MAKE Weekend Projects - Optical Tremolo Box

[Video Link] Check out Charles Platt's cool Weekend Project for MAKE: an optical tremolo box. Built by MAKE's tech editor, Sean Michael Ragan.

Inspired by Charles Platt's "Stomp Box Basics" article (MAKE Volume 15, page 82), follow along as we build this Optical Tremolo Box, which reads a patterned disk with a light sensor to create a warbling audio effect (tremolo).

For this project, MAKE Technical Editor Sean Ragan used a cadmium sulfide photoresistor to provide us with our light sensor - a component we have used in previous Weekend Projects. Not only does it look cool and sound great, but once you've made the project, you can customize it by making your own effects disks!

Complete instructions for this episode of Weekend Projects Read the rest

Wide variety of human innards in delicious macaron form

Further to the anatomically correct macaron hearts from Evil Cake Shop; the project has blossomed into a full-blown set of anatomical macarons.

Anatomical Macarons – MUST SEE! Read the rest

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Apps for Kids 30: iHideAndSeek

Click here to play episode. Apps for Kids is Boing Boing's podcast about cool smartphone apps for kids and parents. My co-host is my 9-year-old daughter, Jane Frauenfelder.

In this week's episode Jane and I talk about iHideAndSeek. You play the game by hiding your iPhone somewhere in a room and having your friends try to find it by listening to the sounds the phone makes every once in a while. It's 99-cents in the iTunes store (I said it was free in the podcast, but I was mistaken).

If you're an app developer and would like to have Jane and me try one of your apps for possible review, email a redeem code to

Listen to past episodes of Apps for Kids here.

To get a weekly email to notify you when a new episode of Apps for Kids is up, sign up here.

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Kickstarter pen case copied by person who set up their manufacturing?

Notcot has a story about what looks to be a sneaky trick pulled on some folks who launched a cool pen and ruler sleeve campaign on Kickstarter (which raised $280,000). Another company is selling a pen in a sleeve that looks an awful lot like Pen Type-A, and it seems like the person who set them up with a manufacturer in China is behind the copycat pen.

Yesterday, led me to their sale of Torr Pens, which initially simply looked like a strange rip off of the insanely successful Pen Type-A Kickstarter project. Simple enough, things get ripped off - but usually the design rip offs don’t end up circulating in areas that claim to focus on authenticity and great design.

But where this got even crazier is that Torr Pens’ website and the Fab page had pictures and a James Bond parody video of the same guy who organized the manufacturing of and spent late nights washing, smelling, drying, and reassembling the Pen Type-A’s with the kickstarter designers CW&T. They even say in their update that he hugged them when he saw them last. It’s a painful story, but we can only hope hearing all that CW&T has gone through from the manufacturing issues to this new level of complication they’ve run into while still trying to fulfill their immense pen orders a year later can help educate other designers going into similar processes!

UPDATE 2/26/2013: Torr has posted a response titled "Response to cyber-slander and overhyped Kickstarter uproar."

Kickstarter Nightmare: Pen Type-A & Torr Pens Read the rest

HOWTO separate eggs with a plastic bottle

This Chinese-speaking woman has a cool tip for separating eggs, using the suction of a slightly compressed water bottle. That's a pretty clean separation. I could watch it all day.

如何巧妙分离蛋清蛋黄 (via Kottke) Read the rest

Front yard gardener wins over officials with petition

Mark recently wrote about a fantastic front yard veggie garden in Drummondville, Quebec, which local officials wanted destroyed. Alejandro De La Cruz writes to say that they've backed down: not only will the garden stay, but the town publicly announced that it will implement new guidelines which explicitly permit it.

Drummondville town officials announced the decision [Ed note: Link is in French] this week during a special session of the Municipal Council to discuss the case. The decision could create a ripple effect in other cities worldwide as zoning laws are a constant debate in urban environments. Roger told us, “The Drummondville case was one of the highest profile examples of a local municipality challenging the right to grow food in one’s own yard. While it took place in Canada, it quickly attracted international media attention because of the garden’s beauty and productivity. The win is significant because it helps establish a precedent that other urban and suburban gardeners can refer to when similar challenges arise in other parts of the world.”
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Interview with the creator of Gravity Falls, Disney Channel's fun new cartoon

Last month I bought a season pass on iTunes for a new cartoon series on the Disney Channel called Gravity Falls. My family was about to take a long plane trip and even though I didn't know anything about the show, the artwork alone gave me a hunch that it would be something my 9-year-old daughter Jane would like.

She ended up watching The Powerpuff Girls the whole time on the plane instead, but when we got home we watched Gravity Falls together and we loved it. It's about a brother and sister (Dipper and Mabel) who go to the Pacific Northwest to spend the summer with their "Grunkle Stan," a fez-wearing proprietor of "The Mystery Shack," which trades in occult items, crpytozoological specimens, and other Fortean curiosities. The woods surrounding the Mystery Shack are populated by bigfoots and jackalopes, while the town's human residents are even stranger.

Intrigued, we got in touch with the creator of Gravity Falls, Alex Hirsch, and Jane asked him a few questions:

What is that hat Grunkle Stan wears? Does he ever take it off?Like all cool people, Stan wears a fez pretty much constantly. According to legend, it gives him special powers, like the ability to cover his bald spot, and a place to hide his parking tickets. He bestows the fez upon Mabel in a future episode, and she learns of its awesome responsibility... Read the rest

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StoryBundle: pay what you like for DRM-free ebooks

StoryBundle publishes and promotes ebooks by bundling them and letting readers pay what they want: a sales model that's proven itself with games and apps, and a great way to sample new voices.

There are a fixed set of books that we offer in a bundle, and each bundle is available only for a limited time. If you miss out on the bundle, you'll have to buy the books individually from each author. We only have one bundle on sale at a time, once it's gone, it's gone.

Again, one of the central concepts is that you get to decide how much each bundle is worth to you. Think each individual book in a bundle of five books is worth $2? That's fine! Pay $10 and get five books! Only think they're worth $1 because you're not sure if you like a certain genre? That's fine too. If you want to reward these authors and encourage more independent writers by giving a bit more, that's fantastic as well. One reason we started StoryBundle is because indie authors need our support, and we want to do our part in showcasing awesome writers.

The current bundle features five SFF titles from Geoffrey Morrison, Lou Hood, Joseph Nasisse (previously at BB), with two bonus books for high rollers. Best of all, the bundles are totally DRM-free.

StoryBundle Read the rest

Adan Jodorowsky seeks funding for surrealist short featuring a gold-yielding vagina (and a pretty cool story)

Oh, my lovelies, wait until you hear about this so you can throw all your money at it like fairy dust: Adan Jodorowsky, son of avant garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (who almost made Dune with Salvador Dali and Orson Welles), and Asia Argento, daughter of Dario Argento (Suspiria, Inferno), are both filmmakers in their own right, and are currently collaborating on a short, surrealist film called The Voice Thief. With the help of some interested parties, they hope to raise funds for the movie on Kickstarter. Here are some details about the film:

"[A] mad husband attempts to steal voices for his opera singing wife, who's since lost hers... Adan describes the journey as involving 'a prostitute dwarf who still lives as a child in the shadow of her mother’s corpse,' and 'a cult that worships a giant transvestite who drips gold from her vagina.'"

I'm sorry, but if that doesn't sound like something we all can't get behind in these divided times, I don't know what is. But seriously, this sounds like an ambitious and deliciously weird project being made by people with wonderful imaginations. And if Jodorowsky can find a way to bypass the studios and make this the way he wants, then that's excellent!

Jodorowsky will be directing Argento, who will be playing the mute opera singer, and his brother Cristobal, who is playing the voice-stealing husband. Their deadline is September 14, so visit their Kickstarter page to read more about the production and what you'll get if you donate. Read the rest

German copyright trolls will single out cops, Arab embassies and clergy for accusations of porn downloads

Urmann is a German copyright troll law firm that represents hardcore pornographers, sending shakedown notices to accused downloaders, threatening to publicly link them with porn unless they pay "settlements" to make it all go away. They've revealed that the core of their strategy will be the publication of accusations against police stations, churches and the embassies of conservative Arab nations:

According to comments an Urmann insider made to Wochenblatt, the law firm is planning to target the most vulnerable people first – those with IP addresses registered to churches, police stations and – quite unbelievably – the embassies of Arab countries.

Urmann insists that it is completely entitled to take this action because the law is on its side. The company is leaning on a 2007 Federal Constitutional Court ruling that deemed it legal for law firms to publish the names of their clients’ opponents in order to advertise their services. However, there is some debate if the ruling applies since it was targeted at commercial opponents, not regular citizens.

Bernd Schlömer of the German Pirate Party describes the law firm’s threats to undermine the privacy rights of individuals as “shocking” and says that Urmann’s actions could be construed as “legal coercion.

Anti-Piracy Law Firm Will Publicly Humiliate The Clergy, Police & Arabs Read the rest

On the Googlers who are paid to look at the absolute worst things on the internet

Buzzfeed reports that the people Google hires to screen for the worst possible stuff on YouTube (CP, beheadings, and this horrific stuff) suffer mental health risks (well, duh), and that they are unlikely to be hired as full-time employees who would receive health care benefits. That does not seem right. (via Joel Johnson) Read the rest

Unfortunate vintage ads

Yes, that's real. More unfortunate-in-hindsight vintage ads over at Collectors Weekly. Read the rest

The colorful results of playing Cypress Hill through a squid

[Video Link]

Greg Gage of the DIY neuroscience company Backyard Brains stimulated the axons of a squid with the electrical signals coming out of a headphone jack plugged into an iPhone playing a Cypress Hill song. He videotaped the Squid's pigmented cells called chromatophores, which changed with the music.

We've been working hard on many new experiments at the Marine Biological Labs in Woods Hole, MA this summer and have some exciting (and beautiful) results. While working on the giant axons of the Longfin Inshore Squid, we decided to see what would happen if we played music like we do with our dancing cockroach leg experiment. The results were very cool.

Insane in the Chromatophores Read the rest

AdHawk: who's behind that political ad?

Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez,

The Sunlight Foundation recently launched a free mobile app to help voters better know who is buying political ads this election year. Ad Hawk available for iPhone and Android, listens to campaign, super PAC and issue ads on the TV or radio and then lists information about who placed the ads, their campaign finance profile and other information.

Ad Hawk is simple to use: just listen, identify and learn. When you see a political ad on TV or hear one on the radio, open the app to have Ad Hawk start listening to the ad. In less than 30 seconds, Ad Hawk will create an audio fingerprint using open-source technology and start searching our database of thousands of ads for a match. We identify new ads by monitoring media reports and the YouTube channels of political groups and campaigns. When Ad Hawk finds a match, users will get information on their phone about how much money the ad's sponsor received or spent, where the ad is on the air and media reports about the candidate or political group.

Ad Hawk: Identify Political Ads As They Air Read the rest

Data recovery firm gives man happy ending

Technology writer Mat Honan was "epically hacked," in a widely-circulated cautionary tale that should have you changing your passwords and turning on secondary authentication measures. The Novato, California-based firm DriveSavers helped Mat get his data back, and he traveled to the clean room to see how they did it. ( Read the rest

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