Scalzi and I talk about our latest books -- video

Tor Books and Expanded Books produced a funny interview/trailer thing for John Scalzi and me in honor of our latest books -- he's bringing out a young adult novel in the Old Man's Warverse in August called Zoe's Tale that I've read a little from and it's dynamite! Link Read the rest

EFF to Ballmer: You owe MSN Music customers an apology, a refund and more

EFF has published an open letter to Steve Ballmer upbraiding him for switching off the MSN Music DRM server and nuking the music collections of every customer trusting enough to buy music, laying out a suite of things that Microsoft needs to do to make amends:
In an open letter sent to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer today, EFF outlines five steps Microsoft must take to make things right for MSN Music customers -- including a issuing a public apology, providing refunds or replacement music files, and launching a substantial publicity campaign to make sure all customers know their options.

"MSN Music customers trusted Microsoft when it said that this was a safe way to buy music, and that trust has been betrayed," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "If Microsoft is prepared to treat MSN Music customers like this, is there any reason to suppose that future customers won't get the same treatment?"

Link (Thanks, Rebecca!) Read the rest

7-year-old boy removed from father and placed in state custody over mistaken order of hard lemondade

Christopher Ratte took his 7-year-old son to a baseball game at Comerica Park. He ordered a lemonade from a vendor and gave it to his boy. Unbeknownst to Ratte (a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Michigan) it was "hard" lemonade, meaning it contained alcohol. When a guard spotted the boy sipping from the bottle, the police were called in, the boy was taken from his father, driven by ambulance to the hospital, and put into foster care.
The 47-year-old academic says he wasn't even aware alcoholic lemonade existed when he and Leo stopped at a concession stand on the way to their seats in Section 114.

"I'd never drunk it, never purchased it, never heard of it," Ratte of Ann Arbor told me sheepishly last week. "And it's certainly not what I expected when I ordered a lemonade for my 7-year-old."

But it wasn't until the top of the ninth inning that a Comerica Park security guard noticed the bottle in young Leo's hand.

"You know this is an alcoholic beverage?" the guard asked the professor.

"You've got to be kidding," Ratte replied. He asked for the bottle, but the security guard snatched it before Ratte could examine the label.

... it would be two days before the state of Michigan allowed Ratte's wife, U-M architecture professor Claire Zimmerman, to take their son home, and nearly a week before Ratte was permitted to move back into his own house.

Link Read the rest

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets

Today on BoingBoing Gadgets, we tickled the dragon's tail, destroyed the evidence, then wrote it up on the world's smallest Mac. We learned that wherever Cory goes, the iPhone follows; that you can't kick a robot when it's down; and that magnetic shelves are the perfect place to store crap gadgets. Baffled by a 60-drive USB duplicator, we pondered how to measure its power consumption. From the Malabar front came news of a robot spider droid army, just in time to take care of re-awaked elder god, AirJelly. John played with a pinhole panorama and min-maxed his weight loss, while Rob fawned over a neodymium magnet puzzle and a pet porthole. Finally, it dawned on us: Apple Store Geniuses are douches. Read the rest

Man naps in portalet

This is Gil Duff of Cincinnati, Ohio. On Monday, he got drunk in a public park and took a nap in a portable toilet. Again. Apparently, that particular toilet is his own capsule hotel. His pants were up, suggesting that he went in specifically to catch some z's. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Police arrested Duff, 45, at 3:45 a.m. Monday inside a portable toilet in Sycamore Township’s Bechtold Park – the same place they found him on April 22, snoring so loudly he caught the attention of a bike cop. When that officer swung open the toilet door, he found Duff on the john with his pants up, an open beer by his side.
Link (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Micro-origami for drug delivery

Engineers have demonstrated how to make microscale origami-like containers that could be used as drug delivery devices in the body. The hinged structures were created in polysilicon and are only 30 micrometers on a side. (One inch is 25,400 micrometers.) The team from the USC Information Sciences Institute published their "recipe" in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. Link Read the rest

Masked man with chainsaw spotted in Oxford

Citizens observed a masked individual wielding a running chainsaw walking around Bicester, Oxfordshire, England. Turns out he was on his way to a costume party. From the Lancashire Evening Post:
Terrified residents in Bicester, Oxford, called police with a description and an armed response unit and the force helicopter were scrambled in minutes.
Link (via Fortean Times) Read the rest

Albert Hofmann, LSD inventor, RIP

Albert Hofmann, who first synthesized Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), has passed away. He was 102 years-old.
"I believe that if people would learn to use LSD's vision-inducing capability more wisely, under suitable conditions, in medical practice and in conjunction with meditation, then in the future this problem child could become a wonderchild." -- Albert Hofmann (1906-2008)
Link to Wikipedia article, Link to (Thanks, Wayne de Geere III!) UPDATE: News of Hofmann's death may have been greatly exaggerated. But boy, that's sure a great quote and we're happy Dr. Hofmann still seems to be riding his mental bike around Switzerland. UPDATE: Over at The Stranger's blog, Dominic Holden says that the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies has confirmed Hofmann's death. Link (Thanks, NaFun!) UPDATE: The fine folks at Erowid have also confirmed. Apparently, Hofmann died this morning of a heart attack. Link UPDATE: And an obituary from The Telegraph. Link Read the rest

Jimi Hendrix sex tape

Vivid Entertainment apparently acquired a 40-year-old sex tape starring Jimi Hendrix and two women. They plan to release it on DVD. Hit the link to IDontLikeYouInThatWay for NSFW? clips. Link to IDontLikeYouInThatWay, Link to (Thanks, David Hyman!) Read the rest

Boing Boing tv - Leslie Hall: Dear Diary.

The gem sweater bedazzlements and lyrical besnazzlements of "internet ceWEBrity" Leslie Hall have graced Boing Boing tv before -- but in today's episode, Ms. Hall submits an exclusive tour diary for BBtv viewers, a veritable world exclusive. "With these shoulderpads I have the strength to destroy, villages, homes, and crops," she warns. Her ladyfire is mighty, as all ye who gaze upon this video shall witness.

Ms. Hall was among the internet personalities who participated in the recent ROFLcon gathering in Cambridge, Mass. Her presence there among fellow internet memesters is documented in this Wired gallery, and in a photo set from Scott Beale of Laughing Squid. See also his short video of the Tron Guy talking about geek women. Which brings us back to the 26-year-old Ms. Hall, straight outta Iowa, believed by her many followers to be the fiercest gold-lame-wrapped geek woman on the planet.

Link to Boing Boing tv post with discussion and downloadable video.

Related Boing Boing tv items: * Leslie Hall: ceWEBrity, gem sweater diva, jammer of jams. * Leslie Hall iPhone snaps, "Blame the Booty" remix - Boing Boing Read the rest

Little Brother audiobook: DRM-free and remixable!

My next novel, Little Brother, officially goes on sale today! In addition to the US print edition, there's a DRM-free audio edition (there're also forthcoming editions in the UK, Greece, Russia, France and Norway, with others pending) from Random House Audio. My deal with Random House is that they're absolutely not allowed to sell the book with DRM on it, which, sadly, means that Audible (the largest audiobook store in the world) won't carry it -- they insist on selling books with DRM, even when authors and publishers don't want it.

Instead, you can buy the audiobook from Zipidee, a retailer that Random House uses -- they have the spiffy embeddable Flash sales-object you see above (feel free to paste it into your own blog or whatnot), and there's also this static URL for those of you who can't use Flash.

The audiobook comes with my own sampling license: once you own it, you're free to take up to 30 minutes' worth of material from it and remix and then redistribute it as much as you like, provided that you do so on a noncommercial basis, make sure that it's clear that this is a remix and not the original, and make sure that you tell people where to find the original. This is in addition to all the fair use remixing that you're allowed to do without my permission (of course!).

I'll also be releasing (as always!) a free, Creative Commons-licensed version of the text of Little Brother, just as soon as I get back to London (I'm presently in Toronto, visiting my family with my newborn daughter). Read the rest

Malware gets a EULA

The criminals who sell the Zeus malware have added an end-user license agreement to their "product," setting out a bunch of terms controlling how the criminals who buy their products may use it, and threatening dire technological reprisals for violations:
Symantec security researcher Liam OMurchu has details on this latest development. The help section of the latest version of the Zeus malware states that the client has no right to distribute Zeus in any business or commercial purpose not connected to the initial sale, cannot examine the source code of the product, has no right to use the product to control other botnets, and cannot send the product to anti-virus companies. The client does agree to "give the seller a fee for any update to the product that is not connected with errors in the work, as well as for adding additional functionality." Modern license agreements take a great deal of (deserved) fire for being absurdly draconian, but even the likes of Adobe and Microsoft don't claim that purchasing a version of their respective products locks the user into buying future editions.

It's obviously difficult for the manufacturers of an illegal product to threaten legal sanctions against an infringer, but the Zeus authors give it their best shot. According to the EULA, "In cases of violations of the agreement and being detected, the client loses any technical support. Moreover, the binary code of your bot will be immediately sent to antivirus companies." Frankly, "We'll blow your kneecaps off and feed them to you," might be a bit more effective as a threat, but I suppose it's a bit hard to carry out that threat over the Internet.

Read the rest

Shelby County, TN Sheriff: watch out for photographers and radical greens, they might be terrorists

The Sheriff's Office in Shelby County, Tennessee, is warning locals to turn in anyone who takes too many pictures of bridges or shopping malls, because they might be scouting for Al Qaeda, who are clearly slavering at the opportunity to make a gigantic media splash by getting up to some serious naughtiness on the "iconic Hernando DeSoto Bridge."

The Sheriff also asked environmentalists to look out for anyone "a little bit radical" who might be a terrorist provocateur hoping to exploit the trusting, gentle hippies to turn them into deep green Unabombers.

"You may think a guy is just shooting pictures, but if you report it to us, we'll send it on to the FBI and they may have four or five other reports of the same thing," said Richard Pillsbury with the Tennessee Fusion Center, a collaboration between the Department of Safety and the Department of Homeland Security.

Shelby County sergeant Larry Allen warned attendees at the meeting to look for people who appear to be doing surveillance outside public buildings, such as shopping malls.

"One of the things discussed in the al-Qaeda manual is conducting surveillance of your target," added Eric Jackson with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. "That could mean looking at a building to see how security is established."

Link (via Schneier) Read the rest

Artist repairs spiderwebs, spiders say no thanks

Artist Nina Katchadourian tried repairing spider webs with thread, but her efforts were rebuffed: "My repairs were always rejected by the spider and discarded, usually during the course of the night, even in webs which looked abandoned."
The Mended Spiderweb series came about during a six-week period in June and July in 1998 which I spent on Pörtö. In the forest and around the house where I was living, I searched for broken spiderwebs which I repaired using red sewing thread. All of the patches were made by inserting segments one at a time directly into the web. Sometimes the thread was starched, which made it stiffer and easier to work with. The short threads were held in place by the stickiness of the spider web itself; longer threads were reinforced by dipping the tips into white glue. I fixed the holes in the web until it was fully repaired, or until it could no longer bear the weight of the thread. In the process, I often caused further damage when the tweezers got tangled in the web or when my hands brushed up against it by accident.
Link (via Kottke) Read the rest

HOWTO start a flashmob

Here's the latest Instructables HOWTO to tie in with my young adult novel Little Brother, which tells the story of young geeks who use technology to restore liberty to post-9/11 America.

This week, it's HOWTO start a flashmob:

Timing is everything This refers back to the whole participation thing. If your event is spontaneous in nature and just requires people to show up at the same time and do something goofy(say, gather at a subway stop and follow the first bearded person you see as if they were Jesus), they won't need much time to prepare. The ideal time for this sort of event is at the end of the workday (between 5 and 6PM) during the week as a) the streets are more crowded and b)participants are more available. For whatever reason, Thursdays seem to be most effective.

If you are planning something more elaborate, like a Costumed Rampage, you want to give people at least a week to prepare, and preferably two. These events are most effective in heavily populated shopping and tourist areas, so Saturday afternoons work best. Note: these often turn into drunkfests.

Link Read the rest

Dial and wire overload: old English bomber control panels

Devin sez, "I believe this was the navigation system for several old English bombers (Victor, Vulcan, and Valiant). Very wire-y and cool. Many, many plugs and things all over the place." Link (Thanks, Devin!) Read the rest

Paleo LED watches from the pre-cheezy era

Watchismo's feature today covers the illustrious history of early LED watches, whose origins are stylish as only artifacts from a lost era can be.
With the recent release of the $350,000 Opus 8 and the de Grisogono Meccanico dG with their mechanically mimicked LED digits, I wanted to also share this video and photos from the collection of UK LED collector, Lloyd "Theledwatch". He was recently featured on Antiques Roadshow (see video above) where he shared some of the best examples of early 1970s digital light emitting diode watches like the Pulsar Hamilton P1, Girard Perregaux Casquette, Omega Time Computer and my one-of-a-kind favorites by the Royal designer Andrew Grima.
Link Read the rest

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