Boing Boing 

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

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!

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.

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

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)

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.”

Interview with the creator of Gravity Falls, Disney Channel's fun new cartoon

NewImageLast 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:

NewImageWhat 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

Twisted Sister frontman denounces Paul Ryan's use of "We're Not Going to Take It"

Dee Snider's spokesperson has denounced Paul Ryan's use of his band Twisted Sister's anthem "We're Not Going to Take It" in his campaign:

“I emphatically denounce Paul Ryan’s use of my band Twisted Sister’s song, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ in any capacity,” Snider told TPM in a statement relayed by his manager Tuesday. “There is almost nothing he stands for that I agree with except the use of the P90X.”

According to Wikipedia, P90X "is a commercial home exercise regimen, known for being intense."

Dee Snider To Paul Ryan: We’re Not Gonna Take Your Use Of Our Music (via Reddit)

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.


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.

Adan Jodorowsky and Asia Argento to shoot surreal short, seek crowdfunding [Fangoria]

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

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)

Unfortunate vintage ads

 Articles Wp-Content Uploads 2012 08 Ddt1 Yes, that's real. More unfortunate-in-hindsight vintage ads over at Collectors Weekly.

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

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

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. (

Vote for Robot Hall of Fame 2012 inductees

 Images Robots2012 Nao  Images Robots2012 Rosie

Carnegie Mellon University, curators of the "Robot Hall of Fame" (online and at Carnegie Science Center), has opened public voting for its 2012 Robot Hall of Fame inductees. Nominees are broken down in several categories and feature real and fictional bots, from iRobot's "Create" platform to Rosie the Robot Maid to the Internet video darling BigDog robotic pack mule. Robot Hall of Fame (via CNN)

New study examines how alcohol can boost risk of cancer

"Almost 30 years after discovery of a link between alcohol consumption and certain forms of cancer, scientists are reporting the first evidence from research on people explaining how the popular beverage may be carcinogenic." Lots of caveats here, but this study is of particular interest for certain Asian populations, and Native Americans.

China: Statue in public square appears to show pigs having incestuous sex

"I can explain this." Pigs Depicted Having Sex Doggy-Style In Zhengzhou Public Square Are Said To Represent Filial Piety.

Young Barack Obama parodies self

Buzzfeed posts what is purpoted to be a genuine self-parody by Barack Obama, published under the name “Baroque Yo' Mama” in a parody zine put together by his Harvard Law School graduating class. I sure like this Obama better than the one perpetuating endless war, increasing secrecy and surveillance, enabling torture and indefinite detainment, threatening whistleblowers, and shutting down pot dispensaries. Will be interesting to see what the birthers make of the "born in Norway" gag line.

Gawker drops "The Bain Files: Inside Mitt Romney's Tax-Dodging Cayman Schemes"

Today, Gawker (specifically, John Cook) publishes a Wikileaks-style data dump: The Bain Files: Inside Mitt Romney's Tax-Dodging Cayman Schemes. As Dylan Byers at Politico points out, not all of the info is new and "will require a great deal of vetting, but early signs indicate that there are some new, and potentially controversial, details -- starting with that bit at the end about a retirement package investment that was made almost a decade after Romney retired." BusinessInsider is not impressed.

Divine Fits - “Would That Not Be Nice” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 35: Divine Fits - “Would That Not Be Nice” 

Divine Fits is a great band that plays melodic indie rock. I saw their seventh-ever live show last week and they played with a reckless joy that one rarely sees these days. They have two singers who also swap out guitar and bass duties; I loved watching them switch instruments in a silly and complicated maneuver that that resembled a wrestler’s tag-out move. They played their hearts out and seemed to enjoy every sweaty minute. There was a sense in the audience that we were sharing something special.

This is a new band, but these dudes are probably not new to you. Divine Fits is Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade & Handsome Furs) and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks). They’ve made a fun and cohesive record (coming out Tuesday) titled A Thing Called Divine Fits.

“Would That Not Be Nice" is sung by Britt and features a beefy bassline and synthy keyboards by Alex Fischel. Grab the free song below and don’t forget to buy the record on Tuesday.

How Smokey Bear creates forest fires

By now, many of you are probably aware that human behavior is one of the key factors behind some of the massive forest fires we've seen in recent years. The basic story goes like this: Under a natural cycle, periodic small fires sweep through forests, burning through small trees and dry brush. But if you prevent those fires from happening—as humans have done for around a century at this point—all that highly flammable stuff builds up. In the end, you're left with a giant tinderbox of a forest. The next time a fire does happen there, it's almost guaranteed to be much, much bigger and more destructive than the natural fires that forest is adapted to.

NPR has a very nice story about the science and history behind this problem, which forest fire experts call "The Smokey Bear Effect", after the cartoon Ursus the U.S. Forest Service has long used as part of its fire prevention campaign.

Its ill-advised fire prevention campaign.

And it was the experts who approved the all-out ban on fires in the Southwest. They got it wrong. That's the view of fire historian Stephen Pyne.

"The irony here is that the argument for setting these areas aside as national forests and parks was, to a large extent, to protect them from fire," Pyne says. "Instead, over time they became the major habitat for free-burning fire."

So instead of a few dozen trees per acre, the Southwestern mountains of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah are now choked with trees of all sizes, and grass and shrubs. Essentially, it's fuel.

Over the past several years, even as fewer fires have struck the Southwest, they've burned more land. The U.S. Forest Service now spends about half its budget on firefighting.

It's worth noting that this is also a great example of why it's difficult to attribute specific events to global climate change. Increasingly hot, dry summers have certainly been a factor in creating the forest fires we've seen over the last few years. The last decade has been the hottest on record, and that has consequences. But it's not the only thing going on here. Climate change doesn't happen in a vacuum. Its effects interact with the effects of other decisions we make (and other natural events that happen to be taking place). So it's not enough to say what climate change will do. In order to make accurate predictions of risk, we have to think about the bigger picture and how climate change fits into it.

Read (or listen to) the rest of the story at NPR's website

Via Finn Ryan

Image: Forest Fire, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from wandrus's photostream

History's smoothest conman

During his legendary criminal career in the 1920s and 1930s, Victor Lustig may not have tried to con anyone into buying the Brooklyn Bridge, but he did manage to sell the Eiffel Tower to a scrap dealer. And that was just one of many capers that the international crook known as The Count managed to pull off before the Secret Service nabbed him strolling through New York's Upper West Side in May 1935. Smithsonian's Gilbert King profiles Lustig:

 Wikipedia Hu 1 10 Lustig Victor Born in Austria-Hungary in 1890 Lustig, became fluent in several languages, and when he decided to see the world he thought: Where better to make money than aboard ocean liners packed with wealthy travelers? Charming and poised at a young age, Lustig spent time making small talk with successful businessmen—and sizing up potential marks. Eventually, talk turned to the source of the Austrian’s wealth, and reluctantly he would reveal—in the utmost confidence—that he had been using a “money box.” Eventually, he would agree to show the contraption privately. He just happened to be traveling with it. It resembled a steamer trunk, crafted of mahogany but fitted with sophisticated-looking printing machinery within.

Lustig would demonstrate the money box by inserting an authentic hundred-dollar bill, and after a few hours of “chemical processing,” he’d extract two seemingly authentic hundred-dollar bills. He had no trouble passing them aboard the ship. It wasn’t long before his wealthy new friends would inquire as to how they too might be able to come into possession of a money box.

Reluctantly again, the Count would consider parting with it if the price was right, and it wasn’t uncommon for several potential buyers to bid against one another over several days at sea. Lustig was, if nothing else, patient and cautious. He would usually end up parting (at the end of the voyages) with the device for the sum of $10,000—sometimes two and three times that amount. He would pack the machine with several hundred-dollar bills, and after any last-minute suspicions had been allayed through successful test runs, the Count would disappear.

"The Smoothest Con Man That Ever Lived"

Fake celebrity pranks New York City in social experiment caught on video

Brett Cohen pranked NYC on the night of July 27th, 2012, and he has video proof: he "came up with a crazy idea to fool thousands of pedestrians walking the streets of Times Square into thinking he was a huge celebrity," and succeeded.

He is not a celebrity—or at least, he wasn't before this video went viral. He's a 21 year old SUNY New Paltz student. Snip from the project description:

Read the rest

Bentley the bulldog puppy is fussy (cute animal video)

(Video Link, via Joe Sabia).

Edward Tufte's sculptures of Feynman's diagrams

 Etmodern Et Modern Files Screen-Shot-2012-07-28-At-6.53.39-Pm

Next month at Edward Tufte's ET Modern Gallery in New York City, the pioneering information designer will exhibit his incredible sculptures based on physicist Richard Feynman's diagrams of subatomic behavior. These are truly sigils of science. Tufte will provide free tours at the show's opening on Saturday, September 15. From the free downloadable exhibition catalog (PDF):

Feynman diagrams depict the space-time patterns of particles and waves of quantum electrodynamics. These mathematically derived and empirically verified visualizations represent the space-time paths taken by all subatomic particles in the universe.

The resulting conceptual and cognitive art is both beautiful and true. Along with their art, the stainless steel elements of All Possible Photons actually represent something: the precise activities of Nature at her highest resolution.

"All Possible Photons: The Conceptual and Cognitive Art of Feynman Diagrams"

China's one-percenters make ready to take the money and run

China's wealthy elite is increasingly making offshore moves -- surveys indicate that the Chinese hyper-rich are keenly aware that they have a lot more than their neighbors, and the government might one day decide to take it away. So money is flowing out of China, and if the Mainland one-percenters all go, it'll tank the Chinese economy.

In case you are not already familiar with Prof. Victor Shih’s theory about capital flight from China, enough capital outflow from China (US$1 trillion or more) would cause huge liquidity problems in Chinese banking system, and the wealthiest 1% of Chinese households would be enough to cause that shift of capital should they decided to leave the country, move the money away, or whatever. And that shift might be happening already (albeit rather slowly), as manifested in the slow but consistent money outflow away from China since late last year, which, as we said, is already tightening liquidity in the banking system, now necessitating multiple rounds of liquidity injection in China.

Rich Chinese flee | | MacroBusiness (via Naked Capitalism)

The neurobiology and psychology that connect summer vacation with your morning run

Time is relative. Remember how each day in grade school (especially summer days) seemed to last for an eternity? Ever notice how it seems to take forever to travel a new route on your bike, while the return trip along the same path is done in the blink of an eye?

Turns out, both of those things are connected and they have important implications for the nature of memory. There's a great summary of the science on this up at The Irish Times. It's written by William Reville, emeritus professor of biochemistry at University College Cork.

The key issue, according to Reville, is that the amount of information your brain can store during a given time period isn't really dependent on the length of that time period. You could store up a lot of new information during 10 minutes of a really interesting lecture. You might store only a little new information during 10 minutes of walking your dog along a path you know very well.

The higher the intensity, the longer the duration seems to be. In a classic experiment, participants were asked to memorise either a simple [a circle] or complex figure . Although the clock-time allocated to each task was identical, participants later estimated the duration of memorising the complex shape to be significantly longer than for the simple shape.

... [H]ere is a “guaranteed” way to lengthen your life. Childhood holidays seem to last forever, but as you grow older time seems to accelerate. “Time” is related to how much information you are taking in – information stretches time. A child’s day from 9am to 3.30pm is like a 20-hour day for an adult. Children experience many new things every day and time passes slowly, but as people get older they have fewer new experiences and time is less stretched by information. So, you can “lengthen” your life by minimising routine and making sure your life is full of new active experiences – travel to new places, take on new interests, and spend more time living in the present.

I think this also has some implications for my exercise routine. I am well aware that my ability to run any distance at all is heavily dependent on psychological factors. I am not one of those people who likes to go running in new places, along unfamiliar trails, because it has always made me feel like the distance was much, much longer — and, consequently, leads me to stop running and start walking sooner than I actually have to. I've had a lot more luck running on tracks and elliptical machines—situations where it seems to be easier for me to get into a zone and lose track of time. When I run that way, it's my physical limitations that matter, not my psychological ones.

Of course, I know a lot of people who feel exactly the opposite. Maybe, for those people, running in a routine situation, like a track, makes them start to think more about their day or what's going on around them, and processing all that information makes the workout seem longer. I'm not sure. But this is awfully interesting.

Read the rest of William Reville's piece at The Irish Times

Via Graham Farmelo

Image: RUN Hills Pullover in action!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from lululemonathletica's photostream