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New Island Chronicles dispatch -- House Hunting

Our latest dispatch is now up on the LA WEEKLY web site. Link Discuss

Teens say: Interweb kicks TV's ass

Teens and young adults ages 13 to 24 now spend more time per week on the web (16.7 hours) than they do watching TV (13.6 hours), according to a new Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited poll. Web numbers don't include e-mail, which makes the numbers even more impressive. link, Discuss (via Lost Remote)

Japanese Psychiatric Art

Surreal, retrofabulous Japanese graphic art for psychiatric drugs and psych reference manuals. Includes naked children on Rivotril holding daisy-covered umbrellas. So strange. Link. Also check out the American counterpart here. Discuss (via Geisha)

Free, Fun Fast Food Fonts

Fonts that mimic corporate fast food brands (Coke, McDonalds, Burger King, etc.) Link, Discuss (via Geisha)

Online boycott tools: is that album RIAA-affiliated?

Frank points us to RIAA Radar: "Search to see if the album you want to buy is RIAA affiliated. Works pretty good, too." Query by artists, albums, record labels, etc. Discuss

Linksys using GPLed code, not releasing modifications

Rob "WiFi high-wire" Flickenger and his band of wily WiFi sreenigne (that's reverse-engineers to you) have discovered that Linksys is using GPL'ed code in its firmware without releasing its modifications -- a major no-no.
One early problem was that of the format of their firmware updates. While the code contained within might be released under the GPL, Linksys is under no obligation to release the details of this file format. And yes, I asked them directly, but to date have gotten no reply.

No matter, with the help of many interested people around the globe, we have been able to decipher the (relatively simple) firmware file format, and even make a little utility that will generate a valid firmware for you. (Note that it's really easy to kill your AP with "bad" firmware, but that's another story altogether...)

Now that we are able to execute arbitrary commands on the WRT54G, it is obvious that Linksys is running modified software covered by the GPL. One perfect example of this is Zebra, the advanced dynamic routing software package. By opening the firmware file directly, as well as by making queries through the makeshift ping interface mentioned earlier, we noticed that the zebra running on the WRT54G doesn't use the standard configuration file locations. This means that it must certainly be a modified binary.

Update: Rob sez, "I might have spoken too soon. I have been gently reminded that it is possible (in fact, trivial) to change config file locations without modifying the source. It also turns out that they are releasing some changes, but there is still some question about kernel modifications. I've posted an update on my original blog." Link Discuss (via /.)

New tech tools for discriminatory pricing

This BusinessWeek article explores how technology will make it easier for companies to "customize" pricing for goods and services:
Why do corporations want your personal data? The simple answer, according to Andrew Odlyzko, the director of the University of Minnesota's Digital Technology Center, is that such information is the key to a holy grail of capitalism: discriminatory pricing. Economic theory posits that price discrimination -- where companies charge individuals based on their ability to pay and their value as a customer -- is desirable since it makes trade more efficient. Yet it rankles consumers, who perceive differential pricing as unfair. The fact that business travelers, whose corporations can arguably afford it, pay more for airline seats than a vacationer has made air travel more popular and routine. At the same time, the price discrimination that charges two people different prices for the same class of service infuriates those who pay more.

In a paper to be presented at the Fifth Annual Conference on E-Commerce this fall, Odlyzko, a Bell Labs researcher for 26 years, doesn't argue for or against discriminatory pricing. He focuses on how technology can bring it to new levels of sophistication and prevalence.

Link to Odlyzko's paper, Link to BW story, Discuss, (Thanks, ESC)

BB readers' discount for Stanford Singularity con

Boing Boing readers can attend the Accelerating Change Conference at Stanford this September 12-14 at a five percent discount:
Special early bird extension: Save $100 (25%) on conference admission until August 4th, for Accelerating Change Conference 2003, Stanford University, September 12-14. PLUS: BoingBoing readers will receive an additional 5% discount by using the discount code "ACC2003-BoingBoing" (no quotations).

The Accelerating Change Conference will be a forum to explore the paradise of resources, as well as the risks and responsibilities, represented by cascading breakthroughs in computational technologies. Ray Kurzweil, K. Eric Drexler, Steve Jurvetson, Tim O'Reilly, William H. Calvin, Howard Bloom, Robert Wright, and 17 other world-class minds will present to 300 attendees.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Tyler)

Best American Science Writing 2003

Wired News reviews Best American Science Writing 2003, the latest installment in a brilliant, must-read series. This year's edition is edited by Oliver "Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat" Sacks, and promises to be fantastic.
An omnivore, yet selective, a sort of filter-feeder, I will extract intellectual nutrients from the articles as I extract nutrients from my dinner," Sacks writes in the introduction. "Every so often, however, I am arrested by an article because it contains not just new information but a highly individual point of view, a personal perspective, a voice that compels my interest, raising what would otherwise be a report or a review to the level of an essay marked by clarity, individuality, and beauty of writing..."

"Crows and their cousins in the corvid family, ravens, jays and magpies, have spent hundreds of thousands of years taking advantage of our inventions," Nijhuis writes. "They've been known to perform pitch-perfect imitations of explosions, revving motorcycles and flushing urinals."

The crow population in and around Seattle has increased tenfold over the last two decades, encouraged by a growing food supply as the area's human population has grown. University of Washington wildlife biologist John Marzluff has moved his studies to the suburbs to glean lessons from counting crows.

Link Discuss

40h fuel-cell laptop by 2005

NEC is promising to ship a laptop fuel-cell capable of running for 40h within two years. Link Discuss (via Gizmodo)

Whacky air-races in London this Sunday

This Sunday, in London's Hyde Park, Red Bull will host a competition to loft person-powered flying sculptures -- free admission. Link Discuss

ISPs strike back: Pac Bell Internet arm sues RIAA

From today's NYT:
A California-based Internet service provider jumped into the contentious music-downloading fray late Wednesday, filing a lawsuit against the recording industry and questioning the constitutionality of the industry's effort to track down online music sharers. Pacific Bell Internet Services, based in San Francisco, is seeking a declaration that the subpoenas served against it by the Recording Industry Association of America are overly broad in scope and should have been issued from a California district court, not the District of Columbia. The complaint also seeks a jury trial to have the constitutional issues addressed.
Link, Discuss

Nicotinis: liquid butts

The Nicotini is a tobacco-infused beverage served at a trendy Miami nightclub that's had its smoking-section shut down by antismoking laws.
Call it a liquid cigarette because this drink comes complete with the nicotine rush and tobacco aftertaste found in a pack of Camels. These tobacco-spiked martinis are being served up for die-hard smokers who don't want to leave their barstools and go outside to light up.
Link Discuss (via FARK)

Marriott agrees non-free WiFi is too expensive

Tobias sez, "Marriot is going to start giving away free wireless to get people interested, as you suggested earlier it makes more sense than forcing stupid pay schemes and scratch off cards that drive everyone nuts."
Marriott International Inc. (NYSE:MAR - news) will roll out free high-speed Internet access at a number of midrange hotels in the next year and a half, but guests at many top hotels will still have to pay, the company said on Tuesday.
Hrm -- I love this dynamic about hotels: the cheaper the hotel, the less likely it is that they'll screw you on telecommunications. Link Discuss (Thanks, Tobias!)

Nailed by the RIAA? Blog it!

My friend Raffi Krikorian is setting up a group-blog for running accounts of people hwo've been subpoenaed by the RIAA:
how did you find out you were on the list? did your isp turn you over or did your school protect you? what are you planning on doing now? talk about it all and let people know what is happening. help others that are finding themselves in a similar jam, and let the rest of us know the effects of what's going on.
Link Discuss

Bedwetting cure?

A researcher in Australia claims that he can cure most childhood bedwetting with simple therapy that improves nighttime respiration.
Mahony says that of the kids referred to him at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney because of bed-wetting problems, eight out of 10 have a narrow palate. In these cases, orthodontic devices similar to a brace can be used to widen the palate.

A Swedish study found that seven out of 10 children who had all failed to respond to other treatments for bed-wetting improved within one month of using such a device, with four completely stopping wetting their beds. Another small British study found bed-wetting stopped in 10 out of 10 children given these devices.

Link Discuss

Disposable digicams

Chalk one up for cheap art and ubiquitous insta-media. From this week's edition of Michael Tchong's Trendsetter newsletter:
This year, digital cameras (digicams) will outsell conventional cameras, 12.8 million to 12.1 million, excluding disposable, one-time-use cameras. That’s a big exclusion because sales of disposable cameras will reach 214 million this year, up from 198 million in 2002. This week marks the introduction of the first disposable, two-megapixel digicam by San Francisco-based Pure Digital Technologies, which will be sold under the Dakota Digital brand through Ritz Camera for $11. While the Dakota sacrifices an LCD screen, which research says is the No. 1 reason people buy digicams, it’s clear that the fate of film is written on the wall. Kodak announced this week it would slash 6,000 jobs this year due to slow film sales.
Image Link to large product shot, Discuss

P2P politics: Travis Kalanick of Scour, Redswoosh runs for CA governor

Travis Kalanick, co-founder of now-defunct P2P network and CEO of, wants to become the next governor of California -- running on what could be described as the "P2P" or "youth media" platform.

Sources close to the project say 26-year-old Kalanick plans to raise campaign funds online, and campaign compadres will include Angelo Sotira of and File Front. The gubernatorial hopeful filed initial papers in Norwalk, CA Tuesday at the county clerk's office, and will be listed as an Independent. To get on the ballot and formally become a candidate, Kalanick now needs at least 65 legitimate signatures from voters also registered as Independent, plus $3500. Platform positions have yet to be announced, but reportedly may involve P2P filesharing freedom, education, and taxation the economy.

Travis Kalanick for Governor Homepage, Discuss

Qu'est-ce que un BLOG?

BoingBoing pal Jean-Luc in Paris has assembled an online dictionary of 502 French terms relating to the francophone blogosphere. Link, Discuss

ABIT's Fritz-chip keeps the RIAA off your hard-drive

ABIT's new motherboard includes hardware crypto support -- presumably as part of participation in Trusted Computing/Palladium? -- (thanks, Wes!) and they're touting its benefits as a tool for keeping the RIAA out of your hard-drive.
For MAX3, the ABIT Engineers listened to users who were asking for information security. SecureIDE connects to your IDE hard disk and has a special decoder; without a special key, your hard disk cannot be opened by anyone. Thus hackers and would be information thieves cannot access your hard disk, even if they remove it from your PC. Protect your privacy and keep anyone from snooping into your information. Lock down your hard disk, not with a password, but with encryption. A password can be cracked by software in a few hours. ABIT's SecureIDE will keep government supercomputers busy for weeks and will keep the RIAA away from your Kazaa files.
Link Discuss (via Inquirer UK)

Onion infographic tackles RIAA lawsuits

This week's Onion infographic asks the musical question, "How are music fans responding to the RIAA lawsuits." Link Discuss

Briefing the court on Fuck

On the Smoking Gun, a legal petition to dismiss charges against a student who called his Vice Principal a "fucking fag" on the grounds that neither word is that bad, with elaborate etymological research in support of the position. Link Discuss (via K5)

Self-modifying hardware via distributed genetic algorithms

Sexy new distcomp project aims to evolve self-correcting hardware designs using genetic algorithms. Welcome to the non-human-readable future! We should build GAs into every compiler, just to optimize code in a way that makes it really futuristic.
Host an island with a population of circuits struggling for survival in a hostile online world. During your PCs idle time individuals from this population will evolve through a process of survival of the meekest into circuits with Built-In Self-Test (BIST) and will compete with those hosted on other PCs by migrating to and from them. These circuits will not obey conventional design rules since evolution finds efficient solutions no matter how complex to understand they are - just like it did with our own bodies and brains. You can join into this cluster in one minute by installing the client found at here. Check up on how your population is doing compared to others here and name your best creations if they enter the "better than human" hall of fame.

Self-Diagnosing Hardware is capable of detecting deviations from its normal behaviour due to faults. Self-Diagnosis is important especially in mission critical systems exposed to radiation. Built-In Self-Test (BIST) is widely used yet commonly requires more than 100% overhead or off-line testing. However the latter is unsuitable in mission critical systems such as a nuclear power station controller where we must diagnose failure immediately. In the last 40 years of BIST research, spawned by the NASA aerospace program, conventional design has not come up with a significant improvement to the voting system as an on-line BIST solution. A voting system with two copies of the module being diagnosed is capable of detecting faults by comparing the outputs of the copies. This requires 100% redundancy for the extra module plus more logic for the voter.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Miguel!)

SF vacancies according to Craigslist

The folks at Craigslist produce a chart showing the trends in apartment listings in the Bay Area. That's a nice, healthy curve right there -- especially from a tenant's point of view. Link Discuss (via evHead)

Illegal Art interview videos now online

Lisa Rein is making a film about the Illegal Art Exhibit that just finished up here in San Francisco this month. She's started posting footage from this work in progress by bits and pieces:
"To start things off, here's an interview with Laura Splan, who's a local artist here in San Francisco that just got picked up for the San Francisco leg of the show (and will be staying with the show as it moves on to Philadelphia in September.) Laura created pillows of prescription pills. She's one of the local artists that got picked up by the tour here in San Francisco and her work will be included in the exhibit Here's Laura explaining why she feels she should be able to create art however she wants to."
Link, Discuss

RIAA will take 2191.78 years to sue everyone

Silly but technically considered piece in the Inquirer (UK) today in which a reader calculates the money and time it would likely take for the RIAA to actually sue all P2P fileswappers:
She said: "I pulled out my calculator to see just how long it would take the RIAA to sue all 60 million P2P music file traders at a rate of 75 a day. 60,000,000/75 = 800,000 days to subpoena each person or 800,000 days/365 days in a year = 2191.78 years to subpoena each person". Michaela points out that it's unrealistic to suppose that the RIAA will have any money left in 2191 years, and she even wonders whether the trade association will exist then. Plus, she points out, given the rate of tech advancement, it's likely that we'll have moved on to many different types of music media in even a hundred years.
Sharman Networks (Kazaa) lobbyist Philip Corwin in DC more soberly observes, "I would venture that the RIAA strategy is based on the assumption that most of those sued will fold quickly and settle given the extraordinarily disproportionate statutory penalties that can be claimed under copyright law ($30 million for the two copyrights on each of 100 song files worth $99 retail). However, if the attorneys for the sued drag out the proceeding with motions and novel defenses (much less countersuits) the cumulative costs of prosecuting the suits could quickly drain the coffers of even a wealthy trade association."
Link, Discuss (via pho)

Flat sinks

Justin waxes eloquent about Kohler's sexy, outre and somewhat impractical new line of plumbing fixtures:
I think of a sink and I see an indent, a depression, some concave pocket in a surface that is designed to receive water and hold it for a time. Kohler has removed the bowl from the sink - there's nowhere to catch the flow. Water simply passes out from the wall, falls against a flat surface and trickles into a surrounding moat.

The sink was round and they've proven it flat. They removed soaking from the function of this sink, but when's the last time I soaked something in a sink? Actually, they do have some facility for soaking with the Purist™ Wet Surface Lavatory (K-2313) - they sell an optional Purist Hand Basin for $160.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Justin!)

Tech docs hall of weird

Darren has started a site for collecting weird and goofy tech documentation warnings. Link Discuss

EFF Freedom Fest, San Francisco, August 9

EFF's first annual Freedom Fest is coming up on Saturday, August 9th, from noon to 5PM in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This is a giant, free, outdoor concert with loads of interesting speakers and all the gratis fun you can eat.
* Box Set, the clown princes of folk rock
* Noelle Hampton, award-winning rock diva
* Austin Willacy, rock, pop and soul crooner
* Colin McGrath, singer, strummer, arranger
* Lasana Bandele, the "Storitela" from Jamaica
Link Discuss

Speaking at BayCHI, Palo Alto, August 12th

I'm giving a talk on civil liberties and the Web at BayCHI on August 12th, at PARC in Palo Alto. Hope to see you there!
From deep-linking (the right to give someone directions) to DRM (the right to be treated like a customer, not a criminal), civil liberties are inexorably entwined with the web. Increasingly, legal mandates are in the offing to force you to design and deploy technology that restricts what you and your users may do. Find out where these proposals are at, where they're going, and what you can do about them.
Link Discuss