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Pei-Shen Qian was a quiet, unassuming neighbor — but according to a recent New York Times article, he was responsible for dozens of modernist forgeries that, together, netted more than $80 million. In his youth, Qian had been part of an experimental art movement in China, but friends say he had become frustrated with the American art market in recent years, selling art on the street and working briefly at a construction site. According to a recent indictment, he responded by turning to fraud, painting forgeries of "undiscovered masterpieces" by famous painters like Jackson Pollock and Barrett Newman and selling them to art dealers beginning in 1994. The scheme caught the FBI's attention in 2009, when questions were raised about the authenticity of some of Qian's work, and one art dealer has already been indicted for peddling Qian's fakes. But while the FBI has caught up with many of Qian's art-world accomplices, the forger himself is still at large.

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Emoji; they've conquered the world, featured in novels, and more recently they've allowed us to track Twitter's mood in real time. Now, a new app for iPhone automatically generates another internet staple, ASCII art, using only emoji. Emojify lets you take photos with your phone's camera, or pull existing images from your camera roll, and replaces the pixels with emoji. Once you've selected your photo, you'll be able to control image size (ranging up to 16-megapixel files for poster-sized prints) and contrast before exporting or sharing your creation.

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What if you could compile all of YouTube's worst-rated videos in one place? Considering the sheer volume of user content that's uploaded to the site every second, it's a daunting challenge. Nonetheless, that's the idea Boootube is trying to execute on; it's a running collection of the most down-voted clips on YouTube. In other words, it's the best of the worst; these are videos that have received hundreds and often times thousands of unfavorable votes from viewers around the world.

Selections include Lil Wayne trying his hand at guitar, controversial baby yoga demonstrations, and an expletive-laced rant targeted at an innocent Dunkin Donuts staffer. Unflattering political ads and blatantly racist rants are also a common theme. There's also a 15-minute video where the clip's host uses Photoshop to prove that the "original" Eminem died only to be quietly replaced by a lookalike. We're all familiar with the overnight sensations and stars that have been catapulted to glory thanks to YouTube. But BooTube serves as a sober reminder that the good is often outweighed by the bad or mediocre.

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A new poker machine has such smart artificial intelligence that players are hooked even though the house always wins. About 200 machines across the country, called "Texas Hold ‘Em Heads Up Poker," use knowledge gained from billions of staged rounds of poker fed through neural networks, and the result is an unpredictable poker player that can win almost every time. Three different banks of knowledge are used depending on the gameplay scenario, but the basic idea behind its play technique is "to prevent itself from being exploited." "The theory behind it is almost paranoid," as engineer Fredrik Dahl explains. Before the machines hit the casinos, the makers spent two years trying to dumb the AI down so players wouldn't walk away from the machines. Even with the adjustment, it's estimated that only 100 players around the world even have a chance of taking the game down. Michael Kaplan has profiled the machines for The New York Times — be sure to read the full article for all the details.

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It's the work of San Francisco studio Bot & Dolly, which believes its new technology can "tear down the fourth wall" in the theater. "Through large-scale robotics, projection mapping and software engineering, audiences will witness the trompe l'oeil effect pushed to new boundaries," says creative director Tarik Abdel-Gawad. "We believe this methodology has tremendous potential to radically transform visual art forms and define new genres of expression." Box is an effective demonstration of the studio's projection mapping system, but it works in its own right as an enthralling piece of art.

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Original author: 
Jacob Kastrenakes

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One of the biggest personal data collectors around is getting ready to open its vaults to the public. According to Forbes, you'll soon be able to request your personal files from Acxiom, a marketing company that holds a database on the interests and details of over 700 million people. That database reportedly holds information on consumers' occupations, phone numbers, religions, shopping habits, and health issues, to name a few. That data has traditionally been given only to marketers — for a fee, of course — but Acxiom has decided to let consumers peer into its database as well. Whether individuals will have to pay too is still up for debate, but it's been decided that a person can only view their own file.

Continue reading…

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Original author: 
(author unknown)

Researchers have developed a computational model that can predict video game players’ in-game performance and provide a corresponding challenge they can beat, leading to quicker mastery of new skills. The advance not only could help improve user experiences with video games but also applications beyond the gaming world.

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