BBtv: Happy New Year!

Here's a look back at some of the goofiest, weirdest, or otherwise most memorable moments from Boing Boing tv in 2007. Thanks for joining us, and see you in 2008! Link to video and comments at Boing Boing tv. Read the rest

Vivid cabbages

Today in my ongoing series of photos from my travels: vivid cabbages from London's Borough Market. Link Read the rest

Funny sci-fi anti-Canadian DMCA video

The Galacticast netshow has produced a great little end-of-year short calling on Canadians to fight the Canadian DMCA in the coming year. This is the on-again/off-again US-inspired copyright act that Industry Minister Jim Prentice wrote without any input from Canadian interest groups, making it into a kind of wish-list for US-based entertainment giants.

The episode parodies many, many science fiction classics (and the host sports a nifty DMZ tee from The Secret Headquarters!) and does a good job of laying out the basic issues in funny, easy-to-understand ways.

It's a cinch that Minister Prentice will reintroduce the Canadian DMCA in 2008 -- and we're gonna kill it again! Link (via Michael Geist) Read the rest

Promise and peril of data-scraping

Josh McHugh's Wired feature, "Should Web Giants Let Startups Use the Information They Have About You?," is a meaty, thinky piece about the many risks of data-scraping. The piece investigates the risks to users (your data, slithering around the net), the risks to scrapers (your business entirely dependent on someone else's goodwill), and the risks to scrapees (bandwidth clobbering, your users get screwed and so on):
Giants like Yahoo and Google have thus far taken a mostly nonproprietary stance toward their data, typically letting outside developers access it in an attempt to curry favor with them and foster increased inbound Web traffic. Most of the largest Web companies position themselves as benign, bountiful data gardens, supplying the environment and raw materials to build inspired new products. After all, Google itself, that harbinger of the Web2.0 era, thrives on info that could be said to "belong" to others -- the links, keywords, and metadata that reside on other Web sites and that Google harvests and repositions into search results.

But beneath all the kumbayas, there's an awkward dance going on, an unregulated give-and-take of information for which the rules are still being worked out. And in many cases, some of the big guys that have been the source of that data are finding they can't -- or simply don't want to -- allow everyone to access their information, Web2.0 dogma be damned. The result: a generation of businesses that depend upon the continued good graces of a relatively small group of Internet powerhouses that philosophically agree information should be free -- until suddenly it isn't.

Read the rest

Privacy state-of-the-planet -- it's not good

Sam sez, "The 2007 International Privacy Ranking rates selected countries in terms public surveillance. Each year since 1997, the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the UK-based Privacy International have undertaken what has now become the most comprehensive survey of global privacy ever published. The Privacy & Human Rights Report surveys developments in 70 countries, assessing the state of surveillance and privacy protection. The most recent report, published in 2007 is probably the most comprehensive single volume report published in the human rights field."

It's pretty dismal. Basically, no country in the world presents a healthy environment for people who care about their privacy. Link (Thanks, Sam!) Read the rest

Web Zen: time zen

world time server voco clock watchismo clock design wooden gear clocks (* image shown here) alunatime timeline

Web Zen Home and Archives, Store (Thanks Frank!) Read the rest

Sacha Baron Cohen to play Abbie Hoffman in Spielberg's Trial of the Chicago 7

Woah -- Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G, Borat) will play Abbie Hoffman in an upcoming Spielberg adaptation of the Trial of the Chicago 7. I'm a huge Hoffman fan -- his (somewhat fictionalized) autobiography is one of my favorite books -- and Cohen's the kind of merry anarchist who strikes me as the perfect and unlikely casting choice.
Hoffman went on to become an irascible celebrity who, later diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, killed himself with pills in 1989.

Baron Cohen will not have to undergo a big transformation to play the part. Hoffman, who was Jewish, attended Berkeley University in California, while Baron Cohen, an urbane Orthodox Jew more than 6ft tall, cut his teeth entertaining friends at Christ’s College Cambridge with subversive wit and surreal pranks.

Link (via Digg) Read the rest

Nintendo Wii hacked -- homebrew games ahoy!

During yesterday's Why Silicon-Based Security is still that hard: Deconstructing Xbox 360 Security presentation at the 24th Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, hackers Michael Steil and Felix Domke demonstrated a blown-wide-open hack for the Nintendo Wii. They've extracted the keys for signing Wii code, and now you can run anyone's code on your Wii, not just programs that Nintendo has sanctioned. Incredible as it may seem, there are still companies that think that they should have the right to tell you what you can and can't do with your hardware after you pay for it. Link (Thanks, waltbosz!) Read the rest

Foxtrot takes a swipe at the DMCA

Today, Foxtrot (easily the geekiest of the mainstream comic strips) took a great little swipe at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the notorious 1998 US Copyright law that makes it illegal to break DRM. Link (Thanks, Kim!) Read the rest

Mike Brady's angry Shakespearean critique of the Brady Bunch scripts

Robert Reed, who played Mike "Dad" Brady on The Brady Bunch was a frustrated, classically trained Shakespearean actor who sent stroppy memos the show's writers explaining How Drama Works to them in minute, enraged detail. They are a treasure. Here is one of them:
Once again, we are infused with the slapstick. The oldest boy's hair turns bright orange in a twinkling of the writer's eye, having been doused with a non-FDA-approved hair tonic. (Why any boy of Bobby's age, or any age, would be investing in something as outmoded and unidentifiable as "hair tonic" remains to be explained. As any kid on the show could tell the writer, the old hair-tonic routine is right out of "Our Gang." Let's face it, we're long since past the "little dab'll do ya" era.)

Without belaboring the inequities of the script, which are varied and numerous, the major point to all this is: Once an actor has geared himself to play a given style with its prescribed level of belief, he cannot react to or accept within the same confines of the piece, a different style.

When the kid's hair turns red, it is Batman in the operating room.

I can't play it.

Link, Link 2 (via Dispatches From the Culture Wars) Read the rest

Circuit City's suicide: firing the people who know stuff

Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Joel spots a bit of astute analysis explaining what happened to drive Circuit City into disrepute, and how the idiot execs responsible were rewarded with a cool million each:
The basic story is that last March, the wise men who run Circuit City came up with the brilliant idea of laying off their more senior salespeople, who get $14-$15 an hour, and replacing them with new hires who get around $9 an hour. It turns out that this move was not very good for business. One of the reasons that people go to a store like Circuit City, rather than buying things on the Internet, is that they want to be able to talk to a knowledgeable salesperson. Since Circuit City had laid off their knowledgeable salespeople, there was little reason to shop there. ... The Post reports that Circuit City's executive vice-presidents will get retention awards of $1 million each.
Link, Discuss this on Boing Boing Gadgets Read the rest

Steal This Film, Part II: the Internet makes us into copiers

The folks behind Steal This Film, an amazing, funny, enraging and inspiring documentary series about copyright and the Internet have just released part II of the series. I taught part one (about the PirateBay crackdown in Sweden and the founding of The Pirate Party) in my class last year, and it was one of the liveliest classes we had.

Part II is even better than part one -- it covers the technological and enforcement end of the copyright wars, and on the way that using the internet makes you a copier, and how copying puts you in legal jeopardy. Starting with Mark Getty's (Chairman of Getty Images) infamous statement that "Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century," the filmmakers note that oil always leads to oil-wars, and that these are vicious, ill-conceived and never end well. This leads them to explore the war on copying -- which ultimately becomes a war on the Internet and those of us who use it.

This installment includes punchy interviews with a lot of the US's leading copyfighters -- EFFers like Seth Schoen and Fred von Lohmann, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Eben Moglen, Aaron Swartz, Yochai Benkler, Rick Prelinger, as well as folks in the UK, Sweden and Bangalore. Interspersed with this is are smart historical perspectives, and a brief interview with MPAA chief Dan Glickman, who all but twirls his mustache in glee at the thought of punishing copiers. There's also some interesting material here from new artists who embrace copying, but I'm guessing that that's going to be the main theme of a future installment. Read the rest

Pilot to TSA: Let my people go!

Patrick Smith, the airline pilot who co-writes the NY Times's Jetlagged Blog has written a corker of an editorial railing against the bullshit "security" procedures that the TSA has put into place. Smith is hopping mad and stops just short of calling for a revolution. Man, I'd be with him at the barricades.
No matter that a deadly sharp can be fashioned from virtually anything found on a plane, be it a broken wine bottle or a snapped-off length of plastic, we are content wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and untold hours of labor in a delusional attempt to thwart an attack that has already happened, asked to queue for absurd lengths of time, subject to embarrassing pat-downs and loss of our belongings.

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and "unfortunate." The plot's leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as "speculative" and "exaggerated."

Link (Thanks to HeavyD and everyone else who suggested this one! Read the rest

Hybrid carp with "human faces"

A Korean newscast reports on a hybrid breed of carp with "human faces." Not exactly human, but helllp-meeee freaky Fly enough to give me the willies. Link (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Heart-shaped teacups

These heart-shaped tea-cups from Bits and Piece run $13 each ($10 in quantity). I wonder if they're a little sloppy to drink out of? Link (via Cribcandy) Read the rest

Disneyland themed quilt

LiveJournal user Phogg painstakingly created this fantastic Disneyland quilt -- "Keep in mind that short of a single mickey head patch on each panel, the moon in the center and Pooh's balloon in Critter Country, everything started out as white cotton. EVERYTHING was either painted directly onto the panel or painted onto a separate piece of white cotton then appliqued by hand using good old fashioned blind stitching onto the panel. All the lettering was done by hand too." Link (Thanks, Batty!) Read the rest

Mountain of puzzle-pieces

Today in my ongoing series of photos from my travels: an enormous mountain of assorted puzzle pieces, from the entranceway to the main hall for this year's Picnic conference in Amsterdam. Link Read the rest

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