Boing Boing 

Anti-advertising to out iPod's dirty secret

iPod's Dirty Secret is a three-minute movie made by an iPod owner to protest the fact that Apple won't replace his 18-month-old iPod's dead battery. He's engaged in a one-man guerrilla anti-advertising campaign to stencil a warning over Apple's street posters promoting iPod.

As commenters on Dan Gillmor's blog have pointed out, Apple can replace your iPod battery for $99, and there are third-party service options as well. 6.9MB Quicktime Link (via Dan Gillmor)

Lessig: Towns should own their fiber

Lessig has an op-ed in this month's Wired explaining why towns should own the fiber in their soil.
The answer, as Cornell economist Alan McAdams argues, has nothing to do with Karl Marx and everything to do with basic economics. AFNs are natural monopolies. That doesn't mean that there can be only one, but rather that if there is one, then it is far cheaper to simply add customers to the one than to build another. The electricity grid in a local neighborhood is a good example of a natural monopoly. Sure, we could run four wires to every home, but do we really need four electricity companies serving every home?

Most economists would leap from the premise of a natural monopoly to the conclusion that such a monopoly must be regulated. But regulation is not the end that McAdams seeks. Ownership is. If a traditional network provider owned an AFN in a particular area, that network provider, acting rationally, would charge customers a monopoly price, or restrict service to get its monopoly benefit. But if the customer owned the network, then the customer could get the same access at a much lower price and be free of use restrictions. McAdams is pushing - and Burlington and other cities are actually deploying - customer-owned AFNs.


Rude cross-stitching

Subversive Cross-stitch: rude and snarky cross-stitch patterns to amaze and delight. Link (via Making Light)

Vivendi burning library to the ground

Vivendi has announced that it's flushing all the music it hosts at down the toilet:
...they're not selling the archive, containing more than a million songs by 250,000 artists. As of December 3rd, they're destroying it.
Link (Thanks, Proclus!)

Tech Bloom

Alex Steffen has written an op-ed describing the new give-it-away-for-free tech ethos:
The conventional wisdom, during the Tech Boom, was that what drove innovation was the lure of giant piles of cash. That idea now rubs shoulders with the Berlin Wall. What makes creative people tingle are interesting problems, the chance to impress their friends and caffeine. Freed from the pursuit of paper millions, geeks are doing what geeks, by nature, really want to be doing: making cool stuff.

Not just making it, but giving it away. Saying the Tech Bloom is not commercially driven is like saying Mother Teresa had an interest in the poor.

Which may be why the media haven't quite gotten the magnitude of what's happening here: It's not about investments. If the Tech Boom had a graven image, it was the bull on Wall Street. The Tech Bloom is more likely to be found dancing around the desert at Burning Man, the annual festival where money is taboo, everything's a gift and creative participation is synonymous with cool.

Link (Thanks, Alex!)

Gary Baseman's Happy Idiot show in NYC

Good interview with artist Gary Baseman (creator of Disney's Teacher's Pet). He's got a new showing of his paintings at the Earl McGrath Gallery in NYC.
Even working with Disney— it’s been really great, but I had to basically give away an organ. Coming from illustration, I usually get to maintain the rights to my art. With Teacher’s Pet, I had to sell them the rights to the characters. My art is still my art, but those characters are their property now. If I ever use them, I ask their permission to do so.
Link(thanks, Scott!)

Psychic TV 3.0 to play in NYC!

The latest incarnation of seminal industrial/electronica band Psychic TV will play on Devember 5 in New York City. PTV3 features Boing Boing co-conspirator Douglas Rushkoff on keyboard. Don't miss this rare appearance by the pandrogynous Genesis Breyer P-Orridge sporting his newly-installed breast implants. Link

Robot in the Sky! (almost)

Seiko Epson Corp. showed off their flying micro-robot at this week's International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo. EE Times reports that ultrasonic wristwatch motors keep the 8.9 grab machine airborne. It's also outfitted with Bluetooth and several microsensors including a gyro and camera. Right now though, battery weight keeps it tethered to its power supply. (The photo is from Yahoo! News.) Link (Thanks, Gabe!)

The Zombie Within

Good L.A. Weekly profile of Caltech professor of computation and neural systems, Christoff Koch.
As we sit in Koch’s office, he offers to reveal to me a small portion of my own zombie self. For a moment I am seized by visions of a nasty chemical cocktail, my mind turned to mush, my body rendered into a helpless puppet, but instead of reaching for a syringe, Koch turns on his computer. He brings up an image of an airplane on a runway and tells me that when he presses a key some major feature will disappear. I am to tell him what it is. Koch jabs at the keyboard and the image flashes momentarily, but as far as I can tell everything remains the same. He does it again, several times, but still I see nothing different. Finally Koch tells me it is the aircraft’s fuselage that disappears. Once it’s pointed out, the omission becomes glaringly evident.

Ferberizing my baby

I wrote a journal entry at TheFeature about training my baby daughter to fall asleep on her own, using the "Ferber" method. It really works!
We decided to 'ferberize' [Jane]. Dr. Richard Ferber is a child sleep specialist who has a come up with a method to train babies to go to sleep on their own, and help them sleep through the night. Basically, it works like this: at bedtime, you kiss your baby and set her in the crib and walk out. She'll holler bloody murder, but you have to stay out of the room for five minutes. Then you can come back in and pat the baby on the back and reassure her that you haven't packed up and moved to Estonia without her. Then you leave the room again and wait 10 minutes, then 15, then 20. She'll eventually fall asleep, according to the good doctor.
UPDATE: Here's the correct link: Link

Here Come the Media Phones

Here's a piece I wrote for TheFeature called "Here Come the Media Phones."
It's too early to make the claim that most people don't want handhelds that play live audio and video and offer interactive multimedia services and entertainment. The lack of interest might be a classic example of the chicken-or-egg syndrome. Are customers staying away from premium services because they don't like the services being offered? Or have carriers and manufacturers been afraid to invest the money it takes to create compelling media phones and media services when the customers don't seem to want them?

Web Zen: Music Video Zen

i've seen things
floral dance
elephant yeah!
space monkey
del gazeebo
web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

Kevin Werbach on why good isn't good enough for mobile devices

In The Feature this week, Kevin Werbach explores how small improvements in small devices can mean big results:
Last month, I bought a Treo 600, the new PalmOS smartphone. I'm still marveling over one aspect: its size. When I took the Treo out of the box, it looked half as big as its predecessor, the Treo 300. The first comment of most people who see it is, "Wow, that's tiny for a smartphone!" When I actually put the current and prior Treo models side-by-side, however, I was in for a shock. The Treo 600 is slightly narrower, but it's also taller, thicker, and heavier. In other words, essentially the same size. The many small industrial design changes make a world of subjective difference.

I use this example not because I'm enthralled with my new toy (though I admit I am), but because of what it suggests for the mobile world. Subtle improvements can have huge consequences. The same is true when it comes to functionality. A torrent of incremental advances are now producing converged devices that are "good enough" at each of their primary functions. This will have significant consequences for both device manufacturers and operators.


A Twist on Tele-robotics: Today at noon PST!

Boing Boing pal Ken Goldberg of UC Berkeley invites us back to play another round of Tele-Twister, the telepresence-based version of the classic party game. The mad professor says:
"Left foot red? Right hand green? In the newly redesigned Java-based variation of the classic '60s party game, users join forces with others online to direct the movements of live humans on the playing board. The game tests leadership ability as users try to influence group dynamics and out-strategize the opposing team. Players are ranked continuously using a new scoring metric (link to PDF paper) based on clustering and user response times. Live games run from 12-1pm Pacific Time on Fridays." Link

Freenet's Ian Clarke on latest threat to P2P -- from within.

Ian Clarke, who recently relocated from LA to Edinburgh, Scotland, says, "I just threw together an article on what may be the latest threat to P2P, and this one comes from within the industry." Snip:
Altnet, the company most responsible for the proliferation of spyware, recently acquired a patent which allows easy identification of files on a P2P network. In the words of Derek Broes, Altnet's executive vice president of worldwide operations, Altnet will "...focus on protecting and commercializing our patented technology and realizing the potential it offers content owners by commercializing peer-to-peer networks". Just another day in the world of little-league software companies you think. Not so.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this picture. The so-called "Truenames" patent, filed in 1997, is little-more than a marketspeak-friendly name slapped on a decades old and widely known technique in computer science called "hashing". A hashing algorithm takes a file, and produces a "signature" for that file, a short set of letters and numbers that, for any two identical files, will always be the same. This technique has often been used to detect identical files, or to verify the integrity of software downloaded over the Internet. Clearly, it requires very little imagination to suppose that hashing might also prove useful when verifying the integrity of files on a P2P network.

This, of course, puts Mr Broes' quote in a somewhat sinister new light. In a classic example of P.R "doublespeak", what he refers to as protection, most would see as an anti-competitive offensive, and what he refers to as commercialization, most would refer to as extortion. Yes, the implication of recent public statements from Altnet is that they plan to use their government granted monopoly on an obvious idea to force other P2P companies, through threat of litigation, into cooperating with whatever scheme they are cooking up.


Overuse of copyright is its downfall

Interesting Legal Times article argues that the assertion of copyright where none exists and other abuses of copyright are the real cause behind the public's sharing-is-OK attitude as evidenced by the file-sharing networks.
Owning a copy is not the same as owning a copyright. Yet publishers routinely require their own authors who want to use reproductions of old diaries, maps, photographs, or other images long out of copyright to obtain a license from a library, museum, or other owner of a physical copy. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, many authors find this requirement too much trouble and just omit the image.

...many academic authors have faced the uphill battle of persuading their own publisher to let them include excerpts from the copyrighted works of others. Fair use is meant to allow and encourage such conversations among authors. However, publishers routinely edit out fairly used materials and require their authors to indemnify them against any claims for infringement.

32K PDF Link (via Interesting People)

Conference calls: excuse for nudity and websurfing

An international survey reveals that nudity and inattention are astonishingly common among particpants in conference callls:
So what are they doing instead? Twenty-nine percent of British workers say they doodle, while 22 percent of Germans surf the web. Twenty percent of Americans say they have side conversations with someone else during conference calls.

It gets weirder: 22 percent of Hong Kong workers admit they weren't fully dressed during their last teleconference, while 14 percent of them were doing their makeup or hair.

Link (via FARK)

Order-5 Magic Cube discovered

A Magic Cube is a three dimensional Magic Square: a 3D grid in which the numbers in all the rows, columns and diagonals total up to the same number. The very first order-5 Magic Cube (previously suspected to be impossible) has been discovered. Link (Thanks, Johannes!)

Images from the Victorian Internet

Amazing B3TA photoshop challenge: graphics from the "Victorian Internet." Lovely, witty steampunkery to be found here.

Funnily enough, I just (finally!) read Tom Standage's wonderful book, The Victorian Internet on an airplane yesterday. Standage's account of the rise of the telegraph worldwide vividly brings to life the personalities and the mania that brought the first global communications system into being, and draws fascinating parallels to the Internet boom, and the promises raised, fulfilled and betrayed therein. Link (via The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century)

U of C grad students' online health-care preservation campaign

Grad students at the University of Chicago are attempting to shame the administration into reversing its plans to substantially undermine health insurance there. They're soliciting health-care horror stories from U of C grad-students to help them make their case. Link

E Coli DNA used to assemble nanoscale transistors

Israeli scientists have successfully coaxed DNA into acting as an assembler for nanoscale transistors.
Braun's team began their manufacturing process by coating a central part of a long DNA molecule with proteins from an E. coli bacterium. Next, graphite nanotubes coated with antibodies were added, which bound onto the protein.

After this, a solution of silver ions was added. The ions chemically attach to the phosphate backbone of the DNA, but only where no protein has attached. Aldehyde then reduces the ions to silver metal, forming the foundation of a conducting wire.


Kenyan minibus strike ends

Kenya's minibus drivers -- who provide the primary form of transportation for commuters -- have ended their two-day strike over a government mandate requiring them to put seatbelts in their vehicles.

There's something strange happening in Kenya. At the Broadcast Treaty meeting at WIPO this month, the Kenyan delegate revealed that his country has recently outlawed taking photos of the pictures on your television set; when we cornered him on this, he said that he couldn't answer out questions without first consulting with the representative of the US National Association of Broadcasters, who appears to be in charge of shaping Kenyan IP policy. Link

Disney films kicking a$$, despite "piracy"

Disney's annual financials reveal that the company is making giant truckloads of money off of its movies, despite a couple of recent flops (and losing money on its themeparks). Funnily enough, this comes at a time when Disney is, along with Fox and other MPAA members, winning the Broadcast Flag fight by claiming that infringing Internet distribution of movies is bad for business, so much so that they need to be put in charge of all PC technology in order to ensure that "anti-piracy" tools are in place throughout every box. Link

Kyrgyzstani grave-robbers supplying museums with corpse-chunks

A Kyrgyzstani MP alleges that the Kyrgyz mafia has been exporting tons of human corpses and corpse-chunks to museum curators and artists.
But Tashtanbekov, who spearheaded the hearing, said on Wednesday that he intended to keep up his campaign to uncover what he claims is a "mafia operation" that he says has exported 35 tons of bodies and body parts in the last six years.
Link (via Fark)

Skinny people win eating contests

PopSci uses a biology lesson to explain why skinny guys always win eating contests.
Kobayashi's regimen includes shrinking his gut by jogging for hours, then distending it by chugging gallons of water. He regularly feasts on giant meals of low-fat, high-fiber foods like cabbage, which stay in the stomach longer before breaking down. (By the way, the world record for cabbage consumption is 6 pounds, 9 ounces, in 9 minutes, held by American Thomas Hardy.) And he keeps trim: A skinny man's stomach has little fat to push against it and fight the food for space.

Way being paved for petaflop computing

Cray and Sun are working on radical new operating systems and programming environments for the coming petaflop supercomputers.
Zima said the new language will help software developers exploit both parallel programming techniques and the locality of data in a large clustered system. The language will hide details of the underlying CPU but expose specifics about the communications technology used in the high-end cluster. It will also support today's message-passing interface (MPI) and global-address-space programming models, he added.
Link (via Hack the Planet

Collaborative object-sexing

This object-sexer is a hot-or-not site that asks you to express your feelings about the probable gender of inanimate objects (these tins of soup are considered "male" by 61.4% of respondents).

To quote Ken Campbell's astonishing Wol Wontok (an annotated translation of pieces of Macbeth into South Seas Island pidgin, and my kingdom for a decent link for this), "You know that [linguistic] organization where things are masculine, feminine or neuter, and ridiculously so in German, so you might say, 'Where is the turnip?' and the reply might be, 'She is in the kitchen.' And then you say, 'Where is the young English maiden?' and the reply would be, 'It has gone to the opera.' Nutty!" Link (via Geisha Asobi)

Funeral interrupted by corpse's cellphone

A Belgian funeral service was interrupted when the corpse's cellphone started ringing from inside the coffin.
The night before the funeral, the family gathered at the undertakers for a final private farewell, when they heard the sound of his cellphone ringing from within the sealed coffin. Several distressed members of the family had to leave the funeral home whilst staff rushed to remove the cell phone.
Link (via Gizmodo)

Lowcarbing preciptates American bread crisis

American breadmakers have called a summit to discuss strategies for coping with the plummeting sales of carbo-rich bread in an Atkins-ascendant America.
Consumption of bread plummeted in America in the past year with an estimated 40 per cent of Americans eating less than in 2002. The US bread industry is to hold a crisis "bread summit" tomorrow to discuss measures to curb falling sales. In Britain, the Federation of Bakers launched a promotional campaign last month to counter the Atkins effect. British Bread month was advertised with the slogan "Use your loaf, have another slice."
Link (Thanks, Brian!)

I Heart Nerds Pin

I must have this right now. Link