Boing Boing 

Talking DRM on the CBC

Here's a quick clip of me talking to the CBC's As It Happens about my publisher's decision to drop DRM.

Canadian MP delivers exquisite tongue-lashing

Here's a tasty audio clip of a Canadian Member of Parliament banging his fellow MPs' heads together (metaphorically) over their petty procedural squabbling. Thanks to the CBC's As It Happens for providing it. (Link fixed -- sorry!)

Polymer clay skull ring

My daughters and I have been playing around with polymer clay lately. It's wonderful stuff. You can mold it like regular oil based clay, but when you bake it in the oven it gets hard. I've been looking around online for inspiration, and I came across this great skull ring that Rossana Meyer made with polymer clay.

201204261604This handmade skull ring was crafted out Fimo Soft Polymer Clay. I made this for a boy with a hardcore attitude! I used pastel yellow for the base, carved out all the details and baked for 10 minutes at 230F. When it was cool enough, I was able to push black clay in all the carved details , and added two little balls of red clay for the eyes.


Check out Rossana's Etsy store.

Skull Ring

Publishing exec admission: "I break ebook DRM"

An anonymous publishing exec explains to PaidContent how he started to break DRM on the ebooks he bought (they wouldn't open on all his devices unless he did) and how, having broken DRM, he realized that DRM was total bullshit:

I believe this is justified because I realize that when I buy an e-book from Amazon, I’m really buying a license to that content, not the content itself. This is ridiculous, by the way. I feel as if e-book retailers are simply hiding behind that philosophy as a way to further support DRM and scare publishers away from considering a DRM-free world. I’m not going to say where I work, or anything about my company, but I will say that I don’t think DRM is good for the publisher, author or customer. Don’t pro-DRM publishers realize this is one of the key complaints from their customers? I’ve heard plenty of customers tell me that e-book prices need to be low because they’re only buying access to the content, not fully owning it. That needs to change.

The actual process of breaking the DRM was pretty easy. There are plenty of how-to resources that are only a Google search away from you. I’ve now unlocked books from both Amazon and Apple, and I ran into minor hiccups with both. But a bit of digging online and help from a trusted friend got me through it. Now I can read those books on any device I want to. My advice to newbies is to not give up. If you run into a problem, look around and I bet you’ll find the answer online. I think most readers would be able to do this easily. It just requires a bit of detective work and not giving up if you hit a roadblock.

Do I feel “evil”? No, not really. If I was giving these books away, I would, but I’m the only person using them.

“Why I break DRM on e-books”: A publishing exec speaks out (Thanks, hughillustration!)

Miami-Dade County bought 300 Toyota Prius hybrids over five years ago and then forgot about them

The Miami-Dade County government purchased about 300 Toyota Prius hybrids in 2006 and 2007, but misplaced them without ever having used them. The taxpayers are out $4 million.

201204261529The county "discovered" this fleet of no-mileage vehicles after reading about them in a Spanish-language newspaper there. Most of the misplaced motorcade is made up of Toyota Prius hybrids whose warranties either expired with very few miles on the odo or will very soon.

Hundreds of 5-year-old municipal vehicles found in Miami that were never used (Via The Agitator)

Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" performed on traditional Chinese instruments

Fairmariner from the band Matteo writes, "Our band has been invited to go to China for 6 weeks as musicians-in-residence at Sichuan University! We still can't quite believe this is happening to us. We're going to record an EP while we're there, and we have a Kickstarter for that project.

That's Matteo above, performing my all-time favorite Talking Heads song, "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" on traditional Chinese instruments, and doing a whiz-bang job of it, too.

MATTEO covers Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)

Glass floor in bathroom has illuminated view of 15-level elevator shaft

The glass floor in the bathroom of this house in Mexico looks down an unused 15-floor elevator shaft.

Pent-house PPDG by Hernandez Silva

10MM images from Guatemala's National Police go online: disappearances, STD experiments, more

Forensic human rights statistician Patrick Ball sez, "More than 10 million images from the Historical Archive of the Guatemalan National Police (AHPN in the Spanish acronym) are now online at the University of Texas. Documents from the Archive start in the late nineteenth century and continue until the Police were disbanded in 1996. Scholars using the documents have detailed the role of the National Police in illegal surveillance and attacks on dissidents during Guatemala's armed internal conflict, scientists have used sampling and statistics to find patterns in the Archive that illuminate how command works, and prosecutors have won convictions of former police officers for disappearances that were unsolved for decades. Several retired officers from the senior leadership of the Police, including the former Director, Col. Héctor Bol de la Cruz, have been charged with overseeing disappearances in the 1980s, and are likely to stand trial. Now the AHPN is putting the entire archive online, unredacted, so that the world can learn from Guatemala's example."

A product of broad international collaboration, these digitized documents from the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) aim to facilitate scholarly and legal research into a vast cache of historical documentation. The discovery of the National Police Historical Archive in 2005 opened an extensive and timely resource for the study of Guatemalan history and human rights in the region, spanning a broad array of topics from Guatemala's armed conflict between 1960 and 1996 to the sexually transmitted disease experiments performed at the behest of the United States government in the 1940s. The Archive is presented online here for the first time.

This site currently includes over 10 million scanned images of documents from the National Police Historical Archive. This digital archive mirrors and extends the physical archive that remains preserved in Guatemala as an important historical patrimony of the Guatemalan people.

Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) (Thanks, Patrick!)

Bear tranquilized after climbing tree at University of Colorado dorm building


Screen Shot 2012-04-26 At 4.33.48 PmMy parents have been seeing a lot of bears recently near their house in Boulder, Colorado. The detail shown here is from a larger photo of a doped-up bear falling from a tree onto a mattress. He was discovered in the Williams Village university housing complex, which is surrounded on all sides by residential areas.

"It was really a perfect landing," said Ryan Huff, spokesman for the CU Police Department.

Bear tranquilized after climbing tree at CU-Boulder's Williams Village dorms

(Thanks, Steve Silberman!)

Sneak attack: surprise amendment makes CISPA worse, then it is voted and passed a day ahead of schedule. Congress just deleted the Fourth Amendment

In a sneak attack, the vote on CISPA (America's far-reaching, invasive Internet surveillance bill) was pushed up by a day. The bill was hastily amended, making it much worse, then passed on a rushed vote. Techdirt's Leigh Beadon does a very good job of explaining what just happened to America:

Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for "cybersecurity" or "national security" purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.

Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a "cybersecurity crime". Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government's power.

Insanity: CISPA Just Got Way Worse, And Then Passed On Rushed Vote

May Day General Strike posters


Hugh sez, "Check out Eric Drooker's latest May Day poster -- he has a bunch that can be downloaded here as well. I've got one as well on my Flickr page.

(Thanks, Hugh!)

Cops can be sued for arresting people who record them in public - new law in Connecticut

"The Connecticut state senate approved a bill Thursday that would allow citizens to sue police officers who arrest them for recording in public, apparently the first of its kind in the nation."

Extreme longboard freeride down a mountain road

Anna and a friend undertake a breathtaking longboard freeride down a winding mountain road (possibly in Maryhill, Washington, home to a full-size Stonehenge replica). It's really something to watch, though my inner worrywart kept wanting to stop the proceedings and equip the riders with protective clothing for their bare skin. I was a little disappointed that we didn't see the dismount, because the whole way down, I kept wondering, how the hell do you stop?

Downhill Babes Maryhill Freeride 2012 (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

The American who quit money to live in a cave

David Eckenrode made this short film for the BBC about Daniel Suelo, a man who stopped using money in 2000. I wrote a bit about Daniel in 2009, and had a brief email exchange with him (he uses a computer at a library within walking distance from his cave).

Mark Sundeen, the author of book, The Man Who Quit Money is a soulful journey into the spirit of Daniel Suelo. Suelo, gave up on money in 2000. He walked into a phone booth, pulled out 30 dollars and left it. Twelve years later, Suelo still does not have a personal ID, bank accounts, a modern home, does not take money, or live off of federal welfare. Suelo lives in caves in the canyon lands outside of Moab, UT. Suelo harvests wild foods, eats roadkill, and dumpster dives. Suelo is not an isolationist, he still is very active in the Moab community, SE Utah politics, and he is an active blogger.

Sundeen, knew Suelo from Moab, UT when they both worked together as cooks, but years later Sundeen came across Suelo in a market he payed him no attention, but after Sundeen, gave thought to the current economy and Suelo's philosophy he began to write his book in 2009. Sundeen's book focuses on one man, but the message of the book captures the American zeitgeist of a changing economy.

Buy The Man Who Quit Money on Amazon

Scientists claim the way a person answers simple math problem is a good predictor of their belief in a religion

Q: If a baseball and bat cost $110, and the bat costs $100 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

201204261310If you answered $10 you are inclined to believe in religion. If you answered $5 you are inclined to disbelieve.

Why? Because, according to new research reported in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science, the $10 answer indicates that you are an intuitive thinker, and the $5 answer indicates that you solve problems analytically, rather than following your gut instinct.

Psychologists William Gervais and Ara Norenzayan, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, predicted that people who were more analytic in thinking would tend not to believe in religion, whereas people who approach problems more intuitively would tend to be believers. Their study confirmed the hypothesis and the findings illuminate the mysterious cognitive process by which we reach decisions about our beliefs.

Religion and Reason: Analytic thinking decreases religious belief.

(Image: Baseball, a Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from swaimsketching's photostream)

Encrypted browser for iPad and iPhone

From Cult of Mac, this news about a 99-cent iOS app that uses the Tor network to offer encrypted web browsing.

Onion-Browser-1The Onion Browser will tunnel your connection through the Tor network, concealing your IP address and also encrypting all data before it leaves your device. You can also spoof your user agent to hide the fact that you’re using an iOS device (handy for iPhone users who work at Microsoft) and even tunnel out through corporate firewalls and country-wide censorship.

What’s more, the developer — Mike Tigas — has made the source code available both on his website and on GitHub, so you can check inside to see just what it’s doing. He is also donating 10% of his cut of the 99-cent asking price to Tor and the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation).

The Onion Browser Brings Anonymous, Encrypted Browsing To iOS

DIY Star Trek phaser pops balloons and makes a cool noise

[Video Link] He had to make his garage smoky to see the beam, but this DIY Star Trek phaser is impressive. (Via Unique Daily)

Education-related book picks from a Boing Boing reader

Earlier this month I received an email from Shawn Patrick Doyle, a teacher and writer living in Iowa, who blogs about issues of education and learning to write at Good writer, bad writer. His email contained several intriguing book recommendations, so I asked him if I could share it on Boing Boing. With his kind permission, here it is.

201204261152Just finished Made by Hand over the weekend and very much enjoyed it. It drew my attention because I come from a line of tinkerers. Still, I left the book with more confidence that I could take on projects that I once thought beyond me.

201204261154 Reading the book, I could tell we have an overlap on our bookshelf (I was glad to see the quote from Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own, which I loved), so I wanted to share some books that I feel you might find overlap with your interests. If you've not read it, you may also appreciate Shop Class as Soul Craft by Matthew Crawford. I saw a lot of similarities in the way Crawford and you think about your relationship to the world. 201204261157-1

My favorite chapter in you book was the "Learning to Learn" one. I'm an educator by trade, though I have a slightly unconventional position. I work as a Writing Consultant for First-year Students at Cornell College in Mt Vernon Ia, which means that I work on transition to college writing issues both one-on-one with students and in classes. Many of these kids suffer from the No Child Left Behind high school classrooms, but I think that NCLB can't bear all of the blame. It's partly related to the culture of schooling and grades in general, as you say in your book. I love my job because I get to do a lot of the tearing down of barriers and opening up of students' minds about their potential.

Read the rest

G-spot "discovery," gender, and good science reporting

Dr Petra Boynton has a very good critical essay examining the media coverage of a study that "proves" the anatomical existence of a G-spot.

The take home message is
- there are numerous conflicting messages about the g-spot, many of them from papers with limitations, all recently published in the same journal
- this is not cutting edge sex research nor the prime focus of what sex research is
- this distracts us from the exciting and wonderful stories and studies within sexology – and people’s daily lives
- this makes people anxious about their bodies, sexual experiences and sexual performance
- it gives legitimacy for untested cosmetic gynaecological procedures to be promoted uncritically by the media
- it implies orgasm is solely a physiological experience that is located in specific areas of the genitals (in cis women)
- it suggests particular kinds of orgasm are superior to others or that you should train your body to orgasm in particular ways/locations
- this discourages us to celebrate sexual diversity and pleasure in our genitals and elsewhere, and find what excites and arouses us

G-spot discovery, medicalization and media hype

To do in NYC Friday: see Space Shuttle Enterprise fly overhead

NASA just announced that on Friday, April 27, space shuttle Enterprise will be "piggybacked" on a 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from Washington Dulles International Airport to New York's JFK.

The duo "will fly at a relatively low altitude over various parts of the New York City metropolitan area," and are expected to "fly near a variety of landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Intrepid."

The FAA is coordinating the flight, which is scheduled to occur between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. EDT. More details here. (photo: NASA/Renee Bouchard)

Decades-long project to port Star Castle to the Atari 2600 finally complete (and an accompanying Kickstarter)


D. Scott Williamson is a former Atari employee with a decades-long obsession with the game Star Castle, once a popular stand-up arcade game. In 1981, Howard Scott Warshaw, a well-regarded Atari programmer, gave up on porting Star Castle to the Atari 2600, calling the job impossible (Warshaw ended up making the beloved game Yar's Castle instead).

Decades later, Williamson dug out his old Atari development materials and set to work trying to port Star Castle to the now-defunct 2600 platform, trying to cram the game into 8 kilobytes, and accommodate it to the quirks of the Atari hardware and TV linkup. After a false start or two, he produced a genuinely delightful and playable port.

Having perfected his code, he undertook to produce a fitting physical medium for his game. He made his own scratch-built Atari 2600 game-cartridge, one that could show off the blinkenlights he included on the circuit-board. And to make sure those lights were visible during gameplay, he also produced a transparent perspex Atari 2600 clone. Also, he made a beautiful box to accompany his cartridge, shelf-ready and perfect for displaying at one of the many non-existent Atari 2600 retailers that don't dot the landscape.

Now he wants to mass produce his delightful atemporal anachronism, and he's running a $10,000 Kickstarter to fund the production of cast cartridge shells, custom-programmed circuit boards, CDs (containing versions of the code that can be played on modern hardware), manuals, and boxes: "I was inspired by one of the greatest and most influential game programmers of all time to make something that he said was impossible. I don't consider this a game development project, rather an alternative history art piece*, a demonstration that it could indeed be done."

If you are a collector you can get a cartridge and play it the way it was meant to be played: on an Atari, with a joystick, in front of a TV (preferably an old one).

If you're a casual player you can play it on just about any PC. Many people prefer playing Atari 2600 the games on the Stella emulator because it's easy, convenient, the emulation is indistinguishable from the real thing, and the picture and sound are perfectly crystal clear.

If you are a developer or just interested in programming, the game comes with all the source code and art on the CD, everything you need to build your own copy of the game (you have to download the free compiler, but the link is on the CD). You can look it over if you are just curious, or you can modify it and make it your own. The game comes with Stella which includes a full Atari 2600 graphical debugger that allows you to step through each instruction, line, or frame of the game and graphically shows all of the registers in real-time.

This may be the only chance you have to get Star Castle 2600, after this Kickstarter campaign there are no plans to produce or make available any additional cartridges, CD's, or materials.

Star Castle 2600, the Story (via Make)

MAKE Volume 30 Takes Flight


[Video Link] MAKE Volume 30 is on newsstands now. Here's a video preview of the cool projects we've got this time.

If you want to get your hands on Volume 30 and the three issues after that, you can subscribe here, or order a copy of this single issue in the Maker Shed.

Subscribe to the MAKE Magazine Extras Podcast in iTunes, download the .m4v directly, or watch this video on YouTube.

Brogrammers "rage at gym to attract chicks, scare dicks!" and work "while receiving oral sex"

In Mother Jones, an article exploring some of the sexist excesses of Silicon Valley's male-dominant programmer culture. None of this is news to those of us (and by us, I mean women) who've worked there—but the article contains some hilarious/horrible frat-boy anecdotes. And, no, not all male programmers behave like this, yada yada yada. (via @clarajeffery)

How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog - exclusive excerpt


[Video Link] Here's Chapter 8 of Chad Orzel's funny book science book, How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog.

Physics professor Chad Orzel and his inquisitive canine companion, Emmy, tackle the concepts of general relativity in the irresistible introduction to Einstein's physics. Through armchair-- and cometimes passenger-seat-- conversations with Emmy about the relative speeds of dog and cat motion or the logistics of squirrel-chasing, Orzel translates complex Einsteinian ideas-- the slowing of time for a moving observer, the shrinking of moving objects, the effects of gravity on light and time, black holes, the Big Bang, and of course E=mc2-- into examples simple enough for a dog to understand.

A lively romp through one of the great theories of modern physics, How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about space, time, and anything else you might have slept through in high school physics class.

Read Chapter 8 of How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog

To do in California May 19-22: fight for medical marijuana

Now that you know my thoughts on medical cannabis for cancer patients, you'll understand why I think this is a noble cause. Patients gathering in Sacramento, May 19-22. On Monday May 21, public demonstration at the state capitol.

Japanese beatbox princess Aibo gives a shout-out to Boing Boing, with her cat Nao

[video link] As featured previously.

Down with roundrects! Squared-off phone case

Incase's new iPhone protectors have square (if not quite cigarette box-pointy) corners. Must be a trend! They're $30 and have "flex-fit construction", which I understand to mean "rubbery".

Shame about the colors, though: they come only in white, black, clear and pink.

The LA riots, 20 years later, viewed through food

Could anyone other than Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold explain the 1992 LA riots through the food culture of a neighborhood where it all went down? Nope. (LAT via @shelbygrad)

Papercraft gadget to help you figure out the value of resistors

201204260945
If you don't want to rely on an obscene/racist mnemonic to help you figure out the value of resistors based on their colored bands, you can make this nifty papercraft resistor decoder from Adafruit.

It’s the newest tool in our Circuit Playground -- when you can’t get to your iPhone or iPad, use paper! One side helps you read 4-band types and the other side takes care of 5-band types. The Resistor Helper is on Thingiverse as a PDF (with Illustrator editability preserved). Designed by Adafruit with Matthew Borgatti.
Resistor Helper – Papercraft Resistor Calculator