If so much of our personal history is getting compressed into data, and digital imaging, cloud computing, and streaming media have become an integral part of daily experience, being sensitive to the physical presence of these devices is an important responsibility. Creating distinctive, engaging objects that help people manage and understand the nature of data--an imperceptible property that is at once fragmented, modular and flowing--is a new and challenging opportunity. Data-management devices such as routers, hard drives and modems--previously relegated to back corners and spaces under desks--are now front and center, featuring prominently in people's living rooms, desktops and front pockets. Once the exclusive domain of the cable guy and corporate IT manager, they are now mainstream products that moms and dads will buy to place front and center in a living room, veritable shrines to the data that is contained within or flowing through them. Once designed to look benign, apologetic and clumsily invisible, they are now becoming sculptural pieces that warrant a strong presence in the domestic landscape.Read the rest
Wired's Charles Graeber has an astounding piece up about master lockpicker Marc Weber Tobias, who challenged Medeco's claim that its locks are "bump-proof" (that is, that they can't be simply broken by filing down a key, inserting it, and tapping it, sending a shock down the metal that makes the pins jump). Medeco launched an aggressive campaign to market its products to people who were worried about bump keys, but Tobias shows that their locks aren't substantially harder to bump than cheaper models from competitors. Medeco sent Wired a note that said Tobias's claims weren't true and implied that Wired might be sued for publishing them, so Wired set up a test, and then Medeco raised a flurry of vague, lame objections to the test. But the test speaks for itself -- the Medecos fly open at Tobias's caress.
More interesting is Graeber's look at the motives, personality and technology of lockpickers -- a fine trick of the tech journalist, blending culture and gadgets into a seamless whole.
The problem, if you're a safe company or a lock maker, is that Tobias makes it all public through hacker confabs, posts on his Security.org site, and tech blogs like Engadget. He views this glasnost as a public service. Others see a hacker how-to that makes The Anarchist Cookbook read like Betty Crocker. And where Tobias sees a splendid expression of First Amendment rights, locksmiths and security companies see a criminal finishing school. Tobias isn't just exposing problems, they say. He is the problem.Read the rest
Shirt 2 Previously:Dan Hillier's new tentacle horrors - Boing Boing Dan Hillier's tentacle horrors -- now on moleskine notebooks ... Engraved Victorian tentacle-horrors from Dan Hillier - Boing Boing Dan Hillier's altered engravings - Boing Boing Read the rest
The joke circles back to croydevenishphibbs.co.uk, a site seemingly maintained by a cranky "silver surfer" who is offering rewards for information about his family's many plaques. When Time Out contacted him, he stayed in character (if, indeed, it is a character) perfectly: "As I explain on my home page I'm appealing for information about any of the hundreds of Devenish-Phibbs around Great Britain and sending out rewards for people who pass on details and photographs. Winter is beginning to take its toll and three residents have died in recent weeks. There's a rather macabre sense that The Bingo of Eternity is in session - whose number will be called next? With warm regards, Croy Devenish-Phibbs."
This has been an exciting---and exhausting---two weeks, guestblogging for Boing. I don't see how the regular Boing bloggers get anything else done.
As a parting offering, I'd like to share some of my reminiscenses about Silicon Valley as I found it when I moved here in 1986.
[Me in 1985, photo by David Abrams. I don't remember exactly why I drew the line on the photo...something about distinguishing between the two halves of the brain, that is, the writer side vs. the programmer side.]
A little background. Over the last year I've been working on a memoir called Nested Scrolls, and I'm hoping to find a publisher for it soon.
The memoir's title has to do with two things: (a) my favorite kinds of cellular automata rules make seething scroll-like patterns that nest together like layers of scrolls, and (b) you can think of writings as being scrolls, and to the extent that a multilevel written work refers to other works, it's a nested scroll.
What I'm posting here is Chapter 10 of Nested Scrolls, called "Hacker"---and this particular chapter is about diving into the Bay Areas scene of yore. Here's an excerpt:
In 1987 I attended an annual event called the Hackers Conference. Remember—hacker was still a good word, so these guys were Silicon Valley programmers and hardware tweakers. Some of them were even fans of my books.Read the rest
So there you have it.
Here's a prediction: in five years, a UN convention will enshrine network access as a human right (preemptive strike against naysayers: "Human rights" aren't only water, food and shelter, they include such "nonessentials" as free speech, education, and privacy). In ten years, we won't understand how anyone thought it wasn't a human right.
And even then, there will be destitute former music execs, living rough on the streets, using their laptops to argue that no, it's not a human right: you should be deprived of your Internet access if you're accused of copyright infringement, because the Internet is just a machine for making copies of trivial, copyrighted entertainment products.
"You don't need a TV. You don't need a radio. You don't even need a newspaper," says Mr. Pitts, an aspiring poet in a purple cap and yellow fleece jacket, who says he has been homeless for two years. "But you need the Internet..."Read the rest
Shelter attendants say the number of laptop-toting overnight visitors, while small, is growing. SF Homeless, a two-year-old Internet forum, has 140 members. It posts schedules for public-housing meetings and news from similar groups in New Mexico, Arizona and Connecticut. And it has a blog with online polls about shelter life...
Aspiring computer programmer Paul Weston, 29, says his Macintosh PowerBook has been a "lifeboat" since he was laid off from his job as a hotel clerk in December and moved to a shelter.
One of Valve's most renowned character design theories, evident in all recent multiplayer games from Team Fortress to Left 4 Dead, is in creating each figure as a shape so distinct that they're instantly recognizable from nearly any distance, in any light.If there's a Left 4 Dead one, I'm doomed -- it's all the wife can talk about these days; we'd end up with one in ever room, and Alice running around making pew-pew noises at them.
And, taking that idea to its logical extreme, Etsy seller SaltyandSweet has given life to the unofficial official Team Fortress 2 mobile, laser cut and "extremely lightweight [to stay] in motion with even the slightest breeze," and perfect for toddler-training tomorrow's jarate-tossing champs today.
Looking back over the advance of physics over the last two hundred years, it's staggering to realize how much our world view has changed. As a science fiction writer, I'm always trying to imagine how much more things might change in the coming two centuries. The really hard thing to anticipate is the completely game-changing advances that occur every so often.
My sense is that, for one thing, we won't be using chip-based computers in two hundred years---any more than we use mechanical calculators now. That's why, in my recent novels Postsingular and Hylozoic, I've been speculating about a world in which our computations escape from our machines and filter into our ordinary matter.
Nick Herbert is one of my favorite offbeat physicists. One of his papers in particular is something I've thought about a lot over the years: "Holistic Physics, or, An Introduction to Quantum Tantra." Here Nick argues that our conscious minds display some of the same features as quantum mechanics. When we're not thinking about anything in particular, our thoughts evolve in a continuous, multi-universe kind of way---but when we focus on something, we carry out something like the quantum collapse that characterizes the process of measurement.
[Brain models from the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments at Harvard University.]
As I've been saying, I think it's at least in principle possible that the quantum computations in ordinary matter might be capable of carrying out these same kinds of processes---which we normally associate with living, conscious minds. Read the rest
Staff at the theatre were searching customers' bags for video equipment that could be used for movie piracy.Cinema ordered to pay $10K in damages for search (Thanks, Patrick!) Read the rest
Security guards didn't find any video equipment in the family's bags, but did turn up a large selection of snack food, which they asked the family to take back to their vehicle, Lurie said.
"They did so willingly. But they continued the search of the bags and while searching they also uncovered some birth control pills belonging to the older daughter," Lurie said.
"Needless to say the mother was not pleased to find out in this manner that her daughter had those pills in her possession."