Mystery of the deep-sea BLOOP solved

Remember the deep-sea "bloop" noise that some people thought might be coming from a giant squid? Turns out it's an icequake. (Here's a WAV of it)

The broad spectrum sounds recorded in the summer of 1997 are consistent with icequakes generated by large icebergs as they crack and fracture. NOAA hydrophones deployed in the Scotia Sea detected numerous icequakes with spectrograms very similar to “Bloop”. The icequakes were used to acoustically track iceberg A53a as it disintegrated near South Georgia Island in early 2008. Icequakes are of sufficient amplitude to be detected on multiple sensors at a range of over 5000 km. Based on the arrival azimuth, the iceberg(s) generating “Bloop” most likely were between Bransfield Straits and the Ross Sea, or possibly at Cape Adare, a well know source of cryogenic signals.

Icequakes (Bloop) [NOAA] (via Hacker News)

Smells like freedom

Floatttt

Photo by Jenn Shreve snapped at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation. (Thanks Koshi for the headline!)

Barbie crashes and burns in China

The Chinese launch of Barbie has crashed and burned, after the multi-million-dollar Barbie flagship store in Shanghai's most fashionable district had to close its doors for lack of business after just two years. Here's Ken Voigt from CNN with an expert's postmortem:

"Barbie spent a lot of money setting up a boutique in the most fashionable part of Shanghai, where you could go and have all of your Barbie needs met. You could have a fashion consultation, you could of course buy lots of Barbie dolls," said Karl Gerth, author of "As China Goes, So Goes the World: How Chinese Consumers Are Transforming Everything."

However, "they didn't think long and hard enough about whether Chinese girls wanted to look sexy or they wanted to look something closer to what you'd associate with Japan -- cute," Gerth added. "So Hello Kitty is doing well, but Barbie is an example of crash and burn."

What do Chinese consumers want? Not Barbie

Counterfeiters counterfeit anti-counterfeiting notice


From MakerBot co-founder Zach Hoeken Smith's photos from Shenzhen, China, a counterfeit Mickey Mouse hat with a prominent anti-counterfeiting notice.

(Thanks, Jeffrey!)

Chevy Chase is off Community, effective immediately

While reports say that the decision was mutual, Chevy Chase has made a deal with NBC to leave Community and never come back. Chase had filmed the majority of the fourth season's episodes, but there is no word yet on how the absence of his character, Pierce Hawthorne, will be addressed. Everyone who enjoyed his voicemails and borderline racist behavior will miss him dearly. (via Deadline)

MakerBot opens a NYC store with a 3D photo booth


MakerBot has just opened its first retail store on Mulberry Street in lower Manhattan -- a great neighborhood, by the way, and a perfect place for a 3D printing store. The store includes many wonderments, including a 3D photo booth, where you get your head scanned and then printed out.

MakerBot and ShapeShot have joined forces to provide a 3D Photo Booth experience for the 21 st century – a chance to capture and create a 3D image, but not just any image, but a 3D portrait and replica of your face! In a few minutes, a scan is made of your face and displayed on a screen. Serious or funny expressions are immediately captured using ShapeShot’s 3D face data that can then be used to print out a 3D replica of your face! The 3D portrait is a cool souvenir, preserves your loved ones face forever, and is the perfect gift for birthdays, bar or bat mitzvahs, and holidays. Customers can also get a 3D bust of their baby, friends, and the whole family.

Introducing The MakerBot 3D Photo Booth!

Great kickstarter for 1970s interviews with notable people


This sounds amazing. But expensive! -- the box set costs $300, and the digital set of interviews cost $80.

Between 1969–1972, Howard Smith recorded interviews with scores of rock stars and cultural icons. As a Village Voice columnist and radio personality on WPLJ FM, Smith sat down for revealing, personal conversations with Eric Clapton, Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, Buckminster Fuller, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia and Hugh Hefner, to name just a few. He interviewed John Lennon and Yoko Ono no less than five times, and called in live dispatches from his Winnebago parked stage-side at Woodstock. Smith was at the center of culture during an era of extraordinary transformation.

Smith kept the original interview reels, hundreds of them, buried in a crate in the back of his New York City loft, and they haven’t seen the light of day in over 40 years.

We’re launching this Kickstarter campaign to produce a limited edition, hand numbered box set with more than 12 CDs of the cream-of-the-crop interviews. Out of more than 150 interviews that we found, we’ve selected 18 incredible conversations for this boxed collection.

The Smith Tapes Box Set (Thanks, Jim!)

Expereal: iPhone app to rate/analyze your life via data visualization

Expereal is a free iPhone app developed to help people better understand themselves, to feel even more connected to the world, and to, hopefully, make more informed decisions about their lives. The marketplace has social media platforms, physical measurement products and mood apps and sites, but nothing that simply helps answer the question: "How's my life going now compared to other time periods (and people and places)… and WHY?" A useful personal life quality tool.

The app was inspired by Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow, specifically his discussion of the Experiencing and Remembering Selves (also, subject of his TED talk). Kahneman describes that as we recall past events – whether past relationships, jobs or vacations -- we typically remember their totality in how they ended, NOT how we actually experienced them, regardless of their duration. Interestingly, this cognitive bias also impacts how we think about our lives in the present. For example, if someone asks how our lives are going right after a great date or incredible meal, our response tends to be positive. It's difficult to counterbalance this "peak end bias" to view our lives more holistically. Expereal aims to help us in this endeavor, simply and beautifully, by essentially allowing us to remember our “experiencing selves”.

To this end, Expereal reminds us to “actively” rate our lives on a 1-10 scale at particular moments across time via an interactive color wheel, though people can enter ratings as often as they like. It also offers the option to describe a rating with a location, description and people. On the Profile screen, the averaged ratings are displayed as data visualizations, along with anonymous aggregated average ratings of Facebook friends and all app users. Moreover, on the Visualize screen, people can review their personal past monthly and daily average ratings and can dig deeper by tapping on specific days to recall that day’s individual ratings and associated details.

Expereal hopes to bring the emotional, mental and psychological quantified self movement to a global audience - to help people live better, more fulfilling lives. Future paid iterations will include improved data visualizations and correlations (e.g., “Your ratings at home tend to be higher when you ‘watch football’ and ‘play with kids’.”), as well as a Global Index, whereby people could compare, for instance, how the US rated their lives this week with other countries (or with cities, regions and continents).

Also planned are Android and web versions, as well as the ability to share across additional social networks, such as Facebook, Path and Twitter, and to login with an Expereal-specific username and password.

See more images of Expereal

Gweek 076: I Want My Blackwing Dirt Candy

Discussion and reviews of comic books, science fiction novels, games, and apps

Click here to play this episode. Gweek is Boing Boing's podcast about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

My co-hosts for this episode:

Michael Pusateri, a lifelong tinkerer and former television tech executive for Disney who blogs at cruftbox.com


Fred Van Lente, the author of the Comic Book History of Comics, Valiant’s Archer & Armstrong comic book series, the Marvel iOS game Avengers Initiative, and much more.


Here are some of the things we talked about:

Dirt Candy, by Amanda Cohen. "Shares the secrets to making flavorful dishes—from indulgent stone-ground grits with pickled shiitakes and tempura poached egg, to hearty smoked cauliflower and waffles with horseradish cream sauce, to playfully addictive popcorn pudding with caramel popcorn."


Leviathan Wakes: The Expanse, by James Corey. Michael: "Great space opera sci-fi with a mix of detective who-dunnit and realistic characters."


I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. Mark: "A great oral history of MTV. Filled with amazing anecdotes about the improbable rise of a channel that almost didn’t happen."


The Secret History of DB Cooper, the recently-wrapped psychedelic spy series from Oni Press by Brian Churilla. Posits an early 1970s in which Soviet and American agents war in a trippy psychic realm, of which the famed “skyjacker” was one (but on which side)?


Blackwing/Palomino Kum Pencil Sharpener. Michael: "Great manual sharpener for pencil enthusiasts."


How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants, By David Reese.


Perma-Proto Breadboards from Adafruit. Mark: "An easy way to make a permanent version of your solderless breadboard prototype."


Borderlands 2. Fred: "Because Borderlands 2, that’s why. Pretty much the perfect game (in my own, admittedly highly biased view) from a writing sense, and something I think a lot about these days, as I’ve started writing games."


And much more, including three excellent picks by Gweek listener Tyler Dewald: Write or Die, White Noise Lite, Law and the Multiverse.

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Hacker steals entire nation's identity

A Greek hacker stole the personal data of about 9,000,000 Greek residents, which is approximately the same as the population of Greece itself. As Kevin at Lowering the Bar points out, this means that "If You're Greek, Someone Probably Just Stole Your Identity."

Third, according to some reports, the files "appeared to include duplicate entries," so the actual number of affected Greeks may be lower than 9 million, but we don't know how much lower yet. For now we have to assume the number is 9 million, so your answer should have been that there is approximately a 91% chance that any particular Greek citizen's identity has been stolen. That number is high enough that it seems reasonable to say that somebody just stole an entire country's identity, and to use italics to do it.

If You're Greek, Someone Probably Just Stole Your Identity

Apps for Kids podcast featured on NPR's Morning Edition


My nine-year-old daughter Jane and I were interviewed about Apps for Kids on NPR's morning edition, which aired this morning.

Thanksgiving is Thursday, and that means more than 43 million Americans will be on the road, driving to family gatherings. For many parents, the crowded roads can bring another challenge: Keeping a 9-year-old entertained along the way. And sometimes, DVDs are not enough. These days, kids love to tinker with smartphones and tablets, as well.

With that in mind, NPR's Renee Montagne spoke with an actual 9-year-old, Jane Frauenfelder, and her father, Mark. Together, they host the podcast Apps for Kids.

For Holiday Road Trips, Apps That Promise Diversions For Kids

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Timothy Ferriss: Cheat Sheets for Everything

This post sponsored by Timothy Ferriss's The 4-Hour Chef:

NewImageTimothy Ferriss's new book The 4-Hour Chef isn’t just a cookbook. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure guide to the world of rapid learning. Here's an excerpt:


CHEAT SHEETS FOR EVERYTHING

Any subject can be overwhelming. Magazines have to fill editorial space month after month with “new” recommendations and the result is predictable: clashing recommendations, uncertainty, information deluge, and opting out.

To stem the tide, I have a constant checkpoint posted over the walkway into my atrium: Simplify.

Above the sign rests the beautiful and brutal Nepalese khukuri, a curved knife symbolic of the legendary Gurkha military regiments. Field marshal Sam Manekshaw, a former chief of staff of the Indian Army, was quoted as saying: “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gurkha.” The blade is in my home to remind me of the importance of decision. The word decision, closely related to incision, derives from the meaning “a cutting off.”

Making effective decisions—and learning effectively—requires massive elimination and the removal of options.

The easiest way to avoid being overwhelmed is to create positive constraints: Put walls that dramatically restrict whatever it is that you’re trying to do.

Read the rest

Short film about Safecast, the hackerspace-created, crowdsource radioactivity monitoring project

Safecast is a "global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements to empower people with data about their environments, which has become the largest project of its kind in history." Our friend Sean Bonner is one of the leaders of this cool citizen science effort. This video is in the running to win a $200,000 award. If you like it, vote for it!

Fact-checking US patent-boss's defense of his job



This week, David Kappos, head of the US Patent and Trademark Office, gave a speech at the Center for American Progress where he dismissed critics of the patent system, telling them to "give it a rest already." He insisted that his office was doing a great job, and was the center of American innovation, citing various stats to back up his claim.

On Ars Technica, Timothy Lee does a masterful job of fact-checking the patent boss's claims, driving a Mack truck through the logical flaws in his argument:

"Our patent system is the envy of the world," Kappos said. In his view, the key question in the patent debate is "do we demand today's innovation on the cheap via a weaker patent system that excludes subject matter, or do we moderate today's consumption with a strong patent system so our children enjoy greater innovations?"

This argument ducks the central question in the software patent debate: do patents, in fact, provide a net incentive for innovation in the software industry? Many entrepreneurs say that just the opposite is true: that the disincentive to innovation created by the threat of patent litigation dwarfs any positive incentive effects created by the ability for a firm to get patents of its own.

Empirical evidence backs this up. For example, in a 2008 book, the researchers James Bessen and Michael Meurer found that for nonchemical patents, the costs of patent litigation began to exceed the benefits of holding patents in the 1990s. Software and business patents were particularly prone to litigation.

More recent research has estimated that litigation by patent trolls costs the economy at least $29 billion per year, and that figure may be as high as $83 billion.

US patent chief to software patent critics: "Give it a rest already"

Fiona Apple cancels tour to care for dog

Dogster has the full text of Fiona Apple's beautiful letter to her fans regarding her dog's illness and her inability to travel for the time being. "She's my best friend and my mother and my daughter, my benefactor, and she's the one who taught me what love is. I can't come to South America. Not now."