What’s cool today? 21 June 2019 edition

What’s cool today is:

Later I’m going to the Science Museum with Megan to see a special cut of a new Smithsonian Channel documentary about the Apollo program called APOLLO’S MOON SHOT. It’s being shown on the museum’s IMAX screen (which is I believe the fifth largest in the country), and is being introduced by a veteran pioneer of aviation who also happens to be a lady, and it’s being soundtracked by some sort of psychadelic guitars-and-saxophones-and-effects-pedals outfit called Teeth of the Sea.

The poster is really cool:


Somewhat related to this (in the sense that one almost trips over references to the first moon landing at the moment as we near the fiftieth anniversary of that immense event) is a cool set of pictures curated by The Atlantic of when NASA tried to make a dusty corner of Arizona look and feel like the moon to test their equipment.

On the one hand it’s a bit ugly in the way they just blew up vast chunks of desert to replicate the moon’s craters. On the other hand it’s astronauts in the desert wearing denim jeans and spacesuits, driving lunar rovers. It’s wild.


Check out the gallery here.

It ends on a link to the location in Google Maps which stills shows signs of those man-made craters and is a particularly dangerous click if, like me, you often find yourself Streetviewing your way around desolate stretches of highway and sparsely-populated towns in the Arizona desert.

What’s also cool is this guy’s write-up of using a particular piece of journalistic technology called the TRS-80 which was a kind of electronic typewriter-cum-modem which allowed hacks to file copy from the road using acoustic telephone handset couplers.

It has a very specific aesthetic and I kind of love it:


I particularly enjoyed reading this piece because, as Wayne says in his introduction, “I didn’t write this for clicks, or popularity, or recognition. I wrote it for my own edification,” and that’s an attitude I can absolutely get behind when it comes to detailed, passionate, indulgent, readable recollections and memoirs. I loved it.

I stumbled on Wayne’s TRS-80 story in the Hacker News comments on another more mainstream story in which someone describes using a 30-year-old computer to write a column for The Atlantic.

And finally, in a very and finally sort of way, a mis-Googling of ‘TRS-80’ for ‘TR 80’ turned up results showing cute Asian girls holding a digital camera which looks more like a pocket make-up mirror and led me to the product page for the Casio TR 80 which confirms that it is indeed a digital camera from a few years ago which offers, among other more standard features, the following:

  • Pimple and Mark Removed
  • Lip Effects
  • Cheek Effects
  • Nose Sculpting
  • Eye Translucency Processing

Well, now.

Fortunately (and somewhat inevitably) Sam Byford covered this genre of gadget for The Verge a few years ago:  How Casio is selling $900 selfie cameras in China.

The development of this type of gadget led to the creation of this, which is just so damn cool and I kind of want one: