Boing Boing 

Spooky Web Zen: 10 urls for Halloween heebiejeebies

Put down the kandy korn, fool, and hold on to your Aeron. Ten stupid, silly urls guaranteed to induce Web Zen satori long after that sugar high you're nursing wears off. Click 'em and cringe. Boo.

1. pumpkin music
2. candy dildos?
3. creepy eye game
4. satan's little helpers
5. satan's little helpers, part two
6. scary cats do japanese dress-up
7. pelorian cats
8. cat in a shell
9. i love you more than kittens
10. angry, scary, rock-n-roll kittens

Discuss Thanks, Frank !

Coin-op unit limits TV use

Strange device hooks up to your TV set, allows 30 minutes of viewing time per token. Would probably work with a computer, too. Check out the other odd devices on this site.Link Discuss

Zombie celebrity photoshopping contest

Talented photoshoppers turn celebrity photos into zombie portraits. Nice job on the Dixie Chix. Link Discuss (via MeFi)


Funny site uses Google to find one sentence descriptions about people, places, events. My favorite: "Mark Frauenfelder is a babe." Bless their hearts. Link Discuss (Thanks, Jim!)

Best con-game blog-entry ever

Teresa Nielsen Hayden, queen-hell blogger, has posted a wonderful, lengthy, linked-up discourse on confidence games. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, and Teresa's light and witty touch makes the subject pop off the screen. Don't miss it. Link Discuss

Fantastically clever games inside of buttons

The gamebutton arcade features a bunch of fiendishly clever arcade games implemented with JavaScript inside of form-buttons. Dashteroids, included herein, is a button-sized version of asteroids; use mouseclicks to move your cursor up and down to avoid incoming debris. This is just about the coolest goddamned webthing, ever. Link Discuss (Thanks, Eli the Bearded!)

MooMoo decoder

New smart-collars can interpret dog-barks and cow-moos:
In Braunschweig, Germany, for example, researchers at the Institute of Technology and Biosystems Engineering have recently been able to decipher, with about 90 percent accuracy, what cows mean when they moo: hunger, thirst, need for milking and so on.

Dr. Gerhard Jahns, a control engineer who helped devise the project, said that about 700 "vocalizations" were recorded from about 20 cows, a process he described as "extremely time-consuming." Cows can go for hours without making a sound, Dr. Jahns said, "and it's hard to get them to speak into the microphone

Link Discuss (Thanks, Steve!)

Dan Gillmor on Slashdot

Dan Gillmor's Slashdot interview is up today, and it's terrific. Dan's at the head of the pack of tech journalists, and he's worth taking seriously.
People who've been here for more than a couple of downturns say this one's as bad as they've seen, maybe the worst. We got so far ahead of rationality in the bubble that it's probably going to take more time than usual to restore robust growth. There's plenty of innovation going on, but we now have a huge overhand of public mistrust of markets -- and people are absolutely right to hold the financial community, some VCs and others who helped inflate the bubble in contempt.

I doubt we'll see another boom like the one that just crashed. But we'll come out of this mess. It'll happen when people trust the markets again, because there's lots of innovation going on. Problem: I fear that anyone who trusts the markets right now -- especially when Bush and his crowd are doing everything they can to torpedo essential reform -- is misguided.

Link Discuss

Wireless security to get new "standard"

The WiFi Alliance -- the certification body that blesses 802.11 devices -- has announced a plan to replace the broken and crumbling WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) "security" system with something called "Wi-Fi Protected Access" (WPA). The press-release links to a couple of feel-good PDFs about WPA. It seems like there's some behind-the-scenes politicking going on at the standards body (WPA isn't a standard yet, but WiFi Alliance will roll out a version that's "forward compatible" with a "proposed standard"). Anyone know where the security wonks are duking it over over whether or not WPA works?
In enterprise mode, a network server and sophisticated authentication mechanisms are utilized and automatically distribute special encryption keys, called master keys.

In a home environment, where there are no network servers, Wi-Fi Protected Access runs in a special mode, which allows the use of manually entered keys or passwords instead. This mode, also called Pre-Shared Key (PSK), is designed to be easy to set up for the home user. All the home user needs to do is enter a password (also called a master key) into their access point or home wireless gateway and each PC that is on the Wi-Fi wireless network. After entering the password, Wi-Fi Protected Access automatically takes over. First, it keeps out eavesdroppers and other unauthorized users by requiring all devices to have the matching password. Second, the password kicks off the encryption process, which in Wi-Fi Protected Access is called Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP).

Link Discuss

Judge amends decision after reading correction on blog

A former law clerk noted an error in a Fifth Circuit decision on his blog. The judge who wrote the decision turns out to be a regular reader of said blog, and he immediately amended the decision and wrote to the blogger with the news. Judges read blogs. Judges correct Federal court rulings based on blogs. Wow. Link Discuss (Thanks, Pat!)

20 Things auction needs art for EFF!

The 20 Things, 20 People, 20 Days mail-art project ("20 people make 20 things in 20 days and mail their 20 things with a SASE. in return, each gets that SASE back, filled with one of each thing made in the group.") is holding a charity auction to raise money for ten worthy causes, including EFF. They're looking for original art to auction off:
We are currently accepting donations of original artwork for the benefit auction (deadline is 11/15). Email for details if you're interested in contributing. The auction is scheduled to begin in early December.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Judith!)

Airport security leads to topless checkpoint

A French tourist got so fed up with having her chest wanded by airport security in the USA that she took off her shirt and bra to demonstrate her bomb-and-boxcutter-free chestular region. The airport was closed for 10 minutes. Under the USAPATRIOT Act, she faces up to three years in jail. Link (German-English translation here: Link) Discuss (Thanks, Boris!)

Reed on USA Today on Powell

David "Cognitive Radio" Reed takes USA Today's coverage of Powell's promise to open more spectrum apart:
From the article: "Academics have long argued that more bands should be set aside for unlicensed services and that they could even share certain frequencies with licensed services without interfering."

I love this use of the word "academics". Where did that come from? The Open Spectrum advocacy has some folks from "academy" (Benkler, Lessig, Lippman, Shepard). But most of us have been doing business in the "real world" (me, Dewayne, Werbach, Hughes, ...). And the wider support of unlicensed radio is doing quite well as a business, thank you. Better competitive business people there than at the top of the ILEC, cable, and broadcaster megacorps. Even Intel and Microsoft support unlicensed bands where industry works together to set standards.

Academic, as in "purely academic", I suppose. Just like Szilard (the holder of the patent on the atomic bomb) was an academic. Or like the people who invented the Internet because AT&T could not bring itself to imagine a world where they weren't in control were academics.

Link Discuss

Nintendo's strongarm tactics

With Nintendo facing fines of 149 million Euros from the European Parliament for anti-competitive practices, it's interesting to take a look back at just how bad their practices were. This 1997 article on Nintendo's strongarm tactics is a great overview of how the company got into 149 million Euros' worth of trouble:
Nintendo's next atrocity would be to use the considerable monopoly they had to control the consumer. Because of the game shortages, consumers would be more concerned about getting a particular title than the price. And because of Nintendo's domineering stance with the retailers, they were able to dictate the expected prices for their games.

In the electronics and computer industry, you can expect equipment to reduce in price over time. When new devices are created that make older ones obsolete, the older devices are reduced in price to compete with the newer ones. This is clearly evident if one simply peruses the want-ads in their local paper and notes the prices of computer systems that were considered state of the art a year previous. This logic applies to all aspects of the computer and electronics industry, including video games. Why then between 1985 and 1989 did the Nintendo Entertainment System only lower $10 in its price?

This was exactly what Attorney Generals from all fifty states were wondering when they began investigating the activities of Nintendo of America in 1989. They found that Nintendo had been fixing the price of systems and games in the stores, using intimidation to influence retailers to abide by their wishes, and were making astronomical profits. Nintendo had been doing this since they first brought out the NES in 1985. They had strived to construct the system inexpensively, however, it was being sold at the same price as the competing systems. An antitrust action was brought up against Nintendo by these same Attorney Generals, and on October 17, 1991, District Court Judge Sweet granted approval of settlement agreements. [775 F.Supp. 676 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)]

Link Discuss (via Hack the Planet)

FCC calls for more open spectrum

Chairman Michael "Colin's Son" Powell of the FCC today called for the opening up more spectrum for unlicensed activity. The last time the FCC opened up some spectrum, we got WiFi. Now, open spectrum advocates say that further opening of the airwaves could deliver Cognitive Radio, a technology and philosophy that will allow nearly infinite communications through the airwaves and knock the long-haul wire-carriers on their asses. Link Discuss (via Werblog)

PalmOS 6 to be based on BeOS

Version 6 of PalmOS will be built on BeOS and include .NET support. Wow. As the Reg notes, that's as big a changeover as Windows to WinNT or MacOS to OS X. Wow. Link Discuss

William Gibson rarity at The Infinite Matrix

William Gibson has donated the "blue line masters" (photographic printing proofs) from his 1996 novel "Idoru" to the fundraising auction for The Inifinite Matrix, an unspeakably swell science fiction ezine. For a $500 donation, you can own this rare collectible, sure to be worth big bucks in the coming years, and help keep Infinite Matrix afloat. Link Discuss

Toronto's BamBoo Club to close

Joey reports that the vererable BamBoo Club, a Toronto institution for live music, spoken word events, and great hybrid Jamaican cuisine, is closing tomorrow. The BamBoo weathered the great changes on the Queen St. W strip with hardly a blink, and it's hard to imagine that corner of Toronto without a BamBoo Club and its fantastic mural. If you're in Toronto tomorrow and find youself at the BamBoo, have a roti and a Red Stripe for me, OK? Link Discuss

Privatized schools sell off textbooks, force students to engage in unpaid labor

A snake-oil-selling privatized education broker called "Edison Schools" had a high-flying IPO based on its contracts to take over the operation of public schools across America. The stock-market crash has turned it cannibalistic, and it is now selling off textbooks and proposing to force students to work for free in school administration offices. Ah, the efficiencies of the private sector.
Days before classes were to begin in September, trucks arrived to take away most of the textbooks, computers, lab supplies and musical instruments the company had provided -- Edison had to sell them off for cash. Many students were left with decades-old books and no equipment.

A few weeks later, some of the company's executives moved into offices inside the schools so Edison could avoid paying the $8,750 monthly rent on its Philadelphia headquarters. They stayed only a few days, until the school board ordered them out.

As a final humiliation, Chris Whittle, the company's charismatic chief executive and founder, recently told a meeting of school principals that he'd thought up an ingenious solution to the company's financial woes: Take advantage of the free supply of child labor, and force each student to work an hour a day, presumably without pay, in the school offices.

"We could have less adult staff," Mr. Whittle reportedly said at a summit for employees and principals in Colorado Springs. "I think it's an important concept for education and economics." In a school with 600 students, he said, this unpaid work would be the equivalent of "75 adults" on salary.

Link Discuss (via Ambiguous)

Be a crooked CEO for Hallowe'en

Why go as wolfman this Hallowe'en when you could be really scary in one of these DIY disgraced-CEO masks. Pictured here: Bernard J. Ebbers, crooked chief of WorldCom. Link Discuss

Buddhist iPods -- HOAX!

The Buddha Gates monastery has ordered 1,000 custom iPods engraved with the image of the Buddha. Leander sez: "The Buddhist iPods is a great story but it's an old April Fool's joke. The original story was written by Bryan Chang and posted on "FrostyPlace" a Chinese-language IT news site, on April 1 earlier this year. The image was photoshopped using Apple's product shots and a stock image found on the Web." Link (Chinese-English translation here) Discuss (Thanks, Leander!)

Home-made news footage from Saturday's antiwar marches

The mainstream press may be downplaying the giant anti-war demonstrations that took place around the country and around the world last weekend, but net.activists made their own news. Here are videos of the march and Rob Kovic and Barbara Lee's speeches from Saturday's demonstration in San Francisco. From Ron Kovic's speech:
Never underestimate who you are! Never underestimate the power of what you represent. Your beauty and your dignity. Your honesty and your integrity. You are going to change this nation. Think about it. This is your moment. Your destiny is to change this nation.

Years from now many of you will be able to tell your children that we lived through an extraordinary turning point in American History. And we have the courage to step over that line with dignity, with non-violence and with great determination, and make this is a country that we can all love again and can all be proud of. Thank you so very much. Thank you!

Link Discuss (Thanks, Lisa!)

Hacker license plate gallery

Great gallery of nerdy license plates. Link Discuss (Thanks, Jeff!)


Mac fanatics have carved a series of amazing, "high-resolution" pumpkins on a Mac theme, including this Steve Ballmer pumpkin (don't miss Ellen Feiss, Woz, David Pogue, and the beloved happy Mac). Link Discuss (Thanks, Lawrence!)

Software archaeology reveals Chandler's roadmap

Yoz is digging into some software archaeology, exploring the characterstics of the Ur-PIM, Lotus Agenda. Mitch Kapor was the inventor of Agenda. which allowed users to enter free-form notes, such as "Call Mom on Wednesday about Neil's birthday," and would figure out what "Mom," "Neil," "Wednesday" and "Call" all meant and assign to-do items and so on accodringly. Now, Mitch is working on an app called "Chandler," an open source, non-profit PIM (personal information manager) that's being billed as an Outlook-killer, with lots of features that are reminiscent of Agenda. Yoz's history of Agenda's strengths, weaknesses and lessons learned really make me slather for Chandler. Can't wait can't wait can't wait.

Also interesting are the reviews of Agenda, which are written by reviewers who need not only to explain what makes it a good PIM, but what a PIM is. Brings me back to the heady days of new software categories, when hundreds of column-inches in Byte were devoted to explaining what a spreadsheet is and why anyone would use it. Link Discuss (via Doc)

Liverpool's "Winchester Mystery" tunnels

Liverpudlians have begun to excavate the tunnels of Joseph Williamson, a local 19th-Cen tycoon who hired thousands of men to honeycomb the city with labyrnthine tunnels that dead-end, circle back and stack atop one another (think of a subterranean Winchester Mystery House). It's unclear whether he did this because he was nuts, or because he wanted to give the laboring classes "productive" labor, or because he was remotely controlled by the Mole People (my pet theory).
"We still don't know where each one leads, and we are finding new tunnels all the time," she says.

"There is a triple-decker tunnel under the carpark here and a completely different section has just been found up the road."

Back within the barrel-shaped chamber, the tunnel twists, turns, narrows and changes level.

Smaller tunnels and chimneys head off into the darkness.

Mapping the maze has not been easy. Williamson was notoriously secretive about his creation and no contemporary plan of the whole network survives.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Kurt!)

Warren Ellis in Mindjack

Mindjack has an interview with Warren "Transmetropolitan" Ellis in the new ish:
There are moments of pure, heart stopping beauty in the most tragic and broken environments. And the loveliest community on earth will not be able to eliminate the dog turd. I have attempted to reflect this in TRANSMET: the understanding that the world can be neither perfect nor doomed. But that it can be better. And the people who get to decide if it's going to be better or not are the people who show up and raise their voices.
Link Discuss

Aging is not inevitable!

Great Washington Post overview of the spectrum of life-extension enthusiasts and businesses, from sober starvation advocates to rip-snortin', head-freezin' extropians. I love this quote from Stewart Brand, who is taking anti-aging "nurtritional supplements" called Junvenon: "This is great stuff. I'm beginning to remember the '60s,"
"Flat-Earthers" is how Ronald Klatz, 47, describes his detractors. Klatz is president of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, or A4M, an organization that boasts 11,500 practitioners in 65 countries whose official slogan is: "Aging is not inevitable! The war on aging has begun!"

"Remember 'Animal Story' by Orson Welles?" asks Klatz.

You mean "Animal Farm" by George Orwell?

"Maybe," he replies. "But it's four legs good, two legs bad."

He sees the science and medical establishments as out to get him.

"The guys in the bow ties and suspenders are right and anybody who says otherwise is wrong," he says sarcastically. He lists Science, Scientific American and the Journal of the American Medical Association as publications that "sandbagged anti-aging medicine without justification and without science. They rubber-stamped all those supposed scientists" from such noted institutions as the University of Chicago and the University of California San Francisco.

Klatz believes that within 10 years, we will begin to achieve "the technology necessary to accomplish mankind's oldest wish: practical immortality -- life-spans of 200 years and beyond," as he wrote in a recent article in the magazine the Futurist. "Humankind will evolve toward an Ageless Society, in which we all experience boundless physical and mental vitality

Link Discuss (Thanks, Alex!)

Ninth Lemony Snicket book out, and rocks

The ninth book in the "Lemony Snicket/Series of Unforntunate Events" kids-lit series is out. It's called The Carnivorous Carnival, and the folks at my corner sf bookstore called me last night when they unboxed it, and even stayed open late so that I could pick it up.

It's fantastic (yes, I read the whole thing last night -- that's why there wasn't any blogging from my corner). I'm told that there are to be ten books in the entire series, and it certainly feels like this is the penultimate installment. The nine volumes (plus one "unauthorized autobiography") of hints about the VFD, the Baudelaire parents, and the poor Baudelaire orphans' plight have reached near-critical mass, and I can almost picture the ending. Can't wait for book ten!

If you're mystified by this enthusiasm, pick up book one somewhere. It's a little $10 hardcover, delightfully illustrated and written in a witty, arch style that cracks me right the hell up. The series tells the stories of three orphans ("the Baudelaire orphans") who are dredged through one misery after another, continually jumping from frying pans into ever-hotter fires. There's a bunch of Roald Dahl in this mix, and some Clement Freud, and Kelly Link, and some Daniel Pinkwater. If you haven't turned the wee ones in your life onto these books yet, you're doing them a disservice. Link Discuss

Will Saruman be Dumbledore?

Scurrilous rumor has it that Christopher "Saruman the White" Lee will play Albus Dumbledore in future Harry Potter movies, replacing Irish great Richard Harris, who recently died. Link Discuss