Gmaps hack shows effects of high-yield explosive detonations

Here's a haunting Gmaps hack: "The High Yield Detonation Effects simulator maps overpressure radii generated by a ground-level detonation; these radii are an indicator of structural damage to buildings. No other effects, such as thermal damage or fallout levels, are included in this tool. Note that the displayed rings are "idealized"; that is, no account is taken of terrain, urban density, ground type, weather conditions, and so on." Link (Thanks, Eric!)

Apple to add Trusted Computing to the new kernel?

People working with early versions of the forthcoming Intel-based MacOS X operating system have discovered that Apple's new kernel makes use of Intel's Trusted Computing hardware. If this "feature" appears in a commercial, shipping version of Apple's OS, they'll lose me as a customer -- I've used Apple computers since 1979 and have a Mac tattooed on my right bicep, but this is a deal-breaker.

I travel in the kinds of circles where many people use GNU/Linux on their computers -- and not only use it, but actually call it GNU/Linux instead of just "Linux," in the fashion called for by Richard Stallman. Some of these people give me grief over the fact that I use Mac OS X instead of GNU/Linux on my Powerbook, because the MacOS is proprietary.

I've been an Apple user since 1979. I've owned dozens -- probably more than a hundred -- Macintoshes. When I worked in the private sector, I used to write purchase orders for about a quarter-million dollars' worth of Apple hardware every year. I've stuck with the machines over the years because the fit-and-finish of the OS and the generally kick-ass hardware made them the best choice for me. I've converted innumerable people to the Mac (most recently I got my grandmother's octogenarian boyfriend to pick up a Mac Mini, which he loves). Hell, I even bought half a dozen Newtons over the years.

When my free software companions give me grief over this, I tell them that I'm using an OS built on a free flavor of Unix, and that most of the apps I use are likewise free -- such as Firefox, my terminal app, etc.

Here's the important part though: when I use apps that aren't free, like Apple's Mail.app, BBEdit, NetNewsWire, etc, I do so comfortable in the fact that they save their data-files in free formats, open file-formats that can be read by free or proprietary applications. That means that I always retain the power to switch apps when I need to. That means that if the vendor changes their policy in a way that is incongruent with my needs, or if they go out of business, or if they treat me badly, I can always go across the street to another vendor, or to a free software project, and switch. This acts as a check against abusive behavior on the vendors' part and it is, I believe, partly responsible for the quality and pricing of their offerings.

The Trusted Computing people say that they intend on Trusted Computing being used to stop the unauthorized distribution of music, but none of them has ever refuted the Darknet paper, where several of Trusted Computing's inventors explain that Trusted Computing isn't fit to this purpose.

The point of Trusted Computing is to make it hard -- impossible, if you believe the snake-oil salesmen from the Trusted Computing world -- to open a document in a player other than the one that wrote it in the first place, unless the application vendor authorizes it. It's like a blender that will only chop the food that Cuisinart says you're allowed to chop. It's like a car that will only take the brand of gas that Ford will let you fill it with. It's like a web-site that you can only load in the browser that the author intended it to be seen in.

What this means is that "open formats" is no longer meaningful. An application can write documents in "open formats" but use Trusted Computing to prevent competing applications from reading them. Apple may never implement this in their own apps (though I'll be shocked silly if it isn't used in iTunes and the DVD player), but Trusted Computing in the kernel is like a rifle on the mantelpiece: if it's present in act one, it'll go off by act three.

It means that the price of being a Mac user will be eternal vigilance: you'll need to know that your apps not only write to exportable formats, but that they also allow those exported files to be read by competing apps. That they eschew those measures that would lock you in and prevent you from giving your business to someone else. I'm pretty sure that apps like BBEdit and NetNewsWire won't lock me out, as their authors are personally known to me to be wonderful, generous, honorable people. But personally familiarizing yourself with the authors of all the software you use doesn't scale.

So that means that if Apple carries on down this path, I'm going to exercise my market power and switch away, and, for the first time since 1979, I won't use an Apple product as my main computer. I may even have my tattoo removed.

My data is my life, and I won't keep it in a strongbox that someone else has the keys for.

* We've discovered that the Rosetta kernel uses TCPA/TPM DRM. Some parts of the GUI like ATSServer are still not native to x86 - meaning that Rosetta is required by the GUI, which in turn requires TPM. See the forum topic here.

* After much careful analysis of the files from the new Intel-based Macs, it would appear that SSE3 enabled processors are required to run the GUI. We are still testing this theory, though - nothing has been proven conclusively. Check out this forum thread for evidence and discussion.

* Check out some of our members' earliest work - using Darwin and the "mactel" leak.

Link (via /.)

New CC licensed CD

Tryad is a new band who've just released their first CD, "Public Domain," under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Link (Thanks, John!)

Update: Another CC licensed recent CD

DefCon WiFi shootout champions crowned: 125 miles


Four young amateur radio operators from Ohio were again dubbed world champs of long-distance wireless networking at the annual DefCon WiFi Shootout. These guys more than doubled the 55.1 mile record they set last year. Way to go!

SoCalWug co-founder Frank Keeney says,

All day Friday and through the night Team PAD braved rain, lightning and winds over 30 mph to setup and test their equipment at their mountaintop base outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. On Saturday July 30 at 11am they successfully made a 125 mile link using 802.11b and ran network applications with their remote team in the mountains West of St. George, Utah.

Mike Outmesguine adds,

This possibly qualifies them for a new Guiness record as well.

Frank's company provided the Wi-Fi gear to Team PAD. He tells me they used the VCom 325hp+ PCMCIA cards running at a built-in power of 300 mw on each end of the link. The cards were connected to one 12 foot and one 10 foot diameter satellite dish (see photo) on each side of the link. The computers they used were running Linux. And their link quality was so fantastic that they got 12 ms ping times, ran ssh shell commands, and even used vnc remote desktop.

He also said that Team PAD may use the same gear to attempt smashing our old Bluetooth record of 1.08 miles.

Link to team photo and a graphic display of estimated link locations.

Tornado Intercept Vehicle: car mod for stormchaser use


Sean Casey is a storm-chaser and an IMAX cinematographer. He transformed a long-wheelbase 1997 Ford F-450 diesel dually pickup into what he calls "TIV" (Tornado Intercept Vehicle), for driving into tornados. Every inch of detail was planned for the purpose at hand: there's even a turret for the IMAX camera! I've seen art-cars in Black Rock City that looked similar, but all they did was blast trance music while transporting bodypainted hippies from one rave to another. This mod's made for workin'.
Occupants peer out through prison-window Lexan portals. "It’s so ugly! It's just a big mobile tripod for the camera," Casey says.
Link (Thanks, Joe)

The art of WSJ illustrator Noli Novak

Picture 1 Noli Novak's instantly recognizable stipple portraits go a long way in giving The Wall Street Journal its distinctive look. Novak's also a clever collage artist, using torn out pieces of magazines to create watercolor like works of art.
Link (via growabrain)

Update: Novak is one of several artists who create the stipple art portraits for WSJ. Others include: Thaddeus Chambers, Nancy Januzzi, Hai Knafo, and Rachel Pak. There may be others, as well.

Update: Nolui Novak says: Thank you very much for mentioning my work in your blog.

However, I would also appreciate if you could make some corrections.

I'm not sure how you got an impression that I'm the only person doing the hedcuts at the Journal. It would be pretty impossible for one person to cover such a large volume of art needed on daily basis (it takes on average around 5 hours to do one hedcut).

Full time illustrators are Hai Knafo, Nancy Januzzi, Laura Levy and me. We also use a number of freelance illustrators (4 to be exact) trained in this technique when needed.

Thaddeus and Rachel are both Journal employees, but don't have anything to do with our department.

Snopes's funniest questions

Internet urban-legend-busters Snopes have published a list of some of the funniest questions they've been asked:
Is there any truth that if you choke on the candy Peeps, that it hardens in your throat and even with the heimlich maneuver you can't be saved and you die? Let us know.

My younger sis heard: in order for a cologne/perfume/fragrance to be compatible to one's body chemistry, spray a sample and then lick it. If the taste stings the tongue, it is not suitable; no sting – it's a good match. Please advise before I test the handful of colognes I've been using!

HOW CAN I GET THE SUCTION BROKE WHEN THE CONTACT IS STUCK TO EYE

Link (via Making Light)

Transcript of Cory's Second Life interview, new illos from Someone...

Last week I did a virtual book-signing of my novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town along with an interview in the massively multiplayer online world Second Life. All last week, Hamlet Linden, the game's embedded reporter, has been running the transcript of the interview in the Second Life blog, New World Notes. Now the whole thing is online.

On a related note, Damon Wallace continues to add to his amazing collection of fan illustrations of scenes from my novel, including Alan's tiny thumb, Marci in the family cave, a sketch of Davey and a wicked-creepy Davey attack on Alan. These illos are just gobsmackingly wonderful.

HL: [Audience member] Jarod Godel asks, "A lot of the backstory and universe in Someome Comes To Town was left open; was this done on purpose, trying to encourage fan fiction to fill in those gaps?

CD: Not to encourage fan fiction per se, but the human imagination has a lot higher polygon-count than prose could ever have. Leaving most of the world in shadow lets readers fill in very high rez pictures where you don't have the throughput in the printed page. That said, if fan fiction emerged that filled that in, I'd be mightily chuffed.

Beginning of Transcript Link

Homeland Security radio-tags foreign visitors

Starting this week, three US border crossings will begin to tag visitors to America with wireless RFID-cards, which contain visitors' personally identifying information and can be read from 12 yards away. The only exempted visitors are Canadians who are not on a US business visa or engaged to an American. If this program is "successful" (who the fuck knows what constitutes a "success" here -- maybe Homeland Security has a divinating machine that can tell it whether fewer terrorists have entered the country this quarter than last?) this program will go live at every border crossing, in addition to the current practice of fingerprinting and photographing visitors (incidentally, the fact that the DHS had started to fingerprint me when I came home to San Francisco played a major role in my decision to abandon my US work visa and move to the UK -- friends don't fingerprint friends).
They’ll have to carry the wireless devices as a way for border guards to access the electronic information stored inside a document about the size of a large index card.

Visitors to the U.S. will get the card the first time they cross the border and will be required the carry the document on subsequent crossings to and from the States.

Border guards will be able to access the information electronically from 12 metres away to enable those carrying the devices to be processed more quickly.

Link (Thanks, Anne!)

Cracking down on predatory tow truck companies

The New York Times reports that tow truck companies in Los Angeles are out of control, towing cars illegally and then charging exorbitant fees before owners can get them back.
In one case here, a church's pickup was towed from its own parking lot; in another, a 4-year-old boy was towed away in his mother's car after she went inside her apartment for a few minutes to drop off groceries and a younger child.

And a man who ran alongside a tow truck, pleading to get his vehicle back after it was towed from a fire lane, died when he slipped and was run over by the truck and then his own Chevrolet Suburban.

Link (Previous Boing Boing coverage of criminal tow truck drivers)

Pix from today's photog-mob at the unphotographable 1 Bush St building

Jane, writing about the response to this week's incident where Boing Boing pal Thomas Hawk was strong-armed for shooting photos from the sidewalk of a San Francisco office tower, sez, "I've created a Flickr set from today's photo flash mob at One Bush Street. (http://www.multipledigression.com/bush) This set documents the 20 folks who showed up at noon today to exercise our public photography rights! We also took photos at 343 California, 555 California and the Transamerica Building. CBS News showed up to cover it; there are some meta photos of me photographing CBS photographing a flash mob photographer photographing One Bush Street!..." Link (Thanks, Jane!)

Update: Sean notes that the onebushstreet Flickr tag has tons more pix from the day.

Cory's interview on the copyfight and international development

Alex Steffen of Worldchanging has posted a great interview with me about WIPO, the copyfight, and international development.
WIPO -- the World Intellectual Property Organization -- is the UN's most captive agency. WIPO was originally a stand-alone organization, essentially an industry consortium for rightsholders' interests, and they got brought in under the umbrella of the UN thirty or so years ago, with the understanding that they would change their practices to make them consistent with other UN instruments like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights -- humanitarian instruments -- and that it would become a humanitarian agency for development.

Which makes sense. Information goods are a critical piece of the development picture. Every successfully developed country made use of free information goods. More accurately, they all went through a stage when they were a pirate nation. America spent a century as a pirate nation, ripping off the intellectual property of every country around it, and in particular, of Britain, because when you're a net importer of intellectual property, signing on to multilateral copyright and patent agreements is signing on to exporting your wealth off-shore. When you're a net exporter of intellectual property, it makes economic sense.

The choice is not simply one of piracy or monopoly. There is a whole rich middle ground of public domain and open information regimes which could give developing world countries the tools they need to serve humanitarian purposes, while protecting the legitimate interests of authors, performers and inventors. WIPO could have created a global knowledge goods regime which protected both the commercial and the humanitarian fairly.

Link

Mike Lynn presentation mirrors and legal fund

You-all have come through with many, many mirrors for Mike Lynn's controversial Black Hat presentation in which he quit his job, described critical vulnerabilities in Cisco equipment and got sued by his employer, the candyasses at ISS. See the end of the post for lots of links -- the paranoid among you can verify mirrors via this MD-5 hash: 559942447c88086fa1304c38f9d0242c.

There's a legal-defense fund for Lynn that's gearing up now. Paypal your donations to Abaddon@IO.com. Money that is collected and not used will be donated to EFF. Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, Link, eMule Link (Thanks, Anniqa, Andrew, Brad, Aaron, CiscoLover, Brian, Bruce, David, John, Steve, Marie, David, Gregory, aab3w, Stephen, Foofango, Adam, az, John and others!)

Defcon, Makezine, kegbot

Boing Boing reader Paul Short says, "The annual hacker conference DefCon in Las Vegas this weekend has spawned some pretty innovative stuff, not the least of which is the Kegbot. DefCon attendee Phillip Torrone of Make Magazine writes: "
"One the coolest projects I've seen so far at DEFCON was the kegbot, a linux based keg that dispenses beer as long as you have an iButton key. The system keeps track of who you are, how much you're drinking and in team mode- where you rank. the Kegbot crew built and deployed a kegbot on site at DEFCON, we were lucky enough to get there and document the building of it!"
More pics and instructions on building your own Kegbot at the Make Magazine web site.

Things to do in SF when you're dead: Zombie Flashmob today

Jake Appelbaum writes,

I received a message from the brain eating master today: "We're trying to create a self perpetuating Zombie Mob in the streets of San Francisco on Saturday (Saturday, July 30th). A seed group of zombies will start at St. Mary's square, and as we march up Market St. we'll attack Willing bystanders, converting them and giving them ingredients to make more zombies. We'll end up at Union Square, Eat tourists, then eventually hop a train to Colma for a Picnic in the Cemetary. There's a reception afterword at Launchpad with Blood Wrestling and Zombie Olympics, then Movies and Music. See eatbrains.com to get involved."
Link (Thanks also, Scott Beale and Sean Bonner!)

UPDATE: The event is done, brains were eaten, photos were taken, and all the links you need are here

Avidd says:

I thought you might get a kick out of the videos from our mob last weekend- one is an attack on market street, and the other shows 50 of us invading the apple store!
Link