Boing Boing 

More on Apple's breaking of the iPod -- UPDATED

A number of you have written in regarding yesterday's post about Apple's campaign to remove features from your iPod and presenting it to you as an "update." There are innumberable utilities available to help you move your music from your iPod to your Mac, of course, but that's not the point.

The point is that Apple is devoting time, money, and lawyer- and engineer-hours to breaking your iPod and selling it to you as a "fix."

Imagine if your mobile phone manufacturer enlisted your car maker into ensuring that you didn't use a third-party charger with your cigarette lighter, but instead bought the official, expensive licensed charger. Every time you take your car in for warranty-mandated service, the manufacturer's representative rips out your lighter and puts a new one in that locks out your charger. And when the agent is done, he smiles and tells you he's "updated" your car.

Does the fact that you can go out and find a new third-party charger that works with the new lighter mitigate in the car-maker's favor? Wouldn't you be pissed off that your car-maker was selling you out to the phone company, treating you as a mark to be sucked dry by whatever vendor it decided to do a deal with?

That's what Apple's done here. The music industry has concluded that it can maximize its profits by restricting what you do with your music, and it's signed Apple up to see to it that even if you figure out how to do more that Apple will do its best to take that feature away from you.

In any event, there are many tools to help get your music off your iPod. Here's a link to Open Pod, the one that I've decided on. It's a GPL-licensed tool and looks like it works well. Link (Thanks, Jeff!)

Update: How to un-cripple your copy of iTunes 4.7

US-Iraq bioweapons report by independent UK academic

David sez, "Geoff Holland of the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, University of Sussex (UK), has recently submitted a report to all Members of the UK Parliament with the aim that the US supply of biological materials to Iraq will at last be properly investigated. The report can be read or downloaded from this site. It sets out further evidence of misleading Government statements in relation to the Iraq conflict, considering specifically the Government’s response to the previously overlooked finding of the US Senate ‘Riegle Report’— that in the 1980s the United States supplied Iraq with materials for its biological weapons programme in breach of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention" 428K MSFT Word Link (Thanks, David!)

Haunted Mansion dollhouse

Bigfigs ("big figures") are the new breed of Disney Park collectables -- they're 18-24" detailed models of ride-buildings and facades. The new Haunted Mansion one is out, and while I can't say I'm very impressed with it -- looks too much like a doll's house and the construction materials are too plasticky if you ask me -- the Haunted Mansion fan boards are all a-twitter. Order 'em from Disneyland DelivEARS at 800-362-4533. Link (via The Disney Blog)

Jon Stewart C-SPAN torrent -- UPDATE

Here's a .torrent for ASF video of the wonderfully subversive Jon Stewart and company appearance on C-SPAN. The video's apparently a little low-quality, be warned. Torrent Link (Thanks, RobW!)

Update: Here's a higher quality video in .torrent form, courtesy of Mike Graham. Thanks, Mike!

Working iPod costume

This guy modded his Tablet PC and a rewired USB mouse and built a "working iPod costume." Link (via /.)

Photos of decaying Toronto

Kendall Anderson shoots galleries of decaying and abandoned buildings, asylums, factories and warehouses in Toronto and environs. Love this one, from his series shot in an old Toronto Transit Commission "Barn." Link (Thanks, knotpunkt!)

Sim e-voting machine almost as buggy as real thing

If you're a Sims player you can download this "Dumboold" electronic voting machine, which has almost as many flaws as the real thing from our malfeasant friends at Diebold!
The Diebold Voting Machine is programmed with cheats, bugs and easter eggs, which you can discover and read about by playing around with it. It demonstrates and simulates some alarming problems with real world electronic voting machines, with many surprising effects and subtle interactions:

Baxter the Chimpanzee Erases the Voting Log. When you put the voting machine into debug mode and clear the votes, you will see a dialog with the hillarious picture and story of Baxter the Chimpanzee. In your web browser, you can watch the funny monkey movie showing Baxter erasing the voting log! Now your Sims can monkey around with the electronic Dumbold Voting Machines, go bananas hacking the system, fling poo and corrupt the election results just like the pros!

Link (Thanks, Robert!)

Bhutan: World's biggest book

Kottke's posted a great item about a presentation he caught at PopTech on the "world's largest book," called "Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom," which retails for $10,000 at Amazon. Says Kottke, "Turning the pages involved a short walk." Link

Stealth Lessig-ing

First, there was Stealth Disco. Then, a dark variant emerged after Abu Ghraib -- the Stealth Lynndie. Now, the Stealth Lessig.

BoingBoing reader Kmr. Tupko in Poland says,

"Lawrence Lessig is present on the web in limited number of images that we've all become familar with -- there's Lessig by the columns, and several of Lessig behind a computer. They've become visual icons. But when I recently googled for Lessig photos, I found these: an entire image directory of this guy posing in these -- cult by now, apparently -- Lessig-like poses. It's like one of those contests, where they say, 'show the contents of your bag/purse,' except here one person just took it upon himself to 'strike a Lessig.' Very creative commons, remix spirit."

Link to a directory of photos showing some guy in Japan "Striking a Lessig." And lo, a meme is born.

"Still the One" songwriter demands Bush campaign stop using his tune

The Bush re-election campaign has been using the 1970s hit "Still the One" without copyright clearance. The songwriter behind the tune wants that to stop.
"I was watching TV, and there all of a sudden was my song, my guitar playing, my voice coming out of the speakers," said the 56-year-old [John] Hall, still a working musician. Hall wrote "Still the One" with his then-wife, Johanna D. Hall. The two as well as surviving members of the band are supporters of Democratic Sen. John Kerry and don't want their work used to promote Bush's re-election, Hall said.

"I'm not just some guy that's stoned out and happened to write a song, and even if I were, it would still be a problem, because you should always ask permission to use the work," Hall said.

Link (Thanks, Rico, and Steve)

Update: BoingBoing reader Brian Carnell points us to a news article which says the Bush campaign claims to have acquired permission from a third-party licensing company.

"Out of deference to Mr. Hall's views, the song will no longer be played," Bush campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish said. She said the song had been included in a catalog of music that the campaign's licensing company used to provide music for events."
Link to Detroit News story.

Spoken Word Bananaphone

First a fellow named Andy Zebrowitz recorded himself doing a spoken-word interpretation of Raffi's childrens' song "Bananaphone", inna deadpan William-Shatner-styleee. Then, he posts this masterpiece online. Now, you can download it, and spew Red Bull through your nose laughing. Next, who knows -- some enterprising soul might just transform this file into spoken-word-Bananaphone ringtones. Or better yet, an extended hard trance remix.

Link to site with 622KB MP3 download. Link to Andy Zebrowitz' website. (Um. thanks, I guess, Brett Taylor)

UPDATE: Ferlinghettified beatnik remix here -- Link

Moment of snapshot zen: stingray smile

Lovely snapshot of a serene stingray from the Coney Island Aquarium [via flickr]. Link to larger, uncropped image. (Thanks, Ivy )

Star Wars-inspired "Fallen" wins fan film contest

Hollywood Liberation Army tells BoingBoing, "
Fallen is a machinima music video created in Star Wars Galaxies about a tragic romance between a female Imperial officer and a male Rebel fighter using the song "Fallen" by Delirium. It has just won the Star Wars Galaxies Fan Film Fest 2004.
Link to movie download site, and link to more info on the project.

To Some Fool, Thanks for Everything! Love, Nigerian Spammer.

BB reader jon rahoi writes,

"Nigerian scammers now appear to be using to troll for victims to save 'damsels' in distress. I've posted one damsel's emails leading to the pitch." Excerpt:

# "Hi dear i have added you to my chat friend right now i left an offline for you, hope to catch you on later lol benny and one more thing your physic i like it kool keep it up, lol."

# "Hi its nice to hear from you. Well i into sales of aretifacts and it carried me far and wide but this is my first visit to africa. I am currently in nigeria and its a lovely place. Well i have not visited china before would love to some day and dont worry when i come back i will tell you all about africa when we go out for dinner. Well is nice to hear from you. Lol."

# "Thanks for writing back. I am glad you did. Well i dont know where to start. Well i sold my paintings to a client and he has refused to pay up i have not seen him since the last 3 days i contacted the local police here and they cant seem to find him. I dont have enough money to pay for my hotel bills and settle my agent. Please i want your assistance. I need 450 dollars to add to the money i have so i can payup clear my name and come back home this week, thanks for your kind assistance. Lol benny."

[Jon continues:] "So the whole profile on webdate is just more Nigerian scammers trolling for desperate horny foreigners willing to save a damsel in distress.

"Is it just me, or does Nigeria sound like the bar in House of Games? Does David Mamet live there? Is it near Mos Eisley Spaceport?" Link

New group blog on e-voting

Ed Felten says:
[We've launched] a new group blog on e-voting, from a group of leading experts on e-voting technology. Members thus far include David Dill, Ed Felten, Joe Hall, Avi Rubin, Adam Stubblefield, and Dan Wallach. The site's goal is to provide one-stop shopping for e-voting news and analysis, to the public and the press, on election day and thereafter.

False hype and hope about hypo-alergenic GM cats?

As Cory posted below, Allerca is taking deposits for $3,500 cats genetically engineered to be hypo-allergenic. Caveat emptor though. New Scientist reports that geneticists and allergists doubt Allerca's claims.
It is probably possible to create cats that do not produce the most common protein allergen, says Thomas Platts-Mills, director of the Asthma and Allergic Disease Center at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, US. But he adds that cats produce many more allergens, and that blocking production of the protein could damage the cat's health.

Moreover, Allerca's claims that a technique called RNA-induced gene silencing can work in cats are "unfounded", says Greg Hannon at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York state, and author of the book RNAi: A Guide to Gene Silencing. So far the technique has been used only in mice.

Let's Get Ready to Snitch On Our Neighbors!

The Let's Get Ready to Rumble guy is paying cash bounties to people who snitch on their neighbors' "infringing" use of phrases like "Let's Get Ready to Gamble" and "Are You Ready to Rumble?"
Buffer Enterprises, Inc. now offers a cash bonus to those who report a corroborated unauthorized use [resulting in an actual recovery] of the "Let's Get Ready to Rumble,"(R) "Get Ready To Rumble"(R) or "Ready to Rumble"(R) servicemarked phrases ,any paraphrasing of these marks (including "Get Ready To Crumble,"(R) "Are Your Ready To Rumble?"(TM) "Let's Get Ready To Gamble"(TM)), or use of Michael Buffer's famous rendition of his copyrighted "Let's Get Ready To Rumble" recording. This bonus system applies to viable reports [resulting in an actual recovery] of unauthorized use of our servicemarks, copyrights or related rights in or upon TV, radio, the internet, print or in connection with unlicensed products or services such as T-shirts, toys, posters, or other merchandise.
Link (via Fark)

Jon Stewart will destroy television!

Brian Dear evaluates Jon Stewart-and-co's latest appearance on C-SPAN and predicts that Stewart will destroy television!
The panelists took turns reading from their book, America: The Book. It's amazing how much coverage this book gets on C-SPAN. But these guys are not normal book authors, and they're not there to push the book. They're there to destroy TV as we know it.

I believe that Stewart and company are trying to revolutionize television by tearing down its conventional standards and practices. First, dress inappropriately, like a slacker. Stewart's starting to dress like Bill Murray in the early scenes of Stripes. Second, resort to language that's simply not said on television, certainly not C-SPAN. Speak as many four-letter words as possible, so the television audience members marvel in the fact that there are no bleeps like there are on The Daily Show, only occasional and entirely useless on-screen warnings that this program contains bad language. Duh!

Prediction: Stewart and company are going to get C-SPAN in big trouble, and somebody's going to try to fine or indict C-SPAN for breaking FCC rules. You watch: some congressman is going to take this one for a ride, and sick the FCC on them but good.

Link (Thanks, Brian!)

Hypo-allergenic GM cats available for pre-order

Allerca is taking pre-orders on genetically modified, hypoallergenic cats that do not excrete the allergenic protein in their skin and spit.
ALLERCA will produce the world's first hypoallergenic cats, and we expect the birth of these first special kittens in early 2007.

The cat allergen is a potent protein secreted by the cat’s skin and salivary glands. Removal of the allergen will not harm the cats in any way. The resulting hypoallergenic cats will improve the health and quality of life for millions of cat-allergy sufferers.

While some breeds of cats have been promoted as having less allergen than others, scientists that have tested this hypothesis have shown that all cats, regardless of breed, produce allergen. Allerca will produce the first cats that will not affect human allergies.

The first breed of hypoallergenic cat produced will be the British Shorthair, known to be friendly, playful and affectionate. Other popular breeds will follow soon.

Link (via Futurismic)

Squid biomass exceeds human biomass

Squids thrive in a global-warming world, and the biomass of squid has now exceeded the biomass of humans. Link (via Plastic Bag)

Steampunk mecha-wars

Steam Wars is an elaborate concept for a movie about steam-punk mecha-wars, an alternate history in which th 19th century is dominated by wars between giant, steam-powered killer robots. Link (Thanks, Andy!)

CodeCon call for proposals

CodeCon is the wicked-nerdy technology conference held each year in San Francisco, at which all presentations must include running code, preferably code that is available for download by the con-goers. They've just posted their call for proposals.
All presentations must include working demonstrations, ideally accompanied by source code. Presenters must be done by one of the active developers of the code in question. We emphasize that demonstrations be of *working* code...

Program Committee:
* Jeremy Bornstein, AtomShockwave Corp., USA
* Bram Cohen, BitTorrent, USA
* Jered Floyd, Permabit, USA
* Ian Goldberg, Zero-Knowledge Systems, CA
* Dan Kaminsky, Avaya, USA
* Klaus Kursawe, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, BE
* Ben Laurie, A.L. Digital Ltd., UK
* David Molnar, University of California, Berkeley, USA
* Jonathan Moore, Mosuki, USA
* Len Sassaman, Nomen Abditum Services, USA

Link (via Hack the Planet)

Daily Show clips galore

Lisa Rein has just posted 13 clips from the Daily Show over the past couple weeks, including:
The Colbert Report
Ed Helm's DSpan
Flu Vaccine Shortage
Red Sox Winning The World Series
Walmart violating ancient graveyards in Hawaii
Ad for "America, The Book"
Opening bit of 10/20/04
Coverage of the the mudslinging and overexaggerating statements by Bush and Kerry during the last Presidential Debate
P-diddy etc. (Christina Aguilara - sp?) and their "Vote or Die" campaign.
"Stand and Choose" voting ads starring video game characters
Lewis Black on how the Shrub Administration continually wastes our tax dollars on extravagant purchases in the name of Homeland Security and $500,000 parties for the TSA.
The opening bit from 10-19-04
Iraqi tourism board
Soldiers who refused to go on "suicide mission"
Bush saying that we will "not have an all volunteer army" and then being corrected by someone in the crowd.
Jon Stewart's comments on his Crossfire appearance.
Coverage of second presidential debate.
Drew Barrymore On The Daily Show
Richard Clarke On The Daily Show
Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6

William Gibson on ObL tape

William Gibson's posted a blistering analysis of Osama bin Laden's latest video.
OBL today is probably a very satisfied, very optimistic man, and if he can skew the last-minute dynamic of the election in Bush's favor, he'll have cause to be all the more satisfied.

And that's the danger, that some crucial percentage of our dimmer, more reactive voters will flash back to 9-11 and the Bush of the bullhorn, the Bush buffeted with the heartbroken grit of Ground Zero, and vote for that -- childishly imagining that such a vote runs counter to the wishes and the needs of OBL, the bearded stickman, the cave-dwelling spider, our new Old Man of the Mountains. Player of the long game.

Link (Thanks, Jamie!)

Update: CJ point out that Gibson's had some second thoughts about this post

Rogue Taxidermists exhibit

The Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists is holding their first exhibition at the Creative Electric Studios in Minneapolis.
"The organization's mandate is to advocate the showmanship of oddities; espouse the belief in natural adaptation and mutation; and encourage the desire to create displays of curiosity."
And here's a letter from the National Taxidermists Association in response to a request for feedback on the exhibit:
birdtaxidermyIf you are looking for approval for this so called"art", I am afraid you have come to the wrong place. Displays of wounded,bleeding or mangled animals is not in any form,"art" The members of the NTA are truly professional taxidermists and as such can be called artists,and most, if not all, abhor your desplays[sic].

You can surely be called a Rogue taxidermist.

Bill Haynes
NTA Board of Directors
Ethics Chairman
Vice President

Google desktop for OSX misreported by Reuters and others?

Following up on Google CEO Eric Schmidt's remarks at the Internet Anniversary event yesterday in LA, Sean Bonner says:
While I didn't take super detailed notes (...) notice how I didn't say "Google is releasing a desktop search for OSX!!!!" That's because he didn't say that. Well he sort of did, but not really, so you can understand my surprise this morning when Mac Rumors, MacDailyNews and Reuters are reporting otherwise. They are quoting him as saying "We intend to do it." What a spin!! That is so out of context it's not even funny.

First of all lets keep in mind here that it's 2004, almost 2005 and pretty much ANYTHING that is released for a PC will be released for a Mac, it's just a matter of time. We all know that, and it's not news.

The remark in quesestion was in response to someone asking about privacy issues of Google Desktop and a footnote to their question was if Google was planning an OS X version. The answer was "yes, and no" He went on to explain that because the way Operating Systems work so differently and how built in the Google Desktop is there's no way to just port it over to a different OS so it has to be redone from scratch so while they do intended to do it, it's not something that they are working on, or something anyone should expect soon.

That's how I recall Mr. Schmidt's response, too. Not at all the way it's being reported by Reuters -- and others, who weren't there, re-reporting the Reuters item (ok now my head's spinning). Schmidt also ended that reply by pointing out that as a matter of policy, Google does not "pre-announce" products.

Tim O'Reilly was the "questioner," and in a discussion forum on ArsTechnica he posts this response.

This is Tim O'Reilly. I'm the one who asked Eric the question at his talk about whether we'd expect a Mac version of Google desktop, and I have to say I didn't read his response at all the way the Reuters reporter did! He was fairly equivocal, saying that it was a hard problem, requiring a whole separate project, not just a port, because of the differences in the operating systems. He made no announcement of actual plans to deliver the product, or even that Google was actively working on it
Link to Tim's discussion forum post.

Link to Xeni's partial transcript of Schmidt's remarks.

Fragdolls update -- group blog or astroturf campaign? -- UPDATE

Simon sez, "Thought you might be interested to know that I did some more digging into that Fragdolls link that someone sent in to you, and someone else pointed out was actually some pretty insidious stealth marketing." Link

Update: Emily Jane sez, "Another thing about the Fragdolls: They're BOOTH BABES. In addition to being sponsored by UBISoft, at the Penny Arcade Expo a few months ago, they were UBISoft's entire booth.

"While they try to adopt 'Just a bunch of girls that like video games' as their image, walking around and hearing 'PLAY VIDEO GAMES AGAINST HOT CHICKS!!!' all day definitly reduced the fun of this girl that likes video games.

"And while I realize that a bunch of chicks playing video games is going to be an event just because they're in the minority, the willingness of these girls to be the circus and make girls playing video games seem even LESS normal, totally contradicts what they claim they are all about."

Apple to iPod owners: "Eat shit and die" -- UPDATED

If you're an iPod user, you would have done well to have availed yourself of iPod Download, an OS X app that made it easy to move your music from your iPod to your Mac. Of course, Apple hated that poor little app, so it was sometimes hard to find, as Apple devoted expensive laywer-hours to shutting down all the sites that were hosting copies of it. Of course, there's more dough where that came from -- they'll just pass the cost on to you in your next iPod.

As it turns out, you're shit-outta-luck even if you managed to snag a copy. That's because Apple just devoted some expensive engineering hours to updating iTunes to version 4.7, with the "improvement" of breaking iPod Download. That's right -- Apple's spending money seeing to it that features are removed from your iPod. Thanks a whole lot, Apple.

Every time I post something like this, I get a deluge of mail that makes the same tired points, so before you bother, here's some pre-rebuttal:

  • Apple didn't have any choice. If they don't play nice with the suicidally stupid record industry, the industry will stop supplying music for the iPod.

    So freaking what? Who's the customer here, me or Sony/BMG? And honestly, there may be some powerful bozon emitters in the halls of the RIAA companies, but does anyone really believe that the record industry will just take its ball and go home at this point? "Sorry, we're no longer making music available for the iPod anymore because Apple has refused to break your personal stereo to our specifications." Riiiight.

  • Just don't run the update.

    Yeah, that works. Until they roll the iTunes update into an OS update, like they did the last time they broke iTunes and called it an upgrade.

What's the lesson here? Well, Apple's not on your side, even if you're an Apple customer. If you buy into a proprietary platform where the music industry gets a veto, you're scr0d. Every time you buy an iPod, you are financing legal and technical countermeasures aimed at taking away legitimate features that enable you to do more with your lawfully acquired music and hardware. Link

Update #1: Why it's irrelevant that there are other tools for synching your iPod

Update #2: How to un-cripple your copy of iTunes 4.7

Haunted Mansion tombstone winner "burial" photos

Cary Sharp is the lucky soul who won the $37,500 charity auction for the right to have your own tombstone installed at the Disneyland Haunted Mansion graveyard. This weekend marked his "burial" -- and LaughingPlace has the story with pix.
At the stroke of midnight, Sharp was delivered to the gates of the "Haunted Mansion" in a black horse-drawn carriage, and was greeted by the Mansion's familiar trio of hitchhiking ghosts. He also received a one-of-a-kind miniature replica of the tombstone and a "Death" certificate of authenticity officially recognizing the addition to the attraction. His gravestone is located in front of a quintet of ghostly musicians who eternally perform in the attraction's memorable graveyard scene.
Link (Thanks, John!)

Disney sued by "inventor" of FastPass system

A man in Tennessee claims he came up with the idea for Disney's FastPass system, whereby one gets a ticket to come back to a ride later without queueing, and sent it as a suggestion to Disney. Disney wrote him a letter back telling him it was a dumb idea, and then -- he alleges -- they implemented and patented it. Now he's suing. Link (Thanks, Jason!)