Boing Boing 

3000 free trips to Toronto!

3000 free plane tickets to Toronto (RT from NYC, Montreal and Ottawa) are available from JetsGo between now and May 20. Celebrate the WHO's lifting of the SARS travel-advisory! Link Discuss

Roger Wood's latest clock

My pal Roger Wood is an amazing assemblage scupltor in Toronto who makes the wildest goddamned whimsical clocks I've ever seen. He's just got a digital camera and he's emailing pix of his new scupltures as he finishes them to his friends. Here's one made from an old trophy and a coin-drawer, standing about 3.5' tall. Roger's work makes me so happy. It's a real treat to get the clocks by mail. I think I'll post more of these as I receive 'em. Link Discuss

My new story in the current Asimov's

The June (current) ish of Asimov's has my story, "Nimby and the Dimension-Hoppers," and this time, they put my name on the cover. Just picked up a copy today -- nice surprise, the lead story is a rare gem from John freaking Varley, whose new novel, Red Thunder just blew me away -- it's the lovingest, bestest Heinlein tribute evar, with an ending that just rules. Link Discuss

Down and Out on BookFilter

Bookfilter, an Internet reading club that spun out of MeFi, has chosen my novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom for its first reading group. The discussion is continuing apace. Link (with spoilers) Discuss (Thanks, Chuck!)

Bill Gibson's hippie CBC moment

Vintage CBC clip of a young, shaggy-haired William Gibson giving Canada's newscameras a tour of Toronto's hippie Nirvana, Yorkville village, in 1967. The clip is encoded with Windows Media Player, because (some of) the CBC's web people have profound brain-damage. This means that I can't watch it. Someone tell me if it's any good. Someone convert it to an MPEG and post it? Link Discuss (Thanks, Rich!)

Copyright dweebs are crapping all over democracy. Again.

Lessig reports that the sneaky dweebs on the other side are end-running around the domestic efforts to reform the DMCA by initiating copyright treaties with Chile and Singapore that require the US to not change the DMCA. Ah, the sweet smell of subverted democracy. Link Discuss

How To Make A Telemarketer Cry

Eli the Bearded says: "Mark, a lawyer, was woken at 5:24am by an automated telemarketer. This is a detailed account of how he sued and got $500 from the telemarketer, with plenty of details to help others repeat his success." Link Discuss

EMusic vs. Apple's Music Store

Short piece explaining why EMusic is better than Apple's new music store. I agree with everything the author says here. You could argue that Apple offers new, popular music, while EMusic has back catalog and less popular stuff only. That's true, but for me, the Cheap Suit Serenaders beat Eminem any day. Link Discuss

PayPal to stop offering payment services for adult items

Lawrence sez: "Paypal is phasing out payment for adult items, including, oddly enough, those of parent company eBay. So, it's OK to auction the smut, but not to allow people to pay for the smut..."
PayPal is in the process of phasing out the sale of any goods which fall under the terms of the Mature Audiences Policy, according to the following terms. As a result, all PayPal accounts must follow these guidelines:

Intangible Goods: If you have registered through PayPal's digital adult merchant process, you may continue using PayPal to process payments until May 12, 2003. If you have not registered through PayPal's digital adult merchant process, you may not use PayPal to process payments. "Intangible Goods" includes digital adult products and services, including online photos, streaming video and phone or other audio services.

Tangible Goods: You may continue to use PayPal to send or receive payments for tangible adult products and services until June 12, 2003.

After June 12, 2003, you may not use PayPal to send or receive payments for any "adult" or "sexually oriented" material, including tangible products such as magazines, DVDs and video cassettes. This includes items sold through eBay's Mature Audiences category.

In the Discuss forum, BoingBoing reader "newton" wonders aloud if it's time for someone to launch PornPal. Link to Paypal notice.

Mobile phones hail London Cabs

Beginning next week, London cellphone users will be able to hail cabs with a new mobile service:
The location-based service comes from an outfit called Zingo, which, incidentally is owned by MBH, the company that makes London's taxis. (...)When a punter calls Zingo from their mobile, location-based technology pinpoints where they are. At the same time, global positioning satellites identify Zingo taxis in the area that are free. Then, punters are automatically connected to an available cab driver in their area before the prospective passenger tells the cabbie exactly where they are. Bingo.
Link to Register story, Discuss, (via unwired list)

Photos of elephants painting

Online photo gallery of Balinese elephants who like to paint, and snapshots of their objets d'art. Link, Discuss (via Wiley's Blog)

More eBay silliness: hidden nude self-portraiture

If the photograph were framed in some swank art gallery, they might call it Me, Sans Clothing, Reflected Obliquely in Guitar Chrome, instead of ITEM # 2527199421. Tim says: "The seller of this guitar is reflected naked in the chrome: supersize the picture on the far right to see him in all his naked glory." Update: boingBoing reader Jesse points us to what may be an earlier exploit by the same auction-flasher, archived here on Snopes. Link, Discuss Update: OK., the auction's down, but mirror is here, (thanks, Scott)

Survey: young people sick of reality TV

This doesn't bode well for Larry Namer's new network (blogged earlier this week): Nearly 70% of 13-24 year-olds are fed up with reality television programming, according to a survey released today by media research firm Bolt:
"American Idol" remains a major exception with over 91% of young viewers claiming they plan to view the next season's broadcast. "Observational" shows such as "The Osbournes" and "Competitive" shows such as "Fear Factor" appear to be declining in interest based on the previous year's viewing habits, although they are far from losing their audience completely. "Romance" Reality TV ("The Bachelorette") and "Viewer Voter" shows ("American Idol") are holding onto their audience share. Could Reality go the way of "Wild talk shows?" Perhaps. Young consumers are becoming jaded with Reality programming, with 68% of those surveyed claiming they are "getting tired with Reality TV shows" and 63% believing that there isn't much that's "real" in Reality TV.
Link, Discuss

XXX-ray spex: "Infrared Video Goggles"

For $2,400, this company will sell you what it claims are "Advanced Intellligence Full-color X-ray Vision Goggles" with the power to see through clothes -- and document what you see with an accessory that "plugs right in to any VCR or CAMCORDERS with video input for portable recording." I wonder if they'll look good with my new tinfoil beanie cap? Who cares, the website's a hoot:
"The theory behind it is simple. Under normal light, the visible and infrared lights can pass through some type of material covering an object and are reflected by the object's surface. The reflected visible light is too strong and saturated to see. Therefore the covered object surface can not be visible using naked eyes. However, if the reflected visible light is filtered out and only the reflected infrared and the required light is captured using special made sensitive cameras inside the Goggles, the covered object surface will be visible. Some materials completely blocks the naked eye from seeing through it. But with these Goggles , you can see through it. With your purchase. We will include a piece of clothing material that you can test the X-RAY effect for yourself without having to go out doors to test it in public."
Link to product website, Link to purported sample images (caution: boobies), Discuss

eBay Dada: Found poetry on feedback comment boards

Alex writes: "So, there's this person on EBay, Andy46477, who posts feedback that may be poetry, may be untreated schizophrenia, but is certainly very, very funny."
Praise: Nux VOMICA! I invoke you, BEAST! But I only do so because you are HONEST! "A++"
Praise: I'll bid on you til there's nothing left but crumbs! Then I'll bid on the crumbs
Praise: Uses only nice, ROUND numbers, like $10 and $12. NOT $73.98
Praise: You items carry HARMFUL DISEASES and VIRUSES. I think. I'm pretty sure. RARE! A+
Praise: There was NO REASON for you to call my house and yell at my children. Still, A+
Praise: I would rather be SLAUGHTERED for BEEF than forbidden to bid on your ITEMS!
Praise: A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ and how !!!!
Praise: Pornography is bad because God will kill you and eat your bones. TERIFFIC SALE!
Response by bishop2 - I have not dealt with this person. Do not understand the "feedback."
BoingBoing reader Jake says, "Certainly a funny site!!! Would VISIT again!!! AAA+++!!!!" link, Discuss

Own your own 3D Crystal ball

Unlike regular LCD monitors that fool the eye into seeing a three-dimensional image, Actuality System's new 3D display is a glass sphere that looks like a crystal ball and creates a "360-degree spatial display" viewable from any angle. Link to Gizmodo post, Discuss

Moonset, viewed from the Space Station

This NASA website offers a streaming quicktime movie of our moon setting on the horizon, as viewed from the International Space Station. The moon turns into a squashy, pink pancake as it sets, and this science primer explains why. Link to article, Link to movie, Discuss

White nights: surreal effect of artificial light in nighttime photography

Metropolis Magazine ran this interesting profile of photographer David Allee, whose work studies the "harsh but ethereal effect of artificial light on man-made environments." Story snip:
The intrusive otherworldly effect of artificial light on man-made environments is the theme of Allee's ongoing "White Nights" series. Working with a large-format Linhof Technikardan camera, he positions himself in front of apartment buildings, houses, and gardens that are bathed in the overflow of floodlights from sports and recreation facilities. Using shutter speeds of two to three minutes, Allee subjects his film to the kind of intense light that turns night into an unnatural day, producing images that seem to capture a state between times and seasons. A photograph of a floodlit picnic area behind a 1950s-style drive-in presents a Christmas pine tree before a wintry treeless background garnished with the unnaturally luminous yellow of daffodils in full bloom. It seems to be neither winter or spring, night or day.
Link, Discuss (Thanks, RCB!)

Tour of the set of the Haunted Mansion movie

First hand report of the sound-stage for the Haunted Mansion movie that's shooting now.
The next stop on our tour was the foyer/front door set. It is, with only slight deviation, exactly as pictured in the original concept sketch that was displayed at Disneyland's Disney Gallery in late 2002. A large central hallway, flanked by staircases leading to the second level, is looked down upon by a pair of sculptures located on either side of a large clock. The foyer set appears to be dark wood and is heavy, brooding and very detailed, reminiscent of the sets featured in the film "The Haunting."

We moved on to the under construction grand ballroom set with its twin curved staircases which surround a massive pipe organ (sound familiar?) A very large and functional fireplace was being installed during our visit, and one window had its draperies hung to give an idea of how they would all appear. This room, unlike the foyer, had a feeling of lightness even though it was by far the largest of the sets. Credit goes to art director John Myhre (X-Men, Ali), who most recently won the Academy Award in art direction for his work on the film "Chicago," for making a space at once both intimate and imposing.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Jeff!)

The first-ever science fiction in Business 2.0

I wrote a short-short science fiction story that appeared in the latest Business 2.0, as part of a feature that Pesco did on futuristic technology.
Rennie stood among the sculptural displays of ready-to-eats at D'Agostino's, thinking There are way funner things for a 16-year-old to do on vacation in Manhattan than go grocery shopping. But that's how it goes: Over lunch Dad had announced that he had to catch a supersonic back to California for a second lunch with clients. Come evening, Mom was so pooped from sightseeing without another adult to ride herd on Gemma, Rennie's kid sister, that she crashed at the hotel with the brat and sent him out to buy dinner.

Rennie knew exactly what he wanted: a big tube of SteakyPaste Extreme! SteakyPaste was blue and swirled with gold, tasted better than a Big Mac, and gave Rennie hard, fast twitches that demanded he burn off his energy playing Ultima Extreme! Just try finding SteakyPaste at D'Agostino's, though. The store didn't even have aisles -- it had sophisticated "food experience clusters" that made him feel 1 inch tall and a million miles from home.

He pushed purposefully past the shoppers and snatched up a blobby bag of Lynne Cheney's Special Recipe Beef Burgundy. The dandruff of smartdust around him blinked and zizzed as the motes established a connection between his personal area network and the slippery packaging, which faded to white and then began to crawl with messages:


Link Discuss

In search of Friendster parody websites

Spotted any online parodies of Friendster? I know they're out there. I'm researching an item for a large tech publication, and would love to know about 'em here.

Thousands of Los Alamos computers said missing

Noah Shachtman of Defense Tech writes:
Los Alamos National Laboratory hasn't kept track of thousands of its computers -- including ones containing classified information. The lab's own guards stole four of the machines. And employees didn't have to pay the government back when their laptops suddenly went missing. Those are just a few of the conclusions of a disturbing report (PDF) from the Department of Energy's Inspector General, who has been examining how the world's best-known nuclear lab handles its inventory of laptop and desktop PCs. The University of California operates Los Alamos on the Energy Department's behalf.

As Defense Tech readers know, Los Alamos has been involved for months in a series of scandals involving nod-off management and droopy-eyed security. This latest report offers more evidence for just how narcoleptic lab officials have been. Many laptop computers that couldn't be found were simply "written-off," without a formal inquiry. One was used for classified work, without proper approval. And 762 computers bought with government credit cards didn't receive "property numbers," which are required to track all "sensitive items" at the lab.

Link, Discuss

Smarter Schmoozing: nTag intelligent name badges

A company called nTag has developed smart plastic name badges capable of storing, displaying, and exchanging personal information about the wearer. The idea: intelligent networking that goes beyond "hello my name is" to "here are a few of my favorite memes." According to an ex-Xerox PARC friend, this isn't the first time that idea has been explored -- PARC had a similar project some years ago. But it seems to be a thoroughly-conceived commercial application. ABC News story snip:
"Inside the nTags are basic computer essentials, including 128 kilobytes of memory, a two-line display and wireless communications technology. The tags can store and display simple information -- the name and business affiliation of the wearer, for example -- that would be required at most common business conferences or other public gatherings. (...) When two attendees come within 3 to 5 feet and their nTags are facing each other, information is shared between the tags, using invisible infra-red beams of light. George Eberstadt, an nTag company co-founder, says the system uses advanced software to figure out what information to show on the tags' displays. And the algorithms aren't looking for just 'matching' information, but for topics that would hopefully 'break the ice' and generate social interaction."
Any ideas for creative, alternative, social-hacking uses? Discuss them here. Link to ABC News story, Link to nTag website, (Thanks to Steve Lassovszky, who rules.)

Bizarre public signs in Japan

The "Virtual Picture Album: Japan" is an online gallery with lots of random images of life in Japan. A few of these are really interesting, like these two amazing public signs -- one, and two, which is said to be a sign "warning park visitors to beware of weirdos". Are these common in Japan? I could use one here in Hollywood. Discuss, (Thanks again, S!) Update: BoingBoing reader "foofie" says the sign doesn't really refer to "weirdos," but rather "says beware of sexual predators or rapists more or less." Update II: ...To which Owen William replies: "no, not really rapists either. Chikan are your basic subway groper. They're not known for actually attacking and raping people, just being creepy dirty men. It's more of a nuisance, as long as you define getting pinched on the subway as only a nuisance." Still, they don't have signs like this in my 'hood...

h4Wt Couture: techno wearables from XNX

XNX Designs makes cool tech-themed couture pieces like the "18th Century Borg Queen Gown With Standing LED Collar" (center) and ladies' casual gear like the "Radioactive Dress" (far right). I want everything. Now. You can buy their stuff online, and if you're in Chicago on May 10 you can see a runway event here. Link, Discuss, (Thanks, Cowgirl!)

Urine Control / You're In Control: pee-navigated interactive game

What will those wacky Medialab kids think of next:
The You're In Control system uses computation to enhance the act of urination. Sensors in the back of a urinal detect the position of a stream of urine, enabling people to play interactive games on a screen mounted above the urinal. In an age when few people question that computers are changing social codes, You’re In Control questions how technology can both challenge and enforce social mores. On one hand, You're In Control questions a basic social code of privacy by assuming that (even simulated) public urination is acceptable if the participant is playing a computer game. On the other hand, You're In Control proposes the application of technology to positively enforce social codes of sanitation
Link, Discuss, (Thanks, Steve)

More on SMS and SARS: NPR "On The Media"

A few days ago, I was interviewed by the NPR radio show "On The Media" about a story I wrote for WIRED News on how people in Asia are using text-messaging technologies to cope with SARS. You can listen to the show here (RealAudio required), or read the transcript at later this week. Discuss

High fashion: wacky, hemp-themed wallpaper, humping-bunny fabric

Today I learned that Nest magazine runs an online shop where you can buy fabric and wallpaper in a sporty marijuana leaf motif. Well that's just splendid, isn't it. also offers a charming designer fabric for bedroom accessorizing -- the pattern is a line drawing of two bunnies doing what bunnies are known to do with one another in great frequency. See some of these products in the national Design Triennial running now at NYC's Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Link to online shop, Discuss (via Hint Magazine)

Kalashnikov rifle converted to digital music player: "AK-MP3"

This company claims to have developed a casemod for AK-47 rifles that transforms killing machines into killer digital jukeboxes. Scheduled for release this month at $500.00USD with 200+ audio books preloaded ($300 without), features include 20GB storage, re-programmable firmware that supports MP3 and WMA, 8 minute anti-shock protection, USB2, up to 10 hours playback with built-in rechargeable L-I battery and up to 18 hours with external battery box. From the product release, which I can only hope is not a hoax:
"The AK-MP3 Jukebox comes with 20GB storage capable to hold up to 9000 songs or 3000 hours of mp3 audio books. AK-MP3 player built into the body of the ammunition magazine of Kalashnikov automatic rifle. Player could be used on its own or it could be attached to the Kalashnikov machinegun instead of the ordinary magazine. Stainless steel body makes this new player uniquely suitable for outdoors. 'This is our bit for World Peace,' jokes one of the partners behind ABFF, ex-rock-star Andrey Koltakov (BONIFACIY). 'Hopefully, from now on many Militants and Terrorists will use their AK47s to listen to music and audio books. They need to chill out and take it easy.'"
Sorry, Hot Chick not included. Link, Discuss, (Thanks, John Von!)

These words taste blue: Synesthesia in SciAm

"When Matthew Blakeslee shapes hamburger patties with his hands, he experiences a vivid bitter taste in his mouth. Esmerelda Jones (a pseudonym) sees blue when she listens to the note C sharp played on the piano; other notes evoke different hues--so much so that the piano keys are actually color-coded, making it easier for her to remember and play musical scales." Scientific American explores the surreality of synthesthesia! Link Discuss