Dell will pre-install Ubuntu Linux

This is rad: Dell will soon start shipping computers with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed. I've been running Ubuntu, a slick, easy-to-install, easy-to-use flavor for Linux since last October. It's the only OS I use (well, I still synch my iPod with an old Powerbook, but I hope to have that fixed shortly), and I love it to pieces. Talk about rock-solid. Link Read the rest

Shareholders ask Google to counteract foreign 'net censorship

Snip from a post on the Wired News blog Threat Level:
The custodian of five major public pension funds in New York City will formally request next month that Google take steps to counteract internet censorship in foreign countries with authoritarian government such as China, Egypt and Iran, according to Google's proxy statement for its annual meeting of stockholders on May 10.The New York City Comptroller will submit the proposal. The comptroller acts as investment advisor for the five city public pension funds, which include the retirement plans for city employees, teachers, NYPD, NYFD and board of education employees. Together, the funds own 486,617 shares of Google's Class A stock.

Previously on BoingBoing:Google, China, and genocide: web censorship and Tibet Read the rest

Scans of 19th c. science book: "The World before the Deluge"

Snip from description:

The object of "The World before the Deluge" is to trace the progressive steps by which the earth has reached its present state, from that condition of chaos when it "was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the the deep," and to describe the various convulsions and transformations through which it has successively passed.

Shown above: "Ideal Scene of the Lias Period with Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus."

Scanned pages of 'The World Before the Deluge' by Louis Figuier (1872 revision of a 1862 publication) are online at Link. 518 + 8 pages, illustrated with 235 figures. Scroll down to "PLATES" for illustrations of "ideal landscapes" of various geological epochs.

Spotted at Bibliodyssey, where there's more background here: Link. Read the rest

Gizmo documentary on Google video

Gizmo is a documentary about oddball inventions and inventors from the 20th century. It's one of my favorite documentaries ever. I've watched it a dozen times or so over the years.

David says:

Behold...the power of the open mind! Howard Smith's 1977 documentary about improbable inventions is now freely available on Google Video. The documentary compiles old newsreel footage of wacky inventions in action, (or inaction as the case may be), as well as some inventors' physical quirks and others' daring deeds in "bringing their invention to market," all for your enjoyment. A personal favorite, the backwards car, can be seen near the 50 minute mark. A must-see for Boing Boing readers!
Link (Via Read the rest

Sumo wrestlers compete to make babies cry

CNN has a photo gallery from an annual competition held every year in Tokyo in which sumo wrestlers hold babies and face off in an attempt to make them bawl.

For some reason, I doubt these guys will catch as much flak as the amazing photographer Jill Greenberg did for giving and then taking away candy from little kids to make them cry. Link (Thanks, John!) Read the rest

Beer bottle cellular automata movie

Emma says:
Artist Lozano Hemmer presented "Synaptic Caguamas" a large motorized Mexican “cantina” table with 30 “Caguama”-sized beer bottles (1-litre each). The bottles spin on the table with patterns generated by cellular automata algorithms that simulate the neuronal connections in the brain.

Every few minutes the bottles are reset and seeded with new initial conditions for the algorithm so that the movement patterns are never repeated.

Link Read the rest

Winner of Schwarzenegger impersonation contest

Last week, I posted an entry about my daughter's school field trip to the California State Capitol, where she and her classmates met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Link). The governor chatted with the students for a while, answering their questions, and telling them about his acting acheivements. He said playing Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin was one of his favorite roles.

He also handed out small color photographs of himself to the students. When my daughter returned home, she showed me the photo and I noticed a sticker on the back with a warning not to use the photograph for any purpose besides personal enjoyment by the recipient.

I thought it would be fun to post a reproduction of the sticker and invite readers to impersonate the governor reciting the warning. Within 24 hours, nearly 100 people called the Boing Boing hotline to give their impersonation. Every one of these people did a much better job of impersonating the governor than I could have done. In fact, they did a better job that the governor himself could have done.

It was hard to pick a winner, but I finally settled on Matt Plumb, who not only did a first-rate job of impersonating Governor Schwarzenegger, but also added some awesome ad-lib commentary. Congratulations, Matt!

Here's Matt's winning entry, followed by several other excellent entries to the competition. The impersonators are, in order of presentation: Alex Carey, Grey Hodge, Morris Pratt, Anonymous, Mark McQuillen, and Rich Sigfrit. Thanks very much for your excellent comtributions, everyone! Read the rest

Kenya: Joseph Linaschke is photoblogging rural aid work

As blurbed previously on a trek-blog I maintain from the road, photographer Joseph Linaschke is currently photoblogging his trip to Kenya with an aid organization that serves extremely poor children in rural, indigenous communities. Link to his Kenya-tagged posts. Here's a beautiful shot of the starry night sky there. (Photos in this post shot by Joseph Linaschke) Read the rest

Steampunk mouse

Jake of All Trades's homebrew steampunk computer mouse comes complete with a little short story about how it came to be invented!
One holds the device in a manner similar to the way a wood-worker holds a sanding block. The palm rests upon the “ball” in the foreground, with the fingers extending forward. The middle digit is placed upon the spiked cog, while the pointing-finger and the ring-bearing finger sit on the studded levers on either side. The thumb and small-finger rest comfortably on the side of the cylinder, helping to grip the contraption. The “Bug”, as the Professor calls it, is slid about upon a table top–thusly controlling a mobile indicator upon the Telecalculograph’s display. Push the device away from one’s self, and the arrow “moves” towards the top of the viewing window. When the arrow has been positioned appropriately so that it is pointing at the desired “item” on the glass, the user pushes down upon the various levers to elicit his desired effect. Turning the wheel in the center produces an action similar to turning a page in a book, or cranking a kinetoscope.
Link (via Make)

See also: Steampunk guitar Spring-loaded steampunk spex Steampunk magazine Steampunk Star Wars Steampunk watch Beautiful steampunk laptop HOWTO make a steampunk keyboard HOWTO make etched brass steampunk journals HOWTO make a steampunk spinning-wheel Steampunk walking robot Steampunk cartoon from SciFi channel: Amazing Screw-On Head Homebrew mechanical steampunk lion from Belgium Steampunk robotics Steampunk weekly serial - handsome editions Steampunk rayguns Steampunk Transformer-bots Ukrainian steampunk plane Steampunk casemod with a "furnace" Steampunk submarine free paper toy Steampunk/dead media photoshopping contest Brighton's steampunk rolling sea-platform Steampunk Slashdot Steampunk mecha-wars Steampunk car-wars New York's steampunk pneumatic subway Read the rest

AACS DRM body censors Cory's class blog

This semester, I've been teaching a USC undergrad class called Pwned: Everyone on Campus is a Copyright Criminal. Back in February, one of my students did a great post about the AACS processing key crack on the class blog.

Last week, I received a legal threat from the AACS licensing authority, promising a lawsuit if I didn't removing the processing key and the link to the Doom9 forum.

On advice from lawyers, I've censored this material off the post. However, Google maintains a list of over 100 sites that link to the Doom9 post, including one from Boing Boing.

Link Read the rest

Internet radio crisis: Newsweek's coverage

Over at Brian Braiker writes:
As you read these words on your monitor, there is a decent chance that you’re also streaming a little online radio. After all, with an estimated listenership of approximately 50 million Americans per month, Internet radio has become a go-to destination for a fuller spectrum of music, an alternative to FM’s mind-numbing monotony. And if you are one of those listeners, mark May 15 on your calendar: it might well be the day that the music dies.

Last month the trio of Library of Congress judges that oversees copyright law’s statutory licenses decided that May 15 will be the date royalty fees owed by Web radio operators will be recalibrated. The Copyright Royalty Board changed rates from a percentage of revenue to a per-song, per-listener fee–effectively hiking the rates between 300 and 1,200 percent, according to a lawyer representing a group of Webcasters. "If this rate does not change, it will wipe out the vast majority of Web radio," Tim Westergren, founder of the music discovery service Pandora, tells NEWSWEEK. "If this stays, we’re done. Back to the stone age again."

Link. Photo above, David Byrne (Radio David Byrne Link). "You may ask yourself, where is my Internet radio?" (Erich Schlegel / Dallas Morning News-Corbis)

Previously on BoingBoing:Internet radio crisis: an overview, from SomaFM's Rusty Hodge

Reader comments: Ben says,

The actual text of Rep. Jay Inslee's bill to "Save Internet Radio" is here: internet_radio_bill_april_2007.pdf. I'd suggest everyone contacting their representative and urging him or her to support the bill.
Read the rest

Using floating junk to study oceans

Fifteen years, ago a shipping container fell off a boat crossing the Pacific, spilling tens of thousands of rubber duckies, turtles, and other bath toys. The mishap was actually helpful for oceanographers who to this day occasionally find the toys and use their recovery location and time as data points in their study of ocean currents. This is just one example of how scientists count on floating junk in their efforts to map and understand subcurrents and other ocean phenomena. Interestingly, random bits of flotsam can sometimes work better than electronic devices designed for this purpose due to the limitations of battery power and algae growth that can block the sensors. From Science News:
Worldwide, about 10,000 cargo containers fall overboard each year. In most parts of the world, the dispersal of flotsam isn't of major interest to researchers. But along the bustling trade routes that link eastern Asia to North America, the tennis shoes, kids' sandals, hockey gloves, and other stuff that drops off ships is enabling scientists to fill in details of how the Pacific Subarctic Gyre works. Often, the lost items float and can be readily identified as coming from a ship at a certain location. Recently, (retired oceanographer Curtis) Ebbesmeyer and his colleagues used almost a century of data from such floating objects to map the gyre's major subcurrents and swirls. Now, for the first time, scientists have determined that a lap around the Pacific Subarctic Gyre takes about 3 years. That information, in turn, led Ebbesmeyer and his colleagues to identify long-term variations in water temperature and salinity in the North Pacific that hadn't been noted previously.
Read the rest

BoingBoing week in review: April 23-30, 2007.

Coachella pt. 1: Björk's wild sound machines; report from the turf (Xeni) Coachella pt. 2: hipsters, robots, ravers, steampunk, 122 bands (Xeni) Coachella, pt. 3: plastic crunch, raver cruft, ghosts of desert past. (Xeni) Telerobotic birdwatching (Pesco) Potentially Earthlike planet discovered outside our solar system (Pesco) Maker Faire Previews: 1, 2, 3 (Pesco) Super Mario vs Psycho Crusher (Cory) Cory's Little Brother reading (Cory) Mayor of Boston bans Boing Boing (Cory) Art by Todd Goldman that looks like other artists' work: 1, 2, 3 (Mark) Get Illuminated Podcast episode 8: Comic Art Magazine (Mark) Contest: imitate the CA Governor issuing a warning (Mark) Read the rest

Worst practices at funeral home

For years, Co-op Funeralcare funeral home in Dunfermline, Fife, UK has allegedly scattered human ashes outside the parlor to make icy paths less slippery, according to former employees. Whistleblowers are also claiming that coffins used for transporting bodies were occasionally sold as "new" for funerals. Scratches were touched up with a felt tip marker and the inside sprayed with air-freshener. From the Sunday Mail:
It is also claimed staff disposed of ashes which were later to be claimed by a bereaved family by accident. One worker said that, when the family arrived, their urn was filled with ashes which had lain unclaimed in the office for 50 years... In 2003 (the Sunday Mail) revealed that the Dunfermline Co-op had buried squaddie Jamie Henderson, 22, in the wrong grave by mistake. They offered to correct their mistake - for an extra £3000. The firm also delivered flowers from Jamie's young nephews with the message "from the dogs" instead of "from the boys".
Link Read the rest

Phone company filters customer's name "Gay" as inappropriate

When New Zealand woman Gay Hamilton emailed communications company Telecom to inquire about broadband service, she received an automated reply that said: ""[Your email] was identified by our content filtering processes as containing language that may be considered inappropriate for business-like communication... The content which caused this to happen was ... 'gay' eight times, at two points each, for an expression score of 16 points." Telecom apologized to Hamilton but would not provide a list of other words that its filtering system scans for. From the New Zealand Herald:
...For Hamilton, who happens to be gay, the shock was not isolated to the reply she received but also to the fact that Telecom had spent time and resources deciding that the word "gay" should be audited from staff communications. "If they do have to put content filters on ... then maybe they should ensure that it only gets genuinely abusive words."
Link (Thanks, Carlo Longino!) Read the rest

EEG controllers for videogames

The Associated Press has a long gee-whiz story about the use of biofeedback devices in video games. The articles profiles NeuroSky, a startup co-founded by Hoo Hyoung Lee who apparently used biofeedback to help train South Korea's Olympinc archery team. From the Associated Press:
"Whatever we sell, it will work on 100 percent or almost 100 percent of people out there, no matter what the condition, temperature, indoor or outdoors," Yang said. "We aim for wearable technology that everyone can put on and go without failure, as easy as the iPod." Researchers at NeuroSky and other startups are also building prototypes of toys that use electromyography (EMG), which records twitches and other muscular movements, and electrooculography (EOG), which measures changes in the retina. While NeuroSky's headset has one electrode, Emotiv Systems Inc. has developed a gel-free headset with 18 sensors. Besides monitoring basic changes in mood and focus, Emotiv's bulkier headset detects brain waves indicating smiles, blinks, laughter, even conscious thoughts and unconscious emotions. Players could kick or punch their video game opponent -- without a joystick or mouse. "It fulfills the fantasy of telekinesis," said Tan Le, co-founder and president of San Francisco-based Emotiv. The 30-person company hopes to begin selling a consumer headset next year, but executives would not speculate on price. A prototype hooks up to gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.
Link Previously on BB: • Relaxation "game" assigns points for calmness Link • Video games as koans Link • Mindball Link • Mind Games Link Read the rest

Pro-coffee tee tweaks Mormon Church, Church responds with trademark threat

A Utah coffee-shop made a funny t-shirt that showed coffee being funnelled into the trumpet of the Angel Moroni (a sigil that tops Mormon temples -- the Church enjoins caffeine hot drinks). The LDS Church threatened to sue for trademark infringement, so they got an even better design:
It shows a giant hand from the sky pouring the java - which the LDS Church urges its members to abstain from drinking - into a disembodied trumpet.

The caption: "The Lord giveth, and a church taketh away."

Store owners Ed Beazer and Van Lidell insist it's just harmless repartee, albeit a tad one-sided.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't talking about the new design and whether it violates the trademark.

Link (Thanks, Amanda!)

(Photo ganked from a larger snap by Ryan Galbraith) Read the rest

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