Boing Boing 

NYT on HD Radio

Glenn Fleishman said (Ed: yesterday -- I'm a bit slow!),
In today's New York Times, I wrote about the revolution already in progress for AM and FM radio: IBOC (in-band, on-channel) digital radio, known by its trademarked named HD Radio.

With IBOC, the analog signal is undisturbed and digital audio nestles in the protected side bands. It's a surprisingly huge phenomenon--among radio stations. At least 450 stations are already full-time HD Radio broadcasters, and possibly more than 600. The reason? Digital AM sounds good--remarkably good.

But the real excitement is in FM. With digital FM, stations can choose to multicast. Public radio is funding a huge HD Radio supplement so that its member stations could, for instance, have an all Spanish format or serve other niche audiences that they can't offer enough programming to as part of their regular schedule.

There's only a few tens of thousands of receivers out there, but the tabletop boxes are coming. I was told the chips that drive HD Radio cost $65 for the radio makers now, but the price should drop by 2/3rds when quantities pick up, and then we'll see $100 to $150 radios instead of $260 to $600 units.


Reader Comment: Bill Kirkpatrick says:

"It's worth pointing out that HD radio came largely at the expense of low-powered FM radio. We could have had thousands more LPFM stations, but large broadcasters objected to these microstations being shoe-horned into the spectrum. Why? So that there would be more room for IBOC. Commercial broadcasters effectively double or triple their spectrum, and non-commercial community broadcasting gets shut out.

There's a great article in Social Policy that explains all this in detail. I can't find it on the web, so I have quoted a relevant excerpt below."

From INTERFERENCE AND THE PUBLIC SERVICE: THE HISTORY AND IMPACT OF LOW-POWER FM , By: Spinelli, Martin, Social Policy, Fall 2000, Vol. 31, Issue 1

While arguments about existing station placement and economics are relatively easy to grasp, perhaps the most significant stumbling block for LPFM is more complex. IBOC-DAB (in-band, on-channel digital audio broadcasting) is left out of reports of the LPFM fight as often for its politics as for its difficulty. One could be forgiven for thinking that digital radio, when it happens at some point in the distant future, will be in a different radio spectrum than the one currently used. But "in-band," in fact, means in the existing FM radio frequency band on the same radio channels or stations that we listen to today ("on-channel").

The way IBOC is being promoted and tested by large broadcasters represents a kind of giant squatters' rights movement on the FM band. The current IBOC configuration, described as "saddle-bagging," would have a station broadcast a digital signal in the side channels immediately to the left and to the right of its analog signal. If two-channel separation standards were to be maintained, there would be far less room for other stations like LPFMs. Of course, if LPFMs are shoehorned into the bandwidth before the establishment of IBOC, there will be much less room for IBOC. The NAB, in seeking to stop or slow LPFM by calling for more engineering tests or trial periods, would buy its members enough time to rush the IBOC proposal through the FCC and establish digital broadcasting saddle-bags.

It is not surprising that LPFM opponents would not give prominence to the DAB objection in their complaints against microbroadcasting. If the IBOC saddle-bag system is established, existing stations will be given, in effect, three times the bandwidth for which they paid, while the consuming public, which has not indicated its desires or needs, will have a technology foisted on it--especially if, as it is being currently tested in the Washington, DC, area, it will be simply another means for existing stations to replicate their analog signals.

Incidentally, the existing IBOC saddle-bag tests are showing no interference to the mother channel to which they are immediately adjacent; consequently, the NAB has called for a loosening of the clear channel requirements for IBOC. This is further evidence that interference is not a genuine issue. It can thus be argued that existing commercial broadcasters do not actually object to LPFM because such stations might interfere with any of their existing signals but because their imminent presence would lessen the space available for their future digital broadcasts.

H.W. Duncan in Seattle says,
I'm a former broadcast engineer who has followed IBOC. Several Seattle FM stations use IBOC and I can't tell any difference between the "Spread" of their signal and the spread of the "normal" Seattle FM stations. And because Seattle was an IBOC-FM test market, a lot of people with experienced ears have been listening closely for problems. Many broadcasters are voluntarily investing big dollars in IBOC-FM.

This is not true with IBOC in the AM band, where the digital signal generates sidebands that tend to cover up the stations on the two adjacent channels. The problem is so bad that IBOC-AM cannot be used at night and as far as I know, nobody but Clear Channel stations are rushing to IBOC-AM. And, of course, Clear Channel owns a piece of the IBOC business.

I have been told that IBOC was broadcasting's answer to a European direct digital system, they were opposed because that system gives all area broadcasters an equal voice - power and dial location no longer matter. This was poison to those who want to sell their radio stations for lots and lots of money.

Why do you stay up so late?

A lovely Flash-poem. Link (Thanks, Susannah Breslin)

Geeks: provide technical assistance to lawyers working for freedom

Are you a geek who wants to help keep technological liberties alive? EFF is starting a mailing-list pool for geeks willing to render technical assistance to lawyers working on worthy cases:
Over the years, EFF has connected hundreds of tech-savvy lawyers with potential clients through our Cooperating Attorneys listserv. This has worked so well, we thought we'd provide the same service for those who need technical assistance on litigation and civil liberties issues.

Here's how the Cooperating Techs list will work: Attorneys needing technical assistance on cases will contact us and let us know what kind of help they need and whether they can pay. After we receive the request and determine if it is appropriate for our list, we'll post a note to the list with a basic description of the project. (For example: "CA attorney needs a tech familiar with Microsoft Exchange servers to assist in recovering allegedly deleted email messages needed for lawsuit. Can pay reduced fee.")

If you're on the list and are qualified and interested, you contact us, and we'll connect you to the attorney. That's it. EFF won't investigate or vouch for either side -- we don't have those kinds of resources. We'll simply provide the connection.

Interested in being an Cooperating Tech? Send a note to, and we'll try to help you find someone.


Hearing aids re-imagined: "hearware"

The V&A museum in London is currently running an exhibition of "hearware" -- hearing aids reimagined by designers and interaction firms from around the world. "The display will show how fashionably designed 'hearwear' can be as desirable and accessible as 'eyewear', and will change the way people think about hearing." Link (via Shiny Shiny)

Gamers pictured alongside their avatars

The Faces of WoW site allows World of Warcraft players to upload photos of themselves, sometimes accompanied by photos of their in-game avatars. It's hard to say what's more interesting -- the people who look just like their avatars, or the ones who look totally different. Link (via Wonderland)

Ten thousand superballs rolling down a San Francisco hill-street

These photos document the release of 10,000 small superballs at the San Francisco hilltop corner of Filbert and Leavenworth. Wow. Pic 1, Pic 2 (Thanks, Umgrue!)

Michael Lynn's controversial Cisco security presentation

Here's a PDF that purports to be Michael Lynn's presentation on Cisco's critical vulnerabilities ("The Holy Grail: Cisco IOS Shellcode And Exploitation Techniques"), delivered at last week's Black Hat conference. Lynn's employer, ISS, wouldn't let him deliver the talk (they'd been leant on by Cisco), so Lynn quit his job, walked onstage and delivered it anyway. (See yesterday's post and Scheneier's take for more). 1.9MB PDF Link (Thanks, Richard!)

Update: Seb sez, "Cisco, Michael Lynn and ISS have all come to an 'arrangement'. It would seem all material pertaining to the flaw, the exploit and the talk are to be handed over to Cisco, who will presumably lock it all up and throw away the key. All videos of the presentation are to be handed over as well, and Lynn has been forbidden from talking at Black Hat or Defcon."

Michael Lynn, a former ISS researcher, and the Black Hat organisers agreed to a permanent injunction barring them from further discussing the presentation Lynn gave on Wednesday. The presentation showed how attackers could take over Cisco routers, a problem that Lynn said could bring the Internet to its knees.

The injunction also requires Lynn to return any materials and disassembled code related to Cisco, according to a copy of the injunction, which was filed in US District Court for the District of Northern California. The injunction was agreed on by attorneys for Lynn, Black Hat, ISS and Cisco.

Lynn is also forbidden to make any further presentations at the Black Hat event, which ended on Thursday, or the following Defcon event. Additionally, Lynn and Black Hat have agreed never to disseminate a video made of Lynn's presentation and to deliver to Cisco any video recording made of Lynn."

Update 2: Randi, a reader who claims to be an ex-coworker of Lynn's, and the girlfriend of Lynn's roommate, says, "A settlement with Cisco has been reached, but ISS is still pursuing criminal charges. The press doesn’t appear to know yet that the FBI is performing an investigation now, starting with seizing equipment from Michael and his roommates. On a happy note, Mike has received quite a few job offers, including from some places you wouldn't expect."

Update 3 Courtesy of James, Wired News's coverage of the FBI's investigation of Michael Lynn

Machinima film-festival announced

The 2005 Machinima Film Festival has been announced for November 12, 2005, in NYC:
The Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences (AMAS), an organization that provides advocacy, education and community for Machinima (filmmaking using real-time 3D game technology/virtual reality), today announced the 2005 Machinima Film Festival and the call for entries for the 2005 Machinima Awards (the Mackies). Sponsored by NVIDIA and the Independent Film Channel (IFC), the third annual festival will be held Saturday, November 12th 2005, at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

The one-day event will include screenings of Machinima films, workshops hosted by Machinima filmmakers, special presentations, talks with award-winning independent filmmakers and seminars about Machinima production techniques. The event will culminate in an awards ceremony where some of the best Machinima filmmakers will be recognized for their creative artistry in this new and powerful entertainment medium that's set to revolutionize the worlds of filmmaking and animation.

Link (via Wonderland)

Canada bans copying CDs to iPods

Michael Geist sez, "The Canadian Supreme Court today declined to hear a case involving the private copying levy and its application to the Apple iPod. While some are celebrating, the decision effectively renders copying CDs onto an iPod unlawful in Canada. I've posted an additional perspective that challenges the recording industry's decision to welcome the decision. I argue that it signifies an escalation of its war against its own artists."
But opposing the artists on private copying takes this strategy to new heights. CRIA today claimed that artists will make up private copying levy losses through the marketplace. The truth is that artists and rights holders lost $4 million today, the amount collected from the iPod and digital audio recorders during a fairly brief period. Longer term, they lost tens of millions of dollars of potential compensation. These are not the nickels and dimes that CRIA derides. If anything, for Canadian artists the levy represents a potentially important revenue stream that will not be easily recouped.

Today's decision also likely means the end of a private copying levy that CRIA spent 15 years fighting to get. The system is clearly broken and policy makers will either drop it completely (perhaps supplemented by a fair use doctrine that will permit copying such as store bought CDs to personal iPods) or expand the levy so that it resembles a European approach that extends to both audio and video, while providing even greater compensation.

Link (Thanks, Michael!)

Rule breaking cow

Picture 17 Alan Clifford says: "It's just a cow tethered and grazing under a no tethering and grazing sign. It amused me."

Gallery of bizarre public signs

Picture 16 Swanksigns collects public safety and information signs from around the world. This one is creepy. It shows what can happen to you if you get into an elevator with a trash can and neglect to pull the can all the way into the elevator car. Ouch! Most of the signs on the site are not as nightmarish -- they're funny and/or perplexing.

Roadside Taiwan

 P Taiwan Dan Bloom sends this photograph of a bus stop in Taiwan shaped like a giant watermelon.

UPDATE: Dan Bllom says: "A Taiwanese surfer in Taipei with keen eyesight noticed that the bench in front of the bus stop has some words written in Japanese and concluded that the bus stop could not be in Taiwan and that item submitter 'Dan Bloom' (who now has egg on his face, among other things!) made an innocent but big mistake by wrongly telling that the watermelon bus stop was in Taiwan.'

No taking pix of San Fran building from the sidewalk?

Frequent Boing Boing contributor Thomas Hawk sez, "Shooting the One Bush building (at the intersection where Bush meets Market St. in San Francisco) a building security guard told me he was going to have me arrested and literally followed me around the building trying to put his hand in front of my camera from the public sidewalk.

"I've been hassled and harassed many time in the past for shooting photographs in privately owned public spaces (Starbucks, PF Chaings, Toys 'R Us, the new burger spot on Sacramento St. at Drumm, Tosca, Grand Central Terminal in New York, etc.) but yesterday was the first time I've actually been harassed on a public street over photography." Link (Thanks, Thomas!)

Update: Mat sez, " Everyone in San Francisco needs to go get a picture of this building. To encourage that, I'll give one person a $10 iTMS gift certificate for snapping a picture of One Bush. Take a picture sometime in the next week. Post it online (and link to it in my comments so I'll see it). I'll choose a winner at random."

Update 2 Erik sez, "I'm organizing a get-together this Saturday to walk through downtown S.F. taking pictures of buildings and whatever else strikes our fancy, starting at noon at 1 Bush St. Fun, artistic, and full of Free Speech goodness."

Microsoft "Genuine Advantage" cracked in 24h: window.g_sDisableWGACheck='all'

AV sez, "This week, Microsoft started requiring users to verifiy their serial number before using Windows Update. This effort to force users to either buy XP or tell them where you got the illegal copy is called 'Genuine Advantage.' It was cracked within 24 hours."
Before pressing 'Custom' or 'Express' buttons paste this text to the address bar and press enter:


It turns off the trigger for the key check.

Link (Thanks, AV!)

Hollywood Plots End of Film Reels

I filed this story for Wired News about an announcement from Hollywood's six major studios that they have agreed on technical specs for digital distribution and display of movies. Digital Cinema Initiatives, the group founded in 2002 to bring studios, theater owners and tech manufacturers together in planning an industrywide shift to digital cinema, released version 1.0 of its requirements and specifications yesterday.

Here's the doc -- PDF Link. out of all 175 pages, nearly half are devoted to antipiracy measures.

AES 128-bit encryption of each digital movie file is part of the security prescription, as are DRM provisions. During the spec unveiling at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, panelists representing studios, theater owners, and cinematographers sat onstage, flanked by giant gold Oscars statues. Some described the shift to digital as the "biggest technology upgrade in Hollywood since talkies."

Walt Disney Company SVP of Media Technology Bob Lambert characterized the antipiracy approach for d-cinema as "military- or defense-grade," even stricter than protections designed to keep consumer DVDs off filesharing networks. "Because this is a plan for securing a B2B system," said Lambert, "The cost can be higher and the measures stronger."

I asked a few tech experts outside of Hollywood for their take:

Security provisions in the DCI spec deal mostly with what happens in theaters, and detail an open security architecture that allows a variety of tech vendors to compete and hone their technologies over time. The system proposed by DCI relies on digital rights management, watermarking, content encryption and key management. Digital movie files are to be encrypted for transport and receipt by theaters, which then would use decryption keys to unlock the content. The system is also designed to generate a data forensics bread-crumb trail, with the intent of tracing piracy incidents after the fact back to the theaters in which they occurred.

Outside Hollywood, analysts' opinions on the feasibility of the DCI security specs were mixed. "The devil is in the details," said security analyst Bruce Schneier, "and this document doesn't contain the details."

"Tracking it to the theater won't help, because attackers with camcorders could just make their visits to theaters random," said security analyst Jacob Appelbaum of LogicLibrary. "It means that the camcorders just have to fit into the crowd, and then the theaters have a reason not to adopt this. It's already against the law."

Studio representatives acknowledge that the DCI security specifications do nothing to prevent in-theater copying of movies, which remains a top piracy method. "These technical solutions won't solve internal theft by camcorders," said John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners. "But we're working on human-resources solutions and incentives to help address that part of the problem."

Others cited the difficulties involved in the plan's "forensic watermarking" provisions. "There's no such thing as a watermark that is both invisible and hard to remove, because by definition, a watermark that adds no perceptible information to a signal leaves no perceptible change behind after it is removed," said Cory Doctorow, European-outreach coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Link to Wired News story.

Kiwi hotel made of plane, hill and train

This awesome New Zealand hotel built out of a hillside, and a defunct train and plane has three sleeping options:

"Sleeping inside a 1950's Bristol Freighter Plane refurbished into 2 beautiful motel rooms.

"Sleeping inside a 1950's Rail Carriage 3 room motel unit, which sleeps six.

"Sleeping like a Hobbit--underground with a circular window." Link (Thanks, Mark!)

Update: Jon sez: "This reminded me of a relic of the Iran-contra affair that was converted into a restaurant/bar in Quepos, Costa Rica." How cool -- I used to live pretty close to Quepos in a squatter/refugee village on the Nicaraguan border and the locals had lots of stories about disused Contra airstrips in the bush.

Homeland Security's covert surveillance truck

This is a photo tour through a Department of Homeland Security covert surveillance truck. Site includes links to details of many other DHS vehicles. Link (Thanks, Bill!)

Cory's Worldcon schedule

Next week, Glasgow will host the Interaction, the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention. I'll be attending and doing a number of program items, including some stufff on Creative Commons and a reading from my new novel-in-progress. Here's an overview of my program items:

Friday August 5:
10:00am You've Plugged _What_ into It? Hardware Hacking is an increasingly popular pastime. Also the advent of computer control has revolutionised many hobbies, e.g. amateur astrophotography. (with Martin Hoare amd Jordin Kare)

Noon: Clones, Children or Countless Lives If everyone lives forever, or is endlessly reincarnated, where do we put them? And can anyone reproduce in any other way? (with Simon Bradshaw, Anne K. Gay, Richard Morgan and Eric M. Van)

5:00pm: Is Genius Gendered? One lone genius and an attractive assistant (fill in the genders) save the world. Our panel gives media and literary SF examples, and discuss how changing the gender might change other things. (with Sean McMullen and Connie Willis)

Saturday, August 6:
2:30pm: Signing at the Borderlands Books table

6:00pm: Fannish Currency: Whuffie, Egoboo and Chocolate (Fandom has for a long time had a potlatch economy, where you give things away in the expectation of egoboo, or fannish kudos. How does this translate to the Internet Age?) (with Christina Lake, Mike Scott and Suzanne Tompkins)

Sunday, August 7:
10:00am AI: the Aliens We Make? Aliens and AI are both Other, but where one comes from Out There, the other lives Down Here. Are they really the same thing -- and either way, what difference does it make? (with David Gerrold, Ian McDonald, Charles Stross and Tricia Sullivan)

Noon: Creative Commons 101. A Primer for the Interested

2:00pm Reading

Monday, August 8:
10:00am: Standing up for our (Copy)rights Contrasting views on the benefits and hazards authors see in sharing (or having their work shared) online. (with Andrew Adams, David Cake and Christopher Priest)

Hope to see you there! Link

Costikyan's jeremiad against the video game industry

VIrtuoso game designer Greg Costikyan (Paranoia, Toon, VIllains and Vigilantes, many others) has posted a PowerPoint deck from a presentation ("Death to the Games Industry! Long Live Games!") he gave to an indie games conference in Melbourne, Australia. It's an excellent, inflammatory jeremiad against the status quo in the video game industry, where spending is going up, profits are doing down, and diversity is withering on the vine. Link

Economics of used books

Here's a fantastic NYT article on the economics of the used book market. Many writers' orgs are freaked out because Amazon features used and new books alongside of one another, worried that used books will displace new book sales (there's also a lot of hoo-ha about review copies, publishers' rejects, and copies stolen from the printers, but even added up these account for an insignificant proportion of all but the smallest, most specialized book-runs). But economists understand that a market for used goods fuels a market for new goods -- would you pay nearly so much for your next car if you knew you couldn't sell it as used when you wanted to buy your next one? (this is one of the hidden, but gigantic downsides of DRM -- by prohibiting the market for used iTunes and other virtual goods, the sellers devalue their own products).
According to the researchers' calculations, Amazon earns, on average, $5.29 for a new book and about $2.94 on a used book. If each used sale displaced one new sale, this would be a less profitable proposition for Amazon.

But Mr. Bezos is not foolish. Used books, the economists found, are not strong substitutes for new books. An increase of 10 percent in new book prices would raise used sales by less than 1 percent. In economics jargon, the cross-price elasticity of demand is small.

One plausible explanation of this finding is that there are two distinct types of buyers: some purchase only new books, while others are quite happy to buy used books. As a result, the used market does not have a big impact in terms of lost sales in the new market.

Moreover, the presence of lower-priced books on the Amazon Web site, Mr. Bezos has noted, may lead customers to "visit our site more frequently, which in turn leads to higher sales of new books." The data appear to support Mr. Bezos on this point.

Link (via O'Reilly Radar)

Rap translation of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Barney sez, "A rap artist has translated some of the best known works of poet Geoffrey Chaucer into hip-hop to make them appeal to schoolchildren."
And up they stirte, al dronken in this rage,
And forth they goon towardes that village
Of which the taverner hadde spoke biforn.
And many a grisly ooth thanne han they sworn,

Rap Version:
When he'd said his piece
The rest agreed, and the three friends hit the streets
And went to seek their destiny and provoke a confrontation,
In a drunken rage hoping Death would come and face them.
Their intoxication made them sure of their purpose

Link (Thanks, Barney!)

Scientist photoblogs own brain tumor removal

David LaPuma is a grad student scientist at Rutgers who is battling brain cancer had a benign meningioma. He documented his own surgery in snapshots, and explains:
I guess putting it all on(the)line was partially my way of dealing with it, and also a way that I could share the experience with both the people I know and those I don't know (but who might be considering a similar procedure). The whole experience has been quite amazing, and I really feel fortunate to be recovering so quickly.
Link to photo set. Contains graphic images, unicorn chaser advised. Get well soon, David. (Thanks, Jake, and I see Mindhacks has a related post. Thanks for the clarification, David!.)

Futuro Houses: prefab space kitsch

Here's a terrific article in the New York Times about Futuro houses.
The circular house, 11 feet high and 26 feet across, was designed by Matti Suuronen, a Finnish architect, in 1968. A hatch door in its lower half opened down to reveal steps, like the door of a small airplane, and led into a room outfitted with six plastic bed-chair combinations and a central fireplace slab, as well as a kitchenette and a bathroom. Photographs from the time make the house look like a place where the Teletubbies might live, with Barbarella as a frequent houseguest.

Mika Taanila, a Finnish filmmaker who helped start the Futuro revival with his 1998 documentary "Futuro: A New Stance for Tomorrow," said he became interested in the houses because they seemed to represent the mood of the late 1960's so precisely. They reflected the era's "economic boom and optimism about the future," he said in a telephone interview from Finland. "Suuronen could not have come up with the idea 15 years earlier or 10 years later."

Part of that optimism was about the potential for plastics and prefabrication to radically lower the cost of housing, in the revolutionary spirit of 1968. The Futuro, which was made of polyester plastic and fiberglass and which sold in the United States for between $12,000 and $14,000, was one of many experimental plastic houses at the time. It came in 16 pieces that could easily be moved by truck or helicopter and set up in a couple of days.

Link to story. Image above: a Futuro house owned by Richard Pisani -- who uses it as a home theater. Shot by Peter Thompson for the NYT.

Here's a review of the book Futuro: Tomorrow's House from Yesterday, by Marko Home and Mika Taanila. You can buy it here.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Futuro House: better living from the Gernsback Continuum
Relocation of Futuro-House

Cory's story in current Adbusters

The current July/August 2005 issue of the amazing magazine Adbusters includes a reprint of my story "To Market, To Market, the Re-Branding of Billy Bailey," which was originally published in the British sf magazine Interzone. It got a lot of favorable critical attention when it was first published -- it's a comedic story about junior-high students who create and market personal brands, accepting street-crew sponsorshipd from various companies. You can pick up the current Adbusters at most decent newsstands and bookstores.
Billy and Principal Andrew Alty went all the way back to kindergarten, when Billy had convinced Mitchell McCoy that the green fingerpaint was Shamrock Shake, and watched with glee as the little babyface had scarfed it all down. Billy knew that Andrew Alty knew his style: refined, controlled, and above all, _personal_. Billy never would've dropped a dozen M-80s down the girls' toilet. His stuff was always one-on-one, and possessed of a degree of charm and subtlety.

But nevertheless, here was Billy, along with the sixth-grade bumper-crop of nasty-come-latelies, called on the carpet in front of Andrew Alty's massive desk. Andrew Alty was an athletic forty, a babyface true-and-through, and a charismatic thought-leader in his demographic.

Hormones. They were the problem.

Billy Bailey was the finest heel the sixth grade had ever seen -- a true artisan who kept his brand pure and unsullied, picking and managing his strategic alliances with the utmost care and acumen. He'd dumped BanginBumpin Fireworks (a division of The Shanghai Novelty Company, Ltd.) in the _fourth_ grade, fer chrissakes. Their ladyfingers were too small to bother with; their M-80s were so big that you'd have to be a lunatic to go near them.

But sixth grade was the Year of the Hormone at Pepsi Elementary. Boys who'd been babyfaces since kindergarten suddenly sprouted acne, pubic hair, and an uncontrollable urge to impress girls. Their weak brands were no match for the onslaught of -osterones and -ogens that flooded their brains, and in short order they found themselves switching over to heel.

As a result, the sixth grade was experiencing a heel glut. Last year's Little Lord Fauntleroys were now busy snapping bras, dropping textbooks, cracking grading computers, and blowing up the girls' toilets.

Hormones. They made Billy want to puke.


Richard Branson claims to own all uses of "virgin"

Catherine sez, "Bazillionaire Richard Branson of Virgin Enterprises is suing little guy Jason Yang, proprietor of Virgin Threads for trademark infringement. Yang, whose sole source of income is the site, and who supports a young family, is fighting the lawsuit, arguing that no one should be able to trademark a common word. Classic David and Goliath story."
Virgin Enterprises filed a federal lawsuit against and several others using virgin* domain names, accusing them of trademark infringement, dilution, and cyberpiracy. All for using a word that's been in the English language for far longer than mogul Branson has been using it as a trademark for his businesses. As David Bollier asks in a CNN Money story on the subject, "If anyone can lay claim to that word, shouldn't it be the Catholic church?"

m Traditional trademark law, concerned with consumer confusion, finds infringement when one use of a mark tends to deceive consumers about the source of goods or services they're buying. Dilution goes beyond that to allow the holder of a "famous" mark to bar use that "causes dilution of the distinctive quality of the mark," even outside the trademark holder's realm of goods. Dilution is a big gun, and one rightly limited to distinctive coined terms and actual harm, as the Supreme Court ruled when it held that "Victor's Little Secret" did not dilute "Victoria's Secret."

Link (Thanks, Catherine!)

Michael Palin's travel books online for free

Former Python Michael Palin has made a name for himself lately as a brilliant travel-writer and the host of a series of excellent travel documentaries. He has put the full text of all of his amazing travel-books online for free. They're spread out across multiple html pages, unfortunately, so they're not suited to downloading for reading on your phone on the Tube in the morning, but man is this ever a step in the right direction.

Around the World in 80 Days
Pole to Pole
Full Circle
Hemingway Adventure
Sahara with Michael Palin

Link (Thanks, Chris!)

Six-shooter BBQ weight 2 tons, is 10' long

Courtesy of the BBQ Report, this home-made Texan (natch!) BBQ in the shape of a giant six-shooter: "The barrel is 10 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, and the entire rig is over 15 feet long. The pistol's grips, which cover the firebox, are made of red oak. When cooking, the barrel acts as the grill's chimney. It took over two years and 1,100 hours to complete, and used more than two tons of red oak, stainless, and carbon steel." Link (Thanks, Duane!)

Pieter Hugo's photos: Hyena people of Nigeria

The thought that popped into my head when I first saw this incredible photo was, "next time you're overcome with delusions of badassitude, remember this and say -- no you are not tough. This is tough."

Pieter Hugo's photo series "Hyena People of Nigeria" is the result of a ten-day trek the South African photographer took with a group of wandering minstrels and their animal companions: three hyenas, two pythons and four monkeys. Shown here: "Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Nigeria, 2005"

Here's a snip from a "making of" interview with Hugo:

‘Last year I saw a picture on a website that was taken from a car window in Nigeria,” says Pieter Hugo. “It showed a man with a hyena on the streets of Lagos.”

Seated on a restaurant balcony overlooking Cape Town’s city bowl, the tall, athletic photographer says it was this crude photograph that motivated him to visit Nigeria. “The caption said he was a debt collector,” he continues, a glass of wine and salad placed in front of him. “The photograph really intrigued me.”

Through a local researcher Hugo was introduced to Adetokunbo Abiola, a Nigerian journalist who emailed him to say he knew of the men (there were more than one) in the picture. A few weeks later Hugo nervously exited Lagos airport on his first visit to the country."

Link. See this post on Clayton Cubitt's blog for a slew of additional links about Hugo's work.

Previously on Boing Boing: Hyenas and baboons for pets

Security researcher quits job and blows whistle on Cisco's fatal flaws

Michael Lynn is a security researcher who worked at the security firm ISS until yesterday. Now he's under a restraining order from Cisco, arising from his disclosure of critical flaws in Cisco's routers that threaten the world's information infrastructure.

Lynn had found a buffer overflow exploit that lets an attacker take absolute control over Cisco routers. He sent the details to Cisco in April, but they still have not fully repaired the vulnerability. Since many of the world's key routers are supplied by Cisco, this means Cisco's foot-dragging places large parts of the world's information infrastructure at grave risk of collapse.

Lynn proposed to disclose this vulnerability at Black Hat, the respected Las Vegas security conference. Cisco threatened to sue, claiming they were defending their "intellectual property."

The conference and Lynn's employer agreed to yank the presentation, and Cisco employees spent eight hours ripping Lynn's research out of the printed program books before they were handed out to attendees. Lynn agreed to give a different talk.

Then, fewer than two hours before his presentation, Lynn announced his resignation from ISS. He got up on stage and delivered his original presentation. Cisco went ballistic and got a restraining order against Lynn and the conference forbidding them from further discussing this.

This SecurityFocus article is amazing -- the gutsy quotes from Lynn in particular are inspiring. This guy is my new hero.

"I feel I had to do what's right for the country and the national infrastructure," he said. "It has been confirmed that bad people are working on this (compromising IOS). The right thing to do here is to make sure that everyone knows that it's vulnerable..."

Lynn outlined a way to take control of an IOS-based router, using a buffer overflow or a heap overflow, two types of memory vulnerabilities. He demonstrated the attack using a vulnerability that Cisco fixed in April. While that flaw is patched, he stressed that the attack can be used with any new buffer overrun or heap overflow, adding that running code on a router is a serious threat.

"When you attack a host machine, you gain control of that machine--when you control a router, you gain control of the network," Lynn said...

"It is especially regretful, and indefensible, that the Black Hat Conference organizers have given Mr. Lynn a platform to publicly disseminate the information he illegally obtained," [CIsco] said in a statement. "We appreciate the cooperation we have received from ISS in this matter. We are working with ISS to continue our joint research in the area of security vulnerabilities..."

In the latest case, ISS and Lynn contacted Cisco in April to report their process for using a vulnerability in IOS to run a program on a Cisco router. The networking fixed the vulnerability in the operating system, but did nothing to prevent attackers from running programs on the devices using the broad techniques Lynn described, the researcher said.

During his presentation, Lynn outlined an eight step process using any known, but unpatched flaw, to compromise a Cisco IOS-based router. While he did not publish any vulnerabilities, Lynn said that finding new flaws would not be hard...

"What I just did means that I'm about to get sued by Cisco and ISS," Lynn said, joking later that he may be "in Guantanamo" by the end of the week...

"What politicians are talking about when they talk about the Digital Pearl Harbor is a network worm," he said. "That's what we could see in the future, if this isn't fixed."

Link (Thanks, Pablos!)

Update: James sez, "I am a source close to Mr. Lynn.

"Things to note: Lynn and ISS contacted Cisco about this vulnerability in April and it was fixed. Vulnerable versions are no longer available from Cisco. Cisco and ISS both initially support Lynn's presentation at Black Hat. Cisco had, initially, commited to sending a representative to corraborate Lynn's findings. Lynn had been planning to give this presentation since then, which was months in advance, with the consent of both ISS and Cisco.

"On Monday before the conference Cisco and ISS decided to pull the presentation with vague reasons given. This prompted the actions by Lynn on Wednesday, resignation and release.

"It is important to note and propogate that Lynn did go through the corrrect channels for release: he contacted the vendor, the vendor issued a fix. At this point, normally, public release would be allowed and expected."

Fourth amendment apparel

New Yorkers who don't like the recently implemented random searches on subways might dig these t-shirts and bags bearing the text of the Fourth Amendment and "I do not consent to this search!"

Not your thing? Then check the related undies that state "I consent to this search," and solicit random acts of person-parts seizure.
Link to "nosearch" store. (Thanks, Michael)