Boing Boing 

Technorati adds Keyword Watchlists

Technorati, a service that indexes blogs in real-time and provides search, indexing, and link-analysis, has added "keyword tracking."
For example, say you're interested in keeping track of the recent rumor that Six Apart is buying LiveJournal. You would start by going to Technorati and typing in a set of search terms like:

("six apart" OR sixapart) AND (livejournal OR "live journal")

This will give you an instantly updated stream of posts from blogs around the world that are talking about both SixApart and LiveJournal, in a post, using a variety of spellings.

Note the results page, however - Underneath the title of the search, you'll notice a link that says, "Make this a Watchlist". Click on that link, go through the login process (or create an account if it is the first time at Technorati), and you'll get a link to that saved search to put into your favorite RSS reader.

Linkvia Sifry's Alerts) (Disclaimer: I'm an advisor to Technorati -Cory)

Ghost ship tee for your inner haunted pirate

This Ghost Ship tee sports a lovely line-drawing of a drifting, tattered pirate ship and a maritime tattoo-like anchor on the sleeve -- Yarrr! Link (via Preshrunk)

EFF helps beat RIAA in privacy for accused infringers case

EFF's helped win another victory this week! We filed a brief in RIAA vs Charter, a case where the music industry was asserting the legal right to require your ISP to turn over your information if you'd been accused of copyright infringement -- rather than waiting until they'd proven their case. The court ruled in Charter's favor yesterday, saying that just because you've been accused of infringement, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't have the due process right to privacy until you've been proven guilty.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with 21 other groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), filed a "friend of the court" brief in the Charter case, urging the Eighth Circuit to determine that the same strong protections applied to anonymous speech in other contexts also apply when copyright infringement is claimed but has not yet been proven. In a victory for privacy and anonymity, the Eighth Circuit determined that DMCA subpoenas could not be used to get this information.

Sixapart buying LiveJournal?

There are rumors on the internets that Six Apart will soon buy LiveJournal. Details as they come.

Update: Om Malik has more:

Six Apart, the parent company behind hosted blogging service TypePad, and Moveable Type is about to acquire Live Journal, for an undisclosed amount. The deal is a mix of stock and cash, and could be announced sometime later this month, according to those close to the two companies. If the deal goes through, then Six Apart will become one of the largest weblog companies in the world, with nearly 6.5 million users. It also gives the company a very fighting chance against Google’s Blogger and Microsoft’s MSN Spaces.

2005 EDGE Question

"What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" Each year, literary agent and online provocateur John Brockman poses a single question to a wide array of scientists, futurists and other creative thinkers. Responses to this year's question are now online at Link

Xeni on NPR: blogs and the tsunami disaster

On the NPR program "Day to Day" this week, I join NPR's Alex Chadwick to discuss the role of blogs in responding to the tsunami disaster. From first-person accounts, to amateur videoblogging, to tech aid, to fundraising coordination, to "citizen journalism" (nod to Dan Gillmor) that sometimes pokes holes in official government-isssue accounts -- we explore online voices around the world.

Link to archived audio for this program, expanded coverage on the NPR website includes pointers to video files and torrents. Link to NPR Day to Day home. This week, listeners in Boston are hearing the show on their local affiliate WBUR for the first time -- so, consider this a shout-out to Boston.

BoingBoing traffic stats are back

Here's a note from John Battelle, affectionately known as Boing Boing's "band manager."
Earlier in the month we took Boing Boing's live stats page down (link). As we noted in our post, we wanted to grok what the program was reporting, and make sure that whatever we posted was clear and understandable.

Well, the stats are back up (link), and you may notice that we've not done much to them. There's a good reason for this - we prefer to post our stats pretty much as reported by AWStats, the log file analysis program we use. We considered filtering those numbers in any number of ways, but always ended up at the same place - statistics are subject to interpretation and judgment, whereas data is data. We prefer to give you the data, and let you do with it what you want.

We did learn a few interesting things about how AWstats works, and we did make one minor tweak to the reporting process. First, of the columns you see, only the first one - "Unique Visitors," and the last two "Hits" and "Bandwidth" can be taken at face value. "Unique Visitors" counts unique IP addresses that are hitting the site, so it's a fairly accurate count of actual humans reading Boing Boing. (If anything, its count is a bit low, as it does not account for sites like AOL which may have one IP address for thousands of unique users.) The "Hits" and "Bandwidth" columns count just about anything that moves on the site, so they are fine measurements of how "busy" the site is. But the other two columns - "Pages" and "Number of Visits" - are more difficult to understand. They are AWStats' best guess as to how many total visits a site gets, as well as how many pages are actually viewed by those visitors. These columns have always disregarded image and video files, but because a lot of our traffic comes from RSS readers, they are certainly inflated by some amount.

But how much? It's anyone's guess. We're working with Feedburner (link), among others, to figure that out, but until we know, we prefer not to hazard one of our own. What we do know is that those middle columns had been inflated by php files recently added to the site by advertisements, so we filtered those out.

We hope that posting these stats will be one small step toward the blogosphere working out the moving target of "standards" for measuring traffic to blogs - Mark Fletcher of Bloglines has done some good preliminary work (link) along those lines. As we learn more, we'll keep you posted.

ESPN website free to call Evel Knievel "a pimp," court says

A US appeals court ruled today that motorcycle stunt deity Evel Knievel cannot sue ESPN for publishing his photo online with two women above the caption "You're never too old to be a pimp."
The term "pimp" was probably intended as a compliment, the court said. But Knievel said, "What good is law in the United States of America if five or six goddamn bimbos are going to rule against it?"
Link. And, ROFLcopter! (Thanks, Jason!)

Happy Birthday, Mars Rovers

One year ago this month, Mars welcomed two new visitors: The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Link to JPL website with a look back. Do androids dream of electric cakes? (Thanks David!)

Googling unsecured webcams

Cleverly-aliased BoingBoing reader numlok whispers:
This is both very cool and very scary. Use this search string below with Google, and you will find dozens (hundreds?) of unsecured webcam feeds (most seem to be security cams).


Link. More background here.

BoingBoing reader Nick adds, "This is a Google search that gives 2000 cams instead of just 800. Pointed out on MeFi."

Update to this post with more webcam Google-hacks: Link

Online video of 60 Minutes Google seg (with John Battelle)

Here's last Sunday's 60 Minutes segment about Google, including comment from BoingBoing's John Battelle. Link to video (divx), and Link to previous BB post with details. (thanks, matthowie!)

New Creative Commons remix website

BB pal Matt Haughey sez,
We're having a party in San Francisco on Thursday night (Link), and we recently launched a remix community site that tracks samples across songs uploaded (here's a good example track: Link). We're doing a contest with Wired Magazine to launch it, where the winner of the best Fine Arts Militia/Chuck D remix gets on their next CD!
Link to CCMixter, and Link to contest details.

The future of webcomics

Joey Manley sez: "The Webcomics Examiner has posted a great panel session on 'The Future of Webcomics.' The highlight is Shaenon Garrity's story about the young Cartoon Art Museum volunteer who diagnosed himself as "Surface Six" (a reference to a section of "Understanding Comics" where McCloud describes the slow growth of a true cartoon artist -- "Surface: Six" is one of the steps along the way). Link

Graphic Novel review

The latest Graphic Novel Review is out, and it has an interview with Harvey Pekar, as well as a cover by the late Will Eisner and Gary Chaloner. Link

NYT: Blogs fact-check their own asses in tsunami debate

Another insightful piece from John Schwartz at the New York Times about unsubstantiated rumors that spread online after the tsunami (example: Halliburton must have been behind it all). Story examines how bloggers reacted quickly to debunk falsehoods as they emerged, a sort of inherently self-healing trait evident in many online communities. I was among those interviewed for the piece, but as usual, others had far more interesting things to say.
[James Surowiecki, the author of "The Wisdom of Crowds"] pointed out that there is nothing new about ill-informed rumor-mongering or other forms of oddness. "There were always cranks," he said. "Rumors have always been fundamental about the way people talk, or think, about politics or complicated issues." Instead of a corner bar or a Barcalounger, however, the location for today's speech is an online medium with a potential audience of millions.

But there is another, more important difference, Mr. Surowiecki and others say. Internet discourse can be self-correcting, with near-instant feedback from readers. What was lost in the sniping over the Democratic Underground posting was the fact that the follow-up comments were a sober discussion of what actually causes earthquakes. The first response to the posting asked, "Earthquakes have been happening since the beginning of time ... How would you explain them?"

Further comments explained the movement of tectonic plates and provided links to sites explaining earthquakes and tsunamis from the United States Geological Survey and other authoritative sources.

"Not to make fun, as I'm sure it's not a unique misconception ... but the reality is simple plate tectonics," one participant wrote. "The entire Pacific Ocean is slowly but surely closing in on itself. What happened is that the floor of the Indian Ocean slid over part of the Pacific Ocean, releasing massive tension in the Earth's crust.

"That's it. No mystic injury to the Gaia spirit or anything."

I know some folks have their digital knickers in a twist over the story's headline (Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate), but I don't see anti-blog bias here. On the contrary, strikes me as a reasoned piece that traces how bloggers collectively sought to correct the record within their sphere of discourse. I would, however, like to point out that Mr. Schwartz totally missed the fact that an alarming number of blogs are in fact penned from corner bars and barcaloungers, thanks to the wonders of WiFi. Blowhards, unite! Link

Famous moments recreated with Half Life

This Half Life 2 player is recreating famous moments in history using in-game characters and scenery. Link/ mirror (via Waxy)

Ancient animation from Iran

The world's first animation? An earthen goblet created 5000 years ago and recently unearthed in southeastern Iran depicts a goat jumping toward a tree and munching on its leaves. Link (includes a short animated AVI) (Thanks, Isaac).

Creepy NSA marker

Found in National Vigilance Park, Ft. Meade, MD, next to NSA Headquarters: creepy NSA marker, with biblical reference for extra-specialness. Link, and link to website for the park. (Thanks, Romanpoet).

New Ken Courtney t-shirt

Brooklyn anticouturista Ken Courtney made some new shirts. Say it with diamonds: Link. On a related note, someone IMed me a joke yesterday.

Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb.
A: What, you mean you don't KNOW??????

Link to Ken's latest, and link to background.

How to weave a wallet out of paper money

Beautifully-made site shows you how to make a wallet out of 12 20 one-dollar bills. Link (Thanks, Tony!)

Glenn Fleishman on digital radio

Glenn Fleishman sez: "I wrote my own take on a Wired News story about the RIAA's lobbying of the FCC to get broadcast flags embedded in digital radio content. Digital radio is now offered by about 150 AM/FM stations in the U.S. even though only about 10,000 to 35,000 (estimated) high-definition or HD radios that can receive the digital content were sold in 2004. Terrestrial digital AM/FM will grow to at least 2,000 stations by 2007, and millions of receivers by 2008, according to analysts. With HD, AM stations sound like FM (and don't disappear in underpasses) and FM stations sound like CD quality. Reportedly! I haven't heard it yet." Link

Home Hacking Projects for Geeks

O'Reilly Media has just published Home Hacking Projects for Geeks, featuring 13 fun home automation projects for your house. I drew the illustrations for the book, and enjoyed reading about the projects the authors came up with.
 Catalog Covers Homehpfg.SThe thirteen projects in "Home Hacking Projects for Geeks" are divided into three categories: Home Automation, Home Entertainment Systems, and Security. The book includes projects such as:

-Remotely Monitor Your Pet
-Make Your House Talk
-Remotely Control Your Computer's MP3 player
-Create Time-Shifted FM Radio
-Watch Your House Across the Network
-Build a Home Security System


New Cool Tools newsletter

Good stuff in the latest Cool Tools newsletter, including affordable satellite phone service, a neat newspaper article clipper, and a miracle product for your windshield called Rain-X.
P090Ee2B1 53 Sheeting water on a glass surface, like a windshield, causes significant distortion in the light/images passing through the glass because it isn't perfectly smooth.  Rain-X causes the water to bead up so that spaces between the beads give you clear vision of what's ahead.  While this is clearly evident during rainstorms, it is UNBELIEVEABLY DIFFERENT during rainstorms at night.  You can actually SEE!


Make News No. 3

Here's the latest edition of Make News, the newsletter for Make magazine (I'm the editor in chief). I'm looking for "Challenge" ideas (see below) and I'm also looking for article and review ideas for the second issue. If you want contributor guidelines, email me at Make News No. 3 -- MAKE subscriptions now available!

December 22, 2004

Welcome to the third issue of MAKE News, the email newsletter for MAKE, a how-to technology project magazine published by O'Reilly Media.

(Note: If you entered the Build the Perfect PC Sweepstakes, you are receiving this newsletter once because you requested information about MAKE. To continue to receive this newsletter, sign up at under the newsletter sign up link.)

Happy Holidays and Subscription Announcement

I like the holidays for many reasons. One of them is because it gives me a great excuse to buy new gear. My new digital video camera--which I ordered last week so I can record my kids opening their toys on Christmas--is due any day. I'm also looking around for a photograph printer--I'm weighing the advantages and disadvantages of dye sublimation vs. inkjet (dye sub is winning so far). If my money doesn't run out, I'm going to finally upgrade my beloved Sony Cybershot-U digital camera for another camera with a zoom lens. With these three things in my arsenal of digital tools, I'll be all set to capture the upcoming festivities.

When someone asks me what they should get their technology- loving relatives and friends as a gift for the holidays, I'm not shy about telling them to give a subscription to MAKE. To launch our subscription effort, we have a special offer for readers of this newsletter. Subscribe using this link and you'll get the first volume of MAKE for free.

Here's how it works. The annual subscription price for four volumes is $34.95. When you subscribe with this link, you'll get the first issue plus four more quarterly volumes for $34.95. So subscribe for yourself or friends with our very best offer for charter subscribers: five volumes for the cost of four. Be sure you get the premiere volume of MAKE. Subscribe at:

The MAKE Meta-Challenge

I'm looking forward to the ideas for cool projects that readers are going to submit in the coming months. One thing we're working on is a way for people to share their projects with other people on the MAKE website. We'll have some great image- importing and annotation tools. Look for it in late January.

The other thing we're featuring is a "MAKE Challenge" that will appear in every issue of magazine. We'll present readers with a problem (for example, "My neighbor's dog won't stop barking. How can I get it to shut up in a humane, yet effective way?") and ask for solutions to the problem.

To get the "MAKE Challenge" started, I'd like you to email me a technology-related problem you'd like solved. Here's an example of a real-world problem looking for a solution, sent to me by Marc Goodner:

"I have had discussions recently with a number of other camphone enthusiasts who all love them for the poor quality--the artifacts in the images, the unexpected results. The problem is, the images are just too small. An idea came out of these discussions that what would be really cool: a repurposed digicam that has a larger chip but modified to work as a pinhole camera by removing the lens. Is such a thing possible? I don't know. I don't have the skills and neither do any of the guys I know who are interested in this since most of us are software guys. Seems like a good project for MAKE magazine."

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Email me at If I like it, it might get used as a "MAKE Challenge."

Happy Holidays!

Mark Frauenfelder Editor in Chief Make

MAKE subscriptions now available! Get the first volume free when you become a charter subscriber at:

Will Eisner, RIP (1917-2005)

 Products Full 6128-2 Chris Arrant sez: "Artist, cartoonist and storyteller Will Eisner ( has passed away at the age of 87, from complications from heart surgery." Link

Feds say filesharing war = drug war

Russell Page sez: This is a bit of an interesting story at CNN about filesharing:
"There are a lot of similarities with the drug war," said David Israelite, chairman of the U.S. Justice Department's Intellectual Property Task Force. "You never really are going to eliminate the problem, but what you hope to do is stop its growth."

Cory and Charlie Stross on the cover of Locus

The January issue of Locus Magazine, the science fiction trade magazine, has a cover story on me and Charlie Stross, my friend and collaborator. I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it. Link (Thanks, Amanda!)

Update: Locus has posted an excerpt from their interview with me.

Russian Jimi Hendrix covers

Emef sez, " has been collecting covers of Jimi Hendrix songs from people like Foxy & Biven from Moscow or Aleksandr Antipov from Minsk... They've been running a contest for covers of 'Little Wing' in the years 2001-2002, 'Manic Depression' in 2002-2003 and 'Hey Joe' in 2004." (Thanks, Emef!)

Rational calendar with 364 days, extra week celebrating Isaac Newton

An American physicist has developed a "rational" calendar of 364 days, in which each date falls on the same day of the week every year, thus saving profs the bother of drawing up new homework schedules every September.
His constraints meant eight months would have different lengths than they do now. March, June, September, and December would each contain 31 days, while the other months would each get 30. To keep the calendar in synchronisation with the seasons, Henry inserted an extra week - which is not part of any month - every five or six years. He named the addition "Newton Week" in honour of his favourite physicist, Isaac Newton.

"If I had my way, everyone would get Newton Week off as a paid vacation and could spend the time doing physics, or other activities of their choice," he says.

Despite this incentive, Henry says he has encountered resistance to his plan - mainly because people would be "stuck" with a birthday that always falls on a Wednesday, for example. Henry, who is among that group, is not moved by the argument. "You have my permission to celebrate your birthday the preceding or following Saturday," he says.

Link (via Wired News)

Update: Rick sez, "Here's Dick Henry's own page on calendar reform, and here is the proposed Newton Calendar itself."

Indian state getting $2.50 2Mbit broadband

Andhra Pradesh is a state in India where the government has just awarded a contract to a consortium of companies to roll out 2Mb/s broadband to every village, at a monthly cost of about US$2.50.
A consortium led by Gurgaon-based Aksh Broadband Limited has been selected to implement the Rs 400-crore Andhra Pradesh broadband project, which aims at extending broadband services to each and every village of the state in the next two years.
Link (via /.)