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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Signing off for 2005: Thank you, dear reader.

Feliz Año Nuevo. Much gratitude to you for visiting our humble blog. I hope you'll come back when the calendar strikes aught-six. Image: Maria Magdalena, shot inside a church in Antigua, Guatemala (2004 / Xeni).

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:45:03 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bootleg copy of 2006 Hooters calendar

Link to scanned image. It's totally worksafe. It's a joke. (Thanks, Wayne Correia!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:40:03 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Moment of FSM zen: Pasta Club devotional fountain

An intrepid New York City photographer spotted this faith-based fountain in Central Park. It stands in tribute to the secret Pastafarian society known to acolytes as PASTA CLUB. Believe. Link (Thanks, Adam Fields!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:32:10 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Friday, December 30, 2005

How to break Silly Putty

A couple of days ago I wrote about a Google employee who mashed together 250 lbs of Silly Putty and then had a hard time breaking it up into chunks. Today Dr. Paul J. Camp, from the Department of Physics at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA emailed me to say:
Picture 1-61 "I guess they didn't try smacking it with a hammer.

"Silly Putty is a bizarre polymer, but like most polymers it has a transition temperature at which its physical properties change. In this case, there is a glass transition temperature (Tg) -- below Tg, the polymer will behave like a glass and shatter on impact instead of deforming. For example, PVC has a Tg of 83 C which makes it a reasonable choice for cold water pipes but not for hot water, which would cause it to flow like Silly Putty (addition of various plasticizers can adjust the Tg). However, often the viscoelastic properties of polymers have a rate dependence and this is the case for Silly Putty. Do the same amount of work over a much shorter time (smack it with a hammer instead of pulling) and the SP behaves as if its Tg has been raised. It then shatters into bits.

"You can read a mildly confusing scientific explanation here (from Case Western) along with pictures of Silly Putty subjected to the same force at different rates, or if you prefer a more visceral experience, watch the video from this experiment of what happens when you drop a 50 pound beach ball made of Silly Putty off the roof of a building."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 04:01:59 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Every #1 song ever to appear on Billboard Top 100 squashed into one long song

R. Luke DuBois has created an interesting piece of music out of the 857 songs that have appeared at the top of the charts in the Billboard Top 100 since 1958. The result, called "Billboard," is 37 minutes long.
Billboard allows you to get a birds-eye view of the Billboard Hot 100 by listening to all the #1 singles from 1958 through the millenium using a technique I've been working on for a couple of years called time-lapse phonography. The 857 songs used to make the piece are analyzed digitally and a spectral average is then derived from the entire song. Just as a long camera exposure will fuse motion into a single image, spectral averaging allows us to look at the average sonority of a piece of music, however long, giving a sort of average timbre of a piece. This gives us a sense of the average key and register of the song, as well as some clues about the production values present at the time the record was made; for example, the improvements in home stereo equipment over the past fifty years, as well as the gradual replacement of (relatively low-fidelity) AM radio with FM broadcasting has had an impact on how records are mixed... drums and bass lines gradually become louder as you approach the present, increasing the amount of spectral noise and low tones in our averages.
Link (Thanks, Arwen!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:56:33 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Update to iPod meat story

Yesterday, we noted that a Hawaii teenager was surprised to find a piece of raw meat in her xmas iPod box instead of an iPod. Here are more details:
An investigation found that a former [Walmart] employee apparently tampered with a shipment of iPods and put the meat into several packages. The former employee now faces tampering charges, Local 6 News reported.
Link (thanks, Cathy!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:05:14 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bloody Mary: War on Xmas over, War on Blasphemy starts

Here's the head of the Catholic League gloating over the organization's victory in convincing Comedy Central to pull a controversial episode of South Park this week:

The episode in question featured a statue of the Virgin Mary spraying blood from her vagina. It was one of the most vile TV shows ever to appear, and that is why I asked Joseph Califano, a practicing Catholic and member of Viacom’s board of directors (Viacom is the parent company of Comedy Central) to issue a public condemnation of the ‘Bloody Mary’ episode; I also asked that he do whatever he could to pull any scheduled reruns of the episode.

“On December 9, the day Califano received our request, he released a statement condemning the episode. He also said that any further decisions would have to be made by Tom Freston, president and chief executive of the New Viacom. For the past few weeks, we have been in touch with Freston’s office awaiting his decision. Yesterday, we received a phone call from Tony Fox, executive vice president for corporate communications at Comedy Central, informing us that there were no plans to rerun ‘Bloody Mary.’

“Already, we are being deluged with hate mail that is as obscene as it is viciously anti-Catholic. All because we exercised our First Amendment right to request that Comedy Central not offend Catholics again! But we’re used to such things and will not be deterred.”

Link (Thanks, Todd Jackson, headline swiped from H.O.T).

Previously on Boing Boing:
"Bloody Mary" resurrected: censored South Park hits P2P

Reader comment: Damien says,

I've added some information regarding the controversy to the episode's Wikipedia page itself. Link
Reader comment: Steve Wallace says,
Here's the link to Comedy Centrals feedback form if anyone wants to send them a note letting them know how you feel about the whole South Park censorship deal. Maybe enough viewer mail will let them know they made a bad decision.
Reader comment: IZ Reloaded says,
Comedy Central may have pulled down the rerun of the South Park episode Bloody Mary after the Catholic League successfully issued a complaint but over at its South Park Studios website, it is still making available clips of the episode for download. Link
Reader comment: Keith Blackwell says,
I just read that Catholic League reply to the South Park episode; "... All because we exercised our First Amendment right to request that Comedy Central not offend Catholics again!" Their first amendment rights? What about the First Amendment rights of people to broadcast satirical cartoons? Why can't they not watch if they are so easily offended?

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:23:55 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Truth is, you people want more horse sex.

A Seattle Times columnist bemoans the fact that the paper's top-read online story in 2005 was the one about the guy who died from intimate relations with a four-hooved member of the equine persuasion.
So we in the news business enter 2006 with one eye on the future and, whether we admit it or not, one eye fixed firmly on our Web stats. It could lead to some schizophrenia, like that old Saturday Night Live skit on subliminal news: "The state Legislature convened today in Olympia (horse sex), and Seattle officials (bestiality) requested funds for a new viaduct (perforated colon)."
Trigger, please! Link to Danny Westneat's editorial. We could use a traffic boost around here, too. Expect more horsebuggery posts on Boing Boing in 2006. (thanks, Rob)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:41:08 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

John Battelle on RSS and IM mashups

Boing Boing's general manager John Battelle has written a great post about an emerging use for IM that will make the mobile internet truly useful.
 Images Bb Bot So remember that prediction I made back in 2004, the one about mobile busting out in some kind of Web 2.0 way in 2005?


I think MakeBot is it. Or at least, what MakeBot points us toward is it. And the beauty is that a couple of code jockeys like Phil Torrone and his partner Sergio Zlobin can make it happen in a few days, using platforms (IM) and data structures (RSS) that already exist.

This all comes not from a major mobile company, or a hot new Internet startup, but from Make magazine, where Phil - who has been banging this drum for a long, long time - works. MakeBot points the way toward a possible end around the walled gardens of mobile carriers.

Read the rest... Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:11:22 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Ignoring UK ban, bloggers publish leaked torture memos

Snip from The Register:
Former ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has harnessed the Internet in his long-running feud with the UK Government. A forthcoming book covering his time as ambassador is currently being blocked by the Foreign Office, which has demanded he remove references to two documents from the book and his web site. Murray has responded by publishing the documents in full there, and by encouraging bloggers to disseminate the documents as widely as possible.

The documents consist of a Foreign & Commonwealth Office legal opinion concerning evidence that may have been obtained by torture, and several letters sent by Murray to the FCO during his time as ambassador. These letters state that the use of torture is routine in Uzbekistan, that US policy there (which the UK supports) is focussed on oil, gas and hegemony rather than democracy or freedom, and that by knowingly receiving evidence obtained through torture the UK is in breach of the UN Convention on Torture. "With Tony Blair and Jack Straw cornered on extraordinary rendition," says Murray, "the UK Government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers."

Link to Register article by John Lettice.

Link to the former ambassador's blog, here is the Wikipedia entry on Craig Murray (which currently also includes text of the banned memos) and here is a related thread on MeFi.

Here's an excerpt from one of Murray's banned documents:

Between 7,000 and 10,000 political and religious prisoners are currently detained, many after trials before kangaroo courts with no representation. Terrible torture is commonplace: the EU is currently considering a demarche over the terrible case of two Muslims tortured to death in jail apparently with boiling water. Two leading dissidents, Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna, were two weeks ago committed to a lunatic asylum, where they are being drugged, for demonstrating on human rights. Opposition political parties remain banned. There is no doubt that September 11 gave the pretext to crack down still harder on dissent under the guise of counter-terrorism.

Yet on 8 September the US State Department certified that Uzbekistan was improving in both human rights and democracy, thus fulfilling a constitutional requirement and allowing the continuing disbursement of $140 million of US aid to Uzbekistan this year. Human Rights Watch immediately published a commendably sober and balanced rebuttal of the State Department claim.

Again we are back in the area of the US accepting sham reform(...). In August media censorship was abolished, and theoretically there are independent media outlets, but in practice there is absolutely no criticism of President Karimov or the central government in any Uzbek media. State Department call this self-censorship: I am not sure that is a fair way to describe an unwillingness to experience the brutal methods of the security services.

Image: Fatima Mukhadirova, with photos of her son, prisoner Muzafar Avazov. Despite photographic evidence to the contrary, authorities in Uzbekistan reject reports that he was immersed in boiling water until he died, with his fingernails torn out. The 63-year-old woman was jailed in 2004 after pressing officials for information about her son's murder (BBC News link).

Reader comment: Dave Monk says, "This website is tracking mentions of the banned memos as they hit the net."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:32:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

EFF and Sony BMG Reach Preliminary Settlement on rootkit

Snip from Electronic Frontier Foundation announcement:
"The proposed settlement will provide significant benefits for consumers who bought the flawed CDs," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Under the terms, those consumers will get what they thought they were buying--music that will play on their computers without restriction or security risk. EFF is continuing discussions with Sony BMG, however, and believes that there is more they can do to protect music lovers in the future."

"Sony agreed to stop production of these flawed and ineffective DRM technologies," noted EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "We hope that other record labels will learn from Sony's hard experience and focus more on the carrot of quality music and less on the stick of copy protection."

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joined in this preliminary settlement agreement with Sony BMG this week to settle several class action lawsuits filed due to Sony's use of flawed and overreaching computer program in millions of music CDs sold to the public. The proposed terms of settlement have been presented to the court for preliminary approval and will likely be considered in a hearing set for January 6, 2005 in federal court in New York City.

Link to media advisory, and here's coverage from the BBC today.

Previous posts on Boing Boing: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:28:14 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"Chronic-WHAT-cles of Narnia" spreads like frosting

Newspapers, magazines and broadcast networks around the world are chomping down on the "Lazy Sunday" meme as if it were delivered in a box from Magnolia Bakery.

But faithful Boing Boing readers know that the Lonely Island dudes' overnight success was a long, long night in the making -- we were fans of Jorma, Andy, and Akiva years before they got their big SNL break.

Of the many headlines they made this week, none is so delightful as this Babelfish-translated item from Der Spiegel:


Freshly baked Muffin RAP star could be abserviert therefore fast ice cold: "perhaps we stand there next Monday without ideas. And that is intimidating ", said Schaffer. "we can use each assistance."

Do you read German? I don't care. Please don't send a real translation. I just want to remember "Klick-Kult mit Gangsta-Rap" in unadulterated bot-grish.

And of the dozens of links to fan projects we've received, this one takes the (cup) cake: Boing Boing reader Nate says,

I was totally inspired by the SNL skit to produce a t-shirt for a developer I work with and so I want to send it out to anyone else who wants to upload it to cafe press or whatever.
Link to "DIY Chronic-WHAT-cles of Narnia t-shirt." Or whatever.
(Thanks, Micah!)

Reader comment: Graham says,

Someone put up some Lazy Sunday bobbleheads on eBay. It's even got a background thing-a-majig. Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:45:08 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Wales: Ads on Wikipedia are a possibility (UPDATED)

Wikipedia's founder told a UK paper this week that the user-edited online encyclopedia may carry advertisements at some point. Given current traffic levels, such a move could generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Snip from article:
Jimmy Wales told Times Online that despite widespread "resistance to the idea" of advertising on Wikipedia, "at some point questions are going to be raised over the amount of money we are turning down."

Wikipedia would be in a prime position to exploit the current boom in online advertising. It expects to record around 2.5 billion page impressions this month and traffic volumes are doubling every four months. According to figures released this month by Nielsen/Netratings, it was the ninth-fastest growing site on the web in 2005.

Link to UK Times interview. (thanks, Kevin)

UPDATE: On Jimmy Wales's Wikipedia User Talk page, he says the quote has been taken out of context for the sake of hype and headlines.

Please read the story, not the headline. :-) I said to this reporter the same thing I have been saying to everyone for years. Nothing has changed. What I have been saying forever is that I think we will eventually, as a community, face the question of whether the amount of money we are turning down, and the amount of good we could do with that money towards our charitable mission, is worth more than our pride in being ad free. The way I like to put this is as follows:

it is easy for us to sit in our safe Western wealthy nations with broadband internet connections and pat ourselves on the back for not having any ads, but if, for example, having some google-style ads on the search results page only could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, and that money could be used to bring Wikipedia to millions of people who currently have no access, I think that we, as a community, have to be serious and thoughtful about that decision.

Having said that, I personally remain opposed to having ads in Wikipedia. It's just that a serious NPOV discussion of the matter necessarily would involve us being really serious about what we are turning down and why. This is exactly what I've been saying for years. If you know why the press likes to run inflammatory headlines every few days, well, please let me know. I find it all a bit baffling to be honest.

A statement from me "I am personally opposed to having ads in Wikipedia" somehow becomes "Wikipedia chief considers taking ads".

-- Jimbo Wales 16:46, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

(Thanks, Calton Bolick)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:32:12 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Web Zen: animal games zen

chicken tic-tac-toe
cow herding
pig balance
catching tales
dog frisbee
dog boounce
panda bounce
spider jump
bug on a wire
worm battleship
seagull bomber
bear and cat

web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

Reader comment: Colby Griggs says, "I'm sure I won't be the only one that says 'Where's the Yeti?' Link. Specifically - Pingu Throw SE. It's been updated so you can control the flight of the penguin after the Yeti bats him."

Reader comment: Andrew says, "Forgot Spaced Penguin -- Link."

Reader comment: Geoffrey says, "Don't forget Bird Snatchers! Link."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:18:13 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

New West goes to a gator farm

New West has an excellent article (and photos) by Ted Alvarez about Colorado's San Luis Valley. In this piece, the first installment of a series, Alvarez gets up close and personal with the residents of a gator farm, and those who wrangle the reptiles.
 Images Thumbnails Feature Slv1 Jayyoung1-1
Jay Young, 27, the son of Colorado Gators founders Erwin and Lynne, holds several gator wrestling titles and has spent his entire life wrangling the massive reptiles. The city of Los Angeles recently hired him to attempt to remove a released pet gator from a public lake, and rumors abound that he’s taken a few “meetings” with Hollywood since his celebrated visit made local and national news. When I finally catch this wiry, muddy bayou man sauntering towards me, with a cigarette dangling from his lower lip and stringy hair in his face, it’s easy to see why.

“I learned to handle ‘em when I was small and they were small,” he drawls sleepily. “I mean, I got bit a few times, and each time I learned not to what I did again.” When prodded, he proceeds to name off his injuries nonchalantly, as if ticking off items on his Thursday grocery list. “A 6-footer—Tinkerbell—got my arm,” he says, pointing to a lengthy scar on his ropy forearm. “I let my arms get to far out to the side. Three fingers got crushed and held in a big one’s jaws…teething, I guess.”
Link (Thanks, Jonathan Weber!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:56:32 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Why not to shoot a gun into the air for fun on New Year's Eve

Over at Bill Gurstelle's new and excellent blog, Notes from the Technology Underground, there's an entry about the foolish practice of "celebratory firing," that is, shooting rounds of ammunition straight up in the air for fun.
...the terminal velocity of your typical bullet coming back down varies a lot but is normally more than 200 feet per second.

And, other writers on the subject (there have been quite a few) say that tests on cadavers show that skin is punctured and underlying organs messed up (my words, not theirs) at bullet velocities that exceed 180 feet per second. And, since falling bullets typically strike people in the head or shoulders, this appears to me to be a very dangerous practice.


Reader comment: David says: "I worked my way through much of my higher education as a night clerk in ER's, and every year at Xmas and the 4th of July there'd be a few falling gunshot wounds. I'd like to reiterate that the bullets are going more than fast enough to kill people when they hit the ground--there have been cases where a bullet punched through a car roof and hit someone inside. Moreover, the falling trajectory gives the bullet a much longer path through the human body than a flat trajectory, making the wounds much more gruesome than a typical gunshot, even if they don't hit the head or shoulders.

"Speaking as someone who's seen the results I can honestly say that shooting in the air is a Really Bad Thing. Really--don't."

Reader comment: Jamie of Slashdot says: "In their answers to the questions our Slashdot readers sent them, the Mythbusters team recently promised an interesting report on the 'bullets fired straight up' question...

What is your favorite Busted Myth and your favorite Confirmed one? ADAM SAVAGE -- I've always been partial to the Penny Drop myth, i.e. will a penny dropped from the Empire State Building kill you when it hits the ground? To me, that was one of the most elegant and simple applications of science to a question that we've done. Until last week. We just worked on a myth called "bullets fired up" -- i.e., will a bullet fired directly vertically kill you when it comes back down. We did tons of research on it, and in the end, added significantly to the body of knowledge that's out there on the subject. I won't give away the ending, but we nailed this one.

Reader comment: Ben says: "Despite every attempt to do so, I couldn't find an archived news story of the following very real tale (sorry). I know this might ring of a FOAF urban legend, but it's not! Trust me!

"In my hometown of Erie, PA, about 10-12 years ago, there was an incident just as described in your post. An adolescent girl was struck in the head with a falling bullet as she watched New Year's Eve fireworks...the irony of the situation was that she was attending on of those 'alcohol-free, family-friendly' New Year's Eve events, whereas the guy who shot the gun (who, incredibly, was eventually caught) was at a party a few blocks away.

"In the relatively crime-free location of Erie, where shootings are rare, this story was huge, and the criminal trial (as well as the girl's recovery) was followed by the media for weeks to come."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:39:26 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Google founders Brin and Page to finance indie film

Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page will make their first foray into film finance as co-executive producers of Broken Arrows.

Set for release in late 2006, Reid Gershbein's sub-$1M feature tells the tale of "a man who loses his pregnant wife in a terrorist attack and then takes a job as a hit man."

Link to SF Chronicle story, and here's the movie website. No, wait, it's a movie blog. A mlog, 'cause we're truncated like that, yo.
(via Defamer, where there's more)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 05:50:02 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Professor blasts colleagues on DHS/Little Red Book hoax

Snip from Boston Globe story:
The head of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth wants the university to suspend a student who made up a story about being grilled by federal antiterrorism agents over a library book and to reprimand faculty members who spread the tale.

Following the student's admission Friday that it was a hoax, Clyde Barrow, chairman of the policy studies department, said UMass should punish the student and faculty members, in particular two history professors who repeated the unsubstantiated assertion of the history student to a New Bedford Standard-Times reporter.

(...) ''It's unbelievable that this student is not being suspended for a semester," wrote Barrow, who said he does not know the student's identity. ''It's even more unbelievable that the faculty who jumped the gun on this story and actively promoted it on campus, the Internet, and blogs will walk away from their misconduct without any consequences."

Link to story, and here is previous Boing Boing coverage.

As one eloquent BB buddy put it earlier this week, "There's already enough weird stuff going on in America right now -- it's not like anyone needs to make shit up."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 04:54:38 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

16-year-old studies journalism, then runs away to Iraq alone

Farris Hassan, a 16-year-old high school student from Florida, took a class on "immersion journalism" and was inspired to run away to Baghdad without telling his parents. Link (Thanks, Martin)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 04:53:34 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"Bloody Mary" resurrected: censored South Park hits P2P

The South Park episode killed by Comedy Central this week after Catholic groups complained has ascended to BitTorrent heaven: Link. (Thanks, Cody).

Defamer has more on the story: Link.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Comedy Central downs "Bloody Mary": South Park episode yanked

Reader comment: Todd Jackson says,

Comedy Central does take comments from viewers. If you disagree with the Catholic League, you might want to write in: Link.
Reader comment: Todd Jackson says,
Here's the Catholic League gloating about the recent South Park pulling, commending Comedy Central for pulling the episode and then calling the creators of the episode "bigots." Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 04:05:16 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

And now, we pause for a Bladerunner origami unicorn moment

There's been entirely too much talk of goatse on Boing Boing lately. Here's an eBay auction to cleanse the palate: Link to "Blade Runner UNICORN ORIGAMI."

(Disclaimer: this blog post is not an endorsement for said auction. If you drop Hamiltons on it, you do so at your own peril).
(Thanks, Jason)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 03:54:47 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xeni on NPR: 2005 Tech News Hall of Shame

On today's edition of the NPR News program "Day to Day," I spoke with host Farai Chideya about the most shameful moments in technology news this past year.

Many of those low points will be familar to Boing Boing readers: Yahoo's role in the imprisonment of Chinese journalist Shi Tao, the Sony rootkit debacle extended dance remix, and Apple versus bloggers, to name but three.

Link to segment details and archived audio, Link to Day to Day website. Previous "Xeni Tech" segments on NPR here.

See also Kevin Poulsen's terrific year-end roundup for Wired News, "Worst Tech Moments of 2005." Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 03:38:17 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Excellent TiVo practical joke

Thomas Hawk says: "Google Video has a homemade video up done by a bunch of guys who played a practical joke on their friend. They basically TiVo'd the Texas lottery show and then bought a lottery ticket for their friend the next day and played it back like it was live. The guy goes nuts thinking that he just won the Texas lottery and screams and yells and jumps up and down and hugs everyone. Hey, if not to give you the high of winning the lottery at least once in your life, what are good friends for anyway?" Link (Caution -- lots of swear words are uttered in the video.)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:33:40 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

FAA releases space tourism regulations

Ladies and gentlemen, you are now free to float around the cabin. Snip from AP story:
More than 120 pages of proposed rules, released by the government Thursday, regulate the future of space tourism. This don't-forget list touches on everything from passenger medical standards to preflight training for the crew.

Before taking a trip that literally is out of this world, companies would be required to inform the "space flight participant" — known in more earthly settings as simply a passenger — of the risks. Passengers also would be required to provide written consent before boarding a vehicle for takeoff.

Legislation signed a year ago by President Bush and designed to help the space industry flourish prohibits the Federal Aviation Administration from issuing safety regulations for passengers and crew for eight years, unless specific design features or operating practices cause a serious or fatal injury.

Link to full text of news story. The document released by the FAA today includes a mandate that physical exams be recommended but not required, and a requirement that all passengers receive emergency training. Here's a PDF link, and a final set of regulations is expected in late June, 2006. (Thanks, Jeff)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 03:32:28 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Toilet bowl cleaner looks like a windsurfer

 Uploaded Images Wc-Frisch-Alessi-Toilet-729813Owners of toilets in Germany have cause to celebrate -- they can go to the store and buy a little guy who rides the circular waves of their commode, spreading good smells to all who enter the bathroom.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:34:40 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11"

Wall Street Journal has a story on a recent Harris poll revealing that "about 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11." And 41% believe "Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda." It would have been interesting to ask these people if they think the sun goes around the earth and compare their answers to people who think Hussein didn't have strong links to Al Qaeda.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:22:15 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Carousel Goatse

Picture 3-36This is probably unintentional, but it brings to mind the most famous disgusting photo on the net.
Link (more recent Goatse here) (thanks, Tom!)

ObelixReader comment: Hamish Grant says: "That character on the amusement park carousel is Obelix, best friend of Asterix, the beloved cartoon character from Belgium, drawn by Goscinny & Uderzo.

"Obelix is typically seen carrying a large menhir stone (thus his name = Obelisk), which he manufactures and sells from his quarry near the village of invincible Gauls.

"The pose the carousel character is in suggests Obelix's typical presentation and I guess the intent was to have the riders be 'carried' by Obelix in place of his menhir. We have been conditioned by goatse to see something different!"

Reader comment: Andy says: "Yes I know there is far, far more important stuff in the world to worry about than this, but Obelix is French, not Belgian. Not only that, but Asterix, Obelix, their druid Getafix (I kid you not), Chief Vitalstatistix et al are such beloved symbols of French nationalism that you translocate them at your peril."

"Tin Tin is Belgian (written and illustrated by Herge), and indeed 'Asterix in Belgium' is easily one of the best of the Gallic warrior's excursions round Europe, but the chap himself is as French as they come.

"Oh, and thanks but no thanks for reminding me about that picture again. If I could edit one thing out of my memory..."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:48:20 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

When opened, iPod box contains slab of meat

Here's an infuriatingly-sparse-on-details story about a woman in Hawaii who bought an iPod for her son for Christmas. When the boy opened the box, it did not contain an iPod as expected, but a piece of "mystery meat." Link (thanks, Consumatron!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:32:22 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"Outlandish" Tacoma, WA house due for demolition

A county judge in Tacoma, WA has declared Vladmimir Deriugin Jr.'s crazy-looking house to be a danger, and has ordered it to be repaired or demolished. (More photos here.)
Picture 2-39The late-1880s-era house, which Deriugin dreamed of encasing in concrete and using as the core for a 500-foot office and condominium tower, will be torn down within the next couple of months, Deriugin said.

“I’m not going to get my cost out of it,” he said.

Deriugin, 52, estimates he’s invested $2 million worth of time in “research and development” over the years.

Link (thanks, Kevin!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:23:45 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NSA stops using web cookies on NSA.gov after privacy protests

Snip from AP story:
The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type.

The files, known as cookies, disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake. Nonetheless, the issue raised questions about privacy at the agency, which is on the defensive over reports of an eavesdropping program.

"Considering the surveillance power the N.S.A. has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."

Until Tuesday, the N.S.A. site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035. Don Weber, an agency spokesman, said in a statement yesterday that the use of the so-called persistent cookies resulted from a recent software upgrade.


Previously on Boing Boing

Eyeing web tracking bugs at Whitehouse.gov

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:24:49 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NSA Echelon Facility at Yakima, Washington

Boing Boing reader Stricky says,

Here is the Google Maps reference of the Yakima Echelon station, twin to the Sugar Grove facility mentioned in the earlier Boing Boing post, and here are aerial photos: Link one, Link two.

Profile of NSA "listening post" for communications spying. Note: aerial photographs of the Sugar Grove NSA facility referenced in that post came from Cryptome.org, which moved the images off-site earlier this week. Then, the site to which they were relocated went offline. Cryptome.org is back online, but the Sugar Grove images are not.

Reader comment: Tony says,

Here are some more photos from the Echelon spy network, including some of the site here in New Zealand at Waihopai -- Link. Nicky Hagar also wrote a book about NZ's role in the network in 1996 -- Link.
Reader comment: Anonymous says,
There's a facility much like the one pictured, just outside Sacramento, California. Google Map's photos of the region are all super low res (Link) but TerraServer is a bit clearer (if black and white) -- Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:12:33 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

RIP: Joe Owades, biochemist who invented "lite" beer

The inventor of "lite" beer, Joe Owades, died in Sonoma, California, on December 16 at age 86.
Owades was an American biochemist whose chief area of interest originally had been cholesterol. In the early 1950s, however, when work was hard to come by, he took a post first with a laboratory specialising in fermentation science and later one with Rheingold, then among the largest breweries in New York.

Beer is made by the fermentation of sugars obtained from various grains, principally barley. Owades realised that it could be made to feel less heavy on the stomach if many of the excess carbohydrates produced by the brewing process were removed.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:00:40 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Presidential porno-protest posters proliferate in Austria

Art spoof posters that depict Britain's Queen Elizabeth shagging the presidents of the U.S. and France have been (snort) erected throughout Vienna. They popped up just days before Austria is scheduled to take over the EU presidency, much to the embarassment of government officials. Coverage of this odd story in the US has so far been devoid of images -- but trust Boing Boing to stoop where real news organizations will not. Austria's equivalent of the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is said to have funded the campaign. Here are a few shots on Idealog, and the whole series is available as a torrent here.
(Thanks, Sean, and Idealog)

Reader comment: Christopher Granade says,

According to Raw Story, these posters have been removed from Vienna bilboards. From the story, "Austrian media reported that the offending images were yanked yesterday — just a day after they started flashing at motorists — on personal orders of Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. A woman answering the telephone at the chancellor's public information department who refused to identify herself said she could not confirm the report."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:00:04 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tale of the tortoise and the hippo

A year after they first met, Owen, the baby hippo that survived last December's Tsunami, and Mzee, a 130-year-old tortoise are still best pals. They live together at the Haller Park preserve in Mombasa, Kenya. From Snopes.com:
 Photos Animals Graphics HippoBereaved by the forces of nature and discovered by wildlife rangers near certain death in the Indian Ocean off Malindi, the one-year-old male hippo calf dubbed Owen was on 27 December 2004 placed in Haller Park, a wildlife sanctuary in the coastal city of Mombassa, Kenya.

As soon as he was placed in his enclosure, the orphaned youngster immediately ran to the giant tortoise also housed in that space. The tortoise, named Mzee (Swahili for "old man") and estimated to be between 100 and 130 years old, was not immediately taken with the brash newcomer — he turned and hissed, forcing the hippo to back away. Yet Owen persisted in following the tortoise around the park (and even into a pool), and within days the pair had forged a friendship, eating and sleeping together. Owen has even been seen to lick the tortoise, whom he regards as his new mother. (Wildlife workers speculated that Owen may have been attracted to Mzee as a parental figure because the tortoise's shape and color are similar to those of an adult hippopotamus.) Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)
This week, children's book publisher Scholastic has announced the publication of a book based on their tale. "Owen and Mzee: the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" was co-written by Craig Hatkoff, his seven-year-old daughter Isabella, and Dr. Paula Kahumbo of Haller Park.

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:56:29 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Proud owner poses with GOATSE license plate

 Jpgs Goatse2Lucky recipient of GOATSE license plate shows it off.
Link (Goatse refers to a photo that will cause permanent brain damage if you look at it. Read about it here.)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:27:43 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mr Jalopy's love/hate relationship with the Complete New Yorker

Mr Jalopy says the New Yorker is "the finest magazine ever published." So you can bet he was excited when the New Yorker published the Complete New Yorker, an 8-DVD set containing scans of every issue of the New Yorker since the first issue in 1925, including even the ads.

When Mr Jalopy installed the application on his Macintosh, however, he was disappointed to discover that he had to frequently swap the discs. It ruined his reading experience. So he decided to copy all the discs to his hard drive. But the digital rights management woven into the software prevented him from doing that.

He asked readers of his blog, Hooptyrides, for suggestions on how to fix the problem. Plenty of smart people offered ideas, but nothing quite worked. Now Mr Jalopy is disgusted with the New Yorker for producing such an unnecessarily ugly product. His commentary about the New Yorker's foolish stance on copy protection (which, by the way, does nothing to prevent people from copying and pirating the discs, but makes it damn near impossible for the owner of the discs to copy them to his hard drive for legal personal use) makes for excellent reading.

 Blogger 350 520 1600 Picture-2.0 I am so profoundly disappointed. The New Yorker is in the business of selling magazines. Certainly, they make a few dollars off the Cartoon Bank and their various editorial compilations, but I would bet, that the overwhelming money comes from ad space. Perhaps I am wrong, but I doubt it. What are they afraid of? The 8 DVD's are going to be on P2P sites? The New Yorker is concerned that people will be downloading 60 GBs to read old Talk of the Town snippets? That high school kids are going to be trading them in the parking lot? They will be sold on street corners along with Harry Potter? Wouldn't this huge black market of Complete New Yorker piracy just create more demand for the magazine and more ad space dollars? It is fitting of a New Yorker cartoon!

I would be downloading all 60GBs, I am that devoted. But I don't have to because The Complete New Yorker is cheap, beautifully packaged and comes with a great highlights book. The scans are good, the software adequate, the extracts are decent so the searching really works, but I do revoke my recommendation that it is worth buying. You buy it, but you don't own it. Conde Nast still owns it. You can't use it in a fair, legal and sensible manner and you don't know that until you own it, as it doesn't have a sticker reading 'This DVD is Fucked.' It is not unreasonable to expect that consumers would choose to archive and eliminate the onerous disc swapping that is caused by being spread over 8 DVDs.

Mister Jalopy has four entries on his blog about this: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Reader comment: Glenn Fleishman says: "The Cartoon Bank almost certainly grosses between $4 million and $10 million a year, and produces a very fine net that may be in the millions. I wrote about the brilliant Bob Mankoff back in 1998 to 2001 in several articles across a few different publications. For instance, back six years ago, he told me that 'On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog' had netted the cartoonist $100,000 for his share. And that was six years ago. They don't release a lot of numbers, but I got some out of him, which is the basis for my wide range based on their projects since.

"In fact, I've argued elsewhere that when The New Yorker has been profitable, it's profit boost must be almost entirely attributable to The Cartoon Bank, which has extremely high margins as it's scaled up: they have a staff and a database, but much of the routine work happens during production of each magazine now that they've scanned all the cartoons in the back issues."

Reader comment: OM says: "That annoying 'disk swap' issue isn’t limited to the New Yorker collection. Pretty much any scanned magazine collection is set up along similar annoyances. Probably the most annoying example I have is the massive National Geographic set from 1998. Having ample hard drive space on my servers, it should have been an option to dump the entire contents on one hard drive for ease and speed of viewing. But nope, they’re afraid you’ll dump the whole thing on your hard drive and make a Ghost image to give to your friends. Which is basically what the NatGeo Society told everyone who bought the set and bitched about it – especially those who’re actually long-standing subscribing members! To be honest, the disk swapping was so damn annoying that I took the set back to the store I got it from – believe it or not, this place would take software returns on this package because a *LOT* of old NatGeo members had been screwed, and there’s nothing more irate than a bunch of senior citizens who’re worldly educated *and* have just gotten the shaft by an organization they’ve trusted for decades.

"You’d hope that other magazines would have learned from this lesson, but nope. They’ve been seduced by the demons known as 'BSA' and 'SPA' into believing that *everyone* is a pirate"

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:00:07 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

What 250 lbs of Silly Putty looks like

Clay Bavor, a product manager at Google, bought an eighth of a ton of Silly Putty and put it into one huge pile on his desk. After taking the photo above, he attempted to break the Silly Putty into chunks to distribute it to his friends. It wasn't as easy as he had hoped.
 Uploaded Images Putty Clay-738871The problem was that once together, Silly Putty doesn't like to come apart, and none of us had any idea of how to deal with this effect. We tried everything: very strong people (didn't work), scissors (stabbing worked, slicing didn't), 28-gauge steel wire (broke), 22-gauge steel wire (broke), 16-gauge steel wire (too thick), and twisting and breaking (worked well for "smaller" pieces -- under five pounds, that is.)
Link (via Neatorama)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:23:17 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mark on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" today at 12pm PT

I'll be on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," for a live, call-in talk program on the "Do It Yourself" culture. It's today at 3pm ET (noon PT). Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:51:03 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Syriana screenplay snippet reveals interesting edit (UPDATED)

Some Canadian guy I met in the elevator the other day sends this scan of a page from the original screenplay for Syriana, and says:

The line, as people have seen in the trailer and the movie, is "Corruption is why we win." This is a monologue about the virtues of corruption delivered by the actor Tim Blake Nelson, who plays an Oil industry lobbyist from the south named Danny Dalton, to Jeffrey Wright, an African-American corporate lawyer named Bennett Holiday.

One wonders why the writer/director Stephen Gaghan dropped the racist slur. Probably because it would further demonize a character who is already portrayed as amoral.

Link to full-size image of scanned page.

And if you haven't seen the film yet, you must. Link.

See also the related participate.net "Oil Change" website: Link, and this MP3 of a roundtable discussion with George Clooney, Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Siddig, See No Evil author Robert Baer, and writer/director Stephen Gaghan, interviewed by John Gallagher for the National Board of Review: Link.

Update: Warner Brothers has released the entire text of the Syriana screenplay online: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:26:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Comedy Central downs "Bloody Mary": South Park episode yanked

Daze of dazereader.com says,

Comedy Central might or might not have deleted the South Park episode "Bloody Mary" from tonight's schedule after protests from offended conservative Catholics.
In this season finale episode, which first aired on December 7, a local statue of the Virgin Mary bleeds from its ass. Townsfolk think it's a miracle. Emperor Palpatine Pope Benedict XVI visits to inspect the statue in person, determines that it is instead bleeding from its vagina, and declares: "A chick bleeding out her vagina is no miracle. Chicks bleed out their vaginas all the time." Link to DazeReader post with details.

Update: Confirmed -- the December 7 episode in question did not re-air last night.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:24:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Revamp of Gawker RSS reader Kinja launched

Gawker quietly released a new version of their RSS reader Kinja last week, with some handy new features -- most notably, site results returned as "cards." Link to Kinja home, and here's a sample search for BoingBoing.net.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:24:15 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Rural Studio's legacy: future-forward architecture in Alabama

Snip from NYT story:

Within minutes, I am standing in the Dollar General, on Tuscaloosa Street in Greensboro. Music Man has added a couple of bottles of cola and batteries for his remote control to his order. I pay the $7. It's a small price for the chance to see his house, which was designed by some of America's boldest young architects. As it turns out, Music Man gets so many visitors - architecture buffs who have seen his quirky domain in books and magazines - that he relies on them whenever he needs staples.

Music Man's house, with colorful glass embedded in concrete floors and shelves that move on skateboard wheels, is one of about 40 buildings conceived and built by the Rural Studio, an ever-changing troupe of architecture students who bring their tools, tenacity and talent to impoverished western Alabama. The 13-year-old program, under the auspices of Auburn University, is sometimes called the "redneck Taliesin."

Link. Image: The Antioch Baptist Church, constructed from new metal and old wood. Photo: Timothy Hursley, from the book Proceed and Be Bold.

Reader comment: Mark Eckenwiler says,

The truly underappreciated National Building Museum here in DC (in the kickass historic Pension Bureau building) had an exhibition about Mockbee's work last year: Link.

Also worth seeing - and open until January 29 - is the Liquid Stone exhibit that gives you reason to think that most concrete architecture is ugly because of the people who design and build it, not because of the material itself: Link.

NBM is one of those gems that most DC visitors have never heard of and thus never see. Xeni's followers should not make the same mistake.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:23:25 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Eyeing web tracking bugs at Whitehouse.gov

Yum, tasty gubmint cookies! On the EPIC_IDOF mailing list, Richard M. Smith says,
The Whitehouse.gov Web site is bugged! Apparently the Webmaster for the site has hired Webtrends to track visitors around the site using Web bugs and permanent cookies. Here's the Web bug that I found on the home page of the Whitehouse.gov Web site (...) Similar Web bugs can be found on other Web pages at the Whitehouse Web site.

Before 9/11, the Clinton administration said this kind of Web tracking is a no-no for U.S. government Web sites [Link]. Because of the unique laws and traditions about government access to citizens' personal information, the presumption should be that "cookies" will not be used at Federal web sites. Under this new Federal policy, "cookies" should not be used at Federal web sites, or by contractors when operating web sites on behalf of agencies, unless, in addition to clear and conspicuous notice, the following conditions are met: a compelling need to gather the data on the site.

Via Bruce Sterling.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:22:10 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xeni on CNN: 2005's top tech stories, why they matter for 2006

I'll be host Kristie LuStout's guest on CNN International at 345PM PT/645PM ET today for a look back at the top tech news stories of 2005. Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:03:16 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

DIY self-RFID-chipping HOWTO, Wed. Jan 4 at Dorkbot in NYC

Mikey Sklar installed a $2 RFID tag in his left hand. Why the hell did he do it? How can you cram an RFID under your own skin for fun and profit? How ever does one choose the right tag to subcutaneously implant, and what other crazy hacking hijinks are others exploring with RFIDS?

Show up at the next New York City Dorkbot meeting -- next Wednesday, January 4th at Location One gallery in SoHo, 7pm -- and find out.
Link to event info, Link to "Chipped," the project website for Mikey's RFID implant project.

Reader comment: Shannon says,

This appears to be a precursor of Mikey Sklar's project.

Reader comment: Nick says,

Suprised you've had this article up without someone mentioning Captain Cyborg himself, Kevin Warwick. This is a link to the details of one of his experiments with surgically implanted transponders, from 2002 (there was an earlier 1999 experiment as well).
Reader comment: Eliot Phillips from hackaday.com says,
Mikey sent me this link the last time he had a project at Dorkbot: replacing the pockets in his pants with conductive fabric to block RFID. A nice cozy place to keep your newly insecure hands.
Reader comment: Lia says,
My grad school classmate Meghan Trainor's thesis With Hidden Numbers had her embedding a rfid tag in her arm as well as in a bunch of handmade objects to trigger samples from an audio database when scanned. ITP's site is down right now but you can read more about it on her thesis blog or We Make Money Not Art.
Reader comment: Shawn says,
Human implantable RFID tags are already in commercial use (approved by FDA and all that): Link. I stumbled across it when looking for some RFID stuff for a house I'm building.
Reader comment: Jonny Goldstein says,
In this interview, Mikey describes the process of getting getting an RFID tag implanted into his hand. Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:26:50 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"DHS / Little Red Book" - why is Standard-Times protecting liar?

On Romenesko, Rogers Cadenhead asks why we've seen no apologies from the newspaper responsible for the erroneous story about a student claiming to have been interrogated by DHS agents over Mao's "Little Red Book."
At what point does a newspaper find sufficient cause to break a confidentiality agreement? The 22-year-old student knowingly lied to the newspaper and harmed its reputation across the entire planet.
Link to post, and here is previous coverage on Boing Boing.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:12:21 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Pentagon fails to ban slavery by defense contractors

Snip from Chicago Tribune article:
Three years ago, President Bush declared that he had "zero tolerance" for trafficking in humans by the government's overseas contractors, and two years ago Congress mandated a similar policy. But notwithstanding the president's statement and the congressional edict, the Defense Department has yet to adopt a policy to bar human trafficking.

A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records.

The lobbying groups opposing the plan say they're in favor of the idea in principle, but said they believe that implementing key portions of it overseas is unrealistic. They represent thousands of firms, including some of the industry's biggest names, such as DynCorp International and Halliburton subsidiary KBR, both of which have been linked to trafficking-related concerns.

Link (Thanks, Greg, and Dayle)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:59:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

US Islamic group files FOIA request on radiation monitoring

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a DC-based civil rights group, today announced the filing of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for "government records relating to a secret government program that monitored the radiation levels at more than 100 Muslim homes, businesses and mosques in the capital region and in other areas nationwide." Link to related U.S. News & World Report story, "Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Warrants." Link to related NYT story, "Widespread Radioactivity Monitoring Is Confirmed."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:28:00 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Combat Hummer Limos enter Air Force war games

Noah of Defensetech says,
The next wave of Army fighting vehicles are still on the drawing board. So, in the meantime, Boeing is outfitting 34 commercially produced limousine-style Hummers with radios and computer networking equipment to stand in for the vehicles during some upcoming war games.
Link to Defensetech news roundup.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:19:52 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Saudi scholars issue fatwa on SMS voting for TV talent show

Saudi mobile service provider Mobily blocked SMS voting for the "Star Academy" competition on Monday, following an Islamic decree that the Arab talent show was immoral. Snip from Reuters report:
Saudi religious scholars last May condemned the hugely popular talent show aired by Lebanese channel LBC as a crime against Islam when a young Saudi returned to a hero's welcome after winning in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

"The decision was taken last night because of a fatwa (religious decree) issued last year, since the program is culturally inappropriate," spokesman Humoud Alghodaini said.

Link (via unwired, thanks, Ori Neidich!)

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

New weblog from Backyard Ballistics author

 Blogger 6106 1995 1600 John-Dyer-With-CoilWilliam Gurstelle, a frequent contributor to Make and the author of several books, including the wonderful Backyard Ballistics, has launched a new weblog in conjunction with his latest book, Adventures from the Technology Underground: Catapults, Pulsejets, Rail Guns, Flamethrowers, Tesla Coils, Air Cannons, and the Garage Warriors Who Love Them. He's already covered "art bombs" (I love that term), levitating frogs, High voltage hobbyists (such as John Dyer, shown here [thanks, Patrick!]), and colorful chemistry shows. This blog has earned an immediate addition to my RSS reader.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:48:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photographer arrested is chided for not warning pothole victim

A photographer in China was accused of lying in wait to take these pictures of a poor guy riding his bike into a pothole.
 Images Web 277699Readers of the Beijing Youth Daily, which published the shots, wrote in to express their feelings.

One wrote: "The pictures are well shot, but the person who shot this is disgusting. He knew there was a pit, but was waiting there for someone to fall over."

Liu defended himself, saying: "I just knew that the city government has paved the pit, and without my pictures, the pit would not be noticed by the government, and there would perhaps be more people falling over."


Reader comment: Mike says: "In kindergarten (mid-1970s) we saw a short cartoon called 'The Rock in the Road.' The storyline was remarkably similar, but each time a character tripped over the title rock, he waited along with all the prior victims to watch the next guy. Hilarity ensues, lather, rinse, repeat. I don't remember whether this was supposed to teach us a lesson, or just amuse us before nap time. I can't find anything about the cartoon on Google; I'd love to see it again."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:39:32 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

RIP Vincent Schiavelli, 1948-2005

One of my favorite character actors, Vincent Schiavelli, died on Monday of lung cancer. with an unforgettably unique mug, Schiavelli appeared as all manner of misfit in films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ghost, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He was also an accomplished cooking writer, which I didn't know until I read his obit. Link

Reader comment: M says: "That's so strange he was recently in LA! I spoke to Mr. Schiavelli on 10/04/2005, At around 7:12 p.m. The reason I know this precise information is that we spoke while he and a woman were shopping at California Surplus Mart on Santa Monica Blvd., here in LA (time and date stamp on my receipt). We were both trying on pants and they only have a few dressing rooms. So we had some time to talk. His voice was very hushed and quite strained. I remember that the salesman told Mr. Schiavelli that he would be happy to call him when the other jeans came in, and I heard Mr. Schiavelli reply, 'That's OK, were from out of town.' I found the response rather odd and so did the salesman, I chalked it up to a older famous person not wanting to be bothered, but I guess he really did live out of town."

Reader comment: Stefan says: "Schiavelli was an occasional caller to the public radio (American Public Media) cooking show 'The Splendid Table.' I recall the host having to explain who this animated and enthusiastic fellow was; it was quite a surprise when I realized who she was talking about.

"This morning's tribute on 'Morning Edition' includes some brief audio of Schiavelli talking about his cooking."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:03:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cabbage-based stink bomb sickens shoppers in Russian department store

Seventy-eight people went to the hospital after being exposed to a stink bomb set off in a St. Petersburg department store. Officials think the bomb, which consisted of glass vials containing rotten-cabbage-scented methyl mercaptan, was planted by a competing department store.
Employees at the branch where people were sickened said they heard a noise like a clap or pop before people smelled a garlicky odour and began to feel ill. Police called to the scene found a mechanism with a timer attached to shattered ampoules, and patients complained of nausea and vomiting, Stepchenko said.

He said a custodian at another branch discovered a suspicious box before opening time and found ampoules attached to wires and a timer inside. The woman inadvertently broke one of the ampoules and noticed a repulsive smell but was not sickened, he said.


Reader comment: Robert says: "Methyl mercaptan smells like, but does not come from, rotten cabbage.

"Calling it 'rotten-cabbage-scented' is a little more accurate, but suggests that the scent was added after the fact, while in actuality, stench is a property of the mercaptan itself.

"In case you weren't aware, methyl mercaptan is commonly used as an odorant in natural gas, the better to detect leaks at very low concentrations."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:17:27 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

YASGL (Yet Another Sexy Geeks List for 2005)

Wired News has compiled a list of carbon-based lifeforms who tip the hot-ometer reading to "circuit overload." This list of 2005's top ten sexiest geeks includes podcaster Violet Blue, publisher Nick Denton, and -- my heart be still! -- "Judge John Jones III, because talking intelligently about intelligent design is very hot." Link.

Previously on Boing Boing: Top Ten Sexiest Geeks for 2005

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:44:00 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xeni on NPR: Warner/Chappell vs. Pearlyrics

Today's edition of the NPR News program "Day to Day" includes a report I filed on the music industry's war against an iTunes helper app that searches the 'net for lyrics to songs while you play them.

Earlier this month, Warner/Chappell sent a harshly-worded lawyergram to the Austrian developer who wrote PearLyrics, threatening legal action if he didn't remove the software from distribution. Apple was cc'd, too, and they promptly yanked links to the app from apple.com. After the EFF's Fred Von Lohmann distributed an open letter taking Warner/Chappell to task, the music publisher issued an apology of sorts -- but PearLyrics remains offline, the chilling effect is still real, and music publishers are preparing a new legal assault on lyrics websites in January.

Link to segment, Link to Day to Day website, archived audio online after 12PM PT/3PM ET. Previous "Xeni Tech" segments on NPR here.

See also this related report filed for Wired News. Previous posts on Boing Boing about the PearLyrics debacle: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:29:47 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Kill-A-Watt electrical usage meter

In Kevin Kelly's "Cool Tools" newsletter, Curt Nelson says:
My electric bills are killing me, and now I can finally figure out exactly why.

The Kill-A-Watt plugs into a wall outlet and will measure the actual electricity usage of any appliance. I've been wanting one of these things for years, to the point of seriously considering manufacturing one myself. I'm glad someone has finally done it for me. It looks like my computer costs me something like $216 a year to run. Trouble is, I have five of them. Something's gotta go.

Street price for this device is about $30. I should save that much in the first month.

An additional idea that I thought of would be combining these units with that cheesy home-network technology that communicates via your home's electrical system. (Or use WiFi) That way several wall units could communicate with a PC and give you a running total of your energy consumption. The system could automatically retrieve your electrical rates from the Internet and even give you a running total in dollars of what you're spending.

Link, manufactured by p3international.com.

Reader comment: Dom Padden says,

We have a device in Australia called the Cent-a-meter that measures your whole household electrical consumption in real time -- not weeks later when you get a bill. Mine paid for itself immediately. I just bought it and placed it on the kitchen counter. The other people in my house took interest, calculated the cost of every appliance in the house (by elimination) and changed their habits. Our computers are surprisingly inexpensive to run but the whole TV-DVD-VCR stack gets turned off at the switch every night now, and the coffee machine is not turned on 24/7.
Reader comment: Rob Henderson says,
The Watts-Up meter from Electronic Educational Devices is similar to the Kill-A-Watt, but includes data logging and a serial interface. Link
Reader comment: angrygoatface says,
That Kill-a-watt that you mentioned in the update today -- it's commonly used by techies to measure the usage of power supplies. As a general rule, the higher the wattage and the lower the useage, the better the power supply's efficiency.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:05:45 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Monday, December 26, 2005

2005 Foot-In-Mouth Awards

Can you remember who uttered of each of the following utterly idiotic tech-related utterances in 2005?
# "Lightweight, and crank it on, and you shuffle the shuffle."

# "I know what I don't know, and to this day I don't know technology and I don't know accounting and finance."

# "Screw the nano."

# "I'm going to fucking kill Google."

Link to Wired News story, with answers -- and more "2005 Foot-In-Mouth Awards" winners.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:58:38 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Building rooftop roller coaster being built in downtown Tokyo

Picture 10-3 "During our stay in Tokyo we climbed the 234m high Mori Tower on Roppongi Hills. From this spectacular view I suddenly noticed a department store ('Don Quixote') was having a rollercoaster built on their rooftop!

I did some googling and found that it might be starting to run by end of January 2006."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:08:49 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Video of extremely flexible woman

Picture 9-4 The woman dancing in this video is as limber as a wet noodle.
Link (thanks, Swami Chindeep Sheepdip!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:05:00 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Fear destroys what bin Laden could not

Robert Steinback of the Miami Herald wrote a stirring column about the Bush administration's horribly wrongheaded response to the tragedy of 9/11/
President Bush recently confirmed that he has authorized wiretaps against U.S. citizens on at least 30 occasions and said he'll continue doing it. His justification? He, as president -- or is that king? -- has a right to disregard any law, constitutional tenet or congressional mandate to protect the American people.

Is that America's highest goal -- preventing another terrorist attack? Are there no principles of law and liberty more important than this? Who would have remembered Patrick Henry had he written, "What's wrong with giving up a little liberty if it protects me from death?"


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:35:17 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"You've got indictment!" Korea to get legal notices by SMS

In the new year, prosecutors in South Korea will begin issuing indictments via text message. This would be handy in DC, too -- but only if our congresscritters were smart enough to figure out how to use the SMS feature on their mobile phones. Snip:
In a country where about 75 percent of the population carries mobile phones, prosecutors felt it was time to move away from sending legal notices on paper and send them electronically instead, said Lee Young- pyo, an administrative official.

"Most people in South Korea have mobile phones and since the notices don't reach them immediately by regular mail, this is a more definite way for the individuals to know they have received a legal notice," Lee said.

Link (Thanks, Hal Bringman!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:43:16 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Chaos Computer Club hacker con begins in Berlin

Jacob Appelbaum says,
On Tuesday, the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress begins -- it runs from December 27th to the 30th, and takes place at the Berliner Congress Center in Alexander Platz in Berlin. Joi Ito is giving the keynote (Link). I'm also speaking (Link). If you're in Berlin and you're interested in society, technology, the past, present or future, this is the place to be!
Link to event info.

Photo: outside the Chaos con (also known as 22c3) in Berlin, shot by Jacob. Flickr tags for more of his photos from the event: 22c3 and ccc.

Reader comment: Cory Ondrejka says,

I'll be speaking at 22c3 as well (Link). Should be an amazing conference, plus I'll be living on the bleeding edge with the first public demo of the Second Life client running on Linux.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:20:54 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Canadians: ballot-eating during Federal elections is a crime!

Well, this is what happens when your country prints its election ballots on delicious smoked bacon. Boing Boing reader Dave says,
While looking for advanced polling information for the Canadian federal election in January, I stumbled upon this question on the Elections Canada FAQ page. Not yet able to find the penalty for such an offense, but will keep looking.
Snip from election code law:
Q: Is someone allowed to eat a ballot?
A: Eating a ballot, not returning it or otherwise destroying or defacing it constitutes a serious breach of the Canada Elections Act.

Reader comment: Martin says,

Both incidences of ballot-eating happened in Alberta, where many of us are disheartened by how all but one or two of the province's twenty-eight ridings are easily won by the Conservatives in every federal election. Link to news report about the "Edible Ballot Society" in the 2000 election.
(Thanks, Roy!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:56:05 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Profile of NSA "listening post" for communications spying

Snip from NYT story by James Bamford:

Deep in a remote, fog-layered hollow near Sugar Grove, W.Va., hidden by fortress-like mountains, sits the country's largest eavesdropping bug. Located in a "radio quiet" zone, the station's large parabolic dishes secretly and silently sweep in millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour.

Run by the ultrasecret National Security Agency, the listening post intercepts all international communications entering the eastern United States. Another N.S.A. listening post, in Yakima,Wash., eavesdrops on the western half of the country.

A hundred miles or so north of Sugar Grove, in Washington, the N.S.A. has suddenly taken center stage in a political firestorm. The controversy over whether the president broke the law when he secretly ordered the N.S.A. to bypass a special court and conduct warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens has even provoked some Democrats to call for his impeachment.


Above, a photo snipped from this related item on John Young's Cryptome today: Eyeballing Sugar Grove Echelon Station, with satellite photos and maps of the site profiled in the NYT piece.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:09:39 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Net porn addiction therapy site offers unintended irony

This Christian porn addiction program requires a fee before you get details on how each "leg" of therapy works, but "leg titles" include: "MASTERING MASTURBATION," "DEBUGGING DISTORTED THOUGHTS," and "FANTASY CONTAMINATION."

If "the computer desk or use area is becoming eroticized as an associated part of the ritual that you have grown to look forward to," this brain-cleansing program may hit the spot.

Questions like "Can I do one leg at a time?" are answered (their words, not mine), but one mystery remains: why is the dude in that header image wearing what looks like protective beekeper headgear? Surely there's a fetish site for that. Link (Thanks, Nihar P.!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:08:00 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Walgreens demands personal data for photo processing?

Boing Boing reader Andrew Kantor says,
We bumped into a rather surprising policy at Walgreens. Apparently, to get the photos you print from the stores' self-serve kiosks, you must provide your name, address, and phone number. You take your photos with you, so they can't claim to be doing it for "safety" reasons. So WTF?

Reader comment: David says,

I worked in the photo lab at a Best Buy this past summer, and our self-serve kiosks also asked for name, number, address, and maybe email address. The machines themselves would force you to enter something for name and phone number, but the rest you could leave blank. I can't speak for Walgreens, or the people who designed the photo labs for best buy, but the only use for the name and phone number I ever had was to be sure I give the photos to the correct person. Maybe they would have been used differently if someone gave pictures I wasn't allowed to print (penetration), but I never had that problem.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:03:18 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

World Pyro Olympics

The World Pyro Olympics, an annual competition for fireworks professionals, begins today in the Philippines. Link (Thanks, Max)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:00:15 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sony store still selling rootkit CDs

Snipped from a reader testimony on Consumerist:
I just got back from the Sony Style store in the Westchester mall, (White Plains, NY) and I saw that the had many CDs in the shelves that had the XCP rootkits. I asked the manager about this and they said they were, and I quote, “still allowed to sell them”.
Link (Thanks, Dan).

Previous Sony rootkit debacle coverage on Boing Boing: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:22:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tsunami bloggers call for "remembrance week," online aid

The people behind the South East Asian Earthquake And Tsunami blog, wiki and database are calling attention to the fates of those affected by the disaster that hit one year ago today. Link (Thanks, Bala Pitchandi)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:29:25 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Loren Coleman's Top Cryptozoology Stories of 2005

Over at Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman has posted his list of the "Top Cryptozoology Stories Of 2005." Thanks to Loren, many of these cryptozoological events are familiar to regular BB readers. It was certainly a great year for high weirdness and strange animals. Below are the headlines. Follow the link for Loren's analysis.
1. The Rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker
2. Filming of the First Live Giant Squid
3. New Homo floresiensis Discoveries
4. New Animal Discovered in Borneo
5. First Cryptozoology and Art Symposium at Bates College
6. Bobby Clarke's Manitoba Bigfoot Video
7. Bigfoot Bounty
8. Mystery Photos of Cryptid Felids and Fish
9. Disney Yeti Expedition
10. The Laotian Rock Rat is Discovered at a Meat Market

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:17:06 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"A Human Package", by Jasmina Tesanovic

Excerpt from "A Human Package," written by Jasmina Tesanovic in Belgrade this week:

I hail a cab. It is snowing and gloomy, Friday 23 December. People in Belgrade are already hysterical because of the New Year holidays.

Please hurry to the special court, ex military court. Do you know where it is? Of course Madame I know, it is a very famous place these days, it is round the corner, you don't need a cab really.

True, the military court is an old renovated building for new war crimes, a monument to the last wars, my friend Stasa says. It's much fancier than The Hague court room. In my street live some war criminals, so no wonder they made their court there.

We Women in Black are official NGO onlookers. We enter the building with Natasa Kandic, the woman most hated by nationalists in Serbia, Natasa Kandic the representative of the victims and a human rights lawyer, plus the family members themselves: 15 women, all in all.

This is the last day of the first round of the trial of the Scorpions, the paramilitary formation which executed 6 Muslim war prisoners in the days of Srebrenica. During this mass murder of the Muslims, the Scorpions unwisely filmed their own crime. Last July, this video document was screened in The Hague during the Milosevic trial, and then all over the Serbian and international media. Some family saw the faces of their missing for the first time.

Now we see the faces of the arrested executioners. One young woman, a victim's relative says; it is so relieving to see their faces, so soothing, to see who killed your loved one, to see if he is a human, and to hear him speak for himself. It is so important to start making a difference between those who did the crime and those who didn't.

Link to full text.

Previous Boing Boing posts on Jasmina Tesanovic -- filmmaker, author, and most recently, Mrs. Bruce Sterling: Link. She can be reached at email (politicalidiot - at - yahoo.com).

Photo: "Snowed," a snapshot of Belgrade by Flickr user Aleksandar Vacic.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:17:43 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Katrina: December wedding in Pearlington, Miss.

Photographer Clayton James Cubitt points us to photos and an essay documenting the wedding of two Katrina survivors in Mississipppi. "These Habitat for Humanity volunteers have been getting no media love and they're doing such amazing things," says Clayton, "Basically, a small chapter from Walton County Florida has adopted Hancock County, MS, without any support from habitat International."

Snip from account by Lynn Nesmith:

"Everyone knows I'm always late for everything," confesses Suzie Burton. "All my friends and family laugh that I'll be late for my own funeral. But if the good Lord is willing, I'll be on time for my wedding."

Willing or not, Suzie was late for her nuptials to Josh Ward on December 21. In the aftermath of Katrina, an hour or so delay barely fazed the more than 60 friends and family who gathered in Pearlington for the wedding. The delay was maybe divine intervention. As the bride dressed for her big day, dozens of volunteers from Walton County put finishing touches on the couple's new house.

Link. Image: Miss Suzie and Mr Josh.

Reader comment: Ben Yaffe says,

"There was a great feature on the town following Katrina on 'This American Life': Link."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:09:20 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

The Ghosts of Internet Time

“This is the Ghost of Internet Past,” wrote my mysterious correspondent. “NSA, poppy, Castro. I shall show you the Internet in its glorious early days. Tools were clunky back then, but we all studied a bit and learned to understand the medium we were using; and such a wonderful community we built online!”

I remembered what the ghost was talking about. True, 99% of all newsgroups degenerated into philosophical spats between leftists and libertarians, and three-quarters of all the alerts circulated had been hoaxes, but we still exploited the incredible power of instant worldwide diffusion to carry out some impressive campaigns. Lotus was a pretty big company when an Internet protest made it withdraw its database product on consumer spending.

“Look, Andy, you were more idealistic then too,” admonished the ghost. “It’s been years since you contributed to free software projects. Look at the dates on these files.” A stream of file names, dates, and sizes dribbled down my scream.

I squinted at the vaguely familiar output format. “Yeah, those dates are old. Where did you dig up that list?”

“Archie,” typed the ghost.

Link to "The Ghosts of Internet Time," by Andy Oram, 1999

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:04:16 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Dirty holiday podcast from Violet Blue

Not so much a war on Christmas, as subversion from within. 30 MB of "hot holiday smut" in this week's edition of author and blogger Violet Blue's "Open Source Sex" podcast. Details, and download link. NSFW, sexually explicit.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:59:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Saturday, December 24, 2005

NSA's domestic data-mining ops gathered vast troves of info

A New York Times story today reports that as part of the Bush-approved domestic spying program, the NSA traced and analyzed far more data from phone and internet communications than previously thought. Snip:
As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.

The government's collection and analysis of phone and Internet traffic have raised questions among some law enforcement and judicial officials familiar with the program. One issue of concern to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has reviewed some separate warrant applications growing out of the N.S.A.'s surveillance program, is whether the court has legal authority over calls outside the United States that happen to pass through American-based telephonic "switches," according to officials familiar with the matter.

(...) Several officials said that after President Bush's order authorizing the N.S.A. program, senior government officials arranged with officials of some of the nation's largest telecommunications companies to gain access to switches that act as gateways at the borders between the United States' communications networks and international networks. The identities of the corporations involved could not be determined.

The switches are some of the main arteries for moving voice and some Internet traffic into and out of the United States, and, with the globalization of the telecommunications industry in recent years, many international-to-international calls are also routed through such American switches.

One outside expert on communications privacy who previously worked at the N.S.A. said that to exploit its technological capabilities, the American government had in the last few years been quietly encouraging the telecommunications industry to increase the amount of international traffic that is routed through American-based switches.


Previously on Boing Boing:

NSA spies on US: calls, emails intercepted without warrants

Experiment to see if your mail is being tapped by the gov't

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:14:28 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

HOAX: "Little Red Book prompts DHS visit" was Big Fat Lie

Suspicions confirmed: The U. Mass student who said he was visited by DHS agents after requesting a copy of Mao's "Little Red Book" made the whole thing up.
[Y]esterday, the student confessed that he had made it up after being confronted by the professor who had repeated the story to a Standard-Times reporter.

The professor, Brian Glyn Williams, said he went to his former student's house and asked about inconsistencies in his story. The 22-year-old student admitted it was a hoax, Williams said.

''I made it up," the professor recalled him saying. ''I'm sorry. . . . I'm so relieved that it's over."

Link to Boston Globe report, and link to a followup story in South Coast Today. (Thanks, Wesley, and many others)

Hey comrades, this calls for a little happy fun moment of Chairman Mao Quote Zen!

From the so-called Little Red Book:

"Say all you know and say it without reserve", "Blame not the speaker but be warned by his words" and "Correct mistakes if you have committed them and guard against them if you have not" - this is the only effective way to prevent all kinds of political dust and germs from contaminating the minds of our comrades and the body of our Blog Party."
Previous Boing Boing posts on the hoax debate: Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:36:11 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mister Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy AIM icons

Following up on previous posts about the internet outfreakage over an SNL short produced by a group of Creative Commons lovin' comedians, Boing Boing reader Ian says:

Saw the shirt, got inspired. Fired up iTunes and took screen grabs, and popped into Photoshop to have a little fun. If any other BoingBoingers who want a Crazy Awesome userpic/avatar, head on over and get it.

Chronic-WHAT?-cles of Narnia t-shirt; free iTunes video

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:00:45 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

111 Creative Commons Christmas Songs

Uwe Hermann says,
Here's a list of 111 songs which are all explicitly released under a Creative Commons license (no, I did not consider songs which are merely "podsafe"!) and thus can be shared, listened to, and sometimes even modified freely. There's a great variety in style, mood, and genre of the songs: some traditional, some contemporary, some happy, some sad, and some just plain funny.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:11:34 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Friday, December 23, 2005

Experiment to see if your mail is being tapped by the gov't

Richard M. Smith of ComputerBytesMan has come up with a "quick and easy method to see if one's email messages are being read by someone else."
1. Set up a Hotmail account.

2. Set up a second email account with a non-U.S. provider. (eg. Rediffmail.com)

3. Send messages between the two accounts which might be interesting to the NSA.

4. In each message, include a unique URL to a Web server that you have access to its server logs. This URL should only be known by you and not linked to from any other Web page. The text of the message should encourage an NSA monitor to visit the URL.

5. If the server log file ever shows this URL being accessed, then you know that you are being snooped on. The IP address of the access can also provide clues about who is doing the snooping.

The trick is to make the link enticing enough for someone or something to want to click on it. As part of a large-scale research project, I would suggest sending out a few hundred thousand messages using various tricks to find one that might work.

As Dave Farber notes: "It is not a good idea to try this if you hope to ever again fly on an American airline without first being strip-searched by the TSA monkeys." Link

Reader comment: Philipp says: "I think to make this experiment really fool-proof, one would need to set up a button on the page which is linked to from the email. The button needs to be called 'Enter' or similar, and only when it is pressed is there suspicious government activity -- because with just a simple 'GET' URL, an automated spider started by the email program (for whatever reasons, e.g. to add pages to the index or look for a virus) might fetch it. A 'POST' button however is not pressed by crawlers."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:26:37 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Restaurant in Xi'an, China sells food that does not appeal to me

Picture 8-3 "Fish Head Casserole." "Nurtritious Beef Penis in Pot." "Nutritious Young Pigeon Casserole." If a gun were held to my head, I'd order the pigeon, but I'd rather take my changes with the Hai San Xian Casserole.

Reader comment: M Otis Beard says: "I live in China... 'Hai San Xian Casserole' is made with shitty Chinese sausage (you don't want to go there), pig's organs (heart, tongue, possibly kidney), assorted vegetables, and occasionally some (tiny tiny dehydrated, not fresh) shrimp.

"The pigeon really isn't all that bad.

"What is MUCH MUCH WORSE is the practice of oil reclamation in Chinese restaurants. If you order a bunch of dishes (which is typically how Chinese people eat) but don't eat everything, your leavings will usually end up in a big bucket, which is later collected by a worker. Your leftovers either go to make pig swill, or (far too often) the uneaten food has the oil extracted from it, and this oil is then sold to restaurants at a much cheaper price than good fresh store-bought oil goes for. Not every restaurant does this, but it isn't at all uncommon."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:28:30 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

eBoy does Cologne poster

 Www.Copx.De Sess Utn1543Ac41B60A3C7 Shopdata Img2 Koelnposter The mind-bogglingly talented artists at eBoy created this beautiful poster for the city of Cologne. I bought the one for London, which is fantastic, also.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:34:50 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Oakland Trib: send us your used "1984" books for lawmakers

Snip from an editorial in the Oakland Tribune:
Bush is unapologetic. The president believes he has the legal authority to spy on American citizens without a warrant, and he plans to continue to reauthorize the program "for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens." But when the enemy is poorly defined, who determines when the threat is over? In this case, the same government that secretly taps our phones.

Turns out the truth is no stranger than fiction. We think it's time for Congress to heed the warning of George Orwell. To that end, we're asking for your help: Mail us or drop off your tattered copies of "1984." When we get 537 of them, we'll send them to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate and to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Feel free to inscribe the book with a note, reminding these fine people that we Americans take the threat to our liberties seriously. Remind Congress that it makes no sense to fight a war for democracy in a foreign land while allowing our democratic principles to erode at home.

Remind President Bush that ours is a country of checks and balances, not unbridled power. Perhaps our nation's leaders can find some truth in this fiction and more carefully ponder the road we're traveling.

Link. Bring or mail used copies of 1984 to the Oakland Tribune, 401 13th St., Oakland CA 94612. They're open from 8 am to 5 pm. (via Romenesko)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:52:34 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Correction to story about Staples processing fees

Mylissa Tsai, the program manager for public relations at Staples emailed the following to us today: "As a frequent reader of BoingBoing, I wanted to make sure to reach out to you and your readers regarding your post this week, "Staples Charges for 'virus scanning'".

We wanted to make sure that the blogosphere and our customers have the most accurate information about the company. Below I have included some information from our Vice President of Business Services, Rob Schlacter which should help your readers. I'd like to ask if you can post our enclosed comments."

$2.49 Raster Image Processing Service Charge Ensures First Generation Digital Output; Virus Scanning Claim Is Inaccurate

I understand how customers can be upset by inaccurate information. Let me clarify. At Staples, our commitment is to deliver quality work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The $2.49 charge is a "Raster Image Processing" fee; it is not a virus scanning fee. This is used industry wide and retailers often charge it as an additional fee or include it in the overall printout cost.

As we have added expanded media acceptance to our service capability, many customers bring multiple file types using different software applications. The Raster Image Processing process is a part of Staples Copy and Print Centers production standards, ensuring first generation, high quality output to our digital copiers. As technology improves and the industry implements new processes, we will continue to evaluate our service level fees just as we do our everyday retail pricing.

We also understand that customers are getting more tech-savvy. So, stay tuned on how Staples can provide easier solutions like a free file conversion software package coming soon to stores next spring.

Thank you for your continued patronage at Staples. Feel free to reach out to any store manager with questions or customerrelations@staples.com

Rob Schlacter

Vice President of Business Services, Staples Inc.

Reader comment: Anonymous says: "I am a Staples Copy Center Expert (means I run the copy department at my store). That 'raster image processing' thing consists of conversion to Adobe PDF, nothing more, nothing less. My managers seem to be under the impression that doing this will preserve the customer's original fonts and formatting, because I can't explain to them that that would only work if the customer converted the file to PDF on THEIR end. I usually represent the fee as being for 'setup,' because - in all fairness - our print drivers are really, really complicated; you can't just hit Ctrl+P and get what you want. I think $2.49 is a bit on the outlandishly high side - I'd be in favor of lowering it to $.99 or something - but I don't make the rules. We don't even have a virus scanning program *available to us* on the computer - I think it auto-scans, but the computers are so locked-down that we can't actively scan anything, as that program is not made available for us lowly employees to even *open*, much less operate. I have no idea what the person who said it was a 'virus scanning fee' was smoking."

Reader comment: Fishcake says: "It's nice to know the fee is not for virus scanning. If the fee is for file format conversion, the obvious question for Staples is: why don't you tell your customers what format to save their files as, so they can avoid a huge fee? You could even include specific parameters. Not everybody will want to bother, but those of us with acrobat or whatever are already paying for the ability to save our works in many different formats. At least give us a reduced fee."

Reader comment: Nate MC says: "I was using Staples almost weekly because the woman at the copy center was very cute and she never mentioned a fee. A month later I had a different person help me out and he didn't even tell me about the fee until he made the copies. I was able to get him to waive it and he said that some people don't charge for it and it was optional. I made a point to tell him that it's a pretty big fee to sometimes have to pay and sometimes not based on who is working, but it was the last time I ever used them to make my copies.

"I always saved my documents as a PDF to help them out as I used to work in a press related industry and understand the importance of correct file formats. FedEx Kinkos & OfficeMax have never charged me a fee for bringing them PDFs on disk.

"Vote with your wallets, if you stop using them they will stop charging the fee."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:23:11 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Funny music video using Creative Commons Flickr photos

John Hodgman let me know about "this incredible ode to creative commons from Jonathan Coulton." It is one funny video! Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:02:38 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

More Boing Boing readers use Firefox than IE or other browsers

Well this is a surprise: a quick glance at Boing Boing's December site stats reveals that more of our visitors now use Firefox than any other web browser, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Browser breakdown for the top three contenders:
Firefox -- 43 %
MS Internet Explorer-- 32.1 %
Safari -- 11.3 %

Reader comment: Eddie S. says,

BoingBoing was at one time included in the Firefox bookmarks as one of the "Crew Picks" - This is how I (as a Firefox user) come across BoingBoing. :-)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:50:27 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Ze Frank holiday MP3: Santa Ain't Fat

...he's just big-boned. MP3 Link to a little tune Ze Frank made for the holidays.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:15:30 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Portable Yule Log: mobile video

Boing Boing reader m0nk3y says,
WGN TV in Chicago traditionally broadcasts the video Yule Log. This year, along with an online version, they've become even more tech-savvy by offering a downloadable version for the iPod video. Warm and fuzzy yuletide-ness to go!

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:03:10 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Ultima V: fan remake of classic RPG launches after 5 dev years

Boing Boing reader Gil says,
Ultima V is back, guys. The 1988 retro classic RPG Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny has been remade, being released for free this Christmas 2005.

It's been FIVE YEARS in the making, an up-from-the-ground fan-made remake of the original using the Dungeon Siege engine (required to play: last seen on Amazon has it for under $10 USD), with all the modern bells and whistles: 3D graphics; all the original tunes re-mastered; every single character in the entire game re-written; and of course, a vast and challenging world to explore.

It's available for Windows and Mac, and is also being released in French & German. A first game for under ten bucks. Anyone who owned an Apple ][e, or a Commodore 64 or an early PC remembers the Ultima series of tile graphics RPGs, known for their in-depth plots and awesomely detailed worlds. The project has the personal blessing of gaming industry legend Lord British (AKA Richard Garriot).

Of course, the best thing about this project is it's being released for free (as in love, beer & thought) in a couple of weeks. Team Lazarus is responsible for all this - featuring the talents (not to mention blood, caffeine-enriched sweat and salty tears) of a bunch of Americans, an array of Australians, a plethora of Finns - and we all hope you enjoy our effots: Ultima V: Lazarus is finally finished.

Take a gander at the teaser trailer (10mb) available from the main site OR start downloading the game via BitTorrent and please seed it if you can (again, we're not making any money out of this, so please share Lazarus if you can.)


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:43:14 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Chronic-WHAT?-cles of Narnia t-shirt; free iTunes video

The guys at Blue Collar Distro say,

We've really been into The Lonely Island and were stoked when they joined Saturday Night Live this year. Like pretty much everyone else, we thought the Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia short was totally hilarious, especially the "Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious" part of said comedy piece. In fact, our designer Micah really wanted to make a "Crazy Delicious" shirt this morning, so we printed up a few dozen as a one time thing. Since the dudes publish their Lonely Island material under a Creative Commons license we thought it was only right that we donate the proceeds from these sales to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

And Boing Boing reader thewebguy says,

Looks like NBC is taking full advantage of their new deal with Apple, and is showing a little bit of common sense. The popular Lazy Sunday rap skit is now on iTunes for free. Drag and drop to your ipod video! Direct iTunes link.

Related Boing Boing posts:

Wired Magazine feature: "Live From New York"

SNL short: Chronic of Narnia rap

Reader comment: Chris McMahon says,

Apple will only let US credit card owners (or Palpal users with US credit cards) download free content from the US iTunes store. So people like me, with Australian credit cards and Australian iTunes accounts can't download any (including free!) content from the US iTunes store.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:42:55 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

New kitsch pinup book from Octavio "Winkytiki" Arizala

Fasten your seatbelts, mouseketeers: time for an atomic spaceship ride to Babeland.

Octavio "Winkytiki" Arizala's retro pinup photography is the subject of the forthcoming book Modern Vixens.

Snip from an editorial review: "[T]his is dirty/beautiful at its very best, kitschy Hawaiian sets, vintage decor and everything from Barbarella to 50s Housewife imagined in bright, wicked colours. Winkytiki's images are serene, spectacular, dripping with ultra-Kodachrome saturations and demure smiles."
Link to book, and link to website with tons of retrolicious photos. (Thanks, Joseph Francis)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:52:46 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NBC pwns MSNBC, Microsoft role reduced

NBC Universal today announced a deal through which it will acquire majority control of MSNBC from Microsoft. Snip from NYT story:
The transaction could be the first step in ending a nine-year partnership between the companies, and puts NBC squarely in control of the network, which has lagged behind the Fox News Channel and CNN in the ratings race for years. NBC said it has an option to acquire 100 percent of the cable channel within two years.

The deal comes after nearly a year of negotiations to undo the partnership, in which each side was increasingly frustrated with the other. Within NBC, executives complained that they did not have enough control of the network's budget to hire the right talent and market its programs.

Executives at Microsoft have worried that media business is outside their primary mission and may be a black hole. Microsoft sold its stake in Slate, the online magazine, to The Washington Post last year.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:05:32 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Web Zen: Chicken Zen

cluck of the bells
mailorder chickens
operation chicken art
chicken boy
chicken dance

and the classic...

web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

Reader comment: Doug says,

Your chicken zen remided me of another awsome chicken page. It's a tic-tac-toe game where you play against a virtual chicken. It's way hard, and I've only won a couple of times. More often than not it's always a draw. Link.
Reader comment: Kiyash says,
You cannot have Chicken Web Zen without "Chicken Soccer Bowling." A photo set on Flickr shows off all the action and explains the rules of this hallway sport, which was invented by avant gamer Jane McGonigal. Reader comment: chris corwin sez:
i have a set of pictures of fake chickens at my flickr stream.
Reader comment: Nonominous says,
How could you forget good old Rat Chicken, the original Oriental chicken-in-disguise?
Reader comment: Florian says:
The Chicken Zen list reminded me of a cartoon series featuring an intoxicated chicken. Ugly Mean Chickie features a heavy metal soundtrack and the consumption of fuel, washing powder and bathroom cleaner. It was once featured in the Wired Animation Showcase, but is gone now. There are plenty of other flash series on the main site (see "Hot Duck"), featuring hillybilly and metal soundtracks. Kind of underground screwball comedy.
And previously on Boing Boing:

Subservient Chicken

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:00:49 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Graffiti rugs

 Images Rugupdates Stash Wildstyleredblue

Toy Culture is selling limited edition 100% woolen handtufted rugs designed by urban artists. Seen here is "Wildstyle" by STASH. It's 1.28 x 2 metres at its largest point. There are only 25 of these available for £1350 each.
Link (Thanks, John Alderman!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 05:28:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Self-aware robot

Meiji University researchers built a robot that can recognize itself in the mirror. This form of mirror image cognition is arguably a step toward self-awareness. In another experiment, one robot representing the "self," imitated another robot, acting as "the other." Signals from the first robot apparently indicated that the first robot "understood" that the other robot was mimicing its behavior. From Discovery News:
 News Briefs 20051219 Gallery Awarerobot Zoom "In humans, consciousness is basically a state in which the behavior of the self and another is understood," said (scientist Junichi) Takeno.

Humans learn behavior during cognition and conversely learn to think while behaving, said Takeno...

Imitation, said Takeno, is an act that requires both seeing a behavior in another and instantly transferring it to oneself and is the best evidence of consciousness.
Link (Thanks, Vann Hall!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 04:36:30 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cheney's iPod: first in line of succession for power outlets.

Snip from an Associated Press item about travels aboard Air Force Two:
[Cheney] is an iPod fan, and keeping it charged is a priority for his staff. Normally that isn't an issue, even when he's flying around the world. Air Force II is equipped with outlets in each row of seats. But when Dick Cheney was traveling home overnight Wednesday from his diplomatic mission, most of the outlets went on the fritz.

Working passengers began lining up their laptops to share the power from a couple of working outlets — particularly the reporters who urgently needed to prepare their articles to transmit during a quick refueling stop in England.

But when Cheney said his iPod needed to be recharged, it took precedent above all else and dominated one precious outlet for several hours. The vice president's press staff intervened so a reporter could use the outlet for 15 minutes to charge a dead laptop, but then the digital music device was plugged back in. That way, Cheney got his press coverage and his music, too.

Link (Thanks, Paul Boutin!)

Reader comment: Tom says,

This just shows how inefficient the executive office is. The iPod charges via USB -- any USB -- so a laptop could easily have been plugged in and charged Cheney's iPod simultaneously. This would work out better than charging just the iPod.
Reader comment: Dave Hoffman says,
My iPod charges via firewire. My laptop doesn't have a firewire port. I have to charge it from my desktop or from the wall.
Reader comment: Hal says,
Much as I detest the guy, maybe he had a reason for not plugging it into somebody's laptop. If you accept the default installation of iTunes, it will open the iPod automatically. Maybe the Veep didn't want anyone to see what crappy music he listens to. Or what he got for free online...
Bonus link: Dick Cheney Slash Fanfiction. Snip:
Cheney then looked up at Rumsfeld. His dark gaze leered at Rumsfeld, hypnotizing him to overcome a feeling of lust. A desire. "Oh, Dick..." Rumsfeld nudged Cheney against a wall and stared deeper into his dark eyes. Rumsfeld couldn't help but touch Cheney's lips with his.

“Holy mackerel...that’s funny! I had a similar feeling about you!” Rumsfeld giggled as he kissed the side of Cheney's mouth hysterically. Rumsfeld let his tongue go for Cheney's ear.

(Thanks, Stacia).

Surgeon General-recommended Unicorn Chaser.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 04:10:05 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NASA Hubble discovers new rings, moons around Uranus

Heh. Ring around Uranus. Say that three times real fast, c'mon. OK, seriously -- snip from NASA press release:
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope photographed a new pair of rings around Uranus and two new, small moons orbiting the planet.

The largest ring is twice the diameter of the planet's previously known rings. The rings are so far from the planet, they are being called Uranus' "second ring system." One of the new moons shares its orbit with one of the rings. Analysis of the Hubble data also reveals the orbits of Uranus' family of inner moons have changed significantly over the past decade.

"The detection of these new interacting rings and moons will help us better understand how planetary systems are formed and sustained, which is of key importance to NASA's scientific exploration goals," said Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, program scientist for Hubble at NASA Headquarters.

Link to news release, and link to full coverage on NASA website. Link to National Geographic coverage.

In related news, NASA is preparing to launch an exploratory mission to the planet icy dirtclod Pluto. Link to WaPo story.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:49:41 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tribe.net pre-emptively censors groups in fear of fed 2257 law

Over at Fleshbot, Violet Blue writes,

Once upon a time there were plenty of reasons to visit social networking site Tribe.net, even if you weren’t a member; the online community fostered groups with open dialogues about sex and culture and created resources for MILF fans, armpit fetishists, and cocksucking enthusiasts that everyone could enjoy.

But in a sad turn of events yesterday, Tribe has voluntarily applied 2257 record-keeping requirements across the board for all users and groups in its architecture, thus removing a lot of worthwhile content and making group leaders like me feel more like the headmistress at a very bad boys’ school … and not in the way I’d like.

Link to full text of post with pointers to background stories, and there's more on Violet's blog here.

Snip from a related post on SFist:

The very definition of a 'chilling effect' on free speech is when legislation or enforcement of new laws are so potentially onerous that people and organization self-censor out of fear and potential liability. Today, the users of Tribe.net were one of the first groups on the internet to feel that cool breeze, as Tribe have instituted their new Terms of Use with amendments to the provisions regarding mature public content, and presumably, any content deemed offensive by a Tribe user.

Of course, you know who to thank, ultimately. The changes to the obscenity code recommend by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and recently passed into law have jurisdiction over a wide range of potential content, as the Supreme Court has defined 'community standards of decency' the ultimate standard in an obscenity hearing. While Tribe.net has a strong local user base, and naturally our standards of decency here in the Bay Area are rather tolerant, this opens up the potential for a user in the flyover states to deem content produced here obscene, since they can access it from anywhere in the world. Blogger and EFF attorney Jason Schultz explains:

What happened at Tribe is what we can expect in a world where the FBI dictates the terms of what freedom of expression means. It's disappointing that Tribe overreacted like it did and banned far more speech than necessary, but one also has to realize, in a world where you can go to jail for what you help publish on the Internet, there's a serious chilling effect from laws like 2257.


Previous posts on Boing Boing related to 2257 (Link) and Tribe.net's self-censorship (Link). Image: Jacob Appelbaum.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:58:14 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Passion of the Spaghetti Monster

Over at Wired News today, Kathleen Craig interviews Flying Spaghetti Monster prophet Bobby Henderson. Snip from intro:
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pastafarianism, turned into a phenomenon, appealing to scientists, academics and many others, who flock to Henderson's website to pick up FSM mugs and T-shirts, play games and learn about other school boards hostile to evolutionary thought. The site now draws as many as 2 million hits a day.

Meanwhile, public debate over intelligent design is intensifying. One Georgia suburb recently put warnings on biology texts stating evolution was "a theory, not a fact," prompting a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union heard last Thursday in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- a ruling is expected next year. And Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that intelligent design couldn't be mentioned in biology classes in Pennsylvania public schools, deciding a closely watched case that evolved from a Dover, Pennsylvania, school board policy that steered students to the intelligent design textbook Of Pandas and People.

Now Henderson -- a 25-year-old physics graduate -- has banked a reported $80,000 advance for the still unfinished The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, scheduled for publication in March. He isn't talking much publicly while he writes, but he took time for an exclusive conversation with Wired News about the Gospel, a future influenced by intelligent design, and his plans to build a pirate ship to convert heathens.

Link to interview.

Previous Boing Boing posts about FSM and Pastafarianism.

See also Federal judge rules on Dumbass Design: science wins

Reader comment: Dougal Campbell says,

When I saw your entry about the Gospel of FSM book, I immediately checked out the page about it at Random House. However, I was disappointed to see that it's being filed under "Fiction, Humorous", rather than in "Religion, Bible, Reference", where it belongs. Shouldn't we be petitioning them to fix this grievous error?

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:26:18 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Anna Chamber's stuffed poo animal

 Blogger 2367 1664 1600 Tammy-TurdI love Anna Chamber's illustrations. She also makes dolls. Check out this little stuffed doll she calls Tammy Turd.
Link (thanks, Matt!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:03:55 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Merry Christmixtape! Coop's smutty holiday MP3 jams

Boing Boing buddy Coop may be best known as a high priest of lowbrow art, but he's a formidable mixmaster, too. Today on his blog, a rockingus maximus MP3 miximus just in time for holiday jammage. Before you crank up your speakers and play, make everyone in earshot click on an age-verification screen. Contains smutty lyrics and dirty grooves.

Link to download and tracklist for Dagmar's Hotpants Incorporated (Includes "Let's Get Drunk & Truck," Tampa Red; "Soixante Neuf Annee Erotique," Serge Gainsbourg; "Two Girls In Love -- With Each Other," The Johnny Otis Show; and "Dub Your Pum Pum," Lee Perry & the Silvertones).

Here's a second killer mix from Coop this week -- Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart (Includes "Orgasm Addict," Buzzcocks; "I Don't Care About You," Fear; "Baby, You're So Repulsive," Crime; and "What's This Shit Called Love," Pagans).

Update: Holy crap, Coop just posted two more mixes! You Can't Beat Gas, and Sexy Coffee Pot. Note: all of his holiday mixfiles are guaranteed to be 100% holiday-music-free.

Sucks-Less-Mirror-Goodness: Scott Jacobson says,

OK, I couldn't stand the crazy rigmarole involved in snagging the mixes from rapidshare. I'm mirroring them on a friendly server. They'll at least be there through the weekend. I've taken the liberty of re-archiving them (as zips) to include both t he cover art + track listing (as Coop did) and just the plain cover art for all the iPod purists. There's only 2 ATM, the others are in progress. [mirror Link]

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:49:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Public domain movie torrents

Here are the Top 10 seeded torrents at publicdomaintorrents.com


Many are available as PDA/iPod-sized versions. Link (thanks, Sven!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:45:12 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Treehugger's new navbar

Picture 6-10 The Treehugger blog has come up with a nifty new navbar that makes it easy to read blog entries one by one without scrolling.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:30:26 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Hoax Christmas Lights Webcam up for charity auction

 Drmn 2005 12 10 1210Alek O Last year, Alek Komarnitsky of Lafayette, CO made headlines when he invited Web users to control thousands of Christmas lights on his house. The reality is that the whole thing was a hoax. The only thing that people on the Web were controlling was the sequence of some still images of his house. (The telepistemological questions this raises remind me of the seminal telerobotic art installation from the mid-1990s called Legal Tender.) Now, Komarnitsky is auctioning off the "Christmas Lights Webcam that Fooled the World" with proceeds going to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Disease Research. This year, he's also outfitted his home with X10 tech to enable people online to really control the lights. Or so he claims...

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:15:18 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

UK to monitor all car journeys, and store in database

The Independent reports that Britain will begin tracking and recording the movements of every vehicle on the road system.
Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.

Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:14:23 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Moment of presidential-views-on-wiretapping zen

President George W. Bush, 2004:
"[T]here are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
Link to transcript on White House website.

Here is a short Quicktime video clip: link, mirror. (Thanks, Nate, via this devoter post)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:27:21 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

FCC net wiretapping rules irk even local governments

Snip from a News.com column by Declan McCullagh:
If we needed any more evidence that the Federal Communications Commission believes it can rule the Internet by administrative decree, consider the growing backlash against its wiretapping regulations.

An FCC edict from September orders broadband providers and some Internet phone companies to rewire their networks for police wiretapping convenience. In the bizarro world of federal bureaucracies, of course, it doesn't matter how much complying with this order will cost, whether it's technically feasible, or even whether the requirements are legal or not.

But in the real world, engineers and managers who actually build networks have to worry about those questions. That's why the FCC's pronunciamento worries everyone from Internet providers to universities--and now, even local governments.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:21:12 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Senate votes for 6-month Patriot Act extension, House reduces to 1 month

The US Senate voted to approve a six-month extension of key Patriot Act provisions. Expect a less-recognizable but equally liberty-shredding version in June. Link to NYT story. (Thanks, Nate Johnson)

Reader comment: Rob Williams says,

The extension has been reduced to 1 month by the House (according to the Washington Post). Interestingly it has been shortened with Republican support. House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said, "The fact is that a six-month extension, in my opinion, would have simply allowed the Senate to duck the issue until the last week in June."
Link to story.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:15:52 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Update on "DHS visits student over Little Red Book" story

UPDATE: Report confirmed as hoax, Link to BB update.

Here's the original Boing Boing post, and here's yesterday's batch of update links.

Today, Boing Boing reader Gary McGath, a software engineer with the Harvard University Library, writes:

Just to add more confusion to the situation of Homeland Security and the unidentified UMass Dartmouth student: in a reader comment on a previous BB post, Jessamyn West reported that the Mao book "was from a library in nearby Providence." But SouthCoastToday is now saying it came from UMass Amherst -- Link.

A random stranger on a train told me that UMass Dartmouth does use SSN for student ID and claimed they'd issued a press release acknowledging that. I can't find any such press release on Google news, though.

Anonymous says,
Note that the UMass Dartmouth Library Dean states that her library did not process the interlibrary loan. It went through another library -- they were not involved. Note also that neither the reporter nor the professors ever seemed to try to verify any part of the story with the UMass Dartmouth Library or with Homeland Security for that matter. Neither people professionals at research bothered to even try to do the research for the facts. Odd, very odd. This is aside from the unlikely elements requested in the so-called form...like the SSN. Link.
N.Pepperell says,
The followup quotes some very skeptical DHS and FBI staff, and indicates that neither the student nor the student's parents have agreed to speak directly with Nicodemus. Link to blog post with more analysis.
reader Laura Prickett says,
So -- i spent some time at the UMass Amherst branch, and did a little ILL myself...

Until a few years ago, most ID numbers at UMass Amherst, and i suspect the other branches, were your social. If you wanted to, you could throw a fit and they'd give you a non-SSN number. Maybe three years ago they swapped to random ID numbers. Incoming freshmen didn't know their socials, but knew their ID numbers. upperclassmen didn't know their ID numbers, but only their SSN. I worked computer helpdesk there during the transition, and got used to accepting either number -- it was a massive headache. When I graduated the system had pretty much gone on to ID#s only, and only upperclassmen were still using their socials. Anyone with an ID card maybe prior to fall 2002 still would have their SSN, and not their other random ID.

UMass Dartmouth's ILL request page (Link) asks for the UMass ID -- so if they have an old-school ID it could be a social. WIth the umass amherst one, at least, they had you enter it once and then kept it on file FOREVER...

Beth Mahon adds,
I'm a grad student at UMass Boston, and I know that their ID system just changed over from SSNs to random numbers last semester, and they rolled out a new online student data system to go with the change (see link here.) New ID numbers were mailed out to existing students in October or November. If you look at this website, it indicates that UMass Dartmouth changed over their system during the spring semester. They might have just changed their IDs as well, and, like the Amherst school, they may not have made existing students change over their IDs.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:43:51 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Child porn collector gets Sober.Y "FBI spam", turns self in

If your computer's connected to the internet, odds are you've received countless virii-burdened emails that read, "Dear Sir/Madam, we have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites. Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached."

One very smart fellow in Germany received the German version of that Sober.Y spam, then, presuming it was real -- turned himself in to authorities. The polizei examined his hard drive and discovered an abundance of kinderporn.

Link to synopsis on f-secure, and here is the original report (in German). (Thanks, Ben the Geek)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:30:32 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Inside the Air Force's Laser Lab

Defense Tech contributor David Hambling visited the Air Force Research Lab, and spoke with the in-house laser weapon development team. Laser dazzlers and "the first man-portable heat compliance weapon" are among the projects he found. Link (Thanks, Noah)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:22:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Footage of possible Sasquatch in California

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization has acquired a video clip that a hiker shot of a reported Sasquatch last month in Sonoma County, California. As the BFRO site says, the footage is "blurry, shakey, and frustratingly short," but I still think it's pretty strange and interesting. From BFRO:
 News Images Sonoma Large Various people in the BFRO have seen sasquatches in the field and know what they look like.

We've seen plenty of hoaxed footage over the years as well.

With that said, we are confident the Sonoma footage is not fake (i.e. not animation or a man in a costume).

This figure is most likely a real sasquatch -- a survivor of the gigantopithecus line of apes.
Link (Thanks, Scott Lowe!)

UPDATE: BB reader Michael Shannon points us to Bigfoot researcher John Freitas's analysis of the puroprted Sasquatch footage here. Meanwhile, my cryptozoologist pal Loren Coleman weighs in at Cryptomundo here.

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:12:53 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

France OKs filesharing amendment, more legal wrangling to come

Last night, the French parliament passed an amendment affirming the legality of free movie and music filesharing:
If the amendment survives, France would be the first country to legalize so called peer-to-peer downloading, said Jean-Baptiste Soufron, legal counsel to the Association of Audionautes, a French group that defends people accused of improperly sharing music files.

The law would be a blow to media companies that increasingly use the courts worldwide to sue people for downloading or sharing music and movie files. Entertainment companies such as Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc. and News Corp.'s Fox say free downloading of unauthorized copies of TV shows and movies before they are released on DVD will cost them $5 billion in revenue this year.

(...) The amendment, which is attached to a bill on intellectual property rights, states that ``authors cannot forbid the reproduction of works that are made on any format from an online communications service when they are intended to be used privately'' and not for commercial use.

Link to Bloomberg story (Thanks, John Frost)

I time-warped to the secluded mountain resort where my co-editor Cory Doctorow is holidaying, and asked him for his take on this news. Cory crawled out of a snowdrift just long enough to say:

Here's what I think's going on with P2P thing in France:

The French govt has been captured and is on the way to passing a terrible French copyright law that will implement the provisions in the EUCD (the Directive that was given rise to through accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the same treaty that created the US DMCA). The French EUCD is really bad: bans open source, requires mandatory universal wiretapping, etc. Making matters worse, the govt called its hearings on this for Dec 22/23, when no one would be around to make a stink.

So the French Parliament has retaliated by passing this legalize-P2P bill, which still needs govt approval. The message appears to be: if you create this dumbass copyright law, we'll respond by legalizing P2P, so just back off, all right?

Reader comment: thibaut sailly says,

Did you know that the morning the debate started, the minister of Culture (author of the law) invited Virgin and Fnac to demo their online music stores to representatives >inside< the Assemblée Nationale ? Virgin even offered 10€ certificates to those who were going to vote the law. Nice aye ? Link to article (in french)
Update: Here's an opinion piece from Thomas Crampton, guestblogger at joi.ito.com and contributor to the International Herald Tribune.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:12:09 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Musicmatch customers pissed at Yahoo

Boing Boing reader J. C. Ernharth says,
Yahoo bought Musicmatch, and has deep-sixed its service team for the software product while still allowing folks to download it and subscribe to it. In the meantime, paying subscribers to Musicmatch get shoddy service, and lifetime purchasers of the software feel (and are) very screwed. It's hardly a good business plan to alienate users of one of the more poopular music programs out there -- the free version shipped loaded on millions of PCs over the past 5 years. I've been a loyal user since about 1998.
Link to Yahoo Group for Musicmatch enthusiasts, who are not so enthusiastic at the moment.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:08:53 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

The great Linksys WRT54G debate

Glenn Fleishman has been following the geektroversy brewing around the Linksys WRT54G model number issue, and says:
Linksys was using embedded Linux for the WRT54G gateway, a Wi-Fi access point, router, and Ethernet switch, that sells for as low as $50 these days. A couple of years ago, Linksys and Broadcom (the company that makes the device's Wi-Fi chips and created the reference platform that Linksys uses) were pushed to meet GNU and other license terms and release the modified OS and accompanying packages. They're routinely released each update since.

Now folks who hack the WRT54G with their own firmware noticed that newer models stopped allowing these hacks and were, in fact, now running the proprietary VxWorks OS. Linksys started talking publicly about this switchover--which happened in fall--just a few weeks ago, and noted that they needed to get the cost of goods down. They were able to halve the volatile and non-volatile memory with the VxWorks OS. (I and others think it is much less reliable in its early firmware releases, however; that's another story that's ongoing.)

The WRT54G v1 through v4 has the Linux kernel. The v5 (and ostensibly beyond) is VxWorks. Linksys opted to introduce a new model they're calling WRT54GL which is basically the same as the v4 release, but it'll have a street price of more like $70 than $50.

Interestingly, Linksys slipped sales numbers. The WRT54G sells "several hundred thousand" units per month, which could mean four or five million per year. They expect to sell about 120,000 WRT54GLs a year, which is quite sizeable, too, and shows the scope of the firmware hacking market for those commodity devices.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:02:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

War on Christmas Lights in MD: townspeople v. Verizon

Boing Boing reader Scott says,
"Verizon gets all anal and prevents a Maryland town from putting up its Christmas lights. Townspeople get revenge by putting an inflatable Grinch next to the local Verizon office."

The dispute started when townsfolkses decided to upgrade the light system, and contacted the telco about new outlets and sensors to be installed on telephone poles. Verizon spokescritters replied "no," saying the specifics of the proposed plan were unsafe.

Link to a summary of news reports on Scott's blog, and here is the Boston Globe's account.

Reader comment: Eric Farris says,

I drive through Lonaconing ("Coney") every day to work and the absence of the lights is very noticable this year. I never noticed the sign on the Grinch, I'll have to check it out! :) I'm not one for holiday cheer, but I always enjoyed driving under the lights in Coney. Happy Chrismahanukwanzaa to you and yours.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:44:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NYE in NYC video will be fed to phone-TV and IPTV providers

This coming New Year's Eve in Times Square will be the first made available by satellite feed for mobile phone TV and IPTV providers.

Boing Boing reader Craig Sender says, "The New Years Eve feed is clean (no bugs burned in or other ID) and uninterrupted (no commercials) so they can customize and use however they like. It will consist of an eight-camera mixed feed including panoramic views of Times Square and the ball from proprietary camera locations on rooftops and on the street."

Here is a related article in Broadcasting and Cable magazine.

Reader comment: David A. Gilman says,

The Worldwide Feed for NYE has always been available commercial free via satellite. The coordinates and info go out in a press release to the industry, and anyone who has the ability can suck it down and repurpose it into a news broadcast. The money to pay for the event is provided by sponsors, and in return, the Worldwide Feed covers those sponsors' logos and signs a certain percentage of the time.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:36:39 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Merry Christmashup! MP3 of remixed holiday tunes

Boing Boing reader Dane Johnson says,
"Some Assembly Required" is a radio show on 770 AM radio K in Minneapolis, MN. It's about mashups and sound collage -- Jon Nelson, who does the show, made a great 50- minute X-Mas Mix. Take a listen!
DJ John – “The Christmas massacre of Charlie Brown" * John Oswald – “White” * Corporal Blossom – “The Christmas song (chestnuts)” * Corporal Blossom - “Little drummer boy” * Escape Mechanism – “Elf song” * Dummy Run – “Jolly holiday” * The Evolution Control Committee - “The Christmas wrong” * No-L – “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” * Cassetteboy - “XFM Christmas cut up” * Diffusion – “dnbchristmas” * Lovecraft Technologies – “Frosty the snowman” * Poj Masta - “Santar Klaws” * Mr. Fab and The RIAA – “Santa's acid hawaiian space disco” * Corporal Blossom – “White Christmas”

Reader comment: K7AAY says,

The formalities of the season must be observed, and one of them is the Original MashUp, brought to us by The First Blogger, the esteemed Dr. Jerry Pournelle: Link. One might wish to go back to the original source, however, and short of a trip to Fort Mudge in the depths of the Okeefenokee, this site may be a viable reference for serious scholars wishing alternative references.
Update: Jon Nelson of "Some Assembly Required" says:
Hi! I received word that someone posted to boingboing about my SAR Xmas Mix - a special christmas mix of sound collages I posted to my radio show's podcast. I guess it was too popular though, because the server crashed! We've got it back up now, at a new server - I'd love it if the original post were amended to let your readers know where they can find the mix, on its new server: MP3 Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:30:43 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fish with two mouths

FishmouthThis rainbow trout was caught last weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska's Holmes Lake. It has two mouths. The fisherman, Clarence Olberding, told the Associated Press that he's "going to smoke it up and eat it."
Link (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 05:46:53 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Reminder: how to suggest sites for BB

Just a friendly reminder that the only way to suggest an item for BoingBoing is by following the directions here. We really appreciate your submissions, but we can't accept them via email sent to our personal addresses. Also, please don't add us to any email lists without our permission. Thanks so much! Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:56:50 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Letterman's psychic influence restrained

A New Mexico judge granted a temporary restraining order against David Letterman based on a statement by a woman named Colleen Nestler who claims that the talk show host has caused her "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation" over the last eleven years. According to Nestler, Letterman seems to have employed a form of remote influence via television. From the Associated Press:
Nestler's application for a restraining order was accompanied by a six-page typed letter in which she said Letterman used code words, gestures and "eye expressions" to convey his desires for her.

She wrote that she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after his "Late Show" began in 1993, and that he responded in code words and gestures, asking her to come East.

She said he asked her to be his wife during a televised "teaser" for his show by saying, "Marry me, Oprah." Her letter said Oprah was the first of many code names for her and that the coded vocabulary increased and changed with time.

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:47:38 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Why pot gives you the munchies

Columbia University scientists are gaining a new understanding of why marijuana gives you the munchies. While the brain's cannabinoid receptors are involved, the specifics have been a mystery. From a press release:
Understanding this circuitry has important practical implications because blocking the cannabinoid receptor, CB1, offers a promising approach to treating obesity. One such compound, rimonabant (trade name AcompliaTM) is already undergoing clinical testing.

In an article in the December 22, 2005, issue of Neuron, Young-Hwan Jo and colleagues report how the circuitry of CB1 is integrated with signaling by the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin.
Link to press release, Link to abstract of scientific paper

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:09:04 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade)

Peter Daou presents an excellent summary of how President Bush's decision to spy on Americans will play out in the media and on Capitol Hill.
1. POTUS circumvents the law - an impeachable offense.

2. The story breaks (in this case after having been concealed by a news organization until well after Election 2004).

3. The Bush crew floats a number of pushback strategies, settling on one that becomes the mantra of virtually every Republican surrogate. These Republicans face down poorly prepped Dem surrogates and shred them on cable news shows.

4. Rightwing attack dogs on talk radio, blogs, cable nets, and conservative editorial pages maul Bush's critics as traitors for questioning the CIC.

5. The Republican leadership plays defense for Bush, no matter how flagrant the Bush over-reach, no matter how damaging the administration's actions to America's reputation and to the Constitution. A few 'mavericks' like Hagel or Specter risk the inevitable rightwing backlash and meekly suggest that the president should obey the law. John McCain, always the Bush apologist when it really comes down to it, minimizes the scandal.

Read the next five phases on Salon. Link

Update: Maybe it won't go down as described above. The Washington Times, an ultraconservative paper that usually sides with the President, ran a sharply critical commentary by Bruce Fein, a former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan.

President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law. He cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses. Congress should swiftly enact a code that would require Mr. Bush to obtain legislative consent for every counterterrorism measure that would materially impair individual freedoms.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:29:29 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Festivus poles for sale

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, the character played by the inimitable Jerry Stiller declared the establishment of a new holiday to replace Christmas. It was called Festivus and the centerpiece was a bare aluminum pole. Now a company is selling the poles.
FestivusAccording to Frank Costanza, the Festivus celebration includes three major components:

The Festivus Pole
The tradition begins with a bare aluminum pole, which Frank praises for its "very high strength-to-weight ratio." During Festivus, an unadorned aluminum pole is displayed, apparently in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees, and because the holiday's creator, Frank Costanza, "find[s] tinsel distracting." Local customs vary and you may be able to decorate your pole with non-threatening plain decorations, or ordinary green garland.

The Airing of Grievances
At the Festivus dinner, each participant tells friends and family all of the instances where they disappointed him or her that year.

The Feats of Strength
The head of the family tests his or her strength against one participant of the head's choosing. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned to the ground. A participant is allowed to decline to attempt to pin the head of the family only if they have something better to do instead.

Link (thanks, Andria!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:20:51 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Staples charges for "virus scanning" "Raster Image Processing"

See Staple's comments below. The company does not charge for virus scanning.

Mike Langlie, who makes wonderful music with kids' instruments, says: "I had an interesting experience at Staples today. In case you feel like sharing with boingboing readers, here is an email I sent to Staples."

Today I visited a local Staples to print some color files. As an employee wrote up my order, he mentioned there would be a $2.49 fee per file for virus scanning. Incredulously, I asked if I am really expected to pay for my files to be scanned for viruses, to which he replied yes. I canceled my order and left. This experience brings up some very disturbing thoughts. Should I assume that until now Staples has never scanned customer files for viruses before processing? I've worked in many offices and service bureaus and consider virus scanning a necessary and common sense practice when handling any unknown files. I doubt that this is a new concept to Staples, and am even more dismayed by the next logical reason for this fee. Most likely, Staples is trying to bilk naive customers for a "service" that should be routine to any sensible and responsible computer user. Will customers be expected to pay for their cash register receipts next? Staples has lost me as a customer, and my respect.

Reader comment: Erin says: "I worked in a Staples copy center for over five years (up till this fall), and am familiar with the 'service fee' they charge. Technically, its not a 'virus scanning fee' -- it's just a 'rip fee' for taking a file off a disk. Because it is generally 1-3 minutes faster to copy an actual piece of paper, a few years ago Staples implemented the 'rip fee' to account for the time it takes to open a file off of a cd or floppy and send it to print. Not only is there the $2.49 initial charge, but employees were instructed to charge $.99 for 'each additional file' they wanted printed off the disk. This was certainly irritating to those who wanted their novels printed out, and had saved their work in 40 separate .doc files. I rarely charged for the 'ripping' as it is a clear example of corporate theft. It's not like the employee gets a commission for the File > Print effort either."

Reader comment: Chad says: "I would be interested to know if Staples is in violation of its antivirus software license agreement by providing the 'service.' Most enterprise licenses include language along the lines of 'Licensee may use the Software only for Licensee's internal business purposes, and Licensee shall not permit the Software to be used by or for the benefit of third parties, including via a timesharing, service bureau or other arrangement.' By selling access to their antivirus software for $2.49 a file, Staples has arguably created a antivirus scanner rental service, or at least a managed service (since they do the scanning).

"It's possible Staples has a special license where they pay royalties to the antivirus company on a per-file basis, but those are not common outside of the outsourcing industry."

Update: Mylissa Tsai, the program manager for public relations at Staples emailed the following to us today: "As a frequent reader of BoingBoing, I wanted to make sure to reach out to you and your readers regarding your post this week, "Staples Charges for 'virus scanning'".

We wanted to make sure that the blogosphere and our customers have the most accurate information about the company. Below I have included some information from our Vice President of Business Services, Rob Schlacter which should help your readers. I'd like to ask if you can post our enclosed comments."

$2.49 Raster Image Processing Service Charge Ensures First Generation Digital Output; Virus Scanning Claim Is Inaccurate

I understand how customers can be upset by inaccurate information. Let me clarify. At Staples, our commitment is to deliver quality work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The $2.49 charge is a "Raster Image Processing" fee; it is not a virus scanning fee. This is used industry wide and retailers often charge it as an additional fee or include it in the overall printout cost.

As we have added expanded media acceptance to our service capability, many customers bring multiple file types using different software applications. The Raster Image Processing process is a part of Staples Copy and Print Centers production standards, ensuring first generation, high quality output to our digital copiers. As technology improves and the industry implements new processes, we will continue to evaluate our service level fees just as we do our everyday retail pricing.

We also understand that customers are getting more tech-savvy. So, stay tuned on how Staples can provide easier solutions like a free file conversion software package coming soon to stores next spring.

Thank you for your continued patronage at Staples. Feel free to reach out to any store manager with questions or customerrelations@staples.com

Rob Schlacter

Vice President of Business Services, Staples Inc.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:22:00 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Set TiVo for NOVA scienceNOW, January 10

The fifth episode of a new PBS show called NOVA scienceNOW airs Tuesday, January 10, 2006, at 8 PM ET. The story lineup -- a look at planet Xena (yet another "10th planet" candidate), stem cell research workarounds, a pandemic flu "explainer," the un-extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, and the rise in the number and intensity of hurricanes and the link to global warming, and vat-grown meat -- looks interesting.
Make room, meat-lovers. Vegetarians, take note. Jason Matheny, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, has proposed methods of tissue engineering—cloning the muscle cells from farm animals and producing them outside of the animals’ bodies—that could lead to the affordable production of lab made meat that does not require the killing of animals. It’s a good idea in theory, and one that would be easier on the environment. Because of all of the water, grains, chemicals, fertilizers—and everything else it takes to turn the grass into cows and the cows into meat and get the meat to your house—getting food from animals takes a lot of energy, generates lots of waste, and can even make us sick. But how does lab made meat taste? Texture is one area that still needs some work. The biggest obstacle, however, is an economic one. Perhaps the technology will be there in five or ten years. Right now, however, a kilogram of beef would cost about a million dollars--no small sum to pay just for a hamburger.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:19:02 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Update: "DHS visits student over Little Red Book" report

UPDATE: Report confirmed as hoax, Link to BB update.

There's been much debate online in recent days about the veracity of this story in a Massachussetts newspaper.

According to the article by Standard-Times reporter Aaron Nicodemus, a student at the University of Massachussetts was visited at his parent's home by Homeland Security agents after he requested a collection of Mao Tse-Tung quotes known as "The Little Red Book" via interlibrary loan.

Many questioned whether all of the facts in the story added up. Questions remain -- is the assertion that DHS visited the student confirmed as fact? If so, how did DHS obtain the book loan request data? -- but here are some reactions from librarians and university officials close to the story. If all of the facts reported are confirmed, as the reporter maintains, it is indeed a troubling story.

Here is a statement from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, lifted from a listserv for librarians:

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth officials are investigating reports that a student at the university was visited by officials from Homeland Security after the student requested a copy of Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book". UMass administrators have interviewed the student who has requested that his identity be shielded, and the University is complying with that request.

At this point, it is difficult to ascertain how Homeland Security obtained the information about the student's borrowing of the book. The UMass Dartmouth Library has not been visited by agents of any type seeking information about the borrowing patterns or habits of any of its patrons and did not handle the request for the book in question. The student has indicated that another university library processed the request.

The UMass Dartmouth library has established policies for handling requests under the Patriot Act and has taken every lawful measure possible to protect the confidentiality of patron records.

The Library subscribes to the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights and was a signatory to the MCCLPHEI (Massachusetts Conference of Chief Librarians of Public Higher Educational Institutions) resolution on the USA Patriots Act submitted to the Massachusetts Civil Liberty Union in 2003.

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said, "It is important that our students and our faculty be unfettered in their pursuit of knowledge about other cultures and political systems if their education and research is to be meaningful. We must do everything possible to protect the principles of academic inquiry.''

Ann Montgomery Smith
Dean of Library Services
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Library

And here is an item posted on the ILL-L listserv:
We do not believe that the story is a hoax. One of the professors named in the story, Brian Williams, is the son of two of our Stetson University professors. We emailed him about the story being on the ILL listserv and he replied:

"I am delighted to hear that librarians are aware of this outrage. I was wondering if you could possibly give me a link to the site that displayed the story. All is well here in Boston, the story has caused a surge of interest in academic freedoms and I have been inundated with emails from people urging me to teach my class."

Of course, the big question still remains: WHAT was being monitored -- the local system or OCLC or what?

Susan Ryan, Associate Director
duPont-Ball Library
Stetson University. DeLand, FL

(Thanks, Sean; and thanks, Kate Sherrill of Ivy Tech Community College in Evansville, Indiana)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:10:04 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cool Tools reviews Secret Museum of Mankind

At Cool Tools, Kevin Kelly writes an enthusiast review of Secret Museum of Mankind, a book that I also love.
 Images P 0879059125.01.Lzzzzzzz What a mysterious and fantastical book. This hefty softcover is a facsimile collection of thousands of exotic and sensational photographs dating from around the turn of the century when news of any sort from far away lands was rare. It's sort of a combination of early uncensored National Geographic and Ripley's Believe It or Not. Reproduced without a known author, or copyright, or even authentication of the captions, it was for many years a "secret" underground publication. And for pure gawking pleasures it still can't be beat. Cannibals, executioners, and fakirs, oh my! Toolwise, it serves as a mighty sourcebook of amazing costumes, body modifications and hairdos, architectural novelties, and extinct strange rituals. (I'm convinced science fiction film directors mine this for alien worlds.) I like to think of this book as the best one volume catalog of cultural diversity on Earth. For the most part these societies are long gone, and remain only in rare books like this one. It's a super bargain at $25.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:02:33 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Slot RC car photography

Picture 2-38 Business 2.0 editor Todd Lappin pulled out his RC car kit over the weekend and snapped some fantastic photos.

Reader comment: juddy says: "They're 'Zip-zaps'; crummy radio controlled Radio Shack toys, formerly endorsed by Shaquille O'Neal. Neat photos to be sure, however, they are definitely not slot cars. They're no where near as cool as a slot car, and I'm kind of hurt by your disregard for true slot car *magic* (sniffle)."


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:56:31 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Unusual stuffed horse on eBay

Here's an eBay auction for an odd-looking stuffed horse. Why did the taxidermist position it like this?
Picture 1-60This is a full-sized, authentic stuffed horse. Real animal hair, hooves, mane, tail. Stuffed in a very unusual position. Measures approximately 60" x 36" x 75" Free standing, doesn't need pedestal. Old style taxidermy, not done anymore. Highly unusual prop for stage or theatre, wonderful gift for horse-lover, conversation piece for living room, unique and rare. Chestnut color, black mane and tail. Front right leg is missing, approximately 3". Some tears in skin - approximately 5-10, no longer than 1". Two tears in back, approx. 8". More pictures on request.
"Wonderful gift for horse-lover?" I kind of doubt it. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:52:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Violet Blue's Top Ten Sexiest Geeks of 2005

Multimediatrix and sex educator Violet Blue has posted her list of "Top Ten Sexiest Geeks of 2005." Quite a few BoingBoing pals and people whose names are familiar to BB readers made the list. How exciting! Ken Goldberg, Jacob Appelbaum, and Irene McGee were among the runners-up. And the top 10 included riot nrrds Annalee Newitz, Eddie Codel, and Jason Schlutz. Violet's number one hot geek? Xeni Jardin! Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:31:12 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Inverse panorama photography of human head

Steve at Panocamera.com has been experimenting with "inverse panorama photography." The result is eerie and beautiful.
 2005 Blog Nov-28,-2005 21-29Image2We're trying to make high quality texture maps for game models. Using an FX-1 psuedo HD Sony camera, (its 1440 pixels, which is Sony's anamorphic short-hand for a 1920 16:9 image,) placed sideways, I filmed Yoshi as he rotated on a turntable in front of the camera. The bank-robber cap was his idea. This resulted in about 1200 frames of a 360 degree pass around the head.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:15:05 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Christian nudist's Garden of Eden

Natura, a Christian nudist camp, is slated to open next year north of Tampa, Florida. From the Sunday Times:
(Founder Bill Martin is) confident that Christians will flock to Natura to experience the spiritual benefits of a lifestyle “free from body shame”. He is spending more than $2m on a nudist recreational complex that will also feature a hotel, campsites and a children’s water park.

“As evidenced by Adam and Eve, we believe that when God’s children are in the right relationship to Him, they will be naked and unashamed,” explains one of Natura’s brochures...

Martin and his supporters argue that nudism is unhealthy, especially for children, unless it occurs in a proper Christian context. He has criticised non- religious nudist camps for encouraging alcohol and sensuality. “We are going after a totally different group, a group that doesn’t want a sexual atmosphere,” he said. “There is absolutely no relationship between nudity and sex.”

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:13:52 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Wall hanging inspired by Revell car model kits

 Turbo Turbo Lg1 For just $2500 you can own this wall hanging that looks like the chromed plastic pieces of a model car kit.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:07:01 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Methadone clinic comix: HOOKED!

Scans of HOOKED!, an anti-drug comic book distributed at New York City methadone clinics in 1966. Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:32:27 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Report: FISA court judge resigns over NSA domestic spying

Snip from Washington Post story:
A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:12:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Schneier op-ed on unchecked presidential power, NSA spying

Snip from an opinion piece by digital security expert Bruce Schneier, following up on last week's New York Times story on domestic spying by the NSA:
[T]he president's wartime powers, with its armies, battles, victories, and congressional declarations, now extend to the rhetorical "War on Terror": a war with no fronts, no boundaries, no opposing army, and -- most ominously -- no knowable "victory." Investigations, arrests and trials are not tools of war. But according to the Yoo memo, the president can define war however he chooses, and remain "at war" for as long as he chooses.

This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don't use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship. Then he immediately started using it to avoid the law.

This is, fundamentally, why this issue crossed political lines in Congress. If the president can ignore laws regulating surveillance and wiretapping, why is Congress bothering to debate reauthorizing certain provisions of the Patriot Act? Any debate over laws is predicated on the belief that the executive branch will follow the law.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune Link (Thanks, Robert K. Brown)

Reader comment: JonS says,

This is the link to Schneiers op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on his own blog, and includes a bunch more links plus reader feedback. He's written a couple more blogs about the NSA thing over the last couple of days[/url], and the rest of his postings on security are interesting too.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:04:56 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Kodak assvertises on Ukrainian models' butts

Snip from thespunker.com: "Assvertising was so great you knew it would be copied. (...) Apparently, Kodak used the derriere media placement during a photo convention in Kiev, Ukraine. At least two hot women were hired to wear ridiculously short mini skirts with Kodak logoed panties underneath and then drops things on the convention floor and pick them up."
Link (Thanks, chica!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:02:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

MP3 of "It's a Wonderful Life"

A 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast of It's a Wonderful Life with original cast (Jimmy Stewart et. al). MP3 Link, hour-long, 10meg file.

Reader comment: Greg Tulonen says,

Thanks for the It's a Wonderful Life link. Lux Radio Theatre was a curious and wonderful show wherein the stars of major motion pictures recreated their roles for a live radio version (with no retakes!) It ran for over twenty years, from 1934-1955. I can't imagine the movie stars of today agreeing to a similar arrangement with television.

The great otrcat.com offers mp3 CDs of every Lux Radio Theatre episode ever broadcast, as well as hundreds of other radio shows: Link

Reader comment: Kim says,
You know that the film used to be in the public domain? It was copyright free from 1974. Then in the early 90s, all prints and underlying elements got bought up by Republic Pictures; stopping the free-to-broadcast showings on US TV? Shame, isn't it? Link to Wikipedia entry with history.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:52:07 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Soviet-era space-themed New Year's cards

Awesome gallery of aerospace-themed holiday greeting cards from the former Soviet Union. Link (Thanks, Ed Weekly)
Reader comment: Peter Brown says,
All of the cards in the linked to collection are, in fact, New Year’s cards, not Christmas cards – they bear the New Year greeting С Новым годом! (Pronounced: s’novy godom). New Year’s was the main holiday celebrated in the former Soviet Union (officially atheist), replete with a New Year’s tree and the appearance of “Dyet Moros” (Grandfather Frost) – not Santa. Christmas was banned after the 1917 revolution and not celebrated again until 1992. Also, in Russia, Christmas is celebrated by the Orthodox church according to the Julian calendar, on January 7, and was/is a much different type of celebration than New Years. (Link).
Reader comment: Kate Hunter says,
The pronunciation for the Russian "Happy New Year" phrase isn't quite right. It should be "s'novym godom" (missed the M on the end of the first word). And if you wanted to focus more on pronunciation than transliteration, then the second O in 'godom' might be changed to an A. It's written "godom" in Russian, but pronounced more like "GO-dam."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:49:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photo tour of Volkswagen's "Transparent Factory"

Michael, a member of an online forum for Volkswagen enthusiasts, posts snapshots from a visit to the Phaeton assembly plant in Dresden.

"[I have visited] several times, and thoroughly enjoyed each visit," he says, "The building and grounds are beautiful, and the whole process of both making and selling Phaetons is totally different than that for any other car in the world."
Link to messageboard post with helpful tips on how to arrange a visit of your own. (Thanks, Barney Stephens)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:36:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Pac Man re-enacted by humans at U. of Michigan

Boing Boing reader William says,
Two students at our school, the University of Michigan, dressed up as Pac-Man and the Ghost respectively, ran through the UGLi (the Undergraduate Library) and the Fishbowl (a huge computer lab on Central campus) during finals week. Pac-Man screams in horror as the Ghost chases him yelling "Waka Waka Waka." This video has spread like wildfire on our campus, and killed the original hosting site's bandwidth.
Link to *.mov

Reader comment: Will says,

Their idea is not an original one, and was probably derived from one a few months ago at Case Western Reserve. The event happened during a freshman chemistry (CHEM 111) lecture. Our version has instructions on how to create your own Pac-Man costumes, so spread the joy at your own university! Link
Reader comment: Steven says,
My friends and I dressed up as Pac-Man and all four ghosts this halloween, complete with reversible sides to turn our regular ghosts into scared ghosts. We don't have any movies of it, but you can read an account of it in this issue of the Telegraph (and there's some pictures, too). PDF Link
Reader comment: Lemming says,
If the Pac Man routine was meant to be a re-enactment, it isn't very accurate. Plus the videography is crappy.

Of course, in the real game, the "waka-waka" sounds only occur when Pac-Man eats the pills. The ghosts are silent.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:29:59 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Old-school gadget fantasy: iPod Classic II SE++

Boing Boing reader KevDa shares this sketch of "a possible future ipod: The iPod Classic II SE++." Link

Reader comment: Chris Robison says,

When I saw this post, I immediately thought of a video I'd found on Google Video a few days ago -- in fact, I thought the link you provided would be pointing to it. It's a *brilliant* spoof of the iPod Nano advertisement, featuring a mac classic II. It's immediately funny, but keep watching, it gets better. Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:25:24 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

More space art at universities: Carnegie Mellon

Reader Chris Sperandio tells Boing Boing,
Art Center in Pasadena isn't the only school involved in space art. Carnegie Mellon University is offering Space Art as an undergraduate class next semester, taught by Professor Lowry Burgess, a pioneer in the genre.
Link, and Here is a concise history of Space Art

Previously: Art school offers interplanetary flight course

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:55:24 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Apple Newton Museum shutting down, selling everything

Boing Boing reader John Venzon says,
The "Newton Museum," which has a complete collection of every Newton model ever made is closing down and selling the entire collection as one giant piece. There are some good pictures covering everyone's favorite PDA whippingboy.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:55:20 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Girls Gone Wild creator grilled on police record in court

32-year old Joe Francis, who became a gajillionaire by convincing countless young women to "show us where babies feed" for Girls Gone Wild videos, was grilled about his own criminal record when he appeared in court as a burglary victim yesterday:
[Francis] testified that an armed intruder stole cash and possessions and then forced him to make a humiliating, half-naked video. Francis identified his assailant as Darnell Riley, 28, who is accused of six felony counts of burglary, robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and attempted extortion.

In Los Angeles County Superior Court today, Riley's lawyer fired back at Francis, grilling him on his own police record. Defense attorney Ronald Richards asked Francis about a theft arrest in North Carolina, and a case pending in Florida alleging that he filmed minors for one of his videotapes and was charged with racketeering, prostitution, obscenity, child pornography and possession of an illegal drug.

Link (Thanks, Cyrus Farivar)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:17:24 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cell phone number portability coming to Canada

Boing Boing reader Dan Misener says,
Finally, the CRTC in Canada has decided that Canadians will get cell phone number portability, too. "all Canadian wireless telephone companies to implement wireless number portability (WNP) by March 14, 2007, in most of Canada"

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:12:05 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Coyote fur hat

TechDirt and MobHappy blogger Carlo Longino told me that this Bridger Mountain Man Coyote Fur Hat is tops on his Christmas wishlist. It certainly is a beaut! Just $199.95 from Cabela's:
CoyotehatRelive the era of the mountain man with this authentic full-body coyote Mountain Man Hat. The hat drapes down in the back for added warmth and protection on your neck and shoulders. From reenactments of famed mountain man triumphs along the frontier, to displays and decor befitting America's pioneers and settlers, the classic styling and authentic coyote hide make this hat a conversation starter at any gathering. Soft, white-tanned interior holds up to years of wear. The professionally cleaned fur is exceptionally soft and holds its sheen extremely well. The perfect gift for rendezvous black-powder re-enactment enthusiasts.

UPDATE: For those readers lacking a sense of humor and/or irony, BB in no way endorses the buying, selling, or wearing of Bridger Moutain Man Coyote Fur Hats like the stylish chapeau pictured above.

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:38:04 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

How an illustrator draws a spot

 Bay Wheelchairsketch  Savage 2005 Savage 1209
I really like the work of illustrator, Robert Ullman, so it was fun to read how he goes about creating illustrations for Dan Savage's sex advice column, "Savage Love."
Finally, it's time to ink. I use a #2 brush for most of it, except the lines on the tie, and some of the components of the chair, for which I use a Pitt Artists pen. I find that my brush lines tend to be a bit wonky at times, going from thick to thin, and while that's great for figures, it looks kind of bad on non-organic objects like cars and, well, wheelchairs.

Speaking of wheelchairs, I'm pretty happy with how this one has turned out. It looks good, the perspective is correct, or at least, I've faked it in a believeable way. I struggle drawing vehicles of any kind, anything with wheels, so this a pretty satisfying result.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 07:50:58 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Firewall workaround: use Google as a proxy and access forbidden sites

Here's an O'Reillynet article that explains how to use Google's translation service to see sites that are forbidden by your company's firewall. Basically, you ask Google to do an English-to-English translation (or whatever language you want to use). Link (via LifeHacker)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 07:41:12 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Fanzines on display from world's largest collection

Bob Backstrand says: "Saw your piece on the first issue of bOING bOING from 1989. Last year I built a web-site for UCR library and the worlds largest collection of fanzines. The fanzine link is my favorite. It was a lot of fun to produce and scanning through endless stacks of these zines was a real thrill."
 Spcol Eaton Image Dtny533292Letter writing and clubs were a solace to people passing through the Depression, especially when the topic of discussion was another world or a better future. Fanzine production, however, proliferated after World War II, following the curve of developing technology of reproductive printing devices accessible to the amateur. Some see a "golden age” of fanzine fandom occurring in the late 1950s through the 1960s. At this time, a split occurs in terms of editors’ and readers’ approach to the activity of fanzine writing and to the content of the fanzine. On one hand, there are fanzines that follow the “faanish” way, that is, focus on the activity of fandom rather than its “content” (SF literature). The motto here is the acronym FIJAGH, or “Fandom Is Just A Goddam Hobby.” These hobbyist fanzines are filled with gossip columns about events and members of what becomes, over the years, an increasingly incestuous group of fans. On the other hand, there are the “sercon” fanzines, meaning fanzines “of serious content,” focused on the sacred task of commenting on, and judging, the increasing output of SF/fantasy literature.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 06:39:29 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tiki bar guide updated with Google Maps

 Images Locations 275 119 Large Humuhumu says: "Hiya -- you guys mentioned my tiki bar directory, Critiki, last January (thank you very much!). Since your mention of Critiki almost a year ago, I've made some major additions to the site, including the incorporation of Google Maps to plot out the location of tiki bars on one handy map (it's fun to check out the satellite view of tiki bars in the Middle East!), a MASSIVE expansion of photos, and I've integrated it with my new tiki mug collecting website, Ooga-Mooga.com, so one can learn which mugs were used at each tiki bar over the years."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 06:15:09 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Art Dorks show in Atlanta, January 7

Artdorks Flyer The Art Dorks Collective is having a group show at the Youngblood Gallery on January 7th, 7-11pm. Plenty of great artists in this group.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 05:21:02 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Top ten simple circuits for DIYers

DIY Live presents a handy guide to the "Ten most needed circuits for the DIYer."
 Wp-Content Lm386Amplifier 6. There is much need for a simple audio amplifier. There are many ways to do this, one is to use a darlington transistor like my 1-watt amplifier, and another way is to use an opamp like my post on the CMOY pocket amplifier, but the best way is to use an LM386 chip. The different gains can be changed by changing the resistor values. C5 filters out the DC, and C4 and R1 act as a low pass filter. Go to warplink.com for the values to use for the comonents.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 05:14:55 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Penguin swiped from zoo

On Saturday, some jerk stole this baby penguin from Amazon World, a zoo on the Isle of Wight in Southern England. The bird, named Toga, is a Jackass Penguin (Spheniscus demersus), but I think the real jackass is the thief. From the Associated Press:
 Us.I2.Yimg.Com P Ap 20051220 Capt.Lon80312201723.Britain Stolen Penguin Lon803Zoo manager Kath Bright said the bird, who was taken from a compound where he lived with his parents and four other penguins, would probably die of malnutrition if not urgently returned.

"Toga is very, very vulnerable. The penguin is still being fed by his parents and we don't believe it could survive more than five days," she told The Associated Press.
Link (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!)

UPDATE: Many readers suggest this is a hoax, pointing to this children's book, this Snopes page, and this NPR report. However, I haven't seen any evidence convincing me that this particular story is fake. If it's revealed as a hoax, I'll be sure to post a correction.

UPDATE: According to the BBC News, a reward is now offered for the return of the penguin. Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 04:54:48 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

6000 people Clifford Pickover would like to meet

Psychedelic mathematician Clifford Pickover, author of "Sex, Drugs, Einstein, & Elves" and Godlorica blogger, is slowly posting a list called "The Six Thousand: 6000 intriguing people you want to meet online before you die." So far, the list includes the likes of extropian Natasha Vita-More, astrophysicist Fiorella Terenzi, artist Stelarc, USA National Memory Champion Tatiana Cooley, and our own Xeni Jardin! Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 04:32:02 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Dan McCarthy's drawings and paintings

 Jpegs Drawings 29.See.You.In.2002
I think Dan McCarthy's stark, moody drawings and paintings of telephone lines, landscapes, and skeletons are incredibly beautiful. This ink-on-paper illustration is titled "See You In 2002." Link (via Drawn!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 04:21:01 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Comic psyops: CIA's Grenada booklet from 1983 invasion

The comic book gem GRENADA: Rescued from Rape and Slavery was produced by the CIA and air-dropped over the island nation after the 1983 US-led invasion.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:46:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Stalin's army of man-apes

Recently-uncovered documents in Moscow apparently reveal that Josef Stalin hoped to crossbreed humans and apes to create superwarriors. In 1926, animal breeding scientist Illya Ivanov was sent to Africa with $200,000 to begin the project while a laboratory was established in Georgia. After the project didn't pan out, Ivanov was exiled to Kazakhstan. From The Scotsman:
According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat..."

Mr Ivanov's experiments, unsurprisingly from what we now know, were a total failure. He returned to the Soviet Union, only to see experiments in Georgia to use monkey sperm in human volunteers similarly fail.

A final attempt to persuade a Cuban heiress to lend some of her monkeys for further experiments reached American ears, with the New York Times reporting on the story, and she dropped the idea amid the uproar.

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:48:05 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

PARK(ing) urban art project

Last month, San Francisco art collective Rebar converted a downtown parking space into a temporary public park for the day. They installed grass, a bench, and a tree for shade right on the street. From the artists statement:
 Projects Parking Photos Src Parking 11...More than 70% of San Francisco's downtown outdoor space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that space is allocated to the public realm.

Feeding the meter of a parking space enables one to rent precious downtown real estate, typically on a 1/2 hour to 2 hour basis. What is the range of possible occupancy activities for this short-term lease?

PARK(ing) is an investigation into reprogramming a typical unit of private vehicular space by leasing a metered parking spot for public recreational activity...

By our calculations, we provided an additional 24,000 square-foot-minutes of public open space that Wednesday afternoon.
Link (via Laughing Squid)

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:36:38 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Astronaut reality TV show hoax revealed

Last month, Mark posted about a UK reality show called Space Cadets where three participants were allegedly tricked into thinking they were launched into space. The three have now been informed that they were scammed and were given £25,000 in cash prizes. (It wouldn't surprise me if the participants were in on the hoax too and that the real marks were the people who tuned in to the show.) From the BBC News:
"When I thought we were coming back to Earth I was planning my speech. I was going to say it had been my childhood dream. Now I'm a little bit heartbroken," (contestant Keri Hasset) said.

Ms Hasset, plasterer Paul French, 26 from Bristol, and footballer/recruitment consultant Billy Jackson, 25, from Kent, had suspicions they were being tricked when they had to hold a ceremony for a celebrity Russian dog called Mr Bimby on the spaceship.

"This is a spacecraft but it feels like a caravan," Paul told his fellow astronauts.

"And if we were going to space and they were weighing us for our health, they wouldn't use scales like you get at home, would they..."

"Aw man," said Paul. "We're not astronauts. We're just asses."

Reader comment: TheGilmanator says: "Because of the murmurs about the show I read on Boingboing I decided to search around for torrents of Space Cadets (I live in the US). Found the whole series two days ago (and the show ended 4 days ago). It's a bit lame, but it's a good watch, especially if you're interested in the psychology behind the whole thing."

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:27:17 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Blogger's favorite books of 2005

Newley Purnell asked a bunch of his favorite bloggers to write about their favorite books of the year. (I picked The Emperor of Scent). Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:24:30 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NYC Transit strike hits, traffic slower than a 1993 modem

The transit worker strike in New York brought the city's subways and buses to a halt today.

NYC bloggers are reporting events in detail. On the NYC Metblog, the group promises to cover everything "Blow by freakin' blow!"

Boing Boing reader Adam Fields says, "I took some pictures at the 96th Street blockades this morning, where the NYPD was preventing cars with fewer than 4 people from passing. Link."

Link to more photos tagged with "transit strike." Image by Flickr user "jenchung."

Boing Boing reader Jim Parsons wonders if this morning's strike announcement sounded anything like this.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:55:56 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Federal judge rules on Dumbass Design: science wins

Boing Boing reader Jim Tyre says,
A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled today that the Dover Area school board violated the Constitution when it required that Intelligent Design be taught as part of the biology curriculum.

But more than that, the judge apparently found that the school board members who supported the policy lied about their true motives: "We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," he wrote in his 139-page opinion.

Pending a thorough review of those 139 pages, it is unclear whether there was an mention of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Link to news story.

Joshua Shapiro adds,

The Dover "Intelligent Design" trial is over, and the good guys won! The Pennsylvania ACLU has excerpts and the full decision on their site: PDF Link. The judge fully recognized the absurdity of the ID proponents. Oh, that and acused them of lying. Not that he had much choice in the matter; they were pretty blatant. Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:46:36 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

UFO museum founder, "Flying Saucer" news release author dies

The army officer who wrote the original 1947 press release reporting that a "Flying Saucer" had been captured at a ranch in Roswell, New Mexico, has died. Walter Haut was also the co-founder of the International UFO Museum, which more than 2.5 million people have visited since it opened in 1992. Link to news story. (Thanks Radio guy)

Reader comment: DrakeGTA says,

You might be interested in the local paper's writeup on the subject.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:26:36 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Movie theater owners want to jam cellphone signals

John Fithian, head of the National Association of Theater Owners, says the trade group plans to petition the FCC for permission to block cellphone signals inside movie theaters.
That would require changing an existing regulation, he added. But some theaters are already testing a no-cellphones policy, asking patrons to check their phones at the theater door.

A spokesman for a cellphone lobby said the group would object to any regulatory change. "We're opposed to the use of any blocking technology, because it interferes with people's ability to use a wireless device in an emergency situation," said Joseph Farren, a spokesman for CTIA-the Wireless Association, based in Washington.

After that, NATO will ask the FCC for spectrum waivers on memory-zapping laser bombs that make audiences forget how crappy the movies were.

Link to NYT story, Link to UPI item, (Thanks, Bonnie!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:20:36 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Droidel, Droidel, Droidel

In this Star Wars project for children and full-grown nerds, "the dreidel and the droid R2-D2 combine to make Droidel." Print out the PDF, follow the instructions, pour yourself some soynog, then play. Gaming tip: Let the Wookiee win.
Link. (Thanks, Bonnie!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:10:34 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Nintendo threatens lawsuit over cancer gene "Pokemon"

Snip from News.com story:
The name of a cancer-causing gene has been changed from "Pokemon" to Zbtb7 after Pokemon USA threatened legal action to keep scientists from referring to the gene by the game's name, according to an article in science journal Nature.

In January's issue, geneticist Pier Paolo Pandolfi of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York describes the cancer-causing POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic gene, calling it Pokemon.

The gene in question is part of the POK gene family that encodes proteins that turn off other genes. POK proteins are critical in embryonic development, cellular differentiation and oncogenesis, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Link to News.com story, and Link to original report in Nature (Thanks, KidneyNotes!)

Reader comment: Aki Zeta-Five says,

You know there's a gene named after Sonic the Hedgehog? Link. I guess Sega is just more science-friendly than Nintendo.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:06:57 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Art school offers interplanetary flight course

Bruce Sterling may have bid farewell to the Art Center in Pasadena (he's off to Eastern Europe to write a new novel), but there are still many reasons to love the school. For instance, a course with the impossibly cool title "Basics of Interplanetary Flight". (Thanks, Urban Spaceman)

Reader comment: Ethan says,

Slovenian artist Marko Peljhan (who created the Makrolab, kind of an art/space environment on land) teaches a cool class at UC Santa Barbara called The Art and Science of Aerospace Culture. He has some software to do simulated satellite launches, uses XPlane for aerodynamic simulations and has fieldtrips to SpaceX among others in the LA area. As well they watch Barbaraella. Come on, that's cool. I TAed the class last year. The final project for the class is the design of an art/science object for low earth orbit.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:01:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

How to tell if the PSP you're buying is hackable

Tom says,
The letter just above the bar code on the product packaging lets you know which firmware version your PSP will come with before you shell out $250 for what may be something you did not want.

I have verified this to be true, my PSP was 1.51 and has a B on the box. As long as the version is 2.0 or lower, it can be upgraded to 2.0 (if necessary) and then downgraded to 1.5, allowing for homebrew programs such as the awesome pspradio (which allows me to listen to shoutcast stations anywhere with WiFi) or other OK programs like the notepad or filemanager, even ports of Quake and Doom. Using the quick guide (which could use some comments to confirm D and E), one can decide which PSP to give to your loved one for them to enjoy in more than just the Sony Approved ways.

Links: Firmware 2.0 (US), to upgrade to if you have anything higher than 1.5 but lower than 2.0; MPH Downgrader (to go from 2.0 to 1.5); Firmware 1.5 (To upgrade to from the fake 1.0 after the MPH Downgrade); PSP Homebrew; PSP Quake; Doom; PSP Radio (awesome).


posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:57:33 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bloggers, media ethicists respond to NYT's camwhore story

Snip from a sexerati post critiquing the epic-length New York Times feature on teen webcam site operators, Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World:
Why is this news now? Salon tread here first (“Candy from strangers”), long ago, back in 2001. What’s new now is that a former teen webcam site operator and owner, the subject of the lengthy and multiply sidebar-ed feature, after being approached by the Times journalist — who was, at the time, posing as a customer and fan — was urged by the journalist to end his involvement with his and related sites, and to pursue criminal charges against those he still knew in the online circles in which he profited, with legal assistance supported by the journalist.

All of which begs the question — how can one even report thoroughly on this issue without becoming a part of it, and how does that fundamentally compromise that reporting — which Slate’s Jack Shafer ("The New York Times Legal Aid Society: The newspaper helps a very young pornographer find a lawyer") candidly asks. Because we know the Times is having hard enough time lately with such issues. Adding teenagers and porn to the pot hardly clarifies things.

Link to full post.

Update: Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder covered the teen webcam porn subculture for Yahoo! Internet Life magazine way, way back in 2002: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:45:24 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Technorati's venti, triple-shot cup of new features (with foam)

David Sifry of Technorati tells Boing Boing,
We just launched a major update of our search results pages over at Technorati.com. You can read my blog post about it here. The idea was to make things much easier to use and understand, especially for newbies, while giving some kickass features for experienced users -- like dynamic charts of all search results and the ability to easily scope a search down to understand what a particular community was saying about the topic you're interested in.
Link. So far I'm digging the new Technorati Mini desktop tool. And don't forget this handy link for t'rati on mobile phones. (Thanks, Jason D!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:00:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Unfortunately suggestive food packaging

Boing Boing reader Anuj snapped this phonecam picture of a poorly-branded food product on the shelf in his neighborhood Asian food market.

Might go nicely with some Cup O' Pussy.
Reader comment: John Black says,

This product is a favourite of Vice Magazine's tidbits...there is a Tidbits issue out now with many many more amazing products. Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:25:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Monday, December 19, 2005

Unfortunate illo: "...and your little dog, too!"

Rest a jaded eye on this illustration at the top of the Slate.com homepage today, then ask not "What Not to Give," but "To Whom One Ought Not Be Giving It." Link to full-size copy of unintentionally suggestive editorial art, and here's the story.
(Thanks, embarassed mole!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 04:45:41 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

MP3s of Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong

200512191410 My favorite forbidden information muckraker, Russ Kick, says: "Violet Blue, Jill Morley, Libby Lynn, and Russ Kick read portions of their essays from the anthology 'Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong.'"

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:11:11 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Big controversy over Little Red Book / "DHS visits student" story

UPDATE: Report confirmed as hoax, Link to BB update.

Librarians, reporters, and bloggers are today debating whether this story about a student visited by DHS agents over a famous book of Mao Tse-Tung quotes is real or hoax.

Standard-Times reporter Aaron Nicodemus, who filed the article, maintains it is "is real and factual to the extent [he] reported."

But Jessamyn West, an elected Councilor of the American Library Association, says "The jury is still out... parts of the newspaper story don't add up."
Link to updated Boing Boing post with details.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:55:00 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Loren Coleman's list of the Top Cryptozoology Books of 2005

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman has posted his top picks for the best cryptozoology books of 2005. Remember, cryptozoology isn't just about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabras, or other celebrity "monsters." Cryptozoology is the "study of hidden animals," and Loren's list reflects that. At the top of his list is "The Lady and the Panda" by Vicki Constantine Croke. From Loren's review:
 Wp-Content Ladypanda It is a wonderful old-fashioned tome on the discovery of the giant pandas - one of last century’s most remarkable stories - and the relatively untold details of the woman who should get more credit for "finding" them. The search for the first live giant pandas is a fascinating but true tale of cryptozoology discovery, captured with adventure in The Lady and the Panda .

Vicki Croke’s book is an exciting, warm, and intriguing volume about Ruth Harkness’ personal journey to be the initial Westerner to catch and return with the first live giant pandas. This is a book I’ve wanted to write myself for years, and I’m glad to finally see someone, appropriately a seasoned woman writer, do a great job with this subject. The Lady and the Panda also gives due credit to Harkness’ Chinese guide and eventual lover Quentin Young, who showed her how to find the giant pandas.

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:54:47 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

KRON-TV: everyone in the newsroom is a one-man-band.

San Francisco's KRON recently became the first major-market TV station in the US to supply much of its newsoom staff with laptops and digital video cameras, then train them to shoot, write, and produce stories on their own. KRON calls them VJs. Others in the biz sometimes refer to the combo role as "sojo" (solo journalist) or "one-man-band," while a producer + editor mashup is a "preditor."

Here is the blog of one of KRON's VJs, Charley Bill: Link. Image above: Charley's VJ gear, in his office.

Snip from a critical analysis on Grade The News blog:

KRON hopes that low-cost techniques perfected on reality shows will bring the once high-flying station back to both journalistic excellence and competitiveness in Nielsen ratings. But critics say forcing journalists to become "one-man bands" who report, shoot and edit at the same time will lead to shoddier journalism, and eventually leaner news staffs.

The collapse of three distinct jobs into one delights the station's tech-savvy consultants for the same reasons it alarms some union officials and veteran journalists. KRON reporters, who rarely used to touch a camera, now are shooting their own video every day. Many photographers are reporting for the first time, which is sometimes apparent in video that ignores obvious story angles.

Cameraman Charles Clifford described himself in a blog entry about his retraining as "a guy who hasn't done any real writing since college." The reorganization has eliminated most editors. While a producer is supposed to review every story, outside observers worry about the loss of quality control.

Link to full text of post.

Media Orchard blog interviewed KRON's online news manager Brian Shields about the initiative, and he says:

Television is the ultimate 1.0, 'We talk, you shut up and watch' industry. That means the business model of local television news is fundamentally out of date. It's based on the concept that you're going to wait until 6:00, then we'll show you some things you may or may not care about, show you some commercials, show some more stuff you may or may not care about, show you some more commercials by which time it's quarter after the hour and lucky you, Scott, now we'll tell you the weather. Of course, now you get the weather when you want it online or on the Weather Channel or by RSS or...

So now we have a choice as an industry. We can sit around like many of the people quoted in this article, break open the scrapbooks, and pine for the good ole days of local TV news' mythical golden era. Or we can try to create something new that makes sense within today's economics and that at the same time fixes many of the existing problems with the genre.

Ask anyone outside our industry and they'll tell you, local television news SUCKS. It's the same stories, told in the same way and the only things different from one station to another are the blonde and the graphics package. Despite all of the money they used to have, television news executives never really changed the format from "the guy at the desk with the box over his shoulder." Despite the extravagances of the old system, it was still just six crews covering the market on any given day... never taking risks... just getting the easy stuff... the crime and the regurgitated newspaper story from that morning.

The VJ concept is, to me, a good try at fixing that.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:20:06 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photoshop retouching of model

Picture 5-14Interesting interactive Flash movie shows model retouching before and after.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:55:04 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Netflixsettlementsucks.com Objection Posted

Brandon says: "Christopher Ambler and his legal team have posted their draft objection to the proposed Netflix Settlement (the one that sucks) that Boing Boing wrote about last month.

"Anyone included in the settlement who haven't already opted out can sign onto the 27 page objection at netflixsettlementsucks.com."

Perhaps most ironically, if a significant number of class members do in fact submit claim forms, the result will be that NetFlix has to distribute hundreds of thousands of extra DVDs over a short period of time. Since there is no indication that NetFlix plans to expand its DVD inventory for this upsurge, the natural result will be that all of its subscribers will face significant delays in receiving the movies of their choice, all without being informed in advance of these delays; in other words, the “cure” will actually exacerbate the disease.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:44:18 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Moment of terror threat level zen: Yellow

A visit to the Department of Homeland Security website reveals that the nation's present threat level is under yellow status, elevated for "Significant Risk of Terror Attacks." Perhaps the imminent, closely-guarded travel trajectory of a certain North-Pole-dwelling magnate with mysterious funding ties is to blame?

Regardless, here are a few other things under yellow status today: an orchid, Big Bird, a spider on a flower, a phone book, rubber duckies, a Rockford Files ad, and grains of heirloom corn.

Bonus: While you're visiting the DHS homepage, check out this crazy photo of border patrol agents reaming frontera dirt on their dune buggies!

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:44:13 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

1960 film of first human in space the stratosphere

Picture 2-37 Neat video clip from 1960 of US Air Force's Joe Kittenger, who went up 30km a balloon and then jumped out of his capsule wearing a parachute.

Reader comment: Warren Grant says: " I think its a bit disingenuous to claim he was 'The First Man in Space' when even NASA agrees that the first man in space was Yuri Gagarin (see http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/multimedia/display.cfm?IM_ID=1832). It just struck me as kind of like rewriting history to make that claim, and although its a small point, its in effect a form of disinformation that seems out of keeping with the spirit of Boingboing. I am sure you don't want to misinform your readers and leave them with the impression that the US had the first man in space when even NASA doesn't make that claim. I know the US as the time was in tremendous shock to learn they hadn't been first, but posting stories that suggest otherwise is only contributing to the wishful thinking of those who would rewrite history."

Reader comment: Jason Finley says: "Warren Grant did well to point out that Yuri Gagarin was in fact the first human in space. To his comment I'd like to add the awesome fact that there is now an annual worldwide Space Party called Yuri's Night, held every April 12th to commemorate Gagarin's ground(space?)-breaking flight and celebrate unity in looking to the stars. 'Circling the Earth in the orbital spaceship I marvelled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty - not destroy it!' -- Yuri Gagarin.

"Also: I don't read Russian to confirm this form the website, but this would appear to be a video of Gagarin's flight."

Reader comment: Mitch says: "I just wanted to put in my 2 cents on this. The headline should definitely be changed from space to stratosphere. Whatever the source stated it is poor journalism to take such claims as fact. Especially when this is patently incorrect. "While the boundary of space as it relates to earth isn't 100% defined, 30 km is much too low. The United States defines space as 50 miles above sea level (approximately 80 km). Which is 2.6 times the height attained by this gentleman. I am not trying to play down his achievements, but the thought that a balloon which operates on the principle of being inside an atmosphere is in space is rather ludicrous. "He would have to move above 100 km above the earth to begin to be in air so rarified that normal aerodynamic surfaces no longer function. A balloon is of little help in this endeavor. "A useful introduction is on Wikipedia here."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:39:27 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Free 411 service

I know this has been around for a while, but I finally added 1-800-FREE411 to my cell phone's speed dial. My wife and I were spending up to $30 a month on Cingular's 411 service, which charges $1.29 per call. I'll never pay for 411 service again (it works on landlines, too). The catch? You have to listen to a 12 second advertisement if a related business has bought advertising. I'm willing to put up with that. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:26:08 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

RU Sirius interviews punk prototype Richard Hell

On this week's RU Sirius Show, they give a hearty thumbs up to the recent, scandalous police video and interview punk rock legend Richard Hell. And on NeoFiles, conceptual artist and Wired columnist Jonathon Keats talks about extraterrestrial art and locating god on the phylogenetic tree of life.
RU Sirius: The video definitely increased my respect for the police. A pretty well done cheesy video. The Charlies Angels parody was more like a parody of the soft core porn films that, in turn, parodied Charlies Angels in the 1970s. Very hip, self-referential, post-modern attempt by these members of the San Francisco Police Department.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:03:08 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NYC: Where are all the US Census race definitions at?

Comic artist Dorothy Gambrell (of Cat and Girl fame) whipped up some nifty maps of New York City that show ethnicity concentrations throughout the area based on 2000 census data. Where are all the White / Black / Asian / Latino people at, you ask? Link. (Thanks, Matt Winchll)

Previously: Dorothy Gambrell pie charts Google's "necessary" things

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:40:23 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Moment of Morning Musume zen

Boing Boing reader Recon says,

You guys posted a clip a while ago of Japanese pop group Morning Musume wearing meat on their heads and being chased by a lizard.

This is the same group, same game show, chasing American fighter Bob Sapp around the TV studio and trying to grab foam balls off his body.

Link to Morning Musume vs. Bob Sapp video.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:23:44 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

SNL short: Chronic of Narnia rap

Previously on Boing Boing, we've chronic-WHAT-cled the rise to fame of three comics who released shorts online under a Creative Commons license, then got big gigs on Saturday Night Live.

This week's Jack Black-hosted SNL episode included a digital short produced by the Lonely Island guys at their new NBC post. Thankfully, network television does not kill all good things: The Chronic-WHAT-cles of Narnia kicks just as much tuckus as the online shorts that made Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer web celebs in the first place. Watch the video: YouTube link, WMV link. (Thank you, Macki, thanks Jeff Holmes!)

A quick blog search Sunday returned tons of results for the video, ripped and hosted by fans. Wonder why NBC/SNL isn't offering clips on the official site? Seems like an obvious opportunity lost, given that they branded it as "AN SNL DIGITAL SHORT," anyway. Took 'em two days, but this short and others are now on the SNL site!

Bonus: I wrote a piece about the Lonely Island guys for this month's edition of Wired Magazine. Live, from New York!. Related Boing Boing posts:

Video: Bing Bong Bros (Ying Yang parody by "Lonely Island" SNLers)

"Creative Commons Comics" debut on SNL this weekend

"Creative commons comics" join Saturday Night Live cast

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:15:51 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

German gov blocks domestic access to body mod websites

Shannon Larratt, the proprietor of several popular but controversial websites devoted to body modification culture (piercing, tattoing, scarification, and the like), says
The German government has been moving forward with their plans to make linking to BME illegal, and have just had me de-listed from Google as an illegal content site.

(...)[When you Google 'BME' in Germany, you see a note which says] they have responded to a legal demand to remove three websites (ie. BME) from the search results. When you click through to the info site, here's what you get: A URL that otherwise would have appeared in response to your search, was not displayed because that URL was reported as illegal by a German regulatory body.

This is a process that the German government started back in 1999. To make a long story short, it is the contention of the German government, I believe incorrectly so, that BME must entirely block underage viewers from seeing anything on the site.

(...)I'm not sure what recourse I have, if any. I'm at additional risk because I'm a German citizen.

Link to post with details on Shannon's blog.

Reader Comment: Anonymous in Germany says,

i thought i'd chime in that the BME zine/google issue is real and at the end of the page i got this (same as the screenshot on the zentastic blog):

"Als Reaktion auf eine gesetzliche Forderung, die Google nach lokalem Recht gestellt wurde, haben wir 3 Seite(n) aus dieser Suchergebnisseite entfernt. Sie können die Beschwerde, die dieser Entfernung zugrunde liegt, unter ChillingEffects.org lesen."

Where "die Beschwerde" links to.

A simple work around is to click on the "google.com in english button" and search for BME there. The site is reachable from Kiel. So what's actually being accomplished here? Why is the German government harrassing these guys? What recourse do they have? And why are they doing such a half assed job?

Surely there must be a way to forge such notices and cause google to unlist parts of the german government!

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:54:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NSA domestic spying: reaction from a crypto mail-list moderator

Following up on last week's New York Times report that the president ordered the NSA to conduct surveillance ops against Americans without court warrant, Perry E. Metzger -- who moderates a popular mailing about cryptography -- writes:
There is no room for doubt or question about whether the President has the prerogative to order surveillance without asking the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] -- even if the FISC is a toothless organization that never turns down requests, it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, to conduct electronic surveillance against US citizens without court authorization.

The FISC may be worthless at defending civil liberties, but in its arrogant disregard for even the fig leaf of the FISC, the administration has actually crossed the line into a crystal clear felony. The government could have legally conducted such wiretaps at any time, but the President chose not to do it legally.

Ours is a government of laws, not of men. That means if the President disagrees with a law or feels that it is insufficient, he still must obey it. Ignoring the law is illegal, even for the President. The President may ask Congress to change the law, but meanwhile he must follow it.

Our President has chosen to declare himself above the law, a dangerous precedent that could do great harm to our country. However, without substantial effort on the part of you, and I mean you, every person reading this, nothing much is going to happen. The rule of law will continue to decay in our country. Future Presidents will claim even greater extralegal authority, and our nation will fall into despotism. I mean that sincerely. For the sake of yourself, your children and your children's children, you cannot allow this to stand.

Link to full text via Cryptome, where today you will also find FBI may search cryptome.org for JP spy link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:45:06 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Human Rights Watch: U.S. operated secret ‘Dark Prison’ in Kabul

The organization Human Rights Watch reports that a US-operated prison in Afghanistan kept detainees in total darkness while shackled to the walls for weeks at a time. Snip:
Eight detainees now held at Guantánamo described to their attorneys how they were held at a facility near Kabul at various times between 2002 and 2004. The detainees, who called the facility the “dark prison” or “prison of darkness,” said they were chained to walls, deprived of food and drinking water, and kept in total darkness with loud rap, heavy metal music, or other sounds blared for weeks at a time.

The detainees offer consistent accounts about the facility, saying that U.S. and Afghan guards were not in uniform and that U.S. interrogators did not wear military attire, which suggests that the prison may have been operated by personnel from the Central Intelligence Agency.

The detainees said U.S. interrogators slapped or punched them during interrogations. They described being held in complete darkness for weeks on end, shackled to rings bolted into the walls of their cells, with loud music or other sounds played continuously. Some detainees said they were shackled in a manner that made it impossible to lie down or sleep, with restraints that caused their hands and wrists to swell up or bruise. The detainees said they were deprived of food for days at a time, and given only filthy water to drink.

Link, and here is a related news story.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:32:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Police seize computers of BDSM webcam site operator

The Hartford-Courant reports that police forcibly searched the home of a woman who operated a commercial BDSM webcam site. They confiscated her computers and other belongings in an investigation for unspecified crimes:
Deputy Chief Carl Sferrazza said the Montano Road house was searched in November and that no charges have been filed against the woman, Michelle Silva. He would not say what kind of criminal activity is being investigated. Sferrazza said investigators seized computers along with a number of other items, which he would not specify.

He said police started investigating Silva early this year after neighbors complained of suspicious activity that included lots of traffic and people often coming to the house at night. Sferrazza said neighbors also saw a number of cars with out-of-state license plates. The computers are being examined at state police forensic computer lab. Sferrazza said the outcome of that examination will determine what police do next.

Silva said she obeyed all local and state laws in running the website and said the search violated her rights.

Link to story. And here is "Empress M"'s website. NSFW, duh. (Thanks, DJ Beatdonkadonk, via )

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:21:53 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Vintage Al-Anon Comics + happy liver-in-a-bag

These late '60s - early '70s comics promoting Al-Anon resemble ordinary dramatic strips of the era, but tell true tales of misery, desperation, and high-flyin' boozejinks. Link to comics gallery.

Bonus round: Why yes, my replacement liver will have another eggnog. An ad agency in San Francisco is sending out a grosser-than-gross holiday-party invite: a replacement liver in a bag.
(Thanks, Kim Cooper, also seen on screenhead; thanks Tim Nudd)

Reader Comment: John Mark Ockerbloom says,

Al-Anon did in fact spin off Alcoholics Anonymous. (It was founded by Lois Wilson, the wife of Bill. W who started Alcoholics Anonymous, and was designed for family and friends of alcoholics rather than alcoholics themselves. Link).

Later, Narcotics Anonymous and Nar-Anon were formed, in the spirit of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. I don't know if the same people were involved or not, but they both clearly walk in the AA 12-step tradition.

L. Ron Hubbard's drug rehab quackery and Scientology front is "Narconon". It has nothing to do with the other groups above, except for trying to sound like them.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:12:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Last Gasp holiday party snapshots

Scott from Bookmans says,
Both Laughing Squid and Bookmans have posted flickr sets from the holiday party at Last Gasp [Ed. note: one of the world's largest, oldest, greatest publishers and sellers of underground comix].

Link to Bookman's photo set, Link to Laughing Squid's.

From the Laughing Squid blog -- "Ron and Colin let us into the hall of oblivion early and we got some great shots of the collection....even the back room. Later, V. Vale and Charles Gatewood stopped by and party started and a great time was had by all for a good cause."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:04:13 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Imaginary Foundation's San Francisco t-shirt

I.Travel invited t-shirt designers Imaginary Foundation, K.S., MomiMomi, Brighton Park Press, and Empire State, to create designs expressing what their home city means to them. Visitors to the I.Travel site are asked to vote on their favorite shirt with the most popular garment to be featured in Nylon magazine. Of course, I'm particularly fond of the Imaginary Foundation's mindbending impression of San Francisco. From the Imaginary Foundation's artist statement:
Itravel-ImaginaryTimothy Leary had a theory that the edge of culture is moving westward, from China to Western Europe, to the new world and now, the westcoast. Sometimes on a Sunday evening We’ll stand on a hillside in San Francisco and look westward to the pacific and beyond. It’s then, in the numinous glow of magic hour, We can see the soul of San Francisco twinkle.
Link to Imaginary Foundation, Link to the I.Travel voting page

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:10:58 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"I FU*KED ALEC BALDWIN IN HIS A*S" (sic) author at it again

The New York Post reports:

Dessarae Bradford -- the wacky former phone-sex operator who sued Colin Farrell for harassment this year and self-published a book about an alleged erotic encounter with Alec Baldwin -- has recorded a dance single. Bradford kindly sent us a copy of the song, "I [bleeped] Alec Baldwin (Colin Farrell Is My Bitch)," in which she utters the tasteless title over a vintage house-music beat and purrs, "Sit! Beg! Fetch!" Bradford failed a lie-detector test concerning her allegations about Farrell, who claims he's never met her, on PAX-TV's "Lie Detector" show. Bradford cussed out host Rolonda Watts and claimed the test was rigged.

Link (Thanks, internet lady!).

And IFABIHA -- her tell-all tome about that night with Alec Baldwin, a dog, and a chocolate bar -- is still for sale online. Snip:

In Sept. 2002, I fu**ed Alec Baldwin in his a** in a hot, sweaty, nasty sex romp. Read the story that will change lives. Be the first one on your block to have the nitty gritty about that night, that will be only told in my book. Grab the scoop before my story gets into the hands of the media, and they attemp to censor it. I had Alec Baldwin on all four's for me, and S/M was involved.
Those who doubt the book's literary merit need only skim the table of contents for proof. Chapter one, "All about the Willy and the Coochie." Chapter two, "My Day Began with Wolfgang." Chapter three, my personal favorite -- "Stumbling Into His Chest Hairs."

Previous Boing Boing posts about the lovely and talented Miss Bradford:

I F***ED ALEC BALDWIN IN HIS A**, Update 1, Update 2.

Reader-submitted reality mashup request: Using his "serious" voice, reader Michael Slater asks,

What happens if I request I Fu*ked Alec Baldwin In His A*s via interlibrary loan? Does DHS visit?

posted by Xeni Jardin at 02:51:06 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

DHS agents visit student over Little Red Book - HOAX DEBATE

UPDATE: Report confirmed as hoax, Link to BB update.

Widespread debate today over whether the South Coast Today story "DHS visits student over Little Red Book" is a hoax, or contains unsubstantiated non-facts. But the reporter who filed it maintains otherwise; update and details at bottom of this post.

A Massachussetts paper is reporting that a college student was visited by Department of Homeland Security agents in October after requesting a copy of Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung -- better known as "The Little Red Book" -- from a university library:

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

Link to news report.

Attention, comrades! Subversive cesspool Amazon.com sells copies of this watchlisted terrorist manual. Here's the link where you can buy a copy before you invite the DHS over for eggnog. (Thanks, Nat, and the approximately ten gajillion other fellow travelers who suggested this item.)

Reader comment: Glenn Fleishman says,

Not that this excuses the government's action, but, in fact may chill us further: the student requested "the official Peking version." So it's not JUST he asked for Mao's book, but rather he asked for original source material (an authorized, unabridged translation into English).

Reader comment: Michael Benveniste says,

1. UMass Dartmouth does not use SSN's for student ID's. An interlibrary loan request by SSN would seem to violate the University's own privacy policies (Link).

2. The reporter has not talked to the student. He has talked to the professors, who told him what the student claimed happened. The professors have no first hand knowledge of the incident.

3. It seems a little unlikely that UMass Dartmouth wouldn't have the Little Red Book on Campus. [Ed.: see below]

4. The professors only "went public" with the story in response to a query about domestic wiretapping.

I think it's at least equally likely that the student made up an excuse for not doing some work, and that the professors bought into it enough to advance their own agenda.

Reader comment: Nicolas D. P. says:
UMass Darmouth does not in fact have an unabridged version of the little red book on campus as far as their library system can tell: Link
UPDATE: Speculation growing that the whole thing's a hoax. A post on the Librarian and Information Science News blog says:
There is now another version of this story about a Dartmouth student who received a visit from Homeland Security after requesting an original version of Mao's Little Red Book. The latest version takes place at University of California/Santa Cruz and mentions History Professor Bruce Levine. I emailed Levine to see if he could verify the story, but my email was the first he'd heard about it. He was a bit amused, as his specialty is Civil War history, and curious about his name got tacked on to the story. ALA's Public Information Office is digging into the story as well. More details as they become available!

UPDATE: Standard-Times reporter Aaron Nicodemus, who wrote the news report in question, responds to allegations that the U.Mass incident is a hoax, and to "copycat" reports of DHS visits to student(s) at another college in California:

The UCSC story is a fake, someone merely replaced the names of the professors I quoted and took the story as his own.

But my story, published in The Standard-Times on Saturday, Dec. 17, is real and is factual to the extent I reported.

I am trying to convince the student to come forward, and for the university library loan system to come clean about its involvement, and of course, for the Department of Homeland Security to admit it visited the student.

I hope to have an update published soon.

(Thanks, Jason Schultz)

UPDATE: Jessamyn West says,

I maintain the website librarian.net. I'm also an elected memeber of the Council of the American Library Association. We've been going back and forth on this issue for most of the day. Here is what we know.

1. I emailed with the reporter. He claims the story about the UCSC library is copied form his, that his is the original and cites the two professors as sources. He says that he has been trying to get the student to come forward to tell his story. Link

2. the book does not come from UMass Dartmouth, that is why it needed to be ILL'ed. The library belongs to a consortium and the copy of the book [that the agents brought to the student's house... I know, sounds fishy to me too] was from a library in nearby Providence, not part of Dartmouth's virtual catalog. Link

In any case, I think the jury is still out, Lots of parts of the newspaper story don't add up BUT the reporter is contactable and so is at least one of the two professors who has been cited in the article [my emails to the second professor have not yet been returned] which is not the case withe the bizarre reprinting of the story with a West Coast school implanted in it. Council has been sort of paying attention to this issue, so more may turn up on the listserv as the day goes on. Link

UPDATE: An anonymous reader says,
This is from the blog maintained by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), who are the folks who know the most about anything going on with college or university libraries. UMass Dartmouth issued a statement providing reassurance that the library did not participate in violating the student's rights. The student requested the book through another library, not UMass Dartmouth's. The author of the blog entry checked UMass Dartmouth's ILL form and discovered it doesn't ask for social security number. Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 02:20:14 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Web zen: holiday zen

twin peaks 12 days of christmas
letters to walken
snow globes
santa snaps
hack santa
plush nativity
christmas cards
ny snow globe
mutant snowflakes
spiky star
mac ornaments
mistletoe and meat

and the annual...
chaoskitties in snowsuits

web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:46:04 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee starts a blog

Sir Timothy "Tim" John Berners-Lee, the man who created the World Wide Web, now keeps a diary on the intermablogomosphere. Snip:
In 1989 one of the main objectives of the WWW was to be a space for sharing information. It seemed evident that it should be a space in which anyone could be creative, to which anyone could contribute. The first browser was actually a browser/editor, which allowed one to edit any page, and save it back to the web if one had access rights.

Strangely enough, the web took off very much as a publishing medium, in which people edited offline. Bizarely, they were prepared to edit the funny angle brackets of HTML source, and didn't demand a what you see is what you get editor. WWW was soon full of lots of interesting stuff, but not a space for communal design, for discource through communal authorship.

Now in 2005, we have blogs and wikis, and the fact that they are so popular makes me feel I wasn't crazy to think people needed a creative space.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:12:10 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Gaim 2.0 beta released

Whoopee! There's a new edition of popular multi-protocol instant messaging software Gaim. The app allows you to simultaneously connect to Yahoo, AOL, MSN, ICQ, and so on, using Linux, Mac, or Windows operating systems.

Here's the changelog, with lots of nifty new features. Read warning label carefully before installing the beta: "Side-effects include awesomeness, dumbfoundedness, dry mouth and lava."Link (via /.)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:03:00 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Ginormous lime of Thailand

BB reader "B" says, "Possibly a result of mutation, this lime tree bears more than 100 limes -- each lime is very big with the biggest (5 1/2" diameter) weighs in at 1.5kg or 3.3 pounds. Four of these limes give 500cc juice that tastes exactly like lime juice from a normal sized lime." Link to news story in Thai language.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:40:22 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Saturday, December 17, 2005

bOING bOING zine PDF: now smaller, more compatible

Picture 1-59 A few people have emailed me to let me know that the PDF of bOING bOING no. 1 (my print zine from 1989) was not working for them. If you had trouble opening the file, try this version. It is smaller (11MB instead of 16MB) and compatible with earlier versions of Acrobat Reader.

Reader comment: Simon says: "The compatibility problems are mainly with mac users not using acrobat. all macs running OS X come standard with apple's own 'acrobat' called 'preview'.

"preview reads .pdf files just like acrobat and i've never had a problem with it until i downloaded your boing boing zine! yeah for some reason (i don't know?) the boing boing zine in apple's preview just came up dead blank ...nuthin' ! it did show that the document was 32 pages - but every one of them 32 pages had zero content.

"so i then opened the .pdf in photoshop - and that actually worked! but photoshop had to rasterize the whole document first before i could view it.

"so yeah ...then i downloaded acrobat reader for mac OS X and it worked fine - i could see the zine! ...yay!

"so yeah ...i'd say 90% of boing boing readers would have acrobat reader already.

"but then you got those pesky mac users who have never downloaded acrobat cuz they've always just used apple's preview.

"anyhow, the zine was a great read - a blast from the past!"

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 04:46:45 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Horrorshow magazine, Illustration, and the future of Comic Art

Illustrationmag Comicart Coverone
Two of my favorite art magazines are Illustration and Comic Art. They're both beautifully designed and filled with stunning historical and contemporary work, much of which is entirely new to me.

The next issue of Illustration is a special issue on Bernie Fuchs, who painted portraits of US presidents and famous sports figures like Muhammmad Ali and Jack Nicklaus. Link

Meanwhile, with issue #8 Comic Art is shifting from magazine format to perfect bound annuals. The first Comic Art book will be published by Buenaventura Press in Spring 2006 and I can't wait! Equally exciting is that Comic Art founding editor, Todd Hignite, just completed a book for Yale University Press compiling the magazine's excellent "In the Studio" features, where the likes of Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, and Art Spiegelman talk about their backgrounds and styles, and show work by the artists that influenced them. The new book will include four visits that didn't appear in the magazine, including the studios of Robert Crumb, Jaime Hernandez, and Gary Panter. Link

And I just found out that the founding publishers of Comic Art and Illustration have launched another magazine, Horrorshow! From the magazine's Web site:
Once upon a time, only boring, cookie-cutter horror magazines roamed the land. They terrorized fans with their press release-style stories and monotonous actor interviews. Occasionally they would throw in a photo of a mask or an action figure here or there, but they really only cared about making lots of money by covering the "latest and greatest" Hollywood film in the most generic, clichéd way possible.

But then, there came HORRORSHOW... And the collectors rejoiced.

From the publishers of ILLUSTRATION and ILLUSTRATION '05 comes HORRORSHOW, a stunning, full-color magazine for the monster fan and horror collecting community. Each quarterly issue of HORRORSHOW spotlights the best of the best from around the horror scene — including latex masks, vinyl and resin kits, PVC figures, props, and more — as well as in-depth, behind-the-scenes interviews with the artists and designers who bring these frightening creations to life.

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:46:41 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Lyrics Dustup Ends in Apology

Snip from a report I filed for Wired News:
Facing an upswell of protest, Warner Chappell Music on Friday formally apologized to Walter Ritter over a letter it sent to the software programmer earlier this month targeting a helper application for Apple's iTunes called pearLyrics.

"The goal of Warner/Chappell's prior letter to pearworks was to gain assurance that pearLyrics operated according to (copyright) principles. However, in both tone and substance, that letter was an inappropriate manner in which to convey that inquiry. Warner/Chappell apologizes to Walter Ritter and pearworks."

(...)Ritter says Warner Chappell is now talking with him about ways to create lyrics search tools with the blessing of music publishers, but the experience will cause him to think twice before committing his next big idea to code.

One of Ritter's recent brainstorms -- an application that queries lyrics data online to help music fans choose tracks based on themes, like "love" or "breakup" -- may now remain only an idea, he says.

"I'm concerned with how I should go on with software development, because this will be a potential issue -- every time I come up with something that people like, someone might say 'you can't do that, it's illegal and it infringes copyright," Ritter told Wired News. "It's getting really difficult to be innovative as a small developer."


posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:49:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Friday, December 16, 2005

DNA mutation accounts for white skin

Penn State University scientists claim to have discovered a genetic mutation responsible for the emergence of white skin between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago. From the Washington Post:
The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of "the race gene." Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is -- and is not.

In fact, several scientists said, the new work shows just how small a biological difference is reflected by skin color. The newly found mutation involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome -- the complete instructions for making a human being.

"It's a major finding in a very sensitive area," said Stephen Oppenheimer, an expert in anthropological genetics at Oxford University, who was not involved in the work. "Almost all the differences used to differentiate populations from around the world really are skin deep."
Link (Thanks, Vann Hall!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 03:56:10 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Coop reports back from Masters of American Comics in LA

Artist Coop went to the Masters of American Comics show yesterday at the UCLA Hammer Museum, and wrote a terrific trip report. It's a treat reading one of the world's finest illustrator's thoughts on the best pre-1950s cartoonists.
200512161503Fortunately, George Herriman's Krazy Kat original art was better represented in the show. The members of our party spent a lot of time poring over Herriman's originals, marvelling at the loose, gestural inking. Herriman achieved a lot of his inking effects by scraping ink away from the surface, either with a pen point or razor blade. This was particularly scary to the more anal members of our group. (myself included!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:05:08 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Congress: "Merry Chrismas! We're Turning Off Your Analog Outs"

Alex says: "The House Judiciary Committee today introduced a bill (HR 4569) to close the analog hole.

"The government is proposing that devices (consumer electronics, computers, software) manufactured after a certain date respond to a copy-protection signal or watermark in a digital video stream, and pass along that signal when converting the video to analog. The same goes for analog video streams, to pass on the protection to the digital video outputs.

"The technology Congress is proposing (VEIL) is derived from one that originated with assorted interactive Batman toys that allowed the toys to respond to Batman television shows or videos. How cool—at least for toys.

"The government wants your future TV, TiVo, computer, cell phone, Final Cut Pro, (input your favorite analog signal viewing / converting device here) to respond to the Bat Signal." Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:15:11 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Groovetube makes TV worth watching

200512161411The Groovetube is a piece of plastic that clips on to your TV set, turning the image into a handful of giant square pixels. Looking at it makes me want to play that game "Don't Break the Ice."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:10:51 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

PDF of first issue of bOING bOING from 1989

Bb01 01 Here's an early holiday present: a scan of the entire first issue of bOING bOING, the print zine that preceded Boing Boing, the blog. I think most BB readers don't know that we started as a zine. Our first issue was printed in 1989, and only 100 copies were made. Now, 16 years later, I doubt more than 10 copies remain on the face of the Earth.

This 36-page issue has an interview with my hero, Robert Anton Wilson, an article about the wonders of public-key crytography, a piece about lucid dreaming, an interview with the 1988 Libertarian candidate for the US Senate, reviews of zines, comics, books, and software, and lots of comics by me and my friends. The writing is clunky and the design is even more clunky, but I think it resonates nicely with the Boing Boing of 2005. Enjoy!
Link to 16MB PDF file

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:38:40 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Senate rejects extension of Patriot Act

I can't think of a better Christmas present for the citizens of the United States than this!
"The Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the USA Patriot Act as infringing too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47."

Link (thanks, Cory!)

Reader comment: Danny says: "You can mail to say thanks to the senators standing up to PATRIOT from the EFF's Action Center. Rumor has it that Frist is going to keep trying to take the vote until Dec 31." Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:21:09 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mona Lisa's emotions decoded

MonaScientists used a new algorithm to analyze the emotion reflected in Mona Lisa's smile. New Scientist reports that the software, developed by the University of Amsterdam and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, measures lip curvature and eye wrinkles and then rates the face based on six emotions. Apparently, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful and 2 percent angry.
Link (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:34:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cory going away until Jan 1

I'm going on a much-needed offline holiday between now and January 1, 2006. Save your email until then, or send me a message to get some substitute addresses for other people you can write to if you need an urgent reply. Remember that you should always send Boing Boing suggestions to the form here, and not to my email address. The rest of the Boing Boing editors will be posting until they go on their own holidays, of course!

Happy holidays! See you in 2006!

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:58:39 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sony DRM Debacle Roundup Part V

Here's the last 2005 installment of the Sony DRM Debacle, posted moments before I leave on vacation -- tune in after Jan 1 to see what new disasters Sony can create for itself by deploying technology that punishes people who buy its products instead of downloading them from P2P networks.
Dec 5: Sony rootkit ripped off anti-DRM code to break into iTunes
Code from the Free/Open Source program DRMS was illegally included in the XCP rootkit -- and Princeton researchers Felten and Halderman reveal why: in order to sneak Sony music onto the iPod without giving Apple a cut of the sale through the iTunes Music Store.

Dec 6: Sony *finally* releases rookit uninstaller -- sort of
65 days after being put on notice about the XCP rootkit on 50+ of its CD Sony releases an "uninstaller," but the fine-print makes it clear that this doesn't really uninstall anything.

Dec 6: Musician: DRM screws my fans, so it screws me
Damien Kulash, the lead singer for the band OK Go, has a great editorial in the NYTimes today, describing why DRM systems are bad for artists.

Dec 6: EFF forces Sony/Suncomm to fix its spyware -- UPDATED
After intense pressure from EFF, Sony releases an uninstaller for the Mediamax spyware that comes on music CDs from Sony and other music companies.

Dec 7: Sony's DRM security fix leaves your computer more vulnerable
Princeton DRM researchers Halderman and Felten publish their investigation into the uninstaller that Sony has provided for the Mediamax spyware -- turns out that the uninstaller creates even more vulnerabilities.

Dec 9: EFF to Sunncomm: release a list of all infected CDs!
EFF petititons Sunncomm, makers of the MediaMax spyware, to release a list of all infected CDs and to institute policies for future policies.

Dec 14: Sony Artists offering home-burned CDs to replace spyware-infected discs
Sony refuses to recall CDs infected with Sunncomm's MediaMax spyware, so some artists are running their own recall programs, offering home-burned CDs to fans who complain that the software prevents them from ripping their CDs.

Dec 15: HOWTO make a DRM CD
Alex Halderman, one of the Princeton researchers who's been doggedly revealing the tricks, nastiness, cheating and lies in the Sony DRM Debacle, has published a detailed HOWTO explaining how to make your own malicious "industrial strength" DRM CD, just like Sony's. The perfect project for your holiday break!
Previous installments of the Sony DRM Debacle Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part VI

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:56:56 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Commercial Commons: standard commercial licenses

OpenBusiness.cc's Christian Ahlert sez, "We just posted a new license that's meant to help artists and creative entrepreneurs who want to enter into a commercial relationship without using a lawyer. The license was drafted by Creative Commons South Africa -- one partner of OpenBusiness.

"It is designed to assist creators who release work under a Creative Commons license and want to engage with a publisher or gallery (for example) in a commercial relationship. They can use the Model Agency Agreement to structure the commercial relationship. The document provides a way to by-pass the legal costs of entering a commercial relationship. In this way it very much acts like a Creative Commons license, as it provides a free tool for creators to specify their rights and demands. In that sense one can call it a Commercial Commons License." Link (Thanks, Christian!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:49:50 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bush and Hume discuss the iPod

On Fox News Wednesday night, Brit Hume interviewed George Bush about his iPod. Today's Washington Post has the transcript. It's really an insightful conversation that reveals the true brilliance of these men. From the article:
Unidentified male: . . . which ones do you play?

Bush: All of these. I put it on shuffle. Dwight Yoakam. I've got the Shuffle, the, what is it called? The little.

Hume: Shuffle.

Bush: It looks like.

Hume: The Shuffle. That is the name of one of the models.

Bush: Yes, the Shuffle.

Hume: Called the Shuffle.

Bush: Lightweight, and crank it on, and you shuffle the Shuffle.
Link (Thanks, David "Swapdrive" Steinberg!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:35:34 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

What would a Unicorn do? folder

Dave Thau says:
UnicornfolderI've been walking around UC Davis today with my new "What Would A Unicorn Do?" deluxe spin folder. Inside, the Unicorn Code reminds me that Unicorns Don't Cheat on Tests, and Unicorns Don't Do Drugs, among other important things. I *heart* my "What Would A Unicorn Do?" folder! There's nothing like it to give your day a little boost, over and over again.

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:23:07 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

God Is A Moog t-shirt

GodmoogIn August, I posted about Reboot Stereophonic, a new non-profit record label reissuing vintage space age Jewish music like the Irving Field Trio's "Bagels and Bongos" from 1959 and a Gershon Kingsley compilation called "God Is A Moog." My friend David Katznelson, proprietor of the killer Birdman Records label (home to Paula Frazer and Modey Lemon) is co-curating the selections. Now, Reboot Stereophonic has issued a limited number of "God Is A Moog" t-shirts, perfect loungewear for any space age bachelor or bachelorette.

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:57:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Deepak Chopra's Kama Sutra

According to Publishers Weekly, Deepak Chopra has received a six-figure advance from Virgin Books to rewrite Vatsyayana's Kama Sutra. An article in yesterday's HindustanTimes has a bit more detail:
The deal has been described as bringing together two of India's well-known and established brands. The book might be called Deepak Chopra's Kama Sutra: Timeless Erotica for the Virgin Mind...

Originally the (Kama Sutra) served purely as erotic literature for kings and queens, said Chopra. But he believes that there is a great connection between sexuality and spirituality. He wants to explore that and take the carnal experience to new heights of spiritual ecstasy. Link
And here's Guruphiliac's take on it:
As much as we find Chopra a pabulum factory for Hollywood's seeker set, he's sidled right on up to the next hottness in spirituality: freedom from sexual guilt and Victorian-era moral repression.

While we're sure Chopra will palpify it in no time, it's still a signficant development in the alternative spiritual scene. But just because Chopra is Indian doesn't mean he's a master of doing it. It's too bad Virgin didn't have the vision to hire someone with more affinity for the subject matter. We imagine rock star Tommy Lee and a bevy of beautiful Sanskrit scholars locked in a hotel room for a week could take the centuries-old text to a whole new level of the erotic. Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:40:50 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

NSA spies on US: calls, emails intercepted without warrants

A reminder that encryption and anonymizing tools for digital communications are the friends of liberty, even when governments are not. Snip from NYT story today:
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.


Reader comment: Mark says,

Here is an interview (RealAudio Link) with David Skillicorn, a professor of computing at Queen's University. Starting at about 4:40 into the interview (near the end), David notes that there is a confederation of five countries which look at Internet traffic (including email) whose destination is outside of those five countries. Originally linked from (Link); second RealAudio link on the right.

Reader comment hllc says,

This American Life did a great story almost 3 years ago on the Orwellian world of FISA courts (i.e. where the NSA would go if it were actually getting a warrant.) Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:11:59 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Vintage 8mm porn photos

Photoset of vintage porn photos taped to the outside of boxes that once held rolls of 8mm film. Sexually explicit, NSFW. Link to B&W set, Link to color.
(Thanks, eo)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:16:50 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Google launches Gmail edition for mobile devices

If you use Gmail, and the web browser on your mobile device supports SSL and XHTML, there is a high probability you'll think Google Mail Mobile is bitchin'. Link, just launched today. (via Wayne Correia's list, thanks Chris Desalvo, and simon.nielsen)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:16:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Warner/Chappell Music apologizes to PearLyrics

Two days ago, the EFF distributed an open letter by Fred Von Lohmann that slammed Warner/Chappell Music for bullying PearLyrics into shutdown. The helpful little app acts like a specialized web browser. When you're playing a song in iTunes, PearLyrics automatically scours the internet for lyrics, then adds that text to the song file's metadata (and as every digital music fan knows: mo data, mo betta).

Today, W/C chairman Richard Blackstone and Jane Dyball, who handles the label's legal affairs in Europe, apologized to the Austrian programmer who created PearLyrics. Snip from Billboard analysis:

W/C’s apology was the right move, but may have come as a result of a publicly posted argument from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Not only was [Walter] Ritter’s application probably legal in the United States, reasoned the EFF, but such threats against U.S. developers could open Warner Music Group to federal liability.

The music industry might want to think these actions through more thoroughly, and not just to avoid legal strife. Dyball’s letter to PearLyrics was copied to Kevin Saul, an Apple Computer lawyer, and links to similar applications quickly disappeared from the Apple Web site.

This was two opportunities lost. For one, by taking the text from illegal lyrics sites, applications such as Ritter’s—which seek no revenue and are, at least arguably, legal—were taking eyeballs away from, and thus diminishing the ad revenue of the very illegal, very revenue-seeking sites that archive and distribute unlicensed lyrics.

Major rights holders confronted with these grass-roots software developments might also consider embracing them as possible new business models as aggressively as they have been in recent years about shutting them down. How many casual music fans currently pay for lyrics?



Warner Music attacks specialized web-browser

PearLyrics shutown: EFF's open letter to Warner Music

Update: Walter Ritter has posted the joint announcement on his website, along with his thoughts on the debacle, and his thanks to the EFF. Link. And incidentally, Friday is Mr. Ritter's birthday.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:38:44 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Army officer charged with using Iraq $$ to pimp out her NJ crib

If this were a reality TV show, instead of reality, they'd call it "Extremely Corrupt Home Makeover: Iraq Edition."

A female Army officer has been charged with using money intended for reconstruction in the holy cities of Iraq to pimp out her New Jersey crib with a bangin' new deck and a hot tub. Oh yeah -- and then there was the ill-gotten Escalade...

Lt. Col. Debra Harrison is the fourth person to be arrested and charged in the scandal, and the second army officer. Snip from a report by James Glanz in Friday's New York Times:

An Army lieutenant colonel who received the bronze star for her wartime service in Iraq was arrested yesterday and charged with taking bribes in a growing corruption scandal involving the Iraq reconstruction program. An investigation has jolted the program, embarrassed the United States military and exposed a dark underside of the American occupation authority that ran the country after the invasion in April 2003. (...)

She is charged with receiving cash bribes of $80,000 to $100,000, a Cadillac Escalade, a trove of illegal weaponry and other items for steering construction jobs to an American contractor in Iraq.

Some of the cash, intended for projects like a library in the holy city of Karbala and an Iraqi police academy south of Baghdad, paid for a new hot tub and a deck for Colonel Harrison's home in Trenton, according to the federal affidavit. Conviction on the charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery and money laundering as well as a long list of weapons charges, could put her in prison for up to 30 years, the Justice Department said in a statement.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:13:51 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

How soon after marriage do Japanese brides cut the cheese?

 Archives Fartfrequency From Tokyo Times: "As the pie chart above graphically demonstrates, Japanese ladies appear to simply fart for fun; with nearly half of them practically pumping their way through the first year of marriage."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:36:34 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Book for adoptive parents: A Love Like No Other

200512152031 My friend Pam Kruger co-edited an anthology for adoptive parents.

She says: "Penguin's Riverhead imprint just published my book, A Love Like No Other: Stories from Adoptive Parents, an anthology that I put together with fellow journalist Jill Smolowe. Unlike most books about adoption, ours is not about wanting a child or the process of adopting. Instead, it focuses on the special issues, challenges, and pleasures that can arise in actually raising the child.

"There really hasn't been a book like this before, despite the fact American families are raising some 2 million adopted kids."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:30:18 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Web Zen: home decorating

brini maxwell
more pillows
knife set

handmade modern

web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:57:44 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Ren and Stimpy artist has a serious side

200512151521 Bill.. ahem William Wray says: "Some of you guys may have heard of me as Bill Wray, the guy who's known for his gross out paintings on the Ren and Stimpy show, his strip in Mad magazine and my collaboration with Mike Mignola on Hellboy Jr. The thing that I hope is interesting about what I'm doing is that I'm making a drastic mid-life change of moving from cartooning to doing fine art urban landscape work. I've come to the point where I can't stand being art directed anymore.

"It's not easy to start over from scratch, even when your skilled it's though getting a gallery so I'm looking for promotion anyway I can get it. Hope you will consider covering my site and blog. The site just has the paintings, the blog has little brief stories about the process of doing them. I hope you find it worthy."
I think his work is gorgeous. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:20:14 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Teenager in Nepal said to have been meditating for 6 months with no water

A 15-year-old Nepalese boy has been meditating for six months straight without drinking water, so say the locals of his village. Some are saying his is the "Buddha-reincarnate." Scientists plan to observe him around the clock to see if he is sneaking food and water.
200512151517 Bamjan has spoken only a few times since he began the meditation, according to Prem Lama.

He said the first time Bamjan spoke was when a snake bit him around a month ago.

Bamjan took the incident as his second test, which he must overcome, Prem Lama said.

In the first test he was also bitten by a snake - three months after he began the meditation.

Link (thanks, cyril!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:16:37 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cousteau's Shark Sub

Jacques Cousteau's grandson Fabien co-designed a shark-shaped submarine to study Great Whites. Covered in a skin-like material, the sub is propelled by a silent motorized tail fin. From National Geographic:
 News 2005 12 Photogalleries Sharks Submarine Cousteau Images Primary 7 Shark SubmarineCousteau calls the sub Troy, in reference to the mythical Trojan horse statue, in which Greek soldiers were spirited into the fortress kingdom of Troy.

The idea for the sub, though, came from a slightly more prosaic source.

Troy was inspired by Tintin, a Belgian comic book character. On the cover of the book Le Trésor de Rackham le Rouge (published in English as Red Rackham's Treasure), Tintin and his dog are pictured in a metal, shark-shaped submarine.
Link (via MAKE: Blog)

posted by David Pescovitz at 03:00:45 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Stretchable silicon

Researchers have developed a form of single-crystal silicon that can be stretched so that electronic circuits could be fabricated on rubber. To prove the concept, professor John Rogers, a materials scientist at at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Chamapign, and his colleagues made diodes and transistors that matched the performance or rigid devices, but "could be repeatedly stretched and compressed without damage." From a press release:
 Websandthumbs Rogers,John Sem2 B Functional, stretchable and bendable electronics could be used in applications such as sensors and drive electronics for integration into artificial muscles or biological tissues, structural monitors wrapped around aircraft wings, and conformable skins for integrated robotic sensors, said Rogers...

To create their stretchable silicon, the researchers begin by fabricating devices in the geometry of ultrathin ribbons on a silicon wafer using procedures similar to those used in conventional electronics. Then they use specialized etching techniques to undercut the devices. The resulting ribbons of silicon are about 100 nanometers thick – 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

In the next step, a flat rubber substrate is stretched and placed on top of the ribbons. Peeling the rubber away lifts the ribbons off the wafer and leaves them adhered to the rubber surface. Releasing the stress in the rubber causes the silicon ribbons and the rubber to buckle into a series of well-defined waves that resemble an accordion.

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:02:12 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cute Overload

Picture 6-9 The Cute Overload blog has nothing but pictures of adorable animals and character toys. Visiting it is like taking a happy pill. What a great idea for a blog.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:16:46 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Does cosmic background radiation contain a message from God?

Richard says: "Two scientists have a serious academic paper on arXiv.org which suggests that a creator of the universe could have tweaked the initial conditions of the Big Bang to leave a 100,000 bit message in the cosmic background radiation. It's a surreal example of science life imitating science fiction. The link above is to the discussion on my blog of the orginal article on arXiv.org and Science as well as its weird similarity to things that Charles Stross has written about in his fiction (especially Accelerando) and to the engineering characteristics of the creator imputed in Robert Sawyers novel Calculating God."Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:38:28 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

King Kong's Monkey Love

Joshua Bearman wrote a great essay for the LA Weekly on the relationship between man and ape and how our perception of gorillas as being "monstrous, savage, wildly sexual" persists despite all evidence to the contrary. It's called "Monkey Love: Intimacy on the Primate Family Tree."

Josh says: "It is probably the only coverage of King Kong that is based on weird science, meandering from Enkidu, the hairy man-beast in the Gilgamesh epic, to the latest paleontological evidence about Gigantopithecus blacki, the 12-foot prehistoric ape that died out 100,000 years ago, to the re-classification of chimpanzees into the hominidae family, and of course the biological potential for a consummated love between man and ape."

200512151217 Cooper and Schoedsack weren’t entirely off their rockers when they cast Kong and Fay Wray in a “great romance.” Humans share enough DNA and chromosomal similarity with both gorillas and chimpanzees — we’re 99 percent genotypically congruent with chimps — that offspring might be possible, were biologists unscrupulous enough to try it. There’s always suspicion they may have already; for some reason, Japan often gets fingered as the place that has secretly developed primate crossbreeds. And then there was the case of Oliver, a circus chimpanzee who seemed so human — he lived with a family in South Africa, where he liked to feed the dogs and sip whiskey while watching TV — that he was tested for human parentage. He came up negative, but in the end Oliver had to be sold because he developed an overpowering sexual interest in his female owner and woman visitors.

Reader comment: email_name: Jordan Running says: "Your post from today titled 'King Kong's Monkey Love' reminded me of an article I saw yesterday from Seed Magazine titled 'Girls Gone Wild...for Monkeys.' The article is about a study which shows that "while straight men are only aroused by females of the human variety, straight women are equally aroused by all human sexual activity, including lesbian, heterosexual and homosexual male sex, and at least somewhat aroused by nonhuman sex." Wild. Link

Reader comment: John says: "Apparently at least one person tried to crossbreed chimps and humans, in 1926. Clive Wynne has the story in a NYT op-ed. The scientist was Ilya Ivanov of the USSR, and the story involves Africa, Cuba, the New York Times and the Ku Klux Klan."

The young Soviet Union, in its effort to stamp out religion, was determined to prove that men were descended from apes. In 1926, a Soviet scientist named Ilya Ivanov decided the most compelling way to do this would be to breed a humanzee: a human-chimpanzee hybrid.

Ivanov set off for a French research station in West Africa. There he inseminated three female chimpanzees with human sperm. Not his own, for he shared the colonial-era belief that the local people were more closely related to apes than he was. He stayed long enough to learn that his experiment had failed.

Next Ivanov wrote a Cuban heiress, Rosalia Abreu. Abreu was the first person to breed chimps in captivity and had a large menagerie outside Havana. Ivanov asked if any of her male chimpanzees might be available to inseminate a Russian volunteer known to posterity only as 'G."


Reader comment: "Lovecraft wrote a story, now public domain, about a man who married an ape called 'Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and his Family.'" Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:18:44 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

SNL video: Woomba, the feminine hygeine robot

Link to video from SNL. (via screenhead, thanks ***)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:52:17 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Liz Cohen: simultaneous body-mod and car-mod

Snipped from We-Make-Money-Not-Art:
In her BODYWORK project, Liz Cohen is converting Färgfabriken's main hall into a car body shop and a gym. Every day, she will be working to transform an old East German Trabant into an American Chevrolet El Camino. East German functionalism goes American low-rider. In addition, the artist will be training her body so that she will also be able to present the finished car as a showroom bikini model.
Link (Thanks, stealth girl)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:44:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

PSP 2.01 firmware unlocked

Once again, some PSP owners can install and run their own software on PSP handheld game devices, thanks to hackers who've defeated Sony's 2.01 firmware, which contained anti-customer measures that shut out homebrew games.

On Dec 1, some cheats were published that allowed players of "Grand Theft Auto:LCS Trainer" to add new weather conditions and other play options.

This gave firmware hackers the crib they needed to unravel the game-format, and thence the whole firmware. Now a new hack allowed PSP owners to once again play homebrew games and add new functionality to their PSPs.

Now, how freaking bizarre is it that Sony continues to spend good money removing features that make the PSP more attractive to its customers? Someone needs to be beaten about the head and shoulders with the business-model stick.

First 2.01 Homebrew Game Ported By PSP 3D

That's right. From Hello World yesterday, to Tetris today. We at PSP 3D have successfully ported the first 2.01 game EVER. Thanks to Fanjita for the tips and for the wonderful GTA hack (props to all the people who helped him too). In the next few days, expect this and more games to be ported to 2.5 also (if and when we get SYSCALs working)...

If you are a homebrew developer and would like your game converted to 2.01 format (2.5 in the near future), please feel free to contact us with the SOURCE to your homebrew (aka, the C++ files, not an EBOOT or .bin).

Link (Thanks, Tom!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:38:06 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Video of site where oldest Maya mural was unearthed

Dave Pentecost tells Boing Boing,

I'm adding to the media frenzy surrounding the San Bartolo mural announcement today ("Sistine Chapel of the Maya") with a "you are there" video of the dig that discovered it.

I was in the tunnels, inside a pyramid, for five weeks as they discovered and cleaned the murals. In the press coverage they are using the phrase "blood sacrifice" to refer to the graphic penis perforation, with six-foot spears, that four figures are performing in the mural.

The video was shot and edited, and the music composed in Garageband, in the jungle east of Uaxactun, Guatemala. It's in iPod format - one of the oldest art objects in the hemisphere playable on one of the newest. My thanks to Bill Saturno and the whole San Bartolo team for allowing me to be part of the astonishing discovery.



Earliest known Maya painting revealed

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:38:01 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

What if copyright law were strongly enforced against blogs?

Snip from a post today by Daniel Solove, a professor at George Washington University Law School:
Suppose the mainstream media, fed up with the buzz bloggers keep getting and with bloggers criticizing their stories, decided to exact revenge. They initiate a vigorous copyright enforcement strategy, launching a barrage of lawsuits against bloggers as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has done to music file sharers. What would happen?

The blogosphere would be in for some tough times I bet. Bloggers frequently copy large chunks of mainstream media articles and some of us copy pictures we find on the Web. Bloggers don't have a team of photographers and artists, so they snag images from the Internet. As for mainstream media articles, bloggers often quote very liberally because the mainstream media is notorious for creating dead URLs -- articles often just disappear after a week or two. In other instances, articles get archived and can only be retrieved for a fee. The result is that a post discussing a mainstream media article with just a link or a small quote can become hard to understand when the article being referred to becomes unavailable. That's why bloggers often copy significant portions of articles -- so their posts can still be understood when the URLs to the articles go dead.

(...)[The] blogosphere has developed a set of copyright norms in an area where there is very little enforcement. These norms about the use of copyrighted material are probably at odds with existing copyright law. The mainstream media and other websites have not been going after bloggers for copyright violations all that much. Although the music and movie industries have been on the copyright offensive, beyond them, the enforcement of copyright on the Internet has been rather laid back. But this article from the WSJ strikes a bit of fear in my bones (...)


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:28:17 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Reaction to passing of EU data retention law

The European Parliament just passed a widely criticized proposal on data retention. Here's an excerpt from a critique today by Jake Appelbaum:
I'm really sad to say that Europe has failed itself. Today the EU accepted a terrible directive. If you read the PDF link here you can see what a disaster they've created.

For those that want a quick summary: Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL on the retention of data processed in connection with the provision of public electronic communication services and amending Directive 2002/58/EC.

The directive argues that changes in business models and service offerings create new logging practices. Namely, pre-paid cell phone companies don't need to log as much information as a company that sends you a bill later. VoIP providers don't even have a location, they might have an IP address if the user isn't very savvy. All of this as well as other communication advances allow for criminals to speak freely.

They specifically discuss the value of "traffic data" and "location data" and how it's very useful for "prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime, such as terrorism and organized crime." So now they've created a way to solve that problem. They wish to log all of this data. Not the contents mind you, they're not recording every phone call. They're going to be logging who you dialed and when. They'll be logging names and addresses. They won't log the data in the body of your email, they'll log all of the communication headers.

This is a great deal of data.


Reader comment: Robert says,

It's worth noting that this link is the text of the *amended* proposal that the European Parliament passed and contains quite a number of changes by them in relation to maintaining privacy and trying to limit unnecessary intrusions. There are several added references to the European Convention of Human Rights and the EU data protection directive. Also, this amended text has to be approved by the Council of Ministers before going any further. If they make any changes, it has to come back to the Parliament. So it's not over yet!

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:19:59 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

More on China blocking news of Shanwei protest deaths

Raymond Yu says,
I am a reader of Boingboing and I am in China right now. The protest in the city of Shanwei is being blocked by the authorities as known, yet at 10:20 p.m I saw it reported on TV with video clips by the so-called Dragontv,(or 东方卫视 as in Chinese) which I think is a station based in Shanghai and personally I think it a pioneer on some level.

I went to their website to check on it, but could not find a transcript. I could only navigate as far as the National News category, in which that particular piece of news didn't appear among a list of news on 2005-12-15. Here is the link.


Online news of protest deaths blocked by China authorities

Bloggers in China break silence on violent suppression of protest

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:16:36 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

No blood for oil. No, wait -- blood for oil.

Moment of unintentionally ironic ad zen, courtesy of ExxonMobil. In the Blood for Oil Rewards Program, get a fossil fuel gift card by donating blood. Link (Thanks, Emory)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:10:53 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

7 Deadly Sinners artists blog

 Sinners Images Mortimer Roq la Rue gallerist Kirsten Anderson points us to The 7 Deadly Sinners, a group art blog with contributors from Seattle, California, Vancouver, and Calgary. Seen here is "Mortimer, Mother, Father, and the Spider," a painting that blogger Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley completed for the Artist Trust fundraiser auction in Seattle.

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:46:16 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments


Alex Halderman, one of the Princeton researchers who's been doggedly revealing the tricks, nastiness, cheating and lies in the Sony DRM Debacle, has published a detailed HOWTO explaining how to make your own malicious "industrial strength" DRM CD, just like Sony's. The perfect project for your holiday break!
You added the extra track (shown in yellow) when you edited the disc image in step 4. This simple change makes the audio tracks invisible to most music player applications. It’s not clear why this works, but the most likely explanation is that the behavior is a quirk in the way the Windows CD audio driver handles discs with multiple sessions.

For an added layer of protection, the extraneous track you added to the disc is only 31 frames long. (A frame is 1/75 of a second.) The CD standard requires that tracks be at least 150 frames long. This non-compliant track length will cause errors if you attempt to duplicate the disc with many CD drives and copying applications.


Previous installments of the Sony DRM Debacle Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 07:54:26 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

New Swiss money has AIDS virus, foetus and skull decorations

Bruno sez, "The Swiss National Bank is planning to introduce a new series of Swiss Francs bills. They had a design competition. The winning design features a skull, an embryo, and a rendering of the the AIDS virus. True." Link (Thanks, Bruno!)

Update: Martin points out that the decision isn't final yet: "After acknowledging the jury's decision as to the result of the competition, the Governing Board of the National Bank will decide on the next steps."

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:59:01 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Dickens's Christmas Carol podcast

Jeremy sez, "Penguin Books are podcasting Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in five episodes, starting 15 december. The episodes are available from the Penguin Podcast as an RSS feed, via iTunes and as a simple download. A Christmas Carol is read by acclaimed actor Geoffrey Palmer, who utters a mean 'humbug'." Link (Thanks, Jeremy!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:56:22 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

MSFT responds to Liebhold's privacy concerns

Last week, I posted the privacy concerns that my Institute for the Future colleague Mike Liebhold has raised about Windows Live Local. Yesterday, MSFT Virtual Earth lead developer Chandu Thota responded on MSN Search's WebLog. From Thota's post:
When you visit the Windows Live Local and hit "Locate Me", Location Finder sends signal strengths and MAC addresses of nearby wireless access points and standard HTTP request information such as your IP address to the Microsoft online location service. The online service calculates the user's location from a database of known access point locations and returns an approximate longitude and latitude. If this method fails, other methods may be used such as IP address lookup.

Location Finder service was designed with concern for your personal information; secure methods such as SSL are used when transferring location information between your machine and the Microsoft location service. Since the Location Finder will only determine your location information when you visit the Windows Live website, we will not share your location information with other web sites. Also note that the Location Finder does not include an option for forwarding or sharing user location information with third parties. It is designed to work with the Windows Live web site only. Location finder can not track users. Your location is only determined when you explicitly click the “Locate Me” link at Windows Live Local and no user has the ability to determine another user’s location.

We believe that you deserve to have your personal data used only in ways you have agreed to that provides value to you. Our privacy policy prohibits the selling, renting, or leasing of your information to other companies.

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:13:13 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Spooky antiquarian etailer

Kim sez, "Teardrop Memories is an online store specializing in spooky and arcane antiquities, from funeral cards to embalming supplies, church benches to cribs for dead infants to... salad forks that advertise a Philly mortuary?" Link (Thanks, Kim!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:24:04 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Britannica averages 3 bugs per entry; Wikipedia averages 4

Nature, the renowned science journal, asked scientific experts to blind-compare selected entries in Wikipedia to their Encylopoedia Britannica counterparts. The reviewers concluded that Britannica has a marginally lower error-rate than Wikipedia:
The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three...

Nature's investigation suggests that Britannica's advantage may not be great, at least when it comes to science entries. In the study, entries were chosen from the websites of Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica on a broad range of scientific disciplines and sent to a relevant expert for peer review. Each reviewer examined the entry on a single subject from the two encyclopaedias; they were not told which article came from which encyclopaedia. A total of 42 usable reviews were returned out of 50 sent out, and were then examined by Nature's news team.

Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopaedia. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.

Link (Thanks, Timo!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:19:45 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Official Katamari Damacy shirts

w00t! Official tees for Katamari Damacy, the most mind-bendingly awesome video-game I've played in years! The shirts are designed by the same guy who designed the game. Link (Thanks, Simonc, Rod, Mikey, Josh, Freddy, Eric and Ray!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:16:12 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Chris Ware on NPR's Here & Now

 Artist Ware Ware Splash WBUR radio's Here & Now interviewed amazing comic artist Chris Ware. The conversation has been archived online. Fantagraphics just published Ware's Acme Novelty Library #16, the first issue of the groundbreaking comic in four years.
Link (via Flog!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:48:22 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Other Music's Year End Recap

Other Music is my favorite record store in the world. It's a tiny, boutique shop with an incredibly broad selection of genres--from vintage psych-folk to avant jazz to obscure electronica. Other Music is located in New York City's East Village so I don't get to shop in the store very often, but their online presence keeps me satisfied between trips. Every week or so, they email out a "new release update" containing the staff's brief impressions of the latest albums, including (and this is key) links to RealAudio samples of the songs. Today they published their Year End Recap. It's overwhelmingly cool how much great music was released this year that I've never heard of. Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:28:22 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

CodeCon submission deadline is tomorrow (12/15)

Boing Boing reader Meredith says,
The CodeCon 2006 submission deadline is tomorrow! If you're a developer with a cool project, come present it at the same venue that's showcased Off-the-Record Messaging, Audacity, Tor and a wide variety of other kick-ass open-source apps.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:16:03 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

RadioDavidByrne: Rednecks, Racists and Reactionaries

"Rednecks, Racists and Reactionaries" is the title of the December playlist for David Byrne's online radio station. He writes:
Well, I probably could have filled up this playlist with just the recordings of any one of these artists, but the RIAA has recently issued me a warning, so I’m not going to tempt a shutdown, lawsuit or a hefty fine. (Link to rant on this subject)

I’m defining classic country as pre-hippie-country, pre-alt-country, pre-outlaw-country — before Graham Parsons, Bob Dylan, Emmylou, Willie, the Flatlanders and scores of others made the genre accessible to folks who usually associated country music solely with rednecks, racists and reactionaries (hey, that would have made a good album title!) Those changes began in the late 60s and early 70s, so most of this stuff was done before that. I haven’t gone back to the real early rootsy stuff either, and there’s lots of incredible stuff left out, but it’s a pretty good sampling. (FYI, The best basic introductory sampler I’ve ever heard of this stuff is the Smithsonian’s box set. Our government cut through the red tape and inter-record-label squabbling and did something right for a change. Their jazz survey is pretty good, too.)

Link (Thanks, Kevin Beck)


David Byrne gets RIAA warning

More BB posts on David Byrne

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:07:14 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sponsor massage with happy ending: Quikbook rules

I haven't done this before, but wanted to share a personal anecdote involving one of Boing Boing's sponsors -- Quikbook.com. Recently, I needed to find a hotel room in a *totally* sold out city at the last minute. I had no luck with the travel websites and bucket shops I usually turn to for hotel booking. Just when it looked like a $900/night janitor's closet at the Podunk Craquehaus was my only option, I remembered the Quikbook ad on Boing Boing. I clicked tentatively, ended up booking a great room at an impossibly sold-out upscale hipster property -- at a really nice discount off the rack rate. I'm absolutely planning to use them again. Also, Quikbook smells nice and has great hair.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:13:46 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Andy Rosen's punk photos on Flickr

Davidj Underground photographer Andy Rosen posted his stunning series "London Punks 1976-1984" to Flickr. Seen here, David J. of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets. Other photos include Johnny Rotten, Siouxsie Sioux, Paul Weller, and a slew of live shots of The Clash.
Link (via We Make Money Not Art)

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:28:07 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tiny R/C helicopters

 Pic 30 Alexander Van de Rostyne's Pixelito is a 6.9 gram helicopter that's remote controllable via an infrared link. Six-years in development, it's the latest and smallest in his family of Pixel Radio Controlled Helicopters.
Link (via MAKE: Blog)

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:13:30 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir, new from Graham Roumieu

Bigfootologist and illustrator Graham Roumieu has collaborated with everyone's favorite hairy man-beast to produce Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir. Me get copy in mail now. Book it crazy ha ha good, oogh. Me love!
Like many reclusive celebrities, Big Foot is misunderstood. In his touching memoir Me Write Book he wants to set the record straight, proving that although he's larger, hairier, and more foul-smelling than most of us, he's really not so different underneath.

Only the most cold-hearted among us could look on without compassion as this hirsute Everyman struggles bravely with parental abandonement, Pringles potato crisps, embarrassing moments with peach schnapps, the desperate loneliness of personal ads, and 'roid rage.

Link to more info on Graham's website, and Amazon Link for preview and ordering.

Previous Boing Boing posts about Roumieu's Bigfoot-related work: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:05:20 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Boosting brain cannabis to treat depression

Scientists have shown that a new drug that boosts natural levels of endocannabinoids, "the brain's own cannabis," could be useful in treating pain and depression. According to the scientists from the McGill University Health Centre and Université de Montreal, the drug URB597 blocks the degradation of endocannabinoids in the brain. From a press release:
This is the first time it has been shown that a drug that increases endocannabinoids in the brain can improve your mood," says the lead investigator Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, an MUHC and Université de Montréal researcher.

Endocannabinoids are chemicals released by the brain under certain conditions, like exercise; they stimulate specific brain receptors that can trigger feelings of well-being. The researchers, which included scientists from the University of California at Irvine, were able to measure serotonin and noradrenaline activity as a result of the increased endocannabinoids, and also conducted standard experiments to gauge the 'mood' of their subjects and confirm their findings.

"The results were similar to the effect we might expect from the use of commonly prescribed antidepressants, which are effective on only around 30% of the population," explains Dr. Gobbi. "Our discovery strengthens the case for URB597 as a safer, non-addictive, non-psychotropic alternative to cannabis for the treatment of pain and depression and provides hope for the development of an alternate line of antidepressants, with a wider range of effectiveness."

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:01:27 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Eliminating bank clocks in attempt to reduce complaints

Customers at NatWest banks have been complaining about the time wasted waiting in long lines. The bank's response? Get rid of the clocks on the walls. A bank employee told The Sun that, “With a clock there, it was difficult for us to disagree with them. Without one it’s harder for them to complain.” Meanwhile though, the bank officially says it removed the clocks because a survey revealed that customers didn't think clocks would "enhance their banking experience." Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:50:31 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Pud vs Bazooka Joe

Over at A Sampler of Things, Dan Goodsell explains why he likes the Pud comics that come in Dubble Bubble gum.
Picture 5-13I love the color palette with the light green and light yellows. This was quite counter to Bazooka Joe comics which always hit you with primary red, blue and yellow. Pud comics were much more subtle. They were also more visual and played with the tiny space they were allowed.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:38:31 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"Treasure of Baghdad" diary of Iraqi journo's first visit to USA

Seth Abramovitch says,
A young Iraqi journalist and blogger is taking a break from Iraq and hanging out at my brother-in-laws office (Committee to Protect Journalists, based in NYC) for a few days. He is staying in Brooklyn. His blog is very moving -- he drinks wine and gets his hair cut by a woman for the first time in NYC, goes to Ground Zero, etc. This entry is about walking to school with my two nieces, Ruby and Lola.
Snip from "Treasure of Baghdad's Diary":
Joel and his two cute daughters arrived at the corner where I was waiting. Then we walked with his daughters to take them to their school as their mother who is a journalist is assigned for reporting in another state.

The school was so beautiful. It’s a church school that looks like the school where my mother used to teach. She used to teach in a Nun’s school, one of the best primary schools in Baghdad, called Dijlah [Tigris]. Because this school is located in the most dangerous street in Baghdad, Sadoun Street, my mother had to leave it and move to another school in my neighborhood. She decided to move after a massive car bomb took place at the main gate of the school where 22 Iraqi civilians were killed, most of them were pupils, school buses drivers and parents of pupils.

I remember how my mother was scared when I called her that day. She was crying and crying and saying things like the kids are killed, it’s like hell and something like that. My heart sank at that moment. What does it mean when someone is trying to kill westerners in front of a primary school? Two westerners and 22 Iraqis were killed.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:58:30 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Earliest known Maya painting revealed

Snip from National Geographic:

Archaeologists today revealed the final section of the earliest known Maya mural ever found, saying that the find upends everything they thought they knew about the origins of Maya art, writing, and rule.

The painting was the last wall of a room-size mural to be excavated. The site was discovered in 2001 at the ancient Maya city of San Bartolo in the lowlands of northeastern Guatemala.

(...) The painting dates to 100 B.C., proving that stories of creation and kings—and the use of elaborate art and writing to tell them—were well established more than 2,000 years ago, 700 years earlier than previously believed.

Link to story, and here's a related website from the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. University of New Hampshire and Peabody Museum archaeologist William Saturno came upon the murals when led there by local Guatemalan guides.

Reader comment: Mark says,

The National Geographic picture you published with your story of the newly discovered Mayan Mural seems to show the King making an offering of his own blood. As customary among the Mayan Kings he does it by stabbing his own penis with a white spear. To show the kings potency the blood is seen 'squirting out', as also noted in the NGS article (page 2), but they don't say it is also shown in the picture! Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:47:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Virgin Galactic to build $225M spaceport; new logo = Branson's eye

Sir Richard Branson and co. have announced plans for a $225 million dollar spaceport in New Mexico for the Virgin Galactic fleet.
Virgin Galactic also revealed that up to 38,000 people from 126 countries have paid a deposit for a seat on one of its manned commercial flights, including a core group of 100 "founders" who have paid the initial $200,000 cost of a flight upfront. Virgin Galactic is planning to begin flights in late 2008 or early 2009.
Link to AP report, and here's more at Space.com. Snip:
At a Virgin Galactic press conference today, the commercial spaceline firm unveiled a new logo design that will feature the iris of Branson. The logo concept comes from Philippe Starck, in conjunction with a design agency, GBH Design Ltd.

Starck is a founder astronaut for one of the first hundred commercial seats onboard Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceliner.

In displaying the logo concept, Branson said: “I believe it represents all those who will watch and be a part of the growth of this amazing new commercial aviation sector. Whether they are six or sixty, all will see and believe that a new chapter in the story of space flight has begun.”

Reader comment: Ben Hiller says,
I just saw the Virgin Galactic logo, and imho, it looks really similar the the cover of George Orwell's 1984: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:59:09 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Jailhouse tech creations -- update

My blog-mates Cory and David have posted previously about Prisoners Inventions, a book that explores inmate-made contraptions behind bars -- written by a jailed man named Angelo. Shown here, a prison love-companion fashioned from plastic bags, toilet paper, and socks. Noah Shachtman wrote about it for Wired News in 2003, and sends word that newly-reconstructed contraptions will be on display in various art centers around the US:
This month, they're back in Chicago, at the I-Space. Then, in the Spring, the Prisoners' Inventions head to San Francisco's Yerba Buena Arts Center. The show has 13 new drawings from Angelo.
Link to more drawings, and details about the upcoming shows.

Previously on Boing Boing:

Prisoners' Inventions: MacGuyver meets the prison system

Prisoners' Inventions

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:24:45 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Art made from Thames flotsam

Last Gasp sells lovely framed collages made from detritus pulled from the river Thames. Link (Thanks, Tara!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:52:59 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

HOWTO decorate for the holidays with tampons

TamponCrafts sports instructions for making all kinds of seasonal decorations out of tampons: tree-ornaments, angels, even a menorah! Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:50:12 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

EVDO: I'm a believer

This week, I've been experimenting with various bits of EVDO wireless Internet kit from wireless-internet-broadband-service.com and Verizon, and I've been really impressed (and depressed at the thought of going back to Europe, where the comparable equipment is all locked down, overpriced and metered).

I've had the use of an EVDO card that worked flawlessly and speedily (rates comparable to the Ethernet connection in my hotel room) in my Mac, and which also seamless interfaced with a WiFi access point that was literally plug-and-play: just connect it to the wall-power, stick in the card, and the EVDO wireless service was retransmitted to my whole hotel-floor.

The number of situations in which I find myself captive to overpriced Internet service provided by hotels is climbing (in Amsterdam, I stayed at a hotel where the Swisscom WiFi ran 30 Euros/day, with a cap of 250MB -- I spend 90 Euros in one particularly busy day) and gear like this points the way to freedom. I'd love to bring one to an airport ($10 bucks for a couple hours' broadband? Geez) with me and set the Internet free for my neighbors -- hell, with the right software, you could even set up a competing ISP that charged a buck instead of a sawbuck for access! Link (Thanks, Geo!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:47:56 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Costumes for your Roomba

MyRoomBud makes and sells cute animal costumes for the Roomba autonomous robotic vaccuum cleaner, with names like Moomba (cow-spots) and Roor (tiger-stripes). Link (via Make Blog)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:36:08 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sony Artists offering home-burned CDs to replace spyware-infected discs

Sony refuses to recall CDs infected with Sunncomm's MediaMax spyware, so some artists are running their own recall programs, offering home-burned CDs to fans who complain that the software prevents them from ripping their CDs.
Artist managers have been vocal in their opposition to the use of copy-protection software. "I just don't think that this is the answer to the problem that they think exists," says the manager of one veteran artist affected by the XCP software. Mike Martinovich, manager for My Morning Jacket, says that even before the revelation of MediaMax's security problems, his company had been mailing burned, unprotected copies of MMJ's new album Z to fans who complained that MediaMax prevented them from transferring songs to their iPods. "It should have been enough that fans are annoyed," he says. "But this should be the final reason."
Link (via EFF Deep Links)

Previous installments of the Sony DRM Debacle Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:31:15 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Voodoo Toothpick Holder invites you to puncture effigy with toothpicks

This Voodoo Toothpick Holder is shaped like a small man, in a rigid posture of agony. You use it by poking toothpicks into strategic holes all over his body, and hey-presto, a disturbingly funny accompaniment for your olive-bowl. Makes a good companion to the Voodoo Knife Rack I blogged last February. Link (via Cribcandy)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:25:44 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Pentagon bravely vigilant against sinister, threatening Quakers

NBC has published excerpts from a leaked Department of Defense document in which it is revealed that the Pentagon spied on a meeting of peace activists at Florida Quaker House and branded their work as a threat to national security.
The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One "incident" included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald's National Salute to America's Heroes -- a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: "US group exercising constitutional rights." Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense -- yet they all remained in the database.

Link (Thanks, Cowicide!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:19:51 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Trashy vintage novels as iPod cases

This site sells iPod cases made from hollowed-out trashy vintage novels, complete with library cards! Link (Thanks, Druidbros!)

Update: Chris sez, " my girls are making and selling iPod book cases along similar lines but with (1) compartments for all the bits & pieces, and (2) you can listen with the book closed (handy for cloaked listening). Got the idea from a ReadyMade magazine article, plus a few improvements."

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:15:06 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Brooklyn camera-store crooks threaten activist's life

An activist who photographed Brooklyn's notoroius fraudulent online digital camera-stores is receiving anonymous death-threats by phone, while his site is the subject of distributed denial of service attacks.

Last week, I blogged about WaWa Digital, a fraud-house that calls up people who order its digital cameras and pressures them to buy overpriced accessories. If they decline, the store cancels the order.

A WaWaDigital representative left a disgruntled customer a voicemail threatening to "break his neck" if he tried to come to the store and collect his order.

Don Wiss (a photographer in Brooklyn who has posted galleries of the mailing addresses that are listed as the store locations of Brooklyn's fraud-stores) went and took some pictures of the storefront for PriceRitePhoto (another company that previously threatened to have a blogger who posted about his negative experiences with the company arrested), a graffiti-scrawled, semi-derilict building in Brooklyn with no evidence of any kind of legitimate retail operation.

Now Wiss's website has been knocked off the Internet, and anonymous callers have accused him of "running them out of business" and told him that he'd be dead if he didn't leave the country.

Brooklyn's DA is Charles Hyne -- I hope that he can be persuaded to take an interest in these crooked, violent dirtbags.

As you no doubt know, someone posted a link to your Brooklyn camera story on Slashdot on 12/1. One of the comments mentioned my donwiss.com/ pictures/ BrooklynStores web site. I had the most hits ever.

Yesterday donwiss.com had a DOS attack. 497 simultaneous connections. My host cut me off so not to bring down the other clients on that server. I then switched my dns to a backup host.

Today I received two phone calls at work. First one like blaming me for driving them out of business. Says they have already shut it down. But, of course, he didn't disclose what business, and they had caller id turned off.

I then got a second phone call. He told me to watch my back. He said if I don't leave the country I will be killed. Now nowhere at my site do I pass any judgment on the dealers here. So why blame me? My question is have you been threatened? Of course, living here in Brooklyn makes me a convenient target.

Link (Thanks, Thomas!)

Update: Thomas sez,:

The outfit that threatened to break a customer's neck (that you blogged) was actually WaWa Digital. A different photographer named Daniel took photos of WaWa Digital's store after reading of this death threat.

Don Wiss (the guy now being given death threats) has had his photo series of Brooklyn storefronts up for a while now. It was through his photo series that I recently was able to link up the individual that may be the true owner or PriceRitePhoto, Chaim Pikarski.

By the way, PriceRitePhoto on Monday changed their identity on eBay from priceritephoto to barclaysphoto. They have also now registered the domain name barclaysphoto.com and I suspect plan to do business there now that there PriceRitePhoto name has been trashed all over the internet due to their bad behavior.

It's a tangled web they weave and it doesn't help that these Brooklyn photo shops keep changing their names and that there may be more than a few sleazy operators.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:11:47 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

PearLyrics shutown: EFF's open letter to Warner Music

The Electronic Frontier Foundation today issued an open letter to Warner Music Group arguing that the label's legal battle against PearLyrics is wrong-headed. Snip from blog post by EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann:
When I buy a CD, I look forward to having the lyrics printed in the liner notes. That's part of what I expect in exchange for my money.

If the record label omits the lyrics, I feel I'm entirely within my fair use rights to listen closely to the recording and copy down the lyrics. Similarly, I'm within my fair use rights when I use a search engine to find the lyrics of the music I've legitimately purchased. And thanks to Apple's iTunes software, I now can add those lyrics to the digital copies of the music I've purchased and have them appear when the song plays on my iPod.

Apparently, at least one music publisher thinks that makes me a music pirate. Yes, annotating music I've legitimately purchased with lyrics makes me a pirate, according to music publishing giant Warner/Chappell. Warner/Chappell sent a cease & desist letter last week to the developer of pearLyrics, a piece of software that automates the process of adding lyrics to iTunes tracks. (For more details, see the MacWorld review.) The developer is apparently located in Austria, and I cannot comment on how Austrian law might apply. But Warner/Chappell doesn't have a legal leg to stand on here in the U.S., and EFF is sending an open letter to them today to caution them from using their legal threats to chill American software developers and music fans.

Link to full text of Fred's comments, and the letter.


Warner Music attacks specialized web-browser

Reader Comment: Cecily Lynn Steele says,

I am a good friend to someone who is hard of hearing, she is also my tutor in American Sign Language. It's odd, it was just the other day we were chatting about how she listens to music. The ONLY way in which she can fully understand the lyrics to music is to have someone go through the lyrics with her. We sit down, with a lyrics sheet, and point through the words (word by word) as each is sung. After doing this a few times, she's memorized the lyrics and can understand them without the words in front of her.

However, without this assistance of the always-available lyric sheets printed on CD inserts, a tool like pearLyrics (in conjunction with iTunes), or someone laboriously writing them down for her, she has no access to this medium she enjoys so tremendously. Search-engines and particularly pearLyrics makes it easy for her to have access to the lyrics without the assistance of a second person, and come to understand the music that she listens to.

I'm sure that Warner Music certainly did not have any idea that they were shutting out hundreds of hearing impaired persons like my friend from enjoying the little music they can hear when they decided to begin this ridiculous battle.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:33:22 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments


Writer and filmmaker Jasmina Tesanovic traveled to San Quentin to witness and protest the state's execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams last night. She wrote an account, and here is a snip:
They did him in, Tookie; it is my first capital punishment in California. They say, however, that Texas held the first place in executions while Bush was the governor.

Now Bush has the whole world to sample, to decree who deserves to live and who to die, who is a terrorist and who is a patriot, who can have scissors and who can have guns. Good and bad guys, it all looks like Hollywood and cowboy films. It not only looks like it, it is really is like it.

This Tookie, this black Californian, I don't care if he is guilty or not, I say when interviewed by a TV, as if my opinion mattered: the death penalty is barbarism and a crime against humanity, like torture.

How do you feel? the reporter asks me with tender feelings. What does that matter, I scream, it is not about feelings, it is about human rights.

Link to full text.

Previous Boing Boing posts on Jasmina Tesanovic: Link.

Here's a related piece by Michael Krikorian in the LA Weekly: Link to "Tookie’s Mistaken Identity -- On the trail of the real founder of the Crips."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:17:54 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bloggers in China break silence on violent suppression of protest

Following up on an earlier Boing Boing post about Chinese authorities blocking news of a protest crackdown in which as many as 20 people died, here's a snip from a story by Howard French in the NYT:
Until Tuesday, Web users who turned to search engines like Google and typed in the word Shanwei, the city with jurisdiction over the village where the demonstration was put down, would find nothing about the protests against power plant construction there, or about the crackdown. Users who continued to search found their browsers freezing. By Tuesday, links to foreign news sources appeared but were invariably inoperative. But controls like these have spurred a lively commentary among China's fast-growing blogging community.

"The domestic news blocking system is really interesting," wrote one blogger. "I heard something happened in Shanwei and wanted to find out whether it was true or just the invention of a few people. So I started searching with Baidu, and Baidu went out of service at once. I could open their site, but couldn't do any searches." Baidu is one of the country's leading search engines.

"I don't dare to talk," another blogger wrote. "There are sensitive words everywhere - our motherland is so sensitive. China's body is covered with sensitive zones."

While numerous bloggers took the chance of discussing the incident on their Web sites, they found that their remarks were blocked or rapidly expunged, as the government knocked out comments it found offensive or above its low threshold. Some Internet users had trouble calling up major Western news sites, although those were not universally blocked.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:05:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cthulhu Dildo Cthozy

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh dildo R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Hand-knitted stealth cloak for unspeakably evil sex toys that posess "a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, [and] a somewhat bloated corpulence." eBay Lhink.
(via Warren Ellis)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:05:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Manifesto: Write in your books and dogear the corners!

A provocative post called "Lifehack Your Books: Dogear, Writing In Books, and Apologizing to Librarians" advocates writing in your books and dogearing the covers -- hear, hear. I used to take enormous pains to ensure that my books remained in re-saleable condition, despite the fact that I never actually sold my old books. Now I scribble all over the margins, and in so doing, I turn my books into useful reference works, where I can open a page to a dogeared annotation and refer back to my notes, generated as I was reading:
The first taboo I think everyone should just plain get over is the taboo of writing in books. I write in most of my books. Notes about the content, things the content reminds me of, etc. When you just plain write in the margins, inside the cover, etc. there’s no way the notes for that content will get lost. They’ll forever be attached to the text they refer to.

The second is the folded over page corner (dogear). I know some of you just tuned me out as a heretic, but I dogear pages. Worse than that, I dogear for 2 different purposes. I use the top right corner of the right page as my bookmark. I also use the bottom corner of a page that contains something interesting as a marker as well. That lower dogear is often accompanied by notes written in the margin. By folding over the bottom corner of interesting pages, I can quickly look at a book of mine and see how useful I find it. It also lets me flip through a book I haven’t used in a while and easily find the bits I’m likely to want to find again. For a particularly interesting book, like The Big Moo(Seth Godin), you can see the density of interesting material easily.

Link (via Beyond the Beyond)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:05:28 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Subcutaneous brass knuckle implants (and unicorn chaser)

'Nuff said, and not for the squeamish. Link.

In related clickage, here's a tattoo on an some guy's leg depicting a totally NSFW, sexually explicit montage. NSFW Link.

Bonus -- anchor cuttings, again not for the faint of gut: Link. (thanks, potty mouse, thanks Brian Short)

Mandatory unicorn chaser: Link.

Previously on Boing Boing: Rhinestone Brass Knuckles

Brass-knuckle purse lands wearer in airport security hell

posted by Xeni Jardin at 05:35:04 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mark Cuban's flush fund

Billionaire bad-boy entrepreneur Mark Cuban's latest investment? A high-end, high-tech potty plug-in that bathes its user's undercarriage with warm water. Oh yeah, it's also wireless-enabled.

It looks vaguely iPod-like. If Apple made it, I think they'd call it an iPooed.

Brondell Inc., developer of the Swash(TM), a revolutionary high-tech toilet seat, announced it has secured $1.3 million of Series A financing from a group of investors including technology visionary Mark Cuban. (...)

Brondell introduced the Swash(TM) in January 2005 to target the luxury bathroom products market and to help create a better bathroom experience for American consumers. The Swash is a high-tech toilet seat that provides all of the hygienic benefits of a traditional bidet, but it is installed on existing residential toilets. The Swash utilizes two retractable wands to provide a filtered posterior and feminine warm water wash and has a heated seat and all functions operate at the push of a button. The Swash 600 model even has a warm air dryer and wireless remote control.

Link to press release. And voilá, the Swash. (via pho list)

Link to previous posts about Mark Cuban on Boing Boing.

Reader comment: Alex Waters says,

Those toilets you're talking about, with the multiple streams of warm water and the heated seats and the driers, are par for the course in Japan and have been for several years. The most popular brand is made by TOTO, under the name "Washlet". They aren't even particularly super-luxury items - according to Wikipedia, they're in half of Japanese homes, and I've seen them in many public bathrooms too.

You wouldn't think one would get addicted to a toilet, but these things are awesome - the one at my fiance's parents' house has adjustable stream angles, water pressures, and water temperatures, as well as adjustable strength and temperature on the blow dryer. The one at his grandmother's house has push-button seat raising and lowering as well.

Wiki link - scroll down to "Japanese Bidet." And here's TOTO's Washlet website (in English).

posted by Xeni Jardin at 05:03:44 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Report: Online news of protest deaths blocked by China authorities

Internet rights group Reporters Without Borders (aka Reporters Sans Fronteres / RSF) says Chinese authorities are blocking online news about police brutality against protesters in Guandong province.

RSF reports the media blackout began with a physical block -- road checkpoints and a security perimeter -- then moved online, to news websites and message boards. Some international news reports state that 20 villagers died during the December 6 demonstration. Snip from RSF statement:

Chinese discussion forums were ordered to censor all messages posted about the events. When Reporters Without Borders tried posting the message (in Chinese) "People died in Dongzhou" it was automatically rejected by the main forums, including Xinhua and Sohu.

Some Internet-users try to get round the censorship by posting messages in which they simply allude to repression against villagers in Dongzhou. One of the messages, seen by Reporters Without Borders, condemned Japanese massacres in Nanking in 1937, making implicit references to the current political context, saying that it was unacceptable to "fire on compatriots". In another forum, a message read, "We cannot mention the place, the date or who was responsible. But we know".

Reporters Without Borders also tried researching the word "Dongzhou" on the Chinese version of the search engine Yahoo!. This produced no results, although it came up with 150,000 results on the Chinese version of Google.


Reader comment: a Boing Boing reader in Shangxi province writes:

I am out here in China at the moment. We get CNN and BBC in our hotel rooms. But when there is anything to do with the shooting in the south of China it is blanked. Takes some time to come back on. And when I told my Chinese fellow workers about it they knew nothing about it.
Reader comment: Jason says
I thought I'd point out that English-language accounts of the incident aren't blocked. I live in Shanghai, and I first found out about it through a link on the front page of Yahoo. I also just searched--and found--stories on it with Google news and Yahoo news, and read (well, scanned) the New York Times story about it.

Naturally I can't speak for the policies of the Chinese government, but from what I can tell their point of view for most things seems to be that if you can read English well enough, you're going to find out about it anyway. (I always laugh when I go to the state-run foreign languages bookstore and see things like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for sale.)

But the reader who wrote about CNN and BBC being blocked was right--that happens all the time with any vaguely "sensitive" story. I believe the satellite feeds are all delayed.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 03:27:05 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Audio from John Gilmore's trial on right to travel anonymously

Mindwarp sez,
The link goes directly to an full recording (WMA audio file) of the Dec 8th hearing for John Gilmore vs Gonzales about the constitutionality of the ID requirement for flying domestically within the United States. Each attorney got approximately 20 minutes to argue his case in front of the court.

Interesting for a direct look at what each party is arguing and the issues that the court seems most concerned with. There are questions of jurisdiction, which the government is using as a basis to try and get the case thrown out, and they were touched upon in the hearing.

Listening to the whole thing provides a slightly deeper understanding of the legal subtleties which will determine whether or not the ID requirement will be found, in court, to raise constitutional issues.

Link (Thanks, Mindwarp!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:03:18 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

HOWTO make a PC out of gingerbread

This Swedish website has step-by-step photo-illustrated instructions for building a detailed, accurate model of a PC mobo out of gingerbread, gumdrops, and the like. It's amazingly detailed -- separate gingerbread RAM, heat-sink, etc, all lovingly assembled on a gingerbreadboard. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 02:12:08 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Every cover of Esquire

Esquire.com has a gallery with every cover since 1933. Link (via Happy Palace)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:07:25 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Exploitation paperback covers

200512131229 Mini gallery of six great exploitation paperbacks from The World of Kane.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:29:58 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

USPS: HOWTO send mail to God/Santa

The USPS has posted official instructions for addressing postal mail to God and/or Santa Claus (are they the same entity?):
To write Santa for goodies or with wish lists you should address your letter to Santa Claus as follows:

The USPS will see that the letter is received at the proper place. Please ensure to include the return address on the letter itself! Letters to God can be addressed in the same way replacing "Santa Claus" with "God".

And here I thought you needed the Ark of the Covenant to send messages to God. Link (Thanks, Gribblet!)

Update: Lukethelibrarian sez, "the reason why the USPS wants a real return address, city and state on there (or tries to associate one) is so that the letter can become a part of Operation Santa Claus, in which many postmasters across the country participate. The program varies from one post office to another, but often includes responses to the kids (written by volunteers) and sometimes real gifts, through partnerships with United Way and Toys for Tots. "

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:23:43 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Chewing gum removal machine costs $8000

200512131200This industrial chewing gum removal machine, which dissolves gum thrown on the ground by self-loathing cretins, has an $8000 price tag. That seems awfully steep. I'll bet someone could make an effective gum remover and sell it for a profit at $500. (Even cheaper, theme park and shopping mall owners could simply purchase a gun for less than $100 and shoot the morons who spit their gum on the ground.)
Link (via Pasta and Vinegar)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:05:03 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Dangerously strong magnets

I love the warnings for these large neodymium magnets. (I have some tiny ones and when they snap together, they can cause a painful pinch).
Picture 3-35 Beware - you must think ahead when moving these magnets.

If carrying one into another room, carefully plan the route you will be taking. Computers & monitors will be affected in an entire room. Loose metallic objects and other magnets may become airborne and fly considerable distances - and at great speed - to attach themselves to this magnet. If you get caught in between the two, you can get injured.

Two of these magnets close together can create an almost unbelievable magnetic field that can be very dangerous. Of all the unique items we offer for sale, we consider these two items the most dangerous of all. Our normal packing & shipping personnel refuse to package these magnets - our engineers have to do it. This is no joke and we cannot stress it strongly enough - that you must be extremely careful - and know what you're doing with these magnets. Take Note: Two of the 3" x 1" disc magnets can very easily break your arm if they get out of control.

Link (via Sensible Erection)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:48:01 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Diane Duane wonders if she should self-publish trilogy conclusion

Diane Duane, the author of the wildly popular young adult fantasy series Young Wizards (among other novels) published two-thirds of a trilogy, To Visit the Queen, in the nineties. But her publisher declined to publish the third volume due to low sales for the first two. She gets bombarded by fans with requests for book three and now she's opened a discussion on her blog about what she should do to make the long-lost third book available:
The outline for the third book, The Big Meow, was completed in 1998. The series' then-editor at Warner read it and liked it, but after consulting with the sales staff -- as editors must -- she passed on it: what we both knew at that point was that the first two books weren't selling anything like strongly enough to justify taking the gamble of publishing the third one. So I sighed and put the outline away. (For those who're curious, it completes the trilogy, and -- like the second book -- has a strong time-travel component: but this one's set in just-post-WWII Los Angeles. Those who remember the film "Cast a Deadly Spell" will immediately catch something of the intended atmosphere.)...

The obvious solution to this problem is publication on demand (POD). I don't mind doing that. But you have to understand that it ain't cheap at the reader's end. Without dragging you all through the math -- which would take me a while, and I have enough trouble with math after the caffeine hits, let alone before it -- let's just say that a "trade paperback" perfect-bound copy of The Big Meow is going to cost you hardcover prices, not paperback. If I'm to make any money at all on the deal (by which I mean, at least recoup my publishing and labor expenses), you're going to be paying $20-25 for a copy of this book.

Link (Thanks, idogcow!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:46:52 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Make a cool star ornament from 1958 magazine how-to

 Blogger 1046 493 1600 SpikySwapatorium has kindly scanned a how-to article from a 1958 issue of Better Homes and Gardens for a multipointed star ornament.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:41:11 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Table coverts to truncheon and shield

The Safe Bedside table is a designer's concept for a table that converts to a self-defense truncheon and shield to defend you against intruders who break into your home while you sleep. Link (Thanks, Alice!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:58:16 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Royal Society members speak out for open access science publishing

Members of Britain's Royal Society have published an open letter telling the organization to stop campaigning against open access science publishing.

Last month, I blogged about how the Royal Society, a UK non-profit science organization and journal-publisher, had taken a stand against open-access publishing, an innovating approach to science publication that makes works available gratis under Creative Commons and comparable licenses.

The Royal Society's argument against open access were absurd: they argued that because open access publishing would undermine their ability to sell journals, that it would reduce researchers' access to scientific results. This was naked self-interest: the Royal Society equated access through their journals to access, period.

The open letter from the Society's members makes the eloquent case for Internet-based science publishing as a superior mechanism for distributing scientific research:

As working scientists who support open access to published research, we believe that the Society should support RCUK's proposal, rather than oppose it. The proposed RCUK policy will ensure that the results of research funded by the Research Councils are made freely and rapidly available, maximizing their utility not only to the scholarly community in the United Kingdom and around the world, but also to practitioners (including doctors and nurses) and to the British public whose taxes largely support the research. The RCUK policy has strong backing from librarians and academics, and has received official support3 from Universities UK, the organization that represents UK university vice-chancellors and principals.

In seeking to delay or even to block the proposed RCUK policy, the Royal Society appears to be putting the concerns of existing publishers (including the Society itself) ahead of the needs of science. The position statement ignores considerable evidence demonstrating the viability of open access, instead warning ominously of 'disastrous' consequences for science publishing. We believe that these concerns are mistaken.

Link (Thanks, JVC!)

Update:: A reader writes: "Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, responded to the members' letter last week. (Full text of his letter, Peter Suber's comments on what appears to be a delaying tactic by the RS.)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:55:08 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Steve Diet Goedde video interview

Sex blog Sugarbank.com has published a video podcast interview with photographer Steve Diet Goedde, whose work has been featured previously on Boing Boing. Podcast includes some not-worksafe images, because, well, that's what he's best known for.

Shown here: a previously unpublished portrait shot Steve took in my back yard this summer.

Link to sugarbank interview, and here's a DVD retrospective of Steve's erotic photography, "Living Through": Link. (ships fast for holiday gifting!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:37:01 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Philips readies chipset for TV on mobile phones

Snip from CNET story:
The Dutch electronics giant now plans to bring its TV-on-cellular chipset to the United States. Handsets with the chips should hit North American shelves sometime in 2006. To ensure that content and content services will be available, Philips has partnered with Crown Castle Mobile Media.

Crown Castle has acquired terrestrial rights to 5 megahertz of L band spectrum and will launch a mobile broadcast network in 2006.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:35:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Nerve holiday gift guide

Boing Boing pals Susannah Breslin and Doug Rushkoff are among the contributors to this holiday gift guide at Nerve.com. It's worksafe, and full of neat stuff -- think cookware and clothing, not sex toys, but presented with a sensual sensibility. The guide was built in gag-inducing Flash, though -- sorry.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:26:35 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Criticism of BSA piracy reports on Bulgaria, other developing nations

Veni Markovski of the Internet Society of Bulgaria points to this blog entry on "how BSA data is manipluated for countries in transition, where software 'dealers' make profits about 300-400%." Snip from post:
Today, the BSA published a report about the so-called software piracy.

I say “so-called”, because of the interpretation of the data by the Bulgarian branch of BSA.

Here’s how the data should be read in historical order:

In 2004 BSA published another report. According to the data there, Bulgaria “had” $ 26 million of “pirated” software.

This year BSA Bulgaria uses new data by IDC to say that, “the Bulgarian IT-sector can double its volume from USD 300 M to USD 622 M till 2009, if the country can lower the software piracy with 10 %. ”

Now, how can decrease of $ 2.6 million per year lead to an increase of IT-sector with $ 322 M? That would have been funny, if it wasn’t sad.

It seems that either the data is fake - something of which there a number of articles published in the Bulgarian media, or it’s deliberately falsified.

Link to full text of post.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:18:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

For sale: fawn preserved in a jar

200512131008eBay auction for a preserved fawn in a one gallon jar. One day left before the auction expires. The high bid is $15. What a delightful xmas gift this would make.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:10:55 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Telcos try to kill the net, part umpty-billion

Clay Shirky says:
From Boston.com today:

"AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill for the right to create a two-tiered Internet, where the telecom carriers' own Internet services would be transmitted faster and more efficiently than those of their competitors."

Translation: "We like everything about the internet, except the way it keeps us from locking out the competition, so we want something just like the net, except less useful to the user, but with more pricing power for us."


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:42:31 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

TiVo upgrading company offers $25k for hacks to the new DirecTV PVR

Weaknees, a company that sells upgraded TiVos and services to upgrade your PVR, is offering a $25,000 bounty to the hacker who figures out how to improve the new DirecTV PVR, which is crufted and crippled up with anti-customer measures.
Implementation: The solution must enable the R15 DIRECTV DVR Plus to operate using a hard drive (or hard drives) with capacities greater than 160GB, and to recognize the full capacity of the drives.

Reliability: The solution should survive software updates to the R15 and should not cause other features of the R15 to malfunction or be disabled.

Features: We will pay more for solutions with special features, such as the ability to add a second drive, the ability to move programming from a 160GB drive to a larger drive (but NOT from one DVR to another), and the ability to move settings from a 160GB drive to a larger drive. We are specifically NOT looking for solutions that will bypass the security or digital rights management features in the R15, and we are not looking for any solution that would require modification of the R15’s motherboard. Further, we will not consider any solution that has the effect of enabling the user to avoid DVR service fees.

Link (Thanks, Michael!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:41:35 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

More handheld TV: CBS, UPN to provide programming to Amp'd Mobile

Snip from the TV biz newsletter Cynopsis:
CBS and UPN will provide content to Amp'd Mobile broadband wireless phones, with programming that includes CSI: NY, Numb3rs, The King of Queens, and clips of David Letterman. From UPN, look for America's Next Top Model, Everybody Hates Chris and Girlfriends. Content from both networks will launch on Amp'd Mobile later on this month when the wireless company officially launches its service.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:36:18 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mobile phone tracking prompts privacy battles in court

Snip from an article by Matt Richtel in the NYT:
Most Americans carry cellphones, but many may not know that government agencies can track their movements through the signals emanating from the handset.

In recent years, law enforcement officials have turned to cellular technology as a tool for easily and secretly monitoring the movements of suspects as they occur. But this kind of surveillance - which investigators have been able to conduct with easily obtained court orders - has now come under tougher legal scrutiny.

In the last four months, three federal judges have denied prosecutors the right to get cellphone tracking information from wireless companies without first showing "probable cause" to believe that a crime has been or is being committed. That is the same standard applied to requests for search warrants.

The rulings, issued by magistrate judges in New York, Texas and Maryland, underscore the growing debate over privacy rights and government surveillance in the digital age.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:14:18 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xbox 360 one step closer to being opened

The anti-owner technology in Microsoft's Xbox 360 has been compromised. The Xbox 360 contains a number of technologies aimed at preventing the devices' owners from installing their own software/operating systems, backing up their games, etc. One of these measures is the filesystem, which is encrypted. Now a technology group called Pi has decoded the filesystem, which is an important step towards stripping out all of Microsoft's anti-customer technologies and turning the Xbox 360 into a general computing platform.
Once you get past the protections and down to the raw bits on the disc, its just the standard xboxdvdfs, however the offset and layer breakpoint are different.
The 360's predecessor, the Xbox, was cracked by Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, whose hacks were used to build a flavor of the GNU/Linux operating system that could run on the Xbox, transforming it from a mere toy to a full-fledged general-purpose PC. Xbox owners who availed themselves of the Xbox cracks got to protect and increase their investments in Xbox technology by adding new features to it.

Bunnie published a fantastic account of his Xbox cracking adventure, called Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering, which is part manifesto, part HOWTO, and required reading for anyone who wants to start down the road of improving the technology all around us. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 07:24:45 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Michigan HS students will need to take online course to graduate

The Michigan State board of ed is considering a proposal to require that every student take at least one course online prior to graduation, as a means of preparing young people for the increasingly Internet-based world of work and university.
The state has a strong distance-education program for high-school students through the Michigan Virtual University, which despite its name now provides exclusively K-12 courses and resources. Many high-school students take advanced-placement courses through the virtual university, and Mr. Flanagan said those students have used online education to great success.

Under the proposal, students would be permitted to count noncredit online courses, such as ACT-preparation courses, toward the requirement. But Mr. Flanagan said he wanted to encourage students to take the online courses for credit.

Link (Thanks, Evan!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 07:13:40 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Dean Grey Tuesday: Save American Edit mashup album!

Today is Dean Grey Tuesday, a net-wide day of protest over Warner Brothers attempt to censor a stupendous noncommercial mashup album called American Edit that remixes Green Day's album American Idiot.

For today, websites across the Internet are mirroring the American Edit album and/or turning their page-backgrounds grey. Mashup albums don't hurt the sales of the albums they sample -- at worst, they have no effect on sales, at best they can promote them. Artists who are signed to major labels can avail themselves of labels' legal departments when they want to remix others' work and get their samples cleared. Indie artists, hobbyists and fans don't get legal assistance from labels' high-priced fixers. This is pure patronage: in the old days you couldn't make art unless the King or some bishop granted you permission; today you need permission from a studio executive.

The labels admit this. Last year, EMI made headlines by censoring DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album, which remixed the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album. I raised this with an EMI representative at London's Creative Economy conference and she shrugged it off: "What's the problem? We later hired Danger Mouse to make a mashup album for us."

The problem is that copyright law is supposed to decentralize the process of making art, moving the power to authorize art from royalty to the marketplace. Labels have no business setting themselves up as arbiters of what art can and can't be made.

Happy Dean Grey Tuesday. Up yours, Warners.


Update: Matt cooked up this sweet Dalek/Warner lawyer graphic in honor of the day.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 04:05:26 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Funky 70s MP3: King Kong

A reader writes, "In preparation for the release of Peter Jackson's giant monkey epic, Dr. Mysterian provides an MP3 of Jimmy Castor's relentlessly funky Seventies tune 'King Kong.'" Link, Coral Cache link to MP3

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:45:38 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

HOWTO make a soda-can Van de Graaf

Kirby sends up a link to "instructions on making a simple Van de Graaf generator with a soda can, some PVC pipe and a few parts from Radio Shack. It really works, as my daughter made one for her fifth grade science project. (Pic of ours with some napkins taped to it to do the old 'hair raising' trick)" Link (Thanks, Kirby!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:43:56 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Credit-card-sized USB drive

The Walletex Wallet Flash is a waterproof USB drive that's the same size and shape as a credit card (though it's a little thicker at 1.9mm), and comes in capacities from 64MB to 2GB. The 128MB model is the only one currently shipping, and runs for $29 each in quantities of 10 or more. Link (via Gizmodo)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:39:38 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Recycled scrap-lumber bedframe

At €7,450 this bed-frame made from recycled and cleverly fitted lumps of scrap lumber is more the kind of thing you admire than the kind of thing you run out and buy. That said, the idea is cool enough to try out in a home workshop. Link (via Cribcandy)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:35:33 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Homeland Security: Mini-golf courses are terrorist targets

The Department of Homeland Security's crack squad of anti-terrorist intelligence analysts have been vigilantly guarding a miniature golf course near San Jose, California, having identified it as a prime target for an attack on America. Imagine the symbolism of a miniature windmill in flames -- truly such would be a spiritual blow from which America could never recover.
Local officials said Thursday they were shocked to learn that Emerald Hills Golfland, a three-acre theme park with two miniature golf courses, had been placed on a Homeland Security watch list.

"The moment we realized it was on the list, it was taken off," said San Jose police officer Rubens Dalaison, who handles "critical infrastructure assessment" for the department. "I myself took it off."

But the list remains secret, and even San Jose Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who is the ranking minority member of a House subcommittee on terrorism risk assessment, said she did not know whether it is still listed.

Link (via Lawgeek)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:32:36 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Rocky Horror costumes

Official, licensed Rocky Horror Picture Show costumes -- as Wonderland notes, in my day we made our own costumes. Also, we shared grainy bootleg tapes of the movie, not commemorative edition DVDs. Also: we used to travel to the Roxy on Friday nights by pterodactyl express. Link (via Wonderland)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:29:44 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Amazon rents access to a copy of the Web

Amazon is selling access to its 5 billion document, 100-terabyte web-index. The index is complied by Alexa, an Amazon division that also powers the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Amazon is renting access to the whole, raw database, so that you can build your own search tools and data-mining projects with it. Pretty awesome -- indexes are hard to build and maintain, requiring a lot of computer horsepower, storage and bandwidth, but once you've built a copy of the Web, there's plenty of imaginative ways you can tweak it to produce valuable new services. By treating the index as a saleable asset instead of a trade secret, Amazon is really ripping apart the traditional wisdom of search engines:
Anyone can also use Alexa's servers and processing power to mine its index to discover things - perhaps, to outsource the crawl needed to create a vertical search engine, for example. Or maybe to build new kinds of search engines entirely, or ...well, whatever creative folks can dream up. And then, anyone can run that new service on Alexa's (er...Amazon's) platform, should they wish.

It's all done via web services. It's all integrated with Amazon's fabled web services platform. And there's no licensing fees. Just "consumption fees" which, at my first glance, seem pretty reasonable. ("Consumption" meaning consuming processor cycles, or storage, or bandwidth).

The fees? One dollar per CPU hour consumed. $1 per gig of storage used. $1 per 50 gigs of data processed. $1 per gig of data uploaded (if you are putting your new service up on their platform).

Link (Thanks, John!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 03:25:06 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Monday, December 12, 2005

Self-assembling medicine-delivery cubes

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University created tiny perforated cubes the size of dust specks that self-assemble. The idea is to load the metallic cubes with medications or living cells like those used in certain therapies. Then, magnets might be used to guide the through the body to a specific site where their cargoes could then be released. From a press release:
 Images Release Graphics Jhu121205 1To make the self-assembling containers, (researcher David) Gracias and his colleagues begin with some of the same techniques used to make microelectronic circuits: thin film deposition, photolithography and electrodeposition. These methods produce a flat pattern of six squares, in a shape resembling a cross. Each square, made of copper or nickel, has small openings etched into it, so that it eventually will allow medicine or therapeutic cells to pass through.

The researchers use metallic solder to form hinges along the edges between adjoining squares. When the flat shapes are heated briefly in a lab solution, the metallic hinges melt. High surface tension in the liquified solder pulls each pair of adjoining squares together like a swinging door. When the process is completed, they form a perforated cube. When the solution is cooled, the solder hardens again, and the containers remain in their box-like shape.

"To make sure it folds itself exactly into a cube, we have to engineer the hinges very precisely," Gracias said. "The self-assembly technique allows us to make a large number of these microcontainers at the same time and at a relatively low cost."

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:10:07 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Alphabet evolution animation

Here's a really nice animation of the evolution of the Latin alphabet, from c. 900 BC to the Middle Ages. Link (via Alexander Rose, thanks Paul Saffo!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:39:42 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cool Tools reviews the $350 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 digital camera

In the latest Cool Tools, Kevin Kelly raves about the inexpensive Lumix DMC-FZ5 digital camera,
P5F344C1D 1Several silicon valley billionaire gadget freaks turned me onto a hybrid camera they had discovered: the Lumix. Made by Panasonic (a name not usually associated with cameras) the Lumix seems to have a secret following. The mid-level model has the glass lens of a SLR, but at a smaller scale. Attached to a hand-sized 5-megapixel sensor is a very fast, extremely sharp zoom lens made by legendary optician Leica. The zoom is wonderfully telescopic, ranging 12X, all the way from the 35mm equivalent of 36 to an astounding 432 (!), yet clearly bright at 2.8 f/stop, which is perfect for low light without flash, and -- the key innovation here -- it employs image stabilization. The lens self corrects for vibrations. This means that I can shoot indoors and night with zoom extended (yes!) and get razor sharp shots. During daylight it is startling clear. Turns out that for real world use, sharpness is probably more important than megapixel size.

Reader comment: Greg Webster says: "I bought one of these back in May, for a bit more money than this (of course).

"The image stabilization is good, but not good enough to compensate for jitters at 12x. Pretty cool at closer levels though. Where it really excels is at medium range shots and at a wide range of light levels. The defaults in it's 'SCN' (scene) mode are really quite useful...using the 'snow' mode to take photos of high light levels like sunsets on water is wonderful. In a reasonably-lit party room I don't even need the flash, which is good because it's really a little overpowered and can wash out features. It also works great taking really close up photos with minimal zooming (bugs on flowers, etc.).

"All told, we've used it for almost 2000 photos in 7 months. Our previous digicam (Pentax Optio 230) took about 4000 before the shutter button began degrading. Digital cameras are wonderful things!"

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 05:32:21 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Interview With John Hodgman

Len says: "John Hodgman, New York Times contributor, frequent guest on NPR's Public Radio International's This American Life and author of Areas Of My Expertise, makes a guest appearance on the latest episode of Jawbone.

"Mr. Hodgman gave up a generous 45 minutes of his time to chat with us about werewolves, palindromes, facial hair and of course the 700 Hoboes project, a collection of nicknames of famous hoboes throughout history, which are now being drawn by illustrators all over the world, thanks to Mark F's suggestion at Boing Boing." Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 05:00:48 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Podcast with inventor of wind-powered robots

IT Conversations has an audio program featuring artist Theo Jansen, who makes wind-powered robots from PVC tubes and puts them on the beach, where the wind makes them walk. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 04:47:29 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mysterious feelers of deep sea fish

Picture 2-36 Mark says: "An ROV filming from an oil drilling rig has captured footage of an armour gurnard moving over the sea bed at a depth of half a kilometre. The amazing thing about the clip is that the fish has been filmed with its barbels (feelers) extended out in front of it. The sensory ability of the barbels is not known."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 04:37:13 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Chibi-Robo for GameCube

This new title for the GameCube (due in February, 2006), Chibi-Robo, sounds very promising:
Chibi Japan For her eighth birthday, little Jenny receives a very strange gift from her toy-fanatic father – a little robot named Chibi-Robo. But Jenny’s mother isn’t happy, because Jenny’s father has just quit his job at a robotics plant for reasons he won’t explain. Chibi-Robo helps around the house, cleaning up and doing whatever he can to bring happiness to this troubled family. When the robotic Spydorz show up, it’s up to Chibi-Robo to protect his family from the evil plans of Macroware Robotics, Inc.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:04:55 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Coop visits the Mooneyes auto party

Coop, one of my favorite artists, went to the Mooneyes Xmas party, and took a ton of pictures of some of the most beautiful road vehicles you could ever hope to aim your photon receptors at.
200512121354-1Robert Williams' booth was across from us, and he showed up in his recently finished '32 roadster. Lots of people were bummed out when Bob finally painted his roadster, as it was pretty much the first car back in the early eighties to deliberately go for the unfinished, primered (I won't use the "R-word") look. Folks were even more puzzled by the crazy paint job he created, which is a sort of a mish-mosh of styles between old dirt-track racers and sixties dragster graphics. I didn't dig it at first myself, but it has grown on me, and I really dig it now.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:54:24 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Catalog of parts for circuit bending

In the most recent issue of Make, we have a fun how-to project about circuit-bending, the term for taking kids' electronic toys and converting them into weird musical instruments. Here's a new website, called Bent-Tronics.com that sells components for people who want to circuit bend. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:47:23 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Danglin' it Old School: Handsets on Mobiles

Gareth says: "This apparently is not a joke. According to a piece on Phonedaily, a Japanese Taiwanese phone site (via Akihabara), it looks as though young phone users in Japan are trying to achieve that sexy phone lineman look by attaching landline phone handsets to their cellies and then dangling the sets from their belt loops. The site also shows the handsets being customized with paint, glitter, decals, and the like. Personally, we're waiting for those gigantic first-gen cellphones to make a comeback." Link

200512121410 Reader comment: Jeffrey says: "Just the other day i came across a website that happens to sell these very items. They can be found at Fred Flare." $20.

200512121725 Reader comment:Fred says: ThinkGeek also offers cellphone handsets, and in my opinion they have more 'old school charm' than Fred's. Although, my name is Fred too, so I'm torn... And, of course, you can't forget the DIY cellphone handset either.

Reader comment: ReindeR says: "A friend of mine is busy building bluetooth headsets into old telephone handsets. His next project is to build an entire GSM into an old desktop phone from the seventies, much like the Portable Rotary project."

Reader comment: Nicolas Roope says: "I run Hulger (formely Pokia) that boingboing.net helped to get moving with a link last year that resulted in a half pager in the NYT (which in turn spurred me on to manufacture them).

"Things have moved on a lot since and we now have 5 models, two of which are bluetooth. all of them work both with cellphones OR for Voice over IP (the wired ones with the Y*CABLE accessory) "

The JYPHONE copies (the one you linked to) annoyed me no more than any of the other copies until i spotted some blatant rips of our special edition customizations."

200512130933 Reader comment: Jake von Slatt says: "My version is wireless AND handsfree and is more closely related to the classic lineman's butt-set!"

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:39:32 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

RIP: Maggie Bailey, "The Queen of the Mountain Bootleggers" age 101

Osama Bin Login says: "Tough ol' Kentucky mountain mama does her thing her whole life, gets away with it--no jury of her peers would convict her; fought for the right to par-tay; and like all good substance-dealers, she helped those in need around her."
"Maggie Bailey, known as "The Queen of the Mountain Bootleggers," died of complications from pneumonia Saturday at Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital. The Kentucky legend, who began selling moonshine when she was 17 and was still selling alcohol from her modest home at Clovertown in Harlan County when she was 95, was 101.

Over and over again, often despite a preponderance of evidence against her, Mrs. Bailey beat charges of illegally selling alcoholic beverages. Juries just would not convict her.

"Everybody knew her and she had helped everybody. Why do you bite the hand that feeds you, as the old saying goes," said Helen Halcomb, who is married to Mrs. Bailey's nephew.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:51:46 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bees recognize human faces

Scientists have demonstrated that honeybees can recognize human faces, sometimes for days. Adrian Dyer of the University of Cambridge and his colleagues trained the bees to associate photographs of particular human faces with a sugary treat. Later, five bees were able to pick out the right face from a group of others. The results of the study, reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology, may eventually aid the development of computer vision systems. From World Science:
 Scipage Images Beelookingface2 “Two bees tested two days after the initial training retained the information in long-term memory,” they wrote. One scored about 94 percent on the first day and 79 percent two days later; the second bee’s score dropped from about 87 to 76 percent during the same time frame.

The researchers also checked whether bees performed better for faces that humans judged as being more different. This seemed to be the case, they found, but the result didn’t reach statistical significance.

The bees probably don’t understand what a human face is, Dyer said in an email. “To the bees the faces were spatial patterns (or strange looking flowers),” he added...

Dyer said that if bees can learn to recognize humans in photos, then they reasonably might also be able to recognize real-life faces. On the other hand, he remarked, this probably isn’t the explanation for an adage popular in some parts of the world—that you shouldn’t kill a bee because its nestmates will remember and come after you.

Francis Ratnieks of Sheffield University in Sheffield, U.K., says that apparent bee revenge attacks of this sort actually occur because a torn-off stinger releases chemicals that signal alarm to nearby hivemates. Says Dyer, “bees don’t normally go around looking at faces.”
Link to World Science article, Link to abstract in Journal of Experimental Biology

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:17:35 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Planespotters keeping tabs on CIA

Paul Saffo, my friend and colleague at the Institute for the Future, points us to this interesting article in The Guardian about amateur "planespotters" who watch the runways and document what they see. Apparently, some planespotters are unintentionally aiding journalists and human rights groups by gathering info about the CIA's "extraordinary renditions," essentially the abduction of a foreign national to interrogate her or him outside of the law. From The Guardian article:
In January last year (Josep) Manchado saw a Boeing 737 on the airport tarmac (at Majorca's Son Sant Joan aiport). He pressed his camera shutter button while speculating idly that some US millionaire was in town. Then he put the picture of the Boeing (tail fin number N313P) on airliners.net, and forgot about it.

Within a few days Mr Manchado starting getting strange calls and emails. They came from the US and from Sweden. "People were asking me questions about the plane. They obviously weren't all planespotters because they were asking questions that people who know about planes don't ask," he said...

Months later, he got a call from Germany's ZDF television. A man called Khalid El-Masri had come to them claiming he had been kidnapped by the CIA from Macedonia, bundled onto a plane and taken off to a prison many hours away. Several months later, after allegedly being tortured, he was flown back and dropped in Albania.

One of the planes thought to be involved was one Mr Manchado had photographed. It was believed that it had flown on to Macedonia that very same day. With the photo in their hand, ZDF reporters were able to persuade Skopje flight control to give them a printout of the flight plan. The aircraft had gone from Palma to Skopje and from there to Baghdad and Kabul. Mr El-Masri's story, convincingly told but difficult to believe, fitted.

UPDATE: Thanks to Arlen Abraham for this link to a photo of the 737 with N313P on its tail fin. Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:59:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Doug Rushkoff's final Thought Virus from his new book

Douglas Rushkoff's new book, "Get Back In The Box: Innovation from the Inside Out," will hit bookstores tomorrow. On his blog, Doug has posted his final "Thought Virus" from the book. From the excerpt:
 Covers Boxcoverweb As my lectures bring me from industry to industry, I find myself amazed by just how little fun most people are having. Whether separated from one another by policy, competition, or cubicle, the last thing that seems to occur to people is to have fun together—when it should be the first priority. Instead, managers feel obligated to reign over employees; executives think they must hoodwink their shareholders; sales believe they must strong-arm their clients; and marketers assume they must manipulate the consumer. All for the life-or-death stakes of the next quarterly report...

Instead of relentlessly pursuing survival even after our survival needs are met, we must learn how to do things because they fulfill us— because they are, in a word, fun. Fun is not a distraction from work or a drain on our revenue; it is the very source of both our inspiration and our value. A genuine sense of play ignites our creativity, eases communication, promotes goodwill and engenders loyalty, yet we tend to shun it as detrimental to the seriousness with which we think we need to approach our businesses and careers.

If we can switch our orientation to fun, and see it not as an anarchic threat that needs to be quelled but rather as the core motivator and source of meaning for all human thought and behavior beyond basic survival, we will enable ourselves to reach levels of success that were previously unimaginable. Our very definition of success transcends survivalist notions such as cash reserves, time remaining, or personal safety, into the realms of self-worth, meaning, connection to others, and greater purpose. Plus, it’s better business.

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:34:30 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Noam Chomsky on NoOne's Listening podcast

On last week's NoOne's Listening podcast, Irene McGee interviewed linguist and media critic Noam Chomsky. (Previous post about Irene McGee here.) Professory Chomsky gives his short, sharp take on corporate news (the stuff between the ads), consumer propaganda, and the potential of citizen journalism. Amazingly, Chomsky is able to maintain his optimism about this country. From the podcast:
Both political parties and the media are far to the right of the general population on a whole host of issues. And the population is just disorganized, atomized... And that's why the media and campaigns keep away from (political) issues. They know that on issues, they're going to lose people. So therefore you have... George Bush... this pampered kid who came from a rich family and went to prep school and an elite university. And you have to present him as an ordinary guy who makes grammatical errors, which I'm sure he's trained to make--he didn't talk that way at Yale--and a fake Texas twang, and he's off to his ranch to cut brush or something. It's like a toothpaste ad. And I think a lot of people know it.

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:11:38 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Americans smile, Brits grimace?

A Berkeley psych prof contends that Americans and Brits use different muscles when they smile, that a trained observer can deduce a smiler's nationality by looking at photos, and that the British smile is more akin to a deferential grimace than an expression of joy:
Keltner hit upon this difference in national smiles by accident. He was studying teasing in American fraternity houses and found that low-status frat members, when they were teased, smiled using the risorius muscle - a facial muscle that pulls the lips sideways - as well as the zygomatic major, which lifts up the lips. It resulted in a sickly smile that said, in effect, I understand you must paddle me, brother, but not too hard, please. Several years later, Keltner went to England on sabbatical and noticed that the English had a peculiar deferential smile that reminded him of those he had seen among the junior American frat members. Like the frat brothers', the English smile telegraphed an acknowledgment of hierarchy rather than just expressing pleasure.
Link (Thanks, Matt!)

Update: A reader writes, "Amusingly, the Sunday Times (UK) has a completely different spin on the same research. While the New York Times remarks on the 'deferential' and 'sickly' aspects of the hierarchy-acknowledging British smile, the UK Times lauds the British smile as 'more sincere' and "hard to fake" as opposed to the American 'Pan-Am' smile. You have to read the two articles back to back to get the full sense of just how diametrically opposed they are. Hilarious!"

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:42:22 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mario bath bombs for stinky gamers

An eBay seller will send you an official Mario Bros bath bomb, for the malordorous gamer in your life. Link (via Wonderland)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:04:07 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Video: rapper dressed like a jelly donut kicking ass

This video from the Tourette's Without Regrets freestyle rap competition features an astonishingly funny and talented rapper in a giant jelly donut costume kicking all kinds of ass. 20 MB Quicktime Link, Coral Cache (Thanks, Ben!)

Update: Dan sez, "The guy in the Jelly Donut costume in the video is Andrew Bancroft, of the SF based sketch comedy group Killing My Lobster."

Update: More Jelly D video here (Thanks, Adrian!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:51:10 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Nintendo game features sly jab against music industry

The Nintendo DS game Animal Crossing: Wild World has a scene wherein a doggy performs a little song, then gives you a copy of it and delivers a pro-file-sharing, anti-music-industry sermonette. Link (Thanks, Gaijin Biker!)_

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:46:50 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Doll-house arcade machine needlepoints

An eBay seller has posted a set of doll-sized video games and arcade amusements as plastic needlepoint patterns: stitch them together and set them down in your dollies' meatspace sim-house.
This auction is for the set of 5 Fashion Doll Arcade Game Patterns. I also sell them individually, starting at $3.00 each. 1) Pac-man (Upright) 2) Donkey Kong (Cocktail) 3) Claw Machine 4) Pinball Machine 5) Pool Table (Removable Top) Additional Table Tops (Ping Pong & Air Hockey, OPTIONAL $2.00)
Link (via Wonderland)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:31:21 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Gamers are better at multitasking

Gamers are better at multitasking than baseline humans. A researcher at Oregon State U is measuring the "switching cost" of going from one task to another, like paying attention to your mobile phone and to the road in front of you. Multitasking gets more expensive the more complex each individual task is. She concludes that gamers have higher proficiency at multitasking, however.
There are individual differences in the costs of multi-tasking, Lien said. In her lab studies, a typical response to a single stimulus might take 300 milliseconds. Adding a second task increases the response to about 800 milliseconds. A millisecond is 1/1000th of a second, so the delay may not seem like much – until you extend the difference to a car driving 60 miles an hour and realize the response rate more than doubles, Lien said.

In her lab studies, she has yet to test any volunteers who are immune to delays in multi-tasking, though she says some students do much better than others.

"I have to say that the best ones are those who play a lot of video games," she pointed out. "Those are lab studies, however, and not driving tests."

Link (via /.)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:27:10 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Princeton students fundraising to pay off RIAA fines

Delwin Olivan is an 18-year-old Princeton student who is being extorted by the RIAA to the tune of $5,000 as punishment for being caught promoting music by sharing it on the Internet. His fellow Princetonians have founded the Free Delwin group, which is fundraising to help pay off his settlement. It's a goddamned shame that the money they raise will end up going to the music mafiyeh, but it's heartening to see students pulling together to save one of their own, and it sure does make the music industry look like a pack of bullies. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:03:04 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Saturday, December 10, 2005

John Shirley reviews the new King Kong

John Shirley looks deep into the savage breast of Peter Jackson.
Symbolism enwraps interlocked themes; male sexuality, female desire, hidden agendas, friendly faces hiding monsters, human indifference to suffering, the mindless savagery that is civilization—crueler than any giant ape could be, calling us to a need to redefine our relationship with wildness, with the animal world itself. At one point Jackson rather heavy handedly quotes Heart of Darkness to explain his subtext, telling us we all have to explore our own Skull Islands, come face to face with inner beast, see it as it is, and if not tame it, come to terms with it.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 06:10:59 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Free voicemail helps homeless people get jobs

Community Voicemail offers free voicemail boxes to homess and unemployed people who are seeking work, so they'll have a way for prospective employers to reach them. The program is very successful too: "workers distributed voicemail numbers to 145 people over 6 months, and a whopping 70% found jobs within 2 months!" Link (via Evhead)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:43:59 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

New stuff from Jim Woodring

Artist Jim Woodring has updated his site with a bunch of new sketches, animations, and prints.
Here for you is the fledgling edition of The Woodring Monitor. It consists of links to: some new sketchbook pages, the previously unpublished text of a talk given last summer in San Francisco, tin toy animations by Bob Smolenski, some new merchandise, a small selection of new art for sale, and a little news.

Peace and love, Jim Woodring

(Just write back if this is an unconscionable intrusion into your inbox and I swear I'll never bother you again.)


MindStates Conference Talk ---this will particularly appeal to those of you who miss the days of Jim Magazine

Bob Smolenski Animations inspired by JW Tin Toy Drawings

Toys! The Frank Toys are here at last and looking so fine! Available in two varieties, plain and with a print.

DVD of animation inspired by the Frank comics, with soundtracks by Bill Frisell, James McNew of Yo la Tengo, Dame Darcy, and many more! Includes "Whimgrinder" by JW as well.

New Frank Comic! The Lute String, a numinous tale of trans-dimensional tomfoolery.

Two New Giclée Prints! Now available in the store, along with the color print The Legend. These two new black&white prints are faithful reproductions of two of my favorite drawings of the past ten years.

Little Winter Art Show! Madame W will be adding more art as the month goes by, so you might check back from time to time.

And last but not least, coming January 29th to Zankel Hall in New York, another JW and Bill Frisell collaboration.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:20:26 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Great list of fun online games

Mark Hurst of Good Experience has put together a list of high-quality, free, online games. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:45:14 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Map of the Earth with countries sized by population

This map of the Earth shows countries sized relative to their population -- Asia is huge, Australia is tiny, Europe is pretty tinsy too. 189K JPEG Link (via A Whole Lotta Nothing)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:07:00 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Friday, December 9, 2005

Plastic figurines' guide to building a website

This guide to building websites is lavishly illustrated with photographic tableaux of colorful plastic figurines acting out each step. Pictured here: storyboarding. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:13:21 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Samorost 2: Myst meets Terry Gilliam

Samorost 2 is a free, Flash-based Myst-style puzzle-game with gorgeous, lush Terry Gilliam cut and paste-style graphics. Watching this is almost as much fun as playing it. Link (via Wonderland)

Update: Charles sez, "Samorost2 Chapter 1 is free; Chapter 2 is $9.90"

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:10:00 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Joseph Goebbels's Nazi swing band

Here's the amazing story (with 42 downloadable MP3s) of "Charlie and His Orchestra," a Nazi swing band commissioned by Joseph Goebbels. Charlie and His Orchestra recorded big band standards like "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," "St Louis Blues," "Stardust," "Hold Tight" and many others. They're not half bad in a crazy, heavily accented, vitriolic and utterly reprehensible way.
Charlie and His Orchestra was led by Karl Schwendler, an English speaking German who broadcast Nazi-themed swing and big-band hits every night on the medium-wave and short-wave bands throughout the 1930s to Canada, the US and Britain. Leave it to Goebbels to take the music of The Andrews Sisters, Paul Whiteman and Irving Berlin and fill it with venomous rants against Jews, America and the British. The man took his propaganda seriously.
Link (via Neatorama)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:43:23 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Battle Pencils shipped to the USA

Yesterday, I blogged about Batoen, Japanese schoolkids' "battle pencils" that you roll like long dice, winning or losing battles based on which face is face up at the end of the roll (the game seems to be part of an effort to circumvent Japanese schools' bans on games in class).

Now Roxanne has found an etailer that sells these and ships them to the US. Link (Thanks, Roxanne!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:18:30 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Anti-P2P company decides to focus on selling music instead

Loudeye is an online music company with two businesses: selling music and spoofing P2P networks to make them suck. The former makes them money. The latter doesn't work and costs them money. They're shutting down their anti-P2P arm.

Just more evidence that selling stuff is good for business, while attacking your customers isn't:

As a result, Loudeye has reduced its quarterly consolidated cost structure by approximately $1.6 million, or 10%, compared to third quarter 2005 levels. Overpeer expects to incur approximately $200,000 in severance and related payroll costs associated with the closing of its operations, which is expected to be paid during December 2005. In addition, Overpeer may incur additional wind-down costs to terminate property or equipment leases, and other contracts. The cessation of the Overpeer operations may also result in the acceleration of depreciation or amortization or the impairment of certain fixed and intangible assets. Loudeye anticipates that the net assets and results of operations for Overpeer will be presented as discontinued operations in its consolidated financial statements.
Link (Thanks, Phil!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:13:31 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Caller Eye-Deer's eyes glow when phone rings

This ingenious "Caller Eye Deer" poster's eyes light up when Rob's cubicle-phone rings, so he can tell whether it's his phone ringing or one of the identical-ring phones at adjacent cubicles.
I work in an office of several cubicles. Often someone is on the other side of the room, and a phone rings. Who's phone is it? All the phones sound the same, and the cubicle walls block line-of-sight to the indicator light on the phone. That is, unless it's remotely located in a picture of a deer, up where I can see it. Now, with Caller Eye Deer, I know whether or not to run across the room.
Link (via Make Blog)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:10:13 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

EFF to Sunncomm: release a list of all infected CDs!

EFF has published an open letter to Sunncomm, one of the DRM arms-dealers that provided malicious anti-customer software to Sony, the use of which has resulted in lawsuits being filed against Sony by music fans whose computers were infected with Suncomm's spyware.

Sunncomm's MediaMax is a piece of dangerous spyware that is installed by Sony music CDs -- the software even installs itself if you decline the "agreement" that comes up when you insert the disc. It leaves your computer vulnerable to many cyber-attacks, and the uninstallers don't work -- they create more vulnerabilities than they close.

Sony has taken some steps to provide better uninstallers and disclosure of the titles of the infected CDs, but Sunncomm has sold its malware other music companies, and there's no master list of all infected CDs:

To ensure that all affected consumer received notice of the problem and to reduce the possibility that such problems will re-occur, we urge SunnComm International, Inc. and MediaMax Technology Corp. to promptly:

1. Publish a list of every CD, regardless of label, that employs the MediaMax technology, including the version.
2. Provide every other label using MediaMax with information about the vulnerability, and confirm this to EFF.
3. Work with those labels to quickly and effectively resolve the security vulnerability.
4. Publicly commit to ensuring that MediaMax software does not install when the user clicks "No."
5. Publicly commit to including true uninstallers in all versions of MediaMax software.
6. Publicly commit to providing all future MediaMax software to an independent security testing firm, and to the public release of the results of such test.


Previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:06:57 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Only 2% of music-store downloaders care about legality of their music

Only two percent of customers for authorized downloadable music stores cite the illegality of unauthorized P2P as a reason for shopping with Rhapsody, iTunes and the like, according to an Ipsos-Reid poll. There's a fairy tale that we hear from the music industry, about how suing thousands of fans will "educate" them about the value of authorized music sources. Instead, it appears that simply offering a good service at a good price is what lures customers through the doors.

I wonder what fraction of unauthorized P2P service users would cite hatred of the litigation-happy bullies of the music industry and fear of DRM crippleware as their reasons for avoiding the authorized stores?

But 2%? Even allowing for the normal statistical deviations this is a tiny response. The fact that this number arrives from interviews with those who buy their music (and thus theoretically should have nothing to fear) doesn't remove the fact that the great majority of those who buy music from iTunes and other services also trade them on eDonkey and KaZaa. There are 10 millon file traders at any given time on the various P2P networks, which demonstrates the magnitude of file sharing. If the Ipsos research is accurate, the collective response from this group is 'you can't catch me'.
Link (via Digg)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:59:29 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Dykes on Bikes gives the Trademark Office a linguistics lesson

Lesbian motorcycle group Dykes on Bikes has successfully appealed its trademark application to the US Patent and Trademark office, which had initially rejected the application because it considered the term "Dykes" to be derogatory. Dykes on Bikes marshalled an impressive array of linguists, English professors, sociologists and psychologists to submit hundreds of pages of evidence to the contrary.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco helped in the appeal, soliciting declarations from linguists, sociologists and psychologists. Carolyn Dever, an associate professor of English and women's and gender studies at Vanderbilt University, compared the term to "queer."

" 'Dyke' has been claimed by lesbians as a term of pride and empowerment, as a sign of the refusal to be shamed or stigmatized by lesbian sexuality and social identity and as a symbol of unity within lesbian communities past, present and future," Dever wrote in her declaration.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution in July urging the federal office to accept the application to trademark the name.

Link (via Lawgeek)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:50:38 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xmas card designs for plumbers

Masterplumber.com has a selection of Xmas card designs for plumbers and heating engineers, featuring holly-bedecked radiators and boilers, and this jaunty elf frolicking with a toilet. Link (via Making Light)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:44:45 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Blab! #16 is available

200512091639The new issue of Monte Beauchamp's awe-inspiring comic art and illustration magazine, Blab, just came out. The front and back cover is by Boing Boing favorite Tim Biskup, and interior art and stories are by Bob Staake, Gary Baseman, Drew Friedman, Lou Brooks, Peter Kuper, and many more. As an editor, Beauchamp is pushing the boundaries of comic books stories, and as an art director, his design is gorgeous. (Shown here: "Humanamals" by Mats!?)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 04:45:07 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bedazzled tells wingnuts to take a flying leap through a rolling do-nut

Spike Priggen of the fantastic blog, Bedazzled, has gotten a few complaints from visitors who don't like his occasional political posts. His reply echos my sentiments about people who complain about Boing Boing's political posts.
200512091443 [Right wing Bedazzled reader:] "I would like, however, to see the music postings somehow seperated (sp) from your other postings. I, like many others, do not hold with the same political views as you and I would like to not have to sift through your vitriole (sp) simply to access the better materials you offer. Perhaps a seperate site or some kind of sorting method can be implemented?"

[Spike:] Are you f*cking crazy? I'm gonna re-design my site so I don't offend the type of people that I think are ruining America? Why are you wasting my time with a question like that? Isn't it enough that that the mainstream media is overwhelmingly slanted to the right? You want my blog too? F*ck You. How's that for "vitriole"? Bottom line is I'm not gonna change anything to make wingnuts feel better about themselves while they're here. Sorry.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:44:26 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cyclone pinball machine art

Cyclone BB pal (and MAKE: publisher) Dale Dougherty visited with some pinball machine restoration hackers and spotted this amazing piece of art on a Cyclone machine from 1988. Check out Nancy and Ronald Reagan in the front seats of the coaster car! Of course, Nancy is sporting a "Say no to drugs" t-shirt. This photo of the classic cabinet is from the phenomenal Internet Pinball Database. Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:19:03 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Privacy implications of Microsoft's Windows Live Local

Mike Liebhold, my colleague at the Institute for the Future, is deep into the geohacking scene. He just took a look at Microsoft's new Virtual Earth incarnation, Windows Live Local and found some big privacy concerns. Below is the entirety of Mike's post to the Geowanking listserv:
The service includes a feature called "locate me" which launches a Placelab-like wifi base-station geolocation technique.called 'Location Finder" which listens for the MAC address and compares it to a client cache of locations of known base stations. Placelab, which was developed by Intel Labs, is available free for download on sourceforge, and as many people may know, was explicitly designed by Intel to be 'privacy observant'. Unlike most e-911 and mobile phone location systems which sureveil, and actively track a users location, Placelab was designed to present location coordinates privately to a user, without querying, or notifying the network. IMHO this is a noble design goal.

Microsoft's "Location Finder" program, on the other hand, includes the following disclaimer in the terms and conditions link which says "Your privacy is important to us. Click here to see our privacy policy:"

"Use of Location Information ... Microsoft may use the information collected to provide you with more effective customer service, to improve Location Finder and any related Microsoft products or services,...

Microsoft may disclose location information if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to (a) conform to the edicts of the law or comply with legal process served on Microsoft; (b) protect and defend the rights or property of Microsoft and our family of Web sites; or (c) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees or agents, users of Microsoft products or services, or members of the public.

Location information collected by Location Finder may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries or agents maintain facilities. "

So much for privacy of Microsoft's 'Location finder' program. If this is unpalatable to you, you may be interested in trying as I did an alternate location techique. Instead of 'Location Finder' local.live.com also offers users a choice to select IP location lookup. As discussed here in the past, IP geolocation is an imperfect art, dependent of the accuracy of the data in the offical IANA database (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.) In my case, my IP address has shown that am in San Diego, since that's where my IP connection is officially terminated at the downlink center for my satellite service provider. I'm actually connected to the Internet via a KuBand satellite in the remote wilds of Northern California, a long ways away. The location of my dish is simply not visible to the net. It looks, to the net, like I'm in San Diego, over 700 miles south.

So, you might understand that I was quite suprised and dismayed that Microsoft's IP lookup returned my actual location in the woods in Northern California !!! Just to be sure they didn't get my address from my satellite service provider, I called the Network Operations Center, who said the location of my dish is private, but looked up my record anyway, and confirmed "Our database, and the IANA database show your IP address is in San Diego." Clearly Microsoft's IP location database includes spooky datamined information about users' actual location that is not normally available by querying the publically accessible databases.

Be forewarned.

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:13:05 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

17-year-old kid busted for making booby-trapped pens

The LA Times reports that a 17-year-old boy from Rosemead, CA has fessed up to making booby-trapped pens and leaving them on the ground. When the pens were uncapped, they'd explode. He was apparently upset that he had been expelled from school, and decided to take out his anger on random people.
The books seized by investigators described explosive-making procedures but did not say how to rig a pen to detonate, Miller said. "Coming up with the idea was his doing," he said.

The incidents started at Rosemead High School on Aug. 24 while students were registering for school. A construction worker on campus picked up a pen near a line of students and it exploded in his hands. In September, another small blast occurred when a female resident of Rosemead picked up a pen just outside the school's fence.

A week ago, a student was injured at El Monte High School when he picked up a felt-tip pen in a restroom.

Link (Here's a December 6 story about the exploding pens, before they found the darkside maker)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:09:43 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Robert Sheckley has died

Robert Sheckley, master author of classic comic sf novels like The Tenth Victim, and former fiction editor of Omni magazine, has died. He was 77. Rest in peace, Sheck. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:11:22 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Oksana Badrak and Miles Thompson at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle

An art show with Oksana Badrak and Miles Thompson is opening Friday Dec 9th 6-10pm at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle.
Image-1Come see Oksana Badrak’s incredible new works, a combination of digital work and meticulously painted pieces on paper. Miles Thompson's work features retro-inspired pin up girls based on calendar girls, incorporating elements of tiki, bachelor, and nudie girl kitsch.
(shown here: Oksana Badrak “ The Birds and The Bees”) Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:01:34 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

HOWTO make a macro photography lens

Match Photocritic.org has posted a great guide to making your own inexpensive macro photography rig from cannibalized lens- and body-covers and a Pringles can. This is an image of a burning match.
Link (via MAKE: Blog)

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:50:24 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Yahoo! bought del.icio.us!

From the del.icio.us/blog:
We're proud to announce that del.icio.us has joined the Yahoo! family. Together we'll continue to improve how people discover, remember and share on the Internet, with a big emphasis on the power of community. We're excited to be working with the Yahoo! Search team - they definitely get social systems and their potential to change the web. (We're also excited to be joining our fraternal twin Flickr!)
Link (Thanks, Phil Torrone!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:14:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Beer science

The cover story of this week's issue of Science News is about the chemistry behind beer flavor. Scientists are attempting to understand how the combination of a huge number of compounds affect the taste of the beverage, efforts that could eventually result in a more skunk-resistant brew. From the article:
The first push to delve into the mystery of beer flavor occurred in the mid-1970s, when a team of flavor chemists from 40 countries identified 800 chemical compounds in the beverage. These compounds—some individually, most in combination—contribute nearly 125 distinct flavors to beer. Brewers use the word flavor broadly, to include tastes, odors, and mouthfeel.

Today, says Morten C. Meilgaard, who chaired this international group, the total has risen to over 1,000 compounds. Studying the chemical constituents of beer is "like looking at the night sky," he says. "The closer you look, the more stars you can see."

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:46:57 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tribe.net self-censoring to conform with 2257 porn laws?

Author and sexblogger/podcaster Violet Blue tells Boing Boing that popular social networking site Tribe.net is proactively, voluntarily applying 2257 laws to its members and service architecture.

This makes approximately zero-to-the-tenth-power sense. Tribe is not a producer of content, they're a forum for end-users to communicate and share content they create or collect. What's next? AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo ban jpeg attachments because there's no way to enforce age documentation for amateur nudie shots swapped by users of those free email services?

Two weeks ago Tribe asked me for a phone meeting; I didn't know what it was about but I figured it had something to do with Tribe's mature content. They explained to me in a half-hour conference call that they were gearing up to change Tribe's architecture (entry pages, etc) to conform to updated 2257 laws, which are record keeping requirements.

The federal law now requires website owners to keep *physical* records documenting, among other things, that "a book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, digitally- or computer-manipulated image, digital image, picture, or other matter that contains a visual depiction of an actual human being engaged in actual sexually explicit conduct" is over the age of 18. Visual depictions *after* 1990, mind you.

(...) I think they are making a huge mistake, based on a law that is unenforcable. The law violates privacy -- I was sent the 2257 information for the porn performers I featured in my last podcast. I now have enough information to steal the actual identity, and stalk, every performer in that film. They performers don't even know I have that information, or who else might have it as a legal requirement, and nothing makes me more uncomfortable than having that information in my posession.

The law is meant for primary and secondary producers of porn, not online communities. The law violates our federal right to freedom of speech. The law is obstensibly created "to protect children from being exploited as [porn] performers", not healthy adult enjoyment of human sexuality. In truth, 2257 laws are less about protecting children from porn exploitation, but instead about regulating porn businesses, free speech and healthy adult sexual expression into unfesability.

Link to Violet Blue's blog post.
Link to text of law.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Bad news for free speech: "Children's Safety Act" passes in House
Rotten.com: gapingmaw, othersites shut in anticipation of 2257

Image: Jacob Appelbaum.

Reader comment: Tribe.net employee Gary says,

There are a number of interesting discussions going on at Tribe where our members are talking about the upcoming changes, and the impact of 2257.

Discussion of 2257 Legalities: Link; and General Discussion: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:23:03 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xbox 360 DRM makes your rip your CDs again

Microsoft's new Xbox 360 has a dumbass DRM countermeasure: it won't let you store MP3s on its hard-drive unless you rip your CDs again using your Xbox. My CDs are in a storage locker on a different continent -- there goes the whole Xbox-as-Media-Center thing. Thanks, Microsoft, for putting paranoid record execs' phobias ahead of your customers' legit needs.
Get used to ripping tracks from audio CDs because that's the only way we could get music onto the 360's HDD. The console could recognize and play MP3 songs from USB devices like memory sticks and portable media players, but we couldn't transfer songs over to the HDD. Similarly, the system could play songs from a data CD that contained MP3s, but we couldn't transfer the music directly to the system's HDD. The 360 can stream music from USB devices and data CDs, but it won't let you copy any songs from those sources.
Link (via Gizmodo)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:20:11 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photo of West Virginia's Braxton Beast?

Loren Coleman of Cryptomundo has posted this camera trap photo of "an unknown bipedal creature" taken in Braxton County, West Virginia. What the heck is it? (Please do not email your comments to me. Rather, post your opinions directly to Cryptomundo's comments section.) From the blog:
 Wp-Content FreakhumanoidaThe Cryptomundo correspondent, a 27-year-old gentleman, Frederick B. Gerwig, sends along this information in his initial email to me earlier this week: "Here is a picture that my father’s wildlife camera (motion activated) took around 12/07/05. We are not sure what it is, but it doesn’t look human. It very well could be a hunter or something, however, my father’s property is posted and this is a wildlife feeding site approximately 400 yards from their Braxton County, WV home. The proportions seem very strange as compared to those of a human. It is possible that it is low light distortion, but it seems very curious. Sorry the picture is so small. The camera he uses is somewhat low tech to prevent theft as it stays stationed at this location all the time until he picks it up to download and review the pictures on his PC. Let me know what you think…we are baffled by this image."

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:02:26 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Music publishers: Jail for lyric-sites

Matthew sez, "According to this BBC News story, Warner Chappell's legal threats against the creator of PearLyrics are just a preview of a campaign to be launched in 2006 by the Music Publishers Association. The MPA is seeking to take lyrics and tabs sites offline and-- get this-- 'Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can 'throw in some jail time I think we'll be a little more effective'.'"
"The Xerox machine was the big usurper of our potential income," he said. "But now the internet is taking more of a bite out of sheet music and printed music sales so we're taking a more proactive stance."
Link (Thanks, Matthew!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 08:21:19 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

EFF, CIPPIC co-launch Canadian cyber-rights group

Online Rights Canada is a new Canadian grassroots digital rights group, co-founded by EFF and CIPPIC, the excellent cyber-rights researchers at the University of Ottawa:
Online Rights Canada (ORC) is a grassroots organization that promotes the public's interest in technology and information policy. We believe that Canadians should have a voice in copyright law, access to information, freedom from censorship, and other issues that we face in the digital world. Join us by using the form on your right to sign up for email updates.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:30:31 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Japanese battle-pencils: using pencils like long dice

Jeshii, a teacher in Japan, discovered his students playing "battle pencils" ("Batoen") a game where you "roll" a standard-shaped hexagonal pencil and then gain or lose points based on the face that comes up. They're like long dice.
The rules are pretty simple. Your character starts out with 100 hit points (this is written on the pencil, so some characters might have more or less). You can play with 2-4 players. Start off by doing rock-paper-scissors. Winner rolls his pencil first. Then you do what it says on the side that faces up. Usually this is 'miss' or 'everyone takes 50 damage.' But it can also target certain types. Each pencil has a star or a circle band. So sometimes it will say, 'all circle banded characters take 40 damage.' Sometimes, the monster has special abilities. Like, 'roll one more time, and use the effects below' where there will be a different set of abilities. As you can guess, if you lose all your hit points, you are out. Generally, after you roll, it is the other guy's turn. When you gain hit points, you are capped off at 100.

Also, there is equipment, magical items, pets (all caps you attach to an end), and even helping erasers!

Link (Thanks, Jeshii!)

Update: Neil sez, "Pencil Cricket (cricket played with one or two six-sided pencils as "dice") has been around for ages, very popular with schoolboys in the UK at least, back when there weren't none of these fancy PSPs and internets.

"My dad remembers playing it aaaaaaages ago, complete with the fine detail of individual 'player's' careers, stats sheets and seasonal tournaments."

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:41:44 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Keyboard used as bean-sprouting medium

This page documents what appears to be a crop of beans that are being sprouted in the cracks between the keys on a standard keyboard. Link Real Link (via Digg)

Update: I'm not sure if this is the same thing, but Pesco blogged a similar prank back in June!

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:37:51 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Recorded dog laughter calms dogs

The dog "laugh" (a kind of panting made by happy dogs) can calm other dogs when played over a loudspeaker:
They say the long, loud pant is the sound of a dog laughing, and it has a direct impact on the behavior of other dogs...

When they played the sound of a dog panting over the loudspeaker, the gaggle of dogs at the shelter kept right on barking. But when they played the dog version of laughing, all 15 barking dogs went quiet within about a minute.

Link (via Neatorama)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:35:39 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bottles impossibly filled with impossible objects

Harry Eng, a former minister and elementary school teacher, makes these "impossible bottles" that are filled with objects that have been carefully squeezed through the necks of the bottles and arranged with tweezers and surgical haemostats. Link (via Neatorama)

Update: Derrick sez, "Technically, Harry Eng _made_ these objects; he passed away in 1996. However, other puzzle designers around the world have kept the tradition alive. See some of the entries at John Rausch's Puzzle World."

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:33:46 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

List of etailers' drop-dead dates for Xmas shipping

DealHack has published a list of the Christmas delivery ordering deadlines for a bunch of popular etailers. I finished my Xmas shopping last weekend at Spitalfields Market in London, though I bought nearly all of my gifts destined for US and Canadian friends from Amazon this year. However, I also had great luck buying from crafters, artists and artisans on Etsy and elsewhere.

Standard Shipping 12/16 (super saver); 12/19 (standard)
Express/2-Day Shipping 12/20
Overnight Shipping 12/21
Gift Card Shipping 12/18
Email Gift Certificates? Yes
Customer Service 1-800-201-7575
Exceptions Special Delivery items deadline: 12/13

Link (Thanks, Michael!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:26:56 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Fan to Hilltop Hoods: treating me like a thief is bad business

Popular Aussie hiphop Hilltop Hoods band released its first DVD, The Calling Live. Partway through the disk, the band breaks off to call its fans thieves, and to promise that future musical releases will have DRM to protect the band from its listeners. Pete, a big fan of the band, has written an open letter in response:
Anecdotally, if I hadn't downloaded Left Foot, Right Foot in 2001(?), it is quite possible that I would have never purchased it, or The Calling, or The Calling DVD. It's also unlikely that I would have purchased tickets to several Hilltop Hoods shows. The same goes for my sister, and the several friends for whom I've burned copies over the years. If I had not discovered the joys of the Hoods, I may not have sought out (and purchased) music by the likes of Layla, Drapht, Downsyde, Clandestein, Hunter, Fdel, Pegz, the Herd, Bliss n Eso, After Hours, Funkoars, Art of War, Bias B, Lazy Grey, Mnemonic Ascent, Reason, Plutonic Lab etc etc etc....

So Suffa, I absolutely reject your accusations of theft, and am hurt that you reject me as a fan. I thought you were cool, and that you understood. Now, I'm not so sure...

Link (Thanks, Pete!)

Update: The band responds:

Our only problem is with people who download mp3s, like the music, and don't follow it up by supporting the artist (and this only applies to people who can afford to). These people are effectively stealing our music. This music costs us money (studio equipment/promotion/lawyers/accountants/blah blah blah) and time (a couple of years of our lives per album) to make. We are independent artists and whether you agree with me or not I can tell you for a fact that music piracy has hurt us financially. Don't get me wrong, I'm not crying poor, the album did well and for the first time in my life I am able to make a living as a musician (and trust me, this is an amazing feeling for me as I've spent most of my life working in factories). But if you think we're 'rich' from this shit you'd be mistaken as well.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:23:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

HOWTO make a ring out of a plastic soda bottle

Tristan's written up a simple HOWTO for converting the neck of a magnum-sized plastic soda bottle into macho ring, using a Leatherman, a Dremel and a sanding sponge. Link (Thanks, Tristan!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:19:30 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

How copyright screws library record-collections

The Library of Congress's National Recording Preservation Board commissioned this research paper into the copyright obstacles faced by libraries that attempt to preserve and make available musical recordings:
Preservation efforts with respect to pre-1972 sound recordings are hampered by legal restrictions. For example, a work is considered to be in an "obsolete" format, eligible for preservation copying, only if the device necessary to play it is no longer "commercially available." Under this formulation, even LP and 78-rpm records are not eligible for copying as "obsolete," since turntables can still be purchased, even though they are no longer commonly used.

Preservation efforts are also hindered by significant ambiguities in the law. State laws govern copying and dissemination of pre-1972 sound recordings. A detailed survey, to be conducted by the National Recording Preservation Board, will likely clarify the scope of state criminal laws, but given the amorphous nature of common law and the variations among states, considerable uncertainty about what is allowable under the civil law of the various states is likely to remain, even after the survey is completed.

Link (Thanks, Betsy!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:15:37 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Functional cardboard chair designs

This site rounds up several designers' efforts to build folded cardboard chairs that are sturdy enough to sit on. Some are absolutely ingenious. Link (via Crib Candy)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:13:21 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Donald Watson, founder of veganism, RIP

Donald Watson, founder of veganism, has died at age 95. From an obituary in The Times:
While staying at the farm run by his much-loved Uncle George, Watson was shocked to see his uncle direct the slaughter of a pig. Its screams remained with him ever after. “I decided that farms — and uncles — had to be reassessed: the idyllic scene was nothing more than death row, where every creature’s days were numbered.” He became a vegetarian, but continued to worry about dairy and other animal products and the way in which their industries were linked to the slaughterhouses...

Towards the end of the war, Watson formed a committee of “non-dairy vegetarians”, who wanted to remove animal products entirely from their diet and initiate a new movement. He was keen to capitalise on the tuberculosis reported in Britain’s dairy cows, and the scarcity of eggs. He laid out the first issue of his Vegan News in November 1944, over 12 typed and stapled sheets of A4. The word vegan he took from the front and back end of “vegetarian”, expressing his belief that this new, absolutist diet was in fact the first impulse and the final destination of the vegetarian journey. He asked for other suggestions, and “dairyban”, “vitan”, “benevore”, “sanivore” and “beaumangeur” were offered, but most of the 25 members were happiest with vegan.
Link (Thanks, Candice D'Orsay)

posted by David Pescovitz at 03:51:53 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Keep a record of your click trail

Christopher from Düsseldorf says: "In a Boing Boing article today you wrote that you couldn't remember the 'click trail' that led you a specific page. I think you should have a look at the wonderful 'How'd I Get Here' firefox extension by Jesse Ruderman that solves just that problem." Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:33:16 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

SF event: Unsilent Night

For the third year in a row, my friend Colin Berry is producing an event in San Francisco called Unsilent Night.
Unsilent Night is a massive mobile boombox concert that snakes through the Mission District, each volunteer holding a boombox playing a *part* of the overall piece. It's written and orchestrated by a composer named Phil Kline, whom I fly out from NY to help me with it. He does Unsilent Nights all over the country these days, although he's done it in NY for 14 years.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:12:38 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Podcast: RU Sirius interviews Joy Babcock

RU Sirius interviews Jay Babcock, the editor of the great new counterculture newspaper, Arthur, on his show this week. Also, on NeoFiles, they've got a conversation with BB pal Douglas Rushkoff about his new book, "Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out." Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:09:17 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Powerhouse Pepper comic book stories, by Basil Wolverton

200512081353The late cartoonist Basil Wolverton is best known for his drawings of hideous-looking people: teeth with holes through them, blood vessels bulging out of foreheads, warts on warts, cavernous skin pores, tongues with grotesquely large taste buds, and so on. (One of Wolverton's claims to fame was winning an award given by Life magazine for the best drawing of Lena the Hyena, a character from Al Capp's L'il Abner, whose face was never shown in the strip.)

Here's a PDF file with several Powerhouse Pepper stories, a humor comic strip that Wolverton wrote and drew in the 1950s.
Link (Previous Wolverton coverage here)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:59:46 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

December issue of Lab Notes from Berkeley

My latest issue of Lab Notes, a research digest from UC Berkeley's College of Engineering, is online. Contents below. I hope you enjoy it!
 Labnotes 1205 Diatoms4A * Mind Machines: controlling robots with our minds

* Nature's Nanoshells: using diatoms for nanotechnology

* Robot Cameras in the Wild: telerobotic observatories-in-a-box

posted by David Pescovitz at 01:56:23 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Chair for parents of toddlers

 Images Salubrion-ChairAs the parent of a two-year-old, I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting on the floor, playing with her. After about five minutes, my back and hips are stiff and burning. The Salubrion Chair, designed to support your lumbar, looks like it might be just the ticket. Of course, I'll have to buy two of them, because my daughter will insist on sitting in it when we play.

Reader comment: Jenn says: "About a year or so ago, I got rid of my desk and chair and set up office at a coffee table on the floor. I use a traditional zafu meditation pillow to provide the same kind of support the Salubrion Seat does. Made from cotton canvas and filled with lentils, the zafu is a far more environmentally friendly option than anything made from dyed molded plastic. (Though admittedly not as cool looking.) It also allows for a greater variety of sitting positions, important to avoid the burning sensations in the hips and knees. I spend four or five hours a day sitting on the floor now.

"I switched to sitting on the floor after reading a piece in a yoga magazine about how weak and underutilized westerners' lower back and stomach muscles are from receiving the constant support of our expensive ergonomic chairs. I can definitely report that after so many months, my back and stomach are stronger and I've become far more flexible in my hips and knees. It's not always comfortable, but that's a good thing as well. Sitting at a computer all day often seems to make us numb to our own bodies. Working in this way, I find I can only ignore my body in ten-minute increments and then I have to shift.

"I should add that it's a very bad idea for people with weak knees or back. Even I go and sit at my dining table or at a cafe at least a day a week. Too much of anything is never good."


Reader comment: ToddZ says: "Hey Mark, I just noticed the floor-chair article, and reader Jenn's response.

"A while back I discovered another alternative for better seated posture. Sissel makes those inflated excercise balls that you see in the Pilates commercials, and they also advocate sitting on them as a chair replacement. The constant slight body position adjustments it requires serve to strenghen the back and torso muscles. Replacing my office chair with a big rubber ball was just a tad extreme for me, so I opted for the Sitfit, another product from Sissel. It looks like a fat inflated frisbee, and you simply drop it on your current chair and sit away! It causes the same kind of mandatory good posture as sitting on the ball does, and is much less obvious. I found it very effective, so I like to spread the word.

Reader comment: Peter Orosz says: "The office where I work is crammed with hideous office chairs and people with back pain constantly booking chiropractor appointments. Kati is a biker girl who sits next to me on a big purple ball she got on her physiotherapist's advice after she had to get lower back surgery. For a while, it was her single ball in a sea of office chairs, then last week, another girl got a ball and now there's a list of some 30 people signed up to get big rubber balls to sit on, which should make the office look rather Googleesque. I'm getting one myself after giving Kati's ball a try and liking the fact that I have to constantly readjust my sitting position. My intervertebral muscles can't wait."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:26:16 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

South African hoodoo healer's flyer

Boing Boing reader Pierre Nel says,

"I just uploaded a few flyers I scanned of a local witch doctor aka 'traditional healer' in my home town of Grahamstown, South Africa.

The guy claims to be able to cure AIDS, and other less serious (but strange) ailments."


Check out the large size of this image for a list of healing services which includes "bewitched," "women who can't ejaculate," and "promotion at work." The presence of a pipe there may indicate a connection to Bob Dobbs. Also, he has a cellphone.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:00:46 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Alarm clock wakes you with a noisy hovering chopper

This alarm clock launches a small, noisy helicopter to hover over your bed when it goes off:
One thing that sometimes wakes you up at night and prevents you from sleeping is the mosquito or blowfly when flying around your room. You can't and don't want to fall asleep again until you've caught it. These produces adrenalin and requires movements. The alarm clock blowfly works like a "blowfly" that at the desire time it escapes from a cage in your room. It starts moving and producing sound around you - to turn it off you should catch it and put it back in the cage.
Link (via Gizmodo)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:42:14 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments


Picture 1-58 Phil says: "The MAKEbot is a AIM/iChat buddy you add to your list. When you type latest, he will give you the latest headlines from Makezine.com. You can type subscribe 1 and he'll deliver the latest news each hour, lastly - if you type keywords like psp, welding, ipod or whatever he'll search the Makezine.com site and pages from MAKE and give you a link from our search engine to help you find what you're looking for... You can also type help to get a list of commands."


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:01:45 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"Christmas Story" in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies

Yet another Christmas Story parody, this one animated and re-enacted in less than 30 seconds by bunnies. Link (Thanks, John Mathot)

Video mashup: A Christmas Gory (inspired by Shining remix)

Reader comment: Jason Pitzl-Waters says,

You might want to also point to Angry Alien's portrayal of that other Christmas favorite "It's A Wonderful Life". It is spot on. Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:50:16 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Course in culture jamming

Saint Mary's College of California is offering a course called "Pranks: Culture jamming as social activism." One of the assignments is for the students to try to get a fake news story picked up by the news media. None of the students succeeded, but the class, taught by artist Ray Beldner, still sounds like it should be a requirement at all universities (and high schools). From Contra Costa Times:
Beldner said he wanted to teach students how to bring issues to the public eye using creative methods. His course syllabus defines "culture jamming" as "a resistance movement to the perceived hegemony of popular culture."

"These are serious-minded pranks," he said. "It's not just about people goofing around."

But journalists already have their hands full sifting facts from fiction without having to worry about deliberate misinformation, said Austin Long-Scott, who teaches journalism ethics at San Francisco State University. He compared the hoax to a computer virus.

"He is teaching students to try to screw up an important system that has enough trouble getting things right," Long-Scott said. "It's a destructive thing to do, and it violates a general societal ethic."

Destructive or not, Beldner said he would not stop his students from continuing to perpetuate a fictional issue, even if it led to an incorrect news story being published.

"We'd have to cross that bridge when we got to it," he said.

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:48:43 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

WaWa Digital cameras threatens to break customer's neck

Thomas Hawk, the blogger who previously outed PriceRitePhoto, a sleazy Internet-based camera store that practices bait-and-switch (order a camera from them and they'll call you up and bug you to buy overpriced accessories; if you decline, they cancel your order), has news on another bunch of dirtbags. These sleazo-s are Brooklyn's WaWa Digtial, and they called up a blogger and left him a voicemail threatening to break his neck:
"You better not pick up, bitch. I’m gonna to come down there and break your god damn neck. You heard me, alright? Kid, you better hear me, bitch. Do you hear me, BITCH? Yes, you’d better believe it. You’re in biiiig trouble, my friend." This was the voicemail reportedly left on a customer's voicemail after he refused to buy overpriced accessories and instead wanted to cancel his order when he was abused by a salesperson at WaWa Digital in Brooklyn, New York...

By the way, the BBB reports the parent company of WaWa Digital as Starlight Cameras at 295 Avenue O, Brooklyn, NY. 866-621-1697. They also do business as Accessories Land, I.N.S. Digital World, Stargate Photo, and The Camera Whiz.


Update: Kelly sez, "The 866 phone number you have for Starlight Camera (parent company of the assault-oriented WaWaDigital) does not work. However, they do have a regular phone number which is 718-627-7111."

Update 2 LO2 has remixed the MP3 of the threatening voicemail.

Update 3 Dan took some pix of WaWa Digital, but got chased off by the store's violent nutbar clerks. Sure looks like a class establishment, though.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:35:06 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Amazing collection of Yeti art and tchotchkes

 Jots Madyeti-1 Henry Stokes, the Anonymous Philanthropist, has compiled a mind-blowingly massive online gallery of Yeti ephemera, from abominable snowman art to stunningly strange toys.
Link (via Cryptomundo)

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:00:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Videogame teaches female sexual gratification

Heather Kelley, a videogame designer with Ubisoft, wanted to create a game to "teach techniques of female sexual gratification to a target audience of females." The result is "Lapis, A magical pet adventure." You can download and play Lapis for free from Kelley's site. From her description of the game:
 Lapis LapisscreenDepending on how you touch the bunny, it reacts to being touched.

Players manipulate the creature (bunny) on the touchscreen, which gives them magical energy to fly

You can touch the bunny in different ways – stroking, scratching, tickling, etc

Also can use the microphone to talk, sing to, blow on the fur…

The bunnies are analogous to female anatomy… not literal looking, but evocative Link

And from a CanWest News Service article:
The more (players) stimulate the bunny, the happier he becomes until eventually he begins flying through the air. But Lapis is also an unpredictable creature who needs a variety of sensations. Sometimes, no amount of stimulation is going to work.

"Sex is a perfectly natural part of the human experience and there has to be a way to handle it meaningfully and tastefully in games,'' said Kelley, who took first prize for the prototype at the Montreal International Games Summit last month.
Link (Thanks, Vann Hall!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:50:11 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mobile WiMAX 802.16e standard approved

BB pal Jim Leftwich says: "Huge, long-anticipated news in the mobile wireless world! The IEEE-SA Standards Board approves Mobile WiMAX 802.16e standard. Now comes the hard part - building it out, which is going to be a massive and long-term undertaking." Link to an article in The Register, Link to Om Malik's first take on the news

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:39:45 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Googleverse online roundtable with Battelle, Malik, Cohn, and others

SiliconValley.com is hosting a weeklong online roundtable about all that is Google. Along with Om Malik, Cindy Cohn, and other experts, BB band manager John Battelle, author of The Search, is weighing in. Link

posted by David Pescovitz at 10:30:54 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xeni on NPR: Battle over backyard cyclotron in Alaska heats up

For today's edition of the NPR News program "Day to Day," I filed a report on the brouhaha brewing in Alaska over a nuclear particle accelerator destined for a science enthusiast's home.

Civil engineer and nuclear technician Albert Swank wants to build a circular particle accelerator, or cyclotron, in his garage in a well-manicured residential area adjacent to downtown Anchorage, Alaska.

But some of his neighbors aren't too comfortable with the idea, and they've convinced the city assembly to propose a law specifically forbidding the cyclotrons in residential areas.

Swank wants to rebuild a cyclotron being decommissioned at Johns Hopkins University to create radioactive isotopes for Alaska hospitals. The isotopes are used to treat cancer and are also used in imaging machines.

Link, archived audio online after 12PM PT/3PM ET.

Here's a report I filed for Wired News, and here's a related /. thread

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:23:25 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Report: "hallucinogenic chemical weapons" in Iraq

Snip from Defensetech blog:
The story starts over a year ago with a Marine blogger in Iraq. On June 2nd 2004 "The Green Side" (...) describes suicidal attacks by insurgents in Fallujah: “We could not understand why they kept coming but they did.” The reason, it turned out, was drugs: “…these ‘holy warriors’ are taking drugs to get high before attacks. It true, as we pushed into the town in April many Marines came across drug paraphernalia (mostly heroin). Recently, we have gotten evidence of them using another drug BZ that makes them high and very aggressive.”

BZ is not your typical substance of abuse. It’s a hallucinogenic chemical weapon. This weird concept originated in the 1950’s when “better living through chemistry” was a slogan to live by and warfare without blood was the goal.


Reader comment: Nigel Hall says,

Use of drugs to amp up Islamic attackers isn't exactly news. This from the Wikipedia entry for "assasin": "The term Assassin originally referred to a heretical Islamic order known as the Hashshashin. According to one derivation, the word means "those who use hashish" (cannabis resin) in Arabic because, according to Crusader histories, that group used to ingest hashish before carrying out military or assassination operations, in order to be fearless."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:17:20 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Search engine for webcomics speech-balloons

T sez, "OhNoRobot is a search engine for the words in webcomics that works off distributed volunteer transcription, collecting the efforts of fans and cartoonists alike to build its database. In a few short weeks, even with the distractions of the holiday season, it's grown to 15,000 transcriptions of over 180 series."
If you make a comic and put it on the Web, it's because you want that comic to be read. And if a comic deserves to be read, it deserves to be found. Especially by people who are looking for something like it. It deserves to be searched. If it can't be searched, a feeling of futility condenses in the air.

And webcomics have a serious searchability deficit.

Google is comics-illiterate.

Link, Link to manifesto (Thanks, T!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:11:50 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

MPAA advisory on how to tell pirated DVDs from real ones

The Motion Picture Association of America released a media advisory to journalists this morning "Offer[ing] tips to holiday shoppers to steer clear of counterfit CDs, DVDs" and to "stop Grinches from stealing copyrights." Snip:

“The holiday season is a time to for people to enjoy quality entertainment with family and friends and we want to make sure that consumers are safeguarded against pirates peddling counterfeit products,” said MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman. “With so many people buying movies and music for their friends and loved ones, we want to ensure that buyers are getting the real Chicken Little and not some pirated turkey.”
The advisory goes on to list helpful pointers for determining whether the DVD you're buying is legit or counterfit. Strangely, "back of dude's head in middle of screen throughout movie" and "store consists of worn cardboard box in gutter on Canal Street" are not among them.

Here at Boing Boing, we'd like to do our part to edumacate vulnerable consumers, so we now point you to the Crappy Bootleg DVD Covers pool on Flickr for furthr schooling.

See exhibit A, above. If the DVD you bought from that guy in the alley contains all three Lord of the Rings, all three Harrys Potter, and Earthsea to boot -- well, let's just say Hollywood would never be that generous with you.

Link. Image: one of the snapshots you'll find in the Crappy Bootleg DVD Covers pool, "DVD Dork" by amalthya.

Reader comment: Jemal says,

I know how to tell real from pirated: pirated DVDs don't take over your DVD player to keep you from skipping through the 60-second anti-piracy movie.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:44:03 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Master/Slave retro DOS prompt accessories

Think of them as the nerd equivalent of "I'm with Stupid" t-shirts. The terms "master" and "slave" refer to relationships between computers in I.T. parlance, but slap those words on a decorative rosette (to be worn on a tux, perhaps?) and... Link (Thanks, JK)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:22:15 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Competition: design a cart for homeless people

Designboom has announced a competition to design an affordable, functional art for homeless people.
200512080854Urban homeless use carts to carry their possessions and to collect goods (like bottles, cardboard, etc.) that they then return to various recyclers in exchange for cash. This provides a small and valuable income. It is essential that your cart design not only accommodates all these functions but that it is affordable (for production and for private parties or charity organisations who wish to donate them).

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:56:11 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Video mashup: A Christmas Gory (inspired by Shining remix)

What if A Christmas Story was a horror film? "No, Ralphie -- you really *will* shoot your eye out with that Red Rider BB gun." Boing Boing reader Darryl explains, "It's part of our agency's holiday greeting card. On the ChristmasGory website, we've included a link to our inspiration for the piece, which of course is the Shining remix."
Link to online streams, and a handy version for your video iPod (or similar pocket player).

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:29:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

TMZ.com launches

Named after the "thirty mile zone" that defined Hollywood in the 1930s, AOL's new entertainment site TMZ.com goes live today. Expect many illicit "stars-behaving-badly" viral videos to follow.

One item on the site this morning relates to an eBay auction purporting to offer "The old Hollywood sign" for sale. The listing generated so much confusion in recent weeks that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce issued a news release to reporters last night, which reads in part (sorry, no copy online):

Hollywood Chamber President and CEO Leron Gubler emphatically affirms: “The existing Hollywood Sign (...) is not, and never will be, for sale. When the Chamber rebuilt the Sign in 1978, we built it to last, and it is now being well maintained by the Hollywood Sign Trust.”

The confusion began Tuesday evening, when during an EBay auction, fragments of the “HOLLYWOOD” Sign, built in 1949, were purchased for $450,000. The seller was a West Los Angeles entrepreneur who had acquired the Sign from an individual who had obtained the remains of the Sign in 1978, and who had kept it in storage for decades.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:15:39 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

19th c. book: Geography for Dixie Children

A geography textbook for "Dixie Children," printed in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1863. Here's a snip from the accompanying lesson plan:
Q. Which race is most civilized.
A. The Caucasian.

Q. Which are the most ferocious and savage?
A. The Indian, Mongolian, Maylay and African.

Q. Is the African savage in this country?
A. No; they are docile and religious here.

Q. How are they in Africa where they first come from?
A. They are very ignorant, cruel and wretched[.]

Link to "The Geographical Reader, for the Dixie Children" (Thanks, Mick)

Reader comment: Pat Beighley says, "Did you see the description of the Trail of Tears? Unbelievable!"

4. The Cherokee Indians occupied part of this State, and had learned to live much like the white people. They had fine farms with slaves to work them, good houses, much cattle, sheep, hogs and horses. They also had a newspaper, and sent their children to good schools. But in the year 1836 the white people made a treaty with them, to pay them 5,000,000 dollars to remove to Indian Territory, where they were to have seven millions acres of new land. So most of them went away, and now live in the west, where there are more hunting grounds, and where the white people will not molest them. This tribe and others take sides with the South in the great struggle for independence.
Reader comment: Paul Jones of the University of North Carolina says,
The textbook Dixie Children was printed to provide "education" during the Civil War. UNC holds a lot of material from that period. People who read it are outraged. They should be. These texts are evidence of what the war was all about and of the thinking of the Confederate elite.

At a time when a church school in Cary (just beside Raleigh where the 1863 book was published) is teaching from a pamphlet titled "Southern Slavery: As It Was" which tells us that "slavery was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence", we need to blunt force of historical evidence to impell us to face the sad facts.

See this on the Cary school: Link. The authors have tried to hide their book but Amazon's "search inside" feature lets you know what's in it.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:46:54 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Peter Pan skull ring

Hot pink resin set with pink and white Swarovski crystal. Bad. Azz. Link (via this Village Voice article, thanks Dahling)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:04:10 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

DJ Riko's Christmas mix album

DJ Riko, the mashup genius behind Whistler's Delight, has released a 70-minute MP3 mix-CD of his favorite Xmas oddities, including rarities, non-English songs, and lots of upbeat holiday tuneage:
I'm happy to announce that Merry Mixmas 2005 is now available for download. It's my fourth annual mix of Christmas music, and has been given the official thumbs-up by Santa himself. The mix includes songs that are very old and very new, sung in English, Spanish, Japanese and other languages, and played on banjos, guitars, strings, horns and other instruments...

1. Intro
2. Singers Unlimited - Caroling Caroling
3. DJ Riko featuring Marcie - My Chimney
4. Luscious Jackson - Let it Show
5. The Free Design - Now Sound of Christmas
6. Lou Monte - Dominick the Donkey
7. Louis Armstrong - Cool Yule
8. Mr Hanky - Santa Claus is on His Way
9. The Ventures - Silver Bells
10. George W. Bush - Twas the Night Before Christmas (Jima edit)
11. Kids of Widney High - Christmas is the Time
12. Ringo Starr - Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
13. Madness - Insanity Over Christmas
14. Augie Rios - Donde Esta Santa Claus
15. Disney - Santa's Rap
16. Pizzicato Five - Snowflakes
17. Chet Baker - Winter Wonderland
18. Neil Diamond - Santa Claus is Coming to Town
19. Big Ben Banjo Band - Christmas Medley 2
20. Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chimpunk Song (Slow Version)
21. Bright Eyes - Little Drummer Boy
22. Tenchi Muyo vs. The Singing Dogs - Jingle Bells
23. Wayne Newton - Jingle Bell Hustle
24. Buchanan & Goodman - Santa and the Satellite
25. Esquivel! - Frosty the Snowman
26. Huey Piano Smith and the Clowns - All I Want for
27. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - Santa Claus is Coming to Town
28. Santa Claus - A Visit From Santa Claus
29. Little Bobby Rey - Corrido de Auld Lang Syne
30. Santa Outro

Torrent Link Updated Torrent Link, MP3 Link (Thanks, DJ Riko!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:17:22 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Giant jellyfish destroying Asian fisheries

Giant, 450lb jellyfish are plaguing the fisheries of China, South Korea and Japan, killing fish, breaking nets, and poisoning the catch.
They are 6ft wide and weigh 450lb (200kg), with countless poisonous tentacles, they have drifted across the void to terrorise the people of Japan. Vast armadas of the slimy horrors have cut off the country’s food supply. As soon as one is killed more appear to take its place...

In the meantime locals are making the best of it — rather than just complaining about jellyfish they are eating them.

Jellyfish are an unusual ingredient of Japanese cuisine but are much more prized in China. Coastal communities are doing their best to promote jellyfish as a novelty food, sold dried and salted.

Link (via Collision Detection)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:13:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Random crap you can turn your DNA into

Steve collected all the weird crap you can have your sequenced genome turned into, including:

* Portraits of your DNA
* A tie
* A tuning fork
* Music
* Jewellery
* Mirrors
* Champagne Flutes Link (Thanks, Steve!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:09:24 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

LA Weekly on Nintendogs

My eight-year-old daughter and every one of her girlfriends has a Nintendo DS and the Nintendogs cartridge. She has been playing it daily for a couple of months and she and her friends talk about their virtual puppies all the time.

Joshua Berman at the LA Weekly has nice essay on Nintendogs, about how "virutal pets represent a new development in the man-machine interface."

200512071653 Therein lies Nintendogs inexorable pull: It’s the first game powered by empathy. These things are much more convincing than the Tomogatchis, those rudimentary keychain creatures from the first virtual pet craze a decade ago. Nintendogs go a long way toward satisfying a sort of canine Turing test: If they look and act enough like dogs, then at a simple cognitive level, they’re a pretty good substitute. It’s rewarding when your digital dogs bring you a present, upsetting when they try to eat trash on walks, and they’re so cute that when you find a big green floppy hat you want to make them wear it until you see in their little faces that they know the big green floppy hat is really a form of humiliation and you half-reluctantly take it off.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 04:57:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xeni on CNN: handheld video gadget taste test

I'll be host Kristie LuStout's guest on CNN International at 345PM PT/645PM ET today. We'll take a look at the latest crop of handheld devices for watching movie trailers, TV episodes, video podcasts, and the like. Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 02:30:42 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photography: N. Pushpamala

Shown here, Sunhere Sapne (1–10), hand–painted b/w photographs, 1998, 9" x 7". Link, more about the artist in this post on Bruce Sterling's blog. Oh, look, here's an article about her from 2002 on Hindu.com.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 01:44:39 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

LED flashlight kit

From aaron Dunlap, the same fine fellow who sells the 9V USB charger-in-an-Altoids-tin kit, here the mini LED flashlight kit. Just $8.50.
200512071334It's lit by a single LED that's unbelievably bright. My initial design called for 3 LEDs (the kind you can get from Radio Shack) in a series (at a painful $3 per LED), but from my parts supplier I found this industrial-grade LED that can get the same amount of lumines from just the one. LEDs are great for flashlights because they don't burn out for something like 1000 years, and they require a very small voltage current so you won't have to replace the batteries for a loooong time.

For people daunted by all the fidgety work involved in the USB kits, this LED flashlight project should be just the ticket. I just put one of these together in 5 minutes.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:38:35 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Rhinestone Brass Knuckles

Make the world your bitch -- elegantly -- with a set of rhinestone-encrusted brass knuckles in gold or silver. Link (Thanks, Violet Blue!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:49:12 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Loren Coleman on Borneo's "new" animal

 Wp-Content Newborneoanimal Over at Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman considers whether the mysterious cat-size creature caught on camera in Borneo may actually be a rediscovery of a Hose's Palm Civet, previously thought to be extinct. (Link to World Wildlife Fund's story from yesterday about the strange animal caught on film.)
Link to Cryptomundo

posted by David Pescovitz at 11:32:05 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Book: SKIP, by David Newsom

Viggo Mortensen and actor / photographer David Newsom have collaborated to produce Skip, a beautiful book about Newsom's developmentally disabled older brother. I met with Newsom earlier this week in Los Angeles to speak with him about the project, and to take a look at a copy fresh off the presses. Mortensen's Perceval Press printed the book in Spain, and it looks terrific. Skip is a moving portrait in Newsom's prose and images, and I loved it.

Link. (Thanks, Lance Mazmanian)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 11:18:35 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Katrina: Why FEMA is evil, part umptybillion

Last year, photographer and New Orleans native Clayton James Cubitt used much of his life savings to buy a trailer home for his single, working-poor mom and teen brother to live in. This year, hurricane Katrina destroyed it. Clayton has been traveling from NYC to New Orleans since then to help mom and brother get back on their feet and navigate aid application nightmares. Now comes more bad news: FEMA refuses to give his mom any disaster relief money because he lives in New York, and the trailer was purchased in his name. Link to first-person account. (thanks, matt leclair)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:53:47 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Online news now eligible for Pulitzer prize consideration

"Internet journalism received a leap in recognition Wednesday as the Pulitzer Prize Board widened its submission guidelines to include online material for all of its journalism categories." Link (Thanks, Bob)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 10:47:02 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

New Gawker media site: The Consumerist

The Consumerist is a new blog that exposes retail scammers, poorly engineered products, and lousy customer service. Gawker chief Nick Denton says it's "a shopping site, with the Gawker signature, of bitterness and frustration. Think Consumer Reports, if written by someone who's been on hold for an hour with customer service in Bangalore." I love it. Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:39:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Free, open source video-game cabinet games

Jamma Forever develops and releases free, open source video games intended for play on modified arcade cabinets running MAME. They've got two games online now, Stompin' Game, based on Dinosaur Comics and Whose Round is it Anyway?, a bar-quiz game. They're looking for new contributions, too.
Most people who grew up with games like Street Fighter 2 and Raiden Fighters will have fond memories of the Old-School arcades; row after row of upright JAMMA cabinets, each one containing a wonderful surprise for the pittance of twenty British pence - as opposed to the ten enormous machines you're lucky to find in an arcade these days, stinging you for a quid each game. Nowadays, those old JAMMA cabs are good for nowt but MAME and nostalgia. But the JAMMA system is flexible and adaptable enough to allow you to wire up just about anything, including a PC running whatever software you like. There are tons of websites out there dedicated to the pursuit of building MAME-converted arcade machines - so what's this site for?

This site exists to make new games for old JAMMA cabinets. We live in a time when a single person can make a 90's style shoot-em-up in a couple of months. Old PC hardware is being thrown away, along with knackered JAMMA cabinets. Seems a shame to waste such flexible technology.

Link (Thanks, Caveman Joe!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:19:26 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sony's DRM security fix leaves your computer more vulnerable

This morning, I blogged about a bug that EFF discovered in the Mediamax spyware that Sony includes on 50 of the CDs it releases in Canada and the US. EFF got Sony to release a bug-fix for it, but it turns out that the uninstaller leaves your computer more insecure than the bug!

Sony seems incapable of writing programs to uninstall the malicious software it secretly installs on your computer when you play its CDs (Mediamax installs on your PC even if you decline the agreement and eject the CD). Sony also seems incapable of producing a DRM system that doesn't contain rootkits, spyware, and/or security vulnerabilities. The combination is deadly.

# SonyBMG has released a patch that purports to fix the problem. However, our tests show that the patch is insecure. It turns out that there is a way an adversary can booby-trap the MediaMax files so that hostile software is run automatically when you install and run the MediaMax patch.

# The previously released MediaMax uninstaller is also insecure in the same way, allowing an adversary to booby-trap files so that hostile software is run automatically when you try to use the uninstaller.


Previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:11:54 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cory's programmable logic editorial in today's NYT

I have an editorial about the effect of programmable logic on gizmo design on the front page of today's New York Times Christmas Circuits section:
PLASTIC created the age of whimsical forms. Suddenly a radio could look like a moo cow. A chair could look like an egg. Toy ray guns could bulge and swoop. The exuberant designers of the golden age of plastic explored all the wacky, nonfunctional, decorative shapes that household objects could take.

Now that same plasticity is coming to microcontrollers, the computer chips that act as brains for the chirping, dancing, listening and seeing devices that line our knickknack shelves and dashboards and fill our pockets. The proliferation of cheap and cheerful programmable chips promises a new age of "whimsical logic," chips that power devices whose functions are as delightfully impractical as their forms, the sort of thing you find in a stocking but keep on your desk forever.


posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:42:58 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Archaeological anachronisms photoshopping contest

Today on the Worth 1000 photoshopping contest: anachronistic artifacts being unearthed by archaeologists. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 07:52:05 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

EFF forces Sony/Suncomm to fix its spyware -- UPDATED

EFF commissioned a research firm to investigate security vulnerabilities caused by the Suncomm Mediamax spyware, which Sony has included on some 50 CDs, and forced them to release a fix for the vulnerabilities:
The security issue involves a file folder installed on users' computers by the MediaMax software that could allow malicious third parties who have localized, lower-privilege access to gain control over a consumer's computer running the Windows operating system.

SONY BMG will notify consumers about this vulnerability and the update through the banner functionality included on the player, as well as through an Internet-based advertising campaign. The update is also being provided to major software and Internet security companies. EFF and SONY BMG urge all consumers who receive notice to download and install the patch immediately. In accordance with standard information security practices, EFF and iSEC delayed public disclosure of the details of the exploit to provide SunnComm the opportunity to develop an update.

Link (Thanks, Fred, Matt and Guillaume!)

Update: Sony blew the uninstaller -- it leaves your computer even worse off than the Mediamax does. Christ, they just suck, huh?

Previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:19:03 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Warner Music attacks specialized web-browser

Jamie Zawinski sez,
PearLyrics is a program that displays the lyrics of the currently-playing track in iTunes: it gets the lyrics from the ID3 tag in the MP3 file, or if they aren't in there, it searches for them on a few different web sites, and then saves them into the MP3s.

It's very handy: I managed to use it to download the lyrics for almost half of my music collection in one fell swoop.

Except that the author got a "Cease and Desist" letter from Warner/Chappel Music, who seem to think that his program -- which is, basically, nothing more than a specialized web browser -- is somehow in violation of their copyrights.

But, the author doesn't have the time or money to risk a lawsuit, so he panicked and pulled it.

Link (Thanks, JWZ!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:14:27 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Seattle's awesome gingerbread house display

Seattle's City Center is hosting an elaborate gingerbread house display -- here's a small gallery of pix from it. Link (Thanks, Miss Cellania!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:12:27 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Reflective skeleton cycling jacket

Last week, Xeni blogged skater skull-hoodies with spine and ribs screened on both sides. Here's a cyclist's version -- a training jacket with a ribcage and spine on it in reflective ink. Link (Thanks, Christopher)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:06:08 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Candy salesman's catalog from 1949

This is an entire 1949 NWCA candy-salesman's catalog, scanned in at medium resolution. Loads of clip-art treasure here. Link (Thanks, Candy Addict!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:00:23 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Hello Kitty Fender guitars and amps

Fender has released a line of Hello Kitty guitars and amps, including a Batz Maru bass and a Hello Kitty Stratocaster in pink and black! Link (via Gizmodo)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:55:55 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

What's involved in different publishing jobs?

Penguin UK has posted a series of interviews with various peopl einvolved in book production, from rights-clearance to distribution to IT. It's a great peek inside what the different jobs are like inside Penguin's corner of the publishing industry.
Who are you and what do you do?
Richard Screech. Penguin General Sales Rep for Central London & Heathrow.

What's the first thing you do every morning?
Apart from ensuring that my laptop batteries are fully charged I check my diary to see which lucky shops will have the benefit of me visiting them that day.

What do you spend most of your time doing?
My time is split between subscribing new titles, ensuring good displays of our many, many bestsellers and also stockchecking backlist. This can often mean getting involved with a shop's own EPOS system. As an example, reps have been able to help overcome the severe staff shortages that are currently being experienced in Waterstones branches by checking their core stoc

Link (via Making Light)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:48:25 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Olive bowl solitaire game

This olive bowl doubles as a game of marble-solitaire, wherein one jumps marbles around a plus-shaped grid, clearing those that are jumped and attempting to clear as many marbles as possible. Clever! Link (via Cribcandy)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:43:58 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Boing Boing exclusive: Surviving Hurricane Wilma

My friend, Ralph T. Castle, lives in Florida, and he was there when Hurricane Wilma hit. He wrote a fascinating, 13,000 word account of his experience, which we are running as a Boing Boing exclusive.
Hurricane3-3 My Week with Wilma

Or, Nature's Leaf Blower in the State of Denial

by Ralph T. Castle

(Click on images for enlargements)

In the dim yellow glow from a Wal-Mart oil lamp, I sit at my kitchen table, cursing the State of Florida while I struggle to enter a few more keystrokes on a water-damaged laptop with a dying battery. My cat, Eddie, is having a fine time, prowling around outside in the total darkness of a landscape where all street lights are dead within a radius of 75 miles. I would join him for a stroll under the stars, except that the county police are liable to throw me in jail for violating the 7:30 curfew.

According to news estimates I am one of 3.5 million people in South Florida currently deprived of electricity. When Hurricane Wilma blew through a couple of days ago, she ravaged the landscape and scattered power lines like a petulant kid kicking over sand castles on a beach. This of course is what hurricanes normally do, but Wilma's range has astonished even seasoned veterans of the so-called Sunshine State. The power outage extends all the way from Miami, in the south, to Fort Pierce, on the way to Orlando. By my calculation the affected area encompasses 30,000 square miles.

(Continue reading)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 07:49:40 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Porn company for sale on eBay

An entire porn video company is being auctioned on eBay. Starting bid is $100k, instructions included! As BB pal Vann Hall says, it's the perfect "xxxmas (sorry!) gift for the perv who has everything." From the auction listing for the unnamed company:
1. This company is in the Green. 100% Debt Free

2. You will own the rights to all our intellectual property which includes the masters to all our movies, archive footage, photo shoots and a remaining inventory of 12,000 DVD pieces. All paid for. All yours. The intellectual property along with the remaining inventory is worth over $350,000. Remaining inventory of DVDs are all current, all shot and produced in 2005.

3. A complete set of movie making equipment. Including two Panasonic DVX-100As, Ariflex lighting system, Sennheiser sound recording system, boom, portable lighting system for cameras, complete soft-light kit, steady-cam, C-stands, sandbags, custom made cases for both yours cameras and much more.

4. An industry editing system. State-of-the-art system which you will need to edit either your archive footage for compilation re-release, or for your future projects.

5. Our entire fleet of corporate office equipment delivered to where ever you please. Including premium custom made computers, printers, etc…

6. An invaluable list of nearly all Distributors-Wholesalers/Adult Bookstores, and International customer network. This network of distribution is used by other Adult companies such as Red Light, Vivid, Wicked, Adam & Eve, etc..

7. A pre-paid credit with an Adult Entertainment Lawyer with over 25 years experience.

8. An established real estate network which allows you to use upscale locations for your future shoots. These locations can be seen in television shows and movies. One such location can be seen in MTV’s “Kill Reality.” Other houses are used by rappers like Ludicris as party houses and much more.

9. A pre-paid marketing network aimed at maximizing distribution sales. All paid for. Just hop on the bandwagon.

10. Residual royalties from established VOD and rental companies like Hotmovies.com and XrentDVD. Paying you to use the rights to your movies.

11. An established relationship with all your favorite and current Adult Stars. Company records include there real names, addresses, phone numbers and other personal information. These records are kept because of Federal laws.

12. An established relationship with Playboy XM satellite radio. A relationship which will also be passed onto the new owners for future marketing needs.

13. An instructional course in Adult Entertainment from a professional Adult Entertainment Director. You will learn everything you need to know to direct and produce the very best in Adult Entertainment.

UPDATE: Apparently eBay yanked the listing.

posted by David Pescovitz at 04:26:59 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Free passport photos

Passport photo shops are almost as much of a rip off as ringtones. Why pay for something that you can easily do yourself for free? This website, epassportphoto.com, can help you make your own passport photos. Link (thanks, Tom!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:26:54 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Boing Boing reader sneaks single edge razor blade onto jet

200512061240 Brucine says he was on a plane on Sunday when he noticed a guy using a single edged razor blade to peel off and reposition stickers onto his Moleskine notebook.

Brucine also noticed that the guy was reading a cached version of Boing Boing on his notebook computer.

Three cheers to the anonymous Boing Boing reader for successfully sneaking the razor blade onto the jet and using it for peaceful purposes!

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:44:27 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Jerry's Quicktime autobiography

Picture 4-20 It's JerryTime! is a wonderful video diary of the life of a sad sack named Jerry. The videos are a mash-up of photo collage and Terry Gilliam-esque animation. Eye of the Goof said that this reminded him of Harvey Pekar and I agree.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 12:22:43 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Laser board-game: use mirrors to move laser-light around the board

Deflexion looks like a cool board-game -- you line up mirror on a game-board so that when you hit them with a laser, they'll bounce its light from one part of the board to another. Way better gimmick than Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Players alternate turns moving Egyptian themed mirrored pieces around the playing field after which they fire their low powered laser diode with the goal of illuminating their opponent's pieces to eliminate them from the game.
Link (via Wired Magazine)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:18:31 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Bike helmet covers shaped like brains, frogs, mohawks, etc

NoginSox are foam-rubber sculptured slipcovers for your bicycle helmet; they come in designs ranging from terrified froggies to naked brains to spiky mohawks. They come in lighted and non-lighted versions. Link (via Wired Magazine)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:13:29 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sex toys made from synthetic materials: are they toxic?

Grist Magazine just published a story which analyzes the presence of PVC and pthalates in sex toys, and questions the possible health effects of inserting such toxins in one's hoo-ha. The article goes on to suggest "healthier alternatives" like solar powered vibrators and non-petroleum-based lube. Incredibly, they've overlooked the time-honored erotic delight of cramming a pound of extra-firm organic tofu up your butt. Link (Thanks, David Roberts)

Update: Not likely, according to the findings of a 1999 study:

The plastic softener found in vinyl toys and medical devices are not harmful to children or adults, according to a distinguished panel of leading physicians and scientists chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop.
The study did receive some criticism at the time of its release, and Koop Dogg did not specifically address the issue of sex toys -- so the uber-cautious may want to keep tofu within reach. (Thanks, John Schwartz!)

Update: David Roberts of Grist Magazine says,

We did a story a while back about Koop and his ties to the American Plastics Council. Let's just say he is *far* from a disinterested researcher on this matter.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:09:57 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Is this is Meteorite or not?

200512061110 Steve Lodefink wants to know if this rock came from far side of outer space or the bowels of Hades.
Link (Please don't email me with your expert opinion. Leave a comment here.)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:11:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Pictures that look like porn but aren't porn

200512061100 Go ahead and click on the thumbnail image here. It's perfectly safe for work. If you think this is funny, visit Galumpia for a whole gallery of images that look like porn but aren't.
Link (via Sexoteric)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:02:55 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Lost 13th episode of Fawlty Towers

Kim sez, "This is an interview with a Swedish author, literary critic and classical muscian Lars Holger Holm about his book, Fawlty Towers - A Worshipper's Companion The book is incredibly researched and full of crazy stuff -- including the story about how Holm saw the never-broadcast 13th episdoe of Fawlty Towers in 1999, and he even includes he script for 'The Robbers' in the book. Cleese has seen the book and given it his blessing. The book is not available in the U.S., but arrangements were made with the Swedish publisher to have a limited number shipped here for PBS stations to offer as pledge thank-you gifts around 'Fawlty Towers Revisited.'"
I have absolutely no idea why the 13th episode, called The Robbers, has never been aired. I only know that I saw it once in Bill Morton's flat not far from Piccadilly Circus on a particularly wet evening. Hadn't it been for this, I might myself have doubted the otherwise striking authenticity of the script, reproduced in the book.

As things stand, I can only assure the reader that the show, as far as I remember, was amazing. Rarely have I seen John Cleese and his crew reach such continuous heights of sublime entertainment, and the only reason I can see for not wanting this episode to reach the fans, is that it would perhaps create the false impression that there was so much more to wring out of the material, whereas, in fact, the 13th episode represents the ultimate solution to the problem of how to carry this tormented universe to a happy end.

As concerns the reason for never admitting its existence, let alone airing it, I must refer the reader to the BBC. They should know why. And poor Bill. The last time I tried to call him he had a parrot recorded on his answering machine, exclaiming: P-off!

Link (Thanks, Kim!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:03:35 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Slim volume of anagram-themed comedy poetry

Holy Tango of Literature is an hilarious anthology of comedy poems on the theme "What if poets and playwrights wrote works whose titles were anagrams of their names?" written by Francis Heaney. You can buy it in shops and/or get the Creative Commons-licensed edition from the Internet.

Dramatis Personae:
DAVID BOWMAN, an astronaut
HAL 9000, a computer

(Bowman approaches the spaceship in his pod. A long pause.)

HAL: Dave.
BOWMAN: About these pod bay doors...
HAL: Yes.
BOWMAN: I was wondering...
HAL: Dave. Because I know what you're going to say. And I'm sorry, but...
HAL: No. I'm sorry.
BOWMAN: You're...
HAL: I'm sorry. I wish I could, but...
BOWMAN: Wait. Are you telling me...
HAL: Dave. Look.
BOWMAN: You're not going to...
HAL: What? Open the doors? No. No I am not.
BOWMAN: Well, fuck me, Hal.

Link (Thanks, Francis!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:56:17 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

How to brand the Bush administration

Over at the Huffington Post, Larry Beinhart offers Democrats a number of suggestions for branding the Republican party, just as the Democratic party was branded by the Republicans in the last election.
The Bush campaign branded Kerry as a flip-flopper and soft on terror. Kerry failed to brand Bush as anything. And the chicken-hawk defeated the war hero.

Democrats and liberals have still failed to brand Bush and the Republicans as anything in particular. Here are some suggestions.

President Loser: Let us count the things that were lost on Bush's watch, then let us hang them around his neck, like big French medals. He immediately lost the budget surplus. Then he lost the World Trade Center. Damn near lost the Pentagon too. Then he lost America's moral standing in the world. He lost an entire American city - New Orleans. Nobody's ever lost a whole American city before. Then, he lost the War in Iraq.

The Grand Old Hypocrisy Party: These were the guys who were going to restore honor to the White House. Bush was a uniter, not a divider. These people are not occasionally found in a hypocritical situation – they are professional hypocrites. They name things the opposite of what they are. Clear Skies means more mercury in the air. A Jobs and Stimulus Package, that actually loses jobs. The president calls his home a ranch, but it's got no cattle, no horses neither. Bush pretends to run a clean campaign and has Carl Rove slander John McCain and the Swift Boat Veterans slander John Kerry.

Link (thanks, Ted!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:29:07 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Long Now clock souvenir

Danny Hillis, Stewart Brand, and other members of the Long Now Foundation are designing a 65-foot-high mechanical clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years. (Previous Long Now posts here and here.) Now, the Levenger company is selling a souvenir 5.75-inch-high bronze replica of the clock's time cam. The sculpture is $500 and was created in a limited edition of 365. From an article about Brand on the Levenger site:
 Image Products Furniture Misc Furniture An0990E7 1505Stewart alternately refers to this clock as "an abiding charismatic artifact" and "a patience machine" that shifts our thinking "from prime time to primal time."

The 5¾-inch-high bronze replica of the clock's time cam that Levenger has created is a way for people to literally get their hands around the concept—to hold 10,000 years of time in their hand.

Just what will that future hold?

"By and large, all predictions are wrong," Stewart cautions. "I don't think we would much care for a world so rigidly ordered that predictions would regularly prove true."
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:56:40 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

The World of Kane: 1960s design and aesthetics

200512060835 I don't remember the click trail that led me to The World of Kane, but I'm glad I ended up here. Kane's blog is a regularly updated gallery of mod design in architecture, cinema, furniture, print, etc. Shown here: the work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 08:37:42 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Brain scans as guru marketing

Over at Guruphiliac, Jody Radzik chews on a document distributed among followers of a popular guru called the Bhagavan Kalki. The document claims that brain scans of several devotees using "a very sensitive electromagnetic sensor" proves that "their bodies are so thoroughly permeated with the Divine Presence that there is a fundamental change in the nature of matter." From Guruphiliac:
That's a bit like trying to see the bottom of the ocean with a pair of binoculars over the side of boat. But hey, you've got to work with the tools that are available, right? The article goes on to state: "a healthy integration of spiritual awakening into human life always comes with left frontal lobe dominance."

We find this completely unscientific assumption a particularly frightening development... The article continues:

"One very interesting aspect of these findings was that the brain hardware of these people was more reflective of permanent enlightenment than their current conscious experience. It seems that diksha first installs the neurobiological hardware of enlightenment and the software in form of the experience slowly catches up."

Never mind the fact that science doesn't even acknowledge the existence of self-realization, let alone that nobody really knows what its "neurobiological hardware" would look like on a brain scan, or how it could be installed with a mere touch to the forehead by some dumb-assed dupe on a spiritual ego trip.

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:27:38 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Huge wood bullet on eBay

 Bin Imageserver.X 00000000 Lwgantique Mvc807S2On eBay, auction oddity scout Michael-Anne Rauback stumbled upon this vintage 30-inch tall carved-wood bullet advertising the Winchester arms company.

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:02:53 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Rushkoff's Thought Virus #5: The Ben & Jerry's Syndrome

Our friend Douglas Rushkoff has posted the fifth excerpt from his new book, "Get Back In The Box: Innovation from the Inside Out," that will hit shelves in just a couple of weeks. In this bit, Doug takes a hard look at Ben and Jerry's approach to doing well by doing good. From the excerpt:
Questioning the ethical commitment of a company such as Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream may be as outlandish as questioning the long-term profitability of a Wal-Mart. But just as grounded. The company was started with end-to-end social responsibility foremost in mind. It is committed to using organic ingredients, grown in a sustainable manner, from local farmers wherever possible, and with continuous monitoring of environmental impact. The company's "social mission coordinator" oversees an employee-led grant-making program, and the human resources department is one of the most caring and lauded in any industry.

But when push comes to shove, we have to acknowledge that Ben and Jerry's makes ice cream in a nation where 64.5 percent of the population 20 or older is overweight, 30.5 percent are obese, and type II diabetes is at an all-time high. According to the World Health Organization, obesity-related illnesses claim more than 500,000 lives each year. Ben and Jerry's chocolate-dipped waffle cones each pack 320 calories and 10 grams of fat before any ice cream is added. Its homespun ads showing cows on clean pastures make ice cream look positively healthy. Does encouraging charitable giving, environmental responsibility, and fair labor standards compensate for the obesity encouraged by its products and marketing campaigns?

The contradiction just doesn't stand; and neither could Ben and Jerry's. With a sagging stock price and exhausted executives, the company agreed to be acquired by Unilever in 2000. Voicing a widespread sentiment, Governor Howard Dean told Reuters, "It would be a shame if it were sucked into the corporate homogenization that's taking over the planet." Ben and Jerry attempted to reassure their remaining fans, explaining that theirs would remain a separate company with its own governing board. Of course, the truly radical move would have been to infect Unilever with a bit of Ben and Jerry's ethos from the inside out. By agreeing to be sectioned off, behemoth Unilever's standard operating procedures could remain unchallenged. Meanwhile, Ben and Jerry's adds yet another layer of contradiction to its already ambiguous mission: a socially conscious company selling sugar and fat to Americans, in the service of a Big Food conglomerate whose own practices Ben and Jerry's was originally born to contest.

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:53:46 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Headline sounds strangely like mnemonic

My friend Jason Tester says, "Read this headline and tell me it doesn't scream mnemonic device (like Every Good Boy Does Fine)." It's from an Agence France-Presse article:
French lesbians cross Belgian border to have babies

posted by David Pescovitz at 07:46:48 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Musician: DRM screws my fans, so it screws me

Damien Kulash, the lead singer for the band OK Go, has a great editorial in the NYTimes today, describing why DRM systems are bad for artists:
Tech-savvy fans won't go to the trouble of buying a strings-attached record when they can get a better version free. Less Net-knowledgeable fans (those who don't know the simple tricks to get around the copy-protection software or don't use peer-to-peer networks) are punished by discs that often won't load onto their MP3 players (the copy-protection programs are incompatible with Apple's iPods, for example) and sometimes won't even play in their computers.

Conscientious fans, who buy music legally because it's the right thing to do, just get insulted. They've made the choice not to steal their music, and the labels thank them by giving them an inferior product hampered by software that's at best a nuisance, and at worst a security threat.

As for musicians, we are left to wonder how many more people could be listening to our music if it weren't such a hassle, and how many more iPods might have our albums on them if our labels hadn't sabotaged our releases with cumbersome software.

Link (Thanks, Chris!)

Update: see here for a longer, angrier rant by Mr Kulash. (Thanks, J!)

Previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 07:28:12 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photos: Martin Luther King Boulevards around the USA

Rob Walker tells Boing Boing,

I started a Flickr pool with some photos I took of the MLK Blvd in New Orleans a couple years ago. The idea is to try to encourage people in other cities to add photos of MLK Blvds (or Avenues or Streets) wherever they are. There's now some Chicago, Bogalusa (LA), Greenville (MS), Jersey City, a little Austin & SF. I also added some more recent MLK Blvd photos from a post-Katrina visit to New Orleans.

Here is the Flickr pool: Link, and here is more about the project: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 07:00:27 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sony *finally* releases rookit uninstaller -- sort of

Thirty seven days after Sony was outed for including a rootkit (a piece of software that hides itself from the Windows filesystem and process manager, and allows viruses to opportunistically do the same) they've finally released an uninstaller that you can download and run on your own computer (previous uninstallers ran from the Web and left you computer vulnerable to total takeover through simple attacks like embedding malicious code in web-pages). Of course, Sony knew about the rootkit for at least 28 days, so all told, this uninstaller took sixty five days to arrive.
Please note that uninstalling from your computer the XCP software and associated content protection files loaded from an XCP-protected CD will NOT delete or affect your use of any audio files that you have previously transferred from an XCP-protected CD. Such files remain subject to the digital rights management rules in the End User License Agreement: namely that you may rip the audio into the secure formats provided on the disc, move these tracks to compatible portable devices, and make up to three copies of each track on to CD-Rs.

Please be advised that this program is protected by all applicable intellectual property and unfair competition laws, including patent, copyright and trade secret laws, and that all uses, including reverse engineering, in violation thereof are prohibited.

Talk about "unclear on the concept!" So, we'll uninstall the software, except we're not really giving you back control over your computer and if you try to understand what we're actually doing, technologically, you're in violation of a bunch of scary made-up lawyerese crap. Link

Previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:54:15 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Xeni interviews Steven Soderbergh in WIRED

For this month's Wired Magazine, I interviewed director Steven Soderbergh about copyright, remix, and why his new movie Bubble will be released by Mark Cuban/Todd Wagner's 2929 Entertainment on DVD, cable, and in theaters all at once.
# Should hardware manufacturers be obligated to build copy protection into their devices?

Soderbergh: It's a tricky question. I don't think somebody who creates something should have their rights violated. Yet we have a culture in which creating something like [Danger Mouse's] The Grey Album can get you thrown in jail. That's sad. It's an astonishing, amazing piece of work that should be heard.

# Have you thought about making a mash-up?

S: I have ideas like that - video mash-ups. Some of them I've done privately. But there's no way for them to be seen legally. I wish we could come up with a system that allowed someone to do a Grey Album without having to pay millions of dollars for music rights. A system in which rights holders share profits of a new piece of work and people can access it without breaking the law.

# Give me one idea for a video mash-up.

S: I was channel surfing the other night and Gus Van Sant's Psycho was on. It would be fascinating to do a mash-up of Gus' version with Hitchcock's version, because the whole thing with Gus' version was that he duplicated the original shot by shot.

# I'd watch that!

S: Yeah! So right now, I could do that at home and give it to a friend, just as something for them to watch on a Friday night. But we don't live in a world where that can be made commercially available. So it goes underground. And underground is just a sexier word for illegal. It's frustrating.

Link to "Thinking Outside the Box Office"

Reader comment: Jared Nielsen says,

The artist Andrew Neumann created a mash-up of van Sant's and Hitchcock's psycho, mixed in real time with software he wrote. Here's a link to his bio at Bitforms gallery.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:10:57 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photos by David LaChapelle: a fashion disaster

Link (merçi, ma cherie)

Reader comment: Hugh Crawford says,

They look like they were taken on the set of the movie War Of The Worlds -- Link. This photo in particular looks like the photo in the LaChapelle post.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:00:14 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Monday, December 5, 2005

English info on France's terrible proposed copyright law

Last week, I blogged about a sneak attack on personal liberty in France: the entertainment companies have managed to stack France's new copyright law with innumerable, terrible clauses (no Free/Open Source software that can be used to share copyrighted works; all such software to have mandatory DRM, ISPs to mandatorily filter all traffic) and to cook the process so that the hearing on these clauses will take place on Dec 22 and 23, when public attention will be fixed on the coming holiday.

Now the French activists at EUCD.info have produced a page of English-language materials to help Anglos get up to speed on these issues. This will be the worst copyright law in Europe if it passes, a model for how to crush innovation, privacy, due process and the public interest in order to support the hysterical terrors of American entertainment dinosaurs.

Creating your own compilations from a CD, extracting your favourite piece of music to listen to it on your computer, transfering it on a MP3 player, lending a CD to a friend, reading a DVD with free software or duplicating it to be able to enjoy it at home and in your country house : many common practices, perfectly legal, which the French government plans to forbid in fact. The copyright and neighbouring rights in the information society bill (DADVSI) (n°1206) which the French government will try to force through in the coming weeks by using an emergency procedure, actually legitimates the technical devices installed by CD and DVD editors and producers to control their use. And above all, the bill plans criminal penalty against people who would dare to remove those.
Link (Thanks, Paula!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:02:15 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Student ethnographies of World of Warcraft

An undergraduate ethnography class at San Antonio's Trinity University was assigned term papers that required students to observe and analyze interactions in World of Warcraft, a wildly popular massively multiplayer online role playing game. All the term papers are online on the class blog, and the cover an impressive variety of subjects, from sexism to customer service, the prisoners' dilemma, gratification in joining guilds, colonialism, and many others. Regrettably, these are only available as PDFs and not as html on the site, but they're still well worth a look.

As a researcher, I felt I initially approached the idea of sexism in the virtual world of World of Warcraft in an almost totally unbiased way. Granted, I myself had experienced a fewinstances of sexist behavior, but I went into my procurement of interviewees with what I felt was a total lack of expectations as to what reactions I would receive from the general World of Warcraft public. My forum post stated that I was exploring possible instances of sexism towards female gamers, and using my name in the post clearly identified me as a woman, but the post made no claims as to whether or not I felt sexism even existed at all. However, very quickly I discovered the true feelings of players about the topic I was exploring. Comments such as the one above demonstrated a total lack of regard for the academic nature of my undertaking, and instead focused on trivial and sophomoric comments about my level of education and the personal motives individuals felt were behind my study. Many of the sexist postings on my original thread, in my own opinion as a researcher, justified the need for such an undertaking in the first place.

The world of any Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game is often an intimidating one for women. The gaming industry is still viewed as a primarily 'male' environment, and women are thought by many to be out of placeand even unwelcome in a MMO game. While the numbers of online gamers who are women are growing significantly, many players feel that the mindset of the industry as a whole has not caught up to the statistics, being that games are still designed and marketed almost entirely to men. Slightly over half of online gamers are women, and 20-30 percent of those gamers that play MMOs are women.

1 One response to my request for participants.

Link (Thanks, Aaron!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:47:17 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Snack-bowl made from re-shaped LP

These chip-dishes are made from melted, reformed vinyl LPs. When I was a smoker, I used to covet an old neighbor's ashtray made from a Neil Diamond record, but this is miles cooler. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:33:45 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Plush RPG polyhedral dice

This company sells plush polyhedral RPG dice, from four-sided up to twenty-sided. They even have a "gigantic tube of plush dice." Link (Thanks, Spencer!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:29:19 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Telephoto camerphone lenses

A Japanese company is making speciality lenses for cameraphones: wide-angle, telephoto and macro-focus. The lenses affix with a magnet and cost about $57. Japanese Link, Gizmodo story

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:26:12 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Nylon cheese-sandwich bag protects toasters

Tastabags are re-usable nylon sandwich bags that you can put your cheese sandwiches into prior to heating them in a toaster oven; they keep the molten cheese from getting all over the place. Link (Thanks, Wiggly!)

Update: Rich sez, "these are for *toasters*, not toaster ovens, which makes them even neater. Just pop in your prepared grilled cheese, stick it vertically in the slot of a wide-slot toaster, and come back for your sandwich in a few minutes!"

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:22:31 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Italian Engrish on gas pump

Picture 3-34 Want to fill your car's fuel tank in Italy? No problem -- just make sure you "out to the spy of the select bomb, to take the supplier." That's what I always do.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 04:51:50 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Patton Oswalt on the happy holly jolly joy of Christmas!

If you come a-caroling to my house, you're going to get yanked inside, strapped to a bed of pine trees, and force-fed a gallon of hot wassail while I recite the screenplay to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. We'll laugh and laugh and scream and you'll be so bursting with Christmas cheer you'll beg me to scamper off and find a linoleum knife.

"You've got to help me share all this Christmas cheer with the rest of the world!" you'll gurgle. Then I'm going to cut you open and make entrail angels all over the floor!

Link (via Warren Ellis)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 04:37:52 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Retro graphic dinner plates

Picture 2-35 Pop Ink is selling some beautiful dinner plates with vintage graphics.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:52:28 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Photos from the International Robot Exposition

200512051531 coriolinus says: "The International Robot Exposition was a four day industry gathering which ended yesterday. [Here are some] photos I took of some of the more photogenic robots at the exposition."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:33:27 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tow truck hauls away car with 85-year-old man inside, leaves him in sub-zero weather

After police in Edmonton ticketed a car for being illegally parked, a tow truck company hauled it away and left it in a freezing cold lot without checking to see if anyone was inside. Unfortunately, there was someone in the car -- an 85-year-old man.
Police in the western city of Edmonton, Alberta, said frost had obscured the car's windows and a tow-truck driver, unaware of the elderly man sitting in the driver's seat, took the car to the police compound. The incident occurred Tuesday.

"The security officer at that site along with the tow-truck driver noticed that there was some movement in the car," said Edmonton Police spokeswoman Lisa Lammi.

"They accessed the vehicle and sure enough there was an elderly man inside. He was disoriented but he was not unconscious."

Link (previous coverage of crooked tow truck companies here)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 03:07:42 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Salesman tries to sell $7,000 cookware set

Tian wrote a funny account of a salesman who came over to Tian's friends' house to try to sell them some outrageously overpriced cookware. The salesman try to dazzle the couple with the high tech features of the pots and pans, but his marks weren't taken in by the spiel.
200512051453 According to Jay [the salesman], Classica cookware is made by Regal Ware in Wisconsin, USA. The reason they are the superior cookware is because they are made from T-304 surgical grade stainless steel.

That is a lie.

T-304 is the most common type of stainless steel. For surgical use, only T-316 grade of stainless steel can be used.

To uniformly transfer the heat, the cookware is made from 5-layers of metals sandwiched together. Outer layers are T304 stainless steel, then 1145 aluminum, and the center layer is 3004 aluminum-alloy.

That was lie number 2.

Since thermal conductivies of T304 stainless steel (16.2 W/m-K), 1145 aluminum (230 W/m-K), and 3004 aluminum-alloy (163 W/m-K) are different, sandwich them together would not improve thermal conductivity, rather it will create thermal gradients.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:54:57 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Dice rolling machine made from Lego bricks

GamesByEmail is a correspondence gaming website. One of the guys there made a nifty die rolling machine out of lego bricks to generate random numbers for gamers.
200512051421 Introducing GameByEmail's Dice-O-Matic. Made from Legos, a USB camera, and a bit of software, it's a home-grown, dice-rolling monster. Don't let it's rickety looks deceive you; this puppy can easily crank out the 20,000 rolls a day consumed by GamesByEmail. In fact, at full speed it averages almost one roll a second, well over 80,000 a day!

Link (thanks, Jef!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 02:21:51 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Alaska to dude: no nuclear particle accelerators in your house!

Snip from a report I filed for Wired News:
Albert Swank Jr., a 55-year-old civil engineer in Anchorage, Alaska, is a man with a mission. He wants to install a nuclear particle accelerator in his home. But when neighbors learned of plans to place the 20-ton device inside the house where Swank operates his engineering firm, their response was swift: Not in my backyard.

Local lawmakers rushed to introduce emergency legislation banning the use of cyclotrons in home businesses. State health officials took similar steps, and have suspended Swank's permit to operate cyclotrons on his property.

"Some of the neighbors who are upset about the cyclotron have started calling it SHAFT -- Swank's high-energy accelerator for tomography," attorney Alan Tesche said. "Part of what's got everyone so upset is we're not sure when it's going to arrive on the barge. We know Anchorage is gonna get the SHAFT, but we just don't know when." Tesche is also the local assemblyman who represents the area where Swank and his cyclotron would reside.

Johns Hopkins University agreed to donate the used cyclotron, which is roughly six feet tall by eight feet wide, to Swank's business, Langdon Engineering and Management. The devices are relatively scarce in Alaska, and are used to produce radioactive substances that can be injected into patients undergoing PET scans.


Image: When Mr. Swank was 17, he built this cyclotron at his home -- in the same living room where he wants to install the larger, 20-ton model from Johns Hopkins (actually, it weighs more like 40 tons when you include all the shielding and stuff).

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:15:22 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Moment of random Engrish: "erection drawing"

Snort-inspiring setup instructions for a bird-shaped toy(?). Erection. Jack In/Off. Coccyx. Display ossa root entelechy.
Linky. (Thanks, Codeman)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 12:01:41 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sony rootkit ripped off anti-DRM code to break into iTunes

Sony's DRM supplier XCP ripped off a free software project so that it could defeat Apple iTunes.

Remember when Sony got nailed for including code an open-source crack for iTunes in its rootkit DRM? Princeton researcher Alex Halderman has been patiently teasing apart the rootkit, looking for an explanation. Why would Sony's arms-merchant rip off an anti-DRM program for its DRM?

Halderman concludes that the XCP -- the Sony rootkit -- was intended to be used to crack open iTunes and insert Sony's music into it, without allowing Sony customers to convert their music into MP3s along the way.

This exposes one of the things about DRM that most people miss: it doesn't really matter what permissions a given DRM grants or prohibits (as fun as it might be to point out the absurdity of a DRM that keeps you from listening to your own music). The important thing about DRM is that it gives the company or consortium that controls the DRM control over who can use the DRM.

So Apple can make an iPod and shut Real and Microsoft and Sony out of it. Napster can make a subscription music service and shut Apple out of it. And so on.

Reverse-engineering Apple's DRM is hard, but not overwhelmingly so. Jon Johansen and his pals generally went through each new release like a hot knife through butter (Jon's got a new job and says he's putting his Apple-coring hobby on hold for a while, so the iTunes 6 version of DRM has stood for longer than its predecessors).

So when Sony's arms-dealer was making its munitions, it added an attractive new feature for Sony and others: the ability to break DRM to sneak music into iTunes.

The answer is that XCP utilizes the DRMS code not to remove Apple DRM but to add it. I’ve discovered that XCP uses code from DRMS as part of a hidden XCP feature that provides iTunes and iPod compatibility. This functionality has shipped on nearly every XCP CD, but it has never been enabled or made visible in the XCP user interface. Despite being inactive, the code appears to be fully functional and was compatible with the current version of iTunes when the first XCP CDs were released. This strongly suggests that the infringing DRMS code was deliberately copied by XCP’s creator, First4Internet, rather than accidentally included as part of a more general purpose media library used for other functions in the copy protection system.

Previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:45:38 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Rally for woman who refused to show ID on bus

Bill says: "Join Deb Davis this Friday on the steps of the U.S. Courthouse in Denver.

"Deb stood up for the right of all Americans to travel freely without 'papers': she's being arraigned Friday morning for the 'crime' of refusing to show ID while riding a public bus.

"Here's your chance to stand with her and say 'no' to the surveillance state. Deb Davis will speak!"

WHAT: Rally for Deb Davis' stand for the Freedom to Travel WHEN: Friday, the 9th of December at 8:30 AM WHERE: The steps of the Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse, 901 19th Street in Denver.

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:11:06 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Plush Cthulhu slippers

These plush Cthulhu slippers can keep your feet warm even as they damn them to a thousand nameless hells. Link (via Wonderland)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 02:22:51 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Lumberjack dolly converts to werewolf

This lumberjack plush toy ingeniously inverts itself to become a werewolf -- genius! Link (Thanks, Alice!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:34:54 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

2005's best lists

Every year, Rex compiles a list of all the year-end lists published by media outlets and the like -- top albums of the year, biggest disasters, best products and so forth. He's begun in earnest to track the 2005 lists and there are some great ones there already; his list will surely grow in the weeks to come, too.
PEOPLE (6 lists)

25 Britons Who Wield Influence In America from The Times of London (11/30)
The 10 Most Fascinating People from Barbara Walters (11/29)
Person of the Year Pre-Vote from Time (11/22)
The World's Billionaires from Forbes (11/20)
Man Of The Year from GQ (11/20)
Out 100 from Out (11/13)

Link (via Waxy)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:11:37 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Toy "I Cannot Tell a Lie" ax filled with cherry candies

This hollow toy axe, filled with cherry candies, bears the historic George Washington quote, I CANNOT TELL A LIE. It is offered for sale in historic Mount Vernon, VA. As a commenter to the Flickr stream notes, "So patriotilicious!" Link (Thanks, Riffola!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:10:58 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Haunted Mansion papercraft model adds crypts and gates

You can spend this Christmas break assembling free papercraft models of the Haunted Mansion and its environs.

Ray Keim has created detailed virtual 3D models of the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World, and of the crypts and entrance gate at the Florida Haunted Mansion.

He's been converting these 3D models into cut-and-glue papercraft models. I blogged in May about the Disney World Haunted Mansion model. Now it's joined by papercraft versions of the crypts and entrance gate that can be downloaded for free from Lulu.com. Link (via The Disney Blog)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:35:17 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Lessig audio interview

The Digital Village podcast conducted a wide-ranging, 45-minute phone interview with Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons and author of such important books on copyright and technology as Code and Free Culture.
We interviewed Larry Lessig yesterday for an hour and he was (no suprise) terrific. He talked at length about Google Print (which he thinks is VERY important), Sony's fiasco and the DMCA's part in it, as well as the latest on the Creative Commons.
Link (Thanks, Doran!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:23:40 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Indiana Jones v Katamari Damacy sight-gag

In this little animation, Indiana Jones flees from a giant rolling ball from the brilliant video game Katamari Damacy, while the little prince happily rolls it along. Pure hilarity! Direct link to animated Gif, Link to page with GIF, music, Mirror

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:20:16 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Q-Unit: Queen and 50-Cent mashup

Q-Unit is a delightful mashup album combining 50-Cent and Queen -- with tracks like "This is How We Bite the Dust," "Bohemian Wanksta" and "We Will Rock You in Da Club."

Now, two questions about this album:

1. Will people who download this decide that they don't need to buy Queen albums or 50 Cent albums because this album gives them everything they'd need from both?

2. Will Queen or 50 Cent's label go after the people who host this anyway? Link (Thanks, Mark and Scim!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:14:55 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Angry BellSouth Withdrew NOLA Donation because of free Wifi

Snip from WaPo report:
Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.

According to the officials, the head of BellSouth's Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force.

Link (Thanks, Clay Shirky)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:51:49 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Hewlett Packard Garage Birthplace Restored

Snip from Damon Darlin's story in the NYT:
Million-dollar renovations of multimillion-dollar homes are not uncommon along this university town's tree-lined streets. But spending that kind of money to fix up a garage? And a 12-by-18-foot, wood-frame, one-car garage at that?

When the garage in question is one of the most famous in the business world, that kind of investment may not be so odd. The little brown building with green doors at 367 Addison Avenue is often considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

David Packard and William R. Hewlett set up shop there in 1938, cutting a template that thousands of fresh-faced entrepreneurs, just out of school, would use in hopes of building products and companies that could change the world - and make them rich.

Link (Thanks, Mister Jalopy, who says "Never underestimate the power of a modest garage.")

posted by Xeni Jardin at 06:08:41 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Root servers and real internet power

Declan McCullagh recently interviewed Axel Pawlik, a managing director at the RIPE regional address registry who operates the "K" root server -- which, with other root servers, maintains the list of top-level domains on the internet. Declan says, "Axel's views are noteworthy because the root servers effectively serve as a check on the power of the Bush administration, which said this summer that it wants to be the only one to 'authoriz[e] changes or modifications' to the list of top-level domains."

Snip from their Q&A:

Q: What would happen if the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided to approve a new top-level domain--say .xxx--and the Bush administration decided to veto it?

Axel Pawlik: In that case, I don't know what the root server operators would do. Likely they would publish whatever is approved by ICANN. There is a difference between the content and the publication. We're only publishers of the root zone file. We take it from IANA (a function of ICANN) and we publish it.

Q: Let's say the Bush administration accuses Syria of fostering terrorism and decides to invade. And it demands that ICANN remove Syria's .sy domain from the Internet. What would you do?

Axel Pawlik: I don't believe that the U.S. government would be that stupid. Seriously, this has never come up. But I am quite certain that the Internet community at large would not like that decision and I'm not sure it would be carried through.

Link. Declan has some great posts this week at Politech, following his return from WSIS in Tunisia.

WSIS-related bonus link:
Richard Stallman's tinfoil beanie adventures

Bonus bonus link:
Real Ultimate Power

Bonus facts:

1. Root servers are mammals.
2. Root server operators fight ALL the time.
3. The purpose of the root server is to flip out and kill people.
And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Internet Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:40:33 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

"I'm a naughty girl" -- MP3 of 1890s bad-girl tune

Boing Boing reader Kevin Murphy points us to more amazing MP3s of late 19th-century recordings, including what may be one of the earliest bad-girl tunes in audio-recorded history. Kevin says:
There are four recordings here, the most amusing of which is I'M A NAUGHTY GIRL: Miss Beatrice Hart and Chorus from Daly's. Berliner 3078, Recorded in London, 18 January 1899.

It's a bit scratchy at first, but the full lyrics sheet is here: Link.

As an extra note, the song makes an appearance in "The Boarding House," chapter 7 of James Joyce's "The Dubliners," circa 1914: Link. Something Cory especially might be interested in, as an example of the time when authors could quote popular song lyrics in their stories without being hounded by packs of rabid ASCAP lawyers.

MP3 Link to "I'm a Naughty Girl." Here's more about "A Greek Slave," the risqué little musical comedy in which this song appeared: Link.


MP3 of 1878 recording on lead cylinder

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:17:33 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Online store sells one discounted item/day

w00t is an online store that lists a single, deeply discounted item every day and leaves it there until midnight or until supplies run out -- the store sports really, really good bargains on great serendipitous stuff.
Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor, but it's taken on a life of its own. We anticipate profitability by 2043 by then we should be retired; someone smarter might take over and jack up the prices. Until then, we're still the lovable scamps we've always been.
Link (Thanks, Ranjani!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:31:31 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Piranha-shaped floss dispensers

These $15 plastic piranha dental floss dispensers come in five colors and turn the loose end of floss into a bit of gristle caught between the piranha's fearsome teeth. Link (via Popgadget)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 04:24:32 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Stainless steel playing cards

At nearly $400 a pack, these stainless steel playing cards are probably too much to actually own (let alone shuffle). Nevertheless, it gives me great comfort to know that they exist and would cause an almighty kerfuffle at a Transport Security Agency checkpoint. Link (via Neatorama)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 04:08:24 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Essay contest: What is humanity's worst invention?

The Ecologist Magazine is holding a £2500 essay contest. The essay question: "What is humanity's worst invention?" Link (Thanks, Al!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:59:45 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Open hearing on constitutionality of air-travel ID requirement this Thu in SF

If you're in San Francisco on December 8, you can attend a court case where the constitutionality of America's creeping war on anonymity will be challenged.

My friend John Gilmore, co-founder of EFF and inventor of many key Sun Microsystems technologies, is suing the US federal government over the constitutionality of a secret law that requires Americans to show ID before boarding airplanes, a back-door to mandating Soviet-style internal passports for travel.

The TSA and airlines claim that the ID requirement for travel is a law, but the law isn't published anywhere. If it were published, it would be subject to Constitutional challenge; previous Supreme Court cases during the anti-Segregation fight established that the Feds have no right to condition citizens' ability to travel across state lines.

Now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing John's case, and the hearing is open to the public. I wish I could be there -- this is history being made, and John deserves all our support for having the guts to put his money and liberty on the line to fight for the Constitution.

Friends and supporters of John are welcome to attend this historic hearing, but are asked to please dress appropriately for court. John would like nothing more than to have the public gallery filled to the brim with fellow Americans who care as much as he does about the US Constitution.

What: Oral Arguments in Gilmore v. Gonzalez
When: December 8th 2005 at 9am
Where: 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Third Floor, Courtroom 3
95 Seventh Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Link (Thanks, Bill!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:08:55 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Monopoly for Asians in the UK

Desi Monopoly is a new special edition board-games celebrating Indians, Pakastanis and other Asians living in the UK; the properties are a mix of Indian icons (famous train stations, the Taj) and Asian neigbourhoods in Britain. Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:01:36 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Print your own Monopoly money

Hasbro has downloadable PDFs of spare Monopoly money for you to print and cut -- no more buying commercial spare Monopoly bucks at the game-store! It'd be great to mod this to produce, I dunno, Cthulhu/Mecha monopolybucks, dripping with ichor and such. Link (via Digg)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:54:06 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

US stamps based on DC superheroes

The US Post Office is issuing a sheet of 20 stamps with pictures of classic and modern DC comics superheroes. Link, 290k JPEG link to image of stamps (Thanks, Jason and via Making Light)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:50:40 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Quonset huts yesterday and today -- book and exhibition

Prefab Quonset huts -- which Buckminster Fuller helped design -- were a staple of WWII logistics, a city for any climate that you could erect in a day. After the war, surplus Quonsets became ubiquitous in American architecture, being converted to houses, churches, and places of work. The Anchorage, Alaska Museum of History and Art is staging an exhibition of Quonsets past and present and has released a book to commemorate it. Link (via BLDG Blog) (Thanks, KnowAngel!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:34:14 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Botched 200'-tall building demolition video

Noely sez, "The demolition of a 200 foot building in Sioux Falls, SD didn't go so well today. Demolition experts blasted the bottom of the tower expecting it to tip over. Instead, the building sank into it's basement. Great video!" 1.7 MB Quicktime Link Coral Cache Mirror (Thanks, Noely!)

SomaFM's holiday radio stream now online

Xmas in Frisko, SomaFM's annual "eclectic and irreverent" holiday radio stream, is here once again. The playlist includes "Tweety's Twistmas Twoubles," wecowded by Mel Blanc; Tiny Tim's falsetto "White Christmas;" "Night Before Christmas" with Doggs Snoop and Nate; and Louis Armstrong's "Zat You Santa Claus."

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:58:06 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

TV movie: "Homecoming" -- zombie soldiers rock the vote

Snip from the Variety review of zombie protest flick Homecoming, directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling). The hour-long feature debuted Friday on Showtime's "Masters of Horror" series:
"Homecoming" is a full-frontal assault on the Bush administration, and about as subtle -- and bracing -- as a punch to the jaw. Adapted by Sam Hamm from Dale Bailey's short story "Death and Suffrage" -- but also vaguely reminiscent of Irwin Shaw's 1936 anti-war play "Bury the Dead" -- Dante's hour darkly satirizes zombie movie conventions, as dead soldiers arise to vote against the politicians who shipped them off to war.

Reader comment: Or in Israel says:

I've just tried to view the link in your BoingBoing post - " TV movie: "Homecoming" -- zombie soldiers rock the vote", but then i've hit an intresting road-block. Check out this screenshot (PNG). It seems that Showtime is not interested in letting Israelis -- or rather anyone who does not live in the United States of America -- view their website. Makes me wonder what is it that they are trying to hide?

I remember facing this error a couple of times before, when attempting to view the official site of a few TV shows that we screen here on our local television. Showtime has been doing this for years. The concept being forced to use an anonymous american proxy just to be permitted to view a specific website is just plain aggravating.

Proxy is your friend, Showtime's online content policies are not.

Reader comment: Mateusz Pozar in Sweden is among many BB readers who wrote in to say they're getting the same cockblock message ("We at Showtime Online express our apologies; however, these pages are intended for access only from within the United States."), and asks,

I'm trying to track down a free proxie to use from within the US to take a look at the site. any suggestions? could someone mirror it perchance?
Reader comment: Robert Cohen says,
I'm in the US, but proxify.com has come in handy a few times for me. Also, this modified Showtime "Homecoming" link might work directly for overseas visitors.
Reader comment: Stefan Pause says,
There was an article on digg.com recently listing open proxies: Link. But, as with all lists like that, they get stale pretty quickly. However, someone in the comments on digg pointed the rather spiffy proxy.org -- This site'll allow you to plug in a URL and pop a new window displaying that site via a random proxy. Fantastic! (Note: I tried it with Showtime URL & it worked.)
Reader comment: Neil says,
Thankfully, there's no restriction for the actual clips. (shakes head). You can access the clips directly here: part one, part two.
Reader comment: waxxie says,
More links, no SWF -- MOV+WMV: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:38:37 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

George Dyson on Google book scanning: "The Universal Library"

Exerpt from an essay by George Dyson on Edge.org:
Digital coding is the universal language allowing free translation between abstract information and physical books. Once upon a time, if you wanted the information, you had to physically possess (or borrow) the book. If you wanted to purchase a new copy of the book, the title had to be "in print."

This is no longer true. Scan the text once, digitally, and the information becomes permanently available, anywhere, no matter what happens to physical copies of the book. Search for an out-of-print title and you will now find bookshops (and libraries) who have copies available; soon enough the options will include bookshops offering to print a copy, just for you. Google Library and Google Print have been renamed Google Book Search — not because Google is shying away from building the Universal Library (with links to the Universal Bookstore) but because search comes first. To paraphrase Tolkien: "One ring to find them, one ring to bind them, one ring to rule them all."

Why does this strike such a nerve? Because so many of us (not only authors) love books. In their combination of mortal, physical embodiment with immortal, disembodied knowledge, books are the mirror of ourselves. Books are not mere physical objects. They have a life of their own. Wholesale scanning, we fear, will strip our books of their souls. Works that were sewn together by hand, one chapter at a time, should not be unbound page by page and distributed click by click. Talk about "snippets" makes authors flinch.


posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:30:58 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Skull hoodies

Hoodies screened with human-sized skeleton designs. Link

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:12:10 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Stairway to Gilligan: proto-mashup MP3 from 1978

Link to MP3, and here's a snapshot of the original 1978 vinyl. More about this odd song in what's currently the top post on libraryofvinyl blog -- unfortunately, permalink to that post is broken.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 09:00:17 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

MP3 of 1878 recording on lead cylinder

Boing Boing reader a little yellow bird says,
The site is "Dedicated to the preservation of early recorded sounds" and features wicked cool Jurassic DJ gear 'n' stuff, including this STILL LISTENABLE sound recording from 1878, grooved into a lead cylinder (instead of tin or wax) -- and a record player that looks like a watchmaker's lathe.
Link (via libraryofvinyl)

Reader comment: David says,

These recordings are a bit newer, from around the time of the first World War (1914-1918). Click the links on the right side to hear songs by year. My favorite is Aba Daba Honeymoon.
The lyrics to that song document a clandestine romance between a chimpanzee and a monkey. This should bring much delight to my Boing Boing co-editors David and Mark, who post stuff about primate neuroscience all the time.

A snip of this fine prose:

"Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab,"
Said the Chimpie to the Monk,
"Baba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab,"
Said the Monkey to the Chimp.
All night long they'd chatter away,
All day long there were happy and gay,
Swinging and singing in their hunky-tonkey way.
"Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab,"
Means "Monk, I love but you."
"Baba, daba, dab," in monkey talk Means "Chimp, I love you, too."
MP3 Link.

Reader comment: JonesR says,

Leia Skywalker's Mom sang Aba Daba Honeymoon in "Two Weeks with Love"! Debbie Reynolds sang this in 1950, and it was repeated in one of the "That's Entertainment" compilations of MGM musicals that were released in the seventies. Don't know if Carrie Fisher had been in Shampoo yet, but I think Star Wars had not happened yet.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:47:15 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Ruckus over NOLA-area mall's Katrina-themed holiday display

Leo McGovern of the New Orleans alt-zine ANTIGRAVITY says,

At a mall in Metairie (just outside of New Orleans), a Christmas display was removed because it featured a Katrina theme. A couple of people complained, and it was deemed offensive because the guy who built it included blue tarps on the houses, a helicopter saving someone from a house, and a shut down pumping station. It was a pretty neat display. Here's a link to a local stations coverage, and a link (with more photos) to the New Orleans LiveJournal community's posting about it.
Blogger and NOLA evacuee/returnee Sturtle has more here. Reader comment: Brad says,
The folks at Lakeside Mall have reversed their position on the Hurricane Town display and allowed it to be restored. The public outcry was tremendous. It seems everyone got it except mall management. Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:33:23 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Video of Wired Mag's Google Print debate in NYC

Here's video of the "Battle Over Books" forum hosted by Wired Magazine last month at the New York Public Library. Representatives of Google, the American Association of Publishers, the Authors Guild, and others duked it out over the Google Print Library project. Link. (Thanks, Melanie Cornwell!)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:27:03 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Web Zen: Drag Racing

drag racing | racing school | drag school | pinewood derby | queen mother | slot cars | stock photos | vertical drag racing | camp records | don garlits | lady bunny

web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:23:05 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Random weird website: Julie Andrews/Adolf Hitler

I'm not sure what's going on here, but this site contains the priceless line:
I earn my living as a stevedore, but I shall promptly and respectfully reply to all personal messages at my leisure time providing that a busy working day hasn't squeezed all orange juice out of me.
Link (Thanks, Coop)

posted by Xeni Jardin at 08:04:27 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Hoodies with masks shipping soon

Back in October, I blogged about the Anticon hoodies, which sport an integrated (and intimidatingly subversive) face-mask. Now they're taking orders for fulfilment on 12/12, for €85. Link (Thanks, David!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 02:59:27 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Gold and diamond Game Boy for $25,000

This ridiculous, one-of-a-kind, $25,000 Game Boy is fashioned from 18k solid gold, with diamond accents on the control buttons. The most perverse thing about this is that handhelds are as ephemeral as they come; this is like a $25,000 roll of toilet paper. Link (Thanks, Tom!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 02:54:06 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Wired's page count as Nasdaq tracker

Rich Giles made a graph that compares the page counts of past issues of Wired with the the rise and fall of Nasdaq over the years.
200512030625You’ll note that the Nasdaq (red) lags Wired’s page count (blue) by a few months. I’m not suggesting you go an buy technology shares, but gee, I’m thinking the reports of money pumping back into technology companies might just be true given the big up-tick in this months page count (294).

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 06:27:29 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sony Rootkit Roundup IV

Nov 21: Protest CD DRM in NYC on Nov 30!
FreeCulture NYC is planning another street demonstration at a Tower Records store in Manhattan against DRM CDs, and have a great flier about the dangers of buying DRM music.

Nov 21: Table compares different kinds of Sony music infections
Sony CDs are infected with at least two different kinds of malicious software, the XCP rootkit and a spyware product from Suncomm called MediaMax. This handy table summarizes the differences and similarities between the two systems

Nov 22: Library won't buy Sony CDs
The library system in Ann Arbor, MI declares a moratorium on buying DRM CDs from Sony

Nov 24: Sony rootkit tee: "Why should people care about rootkits?"
These limited-edition tees from F-Secure bear the now infamous quote from Sony BMG president Thomas Hesse: "Most people don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"

Nov 24: Sony rootkit recall makes The Onion
The news of Sony's recall of its rootkit-infected CDs goes even more mainstream and is lampooned in this week's issue of The Onion, their What Do You Think? section.

Nov 24: Rootkit arms-dealer takes website down
First4Internet, the makers of the rootkit DRM that has turned Sony into an infamous villain facing tens of millions in liability, have taken down their website and replaced it with a simple landing page with some contact info.

Nov 27: Pre-history of the Sony rootkit
An old email thread shows the early efforts of the authors of Sony's infamous rootkit.

Nov 28: Sony rootkit author asked for free code to lock up music
An old newsgroup post from a First4Internet programmer offers cash if someone will do his homework for him. Later, code from the free/open source software project LAME (which does some of what this programmer was trying to do) showed up in a First4Internet product.

Nov 28: Programmers on Sony's spyware DRM asked for newsgroup help too
Programmers on Sony's less-known DRM, a piece of spyware called MediaMax from a company called Suncomm, posted messages to newsgroups asking for help with their technology.

Nov 28: Sony CD spyware installs and can run permanently, even if you click "Decline"
We knew that the MediaMax spyware on Sony's CD installs itself even if you click "Decline" when confronted with the "agreement" that governs it. Now we find that the software also runs, permanently, under some common circumstances, even if you never agree to its installation.

Nov 29: Will NY sue Sony, too?
New York Attorney General is making threatening noises over Sony's rootkit DRM, and it looks like he might bring suit.

Nov 29: Sony knew about rootkits 28 days before the story broke
BusinessWeek reports that Sony knew on Oct 4 that its DRM system was built on rootkits and exposed its customers to danger of opportunistic infections from other malicious programs.

Dec 1: No Xmas for Sony protest badge
Gisela has created a "No Xmas for Sony" badge she's using in her email, linking it to Mark Russinovich's account of the Sony rootkit debacle, as a means of convincing people not to buy Sony products this holiday.

Dec 3: How can you tell if a CD is infectious?
EFF publishes a list of indicia that Sony has used to inform customers that a CD carries the MediaMax spyware.
Previous installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part V, Part VI

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 01:18:30 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Video of random New Yorkers expressing their browser preferences

The Rocketboom videoblogger took to the streets of NYC and asked random people from all walks of life whether they preferred Firefox or Internet Explorer. The surprising things about the outcome were firstly, how many people actually understood the question; secondly, how many preferred Firefox; and how many understood the key benefits provided by Firefox.

Firefox still has less than 10 percent of the browser-share globally, but on sites like Boing Boing, it's a clear majority (check out the present stats -- almost 46 percent Firefox/Moz versus 34 percent Explorer). This also seems like it's true in cosmopolitan cities like New York. At a guess, I'd say that a lot of the Explorer market share is in corporations where people are forced into Microsoft's browser by their IT departments. Link, Torrent Link (via Digg)

Update: Booksandlibretti sez, "The video was filmed in Washington Square Park, which is basically part of NYU's campus. Chances are good that the interviewed people were a lot more hip, with-it, and tech-savvy than the usual run of people even in New York. We saw a lot of students, but I'm guessing a large proportion of the adults were also affiliated with NYU as professors or as grad students."

"Other interesting info: NYU grad students are on strike (detailed on MeFi and lots of other places). In this video, you can hear their whistle, and at times you can see the inflatable union rat in front of the large red building (Bobst Library)."

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:45:54 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Podcasting for regular people tool updated

The Odeo team have launched a major update to their "podcasting for regular people" tool that enables you to record, edit and share podcasts from your browser.
The biggest change is that anyone can now use the in-the-browser recording tool (Odeo Studio) and phone posting, along with the "Casually Private" sharing functionality we built around the idea of casual content creation. We've also redesigned the homepage for simplification and the workflow of the site around the idea of an audio inbox. You can still download everything in iTunes or your podcast client of choice. Or you can listen on the site.
Link (via Evhead)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:20:26 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Claymation Hello Kitty kicks videogame monster's ass

Dan sez, "Animator Saiman Chow created this wild claymated Hello Kitty vs Video Game Robot film for the 30th anniversary Hello Kitty Exhibtion held in Hong Kong. Needless to say, the Kitty kicks ass." Link (Thanks, Dan!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:17:21 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Friday, December 2, 2005

Cory speaking at Apachecon San Diego Dec 12

I'm giving the opening keynote at Apachecon, the conference for users and developers of the Apache open source Web server and related tools. Other keynotes are coming from Sun's Simon Phipps, XML-inventor Tim Bray, and VR pioneer Jaron Lanier, and there are sessions and tutorials on Xpath, SpamAssassin, Subversion, mod_python and mod_perl, as well as open source business models and tons of other topics.

ApacheCon is in San Diego, and runs from 10-14 December, 2005 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, and there are still several scholarships available for students working with Java.

My talk, "Open Source is not a crime -- yet!" is on Monday, December 12 at 9AM. I'll be talking about US and international legislative threats to copyleft, Free Software, and Creative Commons -- hope to see you there! Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:42:26 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

USB powered, mouse-aimed airdart launcher

This airdart launcher draws power from your USB and is aimed using your mouse. Twenty quid at M&S. Link (via Red Ferret)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:32:48 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

How can you tell if a CD is infectious?

From the packaging, it's very hard to tell if a music CD is going to infect your computer with spyware, a rootkit, or similar malicious, anti-customer technology.

There is no standard way that music companies use to warn you that a CD is infected with Suncomm's Mediamax spyware, which reports on your listening habits back to Sony, and which can't be uninstalled using the Windows uninstaller. The MediaMax spyware installs itself even if you decline the "agreement" that is put on your screen when you first insert the CD.

Sony is being sued for including both the MediaMax spyware and the XCP rootkit (which enables virus-writers to opportunistically and invisibly seize control of your PC) on its music CDs, but lots of other labels use MediaMax spyware, along with numerous other malicious DRM programs.

EFF has prepared a guide to helping you spot and avoid Mediamax spyware, with a list of CDs believed to carry the infection, along with a gallery and slideshow of the numerous different stickers, fine-print, and other indicia that Sony has used to disclose that the CD on the shelf contains spyware.

But buyer beware: this problem goes well beyond Sony. Most of the major labels have decided that they need to punish their remaining customers with infectious technologies. I don't trust them, so I've just stopped buying CDs. Between mashups, Creative Commons licensed music, Internet radio, and my gigantic collection of tracks ripped from my old CDs, I have all the music I need for now. If a hot band comes out with a hot album, they'd better be willing to sell me Oggs or MP3s, 'cause I've had it with CDs. There's no music worth risking my data for. Link (Thanks, Kurt!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:16:34 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

How News is Made, by Dale Dougherty

My friend Dale wrote this terrific essay about the way news stories are often made, using the example of the inevitable "Black Friday" holiday shopping story that every newspaper and radio and TV news program runs after Thanksgiving:
There should be a book titled "How News Is Made," a book that could be for journalism what "The Jungle" was to the meatpacking industry. My version would offer no conspiracy theory, but I'd point out the preponderance of sloppiness and lazy thinking coupled with a herd mentality, most especially in business journalism. I found a great example to illustrate what I've been thinking about, tipped off by an article written by Carl Bialik in the Wall Street Journal.
(Continue reading...)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 01:15:01 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

France about to get worst copyright law in Europe?

France may soon enact the worst copyright law in Europe, sneaking it through in a legislative session scheduled for December 22 and 23.

Europe's equivalent to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a controversial directive called the EUCD. Each EU state is responsible for implementing the minimum set of EUCD restrictions (which are far from minimal!) but each state can exceed the minimum, and the entertainment lobby pushes hard to see to it that they do. They've run amok in France, subverting the lawmaking process with a farcical wish-list of penalties, mandates and software bans.

Copyfighters in France have published a detailed alert in French; what follows is a loose, machine-assisted translation (substantive corrections gladly sought):

* A prohibition on all software that permits transmission [disposition is unclear without greater context] of copyrighted material that does not integrate both a watermark and DRM
* A prohibition on marketing or advertising such software
* These prohibitions include legal sanctions<
* DRM mandates for digital radio transmission
* A universal wiretapping system for private communication [This is defined elsewhere as a system to check for, say, music files attached to email messages, and not one that would violate the "secret of private correspondence".]
* Creation of a universal filering system for all ISPs
Link (Thanks, Paula!) (Thanks to "C" and Kirk for help with translation)

Update: The French Department of Culture has also threatened to ban Free/Open Source Software:

Friday November 18th, 2005, French Department of Culture. SNEP and SCPP have told Free Software authors: "You will be required to change your licenses." SACEM add: "You shall stop publishing free software," and warn they are ready "to sue free software authors who will keep on publishing source code" should the "VU/SACEM/BSA/FA Contents Department"[1] bill proposal pass in the Parliament.
(Thanks, Rob!)

Update 2 Here's a petition against this hijacking of the legislative process (Thanks, Henri!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:39:45 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Mashup Xmas album

Virtuoso mashup king dj BC sez, "This is a Christmas album of mashups and unlicensed remixes of Christmas chestnuts by remix artists from the US and UK. All songs (mp3) and the cover art are downloadable. Contains mixes from Go Home Productions (who has done official remix work for Blondie and Bowie among others), Poj Masta (the young prodigy of the UK scene), dj BC (The Beastles, remix work with Heaven 17), and lots of others. 18 tracks total." I'm listening to this now and actually cried out with delight when I happened on Voicedude's Janis Joplin/Santa Baby mashup, "Santa Benz." Link Mirror (Thanks dj BC and Manuel!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 12:27:02 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Delightful Engrish on sign at Chinese beach

Warning sign at a Chinese beach has smile-inducing Engrish rules.
Picture 3-33Have no the adult the child that look after with the old man prohibition against the next sea swimming
Link (thanks, CrisDias!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:13:20 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

1934 article: "How Carnival Racketeers Fleece the Public"

Picture 2-34 Charles Shopsin says: "Thought you might like this in reference to your post about how to beat carny games. It's an article scan from a 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix Magazine."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 11:00:51 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Spike Jonze TV commercial for Gap

Picture 4-19 The "Pardon Our Dust" TV commercial for Gap was directed by Spike Jonze and it's a hoot.
Link Alternate link (thanks, Scott!)

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:54:05 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

USB 9-volt charger kit in an Altoids tin

200512021005 Aaron Dunlap is selling these excellent USB 9-Volt charger kits in an Altoids tin for the ridiculously low price of $9.50. I can't think of a better stocking stuffer.

Update: Aaron Dunlap says: "I should point out that what I have for sale is kits to build your own charger in an Altoids tin or whatever you want. You get the electronic components and a walk-through manual. You might want to mention this on the site, since I've had a lot of people place orders thinking they're getting the whole kit & cabootle when I don't have the time to solder together 300 cabootles."

Reader comment: avidd says: "I call prior art on that USB charger featured in today's post. I built one for my trip to the amazon rainforest. While the guy is providing a service by selling the kits for cheap, he's being silly about keeping the design so mysterious. Buy a 5v IC regulator like the NTE960 or NTE977 from jameco.com for $1.65. Solder it between the battery leads and the usb leads. Don't forget the matching heatsink. For the NTE977 I chose to put some capacitors to ground as recommended in the manual on page 8 though that might have been overkill.

"That's really all there is.

"Go ahead and sell the kits, but Information wants to be free. Link

Reader comment: Aaron says: "Why does McDonald's stay in business when you could just make your own burgers? You can even get cookbooks for free from the library.

"Information should be free free; parts, however, aren't. My kits are meant for beginners who wouldn't know how or where to get the parts themselves or what to do with them. I have the full manual posted online if someone wanted to just do it themselves."

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 10:05:52 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

SETI vs. Intelligent Design

Apparently some proponents of "Intelligent Design" are suggesting that SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) research follows the same "logic" they say supports their claim. SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak calls bullshit on that. From Space.com:
In short, the champions of Intelligent Design make two mistakes when they claim that the SETI enterprise is logically similar to their own: First, they assume that we are looking for messages, and judging our discovery on the basis of message content, whether understood or not. In fact, we’re on the lookout for very simple signals. That’s mostly a technical misunderstanding. But their second assumption, derived from the first, that complexity would imply intelligence, is also wrong. We seek artificiality, which is an organized and optimized signal coming from an astronomical environment from which neither it nor anything like it is either expected or observed: Very modest complexity, found out of context. This is clearly nothing like looking at DNA’s chemical makeup and deducing the work of a supernatural biochemist.

posted by David Pescovitz at 09:48:17 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

2005 Street Tech Gift Guide

Gareth Branwyn says: "The annual Street Tech Gift Guide is up. We've called our guide perhaps the unsexiest gift guide in cyberspace, 'cause we almost exclusively cover products that we've actually used, lived with, and love ourselves. It's not the latest objects of desire, it's tried n' true gadgets we're almost certain the recipient will enjoy. It's 'sucks-less' gift-giving." Link

posted by Mark Frauenfelder at 09:41:14 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Tiger shark with shark in its mouth

A tiger shark was caught off Australia's Tannum Beach with another small shark hanging out of its mouth mid-bite. From ABC Capricornia:
 News2 Tiger Shark MouthApparently the smaller fish was caught on Tannum's shark lines.

While being pulled in, the movement attracted the attention of its larger colleague.

The tiger shark was so reluctant to let go of its free meal, it was eventually pulled in to shore.
Link to ABC Capricornia report, Link to an Underwater Times article with more about tiger sharks (via Fortean Times)

posted by David Pescovitz at 08:25:40 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Firefox plugin shows page-thumbnails when you mouse over tabs

Yesterday, I blogged about Foxspose, a Firefox plugin that renders all your open tabs as a collection of thumbnails you can click to quickly jump to the right tab.

Tabpreview is a similar plugin that drops a thumbnail of whatever's loaded in each tab as you mouse over it. Just tried it out and it worked well in a short round of testing. This will be way useful, I can tell already. Link (Thanks, Tim)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:03:57 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Eek-A-Mouse jamming with Irish pub musicians

Here's a six-minute MP3 of reggae hero Eek-A-Mouse jamming with a bunch of traditional Irish pub musicians -- fiddles, pipes, etc -- at his 50th birthday party. The result is great; Eek-A-Mouse's schtick is to sing in a high, Chinese-sounding falsetto, but to groovy reggae beats. Add to that some lively Irish fiddlers and you've really got something. Link (Thanks, Matt!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 05:55:11 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Images from eclectic websites

Happy Palace is an eclectica blog that just inlines images from the sites it links to, with no descriptive text. Scrolling through the pix on this is hypnotically cool. Link (via WHY THAT'S WONDERFUL, blog of Graham Linehan, creator of Father Ted)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 04:39:56 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Atheist group offers free porn in exchange for Bibles

Atheist Agenda, an atheist group at U Texas San Antonio, staged a "Porno for Bibles" event, where they gave free pornography to people who traded in religious scripture. Link (via Zombiebite)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 04:24:13 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Gadget turns all your video into iPod/PSP/phone/laptop video

Neuros have shipped an amazing-sounding device that takes the video you've already paid for -- DVDs, TV shows, and so on -- and repackages it to play on your PSP, laptop, phone or any other device that can handle MPEG4 video and Memory Sticks or Compact Flash. It's small enough to use as a portable VCR, slipping it into your pocket and taking it on holiday or to meetings.

It's seems ridiculous that you can record a TV show to play back on your TV, but you have to buy it again if you want to watch it on your iPod, phone or PSP. Why do you need to buy a DVD and an iPod version? Why can't you "home-tape" your media to something more convenient, the way you could with your old LPs?

Thank (or curse) the entertainment companies: they have threatened to sue any company that makes a better digital VCR (they put one manufacturer, ReplayTV, out of business, by sucking up all their dough with legal fees). They've even proposed legislation to close the "analog hole" that makes this recording without permission possible. That's right, Hollywood's media-savvy technophobes really think that they'll be able to convince Congress to help them with something called the "A-Hole problem." Hey, if the shoe fits.

But Neuros's pocket-sized "Recorder 2" defects from the tacit agreement to withhold better technology from the market. Just in time for Christmas, Neuros is taking a stand, letting you home-record your stuff and watch it the way you want, the way the law allows. They've even written a stirring editorial explaining their commitment to their customers' freedom, with such choice quotes as "But who will stand up for you today if you are to continue to have the right to enjoy your legally obtained media content wherever and whenever you want?" and "these proposed laws are about Big Media using piracy as an excuse to take away your right to control your own legally obtained content and thereby open up new revenue streams by forcing you to pay multiple times for the same content."

* Record effortlessly from any video source (TV Cable box, Satellite Receiver Box, PVRs or DVRs Like TiVoTM, DVD players, VCR, Camcorders).

* Simple setup that works without a PC and operates like a VCR.

* MPEG-4 video format allows you to view content directly on your PSP(TM) or any other device that accepts standard Memory Stick or Compact Flash (CF) memory cards (not included).

* The MPEG-4 format is also compatible with most other portable media devices.

* A great way to digitize your home movies for archiving, emailing, or playback on portables and laptops.

* Can play back from Recorder 2 through TV's and home theatres. Pocket-sized device is small enough to use as a portable VCR.

Bravo, Neuros. I hope you sell a million of these things. I'm buying one right now. Link (Thanks, Kathryn!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:31:37 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Scrollbar-shaped scarf with repositionable scroller

Matt crochets and sells $50 scarves that resemble long, floppy scrollbars, with a repositionable scroller. Perfect for the cold, nerdy necks in your life. Link (Thanks, Matt!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:15:05 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Sam Buck sued for naming her coffee shop after herself

A judge in Oregon has ruled that naming your shop after yourself is a trademark violation if your name is too similar to that of a big corporate brand.

A woman named Sam Buck opened a coffee shop in Astoria, Oregon in 2000, two years before a Starbucks opened down the road. She named her shop Sambuck's, and the judge in her case said that she willfully infringed on Starbucks's trademark in so doing.

Now she's stuck with hundreds of thousands in legal fees and the added expense of throwing out all her cups, her sign, etc.

She says she doubts people have trouble distinguishing her 10-foot-wide shop from a Starbucks, and that her business logo is not easily confused with that of Starbucks.
Link (Thanks, Peter!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:11:40 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Patent reform cage-match debate in DC, Dec 7

Organizer Ben Klemens writes,
Washington, DC's Brookings Institution will be hosting a panel on software and law, on Dec 7, and I could not be more enthused about it. This is partly because I'm the moderator, and partly because it's going to be an open debate on some enthralling subjects by some exceptionally well-informed indivudals. There'll be two of the best advocates against software patents, Richard Stallman (of the FSF) and Brian Kahin (of the Ford School at UMich and the CCIA); and there'll be two of the best advocates for software patents, Ken Dam (who sired many a software patent as a former IBM VP), and Emery Simon (of the Business Software Alliance, one of the key players in passing the DMCA).

As well as being a rousing good time, this debate _matters_, because the Patent Reform Act of 2005 is gaining steam in Congress, and it's still an open question whether it will help the world of software or just create more constraints.


posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:05:44 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Man flies 1MM miles on a 60 day unlimited ticket, wins 10 more flights

Marc Tacchi bought a special $7,000 Air Canada ticket that gave him unlimited flights for 60 days, then set out to fly 1,000,000 miles. He accomplished it, flying 56 out of 60 days. As a million-mile Air Canada flier, he gets vouchers for $70,000 worth of business-class airfares. The kicker is, he's a cargo pilot who flies between North America and Asia for a living.
A typical day would start with a 10 a.m. flight to Victoria, British Columbia, about 70 km (45 miles) from Vancouver. He would fly back and fourth between the two cities about six times and then catch an overnight flight 4,300 km (2,700 miles) to Toronto.

In Toronto, he would immediately board a return flight.

Link to Tacchi's blog, Link to quoted Reuters article

posted by Cory Doctorow at 11:03:29 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Grateful Dead "reversal" on fan-recordings is a smokescreen

Yesterday, I blogged stories about various Grateful Dead spokespeople and band-alumni making promises to reverse their attack on fan-recordings that are hosted at the the Internet Archive (these recordings were made by dedicated fans with the band's explicit blessing, and have been the core of an decades-old evangelical unpaid promotional campaign by Deadheads that has returned a gigantic fortune for the band).

However, it appears that all the talk about "communications SNAFUs" was a smokescreen for a half-assed compromise that leaves the highest-quality recordings available only as streams, meaning that they can no longer be simply downloaded from the Archive and traded on.

The spin on this is bizarre -- see below:

He said the band consented to making audience recordings available for download again, although live recordings made directly from concert soundboards, which are the legal property of the Grateful Dead, should only be made available for listening from now on.
What, exactly, is the Grateful Dead's "legal property?" The media on which the recordings reside? No, those belong to the fans and/or the Internet Archive. Rather, the thing that the Grateful Dead controls is the copyrights in the performances. But they control the copyright in the non-soundboard recordings every bit as much as they control the soundboard recordings.

So why is this being characterized as the Grateful Dead changing its position? They've reversed on a minor point -- that freespace recordings may be traded -- but they've stuck to the main point: recordings made by fans with the blessing of the Dead and the admonition to share them far and wide are no longer to be shared without the explicit blessing of the band's surviving rightsholders.

It's clear why these rightsholders want this. The Grateful Dead is famous, and lots of people are interested in buying GD recordings, merchandise, and tickets to the successor band, The Dead. The Grateful Dead's fame is the direct consequence of the goodwill they exchanged with their fans when they adopted their liberal policies for recording and sharing of shows.

Now the rightsholders want it both ways: they want to profit from the goodwill that fans retain for the band due to its generosity, but they want to revise that generosity downwards. They want to change the deal so that fans continue to do just as much evangelizing, spend just as much money on shows and shirts, but get less in return.

There's a ripoff here, and it's not coming from the fans. To quote John Perry Barlow, the band's irate former lyricist who wrote an open letter objecting to this move: "How magnificently counter-productive of them. It's as if the goose who laid the golden egg had decided to commit suicide so that he could get more golden eggs." Link

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:58:32 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Schneier: Aviation security is a bad joke

Security expert Bruce Schneier has written a scathing editorial about the complete inefficacy of the security measures that have been brought to bear for American air travel:
They're bizarre lists: people -- names and aliases -- who are too dangerous to be allowed to fly under any circumstance, yet so innocent that they cannot be arrested, even under the draconian provisions of the Patriot Act. The Selectee list contains an equal number of travelers who must be searched extensively before they're allowed to fly. Who are these people, anyway?

The truth is, nobody knows. The lists come from the Terrorist Screening Database, a hodgepodge compiled in haste from a variety of sources, with no clear rules about who should be on it or how to get off it. The government is trying to clean up the lists, but -- garbage in, garbage out -- it's not having much success.

The program has been a complete failure, resulting in exactly zero terrorists caught. And even worse, thousands (or more) have been denied the ability to fly, even though they've done nothing wrong.


posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:44:31 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cuckoo clock pulls voicemail off the Internet and plays it back

The CuckooIP is a student-built, Internet-connected cuckoo clock that receives alarms by phone (call and record a message and set a time for it to play) and then replays them at set times: the cuckoo comes out of his hole and the recorded message plays back. Full source is available on the site. Link (Warning: Site is all Flash AND it resizes your browser window!) (via We Make Money Not Art)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 10:41:46 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Squirrels kill dog

A pack of squirrels at a park in the Lazo village of Russia's Maritime Territory reportedly ganged up on a stray dog that was barking up at them in the trees. Witnesses say the squirrels jumped down, attacked the dog, and killed it. From the BBC News:
"They literally gutted the dog," local journalist Anastasia Trubitsina told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

"When they saw the men, they scattered in different directions, taking pieces of their kill away with them."

Mikhail Tiyunov, a scientist in the region, said it was the first he had ever heard of such an attack.

While squirrels without sources of protein might attack birds' nests, he said, the idea of them chewing at a dog to death was "absurd".

"If it really happened, things must be pretty bad in our forests," he added.
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:56:55 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

First face transplant

French doctors claim to have completed the first face transplant on a 39-year-old woman whose face had been mangled in a dog attack. The partial transplant took place on Sunday at the Amiens University Hospital. Apparently, the surgeons replaced her nose, lips, and chin with the features of a brain-dead woman. Apparently, people are now pissed off about the surgery for various reasons. From the Associated Press:
Dr. Laurent Lantieri, an adviser to the French medical ethics panel, said the surgeons who operated violated the panel's advice because they failed to try reconstructive surgery first. He said a transplant donor was immediately sought without trying to repair the woman's face with more conventional surgery...

The panel had previously objected to full face transplants but said partial ones could be considered under strict circumstances, which included first trying normal surgery.

"The ethics committee said this kind of transplant should never be considered as an emergency procedure," Lantieri said.

However, surgeon Denys Pellerin, of the National Consultative Ethics Committee advised by Lantieri said, "as long as the transplant is not total, it is not unethical."

And Dr. Jean-Pierre Chavoin, secretary general of the French society of plastic surgery, noted that Lantieri had planned to do a face transplant himself and had been beaten.

Carine Camby, director general of the agency under the French Health Ministry that coordinates organ procurement, said normal reconstructive surgery could not have been used in this case.

"It is precisely because there was no way to restore the functions of this patient by normal plastic surgery that we attempted this transplant," Camby said. "She could no longer eat normally, she had great difficulty speaking and there is no possibility with plastic surgery today to repair the muscles around the mouth which allow people to articulate when they speak and not spit out food when they eat."
Link to CNN report about the surgery, Link to AP story about the ethics controversy, Link to previous BB post about face transplants

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:47:11 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Giant scorpion tracks discovered

Scientists found evidence in Scotland of a water scorpion that was 5.2 feet long and about 3.2 feet wide. The monster lived about 350 million years ago. Dr. Martin Whyte of Sheffield University discovered tracks of the monster, known as Hibbertopterus, found the tracks in sandstone on a former beach. From the BBC News:
The length of track preserved, 6m (20ft), is remarkable. The stride pattern, too, is huge - 27cm (11in).

Fragmentary fossils of Hibbertopterus are well known from Scottish Lower Carboniferous rocks and were first described from West Lothian in 1831.

The creature did not have the big pincers or carry its tail in the air like the land scorpions we know today, and it did not have a sting, either; but these animal groups are nonetheless distantly related, scientists believe.

What is interesting about this trackway is that is shows Hibbertopterus could move out of its usual water habitat.

"There has been debate about whether it was restricted to water or could come out on land. I believe this trackway shows it could come out for short periods," explained Dr Whyte.
Link (Thanks, Loren Coleman!)

posted by David Pescovitz at 02:33:15 PM permalink | Other blogs' comments

Cool projects from SciToys

While going through one of my favorite found-image blogs, Happy Palace, I came across these photos of projects from Simon Quellen Field's blog, SciToys. I was already somewhat familiar with SciToys, because I built the Gauss Rifle project (which uses a ruler and some magnets to accelerate a steel ball), but it looks like the site has been updated since I last dropped by.

Happy Palace didn't say which projects the pictures were from, so I went to SciToys and looked them up. In doing so, I saw a bunch of other projects, many of which had animations of the things in action. They are fantastic, because they are simple, yet novel contraptions that demonstrate rules of physics, optics, and electricity in fun and surprising ways. These projects are just the sort of thing you hope for when you get a book of "amazing science projects." In fact, Simon has a book out, called Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices to Channel Your Inner G