those legible when they’re small?" And, of course, we try to anticipate what other folks are doing, which is why we talk to all of our friends in the Emoji Subcommittee. And that’s sort of the process for an emoji.

April – June

Narrator: Once all the designs are finalized, vendors will roll out the new emoji set, usually around the time they update their operating systems.

July – September

Apple usually does it in the fall, around the same time iOS gets updated. From start to finish, it could take almost two years before you see your emoji on your devices.

So, if you have an idea, start working on it now. And pro tip: The best time to submit is the beginning of each year.

Angela Guzman: And when I came to the US, I didn’t speak the language, but I ended up drawing stick figures to sort of express my ideas and also be understood. And so working on the emoji decades later was really ironic, because it’s kind of doing that same thing of bridging those language barriers and having everyone understand one another. I think that’s really beautiful.

Join the conversation about this story »

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How to Take Care of Your Calluses

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When you start lifting weights, your body undergoes a lot of adaptations. Muscles get bigger, tendons get stronger, and fat tissues decrease. 

Your skin also adapts to the stress of barbell training by forming rough, tough calluses on your hands where you grip the barbell. 

Calluses aren’t just dermatological badges of honor. They help protect your hands from the barbell and allow you to get a better grip on it. You need calluses to lift heavy. 

But you don’t want your calluses to get too big or else you risk one ripping off while doing a pull-up, deadlift, or Olympic lift. A callus typically rips off when its ridge catches on the bar during the middle of the movement. When a callus rips off, it leaves an open wound on your hand and it hurts like hell. The pain is best described as a persistent stinging sensation that only gets worse when you try to grip a barbell or pull-up bar. At its worst, a torn callus can make barbell training impossible for a few days, and even if you can work through it, it’s still extremely uncomfortable for a couple weeks. 

I’ve only torn one callus during my lifting career. When I first started training, I didn’t do anything to manage my calluses so I had some big ones build up. During this time, I did an obstacle race that required me to cross some monkey bars. Halfway through a swing, a large callus on my right hand tore completely off. It hurt like a mother. It put a damper on my barbell training for a few days, and took about two weeks to heal. Since then, I’ve stayed on top of managing my calluses. 

Below I walk you through what you can do to manage your calluses so you can keep your paws grippy and protected. 

How to Manage Your Calluses

How to Prevent Excessive Callus Build-up

When it comes to callus management, you want to keep your calluses, but you don’t want them to get too big. The first step in keeping them pared down, is to prevent them from getting excessively large in the first place. Here’s how:

Don’t wear gloves. To prevent excess callus formation, you’d think it would be a no-brainer to wear gloves. But you’d be wrong. You don’t want to wear gloves when you lift weights. While gloves would indeed prevent calluses, they get in the way of you lifting the barbell properly. The leather in the glove adds thickness to the bar which makes gripping it during a deadlift more difficult. Also, you’re not looking for complete callus prevention; we want some toughening of our hand-hide as a natural adaptation and protection. 

Hold the bar correctly. The best way to prevent excessive callus formation is to hold the barbell properly. When most people grab a barbell for a deadlift, they naturally want to place the bar in the middle of their palm. Gripping a barbell there feels more secure. But by gripping it this way, you sow the seeds of excessive callus formation. 

Gripping a barbell in the palm of your hands creates a fold of skin at the top of your palm. When you pull up on the barbell, the fold gets shoved down towards your fingers. This folding is what causes calluses to form. 

Instead of holding the barbell in the palm of your hands, grip it closer to your fingers at the proximal digital crease. You won’t have that skin folding occur when you grip the bar there. Gripping the bar this way won’t eliminate callus build-up (which again, we want), but will go a long way in reducing excessive callus build-up. 

Use this same grip placement for pull-ups and chin-ups. 

Use chalk. Chalk helps prevent the bar from slipping in your hands which reduces skin folding. Keeping your hands dry with chalk is just a good safety measure to take, so chalk up before every set. 

How to Reduce Your Calluses

Even when you take measures to prevent and slow the growth of your calluses, eventually they’re going to get too big and will need to be intentionally reduced. 

I do my callus maintenance every 2-3 weeks. My goal is to keep my calluses flush with my hands. If they’re looking like mountains on a topographic map, that’s a sign it’s time to pare them down. Here’s how I do it:

Soak hands. Callus reduction is much easier when the skin is soft and pliant. I usually cut mine after I’ve taken a hot shower. If you haven’t taken a shower, soak your hands in warm water for a few minutes.

Use a callus razor. A callus razor is a safety razor for your calluses. If you remember from our guide on safety razor shaving, when you shave your face, you’re not going for beard removal, but rather beard reduction. The same rule applies when you’re shaving your calluses. Don’t try to remove the callus with one fell swoop. You risk cutting down too far and creating a wound. Instead, lightly apply the razor on the callus and take several strokes to reduce it. The goal is to shave your calluses down so that they’re even with the palm of your hand.

How to Train With a Torn Callus

Let’s say you follow all these guidelines and you still suffer a torn callus. How do you keep lifting hefty weight with an open wound on your hand?

You’ll want to put some sort of barrier between the wound and the barbell. Ideally, this barrier is as thin as possible so that it doesn’t disrupt your grip on the bar. When I tore my callus off, I just applied some medical tape over the wound when I trained. It did the trick. Band-aids tended to come off too easily while lifting. 

While you should avoid using gloves when you lift, when you have an open wound on your hand, using a glove might be the only thing that will allow you to keep training. Try the medical tape before you start using the glove. 

After training and showering, apply some antibacterial cream and a band-aid to your wound to help speed the healing along.

The post How to Take Care of Your Calluses appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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The Russians are coming! The Russians are … complicated!

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Did you know that Russia’s security services, particularly those related to hacking / information security, have been in the throes of vicious high-stakes infighting for years? Did you know that the perceived Russian doctrine which informed much Western analysis of Russian strategies never actually existed? Did you know that the Kremlin’s secrecy has built an entire cottage industry of largely-unfounded rumors and conspiracy theories based on the few tantalizing details which do leak?

OK, you probably knew that last part. Everyone, or at least everyone who calls a social-media stranger with whom they disagree a “Russian bot,” is a Russian conspiracy theorist nowadays. And of course the evidence of widespread malevolent Russian activity, ranging from assassinations to hacking to social-media bombing, is copious.

But exactly which Russian organizations are doing what, and why — that’s a lot harder to establish. I’m reminded of old Cold War spy novels in which Kremlinologists analyzed the few public appearances of Politburo members, wrongfully reading great significance into who stood where and when, because they had little else to go on. Just like those bad old days, our instinct nowadays is to treat “Russia” as a single, well-oiled, tightly-orchestrated malignant machine.

Of course it’s nothing of the sort. Instead it is a complex, seething, tiered morass of many figures and institutions, often incentivized against one another, in a time of profound and rapid change. Today I attended a Black Hat talk by Kimberley Zenz, who opened with a plea for nuanced consideration of Russia and Russian activities. She’s right, of course, but sadly the Internet tends to be where nuance goes to die.

This nuance, though, is especially fascinating, the stuff of spy thrillers. In 2017 a slew of Russian intelligence officials and hackers — along with, inexplicably, Kaspersky Lab’s Head of Investigations — were suddenly arrested. One was “apparently forcibly removed from a meeting with fellow FSB officers — escorted out with a bag over his head” according to Stratfor. A case was eventually made against them for “high treason in favor of the United States.”

Four individuals were this year sentenced to up to 22 years in prison. (They are appealing.) Andrei Gerasimov, the longtime director of Russia’s Information Security Center, “a shadowy unit … thought to be Russia’s largest inspectorate when it comes to domestic and foreign cyber capabilities, including hacking,” resigned a week after this case emerged.

Stratfor again: ‘Because the charges are treason, the case is considered “classified” by the state, meaning no official explanation or evidence will be released.’ From this fog of secrecy, half a dozen different rumors and theories have emanated. Are the charges entirely trumped-up to eliminate rivals? Did someone leak to the US to attack their rivals, only to see this backfire spectacularly? Did the FSB turn a hacking group which then discovered something they really shouldn’t have about a powerful oligarch? Who can say?

Of course another conspiracy theory is the nuance-free “well-oiled malignant machine” one, in which this case is just an instance of said machine expelling a bit of grit from its innards. It’s remarkable how common this “monolithic Russian single-voiced hive-mind” analysis has become. Here’s Politico, for instance, after the above scandal broke: “Lately, Russia appears to be coming at the United States from all kinds of contradictory angles … Confused? Only if you don’t understand the Gerasimov Doctrine.”

That doctrine — named after General Valery Gerasimov, please note, not repeat not the now-disgraced former-FSB-director Andrei Gerasimov mentioned above — is used there to explain away all Russian activity, even that which appears self-contradictory, as a deliberately bewildering diversity of tactics used to “achieve an environment of permanent unrest and conflict within an enemy state.” It was cited yesterday in another Black Hat talk, which I was so unimpressed by I’ll diplomatically refrain from discussing further. It is consistently cited by Russian policy analysts to this day.

But the problem with the Gerasimov Doctrine as a cornerstone of modern Kremlinology is that — according to the very person who coined the term! — it never actually existed. (Ironically it stems from a conspiracy theory on General Gerasimov’s part: that the CIA instigated the Arab Spring.) Instead, rather than a campaign informed by a unifying doctrine, Russian activity is

largely opportunistic, fragmented, even sometimes contradictory. Some major operations are coordinated, largely through the presidential administration, but most are not. Rather, operations are conceived and generally carried out by a bewildering array of “political entrepreneurs” hoping that their success will win them the Kremlin’s favor

That sounds like an awfully important distinction to make, and it leads to the most interesting thing (to me) about Ms. Zenz’s talk; her mention that “the Russian government considers Russian cybercriminals to be a strategic asset,” and that one side effect of this treason case is that it has greatly chilled information sharing and cooperation between Russia and the West regarding online threats.

Does this strategic status in turn mean that Russian hackers are likely to be government operatives, and/or Russian infosec companies in bed with their government? I am no Kremlinologist, but it seems to me more that the very question is wrong and should be unasked. Rather, the relatively sharp differences between “private sector,” “government,” and “criminal,” defined in nations with a strong rule of law, don’t really exist in a nation like modern Russia where those distinctions can, and often do, blur together.

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