This dino-shaped aquarium is filled with thousands of bioluminescent new friends!

For the uninitiated, dinoflagellates are the single-celled organisms behind the eerie algal bloom known as red tide. But some of these tiny marine creatures are capable of producing a beautiful bioluminescent glow, and you can harness their natural light with a Dino Pet, available now in the Boing Boing Store.

This dinoflagellate-filled aquarium is shaped like an apatosaurus to give your home some charming, punny decor that’s also a low-maintenance marine ecosystem. Just give it a shake, and they’ll instantly put on a dazzling blue-green light show that works any time of the day or night. Their reaction is powered only by sunlight, water and the small amount of nutrients included in the Dino Food blend. Just feed your microscopic friends once a week, and you can enjoy their alluring glow for years to come.

You can grab a Dino Pet from the Boing Boing Store for $49.99.

My Little Ponies generated by neural network

Janelle Shane‏ trained a neural network on the names and attributes of My Little Ponies, then shared “some of the worst ones.”

I used a program called a character-level recurrent neural network (char-rnn), which looks at examples of text (Pokemon, or Harry Potter fan fiction, or even guinea pig names) and learns to imitate them. I gave the neural network more than 1,500 names from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Wiki, and let it start learning.

Recode’s Code Commerce event will take you inside Amazon, Nike, Warby Parker and Eataly

The event takes place in NYC on Sept. 13 and 14.

At our Code Commerce event on September 13 and 14, attendees will be treated to Recode’s signature unscripted interviews with a lineup of some of the most compelling entrepreneurs and business leaders in retail and e-commerce today.

But there’s also a twist — on Day 2, guests will get to choose from behind-the-scenes tours and exclusive looks at the operations of at least four big online and brick-and-mortar retailers in New York City.

The on-location experiences include:

  • A visit to Amazon’s Prime Now same-day delivery hub, located across from the Empire State Building on 34th Street. Amazon execs, including Prime Now’s director of North America operations, will lead tours and answer questions from a Recode editor.
  • A guided tour of Nike’s new SoHo flagship store — a temple of sport and a model for 21st century retail. A Nike exec will be on hand to give insight into design choices and more.
  • Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa will host Code Commerce attendees at the company’s original retail outpost. He’ll explain why the eyewear startup continues to aggressively add new retail locations, with 55 current ones and 10 more on the way in the next year.
  • Eataly CFO Adam Saper will give guests an inside look at the company’s 50,000-square-foot mecca to Italian ingredients and cuisine in the city’s Flatiron neighborhood. He’ll also explain why the marketplace’s shop-and-dine model makes a ton of business sense, and how delivery plays a role in attracting new customers.

Awesome, yes? Yes. The catch: Code Commerce is coming up fast so register today to get first dibs on these exclusive visits when enrollment for them opens up.

Half-Life 3 synopsis posted by series writer — or maybe it’s just fanfic

Half-Life 3 is a running joke (or tragedy) among fans of the series who waited more than a decade for it to exist. With publisher Valve’s business shifting to its Steam platform and key writer Marc Laidlaw leaving the company, the writing seemed on the wall. Turns out, though, it’s on his blog: Epistle 3 is a lightly-cloaked synopsis (already edited bt fans to remove obfuscating elements) of what was, in another world, the greatest game of 201A.

a Certain Sinister Figure appeared, in the form of that sneering trickster, G-Man. For once he appeared not to me, but to Alyx Vance. Alyx had not seen the cryptical schoolmaster since childhood, but she recognized him, instantly. “Come along with me now, we’ve places to be and things to do,” said G-Man, and Alyx acquiesced. She followed the strange grey man out of the Borealis, out of our reality. For me, there was no convenient door held open; only a snicker and a sideways glance. I was left alone, riding the weaponized research vessel into the heart of a Combine world. An immense light blazed. I caught a cosmic view of a brilliantly glittering Dyson sphere. The vastness of the Combine’s power, the futility of our struggle, blossomed briefly in my awareness. I saw everything. Mainly I saw how the Borealis, our most powerful weapon, would register as less than a fizzling matchhead as it blew itself apart. And what remained of me would be even less than that.

Laidlaw describes it as “fanfic”:

“Isn’t everything you have written about half life technically a fanfic?” a twitter user asks.

“Psych!” Laidlaw replies.

Should tech companies be able to shut down neo-Nazis?

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince and Electronic Frontier Foundation Executive Director Cindy Cohn debate the future of free speech on Too Embarrassed to Ask.

In the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where dozens were injured and one counter-protestor was killed, the battle moved online.

The four-year-old neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer was evicted by web hosts GoDaddy and Google after it disparaged the woman killed in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer. And then web infrastructure company Cloudflare, which had previously been criticized for how it handled reports of abuse by the website, publicly and permanently terminated the Stormer’s account, too, forcing it to the dark web.

But should a tech company have that power? Even Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince, who personally decided to pull the plug, thinks the answer should be “no” in the future.

“I am confident we made the right decision in the short term because we needed to have this conversation,” Prince said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. “We couldn’t have the conversation until we made that determination. But it is the wrong decision in the long term. Infrastructure is never going to be the right place to make these sorts of editorial decisions.”

Interviewed by Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, Prince was joined on the new episode by the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cindy Cohn. Although the two organizations have worked together in the past, Cohn co-authored a public rebuke of Cloudflare’s decision, saying it threatened the “future of free expression.”

“The moment where this is about Nazis, to me, is very late in the conversation,” Cohn said, citing past attempts to shut down political websites. “What they do is they take down the whole website, they can’t just take down the one bad article. The whole Recode website comes down because you guys say something that pisses off some billionaire.”

“These companies, including Matthew’s, have a right to decide who they’re doing business with, but we urge them to be really, really cautious about this,” she added.

You can listen to the new podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Prince and Cohn agreed that part of the long-term solution to controversial speech online — no matter how odious — may be establishing and respecting a set of transparent, principled rules that cross international borders.

“I believe deeply in free speech, but it doesn’t have the same force around the rest of the world,” Prince said. “What does is an idea of due process, that there are a set of rules you should follow, and you should be able to know going into that. I don’t think the tech industry has that set of due processes.”

Cohn noted that there is a process for stopping someone from speaking before they can speak — prior restraint. For most of America’s history, obtaining such an injunction against someone has been intentionally difficult.

“We wouldn’t have a country if people couldn’t voice radical ideas and they had to go through a committee of experts or tech bros,” she said. “If you have to go on bended knee before you get to speak, you’re going to reduce the universe of ideas. Maybe you’ll get some heinous ideas, but you might not get the Nelson Mandelas, either.”

Have questions about free speech on the internet that we didn’t get to in this episode? Tweet them to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed, or email them to

Be sure to follow @LaurenGoode, @KaraSwisher and @Recode to be alerted when we’re looking for questions about a specific topic.

If you like this show, you should also check out our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts— and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara and Lauren. Tune in next Friday for another episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask!

Four short links: 25 August 2017

Mobile Clusters, Practicing Code, Speech Commands Data Set, and Robogami

  1. Towards Deploying Decommissioned Mobile Devices as Cheap Energy-Efficient Compute Nodes — clever! The average number of CPU cores per device for the 350 mobile devices we studied is about 5.6 (M=5.55, SD=1.97). This means our 2U server could fit around 470 cores and the core density would be 235 cores/1U. (via Paper a Day)
  2. Practicing Any Programming Language — share with the learner in your life.
  3. Speech Commands Data Set — Google releasing 65,000 one-second long utterances of 30 short words, by thousands of different people under a CC license.
  4. Interactive Robogami : An End-to-End System for Design of Robots with Ground LocomotionUsing Interactive Robogami, designers can compose new robot designs from a database of print and fold parts. The designs are tested for the users’ functional specifications via simulation and fabricated upon user satisfaction. We present six robots designed and fabricated using a 3D printing based approach, as well as a larger robot cut from sheet metal. We have also conducted a user study that demonstrates our tool is intuitive for novice designers and expressive enough to create a wide variety of ground robot designs.

Continue reading Four short links: 25 August 2017.