GPS will pinpoint Coke prize winners

Presently topping my list of scary/surreal commercial applications for GPS technology:
Next summer, Coca-Cola plans to use satellites to find U.S. buyers who happen to purchase special cans of Coke products. They will be winners in a giveaway that will feature Hummer H2 sport-utility vehicles. The giant vehicles will be presented in person, using satellites to locate the recipients."
Link (Thanks, tregoweth!) Read the rest

P2P Legal defense fund launches

A new project known as the "Peer-to-Peer Legal Defense Fund" was launched today by a group calling themselvers Downhill Battle. Co-founder Nicholas Reville explains:
We think the major label lawsuits are just intimidation followed by extortion: the record companies scare people with a suit for hundreds of thousands of dollars and then offer a settlement for 4 or 5 thousand. The cost of fighting is so high that even if you think you're innocent, it's cheaper to settle. (...)

The Defense Fund actually runs on a peer-to-peer model: rather than collecting the donations centrally and then later distributing them, we use PayPal accounts so that donations go directly to people that have been sued and have signed up on our system. Our open-source software tracks donations and presents the person with the least donations so far to receive the next contribution-- money gets spread out evenly over time, without a middleman. We think it's a cool system and a good political response.

We hope it will give some people the ability to fight and will help alleviate some of the financial damage to the families that have to settle, people are seriously talking about taking out second mortgages or not being able to afford college tuition. From a political standpoint, if we can take away the damage, then the lawsuit scare strategy doesn't work as well.

Link to web site, Link to related NYT story, (via pho list) Read the rest

Cramer disses Disney's MovieBeam

James Cramer's rant on Disney's new VOD venture, Operation MovieBeam:
No more devices. Sorry, I don't want still one more device attached to my television set. And I certainly don't want to pay for it. Yet, there goes Disney (DIS:NYSE) , offering Operation MovieBeam, under which you can add a device to your television that costs you money every day so you won't have to pay late fees at Blockbuster. Huh? Who thinks about this stuff? Who creates it? And at what point do companies stop dreaming about the wonders of video on demand? (...)

My prediction: There's a $100 million write-off headed Disney's way. This venture reminds me so much of those Disney ventures I was involved during the dot-com period. Everything they touched turned to stone. They had no feel for the marketplace or for what consumers wanted. It's just amazing how bad they are.

Link Read the rest

New Roger Wood clock

My friend Roger Wood's latest assemblage sculpture clock makes me homesick for a time that never was. Link Read the rest

Accenture puts Verisign in charge of US Internet voting

Remember Verisign? The incompetent crooks who have abused their monopoly over .COM and .NET, betraying the trust of every Internet user, continuing on a long history of abusing their customers and the Internet?

They've been tapped to secure the US's Internet voting technology. They were given the contract by Arthur Andersen consuluting, now using the post-felony-fraud alias Accenture Accenture (Accenture split from Arthur Andersen before the Enron scandal, thanks, Jamais!). This beggars the imagination. I'm going to be sick.

VeriSign announced Monday that it will provide key components of a system designed to let Americans abroad cast absentee votes over the Internet.

The contract was granted by consulting firm Accenture, which is working with the U.S. Department of Defense on a voting system known as the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment. When completed, the system will allow absentee military personnel and overseas Americans from eight participating states to cast their votes in the 2004 general election.

Link Read the rest

Dean campaign enlists clueful roster of net-advisors

The Dean campaign has drafted a gang of Internet advisors -- not all of whom are Dean supporters -- to help guide its use of and feedback to the Internet. The advisors include Hal Abelson, Laura Breeden, Lawrence Lessig, Bob Lucky, Dewayne Hendricks, Joi Ito, David Reed, Richard Rowe and David Weinberger. Link Read the rest

TSA-appointed "passenger advocate" in cahoots with CAPPS II contractor

Bill Scannell -- the whistle-blower who caught Jet Blue violating its own policies by handing over its customers' records to defense-contractors for a TIA-like aviation spy-program -- has caught one of the CAPPS II vendors with its hand in the cookie-jar. The TSA has appointed David S. Stempler, head of the "Air Travelers Association," to serve as the "passenger advocate" in the CAPPS II process. CAPPS II, the suspicion-generating system intended to automatically determine which passengers are likely to be guilty of crimes and hence liable to search and grounding, is supported by Cendant Corporation, a defense contractor that stands to profit if CAPPS II is enacted.

And it looks like Cendant Corportation and the "Air Travelers Association" are run by the same people.

Some "passenger advocate." No wonder he says that CAPPS II is a fine idea and "(w)hatever's going to be done will have to be done in secret".

# Stempler's 'Air Travelers Association' website reads like an infomercial for Cendant's Travelers Advantage program.

# Both Stempler's website and the site of Cendant Travelers Advantage are owned and managed by the Trilegiant Corporation, a Cendant subsidiary.

Update: more background on Cendant from George Scriban your post on Cendant's shell game with the "Air Travellers Association" caught my eye. one thing you might want to clarify -- Cendant's not a defence contractor in the Lockheed sense of the term. they're a holding company for a number of businesses in the travel and hospitality industries (like the Gallileo GDS,, Days Inn, Howard Johnsons, Budget car rentals) with interests in real estate (Century 21) and consumer fiance (Jackson Hewitt). Read the rest

Voice-Over-IP-over-WiFi phone ships from -- makers of fine Voice-Over-IP memes, software and now hardware -- have shipped a Voice-Over-IP-over-WiFi phone, called the WiSIP. Right now, it can only be used to make calls on the Free World Dialup network, but a version that works with Vonage's service is in the offing, which will play with the legacy phone-network. Link (via Gizmodo) Read the rest

Tickle Me Elmo fur coats

The PETA people are sure to get their panties in a bunch over this one: fur coats from Elmo pelts, and wall-mounted game trophies of the googly-eyed one's decapitated head. Elmo say, "owie." But don't throw blood at your monitor -- it's only the work of artist Kelly Heaton, who purchased 64 previously-owned Tickle Me Elmo dolls on eBay.

Link to photo series, Link to eBay art auction (Thanks, Tim) Read the rest

Australian 5-year-old makes bong for show-and-tell

Yes, you read that headline right. "The little girl showing how to make a bong was the most in-your-face example of drug culture among primary school students I've heard of,'' one teacher said. Link (Thanks, Richard!) Read the rest

Disney's Utopian EPCOT in an academic book

Walt Disney and the Quest for Community is a (pricey, $50) academic text on Walt's Utopian dream of building a city called EPCOT -- Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow -- on the grounds of his planned Florida theme park. EPCOT would have asked its worker-citizens to sign away their Consitutional rights in favor of a code-of-conduct specified by Walt and embodied in the Park's designs, and included plans to be electrically self-sufficient through the construction of a nuclear power-plant.

Written by a professor of Urban Planning, the book seems to have been written from the perspective of utopianism in urban design, with Walt as a kind of Bizarro-world Jane Jacobs. This is a subject that's always fascinated me -- the idea of a top-to-bottom Disney-mediated utopian community. There was a generation of Americna entrepreneurs who dreamed of these things -- Ford reportedly built planned communities in Brazil called "Fordlandia" where he subjected his rubber-plantation workers to his utopian vision (which included the banning of the local booze in favor of Tom Collinses, which were inherently Utopian in Ford's eyes).

"Mannheim does a remarkable job in detailing the Disney's revolutionary urban planning contributions that shape most of the modern world." Edward J. Blakely, Dean, Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University, New York, USA

"The book is the first to reveal Walt Disney's deep personal concern for the urban "crisis" of the time..." Gerald Gast, Associate Professor, Portland Urban Architecture Program, The University of Oregon

Link Read the rest

Eat your spectrum: Clearchannel, the restaurant

Following recent moves by ESPN and Fox Sports to add their names to restaurant chains, media behemoth Clear Channel Communications is licensing Minnesota's largest sports radio station to launch "KFAN the Restaurant." I'll have one order of monopoly meatloaf, some free speech fries, a Commons cupcake, and a side of public airwaves, julienned.
Opening in Roseville, Minn., near St. Paul, by early December, the restaurant will be the first of what may become many tied to Clear Channel properties throughout the United States, including New York City. The Minnesota restaurant is meant to piggyback on the power and reach of Clear Channel properties. In addition to 60 plasma-screen televisions, banquet space and private "skyboxes," it will offer patrons sports and music programming from Clear Channel's seven area radio stations.

In exchange, Clear Channel will receive 5 percent of the restaurant's sales, sales that are forecast to reach $10 million in the first year, said Ken Plunkett, the chief executive at Grand Management in St. Paul, which is opening the restaurant. Clear Channel has agreed to return half of that 5 percent in the form of advertising time.

Link Read the rest

Collaborative ToorCon notes

Alexander "al3x" Payne, Chris Adams and Christian Woodward took great collaborative notes at ToorCon using SubEthaEdit, a Rendezvous-enabled text-editor for OS X.
a. Introduction to Root-Fu  - What is a hacker?   + Deep knowledge: finding/writing exploits, breaking in, fixing, alluding capture   + Classical hacking: physical security, dumpster diving, social engineering, phreaking  - What is a hacker contest?   + The problem: how do you test a hacker's mettle in 2-3 days?   + Limiting script kiddy BS   + Finding/developing sploits    = Coming in with predefined sploits doesn't make a good contest; DIY sploit dev   + Teamwork    = Range of skills required to own modern, complex systems   + Integration of classical hacking    = Physical, espionage, information gathering   + Challenge of scoring   + Fast-paced game
Day One Link, Day Two Link (via Al3x) Read the rest

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).

Link Read the rest

"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." Read the rest

Web Zen: The sound of music

lo-fi mixtape audio vhs disco techno rave slave records cassettes cover versions critic emogame

web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank). Read the rest

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.
Link Read the rest

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