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Disney asks Gizmodo to clarify that jewel box is not intended for pot stashing

Gizmodo's Joel Johnson blogged about Disney Electronics's fairly clever "Disney Princess" jewel box/CD player, noting that its secret compartment is "perfect for your child's first marijuana stash."

Disney wrote to Joel and asked him to clarify "that marijuana stashing is not an intended or authorized use of this product." Link

Powerbook battery tracker

A new beta app for tracking your Powerbook's battery health just got posted to VersionTracker. The release version promises network-awareness so that you can compare you battery's health to others'.
iBatt is a new PowerBook battery tool which can diagnose your battery's health, and generate graphs showing battery utilization trends. Whereas the system only provides you with current charge level, iBatt tells you total battery capacity, rate of charge/discharge, current battery voltage, and battery state. The release version will have network support to compare your battery's health with other batteries in your PowerBook model.

Feds crank up heat on P2P, new House bill promises prison for "pirates"

I just filed a story for Wired News on a new House bill that proposes prison time for file-swappers -- and on today's Justice Department announcement of a new intellectual-property task force to analyze how the department addresses issues like the unauthorized sharing of digital software, music and movies.
Justice spokesman John Nowacki declined to disclose further details on the membership of the [Intellectual Property Task Force], or what specific activities it will pursue.

The task force was created in the wake of criticism by some members of Congress that the Justice Department has not done enough to crack down on digital piracy. The announcement took place on the same day that a House judiciary subcommittee unanimously approved a bill that would punish file swappers with up to three years in jail for first offenses, and up to six for repeat offenses.

Sponsored by Reps. Howard Berman (D-California) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the bill targets heavy users of peer-to-peer networks and those who pirate copies of feature films. The bill outlines a new piracy deterrence program for the FBI, and calls for the Justice Department to create an antipiracy "Internet Use Education Program." If signed into law, Justice would receive $15 million for investigation and prosecution of copyright-related crimes in 2005.

If signed into law, H.R. 4077 -- the "Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2004" -- would be the first to punish file sharing with jail time. The bill also takes aim at camcorder copiers who sneak into film screenings. Anyone who "knowingly uses or attempts to use an audiovisual recording device in a motion picture theater" to copy a movie could face up to six years in jail.

Link to Wired News story.
Text version of PDEA should be available through Thomas shortly, here: Link. Update: PDF version (63Kb) of the PDEA is now available here: Link.

Music industry relies on data from pirate nets to hone strategy

Record labels are using data gleaned from pirate P2P networks to refine their sales-strategies, to excelletn effect. Nevertheless, they still repudiate the networks themselves, and vow to go on individually suing every participating music fan until they have all learned to respect the music industry.
The online data revealed that despite Story of the Year's lunar rotation, its single ``Until the Day I Die'' ranked among the top 20 most popular downloads, alongside tracks from Blink-182, Audioslave and Hoobastank that received significantly more airplay. And when the band performed in a city, ``we didn't necessarily see the phones blowing up at radio, but we saw download requests for the song skyrocket as they went through,'' said Jeremy Welt, Maverick's head of new media.

Armed with this data, Maverick fought for more airtime at radio, which translated into more CD sales. Story of the Year's album, ``Page Avenue,'' just went gold, selling more than half a million copies.

``I definitely don't like to spin it that piracy is OK because we get to look at the data. It's too bad that people are stealing so much music,'' said Welt. ``That said, we would be very foolish if we didn't look and pay attention to what's going on.''

Link (via Copyfight)

Katana controller for PS2 game

This wireless motion-sensitive sword is the controller for a character in Onimusha 3, forthcoming for the PS2. The game itself is apparently recursive: you are asked to direct the motions of an avatar who is playing a videogame of his own controlled by a motion-sensitive sword, and swinging the physical sword-controller causes the virtual sword-controller to move, which, in turn, directs the swordsmanship of your avatar's character in an in-game game. Zany.

Update: Joel "Deadpan" Johnson writes, "The recursive stuff on that post was just a joke. There is only one layer of abstraction; you swing the sword and your character swings his, end of story. I'm obviously TOO FUNNY for my own good." Link (via Gizmodo)

Batmobile built like a tank

The Batmobile for the next Batman movie has monster-truck wheels and looks like a fighter-tank from the Car Wars universe. Link (Thanks, Numlok!)

Memos in Starbucks detail Bushies' Richard Clarke strategy

Memos on letterhead from "Office of the Secretary of Defense, The Special Assistant," have been retreived from a DC Starbucks. They detail what appears to be Bushie spin-strategy to deal with Richard Clarke's damning WMD testimony.
The notes say: "Took threat v seriously and then segue to wh we have been doing. Rise above [ Richard A.] Clarke.

"Emphasize importance of 9/11 commission and come back to what we have been doing.

"[Commission member Jamie] Gorelick pitting Condi [ Condoleezza Rice] v. [Deputy Secretary of State Richard] Armitage

"Our plan had military plans to attack Al Q -- called on def to draw up targets in Afg -- develop mil options."

There's an underlined notation "DR" in the margin and a quotation, apparently from DR, perhaps Rumsfeld, to "Stay inside the line -- we dont need 2 ruff [or puff] this at all. we need 2b careful as hell about it. This thing will go away soon and what will keep it alive will be one of us going over the line."

Reg Required Link Non-registration American Progress Link (Thanks, LVX23!)

Google's free gigabyte

Google announced a free email service, promising a Gigabyte of storage to each user.
"The idea is that your mail can stay in there forever," said Wayne Rosing, vice president of engineering at Google. "You can always index it, always search it, and always find things from the past."
That's a neat idea, but I wonder if you can store attachments, and how big those attachments can be? That makes all the difference. Link

Mid Century Lampshades

Meteor LightsMeteor Lights sells really nice retro lampshades and other mid-century lighting stuff. Link

Robot-themed handbags, animal-shaped cellphone cozies

Handbags and other accessories filled with esprit de geek. Handmade by genuine humans. High cuteness factor. Chuckles Central makes stuff like Robot handbags, iPod/digital camera/mobilephone Cozies, Laptop Magnet, and Robot Magnets.

Canada's RIAA can't prove infringement by P2P uploaders, says court

Canada's Federal Court has ruled that the Canadian Recording Industry Association was not able to prove copyright infringement by the uploaders it sued. The judge also said that under that country's copyright law, downloading is not illegal. Link

Chris Hoofnagle, Assoc. Director of EPIC, The Electronic Privacy Information Center, tells BoingBoing: "We have the decision online here (~670kb PDF). It's remarkable. The judge says that keeping a file in a p2p system is no different than installing a photocopy machine in a library." And BoingBoing reader Chris suggests this alternate link to a leaner PDF from the Federal Court of Canada: Link

Mephisto morphed art-pr0n

Our pals at Fleshbot say:
Sure, any hack with a copy of Photoshop and a few hours can turn women into barnyard animals, but if you want to see beautiful models transformed into slugs, chocolate bars, or five-and-a-half foot tall anthropomorphic cigarettes, you'll have to consult the work of a master. (Anyone curious to see how Britney looks as a pig, cow, or dog should check this out as well.)

Mephisto Gallery (photomanipulations @

Keanu stars in A Scanner Darkly

Boing Boing pal Dave Gill points us to news that Keanu Reeves will star in the Hollywoodization of A Scanner Darkly, based on Philip K. Dick's masterpiece SF novel about drugs and schizophrenia. As Dave says, "uh-oh."

According to Variety, Richard Linklater may direct the film, employing the same live action-to-animation technique seen in Waking Life. I suppose it's no surprise that Keanu was chosen for the role. After all, The Matrix was the ultimate PKD rip-off. Link

Left-handed phone

Sony Ericsson's LH-Z200 cellphone now comes in a left-handed model. Link (via Engadget)

Homeless Hacker profile in Wired

Great Wired profile of Adrian Lamo, the Homeless Hacker who got busted for using the NYT's Lexis-Nexus account.
In theory, it's easy to see Lamo as a good guy. Unlike many hackers - even whitehats - he never uses a pseudonym and makes no effort to hide his identity. If the company he notifies appears grateful, he will often offer to help plug the hole he's discovered for free. Poulsen, for one, believes that Lamo "practices a style of hacking - open, brash, illegal, but carefully observant of an unwritten code of ethics - that went out of style a decade ago."

Indeed, Lamo's hacks are uncommonly witty and at times almost inspiring. Once, after tunneling into Excite@Home's customer service database, Lamo pulled the email and phone number of a customer whose complaint had gone unanswered for a year. Lamo called him up, chatted briefly, then offered to forward him all the company's internal correspondence pertaining to the original complaint.


Complimentary iPods in the Virgin lounge

Virgin Airlines is giving the high-rollers in its departure lounges complimentary iPods to listen to while they wait for their flights. This begs three questions, though:
  1. What's the use of 40GB of someone else's idea of what kind of music a generic, notional traveller would like to hear?
  2. How do you sterlize the earbuds between use? Ever notice the wiry masses of ear-hair spilling out of the first class cabin? Squick.
  3. How do you hear your flight being called if you're wearing an iPod?
Link (via Engadget)

Nielsen's new "people-meter" ignores Black and Hispanic programming

Nielsen's new "people-meter" television-viewing measurators are being deployed to replace the traditional viewing journals and set-top boxen that the media metric firm uses to figure out who watches what. For poorly understood reasons, though, these new measurators generate viewing stats that report 60 percent less viewership for Black and Hispanic-oriented programming than previous measurating technologies. This has prompted Hillary Clinton and others to call on Nielsen to reevaluate its design decisions.
"It is impossible to overstate the potential impact of undercounting minority viewers," Senator Burns said in his own letter to Nielsen. "After years of work to make the entertainment industry more diverse and more reflective of the rich makeup of our country, this system could endanger all the progress that's been made."

"Black" day of P2P protest on April 1?

Rumors are circulating in geek circles that some peer-to-peer technology companies (and/or supporters) plan to paint their websites black on Thursday, April 1 -- protesting recent efforts by state and federal lawmakers to crack down on filesharing. Lest anyone forget that Thursday is also April Fool's Day, some of the participants are said to be planning to blame the "outage" on this gag website for a fictitious "Copyright Enforcement Agency" of the US government.

Kevin Sites dispatch from Iraq: Omar's Arm

MSNBC combat correspondent Kevin Sites returns to Iraq this week, after a brief respite back home. Here is his latest dispatch, about Omar, a freelance cameraman in Baghdad for ABC News.
While we wait for our flight--he gives me a disk to download some pictures that a friend had taken in the aftermath of his shooting. It included the emergency room, x-rays and his first surgery.

The pictures are painful to look at, much more so than the contraption that now surround Omar's arm. But they are, I know, the ugly reality of what happens when bullets meet bodies.

These days it's difficult to show casualties of war on evening newscasts or in any American media outlets. The images become politically charged; take on meaning beyond their face value. But more often than not, the violence is just too grim, too hard to stomach at dinnertime.

So the question becomes this; how can those who haven't seen it--begin to understand the truth of Omar's arm?

Link (Warning: post contains graphic images of gunshot wounds, and is not intended for viewing by children.)


Sony's QRIO in action

The first time I saw a video clip of QRIO, I thought it was neat, but not a big improvement over Honda's ASIMO. However, this video clip of four dancing QRIO robots is mind blowing. Link (Thanks, Kirby!)

Chapter 6 of Gillmor's "Making the News" online

Dan Gillmor has just posted a draft of Chapter 6 of his upcoming book, "Making the News." Readers are invited to contribute to the process by way of his weblog. Link

Newsmap: visualizing the media tree through Google News

BoingBoing reader paul says:
newsmap is an application that visualizes the totality of the GoogleNews aggregator -- an amazing piece of software which not only aggregates almost every single online newspaper, but combines news stories into clusters so that when the same story is repeated among several news sites, it files and displays only one to you - no mater how different the actual text that makes the article is.

Google news aggregates stories in several languages and customizes its content for 10 particular countries. I've loved googlenews for this particular reason since the first day, and it was then when I started thinking about visualizing the totality of it, since it could be a very close approach to getting a picture on how news media attention differs from country to country.

Newsmap utilizes a treemap algorithm to dynamically create each view, and the size of each cell is determined by the amount of related articles that exist inside each news cluster.

Link, created by the same fellow behind Social Circles.

Job listings via RSS

In an item about RSS for the current issue of Wired Magazine, I wrote:
Job seekers anxious about seeing the freshest Craigslist posts can subscribe to a feed instead of hitting Reload for hours in a paranoid funk.
Responding to this, Steve Rose of RSSJobs writes, "FYI, RSSJobs has been providing personalized job feeds in RSS format since last year! Check it out!" Link.

Total non-sequitur: read this hilarious Craigslist position-wanted post, "I Need A New Fucking Job," which sounds as if it were penned by my ex-boyfriend Jim Anchower.

Feedster + Share Your OPML

Dude! You got your Feedster in my OPML! No, dude, you got your OPML in my Feedster! Whatever -- but this helpful little app allows you to search for what fellow RSS junkies might have read about a certain topic via their OPML file. Link (thanks, Sean!)

Massive Kodak photomontage sets Guinness world record

A gigantic photomontage created by Kodak scored an entry in the Guinness book of world records, and took home gold at the Effie Hellas 2004 Awards. The photomontage - titled "The Whole of Greece in One Smile" -- is comprised of 16,609 photos of Greek citizens, and covers a surface area of over 5,000 square feet.
Link (Thanks, Jean-Luc)

DARPA Grand Challenge Video clips

Video excerpts from DARPA Grand Challenge 2004, downloaded from satellite feed on Saturday March 13th, 2004 .
This video was transfered from the satellite feed provided by DARPA on the day of the race. It is provided as is. The video lasts about 19 minutes.
Low bandwidth - 28.2 Kbps - wmf format - 8.8 MB
High Bandwidth - 512 Kbps - wmf format - 31 MB

The final results of the race can be found here (PDF).
Hosting kindly provided by the Spacecraft Technology Center at Texas A&M University.

NES lookenfeel comes to GBA

Nintedo's shipping a Game Boy Advance skinned to look like a first-generation Nintendo Entertainment System controller, with a suite of classic NES games. Link (via Engadget)

Lessons to be learnt from Disney's Pop Century Resort

The authors of Learning from Las Vegas (a hymn to the urban planning positives of the Vegas Strip) have written a good analytical piece in the current ish of Metropolis, analyzing Disney World's new Pop Century resort.
We see the Pop Century Resort as a third evolution of Pop Urbanism--beyond that engaging the symbolic-surface makeup of the first Las Vegas, evolving from the Strip; beyond that engaging the scenographic formal makeup of the second Las Vegas, evolving from Disneyland. Here is a vivid urban complex that is beginning to embrace symbolic content by combining surface and form, graphic signage, and sculptural symbolism--both the "decorated shed" and the "duck" (i.e., the loft whose surfaces are ornamented with signs, and the building as sculptural symbol).

What is to come next? The urban complex that is a city rather than a resort--a vivid multifaceted place that pragmatically juxtaposes decorated sheds and ducks through signage and sculpture, civic and commercial content--all in the service of enhanced communication, the vital community-building tool of our multicultural era. This is what the Las Vegases and Pop Century Resorts are leading up to and what the Tokyo of today has essentially achieved.

Link (Thanks, Bruce!)

Gallery of confusing signs and designs

Dumb web site"This is Broken" showcases confusing/dumb signs, buttons, user interfaces, and products. Link (Thanks, Mark!)

Declan: Should the UN run the Internet?

In his column this week, Declan McCullagh explores recent debate around proposed expansion of United Nations involvement in managing 'Net architecture.
The United Nations wants to expand its influence over the Internet, but would it be wise to let that happen? That question follows the conclusion of a two-day U.N. summit last week, in which delegates from sundry countries such as Cuba, Ghana, Bolivia and Venezula lectured North American, Asian and European countries about how best to run the Internet. Their demands varied, but the bottom line was the same: They want a piece of the action in just about every way. The event's agenda was breathtakingly broad, taking in everything from spam and privacy to intellectual property, network security and the operation of root domain name servers.