Anti-scratch spray for device screens apparently works

Red Ferret reviewed Liquid Armor, a "nanotech" spray that you apply to your mobile device screen in order to prevent it from scratching. They found it very effective and easy to use:

All in all we were very surprised (really!) to find that the coating does seem to actually work. It’s hard to believe that a spray on coating can have that much effect, but unless we’re missing something, it does appear to protect the screen very well indeed under stress. It works with glass of course, so don’t expect the same results if you have a cheaper plastic screen, and it pays to remember that the spray needs to be re-applied every 3 to 6 months to maintain protection.

Overall, we’re going to give it a 5 out of 5. Easy to apply, effective, low impact on screen functionality and not too expensive. We’d like to hear from more real world experiences, but for now it’s a thumbs up recommendation from us.

Liquid Armor – hardcore phone screen protection from a simple nano spray [Review]

Russian beard tax token from the reign of Peter the Great


This is a Russian beard tax token from the reign of Peter the Great, who set out to modernize Russia by getting everyone to shave. Anyone who wanted to keep a beard had to buy one of these tokens (which bore the legend "the beard is a superfluous burden"). Costs varied by profession -- nobles and officers paid 60 rubles, top merchants paid 100, and so on. Additionally, everyone passing into a city while wearing a beard had to pay a kopek's worth of face-fur-toll.

Update: You can buy replica beard tokens, too.

Beard Tax Token, 1705 (via Neatorama)

MPAA tells court that Megaupload users shouldn't be allowed access to their own files without "safeguards"

U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady in Virginia has scheduled a hearing to adjudicate a claim from Kyle Goodwin, a sports videographer in Ohio whose videos have been lost since the illegal raids in May on Megaupload, a file-locker service. The MPAA has asked to participate in the hearing in order to object, in principle, to the idea that the millions of Megaupload users who've had their files seized in the raid should be able to access them without "safeguards." More from CNet's Declan McCullagh:

The MPAA said today that while it takes no position on Goodwin's request to have his own copyrighted videos returned, it wants to participate in the hearing to describe "the overwhelming amount of infringement of the MPAA members' copyrighted work on MegaUpload." (The MPAA's six members are Paramount Pictures Corporation, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios LLC, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., and Warner Bros. Entertainment.)

To those Hollywood studios, MegaUpload and its flamboyant founder Kim Dotcom represent the darkest elements of Internet file-sharing. MPAA chairman Chris Dodd has dubbed it "the largest and most active criminally operated website" in the world, and MPAA vice president Michael P. O'Leary claims it's one of the most popular Internet sites "for streaming and downloading illicit copies."

"It makes little sense for the MPAA, or MegaUpload, or Carpathia, or even the government -- despite its actions otherwise -- to prevent third parties access to their legal property," Julie Samuels, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told CNET this afternoon. "Not only does it harm those individual third parties, but it negatively impacts all cloud storage providers and customers, who, in order for the technology to work, need to be able to rely on access."

MPAA: Don't let MegaUpload users access their data

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Zombie Baby breaking out of womb

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Laz Burke shares this awesome photo of a zombie baby breaking out of the womb.

The physics of the weird geometries of the corpse city of R'lyeh


Theoretical physicist and mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett has posted a paper called "Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific," which analyzes the account of Gustaf Johansen, the author of the manuscript embedded in HP Lovecraft's famous story The Call of Cthulhu, and tries to account for the weird geometries that hide "the corpse city of R'lyeh." It's got rendered diagrams and everything. Science!

We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a unified underlying cause.

We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen`s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream.

We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.

Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific (via JWZ)

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Spider and Plague Doc masks

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Celeste says,

We've made masks again this year. My husband Jacob is a plague doctor. I'm a spider (ironically, my least favourite animal but I loved working on the mask!). More pics and a bit of info on how they were made here.

Free/open source programmer and Creative Commons activist Bassel Khartabil faces torture in notorious Syrian prison


Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian free/open source developer and Creative Commons activist, has been in prison in Syria since June, and his colleagues around the world have been agitating for his release. Now, the news gets worse: a recently released fellow inmate reports that Khartabil has been subject to harsh treatment and torture in Syrian custody. From the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Eva Galperin:

According to a new Amnesty International report, a released detainee has informed Bassel Khartabil’s family that he is being held at the Military Intelligence Branch in Kafr Sousseh and had been tortured and otherwise ill-treated.

In response to this alarming news, Bassel's friends and supporters around the world have launched a letter-writing campaign, hoping to flood Syrian officials and diplomats with physical mail demanding that Khartabil be formally charged and given access to a lawyer or released immediately. Participants are encouraged to send photographs of their letters to info@freebassel.org.

Torture Fears for Open Source Software Activist Detained in Syria

(Image: Bassel, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from joi's photostream)

Downtown After Sandy: Walking 3 miles in blacked-out NYC, the night after the storm

Boing Boing pal Joe Sabia, who collaborates with us on the Boing Boing Virgin America in-flight TV channel and is a talented director—and a resident of New York's Little Italy neighborhood!—shot and edited this amazing video.

"Walking 3 miles from Mulberry Street to Grand Central on the night after Hurricane Sandy," Joe explains. "Everything south of 38th street was dark."

Observations:

1) People used pay phones.

2) Lone cops would stand on corners keeping an eye out on things.

3) A few bars would have candle-lit drinking hours. Which reminded me of NYC in the 1700s, if I was alive then

I just watched Amadeus yesterday. That's why Mozart is scoring this video.

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Mars and the Curiosity Rover

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Shannon Stewart says, "My husband and I went as Mars and the Curiosity Rover. Had a ton of fun making these babies and the costumes were a huge hit everywhere we went!"

Infinite Gangnam Style: realtime, beat-matched remix that goes on forever


With "Infinite Gangnam Style," Paul Lamere provides an infinite, intelligent remix of Psy's viral classic, using a beat-analyzer to continually add new choruses to the song.

What is this? - Infinite Gangnam Style is a web app that dynamically generates an ever changing and never ending version of the song 'Gangnam Style' by Psy.

It never stops? - That's right. It will play forever.

How does it work? - We use the Echo Nest analyzer to break the song into beats. We play the song beat by beat, but at every beat there's a chance that we will jump to a different part of song that happens to sound very similar to the current beat. For beat similarity we look at pitch, timbre, loudness, duration and the position of the beat within a bar.

You'll need a recent Chrome or Safari to watch it.

Infinite Gangnam Style

Infinite Gangnam Style - Frequently Asked Questions

(via Waxy)

EFF's Open Wireless campaign: help your neighbors, improve anonymity, support innovation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is stepping up its open wireless campaign, which encourages people and businesses to leave their Internet connections open to the public, and offers advice on doing this safely and sustainably. As EFF points out, most WiFi networks are latent for most of the time, and there are a million ways that leaving your network accessible to passersby or neighbors can really help out, from emergency access during disasters to the urgent need to send an email, look up a phone number, or check directions. EFF's Adi Kamdar writes,

We believe there are many benefits to having a world of open wireless. Two of the big ones for us have to do with privacy and innovation.

Open wireless protects privacy. By using multiple IP addresses as one shifts from wireless network to wireless network, you can make it more difficult for advertisers and marketing companies to track you without cookies. Activists can better protect their anonymous communication by using open wireless (though Tor is still recommended).

Innovations would also thrive: Smarter tablets, watches, clothing, cars—the possibilities are endless. In a future with ubiquitous open Internet, smartphones can take advantage of persistent, higher quality connections to run apps more efficiently without reporting your whereabouts or communications. Inventors and creators would not have to ask permission of cell phone companies to utilize their networks, both freeing up radio spectrum and reducing unnecessary barriers to entry.

This movement is just beginning, but in a sense it has always been around. People, businesses, and communities have already been opening up their wireless networks, sharing with their neighbors, and providing an important public good. We want this movement to grow without unnecessary legal fears or technical restraints.

Why We Have An Open Wireless Movement

BB Readers' DIY Costumes: Tardis Dress

In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume thread, Boing Boing reader Chris Spurgeon says, "My daughter rolled her own Tardis dress!"

Band that shut down LA freeway will serve no time

Remember the talented young gentleman from Garden Grove, Calif. who shut down the 101 Freeway on Los Angeles a couple of years ago to treat immobilized drivers to a performance of their delightful song "Traffic Jam 101?" They were promptly arrested on felony conspiracy charges and misdemeanor charges of public nuisance and interfering with law enforcement. They had their day in court this week, pleading no contest. The judge went easy on them, and they will serve no time in jail.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro sentenced each one to three years' formal probation and ordered them to perform 35 days of community service. Despite an objection from prosecutors, he also ruled the felony could be reduced to a misdemeanor in 18 months.
Since they are free to roam, can we look forward to a repeat performance from these crowd-pleasing entertainers?

No jail time for band whose 101 Freeway concert jammed traffic

Housekeeping: images in comments

There is currently a problem with our Disqus commenting system preventing images from being seen in the threads. We have alerted Disqus of this issue. Until this is fixed, please link to any images you'd like to share in your comments! Thank you.

Dutch government scraps "weed cards" - foreigners will still be able to smoke weed in Amsterdam's "coffee shops"

The new Dutch government has scrapped plans to issue "weed passes" to permanent Dutch residents, and require these passes in order to purchase cannabis products in Amsterdam's famed marijuana "coffee shops." Other cities will be free to ban foreigners from their own cannabis coffee shops, should they choose, but the national government will not impose this upon them.

Incoming Dutch government ditches 'weed pass' plan (via Reddit)