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Weekend Workshop: Show off your record collection with this DIY storage frame

One of the great things about vinyl records, other than the warm embrace of analog audio, is the large-format artwork on their covers. Why hide those iconic album covers in a milk crate when you can give them the spotlight they deserve, in a sleek wood frame on the wall? These frames are so simple you can make them in twos or threes for more impact. Better yet, the album covers can be slipped in and out of the frames without moving them off the wall. So when you want to change up the look or listen to a favorite disk, you can switch records out in seconds.

Make it with simple tools

You can make this project with just a few basic tools. If you have a table saw and the skill to use it safely, you can do everything with that one tool — but owning such a major machine isn’t necessary, as we prove in the above video. You can cut the backing board with an inexpensive circular saw, guided by a straight piece of wood clamped on the workpiece. As for the thin strips, you can cut them off with a handsaw and some careful layout with a square, but a miter saw makes it easier to make precise 45-degree cuts for clean miter joints in the most visible part of the project. Just add a few clamps, and you’ll be ready to tackle this basic but totally brag-worthy project.

Materials needed

  • Base (backing board), MDF, 1/4 in. thick by 15 in. wide by 14-3/4 in. tall
  • Pocket strips, solid wood, 1/4 in. thick by 1-1/8 in. wide, in two lengths: 2@14-3/4 in. and 1@12-3/4 in.
  • Frame strips, solid wood, 1/4 in. thick by 1-3/8 in. wide, each 14-7/8 in. from mitered tip to mitered tip
  • 2 Extra-Thin Flush Mount Brackets, 1 in. x 1 in.
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Sandpaper
  • Finishing oil

That’s it! It’s so cheap and easy you have no excuse not to build at least two of these badboys for your living room.

Step-by-step instructions

Figure out the dimensions of the backing board, based on the width of your wood strips and the 12-1/2-in.-wide pocket you need for the record cover.
Cut the backing board to size from 1/4-in. MDF or plywood. Use a circ saw and cutting guide or simple fence to do this. A tablesaw will work even better if you have one.
Cut the three strips that form the pocket around the record cover. Start with the two side strips that run top to bottom, glue and clamp them on, and then figure out the right length for the bottom strip and attach that one too. Let the glue dry for 30 minutes at least, or an hour if you can, before attaching the top (outer) frame.
Cut the frame strips to length, making sure the angles and lengths are all the same (see tips above).
Apply glue to the tiny joint areas, and use blue painter’s tape to pull all the miter joints together at once. Apply the tape front and back so the frame stays flat as it dries. Give it an hour or two for the glue to firm up if you can, before clamping it onto the pocket assembly and completing the project.
Use a block and some 120-grit paper to sand all the joints level and pit a tiny bevel on all the edges and corners of the outer frame.
To this outer, mitered frame to the parts below, first put a record cover in the pocket for reference, so the outer frame covers its edges evenly. Then smear some glue on the pocket strips, lay the outer frame down on top, and adjust it side to side and up and down before putting some weights on the top to act as clamps.
Finish sanding with 150- and 220-grit paper, and then apply one or two coats of any oil finish, like Watco oil or Minwax Tung Oil finish. Just flood it once with a rag and wipe off the excess.
If the surface feels rough after the last coat of oil dries, try rubbing it with some brown paper from a grocery bag. That’s an easy way to smooth any finish.
Drill little pilot holes and screw wall hangers on the back, making sure the screws are the right length so they won’t won’t pop out the front!
Find a high-visibility spot and turn your favorite vinyl into classy wall art.

Make your clamps go farther

If you look closely, you’ll pick up a lot of pro clamping tips in the above video. First off, you’ll notice that I placed thicker, narrower strips of wood over the thin pocket strips I was gluing and clamping down. Those thicker pieces are not glued down; they are there to spread out the clamping pressure so we can use fewer clamps and still get a great bond along the full length of the strip.

Then there’s the painter’s tape we used to clamp the miter joints (see below), then there is the sand bags we used to clamp down the outer frame onto the pocket below. When clamping down that mitered frame, we could have used a pile of normal wood clamps to get good pressure along all the long pieces, but clamps are pricey. Also, the sand bags make it easier to align that outer frame and clamp it right there without it shifting around. By the way, you can DIY these weight bags by pouring cheap sand into one-gallon Ziploc baggies.

Bonus tip: Always spread glue out evenly after squirting it on. Your finger or a little brush are great tools. You want the glue surface to be as large as possible for a strong bond.

A range of materials will work

The materials for this project are all available at your local home center, and you don’t have to use exactly what we used. You’ll need a piece of thin MDF or plywood for the backing board, and two sizes of thin wood strips, which are available at 1/4 inch thick, and in various widths. Three of the narrower strips go on the backing board to create a pocket with an open top edge, and then four wider ones are mitered together to create a beautiful frame that goes on top. The strips for the outer frame need to be a little wider than the pocket strips, so they overhang them a little on both the inside and outside edges. That way, you won’t see the outside edges of the backing board and pocket strips, and the album cover will be held in place at the same time.

If you can’t find strips that are the exact width as ours, don’t sweat it. It’s all about making a pocket that fits the record cover, and an outer frame that just hides the edges. Standard albums are 12.25 inches (12 1/4″) across, so you need to create an inner pocket that is roughly 12.50 (12 1/2″) wide. So depending on the width of your strips, you can just size the backing board to get the right size pocket with the strips you have.

We don’t show wall hangers in the video, but almost any type will do. See below for the hangers we used, as well as a complete list of the other materials, and their final sizes. Refer to the project sketch down below for the whole picture.

How to cut and assemble flawless miter joints

The most challenging part of this project is the 45-degree miter joints in the thin outer frame. If you nail them, they deliver a sleek, professional look. But if the length of any of the pieces varies, or each angle isn’t a perfect 45 degrees, you’ll get gaps in these very visible joints. Here’s how to nail the miters.

Your miter saw is the star here, plus a roll of blue painter’s tape. You can also cut these miters on a table saw, or with a handsaw, but we highly recommend that you invest in a miter saw at some point. You’ll use it for woodworking, DIY projects, and home renovation for the rest of your life.

To nail the 45 degree angle, we made some test cuts with our miter saw, then checked them with the 45-degree side of a combination square. Luckily, our saw was accurate from the jump, but all saws allow some way to adjust the angle settings. Read the manual if you run into trouble.

To nail the length of each strip, we first cut one end of every strip at 45 degrees and then set up a work stop on the end of the miter saw. This is nothing more than a long strip of wood screwed on behind the fence, with a block of wood screwed to it to catch that first pointy end we just cut. That end goes against the stop, and then I switch the saw over to the opposite 45-degree setting to cut the second end, with the tip-to-tip length guaranteed every time.

The coolest thing you’ll learn on this project is how to use basic blue painter’s tape as a clamp, for creating clean miter joints in thin pieces that would be hard to assemble with traditional clamps. Apply some glue to the tiny end surfaces on these mitered pieces, then pull strips of blue tape across all the joints, front and back. Painter’s tape has some built-in stretch, so it can actually pull the joints together while the glue dries. It’s one of our favorite low-tech tricks.

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Airbnb is investing $5 million to expand Experiences in the US

While Airbnb’s focus will always likely be home rentals, it has big plans to grow Experiences this year. It’s investing $5 million into expanding Experiences to 200 cities (from 50) across the US in an effort to entice more people to get up and travel. In its announcement, the company shared some growth figures related to the feature: It said global weekly guest booking are up over 2,000 percent since last year and that the number of Experiences are up by 500 percent. It now has 4,000 Experiences on offer around the world and 1,000 across 50 cities in the US.

Whether that number would quadruple when Airbnb starts offering Experiences in 200 US cities remains to be seen. If it does, then it would be great source of income for the company, which takes a 20 percent cut from the activities listed on its website — especially since a lot of them aren’t cheap! As FastCompany notes, Airbnb is likely hoping that an Experience can persuade people living, say, a couple of towns away, to go on a weekend trip they’d spend at home otherwise. The expansion could get users to travel more frequently, since there’s something to see nearby, and could also create new customers in those who’d rather not wander too far from home.

Source: Airbnb


AI-powered face swapping has taken a dystopian turn

As if the issues like revenge porn and AI-powered facial recognition searches weren’t creepy enough, a Motherboard report reveals yet another unsettling use of technology: “deepfakes.” Within a month of locating a Redditor who used machine learning to swap pictures of mainstream actresses onto the bodies of women performing in porn movies, the outlet has found people using an app based on his techniques to create videos using images of women they know.

By scraping social media accounts for a full library of photos and using web apps that find porn with women who have faces that resemble the person they’re basing it on, it’s automating a process that some revenge porn sites had already been doing manually. We’ve seen similar technology used in movies for years, but with AI running on desktop GPUs or using cloud computing, random people suddenly have access and are using it in unsettling ways (like the Nicholas Cage-on-Amy Adams scene shown here).

Worse yet, Wired spoke to a lawyer who helped write laws against “nonconsensual porn,” and she said we may not be able to rely on those legal protections to stop it. While it’s possible that the app creator could be liable for damages, or that people who find out they’ve had their faces used could sue for defamation, there are a number of hurdles involved — like finding out that someone has made one of these about you in the first place.

Source: Motherboard


Google’s $249 AI-powered Clips camera is finally on sale

At its Pixel 2 launch event last year, Google also revealed its tiny Clips camera, that uses AI to figure out when it should take a picture or video. Now the $249 device has quietly become available for purchase on its website, however as Android Police notes, it could take a while to arrive. Depending on the address used, I saw potential delivery dates between range between February 27th and March 5th.

So should you order one? While most cameras rely on your best guess about when to take a picture, Google Clips has had its AI trained by pro photographers. The 2-inch square has a shutter button 12MP sensor, 130-degree field of view and 16GB of storage to save up to 3 hours of selected video. Chris Velazco was impressed by the results during our hands-on test in October, but we’ll need more time to find out how good it is at sorting through daily life for the highlights, and if we feel secure with its strategy of sending the results to a paired phone.

Via: Android Police

Source: Google Store


Epic is shuttering ‘Paragon’ following success of ‘Fortnite’

Last week, an Epic Games representative explained Paragon’s uncertain future on the game’s subreddit, which worried fans — especially as it confirmed that developers had been siphoned off to assist with the massively successful Fortnite. It turns out those apocalyptic concerns were correct: Paragon is getting shut down on April 26th. To make up for it, every player, on all platforms, can apply for a refund.

Paragon will close down on April 26, 2018. For more information, click here.

— Paragon (@Paragon) January 26, 2018

“After careful consideration, and many difficult internal debates, we feel there isn’t a clear path for us to grow Paragon into a MOBA that retains enough players to be sustainable,” Epic Games’ statement read. “We didn’t execute well enough to deliver on the promise of Paragon. We have failed you — despite the team’s incredibly hard work — and we’re sorry.”

Paragon was a surer bet two years ago when the studio, known for the Gears of War and Unreal franchises, announced they were making a third-person MOBA. The game arrived in March 2016 and got a dedicated but small playerbase, which it tried to expand by going free-to-play in early 2017. Despite those efforts, the game never became a big player in the eSports circuit.

Epic launched Fortnite shortly thereafter in July 2017, long after introducing the cartoony tower defense game in 2011 — but the studio shrewdly released a PUBG-like F2P Battle Royale mode months later that became wildly successful. Like, 45 million registered players and over 2 million on at the same time-level of successful. Sadly, Epic decided Paragon wasn’t worth keeping alive compared to those numbers — and yesterday’s bet on a MOBA best-seller fell to the unexpected whirlwind success of the Battle Royale subgenre.

Players who want to apply for a refund can do so here.

Via: Kotaku

Source: Epic Games


Venmo’s 25-cent instant transfers are now available for everyone

Payment sharing services from Paypal, Square and Venmo are great, but it can take some time to move funds from those accounts to your bank so you can use them in real life. Last year, Paypal introduced $0.25 instant transfer fees to make it much faster to move money to your real-life bank. Now Paypal-owned Venmo is doing the same, offering transfers of funds in less than 30 minutes.

Beginning this week, you can transfer your Venmo balance to your Visa or Mastercard debit cards for a flat 25 cent fee. You can still move the funds the old way for free; it will just take longer. The new instant transfer option will roll out to Venmo users over the next few days. Just update your Venmo app to see if you have access, yet.

Source: Venmo


HTC Vive Pro cameras can be used to track hands, controllers

Beyond the uprated screen resolution over its predecessor, the HTC Vive Pro’s most obvious change is in the form of a secondary external camera on the front. Although speculation suggested that the stereoscopic array could enable augmented reality, it turns out that the cameras are used for depth sensing, which can improve the safety-orientated chaperone feature and enable basic controller and hand tracking.

One of the major difficulties faced by virtual reality companies in headset and controller development is occlusion. If something gets in the way of the sensors, suddenly the system powering the headset doesn’t know where it is and that could get uncomfortable for the wearer. The HTC Vive’s Valve-developed Lighthouse trackers had less trouble with that than the Oculus Rift’s cameras, but it still wasn’t perfect.

HTC/Valve’s Lighthouse 2.0 tracking solution, due to release later in 2018, will improve this with support for four tracking stations, but the Vive Pro’s cameras could provide a secondary layer of anti-occlusion technology too. In an interview with HTC Vice President of VR technology Raymond Pao, Engadget learned that the stereoscopic cameras can track hands independently of controllers or Vive trackers.

That wasn’t its original intention, however. HTC’s initial plan was to use them to augment its chaperone feature which provides a digital wall to prevent VR users from hurting themselves and damaging hardware. The cameras would be able to provide a more nuanced chaperone tracking system, thereby showing objects which could be knocked over, or potentially pets or children getting in the way.

That is because the cameras are only capable of “low VGA” resolution (640 x 480), so wouldn’t be fun to look through for augmented reality purposes. However, because of their depth-sensing capabilities, early developers playing around with the Vive Pro found that they could provide basic hand-tracking. Although simple, it was enough to provide precise tracking for fingers, making it possible to play VR games without motion controllers.

That form of “inside-out” tracking does have its limitations — putting your hands outside of the view of the camera would break tracking — but it shows interesting potential. Even then it could be used as a backup tracking solution for controllers should the wearer’s body or another object block the line of sight to the mounted Lighthouse sensors.

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Microsoft is secretly building a slimmer, more modern version of Windows

Microsoft’s latest internal project is reportedly a new pared-down version of Windows code-named ‘Polaris.’ This new version of Windows isn’t a successor to Windows 10, not in the traditional sense. Instead, it’s an alternative operating system more like iOS or Chrome OS — a lightweight OS designed for devices like ultra-mobile laptops, 2-in-1s, and tablets. According to Windows Central, it could be the future of Windows.

All right so what is it? At this point, it looks like Polaris could takeover for Windows 10 S, the pared-down student version of Windows 10 that Microsoft is using to test the lightweight OS waters.

Windows 10 S could be seen as something of a trial balloon here, with Microsoft angling toward the education market to see how a pared-down Windows experience would go over with the average Windows-user.

Reportedly, Polaris aims to strip out all the legacy components that make Windows 10 a fully featured operating system in favor of a system designed around the basics — like Chrome OS. An operating system designed for people who typically work out of a web browser. The new Polaris-based Windows would be quicker, more nimble, and carry a lot less baggage.

Polaris would, according to Window Central, be built entirely on Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, or UWP, making it a much more hospitable environment to existing UWP apps and potentially offer battery life and performance gains.

“The current Windows Shell is one of the major legacy components that Microsoft is replacing in Polaris; along with stripping out legacy, unneeded Win32 components and apps like Notepad or Paint, in favor of a UWP experience, just like Windows 10 Mobile,” Windows Central reports.

It’s an interesting move and it certainly makes sense with Microsoft’s recent shift toward unifying its Windows experience across all of its platforms, but it’s unclear whether or not Polaris would end up seeing widespread adoption. Currently, Chromebooks offer a unique niche for lightweight on-the-go computing, and Windows 10 exists in its full version on laptops and mobile devices up and down the price spectrum without any issues. Pulling out functionality in favor of marginal gains in performance and battery life might not appeal to the average laptop, tablet, or 2-in-1 user.

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Intel’s 9th-generation ‘Ice Lake’ CPUs will have fixes for Meltdown, Spectre

At the beginning of Intel’s fourth quarter 2017 earnings conference call, CEO Brian Krzanich immediately jumped into an update about patching the Meltdown and Spectre security issues found with the company’s processors. He confirmed that Intel is currently working on silicon-based changes for upcoming products that will address the problems on a hardware level. These products are expected to hit the market later in 2018. 

Krzanich also hinted at the current problems Intel faces with the first software-based patch addressing Meltdown.  

“While we made progress, I’m acutely aware that we have more to do, we’ve committed to being transparent keeping our customers and owners appraised of our progress and through our actions, building trust,” he said. “Our near-term focus is on delivering high-quality mitigations to protect our customers’ infrastructure from these exploits.” 

Speculation points to knowledge of the Meltdown and Spectre issues long before acknowledging them in public. That is because processor designs remain locked for at least a year before they become products sold on the market. Intel’s ninth-generation “Ice Lake” family of processors is expected to launch by the end of 2018 or in early 2019 based on 10nm process technology. Thus, the fixes needed to be in place prior to December 2017.  

Google’s Project Zero team went public with its Meltdown and Spectre findings at the beginning of January. But Intel already knew about the problems and admits it began distributing firmware updates to hardware partners in early December. It addressed five generations of Intel processors, only customers began reporting an unusually high number of system reboots after applying the update. As Krzanich said in his opening statement, Intel still has “more to do.” 

That said, how long Intel knew about the issues prior to the public exposure is unknown at this point. The next processor family slated to hit the market is Intel’s eighth-generation “Cannon Lake” chips in early 2018, the company’s first processors based on 10nm process technology. It’s essentially a smaller version of Intel’s seventh-generation processor design, aka Kaby Lake, so hardware-based fixes for Meltdown and Spectre likely won’t be present. 

Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) are three exploits presented by Google Project Zero, Cybrus Technology, and Graz University of Technology. They take advantage of how modern processors “think ahead” while computing multiple instructions using a technique called speculative execution. Processors “predict” the outcome of their tasks based on information stored in memory, thus speeding up the overall computing process. The exploits manage to access all that unsecured data. 

The problem exists in all processors dating back to at least 2011 from Intel and AMD (x86), and those manufactured by Samsung, Qualcomm, and others based on ARM’s mobile processor architecture. Hardware companies are scrambling to patch what they can through software-based updates, and directly to the hardware in future processor releases as indicated by Intel.  

“Security has always been a priority for us and these events reinforce our continuous mission to develop the world’s most secured products,” Krzanich said. “This will be an ongoing journey.” 

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Is your browser mining bitcoin? ‘Malvertisements’ are hijacking Google Ads

As if invasive ads weren’t bad enough, Trend Micro uncovered a particularly sinister batch of ‘malvertisements’ that aim to exploit Google’s DoubleClick ad service to serve you ads containing hidden cryptocurrency mining software.

“Attackers abused Google’s DoubleClick, which develops and provides internet ad serving services, for traffic distribution. Data from the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network shows affected countries include Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain. We have already disclosed our findings to Google,” Trend Micro reports.

As malware goes, it’s actually pretty clever — if also sinister and awful. It operates two separate scripts, one a coinhive cryptocurrency miner, the other a private web miner. Which one it will use is determined by a random number generator. When either one kicks in, it would use 80 percent of the affected computer’s CPU resources for the purposes of mining cryptocurrency.

“The affected webpage will show the legitimate advertisement while the two web miners covertly perform their task. We speculate that the attackers’ use of these advertisements on legitimate websites is a ploy to target a larger number of users, in comparison to only that of compromised devices,” Trend Micro reports.

Trend Micro goes on to report that the number of incidents of these malvertisements has gone down since January 24, so we might be in the clear. Still, it might be a good idea to make sure your security apps are all up to date — and make sure your browser has its latest security patches. Chances are Google will get the exploit under control quickly, but there are some countermeasures you can implement in the meantime.

“Blocking JavaScript-based applications from running on browsers can prevent coinhive miners from using CPU resources. Regularly patching and updating software — especially web browsers –can mitigate the impact of cryptocurrency malware and other threats that exploit system vulnerabilities,” Trend Micro recommends.

All right, so how can you protect yourselves from this exploit while Google gets it sorted out? Turns out there are a couple things you can do. First, make sure your browser is up to date. You can do that by heading to your preferences and checking for updates in most modern browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Second, run an adblocker on any site that you feel a little uncomfortable about. Lastly, you can always disable JavaScript entirely, but doing so will break a lot of websites and it’s only a good idea if you’re very worried about your security.

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