MAKE's put my latest column, "Selectable Output Control," online -- it describes a proposal to the FCC to allow broadcasters to shut down parts of your home theater while you're watching their channels, and the consequences for Makers.
Chances are, you haven't heard of Selectable Output Control (SOC), a proposed digital TV technology that would allow broadcasters or copyright holders to tag their video with a list of receiver-outputs that were allowed to carry it. That's because it's an insane idea.
Selectable Output Control
Picture this: you power up your home theater, an near-incomprehensible tangle of game-consoles, AV switchers, cable boxes, PVRs, DVD players, 5.1 speakers, amps -- maybe a home theater PC or a projector, too. After some fiddling and locating the correct remote, you start to surf up the dial. All good. Then you hit MTV and the gorgeous, perfectly balanced sound stops. Why has it stopped? Because your cable-receiver has received a SOC flag from MTV disallowing high-end audio unless it has some obscure DRM that isn't compatible with any of your gear (especially not your beautiful hand-built tube-amp). MTV doesn't want you digitizing the songs that accompany the (increasingly rare) music videos they play, so if you want sound while watching MTV, you've got to turn on the tiny internal speakers that came with your TV.
You flip up the dial (get up again and turn off the internal speakers), and flip to HBO and your screen goes dark. That's because HBO is showing a movie that has been flagged as "no analog" -- which means that your beautiful, 42" plasma display won't work because you connected it via the composite analog video cables coming off the back of your AV switcher, rather than via the DRM-locked HDCP output. To watch the movie, you'll need to move the entire shelving unit (remember to take down the family photos first, doofus, otherwise you risk shattering the glass if they tip over), disconnect the analog cables, find the HDCP cable that came with the TV (or was it the cable box?) in the garage, and rewire your set. When the kids want to play a couple hours of Paper Mario on the Wii, you're going to need to move it again and reconnect things. (Coming soon to a Make issue: HOWTO put your home theater on wheels for easy rewiring).
Sadly, ElectricTrousers’ binary mechanical keyboard has off-brand switches, making it less useful that it might otherwise have been. It has multiple modes and type in ones and zeroes, or in ASCII text! … Controller is an Arduino Pro Micro powered by horribly inefficient homemade code. The keyboard in action!
The Skunklock is a $109 crowdfunded gadget that contains pressurized vomit-inducing gas the creators call “Formula D_1,” and which is intended to induce immediate vomiting when inhaled, as well as difficulty breathing, “A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray.”
I dote on fidget gadgets — soothing gizmos intended to give your hands something to keep busy with, like modern worry-beads — and while you can’t buy Chris Bathgate’s amazing machined sliders, and the Fidget Cube Kickstarter just closed, there’s still Thinkgeek’s new Jumbo Noah Fidget Toy, which looks like a lot of fun and […]
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]
If you like to DIY and you like helicopters, you’re going to really love the Flexbot Hexacopter Kit. This copter blows traditional models out of the water: it includes everything you need to actually build your own hexacopter, and then pilot it like a pro, too.The construction is complicated enough to give you a challenge, […]
This week’s top deals from the Boing Boing Store range from lobster to wine to desk organization. 1. Get Maine Lobster (50% Off)With these discounted packages from Get Maine Lobster, you can experience the sweet, fresh flavor of world-renowned Maine lobster right at your own dinner table. There are four options to choose from, each at […]