Boing Boing 

Bush disassembles English language, again

When asked at today's press conference about Amnesty International's report criticizing America's treatment of detainees, President Bush called the claims "absurd." According to the White House transcript, he also said:
"It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth."
My brother Bob Pescovitz comments, "I always thought 'disassemble' meant 'to take apart,' but maybe that's 'dissemble.' But his wife is a librarian so I guess I'm wrong."

Even more ridiculous than Bush using the wrong word is the fact that the Chicago Tribune had the nerve to kindly correct his mistake when quoting him! Link to White House transcript, Link to Chicago Tribune article (republished at KansasCity.com, BugMeNot's login worked for me. Email: icantkick@mailinator.com, Password: oregon1)

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who pointed out that "dissemble" was yesterday's Dictionary.com "Word of the Day." Link

Bob Baker Marionettes

Picture 4-4 Kim Cooper says: "Bob Baker's Marionette theater in downtown LA has a fantastic new Mexican-themed show called 'Allegre!' that the Bubblegum Queen and I caught this morning, along with a busload of Head Start kiddies from Pomona. 'Allegre!' is a little mature for this audience, but they seemed to dig it.

"The show's centerpiece is a black light extravaganza featuring an all-skeleton cast grooving to 'Hernando's Hideaway.' There are painted ladies, a terrifying bony clown who juggles a skull, monsters playing vibes on a dinosaur's ribs and, unbelievably, a pair of fleshless burlesque beauties with tassles where their tatas should be. One does a classic Sally Rand fan dance!

"'Allegre!' is $10, plus you get free ice cream in the party room after the show. Highly recommended.
Link (More from Boing Boing on Bob Baker Marionettes here)

Creepy products from "Best Children's Products"

Picture 3-5 Picture 2-4 Here are my picks for the two creepiest products on this page of "best children's products." The O'Pair is a rope to attach a kid to an adult and was "designed to be a more socially acceptable and safe alternative to a child's leash or harness."

The Take-Out-Time-Out is a mat you are supposed to make your kids sit on when they've misbehaved. Bonus creepiness: "TAKE-OUT-TIME-OUT can be used anywhere anytime (home, store, restaurant, playground, etc.)." Imagine the psychological scars you'll inflict on your child by making him sit on this pad in a restaurant.
Link (Thanks, Peggy!)

Photobooth enthusiasm

 Artists Photography Costa Images Hc 4 Grid Man Small VersionMark Pike, co-creator of the Duke Photobooth Project, sent in a link to the 7th International Photobooth Convention in St. Louis. Unfortunately, today is the last day of the convention, but some of the organizers also maintain an excellent clearinghouse for deep photobooth knowledge, including an active blog, list of locations around the country, and photobooth art. Seen here: Herman Costa's "Grid man (Small version)," 1986, 4 uncut black & white photobooth strips Link

Deep Throat revealed?

W. Mark Felt was Deep Throat, claims Vanity Fair. In 2003, students at the University of Illinois presented a convincing case that Fred Fielding was Woodward and Bernstein's key source when they broke the Watergate story in the Washington Post. But Felt, formerly the #2 spook in the FBI, says he really was the guy. Link

UPDATE: The identity of Deep Throat has been confirmed as W. Mark Felt. From CNN:
"W. Mark Felt was 'Deep Throat' and helped us immeasurably in our Watergate coverage," according to a statement issued by Woodward and Bernstein.

"However, as the record shows, many other sources and officials assisted us and other reporters for the hundreds of stories that were written in The Washington Post about Watergate."
Link

America's supersized asses demand supersized toilet seats

Boing Boing reader Caines says,
This is in response to Xeni's "Obesity in America leads to boom in sales of larger chairs" post -- The Great John Toilet Co. is cashing in on the obesity problem as well. Their "Size Friendly" toilet is wider and a bit taller than a normal toilet. They even have a nice flash comparison movie of the "Extra-Elongated Ergonomic Seat".
Link

Gallery of home-built bikes

 Scooterdon  Highlander 3 Bikeforest has a nice photograph gallery of homemade bikes, scooters, and tricycles.
Link

Uncle Neptune's old timey music

I just discovered the music of Uncle Neptune. You can download three CDs worth of pleasant 1920s and 1930a era ukulele ditties from his site.
Link

Video-casting for the PSP: pspdrive.com

Julian Bleecker says,
Some pals recently hacked together this vidcasting site designed for the PSP. Collectively, we knew this sort of thing would happen, and now it's happening. The content isn't there, but the framework is awfully compelling. Next, I suspect, will be direct to PSP downloads over WiFi or, even better, a video aggregator that lives right on the device, allowing one to browse indy channels of Vidcasts.
Link

Profile of iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner

The Associated Press profiles Helen Greiner, the co-founder of robotics firm iRobot, maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner and the military PackBot (seen in this AP photo). From the article:
For the 37-year-old Greiner, the success of the Roomba and of iRobot's military machines validates the transformation of robots from the stuff of fantasy to practical tools.

"I think in the old days, robots had a perception of being kind of scary, and more science fiction than science fact," Greiner said in a recent interview. "These robots are on a mission, and so are we: to bring robots into the mainstream. ... We can make robots do a better job than humans in some cases...."

...For her part, Greiner has said she doesn't believe robots should be empowered to decide on their own whether to take a human life.

None of iRobot's current military robots have autonomous capabilities; all are directly controlled by humans. And while iRobot is developing the PackBot's abilities to carry payloads -- including the possibility of transporting weapons -- none of the company's current robots is armed.
Link

Star Wars: The Science of Consistency

An interesting essay on (messy) fictional universes and the fans who rationalize them.
The fictional universes depicted in movies like the Star Wars or Star Trek series tend to get very complex (...) That complexity means that–inevitably–the occasional “continuity error” occurs. In normal movie parlance, a continuity error means one of those embarrassing moments when, say, the bandage on an actor moves from the right hand to the left hand between scenes due to a mistake by the makeup department. For science fiction fans, though, continuity refers to the overall logical and historical coherence of our beloved fictional universes.

If Scotty witnesses Captain Kirk’s death at the beginning of Star Trek VII, it is extremely troubling to some of us–those who care, those who have intellectual integrity and the discipline of logic!–if Scotty is awakened from suspended animation approximately seventy years later in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and asks whether Captain Kirk is still alive. Scotty should know that Kirk isn’t! Something is wrong! It doesn’t add up–yet it must! It must!

For you see, any story must have a certain amount of internal coherence if we are to achieve suspension of disbelief. And we must achieve suspension of disbelief.

Link to "Star Wars: The Science of Consistency" (Thanks, Jason Schultz)

Swallowable robot

A Carnegie Mellon engineer is in the early stages of adding legs to a camera-in-a-pill that doctors currently use to see inside the intestine. Metin Sitti, director of the NanoRobotics Lab, is putting a three-footed system through its paces in pig intestines. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
 Images3 20050530Smscisitti01 230In the simplest scheme, the capsule could deploy three legs, creating a tripod that could stop the capsule's movement through the intestine, giving doctors a chance to take a closer look at something.

Polymer pads on the leg tips, mimicking the adhesive foot pads of the palmetto beetle, would stick to the intestinal walls. The adhesive foot pads require very little pressure, yet enable the beetle to withstand forces of more than 200 times its body weight.

A more elaborate, telescoping capsule, featuring a set of three legs on either end, would enable it to crawl as if it were inchworm. The capsule could thus go rapidly to a point of interest or, if sufficient power was available, move upstream to give doctors a second look at a suspicious lesion.
Link (via Howard Lovy's NanoBot)

No Privacy in Your Cubicle? Try an Electronic Silencer

An article by John Markoff in this weekend's New York Times about an amazing creation from two of the world's most amazing minds -- Danny Hillis and Bran Ferren.
Maxwell Smart's "cone of silence" is finally a reality.

Two people in an office here were having a tête-à-tête, but it was impossible for a listener standing nearby to understand what they were saying. The conversation sounded like a waterfall of voices, both tantalizingly familiar and yet incomprehensible.

The cone of silence, called Babble, is actually a device composed of a sound processor and several speakers that multiply and scramble voices that come within its range. About the size of a clock radio, the first model is designed for a person using a phone, but other models will work in open office space.

The voice scrambling technology used in Babble was developed by Applied Minds, a research and consulting firm founded by Danny Hillis, a distinguished computer architect, and Bran Ferren, an industrial designer and Hollywood special effects wizard.

Link

RIP: Oscar Brown, Jr.

Music legend, writer, and revered civil rights activist Oscar Brown, Jr. has passed away at the age of 78. Link. This was one of his most popular compositions, and was recently remixed for a Verve collection.

Other Things Besides Downloading the RIAA Doesn't Care For


An online comic drawn by BoringBoring co-creator Francis (who is a dude).

Link

Last word (we hope) on odd Star Trek/pedo connection

Ernest Miller says, "Last week venerable Canadian publication Maclean's published a story that had as its hook the Star Trek/Pedophilia connection found by the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit (The Star Trek Connection). And what a connection it is."
The first thing detectives from the Toronto police sex crimes unit saw when they entered Roderick Cowan's apartment was an autographed picture of William Shatner. Along with the photos on the computer of Scott Faichnie, also busted for possessing child porn, they found a snapshot of the pediatric nurse and Boy Scout leader wearing a dress "Federation" uniform. Another suspect had a TV remote control shaped like a phaser. Yet another had a Star Trek credit card in his wallet. One was using "Picard" as his screen name. In the 3 1/2 years since police in Canada's biggest city established a special unit to tackle child pornography, investigators have been through so many dwellings packed with sci-fi books, DVDs, toys and collectibles like Klingon swords and sashes that it's become a dark squadroom joke. "We always say there are two types of pedophiles: Star Trek and Star Wars," says Det. Ian Lamond, the unit's second-in-command. "But it's mostly Star Trek."

It's the type of oddball coincidence that's difficult to ignore. Even more so when you realize there's virtually nothing else, beyond their shared perversion, that links the new generation of child sex offenders.

Link to complete post. Previously on Boing Boing: LA Times: Pedophilia Linked with Star Trek?, and James Spader says William Shatner smells like lamb sausage. Whoah, those two archive links really don't mix well, do they. Excuse me while my blog vomits.

Ibrahim Ferrer on billboard in Cuba protesting US antiterror policies


Click thumbnail for larger image. Ned Sublette says:
"A friend forwarded me yesterday this photo of a billboard in Cuba. I don't know who took it or when. It says: "... and now they say that we're terrorists!" -- Ibrahim Ferrer, member of the Buena Vista Social Club.

The background is that Ibrahim Ferrer, when nominated for a Grammy, was refused admission to the US to attend the award ceremony on grounds of -- get this -- national security. This in spite of his having previously performed successful US concert tours, he, and all Cuban musicians across the board (except for those involved in the anomalous case of "Havana Night," which played at a casino in Las Vegas), have been denied entrance into the US for the last two years.

While the US did not actually apply the word "terrorist" to Mr. Ferrer as an individual, the perennial inclusion of Cuba on the United States' list of "state-sponsors of terrorism" (dating back to the Reagan administration) at present serves as the bottom-line justification for excluding all Cuban musicians from entering the US, effectively lumping Mr. Ferrer in with terrorists.

And here's a link to an amazing book Ned wrote called Cuba And Its Music: From The First Drums To The Mambo.

Reader comment: Laurent Haug says:

Just a quick note to let you know this: a friend of mine is a photographer currently working with Ibrahim Ferrer in Cuba. He told me on numerous occasions that the government is using M. Ferrer's image without his consent and for political purpose, just what you would expect from these people. So I think this display should be taken for what it is: government propaganda, not a personnal message from the jedi-old singer.

Adam Garcia says,

The picture used in that billboard was actually the photo of Ibrahim on the cover of his solo album. Link to image.

I searched for you on Friendster, and found herpes.

Boing Boing pal Macki says:
A while ago Friendster integrated a spectacularly useless search engine feature.

They also added a woefully ill-considered little widget to go with it, which occasionally displays a box on profiles that lists the top 10 searches in the user's network. Apparently they cast a pretty wide net in determining who is "in your network" and a lot of the same searches pop up on different people's profiles. Or at least that's what you should tell people when they ask why your search list is full of venereal diseases.

Tracking infection vectors via social networking is definitely not a new idea, but it's apparent now that Friendster is sufficiently mature to start tuning this feature. Maybe they can start keeping track of individual's risk factors and generate a score ranging from the coveted "Raping me cures AIDS" to the dreaded "Anna Nicole Smith's Vagina".

Possible meta-data may include; how many private messages you exchange with strangers, the frequency of changes in relationship status, and how well your friendsters all score.

Obesity in America leads to boom in sales of larger chairs

Boing Boing reader Tom says,
Furniture makers are selling bigger chairs and tables to U.S. restaurants, an apparent accommodation to growing customers. Chili's has begun testing more spacious eating spaces and was looking at installing tables up to 12 inches larger at future Chili's outlets. One chair manufacturer said his company is rethinking size -- as in making products bigger -- because customers are bigger. "Let's face it, America has an obesity problem," said Jerry Falk of Foldcraft Co. of Minnesota
Link

Save the children from pot-flavored lollypops

Boing Boing reader John Duffell says,
Michigan State Rep. Dudley Spade has announced that he'll soon be introducing legislation to outlaw candy made with hemp or designed to taste like marijuana. The candy is legal, since it contains none of marijuana's active ingredient, THC. Pot suckers have become big sellers in specialty candy shops, particularly with middle and high school aged kids. Because Spade is such a nice guy, he passed out several of the suckers to media at his press conference. "We don't want drug-flavored candy in Michigan," he said, "and we're going to shut you down." Spade and County Sheriff Larry Richardson are concerned that kids who try the suckers will become "hooked" on the flavor and may try to seek out the real deal. Personally, I think they've got it all wrong. If they want to keep kids off drugs, they should be passing out the damn suckers in schools. It might make the kids realize: Who wants a taste like that in their mouth? Here's the article from Lenawee County's Daily Telegram (Link). For my money, the best quote comes from one of the store owners, who quips, "I think anyone who pays $2 for a sucker is stupid anyway."
Link. I discovered "hemp seed tahini" in a health food store this weekend, and it was really yummy. Granted, I'm in California and not Michigan, but -- if some congresscritter tries to outlaw my newfound snack addiction... let's just say they can have my hemp butter when they pry it from my cold, well-moisturized hands.

Pintlock: a lock for ice-cream pints

A Ben and Jerry's customer requested that the ice-cream come "in stainless steel, bulletproof containers with a little padlock." The company didn't go that far, but they did create this lockable pint-lid that fits over your ice-cream and deters casual munchers from helping themselves. Link (via Gizmodo)

Update: Gizmodo also links to the creator's page.

Disneyland Memorial Day photo-gallery

Thomas sez, "I threw the kids in the Buick and headed down to Anaheim this Memorial Day Weekend to spend two days creating Photoblogging Disneyland, 99 Interpretations of the Happiest Place on Earth. On a positive note, Disneyland never hasseled me even once -- tripods, mulitple cameras, computers, hard drives and all. Refreshing, as I'm used to being hasseled with my gear most places I go." Link Mirror Link (Thanks, Thomas!)

Update: Poor Thomas's bandwidth allocation at his ISP has been blown. Here's a Flickr mirror of his photos.

Austrian artists' "Experience the Experience" tour coming to USA

My friends at Monochrom, the crazy Austrian net.artists, are doing an American tour this summer based around the uniquely American concept of "experiences" (dining experiences, Disney experience, the Ground Zero experience). Here's a sample Experience the Experience project that they'll be putting on:
Experience The Experience Of Being Buried Alive

The people present will have an opportunity to be buried alive in a coffin for fifteen minutes. As a framework program there will be lectures about the history of the science of determining death and the medical cultural history of "buried alive". People buried alive not only populate the horror stories of past centuries, but also countless reports in specialized medical literature. The theme of unintentional resurrection by grave robbers also runs through forensic protocols. Even in the 19th century it was said that every tenth person was buried alive. No wonder that the fear of this fate was immense and led - especially in the German-speaking region - to all kinds of precautions to avoid it. Various death test methods were developed, for instance. "Security coffins" with bell pulls and air hoses were patented; mortuaries were built, in which corpses were left for days to natural decay. (Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco)

Link (Thanks, Johannes!)

Papercraft Haunted Mansion to download, cut and glue

Las October, I blogged about Ray Keim's amazing, ambitious project to recreated the Disney World Hanuted Mansion facade as a 3D computer model. Ray has largely finished this project and now it is paying dividends in the form of new toys and diversions that can be fashioned from the model.

One such is this stupendous papercraft miniature Haunted Mansion that you can download, cut, paste and assemble. The level of detail is nothing less than obsessive, and the instructions are clear and straightforward. This may be the coolest free thing to appear on the Internet this year. Link (Thanks, Ray!)

Thoughtless Acts Flickr group

On Saturday, I posted about Thoughtless Acts, the brilliant new IDEO photo book illustrating how "we adapt, exploit, and react to things in our environment; things we do without really thinking." The book has also spawned a Flickr group. It's just begun but should be an interesting one to watch. From Juliamae's photostream:
 11497217 Ae79157653 This cone seemed like the perfect hat for a former fence post, according to a passerby.
Link (Thanks, Jessica Hutchison!)

Billboard Liberation Front vs. McDonald's

 Wp-Content Images To Serve Man
BB pal Scott Beale tells us that the Billboard Liberation Front have struck with this magnification modification to a billboard in San Francisco across from Golden Gate Park near Haight Street. At the Laughing Squid blog, Scott has posted a report from the scene of the crime, including a series of excellent photographs:
This billboard modification was above and beyond what is typical for the BLF and included an animatronic Ronald McDonald force feeding a hamburger to an obese child, with a backdrop covering the billboard which consisted of well-fed Ronald McDonald and alien figures.

This was a very bold billboard improvement, since it took place in broad daylight in The Haight near Golden Gate Park, with people and cops all over the place. Not to mention the fact that they covered the entire billboard and installed two sculptures, including one that was kinetic and required a power source.

 Wp-Content Images Ronald InvasionOnce the billboard improvement was completed, dozens of Ronald McDonalds and a couple Hamburglers converged on the scene to help celebrate this occasion. They then proceeded to invade the McDonald’s across the street.

Soon after, the SFPD with the help of the SFFD removed the animatronic Ronald McDonald and child sculpture. It’s reported that Ronald was not read his Miranda rights as he was escorted into the (hamburger) patty wagon. Last reports we received the actual billboard modification was still in place, so their still may be time for you to go down and see it in person.
Link

And from the BLF press release:
Mankind is ready to serve, and McDonalds’ is the corporation to do the serving. After 50 years of eating more and more Big Macs, French fries, and McNuggets designed to enhance our serve-ability, we are finally ready! Untold billions of meals consumed by billions of people throughout the world, have sufficiently enlarged the average girth and tenderness of McDonalds’ patrons (i.e. you) to reveal the True Meaning of life on Earth! Keep your eyes to the skies and watch for the big, shiny saucers with the gold-arched logos that are going to whisk us away to our inevitable and glorious destiny among the stars. Soon McDonalds will truly fulfill its mission To Serve Man.
Link

Beautiful metal math models

 Math Gyroid Gyroid SmBathsheba Grossman makes wonderful math-inspired sculptures. Shown here, The Gyroid, a 3-inch "triply periodic minimal surface that divides all of space into two congruent regions." It also performs arithmetic -- by subtracting $350 from your Paypal account.
Link (Thanks, Kevin!)

James Spader says William Shatner smells like lamb sausage

James Spader and William Shatner bedded down together during a taping of Boston Legal. Spader describes Shatner's body aroma like this: "He had a very sort of, a strangely very attractive sort of pungent sort of gamey, sort of a venison or a lamb sausage... and a little bit of rosemary with a touch of ranch dressing." Link (via Eye of the Goof)

Funny Parents magazine cover

 Growabrain Images ParentsUnitentional placement of a woman's head and a green dot on magazine turn the title of "PARENTS" into "PENIS."
Link

Reader comment: 318 readers have emailed to inform me that this cover is fake and that I am a dupe. They're right. Here's the real cover, and here's a little more information about the fake cover, which was created by Andrew Hearst of the Panopticist. Link

Clean your keyboard in the dishwasher

Scott Moschella of plasticbugs.com explains how to clean your computer keyboard in the dishwasher without destroying it.
I can report that not only will the keyboard come out clean, but it will probably work once it dries completely. Every key on the keyboard works and feels just right - the Caps Lock light even works! This ‘hack’ is not for the weakhearted, and I would probably avoid putting a $100+ keyboard in the dishwasher. But if you don’t have any other options, it’s a pretty good bet.
Link

Reader comment: Darren says: "I recently spilled some rootbeer on my keyboard and received a ton of good advice at the above URL. My friend Travis went above and beyond the call of duty, and made this pictorial on removing keys from your keyboard to clean underneath them. It features the super-fancy KeyPopper(tm) (patent pending)." Link

Reader comment: SuziJane says: "I mentioned this very thing in an email to Cory months ago, in response to the boingboing post about icky keyboards in med labs (he rightly responded that a run through the dishwasher wouldn't truly sanitize them). My husband and I have done this for years, and it works like a dream. Usually takes about 3 days of drying-turning-shaking, but they look and work like brand new afterward. Of particular note: We have never once popped off the keys to dry, and we haven't lost a keyboard yet. At least, not to the *dishwasher* ..."

Reader comment: Randy Rathbun says: "About 15 years ago I went to a local ham radio equipment manufacturer (http://www.kantronics.com/) and took a tour of their factory. The last step they did before they put the circuit board in the case was to run the boards through a dishwasher - no soap, no dry cycle. Just hot water.

"What this does is get rid of all the flux and other crap off the board.

"After they finished washing the boards (light duty cycle, boards on the top rack only!) they would hang the boards up and let them dry on a big drying rack they made. If it was a nice day here in the Kansas City area, they would roll the boards outside and let the sun beat down on them to help em dry faster.

"After the boards had dried for a few days they would then finish putting the last few parts on that were water sensitive such as transformers, audio jacks, or non sealed relays - mainly just any part that had a hollow cavity in it that could hold water.

"After I saw them do that I started to do the same with projects I built. I do it with any and all boards I etch or kit boards I get before I start stuffing parts, then do it again after most of the parts are on.

"It works great, is easy, and forces me to take a break from the project for a few days before and after construction while I let the thing air dry. At the end of it I end up with one snazzy looking board that is free from burned flux or those nasty short circuit inducing micro-solder splatter blobs that can cause problems."

Reader comment: Erik V. Olson says: "Quite a whoo-raw on the dishwashing keyboards posts. I've done it for some time. I've even washed entire Commodore 64s. What can't take washing -- motors of any kinds. So, leave the notebook out.

"The best way. If you have an older keyboard, like one of my beloved IBM Model Ms, you'll need to pull the keycaps off, or you'll have to collect them from the bottom of the dishwasher afterwards. Put those in the silverware basket. Wash normally with only a tiny bit of dishwasher soap, about a tenth of what you'd normally use. Don't use other soaps, which foam up way too much.

"Critical: If your dishwasher has a speed dry cycle, turn it off. If you get too warm, you can warp the plastic, or worse, crack the circuit board from thermal expansion. I saw one dishwasher actually melt part of a keyboard, but I suspect that wasn't normal operation. In short: Plain Wash, Plain Dry.

"Unknown: the effect of rinse agents. If you have such, leave it out if you can, but if you follow the rest of this, it isn't critical.

"Many keyboards will trap water, you'll have to shake that out, or (advanced course) drill a couple of drain holes.

"The final trick is to get some high-grade 100% Isopropyl Alcohol from an electronics supply store, and use that to rinse, which will pull the rest of the detergent residue out, and, as a bonus, dry the keyboard much faster. It is *incredibly* important not to use lower cuts of Isopropyl unless you know they're cut only with distilled water. The only test I know that I trust. Take a clean sheet of clear glass, rise with the test alcohol, and let dry. Anything left on the glass would end up on your keyboard. Anything that insulates or makes the key contacts conductive would ruin the keyboard."

Reader comment: Michael Hyatt says: "I wanted to comment on the keyboard in the dishwasher post and, though I've been reading BoinbBoing for a year now, I can't for the life of me find a way to send comments up.  In the Eighties I worked at Polaroid's floppy disk factory in Santa Rosa, where they made 5¼ floppys.  They had a product they called 'Data Rescue.'  The deal was, you paid extra for them, but if they got damaged or screwed up in any way (from spilled sodas to accidental erasure) you could send them in and we'd try to recover the data.  The marketing kit included a disc and some mustard and ketchup packets.  The idea was you put some data on the disk, then covered it in goo, ran over with your desk chair, spilled whatever you wanted on it, and sent it in.  We'd get the data back and you'd be so impressed you'd buy the damn things no matter what they cost.  The secret?  We cut the disk jacket open, slid the 'cookie' out and gently washed it in the sink.  After much expermentation, we determined that Dawn dish detergent was best.  We then hung them up to dry in the lunch room on a piece of twine with wood clothes pins.  When they were dry, we put them in a new jacket and ran the basic data recovery tools of the day, Norton et al.  The best of the unintended consequences?  We got disks written with just about every kind of hardware/OS in the world, so we ended up with a lab with just about every kind of computer in the world in it.  A great way to learn about computers and OSs...."