Guitars, 3D Printing, and Other Surprising Stuff You Can Get for Free From the Library

You probably know that your local library offers not just books, but also DVDs, CDs, magazines, streaming movies, and ebooks. But it might also offer some more surprising physical items.

The best way to find out what’s on offer is to call them up—many library websites fail to list all their services up front. To give you some ideas, here are examples from libraries around the country.

  • Neckties: The “Tiebrary” at the Queens Library lends neckties, along with tying instructions and interview tips, to job seekers.
  • Art: Libraries in Iowa City and Ann Arbor lend wall art for weeks or months at a time.
  • Instruments: Ohio’s Licking County Library lends guitars, ukuleles, banjos, and mandolins. Ann Arbor offers all kinds of electronic instruments.
  • Musical scores: The NYPL for the Performing Arts lends out scores for opera, musical comedy, and classical and popular music, as well as instructional books.
  • Museum passes: Libraries in Chicago offer free museum passes for families with children. New York’s Monroe County offers discounts. The New York Library Association lets local systems buy museum pass programs to offer their patrons.
  • Seeds: The Toronto Seed Library “lends” out seeds: when a borrower’s plant matures, the library asks them to bring back a new generation of seeds.
  • 3D printing: The Toronto Public Library offers 3D printing for 10 cents a gram, and free classes in printing and design.
  • Puppets: The Puppet Museum at Brooklyn College moved out of the public library branch, but its 100 puppets are still available to anyone.
  • Telescopes: Through a partnership, at least 20 Maine libraries lend out telescopes and offer training.
  • Maps and ephemera: While most collections can’t be checked out, libraries frequently store maps, brochures, and other ephemera you can browse at a local branch.

See more (including some sadly now-closed collections) at Reddit, Book Riot, Mental Floss (list 1 and list 2), ProQuest, and the Penny Hoarder.

About the author

Nick Douglas

Staff Writer, Lifehacker | Nick has been writing online for 11 years at sites like Urlesque, Gawker, the Daily Dot, and Slacktory. He lives in Park Slope with his wife and their books.

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All 3 Billion Yahoo Accounts Affected in Catastrophic Breach

The Yahoo breach was already considered to be the largest known hack of user data when it was counted at 1 billion affected accounts. Now, that record-breaking breach has tripled in size.

All Yahoo accounts were affected by a catastrophic breach in 2013, the company confirmed today. Yahoo had previously placed the total at over one billion and has now updated it to a stunning three billion accounts.

The breach, which was attributed to nation-state hackers, occurred in 2013 but wasn’t discovered until 2016. Verizon closed its acquisition of Yahoo this year, after demanding a discount based on the security failure, and merged it with AOL to create a new company, Oath.

“Subsequent to Yahoo’s acquisition by Verizon, and during integration, the company recently obtained new intelligence and now believes, following an investigation with the assistance of outside forensic experts, that all Yahoo user accounts were affected by the August 2013 theft,” Yahoo said in a disclosure filed with the SEC. “The investigation indicates that the user account information that was stolen did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information.”

Yahoo suffered multiple intrusions into its network, losing email addresses, weakly-hashed passwords, and other personal information. Attackers accessed Yahoo’s internal code, enabling them to forge cookies to access certain targets’ email accounts and to place fraudulent links in Yahoo search results.

Yahoo required the previous 1 billion users thought to be affected to change their passwords and security questions. These changes will also be required of the the 2 billion people now known to be included in the breach.

In March, the Justice Department announced criminal charges against several men affiliated with Russian intelligence for the hack.

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NASA tries an inflatable room on the space station, likes it


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NASA has tried Bigelow’s expandable habitat on its International Space Station, and the agency likes it. Installed now for more than a year on the station, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module has passed key structural tests, and engineers now believe it will be capable of surviving in low Earth orbit for a longer period of time.

So this week, NASA announced that it intends to extend the lifetime of the station’s new, expandable room. Initially, the module was to be attached to the station for two years, but NASA says it wants to extend the lifetime for three years from now, with two additional one-year options. The Bigelow habitat, therefore, could remain on-station well into the early 2020s.

For now, at least, the module won’t exactly have a glamorous purpose on-station. NASA will use the additional space to store up to 130 “cargo transfer bags,” bags of various sizes first used for storage in space shuttle mid-deck lockers and later used to transfer cargo to the space station. One of the real problems on the orbiting laboratory is excess stuff, such as these bags, that clutter up workspaces. Now astronauts will be able to stow dozens of them in the expandable module.

Over the longer term, it will benefit Bigelow Aerospace to have the module on-station for several more years. Not only can the Nevada-based company collect more data about the attachment’s performance in microgravity, it can continue to demonstrate to NASA the viability of expandable habitats for longer-duration spaceflight.

Bigelow is part of a competition among a number of aerospace firms to develop a new in-space habitat for NASA, which the space agency may ultimately assemble in an orbit around the Moon as a base for deep-space exploration. Whereas a lot of the other concepts are theoretical, Bigelow has the advantage of a working prototype now serving NASA’s needs.

Listing image by NASA

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Uber Knew Its Self-Driving Guru Had Taken Google Trade Secrets

The blockbuster legal battle between Uber and Google’s self-driving spinoff company, Waymo, hinges on two questions. One: Did former Google engineer and self-driving car whiz Anthony Levandowski swipe documents containing valuable Google intellectual property and bring them to his own startup, which would be acquired by Uber just months later for a reported $680 million? And two: Did Uber executives, including now-ousted CEO Travis Kalanick, conspire with Levandowski to do it, then use that IP to advance their own technology?

Now, a hotly contested due diligence report, commissioned by Uber, makes clear the ridehailing company knew Levandowski had ill-gotten Google files before it bought his startup and put him in charge of its own self-driving efforts. Question one seems to have its answer. And question two just got a lot more interesting.

The firm Stroz Friedberg prepared the report, which Uber used to prepare for its 2016 acquisition of Otto, Levandowski’s self-driving truck company. Waymo’s attorneys filed the report as an exhibit in the case Monday night, making it public.

Since Waymo filed its suit in February, Uber’s battle stance has been: Whatever Levandowski did, we had no part in it. Any stolen files never made it onto our servers or into our cars. No one here used that information to inform how we’re developing our own technology.

The due diligence report indicates that Uber’s own investigators knew Levandowkski had possession of thousands of files related to the Google self-driving car project at least two months after he left the company. The report finds the engineer had access to Google self-driving project design files, source code, laser details, emails, presentations, software, and photos of Google tech and computer screens on his personal laptop, in a Dropbox account that he had used while at the company, and on a set of five disks. But Levandowski had deleted or destroyed many of files by the time he met with Uber’s investigators, even emptying his computer’s trash while inside the law firm’s offices.

Whether Levandowski conspired with Uber officials to take those documents is still an open question. The report reveals evidence of conversations with Uber executives about working together—a full six months before he left Google in January 2016. At one point, Levandowski asked then-Uber executive Brian McClendon what his company would be willing to pay for the entire Google self-driving staff. (Levandowski said he was trying to pin down a market value for the team.)

Levandowski told Uber’s investigators that he and Kalanick exchanged more than 200 text messages during this period.

Through Waymo, Google is suing Uber for stealing a raft self-driving car trade secrets and patents, including information on lidar, a sensor that will help autonomous vehicles “see” the world the around them. The search giant says that Levandowski stole thousands of documents when he left Google as part of a plan to bring those patents and trade secrets to Uber and use them to jump start Uber’s own self-driving car project. The suit demands Uber pay at least $1.9 billion in damages.

Uber had used every legal maneuver and appeal it could muster to keep the 34-page report out of Waymo’s hands. But on Monday, an Uber spokesperson said the embattled company was “pleased” the due diligence report had been made public. It “helps explain why—even after 60 hours of inspection of our facilities, source code, documents and computer—no Google material has been found at Uber,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

If you’re still feeling a bit mystified about how and why Levandowski left Google and finally made his way to Uber, know that you are not alone. Levandowski has refused to answer questions, asserting his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. Federal District Judge William Alsup has taken the rare step of referring the case to federal prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges against Levandowski, Kalanick, Uber, and others are warranted. Uber fired Levandowski in May, saying he wasn’t cooperating with its legal efforts.

Uber’s report makes clear Levandowski aggressively recruited for his startup while working at Google. He held one-on-one meetings with more than 20 Googlers at the company’s offices, at recruits’ homes, and in coffee shops. At the end of 2015 and in early 2016, he held four recruiting meetings at barbecues at his house and on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe. (A number of Google workers were invited to these soirees through their work email addresses.) Levandowski told Uber’s investigators that his startup made employment offers to at least 15 Googlers before and after his departure from the company. By mid-March 2016, Otto had 30 employees, 16 of whom were former Googlers.

More curious is the business with Levandowski’s five disks, which contained, the report says, proprietary information. The engineer told Uber investigators that he discovered the disks inside a closet sometime just after he suddenly resigned from Google. By Levandowski’s retelling, he immediately informed his attorney about the disks and alerted Uber’s top brass. An Uber executive told Levandowski to preserve the disks for record-keeping purposes, but by the time he met with Stroz investigators, Levandowski said he had taken them to an Oakland shredding facility to be destroyed. The subsequent investigation did not turn up any hard evidence that the shredding facility destroyed the five disks, but suggested that if it did, it only happened three days after Levandowski met with the investigators.

Waymo’s legal team is touting the report’s revelations as a victory. “Knowing all this, Uber paid $680 million for Mr. Levandowski’s company, protected him from legal action, and installed him as the head of their self-driving vehicle program,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement. “This report raises significant questions and justifies careful review.” The team has used the report to ask Judge Alsup for a delayed trial, which would give the company more time to review the document and others recently released by Uber.

But the company still hasn’t firmly linked Uber to the stolen files—that’s that pesky question two, of course. Waymo will need to prove that Levandowki’s information made it into Uber self-driving tech, or that the ridehailing giant was negligent enough to make that leakage possible.

“So far you don’t have any smoking gun,” Judge Alsup told the company’s lawyers in May. That was thousands and thousands of documents ago. Waymo’s team has promised there are bombshells to be revealed, but for now, the air in the courtroom looks pretty clear.

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Honda’s disaster recovery robot can climb ladders

The disaster response team of the future could be made up of an army of cheery orange robots, according to Honda. The company has unveiled a working prototype of its E2-DR disaster response robot — first revealed in an R&D paper in 2015 — and it can do a lot. At 1.68 meters high and weighing in at 85 kilograms, E2-DR can walk, step over objects, climb stairs and ladders, slink through narrow spaces and traverse piles of debris. It can even tolerate rain for 20 straight minutes, which is more than a lot of actual people can.

To keep E2-DR’s size and weight to a minimum, Honda swapped out traditional cables for rigorously-tested optical fibers. It’s powered by a 1000-Wh lithium-ion battery which provides 90 minutes of juice, plus an Intel Core-i7 CPU, and is kept cool by air ducts and internal fans within its torso. All of its joints are fashioned in a labyrinth structure, keeping contaminants at bay. Its hands are equipped with cameras and 3D sensors, but they’re only designed for basic gripping and to help it move around, as Honda envisions the robot interacting with the world via special tools and wireless communication.

In short, it’s not a million miles away from the humanoid robots long promised by science fiction (apart from the intelligence aspect, of course. At this very early juncture E2-DR will be entirely teleoperated, but who knows what will happen in the future — its predecessor Asimo already boasts a lot of autonomy). Honda has stressed that E2-DR is just a prototype at the moment and that it has a lot of work to do before it can be useful. For example, fall testing is notably missing from the research — while Honda notes the robot can stand up after being knocked down, it’s not clear just how structurally durable it is. However, the overall scale of the project is a closely guarded company secret, which means there are probably very big things in the works.

Via: IEEE Spectrum

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Parrot’s Mambo FPV puts you in the mini-cockpit

With its cannon and claw accessories, last year’s Mambo drone from Parrot was more a toy than a photography tool. The latest version of the mini drone looks to be at least more fun, if not more useful, than its predecessor. The Mambo FPV comes with a camera attachment and a headset, so you can stream what the tiny flyer is seeing right into your eyes.

Last year’s Mambo came with a cannon that shoots six pellets up to six feet and a "Grabber" claw that picks up very small objects weighing up to four ounces. The new version isn’t physically different — it just comes with different accessories (the older ones are also compatible). Parrot increased the wireless range between the Bluetooth controller and the drone so you can now fly it up to 100 meters (330 feet) away, up from 60 meters before.

I didn’t get to fly the Mambo FPV myself, but I did check out the video it was streaming to an iPhone. Better yet, I stuck the phone in Parrot’s included goggles that the company (unfortunately) named Cockpitglasses 2. The camera records video to an onboard microSD card in 720p, but broadcasts to the phone in VGA (640 x 480).

The live footage I saw was somewhat pixelated, partly because of the VGA resolution, but also likely due to the WiFi connection between the camera and the phone. The HD clips that we got off the Mambo’s onboard microSD card were slightly better in resolution, and had trouble exposing for the harsh sunlight streaming in through our office windows, but its quality is fine overall. (Check out our video above for some samples.) Thanks to Parrot’s digital stabilizing technology (similar to the Bebop, although we can’t say if it’s the exact same), the video I watched was steady enough to keep me from feeling nauseated.

It’s not good enough to make high-quality movies with, but the Mambo FPV provides decent footage for those who want to get a bird’s eye view of special events like weddings or family gatherings. That makes it slightly more useful than its predecessors, which were primarily designed for fun. The first-person perspective stream and Cockpitglasses also make flying the drone easier, since you’re always facing forward and know which direction to turn.

The Mambo FPV comes with three new flight modes: Easy (labelled Normal in the app), which stabilizes both horizontal and vertical movement; Drift, which only stabilizes vertical flight for tighter turns and Race, which does not stabilize in either direction. Unfortunately, as I didn’t get to fly the drone, I couldn’t tell how easy it was to pilot the Mambo with any of these settings. Those who already own a Mambo drone can, in theory, try these modes for themselves once they roll out via a software update. Unfortunately, since you can’t buy the camera module separately just yet, you’ll either have to shell out for a whole new drone or wait till Parrot sells that accessory on its own.

At 2.2 ounces, the Mambo FPV fits comfortably in my hand, and takes off from there, too. A company rep started the Mambo from his phone, and I gently threw it in the air. The harder I threw the device, the further it fell back towards the ground before regaining composure and rising back up. I couldn’t quite tell if this was because of the Parrot rep’s expertise in flying or if there was technology built in to make that launch smooth, but it was definitely impressive. The Mambo also took off easily from two meeting tables during our demo.

After about 10 minutes of flying and stopping, the drone’s LEDs started flashing red to indicate its battery was running low. Parrot says the Mambo FPV can last up to 10 minutes of continuous flight (eight minutes if the camera is streaming), which is a three minute increase over last year’s model, and pretty good for a drone of this size.

The new model means Mambo is available in three different configurations — the FPV kit includes the drone, goggles, controller, camera module and propeller guards for $180. The other two bundles are last year’s Mission ($160) and the Fly ($110), with the latter containing just the drone and guards.

Parrot hasn’t mentioned if it will eventually sell the camera module on its own so existing owners of a Mambo can simply buy that to upgrade, but for now you’ll have to get the FPV bundle to get the camera. If you want a cheaper alternative and don’t mind making do without image stabilization built in, the Nano QX2 FPV drone ($100) offers similar video quality and also streams live to a headset. You’ll need to buy pricier FPV goggles for that feature, though.

We also got a brief look at the new Bebop 2 Power, which is the third generation of the company’s flagship drone. The new iteration comes with two battery packs in the box instead of one, so you have a bit more flying time out of the box. Each battery now lasts 30 minutes — five minutes longer than before, putting Bebop up there with the DJI Mavic Pro in terms of longevity.

The Bebop 2 Power has a full HD camera with a fisheye lens that sees 180 degrees horizontally and vertically; you select the 90-degree portion you want via the flight app. This way, Parrot doesn’t need a gimbal or mechanical parts to move the camera’s view — and it keeps the drone lightweight and relatively compact. Though a full gimbal typically provides better stability and image quality.

The Bebop 2 Power ($599) is also powerful enough to reach up to 65 kilometers per hour (40 mph) in flight. The companion app has also been updated with new modes to make aerial filmmaking easier. The Magic Dronies mode will recognize things like humans or vehicles and make the Bebop 2 Power circle your subject while you’re recording. There’s also a new Autoshot mode for landscape videography that makes the drone to move in a preset pattern (like a slow reveal from a low angle to a wide shot) with a single tap on your phone.

As much as I was itching to try these new features, we couldn’t fly the Bebop 2 Power indoors during our meeting or outside without knowing where exactly we were permitted to fly drones in New York. Until we can test the Bebop 2 Power for ourselves, it’s hard to tell how effective Parrot’s software will be. But based on some preview footage the company’s rep showed us, the Bebop 2 Power’s camera should make for some stunning panoramas or high-quality selfie videos for those not looking to spend the extra cash for the likes of DJI’s Phantom or Mavic.

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Tesla has only produced 260 Model 3s so far

Tesla delivered its first batch of Model 3s to their owners at the end of July and production was supposed to steadily ramp up during the following months. Elon Musk predicted that around 100 cars would be produced in August, 1,500 in September and 20,000 in December, with 10,000 cars per week being the production target in 2018. But so far that plan has failed. In a recap on third quarter vehicle production and deliveries, Tesla said that only 260 Model 3s were produced and just 220 were delivered.

The company says that production bottlenecks are to blame and while most manufacturing systems at its California plant and Nevada Gigafactory are working at rapid rates, some systems have taken longer to get going than it initially expected. "It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain," said Tesla in a statement. "We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term."

Third quarter Model S and X delivery rates were the best of any quarter yet and year-end delivery projections for those models are set to exceed expectations by several thousand. However, Tesla didn’t say when its Model 3 production would get back on track or how it planned on fixing the production bottleneck issues, but there are a lot of Model 3 owners hoping the company figures it out soon.

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