Let’s build an MP3 decoder (2008)

Even though MP3 is probably the single most well known file format and codec on Earth, it’s not very well understood by most programmers – for many encoders/decoders is in the class of software “other people” write, like standard libraries or operating system kernels. This article will attempt to demystify the decoder, with short top-down primers on signal processing and information theory when necessary. Additionally, a small but not full-featured

How We Reverse Engineered the Cuban “Sonic Weapon” Attack

Throughout last year, mysterious ailments struck dozens of U.S. and Canadian diplomats and their families living in Cuba. Symptoms included dizziness, sleeplessness, headache, and hearing loss; many of the afflicted were in their homes or in hotel rooms when they heard intense, high-⁠pitched sounds shortly before falling ill. In February, neurologists who examined the diplomats concluded that the symptoms were consistent with concussion, but without any blunt trauma to the head. Suggested culprits included toxins, viruses,

The Power of a Nintendo Handheld

The Nintendo Switch was the hottest selling “console” in December of last year and there shouldn’t be any questions as to why. While it quickly outpaced it’s predecessor, the Wii U, the similarities of the two diverge just as quickly. Where the Wii U had to remain nearly within sight of its base station, the Switch can be carried outside the home. Its dock only acts as a hub for

Inside Amazon’s quest to make a different kind of Echo

Of all the devices Amazon announced last fall, the one that got the most attention was the Echo Spot. A smaller, spherical version of the Echo Show, the Spot exuded an adorable style that was distinct from the rest of the Echo lineup. And judging by the reviews it received, it’s clear that the Spot’s form factor helped make it something of a surprise hit. In an exclusive behind-the-scenes look, Engadget had a

ACLU: Debt Collection Companies Have Hijacked the Justice System

Denise Zencka, a mother of three in Indiana, had to file for bankruptcy because she couldn’t afford to repay her bills for treatment for thyroid cancer. And because she was unable to work, she had to stay with her parents in Florida while she recovered. She didn’t know that during that time, at the request of a debt collector seeking to collect outstanding medical bills, a small claims court judge

A Brief Introduction to Machine Learning for Engineers

This monograph aims at providing an introduction to key concepts, algorithms, and theoretical frameworks in machine learning, including supervised and unsupervised learning, statistical learning theory, probabilistic graphical models and approximate inference. The intended readership consists of electrical engineers with a background in probability and linear algebra. The treatment builds on first principles, and organizes the main ideas according to clearly defined categories, such as discriminative and generative models, frequentist and

‘Memtransistor’ Brings World Closer To Brain-Like Computing

 Lead researcher Mark C. Hersam clarified the brain-like efficacy of the memtransistor: “…in the brain, we don’t usually have one neuron connected to only one other neuron. Instead, one neuron is connected to multiple other neurons to form a network. Our device structure allows multiple contacts, which is similar to the multiple synapses in neurons… [but] making dozens of devices, as we have done in our paper, is different than

FCC hopes opening up communication airwaves will boost innovation

Today, the FCC voted to move forward with a proposal to open up communications spectrum beyond 95 GHz. In a statement, it said that spectrum above this range has been thought to be at the edge of what’s usable, but now it wants to provide different levels of authorization to use the spectrum to, as Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement, “promote innovation and help put this spectrum to

The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick

If you haven’t heard of Philip K. Dick’s exegesis, it was a self-reported religious experience that inspired Philip K. Dick to write his “VALIS” series, as well as his remaining novels. Which is, arguably, of a much more spiritual quality than his previous works, and albeit a bit more out there I think they’re some of his most profound writing. In summation, when Dick was at home sick, he was

Instead of Slowing Down Innovation To Protect Few People, Policymakers Should Focus On Helping Displaced Workers Transition Into New Jobs, ITIF Suggests

There has been growing speculation that a coming wave of innovation — indeed, a tsunami — powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, will disrupt labor markets, generate mass unemployment, and shift the few jobs that remain into the insecure “gig economy.” Kneejerk “solutions” from such technology Cassandras include ideas like taxing “robots” and implementing universal basic income for everyone, employed or not. The first would slow needed productivity growth,