European roaming charges now set by law -- and still high

The EU has mandated that, effective from today, European mobile carriers will have to offer a single rate for all of the EU, setting a maximum on the blisteringly high roaming charges. It's a cop-out, though: Orange and T-Mobile and Vodaphone and others have this legal fiction that Orange France and Orange UK are different companies and that an Orange UK customer should pay a premium to connect to Orange France's network. But in reality, Orange is perfectly capable of acting like a single company when it is in their interest. The Commission has set rates at about 10X what I pay for domestic use in the UK (still 60% less than I presently pay to roam) and says it will consider forcing lower rates in future.
"The roaming rip-off is now coming to an end," said EU telecommunications commissioner Viviane Reding in a statement. "Expect the new roaming rules to make it much cheaper to surf the web on your mobile while abroad in the EU."

After years of experiencing high prices for making phone calls abroad - or receiving them - the new tariffs are radically lower: sending a text message, for example, will drop from an average of 28 Euro cents to just 11 cents. The move should end the well-worn fear of opening a huge phone bill when returning from holiday or business abroad.

The new tariffs include the following maximum costs:

- making a call while abroad will cost 37p per minute - receiving calls will cost a maximum of 17p per minute - sending a text message from another country inside the EU will cost 10p - Data transfers will also fall dramatically, with a megabyte of data costing 85p

Mobile roaming charges drop across Europe Read the rest

Beautiful, immense papercraft castle

Wataru Itou created an immense and breathtaking paper castle, currently exhibited at Uminohotaru in Tokyo. It took Itou, an art student, four years to complete. The pictures are a must-see, do click through.

A Paper Craft Castle On the Ocean


(via Paper Forest) Read the rest

Second Skin gamer documentary coming to DVD, theaters

Victor sez, "Our documentary on virtual worlds, Second Skin, which premiered at SXSW last year, will finally be coming out in theaters and DVD in August. I produced it with my friend Peter Brauer and it was directed by my brother Juan Carlos. The three of us spent two years racing around the world following gamers who had fallen in love, become addicted, formed enormous guilds, or made their living playing MMOs like World of Warcraft, Everquest and Second Life. From gold farmers to disabled gamers, we tried to get a sense of how integral virtual worlds are to the fabric of life these days. We'd love you to check it out- the first five minutes are available on Current TV- here. The movie's coming to NYC, LA, Austin and Boston in mid-August, and DVD everywhere on August 25th."

I saw Second Skin at the Toronto Film Festival and was blown away -- by turns touching and funny, and always fascinating, this is a loving but clear-eyed look at the relationship of gamers to their games.

Second Skin (Thanks, Victor!) Previously:BBtv - Second Skin, and the lives of Massively Multiplayer Online ... Trailer for documentary about virtual worlds - Boing Boing Read the rest

Byte's Smalltalk launch cover -- Boing Boing Gadgets

Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Steven's found this delightful old Byte cover, celebrating the release of the Smalltalk programming language; it's part of BBG's tribute to Xerox PARC, the legendary R&D center that invented everything and commercialized practically nothing.
This special issue of Byte Magazine was dedicated entirely to Smalltalk. The image is based on the actual balloon launch at PARC that celebrated the release of Smalltalk.
Byte Magazine, August 1981

Discuss this on Boing Boing Gadgets Read the rest

Hardware video-decoder cartridge for the Nintendo DS

The iPlayer is a hardware video-decoder for your Nintendo DS. It plugs into your cartridge slot, and uses its on-board processor to send video in a variety of formats (avi, mov, RealPlayer, wmv, DivX, Flash, 3GP, asf, mpeg) to the screen and speakers. You load the video through a MicroSD card. Haven't tried it, got no idea if it's any good, but the premise is delightful.

iPlayer (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Tweet (#2416515042)

RT @douggpound: This is either a new Chris Cunningham video or the scariest thing in the world! Link Read the rest

@BBVBOX: recent guest-tweeted web video picks (

(Ed. Note: We recently gave the Boing Boing Video website a makeover that includes a new, guest-curated microblog: the "BBVBOX." Here, folks whose taste in web video we admire tweet the latest clips they find. I'll be posting periodic roundups here on the motherBoing.)

Robin Sloan: Rewatching Shah Rukh Khan vids in anticipation of seeing him w/ @avantgame and @superkiy. Ohhh, this one is good: Link Susannah Breslin: Peony time-lapse video. Nature. So groovy. Link Andrea James: Great moments in snowmobile history: 1st backflip (Jim Rippey's 6th time's a charm) Link Sean Bonner: Cat Workout invades Dogster. Catercising is born. Link Sean Bonner: My new favorite YouTube search: "falling down escalator" Link Richard Metzger: Electrawoman and Dynagirl Get Hypnotized Link Susannah Breslin: Dude finds awesomest laptop for porn Link Andrea James: History's most famous high-wire family act: The Great Wallendas, circa 1962 Link Richard Metzger: For a good Old Hillbilly Time Call Hillbilly Jack! Link Susannah Breslin: Watch what happens when the music comes alive: Link Andrea James: Jer Ber Jones covers Only You by Vince Clarke/Alison Moyet as Yazoo Link Susannah Breslin: A wonderful movie about synesthesia Link Jesse Thorn: "Let this be our annual reminder / we can all be something bigger!" The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer Link Jesse Thorn: Tim & Eric on .dell files and their appreciation of fine jazz, among other things. Link


Read the rest

Frazetta Meatcard challenge results

Some of the results are in for the Alpha-test Meatcard Challenge, and they are terrific. The rules were to photographically recreate one of several famous Frank Frazetta paintings (without using Photoshop or the like). The winners get business cards made from laser etched beef jerky.

Frazetta Meatcard challenge results

Previously:Meatcard contest -- recreate Frazetta paintings using live people ... Read the rest

Tweet (#2414679179)

I can't explain it, you really just have to see it for yourself Link Read the rest

Tweet (#2414475993)

Give this reporter many raises Link Read the rest

Tweet (#2414353699)

Failed fabricated 50s fad: The Duoped Link Read the rest

Silly PSA features bear shaving

A girl discovers an overheated bear in the forest. She helps him by shaving his fur in hard-to-reach places. Says Japan Probe: "This commercial is apparently an advertisement showing how Nisshinbo cares about global warming and the environment." Read the rest

Homebuilt Fiat bulldozer

If you see Kogoro Kurata's Fiat 500 bulldozer coming down the road, get ready to jump out of the way. With a top speed of 3 kilometers per hour, it's not stopping for nobody. (Via Pink Tentacle) Read the rest

Blog about quick-n-dirty repairs

Human ingenuity (and a touch of foolishness) on parade at (Thanks, Coop!) Read the rest

Sichuan peppercorns: "There's a war in my mouth."

The Evil Mad Scientists are rightfully fascinated with Sichuan peppercorns.

Sichuan peppercorns, oh yeah! Raven of Made with Molecules after eating them wrote, "There's a war in my mouth." They create a riot of numbing and tingling sensations, particularly if you can get relatively fresh ones (i.e. not stale from sitting around in a Whole Foods bulk bin). Raven links to an abstract about the particular anesthetic-sensitive potassium channels inhibited by hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, one of the components of sichuan peppercorns that make them so exciting.
Sichuan peppercorns Read the rest

Blog about awful library books

Michigan public librarians Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner have a blog featuring awful library books. The book above, Those Amazing Leeches, is a prime example of an awful library book. Awful Library Books (Via Hang Fire Books) Read the rest

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets, we paid homage to the Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC, the amazing research facility responsible for hundreds of patents and myriad innovations in technology. Steven and Lisa visited the facility in May and got a behind-the-scenes look at several of their newest innovations. As a result, we have:

&bull pictures and diagrams of the first Ethernet cable in the world;

&bull the carpet on which graphic user interfaces were invented;

&bull a smart mirror that helps indecisive shoppers compare outfits;

&bull a gallery of caution signs seen along PARC's many corridors;

&bull a contest in which you could win an Alto user handbook or a Smalltalk instruction manual;

&bull an interview with PARC employees about how they geek out and party and eat good food;

&bull an explanation of the MrTaggy search engine;

&bull pretty photos of flexible electronics;

&bull and the mystery of Alan Kay's office. On the non-PARC-related front, we have Rob's review of the Fit PC2; Jonathan Harris' new Sputnik project; and Dell's ultra-mobile audiovisual presentation platform. Enjoy! Read the rest

More posts