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. Read the rest

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!) Read the rest

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.

This 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 Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

The 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) Read the rest

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) Read the rest

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 Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

Bear tranquilized after climbing tree at University of Colorado dorm building

My 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!) Read the rest

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 Read the rest

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!) Read the rest

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." Read the rest

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!) Read the rest

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 Read the rest

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?

If 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) Read the rest

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.

The 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 Read the rest

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) Read the rest

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