Boing Boing 

WalMart tried to confiscate journo's camera

A naked man streaked a Wal-Mart in Maryland, and a freelance news photographer snapped some pics. Wal-Mart sent out a goon who demanded that he turn over his camera and not take or publish photos of Wal-Mart without permission.
"He said if I didn't turn the camera over to him, he would have me arrested" and ban him from the store, Roy said.

Attorney Mary R. Craig, who represents The Herald-Mail, said Roy "certainly was well within his rights" to take pictures.

The store can set limits, such as on taking pictures inside, but the expectation of privacy probably is less outside, she said.

She said Roy probably didn't violate anyone's privacy, especially the naked man's.

Alice Neff Lucan, an attorney who represents the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association, said Wal-Mart "emphatically" had no right to demand Roy's camera.

"He didn't violate any of Wal-Mart's rights and he didn't violate the streaker's rights," she said. "He just took a picture of what was in the public's view."

Link (via Dan Gillmor)

Distributed journalism as practiced by bloggers and the NYT

Dan Gillmor describes "distributed journalism" as practiced at time by bloggers, and explains how this kind of activity has been practiced by professional news organizations for years.
I think of distributed journalism as somewhat analogous to any project or problem that can be broken up into little pieces, where lots of people can work in parallel on small parts of the bigger question and collectively -- and relatively quickly -- bring to bear lots of individual knowledge and/or energy to the matter. Some open-source software projects work this way. The important thing is the parallel activity by large numbers of people, in service of something that would be difficult if not impossible for any one or small group of them to do alone, at least in a timely way.

Distributed journalism isn't new. Professionals have been doing it for a long time. When I was the Vermont stringer for the New York Times, back in the early 1980s, the paper's National Desk would occasionally put the word out to stringers in all 50 states, asking them, for example, to call state government people about some topic or another and send a memo back to New York. The same kind of thing is done all the time by major publications with their own staffers on big stories. One person may write the piece, but a collection of many, many reporters does the legwork.


HOWTO turn a t-shirt into panties

If you've experienced the heartbreak of wearing out a beloved t-shirt, despair no longer. Here is a recipe for turning an old t-shirt into a pair of knickers.
Find a clean (if you care) shirt that strikes your fancy. I have used shirts with printed pictures or words, anything I thought would look good on my butt. You might not want to use your prized material possession if it's your first time. Figure out if you have enough material for underwear (see item 1 above), and cut out the two main pattern pieces. You can cut the crotch piece out of the same material, or you can use a new fresh T-shirt or whatever. (I keep a few Hanes white undershirts on hand.)
Link (via Preshrunk)

LiveJournal announces sale to Six Apart

It's official. LiveJournal founder Brad Fitzpatrick says:
Why is Six Apart buying LiveJournal? Lots of reasons:

* Our companies are more alike than different.
* We both use Perl.
* Together we form super robot that's stronger than the sum of its parts.
* Super robots can fight super companies.
* They respect us, we respect them.
* We have a number of features they don't.
* We have experience with making "inward-facing" community sites, whereas their sites/products tend to be "outward-facing". They want some of that inward-facing action.
* Because we're awesome.

What does this mean for LiveJournal? Nothing earth-shattering. LiveJournal development and support will continue, and will probably even accelerate, as we grow the team. We'll continue to work on speed, reliability, and new features. LiveJournal won't become paid-user-only or anything crazy like that. We're not going to raise prices. We're not going to cancel permanent accounts, etc, etc. And we're not going to spam or sell your information. You own your journals, not us. Really you shouldn't see any negative changes. The most immediate changes will be that we'll start to get prettier... more styles, themes, etc. Six Apart is really good at that and we're not.

Link to announcement. (thanks marginalia and Perian)

Update: And Six Apart announces their side of the story here: Link.

Bill Gates: Free Culture advocates = Commies

I imagine my blog-mate Cory might have a few things to say about this when he's online again. :-) In an interview on, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates described free culture advocates as a "modern-day sort of communists." Well now.
Q: "In recent years, there's been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, 'We've got to look at patents, we've got to look at copyrights.' What's driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?

A: "No, I'd say that of the world's economies, there's more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist.

And this debate will always be there. I'd be the first to say that the patent system can always be tuned--including the U.S. patent system. There are some goals to cap some reform elements. But the idea that the United States has led in creating companies, creating jobs, because we've had the best intellectual-property system--there's no doubt about that in my mind, and when people say they want to be the most competitive economy, they've got to have the incentive system. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future."

Link (Thanks, Rick Prelinger, and Nathan Slaughter).

BB reader Matt Bradley said, "Obviously, what we need is a large red flag with a gold copyleft in the upper left, replacing the hammer and sickle."

That sounded like a fine idea, so I whipped up the icon you see here. Enjoy, comrades!

Update: More Creative Commies propaganda here. Link one, Link two.

Report: Six Apart announcing Livejournal buyout Thursday

Following up on yesterday's BoingBoing post (based on tips from two sources who requested anonymity), and this entry spotted subsequently on Om Malik's blog -- eWeek reports that the rumors have been "confirmed," and Six Apart is indeed planning to announce the acquisition of LiveJournal tomorrow. Link

XM CEO in the hotseat over Stern, Dr. Laura at CES

Shown here, a snapshot of XM's CEO Hugh Panero at the CES show in Vegas today. If he looks like he has a terrible headache, that's because Jason Calacanis just gave him one. Jason says:
We just got back from the XM press conference at CES and we got to ask him two questions -- we made them zingers of course: Question one: “What impact do you think Howard Stern going to Sirius is going to have on your business, and how close did you come to signing him?” As you can see from his expression he was really excited about answering this one).

Question two: “Dr. Laura over the past couple of years said that gay people are biological errors. You talked before about decisive programming (i.e. Stern), I wonder what XM’s position is on hate speech was and if you condone it. And why would you associate yourself with her after you said you wouldn’t associate with Howard Stern because of controversy issues. Are you going to lose subscribers, and do you feel gay people are biological errors?”

Link to post, Link to video for the Stern/Sirius question (WMV) and link to the Dr. Laura question (WMV).

NPPA photojournalism contest open to photobloggers

The NPPA holds annual awards for excellence in photojournalism -- this year's contest is accepting entries now, and winners will be judged and posted in March. There's also a web division which is open to independent photo sites; rules are here. Photobloggers, heed the call! You're welcome to enter, and it costs nothing.

Winners from last year's competition are online, and include this stunning series of images by Mark Zaleski about people who work with the dead for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in California. Snip from description for this image: "Pathologists and technicians examine the remains for a woman during an autopsy in the autopsy suite. Each body brought into the Riverside County Sheriff Coroner Bureau is tagged with the individuals identification information."
Link to Zaleski's photos (warning: some are gruesome), Link to another particularly striking series by NPPA winner David Hoegsholt -- portraits of a drug-addicted prostitute in Copenhagen. (Thanks, Susannah, and thanks also to Keith W. Jenkins, Photography Editor for The Washington Post Magazine and Best of Photojournalism on the Web Contest Coordinator.).

HOWTO: Knit dim-sum-shaped toys for your cat

Catnip-filled kitty toys shaped like won tons and eggrolls are the subject of this online HOWTO, with step-by-step instructions and photos. I'm not really the knitty type of chick -- I mean, the needles I'm around generally have something to do with tattoos, piercings, travel vaccines, or the kind you drop on vinyl. But is such a great site, I'm almost tempted to try. OK, almost.
Link to feature. (Thanks, Mara!).

"Lonely Island"-er Andy Samberg on Comedy Central

Andy Samberg (whom you may recall from such previously-Boinged hits as and Channel101) will be doing stand-up on Comedy Central's Premium Blend this Friday at 10pm. For those whose blog-term memory returns no results on a query for Mr. Samberg's work -- The 'BU, Just 2 Guyz, Nintendo, and The Heist are excellent places to start. (Thanks, Macki)

Reader-annotated edition of Neal Stephenson's "Command Line"

Boing Boing reader Alex says,
With Neal Stephenson's permission, this guy has annotated In the Beginning was the Command line and posted it online for everyone to see. I think this is a great example of how works can evolve and be improved upon. Unfortunately, In the Command Line has not been 'set free', but it's great that the author was able and willing to give permission for this development.

CNN "Crossfire" host Carlson to stop hurting America

More Jon Stewart/Crossfire fallout? CNN has announced that it will not renew Tucker Carlson's contract, and the days of "Crossfire" may be numbered. Said CNN chief Jonathan Klein: "I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp." Link (Thanks, Doug Hammond)

A Kafka day at the Los Angeles traffic ticket office

In November, my wife, Carla Frauenfelder, was driving home when a Los Angeles Police officer pulled her over. He ticketed her for making an illegal left turn.

The next day, with her ticket in hand, I entered the url for the website listed on the ticket ( I wanted to pay the fine and sign her up for driving school so our car insurance rates wouldn't increase. The website couldn't find the ticket. I tried searching for it both by entering the ticket number and by entering my wife's driver license number. No luck. So I called the phone number on the ticket. The woman who answered said there was no record of the ticket. She said my wife would have to drive to the ticket office on Penfield St, in Chatsworth to take care of it.

So, my wife drove there on January 5th and showed the woman at the counter the ticket. The woman entered the ticket number and nothing came up. She scratched her head for a minute, and then noticed that the police officer forgot to write a date on the ticket. Apparently, that screws everything up.

The woman told my wife what the fine is (about $135), but told her that she could not accept payment for the fine, because the ticket is not in the database. My wife is not allowed to attend driving school, either, because the ticket isn't in the database.

The woman instructed my wife to call the court every day week, to find out if the ticket had been entered into the computer yet. Once it shows up, she is supposed to drive to the ticket office the very next day to take care of it. And once the ticket has been entered, she is going to be hit with a penalty and possibly a warrrant for her arrest, because once the information goes into the computer it'll see that she hasn't paid the fine yet, and it will be flagged as delinquent. My wife will then have to explain the situation to another helpful city employee.

My wife asked the woman how it long will take for the ticket to be entered into the computer system. The woman said she had no idea. My wife asked her if she is going to have to call every day week for the next several years. She shrugged and said "Well, it might take a week, it might take six months, I don't know."

My wife asked again if she could just pay the fine and have it apply to the ticket when it finally does show up. Woman: "Nope."

I'm at a loss for what to do here. If you have a good idea please email me and let me know if you do! UPDATE: We ended up WINNING! Here's a follow-up post, and here's the thrilling conclusion.

Weird color problem

Picture 1-2 (Click thumbnail for enlargement.) Anyone know why the body copy shows in gold in IE on OS X? It seems fine on Safari and Firefox. Please email me if you know the answer. (Also, thanks to everyone for your great design suggestions. As you can see, I've incorporated quite a few of them.)

Shirky: Wikipedia is better than Brittanica on net-centric axes

Clay Shirky's posted more about Wikipedia on Many2Many, responding to danah boyd's post about how Wikipedia won't be an encylopedia. The thing Clay really nails this time in the idea that "new media don't succeed because they're like the old media, only better: they succeed because they're worse than the old media at the stuff the old media is good at, and better at the stuff the old media are bad at."
And of course, sometimes Wikipedia is better, since, as with the Indian Ocean tsunami example, Britannica simply has no offering. So, at the margin, a casual user who wants free access to a Web site that offers a communally-compiled and non-authoritative overview of a recent event will prefer the Wikipedia to nothing, which is what Britannica offers. In this case, Wikipedia comes out on top, and walking along several of those axes like cost, availability, topicality, and breadth of coverage, Wikipedia has the advantage, and in many cases, that advantage is increasing with time

Now Britannica doesn't want this to be true (god, do they not want this to be true) and so they try to create litmus tests around authoritativeness -- "WARNING: Do not read anything that does not come from an institutional source!" But this is as silly as audiophiles dismissing the MP3 format because it wasn't an improvement in audio quality, missing entirely that the package of "moderate quality+improved cost and distribution" was what made the format great. Considering MP3 as nothing more than a lossy compression scheme missed the bundle of services that it enabled.


EFF reviews freedom-loving MacOS high-def TV toy

With only half a year left until the FCC criminalizes watching television without DRM (thanks to the loathsome Broadcast Flag), it's time to start stocking up on open hardware that can tune, record and manipulate digital TV signals without Hollywood's irrational, paranoid shackles.

If you've got a Mac, that means scoring one of El Gato's new EyeTV 500s, a device that can move digital TV shows form your rabbit ears or your cable wire to your Mac in glorious high-def, as plan-jane MPEGs that you can manipulate, share, rip, mix and burn till the cows come home.

My cow-orker Fred von Lohmann, EFF's Senior Intellectual Property Lawyer, is also a certified hi-fi nut, gearhead, and gadget freak. He scored a review-unit of the EyeTV 500 and wrote up a review of its freedom-enhancing capabilities.

As a demo of those capabilities, EFF is hosting a five minute high-def clip from Fellowship of the Rings (Torrent Link), which occupies a thunderous 500MB of hard-drive (!). The studios argued that the Broadcast Flag was necessary to keep viewers from sharing high-def movies over the Internet -- at 500MB per five minutes, that seems a little far-fetched.

The tiny silver lining here is that if you can get an open, freedom-loving digital television tuner between now and the summer, you'll be able to go on doing practically anything you like with the digital television you receive over the air and with your unencrypted cable signal. If you choose to do this by plugging a DTV tuner into your computer, you'll be able to archive your shows on your hard-drive, manipulate them with your favorite editing software, and email clips to your friends.

Japanese fan-made game: Ie, Tatemasu!

On the terrific, offbeat videogame website "Insert Credit," we find this cultural exegesis of a Japanese gay porn video game. Screenshots included, and they're relatively worksafe because the... um... protuberances... are blocked with pics of cute anime girls. Cute anime girls with third eyes, that is. Snip:
The game I am about to pick as my "Game of the Year 2004" is called Ie, Tatemasu! ("let’s build your house!", as they say on the guide book); it’s a fan-made erotic game. And the most basic type, too: a simulation game. For those of you not familiar with the genre, you basically see the character you’re supposed to be talking to, read the dialogue, and sometimes make a choice (between, for example: "go to the pachinko" or "pay a visit to this character"). Sometimes, when, hum, something visual happens that words would be unfit to describe properly, you are shown a still illustration of the scene while the text still runs down the CG. Basically, these games are very, very slow slideshows of pornographic drawings with a lot of text, and very few interactive elements.
Link (Thanks, Chris Baker!).

Homeland security warns of Casio watches as bomb triggers

Off in the distance, I can hear the wailing of the hipsters and the rending of their ironic garments. Boing Boing reader Christian Cantrell says,
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a warning to the Transportation Security Administration recently stating that al-Qaida may attempt to use watches with cigarette lighters or Casio watches with built-in altimeters to detonate bombs on board US airliners. Apparently, the altimeters built into some Casio watches can be modified to detonate bombs at certain altitudes. They are apparently favored by cost-conscious terrorists since Casio watches are affordable and easily obtained.
Link (via)

Thai boxer photos to benefit tsunami victims

Photographer Clayton Cubitt, whose work I've posted about here many times, says:
I've created an edition of prints to benefit the Tsunami disaster relief efforts. This edition was printed exclusively for this benefit auction, and I won't be making any more prints in this size of these images. Ever.

The edition consists of two 13x19-inch prints, portraits I made of Thai kickboxers exactly one year ago at Lumpinee Stadium, Bangkok. These are beautiful pigment prints (if I do say so myself), personally printed by me on Hahnemuhle heavy-weight art paper, hand-signed and numbered (1/1).

100% of the proceeds will be donated through eBay's "Giving Works" system to Unicef's Tsunami Relief Fund.

Link to auction page (alternate url Link). Details of the images, Link one and Link two.

Tweaking the design

Thanks for all the great comments about BB's redesign. I think it is great that so many people really care about this. Most people seemed to hate the orange background, so I turned it back to white for now. How do you like it now? The next thing I'm going to do is make the text column variable-width again. Please email your comments to me!

More Googleable unsecured webcams

Following up on yesterday's post about how to sniff out publicly-viewable webcams (whose operators may not be fully aware that said webcams are publicly viewable), Boing Boing reader George Hotelling says:
Did you know there's a whole site dedicated to finding interesting stuff via Google? Link, and check out or the "" site.
And reader Victor Gregorio says:
Here is a search that finds Axis webcams..
Link. Reader Jonathan offers yet another string for Axis cams, Link, and says "They're particularly fun since they tend to have multiple frames per second, so you get something almost full motion." I just tried this and found a cool barnyard in Japan where goats and baby cows were frolicking in the dirt with ducks.

Update: More here.

Old magazine art

 General Technical Electricalexperimenter Tn Electricalexperimenter1917-11 Great website devoted to beautiful old magazine art. I guess all of the best artists today are involved in movies and TV. Back in the old days, they worked for magazines. Link

Super Mario mosiac made from post-its

A Super Mario mosaic made out of post-it notes -- brilliant! Link

Boing Boing's redesign

You might have noticed that we've tweaked Boing Boing's design, and have added a new ad banner along the top. We have removed the network text link advertising because we wanted to experiment with other kinds of ads.

We're always interested in hearing your suggestions for other design changes to improve legibility and usability. Feel free to email them to us, and put "BB design" in the subject field.

Agony Column on Cory's next novel

Rick Kleffel's "Agony Column" has a fun piece on my next book, and the thing I'm working on these days:
Now however, Doctorow has taken a very different track. His forthcoming novel, 'Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town' (Tor Books / Tom Doherty Associates ; May 1, 2005 ; $24.95) is in the first place coming to town a bit later in the year. The early draft I first read of this novel was nearly three times as long as 'Eastern Standard Tribe'. But the big ch-ch-ch-changes come as Doctorow turns to face the strangeness not of a science fictional future, but instead a fantastically rendered present. Alan, the protagonist of 'Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town', is a middle-aged man who moves into a bohemian neighborhood of Toronto. He only barely fits in with the college-roomie types next door, and that's even before the gal who lives there reveals to him that she has wings that grow back even if she cuts 'em off.

Alan is a sensitive guy, and he understands, because, we're told, his father is a mountain and his mother is a washing machine. This is clearly the type of reproduction that will not be taught in your hygiene classes. So, you know, when one of his brothers, a set of nested Russian nesting dolls, shows up on his doorstep starving because the innermost doll has disappeared, you can imagine that the whole family relationship issue is a bit more complex than usual. Especially since brother Davey, whom Alan and his other siblings killed years ago, may have returned, bent on revenge.

What's a guy like Alan to do but hook up with a cybergeek who plans to blanket Toronto with free wireless Internet access? I've got to admit that under the circumstances set out by Doctorow, that seems like a more than reasonable reaction. Now as to how readers will react to the novel, well, that's a different matter entirely. I'm totally engrossed by this slight shift for Doctorow from the purely technological to the absurd and fantastic. That's because Doctorow writes with the kind of hardheaded humor and logic that makes one suspect this book will be a mind-boggling delight. And perhaps a bit of a revelation for Doctorow's audience, which could really grow to include a swathe of readers who enjoy literary fantasy.


A MusicPlasma for blogs

John Battelle is proposing a MusicPlasma for blogs, that is, a graphical way to map out the blogosphere by grouping related blogs. He's already got people interested in the idea.
Then I thought of MusicPlasma. The thing I like about it is how intuitive it is - put in the name of a band you like, and you find more that you might like but had never heard of.

Hey, I thought, what if we did that with blogs, and instead of Amazon data, we used Technorati cosmos data, or Feedster data, or Findory, or Bloglines, or some combination of all of that plus more?


Stunning little $100 automatons

Picture 1-1 These Japanese language website sells some incredible-looking science projects. The only English words on the site are "Sophisticated Science Kit Series for Adults." The Karakuri puppets they sell are scale reproductions of actual historical Japanese automatons, and the videos are stunning.

Greg sez: "Following the link to Gakken's toy site mentioned in your recent post regarding the phonograph kit, I was excited to see a working model of the bow-shooting boy (hiki douji kara kuri ningyou). Be sure to check out the video.

During a recent trip to Japan, I saw a television show about about these--no, not the toys, the original automatons. (The real one is much larger than this model.) I was amazed at the complexity of that machine. I am even more amazed that they have replicated the function in a tiny model that costs only $100! Link

Lawyers attempt to flush again

Mike of Techdirt sez: A year ago, you linked to the story we had about the Greater Toronto Airport Authority telling the site that it was against the law to mention their name (and put a picture of one of their urinals) on their site.

Well, now it appears that someone else is reacting badly to that same site. Not only did the company (the Marco Beach Ocean Resort) say that couldn't mention their name, they also claimed that their cease & desist letter could not be forwarded or shown to anyone... Link

Howard Rheingold's "Mobile and Open" manifesto

Howard Rheingold wrote a great manifesto for TheFeature outlining what he thinks it is going to take to create a healthy and diverse mobile mediasphere. He invites your comments at the site.
The devices that most people on earth will carry or wear in coming decades could become platforms for technical and entrepreneurial innovation, foundations for industries that don't exist yet, enablers of social and political change. However, it is far from certain that mobile media will go the route of the PC, where teenage dropouts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and millions of others actively shaped the technology, or the Internet, where search engines were invented in dorm rooms and innovators like Tim Berners-Lee gave away the World Wide Web for free without asking permission or changing any wiring.

Powerful interests recognize the dangers such a world poses for business models that depend on controlling and metering access to content, conduit, or services for a mass market, and they are acting to protect their interests. That's what digital rights management, extension of copyright laws into what formerly had been the public domain, the broadcast flag, spectrum regulation policies that favor archaic technologies and incumbent licensees, trusted computing systems that bake all these rules into monopoly silicon are about.


Tallest bridge

 Images 02,2This is a photo from orbit of the brand new 1.5 mile Millau viaduct in southern France. It's the world's tallest road bridge, standing 900 feet at its highest point above the Tarn River. Link