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Monday, March 27, 2006

Alcohol, Red Bull, and perception of buzz

I got a kick out of the opening paragraph's abundance of italics in this press release about a new study on the combination of Red Bull and alcohol that appeared in the scientific journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. For some reason, it sounds funny if you read it aloud and make sure to stress the italicized words:
Study results show that drinking alcohol and Red Bull together significantly reduces the perception of headache, weakness, dry mouth and impairment of motor coordination. Red Bull does not, however, significantly reduce alcohol-related deficits on objective measures of motor coordination and visual reaction time. People who combine alcohol with energy drinks may be at even greater risk for problems such as automobile accidents because they believe they are unimpaired.

posted by David Pescovitz at 12:20:31 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Nontransitive short con #2: penny ante

Greg says:
I thought that if you liked the nontransitive dice, you might also like a nontransitive coin-tossing problem called "Penny-ante". Basically, your opponent chooses a series of three coin tosses (HTH, for example), and you choose another series (HHT). Then you flip a coin until one of these patterns shows up. So if we flipped HTTHHHT, you would win, because the pattern "HHT" appears at the end of the sequence. Seems fair, right? Well, it turns out that, no matter what your opponent chooses, you can always choose a sequence that's more likely to occur. In fact, your odds of winning *at worst* are 2-to-1. You choose the winner by choosing the opposite of the second position of your opponent's sequence, then tacking it in front of the sequence and ignoring the third position. So if your opponent chooses "THT", you choose "TTH".

Here's a good article about the game (PDF), And it's Puzzle 13 on this page.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:17:46 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Court to Mob-victimized family: you're too late to sue.

Wired News senior editor and hacker god Kevin Poulsen says,
According to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, a Boston family victimized by FBI-protected mobsters have no recourse to sue the government, because they waited until their lives were no longer in danger before filing the lawsuit.

The case involves a long-term collaboration between the FBI and the Winter Hill Gang, violent mobsters who helped the Bureau take down the competing Italian mafia in exchange for carte blanche to run South Boston's rackets without fear of prosecution. Gang leaders included Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi, who started working with the feds in 1965.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:17:31 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Betelnut Beauty "action" figures

Picture 2-3 Emkid learned that Blockbusters in Taiwan sell Betelnut Beauty figurines. According to Wikipedia, Betelnut beauties are "scantily-clad young women selling betel nut on roadside kiosks in Taiwan. A uniquely Taiwanese phenomenon, they are named after the legendary beauty Xi Shi from the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China."

P. Kerim Friedman has more to add on the topic at his blog, Keywords.
Link (Previous coverage of betelnut girls on Boing Boing here, here, and here)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:06:24 PM permalink | blogs' comments

BB's "Roboticization of Earth-children": das ist geFarken

The legions of photoshoppers at have had their way with a photo sent to BoingBoing by reader Dean Adams, blogged here last week in a series about the roboticization of Earth-children. Link to Fark thread "Photoshop the agony and the ecstasy of these cardboard robots," and here's why the remix at left (by butthold) is funny.
(Thanks, Burris T. Ewell)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:53:24 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Panda painted on a human hair

Panda-1 Chinese artist Jin Yin Hua used a rabbit hair to paint a panda on the side of a a single human hair. According to the BBC News, it took Hua ten days to create the painting that is on display under a microscope. Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:35:58 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Armless man busted for speeding

A Waikato, New Zealand man with no arms was caught driving 121 km/h last week. He used one foot to steer and another to press the pedals. The man, who has never had a driver's license, was fined $170, prohibited from getting behind the wheel, and may also be charged with "dangerous driving." From The New Zealand Herald:
Senior Constable Brent Gray approached the driver's window, spotted a foot up on the dashboard and noticed the seat was reclined.

Mr Gray told colleagues he thought the man had an "attitude". But then he noticed his armless torso...

(Senior Sergeant Deidre Lack) had nothing against people with disabilities who drove motor vehicles, but had absolutely no sympathy for this speeding driver.

"Obviously driving at a speed like that, arms or not, you're just waiting for an accident. You're asking for an accident at 120km/h, whether you've got arms or not. Look at the risk he was posing."
Link (via Peculiarosities)

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:28:59 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Mumbai blogger interviews workers occupying store for a month

On Metroblogging Mumbai, contributor Saakshi Juneja posts a fascinating first-person account (with photos) about a worker's strike in that city:

On Friday the 10th of February, the store all of a sudden decided to fasten its doors to the world. For over a month, 40-permanent workers have been squatting outside the estranged shop. Unable to get over the untimely death of their second home; where they have spent over 30 years of their lives. Struggling day in and day out, to obtain some kind of justice.

(...) Driving over in my A/C car I casually thought over a few questions to ask, but at that point didn't realize the gravity of the situation. I wasn't even sure, if I wanted to write a post on this.

As soon as I parked my car, workers assuming I have come to shop, yelled "dukhan bandh ho gaya hai, do mahena ho gaya." I got down and into the premises, as usual had to explain my self and my purpose. To which, for obvious reasons I had umpteen volunteers, ready to open their hearts out....and so here it goes.

Link (thanks, Sean Bonner!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:26:41 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Gilmore responds to "TSA ID-checking security lax" story

EFF cofounder John Gilmore responds to the "flying-without-ID" story we pointed to on BoingBoing last week:
The story's slant is a bit off.

We aren't complaining that "TSA security [is] lax", as in your headline. Nor are we saying that "TSA agents frequently fail to enforce the agency's rule that travelers must present government-issued ID". It's the opposite, actually.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:17:13 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Japanese science magazine for young couples

 National News Images 20060325P2A00M0Na023000P Size6 Science Walker is a new free magazine that Japan's Education Ministry is launching to spur interest in the sciences among young people. According to an English translation of a Japanese article in the MSN-Mainichi Daily News, the magazine is "packed with scientific topics that young people can chat about with their sweethearts while on dates." Science Walker will apparently also contain articles about "soccer, music, food, and scenic drives."
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:14:46 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Australia: Mark Pesce's op-ed on why Internet filtering sucks

Mark Pesce wrote a brilliant op-ed about censorware for Sunday's Age in Australia. Here's a snip:
Last Thursday, Communications Minister Helen Coonan reversed her opposition to a proposal to filter the internet of obscene and violent content. Liberal backbenchers, led by Tasmanian senator Guy Barnett, who find existing internet filters unsatisfactory, argue that a mandatory national filter is the only way to protect children. It's a noble idea, but there's a problem - it won't work.
Link, and see also this related article from Mark on the same subject: "Understanding Gilmore's Law."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:09:35 AM permalink | blogs' comments

This is a total hoot. And it launched just in time to help me promote my glamtabulous new autobiographical podcast, X for Xendetta, in which incestuous friends with cathode-ray tans read short fiction about fluorescent bluetooth open source dildos in Lithuania. Henceforth, everything I blog will end in the phrase, "OMG, SOMEONE SAID SEX!1!!" Link, screengrab. (Thanks, Matthew Neal Sharp / Mathgeeks!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:27:09 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Nick Philip and Imaginary Foundation in RES Magazine

The new issue of RES features a profile of Nick Philip, the designer behind the delightful Imaginary Foundation line of surrealist t-shirts. (Previous BB posts about the Imaginary Foundation here, here, and here.) Rumor has it that the mysterious Director of the Imaginary Foundation has tasked Philip with designing a special limited edition Boing Boing / Imaginary Foundation double label t-shirt. More news as it unfolds. From the RES article (photo by Jessica Miller):
Nick-2 Those ideas Philip references in his designs come from the real-life Imaginary Foundation, a clandestine, eccentric assembly of academicians and philosophers begun in 1973 and led by a septuagenarian with doctorates in physics and philosophy who holds 25 worldwide patents and whose father conceived the Dada movement. While Dadaists embraced nihilism, Surrealists, though inspired in part by Dadaism, valued the ordinary and embraced Freud's theories about the strength of the unconscious. It's the latter that drives Imaginary Foundation's function. "They believe everything around us in culture and what we see [is] essentially one idea... so the power of the idea and imagination is the power behind all of culture," explains Philip. "There's an incredible potential for creating beauty and harmony with our own minds."
Link to RES article, Link to Imaginary Foundation

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:53:39 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Tiffany Shlain's film The Tribe premiers in L.A.

 Images Press Web Tribe Image-1 The Tribe, a short film by Tiffany Shlain of the Webby Awards, has its Los Angeles premier this Thursday, March 30, at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood at 8pm. The film is "an unorthodox, unauthorized history of the Barbie Doll and the Jewish people." I've seen the film--it's a lot of fun and also raises some deep questions about identity and culture. The screening will be followed by discussion with cast and crew, a live performance, and a party. Tickets are $9 but Tiffany has kindly offered complimentary seats to the first twenty BB readers who email her at with Boing Boing in the subject line.

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:36:03 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Gilles Tréhin, a savant and his imaginary city

 Lartiste2 Gilles Tréhin, an autistic gentleman who lives in Cagnes sure Mer, France, has designed an incredibly detailed city that exists only inside his head. He first conceived of the city, called Urville, in 1984, and began to construct a scale model out of LEGOs. In 1986, he says, he "realised that I could expand the city in my mind without necessarily building it in Lego bricks." Tréhin's Web site is filled with drawings of the city, historical and cultural information, data about Urville's economy, and some sociological insights on its population. From an article at the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation site:
 Savant Images Gilles Buildings My name is Gilles Tréhin, I was born in 1972, I live in Cagnes sur Mer, near Nice, in south-east of France.

I have been drawing since the age of 5. I have always been fascinated by big cities and aeroplanes.

Since 1984, I started to be interested by the conception of an imaginary city. I called it Urville, the name comes from "Dumont d'Urville", which is a scientific base, in a French territory of the Antarctic.

Since then, I am doing some drawings on this city and I am actually writing a book with an historical, geographic, cultural and economic description of Urville.

In the book I have writen, "Urville's Guided tour", it wasn't possible for the moment to put all the major quarters of Urville because the whole of Urville is still not completely drawn.

All the drawings, more than 250, come from the 5 main very large general views of the different sectors of the city. There is an example of a large view at the beginning of this text. Each of the smaller views show details of the streets, squares and various monuments of Urville. For each of them I have written a text giving more information about the history of the place.

I hope that the book will be published very soon.
Link to, Link to a "Savant Profile" of Tréhin from the Wisconsin Medical Society (via The Kircher Society)

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:23:05 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Stanislaw Lem reportedly dead at 84

Wikipedia reports that Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction author of such amazing novels as Solaris, died today at age 84. More details in this obit from DNA India. Link (Thanks, RonK!)

Update: Benjamin sez, "The front page of Rzeczpospolita, Poland's paper of record, is reporting Lem's death on the front page. The article doesn't specify cause of death, only that he'd been in hospital for several weeks.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:35:50 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Timeline of everything from several movies

The Movie Timeline is a timeline of all the events that occurred in many, many films, from 4,000,000 BC to 865,427,810 AD:
1703 Gulliver discovers Brobdingnag (Gulliver's Travels)
1704 October 10: Bouvet Island, Antarctica - Predators arrive for their feasting ritual on xenomorphs and humans (Alien vs Predator)
1711 Gulliver marooned with the Houyhnhnms (Gulliver's Travels)
1712 Kildare, Ireland - Connor MacLeod and Duncan rescue a stagecoach from bandits, and Duncan meets Kate (Highlander: Endgame)
1715 Rob Roy escapes the defeat of the clans (Rob Roy The Highland Rogue)
A Predator gains a pistol while hunting in the Raonoke colony (Predator 2)
Ireland - Duncan kills Kate MacLeod (Highlander: Endgame)
1720 Pirate Jack Sparrow frees a governor's daughter in the hope of regaining the Black Pearl (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)
Link (via Joshua)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 07:42:36 AM permalink | blogs' comments

NPR Day to Day "Xeni Tech": Clickfraud woes grow

For today's edition of the NPR program Day to Day, I filed a report on the growing dilemma surrounding click fraud -- shorthand for the many forms of invalid traffic that can run up online advertisers' bills. Just how big the problem may be is disputed, but some say click fraud may account for as much as 20 percent of all ad traffic and a billion dollars a year in bogus sales.

Click fraud is currently the subject of some high-profile lawsuits involving search engines. In an Arkansas class action suit involving multiple search biz defendants, Google recently offered to settle to the tune of 90 million dollars. Yahoo and others haven't said whether or how much they'll pay in that case. Another suit filed against Google in a federal court in California is up for class action consideration mid-May.

For today's story, I spoke with Google's Trust and Safety product manager Shuman Ghosemajunder; Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch; Tom McGovern of; and Jessie Stricchiola, who's serving as an expert consultant in the Arkansas class action suit.

Link to archived audio for "Web Ad Buyers Fight Back Against Click Fraud." Here are the NPR "Xeni Tech" archives.

Charles Mann did a comprehensive piece on click fraud for a recent issue of Wired Magazine here: How Click Fraud Could Swallow the Internet. And BusinessWeek's Burt Helm did a story last month that's well worth a read, too: Click Fraud Gets Smarter.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:35:18 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Swisscom WiFi at London conference centre costs $838.73/24h

I've written before about how crummy Swisscom's Eurospot WiFi service is; this service is ubiquitous across European hotels, and it costs a fortune, throttles your connection, caps out after a certain number of bits transferred, and blocks ports. Every hotel seems to have a different Swisscom tariff, and it seems that Ben Hammersley may have found the highest Swisscom fee yet: £480 per 24 hours for non-guests using the conference spaces in London's Victoria Park Plaza hotel. That's $838.73 a day. For WiFi. Not even good WiFi. (Now, of course you won't stay in the conference space for 24h -- I'd probably cap out at 16-18h a day, meaning I'd only pay $559.17 to $594.04 a day. A bargain at twice the price)
I’m sat in the Guardian Changing Media Summit, at the Victoria Park Plaza hotel in London, and the wifi is priced as above. Staying in the hotel, it’s £15 for 24 hours. But if you’re down here in the conference room, it’s £10 for 30 minutes. That’s £480 for 24 hours. I believe that’s the hotel equivalent of “Hi! Fuck you!”

Update: Looks like Ben's blog is temporarily down; I'm sure it'll come online again soon, though.

Update 2: It's back up!

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:55:26 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Best hotel WiFi in the world

HotelChatter has posted its latest annual roundup of the best hotel WiFi in the world -- they're going to follow up tomorrow with the world's worst, too.
Kimpton Hotels: Kimpton once again tops the list as the undisputed hotel WiFi kings. The brand improved their now legendary free WiFi service in the last couple of years, by extending their fast, reliable WiFi network to your upstairs room, at many hotels. Yup, at most Kimpton hotels you *can* actually sack out with your computer on the bed wireless and happy. This scenario is oft-advertised by other hotel chains, but hardly ever a reality. Kimpton doesn't count on their lobby WiFi network to reach the top floors of their buildings, instead, at the hotels we visited, Kimpton actually had two separate WiFi networks--one for the lobby and the other for the guest rooms. Both networks are easily accessible by clicking on a standard terms and conditions. Furthermore, during our Kimpton visits, friendly staffers went out of their way to ask us if we were getting a good reliable WiFi signal in both the lobby and our room, and guess what? We were. Kimpton Hotels tend to appeal to business travelers, hip leisure travelers, and globe-trotting bloggers.
Link (Thanks, Mark!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:46:25 AM permalink | blogs' comments

DRM is Killing Music parody of "Home Taping is Killing Music"

Julian Bond has knocked together this hilarious take-off on the music indiustry's old Tape-and-Bones campaign "Home Taping is Killing Music and It's Illegal" -- Julian's version depicts an iPod and bones and says, "DRM is Killing Music and It's a Rip-Off." Link (Thanks, Julian!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:26:58 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Aussie timezone switch borks Exchange Server

Some Australian states have delayed their Daylight Savings time-switch by a week in order to accommodate the Commonwealth Games; however, this is causing chaos in corporate environments where the servers have no idea how to reconcile their time-zones and get everyone into the same meeting at the same time, correctly sort database entries by time, etc. It's only going to get worse next year, when some Canadian provinces change their Daylight Savings switch-dates to save electricity -- time-zones are already ad-hoc, and nearly random (see the update to this post for more); once they start getting arbitrarily changed from year to year, it becomes practically impossible to keep track of them
The hitch is that the Microsoft Exchange server that we all use in Australia for my company is located in Kuala Lumpur, who I'm guessing didn't know about this deviation from standard DST. As a result, our Outlook calendars are showing that Adelaide are out of DST when they aren't.

The upshot of this is that some of the meetings in my calendar are actually an hour earlier than they appear to be. But only the ones that were booked by folks in Adelaide, and only for this week. As a result some people are putting the time of the meeting in the subject line (note the Tuesday 11am meeting below marked as "10am Perth time").

Link (Thanks, Stewart!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:03:45 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Teledildonics vibe can be controlled via "finger"

The new GNU/Linux and MacOS drivers for the network addressable "teledildonics" sex toy, the TranceVibrator, can be controlled via the finger daemon, "bringing generations of CS undergrad innuendo full circle."
This program is a rudimentary teledildonics application built around the finger daemon - hence bringing generations of CS undergrad innuendo full circle.

It has two modes in addition to what you're seeing now - if you finger [any string]@[this host], a series of random pulses will be generated, proportional to the length of the string.

Alternatively, fingering 0x[hex digits]@[this host] will instead send a direct stream of motor speeds to the vibrator, one per second.

Link (via JWZ)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:45:06 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Most expensive Google ad keywords listed

This list of the highest-paying Google advertising keywords is exciting for its very dullness: if there's one thing that's become clear it's that in 2006, the most aggressive users of keyword advertising are asbestos lawyers, ambulance chasers, and mortgage brokers.
$54.33 mesothelioma lawyers
$47.79 what is mesothelioma
$47.72 peritoneal mesothelioma
$47.25 consolidate loans
$47.16 refinancing mortgage
$45.55 tax attorney
$41.22 mesothelioma
$38.86 car accident lawyer
$38.68 ameriquest mortgage
Link (via Battelle)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:40:37 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Korean "macro" programs and keyboard emulators for gamers

The Korea Times covers the "Macro" software scene among Korean Gamers; this is software that automates tedious, repetitious in-game "grinding" tasks, such as repetitively hunting down and killing weak monsters. I'm especially fond of the hardware-based keyboard emulators that look like thumb-drives and can be trained to undetectably automate input to in-game tasks (getting output from the game is harder and would require hardware network- or monitor-sniffing). I wonder if game-developers will respond by producing CAPTCHA-style questions at critical junctures during grinding? Also -- this strikes me as a pretty good way of implementing a nigh-undetectable pokerbot (or at least one whose detection would be a consequence of its signature gameplay, not detection via a process-monitor).
In comparison, the hardware type is more complicated, more expensive and more stable. They often look like portable USB storage with a flash memory chip and electronic circuits inside. It can grab video signals transmitted between the PC and the monitor, and analyze the signals to make a judgment.

For example, when a player gets beaten by a monster and loses his health, the game shows that he is in a critical condition by showing a bar gauge on the monitor. When the reading goes down by a certain point, the auto-mouse notices it, and moves the character out of the danger zone. Then it makes the character regain his strength by drinking a magic potion or using a magic spell, before sending it to another battle.

It is practically impossible for outsiders to tell whether a human or a computer program is playing a game character. Also, it is not against Korean law to use a macro of an auto-mouse, as they do no damage to the game’s main server.

Link (via Smart Mobs)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:37:48 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Video: Bill Gates being grilled by US anti-trust lawyers

This YouTube clip purports to be footage of Bill Gates being grilled by US government anti-trust lawyers in 1998 -- though you don't really get a clear look at his face, but that autistic rocking is pretty characteristic. The video closes with a come-on to get a multi-DVD set of the entire deposition. Link (Thanks, Dave!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:31:34 AM permalink | blogs' comments

LA Times slams Marvel for trying to steal "superhero"

An editorial in today's LA Times chastizes Marvel for its recruitment of a science museum to help it steal the word "superhero" from the public domain:
In trademark law, the more unusual a term, the more it qualifies for protection. We would have no quarrel with Marvel and DC had they called their superheroes "actosapiens," then trademarked that. But purely generic terms aren't entitled to protection, at least in theory. The reason is simple: Trademarks restrict speech, and to put widely used terms under private control is an assault on our language.

Once a trademark is granted, it remains in effect until someone proves to the feds that the term has lost its association with a specific brand, as happened with "cellophane" and "linoleum." That's why Johnson & Johnson sells "Band-Aid brand adhesive bandages," not simply Band-Aids(TM).

Link (Thanks, Will!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:23:59 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Lost 1975 Monty Python interview

This 1975 interview with Monty Python at a Dallas PBS affiliate hasn't been aired in over 30 years:

This interview footage first aired live on KERA that year, and hasn't been seen by the public since. It was discovered on an old reel that had been saved by an engineer, and as you can see, it cuts off after about 14 minutes... the engineer taped over the rest. It's a look at the group being candidly questioned by fans at the peak of their fame and creative powers.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:32:15 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Anachronistic fine art photoshopping contest

Today on the Worth 1000 photoshopping contest -- anachronistic elements in fine art, like this impressionistic travoltoid. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:27:01 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Video reveals Belarus electoral fraud

A video made by an elections observer in Belarus shows evidence of electoral fraud. Belarus has been torn apart by riots in the wake of the phony re-election of its strong-man dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, a neo-Stalinist kleptocrat. Damn I'm glad my grandfather left Belarus.
...[O]ne person at one point asks why there are ballots of candidate A stacked on top of the ballots of candidate B? Another person then yells at the others to get away from the tables. And that they should stop asking questions!
Link (Thanks, Anonymous!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:35:00 AM permalink | blogs' comments

European clocks advance one hour today

Hey Europeans! Remember that today's the day to roll your clocks forward for British/European/Irish Summer Time. Hey everyone else: Europe is now one hour in the future until Daylight Savings kicks in -- that means that London is 6 hours ahead of New York and 9 hours ahead of San Francisco. Paris is 7 hours ahead of New York and 10 hours ahead of San Francisco. Link

Update: Stewart sez, "Be aware that the eastern seaboard of Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, etc) NORMALLY end DST today, but this year it's delayed one week because of the Commonwealth games. Some folks may get caught out by that."

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:15:30 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Kleptones new mashup double-CD free to download: "24 Hours"

Mashup kings The Kleptones have released a double-disc album called "24 Hours" that you can download as individual tracks, whole-disc torrents, or as large MP3 files engineered for CD burning. There's some amazing stuff here -- I love the Doors' Peace Frog mashup, 1730 Know How Frogs Function, and the Bowie's It Ain't Easy/Clash/Rock the Casbah blend, 1100 Casbah Ain't Easy. There's even a video for one of the tracks. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:12:25 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Steve Jobs, 2002: "You need the right to manage music on all devices"

Last week, Apple slammed the French government for proposing a law that would require Apple to license the iTunes crippleware format to its competitors, so French people could listen to the music they buy from Apple on devices made by other companies.

Today, Apple rejects interoperability, but check out this Steve Jobs quote from 2002:

In 2002, Steve Jobs said, "If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own."

In 2006, France said, "The consumer must be able to listen to the music they have bought on no matter what platform."

Sounds like Steve agrees with France.

Link (Thanks, Rob!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:06:04 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Monks in Wisconsin refill printer cartridges

The Laser Monks are a 75-year-old Abbey of the Cistercian Order in Wisconsin who refill printer cartridges to cover their expenses, instead of making cheese or beer.
And then the Angels appeared. Out of the blue, I received an e-mail from two ladies in Colorado who had a website selling ink cartridges. For various reasons they had decided to move on to other projects. We had received their offer along with many other online printer supply companies, to sell us their online business. I wrote them back and explained who we were and what we were trying to do. To make a long story short, not only were they delighted to discover us, they offered to come up here to Wisconsin to help us for a few weeks to get our business organized and running well - at no charge.That was in July of 2003. The "angels" and the monks got along so well, and our various gifts and abilities complemented one another so well, that we decided to make the arrangement permanent. Our MonkHelper Angels reside in one of the Abbey houses on the corner of the Abbey property. They handle our order processing, customer service, and manufacturer relations under the company name of MonkHelper Marketing. This leaves the monks free to focus on developing the business, media relations, advertising, speaking, and most importantly, finding creative ways to use LaserMonks income to help others.
Link (Thanks, Ronks!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:59:06 AM permalink | blogs' comments

LOVE / HATE knuckle tat gloves

Elbow-length gloves in tattooed lambskin that spell out LOVE and HATE on the wearer's knuckles, by designer Silvia B. The look may be ghetto, but the price tag ain't: €725 a pair. Link to designer's website, where you'll find these and other limited-edition "wearable sculptures." (via, thanks Siege!)

Reader comment: Sharif says,

As nice as the Love/Hate gloves are, I'd love to see a pair of the Luv/Hat variety.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:09:58 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Jewel-encrusted Mister Potato Head


This specimen of profound vulgarity, spotted at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus between cases of Baccarat and Limoges, is a jewel-encrusted Mister Potato Head. I took some snapshots with my phone: one, two, three. The last time I saw such meretricious merch off Rodeo Drive was some hand grenade perfume next door, at Saks 5th Avenue.

Previously on BoingBoing: Darth Tater.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:08:35 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Web zen: testing zen

google image quiz | rorshack test | firing squad | self-referential  test  | what kind of american english?  | monday morning test  | various personality tests  | Web Zen Home, Store (Thanks Frank!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:07:31 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Folksonomy, meet personomy

Over yonder on his blog, Bruce Sterling says,

I've been noticing that successful tech neologisms tend to have children. For instance, the term "AJAX" was a little suspect at first, because the acronym for "Asynchronous Java and Xtml" doesn't always entirely jibe with programmers' actual usage of web techniques that get called "Ajax." However, Ajax spawned "COMET" and "FLORWAX." This lineage makes Ajax much harder to kill.

"Folksonomy" has now reached a similar fertile-adult stage with the coinage of "personomy."


posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:06:55 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Peepshow chicks in chocolate

Hold this NSFW white chocolate bar up to the light, and you'll see three clothes-free women.

Link (Thanks, mr lim)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:06:01 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Photos: largest protest ever in Los Angeles history contributor eecue says,

"Today I walked with half a million people in support of immigrants rights. I took some pictures and wrote about it. It was amazing."


posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:25:18 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Hat of poop (and what a fetching hat of poop it is)

A most fashionable headcovering from Japan in the form of human excrement. 5.5" wide, 4" high, and $22 per turd from Link (via suicidegirls/Vanessa, thanks Susannah)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:16:11 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Web zen: video zen

nam june paik | rutt-etra video synthesizer | video feedback  | bathroom | i am drugs | elevator moods | pleix | post video art | park 4dtv  |  Web Zen Home, Store (Thanks Frank!)

Reader comment: jesse jack sez,

It feels like a post including the Rutt-Etra synthesizer is incomplete without a mention of another amazing, early realtime video processor, the Daniel Sandin Image processor. And maybe a mention for Steina and Woody Vasulka, who created several works with both processors: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:09:52 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Did Entertainment Weekly rip off Robert Ullman's art?

 Blogger 2775 1140 1600 Rockem  Blogger 2775 1140 1600 Ew
About a month ago, illustrator Robert Ullman sent his latest promo postcard -- featuring Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann Al Franken (thanks Aaron!) as Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots -- to a bunch of art directors, including "five or six contacts at Entertainment Weekly".

Imagine his surprise to open the latest copy of EW and see an illustration of Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann as Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots rendered by another illustrator. Coincidence? Maybe. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:52:48 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Nontransitive dice -- how to win every time

I'm reading a terrific book by William Poundstone called Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System that Beat the Casinos and Wall Street. On page 153 Poundstone writes about a 1968 dinner meeting between mathematician Edward Thorp and fund manager Warren Buffett. Poundstone mentions in passing that Buffett and Thorpe discussed their shared interest in nontransitive dice. "These are a mathematical curiosity, a type of 'trick' dice that confound most people's ideas about probability," writes Poundstone.

Curious, I googled "nontransitive dice" and found a nice description of them by Ivars Peterson at the Mathematical Association of America's website.

Peterson introduces the subject with this intriguing paragraph:

The game involves four specially numbered dice. You let your opponent pick any one of the four dice. You choose one of the remaining three dice. Each player tosses his or her die, and the higher number wins the throw. Amazingly, in a game involving 10 or more throws, you will nearly always have more wins.

Here's what the dice look like:

 Mathland Fig 10 6

The trick is to always let your opponent pick first, and then you pick the die to the left of his selection (if he picks the die with the four 4s, then circle round to the die with the three ones). It's just like playing Rock, Paper, Scissors -- only you get to see what the other guy picks in advance.

With these dice, you always have a 2/3 probability of winning -- what a great sucker's bet! Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:47:14 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Buck Owens, RIP

 Images P B0000033F0.01. Sclzzzzzzz One of my friends used to like to take LSD and watch Hee Haw, a hillbilly variety show hosted by Roy Clark and Buck Owens. I never paid much attention to the show, but he convinced me to listen to the music of Roy, Buck, and Grandpa Jones, insisting they were geniuses. And he is right. I became a big fan of all three, and learned to love Hee Haw, even without drugs.

Yesterday, Buck Owens, a supremely gifted songwriter and guitar player passed away at the age of 76. He'll be missed. His music lives on. If you're curious, I recommend The Very Best of Buck Owens.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:21:52 PM permalink | blogs' comments

RoadWired's Skooba Satchel

 Store Productimages Skooba Satchel Olive Lg In a dozen years of carrying a laptop computer, I've probably gone through an equal number of laptop bags. Backpacks, messenger bags, man-purses... I've tried them all. Thing is, I'm very picky. Last year, Cory turned me on to the joys of RoadWired products and on short outings I started carrying my 12" Powerbook in one of their excellent Compact Skooba Sleeves. At least once a week, someone asks me who makes it. That sounds like hype, but it's the truth. And I'm not sure why. Sure, it's a great bag, but it's pretty darn minimalist in terms of design. Maybe that's why it grabs people's attention.

Several weeks ago, I swapped out my deteriorating messenger bag that I carry on longer trips for the new larger Skooba Satchel, a beefed-up version of the minimalist Skooba Sleeve. I spent a week plus a weekend on the road with it and I didn't miss my trusty messenger bag once. Like the Sleeve, the Satchel's laptop pouch is lined with Air Squares for protection if when you drop it. In fact, the $99.95 Satchel is basically the Sleeve impregnated with a dozen more pockets. The main laptop compartment can hold 17-inch laptops, making it a bit oversized for my 12" Powerbook. If you also have a small laptop, you might first put it in a simple sleeve or one of the RoadWired RAPS diapers to keep things tight and tidy once it's in the Satchel. That also comes in handy so you can transport your laptop around a conference or to a cafe when you don't need the whole Satchel. (Think of the extra sleeve or RAPS as a shuttle craft.) Now if only the Satchel wasn't so heavy. But that's not RoadWired's problem--the Satchel weighs 44 ounces empty. Time to put my gear on a diet again.

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:35:48 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Snakes on a Plane meets Cory's angry letter to AA

Metafilter's Stevil has posted an hilarious mashup of my angry note to American Airlines and the new Samuel Jackson movie, "Snakes on a Plane":
On Sunday, January 9th, I flew AA51 from London Gatwick to Dallas-Fort Worth. At Gatwick, I was confronted with a security check that exceeded sense and decency and, I feel, creates a terrible potential liability for your airline.

At Gatwick, I was directed to a security podium before I checking in for my flight. The security officer asked me a series of questions, such as:

* Where are you flying?

* How long have you owned your luggage for?

* Are there any motherfucking snakes in your luggage?

The security officer then handed me a blank piece of paper and said, "Please write down the names and addresses of ever motherfucking snake you're staying with in the USA."

Link (Thanks, Erik!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 07:36:35 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Friday, March 24, 2006

Justin Watt and ACLU win parody case

200603242037 O'Reilly OPG web producer, Justin Watt, successfully defended himself against a laughable cease-and-desist sent to him from a creepy outfit called Exodus International, which promises to help gay people obtain “freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.”

About three weeks ago Exodus International sent Justin the cease-and-desist for this image that parodies the lame billboards that Exodus International uses to advertise their hideous message.

The ACLU jumped to Justin's aid by sending Exodus International a mind-blowingly great letter explaining why Justin is well within his rights to make laughing stocks of the homophobic group. And Exodus International backed off. Here's a USA Today article about it.

And here's Justin's blog entry with a link to the ACLU letter. Way to go, Justin and the ACLU!

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:44:14 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Megaphone helmet on eBay

 Blogger 4749 510 1600 HelmetHow have I been able to exist this long without a 1950s megaphone helmet? eBay has two - get one for you and your significant other and take your arguments to a new level.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 05:54:00 PM permalink | blogs' comments

EMI releases Brazilian DRM CDs that totally hose their customers

Brazilian mega-star Marisa Monte's new CDs from EMI ("Infinito Particular" and "Universo ao Meu Redor") come with DRM that can't be uninstalled, and requires you to "agree" to a contract that isn't published in Portuguese. Even if you disagree, the malware is installed. The DRM blocks you from playing the CD on Linux and MacOS, and from loading it onto an iPod. This, just as the Brazilian government has launched a Computers for All initiative to distribute 1,000,000 Linux PCs, seems particularly contemptuous of the Brazilian people. Ronaldo sez,
When you insert the CD in your computer, it automatically opens a window with the "License Agreement" of the CD. This is a very large contract in Portuguese, but it is very difficult to read. The agreement is opened in window programmed in flash, so it is impossible to cut and paste the text into another program. In some computers, when you try to scroll down the contract using the arrows, the text slides completely out of control, making it impossible to read.

After taking some time to read the agreement, the first thing that called my attention is that the text says that a full copy of the contract is available at the address "". That is NOT TRUE. If you go to the "Brazil" link at the page, there is no copy of the agreement whatsoever at the website, contrary to what the agreement itself expressly says.

The text of the agreement says that the CD will install software in your computer in order to make the cd playable. However, it says that the user must acknowledge the fact that "certain files and folders might remain in your computer even after the user removes the digital content, the software and/or the player".

Additionally, it says the following: "This contract has been originally drafted in English. The user waives any and all rights that he or she might have under the laws of his or her own country or province, in regard of this contract drafted in any other language".

Finally, my favorite part. There are two buttons below the agreement. The first reads "Accept the Agreement" the second reads "Reject it". After reading all the above, I decided to reject it, and pressed the "reject" button. Immediately a screen with the word "Initializing" appeared, the proprietary software was installed, and the music started to play in my computer using the proprietary EMI player, as if I had "accepted" the whole thing.

(Thanks, Ronaldo!)

Update: Of course, if you want to get this music without infecting your PC, there's always ISOHunt -- thanks, Christopher!

Update 2: Before you click on ISOHunt, read this, from Malke: "IsoHunt tries to install Winfixer on a Windows machine. Since I know you use an Apple and I use Linux, it wouldn't affect us, but even here on Linux using Firefox with popup control, I got three popup window attempts to install Winfixer on my machine. Winfixer is really nasty malware (I do computer tech support/repair for a living and that's how I know about this) and will seriously mess up Windows users' machines."

Update 3: Clarification: it's not ISOHunt that hs the malware, it's some of the search results on the ISOHunt page.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:40:38 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Altoids case made from old iPod shuffle

Picture 13-1 Courtney, a graphics artist, like to use Altoid cases to hold extra X-Acto blades. But now where do the Altoid mints go? Why, inside a gutted iPod shuffle. Instructables has the instructions for making one of your own.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:25:15 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Walt Disney film about venereal diseases

Disney VD cartoon Amid says: "Somebody has posted on Google Video a copy of the super-rare 1973 Disney film VD ATTACK PLAN, which is all about venereal disease protection. Who ever said Disney cartoons and condoms don't mix!

"I also mentioned it on CartoonBrew today."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:08:44 PM permalink | blogs' comments

What if? Pierce Bush interviewed in Iraq

Pierce Bush in Iraq vaporlock says: "You had some stuff on your site today that mentions Pierce Bush, [the 19-year-old who supports his uncle George W. Bush's war in Iraq yet bafflingly hasn't signed up to fight for democracy in Iraq]. I made a video and posted it on youtube were I took the interview of Pierce and placed him in Iraq, thus making the interview that much more watchable. Check out the video and post it if you like."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:49:01 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Major retailers offer on-site inkjet refills

Chicago Tribune reports on how large retailers such as OfficeMax and Walgreens are offering on-premises ink-jet cartridge refilling services. Hewlett-Packard is pretending not to care, but the article says printer supplies account for about 70 of HP's printer business profits, and that 15-20 percent of the supply business has already moved to third-party refillers.
"I'm of the opinion it's just ink," said Sean Lowry, a senior vice president for Pacor Mortgage in Chicago, whose company is hooked on the service. "An average cartridge for a good printer or copier is $100. If you're using six or seven machines at the office, that's a lot of money."
Link (via Make Blog)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:46:28 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Ten-Year-Old Robot Punk Rock prodigy

Boing Boing reader Jesse says,

My 10-year-old brother Brendan (now known as "Eddy Demon") is the frontman, lead guitarist, and principal songwriter for a punk rock band called "Total Annihilation." One of his best lyrics (in my book) is:

"You say cool, I say hot! / Together we made a robot!"

Anyway, they just released an EP, which features some originals (like "Rock and Roll on a Friday"), and some covers (like Iggy Pop's "I Wanna Be Your Dog"). They even have a creation myth:

Long ago there lived a demon by the name of Rock.Rock was inventing a plan to take over the world.After 2,000 years he had finally invented a plan.Rock created a style of music which he called Rock'N'Roll.The only thing Rock needed now was minnios to help him complete his plan to take over the world.

Link. The robot kid sounds kick-ass.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:26:49 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Statue of nude Britney Spears giving birth

"Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" is a life size statue by artist Daniel Edwards. It will be unveiled at Capla Kesting Fine Art in Brooklyn on April 7.
 Danedwards Big Img 0065“Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston,” believed Pro-Life’s first monument to the ‘act of giving birth,’ is purportedly an idealized depiction of Britney in delivery. Natural aspects of Spears’ pregnancy, like lactiferous breasts and protruding naval, compliment a posterior view that depicts widened hips for birthing and reveals the crowning of baby Sean’s head.
Link (via PCL Linkdump)

Update: Here's a podcast interview with Daniel Edwards.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:15:32 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Fresh children arrive from space to replace roboticized Earthlings

Well that's a relief. As the photo here clearly proves, a fresh crop of children have finally landed from outer space, to replace the hordes of Earth-children forcibly assimilated into robot consciousness. Link to "recycled cardboard rocket playhouse." (Thanks, Gary Grainger)

- Random jpeg of cuteness: robot kid
- More evidence robots devouring our kids
- Earth-children's robot resistance marches on

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:11:40 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Fake titles for Neil Bush's software company, Ignite! Learning

On March 23, 2006, I wrote about Neil Bush's educational software company, Ignite! Learning, and about the company's shady investors, which include scions of the Chinese ruling class, United Arab Emirate royalty, and a Russian gazillionaire wanted on criminal charges for allegedly plotting to overthrow Boris Vladimir Putin. Neil's mother, Barbara Bush, is also a big beleiver in Neil's company -- her donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund was specifically earmarked for her son's company. (Here's a Houstin Chronicle article with more details.)

I asked readers to send in their suggestions for Ignite! software titles, were they to reflect the behavior and philosophy of Neil Bush and his investors. The suggestions were great, and I've posted some of my favorites below.

At the end of this entry, I'm running two emails sent in by people defending Ignite!. One is from a guy who is friends with Ignite! employees, who he describes as "distinctly kind and gentle individuals." The other email is from an actual employee of Ignite! who wishes to remain anonymous.

But first, here is my favorite entry, from Bob's:

Well, to promote traditional values, Ignite! would, of course, release different games for boys and girls. . .

For the girls:

Explora the Whora - As Explora, travel around the world knocking on hotel room doors looking for relatives of the rich and powerful. Maximum possible points for each round are based on the hotel guest’s family’s wealth and influence. Get friendly with the guest as quickly as possible, then collect points by extracting marriage proposals and/or blackmail payouts! Teaches young women how to move up in neo-conservative America and patriarchal societies around the world.

For the boys:

ShockAndAwecracy - As president G. W. Booyah, dress up in your flight suit and jump in to the cockpit of your NewWorldReorderer machine! Just press buttons to select countries from a map of the world, sending bombs and troops to spread democracy and freedom! Maximize your score by spending as much borrowed money as possible. Score extra points for enriching your friends with no-bid contracts to rebuild what you have destroyed (no rebuilding required). Teaches boys how to make friends and influence people.

Here, in no particular order, are the runners-up:

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:53:57 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Principles for Network Neutrality from USC Annenberg

Snip from statement on the USC Annenberg website:
In February the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of Southern California invited a group of senior communication experts from industry, academia, and consumer groups to discuss how to begin to bridge differences over the issue of network neutrality. In cordial, off-the-record discussions several key principles began to emerge that we believe could serve as a base from which detailed discussions might proceed. We have continued to fine-tune these ideas over the past month. Not all participants are completely comfortable with every principle. But, we all believe that these Principles may help anchor the current debate and may help advance the conversation. We wish to place them on the record so that interested parties and the public can continue the process of reaching agreement on this important issue.
Here is the list of principles, released by Annenberg Center for Communication Executive Director Jonathan Aronson and Senior Fellow Simon Wilkie, a former FCC chief economist:
The Annenberg Center Principles for Network Neutrality

The goal of the Annenberg Center Principles for Network Neutrality is to provide a simple, clear set of guidelines addressing the public Internet markets for broadband access.

1. Operators and Customers Both Should Win: It is important to encourage network infrastructure investment by enabling operators to benefit from their investments. It also is important to ensure that customers have the option of unrestricted access to services and content on the global public Internet.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:13:57 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Cryptozoology museums

At Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman surveys several cryptozoology museums throughout the world. From the post:
MothmuseumArtist John Frick of Cumberland, Maryland, stands under his creation, a Mothman replica that hangs from the ceiling of the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant, West Virginia...

What cryptozoology and Bigfoot museums would you recommend to other Cryptomundo readers from your journeys and readings? (please post comments at Cryptomundo--ed.)

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:03:09 AM permalink | blogs' comments