Johnny Costa, puzzle boxes, and AI glasses
Five-ish things that I loved this week.
Meet Johnny Costa, the Pianist Who Introduced Millions of Mister Rogers Fans to Jazz (article/video)
A wonderful look into the artistry of Johnny Costa, the musician who brought jazz to the world of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Both Rogers and Costa believed that children were able to enjoy sophisticated music like jazz. I can agree with that statement. As I child, I was regularly taken to symphony orchestra performances, which I loved. Was that because of the influence of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood? Possibly. I was an avid viewer of the show from my earliest years, and watched until I was well aged out of the target audience.
The Mister Rogers' Neighborhood website also has a page about playing the music live, dedicated to Costa and all the musicians who played on the show.
While I don't consider myself a book reviewer, I did write a review of The Good Neighbor - The Life and Work of Fred Rogers many years ago. While I never truly looked at the musical aspect of the show, I look forward to listening to some of Johnny Costa's recordings.
Meet Kagen Sound, the Award-Winning Designer Behind the World’s Most Intricate Puzzle Boxes (article/video)
I can't imagine being able to solve one of these puzzle boxes, let alone the talent it takes to design them. These are works of art.
Is the stereotype of the lazy stoner just a stereotype? This 2020 study looked into the exercise-enhancing benefits of cannabis. It's possible that cannabis users are actually in better shape than non-cannabis users. As the researcher noted:
“These were large, national data sets, and I saw that cannabis users had better metabolic biomarkers, they were exercising more, they had lower body mass index, better waist-to-hip ratio, lower rates of diabetes, and better insulin function.”
It seems that cannabis acts in much the same way as the body's natural "runner's high" reward system, reducing pain and discomfort in the moment, making exercise more enjoyable.
Perhaps the maneuvering through legal loopholes is the most interesting part of this piece, as the findings of the study aren't entirely shocking. I did find this interesting:
"In fact, cannabis may have a somewhat detrimental impact on performance. The CU Boulder study revealed that runners' perception of their exertion is actually higher—as well as their heart rate—when running on the treadmill stoned when compared with their sober run."
Brilliant Labs unveiled their newest product yesterday, the Frame AI glasses. They're a pair of AR glasses that look like regular glasses, and they're only $350. I'm trying to convince myself that I don't need these, but I'm not doing a very good job.
I'm more interested in the AR (augmented reality) aspect of the glasses than the AI aspect. I definitely would've been interested in Google Glass if they weren't so expensive and dorky. The cherry on top is that the Frame glasses are fully open source and hackable. I would love to get my hands on these just to hack on them.
One of the main drawbacks is that AI services will be either capped daily or will require a subscription. You can read more in 9 to 5 Google's article.
This academic paper by Martin Kleppmann is a great look at the inner workings of Bluesky and the AT Protocol and the similarities and differences from other federated platforms. Personally, I'm a big fan of how the AT Protocol handles user identity and user data, by containing it all within one user repository instead of federating identity based on the user's server.
It's an interesting and dense topic, and I think I need another review of this paper and the AT Protocol website to really understand the underlying structure. I've given both the ActivityPub and AT Protocol specifications a surface read, but I have plans to go deeper into both in the future. I think both technologies are so cool!