Boing Boing 

Car Talk dumps Real for WMP

The guys who run Car Talk on NPR have dumped RealMedia in favor of Windows Media Player, having gotten fed up with Real's deceptive practices that try to force you into downloading the payware version of their player.
Here's the problem. In order to hear our audio, you have to go to and download their "free" RealPlayer. But when you get to the web site, the free player is harder to find than Osama Bin Laden at night. And the site seems to do everything it possibly can to get you to "buy" a player instead. You have to work very hard to get the free player. And we think that stinks. And get this. It stinks so much that it even makes Microsoft look good by comparison. That's something, huh?
Link (via /.)

Typepad and iPhoto united with Atom

Atom is a powerful, open, RSS-like syndication format, but so far, not a lot has been done with it. Now, Deez Steeles has used Atom to ship an iPhoto-to-Typepad tool that directly exports pictures that are retouched, selected and organized in Apple's iPhoto to Movable Type's Typepad blogging service. That's pretty sweet.
I'm digging the new Atom API interface to typepad. I have just completed a prototype of an iPhoto2Typepad interface. That means that its now possible to select photos in iPhoto and directly export into a Typepad Photo Album. This is basically my Holy Grail of digital photo convenience. Now the same program we use to import, and organise our pictures can send them right to Typep
Link (via Dive Into Mark)

Product-placement film

A Negativland-produced indie film coming to the San Francisco Indie festival features nothing but product-placement shots from other movies.
Steve Seid, Video Curator for Pacific Film Archive and Peter Conheim of Negativland present a finely tuned montage of egregious product placement shots, drawing on 70 films - removing the gratuitous and unnecessary plots and leaving behind just the exhilarating core of consumerism.
Link (Thanks, Steve!)

Juarez killers: five untouchable drug-lords?

An investigative journalist is publishing a book alleging that five untouchable rich narco-gangsters are responsible for the murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez.
'Mexican federal authorities have conducted investigations, which reveal who the killers are,' she claims. 'Five men from Juarez and one from Tijuana who get together and kill women in what can only be described as blood sport. Some of those involved are prominent men with important political connections - untouchables.'

The chosen victims are so young, explains Washington, to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Underlings supply new victims: 'They capture the girls and bring them to their masters.'

Washington alleges at least 100 women have been killed by these men, of whom all but one are multi-millionaires. They have political connections going all the way to President Vicente Fox, and some have allegedly made contributions to Fox's presidential campaign. They have ties to the Juarez Cartel, and have used their drug wealth to build respectable businesses.

Link (Thanks, Zed!)

Mobile interface myths

Twelve myths about mobile interface design:
Myth: Users want power and aesthetics. Features are everything.
Myth: What we really need is a Swiss army knife.
Myth: 3G is here!
Myth: Focus groups and other traditional market analysis tools are the best way to determine user needs.
Myth: If it works in Silicon Valley, it will work anywhere.
Myth: The killer app will be games, er, no, I mean, horoscopes, or
Myth: Mobile devices will essentially be phones, organizers, or combinations, with maybe music/video added on.
Myth: The industry is converging on a UI standard.
Myth: Highly usable systems are just around the corner.
Myth: One underlying operating system will dominate.
Myth: Mobile devices will be free-or nearly free.
Myth: Advanced data-oriented services are just around the corner.
My only modification: for "Silicon Valley," substitute, "Silicon Valley, Japan or Finland." Link

We Like Dyke ad runs in Daily Telegraph

An ad calling for the return of BBC-director Greg Dyke, paid for and signed by hundreds of BBC staffers, ran in the Daily Telegraph today.
"Greg Dyke stood for brave, independent and rigorous BBC journalism that was fearless in its search for the truth. We are resolute that the BBC should not step back from its determination to investigate the facts in pursuit of the truth," the ad reads. "Through his passion and integrity, Greg Dyke inspired us to make programmes of the highest quality and creativity. We are dismayed by Greg's departure, but we are determined to maintain his achievements and his vision for an independent organisation that serves the public above all else."
Link (via Plasticbag)

Rules for living

This is a great collection of aphorisms by which you would be well-served if you were to build your life around them.
Yeah, I know Sid Vicious wore a lock on a chain around his neck just like that. But the first time you try and pogo with that thing on it's gonna chip a tooth, Road Warrior.

Now that you've climbed up there, it's a lot higher than it looks, isn't it? Dumbass.

The Renaissance Faire may not be the source of all your problems, but it sure as shit isn't helping any.

You're probably doing something that bugs the next guy twice as much. Clam up and get on with your life.

Link (via AccordionGuy)

Secret, personal weblog of slain CNN employee Duraid Isa Mohammed

A BoingBoing reader who wishes to remain anonymous points us to the personal weblog of slain CNN employee Duraid Isa Mohammed. Duraid died earlier this week along with fellow CNN employee Yasser Khatab, when the vehicle they were traveling in came under fire from Iraqi insurgents. The weblog, titled "Memories of a war torn heart: Sometimes I feel like screaming", was started just one week before Duraid was killed.

The following poem, "Risks" -- printed in English and signed "anonymous" -- was found in Duraid's personal car in Baghdad. The nature of the poem is similar to other material on his short-lived blog. It is presumed that Duraid did not author the poem, but that the handwriting was his (a quick Google search turns up the same poem on various "inspirational quotes" webpages throughout the 'Net).

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams, before a crowd Is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is To risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing dies nothing, Has nothing and is nothing.
They say they avoid suffering and sorrow, But they cannot learn, Feel, change, grow, love, feel.
Chained by their attitudes, they are slaves.
They have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
-- Anonymous
Duraid's blog does not bear his full name; each entry is signed "Mr. D.," and one post states, "I work as a journalist now with a big corporation, I was a basketballer in college, I was a DJ in my Baghdad, a war-torn town by now." The blog includes lyric quotes from Poison and Bon Jovi, and mentions that its author was permitted to travel with the military. This link to a related CNN story mentions also that Duraid was a DJ before the war. The BoingBoing reader who brings this story to our attention shares further information (and asks that it not be repeated here) which leads me to believe that the blog is in fact Duraid's.

Radiohead's Thom Yorke on BBC and Hutton Report

In today's Guardian, an op-ed by Thom Yorke:
Lord Hutton's damning report of the BBC is a whitewash. The result will create fear at the Today programme, where there should be pride. As so many times before, they were there with a story that nobody else would touch. And I still cannot see why Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke have had to resign. It flies in the face of reality, ripping all evidence to shreds.

This is a theatre of the absurd. It has left everybody I know shaking their heads in disbelief and anger. Such a performance should make us all deeply nervous about the future of Britain. While Blair wishes to draw a line under the whole episode, I hope this doesn't happen. Sometimes a story will end up being told, no matter how many times they try to close the book


Justice for the murdered women of Juarez?

More than 250 women been murdered in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico, in the past decade, with hardly any official notice. The Mexican government has long ignored the problem, but has finally taken the small step of appointing a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of it.
Many of the women killed in Ciudad Juarez - across the border from the US city of El Paso in Texas - over the past 10 years were factory workers snatched while travelling to and from their jobs.

Most had been brutally sexually assaulted and tortured before their deaths.

There have been several arrests - but most cases were allegedly based on forced confessions and only one man has been convicted, for one of the killings.


Update: The V-Day organization is planning a memorial march on Juarez for Valentine's Day -- just a short hop from San Diego if you're coming down for ETCON

Orkut = Roach Motel?

Meaning, you can check in, but you can't check out.

After exploring Orkut for about a week, sniffing around, and learning more about the turn-ons and sexual habits of various remote professional acquaintances than I ever in a million years wanted to know, I decided I'd like to delete my account. But unllike other popular social networking services like Friendster, the app UI does not allow you to delete your account. I noodled through the help contents for a bit, and learned that the only way to resign from the realm of orkut is to email a request to with your first and last name. I did so eight hours ago and haven't seen a reply; not holding my breath for one, given the fact that Orkut is likely a small, overwhelmed operation with zero admin resources.

I realize the site is still in a very early state. But come ON. I've worked on large-scale public web projects before, and no matter what label you use to excuse the incomplete nature of a service -- alpha, beta, whateva-- not allowing users to opt out of participation as easily as they initiated it in the first place just seems irresponsible. If it's not ready for the public, don't release it to the public. Orkut's Roach Motel syndrome, combined with the onerous TOS terms danah and others have pointed out, leave me feeling kind of icky where this particular service is concerned.

Donate winning iTunes/Pepsi codes to benefit indie artists

TuneRecycler uses unwanted Pepsi/iTunes Store winning codes and spends them on indie bands available through the iTunes Music Store.
"When you buy major label music on iTunes," Wilson explained, "the musician usually gets nothing, because they're in perpetual debt to their label until they sell more than 500,000 CDs. And at best they only get 8-14 cents on a $1.00 song. We want to get some of Pepsi's money going to actual musicians, not just record label CEOs and RIAA lawyers."

DDR for weight-loss

Dance Dance Revolution is a viable form of geek exercise.
I started playing Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) at the age of 17 with the very first version that was released to the United States, DDR Version 1.5. The first time I saw the game was at Gameworks arcade in Seattle, where tons of people were crowded around the DDR machine to watch different players dance. At this time, I was a senior in high school and weighed about 235 lbs. Four and a half years later, I now weigh close to 140 lbs and I would've never guessed how much that trip (OR a video game) would affect me with my health/weight, and in growing to be a better, more self-confident person.
Link (via Kottke)

When spam-filters attack

What's worse than spam and virii? Overzealous spam- and virii-filters:
It's always a joy to watch prissy corporate mail filters twitch their lace curtains and bounce back NTK when they spot a phrase they don't like. This week they refused to deliver NTK because we used the word "dyke". As in Greg Dyke. (Admittedly, the completely justified use of "butt" and "wanker" elsewhere might not have helped our case.)

Not as bad as one UK firm's IT department, which is currently binning any incoming email with "hello" or "Hi" in the subject line. "These are common header descriptions of the e-mails containing the [MyDoom] virus", they say. I'll go out on a limb here and suggest they're also common header descriptions of the e-mails not containing it, too.


More non-evil social network ideas

Here's some bloody good ideas about social networks from Quinn.
i've long wanted to be able to search my friend's brains, which is the kind of social networking that matters. there's no technical reason i can't, just no one has built me the app. i still haven't figured out the solution to the socially awkward "actually, you're not my friend, why are you saying you are?" problem, which is why i quit orkut. but maybe you can raise the value of the app so that people will put up with that, and maybe its ok to say "actually i share some pretty intimate stuff, so my circle is kind of tight." as a reply- i don't know. the point is, people will put up with problems in proportion to the value they derive from a system. right now orkut and friendster and the like are mostly fun for people that really enjoy filling out webforms and uploading pictures of themselves. and maybe as dating sites, but as i don't really date i don't know. for useful social networking being in my social network has to mean more than being out of it.

The value of endangered languages

A great interview with linguist Alexandra Aikhenvald, in New Scientist:
"If these so-called "exotic" languages die, we'll be left with just one world view. This won't be very interesting, and we'll have lost a vast amount of information about human nature and how people perceive the world. (...) [W]ithout their language and its structure, people are rootless. In recording it you are also getting down the stories and folklore. If those are lost a huge part of a people's history goes. These stories often have a common root that speaks of a real event, not just a myth. For example, every Amazonian society ever studied has a legend about a great flood.

"...In English I can tell my son: "Today I talked to Adrian", and he won't ask: "How do you know you talked to Adrian?" But in some languages, including Tariana, you always have to put a little suffix onto your verb saying how you know something - we call it "evidentiality". I would have to say: "I talked to Adrian, non-visual," if we had talked on the phone. And if my son told someone else, he would say: "She talked to Adrian, visual, reported." In that language, if you don't say how you know things, they think you are a liar. This is a very nice and useful tool. Imagine if, in the argument about weapons of mass destruction, people had had to say how they knew about whatever they said. That would have saved us quite a lot of breath..."

Link (via diepunyhumans)

First corporate sponsorship for an MMORPG guild

The Syndicate is the largest guild in MMORPG-space, and it has just acquired a corporate sponsor.
To celebrate this sponsorship, The Syndicate and Thunderbox are offering a number of special deals for gamers. As gamers, we make sure we have a machine that will let us play the games we want, but we dont always buy the 'cool' addons preferring instead to add more RAM or buy another game. Now you can get alot of those extreme-addons (from PC Skins, to Custom Lighting to a complete Extreme kit) for your PC for free as part of celebrating this groundbreaking event in gaming history. Online Gaming is loaded with guilds many of whom claim to be the best but who are solely focused on themselves. The Syndicate has consistently led the pack in all areas it participates in, paid its dues as a guild, and earned its place as a lead guild in the gaming world. However, during its 8 years of existance, it has maintained its focus on having fun and in making the online community a better place. We hope this sponsorship will be another way we can add value to the gaming community and we look forward to many more years of online gaming with all of you.

Robolympics call for entries

Robotics Society of America president David Calkins says:
Only one month left to register for ROBOlympics! You've still got two months left to get ready for the event, but only one month to register to compete. This is the first robot event where all major types of robot competitions will be held at the same time. And of course, you can compete in several events - you're not just limited to one. Also: Tickets go on sale Friday (today)!

Totalitarian trusted computing

From Greg Costikan, a humourful, totalitarian vision of hardware as it might be.
Troubleshooter: How much is two plus two?
PDC: What is your security clearance, Citizen user?
Troubleshooter: Red, friend PDC!
PDC: Two plus two equals a number between three and six.
Troubleshooter: What?
PDC: You are not cleared for greater precision at this time...

User Desmond-O-NTY-3 is not available. This call has been forwarded to an automated voice system. Please listen carefully, as our menu options have changed. To confess to treason, please press 1. To accuse the citizen you are calling of treason, please press 2. To accuse a different citizen of treason, please press 3. To leave voice mail, please press 4. To send a numeric page, please press 5. For more options, please press 6.


Mars OS: no life on the red planet, but many bugs

In today's edition of Wired News, I interview Mars Rover mission chief software architect Glenn Reeves about the challenges of maintaining a functioning operating system on another planet -- and what it's like to live life on Martian Standard Time.
WN: What are your biggest challenges right now in sorting out what went wrong with Spirit, and how you're going to fix its tech problems?

Reeves: We have to plan ahead very carefully what we're going to do during each window of opportunity. There are only about three "windows" in each day, and we need to be able to see Earth from Mars. During one window, we're running a script on the vehicle to tell us which piece of software in the system is causing that reset problem. We've tried that for two days, but so far haven't been successful. In another, we're trying to dump parts of the 224-MB flash file system back down to Earth, so we can reconstruct the system here. But think about it -- on a good day, we can only transmit less than 5 MB, so moving the whole file means a lot of days with no additional science. We'd prefer to avoid that path, but it's a contingency plan. In that third window, we try to communicate with the orbiter.

Since we can bring up the system in "cripple mode," we're doing integrity checks manually. But this takes a lot of time, because we like to do them one by one, in order. We can't waste any effort, or time. You could say our dialup service is really, really, really slow.


Google to Booble: take a cold shower

As expected, Google sends "Google parody adult search engine" a cease-and-desist. From Adult Video News:
Sent earlier this week, Google's letter demanded Booble disable their Website and stop using the domain name, "take steps to transfer" the domain to Google, "(i)dentify and agree to transfer to Google any other domain names registered by you that contain the GOOGLE or are confusingly similar to the GOOGLE marks," and "permanently refrain" from using Google's name or any variation on it "that is likely to cause confusion or dilution."

An adult Web portal, YouHo!, uses a parody of one of the earlier Yahoo! homepage styles and layouts, a parody the site continues to use despite Yahoo! undergoing several alterations to its basic homepage look in the past several years.

"We note that you have given interviews to the press in which you state that you intend to be a parody," said a passage from the Google Trademark Enforcement Team, cited on Booble's Website. "We dispute your assertion that your Website is a parody. For a work to constitute a parody, it must use some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on the original author's works."

Link (Thanks, Susannah!)

Modding the box

Wired News covers the release of a new book called Hardware Hacking: Have Fun While Voiding Your Warranty -- whcih is pretty much just what it sounds like, step-by-step instructions for modding your toys to turn them into better and weirder toys.
Some of the hacks are just for entertainment, like turning a standard Apple mouse into a glowing UFO mouse or modifying a PlayStation 2 so that you can use it to program your own games.

Others are practical, like the chapter on designing and building your own Windows- or Linux-based home theater PC or the ultimate external hard drive to store all those digital images, videos and MP3 files, complete with custom case -- all from stuff you may already have lying around the house. Equally useful are the step-by-step instructions on how to replace a dead iPod battery without having to send the MP3 player back to Apple.


Periodic table of condiments

A periodic table of condiments that sometimes go bad. Link (via Pirotcar)

Programmable screwdrivers

It's about time someone invented a smart programmable screwdriver.
Matsushita Electric Works has launched what they call the world's first intelligent screwdriver. Looking like something that would crop up in Ultraman or Power Rangers, it allows you to record macros--slow start, fast midsection, slow again at the end, for example--and replay them with a single button-push. Record an expert's macro and even the novice screwer will see a dramatic improvement, so they claim. It also has a learning function that allows it to gravitate to the speed range you're using most often.
Link (via Gizmodo)

Girls, cars stuck in mud, and the men who love them

Apparently girls whose cars are stuck in mud is an emerging sexual fetish. For 50 Euro or so, you can own such erotic DVD masterpieces as "Michelle got stuck in snow and mud" and "Party-Stuck-Video 002." ( is seemingly safe for work, at least from what I saw.) Link (Thanks, Dr. Maz!)

danah on Orkut

danah boyd (she's saving up for some capital letters) weighs in on Orkut and in particular on the craptacular ToS, which can be characterized as a collection of the most evil practices from the industry's unforgivably bad ToSes, including things like the right to change terms without notice, a blanket ban on "unauthorized" use, a ban on non-browser-based user-agents, and so on.
1) What the hell is up with the elitist approach to invitation? That's just outright insulting and an attempt to pre-configure the masses through what the technorati are doing. Social networks are not just a product of technologists. Everyone has a social network and what they do with it is quite diverse. To demand that they behave by the norms of technologists is horrifying.

2) Are trustworthy, cool, and sexy the only ways that i might classify my friends? (Even Orkut lists a lot more in his definition of self.) And since when can i rate the people that i know based on this kind of metric?

And goddamnit CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT. Cool as a techy? Cool as a party kid? Trustworthy along what fucking axes?


Impending totalitarianism

Bruce Schneier's latest op-ed on the impending police-state is chilling as hell.
Last week the Supreme Court let stand the Justice Department's right to secretly arrest noncitizen residents.

Combined with the government's power to designate foreign prisoners of war as "enemy combatants" in order to ignore international treaties regulating their incarceration, and their power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or access to an attorney, the United States is looking more and more like a police state.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Justice Department has asked for, and largely received, additional powers that allow it to perform an unprecedented amount of surveillance of American citizens and visitors. The USA Patriot Act, passed in haste after Sept. 11, started the ball rolling.


Run your iPod for 40 hours

This external iPod battery provides 40 hours of playtime and includes a USB port for plugging in USB-charged devices like PDAs and cellphones. It's $100, and no indication of what it weighs. Link (via iPodHacks)

300 mile electric car runs on laptop/cellphone battery tech

Steve sez, "The demand for powerful consumer electronics batteries (for laptops, cell phones, etc.) is reviving promise for electric vehicles (EV's). Traditionally, batteries produced for EVs have been limited in capacity and expensive to boot (due to small manufacturing runs). But laptop and cell phone batteries now out-perform these batteries and cost less, so this company (AC Propulsion) has essentially kluged together a boat-load of consumer Li-Ion batteries to produce an EV with a range of 300 miles!" 104K PDF Link (Thanks, Steve!)

Jason Schultz on American Blind versus Google

A company called American Blind (which makes window-coverings) is suing Google because other organizations, like the American Council for the Blind, its competitors have bought the Google AdWord "blind" and so American Blind claims that its trademark is being infringed-upon, and that Google is secondarily liable for the infringement. My cow-orker Jason Schultz dissects and destroys this claim in very short order.
"We spend millions of dollars annually to build brand awareness and cannot stand idle while Google allows our competitors to ride our coattails," said a statement from Steve Katzman, CEO of American Blind.

So it's really not about consumer protection after all; it's about money. Money that AB&WF spent on silly meatspace advertising while its competitors blew past it by disintermediating physical adspace.