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Defensetech's top 20 posts of 2006

Noah Shachtman at Defensetech rounds up 20 of the year's most memorable posts about military technology:
(1) Clowns Sabotage Nuke Missile
On Tuesday morning, a retired Catholic priest and two veterans put on clown suits, busted into a nuclear missile launch facility, and began beating the silo cover with hammers, in an attempt to take the Minuteman III missile off-line. Seriously.

(2) Look Out, Pyongyang? Rail Gun in the Works
One of the big selling points of the Navy's new destroyer is that it can rain a whole lot of hell -- 20 rocket-propelled artillery shells, in less than a minute -- on targets up to 63 nautical miles away... But really, that's the start. The ship's real power will come when it moves away from chemical powders to shoot its projectiles -- and starts relying on electromagnetic fields to shoot projectiles almost six kilometers/second, instead.

Link to full list.

Web Zen: New Year's Eve music zen

  • interweb medley
  • brooklynradio
  • cover songs
  • stairway to heaven
  • etherbeat
  • hawaiian warchant special
  • zoe radio
  • on the download
  • 90hz
  • tim westwoood soundboard
  • exopolis mixtape
  • designer mixtape
  • tunefind

    Web Zen Home, Store (Thanks Frank!)

  • HOWTO make Green Eggs and Ham

    I do not like them on a website.
    I do not like them day or night.
    I do not like green eggs and ham.
    I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
    Link, and background here: Link. (Thanks, Michale)

    Previously on BoingBoing:

  • Green-glowing pigs
  • Dr. Seuss taxidermy
  • Dr Seuss's anti-malaria GI comic
  • Dr. Seuss' "Gerald McBoing Boing" on MP3
  • More BB posts on Dr. Seuss and Theodor Geisel

    Reader comment: Mike says,

    As a side note, it is somewhat interesting to note that green eggs can be made without the use of food coloring. A little grape jelly will have the same effect (although not as profound).

    Grape juice (and a number of other fruits and vegetables) contain molecules that act as a sort of litmus test. The molecules change pigment based on the PH of their environment. In the case of egg whites, it turns green (indicating a PH > 7). Link to New Scientist article.

    Nick says,
    Bob (The Surreal Gourmet) Blumer made a slightly more appetising 'Green Eggs and Ham' with prosciutto and 'Eggs' made from cantaloupe (for the green 'white') and honeydew (for the 'yolk'). Not a very literal interpretation, but one I'd rather see on my breakfast plate. Link.
    Michelle says,
    There was a fantastic cafe in Mt Eden (Auckland, New Zealand) called Solla Sollew that offered green eggs and ham. Their version was 'green' simply by covering it a fresh herb pesto. It was absolutely delicious and I haven't tasted anything quite as good since.

    The cafe itself was delightful, large artworks of Seuss characters around the walls, trippy murals on the toilet walls and on the outside of the building, Seuss books available to read, kids and dogs welcome. A real community-minded cafe which was closed by the new owners after 1 month and turned into yet another boring textbook cafe. The one thing that remains is the exterior mural (link). It makes me smile every time I see it. Link.

  • World's largest superconducting magnet

     Press Pressreleases Releases2006 Images Pr17.06
    Located at CERN in Switzerland, this superconducting magnet will generate the magnetic field for a particle detector at the Large Hadron Collider, the shiny new particle accelerator slated to switch on next November. Among other experiments, the Collider may enable scientists to finally observe the Higgs boson, aka the "God Particle," the long-theorized particle thought to give all other particles their masses.
    Link (via Scientific American)

    Previously on BB:
    • QTVR of Large Hadron Collider at CERN Link
    • Betting on the big questions of physics Link
    • Math proves you can stop table-wobbling by rotating Link
    • Antihydrogen created at CERN Link

    Vintage articles about living dinosaur hunts

    Mkole At Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman has posted scans of beautiful 1910s-1920s newspaper lay outs about the Mokele-mbembe, a dinosaur-like creature thought by some to still be alive in Africa.

    Previously on BB:
    • New search for living dinosaurs Link
    • Creationist Dr. Dino goes to jail Link

    UPDATE: Loren has now posted readable PDFs of the articles plus others. Link

    Berlin hacker fest talks include Apple FileVault analysis

    Jacob Appelbaum updates us on what's happening at the annual Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin this week:

    Ralf-Philipp Weinmann and I (with special guest hacker David Hulton) will be giving our talk "Unlocking FileVault - An analysis of Apple's encrypted disk storage system" ( Link )

    Stream the video from Saal 1 at 11:30AM CET on December 29th (today!) in mp4, wmv, ogg video and ogg audio format.

    Check out the CCC wiki for general streaming information at the 23c3.

    If you're interested in FileVault ( Link ) this talk will present information never previously discussed.

    A code release with slides will be available here after the talk is finished: Link.

    I also wanted to send some other links of talks that are coming up at the congress... These are going to be amazing!

    * Amit Singh - Software Protection and the TPM ( Link )
    * Thierry Zoller & Kevin Finistere - Bluetooth Hacking Revisited ( Link )
    * George Danezis - An Introduction to Traffic Analysis ( Link )
    * Lawrence Lessig - On Free, and the Differences between Culture and Code ( Link )
    * Luis Miras - Automated Exploit Detection in Binaries ( Link )
    * Tina Lorenz - Pornography and Technology ( Link )
    * Johannes Grenzfurthner - "We are great together, the liberal society and its enemies!" ( Link )
    * Mitch Altman - TV-B-Gone ( Link )
    * Fox Magrathea & Autumn Tyr-Salvia - Culture Jamming & Discordianism ( Link )

    Image: Jacob Appelbaum.

    Previously on BB:
    To do in Berlin: 23rd Chaos Communication Congress
    Hacker-con videos: "150 hours of hardcode nerd education."
    Chaos Computer Club hacker con in Berlin (2005)

    Report: HD-DVD copy protection defeated

    BoingBoing reader Gunther says,
    On the doom9 forums there is news of a new tool to decrypt HDDVD's. How you get the key is not yet clear but there is a promise to have a tool to get the needed key later. (check the #9 post in the thread): Link, and related coverage at the Inquirer UK.
    Here is the instructional video posted by muslix64, the person who claims credit: Link. muslix64 says,
    I was not aware of anyone having done that, so I did. Have a look. The AACS copy protection system is realy Unbreakable! The program is a simple implementation of the aacs crypto protocol freely available on the net. No reverse engineering! Stay tuned for source code soon! Merry Christmas everyone!

    Snip from Reuters coverage:

    A hacker known as Muslix64 posted on the Internet details of how he unlocked the encryption, known as the Advanced Access Content System, which prevents high-definition discs from illegal copying by restricting which devices can play them.

    The AACS system was developed by companies including Walt Disney Co., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp. to protect high-definition formats, including Toshiba's HD-DVD and Sony's Blu-ray.

    Muslix64 posted a video and decryption codes showing how to copy several films, including Warner Bros' "Full Metal Jacket" and Universal Studios' "Van Helsing," on a popular hacker Internet blog and a video-sharing site.

    The hacker also promised to post more source code on January 2 that will allow users to copy a wider range of titles.


    Reader comment: A.V. points out that the HD-DVD DRM crack is not a crack -- but a hack that will stop working pretty soon:

    Note that AACS has not been broken. All they did was copy the key from memory off WinDVD's software. Yes, this will let you copy HD-DVD for now, until the manufacturers revoke the key in the next batch of HD-DVD pressings. WinDVD will either have to get a new key or might get their licence canceled entirely, ending the product.

    Of course if they get a new key, then it can be copied from memory again unless they start encrypting it in memory and then this program is useless.

    So "backup" your HD-DVD's while you can, in a few months this program will be useless on newer releases.

    Fake moon dirt

    Short on real moondust to study, NASA scientists are planning to manufacture huge amounts of fake moon dirt. Apparently, the now-dwindling samples acquired during the Apollo missions aren't nearly enough to test how machinery will act on the lunar surface. As a result, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has contracted with aerospace R&D firm ORBITEC to manufacture 16 tonnes of three varieties of simulated moon dirt. From NASA Express Science News:
     Headlines Y2006 Images Truefake Agglutinate "We need tons of it, mainly for working on technologies for diggers and wheels and machinery on the surface," adds David S. McKay, chief scientist for astrobiology at the Johnson Space Center (JSC)...

    Source materials used to produce the three simulants will potentially come from locations as diverse as Montana, Arizona, Virginia, Florida, Hawaii, and even some international sites.

    Initial lots will weigh just tens of pounds to ensure that the simulant is made correctly. "Eventually we will scale up to larger quantities when we can make sure that there is little variation from batch to batch," (NASA program manager Carole) McLemore said.

    Once NASA understands how to make the various simulants, plans are to farm the work out to companies to produce larger batches. "We will have certification procedures in place for vendors to follow so users know that the simulants meet the NASA standards," McLemore said.
    Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

    Japan's dogs by design: cute mutants with genetic disorders

    Snip from New York Times article by Martin Fackler on the downsides of extreme inbreeding of pets in Japan:
    Rare dogs are highly prized here, and can set buyers back more than $10,000. But the real problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose.

    There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies. Many carry hidden diseases that crop up years later, veterinarians and breeders say.

    reg-free Link to story. Above, a mutant Japanese chihuahua bred so that its fur will have a blue hue. Eh, whatever. But how do they taste?

    Second Life: Shirky pokes more holes in sloppy press coverage

    Clay Shirky tells BoingBoing,
    Earlier this month, I wrote something about the uncritical reception Linden Labs was getting for its Total Residents figure. Turns out even I was not skeptical enough, and I put up a second piece digging a bit deeper.

    The term Residents is even more inflated than I first thought, as something like 20% of the most recent million Residents have never been counted logging in.

    The press reaction to Second Life was also more credulous than I knew. Linden is guilty of promoting a misleading figure, but the reporters covering Second Life are guilty of converting that figure into an outright falsehood:

    Like a push-up bra, Linden's trick is as effective as it is because the press really, really wants to believe...

  • "It has a population of a million." -- Richard Siklos, New York Times
  • "In the Internet-based virtual world known as Second Life, for instance, more than 1 million citizens have created representations of themselves known as avatars..." -- Michael Yessis, USA TODAY
  • "Since it started about three years ago, the population of Second Life has grown to 1.2 million users." -- Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN
  • "So far, it's signed up 1.3 million members." -- David Kirkpatrick, Fortune

    Professional journalists wrote those sentences. They work for newspapers and magazines that employ (or used to employ) fact-checkers. Yet here they are, supplementing Linden's meager PR budget by telling their readers that Residents measures something it actually doesn't.

  • Link to Clay's coverage at Valleywag, and read also "Give Me Laser Guns" -- brilliant: Link.

    MSFT PR-donated Vista laptop on eBay, proceeds go to EFF

    Microsoft sent a bunch of laptops running Vista to bloggers, resulting in much debate on the internets (oh, hell, what doesn't result in much debate on the internets?). Anyway, Scott Beale, one of the recipients, says:
    Laughing Squid is auctioning off the controversial Acer Ferrari 1000 Windows Visa laptop that was sent to Laughing Squid by Microsoft, AMD and Edelman. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to EFF.
    Link, and here's background on the brouhaha: Link.

    Nerdcore shows in Vegas, January 8-9

    Above, the lovely Miss MC Router (alternate link). Doesn't look like she's on the lineup, but she rocks.

    MC Plus+ tells BoingBoing,

    Bring in the year 2007 with performances from your favorite Nerdcore artists. It's happening January 9th and 10th in Las Vegas. Check out this link for details. The super nerdy lineup includes but is not limited to MCeeP, Fanatical, High-C, YTCracker, and of course your boy, MC Plus+ (along with Plus+'s most sworn nemesis, Monzy).
    And here are a bunch of videos featuring those artists and others: Link.

    Previously on BB:

    Nerdcore for Life documentary - trailer
    Response to SNL video "Christmas Box" = "Boobs in a Box"
    Windows Vista: Suicide notes, nerdcore rap MP3
    New MC Plus+ album of nerdcore rapping
    Nerdcore rap: Attack of the Clonefucker
    Nerdcore artists to release nerd-rap compilation disc
    Fuck the MPAA - nerdcore gangsta rap song
    MC Frontalot: Nerdcore rapper

    Reader comment: Doctor Popular says,

    Nerdcore artist Beefy has recently released his new album "Tube Technology" -- Link. Although Beefy won't be performing at any of the Vegas shows, the album features artists such as Drown Radio and MC Router (pictured with her "g33k L1f3" tattoo). Beefy will also be headlining a nerdcore show in Portland the week following CES with TG, Drown Radio and more nerdy rappers.

    Also, there will be a sneak preview of the new Nerdcore For Life documentary at the Consumer Electronics Show as well as performances by several other nerdcore luminaries on the DIVX stage.

    Internet crime predictions for 2007

    Brian Krebs at the Washington Post rounds up assessments from computer security experts about the year ahead in internet-enabled crime:
    Internet users witnessed yet another wave of spam, worms, viruses and other online attacks in 2005, and experts predict the online world will grow even more dangerous this year. Few believe 2007 will be any brighter for consumers, who already are struggling to avoid the clever scams they encounter while banking, shopping or just surfing online. Experts say online criminals are growing smarter about hiding personal data they have stolen on the Internet and are using new methods for attacking computers that are harder to detect.

    "Criminals have gone from trying to hit as many machines as possible to focusing on techniques that allow them to remain undetected on infected machines longer," said Vincent Weafer, director of security response at Symantec, an Internet security firm in Cuptertino, Calif.

    One of the best measures of the rise in cybercrime is junk e-mail, or spam, because much of it is relayed by computers controlled by Internet criminals, experts said. More than 90 percent of all e-mail sent online in October was unsolicited junk mail, according to Postini, an e-mail security firm in San Carlos, Calif. Spam volumes monitored by Postini rose 73 percent in the past two months as spammers began embedding their messages in images to evade junk e-mail filters that search for particular words and phrases. In November, Postini's spam filters, used by many large companies, blocked 22 billion junk-mail messages, up from about 12 billion in September.

    Link to article, and Krebs posts more on this topic in this blog post: Link.

    HOWTO disable your new, RFID-laden US passport

    Smash the crap out of it with a hammer. No, seriously. Snip from Wired Magazine tutorial:
    All passports issued by the US State Department after January 1 will have always-on radio frequency identification chips, making it easy for officials – and hackers – to grab your personal stats. Getting paranoid about strangers slurping up your identity? Here’s what you can do about it. But be careful – tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison. Not to mention the “special” customs search, with rubber gloves. Bon voyage!
    Link (via Bruce Sterling)

    Battelle revisits his own tech predictions for 2006

    Oh, anyone can prognosticate for the year ahead -- but few have the cojones to look back with a straight face on their own predictions from the year past. BB's business manager John Battelle does exactly that, each year, and here's a snip from his self-critique for 2006:
    As you all know by now, each year I prognosticate, and each year I judge how I did. This year, well, I have to say, if the only thing I got right was that Time was going to put Web 2.0 on the cover ("You" was a proxy for that, trust me), I'd be happy. But overall, I think I did OK, though I was a bit early on many things. Here's the rundown.
    Link to "2006 predictions: How'd I do?"

    Image: Bart Nagel.

    Related posts on Battelle'sSearchblog:
    2006 Predictions
    2005 Predictions
    2005 How I Did
    2004 Predictions
    2004 How I Did