"Today I'm Dressed in C Major" -- A Cyborg Artist

Neil Harbisson is an artist who was born with a rare form of colorblindness called achromatopsia -- he sees everything in grayscale. The typical "colorblindness" we talk about is more of a color confusion in which some colors blend with others, or it's hard to distinguish between certain similar colors. So Harbisson's condition is unusual to start with. What makes it rad is that he wears an "eyeborg," an assistive device that reads colors in front of his face and plays musical tones in his ear. This technology gives him a way to experience color, and after many years of using the device full-time, it has become like a native sense to him. He also uses it in his art, and he shows some examples in this talk. He has even extended the device to go beyond the typical human visual color spectrum, so now he perceives infrared and ultraviolet.

Harbisson is one of a growing group of cyborgs. (Amber Case is another.) What's it like being a cyborg? Apparently pretty cool. Here's a brief, fun TED Talk in which Harbisson explains the situation:

And here's a Discovery clip about Harbisson from 2007, with a bit more detail about the eyeborg and its development:

Finally, Harbisson has an extensive Wikipedia page, including detailed explanations of the eyeborg and his Cyborg Foundation. Well worth a look if you're interested in the specifics of how the system works, and/or want to become a cyborg.

Also relevant is DanKam, a smartphone app that helps colorblind people discern colors. DanKam has helped me lots of times -- I don't see dark greens well, so I use DanKam to pump up the visual volume.

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Make Spreadsheets a Whole Lot Easier With This Excel Trick
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While data nerds may love a good spreadsheet, many office workers open Microsoft Excel with a certain amount of resistance. Inputting data can be a monotonous task. But a few tricks can make it a whole lot easier. Business Insider has a new video highlighting one of those shortcuts—a way to create a range that changes with the data you input.

Dynamic named ranges change and grow with your data, so, for instance, if one column is time and another is, say, dollar value, the value can change automatically as time goes on. If you do this, it's relatively easy to create a chart using this data, by simply inserting your named ranges as your X and Y values. The chart will automatically update as your range expands.

It's easier to see in the program itself, so watch the full video on Business Insider. Microsoft also has its own instructions here, or you can check out this video from the YouTube channel Excel Tip, which also has dozens of other useful tutorials for making Microsoft Excel your hardworking assistant.

[h/t Business Insider]

Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist (who is the subject of today's Google Doodle) predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.


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