Boing Boing 

Beautiful Nooka watches

I'm literally salivating over these two handsome watches, the Nooka Zoo (left) and Zot (right), which sell for $250 each at Elsewares. Something about the face design just hits me square between the eyes, a mix of utterly impractical timekeeping UI (how cool is it that we can do builds and manufacturing of electronics in small enough quantities to make this kind of UI viable?) and handsome layout. Nooka Zoo Link, Nooka Zot Link (Thanks, Alice!)

Miami Vice movie's anti-piracy line a plant?

A reporter for The Inquirer suggests that the anti-piracy throwaway line in the execrable Miami Vice movie was actually paid for by the Business Software Alliance:
There was a scene in Miami Vice where they were discussing the big bad drug dealers, and how international they were. The good guys listed all the thing the bad guys were capable of bringing into the US, Cocaine, Heroin, etc etc. They listed it as coke from Coumbia, heroin from Afganistan, X from Y and A from B. Pretty normal stuff. At the end, they added 'pirated software from China'. Blink.

Now, had they listed anything other than drugs and software, it might not have been so blatant. If they had listed pirated software any other time in the movie, I might not have noticed, but this one was pretty obviously a plant. Don't go see the movie, it isn't worth it, but if you do, pay attention for this bit, you will see exactly how much it stands out. The movie makers could not afford people to do decent dialog, and it seems the DRM infectors could not either.

Link (Thanks, Charlie!)

Why the CBC doesn't need DRM

A blog post from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation defended its practice of forcing Canadians to use American DRM software like Windows Media Player to watch the programming they pay for with their tax dollars, making the preposterous claim that if it didn't use DRM it would be sued. Canadian Internet law scholar Michael Geist takes apart the post and shows how the CBC could deliver more value to the people who pay for it by abandoning DRM.
First, there are many other public broadcasters who not only reject DRM, but have adopted open licenses (RadioBras in Brazil makes all of its content available under Creative Commons licenses). Second, there is no legal requirement to use DRM under Canadian law. If certain rights holders demand DRM use, the CBC has an alternative. It can reject those demands and choose instead to use only music that rights holders permit to be broadcast without DRM.

There is no shortage of such music. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Creative Commons licensed songs and the thousands of classical music recordings in the public domain, the majority of Canadian independent labels reject the use of the DRM. Those labels are responsible for 90 percent of new Canadian music, so it seems to me that the CBC will have lots of Canadian content to choose from in its broadcasts and streams. Most of the music that may require DRM protection is likely that from foreign labels promoting foreign artists. While it would be great to include them in CBC broadcasts, Canada's public broadcaster should be rejecting DRM and moving toward as open a platform as possible. The inclusion of greater Canadian content and the ability to truly meet its mandate to be as accessible as possible to all Canadians make this the obvious path to take.

Link (Thanks, Michael!)

Aussie mall defends its photons from terrorists

A Melbourne shopping center and tourist attraction have banned photographs, in order to prevent terrorism. Because all terrorism begins with the devilish capture of precious photons. Once these photons have been taken away to the terrorists' spider caves, they are converted into terrorist photons and re-released at the speed of light to attack their targets with relatavistic savageness.

Naive Australians have aided the cause of terrorism by walking around with their own cameras, taking photos of the "no-photography" signs, not suspecting that their cameras are secret members of Al-Qamera, and that many of the photons they "innocently" capture are sent via steganographic means to Afghanistan Iraq Iran for processing at secret photon-camps.

"At no times do we permit photography in our back-of-house areas, in or surrounding our restrooms and within individual retail tenancies," a spokeswoman said. "There are safety, security, privacy and copyright issues which need to be considered with all photography and filming within the centre, and we reserve the right to ask people to stop filming or photographing if it is deemed inappropriate."
Link (Photo thumbnail taken from a larger picture credited to Dallas Goldberg)

Hello Kitty anti-RFID skimming sleeves

A Japanese vendor called Shelly sells Hello Kitty (and other characters) RFID-card sleeves that shield them from "skimmers" who read the card and copy its contents, so that later they can spend your money, break into your car or home, ride the subway as you, etc.

Of course, this negates much of the value of RFID cards: no more can you merely wave your handbag at a turnstile. Now you have to get your card out, remove the radio-proof sleeve, and then rub the naked card over the reader.

And at that moment, if a skimmer happens to have a directional antenna pointing at the turnstile, well, then she can read (and clone) your card. Link (via Beyond the Beyond)

Tomato with human face

This mutant tomato has become a celebrity in the Japanese city of Yawata, Kyoto. From MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
TomatofaceThe tomato, which is about 10 centimeters in diameter and weighs about 150 grams, is of the regular "Momotaro" variety, but is about three times the normal size. It was harvested in Yawata from a field owned by 61-year-old farmer Kiyoshi Ueda.
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

Zoo fights heat with meat ice-cream

A Swiss zoo is coping with record high temperatures by preparing "meat ice cream" for its animals:
The "alternative ice cream" offered to animals instead of their usual fare has been a big hit with large cats, apes and wolves, Zurich Zoo said in a statement. "The ice cream should at least offer the animals a temporary way to cool down," it said.
Link (via We Make Money Not Art)

HOWTO make a bright wig out of yarn

The creator of this HOWTO for making wigs out of yarn describes it as a project to "all that cheap, bright acrylic yarn one finds in craft shops." It looks like it'd be a great autumn hat, too. Link (via JWZ)

Noise can make you smarter

Wired Magazine interviews Bart Kosko, author of Noise, a book that argues that adding noise to our signals can actually make them clearer.
Can background music make you smarter?
The more you can concentrate with background noise, the more it strengthens the brain. Isaac Asimov used to set his typewriter up in stores and other loud places to work. His claim was that you get really good at writing when you’re in a crowd. You want to be energized by that background noise, rather than distracted.
Amen to that. I love working in energetic places like subways, cafes, airport lounges and hotel lobbies. I don't like people actually interrupting me with questions or whatever, but I love working in busy places where everyone is doing her/his own thing. Link

Arrested for taking a pic of a cop arresting someone else

Thomas Hawk sez,
Apparently Philadelphia Police arrested Neftaly Cruz after he took a photo of them arresting a suspected drug dealer. One of Cruz's neighbors gave this recap.

""He opened up the gate and Neffy was coming down and he went up to Neffy, pulled him down, had Neffy on the car and was telling him, 'You should have just went in the house and minded your own business instead of trying to take pictures off your picture phone,'" said Gerrell Martin."

Our ability to photograph the police should be unquestioned. Without it things like the Rodney King incident might never see the light of day. If this occured as Cruz, his family, and neighbors allege, this is a clear abuse of police power and those resposible should be disciplined for this action.

Link (Thanks, Thomas!)

Unedited On The Road to be published

The original, unedited manuscript of On The Road that Jack Kerouac pounded out in three weeks on long rolls of paper will be published for the first time next year.
 Bonzai-Fba Third Party Photo 2006 07 27 1153978359 9437

From the Boston Globe:
...In time to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication, the version of ``On the Road" that Kerouac wrote on the scroll will be published next year in book form for the first time, said John Sampas of Lowell, the executor of the writer's literary estate and the brother of his third wife, Stella. It will include some sections that had been cut from the novel because of references to sex or drugs...

The scroll contains numerous passages that were edited out of the book and uses the original names of characters who were closely modeled on friends of Kerouac, including fellow writers William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg...

It remains to be seen exactly how (publisher Viking Penguin) will present the original Kerouac story, which was typed as one freewheeling, single-spaced paragraph. Eager to write freely and continuously, without pausing to pull finished pages from his typewriter and insert new ones, Kerouac typed instead on 12-foot rolls of paper that he later Scotch-taped together, Sampas said...

Some specialists say they prefer the unedited version, which features a different first sentence than the published novel, as well as a more abrupt ending.

Weapons of Mass Confection: Norwegian pie-tosser in trouble

BoingBoing reader Ross Nelson says,
A student who threw a cake at Norway's Finance Minister is being charged with committing "a crime against the Norwegian Constitution" and could get up to 15 years in prison. No word on the penalty for flinging a pie without a license.

Convicted Aryan Brotherhood bosses used 400-year old crypto

Big news in California today -- after a five month trial and two weeks of deliberation, a jury in Santa Ana has convicted two leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang of racketeering and murder. Barry "The Baron" Mills and Tyler (at right) "The Hulk" Bingham (at left) were found guilty of ordering attacks on black inmates from maximum security cellblocks, and are now eligible for the death penalty. How did they order hits from within such high-security cells? With 400-year-old crypto, and invisible ink made from urine. Snip from Los Angeles Times story:
One of the government's star witnesses, Al Benton, a high-ranking Brotherhood defector, testified that he stabbed a victim through the throat after receiving a smuggled order from Bingham, who was incarcerated 1,700 miles away at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colo. Benton testified that the order was written in invisible ink, which came into view when held over a flame. (...)

By the government's account, Brotherhood leaders ran the gang's far-reaching network by adapting ingeniously to the tight surveillance conditions in maximum-security lockups. To transmit messages, the gang employed an elaborate system of codes and cryptograms – including a 400-year-old binary alphabet system devised by Sir Francis Bacon – as well as more prosaic jailhouse ruses, such as slipping notes in mop handles and under recreation yard rocks.

Jurors learned about the gang's reading list, which included Nietzsche, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu's "The Art of War." They learned how to make knives from the shaved-off sliver of a light fixture. And with a cast of eccentric criminal witnesses, they witnessed strange, tangential exchanges, as when defense attorney Michael White cross-examined Chris Risk, who said he robbed banks to protest the treatment of American Indians.

Link. Here's more about "Bacon's Cipher": Link.

Questions for Sony regarding its ebook device

I was pleasantly surprised by this email message I got from Bennett Kleinberg at Goodman Media International:
200607281627 Dear Mark -

I am part of the PR team working with Sony on the launch of the Reader (PRS-500) ebook reading device.

As I am sure you are aware, a great deal of information and misinformation has been floating around the internet about the product since its announcement at CES in January 2005.

To help clear up some of the confusion, we would like to offer you and your readers an opportunity to speak with Sony directly about the Reader to dispel some of the myth that has surrounded its rollout.

As a first step, we would like to suggest compiling questions from your readers about the device. I will then share them directly with a senior member of Sony’s product team for response. Hopefully, if all works well, we can work together to separate fact from fiction about the Reader.

Phil Torrone at MAKE got the same email and he has already compiled a big list of questions and has invited readers to do the same.

I am a huge fan of reading eBooks on my Palm (I've spent hundreds of dollars at, and read lots of free books from and I would love to have an eInk device that isn't DRMed up the wazoo. The fact that Sony wants to talk to potential customers is a positive step. Link

Dude, your Dell just freakin' blew up.

Following up on a string of recent reports that Dell laptop batteries may sometimes self-immolate without warning, BoingBoing reader Humphrey Cheung says, "One of our forum posters has a story and pictures of a burnt Dell laptop. He also has pictures of the smoke covered office, fire trucks and the burnt battery." Link.

I'm no expert on this stuff, but as a former Dell bitter victim owner and user (now a happy Mac convert) I have a hunch this is because everything Dell is made in Hell.

Reader commentses: several follow after the jump....

Read the rest

More Americans "too fat for x-rays," say radiology researchers

The increasing number of obese Americans means two things for radiology: first, many are too heavy to be safely accommodated by scanning devices. Second, more people have so much body mass, the rays can't penetrate enough to yield quality imaging. Here's a BBC story summarizing a Radiology Journal report from the publication's August 2006 issue and here's a free abstract. The full text requires subscription. The synopsis:
Advances in imaging technology between 1989 and 2003 have focused on improving image quality; however, there has been a small but progressively increasing number of radiology reports described as "limited by body habitus."
I believe that's docspeak for human fat. As in, "Honey, does this body habitus make my butt look big?" (Thanks, Joe)

Kite aerial photography rig

200607281414 Learn how to take pictures from the sky with Bre Pettis' kite aerial photography rig in this weeks MAKE Weekend Project video. Link

Insane playground stunt with scooter and merry-go-round

Scooter jackasses Watch these kids spin around on a playground merry-go-round powered by the rear tire of a scooter. Death-defying fun for junior jackasses. Link

All about condoms in India

200607281354 Here's a bottomless page about condoms in India, including countless scans of condom packages, print ads, and this, the "world's first condom bike." (relatively safe for work) Link

Amateur video of new Bravia ad in Glasgow

Picture 3-13 Greg Wallace says: "You may remember the last Bravia Ad, the one with the colored balls falling down the street, this time Sony attacked an old multi story flat scheduled for demolition, with amazing effect!" Link

Israel using SMS, recorded voicemail in Lebanon psyops

Snip from BBC report:
According to US magazine Time, Israel has been targeting SMS text messages at local officials in southern Lebanon, urging them to move north of the Litani river before Israeli military operations intensified. On Friday, residents of southern Lebanon reported receiving recorded messages on their mobile phones from an unknown caller. The speaker identified himself as an Israeli and warned people in the area to leave their homes and head north.
Link, and here is the referenced Time article: Link. (Thanks, Jamie)

Watching Beirut Die

Snip from a Salon essay by Anthony Bourdain:

We went to Beirut to film a TV show about the city's newly vibrant culinary and cultural scene. Then the bombs started falling, and we could only stand on the barricades of our hotel balcony and watch it all disappear -- again.

From where I'm sitting, poolside, I can see the airport burning -- the last of the jet fuel cooking off like a dying can of sterno. There's a large, black plume of smoke coming from the South of the city -- just over the rise, where the most recent airstrikes have been targeting the Shiite neighborhoods and what are, presumably, Hezbollah-associated structures. My camera crew and I missed it the first time they hit the airport. Slept right through it. Woke up in our snug hotel sheets to the news that we wouldn't be making television in Beirut (not the show we came to do anyway), and that we wouldn't be getting out of here anytime soon.

Any hopes of runway repair followed by a flight out disappeared two nights ago, when we watched from the balcony of my hotel room as missiles, fired from off shore, twinkled brightly for a few long seconds in the air, then dropped in lazy parabolic arcs onto the fuel tanks.

Link. Photo: Stephanie Sinclair/Corbis -- "Prewar partygoers enjoy the music and atmosphere at 1975, a bar whose theme is the country's civil war." (Thanks, Cyrus)

Satellite photos reveal lilliputian China in China

Alan says: "This post at the Sydney Morning Herald describes an military facility in the desert of China which someone spotted in recently released hi-res photos in Google Earth. It's a 500:1, 700 x 900 meter scale model of the territory China took from India in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. There has been a lot of discussion, and many humorous suggestions, but nobody has figured out its function."
 Ffximage 2006 07 20 Googlearth1 Wideweb  470X283,0 The Chinese site based in the very remote Huangyangtan region, appears to be a small-scale model of a piece of territory complete with snow-topped mountains, streams and valleys. The find, recorded by a German member of a Google Earth community site, has triggered speculation that the site might have a military purpose.

Fretboard Journal Vol 3 on sale

The new issue of Fretboard Journal (Vol 3) is out and it is full of taut-stringed goodness.
Fj3 CoverSinger-songwriter Guy Clark is our cover story. Inside are interviews with Bill Collings of Collings Guitars, Bob Taylor (on his new R. Taylor guitars), banjo legend Wade Mainer and much, much more. It’ll show up in most stores around the first week of August.

Free ebook about the Beatles' Revolver

Ray Newman says: "August marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' 1966 album Revolver. I've spent two years working on a short book about the making of the album which is available as a free PDF download. It's licensed under Creative Commons"

(The ebook is 130 pages long, and I skimmed it just now. It looks fantastic! -- Mark)

200607281318 Revolver wasn't so much released as it leaked out over the course of some weeks.

Firstly, there was the advance guard – a hot-of-the presses Revolver sessions single, “Paperback Writer” backed with “Rain”, released in the USA in May and shortly afterwards, on June 10th, in the UK. Here was Revolver in microcosm – a kind of trailer for the LP – with compressed bass, backwards vocals, Indian influences, Beach Boys inspired vocals, LSDinspired imagery, and heavily treated vocals. Their last single, released almost six months earlier, had been a double A-side with the folky, earthy “We Can Work It Out” and straight-up plastic soul tune “Day Tripper”. Whilst it can be hard to see the dividing line between Rubber Soul and Revolver, it seems fairly clear cut when you listen to those singles in succession.


Meet Ren & Stimpy creator John K in SF this weekend

Picture 2-13 "John Kricfalusi is bringing armloads of cartoon fun to cover the tastes of every living being in San Francisco." He'll be at the Castro Theatre and the Cartoon Art Museum. Link

RU Sirius interviews ex-USWeb CEO who claimed extraterrestrials had visited Earth

There's an interview with Joe Firmage on this week's RU Sirius Show. Firmage became legendary when he retired as CEO of USWeb in 1999 after claiming that extraterrestrials had visited earth. And Jamais Cascio, cofounder of, talks about "the participatory panopticon" on this week's NeoFiles.
Joe Firmage: I did have an unusual experience one morning at my home in Los Gatos. It was either a visitor, a vision, or a bad potato.

The top 50 movie endings of all time

Last week I was talking with my friend, who is a writer and director, about The Game, starring Michael Douglas. My friend said he enjoyed the "ride" of the movie as he was watching it, but in the back of his mind he kept thinking that the movie's ending was going to be hugely disappointing. And it was (for him at least).

A good ending is important in a movie, and Chris Null and his crew at Film Critic have put together a fun list of the Top 50 Movie Endings of All Time. (As you might expect, it has spoilers in it, so if you haven't seen one of the movies, read the entry for it at your own peril.)

 Misc Mepics.Nsf View Ending5 $File Ending5 13. Citizen Kane (1941) - Well, we kind of have to put this one on the list, don't we? One of the earliest examples of don't-spill-the-secret endings and also I've-been-robbed anti-climax, that little wooden sled explains everything and explains nothing about Charles Foster Kane, but it's the elusive piece of the jigsaw that drives one of the greatest movies ever made.
(BTW, Wikipedia says "rosebud" allegedly was a "nickname used by [William Randolph] Hearst to refer to the clitoris of his mistress", Marion Davies.) Link

Parody Video: Day of the Longtail

Parody trailer for a zombie-alien-deathwar movie version of Chris Anderson's book, "The Long Tail." Includes spiffy rework of the preamble from "War of the Worlds."

"The old world of media faces an invasion from another planet. The horror. The horror." Created by Michael Markman, Peter Hirshberg, and Bob Kalsey. Link to video, and here's the maker's blog post about it. (thanks, mediamonger!)

Chanel, Dior, Gucci... Blackwater?

There are many brands you might expect to see in chic Paris boutiques, but Blackwater is probably not one of them.

BoingBoing reader and roaming couture trendspotter Hal Bringman was in Paris this week, and noticed a line of Blackwater-branded clothing and accessories promoted at one store.

For the sniper in your life who has everything -- ok, everything *but* a spiffy men's polo emblazoned with the logo of the world's most renowned mercenary machine.

Link to another photo, and another, and another, and another. The sign on the door promises "Security of the future."

"The store's name is Multiforma - Scanner, Security & Auto (self) Defense located in the Gallerie des Arcades/Boutiques, Paris," says Hal. "How can the company that is our government's hired rent-an-assassin -- er, I mean security force for emergencies/disasters be in a position to now be exploiting this as a brand worldwide?"

Reader comment: Rob Walker says,

Those who don't want to to paris can get a blackwater tactical polo for $30 right off their web site. In the Pro Shop... Also slings, holsters, shot glasses, etc. Even an xmas ornament.