Boing Boing 

Fanimatrix: stunning Matrix fan-film

I'm at the ToorCon infosec after-party at DachB0den labs, and they've just screened a stunning Matrix fan-film called The Fanimatrix, which had a roomful of hackers enraptured.
"The Fanimatrix" is a fan-made, zero-budget short film set within the Matrix universe, specifically shortly before the discovery of "The One" (i.e. the first "Matrix" feature film). It tells the story of two rebels - Dante and Medusa - and of their fateful mission onto the virtual reality prison world that is The Matrix.

The film was shot on the Sony Mini-Digital Video format and edited on a PC editing suite utilizing Adobe Premiere, After FX and AlamDV Special FX. The entire production was completed over nine nights, ranging from six to over fifteen hour shoots, not including rehearsal and blocking-tape-shooting sessions. Most of the props, sets and lighting equipment was borrowed and locations were either hired or shot guerilla style. Although the film was a "zero budget" production, the final cost of the movie (combining personal expenses of cast and crew such as investment into costumes, transport costs, food etc) has reached upto approximately $1000 NZ (or $400-$600 US). The movie was shot entirely within Auckland City, New Zealand (our home).


"Greatest living writer" Neal Pollack launches punk rock tour

Neal Pollack -- blogger, author, chutzpah-filled media prankster, and Suicide Girl -- tops even the zaniest of his previous stunts by embarking on a nationwide book/rock tour to pimp his latest literary and musical releases:
Now I'm going on the road, thanks largely to the generous donations I received from readers of this website, and I won't disappoint. Yes, I'm out to sell and promote my groundbreaking rock novel, Never Mind The Pollacks, currently the 66,410th most popular book in the country, and the accompanying soundtrack from my band, The Neal Pollack Invasion. Reviews of both can be found here. So, yes, I'm selling, because I'm the Willy Loman of literature. Attention must be paid. But I have other purposes as well.
Link. Tour starts today. Don't miss that soundtrack, which includes the timeless ballad "I Wipe My Ass on Your Novel."

Web Zen: The sound of music

lo-fi mixtape
audio vhs
rave slave
cover versions

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

New tech tools change definitions of comas, consciousness

New York Times story about technologies for studying human consciousness -- and the impact of new research on both medical ethics and practical policy. Recently, one group of neurology researchers proposed a new definition, "the minimally conscious state." With it, they point to the possibility that many coma victims who've been diagnosed as vegetative might in fact have mental activity that was previously undetectable.
As the tape of his sister's voice played, several distinct clusters of neurons in Rios's brain had fired in a manner virtually identical to that of a healthy subject. Some clusters that became active were those known to help process spoken language, others to recall memories. Was Rios recognizing his sister's voice, remembering her? ''You couldn't tell the difference between these parts of his brain and the brain of one of my graduate students,'' says Hirsch, an expert in brain imaging at Columbia University. Even the visual centers of Rios's brain had come alive, despite the fact that his eyes were covered. It was as if his sister's words awakened his mind's eye.

P2P United plans announcements tomorrow

The recently-formed Peer-to-Peer filesharing trade association "P2P United", together with CxOs of larger P2P software developers, are expected to announce tomorrow the adoption of a "File-Sharing Industry Code of Conduct" at a gathering in Washington, DC. They're also expected to demand Congressional action to work out differences between the file-sharing public and the recording/film industries, and to halt the RIAA lawsuits. Link

Two new Lisa Rein songs online

Lisa Rein has posted two more of her original songs to her site: Hiding and It's Alright. Both very good, both under a Creative Commons license. Link

Internet's builders and vandals

In his current Sunday column, Dan Gillmor's written a very good piece on the good guys and bad guys of the Internet, and the ways in which the Internet constitutes a microcosm of the forces of constructivism and vandalism:
But pure malevolence fills some souls, and the Internet is their toxic playground. One creep found a security flaw in the software powering the site and exploited it. This person posted programming code inside a comment form -- some HTML that took users to an unaffiliated Web page containing one of the most disgusting photographs I've ever seen.

The site came down temporarily but quickly, thanks to users who alerted us. The offending post has been removed, thanks to a sharp-eyed programmer who let us know what had happened. The hole is being permanently repaired, thanks to the free software's developer, who hadn't foreseen this misuse.

We'd surely seen the downside of the Net. But in the response of people who helped us find, analyze and fix the problem, we'd also seen the profound upside.


Oxford geneticist says males are doomed to extinction

Bryan Sykes, a professor of human genetics at Oxford University, says that because the Y chromosome doesn't mix with other genes, and is therefore unable to heal itself from genetic wounds, men will eventually become extinct.
Seven percent of men are infertile or sub-fertile and in roughly a quarter of cases the problem is traceable to new Y chromosome mutations, not present in their fathers, which disable one or other of the few remaining genes. This is an astonishingly high figure, and there is no reason to think things will improve in the future -- quite the reverse in fact. One by one, Y chromosomes will disappear, eliminated by the relentless onslaught of irreparable mutation, until only one is left. When that chromosome finally succumbs, men will become extinct.
Brian Carnell says: "a recent study demonstrated that the Y chromosome does have the ability to repair genetic damage to itself through a rather unique method." Link

Volumetric video rendering: time is the third dimension

Video can be thought of as having three dimensions -- length, width and time. When you envision video with the third dimension transposed into depth, you get a volumentric picture of a moving image. Dan Kaminsky, a packet-obsessed crypto guy, has been monkeying with volumetric ways of visualizing the randomness -- the entropy -- in sets, and along the way, he's started visualizing other kinds of information. This is (some of) the output. By the way, volumetric visualization of code turns out to look like latticework, in proof of William Gibson's prescience. Link

ToorCon photos

I'm posting my photos the ToorCon infosec conference to a gallery linked below. Pictured here, Pablos and the Hackerbot, a WiFi-sniffing, password cracking sarcastic robot that hunts down WiFi users and shows their their passwords on a screen. I'll be updating the photos once or twice more over the weekend, so check back later. Link

Feds snooping on Scotch distilleries for fear of chemical weapons conversions

US Intelligence is closely monitoring Scotch whisky distilleries on the off-chance that they will be converted to chemical weapons factories.
For it has been revealed that Ursula, a spy with the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency - "Our mission to safeguard the US and its allies from weapons of mass destruction" - has been monitoring the island distillery.

Apparently, it takes just a "tweak" - her words - in the process of making whisky and Bruichladdich could be churning out chemical weapons.

Link (Thanks, Will!)

TCP over bongo-drum

Students at Algoma University have implemented a TCP transmission over bongo-drums.
Eight weeks later, the first public demonstration was given to the class by using a simple ping packet. With a blinding 2bps speed, the class sat patiently as the packet was received in roughly 140 seconds.
Link (via /.)

Schneier's keynote at ToorCon

Here is my impressionistic transcript of Bruce Schneier's keynote, "Following the Money, or Why Security has so Little to do with Security" from the ToorCon infosec conference in San Diego.
* We want to get the most security for the least trade-off

* Determine the acceptable risk-level

* Figure out the trade-offs


We have no choice but to accept some residual risk. "No terrorism is acceptable" in nonsense: there IS an amount of rat-droppings that are acceptable in your breakfast cereal. Some risk is inherent in everything. We've decided that 40k auto deaths/year is OK. In the end, there's an amt of danger that we are willing to accept.


Cringely's keynote at ToorCon

Here is my impressionistic transcript of Robert Cringley's keynote, "I Have Seen the Future and We Are It: The Past, Present and Future of Information Security" from the ToorCon infosec conference in San Diego.
I built, by hand, the first 25 Apple ][s, worked on the Lisa's GUI. I invented the Trashcan Icon.

I had spent the summer of 1979 working for the Fed, debugging 3-Mile Island (I'd been a physicist). Then I wrote a book about it on a 300-baud modem terminal connected to an IBM mainframe using a line-editor. I hit the wrong key one night and trashed 70K words. Hell, Lawrence of Arabia lost a handwritten ms for a 350k-word manuscript.

When I went to work on the Lisa, I was determined that deleting a file would be a two-step process. On some systems, the trashcan bulges (defies physics); on others, the lid goes off (defies my mother). In my version, a fly circled the trashcan. The focus groups thought it was fuckin' awesome. But by turning off the fly, the computer could be made to run twice as fast. They fired me.


Haunted Mansion book really doesn't suck!

Earlier this month, I predicted that a new book called The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies would suck -- it was packaged for 9-12 year-olds, and I thought it would likely be a brochure disguised as a book, targetted at kids.

I was so wrong. This is a really loving, thorough, adult history of the Haunted Mansion, an appredciation by someone who is clearly a dedicated fan of the ride and who has spent an enviable amount of time talking to some of the principals involved and digging through the Disney archives (the archival material reproduced in the book is stunning, and includes a lot of stuff that I've never seen in a lifetime of Mansion fandom). I'm enjoying the hell out of it. I take it all back. This does not suck. Link

BeardCon comes to the US

The World Beard and Moustache Championships are coming to Carson City, Nevada on Nov 1 -- this'll be the first BeardCon on US soil in over a decade! Maybe the first EVAR! Link (via Geisha Asobi)

Doug Rushkoff's new book available as PDF

Douglas Rushkoff's new book, Open Source Democracy, was commissioned by Demos, "an independent UK think tank with a strong interest in democratic renewal and emergent political systems. We think that Douglas Rushkoff is one of the most interesting thinkers on the new forms of social interaction that have grown up around the internet. And, as he argues in his new book, these networked, decentralised forms of communication have a lot to tell us about political organisation." Link

India to ban cover-versions of music

Universal Music Group is pressuring the Indian Parliament to revise Indian copyright to make cover versions (without permission) illegal:
[...W]hen the soundtrack to a new film is released (by far the most popular genre of music in India), the demand for it is immense and the record labels have virtual carte blanche to sell it at any price they wish. However, starting in the 1970s and 80s, enterprising music distributors released cheap cover versions of popular songs (some of which were not covers but outright pirate versions) and significantly expanded the existing market by making music accessible to people who could never afford it before.

In this lobbying campaign, the music industry has also not hesitated to make some rather far-out arguments which tend to appeal to the religious right (which dominates the multi-party ruling coalition in India). These are along the lines of how song remixes are evil and mixing "pure" Indian music with music from other cultures is distasteful and further evidence of how our culture is polluted by American music, etc.


Google File System paper

Three of Google's scientists have written a paper on the Google File System, the file-system custom-designed for Google's server-farm.
First, component failures are the norm rather than the exception. The file system consists of hundreds or even thousands of storage machines built from inexpensive commodity parts and is accessed by a comparable number of client machines. The quantity and quality of the components virtually guarantee that some are not functional at any given time and some will not recover from their current failures. We have seen problems caused by application bugs, operating system bugs, human errors, and the failures of disks, memory, connectors, networking, and power supplies. Therefore, constant monitoring, error detection, fault tolerance, and automatic recovery must be integral to the system.
272K PDF Link (via Hack the Planet)

Fox News posts home phone for CNN's Tucker Carlson on web site

CNN's Tucker Carlson says he was besieged by angry and threatening phone calls last night, when unknown persons at rival network Faux Fox posted his home telephone number on
Carlson, who hosts CNN's "Crossfire," said on Friday that earlier in the week he jokingly announced what he claimed was his telephone number during an episode of his show, which he co-hosts with Democratic strategists Paul Begala and James Carville, along with conservative columnist Robert Novak. In fact, the number Carlson gave out connected callers to a switchboard at Fox News.

According to Carlson, an unknown person or persons at Fox retaliated by posting Carlson's actual home telephone number on the Fox Web site. Carlson said hundreds of angry phone calls were made to his home, including threatening calls. Carlson's wife and four young children were at home at the time the calls were made. Carlson and Carville on Friday excoriated Fox for the reverse prank, which Carville said "scared young children to death," unnecessarily.

Link to Boston Globe story, Link to FOX News story which previously listed Carlson's home number and has since been altered to list CNN's Washington bureau number instead. (note: if you search for the story name in Google, Carlson's home phone still shows up as the story title for this item).

@Stake employee fired after criticizing MSFT: Download the report

An @Stake employee has been fired from his gig at the security company after co-authoring a report that was critical of Microsoft. His company does a lot of business with Microsoft. A lot of people are drawing the obvious inference. Dan Gillmor is urging his readers to download and link to the report in question: 879 PDF Link (via Dan Gillmor)

Electronic voting machines: WE WON!

Remember last week when EFF asked IEEE members to write to their organization to get it to rein in a broken standards process that was threatening to unleash corruptable voting-machines onto unsuspecting democracies?

Well, we won! After all the hue and cry over the problems with the proposed standard, the committee has voted no-confidence in the proposal, sending electronic voting-machines back to the drawing board.

This is pretty cool -- chalk one up for the Internet, and for democracy. Thanks, folks.

The IEEE standard will now go back to its drafting committee, Project 1583, which holds its next meeting in Austin, Texas, in October. Once finalized, the U.S. and other governments worldwide will likely adopt the IEEE electronic voting standard, since IEEE sits on a technical advisory board established by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Philandering Fillipino Feds snitched out by SMS

Filipinos are being encouraged to send SMSes to a special snitch-line if they spot electred officials treating their mistresses on the public nickel.
"Report-a-mistress is not an attack against mistresses," said Congress representative Kim Lokin.

"We are just looking here at the corruption aspect," Ms Lokin told a local radio station.

"It is not right for an official to use public funds to sustain his questionable lifestyle."

Link (via Smart Mobs)

Truck with a LOT of corn

Amazing photo of a Somali truck laden with a really large amount of corn. Link (via Kottke)

Digital jewelry

In Q104, Nokia plans to release a line of digital jewelry that features a little screen for displaying photos you upload via infrared (by phonecam or PDA). The device allows you to store and display up to eight different images. Bev, who pointed us to this item, imagines aloud, "I won't wear a photo of someone's face around my neck but i'd wear pictures of patterns or something that can act like a jewel."

Feature list, from the Nokia website: "Wearable steel-framed display; Choker in two styles: steel chain or matte rubber; You choose the images; One touch reveals a timepiece; Color screen: 4096 colors, 96 x 96 pixels; Controls to browse and delete images."


Flask-shaped PDA

The Bar Master is a $30, flask-shaped PDA that stores drinks-recipes. Link (via Atrios)

Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day -- Shut up!

Atrios has adopted "Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day" on his blog. Looks more bilious than "Talk Like a Pirate Day," but possibly also more spleenfully fun. Shut up!
It's this kind of talk that's getting our troops killed. I may have to make an exception to my unwavering opposition to the death penalty just for you.
Link (via Electrolite)

Queer As Folk meets Dr Who

The creator of Queer As Folk is writing a new Dr Who TV series for BBC.
Although Davies says he wants to "introduce the character to a modern audience", Lorraine Heggessey, the controller of BBC1, insisted yesterday that she did not expect a gay Doctor Who.
Link (via NTK)

Joel on Software's Bionic Office

Joel of Joel-on-Software has just finished custom-building the new offices for his software company. Being a coder himself, he set out to design a non-cube-farm office, optimized for actually coding in.
1. Private offices with doors that close were absolutely required and not open to negotiation.

2. Programmers need lots of power outlets. They should be able to plug new gizmos in at desk height without crawling on the floor.

3. We need to be able to rewire any data lines (phone, LAN, cable TV, alarms, etc.) easily without opening any walls, ever.

4. It should be possible to do pair programming.

5. When you're working with a monitor all day, you need to rest your eyes by looking at something far away, so monitors should not be up against walls.

Link (Thanks, Zed!)

Funnybook ads

Amazing gallery of vintage funnybook ads. Link (via MeFi)