Boing Boing 

Playboy: Women of Enron

Playboy is seeking former Enron employees to pose for a "Women of Enron" ish. Is Hef channeling Larry Flint? Link Discuss

Disney's California Adventure to suck less

Disney is revamping the California Adventure, their brain-damaged theme-parklet next door to Disneyland. Built with the "assistance" of some high-priced McKinsey consultants (the same consultants who advised them to cut back on the maintenance regimen in Disneyland, a suggestion that has led to several near-fatal accidents and at least one fatality), the California Adventure is a prime example of what happens when a company abandons its visionary roots.

Walt built Disneyland because he wanted a park where kids and grownups could play together, where ripoff midway games and nauseous midway rides took a back-seat to storytelling, wonder and art.

California Adventure was built by repurposing rides from other parks, buying off-the-shelf rides from midway suppliers, and tossing in a bunch of those awful ripoff midway ring-toss games. Many of the rides are either kid or adult-specific, and the park offers little by way of storytelling, wonder or art, having no strong thematic continuity and attractions that you can find in your local travelling carny.

Disney's Parks and Resorts Chairman weasels around on this:

"People want new stories to be told," Pressler said. "But there are also some truths. When you try to push the envelope a little in terms of sophistication, it doesn't resonate as well inside the park as outside the park."
Vomitous coasters, ring-toss and whirling swings are "sophistication?" Link Discuss

Will Wright and Scott McCloud at GDC

Short recap of a talk given by Wright and McCloud at the Game Developers Conference. McCloud pointed out that from a business perspective, you want your product to be as addictive as possible. But there's a line, he said, separating "earned addiction" (desirable) from "compulsion" (not necessarily good). For instance, there are people who are sick of Everquest, but feel compelled to continue playing to explore just a little bit more, or achieve that next character level. Link Discuss

Treat me like a customer, not a thief

Dan Gillmor's written a stirring editorial on the Anti-Mammal Dinosaur Protection Act and related technology mandates.
1. Do you care if a few giant companies control virtually all entertainment and information?

2. Do you care if they decide what kinds of technological innovations will reach the marketplace?

3. Would you be concerned if they used their power to compile detailed dossiers on everything you read, listen to, view and buy?

4. Would you find it acceptable if they could decide whether what you write and say could be seen and heard by others?


Here's my message to the record industry and its allies:

I'm not a thief. I'm a customer. When you treat me like a thief, I won't be your customer.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Howard!)

Apple treats child prodigies like crap

Apple is excluding under-age open-source haxors from their development efforts. Idjits. Link Discuss (via Doc)

The Danger Hiptop kicks AZZ

Just saw a demo of the Danger HipTop and I am SPAZZING OUT. Jesus Christ, this is the coolest goddamned phone/PDA/cam/email/SMS/thing in the entire universe. I have a technology boner that could cut glass. The site doesn't do it justice. You need to see it. Link Discuss

Nerd squillionaire sporting bets

The Long Bets foundation is the nerd squillionaire version of those Around-the-World-In-80-Days gentlemen's agreements. When one nerd squillionaire makes some hubristic prediction about the future, another nerd squillionaire can call her/him on it and challenge her/him to a friendly wager of $1000 or more. Bets are even-odds, must have binary outcomes (no partial wins), and involve some event that takes place at least two years in the future, and bettors must write reasoned essays explaining their premise. Proceeds go to the winner's charity of choice. Here at PC Forum, anyone who asserts any futuristic thing will likely be challenged to put down a gee on it.
1. A computer - or "machine intelligence" - will pass the Turing Test by 2029.
Ray Kurzweil vs. Mitchell Kapor ($20,000)

2. In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times' Web site.
Dave Winer vs. Martin Nisenholtz ($2,000)

3. A profitable video-on-demand service aimed at consumers will offer 10,000 titles to 5 million subscribers by 2010.
Jim Griffin vs. Gordon Bell ($2,000)

4. By 2030, commercial passengers will routinely fly in pilotless planes.  
Craig Mundie vs. Eric Schmidt ($2,000)

5. By 2012, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times will have referred to Russia as "the world leader in software development" or words to that effect.
Esther Dyson vs. Bill Campbell ($10,000)

6. By 2010, more than 50 percent of books sold worldwide will be printed on demand at the point of sale in the form of library-quality paperbacks.
Jason Epstein vs. Vint Cerf ($2,000)

7. The universe will eventually stop expanding.
Danny Hillis vs. Nathan Myhrvold ($2,000)

Link Discuss

What the Past Will Look Like Some Day

Diveintomark has reposted this topical editorial on the consequences to posterity of copy-prevention. The author describes his difficulty getting hte games he bought to play on his various machines and devices, and the problems he's had as his modifications to those boxen triggers false positives in the copy-prevention technology. Upshot: if he wants to play these games, he needs to download the cracked versions floating about in the noosphere.

In twenty years, the only playable versions of these games will be the cracked ones, which guarantees immortality to the craxors who insert splash-screens with paeons to their psuedonymous technical studliness, and obscurity for the companies that actually wrote the games. Link Discuss (via The Adventures of AccordionGuy in the 21st Century)

A truly excellent acronym

Heard at PC Forum:

BOHICA (Bend Over, Here It Comes Again): Every two years, the technology industry turns itself upside-down and reinvents itself and generally emulsifies all socio-economic order. Hence, BOHICA. Discuss

Hearings in Toronto tomorrow on the Canadian DMCA

If you're in Toronto tomorrow, you've got a chance to help defeat the Canadian version of the Business Model Protection Act Canadian DMCA:
Significant "Digital Copyright" legislation is currently in the public consultations phase.

This is the process:

This is the consultation paper itself:

This legislation will impact all of our lives on both the professional and the personal level. In the smaller sense by creating rules and regs. to control/define much of the legal (and not so legal) freedoms that we take for granted on the Internet.

In the larger sense it impacts us by formalizing a new balance between the interests and rights of creators vs. brokers vs. consumers of intellectual "property".

If you want to say to your grand-kids, "I was there when they wrote that piece-of-junk || excellent bill", you might want to attend these hearings.

Discuss (via The Adventures of AccordionGuy in the 21st Century)

Indispensible resource for kids online

David Weinberger, author of "Small Pieces Loosely Joined," has produced a version for middle-school kids that does a fantastic job of explaining what the Internet is and what it is for. I'm at PC Forum this week, surrounded by Captains of Industry, Founding Parents, analysts, journalists, startupniks and sharks, and for all that I've heard a half dozen remarks in the past 24h that suggest that the speaker could really use a perusal of this text.

My kid brother is an elementary school teacher and my Mom's a retired elementary teacher: Guys, are you reading this? Send it to your colleagues, please. Link Discuss (via Kottke)

France legalizes cellular jamming

The French have legalized cellular jammers, devices that make it impossible to send or receive a call, text message, or voxmail on your mobile. They'll be in use by summer. Link Discuss

The Warhol battery

A new rechargable battery intended for use in cell-phones, digital cameras, etc., can be brought to a full charge in fifteen minutes. Link Discuss

The Stalinist musico-industrial complex

Some very tasty red-baiting in this Observer column comparing the music-industry's attempt to mandate copy-prevention and the Stalinist regime's tight control on photocopiers.
There is, however, one sobering statistic which may eventually cause even Congress to balk at the studios' arrogance. US domestic spending on computing technology is running at $600 billion a year, while Hollywood generates a measly $35bn.

To concede the demand for copy protection would be tantamount to compelling a huge, dynamic industry to march to the soporific beat of a technophobic industry desperate to preserve its obsolete business models.

Link Discuss (via Intersting People)

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

"There’s this stupid myth out there that A.I. has failed, but A.I. is everywhere around you every second of the day. People just don’t notice it." MIT robot evangelist Rodney Brooks talks to Technology Review. Link Discuss

Entourage notes and events on your iPod

Export your Entourage Notes and Events to your iPod with these little OS X apps. Notes: Link, Events: Link Discuss

Sending mail from PC Forum

Attendees at PC Forum: The outgoing mailserver on the 802.11 network is Screw that, I'm wrong. Discuss

Today's kids are all thumbs

The index finger is the first casualty of the GameBoy age.
New research carried out in nine cities around the world shows that the thumbs of people under the age of 25 have taken over as the hand's most dexterous digit, said The Observer.

The change affects those who have grown up with hand-held devices where the thumbs are used for keying in text messages and emails.

Link Discuss (via /.)

The Rube Goldberg Agency

This NYT lede is so delish.
Only the Immigration and Naturalization Service could the task of streamlining the agency fall to an official recently named to be "assistant deputy executive associate commissioner for immigration services."
Link Discuss

The Mac is a circumvention device

Remember Dmitry Skylarov, the Russian scientist the US imprisoned last year for showing people how pointless Adobe's PDF "security" was? And whose former employer the US is still pursuing?

Well, time to add another notorious pirate organization to the list of defendants: Apple.

"Mac OS X's Preview program is able to ignore the security settings in an Acrobat encrypted file and do whatever it wants with the file. And if OS X's Preview can do this, then any program can be written to exploit this security hole. ... The process of destroying the security settings in an encrypted PDF document is surprisingly easy and straightforward."
See the link below for explicit, step-by-step instructions for gaining access to the files you've purchased, even if the person who created them has set "protection" flags that defeat fair use, format-shifting, excerpting, and the Doctrine of First Sale. Link Discuss (Thanks, Seth!)

Vandalizing art for the children

A self-aapointed critic has vandalized the flayed-corpse exhibit. His defence? He's a father, and wanted to keep his children safe from moral corruption. Way to set an example, Dad. Link Discuss (Thanks, Pat!)

Mail archiver for Entourage for Mac OS X:

Mail archiver for Entourage for Mac OS X:
Entourage Email Archive (EEA X) is a simple and fast utility for archiving emails and attachments you have received or sent using Microsoft Entourage. Entourage Email Archive X can archive your email in three different ways:

* 1 - Archive email and/or attachments in the Finder
* 2 - Export or append email in a text file
* 3 - Export or append email in tab-text format
(for this function a freeware FileMaker Pro template is enclosed in EEA X folder)

* Settings 1 produce produce a Finder-structured-folders archive where emails and/or attachments are grouped by day.
* Settings 2 produce a long “paper trail” file that can be viewed with a robust text editor like BBEdit, Apple TextEdit or Microsoft Word.
* Settings 3 produce a tab-text file that can be imported into computer database programs like Filemaker Pro.

Link Discuss

The Internet reaches the ends of the earth

Pat sez:
O.K. Now I believe that the internet has penetrated every corner of the planet. Here is the virtual shopping center for Pitcairn Island. Actually, the stuff doesn't look bad. Natural, tropical honey, dried fruit, nice earrings and wood carving---and you support the shrinking population of this last place on earth.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Pat!)

Some links restored to Google's database

Score half a point for the good guys -- Google's put some of the censored anti-Scientology links back into its database.
Don Marti, an activist who protested the arrest of a Russian programmer under the DMCA last year, said he and other activists met with Google on Thursday to discuss the situation.

"Google invited us right in," said Marti, whose ad hoc group is called "Mountain View, California, Xenu Independent Study Group."

Google had the Web site back up before the group arrived at its Mountain View offices on Thursday afternoon, he said.

"We're discussing Google's DMCA policy and trying to keep this from happening again," Marti said. "Google should be a fair and accurate representation of what's on the Internet."

Link Discuss (Thanks, Pat!)

Nixon explains All in the Family

Nixon tape transcripts: Even more reason to hiss when they highlight the Nixonbot at the Hall of Presidents in Walt Disney World:
It takes the president a while to get to the point, which begins with his review of a popular TV sitcom he has just watched, apparently for the first time:

"Archie is sitting here with his hippie son-in-law, married to the screwball daughter. . . . The son-in-law apparently goes both ways."

Nixon seems to have concluded, against all evidence, that Meathead is bisexual. Possibly it is the length of his hair. Another character in the show, Nixon reports, is "obviously queer. He wears an ascot, and so forth."

The president is outraged that this filth should appear on TV:

"The point that I make is that, goddamn it, I do not think that you glorify on public television homosexuality. You don't glorify it, John, anymore than you glorify, uh, whores."

The president asserts that America is in jeopardy from this Archie Bunker gay thing:

"I don't want to see this country to go that way. You know what happened to the Greeks. Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that, so was Socrates."

Link Discuss (via On Lisa Rein's Radar)

Historical online bookselling design

A Razorfish Web-guy has written up a fascinating analysis of the historical design of Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Borders' homepages.
Amazon communicates using images and links rather than text descriptions.

From 1999 through 2001, Amazon used more images and fewer text descriptions than Barnes and Noble. In 2002, both sites used about 560 words per page, yet the density of words was 33 percent lower on Amazon; Amazon distributes the words across the page as links rather than bunching them together in paragraphs. Over time, Barnes and Noble is becoming more like Amazon in this respect.

Link Discuss (via Camworld)

Starbucks as clueless as KPMG?

Starbucks joins the KPMG Memorial Hall of Cluelessness for sending a registered lawyer-letter to the community site Backwash demanding that they remove links to the giant coffee-chain because Starbucks believes that linking to them without permission is a copyright violation. Starbucks needs a clue. Link Discuss (via Fark)

iPod text editors emerge

As soon as I saw the Contacts import for the new iPod update, I immediately wondered why Apple hadn't released a Notes and To-Do version -- simple data-types that should be easy to import. Well, just a couple days later, there are two Cocoa OSX apps that allow you to put unstructured notes into your Contacts folder. Unfortunately, neither is particularily user-friendly; both require that you launch the app, tell it which text you want on the note, hit Save, locate your Contacts folder on your mounted iPod, enter a filename, hit save again. A much better version would be an OSX service or Scriptie that grabs the highlighted text, prompts you for a title and saves the file (giving it a title like "00Note__, so that all the notes are grouped together at the top of the list). Still, it's quite promising. Link (Podnotes), Link (iPod Text Editor) Discuss (via MacSlash)

Schoolhouse Rock -- Live!

In Seattle? Love campy 70s campy throwback cartoons? The Seattle Times recommends this off-off-off-Broadway live production of "Schoolhouse Rock."
If, as the show's theme says, "Knowledge is Power," then "Schoolhouse" is only a lesser superhero. The often overly simple songs chosen for the live version — ranging from grammar rock to folksy math ballads — aren't going to help anyone pass a math test and probably won't win many friends among history teachers either.

Add to this lyrical mess frenetic choreography and actors valiantly but unsuccessfully singing out of vocal range, and information is a rare commodity.

But, oh, does this cast want to win its audience. One would be hard-pressed to find anyone onstage without his Mouseketeer smile on full-blast. Though low on budget, ReACT's cup of cheerleader spirit runneth over.

Link Discuss

Still Blindly Consuming...

Hate those "Open for Business" consumerism-is-the-answer-to-terrorism signs? Show your opposition to them by, er, buying mugs and other schwag with this rather clever riff printed on 'em. Link Discuss (Thanks, Flux!)