A $220 Million Mistake, Early Bitcoin Investor Forgot His Password

Bitcoin Investor Forgets Password
(Getty/DjelicS)

Remembering passwords is one of the biggest pains of the modern era. Forgetting your Amazon, Gmail, or Netflix password can involve jumping through multiple hoops to reset, especially since two-factor authentication became a thing.

But I will never bemoan the forgotten password process again, after hearing about a Bitcoin investor who can’t remember his IronKey password. Turns out he can’t access his digital bitcoin wallet, worth a cool $220 MILLION! Plus, he’s used 8 of his 10 attempts. He only has two tries left before his IronKey hard drive encrypts forever and he permanently loses access to millions.

The story was featured in the New York Times about a German programmer, Stefan Thomas, who was paid for a project in Bitcoin in 2011. Since then, the bitcoin stock has SOARED (it’s up like 50 percent just in the last few months). He saved the password to his digital wallet on an IronKey hard drive and then wrote the password on a piece of paper. He lost that paper, which now looks like a $220 MILLION mistake.

It’s the type of lost password nightmare that would give you enough anxiety for two lifetimes. He told the NYTimes he would lay in bed and think about it, try a new strategy, and be desperate after it failed again. He’s put the drive in a secure facility for the time being, as he tries to scheme another strategy to rescue his $200+ million bitcoin wallet.

“I got to a point where I had to let it be in the past, just for my mental health,” he said.

This is exactly why you use a simple password involving your name and jersey number from high school for every single PW ever.

 

Nintendo Reveals New ‘Mario Red & Blue’ Themed Switch Console

Mario Themed Switch
(Nintendo)

Great!  Now I have to explain to my wife why we need another Switch in the house.

Nintendo announced today that a new Mario-themed Nintendo Switch will be available to purchase on February 12th, 2021.  This is also the same day that the highly anticipated Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury releases.  Coincidence?  I think not!

The system will cost $299.99 USD (the same price as the current regular version) and features a color scheme that resembles the plumber’s classic outfit.  It will include red Joy-Con controllers with blue straps, a blue Joy-Con grip, a red Nintendo Switch dock, and a red Nintendo Switch system.  It even comes with a stylized Mario Red & Blue Edition Carrying Case and a screen protector (for when your kid accidentally drops it down the stairs).

If you’ve been holding off on purchasing a Switch, this could be a great place to start.  There aren’t any fancy designs on the dock like the Animal Crossing one, but its bright colors are a nice alternative to the originals black and gray.  Like anything Nintendo related though, I’m sure the demand is going to be insane for this one.

Prominent Harvard Professor Says Alien Technology Visited in 2017

Oumuamua alien technology
(Getty/dottedhippo)

There has never been a better time to be a UFO nerd. We’ve had plenty of exciting space news in the past few years, including a report the Pentagon recovered off-world vehicles, UFO videos becoming declassified, and now a prominent Harvard physicist who claims an alien has ALREADY visited us three years ago.

In a new book coming out later this month, the chair of Harvard’s Astronomy Department, Avi Loeb, argues compellingly that an object that wandered into our solar system several years ago wasn’t a rock, but a piece of alien technology. This goes along with the theory that says our first signs of an alien civilization won’t be an invasion or landing, but the discovery of their trash floating in space.


His book, titled “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” examines something called Oumuamua, an interstellar object first observed in our solar system in 2017. Some scientists wrote it off as a comet, but Loeb said there are compelling reasons why it’s not.

“What would happen if a caveman saw a cellphone?” he said to the New York Post. “He’s seen rocks all his life, and he would have thought it was just a shiny rock.”

The theoretical physicist argues in his book that the dimensions of the object, five to 10 times “longer than it was wide” is not typical for a natural space object. Not only is it not typical, but it’s also completely unlike anything we’ve seen before. It was also much brighter and shinier than most comets.

And the movement of the cigar-like shaped object also supports his theory, as it’s pushing away from the sun’s gravitational pull was “highly statistically significant.” He called that movement the straw that broke the camel’s back in claiming it was a normal comet.

He theorized it could be space junk, discarded from another civilization.

“The only way to look for [alien civilizations] is to look for their trash,” he said. As if we don’t pick up enough trash on our own, now we gotta start cleaning up after the aliens.

A Japanese Electronic Technician Made a Working Portable PS4

ps4 in briefcase
(Twitter/DXTerraria)

In this day and age, we have laptops, cellphones, Nintendo Switch’s and all sorts of other devices for our portable gaming needs.  If those weren’t enough though and you’ve caught yourself looking at your PS4 or PS5 console thinking “You know what?  I’d like to carry that around in a sleek-looking briefcase”, Japanese engineer DX Terraria has got your very specific request covered.

On Twitter, DX Terraria shared images of the first portable PlayStation 4 built by himself.  It’s fully functional, can be used anywhere, and has a screen and battery life of up to an hour.

Over at 9GAG, the original pictures (which include questions and answers about the system) were posted with English translations for us to follow along with.

According to DX, modifications had to be made to Sony’s original console to fit it into its new metal living quarters.  The briefcase contains everything you need for playing your favorite PlayStation games on the go and is 39 centimeters in length, 28 cm high, 11 cm wide, and the entire thing weighs 6.4 kilograms (basically the size of a PS5).

The cost of production is around 50,000 yen ($485.58 USD), and while he does mention that he won’t be selling his technical marvel, if he did decide to, extra fees would push the cost to around 150,000 yen ($1,456.75).

If you thought having a portable PS4 wasn’t already cool enough, DX Terraria posted a photo of the PS5 running on his new PS4 via remote play.  Wherever his travels might take him, as long as he has access to a stable internet connection, he has the best of both current and next-gen gaming worlds.

(DX Terraria)

Now, that is quite the flex.

Are These Dancing Robots Entertaining or Should We Call John Connor?

Dancing Robots
(YouTube/Boston Dynamics)

Dancing robots. Sounds so whimsical, but in reality, UTTERLY TERRIFYING. 2020 couldn’t leave without one last ominous (although some love it) warning about the future. A new video from robot aficionados Boston Dynamics had everyone buzzing for what they’ve taught robots to do this time.

It’s a stunning video that quickly went viral, pulling down millions of views and dominating conversations. The video, a legit robotic and engineering achievement, was meant to show off how much farther the company has advanced its robots over the past year. The video of the four robots doing a fully choreographed dance to “Do you love me?” was truly stunning.

These aren’t dad moves, these are some precisely executed maneuvers. It’s so good it left most people feeling it was faker than Hilaria Baldwin’s accent. But, it appears to be legit. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk ventured out publicly to quell speculation it was CGI because a robot uprising video from last year fooled a lot of people.

The robots featured are just prototypes (except for the robot dog, you can buy one of those for a cool $75k), but before long, robot prom will be available on a wider scale. Many seem to be utterly thrilled and enamored with the video, saying it makes robots seem way more accessible and less intimidating.

I, for one, welcome our dancing robot overlords, even if I choose to remain fearful of what their rapidly advancing capabilities mean for all of mankind. What if the wars of the future are fought by dance-off? Me trying to do the worm for the first time since 2003 is no match for one of these fleet-footed robots.

Tesla Update Lets Owners Replace Car Horn With Fart Noises

Tesla Fart Noises
(Tesla | lucamontevecchi)

It’s one of the coolest and most innovative car companies, and now Elon Musk has taken his killer cars into dad territory. Thanks to the latest holiday update, Tesla owners can now customize their car horns with a fart noise instead.

The new Tesla holiday update gives drivers the ability to use Boombox mode to broadcast custom audio outside the car. So, instead of the normal old car horn honk, you can swap in a goat scream, a fart, or more.

Tesla owners were waiting for this update, although I like to think personally it was entirely for the ability to make your fancy car fart on command. This is going to be a windfall for all Tesla Dads, who can now fart at will anytime the situation calls for it. Waiting to pick kids up from school? Turn it into a dang fart parade as they walk out. Someone cuts you off in traffic? Fart cacophony.

This will also let dads pull off the ultimate “pull my finger” misdirection. You can turn your fancy car into the world’s most expensive fart joke. And IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

Does this open the door to some Tesla people becoming uber-annoying by driving around and playing horrible music on Boombox mode? You betcha! Some sites are already speculating that attention-craved owners could theoretically drive around neighborhoods blasting ice cream truck music, but surely even they aren’t that craven (ok, some are).

Tesla is an innovator, and hopefully, this is just the beginning of a worldwide movement to replace car horns with fart noises.

NASA Scientists Achieve Quantum Teleportation Breakthrough

Quantum teleportation
(Getty/Yuichiro Chino)

In a major breakthrough for science, a collaboration of scientists from NASA, Harvard, CalTech, AT&T, and others have achieved ‘quantum teleportation’ for the first time. Everyone keeps calling it a major achievement because superlatives are essential when you don’t have a background in quantum mechanics. In short, it’s a big deal because it could revolutionize computing, leading to a quantum internet where information moves faster than the speed of light. A future where sending those memes has never been quicker. Talk about a Quantum Leap.

Science is fun, whether it’s NASA landing on an asteroid, planets aligning to make a Christmas Star, Grogu in space, or a billion other things. So, what exactly happened here? Scientists were able to transfer qubits (units of quantum information) faster than the speed of light over a distance of 27 miles.

The experiment was done using readily available equipment compatible with existing telecommunications infrastructure because the teams involved wanted to lay the groundwork for something that could feasibly work on a large scale. They want a “high-fidelity quantum Internet with practical devices,” according to the paper released on the study.

Basically, quantum communication systems are exciting because they are a ton faster and much more secure than regular networks (computer code can be hacked, versus quantum communication using photons).

It’s easy to see “teleportation” and think we just jumped into a Star Trek episode, where we can beam ourselves to Kroger to get groceries or beam home from the office to skip your commute, but we’re not there (yet!). Still, this news could feasibly change the game someday for how the internet works. And, possibly, much else in our world.

One of the lead scientists told SYFY Wire the breakthrough, and the future of quantum computing could revolutionize a lot more than the internet.

“Fully distributed quantum computing includes applications include GPS, secure computation beyond anything that can be achieved now, all the way to enabling advances in designing new materials and medicine, as well basic science discoveries,” he said. “It will unleash the full power of quantum computing and have a profound impact on our lives.”

Without much to celebrate in 2020, it is cool to see the early steps of something that will affect our future in a big way.

Dad Turns House Into Star Wars Christmas Light Show With Imperial March Remix

Dad's Star Wars Christmas Light Show
(YouTube/Living Light Shows)

Even though Winter is the darkest time of the year, Christmas lights never fail to brighten things up both literally and figuratively. There’s something about driving through typically pitch-black streets only to find a neighborhood filled with twinkling lights and bright, inflatable, larger-than-life decorations that fills us with joy. Though a few strings of Christmas lights is enough for most families to feel festive, Matt Johnson takes holiday decorations to a galaxy far, far away.

Matt Johnson, a dad who works in technology consulting and software development, has always had a passion for using technology in creative and innovative ways. Though Johnson has done many creative projects over the years, his next-level light shows gained international attention. The video of his 2017 light show has nearly a million views on YouTube (ok, half of them were me), and after a mere 5 seconds, it’s clear why. As much as we love The Mandalorian light show that’s currently trending, the force is strongest with this one.

The light show combines traditional Christmas lights, pixels, and an insanely cool custom soundtrack for maximum entertainment. Though the video is only three minutes long, Johnson’s creativity combined with the constantly-changing elements makes it feel like a fully-immersive journey.

Johnson explains on his website, “Our show is not your traditional light show! There are no inflatables, characters, blow molds, or other ‘traditional’ elements. Even the music is not traditional Christmas music; it is a custom sound track composed of Dubstep, EDM, hip hop, movie clips and even our children!”

“The result is an exciting show that feels like a dance party! Even the lights are not traditional, we use Pixels which are similar to what you would see in a stadium Jumbotron. Each pixel can be controlled individually and set to any color and intensity. This means many more effects than what can be done with Christmas lights!”

Johnson ran his light show for free in his Texas neighborhood, and wants to give others the opportunity to create their own. His YouTube channel features videos teaching viewers how to create specific elements of his incredible light show, from projection mapping to using apps to control the show’s moving parts. Johnson even sells kits on his Living Light Show website, allowing even us less-techy folks to create our own pro-level displays.

The latest video on Johnson’s channel shows this talented dad playing with some new technology for his 2020 light show, so keep your eyes open for his next incredible display – though if it’s anything like 2017, it’ll be hard to miss.

Schools Are Replacing Snow Days With Remote Learning and It’s Bullsh*t

Snow Day
(Getty/Gandee Vasan)

It’s that time of the year, where kids pray every night for a massive winter storm to wipe out the next morning’s school day. But it’s 2020, the “year like no other”, so even the simple joys of a snow day are called into question, as some school districts are shamefully opting for “remote days” when snow is preventing in-person classes. This. Is. Garbage.

It started in New York City, in advance of their biggest snowstorm in years, when the mayor said in-person learning would be closed but that all students would be expected to report for remote learning. They won’t be the last. The New York Times wrote about how remote learning could end snow days forever.

Before going further, because virus strategy can get highly politicized, let me unequivocally state my support for wearing masks, science, doing whatever we can to protect the most people. School administrators (like many) are facing incredibly difficult decisions, and have navigated tremendous hardship admirably, whether they ended up in-person (kids, especially younger ones, don’t seem to be transmitting the virus), hybrid, or fully remote. There are no easy answers.

But during a year full of stress and hardship, we can all agree that kids could use a damn snow day. Hell, we could ALL use a snow day. It’s one of the true joys of being a kid, getting a random day off to skip school, play in the snow, and drink hot chocolate. Even if the actual “playing in the snow part” is an hour of looking for old snow gear for 20 minutes of throwing around snowballs before giving up.

Remote learning is impressive, and it’s inspiring the way some teachers have tackled it. Zoom has changed work and school life for the better in some areas (I never want to leave my house for a parent-teacher conference again). And while it’s possible to quickly pivot to a “remote learning day” when in-person learning can’t happen, taking away the novelty of a snow day seems especially cruel.

I totally understand that students are behind and that we lost some time they won’t get back. But that doesn’t get made up in a day. And kids going outside for exercise and to play in the snow, a pretty safe activity, is a huge mental health boost for them. We can’t ignore the psychological benefits of pelting your brother in the face with a snowball.

It’s a crazy year, we all need to take it easier on ourselves. How should this be handled? Like it was by one school district in West Virginia. Facing the same snowstorm, here’s how they responded.

For generations, families have greeted the first snow day of the year with joy.  It is a time of renewed wonder at all the beautiful things that each season holds.  A reminder of how fleeting a childhood can be.  An opportunity to make some memories with your family that you hold on to for life,” the note read. I mean, hard truth on all counts. It goes on:

“It has been a year of seemingly endless loss and the stress of trying to make up for that loss.  For just a moment, we can all let go of the worry of making up for the many things we missed by making sure this is one thing our kids won’t lose this year.

So please, enjoy a day of sledding and hot chocolate and cozy fires.   Take pictures of your kids in snow hats they will outgrow by next year and read books that you have wanted to lose yourself in, but haven’t had the time.  We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday, but for tomorrow…go build a snowman.”

This should be our national snow day policy. “We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday, but for tomorrow…go build a snowman.”

It’s Not Too Late for Your Kids to Have a Virtual Visit With Santa

Santa visit
(Instagram/SamsClub)

Taking your kids to visit Santa is one of the mainstay holiday traditions. Sure, they probably get super nervous or cry, or tell Santa they want something crazy expensive you didn’t plan for. And yes, the price of a picture with Santa is roughly $320. But it’s also a memorable experience for kids who get genuinely starstruck, and the pictures with Santa year-over-year are a fun trip down memory lane for parents. In terms of rip-offs (it’s not the real Santa!), this one is recommended.

This year, though, most mall Santas are not adorning their throne in the food courts in malls around the country. But there’s still a way for your little ones to get a chance to talk to Santa, and it’s actually not bad (and maybe preferable?). You won’t be stuck in a long line, you won’t be tempted to buy six things you don’t need, and your kid will feel a little more comfortable. This year, meeting Santa has gone virtual.

There are a bunch of great options, and it’s not too late, for your kids to meet up with Santa. Macy’s, home of the iconic department store Santa, is offering a FREE virtual Santa meeting for kids.

You can even get a free downloadable “selfie” with the big guy, which will be another testament to “this crazy time.”

Nordstrom is also doing the virtual Santa, although their visits cost $20. But all proceeds are benefitting the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which is super cool and a very good operation (said as someone who was a Big Brother for a decade).

 

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A post shared by Nordstrom (@nordstrom)


Sam’s Club is also offering free Santa experiences for members, and they let you personalize it by giving Santa your child’s name, age, and something you want Santa to say. And you get a free video and photo to mark the occasion! They also have a pretty diverse lineup of Santas, including English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and ASL Santas.

 

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A post shared by Sam’s Club (@samsclub)

And if you want a more in-depth Santa virtual experience, you can go with JingleRing. It’s cool because you get a little more bang for your buck, and also because you can have more than one person on the call, so you can have guests (cousins?) in different areas all get to “visit” Santa at the same time.

Yeah, 2020 has changed almost everything, so we have to get a little more creative with keeping the magic of the season alive.

College Student Designs Smartwatch App To Stop His Veteran Dad’s PTSD Nightmares

Son invents smartwatch app to stop dad's night terrors
(Youtube/KARE 11)

Dads often pride themselves on being problem-solvers. When something’s wrong, dad-senses start tingling and don’t stop until the problem is fixed – or at least until all of the relatively-safe options have been exhausted. But there comes a time in many kids’ lives where their parents are the ones who need help. And incredibly, the kids whose diapers we changed, the ones who would inexplicably forget where their mouths were when it was time to eat (but could always find it when they got their hands on something inedible), they become the ones who save the day.

Patrick Skluzacek was a goofy, excitable, outgoing dad. But after serving as a convoy commander for the U.S. Army in Iraq, something inside of him fundamentally changed. In 2007, when Patrick returned, he was haunted by his experiences overseas. Most disturbingly, Patrick had terrible nightmares – nightmares that left him flailing and sweating as he re-lived the horrors he’d experienced. He had left Iraq, but Iraq had not left him.

The tortured dad began to use alcohol and pills in an attempt to escape from the war that was ravaging his brain, even after his body was no longer physically fighting. Patrick lost his wife, his home, and the life he worked so hard for.

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Patrick is just one of the 11-30% of veterans who return home suffering from PTSD. Though there are trauma-based approaches to controlling the symptoms, PTSD presents differently in individuals making treatment exceedingly difficult.

In 2015, Patrick’s son Tyler was a senior at his college in Minnesota when he heard about a Washington D.C. hackathon. Each hackathon pulled programmers together to work on finding solutions to specific problems, and coincidentally, this hackathon was geared towards developing apps for people with PTSD. With his dad at the forefront of his mind, Tyler saved up for a ticket and made his way to D.C.

Targeting his dad’s problem, Tyler gathered a team of programmers to create an app to stop night terrors. The smartwatch would track the user’s pulse and movement, and upon receiving data associated with night terrors, the watch would begin to vibrate. According to Tyler, the watch would provide a similar sort of stimulation that a service dog would provide – disrupting the REM cycle and pulling the PTSD sufferer out of their night terror.

The watch would need to provide “just enough stimulus to pull them out of the deep REM cycle and allow the sleep to continue unaffected,” Tyler told NPR.

Once the first prototype was done, Patrick was on board to act as a guinea pig for his son’s invention. Through an enormous amount of tweaking, adjusting both the intensity of the vibrations and the data that caused the watch to respond, Tyler’s app eventually fulfilled its incredible purpose.

“It was night and day when I put that watch on and it started working,” Patrick recalled. The vibrations, he explained, were “little miracles.”

Tyler’s app was purchased by an investor who used it to start NightWare, a company that aims to make the service more widely-available to sufferers of PTSD.

As for Patrick, his life is finally back on track thanks to his son, who is now a graduate student in computer science. He has infrequent nightmares, but his all-consuming night terrors are a thing of the past. The FDA gave its approval for the life-changing app, meaning that before long, many others just like Patrick will finally have their lives back.

Deployed Dad Stays In Touch With Kids Through Ring Doorbell

Kids Use Doorbell for Deployed Dad
(YouTube/Ring)

Though there are certainly drawbacks to living in a world run by technology, advancements in technology provide incredible solutions to many of life’s problems. Especially during the era of COVID, technology has allowed us to stay connected when other modes of communication are no longer an option. Even before the pandemic, communication was a challenge for many – particularly members of the Armed Forces deployed overseas. Being deployed means leaving everyone and everything behind in order to bravely defend your country, and sadly, it often means missing out on some of your kids’ milestones and celebrations.

While stationed in the Middle East with Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, Peter DeCrans bought his family a Ring doorbell, assuming it would help him keep his family safe while he was away. For those who don’t know, a Ring doorbell is equipped with a camera that connects to the homeowner’s devices. If someone presses the button on your Ring doorbell while you’re away from home, you can see the camera’s video feed from wherever you are.

This feature brings peace of mind when you’re away from home, knowing that you’re able to keep a virtual eye on your house from anywhere in the world. But for Peter DeCrans, this feature gave him an incredible gift – one that no doorbell in history has been able to provide (a very odd sentence, yes, but they’re just going to keep getting weirder as technology evolves).

Every morning before school, DeCran’s 7-year-old son Zerick and 5-year-old daughter Petroula recorded a video using their Ring doorbell. And throughout his 10-month deployment, Peter DeCrans was able to receive them – over 100 videos of his adorable kids to keep his spirits up and remind him why he’s doing what he’s doing.

The videos became a highly-anticipated part of DeCrans’s days, something he eagerly looked forward to and cherished enormously during his time away from home.

DeCrans told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “It was one of the best things ever, a little slice of home. When you’re gone that long, you miss your kids, and you want to see them. It’s a way to feel connected to what’s going on.”

From thousands of miles away, DeCrans got the latest news from his kids. He heard about their days, new dances they learned, skills they proudly mastered – DeCrans was kept up-to-date on it all.

“It was just part of the routine,” he explained. “They’d get dressed for school, and then they’d swing outside and leave a quick message telling me about their day. … One day Zerick had really long hair, and the next day he had a buzz cut because he had a wood tick in his hair, and he didn’t want long hair anymore.”

In return, DeCrans recorded his own videos. Using a Kindle app he read stories to his kids, continuing a beloved activity the family did together while he was home. DeCrans was able to remain a big part of his kids’ lives from thousands of miles away, and it was all thanks to a doorbell.

Zoom Lifts 40 Minute Limit To Help You Celebrate Thanksgiving With Loved Ones

Zoom lifts 40 minute limit for Thanksgiving
(Twitter/zoom_us)

Most of us had never used Zoom until this year, even though the company has been around for nearly a decade. When schools closed and the majority of workers were forced to go remote, Zoom became as ubiquitous as the public transportation we used to take to the office every day. They handled the influx of business like absolute champs, with very few server issues and ever-present customer service.

Earlier this month, Zoom made an announcement that took a lot of pressure off those of us trying to frantically figure out Thanksgiving plans. Rather than trying to squeeze Thanksgiving into 40 minutes (or *gasp*, experimenting with a different video conferencing service), Zoom is giving us the gift of time. Previously, using a free Zoom account only allowed users to host meetings with multiple attendees for 40 minutes before the meeting would get cut off. But for one day only, the limit will be lifted.

The announcement read, “As a thank you to our customers, we will be lifting the 40-minute limit for all meetings globally from midnight ET on Nov. 26 through 6 a.m. ET on Nov. 27 so your family gatherings don’t get cut short. #ZoomTogether”

This isn’t going to be a normal Thanksgiving, just like the school year hasn’t been normal – and, well, nothing this year has been normal. But we’re making the best out of what we have, and doing everything we can to stay connected. Technology has made it so much easier to do so, and though the goal of any company by definition is to make a profit, it’s always heartwarming when they put customers, even the non-paying ones, (I guess we just call those “people”) first.

Happy ZoomsGiving!

And if you’d rather duck out of the online fam jam, you could always create an AI version of yourself.