Boing Boing 

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


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

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.


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


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:


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."

Amanda Visell's handcarved Muppets

NewImage Amanda Visell's new Muppet Show Wood Idols drive me wild!

Russian man reads longest word in English language

Here's Dmitry Golubovskiy, CEO of Esquire Russia, reading the longest word in Englis. It's the chemical name for titin, and it runs to 189,819 letters. It takes him 3:33 to read the whole thing. Here's a bit of it:


The Longest Word in English (Pronounced) (via Geekologie)

Copyright troll tries to use TorrentFreak to intimidate victims, TorrentFreak changes the site to empower them to resist trolling

Prena Law, a notorious porno copyright troll sent out a blackmail letter to victims that included the URL of a TorrentFreak article describing one of the rare cases in which someone stood up to a troll and lost. TorrentFreak felt that this was misleading, and resented being used as part of a sleazy scheme, so they replaced the article with a page explaining how copyright trolls work, and how to defend yourself against them.

Porno copyright trolls are companies that sends out legal threats to people, claiming they were downloading porn with embarrassing titles and demanding money not to permanently associate their names with porn by naming them in lawsuits. Thousands and thousands of people have been victimized by them.

We redirected the URL referenced by Prenda to a page with information about these mass-BitTorrent lawsuits.

So, instead of being scared by an article about a $1.5 million judgment, Internet bill payers can inform themselves about the steps they can take to respond to the settlement letter.

The page in question explains that increasingly judges are condemning the practices of copyright trolls, and that many mass lawsuits have been thrown out. Just recently a judge designated Prenda’s ways as a “bad faith effort,” and dismissed one of their mass-BitTorrent lawsuits.

In addition to some much-needed balance we also included links to attorneys who are familiar with these lawsuits, plus links to other useful resources. Hopefully, this will enable a few of the victims to respond properly and resolve the matter without having to pay up.

TorrentFreak Trolls a Copyright Troll

Apps for Kids 33:

We review, an app and site for kids who want to make stuff and earn skills.

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 episode of Apps for Kids, we talk about an online makers' club app for iOS called It's free in the iTune store.

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.

Shameless self-promotion: Jamie reads original work at Monday Night Fan Fiction in NYC

In case you happen to be in the New York City area this coming Monday evening (November 26), I will be reading an original piece of work (in every sense of the phrase) for Monday Night Fan Fiction at Fontana's in New York's Chinatown. What is this, exactly? Well, it's simple: a friendly group of people with sick, sick minds and an affinity for terrible fan fiction have written and will read original and terrible (or wonderful) fan fiction in front of other people in public. It's a special kind of blast (that starts around 7:00 PM) because we're actually experiencing a renaissance, and we'd love for you to be a part of it! There's something for everyone, especially if you like filthy crossovers with Star Trek characters! Hope to see you there!

Man vs. escalator

You can go your own way
Go your own way
Tell me why
Everything turned around?

Texas judge questions tools that grab cellphone data from innocent people

The Wall Street Journal reports that a Texas judge is asking questions about whether investigators are providing courts with sufficient detail details on technlogies that allow them to grab data on all cellphones in a given area, including those of people who are most certainly innocent of any crime. Snip:
One of the investigative tools in question is something called a “cell tower dump,” which allows law enforcement to get information on all the phones in a given area at a given time.

In two cases, Magistrate Judge Brian Owsley rejected federal requests to allow the warrantless use of “stingrays” and “cell tower dumps,” two different tools that are used for cellphone tracking. The judge said the government should apply for warrants in the cases, but the attorneys had instead applied for lesser court orders.

Among the judge’s biggest concerns: that the agents and U.S. attorneys making the requests didn’t provide details on how the tools worked or would be used — and even seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.

3DS sues innovative new 3D printer company Formlabs & Kickstarter for patent infringement

3D Systems, one of the big, incumbent 3D printer makers, is suing Formlabs, an innovative new 3D printer company that prints in resin (see previous mentions), for patent infringement. They've also named Kickstarter to the suit.

3D Systems' complaint asserts that the sale and use of the Form 1 3D printers sold by Formlabs and Kickstarter infringe a U.S. patent relating to stereolithography. Formlabs sold the Form 1 3D printers to backers of its Kickstarter campaign in September and October 2012.

"3D Systems invented and pioneered the 3D printing technology of stereolithography and has many active patents covering various aspects of the stereolithography process," said Andrew Johnson, General Counsel of 3D Systems. "Although Formlabs has publicly stated that certain patents have expired, 3D Systems believes the Form 1 3D printer infringes at least one of our patents, and we intend to enforce our patent rights."

Many of the key patents in 3D printing start expiring in 2013, and will continue to lapse through '14 and '15. Expect a big bang of 3D printer innovation, and massive price-drops, in the years to come.

3D Systems Announces Filing of Patent Infringement Suit Against Formlabs and Kickstarter

Geared coconut clomper makes your bike sound like a horsie from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

You know what your bike needs? Laser-cut, geared coconut clompers that make it sound like you're riding a horse. That's what it needs.


For those about to opt-out: a TSA scanning machine cheat-sheet

As Cory notes in this pre-Thanksgiving travel day post, some travelers in America will be opting out of scanning machines in TSA lines for privacy concerns, or for health and safety reasons. I wanted to post a reminder, however, that there is more than one type of so-called "TSA full-body scanner" at use in our nation's airports, and not all of them emit ionizing radiation.

This PBS NewsHour story by Miles O'Brien (which I worked on, as a shooter/producer) breaks it down.

Here's the deal: The devices branded "Rapiscan" that look like a blue box are the backscatter devices. These are the controversial devices that emit ionizing radiation (though exactly how much, and whether that's safe, is debatable). They also store and transmit very clearly invasive images of your naked body.

The millimiter wave machines made by L3 that look like a Tardis do not emit ionizing radiation. By all means, go ahead and opt out of those too, if privacy and civil liberties are your primary concern and you believe these searches violate your rights. But the Rapiscan devices are the ones that cause radiation exposure health concerns, not the L3 millimeter wave devices.

Again, the Rapiscan backscatter machines (which cost our government around $200K each) are the ones that emit ionizing radiation and create an invasively clear image of your body ("pornoscanners"). The L3 millimeter wave devices do not.

As ProPublica reports, the Rapiscan devices are quietly disappearing from major airports in the US and showing up in storage warehouses. Nobody in the civilian world is really certain what's going on, but it does appear that the TSA/DHS are retiring the Rapiscan devices for which we taxpayers paid billions.

(Thanks for the explainer, Miles O'Brien!)

White House tells blind people: the MPAA says we have to kill your treaty, sorry.

Jamie Love from KEI sez, "During the WIPO negotiations on disabilities, the White House has told U.S. Blind groups it will kill a WIPO treaty on copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities if the treaty covers audiovisual works, including those used in education, including distance teaching programs. The fight at WIPO is being fought over the definition of a work. The US wants to limit the exceptions to works [in the form of text, notation and/or related illustrations], and opposes [in any media]. India, country with a large film industry, is among those who want to exceptions to cover audiovisual works, and India is supported by other countries. Brazil has suggested the decision on audiovisual works be left to national discretion. The US delegation has sent a tough message to the blind organizations, effectively threatening to kill the treaty is AV works are included."

Cooking in compost

A chef and a journalist meet up at Hardwick’s Highfields Center for Composting in Vermont, where rotting scraps of food and plant matter generate heat as they decompose. "In the process, the bacteria generate heat — so much that the depths of the largest, freshest compost heaps regularly reach 140, 150 or 160 degrees." And in that rotting heat, the chef and the journalist cook a meal. Foil-wrapped branzino cooked in compost. (Seven Days via s.e. smith)

Five reasons to opt out of TSA pornoscanners this weekend

Marilyn sez, "Chris Elliott gives 5 good reasons to participate in the Opt Out protest against the TSA's full-body scanners over this Thanksgiving weekend and so far, 65 percent of the people reading his column on Huffington Post say they will take part (including me)."

1. They're not adequately tested and could be dangerous. Unfortunately, the scanners you'll be asked to walk through haven't been properly tested. The latest independent evaluations are actually based on data provided by the TSA. The government wants us to trust it, but it won't give us a reason. That's unacceptable.

2. They're easily foiled. It's not difficult to sneak a weapon through a full-body scanner, according to several reports. The career criminals who might want to do us harm have figured out how to get around the scanners already.

3. They're too expensive. At a quarter of a million bucks a pop, the scanners are a huge waste of taxpayer money. To use one, or to allow one to be used on you, is is an endorsement of an iffy technology. It also lines the pockets of undeserving security contractors, say critics...

5 Reasons I'm Opting Out Of The TSA's Scanners (And You Should Too) (Thanks, Marilyn!)

1951 digital computer restored and rebooted


This is the Harwell Dekatron, aka Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation (WITCH), a 61-year-old machine that was rebooted yesterday to become "the world's oldest original working digital computer." Originally operated at the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment, it was moved in 1957 to Wolverhampton's Staffordshire Technical College where it was dubbed the WITCH. There it stayed until retirement in 1973 when it became a museum display before dismantling for storage. In 2008, the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park began to restore the valve-laden beast. "The world's oldest original working digital computer"

John Hodgman's video message to the readers of Boing Boing

Author John Hodgman describes his Complete World Knowledge Boxed Set, which will be available until the world ends on December 21, 2012.

The PAPERBACK edition of THAT IS ALL is also available as part of a special COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE BOXED SET, which set shall also include my previous books of fascinating fake trivia and made up true facts THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE and MORE INFORMATION THAN YOU REQUIRE —- all wrapped up in a protective, RAGNAROK PROOF box.
Complete World Knowledge Boxed Set, by John Hodgman