Countdown to NYE Times Square QTVR pano!

Happy New Year, everyone! Jim Galvin of "Virtual Tour of NYC" says:

Hi Xeni, Jook Leung who shot this QTVR of Times Square last year will be in TS again tonight and I anticipate that he will have another stunning QTVR completed and up on the web by 4 or 5 am. I don't have a URL yet but I'm sure that panoramas.dk will have it first.

Update: Leung does it again: a magnificent panorama of NYE*NYC*TS*04, with sound, right here (cropped thumbnail at left).

Naked Barbie walks free

John Parres points us to an interesting chunk of copyright news:
Court rules on Naked Barbie: We know art when we see it

An artist's use of the iconic Barbie doll in photographs depicting the Mattel toy without clothing and being assaulted by kitchen appliances is protected as "free speech" says a US Circuit Court. Upholding a decision by a lower court, the court of appeals said the works are obvious parodies and do not infringe on the company's copyright and trademark protection. Mattel had claimed people might think they were responsible for the caricatures and that their availability to the public could damage the brand and even hurt sales. At issue was a 78 image series by Utah artist Thomas Forsythe, shot in 1999 and titled "Food Chain Barbie."

Once widely available online, the series has been the subject of intense legal action by Mattel and only a few images remain available for download. In the latest ruling, a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld an August 2001 ruling by US District Judge Ronald Lew. Following that earlier decision, which Mattel appealed, Mr Forsythe's attorney, Simon Frankel, told the press, "The ruling doesn't mean it's open season (to exploit products by) Mattel, it means there is a certain amount of breathing room for artists who want to use a commercial symbol that has tremendous cultural meaning, for purposes of artistic expression."

Link

Photoblogging/phonecamblogging services: watch the terms and conditions...

BoingBoing reader Cassandra Fleetwood asks:
Do you know of a site to post photos where one still retains ownership of their photos? I noticed this is not the case for Textamerica (see excerpt from their Terms and Conditions below).

From Textamerica Terms and Conditions
"12. All images and comments posted on Textamerica.com, regardless of the source or content, immediately shall become the exclusive property of Liberation Management LLC. By posting images and text on Textamerica.com, you are representing that you are the owner of such images/text and thereby assign to Liberation Management LLC any ownership interests you have in the images/text, including your copyrights. By posting images or comments on Textamerica.com, you further agree that Liberation Management LLC shall have the right to use your images/text for any purpose without compensation to you and shall not be responsible to you for unauthorized copying of the images/text."

Link, and thoughts / suggestions from other BoingBoing readers welcome via our submission form.

Update: Textamerica responds by removing the phrase "All images and comments posted on Textamerica.com, regardless of the source or content, immediately shall become the exclusive property of Liberation Management LLC" from the service terms and conditions. The moral of this blog-post? With this or any online service, read the site terms and conditions carefully, and be aware that, as Textamerica's site states, "[They] may change from time to time." .

Nihon Break Kogyo

BoingBoing reader Dav says:
JapanToday has an article about an unlikely hit pop song. The song is the official song for a demolition company, composed and performed by one of the workers. After it was picked up and played on a TV show, the company began getting so many calls that they started to sell recordings of it. I usually don't suggest links to my own blog, but in this case I haven't found a better link, since I've collected the english translation of the lyrics and the link to the original Japan Today article together. I've been looking around for an MP3 to no avail. I figure a post about the song on BB might help in that search :)
The sound is, like, really fast drum-n-bass mashed up with a bad TV show theme. Link

update: Oliver Schnarchendorf says, "This site contains a flash animation containing the construction company song."

Jim Spurrier says, "This link contains the mp3 file for the Japanese NBK construction theme song. I don't know how stable the site is, but it oughta hold long enough for you to d/l the thing before the boing-dotting commences."

Hardware Openness Factor

BoingBoing reader Owen Williams points us to:
.... a short article asking reviewers of hardware devices to add a score to their reviews: the openness factor. For instance, when I buy this mp3 player, what will it let me do, and how am I restricted? I've come up with a simple 4-point scale of openness from crippled products that subvert standards to lock you in (remember DivX?), to complete freedom (palmOS or modern hardware).
Link

Fray: Tell your holiday story!

Derek Powazek says:
Come read Fray's special holiday story by Beth Lisick: Kathy's Annual Ladies Luncheon. It's about her family's annual Christmas gathering, and how it went very, very wrong one year. Have you just had a harrowing holiday? Tell your story!
Link

Blogger Chris Allbritton heads back to Iraq

BoingBoing reader Clive says:
Chris Allbritton was the first truly blog-created journalist -- a former Associated Press guy who raised $13,000 in donations from the audience of his blog Back To Iraq, to pay for a reporting trip to Iraq during the war. With no editors to please, he was able to cover whatever stories he and his audience wanted. Now his readers have asked him to do another trip -- so he's started another fundraising drive. If you want to support truly independent war reporting, drop by his site and throw some change in his Paypal jar.
Link

Bang the Machine - Computer Gaming Art and Artifacts

BoingBoing reader Alex Steffen points us to a new exhibition opening in January at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Jan 17–Apr 4, 2004:
In conjunction with the Stanford Humanities Laboratory and the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, the Center presents an exhibition that addresses the pervasive influence of video game culture. The program explores a variety of subject areas, from the evolution of the game and its roots in military training applications to its contemporary features and cross-fertilization with artistic endeavors. Among the anticipated projects included in the exhibition are: an interactive lemon tree-powered hand held games by acclaimed artist and graphic designer, Amy Franceschini; renderings of historic events in the isometric perspective of video games by John Haddock; and a curated show in a virtual Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in The Sims Online created by Katherine Isbister/Rainey Straus. Also on display is an interactive video game created by the youth from YBCA's education program, Young Artists at Work. An exhibition plug-in by KOP, Game Commons, will accompany the exhibition.
Link

Update: BoingBoing reader Seth claims the exhibition's title is a case of unfair name-poaching:

Just a bitchy complaint to say that the title of this art exhibition poaches directly the name of a preexisting documentary film on Street Fighter videogame players (which was at SXSW, Sundance, etc. about 2 years ago). The film's producer (my friend Peter Kang) has been inundated by emails and calls asking whether the film (understandably very popular with gamers at festivals, but not yet in full release due to music licensing issues, and therefore more tantalizingly difficult to see) is playing at this show, to which it has no connection at all.

The Center seems to have poached the name. Even among hardcore players given to obscurantism and inbred slang, this phrase is (or was, pre-documentary) totally obscure. The festival organizers ignored totally repeated attempts by Peter (who ran the fabulously successful boutique design co. Kioken, and is too nice/busy to think about really pushing them, though he is understandably really upset- he's got a very expensive property which they're obfuscating) to at least clarify the situation, before finally responding to say "We came up with it on our own" (???- seems uncontroversially a reference to *something*) and "it refers to pinball". The "pinball" followup at least makes the "we came up with it on our own" sound remotely plausible, though in fact those answers (from the same person) are simply mutually exclusive. Further "pinball" is a pretty implausible inspiration for a naming a show that has no connection whatsoever to pinball. Like most arts center people trying to stay on top of the ever-cresting wave of cool, they probably asked someone whom they adjudged "hip", who coughed up the last sexy-sounding game-related phrase they'd heard. And even if they had somehow come upon this themselves, it doesn't seem really to matter- there's still the copyright stemming from the creation of a known property. I guess being an arts center means you're free to give actual artists the finger?

Kirk! Sings! Again!

According to a NY Post article, referenced in this CBC.ca article, William Shatner will soon release a new album -- produced by Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five fame. Guests are said to include country star Brad Paisley and former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins, whose performances have also been described from time to time as examples of "either impassioned intensity or pompous overacting."
The new album isn't the first foray into recording for the Montreal-born actor best known for playing James T. Kirk, the captain of the starship Enterprise on the original Star Trek series. In 1968, Shatner released his first album The Transformed Man, which includes spoken-word cover versions of the Beatles' Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man. Although Shatner intended The Transformed Man to be taken seriously, it's become something of a camp classic. The Hip Surgery Music Guide, an internet guide that celebrates offbeat musical genres, says the songs can be taken as examples of "either impassioned intensity or pompous overacting."
Link (via pho)

Get your hot live naked anonymous moblog photos right here, folks

Jason Calacanis, founder of Venture Reporter, Silicon Alley Reporter, Weblogs Inc., etc., blogs thusly:
Phil [Kaplan] (aka PUD) of FuckedCompany.com fame has started an anonymous moblogging project. Basically you send your photo to pics@mobog.com and a minute later they are on his site ready for users to make comments on them.
Jeff Jarvis calls it anonymous instant photophone moblogging, a phrase which is giving me a heavy wallop of jargon vertigo right about now.

Mobile carriers brace for New Year's textstravaganza

Telecom providers in Australia, Japan, and Europe are bracing for a bumper crop of text-messaged new year's greetings:
Mobile phone companies are bolstering networks in anticipation of a record 35 million text messages New Year's Eve revellers will send tonight. The figure would surpass the record estimated 29 million text messages on Christmas Day. With many texters in places where it will be hard to hear a phone ring, never mind hold a phone conversation, some are predicting the volume of text messages could eclipse voice calls for the first time. A Telstra spokesman said that on Christmas Day customers made 15 million voice calls and sent 11.8 million text messages. Virgin, which has the smallest, but youngest and most text-mad customer base, expects to carry about 4 million messages on New Year's Eve - an average of 10 texts per customer.
Link

John Perry Barlow now has a blog

Right here: Link.

Art: Eric White

(via Wiley's blog)

Hoder on Bam earthquake and Iran's goverment

Hossein Derakshan, a native of Tehran who now resides in Canada, posted this today on his English-language blog -- "When people have different needs than the state." Snip:
Nothing could ever show the real sense of diconnectivity and distrust between Iranian people and the Islamic regime, and its deeply dysfunctionality better than a devastating quake. Everywhere you go and every blog you read, there is talk about the political implications of such tragedy going on.

People inside and outside Iran are desperately trying to gather donations, but they don't want to give the money to the government. They'd rather give the aids directly to the International organizations or trusted NGOs and persons in Iran whom they are sure have nothing to do with the regime and its institutions. For instance, Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel laureate has stepped in and announced measures to directly gather people's aids. This amount of distrust and disconnectedness has never been see before.

However, the reason is pretty clear: When a government can run the whole country only by the oil and gas income, it doesn't have to answer its people's needs; it only thinks about its own needs. (In 2004, Iran will have $16 billion revenue from oil export, while it only depends on approximately 18% of citizen's taxes.)

Link

FBI warns of terrorists toting copies of Old Farmers' Almanac

My country grows stranger by the day. The elderly Italian lady who lives next door to me annotates her almanac to keep track of which moon phases bode best for planting, thinning, or harvesting fresh back yard arugula. Suspicious ways? She's definitely attempting to maximize the likelihood of operational success through careful planning. If the taste of the fresh, shared greens she drops off on my doorstep in brown paper bags are any proof -- it's working.
The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists may use almanacs "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning." It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways. "The practice of researching potential targets is consistent with known methods of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations that seek to maximize the likelihood of operational success through careful planning," the FBI wrote.

Link (Thanks, David!)