Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Our annual roundup of techie presents for every budget

4 min read
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Photo: Aimee Lambes

Have you always wanted an old-school arcade game but were put off by the expense and size? The Tiny Arcade from TinyCircuits solves these problems by stuffing a processor, display, loudspeaker, battery, and controls into a cabinet small enough to sit in the palm of your hand, and at a cost of just US $60. The Tiny Arcade comes with three games built in, and a microSD slot allows you to download and play even more. It’s also Arduino compatible, so you can write and upload your own games to the Tiny Arcade via a USB connection.

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    From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

    The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

    11 min read
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    Photo: Rami Shlush
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    Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

    Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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