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Disney Research's ideas for 3D printed toys

Printed Optics: 3D Printing of Embedded Optical Elements for Interactive Devices, a paper from Disney researchers in Pittsburgh, details a set of toymaking techniques involving 3D printers. Some of them (like "a bug-like figure with glowing eyes that display different graphics") are intriguing in the extreme. I like the way they're thinking about 3D printed micro-channels as a means of moving light around within a solid toy. Here's the BBC's summary:

One application involved the creation of air pockets in the shape of thin hollow tubes of various lengths which were arranged to resemble the shape of a cartoon heart inside an animal-shaped figurine.

When illuminated from below using a light emitting-diode (LED) the tubes looked as if lots of tiny lights had been built into the toy and programmed to shine in sequence to resemble a beating heart.

Another example involved creating "light pipes" as a 3D-printed alternative to optical fibre.

The engineers said the pipes could be easily shaped to fit a toy's specific form, with joints placed at specific places allowing them to be linked to other light pipes. They said this would have been much harder to achieve with traditional fibre.

Disney develops 3D-printed lighting for toys

Geeky license plate gallery

Wired's Robert McMillan has collected some of the geekiest license plates he can find for a fun little gallery. I've only ever owned a car once, the year I lived in LA, and I was happy to score COPYFYT for my crappy Hyundai (my wife, a gamer, got MAGELFG, only after being turned down for ZOMGWTF). Of course, attentive Boingers will know that our own Jason Weisberger sports the ultimate custom plate: DRUNK.

The Geekiest License Plates of All Time

(Image: rm -rf *, by Michael Foord)

Striking new Murakami book covers


Vintage Books has redesigned its Haruki Murakami backlist with striking covers by Israeli designer/illustrator Noma Bar. The covers -- and there are a dozen more -- are reproductions of Bar's hand-pulled screen prints. "Vintage Murakami"

Pirate Cinema audiobook: no DRM, no EULA, just the spoken word

Further to yesterday's post about the availablity of a DRM-free, EULA-free MP3 download for the audiobook of Little Brother, I'm pleased to announce that I'm also selling the audiobook for my new novel Pirate Cinema. As with the Little Brother audio, this is a professionally voiced, unabridged audiobook from Random House Audio. This one is read by the rather fabulous Bruce Mann.

The reason I'm selling this direct from my site is that the largest retail channels for audiobooks -- iTunes and Audible -- refuse to carry audiobooks without DRM and onerous license-agreements. I don't want to lock you into anyone's platform, and I don't want to take away any of the rights you get under copyright law. So I've taken matters into my own hands, offering the book directly, in a fair, straightforward, simple way. I'm immensely grateful to Random House for backing me in my fight against DRM, and for sacrificing the revenue they'd get from iTunes/Audible in order to leave me with my principles intact.

Pirate Cinema Audiobook

Schoolkids pay to store cell phones in "valet" trucks

Some NYC students not permitted to bring their phones or other gadgets to school shell out $1/day at "valet" trucks like the "Pure Loyalty Electronic Device Storage" vehicle and other similarly converted vans. From the AP:


Cellphones and other devices, such as iPods and iPads, are banned in all New York City public schools, but the rule is widely ignored except in the 88 buildings that have metal detectors. Administrators at schools without detectors tell students, “If we don’t see it, we don’t know about it...”

The trucks that collect the cellphones have their own safety issues — one was held up in the Bronx in June, and some 200 students lost their phones.

"A phone away from home: Some NYC students pay private ‘valets’ a dollar a day" (via Dave Pell's NextDraft)

Maine GOP attack-flier condemns Democratic candidate for playing an orc rogue in online game

A flier distributed by the Maine GOP attacks Democratic state senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz for playing an orc assassin rogue in World of Warcraft, using quotes she's made about the virtual violence her imaginary fairy-tale creature gets up to in order to imply that she is unfit for office. Timothy Lee has more on Ars Technica:

"I love poisoning and stabbing! It is fun," the flyer quotes Lachowicz as saying. The candidate is apparently a regular commenter at DailyKos, a liberal blog. And the Maine GOP has mined the site looking for what it regards as damning comments. Most of Lachowicz's remarks were posted in 2009 or 2010, most likely before she began her current campaign for office.

"I can kill stuff without going to jail," she wrote in December 2009. "There are some days when this is more necessary than others." The flyer points voters to a website, called "Colleen's World," that highlights more cases where she describes virtual violence she committed in the online world.

Candidate for Maine State Senate attacked for Warcraft character

The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song: exclusive excerpt from new graphic novel about country music pioneers

What is the year that country music started to suck? 1970? 1960? 1950? I don't know, but The Carter Family was around well before any of those years, and I love their music. I also love this new graphic novel, The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, By Frank M. Young and David Lasky, published by Abrams ComicArts. I was hooked from the very first page. Enjoy the excerpt!

The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song is a rich and compelling original graphic novel that tells the story of the Carter Family -- the first superstar group of country music—who made hundreds of recordings and sold millions of records. Many of their hit songs, such as “Wildwood Flower” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” have influenced countless musicians and remain timeless country standards.

The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song is not only a unique illustrated biography, but a moving account that reveals the family’s rise to success, their struggles along the way, and their impact on contemporary music. Illustrated with exacting detail and written in the Southern dialect of the time, its dynamic narrative is pure Americana. It is also a story of success and failure, of poverty and wealth, of racism and tolerance, of creativity and business, and of the power of music and love.

Includes bonus CD with original Carter Family music.

Click images to enlarge.

Read the rest of the excerpt

Rings carved from billiard balls

Eleanor Salazar, a jewelry maker in Maine, fashions beautiful rings from old billiard balls, carving them to size and polishing them to a smooth finish.

These rings are carved from bona fide used billiard balls to fit your finger. I can make yours in sizes 5-10, and can carve it from whichever pool ball in the set strikes your fancy, from 1-15. Just be sure to contact me with your ring size when you order.

Rounded Numbered Rings (via Neatorama)

Chirp sends information from one smartphone to another, using electronic birdsong

[Video Link] Nicolas Pergola of Chirp says

We're a spinout from University College London Computer Science and we've developed a new data transfer application for smartphones (and more) called Chirp.

This is our thing - a technology inspired by birdsong and the principles of biomimicry.

We think it's pretty exciting since the app has great potential, although it's just the tip of the iceberg. Our plans include teaching the machines to sing.

Amazing discoveries in science fiction: Everyone in Star Wars might be illiterate

"It seems like all the characters in Star Wars learn how to do is punch certain buttons to make their machines do what they need to do, and everything else is left up to droids." Ryan Britt at Tor has an analysis on how all the citizens in George Lucas' space epic have culturally evolved to a state in which the written word has gone extinct and, as a result, no one can read or write. Consider this the next time you send a text with your voice, if you feel like giving yourself a small anxiety attack. (via io9)

PBS Off Book video: What Are Indie Video Games

[Video Link] As I've mentioned before, I love PBS's Off Book video series about Internet culture. The videos are intelligent, well produced, and often reveal things that surprise me. The newest video, released today, is about indie video games.

The video game industry is now bigger than Hollywood, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent developing these interactive experiences. But there are also small-scale developers working in the indie game realm, creating unique and experimental video games without the budgets of the larger "AAA" games. These indie game developers devote time, money, and take great risks in a quest to realize their creative vision. They deftly balance game mechanics & systems, sound & visuals, and an immersive storytelling experience to push the gaming medium into revolutionary new territory. Much like indie music or indie film, the indie gaming movement provides a creative outlet for game designers who want to work outside of the mainstream.

Thief steals iPhone from a baby

How soon before this gent -- who stole an iPhone from a 20-month-old baby watching an episode of Barney & Friends -- gets doxed?

Thief steals iPhone from a baby (Via Cult of Mac)

How to flip food in a pan (Video)

[Video Link] You aren't supposed to lift the pan. You're supposed to slide it back and forth. Thanks, Chef John! (Via Doobybrain)

Future of racism, Canadian style

Denise sends us Jef Catapang's project where "A bunch of Canadian science fiction authors riff on what sci-fi teaches us about race, and share their thoughts on the future of racism."

New 3D printer makes furniture, glass jars, food and more out of garbage

[Video Link] The Muffin Monster creates useful objects out of shredded garbage. This is a game changer. (Via Laughing Squid)

Photographic proof that Arrested Development is really, truly back

We knew that several reports over the last few months have confirmed the wonderful news that Arrested Development was not only coming back, they were coming back to film 13 episodes that would be streamed on Netflix in 2013, and those episodes would lead into a full-length movie. We knew that Ron Howard had an actual, written script. And we also had set photos. But now, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, we have the entire cast reunited. Several photos of the whole ensemble, both in and out of silly costumes, will appear in the reunion-centric issue hitting stands this week.

Wait a second -- 13 episodes in 2013, quite possibly in April, the month of April Fool's... What if they're still messing with us??? Sorry, my tinfoil hat was a little snug for a second there.

Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly

'Arrested Development': The photo you've been waiting years to see [Entertainment Weekly]

Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 years of Life on the Street

Last night, I spent an hour flipping through this lovely coffee table book on Sesame Street. Every time there is a debate about some obscure memory of the Street, out comes this tome.

Sesame Street played such an important role in my childhood and that of my friends that I am never surprised to find whoever is at my house leafing through this lovely collection of photos, stories and facts. When my daughter became a fan, I was thrilled to get reacquainted with the show and its new characters.

Having a coffee table book is great, but giving to Sesame Street feels even better. Most of its funding comes from the public, people like us.

Many people don’t realize that Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit organization. For all of our programs, which include productions in more than 140 countries, we must cover the substantial cost of research and curriculum development, writing, design, production, and more.

Louise A. Gikow's Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 years of Life on the Street

Ronald Reagan collage art show by Winston Smith and friends

Bedtime Democracy Reag 50

This Friday at Grant's Tomb in San Francisco, "The Beginning of the End: Ronald Reagan's Legacy," a show of new and classic collage art by Winston Smith, Fast, Cheap & Easy Graphics, Ron Donovan, and Jon-Paul Bail. The event is one-night-only, tomorrow (10/5) from 6pm to 11pm at 50-A Bannam Place (tiny alley off Union Street at Grant in North Beach.) Below, two more of Winston's Reagan pieces from those oh-so-fun 1980s.

Read the rest

UN's copyright agency won't let the Pirate Party in

International non-governmental organizations with an interest in copyright and related issues have always been admitted to the United Nations's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as observers (I was once such an accredited observer, working on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation). Historically, the NGO "observers" at WIPO were industry groups, such as the motion picture lobbyists from the MPA, the record industry lobbyists from IFPI, and so on. But starting in the middle of the last decade, public interest groups like Creative Commons and EFF started to attend these meetings, adding balance and an emphasis on human rights to the treaty-making debates.

Pirate Party International satisfies every one of the criteria used to evaluate NGOs for WIPO observer status. Nevertheless, WIPO's general assembly has postponed approval of PPI's application for status. According to a report by Knowledge Ecology International founder James Love, the assembly rejected the Pirates after pressure from Switzerland, the USA, France and other EU nations:

US, Switzerland [and] France raised objections in the informal consultations, and [...] some other European countries wanted to raise objections, but found it awkward given the recent success of domestic Pirate Parties in national elections. The USA said it asked for a hold on the decision until WIPO could decide if it wanted to accept political parties as WIPO observers. One delegate said European countries were concerned that the Pirate Parties would take “political action” back home when they disagreed with positions taken by the official delegates at the WIPO meetings”

PPI blocked from becoming observer members of WIPO

Einstürzende Neubauten's "Blume" video (1993)

From pioneering German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, this terrific video for their song "Blume" that embodies the underground spirit of the time/scene. The song is on their 1993 album Tablua Rasa. Einstürzende Neubauten, which means "collapsing new buildings," often fashions their own instruments from scrap metal and construction tools. It makes sense then that the horn-like instrument seen in the video is a recreation of the Intonarumori, a musical contraption built by Italian Futurist artist Luigi Russolo, author of the 1913 manifesto L'Arte dei Rumori ("The Art of Noises"). I used a photo of the Intonarumori in my post on Tuesday announcing our new Boing Boing Music page. Einstürzende Neubauten (Thanks, kawayama and swalbr!)

If Looper had been made in 1994 -- by Disney

(Video link) This is an amazing discovery! Not only was Looper a remake of a (fake) madcap family comedy from the '90s, but it's a remake that starred the same exact actors! I can't wait until someone unearths Disney's 1993 hit Saw, which was actually a delightful adaptation of the game Mouse Trap starring Cary Elwes! (Video by Screen Junkies via Tor)

Happy Anniversary, Sweetcakes -- From Gina

Late last week we got an email from Gina. Her husband Sweetcakes is an avid Boing Boing reader and she thought there'd be no better way to say "I love you" than with a message here. Thank you so much for appreciating the site. We all wish you the happiest anniversary!

New kids book from creators of Yo Gabba Gabba!

NewImageSix years ago, a group of hyper-creative old-school punks from Orange County unleashed the psychedelic kids insanity of Yo Gabba Gabba! on the world. The moment that Boing Boing first discovered the show pilot before it was even picked up for TV, the surreal antics of DJ Lance and his mutant pals infiltrated my home. My son is almost 7 and (temporarily) a bit old for the show, but my 3-year-old daughter has become a passionate fan. To her mind, the show depicts some sort of classroom and DJ Lance is the "teacher." I only wish I attended a pre-school where Brobee was a classmate!

Now, for children who have just outgrown Yo Gabba Gabba!, the show's creators have created a new alternate (and equally-strange/fun) narrative in the form of a book titled The Goon Holler Guidebook. Penned by YGG! art director Parker Jacobs, the slim hardback is a guide to a magical place called Goon Holler that is filled with mischief, jokes, comics, and, yes, ukulele. The first character you'll meet is Tooba, a Bigfoot (yay!), who stumbled through a waterfall portal into Goon Holler where he meets a wizard, an alien, and, of course the goons. You can imagine the rest, or at least your kids can.

The Goon Holler Guidebook (Amazon)

Man in a "drunken blackout" bought 69 percent of the global market in oil futures

2009: "Between the hours of 1:22 a.m. and 3:41 a.m., [Steve Perkins] gradually bought 69 percent of the global market [7 million barrels of crude oil], while driving prices up from $71.40 to $73.05, by bidding higher each time. At 6:30 a.m., presumably sobering up and realizing what he’d done, he sent a message to his managing director claiming an unwell relative meant he would not be able to make it into work." 'Drunken' Broker Sent Oil to 8-Month High in 2009

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: "Only In My Dreams"


"I'm just a rock n' roller from Beverly Hills / My name is Ariel... Pink!"

Well, okay. Sing it, Ariel! Peculiar popsmith Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti are back, and as absurdly delightful and infectiously catchy as ever. Hella amusingly weird too - just check out the damaged Beach Boys vibe of, uh, "Schnitzel Boogie". Oh, and of course AP couldn't resist titling a track here, "Pink Slime"!

Like his previous album for 4AD, 2010's Before Today, this one, titled Mature Themes, displays AP's "new" sound, one that's (slightly) less fucked up, (somewhat) more slickly produced than his pre-4AD output. It took us little while to adjust to the not as lo-fi, not quite so shambolic AP, but now we're fully into it.

Read the rest

The dead rise in Georgetown

Authorities think that an area of Washington D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood — on Q Street north of Volta Park — might once have been part of a cemetery. Several sets of human remains have been found there over the years, including, last month, the skeletons of five people. All five were found in the driveway and backyard of one house, where the owners were doing some repaving work and building a new garage. (Via Leah Thayer)

Berlusconite politician caught slashing disabled man's tires

Antonio Piazza, a Milanese government official from Italy's People of Freedom party (that's Silvio Berlusconi's party), has made headlines after he was caught on CCTV slashing the tires of a disabled person's car. Piazza had been in the habit of parking his car in a disabled spot near his office. When a police officer fined him and made him move his car so that a disabled person could use the spot, he returned a few hours later and slashed the guy's tires. He forgot that there were CCTVs on the scene. Here's The Guardian's Tom Kington:

Piazza at first tried to appeal against his parking fine, claiming he had given a lift to a disabled person, but has now grudgingly resigned from his job running a regional housing agency under pressure from his party, claiming: "I made a mistake, but there are people who behave even worse."

As Italy's fiscal police inspect local government accounts up and down the country in the wake of the Lazio scandal, a new report has revealed tax evasion is still endemic among Italy's professions – finding that psychologists fail to declare 40% of their earnings, rising to 42.7% for lawyers. Italians who do pay taxes were shocked to learn of the arrest of the head of a tax-collecting agency on suspicion of embezzling €100m, some of which he spent on lavish parties in Portofino.

Italian politician slashes disabled driver's tyres in parking dispute

The surface of Venus

I love rediscovering cool things. I'm sure I learned, at some point, that the Soviet Union had once sent probes to land on the surface of Venus. But I had completely forgotten this fact until today.

This photo comes from Venera 9, which landed on Venus on October 22, 1975. The lander remained operational for 53 minutes, which isn't bad considering we're talking about a planet with hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid in the atmosphere, and a surface temperature (as measured by Venera 9) of 905° F.

The photo — at three different phases of processing — comes from the website of Don Mitchell, an enthusiast of Soviet space history. Mitchell did the processing that resulted in the clear, bottom image in this stack.

The upper image is the raw 6-bit data. The center images include the telemetry brust replacements, with remaining bursts blacked out. The 6-bit values have been transformed to linear brightness, using the published photometric function of the camera, and then converted to sRGB standard form (gamma 2.2). In the final version, I filled in missing regions, using Bertalmio's inpainting algorithm.

Read more about these photos at Don Mitchell's website
Read more about the Venera landers and how they survived on Venus

Thanks to OMG Facts for reminding me of this cool bit of history

Fossils in storage: How do you sort through the backlog?

Yesterday, I posted about Pegomastax africanus, a parrot-like dinosaur whose fossil was discovered not in a remote waste in some far corner of the world, but in a rock that had sat in storage at Harvard University for 50 years.

In the post, I tried to explain why something like that could happen. The simple fact of the matter: A successful archaeological or paleontological dig will produce far more material than the original scientists have time (or money) to sort through, process, and examine. So lots of stuff ends up sitting in storage.

That led BoingBoing reader Matt Fedorko to some interesting speculation:

"...This seems like a perfect opportunity to exploit 3D scanning technology to put the shapes of fossils, at least, into some kind of digital storage area where other researchers could look at a dig's haul and start to work with them spatially, or beside any of the other data that is collected in the field or logged during the cataloging procedure."

Now, Charles Q. Choi, a journalist who wrote about the discovery of Pegomastax africanus, says that Matt's idea isn't all that far-fetched. In fact, scientists already do something like this with the fossils that do get closely examined.

Read the rest

Cory in San Francisco tonight

Hey, San Francisco! I'm at Borderlands Books in the Mission tonight at 7PM, for the Pirate Cinema tour! Tomorrow night it's Berkeley, then south to LA, then all the way to Lansing, MI, and then a host of other cities across Canada and the USA. Check the full schedule -- I hope I get to see you!